Have you ever started a weight loss program thinking, “this is it, this time I’m going to do it” only to find that sticking to it becomes more and more difficult with each day that goes by? Have you ever said, “I’m going to start on Monday” only to find that Monday comes and goes and that weight loss program you vowed to start is still on the To Do list?
The Right Mindset
Having the right mindset is the foundation of any successful weight loss journey. If you start out halfheartedly, chances are your efforts will be half-hearted and you’ll decide that the program just doesn’t work. It’s not the program that doesn’t work, it’s that you haven’t approached it with the right mindset.
I have tried to “diet” more times than I can count, starting on Monday, starting again the next Monday, saying today is the day, and so on. I realized I wasn’t going to be successful in the long-term until I had my head in the right place. In recent years I was overweight and knew I needed to do something about it. I also knew it wasn’t going to work until I had the right mindset.
One day something clicked. I realized that I wasn’t happy and the thing that was causing that unhappiness was my weight. On January 21, 2017 I decided this is it, I’m going to do this, I’m going to put everything I have into this, and I’m going to be successful. I went into it with the right mindset and have achieved amazing success.
You might be saying to yourself, I’ve had that positive mindset, that feeling that I want to be successful and I still haven’t been able to do it. While mindset is the key to getting started, it isn’t something that just takes care of itself. It isn’t a “set it and forget it” thing. It needs to be constantly revisited and cultivated.
We all have bad days, stressful days, moments when all we want to do is dive face-first into a sheet cake. It’s those times when you need your mindset the most. Losing weight takes time and energy, nothing can go on autopilot. I have found that the following six factors make up the foundation for finding, keeping, and maintaining the right mindset:
1. Setting goals at the beginning
Really dig in and ask yourself the tough questions:
- What are my goals? What do I want to achieve?
- Why do I want to meet that goal? What do I hope to get out of it?
- What am I willing to do to attain it? Am I willing to put in the work to realize my dreams?
2. Checking in regularly
If I’m feeling like I want to take my fork and head to the bakery I ask myself why. What is happening in my life that is causing me to feel that way? It’s never hunger, it’s always something like stress or sadness or something that is taking an emotional toll on me. Once I figure out what that is, I can address it and deal with it.
3. Establishing a support system
When I finally decided I wanted to lose weight, I enlisted the help of my husband. I told him I wanted to join Weight Watchers and finally lose the weight but that I would need his help and support. He was 100% behind me and said he would do whatever he could to support me. I am incredibly lucky to have that kind of support at home because I know there are many people who don’t have that.
I read so many stories about non-supportive families or spouses or friends or co-workers and it breaks my heart. If you don’t have the support you need at home, find it somewhere else. Go online and find a forum where you can talk to people going through the same thing. Call a friend. E-mail me if you want, I’m always here to help and be supportive of anybody who needs it.
4. Losing the all or nothing approach
Many of us go into weight loss with the thinking that we have to do everything perfectly all the time. This is not a realistic approach and will inevitably lead to failure. We have to learn to forgive ourselves. Accept the misstep, forgive ourselves, and move on. I used to be a very all-or-nothing person until I finally realized it’s not a realistic approach. We are all human, we all make missteps, they are going to happen.
There will always be the celebrations and the holidays and the random Thursday night when food is the focus. Sometimes we stick with our plan and sometimes we don’t. The most important step is the very next one after you’ve made a misstep. Do you say forget it, I goofed up, I’m just going to go eat everything I can get my hands on. Or do you say, yes that happened, no it’s not ideal, but I’m going to accept it, forgive myself, and move on. Nobody is perfect and the sooner we learn how to forgive ourselves the more successful we will be.
5. Committing to the long-term
Losing weight is not a finite thing that has an end date. It is something you need to be mindful of every day. In past attempts at losing weight I would lose the weight, hit my goal weight, and think “hooray, I made it, I can eat whatever I want now” only to gain the weight back.
I think of weight loss as a two-phased approach – losing the weight and maintaining that loss. Neither phase has an end date and I find myself switching back and forth between actively trying to lose weight and maintaining what I’ve already lost. While it’s not the thing most people want to hear, it is probably the most important part of this whole process.
6. Finding your happiness
When I started this last weight loss journey I had goals, I had plans, I knew what I needed to do and worked hard at it every single day. Over the course of about ten months I was able to lose almost 70 pounds and I felt amazing. I kept at it and managed to maintain successfully through the holidays. February came along and things took a different turn.
I had lost my mojo for losing weight and I didn’t know why. There were some things going on in my personal life that affected my emotional state and I was dealing with that. I wasn’t thrilled with my job and was getting bored with what I was doing. My anxiety was through the roof as a result of these things going on in my life. I took some time and tried to figure out why all of a sudden I wasn’t able to commit like I had previously.
My unhappiness and boredom at my job were weighing me down more than I realized. I didn’t feel like I had purpose, wasn’t doing something that felt meaningful, and didn’t have a career that was bringing me happiness. I set out to change that. Quitting my job right away wasn’t a possibility but coming up with a side project was.
I thought about the things I enjoy doing and ways to incorporate those into a side project. That was what fueled the creation of this blog. I wanted to take something important to me to A) find a creative outlet and B) help other people by sharing what I’ve learned through my own experiences. Once I committed to this project, my weight loss fell right back into place.
Losing weight is not an easy process but it can be done when you have the right tools and techniques and know how to use them. The right mindset is the foundation upon which any successful weight loss journey is based.