You know what we’re all really great at? Yo-yo dieting.
We jump into every new diet with excitement and anticipation, and tell ourselves that this time we’ll lose the weight for good. We start eating healthier and exercising more, and we gleefully watch as the pounds begin melting away.
But as time goes on, obstacles begin popping up.
Maybe our diet is too restrictive, and we start having cravings for the foods we’ve left behind. Or maybe our circumstances change in unforeseen ways, and it becomes harder to maintain our new routines.
As our weight loss inevitably starts to slow, we begin questioning our choices. We start feeling resigned and discouraged, and wonder why we’re sticking with a plan that isn’t getting us results. Eventually (or sometimes far too soon) we throw in the towel, go back to our old ways, and watch as the weight slowly creeps back on.
So what can we do?
How do we break this cycle of weight loss and regain?
It comes down to one important piece of the weight loss puzzle that’s usually missed: our mindset. When we’re feeling motivated and ready to jump on the healthy eating train, we don’t stop to consider the preconceived ideas and beliefs we have about weight loss and health.
But how we think and feel about dieting and weight loss has a big impact on our success. It can be the difference between a plateau feeling like a minor inconvenience, or an insurmountable obstacle; a healthy diet feeling like a deprivation, or a source of energy. Our mindset affects our entire experience, and sometimes, a new way of looking at things is all we need.
So if you’re ready to lose that weight for good, here are 3 mindset shifts that will help you get there:
Mindset #1: I want to lose weight as quickly as possible
This one right here is a biggie. People tend to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to weight loss; they decide they want to lose weight, and they want to see that weight loss yesterday!
It’s a completely understandable mindset to have though. Shows like “The Biggest Loser” and weight loss surgeries have completely skewed our perception of what normal weight loss looks like. We think if we’re not losing 10lb per week we’ve failed!
The truth is, if we want to lose weight and keep it off, slow and steady is the way to go.
And that doesn’t mean there’s some magical (or even physiological) reason that slow and steady works better; slow and steady works better simply because it gives us time to really change our habits.
Knowing that it could take 1-2 years to lose 100lb puts us in a completely different mindset than thinking it will only take 10 weeks. After 10 weeks we could easily revert back to our normal routines, but after 2 years it’s much less likely to happen.
Instead of thinking that you want to lose weight as quickly as possible, set a realistic timeline. Aim for 0.5-2lb weight loss per week, and calculate how long that will actually take.
Mindset #2: I can’t eat bad foods
Here’s another one that comes up all the time. For some reason, we get it in our heads that if we’re going to eat healthy, we have to eat 100% healthy ALL THE TIME. That means we can never have desserts or chips again, and don’t even think about bread!
This mindset is so unhelpful because it’s setting us up for failure. No one is perfect, and it’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to stick to this strict way of eating 100% of the time. Plus when we don’t stick to it, we feel like a failure and lose the motivation to keep going.
Thinking this way results in a constant state of either deprivation or guilt – we feel deprived when we can’t eat the foods we want, and we feel guilty when we do. There’s no space for us to feel happy or content, which makes it all the more challenging for us to stick to this way of eating for long.
Instead of thinking that certain foods are off-limits, think about how you can improve the overall nutritional quality of your diet. This means focusing on eating mostly whole foods, while still leaving room for the not-so-healthy foods that you crave.
Mindset #3: Nothing works for me
This is the most unhelpful mindset of all! If we keep telling ourselves that nothing works, how likely are we to try something new?
When we think this way, we’re essentially feeling resigned before we even begin. This then causes us to overemphasize our failures and de-value our successes. It also makes it SO MUCH easier for us to give up at the slightest hint of a challenge.
So instead of insisting to yourself (and others) that nothing will help you lose weight, start experimenting. Test out different approaches and see what happens. Notice your accomplishments and achievements, and brainstorm ways to work around roadblocks. Go into it with an open mind, and see what’s really possible when it comes to losing weight.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.