Permanent weight loss requires a lot of change. And for most, change is difficult. You have to change what and how much you eat. You have to change your activity and exercise habits. You might have to change your sleeping habits, daily schedule and shopping habits. That's a lot of change!
However, the most important changes you can make aren't about what you do, but rather how you think. If you don't change your mindset, there's an awfully good chance you won't change your body—and certainly not for the long term.
People who have reached weight-loss goals and kept off the pounds often experience mindset shifts. They think differently than they did before. Here are some common attitudes and beliefs that show up time and time again when talking with successful "losers."
They believe they can do it.
Successful dieters are responsible for—and in control of—their destiny, and fully committed to getting there. They have a clear vision of how they want to live their lives: healthy, vibrant and active. They strongly believe in the possibility and permanence of that vision, and they are confident they can achieve it. Exercising and eating healthy aren't things they do only when it's convenient, but they do them no matter what. They recognize their results are dependent on their own actions, not other people's actions or outside circumstances.
They are proactive rather than reactive.
Successful dieters think in advance about how they will eat and exercise during the upcoming day. If they know they need to go to the gym straight from work, they make sure their gym bag is packed and in the car. When they anticipate having a hectic day at work, they pack a healthy lunch from home. They look at restaurant menus online before getting there to identify the best choices beforehand. They take time at the beginning of each week to plan their meals, figure out when they can get to the grocery store and schedule their exercise. And they always have a Plan B so they can stay on track when something unexpected happens.
They are disciplined.
Despite not always wanting to do what needs to be done, successful dieters do it anyway. There are plenty of times they don't feel like working out or taking the time to prepare meals. Whether it's exercise, skipping dessert or cooking a healthy dinner rather than calling in for takeout, they do it. Their minds are always focused on their vision. It's not about how they feel right now. It's about what they want for their future selves.
They share their goals and plans.
Successful dieters stand up for themselves without apology. Their friends and family are aware that they value taking good care of themselves and keeping the weight off. Sometimes they'll miss happy hour with the gang to go to the gym, or request that friends choose a healthier restaurant. Successful dieters are not embarrassed or sorry for speaking up. They also know they don't need to go it alone. When they are feeling vulnerable, they ask for help.
They are resilient.
When they stumble or fall down, successful dieters pick themselves up and creatively figure out how to move on. Life throws curveballs all the time, but they aren't reasons to throw away healthy habits. They know that self-soothing with food or TV won't solve any problems. They deal with the reality of the situation and creatively work toward overcoming adversity.
They have self-compassion.
When here are times when things don't go as well as they'd like, successful dieters simply do their best. When they slip up, they look at it as one individual episode, not a pattern that will lead to disaster. A "lapse" does not mean collapse. They do not beat themselves up if a few pounds creep back on. The scale does not define them. It doesn't make them good or bad. It only registers whether or not they are on track to reach their goals. If not, they recalculate.
Sustained weight loss requires a new mindset. In order to be successful, you must resist looking in the mirror and still seeing the old you. Permanent success requires you to think and act like a fit, healthy person even before reaching your goal. If it initially feels awkward, remember the old adage, "Fake it 'til you make it." The more you behave and think like a successful dieter, the sooner you will be one. Ultimately, being healthy will become part of your identity.