What is the difference between someone who is achieving their weight-loss and health goals and someone who isn’t? It’s not their metabolic rate or genes. EVERYONE has the ability to achieve their weight loss goals; it may be at different rates or using different techniques, but everyone has the strength within them to achieve a healthy weight and keep it off.
What’s the secret?
It’s all in your head!
A significant part of achieving weight loss is getting yourself in the right mindset that will get you to commit to your goals and consistently stay committed so you don’t fall off the bandwagon.
A study published in the Obesity Reviews Journal listed a series of phycological factors that determine success in achieving weight loss and keeping it off. These include:
- Internal motivation to lose weight
- Social support from friends and family
- Better coping strategies and ability to handle life stress
- Self-efficacy (a belief in your capacity to achieve your goals)
- Autonomy or independence
- Assuming responsibility in life
- Overall more psychological strength and stability
According to the study, history and habits associated with less success in achieving weight loss include a history of weight fluctuations, eating disorders, eating in response to negative emotions, and binge eating. Note that you find that you have struggled with any of these issues, you may need to seek out professional help.
In most cases, however, the changes needed to be made in your mindset can be encouraged with some techniques some of which we will review below.
10 Psychological Tips To Help You Lose Weight and Keep It Off
1. Decide why you want to lose weight
Ideally, your motivator will be something that will help you in the long-term, like achieving overall health, to have more energy, improving your self-esteem, to be a positive role model for you children, etc. Short-term goals, like wanting to fit into a dress for you high school reunion may motivate you in the short-term but once the even is over and you haven’t set another goal, it will be easier to gain the weight back. Long-term goals will also help you to choose the healthiest forms to lose weight, rather than turning to extreme diets. Self-motivation is the key.
2. Set a concrete and realistic goal and a timeline
If you just decide you want to lose “some weight”, you won’t know when you have achieved your goal. It is recommended that you set an appointment with a registered nutritionist and dietician to see what is a realistic and healthy goal for you, and to give you the techniques needed to achieve it. Note that healthy weight loss is equivalent to losing 1 to 2 pounds a week – any diet that promises losing 10 lbs in a week is likely too extreme and unsustainable.
3. Create visual goals
Don’t bother posting a picture of someone else you would like to look like in your bathroom. It is impossible for anyone to look like anyone else, and comparing ourselves to someone else’s best can be unhealthy. Instead, envision yourself in your own body, but stronger and leaner. Write down your weight loss goal, whether in pounds, measurements, in body composition, or simply reaching a certain flexibility or strength goal, and put them somewhere where you will see them on a daily basis.
4. Start a food diary
You can do this in a notebook, or download an app that will help you track your meals. These will help you determine whether you are eating too much, or if you aren’t getting an adequate nutrient balance. It will also help your nutritionist determine what your current eating habits are and how they can be improved. Make sure to make note of how you feel before and after each meal, as well as in-between meals and snacks.
5. Are you really hungry?
Often, we eat for other reasons other than hunger, including stress, anxiety, boredom, or even thirst. If you catch yourself rummaging through the pantry for something to eat, as yourself if you are really hungry. Think about when the last time you ate or drank something was. If you just ate an hour ago, it is probably not really hunger you are feeling. Sometimes, we confuse the feeling of hunger and thirst, and drinking a glass of water may alleviate the compulsion to eat.
6. Eat mindfully
Mindfulness while eating means noticing the colors, textures, smells, and flavors of your food, as well as how much you are eating and how fast you eat. When you sit down for a meal, put away the phone and turn off the T.V. focus on your food, the speed at which you eat, how fast you chew, and enjoy the food yourself. Being distracted promotes mindless eating, and the mind-gut connection is more easily lost, making it harder for you to feel full.
Harvard University Medical School published an article that highlights a small but growing body of literature that shows how mindful eating can be an important aid to weight loss.
7. Find a rhythm and stay with it
Try to be consistent with the time you eat each meal, go to sleep, and do exercise everyday. By being organized with your self-care to-dos, it will be easier to create a habit out of healthier choices that will promote weight loss, and it will be harder to find an excuse not to do it.
8. Find a friend or family member as a support
Having social support as you go through your weight loss journey is an important factor for most people to achieve their weight loss goals. There is a sense of accountability to the other person who may or may not be participating losing weight as well, and they will help to motivate you when you can’t find the internal motivation to make good food and exercise choices.
9. No excuse policy
Commit to not allowing yourself to find excuses. No cheat days – just healthy days. If its about creating a healthy lifestyle, you have to be consistent about the choices you make. If you find it is causing significant stress in your life, it is likely your goals are too ambitious. Make sure you set goals you can stick to, and don’t allow yourself to make any excuses. If you have trouble doing this on your own, you can turn to your family or friend to support you. Remember, YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOU
10. Sleep well
People who do not get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight, and their risk for diabetes and heart disease increases. Getting enough sleep will help to relieve stress, will alleviate impulses for snacking late at night, and will help you maintain healthy weight.
Getting into the right mindset is the hardest part of weight loss. Once you have found your internal motivation to lose weight, have found an effective routine, and implemented techniques that will help you stay in that mindset, most of the work to get to a healthy weight is done. Staying consistent with this over time will lead to you achieving your goal, keeping off the weight, and staying healthy in the long run.