Updated: Apr. 21, 2024

“I just don’t get it. I’ve tried so many things – everything my doctor tells me to do and more! But no matter what I do, I can’t lose weight. What is wrong with me?” That’s what Betty said the first time she came to see me.

I assured Betty that there was nothing wrong with her. Weight loss is a complicated issue, and the number one concern of so many of my clients.

I’ve seen woman after woman come in frustrated and feeling hopeless after trying everything they can think of to lose unwanted pounds. Their doctors keep telling them it’s all about diet and exercise, but they’ve tried that, and still nothing happens!

It’s absolutely true that a healthy, balanced diet and physical activity are key components to any good weight loss regimen, there’s another important factor that is often ignored by health care professionals: Mindset. The way that we think about weight loss (and our lives in general) – can either help or hinder our progress.

The past few years have been crazy, and we’re all still trying to recover from it. A pandemic, political unrest, and a changing world that’s hard to understand can all lead to immense stress. And while it may seem like stressful times aren’t ideal for taking control of your weight, I say that it’s the best time.

To do so, however, you need to be open to shifting your mindset and realizing that you have more power than you think.

In his 2017 book The Overweight Mind, certified nutrition specialist and personal trainer Jay Nixon tackled this very topic. He asserts that only about 20% of weight-loss success is mechanical (what you eat, how often you exercise) and the rest is mental.

I wholeheartedly agree that if you ignore the emotional side of weight loss, and don’t address the mindset with which you approach your weight loss journey, success is hard to come by.

Which Weight Loss Puzzle Pieces Are You Missing?

There are some small shifts that you can make in the way you think about your body, your weight, and your life to help you create long lasting change.

Recognize that you are in charge

Whatever program you are following to lose weight, you know your own needs better than anyone else. You also know what will work – and what won’t work – for YOU. That’s why I offer information, support, and individualized plans to the women I work with. A generic eating plan won’t take into account your unique circumstances, genetics, and lifestyle. Nor will a “one size fits all” exercise plan.

It’s important that you understand how your circumstances impact your ability to follow through on a weight loss program. If your genetics, for instance, dictate that you (like me) need a low-fat diet and you’re doing a high-fat, low carb program, it’s very unlikely that you will succeed.

Similarly, if you hate to run, but have convinced yourself that’s the only way to stay in shape, you may not do any exercise at all. But remember, you are in control here, so find a form of physical activity that you truly enjoy rather than following someone else’s idea of what works. Anything that gets you moving will have a greater impact than doing no physical activity at all.

Harness your fear

Don’t let fear guide you; If you do, you might end up cowering in a corner unable to change a thing. Fear can be a great motivator – but you have to think about it in a different way in order to push through it.

Don’t think of fear as something that stops you; think of it as information to be listened to. Try to determine what it is that is making you fearful. Is it fear of failure, and feeling even worse than you do now? Or are you afraid that you’ll finally lose the weight and your life won’t change at all?

Correctly identifying your fear is essential. You can’t fight against something you don’t recognize! Once you understand where your anxiety is coming from, you can seek the right support. Share your fear with others; Acknowledging what you are afraid of allows you to ask for help.

Don’t buy into the “more exercise is better” mindset

So many women say they exercise constantly, so they don’t understand why they aren’t losing any weight. But too much exercise can be just as damaging as not getting any at all. If your hormones are imbalanced, working out too vigorously can cause your body to hang onto that extra weight. It’s a survival response!

Stop spending hours each day exercising, and start doing shorter workouts with higher intensity. Burst training is something I recommend to my clients, especially if they’ve been working too hard for too long. With burst training, a twenty-minute workout can be all you need.

Stop thinking of yourself as “broken”

One of the most important things you can do for your health is to stop seeing yourself as damaged or broken. You are worthy right now. You are special exactly as you are. Losing weight won’t add to your value. If your internal conversation is constantly focused on what is wrong with you, it’s hard to acknowledge anything you’re doing right. Give yourself more credit than that!

Flip your internal script

Seeing yourself in a negative light, sets you up for health problems. Not only can negative self-talk (that voice you hear in your head, telling you that you failed, or you’re not good enough) drive you to the cupboards for comfort in the form of sugar and carbohydrates, but it can actually cause metabolic changes that make losing weight more difficult.

Research has shown that cortisol, which is secreted by your adrenal glands whenever you put yourself down or worry about your weight, can increase fat in the belly region– even in otherwise thin women. Research has also demonstrated that being dissatisfied with their bodies makes women more likely to avoid exercise. And some research has shown that just thinking that you weigh too much can predict future weight gain. So negative thoughts have real power and can lead to exactly the opposite of what you hope to achieve.

But here’s some good news…positive thoughts have power too! A small study in 1991 demonstrated a correlation between positive expectations and weight loss. In a 2010 review of literature researchers concluded that positive thinking affects perceptions of stress, which determines coping strategies. This evidence supported the researcher’s conceptual model that positive thinking causes successful health outcomes by increasing the ability to deal with stressors effectively.

Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare

Losing weight is not a sprint – it’s a marathon. I’m sure I’m not the first person you’ve heard say that but take some time to stop and think about what that really means. If you wanted to run a marathon, you wouldn’t simply sign up and show up – you’d train hard, for quite a long time. When it comes to weight loss, you need to do the same. Huge goals don’t come to fruition overnight. But you CAN get started right now. Small moves toward a goal will get you where you want to be eventually – and when you take the time to do it right, you’ll STAY there.

Make a list of some small steps you can take – and then choose one. Maybe it’s a walk around the block every night, or a healthy meal instead of fast food. Perhaps you can commit to snacking on fruits and vegetables only at night, instead of reaching for a bag of chips. Maybe you’ll have one glass of wine instead of two. Whatever it is, forget all the rest and focus on the one you choose. When that feels easy you can tackle another.

When it comes to weight loss, an all or nothing mindset simply doesn’t work. You are far more likely to succeed in making permanent changes if you change one habit at a time – big or small.

Understand that Fad Diets are NOT the answer

We’ve all heard about some crazy fads that pop up – eat nothing but cabbage soup; eat only grapefruit; drink only lemon water with cayenne pepper; drink black coffee only. I could go on and on – people have been coming up with zany ideas for losing weight quickly for decades.

Here’s the biggest problem with fad diets (aside from getting REALLY tired of eating/drinking only one thing). They’re unsustainable and often cause weight GAIN in the long run. Talk about defeating the purpose!

Short term behavior modification won’t result in long term weight loss. If you haven’t changed the habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place, it’s very likely that any pounds you drop will return quickly. That’s why my next point is so important.

Focus on good health and behavior, not numbers or looks

Checking the scale constantly can drive you crazy, especially if the numbers aren’t moving as quickly as you had hoped. And concentrating on how you look rather than how you feel can end up frustrating you so much that you quit trying altogether.

If you’re doing a formal weight loss program, weighing in might be part of the plan – but do so ONLY at the suggested time, not several times throughout a day. Remember, the scale only measures that one moment in time. While that number can be a source of information, the way you feel tells you a whole lot more.

The media has lied to women for decades about what is realistic in terms of the way we look. Magazines photoshop pictures of already too thin models, and camera angles are manipulated to make people look their absolute best. Instead of striving for an unattainable “look”, focus on how your health is improving – can you play ball with your children longer without feeling out of breath? Are your aches and pains subsiding? Do you have more energy when you wake up in the morning?

Behavioral goals are far more important than specific numbers. Remember – we’re all built differently, and an ideal weight for your best friend – even if she’s exactly the same height as you – may not be your ideal weight. When you focus on changing behaviors, you’re focusing on things easily in your own control. Set small goals like skipping the fast food, cooking at home instead of ordering out, passing on dessert, eating only when sitting at the table, or changing your snacking habits.

You should also know that just a 3% change in body weight can make a huge difference to your overall health. That includes improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes control. That’s why small shifts can be so impactful.

Quick shifts you can make to change your mindset and start losing weight

Big shifts in behavior and mindset take time, but there are some things you can do immediately to get yourself started on the right path. Here are 11 positive mindset shifts to remind yourself of frequently:

  1. Good health matters more than numbers.
  2. Small steps can lead to big results – setting mini-goals is essential!
  3. With patience I can reach my big goals.
  4. Loving what I eat and how I exercise will keep me on the right path.
  5. There is no deadline for achieving good health.
  6. Think of solutions, not excuses.
  7. I can address stress with deep breathing instead of food.
  8. Food is fuel, not a reward or punishment.
  9. When I notice negative thoughts, I can stop them.
  10. I need to treat myself like I treat my best friend.
  11. When I meet my goals, I will finally be able to (run with my dog, play with my kids, dance all night, etc.)

Transforming your weight – and your entire life – is absolutely possible, if you’re willing to take control and recognize the power to change that lies within you. You have everything you need already. It’s time to learn to trust yourself more.

My weight loss program is different from many because I look at the complete picture – what you eat, how you exercise, and how you think. I am committed to helping you confront and address the emotional side of eating and the mindset shifts necessary to succeed. My program is about empowering you to change your own life – and lose weight while you do so. For a risk-free consultation, go to marcellepick/drop20-in-6.com.





https://www.npr.org/2019/04/25/717059239/a-saner-mindset-for-weight-loss – 2019