For years, I have gone mad about what kind of foods to eat and what to avoid during my initial cycles of weight loss journey. Eventually, I learnt my way that the most important factor is to develop a positive mindset for weight loss that gives long term benefits. Let’s look into a few strategies to tackle the mental side of it.
Weight loss happens when you spend more calories than you eat. Its that simple. However, there is a lot involved in between these two elements. There are plenty of guides available all over the internet on what to eat and whatnot, which kind of exercise to choose and what burns more calories. But what is more important before getting into this whole eating and exercise game is that our M I N D S E T.
If you don’t have enough time to read the entire article here is a little video I made on setting a positive mindset for weight loss .
Why did I gain weight?
This is the number one question to ask ourselves before we even think about losing any weight. Coz more than in any diets or exercise you will find half of the solution in this answer you tell to yourself.
For example, every time I gained excess weight I knew it was either the overeating or neglecting my body needs and not giving any physical exercise to it. There were several reasons ranging stress from professional and personal life to laziness but deep inside I always knew that my eating habits were going to give me excess pounds down the line. We all feel helpless at times and that’s life but the important takeaway is to find out the reason and drill down the strategies to overcome them. For example,
- I ate lots of chocolate and chips during my stress cycles those lasted for several months.
- I was stuck to bed for a long time with either little or no movement.
So I clearly knew what I had to do when I decided to lose weight. Similarly, you might have your own reasons which are not limited to below list
- Health Issues
- Stress due to personal or professionals issues
- Mental health problems
- Long hours of working
- General laziness
- Eating junk out of boredom
- Bad eating habits
- No exercise
Action Item Take a notebook and list down your own reasons for the weight gain. This way we will get into self-help mode than to feel powerless seeing yourself in the mirror, we need to find out the root cause first in order to craft a solution.
This one needs a little bit conscious effort in training your mind. You may feel very restless once you begin to realise that you are having loads of excess weight to lose. You may beat yourself and frustrated thinking how you allowed yourself to be in this unhealthy state. Frustration may go to peaks when your old clothes no longer fit your new body or every time you miss to catch the bus unable to walk quicker or struggle to fit into a bus or train seat. This is where setting a positive mindset for weight loss helps.
These feelings are absolutely normal. One thing to keep in mind is that you haven’t gained this weight overnight and the same applies for the loss too. You have to accept the reality that you may look unappealing to yourself (health-wise) and none of your old clothes could fit you until some time. There is no reason to hate yourself or your body which has been carrying your soul since you were born. You have to nourish it like a baby. Also if we hate it, how can you and your body work together?
Action Item Tell to yourself that this body of yours is scared no matter how it looks and you both are a team! Acknowledge your feelings to a close friend if you identify yourself hating your body and feeling frustrated.
Why do I want to lose weight?
Setting a mindset for weight loss means asking yourself this question more often throughout your fitness journey. The reasons are two-fold –
Extrinsic Losing weight for a marriage, party, beach holiday etc. These are very short term and may not be good motivating factors in the long run. Of course, we want to look good in that event but our efforts will get stopped once the event is done and dusted. You may come back to the old self when you stop eating healthy or exercising.
Intrinsic Example of this is to feel good about yourself, realizing the power of a healthy body(and mind). Like you can feel confident about yourself, being able to play with your kids, picking up your favourite hobby again like badminton etc. These are the reasons that can keep you on a sustainable fitness journey that is beyond weight loss.
Action Item List your reasons to lose weight. Think about where you may end up after fulfilling your extrinsic goals. Find out your intrinsic intentions and try to make them a priority.
Make smart goals
We want our mindset for weight loss to be smart enough. That means setting smart goals. Now, what are the smart goals for weight loss?
Specific Rather than simply telling I want to lose weight which is broad, make it specific. You need a certain milestone to channelise your efforts properly.
I want to lose 5 kg or 12 inches or certain fat percentage.
Measurable Your weight loss goal should be measurable. It need not be weighing scale but can be fitting into certain size clothes or be able to play badminton without huffing and puffing etc.
Like I want to lose 5 kgs or get myself fit into size 12 from size 20 and am going use a measuring tape or weigh scale to track my progress.
Attainable In order for your weight loss goals to work you need to revisit your past. Keeping a goal of coming to size 6 may not be attainable if you have always been at size 10 in the past. You can alter your goal again once you reach size 10 of course.
I want to lose 5 kg and will measure my progress using a weighing scale or tape. Once I achieve this goal I will then set up a new goal again if required to reduce a few more kilos.
Realistic Now you can’t expect your goal to be too fancy, Like losing 5 kilos in a week. That’s not simply realistic. Neither trying to lose so much weight soon after having a baby. You may be super tired and also needs to concentrate on several other things . The weight loss goals should be relevant and realistic to your circumstances.
I want to lose 5 kg and will measure myself using a weighing scale or tape. Once I achieve this goal I will then set up a new goal again if required to reduce a few more kilos.I want to reduce it in probably 1 or 2 months or once I stop my baby feeding etc
Time-bound Any goal should have a time limit so as weight loss. Losing 1lb or 2lb weight per week is reasonable. Keeping time-specific goals helps you track your progress and correct any mistakes periodically.
Visualise your goals
This one is a great little technique that worked wonders for me. Whenever I feel low and demotivated I imagine myself fitting into nice lycras or a good summer dress. One other thing that motivates me is visualizing myself cracking another marathon. This is a really powerful free tool that can give you heaps of energy and motivation. Find your motivation factors and visualise yourself chasing them.
Action Item Find some peaceful time like before sleeping or early morning, relax your mind and visualize yourself where you want to be. Thank me later!
Tackle negative emotions
How do you set your mindset for weight loss if negative emotions rule you? Life is hard and we all need to face stress at some point. It is inevitable. Check if you are trying to replace any voidness in life with food, are you reaching out to food when you are under stress? Negative emotions make certain hormones go crazy. We need to be armed with strategies to tackle negative emotions.
- go for a walk or even window shopping to divert your mood
- Make some healthy crisps or mug cakes to minimize the calories.
- Go meet up your friends and share your feelings to lessen the mental burden.
Which diet? Which exercise? strength training or cardio for weight loss? Why is that particular diet worked for your friend but not for you? Before following someone else’s plan, I always recommend educating yourself on how weight loss works. And more importantly how your body responds to different foods. What worked for someone else may not work well for you. Juice diets may give you loss but how long can you survive just drinking juice alone? It would be a sin to torture your bodies making them deprived of essential carbs, proteins and fats. So educate yourself on various foods, reading nutrition labels to make healthy and conscious choices for a better weight loss.
- Always find out the science behind any diets or exercise.
- Don’t blindly follow someone else’s diet or exercise routine.
- Always experiment yourself how your body copes up and responds to certain eating plans and exercise routine. Be flexible to change the plan as required.
Focus on next one meal/exercise
In this book Compound Effect there is this concept called 1% infinity. It means you keep doing 1% better every day and all such small actions collectively give you huge benefits one day.
This golden rule can be applied to weight loss as well. Instead of making bigger goals and ending up not doing anything, always break your goals into smaller chunks. Like how I can make my next meal optimised. Sure planning ahead is good but planning for NEXT ONE MEAL is easier than having to tackle planning for one whole week or a month. Same goes true for exercise even.
Action Item Focus on your NEXT MEAL and NEXT EXERCISE. Think about how you can optimize them like filling your plate with good amounts of vegetables and protein or how long you gonna walk for etc. And repeat it daily.
Find your support system
We are social animals and our emotions need a venting, be it positive or negative. Sharing your goals or feelings of failure with a friend or people who have similar interests will immensely help in your weight loss journey. You need to be surrounded by people who can feel your goals, struggles and guide you when needed. Talking to friends who have similar goals kept me motivated in my own weight loss journey.
Whenever I binge eat I would pick my phone and admit to my close friends explaining my emotions. If you don’t have any friends there are plenty of online communities for weight loss that offers suggestions in a non-judgemental way. Having a trainer can also help you focus on the right things if you are feeling intimidated and don’t know where to start.
Action Item think about that one friend whom you can share your weight loss goals and keep them updated on your progress and efforts.
Joining a few online communities or forums to see how incredible amounts of support you may get. You don’t need to post anything if you are a private person but just being in the group and watching others work for the same goals as yours could keep you highly motivated making you stick for your goal.
Be aware that you may fail.
Yes, you may fail whatever diet or exercise routine you follow. after doing a certain diet for a few months you may not lose a single kilo. Or you could put back that weight in a week whatever you lost in one month. Like in any other walk of life failures are so common in this too but having that positive mindset for weight loss could save you from derailing yourself, Remember it is not failing that makes you a loser but quitting does!
If a certain eating pattern didn’t work for you it’s a signal that your body needs something else to work better for you. Please do not get caught in the fad diets that worked for someone else, always acknowledge your failures, educate yourself and move on to a different strategy.
I hope these strategies may help you set a positive mindset for weight loss before choosing the diet itself. I would love to hear any other strategies that worked for you in your own weight loss journey. If you think this article has helped you, please share them with your friends and family who may be suffering alone. Good luck with your weight loss.