After 13 years of trying to lose weight off and on, there is one thing I know for sure. Mindset matters! This article is going to cover 15 mindset tips for weight loss that can help you lose weight and keep it off for good.
I have used these tips to see success with my own weight loss journey as well as keeping the weight off for 2 years and going strong.
When it comes to weight loss, a lot of people focus on what you eat and how you exercise. And although those things are important, without the right mindset you’ll get caught in a constant cycle of struggle and self-sabotage.
These mindset tips for weight loss will help get you in the right frame of mind to start seeing steady progress and results with your weight loss efforts.
Why do I need the right “mindset” to lose weight?
The very first thing you need to understand is why having the right mindset is so important. And by important, I mean a total game-changer.
Having the right mindset to lose weight can make all the difference between meeting your goals and being someone who yo-yos back and forth with their weight.
When you take the time to get your attitude and perspective on track with your weight loss goals, it makes it soooo much easier to actually follow through on them.
Taking the time to develop a positive and realistic view of your health journey is going to save you a lot of drama and misery along the way. If every time you think of getting in shape it feels “miserable,” “hard,” or “impossible,” you are not going to want to do it for very long.
It doesn’t matter how much you want to lose weight and get fit, if you’re constantly telling yourself how much the process sucks or how doomed or difficult it is, you will struggle to keep moving forward.
Nothing kills motivation faster or invites in more self-sabotage than doing something you think is miserable.
These mindset tips for weight loss will help you approach your diet and exercise from a perspective that will encourage and motivate you to stay on track.
15 Powerful Mindset Tips for Weight Loss Success
1. You will make mistakes
If you take nothing else from reading these mindset tips for weight loss, I want you to learn this one. To reach any goal in your life, but especially weight loss, you will have to make mistakes.
No one is perfect. Not you, not me, not that person with the amazing pictures on Facebook or Instagram. Yes, even she makes mistakes!
Every person who has lost weight, a little or a lot, has made mistakes. It’s all a part of the process.
As you work towards losing weight and practice eating healthy and exercising, you are going to make mistakes. Some days you might overeat. Or you might say yes to pizza when you have a salad waiting for you at home.
Whatever version your mistake looks like, it’s ok! Every mistake that you make helps you identify a particular area for you to focus on. That’s it. No more no less.
It doesn’t mean you’re broken, or lazy, or that you will never get it right. It doesn’t even mean that you have to start all over. All it does is show you an area you can improve on.
When you make a mistake, simply note it, make corrections if necessary, and keep on moving forward.
2. Food is fuel, not comfort
Next on the list of mindset tips for weight loss is that food is full, not comfort. Food is meant to give our body energy. That’s its job.
It’s not supposed to make us feel better after a long day of the kids driving us crazy. It’s not supposed to make you less stressed and frustrated after a fight with your husband.
When we use food to help us feel better about our lives, we’re actually emotionally eating. We’re eating to help us manage being tired, stressed, bored, lonely, angry, or any other manner of emotions we don’t want to feel.
Food becomes the distraction from whatever we’re currently dealing with.
Food only fixes hunger
Eating to feel better might feel like it helps, but here’s the problem: life is full of emotions we don’t want to feel. And eating extra dessert after a long day doesn’t actually make your days any better.
Food only fixes hunger. It doesn’t make your husband less annoying, your boss less of a jerk, or your kids any less demanding.
It’s just a distraction from those things that tend to cause more harm than good and leave you in a frustrated guilt, shame, and overeating cycle. In a weight loss article from the Mayo Clinic, here is what they had to say:
“Whatever emotions drive you to overeat, the end result is often the same. The effect is temporary, the emotions return and you likely then bear the additional burden of guilt about setting back your weight-loss goal. This can also lead to an unhealthy cycle — your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for getting off your weight-loss track, you feel bad and you overeat again.”
If you can start to let go of the idea that food helps you feel better and start using it for fuel instead of comfort, weight loss starts to get a lot easier.
3. Don’t treat your diet like a punishment
The next important shift to make around weight loss is to recognize that your diet is not a punishment. I see so many women who treat their diet as a way to punish themselves for perceived “bad decisions” around food or exercise.
They overeat pizza one night, so to “make up for it,” they think they need to eat nothing but celery and grilled chicken for the next week. Or they see their diet as a punishment for having gained weight in the first place.
It’s all wrapped up around this idea that a diet should be miserable to lose weight. It’s a punishment for whatever you “allowed” that caused you to become overweight in the first place.
That is not an effective mindset to lose weight. That’s just a quick way to make yourself feel miserable and unhappy.
A diet should be about making healthy food choices that fuel and energize your body. A way to live a longer and healthier life.
If at some point you make a mistake and eat off plan (it’s going to happen, just accept it), then you simply get back on track as soon as possible. There is no need to get crazy and deprive yourself to make up for your diet detour.
A crazy restrictive diet isn’t giving your body what it needs. It’s not sustainable. And it’s just plain miserable to do!
Aim to eat healthy and nutritious foods because they are good for you. Not to punish yourself, but to care for your body from the inside out.
4. Consistency is king
Another very important mindset for weight loss is that you need to be consistent. I know this is hard to hear, but occasionally eating right and exercising isn’t going to cut it.
You can’t eat great Monday-Friday and then eat everything in sight over the weekend and expect to see the results that you want. You can’t be good “some” of the time and hope to see your weight dropping “all” of the time.
It would be like trying to walk a mile, but with every fourth step instead of going forward, you take 3 steps backward. Then after a while, you look up and you wonder why you aren’t making any progress.
You need to be as consistent as possible with your diet and your exercise to lose weight.
5. Watch out for deprivation and justification
Another important shift to make when it comes to weight loss is paying attention to any time you are feeling “deprived” or “justified.”
Whenever you are justifying your eating decisions or exercise habits with either of these words, it needs to be a red flag for you.
They each lead in a slightly different direction, so let’s discuss them separately.
“If I don’t get to eat ice cream with everyone else, I will feel deprived.” Have you ever felt that way?
The idea of feeling deprived can be a big trigger for some people. We get this idea in our heads that if we don’t get to eat what we want at the moment or what everyone else is having, that we are deprived in some way.
We are missing out on something important or vital.
The reality isn’t that you’re deprived, it’s that you want it. And maybe you really, really want it, but it’s still just a want.
Deprivation is the lack or denial of something considered to be a necessity. That donut, ice cream, or candy bar is not a necessity.
Our brains create the thoughts and emotions that make us feel like we are being deprived. They make us think that by not eating that donut we will somehow feel less happy or joyful.
The next time that feeling of deprivation comes up, take a minute to assess whether it is a realistic interpretation of the facts. Are you honestly being denied something you need or something you want?
Will your life actually be better for having eaten the donut? Especially when an important goal for you is losing weight?
When we can take a moment to look at the situation a little more objectively, most of the time we realize that the treat we felt so deprived without a moment ago isn’t half as important as we thought.
“I deserve this piece of cake after the day I had!” Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone.
So many women struggle with this particular thought process. I know for myself, this used to be excuse number 1 why I was in the kitchen cooking pancakes at 9:30 at night.
We spend so much time taking care of others, it feels like we have “earned” our food treat. It might even feel like the only reward we will get after a long day.
Here is where that idea starts to fall apart. Eating sugary, unhealthy snacks as a reward is like scrubbing dirt off of your walls with a wire brush. Sure the dirt is gone, but so is the paint and probably some of the drywall as well.
That unhealthy food is not much of a reward when it causes you to gain extra weight. In an article from the World Health Organization, they list some common consequences of being overweight:
“Carrying extra fat leads to serious health consequences such as cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke), type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, and some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon). These conditions cause premature death and substantial disability.”
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t really sound like a reward because I survived another day of parenthood.
The next time that feeling of justification comes up, think about the things you really deserve. Like a fit and strong body, enough energy to play with your kids, good health, confidence, and self-respect. Those are the things that you really deserve after a long hard day.
6. You can’t exercise your way out of a poor diet
Next on the list of mindset tips for weight loss is that you can’t exercise your way out of a poor diet. Seriously, you can’t.
There are tons of reasons to exercise, but to make up for eating poorly is not one of them. Exercise can complement your weight loss, but it isn’t the main answer. Think about it for a minute.
Your weight loss is caused by overeating unhealthy foods. So how could exercising be the answer?
I know there is a lot of talk about calories in and calories out and the more you exercise, the more calories you burn. That stuff is technically true.
BUT do you know how much you would have to exercise to make up for a poor diet?? Let’s break it down.
According to McDonald’s Nutrition Calculator, a small vanilla milkshake from McDonald’s has 530 calories in it. You would need to run for about an hour straight to burn that off.
Now, say you got a Big Mac and fries with your milkshake. That’s 540 calories for the Big Mac, 370 calories for a medium fry, and 530 calories for the milkshake. Altogether that’s 1,440 calories for the whole meal. (540+370+530=1,440)
According to the Mayo Clinic, here’s how much you would have to exercise to burn that off:
- Bicycle for about 3 hours
- Dance for about 4 hours
- Jog for about 3.5 hours
- Run for about 2.75 hours
Do you see where I’m going here? It’s almost impossible to exercise enough to burn off all of that food. Who has the time??
Exercise to improve your health, make healthy food choices to lose weight.
7. Have patience
Another often missed but important mindset to have when losing weight is that you need patience. Lots and lots of patience.
Losing weight is not fast. Not if you do it right anyway.
There are endless supplements, diets, and workout programs that try to sell you on the idea that you can melt off fat quickly. I’ve seen things that promise weight loss as drastic as losing 20-30 lbs in a few weeks.
That sounds nice and all. Especially when you’re desperate to lose the weight and are so tired of feeling miserable carrying it around.
But it’s important to recognize that losing a lot of weight quickly isn’t healthy or sustainable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “…people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off.”
Not only are you more likely to keep the weight off, but losing weight slowly is healthier for you. Here are just some of the consequences of losing weight too quickly from an article on WebMD:
- Hair loss
- Muscle loss
Losing weight in a healthy and sustainable way means developing solid, healthy eating habits. Which takes time.
It’s a slow process that requires patience, but it’s worth the extra time to do it right.
8. Visualize it
My next mindset tip for losing weight is to visualize it. This might sound a little strange if you haven’t tried it before, but it works, trust me.
You need to visualize yourself successfully losing weight. That might mean you imagine yourself turning down the free donuts at work and opting for the protein bar you packed instead.
You might have to picture yourself going to a family get-together and stopping after your first plate of food. It’s all about visualizing yourself following through on the habits that you know will help you to lose weight.
This works for two reasons: 1.) Your mind can’t distinguish between visualization and real life. 2.) You can’t do what you don’t believe you can do.
Your mind can’t distinguish between visualization and real life.
Visualization is really useful for losing weight because it helps you practice the new habits you’re trying to adapt without actually doing them. In an article for HuffPost, here is how Ph.D. Frank Niles explains it:
“According to research using brain imagery, visualization works because neurons in our brains, those electrically excitable cells that transmit information, interpret imagery as equivalent to a real-life action.”
This means that when you visualize yourself turning down the free donuts at work, your brain interprets it as though you actually did it. It helps create mental pathways in your brain of actually saying no to the donuts.
It’s like practicing a skill without physically doing it. This makes it so much easier to actually turn down the donuts because your brain thinks you’ve already done it before.
You can’t do what you don’t believe you can do.
The second reason visualization is so helpful when trying to lose weight is because it helps create the belief in yourself that what you’re trying to achieve is actually possible.
If you don’t believe that you’re capable of just eating 1 cookie instead of the whole box, odds are pretty good that you won’t be able to do it. You might not even really try.
What’s the point when you know it’s not going to work anyway, right? That’s where visualization comes in.
The “practice” you’re giving your brain in stopping at 1 cookie helps build the belief in yourself that you can actually do it. It works in the same way that positive affirmations do.
Imagining yourself making healthy eating decisions helps you identify as someone who actually does make healthy eating decisions.
Every time you visualize yourself stopping at 1 cookie or turning down the donuts, you dramatically increase the likelihood that you’ll actually do so in real life.
- How to Set Health and Fitness Goals for Weight Loss
- 30 Positive Weight Loss Affirmations That Really Work
9. Set small goals
Another very useful mindset to have when losing weight is to set small goals. You need to set realistic weight loss goals if you want to have any hope of being successful.
When you’ve spent months, years, or even decades being overweight, sometimes the need to lose weight can feel really urgent. You might feel like you need to lose it right now and so you have to do ALL the things to do it.
You have to eat the perfect diet, do the best exercise program, and follow every tip that the super-fit Instagram influencer you came across does daily.
It sounds effective, but in reality, it’s just setting yourself up for disaster. Look at it this way: If your goal was to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) would you go jump up tomorrow and go run all 13 miles?
Probably not. Even knowing that to ever run 13 miles you have to at some point in time train running 13 miles, you still probably wouldn’t be able to do it.
If you haven’t spent any time running, the idea of running 13 miles is pretty unrealistic. Running even 1 mile might be unrealistic.
That same idea applies to weight loss. You have to start with small achievable goals and work your way up to the tougher ones.
Setting Small Goals for Weight Loss
When setting small goals for weight loss, it’s important to be really honest about where you are currently at. Setting goals that are unrealistic for your current behaviors and habits can be incredibly demotivating.
It’s important to set goals that are an improvement from what you’re currently doing but aren’t such a big change that you won’t be able to stick with it.
Here are some examples:
- Instead of eating a healthy diet 24/7, try a smaller goal of eating a healthy breakfast each morning.
- If your long-term goal is exercising an hour a day 5 days a week, try planning 15-minute workouts 3-4 days a week.
- Instead of drinking a gallon of water a day, try adding in a glass first thing in the morning and before dinner.
These habits might not get you to your original goal of losing all your weight by themselves, but they will get you on your way.
And once you master those first initial goals, you will be more ready to start tackling the next ones.
Just like with our running example, you might start by running a ¼ mile or a ½ mile. As you get stronger you increase your distance.
Eventually, you will build yourself up to running the full 13 miles. But it all starts with setting those small realistic goals in the beginning.
10. Get support
The next tip on the list of mindset tips for weight loss is to have a good support system. There is something uniquely inspiring about having a group of people to talk to who are on the same journey as you.
As you work to lose weight, there might be a lot of people who don’t get it. Maybe they don’t need to lose weight, maybe they’re happy at the weight they are at, or maybe they feel threatened by the idea of you getting in shape.
I know for the longest time while losing weight, my husband couldn’t care less. He had no interest in changing his eating habits and definitely didn’t want to talk about creating meal plans and whether or not eating ice cream twice a week was a good idea.
Which made it a lot harder to lose weight. I was trying to eat better while he was talking about ordering pizza whenever the mood struck him.
You need to have people in your life who are as committed to making positive changes with their diet and exercise as you are. When you have weak moments you’re struggling with or wins you want to share, it’s nice to know someone else is there for you.
Someone who actually gets it.
I had to look outside my immediate friends and family to find a support group that worked for me. I can definitely say, however, that having one has made a huge difference in not only my success at losing weight, but my ability to keep it off.
Here are some places and ways to get support on your weight loss journey.
Here is a list of a few places I have found or created support groups that have helped me.
- Facebook – Just hop on Facebook and search weight loss groups. There are plenty out there and you are sure to find one that works for you. I have a Facebook group called Mommas Getting Fit you are welcome to join too!
- Join a coaching program – Having a weight loss coach or joining a group coaching program is an amazing way to get expert support and accountability on your journey. If you’re interested in getting 1-on-1 weight loss coaching, you can email me questions about my coaching program at Candice@littlestepsbighappy.com.)
- Messenger or group texts – If you have a friend or two who’s in the same place with your weight loss efforts, create a group text and just start talking to each other. You can check in daily with meal plans, workouts, wins, and struggles.
- Forums – A lot of people find good support on forums like Reddit or Quora. You can ask questions and get feedback from people who are dealing with the same thing or have already gotten through whatever issue you’re struggling with.
11. Celebrate your wins big and small
If you’re trying to lose weight, then it is important to celebrate every single win along the way. As I mentioned before, weight loss comes with plenty of mistakes and it’s not a fast process.
That’s why it’s so important to celebrate each time you do something positive. If you said no to the donuts at work – celebrate!
If you stopped at 4 cookies instead of your normal 6 – pat yourself on the back. When you create a solid meal plan for the day and stick to it – give yourself a high five.
All of those little successes help create the overall picture of your weight loss journey. Each small win helps you develop the healthy habits that are required to lose weight.
It can be easy to get sucked into an all-or-nothing mentality with weight loss. Either I’m doing it all right or I’m wrong.
Instead, focus on the things you’re doing right, even the small ones. This will help you become more motivated and encouraged to keep trying and moving forward.
12. Choose your hard
Another thing to think about when it comes to mindset tips for weight loss is recognizing that losing weight might not be easy, but neither is being overweight. I used to have this idea in my mind that losing weight was so hard.
Sticking to a diet was miserable and exercise was a punishment. But here’s the thing, being overweight is no walk in the park either.
I hated having to spend 20 minutes figuring out what to wear because none of my clothes fit well and everything made me feel fat and unattractive.
I dreaded the idea of wearing a bathing suit, taking pictures, or my husband seeing me naked.
Sometimes the physical effort of carrying around the extra weight was tiring. And the mental effort of all the things I felt about myself carrying that extra weight around was exhausting!
Losing weight can be challenging. You have to learn new behaviors, change your diet, and sometimes create a whole new outlook on your life.
But before you start telling yourself how hard it is, remember that there is a reason you want to lose weight in the first place. Being overweight isn’t easy either.
It has its own brand of pain, difficulty, and misery. So choose your hard. The struggle of working toward a healthier life or the frustration of not enjoying the one you’re currently living.
13. Don’t rely on motivation
This next mindset for weight loss is one that it took me a long time to realize. You can’t rely on motivation.
Motivation is a feeling. This means, that like all feelings, it comes and goes. Let me say that one more time: motivation comes and goes.
You might have it when you’re starting a new diet and you’re all excited and hopeful about how well it will work for you. And it might be gone by the end of the week when you’re tired, your toddler spilled nail polish on your carpet, and your husband is talking about ordering pizza.
Motivation is never going to be your constant companion. After having kept my weight off for 2 years at the time I’m writing this I can tell you for a fact I’m not always motivated.
Even after having achieved my goal and having a very strong desire to maintain my weight loss, I’m still not always motivated. Sometimes our thoughts and our crazy lives get in the way of that motivation.
Creating habits and routines
Since you can’t rely on motivation to determine whether you stick with your diet or exercise, you need to create routines, habits, and patterns that help you follow through whether you’re motivated or not.
I make sure I meal prep every Sunday so that I’m more likely to eat healthy during the week even when I’m not motivated. I check in with my accountability partners regularly to help remind me why this is important.
Focus on creating routines and habits that help you stick with your diet and exercise and you won’t need to rely on motivation to stay consistent and reach your goals.
14. Watch the negative self-talk
Another very important mindset tip for losing weight is to pay attention to how you talk to yourself. If you spend a lot of time talking to yourself negatively, it’s going to make it a lot harder to lose weight.
You can’t hate yourself into a version of yourself that you love.
This concept took me a long time to wrap my mind around, but having gotten to maintenance I understand it better. Part of losing weight is about learning to love yourself as you lose weight.
It’s very easy, when you’re overweight, to think that losing weight is the answer. “If I just lose this 20/30/50 lbs I will like myself more.”
But here’s the thing, most of us aren’t wired that way. We can’t make positive change from a place of negativity. In an article on Very Well Mind, Wellness Coach Elizabeth Scott, MS says:
“Focusing on negative thoughts may lead to decreased motivation as well as greater feelings of helplessness. This type of critical inner dialogue has even been linked to depression…”
When we’re feeling helpless, stressed, demotivated, and depressed odds are pretty good we’re not waking up eager and excited to make healthy choices and go exercise. Most of us are trying to hide under the covers and do as little as possible in our daily lives.
Focus on positive self-talk
We must try to talk to ourselves positively and with encouragement. We need to become our own voice of support, love, and grace in our lives.
A good way to tell if you talk to yourself negatively is to think about or write down some of the things you say to yourself. Would you be willing to say them to a friend or loved one?
If the answer is no, then you need to do some work on talking to yourself more positively.
Here are some things I have done to stop the negative talk and be a little nicer to myself:
- Use positive affirmations.
- Journal daily.
- Rephrase negative thoughts to be more neutral or positive.
- Ask yourself “Would I want someone else to say this to me?”
15. Focus on solutions
Last on the list of mindset tips for weight loss is to focus on solutions. This means that it’s important to focus on what’s going to actually fix the problem.
For most of us, to successfully lose weight, it means we have to create new habits in our life. We have to change how we eat, move, and often how we think.
This can bring up a whole laundry list of things that you need to change. You might need to…
- Change what snacks you eat.
- Give up certain indulgences.
- Handle stress and frustration differently.
- Adjust your schedule.
- Change how you feed your family.
- Create new exercise habits.
Avoid the drama
Depending on how difficult it is to make these changes it can bring up all kinds of drama.
“Why is it so hard for me to give up snacking late at night??”
“I wish I knew why I keep overeating!”
“Will I ever figure out how to lose this weight??”
We can get so sucked into judging ourselves, wondering what’s wrong with us, or being frustrated about the changes we need to make that we don’t have any time or energy to actually figure out how to do it.
We just get sucked back into old habits and routines. Which by itself can be amazingly frustrating. (I would know! 🙋)
Instead of getting sucked into the drama that leads to feeling unmotivated, emotional eating, and being tempted to just say “Forget it!”, you need to focus on solutions.
What do you need to change? How can you make it easier? What ideas haven’t you tried yet?
What is another way to look at this problem?
When you focus on what needs to be done instead of beating yourself up for why it’s so hard to do it, you will start seeing the weight loss you want a whole lot faster.
Conclusion to 15 Powerful Mindset Tips for Weight Loss Success
I hope you have found these 15 mindset tips for weight loss helpful. These are things I have learned throughout my weight loss journey that have helped me the most.
Weight loss isn’t just about what you do. It’s also about learning how to make yourself actually do it. These mindset tips can help you shift your perspective to be more consistent and see better results with your weight loss.
What are your favorite mindset tips for weight loss? Tell us below or email me at Candice@littlestepsbighappy.com. Follow me on Pinterest for more weight loss tips and advice.
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I’m a busy mom of 3 turned Health and Fitness Coach and Self Defense Instructor. I help inspire other moms to reach their health, fitness, and weight loss goals. You can usually find me chasing my kiddos around, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or sneaking away to read romance novels. About Me