If you ask Google how to lose weight, it’ll return millions of articles and videos telling you what to eat and how to exercise. But there’s another overlooked factor that goes in to achieving lasting weight loss and fitness that is MORE important than what you eat and your workouts. It’s your mindset. And, I’ve discovered that a lot of people who set out on a health journey with the best intentions are held back from the results they want by the wrong mindset.
Before you roll your eyes, you should know there is research to prove what I’m saying – it’s not just new age, feel good stuff. Studies have shown that a negative mindset can actually prevent you from reaching your goals. Even if your diet is spot on and you are actively exercising, a negative mindset can squash your progress.
Your mindset plays a role from the very beginning and many people start off on the wrong foot entirely. They decide to lose weight because they are feeling bad about themselves. They don’t like the way they look. They don’t like the way they feel. They are focused on their fat, on their trouble spots and on what they perceive is “wrong” with them. They start off thinking that getting healthy is going to be hard. They think they’ll be deprived of the foods they like to eat and they look at exercising as a chore. So they start off choking down kale and sloshing through workouts just to cross them off their list. They are focusing on the negative and basically guaranteeing their failure.
Recent research from the International Journal of Obesity supports this. The study found that simply thinking you are overweight predicts future weight gain. Other research shows that the stress hormone cortisol, which your body makes as a response to negative feelings and worry, increases fat around your abdomen.
So, whether your goal is to get stronger, lose weight, get toned or better your performance, here are some ways to get in the right mindset.
- Recognize Your Power – OK, so maybe your body doesn’t look the way you want it to right now. Maybe you don’t have the endurance you want. Maybe you can’t lift as much or run as far as you would like to. But, be confident in the fact that you have the power to change that. You can make yourself healthier, thinner and stronger.
- Get Positive – Don’t get down on yourself for where you’re starting from. Get excited about where you’re headed. Surround yourself with other positive people. Look for other people who are enthusiastic about their own health and fitness. Stay away from people who can drag you down. You know who they are – the people who are always complaining that they’re too tired to work out; the people who are more likely to hit the bar instead of the gym after work. The more you’re around healthy and positive people the easier your own journey will be.
- Stop Thinking in Terms of Reward and Punishment – This is a huge one. I hear this alot – “I cheated and had XX last night, so I’m making myself work out today.” Or, “I was so good all week so I’m having pizza for dinner.” This sets up food as a reward and working out as a punishment. Ditch that whole mentality. Making healthy food choices and being active are part of taking care of yourself. They’re not tests or chores that you need to accomplish.
- Don’t Obsess – There’s a difference between being enthusiastic and excited about getting healthy and being obsessed. If you’re excited you celebrate your successes – each pound that comes off or each fitness goal you hit. If you’re obsessed you stress over the number that’s on the scale feeling good if the number goes down and bad if it goes up or doesn’t move. If you’re enthusiastic you look forward to your workouts and the energy boost you’ll get from them. If you’re obsessed you see each workout as a challenge that you need to overcome. See the difference?