5 Ways To Cultivate a Success Mindset For Weight Loss
Weight Loss

5 Ways To Cultivate a Success Mindset For Weight Loss

5 Ways To Cultivate a Success Mindset For Weight Loss

Posted 2 years ago

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton


Tony O’Neill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN

Tony O’Neill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN

Author and Scientific Reviewer

Expert Approved

If you want to lose weight this year, your mindset matters. You need to believe in yourself.

Smart man, Mr. Ford. 

Belief alone isn’t enough, of course. It’s not like the pounds start oozing off the moment you visualize it. Sustainable weight loss is the product of a good system, which includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep. 

Yet this system depends entirely upon a human being: You. For it to work, you need to get your mindset handled. This article will show you how.

Redefining Success for Weight Loss 

The typical weight-loss plan looks something like this: 

Lose X pounds by [fast-approaching date].

The plan occasionally works. With some aggressive calorie-cutting, the person may hit their target. And for a moment, the sweet smell of victory fills the air. 

But it doesn’t last long. After the glow wears off, it’s like... now what? Set a new target? Stagnate? It’s not clear what to do next. 

Your success is reduced to mere days, maybe hours. And then it’s back to striving again. And that’s the best-case scenario, in which you’ve achieved the weight-loss goal.

Consider thinking about weight loss differently. Consider shifting your mindset to redefine weight loss.

Two Quick Mindset Hacks for Weight Loss

  1. Consider any amount of weight loss—or even the absence of weight gain—a success.
  2. Put your emphasis on diet, sleep, and exercise. If you’re checking these boxes, you’re winning. 

Our minds like winning. The more we win, the more likely we’ll continue a behavior. And healthy behaviors are the key to sustainable weight loss.

5 Ways To Promote A Success Mindset for Weight Loss

All success—including physical success—starts in the mind. Let’s explore five ways to put your mind in success mode so you can achieve your weight loss goals.  

#1: Read

By simply reading this article, you’re priming your mind for success. You're reaffirming (to yourself) that you’re the kind of person who cares deeply about your health. 

This is no small thing. As neuroscientist Donald Hebb once said, “cells that fire together, wire together”[*]. The more time you devote to studying success, the more your brain becomes wired for winning. 

More practically, reading is how you learn how to eat for weight loss. For instance, if you want to go Keto, there is no shortage of useful resources (like the Carb Manager blog and app) out there.  

When you’re reading, you’re learning. Keep it up. 

#2: Journal

When you write something down, you’re more likely to follow through. It’s a quick and easy way to hack your psyche. 

Details help. In one study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, researchers found that people who wrote down where, when, and how they would exercise were two to three times more likely to exercise than controls[*].

How does this apply to weight loss? Let’s say you’ve gone Keto to slim up. In your journal, write up a meal plan daily, including meal timing. Even if you’re not Keto, you can use the same basic strategy. And of course, feel free to use the Carb Manager app as a journal if you’re more the digital type. 

By journaling, you take willpower out of the equation by creating a plan for yourself. Take advantage.

#3: Try self-affirmations

A journal is also the perfect place for affirmations. These positive messages reinforce who you are and where you’re heading. 

If you’re skeptical about affirmations, that’s understandable. It seems to reek of new-age mysticism and scammy gurus with flowing robes and expensive watches.  

Yet, believe it or not, there’s a growing literature on self-affirmation. In one study, for instance, participants who affirmed their values beforehand were more receptive to health messages on the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle[*]. Plus, they became more active the following month. 

Why do affirmations work? They may just be a clever way to focus the mind, but nobody knows for sure. 

#4: Tell others what you’re doing

If you want to harness the full power of human psychology, don’t keep your weight-loss mission a secret. Tell as many people as you can. 

When you publicly commit to something—a new diet, for instance—your brain works hard to maintain that commitment. This phenomenon is called consistency bias

We like being consistent with our words and actions. We avoid inconsistency like a steaming pile of dog poop in the middle of the sidewalk.  

Commitment is one reason why Carb Manager’s Groups are so effective. It’s a big friendly crew of supportive people on a similar path who provide an instant boost to your accountability and motivation. 

#5: Use incentives

Think of your brain like a Labrador Retriever. If you train it properly, it will happily comply with your wishes. 

If your wish is to lose weight, you’ll want to reward fat-burning habits and activities. An example will help illustrate. 

Through a variety of mechanisms, intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss[*]. Not only do you have less time to snack on problem foods, but you’re likely eating fewer calories overall. 

But fasting probably isn’t on your top 10 worldly pleasures list. The solution? Insert pleasure after the fast. 

This pleasure can take the form of a delicious meal, a hot shower, or even a square of dark chocolate. Eventually, your brain will associate fasting with pleasure, and you’ll no longer need the reward.

Make Your Mind Your Friend

Healthy living isn’t about 14-day resets or aggressive weight-loss targets. It’s about finding a sustainable system that steadily moves you in the right direction. 

Psychology and mindset is central to sticking with your system and ensuring that it functions smoothly. It’s training your brain—through journaling, reading, affirmations, community, and incentives—to be a helpful companion on your quest for better health. 

In other words, make your mind your friend. It will pay off big time.

Still here? Check out our companion piece on how to dial in healthy habits and make success a no brainer this year.

Comments 31

  • Michele

    Michele 13 days ago

    I agree with all with exceptions of #4. People can be very cruel. And if they find you not having a good day, they don’t let you forget it. Making your mind your best friend is probably the best advice I have heard. And the rest of these ideas are extremely helpful. Good luck to all and remember your reason why you’re doing it.

    • PropitiousKetone288178

      PropitiousKetone288178 a month ago

      I agree with not keeping your health goals a secret, however I think it's more prudent to tell it to people who are like minded or who are likely to support you. Many of us come from families that frown or ridicule anyone trying to live a healthier life style, especially if it's not the norm in your family's culture.

      • Sue7

        Sue7 3 months ago

        Yes I find it frustrating when you tell people you’re on a diet and they say oh don’t be silly at your age a bit of weight is ok there’s no positive words

        • IncredibleKale945429

          IncredibleKale945429 a month ago

          People are ignorant they can’t themselves

      • SplendidRadish506872

        SplendidRadish506872 4 months ago

        These are great ideas and even though I do not enjoy #4, its just hard for me to do, still I have experienced the truth of it.

        • jengripp

          jengripp 3 months ago

          I don’t like #4 either. The more ppl I tell the harder I fail.

      • BlithesomeCauliflower902344

        BlithesomeCauliflower902344 4 months ago


        • thequeen12@

          thequeen12@ 6 months ago

          I have been using your app for 2 years now and down 52 lbs. I find what works for me is to do carb flexing durning the Holidays. I count net carbs instead of straight carbs . I allow myself 27 carbs 88 to 90 fat and 100 protein . I find sometimes I need to increase my calories. I'm down 2 lbs for the holiday . I lost the weight for knee replacement . I have 20 more to go . Thought I would never get to this point ,but it easier now . Don't be to hard on yourself not a race takes yrs of work .

          • UpbeatRadish357874

            UpbeatRadish357874 7 months ago

            I can’t do keto, I payed to a nutritionist that didn’t help. I have 30 pounds extra weight. I have hypothyroidism and has been so hard to wake up before 9am. My husband loves sweets too so when we do good, then he has a day that we eat keto ice cream… but I’m just eating less carbs and just started eating brócoli to my diet. I want to eat normal because restricting so much has caused my thyroid to freak out. I have our wedding ceremony in 4 months I want to lose 20 pounds 🙏

            • mlinger

              mlinger 4 months ago

              Keto icecream is still super high in calories. Front of package: 100 calories per serving. Nutrion label: 6 servings. Etc.

          • Nanc

            Nanc 10 months ago

            I totally agree with 1-5, but yes there is always that one person or friend always wanting to sabitoshed. I have one friend that is a junk food junkie that's always saying I'm craving such and such. You can start up again tomorrow. I feel like a real friend wouldn't do that, so I'm rethinking this friendship. Do or should I detach myself from someone that's not supportive???

            • MizzDrew22

              MizzDrew22 2 months ago

              Having an an affinity for junk food isn't a good reason to ditch a friendship. It is, however, a good reason not to choose them as an "accountability partner" (which is essentially what #4 is.) The people you tell have to be in a similar minset as you, otherwise, even if not on purpose, they will sabotage your weight loss efforts. 💜

            • FantasticMacadamia307669

              FantasticMacadamia307669 3 months ago

              I don’t necessarily think you should end your friendship just over that. Maybe try explaining to that friend that you need his/her support and not push you into going off your plan but rather encourage you instead. I mean look, if you have no problem with them eating whatever and you have the will not to give in you should be good. Just don’t throw away a friendship if not needed. Good luck with your friend and wish you the best in your journey.

            • AmazingAvocado749563

              AmazingAvocado749563 6 months ago

              I think you should try talking to her first. Saying that this is really important to you but that it’s also difficult and that it would be really helpful if she supported your goals. A true friend will listen to you. Anyone else won’t. She will make the decision for you.

            • grazioli.laura@gmail.com

              grazioli.laura@gmail.com 6 months ago

              Yeah that might be a good idea. I personally NEVER tell anyone my goals. Keep that to myself.

            • FantasticMacadamia270185

              FantasticMacadamia270185 10 months ago

              Real friends support you and help you reach your goals. You can do and you can say no!!

            • Susanne

              Susanne 10 months ago

              No, just be stronger, friends are hard to find.

          • IzaMac3158

            IzaMac3158 a year ago

            I personally don't agree with #4. I find some of my close friends try to sabotage (I am not kidding) my attempts by bring cakes etc whenever I tell them I am on a diet. They say one won't hurt. I hear their script in my head.

            • MizzDrew22

              MizzDrew22 2 months ago

              Even if you don't tell them, they'll be just as likely to bring unhelpful foods. On top of that, if you don't tell them and they do bring something, you then have to tell them you can't have it. In turn they'll be offended. On the other hand, if you do tell them, and they bring something, you are (still) well within your right to tell them you can't have it *and* they have no right to get offended. Reason being, that because they know you're trying to eat better, bringing unhelpful food is disrespectful on their part. They chose to ignore your wishes, and therefore forfeit any right to being offended when you turn it down.

            • Elayn

              Elayn 10 months ago

              My co-workers and family are constantly doing the same. I'm with you! We can do it! Me Myself and I want to be healthy and stay that way!

            • ExcellentAvocado335089

              ExcellentAvocado335089 a year ago

              Get new friends!

          • StupendousKale377314

            StupendousKale377314 a year ago

            Great ideas. I wrote them down and will work on positive thoughts especially

            • Chickb

              Chickb a year ago

              Things to consider here, and journaling seems to be helpful --especially in the long run when you can look back on progress and setbacks. However, I disagree with #4. There's a difference between the mindset of an extrovert and an introvert. As an introvert myself, this #4 suggestion is a no-go!

              • PropitiousKetone288178

                PropitiousKetone288178 a month ago

                I'm also an introvert with people I don't know. But I share my journey with very few people and only those I know are like minded and will support me. Sometimes those closest to you will try to sabotage your goals.

              • MizzDrew22

                MizzDrew22 2 months ago

                #4 basically is the idea of an "accountability partner." And it's a psychological fact that a person does practically anything far better or more consistently whey they know someone else knows, and that other person holds them to it. That said, one shouldn't just tell anyone, but choosing someone needs to be somewhat selective. That other person (or persons) need to be of a similar mindset as you, for that particular goal/task. However there is also good reason to tell others, without being so selective, when you cant have something they offer. Reason being, if they know you're dieting or trying to eat better, when they offer something you cant have, they forfeit the right to be offended when you turn them down; because they're actively ignoring your wishes and the fault of disrespect is entirely on them. (By the way, I'm also an introvert.)

            • JohnnyR2

              JohnnyR2 a year ago

              A lot to think about. I found this useful,

              • Spring

                Spring a year ago

                Not loosing after 7 weeks. CFS 30 years, hypothyroid, fatty liver, insulin resistant. Macros: Carbs: 17 Fat: 87 Prot: 80 I don’t cheat and I’m doing intermittent fasting. My metabolism is diabolically slow. Yes I’m feeling better and lost 2 lbs. should I adjust my carbs? I just have to loose weight to get my BP down

                • Gwyndyr

                  Gwyndyr 6 months ago

                  Strangely taking all seed oils out helped me. I have similar health issues. If you’re not already, try limiting oils to animal based, coconut and olive oils. Careful with olive though because there are lots of bad players. Costco sells real olive oil in a large jug. Kirkland brand. If you’re not sure, don’t use it. Many keto snacks out there have bad oils so check the label.

                • willa7g403c

                  willa7g403c 8 months ago

                  It sounds like you are on the right track. As you continue to eat better and feel better and loose weight your metabolism will increase. Focus on fresh foods and away from processed, and if you can, decrease the amount of starches you consume. Its a wonderful and rewarding journey that you're on. I wish you the best. 🙏

                • Last Chance Texaco

                  Last Chance Texaco 10 months ago

                  Insulin resistance is just the worst, isn’t it? It takes time to get your body to become “fat adapted”.in my case it took 8 weeks! I was angry and frustrated but everything I read said stick with it. You body will respond just be faithful to your plan. I am off one BP med and my morning glucose readings are below 100 again.

                • ErinG

                  ErinG a year ago

                  Your protein seems high. Try high fat, moderate protein?