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 9 months ago

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton

Tony O’Neill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN

Tony O’Neill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN

Scientific Reviewer

Expert Approved

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

Whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right

Henry Ford

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

  • eatingcleanketo

    eatingcleanketo 6 hours ago

    I took my plan slowly with a goal of .5 lbs a week. I lost 20 pounds in 10 months. I started at 28% body fat and ended up at 14%. I go to bed an hour earlier every night so I can get up earlier to exercise and log my foods for the day. I stay under 10 carbs a day.

    • Michael

      Michael 7 days ago

      Thanks a million really great article I just started my 2nd keto journey today and this really added to the motivation! so ready to get it back to it 👍🏿😁💯

      • Linda

        Linda 9 days ago

        My husband passed way three weeks ago. My weight is creeping up now and I need to start paying attesting to it since gaining weight makes me depressed. I am in grief, can't sleep much and our friends are checking in on me by meeting me up for lunch/ dinner or bring some food over. I've been good about letting them know about my successful Keto diet for last 15 months but I know need to start logging again on the app and make sure that I am fully committed to eating Keto. It is very hard to live alone but grandkids and my sons do check in. That was, I am blessed as I can be under the circumstance.

        • IncredibleArugula495301

          IncredibleArugula495301 an hour ago

          So sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is. My husband passed away a couple of months ago. Take your time.

        • UpbeatKale584920

          UpbeatKale584920 8 days ago

          So sorry for your loss. Take your time. Grieving is a process.

      • 00JoJo

        00JoJo 13 days ago

        I need to get back at it. I lost 40 pounds and kept it off for two years with no problem. Covid started/came/is still happening and I gained half back ( ER nurse here so it was not fun mentally and physically). I’m on a new floor at the hospital and a little more situated so I’m ready to go again and get rid of these last 20 ;)

        • suzi

          suzi 21 days ago

          If it weren't for the incessant leg and foot cramps that happen every time I start and use the KETO method - I'd have no trouble sticking with it, but I get very little sleep because I'm always waking up with painful cramps. I've tried everything and nothing seems to help......so I have to deal with it if I want to lose the 15 lbs I'm trying to lose.

          • BraveDave

            BraveDave 10 days ago

            Suzi - it's pretty common for ketonians (i'm sure that's a word) to drink so much plain water without electrolytes that magnesium and potassium levels deplete. I found that adding daily supplements for these (and salt too) helped reduce my cramps.

          • LorriHoch

            LorriHoch 18 days ago

            I notice those same issues if I’m low on electrolytes. What works for me is to put 1 teaspoon of Himalayan Pink Salt & 1/4 teaspoons of Nu-Salt in a gallon jug of water. I drink about 1/2 - 1 gallon water per day.

          • Stacey

            Stacey 19 days ago

            I don't know if it will help but my doctor did some blood work and a couple of my levels were low she put me on vitamin D3 and potassium. It took about a week but it started to help

        • UpbeatArugula862334

          UpbeatArugula862334 22 days ago

          Can you do the Keto diet if your Lactose intolerant?

          • eatingcleanketo

            eatingcleanketo 6 hours ago

            I’ve done keto with no dairy ( except butter ) for years. It’s quite simple.

          • Cindy M

            Cindy M 22 days ago

            Yes! There are many other options for getting healthy fats. Mayo, olive oil, avocados, and Ranch dressing made with mayo and sour cream. I can tolerate butter, but not milk or cheese. Cheese in very small doses.

        • Ursa Major 812

          Ursa Major 812 a month ago

          Setting goals for a big weight loss may be daunting. Whatever your goal, set smaller goals towards that ultimate goal. Just like you cannot step from the bottom of the staircase to the top step all at once, focus on each step, one at a time. A three or five pound mini-goal creates repeated success and tends to encourage you to make it to the next step. We all "want it now" but when we become impatient we become frustrated and we can then turn to "an old friend" for comfort. Such old friends tend to be destructively caloric. Go slow, accept the journey and enjoy each step and each mini-goal along the way.

          • Kat

            Kat a month ago

            Carb manager logging is an absolute MUST! I stopped logging for awhile, but continued eating my normal keto foods. I was able to maintain my weight for months. I went back to logging because I’m ready to go for those last 10 pounds. Think ALTERNATIVES and what can I use as a SUBSTITUTE for high carb foods. All my friends know I’m eating and living a keto lifestyle and they support my food choices. I don’t even miss what I used to eat. Started in 2019. Keep on reading, learning, and watching keto videos on you tube. You’ll be a success while learning what works for you and what does not. I strictly eat real food and this diet works. I don’t use keto powders or drinks etc. I went from size xl to small. All you need to do is log everything you put on a fork or spoon. I create my food plan in the morning and come pretty close everyday to 5/25/70 by adjusting food choices.

            • eatingcleanketo

              eatingcleanketo 6 hours ago

              I do the exact same thing every morning. I plan and log my food for the day before I leave the house.

          • Karen

            Karen a month ago

            I am starting my health journey again so this article is a very timely guide. Thank you.

            • JV

              JV a month ago

              some great ideas here! thank you!

              • jlsherin258cc

                jlsherin258cc a month ago

                Great reminders! Thank you. I find reading Keto materials or watching Keto Utubes daily, keeps me motivated and on track.

                • eatingcleanketo

                  eatingcleanketo 6 hours ago

                  I go to bed an hour earlier so I can get up earlier to read and log my foods for the day.

                • 00JoJo

                  00JoJo 13 days ago

                  This is a great idea and helps tremendously! I unfortunately don’t have much time to do that now but when I did it was constant motivation! Good luck friend!

              • Ruth

                Ruth a month ago

                Thank you! I’m feeling totally bulletproof! 🎶💥😎

                • 00JoJo

                  00JoJo 13 days ago

                  I see what you did there 😏

              • Foxspirit

                Foxspirit 2 months ago

                Great article! I intend to MAINTAIN MY WEIGHT LOSS this time around.

                • PE

                  PE 5 months ago

                  Wow! I’ve been doing these five steps already on a consistent basis. It truly has kept me on track and focused. When you create healthy habits you don’t have to rely on willpower!

                  • StellarAvocado785352

                    StellarAvocado785352 3 months ago

                    I think your last sentence is one of the most profound things I’ve heard! “When you create healthy habits you don’t have to rely on willpower!!!

                • Zed

                  Zed 5 months ago

                  Thank you, this article is an inspiration for us all. The issues I thought were challenging are now minor and worth changing my mindset. Blessings

                  • Peg

                    Peg 7 months ago

                    Brian and Tony, Great article! Thanks 🙏🏼 I’m convinced, intelligent, fact-based inspiration like you’ve provided here is invaluable in attaining and maintaining my wt loss/improved health success ❤️

                    • Tina

                      Tina 7 months ago

                      Great article

                      • Fool

                        Fool 7 months ago

                        Well presented :)

                        • AwesomeRadish913673

                          AwesomeRadish913673 7 months ago

                          👍 great article! 😊 thank you.