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

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5 Ways To Cultivate a Success Mindset For Weight Loss

Posted 3 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 23

  • oceanthief

    oceanthief 16 days ago

    Today is my day one… again. This article is excellent and to the point. It didn’t tell me anything new, but reinforced what I know to be true. I have the hardest time with telling others though.

    • AwesomeArugula994991

      AwesomeArugula994991 2 months ago

      I have been managing my carbs for one year. I use keytone strips to keep me honest about my carb use. I have not lost weight but I have not gained weight. I know this year is going to be different….

      • StellarCauliflower769300

        StellarCauliflower769300 2 months ago

        Thank you, this came at the perfect moment ! Struggling a bit after 4 successful Keto years. Time to focus !

        • shellzbellz-😊

          shellzbellz-😊 5 months ago

          Love this article! ❣️Journaling is not something I actually find time to do, but tracking takes it’s place for me. I do practice positive affirmations on a regular basis and it helps immensely when I find myself in uncomfortable situations. I agree incentives really help and are necessary for staying the course on my individual journey. Great Read! 😊

          • Michele

            Michele 7 months 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 7 months 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 9 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 8 months ago

                  People are ignorant they can’t themselves

              • SplendidRadish506872

                SplendidRadish506872 10 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 10 months ago

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

              • BlithesomeCauliflower902344

                BlithesomeCauliflower902344 10 months ago


                • thequeen12@

                  thequeen12@ a year 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 .

                  • FantasticAvocado169053

                    FantasticAvocado169053 5 months ago


                • UpbeatRadish357874

                  UpbeatRadish357874 a year 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 10 months ago

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

                • Nanc

                  Nanc a year 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???

                  • SplendidKetone390164

                    SplendidKetone390164 6 months ago

                    That isnt lack of support, that is straight manipilation. I would address the issue maturely and frankly and if it persists… dump’em with the assertion of “I told you so”.

                  • MizzDrew22

                    MizzDrew22 8 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 10 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 a year 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 a year ago

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

                  • FantasticMacadamia270185

                    FantasticMacadamia270185 a year ago

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

                  • Susanne

                    Susanne a year ago

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