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 a year 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.

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 24

  • Chickb

    Chickb 14 days 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!

    • AmazingKale403544

      AmazingKale403544 19 days ago

      A lot to think about. I found this useful,

      • Spring

        Spring a month 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

        • hp

          hp a month ago

          I'm looking forward to this I have epilepsy and am on disability so I sit and watch TV eating junk all day. this looked perfect, partly because it was created for epilepsy but its basically cutting carbs. every other diet I look it is like low fat, lean meat. also not much structure. this is basically cut the carbs. "strict" but so very very simple.

          • T3Maher

            T3Maher 4 months ago

            Very happy to read this article today. All things I know, but needed reinforcement. I had lost 40# - did well keeping it off for about a year - then up 15# - boo hiss— time to reset. Back to journaling, logging food and water intake. I know I can do this!!

            • PropitiousRadish329704

              PropitiousRadish329704 5 months ago

              I have backed away from this site because I was forgetting to log something I ate or drank yesterday and have not figured out how to go back and add it today. It was frustrating and the result was just forget it. This is a great app but it keeps adding to my feelings of failure. Is there something I can print out that I can refer to when I need help?

              • Mysti

                Mysti 4 months ago

                In the app, there is a bit at the top that says the day (today, yesterday, etc.). All you have to do is arrow back to the day you want to edit, and enter things in. Hope this helps!

            • Ck238

              Ck238 5 months ago

              My Husband passed away 6 months ago. I have been able to maintain my weight that was down 20 lbs. I still have a long way to go. I started Journaling yesterday and read your article today. I believe in it and plan to be successful.

              • GorgeousAvocado168526

                GorgeousAvocado168526 5 months ago

                Hope this helps got to stay positive 👍

                • FavorableMacadamia406809

                  FavorableMacadamia406809 5 months ago

                  I am hoping this will help......I recently stopped working and have found myself starting to gain weight.......

                  • Donna3Puesto

                    Donna3Puesto 5 months ago

                    I have had much success by using Carb Manager! This article is right on! Keto, Intermittent Fasting AND Carb Manager was the trifecta for me!!!! It was truly easy, amazingly.... By the way I lost 50 pounds.. 8 months..... Thank you

                    • UnbelievableArugula585284

                      UnbelievableArugula585284 6 months ago

                      Thank you!

                      • Krismelissa

                        Krismelissa 7 months ago

                        This article is exactly what I needed today . It reminds me that my weight loss journey is a mindset too!

                        • eatingclean

                          eatingclean 7 months 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.

                          • Colleen

                            Colleen 6 months ago

                            You are an inspiration

                        • Michael

                          Michael 7 months 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 7 months 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.

                            • Donna3Puesto

                              Donna3Puesto 5 months ago

                              Linda, so sorry for your loss, your best friend gone is a trauma that no one can bare. Hoping everyday is a better day for you. I believe that if you start logging again it will at least stop you from gaining. Don't be afraid to go with your friends, just let the waitress know what not to put on your plate! I do that every time I am in a restaurant. Friends are important at this time I am sure. God Bless.

                            • larealestate11

                              larealestate11 6 months ago

                              Linda, my husband passed away eight weeks ago. I’m still learning how to grieve. I too have been eating more than usual and not sleeping good. Some days I cry.

                            • dallas32071@yahoo.com

                              dallas32071@yahoo.com 7 months ago

                              Sorry for your loss. Keep up the work. I have lost 30 lbs doing keto. Hang in there!

                            • IncredibleArugula495301

                              IncredibleArugula495301 7 months 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 7 months ago

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

                          • 00JoJo

                            00JoJo 8 months 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 ;)

                            • UnbelievableRadish252700

                              UnbelievableRadish252700 7 months ago

                              Same!! Lost 40, gained 20. I’m starting again and want to feel the way I did than!