The most important factor in weight loss?

weight loss mindset

Is your weight loss focus off track?

What would you say is the most important factor in long-term weight loss?

Nutrition?

Exercise?

Sleep?

I’d argue none of the above, though they are ALL very important.

I believe, without a doubt, that the factor that influences weight loss above all else is your mindset, and your mindset is made up of your personal values and beliefs.

Henry Ford said: “Whether you think that you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”

I have personally experienced this. Every time I have gone into something expecting to fail, I have. Every time I have approached something with the belief that I would succeed, I have. 

There are reasons for this. I generally fail when my expectations are subjective or based upon extrinsic (external) approval. I succeed when I enter into something foreseeing the obstacles ahead but prepared for the challenge of facing them (a process called “mental contrasting”).

So if you want to lose body fat, increase health, and live in the body you deserve, I want you to consider a few things…

Most diets work.

Yeah, they work for a while (depending upon your definition of “work). You’ll lose a bit of weight (or a LOT) in the short term, but how long can you maintain the results? How many times have you dieted to lose the same weight over and over?

“Diets” are based upon creating unnatural conditions, upon deprivation, upon “gutting it out” using sheer force of will! 

These approaches don’t work because:

If you want a lean, healthy body for the long term, whatever you’re doing today needs to be something you can imagine yourself doing a year from now and beyond.  If you’ve ever had the following thoughts, you’re not alone:

“I’ll be happy when I weigh _______.”

“I’ll be happy when I can fit into a size ________.”

“When I finally achieve __________, I will go back to eating ‘normally’.”

These statements are produced by a DIETER’S MINDSET. It’s short-term focused, based upon extrinsic (external) factors and unsustainable.

(One a side note; the language you use with yourself has been shown in research to be significant. People who use the phrasing (as an example), “I don’t eat sugar,” are more successful at limiting sugar intake than people who say, “I CAN’T eat sugar.” Interesting. I wonder if it’s because one is a CHOICE and the other is an imposed demand????)

But what if we changed our mindset to one that matches our VALUES and BELIEFS?  

What if you thought “I get to eat all of these beautiful, colorful foods that will nourish my body?” 

What if your mindset was “I exercise consistently and eat nutritious foods because I prioritize my health?” (This is pretty much my personal statement.)

What if it was “I choose healthy habits because I respect myself” or “I CHOOSE to be healthy because I love my children and want to be able to care for them and be an example to them?”

These examples may sound simplistic or cheesy to you, but they are powerful because they address how you feel about yourself, what your internal (intrinsic) motivations are and what your personal values are.

So what’s your choice?  A short term mindset of restriction and extrinsic expectations or a long term mindset connected your personal values and beliefs?

Before you decide, consider that it has been clearly shown in studies that intrinsic or values-based goals produce vastly more success than extrinsic or expectations-based goals.

Believe in your ability to be successful. Commit to a plan. Throw out the dieter’s mindset.  Operate from a place of values and beliefs. Respect yourself, respect your life.

There’s your formula for success. 

See how our Balanced Habits KICK START can help you with developing a healthy mindset and strategy for long-term weight management!

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Jonathan Aluzas is co-owner of Arena Fitness, a fitness center that offers group training in Encino as well as personal training in Northridge.