3 Mindset Shifts That Boost Weight Loss

Medically reviewed in January 2021

Your brain can be your ally or foe when it comes to losing weight. Don’t let negative thinking prevent you from shedding those unwanted pounds. Tori Cohen, RD, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California, shares tips on how to turn negative, self-defeating thoughts into positive ones so you can reach your weight loss goal.

1. Be a glass half-full person
“This is hopeless. I’ll never lose weight!” Sound familiar? Don’t let negative self-talk become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “The way you think affects how you feel, which ultimately affects behaviors,” says Cohen. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, chances are you won’t. Instead, “think of the benefits of reaching a healthy weight,” suggests Cohen. “Positive thinking will encourage and inspire you to make changes.”

Practice saying, “I'm choosing progress, not perfection” or “I have the strength to do this!”

Even if past weight-loss attempts have proven unsuccessful, try to be optimistic—and learn from successful weight loss losers. “Start fresh, turn over a new leaf,” says Cohen. “Focus on what your future goals are and not on what has happened in the past.”

2. Praise your successes
No matter the challenge, you need positive self-esteem to succeed. And this is true with weight loss. When you have a setback—you devour the chips and cheese dip at the Mexican restaurant—your self-esteem can take a beating. But when you succeed, your self-esteem gets a boost. “Each time we make a positive move to our goal it will inherently give us motivation,” says Cohen. “The key is to take that motivation and keep moving forward.”

3. Take it slow and steady
Don’t fall prey to false advertisements. “Tabloids suggesting you can lose an extreme amount of weight in a very short period of time or fad diets that express the same notion are often suggesting that a person follow an unhealthy and unsustainable weight loss,” says Cohen.

Reaching a goal weight takes time, so be patient. “Safe, healthy weight loss is one to two pounds per week,” says Cohen. If you find yourself getting frustrated every time you step on the scale, don’t weigh yourself as often. Many experts recommend you weigh in no more than once a week.

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