Why is your mindset so important to weight loss?

Why is your mindset so important to weight loss?
When it comes to losing weight and getting healthy, we tend to focus on our habits and behaviours. What we eat and how we move, for example. But losing weight is also about our thoughts and beliefs – in other words, it’s as much a mental game as it is a physical one.

If you’ve tried to lose weight in the past, you might have found maintaining weight loss motivation a challenge. As part of our Start Strong and Stay Strong focus, we’re helping you cultivate a healthy weight loss mindset. This can help increase your chances of success with the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet.

Why diet mindset matters

‘Mindset’ refers to the perceptions and beliefs you have about yourself. A positive or negative mindset can influence behaviour, outlook and attitude. For example, if you believe you are likely to fail, you may be more likely to give up on a weight-loss program. It may be because you are not seeing results, or have hit setbacks. That’s because self-defeating thinking patterns can make weight management difficult.

Despite your diet plan it is possible to pick up negative eating habits which can lead to weight gain.

By contrast, do you believe you are capable of adapting to change? Are you confident you can pick up new healthy habits? Both will help with diet motivation. Staying positive, despite setbacks, is crucial to a healthy weight loss mindset.

According to CSIRO behavioural scientist Dr Emily Brindal, mindset can make a big difference to weight loss success.

“When you’re trying to change your behaviour, your mindset is really important. And the great news is that it’s something you can change,” she says. “It’s something you can improve, you can feel better about yourself, you can feel better about your environment. We know that when people feel happier and more positive, they’re more likely to try harder. Reaching their goals and continuing along a challenging journey.”

Even if you experience a setback, your positive energy can keep you going. It can be easier to avoid having that cheat meal. Or you may decide to exercise for an extra 15 minutes.

Managing negative thoughts

Controlling negative thoughts can also help you maintain healthy eating patterns. You will feel good, curb emotional eating, and work towards sustainable weight loss. You may even find motivation to increase physical activity helping weight loss results.

Taking a longer-term perspective to weight loss is one way to build a healthy weight loss mindset, Dr Brindal says.

Setting a goal for sustainable weight loss is an excellent first step.

“But we don’t want people to
just make a spur-of-the-moment New Year’s resolution because we want it to last. So we want people to sit back, think about why they want to do the program, their motivations and passions," says Dr. Brindal. "This way they can maintain their behaviours as they go forward.”

By evaluating your goals for weight loss you can avoid falling into a negative mindset. You may also be able to identify the warning signs sooner for long term success.

Setting rewards and cues

Both positive and negative outlooks can become cyclical. Sounds simple, right? A positive outlook can aid results, motivation, and healthy eating habits. Meanwhile, a negative mindset can have the opposite effect. Easy! So why do we fall into negative habits so quickly?

It may be the right rewards or cues aren't in place.

One way to maintain a healthy mindset is by setting rewards and cues. A cue serves as a signal that can identify unhealthy habits. This can alert and pull you away from bad habits. A reward enforces positive habits maintain a positive cycle.

A cue can be anything. It may be a calendar on your desk with daily to-do's. If you don't check it off, that is your cue.

A reward can be simple as well! Ideally, you should avoid food as a reward. But you might consider something as easy as a relaxing bath.

As mentioned before, you cannot get discouraged by setbacks. Recognizing when they happen, but keeping a positive outlook is the key. A setback can come in the form of poor eating patterns or ignoring physical activity. You may increase your emotional eating or ignore set goals. Getting back on track can take effort but is easier than starting over!

Both rewards and cues help to maintain the positive mindset. Nobody has 100% confidence all the time. But increasing how often we express these feelings can go a long way.

Understanding your mindset

If you’re looking to improve diet motivation, understanding your mindset is a great place to start.

To help you learn more about your diet mindset, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet launched the Diet Mindset Quiz. This quiz can help you learn your diet type to begin your weight loss journey strong!

“This quiz gives Australians some information about what motivates them and their passions and inspirations that can help them stay on track throughout their journey,” Dr Brindal says.

Tips for how to get into a weight loss mindset

We spoke with Accredited Practising Dietitian Pennie McCoy for practical strategies you can implement to help you stay motivated and keep seeing results.
  • Map out your vision
  • Create SMART goals
  • Mix things up
  • Be flexible

RELATEDSimple tricks to motivate yourself to lose weight

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