Want to Lose Weight? Get into the Right Mindset
By Dietitian Lyndel Costain BSc RD
Take the Quiz
You want to lose weight, but are you ready? This quiz is a sort of reality check for your mindset. Take a few moments to find out your score, then have a look at the the statement insights to start to fill any readiness gaps.
Answer TRUE or FALSE to the following statements:
A score over 7 indicates that you have a positive and realistic mindset towards losing weight, and are more likely to succeed long-term.
If you scored less than 4, your answers reflect potential mental blocks to achieving your weight loss goals. Take a look at the insights below to strengthen areas where you're struggling.
Insights Behind Each Statement
1 - My goal is to lose a lot of weight, only then will I be happy with my weight
You are far from alone if you chose ‘true’ for this statement. It’s notoriously difficult to take action now towards achieving something that seems way off in the foggy future. The perception of a long period of time doesn’t provide the urgency to get started today.
Try thinking about how reaching milestones along the way might make you feel. For example, losing a stone, dropping a clothes size, suddenly realising you feel lighter on your feet.
From a health point of view, losing just 5% of your body weight has major benefits – decreasing your risk of diseases like diabetes, lowering your chance of having a heart attack or getting cancer.
Plus, once you start seeing some success, on and off the scales, your confidence will grow. You’ll feel more motivated and be more likely to stay focused.
Try to think about the variety of things that weight loss, a little or a lot, could do for you. Take a look at our 21 benefits of weight loss (from people at different stages of their journey) for inspiration.
2 - I accept the wisdom that it’s best to lose weight gradually.
If you answered false here, it may help you to do a bit of detective work. Especially amongst friends and family, because they are living proof of what works for the long term and what’s a two-week, or even 2 month, wonder that doesn’t achieve anything permanent.
Maybe you know people who seem to have been trying ‘fast’ weight loss methods all their lives without really getting anywhere.
Try thinking about it this way - is it better to:
- Spend a year quickly losing and gaining the same half a stone? (Lots of us do this, “Ooh I’ve lost 4lbs this week”.)
- Get to the year end having lost a pound or two every week at an easily manageable pace you can keep up. (Giving you a loss of 4-6 stones in a year, if you want/need to lose that amount.)
There’s a big problem with miracle diets - you need miracles to make them work. You'll never be mentally prepared for serious weight loss if you're looking for one.
Perhaps if you could relax about losing weight in the fastest possible way, you’d open yourself up to thinking about less drastic, more sustainable ways of reaching your goal.
3 - I have spent time thinking about my current lifestyle, for example my eating habits and how active I am
If you haven’t done this yet, it’s a really good idea and could save you the pain of a lot of false starts and falling off the wagons.
What things in your day-to-day life an impact on what you eat and drink and how much you move?
You’ll probably be surprised at how many you come up with once you start making a list. And how much what’s going on seems to dictate what you do.
The logical next step here is to take back some of that control for yourself – consciously decide ahead what you’re going to eat/drink/do for at least parts of your day.
The added bonus of spending a little time on this, is that you’ll find you identify some of the low hanging fruit of weight loss – easy changes you can make that will help you lose weight.
4 - I realise that to be successful I need to make some permanent changes to the way I eat and how physically active I am.
Yep. If you thought this wasn’t true, we hate to break the ‘bad’ news.
But hang on a minute, is it bad news that you’ll look and feel better if you eat more healthy foods?
Is it bad news that you’ll likely live longer, keep your mobility and your marbles for longer if you get a moderate amount of exercise – even just walking?
Does permanent mean you’ll never be able to have a cream cake or a Cosmo again?
Of course not. You just need to eat the healthier stuff as your 'normal' fare and the cakes and cocktails as treats – not the other way around.
5 - I Want to lose weight because it is important to me, not for somebody else.
This needs to be true for you if you are going to be successful.
Trying to lose weight because someone else wants you to is a recipe for failure for so many reasons, here’s the ones we think hurt the most:
- It undermines your self-esteem
- It makes you feel resentful, and therefore rebellious
- It takes away your control
- It stops you from exploring your own feelings and motivations with regard to weight loss.
We do better at weight loss when we’re intrinsically motivated. That is, when we have a clear idea of how we want to be and why and how we will benefit from being that way.
6 - Losing weight will help me deal with other problems in my life.
This could be true . . . If you’re talking about the problem of getting into your too too-tight jeans.
But losing weight won’t help you with the causes or cures of life’s big problems like relationships, or feeling out of control.
In fact it can be some of life’s big problems that play a part in your weight gain in the first place.
If you feel that your motivation for losing weight is to ‘solve’ your biggest problems, it may help to explore those problems, and your options, without the weight loss filter.
7- I am prepared to be more active on a regular basis
You don’t have to run marathons, or even 5k fun runs. But moderate exercise on a fairly consistent basis will make losing weight and keeping it off so much easier.
The bad news is that, without intervention, your body will burn progressively fewer calories year on year. That means weight gain is inevitable if you don’t continually cut the amount you eat correspondingly.
If you find this depressing, go ahead and get some exercise, it’ll make you feel good. A fast walk in the fresh air will do the trick.
Exercise will also help you to build and preserve your muscle tissue (which burns calories even while you’re asleep).
Movement burns calories, the more effort the movement takes, the more calories are burned. The more time spent moving the more calories are burned.
The more calories you burn, the more you can eat without gaining weight.
8 - I can only lose weight successfully if I don’t break my diet.
This falls under the category ‘all or nothing thinking’. And it’s so destructive.
Just because you go a bit, even a big bit, OTT on a meal, day, or week – doesn’t mean you’ve undone all your hard work. Losing weight’s not like giving up smoking.
A little excess on holiday or at a party isn’t going to put you back to square one. The only thing that will do that is you, using your lapse as an excuse to give up.
You’ll almost certainly ‘break your diet’ (or at least your calorie allowance) occasionally. But that won’t stop you from continuing to lose weight, so long as you get back on track at the next opportunity. (No guilt or beating yourself to a pulp required.)
9 - I realise that to lose weight and keep it off I’ll need to invest some time learning more about food and ways to be more active, and planning ahead each week.
Acquiring any knowledge makes us feel good about ourselves and increases our confidence in our abilities. Confidence and self-efficacy are essential for successful weight loss.
Make that knowledge specific to food, energy, activity and the relationship between them and you have the ingredients for a slimmer waistline.
Add a little forward planning and you’ve got a recipe for success.
10 - My main motivation for losing weight is because I loathe how I look.
Unless you have a really compelling need to look like a super model, looks alone are often not a strong enough motivation to carry you through to successful and sustainable weight loss.
It’s worth spending a bit of time examining your mind and emotions for some back up other than that you don’t like how you look.
Start by asking yourself how losing weight might impact different areas of your life.
For more info Read Lyndel's Strategies to Beat Problems Losing Weight
If you're ready to get started read our guide: How to Get Started on Your Weight Loss Journey
You can use the food diary and journal in Weight Loss Resources to help you through this process, try it free for 24 hours.