What is the most important part of Weight Loss?
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
What is the most important factor in your weight loss journey?
Diet? Exercise? Carbs? Meal timing?
All these are important, but there is something far, far more important, that if not addressed will render all of the other factors inconsequential.
It is the single most overlooked aspect of any weight loss journey.
That factor is MINDSET.
One of the biggest barriers to the success of a healthy weight loss plan (and becoming healthy in general) is the dreaded “all or nothing” mindset. This paradigm is extremely destructive because in it you are constantly oscillating between two extremes.
On the one hand – full on pedal to the metal mode: dieting ‘hard’, intense exercise, no sugar, no carbs, no fun, “I am invincible and have will power of steel”.
On the other hand – full couch potato mode, “I don’t care anymore”, “losing weight is too hard”, “I can’t believe I have only lost 1 pound, life is no longer worth living and I want-to-have-ice-cream-now”.
When described like this, it seems obviously silly, however we all have a tendency towards these extremes. And they often result in a vicious cycle of:
Extreme dietary restriction --> Perceived “failure" -->Shame and depression --> Feelings of helplessness --> “I Give Up” (often accompanied by episodes of binge eating) --> More shame and depression --> More desperate desire to change --> More extreme dietary restriction --> and the cycle repeats…over, and over, and over…
The interesting thing is, we can be caught up in the destructive cycle of all or nothing often without even realizing it!
It takes practice to get out of the negative mindset cycle of all or nothing. It takes work to manage your expectations and come up with a life-long sustainable strategy that works for you. It takes understanding what nutrients are actually in food so that you can break irrational and fear/avoidance-based food behaviors. These are all things I work with folks on in my 1 to 1 coaching program.
But to get started consider these 3 strategies:
1) Start thinking long term. I mean loooooong.
Stop thinking about where you will be in 4 weeks from now, or even 6 or 8 weeks. Start thinking of where you want to be in 3 years, 5 years and 10+ years from now. This long-term, projection-based thinking will help get you out of the ultra-reactive mindset that keeps you spinning your wheels.
2) Come up with a daily “minimum”.
This is the absolute minimum thing that you can commit to do every day that will bring you one small step closer to your health goals. Think baby-steps. Sometimes you may feel up to doing more than this, but you will NEVER do less.
This could be something like eating protein with breakfast, or eating at least one vegetable with each meal. On a “bad day” this could be as little as one celery stick with your hamburger and fries. I know it sounds ridiculous, and hopefully you will want to wean yourself off sugar and fast foods permanently and make healthy choices when you eat out, but by including that celery stick (or any other vegetable) you are reminding yourself that you want to be healthy, and you aren’t giving up completely. This is POWERFUL.
Another idea could be drinking at least 1 cup (250mL) of water directly before each meal, no matter what that meal is. It’s the same idea. You never stop doing healthy behaviors, even if you are still working on stopping unhealthy habits.
3) Journal about your health goals.
Putting pen to paper helps us to conceptualize and process our thoughts, so that what is in our head becomes “concrete”. Journal about your daily and weekly wins (things you did well, that are helping you become the healthiest version of yourself), and the things that you can do better (again, think baby steps) the next day, week, month, etc.
I hope this gives you some food for thought (no pun intended). Comment below if you have any!
Cheers to your healthy future,
- Dr. Sheldon, BSc., ND