When it comes to losing weight, what makes the biggest difference?
Is it the foods you eat?
Is it the foods you SHOULDN'T eat?
Is it the type of exercise you do?
Although it's easy to think of losing weight as simply being about physical things like food and exercise, there is a crucial element that is easily missed.
It's the psychology of losing weight.
When you think about any major goal that you've ever accomplished, although there were lots of steps involved, it was something that changed in your thinking that enabled you to start the journey and to finish it.
Weight loss is no different.
Of course this doesn't mean you can neglect eating and activity, but it means all three aspects (diet, exercise and psychology) need to be aligned.
So here are four small changes to your thinking that will get you in the right mindset to lose weight.
1. Stop thinking about "losing weight"
Instead of thinking about losing weight, think about how you will lose weight and keep it off.
Most people focus on the losing weight part, and think that once they lose weight, everything will be rosy after that.
But we're talking about a lifetime of eating habits, and we're talking about an activity (eating) that you'll be doing for the rest of your life.
So losing it is only part of the goal. There's certainly no point losing weight if you gain it all back a few weeks later.
As soon as you start thinking about how to keep the weight off, you start thinking about more lasting, sustainable ways to lose weight.
It means investing the time and energy to create lasting habits.
2. Realise that weight loss can be messy
Do you believe that if your weight loss is successful, it should be quick and uneventful?
The truth is, especially for the age group of clients I see in my clinic (women over 40), weight loss is always a bit "messy".
When I say messy, I mean that there will always be a few setbacks along the way. As you get older, weight loss does tend to take a bit longer, and you're more likely to experience plateaus (where the weight doesn't budge even if you're doing all the right things).
This is good to know, because most people feel like they're doing something wrong if their weight loss plan hits a few snags.
Let me repeat, if things don't go smoothly when you're losing weight, you're not doing anything wrong and it doesn't mean you won't succeed.
3. Don't think you need to suffer
Most people associate managing their weight with deprivation.
But if you're going to keep this up for the rest of your life, you can't afford to feel deprived. Deprivation is not sustainable.
I tell my clients, if they feel deprived or like they're suffering, they've taken a wrong turn.
For weight loss to be sustainable it needs to be pleasant. This means learning to cut back eating without feeling deprived or missing out on social activities.
And it also means if you're doing exercise it needs to be pleasant and fun!
4. Stop thinking about deadlines
I know that most people have deadlines for losing weight. It could be before going on holiday, a wedding, or a particular birthday.
But the deadline is probably making it less likely you're going to succeed because it puts pressure on you.
If you give yourself four weeks to lose 10 pounds, and after two weeks, you've only lost three pounds, it's going to make you feel stressed.
You're going to either try and starve yourself to lose weight quicker (which is very bad) or give up because it's not going fast enough (which is just as bad).
Take the pressure off. Forget the deadline. It's not helping.
Most people know that they need to eat less and exercise more to lose weight.
But it is often the psychology of weight loss that makes the difference as to whether you succeed at your goal.
For more about a behavioural approach to losing weight click here.