A physical transformation without a mental one leaves something to be desired.
Here are 6 mindset obstacles that may be hindering success:
1) You are impatient and want all the results right now.
I understand why. There’s nothing less motivating than working your ass of for 2 weeks, getting on the scale and having not lost a single pound. It’s like, “Eff it, hello donuts!”
But the reality is that there’s a huge difference between rapid weight loss and sustained fat loss. The former is easy—just stop eating and go run marathons. But we all know that kind of loss doesn’t last and usually we end up fatter and with a less responsive metabolism later. And so the answer is actually NOT fast results, but slow, steady ones.
And this is mentally tough to wrap our head around, because we feel that the results we’re getting aren’t in alignment with the effort we’re putting out. At least not at the beginning.
And that’s actually true. The first 6 months of your fat loss journey are hands-down the hardest. Because everything feels, well, hard. You are breaking old habits that aren’t serving you, and you are establishing new ones that require a lot of activation energy and mindfulness. I liken it to pushing a boulder up a hill. At the beginning, you are doing all the work. But. Once you get to the top, and roll that boulder over the summit, momentum starts picking up. Your new behaviors become second nature and you wouldn’t dream of doing things your old way anymore. The initial work you did begins working for you.
But you have to mentally prepare for the time this will all take. Impatience gets you nowhere. It keeps things difficult and forces you to always be starting over. But I take comfort in this mantra from Dr. Jade Teta: “Don’t wish for easy, easy is earned.” Very true, and then, when things start becoming effortless, you will know that your hard work was worth it.
2) You’re just dabbling in this whole “getting-lean thing” and are secretly awaiting the moment you can back to your old ways.
I worked with a client a few years ago, and after we had coached for about a month together, things started getting tough. The pull to go back to old ways were strong—of course they were, the old ways are habits, our default state.
At one point, the client just came out and asked, “Will I never be able to eat freely ever again?” To this, I answered, “No, if you want sustainable fat loss, there will never be a time you will be able to eat to your heart’s desire ever again.”
Does this feel depressing? Or liberating? To me, it feels the latter because when I have found a sustainable healthy lifestyle, it means I am owning it and living it. Does that mean I don’t have occasional indulgences at times? Of course I do, it’s just a lot more strategic and it’s also practiced so that I just don’t feel that insatiable need to stuff my face to the point of button-popping.
The bottom line: this is a mindset shift. This is giving up all-or-nothing mentality where you are either completely depriving yourself OR eating everything until it’s all gone. Learning to navigate the middle 24/7 is liberating. You can’t have all of the cake all the time, and have fat loss too. But once you “get it,” then it’s no skin off your back—in fact, it’s freedom.
You can’t be ready for just a body change. You have to be ready for a life change.
3) You don’t believe you can actually be successful.
This has everything to do with self-belief. You don’t trust yourself to be in it for the long-haul which is why it’s easy to commit to 21-day sugar detoxes and 30 day cleanses: “It’s only 4 weeks!!”
Exactly. It’s only 4 weeks. What is your plan after that?
It’s scary to commit for longer time periods (or forever), which would require you just say, “I’m starting my forever-healthy lifestyle right this second, and it’s never going to end!” Ha! This is not incentivizing, is it? It doesn’t have the same kind of sexiness that a short-term jump start or cleanse does.
We are more excited by the idea of dieting than actually putting one step in front of the other and doing it, day to day, month to month, year to year. This is why most of the excitement of “a new plan” happens before you even get started. Because once you’re 3-4 weeks in, shit starts getting hard and it’s easier to just start looking for the next program than it is to double-down.
If you ask people who have lost 100+ lbs. how they did it, they say something along the lines of, “I just started walking down to the end of the street one day. And the next day I walked a little further…” and so on. This is not sexy, but this is the reality of what creates lasting change.
And the people who are the most successful don’t stress about, “Will this work?” or “Is this the right thing to be doing?” or “What else is out there?” They just do. Consistently. And they don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. They don’t question it, they just put one foot in front of the other and only focus on today.
They know that they can never control outcomes, but they can always control their behaviors in the moment, so they focus on that. One healthy behavior at a time, practiced day in and day out.
4) You’re a situational eater and allow your environment to dictate your food choices.
Situational eating is where we eat whatever simply because it’s in front of us, or “other people are eating it, why can’t we?” or we are at a certain location, like the movies where “you get popcorn” simply because that’s what you do at the movies.
Successful people don’t fall prey to the whims of their environment. They harness mindfulness and make the best choice possible wherever they end up. And they don’t have FOMO (fear of missing out) about it.
This is the difference between decisions and choices. Decisions take into account other people, surroundings, situations, locations, etc. They require we take into consideration things other than the fact that we want to eat healthy and get lean. Those who make decisions might go to The Cheesecake Factory and think, “Hmm, let me check out this insane menu to see what sounds good! And then well, we have to get cheesecake because pfft, how could we not?! We’re at The Cheesecake Factory!” People who consider all those things are making decisions and it usually doesn’t serve their goals.
On the other hand, people who are successful make choices. They don’t consider their environment, other people, special occasions, special places or circumstances. If they’re going to The Cheesecake Factory, before they even get there, they know they’ll be ordering a huge salad with grilled chicken and the dressing on the side. They don’t even know what bread or rolls are served but mentally, they already know they’re not having them. They know they won’t order cheesecake no matter how “special” an occasion it is or how much it might feel like missing out, because they know that cheesecake is a situational eating choice and it doesn’t serve them.
People who make choices are in control of their actions. People who are making decisions, alternatively, are working from a scarcity mindset where it’s now or never. Which, of course is never the case. Ask yourself, are you making choices or decisions?
5) You expect perfection 24/7 with your eating and workouts.
This may sound counterintuitive, but people who get and stay lean say, “Yes” to indulgences way more than they say no. But when they say yes, it’s to a small portion that they are using strategically to prevent deprivation: “Sure, I’ll have a bite.” Or “Yeah, I’ll try a sip.” Or, “Yes, I’ll have a fry off your plate.”
This is about consistently playing the middle and choosing a more moderate approach to preempt overindulgences later. Because 7 days of 90% clean will always beat 4 days of perfect eating followed by 3 days of all-out binging for both results and sanity.
But many people can’t get on board with moderation because “it feels like failure.”
I get that, and I used to think that way too. And so I would be on a strict competition day “starting Monday” and then white-knuckle my way through the week, only to arrive at Friday primed for a weekend-long binge. And then, of course, I’d vow to clean it up and “be even more strict” (to off-set the weekend binging) the following week. This is called The Deprive-the-Binge Cycle and it happens week after week, until we try a new way.
This is an important mindset shift because perfection is not possible. Nor is it advisable for long-term results and lifestyle change. And yet, we stay unsuccessful because we do the all-or-nothing thing. When in actuality, all-or-nothing always ends up being nothing.
6) You think, “It’s not fair!”
Welcome to The Victim Mindset. Let’s get this out of the way right now: fat loss is not fair. Nor is it linear or predictable. The body is not a furnace where if you just measure and consume 1200 calories every day, you get a specific result 12 weeks later.
Nope, your body is much more complex than that. And furthermore, every body is uniquely complex so when you see a neighbor losing 50 lbs on The Cookie Diet and the same doesn’t happen for you, it can feel “not fair,” when in reality, that’s the nature of body change. One person’s solution will be another person’s fat-gain formula.
This is a mindset issue. And the faster you get it out of your head that your process will be anything like anyone else’s, the faster you’ll get results.
It doesn’t matter that you and your husband do the same diet and he’s lost 15 lbs in 2 weeks and you’ve lost none. It doesn’t matter that your best friend can eat carbs like crazy and stay slim. It might not seem fair that your sister enjoys wine and dessert every night and you can’t even look at those things without gaining. Your body doesn’t care.
And if you want to get results, the best thing to do is to stop looking around and comparing your process to that of others. Each person is uniquely different, and the faster you realize that what someone else eats has literally zero to do with what you should be eating, the closer you’ll get to your goals.
The solution is to look inward and examine your metabolism, personal preferences and psychological sensitivities. How does it respond when you eat X? How’s your energy when you eat Y? Where’s your hunger and cravings at throughout the day? Does eating breakfast work for you or is fasting easier/better?
This is about getting up-close-and-personal with not only your body, but also your mind. Honing your mindset into one of success and empowerment, rather than victimhood and helplessness. And if you focus on the fairness of the process (or lack thereof), of course you’re going to feel like what you do doesn’t make a difference! You’ve already decided to be a victim of the process instead of delving into it.
Sustainable fat loss requires introspection, getting to know yourself better than any coach or expert ever could and then owning the process for the long haul. No “starting on Monday,” no end points in sight, no complaining and blaming, only honoring your process, doing your best, showing yourself a little compassion and not being afraid to get your hands dirty
By Jill Coleman
Ready to get your mind right once and for all? Jill’s 10-Week Mindset Makeover online program is open THIS WEEK ONLY for registration, now through Friday July 25th at midnight.