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The most important aspect of a weight loss journey is not diet or exercise. It is your mental commitment. Know the ways to improve your mental state as you get ready for your weight loss journey. ~ Ed.
Weight Loss plans and journeys are almost always highlighted by diet and exercise routines. Their correlation to weight loss cannot be denied, but I believe they’re drastically overrated.
After completing a weight loss journey of my own, losing 80 pounds in 7 months, I realized how misguided and misinformed so many people were when it came to weight loss.
The weight loss resources on the internet and in general in our world are endless. But their focus is almost always on some specific diet and/or exercise plan. Plain and simple, those things aren’t the most important factors.
The most important aspect of a weight loss journey is your mental commitment.
When I say mental commitment, I’m referring to mental toughness, motivation, and confidence primarily. These are the keys to a successful weight loss journey.
Some of you may be discouraged at this point, because maybe you don’t naturally have much confidence, motivation, mental toughness, etc. But not to worry, you can develop these characteristics.
Mental toughness and motivation were all I had, which thankfully helped me to eventually develop the other characteristics, but I did so with no help whatsoever.
My goal is to help you so that you’re not alone on this journey. Even if you have none of these characteristics right now, hopefully by the end of this piece you’ll have a framework to start pulling these out of yourself.
Trust me, they’re in there! Below you’ll find ways to improve your mental state as you get ready for this journey and as you move through it, all of which worked tremendously for me. But before I get into that, let me emphasize the importance of mental commitment.
The Importance of Mental Commitment
As I mentioned earlier, I was completely on my own for my weight loss journey. I was still 17 years old, balancing high school and my first job too. Though I was familiar with the gym, I had no workout plan. I also had no diet plan, I just cut the desert and tried to eat “healthy.”
I get upset because I see so many people misguided in their efforts. The fact of the matter is if you do not have strong mental commitment then you’ll never reach your weight loss goals. When people would ask me what the key to success was, I told them it was simple, I was fully committed to this journey mentally and the rest just fell into place.
If you have your mental approach down, then you won’t have problems with diet or exercise. If you’re not mentally committed then you’ll cheat on your diet, you’ll skip the gym often, and you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
But if your mental approach is solid, then you will rarely struggle to make the “right” decisions and to push forward. You’ll rarely even have the tempting thoughts of skipping the gym or cheating on your diet. This “grind” becomes just part of life and something you expect and look forward to, that’s how powerful the right mental state-of-mind can be.
I believe most people who struggle on their weight loss journeys are missing this key ingredient of having the right mental approach and commitment.
How to Develop and Refine Your Mental Commitment
This is no rocket science. You can start by creating a goal, develop a vision, dream success, have a strategy, believe in yourself, and be self-motivated.
Establish Goals & Envision Success
I’m sure you’re aware of the importance of goals and that they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, and timely. Make sure you don’t neglect these aspects. You must have your end goal in place, you can’t just simply say “I want to lose weight.”
Think, what does “success” look like? Not just how much weight or the timeframe, but what does success look like, envision it and this “new” version of yourself. This vision ended up being one of the biggest motivators for me throughout the process. When I was near the end of my run or thinking whether I should have that cookie or not, it was this vision that came into my head and gave me mental strength.
The more you envision success, the more confidence you’ll have to bring it to fruition. In a way, envisioning success is a trick you have to play on yourself to start believing you can achieve something. Lock that vision in your head and make the promise to yourself that you’re going to turn this “dream” into reality.
Focus on Small Wins
You must start big by determining your end goal, but then the rest should be about small goals and wins.
I suggest that these small goals be unrelated to actual weight loss. While that sounds counterintuitive, you must understand that relying on a scale for accomplishment is a dangerous path.
Early on, the scale will most likely reflect the work you put in. But eventually, the numbers slow down and become inconsistent. The numbers will eventually come but instead, focus on small wins that you can control.
My small wins were mostly related to exercise. For example, I used running as my main source of cardio during my journey. Each week, my small goal was to run the same distance I did the previous week, but to increase my pace on the treadmill. Sometimes this was a slight increase, other times it was a lot. But the point was that I made it so each week I had to push myself. I found this to be perhaps the best thing I did during this journey, as it taught me that my physical limitations weren’t what I made them to be.
This also made my mental toughness get much stronger, as each week I was requiring more mentally and pushing myself. It’s important to remember that mental toughness can be worked on. If you struggle with mental toughness, then help yourself out and commit to small fitness goals like that each week.
Start small and work your way up, I guarantee you’ll see a noticeable change in what you can endure mentally. The small wins are a must to keep your mental approach strong. We as humans need a sense of accomplishment, so give it to yourself! By achieving small goals each week, your confidence will begin to build, you’ll remain positive, and you’ll be taking a step in the right direction each week towards reaching your end goal.
Only Worry About Yourself
Many people will lose their mental commitment by thinking too much about others. I struggled with this a lot early on. I would find myself wondering how others could eat worse than me, not workout, but still look better, I didn’t understand why I had to work harder. Sometimes, I would be nervous about getting on the treadmill, fearing people would judge the 250lbs me who is struggling to run long.
The thoughts and worries went on and on, and it nearly ended my journey. But I started to realize that I have to block these thoughts out. Whenever I was able to do so, the productivity was just so much higher. It’s important to remember that other people cannot dictate what you can achieve here. This journey is all about you, no one else.
You don’t know their circumstances, background, health history, and so on, and they don’t know yours! Everyone’s journey is unique to them. Thinking about others is bringing no positive value to you! I know what it’s like to not have confidence and to worry too much about what others think, but I also know how destructive that is and how powerful self-belief is.
If you believe in yourself, then it doesn’t matter what others think or do. They don’t control you; you control you. This journey is entirely in your hands, so don’t waste your time bringing other people in.
Reflect Throughout the Process
This is vital for maintaining a high level of mental commitment. I did my reflection as if I was journaling in away. I approached it with a positive tone, which is crucial. Come to terms now with the fact that you will have setbacks, you’ll make mistakes, you’ll meet with discouragement. This is all part of the process.
The key is in how you handle these moments. Address them, learn from them, and make adjustments to avoid them in the future. Focus on the positives too. It’s easy to get caught up in our shortcomings and neglect our successes, but you cannot disregard success. You’ll find that you most likely have way more positive things you’ve done than negative, in fact, you probably haven’t even acknowledged the most positive things you’ve done.
This acknowledgment is important because it’ll allow you to show yourself how good you’re doing. I find reflection to be one of the best ways to improve my mental state and it allows me to know myself better than anything else. That allowed me to be more honest with myself, hold myself accountable, and move forward with a heightened sense of clarity. Use reflection to keep yourself steady on your path and to learn about yourself.
The hardest part about weight loss is that it’s a long process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and most people lose the motivation to keep going. I believe that happens because people don’t do enough to channel their inner motivation.
There will be hard days, very hard days. Some mornings you’ll wake up and nothing inside of you will want to go workout or eat a healthy meal. It’s times like these in which you’ll need extra motivation. Know that motivation is all mental and that we all have it, whenever you don’t feel it, it’s a matter of digging deep to find it.
As I said earlier, I don’t struggle a lot with motivation, however, I’m still a human just like everyone else. Whenever I felt weak, I thought of that vision I mentioned at the start. I thought about my goal and the promise I made to myself, I made it a matter of not letting myself down. Reinforce the power of holding yourself accountable, the more you do, the less you’ll need to do so.
It’s also important you find that additional source of motivation. For me, it’s certain kinds of music and motivational speakers. This specific music and these speeches have always got me going, so whenever I was struggling, I called upon them for help. This is crucial not just for getting yourself to eat healthily or workout, but to push yourself during this process as well. For example, those last few minutes of the run is where I cranked up the music or put on the best speech. You must remember that you’ll be pushing your body beyond its perceived limits, make it easier on yourself.
Channel whatever made you get off the couch and say, “enough is enough.” Something lit a fire inside you to start you on this journey, so don’t let go of that. Harness it and use it. If you don’t know what gets the juices pumping for you, then find it and use that in your moments of weakness. It’s in there, but it’s on you to pull it out.
Wrapping it Up
Remember that the mental portion must come before all else during this journey. Without it, you will not reach your goals.
Hopefully, this has helped you see the importance of it and how to manage it going forward. Be a friend to yourself throughout this process. I know the degree of unhappiness with oneself that comes with the need for such a journey but keep positivity at the forefront.
You’ve already taken such a big step in actually wanting to make a change, that’s often the hardest part. Focus on getting your mental approach down and continually refine it throughout this process. Your mind is your biggest asset and your best friend during this journey, but only if you let it be!
Over to You
I now implore you to ask yourself: are you mentally committed to your weight loss journey?