Are your beliefs about yourself sabotaging your weight loss?

THERE are many reasons why people find it hard to stick with healthy eating and good lifestyle habits – and more often than not the biggest problem is what’s going on inside their mind. We all know how powerful the mind is and the stories you tell yourself and the things you believe about yourself can really have a massive impact on your life, both positive and negative.

There is a direct link between our beliefs and our behaviour and of course this includes the way we behave towards food too. If you believe you CAN lose weight your actions every day will reflect those beliefs.

And likewise if you’ve given up believing losing weight is possible, you’ll behave very differently.  This can mean you don’t care any more because you’re resigned to being fat all your life and there’s no motivation.

It can also mean you do care but you are full of fear and anxiety about yet another failure, so your heart isn’t in it.  I come across a lot of people who are full of fear and find it much easier to believe they can’t lose weight and this then becomes a subconscious protection tool so that they don’t get disappointed.

Dr Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University in America, is famous for her research on two different types of mindset, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

Here’s a really cute video that explains her research in nice simple terms:

The big thing about Carol’s research is that it talks about the connection between what you believe and how that then translates to what you do.

For example, if you believe things about yourself like “I can’t lose weight” or “It’s hard for me to lose weight because I’ve got a disability” or “I’ve got no willpower” – that’s the fixed mindset.

It means you’ll avoid doing things where you might feel like a failure and as a result you prefer to stop the healthy eating regime, and this will inevitably mean you self sabotage.  On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset tends to overcome challenges rather than avoid them and learn from comments and criticism, seeing them as inspirational and even motivational.

One of the limiting things about having a fixed mindset is it causes you to avoid experiences where you might feel like a failure. As a result you have a reluctance to learn and you avoid personal development because it’s too much of a risk.

I notice fixed mindsets nearly every day with people I serve. In so many cases they’ve come to Slimpod when everything else has failed.  They’ve been on 20 or 30 diets and have just given up believing it’s possible to change. They may not even have been that type of person before they started dieting.

So what can be done about this?  How can you change the things you believe about yourself?  How can you kick out the fixed mindset and achieve your goals?

How small daily actions can change your beliefs

Once you’ve identified that you have a fixed mindset and you would like to change the things you believe about yourself, the most important thing is to do something about it and take some action.

You can change your self-limiting beliefs by thinking of yourself as the person you’d like to become and getting there with small actions repeated every day.

When you enjoy the process of getting to the goal, this begins to change the way you think of yourself and will also start the process of changing your perception of yourself at an  identity level.

This is crucial because it’s at the identity level that real change happens.  If you want to lose three dress sizes and become a UK size 12, you MUST believe you can do it and then start becoming the person who IS the size 12.

This will help you to not only believe it’s possible but behave like a size 12 person.  It totally shifts your mindset.

The way of achieving this is to start with small steps.  You definitely need the goal in mind but that big hairy goal is not going to be achieved tomorrow so you can put it to the back of your mind right now.

The important thing is to start with the small steps and enjoy the process.  The process will then become a habit and you’ll gain loads of confidence along the way because you’ll start seeing results and begin to believe you CAN DO IT!

You’ll start to think of yourself as someone who CAN lose weight. So let’s break this down into small chunks, too:

  1. Set the big goal/intention.
  2. Set yourself a small action each day – this can be to eat protein three times a day, or reduce your full fat sugary lattes from three cups to one cup. Or plan your lunch and dinner in advance so you’re not grabbing the processed convenience junk. Or do a Hiit session three times a week.  Then DO THIS EVERY DAY!
  3. The thing that will make a difference is your dedication to the daily practice of your small action.  This will change everything because the process will help you form different beliefs about who you are. It will help you become a person who believes they CAN DO.

Too many people think that the result will define who they are. “If I’m a size 12 it will transform my life and make me happy.” But this is not the case.

It’s your daily behaviour and actions that will change what you believe about yourself and the size 12 person you become. It’s all about focusing on the everyday process of eating healthily rather than constantly worrying about the number on the scale.

Are you a person with a fixed mindset and if so, what small daily actions can you perform to start changing your beliefs?  Do let me know in the comments below –  I look forward to hearing from you!

There are quite a few videos of Carol Dweck on YouTube, by the way. Take a look for yourself:

If you want to delve deeper into Carol’s work, she has a fascinating book which I often dip into called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. You’ll find it on Amazon.


16 thoughts on “Are your beliefs about yourself sabotaging your weight loss?”

  1. Excellent post, thank you. Totally agree with everything it says. Thankfully I most frequently have a growth mindset which is why the inches are slowly dropping, not fast but there is a definite trend.

  2. Think I’ve fixed mindset because I always take months to lose just a little bit of weight, even just half stone could take up to a year despite trying hard with food and exercise.

  3. Wow it’s a lot to take in,but I know if I follow this program I will come out the other side slimmmer , happier healthier and fitter. Normally I would not read all the text just go to the videos , but I have not moved from my sofa
    Watched the two videos just in time to pick up my daughter. Watch this space ?

  4. I like this very much. I think I tend to be a fixed mindset person, but very optimistic! I especially like the praise of great methods rather than great results … especially with the amount of testing in schools.

  5. Catherine Hamilton

    Very interesting, I think I have a fixed mindset but will try to change. Lately I have been trying to take more exercise and be more positive about losing weight, more importantly inches. The motivation pod is really helping.

  6. Catherine Hamilton

    I must have a fixed mindset as I always take ages to lose weight/inches and since joining thinking slimmer things are still moving slowly. However I feel better, am sleeping better and am more optimistic although I know this is going to take a while.

  7. I am impressed! Thank you for these two video’s I plan on buying the above mentioned book, perhaps my mindset needs looking at and working on!

  8. I’m definitely of fixed mindset, while listening to Carol a comment that a teacher made during a parents evening, came into my mind … and that was a long time ago. I quote “Janet is average in all she does, she tries but she just hasn’t got it” I guess my teacher wasn’t a yet person and this has stuck all my life. I can be that yet person, sometimes, but very easily fall back to the fixed mindset when times are difficult. Well I need to become that YET person. Thankyou very inspirational

  9. The mindset book has been on my shelf for ages waiting to be thoroughly read. I will do this over the Easter hols. As a teacher I can say that this approach works for pupils but I never thought to apply it to my eating habits. I never considered myself to have a fixed mindset as such but perhaps in some area I do. Thank you this trying to do mini steps should be useful. I have to give it a go.

  10. What a life changing thought. How the penny has dropped. I didn’t realise until now that I am of the fixed mindset. The keep fit horse analogy has certainly struck a chord. What a revelation!

    Thank you Sandra.

  11. William Grimason

    A very enlightening post and I agree and relate to everything it says. Although I am initially invigorated to loose weight, I find myself going through a ever revolving circle of self sabotague and after reading the post I realise that I am in a fixed mind set. Just wish I could download the two video’s to watch while I am onboard ship

  12. It’s funny, because I can take both sides, sometimes I’m open, sometimes closed, it is how a lot of clients of mine are the same, but I mainly feel you can learn.

  13. I’ve just watched this and now realise I have a fixed mindset. Hopefully I can now try and slowly change it. This has been very helpful.

  14. This is so helpful! Thank you! I wrote down all my limiting beliefs about weight loss and was shocked to find there were 9! I know all the things to do to be healthy and slim but unless I get to the root of my fears about it and stop limiting myself it doesn’t matter what program I follow. Thanks so much again xxx

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About Sandra
Founder of Thinking Slimmer
Food addiction expert
Member of All-Party Parliamentary Obesity Group
Huffington Post contributor
DipCHyp HPD NLP MasterPrac
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