The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!
A. What is Mindset?
Your mindset determines how you approach challenges and problems. It encompasses your beliefs about yourself and your abilities. Basically, your mindset is a set of assumptions that determine how you behave, your outlook on life, and your attitude towards whatever is going on around you. It includes ideas and attitudes that determine how you think about yourself and the world around you.
Carol Dweck is a psychology professor who wrote the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. Based on her extensive research, she demonstrates that it’s not simply our abilities and talent that bring us success, but whether we approach challenges with a “fixed” or “growth” mindset.
B. The Two Types of Mindset
People with a fixed mindset:
- View their degree of ability as stable or unchangeable.
- Believe that talent alone determines degree of success.
- Avoid challenges when the outcomes are uncertain. Instead, they choose paths they believe lead to guaranteed success.
- View a challenge as something that gets in the way of success (many in fact will give up when faced with challenges).
- View effort as pointless when the outcome is uncertain.
- View any criticism as a reflection of their abilities, and attempt to avoid criticism at all costs.
- Often feel threatened by other people’s triumphs.
- Have a fear of failure and avoid it as much as they can.
People with a growth mindset:
- View strengths and abilities as areas that can be grown and developed by working hard, practicing and learning.
- View challenges as opportunities for growth and development, and take them on even when they know there’s a risk of failure.
- When faced with obstacles, will try something different instead of giving up.
- View failures as an opportunity to learn.
- Believe that continued effort will eventually lead to success.
- View critique as a something to learn from, regarding the particular area of ability or skill that they need to improve.
- Don’t view criticism as a personal attack or comment on their abilities in general.
- Seek ways to learn from – and are inspired by – other people’s successes.
C. Why is Mindset important for Weight Loss Maintenance?
As we all know, maintenance can be every bit as challenging as weight loss – perhaps even more so. After all, millions of people succeed at losing weight every year, don’t they? But a much smaller percentage succeed at long-term maintenance. That said, there’s absolutely no reason to throw in the towel. You and I just need to learn what works for us as individuals, and stick with it.
That said, it’s clear from what you’ve read about the distinction between a growth and a fixed mindset that the former is essential for successful weight loss maintenance (as well as for overcoming whatever other challenges life throws at us).
If you have a growth mindset, you’re going to:
- Be open to gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure your success (learn about nutrition, cooking healthy delicious food, effective ways to exercise, stress management strategies, how to overcome emotional eating, and so on).
- Persist despite the challenges you’ll face along the way (parties, vacations, family gatherings, potential saboteurs, food-laden workplaces, and so on). You’ll focus on developing strategies for managing these potential minefields.
- Be inspired by other people’s success stories, and learn from them, even if they appear to be “more successful” than you feel you are, and even if they’ve faced different challenges than you have.
- Embrace potentially challenging situations (the office party, the food-pushing mother-in-law) rather than miss out on potentially enjoyable events, because you’re going to focus on developing coping strategies that work.
- Persist with maintenance goals despite setbacks (illness or injuries that interrupt your exercise program, weight fluctuations, having days when you make less-than-ideal food choices), rather than giving up.
D. How you can Change your Mindset
Dr Dweck suggests 3 steps for changing your mindset from a fixed one to a growth one.
1. Recognize thoughts that indicate a fixed mindset
- My genes are my doom. No-one else in my family can keep the weight off for long, so there’s no way I can either.
- I don’t have the patience or the willpower to see this through.
- I can’t help it. My family doesn’t support me.
- It’s impossible. My workplace is a donut minefield.
- I don’t like exercise so I can’t do it.
- I hate cooking so there’s no way.
- I don’t want to try and fail again, so I’ll just give up now.
2. Acknowledge that you have a choice
Affirm that you’re free to choose to continue holding onto your fixed mindset, or take steps to change it.
3. Transform negative, fixed mindset thoughts into positive, growth mindset thoughts, by “talking back” to the fixed mindset thoughts.
- Other people have kept the weight off despite their family history, so I can learn to do it too.
- I can strengthen my self-control muscle. I can do this.
- I’m not going to rely on others to support me. It’s up to me. I want this, so I’ll do it.
- I care about myself enough to figure out how to resist the toxic food at my workplace.
- I’ll experiment with exercise to find something that’s fun, even if it takes a while.
- I’ll learn how to cook simple, fast healthy meals, or buy them from a healthy food store.
- If I make mistakes along the way, I’ll learn from them.
4. Once you transform any fixed mindset thoughts, act on them
- Write down your goals for the day, at the beginning of each day. At the end of the day, note how it went. Don’t beat yourself up if you accomplished less than you’d hoped. Instead, learn from it. Maybe you set your expectations too high. Learn and adjust.
- Learn as much as you can. Read books, newsletters and blogs. Learn from the masters. Talk to people who’ve been there and overcome. Ask for advice.
- Take on small, doable challenges. As you experience small successes, you’ll feel encouraged to take on other challenges.
If you’re feeling stuck in terms of reaching your goals, coaching can help move you forward. If you’re interested in getting unstuck, contact me for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
With your continued health in mind,
Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management
Creator, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management
The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.