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How to Mentally Prepare to Lose Weight on a Diet

By Derek Bryan ; Updated July 18, 2017

Losing weight requires consistent focus and psychological preparation. Without the proper mental resolve, your weight-loss efforts could deteriorate as you lose motivation or become apathetic toward your plan. If you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off successfully, you must take the time to psychologically prepare yourself for the experience.

Set Goals

Setting goals early is one of the most effective ways to maintain your long-term focus and hold yourself accountable for your diet. A realistic, long-term goal with smaller “milestone” goals in between will allow you to monitor your progress and consistently remember that you’re doing this for long-term results. For example, if your goal is to lose 12 pounds in six weeks, set a smaller goal of losing 2 pounds every week. Write your goals down somewhere you can see; having a tangibly written goal makes it seem more real and more significant in your mind.

Throw Away Junk Food

Like most people, you probably have boxes of junk food somewhere in your house. When you commit to losing weight, it’s best to find them and throw them away. Compulsive overeating is often a result of “food triggers,” visual stimuli that tempt you to eat unhealthy foods in excessive quantities. In removing these food triggers from your house, you’ll be making a hard commitment to your weight-loss plan, and you’ll also be avoiding subtle temptations to overeat.

Think Long Term

While temporary diets are effective in promoting short-term weight loss, UCLA researchers in 2007 found that one-third to two-thirds of all dieters regain more weight than they initially lost. In order to successfully lose weight and keep it off, think about your plan in terms of lifestyle changes rather than temporary restrictions. Focus on sustainable choices you will make over the next several months and years, rather than restrictions you will impose over the next several days and weeks.

Select and Visualize Rewards

Planning occasional rewards is another way to increase your chances of weight-loss success. When you plan your goals, take the effort to outline small rewards for your milestone goals and a bigger reward for your final goal. Buying clothes in your goal size will be a physical reminder of your objectives and will keep you positive as you get incrementally closer to earning them. Tangible rewards also give you a reason to talk about your goals and success publicly, further encouraging you to continue.

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