If you’re like many people, you made a resolution to lose weight this year. But statistics show that more than 90 percent of resolutions fail. People generally have good reasons for making New Year’s resolutions, particularly to lose weight. Maybe your doctor has advised you to lose weight or you’re unhappy that your clothes are tight. Certainly, few people make resolutions with the intention to fail. But losing weight requires more than just a decision and a diet plan; it also requires an understanding of the obstacles you face. Before you even start your diet, understanding why you eat can improve your odds of success.

The Cognitive Processes Behind Eating

Eating is so much more than just going to the cupboard or refrigerator and making a selection. The decisions we make about what to eat are comprised of many individual factors. Our likes and dislikes, personal and cultural attitudes toward food, and our thought processes all determine when and why we eat. For most of us, our eating habits are so deeply ingrained as to be nearly unconscious. We often make decisions about what to eat without even thinking about it.

Beliefs and Thoughts in Weight Loss

Our cognitive processes play a big part in our weight-loss success. But, because we may be on auto-pilot when deciding what to eat and when, it requires conscious effort to change. The strength of our commitment to change is constantly tested by subconscious thought patterns. Many of these thought patterns are old and well-entrenched. They are often self-defeating, leading us to believe that one mistake means we’re forever doomed or that we’ll always be heavy. Recognizing those thoughts is the first step to changing them.

How to Maintain the Right Mindset for Weight Loss

Even if fad diets promise instant transformations, slow and steady progress is what really wins the weight-loss game. But maintaining the right efforts over the long term can be challenging—especially if your mind isn’t in the right space.

One of the most important keys to weight loss success is learning how to monitor your own eating habits. Many people don’t honestly know when they’re hungry because they have years of experience ignoring their natural cues. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Some estimates suggest that many people deal with chronic, low levels of dehydration.

In addition to knowing the difference between thirst and hunger, it’s also important to become really attuned with how it feels to be full. We may eat well past the point of being satisfied for a variety of reasons, such as social cues, poor stress management techniques, and eating foods that trigger over-eating.

Be Gentle with Yourself

Transforming our relationship with food usually requires changing beliefs and eating habits that we may have held for our entire lives. We receive countless messages about food and weight from family and society alike. Our society is one that is very fast-paced and stressful and we may not have learned healthy coping mechanisms. Making the effort to learn healthier coping strategies for stress and painful emotions is a major step in healing our relationships with food.

Be aware that you have to make these changes in order to achieve permanent weight loss. Making these major shifts in your thought processes won’t happen easily or overnight. It’s important to be gentle with yourself, especially if you face setbacks. You may fall back into old habits, but you can just brush yourself off and try again. One mistake doesn’t have to equal a lifetime of defeat. When you invest the time and effort into healing your relationship with food, you’ll likely see your body change for the better as well.

To learn more, contact me for a free 10-minute consultation.