Why is it hard to lose weight and keep it off? 3 Key Mindset Shifts that will help.


Dr Rajeev Gupta, MBBS, MD, MRCP (UK), FRCPCH, MD, MBA

Weight management consultant and Book Author for Weight Loss


Weight loss is hard. Despite of eating less and doing exercises it doesn’t seem to help losing weight – this is the story I hear every week seeing the patients in my weight management clinic.

Well, you may be surprised to hear weight loss isn’t where people struggle the most.

IA larger proportion of people manage to get some weight loss going to gym, weight watchers, slimming world etc, however they struggle to keep it off.

There are all sorts of diets and challenges people use to lose weight. The problem is this rapid weight loss never lasts. Once you stop the diet or challenge, the weight comes right back. You may even end up heavier than you were before the diet!

So, I’m going to give you 4 crucial mindset shifts you need to adopt if you’re tired of gaining weight after dieting.

  1. Think long term habits not short-term fixes

You need to change your time frame. If you look for quick fixes, you’ll only get short term results. You need to stop thinking about losing weight quickly and start thinking about how to lose weight sustainably.

Renowned Strength coach Dan John challenges people to lose 1 pound in a year. Inevitably, people scoff at the idea. But is it really such a ridiculous goal given that most people gain 1 pound a year? (https://www.acpm.org/page/holidayweightgain)

When deciding the actions, you’re going to take towards weight loss ask yourself if it’s something you could see yourself doing for 5 or 10 years. This is what I mean by changing your time frame.

Your results are tied to your actions. If you can’t maintain the actions that got you weight loss, you won’t maintain your weight loss.

Stop thinking weeks. Start thinking years.

  1. Ignore shiny objects

This may be even harder than ever. Information and fads can spread so quickly with social media. There’s always some new, sexy secret that will be the answer to all your problems.

But I assure you, success is about mastering the basics. Not the fancy stuff.

It’s all about practicing basic and boring habits like:

  • Eating more protein and veggies,
  • Listening to your hunger cues,
  • And getting enough sleep.

Not exactly marketable advice, but it works. Ultimately, any diet that works does so because it keeps your calories low. There’s nothing magic about it. In fact, most fads are just repackaging of old fads.

Unless you become a hermit and lock yourself away in a cave, you will be tempted by whatever is in style right now, or whatever your friends and colleagues are doing.

Ignore it all.

Those are all shiny objects that distract you from what you ought to be doing.

Stay focused. Stick with a program or plan for at least 6 months before you even think about looking for a new one.

  1. Focus on the process

Weighing yourself every day is a good way to drive yourself crazy. You can do everything right and sometimes the scale will still go up! Daily weight fluctuations are unpredictable and uncontrollable because your weight at a given time is based on so much more than just how much fat or muscle you have.

Besides, you can’t control how fast results happen anyway.

You can only control the actions you take to get you those results. A better way to look at your journey is by developing a razor-sharp focus on the process, on what you need to be doing right now.

Because actions cause results. So, it’s logical to focus on actions. Thinking about results won’t get you there, but actions will.

Celebrate all the little things you do well.

If you went to the gym, give yourself a high five. If you ate more veggies than you did last week, congratulate yourself.

These are the things that matter. So long as you keep improving your actions, the results will follow. Plus, this actually gives you a more accurate idea of progress because what your weight says on a given day doesn’t necessarily reflect how close you are to long term results.

For example, you could go out drinking the night before and see the scale go down. Or you could do a hard workout and see the scale go up. Which one do you think is better for weight loss?

Action is everything. Additionally, when you develop your focus, you’re less vulnerable to the distractions of shiny objects.

When you focus and celebrate your actions, the subconscious mind store it as a positive pathway to repeat actions that bring these results. These actions thus become habit and habits bring the results that stick. You will be a winner and will be proud of your body and looks.

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DR Rajeev Gupta uses narrative and stories in the talk and says it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of narrative in a talk. He tells a story in which he is the principal character. His stories are fun. With his amusing stories, he hooks the audience and they willingly follow him even into dark corners of an unknown topic. 

Through his functional,  stories he can engage people in the audience who may be struggling to follow the topic. 

Dr Gupta says that - it amazes me that people prepare talks without ever asking themselves this question, but they appear to. A lot of people spend too much time describing their research methods -- what they did, and what their data look like. It's easy to understand why people make that mistake: what you did is, after all, what you spent most of your time doing. But the whole point of your research effort was to learn something that you could then communicate to others. There's no need to force your audience to endure the same tedium. You can save your audience all that work by telling them what it was you learned.