What Role Does Mindset Play in Weight Loss and Fitness Success?

What Role Does Mindset Play in Weight Loss and Fitness Success?

Having the right mindset is important for success in any area. How many goals would you achieve in life if you didn’t BELIEVE you could accomplish them? The same applies to achieving health and fitness goals. If you don’t have a “can do” mindset, you’ll likely give up before you reach your goals. Even if you don’t throw in the towel, you’ll likely be frustrated when you don’t see your body fat percentage drop or your fitness level increase. Mindset is a powerful force for making change.

Not convinced? Here’s a study that might change your mind. Researchers divided a group of 84 room attendants, all female, into two groups. Each group did a similar amount of hotel housekeeping work over a 4-week period. Researchers told one group that the work they were doing qualified as a workout and they were meeting the recommended guidelines for exercise (and burning lots of calories) just by doing their job. The other group was told nothing. Neither group consciously changed their diet or exercise habits outside of work. Still, the group who believed they were “working out” at work reaped the rewards of exercise. They lost weight and body fat and their blood pressure dropped. How’s that for mind power?

 Do You Have the Mind of a Champion?

Most successful athletes and bodybuilders have mastered the art of the mindset. Having the “mind of a champion” is what makes an athlete practice their sport and foster the belief that they can win. In fact, some coaches believe mental toughness is more important than talent and aptitude for sports success. Most coaches know the most talented athlete isn’t always the one who’s the winner. More often, it’s the athlete with a winning mindset. Having a positive mindset and belief in your abilities can help you meet your fitness goals. That’s true whether your goal is to get stronger, lose body fat, increase your endurance or improve your overall health. Raw talent is like “potential energy,” it doesn’t have any effect until you put it into motion.

Mindset Matters

Which mindset do you have?

The wrong mindset: “I’ve always been weak and bad at sports. There’s no way I can lift heavy weights and change my body composition. I’m too overweight/old/weak/unhealthy.”

The right mindset: “I’m not as strong as I should be or as young as I used to be, but with focus and determination, I can become stronger and healthier.”

The second mindset is a “growth” mindset. In contrast, people with a “fixed” mindset believe some lucky folks are born with strength and athletic talent and you either have it or you don’t. Needless to say, people with a fixed mindset have to change the way they think to be successful in almost anything they do. People with a growth mindset, embrace the challenge and see obstacles as something to overcome.

 It’s Not Enough Just to Set a Goal

No doubt setting short-term and long-term goals are vital for reaching your fitness goals, but your goals need to be specific and in writing. Then they need to be broken down into smaller steps that ultimately lead to a larger goal. You won’t get anywhere without a plan and a map. Then you need to document your progress by keeping a journal. But even that isn’t enough for success. You need to visualize the goals you’ve set for yourself. Why is visualization so important? It’s through visualization that you reprogram your mind to help you reach your goals.

How can you harness the power of visualization? Spend a few minutes before each workout, seeing yourself as strong and having the body composition you want. Then focus on what you’re going to do during the current workout to move closer to that goal.  See yourself lifting a challenging weight with confidence. Use as many senses as you can to make your visualization sessions “real.” Hear the sounds of metal clanking as dumbbells touch the floor. Feel the heat your body generates as you eke out the last squat. Make the vision as lifelike as possible. Doing this consistently will reprogram your subconscious mind and give you an “I can do it” mindset.

Immerse Yourself in the Fitness Culture

Surround yourself with people who are trying to reach goals similar to your own. Share your thoughts and your progress on fitness forums. Read the posts of others and learn from them. Give others who are trying to get fit encouragement. Then learn all you can about the fitness industry, the science of fitness and bodybuilding and the importance of good nutrition. The more you learn and the more support you give and get from others, the stronger and more positive your mindset will be. Doing this will help you stay motivated as well.

The Bottom Line?

You have more control over your mind than you think. If you don’t have a positive mindset or the belief that you can achieve your fitness goals, use these tips to change your limiting beliefs. Fitness success is as much a mental process as it is a physical one. You have more power and control over your body than you think!



FitnessRX for Women. “The Science of Self-Belief” December 2014.

Crum, Alia J., and Ellen J. Langer. 2007. “Mindset Matters: Exercise and the placebo effect” Psychological Science 18, no. 2:165-171.

Ascent through Leadership. “Do you have the mindset of an Olympic athlete?” February 2014.

Bodybuilding.com. “Four Steps to Reprogram Your Mind”


Related Articles By Cathe:

5 Reasons Most People Don’t Achieve Their Fitness Goals

6 Tips for Setting and Achieving Fitness Goals

How to Stay on Course with Your Fitness Goals When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

It’s a New Year: Is It Time to Reexamine Your Fitness Goals?

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