Nutrition Articles

6 Things Successful Dieters Have in Common

People Who Lose the Weight Have These Core Beliefs

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I'm sure you have heard people say, "Losing weight is easy. Keeping it off is the hard part."
Well, I disagree with this statement. I think losing weight is hard, but keeping it off is even harder!
Permanent weight loss requires a lot of change.  And for most, change is difficult.  You have to change what and how much you eat. You have to change your activity and exercise habits. You might have to change your sleeping habits, daily schedule and shopping habits. That's a lot of change!
However, the most important changes you can make aren't about what you do, but rather how you think.  If you don't change your mindset, there's an awfully good chance you won't change your body—and certainly not for the long term.
People who have reached weight-loss goals and kept off the pounds often experience mindset shifts. They think differently than they did before. Here are some common attitudes and beliefs that show up time and time again when talking with successful "losers."  If you were to interview them, this is what you would hear.
1.   I believe that I can do it. I am responsible for—and in control of—my destiny, and I am fully committed to getting there. I have a clear vision of how I want to live my life: healthy, vibrant, thin and active. I strongly believe in the possibility and the permanence of that vision, and I am confident that I am capable of achieving it. Exercise and eating healthy aren't things I do when it's convenient; they are what I have decided to do no matter what. I recognize my results are dependent on my own actions—not other people's or outside circumstances.
2.   I am proactive rather than reactive. I think in advance about how I will eat and exercise during for upcoming day. If I know I need to go to the gym straight from work, I make sure my gym bag is packed and in my car. When I'm going to have a hectic day at work, I pack a healthy lunch from home. I look at restaurant menus online before getting there so I know the best choices beforehand, and that's what I order. I take time at the beginning of each week to plan my meals, figure out when I can get to the grocery store and schedule my exercise.  And I always have a Plan B so I can stay on track in case something unexpected happens. 
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen founded EllenG Coaching, LLC to help individuals struggling with health issues that can be impacted by positive lifestyle change, such as weight loss, stress management, exercise, and life/work balance. As a certified professional wellness coach and certified personal trainer, Ellen holds a BS and Masters in Physical Education and is certified by ACSM, AFAA, and Wellcoaches Corporation. Visit her at Get her complimentary report, 52 Tips, Tools & Tricks to Permanent Weight Loss Without Going on a Diet, at

Member Comments

  • Wow. What an awful lot of work and focus and determination is required to be a "successful dieter". Articles like this make it seem like it must be like taking on another full-time job in order to be "thin".

    I'm so glad that I didn't read anything like this when I decided to just start eating healthier foods, and learning to cook so that my food is more delicious, and found myself gradually adding in more and more fun activities that are part of living a fun, productive, and healthy life. That approach caused a 90 lb weight loss, that I so far have maintained for over 2 years, but I most definitely was never a "dieter"... and sure didn't work hard enough at it to be considered "successful" by the standards of this article! - 5/23/2016 6:00:56 PM
  • Great article, saving it to refer to when times get tough! Thanks. - 5/12/2016 11:46:23 AM
  • Basically I do like these suggestions. However, I agree that using the word "thin" rather than "healthy" tends to perpetuate a misconception that "thin" is always "good". SparkPeople has made it a point to stress that while the foods we eat are technically our "diet", we should look at what we eat as a long-term plan and not a short-term list of foods that we can't wait to stop eating when we reach a goal weight. - 5/11/2016 7:05:09 PM
  • On point to the max! Thanks for sharing your thoughts so frankly. - 5/11/2016 6:50:42 PM
  • These are all true for me and I'd add a #7: Don't think of this as a diet, I'm eating healthy and exercising because it makes me feel good and is good for me. - 5/8/2016 7:52:08 AM
  • The mind cannot focus on the reverse of a situation while focusing on the situation! - 4/1/2016 10:56:52 PM
  • I don't really like the tone of this article. Point #1 uses the word "thin" when describing the adjectives that the person should strive for. Being thin is not my goal and there are people that share my goal of wanting to get healthy without becoming thin. This assumption and use of the word "thin" is inflammatory and some would say it borders on body shaming, as if you are not ok or doing well with your goals if you aren't thin. - 2/26/2016 4:40:55 PM
  • I love points 1 and 2. I have posted them on my refrigerator to read before I open that door. - 1/14/2016 8:27:23 AM
  • I thought the article informative except for one surprising flaw that I thought a person who helps people lose weight would know better than to use. The wording in the article SHOULD say "normal weight" or "healthy weight" not "thin". Focusing on a normal weight is what SP is trying to help us who are trying to lose the weight do. To focus on the word "thin " and USE the word "thin" throughout the article is what the WORLD does .I thought the whole point of reading articles is to inspire us to focus on achieving a "healthy weight". - 12/28/2015 9:13:16 AM
  • CATHY2147
    I plan to re-read your article often and share with others when appropriate. If someone tells me he or she wants to begin a healthy eating plan, I would like to mention that he or she might find this information helpful. This is very well-written and concise. Thank you! - 7/26/2015 1:38:25 PM
  • I too enjoyed and learned from this article. Clearly its message is timeless...the mental part of healthier living is no joke. For me, I need to work on being proactive...while I may log and track everything, having a plan prior to eating is honestly a missing piece in my healthy living puzzle. Just need to keep it simple, the old baby steps plan a meal, log it, eat it. From there I can build to looking a day ahead, and then build to thinking about a week at time. Oh my...this could be a game changer for me! WaHoO, and thank you! - 7/25/2015 8:39:55 AM
  • “Exercise and eating healthy aren't things I do when it's convenient; they are what I have decided to do no matter what.”

    Great! - 7/24/2015 2:43:55 PM
  • MARSHA1107
    I realy want to lose weight and I think I found the right place to do it
    - 7/24/2015 2:21:42 PM
  • Thank you. I always have said fake it till you make it but I have never applied that to weight loss. You have given me a new perspective.
    - 7/24/2015 1:19:45 PM
  • All I will Say is WOW and Thank you!!

    - 7/24/2015 11:46:17 AM

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