Nutrition Articles

6 Things Successful Dieters Have in Common

People Who Lose the Weight Have These Core Beliefs

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3.   I am disciplined. Despite not always wanting to do what needs to be done, I do it anyway.  There are plenty of times I don't feel like working out, or taking the time to prepare my meals.  Whether it's exercise, skipping dessert, or cooking a healthy dinner rather than calling in for take-out, I do it.  My mind is always focused on my vision. It's not about how I feel right now. It's about what I want for my future self.
4.   I share my goals and plans.  My friends and family are aware that taking good care of myself and keeping the weight off is a core value of mine. I stand up for myself without apology.  Sometimes I'll miss happy hour with the gang to go to the gym, or request that we change the restaurant choice because I won't go to a buffet—I am not embarrassed or sorry for speaking up. I also know I don't need to go it alone.  When I am feeling vulnerable, I ask for help
5.   I am resilient. When I stumble or fall down, I pick myself up and creatively figure out how to move on. Life throws curveballs all the time, but they aren't reasons to throw my healthy habits away.  I know that soothing myself with food or TV won't solve my problems.  I deal with the reality of the situation and creatively work toward overcoming adversity.
6.   I have self-compassion.  I'm only human and there are times when things don't go as well as I'd like.  I just do the best I can. When I slip up, I look at it as one individual episode, not a pattern that will lead to disaster. A "lapse" does not mean collapse. I just get right back on track. I do not beat myself up if a few pounds creep back on.  The scale does not define who I am. It doesn't make me good or bad.  It only tells me whether or not I am on track to reach my goals.  If I am not, I recalculate.    
Sustained weight loss requires a new mindset.  In order to be successful, you must resist looking in the mirror and still seeing the old you.  Permanent success requires you to think and act like a thin person even before you reach your goal. If it initially feels awkward, remember the old adage, "Fake it 'til you make it." The more you behave and think like a successful dieter, the sooner you will be one. Being healthy and thin will become part of your identity.  It's time to leave the old one behind.
Dieci, Edward. 1995. Why We Do What We Do. London: Penguin Books.
Fletcher, Anne. 2003. Thin For Life. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 
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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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