The Mayo Clinic Diet blog

Positive attitude key in tackling weight loss

By Donald Hensrud, M.D. January 13, 2010

The reason some people aren't as successful at managing their weight as they would like to be can be traced to how they begin their efforts. You need to set yourself up to succeed.

What do I mean by that? In an area that's challenging and has many barriers and bumps in the road, you want to give yourself the best chance possible. This means preparing yourself initially as well as you can.

Attitude is extremely important, but often not appreciated. The common attitude associated with initiating weight loss is "Oohh, I've got to go on a DIET," often said with a forlorn tone that implies the joy has gone out of life.

This negative, restrictive attitude seems to anticipate the drudgery that is sure to follow. Sound familiar? This approach is destined to fail sooner or later because it isn't sustainable. It's like you're constantly trudging uphill toward an elusive goal.

A better approach is to focus on the positive aspects of undertaking lifestyle changes that can lead to better weight management. Yes, positive. For example, many people find that when they were more physically active, they felt better. Listen to this. Use this as motivation to continue to be active.

Does it take some effort to move regularly, especially when just starting? Sure. Will it take more time? Absolutely. But it's well worth it — for your weight, your health, and how you feel. And if you start out with the right attitude, along with a solid program, you can succeed.

In terms of changing the way you eat (it's much more than a "diet"), focus on the opportunities and what you can eat as opposed to what foods you're trying to cut down on. There are many wonderful foods and recipes to explore, and believe it or not we can learn to like new foods.

Think of something you didn't like when you were younger and now enjoy (for me it's cantaloupe and tomatoes, especially fresh garden varieties). There are so many traditional, healthy, ethnic foods to explore — Mediterranean (e.g., Greek salad, tabouli, pasta primavera and many others), Asian (stir fried vegetables, sushi — OK, we'll wait for a while on the sushi for some of you), and others. It can be a veritable gastronomic journey around the world instead of a restrictive "diet".

There are many other issues to consider before undertaking lifestyle changes to promote weight loss, many of which are discussed in The Mayo Clinic Diet (it's more than a "diet" also). Be sure you're ready and can give it your best effort. Starting out with the right attitude and feeling like you're on an enjoyable and sustainable journey will get you well on your way. Happy travels.

Jan. 13, 2010