Psychology of Weight Loss

My experiment with the Slow Carb Diet recently reminded me how much of weight loss is Mental.

I was opposed to the diet for a lot of reasons, the big one being that it said no fruit. I went into the diet expecting to fail, expecting to crave fruit, expecting to be miserable. Because I set myself up for that negativity, I did feel that way the first day. I was resentful of the diet. I craved strawberries and blueberries. All I wanted was to eat a bunch of sugar and REBEL. After the first day I realized I needed to change my attitude and give it a fair try. I was much happier, and felt much more satisfied as a result of that mental shift.

When Michael and I went out to dinner during the Four Hour Body Diet to Stanford’s we ordered the perfect dinner on the Diet. We were both satisfied, happy with what we ate, and were able to indulge in a little red wine (allowed on the diet). But on the drive home, Michael admitted that he wanted a nice piece of chocolate dessert afterward. I was SHOCKED. Michael NEVER craves dessert. He said, “It was the perfect meal: nice steak, red wine, it needed chocolate cake at the end of the meal.” And I felt the same way! We both wished we could have had some chocolate. Funny how your cravings change when you are denying yourself food.

If no one sees you eat it, the calories don’t count! FALSE!

As soon as you realize you are on a “DIET,” the natural thing to do is want to rebel, to cheat, to splurge. The Four Hour Body Diet reiterated what I already knew: The way I lost weight WORKED.

Before -- 250 pounds
After -- 143 Pounds

This is not to say that my way is the only way, or that my way is superior. However, I didn’t deny myself any food on my “diet.” If I craved sugar, I ate it. I found lower calorie options that I could indulge in, and still stay within my calorie range for the day. I never felt unsatisfied or denied when I was trying to lose my 100 pounds.


I’d crave cheesecake but instead of going 500+ calories over my daily allotment, I’d have a lower calorie dessert (like a Smart Ones frozen dessert) for 150 calories. Was it the same as a decadent cheesecake? No. Did it satisfy my sugar craving? Yes. With my calorie counting I was able to enjoy food without sabotaging every effort I had.

How many of you readers have started a diet and felt confident for the first week, then slowly lost your excitement for it? And eventually you gave up? It’s common. The way I stayed committed to my goal of losing 100 pounds was the fact that I had health concerns that were pretty serious. That was enough of a motivation for me to stay committed.

Instead of dieting, it must be a lifestyle change. My old lifestyle was very sedentary: I spent weekends watching movies and TVs on the couch binge eating. I ate a lot of fast food, I didn’t cook, I didn’t exercise, I didn’t eat proper portions.

My lifestyle now is completely different. I am too busy to be sedentary. Fitness is a huge part of my life. I grew to love biking, hiking, running. Swimming is something I will never give up. I watch my portions. I learned how to cook. I limit fast food to just a few times a year.

Weight loss is probably 25% physical, 25% diet and 50% mental. The mental aspect of it is where you will find your FAILURE or your SUCCESS. If you want it bad enough, nothing will stop you.

QUESTION: What mental aspect is holding you back? How can you change that?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

23 thoughts on “Psychology of Weight Loss”

  1. I can definetly relate to this! I started trying to lose weight about 6 months before I actually started losing. I would do well for a few days, and then cheat a little but tell myself it was ok. And then get mad when I wouldn’t lose anything that week!

    It was after I saw pictures of myself on vacation with some friends that I realized I was a lot bigger than I was giving myself credit for, and I needed to get serious about this. Once I became honest with myself, and started to slowly make changes instead of depriving myself and then caving 2 days later, I started to see results.

    It’s crazy how mental it is!

    1. That’s funny you say that Marie, I had the same experience. I told myself I “Wasn’t that big” and then I saw photos of myself in Chicago on vacation. Quite eye opening!

  2. I totally agree about how denying yourself certain foods makes you crave them even more. I, too, lost 100+ pounds from counting calories–and I ate dessert EVERY DAY because I couldn’t live without it! πŸ˜‰ I like calorie counting because you can literally fit ANYTHING into your diet.

    1. Exactly! That’s why I wanted Michael to do the calorie counting instead of the Four Hour Body. That way he could eat all the things he wants, just in smaller doses.

  3. Lisa, you must have been reading my mind. I was just writing a post about fighting the mental parts of losing weight. I think it it more 20% diet 5% exersice and 75% mental.

    1. For some people it probably is 75% mental! Some people don’t have to worry about that part of it, it comes naturally. Everyone’s struggle is going to be different. For me the struggle was food, not exercise.

  4. This is actually EXACTLY where I’m at right now. I was so gung ho for the first six months, and now for the past three it’s slacked off.

    I just wrote a blog about how I’m needing to reboot. Refind my commitment. Because I don’t want to stop, because I’m far from where I need to be. It just reiterates the fact to me that I haven’t changed my life as much as I thought I had. It hasn’t become habit yet…

    But it will! It has to!

      1. Having a specific date has helped sometimes, but then it also can be bad if I don’t make a deadline… If I don’t miss it by much, then I’m okay and don’t beat myself up too much. But if I miss it by a lot, that’s when things get ugly.


        1. Yes, the date has to be realistic. It can’t be “lose 50 pounds in 30 days” or something. When I wanted to start losing weight I used my brother’s upcoming wedding date as a goal. I wanted to lose 50 pounds before then and I had 10 months to do it in. I weighed in 50 pounds lighter the day before the wedding.

          1. Oh yeah… I’ve definitely always made sure to try and set what I think are realistic goals. I know that if I set that bar to an impossible level, it would just wreak havoc!!

            I did realize that part of the problem was that I was so used to how easy it was to lose weight in the beginning in comparison to now. I was setting goals slightly too high because I was used to losing 2-3 pounds a week at the very least. I’m at the point now where I need to get used to only seeing the scale move a pound or two… Definitely a mind switch.

          2. I can relate to that. When I lost 100 pounds most of it came off easily. I was losing 1-4 pounds a week. Now that I have just a few “vanity pounds” to lose I am lucky if I lose 1 pound a month!!

  5. What is the name of the mental “thing” where you don’t feel you’re as big as you are? I just got back from vacation in Seattle, saw one of the (two) pics I took while I was there, and I’m mortified. My outer image totally doesn’t marry my inner self-image.

    Maybe I’ll post it up on a wall in my house to remind me why I need to seriously lose some pounds.

    1. I DEFINITELY had that!!! I was over 250 pounds and told myself “I’m not that big”…um…what??

      I think it’s like the opposite of the “body dysmorphic” disorder where you think you are bigger than you really are (what anorexics and bulimics suffer from) but in the reverse….?

      1. YES! This is how I feel! I feel so much smaller than I am, and I think I act like that. I’ve done it all my life. I think I can just do what everyone else can, and well you know what I can’t I cant hike a mountain, when I’ve never exercised before. I see a cute top and buy it and it fits, but I look horrific and it just doesn’t match up in my brain – my outside and my inside. And before I moved to Scotland I looked good for me, and never realized how much damage I had done to myself as the weight piled back on…..and here I am trying to get back where I was so I can match my outer self with my inner.

  6. If I could figure out the mental aspect I would lose the weight and be done. But I can’t figure it out and I get started then life happens and throws me back to near square one. I’ve spent the past 6 months trying to focus on myself and get healthier. Since my kids were on spring break my schedule has gotten off track and I can’t seem to get back into a routine of going to the gym. So now it’s 2 months of not regularly getting to the gym and 3 weeks of not going to the gym at all. But next week is a new week, the schedule changes again and I’m seeing an opportunity to get back to some routine. Today I put on some pants that I bought last summer that wouldn’t even come close to buttoning, so I know the exercise has made some big changes.

    I also suffer from the body image thing. I don’t think I’m that big until I see pictures or am unable to do something because of my size (squeezing through tight spaces is one of those things). Why do I assume I am “way smaller” than some other heavy person when the truth is we are probably close to the same size??

  7. Kudos to you!!!

    For me it’s probably 90% mental, and I’m pretty sure I have some kind of weight loss ADD. Whenever I start a new diet, I’m on a perfect behavior for a few days, then after a week or so, I tell myself that I deserve a little break and it goes downhill from there: 1 indulgence turns into two, then three, and next thing you know I have to start a new diet.

    It’s exhausting and nerve-wracking to have to think (or try not to think) about food all day. Plus, I sometimes feel that I’m doing myself some harm somehow by resisting to my cravings (why yes, I have a twisted mind, thank you for asking :p)

    Anyhow, it’s the mountain we all have to conquer I guess!

      1. I did do that for a while, but I wanted to try other alternatives to see if they’d work out better .
        I’m considering going back to it though, as I think it might be the best method on the long run πŸ˜€

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