Mind doesn’t matter when it comes to weight loss

Oct 09, 2022
This CSIRO expert sheds light on new weight loss research. Source: getty

One of the things that make losing weight such a challenge for many of us is that it requires changing our eating and exercise habits. These are habits that have been with us our whole lives.

To start challenging these long-standing behaviours, it’s no surprise that we feel we must be perfectly motivated, focused and positive. The good news, according to new research? We don’t!

New research from the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has found that your mindset when starting a weight loss journey doesn’t define your ability to succeed.

The analysis looked at the responses of nearly 11,000 Australians to a mindset survey done before completing the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet 12-week weight loss program.

It found that being in the right mindset when starting a diet was not in fact the strongest contributor to losing a clinically significant amount of weight.

Rather, engaging with the right digital support tools – think food and exercise tracking, and virtual support groups – had the greatest influence when hitting weight loss goals.

Perhaps the most interesting finding was that those with the lowest levels of motivation before starting the 12-week program not only lost an above-average amount of weight, but they also lost the most weight!

CSIRO Total Wellbeing Dietitian, Pennie McCoy said: “Many people feel they have to be in the ‘right’ headspace to start eating well and exercising more. Waiting for this day to come can really hinder even starting the process.”

“These findings are game-changing as they show that understanding your mindset when you begin is an important factor,” she continued.

Top tips for reaching your weight loss goals

Losing weight requires behaviour change, so set yourself up for success by leaning on tools and support networks, says Pennie:

  • Knowing what it takes to change your eating and exercise habits:
    • Learning the new behaviour.
    • Focusing on setting realistic goals that motivate you in a positive way. For example, setting a target for vegetable intake, steps or a consistent bedtime.
    • Implementing self-monitoring practices. For example, tracking food intake and exercise activity.
    • Scheduling prompts to stimulate the desired behaviour. For example, smartphone reminders to pack your gym bag.
    • Having strategies for relapse prevention (anticipating setbacks, problem-solving, reflecting on what has and hasn’t worked).
  • Access tools: The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet offers a range of self-monitoring and educational tools to develop and keep up motivation levels during your weight loss journey. These include the food, exercise and weight loss tracker as well as its Positive Psychology tools.
  • Draw on social support and environment:
    • Support networks like family, friends or social media networks, are key to keeping us motivated and accountable. Think of trying to get motivated to go for a walk by yourself compared to meeting someone for a walk.
    • Other people can also be a source of education – sharing tips and strategies on how they’ve handled a barrier can help you to find a solution too.
    • The success and commitment we see amongst our CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Facebook group are incredible – they discuss their wins, their losses, and strategies to pick themselves up.


Find out more or complete the Diet Mindset survey by heading to www.totalwellbeingdiet.com.

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