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Are your Beliefs around Weight Loss Holding you Back?

Dec 07, 2021

By: Tedi Nikova MPH, RD

A common barrier to weight loss we see our clients face has nothing to do with food, or their medical conditions.. it has everything to do with our clients beliefs around weight loss! Have you ever thought this before?

“I can’t lose weight”

“If I lose weight, I won’t be able to keep it off!”

“Healthy eating means that I will never get to eat the foods I love again!!”

If so, you may be holding onto belief systems that are pulling you away from the actions you need to take to reach your health goals!

What are beliefs?

A belief is a thought you have thought enough times that you believe it to be true. Beliefs are basically thoughts that your brain will default to. Your brain will keep gaining evidence to prove that these beliefs are true, this is called confirmation bias. Beliefs feel like facts, however, they are just thoughts, and are optional. You ALWAYS have a choice to choose your beliefs.

Are you holding onto limiting beliefs around weight loss?

You may be holding onto beliefs about our ability to lose weight, that make you feel out of control, or hopeless. These are limiting beliefs because they hold you back from losing weight or living the life we desire. Some common limiting beliefs we hear daily from our clients that hold them back include:

“I can’t lose weight”

“This is too hard”

“Weight loss means I have to deprive myself”

”I can’t stop eating… (fill in the blank)”

“I wont be able to keep it off”

"This is not happening fast enough”

Why are limiting beliefs holding us back from losing weight?

The belief itself does not hold any power, however your belief will lead to disempowering thought patterns such as “what is the point of this”, “healthy eating is not working”, these thought patterns lead to feelings of distress and hopelessness. It will then be very hard to do the actions required for a successful weight loss when you are feeling disempowered by your thoughts. We called this, getting hooked by your thoughts.

For example, the belief of, “I won’t keep they weight off", may seem very harmless, and you may have gathered evidence from the past that weight loss has led to weight re-gain. However, holding onto this belief is very disempowering. Think about it.. with any challenge or setback, are you likely to feel resilient and continue on with your healthier behaviour, or are you likely to just think, “what is the point of this, since I am going to gain the weight back any way, I might as well eat less healthy”. Your brain will interpret any setback as evidence that the belief pattern is true! 

How do I ditch my limiting beliefs?

The goal is not to ditch these limiting beliefs, these limiting beliefs are likely very strong, and will still be there. The goal is to notice these belief systems, and the stories your brain is telling you, and to begin to create distance between these beliefs. It is not about gaining evidence if the belief is true, or untrue, but simply asking yourself:

“Does this belief move me towards the actions I need to take on a daily basis to reach my health goals?”

I know what you are thinking.. is my brain broken? Why can't I just ditch these beliefs?! No... your brain is not broken, these belief systems is your brains attempt to keep you safe. Lets' go back in time by 30,000 years when we were caveman, when a task required the use of many resources, or had a chance of death, we would have avoided this task altogether. The evaluation has translated into modern society into fear of failure, therefore when a weight loss journey is faced with obstacles, your brain turns to your limiting beliefs as an attempt to keep you safe, it is like an overprotective friend. However, in a weight loss journey setbacks are just part of the process, and failures are inevitable, therefore these limiting beliefs can pull you away from the exact actions you need to take when the journey gets difficult!

Choosing new beliefs

The good news is you have complete control of your beliefs, this is your power!  You can re-wire your brain, you can choose to accept your new beliefs, and ditch the old ones! This will take time to re-wire; however, YOU CAN create new pathways and networks to beliefs that serve you better.

When choosing your new beliefs that will serve you in your health journey, it is about choose beliefs that your brain can process as true. I have offered some alternative thought patterns to some of the most common limiting beliefs I hear on a daily basis.

Limiting Belief:

“I can’t lose weight”

 Re-framing belief

“I have never tried a comprehensive science-based protocol to manage my mindset around overeating and to find a sustainable lifestyle plan that is maintainable for the rest of my life.

Limiting Belief:

“This is too hard”

Re-framing belief

“Ya… but I can do hard things”

Limiting Belief:

“I don’t want to feel deprived”

 Re-framing belief

“It is perfectly acceptable to tolerate some short term discomfort, for long term gain"


Remember, It is not about waiting to gain evidence that your new belief is true! Are you victim to the following statement, "I will believe this when.. I lose 5 pounds". It is actually the opposite. the belief needs to come first to guide our actions, rather than waiting for external factors to determine your belief system!

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