01/29/2013 02:53 pm ET Updated Mar 31, 2013

It's All in Your Head!

Quick -- think about how to lose weight!

What's the first thing that came to mind? I'll bet it was going on a diet. And the second thing? Probably exercise. You wouldn't be wrong; diet and exercise are important aspects of weight loss, no question.

But if that's all you thought of, you're missing a very important part. In fact, you could almost argue it's the most important part, because without it you'll never succeed long term even if you do lose weight.

And that is the mind.

I think of successful weight loss as being like a three-legged stool. One leg is a healthy diet, one leg is consistent exercise, and one leg is the correct mindset. Without it, the stool comes crashing down.

If you were to follow a healthy diet word for word and exercise regularly, you would lose weight -- no question. But without changing the way you look at food, exercise and your lifestyle choices, you will never keep the weight off. Before long you'll be back to the same eating and exercise habits that got you to the place you worked so hard to get away from. In no time you'll find yourself weighing at least as much as you weighed before you started.

And that's if you actually do follow your diet and exercise program. If your mindset is not right, then chances are you won't follow that program for too long. We've all been there. You decide you're going to start a diet on Monday. So for the weekend before, you eat all the things you're not going to be allowed to eat on the diet. By Monday you've gained another couple of pounds, but those pounds don't matter, because before long this new program is going to magically take that weight off.

Sure you start the diet and join a gym on Monday, but by Wednesday you're cheating a little and by Friday you've given up after a binge the night before. Your magical program lasted less than a week. But even if you manage to stay on your program for a couple of weeks or longer, sooner or that type of scenario is bound to occur, unless you change the way you think.

When you are convinced that you will succeed, when you believe that you are a thin person who just happens to carry around some extra stored energy, when you are certain that you were meant to be healthy, lean and active, and therefore make your daily choices as if you already are, then you will be. There's no failure where only success is allowed.

Here are some common ways of thinking that will prevent you from succeeding long term.

1. You feel you don't deserve to succeed. Many people who are overweight suffer from a lack of self-confidence. The lack of self-confidence could have brought about your weight problem or you could feel bad about yourself because you're overweight, but either way, it's preventing you from achieving the goal of being fit and healthy. Why do you think you don't deserve a healthy, fit body? Of course you do! God did not create you to be less than you can be. Start treating yourself as someone you care about.

2. You think of "going on" a diet and exercise plan, which implies that someday you'll "go off" it. If you do something temporarily, you'll get only temporary results. If you want to work hard to lose weight that's just going to come right back, then this is the way to think. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to understand that every morsel you put in your mouth and every step you take, or don't take, every day -- not just while "on" some program -- determine what your weight will be, what you look like, what you feel like, and most important, how healthy you are. People who are lean and healthy are that way because they keep a healthy lifestyle, not because they occasionally diet themselves down.

3. You allow yourself to make excuses. You were going to go for a walk, but then it got so cold, you decided not to. You're too intimidated to go to the gym. You're too busy to prepare your food this week. Things are really hard at work right now. Things are really hard at home right now. It's the holidays. It's a vacation. Believe me, I've heard every excuse in the book. But you know where excuses bring you? They bring you the exact opposite direction of success.

When I weighed 360 pounds, I could easily have used excuses to stay exactly where I was. If what you really want is to stay the way you are, then you don't need any excuses. Just be happy where you are! But I wasn't happy where I was. I decided I would do whatever it took to reach my goal, and I knew that success doesn't allow for excuses. My friend gave me this saying, which I love: "If you really want something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse." So the question is, do you really want to succeed at losing weight and keeping it off? If you do, you'll find a way. If you don't? Well, you know how that will go!

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