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Is fear of failure stopping you losing weight?

Let’s talk mindset. Mindset is not willpower. I know we think it is, but it’s not. When people hear the word mindset, they think, Oh, yeah, willpower and discipline. It's all of those things that I just don't have at the moment, or I just wish I had more”, or It's run out," or "I wish I could find it again. 


What is mindset?

What is the definition of mindset?

The established set of attitudes held by someone.

“A person's way of thinking and their opinions.

Mindset is defined by your set of thoughts and beliefs, so your thoughts and beliefs about something. It can be anything. Let’s start with this example. 

For a lot of people, it can be things like how they view difficult situations. 

Some people view difficult situations as a challenge, and they're going to do their best no matter what. Other people view difficult situations as something that they are unlikely to go well in. And so therefore, they view it as something that's going to be too hard, they will likely fail, and so then they feel they better not try else they fail.


Here’s another example. So as you all know, I have two lovely darlings, and they are 20 and 17. Now, one of my darlings is extremely high-achieving. She tries really hard at everything she does. She is a hard worker, she's dedicated, and she believes she will do well, and so she usually does. People think, Oh, she's lucky. She’s not lucky - she works really, really hard.

My other darling, perhaps being in the shadow of the high-achieving sister, often thinks she's not going to do well. And here is a beautiful example of mindset. The other day, she had the cross country race at school, and she's good at cross country. She doesn't do any training. If she actually did a bit of training, she'd be really good, but that's not her jam, so that's fine. 

My husband says to her, Cross country, what's your goal? Where do you want to come? 

She goes, Oh, I'll just sort of aim for the top 30. 

And he goes, Cool. How'd you go last year? 

She says, Oh, I came in fifth. So he responds, Oh! You don't want to aim for the top 10? 

She replies, Nah, I'll be disappointed if I don't get there, so I'll just go top 30. And she came 15th or something.

But you can see the difference. The other kid would have gone, Right. I'm going to do a bit of training, and I'm going to get top 10, and I'll probably get top five, and that'll be good. So their mindset's completely different. One knows she's going to achieve and puts in the effort to make it happen. The other one's not sure she'll achieve, so she doesn't want to try too hard in case she doesn't. 

That's all just mindset. Again, it was about the thoughts and her beliefs around the situation, in this case, the race.


I guess the issue is with my two girls that the younger one has fear of failure and the older one doesn't. And consequently, the older child rarely fails because she tries so hard. Instead, she focuses on the trying bit and knows the result will come. 

The other one goes, Oh, maybe I don't want to try too hard in case I don't get the result I want.

We can have the same mindset issues with food, weight loss and following an eating plan. 

We don't want to go all-in, just in case it doesn't work. So we don't tell anyone. We kind of give it a half go because we think it's not going to work anyway. And so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just like my darling and her cross country race. 

It’s the fear of it not working that stops us. 

So the thing here is that what we're doing is we're focusing on the result and not the process. If you focus on the process, the process is that you want to eat better. Not perfect, just better. Better food, low carb real food, and if you keep that focus, then how can you fail? 

So you might be thinking, because I can’t do that, I keep eating junk. The clue here is to examine your thoughts. 

What stories is your brain giving you? A common story is, I’ll start tomorrow, or I’ll start on Monday. The result is that we eat everything in sight because we’re starting tomorrow. 

But if we focus on the process of eating well, why wait until tomorrow. Just start now. 

But usually when we say to ourselves, I'm going to eat better, the actual story in our brain is, I’m going to eat better, so I will lose weight. And then we focus on the, ”So I will lose weight. That’s when the brain says, Really, you’ve failed so many times before - don't bother. What will time be different this time? It’s not going to work. You won’t lose any weight.

If we actually just focus on the, I'm going to eat well and I'm going to focus on this aspect," then the weight loss will take care of itself.

Try these thoughts and see how you feel: 

I’m going to eat good food so I can take care of my body.

I’m going to eat low carb real food because it makes me feel amazing.

I’m going to eat real food because my body deserves good nutrition.

I’m going eat well because I’m worth it.

Or this simple one that is my mantra:

“I eat low carb real food. That is it!


With love and good health,

Lucy and Mary xx


Dr Lucy Burns and Dr Mary Barson. 


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