Mantra's for weight loss: A dietitian's perspective


PDC Health Hub

Do, without overthinking

Consistency, without over-commitment

Since graduating as a dietitian in 2013 I’ve met countless people looking to lose weight, and countless strategies for doing so. In this time there have been trends that have come and gone; low carb, low fat, various forms of fasting, cleanses, paleo, vegan, carnivore, alkaline diet and much more.  

Now with almost every one of these, there are people that see incredible success: increased energy, lower body fat, sleeping better. However, there are also those who fail to see long-term success – whether that be via minimal change to begin with, or suffering with a lifestyle that’s unsustainable.

The questions that always get asked at this time:

“What’s the difference? Why didn't it work for me?"

I mean it’s the same diet right? With the same goals in mind.

In my anecdotal experience as a weight-loss specialist, the 4 specific elements that make ALL the difference are within the two mantras highlighted above. And successful people are almost always the ones who manage to strike the correct balance of these ideas. I’m going to break down the thought process behind each so that you can understand, and hopefully adopt these as part of your healthy lifestyle habits.


This is an idea that everyone accepts, but often mistake what it really means.  

Weight loss might be the desired outcome, but it should never be the sole measure of success, it is in most cases a highly desirable by-product.

What we really want is improvement. Change. Progress. That is what "Do" represents a commitment to healthier habits rather than focus on the outcomes.

These commitments should be specific and measurable in order to easily gauge progress while managing expectations

Often, this can be done via smaller changes than you would expect. Set reasonable, achievable goals and then build as your lifestyle allows.

What does overthinking look like?

Overthinking is waiting for the perfect conditions to start – “I’ll start on Monday”, “I’ll exercise more when the weather is better”, “I’ll start cooking healthier when I’m less busy”.  

Who said that weight loss needs to involve a perfectly manicured plan? Huge gym workouts, weighing every meal, giving up social events? Not necessary.

We’ve established that we want IMPROVEMENT not perfection.

Heavy planning and researching might seem like ways forward with this, but in my experience they’re often just wasted time. It's far more effective to commit to anything (no matter how big or small) and evaluate after trying.

It might feel like you don’t have the equipment, knowledge or plans necessary. But no matter your situation – just start! Start simple, and keep moving forwards.

And if things don't go your way? Don't overthink it. Accept it, do your best, and brainstorm how you plan to meet your goals more effectively on the next attempt.

Obstacles will always appear in life – this is fine, downgrades are NOT a failure.

  • Too busy to cook a full meal every night? Keep frozen meals handy.  
  • Too sore for the gym? Go for a short walk.
  • Social situations; try naturally healthier options such as breakfast/brunch. Or base catchups around things other than food/alcohol such as going to the beach, bowling or a walk along the river.

Learn from your mistakes, don't shy away from them, and just keep on pushing to be a little bit better each week.


Human trials comparing various diets against each other have regularly demonstrated a stand-out element to successful weight loss: adherence to interventions.

What does this mean? The best diet is the one you can stick to long-term. Can you commit to this for the next 12-24 months? People tend to underestimate the power of consistency, but time and time again it is the difference between success and failure.

20 minutes extra walking per day results in 10 extra hours walking per month, that's 120 extra hours over a year. Swapping a high calorie dessert to low calorie each night could be enough to result in 1kg weight loss per month.  

Small changes may not seem like they'll do a lot, but over a significant period of time they really start to add up to big numbers and big results.

What does over-committing look like?

Over-commitment is the process of pushing yourself to the point that it threatens your long-term goals.

Extreme food restriction is unsustainable and causes "yo-yo" dieting. Exercising to breaking point will leave you sore and sorry for yourself.

Over-committing will negatively impact your quality of life, making you want to give up!

So how do we beat this?

Be aware of how much time and money you can commit. Be conscious of your own motivation level, physical abilities and nutrition knowledge.

The key is to have complete honesty with yourself and make sure that your goals are achievable.

The final message

An imperfect workout routine and diet attempted with consistency and ongoing refinement are much more effective than over-planning the perfect routine or waiting for the "right time" to start eating healthier.

If you're struggling to find goals that balance lifestyle and health, chat with your dietitian and build a plan for the next few months.

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