Shift Your Thinking

Open your mind to change, learning, and growth—it can pay off beautifully in your live-healthy efforts.
Published September 22, 2017

You've probably heard a lot about how your mindset affects your actions—and that certain mindsets can block your way to weight loss. All-or-nothing thinking, where you have to be perfect All. The. Time.—or you're a failure, is a common one. So is overgeneralizing: You gained a pound at your weigh-in and that means you'll never lose weight

Mindset can also work in your favor, if you have what Carol Dweck, PhD, a psychology professor at Stanford University calls a growth mindset. Dweck, who's researched achievement and success, says that with a growth mindset, you're open to change and challenges—two things many of us might feel we're _not_ always so open to. (On the other hand, you joined Weight Watchers—so you've already showed you're willing and able to tackle both!) Its opposite, a fixed mindset, holds that things are the way they are; you can't really change your habits and beliefs. And losing weight can seem impossible, especially over the long term.

Depending on the situation, we can have either a growth or fixed mindset. A baseball player might gladly take up the challenge of improving his batting average (growth mindset), but balk at painting a landscape because he's never done it, thinks he has no talent, doesn't know where to begin, you name it (fixed mindset). You might love exploring a new hiking trail, but hesitate to try new foods. The self-assessment in your Weekly can help you pinpoint your mindset in different scenarios.

Here's how some plan-related situations can play out with a fixed mindset:

Challenges: Before you decided to join Weight Watchers, you might have said, “I’m not sure I can do this again. It’s going to be too hard.”

Setbacks: A month or two in, you gain a pound two weeks in a row. You might think, “I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this. It’s so hard. I don’t think I can keep going.”

Criticism: You react to someone's opinion of your choices: “My husband is right, I shouldn’t be eating that cookie even if I have the SmartPoints®. It’s all my fault if I don’t lose weight this week.”

With a growth mindset, each of these situations provides a chance to learn and grow—NOT to dial back or give up:

Challenges are answered with effort and determination. A misstep simply means you regroup and move on.

Setbacks don't discourage; they teach, through self-reflection and analyzing what went wrong before trying again. 

Criticism or stigma reflect someone else’s point of view; they don't define or stop you.

When it comes to weight loss, it pays to have a growth mindset—and the good news is, you can choose to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset. Dr. Dweck's research with schoolchildren shows how doing so can make a huge difference in your life.

When you face a challenge, setback, or criticism, take a moment to listen to your inner voice: Are you reacting with a growth or a fixed mindset? To make the switch, reality check a fixed-mindset thought—see "Shift to a Growth Mindset" in your Weekly —to move to a more powerful, productive growth mindset. Looking at the world with a fixed mindset dulls your sense of control and mastery; it can leave you passive. But a growth mindset helps you feel more in control of your choices, your journey, and your success!