After all my big talk about the most effective weight loss strategies, I’m going to completely pull a 180 and change gears.

While I believe the most effective strategies are important, I believe it’s equally important to keep a long-range focus. It’s easy to get caught up in the trap of trying to drop as much weight as possible in as short amount of time as possible. There’s nothing wrong with this, in theory, but let’s not forget that it does no good to lose a bunch of weight only to gain it all back.

It's human nature to get stuck in short term thinking.

"What's the fastest way to get results?"

"I didn't lose any weight this week, I need to change something."

And believe me, marketers are MORE than willing to capitalize on this instinct. When a single aspect shows promise in clinical studies, we tend to isolate it and market it as the next big thing. It happened with low carb diets, it happened with the acai berry, and who knows what the next thing on the horizon will be.

The truth is that excess fat is a chronic issue. We know this. I’ve heard countless people declare that they didn’t put it on overnight, and they won’t take it off that way, either. Let’s remember the iceberg example earlier in this text. It does no good to chip away at the “tip of the iceberg” because the remainder of the iceberg will continually float to the surface. The root … the foundation is way too strong. So what represents the root, or foundation, in fitness … and how can we strengthen it? The answer is habits and mindset. If we can change our mindset, the way we think about food, health, and exercise, we can create habits that will last a lifetime and overcome almost any obstacle. Don’t believe me? How about an example? You probably went to work today, right? In fact, millions of people go to work every day, no matter what. Rain doesn’t stop them. Hectic home life doesn’t stop them. In some cases, being sick doesn’t even stop them. Now, I understand that this isn’t always the case, but for the most part, most people don’t let very many things get in the way of going to work every single day. And here’s the kicker: a great many of these people HATE going to work.

But if they don’t go, they’ll be fired and won’t be able to pay their bills.

Well, that is a compelling reason, but then again so is whatever reason you have for losing weight, right? Confidence, lower risk of chronic diseases … should I go on?

Yeah, well exercise isn’t as high a priority as going to work. Going to work is just the way we do things in our society.

A-HA! There we have the mindset that that creates the habit. How many fit people feel almost the exact same way about exercise and eating clean? Adopt this mindset. If you think like a healthy person, you’ll behave like a healthy person. Then you’ll eventually become a healthy person.

Concentrating on mindset can lead to magical results. The problem is it takes a while to develop the proper mindset. We develop it one day at a time, by eating healthy meal after healthy meal, and by doing workout after workout. We develop it by overcoming obstacles that stand in our way. We develop it by defending our choices to our friends and family when they question what we’re doing. We develop it by looking up new exercises on the Internet. In short we develop it through ten thousand little details. These details lead to the mindset, which reinforce the very habits that created it. Kind of blows your mind to think about it, right? It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, but you have to start somewhere. You have to start with one meal – one workout – one day. In the words of Horace Mann, “Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.” Well, no disrespect to Mr. Mann, but anything can be broken, including habits (hopefully only the bad ones!), but the stronger their foundation, the more effort it will take to break.

We constantly try to shortcut this step in our society, valuing methods over mindset.

It’s like putting paint on a dirty car – it doesn’t work. If you want proof of this, just take a look around at all the people who’ve tried numerous times to lose weight, only to end up worse than when they started.