I have been helping clients achieve their goals for over 12 years, and there are very consistent themes between those who succeed and those who don’t. And to pre-frame, it has nothing to do with genetics. It had everything to do with their mindset.

I also want to identify what a successful dieter is. A successful dieter is one who has a nutrition-based goal (say fat loss for example) and achieves that goal healthfully. A successful dieter is able to also sustain the goal long-term.

The Top-4 Habits of Successful Dieters

Here are the top-4 habits of successful dieters—they truly have each of these four mindset habits in common. Let’s dive in.

1. Successful Dieters Take Extreme Ownership

Ownership embodies two key points: WHY and responsibility. All successful dieters identify their WHY and have a clear vision of what it will take to achieve the desired result. Their WHY is rooted in deep emotion and truth, not superficial bullshit.

There is a big difference between:

“I want to get in the best shape of my life to end the health issues in my family lineage and serve as a role model to my kids.”


“I want to look good on my vacation.”

It’s no surprise that first WHY kicks ass, and the second WHY gives up in a week.

With a strong WHY, successful dieters develop resilience and focus. They fucking own it, even when it gets hard and they fall off track. They take so much more responsibility for their slip-ups. Instead of pointing the finger at a social event or their partner's eating habits, they reflect inward and take extreme ownership. They know that the answer to their problems is them. And when they finally admit to themselves that they are the solution, they are empowered to create change. They know they are solely responsible therefore feel empowered to get their shit together.

2. Successful Dieters Set Firm Boundaries

Boundaries are rules that you set to identify ways for others to behave towards you, and also how you respond when someone crosses them. Most people, especially those with poor eating and exercise habits, have the shittiest boundaries or just none at all.

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You may be wondering what boundaries have to do with being a successful dieter? For starters, having boundaries makes staying on track a whole lot easier when you can easily tell Aunt Suzy to shut it when she starts commenting on your food choices on Christmas. Or when your spouse wants to order pizza and instead of caving to their wants, you express what you NEED at the time—pizza not being it, and they respect that.

Having firm boundaries helps others learn how to support you, not derail you. Successful dieters know when to say no, and when to say yes. They don’t overwhelm themselves with what everyone else is doing, and they allow room for their own needs to be met. They can eat out and stay on track, even if everyone else is eating wings and donuts. Other people’s actions do not dictate their own. They also know that sleep, workouts, and meal prepping are priorities, and they make it such. This all stems from setting boundaries.

3. Successful Dieters Think in Abundance

We think about our goal, and what it takes to achieve it can make or break the results we reap. Here are a few examples of how a successful dieter thinks:

Struggling Dieter Self-Talk

dragoscondrea © 123rf.com

Successful Dieter Self-Talk

ariwasabi © 123rf.com

See the difference there? Thinking in abundance allows us to focus on what we HAVE, what we GET to do, and what we have DONE so far. Thinking in scarcity (which is the vast majority of people) leads us to negativity, self-doubt, pity, and a sense of lack. Those with a scarcity mindset find eating healthy and working out to be an inconvenience, and they are easily defeated when they compare themselves to others. They convince themselves that they are “working so hard” when they know deep down they are half-assing it.

A successful dieter doesn’t view exercise and nutrition as a chore but as a privilege. She can go on vacation and be flexible without guilt. Therefore, carbs and a margarita will not ruin her progress. Consequently, she'll jump right back on the plan and continue to move forward with no problem. Abundance always wins, scarcity fails.

4. Successful Dieters Know the Difference Between a Barrier and an Inconvenience

This is where people get tripped up the most. For the folks who struggle with sticking to a plan, more often than not, EVERY inconvenience is turned into a huge ass mountain. Here’s the thing, y’all, life is never going to hand you a platter of perfect circumstances. Shit is going to happen. I have had plenty of clients who work night shift for years on end, literally lived in a hospital with an ill child for months, or broke their leg falling off a horse and STILL saw results. Why? Because they didn’t make excuses. They never gave up.

Then there are some people who stub their toe, and all hell breaks loose. Remember, successful dieters know the difference between when life happens versus an actual crisis. They still get shit done because their goals are a priority, and they have self-awareness of privilege. In the US especially, we are privileged as fuck, and that lack of awareness allows small inconveniences to become large issues in our heads. But if we step back for a minute and actually pay attention, we can catch ourselves and act with more logic and grace. So think about it through the lens of your life. Are you letting inconveniences rule your life and get in the way of your goals?

Examples of Inconveniences That Folks Turn into a Crisis

  • The grocery store is a pain in the ass. (Get grocery delivery. Problem solved. It’s not expensive.)
  • The gym is too far from work or home. (Get some dumbbells or bands and work out at home.)
  • I’m too busy. (You’re probably not. It's likely a scheduling issue.)
  • Healthy food doesn’t taste good. (Yes, it does. Practice. Try new food.)
  • Meal prepping takes too long. (No, it doesn’t. Give yourself enough time to learn how to become efficient at it.)
  • I only have time to get fast food. (That’s cool. Almost all chains have healthier options now.)
  • I’m super stressed and it makes me eat poorly. (No, it doesn’t. You have the power of choice and how you manage stress. Work on boundaries if you are that stressed.)


This is the reality folks. Nine times out of 10 we get in our own way. No one has to have stellar genetics to lose 15 pounds and keep it off. What is required, however, is the correct mindset and belief in yourself.

Alycia Israel is a nationally qualified NPC figure and bikini competitor and raw powerlifter. She has a master’s degree in exercise physiology, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist, and an ISSN-certified sports nutritionist. As the former personal training coordinator at Ohio State University for seven years, she currently owns and operates Alycia's Barbell, an online training and nutrition business that helps clients lose fat for life or jump on the competitive bodybuilding stage. She can be contacted at alyciafit@gmail.com.