Losing weight will not fix all your problems.

Losing body fat ought to be simple math: eating the right foods and exercising consistently will just about always will result in weight loss. Why, then, are so many of us stuck in bodies we’re unhappy with? What stops us from taking the actions necessary for us to live healthier, happier lives? The answer is simple: losing weight is not all we’re after.

For years, the weight loss industry has almost entirely focused on this equation—nutrition + exercise = weight loss—but it has largely been unsuccessful because the problem with the old school approach is that losing weight is not, on it’s own, the answer to all your problems. When you express a desire to lose weight, you’re expressing other, deeper desires. For most of us, those desires take the form of “I’d like to be confident in my body,” or “I’d like others to find me attractive,” or “I’d like to have a better opinion of myself.” Often, when people don’t understand their fundamental needs, they miss out on fulfilling those needs and their dedication and passion for the hard work of weight loss falters.

The missing ingredient to many weight loss plans isn’t nutrition or exercise, but cultivating a helpful mindset to keep you focused and motivated. We advocate a positive, assertive approach to discovering what truly motivates our clients to lose weight. We believe that understanding is as important exercising and eating right. Weight loss will be hard work, and there are myriad obstacles that stand in our way, some obvious, others hidden. The process requires us to break and rework our habits, addressing difficult truths about our minds and bodies, and persevere through disappointment and failure—all of which, it goes without saying, are very difficult things to do. Even just the idea of losing weight can seem daunting.

We emphasize a fluid and curious mindset, one that encourages us to forge ahead and grow in spite of any setbacks we may encounter. A specific and holistic end goal—”I want to be happy with myself,” instead of, “I want to lose weight”—allows us to really appreciate the importance of our task as well as helps us to keep our eyes on the prize. The more important your end goal is to you, the more resilient you will be to the barriers and struggles that will rear their heads.

Being happy with your body is the most important thing, but this desire for contentment does not begin and end with exercise. It impacts all aspects of your life. If you’re stressed with your job or unhappy in a relationship, it will affect your ability to commit and focus on the task at hand. An assertive, responsible mindset will help to keep those stresses in check by reminding you that what you’re striving for is worth it and that you are the only one who has the power to achieve it. Obviously, just being positive without any personal accountability will not help, and, if you’re having trouble holding yourself accountable, it’s important to find out what’s holding you back.