Since 68% of Americans are considered either overweight or obese, a rate that continues to grow, and $35 billion is spent annually on weight loss products and services alone, there seems to be a disconnect between the hard work that people put into losing weight and the results that they achieve. Many people underestimate how important a healthy mind set can be in the success their weight loss program and find that no matter how hard they work, they can't seem to reach their goals.If you feel that this might be you, it is time to give your mind set a makeover. Instead of looking in the mirror each morning, disgusted at your reflection, it is time to revamp the way that you think about yourself. You have one body, and instead of trying to whip it into submission, start considering it as a gift and start taking care of it. Instead of focusing on your appearance, start focusing on your health, your well-being, your energy levels, mental and intellectual stimulation, your relationships, and your spirituality. Treat your body for what it truly is- an amazing creation. You may think this is easier said than done, so here are a few pointers to get you started.
Write down the reasons for why you are undertaking this weight loss program, but do not include any reasons that have to do with your appearance. For instance, maybe you want to have more energy to play with your kids after work. Maybe you want to improve your cholesterol levels or blood pressure. Maybe you want to avoid the cancer that runs in your family. Maybe you want to live long enough to see your daughter get married or your grandchildren grow up. There is much more to life than looks alone- if you think hard enough, you will come up with a long list of reasons why you need to be healthier. Tape these up where you can see them every day.If you have psychological barriers to losing weight, get some help. Sexual abuse or verbal abuse can have very profound, and often unrecognized, consequences on your self-esteem and your ability to lose weight successfully. Eating disorders and emotional eating can also keep you far from victory. Seek professional counsel if you feel that you fit into this category.
Replace negative self-talk with positive thoughts. You have heard this before- you are your own worst critic. It is true. Imagine if you could record all of your thoughts for one day. How many of those thoughts would be considered direct insults? Here is an exercise you can try- slip a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative, like "I'm so fat," or "I'm worthless," snap the rubber band hard! Immediately replace that thought with something more positive, like, "I work hard to provide for my family," or "My kids love me."
Discouragement hits the best of us in any task that takes time, effort and focus. Therefore, use some back up tools to rebuild your confidence when you are feeling disheartened in your weight loss program:
1. Keep a journal of "highs" each day. In this journal, write the things that you are thankful for. Write the things that happen to you that make you laugh. Write the milestones that you reach in your weight loss efforts, like, "My favorite jeans are getting loose!" When you are feeling discouraged, pick up this journal and read it. It will brighten your spirits.
2. Remember that back sliding is a guaranteed part to any successful weight loss program. Allow yourself the ability to mess up and don't let it make you feel like a failure. Weight loss is not an "all or none" type of undertaking. Rather, it is getting from Point A to Point B. Get up, dust off, and continue down the path of successful weight loss. Use these times as learning experiences. Did something trigger you to back slide? Is this something that happens over and over again? What system can you put into place to ensure that this won't be a common occurrence? For example, if you find that the potato chips in the pantry continually call your name, then it is time to exclude them from your grocery list.
3. When you find yourself focusing on appearance again, instead of your health, refocus. You may find that you have reached a plateau, where the scale doesn't budge for a couple of weeks. This is OK because there are many things happening inside your body that you cannot see.
For instance, just by taking your dog for a 30 minute walk every day, you are lowering your blood pressure, improving your cholesterol levels, improving your triglyceride levels, lowering your risk of developing certain types of cancer, lowering your risk of heart attack or stroke, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes, getting your blood sugar levels in check and elevating your sense of wellbeing. You are also strengthening your bones and joints, managing your stress, attaining a sense of relaxation, building your muscular strength, boosting your endurance, making your lungs and cardiovascular system work more efficiently, increasing your energy levels, improving your sleep patterns, enjoying the outdoors, and finding the peace and quiet to work through life's daily challenges, not to mention positively affecting those whom you love.
We are all aware that a positive mental outlook is vital to reaching any goal we set for ourselves, whether it is a promotion at work, earning a degree, or finishing a project. We forget, however, that positive thinking is also a foundation to a successful weight loss program. So next time you find yourself in a negative frame of mind, make sure you have that rubber band handy and snap it!