Mind Over Matter – You Are What You Think
What do you think about yourself when you look in the mirror? Are you bombarded with negative thoughts about your body image, such as “I’ll never be happy the way I am?” If so, you’re definitely not alone. Unfortunately, these types of thoughts are the very attitudes that will defeat any chance at healthy and successful weight loss.
We can actually either help or hinder the weight loss process by what we think about ourselves and food. The power of positive thinking is well-known and documented. However, knowing about something and applying it to our own lives is often a totally different story. So how do we successfully get from one side of that Grand Canyon to the other?
Think This, Not That
If you had a friend ask your opinion on his or her looks and weight, would you respond with a negative, even hurtful comment? Chances are, you probably wouldn’t. Then why would you say those things to yourself? We are our own worst critics and often have a cruel inner dialogue constantly going, criticizing our every choice about food and exercise.
The first step in changing our mindset is recognizing our self-berating, negative thoughts. These can be so ingrained that it might be difficult to pick them out at first. If you’re having trouble, Michelle May, M.D., author of “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat” suggests stopping and asking yourself what you were thinking when taking the first bite of food that made you feel either uncomfortable or unsatisfied. Then, identify if this was a negative thought. If it was negative, you’re on your way to being able to identify such dangerous thoughts more quickly and easily.
The next step is to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a technique you can use to do this. As explained by the professionals at WebMD.com, there are three main parts of CBT:
1. When you realize you’re having a negative thought, stop that thought and then write it down.
2. Ask yourself if that thought is helpful to you or not, at this moment.
3. Choose a new, positive, affirming thought and use it to replace the original negative thought.
Once you’ve begun to clear the negative thoughts, there will be room for positivity to flourish. Positive self-talk is a crucial component to a healthy outlook on life and, in turn, a healthy lifestyle. If you’re having trouble coming up with something positive to say to yourself, consider these affirmations:
– I am healthy, fit and strong.
– I feel great and have lots of energy.
– I am confident and attractive.
– I feel good when I’m exercising and being active.
– I love and respect myself.
The beauty of these assertions is that you don’t have to necessarily believe them for them to work. Simply the act of saying and thinking these statements is enough. Over time, they will replace the negative inner dialogue and these new, positive thoughts will become reality.
The Positive Mindset in Action
How does this work to help you lose weight, exactly? Negative thoughts are often an endless loop of self-fulfilling prophecies. For example: you tell yourself you’re fat. This thought makes you feel bad as a result. When you feel bad, you eat something unhealthy. Eating unhealthy food then leads you to berate yourself yet again and the cycle starts all over.
When you make a slip and eat too much or eat something you shouldn’t have, being angry with yourself only results in feelings of defeat and discouragement. That makes it extremely hard to stay on the right track.
A positive mindset breaks that cycle. Positive thoughts remind you of your progress and accomplishments so far, and help you to stay motivated. Positive thoughts also reduce anxiety and stress levels and in turn lower blood pressure and strengthen your immune system. When you make a mistake, positive thoughts are there to help you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.
Wellness programs are a fantastic way to help create a healthy lifestyle, but that healthy lifestyle is even more effective when coupled with a positive mindset.