The familiar saying, “You are what you eat,” rings true. However, I propose that our thoughts also greatly impact our well-being and overall health. Essentially, we are what we think.
The manner in which we think, including our thought processes and patterns, dictate the actions we choose to take or not take. If we want to lose weight, changing our mindset is the most significant factor in achieving success. We cannot transform our weight from the outside without first recognizing the correct internal resolution and intention.
Unfortunately, many people attempt to lose weight while in the worst possible frame of mind – a mindset of needing to “fix” themselves. They adopt diet and exercise regimes from a place of self-deprecation, constantly focusing on their perceived “problem” areas, labeling themselves as “fat,” and feeling generally inadequate. Consequently, they become fixated on quick results, disregarding the importance of sustainability and overall health.
Shifting your mindset surrounding weight loss is more than just “feel-goodery”; it yields positive results. According to research from Syracuse University, women who are more dissatisfied with their bodies are more likely to avoid exercising. Furthermore, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2015 revealed that simply believing you are overweight predicts future weight gain.
Fortunately, the human mind is malleable. By following these nine expert-approved tips, you can alter your mindset and establish a healthier, happier, and more effective weight-loss approach:
1. Change Your Goals
Losing weight might be a result, but it shouldn’t be the goal. Rather, your goals should small, sustainable things over which you have full control. For example, did you eat five servings of fruits and veggies today? There’s one goal met. What about eight hours of sleep; did you get them in? If so, you can check another goal off of your list.
2. Gravitate to Positivity
Surround yourself with positive people. Doing so provides you an encouraging, emotionally healthy environment in which to invest in yourself.
3. Rethink Rewards and Punishments
Keep in mind that making healthy choices is a way of practicing self-care. Food is not a reward, and exercise is not a punishment. They are both ways of caring for your body and helping you feel your best. You deserve both.
4. Take a Breath
Taking a few minutes at the beginning of your workout, or even at the beginning of your day, to slow down and simply focus on the act of breathing can help you set your intentions, connect with your body and even lower your body’s stress response. Lie on your back with your legs extended and place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold for two and then exhale through your mouth for six, she says. With each breath, the hand placed on your stomach should be the only one to rise or fall.
5. Throw Out the Calendar
Patience is also important when you are losing weight in a healthy and sustainable matter. Plus, if you focus on meeting truly actionable goals, like taking 10,000 steps each and every day, there’s no need to get wrapped up in a timeline of goals ahead. Every 24 hours comes with new successes; focus on those.
6. Don’t Step on the Scale
While the scale isn’t intrinsically bad, a lot of us have learned to associate it with self-destructive thoughts and actions. If that’s you, don’t even bother stepping on the scale until you get to a place in which the number on the scale doesn’t define your worth.
7. Talk to Yourself Like You Would a Friend
When it comes to ideals of beauty and body image, we are incredibly hard on ourselves. The standards we adopt for ourselves are punishing. And we’d never hold our friends or loved ones to many of those standards. You deserve the same respect and compassion as anyone else; treat yourself like it.
8. Forget the Whole ‘Foods Are Good or Bad’ Mentality
Somewhere along the line, we’ve learned to feel either proud or guilty about every food choice we make. But it’s just food, and you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about wanting the occasional cookie. Give yourself permission to have a glass wine or a piece of chocolate cake. Remember, all foods fit.
9. Focus on the Attainable
If you have never stepped into a gym before, your goal shouldn’t be doing 30 minutes on the elliptical on day one. A better goal may be to go for a 20-minute walk. If you want to cook more, but have little experience with healthy recipes or are strapped for time, don’t expect yourself to craft new healthy recipes every night after work. Maybe consider using a delivery service in which pre-portioned ingredients and recipes are sent to your door, helping you to get acquainted with new ingredients, try out new recipes and build fundamental cooking skills. Start where you are and build from there.