Healthy weight loss requires a shift in thinking as much as a shift in lifestyle. A 2013 poll of over 1,300 psychologists who specialize in helping patients with weight loss found overwhelming agreement that psychological factors have a huge impact on one’s ability to lose weight and keep it off.
The first step in changing any sabotaging patterns is to recognize they exist. Do you find yourself caught in any of these traps? If so, be aware that you’re not alone and you can take steps to make a positive shift right away.
Remember that you can overcome all challenges with time and perseverance. Many people who are working on weight loss get caught in the trap of thinking that they’ll “never” see progress, or they’re “always” going to be overweight. The reality is that change takes time. Don’t quit before you even get started by demanding to see instant results and then halting your progress when it doesn’t happen.
A Defeatist Attitude
An overall negative attitude will not only be a drag on your self-esteem but will also rob you of the motivation you need to exercise more and choose healthy diet options. Remember to actively choose to replace negative thoughts with their positive equivalents. Soon this will become second nature and you will find that positive thinking simply becomes a habit.
Self-criticism will erode at your confidence and consistently undermine your weight loss efforts. Instead of criticizing yourself, focus on the things you’re doing right and the progress you have accomplished so far. Make a list of the following positive changes you have already implemented:
- Foods you have replaced with healthy alternatives
- Unhealthy habits you are avoiding
- Healthy habits you have adopted
- Positive traits about your looks, health, and personality
Thinking You’re Alone
It’s very difficult to make major lifestyle changes if no one else is changing alongside you. Book a weight loss vacation or schedule a weekend workshop at a weight loss resort to meet people just like you. There you can also connect with professional trainers and dieticians who can tailor a solution that works in conjunction with your unique goals and lifestyle.
Comparison to Others
It might be challenging, but you must stop comparing yourself to people around you, especially those in the media. This also holds true for those in your gym or workout sessions. Remember that as you continue to accomplish your own goals, you will start to look and feel better. Incorporate yoga into your healthy weight loss routine since it encourages you to build self-worth from within and focuses on releasing your mind from comparison to others. You’ll know that a shift has begun when you look at other people and appreciate things about them rather than look for comparisons.
Rushing to Food for Comfort
No matter how sad or stressed you feel, resist the urge to overeat or eat inappropriate foods in order to soothe yourself. Exercise has been proven to release “feel-good” endorphins so it’s actually a more useful solution to lift your spirits. Once you get your body moving, your mind and mood will quickly elevate.
Self-punishment goes beyond simple criticism. Criticism is the daily nagging voice that says you “shouldn’t do eat this” or “you look terrible in this dress.” Self-punishment is the voice that says that you’re a terrible PERSON and you don’t DESERVE to be happy. This can be an indicator of clinical depression. Working with a counselor or therapist to address this form of negative self-talk can turn around your attitude about yourself and your body.
Putting Yourself Last
The demands of your job and family can infringe on your exercise time or influence what you eat at home. If you’re the primary chef at home, take a stand and confidently introduce fresh, healthy foods at mealtime. Get your kids and spouse involved, too–you’ll be surprised how attitudes change when the rest of the family feels included. The same goes for workouts. Schedule exercise time with your kids, whether it’s a family bike ride, twice weekly trips to the gym or training for an obstacle course or fun run.
By building a healthy mental foundation and eradicating the psychological barriers that undermine success, you free up more energy to encourage yourself along the path to healthy weight loss. Have you overcome a negative mental pattern during your weight loss journey? Share your story below.