Even though you’ve changed your lifestyle by adopting a healthier, more balanced approach to diet and exercise, your mindset might be subconsciously undermining your efforts. Your mental attitude is the foundation upon which your actions are built so it’s important to make sure that your base is sturdy. Otherwise, it’s like building on top of quicksand: you’ll spend more time trying to dig yourself out than making real, lasting changes.
Here are some of the common psychological hurdles that can hinder your efforts—and how you can change them to promote your health and wellbeing, starting now.
Self-criticism is closely related to shame. Shame is an insidious emotion that erodes self-worth and makes it difficult to improve any area of your life. Learning to quiet the repetitive negative mental chatter that cuts down your accomplishments and second-guesses your dedication can be the single most important boost to your long-term weight loss progress.
Addiction and compulsion
Addiction and compulsion are clinically recognized psychological disorders that can wreak havoc on major life changes. Depending on your past, you might have developed overeating addictions or sabotaging compulsions that are affecting your current lifestyle changes. If you’re unsure, research the indicators of addictive or compulsive behaviors and if any of those characteristics apply to you, seek help from a counselor or look for a reputable group therapy center.
Fear of taking a personal stand
Don’t be afraid to change your lifestyle, even if your family or friends are not on board. If you decide to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, you might get pushback from people who don’t understand your choices. Resist the temptation to argue or convince. Instead, stick quietly to your morals. Sometimes undermining sentiments might be veiled behind fake compliments, such as, “You’re doing so well—you can just have one piece of chocolate cake tonight for dessert.” But remember not to let fear of other people’s opinions stop you from staying on track.
Hatred of being “fat”
Negative reinforcement is a limiting way to get results and only works up to a point, whereupon it ends up working against your intentions. Flip the tables on your disdain for being overweight and start embracing your upcoming healthy body. Instead of posting your least-favorite bathing suit photo of yourself on your motivation board or refrigerator as some sort of aversion therapy, switch it up with a photo of you looking your best, or a fitness model with the shape or body type you would like. If you find yourself thinking, “Well, that could never be me…” cut off the model’s head in the picture and look just at the body parts that you would like to emulate.
Embarrassment about going to the gym
Many of the people who most want to exercise are the most timid about using the gym. They fear that those other statue-like gym users are all secretly snickering at the less-than-perfect newbie. They also fear that the trainers are going to pity or judge them. The fact is, fitness trainers take pride in encouraging people to reach their own fitness goals. As for the other people at the gym: they really don’t care about you. They’re too focused on their own goals (and overcoming their own psychological hurdles) to pay attention to anyone else. If the staff or trainers at a gym are unwelcoming or unfriendly, find another gym!
Your fitness goals and your personal psychology are more intertwined than you might realize. By understanding the factors that contribute to a healthy mental outlook, you can streamline your weight loss process and increase your chances of maintaining your new lifestyle.