Unfortunately for many of us, it’s easy to be critical of ourselves. Struggling with weight doesn’t help — we tend to be hard on ourselves for gaining weight which makes it more challenging to get it off. If we’re not careful, those negative thoughts can infiltrate everywhere and lead to more self-destructive behaviors. When thoughts like “I messed up,” or “I can’t do this” come to mind, it’s more probable that positive changes won’t take place. Replace unhelpful thoughts with positive ones to correct a negative mindset. Only when mental transformation begins taking place a physical one will follow. In the Body Reboot book we discuss how changing bad habits can lead to an exciting and healthy future. Below are some ways to start changing that inner dialogue and make better decisions to promote positive thinking and healthy behaviors.
Recognize the negative thoughts
Mind Body Green advises first to recognize your negative thoughts so you can change them. The key is to not allow words to have power over you. Instead, you need to have control over them!
If you're not aware of your thoughts, how can you know if they are standing between you and your goal? The key is to stay attuned to when you're having negative thoughts and then make changes in your thinking. A great strategy is to write down your most common self-critical labels and name them (“lazy” as just one example). Then, when you notice these thoughts showing up, call them out (ah, it's the “I'm so lazy” story again!), and this will help put them in their place and greatly reduce their power over you.
Have you ever heard of all or nothing thinking? If you think this way, it’s time to change that. The Saturday Evening Post provides advice on how to do that.
Did you go to bed as a late-night snacking bug and hope to awaken in the morning as a die-hard dedicated dieter? Motivation, drive, and excitement can be instrumental in helping us accomplish important goals such as losing weight. But when we look at things in a polarized way, we end up repeating cycles of weight loss and regain.
Another negative thought process The Saturday Evening Post says we should avoid is being a “mind reader.” If you’re curious what that means exactly keep reading.
Mind reading can obstruct weight management by causing anxiety and concern over what others think about us. Thinking this way can result in self-imposed pressure to prove something to a boss, sibling, spouse, or co-worker. As a result, we may eat to help relieve the stress caused by these feelings — or we may lose focus on weight-related goals.
Mind reading can directly impact health behavior if we make assumptions about what others think about our size, what we eat, or our competence using exercise equipment at the gym.
Learn how trying to be a mind reader can obstruct weight management by causing anxiety and concern over what others think about us.
Separate yourself from your inner critic
Another way to make healthy mental changes is by separating yourself from the inner critic. How do you do that? Women’s Health Mag says you should never define yourself by your thoughts. Even though these thoughts pop in your mind doesn’t mean they are true. Learn how to refute them and focus on the positive instead.
Though you can never completely get rid of these thoughts, by figuring out how to deal with them, you can stop turning to food to quiet your inner critic.
Most people don’t realize that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are rooted in your past experiences and your perceptions, but that doesn’t mean those ideas are true.
I tell my clients to categorize their thoughts as either your true self or your inner critic (a.k.a. your ego). Your true self sounds loving, happy, and knows that you have everything you need already. Your inner critic, on the other hand, is judge-y, attacking, and always on the hunt from something that will make it happier.
When we buy into the crazy things our ego tries to tell us, we live a life entrenched in fear, but when we listen to our true self, we feel worthy and confident in who we are right now. When your inner critic starts to flare up, recognize that those thoughts are not true, and separate yourself from them.
Another way to separate yourself from the inner critic is by becoming your own best friend. What does that mean according to My Fitness Pal? Well, you should be comfortable in your own skin and know that you’re amazing despite what others may think of you. You should also love spending time with yourself and going on new adventures! Hey, hanging out with yourself is quite alright!
What does this look like? Love hanging out with yourself. I like to call these my loving-kindness days. I pick a day or even a night (if you can’t give yourself a whole day) and I just slow down. I don’t schedule anything and I just let myself see what I want to do. Sometimes I read a book, do home yoga practice, and maybe for dinner all I eat is yogurt and fruit. After a day like this, I always feel like my love bucket is full.
Focus on positive, happy thoughts
Mind Body Green recommends focusing on positive, happy thoughts. Yes, we know that sometimes it’s easier said than done. However, before giving up, think of small ways you can start working on this technique. Not before long you’ll replace old negative ways of thinking with positive ways of thinking!
Think about a friend who is struggling with one of these thoughts. What would you tell him or her? You would likely respond in a compassionate manner, and this is the same way you need to respond to yourself.
So the next time you find yourself saying, “It's too hard to lose weight,” recognize that yes, it is hard to lose weight. Then remind yourself that there is never going to be an ideal time to lose weight and that if you keep putting it off, you may never have weight-management success. Replace it with a statement about how you deserve to prioritize your health such as, “What is one thing I can do today that is a step toward taking care of myself?”
Think about who you really are
According to Women’s Health Mag, focusing on who you really are can do wonders and help you calm down the negative thoughts within. A few ways to dwell on the amazing person you are is by journaling and meditating.
Once you realize how your inner critic works, you can do several things to focus on your true self. Start by choosing to see whatever you’re stressing about with a loving perspective instead. For example, you might have a thought that in order to be desirable, you need to lose weight, or that you are not desirable as you are. But you should remind your inner critic that you are inherently lovable and deserve love just by being human.
If you notice that this negative thought keeps coming up, try to meditate or think about why this keeps occurring. For instance, is it because of something that happened in your past that you're still trying to get over or something you’ve seen someone else go through? This helps you connect to your true self or your intuition and start to reorganize your thoughts. You can also try journaling about what your inner critic says and write a letter from the perspective of your “true self.”
Here are some thoughts you can have instead of negative thoughts that threaten to suck out your energy which can contribute to your lack of weight loss. An author on My Fitness Pal hits the nail on the head by naming off some positive thoughts to think instead:
I am loved.
I love and accept myself as I am right now.
I am smart and have multiple intelligences.
My belly holds my power and intuitive center and I am grateful for it.
My life has ups and downs just like everyone, and I have enough right now.
When you read through the non-self-nurturing thoughts, how do you feel? Sad, angry, hopeless? Does that make you want to reach out for some comfort, like a big bowl of chocolate ice cream? That is a pretty normal reaction. We all want comfort when we are blasted with critical words.
How do you feel when you read through the self-nurturing thoughts? Empowered, happy, confident? YES!
Don’t feed anxiety
Anxiety is an ugly beast, which is why Reader’s Digest says not to feed into it. Sometimes struggling with anxiety is hard, but there are ways to overcome it.
Ever have a big presentation coming up or you’re about to have a difficult conversation with someone you love? You should try to manage your stress or you might find yourself reaching for second (or ahem, third) helpings of your dinner or favorite snack. Often referred to as stress eating, this type of behavior is induced by anxiety and unless addressed, can be detrimental to that scale—both up and down. “Anxiety can absolutely affect the diet. Anxiety manifests differently in individuals. Some people may find themselves needing to control every ounce of food they eat, others may feel the urge to overeat, and others may lose their appetite altogether,” McMordie says.
Depression, which is similar to anxiety (anxiety actually can lead to depression), is another reason people struggle to lose weight. It’s hard to take negative thinking out of the equation when your brain is misfiring. Whether you choose to manage your depression with medication or implementing positive methods, or both, there are ways to push through the pain.
Thought patterns that drive overeating can be subtle, but depression is an obvious path to food troubles. An analysis of depression and obesity published in the Archives of General Psychiatry revealed that the mood disorder is indelibly linked to weight gain. Keith Ayoob, registered dietitian and associate professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explains that with depression, your food mood and perspective will change dramatically. Feelings of depression could show up in binge eating or starvation, but what’s key is to address your feelings head-on. “It’s so important to recognize what’s going on and seek appropriate help so you can take steps to not let depression impact your health and weight,” he says.
Show negative thoughts who’s boss by slowly teaching yourself how to think positively. It may be hard to begin with, but soon you’ll get there! Our book can help you think positively too because it shows you some incredible ways to lose weight and feel better mentally! Get started on your health journey today by checking out the Body Reboot book. If you want a free copy, help us cover the cost of shipping! Check out this page and find out whether we still have any copies remaining.
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