Have you tried a dozen different strategies to release weight, but nothing’s worked?
Or did you release pounds last spring that managed to find their way back this past summer?
Are you frustrated as to why you can’t seem to permanently release those pounds?
If you’re unhappy about your current weight, chances are it’s less about what you’re doing and more about what you’re thinking.
That’s because your thoughts direct your actions. For example, when you tell yourself, “It’s hopeless. I’ll never lose weight,” you’re more likely to eat that second helping, grab fast food fries or binge eat a bag of chocolate chip cookies.
But keeping your thoughts strong and positive helps you feel strong and positive and helps you change your most ingrained habits. To change your habits so they support the lasting weight-loss you desire, start with looking at how you’re thinking.
When you become mindful of your thoughts, you’re helping yourself change your behavior. It’s like giving a power boost to any eating or exercise program you’re following. Even a simple reframe or slight shift in your thinking can make a huge difference by allowing you to take better care of yourself.
Focus on your mind and your plate.
To release weight successfully and permanently, be as mindful about what you’re thinking as you are about what you’re eating—and you’ll begin to rewire your thoughts so you can start achieving the results you want.
To illustrate how this works, here are five of the most common self-limiting thoughts I hear from my clients—I bet you can relate—and some strategies for how to change them, mindfully.
1. “I’m afraid I’ll never be able to lose weight.”
When you’ve struggled with your weight for much of your life, it’s easy to feel demoralized at times. The key is to not linger too long in that low-energy space. Otherwise, you’ll feel helpless to take any step forward. Unless you have a physical condition or are taking medication that inhibits weight loss (in which case, speak with your healthcare provider for support), remind yourself that there is nothing in your way other than your own thoughts and beliefs and becoming thinner is possible.
When this limiting thought enters your mind, use it as an opportunity to strengthen your courageous side. Pause. Take a deep breath. Simply notice the thought with detachment and say:
“There you are again. That’s okay. I won’t give you my power and I won’t let fear get in my way. Thank you for reminding me to be courageous and take good care of my body today.”
2. “Even when I lose weight, I always gain it back. What’s the use?”
Just because something always has been, doesn’t mean it always will be. Trust in your power to make permanent change and know that taking back your power is just one new thought away. If it’s been hard for you to succeed before, chances are your limiting beliefs got in the way. Decide to practice healthy thinking in the same way you’re learning to practice healthy eating.
When thoughts of past defeat creep in, tell yourself:
“It doesn’t matter what happened before. All that matters is this moment. I will turn things around right now and take one positive step to honor my body today.”
Then follow through and do one kind thing for your body. Drink a large glass of water, give your body movement and dance in your living room, or simply enjoy a crisp apple. Even one small healthy and self-loving step reboots your confidence.
3. “I’ve tried everything to lose weight and nothing works. I’m a hopeless case.”
There are many sound nutrition and exercise approaches to help you release weight. But perhaps when you try them you become impatient and give up too soon. Or maybe the approach requires a commitment that you’re not ready to make. And sometimes it’s a lot easier to say, “It didn’t work” instead of exploring how you may have gotten in your own way.
To be clear, this is not about self-blame: It’s about discovering those places where your fear-mind takes over. (The fear-mind is what I call all those fearful, self-sabotaging thoughts generated by your inner gremlin. It gets very active when we attempt to change.)
Once you recommit to your weight-loss goal, understand that your fear-mind will do everything in its power to find evidence that you’re failing. For example, when the scale shows you’re a few pounds higher one day (or your pants feel too tight) your fear-mind will taunt you with thoughts like: “See… it’s not working” or, “Ha! I told you that you couldn’t do this.”
When that happens, take charge. Speak back to those sabotaging thoughts as if they’re simple-minded bullies just trying to annoy you:
“OK, I expected you may be here. But I’m not listening to you anymore. Right now I’m more interested in taking good care of my body. Thank you for reminding me to feel hopeful. You can leave now.”
4. “I hate my body.”
No doubt this very common toxic thought derails you. This one is especially dangerous because it holds a low-level energy that weakens your body, zaps your self-worth and sends you straight to the cookie jar. It’s really important to turn this one around—fast.
First, a question. Do you really “hate” your body or are you simply feeling self-conscious about your weight? There’s a difference. “Hating” your body dishonors everything your body does for you, like allowing you to walk along a beautiful beach, give a warm hug to your child, or enjoy a flower’s sweet fragrance. (You don’t hate those things, right?)
Soften your tone. Feeling self-conscious about your weight is an authentic feeling. It’s better to acknowledge that than belittle your body with harsh words.
Instead of saying, “I hate my body”, say, “I’m unhappy with my weight and I’m changing that. I love how I feel after I take a bath at night and after a brisk walk.”
You can learn to love taking care of your body, even if you don’t love how your body looks right now.
5. “This is taking too long. Nothing’s changing.”
It’s easy to feel discouraged when you don’t see immediate results. But permanent weight loss takes time. This time is necessary not only to release the pounds but for you to also emotionally grow into the new person you’re becoming. And inner transformation must happen at the same time as outer change.
One reason yo-yo dieting is so common (and so unsuccessful) is that weight is released but self-sabotaging thoughts are not. For sustainable, lasting weight loss, you need to release both.
Remind yourself, “It took a long time for me to get here. It will take time to get where I want to be.”
And one more thing: Don’t go it alone. Create a personal support team so you don’t remain isolated. Consult with a registered dietician, personal trainer, counselor, life coach or your medical practitioner for guidance. Ask a friend to be an accountability or exercise buddy. Attend Overeater Anonymous meetings to connect with like-minded people. When you have a solid plan and good support in place, the time it takes to reach your goal pales alongside your new, healthy lifestyle.
Even when you don’t see visible results, have faith. Just because you haven’t reached your goal yet doesn’t mean you won’t. As long as you stay committed to you, you are making progress. Remember: Every time you turn around a self-defeating thought, you’re taking charge of your life—and your weight.
You—and your mind—are so powerful. You got this!
Will you commit to keeping your thoughts strong and confident?