When embarking on a weight loss journey, whether it is the first time, or you’ve been down this road several times, it can seem daunting. The task at hand can be challenging from a mindset standpoint, especially if you have had trouble losing weight before. It can be very disappointing and shameful to have worked so hard to lose weight, but to only gain it all back and then some.
So, why is this pattern so common?
Like most that set out on a diet to lose weight, we think to decrease food intake and an increase in our exercise. Some may easily fall into false promises of quick and easy weight loss, such as drinking meal replacement shakes, taking diet pills, or the new fad diet everyone is buzzing about.
While all of this will help for a short period of time, it is not sustainable long-term. The boredom sets in, the difficulty of continuing a bland diet, restricting yourself from foods you love, so you give in once, and it all goes downhill from there.
You find yourself slowly dropping off days at the gym, excusing the fact that you missed, because you’re very busy, and grabbing convenient food on the go. Maybe that one soda lead to two, then back to two a day or more. These patterns and behaviors that were present before you started to lose weight, are not going to leave just because the weight leaves your physical body. Where most get in trouble and tend to gain weight back is when these old patterns of self-sabotage and behaviors creep back in.
You may lose 10lbs and because you feel good about your progress, you get a little lax and allow yourself to have a cookie, or two, or three. This one slip in judgment is the old pattern coming back to sabotage you. Once you’ve given in to it, it becomes even more difficult to say no to the old behaviors and patterns.
This is where the mindset comes to play in the weight loss equation. Without turning inward and changing those behaviors and patterns first, it will be nearly impossible to lose weight and keep it off long-term.
This may seem backward from what we have been taught in society about weight loss, but the more we look at the psychology behind weight loss, we see these patterns of weight gain and inability to sustain weight loss too often.
If you have found yourself back at the beginning, starting over time and again, let me share with you 5 ways that you can change your mindset and ensure long-term weight loss success this time.
1. Become Aware of Behaviors
Our daily choices set us up for success or failure every single day. It is when these choices become a habitual behavior that we can get in some serious trouble with ourselves. These patterns and behaviors that we need to become more aware of are engrained in us as children and continue to build and become stronger as we grow into adulthood.
Some of these are learned behaviors from our parents or an authoritative figure, or they can be something that we have developed to protect us from a painful situation. If we grow up watching our mother or father on a diet and learn that sugar is “off limits” to us then, we may sneak it or get as much in as we can when no one is looking.
Now, as an adult, although no one is holding you hostage to eating something sweet, we still have that ingrained behavior to hide the food, to binge eat it when no one is looking, or to treat it as if it’s going to be taken away from us.
Behaviors that are not helpful in us reaching our goals are ones that we need to become aware of so we can work on changing them to support our desires.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is simply paying attention to how we eat. So often we eat in a hurry, not even tasting our food, or we can grab a snack while trying to multi-task. When we engage in this behavior, we are not aware of how the food really tastes and how it makes us feel as we eat it.
Slowing down, tasting the food, and chewing properly allows for proper digestion, being satisfied with the food, as well as decreases the incidence of overeating.
3. Understand Associations with Food
Food can take us back to places that were our happiest moments and with the people we love the most. However, it can also have negative associations if we developed an unhealthy relationship with it at a young age. When we associate a warm chocolate chip cookie with Grandma’s love, then that cookie simply feels like love to us on an emotional level.
It isn’t necessarily the cookie we want or need, but it is to simply feel loved. Associations like this can be worked through and released by determining what you are really hungry for, food or an emotion.
4. Identify Emotions and Ties to Food
Emotional eating is a very common way of calming or suppressing a negative feeling. Food is readily available and is socially acceptable, making it easy to use for comfort. Becoming aware of these emotions and your ties to certain types of foods, whether it be a craving or an emotional binge, will allow you to gain better control over your actions when you feel that emotion.
Re-directing the way we deal with emotions, that we would otherwise use food to comfort, or allowing ourselves to feel the discomfort, heal, and let go of it, will help to eliminate this pattern. In turn, it will allow you to regain control over your emotions and you will no longer have the desire or need to reach for food to comfort you.
5. Modify Unhealthy Thoughts and Patterns
Our thoughts become our reality and many times these thoughts lead to behaviors and patterns that are not serving us to reach our weight loss goals. If we think it is difficult, we will make it that way. Thinking negative things about our bodies or food will create the reality through our own eyes, despite the truth.
Changing these thought patterns is crucial for long-term success. Your thinking must be helpful and positive to create that kind of a reality for yourself. This is where something like an affirmation or a mantra can come in to help re-train your thoughts and create new empowering ones.
Losing weight is something anyone can do, but keeping it off long-term is where the real success lies. By looking inward and releasing old stories, behaviors, patterns, and beliefs, we can create our own based off of our goals and desires.
When we are able to release those, there will no longer be anything holding you back or getting in your way of having success and creating a lifestyle and success that will be sustainable.
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Inpost Image Credit: shutterstock.com