Weight loss is a multi-part process. Exercising and cutting calories are vital, but your mental outlook can mean the difference between success and failure. Self-defeating thoughts are often the most overlooked factors when a dieter gets off track. You feel disappointed or weak if you succumb to an intense craving for ice cream. Without the resolve to overcome such thoughts, sticking with any major lifestyle change can be difficult, if not impossible. The key is to adopt the right attitude before you start your plan. If you’re really serious about slimming down, you need to think long-term. Below are some strategies to help strengthen your mind-set.
Visualize the new you - A mental dress rehearsal prepares you to recognize and accept success. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and picture yourself healthier and slimmer. How do you walk? With your head held high. How do you dress? More boldly, how do you feel? More confident, energized, and proud of your achievements.
Get your priorities straight - Start by making “commitment appointments.” First thing in the morning, set your goal for the day, whether it’s to spend an hour at the gym or to cook a healthy meal. Before the beginning of every month, decide which days you’ll work out and what you’ll do. Shop for healthy foods once a week, always on the same day if possible. Plan ahead for any obstacles you might encounter, such as a visit from the in-laws or a weekend getaway. If your mother-in-law stresses you out (and leaves you raiding the fridge after everyone’s gone to bed), schedule private time during her visit to unwind. Going away? Book a hotel with a fitness center, or plan an active outing. Keep an exercise record and a food diary (noting not just what you eat, but when and why), and schedule a time to make entries.
Uncover emotional obstacles - Sadness and anger are two of the most common reasons people overeat, but food won’t quell either one. Keep a dieting journal and spend some time evaluating your eating triggers. You’ll be able to develop more effective strategies to deal with the underlying emotions.
Celebrate every achievement - Rewards reinforce positive behavior, but only if they’re meaningful. When you reach a milestone in your weight-loss or exercise routine, treat yourself to something that celebrates the particular goal you achieved and helps further your progress. Logging an extra mile a week on the treadmill? Invest in a pair of top-of-the-line running shoes. If you’ve dropped a dress size, buy an outfit that highlights your new figure.
Forgive yourself - If you make an unhealthy diet choice, admit that you’re fallible, but don’t drown in a sea of judgmental thoughts. Berating yourself won’t foster the courage you need to dust off those cookie crumbs and move on. A momentary slip won’t register on the scale. An misstep, like a no-holds-barred vacation binge, may delay your weight loss slightly, but it isn’t likely to undo every bit of progress you’ve made. Think about what else you did on vacation, then focus on the positive. For instance, lounging by the pool relieved stress, while sampling the buffets exposed you to new flavors you can incorporate into your own low-cal cooking. Turning negative thoughts into encouraging ones will propel you to keep at it until you finally reach your goal weight.
Click the play button below to listen to an interview with pharmacist John Abdelmalek, Rph, who talks with Ask a Pharmacist host Shalena Putnam about ways to stay commited and motivated while you are dieting.