Are you eating right, exercising, but still not losing weight?
Have you tried every diet in the book with no luck?
Do you lose weight only to gain it right back?
There’s one major thing that people in general, trainers, and fitness professionals alike, usually forget to take into account when dealing with weight loss — your mind. The mind is powerful and can very well be working against you. If it seems like you’re going nowhere fast, there’s a pretty good chance it has nothing to do with your actions, and everything to do with the way you’re thinking.
Getting to know your Mind:
– It Fears Change
Though your mind can come up with some pretty amazing ideas, in terms of achieving goals (of any kind) a trick that works for me, is to visualize it as an old man who’s set in his ways — it’s a creature of habit and it doesn’t like change.
The mind hasn’t really evolved since the caveman days when having your guard up and not taking much risk was a matter of survival. It sees change as a threat — protect yourself at all costs! — and so, it will tell you everything to deter you from doing something different because to it, different equals risk.
We’ve all heard that little voice that says:
“It’s too hard.”
“I’ll never lose weight.”
“Nothing works, so what’s the point!”
Sound familiar? THIS is your old man.
Knowing, understanding, and recognizing this little voice is the first step in reprogramming your mind for success.
Here’s some of the main “old man tactics” and how to deal with them:
Understand that as soon as you make your move, your Old Man will sense change, and show up. He remembers the way you’ve done things for years and when you change something he sends you a reminder: “Ah hello, it’s 8pm. Isn’t this usually when we eat something sweet?” — and cue the cravings! He will try and get your attention:”Hello! It’s not working! It’s no use. Might as well quit. ”
SOLUTION: When these sabotaging thoughts come in, you are now prepared as you now recognize this is your mind’s fear of change. It may sound silly but it actually helps to answer yourself back (out loud or in your head): “Hi, Old Man (name him if it helps), I knew you’d show up. I’m not listening to you anymore. I’m committed to what I want and I’m getting there.”
Old Man Says: “You failed before, and you’ll fail again.”
Just because you failed in the past doesn’t mean you’re doomed. If it was hard for you to succeed before, chances are it was your limiting beliefs and negative thoughts that got you off track. You have to PRACTICE healthy thinking the same way you practice healthy eating. It’s a habit that needs to be developed.
Remember that fad diets usually result in short term success that ends with the weight coming right back. The feeling of being back to square one usually leaves people with a feeling of defeat. In most cases, this will cause a counter-effect; causing people to eat more.
SOLUTION: Think of every so-called failure as a learning experience so there is no such thing as being back to square one. You are stronger and wiser because of this experience. Tell yourself: “All that matters is the NOW. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. I learned that that diet didn’t work for me, now on to the next. Today, I’ll take a positive step to honor my body.” Then, follow through and do one kind thing for your body that reinforces your commitment to taking care of yourself.
Old Man Says: “Exercise is a luxury, not a priority.”
Many people are just so busy, they don’t count exercise as a necessity, which is why it’s so easy to keep pushing it back, or never doing it at all. But exercise means better health and more energy, and health should always be a priority. If you truly want to lose weight then making a commitment is necessary.
SOLUTION: Treat exercise as you would with an important work meeting. Schedule your workouts in your calendar, in pen, and stick to your schedule.
Old Man Says: “This is just the way I am.”
Many people like to blame others for their weight issues:
- My parents taught me to eat the wrong type of foods.
- My wife cooks for me.
- It’s genetics.
- I’ve accepted myself like this.
Or, they point the finger to others who are worse off then them, or prove that they are “good enough” by the level that they are still able to function, using these as ways to conclude that they aren’t that bad. Taking diet pills, and even medications (ex. cholesterol, blood pressure meds) are like bandaids for the underlining problem. These are all forms of denial and excuses. Doing this is only hurting yourself by not admitting you need to take control of your health.
SOLUTION: Seeing a nutritionist, life coach, personal trainer, and/or joining a calorie-counting program can go along way in helping you break bad habits. You really have to begin seeing your food as fuel, and exercise as a tune up. Everything you eat will either create health or destroy it. The foods we eat can actually have effects on genetic predisposition. Eating right and exercising is becoming more and more known to prevent and even cure disease.
Old Man Says: “Nothing is changing! It’s not working.”
Remember this: Impatience sabotages. It took time for you to get to where you are, so getting to where you want to be will unfortunately not happen over night. It takes 21 days to create a new habit. It takes time reframe a lifetime of negative thinking.
SOLUTION: Eliminate the scale. Looking at the numbers can be discouraging. Sometimes you’ll notice your clothes fitting better and you feeling better before the numbers on the scale change. Make sure you have small, attainable goals rather than one monumental one. Write out this quote and post it up somewhere you can see it regularly: “When someone conquers Mount Everest, he had to conquer a lot of much smaller hills before he got there.”
Old Man Says: “Hard day? Have a cupcake!”
A lot of people turn to treats for comfort and distraction from issues like stress, loneliness, depression, and anxiety. I think it comes from when we were kids and our parents calmed our crying fits with the promise of ice-cream.
Quick fixes are hard to pass up because it’s satisfying now, as oppose to diet and exercise which takes time to get satisfaction. We think, why bother eating healthy when the reward is so far off?
SOLUTION: In that moment of reaching for the cupcake seriously think about it. “What’s more important to me? Losing weight, or this cupcake, which will probably make me feel guilty afterwards?” If you still crave that cupcake try to fill yourself with a couple of glasses of water, a glass of milk (or almond milk), or some fruit. Chances are this will be enough to send the craving on a hike. But, if you just can’t help it, remember that you are human, don’t beat yourself up, and just get right back on the wagon afterwards.
I’ll say it again: Don’t beat yourself up. Being hard on yourself only leads to hating yourself, which never helps anything. Instead, focus on the times you were able to stay strong and celebrate those moments (no matter how small). Maybe you avoided the office box of donuts, or chose a salad over a burger. Giving attention to the positive things will help to create greater self confidence and motivation to continue with your weight loss goals.
This leads us to…
Another way your mind sabotages you – It thinks Pressure is the best way to get through to you.
Come back to our blog for the continuation of this article: “Want to Lose Weight? Stop Pressuring Yourself.”
In the meantime, here’s your homework:
- Notice your internal dialogue, confront your “Old Man” whenever he pops up, with supportive, positive dialogue.
- Make a list of the benefits you’ll have from achieving your weight loss goal, and read it first thing each morning.
- Remember that you can have excuses, or you can have results.
Resources: psychologytoday, fitday.com, fitsugar.com