Weight gain is isn’t always actually about food itself. There’s usually underlying reasons why people find themselves overeating and gaining pounds they don’t love: responding to stress, rewarding themselves, eating out of boredom, being too busy to cook healthy meals, and on the list could go. So much of weight management has to do with the way we think about ourselves and food. Old habits got us in trouble, new habits will get us out. While there has to be practical strategy put in place about what foods will be eaten and what foods avoided, changing the way you think can help you lose weight. Changing the way you think in these ten areas will help you have a successful weight loss journey:
#1: Visualize yourself thin.
For so many people, getting rid of that last ten pounds feels like a losing battle. They’ve tried so many times without success it’s hard to imagine ever being successful. If there was a time you were at your ideal weight, remind yourself what it felt and looked like to be there. Picture yourself on the beach in a bikini. Stay positive and reinforce to yourself that you can do it!
#2: Say your goals out loud.
Articulate to yourself exactly what your goals are. Beyond simply reaching a lower number on the scale, think about what your other goals are. One might be the ability to keep up with your kids or be able to run your first 5k. You might simply want to imagine what life could be like with more energy after you get rid of the extra 25 pounds you’re carrying. Saying those things out loud gives them tangibility and creates a sort of accountability.
#3: Think realistically.
It’s good to imagine yourself at that ideal weight, but balance that thinking out with realistic expectations. Expecting yourself to lose ten pounds in two weeks simply isn’t going to happen. Yes, expect the changes to happen, but educate yourself on what that process will look like so you can have patience and grace for yourself along the way and not get discouraged when immediate transformation doesn’t happen.
#4: Focus on the small picture.
Set small goals you can easily attain. Make “instead” decisions you can celebrate: instead of chips, eat an apple; instead of soda, drink water; instead of mashed potatoes with dinner, have a side salad. Instead of a latte with all the sugar, get half the amount instead. You get the idea. Giving yourself things you can be successful at will ultimately encourage you all the way to meeting your big picture weight loss goals.
#5: Think ahead.
Schedule out your day and strategize what foods you will eat for each meal. If you know you’re having dinner out with friends, look at the menu ahead of time and decide what meal will be the healthiest option for you. Meal planning is another really smart strategy you can’t afford to ignore.
#6: Give yourself something to look forward to.
Rewarding yourself is huge. Don’t get stuck in the pitfall of thinking you deserve an edible treat, but give yourself other incentives to look forward to. Buy that bikini after you lose ten pounds. Treat yourself to a manicure for successfully navigating a wedding weekend without cheating. Weight loss is a journey full of hard choices; reward yourself for making them!
#7: Eat mindfully.
Give eating your full attention. Think about how your food tastes, how satisfying it is, and pay attention to your body’s signals that it’s hungry or satisfied. To keep yourself present, you could even count the number of bites you take. In one study1, two groups were given the same amount of food daily, but one group was asked to count the number of bites they took. Over time, this group lost more weight and felt satisfied more quickly than the non-counting group, even though they actually ate the same amount of calories.
#8: Think about the true cost.
So often, we eat simply because the food is available. How many parties have you been at where you ate food you weren’t really hungry for? How many meetings have they served coffee and cookies at when you really didn’t need the calories? Just because food is free doesn’t mean it won’t cost you. Especially around the holidays, it’s important to remember that food is simply fuel and to not eat something just because it’s there. Learning how much food equals how many calories can be a real eye-opener. Besides, research has shown2 free food doesn’t taste as good.
#9: Don’t fear offending people.
Eating out of obligation to not offend someone is another mental trip easy to fall into. Yes, that might be a delicious homemade pie someone put time and love into making. But it’s also full of calories and sugar that will derail your weight loss efforts. Politely decline or be honest with people; chances are they’ll understand.
#10: Beware the “deal of the day” mentality.
Marketers are smart. They know how to sucker people in to buying more than they intended by making it seem worth their while. Only $1 additional to get a coffee cake with the latte? Ok! Only $2 more to get twice as many cookies? Ok! You know how it works. The question to ask yourself is, “Do I really need that?” If the answer is no, then do yourself a favor and turn down the good deal. Because while you might be turning down a better “deal” money-wise, you’re also saying no to unnecessary calories.
Changing your thinking isn’t the only way to lose weight, but it’s a strategy that will make your journey a lot easier. Pick two or three areas you know are the most challenging for you, and go to work this week on making a change. Then, the next week, pick another area. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to thinking thin.