If you have ever tried to lose weight and failed, you are familiar with how the following scenario goes: It’s Monday! The day to you start a new diet and exercise plan. Day one and you are following the program diligently, every squat, every cucumber slice. Second day and oops! Life happens. You can pull yourself back and start again, surely! But then doubt creeps in: I failed last time, will I fail again? Is it worth it?
Before you know it, you go down a spiral of negative emotions that ruin not only your day but any possibility of sticking to your plan. Why can I never stick to a program? I am so useless!
This mind game is known as the thought-emotion-cycle, a series of thoughts and corresponding feelings that can either hold you back or help you move forward towards achieving any goal. It is important to disrupt this cycle of negative thoughts and emotions if you are going to be successful in your weight loss journey.
We have habits of behaviour, we also have patterns of thought. As Susan McClain, founder of the natural Success Institute, explains: “Most of the thought that we think are just repeat from yesterday and the day before and the day before”, she says. “If they are good positive thoughts, we’ll have a good week. If they are negative, destructive thoughts, well, we all been there. It’s really important to remember that we are not our thoughts; we are the thinker of our thoughts”. This idea means that, as we are the makers and thinkers of our thoughts, we can change them and choose healthy, positive thoughts.
How to think positive thoughts?
The first step is to become aware of the thoughts habits we have. To do that, get a diary and write your thoughts during a day. Get a few days worth of thoughts journey before you read them. Identify negative thoughts and patterns. They look a bit like this:
I can’t do that. I am too old to do that. I am weak and a looser. I suck. Everyone else has better luck than me. Everyone else can do things I can’t. I wish I could be like (someone else). I won’t try to do that; I will just mess it up. Why is everything so difficult for me?
Now, these thoughts are not only negative, but they are false! How do I know they are fake? Because you, just like everybody else, have the same potential, luck, skills, support and everything you need to succeed, so that makes those statements false.
Name the false thoughts.
The next step is to name your false negative thoughts for what they are!
Keep the diary, but from now on, every time that negative thought comes up on your mind, write it down. Read it and state what it is: This is false. And write why you know the statements are fake.
Your diary will start looking a bit like this:
I am too old to do that. This is false. I am not too old to do anything I want! I just need to try and find the best way to do it.
I can’t do that. This is false. I can do it! I just need to learn how
I suck, I’m such a loser. This is false. I am not a loser. I have achieved so much in my life. I just need to learn the right skills to accomplish this particular task.
I will never lose weight, and I will be fat and ugly forever. This is false. First, I am definitely not ugly! I am a beautiful human being. And if I want to lose weight, I will find the right help and learn the right skills to do so.
I wish I was (someone else); they are always so lucky! This is false; everyone in the world has ups and downs, hits and misses, good and bad days. I am amazing and lucky on my own right! I’m just having a difficult day.
Next time a false negative thought rises on your mind, remember: You are not the only one that has doubtful thoughts, we all have them!
It is ok to feel sad, angry, overwhelmed or however you are feeling, we all feel like that sometimes! You can do this because you are not on your own, there is a lot of people around you that cares and loves you! You are an amazing human being with a great set of skills. Yes, you have limitations, but you are learning to work with them, you can improve and learn new skills, and you are doing a great job!
Be cleaver when setting goals.
Setting goals is a very good habit; it moves us forward and gives us a target to work towards.
See, goals should be achievable. Focus on the process and forget the outcome. You can control the process. You canno’t control the outcome.
Next time so set a target that looks like this,
Goal: to lose 5 kilos in 3 weeks and fit on a size 8 dress. Think about it, can you be sure you can fit on a size 8 dress if you lose 5 kilos? Is that 5 kilos of water, bone, muscle or fat? What happens if you only lose 4 kilos or 6 kilos? How long after the 3 weeks are done, can you keep the 5 kilos off your hips? Will losing 5 kilos make you healthier or happier?
Re-frame the goal to reflect what you can control: The Process
Maybe to look something like this,
Goal: To increase the portions of fruit, vegetables and less-processed foods on my diet. To increase my calorie expenditure by adding 20 minutes of brisk walking a day. Change one of the sugary caramel lattes I have a day for plain black coffee. To increase water consumption by one pint a day. Or whatever else you can do!
Now that you know how to break the circle make a plan and start on Monday. And remember, Consistency is the name of the game!