By Mary Shomon
Thyroid Patient Advocate and Bestselling Author of Thyroid Diet Revolution
If you are struggling with extra weight, you may be self-critical, and have a running commentary of negative thoughts going through your mind about yourself and your body. No matter what sort of weight loss approach you’re planning to take — or trying to follow — one of the most important aspects of success is to make the mental shift from a negative perspective to a positive one.
The most important aspect is how you talk to yourself about your body. Your body is NOT your mind. They are connected, but they are not the same. Start thinking about your body as if it were a beloved friend or child. The next time a negative thought – “I’m so fat” or “I hate my thighs” or “I’m such a pig” comes into your mind, say out loud “STOP!” Then, consider whether you would ever say something like that to someone you loved who was trying to lose weight. Then, reframe the statement to a positive one, in the caring, supportive way you would talk to someone else. For example, “I am beautiful, and am working on being healthier and slimmer.” “My body does amazing things every day, and I’m going to help it become even more amazing.
I know, easier said than done, right? But there’s one truly helpful tool to shifting your thought patterns about food, weight and exercise? I highly recommend Dr. Steven Gurgevich’s audio program, “The Self-Hypnosis Diet.” It helps get the consciousness and the body speaking the same language, in a positive way. You can find it online.
Another approach you may find useful is the “Yet” approach. If you have a negative thought, restate it, but add the word “yet” to the end. For example: “I can’t lose weight” becomes “I can’t lose weight…yet.” Or “I don’t like how I look” becomes “I don’t like how I look…yet.” It takes a definitively negative statement, and with the addition of one word, opens up the possibility of improvement, and converts it into a more positive statement.
Another important state-of-mind issue is learning how to separate eating and stress. Here are two simple — but in today’s busy world, not always easy-to-follow — guidelines:
1. Don’t multitask while eating. Driving, watching television, standing at the kitchen sink, talking on the phone, or reading while eating does not allow the brain – and digestive hormones — to register satisfaction and active the hormones that make you feel full. When you’re eating, try to make it the only thing you are doing.
2. Look at your food and smell it before eating. Try taking several deep belly breaths before you eat, and even better, between bites. Chew food slowly, and thoroughly. This lowers stress hormones (which when elevated, encourage fat storage) and again allows for brain and digestive hormones to be activated, which helps reduce hunger.
A terrific resource to help shift to a healthy, weight-loss-promoting state-of-mind while eating is Marc David’s book, “The Slow Down Diet.” You can find it online.
Focus on stress-reduction in other areas of your life. Stress raises cortisol, and cortisol is the hormone that makes fat cells more receptive to sugar, and less able to release energy and burn calories when needed. Daily, active stress reduction will put you in a more relaxed and receptive state of mind to make healthy diet and exercise changes that will help your weight loss efforts.
Some ways to actively reduce stress? Meditation, guided meditation, prayer, relaxing breathing techniques, pranayama (yoga breathing), gentle yoga, contemplative walking, tai chi, qi gong, and handicrafts (like knitting, crocheting, beading, painting, artwork) and activities like relaxed gardening and bread making.
If you are interested in guided meditation, I highly recommend Demo DiMartile’s “Mastering Deep Relaxation” audio program, from One Light One Spirit. You can listen to a free sample here.
Finally, one essential mind-body element essential for weight loss is sleep. Lack of sleep raises hunger hormones and cortisol, and is a known factor that can sabotage even your best efforts to lose weight. Some doctors even say you’re better off getting an extra hour of sleep in the morning, versus getting up and going out jogging! So make sure you get enough rest to leave you feeling relaxed and energetic, and more able to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle choices.