Manage Your Mind to Manage Your Weight
February 12, 2010 by Kelly Stallings
“What you think about you bring about.” This adage is true for any goal—especially weight loss. If you believe weight loss is hard, you probably support this self-fulfilling prophecy with negative thinking, self-criticism and rationalizing bad choices. Making simple mental changes will positively impact weight loss by naturally boosting your motivation for healthy choices and improving your mood.
Your weight and physical image match your mental picture of yourself. Your daily life experiences are filtered through your beliefs, and you make decisions that support those beliefs. The good news is that it’s possible to reprogram your brain to achieve the results you want. With a little practice you can use cognitive behavioral techniques to manage your mind by developing positive beliefs about your body. These written, visual and mental rehearsal techniques are simple and easy to incorporate as new daily habits.
1. Written Rehearsal
- Write down your goals. Create a goals journal and write your goals as statements as if they have already been achieved.
- Include both short-term and long-term goals. If your long-term goal is to climb a set of stairs, think of short-term goals as the individual steps.
- Celebrate your accomplishments as you achieve each short-term goal. Highlight each goal in your journal as it is achieved. By including many easy-to-achieve, short-term goals, you will be regularly highlighting items in your journal. You will naturally stay motivated as you achieve and celebrate each short-term goal.
2. Visual Rehearsal
- Create a vision board to keep your goals in your conscious awareness. Use pictures, symbols and text that represent your goals as achieved and attach as many images as you can in the space. Remember, the vision board is fluid, so feel free to add or modify images regularly.
- Hang your vision board so that you can see it each morning and again each night.
- As you look at the images on your board, enjoy the feelings and thoughts these pictures elicit. You are acting “as if” these goals have been achieved by feeling the emotion connected with goal achievement. Staying mindful of the picture of your healthy self wearing your skinny jeans can serve as motivation to avoid eating those late-night snacks.
3. Mental Rehearsal
- Mental rehearsal reprograms your subconscious to automatically behave in ways that support your vision. Elite athletes have used mental rehearsal techniques for decades to improve their skills. They repeatedly visualize a perfect execution of their skill in vivid detail. This mental practice creates the same neural experience that physical practice creates.
- Use mental rehearsal each night before falling asleep. Make yourself comfortable in bed with your body straight and uncrossed arms and legs. Relax your body as you slow your breathing and clear your mind.
- Create a mental movie of yourself at your goal weight and incorporate all your senses into this movie. See the environment, hear the sounds, smell the smells, and feel the textures your healthy trim self will feel in this visualization. Repetitively experiencing this detailed visualization will create your belief in this new self-image, which, in turn, will make it easier to naturally make decisions and act in ways that will develop this visualization into your reality.
As you begin using these techniques, understand it is normal to become moody or grumpy; many people report that using visual and mental rehearsal feels like lying to themselves. If your current physical state is not the goal weight you are rehearsing, your conscious mind can fight the experience of rehearsing something that is not true. Continue practicing daily to move through the moodiness.
Change naturally occurs with repetitive action. Neurons that fire together wire together. Commit to using these techniques for a minimum of 30 consecutive days. This will create expectancy for achieving a healthy weight.
Rehearse the details of your goals in writing, visually rehearse your weight-loss success using images, and mentally rehearse being at your goal weight to create your belief. These techniques will create the mindset and beliefs necessary to accomplish amazing weight-loss results!
About the Author
Kelly Stallings is a licensed psychotherapist, speaker and author of Life Is Mental: Think Thin to Live Thin. Kelly’s book teaches an easy-to-follow mental formula for weight loss and healthy, happy living. For more information, visit LifeIsMental.com.