Positive Thinking How ToPart 2 | Weight Loss Motivation Series
PART 2: How to Prepare for Positive Thinking
(Read Part 1 Here)
Motivation to Lose Weight: First off, I’m going to declare that I am not a health professional and I don’t have all the answers…in fact the following article could be gibberish and just mutterings from a desperate dieter! I am a firm believer though in the power of positive thinking, especially when we have to make changes we don’t really want to make. The following is based on research I have done, as well as my own experiences, and if any of it can be of use to you on your journey, then this article has been worth writing, and if not, well at least I finally got it off my chest.
Unfortunately, you can’t just decide to think positive and not only hope it will do the trick but also last the duration. It takes work and preparation but once you have the foundations in place and know how to tackle situations when they arise, fighting negativity becomes a whole lot easier.
When we start a diet, it is with great determination to change our eating habits and ‘this time’ stick it out until we get the results we desire. But we don’t put in the required amount of focus beforehand to enable us to be ready for when that determination begins to waiver and we are face-to-face with negativity.
We are going into battle against thoughts that have been ingrained into us over years of repeated cognitive processes and reaffirming actions, so a few whim thoughts of ‘this time I’ll do it’ is not going to cut it.
We need to prepare ourselves for the mental fight that is to come.
We need psychological weapons to defend ourselves and impenetrable self-armour to protect us from the blows that we will take…
…Let the battle commence.
It may be boring but journaling for weight loss is extremely powerful! It is not enough to try and remember why you want to lose weight, because when you really need a reminder, your memory will conveniently fail you and negativity will triumph.
If you have it written down in extensive detail then you’re back in the fight – so don’t enter the arena without your journal!
I use Penzu and OneNote but have also got a hard-backed spiral notebook when I want to write ‘old-school’. Here are some options you can use…
- a paper diary or fancy notebook;
- an online journal like Penzu, Monkkee or Journalate;
- text editor like MS Word stored in named folders;
- mobile and web apps:
- written postcards
- Post-it notes (online or offline)
Other tools to help:
- GetPocket (great for keeping URLs organized by tags)
- Dictaphone to record notes and keep the recordings filed (Dictaphone by ALON is a free app)
Whatever it is that suits your way of working is perfect, as long as it is easily accessible and editable.
2. Believe Who is in Control
You have the power to control what you want but you need to realise it and more importantly you need to believe that it is you who can control your own outcome.
Nobody makes you succeed, you do that all on your own;
But likewise, nobody makes you quit – you do that all on your own too.
- You control your own effort and how much you put into what you want;
- You have the control to do what is right for you;
- You control whether you learn from your mistakes;
- You have the control to view hard times as challenges and not reasons to give up;
- You have the control to find ways to overcome those challenges.
But convincing yourself that you hold all the aces takes some getting used to.
The first entry in your journal should be – in big, bold letters:
I AM IN CONTROL OF WHAT I WANT AND I CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Read it every morning and every night.
Believe it and continue to believe it!
No matter how long it takes, YOU WILL BE A SUCCESS AND BE AT THE WEIGHT YOU WANT TO BE.
You have the power, the control and the ability to make it happen. You will also have the tools, the techniques and the correct exercises to help you do it the way that is best for YOU and when you realise and believe this…
…success is inevitable.
3. Know Thyself; Your One True Friend
No one knows you better than you. You are the only person who can make things happen, who can get through the tough times, feel the really low periods but then experience the complete highs of success and the happiness that that achievement brings.
And you are the one who will get you through this, but you need to be researched and understood. Desires, fears, hopes and dreams need to be documented, along with emotions and moods, what gets you motivated and inspired, what lights the fire deep inside to do great things and smash challenging goals.
This is you getting to know you.
Who Are You?
When we have kids, we know everything about them. As their protector we know what they like to eat and what they don’t, what comforts them and what situations cause them worry. We know them more than we know ourselves it seems.
As our own protectors, we need to study ourselves to find out what makes us happy, what we need to avoid, and more importantly how we handle certain situations.
What you think you know about yourself is not always how it is.
So start to really get to know you and document it in your journal.
The Right Time to Study Yourself
Those ‘me’ times we all like to have are great for this exercise because it’s when we are at our most content, the barriers are down and we can really think about who we are.
When is your ‘me’ time?
- Is it sitting alone and in complete silence with a hot beverage?
- Or is it listening to your favorite tunes?
- Or maybe walking outside in the fresh air when you can take in the scenery and put life on hold?
- Or is it that twilight hour just before you go to sleep when your aspirations are at their clearest?
What do you think about when you are in this zone? What makes you happy? What thoughts bring that warm feeling deep inside when you think about them? Do you dream? Plan? Read? Reminisce? Or like to solve a problem?
Think of everything you can e.g.:
- What sort of person are you? Outgoing? Shy?
- Do you find it easy to talk to others or prefer to sit at the back and listen?
- What have you always wanted to learn? What hobbies would you really like to do?
- What are your favorite foods? What is that you just can’t do without – in food and home comforts?
- What about your moods? When are you more likely to be stressed?
- What makes you really, really happy?
- What would you like to look like?
- What do you love about yourself?
- When you try to lose weight, what do you find difficult?
- Can you eat just one cookie or have to have the packet?
- What have you tried before?
- What makes you give up?
- What keeps you going?
- Do you know of any motivation or positive thinking techniques that you might like to try?
Take some time to really get to know yourself and document it. The words do not have to been in any order, follow any pattern or even make sense to anybody else but you.
Comparison Not Permitted
Think about people you know and what they do. Does any of it appeal? What have you read about in magazines or online that you haven’t tried before and would like to?
But don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others or getting disheartened when something they do is only wishful thinking and may never be a reality for you:
Staring enviously at a jogger who doesn’t even look like they need to exercise only makes you feel like you will never succeed because you can’t/won’t do the same. The truth is you will lose your weight, be much fitter than you are now and achieve your own success, you will just do it differently.
This doesn’t mean giving up on something if you really want to do it; just don’t try and mirror your journey to the same as somebody else’s. If you really want to start running, then write it down in big bold letters and underline it. And use your journal to plan out a way of achieving it step-by-step.
Don’t ignore any interests you have just because your body or mind isn’t ready, because tomorrow it just might be.
We spend far too long focusing on what we don’t like about ourselves
that we don’t have any energy left to see the good.
The Promise to Ourselves
We take our body for granted; we take our mind for granted, and we think we will look after ourselves when we have a bit more time or money – both of which are neither required or ever achieved, and the potential we all have to get what we want is wasted, in fact we never really understand what it is we do want.
By writing things down…
- we highlight those features that we don’t normally think about, and re-read later can help boost our positivity and self-confidence, or help carry us over a rough patch.
- It helps us try out different techniques and note what works and doesn’t work.
- It is also a written promise to ourselves that we are going to do things differentlyand finally take our desires seriously.
This is our ‘us’ research, our catalog of who we are and a reminder of what it is that we truly want, only then can the necessary improvements be made and the negativity faced.
When you hit a challenge,
it just might be a memory you wrote in your journal
that gets you through it.
4. Positive Reflections
One of the many causes of negativity is our constant reflection of everything bad that has happened before; we have the unique ability to forget the good and replace it with a barrel load of negative experiences!
This has to be rectified and although we can’t stop our minds from wandering, we can make a conscious effort to change its direction and have it focus on a positive memory instead.
But it’s hard to remember these positive memories, especially when we need them the most. This is where our journals come in handy – make a list of everything positive that has happened to you. Some examples could be:
- The Simple Things – a compliment you received or a much-needed parking space.
- Major Events – the birth of a child or the completion of a major project.
- Holidays – Weekends away, trips to foreign lands or visits to/from distant friends and relatives.
- Leisure – A memorable movie, a story or an old song.
- Materialistic – Purchase of something special or a rare extravagance.
- Emotional – A first date or precious time spent with loved ones.
- Seasonal – Christmas mornings, birthday surprises or warm sunny evenings with a glass of wine.
- Wins – a competition/lottery win or a correct answer in a quiz; pay rise, promotion or the start of a new business.
Your list will be a work in progress as you remember more and more things to add. But it’s not just the past that needs to be recorded – make a note of all the good things that you experience from day-to-day.
These are also great to read each morning to start a new day already on a positive note.
Consult Your List
When you are feeling low or just need to get over a difficult period in your day, read through your list of great memories and experiences and remember those feelings you had at the time.
Your initial thought processes will be interrupted and the direction of your emotions will alter. This slight change can be enough to stop the negativity spreading and taking over your moods, decisions and actions.
And remember a positive thought is twice as powerful as a negative one.
5. Reasons for Weight Loss
Following on from the list of positive reflections, are the reasons for wanting to lose weight and the benefits it will bring, both physically and emotionally.
When the going gets tough…
The tough need a reason!
The benefits have to be personal for YOU and what will improve YOUR life.
- Do you get out of breath taking the stairs? Or after walking just a few yards?
- Do your legs tend to swell and ache with the excess weight you carry?
- Do you struggle to reach your toes and painting nails is a distant memory?
- Do you have health complications brought on through increased weight?
From that list write the positive improvements:
- I will be able to take the stairs two at a time;
- I will be able to walk at a fast pace without getting out of breath;
- I will have slim legs that look great in skinny jeans.
Do the same with the emotional benefits:
- I will have so much more confidence;
- I will be able to wear better clothes and feel good in them;
- I will finally look forward to going on holiday and wearing a bikini;
- I will pick out the first outfit in my wardrobe and know I look good in it.
These are your ‘why’ lists; the reasons you want, and need to lose weight and make improvements in your health. Regularly add more reasons as you think of them.
And when you’re feeling those doubts creeping in and you’re deciding whether or not to have that portion of pie, open your journal and read your why list and concentrate on what each statement really means to you:
- How is it going to feel when smaller trousers fit perfectly?
- And how about zipping knee length boots right up to the top – AND over your jeans?
- How will you feel walking into a room full of people you know, emanating self-confidence and looking fantastic in figure-hugging clothes, without the need for baggy over-shirts/jackets?
Those negative thoughts will fade away as your feelings and excitement for what is to come take over.
You are in control.
6. The Right Company
To feel positive, it helps if you are surrounded with positive people who make you feel better about yourself and your ambitions, and who contribute to your life instead of pulling it down.
Negativity breeds negativity and if your friends are feeling pessimistic about the world and their life, it could have a negative impact on you and your ultimate goals.
After socialising with them, does your outlook change? Do you suddenly feel negative and disheartened, and you should accept your ‘lot in life’ because you are not destined for anything more?
If it is then maybe you need to re-evaluate your circle of friends, or introduce some new ones into your life.
Joining clubs in your local area is a great way to make new friends, or signing up to online communities where participation is high and support can be 24/7.
Search out motivational people and follow them; their positivity will be addictive and can inspire you to do great things.
Although it is not always easy to surround yourself with inspirational people, rethink the time you spend around negativity. Your time is precious, why give it away to people who have no interest in your aspirations and what you are trying to achieve.
7. Capture Triggers
Most of the time we don’t know what our triggers are that put us into negativity. One minute we are eating lettuce and running marathons, the next we are pinned to the sofa surrounded by empty wrappers from our latest binge.
- What made us change direction?
- What caused us to stop working for what we want and surrender to what we have?
- Was it something somebody said?
Try and find out what these triggers are. Think back to previous times when you ‘fell off the wagon’; was it a particularly stressful period? A holiday? Or had you just wanted to have that ‘feel good feeling’ that you think only food can provide?
And write them down as they happen, no matter how much you DON’T want to at the time!
Knowing what these triggers are beforehand makes it easier to anticipate them; use exercises on them (like tapping), and ultimately stop them before they do too much damage.
8. When You Don’t Want To Fight
There are those times unfortunately, when you don’t want to fight the negativity and you don’t care about the consequences.
Sometimes you just WANT to give in. You want to have that comfort that only food can give you.
You don’t want it to stop or for the feeling to go away by reading your journal and robbing you of that pleasure you crave so much.
And that’s okay.
But in that moment, before you have the cookie (or whatever it is you want to eat), just pause for a moment.
Don’t think about having the food or not having the food.
Think about why.
- Why do you want to give it all up?
- Why do you want to go against what you have been working to achieve?
- When the comfort in that food you are about to eat is over so quickly, why do you want to sabotage all of those other times when you worked so hard to resist?
Don’t think of this as a way of stopping yourself from having the food – you can still have it – just take a few seconds to think about what it is that makes you want to give up all reasoning.
This little distraction could be all it takes to shift your mind away from negative determination so you can get in there with other aversion tactics.
Write this exercise in your journal as a reminder to do when the time comes. Read it often so it almost becomes like an instinct to ask yourself why.
This little challenge to yourself could be all that is needed for instant triumph.
9. Response Cards
Judith S Beck, the creator of The Beck Diet Solution uses response cards which can be extremely powerful in fighting off attacks of negativity and self-sabotage.
The idea is to create written cards for situations you encounter that may cause you to make the wrong choices.
Even though it’s hard, it doesn’t mean I can’t do this.
Get away from it.
This is just a craving and cravings always go away.
I will feel so much better in the long run (and in the short run)
when I overcome it.
For more information see What is The Beck Diet Solution?
10. Attack Negative Thoughts
Try and preempt the negative thinking that you know will pop into your head – these are similar to triggers but usually more obvious.
Write them all down. It doesn’t matter how silly you think they are – this is just for you.
And when you suddenly have a negative thought – add it to your journal (at this point you don’t have to do anything about it, just document it so an attack can be prepared for next time.)
An example of a negative thought could be:
‘I really want to have that pizza for lunch instead of my boring chicken salad’
Now, find an argument against the negative thought, for example:
Of course, you really want that pizza, it tastes lovely and much, much better than what you should be having.
But what about that feeling afterwards? That horrible feeling of disappointment.
The pizza will be gone; your stomach will feel uncomfortable.
You will hate yourself. And for what? Five minutes of a high – because that’s all it will be.
Look back at your journal and remind yourself of those why’s – make new ones up if you can.
Write a response card like the example from The Beck Solution:
The pizza is going to be really nice, and I am going to want it
but I can resist it.
It’s more important to me to lose weight.
If I eat the pizza, I will get momentary pleasure,
but afterwards I’ll feel worse.
Try and think of every negative thought or excuse that has risen in the past and find a good counter attack for it.
11. Highlight Challenges and Prepare
Challenges in life can become triggers so it is important to recognise and plan around them so they don’t end up causing significant damage.
Challenges are things like social events, picnics, cooking disasters, weekends, hot summer days, afternoon lows, family/friends’ birthdays, conferences, spontaneous activities etc.
The best line of defense is to have back-ups in the form of healthy snacks, low fat recipes and quick and easy alternatives to dishes that won’t break the calorie bank.
These back-ups will depend on the type of challenge e.g.:
Sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps/chips, pork pies… all great for picnics but not if you’re trying to stick to plan. Try thinking of foods that you could take instead and that you will enjoy just as much:
- Chicken salad with a low-calorie dressing but add things that you wouldn’t normally like pickles, sweetcorn or grated carrot.
- Egg mayonnaise on whole meal rolls and use low fat mayo and no butter
- Low fat chicken sausages cut up on sticks
- Wraps packed generously with low fat meats and cucumber or pickles
This has happened to me on more than one occasion and can unfortunately lead to a trip to the nearest take-away!
Keeping cupboards stocked with healthy, quick-and-easy meals has been a life-saver on the occasions when I have managed to ruin dinner.
And if the take-away does happen then that’s okay too…
Let it go but allow it to yourself.
Don’t look on it as you have given up on your diet,
it’s a bump in the road – accept it and move on.
It’s no detriment, you will enjoy it, and the world will be okay again.
It is amazing how life gets in the way – constantly, and if you’re not prepared for it, you will blame yourself for failings that are not there.
Find alternatives but make sure those alternatives are enjoyable or they may not work…
The lure of the pizza shop can be a strong incentive to beat.
12. Send a Message
If you know a friend or relative is feeling down or is going through a rough time, chances are you would send them a message. Even if it’s just a short text to let them know you are there and to provide some words of comfort.
So why don’t you do that for yourself?
You know there will be times when you are going to struggle. You know there will be times when you will just want to give up. And you know that sometimes all you need is somebody to say…
‘it’s okay, I’m here and everything will be fine’.
Well you know what…? You have that somebody with you at all times, reminding you of why you’re doing this and being your very own cheerleader.
And best of all that somebody knows you inside and out, and knows exactly what to say to keep you going through the tough times…
That person is YOU.
In your journal, start to write down messages to yourself that you know will give you encouragement, for example:
‘Hey, it’s me. I know how you’re feeling and it’s okay because we knew it wouldn’t be easy but just remember all those things we want to do when we’re much slimmer, and the clothes…remember the clothes we want to wear…? I’m here for you to let you know you’re not alone and you can totally do this.’
‘Hey, it’s me. You will be fine and I am so proud of you. What you are feeling now is temporary – it will not last. Just ride it out, ignore it and think of all those things we are going to do when we have lost more weight. Keep on in there, I am here with you – every step of the way.’
And when you’re thinking of giving in, look back at those messages that you have written to yourself and know that the negative feelings will pass and your brain will be shifted.
You will then be able to rejoice in the most satisfying outcome of success that will last a lot longer, and be way more powerful than any temptation to jeopardise your diet, no matter how overwhelming it felt at the time.
13. Accept Not Doing Everything Perfectly
There are so many tips, guidelines and advice about losing weight, it is easy to think we have to do them all if we want to see true success.
And we get bogged down, we get obsessed with doing things perfectly that we get discouraged, fed up and disheartened when we don’t.
It is always the same…
At the beginning of any diet, we do all the right things; from calorie counting and smaller portions, to drinking litres of water and visiting the gym three times a week.
We don’t sneak a cookie or use high fat dressings; everything is low calorie, low fat and low carbs.
And we RELY on the scales to reward us each and every week – with no option of failure.
But being perfect is hard and we start to slip-up…
The gym gets missed two weeks running and we’ve not had any water today.
There’s a discrepancy on the scales and we’re convinced it’s down to the extra helping of potatoes…
We feel like we are failing, and we start to convince ourselves that we will never succeed at losing what now seems to be a huge amount of weight.
It’s okay not to do everything perfectly…
- It doesn’t matter if we don’t have 8 glasses of water.
- It doesn’t matter if we had an extra helping of pasta on Tuesday.
- It doesn’t matter if we don’t work out.
- It doesn’t matter if we have the odd slip-up at the weekend.
- It doesn’t matter if we don’t do everything perfectly.
And it doesn’t matter if this week we put weight on.
Dr Ailis Brosnan, who specializes in diet philosophy advised that losing weight successfully is not about the ‘all or nothing’ mentality and had this to say ‘…the idea is to make as many healthy choices as you can. Start to see your efforts one decision at a time – if you don’t make a healthy choice for lunch, that’s okay, learn from it, move on and make a healthier choice for dinner.’
Concentrate on keeping going which is far more important than getting everything right.
14. Go CAM (Complimentary Alternative Medicine)
Alternative therapy can be extremely powerful and it can be a huge advantage in your fight for positivity. Practising self-help can mean you have more control over what happens to you, and this brings confidence in tackling situations when they arise.
So be open-minded and up for trying new things because one of them might just be the weapon that works for you.
I am a great believer in hypnosis, as you will see from my earlier posts on losing weight with hypnosis. It is by no means a miracle cure; it just lends a helping hand so I can get over some of the challenges along the way. If you want some more information on hypnosis and my experience with it then head over to Hypnosis – Day One of my Journey.
Everybody I have ever spoken to who practices Yoga swears by it; it is a powerful technique for your mind, body and soul.
Yoga…when you stop living obsessively in your head and start identifying with the voice [in your head], positive change always follows – Jennifer Niles
Jennifer Niles over at Mindbodygreen says this about practising yoga ‘…you begin to realise that life has deeper meaning. You come to understand that destructive habits no longer serve your ultimate goal. This awakening directly affects weight loss because it encourages the elimination of unhealthy habits’.
Yoga transforms from the inside out so it tackles negativity from within and helps to focus your mind on what is more important to you and your well-being.
Hot on the heels of yoga is meditation. A powerful stress reliever; meditation calms the mind and allows better channeling to inner-peace, enabling you to focus on what is truly desired.
Our daily lives are constant triggers for stress and interestingly, EOC Institute explains that stress is one of the reasons our body produces extra cortisol. This chemical makes the body think something is on its way that will affect our food consumption, and the body protects us by storing fat!
By meditating we can help to clear the layers of worry, negativity and fear, which in turn reduces the body’s natural response of producing extra cortisol therefore releasing our fat stores.
Meditation: stress and negativity reliever = fat loss = PERFECT
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
EFT or Tapping is a great exercise to perfect as it’s an in-the-moment-as-you’re-having-it technique. A distraction method that uses pressure points on certain parts of your body, and in turn, changes the intensity of a feeling so you don’t act on it.
EFT was created by Gary Craig and on his retirement, he released EFT into the public domain. Further information can be found on his website at EmoFree.com, with instructions on how to use EFT at How To Do EFT. You can also download a free ebook at The Tapping Solution.
Researching the various areas of complimentary alternative medicine and learning them are further tactics to go into your journal…even more powerful weapons to help in your fight against negativity.
Move on to Part 3: Starting to Falter