It’s been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but did you know that the way to your stomach is through your mind?
The Sporting Club has just embarked on a 12 week “Weight Loss Challenge” complete with 3 workouts each week, weigh-ins, weekly food reviews, nutritional handouts, recipes, prizes and personal reach outs to insure accountability. Leading the way among similar weight loss programs, there is also going to be a focus on mindset, called a “cognitive component.”
Judy Beck, in her book, “The Beck Diet Solution,” describes this component in detail, and I recommend her book and workbook to those of you who want to go into this in more detail.
What role does the mind play in creating healthy weight and thus overall wellness? Let’s take a look at how the way you think helps you deal with the 5 key food triggers, including:
- Social (buffet chat)
- Environment (food ads)
- Biological (hunger cravings)
- Emotional (anxiety, depression, boredom and happiness)
- Mental (thinking about food)
First, those who are overweight or obese often think differently than others about food and themselves. Here are some thoughts to watch for:
- Do you confuse hunger with a desire to eat?
- Do you have a low tolerance for hunger and cravings?
- Do you like/demand the feeling of “being full”?
- Do you fool yourself about how much you actually eat?
- Do you comfort yourself/your feelings with food?
- Do you feel helpless & hopeless when you gain weight?
- Do you focus on issues of “unfairness”?
- Do you give up regulating your diet and exercise once you begin to lose weight?
To begin with, properly entering the weight/wellness challenge requires that you understand the advantages of doing so:
- I’ll be healthier
- I’ll look better
- I’ll like myself more
- I’ll feel more in control
- My doctor won’t bug me
- I’ll be more comfortable around other people
- The disadvantages?
Those who will be successful in meeting the weight loss challenge will know how to rationally (accurately) respond to their irrational (inaccurate) thoughts about food, dieting and exercise. Here are some examples:
- Yes I know I ate a little while ago, but I’M STARVING…but I’m only having a craving, and that doesn’t mean I HAVE to eat
- I can’t stand feeling hungry, it’s awful…but in truth, it’s only uncomfortable and I can tolerate it and I know it’ll go away
- Oh, it’s only one extra cookie, so what’s the big deal? The big deal is if I have that cookie, I only strengthen the habit of giving in.
Weight loss and wellness requires people to combat the thoughts of “having to”:
- Feel deprived…But I’d rather tolerate deprivation and get healthier
- Tolerate hunger…But I can tolerate a bit of hunger in order to lose weight, get fit and be healthier
- Eat differently than others… But what’s the big deal? It’s worth it to get fitter, healthier and lose weight
- Write down a daily eating plan and not be able to be spontaneous…But I can either NOT write down my plans and be spontaneous, or become healthier…not both
Healthy self-talk sounds like this:
- “DO IT ANYWAY”
- “GIVE MYSELF CREDIT”
- “SAY ‘NO’ TO EXTRA UNPLANNED FOOD”
- “PUT MY HEALTH FIRST”
- “TOLERATE IT”
- “EXERCISE NO MATTER WHAT”
- “I CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS”
- “I’LL CARE LATER”
- “I’D RATHER BE FITTER”
- “OH WELL”
- “DON’T COMFORT MYSELF WITH FOOD”
- “I CAN EITHER EAT EVERYTHING AT THE BUFFET OR GET FIT, BUT NOT BOTH”
Ready to make some important commitments? Here are some that those successful in losing weight and creating wellness make, and stick to:
- I’ll make the following changes at home and work___________
- To make time and energy for staying on track, I’m going to_____________
- The spontaneous & planned exercise I’m going to do___________
- My first weight loss goal is_________
- To learn to figure out when I’m really hungry, I’m going to_________
- When I have a craving, I’m going to__________
- In order to eliminate spontaneous eating, I’m going to________________
It isn’t easy to properly engage your mind to lose weight and become fit. It may mean some or all of the following:
- Consistently make time for exercise and all planned eating
- Plan your eating in writing
- Eat slowly and mindfully
- Monitory everything you eat in writing
- Tolerate hunger
- Avoid or deal with triggers
- Resist cravings
- Recognize normal “fullness”
- Avoid unplanned eating
- Identify and counteract your sabotaging thoughts
- Respond to a sense of unfairness
- Give yourself credit
- Squarely face your mistakes
- Plan to avoid these mistakes in the future
- Get back on track immediately
- Assertively say “no” to food pushers
- Seek out personal support and ask for help whenever and wherever you need it
- Plan for special events and traveling
- Cope with negative and positive emotions without turning to food
- Cope with discouragement
If you do engage your mind, along with diet and exercise, you will no doubt be successful in meeting the weight loss challenge over the next 12 weeks.
Sandra Blackie and I are going to be focusing on the mind and nutrition in a two-session program coming up in February to assure this success. Be sure to watch for the dates and times and drop in for some key tools for your health.
Remember, “nothing but nothing tastes as good…as being fit feels.”