Ok, you decide you want to lose weight. Usually the first few days are ok. People will stick to their “plan.” As time goes on, you slowly but surely start heading back to your old habits. You know you really want to lose weight so why can’t you be successful? Losing weight is a full-time endeavor, particularly at the beginning. You need to think of it as a job. The first thing you must realize is this has to be a lifetime commitment. Looking at it any other way will breed failure. Secondly, it will take work (after all, it’s a job), discipline and willpower – particularly in the beginning. As with any new job, the start-up is usually the most difficult. After you get training and experience, you generally feel more comfortable and confident with what you are doing. Thirdly, realize you must incorporate three components into your plan – nutrition education, exercise, and behavior modification. These are the ingredients necessary to promote the best chance of success. The next strategy which I think is super important is to surround yourself with reminders, pictures, sayings, recipes, magazines, videos, anything which will help implant the idea in your brain this is what you really want. If you spend most of your time, at least initially, thinking about losing weight, why it’s important to you, how your going to do it, healthy foods you like – those thoughts will start replacing the ones that sabotage many weight loss efforts. Below is a list of ideas to help “train your brain” into acting out behaviors that will promote a healthy lifestyle!
- Write down a couple of reasons why you want to lose weight. Be honest and make your words powerful. Put them next to your bed, as a screen saver on your cell phone, on the bathroom mirror, a sticky note in your car, on your desk at work, in your wallet – any place you will see them as many times a day as possible. You can also use a picture (be it of yourself of something else that will motivate you) and look at this as well.
- Subscribe to a magazine (Weight Watchers, Fitness, etc.) – Read them and remind yourself of your goals.
- Subscribe to nutrition blogs and have them sent to you via e-mail. There are so many out there. Find someone you like and keep up with their blogs.
- Surround yourself with nutritious foods. Stock your pantry and refrigerator with healthy food choices that you like. If you really don’t like celery, don’t get it and think you will eat it. You won’t. But maybe you like baby carrots and humus. On the other hand, don’t buy potato chips and think you will only eat a few. If it’s a food you love, they will just be a constant temptation. Maybe you will realize air-popped popcorn is just as satisfying.
- Start a library of recipes that you like that are weight management friendly. Replace some of the old high fat, high calorie recipes with better ones. I guarantee they are out there and there are ones you will like just as much. If there is a recipe you just can’t throw out, save it for special occasions.
- Write down all the health benefits of working out and how great you feel after doing it. Be specific. Read this on those days when your tempted to skip. I personally have NEVER said to myself after a workout, “I wish I hadn’t done that.”
- Find a buddy to do this with – someone you can work out with, talk to, and use as support. This is invaluable in helping you stick to your plan.
You get the idea. If you start surrounding yourself with things that promote your weight loss or healthier lifestyle goals they start to become YOU. For example, your old automatic thought or behavior may be every morning before work you stop for a donut and coffee. You’ve been doing this for years and your brain is kind of “programmed” to have this thought which leads to the behavior. When you begin teaching your brain new things, eventually your automatic thought will be different and maybe your new behavior will be having a yogurt parfait and coffee in the morning. You will actually begin to look forward to doing that.
I know I geared this towards adults but these same concepts apply to children and adolescents. It can be done. You can change the way you think and behave. I hope you are up for the “job” and able to fulfill the position description. It will change your life.
“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”