When it comes to medical weight loss, you may secretly be your own worst enemy. Before we get started on that, let’s look at the fact that accomplishing any goal, large or small, requires a mind that is clearly focused on the desired end.
What does that mean? It means turning self-talk into a positive advantage and using your rational mind to help fuel and motivate your efforts. After all, the choice is yours: Let your mind sabotage your efforts or let it help inspire better eating habits and encourage healthy weight-loss outcomes.
If you’ve tried losing weight before, and have found it to be an uphill battle in which you lose a few pounds only to gain back several more, then it’s time to break the psychological cycle that may be holding you back from your goal.
The Psychological Cycle of Weight Gain
In a world where thin is in, it’s not unusual for people who are overweight to carry the burden of lower self-esteem. Add to that the social stigma or prejudice that overweight individuals encounter and a psychological cycle for weight gain can be set in motion, or unhealthy eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia) can develop. People, overweight as well as thin, often eat in response to stress, depression, loneliness, and anxiety. This stress-induced or emotional eating can lead to weight gain which in turn leads to lower self-esteem, depression, and anxiety, which leads to more stress-based eating and additional weight gain. It’s easy to see how one can become trapped in a dangerous downward spiral and vicious cycle.
Compounding the problem is the fact that individuals who are overweight have less energy, and therefore find it harder to be active, so the risk of gaining weight again increases. A cycle of inactivity and further weight gain can develop: the less active person gains weight and so becomes less active, thereby gaining more weight and so on. Also, life stresses, which are normally alleviated through exercise, start building up, which triggers more stress-based eating.
Individuals who try to lose weight and fail may feel depressed, frustrated, and even guilty or ashamed, and may rely on comfort foods as a way to feel better. The same is true of those who succeed in losing weight, only to gain it back. Anxiety, depression, and guilt can produce a feeling of hopelessness that hinders efforts to lose weight.
Seven Steps to Breaking the Cycle
- Stop Diet Deprivation. Diets that put severe restrictions on what you can eat often arouse binge eating. While you may hold out for a while, one day you’ll decide depriving yourself is not worth it, or you can’t take it anymore, and you dig into the refrigerator, freezer, or snack cabinet with a vengeance. Allow yourself small indulgences that are satisfying and will help you avoid harmful binging.
- Plan Ahead. What if you should slip? The best way to avoid slipping is through pre-planning. So, if you’re off to a backyard barbeque or family gathering, decide ahead of time what your plan is. Eat something healthy and filling before you go out and then allow yourself a few special treats at the party, but exercise portion control. If you know that Aunt Mary is making your favorite dessert, plan on having a small slice and savor it. Managing your weight and enjoying life should go hand in hand.
- Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals. To avoid the frustration of failing, don’t overstress yourself with unrealistic weight loss goals. You gained weight slowly over time and it will take some time to gradually lose that weight. Slow but sure is the best approach.
- Choose Healthy Outlets for Emotions. Instead of opening the refrigerator when you’re upset, try phoning a friend or taking a walk instead. Discover something that makes you feel calmer or happier – something other than food or alcohol. Do yoga, dance around your living room, meditate, or go out bowling with a friend.
- Stop Harboring Hurts. Work through issues that are upsetting you. Talk to a therapist or even a friend. Don’t let hurts, old wounds, or patterns that reach back into your childhood affect you and your relationship with food.
- Remember Why You’re Dieting. It helps to stop and remember why you’re dieting in the first place. Is it to have more energy, look and feel better, alleviate health problems, or increase your self esteem? Keeping the goal in mind is critical to your weight loss success.
- Use Your Mind to Break the Cycle. The fact is you can do it. It’s all in your mind – the power to lose the weight rests with you. Believe you can succeed and you will succeed. If you want to put an end to the psychological cycle of weight gain, start by turning all of your negative self talk into positive affirmations. That’s the best way to break the cycle.
Instead of saying: “Look at that fat belly. It just won’t go away.” Think positive: “Yes, my belly is fat now, but it won’t always be. I plan to be fit, not fat. I’m heading to the gym after work today.”
Keep your goal in mind at all times. Write down your positive affirmations and put up visual reminders of what you want to attain – that dress you want to buy, that seaside resort you’re longing to visit this year, or even a picture the happy person you want to be again. It’s all within reach if you set your mind to it, keep active, exercise, and prepare healthy menus that you enjoy.
Use these seven steps to create a mental turnaround and break through the psychological barriers that are holding you back. If you do, you’ll have the power to achieve permanent weight loss – something that will truly change your future and your life.
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Find a center near you to schedule a consultation with a CMWL physician.