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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Think Yourself to a Healthy Lifestyle

My friend, Candi, is currently a Pilates instructor and used to come to my house to teach me Pilates.  She would tell me with her heavy southern accent that I needed to "Luv ma-saylf."  (That's the end of my accent take it from here.) She would tell me things like "If you tell yourself that you are fat, you will be fat." or "If you tell your body that you will gain weight from that cookie, you WILL!"  She would often encourage me to look at myself every day and tell myself how beautiful, loving, genuine, honest, and thin I was. Something along these lines...

A common response to those who tell you to think more positively is often: "I feel what I feel. I can't help how I feel." Positive thinking is only effective if it is in alignment with your true feelings. If you sincerely feel down about your body weight, telling yourself that everything is okay will often create internal discord.

I used to think that Candi was off her rocker! See, the problem was that I never BELIEVED what I was saying. I felt like I was lying every time I did something like that. Now, I am SMAAART, and KIIIIND, and I'm sure that I am IMPORTANT, but NEVER, NOT ONCE did I believe that I was THIN or that the cookie would NOT make me fat if I ate it.

When you hold a negative image of yourself, you rob yourself of much-needed energy. When feeling powerless, depressed or unmotivated, it's easy to skip your daily workout or eat a bag of potato chips to feel better. However, tuning into how you feel, acknowledging those feelings and transforming those thoughts into something more positive can actually help you to achieve your weight loss goals faster.

A negative attitude can set processes in motion that makes losing weight difficult, if not impossible. Berating yourself every time you eat the wrong foods, constantly focusing on what you cannot eat and approaching your exercise regimen with dread are all ways that negative thought patterns can sabotage your weight loss efforts.


Recently, I have had a change of heart. I have come to learn that what we THINK really does matter. I noticed that when I exercise or eat well for the day, I very often FEEL thinner. I'm not. But I FEEL that way. This leads to me THINKING that I am healthier, thinner, and therefore....happier. The opposite happens when I don't do those things. I liken this to sin. Ok, it might not be as serious as sinning, but it's the same concept. When we choose to do good, we feel like we are good people, and we feel- GOOD! When we choose to do bad, we feel like we are bad people and we feel bad.

The perfect example of this was given to me yesterday by minion #2 when he broke a vase that I had sitting on the coffee table. I got after him for it and made him help me clean up the mess. Afterwards he sat on the couch and said "I guess I just deserve to DIE!" (Believe it or not, he actually gets THIS dramatic flair from his dad.) He had felt like he wasn't a good person. I explained to him that we all do things wrong, but it doesn't make us bad people. Bad people are bad most of the time. Good people are good most of the time! Suddenly, he felt like he was good again and continued on about his day with a smile on his face. I'm happy to report that no deaths occurred.

Positive thoughts are empowering. In clinical studies where patients are given placebos, they often respond to them positively due to the belief that they are getting some form of medicine. Strongly indicating that mental state plays a critical role in how personal health improves, or declines. In essence, it behooves us to use the placebo effect on ourselves with our health.

When we were sick, my mom used to tell us that most of it was in our minds. We had told ourselves that we were TOO sick to go to school, or work. I particularly would let my nausea get to me so much that I would vomit over and over again...even though I probably could have talked myself down and relaxed enough to avoid it. On the opposite side, I have rarely seen my mother skip work because she "wasn't feeling well." She pretty much had to be VERY sick to miss work. The same idea holds true to our health efforts. We need to go easy on ourselves. We need to understand that we are all good people, doing good things, and that we genuinely want to take care of our bodies, therefore doing so. 


What we think about ourselves changes how we act. I'd be willing to bet that we all could trace our "bad days" to "bad emotions" as well. 

I literally used to think that if I ate ONE piece of bread, I would gain a full pound on the scale the next day. You know what? I was right! Anytime that I ate bread, I would check the scale, and sure enough, there was that pound! This only reinforced the idea in my head. Suddenly, I had PROOF! My mind had sent that message to the rest of my body and my body obeyed. After all, isn't that how our bodies work? Our brains tell our bodies when to move, breathe, speak, etc. We can even MAKE ourselves physically ill! (A trick I learned in Kindergarten.) Our minds are very powerful!

The fact is, that eating that ONE piece of bread should in NO WAY make me gain a pound! That is ridiculous to think! The piece doesn't WEIGH a pound and my body won't even hold on to all of it! You know what? I have had a different point of view for some time now, but this idea has always been "on my mind." Now, when I eat the piece of bread, I see it as a nutritious whole grain that will give my body nutrients. I don't eat A TON, just a serving or so a day because that is what I believe to be healthy. However, when I stepped on that scale the next day, NO POUND WAS GAINED! HA! I have long since abandoned the idea of weighing myself every day or even week. But deep down, I know that my mental attitude has a HUGE effect on my health.


1. Have Patience: One major mental block to weight loss is wanting too much, too fast. Blame it on our instant-gratification society, with its instant messaging, PDAs, and digital cameras: Weight loss is too slow to satisfy most dieters. 
Positive Thinking and Healing – The Perfect Marriage

"Losers want immediate results. … Even though it took them years to gain weight, once they decide to lose weight, they have no patience with the recommended 1-2 pounds per week," says Cynthia Sass, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

But you'll get the best results when you lose weight slowly. Sass reminds her clients that when they lose weight too quickly, they're often losing usually water or lean tissue, not fat.

"When you lose lean tissue, metabolism slows down, making it even harder to lose weight," she adds.

2. Picture Yourself Healthier: Visualize your future self, six months to a year down the road, and think of  ow good you'll look and feel without the extra pounds and emotional baggage. Ask yourself what you did back then that you could incorporate into your lifestyle today.

3. Get Support: You have heard me say over and over again how much T.H.R. has helped me in my journey. I get emails every so often of others that share their journey with me. I hope that this blog and Facebook page help them in return. We all need support, especially during the tough times. Find a friend, family member or support group you can connect with on a regular basis. Remember in my last post, the impact that having positive support had on me during my trip to Utah? Studies show people who are connected with others, whether it's in person or online, do better than dieters who try to go it alone.

4. Ditch those "Tricksy little habitses!" (That's HABITS for those that don't get my spin LOTR): Old habits die hard! It's hard to break the cycle, especially if it is a mental one. The main problem is that our thoughts become HABITS! We habitually THINK the same way every day. Positive people are positive, cynical people are cynical, and negative people are well, you get the picture.

It is important to then make a conscious effort to transform your thoughts. It may be true that you often cannot overcome your food cravings or stick to your diet. However, if there are times when you are able to stand strong, then focus on those moments and celebrate the triumphs. Maybe you had less or no soda today and said no to a second slice of pizza. Giving attention to the positive things will help to create greater self esteem and motivation to continue with your healthy lifestyle efforts.

5. Keep a record: The trick is to tap into those feelings that ring true for you. For example, keep a daily journal in which you write down your negative thoughts and feelings. That way, you recognize WHAT you need to change. Plus, If you feel you are lacking in willpower or just can't overcome your cravings, you can write those thoughts down. When you acknowledge the darker emotions, they often tend to have less power over you. I have personally found that keeping a record of my journey helps me to remember how far I have come and what it took to get there. That motivates me to stay true to the plan.

Look, we have enough things in this world telling us that we are too fat, thin, lazy, ugly, depressed, whatever. WE don't need to feed that fire ourselves.  Believe me, there are PLENTY of other people willing to do it for you.  Instead, try keeping your thoughts positive.  Tell yourself how beautiful, healthy, happy and giving you are.  You will really be surprised at the results!  I was. 

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