The mental side of weight loss is the most important aspect of losing weight. Your mind is what drives all of your decisions and your choices and, if it isn’t in the right place, your choices won’t be either. With that in mind, what are the mental strategies you need to finally lose weight? They may not be what you think.
1. Honesty. It’s amazing how easy it is to lie to ourselves. We lie about eating too much: “Oh, it’s just a few handful of M&Ms…there can’t be that many extra calories, right?” We lie about exercising: “I promise, I’ll workout tomorrow. I know I said that yesterday, but I really mean it this time!” Some people take it even further, avoiding looking at themselves in the mirror, stepping on a scale or acknowledging when they have to buy bigger clothes.
Even keeping a food journal doesn’t always keep us honest. I had one client who, if she ate the way she reported in her diary, wouldn’t have the energy to pick up a glass of water, much less a dumbbell. It turns out that a dinner of wheat crackers, fruit and some string cheese was also supplemented by three beers (“I didn’t really count those as food,”), nachos (“I only had a few!”) and some cookies (“They were on my kid’s plate, so I didn’t count them.”).
Being honest isn’t just about knowing what you eat and how much exercise you’re getting. It also means being honest about whether you’re really ready to make a lifestyle change.
2. Forgiveness. Here’s something most people won’t tell you about losing weight: You will fail sometimes. That doesn’t mean you’ll never lose weight or that you possess a weakness of character that other people don’t have. It means that you’re just like the rest of us – sometimes you’ll make healthy choices and sometimes you won’t.
3. Trust. When you first start a weight loss program, it’s hard to trust yourself. How many times have you said you’ll do your workout only to skip it? How many times have you sworn you wouldn’t have that extra slice of pizza only to give into temptation? Learning how to trust yourself may be one of the hardest parts of losing weight. If you know you’ll sometimes fail, how can you trust yourself?
Trust is not about being perfect or guaranteeing that you’ll always do the right thing. It’s about knowing you’ll stumble, but that you can handle it without giving up. Ask yourself how many times you’ve tried to lose weight. You may feel like you’ve failed at it, but the fact that you keep trying is a sure sign you haven’t given up.
4. Persistence. Here’s something else people don’t always tell you about weight loss: You will probably doubt yourself at some point. It may be because you’re not getting results, or not getting them as quickly as you’d like. It may be because you feel sore, overworked or just overwhelmed by all the decisions you have to make. Whatever the reason, you may start to wonder: Am I doing this right? Is it worth it?