How many of us haven't yet figured out that broccoli is generally a better choice than a Big Mac? The challenge for most isn't in knowing what we should do to lose weight, but rather in actually doing it. Enjoy these seven strategies that will help you enjoyably do what you already know you should.
1. Focus on the Solution, not the Problem
There is a Huna saying (Huna is the spiritual practice of the traditional Hawaiian culture) that goes "Energy goes where attention flows". In other words, what you think about expands. If you are constantly thinking about what you don't want, you will have more of it. The subconscious mind does not understand a negative command. So if I were to say "don't think of a pink elephant with purple spots on its floppy ears right now" what do you think about? If you tell yourself "don't eat", what do you think you will want to do?
Consider focusing on what you do want instead. For example, "I want to be relaxed around food" or "I want to love to exercise". The energy will happily flow to the solution, and your subconscious mind will begin to design ways to get you what you want.
2. Recognize the Positive Intent
We overeat for a reason, and the reason, believe it or not, isn't self-torture. We all prefer pleasure over pain, and let's face it, you're getting some pleasure out of overeating, or you wouldn't do it. Perhaps it's the distraction, the taste, or the comfort.
Whatever the reason, notice that, in its essence, it's positive. Then begin to design new behaviors and thought patterns that work even better than food. For example, if food is a distraction, what are you distracting yourself from? How could you enjoy that more?
3. Whisper Sweet Things to Yourself
How do you talk to yourself? Would you speak to a friend or a child in this way? If you did, how would it affect them? Just for fun, pretend you are your own best friend, and say the nicest, most supportive things you can imagine to yourself. Switch to "I feel good about myself" or even "I am so silly!" from your top ten self criticisms and watch your sweet words replace your sweet tooth.
4. Focus on Self-Correcting.
No matter what your resolve, no matter how miraculous the diet, you will overeat again. We know this because naturally slender people overeat from time to time. Sometimes they misjudge how filling their food will be, other times they make a conscious choice to do it. But it doesn't matter. They are still naturally slender.
The difference is that the naturally slender self correct. They know how to bring themselves back into balance after over-indulging. So if they dip their chips a few too many times at a cocktail party, they eat less at dinner. If they become upset emotionally, they get the support they need before coping with food or drink.
Shift your focus to how you bring yourself back into balance after overindulging, and on decreasing the time it takes to do so. Whether it's a walk in nature, a workout, or a talk with a friend that brings you back into balance, make self-correcting your new priority.
5. Change Your Definition of Success
If you have set a goal for yourself of reaching a certain weight, it will probably take some time before you reach that goal. And along the way, the scale may not always tell you what you want to hear.
Because it's hard to stay motivated for a long term goal that involves short term "sacrifice", consider changing your goal to something that you can be successful at every day, such as making a healthy choice, or self-correcting.
6. Persistence not Perfection.
We love to strive for perfection, with the idea that in striving we will be our best. Unfortunately, this strategy often backfires when we beat ourselves up for not being good enough, heading straight to the refrigerator for consolation.
Reward yourself instead for your persistent efforts - for your commitment to learning, for self correcting, or for saying sweet things to yourself. Recognize that progress happens in waves, where the troughs are just as important as the crests in moving forward.
7. Create a Learning Mind.
As humans, we love to learn, be it finding the quickest route to work or the easiest way to get the job done. Yet many of us get stuck when it comes to changing our eating patterns. We fail to learn new, better strategies, getting stuck in our old patterns.
Why? Because we ask questions that block our natural learning, like "Why do I keep doing this? "What's wrong with me?" or "I'll never change."
What if we asked ourselves learning questions instead, like "How would I like to be next time?", "What is there to learn from this situation?" or "How can I make this easier?".
Have fun with these strategies, and report back on your success to firstname.lastname@example.org I'd love to hear from you!
Renee Stephens is host of iTunes' top weight loss podcast "Inside Out Weight Loss", with over 2.5 million downloads to date, behavioral weight loss expert, and featured in the upcoming documentary "The Inner Weigh".