When we say the struggle is real, we mean it. Constantly thinking about weight, food, body image, working out, and our bodies leaves us exhausted. Every.Day. While we can sometimes put on our happy mask, fun mask, or 'I don't care' mask, on the inside, we feel sad, hopeless, frustrated, angry at ourselves. How did we get to this point? Why didn't we realize that we were thinner when we were young (but still felt 'fat')? Why can't it be easier? Why can't we forget about it? Why does looking in the mirror every single day fill us with guilt, shame, and anxiety? Why can't we just be different? Friends, you are so not alone in the back and forth struggle and just like you, there are many others who feel the exact same way. If you find yourself caught in this web of negative thoughts, I invite you to adopt a small shift in the way you think to bring about positive and long-lasting behavioral change.
I know some of you might be thinking, how can this be true? There is nothing IN LIFE that is 'one small simple' anything, let alone weight loss. Though there is some truth to this statement, there is one very important shift that you need to be using every day to begin living the life that you deserve because you are a worthy, important, worth it, and loved because you simply EXIST.
The key to long-term successful weight loss (and any behavioral change for that matter!) is MINDSET. Our mindset is how we approach, manage, and act in various situations, including those that relate to losing weight. I invite you to quickly do an evaluation of your mindset. Are you someone who has set goals in the past but didn't meet them? Are you someone who becomes very excited to try a new diet product, trainer, or meal plan thinking this time will be different, only to end up feeling worse than when you started? Do you find yourself on an emotional food roller coaster where you use food to cope with both negative and positive emotions? Do you feel discouraged about your body, food choices, and exercise and just want to give up sometimes? Are you persistent and consistent even when you feel down and discouraged? The way we approach these key aspects of our health and self-care will be the foundation for our future success, losing weight and otherwise.
Now, the first adjustment you need to implement is related to your weight loss mindset. When we are able to set effective short and long term goals, we are able to feel continuously motivated and inspired which can drive us through those moments of self-doubt and defeat. Working through obstacles is PART OF the process, not something that should be avoided. Think about some of your obstacles and triggers for old habits. How can you form an action plan and identify one or two things that you can do or think differently during these tough moments. Being self-aware and monitoring your behaviors will be super helpful as you need this feedback to intervene, but the key will be to evaluate this feedback in a non-judgmental way so you do not get stuck on the guilt or I-am-not-good-enough train.
This actually leads right to the second adjustment that is necessary for long-term weight loss and includes your flexibility mindset. Even if we have the best plans and intentions and organization, there are always going to be things that come up and prevent us from following through on our actions. Being able to quickly adapt and have a 'go with it' mentality will allow you to weave through the ebbs and flows of uncertainty and change. In fact, the one thing we CAN count on is to not expect the expected! Thus, the ability to adapt quickly and get right back up will determine your trajectory for success!
The third adjustment you need to make is to embrace a gratitude mindset. We need to be able to appreciate our bodies for what they can do for us versus being obsessed with how tiny or smaller or different we need them to be. This is often the most challenging mindset to adapt because these mind games just create negative and hurtful distortions, but we need to recognize and care for ourselves even when we feel awful about our lack of progress. One of my favorite sayings that I often share with clients is 'we can't nurture what we don't see' and there is nothing closer to the truth. If we do not treat our body kindly and see the good in it, it will not be possible to nurture it in the way that facilitates confidence, compassion, and long-lasting weight loss.
Any long-term behavioral change, including weight loss, is going to test our limits, challenge our beliefs, make us face our self-doubts, and be an amazing opportunity to live by our resilience and strength. Altering your mindset about this entire process will help you adjust expectations and be able to take setbacks in stride (or at least make them a little less toxic). Now, go make today ridiculously amazing!
Dr. Machin is a Clinical and Sport Psychologist, Wellness Coach, and Professor of Psychology. Her latest program, A Course in Weight Loss, kicks off on October 5th! If you have been frustrated at your efforts in weight loss, emotional eating, and overall health habits, come join us as she teaches you a variety of tools and skills that have been proven to help individuals lose and maintain weight while developing a compassionate and body-resilient perspective of empowerment and self-care. And, if you would like read more about Dr. Machin's top tips for long-term weight loss, please click here! When Dr. Machin is not teaching, writing, cooking, cleaning, talking, hanging with her husband, exercising, or running after her three children, she is enjoying a 5-minute cup of coffee in peace!