Anyone who has ever reached for chocolate when they are feeling blue knows that there is a definite mind-body connection to making food choices. For most people, eating behaviors are shaped by thoughts and emotions. Your thoughts affect your emotions which in turn affect your body chemistry to create distinct physical responses. So, the question remains, can you change your body by changing your thoughts? The answer is yes! By learning to use the powers of the mind, you can alter your body.
I would rank this as the most important factor in weight loss success. Whether it is physical, emotional, or mental stress, all can negatively affect your health and your weight. High levels of stress raise cortisol levels, which can lead to food cravings, tension, high anxiety, irritability, impatience, etc. All of these can negatively affect your food choices.
Choose your favorite stress-reducing activity and do it regularly. Exercise is one of the most effective stress-reducing activities and increases the release of natural endorphins (“feel-good” hormones). Even taking a brisk walk around the block, climbing the stairs, cleaning, or mowing the lawn are all effective. Other effective stress-reducing activities such as deep breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, and laughter also work.
Weight Loss Affirmations
If hearing the word “affirmations” brings to mind Stuart Smalley’s Saturday Night Live quote “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me!”, relax. I’m referring to customized phrases that help to neutralize the self-sabotaging, negative beliefs.
YOU are the only one in charge of your beliefs. Positive thinking phrases either said aloud or thought silently on a daily basis can help to shape your inner thoughts. So, how do you stop a certain repetitive thought pattern that isn’t supportive of your goals and switch to positive phrases? It’s really very easy. When you have a negative self-limiting thought, turn it around and use a very specific positive phrase instead.
Negative Self-Talk and Ways to Turn These Around
Here are some examples of negative self-talk we hear in our program daily and ways to turn these around.
“I don’t have time to exercise, and when I get home, I am too tired.”
“I always make time to exercise; it energizes me whenever I’m tired.”
“I have a slow metabolism, and it’s hard for me to lose weight.”
“I eat frequent small meals and snacks, take my vitamins as directed, and get regular exercise to keep my metabolism up so that I can lose weight easily.”
“No matter what weight loss program I try, I always end up gaining the weight back.”
“I plan to incorporate the changes I’ve made to my diet while losing weight into lifestyle changes so that I can maintain my ideal weight.
“I have a hard time sticking to a diet – I seem to always give into cravings for the wrong foods.”
“I often crave fresh, wholesome foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts. They make me feel good.”
If you practice these techniques on a daily basis, you’ll begin to believe these positive statements and turn them into reality.
Mindfulness simply means being aware and present moment-by-moment and really paying attention to what is happening, both inside and outside of you. By doing this, we recreate our relationship with food to avoid a cycle of binging or overeating. Mindful eating stems from Buddhist teachings and has made its way into main stream society.
In fact, one could make the case that mindless eating is probably one of the primary reasons that the obesity rate is at an all time high in the United States (35.7 %!). We often get so caught up in our activities, thoughts and self-talk (sound familiar?) that we don’t make conscious decisions about what and how much to eat. Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating by eating slowly and savoring every morsel of food. This means being fully aware of the appearance, aroma, flavor, and texture of each bite. Notice what it feels like when you’re half full, then 3/4 full. Set your utensil down between bites. Most importantly, do nothing else during a meal that will distract you. Don’t watch TV, surf the internet, talk on the phone, etc. Recognize the urges that you have to engage in other activities while eating. All of these changes take practice. Start by eating mindfully for one meal each day.
We Can Help You Change Your Attitudes and Beliefs About Food
Medi-Weightloss Clinics® is blazing the trail with a unique approach to weight loss which involves not only the physical components of a weight loss program, but also utilizes behavior modification to complement the program and help change attitudes and beliefs surrounding food. Through a medically-supervised program, Medi-Weightloss Clinics® combine FDA-approved appetite suppressants, dietary supplements, vitamin and mineral based injections, and vitamins with nutritionally guided meal planning and exercise counseling.
At the core of the program is a diet comprised of lean protein, low carbohydrates, low fats, and low glycemic index fruits and vegetables. Once the patient reaches his or her weight loss goal, they move into the Short-Term Maintenance phase. In this phase, your daily calorie and energy expenditures are increased to maintain your new weight. The final phase, called the Wellness phase, truly demonstrates the long-term vision of Medi-Weightloss Clinics®.
Amy Shideler, MS, RD