Nirmala, a 33-year-old mother of two, has been on her share of diets over the years. From Weight Watchers to the Zone to Sugar Busters, she feels as if she has tried them all. While she has had moderate success in losing weight from time to time, she has never found a long-term weight loss solution. Her weight is a point of contention in her marriage; her husband—who also happens to be obese—wishes she were thin, but says he loves her anyway. The two have been separated a number of times, and even filed for divorce once. The stress has caused Nirmala to begin binge eating again.
There is hope for Nirmala and others like her who feel as if they’re trapped on the diet carousel. The key to long-term weight loss success may not be the body, but the mind. Research indicates that those who have a positive outlook on life are more likely to lose weight—and stay thin. But how can you have a positive outlook when you’ve been burned so many times before? Is it possible to “will your way” to losing weight?
One technique that has been proven effective in sports training is something called visualization. For instance, a baseball player might visualize his bat connecting with a ball, leading to a homerun. A soccer player might visualize kicking the winning goal in a soccer match. And a golfer might visualize sinking the winning putt in the Masters Tournament.
The same technique can be used by dieters. Visualize yourself as thin. Picture yourself in that dress that is now two sizes too small. Imagine stepping onto the scale and being pleased with the result. Visualize yourself saying “no” to that piece of chocolate cake. These mind exercises can help to spur you onto weight loss.
When people learn they are suffering from cancer, they are encouraged to imagine their cancer cells being destroyed by healthy cells. You can follow the same technique in order to lose weight. That means imagining your fat cells being destroyed by thin cells. Through such a method, you can “think your way” to a healthy weight.
In addition, it is critically important that you maintain a positive attitude. Be forgiving of yourself. If you veer off your diet plan, simply get back on course with your next meal. Don’t spend precious time “beating yourself up” over your failures. Instead, celebrate your successes—in a non-fattening way. For instance, when you reach a milestone—say you’ve lost ten pounds—reward yourself with a trip to an art museum or to your favorite coffee shop (but skip the cream and sugar). Marking milestones will give you a sense of accomplishment, a sense that you are triumphing over food.
Another helpful technique can be prayer or meditation. Taking stock of your life and handing your weight loss problems over to a higher power can be cathartic and may give you a sense of peace about your weight difficulties. It has been said that a clear head leads to a healthy body. Try praying or meditating ten minutes at the start of your day. Chances are you will feel refreshed and ready to tackle the weight challenges that come your way.
Yet another technique you might consider is role-playing. Grab your spouse or a friend and ask him or her to act out a situation in which you might be tempted to overeat. You’ll be forced to come up with strategies to fight temptation. This rehearsal could prove to be quite helpful when a real-life diet dilemma comes your way. If role-playing works for job interviews, it should be beneficial for your weight as well.
Mind over matter is not just a clever saying. It can actually be the solution to your weight loss problems. By using your brain power, you can develop the techniques needed to make healthy food choices. When your mind and your body are both healthy, you have the best of both worlds.