BEHAVIORAL STRATEGIES FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Weight loss involves changes in diet and physical activity, and people tend to focus on that. But to achieve long- term success, it’s important to change your behaviors in those areas. And that can be very challenging. Habits are difficult to break, and it’s challenging to make new ones. But that’s what’s really important to do in long-term weight management. So, this guide will teach you how to make changes stick.
MAKING CHANGES AND MAKING THEM STICK
One of the starting points for any behavior change—whether it’s quitting smoking or changing eating habits—is to identify your triggers and high-risk situations, or situations that are going to be difficult for you to be healthy in. If you can identify those problems ahead of time, then you can generate solutions in advance.
When analyzing behaviors that people are trying to change, certain categories of triggers tend to emerge.
› Social. Some people tend to eat pretty healthily when they are by themselves but tend to overeat when around family or coworkers. Other people behave in the opposite way. Sometimes there is social pressure to eat; other times, there is an internal dialogue that puts pressure on you.
› Physical. The main physical trigger is hunger. Managing hunger is part of a successful weight-management plan. Pain is another common physical trigger. For example, if you have chronic back pain, eating can be seen as a source of comfort or distraction from the pain.
› Emotional. Some people turn to food for comfort and stress relief. If you’re a stress eater and you have an important deadline coming up, realize that you’re going to have to put extra effort into eating healthy.
› Environmental. You might be out shopping and smell food from a nearby bakery, or you go get a cup of coffee in the break room and there’s a vending machine with all kinds of foods.
› Thoughts. Sometimes we have thoughts that can get us into trouble in terms of our eating behaviors. It’s your birthday, so you think that you should be able to eat whatever you want.
Identify your main triggers and plan most carefully for those situations. Once you have identified your personal triggers, there are a few strategies that can be used to overcome them. You can avoid some triggers entirely. For example, if you tend to make poor choices whenever you’re at a fast-food establishment, maybe avoid eating in fast-food restaurants. But you can’t avoid all of your triggers, so you have to come up with solutions for these. In a social eating situation, maybe your solution is to bring a healthy food so that you make a commitment to eating something healthy ahead of time.
Social support is really important for weight management. There are two kinds of support: emotional and practical. In terms of weight management, sometimes you need practical support: You need someone to say, “Let’s go for a walk when we both get home from work.” Other times, you need emotional support: You just want to vent about how difficult it is to be tracking your food and planning physical activity. Think about what kind of support you need and who in your life could help support you. The Best Weight Loss Diet program places a strong emphasis on tracking your food and activity.
Where Can You Go for Help in Changing Behaviors?
Ideally, this course is one step in the right direction. The Best Weight Loss Diet is also offered in an online program. For people who want to have an immersive experience, there are many onsite weight-loss programs around the United States, including The Best Weight Loss Diet Experience within The Best Weight Loss Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minnesota.
In many onsite programs, people eat better, are more active, and temporarily change their behaviors. The challenge is sustaining behavior change—and weight loss—after returning home. In the Healthy Living Program, The Best Weight loss guide helps people deal with this in at least three ways: by helping people design their own individualized plan, by showing (not just telling) people what to do, and by using wellness coaches who work with people onsite and then stay in touch with them for a year after the program to help facilitate ongoing and sustainable behavior changes.
Tracking is a very powerful tool for helping you lose weight and keep it off. Unless we’re writing down what we’re eating, we’re not really aware of what we’re eating.
A big topic in behavioral psychology for weight management is mindful eating, which is simply being aware of what we’re eating. Making a food record not only provides a written record of what you are eating, but it also reminds you to slow down when you’re eating and think about the content of the food instead. The act of writing down can motivate you and help you set goals.
We’re all programmed to pay attention to threats. With a technique called gratitude journaling, each day we write down the things that are positive in our life, and we tend to be more grateful and happier, sleep better, and eat healthier.
HOW TO CHANGE BEHAVIOR
Here’s a general outline of some ways you can make behavior changes:
› Write down the behaviors that you’d like to change. This creates an objective record that can help remind you and keep you accountable.
› Once you have a list of behaviors to change, don’t try to tackle them all at once. Try an easier one first. And don’t get discouraged if you’re not successful every time you try. With certain behaviors, you may have to try multiple times.
› After you’ve identified a behavior you’d like to change from your list, think about what drives that behavior. What benefit do you get out of it? Why do you do that behavior?
› After you’ve identified a behavior and thought about the reasons you do it, come up with a few different strategies to change that behavior. For example, let’s say you tend to overeat because of stress. Are there other ways of dealing with stress?
› Once you’ve identified some strategies, come up with a specific plan. The more specific you can be, the greater the chance your strategy will work. But even with a specific plan, keep in mind that things aren’t always going to go perfectly.
› If you have been successful, consider what you’ll need to sustain that behavior change over time. This is vitally important if you want to be able to change a behavior to help you lose weight and keep it off.
After doing this with one behavior, you can go back and try this process with another behavior.
Having the Right Attitude
Many behavioral changes involve having the right attitude toward new behaviors.
- Acknowledge your successes, big and small. Your plan is not going to be perfect, and you may have to try different things and see what sticks and what works. Some days are tougher than others, and you may be off track for a little or eat something that you normally wouldn’t. Those things need to be expected, and if a lapse happens, that’s okay.
- Try to stick to a plan. You can outline the strategies ahead of time and have a plan that you follow; then, slowly, habits will develop over time.
- Keep the big picture in mind. Don’t focus on short-term changes that may not last. It takes time to make changes. Be gentle on yourself as you move forward.
You can apply these ideas to behavior change regardless of the details. These tips should help you keep your perspective as you decide what changes you want to make and what goals you want to set to achieve them.
DEALING WITH STRESS
Stress is an obstacle that comes up with a large number of people. If stress is an issue and you’ve identified behaviors you want to change, try to identify specific stressors that you may have. Then, try to look at the stressor in perspective. How big is this stress? Will it matter five years from now? Is this something that’s stressful enough that it’s going to change your life? And it may be—but sometimes we get stressed out over things that aren’t as big as they seem to be at the time.
There are two types of stress: internal and external. External stress is objective. It’s the situations that happen to you, such as major life changes and unpredictable events. But many times it’s the internal stress—the subjective stories that we tell ourselves—that may cause us to blow external stress out of proportion and not deal with it effectively. We may not be able to change external stress, but we can change the way we internally react to external stress.
It’s good to have a variety of stress-busting techniques in your pocket. Here are a number of recommended techniques:
› Prioritize, plan, and pace your activities. Don’t try to pack in a lot in a little amount of time.
› Get enough sleep to help clear your mind and get you ready for the day.
› Get plenty of exercise. During physical activity, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals produced in the body that help alleviate stress and anxiety.
› Take stretch breaks throughout the day.
› Organize your work spaces so you know where things are.
› Learn to delegate responsibility.
› Don’t feel guilty if you’re not productive every minute of every day. Take time to relax.
› Spend time with people who have a positive outlook and sense of humor. Positive vibes rub off!
› Socialize and spend time with others you enjoy.
› Do something good just for yourself or for somebody else— something that doesn’t involve food.
› Take a day off with no set plans.
Planning can make a big difference in successful behavior change. It’s very easy to fall off track if you don’t have a plan for your day. For example, if you’re traveling and all of a sudden you’re hungry and in an airport, and you look around and fast food is the only option, it can be difficult not to deviate from your dietary targets. If you plan ahead for that situation, you can make this a more successful experience. For example, taking some healthy snacks with you can help prevent having to eat only whatever is around.
Another area that requires strategies for behavior change is grocery shopping. This can be a big issue in weight loss. You don’t want to shop when you’re hungry, for example. When you go to the grocery store, remind yourself that if it’s in the cart, it’ll be in the house, and if it’s in the house, it’ll be in your mouth.
This is related to the issue of willpower. Many people say that they don’t have enough willpower, but that’s not really true. We all have willpower. It’s just that with food, we have to eat, and sometimes we don’t have the willpower that we want at the time when we want it. But there are things that can enhance our willpower to help us make behavior changes, and there are things that can deplete our willpower.
Getting enough sleep, staying physically active, and eating regular meals so you have enough food to keep you comfortable can enhance your willpower. Other things can deplete your willpower. Alcohol and stress are two examples. Emotional reactions and having to make difficult decisions can also deplete your willpower. They can put you in a position where you may not make the best choice.
The key to overcoming these challenges to willpower is having a plan. No matter how careful you are, you will be faced with temptations and other drains on your willpower every once in a while. Your plan should be to incorporate strategies for dealing with them, such as deciding ahead of time what you are going to do, avoiding temptation entirely, redirecting yourself elsewhere, or fighting it by just saying no.
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES TO WEIGHT LOSS
Here are some strategies to try if it’s difficult for you to get your family on board with the healthy-eating changes you’re trying to make:
› Try offering a family favorite dish that’s prepared using a different cooking method. For example, instead of frying chicken breasts, bake or grill them.
› Try to involve your family in your meal planning. Ask family members what they’d like to try that’s different and healthy. If they can choose, they might be more willing to experiment.
› Keep more fruits and vegetables in the house, and keep fruit in a location where it’s visible, such as a fruit bowl.
If you need to get your family on board with your new healthy- eating plan, take it slow. Make a few small changes at a time. Eventually, these small changes add up, they’ll get on board, and soon you’ll all be following a healthier eating plan.
If you have a whole family to feed and you’re on a tight budget, then maybe cost is an obstacle for you. Although fresh produce and fish can be expensive, you may find that your overall grocery bill on The Best Weight Loss Diet is lower because you’re eating less of other foods, such as meat, chips, cookies, and ice cream. Processed foods can be costly. Plus, you may find that you’re eating more meals at home and fewer in restaurants—this, too, can save money.
Here are a few more ideas to help keep your healthy-eating plan budget-friendly.
› The secret to eating healthy on a budget is smart planning. When you’re making your weekly meal plan, check your options at the grocery store and watch for specials. Food co-ops are often good at offering foods in bulk.
› In the summer, visit a farmers market if you have one nearby. You can usually pick up the freshest produce at the lowest prices that way. And if you have the space, consider growing some of your own produce. If you don’t have room for a whole garden, you can grow items such as tomatoes and peppers in outdoor pots.
› It’s okay to eat simple meals sometimes. A bowl of soup and a few pieces of fruit doesn’t cost much and fills you up.
STRUGGLES OF EATING OUT
Another challenge that we all deal with is eating out. It’s unrealistic to say that you should never eat out, but we would all benefit if we didn’t eat out as much as we do. Because it probably can’t be avoided, here are some tips to better deal with eating out:
› Keep your plan in mind and plan ahead. Think about the menu before you get to the restaurant. Appetizers can add a lot of extra calories.
› Be careful about breads. Sometimes the bread basket will come out before anything else. One way around this is to ask your server to hold off on the bread.
› If you’re eating an entrée, you don’t want to sacrifice taste, but there are foods on almost every menu that will satisfy your tastes as well as your health and diet needs.
› Beware of salads. Sometimes salads have high-calorie dressings or high-calorie items in them. When you’re considering a salad, choose one with a good base of greens or other vegetables.
› Be careful with salad dressings; some of them are high in calories. You can get them on the side. Sometimes a low-fat dressing may have sugar and other less-healthy ingredients added. A small amount of olive oil and vinegar may be your best bet.
› Be careful about other things that are added to salads. Grilled salmon, for example, would be a good choice, but not something that’s fried or high in calories. Also, although you don’t need to limit the portion sizes of the lettuce and vegetables on the salad, keep an eye on the portion size of foods from other food groups.
Beverages may be a source of hidden extra calories. Instead of a sweetened soda or soft drink, try water or seltzer with a slice of lemon, low-fat or skim milk, or unsweetened tea or coffee. With coffee, be careful about what you put in it. While mixed alcoholic drinks often have a lot of added sugar and calories on top of the alcohol, wine or light beer can be a leaner choice, as long as you don’t overdo it.
DID YOU KNOW? An average meal at a chain restaurant contains approximately 1,300 calories. If your daily calorie goal is 1,200 calories, one meal at a chain restaurant can provide more calories than you should consume for an entire day.
[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]Taming Your Sweet Tooth
Some people just can’t resist certain foods, such as chocolate and candy. The trick is not to resist sweets, but to fit occasional sweets or junk food into your overall eating plan without destroying your goals. Give yourself permission to eat these foods on occasion and in moderation. If you try to avoid these foods completely, you’ll feel deprived when you can’t have them, which leads to disillusionment and to binge eating. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Plan ahead for the events occurring during the upcoming week that put you around sweets and junk food. In appropriate situations, enjoy some of your favorite foods in moderate portions.
- Know that once you’ve sampled a favorite food, you may crave more, so determine in advance how much you’ll eat and stick to that portion. If you eat healthy foods before dessert arrives, when it comes time to enjoy a favorite sweet or junk food, you won’t be as hungry and will eat less.
- Don’t keep high-calorie foods, junk foods, or “problem” foods at home. If you get an urge to eat such foods, but you have to go out and buy them first, the urge might pass. If you do buy chocolate or junk food, buy it in small amounts, such as single servings.[/box]
You can even make smart choices about dessert—if you still have some sweets left in your diet plan for the day. First, be sure to finish your main meal before ordering dessert. By the time you’re done, you may not even want dessert. If you do order dessert, consider splitting it with one of your companions, and choose a lighter option.
Some restaurants provide customers with calorie information for all of its menu items. So take advantage of that information if available. The next time you stop at a fast food restaurant, pay attention to the calorie listings. Taking a few minutes to compare the items on the menu can really pay off.
When you’re at a fast-food or fast-casual restaurant, try these tips:
› Look for the “light” or “healthy” section of the menu. A lot of places have one now, and you’re more likely to find lower- calorie choices there, including fruits and vegetables.
› Don’t super-size your meal. Avoid oversized items. They can be nearly double the calories of a small order.
› Go for grilled options, rather than breaded or fried. For example, a grilled chicken sandwich can have one-third fewer calories than a crispy chicken sandwich.
› And as at a sit-down restaurant, ask for substitutions. If ordering a combination meal, for example. Ask if you can substitute a side salad for the French fries. If not, avoid combo meals and order the items separately.
When eating out, trying different ethnic cuisines can provide taste yet be healthy and low in calories. Depending on the choices you make, some ethnic cuisines can offer wonderful flavor and taste, but not a lot of calories.
Here are a few tips that can help you enjoy Italian food and stick with your healthy-eating goals:
› Go for tomato-based sauces. Avoid dishes with creamy sauces, such as Alfredo. Opt for marinara, which is mostly tomatoes with garlic and onions; Marsala, which is based in wine; or cacciatore, which is a dish cooked with tomatoes, herbs, and sometimes wine.
› Limit the cheese. A little cheese adds flavor and texture to your meal, but too much will load up your plate with unwanted calories.
› Stay away from high-fat meats, such as sausage.
› Try to avoid stuffed pasta. It’s usually packed with cheese or fatty meat. › Choose vegetable-based soups, such as minestrone.
Here are ways to enjoy Mexican food while still sticking to your plan:
› Skip the tortilla chips. About 20 chips and 2 tablespoons of salsa contain up to 300 calories.
› Steer clear of fried entrées.
› Choose tacos. Tacos are a smart choice because the shells are often smaller than other non-fried Mexican entrées.
› Don’t clean your plate. Entrées at Mexican restaurants are often served on oversized plates with rice and beans. One cup of rice and half a cup of refried beans can add nearly 400 calories to your meal. If you’re worried about waste, split your entrée with a friend or take half of your dish home.
Here are some tips that are helpful when eating Chinese food:
› Opt for stir-fry, especially stir-fried dishes with lots of vegetables.
› If you order meat, choose meat that’s not breaded.
› Ask to have your dish prepared with little or no oil, and limit yourself to one portion—an amount that fits easily on a 10-inch plate.
› When given the option, select steamed rice instead of fried. Brown rice is even better, if it’s available.
› Avoid fried appetizers.
If you’re going to a new place, look at the menu online to get an idea of what you’re going to order ahead of time and look for the healthier items. Most restaurants will make modifications for you. If there’s something that you don’t like on the menu that’s higher in calories or that you want to modify somehow, don’t be afraid to ask them to make changes.
OBSTACLES TO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Most people don’t have extra time to exercise. Much of the time, it’s a matter of priorities rather than time. Realize that exercise is one of the most important things you can work into your day for your health.
Even if you don’t like to exercise, you can work physical activity into your daily schedule. You can take a walk at different times. You can take the stairs during your normal day instead of taking the elevator. Take activity breaks if you have a desk job. Have a walking meeting with a colleague.
DID YOU KNOW? If you sit during a 30-minute meeting, you’ll burn around 75 calories. However, if you walk briskly during your meeting at 3.5 miles per hour, you’ll burn about 250 calories.
Try looking for hidden time sinks in your schedule. For example, the average American watches more than four hours of television each day and more than 10 hours of total screen time daily.
There are some times when you might not feel motivated to exercise. In those situations, try telling yourself that you’ll do it for just five minutes. Many times, if you do it for five minutes, once you make that initial effort, it’s easier to continue for a longer period of time. Don’t think about how you’re feeling before you exercise, but how you’ll feel afterward. Most people feel more relaxed, and they’re glad they did it.
If you can’t find a solid window of at least 30 minutes during your day to exercise, look for several 10-minute windows. You may say that you don’t exercise because you’re too tired to exercise. But that may be because you’re not exercising enough. Many people find that they’re less tired once they’re involved with a regular exercise program because regular physical activity gives you more energy and because fatigue is more often mental than it is physical. If you’re fatigued due to stress, exercise is a great stress reliever.
Here are several other tips that can help you overcome this obstacle:
› If you are tired, start short and slow. Begin with just five to 10 minutes of activity. Keep in mind that a little activity is better than none. And once you start, you might keep going longer.
› Exercise in the morning. This may give you more energy throughout the day.
› When you get home from work, don’t sit down to watch television or use the computer. Instead, put on your walking shoes as soon as you arrive home and go for a walk.
› Write down what motivates you to lose weight and post the list somewhere that you see regularly.
HANDLING LAPSES AND KEEPING WEIGHT OFF
In weight management, nobody’s going to achieve perfection. Lapses are going to happen. We just don’t want a lapse—a temporary setback—to turn into a relapse—when you throw in the towel. Things aren’t going to be great all the time, but if you deal with that and stick with your program, you won’t let a lapse turn into a relapse.
OVERCOMING LAPSES AND PREVENTING RELAPSES
A lapse is going to happen sooner or later. Let’s say that you went out to eat and blew most of your entire day’s worth of servings in one meal and had dessert on top of it. Here are several ways you can prevent this lapse from turning into a relapse:
› Don’t let negative thoughts take over. Remember that you’re not perfect. Be kind to yourself and start anew.
› Identify the problem, and then create a list of possible solutions. From that list, choose a solution to try. If it works, it may help prevent another lapse. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
› Enlist support. Talk to family, friends, or a health-care professional. They’ll usually understand more than you anticipate.
› Stay active, Exercise can help you work out your frustrations and help you feel better.
› Recommit to your initial goals. Review your goals and make sure that they’re still realistic and what you want to accomplish. You could even consider repeating Lose It! to get back on track in a big way.
Lapses sometimes involve a chain of events. For example, let’s say that something stressful happened at work. Then, you got home late from work. You feel stressed out, it’s late, and you revert back to eating large amounts of comfort food. The next day you feel guilty, and you eat more comfort food. The lapse is turning into a relapse.
Sometimes it’s hard to identify a behavioral sequence of events in a lapse, but if you are able to do that, you can break the chain at various points. For example, the next time something stressful happens at work, try a stress-management activity, such as deep breathing, early on. Or instead of eating comfort food, choose something healthier to eat that will help you stay on your program. One way to avoid or minimize lapses is to identify situations that cause you trouble. Consider what your eating triggers might be and plot strategies to overcome them.
For example, are there certain times of the day when you’re more susceptible to overeating? Maybe you do well in the mornings and afternoons but have a tough time with food cravings in the evenings. Or perhaps in that lull between lunch and dinner, you get a strong, uncontrollable urge to snack.
Maybe you find that you eat more when doing certain activities. Do you find yourself constantly snacking while watching television? Is food how you deal with activities you don’t enjoy, such as paying bills?
If so, find a way to replace eating with something else. Try drinking a glass of water or another calorie-free beverage, which engages the same muscle memory but without throwing you off your plan. Chewing gum works for some people, too. And vegetables are always an option.
Eating is also a common response to a negative mood. Do you find that certain feelings cause you to snack mindlessly? Do you tend to eat when you’re bored, lonely, depressed, stressed, or anxious? There are healthier ways to address all of these emotions. Addressing the emotions head on, rather than by masking them with eating, is always the best choice.
Have you noticed that you eat more when you’re around certain people? Maybe you have a good friend who likes to go out to eat or frequently invites you over for coffee and a “little snack.” Sometimes just being aware of this trigger can help you control it. Other times, you have to ask your friend to help you out by not putting you in temptation’s way. Have the coffee and skip the “little snack.”
Do you find that you just can’t eat some foods in moderation, such as ice cream, chocolate, or chips and salsa? Keeping those foods out of the house as much as possible is the best strategy. But you also might be restricting yourself a little too much. Would a small piece of dark chocolate once a week help you resist cookies?
Does how you physically feel cause you to overeat? If you skip breakfast, do hunger pangs cause you to lose control of your eating? When you’re fatigued, do you turn to junk food for energy? If skipping meals is the issue, don’t do that; make sure you’re eating regularly when you’re hungry. If you’re eating from fatigue, try to find the cause of the fatigue.
Avoiding perfectionism and knowing your triggers should help you keep a lapse from turning into a relapse. But in addition to lapses, another common experience is a plateau. You’re going to hit a plateau—a point when your body reaches a new equilibrium. You’re eating fewer calories, and as you lose weight, your metabolic rate declines a little, and sooner or later the calories in are going to balance with the calories you burn because you’ll be burning less as you lose weight.
Plateaus are natural; they are going to happen. The problem is that plateaus usually happen sooner than people want them to. How can you deal with a plateau? Once again, expect it. It’s going to happen, so don’t be frustrated when it does. When plateaus happen, and you don’t know why, you may just break through them with a little bit of time. Be patient, and the weight loss may pick up again.
But if waiting doesn’t work, then you have to ask yourself two questions:
1. Can I change my eating habits in my diet further so that I can decrease calories in a sustainable and enjoyable manner?
2. Can I increase my physical activity to burn more calories, either through exercise or through activities throughout the day?
If you can do that, great! But if the answer to those two questions is no, then you need to take a look at your goals and possibly change them. Maybe it’s not realistic to lose 10 or 20 more pounds at this time. Maybe it’s best to stay on the program and celebrate the weight that you’ve lost so far.
As you move along in your weight-loss program, occasionally take a look back. Celebrate your successes, and then conduct an attitude check. Are you enjoying your program? Are there some things you can do to enjoy it more? Is it time to do some new physical activity or try some new foods? Ongoing change can help keep things fresh and vibrant and can also help you stay motivated.
CURBING NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
If you’re not reaching your goals, try not to use negative self-talk, which includes habits of mind, such as magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out the positive ones; personalizing bad events, so that when something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself; catastrophizing, meaning that when things go even a little bit off track, you automatically anticipate the worst; and polarizing, which is seeing things only as either good or bad when most things in life are somewhere in between.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]The Benefits of Positive Thinking
The benefits of positive thinking go beyond success at weight loss and weight maintenance. Research indicates that positive thinkers have a lot of health advantages, including greater resistance to the common cold, lower rates of depression and distress, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and even increased life span. It’s not clear why positive thinkers experience these health benefits, but it may have to do, in part, with better stress management. Positive and optimistic people may also live healthier lifestyles; they may get more physical activity and follow a healthier diet. This may have many effects in the body, such as on immune function.[/box]
You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:
› Identify areas to change—the areas of your life that you typically think negatively about, whether it’s work, your daily commute, or a relationship. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
› Check yourself periodically during the day. Stop and evaluate what you’re thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them. Here are a few ways you can do that:
● Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
● Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
● To practice positive self-talk, start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.
Following a healthy diet and a healthy exercise program can improve your mood overall, which will help reduce stress and help you keep a positive attitude. The right attitude and the right lifestyle changes work together to improve your physical and emotional health.
Part of positive self-talk is self-acceptance and self-esteem. Over the years, struggles with your weight may have resulted in some damaging blows to your self-esteem. Some of these may be self-imposed, such as an inability to measure up to your own expectations. Others may come from family, friends, colleagues, or even strangers.
It’s important to maintain a sense of self-worth. The better you feel about yourself, the better you’ll take care of yourself. In addition, a positive self-image has been linked to better health and a stronger immune system.
Positive thinking can have a positive effect on your self-esteem. As you learn how to control and positively express your emotions, you’ll feel better about yourself and more confident in your abilities, including your ability to lead a healthier life.
MAINTAINING MOTIVATION OVER TIME
Motivation comes in many forms, but the best motivation comes from within—your own personal reasons for wanting to manage weight. Once you’ve taken a look at and gauged your attitude, here are several ways you can stay motivated:
› Set goals. Review the goals you first set for yourself and set more short-term goals.
› Keep track of your progress and celebrate your successes, no matter how big or small.
› Make a contract with yourself to follow the healthy-living plan you set for yourself and post it where you can see it.
› Don’t be afraid to use your support team. Don’t forget to involve others. Ask your family and friends to cheer you on; they can offer support and help keep things fresh.
› Recognize success—not only in weight loss, but how your clothes fit and how you feel.
› Reward yourself. Celebrate your successes often, but preferably not with food. Take a trip. Buy yourself some new clothes, especially if you need some new clothes because you’ve lost weight. You deserve it.
› Practice positive self-talk.
› Cut yourself some slack. Remember that no one is perfect. If you need a day to recharge from exercise, enjoy it and then get back on the program.