A holistic weight loss approach is necessary for sustainable weight loss. Holistic weight loss should encompass your body, mind and soul. In an earlier article, we had addressed how enriching your soul helps your weight loss efforts. In this article, we share our thoughts about the role of your mind in weight loss.
A lot of dieters spend hours exercising their body but very few spend any time exercising their mental faculties. For long-term successful weight loss, you need to exercise your mind as much if not more than the muscles in your body.
Weight gain or weight loss happens in the mind long before it manifests as fat storage in your body. Your mental state will decide whether you keep the weight off or you revert to old habits that cause you to regain all the weight. The following are some essential mental steps that you must take to ensure sustainable weight loss.
Mental Step 1 – Higher Level of Awareness
Awareness of lifestyle habits are the first step to sustainable weight loss. Your habits drive your weight loss or weight gain. The goal is to replace weight gaining habits with weight losing habits. Most people shy away from trying to replace their habits. They want to lose weight and yet do not want to let go of the habits that are preventing them from losing weight.
It is for this reason that this first mental step is extremely difficult to carry out unless there is a structured program and a strong social support system. A structured program can help identify the weight gaining habits. A strong social support system will help hammer home these habits.
Mental Step 2 – Self Education
A lot of adults spend considerable amounts of time, effort and money on weight loss but not many spend time to understand why they are gaining weight or how they could lose weight. Essential weight loss education is the first aspect of the mind that needs to be addressed. Weight gain happens mainly because of a lack of vital weight loss education. This education is essentially about how your body reacts to the environment around you. This includes learning about the effects of nutrition, supplementation, exercise, lifestyle and everything else in your surrounding environment.
You need to take it upon yourself to learn about fundamental weight loss principles. When someone attempts to lose weight without understanding, he may attempt fad diets, gimmicks or methods that do not yield long-term results. Without sound fundamental knowledge, one becomes impatient and seeks the impossible. You start seeking realistic fat loss rate when you know that fat can only be burned in your mitochondria. Your body has a limited amount of mitochondria. This means that your fat burning rate is limited by the amount of mitochondria that you have.
Mental Step 3 – Understand and Enforce Your Willpower
Most people say that they do not have willpower when it comes to exercise or making food selections. Lack of willpower comes from not knowing why you need to impose your will on something. As an example, you may be told to stay away from sweet foods to lose weight. Without a deeper understanding, you will not know why sweet food is bad for you except that everyone says so. But if you understood that sweet food spikes your insulin hormone levels, you would probably find it easier to impose your will in resisting sugary foods. This is because insulin is a potent fat storage hormone. Your body is in fat storage mode so long as insulin levels remain elevated. As you continue to indulge in sweet food, your insulin levels remain elevated at higher levels than it would be for someone who is lean. Elevated insulin levels also make you very hungry. But every time you eat, insulin forces those calories to be stored as fat. You start gaining fat but your cells are starving for energy. If you knew the effect of sweet foods at this deeper level, it will be much easier for you to impose your will to resist sweet foods.
Mental Step 4 – Become Mentally Aware of Self Talk
One of the biggest influencers of weight loss success is the little voice in your head. Some people call this self-talk. Do you realize that this voice is always rambling away? If you do not take control of this voice, it is very likely to send you negative messages. This voice will cause you to ask questions such as “Why am I so fat”, “Why can’t I lose weight”, “I will never be able t do a push-up” and a hundred other excuses that won’t help your weight loss efforts. Most people do not even realize this voice in their head until they try to be aware of its presence. Unless you control it, this voice by default wants you to have an easy and lazy voice. This is your genetic programming wanting you to always take the path of least resistance. What you need to do is to set your goals and align your self-talk to it.
Mental Step 5 – Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind
Your subconscious mind is your inner computer that helps you attain your goals. If you have not set any goals and have allowed your self-talk a free hand, chances are that your subconscious programming is working against you as you try to lose weight. Your self-talk is the single biggest influencers of your subconscious programming. Like any computer, the program in your subconscious can be replaced by reprogramming it.
It comes as no surprise that reprogramming your subconscious requires that you;
- Have clear written goals. Have a clear description of exactly what you want to weigh and how you would look like. Everything must be described in minute detail. What size will your waist, bust or hips be? Having fuzzy goals in your mind is not good enough. It needs to be written. If you want your goals to become a physical reality, it has to be first manifested in physical reality by writing it down on paper.
- Control of your self-talk with an iron-fist. Always be aware of what your inner voice is saying. Stop saying “I can’t …”. You are the master and your inner-voice your servant. Ensure that your self-talk is in-line with your goals.
Mental Step 6 – Meditate or Quiet Your Mind
Firstly learn to meditate of simply to quiet your mind. This helps in two ways.
- The process of emptying your mind of all thoughts is like a “Ctrl-Alt-Del” reset button on your computer. It will help reset your mind and ease stress. It calms you down. It is said that your mind is like a drunken monkey. It moves from one thought to another. When you first do this, you might be shocked to find how your mind generates one thought after another.
- You should practise to stay in this state of mind for a short period. When you are in this state of mind, you are more responsive to subconscious programming, which is the next step.
Mental Step 7 – Visualize Your Weight Loss Goals
Your subconscious programming can be strengthened by visualizing your goals. This essentially means seeing your goal in the eye of your mind. You can vividly visualize if you have described your goal in detail in Step 3. Visualize the body that you want to end-up with at the end of your weight loss efforts.
When you are in the meditative state where you have quiet your mind, you should visualize your goals with deep emotion. You should essentially see yourself while feeling the relevant emotions. What sort of emotions should you feel? Let’s assume that by some miracle, you could be transported into the future where you have achieved your weight loss goals. When you see yourself, you will have a rush of positive emotions. This could be happiness, excitement, confidence, fearlessness or any other positive emotion. The trick is to quiet your mind, visualize yourself as how you want to be and feel all the deep positive emotions that would come with it.
Mental Step 8 – Feedback, Analyze and Make Corrections
The final aspect of the mind’s role in weight loss is in getting correct feedback, making correct analysis and making the necessary course corrections. Dieters very rarely do this. Most dieters keep doing what they are doing without making any course corrections. All of a sudden they wake up one day and decide that their diet isn’t working. Your body is constantly adapting to whatever you are throwing at it. You got to be aware of what is working and what is not.