Mind Over Matter: Developing a Weight Loss Mindset
Diet Science is everywhere.
When it comes to developing a weight loss mindset, it’s no secret that our minds are vastly untapped in regards to power potential. Now that’s not saying we are stupid, as humans, in the field of weight loss science. What that means is, the power of our minds, and what we can accomplish with the proper mindset is beyond our scope of imagination.
It’s true that in today’s world you can’t throw a rock without being told, informed, or sold on some form of new diet science. Lose weight fast! Sherry Lost 20 lbs fast on this easy plan! Sometimes it’s the well-meaning friend who lost a bunch of weight on some sort of diet. Right now it seems to be the Keto phase in the dieting world.
I’m not knocking the keto diet, I know many people who have done it and enjoyed it. I myself even dabbled into it and lost like 50lbs. However, I have come to realize that restrictive diets come with their own set of complications and triggers. Trust me, I’ve tried all of them. I have done the low-fat diets, I’ve done the no meat diets (I went vegetarian almost vegan once for a year). Heck, I’ve also done the low/no-carb diets. The one thing I learned through all of them is that anytime I’ve cut out a food group, that food group became my obsession.
Is it a lack of willpower or are you being set up to fail?
Science is now showing that restrictive diets can be key factors in leading to binging. Studies like the one here at NCBI have shown that by cutting out a food group, your body and mind react in ways that cause you to obsess, crave, and over reward when it comes to that food group.
Dieting, especially in regards to restrictive diets, trigger both psychological and physical reactions in the body.
- Obsession over the food group that has been cut out – When you completely cut out a food group, your mind becomes obsessed with it. Look at the no-carb lifestyle. Everything you look at is measured based on the carbs.
- Unhealthy relationships with food form – When you start restricting food, you are suddenly surrounded by all this “science” telling you why this food is bad. You start to believe the food is an enemy. Even though it might be something your body actually needs you have now developed an unhealthy relationship with that food.
- Your body begins to create hormones to overcome or handle the absence of restricted food – Simply put, sometimes the things we cut out our body feels the need for. It will send out signals telling you that you need that food.
So now you’re developing a weight loss mindset. One that is creating physical and psychological issues between you and food. Eventually, it becomes unsustainable and triggers binges that leave you feeling hopeless, and like you will never be able to succeed. Not realizing that you were set up for failure from the beginning.
The Media, Diet Culture, and the body-positive movement.
Something else I would love to talk about is the fact that the media, and diet culture, have created this shame around having a body that isn’t perfect. Everywhere you go you see what society thinks is acceptable. Certain sizes, certain hair colors, or lengths. Honestly guys this isn’t something new. This has been happening for hundreds of years. Over time we just have become conditioned to believe that if we don’t look a certain way we aren’t beautiful.
The push back from those societal pressures created what we know today as the body-positive movement. The body-positive movement is both a beautiful and dangerous thing. I love the idea that you should love your body that you are in. It’s imperative. In fact, it’s really what this post is about. Encouraging other people to go out there and love themselves is my mission in life. Here is the hard part, loving your body also means respecting and valuing it. This means, yes, sometimes those unpleasant discussions about obesity and health need to be had. It DOES NOT mean you have to have those discussions with people online, in comment sections with unhappy keyboard warriors that feel emboldened by their anonymity. Those discussions are for your dr, your partner, and those closest to you.
My hope, and my experience, is that as you come to love yourself more you feel the value in who you are as a person. It’s in that value that you find what you need to truly make healthy and loving changes towards your body. It’s in finding your value, that you start developing a weight loss mindset that sets you up for success!
What is a weight loss mindset
You might be thinking to yourself, what exactly is a weight loss mindset. Now you can google “weight loss mindset” and find a ton of information on how to diet in the right frame of mind. What I’m about to say is going to be a little different.
When I talk about developing a weight loss mindset, what I’m really referring to is creating a relationship between yourself and how you view your weight. Taking the focus off of food for a little while and putting it on yourself can create an amazing life-altering change. When you stop hating yourself constantly you allow room for real growth. It’s in that gentler place self-worth grows. Once you realize that you are worth the effort and the work, those two things become easier to accomplish.
I know, I know! It sounds kind of hokey right? I can already see your mind reeling and the thought of “oh yeah its just that simple” Insert giant eye roll. I get it, but hang with me for a minute and let me explain.
A story of a life full of hate.
My whole life, I have fought with myself over my body. I created an enemy in myself. When you are constantly fighting who you are, fighting what you hate about yourself everything becomes harder.
I have always been chunky. Even at a young age, I remember hating the body I was in. I don’t know WHY I learned to hate my body. I only remember that I’ve always hated it. I always felt disgusting like I wasn’t good enough because I was a chubby little girl. That hatred took on a life of its own. One that had complete control of MY life. I did all the cliche things that overweight insecure girls do. You know, the bad relationships, letting myself get used by people that never cared for me. Looking for someone to love me even though I couldn’t love myself. What’s worse is never really believing the good people in my life when THEY told me I was worth it and that they loved me.
The one thing I noticed through all of this is no matter what diet I tried, no matter how I tried to change my body, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to. I was destined to be broken. To live trapped in a shape that I detested. Only dreaming about the life I could have if I could only be thin.
Not so wasted time
So many tears, so many heartaches, so much wasted time. Or at least that’s what I used to think. One day after yet another failed attempt to lose weight, I remember having a conversation with my sister. I was in tears, how could I just be so weak and never have the willpower to succeed.
She told me that in her eyes I was one of the most dedicated people she had ever met when it came to willpower. She also told me that she watched me year after year struggle on these restrictive diets and how no matter what I did I would always succumb at the end.
This sparked something in me and I realized she was right. My whole life I had only been trying one thing. Through that unhealthy, restrictive process, I had not only developed an unhealthy relationship with food but with my body as well.
I set out to change this. I started researching how to develop a healthy natural relationship with food. Want to know what the first thing I read was? You guessed it, stop restricting your food. Stop completely cutting out entire food groups. Was my mind blown? You bet! I’ve spent nearly 40 years trying restriction with little result, and yet knowing that didn’t make it easier to accept this new idea.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
I made a promise to myself that I was going to try something new. Now don’t think this just happened overnight. Nope, I spent months trying to find a balance and overcome decades of making food, my enemy. Yes, I gained weight during this time. I know this sounds counter-productive but trust me.
As I tried new foods and enjoyed old favorites, I started to peel back the years of damaging emotions towards food. I binged at first. Eating out a lot, having icecream, and other things that I have been telling myself for years I shouldn’t eat. I reminded myself as I ate them that it was ok. I didn’t have to feel bad or ashamed of enjoying them. Without realizing it, I had begun developing a weight loss mindset that I could win with!
Over the course of a few months, something wonderful happened. I stopped binging. The obsession I had over sweets, and eating dwindled. I even stopped turning to food as an emotional filler for feelings I didn’t know how to handle. Suddenly I found that by allowing myself to have a healthy relationship with food, I was no longer obsessed with what I could or couldn’t have. I could enjoy ice cream one day and not feel the obsessive need to binge on it for days at a time anymore! I was, in a way, liberated from the diet shackles!
Untangling years of negativity
As I dove further into this new way of life, I realized that my unbalanced relationship with food ran parallel to my unbalanced relationship with myself. I spent years making my body the enemy of my world. When I say I truly hated myself, I mean it.
Realizing that taking away the negative mindset I developed around food had changed my relationship with binging, I set out trying to duplicate the results when it came to my feelings about myself.
It hasn’t been easy at all. I’ve cried and screamed at the person in the mirror. Been confused, lonely, and angry all at the same time. Hell, I’ve even been scared at some points, but as I sit here today, I can tell you that I no longer hate myself. When I look in the mirror I no longer go straight to the things I don’t like. Now my eyes see a body that is doing its best and only getting stronger. I see the sway of my hips and the curve of my waist. The feelings of hopelessness that used to tighten my chest are nowhere to be found. In fact, instead of casting my eyes down in shame, I look at myself and the feeling of seeing an old friend wash over me.
Taking away that negativity towards myself has gone a long way towards strengthening my self-worth, and developing a weight loss mindset. I now believe that I am worthy of that greatness. I am worthy of making promises to myself that I will keep. Its this mindset that has been the entire game-changer for me, and it can do the same for you!
Loving yourself creates a person in your life that you can trust!
Think about all the times you’ve made promises to yourself? You’ll start a new diet, or be down to a certain size/weight by summer. Even on a daily level “today I won’t cheat, I’ll eat perfectly and work out!” We constantly let ourselves down. Over and over we break promises to ourselves. It’s no wonder that we don’t trust our ability to stay on track or succeed.
I know when it comes to a promise I’ve made to someone else I try my best to never break it I don’t want their trust in me to be compromised. What they think of me matters. Why is it different when that commitment is one we’ve made on our own behalf? I truly believe the difference comes from not knowing what your worth is. Somewhere deep down you believe that a broken promise to yourself is not a big deal. It’s ironic that we want guarantees from everyone in our lives, we expect promises to be kept, yet we don’t have the same standards when it comes to making guarantees towards ourselves.
When you start to build a relationship with yourself, the accountability that shows up for others starts to come into play for you! Loving yourself means you don’t want to let yourself down anymore. YOU MATTER, more importantly, what you think about yourself matters! Things like compassion, self-worth, and accountability should be at the forefront of your mind when you develop a weight loss mindset.
The Bottom Line
YOU CAN’T CHANGE WHAT YOU HATE! There is no room for growth in self-hatred. It’s time to put that sorry old book down and write a new one. This time YOU are the love of your life, the hero of this story. Create the space you need to develop healthy relationships not only with food but with yourself.
Earlier I shared my story with you about my own development with these healthy balances. Just so you know it’s not me talking the talk, but walking the walk, In the past few weeks I have made promises to myself that I have kept. Mobility was painful for me, but I did what I could, I started going to the water walking sessions at my rec center, you can read more about that here. I’ve also been enjoying a nonrestrictive way of eating that has allowed me to drop over 14lbs in the past 2 weeks. Not only has the water walking already given me some of my strength and mobility back, but I find that not obsessing over every bite I put in my mouth has allowed me to relax with food. I don’t find keeping my promises to myself a struggle at all.
Creating a healthier relationship with self and food has really been the cornerstone in developing a weight loss mindset that works for me. I see this as something sustainable for my entire life, a way to celebrate my body and enjoy a rich fulfilling life.
Trust me when I say it all starts with you. Lift yourself up, be kind to your body and you will find yourself filled with light and confidence. Love yourself because you deserve it. Remember you are never alone in this journey! Until next time my friends.
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