Positive Self-Talk to Think Yourself Thin
By Michelle May, M.D.
You become what you think. If you're not getting the weight loss results you want, practice more positive self-talk and think yourself thin!
Whether you're aware of it or not, you have a mental tape running constantly that affects your moods and ultimately, your behavior. When these thoughts are negative, outdated or confining, they undermine the process of change-whether you're conscious of them or not. It stands to reason that without an awareness of this mental chatter, you cannot really know why you do what you do so it is harder to change it.
Your thoughts are the primary creator of your emotions, which inspire your actions and therefore lead to your results. This thought > feeling > action > result cycle is a "causal loop." In other words, when you think a certain thought, it causes you to feel a certain way, which causes you to act in a certain way, which causes certain results, which then "proves" that your original thoughts were correct.
These patterns are often repetitive and self-reinforcing. Thousands of repetitions of a particular experience create auto-pilot thoughts, feelings and actions, and therefore, predictable results.
This thought > feeling > action > result cycle applies to all of your thoughts, not just those surrounding food, eating and weight. It applies to your thoughts about your relationships, your career, your finances, your habits and your abilities-any area of your life that is within your sphere of influence. Even when a thought pattern leads to poor results, you can stay locked in the trap because it's comfortable and familiar.
Think Yourself Thin
The first step to disrupting an undesirable cycle is to start monitoring your internal conversations and become more aware of the results they are creating.
The next time you find yourself eating in a way that feels out of control, uncomfortable or unsatisfying, ask yourself what you were thinking before you took the first bite. If you recognize that your self-talk is inaccurate, ineffective or limiting, you can choose to change it to more positive self-talk in order to change your outcome. Repeating new positive thinking and empowering mantras will result in the rewiring of your brain.
Interestingly, you don't even have to believe what you're saying to yourself at first. There's power in simply saying it. Your mind doesn't tolerate incongruence so if your thoughts are telling you something, your brain will find a way to make it true. In other words, "fake it until you make it." When you act "as if" it were true, it soon becomes reality.
Let's take a look at an example of negative and positive self-talk that is common in people who struggle with their weight:
Change Your Mind: The Inner Critic
The Inner Critic is harsh and hypercritical and says things like:
"I am weak-willed and I have no self-control."
"I am too heavy to be attractive."
"I am lazy and too undisciplined to exercise the way I should."
You might talk to yourself this way because you believe that you're keeping yourself "in line."
But most people aren't motivated by criticism-even when you're the one criticizing yourself. Instead, this hypercritical self-talk causes feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. As a result, you probably won't do your best or you'll give up easily. The results only prove that the Inner Critic was right and lead to more harsh self criticism.
To change this pattern, begin to use an encouraging, gentle inner voice and positive self-talk to motivate yourself toward the changes you want and literally think yourself thin. For example:
"It's challenge to turn down tempting food but I know it will taste even better if I wait until I'm hungry."
"I look really nice in this dress-especially when I smile!"
"I'll feel so much better if I take even just a short, comfortable walk. Everyone has to start somewhere."
Banish your negative thoughts before they lead to negative feelings and behaviors. Switch to kinder, gentler, positive self-talk that will coach you toward the results you really want.
Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle (download the first chapter free). She conducts corporate workshops and speaks throughout the country on mindful eating and vibrant living. For other tools to change your mind, take a look at our "I'm Not Hungry - What Now?" series.