So much of our success with weight loss and weight loss and weight loss sustainability has to do with our mindset. In the cognitive model (which I use with my clients and on my own thoughts), our thoughts drive our emotions which drive how we behave. In this mini series on self-sabotage I’ll discuss how certain thoughts might sabotage your weight loss goals so you can be on alert for them.
It all begins with paying attention to your thoughts
Mindfulness is just a fancy way of saying that you are working on paying attention to your thoughts. Researchers tell us that we have at least 50,000 thoughts per day which is roughly over 35 thoughts per minute. There is also evidence that the vast majority of these thoughts (about 80%) are “negative.” I don’t like that word so I use the term “sabotaging.” By sabotaging I mean thoughts that take you away from goal whatever it is. There is also data that 95% of the thoughts you had today are the same ones as yesterday.
Remember, you CANNOT control your thoughts
Your mind is a constant thought machine. There is no way to stop your mind from doing what it’s supposed to do which is to create thoughts. That’s like trying to stop your blood from flowing (not a good idea). But…if you pay attention, at least a little of the time, you will find that you become a much happier more effective person. And though can’t possibly pay attention to EVERY thought you can pay attention to enough of your thoughts to make a deep and lasting impact.
It’s all about checking in with yourself when you don’t “feel right”
This is how I do it: when I feel “icky” or uncomfortable or anxious or paranoid or any unpleasant emotion, I check in with my thoughts. What is going through my brain? Is it helping me achieve my goals?
How this might sabotage weight loss (or any other goal)
One type of a thought that many of my clients have at the beginning of their weight loss journey is that they are not capable of losing weight which leads to a feeling of doubt which is a stressful feeling. And, what do stressful feelings lead to for so many of us? Eating and drinking. The eating and drinking lead to weight gain (or lack of loss) which proves to them that their lack of belief in themselves was justified.
What to do?
Start to notice when you are feeling “off” and tune in. Ask yourself:
- What am I thinking?
- Is that thought helping me or sabotaging me? And is it even true?
- What might I think that would help me? Or, what would I tell a friend in the same situation?
In the case I listed above (“I can’t lose weight”) you might have the intentional thought: “I can figure this out.” That thought alone won’t take the pounds off but this continual process of observing your sabotaging thoughts often adds up to lower stress and therefore weight loss. And, sometimes just RECOGNIZING the stressful thought is enough.