The human body and brain are designed to eat. This is why losing weight proves so challenging for so many. When we want to lose weight, we all accept we need to change our eating habits. It seems simple and logical, but even with a goal set, plans laid and willpower stocked full, after a while it all seems so hopeless. Why is it so difficult to lose weight?
Partly it’s that we believe we have more control over our behaviour than we really do. Stress (like we already looked at), anxiety and addiction can limit the control we have over our food habits. We’re not logical about food. Biology, chemistry, habits and addiction govern our food intake. If we are stressed, depressed or addicted, the logic is out the window. The more primitive, emotional brain generally has precedence over the newer, more rational brain.
We need help! Luckily there are 4 psychological tips that can help you get in the right zone for weight loss.
1. Focus on emotion, not logic. You know, logically, why being slim is desirable. You’re more healthy, fitter and will act more positively accordingly. But knowing this and really wanting it are different things. When you rationally decide to lose weight, you need a burning desire to back it up. Maybe you want to show people who mocked you when heavy. Maybe you are in love and want to look the best for your love. Whatever you have to do, associate weight loss with a deep and earnest desire rather than logic.
You don’t need to think of a positive. Think of a negative – you can die early from being overweight. You may become a burden to your partner (if you’re very overweight). Focus on how that’d make you feel and learn to motivate yourself to avoid that feeling. You don’t put your hand in a fire because, logically, it would damage you. You keep your hand out of the flames because it HURTS.
2. Avoid sugary, processed foods. These change how our brains and bodies react biologically – you can become addicted. Making an effort to cut them out though, a proper effort, reduces the addiction.You can move from severely to moderately addicted. You can move from moderately to mildly. You can move from mildly to no addiction at all. Through your efforts you can battle away from bad sugary treats in stages and when you’ve left them you are very unlikely to need to resume your old intake again.
3. Practice self control. Self control is a muscle that needs working out. Each time you resist temptation, you are bettering your self control. Like removing addiction, success brings more success. Symbolism helps here. Buy your favourite treat – one that you feel controls you – and throw it in the bin. Don’t take it out again.
Don’t beat yourself up or succumb to negativity if you fail to control yourself at any point. Pick yourself up, acknowledge you made a mistake and start again. You have to work it out and it takes time.
4. Surround yourself with other positive people who support your goal. Getting fit and losing weight require help. No man or woman is an island (no matter how large they may be). You need to do a lot of things alone – decide what you want; work on self discipline and look after yourself when no one else is around – but that doesn’t mean you are alone.
We’re social creatures much more influenced by peers than we imagine or confess to ourselves. If you’ve got that one friend who always calls round with pizza when you’ve said you’re on a health kick, get them onside and with you or face facts – they may be sabotaging your goals for their own selfish reasons (jealousy, a need to see you fail). Subconscious or not that’s not a personality you want around.