If we want to change the shape and size of our bodies, the first battle is not the bulge, but the brain. The true challenge in adopting a new lifestyle is that we have to change our way of thinking about what we eat or don’t eat, our habits, and the entire weight loss process. Greenlite’s weight loss program is a lifestyle-oriented program, not just for losing, but for living.
The big picture view is that we’re exchanging a high carbohydrate life and/or a high fat life for one with satiating protein and fresh fruits and veggies. This balance of protein and produce along with reduction in calories is used to encourage the weight to drop away.
Included in that big picture view is exchanging a life of unawareness around the food we ingest to one of mindful awareness and attention to what we consume. Through the process of losing weight we begin to know how the food we choose fuels our body, how it makes us feel, and how is serves the larger picture of managing our day to day energy expenditures…and the even bigger picture of long-term health.
So, how does the brain play a role? It is vital in many ways, but let’s just start with an easy one: reframing our thoughts. One of the barriers to managing an ongoing weight loss program can be the way we “frame” the process. If we always think of the process as depriving ourselves, how will we feel about it? You guessed it, we’ll feel deprived.
One of the most scientifically proven psychological approaches to managing our thoughts (and thus the effect of our thoughts on our behavior) is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Reframing is a basic CBT technique you can use to become more aware of how your thoughts might be making your weight loss more challenging than it needs to be.
Don’t overthink this part, just begin to notice the “tapes” you play in your mind about different scenarios. Look for opportunities to change the thoughts that might be automatic.
For an easy starting point, begin to notice what you think about:
-Planning your meals and snacks
-The foods you eat
-The foods you try not to eat
-Your decision to find different ways to balance your intake
-Being on a restricted plan as part of the weight loss phase
Often, the keys to what we need to change in our brains will appear as the reoccuring themes in our “judgements”. This is the stuff that goes through your mind such as – I like, I don’t like, this is good, this is bad, I’m good, I’m bad, this is enough, or it’s not enough. Taking the time to get at those thoughts and then reframe them will be as vital as seeing the the number on the scale go down.
Do you think, “I have to restrict my intake because I can’t manage my weight healthfully?” If so, try changing that thought to: “I have taken important steps to manage my weight with the support and direction I need—I am setting myself up to succeed.”
Do you think, “There is something wrong with me that I haven’t gotten this right to this point in my life?” If so, try changing that thought to: “I am continually learning from my thoughts and actions; I am working on making positive changes toward health goals, including weight loss and overall health.”
Catching ourselves in the act of self-sabotage via destructive thinking and proactively making changes in those thought patterns is one of the fastest ways to realize our health and fitness goals. Take it one day at a time and the brain can become your strongest ally in the weight loss process. Just start by noticing your thoughts. Be mindful of assumptions and judgments and how they make you feel. Good luck!
Written by Rochelle Adams, Greenlite Health Educator