Calories in, calories out. That’s all that matters for weight loss right?
Assuming we can remove things like stress, emotions, hormones, environmental factors, social events, and this funny thing that’s somehow intertwined with them like…our brains.
As of this writing, I have 97 clients. 25% of those clients are currently on medication for depression, anxiety or both. Another 5% are currently seeking the help of a therapist but are not on medications. Another 15% are currently working through major traumatic events such as: divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job and/or transition in the workplace.
When you take these variables, any of which can be affecting you in a variety of combinations it makes actually hitting those caloric goals that much harder.
It’s why you’re beginning to hear more trainers and coaches talk about the importance of mindset, the importance of healthy habits, the importance of having more than just one coping mechanism when your go-to is food.
It’s also why JUST exercising doesn’t solve the problem and neither does JUST dieting.
Everything you do for your health starts from the foundation of how your mind perceives it.
Your mind determines whether you will or won’t eat something.
Your mind determines whether you will or won’t hit the snooze button before getting up to train in the morning before work.
Your mind is the one precious commodity that so many people feel they can forget about and then they wonder why they can’t see better results on the scale.
Here are 10 tips for getting your mind back in the best place for weight loss success:
- Talk To Your Doctor
If you’re anything like the 25% of my clients who are currently on medication for depression/anxiety, you may want to start by determining if those medications are known for contributing to weight gain. If so, talk to your doctor to see if a change in medication or dosage is a possibility.
If you happen to see more than one medical professional, such as a general practitioner and a psychiatrist, make sure that each is aware of all medications you’re currently taking as particular combinations of pharmaceutical drugs can not only affect you mentally but can have different effects on your hunger signals.
2. Curate Your Social Media Feed
We are in the age of photoshopped bodies, filters, and highlight reels. It can be difficult to comprehend what’s truth from fiction. Block, remove and unfollow any person, business, or newsfeed that doesn’t make you feel better about yourself.
If you find yourself powerless around delicious foods, you may need to permanently or temporarily unfollow food websites and unsubscribe from recipe mailers if they only serve to make it harder for you to stay on your plan. This may include asking your friends and family to not share recipes with you that can trigger negative responses.
3. Talk To A Therapist
I’d love to say that enlisting the help of friends and family would be enough support for you to overcome a counterproductive relationship with food. You may need to spend some time talking with a licensed therapist so you can develop new coping mechanisms that don’t have calories attached to them. In some cases, it may be beneficial for you to see a specialist qualified in working with individuals who suffer with eating disorders.
4. Focus on Quality Sleep
When you’re tired, you don’t have full use of your cognitive abilities. A tired body is also a hungry body and what do we want to eat when we’re tired and hungry? Highly processed foods.
Utilize better sleep habits by limiting your access to electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. This includes phone, tablet, laptop and even television.
Make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible (and slightly cool) to give yourself the best opportunity for a good night’s sleep. In addition, try to keep yourself on a similar sleep schedule throughout the week, going to bed and waking up at roughly the same times each day.
5. Tame Your Racing Mind
If you’re anything like me, your mind races constantly. You’re thinking about the next task you have to execute on, the next conversation you need to have, the next bill you have to pay, etc. Since different tips work for different people, put your focus on short, prioritized task lists (3-5 items might be the maximum per day). You may also need to consider a “brain dump” journal. This is a place where you can write out all of those racing thoughts and give them space to breathe. Doing this at night before you go to bed can also give you the ability to let your mind slow down before drifting off to sleep.
6. Just Move
While your diet is the most efficient way to control your weight loss, getting yourself moving may be the most effective stress reliever so you can focus on your diet. Depending on the person, this could be a power-walk, lifting weights, increasing your total steps per day, or yoga. It may take consistent movement and a steady schedule you can count on to know that you have an outlet not only for your body but for your mind.
7. Forget About The Joneses
Did you happen to see this year’s Super Bowl halftime show? Chances are, even if you’re not a football fan, you either saw the performance put on by Shakira and Jennifer Lopez or you saw pictures. It was arguably the biggest conversation piece throughout the following week. And while both women put on great performances, you invariably got the unfair comparisons. “Why can’t I look like that at 50 years of age?” We tend to forget about the genetics, the lifestyle, the commitment level and, in some cases, the cosmetic surgeries that celebrities get to look amazing 365 days out of a given year.
For the rest of us mere mortals who don’t dance for a living or have to be camera/stage ready every day of our lives, we have to remember that our life is just that. Our life. Not only is the comparison unfair, it’s unrealistic unless you’re willing to forego the life you have for someone else’s. Unfortunately, we spend too much time worrying over how to look like other people even if it’s not a celebrity but our neighbor, Susan.
Time spent agonizing over someone else’s body is time not spent focusing on the one you’ve got and all of the amazing things it’s capable of (despite your thoughts to the contrary). When you take the time to learn what your body can do and be versus what it isn’t, you can stop spending the mental energy wondering why you don’t measure up to others.
8. Choose Your Circle Wisely
When you hear the belief, “you are the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with”, listen carefully. It holds a lot of weight. Consider the people you spend the most time, do they lift you up or pull you down? Do they help make you a better person or keep you second guessing yourself and what your potential is? You can’t pick your parents or your siblings but you can decide how much time you spend with them and the influence you’ll allow them to have on your health. Surround yourself with people who give you the room and the feedback to be the best version of yourself.
9. Have Outlets For Frustration
I spoke previously about using movement to help your mind. That does work for a lot of people but, like many things, it can be taken to extremes. In my case, I’m fortunate to have playing guitar, reading, singing, writing and playing with my boys as ways to help me forget about my stresses. If weight loss is your goal, have things in your life that you can fall back on that don’t require food to give you pleasure or relief.
10. Forgive The Imperfections
I talk about this a lot with my clients and I won’t stop talking about it. No matter how you’re trying to improve your health, no endeavor will be perfect and no time will be the perfect time to begin. The progress you want is not linear and you will have moments where things don’t go as planned. Anticipate this with the plan of action being that it is normal and not a sign of weakness. Some days are great days to focus on self-improvement and some days there just isn’t enough left in the tank. This makes you human. We all, coaches and clients alike, go through this. The sooner you can forgive the missteps, the easier you can get back to strategies that work more often than not.
As you work your way through this list on the areas that make the most sense to you, ask yourself which of them are getting you closer to (or taking you further from) your goals. Not every tip will make sense right now in your life. However, you may find some obstacles creep in that were not problems before.
There is no fool-proof road map to success. We all are working through different challenges and different perspectives that inform how we react to those challenges.
There are a host of reasons why you can’t stay focused on eating in a deficit or you haven’t found a better way to incorporate whole foods into your diet instead of dashing through the drive-thru. Revisit this list of tips to refresh yourself on what might be distracting you from greater weight loss progress.
“We Make Great People Greater”