Our mind is incredible.
It impacts so much of our daily lives. What we think, and how we think it. It can inspire us as easily as it can derail us.
From an early age we form opinions and ideas about any number of things, from whether we like broccoli to what kind of music we enjoy. Even more interesting is that sometimes these beliefs can change over time, while others settle in and refuse to move no matter what. As a result it makes for a complex dialogue with ourselves when we work with stress and other events in our daily lives.
One area our mind has great influence over is in the realm of weight loss. How we approach a diet in our minds can make or break our success many times. If I enter into a diet thinking I’ll likely fail, then right from the start I work against myself and my ability to do well in the diet. Whereas if I set a positive outlook, almost a curiosity about the diet, then I most likely find I can work through any challenges that arise.
In the work we do here at Organic MD, we see this dynamic frequently. For example when a person joins our Healthy Eating Workshop, they often bring ideas about how the 6 weeks will go and what they feel they can do. Sometimes perceived limitations creates a barrier to trying something new or different that might support their health. If they step into the process open to new ideas, then the course has a better chance of offering them something.
Although the notion of positive thinking is certainly not a new idea, a recent study suggests that when it comes to weight loss having a positive approach might be highly beneficial. In a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that people who thought they were overweight, regardless of whether they actually were, tended to overeat during stressful times. Basically because they already saw themselves as overweight, they used eating as a main mechanism to manage stress. Not surprisingly the end result was they gained weight.
For a link to an overview of the article and the Journal itself click HERE.
The study looked at three different long term studies, one British and two American, which tracked over 14,000 people over the course of several years. This kind of research can provide powerful outcomes because the sample is large and follows people over many years. The British study tracked participants for about 20 years, from age 23 to 45. These studies looked at how the participants viewed their weight, was this correct and then looked at their weight gain over this period of time.
The studies revealed an interesting element. In general most people who start a diet feel that they need to lose some weight. In a sense it is a pre-requisite for many diets: you want to change how you look in some way. Feeling you are overweight is fairly common. However the studies found that some who had a view of themselves as overweight, did so regardless of whether they actually were.
(Healthy weight was based on the general body mass index (BMI) numbers from the CDC. Click HERE for link to this index)
So the circle begins. Your body image is that you are overweight. This is stressful, especially since our culture provides a great deal of stigma about this. When stressed, you overeat – or at least make less than ideal food choices. The end result? You gain weight. The cycle continues.
All of this suggests that two things need to shift in some way. First, realigning how you see yourself and holding a more balanced view of your body and weight. Sometimes this view is decades in the making, but shifting it has profound effects. Second, finding alternative ways to manage stress so that food is not the option of choice. This means shifting the energy in the moment. So instead of eating, you take a walk. This way the stress energy finds another way to express itself.
The important thing to remember is that these things can change. Science has demonstrated that the brain constantly shifts and changes if we support it to. Breaking habits can be hard, but it can be done. Patience, kindness and a little encouragement go a long way to helping you transform.
For more on the subject, check out this article that talks more about the study. Just click HERE.
In the meantime – do you struggle with these issues around weight loss? Have a story to share about how you worked with it? Sharing your success helps our readers – so please share. We can all gain from your wisdom.
Until next time – To Your Health.