Dietitians Dish: Overcome thoughts to meet your weight loss goal
When trying to lose weight, oftentimes sabotaging thoughts come to the surface. These mental barriers associated with dieting can be just as detrimental to successful weight loss as overeating or inactivity and are often the underlying cause behind these problems.
Many people are aware of the thoughts but are not sure how to change them. Talking back to that devil on your shoulder can help you get past some of the most common thoughts listed below.
Thought No. 1: "It's not fair. My best friend can eat whatever he or she wants and never gains a pound."
I hear this from my patients frequently, and I have honestly thought it myself at times. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life. Some people truly have a higher metabolic rate, which allows them to consume more calories to maintain a particular weight than you would be able to. This is something that you must accept. Yes, it is disappointing that your friend can eat more than you, but dwelling on this fact does not change it. So embrace it, eat what is right for your body and do what you can to boost your metabolism.
Thought No. 2: "I will start my diet tomorrow."
There is no time like the present, and it doesn't matter if it is Friday, Monday or Wednesday or any other day. Every day is a good day to be healthy, and, in my experience, people typically repeat this phrase over and over, delaying their start date, so that, eventually, it really never begins. If you began eating right as soon as you started feeling upset about your weight, you may have already met your weight loss goals instead of delaying your healthy eating plan. Remind yourself of this when this thought comes creeping up.
Thought No. 3. "I already overate at lunch. I may as well eat bad all day long."
This can turn into a vicious cycle of excusing binge eating and making poor food choices. Remind yourself that every little bite you put in your mouth adds up over time. So you ate too much at lunch? That's OK. You can still save the day by eating a lighter dinner. Eating just one Hershey's Kiss (about 20 calories each) per day adds up to two pounds in a year and thus 20 pounds in 10 years. It may also help to think of how much exercise it would take to burn off that extra meal. You can usually work off one bad meal but exercising enough to work off two extra large meals can get overwhelming.
Thought No. 4. "If only I could find that magic pill to help me lose weight."
I would actually consider this more of a mentality rather than a particular thought that I encounter. When I began college as a nutrition major, I could not wait to learn all the tricks and tips to maintaining a healthy weight. As each year of college went by, I was confused as to why I was not learning any tricks. Finally, in one of my upper-level nutrition classes as a senior, it finally occurred to me: maybe there was no trick.
Maybe the trick is just eating a balanced diet of the foods we know are healthy and avoiding unhealthy foods on a regular basis. Although there may be products developed that help with weight loss, it is unlikely that they will be effective without proper diet and exercise. Instead of looking for the next big thing, put your energy toward eating right and exercising, and you will reach your goals much more quickly.
So if you can relate to any of the above theories, remind yourself of why these thoughts will not help you lose weight. You may also want to write down the rational thought to counter each sabotaging thought and pull them out when your mind starts to lead you astray.
If you find you are having a hard time getting past the emotional or mental barriers of weight loss, meeting with a licensed therapist or counselor along with a dietitian may be a great way to overcome the thoughts and meet your goals.
Lindsay Adams is a registered dietitian with DeTar Health Systems. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.