Anyone who has been trying to lose weight for a while knows it can feel like it’s a yo-yo. One day (or minute), you’re determined and eating carrots, and then suddenly you’re binging on junk food.
The reason this is so common is that we’ve turned unhealthy eating into an addiction. It really is “all in your mind”—the chemicals that are activated in your brain when you eat certain things trigger your happy emotions.
We all want to feel happy, so we associate happiness with yummy food. To break that addiction, you have to fight your mind with mental strategies, not starvation.
Sure, exercise and healthy eating are important, but if you can’t get your brain on board, you won’t use the techniques you need to lose weight. The good news is the battle inside your mind is conquerable. These mental strategies will make “healthy you” the victor!
1. Make Small Habit Changes
Trying to do everything at once is a formula for most of us to fail. If you can, that’s great! But cold turkey isn’t for everyone, and if you’ve been trying to lose weight that way, it’s time to try a different route.
Instead, try making small habit changes that you can stick to, like swapping out one soda a day for a bottle of water. Slowly bring it down to where you’re drinking one soda per week, then only having it as a treat.
Use this slow compound effect system for all the changes you’re working through. Instead of getting up an hour early and working out, set your alarm five minutes earlier than usual and do a quick at-home routine. Adjust this to ten, then twenty, and soon you’ll be at your goal.
It takes time to break old bad habits and cement new, healthier ones. By starting slow, you’re building a foundation of the behaviors you want to keep.
2. Get Real With Yourself
What kind of goals are you setting? Are they realistic with what you know about your capabilities, schedule, and other factors?
Right now, you have to start with who you are and reach for goals right outside your comfort zone. You can adjust them as you grow, but if your goals are too intimidating, it’s easier to give up on them.
Start With Reasonable Targets
What kind of milestones can you set that are within reach, knowing you as you are right now? Do you need to see the results quickly, or are you okay with being patient?
Use that info to guide your journey. If you need tangible results, focus on losing an inch off your belly instead of ten pounds. Look for visible changes, not numbers on a scale.
Set small targets that show you’re succeeding for that instant gratification. Celebrate when you made it through the day without your normal soda or sugar-laden coffee.
Those small victories will be what eventually help you win the war on your weight.
3. Make an Action Plan
What’s your plan of action to control your brain? How will you actively work on losing weight and conquering those “happy” chemicals?
If it’s not something you enjoy or are comfortable with, you’re more likely to avoid doing it.
For instance, substituting a white potato with a sweet potato is an adjustment you can get used to. Swapping out macaroni and cheese for broccoli if you hate the vegetable will be more difficult.
Preparation is the Key to Success
Fighting cravings can be hard, though. If you know you’re going to struggle in this area, have a go-to plan to avoid binging or giving in.
Come up with a list of things you can eat rather than focusing on what you shouldn’t. Find recipes that are healthy and delicious.
Some cannabis strains offer appetite control. Keep your favorite CBD products on hand and use them when you need a little extra help.
Make part of your action plan a reward system, too. Sometimes, having that little incentive is enough to push you through and help you say no to that bowl of ice cream.
Losing weight intentionally is a mental struggle, so it requires mental strategies to be successful.
Yes, you’ll need to eat better, exercise, and do the things you know will help you reach your target. But you’ll be more likely to pursue a healthy lifestyle if your brain is on board with it. These three simple “mind games” should be enough to do the trick!