After going through an extremely stressful period in my life, I gained 30 lbs, which has taken me 4 years to lose most of it. It’s only been in the last year that there has been the biggest transformation, which has happened thanks to one fundamental shift. I have finally almost reached my health goals and I wanted to share the simple trick that I has helped me push through.
There is one thing that will control what you choose to eat, whether you choose to exercise, the intensity and frequency of your workout, and your stress levels: your psychology.
What do I mean by psychology? In simple terms, it’s your internal dialogue, what you tell yourself over and over again, what you choose to focus on, how you decide to justify a decision. These all affect your final decision.
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For example, if you tell yourself that this tenth cookie is okay because you worked out today and you ‘deserve a treat’, you are not being honest with yourself, because we all know that eating an unreasonable amount of sweets is counterproductive to living a healthy life. What you need to stop and think because you have even one cookie is: why do you want the cookie? What are you focusing on – the short-term pleasure or the long-term negative effects of having too much sweets? Are you choosing the focus on feeling like you’re missing out on that cookie, or how amazing you feel when you feed your body the right foods to make you feel energized and healthy?
For myself, I associated treats in the evening to good memories from my childhood that I was trying to connect to when I felt lonely in my apartment, far from my family. Food was also a coping mechanism – I didn’t feel like I had control over my life and used food as a way to control something. But I realized that I was making the wrong food choices, which made me more miserable, and that in fact, food was controlling ME. When I began to listen to my body and feed it what it was actually craving, I slowly began to notice that I craved wholesome and nourishing foods that made me feel good inside and out. I realized that I didn’t NEED that bag of chips to enjoy the movie I was watching. It all went down to the psychology, the thoughts that I had associated to a particular behavior.
The same concept can be applied to working out. There are many times that I thought that I was too tired for the gym or I just didn’t feel like it. But when I took the approach of “No excuses” (unless I was really sick), and told myself “Go to the gym just for 10 minutes, and then if you still don’t feel like it, then you can go home,” I began to notice that a) I made less and less excuses to not go because I enjoyed working out; b) My body began to crave working out because it was such a positive release of energy; c) With time, I didn’t even make excuses anymore because I WANTED to go to the gym! And this change was all because I managed my thoughts about workouts – I chose not to think about the short-term ‘discomfort’ of not feeling like going, but rather focus on the outcome that I will feel amazing after, that I am slowly working on my fitness goals, and that I am taking time for myself to take care of my body and my mind and have some quiet time.
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It all comes down to the psychology and although it might feel daunting to figure out your internal dialogue and thought processes, take it one step at a time. Start with one area that you would like to work on, and observe your patterns of behavior – you might be repeating the same destructive behavior over and over again, which you can then start to question by asking yourself: why am doing this? What feeling am I trying to fulfill? How am I justifying it? What am I focusing on? What can I focus on instead that will make me have a more empowering perspective on it?
Please share your breakthroughs because we can all learn from each other’s experiences! You can share your stories in the comment section below or through social media, @SeppyforLove!