Many people are so concerned with losing weight that the task of weight loss can in of itself be a tremendous source of stress and a drain on self-esteem. Turning to short lived diets, or even taking dietary pills to suppress the appetite compounds the frustration that many people experience which is weight loss that simply does not work.
Have you ever noticed the fact that people equate weight with health? “You look good, you’ve lost weight”. This comment that I hear so often in modern society underlies the truth about weight loss. Your weight is a reflection of your lifestyle.
The choices that you make in your life will reflect into your weight – the food that you eat, the way that you exercise and the way that you emotionally relate to life too. Real weight loss follows real and consistent changes to your life… changes that are consistent with improving overall health and well-being.
Short-term “solutions” such as brief periods of dieting do little to contribute to getting healthier, and can actually have a long-term detrimental effect on your health. Weight loss is more likely to be successful when approached with overall-wellness in mind.
Too often, the focus of weight loss is a number, the goal being to simply bring that number down. This way of thinking loses sight of the original reason why one may wish to lose weight. The reason for weight loss is health!
Real weight loss is weight loss that is permanent. Therefore, losing weight should be part of a big-picture lifestyle change. The goal should not be about losing the pounds, but about being kinder to our bodies and developing in emotional relationship to ourselves. To accomplish such a lifestyle change requires the ability to develop mindfulness about how we treat our bodies, and why. What drives us to make certain food choices, or to neglect exercise?
Mindfulness is the art of developing awareness. There is a direct correlation between the thoughts that we think, the emotions that we feel and the choices that we make. Many people live their lives in a constant pattern of “reaction” with very little awareness of the emotional patterns inside their bodies that lead them to make the choices that reflect into their weight.
Mindfulness begins with a choice to develop this awareness and fundamentally the first step in this choice is to STOP.
In that moment of reaching for the chocolate bar… STOP. Close your eyes. Breathe. Focus inside with the simply intention to bring to awareness what it is you are feeling right NOW.
Is the emotion that you are feeling one that you are comfortable with? Is this an emotion that you would like to change? Are you perhaps using sugar as an unconscious way to shift your emotional state (because that’s what many people do!). Is there something else that you could do instead? Is there a conscious way to respond to the emotion that you are feeling rather than react to it?
STOP. Take the time to ask yourself questions and you may be surprised at what arises in your mind. Every person has wisdom inside. There is a part of you that knows what is going on and that part knows exactly what is right for you.
If you had all the confidence in the world, is there something that you would communicate differently to a partner? Are you feeling anxious because there is something that you would like to do? STOP. Look inside. Question. And then take a moment to make a conscious choice.
Moving deeper than awareness, mindfulness is the choice to develop in strategies. There are many other ways that you could respond to the emotion that leads you to eat the chocolate bar. With conscious response to emotion, the feeling itself with change. There will be no need to eat that chocolate bar anymore because something on a deeper level is satisfied within. The result? You will lose weight.
Weight loss follows small choices in the moment and those small choices add up. Instead of focusing on just losing the weight, a more holistic mentality is necessary in order to become healthier. Making real lifestyle changes requires mental adjustments – new strategies to consciously respond to life. When we have made the conscious choice to give ourselves permission to pursue positive change, instead of running an endless circle of diet and disappointment, the possibilities for success become infinite.
In the event that we occasionally find ourselves reaching for the less healthy snack (it happens to everyone), it is important to remember to be forgiving. Give yourself space but please remember to make note of the emotions that you feel at that moment. Why did we feel compelled to make that particular choice? Is it because of stress? Are we seeking comfort through food?
Mindfulness is one means to develop self-awareness. From awareness self-control follows naturally. Every time we make a choice that is beneficial to our physical wellness, it also contributes to emotional well-being. Regularly making small but significant choices like this will help us on the path to being healthier. It will also create a naturally occurring reward system in the mind. With practice, the choice to make healthier decisions will actually become a habit.
Developing the mindfulness necessary to consciously choose a healthier life will result in natural and quite automatic weight loss that is not only real, but weight loss that is sustainable too.
The results are long term because they are based on new habits that we have created in our lives. Not only upgrading our choice of the foods that we eat, but also the way that we exercise and emotionally relate to life as well. As we progress towards our health goals it becomes evident that a positive change in our underlying confidence naturally follows and this naturally feeds the cycle of forming permanent new habits. Put quite simply, when we experience the emotional reward of eating healthy nutritious foods, we will naturally find ourselves desiring to continue the path of health. Positive life changes touch upon every aspect of our lives, not just the numbers on the bathroom scale.
Nicholas Harris is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and the author of “Self Hypnosis for Weight Loss”, an online course that will help you to achieve real and permanent weight loss, using the natural power of your mind.