Change the Way You Think
As a world champion bodybuilder, you would think dieting and staying lean should be easy for me. In my late twenties and early thirties, I was a competitive amateur bodybuilder. Me, from the tiny US territory of Guam, competed on the world stage for years. I was very successful. I won the regional Pacific Championships. I was a South Pacific Games Gold Medalist in Bodybuilding. I even won the 2003 IFBB Women’s World Amateur Bodybuilding Championships. I beat the Russians!
My priorities changed. I started my own family, and I was not living the lifestyle of a competitive bodybuilder. The idea of staying super lean was not important and it was too HARD! However, I didn’t want to gain all the weight back and then some when I was finished. That’s what happened. Extremely hard dieting and large amounts of cardio training wreaked havoc on my body and mind. I really didn’t care if I ever got back down to that size ever again. I didn’t want to suffer and sacrifice the way I did. I didn’t want to be overweight though. I felt like a fake. How could I let myself gain so much weight? How could I not care? I really let myself have it in the beat-yourself-up department.
How about you?
If you have dieted and lost weight only to gain it back again or have difficulty losing weight, you probably blamed yourself. Maybe you had thoughts like “I’m such a loser! I’m too weak. I’m just not motivated.” You might have blamed your body with thoughts like “I just can’t lose weight. There must be something wrong with me.”
Experts say that dieting is simply an equation of calories in and calories out. Yes, if you adhere to a nutrition plan where you are in a calorie deficit, you should lose weight. While this is true, it’s not so simple. I think one of the most important factors in dieting successfully is changing the way you think. Change the way you think about food, eating and dieting because it affects your behavior and how you feel emotionally.
Have you ever had thoughts that sabotaged your efforts?
Thinking sabotaging thoughts like “I ate something I shouldn’t. I may as well blow my diet for the rest of the day.” or “I know I shouldn’t eat this, but I don’t care.” If you act upon those thoughts and then feel regretful and demoralized afterward, it may make it even harder for you to get back on track. How do you change those thoughts? You must talk back to those sabotaging thoughts in a convincing way. “Okay, so I ate something I didn’t plan to eat or ate more than I was supposed to. It was a mistake. It’s not a big deal. I will get back on track the rest of the day.” Having an all-or-nothing mindset about eating is not a successful mindset. Reframing your thoughts will help you be more successful in achieving your fat loss goals.
What do you do when the going gets tough? Do you abandon everything you know and have practiced only to sabotage yourself? Having strategies to deal with these speed bumps (yes, these moments are just speed bumps, not SIG alerts!) are vital.
If you’re trying to lose weight understand that the following are important factors to develop in your life over time:
- Choose the best diet for you.
- You must create time and energy for dieting and exercise.
- Planning and preparing what and when you are going to eat is important.
- Seek support, you can’t always do this alone.
- Deal with setbacks and disappointments along with the wins.
- Believe in yourself and that you can do it.
- Accept the fact that you’ll have to deal with hunger and cravings.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself and give yourself credit.
- If you have emotional eating issues, you may need to seek professional help.
You might not yet know how to implement these things in your life. That’s okay. Don’t jump on a diet right now. Do NOTHING! No false expectations. Don’t make this about fast, “hurry up already” weight loss. This is about lifestyle and learning the process. Creating a lifestyle and forming a set of habits that serve you. Dieting is not a linear process. You’ll find it has ups and downs. Some days are easy and other times, life intervenes. You get busy with something or you may be feeling a ton of stress. You may find yourself straying off the path. That’s okay. Just keep trying. Over time your thinking will change. Take it one day at a time.
For now, get your mind right. I’m not a psychologist, so if you really need professional help in this department, please seek help. What I do hope to accomplish here over time, is to help you learn the skills listed above. Here’s a question for you: of the important factors listed above, which one may be your biggest challenge to develop?
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Lori Hayden Marino