By Dr. Ellen Diana, Ph.D., Pscychologist,Co-Author of the Charge Up Your Life Series of books
- Believe that you are a good person just as you are and that your worth is not contingent on being a certain weight or having a certain body type.
- There are many diets to explore. Find a diet which allows you to eat a variety of healthy foods that you enjoy. Avoid diets where you are required to eat foods which you do not enjoy.
- Support yourself while on your diet. Don’t allow yourself to be taken off track. Stay on course.
- Believe that you deserve to live at a healthy weight. Examine all the ways that you undermine yourself and use food to punish yourself for not being perfect.
Stay Present and Notice What Makes You Anxious
- Stay present with your diet every day. Avoid ruminating over past failures or looking apprehensively into the future. Let hope and not fear guide your food choices every day.
- Listen to your body talk. Exercise should not be exhausting and hunger pangs will cause you to revert to earlier unhealthy patterns. Your diet should allow you to eat enough to feel satisfied.
- Keep your need for a healthy diet and lifestyle in perspective. Avoid catastrophizing. Instead, stay present and keep your eye on your goal for healthy weight management.
- Do a body scan daily to release any tension you hold. Tune into your body parts one by one, from head to toe. Breathe deeply into any tense body parts until you feel the tension release.
Appreciate the Person That You Are
- Make a realistic assessment of your body type. What is possible for you to achieve through weight loss? Determine how you can be your best self in this body.
- Notice the parts of your body in which you take pride? Are you lean and muscular? Tall? Hour-glass figure? Notice each part that you are comfortable with.
- Notice the parts of your body that cause shame. Consider when and by whom you’ve been criticized for them. Let go of these negative messages. Take pride in your whole person.
- Tell yourself every day “I may wish that some things about me were different but I accept and appreciate myself as I am.” Notice how making change is easier when you are positive.
Think Kind Thoughts About Yourself
- Think of three people who you consider to be attractive. Find 7 traits, abilities, skills, or talents that you have in common with them. Notice that you are more alike than not.
- Think of three people who you find unattractive. What are the judgments you make about them (and yourself)? These are the fears and judgments that you need to overcome.
- Notice the negative words you use to describe yourself. Turn the volume down on this negativity and turn up the volume on your positive voice. Take pride in all of your many positive qualities.
- Trust your body to know what it needs. Pay attention to your body’s positive voice that directs you to eat the right foods, engage in enjoyable types of exercise, and get enough sleep.
Be Yourself and Notice the Pleaser in You
- Notice when you please someone else at your expense. Stuffing your feelings can often lead to overeating. When this happens, who are you with, what happened, and what were you reluctant to say? Express yourself respectfully and literally stop silencing your feelings with food.
- Where do you feel the most relaxed, calm, and accepted? Spend more time in those situations and with those people, and less time in situations and with people who generate anxiety, sadness, and other bad feelings in you.
- Notice what triggers you to eat irresponsibly. Who are you with? What do they say? What commercials and advertisements send negative messages to you? What are they? What situations bring on feelings of sadness, anxiety, and anger? Avoid them whenever possible.
- Every time you eat or drink, be aware of whether the foods you are eating are healthy. Notice how kindly you treat yourself. Notice when negativity causes you to select foods that will ultimately harm your body. Notice when you deny yourself the rest and exercise you need.
- Notice negative thinking – filtering causes you to magnify your weaknesses and minimize your successes. Celebrate your successes. Focus on what is going right with your diet and not on what is going wrong. Keep a daily journal of everything you did right and enjoyed doing.
- Catastrophizing causes you to give up in despair when one small thing goes wrong, e.g. eating a cookie, taking a second helping even though you’re feeling full. Be aware of what you did, forgive yourself for not being perfect, and get back to the diet. Resilience, overcoming setbacks and moving on, will take you further than an unyielding insistence on perfection.
- Notice when you personalize your difficulties with staying on a diet and think “this only happens to me. I’ll never get it right. I am weak. I can’t succeed”, etc. Recognize that changing a life pattern takes diligence and persistence. It’s difficult but well worth the effort in good health and general well-being. Journal your successes.
- Fear of success causes you to worry about how your life will change and what you will do when you can’t criticize yourself for being overweight. What if you do lose the weight and no longer have to worry about it constantly? Pay attention to the signs of fear of success, and head them off. You can meet the challenge. You can change your life and develop a healthy lifestyle – diet, sleep, and exercise.
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Ellen Diana is a licensed psychologist, co-author of the Charge up Your Life Book Series and certified school psychologist with 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She has published a number of articles in scholarly journals on psychology and education, and co-authored five self-help books in the Charge Up Your Life series. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website www.ellendiana.com