Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Get the Body You Really Want - Start With Your Thoughts

How do I get the body I really, really want?  This is a question that I have been long asking myself.  Over the years, it has caused me to go on countless diets, follow food plans, eat certain foods, avoid other foods, count calories, and basically emotionally beat myself up.  Like many other women who are constantly dieting, at times I have felt guilt, shame, frustration, and sadness.  I have felt guilty for eating "bad" foods like ice cream (my favorite), cookies, and crackers. I have felt like I haven't had any willpower and questioned why I couldn't follow a simple diet. I always had good intentions and started off well but a week into it I couldn't do it anymore.  I definitely felt like something was wrong with me and that I was failing at this one thing that I had been trying to acheive for years and years and years. Why is that?  I was successful in other areas of my life, so why couldn't I do this?  The more I couldn't do it, the more I wanted to eat.  Why is it that we women  feel like the more that we torture ourselves with guilt and stress and shame, the more we want to eat?

As I became a Life Coach and Nutrition Consultant, I realized that everything I was learning was pointing in the same direction.  When it comes to weight loss and healthy eating, everything always seems to come back to one key concept.  It's not that I didn't have willpower.  It's not that I was a "bad" person for eating "bad" foods.  It's not that I couldn't handle things going on in my life.  It's that I needed a big dose of just one simple, but important thing...Courage.  Courage to step out of my comfort zone when it came to eating - and to stay there.  Courage to create new habits.  Courage to not reach for something sweet when I was stressed, anxious or afraid.  Courage to face the feelings that I was trying to distract myself from.  Courage to stand up for myself like I would stand up for my best friend.  Courage to let myself experience something other than guilt, shame, obsession, or discomfort when I ate. Courage to live in the present and not be defined by the past. Courage to focus on the process, not the outcome.

It all comes down to the COURAGE to change.

Okay, so you may be saying, "I get it.  I get that it is about courage.  But, how do you all of a sudden find the courage?  How do you just decide one day to be courageous?"  That's an excellent question.  I think that what it all comes down to is that you have to have the courage to step out of your comfort zone to THINK and BEHAVE differently.  Because what you intend...becomes your reality.

Let's start with THINK. The one great thing about human minds is that they believe what we tell them.  Completely. Our brains don't distinguish between what is true and what is false when we are talking to ourselves about ourselves.  This is why when you are about to give a big speech, you have probably heard people say to throw your shoulders back and "act as if" you are confident, even if you aren't feeling that way.  "Fake it until you make it."  The reason they say that is because our brains can't distinguish between "acting as if" and really believing it.  Simply put, our brains believe the messages that we play in our heads and takes them ALL as true. So, if you are someone who looks in the mirror and constantly says to yourself "I am fat" or "My thighs are too big" or "I am ugly", unfortunately, our minds trust us and believe what we are saying to ourselves.

However, on the flip side, the good news is that our brains also believe us when we say positive messages to ourselves even if we don't BELIEVE them at the time.  When we say to ourselves "I am beautiful" or "I am attractive" or "I have a strong, healthy body", our brains are listening.  So, the first step to weight loss and getting the body you want is to CHANGE the messages in our brain.  If you find yourself beating yourself up, just stop and immediately say to yourself, "You know, Self, the negative thought  I just had may not be true.  I am actually an attractive person."  You may feel silly doing this because you think you are "lying" to yourself and you don't believe it.  But, it is important to state your message to yourself in the positive. Remember that you are listening to yourself and say "I am beautiful".  If you say "I don't want to be fat", all that our minds hear is the word "fat".  Keep it focused on what you want to achieve.  Why should you do this, especially when you might feel silly or untruthful for saying it?  What I have found to be true is that when you send positive messages to your brain, the Universe automatically will lead you in that direction.  In coaching, we say that you "attract" certain results to yourself because you have put that intention out into the world by thinking it.  Some may be familiar with those who say "what goes around comes around" or know of the recently famous book, "The Secret", but it is all talking about the same concept:  The Principle of Attraction. If you change your thoughts and how you talk to yourself, the rest will follow.  You just have to trust the process.  All it takes is practice and repetition.  Catch yourself every single time you put yourself down and change your internal dialogue so that you are sending loving messages to yourself.  Practice, practice, practice.  Even if you don't believe it yet.  Just do it.

This is the first step.  But, it is an important and critical one.  When you shift the energy in yourself in a positive direction, everything changes. It's a very simple concept, but it takes practice.  Going forward, I will talk more about how Courage = Change, and I will talk more about the BEHAVIOR portion of weight loss.  For now, I will leave you to chew on these THOUGHTS for a while and really digest them.