How to Master the Mental Side of Weight LossJul 22, 2021
Note: Reshape Physical Therapy and Wellness evolved into Weight Loss for Health, and finally Zivli. How to Lose Weight After 50 was our first course that eventually grew into Zivli. Some old blog posts or resources mentioned in this episode may have been removed.
Let me tell you a little-known secret about losing weight and getting healthy. It starts between your ears. In your brain. How you think! That’s because your thoughts determine your emotions, your emotions determine your actions, and your actions determine your results.
So if you’ve been trying to lose weight at the results level and are frustrated with a lack of progress or consistency, it’s time to try a different approach.
Listen to This Episode
Your New Weight Loss Litmus Test
Can you imagine how you would feel if you knew your weight loss success was inevitable? What would it be like to never have to go on a diet again?
If you never felt like you had to start again on Monday. If you just lived a healthy, balanced lifestyle? Imagine the mental headspace you’d get back if your weight wasn’t constantly on your mind.
This is possible for you! Living a low insulin lifestyle is the simplest, most powerful way to lose weight, keep it off, increase your energy, reduce food cravings, and improve your health.
When, “How will this affect my insulin?” instead of “How many points or calories does this have?” becomes your new litmus test for whether or not something will help you lose weight….weight loss becomes easier.
Decisions become clearer. And you get better, lasting results. Getting rid of false beliefs - about yourself, and about how weight loss actually works, and changing your limiting thoughts is the first step towards losing weight and reversing insulin resistance.
If you feel like you’ve tried every diet out there and you're waiting for the perfect plan to just tell you what to do, I’m going to challenge you and encourage you to find a plan that helps you learn how to think.
That way you’ll never have to rely on someone else to tell you what to do. You have the knowledge and power to decide for yourself what’s helpful to lose weight and what’s not.
Mental Versus Physical Weight
Maybe you think all this mindset stuff is to woo woo for you.
Just remember that what got you here, won’t get you there. If you’re not happy with your current health status you’re already living your worst case scenario and you have nothing to lose by giving this a shot.
Most weight loss programs don’t address how your limiting thoughts, beliefs, and fears surrounding weight loss will impact your results. Some weight loss programs (my own included) focus on behavior and habit change.
But your willpower and motivation will only last so long. If you can impact your thoughts, and beliefs, the rest of the actions will flow so much easier. I believe that we all have two kinds of weight to lose. Physical, and mental.
If you're struggling to lose weight, you may be focusing on the wrong weight. Mental weight is the brake pedal of weight loss. It's subconscious and sneaky. Most people have lived with the mental weight so long it's their blind side.
Mental weight can be things like, limiting, dysfunctional thoughts; a negative attitude; fear, or another emotion disguised as fear. Mental weight leads to self-sabotage and weight regain.
If you want to lose physical weight and keep it off, you'll have to face your mental weight. This is the hard part of weight loss. It also happens to be my favorite.
Because when you lose the mental weight, your entire life changes. You gain energy, confidence, focus, and clarity. You stop quitting on yourself. The only thing you have to give up to lose your weight is giving up.
Finding & Fixing Your Limiting Weight Loss Thoughts
Let’s talk about a simple exercise I encourage my members to do to master the inner game of weight loss called the CLEAR exercise.
Even if you’re a member and have heard me talk about this before, when was the last time you actually did it? You’ve got to do this inner work to see results. You’re not going to change your thoughts and beliefs just by listening to this, you’ve got to take action my friend.
This exercise will give you a framework, or journal prompt if you will, to sit down and think through your actions in a way that’s productive and helpful. This is not a physical exercise, it’s a mental exercise.
The CLEAR exercise is the easiest way I’ve found to find and fix your limiting thoughts. The best way to use this is to think of a specific time when you ate something that was not in line with your goals, or didn’t do something you said you would do for your health.
Here’s an overview of the CLEAR exercise:
- C stands for circumstance and context. Think about these questions. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? What time is it? What’s the context?
- L stands for line of thought. What were you thinking in the moment? Often it’s hard to stop in the moment, and this post-action reflection can be helpful for when you’re in a similar situation next time.
- E stands for emotions. What are you feeling? What emotions are the natural result of your line of thought. What do you feel viscerally in your body? Tightness in your chest, jaw, or shoulders, shallow breathing. These physical sensations can be helpful to know as well.
- A stands for action. What actions did you take...or not take...as a result?
- R stands for results. What results stemmed from these actions or inactions?
5 Steps to Fixing Your Limiting Thoughts
Step #1 in fixing your limiting thoughts is to find them. And to do that we use the CLEAR exercise.
Step #2 is to find your limiting thought or thoughts that started the cascade of negative emotions and actions. Usually this is pinpointed to just one or two.
Step #3 is to empathize with yourself. This is more reaffirming and positive than negative self-talk. Replace negative self-talk with self-empathy. We are going to stop trying to use shame and guilt to motivate action.
Step #4 is to ask problem solving questions. The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life. Watch the episode for some great examples of questions I used to stop my late-night snacking habit.
Step #5 is to make an implementation intention. This comes from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. And I recommend my members make 1-3 implementation intentions a week to keep working towards those tiny actions that lead to big results.
This goes back to the fact that your brain doesn’t do well with words like don’t or can’t. It needs a clear, doable alternative to the popcorn and chocolate chips.
Here’s a template:
I will (insert behavior) at (insert time) on (insert date) because (insert reason). Or you could use what’s called a habit stacking intention, where you commit to doing your intention right before or after an already existing habit.
The Problem With Most Weight Loss Programs
If you change your thoughts, you will change your actions.
Most weight loss programs do not address your emotions, limiting thoughts, or beliefs at all. They only tell you what actions to take. What to do, not how to think.
And when it comes to your everyday decisions, 90% are made in your subconscious brain. And when you’re working on fixing your limiting thoughts and beliefs, you’re working on changing your subconscious brain that’s responsible for 90% of your decisions you make each day.
That’s really when you’ll start to see more consistent follow-through. This doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s possible and a clear roadmap exists for how to do this. How to embed new positive intentions into your subconscious brain that’s responsible for most of the decisions you make in a day.
I encourage you to actually do this CLEAR exercise in the next 48 hours. Pick a specific circumstance or habit you want to improve, and get to the root cause, the limiting thought or belief that’s preventing you from taking consistent action towards your goal.
Sometimes it takes a few tries before you find what works for you. I recommend keeping your intentions for a full week to give them a shot, then tweaking as necessary.
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