A positive mindset can be a key ingredient to successful weight loss.
When we think about mental health, a few descriptions may come to mind – perhaps you think about emotions, feelings of wellbeing, whether you have a positive mindset, or possibly it’s words such as happiness, positivity, gratitude. You might think of dissatisfaction or even fear, anxiousness, or feelings of hopelessness. And then there are mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
According to the World Health Organization, good mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
If you want to encourage and foster positive mental health, it’s useful to know what this entails. One of the keys for success, especially when it comes to feeling good about your diet and lifestyle choices, is to ask yourself ‘what’s going well?’ and focus on this. Before and throughout your journey to change, you might find yourself engaged in some negative self-talk about food and physical activity choices, but it’s worthwhile trying to focus on the positive. Research shows that the benefits of good mental health include increased learning and productivity, increased social interactions, improved relationships, as well as improved physical health and life expectancy.
When it comes to weight loss, lots of studies have looked at the factors more likely to make you successful. A positive mindset is one. Using specific strategies for changing behaviours is another. With a positive mindset, you’re more likely to follow through with making changes to your day-to-day choices around food and physical activity.
The following strategies can be useful for changing food and physical activity behaviours:
– Manage your environment
– Ask for support
– Plan ahead
– Set goals
How do I manage my environment?
External influences can really impact your success in both helpful and unhelpful ways.
It’s a good idea to look at the foods available to you in your pantry, in your fridge, even in your work environment. Think about the foods you might be tempted to eat that might not help you achieve your goals such as cakes, biscuits, confectionery, salty snacks and chips. Consider whether you could give these foods away or move them somewhere out of sight. Make healthier choices readily available, include fresh fruit, vegetables, reduced fat dairy foods, unsalted nuts and seeds, wholegrains breads and crackers.
What kinds of tools should I use to monitor my habits or monitor change?
If you monitor how much food you eat and how much physical activity you do, you’ll have more awareness of your current habits. Research also shows that it can increase your feelings of responsibility to make healthy choices. Your Jenny Craig menu, a digital app or even just a notebook and pen are all useful ways to self-monitor, it’s just about finding the one right for you. Think about recording the good things as well; what motivates you to maintain your diet and lifestyle changes might range from your weekly weight on the scales, how your clothes are fitting, to overall feelings of wellbeing.
Why should I ask for support from others?
Involving the people around you can help you to create the ideal environment for changing food and physical activity habits. They can even help you with motivation and support to continue to work towards your goals – both when things are going well, and when you need some external encouragement. Ask your trusted people to eat more healthily with you, to exercise with you and help keep you motivated to stay on track. Your Jenny Craig Coach will offer weekly coaching sessions, so you can feel supported throughout your journey.
How will planning ahead help me to manage my weight?
Think about the situations where you might be more likely to eat unhealthy foods, where you might eat more than you intend, or where you simply might not have time to make the choices you hope to. Then make a plan to manage those situations. You could take your own pre-prepared healthy foods, plan a distraction from the foods around you, or make and store extra portions of healthy foods for times when you might be more likely to rely on take away or fast foods. Plan your shopping – write a list and stick to the foods you know will nourish your body, help you to feel good and help you to reach your goals. Schedule in your physical activity – if it’s in your calendar or dairy, complete with a reminder, you’ll be more likely to stay committed to your walk, ride or work out session.
And what about weight loss goals?
When you think about losing weight, or about making any changes to your diet and lifestyle habits, research shows us that it’s good to set goals. Goal setting has been shown to be a key element in helping people regulate their own behaviour and effective for making change. In fact, it is considered fundamental to success.
There is a theory on goal setting which says for goals to make a difference to behaviour, they must be ‘conscious and specific’.
For instance, ‘I will truly consider of my food choices and I will walk for 30 minutes each day in order to lose 7kg over the next 6 months’.
As opposed to ‘I will eat better and lose some weight’.
Behaviour change is enhanced when positive feedback is given about progress towards the goal – so ask those close to you to offer positive words of encouragement. Also use motivational self-talk to show you believe in yourself, and call on your Jenny Craig Coach who will always remind you how great you are doing.
Above all, it’s so important to celebrate the changes you make, congratulate yourself and feel satisfied with the great results you achieve along the way, both big and small. Make a list of personal reasons for losing weight or maintaining the lifestyle changes you achieve. Read this often and remember you are worth this gift to yourself.