We will continue this week with our short blog series outlining the key “IN-gredients” that we repeatedly observe impacting our clients’ weight loss success. Again, these same factors can help YOU create the ideal “recipe” for weight loss and weight management. We call them “IN-gredients” because the first two letters of each word will begin with “I-N”. So far, we have hit on:
(If you’ve not read those, we encourage you to go back and do that!)
This next one is a VERY important. IN-ternal Dialogue. It’s also been called self-talk, auto suggestion or affirmation. Call it what you want, but you’d better pay attention the loop running in your head.
Before we jump in, we certainly want to acknowledge that, unfortunately, the reality of what we will discuss here is extremely complicated for some individuals and may require significant professional help. So, we do not want to over-simplify this matter in those cases. Nor, do we want to imply that we are psychological professionals. We are not. Yet, for sake of this brief blog and to help the majority of people with whom we are addressing weight management matters, let’s touch on this IN-gredient using some real simple terms and metaphors.
First, whether we realize it or not … like it or not … accept it or not … apply it or not, we each have within ourselves a “mental program” or a “belief system” of who we are, how we respond in situations, what we believe we will get in life and what we think we are capable of. Just like a computer, this is programmed into our mind. It’s like our “mental computer”. Again, we are trying to keep it simple here, but scientist’s call it our Subconscious Mind.
This mental program forms our current attitude and perspective. It generates our thoughts … which create our feelings and moods … which control our actions and reactions … which determine our results … which impact and influence our personality, our self-image and self-esteem.
Taking it out of computer terms, consider a well-known biblical proverb which says:
"As a man thinketh, so is he."
(Of course, that’s not just for men. It applies to women, too!)
Here’s the important point: what goes into our mind and the experiences we have in life all affect our thinking and ultimately define who we become. Our life and what we attract into it – positive and negative – is directed by these things. And, as we are discussing here, these things determine the amount of “success” we have in the various areas of life - personally, professionally, in relationships … and even our weight loss and weight management.
All that being said, there are a few things we must bear in mind when it comes to our “mental computer” or program. Just like with computers (again we are not computer experts AT ALL!) there is a rule at work which says:
Input determines Output.
Our thoughts are formed unconsciously most of the time - without us really even being aware of or tuned into them. And those thoughts are absolutely impacted by what has gone IN to our minds such as our past experiences, our successes and failures, our humiliations and triumphs, by what we read, listen to and watch on TV or social media, and largely by what people do and say to us.
What we are saying here is that our thoughts are impacted and influenced by what goes IN to our mind from the outside world … without us even thinking about them. This is scary! Why?
You would probably agree that there are some lunatics in this world today. Some pessimists. Some judgmental and insecure individuals. Some unrealistic expectations and standards. There’s a lot of negativity going on in the world. A lot of “stinkin thinkin” and gloom-n-doom surround us. Agree?
However, it’s not just the “crazy” folks or blatantly negative circumstances that potentially limit and alter our thinking, our outcomes and our life. Even when we are children we are constantly being affirmed by people of influence. These may be our parents, teachers, coaches, etc. Later in life it may have been a spouse, a boss, friends or co-workers. All are probably well-meaning people. But think about it. There may have been things routinely said or implied that stay with you today. Common ones are:
- You’re not as good as so and so.
- You’re not as thin as your friends.
- You can’t wear certain things.
- You’re always the bigger one in the group.
- You’re not as athletic.
- Our whole family is overweight so you will be too.
For many individuals, there are an endless amount of experiences like these. Some are more obvious, but the multitude of them build over time. There’s a lot of GARBAGE that DOES impact us, our thinking and our mental program. We already said that Input determines Output. So …
“Garbage In gets Garbage Out.”
(or for short: GI-GO)
If we have a bunch of garbage dumped in, it will definitely serve as a contributing factor for less than ideal (or maybe even down right poor) results we may be experiencing in any area of life … including weight loss and weight management.
This may come across as BAD NEWS. However, our message is positive! Our life is formed from the inside out and is a direct reflection of our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. Therefore, we must be consistently aware of this from this point forward. When we are and when we apply some simple steps, this principle can serve us in GOOD ways.
The GOOD NEWS is that our beliefs and thoughts can be controlled and changed. We can alter and improve our feelings, moods, actions and ultimately our results … and life! This applies directly to successful weight loss. Rather than GI-GO, it IS possible to have the term “QI-QO” apply to you.
Quality In gets Quality Out
That’s where IN-ternal Dialogue comes into play. Science has proven that the practice and habit of positive and uplifting self-talk has the potential to “rewire” the way the brain functions. New, better and healthier neural synapses or firing can indeed be achieved. This alters neurochemistry which shifts our responses and outlook. In other words, we re-program our mental computer. This is admittedly a super brief description of a very complicated factor. The point is this: a person’s thoughts and feelings of negativity, limitation and despair CAN be shifted to positivity, optimism and hope. This is a critical IN-gedient for successful weight loss.
Start paying attention. Take an inventory of the things you think or say about yourself. Are you saying things like
- I’m fat.
- I don’t like the way I look.
- It seems hopeless.
- I have too much to lose.
- I’ll never have the body I want.
- It seems impossible.
- It’s just how I am.
- It’s too late to change.
- I just won’t be able to do X anymore.
- I guess I won’t be the type of mother, father or grandparent I was hoping to be.
Ugh! This list goes on and on. It is NOT truth. We urge you to CANCEL this junk! Re-program your mind! If other people said some of those things directly to you, chances are you’d get upset, emotional and not tolerate it. So, why do you allow YOU to say these things to yourself? Do not allow it any longer!
Instead of limiting beliefs and statements, why not take charge and be intentional with your self-talk? The most successful weight loss clients choose to re-program their IN-ternal dialogue. Even though some things may be difficult to say or believe about yourself initially, take time to write and routinely repeat uplifting affirmations. In time a re-wiring and self-belief will begin to happen. Momentum builds. Success ensues. Life changes. Here are some examples of better things to say to yourself:
- I am moving closer every day to my ideal weight.
- Decisions determine destiny. My decisions are strong, smart and sensible.
- I choose wellness and work to live at a healthy weight.
- I am becoming thinner, healthier and happier.
- I am capable of great, grand and terrific things.
- Change is my friend. Challenge is my fuel.
- I am learning from my past and focusing on a healthy future.
- My losing (weight) is really my winning.
- I am taking back control.
- This is my time to flourish.
- I master new habits. As my habits change my life changes.
- I am in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time.
- I am on the right path.
- I trust myself to make the right decisions.
- I understand where I’ve been and love where I’m going.
- I love me!
Don’t those feel better? You can almost sense it just by reading them once. Don’t stop with one read. Keep it up!
A mentor taught us long ago that “Success is all in your head”. What he meant by that statement is exactly what we are talking about here. We strongly believe that health, wellness and weight is all directly impacted by this principle of IN-ternal dialogue. Every “self-help” coach teaches this. Most successful people in any area (including weight loss) have applied it. The bottom line (as well-known blogger Tia Walker puts it) is this:
***“Affirmations are our mental vitamins, providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events and thoughts we experience daily.”*** **• Tia Walker**
It takes encouragement, accountability and personal attention to help most people develop the habit of positive self-talk and affirmation. That’s a part of what we do!