How many times in the past week have you said something unkind to yourself? That your hair didn’t look good, that your makeup was off, that you were too “fat” to do something, that you were tired of feeling sick? The truth is that we’ve all had at least one of these thoughts, and many more that there isn’t space to list here. Why do we do this, and what does it do for us? Can changing our mindsets from negative to positive make a difference?
The term “body shaming” has been in the news a lot lately. With female celebrities, musicians and comedians taking a more public stand about how women’s bodies are shown and talked about, conversations about our bodies are becoming more and more prevalent.
According to Body Shaming.org, body shaming is defined as “inappropriate negative statements and attitudes toward another person’s weight or size. It can also reach into the discrimination against individuals who may be overweight.”
Can we body shame ourselves? Yes, we can, and we often do. Whether we do this as a result of the criticism of others or simply because of our own negative views about ourselves, we spend time looking in the mirror, making comments and finding things we want to improve about our bodies: the bat wings that weren’t there 10 years ago, the little belly that didn’t go away after the baby (or babies) were born. The negative things we tell ourselves reinforce the idea that what we look like is not good enough, and that our appearance is also somehow tied to our worth as an individual.
Negative thinking and weight gain
We all have an internal narrative about what we actually look like and what we think we should look like, but do these thoughts manifest themselves physically? Science says YES.
- Heeding our negative thoughts makes it easier for us to succumb to our cravings and to overeat.
- Negative thoughts lead to depression, which saps our energy and our motivation. It’s hard to be your best self when getting out of bed is a struggle.
- Stress actually increases the amount of cortisol in our systems, which inhibits our ability to burn fat.
- When we feel bad, sad, mad or stressed, we don’t feel well physically or emotionally.
In fact, most doctors will assert that prolonged stress and negativity have adverse effects on a person’s mental and physical state.
The habit of positive thinking
There is great news: YOU can be the person to get yourself back on track. Have you ever heard the old saying “Fake it until you make it?” That can apply to positive thinking, as well. Just like negative thinking, positive thinking is a learned habit. Here are some tips to get you started with a new, more positive mindset:
- Start small: Whether you leave a nice Post-It note on your bathroom mirror or practice a mantra over and over again, little changes here and there can help you take the first steps toward altering your mindset. Pick a few small things that you can change quickly, and stick to them.
- Make it easy: You don’t have to change your entire outlook overnight. Things like writing 3 positive things about yourself a day or vowing to go a whole day without speaking about yourself in a negative way can help you start to transform your brain.
- Encourage yourself: Whether you have your eye on a new pair of shoes, a dinner at your favorite restaurant or tickets to a show you REALLY want to see, setting rewards for accomplishing your goals encourages you to stick to a plan.
- Believe in it: Positive thinking works, but only if you believe that it does. Attempting to embrace a new mindset with the idea that it’s not going to work means you’re setting yourself up for failure.
- Enlist friends: Sometimes, we have a tendency to be the most negative about ourselves during conversation with friends. Tell a friend or friends about your new mindset and see if they want to partner with you. Saying positive things about yourself is wonderful, but hearing those things from a friend is also excellent!
- Don’t give up: You will have days when you hate how your skin looks or the way a dress fits (or doesn’t), but that doesn’t mean you can’t push through the tough times. We all have bad days, and it’s important to remember that good days happen too.
The power of positive thinking for weight loss
Now that we’ve covered body shaming, negative thinking and tips on increasing your happy thoughts, let’s look at HOW your new sunny view can positively impact your weight loss strategy:
- Positive thoughts have been proven to reduce your carb cravings and your desire to overeat.
- Positive thoughts help increase your energy and motivation.
- When you feel good, you are more likely to make healthier choices.
- When you feel good, you are more likely to be more active.
The list goes on and on. Now, repeat after us: I am awesome. I can do this.
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