11 Mental Tricks for Weight Loss Success from 11 Mental Tricks for Weight Loss Success

11 Mental Tricks for Weight Loss Success

It’s not mentioned often, but successfully losing weight has a lot to do with your mentality. Those already ingrain habits you’re so used to, it’s going to take more than knowing what to do to break them. You know you need to eat right. You know you need to move more. So, what’s next? Here are a few expert-recommended mental tricks you can use to get your head in the weight loss game and successfully reach your goal.

Watch your words.

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“Watch your language,” said Dr. John Mayer, President of the International Sports Professionals Association and author of “Family Fit: Find Your Balance In Life.” For example, he suggested avoiding the word “workout” and swapping if for something that sounds more enjoyable like “activity.” “Or, name the activity itself and say, ‘my run’ or 'my Pilates,’” he said. This can help you view exercise as something you'll look forward to doing, rather than a laborious task to check off your to-do list.

Find creative substitutes.

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Jonathan Alpert, a licensed psychotherapist, executive coach, columnist and author of "Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days," suggested substituting some of your favorite “junk” foods with healthier options that resemble the same texture and taste. Of course, you can still have your favorite treats every now and then, but this trick can help you stick to healthier eating habits on a more regular basis. His examples: try frozen grapes to satisfy a Popsicle craving or eat yogurt with blueberries instead of ice cream. According to Alpert, over time your brain will adjust and learn to enjoy the healthier options, too. 

Use chopsticks or eat with your non-dominant hand.

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Alpert said that either of these approaches can help you take smaller bites and slow down your eating, both habits that are associated with less intake and weight loss. He also suggests using smaller plates, which several studies have shown may help people consume less at meal times.

Serve food away from the table.

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If you serve your food from the stove or the counter, Alpert said, you may be able to lessen the temptation to take second helpings just because the food is right in front of you. He also said that this trick can help you to be more aware of what and how much you’re eating.

Change your motivation.

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“Lose weight because you love yourself and you want to be healthy, not because you think you'll be a better person if you lose 10 pounds,” said Suzanne Heyn, a registered yoga teacher, mindfulness writer and creator of Modern Yogi. “Many lifestyle changes fail. That's because these endeavors fueled by self-dislike easily become torturous. But when you exercise and eat well because it makes you feel good, it becomes joyous and you look forward to it.”

Don't be so hard on yourself.

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“While you may have the best intentions to lose weight, you could be putting unnecessary pressure on yourself,” said Lisa A. Reed, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Lisa Reed Fitness LLC. Too much stress can lead your body to increase the production of a hormone called cortisol, which is associated with an increase in appetite. “Quit dwelling on what you have not accomplished and the big goal and focus on what you will accomplish instead and be in the moment,” Reed suggested. “Stop beating yourself up over a goal not met or a day without exercise or the cupcake you had for someone’s birthday. Just like you do with friends, offer kindness, praise, warmth and positivity. Speak to yourself the same way and commit to offering that same kindness and compassion to yourself.”

Imagine a cheering crowd.

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Need to step up your exercise game? “When exercising, imagine you are doing it in front of a roaring crowd that’s cheering you on,” said Jon Rhodes, a clinical hypnotherapist and creator of HypnoBusters. “Research shows that cheering crowds have a positive effect on your performance. When you imagine this, your subconscious mind believes this is really happening. This increases your adrenalin levels, allowing you to exercise more intensely.” 

Keep a food diary.

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Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian and the lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating says that keeping a food diary can be a key component for successful weight loss. “Most Americans eat about 40 percent more calories than they actually think they do,” she said. “Food diaries help keep us accountable. Many people keep a journal handy and write down everything. Even if you write it down on scrap paper and throw it away, the act of writing it down is about being accountable to you.” Ficek said it’s not just about tracking your food, though. It’s also about keeping tabs on your emotions. “Were you angry, sad or bored? We often focus so much on foods and calories, but our emotions are a huge part of our eating habits,” she explained. “If you make a connection between your emotions and overeating, counseling can be a big help to handling those feelings.”

Focus on one step at a time.

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“When you’re starting a weight loss journey, sometimes it feels like a really long journey. The idea of losing 20 or 50 or 100 or more pounds can feel insurmountable,” said Tim Bauer, a marketing professional who successfully lost 200 pounds in 374 days and who blogs about his health and fitness journey at TinierTim.com .“One thing I love telling people is that I didn’t lose 225 pounds. By breaking my journey into small bite-sized steps, I could mentally celebrate the small victories and just focus on the little battles instead of a giant war. Anybody can eat one healthy meal, get through one workout or lose one pound—just focus on doing that over and over.”

Associate your intentions with positive thoughts.

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“An important part of being happy is having a diet and exercise plan that helps you feel your best,” said Jill Liberman, a former behavior therapist and author of “Choose Happy.”  She explained that one common factor among her clients’ success is attitude. “Our attitude impacts everything. When it comes to exercise what are the first things people think of? Sweat, pain, no time, boring, hard work...right? How about dieting? Deprivation, never works, celery sticks and cottage cheese. The key to everything is in how we look at it.” 

Liberman said that it’s important to change your mindset by focusing on the positives. Associate exercise with things like better health, more energy, improved sleep and an enhanced mood. Steve Siebold, author of “Fat Loser: Mental Toughness Training for Dieters" and "Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People,” added, “Don't look at dieting as drudgery that can only be tolerated for short periods of time. Instead, look at dieting as a strategy for a lifetime to keep you healthy, looking good and feeling great.” 

Stay off of the scale.

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“Your weight can be a mental obstacle while you're working to shed pounds,” said Shane Allen, a certified weight management specialist and sports nutritionist with PersonalTrainerFood.com. He suggested staying off of the scale because if you weigh yourself too often you may constantly feel defeated. “Weight has become a national obsession. People are addicted to the scale. When we diet or work out, we often weigh ourselves multiple times each day. By the third or fourth day, you're confused because your weight has been up and down. You become frustrated, then defeated and then you give up.” 

Allen said that the scale is bad tool for short-term measurement of your progress. Instead, focus on your habits, like eating well and exercising and pay close attention to how your clothes fit. If you’re on the right track, they’ll start to feel looser. “Weight can dramatically fluctuate up and down within a week, day or even minutes,” Allen added. “You can go to the restroom and lose a few pounds, eat and drink during a meal and you will gain a few pounds back. You can retain water and gain a few pounds over the course of a week. Your hormonal status can create bloating and water retention that lasts more than a week. The point is that weight is not directly related to how much fat you have lost or gained.”