A man with a desperate will to live, overcoming an advanced case of violent cancer, lymphosarcoma [1]. The lady claiming she made a conscious choice to live while fighting Stage 4 lymphoma – and succeeding [1].

A doctor conducting an experiment to find out if arthroscopic surgery is all that effective for knee osteoarthritis, only to find out that placebo, a “fake” surgery, was just as effective as the “real” one – meaning the patients practically healed themselves by believing they’re going to improve [2]. A very similar story about a “fake” chest surgery, where 71% of those undergoing it got better [1].

Is there anything in common between such stories?

They are all perfect illustrations of just how powerful our mind is.

You’ve probably heard something along the lines of “our thoughts are things”, but it seems like only a few of us understand the true meaning behind that. You can believe it or reject the theory, doesn’t matter – life proves that thoughts are capable of shaping our future. This is because your stream of thoughts is nothing else but a part of your rigorous psychological development.

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Just as you train your body, you can train your brain [3], achieving a state often referred to as “wining mentality”. Your state of mind is strongly connected to your emotional state and behaviour [3], which means your perception of reality models your future.

This applies to any aspect of life, weight management included. To truly change your life and achieve weight loss goals within a reasonable timeframe, you will have to work on the processes in your head, focusing on the right thoughts and sharpening your mind.

Today, we’re going to do just that – go through a number of important steps to help you get into the right mindset and reach your destination as soon as possible! By following the 11 steps below, you are setting yourself up for success.

1: Decide what you want.

Yes, here we go again – we’ll never get tired of emphasising that to reach a goal, you need to clearly set the said goal first.

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When it comes to weight loss, a clear goal can make all the difference between wonderful success and complete failure.

However, it’s not good enough to set any goal – it has to be a great one! A useful tool to build your weight management (and any other!) goals is the SMART goal checklist, which is easy to use, effective and clinically validated [4].

Your goals should be:


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For example, “I need to lose a few kilos” is not a great goal, and it won’t help you win. On the contrary, “I want to lose 5 kilos by the end of the month” is a great, realistic example, and working with this goal will likely guide you through the obstacles life throws your way.

2: Know why you want it!

Ok, something we’re about to say may sound a bit odd, but bear with us and listen.

The thing is, you don’t want to lose weight.

You want it because it will help you achieve your ‘true’ underlying goals. It’s kind of like with money – no one wants to own a pile of paper with printed numbers just for the sake of it (unless you’re a passionate collector of foreign currencies, of course). Instead, people are dreaming of unforgettable vacations, new cars and bigger houses – and money is just something easily measurable to give these dreams shape.

Same applies to weight loss! You’ll be much happier and much more motivated along the way if you uncover a true weight loss drive within yourself. Do you want to overcome health issues?

Maybe you can’t wait to wear some of the designs which don’t look so good on you right now? Or would you love to be able to keep up with your children when they’re running around?

Remember, there is no such thing as “wrong” or “bad” motivation – all you need to do is to embrace your values and dreams, and follow them!

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3: Raise The Standards You Set For Yourself.

Discovering your aims and objectives is one thing, but placing them in all the right spots within your mind is a whole different story. In order to make a change, you will have to replace your ‘old’ set of standards with new, higher benchmarks.

Something that may help you here is the concept of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). In case you’re not familiar with the term, NLP is basically a set of rules and techniques for self-improvement and personal development, largely based on working with conscious and subconscious beliefs.

One useful technique NLP incorporates is stating your aims in positive terms. Determine where you’re standing now, but then switch right to where you want to be and what you want to achieve. No self-beating – only bright future!

4: Change The Story You Have Been Telling Yourself

Following up from the previous step, every time you think about your goals and daydream about your future, tell yourself a great, positive story filled with happiness. Although it’s important to acknowledge the past and present, don’t drown in it – instead, focus on what future holds for you.

5: Use Fear To Motivate You.

Fear is a great motivator for a reason: evolutionary, it makes so much sense! Back in the day when dangers were waiting under every bush, and survival was on the daily task list, a sense of fear helped us avoid dangers and get through the day.

Although it’s very unlikely that wild animals are chasing you 24/7, you can still find something to be afraid of. With weight loss, it’s not all that hard, actually – simply think about some of the complications attached to being overweight. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea [5] – and as a result, likely premature death.

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Perhaps, you won’t be able to see your grandchildren. Maybe, you’ll loose the ability to walk the stairs and will need constant assistance. Don’t be afraid to over exaggerate and draw some really gloomy pictures in your head.

Don’t focus on bad stuff for a long time, though. But using this technique every once in a while will definitely give you that extra push.

6: Change Your Strategy

Change is great, but not always easy – and sometimes, our efforts fail.

Let’s imagine you made a commitment to stop reaching for the fridge after midnight. You broke the promise to self once – ok, not a big deal, keep trying. But when subsequent fails come along, trying to stick to Plan A while beating yourself up along the way is simply counter-productive!

Don’t get stuck if something fails to work – move on and change the rules. Yes, you can eat after midnight – but only carrots and celery. How does that sound?

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7: Adjust course as you go.

Following up from the previous tip. measure your progress and change the strategy along the way if needed. Don’t try to create the perfect strategy straight away, this can be extremely limiting!

You can’t always predict exactly how much you’ll lose in a month, but as long as the centimetres are melting, you’re doing something right. Remember – goals can be adjusted. In fact, they will be more often than not – and there is nothing bad in it.

8: Control Your Routine, Dont Let It Control You

A properly designed daily routine is very important, and just like with fear, the reasons are within our evolutionary progress. Routine has a calming effect, creating a sense of stability and eliminating unnecessary stress. What else could you ask for during the weight loss journey?

According to some of the most successful personas out there [6], a successful, uplifting routine consists of the following:

Waking up at a set time (morning shower welcome!)

Having meals at same times every day

Incorporating meditation and relaxation techniques: practise breathing exercise, expressing gratitude, light yoga – anything that helps you feel focused, refreshed and relaxed

Scheduling time slots for physical activity

Going to bed at the same time every day (preferably before midnight)

 

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Nothing too complicated – but structuring your life will really help, trust us.

Whatever happens, take responsibility.

9: Prioritise Now, Procrastinate Later.

While you’re still at the beginning of your journey and full of enthusiasm, it’s a good time to pick up the momentum and start taking massive leaps towards your health and fitness goals, before what you do becomes familiar and, well, less exciting.

There is a very fine line between procrastination and prioritisation, and you’re responsible for staying on the “active” side. As we’ve discussed before, the initial action plan doesn’t have to be perfect – do some initial ground work and start right away!

Adjustments can always be made later on track, so leave excuses behind and start your health journey now, not later.

10: Surround Yourself with Motivational People

Even if you’ve got the best intentions, having the wrong people around can really spoil the game. As a famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

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The start of your journey is the right time to leave all unhealthy, parasitic relationships behind. Nay-sayers won’t be any help, and they won’t be there to support you.

Surround yourself with great, like-minded, inspiring individuals instead! And remember, they don’t need to be perfect already – or ever, really. The people we’re talking about are simply those who spread good vibes, who are positive, happy and are willing to strive for more together!

11: Exchange expectations for gratitude.

As we’ve mentioned above, becoming a more positive person by appreciating the positives in your day to day is far more productive than being let down by unrealistic expectations.

Implementing the gratitude approach is extremely satisfying for a reason! When you’re calm and grateful, your levels of stress are low – which also means lower cortisol levels! Excess of stress hormone cortisol is a number one enemy for those trying to lose weight, as it turns on “the fight-or-flight” response, pushing our body to preserve energy and accumulate fat [7].

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So if more stress means more stubborn excessive kilos, no wonder we’re recommending relaxation and gratitude here… It really does work, as proven by science!

Conclusion

To sum up all we’ve spoken about today, the key to success is to realise you are responsible for your mindset and motivation, and those determine your long-term success!

Remember: you have the inner power to nurture and influence the motivation within you. Sculpt your thoughts in a right way – and you will achieve your goals in no time.

Thank you for taking your time to read this material, and please ask your personal trainer to clarify anything if you still have questions!

References

 

  1. Rankin, L. (2013) “12 Stories To Make You Believe In The Power Of Your Mind To Heal You”. Source: http://themindunleashed.org/2013/12/12-stories-make-believe-power-mind-heal.html
  2. Moseley, J.B., et al (2002) “A Controlled Trial of Arthroscopic Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee”. N Engl J Med 2002; 347:81-88July 11, 2002DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa013259
  3. Afremow, J. “Sports Psychology: Training Your Brain to Win”. Source: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/12/02/sports-psychology-training-your-brain-to-win/
  4. Bowman, J., et al (2015). “The development, content validity and inter-rater reliability of the SMART-Goal Evaluation Method: A standardised method for evaluating clinical goals.” Aust Occup Ther J. 2015 Dec;62(6):420-7. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12218. Epub 2015 Aug 19.
  5. Lee, W.J. (2016). “SY 06-3 ROLE OF SURGICAL TREATMENT OF MORBID OBESITY.” J Hypertens. 2016 Sep;34 Suppl 1:e20. doi: 10.1097/01.hjh.0000499914.36558.af.
  6. Feloni, R. (2015). “Celebrity life coach Tony Robbins describes his intense morning routine”. Business Insider Australia.
  7. Bergland, C. (2013). “Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1.” Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1