Most weight loss programs include nutrition and exercise guidance, but a key ingredient is often missing. Focusing on the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of your process can offer lasting insight and efficacy into reaching your long term health and weight loss goals. Here are five ways to enhance your weight loss journey and contribute to overall wellness by focusing on the emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions of self.
1. Create a wellness vision.
A wellness vision often takes the form of a written declaration of values, desired outcomes, behaviors and inspirations that communicate a clear picture of what you wish to accomplish. It can also take the form of a collage, poem or other modes of creative expression. A wellness vision allows us to visualize, wonder, and dream about what we desire for our future self.
When we allow our mind to reach into these places and consider our potential, we begin to form a more complete and accurate sense of what we're really seeking.
A wellness vision statement may look like this: I am strong and flexible, both in body and mind. I am 10 pounds lighter and walk with my head held high, with an increased sense of self-esteem. I have a sense of purpose in my life and my daily actions reflect that. I am more comfortable in social situations and in speaking my truth. My primary motivators include an increased sense of energy, positive mood from working out and being able to push myself in each new activity. When I experience challenges, I take them head on and lean on others for support and guidance.
Bringing these dreams and desires to life and giving them energy and vitality help us understand what we're really after in our health and weight loss journey. After our wellness vision is created, we have a clear and concrete pathway to creating appropriate goals to reaching this vision.
2. Practice positive and nurturing self talk.
Imagine if you treated yourself as the precious human you are. Imagine if when you make mistakes or behave imperfectly, you embrace these situations with grace and forgiveness of self. Imagine being your own mini-cheerleader.
The next time your cynical, judgmental, or harsh self starts talking, say hello to it, say no thanks and think instead of your strengths, abilities and successes. A healthy replacement thought may sound like this: Even though I made a mistake, I will keep working towards my goals or I have made mistakes before and learned from them, I can do this in the current moment as well.
Practicing healthy self talk is one of the most impactful ways to influence your behaviors and increase a healthy sense of self.
3. Nurture a spiritual/religious connection.
Many find that connection with a higher power allows them to trust in their life’s journey and find peace even in the most challenging of situations. Connecting and understanding life and your purpose in it through a religious or spiritual connection, is one way to allow yourself to find trust in your process and lean on something greater than yourself when you need help.
For some people this includes going to church, reading a holy book, practicing daily meditations or connecting with nature. It’s not about any specific belief system or approach, it’s about finding and connecting to the very soulful aspects of our existence. Connecting this with your health and weight loss journey, often leads to a greater sense of commitment and persistence when experiencing challenges.
4. Say hello to fear.
Switch your thinking about obstacles and barriers into considering them as opportunities for growth. Instead of dreading these situations and catastrophizing any outcome, think instead of what it would be like to walk up to the fear, say hello, and decide not to feed the fear monster.
Acknowledging fear without giving it power is one of the most useful strategies for overcoming obstacles. Here's an example of what you could say to your fear: Oh, hello fear, thanks for coming and trying to protect me today, but I don’t need you now, I am going to this yoga class to help me feel better and grow as a person. Now please step aside.
Essentially you're challenging what you think of who you are and what you're capable of. Once you break down one wall, your mind continues to open up doors for personal growth and a shift in self-esteem. For example, if I have always wanted to go to a yoga class but have been struck by an intense fear before going I could practice this thought.
5. Practice healthy coping skills.
How many of us tend to eat our feelings? Or say things we don’t mean? Or get lost in a cycle of negative thoughts, which may lead to unhealthy behaviors? Most of us do, because we are human. We do however, have a choice in this, we can slow down, notice our emotions and put effort into taking care of our emotional needs before engaging in a self-defeating or destructive behavior.
Some of my favorite skills to utilize when I’m feeling intense emotions include: listening to music, doing a mindfulness meditation, practicing breathing exercises, engaging in a healthy activity that encourages opposite action of our current state, doing something for others, spending time outdoors, creating art, reading poems, talking to a friend and exercising.
Brainstorming a list for yourself that provides you with realistic options for coping strategies in your life allows for a way to start integrating self awareness and self care, so we don’t end up eating that whole pizza when we had a bad day at work.