If your 2014 goals included weight loss plans, how did you define them? Was it to lose 2, 20 or 200 pounds, followed by exercise more and eat less of something (carbs, gluten, dairy, or animal products)?
For most people, that's how their weight loss resolutions are expressed ... year after year. The same goals, the same action plan and ultimately, the same result. Why is it that people don't succeed with their weight loss goals when it's often the one area they truly desire to change? And the one area they can completely control?
The answer isn't starting with a new diet or exercise plan, although that may be the final outcome. Instead, it's understanding the emotional reason for wanting to lose weight.
Emotions drive our actions.
Emotions hijack intellect.
Emotions are why we do what we do.
We understand the shadow side of negative emotions all too well. We know we shouldn't eat ice-cream, bread or raw vegan treats night after night, but we do it anyway. Often without much thought. Why? To dull, numb or placate a negative emotion. And it works, albeit briefly. Then guilt sets in and we start the self-flagellation. We promise ourselves we'll do better tomorrow. But we don't. We continue to play the same film, becoming increasingly frustrated with ourselves and feeling like a failure.
Or perhaps the negative emotions are more subtle. We're busy and stressed. We justify the bagel for breakfast because we're short on time ... morning after morning. Yet, we get fatter and sicker, damaging our metabolism and slowing our mental acuity in the process.
Our behavior says, I'm not worth taking the time to eat something more nourishing and supportive of my weight loss goals. In short it says, I'm not worth it.
If this statement makes you uncomfortable, breathe out the irritation and just let it sit with you. If you truly want to transform your body, you'll have to prune away at old thoughts and patterns that keep you stuck. And lack of time is the most common excuse. Remember, we all have the same amount of time. How you schedule your day indicates your priorities.
Often, what we don't consider are the positive emotions that emanate from successful weight loss. When I ask my clients why they want to lose weight, they often say, "I just want to feel better."
That's great but not particularly transformational. Wanting to feel better is rarely powerful enough to stop your reaching for the bread basket in the throes of a negative emotional attack.
We need to dig deeper; to get into the rich layers of positive emotions.
1. Visualize yourself at your ideal weight.
How do you look? What does your body look like—your arms, stomach and legs? How do you feel? What is the overriding emotion? Is there a smile on your face? Is there joy, laughter and peace? Do you feel more empowered, more confident, more like the person you know you are? How does your life change?
If you're a woman, it might be: I'm at the beach. I'm in an emerald-colored bikini. My skin is sun-kissed. My legs are toned. I can see the muscle in my arms and I'm wearing beaded jewelry at my wrists. I feel the warmth of the sun on my body and the delicateness of the summer breeze. I can smell coconut oil and the salt from the ocean. I feel blessed. There's a big smile on my face. I'm with my husband/boyfriend and enjoying his company. I'm ecstatic that this is my life.
If you're a man, it might be: I'm walking along the beach. I have a six-pack with strong muscular arms and legs. I'm exuding confidence. I have the charisma of James Bond. I'm powerful and proud of my accomplishments.
These are just examples to make this concept tangible. Find yours and make it work for you.
2. Write your visualization in the present tense and use only positive words.
Feel into the image. Feel into the happiness that comes from being the greatest version of you. Feel the peace that comes from not thinking about food and your weight. Feel the confidence. Feel the harmony that comes from putting on clothes that look really good. Feel the love that comes from creating deeper connections because you're not distracted by erroneous thoughts of rejection because you're carrying too much weight. Feel into life and the way you want it to be.
Because this image is your life. It's yours to have. All the beauty, joy, abundance, power and love. All yours. This is really why you want to lose weight. And it's much more powerful than saying I want to lose X-number of pounds.
So see it, breathe it and feel it. Believe you are this person now (because it's only a matter of time before you are). Radiate confidence and step into the richness of your life. It's waiting for you. And if you need some extra help on your weight loss journey, check out my video course, How To Ditch Sugar.
Dana James is a Columbia University–educated nutritional therapist and founder of Food Coach NYC. She holds her master's in clinical nutrition and is trained in nutrition biochemistry, functional medicine, and cognitive behavioral therapy. She believes that food should be viewed as nourishing, joyful, and fundamental to self-care. Her goal is to help women break their antagonist (and often obsessive) relationship with food and their bodies. She believes that true beauty stems from grace, dignity, and embracing our idiosyncrasies that make us unique and imperfect.
James created the "How to Ditch Sugar" video series for mindbodygreen. Check out the program here: How to Ditch Sugar.
James coaches one on one, runs workshops in NYC and LA, and holds tele-seminars on various topics that help women lead a more beautiful and balanced life. To connect more with James, check out her Instagram account and sign up for her biweekly Sunday-evening emails.