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Flipping the switch on negative thoughts

October 3 2018
Anna Davies
By Anna Davies

Flipping the switch on negative thoughts

If you have your eye on your dream weight, it’s a good idea to keep an ear out for negative self-talk—which could affect your weight loss success and overall happiness.

And if you do hear that negative voice, that’s actually a good thing! It’s a sign that you’re paying attention, says Hollie Raynor, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor of nutrition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Recognizing negative thoughts puts you in the best place to make a fix: “So often we’re unaware of the messages our brain is sending us. When we tune in and actually listen, we can press pause, reset, and change the script.” The next time your brain starts sounding like your worst enemy, here’s how to respond.

“What would I say to a friend right now?”
Our brain says things that we would never say to a loved one, notes Raynor. If a friend was feeling down and discouraged, would you encourage them to look at what an amazing friend/worker/person they are? Would you suggest they take a hot bath, go to bed early, and de-stress? Then do the same for you!

“I can have it, if I want it.”
Often, our brain acts as an authoritarian voice that’s trying to deprive us, but if you tell yourself you can have the treat—in moderation—then you take away the power struggle. “For me, a treat isn’t food; the real treat is losing weight or maintaining my weight loss,” says Yvonne Sanders, head of Slimming World USA. “Take the focus off food and put it on to your life.”

“That’s not true.”
Are you worth less because your weight went up? No! Simply saying “That’s not true” (say it out loud if it helps) can help you halt negative thinking in its tracks. “When you do feel discouraged, the most valuable thing you can do is be kind to yourself,” Sanders says. “If you’re stressed out, instead of turning to food, find comfort in other things, such as calling a friend, reading a book, or going for a relaxing stroll.”

On the Slimming World plan, you’ll have your own online Slimming Group filled with members to lean on—they’ve definitely been there, know how you feel, and can share their tips and strategies if ever you feel self-criticism getting you down. “Relying on the support of other members will help set you up for success all the way down to your target weight,” Sanders says.