Can You Really Think Yourself Healthy?

It is a widely known cognitive behavioral principle that our feeling and thoughts drive our actions. Therefore, if you are thinking negative thoughts and feeling upset and distressed, it is most likely going to translate out into negative action. When clients first begin treatment their heads are often filled with such denigrating and self defeating thoughts as “I hate my body.” “I’m so fat and disgusting that no one will ever love me.” Or “I’ll never lose weight, so I might as well just give up now.” These thoughts are accompanied by many feelings like depression, self-loathing, helplessness, and anxiety. The action that typically follows this progression of events is behavior that will comfort and soothe and provide an escape (even if it’s temporary) from these painful feelings and thoughts….Food. Thus, the cycle of overeating begins once more.

What if you could change your thoughts and feelings into something more positive, self accepting, and encouraging that would help you attain your goal of losing weight, feeling good about yourself, and developing a peaceful relationship with food? (I can hear you relaxing already.)

Affirmations are a powerful vehicle for change and can be a useful tool for weight loss and eating mindfully. Mindful eating has to be part of the equation in order to attain a healthy, sustainable weight for a lifetime.

When you think about affirmations what probably comes to mind is that it’s “hokey,” or maybe you have visions of the Al Franken character, Stuart Smalley, from Saturday Night Live’s vignette, Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley in which he infamously said, “I’m good enough, and doggonit, people like me!” Well, stay with me here and try to keep an open mind.

The science behind the success of affirmations is that by consciously changing negative thoughts into positive ones, you can reprogram your unconscious mind. Through the repetition of those positive thoughts, the new positive beliefs become embedded in your unconscious and your behavior can begin to change.

Crafting a powerful, positive affirmation is not difficult but there are a few key elements:

1. Set your intention

First look at your life and determine what you want to change. What is your goal? Start by focusing on one aspect of your life at a time. It can be overwhelming to work on multiple changes at once and this will also dilute your energy and focus.

2. Create a positive statement

Let the affirmation reflect what you want to create even if you don’t believe it 100%. Most importantly, use positive, descriptive, motivating language. Many affirmations begin with the word, “I” and must be written in the present tense as though it is happening right now in this moment.

3. Make it Realistic

In addition to the statement being positive, it must feel doable and instill a sense of hopefulness.

Once written, the affirmation can be utilized in many creative ways.

Through Repetition

Say it with power, confidence, enthusiasm and energy as much as possible-when you wake up, drive in your car, before each meal, at the gym, when you go to sleep at night—the more times the better. Remember positivity engenders more positivity. Envision this process as positive self-hypnosis.

Record it

Either record the affirmation on a CD using your own voice or have a friend do it for you. If you decide to record an affirmation, you may want to include 3 or 4 additional ones that all reinforce the same theme of the original positive message. You can then play the CD in your car on your way to work, listen to it at home or upload it onto your I-Pod and listen to it during the day.

Write it on a Post-It

By writing your affirmation(s) on a post-it, you can then post it or them around your house, in your office space, in your car, and other places that you normally frequent during your day.

Mirror Work

Stand in front of the mirror and make eye contact with yourself and give voice to your affirmation with conviction, positivity, and confidence. By looking at yourself straight in the eye, the message becomes more powerful and meaningful. It further reinforces the belief that feeling good about yourself is within in your power and it comes from within. So take them time to be with yourself in the present moment and mindfully state your affirmation.

Since many of my clients want to lose weight, break free from the diet mentality and the resultant deprivation-bingeing cycle, as well as to learn to love, honor, and respect themselves and their bodies, the following are some suggestions for mindful eating affirmations. Feel free to use them.

Mindful Eating Affirmations

Every day I am getting better and better at making healthy food choices and slowly and mindfully eating foods I love, paying close attention to each bite I take so I stop when comfortably satisfied.

I lose weight naturally and effortlessly by listening to my body and eating according to my physical hunger and stop at the point of satisfaction.

I love and respect my body as it is right now and am successfully progressing along my journey of losing weight and naturally nourishing my body with healthy foods more and more of the time.

I eat food slowly and use all of my senses to truly taste, smell, and fully experience eating mindfully and in so doing; I easily and naturally lose weight and am more open to all the joys of life.

I am free to choose the foods I love that nourish my body and provide me with boundless energy to exercise regularly and appreciate the changes I am making everyday body and mind.

I am an exuberant, magnificent, radiant being, eating just what my body needs to maintain a healthy, sustainable weight.

I trust myself and my body to guide me to eat when I’m physically hungry, stop when comfortably satisfied, and to use my voice to express my feelings and thoughts directly.

So if you’re still not convinced that you can think yourself Healthy, try it. Remember to bring a positive intention to this work and allow yourself to approach it with an open mind, self- compassionate, and all the tenacity you have within you.

How do you get better at anything new that you try?

Practice, practice, practice.