The power of the mind is undoubtedly one of the most untapped potentials in conventional medicine, and it is well accepted in the scientific approach that ‘placebo’ is a real, tangible reaction.
So how can we use our mind to think ourselves thin? Is it possible? Can it really fix a sub-optimal thyroid problem?
Today lets look at how our thinking can assist our wellness and weight loss journey, or how it can backfire on us.
Your brain is powerful
It is the control center for your entire body. The mind-body connection is real and what we think and how we manage stress directly impacts our physical wellbeing and vice versa. Your brain contains about 100 billion neurons (I said BILLION) connected to each other by synapses. These connections are not fixed, they change through our experiences. Synapses change in strength, they can appear and disappear and brand new synapses can even be created! This is known as neuroplasticity, it helps us to learn and adapt. The way we think and the thoughts we have can indeed ‘re-wire’ our brain.
Research published in the Journal of Obesity found that 6 in 10 women in a healthy weight range but thought they were overweight, did become overweight within 10 years. Whilst only 3 in 10 of those with an accurate body image became overweight. This study shows us that having a negative self image can lead to weight gain.
What we think, we become
One explanation for this is that negative self talk can cause an increase in our stress hormones, including cortisol, this can lead to weight gain and difficulties shifting weight. Another explanation is that our actions align with our belief systems. If we believe that we unable to lose weight, that following a treatment plan is too hard, that we have no self control, or we dislike all exercise, then our actions will align with that and we will finish off a whole block of chocolate and we won’t try different types of exercise.
Another study done by the University of Plymouth and Queensland University found that participants who used their imagination and changed their thoughts lost 5 times the amount of weight than those who didn’t. They spent time to fully imagine and embrace their weight loss goals. They spent time thinking about what losing weight would enable them to do, how different their life would be to now. They used all their senses to fully think about what that would look like, sound like, smell like. This technique is called Functional Imagery Training and can be used to strengthen your mind, improve your self control and help you stick to your treatment plan so you achieve your goals.
6 steps to shift the way you think to help achieve your weight loss goals:
1. Show Yourself Love
Change your self-talk. Stop the name calling. Stop the negative thoughts. No more calling yourself fat, stupid, disgusting, lazy or ugly. Write down loving, kind, positive sentences to speak out loud. It may feel a bit silly at first but science shows that you believe your own voice over other peoples. Examples could be:- ‘I love and respect myself’- ‘I am powerful and I make powerful decisions. I have the power to change’- ‘Today I will learn and grow’- ‘I am unique and that is beautiful’.
2. Apply Functional Imagery Training
Close your eyes and use your imagination to think about what it would feel like to achieve your weight loss goals. What does is look like? What does it sound like? What does is smell like? Imagine yourself excited and confident about to go out with your friends, putting on your favourite dress and perfume as the moon shines through your window, expectant that the night will be full of adventure and fun. Imagine yourself playing and laughing with your children in your backyard. The sun is warm, your breath is steady, you feel energetic and free. These are the moments your family will remember forever.
3. Pause Before Reaching For That Extra Snack
Sometimes when we are under stress our first response is to reach for food, and often not the most nutritious types. During these times, before you reach for the 4th TimTam, take 10 deep breaths into your belly through your nose. This activates the limbic system in your brain which immediately strengthens your emotional regulation and willpower. And then ask yourself ‘Why do I want to eat this?’ ‘Am I really hungry?’ ‘Am I actually feeling sad, or bored, or overwhelmed, or tired, or maybe even thirsty?’
4. Try New Things
Have you been avoiding joining a team sport? Or maybe you’ve always been a picky eater? Now is the perfect time to join that touch football team or walking group. It is the perfect time to try new nutritious recipes or order the healthy option from your local café. When we try new things, we can re-wire our brains, change our likes and dislikes, become more confident and make healthier decisions.
5. Provide Your Brain With the Right Nutrients
The neurotransmitters in your brain are made from nutritional constituents so it is essential that you provide your body with the right nutrients for healthy brain functioning and a healthy thought life. Amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, and iodine are all needed for brain health and promote good mental health and mental clarity.
6. Discover the Root Cause
Trying a million different things to lose excess weight and not seeing results is very discouraging and can lead to negative self talk and feelings of hopelessness, which we’ve learnt can cause more weight gain. With the right testing and support you can discover the root cause of your weight gain and get the right treatment for lasting weight loss. There are many physiological reasons why you could be finding it difficult to lose weight. Maybe your thyroid is suboptimal, or you have an estrogen dominance, or maybe high cortisol.
When we use the science to find out why we struggle with weight loss, we can use natural medicine and diet to help you finally lose weight, feel more energetic, and get lasting results.
7. Get help
If you struggle with applying these ideas, or you have but still can’t lose weight, then you need a helping hand from someone who understands and knows how to solve your problem. That starts with booking an appointment!
If you are an existing patient and haven’t had a consult for more than 6 weeks and have hit a plateau, give us a call tomorrow so we can book you in to get you back on track. Weight loss takes team work, and health ‘hiccups’ can arise that need to be addressed and treated along the way. Often your diet approach will also need to be changed to shift the gear metabolically, especially if you have a history of a stagnant metabolism.