Mind and body: Achieve your New Year diet goals

As people begin to consider their New Year resolutions, sticking to the plan is really a case of mind over matter says Martina Gallivan.

We know that a high percentage of people who attempt to lose weight experience self-sabotaging thoughts during the process.

This is a perfectly normal reaction. After-all part of the human psyche is to self-analyse. We tend to experience elements of uncertainty in our own decision-making abilities.

“Personal responsibility means getting back on track immediately and not permitting the mind to disrupt your objective.”

Recently it occurred to me that in order to achieve successful weight management, there really ought to be a personal continual partnership approach between mind and body. Rather like a marriage which has to be continually nurtured. So too does our relationship between what we think and how we act.

In other words, our thoughts influence the decisions we make and ultimately these decisions translate into actions.

Fear of failure

Sabotaging thoughts during the weight loss process are often induced by a fear of failure. A person will occasionally question as to whether their objective can be achieved. And should they manage to achieve their goal, how can they continue to maintain it.

Will achieving the goal bring excess pressures upon the individual such as finding themselves in the spotlight with friends and family? This could give rise to feelings of hesitation and subsequently obstruct the process.

These self-sabotaging thoughts can sometimes draw us into what is called permission giving thoughts. These types of thoughts allow an element of procrastination. A typical permission giving thought could be “I’ll start again next week” or “I’ll make up for it later”. And rather than taking responsibility a person may attempt to find an excuse to delay reality.

Synergy between mind and body

That’s where a synergy between mind and body could help a person overcome these feelings and to continue with the objective. I have spoken before about the linkages between our internal organ systems, but this also applies to mind and body. Food certainly influences our mood, and in reverse mood can be a trigger for the types of foods we choose or are drawn to.

An example of this would be if a person is feeling at a low point, they may turn to chocolate in order to feel better. Alternatively, a stressful day at work could lead into the temptation of having a glass of wine and crackers to alleviate tension. It is the instant gratification of these actions which must be addressed in order to achieve successful weight management.

Oftentimes, people compare weight loss to consuming a heavy dose of castor oil. They just want it over with. This response is counterproductive and it’s highly likely you will drop out of whatever program you are on only to be forced to address your weight again sometime in the future.

Just rewards

Firstly, you have to recognise these self-sabotaging thoughts. We have no power over incoming thoughts however we do have personal power over the decisions we make. And for the purpose of weight loss you must question these thoughts, and ask which path you should take.

Will it be a pathway to give personal permission for you to break your promise of weight loss yet again? Or will you decide to take a completely different pathway which honestly may be difficult initially, but there is no doubt would be more rewarding in the end. 

Secondly, personal responsibility over the foods you’re consuming has to be considered. Quite often it’s the reverse. We feel powerless around food choices and the foods we consume appear to control us. It’s no surprise that foods which contain a high element of sugar will likely take control over your body by spiking blood sugar levels making you crave more of the same.

Therefore, opt for foods which can balance your blood sugars, such as lean protein sources and healthy fats. I am of the opinion there are certain types of foods which can “bite back” if we don’t assert our control over them.

During the weight loss process, mistakes are inevitable however they are by no means the end of the world as long as you’re capable of responding to them. By this I mean not giving personal permission to overeat. Personal responsibility means getting back on track immediately and not permitting the mind to disrupt your objective.

Weight loss can either be as easy or as difficult as we choose it to be. So if you’re about to undertake the journey be aware that should you start the process by resenting all of the nice things you feel you’ll miss out on, rethink your strategy and instead concentrate on the endless advantages that successful weight loss can bring.

Believe me you’ll be far happier, healthier and fulfilled because ultimately it is you who’ll be calling the shots. And personal accountability is always good.  

Martina Gallivan is a nutritionist and director of RK Cardiology Healthy Living Ltd. If you are interested in learning more about health and lifestyle medicine for you or your family contact her at martina@roseville.ie or follow @drrobertkelly

Published: 9 December 2020