Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Positive Attitude Stays the Course

    Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to personally work with many members of various weight loss organizations.  Through these relationships, I have been given an insider’s view of many ongoing struggles that challenge individuals who constantly work to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

     As everyone knows, weight loss is about much more than just eating less and exercising more.  How a person approaches one of the United States’ most significant health problems for both adults and children goes much deeper.  For anyone with an eye on weight loss, it usually comes down to one question:  Am I motivated to stay the course?

     Sometimes, in order to become fully motivated, it helps to look beyond ourselves to those we care about the most:  our children.  In recent years, health officials have become increasingly alarmed by the rapid increase in obesity among children between the ages of 6–19.  Those in this age group considered obese or at risk of becoming overweight have now reached 38%, placing an unprecedented burden on children’s health.  Given that an estimated 80% of overweight adolescents continue to be obese in adulthood, the implications of childhood obesity on the nation’s health is huge.  The importance of getting obesity under control can’t be overstated.  So, where do we each begin?

     When assessing a healthy goal weight, as important as what you eat is how you think and act.  With the right mental attitude, almost anything is possible. 

     Many times we get frustrated hearing about a positive outlook.  Often this frustration is born from the fact that our attitude is not necessarily good or bad—it lies somewhere in the middle.  If this is the case, we have to take the leap and focus on thinking optimistically, even if it means facing some difficult truths about ourselves.

     Be aware, having a positive outlook consistently probably won’t come naturally.  We live in a world where computers crash, family members get laid off, plumbing backs up, and perhaps even come home to find a letter from the IRS announcing an audit.  Add to that two weeks’ worth of watching what you eat and yet, when you stepped on it this morning, the scale showed you gained a pound.  On days like this, we are more inclined to react negatively than positively.  And that’s completely understandable.  However, on the flip side…if you get a raise, your boss finally okays that two-week vacation and you see movement on the scale in the right direction, you are probably going to have a more optimistic attitude. 

     Examples such as these illustrate how external circumstances can dictate internal responses.  Obviously, many times events are completely out of your control; however, the way you respond is always something you have the ability to be in command of—your internal response is always your own.

     Take control by being accountable.  It's far too easy to blame other people for your weight challenges.  Maybe your family or friends are critical and their behavior drives you to eat.  Perhaps obesity runs in your genes.  You can come up with a thousand reasons as to why you weigh more than you should.  Nonetheless, playing the blame game doesn’t accomplish much.   Be accountable for your situation and take responsibility if you want results.  Nobody is force feeding you that second slice of pizza or requiring you to finish the meal with dessert.  Start taking the measures needed to ensure you have the right attitude to obtain a healthier lifestyle.  The only person who can determine the fate of your overall effort is you.

     In order to get into good physical condition, it’s important to be sure that your mental condition is primed for the challenge.  There will be many occasions when external circumstances aren’t going to make you happy or will discourage you from staying the course.  You may experience times when you have done everything right and the scale doesn’t show progress.  But take heart and keep fighting the good fight, always knowing that you have the capacity to stay in control.  To ensure that your mental outlook endures, consider the following:

     Set realistic goals.  Experts suggest a healthy goal of losing one to two pounds a week.  When your goals are unrealistic, the outcome will most often be disappointing.  Along with disappointment will come negative feelings, which many times lead to negative behavior.

     Change your environment.  When you get a craving, take a walk outside.  Sometimes just being in a different environment will take your mind off the craving.  Plus, you’ll get a little exercise as an added bonus.

     Outsmart stress.  Studies show that stress is a common cause of overeating.  Determine what your stress triggers are and be prepared.  Stressful situations will always occur, and many times they are unavoidable.  Have a plan for dealing with stress other than by overeating.

     Remember that everybody is different.  Just because experts say this and studies show that, you are the only one who knows what it is that triggers you to overeat.  Only when you know the cause can you change the effect. 

     Don’t give up.  Making a mistake does not make you a failure.  When you mess up, learn from it and plan to do better the next day. 

     Stay in touch with your friends and support group.  Accountability is key in weight loss and there is nothing quite like having an encouraging circle of people around you who truly do understand where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to be.

     Make the choice.  So, as you move from one day to the next, remember:  The choice is yours.  Either you can flow with the current, or rise above it.  I can guarantee that when you rise above it, you will see positive changes occurring.  You have the power to do whatever you set your mind to.  Realize, success leads to success and that the little successes, albeit sometimes accompanied by a minor setback or two, will always add up to a big success—a healthier you!