Losing Weight - Discourage Discouragement

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One thing we all really understand is that dieting is hard. It isn't just a case of 'not eating so much' or 'showing a little willpower.' Our bodies have been evolving over millions of years into very efficient energy storing machines. There wasn't always as much food as there presently is, so our systems are naturally inclined to want to store up energy whenever they can. When we try to short-circuit that process and control our diets, our bodies often argue with us! We get hunger pangs, fatigue symptoms, and all the other things we've discussed so far.

On top of that we often have others making things harder for us, deliberately or inadvertently, with such advice as 'you don't really need a diet' or 'just one meal out won't hurt you.' With so much in our way, it can be so unfortunately easy to start feeling discouraged. One thing after the other--be it our own body, timing and scheduling, money concerns or our well meaning friends--builds up until we just start telling ourselves that it's too hard, and maybe we'd feel better trying again later.

The thing is, though, these feelings are temporary. Our friends aren't always going to trip us up; as they come to understand our choices, they will start to respect them more and do what they can to help. Our bodies won't always fight us, either. As we get used to our changes in diet, our bodies adapt and stop sending those frustrating signals that cause us so much frustration.

So as an important part of building our strong habits, we need to learn to identify and stop unhealthy criticism and discouragement. Here are four key steps to help you overcome these obstacles and clear the path to your goals.

Step One - Identification

As we've stressed before, the key to control is having good information. To that end, carry around your notebook or journal with you today. Every time you have a discouraging thought, stop and write it down. In another article we discussed the STOP method, so feel free to incorporate this process into your STOP behaviors. After all, good habits build on each other and make each other stronger.

At the same time, make sure you also studiously note down every positive action you find yourself taking during the day. Whether it's a small step like having a healthy granola bar instead of a chocolate or reaching a major goal in a fifteen-day plan, make a note of it alongside your negative actions. Keep these notes together, they'll be important in a bit.

Step Two - Comparison

So the day has come to an end, and you've kept your notes. Now is the time to take a look at them side by side and see just what they look like. Chances are that for most cases, you probably had several good choices for each discouraging thought. When we try to set new goals for ourselves, we often find ourselves trying to compensate for bad choices with several good ones, and this can sometimes happen when we're talking about discouraging thoughts as well.

However, even if your negative thoughts outweighed your good ones for a day, you shouldn't give up. Consider it another goal to set, that for the next day you'll make sure to build up plenty of positive reminders to help offset the negative ones.

Step Three - Qualification

There is a difference between legitimate criticism and unhealthy discouragement. Sometimes we do genuinely mess up, and eat a bit more than we intended. In these cases, it is entirely fine to say to ourselves, 'That didn't go very well, I should do better next time.' But do notice the second part of the phrase, the all-important 'next time.'

Healthy criticism is aimed at keeping us on the right track, and identifying where we've made a mistake so that we don't do it again. Unhealthy discouragement by contrast will very rarely have an uplifting 'next time' message attached. More likely these thoughts will be along the lines of 'you messed up, just like always.'

Take a little time to get some distance from your negative thoughts. Give yourself a day so you have the ability to think clearly and in proper context, and then take a look back at your recent list of discouraging remarks you've made to yourself. Consider each one, and see whether it was just frustration talking or if there might be a grain of truth to it. If the latter case is true, consider how you can rephrase the original thought into a healthy bit of criticism, adding a positive 'next time,' message.

Step Four - Practice

Our emotions come and go in cycles, and they also respond strongly to outside influences. Sometimes we'll be going along just fine, and a bad week at work will lead us to get frustrated with other things, including our diet efforts, and we'll let that discouragement creep in.

At times like this, we have to remember to keep identifying, comparing, and qualifying our negative remarks, until we've traded them entirely in for more appropriate, healthy criticism that we can use to seriously look at our problems and better ourselves.

Discouragement can be our worst enemy, but it is one we can beat with careful effort and a little time. Integrate these four steps into your daily routine to ditch discouraging thoughts and replace them with the healthy, positive habits needed to attain your weight loss goals.

About the Author:

Larry Tobin is the co-creator of http://www.HabitChanger.com/ offering effective and empowering solutions for losing weight. Try our 42-day weight loss program at: http://www.habitchanger.com/losingweight Copyright (c) 2010 Larry Tobin

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