Relax, you are are not going to find seven diet tips that include some MLM product (I learned my lesson from Beachbody–trust me on that one), detox juicing, intermittent fasting, cold therapy hacks, or any other bullsh*t that you can find on the market. Go to some other “coaching” website for that.
Nor are you going to find me advocating any weight loss diet regiment because there is no one regiment for everyone. I am not going to take sides in the Paleo vs. Vegan, Raw vs Cooked, Whole Foods vs IIFYM, MyFitnessPal vs. Intuitive Eating. Once again, go to some other “coaching” website for that.
In fact you are not going to get a single tip about fat loss in this whole post.
What I am going to talk about though is that if you want to get anywhere in life, athletics, or health, you have to lose the weight. Not the weight around your waist but the weight between your ears.
Too many people are mentally weighed down. They carry around negative thoughts about themselves and other people, biases, prejudices, misconceptions, assumptions, and FEARS (“False Expectations Appearing Real” to quote the program). All of these unfortunately strong neural pathways weigh you down and hold you back. They are keeping you unhealthy, sick, and trapped.
Want to know the good news though?
It’s possible to lose this weight and once you do your life will be so much better for it. Like any mental or physical task, it is not going to be easy. Cleaning out the mental closets and rewiring the brain especially if you have been thinking those thoughts on repeat for years is tough (1).
How can you do this? This blog would be way too long if I tried to answer that question unfortunately, and sometimes this mental weight needs a certified psychologist or therapist to tackle (which I am not). It is also MUCH EASIER said than done.
However, here is my top 5 things that I do every time my brain gains a little anxious weight:
- Take a deep, mindful breath. This hits the time out button
- Take another one but this time try to extend the inhale just a bit more and control the exhale for equal length
- Take a mental step back (I literally imagine my brain with shoes taking a step back)
- Start observing thoughts. Typically I will start saying something like “this is a waste of time” or worried about what I just ate or not getting my workout in or the race coming up…..and I label these as thoughts. Thought there, thought here, thought there, Oh that’s a thought
- Then I smile at these thoughts (literally), recognize them (“I see you fear/anxiety/worry”) and then I imagine these thoughts drifting away like a piece of paper in the wind. I repeat this for at least a minute. If the thoughts come back (they typically do–those pesky buggers) I just let them be there but not grasp at them. Remember, you’ve stepped back in step 3.
- Remind yourself I am not the only one in the world who is experiencing this. Statistically, there is at least one other person with these same thoughts and emotions right now.
- After about a minute of focusing on the breath and labeling thoughts, I ask myself what is REAL, right now? Try not to add judgements onto the reality or tangle emotions up into the facts. Just state the facts. “The number on the scale has gone up” or “There is a race with a lot of fast runners in it tomorrow” or “There are a lot of people in the auditorium I am going to speak in front of”)
- Ask yourself what is in my control? Then mentally sort thoughts into the controllable box and the uncontrollable box. (Control: I can control my training between now and then, I can follow my race plan, and I can control my effort in the race; Out of my control: how others race, conditions of the race–everyone has to face the same hills and temps). Once you have whittled everything down into those groups focus on the controllables
- Tell yourself, what happens happens and I can and will face it when it does.
- Share if you are willing and able.
That is obviously a very condensed 10 steps but it is a good start to a very lengthy process. The overall key is that there is no perfect way to do this and the whole process is not going to be perfect. You will try to grasp at thoughts, fixate on thoughts, return to the emotions, but the key is to continually come back to the steps.
Overall, if you want lasting change and progress on the outside, you have to start from the inside, face it with confidence, and with one mindful breath at a time.
Sorry for the clickbait title but I hope you came away with less mental weight by the end
We are here to help though as best we can and we are not afraid to say that you need a professional. But it helps to share. Shame thrives in darkness and dies when you shine some light on it. Please seek professional help if you need it. There is no shame in doing so.
- Ressler, Kerry J., and Helen S. Mayberg. “Targeting abnormal neural circuits in mood and anxiety disorders: from the laboratory to the clinic.” Nature Neuroscience, vol. 10, no. 9, 2007, p. 1116+. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com.proxy.queensu.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=queensulaw&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA186690320&sid=summon&asid=7dfe69fc60856b1b685208128df97e19. Accessed 10 July 2017.