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Planning for the future is the best method of weight loss instead of a diet. As a health and exercise blogger, it sometimes nags at those loose strings of mine when someone mentions the word ‘diet’ on numerous occasions on so-called weight loss blogs. It is a word I tend to use on here rarely since it is more than not misused in media today, especially by those looking for a quick-fix to his/her weight and health issues. At no time does a diet help a person whom needs to come around to a healthier lifestyle to correct body and health issues. Now I’m not suggesting some people do not need to loose a few pounds nor am I suggesting everyone in the world is healthy. This is the complete opposite of the truth.

So what does ‘diet’ mean? Well, it is a term that started out with a general meaning of what a person consumes through the mouth. For instance, I live on a diet of only non-animal products or bi-products. It is rich in vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits. This sort of diet is not for weight loss but rather it is what I consume on a daily basis to survive. The term does not constitute that I eat more or less to produce a change in my bodies’ weight.  It does help my appearance but it does not make a person healthy nor does it make a person lose weight.  (If you’ve had a vegan dessert you know what I’m talking about here.)

Why do I have an issue with the term ‘diet’? Well, in media today it is over-digested merely as a method to produce the perfect figure. Image is not everything. God has created each and everyone of us differently and hence we appear different. Many of those whom have lost weight, especially in a short amount of time or under harmful conditions, find mentally their body is not prepared for the change. Many of these people will look in the mirror and see a difference in appearance and wonder who they have turned into. Unfortunately, this lack of self-acknowledgement or identity creates an internal stirring of emotions. A quick-fix weight loss plan does not prepare a person for a new lifestyle that does come with a variety of different emotions.

What type of emotions will a person come across? It really does depend on the person and how involved he/she was in the process of changing his/her method of detoxing the mind. Hence a person should lose weight lose to fully embrace each step of the way and the emotions that come with each pound lost.  Since each person is different I can only talk 100% confidentially of myself however I can tell you that many of us are more similar that it first appears. One common objective that many of us come across is the negative thought process we are taught while young. For instance, how many of us had parents (usually mothers) that dealt with obesity or struggled with losing those ‘last’ few pounds? My own mother, as wonderful as she did bringing up my sister, my foster siblings, foreign exchange students and me, she did struggle with extra unnecessary weight. She was on numerous diets and talked freely of losing a few more pounds. This thought process was then transferred on down to my sister and me. It does not mean she was a bad mother since I’d make a confident guess that many others have been brought up the same way. Some mothers may not express it openly but children have that sixth sense and will carbon copy it into he/her minds.

Secondly, our parents and surrounding family and friends teach us what food is acceptable. Whether we like it or not, we do learn how to eat from our surrounding relationships. For instance, my addiction to high fat ranch salad dressing came from my friends at school. My parents had some sort of red dressing (what was that stuff?) in the household until I was introduced to it by friends at school. After that cultural experience at school, I became addicted. Hence, we learn how to eat not only from our family but others around us. This is why some states or countries with high obesity is such a threat since the culture of food is passed down throughout the generations unless someone breaks the mold. Unfortunately even as healthy as I eat at my own adult home, straying from the ‘meat and potato’ style of upbringing I had, I still have temptations that influence what I eat on a daily basis. Some ‘dieters’ might call these ‘treats’ but I prefer to consider these less than healthy choices part of my new lifestyle since I know I will never give up on things I love. One does not have to deprive oneself of these favorites but rather be aware of these indulgences since one ‘treat’ could become more frequent as times goes by.  Moderation is key – so do not consider food “treats” or “bad choices”.

Hence, a person on a weight loss or gain plan needs to not only work on the external body but also on the internal ways we talk or see ourselves. A person that has lost a lot of weight but has not worked on the inside will most likely fall into a depression and start a slow spiral downwards diminishing everything that he/she has worked so hard in the gym to accomplish.  Why do all the hard work on the outside if not also making a combination of work on the inside?

So what does a person do to help correct the thought process? I like to call this process a ‘mental workout’.  It similar to a weight loss plan of negative thinking and cross checking of how one perceives him/her self and self-worth. If you are in this position, stop thinking of yourself to be on a ‘diet’ but a lifestyle change. Take a long look in the mirror and really look at yourself. What do you see? Do you see someone you love? Do you even recognize the person in the mirror?

1. Try different workouts, even ones that have not worked for you in the past. Your mind changes in a lifestyle renovation and what you used to not enjoy may be something your body/mind needs now. For instance, I used to dislike yoga but then started reading of the changes it takes you physically and mentally. While I used to think of it as boring and a waste of a chance to a good nap, I now think of it as the best method to loosen up my muscles and relax from a hard work week or workout. It is a time to think to myself and reconnect with my inner-self and learn how I am emotionally. Basically I take it as a time to workout my inner image.

2. Lose the scale and reconnect with your mirror. It is fine and dandy when you look at the weight scale and the numbers have gone down or have stayed the same (depending on your current goal) but when you look in the mirror and not know yourself, the numbers are meaningless. Start to look at yourself as a person of great value to the world and appreciate yourself. Compliment yourself and stop looking towards getting compliments or attention from others. If you don’t first love yourself you will have a hard time finding true love in your life. (in friendship and relationships) External compliments are wonderful at first but they will stop some day and you will have to learn to get that self-satisfaction instead.

3. Research health articles and learn what is good for the body mentally and physically. Reading numerous health blogs (such as this one)will help you understand at least the basics of healthy eating for the body such as what to eat and when to eat it. Constantly I hear, ‘my body is different’ so I have to do everything differently than you. This is a generic way to compartmentalize and excuse the fact that the basics of a healthy lifestyle is the same for everyone. For instance, do your research for eating at least three course meals a day. Studies do find eating at least three times a day is the best method of living a healthy lifestyle. Skipping meals because one is ‘not hungry’ is a huge mistake that has been found to be a step back in healthy eating by numerous health studies. Your body may be different as far as how many carbohydrates or calories it needs but the basics are still the same. If you don’t eat, your body will not get the proper amount of nutrients when it needs it and will continue to step into starvation mode. Additionally, eating less than 1,200 calories a day will in the long run prevent your body from functioning properly. Hence, it is a good idea to learn the basics such as these to assure you are doing the best for your body. Knowledge is power and can help you learn how to appreciate what you put in your body as much as what is going on physically on the outside.

4. Fill your life with positive people. This does not mean one has to have people in ones’ life that has to constantly give compliments. It means one should fill up on friends that smile and make you feel happy on a daily basis and will go through your ups and downs. It is common when thinking negatively to fill up on people that have negative attitudes to make ones’ own. When you go through a lifestyle change, your thought process changes so the friends you might have leaned on to share in negative thinking may not be what you need anymore. It’s similar to recovering alcoholics who need to readjust friendships since these people were of your ‘old self’. Positive people to match your new positive attitude is just what you need to keep the positivity flowing in your life, even if you relapse.

5. Professional help may be of assistance. Extreme weight loss can be difficult on the mind and a lot of people can benefit from a little external help. You may have a great relationship with your mother or friend for instance, but, there are things that a professional can bring forth as a person peering into your life that those around you overlook since they know you so well. Remember the people around us mold us culturally into who we are and what we eat, so some outside factors might assist in finding why you feel unhappy with yourself, with others in your life, and why you are in a unhealthy lifestyle pattern. Sometimes people just need to talk to someone that is not biased in any way just to clear out some cobwebs of the mind. Professional help can be a bit pricy but remember you are priceless and worth the mental pampering you deserve to be happy.  Depending on where you live, this professional help might be paid for by your health insurance.

6. Join like-minded forums or support groups in your area. You may be surrounded around positive people but sometimes you need mental support to listen, learn and speak to others that have already gone through the life changing process you are going through right now. It is hard to listen to others’ suggestions on how to help improve your own life but it can make a huge difference long-term. Sometimes we close off our minds to changing the way we live but it is good to listen just in case down the road our opinions change. There are different steps to changing ones life for the better so even if you are not in the stage another person is at, you will most likely reach that stage at some point. Listen, learn and speak out – it will encourage you, move you emotionally and change you for the better.

7. Smile. I’ve written about it numerous times and can not say it enough. Smile! Even if you don’t feel like it, smile since things will turn around and get better. There are always stories online of people that have had another person smile from a distance at them and it has changed that person’s life. The other day I read a story of a person that was thinking of ending his life but then everything changed when someone lent him their smile. He said he turned around and decided to change his life instead.  He was forever thankful to that stranger for making him choice life over death. Sharing a smile is so easy, it may not change your life 100% at the current moment but if you do it long enough, you will find it turns genuine. Sometimes I find I have to tell myself ‘just smile’ halfway through a harsh workout at the gym to find near the end of the workout I’m actually smiling through the pain not because I’m making myself but because I am enjoying the workout instead of thinking of it as physical punishment.

Sometimes small things make huge differences.Hopefully these help all of you make positive changes in your life mentally while you are doing the physical work already.  If you have or are making a lifestyle change, what do you find is the most helpful to upgrade your mental emotions and thinking process?  I’d love to hear your input too in the comments section.