Our weight loss efforts and goals to healthy eating are impacted by our psychological state. That is, if we feel happier and less stressed, we are more likely to eat healthier food. Conversely, high levels of stress, or negatively are linked to overeating and consumption of unhealthy food.
In fact, feelings of optimism have been shown to improve physical well-being and to lower cardiovascular disease.
There also appears to be a bidirectional link with eating healthily and feeling more optimistic. That is, people who eat healthier have improved mood, reduced stress, and lower levels of depression.
However, there can often be negative feelings when embarking on a weight loss journey. This could be:
Starting a weight loss journey with negative feelings or pessimistic views can then impact weight loss efforts.
Positive psychology is an approach that focuses on strengths instead of weaknesses, building the good in life instead of repairing the bad, and enhancing positive experiences in life.
Positive psychology focuses on building up traits like optimism, self-confidence, gratitude, compassion and self-esteem.
By taking some of the concepts of positive psychology and applying them to your weight loss journey you can shift your perspective to one that sees the weight loss journey as a positive.
Activities that show gratitude, that is appreciating the things in our lives have shown to improve psychological well-being including increased life satisfaction, mood, happiness plus show slight effects on depression and anxiety.
Not only that, but healthy adults who engaged in gratitude habits were more likely to make healthier choices.
Each day, either write down, or think about 3 new things you are grateful for. Some ideas might be:
By scanning the world for things we are grateful for, we can retrain our brain to start to see positive patterns.
Journaling is the act of writing down your thoughts and feelings. It acts as a mindful exercise that can help process emotions, reflect on the events of the day and help develop solutions to difficult problems.
Journaling has been shown to have health benefits, with one small study finding improved mood from participants who journaled 3 days per week for 12 weeks. Another study found reduced stress levels for participants who engaged in journaling.
If starting a habit of journaling sounds intimidating, start small and just write 1-2 sentences of the day’s events. You might choose to write in a notebook, on a phone app or on a word document on your computer, whichever feels most comfortable for you.
Meditation is a technique where the mind is focused on a particular object, thought, or activity. It helps improve attention and awareness, and contributes to a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
One systematic review found that mindfulness meditation decreases binge eating and emotional eating behaviour. Another systematic review found that mindfulness based intervention (which includes meditation), was effective in reducing weight among individuals with overweight and obesity.
If you are new to meditation, download a meditation app that has guided beginner meditations. Alternatively, just start by taking ten long, slow, deep breaths periodically during the day.
Positive psychology is based on the idea of identifying and building on personal strengths to build new habits and improve wellbeing. This builds confidence and self-efficacy which are both important when it comes to weight loss.
Start by identifying your strengths and how you might use them to help build healthier habits. Identify your top 5 strengths, and the 5 top health changes you’d like to make.
For example if you know you are creative and enjoy trying new things you might start a habit to try a new healthier habit each week. If you are social and love organising, set up a healthy snack swap with colleagues at work.
At Rosemary Health, weight loss is a team effort. We’ve dedicated a team of qualified doctors, nurses and dietitians to track your health improvements, address any new barriers, and adjust medications as needed. If you’re looking for some extra support in your approach to weight loss, Learn more about our doctor-guided weight loss program here.