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Use Your Mind to Slim Your Waist

Use Your Mind to Slim Your Waist

The way to escape the perfect storm of factors that caused your expanded waistline is to change your approach to dieting.

  • Change your surroundings. You need to eat every few hours, so instead of fighting your biology, make it work for you. In practical terms, that means you need to change your environment so you’re less likely to be caught in a storm. Keep fruit in your pantry instead of chips. Meet friends at a juice bar instead of a pancake house. Make it easier to do the right thing. Eliminate temptations in advance so you don’t have to face them when you’re ravaging your pantry.
  • Change your buddy system. If you hang out with an every-day-is-lasagna-day crowd, chances are you’re going to be knee-deep in ricotta without much chance of digging yourself out (except via fork). But if you surround yourself with a let’s-run-a-5K set, bingo, you’re going to be spending more time running around the neighborhood and less time hotfooting it to the convenience store. Does that mean you should ditch any overweight friends? Of course not. But maybe it means you shouldn’t schedule lunch dates with them and should start a weekly hike along the nature trail. Healthy living is as infectious as unhealthy living. And you can decide which bug you want to catch.
  • Change your definition of habits. It’s easy to automatically think that habits are bad and need to be broken (smoking; eating ice cream at 11:00 every night). And that you need to establish new ones (get to the gym every day; chew each bite 20 times). But the formation of good habits and the elimination of bad habits work best when you focus not on formation or elimination, but on substitution. If you need to have a sweet late at night, forget the full-fat ice cream and really savor a piece of dark chocolate. Feel like smoking after you’ve quit? Take a walk instead.
  • Change your power structure. You know who holds all the cards in your food-versus-you relationship? Yep. Tootsie Rolls. Or whatever it is that constantly tempts you and teases you. Without sounding too much like a wrestling-ring announcer, it’s time to change the power structure in this relationship. C’mon, a bag of chips is stronger than you? Feeling powerless over food is a superficial emotion that likely covers up other deeper ones, whether you’re feeling unsure, unsafe, angry, or empty. Start seeking positive power in your life -- whether it’s through spirituality, work, or relationships. That way, you take the power away from the knife and fork and put it back into your heart and soul.

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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