3 Easy Ways to “Think” Off Pounds

Medically reviewed in July 2022

Can you really think your way thin? It’s obviously not that simple, but there are little mind tricks you can use to bolster your efforts to lose weight. Try these smart ways to put your brain to work for you:

1. Imagine Yourself Fitter. You’ve undoubtedly heard about the power of visualization. And when it comes to exercise, an important part of any weight loss program, your imagination can be an effective motivational tool. One small study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2010 found that adults who imagined their future selves -- either as slimmer and fitter or out-of-shape and inactive – were more apt to stick with their exercise routine. So whether it’s hope or fear, choose whichever motivates you to keep moving.

2. Tweak Your Attitude
You may occasionally catch yourself thinking things like, “There must be an easier way,” or “I wish I could have potato chips instead of carrot sticks.” When this happens, cognitive behavioral therapy expert Judith Beck, PhD, author of The Beck Diet Solution, suggests countering those thoughts with an “oh, well” attitude. In other words, say to yourself, “I may not like this, but I’ll accept it, do what I have to do and move on.” A shorter version? “I want the potato chips but I’m going to skip them. Oh, well.”

3. Focus on the Habit, Not the Calories
You’re really not hungry, but that 100-calorie snack is only … 100 calories. Will it bust your calorie count for the day? Not likely. But here’s the problem: When you cave to that urge to nosh, it doesn’t matter if it has 20 calories or 200. Eating when you’re not hungry reinforces the habit of giving in to temptations, according to Beck. Instead of focusing on calorie count, stop and think about why you’re reaching for food. Are you bored or upset? Is it time for your favorite show and you always eat in front of tube? Whatever the trigger, go for a walk, work on a hobby or call a friend --anything that distracts you from feeding a bad food habit.

More On

How Does Negative Self Talk Affect Me?

video

How Does Negative Self Talk Affect Me?
Negative self-talk, or cognitive distortions, can cause someone to sabotage their own weight loss efforts. In this video, psychiatrist Sudeepta Varma,...
Fresh Mushrooms Add Nutrients to Your Meal

article

Fresh Mushrooms Add Nutrients to Your Meal
Here's a simple way to add nutrients while reducing the fat in some of your favorite comfort foods. When you're making lasagna, sloppy joes, chili, or...
14 Easy Ways to Burn 100 Calories

slideshow

14 Easy Ways to Burn 100 Calories
What Can I Do About Excess Skin Because of Weight Loss?

video

What Can I Do About Excess Skin Because of Weight Loss?
Patients with significant weight loss have many options for excess skin removal. Plastic and reconstructive surgeon and Sharecare Advisory Board membe...
How Can I Practice Better Portion Control?

video

How Can I Practice Better Portion Control?
Changing the quality of the foods you eat is an important component in practicing better portion control. In this video, psychologist Brenda Wade, PhD...