How You Can Lose Weight Just By Thinking About It, According To New Study

Best news ever.

Have you ever been told that you’re holding yourself back? It’s actually more common than you realize. People seem to have a problem with constantly putting themselves down and not motivating themselves — especially when it comes to weight loss.

Losing weight for most people is a long, strenuous process. You have your exercising and your dieting, but those two things don’t come easily to everyone.

Some believe they aren’t doing enough, or find that they’re doing too much yet still not seeing the results they’re looking for. Others may not know exactly how to lose weight with lifestyle changes that work in the long-term for them.

Well, according to a new study, you can lose weight just by thinking about it.

No, seriously — according to this the New York Times, a recent study done by the Mind and Body Lab at Stanford University suggests that our beliefs about how much we exercise could heavily influence our health and weight loss.

Apparently, whether or not our beliefs about weight loss are right or wrong, simply changing the way you think about exercise could potentially help you lose the weight more successfully.

Alia Crum, the head of the Mind & Body Lab at Stanford University, and her co-author first conducted their research on the subject by studying 84 female hotel-room attendants. The attendants explained they felt they completed little to no daily exercise, although their work consists of them running around the hotel daily to complete their tasks each day (which of course does count as physical activity).

After their initial interview, the researchers explained to half of the hotel-room attendants that due to their work, they were already meeting or exceeding national recommendations for 30 minutes of daily exercise, and just a month later when the researchers checked back with the same women, they now believed they were exercising more than ever before. What’s more, according to the researchers’ data, all the women went on to lose weight and body fat and even developed lower blood pressure despite not actually exercising more than they had before.

Which means yes — the thought does count.

Crum then decided to conduct a new study with a different co-author and fellow scientist Octavia Zahrt. Together with information from the National Health Interview Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, they researched 61,141 participants who answered questions about whether they felt they exercised more or less than people their age. Many of the participants also wore accelerometers to help track their daily physical activity. Crum and Zahrt then linked their samples to data from the National Death Index, and the results were shocking.

In an interview with NPR Crum stated that “individuals who thought they were less active than other people their age were more likely to die, regardless of health status, body mass index, and so on.”

Basically, it all goes back to your mindset. If you think negatively about your health, you’re more likely to indulge in unhealthy habits that can obviously put a damper on your life. But if you choose to think positively and believe in yourself, you can, in fact,t lose weight and live a healthier and happier life.

​​Brittany White is a 26-year-old Journalism Major from Orlando, Florida who has been interning for YourTango since early 2016.

EVER vowed to lose weight but given up after a week because you’re just not motivated?

We all know that the key to weight loss is to eat less and move more, but actually doing so can be nigh-on impossible.

6 Weight loss is hard because staying motivated is so difficultCredit: Getty – Contributor

And that’s why experts are increasingly starting to come round to the belief that our minds are almost an equally crucial part of the weight loss puzzle.

In fact, a new study has suggested that simply visualising your goal weight could help to boost weight loss by as much as five times.

Scientists from the University of Plymouth have been examining the role of “motivational intervention” in aiding weight loss efforts.

They compared a talking therapy called motivational interviewing (MI) with a new kind of therapy called functional imagery training (FIT).

6 A new type of talking therapy, however, might be the key to keeping on trackCredit: Getty – Contributor

In MI, you receive counselling while on a weight loss programme that allows you to talk about what’s motivating you to change (i.e shedding excess fat).

What is FIT?

FIT is a coaching method that teaches dieters how to fully visualise – in as realistic a way as possible – achieving their weight loss goal, and what that would allow them to do or experience that they don’t already do or experience at their current weight.

The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, looked at 141 people with body mass indexes of at least 25 (which is “overweight”).

Fifty-five volunteers underwent MI and 59 had FIT, each participating in two sessions of the therapy assigned to them – one face-to-face and one on the phone.

How to lose weight with FIT

FIT is all about accessing your senses and visualising long-term change

  • Ask yourself what you would be able to do and experience post-weight loss that you can’t do now
  • Imagine what having lost weight will feel like
  • Think of smells, sounds, tastes that you associate with being slimmer
  • Keep a journal of your visualisations
  • Make sure that you schedule time at the same time every week to revisit and strengthen these ideas

They then received follow-ups every couple of weeks for a period of three months, and then once per month for another three months.

Scientists found that those who received FIT lost five times more weight on average as those who had MI.

And more specifically, the FIT dieters lost an average of 4.11kg compared to just 0.74kg in the MI group, and lost 4.3cm more around their waists over six months than the MI participants.

Even after the study had finished, FIT dieters reported still losing excess weight. After 12 months, they had lost 6.44kg on average, while the MI group lost even less than they did in the beginning.

The study’s lead, Dr Linda Solbrig, said: “Most people agree that in order to lose weight, you need to eat less and exercise more, but in many cases, people simply aren’t motivated enough to heed this advice — however much they might agree with it.

6 We all know that you need to eat less and move more to lose weight, but the mind also plays a huge roleCredit: Getty – Contributor

“So FIT comes in with the key aim of encouraging someone to come up with their own imagery of what change might look and feel like to them, how it might be achieved and kept up, even when challenges arise.

“It’s fantastic that people lost significantly more weight on this intervention, as, unlike most studies, it provided no diet/physical activity advice or education,” said Dr Solbrig.

“People were completely free in their choices and supported in what they wanted to do, not what a regimen prescribed.”

So what makes FIT so effective?

While both techniques foster a positive mindset, FIT is more effective because it’s more multi-sensory.

6 FIT is all about visualisation – visualising how a goal will taste, smell, feel, look, sound likeCredit: Getty – Contributor

Experts believe that by getting people to imagine everything about their improved experiences following weight loss – including how things might look, feel, taste, smell, they’re better able to make it a reality.

“We started with taking people through an exercise about a lemon ,” said Dr Solbrig.

“We asked them to imagine seeing it, touching it, juicing it, drinking the juice, and juice accidentally squirting in their eye, to emphasise how emotional and tight to our physical sensations imagery is.

“From there we are able to encourage them to fully imagine and embrace their own goals.

6 What will losing weight enable you to do? What would those experiences feel like?Credit: Getty – Contributor

“Not just ‘imagine how good it would be to lose weight’ but, for example, ‘What would losing weight enable you to do that you can’t do now?

“What would that like?’ and encourage them to use all of their senses.”

And that technique is thought to be particularly effective with people who find it really hard to keep up their motivation for losing weight.

According to the University of Plymouth, FIT teaches people “new ways of thinking about their immediate future to help them stay motivated as they achieve each small step towards their goal”.

It’s a way of getting people to live more healthily because they want to, rather than because they feel they have to.

It differs from more traditional counselling techniques by getting people to think of vivid mental imagery at every step, and teaching people how they can apply motivation imagery using various cues.

“FIT is based on two decades of research showing that mental imagery is more strongly emotionally charged than other types of thought,” the uni said.

“Mental imagery is what gives drug cravings their dominance over other thoughts, but it can also be what makes us work successfully towards a new goal despite obstacles.

“FIT blends person-centred counselling with tailored imagery exercises to strengthen motivation. It builds desire and self-efficacy for behaviours that will help the individual reach their goal.”

And the uni – which teaches course in the therapy – says that it can be used to treat a range of conditions, including changing eating habits and treating alcohol issues.

Plymouth says that it’s something taught to fitness coaches, psychologists dieticians and healthcare professionals, rather than individuals.

How to do DIY FIT

It’s worth saying that the study focuses on professional therapists dishing out this treatment, so if you really want to reap the benefits, you might have to find a therapist who is qualified in it (not an easy task).

But you could start by trying to adopt a couple of simple habits to add to your existing weight loss plan (you definitely need to be willing to eat better and exercise for this to work!).

Visualise your future
Spend a good 20 minutes really thinking about how losing weight would improve your life.

6 We already know that our brains can burn the equivalent of a cheeseburger through thinkingCredit: Getty – Contributor

Write down how you’d like to look like, what the clothes you’d like to fit into would feel like to touch, how being able to jog without struggling would feel, how the environment would smell if you went on a body confident beach holiday, what smells you associate with being healthy.

Set aside 15 minutes at the same time every week
Carve out a window of time once a week to evaluate where you’re at and to really think about the goals you’ve set in place. Reimagine how you want to feel.

Set an alarm on your phone to remind you of that habit.
Tap into each sense, one after the after.

How does fresh, healthy food taste? How does being fitter feel? How do properly fitting clothes look? What smells are associated with being healthier?

It’ll probably take some time to get into the swing of things but hey, it’s got to be worth a try.


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Last week, we reported that you do actually burn calories when you’re thinking and that the harder you ponder, the most energy you consume.

In fact, our brains burn the equivalent of a McDonald’s cheeseburger (330kcals) a day.

So it makes sense that if you couple your weight loss programme with some deep positive thinking and visualisation, you’ll be set for some real fat-burning potential.

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Want to lose weight? Put your brain on a diet.

Jeff Stibel Special to USA TODAY Published 7:00 AM EST Jan 16, 2018

There are plenty of things I do that annoy my wife. The one thing that drives her bonkers is the way I eat. I am a virtual garbage disposal and regularly clean plate after plate at every meal. I try to eat well, but whatever I consume, it is typically in large quantities.

While I am sure my wife is concerned with my health, that isn’t what annoys her. Rather, it’s the fact that I never gain weight. Call it good genes, a high metabolism, my kinetic personality, my active lifestyle, or a secret tapeworm named Bob. Whatever the reason, I stay lean.

If you disregarded my advice in my last column telling you not to make a New Year’s resolution, I bet that you resolved to lose weight. It’s the No. 1 New Year’s resolution — and it is also the No. 1 failed resolution. I’m not one to hold a grudge, so let me help you with some ways to work with your brain instead of against your gut.

We simply eat too much, and it’s our brains, not our stomachs, that often are to blame. You may think we eat because our stomachs start growling. That’s true on occasion. But there are many other reasons why we eat.

Why we eat

We eat because we had a bad day, because we’re celebrating, because we’re bored, because we just woke up, because it’s noon, because it’s 7 p.m., because we have restaurant reservations, because we’re offered something and want to be polite, because we’re offered something that looks like it tastes good, and even because we’re offered something we think is healthy. Those are just some reasons, and none have much to do with actual hunger.

Studies have shown that when we eat, what we eat and how much we eat most often is determined by outside factors. There are the obvious ones, like eating because other people around us are eating. But there are also less obvious reasons that have been proven to increase our girth and appetite: for example, the size of our plates, the color contrast between our food and our plates and which commercials come on television while we’re eating. The key to eating less without going hungry, it turns out, isn’t to control your hunger; rather, it’s to control all the things that are unrelated to your hunger.

Here are three reasons your brain will trick you into overeating and how to counteract them:

1. Your brain responds to the sight of food.

Take a look around: What’s on your desk or counter? Your brain wants to eat what it sees, so put away all but the healthiest foods. If you must leave out those pesky candies, put them in a jar with a lid. My friend and Duke psychologist Dan Ariely had Google place all of their office M&Ms in closed jars and the amount consumed dropped by 3 million candies per month. At both our Dun & Bradstreet and Bryant Stibel offices, we have jellybeans that are placed in re-sealable light bulbs (cool, inspirational and slightly more healthy).

If your break room at work is full of baked goods, stay out. Don’t sit where you can see people eating. Your brain will normalize that behavior, and you’ll find yourself doing it too. Similarly, unless you’re my wife, don’t eat with people like me — you are more likely to gorge if you are eating with a garbage disposal.

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2. Turn off your brain and focus on your food

Once you start eating, enjoy it. Make food the purpose of your meal. If you are doing work or watching TV, you will be distracted and your brain won’t get the gratification it is looking for from your meal. For the past 10 years, I have insisted that people go out to lunch at work. Go to a park or find a nice restaurant, relax and enjoy the company of others. There are two advantages to not working while eating: you eat less, and you come back more refreshed. No matter what you eat, numerous studies have shown that if you do it while distracted, you’ll eat more.

3. Your brain is impulsive when it comes to food

When animals see food, they eat. It’s automatic. Humans are evolutionarily hardwired the same way. If you go to a social event where food is served, your brain will take in all the cues around you (social, visual, olfactory) and inevitably conclude that you should mindlessly graze at the buffet.

There are some simple tips that can help you counteract that urge that sound ridiculous, but they really work. Studies have shown that you eat less when your back is to food, you eat less the farther away you sit from the buffet, you eat less the longer you wait to start eating and you eat less if you first look at all of the food available to you before diving in. Basically, physical barriers redefine your mental predilections.

There are plenty of ways to lose weight, but they often mean exercising and extraordinary willpower — and that’s why a lot of weight loss plans at first succeed, and then fail. It is far easier, and far more effective, to work with your brain and eliminate mindless eating.

Jeff Stibel is vice chairman of Dun & Bradstreet, a partner of Bryant Stibel and an entrepreneur who also happens to be a brain scientist. He is the USA TODAY bestselling author of Breakpoint and Wired for Thought. Follow him on Twitter at @stibel.

Jeff Stibel is vice chairman of Dun & Bradstreet, a partner of Bryant Stibel and an entrepreneur who also happens to be a brain scientist. He is the USA TODAY bestselling author of Breakpoint and Wired for Thought. Jeff Stibel Published 7:00 AM EST Jan 16, 2018


Aaron BleyaertFollow Feb 7, 2015 · 8 min read

I’ve spent the past year losing 80 lbs and getting in shape. A lot of people have been asking me how I did it; specifics like what diet I was on, how many times a week I worked out, etc etc. So I thought I’d just answer everyone’s questions by giving you guys step by step instructions on how you can achieve everything I have… IN JUST 4 EASY STEPS! Ready? Here we go!!!

This is a big one, and one that you’ve probably heard before. Every time you drink a beer, it’s like eating seven slices of bread. That’s a lot of bread!

This is especially true when you go out to eat at restaurants. A good trick to do is when your meal comes, cut it in half and right away ask for a takeout container, so that you can save the rest for later — and even better, if you start your meal out right by ordering lean meats and veggies, you’ll slim down in no time!

And not just broken; shattered. Into itsy bitsy tiny little pieces, by a girl who never loved you and never will. Join the gym at your work. Start going to the gym regularly, and even though you don’t know that much about exercise and you’re way too weak to do pretty much anything but lift 5 lb weights and use the elliptical machines with the old people, do it until your sweat makes a puddle on the floor. Then go home and go to bed early and the next day do it again. And then again. And then again.

Listen to stories of your ex-girlfriend fucking around with gross and terrible people, stories from your friends who think they are doing you a favor. Go to the gym and make more puddles of sweat. Buy books. Learn about different muscle groups and how they work together. Start eating healthy. Learn about nutrition. Plan out your week of meals. Try to forget her.

After work one night, go up up up all the way to the top floor of the parking garage and walk all the way to the back. Look out at the twinkling lights of the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles and think about how every single one of those office lights represents a person. Try to imagine how they feel. What they’re doing right then; if they miss someone special, if they wonder if someone special misses them. Then realize that most of those lights are probably shining into offices with no one in them except for a custodian or two. Realize you are alone, that you are staring at no one. Turn your collar up against the cold and drive home to a meal of a single chicken breast and steamed vegetables. Go to sleep. Go back to work. Go to the gym. Sweat.

Buy a scale. Pick a goal weight. Imagine the goal weight as a shining beacon on a hill. You are at the bottom, in the dark. Talk to her at work. Notice the awkward way she walks in high heels and her goofy smile when she looks over at you. Feel something clench inside your chest. Think about the gym and what muscle groups you are going to work that night.

Get on the treadmill. Push yourself to level 3, then level 4. Then 6. Run so fast you feel like you are going to die. Hit level 10. Pray for death. Think of how bad she makes you feel. Find the strength to keep going.

Late one night, make the mistake of looking at her Facebook and Instagram posts. Feel lower than you ever thought possible. Unfriend her and try to forget what you’ve seen. She is doing things with other people that you asked her to do with you. She is having a great time without you, and you are wasting your life listening to Taylor Swift on repeat and making sweat puddles on a gym floor.

Watch as your life shrinks down to four things: 1.) work, 2.) the gym, 3.) the food you eat, 4.) sleep. She wears the necklace you bought her and tells you that she got it “from someone who’s really special”. That night you discover that Slayer’s “Angel of Death” might be the perfect song to do squats to.

Start to make friends at the gym. Vince and you spot each other on Wednesdays; Chase and you spot each other on Fridays. You used to look down on bro nods and fist bumps — but since that’s how gym rats communicate, that’s become the language you speak most often. Work, Gym, Food, Sleep. Over and over. More sweat puddles. More fist bumps. You run hundreds of miles and lift thousands of pounds.

You start to see new people working out here and there and you realize you have done something you once thought impossible: You have become one of the regulars. Once in a while, you are the last one leaving the gym. You make a point to get to the gym earlier, but your workouts start to stretch from one hour to ninety minutes to two hours. You are now routinely the last person at the gym. You run. You lift. You make more puddles.

Your body changes slowly, then all at once — you are suddenly thin and muscular. You hit your goal weight, pick a new one, then hit it again. You go out and buy new clothes. You receive wave after wave of compliments. Your ex tells you that she’s seeing someone else. Your chest clenches. You feel exhausted.

That night you go to the gym. You listen to all her favorite songs. You run farther and lift more than you thought your body was capable of. It is a good workout. It leaves you numb. You go home and eat a single chicken breast and steamed vegetables. You go to sleep. You dream of a bottomless black puddle.

You’ve stopped drinking alcohol months ago, so now when you hang out at bars or parties you don’t talk to anyone new. But with your new body and new clothes, gorgeous women hit on you constantly. One time, a woman literally comes up to you and says she thinks you’d be good in bed and hands you a napkin with her number on it. As she is talking to you, her hand resting on your chest inside your shirt, all you can think of is how badly you need to beat your best time sprinting across the park across from your house the next day. That night when you get home you research the best shoes for trail running and click “buy”. The shoes are a hundred dollars. The phone number goes in the trash.

There is a girl you see a lot at the gym, who always does these weird leg exercises you’ve never seen before. She’s beautiful. You make it a point to not look at her — because you are overly worried about looking creepy like that guy in the blue shirt who never wears underwear and always hangs around the lat pulldown machine — but you notice this girl is always at the gym when you are, and seems to always choose the bench next to you. You turn up the Slayer and concentrate on making your puddles bigger.

Your ex parades her new boyfriend around, flatly ignoring you the entire time. He is taller than you, more ripped than you, better looking than you, and — according to the Greek chorus of your mutual friends — he comes from money. As you watch her introduce him to everyone but you, you remember how her blue eyes lit up underneath the ferris wheel on her birthday when you gave her those bracelets she’s wearing. In your pocket, your hand makes itself into a fist.

That night, you deadlift your body weight. You sneak a photo of yourself in the mirror and email it to yourself with the subject heading “You Are A Warrior”. The next day you are disgusted with yourself and delete it.

You make puddle after puddle after puddle and eat single chicken breasts and work and sleep and the weather gets warm and then gets cold and you know all of Taylor Swift’s songs by heart and the only things that exist in the entire universe are you and The Gym and then something different happens: a night comes where you are not the last person in the gym.

It is you and the girl who does the weird leg exercises. You end up walking out at the same time.

Her name is Melissa and she works in the building next to you. She’s worked there for two years. She asks you out to dinner on Friday, promising it’ll be healthy. The leg exercises are Pivoting Curtsy Lunges.

You start seeing Melissa a lot, both inside the gym and out. You tell no one. You add a couple cheat days to your week — for when you two get dinner and share dessert — and you start getting a lot less sleep. You phase out Slayer in favor of Springsteen. Vince and Chase note that you’ve stopped looking like you’re praying for death when you run. Your ex texts you late at night to ask you out to coffee, but you don’t write her back. You can’t remember the last time you fantasized about puddles.

One night you’re walking Melissa to her car in the parking garage and she is parked up up up all the way on the top floor. She says she wants to show you something and she takes your hand and leads you all the way to the back. You both stand there in the dark looking out over the twinkling lights of the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” She says. “All those lights.”

You tell her that yes, it’s beautiful, but it makes you sad. All those pretty lights mean nothing; they’re just shining into cold lonely offices with nobody in them. Melissa squeezes your hand and says yes, each light is an empty office — but they’re only empty because the people have all gone home for the day. All those twinkling lights aren’t sad; each one is a person who’s at home, happy with the one they love. And how romantic is that?

You look at her in the lights and she smiles. Something in your chest expands.

Late one Sunday afternoon you are writing out your rent check and realize it’s been exactly a year since you started working out. You think of all those miles you’ve run and those pounds you’ve lifted and chicken you’ve eaten and puddles you’ve made. It doesn’t seem that bad. You realize that it’s not about hitting a goal weight, or lifting a weight. It’s about being able to wait. Waiting, being patient, and trusting that life will slowly inch along and things will eventually get better. After all, change takes time.

But time is all it takes.

Too much sugar!!!

4 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight

Forget the weight loss myths you’ve heard. Try incorporating these 4 easy, healthy ways to lose weight into your daily routine.

Diet advice is like a game of Telephone. It starts out straight­forward, but after it’s circulated for a while the once seemingly solid advice is so twisted it can hinder your weight-loss efforts. Toss that convoluted advice, update your strategy and watch the numbers on the scale drop.

-Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.

Watch: Limit These 6 Foods for a Clean Diet

Myth 1: More exercise yields more weight lost.

Logging too many hours at the gym actually yields diminishing returns. Researchers put 61 slightly overweight men (who didn’t already work out) in one of three groups: a group that didn’t exercise, one that worked out for 30 minutes a day and another that hoofed it for an hour daily. None of the men were dieting. After three months, the couch-potato group-not surprisingly-didn’t drop a pound. But the 30-minute exercisers shed about 8 pounds versus only 6 for those who sweated it out twice as long. Too much treadmill time can backfire in two ways, say researchers: our bodies tell us to gobble more food to make up for what we’ve burned and we instinctively move less later on to conserve energy.

A smarter strategy: Shoot for daily half-hour sweat sessions at a high intensity.

Myth 2: To successfully diet, it’s all or nothing.

Forget those dramatic diet shake-ups. You’re better off making tiny adjustments that you can permanently adopt, research reveals. Volunteers in an online healthy-eating challenge were given easy-to-implement tips (“Drink 8 cups of water a day” or “Only snack at the kitchen table”). Those who followed the tips for more than 25 days a month had more success slimming down than those who complied less often. “Making small, consistent changes fits more easily into people’s routines ,” says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., EatingWell­ advisor and professor of marketing at Cornell University.

A smarter strategy: Make one small tweak a month. And program a daily reminder into your phone.

Pictured Recipe: Guacamole-Stuffed Eggs

Myth 3: Healthy snacks are a must.

Not in the morning. A 2011 Journal of the American Dietetic Association study found that dieters who didn’t snack between breakfast and lunch lost nearly 5 percent more weight (an average of 7 1/2 more pounds) over a year than morning snackers. Since breakfast and lunch can be only a few hours apart, researchers suspect that most a.m. snacks are fueled out of habit rather than hunger-and generally amount to mindless eating.

A smarter strategy: Skip the morning snack, unless you have to go more than four hours until lunch. Choose a snack that’s satisfying: one that includes protein, fiber-rich carbs and a little fat, such as an apple with peanut or almond butter or a corn tortilla with a slice of low-fat cheese.

Related: Try one our 100-Calorie Snacks if hunger strikes in the afternoon.

Myth 4: Thin models are inspiring.

That skinny, bikini-clad celeb taped to your fridge is probably working against you. When Dutch researchers gave 42 women in a weight-loss program a food journal to fill out, those whose journals sported a picture of a “normal” weight model on the cover lost weight while those with a picture of a super-skinny model didn’t. “Constant exposure to a very skinny model gives dieters the feeling that they won’t be able to reach their goal,” says lead researcher Anne Klesse, assistant professor of marketing at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. “If they think they can’t reach their goal, it might seem worthless to try.”

A smarter strategy: Use a picture of yourself when you were at a healthy weight-or pick a realistic role model-for inspiration.

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Have you ever asked yourself how people lose weight and manage to keep it off?

You are thinking losing weight and staying fit is a matter of genetics, metabolism, and the willpower to change one’s habits. Although those things play a part in losing weight, building muscle, and improving one’s general health, the most important component to change happens in your brain.

The two stimuli that cause a person to take action

According to Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken The Giant Within, human beings are motivated to take action by two things: pain and pleasure.

We do the things we do to move from pain to pleasure.

That can be eating, sleeping, finding a partner in life, quitting a job you hate, drinking, smoking or gambling.

We associate eating with pleasure because it removes the pain of hunger.

See Also: 8 Bad Food Habits That are Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals

We sleep to give our exhausted bodies and minds some rest.

We spend a good portion of our lives looking for a partner so we can share our joys and sorrows.

Even people who drink associate alcohol with pleasure. Maybe it’s to help them forget about their problems or to help them de-stress after a hectic work week. Perhaps, they enjoy socializing and alcohol just happened to be a part of most gatherings.

What causes a person to change his or her habits?

How do people suddenly find the motivation they need to lose weight?

I used to wonder if there was a switch you can turn on in a person’s head to make him decide to change for the better.

It turns out there is a name for that switch. It’s called the pain threshold.

Tony Robbins described crossing the pain threshold as the ultimate motivator to create change. Once you associate so much pain to something, you would do everything in your power to change it and move yourself to pleasure.

Most people who decided to lose weight crossed the pain threshold, which can be in the form of health issues.

Arthur Boorman was in so much pain from walking. So, he decided he had to lose weight or he would never walk unassisted for life.

Jared Mollenkopf was so out of shape that he got tired just sitting in front of a computer. Since he has an office job, imagine how much pain he’s in, having to sit for 8 hours a day.

Stacey Morris got embarrassed each time she had to put on extension seat belts whenever she flies. Since her job requires her to travel a lot, she had to endure that situation often.

It’s also pretty common to see people choosing to lose weight because of their family. Not living long enough to see young kids grow up or not having the energy to be there for the family during special occasions can be a good source of motivation to shape up.

How to use pain and pleasure to create change

The most important thing to ask yourself is this:

What do you really want?

Think about what is really going to give you joy and what gives you sorrow. Once you’ve figured that out, create leverage on yourself by associating pain to not changing NOW. Leverage is the key to get yourself into taking massive action.

In my case, there was a point in my life when I felt exercising took a lot of effort and I had little to no time for it. I ate junk foods and sweets often because they tasted good.

It’s funny because I didn’t find time or energy for exercise but I could always squeeze in some time to go to the bar with my friends.

Was it fun eating anything I desired and drinking alcohol with friends instead of exercising and eating healthy? Absolutely.

Until one day, I took my shirt off and looked in a mirror.

I looked nothing like I used to be. I wasn’t really overweight, but my belly was starting to stick out. My hairline was starting to recede and my cheekbones and jawline where nowhere to be found.

I always felt like I needed more sleep and had low energy level to do anything physical.

I was in the worst shape of my life and I was only 29 years old!

The pain I felt looking and feeling older than I am was overwhelming. I knew right there that if I didn’t change something, things would go downhill fast and I was not prepared to accept that.

One thing I learned was that if I wanted to get different results, I had to do something I’ve never done. It definitely took a lot of courage to try something I knew nothing about but the pain of failing and gaining more weight weighed more than the fear of the unknown.

I took action. I bought weight loss programs online, which totally changed the way I trained. Slowly, I renewed my commitment to eating healthier, too.

The one thing that is absolutely crucial if you want to create permanent change

You’ve decided what you really want, you’ve gotten leverage on yourself, you changed your habits and approach and you’ve gotten the results you’re looking for. You started seeing results.

Well, it’s not enough that you lost some weight. You need to find a way to keep the fat off.

The danger with not creating new habits is that you can easily slip back into the things you were used to doing.

I mean, I could have stopped training. After all, I lost weight already. I could have gone back to enjoying my weekends watching movies, eating anything I wanted, and drinking beer.

But the joy I found with my new self meant more than eating junk foods and laying on the couch. My weekends were replaced by pickup games with friends or trying out new ways to do cardio, like biking, going on long walks in the park or hiking.

Hearing compliments about how much weight I lost felt good and it motivated me to train harder. That’s also enough motivation for me to take it easy on junk foods and alcohol. I became committed to staying healthy.

I still have my cheat meal and beer occasionally but I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to. After all, being healthy, strong, and confident give me my ultimate pleasure.


Now that you understand how to set your mind to lose weight and keep it off, it’s time for you to give it a try.

First, know what motivates you and what ultimately gives you pain and pleasure. Figuring out how to lose weight with training and proper nutrition will follow as long as you’re committed to making changes. After all, there are lots of materials available on the internet from people who have done it before you.

Just find out what will work for you. Figure out what you like and what you don’t like. Go on and take that first step.

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Author: Oliver Calubayan

Oliver Calubayan is a regular guy like you but with six pack abs. Follow his blog at to get a glimpse of different weight loss programs that will help you burn fat and stay lean 365 days a year without stepping inside a gym or doing long boring cardio.

Train Your Mind to Lose Weight

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know that eating healthy food and moving your body are important components of any weight-loss plan. But did you know that reaching or maintaining a healthy body composition happens in both your body and your mind? In fact, if you have tried repeatedly to lose weight but have never been successful or you lose weight but then gain it back (and then some!), it is most likely that your thoughts and beliefs—not your diet—are holding you back. That’s because excess weight is a reflection of your mental or emotional state. And the number one reason people fail to lose weight is that they neglect to make changes in their subconscious mind to support their conscious goals.

I’ve spent more than 45 years studying nutrition and its effects on women’s bodies, minds, and spirits—both personally and professionally. Being born with a body that my parents termed “solid,” I’ve had to work consciously on accepting my size and weight for most of my life. And, having worked with thousands of women with the same problem, I can assure you that I know what works and what doesn’t.

How Your Beliefs Can Thwart Your Weight-Loss Efforts

Women receive negative messages about their bodies all their lives. It’s no wonder that the diet business is booming. With more and more people turning to diets, exercise, and gimmicks to control their weight, it’s a no-brainer that diets just don’t work. Yet many women try to lose weight rapidly, often before attending a special event such as a wedding, school reunion, or vacation. But almost 90 percent of the time, they regain the weight because the plan was not sustainable. Thus, these women develop the limiting belief that they will never be able to lose weight or maintain their optimal weight.

Other common limiting beliefs that can keep you from achieving your weight and body size goals often stem from fear. For example, if you were sexually abused when you were younger, you may fear that, if you lose weight, others will find you attractive and hurt you sexually. Or perhaps you are afraid that if you lose weight but then don’t find a partner, you will be considered a failure. Some people hold on to weight out of the fear that more will be expected from them once they are thin. Others may fear that if they lose weight, they will be rejected by their family or friends. There is also the common fear that if you aren’t “the fat person,” you won’t know who you are.

The reason these beliefs are limiting is because, in order to release unwanted weight, your conscious and subconscious minds must agree. If your mind says, “I want to lose weight, and I believe I can do so easily,” and your subconscious mind agrees, you will lose weight. But if your subconscious mind holds the belief that you will never be able to achieve your optimal weight, you will most likely struggle to lose weight despite your conscious desire.

How to Reshape Your Body with Your Thoughts

Assuming you don’t have a metabolic issue or medical problem preventing you from reaching your weight-loss goals, the first step to losing weight is to become acutely aware of your story. This may be the story of your past, such as a relative always pinching your abdomen and calling you “chubs.” Or it may be a more recent story that you began telling yourself. For example, you may repeatedly tell yourself that weight loss is hard because of your inability to eat right and exercise due to the long hours you spend at work.

Remember, your thoughts and beliefs create your reality. So, before attempting to change your diet and exercise routine, it’s a good idea to work on changing your thoughts and beliefs.

Here are 12 practices for reprogramming your subconscious to achieve permanent weight loss:

  1. Listen to your self-talk. Self-respect and self-acceptance are the cornerstones to achieving optimal weight. But most people can’t lose weight because they engage in body-shaming talk and behavior. It’s important to know how you’ve been talking to yourself before you try to lose weight. If you have been telling your body that you hate how it looks for most of your life or pinching your skin in the mirror in disgust because someone used to do this to you, your subconscious mind will believe the negative programming. By talking to your body in a positive, loving manner—the way you would speak to an innocent child—you can rewire your subconscious brain. Look in the mirror and identify what you love about your body. Touch the parts that you want to change and say, “Thank you for keeping me safe.” Assure your body that it is safe to lose weight. Do this every day. Over time, your subconscious will align with your conscious desire to lose weight.
  2. Write a new story. Instead of just saying you want to lose weight, write down exactly what you want to achieve and why. Maybe you want to lose 5 pounds (or 50 pounds) so that you can keep up with your grandchildren. Or maybe you want to make better food choices so that you have more energy. Be sure to write down how you feel now and how you will feel when you achieve your goals. For example, if being overweight keeps you from enjoying bike rides with your friends and this makes you feel left out, write down this specific situation and emotion. Then write down how you will feel when you lose the extra pounds and can join in the fun. As you start to uncover your emotions around reaching your weight goals, continue to write them down. Be sure to tell your new story to yourself every day. Let it seep into your subconscious and every cell in your body.
  3. Try Tapping. Tapping, or the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), helps to align your subconscious mind with your goals on an energetic level by addressing the underlying emotions, patterns, beliefs, traumas, and more that can lead to weight gain. You start by stating your current limiting belief followed by stating how you love and accept yourself while tapping on specific acupressure points. For example, you can say, “Even though I have a hard time losing weight, I love and accept myself completely.” This reduces stress hormones in your body and helps to release the emotional memories and beliefs associated with the unwanted pounds so you can break old habits and heal. (Learn how to perform a tapping sequence here.)
  4. Meditate. Meditation is another tool that can help you become more aware of your thoughts and beliefs so that you can carve a path to successful weight loss. You can use your meditation practice to uncover your motivations for wanting to lose weight, understand any emotional or subconscious blocks, and even use imagery of how losing weight may look and feel to positively rewire your brain and develop more compassion for yourself. If sitting in meditation is not your thing, try moving meditation, such as yoga or Qigong. You may also like listening to audio meditations, such as the free meditations from the Center for Mindful Eating.
  5. Set sustainable goals. Your ultimate goal may be to lose 80 pounds, but if you’re bent on achieving that right away, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, set smaller, sustainable goals. For example, start with goals you have control over, such as eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day or staying hydrated by drinking (and eating) more water. You can also set a goal to get 8 hours of sleep per night. You may find that these sustainable goals alone help you lose weight. If you want to set an actual weight-loss goal, make sure it’s no more than 2 pounds per month. I know this sounds low, but 2 pounds per month is sustainable, and in 1 year that amounts to 24 pounds!
  6. Eat mindfully. Studies show that mindfulness—concentrated awareness of your thoughts, actions, and motivations—plays an essential role in long-term weight loss when used with other weight-loss strategies. Practice mindfulness as you go about preparing your meals and eating. Try to be mindful of feelings of hunger and fullness. Pay attention to tastes, textures, and the acts of chewing and swallowing your food. Also, be mindful of how your body feels after you eat certain foods. This practice can help reduce bingeing and make you more aware of habits that don’t support your weight-loss goals. When you start connecting what you eat with how you feel, you won’t need to diet to lose weight. It will happen effortlessly. When you change your attitude about food as self-nourishment, your body composition, and body image will also be transformed. When you connect with your body and nourish it from a place of compassion and self-respect, the feelings associated with that self-respect create a metabolic milieu in your body that is conducive to optimal fat burning.
  7. Say affirmations. Affirmations help to reinforce the new story you are programming your subconscious to believe. They work well when they are believable. However, if you say, “I will be 80 pounds lighter in one month,” your subconscious won’t believe it. Instead, try saying, “I’m becoming the naturally slim person who lives inside of me!” Or say, “I now make healthy decisions that support my optimal weight.” You can even make a ritual of saying your affirmations. For example, you can smudge your room or home of stagnant energy, light a candle, sit with your eyes closed, and say your affirmations 3 times in a row. Do this 2 or 3 times per day. You may want to say some version of your affirmations just before you fall asleep when your subconscious mind is most receptive to suggestion. Remember, affirmations need to be in the present tense as though they have already manifested. In the words of Michael Beckwith of the Agape Church, “Affirmations don’t make something happen. They make something welcome.”
  8. Stop weighing yourself. While weighing yourself is not inherently bad, many women put too much emphasis on the number on the scale and even allow their weight to determine their mood, thoughts, and actions. This behavior is self-destructive. Don’t step on the scale until you are able to view the information from a place of health rather than use it to define your self-worth. The beauty of this practice is that once you stop weighing yourself, you’ll learn when and what makes your body feel good. Then the number on the scale doesn’t matter. I haven’t stepped on a scale in two years!
  9. Breathe. When you take time to breathe fully and deeply, you become more aware of your body. Breathing with intention can also help to lower your body’s stress response. Try deep diaphragmatic breathing or Kapalabhati breathing, a yogic breath practice that helps to reduce stress. There are many other breathing techniques. You can learn about them and how to do them on YouTube. Or simply breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of 5 and hold for a count of 5 at the top of your breath. Then breathe out for 5 and hold for a count of 5 at the bottom of your breath. Repeat for several minutes. This is called “block breathing,” and it instantly creates a parasympathetic “rest and restore” biochemistry in your body while digesting stress hormones.
  10. Forget the cleanse. Detoxes are huge right now, and some can be very good for you. I am currently doing a heavy metal cleanse that includes coffee enemas, lemon juice, and celery juice. Releasing toxins from your body can assist with weight loss. However, no detox or cleanse will work until you do the emotional detox.
  11. Say “good-bye” to Energy Vampires. One of the most striking things I’ve observed in relationships between vampires and sensitive souls is the disparity in their tendencies to gain weight. Your life and your relationships reflect your ability to nourish yourself. If you are in an imbalanced relationship where you are constantly giving to and trying to please another person, your efforts to lose weight will be in vain because you are constantly taking on the energy of your vampire (which could even be a situation—not a person). This causes excess stress and cortisol and drains your own precious energy. As a result, you seek out sugar, carbs, and/or alcohol. And you will keep excess weight on no matter what you do—even when you stop eating the carbs—because the weight acts as an extra layer of “self-protection.” It’s cognitive dissonance in the body.
  12. Live “as if.” Your beliefs are your reality. That’s why I love Mario Martinez’s advice. He suggests taking a picture of yourself today (or find a recent picture that represents how you look now). Then find a picture of yourself from a time when you liked how you looked and felt really good about yourself. Once you have your two pictures, live for 10 days “as if” you are still the self you felt good about. At the end of 10 days of living “as if,” take a new picture of yourself. You will look much like your former self whom you loved and respected.

Have you struggled to lose or maintain your optimal weight? What is your weight story? Please leave your comments below.

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Last Updated: January 21, 2020

Losing Weight Is A Mind Game, I Won!

Nancy MooreFollow Apr 11, 2018 · 5 min read

“Losing weight is a mind game, change your mind and your body will follow.” I remember seeing these exact words printed on a stranger’s shirt. At first I paid no attention but later on, it got me thinking, can I really lose weight and just maybe get some curves on my body?

Well, in all honesty, this was not the first time I have thought about losing weight. It was something I had been struggling with for years. If anything, I was obsessed with it. I had tried so many routines to no avail and up until I came across the printed shirt, I had lost hope in ever losing weight.

But this is not a sob story, I’m not about to narrate my struggles with weight loss. I’m not going to tell you that it was the most trying time of my life. I will also not tell you that more often than not, I wanted to quit and stay obese. Instead, I will make this a story about a young woman’s triumph over obesity.

So, if by now you haven’t lost interest and you want to know how a woman in her late twenties managed to shade over 50 pounds in three months, read on. But first, a disclaimer. I am not by any chance a doctor or a health expert. Just a girl who lost a huge amount of weight looking to share her weight loss success stories. Enjoy!

The Basics

Since the internet had not done so much for me in terms of weight loss, I decided to seek some professional help and for the first time, I visited a gym. Ok, it wasn’t your ordinary gym, it was more like a nutrition center with a gym in it and thus my routine was born. One of the first things I learned and experienced first-hand is that diet plays a huge role in weight loss.

Unfortunately, diet alone will not cut it, you have to back it up with some exercise (one of the things I got wrong in my previous attempts at weight loss).

Basically, these two things, diet, and exercise are the key to healthy weight loss. Speaking of healthy weight loss, it is important to keep off fads on weight loss such as starvation and any cleansing processes that involve laxatives. This will probably lead to more harm than good.


This always seems so easy up until you try it. At least that is what I thought when I got on a healthy diet. I had to rid my house of all kinds of unhealthy food including junk and empty calories and in its place, I went green, brown starch, and healthy fat. I will get into exact details later in this section.

Remember how I mentioned wanting to give up? This is the part I was talking about. For the first few weeks, all I could think of was junk and empty carbs. You will probably go through this too. Or maybe unlike me, you will be stronger.

So, about the healthy diet, I replaced my cooking oil with olive oil which was very expensive. A cheaper alternative would be sunflower or coconut oil but I could not stand the taste and smell of either hence olive oil was it for me. Also, vegetables and lots of water replaced my dinners. This kept me full enough to sleep through the night without waking up for a midnight snack.

I also tried to eat organic food as opposed to processed. Another expensive but necessary affair. Proteins especially white meat became part of my ritual.

Oh, and I have to mention, I always made sure that I did not skip any meal. This may seem to defeat the purpose but if you are eating healthy, crazy starvation will be a thing of the past.


I have to admit, I expected to indulge in a crazy amount of cardio in order to lose weight but this was not the case. If anything, I only did about 15 minutes of cardio per workout session and exclusive cardio workouts twice a week. The secret behind losing weight effectively lies in strength training.

I’m not saying that cardio does not help, it does but weight lifting does it faster and with more perks. What I mean is, with cardio, you stop burning fat when you are done exercising but weight lifting allows the process to go on even after workouts. I talk about this more in one of my weightlifting routines article.

Moreover, strength training allows you to gain muscle in place of the lost weight hence instead of sagging skin, you will get a toned body.


One thing I learned from this whole process is that weight loss does not just happen overnight. So you will have to master as much patience as you can. Also, be ready to experience a whole lot of emotions during this tough process ranging from extreme anger to defeat.

I indulged in some yoga and meditation to cope as well as to avoid stress (a factor that contributes to weight gain). Juicing also played a big part in my weight loss journey, just be sure to do it right.

Finally, some people believe in seeking answers from a bottle full of pills, I chose the hardest but safest way and it paid off. But that’s just me.

I would love to hear your stories and views on the weight loss so please leave a comment below. That said, remember to stay positive and never lose hope.

4 Ways to Train Your Brain for Weight Loss


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Is your brain ready for your body to lose weight? The brain is often one of the single biggest obstacles to shedding fat. Train that brain for losing weight with these 4 tips designed to put you in a positive, weight-dropping state of mind:

#1 Change your mindset.

The word diet often creates a negative mindset. You might pine for all those “yummy” foods you feel you’re being deprived or groan over the effort that goes into a calorie-burning workout. The negativity makes it harder to stick to the plan and achieve long-lasting success. Tell yourself, before your feet hit the floor each morning, “I so excited to start my day with exercise and some clean eating foods”, and mean it! Here are tons of clean eating recipes and fat burning workouts to get you started.

Changing your life is about making a positive lifestyle change. It’s not about what you can’t have—it’s about feeling rested when you wake up, feeling strong and confident, being healthier than you’ve ever been. Start seeing positive results with this 4 Step Weight Loss Challenge.

#2 Create a vision board.

Sometimes the brain needs a little nudge—give yours a poke in the form of a vision board. A vision board is a place where you put images of the life you want. If you want a more active life, post pics of the activities you would like to do, whether it’s ski the black diamond course or learn to surf. Do you dream of hitting the beach with a swim suit that reveals beautiful summer abs and toned & defined arms? Both can be yours. Pick up a fitness magazine and cut out pics of how you want your body to look. Pin the pics to your vision board and the seed is planted. Here are three workouts to kickstart your vision, Summer Arms, Summer Abs, and Summer Butt.

Have you ever envisioned yourself running in marathon but the thought of getting started was way too overwhelming? Perhaps our program Running for Absolute Beginners will get you motivated. Be sure to add a pic to your vision board and then hit the street running.

Put images where you can see them often, so they remind your brain of those goals. Post pictures on the fridge with magnets or create a vision board using Pinterest. Find inspiration on the SkinnyMs. Pinterest boards.

#3 Take baby steps.

The idea of losing a chunk of weight is intimidating. It can make the brain whine “How much do you want me lose?! Inconceivable!” Take the intimidation factor out of weight loss by taking small, can-do steps. Perhaps the first step is to eat healthy snacks instead of junky ones for the next two weeks. Or maybe you commit to doing these 3 Workouts for Getting Awesome Abs every week for the next month.

Small goals are easier to achieve—and each time you reach one, you’ll gain more confidence. That confidence will allow you to make another healthy lifestyle change, and then another, and before you know it you’ll look and feel better than you have in years.

#4 Be kind to yourself.

You’re going to backtrack sometimes. Everyone does. For example, you might find you tossed healthy eating overboard during a cruise, or an extended hours at work forced you to cut back on workout time.

But what’s important—really, really important—is that you get back on track. Throwing your hands in the air and saying “I’m giving up!” won’t make you feel any better. So forgive yourself for slip-ups, and then resume your good-living habits. If you’ve really gotten off track and need quick results, try the 6 Week Emergency Makeover Program, which comes with the diet and fitness tools you need to feel fab fast.

You deserve a body that’s healthy. You deserve a body that’s fit. Train your brain to help you get there.

Can you train your brain to eat less and lose weight? If Dr Jack Lewis, neuroscientist, is correct the answer is a resounding yes.

The relationship between your brain and your eating habits is intrinsic and as such it makes perfect sense that if you alter and improve your brain power, you can impact how you eat.

A recent survey by Weight Watchers, found that Brits talk about food an average of 2 hours 13 minutes everyday – it’s time to train that brain.

1/ We are designed to eat when we see food

As cave people we lived in a world where food was not readily available, hence we are hard wired to eat (and store) food.

2/ We respond more positively to high calorie, high fat food

This old world, where there wasn’t a Pret-A-Manger on every corner, meant that we needed to conserve energy and build our fat stores.

This means higher calorie foods provoke more reward receptors in the brain. Bummer.

3/ Sugar highs and lows hit your brain hard

We all know what a sugar crash feels like and as well as making you tired and lethargic, it will also make your brains less disciplined (read: emotionally stable).

That 4 o’clock slump when you accidentally snapped at a colleague…

4/ Our cognitive function directly affects food choices

When our cognitive function – the ability to make decisions, build and access memories and generally work – isn’t at its peak we make snap choices.

Those choices tend to be sweet, processed and fattening foods.

5/ You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it takes time

People can feel like they are hard-wired with their bad habits (points one to four above). However, you can learn to stomach new habbits.

You need to recognise, re-wire and then repeat. This is where brain training comes in…

– 5 Hacks To Boost Your Cognitive Function And Make Healthier Choices-

There are 3 key ways to boost cognitive function: Quick thinking, mindfulness and switching tasks.

Here are 5 easy ways to put these ideas into practice in your everyday life:

1/ Try Memorising Your Shopping

If you need a few things from the shops, take the opportunity to exercise your brain. Write down the items that you need then leave the list at home.

You can try nemonic devices (ascribing memorable names or a story to the words), or try creating a mind palace, Sherlock Holmes style.

Most people can memorise between five and seven things. The more you do it, the more you will be able to remember.

2/ Add up the prices at the newsagents

If you’re popping into your local shop to buy a couple of things, add up the prices before you get to the till.

The process of holding those numbers in your head builds your brain’s cognitive ability, and therefore your ability to make smarter, healthier choices.

3/ Focus on different parts of your music

If you spend most walking hours listening to music, try to pick out certain parts of your favourite tunes to focus on.

Listen to just the base line, or just the guitar – this will force you to become mindful which neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis explains helps with three things: Your ability to switch your focus, the shushing of your (potentially negative) ego and self perception, and the regulation of your emotions.

4/ Memorise number plates

As you walk past a row of parked cars, try memorising the plates. Look at it as you approach it, repeat the characters to yourself then check on the other side of the car as you go by.

Keep doing it every time – the repeated training will boost you brain power.

5/ Try the electronic method

Weight Watchers themselves have brought out a game, created with Dr Jack, designed to test both your ability to switch tasks and to think quickly.

Try it out and remember, it will only work if you keep using it. When you can’t beat your time anymore the game is too easy and you need to find something more challenging.

Alternatively, Dr Lewis recommends you . Use your commute to get boost your brain power.

  • A Beginners Guide To Counting Macros
  • How To Eat More Mindfully
  • More Weight Loss Advice

Despite massive government, medical and individual efforts to win the war on obesity, 71 percent of Americans are overweight. The average adult is 24 pounds heavier today than in 1960. Our growing girth adds some US$200 billion per year to our health care expenditure, amounting to a severe health crisis.

Drug research has not yielded a pill that helps people lose weight and keep it off. Traditional approaches such as diet and exercise can work short-term, but people almost inevitably regain the weight. Randomized controlled trials of weight loss surgery have shown some improvements in diabetes but not in mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

If there is ever to be a “pill” – a solution to weight – it will be changing the brain, particularly the primitive areas of the brain, the “emotional brain” or mammalian and reptilian brain. These areas house circuits that control stress and our stress-fueled emotions, thoughts and behaviors. These circuits can be rewired in humans so by changing them, we have a chance to address the root cause of stress-related problems, including obesity. While some overweight and obesity are caused by genetic make-up, more and more research is indicating that stress plays a big role in weight gain. Many people under stress turn to food for comfort.

My colleagues and I set out to develop a neuroscience-based approach to weight management and dealing with the common excesses we all face, through emotional brain training. The idea was to use neuroscience-based tools to change the brain so that the whole range of common excesses would fade. The method has shown promising results.

The emotional brain is command central for weight and common excesses. It includes the fear, reward and starvation centers. When that brain is in stress, all three centers promote overeating and weight gain. We have strong drives to do exactly what we know we shouldn’t do. We can’t help it! Our emotional brain is in stress.

That stress ramps up the reward value of food, increases hunger for carbohydrates and decreases metabolic rate, almost ensuring weight gain. The stress-obesity been well-documented. Our thinking brain (neocortex) goes off line, and the extremes of our emotional brain calls the shots.

To take care of your body, take care of your brain

Levels of stress. via

The first step in taking control of our weight is to destress the emotional brain. In emotional brain training (EBT), we release stress by checking in several times throughout the day, identifying our level of stress and using the technique for that stress level to “spiral up” to a state of well-being.

There are five levels of stress and five tools. To get an idea of how they work, take a few breaths, check in with yourself and identify your stress level. Then use the tools for that level of stress to reduce your stress rapidly.

1. Compassion Tool (Stress Level 1 – Very Low Stress) Say to yourself, “Feel compassion for myself,” then wait for a wave of compassion to flow through your body. Next say, “Feel compassion for others,” and feel a slight wave of warmth. Last, say, “Feel compassion for all living beings.”

2. Feelings Tool (Stress Level 2 – Low Stress) Ask yourself, “How do I feel?” Often, three feelings bubble up, but wait long enough so that one feeling is the strongest. That’s the one! Next ask yourself, “What do I need?” and, finally, “Do I need support?”

3. Flow Tool (Stress Level 3 – A Little Stress) Say the words: “I feel angry that …” and watch what words arrive in your mind to complete the sentence. State the sentence again, for seven more feelings: sad, afraid, guilty, grateful, happy, secure and proud. Notice the glow in your body and how your stress is gone. Why? When we feel our negative feelings, they fade. We are no longer in peril and the brain naturally focuses on positive feelings that give us the energy to move forward and do good things in our life.

4. Cycle Tool (Stress Level 4 – High Stress) Start by stating what is bothering you (don’t hold back!), then protest that stress by saying “I feel angry that … I can’t stand it that … I hate it that … .” and each time watch what words arrive in your mind. This can unlock the circuit so that you can change at a deeper level. Pause and take a few deep breaths, then say the words: “I feel sad that … I feel afraid that … I feel guilty that …” and watch what words arrive in your mind to complete each sentence.

Next support yourself, and say, “OF COURSE I could do that (such as overeat) because my unreasonable expectation is … ” and again wait for words to bubble up from your unconscious mind, such as: “I get my safety from overeating.” That’s just an old glitch of a memory that needs updating. So, update it! Say the opposite expectation (such as “I cannot get my safety from food … I can get my safety from connecting to myself”). As you stated this when the circuit was freshly unlocked, the circuit can change into the expectation of your choosing. As the new expectation becomes dominant, the emotional drives for various excesses (including food) can begin to fade so that changing behavior becomes easier.

5. Damage Control Tool (Stress Level 5 – Very High Stress) When we’re that stressed, we need to be held and comforted. Sometimes just rocking in your chair or breathing deeply helps. Also, you can say calming words repeatedly: “Do not judge. Minimize harm. Know it will pass. After all, it’s just stress and it will fade.”

Survival circuits activate strong emotional drives to overeat

Once you’ve started releasing stress from your emotional brain, chances are you’ll notice that you still get triggered sometimes. You might even blame yourself for that late night binge or that mindless eating. Actually, it’s just a survival circuit.

They are encoded when we are stressed and reach for food to cope. The brain remembers that food “saved us” from stress, so it encodes an expectation, such as “I get my safety from food.” That circuit can be replayed for a lifetime, fueling maladaptive eating.

Research now shows that these survival circuits can be rewired and we do that in EBT. In fact, they can only be rewired when we are stressed. Only then does the circuit unlock and make change more lasting. When stressed and craving food, the EBT user reaches for a tool rather than for the food and uses it to stop the craving and change the circuit. The drive to overeat fades.

The last step: Keeping the weight off

Keeping weight off is hard but it may be easier if we improve the brain’s emotional setpoint. Often a setpoint in stress is encoded from adverse experiences early in life and causes chronic stress overload in the emotional brain, a set up for weight regain.

The solution is to move up the emotional setpoint, so we get the emotional brain out of chronic stress, which is why the EBT program is aimed at raising the setpoint, so participants are more resilient to new stresses, less likely to regain the weight they have lost and, most of all, to experience more joy in their daily lives.

4 ways to lose weight

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