Are your thoughts, beliefs and actions sabotaging your weight loss? I see it all the time with my clients. They kick ass with their workouts, eat healthy, lose weight and then BAM I get a text that they crashed. Their car magically arrived at In and Out Burger where they consumed 2 double doubles, a large French fry and a gigantic soda. WTF?!? Can you relate to this? Have you ever been on track doing what you think you are supposed to do and then you magically end up in the fast food line or on your couch double fisting ice cream containers and reversing all of your hard work?
After witnessing such events over and over again, I knew that there had to be more to the story than lack of will power. Why would someone work so hard and then throw it away for food? Food doesn’t have some magical power, it doesn’t have the ability to talk to you and taunt you into eating it. (Well….Maybe it does) I decided to search deeper into the behaviors my clients were exhibiting. I discovered neuroscience and the power of our thoughts, beliefs and habits.
Let’s delve into a little dictionary/definition session shall we.
A thought is defined as an idea that suddenly occurs into our mind.
A belief is nothing more than a thought that has been thought over and over and over again until we believe it to be true.
A habit is an action that we do repeatedly that reinforces our beliefs.
So basically, a crazy thought (from an unexplainable place) pops into our mind, shoves itself into our brains, we take that thought, believe it to be true and then take action based on it and now we have a new habit.
So what I have gathered is this, people adopt thoughts over a period of time and believe them to be true. Once they believe these thoughts they take action to reinforce them. If people adopt certain thoughts that come from Magic Land such as; working out is hard, eating healthy is too much work, I was born this way or (my personal favorite)… I always fail when I try.. then they are going to create actions that reinforce these thoughts. If I constantly told myself and/or verbalized to others that I was “fat” or “fluffy” then I am powerfully reinforcing these thoughts to be true.
This leads me to a little thing called neuro dissonance, or in other words, a disconnection in the brain. When our actions conflict with our beliefs, our brains force us to revert back to what it knows. For example, if we have set our brains GPS system to “Fluffy-Land” and we start to workout, eat healthy and say nice things to ourselves our brain thinks we are off course. When we stray off course towards “Fit-Land” with these new thoughts and actions our navigation system steps in, makes a lot of noise and sends us back in the direction of Fluffy-Land. These new actions are not in alignment with our GPS destination. This is when we find ourselves at the In and Out drive through. Our GPS is doing what it is supposed to do by telling us that we need to get back on course.
The good news is we can change our GPS destination by overriding the current one. We can get to “Fit-Land” we simply have to change our GPS settings.
Here are 5 steps to creating new thoughts, beliefs and habits so that we arrive at the correct location.
Step 1. NOTICE — Start to notice and observe your thoughts. Are they negative or positive? Do they help or hurt you? How do they make you feel?
Step 2. CHALLENGE — Challenge any negative thoughts that you notice. Where did they come from? Do they serve you? If not, tell them to take a hike.
Step 3. REPLACE — Interrupt the negative thought by replacing it with something more positive. For example, if you notice a thought such as “I’m not good enough” or “I will always be overweight” replace it with “I am good enough” or “Anything is possible”.
Step 4. REINFORCE — Keep reinforcing the positive thoughts and give less attention to the negative ones.
Step 5. TAKE ACTION- Take action towards your goals. Start working out and eating healthy. This time couple it with the positive thoughts and beliefs and watch your GPS start to change directions.
As a reminder, your current GPS system has probably been set for a very long time. Be kind to yourself as you go through the journey of changing destinations. You didn’t get here in one day so don’t expect to change in one day.
Do you suffer from weight loss resistance, insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, infertility, or skin problems? If any of these symptoms describe you; you likely have some degree of hormone imbalance.
What are hormones?
Hormones are your body’s messengers that provide the necessary signals for optimal cellular and organ function. Hormones affect many different processes such as metabolism, growth, development, and mood and reproduction.
Endocrine glands are a special group of organs that are responsible for the production of hormones.
Let’s discuss the hypothalamus and pituitary. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that plays a role in hormone production. Some of the hormones produced here are responsible for body temperature regulation, sleep, hunger, thirst, libido, and mood. This area of the brain also controls the pituitary gland, which stimulates hormones for the thyroid and adrenal glands.
How is your diet impacting hormones?
You have over 70 trillion cells in your body. Each cell is made up of lipid bi-layer that contains saturated fat and cholesterol. If your diet is lacking some of these healthy fats, the production of hormones and your cells ability to communicate will become negatively impacted.
Another large contributor to poor hormone production and communication is exposure to toxins. Exposure to toxins can come from our food supply, but also anything that comes in contact with our skin or that we breathe in. There are toxins that can mimic hormones themselves, which are extremely problematic. The body tries to utilize these fake substances as building blocks for hormone creation and it causes a toxic cell. This can then lead to cellular inflammation or mutation of more toxic cells.
One hormone that is notable is leptin. Toxins attach themselves to fat cells and continue to elevate the hormone leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain to burn fat for energy. Toxins can burn out leptin receptors in the brain leading to leptin resistance. As a result, you gain weight, and can become weight loss resistant. This is when diet and exercise stop working they way they used to for you.
What about Gut Health?
Gut bacteria also work with hormone signaling and our immune system. 75%-80% of our immune system resides in our gut, so our overall health really does stem from the gut. Many of us have had our healthy bacteria destroyed by overuse of antibiotics, prescription medications, exposure to toxins, etc. Using a good quality probiotic, eating foods that are high in healthy bugs such as fermented foods, sauerkraut and even raw, fermented dairy products like kefir can help build your defense system.
There are some basic things that you can do to boost your body’s ability to create, balance and “hear” your hormones. The good news is there are steps you can begin right away, to decrease cellular inflammation and increase hormone communication.
Steps to Begin!
Written by: Kimberly Andrulis RD, FDN-P