Sunday, June 19, 2011
Can flexing your mental muscles work for you? The latest weigh-loss advantage is all in your head. Here's how to use your imagination to lose.
You may not think of daydreaming as a weight-loss tool. However, new research suggests that your mind, much like your food diary and your scale, can help you shed pounds. In fact, you may actually be able to help curb your cravings for certain foods-from chocolate to french fries-by mentally "eating" those foods.
The mind can be a powerful weapon in weight loss. For example, in the months before her son's wedding, Mary W., 58, of Houston, TX, took a few minutes every day to flex her mental muscle: "I saw myself walking my son down the aisle in a halter sundress" she recalls. "His father & I are divorced, and I kept picturing the look on my ex's face when he saw me." Envisioning herself in a revealing style she wouldn't normally wear was the incentive that Mary needed to stay on track for the big day. Similarly, Heather H., 31, of Portland, OR, conjures up scenarios to help maintain her weight loss. One of the images that keeps her accountable is a big far-fetched, but it works. "I imagine myself as a runway model," she says. "Why not?"
These mental exercises may seem impractical or out of character for you at first. But when your tried-and-true methods (tracking, weighing and measuring) get stale and you need to shake up your mind-set, the techniques are a fun way to reinvigorate your resolve. Try imagining a thinner version of yourself doing something you wouldn't normally do, such as completing a maraton or strutting confidently into your college reunion.
Pick a time every day to spend a few minutes with your future self. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and let your imagination run wild. Doing it first thing in the morning sets the tone for the day. Enrich your scenarios by giving them a soundtrack; for example, if you want to fit into a smaller jean size, see yourself zipping them up, and then hear your husband say, "Wow, you look good in those jeans." Use these techniques often to maintain your focus. And as your goals change, invent new images that help you move closer to the finish line.
(Adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine)