Being in the right mindset is crucial for success with eating, physical activity, weight, AND body image. But how do we get into the right mindset if we’re stuck in a rut? More importantly, how do we STAY there? In this Thursday Therapy, Glenn shares three important attitudes – and three specific techniques – for improving your weight management mindset and even reveals the “secret sauce” of mindset training!
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- Viewer question on getting into the right mindset and staying there. [01:46]
- On flicking the mindset ‘switch’. [02:20]
- How to focus on the ‘work of change’. [03:44]
- Choosing how you will change your mindset. [04:55]
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy explained. [05:18]
- Goal Setting. [05:38]
- Positive thinking Response Cards. [06:28]
- Response Card client example. [07:20]
- On changing your mindset at the point of decision. [08:26]
- Parting thoughts on changing your mindset and the “special sauce” of mental skills training. [08:54]
Welcome to Thursday Therapy where I answer your questions on the psychology of eating, physical activity, weight and body image. I hope that you’re doing well. Today I’m a little bit overwhelmed, I recently wrote a blog talking about how I used mental skills to help me through some personal struggles that I was going through. The response has been pretty unreal. In the last couple of days I’ve had about 200 text messages, emails, Instagram DM’s, Facebook inboxes, sharing support and it’s actually I think our most popular blog. So I’m going to share it with you guys here.
It’s also related to today’s question, which comes from Karin. “How am I going to make enough changes to my mindset and stick to them to be able to achieve my goals? I’m already seeing that I will really need to keep my focus and not dwell on how I got to this point. But rather use my energy and brain power to make changes that will help me. As I approach my 50s I’d love to be in the position of feeling freer in my head and not setting myself up for another decade of weight issues.”
Okay, so the first thing is, and Karin I can tell you’ve already got this, but I want to tell everyone else. Is that there is no one switch that you just have to flick and then everything changes. This is a total psychological cliché, and it’s a massive barrier to change. I see this all the time in my sessions, people want me to just fix them in one session. Thinking that way it always leaves you looking for the miracle cure. It always leaves you looking for the next quick fix, and that actually undermines your ability to make a real and lasting transformation.
So a good way to think of it is like there is a series of switches that you might need to flick. Or sometimes like a series of dials that you might need to turn before the overall tide in your mind changes. Sometimes I think of it a bit like you’re losing a football match. So if you’re really struggling with your mindset the other team might be all over you, they’ve got you pinned back in your half. You just need to keep working at it, keep trying new things. Eventually you get a few wins, and then eventually the momentum shifts.
People might look at it and go, wow that game just completely changed like that. But that’s not the way that it happens, it actually happens as a result of all of that work that goes on in the background. It’s the same with transforming your mindset.
The second thing is, and Karin I think you’ve got this one too, and I think it’s because you’re doing one of our online programmes where we hammer this home to you. Is that you have to focus on the work of change. You’re exactly right, time spent dwelling on the past, or berating yourself for where you are now, is absolutely wasted energy. It’s energy that can be better spent on the work of change.
When I wrote this recent blog about pulling myself up out of a rut, I had to look at the situations and there were three of them that were really causing my problem at the time. I had to see those situations as an opportunity for self growth. For self development as an opportunity for change, rather than a problem. That’s the same whether you have issues with your eating, your physical activity, your weight, your body image, your mood or just life in general.
Now, I think that’s actually a really comforting way to look at our problems. If everything you come up against is an opportunity for self development then nothing is insurmountable.
So once you’ve recognised that there’s no quick fix, and you’ve seen your problem as an opportunity to transform. Then comes the next part, is you actually have to chose how you’re going to work on your mindset. Now the good news is there are literally hundreds of ways that you can work on your mindset. I’m going to give you three mental skills from what we call cognitive behaviour therapy. ‘Cause at the moment it’s the most scientifically based way to deal with weight management challenges.
The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughts affect our feelings, and then that affects how we act. So through transforming your thoughts you can change how you feel, and ultimately how you behave. Goal setting is a great mental skill for motivation. A great way to set goals is using the SMART criteria, which stands for specific, measurable, action orientated, realistic and timed. So rather than a vague wishy washy goal of I want to get fit. A SMART goal might be something like, this week I’m going to go for four 30 minute walks along the river. It really focuses your mind, and that SMART criteria has shown time and time again to be the best way to focus yourself.
We’re going to provide some examples of that, as well as a SMART goal setting sheet, so you can set your own goal. I’d really encourage you to write it down, because there’s something powerful about that process. After all, how meaningful can something be if you can’t even take the time to write it down.
Positive thinking is a great mental skill to turn your mind around. Now, there are lots of ways to do this but a very simple way is to develop a response card. So what you do is you think of a situation where you struggle. It can be any situation, because wherever you struggle there are some unhelpful thoughts behind it. Then I want you to think of not what you currently think, but what you would want to think in that situation. You might ask yourself, what would my best self say in this situation? Or if a supportive mentor was just to pop up out of nowhere, and talk me through making the best choice for that moment. What would they say?
Then you write it down, so you can train your mind into thinking that thought. Because your thoughts are just like your actions, they’re habits. You can train yourself into the habit of thinking a different way. A great example of this is a client of mine who, she had a problem with getting takeaways on the way home. So she wrote a fantastic reminder, a beautiful response card that just said, don’t stop, you can keep going. After a little while we kind of reframed it to something that was a little bit more positive. Saying, yup you can just keep going. Over time she was able to train herself into that thought, and her actions followed.
Of course we don’t only think in words, we also think in pictures. So visualisation is another brilliant mental skill that can help you change your mindset. How you might use this for example, if you’ve got a hankering for food and you know that you’re not hungry. You can actually imagine yourself eating that food until you no longer want it. This is what we call a mental meal. I did this last year with the Biggest Loser contestants, and we’ll provide a link so you can learn a little bit more about that. Sounds pretty weird, but it is actually a brilliant and evidence based technique.
Another thing that you can do is you know sometimes you’re at that point of decision where you’re deciding, do I go out for a walk or do I go to the gym? Or do I stay home on the couch? Or I’ll answer those extra 20 emails. You can actually close your eyes and imagine how good it feels when you’re out and doing the exercise. Or if you really hate exercise you can imagine how good it feels afterwards. We’ve covered that in a previous Thursday Therapy, so we’ll provide a link to that too.
So guys there you have it, it really is as simple as acknowledging that there’s no quick fix. Seeing your problem as an opportunity to change. Then getting down to the work of mental skills training. Now, often you might think that this is too simple, but the fact is you have a complicated enough life, you don’t need a complicated therapy. When you chose the mental skills that are right for you as a unique individual, it just becomes work. This is the work we do in our online programmes. It’s the work we do in our group programmes. It’s the work I do with people one on one, because the reality is, if it’s not simple it just becomes too hard for you to do, and then you can’t transform.
So once you’ve chosen those right things for you, I really want you to give it a go. What you’ll find is something really special. When you practise mental skills, and you practise them over a little bit of time, you realise the special sauce of mental skills training is that it’s self reinforcing. This means when you do it you’ll instantly feel better. That makes you want to do it more, and because you want to do it more, then you end up doing it more. You get better at it, and you start this upward spiral out of your problems and towards your goals.
But it starts with work. So I really want you to give it a go, have a practise, report back to me. Good luck, and I’ll see you at next Thursday Therapy.