How to Think Like a Thin Person
Don't wait to live fit -- start now!
By Carol Sorgen
Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
Are you waiting until you've reached your goal weight to "think thin?" Don't, say weight loss experts. The time to start thinking -- and living -- as a thinner, healthier person is right now.
Too often, people hold on to the belief that they can't think or act like a thin person until they reach their goal weight, says Linda Spangle, RN, MA, owner of Weight Loss for Life in Denver and author of Life is Hard, Food is Easy: The 5-Step Plan to Overcome Emotional Eating and Lose Weight on Any Diet. But staying trapped in your old, unhealthy mindset can sabotage the very behaviors you're trying so hard to change.
"I encourage people who are trying to lose weight to build an image of how they would not only look, but also how they would act and feel when they are thin," says Spangle.
If you are a visual person, for example, hang a favorite outfit where you can see it every day, then picture how well the outfit is going to fit you. If you're a movement-oriented person, picture how it would "feel" to slide easily past the empty seats in the theater row, or imagine the ease of fastening a seat belt in an airplane.
Pretend You're Thin
Spangle teaches her clients to "pretend" they are thin and live as if that's true. When we pretend something is true, a new pattern of behavior will eventually evolve, says Spangle.
"Acting as if you have a skill or a feeling eventually contributes to it coming true," she says. "Public speakers are taught to address their audience as if they feel totally confident and have no stage fright whatsoever. Most speakers discover that after doing this even a few times, it becomes true."
In the same way, Spangle says, you don't have to wait until "someday" to have self-esteem. You can build your confidence and self-image by acting as if you already feel good about yourself (even if you don't). When you get dressed each day, look in the mirror and say, "I look great!" Then walk and talk as if you do.
"It doesn't matter if you're wearing a baggy dress and worn shoes," says Spangle. "Pretend! Imagine how you would talk to others, do your work projects, and raise your children if you truly felt great about yourself. Then live out of that internal picture, acting as if those things were true."
That doesn't mean you should pretend yourself right out of your need to develop more healthy habits, she adds.
"Taking this approach doesn't mean you can put your head in the sand or ignore the realities of life," Spangle says. "It just helps you develop a new attitude about what's already there. At the same time, it also gives you hope that things can get better. After a month or so of living as if you are confident and strong about yourself, you will be amazed at how well you match this image."
Change Your Thinking
Another key to thinking and living like a thin person is to change your negative thought patterns.
"If you're struggling with your weight, it's important to examine your thinking" says Marsha Hudnall, MS, RD, program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run, a woman's retreat for healthy living in Ludlow, Vt.
Remember the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, says Hudnall. "The first feeds the second; the second, the third," she says. "If our thinking is awry, so go our emotions, and our behaviors reflect how we're feeling."
Be alert to these common thinking errors, says Hudnall:
Living like a thin person also means thinking about food and eating in a different way, says Hudnall. "Are you hungry or satisfied? Do you like a particular food or not?" she asks. "Those questions often don't come into play with people who struggle with food issues.
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