Weight Loss & Fitness: Think Like a Thin Person (cont.)

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:

  • All-or-nothing thinking -- the tendency to go to extremes and judge yourself and your body as extremely good or extremely bad. Change this thinking by recognizing that few things are truly black and white.
  • "Should" statements -- trying to motivate yourself with "shoulds," including comparing yourself to "perfect" images on television, the movies, or magazines. Remember that you have choices, and look for them.
  • Magnification/minimization -- over-focusing on things you dislike about yourself while minimizing your positive attributes. Thank someone who compliments you and skip the "but ..."
  • Scapegoating -- assuming that a physical characteristic you dislike about yourself is responsible for certain difficulties you encounter. Making assumptions and taking things personally can be a big mistake; fat prejudice does exist, but it's probably not responsible for all your troubles.
  • Emotional reasoning -- thinking something must be true, if you feel or believe it. Identify what you are feeling, and remind yourself that it's just a thought -- which doesn't necessarily make it true.

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.