We all know very well that building up physical muscles is essential when trying to lose weight. So we go running, hit the gym or do whatever activities seem to be the least struggle and most fun.
However, there is a group of muscles that is equally important to develop for a successful diet, even though we rarely pay attention to them: our psychological muscles.
It varies from person to person which psychological muscle needs to be trained, but let’s look at the three that I find to be the most common weak points of the dieters I work with.
The ‘Saying No to Others’ Muscle
Feeling bad about eating another portion of food, but feeling even worse for saying no to your aunty / grandma / other kind family member who is trying to make sure you eat the maximum at her dinner? You are not alone. Many people hold the belief that they will hurt others by saying no for selfish reasons such as dieting.
The next time you find yourself in this situation, test your expectations by saying no in a kind but firm way. You will likely find that your host will not be disappointed at all or only for a short period of time which is a small cost compared to the benefit of staying on track with your diet.
The ‘Ending Self-Fooling’ Muscle
‘It’s all right to eat this because it's Christmas so it doesn't count.’
‘I can eat this because I’ve been working hard all year. I deserve some pleasure now.’
Do you often fool yourself with similar excuses? If your answer is yes, you have already made an important step when recognizing this way of thinking.
For the next step towards training this muscle, create a response to your thought, such as ‘It’s not all right to eat this because calories still count during the holidays. There are other ways to reward myself that don’t sabotage my diet.’ Have your written response ready for when you find fooling yourself the next time and do not hesitate to use it.
The ‘Resisting Cravings’ Muscle
Did that chocolate cake just call your name? Or was it that handsome piece of pie? Resisting cravings is tricky because they often get confused with hunger. To differentiate between the two, ask yourself every time you feel the urge to eat something that is not on your diet whether you are really hungry or is it just a craving.
Once you identified that you are dealing with a craving, remind yourself that not giving in to it will bring you double benefit: you will not break your diet and feel guilty about it, plus as your
‘Resisting Cravings’ muscle gets stronger, the frequency and intensity of cravings will decrease dramatically.
If you are trying to lose weight and the thought of Christmas parties and dinners make you any anxious, try the above tricks this year to see if they make dieting easier for you. You will see that just like with physical muscles, the more you train your psychological muscles, the less effort it will take for you to use them. And luckily, the holidays bring along plenty of opportunities for training.