3 Ways to Change How You Think to Achieve Your Health Goals
Identify, challenge and replace distorted thoughts so you can reach your health and wellness goals. An expert shares how to do it.
If you keep struggling with your health goals, your thinking patterns may be to blame. Dr. Sandy Van, a certified obesity physician and founder and medical director of the Lifestyle 360 Program at WellOne Medical Centre in Toronto, says that many patients’ thoughts are self-critical and sabotage their efforts. She uses cognitive behavioural therapy (which is also known for treating stress eating) to help people get out of their own thought traps. Here’s how to give it a try.
1. Identify distorted thoughts.
When you feel bad about yourself, chances are, you’re having distorted thoughts. Some thoughts are simply discouraging (“I can’t do this”), while others suggest that any error is catastrophic (“I missed the gym yesterday, so I might as well quit altogether”). “Try to capture what you’re thinking and identify distorted thoughts,” says Dr. Van. Instead, concentrate on positive thinking (and see how powerful it can be).
2. Challenge them.
Examine thoughts that are getting you down: Is there real evidence to support them? What might contradict them? “You can make a list for and against each thought,” suggests Dr. Van. For instance, if you think “I can’t do this” but you’ve already been practising healthy habits (and avoiding unhealthy ones) for a few days, you’ve proven that you can do it.
3. Replace them.
Dr. Van suggests coming up with new, more balanced thoughts that take facts into account and are in line with your goals. If you previously thought that missing one day meant you should quit altogether, your new thought might reflect that it’s important for your health to keep going. Once you’ve replaced one distorted thought, more thoughts are bound to follow. When you persistently challenge and replace distorted thoughts, you can learn to think about your body and health in new ways.
Next, check out the ways to eliminate negative self-talk.