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I Lost 30 Pounds Thanks to This Expert-Approved Mental Trick

September 18, 2023
Photo by Clayton Webb on Unsplash

I recently lost 30 pounds in six months, but when I first began this weight loss journey, I had no clue where to begin. All I knew was that I needed to make a serious mental change if I wanted to really make healthy habits stick. For me, that meant shifting my thinking from “Boy, this sucks!” to a more positive outlook that would actually help move me along in my journey.

I thought that building a healthier lifestyle was going to be daunting, so I had to focus on what was motivating me. I knew that if I honed in on the “why” behind this big change, I could make it work. So I took some time and figured out exactly what was motivating me.

Once I nailed down the true motivation behind why I was making this change to a healthier life (to be able to spend time with my family and toddler with a positive mindset, to feel good about myself, to not feel aches and pains everywhere, and increase my lifespan), I decided to find some sort of verbal phrase— some sort of mental affirmation to keep me going. A simple saying that I could say to myself when times get tough. A little piece of wisdom that could realign my brain when things were getting a little off course. For me, “Pick your hard” became my go-to mental affirmation.

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In order to develop a healthier body, I had to start with a healthier mind.

As I got older, my weight was not just a burden for my brain, but for my body as well. At 30 years old, I had sciatica, nerve pain, and plantar fasciitis. I could barely keep up with my energetic three-year-old as we played in the backyard. Hauling a laundry basket of clean clothes up the stairs left me absolutely breathless. This mental and physical burden was almost too much to bear.

So when I decided to finally make the change to be a healthier person, I soon realized that this, too, was very hard. The jarring change of going from Friday night pizza every week to making at-home pizzas with cauliflower crust was hard. Pushing my body to just one more set at the gym was hard. Making these changes was so hard, but you know what else was hard? Being overweight and depressed. So I needed to pick my hard. And you guessed it — I picked the “hard” that made me a better person. A better mom. A better partner. A better person in the world.

The journey to finding a personal affirmation begins with knowing.

The power of a personal affirmation can shape your entire mindset. It can transform your perspective from negative to positive, from dread to hope. Once you realize the power of knowing the “why” behind your personal goals — the positive affirmations are there to help you through — and you can really achieve greatness.

Neuroscientist and certified yoga and meditation teacher Valeriya McQuillan agrees with this notion.

“In short, it’s knowledge that motivates you to stick to the practice,” she explained. “I am a strong believer in knowledge behind every action. It is the strongest reason and motivation in life. For example, in order to build a sustainable habit in children, it’s not enough to say, ‘brush your teeth because I said so.’ This approach only works for a limited amount of time and eventually meets resistance because there is no personal understanding and therefore motivation. The same is true for mental wellness.

So, once you know why you want to take this leap towards change, how do you find a personal affirmation that works for you? Start by thinking about the aspect of your life that you want to change. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to ditch the takeout you keep ordering? Do you want to stop hitting the snooze button? Do you want to start each morning with zero screen time? Write this all down, try to think of all those aspects in a positive way, and then believe in yourself. Believe you can achieve your desired weight. Believe you’re a strong, disciplined person. Even writing down these affirmations can help you achieve what you want.

There is scientific evidence that backs up the claims that self-affirmation and positive thinking can literally alter the way your brain works. A study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience used an MRI to reveal that practicing self-affirmation activates the reward centers in the brain. Repeating to yourself, “I am strong. I will lose this weight,” can actually light up the reward centers in your brain to help you actually make those changes and believe it.

Related: Dietitians and Nutritionists Tell Us Their 12 Healthiest Weight Loss Strategies

Try reciting affirmation through meditation.

If it’s becoming hard to focus on your personal affirmation or it doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you may need to quiet your mind down a bit more and try some meditation alongside repeating your affirmations. A review published in Mindfulness found that mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation both result in positive emotional well-being.

After nailing down the core reason for why I wanted to lose weight and work to become a healthier person alongside my own personal mental affirmation, I began to see the weight shed off. I may be over 30 pounds lighter, but I am so much lighter in my mind. That’s not to say that I do not struggle from time to time with insecurity and self-doubt, but I do find that living in those moments and then letting them so is so much easier than ever before. I realized that working out my mind was just as, if not more, important to my weight loss journey than working out my body.

Read next: This Psychology-Powered Platform Helps People Lose Weight — and Keep It Off

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