10 ways you can use your mind to get your body fit

For many of us, getting and staying fit is hard. Getting on the right path may be a case of getting your mind right, experts say.

“How you feel about yourself will make you gravitate toward certain scenarios, and then there are biochemical things that go on. A lot of times, people leave that out of the equation,” says Marie Allen, a wellness consultant for Atlanta Medical Institute, a weight-loss, anti-aging and stress reduction facility in Atlanta.

When people are not disciplined in the way they consume food or exercise or do anything, they need a guide to help them change their personal behavior, she says. Though it is common to hear people say you can change a behavior in 21 days, Allen says in her experience, it is more like 90 days, particularly when it comes to food.

“You have to get rid of old patterns in your head that downplay or do not support your success,” Allen says.

Steve Siebold, author of “Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People” (London House Press, $17), is a pro at helping people change their pattern of thinking. Here he offers a few tips to help you get over the psychological humps of losing weight.

Don’t eat for pleasure. Most people see eating primarily as a pleasurable activity. Fit people see eating primarily as a means to increase health, energy and vitality. Eating for health vs. pleasure can make the difference between world-class health and an early grave.

Stop believing diets don’t work. Americans have been programmed to believe diets don’t work because of the inability of the average person to stick to them, and their unwillingness to take responsibility for their own failure. Make no mistake: Many diets work very well. Because an individual lacks the mental toughness to stick to a diet doesn’t make the diet any less effective.

Stop waiting to be rescued. When most people put on some weight, they blame the food companies and restaurants. Not only that, but they expect something or someone to show up and save them from themselves. Fit people know the only person who can save them is the man in the mirror. The hero on the white horse isn’t coming to save the day. The mantra of fit people is, “I am responsible.”

Stop eating emotionally and start eating strategically. For the average person, eating is a way to enhance pleasure and ease pain. Fit people avoid emotional eating, choosing to eat only when hungry. They use logic instead of emotion to dictate and control their food intake, and are acutely aware of the tendency to use food as a drug.

Know there’s a price to pay. If you want to become thin and healthy, you will pay a price. There’s no such thing as a painless diet that doesn’t require discipline or sacrifice, and no magic pill, potion or lotion that can make you thin. You will sacrifice and call on every ounce of willpower you have. Why not just suck it up and get it over with?

Use failure as a motivator. The fact is everyone on Earth has failed at something. Many of us multiple times. You are not alone. The reality is the past doesn’t equal the future, so take the failures and use them to propel yourself toward success. Never assume that things will be the same as they were in the past.

Stop being delusional and operate from objective reality. Since human beings are emotional creatures, staying grounded in objective reality requires effort. With a society that encourages people to love their bodies no matter what, we’re living a twisted lie. There’s nothing good about fat. It robs you of energy, vitality and enthusiasm. It may even kill you. The delusional approach gives us permission to keep eating, while the objective reality method causes enough emotional pain to stop the destructive behavior.

Stop starting over. Most people delude themselves into believing they can continue to start over on Monday and eventually succeed. Starting over on Monday is an endless loop, a psychological trap that keeps people stuck forever. Stop being semi-committed to the process and make the decision to get fit once and for all.

Stop seeing exercise as a burden. Too many people who can’t lose weight view exercise as drudgery they neither enjoy nor place any value on. The idea of sweating and working out strikes them as a waste of time and energy. Fit people know exercise is one of the most important habits anyone can develop. They either love it or hate it, but either way they discipline themselves knowing it’s a non-negotiable price.

Make choices that will keep you fit. Being fit is a choice. No one forces us to eat the way we eat or exercise or not. We are 100 percent responsible for what we see in the mirror. It all comes down to the choices we make every day during meal times and exercise periods. Be smart and make conscious decisions that will keep you fit and healthy.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.