The Effect of Mind and Emotions on Body Image

How many times have you dieted, got to your desired weight, only to find that within a very short time, you’ve put it all back on again – or even ended up heavier than when you originally started?  How did that make you feel?  Most people I’ve worked with would say they became angry, frustrated – in fact, they lost self-esteem, self-belief and generally beat themselves up emotionally.  Does this sound like someone you know?  All this can be changed with a little effort.  Not only that, it can be a lifestyle change that becomes permanent.

So then, if you, or someone you care about, has already concluded through experience that dieting as promoted by the weight loss industry simply does not work – the first essential thing to do to achieve safe and permanent weight management and body shaping, is to STOP DIETING.  Once free of this unhelpful cycle, your mind will quickly become clearer and more receptive to a sensible and sustainable alternative.

Let’s compare the above scenario with what’s possible.  Imagine this:

A body shaping programme that starts with the end result in mind and the intention to achieve that result by self-nurture, self-love and self-belief, NOT self-criticism.

You already have the ability to shape your body as you desire using the power of your own mind.  Let me explain how this works.

Your mind is the controlling element of your body.  Whatever your mind thinks and believes, your body becomes – it takes its cue from deeply held beliefs and shapes your form according to them.  The majority of these beliefs were formed at a very early age and they continue to work in the background, unnoticed by the conscious mind.  This is rather like programmes running in the background on your computer which you’re not aware of.  They affect the operation of the computer, slow it down etc., but don’t stop you using the programme you’re currently running.

By becoming conscious of your background thoughts and beliefs and your emotions, you will be able to make adjustments that have a powerful and positive effect on how you see yourself and how your body manifests.  In fact, you will be in total control, because YOU decide the result you wish to achieve and YOU then ensure that you stay in a strong enough emotional state to be able to nurture yourself through the journey you’ll take to get there.

If you have read this far, it will not come as a surprise that negative thinking about any aspect of your body image, as you see yourself today, has no place in the process.  Instead, you are going to notice the positives and make adjustments that enable you to keep feeling even MORE positive about yourself until you reach your goal.  This positive mindset will by then have become a permanent aspect of yourself and will keep your whole system in balance.  You have the inbuilt ability to self-regulate by becoming attuned to your individual needs both in terms of food intake and your personal exercise routine.

If this approach sounds appealing to you and you would like to try it out through self-help, work through the following programme of steps toward better body confidence, a calmer mind and a happier you.

If this approach sounds appealing to you and you would like to try it out with professional support, claim your FREE 30 minute Change Your Life Consultation by going to www.vernonaharris.com .

Step 1
Creating a Positive Attitude to Food

Fact: We are by nature designed to eat anything that is edible!
This means that if you focus only on a specific range of foods, you could be refusing your body some nutrients and energy it does naturally need.  So – shift your mindset to accept that you can eat anything you desire, including ice-cream and chocolate if you want it.  The trick is to eat only an appropriate amount.  You can eat one piece of chocolate instead of a bar, one scoop of ice-cream instead of a whole bowl, savouring the taste until your craving for that particular food is satisfied.

Food is meant to be enjoyed and you can have fun planning meals you will really appreciate – but there is an art to recognising that your body only needs to eat when you’re hungry.

Take a loose-leaf binder and jot down a list of the favourite foods you class as “delicious”.  Great news – you will still be eating all of them – and trust yourself to do this in moderation.

Now, – with a sense of humour if you can – jot down on another page some of the reasons you know that cause you to turn to food for comfort when you’re not actually hungry.  These could range from eating too many biscuits whilst feeling bored trying to find something to watch on TV, to having had a bad day at work, having uncomfortable feelings to do with a personal relationship, procrastinating about doing coursework, or starting a project…or even childhood conditioning carried forward that producing a clean plate is “being good”…You see the picture: these reasons for eating are products of the mind and the emotions, definitely not the body’s need for sustenance.

Congratulations on recognising your own personal triggers for overeating and take heart – it is very common to obey the mental or emotional demands to overeat, however, this tendency is fairly easy to overcome.  The key to changing these patterns is to become consciously aware of them and the temptation will diminish as you take full control of creating a different reality for yourself.

Decide on a beneficial reward for the work you have done today and create a section in your folder to make a list of the rewards you are going to give yourself for each day of the journey.  Be creative with this, keep adding things as you think of them, and above all, have fun with it.

Step 2
Recognising Expression of the Self in Physical Form

Bearing in mind that you intend to feel GREAT about your body image – consider which aspects of your personal appearance you really like and write these down.  These could include the colour of your eyes, the texture of your hair, the way you walk or stand, your smile, your gestures and body language…if you’re feeling modest, ask someone you trust to help with this!

How do you feel that your physical self expresses the best aspects of the inner you?  Again, it might be helpful to ask another how they perceive this – you may receive some amazing insights!

Write down everything that comes from this exercise and consider how you may wish to further enhance these aspects of yourself that you and others enjoy.  Perhaps you’d like to try a new style in clothes, hair, make-up, or a new form of expression through movement, such as yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, drama, or sports…Start collecting information on whatever interests you – and resolve to express more of the best of yourself!

Step 3
Creative Visualisation – How Do You See the Ideal You?

Consider how you would like to shape your existing form to reflect more of the Inner You.

As a therapist, I have found that many clients said they would not be concerned about the reading they see on the scales if they had the well-toned and shaped forms they desired.  Remember – regardless of what the scales say, the fat to muscle ratio is what truly determines how well toned and shaped your body becomes.

So – what kind of exercise do you truly enjoy?  Remember, if you choose things you truly like to do as a part of your exercise routine, you are more likely to stick to it – it doesn’t necessarily need to be a rigid rota of trips to the gym.  How about including some Latin dancing, walking the dog on the beach, taking the children swimming, a day of sightseeing that includes a lot of walking, some horse-riding, trampolining, giving the garden an overhaul…start designing your own programme and be open to trying something you have always wanted to do.

Visualisation technique
Sit somewhere quiet after that, where you won’t be disturbed for 10 to 15 minutes.  Close your eyes, focus on your breathing for a while until your body is nice and relaxed.  Then imagine that you are looking in a full-length mirror and that you have the ability to change the image of the person in the mirror to look like your ideal self.  Imagine you are a sculptor creating that image of your ideal self – keep making adjustments until it is exactly as you wish.  When you’ve got that image in the mirror just right, focus your full attention on it and as you focus on the image, just feel yourself being drawn into the mirror and becoming that image.  Stay with it until you feel yourself merging into it, until you ARE that image.  Feel every positive emotion that comes with this – the confidence, the delight this person takes in their shape and how it reflects who they are.  Feel these feelings in every single cell, muscle and nerve of your body.  Doesn’t that feel really wonderful?!

When you’re ready, and you feel sure that you are that image, you can open your eyes, knowing that you have now created your ideal self and you have stepped into that new reality.  The more you practice this, the stronger your intention will become.  This powerfully instructs the unconscious mind to make your intention your reality.  You may find yourself doing things automatically in alignment with the new you, so follow any hunches you might have about food and exercise and be assured that your unconscious mind is busily doing all that it can to help you!

Remember to jot down any inner promptings in your folder and apply them as you feel appropriate – and enjoy your amazing journey!

“What if I Slip Up Along the Way?”
Forgive yourself immediately, accept that you may have over-indulged with a food you particularly enjoy, but that that’s human because humans are designed to enjoy eating and you’re not going to overdo things too often.  Then take steps to avoid that happening again – for example, cook smaller portions of that dish so that you will not be tempted to have a second helping, if it’s chocolate, only buy a small bar and not a multipack, try baked crisps instead of the usual kind if you crave them, make sandwich fillings so delicious that you don’t need to load on the butter or mayonnaise thickly…and if someone keeps buying you “treats” that are hard to refuse, simply explain to them that you really appreciate the thought, but are working hard to change your eating habits and would love to have their support.  Remember – this is YOUR journey and YOU are in control at all times.

Here is a link on daily nutrition that you might find helpful as you bring your personal eating patterns into balance.  Remember, though, to do your own research too to make your eating plan the best it can be for your own personal requirements.

https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/publication/eatwell0708.pdf

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