We sat down with Jessica Matthews, award-winning wellness educator and published author, to talk about her tips for mindfulness that can be integrated into your daily routine—whether it be for weight loss or everyday life.
When most people think about the key ingredients for successful and sustainable weight loss, nutrition and exercise often come to mind. While these are certainly important elements in the equation, a commonly overlooked, yet critical component in one’s weight loss journey is the power of the mind itself, particularly our own thoughts and beliefs.
How we think about our lives and our health situations often determines how we will act and also how we feel. When it comes to weight loss or any type of health behavior change, mindfulness serves as an essential foundation from which true transformation is ultimately built. While there has been a growing interest in mindfulness practices and programs in recent years, mindfulness itself is not a new concept, as it has been practiced in various forms all around the world for thousands of years.1
While there are many different definitions and interpretations, at the heart of mindfulness is enhanced moment-to-moment awareness. This ability to be fully present with what is and what is not transpiring around you is a critical component in igniting and supporting meaningful, lasting behavior change.
To foster mindfulness in your everyday life, here are four principles that can have a profoundly positive impact on your personal weight loss journey.
In a fast-moving world where multi-tasking is glorified, it can be easy to find your attention constantly divided in an effort to accomplish more in less time. However, when you slow down and give yourself permission to be fully present in the moment, you create the conditions to develop a heightened sense of awareness, which is a powerful catalyst for meaningful change. By bringing more focused attention to the activities you are engaged in, such as mindfully eating, you enable yourself to reconnect with your own innate wisdom, which can help to guide your own self-care.
As you become more present in your life, you can begin to acutely tune in to your automatic thoughts. In order to transform your health and well-being, it’s important to become aware of your own self-talk, which is the ongoing inner commentary of the mind. Without needing to change the “script,” simply begin to serve as an impartial witness to your own experiences, recognizing thoughts as they arise, irrespective of what those thoughts might be, and without feeling the need to judge or label them in any way.
With increased self-awareness, you can now begin to check, and as appropriate, change your automatic thought patterns. Through this process, unrealistic and irrational thoughts can be identified and replaced with more accurate thoughts. By letting go of the “stories” you may be inclined to cling to, such as who you think you are (which is often based on how you believe others perceive you) and what you think you are capable of (which is often limited by your own beliefs), you can begin to see your life in an entirely new way.
By restructuring your thought patterns, you can begin to see and think about situations and yourself in more positive and productive ways. For example, as opposed to perpetuating all or nothing thoughts such as, “I finished off a pint of ice cream last night, so I may as well skip my healthy eating plan this week,” you can begin to shift your mindset in a more positive way. So instead, you may find yourself thinking, “I ate the ice cream and enjoyed it, now it’s time for me to move on and start a new day.”
At Jenny Craig, our personal consultants can help you work on positively changing your inner dialogue in order to make healthier choices.
Embrace yourself as you are
Thanks in part to the constant messages received through popular media, many of us develop a deficit mindset, in which we see ourselves as in need of “fixing.” However, on the journey to positive, health-promoting change, such as weight loss, embracing a mindset that focuses on your strengths can prove powerful. Instead of dwelling on issues that have transpired in your past or honing in on perceived weaknesses, new possibilities for the future can be envisioned by seeing your own unique strengths, skills and abilities in the present moment. In recognizing, leveraging, and celebrating your positive attributes, you can begin to see yourself as whole, resourceful, and capable of the change you want. And in seeing yourself in this positive new light, perhaps a newfound sense of love and appreciation can be cultivated for the amazing person you see staring back at you in the mirror.
Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig