In my previous post, I provided a basic outline for my recipe.  Today I am going to expand on the first main ingredient and the spices that add to the flavor: Mental Health.

Your mental health is really the foundation for beginning your journey.  You must be in the right state of mind, ready, aware, and prepared.  Know why you want to lose weight.  It’s not enough to do it just because.  Some of the things on my list: I want to keep up with my son, many years down the road I want to be a fun and active grandma, I want to go hiking up a dead volcano in Hawaii, I want to feel good about myself, I want to stay out of the hospital and doctor’s office.  Reasons and goals are very important to keep you motivated on this journey.  Here’s a harsh reality, “I’m fat and feel ugly” just aren’t good enough of reasons.

There are a few other components of mental health that keep you going after you achieve the state of mind necessary to get started.

  1. You have to be selfish.  What?  Yes, be selfish.  It’s true.  Put your health first.  Put yourself first.  I hear in almost every Jillian Michaels podcast that I listen to during my workouts.  The dishes, the cleaning, the laundry – they can wait.  Do your workout first.  Put your health as a priority, and these other things will fall into place.  Personally, after my workout, I’m usually so pumped that I have plenty of left over energy to take care of the house chores, and I feel better about myself.  
  2. Be in the present.  Don’t dwell on yesterday.  Don’t dwell on what you’re going to do.  Be here today and do it now.   I’m going to eat better.  I’m eating better.  I’m going to do it this time.  I’m doing it this time.  I will be successful.  I’m successful right now.  If you always talk about your journey as a thing that is in the future, you may never have success.  It will always be just out of reach.  Instead, give yourself credit for what you did right now.  I made good choices today and I need to recognize that is success.
  3. Set goals.  Realistic goals are important for motivation.  If, for example, you’re aiming to lose 1.5 pounds a week, then mark a day on your calendar 5 weeks out to weigh at least 7 pounds less.  That gives you a little wiggle room for muscular changes and “cheat days”.  Maybe your long-term goal is a 40 or 60 pound loss, but short-term mini goals will give you something to look forward to in the near future, and also boost your confidence when you reach your goal.  My mini-goals have helped me maintain focus and a positive outlook on my journey.
  4. Don’t expect perfection.  You are, after all, only human.  If you eliminate everything from your daily diet that you enjoy eating, you will fail.  You must allow yourself a little room for error while maintaining focus on the end goal.  So, perhaps I’m in the mood for a little wine and chocolate.  It’s something I enjoy.  Red wine has some health benefits as does dark chocolate.  My change in perspective is that I literally use a very small wine sampling glass, and have just one square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate.  The “serving size” for the chocolate is three squares, but I’m satisfied at one.  This is a treat I am allowed every few days, not every day.

What aspects of mental health have you found are keys to success in your journey?  What are some of the reasons you want to be healthy?

Next time, I will dive into healthy eating.