We have all been there, after the initial excitement wears off and your fitness progress slows down, losing weight and achieving your health goals can feel like an uphill, never-ending hike. Your body is intelligent and thus it adapts to the new exercise status quo by speeding up your metabolism and increasing your caloric and nutrient needs. If you are used to eating processed carbohydrates you may find yourself eating that dreaded bread and justifying it with your new exercise habit. And thus losing weight becomes more work, less fun and a slower, more painful process. To counter this evolutionary curveball I have found solutions in the least likely of places, creativity. This list of strategies helps you tap into your creative expression, helping you exercise your mind to maximize your physical fitness.
Creative Visualizations: Scheduling 5 minutes each day of ideal body visualization helps you regain your original momentum and stay motivated. Pick a quiet and relaxing place, sit with your eyes closed and develop a vivid picture of yourself at your ideal weight, feeling beautiful and confident. Notice and actively release any self-doubt or self-sabotaging beliefs and embrace your “new” body as if it was already a reality.
All YOU Can Eat Day: In his book 4-hour Body, author Tim Ferriss writes about scheduling one day of the week to eat anything you want. Being a professional health fanatic I had my doubts and decided to experiment. Indeed the results are incredible. You can binge once a week and even gain a few pounds but when you keep to a nutritious diet the other 6 days out of the week you quickly regain your results a day or two after your scheduled binging day. It’s an unexpectedly effective way to break a restrictive nutrition plan without falling off the health wagon. This technique is especially effective for folks struggling with overeating and food addiction. If you are attempting to lose weight without success you may have one or more food addictions. Limiting consumption of your addiction food to once a week, even if that once a week portion is 3 times bigger than your usual dose, leads to positive physical and psychological results. It limits your overall consumption of that food and it allows you to relearn how to feel good without that food.
Letter to Future You: This strategy requires you to access your emotional relationship to fitness. Once a week, hand write a letter to future you in a journal or notebook. Tell her how you feel now at your current weight and why it’s important for you to lose weight and achieve your health goals. Candidly share with her your struggles, your doubts and even your wishes as if you were talking to the most caring and loving person you have ever met. The weight loss journey is intimate, often marked by a lot of failed attempts, and it requires vulnerability and emotional resilience. Vulnerability is sometimes accompanied by painful albeit well-intentioned feedback from loved ones. For us Latinas, sometimes feedback comes from parents and other family members. Remember, when you write these letters to remind or convince yourself (depending on your reasons) that you want to get healthier and fit for you, not to please anyone else, or comply with social norms and beauty standards.
As with many of life’s challenging experiences, when you claim your creative process, your physical resilience follows.