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Losing Weight - Discourage Discouragement

One thing we all really understand is that dieting is hard. It
isn't just a case of 'not eating so much' or 'showing a
little willpower.' Our bodies have been evolving over millions
of years into very efficient energy storing machines. There
wasn't always as much food as there presently is, so our systems
are naturally inclined to want to store up energy whenever they
can. When we try to short-circuit that process and control our
diets, our bodies often argue with us! We get hunger pangs,
fatigue symptoms, and all the other things we've discussed so

On top of that we often have others making things harder for us,
deliberately or inadvertently, with such advice as 'you don't
really need a diet' or 'just one meal out won't hurt you.'
With so much in our way, it can be so unfortunately easy to start
feeling discouraged. One thing after the other--be it our own
body, timing and scheduling, money concerns or our well meaning
friends--builds up until we just start telling ourselves that
it's too hard, and maybe we'd feel better trying again later.

The thing is, though, these feelings are temporary. Our friends
aren't always going to trip us up; as they come to understand
our choices, they will start to respect them more and do what
they can to help. Our bodies won't always fight us, either. As
we get used to our changes in diet, our bodies adapt and stop
sending those frustrating signals that cause us so much

So as an important part of building our strong habits, we need to
learn to identify and stop unhealthy criticism and
discouragement. Here are four key steps to help you overcome
these obstacles and clear the path to your goals.

Step One - Identification

As we've stressed before, the key to control is having good
information. To that end, carry around your notebook or journal
with you today. Every time you have a discouraging thought, stop
and write it down. In another article we discussed the STOP
method, so feel free to incorporate this process into your STOP
behaviors. After all, good habits build on each other and make
each other stronger.

At the same time, make sure you also studiously note down every
positive action you find yourself taking during the day. Whether
it's a small step like having a healthy granola bar instead of a
chocolate or reaching a major goal in a fifteen-day plan, make a
note of it alongside your negative actions. Keep these notes
together, they'll be important in a bit.

Step Two - Comparison

So the day has come to an end, and you've kept your notes. Now
is the time to take a look at them side by side and see just what
they look like. Chances are that for most cases, you probably had
several good choices for each discouraging thought. When we try
to set new goals for ourselves, we often find ourselves trying to
compensate for bad choices with several good ones, and this can
sometimes happen when we're talking about discouraging thoughts
as well.

However, even if your negative thoughts outweighed your good ones
for a day, you shouldn't give up. Consider it another goal to
set, that for the next day you'll make sure to build up plenty
of positive reminders to help offset the negative ones.

Step Three - Qualification

There is a difference between legitimate criticism and unhealthy
discouragement. Sometimes we do genuinely mess up, and eat a bit
more than we intended. In these cases, it is entirely fine to say
to ourselves, 'That didn't go very well, I should do better
next time.' But do notice the second part of the phrase, the
all-important 'next time.'

Healthy criticism is aimed at keeping us on the right track, and
identifying where we've made a mistake so that we don't do it
again. Unhealthy discouragement by contrast will very rarely have
an uplifting 'next time' message attached. More likely these
thoughts will be along the lines of 'you messed up, just like

Take a little time to get some distance from your negative
thoughts. Give yourself a day so you have the ability to think
clearly and in proper context, and then take a look back at your
recent list of discouraging remarks you've made to yourself.
Consider each one, and see whether it was just frustration
talking or if there might be a grain of truth to it. If the
latter case is true, consider how you can rephrase the original
thought into a healthy bit of criticism, adding a positive 'next
time,' message.

Step Four - Practice

Our emotions come and go in cycles, and they also respond
strongly to outside influences. Sometimes we'll be going along
just fine, and a bad week at work will lead us to get frustrated
with other things, including our diet efforts, and we'll let
that discouragement creep in.

At times like this, we have to remember to keep identifying,
comparing, and qualifying our negative remarks, until we've
traded them entirely in for more appropriate, healthy criticism
that we can use to seriously look at our problems and better

Discouragement can be our worst enemy, but it is one we can beat
with careful effort and a little time. Integrate these four steps
into your daily routine to ditch discouraging thoughts and
replace them with the healthy, positive habits needed to attain
your weight loss goals.

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