5 min read

The Psychology of Weight Loss: The Mind Body Spirit Connection

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It seems that everyone is interested in learning how to lose weight safely and effectively. Diet and exercise are important cornerstones to weight loss, but a third pillar of weight loss is psychology. Effective weight loss is not just about what you are eating. It’s also about what you are thinking and saying. Let’s take a look at the mind body spirit connection, and how you can put that to work for you on your weight loss journey.

Understanding the Power of the Mind Body Spirit Connection

The mind body spirit connection refers to the totality of our being. All three of these aspects are interconnected, and when one of these aspects is out of balance, it can affect the others. For example, your mood and emotions directly impact your stress level which can cause physical health issues. If you’re feeling mental distress, it can lead to spiritual distress and that can manifest as a lack of motivation. By paying attention to the mind body spirit connection, you can be more intentional about how you care for yourself to create better health and wellbeing for a lifetime.

How does the mind body spirit connection relate to weight loss? Weight loss isn’t just about portion control and exercise, so you burn more calories than you consume (ie: physical health). There are also psychological factors that impact your weight loss:

  • Mental: Stress levels — Reducing stress changes the physical symptoms your body experiences, which is key to helping you lose weight.
  • Spiritual: Mindset — A positive mindset plays a significant role in weight loss. When you’re able to visualize the weight loss, break negative thought patterns, and embrace self-care, you treat yourself with kindness on your weight loss journey.

The Psychology of Weight Loss

Don’t let mental or spiritual blocks derail your weight loss journey!

There are five common mental/psychological blocks to losing weight:

  1. Negative body image: A negative body image increases the risk of engaging in unhealthy weight loss behaviors, such as excessively restrictive eating, over-exercising, and other disordered eating behaviors (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating).
  2. Stress: Stress can lead to poor sleep, increased appetite, and reduced motivation to exercise. Long-term stress can lead to higher insulin levels that drive down blood sugar and cause cravings for sugary and fatty foods. Chronic stress can elevate cortisol levels, so your body goes into fight or flight mode, slowing your metabolism and storing belly fat to keep up your energy to “fight”.
  3. Depression/anxiety: People who struggle with mental health issues often experience sleeplessness and fatigue, which can make weight loss more difficult. Depression can also interfere with impulse control, and result in eating disorders.
  4. Comfort zone: Taking yourself out of your comfort zone to change your eating and exercise habits can be overwhelming. When you are mentally overwhelmed, you tend to cling to old routines where you feel safe.
  5. Thinking in extremes: Black & white thinking is an all or nothing mindset that pushes you to accept failure as soon as one single thing goes wrong instead of getting back on track. This kind of thinking creates a barrier to success.

There are three common spiritual blocks to losing weight:

  1. Fear: When you embark on a new path, there is always fear — fear of judgment or fear of failure. The more you fear, the more retreat, and that makes it more difficult to change old habits, dooming the weight loss journey.
  2. Constant perfection/high expectations: When a perfectionist cannot achieve a goal, they stop trying because they fear failure. When you set high expectations for yourself and don’t meet those lofty goals you lapse into depression, sabotaging your weight loss journey.
  3. Motivation: Lack of motivation to lose weight can be a symptom of fatigue, high stress levels, and feeling overwhelmed. Explore why you’re feeling unmotivated, why you want to lose weight, and the realistic expectations you can set in place to regain your motivation.

5 Mind Tricks to Aid in Weight Loss

Everyone needs support on their weight loss journey, so here are a few simple psychological tricks to help keep you on track:

  1. Set Concrete Goals: Setting SMART goals can help you overcome the psychological blocks to losing weight. SMART means setting goals that are SPECIFIC (What will you do? How will you do it?), MEASURABLE (Use firm numbers like amount, duration, and frequency), ACHIEVABLE (Short-term goals that are attainable in a brief time frame), REALISTIC (Small goals that align with your long-term objective), and TIMELY (Set a firm date to reach short-term goals).
  2. Surround Yourself with a Supportive Community: It takes a village to achieve a goal. Surround yourself with encouraging people that will (gently) hold you accountable to your goal of weight loss in support of better health. OHI can be just the supportive community you need. Our 21-day cleansing program will jumpstart your weight loss journey, our educational classes will teach you how to maintain a healthy raw vegan diet at home, and our staff, missionaries, and guests will cheer you on every step of the way. They are the friends that become family.
  3. Redefine Success: Focus on the progress toward attainable goals, not just on the number on the scale, and you’ll have frequent successes to celebrate.
  4. Focus on Self-Worth: You deserve to have a body that is healthy and pain-free. Improve your sense of self-worth and focus on all the good that can come from weight loss — better health, a longer life, higher energy, and the prevention of disease.
  5. Adopt Stress Management Techniques: Minimizing stress allows your body to release the weight. Try any of these effective stress management techniques — journaling, meditation, visualization, yoga, mindfulness, breathwork, or guided imagery.

Jumpstart Your Weight Loss with Simple Psychology

Losing weight to achieve better overall health is an admirable goal, but the journey is not always an easy one. It’s not as simple as eating less/moving more. The mind body spirit connection posits that your thoughts, feelings, and actions have just as much of an impact on your weight loss journey as the food you eat. By being more intentional about how you care for yourself, you can embrace true optimal wellbeing. There are many mental blocks that can prevent weight loss, from stress and depression/anxiety, to fear and perfectionism. Why not put some simple psychology to work for you and jumpstart your weight loss journey by setting concrete goals, adopting stress management techniques, and redefining “success.” One of the most effective psychological tools you can implement is to surround yourself with a supportive community. A holistic healing retreat at OHI will reboot your mind body and spirit, give you the education you need to change your mindset, and reaffirm your connection with God. Weight loss isn’t about hating the body you’re in. It’s about loving yourself enough to do the best you can every day and celebrate the power of the mind body spirit connection. Change your mindset and change your life! Employ simple psychology and embrace meaningful change on your weight loss journey!

Give yourself the gift of a healing retreat at OHI and jumpstart your holistic healing journey. Book your next visit to OHI today. Call OHI at (800) 588-0809 to learn more about our holistic approach to health and wellness. See you soon!