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Change Your Mind

By michelle_may_md on Jan 17, 2013 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

By Michelle May, M.D.

You become what you think. If you’re not getting the results you want, ask yourself what you were thinking first.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you have a mental tape running constantly that affects your moods and ultimately, your behavior. When these thoughts are negative, outdated, or confining, they undermine the process of change. It stands to reason that without awareness of this mental chatter, you won’t really know why you do what you do.

Your thoughts are the primary creator of your emotions, which inspire your actions, and therefore lead to your results. This “thought > feeling > action > result” cycle is a “causal loop.” (In Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, I call this cycle “TFAR.”)

In other words, when you think a certain thought, it causes you to feel a certain way, which causes you to act in a certain way, which causes certain results, which then “proves” that your original thoughts were correct.

This “thought > feeling > action > result” cycle applies to all of your thoughts, not just those surrounding food, eating, and weight. It applies to your thoughts about your relationships, your career, your finances, your habits, and your abilities—any area of your life within your sphere of influence.

These patterns of thinking become repetitive. Even when a thought pattern leads to poor results, you may stay locked in its trap because it feels familiar and comfortable. Thousands of repetitions of a particular experience create auto-pilot thoughts, feelings, and actions, and therefore, predictable results.

The first step to disrupting an undesirable cycle is to start monitoring your internal conversation and notice the results that it creates. If you recognize that your self-talk is inaccurate, ineffective, or limiting, you can choose to change it in order to change your outcome. Just as the repetition of negative mantras become ingrained, the repetition of new positive mantras will result in the rewiring of your brain.

Interestingly, you don’t even have to believe what you’re saying to yourself at first. There’s power in simply saying it. Your mind doesn’t tolerate incongruence; if your thoughts are saying something, your brain will find a way to make it true. In other words, “fake it until you make it.” When you act “as if” it were true, it often becomes true.

There are many thought patterns or self-talk that will keep you stuck in a rut. Let’s take a look at just one type of internal conversation that is common in people who struggle with their weight, the Inner Critic. This self-talk is harsh and hypercritical and says things like:

“You are weak-willed and you have no self-control.”

“You are too heavy to be attractive.”

“You are lazy and too undisciplined to exercise the way you should.”

Although you may think you’re keeping yourself in line, criticism is a poor long term motivator—even when you’re the one doing the criticizing. Instead this hypercritical self-talk causes feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. As a result, you won’t do your best or even try. The results only prove that the Inner Critic was right—and lead to more harsh criticism.

To change this pattern, begin to use an encouraging, gentle inner voice to motivate yourself toward the positive changes you want. For example:

“It is a challenge to turn down tempting food but you can always have it later when you are hungry.”

“You look really nice in this dress—especially when you smile!”

“You will feel so much better if you take even just a short walk. Everyone has to start somewhere.”

The next time you find yourself eating in a way that feels out of control, uncomfortable, or unsatisfying, ask yourself what you were thinking before you took the first bite of food. Remember that negative self-talk can lead to uncomfortable feelings and overeating. When you practice catching these negative thoughts before they lead to negative feelings and behaviors you can switch to a kinder, gentler, observing voice that coaches you toward the results you really want!

Your thoughts...

Michelle May, M.D. is the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Workshops and Facilitator Training Program  that helps individuals learn to break free from mindless and emotional eating. She is the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. (Download chapter one free.)



This is wonderful advice. Our thoughts create our day and how we experience the world. One of the things I am now putting in to practice is to "feel" thin. And I say things to myself like... "A fit person would chose to eat this". "I am a fit person" I think by repeating positive affirmations instead of negative ones - we can impact our daily lives tremendously.  In the above article I would not say it's a challenge to pass up tempting food. Instead I would turn that around to be inline with my goals by saying "a fit person would chose this or that" or "fit people do not eat this or that" because fit people do not feel challenged. They enjoy the decisions that they make. So enjoy yours!

This is very good advise.  You're right that our thoughts do become reality.  Its weird...I know this to be true however for some reason I have a hard time breaking my negative thoughts... I need HELP!!!!!!!  

I agree positive mental attitude helps us in all walks of life and at all ages. Occasionally it gets switched off, as mine has, the switch is sticky to move, I think I need a jump start.  I'm intelligent read and know what to do, but the devil on my shoulder poo poos the idea, and I'm too tuned in to him to stop listening.

I need help, a size 12 in the posterior is not help, thank you.

I do welcome any helpful tips you may suggest, thank you for reading this message of woe and negativity.  I think the cold spell has much to do with it.


I felt the same way three weeks ago. I was very negative towards myself and its been soo gloomy and cold outside its sometimes can get me down pretty bad. The past three and a half weeks I have been running Monday through Friday nights to my husbands work, which is about 7-7.3 miles I started out as running and walking a lot of the way. But now I have been challenging myself to run the whole way at a nice easy pace. I feel better about my self and I have lost weight. Also I have. Balls yes myself not to eat past 6:30pm. I also try to pay real close attention to how my body feels when I eat so that I don't over eat. Staying busy I know always helps me with not always thinking about how I look. Watching movie and tv that portray women as be skinny and so attractive makes it double times hard on me because I feel like I'm not as good. I have been watching less movies because in the long run I kinda feel like it brings me down. I hope I helped anyone with my personal suggestion. We all aren't going to get through life easy but we can take the challenge and be the best that we can.

Balls yes... Was suppose to say *challenged* stupid auto correct. Haha

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  It always holds true.

What if you are too stressed that u need to help of medicine to come out of that depression to be positive in has become a big question for me.....can anybody pls help...

Get a puppy!! :) something like that gives you something to take care if and nurture. I got one and she brings me so much joy and happiness. Grant it I still get sad and feel alone but I guess that's part if life. The best we can do is do our best to be happy and find things that do bring us true joy. I hope you get feeling better soon. I hate that depressed feeling. It really is the worst.

Its so true that we have a tape running constantly and we need to be aware to change the message. I personally am overweight because I have allowed negativity to become my mantra. I think my unhealthy thoughts have manifested in unhealthy eating and activity levels. After reading this I plan to record some new messages to begin down a positive path to a healthier, thinner more active future.

Great article. Most of our issues is how we think. A book that has help me a lot to improve my outlook on life: The Noticer...all we need is a little perspective.

Original Post by: poojachugh_ca

What if you are too stressed that u need to help of medicine to come out of that depression to be positive in has become a big question for me.....can anybody pls help...

Hi, I have had chronic depression for over 25years and I take meds for it and always will. Yes, I have worked with my doctor over the years trying to get off the meds but after about 9months I always crash and need to go back on them. I am resigned to the fact I will need them for the rest of my life and thats ok! but meds only stabilize the worst symptoms.....we are still responsible for our own over all well being! This article is true! Think happy and be happy! change a negative thought to a positive thought immediately and repeat it 2 o3 times! I still can crash even on meds that why it is important to learn these techniques. never depend on any medication to cure you, we have to do some of the work too! good luck and keep smiling! 

Check out:


It’s the web site of Mike Dooley.

His favorite advice: Thoughts become things…Choose the good ones!

I love his Notes from the Universe—they start my day in a joyful, inspiring way, and many times with a chuckle.

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