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Can Weight Loss Success Come from Thinking Positively?

Posted Mar 17 2010 2:00am

When you decide to start dieting because you need to lose the weight, does it help to “think positive”? Is this an effective tool for achieving weight-loss success?

While thinking on the bright side is sometimes associated with keeping up motivation, there is some positive thinking that actually doesn’t work so well.

There are two ways of thinking about the future: One is to have expectations; the other is to have fantasies.

Expectations have to do with what you think will happen. Your expectations are tied up with feelings of being capable—that is, whether you feel you have what it takes to accomplish what you wish to accomplish. Also, expectations have to do with whether you believe behaving in a certain way will produce your desired outcome.

Fantasies are different. In fantasy, you picture the future in your mind, whether or not it is likely that your picture will come true.

So, which works better as a way of thinking about the future?

You guessed it—having expectations as opposed to fantasies works much better. Why—because expectations are based on applying past experience to future events. This is a much more valid base from which to proceed with getting what you want.

Fantasies on the other hand, no matter how positive and wonderful they appear, do not alone provide you with a sold basis for pursuing your goal. They show you a great end-point, but not how to get there. When you simply fantasize about being a size 6, you are not giving yourself any kind of blueprint for action.

So, you want to lose the weight. When your expectations for the future involve your past experience with weight-loss attempts, all sorts of useful ideas come up. You can go over failures, and learn from them. You can study your mistakes and develop new strategies.  These are the things that greatly enhance your chances for success.

You can’t just “think positive”. You’ve got to “think smart”.

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