Feeling grateful is one of the most powerful and overlooked tools in weight loss. The facts are that not only does being grateful make you feel happier and more content, but it actually changes the neuro pathways in your brain that can help with weight loss.
Gratitude helps with weight loss in several ways;
Gratitude makes us calmer and less reactive
Often when we are stressed and reactive we make poor food choices. Think about the last time you overate - were you feeling peaceful? Being grateful helps to settle and decompress us - it is in this calm state that we can make heathy choices about our eating.
Gratitude makes us more positive about ourself and the world
The more we value ourselves the more likely we are to want to look after ourselves. Too much of our eating is driven by self loathing - negative emotions that sabotage our health. Robert Emmons (an expert on Gratitude) found that people who kept a gratitude journal were 25% more positive about themselves. The more you like yourself, the more likely you are to take care of yourself - prioritising what it takes to be a healthy weight.
Gratitude makes you exercise more
Feeling grateful and positive makes it more likely you will exercise and the more you exercise, the more you exercise!
Gratitude increases our self control
Gratefulness increases our ability to wait. Possibly because it makes us generally calmer? Self control is one of keys in weight loss.
So, how do we develop gratitude?
Finding big, epic things to be grateful for is relatively easy. Most of us can readily accept that we have some good things in our lives - a safe house, enough food, family and friends who love us. What is slightly harder is being grateful for the small things and being grateful when we don’t feel we have much to be grateful for. True contentment comes when we can notice and appreciating the small blessings and when we can sift out the negative to find the gold. In a busy, and often negative world, finding the positive can be challenging.
Actively look for gold
When miners used to pan for gold they would start by walking up and down the river bed looking for the glint of gold. Not many fortunes were made accidentally - to find the gold you have to be looking for it. Sometimes the gold might just have been a slither, amongst a whole lot of sand and dirt; you had to be alert and focused to notice it.
Looking for things to be grateful for is the same. You have to actively look. You have to set your mind to looking, constantly, for good things - like looking for gold amongst the sand. The way the sun hits the back of your couch; The small bird pecks at the grass in your garden; How the laughter from the kids next door floats through your kitchen window. Actively look for things that you are grateful for and let them sink into your heart. Notice and breathe them in and let them wash over your heart. Practice this as often as you can.
Sift through the silt to get to the gold
The other key practice in developing Gratitude is learning to find the gold amidst the negative things in your life. This is harder again, but absolutely invaluable in changing your mindset. Life throws us a lot of curl balls and it can be easy to focus on those; but, even amidst the darkness, you can find glimmers of hope, small things to be grateful for. Sift away the dirt and sand to find the treasures.
For example, if you are feeling grumpy you have to do the dishes, what about being grateful that you had food to eat? Have to hang out the washing again? What about being grateful that you have clothes to keep you warm. Backslid on your weight loss recently? Try being grateful that you managed to lose some weight so you know you can do it again. Recently lost your job? Could you find some joy in now having the chance to reassess your direction in life? Once you learn the habit of panning for gold, even the darkest situations become more manageable and you’ll find more joy in your life.
Remember, the more grateful you become, the more energy, positivity and motivation you will have - you can use this to focus on your weight loss and to make your health a priority.
Start a gratitude journal
Now that you know WHY and HOW to develop Gratitude, it’s time to put it into practice - the best way is to start a Gratitude Journal. Find a pretty book, or some blank paper and start. Each day try and write down:
Two General things you are grateful for. Start with broad, ordinary things eg “I am grateful for my husband”, or “I am grateful for a roof over my head”, or “I am grateful I have enough food in the fridge”. As you get more practiced try looking for smaller “glints of gold”.
One Weight loss related thing you are grateful for. Something related to your weight loss that you are grateful for. Eg “I am grateful I am building confidence”, “I am grateful I am understanding my food triggers”, or “I am grateful for my Green Apple FastFx for breakfast”. “I am grateful that I resisted that biscuit at work today”. Even if you aren't feeling overly positive about your weight loss that day, try and find something to be grateful for. The more positives you can find, the more likely you will be to make healthy choices.
It may seem silly to have to write these things down, but I really encourage you to. Gratitude is a practice, so you do have to keep up with it, but, trust me - keeping a Gratitude Journal will help you feel calmer, more positive and help keep you on track with your weight loss.
“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins”
Neale Donald Walsh