Visualization is a powerful thing. You don’t have to just take my word for it; there have been numerous scientific studies that show not only that it does work, but also how and why it works. Researchers have discovered that visualization works because the neurons in our brains interpret images in the same manner that they interpret actual real-life activity. In other words, when we visualize an action that we want to perform or an end result that we want to attain, we can “trick” our brains to believe we have already performed that action or achieved that goal. Visualization creates new neural pathways, the connections of brain cells that develop when we learn new skills, or when we create memories of real events.
So now that we know how and why it works, how do we apply visualization to our own lives? And how can it be used to reach a very real and measurable goal such as weight loss?
Like most people, I have gained some unwanted weight over the years. And then I lost it. And then I gained some (or all) of it back. On some occasions, the weight came off easily and stayed off for a long time. But on other occasions, not only was it harder to take off, but it was also much harder to keep off. What was the difference between those occasions? What was happening in my life that was having such a big impact on the results?
I have discovered that when stressful events disrupt my life, I get distracted from my health goals and they sometimes fall completely by the wayside. I lose focus and forget to make healthy decisions every day. Maybe you can relate to this. Not only do bad diet and exercise choices derail our efforts and reverse our successes, but the hormones we produce when we are stressed just make everything worse. We find ourselves in a downward spiral that is hard to escape.
Visualization has been a simple and powerful way to help me get out of that spiral. I recently started on another weight loss journey, but this time I decided to use visualization as a tool to keep me focused on what is most important: my health. Here is how I have been using visualization successfully; you can follow these same guidelines and see for yourself how much easier it will be this time around.
Engage All Your Senses
You may think of visualization as just picturing something through your mind’s eye. But there is more to it than that. Visualization is most effective when you use all your senses together to create the most realistic image possible. This will make those neural connections develop much faster. So how do you apply this to weight loss?
First, make a list of the daily practices that you want to perform to reach your goal. Let’s say that one of your practices is to drink more water everyday. Next, visualize yourself pouring the glass of water. Feel the weight of the jug, and the shape and temperature of the glass in your hand. Hear the sound the water makes as it hits the glass. Feel how refreshing the water tastes, and how satisfied you feel after drinking it. Use all your senses as part of your visualization to make it as effective as possible.
Visualize the Positive, Avoid the Negative
When visualizing how you will make healthy choices, focus on the positive aspects of the experience and not the negative ones. For example, don’t think about how you are denying yourself french fries. Instead think about how you are nourishing your body with crunchy, vibrant, nutrient-rich vegetables that will help you become healthier and lose weight.
By focusing on the positive aspects during your visualizations, you will stay more motivated to remain on track. Staying motivated will make it easier to reach your weight loss goal faster. It will also make it easier to maintain your weight loss in the long run.
Visualize the Results
The final step is to visualize the end result. You want to do this in the same way that you visualized the process: using all your senses. Imagine not only how you will look, but also how you will feel. Imagine how your clothes will feel looser on you. Feel how much more energy and stamina you will have once you have achieved your goal.
Following these steps, I have seen much more success on this latest weight loss journey. I have found it easier to stick to my healthy practices because I am more motivated through visualization. Having a very concrete image of what I will not only look like, but also feel like when I reach my goal has been the key to success. Try it and I am sure you will have as rewarding an experience as I have had.
Daniela Naidu is one of the authors for Skilled at Life (www.skilledatlife.com). Through her life experience, she has learned that there is at least one universal truth: we all need the same life skills in order to be happy, regardless of who we are or where we live. That is what led her to develop Skilled at Life. Her goal is to provide as many people as possible with the simple life skills that will ensure that they not only reach their greatest potential, but also find and maintain happiness along the way.