Weight loss begins in the mind. Use these tricks from psychologist Walter Mischel to beat slumps and shackle cravings
Terminate With Extreme Prejudice
Willpower acts like a muscle: it can be strengthened, but it’s going to tire out if you ask it to do too much. Don’t go in all guns blazing; try to change your diet and quit smoking at the same time and you’ll only fail at both.
Keep Your Distance
Describe what’s happening to you in the third person, as if you’re an onlooker: “The soldier is about to capitulate and gobble the doughnut.” Yes, you’ll sound slightly mad to any actual onlookers, but this sucks out the emotional cues that make you reach for that sugary snack.
Disguise The Danger
Don’t see a Danish pastry there on the counter. Think of it as a small pool of fat that’s been extracted from between your organs. See it for what it isn’t and it’s easier to defuse cravings.
See that Danish pastry as a small pool of fat that’s been extracted from between your organs
Plan Your Defence
The “If, then” rule says that when you encounter a temptation, you have a preset choice that you must always commit to. So, “If I see chips on the menu . . . then I’ll order the side salad”. This will stop you from being caught off-guard.
Picture the Threat
Try putting an imaginary frame around your temptation and see it as a picture. Or imagine it in black and white newsreel footage, or in a music video from the Eighties. This metaphorical “distance” makes it less real and cuts your physical connections to the food.
There are two parts of your brain working when you make decisions: a hasty, emotional, greedy part, and a cooler, more analytical part. You can learn to rely more on the cooler part by simply counting to 10 and visualising your end goal: long-term happiness, not a few frenzied moments wrestling a cream cake into submission.