It's all in your mind! Top tips to help you lose weight by 'thinking slim'

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Psychotherapist Mandy Cassidy advises on how to stop calorie counting and 'think slim' to lose weight

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Summer's not too far away, which means it's time to start thinking about losing weight for the ultimate beach body. But if you're fed-up with yo-yo dieting and want to make a permanent change, experts are in agreement that you need to focus on changing your mindset towards food, rather than focussing just on calorie counting and points watching.

Psychotherapist Mandy Cassidy, a consultant with LighterLife, believes that many of us get trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting by focussing too much on food and not enough on why we over-eat in the first place.

Here, Mandy provides a step-by-step guide on techniques you can practice to help manage your weight not only this summer, but for years to come...

"Pay attention to what you are eating, when you do this and how you do this"

Many of us are unaware of how often or when we overeat, whether it's while socialising with friends at a summer picnic or snacking at our desks at work. Think about it; have you found yourself snacking on a large pack of crisps and been shocked when you have eaten the whole thing?

To stop this cycle you need to start focussing on whether you are actually feeding a physical hunger or whether you are using food as comfort or habit, to 'treat' feelings like stress or boredom.

Every time you want something to eat, start to think about whether it's genuine hunger. It's also worth seeing if you have any patterns of behaviour, such as 'treating' yourself when you get home from work. If so, you need to start trying to break these habits.

"Know and be aware of your triggers"

Many people find weight loss especially difficult when they are in stressful situations. If you become aware of the triggers that are leading you to reach for that 'treat' then you may be on the right track to stopping it. For example, if you are aware that you snack at your desk when stressed or pick at food whilst cooking, think about why this could be. Knowing your trigger points will make you consider why you are eating and might stop you reaching for the next snack.

"Don't use food as a treat or reward"

As a child we get used to being given food as a treat or reward as a substitute for real personal attention. This habit often ends up spilling over to our adult lives. Try to treat yourself in other ways, such as a fun activity or speaking to a friend, rather than turning to food.

"Deal with your feelings surrounding your weight"

Being overweight can often lead you to feeling extremely self-conscious about your appearance especially in the summer months. These feelings can often result in you reaching for your chosen 'comfort food' (or as we call it, discomfort food) in an attempt to deal with these feelings. It's important to not let your weight define you and become another reason you turn to food.

"Use distraction techniques to stop from snacking"

I believe that often food is used in an effort to quiet some underlying discomfort, whether you are aware of it or not. You can identify distraction techniques that can work to get you through these moments as opposed to actually eating. Changing your activity, doing some exercise perhaps even outside, having a glass of water, reading a magazine and phoning a friend are all examples of adequate distractions from food.

"Learning to deal differently with the situations that led to weight gain is key to weight management"

Weight management is hugely important to the LighterLife programme, however, maintaining your weight loss can often be the most difficult part.

The challenges you might face to maintain your weight can range from dealing with specific situations to learning to listen to your body or even recognising, when you feel a certain way, you reach for food again. Recognising these situations and addressing them is key to keeping your weight off for good.

What do you think about challenging your brain to lose weight?

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