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Monday, 06 September 2021 11:11

Thinking About Fun

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What comes to mind when you think about vacation? Do you brainstorm all the ways you can have fun? Do you think of the places you can go that would fill you with a good feeling and would be a joy-filled experience? Do you plan activities that are fun, enjoyable, guaranteed to make you laugh and relax? Just the thought of vacation implies time out from worries, stress, and the concerns of our everyday life. So, how do we take a lesson from thinking about vacations and make the thought of losing or gaining weight bring up feelings of joy, fun, and eager anticipation?

As much as I encourage people to live in the present moment and not to postpone our happiness until we reach our goal, there is a benefit and a reason to focus on that future goal. If I’m planning to go to Yosemite National Park, I’ve got a lot of planning to do to make that trip happen. It might feel like a burden in addition to my regular daily tasks. So, I spend time looking at pictures and maps of the park, imagining what it will be like to be there and experience it, and imagine leaving my daily routines behind. I think about spending time with my traveling companions. By keeping my eyes and attention on all the excitement and adventure I’m going to have, the extra time spent planning activities feels like fun instead of work!

We can do the same thing when we’re thinking about our weight goals. We imagine what we’ll look like. We think about going to the store and buying clothes off the rack instead of going to specialty shops. We imagine playing with our kids and grandkids, traveling, hiking, and being active enough to keep up with the group. We can feel the joy of being at our weight goal and doing things with people we love. With that spark of anticipation for the destination, we can make the steps it takes to get to the weight goal feel like fun instead of work!

Taking the analogy one step further, we also plan to make the journey fun. If we’re going by car, maybe we take along car games, or electronic devices so we can stream music or videos. We look for side trips on the way where we can make a short stop or two to see something different and wonderful. If we’re traveling by air, we do the same. What books, music, and videos will we take to entertain us on the flight? Having fun makes the journey seem to go by easily and quickly. If we’re going to Disneyland and it’s a 5-hour car ride, we don’t sit in the car and complain the whole way about being in the car. We have fun on the trip, feeling the excitement build as we get closer and closer to the theme park.

When we’re excited about the goal, the best way to get there is to make the journey fun. We are immensely creative! We can find ways to make the journey to a weight goal seem to go by easily and quickly. The very first place to start is with our thoughts. We are so used to thinking of weight management as hard work. We are sure it involves feeling deprived of certain foods, and nothing that’s good for us tastes good, and on and on. Those thoughts are sure to come true. If we can’t think of reaching a weight goal as anything but awful, then we limit our ability to be creative and find ways to make it fun and enjoyable.

If it sounds like a stretch to go from awful to joyful, start easy. Are you willing to find out if a weight journey can be different from all the times you’ve tried it before? Just start there, with being willing to look at it a little differently. Maybe I could find a way to make this work for me instead of working against it every step of the way. With that willingness, take one small exploratory step. Are you planning to use a specific weight program or are you enrolled in one already? How much flexibility is there in the plan to make it your own. Find one small way you might make the food choices more appealing. Can you add some spices? Can you modify a recipe to make it closer to the tastes you like the best and stay within the plan guidelines?

What about exercise? Do you have an idea in your head of what it means to exercise or how much you have to do to make it worthwhile? What if you thought of exercise as ‘movement?’ Does that give you new ideas? Do you love to walk, dance, do yoga, tai chi, chi gong, swim, row a boat? Can you stand up instead of staying seated all day? What is one little thing you can do to increase the amount you move in a day in a way that feels good to you? You don’t have to go from couch potato to fitness expert all at once. Think about ways to make movement fun! And think about ways to ease yourself into it. When you feel good about what you’re doing, you’ll want to do it more often and for longer periods of time. It just happens that way!

And what about that have to thought? Can you turn that into something that feels better? I want to stand up. I want to move. I do this for me. I feel wonderful when I walk. I feel free when I swim. Be careful not to play make-believe when doing this. You have to actually feel and believe the thoughts. That’s why it’s important to find the activity that feels wonderful, freeing, and fun. So, when you think about it, you can authentically think about it from a position of power. It’s your choice to do this form of movement. It’s not something you have to do because some expert says it would be good for you. You know it’s good for you. You’re intelligent. You can read the data and the research as well as the next person. Making it your personal choice and tailoring it to your life and your goals is where the fun comes in.

Thinking about ways to make the journey fun actually allows us to live our best life in every moment. The anticipation of the fun we’ll have when we reach a weight goal is brought into the present moment by directing our thoughts to how we can make the journey the greatest adventure of our lives. Every step we take makes up the joyous dance toward our goal. Let’s create some awesome new dance steps and have fun with this!

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Betty Brink

Betty Brink is an expert on the mental and emotional aspects of dieting and body image. She is the author of "The Main Meal: The New Perspective on Weight Loss." In seminars, speeches, and consultations, she demonstrates practical methods to quiet the diet chatter, and to empower yourself to make conscious choices in diet, in life, and in relationships.

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