If overthinking burned calories I would be a supermodel, have you ever seen that?
Today we’re talking all about overthinking.
Are you overthinking your weight loss?
Is overthinking in the way of your weight loss? The answer is probably yes, and you’re not alone. I think for myself, and for my clients, we often find that we get into these cycles over of overthinking. This leads to one place and one place only and that is in action. It seems like overthinking would be this great thing. Like I’m going to think ahead about all the pitfalls and all the ways I should do this. All the ways I could make it perfect. We go and spin and ruminate about all the things
I have a list of five things, ways that you might have overthinking showing up in your own weight loss journey, and what to do instead. Let’s just not talk about it, let’s actually do something different.
1) Plan ahead.
This is the biggest one I see, especially because I teach my clients flexible eating. When we’re trying to learn how to be flexible, especially if you have decades of dieting, one of the easiest tools is planning ahead.
By planning ahead, I mean, putting in writing what you’re going to eat for the day we’re in. This isn’t necessarily about food prep. This isn’t about making a plan for the whole entire week or the month or the year. This is hey, what am I eating today? Today is Monday, or Tuesday or Wednesday, or whatever day it is. I look at my calendar, I do my best to plan for the day, even though I know anything could happen. But I know ifI have to go to work or get on a zoom call or pick up the kids early. I kind of have an idea of what my day is gonna look like.
I might already have food prepped, I might not know that I’m going to the store or I’m going to a restaurant. I’m getting something to go. What have you.
When we are trying to lose weight. It is very easy to overthink this part. We avoid planning ahead because we don’t want to make a mistake. We don’t want to write something down and then feel like a failure because we did not follow it exactly. So I want to put it out there that as you’re learning to write things down, and plan ahead, you can make it rather vague.
Enough to say I’m going to have;
- Protein and vegetables or
- Protein and carbs or
- Protein vegetables, carbs.
You could just name the actual macronutrient. Rather than say, it is definitely chicken and zucchini if you’re unsure.
You can always go back and amend what happened. I think that’s part of the process anyway. Even if you aren’t resisting writing things down because you’re afraid to make a mistake. You still want to go back and assess. You still want to go put in the notes.
You still want to include
- Were you hungry?
- Did you have a headache?
- What actually happened?
- Did you eat something different?
- Did somebody bring you food?
That’s what you want.
You want to be able to go back through your plans and we can start to see the trends. Having something written is really key. It is very natural to resist that. Resisting is because you’re overthinking it.
You might be an overthinker…….
2) If you continue to look for new answers and solutions instead of staying consistent.
This is very common. I just ate three salads. How come I’m not skinny yet? Or, Hey, I just saw this fasting ad on Facebook, I should probably do that. Let me go down that rabbit hole instead. Let me see, should I fast for 16 hours or 14 hours or 10?
We start to go and look for these new answers or new solutions because our brain is offering us that there’s something better and I’m not doing it.
3) You think your meals have to be at set times.
You might be an overthinker If you think lunch has to be at 12 for example, and then you panic or give up when something gets in the way. This is really common and here’s the thing, something’s gonna get in the way There’s always going to be something outside of us that we cannot control.
You can be flexible as long as you understand there’s nothing wrong with that. I get it, if you are in corporate America and you only have 12 to one, or 12 to 1215, or whatever they give you and you missed that window, there was a meeting or you got a flat tire or something happened, you will have to be creative.
Sometimes we can take our tendency to overthink, and then move that into being more creative, rather than;
- This is a problem.
- I screwed up my meal times.
- I screwed up the meal order.
- I was only able to eat half the meal.
- I missed this meal entirely.
That is going to happen and it is not a problem for your weight loss. I assure you.
4) You think that you’re doing it wrong when the scale doesn’t go down.
Whether you’re an overthinker or not, it shows up for all of us. In weight loss we’re looking for that external determinant. Is this working for me? Am I doing it right? The scale won’t always go down.
Sometimes it will send us into this hole like;
- I’m never losing weight.
- This is too hard.
- I’ve worked so hard.
- It’s not fair.
- This scale doesn’t show me any love.
- I do all the things and I’m not losing weight.
You go into all of the things that are actually overthinking.
Another way to look at overthinking is ruminating. It’s okay to do that. In fact, give yourself 5 minutes, 10 minutes, half an hour an hour to throw yourself a pity party when the scale doesn’t go down. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. But being able to come out of that is what counts, rather than let it put you into a complete tailspin and take you off course.
We all get to have thoughts and feelings that aren’t necessarily productive. I’m a big fan for my clients who tend to procrastinate or they are buffering. Online shopping, checking Instagram every five minutes, schedule it in, have yourself 30 minutes of scrolling, and then get back to work.
Over time, you’ll start to realize that if I spend an hour;
- feeling sorry for myself,
- beating myself up,
- judging myself,
- hating myself,
- telling myself I’m so stupid,
- I can’t figure it out.
I eventually will figure out that that doesn’t feel good.
That is not moving me forward. Just like a kid, we get to express our feelings however we want. Sometimes you can just get through it faster, when you just write down on paper, all of those thoughts rather than let them swirl unleashed and unhinged in your brain. Just put it on paper. Then you can start to like, say, okay, yeah, I’m making a very big deal that the scale did not go down.
I think we’ve all been there before. We do all the things. We follow a plan, we drink the water, we walk, we work out, blah, blah, but we do the things. We’ve done them. You could have a week or two weeks or three weeks where the scale doesn’t go down. If you keep going, the scale will go down, I promise you it really will.
5) If your workout routine is too complicated.
I see this everywhere, especially these groups that are really focused on weight loss in Facebook land. I get added to a lot of these groups, and a lot of them really focus on the workout more than the food or more than the mindset. It’s all about the workout.
We get a workout that has way too many exercises. We change the workout way too often. Almost like this idea that I have to be able to confuse my body. Remember the muscle confusion? Guess what? Your body is never confused. Because if our body was confused, we’d already be dead. Then just too much working out in general. It’s easy to see that our brain thinks, I have to make it interesting. I have to hit all of these different muscles. I have to keep my body guessing. I don’t want it to adapt.
Your body is going to want to adapt and the faster we adapt, then we probably do have to change something. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to do that much in your workout routine. When I think about a workout routine or a gym routine I’m talking about going into the gym and probably doing sets of exercises. It depends on your training age. If you’re somebody who’s been working out a really long time, you probably can handle 20, 22, 24, 28 sets of working out. You might be newer. You might only be hitting five exercises, two sets of 12 reps.
Honestly, this is a way that you are using overthinking to try to think your way through the workout to weight loss and it doesn’t work. This is actually one that definitely will backfire. Especially if you’re a woman over 40. If you’re under 40, or you don’t have a lot of metabolic issues, probably not going to be the worst thing here. You can get away with a lot of exercise and doing 12 different machines and 40 reps of each one, all of that is totally fine.
Here’s the thing, overthinking can be a coping mechanism, but without adding more stress, diagnosing ourselves and judging ourselves. Something more to overthinking is that it is just a natural part of the way our brain wants to protect us from making a mistake.
I don’t know if you’ve heard this idea that we have one brain, it’s one functioning brain, but think about it like having two minds. We have the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of our brain that can actually go, I see that really doesn’t make sense when I have it on paper. When you say it like that, I totally see it. Then there’s our primitive brain. All it knows is really three things. One is reward. So our brains are driven to get the prize. To get the good tasting food or the drink or the dopamine hit from the online shopping or the scratch ticket or what have you.
Our brains are really connected to avoid;
- a mistake,
- doing it wrong,
- looking stupid,
- feeling foolish,
- wasting time,
which is so interesting, because essentially, that is what we end up doing when we overthink.
We waste time, energy, resources, shit on ourselves and we don’t move forward.
Another part of this primitive brain is really just about automation. we end up where you feel like I can’t stop overthinking. You’re right. You can’t. As long as you allow yourself to overthink, your brain is trained to do it so far. It’s habituated that if the scale doesn’t go down, I must be doing it wrong. Now I’m going to spend all day beating myself up, telling myself how much I screwed up, and then I’m going to look for a different answer. I’m going to try to work out harder. I’m gonna do all these things. And we just keep going around and around and around.
What is really the answer? I think that the real answer is understanding that this is normal, not beating ourselves up. Getting a dedicated notebook to get some of this stuff out of your head. If you want to break the cycle of overthinking, you’re really going to have to take the thoughts you have, especially the ones on repeat, and put them on paper. Then we really want to look at what are the facts and what is fiction. What are the feelings like? Let’s just pull this apart.
We could believe that;
- We’re going to make a mistake.
- There is a better solution.
- I’m doing it wrong.
- I don’t have the right answer.
- There’s a better fasting window or a better diet.
- There’s another diet out there that I don’t know about.
- We can convince ourselves that I have to only eat from this set of foods or at this time.
Once we put that on paper, the things that we think over and over again, we can go through it and we can ask ourselves, is this really true? What else could be true?
That is such a great question. Ask yourself what else could be true? Or what could I think instead? I’m going to tell you all of this is totally normal. I know it because I wrote it. I think I’m pretty normal. I think I’m probably a lot like you and that I’ve done all the diets and my brain will revert right back to diet mentality. Unless I take control. I do allow myself to spin out. Have a little pity party, and then we rein it in. It’s like letting my inner child have a temper tantrum, then we rein it in. So let’s figure out what we could do.
Planning ahead for your food is not hard. It does take practice, like anything else. If you’ve never done that before, that is okay. One way you could start is just committing to keeping a food journal. Even if you’re not planning ahead so that you make it safe for your brain, the primitive part, to write down what you’re eating. We don’t need to weigh and measure everything. You don’t need a calorie count or a macro count. I see this happen a lot, too.
If you want to talk about overthinking, we start to think oh, well, this still isn’t good enough. I need to know every detail. I’m going to tell you, if calorie counting and macro counting worked, you probably would already be at your goal weight. So think about keeping a food journal to then allow yourself to plan ahead. Figure out one or two strategies that you’re going to stick with. There is always going to be something new on the horizon, some new diet, some new antidote, some kind of shot or pill or surgery. Something is always coming along.
It’s like getting married and then constantly scrolling through personal ads or Tinder or match.com. It’s like already having committed to marrying someone or a relationship, but yet, instead of working on our relationship, we’re busy looking around for something better. Maybe you are doing that and I’m not not going to judge you for that. That is okay, too.
The overthinking part is okay when we use it to our advantage like what if I can’t eat my lunch at lunchtime? What else can I do? Using your overthinking for problem solving is totally fine but just notice when you’re using it to keep yourself stuck and in action, it’s totally normal, but it’s not helping you.
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.
Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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