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Whether it’s experiencing guilt, anxiety, feeling unsupported by those around us – or something else, in these challenging times – negative thoughts and feelings can often lead us back to unhealthy habits that we want to leave behind. This can cause huge damage to our long-term weight loss success. We know that many Slimming World podcast listeners are struggling with these thoughts at the moment, so we wanted to get an expert view on how to reframe them to protect our weight loss from lockdown sabotage. Cue our very special guest, behavioural psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos

We were really fortunate to have Dr Linda as a guest on the ‘Managing your mindset’ episode (you’ll find a link to this podcast below) – and lots of people got in touch to say they’d nodded, cried and laughed along as we talked about things that many of us are thinking but have been afraid to admit out loud.

Among the insights from Dr Linda, we learnt that “feelings are not facts”, how to “challenge and distract” from negative thoughts, and to “use the scales as data, not a report card” (in other words, you can take the information you need from the scales without using it to define you).

From managing our “inner chimp” to understanding our hormones and even learning new techniques to help us handle our cravings, both Anna and I were bowled over by how much choice we actually have when it comes to reframing our minds to notice the positives in life. 

When discussing how to avoid falling back into those unhealthy habits, Dr Linda says: “In times of uncertainty, what do you need or want? You want things which feel familiar, you crave consistency and you want to fall back on tried-and-tested techniques. Right now, it might feel like the worst time to do the best things for you. Although routine and self-care are precisely what we need.”

Like many things, feeling supported will make staying on track much easier. Some of our listeners just don’t feel this at home, and Dr Linda gives great advice on how to get the encouragement you need. She says: “For me, the magic in Slimming World is support. During these times, having virtual groups is really important. I also think that sometimes people need to be told how to support. Be prescriptive. Let them know what will help and what won’t help.” So it’s absolutely OK to ask people not to bring you chocolate, if that’s a trigger food for you!

Dr Linda also spoke about the power of acknowledging that “you get to be you” on your weight loss journey, saying: “The people who get there are the ones who love themselves along the way. Take a second and think about what you are grateful for – that you’re you. You’re doing something which is going to change your life!”

That comment really resonated with me personally. During lockdown I’ve struggled to carry on losing weight, but I have maintained and protected my 5st weight loss.

The pause on life due to lockdown has forced me to sit with and reflect on where I’ve come from and my achievements over the last two years. And, inspired by Dr Linda, I shared a letter I’ve written to my body – thanking it, instead of endlessly criticising it in the way I’ve become used to over the years. Since then, we’ve received so many messages from members saying they’ve been inspired to write letters to themselves, too. It’s time to stop, reflect and see the good in ourselves – and this is a powerful tool in turning those negative thoughts into something more positive.

So, instead of beating yourself up for eating that extra cake or biscuit, or having more wine than you’d planned on Saturday night, put the focus on what you have won today. Did you take a walk? Did you fill your plate with plenty of veg at dinner? Did you help to support other Slimming World members in your virtual group? Or maybe your achievement for the day is actually deciding to be kind to yourself and celebrate the successes you’ve achieved so far. As Dr Linda says: “It’s about valuing you for what you are, rather than what you’re not.”

To hear more from Dr Linda on how to manage your mindset and protect your weight loss during lockdown and beyond, you can listen to the full episode (no. 76) here. Plus, there’s a whole catalogue of previous episodes to keep you inspired. Remember, it’s not about how quickly you get there – staying on your journey during these difficult times is an achievement in itself!

With love and healthy wishes,

Clare x

P.S. If you’ve no idea what a podcast is, it’s a sort of radio show about a specific topic, and you can listen to it whenever and wherever you want. It’s free to subscribe and open to everyone. Search for ‘Slimming World Podcast’ on Spotify or the Apple Podcasts and Castbox app, or listen via your browser at: https://audioboom.com/channel/slimmingworldpodcast

What would you write in a letter to yourself? Have you already tried this exercise? Did you find it helpful? If you’d like to share your thoughts with us, you can email us at the Slimming World blog.

If you’d like to find out more about our supportive virtual groups, your local Consultant will be happy to help. You can also find out more about our temporary virtual group service and our Slimming World Online service here.

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