If you struggle with relentless weight gain or seem unable to lose stubborn unwanted pounds, you may be dealing with an ANT infestation. ANTs, you say??? Yep, that’s right. We’re not talking about the six-legged “marching two by two” through your picnic variety though. The worthless ANTs sabotaging your weight loss efforts are much more sinister because they take up residence in your mind.
Weight loss research shows that automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs, are common. Managing them can have a significant positive impact on weight loss and other aspects of healthy living: ANTs are mood killers, slow the thinking process, increase impulsivity, and dramatically decrease activity in some parts of the brain.
Here are 10 of the most problematic ANTs identified by therapists:
1. All or Nothing. Example: “I just ate a doughnut, I might as well give up on my diet.”
2. Always Thinking (overgeneralizing). Example: “I have always been fat—it will never change.”
3. Focusing on the Negative. Example: “I lost 10 pounds but wanted to lose 15. I’m a complete failure.”
4. Thinking With Your Feelings. Example: “I feel like a loser so I must be one.”
5. Guilt Beating. Example: “I ought to go to the gym more.”
6. Labeling. Example: “I’m a slob.”
7. Fortune-Telling. Example: “This might work for a few months, but it will never work in the long run.”
8. Mind Reading. Example: “Other people think I’m stupid.”
9. Blame. Example: “It’s your fault I gained weight because you wouldn’t exercise with me.”
10. Denial. Example:“I only binge when I’m stressed out, not every day.”
Do you have an ANT problem?
If so, speaker and author Byron Katie might be the best exterminator around. She says all the suffering that goes on inside our minds is not reality. “It’s just a story we torture ourselves with.” Her simple, completely replicable system for freeing ourselves of the thoughts that make us suffer starts with writing down your ANTs and then asking yourself the following four questions:
Use this powerful tool to rid your mind of those pesky ANTs each and every time they creep up. Learn to recognize them immediately, and do not allow them to lounge comfortably in your mind. Your brain…and your thighs…will thank you.