Weight Loss by Mary Shomon

Guest Blog By Mary Shomon, Patient Advocate
New York Times Bestselling Author of “The Thyroid Diet Revolution”

Are You in the Right Frame of Mind for Weight Loss?

If you are struggling with extra weight, you may be self-critical, and have a running commentary of negative thoughts going through your mind about yourself and your body. No matter what sort of weight loss approach you’re planning to take — or trying to follow — one of the most important aspects of success is to make the mental shift from a negative perspective to a positive one.

The most important aspect is how you talk to yourself about your body. Your body is NOT your mind. They are connected, but they are not the same. Start thinking about your body as if it were a beloved friend or child. The next time a negative thought – “I’m so fat” or “I hate my thighs” or “I’m such a pig” comes into your mind, say out loud “STOP!” Then, consider whether you would ever say something like that to someone you loved who was trying to lose weight. Then, reframe the statement to a positive one, in the caring, supportive way you would talk to someone else. For example, “I am beautiful, and am working on being healthier and slimmer.” “My body does amazing things every day, and I’m going to help it become even more amazing.

I know, easier said than done, right? But there’s one truly helpful tool to shifting your thought patterns about food, weight and exercise? I highly recommend Dr. Steven Gurgevich’s audio program, “The Self-Hypnosis Diet.” It helps get the consciousness and the body speaking the same language, in a positive way. You can find it online.

Another approach you may find useful is the “Yet” approach. If you have a negative thought, restate it, but add the word “yet” to the end. For example: “I can’t lose weight” becomes “I can’t lose weight…yet.” Or “I don’t like how I look” becomes “I don’t like how I look…yet.” It takes a definitively negative statement, and with the addition of one word, opens up the possibility of improvement, and converts it into a more positive statement.

Another important state-of-mind issue is learning how to separate eating and stress. Here are two simple — but in today’s busy world, not always easy-to-follow — guidelines:

1. Don’t multitask while eating. Driving, watching television, standing at the kitchen sink, talking on the phone, or reading while eating does not allow the brain – and digestive hormones — to register satisfaction and active the hormones that make you feel full. When you’re eating, try to make it the only thing you are doing.

2. Look at your food and smell it before eating. Try taking several deep belly breaths before you eat, and even better, between bites. Chew food slowly, and thoroughly. This lowers stress hormones (which when elevated, encourage fat storage) and again allows for brain and digestive hormones to be activated, which helps reduce hunger.

A terrific resource to help shift to a healthy, weight-loss-promoting state-of-mind while eating is Marc David’s book, “The Slow Down Diet.” You can find it online.

Focus on stress-reduction in other areas of your life. Stress raises cortisol, and cortisol is the hormone that makes fat cells more receptive to sugar, and less able to release energy and burn calories when needed. Daily, active stress reduction will put you in a more relaxed and receptive state of mind to make healthy diet and exercise changes that will help your weight loss efforts.

Some ways to actively reduce stress? Meditation, guided meditation, prayer, relaxing breathing techniques, pranayama (yoga breathing), gentle yoga, contemplative walking, tai chi, qi gong, and handicrafts (like knitting, crocheting, beading, painting, artwork) and activities like relaxed gardening and bread making.

If you are interested in guided meditation, I highly recommend Demo DiMartile’s “Mastering Deep Relaxation” audio program, from One Light One Spirit. You can listen to a free sample here.

Finally, one essential mind-body element essential for weight loss is sleep. Lack of sleep raises hunger hormones and cortisol, and is a known factor that can sabotage even your best efforts to lose weight. Some doctors even say you’re better off getting an extra hour of sleep in the morning, versus getting up and going out jogging! So make sure you get enough rest to leave you feeling relaxed and energetic, and more able to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle choices.

Mary Shomon, Thyroid Patient Advocate


7 Self Care Tips Mary Shomon

7 Depression Self-Care Tips by Mary Shomon

When you are experiencing depression, it is always important to first talk with your health care practitioner to rule out strictly physical causes. Autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, menopause, hormone imbalances, and many other conditions — as well as some prescription medications – can cause depression as a side effect. Your health care practitioner can also determine if what you are experiencing is “dysthymia” — which is more of a temporary depressed mood — versus a more significant clinical depression that would warrant further investigation.

But if you are feeling slightly down, here are some basic self-care tips that may help you get back on track.

1. Challenge Unhelpful Thinking

If you are stuck in patterns of negative thinking, challenging those thoughts can help shift a depressed mood. One helpful technique is the “4 Questions” approach featured in Byron Katie’s method, called “The Work.”

2. Get Enough Sleep

If you are not getting enough sleep — and for most people, that means at least 7 to 8 hours per night – that an trigger or aggravate depression. Aim for a good night’s sleep every night. Avoiding computers, phones and television at least an hour before bedtime, and making sure your bedroom is dark can help you get a better night’s sleep.

3. Eat Well

Overdoing sugar and simple carbohydrates (breads, pastas, desserts), or eating too much or too little, can aggravate fluctuations in mood, and leave you low in energy. Focus on nutritious foods, and eat mindfully — taking time to chew slowly, and take deep breaths between bits. Aim for two to three healthy meals a day plus snacks, spaced out to help maintain blood sugar balance.

4. Move

Any type of physical activity can have an effect on brain chemicals that help improve mood. Even a gentle daily walk with a friend or pet can improve your mood.

5. Get Sunlight Exposure

Exposure to sunlight has been shown to help improve mood. Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of exposure — without sunglasses – to help. If it’s winter, or sunshine isn’t available, consider using a light therapy box. (A lightbox that is a 10,000 lux strength is the minimum level needed to have an effect.)

6. Avoid Toxic People, and Seek Out Affirming People

When you’re feeling down, it’s not a good time to be around people who are negative, toxic or draining — the “energy vampires” who increase your stress level, or make you feel anxious or frustrated. Better to schedule time with family and friends who make you feel relaxed, who help elevate your mood, and who are supportive and positive.

7. Lean More

Explore other self-care skills. You can download several free resources, including a Depression Self-Care Skills Workbook (PDF), and the MoodJuice Self-Care Depression Guide.

8. De-Stress

Stress can make even a mild mood shift more difficult to overcome. One of the most important things you can do is to incorporate at least 15 minutes of some form of active stress reduction — note: reading and watching television don’t count — into your daily routine. Some of the most effective approaches? Guided meditation, deep breathing and pranayama techniques, tai chi, qi gong, or prayer. For some people, activities that involve repetitive hand motions – like needlework, beading, gardening, bread making, and crafting – can have a similar de-stressing effect when done regularly.

If you are interested in guided meditation, I highly recommend Demo DiMartile’s “Mastering Deep Relaxation” audio program, from One Light One Spirit. You can listen to a free sample here.

Mary Shomon Thyroid Patient Advocate
-New York Times Bestselling Author of “The Thyroid Diet Revolution”