“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. It’s a catchy tune, sure, but it’s not the best approach to success! Overly optimistic thinking goes like this ” I went WAY over my calorie budget today, but I’ll get back on track tomorrow, somehow”. While it’s helpful to assert good intentions (rather than beating yourself up) being vague about how you’ll recover isn’t helpful. Thinking things will get better somehow, without having a plan to make it happen, can derail your weight loss efforts because we need to identify what needs to change and than set specific steps to change it. So for instance the fix for going over your daily calorie budget could be to plan out your day for tomorrow. While most unhelpful thinking styles are negative (example beating yourself up) the don’t worry be happy style feels helpful and positive. But it too can lead to feelings and actions or more often, inactions that undermine our journey. Because it masquerades as something positive, this thinking style might demand a little practice and shift.
An example on how to manage this type of thinking was provided by the Weight Watchers Weekly on this subject. It teaches you a way to “balance your thinking”.
- Identify your “don’t worry be happy” thought. (Example: I ate way more than I planned at my lunch date today. I’ll get back on track later.)
- Reality check it. Ask yourself “what needs to happen to make this true?” Use your answer to shift to a helpful thought that has one ot more back on track solutions. (example: If I make a plan, I will be able to get back on track later. I could track what I ate.)
- Plan what you’ll do. Choose one action from your ideas above that’s doable. Make a specific plan for what you’ll do, when you’ll do it and who you’ll do it with (if anyone). (example: I’ll track what I ate at lunch during my 3pm break at my desk by myself. That’ll help me see how many calories I’ve used and decide what to eat for dinner)
I’m a good one for this kind of thinking. I am a big “don’t worry, be happy” thinker when it comes to my weight loss journey. That’s why it’s ben so SLOW! I’m always saying to myself “it’s ok tomorrow will be better” – spoiler alert- tomorrow is never better. The action plan above is great and something I am going to give a try!