Is it true that Americans are the most overweight people in the world?

On my recent trip to Amsterdam, I was struck by how fit and thin the people were. Losing weight just didn’t seem to be an issue for the people of this metropolitan city. Rena near canal in Amsterdam

Yet, the irony I noticed is that there was a bakery on almost every corner!

How is that possible? How can you lose weight when sugary temptation is everywhere?

How do the people of Amsterdam teach themselves to eat carbs and sweets in moderation?

To me, it points to the fact that living life at your ideal weight can be achieved simply by cultivating a productive mindset with a healthy lifestyle.

In a city decorated with dessert shops, people still manage to keep their weight exactly where it needs to be.

Could that be because the people of this popular European destination are used to walking or biking to wherever they want to go? Or, because they indeed are quite comfortable eating “just one piece of chocolate” instead of the entire box?

Chances are if you are reading this blog, you don’t live in Amsterdam. It’s also quite likely that you already know how to lose weight and therefore do not need to read another article telling you about calorie counting or shaming you into, “eating in moderation.”

With the knowledge you already have, that you haven’t quite been able to implement to achieve success, the question remains: How can you enjoy the same fitness as native Europeans while living in the United States?

Here are three steps that work:

1. Change your thinking

Just because sweet shops, desserts and over-sized portions are a part of our culture, you don’t have to succumb to treating your body like a trash can. I stopped eating sugar and drinking alcohol 30 years ago and it turns out to be the best thing I ever did for myself. You can do the same (if overeating processed foods and sugary drinks is a problem for you).

I know this because I’ve had the privilege of helping thousands to overcome their addictions. How? By changing the brain. When you first decide to change the way you eat, it may feel strange. But as you practice eating only to live rather than living to eat, this new way of life will seem more and more normal. Science is showing us that when we change our behaviors, our brain synapses begin to fire differently, making the new behaviors second nature.

Rena reading menu AmsterdamAccording to the British Journal of General Practice the best way to change a behavior is to link it to an existing trigger, or put it in a context. For example, think of the science experiment with Pavlov’s dogs. Every time a bell was rung, the dogs were given food. Soon the dogs began to salivate even when there was no food given.

In the same way, you can decide to, for example, wake up in the morning and exercise, first thing. According to research conducted by scholars at University College London, when you repeat an activity often enough, even up to 30 days, this new behavior can become automatic, even if your original motivation has taken a dive.

Once engrained in your mind through repetition and practice, you will simply repeat this new behavior, just like you may put your seatbelt on when you get in your car, without having to force yourself to do it.

2. Stay connected to your motivation

When it comes to weight loss, focus on the “why” rather than the “how”. Most people put a lot of energy trying to figure out what diet they need to be on. My suggestion is, take a break from the “How to Lose Weight” concept, and instead ask yourself: “Why am I determined to live my life healthy, fit and at my ideal weight?”

The reality is, you already know how to lose weight—eat less, eat healthy, exercise more.

Instead, tune into your motivational powers. Are you more motivated to stick to your goals, by moving towards what you do want, or by moving away from what you don’t want? Most people have a little of both.Rena with bicycle in Amsterdam

When I first decided to lose weight myself, like many weight loss seekers, I was somewhat propelled forward by my desire to fit into my skinnier clothes.

However, the truth is, what really got me to stick to my new healthy eating and healthy living regime, was my absolute fear of becoming diabetic, needing medicine and dealing with life as a sick, weak and compromised person. Life with diabetes and all its complications was just not an option for me and this realization helped me to strengthen my inner motivation.

In the same way, it will be really helpful for you to determine your strongest motivators—whether that would be fitting into your favorite outfit or not ending up in a wheelchair.

Many people are into “positive thinking” and therefore don’t even want to think about worst-case scenarios. I understand that, especially since I’ve spent the last three decades helping people to become more positive, motivated, happy and successful, by tapping into the power of the mind, with hypnosis.

Even still, I have found that for many of us, whether we like it or not, it’s fear rather than desire, that motivates us to make a change. People innately will put more energy into not losing something they already have than attracting something new to themselves. In other words, it’s fear that often propels us to take action.

You may be one of those rare people who is more motivated by your desire to receive something—like a brand-new body, as opposed to losing something—like your health or intimacy. If that’s the case, that’s wonderful.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether it is fear or desire that moves you forward. What does matter is that you look deep within yourself so that you can discover what does get you to take action (hint: you can discover how you function best by examining areas of your life where you are successful, and following the same pattern in the area of your body and your relationship with food). What matters is that you understand yourself in order to set yourself up for success.

3. Program your mind to win

If you discover that your greatest motivator is being able to move your body with ease and grace so you can travel with your family, start programming your brain to make moving your new normal. Use the power of your imagination.

Imagine yourself dancing, jumping, hopping, running, skipping and playing, like a child. See yourself, in your mind’s eye, playing sports, or just walking in a beautiful place in nature. Athletes who use self-hypnosis techniques, like visualization, are more likely to improve their performance.

Take time to picture yourself achieving your end goal, which may be hiking, travelling, enhancing your relationships, fitting into your clothes comfortably, or reversing illness or disease. Personalize your imagery to make it as real for you as possible. Hypnosis works best when you engage all your senses.

Rena and daughter in AmsterdamI went to Amsterdam a few weeks ago to visit my daughter, who moved to Europe earlier this summer. I was struck by the healthy and happy nature of the people. Of course, the weather was gorgeous, but I’m told that winters there are harsh, making it difficult for the biking lifestyle.

The point is, there is no perfect place to live. Wherever you are right now, you can change your habits and mindset so that healthy foods look more appealing to you, and harmful foods look gross. You have this ability in your powerful, brilliant, creative subconscious mind.

The key is simply to believe in yourself. The only way to make a change in your life is to start exactly where you are. Some people think they can’t be hypnotized. But all thoughts and images in the mind are a form of hypnosis. These suggestions and mental movies, that become solidified into beliefs, compel us to either take action or stay stagnant.

If you fed your mind a new positive, productive idea every day, imagine how your mind would be over-flowing with happiness, productivity and success, in just a few weeks or months.

If your goal is to lose weight and live your life healthy at your ideal weight, know that you have the power within you. You can change your thinking, stay connected to your motivation and program your mind to win, no matter where in the world you find yourself today.

To your heath and happiness always,

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