When you set a weight loss goal, do you truly “see” what the goal looks like? We say we want to lose a definitive number of pounds or be a certain pant size but rarely do we take the time to resonate on what that means. Maybe you have been there before so you know exactly what you will look like. But, what if it has been so long that you can’t quite recall? Or, what if you’ve never been there and so you have no idea what your end result will be?
The power of visualization is an amazing motivator to help you reach your goals. It is like a movie trailer that excites you for what lies ahead and leaves you wanting to see more. It brings your dreams into reality. It becomes so real in fact that you can feel the success before you reach it. So, how do you do it?
To start, you need to find a quiet spot that is free from distractions. Close your eyes and imagine what you will look like when you hit your goal. Imagine it in as much detail as possible. Picture your body shape. Run your eyes from the top of your head, all the way down your body to the tip of your manicured toe nails. See yourself from all angles. What do you see?
Once you have the physical details accounted for, how does it feel to be the “goal you”? Do you feel empowered? Are you on top of your game? When I first did this I remember seeing my “goal me” with a huge smile on my face. The happiness radiated from the future me to the point where I was physically smiling while I was visualizing. It was that contagious. I visualized myself standing coyly. I was self-assured and loving it. I set the goal me in motion and could see myself walking like a model would walk down a runway. My eyes said, “Look at me. I am beautiful.” It was a truly inspirational experience.
Now that you have a picture of your physical and emotional attributes, what activities do you see yourself doing once you have achieved your goals? In other words, how does the “future you” behave? Do you eat differently than you do now? Are you more active? How do you deal with situations that would send the former you into an eating extravaganza? Imagine yourself in your day-to-day life. Once you have that mastered, put your “goal you” in tough situations. See how you respond. Go through the visualizations from the beginning of the scenario to the end and always picture yourself prevailing in your scenarios.
This is a technique used by many law enforcement officers and athletes. An officer may visualize responding to a life or death call, picturing it from the moment of being dispatched all the way to the end. Every detail is accounted for, from the sound of the voices over the radio, to the sight of the response scene to the smell of the person being encountered. The officer imagines taking the appropriate action to adequately deal with the situation so that everyone goes home safe at the end of the shift.
An athlete goes through the same process. A scenario is imagined in which the opposing team is trying to claim victory. The athlete focuses on the position of the team members and responds with an action that assures success. Every movement, every foot position and every option is accounted for. The visualization is so intense that the body starts to respond with an increased heart rate. But, the athlete knows it is necessary to keep himself calm so he can think, so he slows his heart rate using his mind. This way, when he is playing his sport and the scenario he envisioned occurs, his body has been there before and will respond the way he visualized which results in success.
Essentially, you are training your body to respond the way you want it to. Even if the training is not physical and only mental, your mind will remember it as if it did happen. For instance, if you normally have an issue with eating in front of the television at night, you may want to visualize alternatives. Perhaps you walk yourself through a scenario where instead of eating, you get down on the living room floor and do push-ups, sit-ups and leg lifts during commercial breaks. Imagine doing the repetitions and feeling the burn. Be detailed enough to picture what you are wearing and how you are positioned on the floor.
Or, maybe you visualize doing something with your hands such as painting your nails to keep from putting them in the popcorn bowl instead. Smell the nail polish and picture the color. You may be pleasantly surprised the next time you go to turn on the television and want to do one of these other activities instead of eat. Your mind will have been there before and your body will not realize that it hasn’t.
Let the power of visualization work for you. Use it to motivate you toward the person you aspire to be. But, like any other motivating factor, you cannot do it just once and expect the effects to remain forever. It is a tool that you will want to use repeatedly so that your mind fully recognizes who the new you will be and how you will respond. Like a seed planted in the soil, if you do not water it, feed it and give it sunlight then it will die. You have to continue to nurture it if you want it to grow big and strong. Your motivation carries the same qualities. It needs attention. It needs nurturing. It needs you to watch it for signs of struggle and respond accordingly.
Although visualization may seem difficult at first, with continued practice you will find that you can put yourself in detailed imaginary scenarios with great ease. Your mind will grow strong and your body will follow. As you prevail in more and more of your visualizations, your moments of success in life will increase as well. Before you know it, you will be the you that you originally visualized. You will be strong. You will be healthy. You will radiate with happiness and vibrancy. I can visualize it already!