Create a confident & healthy eater with my new book: Baby Self-Feeding

On Sale Now! Quarto Amazon Indigo Barnes & Noble Indiebound

Want to Lose your Baby Weight?

February 27th, 2018 | By: Nancy Ripton
Want to Lose your Baby Weight?

In This Article

Want to Lose your Baby Weight?

Mick Jagger famously sang “You can’t always get what you want,” and for many people this holds true. The average person achieves just 20 to 30 percent of the goals they set, but a study published in Psychology and Health is determined to change this. It seems dreams can come true simply by, well, dreaming about them. “Mental imagery increases your chances of goal-attainment,” says Barbel Knauper, an Associate Professor of Psychology at McGill University and lead author on the study.

The McGill University study challenged college students to eat more fruit using a variety of motivational methods. The students who were most successful were the ones who created specific goals, then used mental imagery to dream about how they would reach those goals.

“When it comes down to it, our greatest goal is to seek pleasure,” says Haley Perlus, PhD, a sports and exercise psychology expert. When we think of our goal in positive terms and imagine positive ways for us to achieve that goal we encourage our body to seek out the long-term pleasure it will get when it reaches a particular goal.

Focusing on the steps required to achieve a goal also strengthens the links between action and outcome in the brain. Each time we think of an image, our brain creates a mental representation of the objects, situations, emotions and actions we visualize. By creating positive goal-oriented images in the brain, we increase our motivation to complete the task.

Think Yourself Thin

Everyone wants to experience pleasure. Eating a great meal or noshing on your favorite dessert will always be a gratifying, but you have to retrain your mind to seek out the long-term pleasure of being thin over the short-term pleasure of eating something that tastes great. “If you live only in the present, you are only thinking about the pleasure a certain food will give you at a particular time,” says Perlus. Mental imagery trains your brain to think long-term.

Try forming a specific statement that determines when, where and how you will reach your goal. “Make a concrete plan in the form of an if-then statement,” says Knauper. “Plan as vividly and detailed as possible.” For example, if ordering dessert is keeping you from reaching your weight loss goals, imagine yourself in the restaurant and saying “no” when the waiter comes to take the orders for dessert. “If I go to a restaurant, then I will not eat dessert.” Because the plan is so concrete, one is reminded of it when the situation (going to a restaurant) occurs, and will act accordingly.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with countless scenarios of what could go wrong. Pick up to five areas where you find eating right a challenge. Create plans for how to take charge of these situations and imagine these specific scenarios each day.


“It takes only a few moments to visualize one's if-then plan,” says Knauper who encourages people to continue to visualize a particular plan until you are confident you will be able succeed each time you are placed in a challenging situation.