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Talk Yourself Up!

Don’t talk yourself out of success. Here’s how the language you use every day could help you lose weight.

Did you know the words we use can dramatically affect our mood, and how successful we are? While some words bring us down, others give us a boost. “Words shape our thoughts, thoughts shape our behaviour and the results we get, so the language we use is important,” says Miriam Akhtar, a leading expert in positive psychology. Here are some of the worst offenders, which you probably use to put pressure on yourself; try to use positive language instead.

"Should"

YOU SAY:

“I should have said ‘no’ when my colleague offered me that piece of cake.”

WHY STOP?

“Should” is a word that can end up ruling your life. “If you use it a lot, you're likely to be stuck in a negative-thinking loop, which will lead you to be really hard on yourself,” says Akhtar. “But focusing on what you did wrong only makes you miserable.”

INSTEAD SAY:

“I could have gone for a walk after eating that cake, but I chose not to and that's okay. I'm only human. Next time the cakes come out, I'll make sure I have a plan so I can stay in control.”

WHY THIS IS BETTER:

“Could” makes you see you have a choice, and choices encourage you to think in a way that's more likely to result in coming up with a productive plan,' says Akhtar.

"Must"

YOU SAY:

“I must lose 10 pounds in time for my holiday.”

WHY STOP?

“Must” is a harsh, unforgiving word that makes no allowances for the uncertainties of life or things we can’t control. It simply places pressure on us.

INSTEAD SAY:

“I might lose 10 pounds by the summer, but if I don't, I'm still doing really well and I will get to goal.”

WHY THIS IS BETTER:

It's more realistic, and kinder, too. “You will feel more inspired to continue losing weight if you talk kindly to yourself and remind yourself how far you've come,” says Akhtar.

"Only"

YOU SAY:

“I tried so hard this week but I only lost half a pound.”

WHY STOP?

“Only” drains your energy, saps your motivation and minimizes your achievement.

INSTEAD SAY:

“I tried so hard this week and it really paid off because I lost another half a pound!”

WHY THIS IS BETTER:

“Celebrate all progress, no matter how small,” says Akhtar. “That way, you are encouraged to keep going. Set too big a goal and you are likely to disregard the progress you've made and give up.”

"Never"

YOU SAY:

“I've been going to the gym for ages now, but I know I will never enjoy exercise.”

WHY STOP?

“Never” is an example of inflexible thinking. Besides, where is the evidence that this is true? Gyms aren't the only place you can exercise, are they?

INSTEAD SAY:

“I may find a way to exercise that suits me better. I might try dancing or swimming next week. Or just make a conscious effort to move around a bit more.”

WHY THIS IS BETTER:

It's far more optimistic. “If you expect something to turn out well, you're more motivated to put in the effort to ensure it happens. And because you put in the effort, it is more likely to happen,” explains Akhtar.