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It’s not news to any of us that the Power of Suggestion greatly influences our eating decisions.  We’ve experienced firsthand how seeing a treat – whether right there in front of us or in a photo – can make us want it.  There are subconscious mind and physiological processes at play here.  When we see a tasty food or even an image of one, we begin to salivate and this starts a cascade of other physical responses to prepare our body to process the food to come.  Advertisers use this to their benefit by working on our subconscious minds.  They show us huge billboard photos or commercials of juicy hamburgers or decadent desserts knowing that our subconscious minds respond to this imagery.

The incredible effect of the Power of Suggestion is prevalent in our daily lives as well.  Sticking to a healthy diet from day to day is truly an exercise in willpower and resolve, as we’re faced with temptation from every angle – at work, in social situations, with our families and at holidays and celebrations.

Believing that you just need strong ‘willpower’ is akin to telling yourself ‘no’ constantly.  This constant denying ourselves causes the subconscious to want to rebel, and this is why women struggle to stay on the diet wagon.  However, never fear!  There are some great ways that we can work with our internal and external environment to prepare for and avoid difficult situations, as well as reverse the negative effects of the Power of Suggestion by choosing the images and influences we expose ourselves to.

Before we have a look at some of these techniques, it’s important to be mindful that what works for diet, works for exercise and other healthy habits too.   Many of these suggestions boil down to some simple common sense ideas tweaked to work with your subconscious mind.

diet plan1) Map Out Each Day’s Eating and Workout

To stick with diet and fitness goals, it can be enormously helpful to pre-plan an entire day’s worth of eating and exercise.  A great suggestion is to spend a few moments each evening before you go to bed mapping it out.  What will you eat for your meals and snacks?  Do you have your fridge stocked with what you need?  Did you pre-pack healthy food for work?  What time will you work out?  Consider scheduling meals and workouts on your Outlook calendar or creating a written schedule for the day.  These visual cues are incredibly powerful.

2) Pre-Plan For Your Outings

If you know you have plans to eat out tomorrow, take a moment to think about what you’ll order (and what you’ll avoid ordering) at the restaurant.  If the restaurant you’re going to has food that represents temptation for you, envision yourself choosing not to eat it and enjoying the healthier choice you’ve made and the great company you’re in! Envisioning ourselves making healthy choices makes it more likely that we will!

If you know you’re going to a party or holiday gathering, consider filling up on some healthy food at home before you head out.  When the hostess offers a treat you’d really rather avoid, don’t be afraid to say ‘no thanks’ without offering further explanation.  The explanation (‘I’m on a diet’ or even ‘I’m not hungry’) can subconsciously leave your refusal open for comment from others.

fitness friends3) Encourage Others

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that your chances of becoming obese increase by a whopping  57 percent if you have a friend that’s obese!  That chance is even greater than the genetic probability, showing that when it comes to healthy lifestyle, behavior is a greater influencer than genes.   While family members also play a role, this study found that ties were the greatest between friends of the same gender.  This means that women who considered themselves friends of folks that got skinnier lost weight themselves.

We know we can’t force our girlfriends into doing anything they’re not ready to do.  But, if we know that one of our friends is looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle we can choose to pair up with her and benefit from mutual motivation – both when it comes to nutrition and fitness goals!

Are the other women in your department at work interested in making some lifestyle changes?  Since we spend many of our waking hours at work, this can be a great place to join up with like-minded friends, get active on breaks and perhaps decrease the amount of sugary treats that show up in the break room!

4) Find an Online Community

The Power of Suggestion is so strong that our social behaviors can even be affected by people we don’t know.  We can use this to our advantage by seeking positive reinforcement from other health-minded folks in online communities.  These online communities can be a great place to receive and offer inspiration, get health and fitness questions answered by experts and simply to feel like you have a group of ‘friends’ with the same goals as you.

Consider joining our awesome Athlean-XX for Women Facebook Community for lots of great articles, recipes, nutrition tips, inspirations, fitness challenges and answers to your questions about nutrition and fitness.

5) Seek Visual Inspiration

We can use that same tactic that advertisers use to work with our own subconscious minds to create healthy visual cues and ideas.  Pinterest is a great tool for finding imagery you can use to inspire yourself and affect your subconscious idea of what health really means to you.  I’m not talking about pinning a bunch of pictures of really skinny ‘thinspiration’ girls!  Rather I recommend that you focus on finding beautiful pictures of healthy foods (most of these are attached to great recipes for you to try in the kitchen) and quotes that motivate you and make you smile.

As a woman in today’s media culture, I’d encourage you to be careful about filling your Pinterest and your mind with imagery of ultra-skinny or even ultra-fit women.  Sometimes looking at these images can have the opposite effect on our sensitive subconscious minds – rather than motivate us to be healthier they can make us subconsciously feel that if we DON’T look like these women we’re not OK.  You know yourself best.  As you’re considering your pins, ask yourself whether these types of pins might have a negative effect on your own individual subconscious.

If you’re seeking a program and an online community that will help you adopt a realistic healthy lifestyle, stick with your goals and find your inspiration every day, give Athlean-XX for Women a try.  Our plan was designed to fit REAL women’s lives!  Our workouts are just 30 challenging minutes per day, and our healthy diet plan doesn’t require you to count calories or restrict foods at all.  On our Facebook Community Page we answer your questions, share inspirations and great articles and motivate each other!  Join us on Team Athlean to become part of a community of healthy women changing their bodies and their lives!

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P.S.  We are a growing community dedicated to and passionate about realistic fitness and nutrition for REAL women.  If you enjoyed this post please feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It would be incredibly appreciated