Often, positive thinking gets a bad rap—it’s seen as some kind of half-hearted way of motivating someone, like a “you can do it!” chant that’s not meant seriously. Especially if you have a concrete goal, like weight loss, wouldn’t it make more sense to be realistic or honest, rather than optimistic? The answer is yes. But you can be realistic and honest, and be relentlessly positive in pursuit of your goals, all at the same time. And if you’re on a health journey, it’s all the difference in the world.
First off, it’s important to distinguish relentless positivity from toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is the kind of mindset that minimizes negative emotions, ignoring anything that’s not conventionally positive or “good vibes.” Toxic positivity is dangerous because it masks how you really feel, which makes it harder to get in touch with yourself. At Noom we believe in acknowledging negative emotions and shortcomings, and we help you find ways to respond to them productively and work through them.
Have you ever been told that if you can believe it, you can achieve it? While that might seem trite, there’s actually a lot of truth to it. Someone’s belief in their ability to achieve a result is known as “self-efficacy.”
People with high self-efficacy are by definition positive in some way—they believe in their ability to build their own futures. They feel like they’re in charge of their thoughts, actions, and ultimately, outcomes. High levels of self-efficacy have been shown to be helpful in changing behaviors, especially related to diet, physical activity, and preventing or managing chronic conditions—and it all stems from positivity.
Luckily, self-efficacy is a characteristic that anyone can develop with time and practice. Far from a fluffy, head-in-the-clouds kind of thing, practicing positivity can help you build self-efficacy, change your behaviors and reach your goals.
Here are four practical ways to start, all of which are incorporated into the Noom Weight program:
1. Take small steps
Making small, gradual changes that you believe are within your current capabilities is the best place to start. How? This will increase the likelihood of your achieving the goals that you set. Reaching those small milestones will strengthen your self-efficacy by showing yourself that you can achieve your goals. increasing your sense of control over your outcomes. Steps you might consider include:
- Drinking a glass of water with every meal
- Eating one veggie snack every day
- Going to sleep 30 minutes earlier
Monitoring your behaviors, including your diet and activity, can help you become more aware of your habits. In turn, this empowers you to identify specific areas that you can work on (and have control over) and also acknowledge your accomplishments as you make progress toward your goals. This will help you see—objectively—that you can indeed make positive changes and give you the motivation to continue to. This concrete knowledge will affirm your positive thinking. You might self-monitor by:
- Recording your meals and snacks
- Tracking your steps
- Logging your weight each morning
3. Get feedback
Knowing specifically where you have room for improvement, and how you can work toward making changes, goes a long way toward boosting your positivity and self-efficacy. Feedback from your coach or Noom’s color breakdown after you log a meal, for example, can help you identify current knowledge or behavior gaps (think: opportunities) and provide you with specific guidance to close these gaps. Feedback can tell you…
- Whether the plate you put together would help you achieve your health goals if you were to have it a few more times this week
- A nutritious and satisfying way to modify a sandwich you like
- That it’s time to treat yourself
Knowing specific actions you can take toward a specific goal can help you feel more positive about your ability to make them.
You might also try collecting positive feedback from the people in your life. Ask them to share your own strengths with you. You’ll probably learn a few things you’re great at that you weren’t fully aware of—just a few more reasons to think positively.
4. Take action
The best way to feel more positive about your ability to make change is through experience: take action. Try a new, nutritious recipe. Shop for produce and integrate it into your daily snacking. Take a 15-minute break every day for a walk outside. The simple act of working toward making a change—regardless of whether you’re successful on the first try—can reinforce your belief in your ability to follow through and help you develop the skills you need to realize your goals.
When you cultivate higher self-efficacy, you’ll not only feel a greater belief in yourself, but you also might feel more motivated, too.
The Noom Weight program recognizes that, in a weight loss journey, there will be obstacles that challenge your positive thinking and belief in your ability to succeed. That’s where our real-world positivity—the kind that’s grounded in your own experience—comes in. Our program is packed with hundreds of tricks to help you increase your self-efficacy, foster lasting motivation, and reach your goals.