Body and Mind Matters

Body and Mind Matters: Why a Healthy Mindset Matters for Bariatric Success

March 11, 2024

Introducing a new column, Body and Mind Matters, by Life & Wellness Coach, Jenna Nocera

As ObesityHelp continues to educate and empower individuals affected by obesity, this monthly column from life and wellness coach, Jenna Nocera of Formula For Excellence, shares information about everyday body and mind matters.  Drawing on her several years of experience as a coach, psychotherapist, and fitness trainer, Jenna invites readers to examine various components of wellness, with a particular emphasis on self-care techniques and mindset mastery.

Bariatric Surgery is a Tool

Bariatric surgery is a tool used successfully by many in their struggle with obesity. Any doctor worth their salt will stress the fact that it is just that – a tool. In other words, and please don’t shoot the messenger; you’ll have to do the physical and mental work necessary to lose the weight and keep it off.  

That’s where mindset comes in. Since much of overeating and inactivity is fueled by emotions, mindset is the key to lasting success before and after bariatric surgery. And, as an added bonus, developing your mindset helps to enhance all areas of your life!

Recall Lao Tzu’s famous quote - “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” In other words, thoughts and words are very powerful. Internal dialogue matters. Thoughts become feelings; feelings become actions; actions make up the quality of our lives. Happily, we can learn to control our thoughts and become more effective in life!

Through conditioning and life experience, many of our thoughts become so automatic that we don’t realize we’re thinking them. Feelings seem to come out of nowhere, and it can be difficult to identify the thoughts that are fueling them.

Self-Worth, Body Image, Food, and Tradition

From the time we are born, we are bombarded with messages about self-worth, body image,  food, and tradition. We hear the same messages so many times that we come to believe them as gospel. Unaware of most of the beliefs that govern our lives, we end up sleepwalking to the refrigerator and through life. Thoughts become so habitual that it takes training and coaching to recognize the negative automatic thoughts that are informing our emotions.  

What we tell ourselves matters! Our thoughts can encourage or discourage; inspire or depress; validate or offend; soothe or terrify. Fortunately, there are tools you can employ to modify thoughts, feelings, and habits.

Below are some mindset shifts to consider incorporating into your daily routine to make your journey easier and more fun.

  • Small changes lead to big results. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Begin to build small changes into your daily rituals. Add to those changes only when the initial changes have become a habit.
  • Resist the urge to practice all-or-nothing thinking and behavior. Perfectionism is unrealistic and demoralizing. If you get off track with your eating plan, curb the urge to continue to binge because “all is lost.” Get back on track as soon as you recognize that you’re off course.
  • Learn to appreciate your body - warts, weight, and all. Your body is a magnificent machine, keeping you alive and allowing you to experience life. Take care of it as your best asset!
  • Practice moderation – in thought and deed, including eating and exercise. Eliminate the idea of “good” and “bad” foods. Concentrate on eating a diet rich in nutrients and whole foods while limiting highly-processed foodstuffs.
  • Complete projects unrelated to weight loss. Develop all areas of your life. Learn to disconnect your self-esteem from the number on the scale. You are more than your size.
  • Monitor your weight for feedback about your eating and exercise plan. However, do not be obsessed by the scale. Consider once-weekly weigh-ins or some other method of measuring progress.
  • Focus on physical activities that you enjoy and will continue to do. Appreciate the mental as well as physical benefits of exercise. 
  • Prioritize sleep. Get enough rest, but not too much. Sleep is the mechanism by which the mind and body heal and replenish. It helps to improve immunity, energy, mood, and mental clarity.
  • Practice excellent self-care. Realize that even grocery shopping for healthy food items contributes to excellent self-care. 
  • Celebrate your victories along the way! Learn to enjoy and appreciate each moment. You may not be where you want to be in your weight loss journey yet, but you’re also not where you used to be. Keep moving forward toward your goals.
  • Work with a coach. A professional coach can provide invaluable support, structure, accountability, and feedback.
  • Guard your mind. Read inspirational materials. Limit time around negative people. 

Body and Mind Matters

Prior to attempting to rewire your brain and change your habits, take time to reflect on your personal motivation for making healthy eating and fitness a lifestyle. What’s prompting you to make changes at this time in your life? Do these changes fit in with the other areas of your life?  Is your support system onboard?

Once you’ve identified your motivation for change, the next step is to learn to catch your automatic thoughts and reframe them. Learning to do this will have a significant positive effect on your emotions, habits, and outcomes. As your mindset changes, your life will change!

Is there something on your mind that you would like me to address in upcoming columns?  Submit your question to me here.

Coach Jenna Nocera, MA, MFT, CLSC, CPFT is a Life & Wellness Coach, Psychotherapist, and Personal Fitness Trainer with Formula For Excellence®


Coach Jenna Nocera, MA, MFT, CLSC, CPFT is a Life & Wellness Coach, Psychotherapist, and Personal Fitness Trainer with advanced degrees in Behavioral Science, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Therapy. She works with clients to redesign their lifestyle habits. Subscribe to the Formula For Excellence® newsletter to receive a Free Habit Tracker and occasional health and wellness tips.