How to stop overthinking everything
Updated: Feb 3
Balancing your thoughts and actions is a challenge.
When you spend too much time thinking about how to lose weight, researching the perfect diet, ... and too little time taking action, you will make no progress.
With any goal you want to set yourself, it's easy to overthink everything.
It's great to get excited about a lot of ideas, but a 'thinking mindset' over a 'doing mindset' means a to-do list longer than an achievement list.
Research shows that by overthinking too much, you believe that you are helping yourself but in fact, going over the same problems, only causes you to dwell on them instead of solving them.
Those who take action and stop overthinking, are first to get results.
Leonardo Da Vinci says, “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
When people look back on their lives, what they regret most are the times they failed to act.
Tyler Cowen, the author of Average is Over, says "The more information that’s out there, the greater the returns to just being willing to sit down and apply yourself. Information isn’t what’s scarce; it's the willingness to do something with it.”
When you start the process of losing weight, I'm sure you Google various diets and eating plans.
But the mind-blowing amount of information available at the touch of a button is likely to be hugely overwhelming.
So whilst increased choice could enable us to make better decisions, it usually leads us to anxiety, paralysis by analysis and not making a decision at all.
Filter the information you take in by finding a trusted source.
That could be a blog, a local personal trainer or an accountability partner who is further along the process than you are.
Actions over words
It's easy to talk a good game but it's what you do that makes a difference and gets remembered.
Doing involves risk and usually stepping outside of your comfort zone, but it's the only way you will make progress.
Talking and thinking about making a decision is 'safe' thing to do because it prevents you from making a mistake or failing.
But the trouble is, each time you delay taking action, you experience a small sense of relief, but you then become more anxious about taking future action.
So you end up in a cycle where overthinking and delaying tactics are rewarded, whilst taking action becomes more difficult.
If you really want to achieve success in anything you do in life, you 'do' it, instead of 'talking about' it.
The quickest way to earn respect from yourself and others is by turning up and doing what you said you would.
Just do it
Nike has got it right.
Don't over plan, just do it.
Momentum carries you forwards and comes through action. Do something today that moves you forward towards your goal - every small step is significant.
Taking the first step can be as simple as;
The first 10-minute walk you take
The first time you cook using fresh ingredients
The first time you add vegetables to your evening meal
The first time you step foot in the gym
The first step you take when running
It all starts with the first step, and that means just doing it.
No matter how small the action, it also serves to build self-confidence and belief in what you are doing whilst removing fears and anxiety at the same time.
All of the diet books, self-help books and social media posts mean nothing without action underpinning them.
Every time you read something, immediately apply something from it.
It doesn't matter how big or small but each time you take action it symbolises a shift in your transition from 'thinker' to 'doer'.
Taking action today
It's vital that you find ways to stop overthinking that suit you.
Here are some techniques you can use to stop thinking and take action, today:
Break your goals into the smallest of steps
Baby steps still move you forward. No matter how the small the steps you take, over time they will compound and turn into life-changing strides forward.
Start by breaking your goal into a series of small steps you know that you can achieve and then celebrate each success.
With each small step being rewarded, you're more likely to stay on track towards your goal.
Think small, consistent steps taken over massive action.
Move at a speed that suits you
Move too slowly and deep-down you'll know that you could be doing more.
Do too much and you risk overwhelm and burnout.
Figure out what works for you and you will hit that sweet spot between forwarding momentum and reduced stress.
When you want to lose weight it can be a good idea to remove any potential barriers and distractions.
If you know that you're unlikely to resist your chocolate urges at the start a diet, maybe it's worth removing them from the cupboard until you have some momentum and are less likely to over-indulge.
Moderation is key to dieting but sometimes limiting whats on offer can be a good way to get started.
Likewise, if the evenings are your only available time of day to walk, don't start watching that Netflix series until you've gone out and done it.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Sometimes taking all of the thinking out of the problem is the way to get started.
Hiring a personal trainer to design your diet and training programme means that you don't have to think or plan, you just turn up and do what needs to be done.
Never be afraid to invest in yourself, the return can be huge.
Movement energises you
Throughout the day you'll find periods where you feel tired and lack energy.
During these times it's important to do an activity that re-energises you and reminds you why you are embarking on your health and fitness transformation.
By getting your heart rate up and sending fresh oxygen to your brain you will feel refreshed and be able to focus more clearly.
I find that a 10-minute walk is my go-to activity for re-focussing and re-energising.
Keep a tight schedule
Plan your daily schedule to keep you motivated and on track.
It's helpful, particularly early on in your weight loss journey to be very specific about when you will do what you say you are going to do.
7:30 am : 30-minute walk.
5 pm : Prepare vegetable lasagna
By having your daily steps scheduled into your calendar, you won't have to think about what you need to do next.
It goes without saying, never quit and never stop pushing.
What can you do right now that will take you closer to your goal?
Giving up denies you a powerful and valuable learning opportunity.
It doesn't matter if you succeed or fail this time, you can learn and grow from either experience and then apply that knowledge as you continue.
Giving up denies you that privilege.
To sum up
Constant overthinking about weight loss and improving your health and fitness because you're not sure where to start, you're waiting for the perfect time, or you're scared of failure, is a sure-fire way to not even begin.
Because the only failure in life is through not trying.
Don't wait to take action, start now, learn as you go and by doing, you will gain momentum and the results will follow.
Otherwise, do you want to spend your life thinking or doing?
Ben Yates is a personal trainer based at Places Gym Hinckley and Hinckley Leisure Centre in Leicestershire.
To book your free personal training consultation click here