By Lindsey Joe, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Imagine this: you come home after a hard day at work and think to yourself, "I'm too tired to go to the gym tonight. I'm just going to stay here." So you plop down on the couch to unwind and eat some chips while you're at it. Then suddenly it dawns on you: "I did it again! I'm never going to lose weight."

Sound familiar?

As Americans, we're great at beating ourselves up, even when we're trying our hardest. We're also great at forgetting to recognize what we're doing well, even if it is small. Why is this such a big deal? Because negative thinking can sabotage your success when it comes to healthier living.

Out with the negative, In with the positive

Negative thoughts zap our hope of being able to achieve our goals and leave us feeling defeated. And oftentimes we're not even aware of our negative self-talk and its effect on our behaviors. Negative thoughts can become habitual, and the only way to stop them is to come back at them with positive thoughts. Simple enough, right?

Let's try!

Earlier, I was really down on myself for not hitting the gym after a hard day's work. In that moment, I could've combated my negative thinking with a deep breath and a positive thought such as, "I've learned that I'm often tired after work. I will try to exercise earlier in the day next time." That gives me a corrective action I can take instead of being so hard on myself. Much better!

To help you overcome those negative thoughts, we’ve created printable motivating mantras. Tape them on your bathroom mirror, fridge or desk for healthy living encouragement.

DOWNLOAD: The Y's Motivating Mantras

Remember, progress, not perfection, is the key to long-lasting healthy behaviors. Just like muscles get stronger when we work them, so can our ability to stop negative thinking from spiraling out of control. Exercise your positive thinking muscles!