You Vs You
We are our biggest critics. We are at times our own worst enemy. Especially when it comes to our weight. If other people spoke to us the way we speak to our internal selves, it would definitely be face slap worthy at times. “Hey fatty, did you really need that second (or third, or fourth) cookie?” If our friends talked to us the way we allow our inner voice to talk to us, chances are good they would no longer be considered friends. “My God, can’t you stick to diet for more than two days without needing a ‘treat’.” We tend to be very critical ourselves, which can be a good thing when it pushes us to become better people, but can also be detrimental if we allow those negative thoughts to carve away at our self perception.
It takes a conscious effort to be positive. We are bombarded daily with negativity. News feeds are filled with negative stories to attract your attention. Media everywhere reminds us of our inadequacies that we need to address immediately to be desirable: wrinkles, bad breath, gray hair, body odor. The list goes on and on. And let’s not even get started on politicians and their campaigns. Mudslinging is common place in this arena. We are forever reminded of the negative, the undesirable, the problem that needs fixing.
The same goes for weight loss. We tend to approach it from our negative mindset, avoiding something we don’t want to be: being overweight, sick, tired. It’s actually quite refreshing to shift from the negative to a positive perspective. This happens when you decide what you want to create instead of avoid. In this case: optimal health. Weight loss will be a nice side effect when a healthy lifestyle is the goal. Shifting the focus from the negative to the positive lets us focus on the outcome, instead of on the process.
Lets put that concept into real life scenarios. Here are 10 common negative thoughts, how they manifest themselves and how we can regain control over our inner critic by turning them into a positive.
1. Unrealistic goals. “I want to lose 20 pounds for the party I just got invited to. Next week.” You want results and you want them now. Yesterday even. We sometimes attach unrealistic expectations to a new plan, then blame ourselves when the plan doesn’t deliver. Drastic weight loss plans and over-the-top exercise routines won’t bring optimal health. Instead of looking for the quick fix, think long-term. What you eat today is what the scale reflects tomorrow.
2. All or nothing. For you, everything is divided into good or bad, success or failure, ‘dieting’ or not. “Well, I ate that cheeseburger, I failed at this plan too. Pass the french fries.” Focus instead on progress, not perfection. Applaud the things you DID do today that will get you closer to your goal. “Yay, I only had one piece of pizza and water instead of wine.” Changes take time and mistakes will happen. Forget the end outcome and focus on the controllable, action factors.
3. Nothing less than perfection. “I should be able to say no to dessert. What the hell is the matter with me?” or “I just ate three french fries from my kids’ happy meal. I have no will power.” This is kind of like looking at your reflection on the magnified side of the mirror. *wince* You’re gonna find flaws. Getting healthy is a lifetime journey, not a sprint to a certain number on the scale. Plan accordingly.
4. Fear of failure. “That diet sounds way too hard for me. I’d mess it up for sure.” No one wants the shame or embarrassment of starting yet another plan and quitting half way to the goal because you hit a wall. Forget about previous outcomes. You may not have been ready. The plan may have been right for you. Honor your present self and not your past. “I am strong and capable.”
5. Fear of success. “I’ve always been the funny, fat girl.” or “I don’t want to become ‘that guy’ that always posts his workouts or takes pictures of his ‘healthy’ meals.” Having success may put you outside of your comfort zone. It may be hard to picture what the new you will be like. People will notice your success and you may not be confident enough to deal with the attention that brings. Friends may be jealous, spouses may be resentful. It’s OK to prioritize your health, self-esteem and wellness. Everyone deserves health, happiness, positive relationships and a positive attitude.
6. Build new habits. “I always go out for happy hour after a long week at work. I deserve it.” If food is your reward, your comfort or your escape, it’s time to create new habits. Your food is your fuel for optimal performance, nothing more. Eating crappy food is a punishment, not a reward. Start small and be consistent: drink more water, get to bed on time, order club soda and lime instead of wine at happy hour. Small incremental changes become the big changes over time. And don’t forget to applaud your successes along the way. “I feel great when I wake up and am ready to start the day.”
7. Procrastination. “I’ll start tomorrow (echo) tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow… ” Life is messy. There will never be a perfect time to start. There will always, always, always be something going on that could be an excuse. Working through the challenging times builds confidence. “I will do this.”
8. Support system. “I don’t even know where to start.” Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Surround yourself with positive people. Mentorship is often a big determining factor to success in weight loss. Find someone who has had the success you seek or has helped others find that success. “Let’s do this together.”
9. Lack of control. “I will always be fat.” Your body does not defy the laws of science, so no, you are not destined to be overweight. You have a new choice of what you eat every two to three hours. Choose wisely. Empower yourself by using terms like “I don’t… (eat greasy fried food, drink alcohol during the week, etc.)” instead of “I can’t… (dive into the bread basket, have a Snickers, etc.” This shift in thinking gives you, not the plan your on, the control.
10. Excuses, excuses, excuses. “I can’t afford it.” or “I don’t have the time to go for a walk.” or “The kids like to have cookies in the house.” There are a million of them. Focus on your health as your priority, something you want to fiercely protect. If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse. Sometimes small shifts are all that’s necessary, like tweaking a schedule to find time for exercise. Sometime a major overhaul is called for, like changing jobs to allow a better quality of life. “Nothing can stop me from reaching my goal.”
Changing your mindset can change the way you approach weight loss and can have a definite influence on the outcome. Try practicing some tolerance and self-love. Use your internal thoughts to boost you up, cheer you on and unleash positive vibes all over the damn place.
Linda Filipiak is a Health Coach with Take Shape For Life. She has a B.A. in Psychology and has worked with weight loss clients for the past seven years as a personal trainer and weight loss counselor.