Pause for a second and think to yourself, “How many times have I thought something positive about myself today?” Then also ask yourself, “How many times have I criticized myself today?” Self-talk can quickly spark motivation or sabotage not just our thoughts, but also our actions.
This topic can be heavy for many of us. Those who have struggled with negative self-talk (which I would say is the majority of people at some point) can relate. For those who have fought back and WON the battle against it, you have made the great discovery that this destructive conversation we have with ourselves about body image, food, control, perfection, weight, fitness or any other stressor we put on ourselves---is rarely about those things.
When we spiral downward with negative thoughts about body image or food, the root of the issue is actually something deeper and more meaningful. An emotion, fear, unresolved relationship or altered perception are more likely at play here. It is when you conquer this area of doubt that you may then start to positively impact your self-talk, self-worth, shed the baggage and probably even some physical weight along the way.
Self-talk not only influences mood and confidence, but also a person’s ability to reach their goals. When your thoughts and actions do not align, your weight loss efforts may suffer.
Happy, confident, and successful people are not just gifted. They do not wait for things in life to just “happen” for them. And most important, they make it a point to keep a positive mindset and focus on things they can control.
A friend of mine recently shared with me this quote: “Your body hears everything your mind says.” It was the perfect reminder that the self-talk we internalize does in fact impact far more than just our thoughts and emotions.
Our thoughts can actually directly impact our outcomes, and it’s your choice if it is an upward cycle or downward. In other words, our thoughts may be aiding in that unwanted weight gain.
Consider this: Think how difficult it would be to finish your first 5K, or even a marathon, if all you tell yourself the whole race is how awful you feel, how tired you are and how much your legs are hurting? Chances are, you’ll give in to those voices and start walking or maybe even quit the race entirely.
The same goes with practicing healthy behaviors to get weight loss results. If your goal is to work-out five times per week, yet your constant thought-process is how much you hate working out along with a million excuses of why you don’t have time today to do it, you most likely will not work out that day.
Use this as fuel to work for you and not against you. Our daily thoughts are powerful. And knowing that, will not only impact just our mood and confidence, but in turn, our behaviors and results.
The Problem with Perfection
Every January, thousands of people have the best intentions, and maybe even well thought-out plans, for how to be 100% compliant to their weight loss goals. “I’m motivated, ready, and GOING to do it this year.” Having motivation is awesome; I’m all for that. Having a plan; definitely important. However, having the mindset to be perfect and aiming for a lifestyle that doesn’t give when curveballs are thrown your way just is not realistic. More important, this mental stress nearly halts weight loss efforts before we even have a chance at starting.
The moment we go “off plan” even if just momentarily, floods of guilt, shame and defeat set in. These unrealistic standards feed negative self-talk and soon after, the great intentions and healthy behaviors that started our day are thrown out the window because well, “today is now shot.” Sound familiar?
The goal of perfection can be paralyzing. Fortunately, perfection is not necessary in order to accomplish your goals. Step one to conquering this downward spiral: accept your imperfections. You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. Nobody (despite what their social media accounts depict) is perfect.
In that same breath, do not let others’ approval dictate your own perception of individual progress. Everyone’s plan should vary to match their metabolism and what works for them and their lifestyle.
The Power of Gratitude
A great way to help shift your mindset to a place of positivity is to recognize things and people in your life that you are grateful for. Oftentimes, it is easy to get swept up in our day-to-day tasks and small events that happen, and we do not take the time to realize the goodness that we’re surrounded by.
An easy and simple challenge for you this week: dedicate a journal to daily gratitude. Take a quick 3-5 minutes at the start or end of each day and briefly jot down five things in your life that you are grateful for that day. Maybe it was a fun get-together with a friend you do not see often, a killer workout you completed, or a business project you finally wrapped up. Whatever it may be, write a few things down each day. Try to do this for a week straight.
This positive practice may even help increase the amount that you exercise each week! A study found that those who practiced gratitude journaling exercised nearly 1.5 hours more a week.
Fake it ‘til you make it
If all else fails, fake it. Put on a smile, be kind to people even if you’re cranky, tell yourself you rock, and live out your day as if you’ve met your goals. You may not feel like you’re the most confident person at the gym, or like you know how to cook a healthy meal, but give it your best go. It’s your daily behaviors that become habits, and it’s those habits (i.e. eating more protein, increasing daily steps, taking your nutritional supplements, getting 7-8 hours of sleep) that get results.
It may seem nearly impossible some days, to have complete control over your thoughts, perceptions, and actions. But you do. Other helpful things my clients have found to be effective in improving self-talk are visual reminders such as a bracelet or wristband, a positive quote on your mirror or an inspiring picture in your journal. These visual cues can serve as triggers to swap that negative mindset and ensure your outcome for the day gets you one step closer to your goals.
You do not have control over your weight. But you do have control over the factors that control your weight. And it starts with your positive mindset. What is your mood-boosting mantra going to be for 2017 to ensure you meet your goals?
In health, Becca Hurt – Assistant Program Manager – Life Time Weight Loss
This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.