I read a great article this morning written by Kathy Gates for Ian’s Messy Desk (found via Lifehack.org). Kathy lists 7 lies we tell ourselves that prevent success in achieving our goals or living our perfect lives. As I read each item on the list, I found myself directly relating it to weight-loss and emotional eating:
Giving up quickly? Check.
I’ll start tomorrow? Check.
Setting unrealistic goals? Check.
This is good stuff! I’ve used her titles and applied them to healthy eating, weight loss and emotional eating. Instead of copying her discussion, I encourage you to read her original list – it’s a great read and applies to life in general.
Lie 1: Expect Quick Results.
When starting out, it’s important to remember and prepare yourself (constantly) you will not have instant gratification. It took months or years of unhealthy eating habits to gain your weight; it will take months or years of practicing new habits and eating healthier before it comes off. Instead of focusing just on the scale, pay attention to other weight loss indicators as well – less fat around high-profile areas like the face and armpits, increased endurance, successfully ending a meal before getting stuffed, dropping clothes sizes. Focusing on all your successes, small or large, helps maintain a positive attitude and feeling of power.
Lie 2: Complaining is OK.
Complaining is addictive and harmful. While it can be comforting to place blame for being overweight on circumstances “out of your control,” it also reinforces a negative attitude and infects your support network like a plague. No matter how resolved and committed you are to losing weight and changing your lifestyle, hard times will come for the rest of your life. Even if you don’t talk to your support group members, sometimes the simple thought of how proud your friend would be with your choice to resist the ice cream cone is enough positive reinforcement. Maintaining focus on your accomplishments and discussing hard times objectively as hurdles to overcome is like Miracle Gro for your support network – everyone feels proud and positive to be a party to your success. Complain about all the crappy stuff you’re eating or doing and your support network will either begin to pull away or will reinforce your negative outlook. Think negatively enough about weight loss, and you may just convince yourself it’s easier and better to just live life the way you want, healthy or not.
Lie 3: Fix It Later.
Tomorrow is the worst day to begin losing weight. Start today, right now, by making small changes – drink 32oz more water a day, leave some food on your plate, and park your car further away from your building at work or use stairs instead of an elevator. By starting with small changes, you begin to practice evaluating your choices based on their impact on your health instead of any satisfaction or emotional comfort you may get. Practice those small changes for a week, and it becomes easier to take the next step. Before you know it, you’re eating salads with no dressing and actually enjoying plain water.
Lie 4: Having an *Idea* Instead of a Plan.
No matter how hard or often you think about eating less and exercising more, it doesn’t become a reality until you formulated a plan and set goals. Thinking about losing weight is daunting and overwhelming – you focus on the total amount of weight and life changes to be made. Formulating plans and setting goals is positive and actionable – by splitting the ultimate goal into small tasks, you establish a concrete plan for success. Working towards an ultimate plan gives you a higher sense of purpose – it’s comforting to know today, tomorrow and next week you have specific tasks planned ahead of time that lead to weight loss and lifestyle change.
Lie 5: Ignoring Your Talents.
Weight loss and lifestyle change isn’t about denying yourself things you love or pushing yourself to limits – it’s about choosing to live a healthy lifestyle, and you’re not going to live the healthy lifestyle if you don’t enjoy living the healthy lifestyle. Incorporate your talents or passions into your healthy lifestyle to make it fun. Enjoy blogging? Join Jason Calacanis’ started the “fatblogging” meme and have fun joining an active weight loss support network. Enjoy surfing the Internet and discovering interesting sites? Sign up for Internet-themed podcasts and listen to them while walking. Learn a new language, listen to an audiobook, find a local dance club. Wherever your passions and talents lie, use them to energize your weight loss.
Lie 6: Elusive Goals Instead of Do-able Goals.
Set yourself up for success – make your goals achievable. Specifically for weight loss, I recommend making three types of goals: a goal weight, daily goals and “dream” goals. Your goal weight should be practical and realistic – best case scenario, you’ll work with your health care provider to establish one. Daily goals should be easily achievable and designed to slowly modify your lifestyle through constant practice – examples could include drinking 64oz of water, walking one mile and maintaining a certain daily caloric intake. “Dream” goals are inspirational and should be activities and events you would love to participate in but never could, like running a 10k race at Walt Disney World (a personal dream goal of mine). I talked more about these types of goals, and setting goals in general, in a previous article.
Lie 7: Adopting a “What I Do Doesn’t Matter” Attitude.
Looking down at the scale and considering the total amount of weight to lose can be daunting and overwhelming – it’s easy to think no matter what you do you still don’t lose weight fast enough, so you may as well stop trying. To prevent being overwhelmed, set small daily goals you can easily measure, surround yourself with positive people, recognize every pound lost slowly is a pound kept off, and concentrate on making healthy lifestyle changes and shifting habits versus dieting the weight off and denying pleasures.
When you live an honest, practical and healthy lifestyle, I can’t promise you’ll never fight the “unhealthy food choice” impulse battle ever again, but you will have won the war.