I don’t need to tell you that losing weight is hard work—really hard work. What I can share is that many people get stuck in attitudes and ways of thinking that make losing weight even harder. Some attitudes that people often think of as motivating, actually tend to de-motivate us. Trying to lose weight with these mindsets is like trying to climb a mountain carrying a fifty pound boulder. The journey is much easier if we put the boulder down.
JUDGMENT & SELF-CRITICISM
When a new client begins to talk to me about her weight struggles, I can often feel the heaviness that enters the conversation. Her voice may change, her posture slumps, she may adopt an expression of embarrassment or shame or guilt. Her energy dips. Clients talking about attempts to lose weight often stop making eye contact and sound very tired, and frustrated, even angry with themselves. Repeated attempts at weight loss (and repeated weight regain) leave people frustrated and cynical about their ability to succeed. Clients often tell me how “they have failed at weight loss.” They feel defeated and angry with themselves before they even start their next attempt.
Here’s the thing: when we don’t succeed at an undertaking, we are not failures. It is our plan or our approach that has not worked. Beating ourselves up gets us nowhere, and it diverts us from the powerful and important task of reevaluating, taking inventory and making corrections to our approach so that we can get back on target. In addition, the negativity and self blame weigh down our future attempts at success by causing us to feel less capable and less hopeful.
When we’re the most disappointed, the most frustrated and the most vulnerable, many of us have this thoroughly unreasonable idea that an emotional version of the slap-upside-the-head is what’s needed. If we allow it, the critical voices in our head that tell us we’re “not good enough” or lazy or incapable can really take control. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard tell me the harsh, awful, demeaning things their judgmental inner critic tells them about themselves and then, in the same breath, tell me how carefully they listen to it! This is not helpful!
The first step in creating a successful plan for weight loss is to attack that judgmental attitude head-on. If you’ve been frustrated in your efforts to lose weight in the past, it wasn’t you that failed—it was your plan that didn’t work. Anger and self-critical judgment don’t effectively motivate anyone for more than very short periods of time, and long-term, these attitudes will get you seriously off track.
Keep an eye out for my next post where I’ll lay out some simple and practical ways to overcome those inner voices that keep you from your goals.
Take good care,