Feeling fat is the American Way. We look to our bathroom scales to tell us if we are good people, and thanks to our sedentary lifestyles and mindless eating habits, they never tell us what we want to hear. So we get depressed and start hating ourselves, and the next thing we know, we've gained another 10 pounds. This is not a sustainable way to live, and more importantly. We were not put on this earth to hate our own bodies. There is a better way. It is possible to be happy about your weight and about life in general.
How to Be Happy About Your Weight--And Everything Else
The painful secret is that being miserable isn't something that dieting or going to the gym will fix. The toxic messages we send ourselves about being unworthy and inadequate come from our thoughts and will continue to happen even if we get skinny.
Before we can get serious about losing weight or any other lifestyle change, we need to address this negative self-talk. When we can accept ourselves as we are, we can make responsible, grounded decisions about what lifestyle choices are best for us. With a healthy mindset, you might decide you like ourselves just fine the way we are!
Here are some tips for re-setting that inner voice so that the messages our brains send us are realistic and helpful.
- Acknowledge that the voice is wrong. This is a tough one. You're used to believing that your self-assessments are legitimate, right? After all, don't you know yourself better than anyone else? If you've spent years telling yourself that you're fat, lazy and a failure, however, it's time to call out that inner voice as a bully and a liar. Maybe that voice is a big part of the problem--who wouldn't lose motivation and feel like eating a dozen cookies if they have to listen to that kind of abuse all the time? I know some people will tell you to ignore it, but you can't address something if you don't acknowledge it.
- Teach the voice some new tricks. This has two parts. First, identify things you like about yourself. Are you intelligent? Graceful? Good at math? A rock in a crisis? Do you have pretty fingers, a beautiful smile, a gorgeous singing voice, or long eyelashes? Whatever it is, own it.
This can be hard if you come from a family where compliments were few and shaming was abundant. Never mind. Pinpoint just be one thing, no matter how small. When you've got it, move to the next thing: whenever you hear that nasty voice warming up in your head, replace it with that reminder of something beautiful about you.
Tell that voice "Shut up. I am perfectly created by God and he doesn't make mistakes," or "Shut up. I am a strong, responsible leader in my family,". It may sound odd at first, but say these messages to yourself out loud if you have to. Disrupt your inner critic enough times and it will become quieter and timider.
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- Give yourself what you need. Once that deafening critic in your head is taking a time out, see what else is going on in there. What do you need? Are you lonely? Tired? Frustrated? Confused? Once you've identified your needs, do something to address it. If you are lonely, call or text family or a friend to check in. If you're confused, try writing out the situation and praying about. If you can, talk to a Coach to help you get clear on the path you should go.
Are you tired? Try 10 deep breaths, a quick nap or a walk around the block or a cup of tea (skip the sweet snacks to avoid the sugar crash). The important thing here is to treat yourself like someone worthy of being nurtured. Do this several times a day.
After a few days or weeks of these practices, you will be ready to think more clearly about the next steps in taking care of yourself. When you think about your weight, you will think about it as a health or a mobility issue, not a sign of your personal worth. You will think about diet and exercise changes in terms of feeling competent, energetic and self-sufficient instead of as rules you're not able to follow.
You will be able to forgive yourself when you deviate from a plan and you'll be able to change your plans to match your needs instead of giving them up altogether and feeling ashamed. By focusing on accepting and nurturing yourself first, you will be able to meet the challenges of a healthy and more fulfilling lifestyle with energy and confidence.
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Until next time,
Live in gratitude. Live in love.
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