by Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, Co-owner and President of Green Mountain at Fox Run
How would you speak to a child who missed the winning goal in a soccer game? Would you call the child stupid, berate her for not practicing hard enough? It’s more likely that you would find encouraging words and remind her of her talents. So why do you say negative things to yourself when you fall short of your expectations – especially weight loss expectations?
Self-criticism is a common go-to reaction when you lose motivation or get off track or don’t see results fast enough. But, believe it or not, beating yourself up only pushes success further away. You are much more likely to recapture it with encouragement, kindness, and counting successes.
In fact, the more stuck you are, the more kind you need to be to yourself. When you feel like your mojo has disappeared, and you’re looking for it, here are four places to start.
Progress Not Perfection
Don’t flog yourself with “shoulds,” expectations, and beliefs such as “no pain, no gain.” Don’t believe that you have to go for broke, especially if weight management is the goal. Changing negative self-talk, ditching the all-or-nothing thinking, and looking for the small steps forward are important to remember.
When goals are too lofty, and perfection is the expectation, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and shut down.
Reframe the Goal
At Green Mountain, a weight loss retreat for women, we encourage women to re-evaluate weight loss as the goal. For one, it is usually achieved through restriction, which is often followed by overeating or bingeing. Examine your goals, turn them over, and look at them through a new lens. One way to do that is to find the inspiration in the goal – to look for pleasure.
For instance, if you love tennis, and you focus on playing it more often in order to become more fit, chances are you’ll carry through with that goal. In comparison, a goal such as giving up carbs in order to lose weight isn’t enjoyable and therefore isn’t likely to be sustainable.
Change Your Environment, Not Yourself
If you eat on a couch every night while watching TV, shake up your environment or routine. It can prompt you to experiment with a new behavior. Try sitting on a Fitball® for a while. Or move the TV to a different room. Interrupting a pattern can invite behavioral change.
Notice What’s Working
It’s so easy to notice what’s not working. But by noticing what actually is working, you will probably see accomplishments you can celebrate. In making healthy lifestyle changes, notice what we call Green Mountain Wins: increased energy, better mood, moving without pain, etc. Focusing on what actually is working can remind you that your motivation never went away – it just needed to be rediscovered and redirected in a more helpful way.