People who come to me to lose weight are often times all-or-nothing thinkers. Either I’m in or I’m out. Either I’m a winner or I’m a failure. They’re often times also worriers. They tend to have a lot of “if…then” rules. For example, ‘if I can’t stick to this diet then I am a failure’. Is that really how life works? If you can’t stick to a particular diet or nutrition plan then you’re a failure? How does that work? And who decides that? You do. That’s who. And if you think you’re a failure because you couldn’t stick to a diet plan (that probably wasn’t suited to your level of ability anyway) how do you think you’ll fair the next time you have a go?
I’ll tell you, shall I?
“Oh god, the last time I tried this I failed completely. I think I lasted 2 weeks.”
Next you’ll likely think to yourself: “If I fail at this again then I’ll never get fit”
And the sort of emotion that this way of thinking evokes? Anxiety. That old trusted crippler.
When we feel anxious we literally narrow our perspectives. We just can’t see anything other than the problem. The big picture is lost to us. Try telling someone lost in anxiety over an exam or a job interview that they should let go of their worries and simply give thanks for being alive. It probably won’t go down very well.
Now, if the way you think produces chronic anxiety how do you expect to schedule your shopping, plan your meals, stay accountable to yourself on the goals you’ve set and get back on the horse when you find yourself staring at an empty packet of cookies and wondering how the hell you even got there?
The short answer. You can’t expect to do any of that.
Do yourself a favour and get rid of your “if…then” rules.
If you fall off your training regime you’re not a failure.
If you find yourself muggy eyed and heavy headed at the end of a 3-day food binge, you haven’t undone all of your hard work.
If you don’t get the results you want in any area of your life you’re not destined to continue to f#*k things up.
But, taking a look at the way you think would likely be a good place to start. Try to develop a mindset that produces feelings of competence, belief and self-compassion. Not one that reminds you of how shitty your effort is and how you always seem to get it wrong. How do you expect to keep trying if you just bash yourself every time you do?
Finally, try this instead:
‘If I get this wrong then I’ll have learned how not to do it. And I’ll try another way’.