Caught In The Loop
New goals give us hope for great outcomes! When we see things that we want to change, we automatically begin to consider new possibilities. Pretty quickly our excitement about our metamorphosis begins to be marred by thoughts about previous failures. We begin to think that if we have been unable to lose weight before we won’t be able to lose weight now. Abandoning a workout program in the past haunts us as we make out our new exercise schedule. The specter of failure lingers throughout every day until we eventually begin to identify with the underachiever pictured in our minds.
New Reason…or Old Excuse?
When we listen to our own thoughts about our perceived inability to make positive changes in our lives, we begin to act on those thoughts. We repeat negative behaviors that manifest the same results that brought us to this place to begin with. While some people would view this as a cause for failure, I present a different thought. I believe that we sabotage ourselves with negative thoughts because once we decide to get healthy, make a plan, buy the stuff and begin to implement our plan, we realize that there’s more to this than talk.
As we embark on the journey of changing our nutritional and exercise habits, the harsh reality that new habits are hard work becomes all too real for many. At that time, it’s very easy to just relax and slide right back into what we know. As the old saying goes, “Talk is cheap.” Now it’s time to “Put your money where your mouth is.” Negative self-talk will bring about our most comfortable, instantly gratifying response, chips, cookies and sitting in front of the T.V., so it may not be a reason for failure. It may be a tool that we use to take us back to a temporary comfort zone. Maybe that’s why it can be so hard to stop negative self-talk. Maybe we deliberately set ourselves up for failure to avoid hard work.
To make matters worse, as we constantly feed ourselves negative thoughts our self-esteem plummets and stress rises. Stress always causes a cortisol release and cortisol causes blood sugar to rise. An insulin dump is soon to follow in order to stabilize the rising blood sugar from the cortisol release. All of this see-sawing in the blood sugar and insulin cycle causes cravings, lethargy and repeated bad behavior. We will get genuinely hungry when the insulin kicks in to stabilize the cycle. As we experience hunger, we feel justified to eat anything to satisfy the gnawing in our stomach. So at this point, we have talked ourselves into failure and eaten our way into lethargy. Wouldn’t it be much better to leave off the negative self-talk to begin with?
Be Your Own Cheerleader
There’s a reason that athletic teams have cheerleaders. Listening to voices telling you that you can do it, to go ahead and get it done, and that you are number one will help you accomplish your goals. Do NOT base your outlook for the future based on past failures. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results. If negative self-talk has not helped you in the past, why would you think that it ever will? You must base your pursuit of change on the expectation of positive outcomes.
Quite often we crave high calorie, sugar-laden junk when we are dealing with negative thoughts and emotions. One way to stop the knee-jerk binge reaction in these situations is to ask yourself the HALT questions. Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? If you are not experiencing hunger but you are experiencing negative emotions, then find an appropriate way to satisfy those negative emotions. The critical factor here is whether you want to progress or stay the same. If you want to progress, you will push yourself to do hard things such as asking yourself these questions and responding appropriately.
Once you have clarified the source of your conflict and taken action to resolve it, reward yourself! It’s always better to reward yourself with things that help you achieve your goals. New workout clothes, equipment or a gym membership is ALWAYS better than food that got you in trouble to begin with. Addictive food will just pull you backwards. You can even reward yourself with healthy foods that you don’t usually buy because you think they’re too expensive. Sometimes moms won’t buy a food if they are the only one in the family that likes it. Buy it. You worked for it. When I was a child, my mother wouldn’t buy any fruit except apples and bananas because it was too expensive so now, berries and other delicious seasonal offerings are a treat for me. Reward yourself with good things that are good for you. Let’s face it, no one else recognizes the amount of effort that you put into reaching even the smallest milestone in your battle for health and fitness.
When we languish in the past and all of our failures and shortcomings, we set ourselves up for depression and anxiety. Positive thinking and optimism benefits may include: (1)
- increased life span
- lower rates of depression
- lower rates of distress
- greater resistance to the common cold
- better psychological and physical well-being
- better heart health
- better coping skills
I have heard it said that our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. I do believe that is true. Decide today to let the past be passed and design your future as you see fit. Your past failures only have as much power over you as you give them. Your future is up to you.
Create your life.