Our relationships with our weight scales, mirrors and perceptions of how we "measure-up" have a dramatic effect on us. There are countless cues throughout the day that remind us to evaluate ourselves: we sit down and notice where our pants feel tight, we look in the mirror and notice how tired we look, we see a colleague walk by with a gym bag and we compare our own physique and exercise habits... our days are packed with mini judgements and we rarely, if ever, stop to consider how they affect us.
So how does this relate to weight wellness? Imagine how you feel when someone criticizes you. Does this motivate you, or leave you feeling drained
of energy? Self-criticism, contrary to what we may believe, does little to motivate us to change - it actually makes us feel drained and insufficient. If our energy is sapped constantly
throughout the day by negative self-talk, its very difficult to gather the strength we need to make positive change.
If you tend to be self-critical, don't worry (and certainly don't criticize yourself for it)! Here are a few simple exercises that you can try this week to help calm the inner critic and set the ground-work for weight wellness and healthier living.
1. Be aware of your inner dialogue: Are you aware of how you speak to yourself? Try observing it. You may choose to keep track in a journal or on your calendar ("+" for kind thoughts, "-" for unkind, for example), or just by pausing to mentally observe these thoughts as they happen. The goal of this exercise is to notice when self-talk is happening (all self-talk, whether neutral, positive or negative). You don't need to judge or change anything - just be aware of the thoughts as they come and then move on once they pass.
2. Apologize to yourself: After observing your thoughts, if you discover that you do tend to criticize yourself, practice responding to the criticism. Acknowledge the thought and notice how it made you feel... was this what you had been intending? Consider whether you would say this to a close friend. If not, provide an apology to yourself just as you would to a friend. After all, you definitely deserve the same level of respect and support!
3. Be a good friend to yourself: When a good friend makes a mistake, how do
you respond? How does this differ from your response to your own mistakes? You are much more likely to succeed with positive change when you are able to respond to challenges with comforting
words and understanding. If comforting yourself feels silly, imagine a good friend doing it instead.
4. Give yourself a compliment: Curious about how self-talk affects how you feel? Try giving yourself a few compliments throughout the day. Congratulate yourself for making it to the gym, compliment a healthy snack choice, praise a great hair day - anything that you believe and appreciate.
Dr. Kristin Neff's website www.selfcompassion.org is a fantastic resource. If you are interested in learning more about research and best-practices related to self-talk and self-compassion, she offers a wealth of resources, free activities, guided meditations and an excellent book that I recommend.
I hope you enjoy the tips! I'd love to hear about your experiences with them - be sure to leave a comment below, post on the Facebook page or send me an email! Stay tuned for next week's blog: "Getting in Touch with the 'Why's' of Weight Loss". I will provide tips on how to connect with your real reasons for wanting weight loss; you may surprise yourself!