Get Your Mind Right

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Getting Your Mind Right

Self-Talk and Being Five Again

By: Nathan Miller, NSCA-CSCS

I have noticed a trend when speaking with people about fitness and weight loss, people generally know what they want but not why they want it. I can’t tell you how often I have heard: “if I could just lose twenty pounds…” Sadly, I can’t tell you one time that I have heard a healthy sentence after that phrase.

The problem is that people are not looking deeply enough. They see that there is a goal and not the reason behind that goal. Why do you want to lose weight? What will be different? Honestly, not much if you are thinking that it will change your situation in life. Just because the number on a scale is different does not mean that self-esteem will change. The logic just needs to be flipped. Change how you are looking at goal setting. If you see things that are unhealthy, especially your mindset, fix them and observe what happens.

This doesn’t need to be complicated; if you are trying to feel better about yourself, practice being kind. I am a huge fan of the saying “imagine yourself as a five year old.” Would you yell at a young person 24/7 because they messed something up? Of course not, there might be a stern correction, but then the lesson has been learned and things move on.

I was speaking with a friend about self-talk recently and she realized that she would not, under any circumstances, tolerate a verbally abusive relationship; however, she was being verbally abusive to herself. She would put herself down in the morning when she got dressed, when she was eating lunch, during her workout, and even while lying in bed. There was no break from the abuse. I know that lots of people do the same thing (me included).

I am not suggesting that there is no room for exercise in the equation, or that getting healthier won’t facilitate a change in self-esteem. I am suggesting that most people are too hard on themselves and sabotage their efforts because of perfectionism and ruthless, overwhelming tactics.

So what is the answer? I would start with just being aware of how often you are giving yourself a hard time. Don’t try to change your thinking, or habits; just observe. How do your thoughts make you feel? Do you eat junk after? How do you interact with others after a self-scolding? I would imagine that if someone else was saying the exact same things to you, it would totally change your behavior, for the worse.

Next, I would just try to stop yourself from saying those mean things one out of every five times. When you do, just ask yourself: would I say this to a five-year-old? If not, smile and move on. I know it sounds cheesy, but smiling is really important. You just stopped someone from harassing you, be happy about that, enjoy that. You just had a victory.

While this may just seem only vaguely related to weight loss, it’s key to get your mind right. You have to separate self-loathing from a goal of getting healthy. Weight loss should be to get healthier and happier. Exercise is not a punishment for eating cake or drinking soda. It is a wonderful way to care for yourself and invest in your wellbeing. Enjoy it. Every workout is a victory.

Start Getting you mind right with these three steps:

1. Notice your self-talk and its consequences

2. Start a habit of being gentle with yourself

3. Enjoy your victories

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