I don’t know about the rest of you, but as I’ve gained weight, lost weight, had babies, and what not, I’ve accumulated enough clothes to open my own boutique. I keep hanging on to these things because I tell myself I will lose weight and be able to wear them again. Guess what? Nearly 11 years of marriage and 5 moves and my “collection” has grown. Before our last move, I ruthlessly went through these boxes and culled out almost everything that was older than my oldest kid. But still, the evidence is pretty damning.
These boxes represent to me a lifetime of failed diets and plans to lose weight. Carrying these around move after move has only increased my self-disgust and has made me feel like I would be overweight and unhappy forever. I’ve told myself that this was the last move these boxes would follow us. At least filled with my clothes, at any rate. I’m on track, and not every day is perfect, but I will get there in the end. I have about 2 months left before they will be packed up again, and I’m anxious to get in there and see what’s what. Already, the clothes I’ve been wearing for the last 3 years are getting too big for me.
We all know there is no such thing as some miracle fat pill that’s going to help us lose weight. There’s no magic bullet, and no particular program that’s going to make the fat disappear overnight. It takes time. It takes sweat. It takes planning, and then executing that plan. There is only you and maybe it’s your head that’s getting in the way. I have found that all day long I’m running this constant monologue in my head. Sometimes, it’s just helpful reminders, like a million “don’t forget to….” but occasionally when I have tuned in, I’ve caught myself thinking negatively about myself and my efforts.
These aren’t just random bad thoughts, these are things that I might be saying to myself without realizing what I’m doing. Like when I look at those boxes of clothes I can’t wear, and I think, “what’s the point? Just get rid of that shit. You’ll never be able to fit into them again.” Or I might catch a glimpse of myself passing a mirror and think, “ugh! I look disgusting”. The problem is not that I thought it. The problem is that it’s not even a conscious thought! This constant litany of negativeness that constantly streams in my head has begun to beat me down. We are truly our own worst critics.
Eventually, I’ll crumble under this avalanche of negativity. There is only so much beating down a person can take before something breaks. I used to “encourage” myself to push harder and longer by using insults and demeaning words. You know, classic R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket. Then I realized that that kind of attitude just does not motivate me, even though I used to think it did. Instead it pulls me down, makes me want to quit. And eventually I do, thinking “I just can’t do this anymore.”
But quitting is just not an option anymore. I feel rejuvenated by my level of commitment to myself, to do this and see it through to the finish. I have a lot of work to do as far retraining my brain, to learn the art of positive thinking. Every time I catch myself thinking a negative thought about my body, my diet, my fitness level, I have to stop, reevaluate. Is what I said really true? Why did I think that? Was I trying to be self-deprecating? Funny? Am I making excuses?
Most of the time, it’s just me, lacking self-confidence and esteem. Until now, I haven’t respected myself enough to really look at why I think the way I do about myself. I can tell you it wasn’t pretty. My negative self-talk consisted of calling myself a fat, lazy so-and-so, who can’t run for shit. Well. That’s not necessarily true. I am fat. But I’m not lazy and I can run, I’m just not particularly fast. Also true: I may be fat, but I have a lot of weight to lose and slowly but surely, it is going away. I may not be a fast runner, but I’m improving, and no, I don’t need to be able to run like a gazelle, I’d be happy to run 5 miles or so at a steady pace. On top of everything, I am gaining muscle: my arms and legs are getting firmer and I’m seeing a little more definition.
One of the most important things I am learning is ditching the “all or nothing” attitude. Some people may get off on that, but I can’t. I’ve read past journal entries and saw how I resolved to eat right 100% of the time, work out every day, not fall off the wagon, be committed 110% to this diet. And each and every time, something happened: I missed a workout, I ate pizza or whatever, and I quit the whole thing because I couldn’t keep my resolve. All or nothing is just a recipe for failure. A fitness plan and diet are not things that should be undertaken temporarily. We should be making decisions about our fitness and our diet that will last a lifetime, not just the next few weeks or months. That means the things we choose to stick to should be realistic and practical.
Today, while you are going about your day, take a moment now and then and listen to what your inner monologue is telling you. Ask yourself if it’s negative, insulting, self-deprecating. If it is, start retraining to think positively. Focus on the short-term goals you have for yourself when you’re struggling. Sometimes, that goal may be as simple as just finishing your workout! In this race, there is no time limit, and there is only one direction: UP! Start climbing.