How many times has it been?
How many times has it been that you’ve started an exercise program and diet? How many times have you been successful? And how many times have you fallen off the wagon, gained weight and stopped going to the gym all together?
What makes you think you can do it this time?
I want to tell you a story of a woman who tried everything. In the past 6 years, I’ve seen this woman try every fad diet, every new exercise program, and every weight loss gadget out there. She’s cleansed, she’s wrapped, and she’s gotten up at 5am for bootcamps. If she had stuck to any ONE of the multiple techniques she tried, she would have lost the weight she was hoping to lose. Year after year, I would look again and see her joining a new bootcamp, trying the 17 Day Diet or the 21 Day Fix and setting her resolutions that this time would be it. Her friends and followers would cheer her on, and I would sit waiting for her fitness and diet posts to fade off into Margaritas and vacations in Mexico. I too felt myself cheering for her, that perhaps THIS time it would really work. Maybe it will someday, and for her sake, I hope it does.
For someone who apparently wants it so bad, why can’t this woman make a healthy lifestyle stick?
There could be a lot of reasons. Her expectations of how she wants her body to change may be too drastic, and therefore unattainable. Being overweight already she may have some physical obstacles that get in the way of her enduring the aggressive nature of a bootcamp. She may have some environmental obstacles such as no access to a gym, or no time in her day due to a career and family. Or, perhaps after trying and failing for years and years, she ultimately doesn’t believe she can do it.
Why is belief in yourself so important?
Self-efficacy is one of the most consistent predictors of exercise adherence. That is, the extent to which an individual believes they are capable of carrying out a behavioural change, and increasing self-efficacy will lead to increasing self effort and time being devoted to the task!
How do I increase my belief in myself?
First of all, one of the ways you can start is by really believing in the thing you want to change! So, if you want to change your weight and you believe that it is an important, even vital thing to do, then I want you to start by convincing yourself of the positive outcomes of weight loss. Then, I want you to compare that to the cons of weight loss. Take a sheet of paper and write pro’s and con’s at the top. Now, what would some pros of weight loss be? Well, you might say
- Increased energy
- More self-confidence
- I would feel sexy again
- I wouldn’t hate my body
- I’ll live longer
Now I want you to list some of the cons of weight loss. Yes, there is a down side to weight loss as well. It’s going to cost you something. So, what is it?
- I don’t get to eat my favourite foods
- I’ll feel excluded from certain things like my Ladies Vodka Night
- I’ll go through sugar withdrawal
- I’ll have to try things that I’m afraid of
Good, keep that list handy. Visit it often and remind yourself of the positives. You have to want the pro’s more than the con’s for this to work. I want you to repeat the PRO list frequently, and allow yourself to imagine what it would be like and feel like to have those things as a reality. What would your life be like if you had more energy? What would you feel like if you walked into a room feeling more confident? What would it be like for you to look in the mirror and love your body, and to have that little voice in your head automatically tell you that you’re beautiful?
Secondly, I want you to start using some cognitive credits. Cognitive credits include using some positive self talk, “I’ve done well”, “I’m getting stronger”, “I have the ability to lose weight and change my lifestyle”. This talk strengthens confidence. Think of a phrase that resonates with you. If it feels weird coming out of your mouth, you won’t likely be repeating it!
I just read a journal called CORK – The Effects of Positive and Negative Self Talk During Dart Throwing Performance! I thought the title was hilarious and it made me curious about the study. 60 subjects were randomly assigned to positive, negative or control conditions and then completed 15 experimental dart throws. Results indicated that positive self-talk subjects performed significantly better than negative self-talk subjects on the dart throwing task. (http://search.proquest.com/openview/457faef6d49dcbf4d58f6fd70394098b/1?pq-origsite=gscholar)
Whether it be darts, weight loss, exercise or anything where you are trying to succeed, your best bet is to be kind to yourself in your own head. Believe change is possible! Secondly, remember how critical exercise is to your well-being and draft up a list of pro's and con's. Keep the list handy and be inspired by it often. Finally, how you talk to yourself will greatly impact what you believe about yourself.