Author: Emma Andrus
Positive reinforcement is an important part of self compassion. According to Arnasun, positive reinforcement “is focusing on the good and how far you have come instead of how far you have yet to go.” This means congratulating yourself for each and every victory, no matter how small, and taking some of the focus away from the negative. And remember, when you make a mistake or fail to reach a goal the way you wanted to, this doesn’t erase all of the hard work you’ve done up to that point. Self-compassion and self-forgiveness go hand in hand, and when things get tough, it’s important to continue to take care of yourself. Neff writes, “Instead of just ignoring your pain with a ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, you stop to tell yourself, ‘This is really difficult right now. How can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?’”
Another fundamental of self-compassion is self-care.
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise are vital elements of self-care, but sometimes that gets lost in the desperate rush to find a quick-fix weight loss solution.
Yo-yo dieting that leads to rapid weight loss and just as rapid re-gaining of weight is usually motivated by shame, by our desire to fix what is ‘wrong’ with us. Real, lasting weight loss comes from a lifestyle change, and from making the commitment to take better care of our bodies because we value ourselves. Says Neff, “You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are.”
Another common pitfall that goes hand-in-hand with negative self-talk is setting unrealistic goals. Remember, we’re not all built to weigh 120 pounds, especially as we age. Just because that was your healthy weight at 20, doesn’t mean that it’s your healthy weight at 50. If you find you need to lose a great deal of weight, losing weight in smaller increments over time can be more attainable. “Losing one or two pounds per week is a reasonable goal and can generally be achieved without extreme measures. Weigh yourself weekly; every week that you reach your goal, acknowledge your success,” an editor at Fit Day explains.
If you find you are having difficulty losing weight on your own through increased activity and healthier eating, don’t be afraid to reach out for additional help and support. Dietitians, nutritionists, and lifestyle coaches make it their life’s work to help others kick-start and maintain healthy lives. Because of their education and experience, they know more about healthy eating programs than you can find in lifestyle magazines, and are likely to help you pinpoint areas where you may be having trouble.
In addition, dietitians and clinical nutritionists are educated on determining metabolic challenges that you may be having and can develop a more personalized and targeted solution. It’s important to build a foundation of support to help you in your health goals, and sometimes we need more than encouraging friends and family.
I’ve had a great deal of help along the way, and did a lot of research into what a healthy diet looks like.
This can be difficult with all of the diet and exercise fads on the market today, but a basic diet that is low in processed foods and high in nutritious natural foods like fruits and vegetables is a good place to start.
For me, exercise has been a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Since high school, I’ve learned to love getting outside and riding my bike, going for hikes, and even simply walking the dog. They need exercise to be healthy, too! It might be helpful to think of your pet as a workout buddy, too.
Eventually, I began to think of my body differently, and food as well. When I went away to college, I started taking better care of myself and shed the excess weight with ease. Since then, I’ve continued to struggle to keep it off through stressful times, but I do so with more care and compassion for myself, knowing that when I gain weight it’s not because there’s something wrong with me. I treat myself with care and try my best to take care of myself by eating nutritious meals and trying to exercise regularly.
I broke free from the cycle of shame, negative self-talk, and weight gain, and if you work hard at being kind to yourself, so can you- Emma Andrus
Lisa Turner, “How Negative Self Talk Makes You Fat,” Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-turner/negative-self-image-be-ni_b_626598.html
“The Power of Positive Thinking: How Your Attitude Affects Weight Loss,” Fit Day http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-power-of-positive-thinking-how-your-attitude-affects-weight-loss.html
Keven Arnasun, “Negative vs. Positive Reinforcement in Fitness,” Motive8Fitness http://www.motive8fitness.ca/motivation/positive-vs-negative-reinforcement-fitness/
Dr. Kristin Neff, “Definition of Self Compassion,” Self-Compassion http://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/