Weight Issues and Mind Games.
Weight Issues and Mind Games: I am familiar with the challenges of finding and maintaining a healthy weight and body image both personally, and as I have worked as a personal trainer and fitness instructor over the years. It’s one of my favorite subjects. As far as our health and well-being are concerned, I think it is extremely powerful.
What got me thinking about all of this was actually a sort-of funny thing that happened recently. It all started when I stepped on my home scale. Now, I know we all have different relationships with the scale, but I’m the type to hop on it once or twice a year, just to be sure that I’m within a normal range for me. I shy away from weighing myself too often, as I don’t want to get obsessed with it. I know our weight can fluctuate a pound here or there, and I simply prefer to go by how my clothes are fitting, and how I generally feel. (It hasn’t always been this way, but my full personal story will have to be another post. If you wish.)
Well, this time recently when I got on that scale, it showed a weight about eight pounds LESS than my normal. Funny, it was just after the holidays, and I hadn’t noticed pants falling off of me or anything. I was really surprised! But I can’t lie–I LIKED seeing a lower weight than usual. I had not been trying to lose weight, but seeing a lighter weight was like a little free gift. Obviously, it felt great!
And you know what I noticed after that? For the next day or two, I had a THIN-PERSON mentality. I felt good, and I wanted to keep it that way. I think I nibbled a little less. I probably walked a little taller. I went light on dessert, and I was pretty sure that I looked rather skinny in my skinny jeans.
But hold on for chapter TWO:
One of my boys had a doctor’s appointment later that week. He happened to weigh himself at home just before we left, (hoping for some weight gain, of course.) Then as usual, the nurse weighed him when he first checked in at the doctor’s office. Seeing that the weight at the doctor’s office was HIGHER than the home scale, my boy was super excited. He yelled out–“Mom! Our scale is wrong at home! I’m more than FIVE pounds heavier than I thought I was!”
I was excited for him. For about one second.
Until it hit me: That means…
…I had not LOST any weight, but quite possibly had gained a couple of pounds!
Sure enough, as each family member weighed themselves later, it became very clear that our scale was at least five pounds on the light side.
The boys were stoked.
But this whole psych experience only served as a reminder of something I really already knew.
Something that I TRIED like crazy to communicate to my clients when I was personal trainer.
Something that if I could BOTTLE IT UP and hand it out, would be a great help to a whole lot of people in their own personal weight, and body image journey.
I was reminded that the greatest DIET TOOL we have is our own MIND.
Remember, when I thought I weighed less, I ATE like someone proud to weigh less who wanted to keep it that way.
When I felt GOOD about myself, you might say I wanted to keep the ball rolling in that direction, so I kept the positive behaviors going…which in turn creates a snowball effect.
Now there are some of you out there who, if you thought you had lost five pounds, would go celebrate with a hot-fudge sundae. I get that.
Most of us, however, respond to positive news the way I responded to my perceived weight loss. Most of will feel so good about a little success, that we are willing to go the extra mile to keep it that way–or even improve on it.
And sadly the reverse is also true: When we are feeling lousy about ourselves, we tend to “feed” the behavior that got us there. (excuse the pun.) Our human nature can get us feeling so negative that we don’t want to begin rolling that ball…up hill. It’s just too hard to get started. OR it might be an easy start, but it gets hard really fast. And then we buy into the belief that we are always going to be this way, and this is just WHO. WE. ARE. (By the way, this same mentality can apply to a multitude of other areas of life…my messy car, or disorganized file cabinets just to name a few. ;))
BUT NOW, I ask: What if you could see a weight of five…ten, or more pounds lighter on your scale right now?
Would it motivate you?
Would it give you the confidence you need to push the plate away a little sooner? To skip dessert? To workout?
What if you started to believe that underneath it all, YOU ARE the person you WOULD LIKE TO be…What if you could BELIEVE That your TRUE SELF IS the IDEAL self that you have simply not yet achieved? What if you chose to LIVE, EAT, and EXERCISE as if you were the size/shape of the IDEAL YOU that you want to become?
I happen to believe that our thought life plays a huge role in our behaviors…Diet, exercise, and far beyond.
How is your thought life?
Do you agree that how you think about yourself plays a huge role in how you take care of yourself?
I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with your thought life and your health (or any other area this speaks to you!)
And again, let me know what else we should talk about here…
Now that we opened this can of worms…we might as well go for it! 🙂
PS. To be fair: My Chapter Three was when I had my own doctor’s appointment a week later, and my weight turned out to be EXACTLY the same as it was one year ago…And I’ll be happy with that. 🙂
Very well said. Hit home when I first read it over a year ago, confirming what I had been suspecting for a long time. The greater peace and joy I have in my life, in my heart about who I am, the more I can enjoy fitness, and my body is free to feel healthier.
I’ve noticed that when I’m in a good place, in my mind, I tend to eat more of what I want. But when I’m in a bad place or am going through a tough time, I eat less and lose weight. I guess the negative emotions motivate me to work out harder, pass on dessert and lose those few extra hanging on. What do you think that means?
This is my number one battle. I just can’t seem to consistently believe I can be that healthy fit mama I want to be. So I do feed that damaging mindset until my pants are tight. So frustrating. I’m so all or nothing instead of better choices more often. I gained 20 lbs in 2004 after my thyroid was killed by radioactive iodine due to Graves’ disease. After two baby boys I sit at that 20 lbs weight 11 years later. I’ve never been able to get it off. I’ve run 1/2 marathons at this weight I’ve done bootcamp twice a week for a year at this weight and now I’m becoming a bit of a gym machine rat at this weight. I have muscle and am strong. But I don’t feel my best and I feel like I’m struggling to get out of this body. I’ve lost a few lbs here and there but never been able to break under 140. And at 5’2″ that’s a lot. I can’t wait to read your book and learn how you finally won this fight. I’m 36 and want to be comfortable in my own skin. Food takes up way to much of my thought life. Some due to celiac but most is just unhealthy. Whew. Too heavy on a Sunday morning!
It’s so weird — reading this really took me back to some very specific moments over the past 8-ish years, since I moved to NYC and started to live my life by my own rules.
And I’ve really gone from one extreme to another — a good day on the scale, in the gym, on the slopes, in the water, etc etc etc usually ended with me feeling better, stronger, faster, healthier, and more in control which kept me motivated and encouraged to stay on that track. Although after a really good day snowboarding, surfing, or skating, I’d be lying if I said knowing I could have an extra beer, slice of pizza, or other treat without guilt didn’t play a part in pushing a little harder that day, or make it worth an extra bruise or bump.
But then came the first shoulder injury, then the second, then another minor medical diagnosis, a death in the family, a death of a friend, job loss, career change, another major city move, etc etc etc and I would be knocked right off that track and into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, a greasy burger, an extra order of Chinese food, you name it. I managed to climb (or claw) my way out of that pit more than once, but it was a fight every day for the first few months to keep going until I got back to another milestone — my longest run in months, fitting back into my favorite snowboarding pants, being able to match my fittest friend stroke for stroke in the water — to find that drive again.
Until I get there, it’s a struggle. Every day. Because I can’t get back there overnight.
And it’s not really about the number on the scale (although I won’t complain as it gets smaller and smaller), it’s about feeling comfortable in my own skin (and favorite jeans) and being able to do whatever I want whenever I want physically.
Thank you so much Lena. So well said. You obiously have yourself pretty figured out, which I believe is half the battle. No fooling yourself. 🙂 I’m sure you are well on your way to a consistent, future–with health, balance, and plenty more snow boarding! 🙂 Take care friend!
I used to be in shape prior to my pregnancy. Then I gained a ridiculous amount of weight (around 60 lbs) and have struggled ever since. When I was fit, I was working out everyday (sometimes 2x a day). I ate healthy. Now that I have been dieting and trying to find a new healthy lifestyle almost 4 years later, I eat worse even when trying to eat healthy. If I don’t see the pounds fall off after a week or two of working out and eating right, I get depressed and fall back into woe is me type of attitude and end up gaining more weight. When I feel good about myself, I eat right, work out, but as soon as I feel like I lose that healthy or workout “high”, I fall back into old habits from past 4 years. It’s a mind game. In the worst way. It was so much easier for me to lose weight before having a baby. I just hired a trainer and he said I should start doing smoothies for breakfast, salad for lunch, and chicken/fish and veggies for dinner. While it sounds great for me, it does not sound great for my family(husband). I’m having a hard time balancing healthy meal options that is appealing to everyone. It’s a constant struggle. Just when I think I take 3 steps forward, I fall back 5. I need control of my emotions and mind to become healthy once and for all.
Thank you so much for sharing here–and your struggles sound so common. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I think it takes time to figure out just what “works” and what doesn’t. You’re probably closer than you think! 🙂 More post on this topic coming, so see ya soon! aloha!
I completely agree. I weighed myself at the gym the other day and was sad that I was same as a few months ago. Then I got home and husband said he thought I said I weighed 10 pounds more then that when I joined. Even though I know he has the other number embedded in his head cause it is what our dog weights, I chose to live by what he said and have been working extra hard this week to loose ‘another’ 10 🙂
That is actually hilarious! Your dog. 😉
So yes, mind games it is–whatever works, right? Thanks for stopping in Stasha!! aloha
How I think and feel about myself totally affects how I than act about myself. Take today for example. This week I have been sick, like sick, today was so not a fun day breathing wise. Which meant I therefore could not make it out to fit club for my group workout. So what did I do instead, yep curl up on the couch eating junk food!
And as much as I love seeing the number on the scale go down (and trust me it still has a ways to go), your right feeling clothes be looser than they were before is one of the most amazing feelings. My secret weapon is to do those photo collage things and put of picture of me at my heaviest weight next to a picture of me now. It usually always can pull me out of any body funk .
Thanks for sharing! I’ve been battling to get fit again after 2 years of the “London lifestyle” and it’s amazing how much the ‘small wins’ and positive reinforcements can impact motivation. It’s also fascinating how we project our own body confidence outwards – if we feel great, we act confidently, stand taller, engage more with others and it’s all a bit of a cycle really!
I for one, would love to hear more about your own personal story that you mentioned would have to be another post. It’s hard for us readers to imagine someone as in shape as you (and after 4 kids!!) ever had a body image worry!
Thank you so much Elaine! I have to say that “London Lifestyle” sounds like a lot of fun!
I’m glad you’ve experienced the same thing. When that cycle is in action, it really is nice. Then it’s just a matter of keeping the ball rolling!
Ok–I’ll work on that other post too, I promise. 😉 Aloha!
If I see that I have lost 5 pounds I definitely see that as an opportunity to eat a hot fudge sundae guilt free. But at the same time, if I have eaten a “less than ideal” diet all week, my thought is, “Oh well, I’ve already messed up. I might as well eat this ice cream…I can start over tomorrow.” So either way, I am eating the hot fudge sundae!!
haha…I think you’re a liar! 😉 Really, I think you’re just so skinny it doens’t really matter, so maybe you should just stay out of this one. haha! LOVE YOU FRIEND! Now go eat a hot fudge sundae! And feed your friends too.
Good point! When I feel my clothes fitting a little looser I definitely feel more motivated to keep going with eating well and exercising more and feel more confident!