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> Back to Self-Care Excerpts List

Self-Care Excerpt from Don't Weight

Your Motivation Matters

When it comes to making changes in yourself or your life, the reason why you make changes will have more to do with your success than anything else will.

Your motivation is the single most important
factor in achieving and maintaining a lifestyle change.

Think of January, when New Year's resolutions are in the air. Think of spring as the beach season approaches. These are times when people often start a diet. You already know the end of that story. You have probably lived through it, or known someone who has. Most of the time, dieters do lose weight, only to regain the weight plus a few extra pounds within two to five years. How can you avoid this physically and psychologically damaging cycle? My answer may shock you.

Everybody knows the buzzwords; "Diets don't work." So, I will not say, "don't diet to lose weight". I will say:

"Don't do anything to lose weight."

Oh, my gosh! Did I really say that out loud? Yes, I did. And I will say it again. Please do not do anything to lose weight! Why would I say such a thing? Because,

If weight loss is the reason why you eat healthy foods and exercise, you will probably not continue healthy living activities if your weight fluctuates or plateaus ... and weight ALWAYS fluctuates or plateaus.

If weight loss is your motivation, you are practicing and encouraging self-criticism. After investing in this negative motivation, you will be less likely to accept yourself even if you do lose some weight. You may find that you will cultivate a loathing for your fuller body as you quest for a smaller one.

If weight loss were your primary goal,
then every workout would become an act of self-criticism.

If weight loss were your primary goal,
then every food choice would be based
on rejecting your body.

Every action would reinforce the hurtful message
that your body is wrong and deserves criticism.

If you change your lifestyle in order to attain a certain size or shape, what will you do if your body does not cooperate? Imagine you just spent a year working hard to get into a pair of jeans you used to be able to wear. Imagine you exercised every day and ate nutritious foods so you could fit into those jeans. At the end of the year, if they fit, you would be a success. But, what if they didn't fit? What if, after everything, you were still not the "right size"? You would have worked for a year and failed at losing enough weight. You would very likely give up on your healthy lifestyle, because it did not work.

How many people do you know who struggle forever with "those last five pounds"? Sometimes they give up and abandon all efforts to exercise or eat healthy. Sometimes they redouble their efforts and become over-exercisers or obsessive dieters. Should a person cultivate obsessive behaviors, exercise several times a day, or eat less food than is reasonable? If a healthy lifestyle results in a plus-size body, should a person feel compelled to develop an obsessively-controlled lifestyle to be the "right size"? Isn't that pathological behavior? Wouldn't it be better if people worked on living healthy lifestyle and appreciating whatever size and shape body nature has given them?

When I say: " Don't do anything to lose weight", that is only half of my message. The other half is very important:

"Do everything you can to build a healthy
comfortable lifestyle and take care of yourself!"

Notice the beginning of this statement. Do what you can and appreciate whatever you do. You cannot fail at this goal. Whatever you weigh, whatever your fitness level, however you eat, you can work at improving your lifestyle.

When building a healthy lifestyle is your primary goal,

EVERY ACT BECOMES
AN ACT OF SELF-NURTURING!

With every appreciative workout and
every nutritious meal, you heal
from the body-loathing that you have been taught.

Well, actually, instead of working at building your lifestyle, I encourage you to play at improving your lifestyle. Notice the phrasing as I talk about the areas you might play with. I never use self-critical motivation. Instead, I focus on the positive reasons for making changes.

  • You might choose to exercise more because you want to enjoy more flexibility, increased strength, or more stamina.
  • You might enjoy more fruits and vegetables because of all the nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals that improve your health.
  • You may reduce your intake of sweets because you have more energy when your blood sugar is more level.
  • If you eat when you are hungry, food will taste better and you will feel less deprived.
  • If you stop eating when you are satisfied, you will be able to enjoy that feeling of comfortable fullness (ah, I like that feeling), and avoid feeling uncomfortably over-stuffed.
  • When you use other skills and activities to cope with stress, fatigue, or anxiety, you may find that those skills and activities are more effective at fixing your life than food was.

When you make these changes in your lifestyle, your body will change. How will it change? Will you lose weight? I don't know. Your body weight and shape are determined by a complicated set of variables. You do not have control of all of those variables. I cannot predict the results of your lifestyle changes on your complicated body. I can tell you what I have seen as my clients build healthier lifestyles. I see people who feel better about their bodies, think less about food and enjoy nutritious eating more. I see increased self-confidence. People become more able (physically, mentally, and emotionally.)

Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Notice why you make the choices in your life. When making choices, find motivations that are encouraging and appreciative. Eat healthy foods and exercise because you deserve to feel good (not to lose weight.) You will be happier today and more successful tomorrow. You will be successful at taking care of yourself and building a healthy lifestyle!

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By Kelly Bliss M.Ed., A.C.E. author of Don’t Weight, Eat Healthy & Get Moving NOW!
Call 610-394-2547, Email kelly@kellybliss.com
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