The biggest obstacle on your fitness journey isn’t missed workouts or birthday parties. It isn’t forgetting your lunch or not hitting 10K steps.
Your biggest obstacle is your INNER CRITIC.
- It is the constant chatter of negative self talk.
- It’s the negative messages we give ourselves.
- It’s the unrealistic expectations we apply to our progress.
- It’s the feelings of unworthiness that keep us from going after what we want.
Most of my clients deals with at least one of these things. They often use words like lazy, stupid or failure to describe their reasons for succumbing to a doughnut, skipping a workout or gaining weight. In almost the same breath they tell me about being a caregiver to an ailing parent or young children. They tell me about working 10-hour workdays. They describe the tremendous amount of stress they are under and the long list of responsibilities they have. Then they criticize their lack of discipline and willpower. They just don’t understand what is going wrong.
Every BetterU team I’ve coached has dealt with the weight (no pun intended) of unrealistic expectations. I blame The Biggest Loser and, as one team member put it, 80’s teen movies. My goal is to help them establish new healthy habits and a foundation for the journey to come. They expect a full body makeover in 12 weeks. They beat themselves up for “only” losing a pound a week. The progress is slow, they say, what I am I doing wrong?
I find myself falling for it too as I participate in the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge. Sometimes, when I am having a bad day, I still see the fat girl staring back at me in the mirror. Even though at this point in the process (wrapping up week 5) I am not focused on fat loss, I find myself envious of progress posts. I see abs popping out, butts lifted and biceps flexing. Body fat and pounds are dropping. Their progress taps into my own fears of never being enough. My goal right now is to build muscle and my body fat has dropped slightly but I still think to myself what AM I doing wrong?
To them and to myself I have to say:
We are DOING nothing wrong.
We are THINKING wrong.
We have to reframe our thinking and reprogram our feedback loop.
No more words like “just” or “only”. No more comparing the beginning of our journey to someone else’s middle. No more comparing PERIOD. If you keep feeding your brain with negative messages it will give you negative thoughts in return. Nurture it just like you would your body. Find your mantra to repeat silently when the bad starts to overtake the good. Mine for the rest of the challenge is…I was born to be real, not perfect.
We have to be honest and realistic with our expectations.
The Biggest Loser is a game. It’s not about long term health. They also live on a ranch with nothing to do but exercise all day. We have lives. We have to face what we are ready, willing AND able to do and set expectations accordingly. I don’t have that much fat to lose and my goal right now is to gain muscle. Expecting the scale to change isn’t realistic at this stage in the game (other than perhaps to gain a pound or two). I have NO reason to feel bad about my own progress. Instead I should be proud of how solid my legs feel and the definition starting to appear in my shoulders. I need reaffirm my goals and trust the process. I vow to spend more time applauding my teammates progress and my own.
We need to be kind to ourselves during a time of transformation.
Cocoons aren’t very pretty but they are a necessary part of turning into a butterfly. Growing your hair out after a pixie cut can get ugly but you deal with it to get a gorgeous shoulder length bob. We will experience frustration, weakness and fear on our journey. Give yourself whatever time and love is necessary to get to where you want go. Ask for the help when you need. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you stronger.
The world is hard enough on us. Be your own champion. Let the voice in your head be your cheerleader, not your critic.