Sometime last year, around or before my 27th birthday, my husband told me that he had a dream about me being in really great shape with a firm/toned body, wearing a Wonder Woman tank top, and completely dominating at the gym. He said he saw me in the dream doing pull-ups without any weight assistance like it was nothing at all; that he saw me benching and squatting more weight than ever, and doing many other difficult feats like a pro. (He had a very detailed dream, obviously.) I was very inspired and said to him "By the end of the year, I will be that woman. By my 28th birthday, I will make THAT woman look weak."
Well, my 28th birthday is in a few days, and I have not officially met either of those proclaimed goals/statements. However, I am making decent progress, and am on a path to get there. I have been more consistent this year than I had been previously-in both working out and eating better- and have been getting some results here and there. Results have been frustratingly stagnant over the last two or so months-I have stayed at the same weight range the whole time despite working very hard- but at least I know I am not going BACKWARDS (gaining weight), and that helps keep me mentally on track.
The fact that I can say that I have not reached a goal, but that it is OK because I am making progress, is by far, the greatest psychological win that could be asked for. My journey is no longer defined by a number on a scale, but rather the numbers that I know matter more: Can I run longer? Can I lift more weight? Can I do something that I previously couldn't?
Last year, if I worked out a lot but didn't see any change in the scale, I would have breakdowns and "throw a fit", for lack of better words. Now, when I see the same frustrating number on the scale for several weeks in a row, I can accept it and move on because I know what work I put in and what I am capable of and know that eventually things will turn. I am more confident in my abilities and celebrate smaller victories, such as gaining 2 seconds when running a lap around the park or running 10 feet farther than the last time. And my attitude in general has become more positive.
But these things didn't come from wishful thinking, nor did they happen overnight. They came from constant, willful working on mental habits. (And is STILL a constant work on it.)
If I'd catch myself falling into negativity, or if my husband caught me, I would work to find something positive to say or focus on in efforts to change my attitude. At first, this was HARD and I'd really have to think of something positive to say-which goes to show the depth of my lack of esteem or positivity, I think. As time went on, and the habit became more developed, it became easier to find things, and more importantly, to believe them (instead of just talking the talk). I also find that being more positive helps me work harder, and working harder helps me be more positive-it's a circle of good.
I believe that the mental aspect is as important as everything else when making changes (to anything-not just finances or weight), if not the most important thing. There is a quote attributed to Henry Ford (whether that's true or not, I have no idea) that kind of goes along with this idea: "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." I think that hits the nail on the head. People who believe they can do something, push through to do it-even if it takes a while or has to be worked up to/done in steps. People who believe they can't do something quit or procrastinate or make excuses to not do it, etc. I want to be in the first group, believing that I can do what I need to, and moving forward with mental fortitude to weather the storms.
So what can you do to make some positive changes and defeat the negative self-talk? While no list is going to be definitive or apply to everyone, here are some things that have helped me:
-Replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and be specific. Example: When I would say or think something about being fat, I would then say out loud something that is better. "I did x better today"/"My arms are shaping up", etc. This may be hard at first, and you may feel insincere, but that is all the more reason to keep doing it. It will become more natural as you keep doing it, and easier to find things. This doesn't just apply to one thing. ANY negative thought you have can, and should, be reframed with a more positive one.
-Have someone hold you accountable/hold someone else accountable. Such a simple, yet powerful, concept. If you notice a friend/loved one saying something negative, (gently) call them out and ask them to say something positive. Ask a trusted friend/loved one to hold you to the same standards and let them know you are trying to do better.
-Question the negativity. Sometimes the best/fastest way to start to turn the negativity around and embrace a more positive outlook is to question it within yourself. Ask yourself WHY you feel that way, or where it may have come from. This seems obvious, but many people do not do it, instead just accepting it as "the way things are". But, as the saying goes, the first step to resolving a problem, is to identify it. You may sometimes surprise yourself if you dig a little deeper in yourself and find that what you think about something, or where it came from, couldn't be further from the truth. Once you start to identify things, it helps you decide how you want to proceed and if something needs to be changed, and how.
If you are battling your own negative self-talk, I hope these ideas help you start to find some positivity. Do you have some ideas that worked for you, or a story about how you accomplished something once you changed your attitude? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!