Ditch the negative chatter in your head for good and set yourself up for successful weight loss
You can hardly turn on the TV or scroll through the Internet these days without being flooded with diet ads. The weight loss industry has grown dramatically over the past few years, and if you think about it, it makes sense. Over 70% of American adults are overweight, and almost half are on a diet. The problem is, sticking with a diet remains a huge challenge for most people.
The Trouble with Dieting
Simply put, dieting is tough. Studies show that diet-related weight loss is usually regained within five years, regardless of the plan followed. Why? Dieters often fail to keep the motivation to eat healthy because, by and large, they are constantly tempted by accessible, cheap, and highly advertised unwholesome foods. A failed diet many times results in weight fluctuations, which can lead to intense feelings of disappointment and negative self-reflective thoughts. These harmful thoughts, or self-talk, can do much to derail even the most carefully executed diet.
What is Self-Talk?
Many people have an internal dialogue that provides a running narrative of their lives as events unfold. This voice can be both positive or negative, offering praise and support, or expressing distress or regret. When it comes to dieting, especially when a diet is tested, self-talk can often take an ugly turn. Feelings of guilt and anguish following a session of poor eating can trigger harsh self-criticism and a depressed mood. Body dissatisfaction is usually not far behind.
It is common, especially among girls and women, to be critical of one’s body. Body dissatisfaction develops when your perception of the shape and weight of your body doesn’t measure up to what you want. Repeated negative self-talk related to body dissatisfaction has been linked to eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.
So what’s the trick to getting out of the negative self-talk rut? The answer is compassion. Dieters who are compassionate with themselves are more likely to succeed with weight loss. Why? Motivation to change habits strengthens when you’re relaxed, accepting, and feeling worthy. Dieters who respond to disappointment with kindness rather than disapproval don’t suffer with poor body image and eating disorders nearly as much.
Steps Toward Self-Compassion
- Be kind and understanding. Don’t judge yourself harshly. When you are harsh with yourself, you may distort what you see in the mirror. View your body with acceptance and appreciate your imperfections. Feel grateful for all of the things your body is capable of.
- Know you’re not alone. Imperfection, failure, and struggle is part of the shared human experience. Everyone has setbacks from time to time, and you are not alone in your journey.
- Be mindful of your negative thoughts and feelings. Take a balanced approach to your uncomfortable thoughts. Observe them without exaggerating, suppressing, or judging them. Be willing to sit with your thoughts with clarity and openness.