This month’s newsletters both highlighted some questions that I recommend asking yourself if you’ve ever struggled to achieve a healthful weight. If you’re ready to start on a journey to renewed wellness, these questions, and the resources that follow, are a great road map. Curious where this leads? Grab a paper and pen, and let’s begin.
Question 1: What do you hate most about your body?
a) List the body part(s) that you wish you could change.
b) Label each of the parts you listed with one of these choices:
–D: There’s a permanent disabling condition that keeps it from functioning well.
–A: It needs treatment or other attention I’ve not been able and/or willing to give.
–U: It works fine but is unattractive.
c) CROSS OUT all items labeled D or U. Here’s why:
Items that are “D,” true permanent disabilities, are beyond your control. They absolutely DO NOT equal a failure on your part. In other words, stop beating yourself up about things that are not your fault. Focus instead on appreciating, taking care of, and using to the best of your ability the rest of your body.
Similarly, it’s best to focus away from items you labeled “U.” Skin that has a few wrinkles or spots but is free of rashes, cancers, and discomfort is a blessing, not a curse. Most feet are not much to look at, but the vast majority of them are still capable of walking, running, and dancing. Besides, what’s unattractive to one person may be quite appealing to another. Beauty is a matter of perception, not fact.
So forget the “D” and “U” parts. To make a significant and lasting change in your wellness, concentrate instead on the items you labeled “A.” You can find success—including improved health and improved self-esteem—only by taking control, and the “A” items are the ones within your reach. They are, too. Make a conscious decision to focus on what you can do.
Question 2: Are you married to the scale?
In other words, how often do you weigh yourself—monthly, weekly, daily, hourly?
If your answer is “daily” or “hourly,” commit immediately to changing that damaging habit. Too much focus on a single health number can backfire. Obsession, after all, is no healthier than excess weight.
If you fear losing control or becoming undisciplined without a frequent weight check, simply write it in your calendar as a weekly (not daily) to-do item, and cross it out when you’ve done it. This way, you can reassure yourself you aren’t forgetting, without becoming too compulsive.
Question 3: Are you over-enrolled in celebrity diets?
In fact, do you follow celebrity diet plans at all? This is probably not a good idea. Remember, every body, lifestyle, and budget is in some ways unique. The plan that worked for this month’s pampered, jet-setting Vogue cover girl may be entirely unsuitable for your needs.
Remember also that beneath the glamour, stars are flesh and blood, like us. How many times have we seen a movie star lose weight, then end up cruelly criticized in the press for regaining it? Regardless of the person’s social status, maintaining a healthy weight takes commitment and the right mindset. Simply having a famous name attached to it doesn’t make a diet plan foolproof.
Question 4: Do you yearn for your high school weight?
…or any weight from the past?
Fact: Our bodies’ needs change as we age, as our lifestyles evolve, or as we fall into new day-to-day habits. It only makes sense that our ideal weight should change as well.
It’s not productive to live in the past. Appreciate your personal history, reflect on it, recall the good moments. But don’t try to recapture what’s behind you. (Bad dates, acne, social drama, that gawky stage…When you take off the rose-colored glasses, not all high school memories are fond ones, are they?) Instead, embrace a forward-thinking mindset that lets you focus on living your best life and health in the present—and the future.
Question 5: Do you think you can make all the changes yourself?
You answered “yes,” didn’t you? I admit it. I’m an independent thinker, too.
People often pride themselves on being lone cowboys, and in many ways, this is a positive characteristic. When it works, it works quite well. But when we struggle to succeed, when we repeatedly try to accomplish something and aren’t able—this is not the time to stand alone. There’s no shame in asking for help. Quite the opposite: It’s a sign of mental strength and level-headedness to recognize you can’t do everything by yourself.