The voice in my head had been telling me to return to my healthier routine since the first day of the New Year. I had indulged in eating larger portions of high-calorie foods and sweet treats over the holidays. I also exercised a lot less; however, I do take credit for the miles I walked through shopping malls.
I ignored that nagging voice in my head for a few days because I wanted to enjoy myself at the celebration events planned during the first few days of the New Year. But, 5 days into the New Year, I stopped ignoring my usual positive voice. I started a new conversation with myself.
My pre-healthy lifestyle “self-talk” went something like this….
- It’s getting late, and I’m too tired to cook. I’ll order take out.
- I’ve worked all day. I deserve to kick-back and rest.
- I’m starving. I’ll just grab something ready to eat; usually junk food.
- It’s cold outside. I just want to curl up on the sofa and hibernate like a bear.
- It would be a sin to toss those leftovers in the trash. There are people starving in this world.
Do any of these excuses sound vaguely familiar? It is common for people to have similar conversations with themselves. So why not change the conversation with yourself into a positive one!
Definition of “Self-Talk”
“a person’s internal dialogue, which can be positive and motivational or negative and demotivating.”
Self-talk. (n.d.) Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine by Churchill Livingstone. (2008). Retrieved January 7 2015 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/self-talk
Changing the Conversation with Yourself
It sounds pretty simple right? After all why would anyone want their internal dialogue to continue to be demotivating?
Unfortunately, unhealthy habits or sometimes addictions to substances like sugar and tobacco are hard to break because they are often tied to physical and/or emotional responses, such as cravings, withdrawals or severe change in moods. Most unhealthy habits require more than “Self-Talk,” but positive thinking and the desire to change is an important first step!
Because my healthy lifestyle (now of 4 years) has become a habit, I rarely need to talk myself into eating more nutritious foods or exercise. I enjoy what I’m eating and my fitness routine. But, and that is a BIG but, when I’m not eating the proper balance of healthy foods or exercising regularly for an unusually long period (such as the holidays), it contributes to my fatigue. So I have to re-motivate myself to get off my literal butt to break the cycle. And, as far as my abundance of mostly unhealthy leftover food, I’d rather share them with others or put the trash in a can instead of my body.
My New “Self Talk”
I’ve changed my internal dialogue from rationalizing why I cannot or should not do something to telling myself why it’s important to do it. The conversation with myself typically goes something like this:
- If the pie goes to waste, at least I won’t be wearing it on my waist. You know you will feel fuller for longer if you eat that apple; besides you need to get in your fruits for the day.
- You know you will be less tired when you get back on your regular routine of exercise. Come on…get up..get up.
- Ok, it’s getting late. Turn off the computer now and relax for awhile. You know you will sleep better and have the energy you need to accomplish what is on your agenda tomorrow.
Tips for Winning the Argument in Your Mind
Be patient: For instance, telling yourself you can do something just once may not work. Remind yourself over and over why your goal is important to you. When I started my journey, it sometimes took me an hour to win the argument to do something I knew was necessary to achieve my goals. Winning my argument to workout became empowering. I truly was one workout away from a good mood. The argument in my head became easier to win each time. Eventually, there was no argument because I looked forward to it.
1) Fitness: If a gym membership doesn’t fit your budget or you feel uncomfortable working out around others, take a walk outside when the weather permits. Consider purchasing exercise videos or games, such as the Wii Fit. Keep dumbbells, resistance bands and/or a kettle ball at home. There are also many exercises that you can find on the internet that do not require any equipment.
2) Food: Make sure you stock your kitchen with fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy snack bars, lean meats and nuts for protein, whole grains, and lower fat dairy products. I love cheese, so I keep fresh mozzarella in my home at all times! Do keep a few treats in the house, but eat them in small portions. If I’m craving something sweet, I eat a small piece of a dark chocolate bar. Get creative too. I’ve actually made sundaes out of low-sugar yogurt, a small portion of fresh berries, a dollop of whipped cream and a tablespoon of diced nuts.
3) Carry a Snack When You are Away From Home: Eat small snacks between meals to help with portion control at meals. Eating 5-6 small meals keeps your metabolism going, reduces hunger, and prevents your sugar levels from dropping. When sugar levels drop, you will feel like you are starving and typically binge eat! I make sure to carry a healthy grain bar, almonds, or piece of fruit with me whenever I’m out and about.
4) Sleep Well: When you are tired, you are more likely to eat fast food and crave too many carbohydrates. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Don’t let lack of sleep make you lose your argument.
Be Kind to Yourself
Remember that change is difficult for almost everyone. One mistake does not erase all your positive steps forward. Take one step at a time. Be prepared to win the argument by ensuring you have at your fingertips healthier foods and a plan for fitness.
My First Challenge for You!
Change your “self-talk” from demotivating to motivating. I’d love to hear what your planning for your first new conversation!
You will win your first argument! Michele