What is negative self-talk doing to your weight management? What conversations are you having in your head? Would you want someone else to hear them? Do they contain negative thoughts, criticisms, judgments, anger, or disrespect? What specifically do you criticize about your weight management? How often?
We learn self-criticism at home, at school, and from the media. Were your parents preoccupied with weight or appearance? Were you chastised for your eating? As a child when we are criticized about a specific thing, we assume it is about our entire character. Mom might say, “You eat too much, no seconds,” but you experience it as, “Mom doesn't love me because I am fat.” Adults can project their own anxieties onto you, but as children we assume we are “bad,” not them. As an adult you replay these old tapes, expecting perfection from yourself, which is impossible. Now that you have taken over their role as Criticizer-in-Chief your self-talk can be vicious and counter productive.
So how do you change? Monitor your thoughts. Catch yourself when you say, “You weakling, you ate dessert when you went out to dinner, you are hopeless and will always be fat.” Rephrase what you say to yourself. Say what you wished your parents had said to you. “It is hard to resist dessert all the time when everyone else is having some,” or “our whole family has struggled with weight so I know losing it isn't easy.”
This is a life-long process. In a related article, Martha Beck suggested when you walk into a room pretend that everyone loves you, but may not yet realize it. Our wary defenses are often off-putting to others. By acting as though people love you opens you up not only to others but also to yourself. No matter what your age, think of an older, wiser you whispering helpful information. Instead of saying, “I always fail at dieting” say, “I can eat small meals and healthy snacks and will lose weight sensibly.” Instead of, “I screwed up again,” say, “I am a person with tenacity and perseverance and can profit from my mistakes.”
You probably have a genetic or other predisposition to be heavy, making weight loss a challenge. You can lose weight but the last thing you need is your internal critic derailing you along the path. Quiet your mind. You are not just a weight on the scale. The truth is you are a human being, with strengths and weaknesses like everyone else.
Notice. Pause. Breath. Reframe. Practice.