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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Anne M. Rensberger, LICSW
Your Secret Weight Critic

Your Secret Weight Critic

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?

Why are we self-critical? Usually we learn it at home, or at school, or from the media. Were your parents or a significant adult preoccupied with weight or appearance? Did you never quite live up to their expectations of being model size? Were you chastised for your eating?

As a child when we are criticized about a specific thing, we sometimes interpret the criticism so that it is about our entire character. Your mother might say, “You eat too much, no seconds,” but you experience it as, “Mom doesn't love me because I am fat.”

Adults may have projected 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 of course 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? Notice when and what you tell yourself. Catch yourself when you say, “You weakling, you ate dessert when you went out to dinner.” or “You are hopeless, you 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. No matter what your age, think of an older wiser you, and whisper to yourself helpful, not critical, information. Change the negative self-talk to something kind and loving. 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 can lose weight but the last thing you need is your internal critic dissing you along the path. 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.

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