Are you a ‘look-and-lose’ dieter? Have you studied every diet ever created, read a zillion diet books, and yet are still unhappy with your weight?
Do you look at yourself and say, “I’m fat”, or “My hips are too big”? Many of us look in the mirror and immediately compare ourselves to those ‘perfect’ human specimens we see every single day on TV, in magazines and in the newspapers.
Often we talk to ourself and make excuses, “It’s my genes”, “I’m much too busy to get fit”, “I like myself this”, as a way of protecting yourself from the way we see ourselves now and the way we want to be.
If we were to be truly honest with ourselves most people actually want to lose a few pounds – if we only knew how. >
For many people, the quest of finding the holy grail of dieting may become a substitute for actually making changes required to take the ill health out of your current diet. I know this was me. It wasn’t until I stopped and took stock of the way I thought about myself, my body and what it was I was trying to achieve that I realised, it wasn’t a particular diet I needed. Rather, I needed a new way of thinking.
The good news is you CAN achieve your desired body shape with the right thinking about yourself, an understanding of how to get optimal nutrition, healthy eating habits and how to incorporate activity into your lifestyle to keep your muscles toned.
But most important of all, you need a regular mental workout to keep your self-image in shape.
Self-image is closely connected to the success or failure of any goal you choose to seek after, but none more so that the goal to get yourself fit and healthy.
So how do you go about strengthening your self-image? Well fortunately your self-image, just like your muscles, will respond well to a regular work out. You can actually strengthen your self-image with a few daily exercises.
Exercise One – Self Examination
Start by compiling a list of all those negative thoughts your have about yourself…I’m undisciplined, I can’t manage my time, I let people down, I can’t succeed, I don’t exercise enough. You will need to decide before you start this process that you won’t get discouraged….these are things that you will admit to yourself but they most certainly don’t have to control your life.
Next, compile a second list including everything you LIKE about yourself. Keep going until this list is LONGER than the first list you compiled. You might include things such as, I am a good cook, I can make people laugh, I contribute to the soccer club, my daughter loves the way I decorate her room.
Then, take your ‘negatives’ list and turn it into your ‘potentials’ list. You do this by creating a positive self-image to every ‘negative’ you listed. Instead of “I can’t succeed”, write a counter belief, “I will succeed”.
Ceremonially throw out the ‘negatives’ list – you are saying goodbye forever! Burn them, trash them, destroy them….they are no longer going to be a part of your thinking about yourself.
Now, keep your list of potentials in a prominent place. On your refrigerator door, in your daily journal, or in a picture frame on your desk. Make sure you have them in front on your every single day so that you are reading them constantly and reprogramming your daily thoughts.
Exercise Two: You Can Be What You Want to Be
Now that you have your list of potentials… run your own visualisation stories so that you can ‘see’ yourself in a new light. For example, if your list of potential includes “I eat just the right portions”, visualise yourself with a moderate portion on your plate, and feeling completely satisfied at the conclusion of your meal.
Read through your list of potentials every day taking a few moments of personal quiet time to reflect strongly on your visualisations. Try starting your day first thing in the morning and finishing as the last thing at night with visualising yourself being the person on your list, and doing the things you want to do.
Exercise Three: Keep a Journal of Your Daily Successes
Keep a record of all the positive changes in thoughts you have about yourself. We all have triumphs and ‘failures’. You must record and remind yourself of the positive changes because our human nature will replay the negatives – sometimes blowing them out of proportion. It’s important to nurture and celebrate the small steps you make every day.
Exercise Four: Go Easy On Yourself – You Are Beautiful Work In Progress
Don’t listen to the criticism…not your own nor that of others! Remember you are the designer of your self-esteem, do not hand this over to other people. You are way too important to give this away. Protect your role as creator of your own self-image and do not, take on board negative criticisms. We all make mistakes, and mistakes can be used to help us learn. Do not criticise yourself for being human and making a mistake. The only last mistake in the one from which we never learn to grow.
Exercise Five: Forget About The Past
The only moment you can live is the current one. You can’t live in the future and you most certainly shouldn’t live in the past….the challenge is to take charge of our thinking so that we think in the same time zone in which we live!
For example we may be tempted to think about yesterday’s failures…”If only I hadn’t eaten second helpings”, “If only I didn’t reach for the chocolate cookies”. If we concentrate on the mistakes of yesterday this will our brains to replay our failures and reinforce them to us.
Yesterday is over, today is where you live….make sure that today you do NOT replay yesterday’s failures and make your resolve to change TODAY.
Exercise Six: Resolve to Change Today
Just as you shouldn’t live in the past, you can’t live in the future. You can only live or change today. The oldest cliché in the world is perhaps one of the greatest truisms of all…’tomorrow NEVER comes!’
There is no better time than now. So, no matter what excuses you may have to wait to take those healthy steps you know you should take, none of them are valid. Do it now, do it today. Resolve to make a different in your own life before you go to sleep tonight.
Exercise Seven: Write a Plan For your Life
This is your success plan. If you have not already done so it is time for you to create direction and purpose in your plans for yourself. Review your list of potentials and record next to each potential when you want to achieve this by.
Exercise Eight: Carry Affirmation Cards About Yourself
This is one of the fastest tools for your success. You are what you think. Strengthen your self-image every day by reviewing your thoughts. One of the easiest ways to do this is to carry affirmation cards in your wallet and review regularly. Affirmation cards are short bursts of words in business card that prompt and remind your self-image of your intentions. An example might be:
I can achieve anything that I put my mind to.
I will be satisfied with single helpings.
Try it, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Exercise Nine: Change Your Eating Habits
Now that you have set the groundwork in place, you are now ready to change your physical habits. You are ready to add a balanced nutritious diet, healthy eating habits, regular exercise and relaxation.
By using these nine exercises daily to change your thinking habits, you will be strengthening your self esteem and unlocking your internal power to make a change in your life. Before you can change lifelong eating habits, you must first change life long thinking habits. We are what we think. We can’t be something other than what we believe we can be!
So, do yourself a favour, liberate your self-image and then, see how much more effective your healthy living plan becomes!