Weight Loss Journey 2: Quieting the Negative Voice

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Oh, the past several weeks have been quite challenging.  Regarding healthy habits, I’ve been struggling.  A few weeks back I was nearly obsessed with the numbers on the scale.  I stepped on it multiple times per day, mentally cataloging the amount of food and water I was ingesting to try to cheat myself into losing weight.  It’s like I kept trying to will the numbers to go down, like if I wanted it bad enough in my mind the numbers would change without any action on my part.

Of course, it doesn’t work that way.

My eating habits have been horrible.  I’ve been doing a lot of emotional eating.  And hormonal eating.  And “oh just one more bite, you’ll do better tomorrow” eating.

I feel like I’ve lost control.

And on top of that, the worst thing is that my self-talk has been horribly negative.  The voice in my head has been telling me I was fat, lazy, disgusting, worthless, etc., etc., etc.

…which has led to more emotional eating.  And isolation.  Like I’ve lost a good friend, someone who has always cheered me on and been on my side.

It’s been a downward spiral, guys.

But this evening, I was making my to-do list for the things I want to accomplish over the weekend and as always I added exercise to the list.  The voice in my mind told me I wouldn’t accomplish that particular item.  I probably should have told her to shut up but instead I just ignored her and continued to move forward, which was better than nothing.

I reset my mind, from, “let’s have an ice cream bar-you’re gross” mode to, “what can I do right now to feel better about my body?  So I set a cut off for the evening, no more food for the rest of the night (don’t worry, I ate dinner, I promise I didn’t starve myself), grabbed a bottle of water, and pulled up Zumba on my computer.

Just a little background–I used to be a Zumba instructor.  Maybe I still am, I don’t know if you ever stop being one, but regardless I no longer teach classes.  However, I still get the music and the choreography monthly, even though I haven’t looked at it in ages, and emails from the Zumba network.  Today I noticed an email from awhile back that tonight the Zumba crew is streaming live from the annual conference for instructors, which means I could be dancing with them from the comfort of my own home!  Coincidentally the time I decided to shake it and sweat was only about a half hour before the event–score!  I pulled out my computer and got myself ready.

I love to dance. I can’t even begin to tell you.  I forget how much I love it, sometimes, until I decide to do it and then I get lost in the music and my heart reminds me.  My brain shuts out everything else (what a relief!) and all I think about is the beat and the movement of my body and how free I feel.   Tonight I recaptured that feeling, and remembered how much I missed dancing.  It felt so good to care for my body, relieve some stress, and be reminded of something I love.

Not to mention, the endorphins from exercise are an incredibly beautiful thing.  The negative girl has completely left me for the evening (hopefully longer), and I got a visit from the inner positive girl who used to hang around a lot more.  She told me I was doing awesome and hung around for awhile, like a supportive friend cheering me on from the sidelines.  She reminded me that she’s always there, but sometimes I might have to seek her out a bit for her voice to be louder than the negative one that’s been lurking about.

Suffice it to say, I’m feeling great at the moment and I want to remember this feeling when–no, if– I make excuses for not exercising, and when–no, if–I’m beating myself up for not choosing a healthy option right away.

Looking back at what I’ve shared with you above, I made a lot of good little decisions that added up.  Let’s recap, shall we?  There may have been a lot of things I’ve been doing “wrong” lately, but I can’t keep dwelling on those things or I’ll be paralyzed and unable to move forward.  It’s time to spend some thought on the positive instead of the negative.  It’s time for a cheerful focus! 😉

These are the things that pushed me in the right direction:

1. Made a list of things to accomplish this weekend

I’ve been doing this the past few weekends and it’s been really helpful.  For one thing, putting things in writing seems to solidify my commitment to completing them.   For one thing, when–no, if– the negative voice starts to tell me I’m lazy I can interrupt her with, “No I’m not, look at all these things I crossed off my list this weekend!”.

2.  Drank water

We all know water is good for us and most of us don’t get enough.  I finished the bottle and I’m working on another. Enough said.

3.  Ignored negative self-talk

It can be really hard to combat negative thoughts sometimes.  Ignoring them is good.  Actively fighting against them is better, but of course this takes more energy.  A therapist friend of  mine has told me if she sees a client in a negative thought spiral she’ll tell them to flick their wrist, or snap a rubberband on their wrist, to disrupt the chain.  I’ve done that a couple of times, and it does help to remind me I can choose to let the thought chain continue, or not.  Sometimes I forget that I have as much control as I do.  Another thing that has helped me is to change course completely and start naming the things I’m thankful for: my husband and family, a stable job, strong friendships, my health, freedom in America, my cute little dog, our beautiful home, warm and cheerful sunshine, the scent of a flower, catching a green light, etc., etc., etc.

(*Note:  If you’re struggling with a mental health issue, please get help.  You are not weak or inadequate if you can’t simply “turn off” negative thoughts; it’s much more complicated than that.  Also, it can be difficult to explain that to others if they haven’t experienced it first hand.  You can’t just will yourself into feeling better if you’re experiencing a chemical imbalance or a depressive episode, and I absolutely do not intend to minimize serious mental health issues.  Please reach out if you need help.  You are not alone.)

4.  Exercised

Exercise is good for the body, mind, and soul.  There’s tons out there on the benefits of exercise so I won’t get into that here.  For me, exercising tonight gave me  a feeling of accomplishment, reduced the guilt I’ve been carrying around about not working out more, reduced stress, increased positive and hopeful thoughts, and helped me to feel good about my body.

5.  Wrote about my experience.

Tomorrow I may not remember how glad I am that I made all these decisions today.  Writing is therapeutic for me, so I’m glad I wrote it all down and I can refer back to it and hopefully I will recapture this feeling.  I hope that someone reading this will benefit from my experience today!

If you are struggling, like I have been, hang in there dear friend.  You are destined for great things and if you’re like me, sometimes you just have to get out of your own way.  If today wasn’t great, remember that tomorrow is a new day full of promise and opportunity!  And if today was great, awesome!  Have another great day again tomorrow!

About bridget

I was born and raised in upstate New York, where my parents still live, before escaping the cold weather to settle in North Carolina in 2008.
I am a Gemini, a middle child, a dreamer, a lover, an optimist, and a Social Worker. I have a cheesy sense of humor, a belief that all people are basically good, and a desire to improve the world around me.
I live in NC with my husband and our dog.

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