Last week we discussed the biggest lies that you'll tell yourself before starting a new diet plan, and the reality check required to begin your journey on the right (and successful!) foot. But the mental struggle doesn't stop there. Many of us start out on our journey fully prepared for the fact that we have some major changes to do, one habit at a time, and that we need to give ourselves enough time for these changes to take affect. But as we head deeper into that journey, a whole new set of lies erupt. We began to question everything that we stood so firm on in the beginning — often start searching for shortcuts and detours — leading to shiny diet syndrome.
Whether you're a vet, or just getting started down this scary, awesome, life-changing, fulfilling, and totally nerve-wrecking path, the mental journey is the same. At some point in your walk, you'll find that inevitably, certain thoughts creep in. Resist the urge to give in to the lies, which ultimately leads to giving up, by arming yourself with truth.
LIE: It shouldn't be this hard.
TRUTH: This is a setup for failure.
Telling yourself this lie means that the second it does get hard – you stop trying, and look for something easier (read: quick fix). Since quick-fixes probably lead you to where you were when you started down this path (read: spinning wheels), you already know that easy isn't worth it. When you're trying to hit any goal, there is going to be work involved. While you want to make sure that your diet has you written all over it, and that it's easiER than the unrealistic thing that you quit doing – don't fall for the lure of thinking that achieving your goals should in some way be effortless. Take the steps to make it as effortless as possible, but give yourself realistic time frames and expectations for achieving your goals.
LIE: It's easier for others
TRUTH: It's not.
At some point in the journey, you're going to look around and play the woe is me card (see below). Along with this comes the belief of all martyrs…that “everyone else” is seeing progress faster than — or accomplishing what you want — with much less effort than you.
This plays right into the “it shouldn't be this hard” mentality, and trust that believing either lie will get you nowhere. Social (and traditional forms of ) media can make ANYthing appear to have happened overnight, or with little effort. Most of us aren't sitting around capturing our “bad” days on film for all the world to see. But when we have success, we want to share it with the world. Don't get so caught up in the pics that you tell yourself that you're the ONLY one that success takes time for. And remember that one day, YOUR picture will be the one that is tempting someone else to think the very same thing.
LIE: No one has my circumstances (aka “woe is me”)
TRUTH: Somewhere, someone with your EXACT circumstances is killing it.
“Woe is me,” is not helping you. In fact, once you even start entertaining this thought, you take your eyes off of your own goal. Telling yourself that everyone one other than you has perfect circumstances, will have you spinning your wheels in jealousy, rather than progressively taking steps forward. Let's be honest, there's nothing like good ol' discouragement and hopelessness to cause you to give up on your journey (or never start in the first place).
Even if you have unique circumstances, few of us are that special that NO one in the whole earth deals with the same set of circumstances. Somewhere, someone is dealing with the exact same circumstance as you, and winning (even if its a version of winning that you haven't imagined). I have dealt with health problems my entire life. As easy as it would be to throw my hands up in the air because some random person that I “know” on Instagram is seeing progress faster than I am, I double tap (or unfollow, if it bugs me that much), and keep it moving.
Keeping it real…it sucks. And yes, I may have to make more adjustments, or push harder/rest more, etc., than “everyone else” – but it's not an excuse to quit. And I am NOT a special snowflake.
Work with what ya got. Find peeps that motivate you because they fought for what they have. Kill it in a way that only you can.
LIE: It wasn't this hard before
TRUTH: Avoid over-romanticizing your old ways, and see them for what they really were
Before…what? Were the circumstances different then? Was it hard under the circumstances? If not…could the lack of effort required/lessons learned be the reason why you weren't able to sustain the “success?” Or could the fact that before is referring to several diets ago be the reason that it's so hard now? Excessive dieting primes your body for fat gain, a lowered metabolism, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid issues (to name a few!). So if this is your 10th diet, expect it to be harder than the first. It may not seem fair…but then again, neither is the unnecessary damage that most of us got away with for years before our bodies finally said “enough!” So if your body is finally calling your bluff, it's time to pay the piper and put in the work that should have been put in all those not-so-hard times around the block.
Also ask yourself if you're looking back through rose-colored lenses, and not remembering certain things that happened before. Many of us decide to tackle this new lifestyle starved, with no energy, foggy brain, brittle hair/nails, constantly freezing, and gaining weight like it's going out of style (WHILE. ON. A. DIET.), among other things. But oh how quickly we lay that version of “before” aside the second that we hear about our cousins-sisters-baby mama who's just lost 100 pounds on the latest “eat-all-the-celery you-want” diet.
Whenever tempted to think about how easy things used to be, remind yourself that the easier road didn't fix the problem (hence the current predicament) — and don't over-romanticize.
LIE: It's taking too long
TRUTH: Paying our debts is individual. Progress is a result of physical AND mental health.
How long did it take you to get where you are now? Are you (unrealistically) expecting it to take only a fraction of the time to get out of it? If you dig a hole of debt, it's not easily undone. Many of us are so indebted to our bodies for all that they've brought us through, and under the most harsh circumstances at that. Why do we jump into a journey of healing, or decision of better self-care, and then get upset at our bodies for not “snapping out of it” quick enough?
Imagine a person treating you with the same disrespect, followed by impatience/annoyance at your inability to just go back to the way things were. In their mind, enough time has passed, that you should be “over it” and trust them again. Some nerve! You know, that even if you choose to forgive them, trust is earned…not given. And the more times they've walked all over you, the longer you'll have your guard up.
Why do we fail to see that our body is the party that has been wronged in this trial? We must give our body the respect that it needs, and the individual timeline that it requires to trust us again. The time will pass anyway, so don't lose focus (or kill the trust factor…again) by chasing down quick-fixes.
What you learn about yourself in the process, is usually more important than the actual final result. Are you impatient? Waiting on perfection? Fostering feelings of self-hatred? Looking for outward things to solve an internal problem? Use the time that you're waiting, to deal with things that focusing on weight loss may be over-shadowing (perhaps purposely). Face who you really are, under the skin, muscle, fat, and bones…and make sure she's someone you actually like when it's all said and done.
Because who you are, follows you wherever you go.