How Words Can Kill Your Progress


Amazing, how much the power that one little word has, isn’t it? It makes me cringe. It makes me think of other words, too. Words like eliminate. Deprived. Thoughts like I can’t eat that. I have to be good.

Do any of these words make you feel happy? They certainly don’t make me feel very good, or hopeful, or excited about making a change. Especially the words I have to be good. Because thinking that we have to be good implies that we have somehow been bad.

Before I started my weight loss journey, all my days were graded. I was good or I was bad. I found myself saying things like, “I was so bad yesterday. I had ice cream. Now I have to be good.” It was a dangerous way of thinking. I would indulge, then feel horribly guilty and reprimand myself for it with negative thoughts and deprivation. I would starve myself the next day as punishment, eating only salad and feeling pretty miserable. I was treating myself “badly” for doing something I perceived as “bad.” (By the way, I found out later that what I was doing actually was making me gain more weight. By binging on high calorie food and then eating practically nothing, my body would freak out and go into starvation mode, locking down tight on those fat cells because it was worried it won’t be getting real food again anytime soon.)

It wasn’t until I started tracking what I was eating that I realized there was nothing “good” about what I was doing. Nothing about being on a diet, about depriving myself, about being restricted and unhappy made me feel good.

The words started to kill my progress. Telling myself that I was on a diet, that I was going to be good now, was just a way of beating myself up, trying to make myself fall in line. But once I started tracking what I was eating, first through Weight Watchers and then again through MyFitnessPal, it eliminated the guilt. It eliminated any emotion associated with my food choices, any associations with good or bad. This is where the idea of treating your body like you treat your wallet came into play for me. Once I had a certain number of points or calories I could eat each day, the question became not whether I was going to be good or bad, but could I afford this piece of cake, or this order of fries. Was it worth it to me to waste the calories I could eat each day on something like that? Would it keep me full so that I wasn’t hungry again two hours later? Did I have time to get to the gym to work an equal number of calories or points off? Once I did that, my food choices didn’t have power over me anymore. I wasn’t making myself miserable for the indulgences I chose. My treats became choices, not cheats, and the words good and bad didn’t apply to me anymore.

We have to remove negative words like diet, good and bad from our way of thinking. Being good to yourself is the right way to look at it. If you view your weight loss process as a lifestyle change that will make you healthier and happier, then no food or word will have power over you. Are you using words that are killing your progress? If so, what words can you use instead to boost you along?

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