The other week I received an email from a 34-year-old woman struggling with her weight. It had been a lifelong issue, she said, so she had decided that enough was enough. It was time for an overhaul: lifestyle, diet, exercise, the lot. My heart went out to her.
I told her that the first thing that had to go was the identifying part of her email address: bigfatgirl77. I explained that as long as she thought herself to be a big fat girl, she was never likely to be anything else apart from big and fat - which, I hasten to add, I don't have an issue with. My philosophy is that we can be and should be whoever we want to be, and we should not feel bound to live our lives according to someone else's expectations. We only get one swing at it, after all.
But this woman was unhappy and ready for profound change. She didn't realise that the negative talk she had surrounded herself with was holding her back.
It's something I hear a lot, sometimes disguised in humour. You know the kind of thing: "Look out girls, big mamma's coming through!" and "I might be big, but there's more of me to love!"
Check out the dialogue of successful sports personalities or other high-achievers: it's dripping with self-belief and positive language. There's no self-deprecation, just gritty optimism, and not a hint of self-doubt or flaccid aspiration. I'm not talking about cutting-and-pasting the kind of over-the-top language commonly used by motivational speakers into your everyday dialogue. I'm talking about reflecting upon what you habitually say to others, and thereby what you habitually tell yourself, about weight loss, career, relationships, achievements - anything, really.
In the context of weight loss, I have to say I'm not a big fan of the word "hope", either. I don't understand it when people say, "I hope I'm down to 75 kilograms by Christmas". How will hoping for weight loss to happen make it happen? Taking active steps to make something happen not only means that it probably will happen, it also puts us in the driver's seat to take back control of the issue - and our lives.
We should never underestimate the power of language. In the same way that negative language quickly degenerates into limiting our self-beliefs, positive language strengthens our resolve to achieve what it is that we want.
There can be no better example of that than our own bodies, and the way we think about them. Subject your body to positive influences - exercise and a healthy diet and lifestyle - and it will respond positively; subject your body to negative influences, and of course it will respond in kind. But the first stop is always our minds: the way we think, and what we tell ourselves, is critical for a positive outcome.
Listen to the words that you use in conversation, and restrict the ones that don't support you. For me, "try", "can't" and "hope" have long been relegated to the rubbish bin, along with any self-denigrating comments.
-Sydney Morning Herald
Do you believe eating superfoods makes you healthier?Related story: (See story)