One nasty habit that’s sabotaging your diet and health journey.
Everyone’s weight loss path is different, but chances are you’re doing this one simple thing that’s sabotaging your diet and healthy journey. All of the failed attempts, self-loathing, cheating, losses and gains can be avoided by insisting on one rule:
Absolutely no lying to yourself.
Maintain mandatory 100 percent honesty in all things, and you’ll finally succeed. I did.
The First Offense
I used to be a ballet dancer. When I was 21, I had a killer body, shapely legs, a strong back and lean proportions. I wasn’t skinny, but I was fit and strong. I could eat heartily because I was young, and I exercised constantly. At the time, though, I thought I was huge. And thus began the habit of lying to myself. I refused to see what was—my healthy, fit and strong body. I believed I was chunky. I looked longingly at model-thin girls and wished for a perfectly flat tummy, hiding behind clothes that were too big for me, and wasting my youth in needless self-hatred.
The Slow Gain
After college, I gave up dance for corporate life. Twelve hours a day at a desk and hastily eating calorie-packed to-go food over my keyboard with no exercise added 20 pounds to my frame in a slow but steady incline. Pants wouldn’t close, and I couldn’t move in my blazers—so the sizes went up and up. As did my cholesterol and risk factors, with my body feeling the toll of years of eating dishonestly. And so I lied again, pretending the changes weren’t happening, believing food to be a reward for my hard work, blaming my job for leaving me no time to work out and feeling shocked to find by the end of my twenties that I was seriously overweight.
Diets, workouts, trainers, yoga, failed attempts at becoming a runner—they all collapsed because I lied to myself every single time. I wasn’t honest about what I was eating, how much exercise I was doing, what my body really looked like, what my health needed. If no one saw me eat it, it didn’t happen. I would eat salad and rice cakes in front of the world, but gorge on salt and carbs behind closed doors. This didn’t fool anyone. The weight wasn’t coming off because I wasn’t actually dieting at all. No matter how many fresh juices I drank in public, or gyms I joined by didn’t attend, if the weight didn’t change, everyone but me knew I was a sham.
It Works If You Work It
By the time I hit 30, I was 30 pounds overweight. I was unhappy and immensely self-conscious. I was addicted to food for the momentary high it provided, but of course felt worse afterward. But then, I had a wedding to prepare for. I successfully lost 20 pounds, and it took four months and complete and total honesty. I made a pact with myself to be completely truthful about everything I did and felt. No excuses, no sneaking, no closet eating, no cheating on workouts. It worked. I did it. But right after the wedding, I got cocky and began lying to myself again as the weight crept back on. Back to square one.
The thing is, if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Lying to your conscience is pretty egregious, and I’m a pro at it. So here I am at 36, after years of ups and downs, making a promise to myself: No more lies. No more excuses for bad behavior. If I screw up, I have to own it. If I feel like giving up or cheating, I can’t hide from it. I have to admit it—to myself. Even if no one else is around to call me out, I am my own witness. Diet buddies and communities are awesome and super helpful, but I have to be accountable to myself first and last. It’s me who internalizes the guilt, shame and ultimate failure when I lie, so I really owe it to myself to stop the charade.
Freedom from Self-Sabotage
None of this is easy. Nothing worth it ever is, but being honest with myself is the only way to keep progressing. And when I do this, when I don’t allow my own special brand of self-sabotaging bullsh*t to take over, suddenly I’m free. I like myself more because I finally trust this girl. I finally believe in her. And caring about myself translates into wanting to do the best for me. I want to take care of this body, this mind and this heart—and it feels immensely better to be liberated from the lies.
So, set yourself free from self-deceit. Stop lying and start living. It’s pretty amazing.
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Author: Jennifer Gunn
Editor: Travis May
Image: Flickr/Eric May