Fear and (Self) Loathing

Mondays tend to bring about all sorts of loathing and lamenting.  Did I really need to have all those chips? That extra margarita? Why didn’t I exercise? This work week is going to suck. Maybe I’ll just have a giant muffin with some bacon for breakfast because I already blew my diet and it it’s hopeless.  This thought pattern of fear and self-loathing might actually be more detrimental to long term health than the chips or margaritas.

A friend once told me a phrase that stuck with me: “Our greatest fear is realizing our full potential.”  I found that to be true in many respects and it particularly rings true when trying to make lifestyle changes. I’ve spent countless hours across a desk from people talking about their struggles with health or weight, and 9 times out of 10 it has nothing to do with food.  C’mon, let’s face it- you didn’t eat a gallon of ice cream in one sitting because you were hungry.  There’s often some underlying issue at play and food is just a weapon of mass (self) destruction.  Sadly, it often stems from our own negative thoughts.

I’ve found, through my clients and my own struggles, that we have a vast tendency to fall into deep health despair and hate ourselves.  Hate ourselves for not losing weight, hate ourselves for doing nothing to change our situation, and hate ourselves for well, hating ourselves.  Yet sadly, this is how those 5 extra pounds turn into 10, 10 into 20, and so on.  We start to think: “I’ll never lose this weight, so I might as well have another 5 pieces of cake.” So the cycle begins.

What is it that we are so afraid of? Afraid of doing something that makes us feel better and can bring immediate better health? Fear of reaching our full potential? What exactly is our potential? Self-loathing can certainly provide a protective blanket, but one that warms us straight into complacency.  The irony is that the best way to shake off the loathing is to immediately do something healthy so we don’t slippery slope ourselves into extra 30 pounds and the body of an 80 year old.

I won’t say I have all the answers as I’m still learning myself, but here are a few tips for kicking out Larry the Loather:

  • Don’t wait until ‘Monday’ to make changes.  Start right now
  • Make small tradeoffs for your favorite things: If you can stay up and drink, you can get up and exercise.  Want the whole enchilada? Hold the guac and the sour cream.  Have 1 scoop of ice cream in a cup, not 3 in a waffle cone
  • Stop those negative thoughts in their tracks: Don’t let them fester! You ARE better than that!
  • Assess what is important to you and what your goals are, then keep your eye on the prize
  • Phone a friend: Sometimes you need an ally
  • Know that you deserve to feel the best you can
  • Start small: Take baby steps, and acknowledging those small victories daily will keep the fear at bay
  • An apple a day keeps the loathing away: Eat more fruits and vegetables, they will instantly make you feel better and like you accomplished something
  • Move your body: Sweat can wash away even the most heinous food/beverage debaucheries
  • Accept that Life is crazy: You can’t predict or prepare for what life throws at you, but you can adjust your attitude to those changes.  Don’t wait until your child starts preschool, your husband’s job changes, or you get a promotion.  Work your new lifestyle changes into your life and stop expecting life to provide you with the time or the motivation because it ain’t gonna happen.  You’ve got to do it for yourself.
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