We women are so hard on ourselves. We lose our patience with our kids and call ourselves bad moms, we have a down day and say we’re depressed, we blow it on a diet and call ourselves failures.
We assign ourselves all kinds of negative personality traits that, sadly, eventually become identities.
But what if you’re none of those things?
What if the way you act and react all day had nothing to do with who you are? And what if I gave you some simple steps to take that could fix all this — steps that could help you not only transform how you see yourself but also be more successful at everything you do?
That’s exactly what I’m about to do!
So first off, it’s rare that we get to the source of problems in our lives. We’re so busy beating ourselves up for the outcomes of the problem that we can’t ever solve it.
We see the weight on our bodies and waste our time trying to diet it off, instead of figuring out how it got there. And it’s not there because you can’t stop yourself from bingeing. It’s there because you trained yourself to binge.
The tragic part of not getting to the source of the problem isn’t necessarily that we keep ourselves from solving it — it’s the emotional damage we inflict on ourselves by shaming and labeling ourselves in the process. And this destroys the very confidence you need to problem-solve and move forward.
Even worse than that, these beliefs not only prevent us from ever losing weight, they keep us stuck in life, never achieving the goals and dreams we’re capable of.
So let’s use a simple analogy to explain what’s really going on here.
Say you have a piano that’s been in your house for a while. When you sit down to play a song, what comes out is nothing like what you expect to hear. The notes are all off, and it sounds like you’re just banging random keys together. In other words, it’s out of tune.
What do you do? Well, you don’t call the piano names and say, “This piano sucks.” You don’t cry over it and wish you had a different piano. You recognize that it needs to be tuned in order for it to work — and then you simply go tune it.
So could it be that the reason you lose your patience, are short on willpower, and feel anxious or tired is because of how you tune yourself? Is it possible that the simple daily habits you have are the real reason you feel this way?
In other words, maybe you’re not fueling yourself properly — and if you did, you’d effortlessly be able to accomplish your daily tasks. And you’d find that you’re actually a completely different person than you think you are.
If you’re not fueling your body properly, it affects everything — most significantly, your thoughts. And if you can’t think clearly, you can’t see things for what they are.
So you fall prey to the inner critic who tells you that you’re a failure when you can’t stick to a diet. The critic who tells you that you’re a terrible mother because you yelled at your kids. The critic that tells you that you’re lazy for feeling tired.
If you entertain these thoughts, you’ll stay in your house for the rest of your life, thinking you don’t have what it takes to go out and train for a marathon, start a business, or learn a new language. Because there’s no way you can do all those things if you can’t even lose ten pounds, right? And then you’ll waste your life, trying over and over to lose those same ten pounds.
All you really need is a little fine-tuning. And what that consists of is getting back to the basics. It seems obvious, but we’re usually so stuck trying to eliminate entire food groups and spazzing out about over how many grams of folate are in an orange that we forget about the foundational things. So here they are:
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Stop trying “not to” eat crap food. Don’t try not to eat potato chips with your lunch. Grab a handful of blueberries to eat with your lunch. Add more of what you know you should eat, and crowd the other stuff out.
You need more nutrients for your brain to work and for your body to heal itself. Dietitians everywhere would be put out of business if everyone just shopped in the produce section. Make it your mission to overdose on fruits and vegetables.
Drink more water. You don’t even know you’re dehydrated. Feeling like you need some water means that you’ve been dehydrated for a while already. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink it.
And make it easy to drink a ton of it. Put it everywhere: on the kitchen counter, on your desk, in your shower, in your car. I keep a bottle in my purse. And drink it even when you’re not thirsty.
Improve your sleep habits. I just wrote about this in my last post and gave a ton of tips on how to establish an effective sleep routine. Quality sleep is not optional. You don’t need to necessarily sleep more — you just need to sleep better.
And don’t be a martyr. Stop listening to the voice that tells you you’re lazy for taking a nap or sleeping in every once in a while. You can’t take care of other people if you’re not taking care of yourself.
Lack of quality sleep will totally destroy positive thinking . . . or thinking clearly at all. There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a means of torture.
Stop drinking so much. You know it’s true, and I know you don’t want to talk about it. But having the habit of drinking every night will practically guarantee an out-of-tune body.
I know this from very personal experience. I used to drink a “glass” of wine every night. (Note: filling up an already oversized wine glass to the rim isn’t one glass.) That meant that on the weekends when it was time to unwind and relax after a long, hard week — that wouldn’t have been nearly so long and hard if I hadn’t had a drink every night — I had two or three. Ugh. I can’t tell you what a difference not drinking every night makes.
Drinking less isn’t just healthy for your body. Drinking daily takes a huge mental toll because it fuels the negative thoughts that keep you stuck. Then the physical and the mental combine to make things even more destructive.
When you’re not functioning on all cylinders, you’re less patient with your kids, then you feel like a bad mom, then you feel guilty, then you binge eat something to feel better, and then you don’t lose weight. And then you go out for girls’ night and commiserate about how hard life is — and then drink some more.
Don’t drink for a week and see what happens. It’s like putting on glasses and seeing every leaf on every tree. It’s like coming out of a fog and everything looks beautiful. And you’ll automatically accomplish the first three things on this list, because it’ll be easier to make healthy choices, you won’t be so dehydrated, and you’ll sleep better.
This all sounds so simple, and it is. We all know these things are true. But we don’t do them, do we?
The truth is, it’s the baby steps we take that add up to massive results. It’s not the huge leaps we take — juicing for three days, eliminating every carb, running five miles a day — that get results. Because taking huge leaps, especially multiple huge leaps all at once, isn’t sustainable long-term.
Taking small steps is what success looks like. And the transformation to becoming who you really are occurs in the taking of these small steps.
Walking on the treadmill when you don’t feel like working out is what success looks like. Ordering a side salad when you really want the fries is what success looks like. Choosing to make yourself a healthy meal when you don’t feel like cooking is what success looks like.
Cutting carbs for a week to lose five pounds isn’t what success looks like — that’s what failure looks like.
All you really need is some fine-tuning to get and feel clear. Your piano doesn’t go from covered-in-dust to Beethoven. And you never criticize it for not being able to.
You just keep playing chopsticks, over and over again — and one day you’ll wake up and find yourself in the orchestra.