Note: Learn more about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program here or at www.amihungry.com.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to be critical of yourself? Especially in relation to weight and exercise? We have all these ideas about what we’re “supposed” to do and how we “should” be. Never mind that whoever defines these rules doesn’t know us or anything about our lives – we still feel we need to live up to them. I don’t know about you, but personally I find it very hard to stay motivated based on someone else’s goals for me. I feel judged, and often angry, frustrated, guilty, or rebellious when that external authority decides I don’t live up to the expectations. It actually de-motivates me; if I’m not going to be good enough no matter what I do, why bother trying? Perhaps this is why those of us in my most recent Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating workshop have or have had negative feelings about exercise, the word “hate” slipping out more than once. Yet we all agreed that we felt better after exercising: more energized, relaxed, focused, and cheerful. Still, somehow that doesn’t make it any easier to do. It takes time, after all, when our lives are already sometimes almost frantic. It’s also hard to do, and can be uncomfortable, especially at the beginning, when your body isn’t used to it. How much more difficult, then, if you’re doing it to fulfill someone else’s aspirations? Imagine this. Don’t tell yourself that you will exercise because you read an article saying you should work out x times per week, or because you want to get down to the weight you’re “supposed” to be. Instead, say, “I want to exercise because it makes me feel good. I like the person I am when I take care of myself.” Or perhaps, like a woman in my class, you may avoid the word “exercise” and tell yourself, “I love moving.” Set goals for yourself, but let them be your goals, that are realistic for you. Tell yourself, “I am worth making myself and my health a priority.” You may find that everything shifts. You may no longer view exercise as something painful or bad or a means to an end, instead loving it because it is part of your self-care, acknowledging that you deserve to feel good. You may find that you are happier, treating yourself with the appreciation and compassion you show to others that you love. Just remind yourself you’re worth that – because you are.