You had a great week at work, the kids are doing fantastic in school, and you’ve just accomplished a special goal. How do you celebrate? You reward yourself with food.
You ate too much at dinner, and you shouldn’t have had that slice of pie. How do you reciprocate for those extra calories? You punish yourself with two hours of a type of exercise that you hate.
Do either – or both – of these scenarios sound familiar? If so, you’ve likely fallen into a common mindset, one that is responsible for the difficulty many of us experience in losing weight and staying in shape. You view food as a reward, and exercise as a punishment.
The problem with this is that both food and exercise are meant to be good for us. Healthy food provides us with nourishment, and yet we alternate between rewarding ourselves with it, and depriving ourselves of it when we don’t “deserve” a treat. Exercise keeps our bodies healthy, and really should be fun, and yet we view it as a punishment for being “bad”. These viewpoints undermine self esteem, and actually make it harder for us to lose weight and stay healthy.
On the flip side, those who treat food and exercise as modes of self care are more likely to strike a healthy balance. These are the people who sustain healthy behaviors over the long term. It’s true that “loving yourself” really does impact your overall well-being.
So how do you put an end to this harmful point of view, and change your mind to see food and exercise as tools for health and self improvement? Try these five mind-changers, and keep in mind of course that changing your perceptions won’t happen overnight.
Choose a new reward system. Make a list of non-food rewards that are soothing, relaxing, fun, exciting, or whatever feeling feels rewarding to you.
Remember times that exercise was fun, and seek to recreate those experiences. You’ll probably notice a pattern, such as particular activities or enjoying social time. Engage in exercise that you enjoy, rather than activities you hate.
Try something new. If you’re bored or unhappy with your exercise routine, create a new one! No one says you have to jog the same route three times per week for the rest of your life. Try new activities, get the family involved, ask a friend to join you, or enroll in a fun class at your gym. You might even enjoy dancing in your living room to an Xbox Kinect game!
Try new recipes. If vegetables feel like a punishment, stop eating dishes you hate. Research new recipes and experiment with new flavor combinations. Many people think they hate kale, for example, but find that they love it in a salad with a yummy dressing, roasted beets, crumbled goat cheese, and a few candied nuts. As you try new dishes, focus on the nutritional content and how good it is for your body.
Ask yourself why. When you’re tempted to indulge in a treat, ask yourself why you’re about to eat it. Remind yourself that you like this food because it tastes good, not because you “deserve” it or you’ve had a hard day. This step will require repetition over time, before your mindset changes.
As always ,give us a call if you need advice on nutrition or medical weight loss. We’re here to help you overcome your challenges, and live a healthier, more fulfilling life!