You don’t go to the gym because you feel self conscious. You don’t bring a salad for lunch because you don’t want people asking if you are on a diet. You don’t share you weight loss goals with your friends in case you fail at it again.
Many of the strategies that we know work for losing weight involve to some extent opening yourself up to criticism or judgement, at least it feels that way doesn’t it?
What if there was a way to change your thinking, so that what others thought about you no longer stood in the way of you doing what you needed to, in order to make healthy changes and live the life you want to be living.
1: Decide on the opinions that actually matter to you
Maybe it’s your partner, your kids, your best friends. The people you love and who support you. Please note here- just because someone is in your life on a regular basis does not mean that their opinion needs to affect you.
Maybe you have a very judgemental, opinionated, or negative family member, friend, or co-worker. Recognise that if they are going to look at any aspect of you wanting to improve your health, fitness, and self confidence and judge you negatively… chances are that is more about them than it is about you.
People can project their own insecurities onto you, they can belittle you to make themselves feel better if they themselves are unhappy, they can be jealous that you are taking action where they feel they can’t, or they could be just be insensitive and not realising the effect they are having on you.
Whatever their reasons, if they are not supportive and encouraging, it will very rarely be because what you are doing deserves that kind of judgement. When you realise that people do the best that they can with the tools that they have for going through life, you can understand that maybe this person doesn’t have the capacity to think outside the box, they don’t know any other way to feel better about themselves than putting down others, or maybe they have adapted aggressive behaviour patterns as a result of a difficult childhood.
Have you ever snapped at someone when you were stressed or having a bad day? Was it really about what that person did, or was in more about the state of mind you were in?
Separate yourself from this. Stop taking it personally. Remind yourself who the people are in your life that matter to you, and anyone else can act however they like or say whatever they like and you can let that bounce right off you, knowing where your priorities are and who your trusted inner circle are.
2: Take baby steps
Say someone has a phobia of snakes. In psychology speak, the way to overcome a phobia is through exposure therapy. First you might ask them to imagine seeing a snake far away in the distance behind a glass screen. Then you might ask them to look at a picture of a snake. The next step may be to actually visit a reptile park where they can be in the room next to a snake but not see it.
They then work towards being in the same room as the snake for thirty seconds. Maybe they stand nearby while someone handles the snake, and eventually they get to the point where they can hold the snake themselves (a non-venomous type of course).
Notice here that each time they take a step towards the end goal, that they have time to get used to the progression, realise that they are safe and the world didn’t end, and the fear of the unknown is reduced to manageable levels. The more often they are exposed to the thing they fear, the less fear they experience over time.
In the same way, you can approach your weight loss in this way. Maybe you start out going for a walk up and down your street early in the morning when not too many people are around, and once you are comfortable with this, you could make baby steps over time towards your ultimate end goal, of being able to take that group dancing class that has always looked like so much fun for example.
3: Get really clear on your reasons
If your reasons for getting healthy are so compelling, the repercussions of not getting healthy are so dire, and you accumulate enough evidence to back up your reasons… what people think is just not going to matter.
Say you have a family history of heart attacks. You know that statistically, if you are overweight you have a much higher chance of having a heart attack. You have a family that needs you, and children you want to see grow up, and not only that- you want to enjoy your life, not be in and out of hospitals and a burden on your family.
If you knew that your life depended on you making healthy changes, would the possibility of someone yelling something out a car window, someone thinking something negative about you, or saying some kind of snarky comment really be enough to stop you doing what you needed to do?
Whatever your situation if you want to lose weight you can start to tell yourself a new story. That not making healthy changes will mean (insert your worst case scenario here), and that making healthy changes will mean (insert something essential for you), and that you know this is true because of (insert evidence here).
Instead of losing weight being a nice but non-essential dream, suddenly it becomes an absolute necessity. And when your reasons are this rock solid, good luck to anyone who tries to change your course of action with negativity or pessimism.