This topic is particularly relevant in the new year when many people are giving their lifestyle an overhaul. I have seen plenty of people working hard, keeping their heads up and moving forward … and I’ve seen a few Debbie Downers who are drudging through the process :) I understand both attitudes. I do. But in this post, I will argue that the latter one ultimately leads to failure and misery.
So, are you a “dieting martyr?” I certainly used to be…
I remember when I did my very first competition prep in 2006. For someone who had NEVER thought twice about what they put in their mouth (my college friends still like to remind me about how I would alternate between pizza and mac and cheese for dinner nightly), the nutrition part of the prep was by far the hardest thing I had ever done.
I would go to the grocery store and literally mope around gazing at other people’s shopping carts and go, “Ugh. If only I didn’t care what I looked like! Then I could eat whatever I want like other people…” Sigh. Nice in theory, but besides the fact that pretty much all other people do care what they look like, I was being a complete victim about my eating. I was going around wishing people would pity me and then give me a “Good Little Dieter” badge.
I was living in a victim mindset. I wanted to be the one who went without. I wanted to be the one who ate cleaner than anyone else, and who other people would look to as someone who was determined, disciplined and had it all figured out. Meanwhile, I was miserable, and was far from having it all figured out.
This is a attitude issue, not a nutrition one. And what I mean by that is, the food itself was not the problem–in fact, I liked the way it made me feel and I was certainly seeing results–but it was my attachment to being the one who suffers the most–a “dieting martyr” as I like to call it :) Trace this back to my Irish Catholic upbringing, and we’ll find plenty of examples of self-sacrifice. Constantly trying to be the one who was “done wrong” the most. Always looking for pity–and some kind of messed up affirmation–from others. I wasn’t consciously aware at the time of what I was doing, but looking back, I can see that my attitude was holding me back in many ways.
When we play the victim with our eating and exercising, going on about how hard it is and how “no one knows what we’re going through,” the only person who suffers is us. Pity from others about our own CHOICES doesn’t make it any easier for us, and in fact, it perpetuates how miserable we are–because we continue to focus on the misery, or martyrdom–of the process.
The opposite is looking for–and finding–our own inner inspiration to eat well and exercise. Instead of focusing on how hard it is, could we focus on the positive aspects? Here are some of the things I LOVE about eating well and exercising regularly:
- I have more energy and feel less lethargic throughout the day
- Clothes zip right up, and I don’t feel stuffed into them
- I wake up in the morning feeling light; not like I have a food brick in my gut
- Likewise, my stomach is flatter in the morning, and my body feel tighter
- I can see visible definition and cuts in my shoulders, abs and arms
- I feel in control and understand that wherever I end up (restaurant or whatever circumstances), I can always make an educated CHOICE to eat well–fat loss indeed can happen anywhere
- Sleep quality improves and I am less stressed overall
Could you make a list of 3-5 things that you enjoy about eating clean and exercising regularly? And focus on those things instead of focusing on how miserable you are and how easy everyone else has it?
Eating well and exercising regularly is exactly as hard and miserable as you believe it to be.
And your mindset is the deciding factor. You may not have control over outcomes, but you always have control over your attitude :) What will you choose today? Ox, Jill