What happens when you mess up or go off plan?

How do you decide whether to stick with your healthy habits or to give up? Does it depend on the situation, like whether someone brought cookies to share at the office? Or if it’s raining at the time you planned to go biking?

Actually, it doesn’t. What it really depends on is… 

What it really depends on is whether you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. In other words, when you mess up is it an opportunity to grow or is it a reason to claim defeat?

This topic is particularly pertinent to children as what they learn when young will impact their future mindset. But while parents are concerned about instilling grit and resilience in their children, as adults we often practice these traits selectively. 

Consider how you react to different mistakes: 

Say you forget about a lunch date with your friend. You probably feel bad about it, apologize and move on. Maybe you figure out how your schedule went awry and change your process for going forward.

What if you sleep in, never hearing the alarm, and miss your workout? Can you move on with the same ease as the missed lunch? Or does it confirm your belief that you can’t stick with an exercise routine?

Or, consider the same failure viewed differently by different people. Two women overeat one night at dinner. One sees it as a momentary lapse and gives herself grace. She uses the experience to be more mindful in the future. The other sees it as confirmation that she has no willpower and beats herself up. The next morning she thinks “what’s the use…I blew it last night” and proceeds to grab a pastry and cafe mocha on the way into work.

The defining moment is how you interpret the mess up!

growth mindset
Photo by Miriam Alonso: https://www.pexels.com/photo/young-female-sleeping-on-bed-in-morning-7622514/

Do you want to stick with your healthy habits? Then you must rethink what you make these kinds of situations mean. And the longer your way of thinking has led to you giving up, the more effort it will take to rethink for a different, better result. 

Do not say to yourself, “this is just the way I am.” 

I get it. If you’ve behaved in a certain way, day after day, for years, it doesn’t feel optional. But growth is continual. It’s a choice. We don’t stop growing because we’ve reached a certain age.

So, when you notice that you’re making excuses based on circumstances, practice new ways of talking to yourself. Ask yourself questions that build resilience and cultivate a growth mindset, moving you forward to achieve your goals. 

That’s what a healthy hottie does.

The key to stop self-sabotage so you can have the body you want

I wrote recently about the lens we all see things through like, “a meal isn’t complete without a little something sweet.” That Personal Paradigm of self-sabotage can also be turned inward, taking on a different level of meaning when you gain awareness of the thoughts you have about yourself.

Here are the top 5 damaging ones I hear:

“I’ve tried so many times and just can’t lose weight.”

“I can’t stick with it.”

“My body is disgusting.”

“I don’t have enough willpower.”

“I deserve it.”

If you’ve ever uttered something like this, you probably thought nothing of it. To you, it felt true. But these kinds of statements simply reflect how you think about yourself. 

They are not true.

And they are the epitome of self-sabotage. Try it yourself. Pick a similar thought that regularly floats through your mind. How do you feel when you think it? 

Rather than the feelings we want to have like motivation, inspiration, or determination, every client I talk to tells me these statements bring up things like shame, disappointment, and hopelessness.

Why is this important?

Because to live day-in and day-out the healthy lifestyle you truly want, you must feel determined to take consistent action. You don’t take that action from a place of hopelessness. If you could, you’d already be doing it.

So, how can you stop self-sabotage and shift your Personal Paradigm of how you view yourself? 

You cannot leap to super positive thoughts. You’ve probably tried that. For one, it feels fake to force a happy face, repeating “I love my body,” while picking at a boring salad as your husband eats a bacon cheeseburger. And even if you could do that once or twice, it’s short-lived. 

Instead, gradually shift your thoughts one step at a time:

“I’ve tried so many times and just can’t lose weight.” -> “I’ve learned a lot about what doesn’t work so I can avoid the same mistakes.”

“I can’t stick with it.” -> “Maybe I can stick with it this time.”

“My body is disgusting.” -> “I have a body.”

“I don’t have enough willpower.” -> “I have the willpower I have.”

“I deserve it.” -> “I deserve much more.”

Photo by Mikhail Nilov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/an-elderly-woman-in-purple-long-sleeves-smiling-8307321/

As you practice the new thought it will feel more true. Then you can up the ante. You start thinking “I have a strong, amazing body.” And you believe it. Not overnight. Over time.

The key is this: you cannot wait to have the body you want in order to love your body. You cannot wait to have all the habits in place to think amazing things about yourself and your ability to follow through. You must cultivate a Personal Paradigm now of the person who has done it all in order to accomplish it. 

I just need something a little sweet

I suspect all the mindset talk gets boring for some people. Like, “Yeah Heather, I get it. My thoughts are important. But tell me what to do to lose weight.”

When I started teaching this stuff 20+ years ago I underestimated the power of it myself.  I was mostly focused on behaviors/actions (for myself and my clients), and talked about keeping a positive mindset.

But a positive mindset is the outcome of the actual work, which is much more than just positive thinking. It’s really about the way you see things: your Personal Paradigm. The way we interpret our environment, what people say, events – all of it – is determined by our lens. 

So when someone thinks that “a meal isn’t complete without a little something sweet,” she believes that to be true. It’s one of the ways she sees things. I can tell her what to do to lose weight, but her Personal Paradigm of “sugar completes a meal” will eventually disrupt her ability to follow through.

Almost every client, past and present, might be blushing, each thinking I’m talking about her or him. I picked this one for just that reason: it is one of the most pervasive, seemingly innocent, sabotaging thoughts that nearly everyone I’ve coached starts with. Heck, I used to believe it myself not that long ago. 

Personal Paradigm
Photo by Lina Kivaka: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-eating-pancakes-with-fresh-fruits-5623997/

If this one isn’t yours, what is? 

To know what aspects of your Personal Paradigm are sabotaging your weight loss, pay attention to the excuses you make when going off plan. And to where you feel resistance to making changes. These are the areas you want to dig in. 

I like these two particular questions: Why am I choosing to think that? And, what if it isn’t true? Truly answer these questions around any belief that is keeping you from getting and staying on track. 

Once you have awareness, decide what to do with it. You can continue to think, for instance, a meal isn’t complete without sugar, but know that it will keep you in a pattern of not getting results.

Be careful though to not let your brain take everything to the extreme, where now you don’t “get” to eat any sugar. That’s an argument your brain might make in order to keep the status quo. Don’t believe it.

Instead, shape your Personal Paradigm to align with being a healthy hottie. YOU decide when a meal is complete, sugar or no sugar. Intentionally choose what to think and let that drive your actions. Then watch your health and body transform.

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