There’s a little voice in our heads. It’s talking to us all day long. What’s yours saying? Specifically, what’s that little voice saying to you when you’re eating strays off your meal plan or you skip your workout? Is it beating you down, negative, criticizing...?
If you get off track with your weight loss plan, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or weak, it means you’re human. This small slip up is temporary and is called a lapse. It happens to all of us. It’s part of the process. How you respond to these situations can have a big impact on your weight loss success.
The first step in overcoming a lapse is to put it in context and realize it’s a natural, expected part of the journey -- it’s “okay”. Next, tune in to that little voice in your head. Would you talk to a close friend the way you are talking to yourself? Dieters are often overly critical of themselves but are kind and empathetic to friends in the same situation. Revise your self-talk to something that is more kind and understanding. Forgive yourself. Say these encouraging words to yourself out loud. (Really -- out loud. Hearing yourself will make it sink in even more.) Make a habit of doing this every time the critical voice reappears. With practice that little voice in your head will begin to be kind and forgiving, like a friend.
Why it matters
Learning from lapses can be a key driver in reaching your goal and keeping the weight off. If you are able to stay positive and not get down on yourself when struggles arise, you are more likely to bounce back and keep a lapse from turning into a full-blown relapse. This mindset is also more open to examining the situation so that you can learn from the experience and make different choices next time.
Changing your self-talk from critical to encouraging is called “self-compassion”. With self-compassion you treat yourself kindly and forgive yourself when something goes wrong. Individuals who are self-compassionate are more likely to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off. So treat yourself like a friend for a brighter, lighter tomorrow.