Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Power of Positive Thinking

I know I've talked, er, written, before about being positive. I guess this is just something that I think is super important and is worth examining every now and then.

I was reading some blogs today and, WOW, people can be really negative.... About others, themselves, weight loss; all kinds of things! It's one thing to have a bad day. You can be angry...At yourself or others. You can be sad. You can even have days where you feel like you just want to stay in bed. Frustration? Yup. Naturally there is a line between what's "normal" and what's not and there are some serious mental illnesses that can cause bad days. I'm talking about a bad day now and then. Not consistently. We all have bad days. I think it's highly unlikely that someone had one. If so, I'd love to meet you or hear your story, because THAT would be an amazing accomplishment.

On the flip side, have you ever come across someone who seems to ALWAYS have bad days. I worry about these people. I can't help but wonder if they have some depression. Or if they just like to post things that gain them attention, which in my opinion is an issue on its own. Some people thrive on attention and if they have a reason to get it, they take it.

I realize we all like attention. I generally don't go around publicly beating myself up though.  There are times when I post blogs that are likely to be negative in tone but those are usually to share that it's OKAY to feel down sometimes. I don't post frequently about how angry I am about the fact that I ate that second piece of pizza, had a drink, or my weight fluctuated up a few pounds (because it would likely go back down).

Some of this is because...I do not nitpick at every little thing regarding this journey. I am at a point know where I'm healthier than ever before. I focus on getting exercise and fueling my body with healthy things. I do not focus on the number on the scale and what it's doing. Some of this might be because I am happy. I am honestly and truly happy (in general) with myself. Are there things that I don't like about myself? Of course. I wouldn't be getting lipo and a tummy tuck (and planning on more surgery in the future)  if I were happy with everything.

I think that when people tend to focus too much on things like the numbers on the scale, they end up hurting themselves. 

I have had times when I've looked at the scale, not lost any weight and thought, "what is wrong with me?"  WRONG? WRONG. That's such a negative word. It implies that our efforts aren't enough, and in some way that we're not good enough. We're not doing things correctly. I see it all the time.

There are things we must remember... The more weight you lose, the harder it is to lose. Some weight cannot be lost. I never thought it was possible to not be able to lose weight. Then my surgeon told me that despite continued weight loss efforts, the volume in my thighs isn't likely to go anywhere. Some weight could be from skin, although that is usually an insignificant amount, unless you have a lot of skin. If you've been on your journey for a reasonable amount of time and have been working out, it's possible that some of your weight is muscle. This is why, especially farther into your journey, it is important to track your measurements. From experience, let me say that if you have a lot of excess skin, you could still be building muscle but it may not be reflected via measuring tape. Your skin could prevent measurements from changing. Don't get discouraged...Just keep living healthy. Keep working. And, monitor your progress in the areas that you can see it! For instance...I check out my muscle definition in my calves and arms...Mostly my biceps, as my droopy skin isn't going anywhere.

Okay...Here's where I will share my opinion on muscle...

I honestly do not believe that if you're just starting, the amount of muscle you have will cause the scale not to move.  Here's why... Muscle takes time to build. You're probably not going to build so much muscle in two weeks that it will cause a significant change on the scale. Muscle building does cause some water retention, but I have not found any research that indicates that it's such a large amount that it will wreak havoc on your weight loss efforts (especially not intimately). If you cut out calories and exercise to burn them, creating a deficit, then you'll lose fat. Just remember that a pound of fat is 3500 calories. Also, you may lose water weight. Yes, muscle can make you retain as it builds, but if you're just starting a change in diet, you may lose water weight. Don't worry though because weight loss, especially initially, is good. That's what you want. Maybe you were retaining water because you ate unhealthy foods. If you change your eating habits, you're losing that water weight for a good, healthy reason.

Again, I am not a medical expert, but I've done my research and haven't found any scientific data that has changed my opinion, or proven me wrong. Please share if you have such information. I don't mind being, scientifically or logically, proven wrong. If you have a conflicting opinion, that's fine...Please share it. Also share your reasoning and any supporting information though. I like to learn new things, not just argue "I'm right because I said so."

Also, please know that weight is weight. Muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound is a pound. Muscle takes up less space than fat though, which is why measurements and progress pictures are important.

I think that sometimes we get so discouraged that we have way too much negative self-talk. How can this possibly help our efforts? If you feel badly about yourself, how is that going to empower you to keep going? Is talking about how bad things are going helpful? I think that could be why a lot of people give up. They don't see the changes that they want to see, or as quickly as they'd like, and they stop. These are the times when you shouldn't stop.

Push yourself. It is okay to go up a pound or two. That could be from a couple days full of sodium. It'll come back off. Remember that this is about your health and your life, not just weight loss. While weight loss may the reason for your journey, you will (hopefully) get to the point that you realize it's about so much more than the pounds, your dress size, or how attractive you are.  When you get to the point that you realize that living healthy is what is important and that's your goal, you'll most likely be a lot happier.

Focus on the good. Forget that you didn't lose any weight this week (I say week because you should only weigh weekly due to fluctuations  - and if for no other reason, your sanity). Instead focus on the fact that you went out and ran three miles. Maybe six months ago you could only run half that. Be happy and proud that now you can do it. Celebrate weight loss victories. Celebrate buying smaller clothes. Just don't get so focused on those things that you start beating yourself up over things.  Goals are good. Goals are necessary. Be sure to make the attainable though. Don't set yourself up for failure by making goals that are unrealistic. Small steps are so important. It seems that everyone wants immediate results. We want people to recognize when we lose five pounds. Honestly if you're 300, a five pound loss probably isn't going to be all that noticeable. But, you're not doing this for others, right? You're doing it for yourself, for your health. The positive comments that you hear along the way will make you feel good. Enjoy them. Use them to help you continue your journey. Just don't rely on them.

Stay Positive!!


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