There’s a terrific article on NPR today about one of the ways people tend to motivate themselves in their weight loss resolutions: pictures of skinny people.
First consider the idea which, at a glance, seems worthwhile. Put a picture of a model representing the image you would like to have of yourself somewhere that it will remind you to stick to your promises. Put it on the fridge to remind you not to snack. Put it on the bathroom mirror to remind you to go to the gym. You get the point.
Will it work?
And here’s why.
Nevermind the fact that supermodels almost universally posses unnatural body-types. Nevermind that they often achieve and maintain those body types through highly questionable methods. Nevermind that having that body type is their job, which means they spend the bulk of every day maintaining it – not just an hour or two a week at the gym and trying to balance a healthy diet with eight to ten hours of sitting at a desk.
It won’t work primarily because of this: you are comparing yourself to Not You.
When your goal is an external Something over which you have no control, you are destined to fail almost from the outset.
This is why I rarely take clients near the scale. There’s a whole host of reasons why someone’s weight loss goals may or may not be achievable – or even desirable. The scale is only that – a scale, a grade of measurement. As such, it is no different than a thermometer or a ruler and should be treated with about as much reverence.
Look, you will never – ever – be Not You. Nor should you be! You are you. You are the only you there is and you will only ever be you. If you want to push yourself to be a better you, terrific. Life is about change, and there’s no reason for you to be in a rut – but embrace your identity and your individuality, not Not You’s.
Why not try this? Grade yourself on how you feel. Waking up, on a scale of 1 to 10, how ready are you for the day? At the top of the stairs, 1 to 10, how tired are you? If you didn’t know your age, what age would you say you feel?
As you go through the days of changing your health, revisit these measurements. See how they change. After you’ve been exercising, even for just a couple weeks, notice how ‘springy’ you feel. Would you say that makes you feel younger? More able?
Take down the picture of Not You. No matter how hard she tries, she’ll never be You.
Now go for it.