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I've seen many clients self-sabotage their wellness journey by telling themselves lies. On this episode I discuss the lies we tell ourselves.
Before I get into today’s topic, I did want to ask you for one quick favor. My book, The Wellness Roadmap, is up for an Author Academy Award. If you would go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA, that’s going to take you to the Author Academy Awards page. Scroll down to the bottom. You’ll see a place where you can vote. Don’t do the “Submit”, but go down to where you can vote. It’s going to be on page 6 – that’s the “Health” category. Find The Wellness Roadmap, the book cover. Click on that and you’ll be voting for The Wellness Roadmap. I really appreciate that. Again, that’s 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA. It’d really help me out a lot. Thank you so much for that. So now we’ll go ahead and get on with the show.
For today’s topic, it’s going to be a solo episode where I wanted to go into something that a lot of us don’t talk about a whole lot, but it is something that’s real in many of our minds. We lie to ourselves. We lie to ourselves all the time, and it can be something that can keep you from reaching the wellness that you want to have. As a recap, I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be, and you do have to focus on all three. And these lies that I’m going to cover today are part of your journey. If you’re telling yourself these lies, you’ve got to stop. I’ll get into some strategies about that towards the end.
I broke this into three different sections, the first being “Getting Started”, and then we’ll talk about “On The Journey”, and finally we’ll talk about “Success”. And I’ve got several lies in each of these categories that we tend to tell ourselves. So as we go through this, I really want you to do some deep thinking. This is part of the self-awareness aspects as you go through your Wellness GPS. If you’ve gotten The Wellness Roadmap, you know what that is, but basically we have to get to this point of self-awareness where we know what we’re doing and what we’re saying to ourselves, because if we don’t get there, we’re not going to make this journey. We’re going to struggle. And that struggle is going to keep you from getting where you could be getting.
So the first one that I hear a lot is, “I’ll get started tomorrow.” And that might be at the beginning of the month, at the beginning of the week, but in a general sense, it’s starting your plan any time other than right now. There is no better time than right now. So if you find yourself saying, “I’ll start my diet tomorrow. I’ll start my exercise program tomorrow” – you’re already lying to yourself. You’re putting off something that you probably could start today.
The next one is, “My genetics are keeping me from losing weight” or, “My genetics are keeping me fat.” You may also hear this termed “big boned”. It’s not always genetics. Yes, some of us are designed to carry more body fat than others. That’s just a natural part of genetics. But none of us are genetically inclined to be obese; none of us are genetically inclined to be morbidly obese. That’s not the case. Now, there are genetic issues with some people and there are illnesses that will cause you to gain weight. There are medications that you might be taking that can cause you to gain weight. Those are real. Those are things you have to deal with. If your thyroid’s not functioning right, you’re going to be bigger. That’s not your genetics. That’s not your genetic potential. We all have the genetic potential to be healthy, fit and happy; we just have to make sure we’re doing the right things based on who we are. So your genetics are not what’s keeping you where you are. You have the capacity to do better.
The next is, “I don’t lift because I’ll get bulky.” This is mostly things that women will say. They’ll say, “I don’t want to get bulky. I actually want to get smaller, so I don’t want to lift weights because I’ll get big.” And the reality is, one, you’re female, so to get big, short of performance-enhancing drugs, it’s not really going to happen. Two, you are never going to work hard enough to put on a whole lot of muscle the way body builders tend to. And third, finally, we’re all over 40, so our genetic potential, our opportunity potential to put on muscle is much lower than it was in our 20s and 30s. So straight off the bat, you’re not going to work hard enough, you’re not going to be taking performance-enhancing drugs, more than likely, and you’re old enough that you’re not going to put on significant muscle. But you should lift weights to maintain muscle mass, to maintain bone density and to maintain strength. All of those are very core to you being healthy, fit and happy.
The next one is, “I have a bad knee”, or a bad hip, or some other injury that basically you can’t work out. And this is almost never the case. I seldom see people who have an injury that they can’t work around, that they can’t do something with. If your knees hurt or you’re getting a knee replacement and the doctor says, “No leg workouts” – that’s fine. Can you walk? Can you use the elliptical? Can you use the bicycle? Can you lift with your upper body? There are still things that you can do with that injury to work towards the fitness level that you want to have. It just takes some forethought and planning, so that you can get the work done without injuring yourself further. But very few injuries that I found will prevent you from being able to work out at some level. A lot of times we’re telling ourselves these lies because we don’t want to work out. It’s not that we can’t, we just don’t want to. So, don’t let the injury stop you from doing some form of training. You can work on your mobility, you can work on your balance, you can work on your endurance. There are things that you can do; you just have to figure those things out.
And the final item in the “Getting Started” section that I want to talk about is, “I have to work out to lose weight.” One of the early interviews I did was with a gentleman named Todd, and I also profile Todd in the book. Todd lost over 323 pounds without doing any workouts at all. In fact, he couldn’t work out because of some physical conditions he had. As a function of being so heavy for so long, he literally would bleed through his calves if he sat down in a chair. He couldn’t physically do the workout. So what did Todd do? Todd took control of his life. He made a commitment and he changed the things he could change, which was his food. Now, Todd did go low carb. You don’t have to go low carb. You can find a way of eating that will help you lose weight if that’s what your goal is, but you do not have to train to lose weight. Training helps the weight loss process, so training as a side effect will often include some weight loss, but that’s a side effect of the working out, just as weight loss is a side effect of eating better. So, working out can enhance your weight loss, but it’s very unlikely that working out is going to be all you have to do to lose weight. Calories of energy output is very, very expensive for our bodies, relative to how easy it is to eat those calories back. You’ll see those little diagrams all the time of, this is how much exercise you’ll have to do if you eat that Snickers bar, this is how much exercise you’ll have to do if you eat that McDonald’s meal. You can tell the amount of exercise is insane for the effort and time it’s going to take for you to eat those calories back. You’re never going to out exercise a bad diet, so don’t think that you will. Don’t tell yourself that you’re not working out. You’ve got to focus on the food first.
So those are the “Getting Started” lies: “I’ll start tomorrow. My genetics are keeping me fat. I don’t want to lift because I’ll get bulky. My bad knee or other injury won’t let me work out. I have to work out to lose weight.” All those are not really good reasons; they’re lies. So, stop telling yourself those lies if you’re having difficulty getting started.
Next, “On The Journey”. A lot of us will say, “This time is different.” But you didn’t really change anything. Last time, what did you do? You went gung-ho for five days and then you had a cheat meal, and it turned into a cheat day and it turned into a cheat weekend, and then you didn’t start back on Monday. So, what is different this time than the times you did this before? I can tell you, for me the main difference, the one time, was when I made the commitment. If you haven’t made the commitment and you’re not making some substantive changes to your lifestyle, you’re not going to get what you want. This time is different if you make it different, but going at it the same way you did before is just insanity, so don’t do that.
And then another one is, “Damn it, since I had that cookie, the day is blown.” You go in in the morning and they have donuts in the office, and suddenly donuts in the office becomes a crappy lunch at a restaurant, and then it becomes after work Happy Hour with some coworkers, and that turns into a whole terrible weekend of things. Each event is independent, each decision is independent. The cookies have absolutely nothing to do with the martinis after work. Each of them were decisions that you made at that point in time. So don’t think that one decision blows your whole day and therefore you just blow it out. Don’t let those other decisions become components of the decision that you make. They’re independent decisions and you need to treat them that way.
“I earned a treat.” So, you go into the gym – and I won’t name the name of the chain – but there’s one that they leave Tootsie Rolls and cookies at the front desk. So you go do your workout, and then, “Here’s your treat”, as a way of you congratulating yourself. Or you went and you did a good workout in the morning. You showed up and your trainer maybe trained you very, very well. You felt like you had a really good workout, so that entitles you to have your favorite treat after dinner that night to treat yourself for that hard workout. That’s not gaining you any ground; that’s actually pushing you backwards. You might not feel that way when you’re doing it, but it is in fact doing it. So, don’t let a victory celebration become a bad decision.
“I can’t afford good quality food.” I hear this all the time – they say, “I can’t afford organic.” I’ll admit, organic food costs a little more in the grocery store; it does. It takes more time and effort to grow. They get smaller production because they’re not able to use the hormones. All those different things that are happening are going to make the food a little bit more expensive, based on that volume of food. But what I have found is the difference in quality. If you eat slow and you let your body’s hormones do their thing – the leptin and the ghrelin do their thing – they’ll tell you you’re full when you’ve had enough. When you’ve gotten what your body needs, they’ll turn off your hunger sensation and it won’t turn it back on as early. If you can get your body to listen to those things, eating higher quality food is going to give you the nutrition that your body deserves. I can tell you that higher quality food is going to be a lot cheaper for you in the long run, particularly when you start thinking about the expenditures and the things that you’ve got to go through, the pain and suffering if you end up with diabetes and some of the complications that come along with that. You don’t want that in your life. You don’t want to be obese. You don’t want to have all those other problems and the medical issues and everything else. The quality of the food does matter and it’s an investment that you should be making.
Finally on the journey: “Since my family won’t support me, I’m doomed.” The family wants to have cookies in the house or whatnot. I can tell you right now as I’m recording this, my wife went out and bought some M&M’s. I thought they were the peanut M&M’s when I first saw them. She said they’re the caramel ones. She loves them, which is great, but they’re not what I plan to eat. But I have a very hard time saying “No” to M&M’s. I actually do. I know that’s a problem for me, but my wife wants them – I’m going to let her have them. If I’m cooking for myself and my wife doesn’t want to eat the way I’m going to eat, then I just have to be a little bit more into my plan. Typically what I found is, there are foods that you can eat that they will eat, and then there are foods they’ll eat that you won’t eat. So, if you fix a protein, you fix plenty of different vegetables, and then you go ahead and fix them the starch and you make them the desert, but you just stay away from the starch and the desert, you can fill your plate with the kinds of food that you want to have and you can meet your goals. If you’re really into this, if you’re really committed, you’ll come up with a strategy, with a plan to work around what your family’s needs are. Segregate their snacks to a different pantry or to a different cabinet so you’re not in them and seeing them all the time, and that might help. Fixing your meals in a way that is modular, so that you can add the things that they want and you can avoid those things. Fixing the plates in the kitchen and bringing them to the table will make that even easier for you. So that’s the “On The Journey”: “This time is different”, when you haven’t really changed anything, “Damn it, since I had that cookie, the day is blown. I earned a treat. I can’t afford better quality food.” And finally for “On The Journey”: “Since my family won’t support me, I’m doomed.” All of those are lies. Stop telling yourself that. If you’re really committed to this, you can get through these things.
And then the final section is “Success”. The first one in “Success” is, “If I lose X more pounds, I’ll be happy.” So for some people that might be five pounds, others 10, and for some it might be 25 or 30. Whatever that is, “If I lose X more pounds, I’ll be happy.” Weight loss is not going to make you happy. If you get yourself healthy and you get yourself fit, it’s a lot easier to be happy. But happy in and of itself is its own component of wellness. And yes, they’re all intertwined. A fitter person tends to be more healthy and happy. A healthy person tends to be more fit and happy. A happy person tends to be more fit and healthy. Those are general components of the three and how they interact, but one does not drive the other in a straight line capacity that way. You need to find things that bring you joy, and that will bring you the happiness. That happiness will help you feel better so you’ll be putting more effort into your fitness. And as you notice the investments you’re making on your fitness, you’ll start paying a lot more attention to the foods you’re eating, the sleep you’re getting, and your stress levels. All of that will work out to making you a much weller person.
The second one in “Success” is, “I’m a failure.” People will say this even when they’ve made significant success. I’ve talked to people that wanted to lose 60-70 pounds and they’ve lost about 35 pounds, but they’ve still got that 25 to lose and they feel like they’re a complete failure because they didn’t reach a predetermined goal. And sometimes those goals were based on things that were happening at the early part of their journey. So, they needed to lose 70 pounds or wanted to lose 70 pounds, and the first week they last four, and then they lost three, and then they lost two, and now each week they’re noticing maybe half a pound, and one week it goes up. They’re so fixated on the fact that the scale isn’t moving as much as it did before, they feel like they’re stuck. There are things they can do to get off of this plateau. You’re not a failure. You climb the mountain and you found yourself on a ridge, and now you have to walk across that ridge before you can start climbing again. That’s just a normal aspect of going up this mountain, and it’s something to expect. Plateaus are a normal, natural thing in our wellness journey. If you find yourself on a plateau, you’ve got to keep doing what’s been working for you and you’re going to start seeing results again. You can start working a little bit harder at certain things, get a little bit more restrictive on some things and see if that helps spur some movement in the direction that you want to. But you are not a failure on the basis that your momentum stopped. You’re not a failure until you quit. If you quit this climb and start going back down the mountain, then yes, you can call yourself a failure, but you’re not a failure because you didn’t get all the way where you wanted to go. You are a success by making it as far up the mountain as you have, and you just have to keep working.
And then the final lie that we tell ourselves as a part of the “Success” section: “I’ve met my goal, my journey is over.” A lot of people will do this. They’ll go on a diet and their goal was to maybe lose 10-15 pounds. They lose that 10-15 pounds, and then they go right back to eating the way they did before. And guess what happens? They layer that fat right back on, and in some cases faster and even more than they did before. That’s a normal way that people will do – they’ll do something, they’ll be very successful, but because they weren’t committed to it in the long term, they let it slip through their grasp. They go back to living the way they did before, fully aware that that’s how they got where they got. They know where that road takes them, yet they get on that road and they start going. So, when you meet your health and fitness goals, I’d strongly encourage you to take a moment to regroup, to assess yourself, and then sit down and pick something even better down the road. Find another goal, find another challenge. Find something that’s going to keep you actively engaged in your own wellness. You can continue to improve your wellness, you can continue to maintain your wellness, or you can let it slip away. It’s always a decision that you get to make, for the most part, so I want you making those decisions.
So I’ll recap – for “Success”, it was: “If I lose X more pounds, I’ll be happy. I’m a failure”, even though you’ve made significant progress, or, “I’ve met my goal, my journey is over.” Those are three lies that we tend to tell ourselves when we’re looking at success or we feel like we have been successful. Those are also lies. If you really want to get well, you want to be as happy, healthy and fit as you can possibly be, you can’t be telling yourself those lies either.
I hope you enjoyed this episode. It’s a little different than what I’ve done in the past, but I really felt like as I was talking to various people, I hear these comments all the time and I know they’re just lies that people are telling themselves. I want you to do this deep dive. You may want to listen to this episode again, and there’ll be sections of it that are going to resonate with you. If they did, feel free to send me an email. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can talk about what’s going on with you. I’d love to help you out if I can in any way, so thank you.
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Also, The Wellness Roadmap, the book I wrote, is up for an Author Academy Award. If you could go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA, that will take you to the page for the Author Academy Awards. You’ll need to scroll down to the bottom. Don’t click that “Submit” button, because that’s not for you, but scroll down a little bit further and you’ll find the “Vote” section, and then there are separate pages for each category. I’m in the “Health” category, which is 7 of 16 pages, so you’ll have to do a little bit of scrolling to get over to the seventh page. Look for The Wellness Roadmap cover, click on it, and you’ve voted. Thank you so much for that: 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AAA. Thank you.