positive body thoughts

Importance of Feeling Good

When you’re trying to lose weight it’s easy to get stuck in a rut in a lot of ways. One of those ways is taking care of your appearance. When I was losing 100 pounds I was definitely in a rut because I couldn’t really afford new clothes. I’d buy some new clothes but then I’d lose weight so quickly that often times I didn’t get a chance to wear my new clothes before they were too big. Some outfits even had tags on them still! Check out this old post about the topic: Losing Weight and Shopping.

One of the things I regretted was how much money I spent on new clothes I never got to wear. If I could go back and tell my younger self I would have advised myself to buy clothes at thrift stores to save money. Despite that, there was one thing about that whole experience that I think is important: when you’re losing weight it’s important to dress for your body type.

When you’re losing weight it’s easy to get frumpy. Clothes become ill-fitting and baggy. When I was at my heaviest I already wore clothes that were bigger because I thought it hid my size. In reality it just made me look even bigger. As I lost the pounds the clothes got baggier and looked terrible! I had workout clothes that were literally falling off my body because they were too big. It doesn’t motivate you or maybe you feel good when you feel like you’re walking around in clothes that are falling off.

I think it’s really important to reward your weight loss efforts with non-food rewards. Shopping for new clothes is a good one. You’re not sabotaging your successes by “treating” yourself to a hot fudge sundae. Instead, you’re rewarding your successes by buying a new outfit at your new weight to make yourself FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF.

Buying New Clothes at Your Current Weight

You don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe at every weight you get down to. That would be expensive and ridiculous. But so many times I bought clothes that were too BIG for me OR too small, hoping that “one day this will fit.” Don’t do that. Just buy a few interchangeable outfits that fit well and look stylish. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. Sometimes just some fitted black pants and a few colorful shirts is all you need to boost your self-esteem.

Since I put on about 13 pounds in the last year I found that a lot of my clothes weren’t fitting properly anymore. Sure I hadn’t gained a TON of weight but it was enough to make my clothes look odd. Pants were too tight. This caused a muffin top and my legs looked like they were busting out of my jeans. Fun times. Shirts were tighter, a little bit shorter around the waist. It was demoralizing. It made me feel BIGGER than I actually was.

It’s really important to pay attention to your body shape and buy clothes that are flattering for your shape. I found this chart that was really interesting too:

table

When I first got back from Hawaii and realized I’d gained some weight, I went through my closet to get rid of stuff I  knew I’d never ever fit into again. I kept the stuff that I knew I’d be able to wear again and then I bought a few pairs of pants and a few shirts in a larger size. Sure it wasn’t what I wanted–I hated having to buy clothes in one size up, but feeling comfortable in your clothes makes a huge psychological difference.

ladies-dresses

Recently Michael’s mom and stepdad gave me a generous gift card to Kohl’s for my birthday. I went out and bought some new shirts and even some new underwear and a bra. Not that I needed to buy a bigger size, they were all generally the same size I’d been wearing but I felt so much better about myself with some new clothes. They were cute clothes, they fit well, they were flattering for my current body shape and it just MADE ME HAPPIER.

Haircut

This is another thing you can do while losing weight. A new hairstyle! It’s something easy to do and can make a world of difference. A new hairstyle can change the shape of your face, make you look nicer and in turn make you FEEL better about yourself.

Like I said in a previous post, I’d let my hair get really long and hadn’t taken care of it. I felt super frumpy. I hated my hair. My clothes weren’t fitting right. It made me feel bummed out about my weight. I didn’t need to wallow anymore. A few new outfits and new hairstyle made a humongous difference for me!

Getting Your Nails Done

Going to a salon to get a mani/pedi can get expensive but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself at home. I know that when I do my nails in colors I like I feel feminine and pretty. Again, it’s all psychological. Boost your mood in ways that don’t include food and you’ll be successful!

Accessories

I love earrings and necklaces. I have a large collection that I’ve accrued over the years. I have my favorites that I wear all the time and then once in awhile I re-discover something I had that I’d forgotten about and it’s like wearing something new!

Again, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Go to thrift stores, antique stores, consignment shops. You can find some really neat, unique jewelry if you keep an eye out.

Celebrate Progress

I definitely recommend that people trying to lose weight take progress pictures! I wish I had taken more. I was not comfortable being in front of a camera when I was bigger and I regret not taking more photos of myself as I lost the weight. I have pictures of when I was over 250 pounds and then I have some pictures from my brother’s wedding when I weighed 200 pounds. Then there were more taken as I got closer to my goal weight.

LisaEireneBeforeAndAfter

But I think it is a positive, uplifting ritual to take progress pictures. Sometimes when you are looking in the mirror you can’t see the progress you are making. Photos will show you that!

Take Care of Yourself

The point of doing all of this stuff is to make yourself look attractive to yourself. Wear things that you like and think positive thoughts when you look at yourself in the mirror. Try practicing positive self-talk and tell yourself something you like about your appearance. So often we get stuck in a rut where we tell ourselves “I’m so fat” and “I hate my stomach rolls” and “Why can’t I lose this flab in my arms?” and it becomes a broken record in our mind. Before you know it, all you do is talk shit about yourself and that brings down your mood and self-esteem. I know, I’ve been there many times.

I am trying to silence that negative voice in my head that’s always pointing out my flaws instead of celebrating my victories…

Losing weight is hard and it’s a drag sometimes and sometimes it TAKES FOREVER. Anything you can do to boost your mood and take the focus OFF your weight and the number on the scale is a good thing for making progress!

What are some of your favorite things to do to make yourself feel good about your body?

The Challenge of Negative Thinking

The Challenge of Negative Thinking…

By Karolina from Counselor Musings

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
 Watch your words, for they become actions.
 Watch your actions, for they become habits.
 Watch your habits, for they become character.
 Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

This quote hung above the board in a classroom in middle school, so I stared at it for hours every day. I remember thinking it sounded nice, but at that point I didn’t realize how our thoughts start a domino effect that can deeply change our life.

I tell my clients we have this inner soundtrack to our lives, and if we really stopped and thought about it, we’d realize how many negative words and lies we tell ourselves on a daily basis. If you had a friend that said 20 or 30 negative things to you every day, would you allow them to stay in your life? Yet we can’t get away from ourselves, so we continue to drag ourselves down day after day. We may not only feel bad about ourselves, but we make life far more difficult for ourselves then it needs to be. Thoughts greatly affect how we feel about ourselves, how we see the world, and how we interact with others. Negative and irrational thoughts tend to impede our health and the road to success.

When we think irrationally and negatively, it becomes like one of those distorted mirrors at the fair. These are the mirrors that make us look short and fat, or tall and skinny. It distorts how we see ourselves and how we see our world. If we were to react as if this was reality, we wouldn’t see the world rationally, and we would certainly be frustrated. Viewing the world through the distorted mirror is like a cognitive distortion, which is an irrational belief that we create and repeat to ourselves. These distortions decrease mood, and increase stress, anxiety, frustration, and guilt. If we cannot identify and change our distortions, we cannot be healthy individuals. At the very least, we will make life much more difficult for our self.

Changing our thinking is far easier said then done. You’re probably thinking something like this: “Ok, so now I know that I’m thinking irrationally or negatively, but what do I do? How do I start to think differently?”. Changing thinking definitely takes time, just like learning how to sign your name. Remember those first few times you tried to write your name? It looked awkward, and maybe you missed some letters. But by practicing over and over again, you finally learned to print and then sign your name. It took time, right? If you had given up after a few times of it “not working”, would you have ever gotten to the point you’re at now? Absolutely not! The same goes with changing your thinking.

Ok, so now a few suggestions:

1. Increase your awareness of the times you use various cognitive distortions or speak negatively to yourself. If you aren’t aware, you can’t make any changes.

2. Cut the words “always”, “never”, “everyone”, “no one” out of your vocabulary. Horrible, terrible, intolerable, and similar words can go too. Obviously these words are occasionally more then appropriate. But in general, they are exaggerations and send us into the cognitive distortion snowball.

3. Stop the “yeah-but…”. We all do this occasionally. We do well at something, or someone gives us a praise, and we say “yeah, but I just got lucky this time” or “yeah, but most of the time I fail miserably.” Watch the yeah buts, because it discounts your accomplishments and the positive in your life.

4. Identify the guilt beatings: We all make mistakes, we all disappoint or hurt people, and we all fall short of the “perfect” standard. When this happens, we have two choices: We can evaluate the situation, learn from our mistake, and keep moving forward, or we can beat ourselves up over the mistake (or what we may identify as a failure). When we engage in guilt beatings, instead of learning, we beat ourselves down and increase anxiety and stress in life. And, we tend to not learn for next time anyways!

5. Be careful of mislabeling! When things go wrong in life, or when we make a mistake (again, what we often define as a “failure”), we tend to mislabel our self (i.e. “I’m a failure”, “I’m a terrible friend”, “I am an incompetent person”). We put our energy into tearing our self down instead of creating a healthy and positive image. This leads to a distortion of identity and decreased self-esteem.

5. When you identify a cognitive distortion, change it to a rational belief. You will not always believe that the new rational belief is true, but say it anyways. The more you train your brain to think rationally and positively, the easier it will be to get there more naturally!

6. Refute the belief. This sort of goes along with number 5, but tell yourself why the irrational belief isn’t true! This is an example conversation you might have with yourself: “I can’t stand this person. They are always nagging and being rude and I cannot stand being around them–change to: This person is challenging for me to be around. They sometimes nag and are rude, which can be frustrating. I may not enjoy being around them, but I can tolerate it or I can choose to walk away…”.

Remember, to be healthy & successful in life, we need to have healthy, positive, and rational thoughts. Our self-talk is tied incredibly tightly to our feelings and behaviors, so if you want emotion or action to change, we need to go back and challenge our thoughts.

Hey I’m Karolina (aka Counselor Musings). I have my master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Addictions Counseling, and I’m currently a Counselor on a college campus. My thesis in my graduate program was on Wellness & Behavior change, and how this interacts with levels of depression and resiliency. Favorite topics to discuss are healthy boundaries, wellness, anxiety, depression, negative thinking/self-talk, perfectionism, and self-esteem. Other interests include traveling (you can see pictures on my blog from my January trip to Ecuador), public speaking (looking forward to an upcoming speaking trip to Greece!), spending time with friends, coffee, dance, and working on my own levels of health and wellness.

I blog over at http://counselormusings.blogspot.com where I discuss the topics I see many of my clients struggle with, give practical advice you can easily implement into your life, share the occasional recipe, and discuss my own wellness journey! Stop by and say hi. 🙂

 

Lisa’s Note: Thank you Karolina for sharing your knowledge! I know that in my journey to lose 100 pounds I neglected the emotional aspect of transforming my life. I was so used to being MEAN to myself, saying negative things about my body, that when I was 100 pounds lighter I still did it. I had a realization one day “Hey, Lisa, you are no longer that person. Stop being mean to yourself. Say something positive instead.” Trying to correct that behavior took a lot of hard work (I still struggle with it sometimes) but being aware of it makes all the difference.