Last week, Katie posted about her Weight Watchers homework assignment, reflecting on her strengths and weaknesses when it comes to weight loss (check it out here). It’s definitely an interesting topic and one that makes me miss my old WW leader Noreen, who would have done a great job with it! Knowing our own strengths can help to find a weight and lifestyle management strategy that really suits each of us as individuals.
So what are my strengths and weaknesses at this point?
– I’m very goal-oriented. If I have set a specific goal that is realistic, measurable and attainable, I will get there. Little mini-challenges like the Lovely Ladies Losing It challenge this month are great for me because I can check off boxes each day of achieving each specific goal (this week: 5 fruits and veggies). When I first started exercising, I had a goal to get a certain number of little shiny stars on my calendar:This works in my favor because I know that the goal needs to be something I can control, like adding a good habit, rather than something I can’t like losing X pounds by X date. I know the goal needs to be short term enough that I don’t get bored and challenging enough that I don’t succeed to easily. Even for big goals, like this year’s goal to improve my relationship with food, get broken down into smaller concrete aims like using olive oil to cook my veggies, drinking more water instead of soda and upping the nutritional value of my snacks (all going well so far!).
– I have a fairly analytical mindset. I like to study, both in terms of self-reflection on my own thoughts and patterns, and in gathering a lot of external information from scientific sources. I can step back and look at those things rationally (most of the time) to make a reasonable plan for managing my course. Most of the time, the keeps me from falling prey to transient whims in the diet and fitness world and helps me stay motivated as I learn more about the physiology of why and how our body does the crazy things it does. If I understand the why, I am much more likely to follow through on things, whether it is understanding the why of my own triggers or understanding the why of eating more eggs. You guys frequently see the result of this (over?) analysis when I talk through things here. 🙂
– I’ve developed a pretty healthy barometer for “is it worth it” foods. I make treats to send to Darrell’s job almost every week, frequently of the chocolate peanut butter variety. I’m not even particularly tempted by them anymore. It’s not that they aren’t good – I always taste enough to be sure it’s good before I send it out the door – but they aren’t enough of a temptation to throw myself into a tailspin. It isn’t hard to say no to grocery store sheet cake or mass produced cookies at the office or that scone they’re going to offer me at the coffee shop this morning. I’ve somehow become someone who can taste a dessert and only finish it if it is truly worth it. Most of the time anyway. 🙂
– I can be patient with this process and keep things in perspective. This was definitely not true of me at the beginning of this journey and while I’m steadily improving, this is definitely an area I have to work on constantly to keep building up this strength. Still, almost 3 years into this, I can now step back (again that analytical mindset) and see the big picture for the most part. I can remind myself that I didn’t really gain 3 pounds this week. I know I’m always up right after a long run (and I’m right – most of that gain is already gone). I can remind myself that while I’m unhappy that I’m in the 170s instead of the 160s, at least I’m not in the 270s anymore. With time, this will settle out too. At this point, this is all small stuff in the grand scheme of things.
In addition to continue to work on my patience, my other area for improvement or weakness is my tendency to let that negative self-talk voice into my head a little too loudly and a little too often. That kind of self-talk is dangerous – it leads to bad food decisions, outright binge-eating, bad exercise decisions and an all around grumpy Jessica who doesn’t do so great in any of life when that takes hold. That is definitely not something that magically gets better when you lose weight. If anything, I might be more self-critical now than I was then, especially about my body. Then, I just tried not to look too closely at myself or let my mind dwell on how I looked. Now, I find myself noticing my sad walrus belly or lumpy thighs or a million other little things that I know don’t matter. I find it too easy to let that little voice whisper in my ear about all of those fears we talked about last week. This kind of negative self-talk only gets better when we confront it and actively negate it. I really need to work on this more if I’m going to continue to be successful in this whole healthy lifestyle endeavor. I need to remind myself that I would never say those things out loud where Oliver could hear them, so I shouldn’t be saying them internally either.
I was a little intrigued thinking about this over the last week because I don’t know that my self-identified strengths and weaknesses would have looked like this 3 years ago when this started. I know I greatly overestimated my weaknesses and underestimated my strength back then. I guess my self-respect for my current strengths is a sign that I’m doing better with the negative self-talk than I give myself credit for, right?
What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle or losing weight? Do you actively try to develop them or deal with them?