Our Ideal Self

- POSTED ON: Jun 25, 2011

Everyone who tries to lose weight has ups and downs
that go with their hopes and expectations.
A big part of that task is to keep from
getting discouraged enough to give up. 
 The easiest pounds to lose are the first few,
which are usually water weight.
The beginning of a diet usually inspires the false hope
that shedding the rest of the pounds will be easy.

But plateaus come in waves
as the body accommodates to the new caloric intake
and becomes more efficient.
Just as a machine can become more highly tuned,
the body can get more out of fewer calories,
and tends to hold on to the calories it has to work with. 

  During periods of failure to lose weight, despite sticking rigidly
to the prescribed caloric intake and exercise regimen,
people begin to falter and lose hope.

We all have an ideal self, which is the self that we wish to be.
Failing to achieve that self and fulfill its goals
can lead to self-criticism and devaluation.
Harsh internal judgments lead to a sense of failure,
hopelessness, and depression. 

 When we decide to diet,
we make an internal resolution and expect to live up to it.
We can have initial success, and then the road gets rougher.
We get to those inevitable plateaus that we will either overcome
or that will overcome us.
We can come closer to affirming our ideal self,
or feel disappointment in ourselves.

The capacity to make changes into habits requires perseverance.
We must consistently work to develop new behaviors
that we hope will become automatic.

The first time we change a habit,
it is hard and we are very conscious of the effort it takes.
The more times we do it, the more it becomes grooved,
and then, gradually, we can do it automatically.

Pride in our weight-loss accomplishment then can
become a greater pleasure than that snack in which
we might have previously indulged. 

 We find our self-esteem enhanced when we live up to our goal;
get reinforcement from the scale instead of punishment;
and thereby live up to our slimmer and trimmer ideal self.

Some of us are super-critical of ourselves.
It helps to examine our the ideal and set realistic goals,
because this can reduce the harshness of our internal judgment
when a goal is not attained.
Essentially, we need to learn to be kinder and gentler to ourselves.
and treat ourselves the way we might treat others.

How can we be kind to ourselves at moments of "failure?"
First, aim high, but never underestimate the difficulty of the undertaking.
Every quest has its pitfalls and many skirmishes and battles are lost
before winning a war. When we are wounded by a "defeat",
we need some kind words for ourselves.

It is important to remember that these are our own private battles,
where each of us is the General.
We set the goals, we know our weaknesses.
Our strategy must include a way to handle temporary setbacks,
but if we keep our eyes on the prize,
we will recognize any defeat is temporary,
and that we will ultimately reach our goals.

 Take small steps and be gentle with yourself about weight-loss.

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Existing Comments:

On Jun 25, 2011 Karen925 wrote:
What I found challenging, in the beginning particularly, is knowing if I needed to stay on plan (preserve) or modify my plan. How much time is enough time? I think with women with hormonal cycles this can be quite a while.

On Jun 25, 2011 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi Karen. I think "how much time" varies a lot between individuals, and each of us must determine it for ourselves. For myself, my plan seems to be to change part of my plans often, but no matter what food plan I might try, I consistently record my food and keep my calories as low as I can reasonably tolerate.

On Jun 29, 2011 older/wiser wrote:
I agree,small steps are the only way to "grow" new habits. We all get so hung up on quick this and fast that... I think we all need to stop, take a deep breath and remember that how much we weigh is not who we are. I am a caring,loving, concerned woman no matter what my weight. Thanks for keeping the blog going!

On Jun 29, 2011 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi older/wiser. Thanks. It is good to see you here, and I look forward to getting to know you better.

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