Weight Loss Support - The Words We Use




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suechef
12-27-2006, 11:44 AM
Reading the posts here I am struck by the language many of us use as we undertake this weight loss journey. We often use moralistic language and harsh, judgemental words. Perhaps it is time to consider the words we use and how those words affect our mental state, and perhaps find ways to rephrase things that aren't so harsh and damaging to our psyches.

"I was bad today". When you were little and someone told you you were bad, how did that make you feel? Probably terrible. Perhaps like you were worthless. But when we say we were "bad", we really only mean that we ate foods that weren't particularly healthy for us, or didn't contribute to our goal of health. It is not the end of the world, it just means that at that moment in time we didn't take the best care of ourselves.

"I didn't eat the way I am supposed to eat". Can we rephrase that to, "I didn't make a healthy choice". Because who says what we are "supposed" to eat? It's as if there's someone out there handing out grades. There isn't.

"I ate clean today". The implication is that other days one eats... dirty? Unclean? There is a strong element of moralistic judgement here. But it's just food. There are foods which are nutritious and foods which are not so nutritious, but "good" and "bad" are strongly moral judgements.

There are many other examples but I need to get down to the gym so I'll wrap it up.

When we use language this way we wind up flogging ourselves, feeding feelings of guilt, passing judgement and punishing ourselves. If we eat "bad" food then we seem to extrapolate that to mean that WE are bad. But eating less-healthy food does not make us BAD PEOPLE. It just means that we made choices that were inconsistent with our goals. We were not as kind to ourselves as we might have been.

Instead of letting it bring us down, we can welcome that experience as a learning opportunity: you can look at what you ate, why you ate it, and think about what you can learn from this and apply that knowledge to how you eat today.

Today, try to have some compassion for yourselves. Know that you won't be perfect. Everyone in this world struggles with something, and some days we take better care of ourselves than others. Yesterday is over, and right now we can't do anything about tomorrow - all we can do is do our best today, in this very moment. At the end of the day, think about how things went, and what you might learn from your experience, and how you might apply what you've learned to tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day everyone.
Sue


alinnell
12-27-2006, 12:42 PM
Today, try to have some compassion for yourselves. Know that you won't be perfect. Everyone in this world struggles with something, and some days we take better care of ourselves than others. Yesterday is over, and right now we can't do anything about tomorrow - all we can do is do our best today, in this very moment. At the end of the day, think about how things went, and what you might learn from your experience, and how you might apply what you've learned to tomorrow.

Amen to that! Beating yourself up rarely accomplishes anything. Be positive and you will see positive results!

jillybean720
12-27-2006, 12:44 PM
I don't take much issue with the examples provided in the initial post here, probably simply because I don't feel that we think that much about what we are writing when we're here. When I say I was "bad," I usually mean it almost sarcastically, knowing all well that I can improve upon that behavior. It certainly doesn't make me feel worthless as it might have when I was 5.

In any case, one thing I DO hate to read from people on here is how self-depricating we can be about our physical selves. Nothing frustrates me more than someone speaking (seriously, not sarcastically or jokingly) about how horrible they look, how ugly they are, how disgusting such-and-such a body part of theirs is, etc. Reading such things makes me want to smack that person and yell at them to appreciate what they DO have and what they ARE capable of. It certainly doesn't make me want to coddle them or support their feelings of physical unworthiness--rather, it makes me want to say, "Hey, there are LOTS of people much worse off than you, so stop whining and focus on what you can do to improve your situation rather than just focusing on all the negativity!"

I'm convinced that the battle of weight loss is 99% mental, and with such a negative outlook and such degrading terms tossed around so carelessly, how could one expect to succeed?


teahoney
12-27-2006, 01:59 PM
The thing is jilly, when you say you are bad you are being sarcastic. Unfortunately, most here are not. That is evidenced by how they continue to talk about themselves. There are some here that I have never heard a positive word about in regards to themselves. That is so sad.

I wholeheartedly agree that we need to analyze the way we speak, the language we use, and see if it is self defeating. And we really do need to learn to love ourselves, just as we are, right at this moment. It will make a huge difference in how we treat ourselves. Honestly, we are not going to do good things for a bad person.

suechef
12-27-2006, 02:26 PM
You're right, teahoney - and I also think that often when we think we're joking deep down there is an element of truth to it. Otherwise, why would it even occur to you to use that sort of language? There's a kernel of truth in there somewhere, even if you do in fact know, intellectually, that you're not "bad".

As for loving oneself - I think for a lot of people they hear that and it's utterly, literally unbelievable. I know there was a time in my life (that lasted about 20 years! lol) where the notion of "loving myself" was some sort of Pollyanna concept that people just kind of made up. I didn't believe it was possible. I didn't hate myself, but I sure didn't see a lot to love.

Physical and mental health go hand in hand, and the more we take care of our minds, the better care we'll take of our bodies, and vice versa. Now that I'm closest to my healthiest weight I'm much less interested in how I'm looking in clothes than I am in, "okay, now I'm pretty fit - what can I do now that I've been avoiding for a long time? What are the possibilities?" (and this morning, after my run, I finally picked up a basketball - which I played as a teen & was very good at, then wrecked my knees & potential career & a piece of my heart - and just goofed around on the court, utterly absorbed in the pleasure of it.

cheers,
Sue

MariaMaria
12-27-2006, 02:57 PM
"I didn't eat the way I am supposed to eat". Can we rephrase that to, "I didn't make a healthy choice". Because who says what we are "supposed" to eat? It's as if there's someone out there handing out grades. There isn't.

Huh? There's no one handing out grades, but there IS a scale or a pair of size 18 or 10 or 4 jeans or a set of weights or another mile of WATP or a new week of the C25K or, well, whatever.

Where you're seeing self-judgement ("I'm bad because I ate ___") I'll bet some of the rest of us are seeing self-sabotage ("what I ate interfered with my goals").

jillybean720
12-27-2006, 03:02 PM
I don't know...I guess I just don't see quite the same issue. Most of the time, when I see people refer to themselves as "bad" (or insert other negative behaioral adjective here), it's in a context more like, "I was so bad yesterday, but I'll do better today!" Again, I agree that it's important to have a positive outlook and a positive perspective, but when I (and I'm assuming others) term my behavior in a negative way, it's because I know that behavior needs to change. If I pig out one day and don't think of it as needing improvement, then why would I change it?

I think some of it comes down to us all being different and having different perspectives and understanding. So, to anyone who is offended by my use of terms like "bad," "clean," or "supposed," I apologize, but if I don't term my poor behaviors in a negative way (and, likewise, my improved behaviors in a positive way), then I won't think of them as something I need to change (or continue, as the case may be). I guess I just don't see much difference between, "I was bad yesterday," and, "I didn't make a healthy choice yesterday." In my mind, they mean the same thing, and when we write, "I was bad," we know we are referring to our lifestlye change habits (i.e., diet and/or exercise), not saying, "I was a horrible and worthless human being yesterday because I had a cupcake." "I was bad," means I did something bad, not that I am bad.

I'm really not trying to be argumentative--just, I guess, trying to point out that not only does our language need to not be negative, but also perhaps our perception/understanding of what others say needs to be a bit broader than in person since there is so much less communication happening in writing than in person (e.g., lack of vocal inflection, body language, etc.).

And I'm certainly not saying that there aren't some VERY negative people, because there are, but I don't think it's the majority. I think 3FC is one of the most POSITIVE and supportive groups I've ever encountered. Don't let a few rotten apples spoil the whole orchard :^:

I'll stop now since my opinion is quite obviously in the minority here, but I just wanted to point out that certain words don't necessarily carry such a harsh connotation to everyone.

Honestly, if anything, aside from people speaking poorly of their physical features, my biggest pet peeve is people not knowing how to correctly spell simple words (and I don't mean typos...I mean constantly spelling the same basic words incorrectly)...but that's what I get for being a Technical Writer/Editor :p

Jen415
12-27-2006, 03:09 PM
Unfortunately, the written word (especially on the 'Net) is hard to interpret without intonation or inflection. I know Jill well enough from her writing and some private conversations to know what she means by "bad". That being said, I tend to agree with Tracey--there are many folks on here that write negatively about themselves, whether it be in a self-depricating humorous way, or really saying how they truly feel about themselves.

Unless we ask someone directly, it is hard to figure out how they REALLY feel about things when we read them here.

Sue's post is a good reminder that, in order to reach our goals, our inner dialogue needs to be positive and uplifting.

jillybean720
12-27-2006, 05:41 PM
heh, I guess I don't know how to accurately articulate the point I'm trying convey, since even those who seem to disagree with me don't seem to really be debating it exactly. In any case, I agreed about a million times that we need to stay positive, so we can all just agree to agree about that ;)

rockinrobin
12-27-2006, 05:52 PM
Okay I think we can all agree that staying positive about oneself is a well positive thing, but I gotta admit when my mom or someone asks me how's the eating going I'll say I've been really, really good or oh boy I've been real bad lately. But I know that doesn't mean that I'M bad or okay that I"M good for that matter, it's purely in reference to how I've been eating. And I do have my ummm bad days and my good days.

PerthChick
12-27-2006, 06:28 PM
Hi Sue

On some levels I can see what you're trying to say here. The issue around whether you are your own biggest critic or cheer leader is a big one. I suspect that most women have a lot of both inside them - but we didn't put on extra weight by feeling good about ourselves.

To argue that we need to use language in a positive way implies a lot of assumptions, yet the women in here who are trying to lose weight are really diverse. Areas such as language barriers, education, cultural differences and levels of self-awareness are just a few that spring to mind. Not to mention the individual circumstances that everyone lives with.

I agree that when you use negative self-talk you are reinforcing negative stuff. But how basic do you want to go? If you want to get right down to it, the concept of *losing* weight is negative. I once heard an American weight-loss guru argue that terms like "*lose* weight" and "diet" should be scrapped - because by their accepted meanings they imply that we are giving up something and depriving ourselves.

It's a good issue to raise, and might challenge some people to think about the way they see themselves.

:-)
Ani

callystia
12-27-2006, 06:36 PM
Personally, I find that I need negative reinforcement. If I "love myself" the way I am, it's far too easy to begin that slide into complacency and either stop losing or regain--it's one of the reasons I was so big for so long.

I hate being fat and I don't want to stay that way; therefore when I slip and engage in behaviors that will keep me there, I berate myself in order to be reminded of the many consequences of poor eating. The world is not kind to fat women; why should I be kind to myself for being one?

rockinrobin
12-27-2006, 07:06 PM
I know exactly what you mean Cally. If we didn't look as "bad" as we did being so overweight we would probably have less desire to actually lose the weight. Of course the most important benefit to losing weight is health issues, so it really is almost a blessing that we are unhappy with the way we LOOK being so overweight which will then prompt us to lose the weight and thereby getting healthy.

And for me I didn't finally decide to do something about my weight until I was totally disgusted with myself, yes disgusted.

teahoney
12-27-2006, 07:27 PM
Okay, perhaps my post came off argumentative (although I'm still trying to figure out how, that was in no way my intention, just stating my opinion).

I should say that I don't have a problem with the statements that the original poster used in general. It is one thing to hate the way you look and a whole other can of worms to hate yourself as a person. There are those that seem to truly see themselves as bad people because they are overweight or because they made a bad food choice that day. Speaking for myself, I don't think that every person that says "I did bad today" hates themselves. Absolutely not. And like I said, in general, I don't have a problem with the term. But for some, it seems everything that comes out of their mouth is negative about themselves. I wish I could think of an example but I'm drawing a blank right now.

Anyway, just felt the need to clarify a little although I might not have even done a good job at it. I'm not trying to start something but I can definitely see the point of the original poster.

suechef
12-27-2006, 07:52 PM
So, to anyone who is offended by my use of terms like "bad," "clean," or "supposed," I apologize,

I am not offended by those words, far from it. I just think they sound a bit harsh. It's a long hard journey and I think we need to be more gentle with ourselves. Agreed, everyone is different. I just feel bad when I see what I perceive to be people being really hard on themselves, but perhaps I'm misreading the situation. For me, when I have a day when I ate more than I needed to, I try to take it in stride and resolve to eat healthier the next day, rather than feeling bad about it.

cheers,
Sue

suechef
12-27-2006, 07:58 PM
. I once heard an American weight-loss guru argue that terms like "*lose* weight" and "diet" should be scrapped - because by their accepted meanings they imply that we are giving up something and depriving ourselves.

When people ask me if I'm trying to lose weight I generally say what I'm trying to do is get fit, which to me is about more than losing the weight. Also, although "losing" generally has a negative connotation, and people think about deprivation, I think of it as the opposite of deprivation - I think being out of shape and overweight deprives me of a lot of life's pleasures, so I turn it around to be not about giving something up, but giving myself a gift.

cheerio,
Sue

suechef
12-27-2006, 08:05 PM
Once last thought, for the record - I'm not under the impression that everyone who says "I was bad today" hates themselves (although my post was spurred by reading a thread in which a young women was saying terrible things about herself). I do understand it's largely just an expression. But I also think that it doesn't feed a positive state of mind. I'm not telling anyone they mustn't say it, just suggesting that it's worth thinking about.
cheers,
Sue

teahoney
12-27-2006, 08:09 PM
For what it's worth sue, I understood what you were getting at.

MissH
12-27-2006, 08:14 PM
Personally, I find that I need negative reinforcement. If I "love myself" the way I am, it's far too easy to begin that slide into complacency and either stop losing or regain--it's one of the reasons I was so big for so long.

I hate being fat and I don't want to stay that way; therefore when I slip and engage in behaviors that will keep me there, I berate myself in order to be reminded of the many consequences of poor eating. The world is not kind to fat women; why should I be kind to myself for being one?
IAWTC.

jillybean720
12-27-2006, 09:24 PM
IAWTC.
Not to go off topic, but...huh? :dizzy:

Luminous
12-27-2006, 09:30 PM
I had to look it up myself. :p

"I Agree With This Comment"

Maybe it's a different way of saying QFT.

jillybean720
12-27-2006, 09:32 PM
Maybe it's a different way of saying QFT.
ha, I have no idea what that means, either! I'm a big fan of using full, real words :p

MissH
12-27-2006, 10:48 PM
I had to look it up myself. :p

"I Agree With This Comment"

Maybe it's a different way of saying QFT.

Luminous is correct. Although, I have no idea what QFT means. LOL

mrainy
12-28-2006, 12:49 AM
Coming at this from a little different angle, I feel a bit uncomfortable when co-workers, etc say, "Oh, you're being so good." Well, then, what was I before? Bad, it seems. It feels like a moral judgment about my food choices. To me it feels a little weird to be involuntarily earning the approval or disapproval of others for something that just isn't any of their business.

I guess I'd feel like a modern generation child if someone said to me, "My, what good food choices you're making!", LOL :D Actually, "You're doing so good!", really means something different to me than 'You're being so good." picky, picky

Rainy

KnitALisa
12-28-2006, 12:49 AM
Personally, I find that I need negative reinforcement. If I "love myself" the way I am, it's far too easy to begin that slide into complacency and either stop losing or regain--it's one of the reasons I was so big for so long.

Same here. And in that I have had to shift the way my thoughts are worded. I don't frantically try to convince myself that I love me exactly like I am. Cause I don't and it's not all about the fat. Sometimes I'm so anal-retentive that I drive myself crazy! I have to correct Christmas letter's grammatical mistakes. In pen. Sometimes I can be mean and cranky without a clue as to why I'm in a bad mood. (I'm such a Virgo! ;))

So I've shifted it to this: I love myself enough to do this for me. I love myself enough to pay attention to me and to prevent obesity-related illnesses. I love myself enough to not behave in a self-destructive manner and to try and make myself a better person; to transform myself into a happier and healthier version of myself.

Oy. Sorry about the length. Did I mention I can also be chatty and wordy to the extreme? ;)

MissH
12-28-2006, 01:04 AM
Coming at this from a little different angle, I feel a bit uncomfortable when co-workers, etc say, "Oh, you're being so good." Well, then, what was I before? Bad, it seems. It feels like a moral judgment about my food choices. To me it feels a little weird to be involuntarily earning the approval or disapproval of others for something that just isn't any of their business.
mrainy, when people feel the need to comment on what you're eating, it's really more of a reflection of their guilt. If you are making healthy choices, you will often find that some people actually feel guilty that they themselves can't seem to make healthy choices, so they will say things to you.

denice81
12-28-2006, 03:14 AM
I generally agree with most of the previous posters - these phrases dont bother me. The exception to this is the few members who do not realize that this is set up to be a positive support network, not a self-bashing forum (which is sounds like the original poster incountered a post of). I think most of us use these terms as more of an evaluation of our day, not a judgement on ourselves.

rockinrobin
12-28-2006, 06:35 AM
IAWTC? QFT? I'm sorry but I no speak that language? I'm in need of a translator. :D I finally figured out what LMAO meant, with a little help from my kids that is.

callystia
12-28-2006, 06:43 AM
Apparently, QFT means "quoted for truth". Which is somewhat similar to my original guess of "quite ******* true", haha.

healthytoad
12-28-2006, 09:11 AM
callystia, I like your meanng better lol

Luminous
12-28-2006, 10:05 AM
Whiskey tango foxtrot!

You wouldn't believe the mountains of acronym lingo and stupid phrases I absorb while avoiding work! :D Internet is teh evul. Or da debil, depending on where you hang out.

Okay, I'll stop now. Promise.