There are certain messages and personal habits that can confuse us and get us off our path if we are not careful.
- Media Messages
- Habits that are near and dear to us
- Physical restrictions
- Emotional issues
I wanted to talk today, at the beginning of the year, about how difficult it can be when we constantly hear inconsistent and contradictory messages. The media in the form of television, radio, and Internet advertisements scream at us to eat the “value meals,” drink the high calorie coffees and energy drinks, and indulge ourselves just because we can.
The truth is, when we decide to get to a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet, we are bucking societal norms. The media further confuses us by also telling us that all women should be a size zero or 2 like a supermodel, and that being a normal-sized woman is not perfection.
It is definitely a mixed message. Eat what you want but don’t get fat. Indulge in all sorts of “delicious” foods, but stay a size extra small.
How in the world can we be successful at our quest when we are constantly hearing mixed messages? It is not an easy task.
One option would be to shut down your Internet, don’t watch any commercials on television, and ignore the opinions of well-meaning friends who try to sway you from your plan. As appealing as that might sound, truthfully, there really isn’t a way to completely get away from advertising because there are messages everywhere.
Shutting yourself off isn’t really possible, and even if it were, that’s not reality. In order to really learn how to embrace a healthier lifestyle and meet our goals, we need to learn to discern those inherently false messages from the truth.
There was a time when I was morbidly obese that I truly believed that “low-fat” or “fat-free” on the label meant you can have it all because this food in this box or can must be healthy and appropriate for weight loss. I learned the hard way that that particular message on those boxed foods was false, and that fat-free doesn’t usually mean calorie-free.
My final weight loss attempt was different in that I decided what my own goals would be and ignored what society said about my “ideal” size. I set goals based on my personal desires, and developed a weight loss plan that was doable, realistic, and perhaps most importantly of all, sustainable.
When trying to lose weight, you are also setting yourself apart from the 66 percent of Americans who are either overweight or obese. When you choose to exercise while the majority of your friends and family don’t, you are saying, “I’ve got different goals than you, and I am no longer trying to be a normal American. Instead, I’m bucking the trend and getting healthy for me.”
It is often an uncomfortable feeling to stand up for yourself and say to friends, “I’m not going to order the number five combo with a Coke today,” or “No, I will not eat all that fried food on the Chinese buffet today,” or even, “Yes, I am going to exercise so we will have to reschedule our lunch date.”
Ignoring the messages from friends and the media takes courage and conviction and commitment.
I have known a lot of people who criticized me for being consistent with my six day a week exercise program. They chided me that that many days was unnecessary and just three would do. Ironically, those were also the people who were relatively unfit and likely would have found walking a few miles difficult.
I stoically ignored people who tried to push desserts on me at church socials, and I changed the channel when the television told me I should be making brownies!
Standing firm on my own convictions of what was right has served me well. Going against the norms of society time after time gave me the courage to keep standing up for myself. The messages I heard were often times false and not encouraging. But the messages I was telling myself were positive and true. The interesting thing is that over time, some of those same friends who scoffed at some of my decisions were the very friends who ended up changing their own lifestyles because of my example. Little by little we can not only make changes for ourselves that go against the tide, but we can also help change society.
How do you stay firm in the face of mixed messages or critical people? Diane