I had an interesting conversation with a coaching client last week. We were discussing her desired weight goal, and that the difference between success and failure would be her level of commitment. I suggested that her level of commitment would be driven by the strength of her relationship with herself, and then I asked her to tell me about the quality of that relationship. The question confused her initially because, admittedly, she had never given thought to the fact that she even had a relationship with herself. Like many of us, we think of a relationship in terms of a connection with another person, and we can be committed to another person in ways we would never dream of being committed to ourselves. The truth is we all have a relationship with ourselves, whether we realize it or not. Our relationship with ourselves drives how successful we will be when we tell ourselves we are going to do something. It will determine how we allow other people to treat us and what we will tolerate. And as it relates to weight loss, it will determine our level of commitment to the process, and ultimately our success or failure.
I would argue that the relationship with ourselves is the single most important relationship we will ever have, and the quality of that relationship is solely our responsibility. And most importantly, the relationship with yourself can begin to improve merely with the recognition that improvement is needed. If I had to place a wager, I would bet every time that people who are overweight or obese have a good bit of work to do on their relationship with themselves. I include my former self in the description, because until I worked on my relationship with myself, my commitment to things was definitely fleeting. As was the case personally, I would also bet that a failure to address the issue of relationship with self prior to, or in conjunction with, a weight loss plan, will likely result in a failure of any weight loss plan.
As I continued to coach my client, I asked her to consider herself as a separate person when she evaluated the quality of her relationship with herself, and I asked her a series of questions.
If she were, say, a girlfriend by the name of Sally, how well does she think she treats Sally? If she made a commitment to Sally, would she keep the commitment or would she back out on Sally at the last minute? The answer was she was putting Sally last all the time. She said YES to everyone else, so whenever Sally had a need she felt she had to say NO. She treated Sally with disrespect. She actually didn’t even like Sally all that much, and Sally could feel the fact that she wasn’t liked, loved or respected. It’s no wonder Sally didn’t trust her, and didn’t really believe a world that came out of her mouth. She had disappointed Sally over and over again, and as a result, her relationship with Sally wasn’t a very good one.
The conversation continued for a while with a discussion of the different ways she showed up for the other people in her life. Like many of us ladies, she was fully committed to all her other relationships and doing her best at all times for those “others,” but her relationship with Sally was an entirely different matter. It was a pivotal session for my client because she experienced the realization that if she didn’t improve her relationship with herself, she would never have the level of commitment needed to make her health a priority and take the action necessary to succeed and meet her goals.
What would you do if you had a relationship with someone who treated you like that? What would you advise a loved one if they found themselves in a relationship with someone who treated them so poorly? And most importantly, if you honestly evaluated your relationship with yourself in the manner described above, what would you learn? Would you come to realize that you don’t treat yourself very well at all, and that you don’t make yourself a priority?
The challenge lies in redefining your relationship with yourself, and with others, so that you are able to prioritize your own needs and desires. I’m not recommending that you abandon your work and parenting responsibilities whatsoever, so please do not misunderstand me. This is more an issue of balancing out the competing demands and making sure your own needs and desires are met. I am asking you to recognize that in order to have a good relationship with yourself, and to set the tone for how you expect to be treated in relationships with other people, you have to say YES to yourself on the important stuff like health and longevity, even if it means saying NO to others at times. But, how do you start saying NO when you are so used to saying YES to everyone but yourself?
The solution is simple, yet at the same time, very hard. You must learn to say NO so that there is sufficient time to say YES to yourself. As part of my 6-week weight loss program, clients incorporate solutions to the three different components of weight loss that must be effectively managed to sustain a healthy body weight – food and drink intake, exercise, and stress management techniques. Additionally, clients will take time to plan what they will do in the upcoming week, in consideration of other responsibilities they must schedule around, to manage those three areas. Clients understand that they must be 100% committed and “All In” to accomplish their goals. Once their plan is set for the week, they do not make exceptions (barring a true emergency, of course) for any reason. Clients recognize that in the past they have not planned at all, or have cancelled their plans for themselves for things far less significant than a true emergency. In the course of the program, clients learn to respect the commitments they make to themselves, improve their relationship with themselves, and, finally, to just say NO so that they can say YES to themselves. Please evaluate your relationship with yourself, and decide whether your relationship with yourself might be holding you back from achieving those goals!
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