The "When I look like X" or "When I weigh X" then "I will feel Y" and "do Y" philosophy of life is way too common; it is (at best) unproductive, and more typically it is emotionally and physically destructive.
Life is short. Live now. Do it. Not in a shoe commercial kind of way, but in a "what you do today creates a ripple effect that impacts your future"kind of way.
Too often we get in our own way; by listening to what I call "negative brain propaganda" (toxic thoughts) we act counterproductively.
One such counterproductive thought is that we have to be a certain "type" of person before acting the way that "type" of person would act. You know what I am talking about: "I will wear athletic clothing when I am fit." "I will go to the gym when I am healthier." "I will be self-confident when I am thin." "I will be happy when I have the perfect job." "I will know I am beautiful when I have a partner who believes I am beautiful."
Flip that mindset!
Act in the way you want your future self to feel.
Act like a fit person to increase your fitness. Go to the gym so you become a gym rat. Work on being happy so you can create opportunities to find or create the job you want. Tell yourself "I am enough." Learn through experiences to love yourself. Love yourself so you can form a healthy mutually loving relationship with a partner.
Yes, of course, the more motivated you feel and the more self-trust and self-esteem you have, the easier it will be to galvanize productive action (for example, going to the gym), but "acting" and "doing" also create motivation, self-trust, and self-esteem.
The arrows go both ways.
Motivation / self-trust / self-esteem inspire action and action builds motivation / self-trust / self-esteem.
Play a game
Fill in the following statements:
When I lose weight, I will feel X.
When I lose weight, I will do X.
When I lose weight, I will go X.
Now ... take out the "when I lose weight." Let's start working on the feelings, actions, and places you want to feel, do, and go!
Stop conflating weight with happiness. That is a dangerous game. I know it well. I was an overweight and very unhappy teenager. I thought, if only I were thin I would be happy — I would wear a bathing suit; I would love myself. A few years ago I woke up and realized, I was fit. I looked like the Kathleen my teenage self had dreamed about, but I was still not wearing a bathing suit, not loving myself, not feeling good in my own skin, and not really feeling joy. So, I made it my mission to work on my feelings and actions. I promised myself that when I woke up "feeling fat" I would say, "Kathleen, fat is not an emotion. What are you really feeling? Sad? Lonely? Bored?" Then, I would address those emotions and celebrate what my body could do rather than being frustrated with anything it couldn't do or the celebrity it didn't resemble.
Ask yourself what your search for weight loss is actually a search for. Try to figure out what you want ... what you really, really want. Are you sad? Lonely? Bored? Frustrated? Resentful? Work on those emotions.
Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not arguing weight loss is never an appropriate goal. If you need to lose weight for health reasons — if you're not within a healthy range — obviously make that ONE OF YOUR goals.
All I am saying is, work on your overall health; don't put your life and happiness on hold until you achieve your elusive end weight goal, don't conflate weight and health (you can be thin and unhealthy), and work on your body because you love yourself not because you hate yourself. LIVE NOW. Life is short. Plus, the happier you are — and the more daily joy you experience — the more motivated you will be to move and be active.
The main take-away is that you shouldn't wait until you look and feel like some preconceived notion of beauty or success to live your life! The only moment we have true control over is now. If you live in "tomorrow time" — i.e., put off until tomorrow being who you want to be today — you will never be anyone but who you are today. Act now, not tomorrow; strive to trend positive with your health. Aim to make healthier choices this month than last month.
A few tips to help you "trend positive"
- Lighten-up. Don't take working out so seriously. If you're not a gym person, join a sports team, dance, or take your dog for a walk.
- Find the fun in life. Don't let food be your only source of pleasure. Of course you are going to grab potato chips if you have no other sources of joy. Do things you love. Schedule events with friends and family. Schedule a vacation.
- When you do eat, eat delicious food. Savour it.
- Don't eat mindlessly. Pay attention to what you are eating — and why you are eating. Are you sad? Bored? Acknowledge and work to deal with the emotion. Take care of the deeper "hunger" — the hunger for the emotion you are seeking. With awareness brings choice. You can't choose to make better choices if you don't know what you are doing.