After your history with dieting, you’re like a walking encyclopedia on weight loss. Before turning to surgery, you probably read dozens of articles and book on nutrition, tried just about every big-name diet, worked out beyond exhaustion, and lost the same 50 pounds ten times over.
Yet sometimes all that knowledge and experience can work against you. Why? Because of ego.
Ego. Blech! I am not a fan of that word, ego. Does the word ego bother you, too?
Ego is complex. Sometimes, it can give you confidence and fuel your self-worth…and that’s great. But at other times it’s the know-it-all teenager inside of you. It’s the side of you that sometimes gets a bit caught up in body image. It can be the control freak in you.
Before surgery, you tried countless ways to lose weight and elevate your wellness. So many, that you may have built up a resistance to new information.
Just the other day I was doing a video spin class. The instructor was a former fashion model turned triathlete and endurance coach. She started talking about the importance of mindset in weight loss. Even though this is a topic I’m passionate about, I was resistant to her advice. My immediate thought was, “This skinny chick doesn’t have a clue how hard it is to struggle with weight.”
I know better than to think like this. After all, I’ve long talked about how ego gets in our way. So, I did a mental reset and tuned in to what she was saying. And guess what? It turns out she does know a thing or two about our struggle. While she may not have experienced obesity, she was told at one point during her modeling career that she was too big and needed to lose weight. She turned to unhealthy thinking and drastic measures to lose weight so she could maintain her career.
Even if people haven’t shared your unique struggle, there’s a good chance they have valuable advice, insight or experiences to share that can benefit you. That’s why it’s a good idea to replace any ego-fueled resistance with curiosity.
Curiosity is a beautiful thing. Instead of writing people off, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this person?”
This doesn’t mean you have to accept, believe or try what they say. It’s just being curious about a new perspective. It’s about being open minded.
One thing that helped me is to start asking questions, “How do you make that work? What challenges did you face in doing that and how did you overcome them?”
Being curious can open you up to a perspective that could have the power to change your life.
I don’t know about you, but when my ego gets unleashed, it makes countless excuses for why I might be larger or why I might be gaining weight.
...I have a slow metabolism.
...It’s my thyroid.
...Menopause has hit and my hormones are out of whack.
...Someone is sabotaging my efforts.
...It’s the holidays; I can’t possibly make changes at a time like this.
...I can’t do the movement because my knee hurts.
...I’m too busy to focus on this.
Here’s the thing about excuses: they are often grounded in some level of truth. You might truly have a slow metabolism, a thyroid issue, someone sabotaging you or an injury that gets in the way of moving your body.
But, here’s the thing. We don’t lie down in defeat when we face challenges. Nope! We find a way to work through them or around them.
If you have a medical issue, you might have to work harder to make changes than someone else. Is it fair? No! But, that doesn’t matter. You’re dealt the hand your dealt and you’ve gotta work with what you have.
You might have an injury that gets in the way of exercise. Find a workaround. What CAN you do with that injury?
One person I work with has some mobility issues. She inspires me everyday because she is figuring out what she CAN do. She’s been working at chair yoga and water aerobics. Instead of making excuses because of limiting factors, she’s uncovered the things she CAN do…no excuses!
So, no matter what excuse your ego might throw out there, look at it as a challenge and figure out how you can work with it or around it.
Yep, most of us have egos that are judgy…not necessarily of others, but of yourself.
I think so many of us can relate to Oprah Winfrey because she has been so brave to share her battle with weight in the public eye. I was reading a story where she shared that in the past her size was closely tied to her ego. She said, “I actually thought at the time that being thin made me better.” After her much publicized weight loss success in the 1980s, she chose not to attend a party Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame had invited her to because she had gained 5 pounds. In her words, she said, “I did not go to that party because I thought the five pounds made me too fat --- not good enough --- to be at Don Johnson’s party.”
Can you relate to that? Are there events you’ve skipped because you felt too big? Are there times you’ve punished yourself because you felt too large? Are there times you’ve stood in the mirror and berated yourself for how your body appears in the reflection?
The solution is acceptance
If you are constantly beating yourself up or judging yourself, your ego is probably playing the perfectionism card.
Change really begins with loving yourself. It begins with accepting yourself. Accepting yourself requires a lot of practice. It requires a major shift in your internal dialog. It requires a shift to understanding that mistakes happen.
Ego isn’t all bad. It has a positive side, too. It can fuel your confidence. It can help you love yourself as you are.
But, when it comes to rightsize living, the resistance, excuses and judgement often tied to ego are not helpful. So, work on practicing curiosity, tackling the challenge and finding self-acceptance.
In other words, drop the "e" in ego and let it go.