Negative self-talk… the continual conversations we have with ourselves, the things we say inside our minds and tell ourselves on a daily basis. It’s constantly going on in our heads and brought out in conversation with friends and family, often without even realising it. If you can become more mindful of your self talk and learn how to control it, this can have a hugely positive impact on your health goals and ability to get in shape.
How does negative self-talk affect our wellness?
I was reminded this week how much we constantly self-talk, and how this can impact our health, especially when it comes to losing weight and sticking to dietary changes. I was in a consultation wth one of my clients and several times she said to me… “I need some chocolate every night!” (A big emphasis was placed on need)! There were also other comments like… “why am I so rubbish that I just can’t lose this half a stone” or “I just can’t stick to anything.” It was only when I pointed out to her the way she talks to herself, and tells herself that she can’t do it and neeeeeeds chocolate every night that she realised her own self-talk. Keep telling yourself you need chocolate, you’re overweight, you’re rubbish, you can’t stick to anything…. and that’s surely what will continue to happen!
Our subsconsious minds, the part of our brains that stores memories, like repetition. Tell it something over and over again and it believes it, it becomes part of who you are…
Turn your self-talk into positive outcomes: A big part of my work as a nutritional therapist is to coach my clients to success, helping you to put into practice the recommendations I make and lead you to optimum wellness. I can give you all the nutritional knowledge in the world, but without the practical steps and coaching on how to achieve these recommendations, I might as well be talking to a brick wall!
As a trained NLP practitioner, I often have to pull up my clients on how they talk to themselves, and here are some top tips on how to control your negative self-talk and reframe it into positive outcomes:
Tell friends and family to keep an eye on how you describe yourself: It can be incredibly revealing when someone makes you aware of the way you describe yourself. We want to hear more about how you can do something, not about how you can’t.
What do you tell yourself you need, and do you really need it? I hear people positively convincing themselves of things they need, without actually questioning whether this is true? For example:
- I need chocolate every day
- I need four coffees to wake up
- I need to treat myself with something sweet.
Instead, start to convince your subconscious mind with other daily positive affirmations about things which may have a more positive impact on your life… “I need a walk in the fresh air every day.” “I love eating healthily and listen to my body when I am full”.
Put these statements on post-it notes around your house until they become part of your daily positive self-talk. Also avoid turning your “need” statements into negative ones – eg “I don’t need chocolate every day” – as your subconsious mind doesn’t process negatives. Always choose positive statements.
Support your body’s ability to manage sweet cravings by keeping your blood sugar levels balanced: If you include plenty of protein and wholegrains in your diet, you’re less likely to crave sweet things.
Set yourself a positive, realistic and measured goal: I often hear clients afraid to set weight loss goals, because of many years of failing to succeed.
The problem is, without a goal, how do you know when you’ve succeeded?
It’s like setting out on a journey without a map (for some that might be fun, but it takes a lot longer to get anywhere!). When it comes to weight management, without a goal we often lose motivation.
That’s because as we start to lose weight, we begin to feel better – so the force driving us to lose weight in the first place is starting to disappear (eg your clothes feeling tighter, feeling lethargic… these things can quickly feel mildly better). It’s easy to then fall back into old habits. If you don’t want to set yourself a specific weight loss target, use an event that’s coming up, exercise target or new outfit as a goal…. for example:
“I am going to walk 5K within 3 months.”
“I will choose a new dress in size 14 for the wedding in 6 months.”
Make it specific and measurable, so you know when you’ve reached your target.