(Let me explain. I forgot to mention a while back (at least I think I forgot?!) that Heather asked me if I wanted to create a post for Heathly Living Blogs on the topic of “Healthy Living Freed Me From…” I said OF COURSE a) because I love writing about this topic and b) because I love Heather & HLB. Here is said post.)
I struggled with negative self-talk, negative body image and negative thoughts for many years. I was an active child but puberty really screwed with my head, and thus, my body. I spent many years after that sedentary, sad and surly. “Why couldn’t I just be like “everyone else?” Why do I suck? Why couldn’t I be skinny? Why am I going to be like this forever?”
It wasn’t until college that I changed my eating and exercise habits. Honestly, losing 40 pounds and learning to love exercise was much easier than changing my brain. Shocker, I know. I’ve spent the last 5 years figuring out how I can remove the body bashing and negative thoughts and replace them with a positive perspective. In late 2010, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had even more of a reason. I truly believe what you think is just as (if not MORE) important than what you eat, drink and how you move your body because you can never, ever tune out your mind completely. Learning this has been one of my greatest feats. (See what I did there?).
I can’t recall where I read or learned this, but one trick that really stuck with me was when you start to recognize that negative voice – name it. Literally, name the voice. By naming the voice, you recognize that it’s not actually the real you. It’s the judgmental self, the scared self, the self that’s trying to keep you from achieving your goals. Over time, you will recognize when that voice starts to pipe up.
My negative voice is named Scarlett O’Hara. That’s right.
I tried to think of the nastiest name that I could (with some style, of course) to remind me that this was not ME talking – it was just one part of the negative piece of my brain.
Sometimes she’s a serious whiner. I step in front of the mirror, and Scarlett pips up. “Your thighs look HUGE! Look at those zits? Ugh! And your hair? Blech. You are definitely not ready for that presentation. And you’re not that smart anyway, so why even bother?”
I catch Scarlett and stop. I pause. I smile into the mirror. I recognize her and say “Thanks, Scarlett. But I don’t need your opinions and input right now. I’m ready. I look great. I’m smart. Love you, goodbye.” Scarlett needs to know I’m in charge and that she can’t talk to me like that. Generally I do this in my head, but if she’s REALLY persistent that day, I do it out loud. (I try to do it in the bathroom or my car; not a public location where people might wonder why I’m talking to a 1930′s fictional movie character.)
Even the Dude (my fiancé) knows who Scarlett is. When I’m bemoaning the fact that you can see my arm flab, or I failed the test that I studied really hard for or I’m never going to get a job (usually this is all in one breath), he says “Tell Scarlett to be quiet” or “That’s just Scarlett talking.” This never fails to make me laugh or stop me in my thoughts. Oh….right. She’s back again and I can control how loud she is.
It’s certainly not easy. Some days Scarlett is MUCH louder than others – particularly, I’ve noticed – if I’m in a period where I haven’t run, worked out, practiced yoga, had too much sugar or strayed from my healthy habits. This, more than any other reason, is why exercise is so important for me. When I’m in a groove, feeling strong, moving my body, sweating – I feel strong. And when I feel strong, Scarlett is so weak.
Scarlett is perfectionism. Scarlett is fear and doubt. Scarlett is the idea that I’m not okay just as I am, or that I need to alter myself is major ways to reach this “ideal” me.
Healthy living has freed me from believing that Scarlett is right. That she tells me the truth. That she has my best interest at heart.
Because Scarlett is nothing but a crazy dramatic silly liar.