Imagine if you had a teacher who only ever told you when you failed at something or pointed out the things you were bad at.
Being around that person would probably make you feel extremely discouraged and tempted to give up altogether.
So why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we focus on the ways we have failed and forget to acknowledge our achievements and the ways that we have grown?
This past weekend, my husband and I competed in the Spartan Beast race. I went into it with the only "goal" I had being to finish the race, in hopefully under six hours, and to have a good time.
Perfect. Beautiful. Sounds achievable for someone who just had a baby three months ago.
The problem is...I achieved that goal--we actually finished in under five--and my first reaction was still to beat myself up.
"Well, I failed five obstacles."
"Wow, last time I was in top ten percent but this time it was top twenty."
What in the world? Talk about being your own buzzkill. Instead of being proud of what I had accomplished, my knee-jerk reaction was to emphasize my weaknesses.
This is not productive or healthy. Continuing this mindset when trying to begin or continue a healthy lifestyle will get you nowhere and will tear down your spirit.
By all means, set goals. Set challenging ones. But when we come down unnecessarily hard on ourselves for not meeting those goals, or for failing a time or two, or twenty, on the way to reaching those goals, we become our own obstacle.
Celebrate your successes! Even the tiny ones. The time you wanted to eat chocolate at two in the morning when everyone was asleep, and you "earned" it because you just finished breastfeeding your little one but you DIDN'T eat it? Celebrate it!
I'm not talking throw yourself a party with a mariachi band and open bar (although that WOULD be motivational) but think to yourself, "I just made a great decision for my health; that was a good use of self-control."
That day you went for a run even though you really wanted to take a nap, think to yourself, "I am getting healthier today than I was yesterday."
This type of thinking will help you get much farther on your health journey than beating yourself up over slip-ups will. Appreciate what you do well, then work on what you need to improve on.
This weekend, when I caught myself focusing on the areas I viewed as "failures," I was able to realize how ridiculous I was being and quickly shut it down.
I flipped my thinking, got over myself, and enjoyed an amazing race weekend with my loving husband and our wonderful friends. We celebrated our successes with some good brews and funny stories.
We focused on what we kicked ass at and no one made a big deal about failing a rope climb or the number of people who finished ahead of us.
For the time, we celebrated our strengths and filed away what we need to work on for future races.
Throughout your fitness journey, take time to acknowledge the positive actions you take toward your goals and resist the urge to get caught up in your slip-ups!