You cannot trust yourself until you love yourself

Photo credit: National Geographic

Photo credit: National Geographic

By Ari Snaevarsson, Features Editor

This is going to be a bit of a breakaway from my M.O. here, but I think at the root of all matters related to weight loss and diet adherence lies an inner battle that takes place beneath our conscious awareness.  You see, a major roadblock in most dieting efforts or other goals is the voice in our head that continuously finds reasons why this challenge is not conquerable; you are not strong enough; your support system is inadequate; your knowledge is still too limited; or all of the above.  This type of thinking quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as we succumb to the defeatist internal dialogue and throw in the towel.

And so ultimately, when we fail on our weight loss goals or other various journeys of self-improvement, it is not because of any external impeding forces at play.  It is not because the boss assigned you a different work schedule, or because the grocery store stopped selling that one cheap brand of chicken breast, or simply because we were suddenly flooded with busy work and will “get to it once things ease up.”  No, there is always a mediator between those factors and your end response.  This is what we call perception, and it is through the manipulation of this that we can go about ensuring we are making decisions that are more informed and conducive to our goals.

In fact, it is estimated that, out of all the sensory information we are provided at any given time, the amount we perceive is closer to 0% than 1% (if this kind of stuff interests you, I recommend the film People v. The State of Illusion).  That thought is one of the predominating thoughts that comforts me in times of stress.  It gives some context to your thoughts in the moment, helping you understand that what you are responding to is only a trivial fraction of what sensory information is actually there in any given moment.

The value of self-love

So, I want to make the assertion that until you are working from a frame of self-appreciation, you must remain vigilant in choosing what thoughts of yours to trust and, eventually, act on.  Take the example of a college-age female who has been struggling in her relationship with food, however that may play out.  The trigger most directly linked to every act of disordered eating or “compensating” will be the thoughts generated by the unhealthy frame of mind that is ultimately responsible for her eating/body image problems.

What this mindset is will of course be highly variable between individuals, but let us say for our example female, these stem from a mindset that she is not worth much, and therefore is not worth a self-respecting diet or a fulfilling life free from this compulsive behavior.  As such, the root problem behind this all is, ironically enough, her overly trustworthy attitude towards her corrupted thought process (to no fault of her own, I should add).  Invariably, she is trusting the credibility of thoughts that “it has been two days and I have not lost any weight on this diet, so I should just give up now” or “my eating problems are my own to face and so asking for help would just be a waste of others’ time.”

What is required here (the how’s of which are a topic for another time) is a mindful pause when such thoughts arise.  It is vital, then, to stop and ask ourselves where these thoughts originate and whether or not they will make us happier in the long run.  This is not a one-and-done process, mind you; we have deeply ingrained patterns of thinking that are not easily “willed away.”

Go forth and be mindful

To wrap this up, here is the message I would like you to walk away from this article with: if you are trapped in the vicious cycle of negative thinking and find yourself unable to stick to your goals, consider whether the trust you place in your own thoughts is well-founded.

When you do find yourself seeing these thoughts for what they are and now must measure them up to some more sound criteria, keep this in mind: you are worthy of a lifestyle that demonstrates self-love; no one but you has any right to decide what you are worth and what you are capable of; oftentimes the harder decisions yield the most profound rewards, but not always; and when in doubt, slow down and breathe.  That is all for now.  Have a great week, everyone.

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Author: Ari Snaevarsson

Ari Snaevarsson '17 is a Health Sciences major and Religious Studies minor, and he is the Features Editor of The Gettysburgian. He competes in bodybuilding and powerlifting and has an immense passion for dissecting the habit psychology at play in people's dieting attempts. Outside of reading and bedroom DJ-ing, he has previously maintained a health/fitness blog that also followed nutrition news, No Fluff Strength.

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