By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.
Iíve had over 8000 new racewalkers pass through the Beginning Racewalking classes and a good majority of them (runners included) were looking for weight loss in their exercise endeavors. Thatís what I was looking for as well when I started running back in the late 70ís. Racewalking and running are certainly great tools to help you with your weight management goals, but theyíre not enough. You think Iím going to talk about a healthy diet? Not! Thatís a registered dietitianís job.
I believe that thereís a "mind" component to our fitness, health, and body size. Weight management problems exist mostly in your mind and thatís the place youíll solve them. Exercise, low-fat and high-fiber whole grain foods, consulting with a registered dietitian and a coach or personal trainer - - - are all tools that will help you reach your goals, but they are not enough. You must create a new vision of whatís causing the weight problems and make a decision to change that faulty thinking and take some action.
What happened to you in the past is not what counts. It doesnít matter that you were fat as a child, or that you had an unhappy childhood, or that no one at home supports your weight loss. Maybe using weight as a shield was an effective tool for you at one time. Is it working for you now? If not, make a new vision and a new decision. Your history is not your destiny.
Success in managing your weight is connected to vision. The problem is that we like to visualize and talk about the negatives in our life. "My job is killing me." "I donít have any time to exercise." "I am sick to my stomach over whatís happening in the world." "My kids are driving me crazy." "I have gotten so out of shape that I hate myself."
Instead, talk about what you want to create, not what you want to get rid of. Whatever you talk about Ė youíll create more of. Thatís how our minds work. Want to have relationship problems? Talk about how there are no eligible men/women out there. Want to be unemployed? Keep talking about no good jobs out there. Want to be fatter? Talk about diets and weight problems.
Think about the words "lose weight." Lose is not a happy word. How much can you associate with "lose" and be happy? Iím going to lose my job. Iíve lost my family. Lost my home. Lost my dog. Lost my keys.
There are other negative associations for weight loss.
Iím going to lose 20 pounds.
Iím going to work on my weight.
Iím going to beat this.
I canít eat that.
Words that you associate with fear, guilt, insecurity are never going to make you successful at your goals. Instead, substitute what youíre going to gain Ė fitness, health, flexibility, strength, happiness because youíll feel good about being healthier and looking better. Reinforce yourself with a "gaining fitness" mantra instead of "losing weight" thinking. The author and motivational speaker, Alan Cohen, says, "What you resist Ė expands and persists."
Stop resisting your weight. Instead, focus on the great benefits of racewalking in making you feel better. Change whatís in your mind to more positive thoughts. Healthy living is not a quick fix. Youíre not going to "Lose all the weight you want by Easter or Passover." But once you do lose it, thereís a much better chance that you wonít gain it back . . . if you change your thinking and vision.
Your beliefs determine how much success you will experience at weight management. Believe that you can do it. Read positive, self-affirming books and literature, listen to positive-thought audio tapes (from the library) when you racewalk. Associate with positive thinking people who have the energy that you want to have. Get the help you need to make yourself successful.
Finally, don't hate yourself for your weight gain. Take the action necessary to do something about it - action both in your mind AND in your body. "When you fall in love with yourself youíll be irresistible to everyone else."