Have you ever berated yourself for failing to meet your health goals and then given up?
One of my nutrition goals is to eat at least 2-3 servings of colorful vegetables every day. When I meet that goal, I definitely have fewer problems with digestion and I know that eating a variety of vegetables can reduce my risk for certain types of cancer and improve my cardiovascular health.
But still I don’t always meet the goal.
Another goal I have is to limit my consumption of sweets to one treat a day. I feel more energetic and have more mental clarity when I limit sweets. But I love sweets so I have a hard time meeting that goal.
I used to berate myself when I didn’t meet my health goals. But berating myself only leads to feeling more discouraged and often giving up.
So I started being kind to myself instead. Everyone falls short of their goals sometimes. It’s part of being human. Plus, any effort I make towards healthier choices gets me closer to my goal and the worst thing that I can do for my health is to give up.
Also, sometimes I allow myself to let go of “goals” and just make the healthiest choices I can in my current circumstance.
Practicing self-compassion has been shown to promote healthier behaviors (see Resources below).
When my clients become discouraged, I remind them
that we all fall short of the goals we set for ourselves sometimes
to feel proud of work that they’ve done towards making healthier choices
to understand how life circumstances affect their health behaviors and develop compassion through understanding
don’t give up; even a little bit of work towards a healthier life is better than none.
Here are phrases that I use to keep me motivated to make healthier food choices:
“I feel healthier when I meet even part of my goal.”
“I’m proud of myself for the healthy choices I did make.”
Life events can make it hard to make the health choices I want to make and I can't control everything.
“Even if I’m not perfect, at least I am making healthier choices some of the time.”
If you want more ideas to help you practice self-compassion, I recommend Self-compassion.org.
At this site you can also find published research on Self-Compassion, Body Image and Eating Behavior.
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My next blog post will be about developing habits for life-long healthy choices.