Posted on April 2, 2014 by Jennifer Lilley
From inspirational posters in fitness centers to encouraging sayings shared on social media sites designed to inspire ourselves and others, health-related mantras can fuel the desire to eat right and exercise more.
Sigh. Where were they when I was unwrapping those Snickers bars and shopping in the plus-sized section seven years ago? Ah, they were probably there, if only I had been able to leave the vending machine long enough to notice. But I digress.
Motivational mantras can be a powerful way to keep us on track of our weight loss goals and overall health. I know they have been for me.
Motivating weight loss and fitness mantras
Personally, I have a few that I enjoy which not only helped me on my 70-pound weight loss journey, but that still stick with me to this day:
"No matter how slow you're going, you're still lapping everybody on the couch."
"If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done."
"I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday."
"Stop saying, 'I wish,' and start saying, 'I will.'"
Now before you think all this mantra talk means you have to break out the lava lamps or repeat certain phrases by some glorious oceanfront property, think again. It’s all about summoning a key (or two, or five) phrases that have significant meaning to you so you can keep your health journey on track.
If anyone remembers the show Ally McBeal, John “The Biscuit” used to summon peppy, “you can do it” tunes from Barry White whenever doubt kicked in. It’s the same thing. Positive thoughts can squash those negative “I’ll never lose all this weight” thoughts.
Ah, couch sitting and chomping on Cheetos are days I remember well.
Registered and licensed dietitian Kari Hartel, says “Developing and utilizing a mantra can assist you with your weight-loss or other health-related goals by reinforcing positive behaviors . . . More specifically, a mantra can help you shift the focus from the actual number on the scale to the more permanent idea of adopting a lifestyle change, establishing a healthier relationship with food and developing confidence.”
Not just with fitness, but in life, waiting for the “right” time doesn’t do anyone much good.
Is there a downside to inspirational mantras?
However, some experts warn that positive mantras can backfire and jeopardize our health. Move over, Barry White? The thought is that while embracing ourselves for who we are is important, certain mantras may be viewed as enablers that tell us it’s ok to reach for that third slice of pizza. After all, we have mantras that say: “real women have curves” and “love me, love my fat.”
The idea, at least for Dr. Azadeh Aalai, Associate Professor of Psychology at Montgomery College, is that when increased confidence through such mantras justifies eating another bag of chips, then America’s obesity epidemic keeps on growing.
And right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Dr. Aalai says that ” . . . our ever growing ‘protect self-esteem at any cost’ culture has led us to tip toe around the dire reality of how fat we have become as a nation, and the serious health implications that come with this.”
Hmmmm. It was tough to stay strong in the self-esteem department having been teased about my weight in junior high school and even later in college . . . and again years after that.
So I do think it’s important that society embraces their differences and protects their self-esteem (whether it’s about freckles or a physical disability), but at the same time, I don’t think it should become an excuse that justifies out-of-control weight gain, an obnoxious attitude or an uncaring mindset.
What are some of your favorite health and weight-loss mantras? Also, do you agree with Dr. Aalai’s comment about society becoming a place that protects self esteem at any cost? Leave a comment, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts!
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Jennifer Lea Reynolds
Jennifer Lea Reynolds is a weight loss success story who enjoys living a healthy lifestyle. A fan of the elliptical, roasted asparagus and remembering to put the lid on the blender, she’s appeared in many national and local print publications. She lives in New England where she writes professionally about health and wellness in online publications including Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, The Huffington Post, and more.