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Your Words: Weights or Wings?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Do your words help or hinder you with your healthy lifestyle goals? 

I was pondering this recently when driving my teenage daughter and some of her friends around.  One of the girls started to get out the car and said, “Let me see if I can get my fat butt out of here.” I was momentarily speechless because this girl is thin and doesn’t need to lose a pound. I said to her, “you’re not overweight, don’t say that about yourself.” She continued to reply that oh yes she was.
It struck me at that moment that sometimes we are our own worst enemy and critic. We can either build ourselves up with encouragement and motivational thoughts, or tear ourselves apart for a perceived failure or mistake that limits our ability to move forward. If you took the challenge to write down your thoughts about yourself for a couple of days, what kind of story would it tell? Do you say things about yourself that you wouldn’t say out loud to a friend?
This thought was further solidified when I went to see Kung Fu Panda 2 with my daughter. She’s great for humoring me since she’s 15 and I still drag her to animated movies that I want to see. There turned out to be a good moral to the story in one part that I haven’t stopped thinking about.  Panda breaks into a jail to free two important comrades so they can all go fight the evil enemy. The two comrades refuse to come out of their cell due to fear. Panda proceeds to walk off and tell them that they can stay in their own cell of fear with their bars of hopelessness and he will go off and fight the battle for them. Although the odds are stacked against him, he has no doubt that he will succeed.
Wait…what? My own cell, when in reality I could be free? How many times do we close ourselves in thinking we can never win the battle of the bulge? Afraid to think that this time could be the time, when we truly learn to live a healthy lifestyle and find the healthy person inside? Talking down to and berating ourselves with words or thoughts that we would never speak to another person. 
Let’s work to stop that process! My challenge to you is to consider yourself worthy, capable, and to start the process of building hope and courage in your life to pursue your goals. Use your words to help heal, encourage, and motivate yourself.

Are your words helping or hindering you? What does this mean for your journey, and what do you need to do to be your own best cheerleader?

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thanks for the share Report
Great info! Report
Good info Report
thank you Report
Great job Report
Great reminder that we should be cheering ourselves on, and not tearing ourselves down with our words (or thoughts). Report
WOW a prison of our own fear, what a great visual. The only limits we have are the ones we place on ourselves. Fear of failure is a big one for me. Report
It is amazing how bad we are at being own worst enemy for negative thoughts. Report
Great words of wisdom - this is something I struggle with daily - this inspires me to use my words to build myself up instead of tearing myself down. Thanks!! Report
Great reminder & contribution. Fill you bucket and others every day so we can see ourselves in a positive light. Share the positives w/ someone today to be surrounded by other like minded. We are all special!!!! Have a great one!!! Report
I thoroughly enjoyed this blog and I've saved it to my desktop. I was reminded of two things. First how we must teach our children about positive self image. The second is my own wake-up call. Suddenly I became aware of the negative (many, I might add) that I feed myself negative messages. Thank you for this wise and powerful message.
Nancy Report
An excellent thought provoking blog. Many times I teach others to use positive self talk to encourage themselves. I don't always follow my own advice. Thanks for the reminder. Report
So true... Love the blog... I try to say something positive about myself everyday in front of my daughter because I don't want her to have a complex about her body... Report
So true. It's unfortunate that the emotional injuries we inflict on ourselves are not so visible as the physical bumps and bruises we receive in life, and they often take much longer to heal, if they ever do heal. Report
I just LOVE IT that you drew inspiration from Kung Fu Panda! I found that fat fellow to be very inspiring, particularly as to self esteem and confidence - and in the first movie that entire mystical business about the secret ingredient ... there IS no secret ingredient! The actual magic is in YOU. Thanks. Report
Thanks for the reminder. I try, try, try to dump the negative self-talk. Deeply ingrained habit. Parenting experts say with kids you need to say 7 positives to counterbalance every negative thing you say to them. I wonder if our minds workt the same? Report
Thank you for some great food for thought. Report
I was reading to just be reading . then the ton of bricks fell upon my head .
this is myself . I am this every word out of my mouth is self defeating . I need to be kinder to myself and others . I keep telling you can get more flies with honey then with vineger . thank you for helping me see more clearly .. at times i am in a fog. Report
Great blog, and the idea of giving positive thoughts toward myself is worth journaling on. thanks. Report
This certainly rings true for me. I used to do the same-criticize my body-big butt, fat legs, etc. I look back at my pics now and see how ridiculous I was because I now see that I was in good proportion and at 108 was not fat. I wish now I would have appreciated my toned legs and body. On the other hand, i need to realize and ACCEPT that I won't have that body again at 62 but what I can have, is a toned, healthy body that is strong. Report
Oooo, this one really struck a cord!!! When I was young and slim, I wasn't wise enough to realize it... not I struggle to regain at least the slim part! Thank you for the review of how I got to where I am. I have learned to love myself and am still working one reducing the plumpness that has attached itself to me. Thanks again, great blog!!! Report
You are so right. Often criticism (by peers, parents, teachers) can be devastating for young minds and can lead to live long self esteem problems. We need to be consciously supportive in our dealings with ourselves as well as our world. Report
good job Report
At first, when I saw this title, I figured it would be about arm flab! I'm NOT kidding! I figured this article is just for me, as I had a student last year who loved to touch my arm flab and tell me that I reminded her of her grandma! I laughed it off, and reminded her that it is not nice to make comments like that and touch her teachers in that manner. Then I thought of another student who told me his teacher's arm wiggled 263 times in math class (I was much younger then, and; although I was shocked that he would actually "count" instead of paying attention, I thought it was pretty funny). Fast forward 15 years, and now I am the one with arm wings! I am so self conscious of it! I try and try and try and try to get firmer arms, but no matter what, nothing works! I thought your article would be about firming up arms! LOL! Little did I know your article actually helped me, but in a different way! You encouraged me to get out of my jail cell, start thinking positively, and reminding myself that this is a new day...and I CAN do something about this, even if I take little baby steps leaving my cell! Report
Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. I am one that has to watch my words,either ones that i say to myself or sadly to some one else. Words are healing or like a knife that can cut to the very soul. So, i wrote down' Use your words to help heal,encourage and motivate yourself. I am going to make this into a card and put it on my fridge, not only to remind myself but so as i talk to others maybe i can share this quote.
With respect, what you said to your daughter's friend, "you’re not overweight, don’t say that about yourself," makes it seem like the worst possible thing in the world she could be is overweight. Guess what? It isn't. There would be nothing wrong if the girl was overweight but it is the fear and self-loathing that should be nipped in the bud.

If I had felt self-acceptance and had not started dieting as a teen, chances are I wouldn't have ruined my metabolism through yo-yo dieting (why, oh why, wasn't I satisfied with 130 lbs?). Yo-yo dieting is far more destructive than pretty well anything short of an eating disorder.

I just think there were more positive ways to handle issues like this rather than making it seem like being fat is the more horrible thing you can be. Perhaps saying, "Gosh, you're much smaller than the Olympic rowers and a good many of the Olympic basketball and volleyball players, I can't imagine not wanting to be athletic and strong like that!" Assuming athleticism means anything to her. Or pick a public figure that may have some impact on her as a comparison size-wise. Report
I loved several of your statements! First, you dragging your daughter to see animated movies, you want to see! Love it! I go to the movies, with my hubby, mind you I don't drag him, but once there we are enjoying the "kiddie flicks" perhaps more than the others. Laughter is a great medicine, it is calming, relaxing, and yes....a "tool" to help us get through anything!

Second comment is that we do put "bars up" but that we and only "us, as individuals" can break free from those bars. So thank you for sharing....we all need to hear that ,"we" are not alone in our thoughts! Report
I know what you mean about us being our own worst enemy! I have a cousin that is about 17yrs and is about as skinny as a twig and is complaining about how fat she is and how stupid she is and how worthless she is. Aside from her needing to seek help because it is worse than a normal teenager complaining, I noticed that when she is encouraged more she seemed to be better. I know our best cheerleader is ourselves but sometimes it is always great to have a cheerleading coach so if anyone ever knows of someone that needs a little encouragement then step up to the coaches seat! You will even feel better by yourself and the result will be good for everyone:) Report
Yes, I needed to hear this right. Report
Excellent! Welll said. Thank you for the important reminder. I would estimate that the largest percentage of my self-directed thinking is building those self-created barrers stronger and stronger Report
Being as nice to yourself as you'd be to a friend may be the biggest key to successful lifestyle change! From the time I was 11 till I was 45, I alternately dieted and fasted, then binged for months. Much of the reason was what I said to myself: "You're worthless; you're stupid; you look like a balloon; you're just not worth the trouble it takes." Would I ever have said that to a friend? Not on my life!

Eventually I sought help with my bingeing, and I didn't learn to control food--I learned to control my reactions to it ... get rid of guilt, give myself clear, positive messages of hope and encouragement--helpful instead of harmful, and I quit dieting once and for all. And you know what? IT WORKS!

All I can say is awesome blog, DD (she's 16) and I are going to see this movie and I am going to drag along as many of her friends as I can get together!!

Thank you thank you thank you for this great blog. Report
I'm sure your daughter's friend said that without even thinking. How many times do we say those types of hurtful, cruel things to ourselves without giving them a second thought? It's like the eternal playback. Thanks for this great blog. Report
Saving this to favorites for a number of reasons - the visual of weights on my body when I think negatively, the joy of Kung Fu Panda 2 (yes, I'm another grown fan), and the importance of breaking out of my own cell. Yes, I can and will achieve my goals! THANKS Report
I REALLY needed to read this!!!! Report
Read Judith Beck, PhD's "The BECK Diet Solution" as she teaches how to THINK like a THIN person. I got the book at the library. She has a great web site. She has stayed thin for over 20 years using her method. Report
So true! We have the power within us to empower or cut ourselves down.........we need to make the most of the power of our own mind to help us succeed!

Awesome blog! :) So honored to be your Sparkfriend!

Karen Report
Great blog!! Thanks for sharing! Report
Great reminder of how powerful our words are! Both to others and to ourselves! Great blog!!!! Report
What a terrific blog to ponder! What do I tell myself and would I say it to a friend or other person on the journey I am on? I try hard to encourage others...this reminds me to Encourage myself!!! Thank you for a moment of progress! Report
how true, great blog
Thank you for this blog. So often we listen to our 'internal gossip', berate and beat up ourselves for not being/doing/thinking what we have been taught we should be/think/do. Report
I agree so much! I recently wrote a blog here about the lessons I have learned on this journey, and one of the most important ones is to be kind to yourself. The bottom line is, if I would not say it to a good friend, I should not be saying it to myself. Report
Great blog! You are so right. We often set the invisible barriers around ourselves and thinking there is no way I can do such such.

I am capable and I am worthy. I always take the risk and step out of my comfort zone. Hello! World! Here I come! Report
great reminders to not beat ourselves up.. great blog. Thanks for making a difference in the lives of total strangers that are Sparking along. Report
great blog. I've noticed I've started talking to myself more negatively lately and this reminds me I need to change my thinking. Thanks. Report
That's sad. I've read two books lately that basically explain how our subconscious takes the commands we give to it by speaking and goes out and creates the very things that we say - Psycho Cybernetics (Maxwell Maltz) and What to say when you talk to your self (Dr. Shad Helmstetter). I highly recommend them. I've started paying a lot more attention to my negative self talk and have started replacing it with more constructive, positive self talk. If nothing else, it helps me to feel better about me and the goals I'm working toward. Words really do manifest themselves -- written and spoken words. Report
Having suffered from chronic depression for many years, self-defeating talk was my mantra! It took many years of support from a very caring therapist (in addition to the necessary anti-depressants) to convert my negative thinking to a more positive outlook. I have not had an episode of acute depression for over 5yrs now and can truly state the difference in how I live my life is awesome! It takes a great deal of effort to "catch yourself" when negativity starts, but turning it around does make the world a brighter and more forgiving place. My weight gain was due to factors related to the depression, and it is taking a bit longer to slowly lose the accumulated pounds, but Spark and the members who share their experiences only reinforce that a positive attitude will help us accomplish a lot! Report
You are so right! I am just getting back to remembering the power of words (and I write for a living, ha!). We can motivate or hinder our own progress--with the words we say about ourselves and our lives on a daily basis. I am choosing today to be mindful of my power--using words to build and empower both myself and others. Thanks for the reminder! Report
When I think of all the years I spent feeling like a failure when I was 5/10/15 pounds over the weight I wanted to be, it makes me very sad. I look at photos of myself 20 years ago and I looked GREAT--but I thought I was too fat at the time. So I vowed not to make the same mistake and in 20 years look back at now's photos regretting that I didn't realize my own hotness. I bought myself a bikini. I ROCK that thing, even at the local pool where people know me. Last February, at 15 pounds overweight, I wore it to the beach on vacation. A woman I met said she wished she would lose a few pounds so she could wear one, too. I looked her straight in the eye and said, "WHY? We're never going to look BETTER than this!" And that's my new mantra: do it NOW. Do I want to lose a few more pounds? Hell, yes. Will I let those pounds talk me out of living my life in the meantime? Hell, no. Report
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