One of the most common themes that comes up with myself and my clients is the issue of being hard on ourselves on our health and fitness journey. We often think we need to be more strict, more intense, more perfect or more committed in order to realize our fitness goals.
So we get frustrated with ourselves for missed workouts, we berate ourselves for less than optimal food choices and we unknowingly create more stress and shame than is actually helpful.
We do this because we think it is what we need to do to be more consistent. We think that self-criticism is the mindset tool we need to use to get more fitness results.
Let me ask you this: How is being highly self-critical working for you?
I’ll tell you how it worked for me: It didn’t work at all.
Being self-critical on my health and fitness journey left me on a treadmill of on-again, off-again eating habits. It decimated my self-esteem and it didn’t help me enjoy the process of eating better and exercising regularly.
Self-criticism might be one of the biggest roadblocks you’ll need to face on your journey toward consistency and health habits that stick.
Here are 3 of the ways self-criticism hinders (not helps!) your fitness results and what you can do instead. You can watch the video below or read the entire post below the video.
It may sound counter-intuitive that being critical of ourselves would be a hindrance on our journey to more muscle definition and better eating habits. But it’s true! Being overly-critical can kill our motivation and negatively affect our self-esteem. Here’s how it works and what to do instead:
We think self-criticism is making us more accountable.
True accountability helps us to change our behaviour. If we are beating ourselves up for missing workouts and eating crap, doing the negative self talk thing and not acting differently afterwards, then our self-criticism is not making us more accountable.
Negative self-talk is likely making us less accountable because it is a huge de-motivator. Try digging yourself out of a funk after you’ve just listed all the reasons why you’re not good enough!
Rather than using self-criticism for accountability, try external accountability with a group of friends, a personal trainer or an online support group. If your accountability tools aren’t causing you to act differently, then they need an upgrade.
We often fail to recognize that negative self-talk costs us our self-esteem.
Our self talk matters. Words aren’t harmless. If we are repeatedly berating ourselves or being extremely self-critical, the cost is to our self-esteem and self-belief. Self-esteem is one of the biggest predictors in whether we will do great self-care or not.
Negative self-talk is actually hurting our ability to be consistent with the habits that make us feel good and see results with our fitness goals.
Rather than letting negative self-talk permeate your thoughts, try neutral self-talk. If positive self-talk is too far of a jump right away and feels inauthentic, try replacing your negative words with neutral ones.
Instead of ‘I am so bad for missing yet another workout! I can’t do this, I suck’, try: ‘I missed another workout today. I feel overwhelmed. What do I need to change about tomorrow’s schedule to fit my workout in?’
The lens of self-criticism prevents us from celebrating our small wins.
When we are overly critical of ourselves or are stuck in comparison with others we often fail to acknowledge our small wins. The challenge is that our small wins are the exact type of motivational fuel we need to create consistent eating and exercising habits.
Small wins include that little tiny bit of muscle definition you notice on your arms while doing your hair in the morning, being able to do a couple more push-ups from your toes, being able to do all the physical tasks of our day with more energy, or having stronger posture and alignment through the day.
Failing to celebrate our small wins is harming our fitness results because the small wins help to increase motivation and adherence to the process.
Rather than skipping over the small wins, celebrate them! None of this talk ‘I should see more results’ or ‘It’s not a big deal, it’s only one more push-up than last week’. No! These things are a big deal, and they are exactly how slow, sustainable and successful changes happen.
Remember that the antidote to self-criticism is self-compassion.
When you think you need to be harder on yourself, you actually need more understanding and compassion. We are fearful of letting go of self-criticism because we think the compassionate route will leave us being lazy and unaccountable. But the stress of being self-critical is robbing you of results and enjoyment.
Practicing more self-compassion on your fitness journey will allow you to act from a place of worthiness not from a place of shame or hustling for love, acceptance and belonging.
Thanks for reading,
If you’re looking to shift your mindset towards a more empowering, beneficial, stress and shame free one, then grab my free Motivational Mindset Guide by clicking the image below.