I recently read the book Do Hard Things, which is written by two Christian young men talking to teenagers about the importance of taking risks, making a difference in their world, and not waiting to “grow up.”
When I read this book it made me think about expectations we have of other people and expectations we have for ourselves.
People I know often tell me my kids are “awesome” or “amazing” or some other adjective like that. I love my kids dearly, but honestly, my kids do what kids did for generations in the past. They work hard, study hard, play hard, and have been very successful at a lot of things. Are they perfect? No way. Here’s a picture of them after a karate tournament, in case you haven’t seen a recent picture.
But, John and I do have expectations of them. We expect them to do their best when they work for other people, we expect them to study hard and put honest effort into their school work, and we expect them to practice their violins or karate because we are paying for lessons! I have to say though – that we don’t expect perfection and make sure the kids know that we support them win or lose.
I think this concept of expectations applies to weight loss and weight maintenance as well.
What do you expect from yourself? Are you too easy on yourself?
Now, before I start, I want you to hear me when I say that expecting perfection from yourself almost always backfires and that you do need to allow for mistakes.
However, if you do not have high enough expectations of what you are capable of, you may be missing out on getting where you want to be.
Take me for example. For a lot of years I just “wished” I could lose weight but never really held myself accountable to whatever program I was on or even to myself. I had low expectations of what would happen in terms of my weight loss efforts and that became a self fulfilling prophecy.
Low expectations = Low results
I know there are exceptions to this, but I’ve counseled a lot of people over my 15 years of maintenance and a common thread among them is a willingness to set the bar of success very low. Some of them have said, “Well, I’m going to try to get up early and exercise but I’m not sure I can.” Others will say, “I think I can manage to make a meal plan but I’m not sure if I will get to it.” Still another has said, “I don’t really think I’m capable of losing weight but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try.”
I always encourage them that they CAN do a meal plan, CAN get up early to exercise, and CAN lose weight if they set their mind to it, take steps to do what they say they will do, and expect good results.
Is it always easy? No, of course not. But, it is always better to expect good results than start out apologizing to yourself for a failure that hasn’t even occurred yet.
It’s about tough love for yourself. Be tough enough on yourself to not allow yourself to get away with giving up before you start. Be tough enough on yourself to tell yourself “no” to foods that absolutely do not fit in with your goals. Be tough enough on yourself to set the bar a bit high and reach for it every single day.
That’s how I lost weight. I finally gave myself a figurative push and told myself that I expected myself to lose weight. I expected myself to get up and walk, and I expected myself to never say, “I can’t.” I motivated myself by thinking of my three small children, realizing that if I didn’t do something soon I could die at a young age, and imagining what life would be like without an extra 158 pounds.
Tough love, expecting the best from yourself, and an attitude of never giving up are important parts of successful weight loss.
What do you think?
Do you think that setting expectations and being tough with yourself helps? What about setting low expectations and going into the process with a defeatist attitude? What really works for you? Diane