For those of us who struggle with our weight and find it difficult to stay motivated with exercise, mindfulness can be a great help. We can observe our thoughts and reactions to our bodies and exercise by stepping back and responding to ourselves in a more compassionate way.
It’s easy to berate ourselves for being overweight in the first place, to speak harshly to ourselves, to be negative and say things like, “You haven’t been able to keep up a simple diet or exercise routine in the past, what makes you think you can now?” or, “This is really hard work, why don’t you just give up now, you know you can’t do it.” And even weeks later if we manage to keep it up we may find ourselves looking in the mirror and instead of observing and appreciating the small changes that have been made, we focus on the journey we have left to go.
So what can do to help us take that step back?
First, we need to accept ourselves for how we are now. I don’t mean resign ourselves, I mean that we simply acknowledge how we are, without judgement. Let any negative thoughts that arise drift through our minds. When we are in the middle of exercising and feel the burn of our muscles or the ache in our chest as we puff and pant, we can treat ourselves as a friend, with compassion, encouraging ourselves to carry on and not give up, without the harsh tone that we have become accustomed to. And when we look in the mirror and note a minute difference, congratulate ourselves for what we have done; each step will lead to the top of the mountain. Give ourselves credit for what has been achieved so far. In the words of Lao Tzu:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”