There’s no loss; you’re exactly the same as the week before.
You throw your hands into the air in frustration and tell yourself “Well, obviously this isn’t working. Screw it – I’m going to eat what I want to eat then!”
The next thing you know, you’re indulging in some unhealthy treat that’s only moving you further away from your goals. And then you feel even guiltier, and you start convincing yourself that you’re never going to succeed at this weight loss thing. “I’m never going to get to where I want to be!” you tell yourself.
And so what happens? You continue making unhealthy choices, because it’s “obvious” you’re going to fail anyway.
This is the “shame spiral”, as some of us like to call it. It’s a dirty, vicious cycle, and one that I find is hard for many people to break. It’s a huge limiting factor in trying to achieve weight loss or any other health goal. You essentially let your limiting beliefs stop you from making continued progress towards your goals. 1 step forward, 2 steps back.
If you struggle with shame spiraling, here are 3 steps to breaking this habit:
1) Remind yourself that weight loss takes TIME. How long did it take you to put on the weight? 1 year? 10 years? 30 years? You can’t change a lifetime of bad habits in a week. It takes time to lose weight. A lot of times, even when taking steps in the right direction, you may not realize some areas that are contributing to the scale being stuck. Perhaps you’re snacking a lot, eating out too often, or not exercising. Rather than throwing your arms in the air and tossing what work you did do out the window, take an objective look at your habits and ask how you could improve the following week to reach your goals.
Along with this, remind yourself that you will eventually reach your goals. Don't let that little voice in your head tell you you can't - because if you believe that little voice, you'll let that become you're reality.
2) Focus on the successes outside the scale. Even when you’re taking steps in the right direction, there’ll be occasional times when the scale might not reflect that. Don’t beat yourself up. Focus on what you are doing right. Have you always gone out to eat at least 3 days a week, but this past week you only went out once? Awesome – success! Never been to the gym more than 2 times a week, but last week you made it 4 times? Congrats! Pat yourself on the back for those successes. Remember, the scale is just one indicator of our health. Remind yourself of all these other steps that you are making to improve your overall wellness, and let this motivation carry you forward.
3) Be aware for signs of the shame spiral, and halt it. If you notice it starting, stop and ask yourself how you could channel that frustration into a more positive behavior that will move you closer toward your goals. Instead of turning to dessert for comfort, get some aggression out in a boxing class. Rather than go out to eat, find a new healthy recipe to make at home that will get you excited about healthy cooking again. If you find yourself skipping workouts because “they’re just not working” – maybe you need to sign up for a fun new class or a session with a personal trainer to break up that rut. Use the acronym “ACT”:
Ask yourself if you are shame spiraling
Choose to stop the negative behavior
Take action to make a positive change!
Share with us: Do any of you struggle with this? Have you found this article helpful to stop the shame spiral?