When I was younger success looked like owning a big house in the burbs, driving a nice car, and having the perfect husband. Then I went to law school where we defined success by the law firm you went to and your salary. I travelled for four years after law school and, for the travellers and dreamers I met along the way, success was all about figuring out what you loved to do and making that your job.
I’ve been struggling lately because I don’t feel successful. I don’t have any of these things that I used to think defined success (aside from figuring out what I love to do!). Yet recently I’ve started my own company, I’m debt free, and I can pay myself enough to live and even travel a bit. I have a wonderful, caring man in my life and I live in a nice apartment. The reason I don’t feel successful is because I’ve bought into everyone else’s definition of success and I’m comparing myself to others.
If I stop to really think about what success truly means to me, maybe I’m ok after all.
My problem is that I haven’t stopped to define success for myself. At every stage in my life before this, my self-concept has been determined by someone else’s definition of success.
Weight loss and body confidence are a lot like this as well. If your definition of success comes from images you see in social media or other unrealistic pressures you’ve built up since you were a child or that you put on yourself, then you’ll never feel successful. If you keep comparing yourself to others who have different genetics, histories and present circumstances, then you’ll never feel successful.
What does success mean to you?
Transform Your Thinking To Be Successful
When it comes to our bodies, we can spend our whole lives feeling disappointed. We define success by the number on the scale and we waste so much valuable time comparing ourselves to others.
The scale is important because it provides data to track progress. But, when it comes to weight loss, it shouldn’t be our only measure of success. I know you’ve heard this before but have you really stopped to think about other ways to be successful in weight loss and feel good about yourself?
Rather than weight loss, what if we focused on “body transformation”? Body transformation could mean more strength and muscle, improved energy and sleep, less body pain, and better mood, confidence and health.
I have a client in her mid-60s who is an awesome example of body transformation. When she first started with me, she had never lifted weights and within about six months she was as strong as many of my 20-something clients. She’s an avid golfer and the strength she has gained has improved her golf game as well.
Has she lost weight? Not much, because she’s already pretty lean. Has she changed her body? Yes, dramatically. And she’s still having fun because every week she feels herself getting stronger and fitter. If she measured success solely on weight loss, she would feel miserable about her results when in reality, she’s completely killing it.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
It’s good to look at others for inspiration but if you ever find yourself wondering “Why can’t I look like her?” then you need to check yourself. Most of us will never look like those ripped up physiques dominating social media because we aren’t willing to give everything up to get there. We’ve got other more important things – family, holidays, health and just enjoying life.
Remember – those women on social media don’t look like that year round. Most of those images are taken around competitions or a photo shoot. Models and people in the fitness industry know how to manipulate water, diets and training to look great in photos but they don’t look like that all the time. They won’t even look like that the day after the photos are taken.
Even though you know this, it is still hard to switch off the comparisons when we see those photos. I highly recommend “unsubscribing” or “unfollowing” those people so you stop hating on yourself and your life so much. I did this a few years ago when I realized those images were making me feel bad about myself and I’m so much better off now that they are no longer in my newsfeed.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t find people to inspire you but a constant stream of unreal bodies isn’t going to do it. Find a few people to follow who have similar lives and bodies to yours. For example, if you’ve just had a baby, find a mommy blogger who is getting fit again and eating well and follow her for inspiration.
Control your newsfeed and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself.
What’s Your Real Reason?
What’s the real reason you want to lose weight? Nobody just wants to lose weight for the sake of losing weight. Sure you want to look better – but why? Is it so you feel more confident in your relationship, at work or just generally in your own self? Is it so you have better energy for your kids or grandkids? Do you like the feeling of getting stronger physically and mentally? Do you want to reduce your medication or be healthier?
One of my clients continually sets new goals for herself – from a recent 23 km walk to getting up on water skis. While losing weight is still a goal for her, these much more exciting ones keep her going and enjoying life.
Some women are constantly chasing the last 5 kg and won’t feel content until they hit some elusive number on the scale. I’m not saying you shouldn’t constantly strive to better yourself, but create other ways to feel happy along the way and be content with your body even if you don’t lose the last 5 kg.
Today I wrote down what success means to me. I realized that actually I am successful according to my own definition. I feel happier, lighter and motivated to keep pursuing my goals.
What does success mean to you based on where you are in your life and where you’ve come from? What are some realistic goals you can set for yourself along your weight loss journey? You might even set up a system to reward yourself when you hit certain milestones. Or perhaps that 23 km hike is reward in itself.
If you celebrate your successes along the way and appreciate how far you’ve come, you’ll be more likely to keep the weight off than someone who is driven by the scale. You’ll be a whole lot happier too.