Do you know what your values are?
I mean really know what your values are?
People often throw around expressions like “It goes against my values” or “Doesn’t he/she have any values?”. We even say “My values are important to me” or “I value xyz,” but I’m discovering that many people – myself included – are very out of touch with their actual core values – the values that govern how we act, feel, and live day to day (or at least, they should.).
I’ve also come to realize that values are integral to losing weight, maintaining weight loss, and to having a healthy relationship with food and our bodies. If you’re sitting there scratching your head trying to think of your values, STOP! Go here. Have a look and try and weed out the 5 words that resonate with you most. To help you hash this out, try and think about a day that you felt on top of the world – happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. What words would you use to describe that day? If it helps you, try and look t the list through a ‘health’ lens. If you’re stuck, email me and I’ll help you flesh out a list (I never thought I would use the words hash and flesh so close together, but I’m so happy I’ve had the chance).
Once you have your values in place, try and identify how they relate to your weight loss journey, or your thoughts/behaviours about food. For example, think about the last time you overate to the point of feeling sick (if this happens to you) and the guilt you felt. Where does that guilt come from? It might be because you feel crappy physically, or because you had a goal and overeating took you off course – but it might also be because treating your body that way or engaging in an unhealthy relationship with food violates one of your values, and you don’t even realize. When we set goals, we often see them as floating objectives that we’re working towards. If we act in a way that doesn’t support our goals, we feel guilty and like we’ve failed, but can also rationalize “I’ll start again tomorrow”. Your values are a part of who you are and what makes you human, and acting against those values can make you feel like something just isn’t right – a sucky feeling, of course, but also a great motivator. When we do something that doesn’t support our values, we feel like we’ve betrayed ourselves; in contrast, when we lose sight of a goal, we feel disappointed and maybe a bit defeated.
So lets say that’s true, and that you discovered you’ve acted in a way that is out of alignment with your core values for your life and your body. Super. So now what? I suggest sitting down and mapping out positive and negative some of your food/body/exercise/weight less (etc.) thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Which of these thoughts, feelings and behaviours match with which values, and which are in direct contrast with your values?
If it meant developing a set of habits that would better enable you to lose weight, maintain weight loss, or just feel better about yourself and your relationship with your body, what are some small steps you could take toward having more items in your “pro-value” list and less in your “anti-value” list?