Normally I love stories. I’ll read a book that’s for young audiences or even a book not written well just because I want to see where the author takes the story. There are stories all around us. Some aren’t ours or at least not ours to tell, and some are big stories we tell ourselves. It’s those stories that lead to problems with our quest for fitness. So, when we make up an excuse about how we eat or why we cannot exercise — it’s still a lie. A lie is a story, but not a nice story. We don’t appreciate when we are lied to. Why do we feel we can tell stories to ourselves?
Some years ago my son and his friend told a story about a broken window. I quickly learned my lesson when I approached the other mother with the “story” the boys had told me regarding her son — they said he broke the window. Previously my son had never lied to me. This experience helped me realize how human nature drives us to tell stories to save ourselves (and our bottoms). We can concoct an entire world if it means we preserve our self-esteem.
Happily Ever After
There’s a part of ourselves that will create a story to make our actions acceptable. It seems authorities believe women lie to make other people feel better and men lie to make themselves look better.** The stories we tell ourselves are simply to help us feel better about ourselves. I don’t care who you are. Men, women, kids. We build barriers around ourselves to keep us from being torn down by the world — or our perception of the world.
This is the tough part. We need to encounter the story head on and recognize the aspects that aren’t true. I had a client I’ll call Emily (not her name). Emily justified that she NEEDED to eat bread to keep her blood sugar up and help her think and work. I told her there were better ways to keep her blood sugar controlled. She ignored me. One day in her ZWL Coaching session she was excited because she had found low-calorie bread. I told her to give the bread up — Oh, did I tell you Emily never lost any weight? Truth. So, we spent months of her eating low-calorie bread, then gluten-free bread, and then finally no bread. Once she stopped eating bread she started losing weight. Her story about poor energy and blood sugar just wasn’t real. She thought she felt better, and perhaps she did. Once off the bread she lost weight and found a balance with her sugar levels, and her energy was not an issue.
We don’t want to see what’s in front of our eyes. That’s why a food journal will help. You can read back through and see patterns of misconceptions in your story and fix them. It’s always easier when we discover something for ourselves. It helps us maintain our self-esteem, and change comes with less pain.