As a trained scientist, I learned that theories and hypothesis are not absolute. We find this element in our daily lives, our conversations, and even our politics. Einstein explained this by saying its all relative. Here’s a quick example: If I’m in a car going 100 km per hour, from my front seat, the water bottle in the cup holder looks stationary. Yet, the lady sitting on the mountain overlooking the highway in the valley, the water bottle is definitely not stationary. You see, if you change your perspective, the situation changes dramatically. In my example, the change is from not moving, to moving 100 km/hour. Huge, Huge difference!
As I re-trace my steps looking for my roots, changing my perspective dramatically changes my mood, my motivation, and my eating habits. When I am spinning out of control in the emptiness of outer space, orienting perspective is rather challenging. (By the way, I highly recommend the movie Gravity.) That is true for any of us. When we are negative and panic, our egoism takes over and forces us to think at a micro-self level. As we slow our breathing and relax, our mind can jump out of the micro level and look at the bigger picture.
How does this apply to eating and exercise habits?
So, you just ate a half a quart of ice cream, that decision is in the past. There is nothing we can do to change the past. We can only make a decision in the present, and that choice will change the future. Being self-critical is actually detrimental to your fitness goals. How? If we criticize ourselves and dwell on not meeting our own high expectations, we increase the stress hormones. We get tense. We begin that spiraling in space where once set in motion, we’ll stay in motion. This means: the next time you are presented with a choice for the office birthday cake, you’ll indulge again and again due to the cycle of self-critical release of stress hormones.
Now, if instead, we forgive ourselves for those recent poor decisions. We let them go, and by letting go with self-compassion, we actually relax ourselves which of course reduces our stress hormones and gives room to breathe. Thus, we’re not spiraling out of control, and we gain a different perspective. If we go back to the offer to eat a piece of the calorie-dense office birthday cake, you will choose wisely. No thank you cake.
Self-compassion brings perspective which leads to relaxation and better fitness.
Put Perspective in Practice.
Take out a piece of paper or your computer’s text editor. Write yourself a note. Answer the following questions:
- What am I glad for?
- What recent decisions should I forgive myself?
- What recent actions should I celebrate?
- What do you plan to eat the next 24 hours?
- When will you move/exercise in the next 24 hours?
- What can I do right now in the present that will change the future?
By answering these questions daily, you will find the beautiful mountain of perspective to balance the highway of your chaotic life which of course leads to better fitness decisions.