family is story

Tough-Love Letter—to Myself

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 10.36.37 AMOver the last 10 work days, I have spent seven at conferences. For those who attend conferences, you know how exhausted and mushy—mentally and physically—you feel at the end of the last day? Imagine that times two.

By the end of the second conference, I was pudgy mentally from all of the knowledge being crammed into my brain during each session. But what I was more distracted by was how I felt physically pudgy from the poor eating choices I’d made throughout the conferences—and even reaching beyond into the last six months.

On the last day of sessions, as I waited for my hardworking and loving husband to pick me up from the Digital Atlanta Conference, I noticed how I felt physically. And I didn’t feel good. I felt slow and cumbersome and uncomfortable. And just as I started to internally criticize, I got angry—at myself.

I’d just had enough of me; I’d had enough with that mean inner voice. So . . . I wrote her a letter. This wasn’t any “Future Me” namby pamby letter focused on “name it and claim it” weight loss. This was a tough-love letter.

Here is some of what I said:

Dear Jennifer:

Today, I’ve had enough. You badger yourself for not eating well but don’t do anything about it. You’re “suffering” and verbally abusing yourself and critical of yourself, but you’re not changing.

Well, I won’t hear your complaints anymore. I refuse to listen. Listen up: You say nice things to yourself or you don’t say anything at all. You can’t beat yourself up, then eat sweets, then complain.

You don’t have the luxury of letting exercise fix your nutritional sabotage. You’ve never had a fast metabolism and it’s only getting worse the older you get. From now on, you record everything that you eat. Everything. If you don’t know the caloric value of something, the rule is, you don’t eat it.

Stop. Sabotaging. Stop. Berating. Stop. Standing still. Do something in a positive direction. From now on, the rule is, you don’t do it unless it’s healthy.

You have to be a friend to yourself. Be thankful for your body. Celebrate its abilities. Your body serves you well and it deserves better than the crap you’re giving it.

Believe that the sweets you eat are harmful. Believe that you are poisoning yourself.

Figure it out, Jen. No complaints.

That evening and the day after I wrote the letter, I started watching what I ate and how much. For me—sometimes—it’s not about what I eat but how much I eat. So, I’ve started paying attention.

The first full day of counting calories with the Lose It iPhone app, I went over my goal by 126. The next day, with exercise, I fell below the daily goal. Each day since, I’ve fallen below my goal.

Personally, I’d like to lose 35 pounds this week. But I’ll likely lose only one or two. But next week, I’ll lose another pound. And the week after that, another. Eventually, I will lose one pound 35 times.

I don’t really want to receive another tough-love letter from myself, so I’m flipping a switch and turning off the critical voice. Oh, and I’m turning off the whiny “but I don’t want to” voice as well.

What voice do you need to turn off?
What kind of letter would you write to yourself?
Have you ever written yourself a kick-in-the-seat letter?

©2013 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.