If you read my post on the D-word, you already know how I feel about the word diet. But another issue I have with the word is it implies it’s a temporary thing. When you say, “I’m going on a diet,” it comes out sounding similar to, “I’m going on vacation.” The implication being that you’re going to come back… or get off the diet at some point.
Becoming the healthier version of yourself you’re envisioning doesn’t require going on a diet for a few weeks or months and then returning to life as usual. No! It means changing your lifestyle little by little overtime to become the healthier version of you. And that lasts a lifetime!
The goal isn’t to diet for a few months just to look good in a bikini for a week-long vacation, only to return to the diet hamster wheel after it all went to shit again. The goal is to make changes that last; changes that will have you feeling good for YEARS, not months; changes that will have you bikini ready at a moment’s notice because that’s just how you look!
The Power of Yet
A famous psychologist named Carol Dweck has done an enormous amount of research about the implications of our mindset. And even though she’s figuring it out mostly for the learning process in kids, there are impactful things we can use in our every day to adjust our beliefs toward a healthier life.
She speaks on the power of the word yet. For example, “I haven’t lost any weight,” vs. “I haven’t lost any weight, yet.” See the difference?
The first implies a deadline I didn’t meet, therefore I’m a failure. The second suggests an ongoing process and I’m somewhere along the curve of accomplishment (albeit in the beginning of the curve in this case).
This goes along with the mindset of viewing a healthy lifestyle as a lifelong process. There isn’t a destination, the entire thing (aka your life) is a process!
While I think the Henry Ford quote about being right whether you think you can or can’t is WAYYYYY over used, it got that way for a reason – because it’s true. The mindset that both Dweck and Ford refer to is “an established set of attitudes”, or another way of saying it is our collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape our habits.
An established attitude sounds too concrete for me (too much commitment), but thoughts and beliefs are always evolving so the latter is a more helpful way of looking at it because it’s clearer that we can choose our mindset. We can choose to add the word ‘yet’ to the end of our sentences.
Humor me and consider the usual suspects you use to observe your habits and the (thoughts) that usually follow it up:
- I haven’t lost the weight. (ugh, it’s pointless)
- I didn’t choose the salad. (I shouldn’t have eaten [insert meal])
- I didn’t move my body. (now I’m gonna get fatter)
- I can’t fit in those jeans. (because I’m too out of shape)
- I don’t drink enough water. (what’s the use anyway)
- I don’t look good naked. (I look disgusting)
- I can’t resist the ice cream. (maybe I should consider throwing it up)
If you read that list out loud to yourself did you notice the negativity of the subsequent thoughts? Assuming you’re human like the rest of us, it’s all too easy to go into a spiral of self-shaming and loathing. These observational phrases are too often followed by a thought about not being good enough, disciplined enough, or [insert deflating word] enough.
But read the list aloud again with the word ‘yet’ at the end and I bet you found it easier to follow it up with a reassuring (thought). Here’s what mine sounded like:
- I haven’t lost the weight, YET. (but I will)
- I didn’t choose the salad, YET. (but I will try again next time)
- I didn’t move my body, YET. (but I’ve still got a few hours left before bed)
- I can’t fit in those jeans, YET. (but by summer I will)
- I don’t drink enough water, YET. (but tomorrow I’ll take my water bottle to work with me)
- I don’t think I look good naked, YET. (but soon I’ll love my body)
- I can’t resist the ice cream, YET. (but damn was it good while it lasted!)
Retrain Your Brain
If you think the power of yet is a bunch of hoopla and doesn’t actually work, I challenge you to try it. The worst that could happen is it doesn’t work and nothing changes. But that’s what’s going to happen if you do nothing anyways.
You probably won’t see the power of yet immediately, but as you retrain your brain to add it to the end of your self-critical observations it’ll become easier to see the process for what it is: a lifelong journey of living a healthy life.