Skinny Daily Post


Words are important tools — although I probably am biased since I make my living by them. They have the power to transform us and the power to hold us back. How we use words has a tremendous influence on everything we do from interacting with others, to creating our own self-image.

In terms of the weight management journey, I think about half of what we need to do is choose the right kinds of foods, and the other half of what we have to do is choose new, positive thoughts that can move us in the right direction. Often I feel that the internal story we tell ourselves about our own life is one of the chief places we can make effective, lasting change.

One thing I’ve noticed in this regard is that I often hear someone begin describing what’s challenging them in their weight loss by saying ‘My problem is …’

Now this is a natural enough word choice, but I do think it bears examining. Because, in my mind, when we start to label a problem as being something we own, it begins to seem like some kind of possession.

When I hear these phrases (‘My problem is night eating.’ ‘My problem is I don’t like exercise.’ ‘My problem is chocolate.’)I begin to imagine people walking around with their pet problem on a leash, feeding it, nurturing it, carrying it with them everywhere.

‘My problem is I always overeat.’ I can just see a little green overeating monster being paraded around at parties, at work, at the beach, etc.!

Am I being too psychoanalytical? Is this really such a big deal? Don’t we all immediately undertand someone when they beging telling us ‘My problem is … ‘ ?

I guess its just that I think we human beings have been given so many great and powerful tools, and to ignore any of them as we try to change our lives and transform our physical bodies is to sell ourselves short. I wouldn’t choose beer and coookies for dinner, so why would I choose damaging and hurtful words to talk about when I start to describe myself?

There’s no simple or easy solution (i.e. ‘My challenge is …’) but that doesn’t surprise me. So much of what we have to do as people trying to manage our weight is to take on an awareness of the things we can do differently. Testing out alternatives, exploring new ways of doing and thinking.

Just imagine trying to describe your biggest weight loss challenge WITHOUT using words that make it sound like the ‘problem’ is ‘yours.’ It might be awkward and it might take some extra thinking. For example ‘At night, I find there are situations and circumstances which lead me to overeat’ …. doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. But perhaps in describing the process that challenges us, we can begin to explore its causes (and thereby begin uncovering solutions).

This week, why not join me in trying to re-phrase the story you’re telling yourself about yourself? Help me find new ways to communicate the things which are bothersome and problematic, in a way that helps us move towards answers and positive change.

9 thoughts on “Sorry, Not My Problem

  1. London Slimmer says:

    I agree that words are important. I’ve tried consciously to stop using words like ‘scoffing my face’, ‘stuffing myself’ ‘being a pig’, ‘pigging out’, etc. to describe eating and just use kinder, more humane vocabulary. Eating is a very normal impulse, after all, not something to be ashamed of.

  2. Kate in Vancouver says:

    I get your point. I find it even worse when people start off to explain their shortcomings as “I’m the type of person who…..” It’s as if there is NOTHING in the world to be done about it. It’s over for them, it’s futile to try and change it.

    Like, it isn’t even a choice of theirs to behave a certain way.

    Rubbish I say!!


  3. Laura says:

    People tell me all the time that I use harsh words describing myself that I would never use describing others. It is a hard habit to break but I agree I need to rewrite my life pertaining to this and be kinder to myself.

  4. kirsty says:

    On the other hand, it *is* your ‘problem’ in that no-one but you can actually ‘solve’ it. Others can help, and make suggestions, but any changes are yours and yours alone to make and maintain…

  5. Andrea says:

    I too have tried to change my vocabulary. I don’t like saying I was “good” or “bad” in terms of eating. There’s a lot less condemnation or judgement involved if I ask myself if I ate in a “healthy” way. And instead of using “pigging out,” I use more descriptive terms like emotional eating or stress eating, which gets to the heart of the issue and doesn’t resort to name calling.

    My husband has told me more than once that to really get him motivated to lose weight I should tell him he’s a fat pig and tell him he looks unattractive to me. I’ve told him I could never do that, because number one I don’t feel that way, and number two, if someone did that to me, it would backfire terribly. Instead of getting me motivated, it would depress me and probably drive me even further into eating.

    It’s amazing how words can affect us so deeply, especially the ones we tell ourselves and the ones closest to us. I think we all need to be careful to use words that are loving and supportive. Like they say, you can get a lot more flies with honey…

  6. stretchy says:

    I hear the phrase “I could never….” quite often.

    “I could never eat little bits of things!”
    “I could never give up the cheesecake.”
    “I could never find the time to exercise regularly.”
    “I could never eat my spuds without butter !”

    I always ask “Could you do it for a day? ”
    the answer is always something like
    “em, well, yes, well obviously I could!”

    “then do it for a day”

    “Oh I could never” what a phrase.
    People can “get stubborn” about things — things they “could never” do , They forget they “can get stubborn” about things they CAN do.
    Each day I have to start over, pat myself on the back for yesterday (or forgive myself for yesterday)
    It is the DAILY skinny!

  7. susan says:

    Don’t you think their problem is not “night eating” but the fact that they are eating when they’re not hungry and eating too much food when they are hungry? Food is not the problem — the problem is the emotions driving the person to eat compulsively. You can’t solve your eating problems by simple diet and exercise. You have to force yourself to sit down and reflect what it is you really want when you think you want food (I’m only talking about when you’re NOT hungry here).

  8. Connie says:

    Thank you for your comments, Stretchy. That phrase “Could you do it for a day?” struck me right between the eyes and opened them right up. That’s going to be my motto this week!

  9. Rachel says:

    You bet, I think our words are important. Call yourself a fat___on a diet, and you will be forever a fat___on a diet. Our mind will put into motion whatever we tell it.

    I’m working on positive confessions or decrees in the diet and faith arena. I’m speaking to my body and mind. I just have to make sure I don’t do it at the stop lights. People do wonder who you’re talking to.

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