Unrealistic Expectations Can Cause Failure
Weight gain is an evolutionary process. Some people call it creeping weight. The scale turtles inexorably upward – a tight skirt, a belt notch, a can’t-zip-up-my-pants inch at a time. Yet you expect the scale to go down as rapidly as a high-speed elevator. This erroneous thought pattern – practiced and perfected as with any bad habit – is an unrealistic expectation. Dangerous to be sure with any endeavor, but deadly when it comes to weight reduction.
I could have, I should have, I didn’t, I wanted to, are the loud laments of the perfectionist. Perfectionism is an illusion, however. Since you’ll never be perfect, in your mind you don’t ever succeed. Then you think: I failed, I blew it, I’m weak, or bad, or whatever you say to beat yourself up, and you stop trying altogether.
Why not acknowledge small, incremental improvements, times when you did better at one meal, one day, or one event than you might have? Focus only on what you did, not on what you thought you should have done. The inclination to focus on the negative is part of the all-or-nothing addict mind. You think that if you can’t do it perfectly for an entire week – even though it is unrealistic to think you can – you won’t do it at all. It would be more pleasurable to look for the positive and see that list grow.
All-or-nothing thinking is far more destructive to your weight loss goal than a friend baking brownies and leaving them on your desk. Even if you eat one brownie but manage to give the rest to co-workers and friends, you think you’ve blown it. A better way of thinking would be to realize you only ate one, when in the past you probably would have eaten several, if not all.
Unrealistic expectations give substance, heft, and power to an unrealized goal. They quash the budding crocus of success as it pushes through the thick asphalt of failure. Unrealistic expectations kill the flowering of dreams, because you become so disappointed that you give up hope.
Thomas Edison never stopped trying. “I have not failed 10,000 times,” he said. “I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
The only reality is where you are today – perhaps 50 pounds and where you were a week ago – perhaps 155 pounds. And even if your weight remains the same, there are other questions to ask: Did you keep a food log? Did you drink the requisite amount of water? Did you do better at an industry function than you might have? Did you eat less than usual at your mother’s? Yes? Then you’re ahead of the game.
Marcia S, an unrealistic thinker, lost seven pounds in two weeks. The third week she lost one pound. When I asked for a positive story, she said: “Nothing good happened.” She was miserable.