15 Apr How to Cultivate Self-Belief for your Keto or Banting Weight Loss Transformation
by Victoria Webster (Clinical Psychologist)
My mom (65 years old) loves walking and hiking and she is badass when it comes to very steep and long uphills. On the other hand, when I am faced with a steep uphill my instinct is to bound up it like a clumsy Great Dane and get it over with as quickly as possible.
This strategy works; I make it to the top, except by the time I get there I can barely breathe and all I want to do is go home. By comparison, my mom does something she calls the “Sherpa step” which involves taking very small steps (about half the size of a normal step) one after the other. When she gets to the top, she is still full of energy, breathing steadily and ready to take on more. The Sherpa step is a real technique that Sherpa’s use while carrying heavy loads up the steep inclines of Mount Everest — these small steps allow them to preserve energy and acclimatise slowly to the altitude.
After all her Sherpa shuffling, my mom has a very strong self-belief in her ability to tackle just about any steep hill because she has a history of doing it successfully. Walking and hiking are now part of her daily life and of who she is as a person. Self-belief, whether you are trying to climb a mountain, lose some weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, is a little bit about belief but it is a lot about the actual steps you take to get there.
How many times have you uttered the words “from tomorrow” on a Sunday evening as you eat the last of the chocolate cake and mentally put some new goals in place for the week ahead? Every time you set new goals you are mustering up some self-belief that you can change things for the better. The problem comes in when the proper steps are not put in place to grow and feed this self-belief.
Often our “from tomorrow” goals are unrealistic and unmanageable and can sound a little something like this: “From tomorrow I will be a well-rounded, stretching, flexing, yoga-class attending, zen, deep breathing health guru extraordinaire that is repulsed by sugar”. However, when tomorrow rolls around it all seems too big and scary (the sugar seems to be calling your name) and nothing has changed – except another little piece of your self-belief has been chipped away because you’ve deceived yourself again.
Attempting to become a well-rounded health guru extraordinaire requires big changes that are hard to hold onto at first, especially when life gets in the way. Sometimes just making it through the day in one-piece is an accomplishment but when you have to add big leaps and bounds in new behaviours it becomes a tall order — for example: 1 hour exercise, 30 mins meditation, eat “perfectly”, meditate, be totally present with the kids and be nice to your spouse. Actually, it is a setup for a serious sense of humour failure and the use of some expletives that go against all the guru teachings and would make the Buddhist monks squirm in their robes. This is usually the end point of the attempt at change.
Maybe you can relate to this cycle: trying to put new habits and changes in place, with some success, for maybe a few days (or weeks), but as time goes by, the habits don’t really stick. It is very easy to fall into the “from tomorrow” pit where you just keep doing the same thing without any real sustainable changes and, after years of falling into this same pit, self-belief starts to dwindle to very low levels. It also becomes harder to find the energy to start again (tomorrow). The good news is that self-belief can be developed and grown no matter how little you currently have. The key in developing self-belief is this: the Sherpa step. The smallest of changes (that you can actually accomplish) all compound to make bigger, longer lasting changes; tiny half-sized steps that, over time, build up to span a long distance and a steep incline.
Now the perfectionists out there are not going to like this one, but sometimes it is worth doing something even if it’s tiny and seemingly insignificant. “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly”. It might be a small step but it sets up the behaviour change to become a habit and even if it’s not done perfectly, it actually gets done! It is amazing how we can justify not doing something because we can’t do it perfectly. It is rather illogical and is nothing more than self-sabotage to self-belief. If you can’t fit in your 30 minute exercise goal a day: do 25 minutes or even do 5 minutes (gasp) if that is all that you can manage. Maybe the exercise you do does not have to be a hardcore full body workout that you imagined but rather requires you to dance around to your favourite heavy metal band for 10 minutes (very good exercise, just go easy on the neck). We confine ourselves by definitions of what we consider healthy and these definitions just restrict us. Our self-belief becomes limited by one thing… our own restrictive thinking. We could be taking small steps in different ways to increase our self-belief.
Here are some examples of taking tiny steps to build up self-belief:
- Goal: Drink 2.5 litres of water day
- Sherpa step: Shout cheers and drink a shot of water like a tequila before each meal
- Goal: 30 minutes meditation a day
- Sherpa step: Do deep breathing for 5 minutes while you drink some tea instead
- Goal: No more sugar
- Sherpa step: Cut out the obvious, in-your-face sugar to start
- Goal: Eating like a Keto ninja without exception
- Sherpa step: Plan one meal a day where you eat off the green list
- Goal: 45 minutes of exercise a day
- Sherpa step: Walk the dog and race him to fetch his own stick
You get the picture. These are all little steps that reinforce your self-belief as you shuffle forward. They may not be the perfect steps and while maybe suggesting you drink water like a tequila shot is not an ideal habit to set up (you didn’t hear that from me) it’s better than drinking no water at all. Smaller steps are more manageable and so it’s easier to be consistent and rack up healthy habits and changes over time. You might even begin to eat like a Keto ninja as part of a real and sustainable lifestyle change, not because you have to, but because you see it works for you — it is not an unattainable “from tomorrow” goal anymore.
I am currently part of a Hero Group Support Program and in my group and have to set daily goals which I have to be accountable for every single day. The trick is that there is no such thing as failure as long as you learned something in the process and have taken the smallest of steps. Progress is perfection and that is all that is required. I have certainly not done my goals perfectly every day, but I have actually done them (sometimes just barely) and now they feel more like a part of my daily routine than something I am forced to do. The Hero Group Support Program is more of a lesson in developing self-belief than anything else and there is an added bonus of having a group of people who believe in you, too.
So, forget the “from tomorrows” and rather put manageable and realistic steps in place for yourself. You can continue to hope that everything will magically change or you can tap into your self-belief and develop and nurture it by putting your ideas into actions (sometimes tiny ones). After reading this article, can you do one small thing that builds up your self-belief instead of chipping away at it? One thing that is one more step forward than what you would have taken today? Let the from tomorrow become a from today, one little Sherpa step at a time.