Try This 1 Thing to Lose Weight (ep. 8)

by Helen M. Ryan
Woman on beach at sunset

Walk for weight loss and fitness to see how changing one thing - your thoughts - changes your health and body.

Episode 8A with background walking music

Episode 8B voice only

EPISODE SUMMARY: How does reframing the way you think and talk about losing weight and exercising work? If you're walking for weight loss, lace up your sneakers and join me for this 30-minute walkcast (coached walk/podcast) to find out.

WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Exercise: Changing the thought “I HAVE TO (work out today)” gets your off your duff and ignites motivation.
  • Healthy eating: Reframing "Ugh, I HAVE TO (eat vegetables and protein)" makes healthier eating a snap.
  • At work: Reframing dreading Mondays can make that a thing of the past.

OTHER WAYS TO LISTEN:

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TRANSCRIPT

Reframing. Ep. 8

Oh, my God, I can't believe I have to go to work tomorrow. Oh, I don't want to go to the gym. I have to work out. I don't want to work out.

The year is almost starting. Oh, I just don't want to deal with it anymore.

This is the episode about reframing.

Reframing is actually kind of easy, at least when you think about it.  Doing it can be really hard because you forget to do it sometimes.  

What is reframing well? It's changing the way you talk about things and changing the way you think about certain things.

REFRAMING GIVES YOU MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE

A lot of times you don't want to work out. You don't want to go to the gym. You don't want to take a class. You don't even want to do any videos at home or go for a walk. I understand because a lot of times I feel the same way. You always tell yourself “Ugh, I have to go to the gym. Ugh, I have to work out.”

So instead of saying, “I have to work out later today.” Reframing is changing that to, “I get to work out. I want to work out.” It's looking at the good parts of working out.

For example, if you go to the gym maybe you get to see some people you really like in class. You get to listen to good music. You get to get out of the house. If you're working out at home ­— or if you're going for a walk — you get fresh air. Or if you're walking inside you get the blood pumping, you get fresh oxygen to your brain.

Once you start thinking “I have to do this,” it becomes a chore. Then you don't want to do it, start to dread it. What you want to do is reframe it so it doesn't become a chore. So it’s something that you could maybe look forward to.

Now, there are a lot of people who would like to be able to work out. Maybe someday you won't be able to work out. You want to take advantage now and you want to say, “I get to work out. I get to do this. I get to move my body. I get to feel this feeling and I want to do this. I want to feel this way. I want to see my friends. I want to listen to music.”

One thing you can do if you're walking for example — other than listening to me — is to find a really exciting audio book that you can only listen to while you are walking.

I used to do that with my elliptical machine. I would only watch a certain exciting show when I was on the elliptical, because then I would have to get on it to see what happened. You could do that with your walking or other kinds of exercise.

You could play a song that you love only when you're working out. You could listen to an exciting audio book only when you're walking, and that gives you something to look forward to. “Oh, I get to see what happens next.” “I get to work out. I want to work out.”

Think about how working out really makes you feel. This is where — in your handy dandy notebook (you can tell my son was a big fan of Blue's Clues you can write things down.

Write the negative words that you associate with it — like “I have to work out” — then write some positive ones, like “I get to work out. I want to work out. I want to listen to this music. I want to go for a walk. I know I'll be less cranky. I really want to elevate my mood.”

Think about the positives of working out and reframe. Catch yourself whenever you say “I have to,” and immediately change it to, “I get to.” Even if you just talk out loud to yourself, like I do.

Just remember reframe that. The hardest thing is to catch yourself in the moment when you're saying “I have to.” So that should be the first thing you do for this week. Change any “I have too,” to “I get to.”

I used to feel that way sometimes when I would teach a class “Oh, I have to teach tonight. I have to teach tomorrow morning,” and then I would start fretting because I have to do this. I have to get my music ready. And that made it more stressful. But the whole thing is that when I got to class, I loved it. I was so looking forward to seeing the people in class. I loved the people, I got to play really good music and I felt amazing.

I figured out the reason why. I don't like appointments. So it was like, “I have to be there at this time.” Then I started dreading the fact that I had to be there at a certain time… not the actual class. So I started to reframe that from, “I have to do this,” to “I get to teach this class tonight. I get to see so-and-so tonight. I get to do this tonight. I get to do this tomorrow morning.”

REFRAMING MAKES YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT BETTER

Reframing can help not only with exercise but also your work life, whether at a job, your own business, or if work at home taking care of the house. There's always “Oh, I have to do this.”

Maybe you've programmed yourself all this time to dread Mondays. Maybe in all reality Mondays aren't that bad. Maybe there's someone at work you really enjoy speaking with. Maybe there are customers that you really like. Maybe there's something about your job that you really like to do. Something that makes you happy.

We spend a lot of time at jobs and there's usually something there that makes us feel good. Makes us feel happy. That's what we want to focus on instead of “I have to go to work.”

Sometimes our jobs are less than ideal. And sometimes we have really crappy jobs. If you have a really crappy job, I know it's really hard to reframe.

It may be time for you to look for another job. It may be time to start planning for another job. Or start planning for another career. In the meantime, try to find something ne thing. The day at work. One thing, one person, one job, that's coming up. One project that you can actually look forward to a little bit. That way going to work won't be such a big deal and you won't start dreading it.

We only have a certain number of hours in our lives available, and every second that passes is another second that we will never get back. Every second and every minute that we're fretting or thinking negative thoughts — when we're thinking “I have to”and we're starting to dread things — those are times that these things are taking away from us. When you reframe it, it goes so much easier. You don't lose all those seconds and minutes and hours to dread and to feeling the negativity. We want to feel as much positivity in our lives as we can.

In the time that we have available on this planet — because we don't know what happens —we want to live the best lives that we can. And we want to have the best moments that we can. We need to try to make those moments in our own lives because no one's going to make those moments for us, as I'm sure you have already discovered.

You don't have to be little Ms. or little Mr. Sunshine, because no one can be happy 100% of the time. I do have an aunt who's happy around 98% of the time. And even under stress, I've never seen her crack. I'm thinking, “What, what, what are you made of? I want some of that!” The rest of us mere mortals, we will have bad days. We will have bad moments. We will have bad weeks. That's okay. And that's normal.

I try to find a few moments to reframe, even in those bad times, because it just gives us a little bit of extra impetus, a little bit of extra good feeling so we don't stay too long in the bad feelings.

When you have those moments of doubt, or when you have those moments where things aren't going right, or you just feel down, look for the little moments of joy. Even if it's watching something that's funny, or thinking back about something that's funny, or calling someone who's funny.

I have a cousin I haven't talked to in a long time. We text back and forth, but we have not had the time to talk on the phone. And we had such a great time. We talked for two hours and we laughed all about our past, about the mistakes with guys that we've made.  We couldn't stop laughing. I felt so happy. All the endorphins were flooding my system and I just felt so much better overall; so much more positive.

You can take something that happened that wasn't that great, or that at the time felt pretty bad. But then you talk about it later and you make it into something funny. You realize just how ridiculous it was at the time and how you might've thought that was normal. And so when you find someone or have someone in your life that makes you laugh, go back and rehash some really funny moments.

You have to laugh. Connecting with people will really help bring your mood up. And that's how you can reframe things. We took something that was actually kind of negative at the time, but we made it into something really funny and we could not stop laughing.

REFRAMING MAKES HEALTHY EATING EASIER

This also goes for food. “Oh, I have to eat vegetables. I have to eat protein.” As much as I love sugar — and you know I love sugar and I do eat sugar — I'm trying not to go crazy with it because when I eat like a bunch of jelly beans, for example… they are the worst aren't they?

Jelly beans make me all buzzy. I can almost feel the sugar coursing through my body and almost electrocuting me. And I think about what is my body doing with all this sugar? How is my body processing all this sugar? When you think about the foods you need to eat healthy… think about how your body feels when you eat the wrong foods for your body.

Now again, everybody is different. Some people do really well with low carb. Some people do really well with moderate carbs. I'm more of a moderate/high carb kind of girl.  Excessive sugar doesn't feel good for anybody's body.

When you pay attention to how your body's feeling and then pay attention to how your body feels when you eat healthier — when you eat salads without a ton of dressing, when you eat maybe a delicious vegetable soup with tons of vegetables, when you eat your lean protein, when you get enough for the right nutrients — your body feels pretty good and it starts to feel really amazing.  Instead of saying, “Oh, I have to eat healthy.” You want to say, “I get to eat healthy. I get to eat this because I'll get to feel good. .

 Take your little notebook or I love sticky notes too. Don't you love sticky notes? I love to buy all different colors. I have a thing for office supplies. Even when I was a little girl — when my mom had a job and I used to visit her at work sometimes — I would go into the supply room and it would be like heaven.

I just love office supplies. I go to Staples and get really excited. Anyway, I digress. Back to the sticky notes. You can take sticky notes and even put little notes on your bathroom mirror or you can put them inside your closet on the wall. Put little sticky notes about what you would normally say, and then what your new response is going to be.

Maybe it could even be two… ooh, two different colored sticky notes. The one color Could be what you would normally say. And then the other color would be your new response. So instead of saying, “I have to exercise.” You can say, “I get to see Janet tomorrow.” Instead of saying, “I have to eat salad.” You can say, “I get to try this new salad recipe I've been dying to try.” Instead of saying, “I have to go to work tomorrow,” say “I'm going to make a phone call to my favorite client and I'm going to talk to them tomorrow.”

Just think about the positives. Write down those positives, but it's also important that you take the negatives and write those down. Sometimes we forget that we're trying to catch ourselves saying something negative, and you forget what it is that you're trying to monitor yourself for.

If you write it down, on stickies or in your notebook, whenever you say “I have to” in a negative way, you can become aware of that. And then you can change that to, “I get to, I want to. I want to try this brand new recipe. I've been dying to try this vegetable lasagna recipe made with cottage cheese and whole grain, lasagna noodles. And that will be healthy. Maybe stuff it with spinach and you can say, “Oh, I get to try this. I can't wait. I've been waiting to try this recipe,” instead of saying, “I have to find something healthy to eat.”

You get to try something new, something new every day, something new every week.

So that is what reframing is all about. And it's really easy on paper, but it's not so easy in real life. Because we're not aware, of what we're saying now. One time I did this (and I don't recommend you do this… I'm not a psychologist, I'm not a psychiatrist). This was my own version of therapy I was trying a few years ago and I had this one negative thought that kept popping up into my head.

So it took a rubber band, not tight, just a regular rubber band and put it around my wrist. Every time that thought popped into my head, I would snap the rubber band. And I did not realize how many times I thought that negative thought until I kept snapping that rubber ban. I wasn’t really hurting myself, but just a little, just a little snap, snap, snap like that.

So maybe what would be really cool is if you just go get like a bunch of quarters, and then you have a little glass jar, whatever. Every time you have a negative thought about certain things, throw a quarter in the little glass jar. And then you can really see how many times you think negatively about one specific thing.

It's like when the kids and I were traveling and something would happen. And then I would laugh about it. Inside I was like, “Oh my God, I can't believe that.” But then I just kind of made it into something funny because I was determined not to be negative. At one time I was really negative. I had a really, really negative roommate, and I would be negative also . We fed on each other's negativity.

If you're a negative and someone else is negative, it's so easy to become negative. Because you feed off that, like we said, you feed off that negative energy and you almost try to “out negative each other.” I noticed that too, when I was living with my roommate. No matter what he would say, I knew in my heart that my day was worse so when I tried to say that, then he would try to negative me. And it was pretty funny.

Think about the people in your life who you may try to “out negative” or who try to “out negative” you. And it's really surprising how prevalent that is and how that affects your life.

And I'm not one of those people who believes in things like The Secret and manifest this and all that because no matter how much I think about it, Billy idol is not coming to marry me. It's not going to happen. I can think about it. I can manifest it. I can meditate on it. I could do whatever. He's not coming to marry me. I'm a realist. I know that…

No matter what it is in life, there's something that you can do to reframe a situation. Try it this week. Try to pick maybe one thing or maybe two things, or even think about something that happened in the past that was really negative at the time, but now you can make it funny (because it can be funny). You can look back at it and think, “Oh my God, that was so silly. I did such a silly thing” and you change it into something that makes you laugh.

Okay, we're going to go faster and go pick up for 45 seconds. Cause I want to trick you. GQ. Cause, I mean like that, but I mean, in a good way. So reframe it to where I'm not mean I'm just supportive of your endeavor. To get in better shape. How's that? Hold onto your pace.

This week take away the “I have to” for exercise, for example. You’re going to say, “Oh, I get to go for a walk. I get to do some core work. I get to do this video. I get to do this. I'm lucky. I want to.” And change the way this week how you think about one thing, whether it's exercise, food or your job.

Change one thing from “have to” to “I get to,” and you'll be so amazed at the difference. You can change your mind with little, little, little tiny baby steps. Just like with everything else in life.

It makes it easier if you start out with baby steps and maybe you're never going be miss positivity… you don't have to be, but for your life and your mental health and your overall enjoyment —and the success and the goals that you have — you can reframe those little things.

It will make a big difference. You don't have to be sparkly all the time.  My ex-husband's boss used to say “sparkle plenty.” You don't have to sparkle plenty.

Think about other situations in your life, maybe you're in a relationship that has more negative aspects or maybe “I have to do this” or “I have to do laundry.”  You know what? I don't like to do laundry. I'm more of a vacuuming kind of person. But when I do laundry, maybe I'll put on Saturday Night Live and I'll watch that and I'll fold my laundry.

I get it done and it's out of the way. And I didn't make it a big negative thing. I don't think about “I have to fold all that laundry.” No, my laundry is ready and I'm just going to take five minutes now and fold it. Because that's all it takes.

The litter box is a big thing too. I keep my kitty’s litter box sparkling clean. It takes literally 60 seconds to scoop the litter box. A lot of people don't do it often because they don't want to. And then the cat doesn't like a dirty litter box and they pee somewhere else. But if you don't say “I have to” say, “I'm going to take the trash out, walking right past the litter box. I'm just going to scoop it and off we go.” You don't even think about it you don't give yourself a chance to dread it. You don't give yourself a chance to talk negatively to yourself. You just do it. It's part of life. And I'm not even going to feel put upon at all.

I know the thing that we tend to do is we say hate a lot. Maybe not you, but I always say, “I hate this. I hate that. I hate this.” Well, no, I don't actually hate any of that. It's a phrase that I use and it's something that I've been trying to work on. Because I don't actually hate much. I hate people who are mean. I hate people who put other people down, but that's about all I hate (and maybe I hate fish). Other than that, I don't hate things.

A couple of weeks ago I told someone, “Oh, I hate the podcasting.” Well, I don't hate the podcasting. What it is about podcasting is I'm tired of listening to my own voice and thoughts. I have to record it, and then I have to listen to it, and then I'll cut out parts if there are any big gaps or if.  I turn away from the mic and you can't hear me. I have to listen to it. And then I have to edit the transcript. If you've watched, “…as the transcript pages turn,” you'll see. It's completely crazy because I don't speak clearly, I guess. And the AI can't understand me.

So I have to edit it over and over again. By the time you hear this, I've heard myself so many times. It's like, “I don't want to listen to Helen anymore. All she does is talk to me.”

I'm making myself aware again, of the fact that I'm using the word “hate” when I really don't hate something. Maybe I don't feel like doing something or maybe it's annoying to me, but I don't actually hate it.

Sometimes we forget how lucky we are that we can do the things we do. A lot of people have chronic issues. I have chronic pain. My daughter has fibromyalgia. I had a woman in my spin class for years. She was young and had chronic, arthritis. She said, “Well, I hurt whether I work out or not so I might as well work out.” And that was like the best attitude.

For those who don't have any chronic pain or issues… why not? Why not take advantage of the fact that you feel pretty good?

And that you are able to exercise. You get to exercise. Do that this week, just think about framing it into “I get to, I get to, I get to.” And the next week, pick something else and find a word or a phrase that you want to eliminate from your thoughts and change that. And then put a little note as to what you want to change it to. Maybe you start with food next week and the week after, maybe start with a job or a project.

You don't say “I have to” when you're getting ready to plan for vacation. You're like, “Oh, I'm going to do this. I'm going to go shopping. I'm going to make the reservations.” But you don't do that when like you're getting ready to do spring cleaning (winter cleaning or whatever it is that you do).

So just really think about the way that you talk to yourself. You’ve to be nice to yourself. Who else is going to be nice to you?

So this episode number eight. This is a big episode for me. Because many podcasts fold after episode seven. This is episode eight. We're going to celebrate. Celebrate good times. Come on. Don't you hate that song? Oh, I just did it! Did you see what I said? I just said it. “Hate.” I actually do not like that song but I sing it anyway. Why? I don't know. It's ingrained in my brain.

But you see how easily that just slipped out of there from me? That's one thing I really need to work on… saying the word hate. So if you catch me doing it in another podcast I want you to let me know and say, “Listen, Helen, you said you were not going to do that and you did it.”

And I hope that I get to walk with you again one day soon. 

Published March 8, 2021