One of the things I love about my job as a nutritionist and dietitian is that I get to help men and women in their 40’s and 50’s use nutrition therapy to get them have more energy, health and vitality.
I feel a sense of optimism and excitement when we examine their current lifestyle and then work together to create a health-focused plan for weight loss, weight management, and other areas of their health like managing symptoms of menopause, hormone imbalance, low energy, optimizing aging, preventing cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more.
There is one thing that I have noticed in working with mid-life clients.
They are self-critical. Brutally self-critical. They tend to berate themselves, whether it is their knowledge, skills (meal-planning, shopping, cooking, organization), abilities and/or their whole being as a person (“I am lazy”; “I am a terrible cook”; “I am disorganized”; “What’s wrong with me?”).
While they are often very successful in most parts of their lives, they tend to feel unsuccessful in the nutrition and activity part of their life. Their perception of self-failure leads to a starting place of negativity and shame.
Hitting “rock bottom” with how crappy we feel can highlight what is missing from our lives, and can become a catalyst for a change. However, I would invite people to stop their self-criticism and self-deprecating comments which breed negativity, isolation, and shame.
Why do we believe that we need to feel worse to do better? Stop focusing on what is all wrong with your diet and lifestyle. Here’s why.
According to the theory of Appreciative Inquiry, positive actions and outcomes stem from positive energy and emotion (1). This positive energy and emotion tends to broaden our thinking, increase our abilities, offset negatives and generate new possibilities, creating an upward spiral of learning and growth (1). Lifestyle change in midlife is hard. But starting from a position of self-criticism is not energizing or inspiring.
Instead, I would invite people interested in eating and living better to ask themselves different questions.
Taking this more positive approach can become a source of positive energy in your life, rather than another reminder of what is wrong and not going well. Which approach energizes and inspires you?
As is written on the walls of my local yoga studio, “Where intention goes, energy flows”.