How do you measure success when it comes to your health? Is it a clothing size? A number on the scale? Or is it on how you are moving the needle toward better self-care? Maybe it’s all of the above. Although, if your success is only measured by a number…beware. In our size-obsessed society it’s easy to get sucked into that trap of measuring our success, heck – even our self-worth – by a number on the scale. Our culture supports, encourages and capitalizes on this mentality (or shall I say “insanity”?). This statement might seem strange coming from someone who operates a program that is known for helping people to achieve their healthy weight. Yet, at the root of our program is an unwavering commitment to helping others shift toward more health-supportive behaviors in body, heart and mind. For many, learning to focus on the behaviors that better support self-care can make all the difference between feeling like “I need to fix myself’ to the more empowering feeling of “I choose to care for myself.” Which thought would you prefer to have reverberating through your mind? Personally, I’ll take the latter.
You see, healthy weight loss and management requires the presence of health-supportive behaviors, and is only sustainable if we are practicing these new behaviors in the spirit of honoring rather than punishing or depriving ourselves in the process. For many who first visit Structure House, this is a new and liberating experience, which is why we have a solid following of alumni. They return not because they have “failed,” but because they know what helps them to get back on track with their health, or what helps them to maintain and build upon the many positive changes they have already made.
With that in mind, at Structure House we just had an alumni appreciation week, called Success Week that was aimed at highlighting the ways in which alumni have improved their overall quality of life since their first visit to our program. This special week gives a voice to our alumni who have been “in the trenches,” and who have learned through trial and error (and success!) how to better manage and accept the inevitable ebb and flow that permeates the process of change. They shared openly with participants who are just beginning their health journey, such things as
- how to keep going when the going got tough,
- how self-compassion and acceptance for the process were key for staying the course,
- and why asking for support when faced with wanting to give up, helped to empower them to stay on the perfectly imperfect path toward becoming what we call Structure House Strong.
Let’s face it, change is hard. Change in the presence of self-compassion and patience is even harder. But these components are key because positive change can only come from self-regard – not from self-criticism. But often we use self-criticism to help motivate ourselves to change, but it ends up being the detour and not the shortcut we think it will be.
In my 20+ years in guiding others on how to live a healthier life, I have witnessed that those who can stay focused on the quality of life reasons as to why they embarked on their health journey in the first place, are the ones who are rewarded the most. So, my question for you is this: How are you defining and then measuring success on your health journey? Is success only measured by a number, or is it inclusive of the intrinsic indicators that have brought you closer to living a life rooted in self-care? Want to be Structure House Strong? Need help? Our doors are always open.