Health & Wellness Articles

Put the ''I'' Back in Your Vocabulary

Increase Your Chances for Weight-Loss Success

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This self-responsibility is the necessary foundation upon which all success is built. Unless you take the time to build this foundation for yourself, your chances of being successful at permanent weight loss are not good. This doesn’t mean, of course, that starting your sentences with an "I" statement is going to make all your conflicting demands go away. There may well be days when deciding not to follow your plan is the best choice you can make under the circumstances. And, as long as you know that it is you making these decisions—not the job, or the family, or the food—you won’t have to worry about falling off the wagon completely. You’ll know that it is just one decision, and that you can make a different one 10 minutes later if you want to. That can really help you take a lot of the stress out of difficult situations, because it’s usually the feeling of being powerless that really gets those stress hormones flowing. A key to staying in control is using "I" statements.

Practicing "I" Statements Every Day

If you’re like most people, you probably don't use many "I" statements, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. It may take some time and practice before this becomes second nature for you. Here’s what you can do to help yourself out:

Before the fact
Whenever you notice a persistent problem in any aspect of your weight loss program—whether it’s related to food choices, exercise, or motivation—try to define the problem in writing. What specifically are you doing (or not doing) that you need to change? Why do you think this keeps happening? What are the major triggers or causes of this problem? Do this writing without thinking or worrying about being “correct” at first. Just write down whatever comes to you when you are thinking about the problem, and don’t worry about finding solutions at this point.

Then, go over what you have written with a fine-toothed comb, looking at the language you used. Do those words make it sound like you’re in charge, or as if something else is in charge of you? Go back through the words you wrote, changing any passive verbs to active verbs ("My lunches are packed by my husband" becomes "I let my husband pack my lunches") and replacing any external forces with "I" statements (“It was too cold to walk outside today” becomes “I decided I didn’t want to walk in the cold today”). Once you have done this, go through your problem statement again and see what solutions come to mind.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • Hey, this guy is a behavioral psychologist! This is probably one of the best articles I have read on SP!!! I am going to read the entire three parts. Thanks again SP this article is a big home run! - 8/8/2015 11:18:22 AM
  • Thank you for a much needed and helpful article! - 8/4/2015 9:03:18 AM
  • I found this article very insightful. I've been on track, losing weight and increasing my activity levels since July 2014. I still have 70 more pounds to lose. I like this author's suggestion that I am responsible for my own success. I make the choices.
    For me, two other concepts have also helped. I saw a motivational sign here in SP that said, "There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Can't you spare 30 of them for exercise?". The other was what my doctor said that kicked off my weight loss quest. "Barb, losing weight is simply more calories out than calories in." It's a simple equation, that I am totally in control of IF I HONESTLY TRACK MY FOOD INTAKE AND ACTIVITIES. Sometimes, the progress is very slow. But it works. - 3/13/2015 6:17:30 PM
  • I feel (see what i did there) that it should be pointed out that people with eating disorders do this compulsively. Accepting personal responsibility is nice and all, but as a person who is recovering from eating disorders, let me assure you, the "I" thing can get out of hand. For example (trigger warning) i can say "I don't have to eat." I can use that to fuel my disordered behavior all day long.

    So, perhaps a more balanced approach is needed? Perhaps we should all learn to see when something is within our power to change and when it is not? - 3/13/2015 3:10:09 PM
  • Why do I exercise? I do it for me. My health is my responsibility. Not my mother's, my signifant other, my dog, my kid, or whoever. I don't do exercise for my family, my church, god, my mother, the dog, the cat, or the weather. Or whatever.

    I do it for me. It's ok to deserve things like self-care. If you feel "controlled", then you definitely need more "I" statements in your life. If you are feeling controlled by others, seeking out some professional help can be a good thing.

    I work to make better choices most days.

    The hard part about some of these articles is knowing which might apply to your own situation and which ones might not. - 2/2/2015 11:54:36 AM
  • I really needed something like these 10 steps. I want to keep the weight off. I am grateful! - 8/27/2014 9:28:41 AM
  • KATHI319
    Very good article, Can be applied to all aspects of ones life especially if they
    unknowingly have the victim mentality. - 1/7/2014 6:50:10 PM
    This story is ridiculous. It's like the whole "power of positive thinking" mentality. The problem with this is that talk is cheap. Take some action, be mindful of your food intake and exercise regularly and you'll lose weight. - 1/5/2014 9:19:05 AM
  • "I" will make intelligent decisions about my own behavior regarding food and exercise. - 11/30/2013 6:00:47 PM
  • I need to prioritze making a habit of using I in my weightloss strategy. It reallymakes sense I think itwill be bery helpful Good article. Thanks! - 8/12/2013 9:15:27 PM
  • Great article. "I" had never thought of this before, but it is SO true. - 7/15/2013 3:09:34 PM
  • Very insightful! I will definitely be putting the "I", back into my way of thinking - 5/27/2013 7:23:08 PM
    I too have put 'I' into my action, thank you SparkPeople!!! - 3/10/2013 11:35:27 PM
  • I've put the I back into my vocabulary. - 2/22/2013 6:23:01 PM
  • PAUL2274
    Taking responsibility for our actions...mmmm seems like a concept that is very lacking in todays society... everyone is too busy pointing fingers and making excuses. - 2/3/2013 5:27:49 PM

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