Health & Wellness Articles

Put the ''I'' Back in Your Vocabulary

Increase Your Chances for Weight-Loss Success


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

  • 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
  • What goes in my mouth, I am resposible fore.
    I now have protien shake mix (Winco savay) and veggie powder that I can add yogurt,frozen banana, peanut butter, cereal, fresh friut, whole grain bread, sugar free jello, or anything I need from the food be done with eating and meet my requirements fot the day,... and get on with my day.
    No one can take that from me. The house can eat all the food for I dont care. I want and do and have better and more important things to do. Like start actualy living my life, and not be a slave to my fat belly and food. - 1/8/2013 7:22:01 PM
  • The reason I chose "ForME " for my company name. it's just simple.
    http://formetra - 12/23/2012 2:27:29 AM
  • While I agree that only I can put food in my mouth,chew, and swallow it, it doesn't help that my retired husband wants to eat in fast food restaurants, wants to buy me candy, wants to cook potatoes, does a carby pea soup giving me 1.5 servings rather than 1 serving, and that is just the start. He has been retired for 5 years now and I have gained 20 pounds. He loves 3cooked meals a day., and gets rather huffy if I decline food. Right now, his life revolves around food and eating it, and he is never happier than when I'm in the kitchen cooking. He loves to cook too. Our conversations are about what we are going to eat and when we are going to eat it, what is in the freezer what is in the fridge, what I need to bake, what recipe we should use,our grocery list, which grocery stores have the best deals, what we have eaten in the past. Which grocery stores are outrageously expensive, and that is just the start He goes on from there. Anyway, you get the gist. - 10/28/2012 11:08:38 PM
  • The only problem I have with the "I" statements is that sometimes it's not a choice. For instance, I have to do all the cooking and cleaning at home (or else it doesn't get done at all) so I end up not having time to do other things. Good grief, I get up at 5:30am and go to work, study at lunch (I'm in grad school), spend as much time as possible exercising after work (20 min to an hour), then cook dinner, do dishes, take care of any other cleaning or prep for the next day (usually that means making lunch in advance), and go to bed. If I'm lucky, I might get to watch 30 min or so of TV MAYBE. My "I" statement is that I don't have time for very much "fun" stuff like working out or catching my favorite show. - 10/9/2012 6:05:34 PM

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