Television, books, magazines and social media are just a few of the ways we are repeatedly told that our happiness is dependent on how we look. If we can just lose enough weight, wear the right clothes, use the right skin care product, have the perfect smile or have a procedure to improve our perceived physical defects, then we will be happy. The truth is real happiness happens from the inside out. These are five basic steps that might help you begin to find that internal happiness that will allow you to experience life to the fullest: 1. Allow yourself to experience success. So many times we set ourselves up for failure by making our goals too large. If you tell yourself that you need to lose 50 pounds and “only” lose 45 pounds, the message that you may give yourself is: “See, I knew I couldn’t do it. I wanted to lose 50 pounds and couldn’t even do that.” Set your goals up in a way that allows you to feel successful. Your new goal might be to lose 5 pounds, to eat a healthy breakfast five mornings during the week, or to go on a 15-minute walk three mornings this week. Celebrate your success and set up another manageable goal. Specific goals are important. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know when you get there. 2. Take control of your life rather than allowing yourself to be a victim of circumstances. When you are going away with friends for a long weekend or an evening out, make sure you have what you need to be successful — a plan. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish while you are with your friends. Do you want to be in control of your time with friends? Do you want to order what you want and then bring home half of the meal? Is this the restaurant that you have been waiting to go to for months and you want with no limits? There isn’t a right or wrong choice. There are just consequences to each choice. The key word in this is “choice.” There should be no “I should have, could have or would have” statements. 3. Find people in your life who are supportive of you. If there is one person you repeatedly go to who you want to be your cheerleader but there are never any cheers, then you need to find another person to support you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that this person is a “bad” person; they just might not be able to give you what you need, and it probably has nothing to do with you. It might actually make your relationship with that person better because you are no longer looking for their approval, and they are no longer feeling like a failure because they can’t give you what you need. 4. Pay attention to that voice in your head that keeps telling you, you have no value or are a failure. Try to change that voice to say the things that you would say to a friend if they came to you with the struggles you are feeling. Most likely you would support your friend and encourage them not to beat themselves up and to just move on. 5. Take on the attributes of the person you want to become. I once had a client who was going on a weeklong cruise. She was concerned about all the available food and the effects it would have on her weight loss success. When she returned from her trip having lost weight, I asked her what she had done to stay on track. She replied: “I just walked on that ship and told myself that I am a healthy person, and I am going to behave like a healthy person. I ate like a healthy person; I exercised like a healthy person; and I participated in activities like a healthy person.” She took on the attributes of the person she wanted to become. As a personal trainer, I know that permanent physical transformations require much more than just adding in some exercise. It is a total transformation in how you think about yourself. If you don’t feel deserving of good things, you won’t be able to experience and appreciate all the good things that happen in your life. Find that person in your life who can support you and your success. If you don’t already have that person, I would love to be your cheerleader! Carla Linder-Mayer grew up in Naperville. She and her husband, Mark, have been married since 1977 and raised their three children here. She owns Reality Fitness, 39 ½ W. Jefferson Ave. in Naperville. Contact her at 630-357-7087.
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