Donna looked right at that huge chunk of chocolate she was about to shove into her mouth and thought to herself, “Why am I doing this? Why am I breaking all the healthy habits that I’ve tried so hard to create for myself?” And, in that moment, she realized she felt too exhausted and fed up to care about her weight, her health or her wellbeing. It didn’t matter, and she didn’t matter.
Donna’s work as an international facilitator and coach has meant she’s spent many hours on the road – long-haul flights, strange hotels, irregular eating patterns and weird (not always wonderful!) cuisine. One year, only a few years back, she lost an entire month’s worth of sleep due to her crazy, long haul travel schedule…and that doesn’t include all the sleepless nights due to jetlag. Now that’s a lot of sleep deprivation!
During a trip to Africa (a 30 hour flight from Australia), she was sitting in her hotel room one night and all she could think about was where her next caffeine or sugar hit was coming from. She was tired, homesick and didn’t know how she’d summon up the energy for two more days of training people. Donna reached into her suitcase, brought out her emergency ration of chocolate and started to break off a huge chunk.
And that’s when Donna realized something: with an “it doesn’t matter, I don’t matter” mindset, she was on the fast track to unhealthy food choices, skipping workouts, drinking too much (of anything but water), and self-sabotage.
This realization was quite a breakthrough. As a behavior change specialist, Donna is always on the lookout to help people understand how their behavior impacts their results, and what better way to learn than through her own experience? Donna knew that with a mindset that said “it doesn’t matter”, she would probably spend the next few days eating too much chocolate and other sugary snacks, drinking a lot of coffee and probably gaining a few pounds. Not ideal, but she also new that returning to her familiar routines could quickly restore the balance.
However, with an “I don’t matter” mindset, she was really telling herself that she was unimportant, worthless and not good enough. Her inner dialogue was saying that it didn’t matter what choices she made to take care of herself on another of her tiring trips overseas, because she didn’t matter.
Most of us have a belief – anything from a quiet whisper to a loud roar – that tells us we’re not good enough. If that belief is very strong there is little chance of being able to look, feel or be your best because there will always be a little voice that contradicts you, saying “but you don’t matter.”.
Donna and I believe that the “it doesn’t matter, I don’t matter” mindset lies at the heart of many weight, health and body confidence issues; it was certainly at the core of our own weight struggles. When I had an eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, my body weight plummeted to just 81lb and I could see every bone in my body. Even though I thought each pound lost would result in feeling better about my body, the reality is that as my weight dropped my self-loathing increased. I didn’t think I mattered enough to love myself.
When Donna was 70lbs overweight, she thought so little of herself that it didn’t matter what she ate, or how much of it, and she continued to yo-yo diet for over 7 years. Each time she tried to take charge of her weight or go on another diet, that little voice kicked in and she’d sabotage all of her success, ending up heavier than when she started.
Although Donna and I have come from opposite ends of the weight spectrum and have now been at our confident weight for over 15 years, our journeys to feeling comfortable in our own skin have been remarkably similar. We knew that our beliefs and thinking patterns had played havoc with our self-esteem and our weight came to represent just how little we loved and cared for ourselves. We both had to make changes to our mindset so that our weight stopped being the measuring stick for our worth.
Making the shift from a destructive mindset to “It Matters, I Matter” is one of the most powerful changes you can make to start loving yourself more. To help with this, we are both big believers in repeating affirmations to crowd out those negative, destructive belief patterns we have all held onto for so long.
Once Donna had identified the “It Matters, I Matter” mindset in her hotel room back in Africa, she started to practice this affirmation multiple times a day. Every time she reached for another cup of coffee, an afternoon cake or her emergency chocolate ration, she would say to herself: “It matters what I eat and drink, I matter.”.
During those last few days of her trip, Donna started to make choices that made her feel good about how she was taking care of herself. Donna’s the first to admit that she’s no saint so she still enjoyed her morning coffee and some of her favorite chocolate, but she felt back in control. She was in the driver’s seat of her weight, health and wellbeing – and it all came down to that simple, but powerful, shift in her mindset.
When we started to teach and coach people using this “It Matters, I Matter” mindset, we discovered that it had a profound impact for our clients too. They started to say “no” to the office donuts; cook more meals at home; have the courage to try a Zumba class for the first time; go to bed a little earlier; take time out for themselves. Most importantly, they felt a growing confidence in how they felt about themselves on the inside, which in turn made them want to look better on the outside.
If you want to start living more fully and loving yourself more, these four simple words could change your life: “It Matters, I Matter”.
Go ahead, and start using them today!