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Thursday, April 10, 2014

All In Challenge: A Word on Self Efficacy

All in challenge is going strong. It is day 10 and we are starting to really feel great. I personally am starting to feel that dreaded fog lifting while I am at work, making me ever-more capable of doing my job! So... Let's talk Self Efficacy shall we?!

Self Efficacy is defined by wikipedia as: The extent or strength of one's belief in one's own ability to complete tasks or reach goals. 

This term was brought up during the All in Challenge meeting at our gym on Monday. Our awesome coach Chris had 4 points he shared (from It Starts with Food and from his extensive experience in self-motivation work). These points are characteristics are someone who has self efficacy.

  1. Looks at a challenge as difficult but can be overcome
  2. Interested in activities that interact well with their goals 
  3. Makes a solid commitment
  4. Recuperates quickly from setbacks and stumbles. 
If someone asked me if I displayed qualities of self efficacy I might be unsure in my response, at first. But then, after looking over this list and thinking of what I have accomplished in my life, I can tell you that I do.

Over the years I have struggled, as we all do, with being HUMAN. Sticking to my physical health goals is not something that comes naturally to me. I have had to work really hard at it to get as far as I have. As I've mentioned, many times, my addiction and eating disorders have made it really challenging to maintain a healthy balance for very long.

After a meeting a few months ago with my other coach and friend Annie, I came to realize that a lot of my setbacks are inspired by the fear of the unknown. I've never consistently had a great relationship with food, or my appearance. As soon as I got close to a really healthy place; started feeling peace within myself, I suddenly became overwhelmed with pressure. I feared that people might expect different things from me that I wouldn't be able to provide. I feared that I will lose all that I had worked so hard for, and then feel the rush of shame that comes with it. I feared that people would view me as a role model or put me on a pedestal, where I didn't feel I fit because I am not perfect. All of those things and more are the reason I have fought so hard with my battle toward better physical health.

The point that Annie made, a point that Stefani Ruper makes in her book Sexy by Nature, is that I CAN DO IT. I am strong enough to do it, by far, and other people don't matter on MY journey (as long as I am not hurting them). That I have done so much for myself in both this and other fascets of my life is PROOF that I can work through the fears that have plagued me. I left an abusive relationship when I had NO idea what was on the other side. I have taken many leaps without a net in sight, trusting my gut. I am willing and capable of doing those incredible things because deep down inside I KNOW I AM WORTH IT!

So let's review:

1. Looks at challenges as being difficult but can be overcome:

I take on challenges every day because I feel life is worth living by my standards. I don't let challenges drag me down, I let them fuel my fire.

2. Interested in activities that interact well with their goal:

I surround myself with people who help me to be healthy EVERY SINGLE DAY. Some of them are able to be in my life in a local sense, others, thanks to the amazing technology we have, support me and surround me with their love from a distance. I immerse myself in books and videos, knowledge is power. I continue to go to a gym where I am loved and respected for who I am inside and out.

3. Makes a solid commitment:

I'm often described as persistent and resilient. Like I said, my physical health journey hasn't come easily to me and with culture and society to fight against it can be difficult. It is important to know, I will never give up, ever.

4. Recuperates quickly from setbacks and stumbles:

Chris said that this takes time, resilience, and practice, but it does get better. When he was talking about this point my face felt hot with shame as I thought he was speaking directly to me about my own stumbles and setbacks. But then, suddenly like a breath of fresh air, he said something that relieved that stress and lead to a bit of an epiphany:

The first time might be tough, it might take 2 years to bounce back. Then the next time it might take 6 months. But if you keep going it will take 2 months and then only 2 weeks, soon only 2 hrs and 2 minutes and then finally you will realize that there aren't any more set backs mentally, emotionally or physically because you've bested them. 

This, mixed with the messages from Sexy By Nature I realized that the 4th point of self efficacy is NOT  about shame at all... it is about LOVE!!!! If you love yourself through the tough moments, they will be shorter and shorter, they will be further spaced. Until, one day, there is never a time when you're beating yourself up and turning a cookie into a 3 month binge. SELF LOVE IS EVERYTHING!

On that note. If you have made it this far, and you haven't read her post about this yet, check out Stefani's post on why LOVE IS THE NEW SKINNY

Anyway, Self love is sexy, y'all! It's not vain or crass or conceited, It is healthy and CONTAGIOUS!  And, with all of this, I have learned that self love and self efficacy are one in the same. 


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