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Mon

11

Mar

2013

MyMondayTip: Take a Break And Stop Worrying About Your Self-Esteem

Overcoming low self-esteem is not an overnight change. And if your low self-esteem is especially burdensome, understandably you are eager to overcome it. But though impatience can motivate you to practice and to do exercises, being overeager can lead you further away from your goal. The more you pay attention to the lack of self-esteem, the more it will dominate your life.

 

Therefore it is advisable to take a break from working on your self-esteem, from time to time. You may even discover that your self-esteem is better than you think. Now your real, true self can shimmer through and you are able to experience your natural self-esteem. At least you can use your break to take stock and re-organize your practice. Then, after one or two weeks, have a fresh start and practice with new vigor.

 

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Fri

22

Feb

2013

The Truth About Diets – Which Diets Are Scientifically Proven?

diet confusion

Spring is just around the corner (at least in the northern hemisphere). This not only the time when flowers bloom and robins sing, but also when people to start to worrying about their weight again. Are you still carrying a little holiday weight or even more from the whole last year? When you start to browse Amazon for diet books, the variety is almost overwhelming. And what is more, often the methods for loosing weight are contradictory. What to eat, when to eat, how much and how often one should eat.

 

What has science to say?

To help you in your efforts to loose weight, let's shed some light on the scientific proof of popular and well-known diets with the help of David Allison. He is a professor of the University of Alabama and has published a meta-study on diets in the New England Journal of Medicine. The goal was to find out which of the many diet methods and advices are actually scientifically proven.

 

Confusion all over the place

Eggs in the morning, good or bad? Cucumber at thunderstorm, helpful or to be avoided?Slow carbs or low carbs? Less fat or more of good fats? And so on. The overall result of Allison's research is, in a nutshell: There is hardly any proof at all. (And I will turn to what's really working below.) Even worse, he found out that a lot of studies were fabricated to prove the assumption of the scientist. This is probably the result of the “publish-or-perish” culture of modern science. You are only rewarded for finding something, not for finding nothing.

 

Shattered myths

Here are some diet myths that actually have no substantiated proof:

  1. The slow carb diet (avoiding sugar and any carbohydrates that are metabolized fast): Apparently your carbs can be fast and furious.
  2. Physical activity alone won't help you to loose weight. Unless you spend hours a day in the gym or elsewhere (and that means you are a professional) you won't see significant results.
  3. Breakfasting: In 90 studies Allison found no real proof that it is helpful for weight loss if you have a breakfast each day.
  4. Reducing calories only moderately is not conducive to weight loss. It probably takes too long to see results and sustained willpower for a very long time. People simply give up.

 

What does actually work?

  1. Loosing weight fast at the beginning: This is another surprising finding, because we have been told for a long time to avoid crash-diets like hell as they slow down metabolism. This is supposed to lead to weight gain after the diet (the so-called “yo-yo-effect”). Apparently, metabolism does not change that fast and the initial weight loss keeps one motivated.
  2. Eating the same meals over and over again. I assume this keeps you out of a danger to consume too much calories without knowing. That is why convenience diet products or formula products work, because you don't have to worry about calories any more.
  3. Exercise for keeping weight: If you want to avoid the yo-yo-effect and keep your new weight in long run, exercise on a regular basis.

 

Good or bad news?

I think Allison's findings are both bad news and good news at the same time. Bad news, because one really wants to know how to loose weight and which diet one should follow. Good news, because you don't have to study diet books and spend money on overpriced programs any more. At the end of the day it all boils down to one rule: If you want to loose weight, your daily intake of calories has to be less than your body consumes.

 

The ultimate formula

If we add the findings of David Allison to the general rule, we can created the ultimate formula for weight loss, one rule to rule them all: Go for a drastic cut of calories at the beginning, say for seven days to be on the safe side. Lower your daily caloric intake moderately as a change of life-style (lower than before you start dieting). Finally, add some physical activities on a regular basis.

 

You may find it disappointing that weight loss boils down to common sense, I think it's a relief. There is no short-cut, no secret; all you need are a pair of scales, a calorie chart, and more or less perseverance, depending on how much weight you want to loose.

 

Related articles:

Self-image and self-esteem

Do not compare yourself to others

 

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Mon

28

Jan

2013

MyMondayTip: Dismiss Slights and Criticism Upfront

Frozen scones will break my bones,

but words will never hurt me.

                                         Unknown Devonshire poet

 

Unlike that poet from England, you may know that words can hurt a lot. If slights, potshots, and criticism hit your sore point, the impact on your self-esteem can have lasting consequences. It's therefore important to stop the damage right at the beginning. You want to dismiss slights and criticism before they are absorbed by your whole system.

 

Let the pain be your alarm bell

In the long term, if you work on your self-esteem, the reaction to criticism will change. In the short term all you can do is to limit the damage. And the emotional reaction – as painful as it is in itself – can serve as an alarm bell to notify you that something is wrong. Your reaction is the result of a damaged self-esteem, but it is not a true information. You shouldn't take it at face value. As soon as you feel the pain you can decide that you're going to dismiss any further reaction.

 

Example: You are sitting in a coffeehouse, trying to get the attention of the waitress. Apparently, she is in a foul mood. Without any further words she takes your order. Now, with a low, damaged self-esteem you will feel mortified. But this very feeling is your wake-up call. You decide to take no further notice of both her behavior and your reaction.

 

Cut the matter short

This short cut might feel a little bit strange at the beginning. (“Don't I have to think about it? Maybe it was my fault. Or maybe not, then I have to admonish her for her outrageous, abominable behavior. How dare she …” ) But this is exactly the reaction you want to stop, as it only adds salt to injury. Later on, after some practice, it will feel more naturally, because it is the truth: Slights, criticism, and words of all kinds do not affect what you really are, the natural, real self. That is why you can dismiss them upfront.

 

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Mon

07

Jan

2013

How to Follow Through With New Year's Resolutions

Reaching or failing to reach a goal determines our self-esteem almost more than anything. When we fail to reach our goals, the Ego is victorious and our higher, real self comes in second. And even if we solace ourselves, promise to do it better next time, deep inside of us we know that we have deserted ourselves.

 

“Trying is the first step toward failure” (Homer Simpson)

A resolution to change anything in your life – may it be on New Year's day or any other day – is therefore a risky business. If your intention is only lukewarm like, “I'd like to try to eat healthier this year”, failure is just around the corner. The result would be more damage to your self-esteem. But how can we increase the chances that we actually follow through with our resolutions?

 

Going public

One way to raise your motivation is to make your resolution public. Tell the world (family, friends, colleagues) what you are going to do. From that point you know that they are watching. You have created a sense of accountability. Now failure is no longer a private matter. The potential embarrassment will motivate you to stick to your goal.

 

Raising the stakes

You can increase your motivation even further if you add financial incentives. For example, you can draw up a contract with a friend binding yourself to pay a fine if you don't reach your goal. The fine should be significant, more than just buying a coffee. The more important your goal is, the higher should be the fine. And consider to make it legally binding. Sometimes we have to adopt drastic measures to beat the ego and its tricky way to ruin our life.

 

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