Stories are so powerful. We tell ourselves all sorts of stories about our performance on the bike and our bodies.
Our stories can lift us up, or unfortunately, they can also tear us down.
We will beat ourselves up, say we aren’t good enough. We downplay accomplishments with ourselves and others and focus on what we still feel we need to do, instead of what we have done.
For example, I remember when I came back to work after we had shut down for a number of months in 2020 due to COVID. I can’t remember exactly how much weight I had lost at this point, but it was at least 20-30 pounds.
People would notice and give me a compliment. They said I looked good! It felt amazing.
But, at first, instead of just accepting the compliment and saying thank you, I would say, “Ahhh thanks! I am getting there! Have a ways to go!”
I took that high feeling of getting a compliment and it was almost like I told myself “well you can’t feel too good about this!”
Our default brain often will tell us that it is braggy to accept criticism and celebrate our accomplishments, but this can actually keep us from really achieving all that we want to achieve.
If you find this happens with you from time to time, read on to learn a bit more about how to change your story in order to meet your weight loss and cycling goals.
This simple, four step process is something you can work through right now to identify and change stories that aren’t helpful, and keep the ones that are.
Step 1: Notice Your Story
The first part of this process is to actually notice the stories that you are telling about yourself.
So many times we put ourselves down in our heads and to others without even realizing it!
You need to identify the story, and decide if it’s one that makes you feel good. Consider the following questions:
What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?
What do you say when you are climbing a big hill?
Are you loving? Encouraging? Or are you tearing yourself down and beating yourself up?
When someone compliments you, how do you respond? Do you graciously accept the comment, or do you find a way to diminish it and put yourself down?
Make a list of your stories. Write them down in a journal or in a google doc. One you have them in front of you then you can get to analyzing them and making some choices about which ones stay, and which ones go.
Step 2: Decide If You Want to Keep It
Now that you have identified the stories that you tell, you need to ask yourself if they are stories you want to keep.
Do the stories you tell make you feel good? Do they make you actually want to keep going? To achieve your goals?
Or do they just tear you down? Make you feel bad?
The key here is that you are in charge. It is your life, and your body, and you can tell any story that you want.
You get to decide whether or not you are going to keep a story, change it, or get rid of it altogether.
After a couple of compliments where I had a bit of a self-deprecating reaction, I decided that it didn’t really feel good.
I didn’t like the story that I lost some weight but had more to lose. I decided to let this story go, and stop telling it to myself and others.
In the same vein, when people ask if I have been riding a lot I used to say, “Well, not enough.” That’s not particularly empowering! I was telling myself that I am not enough, and I didn’t want to keep that story.
It was time to make some changes to these stories, and make them ones that would make me feel really good and bring me closer to my goals.
Step 3: Choose a Story that Resonates With You and Lifts You Up
I intentionally chose to put the emphasis on what I had accomplished already, because that was amazing.
I started to tell the story that I lost some weight, and that is amazing.
I tell the story that I make cycling a priority and get on the bike whenever I can, and that is enough.
When I looked in the mirror, instead of focusing on places I felt like my body needed to look better, I focused on being grateful that I have a body.
That my body is strong and allows me to do great things. I started to really focus on appreciating what it could do, and letting go of the story that It was too lumpy, too round, and not good enough.
You are in power. You are in control. Go ahead and write a story about your life that is going to make you want to achieve your goals.
Step 4: Practice Telling Your New Story
Now that you have an idea of the stories that you want to tell about cycling and your body, practice telling them!
Say your new story to yourself when you look in the mirror.
When someone compliments me now and says I look great? I try simply and graciously saying “thank you.” Sometimes I still may add one of those self deprecating comments, but I do it a lot less.
And each time I do it I tell myself that it’s not true. I say “Stacy, you’re doing great. You’re doing exactly what you need to do right now. You made amazing progress. Keep up the good work!”
This is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes some thought to rewrite your stories and actually believe them. The more that you practice the stories you want the tell, the easier it is going to be for you to believe them.
Step 5: Let Go of Everyone Else’s Stories
Always remember that your story is the only one that matters. It really sucks, but there may be other people who tell stories about you that you don’t like.
Sometimes these are even people that we love. Everyone has their own story about us.
Know that anyone else’s story about you is just that. It’s their story. It’s not yours.
We need to let go of all of the stories that don’t serve us. The kid that teased you about your weight in 5th grade? That was their story. Not yours.
Let it go. It has nothing to do with you.
Most people who tell negative stories about us are likely trying to make themselves feel better.
They may be insecure about something and are trying to make themselves feel better by telling a crappy story about you.
Honestly, though? It doesn’t even matter why they are telling the story. It’s their story, their business, their problem, and it doesn’t concern you.
A Final Note
Never underestimate the power of a story.
The stories we tell about ourselves, our bodies, and our time on the bike define who we are.
Stories can set us up for success, or make it harder to achieve our goals.
Be intentional about creating your story.
Know that you can create (and believe!) any story that you like. Any story that lights you up, and makes you feel good about your body and riding your bike.
When we embrace the stories about our bodies that make us feel good, we start to believe them. We start to make choices that we know the version of us who has achieved her goals will make.
We make progress, and we do it from a place of love and appreciation for who we are right now.
Practice this. Try on those new stories. See how they make you feel. See how much closer you can get to achieving your goals when you tell stories about how capable you are.