Arlene B. Englander

Licensed Psychotherapist, LCSW, MBA, PA

Cut Yourself Slack!- to Get and Stay Slim

The gifted actress, Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”, “Heat”, etc.)  spoke in a recent interview of her life-long struggles with weight, and reflecting on her youth said, “In my twenties I was in great shape, but I didn’t appreciate it. When I was a 6 or an 8, I wanted to be a 2 or a 4.”

It’s sad that so many of us, myself included at one point, berate ourself for not being perfect, rather than allow ourselves to appreciate all that’s good about ourselves and our lives. “Perfect is the enemy of good” was never so true as it is in the context of what so many of us do to ourselves in terms of deriding ourselves and our bodies – mirroring messages received by friends, family, the media and society as a whole.

In this context, I found it especially interesting to read of a recent study, featured in the “Journal of Consumer Research”  stating that those who give themselves a range of weight loss objectives tend to have a higher rate of success than persons sticking to rigid, inflexible goals. For example, the study showed that those who aimed to lose 2-4 pounds during a certain period felt a sense of success with a 3 pound loss, rather than feeling as if they’d failed by not losing 4. It’s easy to see how the latter could destroy any desire to persevere on any potentially positive plan – be it weight-loss-oriented, or otherwise.

Authors Maura L. Scott (Florida State University) and Stephen M. Nowlis (Washington University in St. Louis) write:”Whether a goal is a high-low range goal or a single number goal has a systematic effect on goal re-engagement. High-low range goals influence (individual) goal re-engagement through feelings of accomplishment, which itself is driven by the attainability and challenge of the goal.”

Take-Away Tip: So ask yourself, “To what degree do I cut myself slack?” “Could I do more to feel good about my efforts – whether health-related, work-related, or pertaining to improving my personal relationships?”  Praise yourself for any positive actions you’ve taken today. Then plan to persist in those actions, and, if necessary,  tweak them tomorrow.


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