Negative Labels

5 Negative Labels Bariatric Patients Love to Use

November 6, 2017

If you've ever met with a nutritionist, you know the importance of reading food labels. The labels tell us important facts about what’s inside the package. The closer we pay attention to food labels, the better we are at making healthy choices.

But, what about the “labels” we use to describe ourselves? They’re even more important. These labels are usually not facts. Yet, they give us a pretty good description of what’s happening with our mindset.

Have you noticed how some people seem to accomplish their goals almost effortlessly, while others seem to struggle at every turn? A lot of that has to do with the labels they have chosen to describe themselves. Sometimes people will use labels to remove the personal responsibility of dealing with circumstances in their lives. There are quite a few labels in the bariatric community.

5 Negative Labels & How To Break Through Them

1. “I’m an Emotional Eater”

We can all relate to this label. Its ingredients contain lack of confidence and low self-esteem. The result is feeling out of control. When you identify yourself as this behavior, you close the opportunity to change it.

You might eat when feeling stressed, but that is not who you are. Guess what? Behaviors are actions that we can change.

The first step to break through the Emotional Eating label is to separate your identity from the behavior. Then start to work on changing that behavior. Identify the feelings and circumstances that lead you to look for comfort with food. Create an alternative plan to deal with those circumstances when they arise. It can be as simple as going for a walk or starting a new hobby that keeps your mind occupied. Then remove all trigger foods from your environment. It’s much easier to stay on course when the food you are craving is not around. Keep a healthy alternative snack with you at all times.

When you plan in advance, the process of breaking the Emotional Eating label will be easier to accomplish.  Having a plan gives you a choice. We don’t have to automatically jump into the emotional abyss.

2. “I’m a Slow Loser”

A lot of us use this label when the scale is not cooperating with us. Its ingredients contain disappointment and comparison. The result is not being happy with our weight loss results.

Comparing ourselves to others is so easy to do these days. Just open up the internet and go to any bariatric forum or group. It’s all there to see, people sharing their successes and/or challenges.  Although we share many of the same experiences, our journeys are unique. When you read of someone having success, celebrate with them. But, don’t degrade your own success because it’s different from theirs.

If you feel the need to make comparisons, compare yourself today from where you started.  Step back and look at how far you have come from your high weight.

There are times when the scale doesn’t reflect the changes happening with our bodies. Take your measurements and also compare the size you wear today to the size where you began your journey. Compare current photos to older photos from before your surgery. Make a list of all the things you can do now that you were not able to do before. When you focus on the positives of your journey, you will feel better about yourself and your progress.

3. “Life Happened”

This isn’t as much a personal label as it is a phrase used to describe a problem. People usually use this label when they have gone off course and have been stalled for months and/or have weight regain. Its ingredients contain justification and lack of focus. The result is lack of self-control and feelings of failure.

The Life Happened label is a pretty, little catch-all phrase for all sorts of reasons. Parents and grandparents like to use it as an explanation of why they have junk food in the house. Like children are better off eating cookies and chips than healthier alternatives. People also like to use it in regards to their significant-other eating whatever they want, and so they end up eating it too.  Others use it to describe a stressful work or home environment.

We may not always be happy with the circumstances in our life. But, we don’t have to let the circumstances control our actions.

Life is happening every day. The good news is that you have a choice. Let life happen to you, or decide to live the life you have. Don’t let circumstances control your actions. Instead, choose to control the circumstances.  You will feel more empowered when you live life as a victor, instead of being a victim. Seriously, if life wasn’t happening, think about what the alternative would be.  We really don’t want that to happen, do we?

4. “I’m My Worst Enemy”

This label is one that we can all relate to. Its ingredients include self-sabotage and frustration. The result is poor decision making followed by intense regret.

The Worst Enemy label is easy to understand. We know what we should be doing, but we don’t do it. Or worse, we choose a behavior that takes us in the complete opposite direction from our goal. And the problem doesn’t end there. We are so unhappy with our actions that we proceed to berate ourselves until we feel weak and useless.

Break the Worst Enemy label by admitting that no one is perfect. Instead of looking for perfection in your behavior, start looking for progress. When you set the bar too high for yourself, you are really setting yourself up for defeat.

Secondly, don’t let one bad decision turn into days, weeks or months of bad decisions.  Get right back on course again. Don’t berate yourself and feel worse. Instead, turn the situation into a learning experience. What caused you to make the decisions that you did? What can you do to make sure that you don’t repeat those actions in the future? By knowing yourself better, you can change the routines that lead you to be frustrated.

5. “I Struggle With . . .”

People also use this label by saying the “struggle is real.” Its ingredients include a difficult situation and a fatigued spirit. The result is lack of progress toward reaching your goal.

People use the Struggle Label to describe the effort required with making permanent changes in their life. They struggle with getting enough protein and/or water every day. They struggle with remembering to take their vitamins. They struggle to incorporate exercise into their day. They struggle with cravings. The list goes on and on.

What we need to do is remove the word “struggle” from our vocabulary. The way we choose to look at a situation affects the results we will see.

Brian Tracy states “Don’t say anything about yourself you do not want to come true.” When we use the Struggle Label, we will continue to see a struggle in our life. A lot of things are not easy to do at first. But, the more we do them, the easier it gets. Think about learning to ride a bike or driving a car. Don’t create a struggle in your life when all it takes is a little more practice.

Don’t be a label maker, be a label breaker. It’s time to take back the power of having choices in your life!

Albert Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Change is not instantaneous or easy. But with the right focus and a little effort, we can break through our labels and begin to live life more freely.


Beth Bianca weighed 394 pounds, was in a wheelchair and riddled with health issues before having weight-loss surgery. She lost a total of 229 pounds and gained her life and health back. Beth is the author of two books, Mindset Breakthrough: Achieve Weight-Loss Surgery Success and The Breakthrough Journal. She is the founder of and a contributing author to the Huffington Post. She is a Certified Life Coach and Lifestyle & Weight Management Specialist.