Exchange “Have To” with “Get To”

Last Monday Pam, our Weight Watchers Leader, spoke about identifying “have to’s” and the “get to’s.” It is part of a reframing exercise and I really like it.  See when you strip life down to the really brass tacks there are very few “have to’s.” Basically, in order to exist we “have to” breathe, ingest some nourishment, and perhaps sleep from time to time.  That’s about it.  After fulfilling those very primitive requirements all the other things we fill our days with are “get to” activities.

I imagine readers can think of many ways to argue with this extreme simplification but this is where the reframing comes into play.  Pam proposed that we all spent a week changing every occurrence “have to” in our vocabulary to “get to.”  Stopping to think about tasks and obligations as opportunities and privileges puts them into a more positive light.  Becoming more positive about these activities makes them seem less daunting, mundane, or menial.

Unfortunately there are things that we can not immediately control in our daily lives.  Whining and complaining about the way things are going generally does not change a situation.  Spending day after day feel like we have no control over our situation quickly becomes exhausting and can bleed into all the areas of our lives.  – Hello comfort eating and grouching at our friends and family.

Changing language can be a way to let go of some of the emotional baggage that comes from feeling stuck.  Influenced by Pam, I have been using exercises like this one throughout my weight loss and have found that little by little my attitudes have changed.  Now if I say no to an planned temptation during the day I “get to” have a yummy treat when I get home.  By working out with an exercise DVD I “get to” work out my muscles and feel better in my skin.  When I go somewhere during rush hour I “get to” listen to radio programs I miss on shorter car rides.

I recently read an interesting interview* with Beth Aldrich, a Certified Healthy Lifestyle-Green Living Expert. She helps her new clients create a lists of healthy things they “love” to keep on hand while reshaping their diets.  By keeping a physical reminder close by, her clients can spend more time focused on what they “get to” enjoy and less on what they “have to” avoid.  This is absolutely a recipe for long term success.

As I have said before, adopting a healthier approach to eating began with what I was or wasn’t going to put in my mouth.  However, the biggest lasting changes have come from what I do or don’t put into my head.

Reader Homework:  Spend a week substituting every “have to” with a “get to” both in your internal monologue and spoken words.  If you need a reminder put little notes up in your home, car, and office.  At the end of the week take an emotional inventory and see if anything feels different.  Repeat as needed or desired.

*Beth Aldrich’s Real Moms’ Strategy: Love Food & Lose Weight – by Genie Gratto for


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