How do you feel when you add up all your time, effort, money, and emotional energy that has gone into dieting or weight loss?
I’ve worked with hundreds of women that all say the same thing; I’ve done it all, nothing works, and I’m so over it! But also add… I’m not ready to give up, but I don’t know what else to do!
Isn’t it crazy how real it feels that food is hard? What if it wasn’t? What if it could just be a neutral thing in your life? What if you could really enjoy it sometimes, but also could think of it as fuel for your body? What if it never felt like the enemy?
If these questions have you saying, Yeah, right! stay with me for a minute.
When I was deep into bulimia, I believed to my core that I could never eat “a cookie” or “one donut” again. My eating (and thinking) was so out-of-control I didn’t think I’d ever make it back.
Even after many years of changed behavior (no longer binging and purging), I still had big fear around food and my body. I was nervous around the holidays and before vacations; always fearing weight gain and thinking about the what-ifs. I was mentally consumed with good foods vs. bad foods and still judged myself a lot.
What helps me share my message with women now is that I know without a doubt, how important thought work is. I’m standing firm that transformation is much more than what we eat and how much we exercise. Changing who we are as eaters is an inside job and it’s not easy.
Willpower and massive action can get us results, but it’s mental fitness that will help us hang onto the transformation and grow ourselves as a person.
Here are 3 Mental Fitness Tips that can help you make weight changes over time:
SHIFT YOUR IDENTITY. The way you see yourself is the number one determinant of whether you keep your weight off once you’ve removed it. I’ve seen women lose a significant amount of weight on lots of different diets, then become extremely uncomfortable if they don’t identify as a woman who feels confident in her body or gets positive attention from the achievement. Also, while losing weight, fearful beliefs like I always gain the weight back need to be shifting over to new beliefs that will support the changes. (Another example often given about a misaligned identity is the person who wins the lottery but doesn’t see themselves as a person of wealth so they go broke quickly.)
So… WHO YOU WANT TO BE AS AN EATER? I’d like to offer Confident and Peaceful to you. Wouldn’t that pretty much cover everything? It has for me. It’s been a long process. It’s been so worth it. I wish I could have discovered how to be kinder to myself much sooner.
the good news: It has had nothing to do with perfection. Or food being good or bad, or calories or carbs.
Asking powerful questions is what helps us find powerful solutions. What would a confident eater feel like? What would she be doing and thinking? If you were a peaceful eater, how would you show up around food? Spending time with these questions and answers would be much more powerful than the cycle of deprivation, self-judgment, “falling off the wagon” and all of the other diet-rollercoaster things we’ve all come to know.
Here’s what is true for me today. I feel confident that if I enjoy treats today, tomorrow I’ll be wanting more greens (which is true sometimes but not always and it’s ok.). I know if I put on a few pounds, I’ll want to release them and will handle it with small adjustments. I know that no matter how much yummy food is in front of me, that I can peacefully choose what I’d like to have. Food is not the boss of me (anymore!) When we decide I will figure it out, and keep bringing the belief back when needed, it eventually happens.
HAVE POWERFUL REASONS to help carry you through when willpower won’t. (I covered this in my FB Live on May 13, 2021 if you’d like to see it.) The most common reason I hear from clients wanting to lose weight is about aesthetics; how she hopes to look. What’s deeper and most important is how she wants to look. What is underneath that, though, is how looking a certain way will make her feel. (All of our goals are based around how we think having the goal will make us feel).
Here is a link to a free tool that will help you dig deep to find your real reasons for wanting to change anything: http;//7levelsdeep.com
CREATE MORE WHITE SPACE. I thought I already knew what slowing down to go fast meant, but in 2018 when I hired a business coach, I learned the meaning of SPACIOUSNESS. Keeping gaps of white space in my calendar was like gifting myself room to breathe and think. It became clear that it doesn’t matter what the goal is, if we’re running around stressed and overwhelmed, not much good is going to come of it. Working from a rushed, and irritable energy is the opposite of ease. When we operate from stress, fear, and auto-pilot, any food can be a quick-fix, eat-whatever-we find-because well, we’re just Hangry!
now, Here are 3 Practical Tips that you can start taking daily action on right away to get you started:
START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW + GET CURIOUS. Do a braindump on paper. Recall which foods your body isn’t fond of. Write down the foods that take away your energy by making you tired, bloated, cause anything intestinal, etc. Next, which foods have helped you during previous weight loss efforts (that you’ve enjoyed)? What types of thoughts serve you well when you’re reaching to better your health? What environments and people have helped/not helped you when you’re trying to better your health? (it helps to search for this from a curious place, not a blaming one.) If you would go in and out of focus in the past, can you remember what was contributing to each?
When you cut back on these foods because you want to protect your energy, it is much different than being told you can’t have them because they’re fattening, bad for you, or they’re not on the plan. (Notice it’s not about good food/bad food.) If you know that Aunt Sally is a food pusher because it’s her love language, how can you prepare for your time w/Sally? If girls’ nights out always ended in too many cocktails followed by bar food treats, how can you limit your outings to still enjoy without sabotaging yourself?
Look at your past story as an onlooker/observer and leave the judgment out. You’ll find valuable information there. Make it an awareness practice that can help you become your own guru.
From what you just wrote discovered, pick 1-3 things that you’re willing to do/not do for the next 24-hours. Do the same tomorrow. Think of this as an experiment and have fun with it.
JUMPSTART WITH LEANER DINNERS. Experiment with eating your carbs for breakfast and lunch, leaving dinner a little lighter. There is something magical about it. Lean protein + non-starchy veggies. Keep it simple; carbs are not the enemy. But if at dinner time, you can skip them (short term), see what happens for you! This could look like grilled chicken breasts with broccoli or Zoodles (cooked in a tiny bit of olive oil), a sirloin steak with a side of asparagus (cooked on the grill wrapped in foil with olive oil, salt, and pepper). Keep it light-hearted and easy in your head. Please let me know how it goes! PS; Alcohol is a carb. (sorry, not sorry!) 🙂
COMMIT TO YOUR FOOD PLAN 24 HOURS AT A TIME. You’re smart. And right now, with what you already know, you can start winning at momentum and progress. Whether you have fear of failure, fear of success, or any other thing your brain is offering up, just decide you’ll keep showing up for yourself. One day at a time, decide what you will be eating and stick to your plan. Choose lean proteins and fun, colorful fruits and veggies. Be mindful about drinking your calories. Research complex carbs and learn more about which foods will serve you most. Decide to take responsibility for being your own advocate, you’ll love your results!
This 24- hour honor system is more important than you might think. It’s a great tool for helping you follow through and get momentum with trusting yourself again. It helps you stay focused closer to home (I can do anything for 24 hours vs. I can never eat potato chips again). Keep track of your wins, celebrate each one (not with food) and keep building on them!
***In the beginning, be sure to not over-challenge yourself. You want to win at this. Even if your menu is lax, it’s still about doing what you said you would do. (Try to resist going back into all-or-nothing which is one of the biggest reasons it’s easy to throw in the towel.) For any slips, take notes, find the lessons, and move on! (Let any guilt move on through, I promise it creates a quicker recovery and course correction!)
What if your weight loss journey could be something that you could look back on as a memorable time? It could become that clear marker in your life when you made a decision to make peace with food and your body. It was that time that you took your power back to claim your best health and energy?
If you are wanting this for yourself, I wish for you to have it too.