GET THIN BY TALKING SWEET
Say you're in the passenger seat of your best friend's car. She takes a wrong turn. How do you respond? Do you berate her? Tell her she's stupid and that she never does anything right? Probably not. You probably say something like, "It's okay, we can just take the next turn". So why then would you speak to yourself like this? Our response to ourselves can be just plain mean. This negative feedback loop might be the reason why you have a hard time losing weight and keeping it off.
My inner dialogue used to go a little something like this “Why are you eating that? You’re never going to be thin. People are looking at you and thinking that this is why you’re fat. Drink water instead, fatty”. I wasn’t fat. I just wasn’t happy with my body and didn’t know how to lose weight. I wasn’t body shamed as a kid. I wasn’t bullied. My mom wasn’t overweight nor ever went on a diet (though my dad did) but why was this the narrative? I’ll just blame it on the media. But the pressure we feel as women to be thin can be absolutely unbearable. So unbearable even that it is that pressure that pushes us to eat poorly. It is this negative feedback loop that we end up rebelling against and then eating foods to spite it! Changing the inner dialogue IS EVERYTHING! If you’re speaking negatively to yourself about food, THEN YOU ARE GOING TO INSTINCTIVELY AND EVEN UNKNOWINGLY REBEL AGAINST THAT NEGATIVITY. And often times, we end up rebelling against that negativity by eating those types of foods again. It’s a weird cycle because its convoluted. It’s confusing and overwhelming. And you can change it. IT’S JUST A HABIT.
I honestly believe that I am and have been 15 pounds lighter than I always was because I have changed how I talk to myself regarding food.
Changing the relationship of how we relate to food that we eat means changing our silent verbal habits. Many clients throughout the years have confessed that they speak horribly to themselves regarding "bad" foods. What is your inner dialogue? What do you say to yourself when you are in the midst of deciding whether to eat a food you feel conflicted about? What do you say while you eat it? What do you say after you eat it? Did you even get to enjoy the food?
There are no good or bad foods. “Good" and “bad" foods are constructs that have been created. Rather, foods effect our bodies in certain ways. How we react to certain foods, emotionally, is usually the source of distress. All too often we use food and exercise as a means of beating ourselves up, rewarding ourselves, swallowing our own feelings, filling a void, escaping, deflection and even sabotage. So, yes, eating foods in a healthy way (that feels good for us) is and can be a lifetime journey. It seems simple enough…eat healthy foods. Yet, our relationship with food(s) can be complex, layered and confusing. So I just want to say, BE KIND. If you find yourself saying nasty things to yourself concerning the act of putting food into your mouth, try having some compassion. And then see how thet feels. It’s a really good start!
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP WITH EXERCISE
Like so many women, I used to also beat myself up with exercise after eating foods that were considered “bad”. I used exercise as a way to feel better about myself because I felt bad for eating something. I see this all the time in class. People want the class to be SO HARD THAT THEY CAN BARELY DO IT. There’s a frantic energy of necessity. I’ll admit that I like a good ass-kicking workout too, but exercising to the point of pain is no bueno. Beating yourself up with exercise is not the goal. Instead we should be lifting ourselves up with exercise. People think that just because they’re sweating that they’re doing something or losing weight. Just because you’re sweating doesn’t mean you’re losing weight. And this is the issue I have with the fitness industry. Too many messages come across (especially in January) that we should be working harder, harder. Instead, we need to be cultivating a healthy lifestyle. A routine that feels good and makes us feel good about ourselves. Exercising as self-care instead of punishment.
I used to take yoga mostly so that I could hear the encouraging words at the end of class; the direction, the lack of judgement, the acceptance part. The compassion part because I SO NEEDED THAT. And still do, but now I've learned how to give it to myself. Why is compassion so hard? When we've learned to stay strong no matter what, compassion can feel like a weakness. Yet it is compassion that allows us to move forward, to accept, to tolerate and to let be. I wasn’t able to lose weight until I accepted myself for myself in that moment. Those moments then turned into a healthier habit of kindness towards self. And only through that compassion of self was I able to change the negative feedback loop associated with the complexities of eating food...
Nutrition is a tricky one and hard to even write about. Eating food is such a personal experience that it is often never really discussed. Yet, now is always the time to start to speak more kindly to ourselves in this endless journey of our relationship with food. It is never too late to silently speak sweetly to yourself :)