1) If I just hate myself enough, I will lose weight.
This is such a common mistake! Hating yourself, being super critical and hard on yourself just makes you feel bad. It is not a good motivator. How many women cringe at the idea of really looking at themselves and their bodies in the mirror? If we can’t love ourselves, how can we expect others to? Hard as it may feel, it will work much better to start accepting who you are and and treat yourself in a loving way. It takes practice but the benefits are huge. Every pound on your body has a story and a reason. Some of the stories may be decades old, but the story of the pregnancy, the break up, the new job that caused extra stress may be still sitting on your hips or your tummy, waiting for your attention and your compassion. So tune in and listen to your emotional self, and be easy with your body. It has served you well!
2) I’m more bothered about my looks than my health when it comes to losing weight.
It isn’t that your appearance isn’t important, but the definition of what looks good in a woman is defined mostly by sexism, not by what real women look like. When you buy into society’s views of how women should look, you abandon yourself and your own ideas. Millions of dollars are spent though the diet, makeup, fashion, hair dye and cosmetic surgery industries to fix something that doesn’t need to be fixed! You are already beautiful as you are! It may take courage to practice taking pride in how you look right now, curves and all, but that’s the kind of confidence that makes you more attractive anyway!
What is sad about being more concerned about appearance than health, is that the most important reason to lose weight is to improve your health. The World Health Organization suggests that even losing 10% of your weight will significantly improve your weight. So if you weigh 200 pounds for example, even losing 20 pounds will make a big difference to your health. And at the end of the day, even if you are as thin as a twig, if you are not in good health, you won’t enjoy your life.
3) An impulse is not the same as a decision.
It’s a bit like the difference between falling in love and long lasting love! An impulse is exciting and may be caused by the latest diet book, weight loss program, diet, shake or fast, or motivated by an upcoming wedding, vacation or new relationship. These are all really understandable reasons and motives, but unfortunately they don’t result in long lasting results.
Decisions on the other hand often run deep. Whether motivated by a health scare, a certain age milestone or just an accumulation of weight gain experiences, they come into being from the thought ‘That’s it. I’ve had it. I’ve got to lose weight”.
A decision is a powerful fork in the road, but to be effective needs to be followed with preparation and a plan of action which in a way is a series of micro decisions to get to your goal. It is the plan of action that gives the decision its traction on your life. An impulse on the other hand quickly runs out of stream due to lack of preparation and planning.
4) Why would I need extra support? How hard can it be?
It is easy to underestimate how much support is required to make significant changes in life. We are creatures of habit, with brains that interpret the predictable as safe and change as dangerous. So to change our diets, exercise and emotional self care requires a decision and a plan and lots of support. At a recent seminar I attended of Geneen Roth, author of ‘Women, Food and God” she used the phrase “lavish support on yourself”!
Comfort eating or over eating is similar to an addiction, in that both are ways to cope with uncomfortable feelings. They keep a lid on the painful feelings, so when you take that lid off, you need somewhere to process those feelings.
Support may be a friend, a group, an on line chat room or a therapist. What is important is to have somewhere you feel safe to share experiences, be accountable for your actions, and ultimately a place to heal. Talking it through, letting emotions flow with the comfort and care of other people rather than stuffing it down with food, helps to heal the wounds that led to the eating habits in the first place.
5) We say we love food, but ‘vacate the premises’ as soon as we sit down to eat.
One of the key things I learned from Geneen Roth in her recent workshop in Seattle, is the importance of being present when you eat, to slow down, really taste and enjoy your food. So often when you are rushed, stressed, eating in front of the TV or reading the paper, we gulp it down without really being present to notice and enjoy it. This leads to overeating because literally our brains haven’t registered the kind or amount of food we have just eaten. And if you are going to have a treat, let yourself enjoy it!The chances are you will eat less!
At the recent workshop Geneen asked the audience to do an eating exercise where we ate three tiny pieces of food, but very slowly! The food was a chip, a raisin and a Hershey)s chocolate kiss! It was so interesting to take lots of time to really pay attention to them as we ate them. How often would you eat one raisin so slowly that you can really notice how its taste changes as you chew it? The chocolate kiss was of course the best!
6) Change really means change.
Any change takes effort and changing your food and exercise routines is no different. At the recent Geneen Roth seminar I attended, she said it simply – if you are willing to tolerate discomfort, you will change. If not, you won’t. Doing things differently and thinking differently helps. Change your routines so you develop new habits of self care. Hang out with people who want to grow and change like you do. Read books that inspire you to succeed. And use visualization and affirmations techniques to help change your mindset, so your unconscious mind is on the same page as your conscious mind. The more you can imagine the slimmer you, the more likely you will achieve your weight loss goals.
7) Don’t assume childhood experiences have no effect on your adult eating patterns now.
It isn’t all about will power. We are creatures of habit, and when it comes to comfort in times of stress, there is a tendency to go for what is familiar, comforting and feels good. You can blame your neural pathways, but often those foods boil down to what you associate with times you felt loved, times with your grandmother perhaps who made you chocolate chip cookies, or with your mom who made hot meaty stew on cold winter evenings. What is interesting is that comfort food for one person often means nothing to someone else. It is usually very specific and personal, even down to the particular brand! So it requires some investigation on your part to discover your particular triggers and cues, to come up with a plan and alternative coping strategies. That is one level of the work. But if you relied on food to get you through traumatic emotional times in childhood as many do, then you may need to go deeper, and work through the emotions involved with the support of someone you trust such as a counsellor. That way, you can dismantle particular emotional triggers around food, and have more control over what is truly nourishing for your body now.