I will show you how to lose weight without losing your mind! I did it, and I’m about to do it again. (<-Thank you, pregnancy!) You can do it too! I originally wrote this post a while back after having great success on Weight Watchers, but it is still SO relevant, especially at New Years when it seems that everybody is trying to drop some weight and get in shape. I hope this will help you to approach getting healthy from a positive mindset. Happy New Year!
What I am about to say here is not based on any sort of clinical or professional experience. I know that there are people out there with full-blown eating disorders, and those folks should always seek professional help. I am not a professional, nor do I play one on the internet.
Now that we got the disclaimers out of the way…I am a chronic dieter who has struggled with weight on and off for a lot of my life. And throughout that struggle I have observed behaviors in myself and others. I start to see some patterns.
What I am suggesting is that there are some people, that while they may not have full-blown eating disorders, have some level of dysfunction around their eating habits. I would put myself into that category. It is not easy for me to say that publicly.
My hope is that me being open and transparent will help some of you make peace with food and hunger. I hope that sharing my experiences and opinions will cause you to think about your mindset around food and “dieting.” I hope it helps some to step right out of that crazy cycle!
What’s the crazy cycle you may ask? It is what happens when you approach losing weight from a place of negativity.
- It is rooted in a mindset of deprivation.
- It focuses on what you can’t or don’t have.
- It may cause you to repeat things to yourself such as “no pain, no gain.”
- It causes you to label foods as “good” and “bad”
When many of us start on a path to health, we may go way overboard with the steps we take. We may try to go ALL out, and it is just too much. It is TOO difficult to maintain. We feel like in order to see results, we must deprive ourselves.
The problem is that it is hard! And we eventually cave because we are tired, depleted or HUNGRY. And so we have an impulsive break and eat everything in sight. Everything.
That impulsive break is usually followed by feelings of helplessness, anger at yourself, and/or self-loathing.
So we hop back on the crazy cycle, fueled by this fiery resolve! And we tell ourselves that it is going to be different THIS time. We are extra mad at ourselves, so we may even pile on more difficult steps: cleanses, fasts, etc. And eventually we give out and have another impulsive break. WHY on earth do we do this to ourselves?!
The cycles goes on and on. Each loop around the cycle gets more and more unpleasant. And the result is that you are left feeling exhausted, angry, frustrated and defeated.
Is this sounding familiar to anybody? ::raising my hand::
Well, let me tell you that there is a solution. Realizing that you are ON the crazy cycle is the first step. You may be setting yourself up to fail and not even realize it!
So let’s flip the script around and look at what it means to approach losing weight from a POSITIVE mindset. It’s like the opposite of the crazy cycle. I will call it the empowerment cycle.
So let’s look inside the mind of a person who is losing weight on the empowerment cycle. How do you make sure you are working toward your goal from a positive mindset? Here are a few statements that have helped me.
1. I honor my hunger. I always eat when I am physically hungry.
This may sound like a no-brainer for most, but for some of you this resonated. How many times have you actually had a growling stomach and forbidden yourself to eat because you were still punishing yourself for the last time you overate?
Telling myself that I will eat when I am hungry instantly puts me a little bit more at ease. Even if I have to use my weekly points, I am not going to go hungry. It is totally unnecessary and self-destructive to go hungry.
2. If I have the desire to eat when I am not truly (physically) hungry, I will ask myself why.
This statement also resonated with some of you. Let me share with you a quote that I repeat to myself a lot:
It is worth repeating that I am not a psychologist or counselor! So if you need help figuring out why you are eating…you should seek the help of a professional.
Now, what I will tell you that I have noticed about myself is that sometimes I feel like eating when I feel that feeling of deficit/deprivation somewhere else in my life.
This was a HUGE a-ha moment for me! It always starts with that feeling of deprivation for me. It can be physical deprivation of not enough food, like in the crazy cycle diagram above. OR! I am now realizing that deprivation triggers impulsive eating in me, even if the feeling of deprivation isn’t deprivation from food.
To illustrate, here are some triggers for me, with the specific deprivation identified in parentheses: exhaustion (lack of rest), over-commitment (lack of time), worry (lack of peace), uncertainty (lack of security) and even boredom (lack of interest/fun).
3. There are no forbidden foods.
I can have anything I want, as long as I am accountable for it. Sure, I do my best to avoid white flour, sugar, corn syrup, etc. But I do not believe that the world will come to an end if I eat this stuff. If I tell myself I can never have it, the rebel in me just will want it that much more. Can I get and amen, y’all?! So I tell myself I will have it and track it in my daily points if I really want it. (<- Weight Watchers is my weight loss plan of choice.)
Surprisingly, most of the time I find I do not want the “bad” things. In fact, I try not to even label anything “bad.” I am pretty satisfied with the foods I am eating lately. They fill me up, and I feel energized, relaxed and ready to tackle the day. But I give myself permission to eat whatever I want. That alone puts me at peace.
4. I eat what fuels my body the best.
If nothing is “bad” or off-limits (said in number 3 above), then it changes what I want to eat. I am finding that I actually do want the healthy stuff most of the time. It tastes good, makes me feel full and I have great energy. Who wouldn’t want that?!
I like the way I am feeling right now, and that is a victory in itself. So it makes it more likely to continue. Success begets more success.
When I am not fighting myself to stick within some rigid rules, it sets me free. I know that sounds cheesy, but it is so true! And when I free myself from the burden of rules, then I am just more at peace. And it turns out I make pretty good choices intuitively.
5. I take small, significant steps, and I am consistent with them over time.
Small steps are less hard and less painful; therefore, we are more likely to stick with them over time. They eventually become habits, which become automated. This is part of the beauty of Weight Watchers, in my opinion.
Those small steps eventually result in victories, and those victories keep us motivated to continue. Once you have built a new good habit, you can add a new baby step, which will bring you more success. Over time, you just layer on the baby steps, one at a time, bit by bit. And after some time, you are reaching some big milestone goals, which can be very motivating.
Has this resonated with you? Have you been, or are you currently on the crazy cycle? Are you struggling with deprivation, negativity or self-loathing? What small steps are you layering on to continue your success?
If this has helped you, please pin and share!