STRUGGLING WITH WEIGHT GAIN?
Feel like its impossible for you to lose weight? Maybe by this point you full-fledged believe it just isn’t in the cards for you? Do you notice you constantly yo-yo back and forth, able to lose some only to gain it right back again? You may have tried different diets, exercises or the latest food fads but have you examined your RELATIONSHIP with food? Your thoughts are ultimately what determine your actions, no matter what dietary or exercise protocols you have decided to follow.
BECOME AWARE OF YOUR MENTAL ROAD BLOCKS
Our culture and families can easily enable these kinds of struggles. It can be hard to find support and even easy to find resistance when trying to make changes in our eating habits. It is important to become aware of the very different thought processes of people who struggle with weight gain versus those that don’t. It is the way we think and feel about food, not the food itself that continues this battle.
Here are some examples of what you may have noticed thinking about if weight is a struggle for you:
- Restricting certain foods. ie: “I am not allowed to eat ______.” Food deprivation only leads to cravings and over-eating.
- Viewing food as a reward or punishment. “I exercised today so I get to eat what I want.” “It was a stressful day at work so I’m gonna have a nice meal to relax.” “I had way too many carbs so I can’t eat any more today.” This only makes us feel worse while consistently reinforcing the idea we did something deserving of punishment in the first place. It keeps us ping ponging between extremes of overeating and restricting. Also, little thoughts over time develop into full blown belief systems. For example, believing food is our source of love, joy, comfort, relaxation, connection, instead of what it was made for; self-care, nutrition and fuel.
- Emotional eating. “If I eat ____ , I’ll feel loved/relaxed /nostalgic,” etc.
- Simply not paying attention, just allowing the urge or compulsion of eating to take over.
- Using food to cope. Food can be used to calm, relax, to be social, or to bring comfort.
- Avoiding negative feelings. Using food to soothe uncomfortable feelings such as sadness, stress or tension.
- Hating your body. Having a harsh inner critic picking a part everything you hate and dislike about the way your body looks.
- Neglecting self-care. Not getting enough sleep or allowing ourselves to get too overly hungry or starving leads to desperate decisions.
GET A HEALTHY BLUEPRINT
How do we know what a healthy relationship with food sounds like? We must grasp a healthy blueprint before we ever begin to build and achieve it. People who do not struggle with weight gain have a very different experience. They don’t spend much time thinking about food and food choices. They are present, thinking about the task at hand. They eat solely by their body’s cues and intuition and they don’t eat for emotional reasons. They simply eat because they are hungry or feel their body cues saying it is time for a little snack. Their brains and bodies are in cohesive unity and are working together, not against each other (ie, so full but still eating or eating when not hungry). They eat until they are satiated, not until they are full because they are very in sync with their bodies.
Here is what a healthy conversation with food might sound like for these people:
- Food isn’t good or bad. I am only focused on the quality of my food and stopping as soon as I feel satiated.
- Food is not a reward or punishment; I just eat because I am hungry and stop when I am full.
- I recognize my emotional triggers. When I feel sad or stressed, I wait to eat and do something to help soothe my stress like walking, yoga or writing. Food is not viewed as comfort.
- I don’t obsess or spend much time thinking about food. I equate healthy choices with good feelings. I don’t need to avoid carbs and sugars altogether because they do not signify reward nor pose a threat to my eating habits.
THINGS YOU CAN START DOING NOW TO FEEL BETTER:
- Learn your triggers. Keep a food journal of when you eat and how you felt before AND after. It will help you pay attention and become aware of patterns you are not consciously thinking about day to day. By learning these you might realize some necessary lifestyle changes you may need to make in your schedule or home. This step may feel tedious at first. Start slow and avoid self-judgment or criticism as you realize your ways and try out a new way of being. Give it time. You may realize it is hard to read your hunger cues and it may feel very confusing at first.
- Practice sitting with uncomfortable feelings. Practice waiting or delaying the urge to eat particularly when you feel uptight, stressed or with your own personal triggers. Practice pausing for 5 minutes to practice self-control and breathing and resist acting only on compulsion to eat.
- Learn new coping strategies. Learning multiple strategies to soothe and cope outside of food.
- Love and appreciate your body. You must redefine the way you think about your body and develop daily tools to help nurture your inner encourager and exercise that voice to become stronger than your inner critic.
- Practice self-care. Get plenty of rest and sleep. Focus on creating mealtime habits such as sitting at the table to eat, not doing two things at once while eating, eating on smaller plates and practicing smaller portion sizes.
- Increase Support – Connecting with others who promote necessary lifestyle changes.
If you are having a hard time attaining your goals, feeling out of control of your eating habits or weight gain, you may need a professional to help you as these changes are deeply unconscious and based in compulsive habits. Cognitive behavioral therapy, Solution-focused therapy, medications, and trauma treatments may be necessary depending on the underlying factors driving behavior. Examining your thoughts and creating new strategies with the right support may be what it takes to get you back to feeling hopeful and able to take appropriate actions again.
Please call our office at 503-395-8982 to schedule. We love helping people get unstuck and back on their way to succeeding at their goals!
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