The holidays can be a joyous time. However for people that have been struggling all year with their weight and to feel good in their body’s, it poses some anxiety. For many, the holidays are filled with stress about spending too much time with “challenging” family members, eating excessive amounts of food, and insecurities about putting on weight. Of course, there is also the stress about money! I so get this because I used to stress to the max about these things, too. I’m happy to say that I don’t anymore and I’m going to give you some tips so you don’t have to either.
Tips to thrive during the holidays:
1. Send love. I don’t know any family that doesn’t have at least one “challenging” family member. You know the one who points out in a room full of other family members and friends that you’ve gained weight. Remember your secret weapon when dealing with these people is always love. So, instead of diving into the nearest chocolate cake because you’re feeling embarrassed, ashamed and angry, pause before “defending” yourself and then send them love. Believe it or not, they think they’re helping you by pointing out what you likely already know. Sending love can diffuse negative emotions within seconds.
2. Stop controlling. Instead of trying to control your food, give yourself permission. I know it sounds crazy, but restricting is what is making you want the food even more. When we think that something is off limits, this intensifies our desire to have it. So, stop with the rules and restricting. There are no prizes given out at the end of the year for how often you restricted food only to binge later! Also, understand that 99% of the population overeats during the holidays, so know that you’re not alone. That’s not an excuse, but it’s important to understand this so you don’t feel isolated.
3. Focus on the insides. If you have gained weight this year or since you last saw your family, understand that your awesomeness, authenticity and lovely personality are not defined by your weight. In fact, this is true for everyone. So rather than focusing on how much weight a person lost or gained since you last saw them, instead focus on how much you’ve missed them, how good they make you feel when you’re around them, and being mindful about your time together so you can intensify your experience.
I hope that these tips help to ease some of the stress you may be feeling about the holidays. If you need more support and tips like this, hop on over to my Facebook group Intuitive Eating & Body Loving Rockstars.
How are you feeling about your food these days? I hope that you’re feeling grounded, confident and worry-free about it. However, if you’re like most of the population, you might be worried about all the cookies you’ve been scoffing down, concerned because you keep overeating, and wondering how you’re going to lose the holiday weight once January 1 rolls around.
I hope that you’re one of the “enlightened” ones who has discovered Intuitive Eating and that those types of worries are a thing of the past. However, if you have recently discovered Intuitive Eating or have been practicing it for some time but are still struggling, you may be rattled by all the holiday food chaos.
You know what I mean. You’re trying honor your fullness but most of the time you don’t. Or, you’ve given yourself permission to eat what you want but still feel guilty (sometimes overwhelming guilty) afterwards. Or, you’re still weighing yourself and telling yourself that you’re not hung up on the number but you really are.
Wherever you are, I get it. As the expression goes, “Been there, done that!“.
If you’re practicing Intuitive Eating but still struggling with the “basics”, the holidays can be a very vulnerable time for you. Let’s face it, during the holidays there is an EXCESS of diet-talk and body bashing going on. Many mainstream dieters (even though they’d swear they’re not dieting) will be expressing their anxiety about their expanding waistlines, how they’ve had little time to exercise because of their hectic schedules, and how they plan to change all of that come January 1. Trust me I know because I hear it daily at my gym!
What I’m going to tell you is always important, but it’s even more so during this time of year. My advice is to STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE. Since many people are so food and weight obsessed, especially during the holidays, don’t be surprised if you feel tempted to go into someone else’s “dieting” lane. Let’s face it, Intuitive Eating is not exactly mainstream based on what the general population is doing. Many scoff when they hear about it, but don’t let that discourage you. The fact is that practicing Intuitive Eating is the only way to develop a balanced relationship with food and body. It’s not easy in the beginning, but if you stick with it, you will eventually discover the freedom that you’d been searching for when you were dieting. Dieting will never give you the ease and flow that you’ve craved but Intuitive Eating will.
So instead of getting whisked away and being tempted to go into someone else’s lane because you think that they have the “answer”, think again. One of the best decisions you ever made was giving up dieting and practicing Intuitive Eating. So, STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE and let them live their lives in their lane and you live your life in your lane. If your goal is to develop a balanced relationship with food and body, Intuitive Eating is the only way.
If you’ve been curious about Intuitive Eating and need help getting started, or have been trying to practice it on your own but not experiencing the freedom I’m describing, consider enrolling in my self-paced online course “Emotional Freedom from Food”. This course has gotten rave reviews and would make a great holiday gift for yourself or someone you love who is caught up in dieting and body dissatisfaction. The DailyOM offers flexible pricing for this course so you can pay as little as $10 for four content modules.
One of my clients asked me today if I used to eat past fullness often. After nearly falling off my chair, I said “Um, yes!”. The truth is that I used to eat past fullness often. In fact, back in those days, being overly full (like stuffed sausage full) was an every day occurrence.
- It didn’t matter to me that I was physically uncomfortable from eating so much.
- It didn’t matter that my clothes were pinching my waste and causing me genuine pain and discomfort.
- It didn’t matter that I knew how crappy I would feel if I continued.
- All that mattered was that I had food left on my plate and that meant that I had a “right” to eat it.
Yep, I had a serious case of Clean Plate Syndrome for sure!
Learning to honor our fullness takes time and practice. And, guess what, even when you’re practicing intuitive eating, there will still be times when you will eat past fullness. That’s expected and not something that you need to worry about. While it’s difficult to give you a percentage or an exact number of times per week, I would say that if you’re eating past fullness more than a few days a week, I’d start paying closer attention.
When I say pay closer attention I’m suggesting you consider the following:
- Are you waiting too long before you eat causing you to feel overly hungry when you do eatwhich may be causing you to scarf down your food?
- Are you eating foods that you’d previously restricted? If so, that very often leads to overeating once you’ve allowed yourself those food(s) again.
- Could you be eating past fullness because it’s a habit and experiencing less fullness makes you feel uncomfortable?
- Do you also struggle with Clean Plate Syndrome and have a hard time leaving food on your plate because of all the starving kids in _____________?
- Are you eating past fullness because it makes you feel safe and secure?
Keep in mind that if you’re new to intuitive eating you will often (if not always) eat past fullness. This is expected because you’ve likely been depriving yourself of food. Once you give yourself “unconditional permission to eat” many people go to town and stuff themselves for a while. Not everyone does this, but many do. I know that I did. It usually wears off and before you know it, you’re eating without conditions but to fullness which is ideal.
The other piece that people often forget is that just because we have unconditional permission to eat, not all foods will agree with our bodies. Part of this intuitive eating process is learning what foods feel good in your body and which foods don’t. So, especially in the beginning, treat this like an experiment. Explore different foods without judgment and be aware of how they make you feel after you eat them. Some questions to consider:
- Do you feel nourished after you eat them?
- Do they cause any digestive issues (bloating, gas, etc.)
- Do you feel weighed down and/or sluggish?
- Did you feel satiated after eating?
- Does the food make you feel anxious or change your mood in any way?
As I’ve often said, intuitive eating is more than just a “hunger/fullness” diet. It’s about tuning in to our bodies so we’ll know what foods make us feel our best. That may or may not include eating all foods, but the only way to find out is to first give yourself permission to try them all without all the previous restrictions/rules/guilt.
Do you feel that you’re eating past fullness more often than you’d like or are comfortable with?
How do you measure progress?
Please know that if you’re still basing your progress on the antiquated Body Mass Index (BMI) you may never be satisfied with your body.
Body satisfaction needs to come from within. We don’t need an index, chart or any other external thing to tell us that we’re enough. We can decide that for ourselves.
The important thing to realize is that if we’re stuck believing that there is one “ideal” body or one way to eat, we will never have a balanced relationship with food and body.
The only one who can decide that your body is already ideal is YOU.
So, put away the magazines and stop following people on social media that make false promises about the “perfect” diet and/or exercise regime that will give you the ideal body and the optimal health. A one size fits all approach never works.
By freeing yourself of all the things that are telling you what you should be doing, you will be creating more space to listen to your body. Amazing things will begin to happen when you shut off all that noise and just lovingly listen. When you listen, you’ll learn what foods work for your body and what type of movement you enjoy. You’ll also learn what other ways you can honor your body to experience more freedom and joy. This is how we develop a more balanced relationship with food and body. Once that balance is created, more robust health often follows.
Until we start listening to ourselves, we will never think that we’re already enough as we are.
For the record, knowing that we’re enough doesn’t mean that we don’t want to improve or develop new habits. It simply means that despite that, we still love ourselves. All of ourselves…insides and outsides. So, instead of repeatedly saying or thinking “I’ll be enough when I _________.” we acknowledge that reaching ____________ will simply enhance our enoughness not make us enough.
How would your life change if you acknowledged that you’re already enough?
Over the past few months, a few of my clients have been telling me about their recent injuries due to excessive/compulsive exercise. When I posted the meme above in my private Intuitive Eating & Body Loving Rockstars private Facebook group I was surprised by some of the responses. This is an important topic, so I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this topic.
The often hailed expression “No pain no gain.” or “Go hard or go home.” are not the kind of expressions that foster a healthy relationship with food and body. In fact, expressions like these often keep people in the compulsive exercise cycle which contributes to unsustainable (weight-focused) fitness programs that often lead to weight loss/weight gain cycling.
Sometimes expressions like this even turn people away from healthy movement because they start to believe that movement such as walking or yoga that makes them feel good and connected with their bodies doesn’t “count”. After all, for movement to “count” it has to be grueling and exhausting, right?
Actually, NO, it doesn’t.
In truth, all movement is good movement. Part of nurturing a more balanced relationship with food and body, which includes abandoning diet mentality, is ending the obsessive thoughts that movement is supposed to be painful or obsessively rigorous. While it’s acceptable to want to build stamina, get stronger and gently push ourselves to achieve these goals without becoming obsessive, it’s not okay to do it in a abusive or militant manner because we believe that’s the only way to achieve our “ideal” bodies (which is based on the idea that there is one “ideal” body) or more robust health.
Whenever we believe that movement is for reshaping our bodies, fixing our perceived “trouble” areas, or for maintaining our weight, that’s when we need to stop and understand that this type of attitude is moving us further away from developing a healthy and balanced relationship with food and body.
Part of adopting a healthy relationship with food and body is allowing ourselves to experience joyful movement and healthy eating without feeling guilty or ashamed about our choices. When we feel guilt and shame, this often causes erratic self-care behaviors which contributes to imbalanced relationships with food and exercise. When we’re striving for consistent self-care instead of worrying about reshaping and sculpting our “imperfect” bodies, we can never go wrong. When we do this, we can focus on sustainable health as an alternative to our society’s current weight-focused model which keeps us in the diet mentality.
I’ve been struggling with some strong emotions the past few days. Some patterns that I thought I had undone have resurfaced. This has left me wondering how far I’ve really come in my journey. Ugh!
Today I felt an important shift and I wanted to write about it because if I’ve learned anything in my journey, it’s that I’m not alone in my feelings.
We all have setbacks now and again.
We all sometimes think that we’re “cured” and that we’ve conquered all our demons.
You know what? We’re all on a journey with no final destination. We will continually be challenged in life and have things come up that we have to address…even when we thought we already had. Many of these situations will make us uncomfortable and make us question our progress. This is also part of our journey. While I will be the first to say that as we heal many of our challenges do often become easier to manage, that doesn’t mean that we’re impervious to feeling crappy sometimes.
It’s all okay.
What I was reminded of this week is that even though crap will continue to surface, I can still do my best to love myself unconditionally through it all.
I don’t have to get down on myself about it.
I don’t have to belittle myself by saying “You should know better by now, Michelle.”
Instead, I can be kind, self-compassionate, patient and love myself through the icky feelings while doing my very best not to judge myself.
This is where we see our growth!
Life will continue to challenge us. How we decide to treat ourselves during those challenges dictates how much healing takes place. I want to continue to heal and learn the lessons that life’s challenges are attempting to teach me even when I’m in pain and feeling crappy. I want to love myself under allcircumstances, not just when things are going my way.
After all, unconditional love knows no boundaries.
How can you love yourself more through your challenges?
Let’s talk about emotional triggers for a few minutes.
Emotional triggers are things that make you react or behave in negative ways. It could be that something that someone says to you or to someone else that triggers a negative response in you. For example, it could be how you react when someone talks to you, directs you or even criticizes you. Or, it could be something you experience when you watch a movie or listen carefully to the lyrics of a song. So many things can make us react in ways that we might not necessarily be happy about.
I’ve worked super hard in the last few months at recognizing some of my emotional triggers and while I’ve come so far, I still have a long way to go. In fact, I’m learning that there will always be triggers around for me and for most people. However, how easily we are able to recognize when we are triggered and how we react to the triggers and is what really matters is what I believe is key in overcoming them. At least that has been my experience.
When I used to stuff my face at the simplest little things, I would feel so awful afterwards. NOT so much because I emotionally ate or even binged (although that was quite upsetting), I would be more upset at the fact that I wasn’t able to recognize when I was begin triggered. Or, even when I knew I was triggered, I didn’t take the time to take a step back, collect my thoughts and think about my behavior before I actually responded. Instead, I would react from a place of anger, hurt, frustration, loneliness or abandonment and this never made me happy. While it’s perfectly normal to feel those types of emotions, for me, it wasn’t okay to react in negative ways around them every single time I was triggered. It was exhausting and I often felt like I should know better not to react in such a manner, but nothing ever seemed to change. Reacting so often also made me feel OUT OF CONTROL and I loathed feeling that way! So, you know what, when I felt that way, I would eat more to numb those feelings!
As my dear friend, Elysha Maughan, says, “One way to reframe emotional triggers is to see them as opportunities for growth.” When we are emotionally triggered, this is an indication that we need healing in a particular area of our lives. So, it’s really our body’s way of telling us to look more closely at something. It’s telling us to dig a little deeper.
Isn’t it just amazing how are bodies are always looking out for us?
It is possible to heal from being over reactive. I used to get so pissed off when people used to tell me that I was over reacting to things! In fact, that was an emotional trigger for me!
After having done so much work in this area with my own personal development coach, and discovering what the source was for so many of these triggers, it’s getting easier for to me to heal from them.
However, the first step in doing this was acknowledging that these emotional triggers existed in my life in the first place!
Some questions to ponder:
What kinds of emotional triggers are you struggling with?
Are you able to recognize your emotional triggers?
How do you react when you’re emotionally triggered?
I’d love to hear form you! It would be so great and much appreciated if you’d leave a comment below.
I had an awakening today while I was chatting with a man at the gym.
He had lost a significant amount of weight. I congratulated him on his weight loss and asked him how he felt. His response was that “It’s easier to move around now.”
He went on to tell me that he lost if all by using a phone app called myplate.
After describing the app and how it changed his life, he went on to say that he was going out to have dinner with his children that night for ribs at a local place that I know serves fantastic food.
He added that he was eating very little today in preparation for tonight. When I asked him why, he said so that can eat all he wants tonight. Because this kind of conversation is my life’s work, I asked him a few probing questions just to get an idea of what his relationship with food is like now that he’s lost so much weight.
In a very casual way, I asked him if he eats past fullness, he replied, “Yes.” In fact, he said that he would eat until he was stuffed to the gills tonight at dinner and was looking forward to that. Then he added that he’d make up for the extra calories, since it’s a lot more than he normally eats, by going to the gym a few extra days this week.
After some more casual chatter, I asked him if he during his weight loss journey he was able to recognize when he was physically hungry, and he looked at me like I had four heads!
Now, to be honest, I’m used to this kind of reaction from people whenever we talk about food.
When I’m having discussions with potential clients, friends, or random people, and the conversation about food comes up, many are surprised when I tell them about how I found freedom from food. It’s so radically different than what they’ve been doing their whole lives and what we’re told to do in the media, that I’m used to this by now.
I’ve come to appreciate that my beliefs about dieting and about weight are not exactly mainstream, but they’ve helped me discover freedom from food after decades of being imprisoned by it, and that’s all that I concerns me at this point in my life.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years from my own personal experience and from coaching women that struggle with food is that they are out of touch with their bodies. So much so that they cannot even recognize when they’re physically hungry. To be clear, physical hunger is when your body is giving you some sort of physical cues that it needs to be nourished.
While not everyone experiences the same symptoms of physical hunger, here are some symptoms to be aware of:
- Difficulty concentrating; lack of focus
- Stomach pain or gnawing stomach (stomach grumbling)
- Headache or feeling light-headed
- Irritable mood
- Low energy
What I found so interesting about this conversation is that even after all this man’s weight loss, he still couldn’t recognize when he was hungry. Without a phone app, he didn’t know how to care for his body.
If you aren’t able to recognize when your body is physically hungry and are relying on a phone app or anything else outside of your body to tell you when you’re hungry, there will continue to be a disconnect between your mind and your body. As long as this disconnection exists, the chances of long-term weight loss are minimal to none. This is why over 95% of diets result in weight gain long-term.
The opposite of physical hunger is emotional (sometimes called biological) hunger. Emotional hunger surfaces when we want to eat due to something emotional that is going on in our lives. We’re usually devoid of physical hunger during these times and often times eat on “autopilot”.
These are some symptoms that will help you distinguish between physical and emotional hunger.
|Is open to different foods.
||Is for a specific food.
|Is based in the stomach.
||Is “above” the neck.
|Occurs out of physical need.
||Is paired with an upsetting emotion.
|Involves deliberate choices.
||Involves automatic or mindless eating.
|Stops when satisfied.
||Does not cease, even when full.
|Is based on eating as a necessity
||Promotes guilt & shame about eating
One of the criteria for having a healthy relationship with food is being able to recognize the differences between physical and emotional hunger. Extensive eating due to emotional hunger generally results in weight gain, shame, sense of failure, guilt and even depression and anxiety.
The more we learn to listen to our bodies cues for hunger, the more successful we will be in improving that mind/body connection.
Today I’ve hit another rock bottom in my life. I’m in a tremendous amount of emotional pain and truly, truly feel like a terrible person. Like everyone else, I have my days, but today is definitely a low point.
I’ve been doing some personal development with someone over the past few weeks and lots of emotions are getting kicked up. I thought I was coping okay until yesterday when I had a really negative meeting with some colleagues. The call was not what I was expecting and was very reactive to some of the things that were said. Words were said, feelings were hurt, and opinions were changed. Sadly, I cannot turn back the clock.
The remarkable thing about this is that I’ve been in this place before in my life. I’ve felt the despair, the sadness, the confusion. I’ve asked myself why I keep doing things in a certain way to get the same unfavorable outcome, but I continue to come up blank. When this has happened before, I know that the feelings don’t last forever, but while they’re here, it’s really uncomfortable.
Even though this incident happened yesterday, I was still feeling the after effects of it today when I woke up. In fact, I felt worse today than yesterday. I was emotionally hung-over. I was feeling desperate and knew I had to do something to feel better.
Back in the day, I used to chronically binge (I struggled with BED for years!) or emotionally eat to numb my feelings. Since I’ve been following Intuitive Eating for a handful of years, food is no longer my drug of choice! So, I had to ask myself what could I do now to relieve myself of these feelings now?
Today I chose to move my body in ways that made me feel good about myself. I rode my bike to the gym and felt the warm sunshine on my back. I followed that up by doing some cardio while watching an episode of Ellen. Now I’m writing about this in hopes that it will help me feel better and that it may inspire someone else who might be wanting to reach for food to soothe their feelings.
Now that I’m feeling a bit more grounded, I’ve gotten clear about a few things:
- My behavior follows a pattern. I know this because similar interactions with people have led me to act in the same manner and given me the same results none of which have been favorable.
- I haven’t learned the lesson yet. Unless I get to the root of why this keeps happening, it will continue to happen. I believe that the Universe keeps presenting these situations for me so that I’ll do it differently the next time around. Until I resolve the issue within myself that is causing me to react in this way, I will continue to be given chances to do it differently. That’s comforting, but also distressing because this is so unpleasant!
- Personal development work is tough. There is no doubt about it, digging into the inner corners of your soul is not always pleasant. What I see now after so many years of doing personal development work, mainly around my relationship with food and body, is that it frees you up so you can start loving yourself on a whole new level.
- You’ve got to have tools. It would have been so easy to just fall back in to old behaviors and stuff my face for a few hours or even days. However, if there is one thing that all this internal work has taught me is that that wouldn’t have solved anything. It also wouldn’t have given me the clarity that I have now.
- This is a blessing. Even though I feel like crap, I’m choosing to see all of this as a blessing in disguise. This blessing will help me to see the parts of me that still need healing. By doing that, I will see real change in my life.
- I still need help. I’ve come a long way in my life and my relationship with myself, but I still need someone to hold my hand for this kind of stuff. Discovering these patterns and dismantling them isn’t easy and having that person there to support me is what allows me to keep going.
- The love is still there. Yep, I feel like crap, but I still love myself. I have faith that I’ll work this out and be a better version of me when it’s over.
I know these feelings will pass. I’m thankful for the tools that I choose to use instead of food because they will continue to help me grow as a woman, mom, wife and as a coach.
I’ve come far enough in my journey to know that I’m never alone in my feelings. If this resonates with you, I hope it helps you to feel less alone. I know how scary it can be to feel like you’re the only person on the Earth who feels a certain way so I know it’s not pleasant!
If you struggle with food, I hope it gives you hope that food isn’t the answer. After being a slave to bingeing and emotional eating for several decades, I know better than anyone how easy it is to grab for the food when the tough emotions hit.
Food for thought:
How are you dealing with your inner demons?
What patterns keep showing up in your life that are making you feel bad about yourself?
When these feelings clobber you over the head, what are you willing to do instead of eating?
What are you willing to do to rid yourself of these painful patterns so you can grow?
Forgive me. I’ve been absent for a few weeks. I got a burst of inspiration today after seeing something on Facebook and decided to share my thoughts about it here because the topic is so important!
Just because you may emotionally overeat, binge eat, or don’t exercise consistently doesn’t mean that you don’t love yourself. I see memes all over the place that say, “Exercise is an act of self-love.”. While I understand the premise behind those words, I think we need to be so careful when we say them or read them as they have the potential to make us feel like sh*t about ourselves.
The truth is, sometimes we get stuck. That isn’t always an indication that we don’t love ourselves. Sometimes people just really don’t know how to get out of their own way and need someone to help them see that they are the one’s putting up that barrier. That may or may not have to do with loving oneself.
Many women who struggle with food & body image issues have had these issues for decades. It’s VERY rare that I meet women who just suddenly started to experience these issues. If they’re honest, they’ve been around for some time. These types of patterns take time to develop and sometimes take even longer to unravel. However, if you want to see lasting change, the unraveling is absolutely necessary to move forward.
So, if you cannot get out of your own way and are tired of struggling to make things “right” with your food & how you feel about your body, what is stopping you from asking for the help that you need to move forward?
If you say it’s time, that’s simply an excuse and an indication that you’re engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors.
If you say it’s money, I would also say that is also self-sabotage because you don’t know how much it costs.
Self-sabotage runs rampant in all of us and is not easy to figure out on your own. Remaining in this type of behavior will not serve you and will never ever give you the results that you crave AND deserve to have.
If you are committed to moving forward and healing your relationship with food & body, and want help from a pro who has earned her stripes by living through the worst of it with her own food & body issues, reach out to me for a complimentary 30 minute consultation. I don’t bite and I feel confidently that you will gain at least one or two tips about how you can begin to shift your mindset. I look forward to connecting with you. Schedule your session here.