When Food Talks Back

Here’s a chapter from my weight loss eGuide, “Eat to Thrive.”  If you like what you see, feel free to download the entire eGuide at the link below.

It’s the end of week 22, and I’m confident that the scale will be down another two pounds when I weigh myself tomorrow.  I’m writing at my laptop; sitting at Bernice’s Bakery and enjoying a pastry filled with cream cheese and blueberries.  The pastry feels soft and silky in my mouth; like biting into a satin pillow.  Why am I so confident, even as I take another swig of robust coffee with 100% cream?  I think it’s because I’ve found a secret.  I’ve discovered a key to losing weight that goes beyond pounds and inches.  I’ve found a way to change my mind, as well as my dress size.  It’s this turn of the tumblers inside, more than food or exercise regiments, which has delivered the most results.

I admit that most of my habits aren’t really about food or exercise.  They’re about what’s going on inside my head.  Before I started my 100 pounds journey, I snarfed McDonald’s because I was bored.  I gorged on doughnuts because I wanted a reward for pushing so hard.  I crashed on the couch because I was exhausted from the low-level barrage of negative, judgmental thoughts boiling in my brain.  My mind was my biggest barrier to improved health.  I’ve heard this sentiment echoed among professionals, too.  When I asked Certified Personal Trainer, Lani Bolenbaugh, “What do you think are the biggest challenges facing people who want to lose weight?” she immediately answered, “Their minds.”  Unfortunately, most weight loss plans place the mind a distant third behind food or exercise.  Diets like “The Zone,” “Atkins,” and the recently-popular “HCG” target food as Enemy #1.  Workouts like “Insanity” and “P90X” promote extreme exercise.  While I see benefits to these programs, I notice that they rarely address the mind.

I decided to bring my “mind revolution” to life with a visual concept.  It looks like this:

triangel hierarchy of weight loss approaches

As you can see, I’ve turned the typical weight loss approach upside-down.  Mind becomes 60% of the whole; exercise 30%; and food a small 10%.  How can this work?  Because my daily routine stems from thought patterns in my heads, that’s the only sensible place to start.  To see my patterns clearly, I have to work backwards, like this:

My body is shaped by habits.

My habits grow from my experiences.

My experiences are created by thoughts.

Food Talks to MeFor example, last Thanksgiving, I weighed 44 pounds more than I do today.  I constantly felt heavy, like I was moving through invisible sludge.  I ate McDonald’s drive-thru three to four times each week.  When I ate fast food, I experienced relief.  The food became a comfort.  In fact, it subconsciously spoke to me.  It’s no surprise that these thoughts led me to pack on the pounds.

To make a difference in my life, I needed to start with those thoughts.  But, not in an attacking, “my mind is my enemy” kind of way.  Instead, I started with a positive thought.  The first thought is often the most important – and the hardest to authentically believe.  In her book, “Secrets of a Former Fat Girl,” Lisa Delaney puts it perfectly.  She explains that, to lose weight, we need to let go of judgment, rules, or programs, and foster the belief that we can lose weight.  I’m a person who can be healthier is a powerful starting belief.

How we get there, and however long it takes, is nobody’s business.  For example, before I began my journey, I spent six months doing some pre-weight loss heavy lifting with my beliefs.  I practiced “stopping.”  Any free time I had, I spent in bed, being still.  I didn’t always sleep.  I’d be too awake with worries like…

I should be doing laundry or the dishes.

I’m being too lazy.

How will the bills get paid?

You know what, no one had to wear dirty underwear.  I didn’t regress to larvae stage.  The bills got paid.  PLUS, I learned a massive lesson.  One afternoon in bed, I lay awake.  By now, I had gotten rather bored of all the “shoulds” in my head, and I’d gotten passed any guilt.  I began to truly rest inside.  In that moment, I felt a light shining, starting from within and expanding to fill the entire bedroom.  I say “felt a light” because I couldn’t see it, but the warmth and clarity enveloping me absolutely lit me up.  I imagined angels dancing over me in some invisible place, celebrating my existence.  And I knew – I knew that I knew that I knew – I was of great value, even as I lay in bed, doing nothing.  I was of so much value that not even I could take it away.  It was the kind of knowing which comes from such eternal truth that I immediately believed it of everyone.  You, me, we are all of infinite value, just by being alive.

That sounds foo-foo, but this idea had a real-world impact on my life.  Now that I had an awareness of my permanent value, I had something to compare all my worries to.  I realized how much time I wasted arguing with thoughts that aren’t even true.  Once I saw these thoughts as time-suckers that didn’t even help me, it became easy to see beyond them.  That meant it became easier to channel that worry into action.  I got lots more done.  Instead of fretting over chores, I just did them.  When I wanted to rest, I napped.  Then, I’d wake up refreshed and ready to do some more.  I paid the bills quicker, instead of letting them stew in a to-do soup.  Everything got easier.  Life got easier.  Eating healthier became easier.

To get off the weight loss rollercoaster, I had to spend some time in my head.  Even so, I can drum up a worry about that:

If I spend so much effort on my mind, then I’ll become obsessed.  I won’t be moving.  I won’t be dieting.  How will I get results?

This seems logical, but reality doesn’t work like that.  When I was heavier, I was already obsessed.  I thought about my size, or compared my body to another woman’s shape, at least once an hour.  Little things would constantly remind me of my girth:  the butt-squishing seats in the movie theater, the chafing of tight waistbands, and the rubbing of my inner-thighs when I walked.  I obsessed about my size all the time.

Today, I spend a minimum of energy focusing on my weight, partly because I’m doing something about it and partly because my value is no longer attached to my size.  All this freedom, and I haven’t even lost the whole 100 pounds yet!

Action dispels fear.  Movement creates momentum, even when all of the action is on the inside, under the covers.  In fact – especially on the inside, because the same thinking that caused me so much worry can be retrained to work double-time in my favor.  After a few months of seeing beyond my worries, that habit-forming pattern which caused me to gain weight began to work in reverse.  I considered the possibility that I could get healthy again.

Not too long after, I felt like moving, just 10 minutes in the pool.  I started reading about health.  I joined a support group to help me continue examining my thoughts.  Soon, I began having fresh experiences.  I felt lighter while doing water aerobics in the pool, I didn’t feel so alone in my struggle, and I cultivated a deep acceptance of who I already was.  It didn’t take long for others to notice a change.  Coworkers noticed my energy boost.  I made friends with the gals at my favorite smoothie counter.  The more I moved, the more momentum I created, the cleaner I ate, and the easier every day became.  Eventually, I realized what my heart had known all along:

I am a person who likes to be healthy.

Today, I rarely visit McDonald’s.  I’m aware of my triggers, like stress and lack of sleep, and I anticipate ways to work around them.  I feel like I can affect my life again.  I’m more myself than I’ve been in a long time.

Eat to Thrive eGuide, 100 Pounds in 1 YearLike?  Want some more?  Download your “Eat to Thrive” eGuide at the 100 Pounds Store now.

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