Today I had a revelation. I've been battling my weight for a few years. I go up and down within the same weight 20 lbs or so. Every winter I go up. Every spring I work to get it off like crazy, lather, rinse, repeat every year for any year where I wasn't pregnant. I always lose the weight and I always lament that spring, my favourite season, is spoiled every year by me having to lose the weight, diet, eat less, walk more and so on. The only one of these that I do enjoy is the walking more. I'd love to come into spring already fit and happy and I would love to just enjoy it without having to work so hard at it.
So on my walk today, the first in a long time due to winter(I hate winter) I had some time to think about weight and why diets don't work, why it is harder to keep weight off than to lose it. Why I always gain weight in the winter(I hate winter) and why, when spring comes I shift into gear and start being happier and healthier.
I've noticed over the years that my battle isn't with hunger. I rarely eat because I"m hungry, but rather I eat because I want to. I over-eat. Yes, I eat too much. I hear over weight people complain that they "don't eat much, don't know why I am fat" frequently. I don't know about you but I get fat because I eat to much. I'm thinking maybe you got fat from eating too much too. Your thoughts on what is "too much" may be skewed(mine are) but you ate too much somewhere along the line. Whether your "too much" is different than someone elses, well that's possible but I am fat because I eat too much. I"m not hungrier than other people I just eat for reasons other than hunger. Some people call it emotional eating. I don't agree with that label. But I do think it's on the right track. I don't find that it's emotion that causes me to reach for 6 more cookies when I've already have had three. It's the lack of it. Or maybe rather, the lack of the expression of it.
Let me explain further. It's when I"m tired. It's when I'm bored. It's when I'm not mindful of what I'm doing. It's when I let my thoughts, for that instant, excuse me eating those 6 cookies and says that it's okay, that I need them. Because I already had 3 so I've blown it anyway, because they taste so good, I'll just eat them tonight because tomorrow I can start over and eat better tomorrow, because my jeans are tighter because I don't get out for walks and runs anymore because it's winter(I hate winter) and so on. Those thoughts I have that excuse me from feeling my emotions, that let me get away with that and lead me back time and time again to the chocolate chip cookies.
I think that we aren't quite going deep enough into why we over-eat. I think we do it because we "think" our way into these habits. The emotion doesn't cause us to eat, it's the thought that we have that we can/should/will/it won't hurt/I'll walk an hour tomorrow that leads us to eat that cookie. And then we further allow our thoughts to fail us(or do we fail our thoughts?)by telling us that not only is it our fault, but then it tells us we are failures if we eat the cookie. Because we should have the will power, we shouldn't because eating cookies is bad and fat is bad and the emotions from that make us cry and then, well we eat a few more cookies. It's not emotional eating though. It's the thoughts that tell us these lies over and over and over again that lead us to the cookie jar. I remember a weight loss club I joined a few years and they had a pledge. One line of the pledge was "I will control my emotions and not let my emotions control me". I don't think we should be controlling our emotions. I think we should be feeling our emotions. We should cry when we are sad, not eat. We should vent when we are angry, not eat. We should admit when we are bored and try to do something creative with our time, not eat. But when we don't that isn't our emotions, that is the thoughts that we have that tell us what to do with our emotions. I think we should feel our emotions and control our thoughts.
So how do we change those thoughts. Well first of all we acknowledge them for what they are. Thoughts. They are ours. It's not the diet industry's fault, it's not the skinny girls in the media or the media itself that is to blame, it's not the size of the portions and the local Mickey Dee's that make us over-eat. It's us. We do it to ourselves by adopting a thinking pattern that leads us further and further along the path to being overweight or worse, having a love-hate relationship with that which gives us life, our food. Ya gotta own your crap.
The first thing I am doing is visualising myself, not as thin, but as a person who can take just one cookie, because there is an abundance of cookies in the universe, I made 3 batches last week for example so I know there are a lot of cookies available. There is no cookie shortage. I am visualising myself tasting the cookie dough and moving on, I am visualising myself eating a hot cookie out of the oven and moving on, I visualise myself not making cookies too often but I also see myself eating 6 cookies again at some point, having that moment of weakness, and then moving on again. I see myself as crying when I'm sad and when my thoughts turn to something to console myself with I'm going to go to my visualisation. I'm going to practice this every day. I'm going to do it in the morning. I'm going to do it at night. I'm going to meditate for a few minutes before my meals and snacks. I'd like you to do this as well. I'm also going to meditate on my emotions. Use that as a safe outlet for anger, sadness, happiness(yes we over eat even when we are happy because after all, we deserve it!).
The second thing I am doing is making a mindful exploration of the thoughts I am having while eating the cookies, fighting the urge to eat the cookies as well as exploring the thoughts going through my mind when I am in that place that can't be bothered to eat the cookies. I do go to that place, I've even named it. I call it Maui because it's more like a vacations spot than where I live.
The third thing I am going to do is to start a support group for women who are having difficulty with weight and eating and need to talk about and work through their reasons for overeating. I am going to make this free and available here in my home town as a weekly meeting and I'm going to make changing your thoughts, losing weight one thought at a time the focus of the gathering rather than the poundage loss. I'm going to looking for members right away. Maybe I'll even do a facebook page or a Yahoo group.
Finally, I'm going to work on changing my own thoughts to positive, healthy, no-more-excuses thoughts that promote healthy eating habits and I'm not going to weigh myself at all while doing this. I've also decided I'm not spending money on any more diet gizmos, gadgets or gimics. However if you decide you want to do so I think it's perfectly fine to incorporate this change of thoughts into your weightloss journey on any program. I think losing weight one thought at a time might actually be complimentary to any weight loss program.
I invite you to join me on this journey. If your relationship with food isn't what you would like it to be come along. Share your thoughts with me. Tell me what thoughts you have that defeat you. Tell me how you plan on changing your thinking around food. Tips and tools are always welcome.
I think this might be easy to do. I think it's a matter of just doing it, just letting yourself have that healthy relationship with food that you want without too much effort.
So, Let's lose weight, one thought at a time!