Habits and real change can take time, therefore, for many of us, the long term win is too difficult to envision. The quick fix is alluring and the ease of the short term feel good treat too irresistible to surpass. Believe me, I have been there, I have done the work and it isn’t always easy. You have to be consistent because consistency is the ultimate key, however, there are some strategies I want to share with you to help ease you on your path.
Just take a few minutes to think, If you knew you could be in a completely different mindset by Christmas next year and have the body you desire without a shadow of a doubt, how would this change your thoughts and actions in 2016? In one year time…
You have a choice, you can commit to working on your mindset – and it does take commitment and consistency – for one year. The alternative is to be as you are right now (this may be a perfect you and this is absolutely fantastic), will you achieve your goals this way? I guarantee you success if you follow these principles consistently so…
Are you ready?
Make the commitment now – write it down preferably in a new dedicated notebook/journal.
What do you want? – weight loss (be specific), energy levels etc.
How do you want to feel?
What would it mean for you to feel this way?
Success tip: Use this book daily to make notes of progress or feelings, this will help you keep focus and make real lasting changes.
Be consistent – Every single time you give up, fall of the wagon, feel in a defeatist mood or are going through a difficult time, pick up your notes – what and why – and get back on the wagon. The first habit I want you to focus on is not saying I’ll start again…. e.g.after next week, on Monday, in a few weeks time etc. Let’s face it, life comes with challenges, these times will happen, build in your own support strategies and thought shifters now. Remember, it is okay to not always be perfect but avoid the excuse trap, use your notebook/journal to check your mindset.
This Christmas I found myself in a different mindset from last year, and Xmas 2014 positively distinct from prior years and so on, which inspired me to write this post. I realised that I had built upon habits and we had created a family environment which had made it much easier to eat well. Of course, we indulge in foods high in sugar and fat, its Xmas after all! One of the main differences which I now understand is usual for those who have always been slim, is that after overindulging I listen to my body and act accordingly. Instead of in past times when I would continue to overeat and make the decision I would start again after the holidays. Also much, more importantly, the feeling and energy I get from eating well is something I am not willing to give up for anything! Furthermore, I love my food and what I eat, hence getting used to a host of different flavours and learning to love your veggies makes processed foods simply boring.
Valuing and accepting you!
You are making healthy lifestyle changes because you want to live the life you love for longer and more! However, do not avoid making plans until you have achieved weight loss goals. Validate yourself for the person you are today, you are fantastic, you are not your weight. Focus on accepting you by repeating affirmations daily. A good way to do this is to note your affirmations in your notebook/journal and make it a daily practice -morning/evening e.g. I am a wonderful person deserving of fun, love and laughter…
Change your psychology of food?
I found that making peace with food caused the largest shift in my mindset. It may seem a rather weird topic of discussion but I feel that if we discussed this much more publicly rather than just within psychology literature, we may support many more people in making long-term health changes.
We tend to attach emotions to food for a variety of reasons, however, we can remind ourselves that food is fuel and it is useful, allowing us to live our daily lives. I always use the analogy of a car and premium quality fuel when teaching food and nutrition to kids. It is a simple concept but one that is often forgotten – for me included. I have written before about self-sabotage which fits into our psychology of food. It is a balance, if you eat that bar of chocolate try to desist in beating yourself up, you have not done irredeemable destruction to your body – keep perspective – it is a journey and what we eat most of the time is what counts.
If you would benefit from understanding your psychology of food, use your notebook to record your feelings at times when you overeat. For example you may discover that you indulge in high sugar in stressful times or eat more junk foods when you are happy and feel the need for a reward, alternatively you may use food as a distraction or to avoid facing an emotion.
If any of the following beliefs sound familiar, use the strategy above and or seek support from myself and the links below. If you are like me then you may at some points relate to all of the psychology points below. I have included questions I found on harleytherapy.co.uk to allow you to check if each point feels like you:
Low self-esteem cycle
Eating foods that cause you to put on weight can be a subconscious way of reflecting your belief that you are not worthy. Being overweight then gives you a reason to beat yourself up and reinforce the belief.Questions to ask yourself if this feels like you:
Questions to ask yourself if this feels like you:
Do I really want this food I am about to eat? Or is this about something else?
Am I eating because I am hungry, or because I am feeling low?
What is one tiny thing I could do right now to feel good about myself instead?
What things are right about me? Can I make a list and post it where I’ll see it daily?
What scares me about eating healthy and taking better care of myself?
What would I have to give up by eating healthy e.g. feeling bad about myself, being able to get attention over my food issues, friends who also have food issues, etc?
Food as reward
I think we all use food as a reward to different extents. There are many theories which make perfect sense, however from war times when food was rationed it is understandable that in post-war, the celebration of an abundance of foods and sweet treats became, even more, special – it was also the renewed encouragement to eat everything (including large portions) on your plate until you were allowed the all revered dessert. Wow! This is a hard message to change when bringing up our own children, talk about habits developed over a few lifetimes! Like me were you rewarded with treats if you were good throughout childhood? This is a work in progress, ergo changing your rewards for you and your children and viewing food as fuel will go a long way to making a mind shift in this area.
Food and love
I personally connect with this psychology point the least, however, I wanted to include it as when speaking to clients and friends this becomes a common theme. Food is often tied to good memories and for all of us is a core part of fun times and parties. Subconsciously you may have the belief that food is love. Again keeping a diary of events and eating habits can help you uncover your food psychology and making healthy clean eating foods is a way of showing your love in a much healthier and kinder way – enjoy experimenting!
Questions to ask here are:
Did I grow up in a home environment where love was shown with food?
In what ways might I have confused love and food?
Do I cook as a way of showing love? Is my esteem connected to my cooking?
Do I see making rich meals for myself as a way of taking care of or loving myself?
What other ways, outside of food, can I think of to give and receive more love?
Can I accept that it’s perfectly natural to want love?
Food as distraction
This is probably the most common psychology food point and the one I can most relate to. Isn’t it part of being British? – ‘keeping a stiff upper lip’, ‘don’t panic’, ‘don’t cry’, ‘don’t be angry’ and on it goes. However, surprisingly it can also be that we reach for food to suppress feelings of joy or success. It is helpful to have distraction strategies in place for times when you feel you need to use food to suppress emotions e.g. colour therapy books, mindfulness, meditation etc. Allowing yourself to feel emotions can be difficult but writing them down and or talking through your emotions will help you overcome challenging times.
If this feels all too familiar, try asking yourself the following questions:
How often do I actually let myself feel sad, angry, or really really good?
Was I told as a child to not to cry, punished if I felt angry?
Was I given food to distract me if I was upset?
Do I snack often instead of proper meals?
Did I at some point learn that feeling too happy is dangerous or arrogant?
What is the worst thing that could happen if I decided to let myself feel happy/angry/sad?
Lots of love and health for 2016!
Supportive information and further help can be found at:
Need support with self-love, affirmations and more:
Life coach – www.sarahseed.com
Each year I find my relationship with food improves and evolves. For so many years I battled with food as an emotional crutch, a need and then a hatred and resentment. I can now admit to overcoming a food addiction, which sounds rather funny when placed next to an alcohol or drug addiction, but for sufferers, it can be just as damaging. More people die from obesity and food related problems each year, it was reported in 2014 that one in ten deaths in England and Wales were caused by excess weight gain.