When You Don’t Have Motivation, Try Commitment

There exists a period between inspiration and execution referred to and felt as motivation.

Motivation seems to be what gets us to tackle our goals, to resist resistance, and to succeed at something.

It is often stimulated by reading powerful stories, passionate quotes, or seeing beautiful images. It is propelling, and encouraging, and it is felt.

So, what do you do if you do not feel it?

I think many of us go through seasons of feeling motivated to eat healthy and to be active, and then through seasons where we don’t.  I certainly do.

Often, seasons of motivation are coupled by optimism, and hope, while seasons without motivation may be anxious, negative, or filled with resent.

Or, perhaps most frightening, coupled by feelings of nothing at all.

What motivates you to take care of your body?

Is it feeling well?  Having energy?  Looking pretty?  Maintaining your weight?  Do you ever go through seasons where you don’t care about these things?  If so, what keeps you committed to the cause?

Last year I made a decision to take a brisk walk outside everyday.  It wasn’t an idea that took much meditation.  In fact, it was a very simple decision that has not seemed to have much impact on my schedule or general sense of well-being.

I take a brisk walk, outside, everyday.  That’s it.

Rain or shine, convenient or not, I just do it.

I enjoy being outside, and I like going for walks, but I guesstimate that I have not felt like going for about 75% of my walks.  It has been 10.5 months since I started walking everyday, which means I haven’t felt like taking 220 out of 294 total walks.   Some of the remaining 74 walks have been anticipated, but mostly, they have just been taken because of the commitment I made to just take a daily walk.

What has been interesting to note during this period is that motivation has seemed to have very little to do with my decision to walk, and commitment has had everything to do with it.

It’s the whole, “just do it”, idea, which sometimes feels empty and uninspired, but in the end, it actually facilitates just doing it.

Walking everyday has been a relatively easy experiment  to prove that the feelings of motivation are not required to succeed at a goal.  Had I waited to feel motivated to walk, I would have probably skipped 220 walks so far.  Maybe more.

But, of course, I want to feel motivated to do the things I do, and I want to experience the reward to succeeding at my goals.  Using the experience of walking everyday, no matter what, is opening my mind up, and enlightening me to committing to other decisions, even when I do not feel like it.

Because this seems to be the gap in between motivation and motivation.

What might you achieve by deciding to commit to the desires you keep thinking about?

Image from Pulptastic.

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Self Acceptance Is Your Choice Today

A common misconception about accepting yourself is that if you do, you will become lazy and never achieve any of your goals.

This isn’t true.

I read about accepting myself, exactly as I was and where I was at in life, a few years ago.  The idea seemed simple, but it was very threatening.

It seemed simple because all self acceptance required was a decision to stop rejecting myself. It didn’t necessitate anything outside of myself such as a job promotion, approval from others, an improved marriage, or reputation, or a better house, or car, or bigger bank account, or fill in the blank.

It didn’t require working up to anything before it could be practiced, except the decision to practice it.

Because of this, it was also very threatening.

If self acceptance didn’t have anything to do with outside affirmation and influences, and only had to do with my decision to practice it, then it was entirely my own choice to be comfortable and happy with who I was.

And I wasn’t comfortable or happy with who I was.

So, I didn’t accept myself.

Sometimes it seems easier, or even appropriate, to decide to hold off accepting yourself until “x”, “y”, or “z” happens.

Examples as they relate to diet and fitness:

  • Losing the last 5 pounds (or 10, or 15, or 20).
  • Getting a flatter stomach (or more toned arms, or thinner thighs).
  • Fitting into your ideal size jeans.
  • Eating what you think is the perfect diet (and never blowing it).

All of these goals are fine to have (though not always worthwhile), but when they necessitate your own self acceptance, your comfort and happiness relies on their presence, and typically remains in the past or in the future.  You might remember a few years ago as a happier time because you were thinner, or you might wait to be happy next month, when you finally (you hope), lose weight.

But what about right now?

What about being comfortable and happy with who you are today?

The belief is that achieving your goals will make you happy.  That they will erase, or at least soothe, life’s difficulties, that things will make more sense, that you will finally be comfortable with who you are and where you’re at.

And that others will be comfortable and happy with who you are and where you’re at.

But this is only an illusion.

The reality is that you will continuously be growing and evolving with the seasons of life.  You will experience hardship, and loss, and pain, and devastation, but you will be relieved by grace, and mercy, and kindness, friendship, love, and laughter.  And hope.

Your body will change.  Your face will change.  Your hair will change.  For the better, and for the worse.

You will get promotions, and offers, and approvals, and rejections.

You’ll make friends, and then take different paths.

You will meet a lover and grow together, and you might lose them, and you might never.

And you can choose to accept yourself the entire time.

You can choose to be comfortable and happy about who you are and where you are at.  You can certainly try to improve yourself and situations, but the process can be enjoyed and expressed lovingly, like you would to someone you cared about, simply because it’s better than negativity, judgment, anxiety, and worry.

Because it’s better than letting anything outside of yourself determine your success.  Because it’s better to be happy right now, than to wait until tomorrow or reserve it for the past.

Because accepting yourself breaks down the walls that you’ve built all around you, so that you can finally be liberated to go out and do what you need to do in this life without the burden of hating yourself or feeling stuck.

The truth is, accepting yourself will not turn you into a lazy and unlikeable slob.  It will relieve you, allow you to get over what is keeping you from moving forward, and free you to enjoy the short time you have to breath and love and wonder.

If you’re in the habit of waiting for something or someone to liberate your self rejection, why not try choosing to do it yourself?

Why not choose to accept yourself, and see how it goes?

Why not see if you can enjoy who you are and where you’re at today?

And then try it tomorrow, and the next day, and then the next.

Keep goals, and keep learning, and keep exploring, because it keeps things interesting, and challenging, and rewarding, but keep it in mind that those things are only life’s varieties, and that you are exactly where you need to be right now to choose self acceptance.

Image from Paris Hotel Boutique.

Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge, Part 4

This is Part 4 of the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

You can read what has been posted so far by clicking on the link above.

In Part 1, I wrote about how under-eating can lead to urges to binge.  Part 2 went over the physical and mental signs of under-eating, and Part 3 gave examples of what under-eating might look like for the average person who wants to eat healthy, but very well might be under-eating and experiencing urges to binge.

Part 4 will offer suggestions on increasing your eating to reduce the urge to binge.

It seems crazy to suggest increasing how much you eat when we are bombarded with the message to eat less.  Eating less has its place, and is an effective way to lose unwanted weight, but eating less is not usually the most effective approach for those who are caught up in the habit of binge eating.  Eating less is usually what triggers the actual urges to binge, increasing the likelihood of binge eating.

It is worth considering removing the period of dieting (under-eating) that leads up to urges to binge as a means to experience less binge urges.

This is a practical approach, but may be very intimidating or even scary to the person who is used to under-eating and bingeing.

I suggest exploring this approach as quickly or slowly as it appeals to you.  The reason for this is that our actions tend to follow our thoughts (beliefs) and if you do not believe that eating more will reduce your urges to binge, you likely will not enjoy the process of eating enough and you might not stick with it.

This does not mean that eating more is not an effective approach to reducing binge urges because it certainly is!

It only means that eating enough will be frustrating and uncomfortable for you if you do not believe that it is a plausible practice.

Bingeing is a physical act that requires physical action to end, but all physical actions begin as a thought, often subconsciously and emotionally.  Putting the effort into ending binge eating requires both a physical and emotional change in approach, so go easy on yourself as you explore the two, and get comfortable with your own growth, no matter what its speed.

Some benefits of eating more throughout the day besides experiencing less urges to binge are:

  • Feeling more satisfied after meals.
  • Feeling more satisfied after snacks (if you need them at all).
  • Experiencing less anxiety around food.
  • Experiencing freedom to think about more than just food and eating.
  • Reduced discomfort from dieting.
  • Increased concentration.
  • Increased focus.
  • Increased sexual desires.
  • Improved moods.
  • Improved digestion (assuming you are bingeing less or not at all).
  • Increased ability to eat along the usual meal schedules of those around you (this is more of a convenience).
  • Bingeing less (and not at all).
  • Less regret, guilt, and shame attributed to bingeing.
  • Weight loss (if it was needed).
  • More stable hormones.
  • Freedom to enjoy your life without the burden of binge eating.

So, on that positive note, here are some ways that you can increase your eating which will reduce your urges to binge:

  • Increase the portion sizes of your meals.  If you have two eggs for breakfast, try adding an extra egg (or two).
  • Add new foods to your meals.  If you have eggs for breakfast, try adding some avocado or some spinach, or some olives, or fresh fruit.  If you have yogurt, try adding some macadamia nuts.
  • Add healthy fats to your meals.  Fats will keep you fuller longer and definitely add to your satiety levels.  You can experiment with olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, butter, ghee or even lard (best from organic sources).  No need to worry about the extra calories from a serving of fat–extra calories are the whole idea in this experiment!
  • Increase the amount of protein you eat at each meal.
  • Add some satisfying carbohydrates to your meals.  Carb have gotten a bad wrap over the last twenty or so years, but provided you do not base your entire diet on them, they can be a very beneficial addition to your diet (especially if you exercise or are a female with hormonal imbalances).  Try sweet potatoes, white potatoes, yucca, carrots, beets, white rice, bananas, or plantains.  I generally advise sticking with vegetables and fruits as your carb choices simply because gram for gram, they are more nutritious than grains and legumes (but do not feel that you cannot have grains or legumes!).

These are only a few ideas for increasing your food intake so that you are eating enough and experiencing less urges to binge.

You do not have to follow this advice, as it is always your choice how to go about this, but you will probably find it relatively easy to increase your food intake with healthy, whole foods, and you will probably find them delicious.  Your meals will become more palatable, and you will feel satisfied, calm, and able to go on with the rest of your life as they are digesting and providing you energy.

I caution against adding processed foods and foods high in sugar to your diet as you increase your food intake.  The reason for this is that these foods are known to not satisfy, not leave you feeling calm or clear, and do not offer benefits to your digestion, skin, joints, and mental well-being.  For someone who has dieted and binged, healing what has been damaged will do wonders not only for the obvious physical reasons, but for your mental health.

Know that you may choose less than healthy foods to increase your intake and it will have no impact on your morality–only your physical and mental health.  You can still stop urges to binge with less than healthy foods, but it might be more difficult.  This is for you to determine.

Mathematically, implementing a few of the ideas above each day can increase your calories by as little as 100 or several hundred.  If this frightens you, remember that if you are dieting and bingeing, you are eating very little followed by periods of eating amounts that are far too much for anyone.  Eating increased portions throughout the day, and not bingeing, always ends up being less food over the long-term, than dieting and bingeing.

Remember that trying to maintain a diet of 1,600 calories or less is likely what got you into the cycle of dieting and bingeing.  Do not feel guilty about increasing your daily calories.  Most people do best on at least 2,000 calories a day.  If this sounds crazy, think about how crazy dieting and bingeing has felt.

It is worth trying something new.

Experiment with this if you are currently dieting and bingeing.  You might come to enjoy this way of eating and you will certainly enjoy less urges to binge.

In Part 5, I will write about bingeing even after you are eating enough.  Bingeing begins as a way for your body to receive enough nutrients after a period of starvation, but often becomes habitual.  The good news is that habits can be changed so read on as we continue the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

For now, leave a comment if you have tried any of these ideas and let us know how they have helped to reduce your urges to binge.

Image from Tumblr.

Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, BONUS

This is a bonus post to the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

You can read Parts 1-5 by clicking on the link above.

In this post, I wanted to give some additional tips and reinforcement that can help you stop binge eating:

  • Remember that you are not alone.  Many people struggle with binge eating.  It’s nature is isolating and you might think you are out of your mind for doing it, or the only one doing it, but you aren’t.
  • Binge eating is a natural response to extreme dieting (under-eating).  It is the body’s way to make sure you do not starve.
  • Binge eating is a habit that can be changed.
  • One way to reduce urges to binge is by eating enough throughout the day.
  • Your “enough” will be different from the next person and will vary according to how active you are, how quick your metabolism is, and on your basic genetic needs for food.
  • Experiment with finding your “enough”.
  • You won’t be perfect at this.  Some days you will eat too much, other days too little, other days it will seem just right.
  • Perfection is not the goal.
  • Rather, nourishing your body with foods that make you feel great and keep you satisfied is.
  • You can eat any foods you want to stop bingeing.
  • Many people say that eating foods found in nature, such as vegetables, fruits, animal proteins, nuts, seeds, eggs, and whole fats are good choices when reducing urges to binge.
  • But you do not need to eat what anyone else says, nor do you need to follow a specific diet.
  • Eat the foods that leave you feeling your best.
  • Experiment with this.
  • Pay attention to how food effects your body, your mind, and your mood.
  • Pay attention to how food minimizes or maximizes your urges to binge.
  • Use food as your ally, whenever you can, but know that no matter what you eat, you get to decide if you will binge or not.
  • When you return to eating enough, and eating foods that make you feel great, you still might have urges to binge.
  • This is only your brain sending signals that it has been conditioned to send.
  • These urges do not mean anything.  They do not define who you are, they don’t have any significance, and they do not need to be obeyed.
  • Notice when you have an urge to binge, accept it as a part of ending binge eating, remind yourself that they are not that big of a deal, and celebrate that you are not binge eating anymore.
  • You can include others on this journey if you want.
  • You can attend therapy or groups that help you change your approach to food, or have an accountability partner.
  • But these are all optional.
  • Enjoy the friendships you make in these settings, but remember you still have to be responsible for your life, and for your eating.
  • Events may have occurred in the past or may be occurring right now that you do not prefer, and this is unfortunate, but they are not reasons to sabotage yourself with food.
  • Fix the situations that you can, and try to let go of the ones that are outside of your influence.
  • This is really hard.
  • But you can do it.
  • If you do binge eat, don’t beat yourself up.
  • It’s just a part of stopping for many people.  It doesn’t mean you are hopeless, it doesn’t mean you are dumb.
  • Learn from your experiences.
  • The past is over.  Look ahead.
  • Be kind to yourself, grow in compassion and empathy, and get right back on target with choosing to eat enough, choosing to resist binge urges, and choosing to keep at it.
  • Over time, urges to binge fade and lose their frustrating and distracting presence.
  • Over time, your efforts to replace the negative and untrue thoughts that led to binge eating with positive and true thoughts will pay off.
  • It gets easier.  It gets simpler.
  • Stopping binge eating is not the end all in life, and will not be your greatest joy.
  • It won’t solve all of your problems, or remove the stress in life that we all have from time to time.
  • But it will make eating easier.
  • It will relieve anxiety, and stress around food, and improve your health, your mind, and your mood.
  • And it’s worth it.
  • You are worth it.

This concluded the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

I hope it has helped shed light on how binge eating starts, how it is maintained, and how it is stopped.

Implementing these tactics has helped me tremendously, and I share them because I think they can help you, too.

I used to think I was the craziest person for binge eating.  I would diet, and binge, and diet, and binge.

It was a time in my life that I cannot undo, so I have chosen to take everything I have learned from it and turn it into something positive to share.

If you ever feel like you are stuck in the cycle of binge eating, you aren’t.

You can stop today.  You can take care of your body, and you can be glad you didn’t give up.

Never give up.

 

 

Image from Comically Vintage.

Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, Part 5

This is Part 5 of the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

You can catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 by clicking on their links.

In Part 5, we will explore approaches and practices that will help make resisting urges to binge easier.

We have already discussed that dieting (extreme under-eating) causes your brain to send signals to binge eat, that binge eating, due to its many emotional and physical consequences, is usually followed by a period of compensation (as if to undo the damage of eating so recklessly), and that resuming the original extreme diet serves to repeat the cycle of restriction, binge, and compensation.

We’ve gone over how eating more throughout the day will help lesson urges to binge, thus, reducing binge eating, and reducing periods of compensation.

And we have gone over how noticing and accepting urges to binge after you return to healthier eating habits will help to alleviate the frustration you may feel for still experiencing urges to binge.

Today I wanted to talk more about a very helpful part of accepting urges to binge:

This is to remind yourself that the feeling to binge is just a feeling.  It is only a signal that your brain is used to sending.  It doesn’t mean anything more than that.  It feels uncomfortable, and it is distracting, but it will pass, and it doesn’t deserve any more attention or effort or public announcement than it takes to notice and accept it.

Choose to not act on a meaningless thought.

Then, be glad that you did not binge!

This part of stopping binge eating is often neglected, but it is a critical part of accepting urges to binge after you are eating enough and have decided to form new habits.

It may sound strange to remind yourself of these things, but if you have been binge eating for any length of time, it’s likely you have forgotten that not all thoughts must be acted upon.

We have many thoughts throughout the day.  Most of them are habitual and serve to keep us on schedule.  We think, “I will brush my teeth” after waking up, or “I’m leaving to go to work now“, or “I will do a load of laundry today“.  These thoughts are quick and keep us on schedule, and we tend to not second guess them.  If we did, we might not get very much done in any given day.

Other thoughts require much more research and attention, and we are lucky if we have the information and freedom to make our own choices regarding them (Where to go to college?  Who to marry?  What to do with my life?).

And then there are thoughts that seem to trip us up.  They feel more like desires or urges and they can be confusing to experience.

These are the thoughts that we have, but don’t want to have, and they become greater in intensity every time they are entertained and acted upon.

For the sake of this blog post, we won’t get into all of those thoughts.

The urge to binge, however, after you have ended extreme dieting, and returned to eating enough food, is indeed, one of those thoughts so let’s keep it as our example.

You think bingeing is what you want to do, but you also know it is what you don’t want to do.

It can feel very confusing, and be a stumbling block if you don’t know how to make sense of it.

When you have the urge to binge, notice it and accept it as an old way to think that didn’t serve you well.  That’s all it is (provided it is not a sign of true physical hunger).

You do not have to give this thought any more attention than this.  It is simply an old signal the brain is still sending, but it gets weaker and weaker every time you do not respond to it.  It fades.  It goes away.  It appears less.  But it takes a bit of effort to stop giving it so much attention.

Try this just once, the next time you have the urge to binge:

Notice it, accept it as an old way to think, remind yourself you don’t binge eat anymore, and let it pass.  You do this already, with lots of thoughts.  Try it with binge eating.

And then be glad that you did not binge!

Positive reinforcement helps most people (and animals) continue on their path to better behavior.  If it feels silly to give yourself positive reinforcement, you don’t have to, but there is nothing wrong with it and you might enjoy it.

I hope this is helpful.  If you are struggling with binge eating, there is always a way out.  There is always a way to stop.  And it is always within you to stop.  You don’t have to rely on external accountability or make a big deal out of stopping.  You do not need expensive therapy, or years of self-exploration.  You don’t need to right all of the wrongs from your past, or change anyone’s behavior, or do anything that is not only about stopping the action of obeying urges to binge.  Some of these things may help to lesson the urge to binge, or may be beneficial to your intellectual and emotional growth, but they are not mandatory actions to stop binge eating.

You only have to choose to stop, accept that is will be a bit weird for awhile, remind yourself that you have stopped, and then be happy about it.

It’s a simple process and it gets easier and easier the more you do it.

And if you do choose to binge, the next time you have the urge, accept your fallibility, dust yourself off, and get right back to living your life with kindness and patience.  Fail fast, don’t look back.  Eat enough, replace old thinking with new, and try, try, again.

You are still lovable and there is still so much life to live.

Never give up.  Always press on.

Does this seem like a doable approach to end binge eating?  Is it something you think you will try the next time you have the urge to binge?

Leave a comment if you like!

 

 

Image from Rebloggy.

Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, Part 4

This is Part 4 of the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

If you haven’t already, read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

In Part 4, we will talk about experiencing binge urges after you have resumed eating enough.

We have already discussed that extreme dieting (under-eating) sends signals to your brain to binge eat, that binge eating becomes a habit, and that eating more throughout the day (ending under-eating) can dramatically lesson urges to binge, thus, lessoning binges, periods of compensation, and the likelihood of future urges.

Eating enough for your body is an adjustment period.  It takes trial and error to determine if you have had enough food if you have been in the habit of under-eating.  Often it will feel like you are overeating when you begin to eat enough.  Your body may need some time to adjust to eating enough so be very kind to yourself during this period.  Accept the transition as one that will help you stop binge eating.

This approach should help to encourage you!

The tricky part of binge urges is that while they begin as a survival mechanism your brain uses to keep you from starving, once activated, they become an automatic desire (urge) that is strengthened each time you obey it (each time you binge).

So, every binge increases the likelihood that you will binge again.

This may seem like unfortunate news, but it doesn’t have to be!

Instead, this news can serve you well.  Here is how:

When you feel the urge to binge you have two choices.  Obey it or dismiss it.  Since you already know that you do not want to obey it, you have to choose to dismiss it.

Part 3 of this series advocates eating more food throughout the day to lesson binge urges.  Feeling full and satisfied by your meals definitely reduces the urge to binge, but because of the many emotional layers that are intertwined with the physical action of binge eating, you might find yourself still experiencing urges to binge after you resume a healthy diet.

There are a few things you can do to dismiss the urge to binge that do not take much time and do not require a big fuss:

Ask yourself if you are physically hungry.  Physical hunger is located below the neck.  It’s a sensation in your stomach.  It’s a natural and non-threatening feeling that serves to keep you nourished and energetic throughout the day.

If your answer is that you are physically hungry–eat!

This is a simple solution that does not need alot of time, therapy, or work.  It only requires some food (or patience for you to get some food.  You may have to hold out until eating food is an option).

If you are not physically hungry, simply notice the urge to eat more (to binge eat).

When you notice the urge to binge, you are aware that your brain is sending signals to binge even though you are not physically hungry.

This can feel frustrating so the next thing to do is to accept the urge to binge.

Accept it?  But that sounds like giving up!  Like surrender!

It isn’t.  Not even close.  Accepting an urge is the kindest thing you can do for yourself in this situation.  Notice it.  Feel it (as uncomfortable as it is).  Accept it.  It is not you.  It is a signal your brain has been habituated to send.  Accept it.

How can you accept it?

Many ways.  You can silently (or even aloud) tell yourself that even though you feel the urge to binge eat right now, you are choosing to focus on whatever other task is in front of you in this moment.

You can breath deeply and imagine the urge being lessoned and becoming further and further away with every exhale.

You can remind yourself that your are being strengthened to stop binge eating in this very moment that you choose to not binge eat.  This is a rational and positive approach, but not necessary to stop binge eating.

None of these approaches require anything outside of yourself.  You do not need any special tools.  You do not need to go anywhere, or call anyone, or make any public announcements about your urge.

Just choose to not binge, accept the temporary discomfort of not giving into a meaningless urge, and if you wish, remind yourself that you are getting better at stopping the binge eating habit.

Then witness what happens next:

It passes.

It goes away.  It loses it’s distracting presence.  It fades.  It isn’t something you want anymore.

This approach has been incredibly helpful for me.  After I resumed eating enough for my body, my binge urges lessoned dramatically, but I would still experience them from time to time. Sometimes it was because I really needed to eat more food, but sometimes it was totally random.  In those moments, I had to choose how to move forward.

Modern therapy might encourage you to have a list of things to do for when an urge presents itself.  You might be told to journal, or call a friend, or take a walk, or paint your nails, or go for a drive.  These are all pleasant ideas, but not always an option if you have responsibilities other than breaking your habit to binge.

It is not always an option to go for a walk.  What if you are at work?  You cannot always call a friend.  What if they are out of the country?  And the worse (in my opinion) is painting your nails. Who wants to paint their nails when they are feeling an urge to binge?  I could never get behind that idea.

In my experience, I found that I didn’t even want to do any of those things when I had the urge to binge.  All I wanted to do was binge.  Going for a walk or getting involved in anything else besides eating was not my concern at all.

After I chose to stop binge eating, I wanted an approach to use anytime and anywhere, and I didn’t want to make it such a big deal that I was resisting an urge.  I didn’t want to pay any more attention to it than it was worth.

Accepting my binge urges helped me do this and I think it is worth trying if you find yourself experiencing urges to binge after you are eating enough.

It may feel funny at first, but all new things do.

It is worth trying because it might change your life for the better.

Next we will explore ways that make it easier to accept binge urges.

So, what do you think about choosing to accept the urge to binge?  Have you tried this already Did your urge lesson?  If it persisted, was it because you really needed to eat more food?  What finally led your urge to pass?

Please share your experiences by leaving a comment!

 

 

Image from Tumblr.

Weekend Approach

It’s the weekend!

I live in Los Angeles and there is always so much to do, on any day, but especially weekends.

Movies in the park, museums, beaches, coffee shops, restaurants, concerts, conventions, flea markets–too much to even mention it all!

L.A. is fun and full of a lazy, sunny energy that I’ve grown quite accustomed to.  It’s not unusual to spend a Saturday “hiking”, as we call it, through Griffith Park, or riding bikes down 4th Street at sunset.

Sometimes weekends are spent picking through vintage treasures at the Pasadena Flea Market (although I personally find the best deals at Goodwill and Craigslist), or watching a Marilyn Monroe film at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (it’s not spooky, I promise!).

Weekends are fun.  Sometimes they involve tasks that aren’t all that exciting, but in general they are days to relax, be outside, be with friends and family, and to create memories.

When I was caught up in the obsession of dieting and bingeing, my approach to the weekends wasn’t nearly as romantic (or boring, if you are the type of person who skydives or trains lions).

I didn’t dislike weekends, but I did find myself more focused on how I would maintain perfectly healthy eating or how I would maintain and hide my binge eating.  When I was dieting, I was constantly threatened by events and people that might prevent me from eating, what I deemed, healthy foods.  When I was bingeing, I wasn’t focused on much of anything besides eating as many “off-limit” foods as possible, and then recovering from feeling sick, tired, moody, and depressed.

It was difficult, nearly impossible, to approach life with curiosity, compassion, and creativity in those days.

I look back on all the time I spent being obsessed with food, either not eating it or eating too much of it, and it makes me sad that I habitually chose to place so much emphasis on what I was eating as a means to provide my happiness.  It was narrow-mided and I often felt anxious, worried, and lonely for it.

I don’t think it’s wrong to spend time ensuring you can eat healthy during the weekends.  I think it should definitely be a part of how you plan meals and outings.  Eating healthy makes you feel your best, and gives you energy, and can contribute to a sane and creative mind.  Eating healthy makes things like taking a long hike (or, rather, a rocky walk) or a bike ride much more pleasurable than if you did not eat healthy.  It makes life easier and better.

But the obsession with eating, whether it is rooted in perfectionism, hedonism, or gluttony, can negatively effect your life.  It can take over it.

Of course, we all have the right to choose how we want to approach this.  You might resonate with my experiences and also seek to make your life about more than food, or you might resonate and disagree.

A challenge I have for myself is to approach the weekends (all days, for that matter) with an attitude that is ready to relax, ready to connect with people, ready to find beauty and inspiration in what I see and do, and ready to express love and creativity, and compassion to others and to myself.

It’s hard to get so wrapped up in perfect eating and self-sabotaging bingeing with these goals in mind.

It’s much easier to enjoy life, and much easier to enjoy the journey of healthy eating this way.

But this takes practice and time if you’re not used to it, so if you choose to makes these goals a part of your own life, show yourself patience and kindness when you seem to revert to old ways.    Keep at it.  Keep eating the kindest way you know how, keep choosing acceptance and love for yourself and others, and keep participating in the world around you.

Let me know–how do you approach the weekends?  Has your diet or the way you eat ever prevented you from relaxing and creating positive memories, either by yourself or with other people?

Special Note – If you are currently eating in extreme ways, such as strict dieting or binge eating, and it is something you wish you would stop but feel you can’t, email me!  Let’s chat more about it because I KNOW there is always a way out of these destructive habits.  myrightmindblog@gmail.com

 

Image from DustJacket.

 

PRACTICE: Absolutistic Thinking

Be wary of absolutistic thinking.

Absolutistic thinking is when you are convinced there is only one way to accomplish a goal, one way to believe and think about something, and ultimately, one way to live.  It is common and easy to cultivate if you are not careful.

Absolutistic thinking relies on words such as must, should, always, never or have to.

As it relates to eating and body image:

I must eat perfectly today.  I should never have dessert.  I have to lose weight before this event.  

You can spot this type of thinking not only with the preface words (must, should, always, etc.), but also by the irrational thoughts that follow them:

I must eat perfectly today so I can finally get some control in my life.  I should never have dessert because any taste of sugar will completely ruin me.  I have to lose weight before this event or I will never be able to enjoy it.

None of the reasons for the statements above are rooted in absolutely truth.  You may have told yourself them, and they might be what you currently believe, but they are narrow and demanding, and they likely promote stress because they are rooted in fear and negativity.  They keep your life very small and very fragile.

It would be dogmatic to say absolutistic thinking is always harmful.  It can be very helpful in the right context, but often, within the context of eating, it is overgeneralizing and removes personal responsibility from your own inner anxieties and exterior occurrences.

The next time you hear yourself thinking absolutistically about eating, try replacing the statements with truth.

In reference to our examples above:

I would prefer to eat specific foods today because I believe they will help me feel more in control.  I realize this is only a feeling.  Food is not magical and does not grant me supernatural self-control, and if I eat foods that I do not prefer, I will not “lose control”, whatever that means.  The foods I eat affect my health, but do not contribute to the order or chaos of the world.

Sugar is not always healthy for me, but it does not “ruin” me.  I am an adult.  I am always in control of my thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  If I do choose to eat sugar, I will also choose to live responsibly afterward.

If I am honest, I would prefer to lose weight before this event, but if I don’t, I can still have an enjoyable time.  My weight does not determine how happy I am or how pleasant events may be.  It actually has nothing to do with the event and I’m better off resuming sustainable weight loss and enjoying the people I see and the things we do.  Other people can think anything they want about my body without it affecting how I think about it.

What do you think about replacing absolutisitc thoughts with truth?  Is this something you already do?  Do you find it helpful?

Leave a comment to share your opinion!

 

Image from Polyvore.

PRACTICE: Believe You Will Succeed

How do you feel about success?

Do you feel like it is something you have achieved?  Maybe you feel it is something you aspire to achieve, and you are working toward it, but you’re not there yet.  Or perhaps it is something that you have tried to achieve, but haven’t, and you are not sure that you ever will.

Maybe you are afraid of it?

I live in Los Angeles and I am around many people who are in the entertainment industry.  They are actors and musicians and writers and directors.  They do hair and make-up, costumes and set-design.

They moved here from all over the world to pursue their dreams, to do what they feel called to do.

I often find myself curious about this group of people.  The artists.  The creatives.  The people who are convinced and determined to passionately pursue something on such a grand level.

I find most of them incredibly inspiring.  They are bold and fearless to show up to auditions.  They are vulnerable to share their work with the world.  They are resilient and unapologetic to press on when it doesn’t seem they will “make it”.

I wonder what gives them the confidence and bravery to be here, and to constantly put themselves out into the world despite any of their fears or hesitations.  Despite the rejection, the criticism, the disapproval or doubt they may encounter, maybe even on a daily basis.

What separates them from the people that do not follow their dreams?  That do not show up to share their passions, talents and strengths?  That don’t even consider themselves able to fantasize about their goals?

I have to suspect the separation is found within how people believe and think about what they are capable of achieving.

If you believe you can do something, you will find a way to do it.  It might take your whole life, and it might look different than how others are doing it, but it is OK because life is better when you do something that you believe has meaning and value and that demands your dedication.

If you believe you have purpose, you will show up despite rejection.  You will press on no matter what others think or say.

If you believe you don’t have to be perfect as you pursue your passion, that you have the freedom to mess up, to change your mind, or to completely move in a new direction at any point, doing something special to you will not be so risky.  It will be exciting and it will reward you in ways you never imagined.  Bumps in the road, though inevitable, will not define you, and what others only perceive as failure or steps backward will not devastate you, but serve as moments to refine your goals and position yourself to go and get them.

Anyone will have a more fulfilling experience in life when they decide to replace beliefs that keep them from stepping out to do what they love and find meaningful with beliefs that cultivate confidence and bravery and determination to always press on.

This applies to everyone and to every goal.

However you feel about success, it is important to remember that your feelings are rooted in your beliefs and that you can decide to believe that you will succeed.

It doesn’t matter what happened in your past.

It doesn’t matter that anyone else does it differently.

It doesn’t matter if you decide you want something new tomorrow.

But it does matter that you believe you can do it.  And it does matter that you do it.

The next time you feel like you cannot succeed in an area of your life, practice changing your beliefs.  One by one, replace the negative and untrue statements you tell yourself with truth–that you are capable of success (on your own terms) and it is always worth pursuing.

This is not wishful thinking and is not a waste of time.

This is your life and you only have one.

Don’t let your past or other people or fear keep you from what you already know you can do.

Decide to do it.  Decide to believe.  Decide to succeed.

 

Image from The Zoe Report.

Weekend Eating

It’s the weekend!

For anyone who is caught up in the habit of keeping a strict diet during the week, and then “blowing it” over the weekend only to start again on Monday, weekends tend to be highly anticipated and then highly regretted (at least in the food department).

This is common but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to live.

Here are a few thoughts that may be contributing to this approach followed by statements that contribute to more rational and positive mindsets:

THOUGHT: “I’ve been good all week!  I’m having anything I want and as much as I want today!”

STATEMENT: So, I think I’ve been good this week?  Why is that?  Is it because I ate specific foods and limited my portions?  Do I really believe that makes me “good”?  Would not eating how I ate this week make me “bad”?  While it’s true that there are foods that are better or worse for my body, they never contribute to me being a good or bad person, only to the quality of my health.  Keeping that in mind, it doesn’t seem rational to make poor choices this weekend because I made good choices the rest of the week.  I think I will notice how hungry I am and see what foods are available and base my decisions on those things, instead.

THOUGHT: “It’s been a tough week, I deserve to let loose and eat without restraint!”

STATEMENT: Yes, it has been a tough week.  Things happened that I didn’t prefer and I hope life is not so difficult moving forward, but I am not a wild animal and do not need to “eat without restraint” to calm down.  If I choose to eat recklessly or too much, it might be a distraction for a little while, but it is not an act that I deserve for surviving a difficult week because I don’t use food as a reward or punishment.  Eating wildly would simply be a choice to eat like an animal.  I would rather not behave like an animal around food.

THOUGHT: “It’s so hard to eat healthy during the weekends!  There is so much delicious food around and other people eat it, so why cannot I?”

STATEMENT: It is not hard to eat healthy over the weekends.  It’s hard to dig trenches or to run marathons but choosing to eat in a way that nourishes and respects my body is not hard.  In fact, it gets easier and easier the more I do it.  Yes, there seems to be more access to palatable foods during the weekend, but it is always my choice to eat them or not and I always have that choice.  Since I choose foods that support my health during the week, I am capable of choosing them during the weekend.  What anyone else eats is none of my concern.

This weekend, remember that you are not defined by the foods you eat.  They do not make you a better or worse human being.  Sure, foods impact your energy, mood, attractiveness and body size, but they do not remove your responsibility to think (rationally) for yourself.

You always have the choice to eat enough and to eat nourishing foods.  Likewise, you always have the choice to eat foods that do not positively contribute to your health without them miraculously making you a worse person in need of punishment come Monday.

So, be kind to yourself!

Enjoy the weekend, enjoy eating and enjoy your life!

How do you think about the weekends and food?  Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

 

Image from Remarkably Retro.