When your pants are tight and you think, "I need to lose weight" ...how does it make you feel?
And why does that matter?
Imagine this scenario... you’re minding your own business, standing there in your bedroom getting dressed.
As you’re pulling up your favorite pair of pants, you notice they feel tighter than they felt the last time you wore them.
The voice in your head that insists on obsessively narrating every waking second of your life, says… “uh oh, these weren’t this tight before.”
And what happens?
Instantly you’re flooded with fear.
Shame follows the fear.
Shame and fear of course because we live in an insane culture that demonizes weight gain and then judges, blames and ridicules people for it.
So, you’re blaming yourself for being “bad” and gaining weight and you’re scared of being judged, blamed and ridiculed for it.
Dread follows the fear and shame. Dread of course because the next thoughts that immediately follows noticing pants feeling tighter are “Oh no, I gained weight” and…
“I have to fix this. I have to get back on track.”
And you know what that means… trying to force yourself to control and micro-manage every morsel of food that goes in your mouth and punish yourself with exercise that you do NOT want to do.
But you’re not even really aware of any of that, you just know that noticing the pants feeling tighter makes you feel bad and have determined (based on conditioning from really broken society and our ridiculously profitable diet, health and wellness cultures) that making your body smaller is the solution.
Those thoughts and feelings cause you to make a plan of action.
“I’m going to be good today.”
Being good of course meaning you promise yourself you’re not going to eat any of the “bad” things… maybe it even means skipping breakfast or lunch entirely.
But you’re consumed by thoughts of all the foods you can’t eat anymore and someone at work brought in your favorite donuts.
A war of voices breaks out in your head negotiations over whether or not to eat the donuts. The voices rage all day while the donuts call to you allll day long.
Somehow you end up managing to resist. You feel so good about yourself because the voice in your head tells you that you were so strong and did such a good job.
But then you get home and you’re starving.
You’re exhausted from fighting with yourself over the donut all day.
The kids want pizza.
You reeeeally don’t want to cook.
Because you’re so hungry (and exhausted from trying to not eat the donuts all day) the voice starts negotiating over the pizza.
“Well you were so good today, you barely ate anything. You deserve pizza. Besides, you can just eat one piece. One piece won’t hurt.”
Another voice pops up: “but you know you can never stop at just one piece. You’ll end up eating half the pizza.”
By now the incessant thoughts about food have you beyond exhausted and you cave and just get the pizza because you can't think about it anymore.
While you’re on your way to get it, you stop at the grocery store to pick up a few other things and end up in the bakery aisle.
The voice again, “you’re already being bad and having pizza, you may as well get the cookies. You can just start again tomorrow”.
You end up grabbing a half a dozen other foods you can’t have when you “start again tomorrow”, the rest of the night turns into a binge and you go to bed feeling sick to your stomach and like a failure.
I have seen this play out a million times in women everywhere -- hell, I lived it for yearssss.
We hang on to that “I need to lose weight” thought soooo desperately because we’re terrified if we ever let it go we’ll never “fix the problem” but the whole time we hold on to it, we never notice that it’s actually a huge part of the problem.
Because our thoughts (and beliefs) create emotions and our emotions drive our choices, our behaviors.
Think about that entire scenario I just laid out. Where did it start?
It started in the morning when the pants were tight and the thoughts and feelings that followed noticing the pants were tight. Those thoughts and feelings drove the choices that ended up being made the rest of the day… those thoughts and feelings, that started in the morning, started a series of events that ultimately led to the overeating in the evening and going to bed feeling like a failure.
But what if...
What if there was another way to manage that exact same situation? Let’s try it again but this time with a few changes.
You’re pulling up your pants again and notice them feeling tighter than they did.
The thought pops in, “uh oh, these weren’t this tight before”.
This time though, instead of letting the thought run away with the whole rest of your day and determining your feelings and actions you paused and just notice the thought appear.
You notice the next thought appear, “I need to lose weight” and you notice the associated feelings beginning to flood your body.
You bring your attention down into your body and start scanning it for what you’re feeling.
You're deeply connected with it so you immediately notice exactly where the feelings of fear, shame and dread that came with the thoughts are showing up in your body and the sensations they're causing.
You allow them to be there, non-judgmentally but with curiosity and loads of compassion.
“Oh, there’s that fear and shame again causing these feelings of tightness in my chest, my belly and my throat. But it’s okay …it’s okay to feel this way. Everyone feels this way sometimes… it will pass and until it does, I’ll choose to be extra kind to myself.”
You get curious about where they’re coming from.
You get curious about whether or not they’re helpful.
You ask yourself, "Do I want to feel the way these thoughts and feelings are making me feel?"
And are the choices I usually make when I feel this way helping or harming?
Here it helps to replay how it typically plays out when you make weight loss promises… like the scenario I described above.
Get conscious and rational about it and respond from there with intention. Intentional self-compassion, kindness, and love.
Use that voice in your head to direct the conversation… Ask yourself… “Ok cool… how’s it going to play out today if I do decide to “be good with food” and start another weight loss attempt? What happened yesterday when I did that? Do I want to repeat that exact same cycle again today? Not really. I’d rather be kind to myself today.”
Then simply ask… "how do I want to feel today? And what can I do to help myself feel that way? What’s the kindest choice I can make for myself and my body today?”
If you notice hearing, “don’t eat the bad things” in response to that last question… again, play that out.
Is that REALLY the kindest choice?
What happens when I try to force myself not to “eat the bad things”? Do I really make choices from kindness or love when I’m trying to force myself to eat the things that I think I “should” be eating and not eat the things I think I "shouldn't" be eating?
What would be a kinder way to treat myself and my body today?
Well, I could stay present, continue to notice how I feel and what I need, and choose to give myself what I need to feel my best today.
That’s being present, connected, curious, and intentional.
If we play out that scenario through the entire day in the way we did the first scenario, we see a very different outcome.
Instead of skipping breakfast and lunch, you maintain that presence, connection, curiosity and intentional kindness and rather than "what should I eat?", you consider, "what do I want to eat? How is eating that thing going to make me feel? Do I want to feel that way?".
Because you're deeply connected to your body and how the foods you're eating make it feel, you want to eat things that help it feel its best.
You finish breakfast and lunch, satisfied, satiated, and feeling good.
When the donuts show up at work, rather than fighting with yourself all day over trying to not eat them, you consider if you genuinely want one or not. Because you're satiated from breakfast and lunch, and you don't want to eat anything that might make you feel like crap, you decide you really don't want a donut.
Because you're maintaining that presence, connection, curiosity, and intention most of the day, you're on top of your moment-to-moment needs and end up getting home with more energy.
When the kids bug you for pizza, you consider how pizza will make you feel. You decide you'd enjoy a couple of pieces of pizza and adding a large salad will help fill you up enough that you don't need more than a piece or two of pizza and will help make sure you feel good after supper.
You finish supper, again, feeling full, satiated, and with no desire to snack the whole rest of the evening.
You go to bed feeling at peace.
This is eating and living from presence, connection, curiosity and intention.
This is eating from love rather than fear.
In my view, it's a significantly healthier and more effective way to approach healthy eating and living than the obsession with weight loss and micro-managing every morsel of food you consume.
Because our thoughts drive our emotions and our emotions drive our behaviors. Our inner world creates our outer world.
If we want lasting change, we need to change our inner world.
This is what I teach with Cognitive Eating.
EMBODIED COGNITIVE EATING TRAINING CAN HELP YOU
The Academy is a specialized group coaching course. It combines a wide range of scientifically proven, evidence based modalities into an easy-to-follow step-by-step process that helps you understand why you can't stop eating in ways that don't serve your best interests and how to stop. It has been meticulously crafted and tested for almost three years with one goal in mind - helping you move past all the things that are keeping you stuck repeating the same self-destructive patterns so you can find peace and start living and feeling better.