Each year I teach workshops focused on weight loss, so I thought I would share some thoughts about the What, Why and also the How on this subject.
Okay, so you are not feeling ideal about your weight. What I have found in working with hundreds of people and learning a great deal about habits/addictions is that weight and the habit of over eating is not much different from any other habits. One way that this addiction is different is that weight is worn on the outside, while other addictions are much easier to hide. Also, food is something that we need in order to live, unlike the many other things we could become addicted to. These facts increase the difficulty of changing the eating habit for us.
I have noticed that many folks I have worked with who have this habit tend to be sensitive individuals and also may be people pleasers and perfectionists to boot. There is usually an inner feeling that we must be doing something- to be productive- and in the absence of doing something else, we eat. Eating can be a way to calm the need to “do” on an unconscious level.
Often early in our life we found comfort in numbing our feelings with food. We could have chosen alcohol or drugs, but being “good” girls or boys we went for the most acceptable habit. We numbed in this way because it caused our brain to release “feel good” hormones and for a while our brains calmed, giving us some relief from those uncomfortable feelings.
Why do we choose a harmful behavior in the first place?
We can answer this question by asking what we are trying to protect ourselves from feeling. We are trying to calm anxiety when we over eat, and anxiety is an accumulation of stored emotions in our body.
How do we get out of this habit?
We begin by feeling the emotions that are present as they come up. We don’t have to live in these emotions constantly, but start out small and just allow emotions to be felt. In other words we need to stop running in fear from emotions. When we do allow them to be what they are, a little at a time, we realize that we can manage feeling them after all. We find that it is not as scary as we feared. Emotions move through us in about two minutes and are a natural part of our physiology.
**If you are someone who has a history of trauma, be sure to get the help of a mental health professional who works with trauma to process emotions.
How do we start to change today?
We can begin with the smallest acknowledgement of self-compassion and self-love. We need to be on our own side and to treat ourselves as well as (or better than) we treat other people. We may need to change the self-talk in our minds. If we can talk to ourselves with respect and love we are tapping into something powerful and perhaps the root of the problem in the first place.
When we begin to talk kindly to ourselves we are calming our nervous system. This is most important. By calming our nervous system, we are turning off the impulse to literally feed our habit. Lasting changes happen at the level of the nervous system. It is all about a sense of safety for the human animal that we are. We need assurance that we are safe in order to live to our potential with joy and in a state of well-being and this leads to dropping the need to eat in order to cope emotionally.
If you would like to learn more please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or come to one of my classes at RRMC coming up in the spring. Habits are created, so habits can also be dissolved.