Obsession Versus Neglect: How to Find the Right Self-Care Balance

A sweet woman once approached me after a seminar to ask, “How can we know when we have found the right balance between obsession and neglect of our bodies?”

 

She found herself wanting to make changes to her health and although she was doing well, she was so obsessed with making sure she got her time in at the gym that she was really struggling with everything else.

 

She was seeing results, but for some reason, she still wasn’t very happy. She was checking off her workouts, but she teared up as she mentioned other areas of her life she felt were being neglected. She was doing everything she thought she should be doing but still felt out of balance.

 

How do we know when we’re doing “enough”? How do we know when we’re not doing “enough”? Where is the balance between obsession with our health and complete neglect?

 

This really is an incredible question. I’m guessing you’ve found yourself on one side or the other at certain times in your life.

 

How do you know where your balance is? How do you find it?

 

Might I suggest that balance is not a destination, it’s a journey.

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Finding balance is about making changes each day that align with your values, your desires. It about different priorities in different seasons of life.

 

I’ve put together the following 5 questions that will help you understand your goals, your priorities, and help you find your own unique balance.

 

Because, what works well for one person, is not the same for another person.

 

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

 

What do you want for your health right now? Instead of focusing on a weight loss number or dress size, go deeper. What do you really want? What does “healthy” mean for you? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

 

Paint your picture of your ideal health.


 

WHAT IS REALISTIC?

 

Now, take a look at your picture of your ideal health. Is it a realistic goal? What kinds of changes would you have to make in your life right now to take steps toward that goal? Are those changes realistic for you? Do you have the tools you need to be successful? What barriers might get in your way and how will you overcome them?

 

Take a minute to ask yourself what is most realistic for you to achieve.


 

WHAT SEASON OF LIFE ARE YOU IN RIGHT NOW?

 

Different seasons of life bring about different self care opportunities. If you’re not sleeping through the night because of younger children, maybe a high intensity morning gym routine is not ideal as you’re already feeling like you’re not getting the proper rest and recovery.

 

Is time to yourself very limited? How can you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to fitness and nutrition? You used to be able to crush an hour gym session, but right now, what could work for you at this stage instead?

 

Maybe you do have a little extra time to yourself! Are you spending that extra time getting more movement in? Do you have a little more time to prepare meals during the day while your kids are at school?

 

Think about the season of life you’re in right now and make adjustments as needed. Every season brings about different opportunities and different challenges. It’s not about blaming your circumstances, but rather finding opportunity in each one.


 

WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?

 

What is most important to you right now? What things make you feel most fulfilled during the day? Make a list of some of your top priorities. Make sure your actions and your focus is on those top things.

 

Remember, priorities change. That’s ok. What things do you want to make sure you’re taking care of and paying attention to right now in this season of life? How can you incorporate your own self care into those priorities?


 

WHAT ARE YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES?

 

Lastly, what is on your must-do list? Choose 2-3 things that nothing gets in the way of you accomplishing. These are your non-negotiables.

 

Protect these non-negotiables with your life. Schedule them, block out time, whatever you need to do to accomplish them.

 

These items should leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. They are not another item to check off the list, but instead essential to feeling fulfilled and balanced.

 

Finding balance is tough. As mothers, it’s always a work in progress. Seasons in life change and so do our priorities, our goals, and our schedules.

 

Do the best you can with the stage of life you’re in right now. Make changes that are important to you. Accept the things you can’t change.

 

And most of all, practice gratitude for the amazing body you have no matter where you are right now. Find ways to treat yourself with respect and take care of yourself by giving it movement and nutrition that feel good to you.


 

 
 

Want to love your body? Try this simple technique

You’re here because you want a better body image.

 

I’m so happy to have you here! Loving on that body that is uniquely yours is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

 

I truly believe (and have seen mighty changes in my clients) that learning to love yourself is the first step in any good health and wellness journey.

 

It’s the step toward achieving everything you want. It’s the first step in being truly happy and content with the journey and not just looking at the endpoint.

 

But, for whatever reason, your body image has declined over the years. Maybe you feel like you’re sporting the “mom bod” after having children. Maybe you’re busy with work and taking care of a family that you haven’t had a lot of time to give to yourself. Or, maybe you have always really struggled with loving yourself fully and completely.

 

Whatever it looks like for you, today’s post is all about loving that body right now. Not in the future at a certain weight or dress size. Not tomorrow. Right now.

 

In fact, I’m guessing that your image of your body doesn’t really affect your day to day life that much. You are still able to accomplish most of what you need to get done without being affected by how your body looks. You usually just avoid being in front of a mirror for too long and always want to be in the back when someone’s taking a photo.

 

You may not think your body image interferes with daily life, but it does.

 

It affects the way you talk about yourself. It affects the way you act daily.

 

What does your self talk look like when talking about your body?

 

Do you only see flaws?

 

Do you only see things you want to change?

 

Do you carry that self-talk over into how you feel about yourself as a whole? Maybe you see a body you’re frustrated with in the mirror and quickly judge yourself as lazy or unable to accomplish any goals you set out to achieve?

 

Having a positive body image and engaging in regular positive self-talk can bring profound changes in your life. In fact, our practice today will be a popular gratitude practice that will help you get started on the right path toward loving your body and taking care of it in the way that is best for you because a positive body image also brings a desire for more self-care.

 

But first, if you’ve ever tried using positive affirmations, you know how powerful they can be in your life. So, I’ve created an entire easy to follow workbook that will help you create your very own self love affirmation. It’s a great start to your journey toward a better body image and something my clients have seen great success with. And if you don’t want to create your own, I also have an entire page of pre-made affirmations to help you on this journey.

 
 

Repeat your affirmation daily in conjunction with the following gratitude practice I will guide you through today.

 

The first step in building a better body image is to practice gratitude. In fact, if you’ve read other blog posts of mine, it’s the foundation for every solid health and wellness journey you find yourself on. Skipping this foundational piece can make you feel like you are missing an integral part of the journey.

 

This practice can be used anytime you need a simple reminder of how wonderful and amazing your body truly is and how much you can love it no matter where you’re at in each stage of life or each stage of your goals.

 

Now, I want you to spend time actually going through this with me today. This is not a blog post to just read and close out. Today you will start a gratitude practice.

 

Get comfortable in your chair, eliminate distractions, and join me for the next 5 minutes.

 

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A GRATITUDE PRACTICE FOR MORE SELF LOVE

BODY SCAN

First, take a minute to scan your entire body (you may close your eyes). What are you feeling? What emotions do you feel? Do you have pain anywhere? Tension? Do you feel uncomfortable in any place? What words and phrases come to mind as you think about your body as a whole?
 

TORSO SCAN

Move up the body to your torso. Your stomach and chest area. Again, what thoughts initially come up? Are they negative or positive? Look down at your torso. Start thanking it (you can do this in your head or out loud) for everything it’s been for you. Do you have things you don’t like about your torso? Change those negative thoughts into positive ones. What physical traits do you love about your torso? Remember, your torso houses your heart. Use your heart to be thankful for this area of your body. Vow to always speak kindly to this area of your body. 

ARM SCAN

Moving outward toward your upper limbs, what emotions come up for your arms? Have you always hated your arms? Do you wish they were stronger? Throw out those self-defeating thoughts and start to reframe your thoughts into all that those arms have done and been for you. What do they accomplish on a daily basis? Where have those hands been? What stories can they tell? Think hard about all of the things your arms have done for you and still do for you every day. Thank them tremendously and vow to always speak kindly to them moving forward. 

HEAD SCAN

Scan your head. Scan your face, your skin, your eyes, ears, nose, etc. What words come up? Do you find yourself wishing your features were different? Go through each feature of your face and say one thing you love about it. Think about all the things those eyes have seen. All the beautiful smells that nose has smelled. Think about your mouth and everything you are able to communicate. Think about your brain and the amazing way it gets you through every single day. Think about the memories you hold dear in that brain. Thank your head for all that it is for you. Thank it for the features that allow you to live a full life. Vow to always speak kindly to each area of your face and head. 

BODY SCAN

Scan your entire body one more time. Now what emotions are coming up? Can you find a smile on your face? Can you see a more beautiful body inside and out? Are you more thankful? What emotions came up for you? What blocks or negative thoughts are still hard to overcome? 

As you continue to work on your body image, go back and perform this gratitude practice as often as you need. Eventually, you will feel more confident in your physical attributes. You will start to love even the physical parts of your body.

I hope this was helpful. I hope you’ll use it often. 

Thank you for joining me in this gratitude practice. Share with any dear friends that need this message. 

And don’t forget your affirmation workbook. It’s another incredible tool that will help you bring more positive self talk into your life. More positive self talk = a happier lifestyle.
 

"There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection.” ― Steve Maraboli


 

 
 

Can I Love My Body Now and Still Want Weight Loss?

I remember it so vividly. I was speaking to a large room of beautiful women and mothers about body love and self-confidence.

 

I had just finished telling them that they could love every inch of that beautiful body of theirs. That they could accept and even love the flaws. That they were worth so much more than they often gave themselves credit for. I felt inspired and I truly hoped they did too.

 

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After the session, a woman ran up to the front and asked me a question that plagues so many of us when it comes to learning to love our bodies AND take care of them at the same time.

Her question was this:

“How do I know when to accept my body as it is and when I need to work for change? I don't know how to determine where that line is and that is my struggle.”

You’ve seen it all over in blog posts, in news articles, conferences, books, and anywhere you consume information.

 

Love your body! they preach.

 

And you want to. You truly want to.

 

But…

Truthfully, you’re not really happy with the place your body is at. You’re frustrated by it. You’re frustrated you’ve “let yourself go” over the years. You’re frustrated that you’re way too exhausted to hit the gym in the mornings. You’re frustrated that taking better care of yourself feels guilty because it takes what little time you have away from your family. You feel selfish for even thinking about self-care, even though you know it’s not selfish.

It’s not like your current body really holds you back much. I mean, you’re able to still do all the things you need to get done in a day. Granted, you’re exhausted, but that’s the life of a mother! You have a good family, a roof over your head, a job that provides for you. You’re doing pretty well. You decide to ignore accept this “mom body” you’ve acquired over the years, vow to avoid mirrors or pictures, and carry on with life. Still unhappy with your body, but not enough for it to interfere that much with daily life.

If you can avoid any sort of confrontation with your body, keep that swimsuit packed as far away from sunlight as possible, and carry on with life, you’ll be just fine. It’s the life of a mother. It’s what you signed up for, right?

 

WRONG.

 

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

 

 
 

Why can’t you love that “mom body” you’ve so faithfully earned over the years?

The truth is, there is nothing wrong with learning to love and accept your body right now AND still seek change. It doesn’t mean you have a bad body image. It means you love yourself enough to want to take better care of it. It means you speak kindly of your body, embrace imperfection, and love the journey.

 

What is the balance between body acceptance and seeking body change?


 

First, practice gratitude.

 

Have you ever thanked your body for all it’s done for you? I mean really stepped in front of a mirror and turned every negative thought, every flaw into gratitude?

I go into major depth about using gratitude to change our body image in this post, but it truly is the first step in any journey toward more self-love.

If the thought of standing in front of a mirror and saying nice things about yourself is too much right now, grab a piece of paper and write a letter of gratitude to your body. Spend 5-10 minutes writing your letter. Come back to it every time you find that negative body talk creeping back into your life.

 

Letter of Gratitude


Second, be realistic.

 

Sometimes I think we want the body we had in high school with all the maturity and wisdom of a 30-year-old woman.

Or, maybe you want to get your body back to wherever it was when you were in your “best shape ever”. Having goals is fantastic. Working hard to reach them is fabulous. Chasing an unrealistic ideal is not. It will only leave us feeling deflated, defeated, and frustrated.

There is a fine line between setting good, challenging goals and being completely unrealistic.

Ask yourself what is realistic for you. In fact, ask yourself “why”. Why do you seek change? Will taking better care of your body give you more confidence? Do you want to be a good example for your kids? Do you want to feel like you’re doing everything you can to live the fullest life possible?

 

Instead of a number on a scale, how do you want to feel? How do you want to feel in your own skin? That’s the change you’re working toward.

 

Having a goal that means something to you is so much more than a dress size. It’s not stressing about the time frame or the end result. It’s taking care of yourself in a way that fits your lifestyle right now. It’s knowing that you’re doing everything you can with your time and resources to take care of that special gift that is your body.

 
 

Third, change one thing at a time.

 

When we want change, we usually want it all at once. I hope this blog post today has helped you understand how important it is to love yourself first no matter what kind of change you desire.

 

Once you have a self-love practice, the “taking care of you” part comes much more naturally.

 

Start making daily choices that nourish your body in a way that will get you one step closer to your desired change.

 

Love your body enough to give it lots of fruits and vegetables. Love your body enough to go to bed early so you can fit in a quick 20 minute exercise routine in the morning. Love your body enough to buy clothes that you feel comfortable in now. Love your body enough to learn how to do some strength training (because if there’s anything that will make your body feel physically strong, it’s that). Love your body enough to manage stress in ways other than turning to junk food.

 

Only you will be able to find the balance between self-love and seeking change, but, when you get there, you’ll know it.

 

You’ll start to feel confident. You’ll take care of yourself in different ways than ever before. You’ll throw out the guilt for taking care of yourself because you realize it’s what makes you better in everything you do.

 

If you’ve ever used affirmations or are curious about how to bring more self-love into your life, I’ve made you an entire workbook to help you create your own self-love affirmation to guide you in this journey. There are even some pre-made affirmations if the thought of writing your own feels overwhelming. It’s a great place to start replacing the negative self and body talk into positive and uplifting words and phrases.

 

And if you have a friend or family member whom you love and want to share this with, please share this message. We need a world filled with more confident women who love themselves in every way.


 

 
 

 

 

Mindful Eating During the Holidays - Tips from Top Health and Wellness Experts

Mindful eating during the holidays. How to avoid the guilt that often comes with holiday eating and have a plan that leaves you feeling happy, guilt free, and able to enjoy the holidays. Tips for success from top health and wellness experts, and fellow moms! 

The holidays can be a tricky time when it comes to nutrition. It usually goes one of two ways. Either you feel in control and happy because you have a good plan in place for making it through, or you decide you’ll change on January 1st and give yourself permission for a holiday free-for-all.

 

A lot of times we struggle to feel in control over food during the holidays because it’s so available everywhere we go. We go to parties with food, we attend events with food, we have neighbors bringing us food as gifts, and the list goes on.

 

Because navigating nutrition during the holidays is something that many of us struggle with, I’ve reached out to some of my nearest and dearest friends in the health and fitness industry for help.

 

So, today’s post is for you to learn from other women and mothers about how they find balance during the holidays (and all year round!). In fact, if you’re reading this in February or August, these tips still apply. It’s all about finding a healthy balance with food that works for your lifestyle.

 

Also, don’t forget to grab your guilt free holiday workbook. It’s packed with all the tools you need and a step by step guide to helping you overcome some of the most difficult challenges we face with food such as emotional and stress eating, portion control and free for all eating, and feeling confident and in control at parties and events.

 

MINDFUL EATING DURING THE HOLIDAYS - TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS

 
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It’s just a normal day. Breathe. You can always have it later.

MONICA PACKER - aboutprogress.com  

 

Navigating holiday eating doesn’t have to be traumatizing. They used to cause me panic attacks, but now I view big meals and celebrations like any other Sunday dinner.  All it takes is some time and retraining your thoughts.

Here are three phrases and their related teachings that I like to keep in mind as I approach what could be a highly-charged meal:

 

“It’s just a normal day.” 

Instead of exercising for hours or starving myself on a particular holiday, I treat those big meal days as normally as I can.  I do a hard-but-normal workout—yes.  I eat a lighter breakfast/snack—sure.  I think ahead of time about what things I’d actually love to eat—most definitely.  But I don’t give the feast so much pressure that I’m doomed for failure.

 

“Breathe.”  

If my thoughts start racing, I’m overthinking everything, or I notice myself slipping into numbness, I remind myself to take a deep breath and recenter.  What do I want this meal to be about?  What do I really want to enjoy? Everyone is breathing around you, so you can do this as many times as you need!

 

“You can always have it later.”  

Perhaps I just had a piece of pie and my instinct is telling me to grab another as fast as I can, and then another.  I override those ways of thinking by remembering that I can in fact have another piece later—maybe when my tummy is less full and I enjoy it more, or even months down the road.  Who says you can’t make Grandma’s fudge in the middle of July?!  You most certainly can.  

If this is new for you, hold tight.  It gets easier and in time these ways of thinking will be like second-nature.  I have more tips/phases for you on my website too, if you’re needing just a little extra help.  www.aboutprogress.com  Enjoy your feasts!!

 

 
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For me, life and eating is all about balance, and that includes some chocolate every once in a while.

MEG MILES - momstrongutah.com

 

Here are my tips for staying in control during the holidays while still enjoying the fun.

 

The "one favorite dessert" rule

Here's how this works. We all love dessert, but sometimes we're faced with a table FULL of it, and we end up overeating and feeling sick. I like the "favorite dessert rule" because I allow myself to choose my very favorite thing from that dessert table, and enjoy every bite, guilt-free. When I am thinking about choosing ONE dessert I will love, rather than bites from a few that I may not enjoy, it helps me to stay in control. So choose that favorite dessert of yours, walk away from the dessert table, and savor every bite.

 

Have a control word

When faced with all of the holiday food, have a word you can say to yourself, either mentally or out loud that will remind you to think before you eat. Mine is simply "control." When I say this to myself, I remember I am in control, that I don't have to go overboard, and that I can eat intuitively while I make clear and conscious food choices.

 

Don't be afraid to throw things away

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I have no problem in throwing away sweets that start to collect on my countertop during the holidays. Even the ones that arrive on my doorstep wrapped in a bow. Sometimes I think we eat that whole plate of cookies, or jar of caramels just because it's sitting there, or just so we don't "waste it." Well, have you ever thought of just getting rid of it all together? Maybe enjoying just one thing and getting rid of the rest? It's something to consider!

 

Leave the "all or nothing" approach at the door

It's easy to get caught up in the "all or nothing" approach. It's like once we have that cookie, we think to ourselves, 'Well I may as well have three or four now that I've blown it.' Well here's the truth. One cookie is NOT going to throw you off. Enjoy it, guilt-free, but know that it's totally possible to get right back on track again! Leave that "all or nothing" approach behind, and start to realize you're always in control. Life is about BALANCE, not perfection. For me, "balance" includes some chocolate every once in a while.


 

 
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This treat is always available to me.

RACHEL GAINER - rachelrebuilt.com

 

Hello, friends! I’m Rachel Gainer of @rachel_rebuilt. As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in feasting festivities or become overwhelmed by how to “stay on track.” I don’t believe it swearing off sweets or skipping social gatherings for the sake of healthy habits. Instead, I focus on nourishing my body, listening to my hunger, and enjoying guilt-free indulgences. Here are four tips to help you stay mindful and in tune with your body during holiday parties:

 

Indulge in what matters to you.

Resisting a food you REALLY want at the wrong time can lead to “avoidance overeating” (eating too many healthy calories to avoid the treat) or “delayed binging” (eating less-satisfying sugars to fill a lingering craving). Instead, choose foods that are physically and emotionally satisfying. Then eat slowly, savor the flavors, and stop when you feel gentle fullness.

 

Avoid FOMO feasting

One reason we overindulge during the holidays is that every gathering feels special. We don’t want to miss out on favorite foods, so we eat them even when we aren’t in the mood. To calm food FOMO, try thinking, “This treat is always available to me.” No today doesn’t mean no forever. You can always save a serving for tomorrow.

 

Practice self-trust

When we tell ourselves we can’t be trusted around food, we tend to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. But when we allow ourselves to eat a little and stop before our plate is empty, we nurture self-trust, eliminate food anxiety, and expend less willpower.

 

Own your decisions

When you own a decision, it empowers you. The choice to opt out doesn’t feel like a burden or a punishment. The choice to indulge doesn’t come with guilt or regret. Ownership increases mindfulness.


 

 
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Holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness, and food should be a fun part of that

ALISON BODEN - nourishingradiance.com

 

Don't think of "the holidays" as a season

Pick a few select days - maybe it's Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and a couple of holiday parties and enjoy whatever food you want on those days without guilt. And then as much as you can, try to eat normally and avoid splurge type foods on just regular days between events. This makes the indulgent foods at gatherings taste so much better because they'll come with less guilt and remorse. This way you also feel more in control of things when you have a plan in place.

 

Don't go to a party or other holiday gathering hungry

It's tempting to try to bank up a calorie deficit during the day so that you can feel more free to indulge later. But this almost always backfires and sets the stage for a pretty serious binge eating evening, especially if there's alcohol involved. Going to a party to see all of your favorite treats while your blood sugar is low and you haven't eaten as usual all day is a recipe for overeating. But if you have a nice balanced meal with a portion of protein, starch and fiber you are far less likely to leave overstuffed and full of guilt.


 

 
 
No matter how you’re doing on eating, never skip a workout!

CHEYENNE HAYES - @rise_above_distraction

 

During the holidays, so many events involve celebrating with food, and I don't want ever come across like "that girl" that is in the corner eating celery sticks.  

Be Intentional

Before I attend an event that will have food, I decide BEFORE I go whether I'm going to enjoy dessert or not (and that is often based on what the rest of my week has been like.  I don't have a problem eating a dessert here and there, but I've learned that for MYSELF, I can't ever eat sugary things back to back days.  If I do....that's when the cravings start).  

 

Use a dessert rating scale

Once I am AT a party or event, I have a rule that I always use.  I will look at the desserts being offered and decide if anything is rated a 9 or 10 for me (on a scale of 1-10).  There is nothing worse than eating when you said you wouldn't and realizing immediately afterwards that it wasn't even something you really like.  If there is a 9 or a 10 level dessert, I take a reasonable portion, ENJOY IT, and then drink some water and pop in a piece of gum afterwards, to just make sure I don't get carried away.  But if there is nothing that is a 9 or 10 for me, I just say NO, and hold out for another time where I can really enjoy something.  

 

Leftover treats are trouble

I also am careful not to have "treat" type things laying around the house all month long.  We are deliberate in our times of making cookies or fudge, share a ton of it with the neighbors, and then be done with it.  

 

Never skip a workout

And no matter how I'm doing on my eating routines, I make sure not to waiver on my work outs. Even if we have family around and such, there is nothing wrong with me slipping out of the house for a 30 minute run.  I just don't ever want to send the message to my body that I'll start taking care of it again in "January".

How to Stop the "All You Can Eat" Mentality and Gain Control over Food

How to Stop the "All You Can Eat" Mentality and Gain Control over Food

Do you feel like once you've indulged, you're on a downward spiral of overeating, feeling guilty, and giving up on any plans you made to eat better? If so, you're not alone and this blog post will help you learn to overcome that all-you-can-eat mentality to help you portion size and make peace with food. 

What to do When you Feel Guilty After Overeating

What to do When you Feel Guilty After Overeating

If you find yourself struggling with emotional eating, overeating, guilt, mindless eating, or anything associated with having a difficult relationship with food, this post is for you. 

HOW TO STOP EMOTIONAL EATING (especially when you deserve it)

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You made it through a hard day.

 

Your kids whined and fought all day.

 

You gave a particularly difficult and stressful presentation at work.

 

Everyone made it through this day alive.

 

You accomplished something you feel good about.

 

Any of these scenarios resonate with you?

 

There are soooo many forms of feeling like you deserve a “treat” at the end of a particularly hard, or even a particularly successful day.

 

It’s a reward for getting through whatever you got through today.

 

For you, maybe getting through the day with young children is TOUGH. They take all your energy, your time, and by the end of the day, you’re completely drained.

 

So, you turn to food.

 

You look for the chips in the cupboard, you hit up the gas station for the largest soda they have, you end the night with ice cream, or you raid the cookies in the pantry.

 

Ah, it feels nice to sit, veg, and reward yourself for making it through the day.

eating your feelings

For me, accomplishing something big was ALWAYS cause for a reward. In college, if I passed a test or just simply made it through a tough presentation, or lived through finals week, I deserved a treat.

 

It was always a sweet treat.

 

Brownies or cookies were my staple. And bonus points if there was ice cream in the freezer. Sundae every night, anyone?!

 

Food was my reward. My reward for accomplishing something. And although sometimes it was accomplishing something great, it was mostly a reward for making it through the day.

 

And that became my habit.

 

Every time I made it through the day, I got a “reward” in the form of food.

 

Which pretty much meant every day.

 

I didn’t really realize it until I wanted to change my health. I was in college learning about health and nutrition, but I was struggling to follow the same principles at home.

 

I quickly discovered that giving up my reward system each night was going to be difficult. I had come to rely on that instant gratification.

 

What about you?

 

Are you frustrated feeling like you can’t give up the cycle of needing a food reward for making it through the day?

 

Do you use food to numb your feelings? And it doesn’t always mean sad feelings. It can be feelings of anger, frustration, excitement, or just a general feeling of not wanting to do one more thing this evening.

 

If you find yourself struggling with eating your feelings, today’s post is for you.

 

And if you already know you struggle with emotional eating, head on over and sign up for my free mini course “Make Peace with Food” which will walk you through all the steps of recognizing and dealing with emotional eating.

 

The definition of emotional eating is eating in response to feelings instead of hunger.

 

Other truths about emotional hunger (and discerning between emotional and physical hunger) come from this article, and include:

 

  • Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. Physical hunger typically comes on gradually, and you may have physical signs like your stomach growling.

  • Emotional hunger craves specific – and in most cases, unhealthful – foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything will do, including healthful foods.

  • Emotional hunger results in mindless eating. Did you just down a pint of ice cream before bed without realizing or enjoying it? Polished off a sleeve of cookies in front of the television after work? Inhaled a drive-thru burger while crawling home in rush-hour traffic? These are most likely examples of emotional eating.

  • Emotional hunger is never satiated. You want more and more until you’re stuffed – or find yourself in a “carb coma,” slumping after eating too much.

  • Emotional hunger has repercussions. These include guilt, shame and regret, to name a few. Physical hunger never leaves you feeling badly about yourself.

 

So, if you find yourself leaning more toward the emotional hunger at the end of the day, here’s what you can do about it:

 

4 THINGS YOU CAN DO INSTEAD OF EAT YOUR FEELINGS

 

ONE: ESCAPE

Get away from the temptation. Leave the room. Leave the house. Do whatever you need to do to get away from the current scenario.

 

The physical act of leaving with also help you mind “leave” the room and leave the emotional situation behind.

 

But, what do you do? That’s up to you! Do you have a favorite place to go? Maybe it’s a walk around the block (I know it can be hard to start, but you always feel better after getting some fresh air, right?!).

 

Maybe you have another room with books, crafts, or hobbies to pursue. Go there.

 

Go to the store. Obviously don’t replace your emotional therapy with retail therapy, but go enjoy a free walk around the store. Try on some new clothes. Go to a bookstore and read a short book.

 

The key is to get out. Getting away from the situation physically will help you get away from it mentally too. And chances are, you won’t be as likely to eat when you get back.


 

TWO: DEAL WITH THEM

If you have recurring feelings that drive you to eat emotionally, it might be time to confront them, to deal with them. To take a look at why they happen, what causes them, and what you can do about it each time you experience the emotion.

 

The first step is to stop. Stop eating. Stop and notice what you are feeling.

 

Are you eating because you’re angry, stressed, tired, lonely, sad, happy, etc? Recognize the emotion happening in your body right now.

 

Then, write 1-2 solutions for dealing with that emotion. For example, if you’re stressed, what do you do to relieve stress? Do you exercise? Do you read a book? Do you take a hot shower? Write a couple ideas down, and it’s ok if they are new ideas! If you want to try meditating, go for it right now!

 

Then, spend the next 10-20 minutes working on your emotion. When you are finished, check in again. Is the drive to eat still there? If it is, maybe you are physically hungry and you can grab yourself a snack that will satisfy instead of a “reward” snack.

 

Each time you feel the drive to emotionally eat, try first stopping what you are doing and then figure out the emotion you are experiencing. Find a method for dealing with that emotion that isn’t food. You’ll quickly have a good list of things you can do instead of eating food when you’re experiencing some uncomfortable emotions.


 

THREE: MAKE A LIST OF SELF CARE ACTIVITIES

As moms, sometimes we forget that we have things we like to do. Maybe we’ve forgotten how to take care of ourselves. Maybe we don’t know what we’re into anymore.

 

If you feel like you’ve lost your identity a little lately, try finding some things you either used to enjoy or new activities you want to try.

 

ideas for self care activities

Try a new exercise class (maybe even sign up for one in the evening when you know it’s your hardest time with eating).

Try a new reading genre.

Start a hobby, whether is be crafting, or something else

Have a game night with your spouse or significant other

Clean out a section of your closet or a junk drawer

Try meditation or yoga (this is my favorite free yoga station!)

Start a book club

Plan your next vacation

Start a vision board. Dream


 

FOUR: HAVE SOME FUN

Want to know the best way to feel better instantly? Have fun. Do something that makes you smile, laugh, or takes your mind off of life.

 

Remember Mario Kart? Challenge your spouse to a duel. Pull out some old game boards, watch You Tube videos that make you laugh. Follow a dancing game such as Dance Revolution (that brings some serious laughs to this non-dancer). Build a fort and watch a movie.

 

Did you know kids are some of the best examples of intuitive eaters? Learn from them. Learn that sometimes all it takes is a little distraction and a lot of fun to get your mind off of food and the emotions you’re experiencing.


 

As you start to pay attention to your emotional eating behavior and cycles, you can then start changing them. Soon enough you will have a lot of great tools to use instead of turning to food after a long, hard day.

 

Instead of feeling like you deserve a treat, your mind will shift to deserving more self love, self care, and fun in your life. You’ll find ways to deal with your emotions that actually work, that don’t leave you feeling guilty or depressed.

 

And remember, if you still struggle with emotional eating, sign up for my free course “Make Peace with Food” to help you identify and deal with those emotions in the non-food way.

HOW TO STOP BINGING BEFORE YOUR NEXT DIET

Your guide to quit binging and overeating before your next diet or meal plan. Overcome emotional eating, stress eating, and create a better relationship with food.

It’s Sunday night.

 

Tomorrow’s Monday, the start of your new diet, meal plan, or some sort of strict nutrition plan that’s going to make you cut out all your favorite foods in the name of losing that extra weight.

So, what do you do?

Make Sunday the day to eat everything you can’t have on Monday. To have your one last hurrah. To binge eat all your favorite comfort foods, chocolate, soda, bread and carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Because tomorrow, you’ll have to stop eating carbs for the foreseeable future.

Regardless of what diet or plan you go on, does this scenario sound familiar?

As soon as you have to give up something that you love, you suddenly fear you won’t be able to have it ever again, so you might as well “stock up” on it now.

This is a phenomenon called Last Supper Syndrome or also referred to as Last Supper Eating.

Stop emotional eating with these tips on overeating and stress eating. 

You’ve been there before in one way or another. The binge before the “perfect eating” cycle. You spend the whole day binging on those foods you’ll soon say goodbye to. It’s almost like a grieving process. You’re saying goodbye to food you love, food that comforts you, food that helps you through a difficult day.

You’re kind of dreading tomorrow. And, now you feel gross because you’ve binged on comfort food all day.

But, tomorrow’s the day. You put all the junk food away, throw it out, or give it to someone else so you don’t have the temptation. You replace chips with rice cakes, bread with fruits and vegetables, and soda for water, water, and more water.

Your fridge is stocked with healthy food, your meals are planned and ready, and you’re going to crush this perfect diet plan tomorrow.

Monday comes and things seem to be going pretty well! You’ve been busy and occupied most of the day and really haven’t noticed that much of a change. You’ve followed your new diet plan to a T.

And then things take a turn for the worse. It’s the afternoon slump. Whatever it is for you, work or your kids, have take everything you have. You’re exhausted, feel like you haven’t eaten anything of substance (because vegetables aren’t all that satisfying, right?), and wishing you could just consume one treat, comfort food, soda, or anything that would numb the stress of the day.

You’re so used to eating your emotions, that you’re all of the sudden left without any tools to deal with the stresses of life that will inevitably come up. The only way you know how to deal with stress is to emotionally eat. It’s how you’ve always done it. You’ve always “deserved” a treat when things were hard, when you made it through the day with everyone still alive, or when you’ve accomplished something big.

You’re standing in your messy house with no energy to do anything and no desire to eat that “bird food” you have prepared in your fridge.

But, you have a plan. You’re certain it’s going to work for you, so you push through it. You watch your family eat mac and cheese… oh, all that cheesy, carb goodness, while you choke down another chicken and vegetables meal.

You wish you could just have a little ice cream tonight, to take the edge off. But, you’re sticking to your plan! You go to bed feeling hungry and unsatisfied, but that’s how you’re supposed to feel on a diet, right?

 

WRONG.

 

This cycle could last days, weeks, and even months, but eventually you finish the diet plan and go right back to your prior eating habits… or you stop long before the diet plan is even completed.

You go right back to binging on your favorite comfort foods, because gosh dang it, you deserve it. You’ve worked hard! But, you don’t stop at one. You binge again. And since you’ve already blown your diet, you binge some more and tell yourself you’ll start again…

On Monday.

The weight never really comes off, or stays off, and in you’re in a vicious cycle of feeling completely out of control with food. You want to improve your relationship with food, but you don’t know how to do it. You don’t know how to find the balance of healthy eating for weight loss and feeling satisfied eating the foods you enjoy.

And if that’s you, you’re in the right place. Because today is all about working through the barriers you have with food. Overcoming emotional eating. Overcoming the “Last Supper Syndrome”. Today is about learning to make peace with food by understanding food better.

And if you know this is an area you want to work on, head on over and check out my free mini course “Make Peace with Food”. It’s a short course designed to help you identify and overcome emotional eating and feel safe and comfortable around food. It’s a reader favorite, so head here or click on the image below to sign up for free!

3 TRUTHS ABOUT FOOD THAT WILL HELP YOU OVERCOME THE DIET MENTALITY/BINGE EATING CYCLES

 

TRUTH #1: DIETS ARE BLACK AND WHITE

What do I mean when I say diets are black and white? It means that diets set you up for one of two things, either success or failure. If you follow a diet perfectly, you’re successful on the diet. If you mess up (even once!), you might automatically assume you’re a failure.

Think about it, if you eat a cookie on a diet plan that doesn’t allow for cookies, what happens? You decide you’ve already blown it so you might as well eat the whole batch of cookies too. Then you feel all the feelings of guilt and failure. You’ve failed your diet plan.

When in reality, all you need to do is accept that you ate the cookie, and move on (more about this in step 3).

Although I do not condone diets or strict meal plans, I also recognize trying to eat healthy can be hard and sometimes we need something to follow or help us feel like we’re on the right track.

So, when you are looking at meal plans or specific “diets”, ask yourself the following 3 questions to make sure they are healthy and sustainable (because we’re here to create healthy habits for life, not just for 12 weeks).

  1. Does this plan include a good balance of all kinds of food? (Including healthy carbs, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, proteins, and even small amounts of satisfying or “treat” foods)

  2. Does this plan allow for or support following an exercise program alongside it?

  3. Is this plan sustainable over the long term? (Meaning you could eat it as part of a healthy lifestyle)

 

No matter what kind of healthy eating journey you seek, or what kind of goal you want to accomplish, remember that any diet or plan that makes you feel like you are either “on” or “off” is not going to serve you in the long run.

Also, speak kindly to yourself. It’s normal to have good times and rough times. Instead of living in the black or white, can you live in the gray? The gray is a place of self love, learning, and progress. It’s about making mistakes, learning from them, and ultimately feeling more peace with all kinds of foods.


 

TRUTH #2: FOOD IS NEUTRAL

Food is inherently neutral. This means it doesn’t have any value or meaning outside of nourishment for our bodies.

We often label certain foods as “bad” and other foods as “good”. You know, the chocolate, chips, soda, and breads are all “BAD”. But, vegetables, fruits, and water all are “GOOD”.

But, if we look at food this way, we lose sight of what food can be for us. If you eat a “bad” food, then you’re a “bad” person or a “bad” eater. If you eat a “good” food, you’re “good”.

There’s no reason for food to be labeled as good or bad because the perfect nutritional balance is a mixture of all kinds of foods.

When my clients tell me they’re going off soda for good, I ask them if they plan to never drink soda again the rest of their life. That’s a powerful question.

Instead of labeling foods and then trying to eliminate them, can we find a way to enjoy them in moderation? To feel in control when we are around them and not feel guilty or “bad” for enjoying them once in awhile.

Instead of listening to what society says about certain foods, ask yourself what that food does for you. How does a particular food affect you? This can be a great guide for knowing how and what. If a food makes you feel crummy or tired, it might be best used in moderation. If a food gives you energy or makes you feel better, add more of it into your diet!


 

TRUTH #3: SELF TALK IS POWERFUL

Lastly, self talk.

The words we say to ourselves are powerful. Powerful for good and powerful for bad.

It’s all about separating the rational from the irrational.

Take this scenario from the book “Intuitive Eating” to illustrate this point.

 

“I’ve been so good on my diet the last few weeks”

“I haven’t had any ice cream or candy or cookies”

“I’d sure love to have one of those brownies, but I can’t - I shouldn’t - I won’t”

“If I have a brownie, I’ll blow my diet”

“I won’t be able to stop eating the brownies”

“Oh, maybe just one will be ok”

 

 

“Oh, no - I shouldn’t have done that”

“That was really stupid”

“I have no willpower”

“I’m going to be out of control”

“It’s all my fault that I’m fat”

“Will I ever be able to lose weight”

 

 

Now you’re feeling:

Disappointment

Fear of future deprivation

Sadness

Fear of being out of control

Despair

 

 

You slowly take a second brownie

And a third brownie

Before you know it, you’ve gobbled up the whole plateful.

You’re stuffed and completely miserable.

 

Have you been there before? Your self talk brings you low. You tell yourself you’re not in control, you’re never going to be good enough, and ultimately that you’re not worth trying.

I know this may seem like an extreme example, but it’s very common! The worst about it - most times we don’t even recognize that we do this to ourselves!

We don’t often pay attention to our own self talk. It’s inherent. It’s automatic. But, it wears on us over time. So, instead of always spiraling down into depressed thoughts about our lack of control with food, here is a guide for changing your negative self talk into positive, uplifting, and useful self talk that will actually help you change your behavior.

 

Use the “glass half full” approach

When the negative self talk creeps in, notice it is a “glass half empty” approach. Then, change the negative self talk into a “glass half full” approach.

 

For example:

 

Half empty approach:

“I had a terrible week”

“I overate so many times”

“All I ate was sweets”

“I feel so fat”

“I’m such a failure”

 

Half full approach:

“I has some successes this week (name them)”

“I had many times when I honored my hunger”

“I had more sweets than I wished, but also had some other foods too”

“I’m feeling better about myself”

“I’m doing better little by little, I’m learning”

 

PHEW! That was a beast of a blog post! But, I truly hope you have received some actionable steps toward helping you avoid the cycle of diet perfection.

For more resources on making peace with food, read “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole. The book takes you through every step toward making ultimate peace with food.

If you’re looking specifically for relief with emotional eating, sign up for my free mini course “Make Peace with Food” where we dive deep into how to recognize and deal with your emotions without using food.

I’m here to help you in your journey toward feeling more safe around food, more confident in your ability to reach your goals, and love the body you’re in. You’re already doing great things!