No matter how many rules I put in place to follow, at the end of the day (in my case, LITERALLY) what keeps me on or off track is largely due to emotions, and how I choose to manage them.
As a kid, I think I mastered emotional eating. Feeling lonely? Eat. Feeling afraid? Eat. As an adult, I faithfully continued the practice. Feeling anxious? Eat. Feeling like I’m not good enough? Eat. And how about anger? Yup. Eat.
Here are a few things you can do to stay on track, even in the emotional trenches.
If you aren’t already taking time out at least a few times a week to write, then I encourage you to start. Journaling helps much like meditation in that it puts us in a more reflective, honest state. You get to be alone with you, to write your thoughts as they occur. You don’t have to write a ton. Aim to write once a day. If you can’t think of anything to write, start by writing down what was good about your day. What are you grateful for? What are you proud of ? What got accomplished? What didn’t go so well? I have a journal on my laptop that is also accessible to my phone. This makes it easy to pop into it whenever I feel the urge.
When I stopped making time to journal, I lost touch with me. And the weight came back. The behavior shift was most definitely because I stopped getting in touch with whatever anxiety or stressors were causing me to “blah” out and not care about keeping my promises to myself.
2. Identify The Vulnerability Window
For most of us, this tends to be after dinner. We’re tired, we want to relax. Watching tv often triggers my need to snack (hello popcorn!). The combination of fatigue and idle time often causes us to bend the rules.
In your journal (see #1), write down the window in which you feel you are most vulnerable to temptation. Get really specific about the time, like 7pm until Midnight. That’s the key five hours for me. I have rarely ever had an issue during other times of the day. If you can narrow the window when you’ve had the biggest challenge it will help you become more conscious of the pattern and find alternatives. Chances are this window is less than 25% of your day. And if you think about it, this feels way less overwhelming. Once you know your soft spots, plan some activities that will distract you from going over the edge. For me, it’s actually writing and working on the blog, or making a vision board that sits on my computer that I can glance at when I feel tempted.
3. Don’t Allow Your Emotions To Be Bigger Than Your Dream
We can’t shut off our emotions but we can find other sources of comfort, like visualizing good stuff happening. Emotional eating is typically triggered by fear, anxiety, boredom or loneliness. Think about the reasons you decided to lose weight. Write them down. I know this may seem obvious, but really get into the details of the WHY. Why is it important to you? And then questions the Whys. For instance…
I want to lose weight so I can look better in clothing.
Because I want to wear things that I can’t wear now.
Because I feel younger and more powerful when I can dress a certain way.
Why don’t you look young and powerful now?
When I see pictures of myself, they don’t reflect how I feel inside or how I want to be in the world.
Why is that important to you?
When I don’t feel good in my skin, I shy away from things, from cameras, from social gatherings. I feel ashamed, not good enough.
The goal of this exercise is to go deeper into what may be triggering you to go off plan. What fears are you making bigger than your dream?
Recognizing the inner work that needs to happen as you move into your vulnerability is very important. We humans tend to put a whole lot of weight on fear and anxiety versus the belief we can totally have what we want. When you’re done with the “Why” exercise, begin a new mantra that brings the dream into a reality now (fake it til you make it).
I am powerful. I am MORE than good enough, and my dreams are already coming true. i dont’ worry about getting dressed anymore. I’m confident and gorgeous and my schedule is full of amazing things to do.
This may feel silly at first. You may not believe a dang word you put down in this mantra, but trust me when I tell you, this SH*T works! Begin reframing it in your brain and I guarantee you’ll be blown away by how this works to curb all the dark stuff that can trigger a breakdown.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes….