WEIGHT LOSS: Feed Your Body, Not Your Brain!

I recently attended a fabulous weight loss seminar run by veteran Martha Beck coach, Brooke Castillo.  She’s awesome! The program really got to the heart of the matter for me – so I’d like to give you a “taste” of what it’s about and perhaps start you on a road to recovery if your weight issue is related to eating when you are not physically hungry.  If this is not your issue, stop reading and go do something more fun!

In short, the key concept to this weight loss program is: get in touch with, and honor your body! Listen to your body when it tells you it is hungry or full!  Because if you only eat when you are physically hungry, and eat only to satisfaction, not fullness – your body will find its natural, thinner weight. Notice I did not say you can’t eat ice cream or even French Fries.   I did not say you can only eat 100 calories per sitting.  The only rule is, eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are almost full.  As we all know, if you eat more than your body needs as fuel – you gain weight. Duh, we all know this stuff– so why is it so hard to do it? 

Generally, unless you have a medical condition (and I don’t mean obesity – which I classify as an outcome, not a cause of overeating) there is nothing in your body that compels you to overeat.  However, your brain may compel you to overeat.  By brain, I mean your thoughts – which trigger emotions! For many of us, in an effort to avoid experiencing or dealing with emotions, we overeat.

My personal example is that to avoid a project or a meeting that wasn’t going to be fun, I unconsciously stuffed myself with huge quantities of M&M’s.  “Unconsciously” means that while I knew what I was doing, it was as if I had no control over my impulses. And, because I was not actually hungry, there was no satiation point.  My body was not asking for food, my brain was resisting a negative thought “I don’t want to do this anymore” that turned into an emotional hunger for comfort that I fed with M&M’s.  How many M&M’s does it take to make a negative thought go away? Let me tell you, there aren’t enough in the universe.

While the M&M’s didn’t solve the underlying problem, eating so many created new ones: I didn’t feel well and my pants didn’t fit.  So rather than deal with the real issue of changing my circumstances or reframing them, I focused on the new issue: my weight problem.   

Nice story, but now what? Castillo suggests that you get back in touch with your body (your hunger) and your mind (your thoughts)! Because your body and your mind are here to serve you – if you learn to work with them, you really do have choices.    

 The first step of healing for me was to NOTICE what was going on:  I had to become conscious.  As you know, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t acknowledge that there is one. 

Try becoming a scientist (not a critic) of your own behavior and listen for that small inner voice that tells you what is really going on with you. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself every time you turn to food for comfort or a distraction.  For now, it may be enough just take note of your answers:

1)      Am I physically hungry?  (Clue: usually you will feel hunger in your stomach, not in your chest.)

2)      If I am not physically hungry, but heading toward the candy jar, the vending machine, etc, what is going on?  Is there a thought in my head that I am trying to avoid or that causes discomfort? What is that thought? E.g. my son really pissed me off, I hate this situation, my thighs are too fat or gosh, I’m bored, tired…etc, etc.

3)      If and when you find   the troubling thought,   can you write it down and acknowledge it?  Is there another way to deal with the real issue?  If you’re bored, what could you do that’s less boring?  If you are tired, can you take a nap? If you need comfort, is there some other nice thing you can do for yourself besides eating? Maybe take a bath or read a book? If it’s a really deep, scary, or chronic issue, can someone else help you?  It’s okay if your answer to these questions is no, but ask yourself if food is what you really want.  You will create the possibility of consciousness just by asking!

4)      If you go ahead and eat the food when you aren’t hungry, see if you can eat it slowly, enjoy it, and taste every bite. If you are like I was, this step will be impossible during an emotional binge.  In any case, don’t beat yourself up! It doesn’t do a darn thing to create long-term weight loss (and you know that’s true if you’ve been struggling with weight for years), so quit it.

5)       Keep track of what you do and how it feels – in one of my next posts, I‘ll give you a brief overview of how to work through the thoughts and feelings.

That’s all for now:  Step one:  Be a scientist of your own behavior. I will tell you that it has worked for me.  It was tough at first, but I haven’t binged on M&M’s (or anything else!) for a long, long time, and a few pounds have magically disappeared without changing my work outs!  

 If you want to dive in deeper, check out Martha Beck’s book, The Four Day Win . You can also get coaching  – and check out Brooke Castillo’s site which has a ton of amazing resources including  her terrific book,  If I’m so Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

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Date: Saturday, 30. January 2010 19:41
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Self Actualization, Wellness

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  1. nigelwendybradlysome
    Monday, 26. April 2010 0:20

    I love this blog cool looking design as well. I have subscribed to it.

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    […] Become aware of your feelings and your thoughts when you overeat; 2) Be kind and compassionate with yourself 3) Get help and […]

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