Day 16: Communicating With Your Inner Coach
TODAY'S SHIFT FROM FAT TO THIN THINKING:
I am now learning to feel my feelings rather than eating over them. I can now process my feelings with the guidance of my Inner Coach.
Welcome to Your Thin Thinking Practice Day 16
Life never lines up for us to be “good” on a diet. Life is always throwing us curve balls: crappy days, life drama, maddening life stuff, happy celebrations. If we are prone to eat in response to all these, our whole life road can get pretty curvy.
Here in your third week, as you continue your thin thinking practice, you may be experiencing many different feelings:
Any and all of those feeling are fine and should be expected! Feelings are just varying intensities of excitement in the brain. When our brain experiences a feeling, whether it’s positive or negative, our subconscious mind tends to want to numb the feeling to bring us back to our “normal”. In the past, we usually would use food to sedate ourselves.
Today’s coaching session: Am I going to Eat Over This? (below) gives you and your Inner Coach a new tool to process feelings without food.
Today's Shift From Fat To Thin Thinking: I am now learning to feel my feelings rather than eating over them. I can now process my feelings with the guidance of my Inner Coach.
Rita’s Coaching: Am I Going To Eat Over This?
Guidelines to Avert an Emotional Eating Episode
I was so pissed off! How dare they? My two best friends couldn’t make my birthday party. Why weren’t they coming? Didn’t they love me? Wasn’t I cool enough?
I was angry and I was eating, chomping away as I processed my hurt. All of a sudden, I came to as I reached the bottom of the icing bowl. I had demolished all of the chocolate frosting without even realizing what I was doing--just hours before my birthday party.
Now on top of angry, I felt sick and sad. My friends hadn’t ruined my birthday, I had, with my response to finding out they couldn’t come.
Why do we eat when we are emotional?
Have you ever been in a situation where something in life happened and you ate over it because that just seemed like the thing to do at the time? The only response that your brain would allow you do?
Emotion, Stress, and The Brain
Our mind and body evolved to move from 0-100 milliseconds to get us out of danger as fast as possible. This fight-or-flight response enhanced survival back in the day. When fear or danger happens today, the same amazing survival mechanism occurs. The hormone cortisol floods the system, and the reptilian brain literally shuts down the conscious, rational-thinking brain. It says “Hey, there's no time to think –JUST MOVE THOSE FEET!” Almost instantly, every bit of energy goes to preparing us to flee as fast as possible.
The problem is that the reptilian brain does not know how to differentiate between a lion and bumper-to-bumper traffic, the yelling boss, or friends not coming to your birthday party. The mind interprets any change in “normal” as a threat, triggering a release of cortisol to prep the body for a lightning-fast get-away. Stress also shifts the brain into a reward-seeking state, because it associates the reward state to “feeling better.”
Eating may be a calming reward, but eventually it also makes us feel bad about ourselves. I know--because I did it for years myself-- and it never helped. Just the opposite, it only made things worse. When I finally overcame the habits and behaviors that allowed me to release 40 pounds and keep it off for twenty years, learning to avoid emotional eating was one of the key changes that helped me create lasting change.
In my work with clients, I help them understand that when you feel angry, sad, anxious or even really happy you cannot use willpower to avoid the desire to eat to comfort yourself because during emotional surges the impulse control part of the mind is not available to us—it is literally shut down!
3-STEP SELF-COACHING TO SIDE TRACK AN EMOTIONAL EATING EPISODE
I teach my clients that in order to avoid comfort-eating they need to learn to stop and calm themselves down as you would a small child who came to you in distress. You can develop the ability to be your own Inner Coach and the small child who needs comforting at the same time.
Here are some helpful steps to calm yourself and move through and emotional episode while staying connected to yourself at the same time:
- Notice your feelings and acknowledge them, “I am hurt! Those Bit***s aren’t coming to my party.”
- Allow the feeling and say—“it’s okay to feel the feeling that I am mad at my friends”. So often we try to push away uncomfortable feelings. If you allow them in and label them, you begin to have power over them versus them having power over you.
- Ask yourself the question, “Am I going to eat over this? Because if I am, I had better come up with another solution.” This allows your stressed and emotional brain a big pause, a real self care moment and a chance to shift gears from the thought of eating to the thought of truly taking care of ourselves. If we eat to numb, we not only add unneeded calories to our bodies, but we lose the chance to find something that will truly take care of us. Using food as a band-aid doesn’t take care of us, it leaves us feeling worse than before.
- If the answer is yes, then try one of these 3 more slimming alternatives:
- Forgive Whoever Wronged You (even if it was you who wronged you.) Resentment is like eating poison and expecting the other person to die. My two friends were off living their lives oblivious to the fact that I shoveled 2000 calories worth of icing down my throat. To forgive is divine and it’s damn slimming too. Do what I call an “Insta-Forgive”. Don’t forgive them for them, forgive them for you—just let it go. If you need to take an action later—like speak with the person—you can do that too—but insta-forgive them upfront so they don’t cause you both anger and an additional pound of wiggle in the back.
- Rest In Peace Often when we are feeling extreme emotions that would cause us to eat we are tired and our brain is overwhelmed. Sometimes just a quick 10 minute lie down is what you need to pull yourself out of fight or flight eating mode and into thinking more rationally about how to really deal with an issue. If you can get some zzzzs, all the better. Research shows we need many respites through the day but our fast-paced culture breeds it out of us. We should give ourselves the love of a good nap. Scarlett O’Hara said “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” We say, “I’ll think about it after my nap.”
- Get Some Coaching From a Friend Calling someone or reaching out to process your feelings is a great way to connect with people. People love to help—so take advantage—let someone contribute to you! Chances are your friend has been through what you have been through or can just at least hear you out and let you process what just happened. Sometimes it helps to ask for specifically what you need, like—“I need your opinion, what would you do?” or “I don’t need your opinion but I would love for you just to hear me and let me process. Is that okay?”
I hope you will try this powerful tool out soon, although I hope it isn’t because your friends don’t show up to your birthday!