When I began this journey, I was not convinced this time would be different.
What I didn’t expect this time around was how much I began to heal the roots of my issues.
First it was ending my cravings, which happened as a result of cutting sugar and flour. But after? I began to get much more in touch with how mind over matter really works when it comes to releasing the excess weight.
If we are able to get to the root of our urges or figure out what causes us to go off the rails, we are better at preventing them in the future.
1. Weight as protection.
For some of you this might sound strange, but I think others may know exactly what I’m talking about. Those layers of fat were a barrier between me and the world. Many of us gain weight when we undergo trauma. The passing of a loved one, a big financial loss such as a job, or the end of a long relationship or a major health issue. As we shed the weight, there may be times when we feel especially vulnerable–we may feel more sensitive. We need to heal those old wounds. As we let go of the weight, we must learn to let go of the past. Challenge your former thinking by asking yourself how much pain have you endured BECAUSE of the weight? Was it really protecting you or just temporarily numbing you out? When you think about it, overeating is the ultimate false promise. It will never fix what’s ailing you. In fact, it’s often the exact opposite.
2. I’ll begin tomorrow.
I can’t tell you how many times I said this to myself. Perhaps it was after a ‘slide’ down a slippery slope and the “what-hell-effect” kicked in. It is moments like these that contribute to what I call “My all or nothing” approach. That approach can take you out of the present, and make you feel powerless to make a change right then and here. Some of you starting this plan will say things like “once I clear my pantry of the bad food, then I’ll start. I don’t want to waste it,” Again, this bargaining, this sense of putting off what can start today literally steals your thunder. Consider starting right now. Why put any more ‘bad’ stuff in your system. Toss it. Let it go. If you’ve had a slide, sliding further will only make you feel more deflated. Success is really about managing the breakdowns. So manage it, and begin again in that moment, not tomorrow morning.
3. The smell of baked bread, the aroma of cookies baking.
A few years ago, I was on a major bread making kick. I loved the feeling of accomplishment that, like a chemist, I was causing things to rise, making my own pizza dough and ciabatta bread. I love making things. I loved the look on my kids’ faces when I made a chocolatey dessert. The sense of smell is a powerful thing. It can take you right back to a moment that may have happened 20 years ago. And when it comes to food, those memories can be powerful because they connect us to things like when our grandmothers made a special treat for us or we baked Christmas cookies with our mothers. The sense of smell can also trigger a craving. In fact, that smell can trigger an insulin rise, just as the taste of sweet on the tongue can trigger it. But here’s the thing: When we break down those memories, they really have less to do with sugar and flour. They have more to do with feeling connected. We can begin to dissect those memories and create new moments with healthier activities. Cooking healthier options can be a shared activity. We can try on new traditions, and challenge those old sentimental pictures. Food is comforting, but let’s redefine that comfort food.
4. Food Porn.
This hasn’t been a big trigger for me, which is surprising since I’m a very visual person. Visual cues can cause a physiological response. Whether it’s a picture of Matthew McConaghy or lava cake, images can and do have an effect on some more than others. We can’t put ourselves into a box, but we can begin to challenge our response to seeing pictures of foods full of sugar or flour. We can also take steps to limit our exposure. Skip through the tv commercials, or buy magazines with more pictures of Matthew than chocolate cake. Or begin feeding your brain with luscious pictures of what you CAN have, like setting up a Pinterest board and making a game of it by finding delicious items that are in your current wheelhouse. Visual cues and our response to them are connected to memory and beliefs long ingrained in our psyche. Sweet equals treat or reward. Begin the change by challenging those beliefs with the facts.
5. I couldn’t imagine complete abstinence.
I once attended an OA meeting years ago. I thought the notion of abstinence was so extreme, and ultimately I just didn’t connect with the thought that I might always have an issue with sugar, that it might be something I might have to stay away from forever. But I knew that no amount of moderation seemed to work, and once I hit the mark of being 100 pounds overweight, I realized I had nothing to lose (except for 100 pounds). Moderation was more painful and ultimately impossible for me. Now I know how much of it was truly my brain not working in alignment with my intentions. I was fighting the addiction, and time and time again setting up a losing battle.
It’s understandable how we cling to the old ways. Our memories, our habits, our feelings of entitlement and the many confusing messages from the diet and medical communities can result in a lot of brain drain. In order to cut through the clutter we have to clear the deck. For me, that means staying off the powder and challenging the old beliefs. The world is not flat, and getting off sugar and flour is not only possible, it’s transformational.