There are two main “arms” to my get-people-lean strategy. We nail down the essentials on the nutrition side by optimizing the number and size of their meals, getting the right mix of fats, carbohydrates and proteins, etc. But without mental/emotional skill development, even the best nutrition plan on earth wouldn’t get people permanently lean. Ever gotten a diet plan from a dietitian, book, or magazine, but not stuck to it? Been frustrated by your own fall-off-the-wagon (and into the chocolate) tendency when you get upset? Odds are you could use a bump to your mental/emotional skill set, not just a meal plan.
Sound daunting? It’s not. Like anything else, we start with one habit.
Awareness is the groundwork of any change. Unawareness or partial awareness keeps you stuck. Before you can fix a leaky faucet, you have to hear the dripping and find where it’s coming from. If you want to snap your habit of eating excessively when stressed, you need to be able to sense when you’re stressed. That might sound like child’s play, but it’s awfully easy to not realize how stressed (or involved in another emotion) we are until we’re halfway through something we didn’t want to be eating. Or, we can deny our state and say Nah, I’m not that stressed, but then wonder why we end up snapping at our spouse or ordering one too many glasses of wine.
Being aware of and honest about what’s going on in your noggin is a big and important first step to disconnecting the wires between emotion and food.
Emotional awareness starts with the habit of doing a Mind-Body Scan each day. I recommend doing it just before a meal if possible. Tuning in and getting present to what’s going on around and within you can be just the thing to start you on the road to a healthy, effortless relationship with food and eating.
Mind Body Scan in 3 Steps
1. Get present to your surroundings. What can you hear, smell, see, taste, feel on your skin?
2. Scan your physical body: Any sensations of pain, relaxation, soreness, energy, fullness, emptiness, lightness or fatigue?
3. Look inside for emotions and thoughts: What’s on your mind? What emotions, feelings or thoughts are there?
(If you notice the thought, I just want to eat my meal and rush through this!” you succeeded. That’s as valid to notice as anything else.)
It’s common to want to DO something at this point. You might want to fix something, act on something, or push something away. No need. Simply increasing awareness is the goal. Nice job, you did it! Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your meal.
I challenge you to practice this habit, even if you aren’t sure what on earth it’s supposed to do to help you. After a week of doing this daily, you may really surprise yourself with what changes have started to occur. You have the time. What have you got to lose? If you’d like more individualized support, consider personalized coaching.
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