Understanding Overeating

"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison."

Nelson Mandela

Last week, I went into depth about “over-hunger,” what it is, and how to understand it (it was a Facebook Live episode called “The Problem of Over-hunger“).  It was the first of three episodes where I’m going deeper into revealing how over-hunger and over-desire are exactly what lead to overeating (which leads to weight gain) and how to solve for them.  So, let’s get right back to understanding what’s going on in our body and what tools you can use to start helping yourself end your overeating.

Last week, we talked about the Hunger Scale and the Four Types of Eating.  The Hunger Scale is so essential to understand what your specific body needs for fuel and when.  Believe me, I had the HARDEST TIME thinking my body had a diet of its own that it preferred because I was so scared that, if I paid attention to what my body needed, then my urges and cravings would get too strong and they would override physical, legitimate hunger.  But when I went on the Hunger Scale, I realized some key things:

1.) Some of the foods I was eating that were on the diet I was following were not kind to my body.  They caused bloat and discomfort but I ate those foods because that’s what the diet said I should eat.  Of course, I learned that no one can make me eat anything, just like no one can make you eat anything, and taking responsibility for thoughts like that was an important first step.

2.) I wasn’t hungry all day, so my worry about eating all the time and having urges 24/7 were not real.

Here’s the most fun thing I learned about myself when I started eating based on my hunger scale.  I really like breakfast, I nibble on things like apples throughout “lunch” time, and then I love a warm dinner salad with a colorful variety of veggies, lean meat, and fun fats like avocado and dressings or, my favorite, soups or stews packed with vegetables and color.  The thing is… This is EXACTLY how my MOTHER EATS!  I didn’t make the connection until about a few weeks into eating normally.  I love that I share this eating trait with my mother, I felt like it brought us closer even though I actually haven’t told her this yet.  I’m going to be spending some time with her this fall in her log cabin in Utah and I think we’re going to have some of the best times we’ve ever had together.  We’ll wake up, feed the dog, share a great breakfast and wake up with coffee, working in the garden and finishing up projects she has going on throughout the day, and then making a delicious dinner and going to bed and doing it all over again the next day.  Having days like that with my mother will be some of my most cherished memories.

Before, if I was still following a diet, then I would have spent my day in a mood, thinking about when the next time to eat was, why I couldn’t just eat something right now, why I had to eat more protein than carbs or fats, and so on and so on… that diet and food chatter that consumes so much mental energy.  Now, my mental energy goes towards creating amazing memories and soaking up the sound of my mom’s laugh and remembering how good she is at choosing the right words to describe the abundant animal and plant life that abounds around her cabin.  All of that tastes better and feels better than any food or any amount of food.

So, the hunger scale… I highly encourage you to use it for yourself and see the lessons that can be learned from the successes you get.

 

Let the Hunger Scale Introduce How to Manage Your Feelings

Here’s another important thing you learn while applying the hunger scale… You learn to manage your feelings because when you start understanding your hunger and not eating when you’re not hungry, then you’re left with urges, and that is the hardest work but also the most important, not just for learning how to solve for over-hunger but how to stop overeating.

The way to stop overeating is to develop the skill-set of allowing urges without reacting, avoiding or responding to them and just letting them be there.  We are taught to always give in to urges and to avoid them because then we become someone we’re not, which is extremely untrue.

Learning how to cope with all of your emotions, not just allowing urges, is what keeps the weight off because it means no emotion will surprise you – you’ll trust yourself and know how to handle yourself when something, anything, comes up unexpectedly.  Urges are amazing because they are just signals that are asking you – urgently – to go back to doing things that you’re familiar with, like nibbling when you’re bored or popping a few M&Ms into your mouth when you’re nervous.  You feel urges in other areas of your life, like giving in to the urge of avoiding checking your savings account so you don’t feel scared or irresponsible about how much you do or don’t have, or giving in to the urge of avoiding and putting off having an awkward discussion with your husband, or the urge to procrastinate or be lazy. That’s what I love about working with weight loss, specifically, because I learned and now help my clients focus on their dreams of the ideal weight they want and the activities and things they’ll be doing with that new body.  Handling their urges around food makes it so much easier to notice and understand urges when they come up elsewhere and how to manage their way through them.  By learning how to do this, they stay on track towards that dream, hence making it more possible and gaining more confidence the more they allow their emotions.

 

Exercise

I like to add exercise with my clients because we have to in order to pass our fitness tests.  But I never tell them to use exercise as a way to lose weight.  I encourage only exercise that is fun and it’s movement they want to do.  There is joy in moving our body, and we’ll be more encouraged to do it if we love how we feel, so I encourage exercise that puts a smile on their face because you can begin to teach yourself to wear that smile and enjoy the movements no matter what kind of exercising you’re doing.

Some of my clients are resistant to working out because it doesn’t bring them joy, but I tell them that the joy doesn’t come from the workout or the lack of the workout – it comes from what you’re thinking about the workout.  And when you compare your workout and tell yourself that you didn’t do enough, then you keep removing joy you could be feeling.

I always recommend a minimum baseline, or the minimum that they want and desire to do so that they start looking forward to it later.  It’s the same process for the fitness tests.  I’m going to do an entire episode on how to re-frame your thinking around the fitness test so that you aren’t resenting it and are, instead, being curious about it and the possibilities it affords you.  So many men and women resent their time serving in the military because of the fitness tests, yet miss having the accountability and structure when they get out because suddenly, they’re gaining weight.  It all comes down to how you’re choosing to think about the tests and you are allowed to think about them with interest and possibility rather than with resentment or disdain.  By thinking of them with a more positive approach, then the chances of you actually preparing for them and PASSING them are much more likely and, eventually, they stop being a problem for you because they’re just a normal part of your work, like wearing a cover outdoors or saluting higher ranking officers.  It’s just what you do, no drama or mental chatter/justification about it.

 

Judging Your Past Negatively is Negative Self-Talk

The most important tool I teach when learning how to solve for over-hunger and over-desire is that you must stop judging yourself.  This work can take a while for some, and I’ve noticed it’s especially hard to overcome in the military because we’re always comparing ourselves.

Not only is comparison the thief of joy, but when you are comparing yourself to, say, people who have landed on grenades to save the lives of 10 people, how can you ever win?  You are comparing yourself to dead people and saying you’re not good enough, which is a belief that can trickle down into our work, into our families, into our mental health, into our own personal development, and of course into our weight.

We feel terrible when we think we’re not good enough and we see evidence for it all around us in traditions, in sea stories, in history lessons, in current casualties, in statistics and reports.  Now, the problem isn’t that traditions exist and that casualties are a reality of life, not just in the military.  It’s when we think about how not good enough we are by comparing ourselves to them is where the problem is.  I plan on doing an entire episode just on traditions because they fascinate me, but traditions are simply other people’s past and they serve as lessons or information that we can use to help us understand what we’re currently doing or facing.  That’s all.  But using traditions to define what you do and if you’re good enough, is not the point to traditions, in my opinion.  You have to stop judging yourself and, at the same time, take responsibility for your thoughts, for your feelings, and for your actions because that’s the only way you’re going to create the results you want in your life – while you’re serving our country and after when you get out and begin a new chapter in your life.

So, here’s a question I ask of you because it’s one that I asked myself many times when I decided to take full control of my weight and my life.

What’s the point of using all of these tools, especially when it takes so much effort to make a change?  Is this discomfort worth the result you want?  That’s one of the best questions you can ask yourself with anything you’re doing.  Really pay attention to the answer, too.

For me, when I thought about the fact that I could still be bingeing in one year, I almost punched myself in the face.  I was going to be so mad at myself if I was still bingeing a year later because I was in so much pain now that it was hard for me to imagine being in even more pain, but I knew it was a real possibility if I didn’t decide to do something about it now.  Actually, to me, what was worse than more pain was giving up and accepting my current pain as a normal state of being.  So, I decided to change.  I showed up, did the work, and now I’m free from bingeing and overeating and I’m living life thinking about how to serve my military clients and you instead of constantly worrying about how I would feel with or without food.  I am living the life I have wished and prayed about for years.

It starts with literally changing your mind.  It’s hard, otherwise everyone would be living their dream life and no one would have any problems, right?

Change the neural pathway in your head.  Start telling your brain what to think rather than your brain telling you to repeat what it knows how to do.

Until next week, ladies… BE the leader you want to become.  BELIEVE it!

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be coached by a woman who’s been in your military shoes and suffered from weight pain (overweight or at normal weight but still not thinking I was good enough – or a good enough leader), then let’s schedule a time to talk.  Weight pain can be debilitating in more areas than just our physical body, so overcoming it can open up freedom in other areas of your life that you didn’t even know were being affected by the constant calculations, negotiations and judgments that go on in your head about food and your behaviors around food.  CLICK HERE to schedule a call with me so that I can hear what you are going through and how I can help you get out of it.  I can’t wait to talk with you and hear your story.