In my coaching practice in my own experience, I have seen time and time again that a journey to a healthy sustainable weight and relationship with food begins with one thing: self-love.
One of my clients recently shared that a personal trainer once had said to her, “When will you be sick enough of yourself to start exercising?” Frankly, if I had heard these years ago when my emotional eating was at its worst, I would have agreed. Nowadays, I recognize where such statement can lead people to paths of suffering. The statement reflects a big misconception in the diets and beliefs out in the world today - that we must HATE ourselves, PUNISH ourselves, and SUFFER in order to make positive change for ourselves.
In my own experience, I have found that type of restriction led to my own binging. Even if I was successful in the short-term, one slip up in a well-intentioned diet plan would then become a method of self-judgment and punishment. The voice of the “Perfectionist” would take me through variations of “You’re not good enough” - “You have no self-control,” “You will always be fat…,” and so on. It was an addictive process – because if you’re “never good enough” you will always have something to work on even if/when you reach your end goal. According to that voice, there is ALWAYS more to be had. For me, that looked like finishing a 3-month weightloss program or 2 week diet, then burning out, and beating myself up for being to weak to stick to it. No matter what size my body was because I was using force and self-hatred to “motivate” myself, I would still feel that way when I reached the goal.
The truth is it’s not just about the food. The journey to sustainable change is both inward and outward shift. Perhaps you’ve heard of people who’ve lost a significant amount of weight but then never felt “thin” on the inside. After a few months, they found themselves back in the same place as before, but this time with the story that they’ve failed and with the fear of trying again.
We are what we continually practice. No amount of hating yourself will bring you the confidence and inner peace you are looking for. After all, hate begets hate, and love begets love.
So if your previous methods have not worked, what about trying it a different way? What if in this round you loved yourself to thin or to your ideal health? (This doesn’t just apply to weight loss, it can apply to careers, finding a relationship, etc.) What if making healthy food choices or exercising was an act of self-love and nurturance rather than a method of self-judgment? What if you celebrated the things that you did well? What if you had compassion and understanding for yourself when you “slipped up,” took that as learning for next time, and continued forward no matter what? (Trust me, these moments are our biggest opportunities for growth). How would this shift and change your experiences?
These are just some of the shifts I am grateful to witness and guide my clients through in our Food & Body Love Program.
After all, you only have one life to live.