Love your body this summer!
One of my sports performance clients recently told me ‘I train hard because I love my body.’
I found this concept very interesting, as for most of us it is dissatisfaction with our bodies that motivates us to want to change our diet and shape up for summer. Unfortunately when our willpower inevitably fails and we give in to our habits, we are left resenting our bodies even more.
Beating ourselves up is not the way to beat our habits. Habits are hard to break for a good reason. They are our tried and tested responses to needs. They have all at some point served a purpose in our life that made it easier: getting through that mid-morning slump with a cup of coffee, switching off instantly with that first sip of wine on a Friday evening, bonding with colleagues over chocolate biscuits. No amount of self-bullying is going to convince your brain to abandon these for any length of time. So what’s the solution? To pay more attention to your habits, not less.
As any nutritionist will tell you, modern living has resulted in so many of us losing the ability to listen to what our bodies are actually asking for. Quick fixes of refined carbohydrates leave us in a constant state of craving that many of us try to shut up with low fat, sugar-free substitutes. So the first step is to eat and drink more. More nuts, seeds, vegetables, fish and water. Just to make sure that what you’re craving isn’t just food!
Now if you still can’t say no to chocolate cake, then it’s time to get personal. As soon as you notice a craving (the desire to act on your habit), take a deep, slow breath and ask yourself what need it is serving. You may need to ask a few times. Do any thoughts, memories or emotions spring to mind? How does it make you feel or what is it preventing you from feeling? The answers can be anything from simply ‘stopping me from falling asleep at this boring party’ to something much deeper like ‘no one is interested in what I have to say about anything here.’
Once you identify the need you are soothing with food or drink, you can then decide what you want to do to satisfy it. The answer may still be chocolate cake, but is there another fix within your power? One that says ‘I am listening because I love my body.’ Every time you make a conscious choice either way, you are retraining your brain and you would be amazed at how quickly it responds. Give it a try for just a week and see the potential for a better summer!
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