Overcoming overeating - 6 steps to ending your body struggles
Summer is over. You’ve been on your summer holiday and felt pretty rubbish about not looking great in your swimsuit. You felt fat and unattractive at the beach and then, add a layer of guilt on top of that for not getting yourself beach ready, yet again. It’s a horrible place to be. You don’t want that feeling again. In fact, even the thought of next year’s holiday fills you with dread. Did your feeling miserable about yourself almost ruin your holiday? It is possible to feel different about your body, next year could be a whole different story.
We place massive expectations on ourselves to have the perfect holiday body, or at least feel OK about our bodies being on show. Often it’s a last minute panic involving a ridiculous and unsustainable crash diet combined with a crazy exercise regime. Does this really work? If you are one of the few who achieved body confidence this summer, then congratulations! If you are still reading this, then chances are you are one of the many who didn’t.
We live in a society where we are bombarded with images of celebrities looking gorgeous. A ‘shame’ culture has evolved, whereby if we don’t live up to these highly unrealistic comparisons, we feel rubbish about ourselves. The awful irony is the worse we feel about ourselves, the more we turn to food to comfort ourselves.
Now, the therapist in me, really wants to say the answer is self-acceptance and it doesn’t matter what you look like. However, this is not the answer for most, at least not straight away. So what can we do?
True, sustained weight loss is an inside job. We need to be looking at our habits around food and why they are there, in order to change them and lose the weight for good.
Maybe there is a different way...
Here are my six tips to gain control of your eating and weight:
1. Notice when you are eating
Start to pay attention to when and what you are eating. Really be present with it. What’s motivating the desire for chocolate? Had a difficult conversation at work? Feeling overwhelmed? Angry? Anxious? Identify the feeling behind the hunger, in other words ask yourself, “what am I really hungry for?”. In starting to develop an awareness of what we overeat, we are taking the first step to manage it and look at alternatives.
2. Keep a food diary with a difference
Forget slimming clubs calorie tracking. Start to write down when you are overeating and what feeling is triggering it. Do this for a week and you will start to become very aware of your patterns. You can start preparing for your moments of weakness if you know what causes them.
3. Get help with the underlying stuff
What is your predominant eating trigger? If it’s sadness, why are you feeling sad and what can you do to help yourself? It may be a combination of things. These feelings won’t go away by themselves and stuffing them down with food isn’t helping. Consider talking to a friend or therapist if you are feeling alone in this.
4. Be clear and realistic about what you want
Write down what you want to achieve and make it as clear and detailed as possible. Do you want to be a certain clothes size? Get into a particular pair of jeans? See a specific amount on the scales? Think about why you want this and be realistic – is it really possible to weigh the same as when you were 18? A one to two pound loss a week is realistic.
5. Visualise how you want to be
Create a vivid image in your mind of what you want to achieve. What will you look like in the mirror? How will you stand? What will your friends say to you? How will you feel in a nice new dress? Making this image as real as possible and visualise this often.
6. Start making changes
Now you know why you are overeating and can see a clear future for yourself, start to make the changes necessary. Evaluate what has and hasn’t worked before. If the 5:2 diet left you hungry and grumpy, why would you attempt it again?
Hypnosis is a wonderful tool to help you to manage cravings and the desire to overeat and snack. Combined with the work on underlying reasons for overeating, hypnosis can help you to undo a lifetime of poor habits and create new, desirable ones. Tapping into the subconscious mind bypasses our rational mind or ‘monkey mind’ and can produce incredible changes without us having to try too hard. What you do need is the intention to change.
Taking these steps can help you to start making long terms changes to lose weight and feel better about your body. Would you like to avoid those same feelings about your body next summer? Wouldn’t it be great to be free of that pre-holiday dread?
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