Losing Weight and Learning to Love Ourselves
We women are so hard on ourselves. I think back at how many times I looked in the mirror and said I am so fat. I HATE my thighs. Or beat myself up for eating that extra helping saying, I have NO willpower and I am so bad. The negative self image was a vicious cycle of self loathing, eating bad food, and then self loathing again. The thoughts, “what the heck is wrong with me? Why can’t I lose weight?” passed through my head all day long.
Our culture is not accepting of women that carry any weight, yet the standard American diet perpetuates obesity. Processed foods are full of chemicals, fat, sugar and salt and our brains are not programmed to be able to handle the man made levels of sweetness and saltiness. They go into hyper drive, releasing dopamine and giving us that rush just like a drug. The only problem is that next time we need more. We then eat more and berate ourselves for not having more willpower.
The only way to stop the cycle is to come from a place of love and acceptance of yourself. So that instead of forcing our bodies to lose weight through weight loss programs or crutches like pills and shakes (trust me, I’ve done it all), we make a change based on wanting to care for the body we have been given. Make a change to better it instead of forcing it and hating it.
So here is how you do that. Stop whatever you are doing right now and think about what you are thankful for. To the top of that list add your body. You only have one. Be grateful for it. Then start to think how can I take care of my one body? How can I FEEL better? Don’t even think about how to force the weight off. Instead of stuffing yourself into jeans that are too small or a dress that doesn’t fit, go out and get just a few things that will make you feel good about yourself right now – even if you think that where you are right now is too heavy. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you are giving in. The key to this is to give you a chance to feel good for a little while. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Ok now that you are feeling ok about yourself in your new dress that is comfortable and fits think about the one feature you LIKE about yourself. This is hard for us women because our eyes automatically go to the place we DON’T like. So think about what you feel pretty good about and play that feature up. For me it’s my arms and back. No matter how hard I work out, genetically by body is programmed to hold on to a bit of weight on my lower half, so instead of forcing myself into teensy shorts, I will wear a flowy, summery skirt and show off my arms that I work very hard at. For you, it could be your eyes or your shoulders, your gorgeous hands, or whatever.
If you can’t think of anything, that is ok. Just start to think about what you do want instead of what you don’t want. Think about how you want to feel not only that you want to be X pounds lighter. And how are you going to get there? For me, when I read the China Study and watched Forks Over Knives then subsequently gave up eating meat and dairy things started to change for me. I was able to let go of the guilt I carried over the environmental impacts of eating meat and the suffering of animals. My body felt lighter,my digestion better, I felt free. I didn’t make the change with the purpose of losing weight, I made the change for my health, and the weight came off later. But you need to do what works for you.
Find that reason to make a change other than to be skinny because that never works. Inevitably it will come back.
Think of youurself as a little child. Would you say the same things to that child that you say to yourself? No! You would never say you are SO fat and disgusting. Instead you would say I love you unconditionally and I want you to be healthy and happy.
Now that we’re coming from this place of love and acceptance think about the changes you can make to better your health. Start looking at the ingredients in food. The goal is to choose foods with one ingredient. Eat less meat, less processed foods, more vegetables and fruits but don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Just get back on the wagon and keep on trucking.
Set boundaries to make time. Say no to working late every night. Try and get to the gym at lunch instead of working through. Put yourself first so in turn, you will be healthy enough to take care of others. I know what you’re thinking, “I know, I know, I’ve heard that before”, but stop and seriously think about that one.
Plan to cook one meal a week, bring your lunch for one meal a week and to take one walk to start and add on from there. Or if you are already doing that think about what next step you could take to make you and your family healthier. Add a bike ride. Clean the pantry and fridge of processed snack foods – chips, Jell-O, Cool Whip, boxed Mac N Cheese, Lunchables…..
For quick snacks are natural almonds, apple and peanut butter, pre-cut fruits and veggies & hummus (you’ll save a lot by not buying processed foods, so if convenience is what you need than splurge on precut produce), non-dairy yogurt, dried fruit, natural granola (read the ingredients), ants on a log (celery stuffed with peanut butter and raisins), salsa.
Want something sweet? Try banana ice cream. Freeze peeled and pre-cut bananas and blend until it becomes a soft serve consistency. Add nuts and dried fruit or some unsweet coconut!
Stock your pantry with cans of beans, grains, nut butters, canned pumpkin and squash, vinegar and olive oil, oatmeal, cinnamon
Stock the freezer with edamame (soy beans – steam them for 15 minutes and add a bit of salt and olive oil), chopped spinach (to add to quesadillas), mixed veggies (to add to whole grain pasta), natural popcorn (yes it’s a whole grain! But check the ingredients.)
Stock the fridge with precut fruits and veggies, non-dairy milk and non-dairy yogurt
Once I learned more about meat proteins it was almost a no brainer. I wasn’t TRYING to lose weight any more; I was cutting out the animal foods to avoid heart disease, cancer and diabetes. There are so many things I CAN eat, which is what I focus on. Truthfully it makes food choices so much easier now. I think of it like the toothpaste aisle. Do we really need 492 choices of toothpaste? No! We maybe could use 3. Regular, whitening and Tom’s and I think we would get by just fine. From there I lost the last weight that I had been trying to lose. There was no forcing my body, no struggle; I don’t even get on the scale any more and I USED to weigh every day and obsess about every half pound. Then I added Mila and began to feel even better than I thought was possible. Even better digestion, I sleep all night, I am off my antidepressants, I have more energy. I always worked out but this even helps my recovery. I’m so thankful to be in a great place right now – don’t get me wrong, I’m not a size 0 and I have my struggles in life, but I have my health and hope for positive things to come in the future.
I promise that if you change the focus and figure out how to come from a place of love and acceptance; figure out what the goal is, the REASON is, other than just wanting to be skinny, you will succeed.