6 Ways To Love Your Body Into Shape
Words / Melissa Podmore
If you are unhappy with your current weight or state of health, and not making any changes, then I am here to help.
Your future wise self should not be about pushing you into a body shape that is super skinny or against your natural tendency — that is abusive. Rather, the process should be about knowing what your true beautiful shape is and embracing this with gratitude.
Why “diets” fail
By now, you would have heard that the number-one rule/tip/mantra/bumper sticker (or even tattoo, if you’re so inclined) for losing weight is, “Diets don’t work!”
Here are the two major reasons why:
- Dieting sets up a psychological state of deprivation and control, and both of these states create biochemical stress in the body and distress in the mind. When you are dieting, you are focusing on what you can’t have, and this leads to restrictive and obsessional thinking, which is actually very toxic for your mind, nervous system and happiness. Dieting sets you up for a war inside yourself and often leaves you hungry and in a battle with your body.
- Diets lead to bingeing and blow-outs, which make you gain This deprivation leads quickly to a low mood and agitation and, when you inevitably “fail” by breaking the diet, you then turn against yourself, getting caught up in anger and frustration, which often cycle into further dieting/restricting, failing, further self-attack.
How to love — not punish — your body into shape
So, if your future self is a healthy expression of your shape, and that involves weight loss, how do you make it happen? You can work towards a healthy weight using the following psychological tips.
Avoid food labelling
One destructive psychological pattern that usually occurs when we diet is we begin to label food as “good” and “bad”. This is dangerous because, when we eat food we have identified as good or bad, our minds then internalise this behaviour and we become good or bad.
Remember, food does not have a personality!
Lettuce is not good — it’s just lettuce.
Similarly, a Mars Bar is not bad. Yet we often give away our power to food in this way, which means we then lose our centredness and the food starts to control us. The best way to avoid this pattern is to simply stop banning any foods (Mars Bars included) and stop labelling foods as “good” or “bad”. Instead, it’s more helpful to identify foods as “every day” and “sometimes” foods. Notice how these words are much less emotive and more neutral, and don’t lead to self-attacking inclinations.
Reduce the seductiveness
When you stop banning certain foods, you allow the mind to start reducing the seductiveness of the foods you have fixated on. For example, if you are craving a Tim Tam, it’s much more effective to say to yourself, “OK, yes you can have a Tim Tam. But do you really need it, want it, feel like it right now?” It disarms any inner warfare by giving total permission to the individual while increasing your inner conscious awareness around the behaviour, breaking the habit of unconscious, emotional, non-hungry or mindless eating.
If the Tim Tam is still lingering in your mind, then access your wisdom: “Is this really what I need right now? Or is there something else going on with me that I am ignoring by focusing on a Tim Tam, such as boredom, loneliness, frustration or merely old habits?”
Whatever you do to interrupt and break the reactive cycle of emotional or non-hungry eating will effectively weaken the cycle and boost your self-empowerment. This will enable you to successfully retrain your mind and body.
Never skip breakfast — or lunch
It’s paramount to not skip either breakfast or lunch — and that doesn’t mean just grabbing a muffin. Make your food choices smart and nutritious; this is a form of self-awareness and self-love. If you are not hungry in the morning, consider the lateness and quantity you ate the night before. For many people who struggle with breakfast, their morning appetite only arises after exercise, so fit in that morning walk or yoga before brekkie if at all possible. Similarly, if lunch is a struggle, consider whether you’re over-snacking between meals out of habit.
Skipping either of these meals doesn’t only affect your metabolism — it can also affect your mood, lead to low energy as well as poor concentration and decision making, and set up unhealthy patterns whereby you overcompensate later in the day or out of convenience choose foods that are not as optimal or nourishing.
Watch your mood
Most of us don’t realise how significantly food affects mood; however, if you look at a bunch of five-year-olds at a party, it all becomes pretty clear! To avoid dramatic peaks and troughs, it’s important to add protein to each meal and increase foods that are low in sugar or additives. Protein helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels so you feel calmer and more satisfied (remember, there are many vegetarian forms of protein available). In contrast, eating a lot of sugar, fruit juice and even too much fruit will all aggravate any underlying anxiety by destabilising your blood sugar, and also not fill you up.
Don’t ban carbs
Carbohydrates are not evil. In fact, complex carbs (those found in fibre-rich foods such as unrefined grains, wholemeal breads, vegetables and fruits) are what create the building blocks to serotonin, the neurotransmitter in the brain that helps us be positive and happy. This is why if you’ve ever been on a low-carb diet you start to notice that you feel pretty cranky and down fairly quickly. Additionally, having healthy levels of serotonin in the brain not only reduces anxiety and low mood but also can curb cravings and regulate appetite. You just have to focus on smart complex carb choices. So do your research and get sorted!
Be aware of liquid foods
We often take in many calories from coffee (especially lattes and cappuccinos), fruit juices, soft drinks and alcohol that we don’t psychologically register as food. While counting calories is unnecessary and creates obsession, you do need to be aware that all these liquids will increase your overall energy intake for the day and will need to be “burnt off” if you wish to stabilise your weight or trim your waistline. Be aware, too, that coffee will elevate your adrenaline, which is contraindicated for anyone struggling with stress, anxiety or insomnia. In addition, recent research has found that even “diet” soft drinks actually make people gain weight.
So, when choosing your beverages, go for natural sparkling mineral waters with a dash of lemon, or herbal teas. And, instead of fruit juice, grab a whole piece of fruit. That way, you gain the benefit of all the fibre.
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