We hear a lot of noise in the media about weight loss which focuses primarily on diet and exercise. There’s always some new trendy diet or workout that promises better results, but really has it changed our obesity epidemic? NO! Not only have we, as a society, continued to gain weight, but we’ve also become more stressed, depressed, and fatigued! In July 2017 opioid addiction (pain relievers) was cited as the “FDA’s biggest crisis” with prescription pain reliever overdose deaths among women increasing more than 400% from 1999 to 2010, compared to 237% among men.
As a Mindfulness Based Weight Loss Coach with a Masters Degree in Health Educator, it’s my responsibility to make connections, raise questions, and inspire healthy behavior.
What we stress about takes a heavy weight on our health, relationships, & happiness.
Stress is a major contributor to diet sabotage because we create tension in our relationship with our most important partner…….OUR BODY!
I used to be worried all the time. Anxious about making enough money, being enough at work, finding love, my parents health, the perfect home, and the ongoing quest to be thin. My mind was always racing and I never thought there was anything wrong with that. Busy was normal for me. Eventually my body started to burn out. I was overweight, tired, and with chronic back pain.
Doctors diagnosed my back pain as anxiety and treated me with antidepressants. I took it a step further and self-medicated with food and alcohol because I still liked their effect. My weight ballooned even more and I became depressed.
Up until then, which was when I was about 30 (7 years ago), I had no idea what anxiety was or that it could effect your body in such an uncomfortable way. I hadn’t made that connection that my compulsive overeating, binging, yo-yo dieting, weight gain, alcohol abuse, and over-sensitivity we’re all stress-related.
Stress influences our eating behavior. Bingeing or mindless snacking are both forms of overeating driven by our emotions and can lead to guilt, shame, and even more stress.
On the other hand, some of us skip meals entirely when we’re stressed and feel guilty when we do nourish ourselves.
Either way, we may notice fat creeping up around our waistline. A symptom of hormone imbalance and chronic stress.
When we’re stressed, our body goes into a fight or flight response. Our digestion and immune systems get compensated and we start to gain weight and get sick. Disease.
What I see online is a lot of treating the symptoms of stress. Lose belly fat with this diet or workout. It may work as a quick fix for a few months if we’re able to fully commit to the extreme guidelines. However, when life gets too tough or we get too comfortable we find ourselves back in our old unhealthy habits.
What needs more attention is our emotional and mental health. I don’t know about you…..but I was never taught this in school.
My favorite author Brene Brown writes in her latest book Braving the Wilderness, “When we own our emotions we can find our way through the pain. When we don’t then the emotion owns us.”
Emotions or Energy in Motion can create stress when we’re not willing to process them. In Eating Psychology we refer to this as the Emotional Metabolism.
Most of us know how to be healthy but when we get overwhelmed and stressed we tend to make poor choices. We don’t have the coping mechanisms to nourish our emotional and mental well being. We drop our self-care practices and start running on fumes. It’s simply not sustainable.
Processed food is cheap and easy. Fast food is on every frickin’ corner. Doctors are prescribing painkillers more than ever. These substances are designed to activate the reward system in our brains to feel good and crave more. It’s the perfect breeding grounds for addiction in a highly stressed society.
Restrictive dieting keeps us in an extreme cycle of losses and gains. An emotional rollercoaster.
There is a middle path that empowers us to feel confident in our bodies.
Have you heard you can lose weight on the Mindfulness Diet? Meditation, Mindfulness, and Yoga are proving to be more and more effective for weight management than dieting. Whereas dieting can add to our stress, mindfulness empowers us to tune in to our body’s wisdom for nourishment. The natural hunger cues that help guide us to making healthy choices. I know first hand from my own experience. My clients and I have lost weight and sustained it without even trying! I’m doing on free online workshop on it in my Facebook Group BODY BLISS ENTHUSIASTS on wednesday September 20th at 8pm PST.
Self-care is practicing mental and emotional fitness. As someone who suffered from anxiety and stress related health issues, I’ve practiced them as a way of prevention. They’re exercises I’ve put together based on my experience with Eating Psychology, Yoga, and Mindfulness. Next time you notice yourself engaging in stress eating behavior….pause and try these natural tension relievers.
- Ask Yourself, “What do I know to be true?”
What is our truth? How often do we ask ourselves that? We often don’t know the answer to that question because we’re too busy focused on our external world. When we’re easily distracted by our outer world, we can lose faith in ourselves. We can’t hear our authentic inner wisdom.
Deep down inside, we know who we are. When we can pause, breathe, and be still with ourselves, we can ask that question: “What is my truth?” Well, my truth is, nobody’s perfect. I know that. So behind every perfect-looking photo on social media, I know that there’s sweat, pain, and tears in every person’s story. We only ever get little glimpses of it. That’s all.
When we get aligned with our truth we feel more confident to make choices that are congruent with our values. We feel more energized and alive. We become stressed when we make decisions that are not congruent with what we know to be true.
- Drop the Drama.
A practice like Yoga is an opportunity to do that attunement where we can connect with our truth. Once we are anchored into our truth, the next step is to let go of whatever is not in alignment with what we value.
My yoga teacher recently shared how she was in a car accident and how in that flash of a moment nothing else mattered but her life and her family. It shifted everything into perspective. Focus on what really brings you value and drop the rest.
Shavasana is a pose in yoga that we use to feel what it’s like to “let go” – surrender – drop the drama. If we choose to stay in these stories of worry only leads to more anxiety and stress. It’s a practice where some days it feels constant! With enough practice it gets easier and easier manage our emotions even when life is constantly challenging us.
- Get Curious about Places of Resistance.
Now that we’re getting more in tune with the stress, we can get curious about areas in which we’re feeling challenged. Because not dealing with the problem ain’t gonna to make it go away. At some point, we have to be able to confront it.
Everything, in some way, something to teach us. Even stress has something to teach us. Something my yoga teacher taught me is that pain is our guru. So if we get a craving, if we’re feeling like we’re being pushed to a point of discomfort, instead of shutting down or worrying about it…… get curious!
In a childlike way.
Have you ever seen kids when they’re out and about? Everything is a wonder to them. Every single moment is unfolding so magically.
We lose that sense of wonder as we grow up. We might feel like the things we perceive as stress are an attack, something that happened to us. Let’s try to look at it differently. Perhaps it’s a gift. Because of this discomfort, we can learn something new about ourselves that can help us grow.
- Take Bold, Intelligent, Inspired Action.
These four steps that I’ve outlined are about anchoring into who we are authentically and knowing that we are loved and whole. With that sense of security, we have freedom. We do not need to hold ourselves back. We do not need permission to take care of ourselves. We don’t need permission to reach for our goals or follow our dreams. We don’t need any of that.
Just do it.
I know there’s that fear of “Well, what if I fail?” However, staying comfortable will eventually cause tension. We’re designed to evolve. Our spirit wants to expand and staying small will eventually cause stress because we’re not congruent with our nature.
Feel that fear and do it anyway. It’s as if a weight lifts off of your shoulders because the emotional weight that we carry from restricting ourselves has a way of physically manifesting in our bodies. It becomes stagnant energy in our bodies…fat. Fat is basically unprocessed energy. It’s energy that’s waiting to be used.
We have to change our story. When it comes to stress, we have a choice. This is where our power & potential lie.
I hope this was helpful for you. This is what I’m passionate about. This is my truth – approaching our bodies in terms of not just weight loss and body transformation, but also healing. More than anything, it’s about taking care of yourself – committing to yourself, loving yourself, and feeling GOOD about yourself. If you’re interested in learning more about navigating this in your own world, feel free to reach out to me. I do breakthrough sessions in which we spend about 45 minutes diving into this stuff a lot more and brainstorming how we can overcome these challenges in your own life. Click HERE to schedule your appointment.