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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Interrupting negative thoughts

Now this tricksy little thing called weight loss has had me baffled for years. I've watched it go off (sometimes with tears) and (with even more tears) watched it creep back on again. Why the hell isn't the healthy eating and exercise thing working? Answer: because those even tricksier things called emotions get in the way. 
Chances are if you are overweight, there is something going on that we are trying to "solve" with food. For the certain cynics out there who think this emotional stuff is a bit fluffy, I know it sounds a bit far fetched but bear with me. The fact you are reading this might suggest you have struggled (like me) with weight in the past so what the hell have we got to lose I say. Yes it might be a bit fluffy or a bit uncomfortable, but it's no way more uncomfortable than having a pair of jeans that fit a month ago and are now digging into a roly poly tummy, right? Exactly. 
Now I'm not going to go into all the details of Rodger Gould's method (shrinkyourself.com) as that's probably copywrite or something, but what I can give you are the moments I overeat as examples of the different types of thinking this approach gives you. 


So... here is me talking to myself:

Abby: I'm going to read a blog online

Abby's head: Ooh yes let's read that fancy http://www.thelondoner.me/ blog that we love
Abby: Ooh she's so gorgeous and pretty and slim and rich and well dressed and well travelled and she loves food... she can even cook and write and........make things.
Abby's head: I feel a bit shit now
Abby: Me too. I'm not as good as her and I probably never will be
Abby's head: It's not fair. I don't know about you but I need cheering up. How about a biscuit?
Abby: And cake. 

And so it goes- me and my head get ourselves so down and depressed about something that we think the only way to make ourselves feel better is eating something yummy. If we were being good on our diets we sure as shit aren't now. This would be where a week of healthy eating and exercise goes out the window. 

Then the conversation probably carries on something like this:

Abby's head: That wasn't very good was it? Think about all that work we did to try and lose weight. Now we've blown it. 

Abby: I know. I feel even worse now.
Abby's head: Me too. I can never do anything right.
Abby: Fuck it let's get more cake. 

So in moments like this we have "blown" our diet, but not because of lack of will power or because we are weak, but because of something happening which causes our silly self doubts to go into overdrive. Food then becomes not something lovely to fill our hungry bellies, but something more like a friend to comfort us. We feel powerless in some way, and the only escape (for me, mostly for me from my own negative thoughts) would be a jar of peanut butter!
So in this instance, I am learning to interrupt this internal conversation, so it goes a bit more like this:

Abby: I'm going to read a blog online
Abby's head: Ooh yes let's read that fancy http://www.thelondoner.me/ blog that we love
Abby: Ooh she's so gorgeous and pretty and slim and rich and well dressed and well travelled and she loves food... she can even cook and write and........make things.
Abby's head: I feel a bit shit now
Abby: Well don't feel shit - we've got a lot of good things about us you know. She is thin and gorgeous and rich and everything you said - but we've all got good things about us.
Abby's head: Like what?
Abby: Well, our job's pretty great, we've got lots of lovely friends, and some really hot dresses from Joy which look awesome. 
Abby's head: I suppose.
Abby: Still feel shit?
Abby's head: A bit... not as much as before though.
Abby: Why don't we do something nice like go swimming or see a friend instead of feeling sorry for ourselves instead of eating that cake?
Abby's head: Yayy swimming

So this is obviously at a really basic level- but the whole premise of this system seems to be catching negative thoughts when they arise, and turning them around so we have a more realistic and positive view of a situation.

Don't get me wrong, it takes work and practise - but have a go, next time you catch yourself suddenly wanting to eat something unhealthy, try and step back, figure out if something is going on underneath the desire for a pack of cream cakes. 


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