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Monday, 24 February 2014

The Role of Pleasure in Weight Loss (yes, you heard correctly)

I may have stumbled on something that could be truly revolutionary for me (and hopefully you!) in terms of weight loss and getting the body you really want. No, strike that - getting the life you really want (the body comes as a pleasant side affect). 
Surely this sounds a bit too good to be true? Well, after doing some reading, I have found a few women (see here and here) who have enjoyed successful weight loss (not to mention all their clients too) through adding pleasure to their lives. No dieting, no weighing, no obsessive exercise, just finding ways to alleviate their daily stress by doing things they truly love and activities which set their hearts alight.

Fantastic! But wait... what does set my heart alight? I'm afraid I've become so focused on food, weight loss, work and all the "should dos" in my life, I've lost sight of what I truly love and the things which give me genuine happiness. I see my friends, yep... go on the occasional holiday when I can get it... check... enjoy spending time with my boyfriend, absolutely! But what do I actually do with my time? Nothing. Nothing is the answer. I get up, go to work, come home (late), eat a standard meal, watch TV and go to bed. Then I'm pretty much so knackered I sleep all weekend, seeing the occasional friend if I'm not so pressed for time or sapped of energy that I don't cancel. THAT's my weekly existence?? No wonder I'm feeling quite uninspired by life. 
But how the hell do we find out what drives us? How do we turn our grey, somewhat dull lives into something truly amazing that makes us excited to get up in the morning (and bypass the fridge?) 
Apparently there's a little trick for that too: ask yourself "why do you want to lose weight"?
Erm, hello? To look bloody brilliant in my bikini this Summer? To FINALLY be able to eat cake and be slim? To feel confident and sexy wearing anything? 
Ah, but apparently it goes deeper than that. Besides the amazing figure, the feeling of accomplishment and that flat stomach, what else is there? 
And herein lies the key to our success. The nugget, the jewel, the holy grail (I hope) of getting the body we deserve and want: emotional eating and excess weight on our bodies are unrealised desires, unreached dreams, un-had happiness, frustrations which are never resolved and unmet needs. When we say we want to be thin, what we actually mean is we want to be happy.  
When I started to explore this new concept, it actually threw up some very interesting things for me. My idea of being slim was actually very little about weight loss or my figure. When I pictured the 'thin me' that I had been chasing for so long, when I looked (and I mean really looked) she was beautiful because she was so.... relaxed. She was happy, smiling, confident and free. She spent time in the garden, and outdoors. She had her own emotional eating/coaching centre and helped women lose weight kindly and for good. The more I looked, and the more I explored I suddenly got very excited. She would have lots of free time for herself, and do things like yoga! She would live in a hot country and not in a city! She would never work in advertising!
Then I got scared. The image of the ideal (read: thin) me was so far removed from how I see myself and my life now that I suddenly freaked out that I was either never going to have that life or I'd have to make such drastic changes that I'd have to quit my job, move countries and who knows what else to do it. How was I going to do all these things? How could I make these things happen? What could I do today to get this life that I never even realised I wanted so badly?
So here I am today. Instead of asking my brain 'how can I get thin?' I am asking myself how I can feel more relaxed about life, how I can start my own business helping people get the life they truly want, how I can spend more time outdoors and do things which I truly love to do. 
I may not have all the answers just yet, but I finally feel like I am at last asking the right questions. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Why are we so afraid to say "no"?

I'm sweating, my heart is racing, each sharp breath is shallow and rasping and my chest feels tight. Firing out emails I'm in a race to get the latest project out at work which is delayed again.
I think back to that moment when a client told me - 'it needs to be ready by end Feb'. I knew in my gut this was too tight. I just knew it. But I didn't say anything. I said "ok". Why? My own misplaced desire to please people.
In the world of emotional eating, the word "no" can fill you with fear. Fear of rejection, fear of anger, fear of not delivering everything you think people expect of you. Fear of not being loved. So we say "yes". "Yes" to working late, "yes" to putting ourselves last, "yes" to a life of anxiety and worry at best, misery and depression at worst. Not to mention a bulging waistline.
Co-dependent behaviour like this is a coping mechanism many of us employ daily as a way of getting our needs for love, acceptance, and belonging met. But it's a harmful one we'd do better without.
Sound complicated? It is, kind of.
Simply put - if you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or stretched too thin, it's probably because you (like me and many of us out there) are afraid of saying one little word that we ourselves load with meaning.

Just imagine it. Right now, picture saying "no" to your boss. "No" I can't work late, "no" I can't make that deadline... Or to your Mother perhaps? "no" I'm not coming round this weekend... "no" I'm not going to follow your advice... Or is it the idea of saying "no" to your boyfriend which makes you jumpy? How about "no" to a girlfriend? Even saying "no" to your child,  father,  sister, or the next door neighbour's gerbil can put the willies up some of us. 
So why is it that some people can seem to whistle through life unconcerned, or seemingly unaware, unbothered by the affect of their own actions on people? (I'm thinking of one of my good friends in particular as I type this). The good friend I refer to has his own agenda, his own needs, his own boundaries - and by gum he attends to them. He books a holiday when he wants, he travels where he wants, says he's too tired when he's too tired, says so when he simply doesn't want to go out, explains confidently and without abash when he is pissed off and always speaks his mind. 
If I did any of these things, I would be so worried about what everyone thought of me and how they were going to react that I would either just plain not do it, or I'd feel terrible if I did somehow summon up the courage. So why is it then that this man is my friend? If he was such an arsehole I would surely want to steer well clear. How is it that what I actually admire in this man (the ability to meet his own needs with such confidence) I simply cannot do without a shed load of guilt? I shall tell you why (or what I believe to be the reason) - thought patterns.

My friend's thought pattern: I want to go home because I am tired. 
My friend's behaviour: He goes home.
My friend is satisfied.

My thought pattern: I want to go home because I am tired (but I can't go home because all my work isn't done! Everyone will think I am a slacker! I don't deserve to go home! I am a worthless pile of crap!
My behaviour: I stay at work feeling tired and awful, or go home and feel guilty and moody (and take it out on my boyfriend to boot).
I am not satisfied, I'm tired, overworked, resentful and feel guilty.

It seems so simple, but most of the time these negative/irrational thought patterns are going on under the surface. All that we do notice are the harmful behaviours or nasty feelings as a result of this (staying late, feeling angry, anxious, stressed, overeating, alcoholism, smoking to name a few). 

The trick to overcoming these harmful behaviours is to understand the harmful thoughts we have going on underneath, and to learn ways to challenge them (and challenge them and challenge them) until eventually they go away for good. The more we can get to grips with what harmful crap we are telling ourselves about saying "no" to people, the sooner our lives become more like my beloved friend's life - confident, satisfied and free from co-dependent or harmful behaviours. 

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