This is really important for you to know: Even though I’ve been doing great on this 90 Day Practice Project, it’s not without its daily need for thought work. You might think this must be really easy for me because I am a coach. Well, it’s not. I think thoughts just like you. And just like you, some thoughts serve me and some thoughts don’t.
These are the thoughts I heard myself saying in my head this week:
I miss toast and butter. (wheat & dairy)
I miss Parmesan cheese. (dairy)
I miss my favorite chocolate bar. (wheat, dairy, and sugar)
Here’s the truth: I miss the taste, but I don’t miss the consequences.
When you think thoughts like the ones that popped into my mind this week, I invite you to really break them down.
If you choose to go ahead and eat that, what are the consequences of taking that action?
Weight gain (or the prevention of weight loss)?
If you say you want something, what you’re really saying is that you want the end result, but most people don’t think that way. They only think about the thing they want in the moment and not the result that comes after.
I invite you to start looking at the bigger picture and telling yourself the truth.
When you start hearing your mind trying to talk you into eating or drinking something your body doesn’t like or need, I invite you to immediately think of the consequence you’re going to experience afterwards. Once you have that in your mind, I invite you to replace the initial “want” with the consequence of that want. And then say it out loud to yourself.
Why out loud? Because hearing yourself say the truth can be enough to stop you from following through with that action without any drama. For example:
“I want an ice cream cone” becomes “I want gas and bloating.”
“I want a second (or third) cupcake,” becomes “I want to stay at my current weight or go higher.”
Does your perception change when you look at it this way?
Do yourself a huge favor and stop telling yourself you want something you ultimately don’t want.
The thoughts “I miss it” or “I want it” will drive you to eat it.
The thoughts “I don’t miss the results I get from eating that” or “I don’t want that result” will drive you to skip it.
What do you want more? Immediate gratification? Or long-term results?
If it’s long-term results you want, tell yourself the truth about the choice you’re about to make, and then follow through with the action that serves your highest good.
I’m a little late with this week’s update because I was out of town for a coaching conference. I really wanted to take my time writing a quality blog post rather than churning one out quickly just to post it on time. I learned a lot while I was away, and I want to share those lessons with you so that when you find yourself in similar situations, you can have a plan.
The first lesson is: You don’t have to eat when other people are eating.
The day before the conference started, I was spending some time with two of my colleagues taking in the beauty of San Diego. It was lunchtime and one of my colleagues wanted to order food at this fish fry place at the end of the pier. I was not feeling it at all and chose not to order anything. The three of us sat together under an umbrella and enjoyed each other’s company while she ate her mahi-mahi plate and my other colleague sipped on a green juice she brought with her.
There were no thoughts of, “I should order something so she won’t be eating alone.” Why should I make myself uncomfortable trying to manage my worry of her being uncomfortable? For the record, I wasn’t worried about her feelings of eating alone, and she wasn’t uncomfortable—she was enjoying her lunch in the company of good friends. But even if she were feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable, it is not my job to change my actions to manage her feelings. She is in charge of her feelings and I am in charge of mine.
Later, as we walked around the little town of Imperial Beach, I came across a delightful taco place and now I was ready to order my lunch. I got my food to go and met my friends over at a coffee & cupcake place where they were ordering some lattes. I sat and ate my yummy tacos while they sipped on their coffee drinks. I felt no weirdness that I was eating and they were not. I was taking care of myself and enjoyed every bite.
The take-away here is that if your body is not hungry, or you’re not feeling the food options at the moment, you do not have to eat just because other people are eating. It’s also okay to eat when you are hungry, even if others aren’t eating. There is no shame in taking care of yourself and meeting your own needs.
The second lesson I learned on my travels is: If you’re going to choose fun food, savor the whole experience!
With a few exceptions, for the most part I stuck with my practice of no wheat, dairy, or sugar while on my trip… except when it came to a bacon-peanut butter-chocolate chip cookie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that another colleague and I saw on the menu the first night at the hotel. Our eyes kind of popped out of our heads as we read the description. We didn’t order it that night, but we decided to split one on the last day of the conference. We planned for this treat well in advance so it was not an instant gratification choice to be regretted later. We got to enjoy the anticipation leading up to the day we got to enjoy it for real. Honestly, that was part of the fun!
Once it arrived and was placed on the table between us, I took in the smell of the freshly baked cookie before I even took a bite. It was heavenly! Once I actually tasted it though, I found it to be cloyingly sweet. Remember, I’ve been off processed sugar for 6 weeks, so my taste buds had adjusted. I continued to have a few more bites, but I abandoned it part way through and didn’t finish my half of the dessert. I had gotten all the joy out of it that I could, and I was done. Finishing it could not have given me more joy in this experience. In fact, it probably would have negated my joy because I would have felt physically awful afterwards.
The take-away here is that there’s more joy to be had than just the action of eating a treat. The delight in reading the menu description; the making a plan with my colleague to have it on the last day; the anticipation and excitement of sharing it with her; the delicious aroma right out of the oven. Now that I look back, actually eating the dessert was my least favorite part of the experience! Wow. That is profound. It’s making me think of fun foods in a whole new way. I love it when that happens!
Hopefully these take-aways will help you look at food and eating differently than you do now. Know that it’s okay to not eat when others are eating if you are not hungry, and it’s also okay to take care of yourself even if others aren’t eating. Know that there’s more to joy to be had when planning out a treat, and that there is not more joy to be had in finishing a treat than in stopping midway through when you are no longer enjoying the experience.
One last thing: It’s okay to leave food on your plate.
Many people eat all the food on their plates because they paid for it. As if eating it all somehow has more value.
Yes, I agree you paid for the food on the plate, but if your body is full, where is the value in stuffing your fat stores with food your body doesn’t need?
Sometimes the best value is letting the waiter take your unfinished plate away.
This is YOU valuing yourself and your body, which is something money can’t buy.
So, I’m walking through Trader Joe’s and suddenly I feel a strong urge to buy ALL THE THINGS!
Seriously, everything on the shelves and in the freezer cases was looking good to me—even the stuff I don’t like.
And of course, everything I wanted contained dairy, wheat, or sugar—or some combination of the very ingredients I decided not to eat for my 90 day experiment.
What the heck is going on here?
I pulled over next to an end-cap out of the flow of aisle traffic, and I checked in with myself by asking this question:
“What is it that I am really wanting here?”
The answer was so quick and so clear.
Variety. I wanted variety.
My very next question I asked was this:
“How can I have variety and keep my commitment at the same time?”
That answer was also very quick and very clear: Mexican food.
I left Trader Joe’s empty-handed and drove a few blocks down to a local taqueria. I ordered a plate lunch, asking them to hold the cheese and sour cream.
The next day I went to a Mediterranean place and picked up a gyros plate with a side salad for lunch, hold the pita bread.
The day after that, I bought some BBQ and coleslaw for dinner from a food truck, hold the roll.
And yesterday, I enjoyed an authentic Italian meal of fresh seafood, arugula salad, artichokes, olives, and beans. I chose to skip the breadbasket on the table and a cappuccino when it was offered at the end of the meal.
Adding in some different types of foods this week really did the trick! I was able to satisfy my desire for variety while staying true to my commitment to myself.
I think the reason why the desire for variety was so strong is because I had gotten into kind of a food rut. I was making most of my food at home and got used to buying the same items every time I went to the store. This is proof that with enough practice, your brain eventually goes on autopilot.
Before I started this project, my brain was used to buying cheese and bread every week. This new change in food choices has served me health-wise, but I learned from my crazed moment in Trader Joe’s of wanting to buy ALL THE THINGS that this new autopilot setting was a bit too monotonous. This was good information for me to know. It only took a minute to check in with myself right there in the store, and it stopped me from following through with a momentary urge that I would have regretted later.
How can you apply this week’s lesson to your own life?
If you’ve made a commitment to yourself and you notice yourself wanting to break it, stop for a minute and check in with yourself to find out why. Ask yourself those same questions:
What is it that I am really wanting here?
Take your time and wait for the answer. It may surface quickly, or it might take a little longer. Once you have your answer, ask yourself:
How can I have ____ and keep my commitment at the same time?
The solution might be quite easy, and sometimes you may need to get creative, but sometimes the solution is completely unrelated to the initial desire.
Say you are wanting chocolate, but really what you want is a hug, go ask someone for a hug.
If you think you’re craving potato chips, but what you’re really craving is conversation, call up a friend or go meet her for a walk.
I invite you to make it a practice to check in with yourself whenever you are contemplating taking an action that history has proven you’ll regret afterwards. Imagine what your life would be like, or how your body would look and feel if you checked in on a regular basis and shifted your action based on the information you receive from your own inner guidance.
You are more wise and powerful than you know. Your internal wisdom is always available to you; you only need to ask questions and then listen for the answer.
What you then do with the answer is up to you, but choosing the action that serves you best is one of the greatest forms of self-love there is.
I was dying for a hamburger last Friday and decided to try a local hamburger place called The Habit. They didn’t have wheat-free buns, but they did have an option to swap the wheat buns for wedges of lettuce. This was actually really good! I also had a side of sweet potato fries. Yum! It was really nice to be able to get a wheat & dairy-free option virtually on the go after hours of running errands.
I also ate some chips and salsa over the weekend, but this was the first processed food I had eaten in a weeks, and I didn’t feel great afterwards. I used to like this certain brand of organic chips and would have them on occasion, but my body is now saying a very clear NO. I will be putting that on my “Do Not Buy” list and skipping that purchase from now on.
The Do Not Buy List is something I made up a long time ago to remind myself of the foods my body doesn’t like, or new items I tried but didn’t like the taste of. Months could go by and I won’t always remember what those items were, or I’ll forget how I felt the last time I ate them. The Do Not Buy List makes it easy to skip those purchases when I’m in the store.
I keep a written list on a page in my journal, and I consult it when I make my shopping list. Another option is to keep a running list on your phone and consult it while you are in the store.
To be clear, this is not a list of foods that are “forbidden.” This is not a good foods/bad foods thing. In the Love Yourself Lighter method there are no foods that are off-limits. This takes the charge off of food in a really effective way, especially when your mind has been conditioned to judge certain foods as “bad,” and then you judge yourself as “bad” for eating it.
Instead, this is a tool to remind yourself of the feedback your body gave you the last time you ate it. If you felt crappy, why put it in your body again?
If your child had food allergy symptoms, got a stomachache, or a skin reaction after eating certain foods, would you keep feeding it to her? No, right? I invite you to apply that same level of care and concern to your own body. Like a child, your body relies on you for its care. When you care for your body the way you would care for a child’s body, making food decisions is easy.
To apply this week’s lesson, I invite you to get out your journal or a piece of paper and make your own “Do Not Buy” list by asking yourself these questions:
What are the foods I already know my body doesn’t like? Examples: I burp up bell peppers hours after eating them; Ice cream gives me the runs (sorry for being graphic, but your body is very specific in its feedback, so I’m just going to keep it real here).
What are the foods I think are suspect? Examples: I notice I always feel like taking a nap after I eat bread; When I eat dairy foods, I notice I have to clear my throat a lot; My skin always itches after I eat chicken.
What are some new items I tried, but didn’t like? (Trust me, this list will save you money down the road when you’re standing in the store and forgot that you already bought that item or brand and hated it).
Keep your list handy and add to it as you begin to listen to your body’s feedback. Notice how much better you start to feel as you consciously decide to skip the foods your body reacts to. Feeling great is definitely a welcome side effect of honoring your body in this way.
To wrap up, I want to check in and see how your Practice Project is going. Are you still going strong? Awesome! If you feel inspired to, please connect with me on my Facebook page (here) and let me know what helps you to stay committed. Sharing what works for you may help another person.
If your commitment has lapsed a bit, no worries! Just pick up right where you are and start practicing again. As with learning a new language, a musical instrument, or any new skill, it takes practice to get good at it.
Use can use these thoughts to motivate you:
Each time I practice, I am training my brain to do this automatically.
I strengthen the new pattern in my brain every time I follow through.
I am becoming a person who has a peaceful relationship with food/exercises regularly/sees her own value and celebrates it.
Have a beautiful week!