Love Yourself (and Let Go of the Weight) with Mindful Eating

by: Lisa Capehart

“Take care of yourself because you love yourself, not so you’ll love yourself.” – Dr. Michelle May.

So, here we are at that time of year when we start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, many times focused on the ubiquitous mantra, “lose weight and get in shape.” Ugh!

Instead of an opportunity to make promises to ourselves about better self-care, this yearly tradition usually deteriorates into the time to pick ourselves apart, targeting every detail that we dislike or that deviates from society’s view of the ideal body shape or size. If we hate our bodies and feel hopeless, what I have found in my 20 years of working with women, is that we are unlikely to be motivated or inspired to take care of ourselves in any consistent fashion.

It’s no wonder we have a healthy distaste for this fruitless practice and that many lovely ladies have sworn off making New Year’s Resolutions. I totally understand! It seems to set us up for failure and the never-ending cycle of depriving ourselves of the things we love to eat and punishing ourselves with exercise, followed by over-indulging when we “slip up” – the Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.

As a Self-Care Coach for women, I urge my clients to have a different perspective about why and how they approach making changes, which may seem a little backwards to some. Instead of making changes because we DISLIKE things about ourselves, I urge you to make healthier choices based on your values and priorities, because you LOVE yourself and deserve to feel good! Self-care that sticks is practiced with self-compassion, not by beating up on yourself.

That being said, perhaps you DO want to lose some weight or eat healthier, or be more active, yet you are sick and tired of doing the dieting thing, because we all know that diets just don’t work, at least not in the long term. Anyone can deprive themselves for a short time, but sooner or later (usually by Valentine’s Day), the charm of eating celery and being hungry all the time fades and you dive head first into that heart-shaped box of fancy chocolates.

But, what other choice do you have?

Mindful or Intuitive Eating has moved into the mainstream as a way not only to lose weight, but to heal your relationship with food. The diet culture in our society has made us view food, hunger, and eating as something bad and to overcome, instead of an enjoyable way to fuel our active life. Viewing certain foods as “bad” or “forbidden,” while others are “good” or “healthy” has led to much confusion about what to eat and how much. Food has become the enemy.

Mindful or Intuitive Eating supports you to be in charge of your eating instead of relying on an outside “expert” to tell you when, what, and how much to eat. It’s a process to re-learn or remember something you’ve known how to do since you were born – how to trust your body’s wisdom about eating. It’s a way to make friends with food again.

One of the main goals of Mindful Eating is to help you get back in touch with your feelings of hunger and satiety (fullness). Because of years of yo-yo dieting or overeating, many women are unaware of when they’re hungry, so remembering those physical sensations of hunger is key to meeting your body’s fuel needs without overfilling the tank. For some, this will be the missing link. From my own experience about 15 years ago, I realized that even though I was eating nutritious, whole foods, I was simply eating too much. This epiphany came as I read an article in one of my professional journals which stated that your stomach is the size of your fist. Wow! As a result, I cut my portions and slowly dropped the 15 pounds I had put on through my 30s.

Now, for others, maybe you’re eating for reasons other than hunger. Do you find yourself heading to the kitchen when you’re bored, angry, frustrated, sad, happy, or just about any other emotion? Or, perhaps the smell of popcorn at the theatre or a pizza commercial on TV triggers you to eat, even when you’re not hungry. Using food as a way to distract yourself from or cope with painful emotions, or comfort yourself about unpleasant situations is quite common for women. And, often, it’s the easiest way to reward ourselves for the hard work we do with our careers, families and stressors of life. Unfortunately, though it seems like self-care, overeating or eating when we’re not hungry is the exact opposite.

Mindful or Intuitive Eating will support you on the journey to get to the bottom of some of those emotions and learn to meet your true needs. Once you become aware of the times you reach for food when you’re not hungry, you provide yourself with a moment to pause and make a choice to do something different. Dr. Michelle May, creator of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and author of the book, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, reminds us, “When I’m hungry, I eat what I love. When I’m bored, I do something I love. When I’m lonely, I connect with someone I love. When I feel sad, I remember that I am loved.”

Mindful or Intuitive eating is a no-rules philosophy and that sounds a little scary to some. We’ve been conditioned to believe that others know more about nutrition, and why, when, what, and how much we should eat, so we’re afraid to trust ourselves. However, there is no expert out there that knows you better than you know yourself! You’re the expert on you.

Learning to eat mindfully or intuitively is one of the most compassionate and loving ways for you to practice self-care. Making friends with your body and healing your relationship with food can help you let go of that extra weight, for sure, and most importantly can change your life in so many ways for the better, and for good.

Now, that’s the way to start the New Year!

If you’d like to learn more about Mindful or Intuitive Eating and how to quit dieting, visit Lisa’s website at www.LisaCapehart.com and sign up for a complimentary 30-minute coaching session. Lisa Capehart is a Self-Care Coach who specializes in Mindful Eating and helps smart women redefine what Healthy Living means to them, so they can make change easy.

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