I read a news headline the other day that said 1/3 of babies included in a long-term study were already measuring “overweight” by 9 months. Part of me wants to ignore this, because I know how
chubby “full of love” my own dear daughter was as a baby. It had nothing to do with poor diet. She just had a lot of insulation, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She was so cute, with her rollie pollie self. Still, another part of me is bothered, only because I know the serious weight problem we have in this country. If you’re my friend on Facebook, you’ve “heard” me talk about green smoothies, gluten-free muffins, and natural haircare products. You know I’m into healthy living, but it’s deeper than just what we put into our mouths. Healthy lifestyle also includes what we put in our minds.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Weight loss is not about what you’re eating. It’s about what’s eating you.” I agree with this. A lot of us have unresolved emotional issues that contribute to the conditions of our bodies. America is most definitely the land of food and indulgence, and many of us indulge in these foods to fill the emotional voids we sometimes aren’t even aware of. Becoming more active and changing out eating habits is only part of the solution. If we want the results we see to last, we’ve got to get in touch with the emotional component of the weight.
Do you eat because you’re depressed, because you feel entitled, because it’s your only source of joy, because you don’t care about yourself and feel you deserve this treatment? These are not good reasons to eat, but they’re the reasons that send many of us into kitchen and through drive-thrus. Ask anyone who has eaten a delicious, fluffy cinnamon roll; Food is comforting. If only for the moment, it makes us forget about problems and just feel good… until the pants won’t fit anymore, and the double chin starts to form, and the blood pressure starts to rise. Then, because of these unwanted side effects, we get upset and turn to food again for that momentary escape.
Unfortunately, many of us go through life collecting negative ideas and messages about ourselves.
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’ll never measure up.”
Your sister/brother is better.”
These critical messages–often delivered to us by the people we’re closet to– make themselves at home in our hearts and minds, constantly nudging us in the direction of our own bodily destruction. Losing weight without addressing these emotional components is like putting a bandaid on a deep wound. It may work initially, but you’re going to have to readdress it the proper way eventually. So many of us want to pop a pill, gulp a drink, or wear some strange apparatus claiming to melt the fat away. We jump on every weight loss bandwagon and hope and pray that this will be the one to give the lasting results we want. I wish that were true. I’d love to take a shortcut and instantly drop a quick ten, but I know better. The only way to get there is through hard work and introspection. Sucks, I know, but it’s the truth.
Keep a food diary about what you ate, when, and how you were feeling at the time. This will help you to 1.) be more aware of what and how much you’re eating and 2.) get to the bottom of why you’re eating the things you are. Start allowing yourself to find other sources of joy–non-food sources. Zero in on your main sources of stress and work to reduce them. Is your job putting too much on you? Is your marriage in shambles? Do you not get along with your parents? Work to find resolutions to these problems. Excess stress not only makes you feel horrible, but it also encourages your body to hold on to unnecessary fat.
Once you’ve started making gains in the emotional realm, begin to learn what is and isn’t healthy food. Many of us don’t know the real difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. We take the biased words of food manufacturers who slap “reduced fat” and “sugar free” on their products, hoping an uneducated consumer will pass by and believe the hype. Don’t let yourself fall into this category. A good tip to remember is this: Get back to basics. So many foods nowadays have been processed beyond the point of recognition. They’ve had so much done to them that there is little nutritional value left by the time you get it. Does the food look like something a grandmother could have made in her kitchen? Does it look like it even existed 50 years ago? If not, it may be best to steer clear. Remember, these are the foods we’re fueling our bodies and our kids’ bodies with on a daily basis. We have to make better choices.
And you know I couldn’t write a post about weight without mentioning exercise. You probably thought you were going to get off easy. No ma’am/sir. Of course we have to work out! Even if weight isn’t an issue, moving our bodies has numerous benefits that no person should live without. The key is to MAKE IT A PRIORITY. Saying, “I don’t have time to work out,” really means “It’s not important enough for me work it into my schedule.” When other things come up, we find ways to make it work. We get up earlier. We go to bed later. We budget our time differently. We rely on our family and friends for help. When exercise comes up, though, we all of a sudden don’t have the time. Yeah right! I’m not buying it! Working out doesn’t have to be a 2-hour long effort. 20 minutes a day can really help. And if you can’t find 20 minutes in your day, you really need to cut back on your commitments. Your life is your own. No one else can control it, and no one else can change its direction.