There you were, with your sleeve of Oreos reading your fitness magazine asking yourself, “What the heck is wrong with me that I can’t do what these skinny people are doing? It seems so simple and yet I can’t figure it out.” Your conclusion: I’m a weak human who can’t complete simple tasks. Yup, that must be it. So you take another Oreo out of the sleeve, perfectly separate it to get to the filling first, and then you feel a little badly you’re better at that than getting your butt to the gym. So you eat another (just so they won’t tempt you tomorrow).
Sound familiar? It’s a story I hear all the time and quite frankly I lived for most of my life. First and foremost, I want to state something one of my lovely clients says all the time.
The struggle is real!
I’m not just saying this to make you feel better. I say it because when we get comfortable with weight loss being is a complex problem (and not just about willpower), the likelihood you’ll have a better outcome grows tremendously. To help you build self compassion and use that as motivation, here’s a few reasons this is the HARDEST thing I treat.
You Can’t Stop Eating
Well, you could, but that wouldn’t go well. Most people are programmed to think in black and white terms and managing a healthy lifestyle is a balance game. Unlike many things we want to “fix”, it can’t just be cut out. We need to mange it. Constantly. This often requires training a black and white brain to think in gray. Very achievable, but it doesn’t want to.
We Overeat for Literally Every Reason
Sadness, happiness, celebration, anxiety. And the list goes on. I equate it to a game of whack-a-mole. The second you get one, another pops up. This requires a diverse set of coping strategies and more pre-planning than you’d like. The good news is it’s all able to be figured out. Is it easy? No. But it’s far from impossible.
Seeking Comfort is an Instinct
Your brain is there to protect you from danger and when it feels threatened it tries to re-regulate as soon as possible. Eating slows the body down and sometimes makes you zone out to the point you don’t feel discomfort at all (like during a binge). There’s lots of ways to take food out of this equation, but if you’re wired to use food for this purpose, you may need an upgrade.
Body Image is Everything
How we feel about ourselves and how we fit into the world guides almost every move we make. It dictates what we think we can achieve, whether we believe people will give us a chance, and the picture of how we see our future. Weight loss becomes a chicken or egg cycle because how we feel about ourselves also dictates if we think we can succeed at mastering a healthy lifestyle. And sometimes whether we are comfortable stepping foot in a gym or workout class. Luckily there’s ways to work with an unconfident belief system in the beginning that helps you get to the part where you feel ok enough to take bigger leaps.
And you just thought it was because you weren’t strong enough! The good news is all these things can be worked on and figured out. You’re not broken, you were likely just looking at the problem through the wrong lens. I’ll continue to offer tips on ways to work on all of these, but I’m always available if you need some help. Please pass this along to anyone who might be struggling with this and all those body shamers who try to tell you it’s “easy”.
Dr. Lynn Saladino
I am a New Yorker, clinical psychologist, fitness and food lover, and a woman on a quest to bring a REAL spin to finding balance in hectic lives. As my clients know, there isn't much I won't say whether it be about sex, relationships, crappy bosses, or "strange" eating habits. The goal of this blog is to share what I'm learning from my unique position as a helper of hundreds to bring you a greater sense of understanding and calm.
Lynn Saladino, Psy.D.
Dr. Lynn Psychology, PLLC
Clinical Psychologist and Coach
All rights reserved © 2015 Dr. Lynn Saladino
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