Does this sound familiar?
You’ve spent the past two days eating way too much, and you’ve been beating up on yourself for almost as long. And now, you are making promises to yourself you can’t possibly or won’t keep. “I’m not going to eat anything today.” “I’m going to fast and just drink liquids.” “I’m going to go to the gym every day this week!” “Just water for me, please.” Or, you’ve already thrown in the towel and decided to spend the next few weeks eating anything and everything you want, since you’ve already blown both your diet and your good intentions.
If I’m reading your mind, take a deep breath.
That’s good, now take another one. Belly breathe, which means you not only inhale through your nose and fill your chest with air, you fill your stomach, as well. Pause and exhale slowly and a bit longer than you inhaled. Now, merely note “I probably ate more than I should have.” Follow with another deep, belly-filling breath. “Yup, I did.” “I wish I hadn’t, because now I feel bad about it.” And, breathe . . . Take two more deep breaths.
The deep breathing gives your brain enough time to focus on what you are saying and feeling, and will relax you even if you were feeling guilty or frustrated a few seconds before. Resting your brain also gives it time to readjust and switch gears, and that’s a good thing.
Tell yourself something positive.
“I’ve been in a tough place before and I have gotten myself out of it. I can do it again.” “I bet I can get back on track, if I slow down and really savor what I am eating.” “I know I can do this, and I will feel better about myself for cutting back.” “I am good at many things, one mistake does not a failure make.” “I love you, and I know you can do it!”
And, breathe. Keep the deep breathing going, as it not only relaxes you, it breaks the negative spiral your brain may lead you back to at this point. “Oh, why do I even try. I always overeat.” “I can’t lose weight, why do I even bother?” “My family just metabolizes food differently, other people eat more than me, and they are skinny; it’s not fair. . .” You’re right, it’s not fair, and I’m sorry you can’t just keep eating everything you want. It’s hard to pass up all that food, especially during the holidays, but you can do it.
Picture yourself at your ideal weight.
Create the vision you want to see of yourself. Picture yourself in your skinny jeans. Imagine how good it feels to zip them up with no trouble. Or envision yourself wearing that dress you love, how it glides over your hips or how good it feels to not have to add a jacket or shawl to cover your jiggling bits. The more detailed and real the picture is in your mind, the more likely you are to achieve it.
The key is to create the image that works for you. You will know what works for you when it feels real and makes you feel good at the same time. (We spend so much time predicting disasters in our lives or rehashing our mistakes – perceived or real, why not tip the scales in your favor and begin predicting positive outcomes or pictures?)
Mentally give the you in your vision a hug!
This may sound silly, but do it, because that is the you that you genuinely want to embrace. The you, you know you want to be. You can physically hug the real you, as well, which will release the “love hormone” oxytocin. (A 20-second hug, even if it is self-administered, can lower stress. Simply wrap your arms around yourself and gently rub your arms. Give it a try, I just did and could not help smiling- an added bonus!)
Now, figure out what you can do today to get back on track.
Throw out the leftovers. I hate wasting food, most of us do, but yesterday I chose my health and happiness over my aversion to wasting and tossed lots of leftovers. I also made a mental note to cook, bake and buy less food in the weeks ahead. (Picture the you, you want to be each time you head into the grocery store, it will help you resist temptation!)
Find your walking or running shoes, put them on and head out the door. Or, walk or run up and down the stairs a few times. Stretch. Hold your arms out to your sides and make small circles, 20 times forward and then 20 times backwards. Crank up some holiday tunes and dance. Get your kids, grand kids or significant to join the fun. Do whatever you have to do to feel energized and good about yourself.
Remember to take a moment to breathe deeply and often throughout the day – it takes practice, but is worth the effort. And, bring the mental picture of the you you want to be wherever you go. Every time temptation strikes – and it will – envision that you. When you wake up and before you go to sleep – breathe deeply and slowly and picture that you. Make your vision a part of your life, and it will be!
You are no longer alone, and you have a plan.
Breathing deeply and picturing the new you are the perfect holiday gift to give yourself. After all, ’tis the season for believing, why not start believing in yourself?
You can do it!
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