I went to the hairdresser recently, and while I was there waiting for my “natural” blonde highlights to re-emerge, I heard client after client come in, sit in the swivel chair and say some version of this: “I want a change.” Followed by: “Not too short. Don’t cut too much. I want to keep it long, but I’m ready to make a change. Maybe bangs? But long bangs. No, no, definitely not bangs. Let’s go darker but keep it light. Layers! Yes! But all one length. I’m ready to change things up!”
It dawned on me at that moment that this is exactly what I have frequently done around food and lifestyle, and something I hear from so many people I work with. We want a change. Desperately. We are resilient. We deserve something different yet can’t seem to get traction on forging that path.
We get side-tracked by the scale, the new influencer telling us what he/she eats, the “I need to buckle down” lure of a new program, the carnivore, three 42-hour fasts, VO2 max, you’re-not-working-out-in-the-right-Zone, blabbity-blah of it all. And while all of those things can be important, they can also be a distraction. The seductive lure of the next shiny object can be a helpful gimmick to get some movement in your goals, but frequently can be a way to avoid what it takes to start living the change you want. Now.
Another distraction? Our own brains. My own internal monologue, which, in its attempts to get me to eat more usually sounds like a terrorist negotiating a hostage release, has recently started to sound like a tantruming toddler crying because she wants to be healthy, fit and maintain weight loss – while doing the barest minimum needed to do so (or in some cases the polar opposite of what needs to be done). I’ve been at this for a long time, and quite honestly, sometimes get tired of working quite so hard.
My inner toddler has a meltdown because she can’t eat endless amounts of cookies with impunity, and I occasionally have to face the reality that someone needs to be the responsible adult charged with reining her in. No negotiations, just some difficult-to-face truths: I can’t have my cake and eat it, too. At least not all of it. If I eat that way, I gain weight, my physical health is impacted, and my mental health takes a massive hit, putting me back into an endlessly vicious cycle.
The bargaining wears me down, but the good news is that awareness puts it entirely back in my control, and when I start to notice the negotiations, I’m learning to immediately shut them down. For me, firm but loving messaging can cut thru the terrorist chatter – something along the lines of the following, which I keep as a note in my phone because it resonates so powerfully for me:
This isn’t negotiable. I’m sorry you are struggling. But what do you really want? What are you really after right now? Is it one cookie? Or is it all the cookies in the whole world?
You want them all? Ok, fair enough, but if you eat them all you will feel like garbage. You know this.
What else do you want? To feel light, free, and alive, right? To feel good in your skin?
You may want to eat and eat and eat, but how does that story end? How has it ended every single time? It doesn’t end with you feeling lighter, freer or more alive. Never has. Never will.
It’s just food. It will taste good and then it will be over, and you will be left holding the same bag of crap you have worked a lifetime to leave behind.
You have worked so hard for this privilege. Now, go and enjoy it. Show up for yourself. Show yourself what you’re made of. You deserve that.
You’re welcome to borrow these words, but if this language does not resonate or feels too off-putting for you, in a moment of calm, when a grown-up is running the show, jot down a few things that speak directly to your distractions, your tantruming toddler brain. Keep those words close by so you can read them when things are challenging, when your inner terrorist is putting your lifestyle at risk by making unreasonable demands.
When you don’t feel like doing the hard work, when the distractions are so loud you can’t hear anything over their incessant drone, having a responsible adult around to be the voice of reason is the best defense.
If you are struggling with your relationship with food, are having trouble quieting the distractions and they are impeding your goals, please consider joining our new small group focused on food relationship and the ways in which low carb can intersect with mindful eating.
The new small group will begin September 7 (4:30-6:00p EST) and run for 8 weeks. More info and sign up here: https://doctortro.com/small-group-coaching/