Two Words to Say to Yourself to Put Yourself In Charge of Your Health and Stop Overeating

On the coffee table were dozens and dozens of empty candy wrappers. A shameful reminder of just how much she ate. Her belly felt so uncomfortable. She even tried eating more, to numb away how sick she felt. If only that worked. Instead, Mary felt worse. She curled up in bed, hating herself for how bad she felt and filled with worry about the consequences. Her mind was racing.

This is a catastrophe. What I did was wrong. I’m going to gain weight. I need to fix this.

Fueled with fear, Mary would respond to such a binge like a project. The very next day she promised herself, she would have a plan, goals, checklists and ways to hold herself accountable.

I’ll be better. I’ll be more in control. I won’t binge again. After all, I’m working on my new weight loss project.

This was serious work.  It needed a lot of her attention and energy. Because in her mind, Mary did something wrong and lost control, this was her way of getting it back.

Nothing else mattered.  

All because of 30 Hershey Kisses.

 

Those Kisses took on a story of their own. By eating them, she was going to gain weight, get really fat, look pathetic and feel disgusting. (Her sick, bloated belly confirmed this story.) Worse, the consumption of those 30 Kisses made her worthless and unlovable.

For Mary, a made up summation of many of my coaching clients,  binge eating and overeating become a call to action. Bugles sounding, war flags waving overhead, they ready themselves for a grisly battle. “It’s time to make a change,” they proclaim. “I can’t take this any longer.”

But instead of regaining a sense of control, instead of getting back on the wagon, they find themselves continually binging. Hopelessness and raw fatigue set in when they realize that they’ll never, ever, EVER win the war.  The rigid dieting and restrictions they worked so hard to enforce have only backfired.  

What if.

What if, after overeating or binging, you didn’t beat yourself up?

What if you didn’t believe the story that the sleeve of Oreos you ate made you pathetic and worthless?

What if you didn’t feel the need to jump on the next cleanse to punish yourself for your sins?

What if you said, instead, “So what?”

What if you welcomed in some lightness around the whole experience?

Oh, I know what you’re thinking.

If you’re not beating yourself up, then you must be giving yourself permission to overeat.

If you aren’t punishing yourself, then you must be okay with treating yourself this way.

If you aren’t more disciplined, then you will never lose the weight you want to lose and worse, you will even gain weight.

This is a big leap. Beating the crap out of yourself is all you may know.  But beating yourself up never creates positive action or results. Deep down, you know this to be true.

“So what” is a step toward forgiveness. “So what” is also a powerful step toward taking responsibility.

When you say, “So what,” you aren’t saying, “I don’t care.” In fact, when you say, “So what,” you care more than ever. Because you know that to move yourself forward, you need to let go of the meaning you have been making from your binge. “So what” is part of your recipe for positive momentum, and a way to pivot into something new.

Trust in love and compassion. Try it on and see if it fits. The only thing you have to lose is what is holding you back from loving yourself and your life.

Are Your Attempts to Lose Weight Failing? 5 Things You Can Do to Stop Sabotaging Your Efforts

Jen had a big meeting that afternoon with her largest client. She’d been prepping for days and wanted it to go well. For the past three weeks, Jen had also worked really hard on her diet. She’d avoided sugar, eaten more salads and finally got her ass to the gym after months of avoiding it. She secretly hoped that she could now squeeze into her favorite power skirt.

Standing in her closet, she held her breath as she slipped on the skirt. She pulled it up and wrestled with the zipper, knowing immediately that it was too tight. As she let out her breath, she also let out the hope that she’d held.  Not only did Jen feel frustrated, she felt defeated.

Why am I even bothering? All those workouts. All the sacrifice. For what? I’m the same exact weight. I’ll never lose weight.

Jen hung her favorite skirt back in her closet and put on her “go to” safety dress. As she made her way to the office, she tried to push all of these defeatist thoughts of her mind. But underneath the surface, Jen was taking this battle to heart.  Not only was she second guessing her ability to lose weight, her confidence was crushed. A familiar train of thought  passed through her mind.

I can’t lose weight and keep it off. I don’t deserve to have a skinny body.

Jen, a composite blend of my own and my coaching clients’ experience, is in a negative thought cycle. Most of us experience these without even realizing it, and they can do incalculable damage.

Let me spell out the cycle:

  • Jen was looking for evidence to support her beliefs that she would never be free of the weight, or keep it off.
  • When she tried on her favorite skirt and it didn’t fit the way she wanted it to, she got the confirmation she’d been looking for.
  • Even though her client meeting went well, the days and weeks that followed looked nothing like the weeks before. She stopped going to the salad bar and skipped the gym more often than she went.

Jen’s thoughts and beliefs created her actions, right from the get go.

What if Jen believed that she could lose weight? Or at least, didn’t believe that she couldn’t lose weight?

When she tried on her favorite skirt that morning, the conversation with herself would have been entirely different. She might have thought, Well, it fits better than it did a month ago. I just need to be patient. Or, My body feels better and lighter. Eventually, my body will catch up.

As human beings, we have a hard-wired psychological need to be right. When we’re right, well, we’re justified and validated,  which is the ultimate goal. Sadly, our wiring doesn’t distinguish how we are right, it just needs to be. We look for situations, words, actions, and circumstances that we can interpret in a way that will support our belief system. When we find this evidence, our beliefs are affirmed and we are right. Our beliefs and the evidence we gather can serve us well. Or, our beliefs may tear down our confidence and our self esteem. We will interpret conversations and situations all around us to make us right about that too.   

When her skirt didn’t fit the way she wanted it to, Jen interpreted that as confirmation of her belief that she can’t really lose weight. That little voice said, “I told you so. You’ll never have the body you dreamed of.” And with that, she made herself right.

This is why what happens on the inside is so incredibly important. Because we react and make choices based on that I-must-prove-myself-right mechanism.

Having an acute awareness of your thoughts and beliefs is critical to breaking out of those past unproductive patterns and cycles. The one’s that are keeping you hating your body, exhausted and feeling hopeless.

Let me warn you: Becoming aware of negative beliefs isn’t a pretty process. It’s not fun to look at beliefs like:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m unlovable
  • I’ll always be alone

But when we shine that light on this dark side of us, we can see that our actions and reactions have been reinforcing these beliefs.

The good news is that you don’t have to excavate all of your beliefs to change your life. You don’t need to buy into the belief that you will have a life you love when you finally really love yourself. So, while you are practicing loving yourself and your life:

  1. Make your commitment to your highest self bigger than your commitment to lose weight. Losing weight for you isn’t just about dropping the weight. Deep down it's about how we feel about ourselves and our self worth. Commit to nourishing yourself in a kind way. Instead of focusing on losing weight, how about focusing on feeling great, light and energetic in your body?
  2. Practice identifying those moments you’re looking for evidence. We’re interpreting situations all of the time. Some big, some small. Looking in a full length mirror at the Mall? Just finishing  bowl of ice cream? Notice how these situations support the beliefs you want to hold for yourself.
  3. Focus on the long term. You want the changes in your life to stick. To do this, there is no quick fix. No short cuts. Habits take a while to reinforce and permeate through our lives. Give them the benefit of time and notice all of the successes along the way.
  4. Don’t argue with your thoughts and beliefs. When that little voice says. “You’ll never lose weight,” you don’t have to turn around and say, “No! I will lose weight.” When you argue and debate, you’re just giving the negative thought more time and energy. Instead, simply acknowledge the thought and move on. You can even say, “Thanks for sharing.”
  5. Acknowledge the power of choice. Yes, you have your beliefs and you have your thoughts. But you don’t have to believe everything you hear and everything you think. You get to choose your actions.

As you change what’s happening on the inside, what’s happening on the outside will change too.


 

Don't Be Tricked By the Treats; 5 Easy Steps to Not Binge or Overeat Halloween Candy

Halloween is just a few short days away. Costumes are ready, the decorations are out and the pumpkins are carved.  Did you buy some of your favorite snack sized candy bars for the little Treaters, hoping you can just enjoy one or two pieces for yourself? Or,  does having all of that Halloween candy around the house feel so stressful, like a cruel trick?

In the past, to me Halloween candy seemed like a supernatural being that possessed multiple powers. It would act like a magnet pulling me in that I couldn’t resist no matter how hard I tried. Or, it would act like burning coals and I knew if I touched it I would get burned. Or, if somehow I forgot it was there, it disguised itself into something friendly and kind.  I would be tricked me into having just one piece, that ultimately turned into two, or five, or 10 or countless more.

Halloween candy doesn’t have to have that kind of power over you. You can breeze through this upcoming holiday without the worry that those bite sized Snickers bars may get the best of you. You don’t have to go to bed on October 31st with remorse and a bloated belly.

For starters, make the choice to eat the candy when you truly want it and are actually hungry. I realize how basic this advice sounds: eat when you are hungry and eat the food you desire. However many chronic dieters do not follow these simple guidelines. A few years ago, when I looked through my daughter’s trick or treating bag, the Peanut M&M’s jumped out at me. I was hungry and they were exactly what I wanted.

Now that you made your candy choice, give the candy your full attention. Sit down. Get away from the TV and the laptop. Shut down your Facebook and Instagram. Notice the taste and the consistency and experience the whole eating process. When I was eating the Peanut M&M’s, I did notice how much I liked the crunch but not the taste. They were too sweet to me and the peanuts were tasteless.

After you had one piece, you may want a second. Check in and ask yourself some questions. Are you still hungry? Are you still enjoying the taste? Knowing you can eat this candy without guilt, how do you want to feel after you have eaten it?

If the answer is- I’m not sure (often my answer), then make a choice to leave the candy where it is for 20 minutes and go do something else. Give yourself full permission to eat another piece in 20 minutes if you still want it. This step is not about not eating the candy but about giving yourself the space to eat with intention.

After I had the Peanut M&M’s, I noticed that my belly felt bloated. Assess how your body feels, so that next time you can make a powerful and informed choice. I can choose to eat Peanut M&M’s again, but if I do, I may be choosing to not feel my best.

Changing your relationship with food is a process and a practice. Certain foods don’t need to be bad or forbidden. You can trust yourself around all foods and build confidence in yourself that you can be in charge of your own choices. Halloween candy is a great place to start.

Now, I enjoy the little ones in their costumes that come to the front door. The Halloween candy is there if I choose to have a piece or two. I don’t give it much thought or concern. You can have that same freedom, which is one amazing treat. 

Why Stepping On The Scale Is Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts And 5 Things to Do Instead

Lauren had her morning ritual. Before she got out of bed, before her feet even touched the floor, Lauren would ask herself “How is this day going to go?”. She then walked into the bathroom to step on the scale and find out.

Lauren would have two numbers in her head. Her goal weight and what she weighed last. Depending on how she worked out and ate the day before, she may be mildly scared or a little hopeful.

When the scale offered good news, Lauren felt that little high and privately celebrated. She felt good about herself.  When the scale offered bad news, Lauren was in disbelief. “Maybe the scale is wrong”, she thought.  She would step off and on again, hoping for a lower number. When the number didn’t change, her stomach would drop and she felt defeated. “I can’t believe I let myself get here”, she would say to herself. She felt disgusting.

For Lauren, the scale isn’t just assessing how closely she had followed her diet plan. It’s personal. When Lauren sees that number on the scale, she also sees if her hard work has paid off, if it’s worth it to keep trying to eat so well, and ultimately, if she has been good or bad.

What comes next is critical. How Lauren felt about herself and her body in that given moment would set the tone for how she ate that day. If she felt good, she would likely eat well. If she felt bad, she would likely throw in the towel, and would inevitably overeat and binge.  

For Lauren, who is a made up aggregation of many of my coaching clients, stepping on the scale every morning put in motion food patterns that were destructive and disconnected from herself and her body.

The scale is a tool to measure body weight. However, for many dieters and those interested in weight loss, weighing themselves isn’t as simple as finding out how much they weigh at a given point in time. Ultimately, the number has meaning. The number becomes a personal story of individual self worth and value. The dieter will then choose how to eat based on how they see themselves in a positive or negative light.

Our self worth doesn’t come from something that makes its home on our bathroom floor. Nor do we need to let the number on the scale determine how we treat ourself and our body.  

It’s time to stop the madness that comes from stepping on the scale. This ritual is NOT the way to achieve long lasting health, vitality, and yes, even permanent weight loss.

At first, Lauren was afraid to not weigh herself. She was panicked because she believed the scale was her way of staying in control. Until she understood that stepping on the scale was ultimately creating chaos in her day to day life, was she able to consider something different.  Until she saw that the scale was disconnecting herself from her body, determining her mood, and dictating how and what she ate, did she find the courage to try something different.

If you have found the same courage, here are 5 things you can do to stop letting the scale rule your life:

  1. Create a new morning routine that doesn’t include weighing yourself. A large glass of warm water with lemon is a beautiful way to start the day.

  2. Move your scale to a part of your home where you won’t see it regularly.  If it’s in your bathroom, take it out.

  3. Find 3 other ways to measure your health and vitality. Consider being aware of your energy levels, how well you sleep, how clear your skin is, and your patience.

  4. Ask yourself, “how do I want to feel today?”. Keep that intention in the front of your mind for the whole day.

  5. Connect with yourself by asking “what do I need?” throughout the day. More often than not, drinking more water, rest, movement, and getting outside are all things that will make you feel better.  

Permanent weight loss, health and vitality comes from creating daily habits and rituals that are rooted in love and connection. Start your morning with the question “How is this day going to go?”. Instead of letting the scale answer for you, choose for yourself.   You have the answers you need.  

 

You Have Finally Made Peace With Food... Now What?

When I was struggling with food, I would binge most Sunday afternoons. Maybe it was on a couple of extra bowls of ice cream, some chocolates from a past holiday, or leftover brownies I made for the kids. This binge pattern took away my loneliness or my anxiety about the upcoming week, or sometimes it was my last chance to indulge before I had to be “really good” and go back to my diet. I would wake up Monday morning, quietly despising myself and determined to stay on track with my eating.  This pattern, even though deeply painful, was also oddly comfortable and well-known. It felt safe emotionally and mentally when, at a subconscious level, I knew the outcomes of my battles.

I’ve since transformed my relationship with food. Without my destructive patterns, I’ve created a clearing and an opening. I have time and energy to create something new. In the past few months, I’ve done a major clean out of my closet and have taken some pretty significant steps to expand my businesses. I keep asking myself and the Universe “How do I serve my communities with my highest and best self?”.  My food struggle wasn’t just keeping me safe, it was also keeping me from living a bigger life. Now that my struggle is behind me, there is nothing in my way.

Even though that sounds incredibly exciting, it’s actually pretty freakin’ scary. I’ve known myself for so long as someone who struggles with food. Now I have gotten to know myself as someone who thrives, is mindful and compassionate around food and my body, and has created habits that serve me best. This new “me” doesn’t know what the future looks like because I’m finally not recreating my past, over and over again. I’ve been scared that this new “me” will disappear, that she is too good to be true, and that I don’t deserve to be her.

As I’ve navigated these new waters over the past year, I’ve come up with a few strategies that have helped me deal with my fears and embrace the newly created “me”. It’s our divine right to live a life full of passion, inspiration and love. If you too have cleared some space and are ready to start living a bigger life right now, try this:

  1. Name your fear. You may need to do some soul searching and deep inquiry here. What is it that you are truly afraid of? Write it down. Get it on paper.  
  2. See that named fear as false. I love the acronym for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. Your fear isn’t real; it’s just something you created.
  3. Stay present. Our fear is a projection of the future. When we are truly in the moment, fear, anxiety and worry cannot exist. Keep yourself present by asking yourself, “What is actually happening right now?”.
  4. Commit to not letting your fear stop you. You are meant to live a life you love. Commit to forward momentum every day.
  5. Say a daily mantra to yourself. Make up your own or try one of these: "I breathe in love. I breathe out fear." "I am safe. I am supported. I am enough." "I am present and grounded in this moment." "I release my fears and stay open to the love and support all around me."
  6. Don’t wait. Even if you are still struggling with your relationship with food or some habitual pattern that is wearing you down, move forward toward the things you want in your life. The momentum may be small, but the impact of moving past your fear is significant.
  7. Practice living with fear. It’s not about removing our fears, it’s about living fully despite them. When we try to remove our fears, we are giving them more energy. Living with them means quietly acknowledging them as artificial and then moving forward.

If you are considering some big and exciting things in your life, that’s an awesome thing. You are ready. Leave the safety of the unknown and embrace what is possible. Simply take a big breath and SHINE bright.

With Love and Inspiration~

Tara

 

Why We Let Diets Distract Us From Living

**This is the second post of a multi part series on why diets and the diet mentality simply cannot work, the distraction and impact diets can have on living the life we are meant to live, and how to shift our view of food to eat in a way that supports our health and vitality, and ultimately brings our bodies back into balance.  **

Do you remember your very first diet? If it was anything like mine, I felt so motivated and inspired to take on this brand new undertaking. I poured through the pamphlets, note cards of recipes and calendars of eating plans.  After all, I wanted to lose weight, and this was a way for me to get there.

I treated this diet like a part time job and was willing to go to great lengths to follow it to a T. I chose to forego wedding cake at my cousin’s wedding, bring my own meals out to a restaurant, and stay up late logging my food intake and counting calories.

If you can relate, you also believed this effort was an investment into a skinnier version of yourself. But what I was really doing was sacrificing my precious time, energy, and attention in the moment for some future hope. Instead of enjoying my life with family and friends at a wedding, I found myself fretting over cake. Instead of enjoying a great conversation and connecting with friends at a restaurant, I worried about what I was eating. Instead of getting a good night’s sleep or reading a great book, I assessed my performance on my diet plan.  

For many, the diet mentality locks us into a belief that we must sacrifice today to have the body and the life we desire tomorrow. We take that thinking one step further and actually put our life on hold for some fantasy in the future. In the backs of our mind, we believe:

“My life will be ________ when I weigh ________” . Fill in the blanks.

My life will be complete when I can fit into my skinny jeans. Or, when I wear a size 6, I’ll be finally the young professional woman I think I should be, and I’ll have it all. Or, when I lose 15 pounds, more men will be attracted to me, and I’ll be in an amazing relationship.

But we can’t blame diets and a diet mentality for this. They are not the problem. They are just covering up something much more painful that we don’t want to confront: We believe we are not good enough.

This mentality started before we went on our first diet. The diet was there to distract us from looking at this painful belief. If we run from it and hide from it by dieting, maybe we can convince ourselves that we are good enough and prove this little voice inside of us wrong.

While we are dieting our life away and putting our hopes and dream on hold until we finally believe we have become good enough, life is happening around us. Our bodies may not be perfect. Our life may not be ideal. But they are the only ones we have, and we don’t get another one or another chance. We can live our life trying desperately to change our bodies and our lives, or we can live today like we want to live and feel at peace with our bodies and our lives. Stop struggling with the thought, “I’m not enough.” It’s simply not true. You are enough. Your body is enough. Your life is enough. Put down the fight and the distractions that come from dieting and pick up the truth. Your life is waiting for you, and it’s time to live it! 

With Love and Inspiration~

Tara

Create Your Focus, Create Your Life

Years ago when I was dieting and feeling desperate to shed some extra weight, unconsciously I was choosing to disconnect from my body. I chose to follow a meal plan or to eat a predetermined number of calories instead of asking my body what it needed.

For years I floated around without any intention of what I wanted my relationship with food and my body to be. Consciously or unconsciously, our focus is on something that results in us living a certain way.

When we aren’t aware of how we are living, it is as if we are a small boat in the middle of the ocean being tossed around by each smashing wave and pulled along by the current. The small boat may stay in the middle of the ocean or it may ultimately arrive on shore. Without awareness or purpose, the boat’s destination would be haphazard and accidental. The other option is creating where we want to go, how we want to be. This is like giving that same small boat a GPS and ultimately a guide to whatever destination we choose.

Now, I create guidance for myself daily. Sometimes my intention is for my whole day and sometimes just for certain areas of my life. I keep my language simple- one or two words.  I create ease and peace around food and compassion and healing around my body. If you ask me tomorrow, my intention may change. I can recreate how I want to be based on what intuitively feels right. This guidance helps me navigate through food choices and also whether I choose to go for a run, take a bath, or go to bed early. My intentions are the foundation of all my actions.

Creating an intention is the starting point for creating the life you choose. When it comes to shifting your relationship with food and your body, you are also in the driver’s seat. Changing your relationship starts with choosing what you really want and keeping that top of mind moment to moment. This isn’t hard, but it does require effort and awareness. The beautiful thing about this process is that you can create a loving relationship with your body, peace around food, and a life you love.

Right now, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Ask yourself: What kind of relationship do I want to have with food? How do I want to view and treat my body?

Chances are, you’ve been trying to restrict what and how much you eat, and you berate yourself when you fall off the wagon. You are scared you will gain weight and worry you will never lose the weight you want. When it comes to your body, the criticism doesn’t stop. It’s now time to replace the criticism, restriction, fear and worry with how you really want to live around food and your body. You get to pick. Choose what comes to mind first. And if nothing comes to mind, love and compassion are always great places to start.  Put your energy in the right place and your actions will follow. It starts with you.

 

How to Recover From A Food Binge

If I were the superstitious type, I would have thought I jinxed myself. I had recently told a few people: my husband, my Naturopath, my coaching group. I said out loud, “I don’t binge eat anymore.” And then Saturday afternoon after a big shopping trip, I came home, made a plate of crackers and cheese, and pretty much ate everything on the plate. As expected, I immediately felt disgusted. And because I am now coaching women on how to listen to their bodies and change their relationships with food, I also felt like a complete fraud. If I can’t stop binging myself, how do I expect to guide others? My mind raced:

I shouldn’t be coaching women in this work. I’ll just go back to what I know.

I can’t believe I ate that whole plate of cheese and crackers. I even had gluten. Why do I make choices that will make me sick?

I have tools, I should be using them! What is wrong with me?

My belly feels so bloated. I’ll need to hide that so no one suspects.

From the outside that evening, I appeared quiet, reserved, and disconnected from my family. I probably seemed a little melancholy. I went to bed early and wrote in my journal.

This is what binges do. They absorb us into a shame cycle. They have us questioning and doubting everything about ourselves. Our body feels sick; therefore, we assume everything about us is sick too. Binges make us withdraw from the world. We don’t want to show our disgusting selves to the people we love around us. After all, they must be judging us the same way we are judging ourselves, right? This episode refreshed my memory of how destructive binges are because the binge eater withdraws, hides, and feels terrible and full of shame.

We are disconnected from our bodies when we binge and overeat. I clearly felt disconnected on Saturday afternoon and resorted to an old habitual pattern. When I woke up Sunday morning, I reminded myself that I have a choice where I focus my energy. I can beat myself up about the afternoon before, like I have in the past, or I can see my experience as an opportunity to go deeper in my own healing. I’m choosing to go deeper.

As I look back to my earlier declarations of binge eating being something of my past, I realized there was a part of me that felt being binge-free was too good to be true. I secretly worried that all of this healing and new learning would disappear. I know now this process is not a delicate one. Our practice of connecting to our body grows stronger the more we listen to it. I don’t need good luck to be aware of my body. My journey to freedom around food and body struggles may have it’s share of up and down and side trips. I’m okay with that. I’m also really okay with not being perfect. I’ll take confidence and connection over luck and crossed fingers any day of the week.

New Girl, New Habit

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I have a confession to make.  It may make you laugh. My family thinks it’s hysterical. Over the past 2 ½ weeks, I’ve been obsessed with the TV show “New Girl”. I sat down to watch the pilot on Netflix and after a few shorts weeks, I’m already in the middle of Season 3. I’ve been watching the show religiously every night, averaging about 2.5 shows an evening. This is a big change for me as I typically only watch TV  a few times week. But now, I sit down to watch it with a glass of red wine or a cup of tea (depending on the night), curl up on the couch and let myself be thoroughly and mindlessly entertained. A habit is supposedly formed by consistently doing the same thing every day for 28, 30, or even 40 days (depending on who you ask and where you look). So you may not call my "New Girl" routine a habit just yet, but it did get me thinking about habits and how some habits can be so easily formed and some habits can be so hard to break.

People spend a good deal of time and money trying to create positive habits and to break negative ones. They often look at the action of the habit itself, for example, smoking, running every morning, or flossing before bedtime. But there are a few other pieces to the habit puzzle that are more critical than the action itself. A habit also includes the desire we crave before we move into action and the outcome that immediately follows. Take my “New Girl” routine. It started with me looking for relaxation, which is the desire I craved. While I watched the first 4 episodes of Season 1, I laughed, gave my mind and body a break sitting on the couch and afterward felt renewed. Immediately, my mind drew the connection. Desire to relax > "New Girl"> Feel Better. It didn’t take more than a few days for me to realize that when I wanted to feel better; I sat to watch "New Girl".

One habit that I’m familiar with is around binge eating, as it started for me in my early teens. At the time, food was the only coping mechanism I knew to help me deal with overwhelming feelings.  Even though I wasn't aware of it at the time, my desire was to not feel the intensity of my sadness, frustration, anxiety or anger. When I stuffed myself with food (maybe girl-scout cookies or M&M’s) I went numb and didn’t feel anything. The outcome of my binge eating habit was to take away the immediate discomfort (even though it was fleeting and ultimately I felt worse). This habit continued over the years by eating uncontrollably in response to stress, overwhelm or anything else that I wanted an escape from. I would try desperately to change this habit by trying to stop binge eating, like it was the cause and effect of my problems. The more I fought with the binge eating, the more energy I was giving to the one thing I desperately wanted to change. I realized, with mindfulness, awareness and compassion that acknowledging and not reacting to the the emotion was at the heart of dismantling this habit. It was then that I began to replace binge eating with a more loving habit.

Here is the thing. We make our habits and then our habits make us. The action of the habit can define us if we let it. We start to smoke and we become a smoker. We train for our first 5k and we become a runner. We stop eating meat and become a vegetarian. Look at your habits carefully; are they reflecting who you want to be and how you want to live? If not, look at the desire and the outcome of the habit itself.  Is watching "New Girl" every night a reflection of how I want to live? Maybe not. But let me put it another way, is relaxing and laughing every evening how I want to live? Absolutely.

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