Whenever we try and impose a strict regime on ourselves we are most likely sabotaging our efforts before we have begun.
It is much better to be gentle with ourselves, in observing those habits we would like to change, and try to understand why they are there in the first place. We wouldn’t dream of knocking away someones’ crutches without first finding out why they are using crutches in the first place, yet this exactly is what most diets do. It is almost an act of violence against ourselves.
Weight-gain and stress.
Many people gain weight when they are under prolonged stress. Food and alcohol are common ‘coping mechanisms’ to which we turn when we are in need of comfort and relaxation. We all know that we can choose healthier alternatives for coping with the stress in our lives, but much better still to examine the causes of our stress and to take steps to reduce it.
Many people feel there is little they can do to reduce the stress in their lives, because they only look at the external ‘stressors’ (the external factors which cause us stress). This is only part of the picture. Indeed we usually can do much more than we think to address these external stressors, and working with someone like a coach can often generate many ideas which we may not previously have thought of.
Another important factor to remember is how our creativity works. We are at our most creative when we are relaxed. It important to understand that one side-effect of prolonged stress is that the longer we experience it, the less creative we become. This contributes to our inability to create solutions for removing the stress in our lives. Again, working with a coach to create some relaxation time could give us just the space we need to tap into our creative resources and address those stress factors.
Then there are the internal stress factors. We all have unique ways of reacting and responding to those external stressors. While we may not (at the moment) be in a position to change those, we can at least begin working on our own inner responses, and reduce stress that way.
There are many steps we can take to calm down, relax, and reduce stress. Once we do this, we might notice we really don’t need to eat so much. We might not need to drink so much.
We can be more gentle with ourselves, and adopt a peaceful attitude with our bodies. Eating slowly, enjoying every mouthful, and asking “do I really need or want this?” Eventually we can change the way we approach the whole issue of food and eating.
We may notice that we start feeling emotions that we have ‘stuffed’ down through eating: we may feel anger and/or resentment at being so busy. We can acknowledge our feelings and begin to make small but powerful lifestyle changes that honour who we really are, and what we really want.
Slowly, slowly. Gently, gently. We can allow our natural eating patterns to emerge, without imposing any more strict regimes on a body that is already stressed. Imposing anything on ourselves, at any time, is only a cause of stress. Strict regimes will just create more resentment, on top of any pre-existing resentment, and will bring out the rebel in us. Most of us can’t wait for the diet to end so we can go back to our old ways, usually with more intensity than ever before as though we were making up for lost time!
The slow, gentle, approach is our best chance of success.