As you may have gathered from my previous weight loss posts, I’m not the biggest fan of diets, but I do like to use a food log to keep me honest and aware of the food I’m eating. The main reason diets aren’t my thing is that my brain can’t get past the “restrictions” that come with them and I then begin to think about and crave all of the foods I’m not supposed to eat while on the diet. Needless to say it plays a number on will power, which I don’t believe, based on my previous weight loss results, is something you need for weight loss. For me personally,
intuitive eating is all I need, as long as I’m living in the moment, honest, and tuned in with my hunger and fullness levels and not allowing life to take my mind away from the awareness.
These past few months however, I’ve been preoccupied with working on trying to keep my Ego from sabatoging my relationship, and not weight loss. It’s an ongoing battle and because its uncomfortable and sometimes feels like a life or death battle, I’ve been allowing food to comfort all those feelings, rather than dealing honestly with them. See, thanks to intuitive eating, I now know that when you are fully tuned into your hunger and fullness levels, food becomes what it’s meant to be, fuel for the body and not something that should be feared or steered away from when working toward weight loss.
“You’re so fat. Look at how ugly those rolls look on you. Look at how fat your face, arms, thighs look? You’re so not cute.”
This past weekend I revisited Dr. Brené Brown’s visit with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. Dr. Brown is a researcher and author of the book Daring Greatly and she shared that this ugly self-talk is shame. I know many of us think it comes from the guilt of overeating, not exercising, you name it; but Dr. Brownsays that “The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between ‘I am bad’ and ‘I did something bad.'”
Sit with that distinction for a minute. How many of us have managed to lose a pound or two, we’re extatic and want to reward ourselves, so we say well, some ice cream/a burger/an extra slice of pizza can’t hurt. Then when our next weigh in comes around, we realize that we’ve regained that pound or two back, or worse, gained an extra pound or two. Dr. Brown believes that those who associate that with guilt will have self-talk that says, “That was a really stupid thing to do. Why didn’t I think straying from the diet would make me regain weight?” Those of us who live in shame however, tend to have self-talk that says, “Well, I’m an idiot. I’m such a loser; I’ll never lose weight.”
It’s all in the wording. Guilt tends to focus on the behavior while shame focuses on you. Dr. Brown says that this distinction isn’t something to take lightly. She believes shame, not guilt, is what keeps us in an addictive/aggressive/depressive state. This is why being able to change the self-talk from negative to positive and then believing it can help take you out of any of those addictive/aggressive/depressive states and yes, even help in weight loss.
Easier said than done, trust me, but Dr. Brown says that the way she’s managed to make this shift is by changing her self-talk to the way she would talk to someone she loved and cared for. She reminds us that we would never let someone we love (kids, friends, family) speak that way of themselves, so why do we think it’s ok for us to talk to us that way? She says we need to acknowledge the behavior instead and say “You made a mistake. You’re human. You’re okay. I love you. You’re going to get through this.” Once we’ve been able to make that mind shift, then she says we need to reach out and tell our story/speak our shame, much like I did in my inagural Weight Loss Wednesday post. Dr. Brown says these things lead us to own the story! “If you own this story you get to write the ending. When we bury the story we forever stay the subject of the story.”
I know, I know, it’s a lot of work that involves getting involved with the outside world, instead of just trying to figure things out on our own. I know that it’s so much easier to reach for that cookie or ice cream, but to break the cycle we have to acknowledge we can’t do it alone and share our story so that it doesn’t own us. Weight loss is only the beginning, but it’s a great start – especially for this food shamed girl. 🙂
Does your self-talk originate in shame or guilt? What encouraging words would you use to speak to your best friend (you) about weight?