How much of your time do you spend thinking about the past and wishing it was different, or about the future and what you hope will be different?
When it comes to weight loss, the notion of accepting your reality right now can feel unsettling. You probably have thoughts like, “I can’t wait until I lose this weight,” or, “I wish I could go back to my 20-year-old body,” and accepting your body as it is feels like a resignation from trying. But this week, I’m showing you how accepting your reality is a tiny but monumental shift you can make on your journey.
If you find yourself arguing with reality, focusing on the past, making excuses, justifying your choices, or beating yourself up about it, I invite you to try on the questions I’m posing to you today. There is so much power in observing and owning what you’re doing, void of judgment and trying to change it. So I’m showing you how you can start accepting your reality right now.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 66.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, Master Certified coach, Natalie Brown.
Hello everybody. So last Sunday was Mother’s Day. I know it’s a day of mixed emotions for many people, for varied reasons. For me, it used to be a day that I spent feeling a seemingly impossible cocktail of unappreciated and at the same time unworthy of appreciation.
Now, I realize this sounds contradictory so let me explain what would happen in my brain. I would be thinking, “It’s Mother’s Day, I do so much for these people every day,” meaning my children and also my husband be default. So I was thinking, today I expect them to do for me.
They should take over and do all the things I normally do, I shouldn’t have to lift a finger or take care of anything, they should step up and step in and show me that they appreciate all I contribute. They should know what I enjoy and they should plan accordingly.
They should get along and be cheerful and respectful, to show me how much they love and appreciate me. And they should do all of this without being told, just because they want to. They should want to because of all I do for them.
They should treasure this day for all that it means because I created them in my body and then fed them with my body and wiped their bottoms and did everything for them. They should remember that and act accordingly. Not every day, I mean, I’m reasonable, but just on Mother’s Day.
I really truly thought that. And guess how that worked out for me? Well, to my utter and complete shock, Mother’s Day was just another day to them. I mean, they gave me hugs and kisses and wished me a happy Mother’s Day and even made me presents at school for many years. And my husband is always very sweet and appreciative.
But here’s the thing about humans. They can’t and don’t read minds. And they don’t do everything we want them to. And I took that very personally on Mother’s Day. When the day didn’t go as I planned it in my head, based on what I expected of them, I would get mad.
And that would morph into sad, and the pity party in my mind would go something like this. “Of course they don’t appreciate me. Of course they aren’t celebrating me today. Why would they? I don’t really deserve it.” And then the list of all the ways I was failing and falling short and not showing up the way I wanted to as a mom and all the regrets I had over their little lifetimes of things I should have done or shouldn’t have said would start up and all the comparisons to other moms who were actually amazing and deserving would bombard me.
And I would end up crying alone in my room for some part of the day. It was super fun and awesome as you can imagine. I have since learned to love on and appreciate me no matter what other people do or don’t do, as well as either ask for what I want, or even more effective, just plan it myself.
I now plan all of my birthdays and I invite my family along and for the last few years, my girlfriends and I have taken a girls trip on Mother’s Day weekend because we decided we wanted to take a break from our mother duties as our gift and appreciation to ourselves. It’s awesome. And it has really taken the pressure off my family to try to decipher what I want and how to make me happy.
Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t still feel inadequate as a mom sometimes or feel regret about things I say or do with regard to my kids of course. There’s a lot of that swirling around with me and most of the moms I know. A lot of shoulds and supposed to’s and perceptions of what is good and right and enough when it comes to being a mom.
I once had a mentor share something that shifted her thinking when it comes to these invisible and ever-present standards we hold ourselves to as moms. She said, rather than trying to be the best mom or a good mom or an amazing mom or like another mom she looked up to admired, she decided to just be the mom that she is.
That didn’t look perfect or terrible or inadequate or amazing all the time. It was a combination of all of it and it was reality. I am the mom that I am. Period. It is true, it is inarguable. And there’s so much peace in that acceptance.
Think about how much of your time you spend thinking about the past and wishing it was different, whether we are talking parenting, weight loss, relationships, career, whatever. You know you’re thinking about the past because there’s a lot of I should have/I shouldn’t have, I wish, and if only happening.
Regret also signals past thinking. So it sounds like I shouldn’t have eaten that, I should have known better, I wish that happened differently, or I wish I could go back, or I wish I had my 20-year-old body again, if only I’d planned better, reacted differently, listened, et cetera.
Now, think about how much of your time you spend thinking about the future and what you hope is different? And not in the aspirational I’m going to create this new future for myself way, but in the I desperately need to escape to somewhere better way, or I have no idea what the future holds and that is scary way.
You can recognize this future fear thinking because there’s a lot of I can’t wait til, or what if, worry lives in the future. It sounds like, “I can’t wait until I lose this weight, I can’t wait until I get rid of this struggle, I can’t wait until blank happens and I can finally feel blank.” Or, what if this doesn’t work? What I if I can’t do this? What if I fail?
If we’re in the past or the future, we are not here in now. When we can only look back and see what went wrong, or look ahead to what might still go wrong, we are overlooking what is and that always feels unsettled, unstable, inauthentic.
This overlooking of what is, this arguing with reality is an argument we will never win as Byron Katie teaches us. So why do we argue with reality then? If it doesn’t change it, and we lose 100% of the time, why do we focus on what we want to change, what’s wrong, what we want to be different, instead of seeing and accepting what is? Why do we ignore what is real? What is actually happening?
Well, we think accepting means resigning from trying. We think accepting ourselves now, accepting our bodies now, accepting what is happening now will lead us to giving up and not moving forward. We think we have to focus on what’s missing or what’s wrong in order to know what we want to do differently.
We think ignoring or denying what is happening now, what we are doing, the choices we’re making with food, with our bodies, with taking care of ourselves, or the lack thereof somehow means it didn’t happen or isn’t happening. But none of this is true.
When we accept ourselves now and we feel love and compassion for us now, instead of disgust and dissatisfaction, we show up totally differently for ourselves. We treat ourselves differently. We make different choices.
When we pretend to not notice what we’re eating, how we’re taking care of ourselves, or we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, or that no one will ever know, so it doesn’t count, we are lying. Even if no one else knows, you know. And you are the only person that matters anyway.
So many of us are in denial on our weight loss journey, in denial of what is actually happening, in denial of what we are currently capable of, ignoring what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We make excuses, we shift the blame and focus to stress, or how busy we are, or to people around us. That too is arguing with reality.
Telling ourselves the truth, allowing ourselves to see and accept who we are and what we are, who we are and what we are choosing lets us drop the unwinnable argument and find some peace to move forward with. Think about the example of thinking, “I’m not a good enough mom.”
Or if you’re not a mom, just replace that with any other role or any other thing you want. You may have this thought about being not a good enough daughter or sister or partner or friend or boss or employee or advocate or person, whatever. Notice how you feel when you think you are not good enough, or that you should be different or more in some way.
What’s that emotion for you? What feeling does that belief create? Inadequate? Hopeless? Overwhelmed? Shame? Now try on this thought. I’m the mom that I am, or I am the blank, whatever role you chose there. No parenthesis allowed here. So no adding on a terrible on, like I am the mom that I am, a terrible one at that.
When you think I am the mom that I am, period, just think of the reality of that for you. Sometimes the mom that I am is one who ignores my children to get work done. Sometimes the mom that I am is one who goes above and beyond to create a magical and special and memorable birthday.
Sometimes the mom I am is the one who does all the laundry. Sometimes the mom that I am is one that takes out my frustration about my teenagers’ choices on them by not speaking to them for a week. Yes, that happened recently. I keep telling you I’m human and I stand by it.
How does speaking the truth to yourself feel? I am the mom that I am. What’s the emotion? To me, it’s compassion. I’m the mom that I am. I’m doing my best. Sometimes my best kind of sucks. Sometimes my best is amazing. But either way, it’s what I am right now.
There’s room for improvement and pride. There’s space to grow and learn, but also no pressure to be any different than I am. What about arguing with the reality of our bodies? The current reality. What our body is right now.
This is a big obstacle for many of us because we perceive our current bodies as so unacceptable we can barely look at them or think about what it feels like to be in them. So what would accepting the reality of our bodies be like?
What if instead of thinking about our body in terms of size or appearance or our judgment of it, or labels about it, we told ourselves the truth about it? I have this body right now. This is the body I have. This isn’t committing to love it. It’s not committing to embrace it.
It’s simply a shift to telling the truth about it. This is the body I have right now, period. It’s just true. Does it feel different than what you are currently believing about your body? Now be gentle here. Your brain is going to want to add on.
You’ll try on the thought, “This is the body I have right now,” and your brain will want to add, and it’s horrible, and I wish it wasn’t, and it’s unfair, et cetera. That’s okay. No need to argue. Just keep coming back to the present truth. This is the body I have right now.
One small tiny and monumental shift I can remember making was telling the truth to myself about what I was eating. Now, I know this sounds weird because how can you lie to yourself about what you are putting in your mouth? But if you know what I mean here, you know.
I was always eating mindlessly without regard to hunger or how foods felt in my body or what I needed. It was just hand to mouth with whatever was near, whatever was on the counter. I had a lot of rules about what I should or shouldn’t eat and what was good and bad though, so some, if not most of the time when I was eating mindlessly, I was also being sneaky.
Trying to eat behind my own back. Eating the foods I wasn’t supposed to be eating, and ignoring that I was doing it, or shoving them in my mouth really fast before I noticed. Now, this may sound delusional, it is. This is high-level arguing with reality. This is doing something while at the same time pretending you aren’t doing something.
Making excuses about it, justifying it, validating it, and then beating myself up after about it. So focusing on the past. Arguing with reality all around. Telling the truth to myself here sounded like me narrating to myself in my head what I was eating.
It sounded like me saying, “I’m eating this cookie right now. And now I’m eating another one.” Literally, it was just me telling the truth, observing what I was doing, owning what I was doing, absent of judgment, void of trying to change it. Just allowing myself to see and accept what I was eating.
Like I said, small and tiny but monumental. I was choosing not to hide, not to lie, not to deny. I was just being present with what I was doing, accepting reality. And it took shame away. Shame craves hiding and lying, so telling the truth, allowing myself to admit and accept what I was doing dissipated it.
Seeing it required me to face it. Accepting reality also means taking responsibility. But taking responsibility feels so much better than delegating responsibility outside of our control. Accepting reality and taking responsibility sometimes feels scary. Letting go of or being willing even to take a look at things you are believing about you, your body, your journey, can be overwhelming.
So telling the truth here is powerful too. This is what life looks like right now. This is what I believe about me right now. It is accepting reality, but it’s also leaving the door open for that reality to change. I’m the mom that I am, I’m the woman that I am, I’m the person I am right now, I am eating this, I’m doing this, I’m choosing this, I have this body right now, this is what life looks like right now, this is what I believe about me right now.
What would telling the truth to yourself sound like for you? What would accepting reality look like? What would it feel like? What tiny and monumental shift might you make?
Okay everybody, if you have burning questions about weight loss, I want to answer them. I’m doing a listener Q&A podcast in the near future and I’d love to include an answer to your question. So head to itbeginswithathought.com/question and submit your questions, any and all of them, and I’ll see you soon.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.