How many times have you fallen into the trap of listening to outside information about what you need on your weight loss journey? I spent 30 years listening to literally anything anyone told me about diets I needed to try and doing crazy things to lose weight, and spent zero years listening to my own body.
Learning to listen to your own inner wisdom is a skill, my friends. As a weight loss and mindset coach, a problem that I notice frequently is that we ignore our own wants and desires, and disconnect from ourselves in service of listening to someone else. You are the real expert on you, and trusting what aligns for you is the only way to lose weight for good.
Join me on the podcast this week as I show you why it’s not possible to listen to outside sources for inside information. After a lifetime of seeking answers from others, learning to listen takes time and compassion, so I’m giving you some questions and exercises you can try out to start tuning into your body and what it really needs.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 49.
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.
Hey everybody. I have been thinking a lot about what and who I listen to lately. After I watched The Social Dilemma, which I highly recommend, I started thinking about what and who I listen to on social media, what news and facts and versions of events and opinions and philosophies and ideologies I listen to, to form my own thoughts about the world.
As the New Year approached, I thought about what and who I listen to when planning my own growth and change and goals, what experts and strategies and programs and priorities drew and commanded my time and attention.
And I recognized something that concerned me. That my focus was on things outside of me to help me determine what was important inside of me. Not that I don’t think it’s useful or important to be informed, or that I think it’s a problem to consult experts to help me discover new things, obviously.
I am a weight loss mindset expert on a podcast helping you discover new things. So that isn’t the problem I’m noticing. The problem arises when we value outside sources over our own inner wisdom. When we ignore our wants and desires and we disconnect from ourselves in service of becoming something or someone else.
It’s a trap I have fallen into many a time. Believing that someone else knows what I should do, that something outside of me knows what’s best for me, better than I do. And that I need to ignore whatever complains or whisperings I hear from inside of me in order to meet their expectation or an expectation I have set for myself based on what they told me I should do or be.
I’ll give you an example since I’m being sort of vague and nebulous, I know. I have talked before about my years-long wrestling match with a proper morning routine. I had compiled from many sources on the topic what I thought was a correct morning routine, the kind of morning routine that would create the successful life I thought was necessary for me to make an impact in the world.
It included many critical components that I had heard were absolutely vital to my success as a human being. Including but not limited to 30 minutes of meditation minimum, preferably 45 to an hour, an hour of vigorous exercise, self-reflection and goal setting, getting fresh air and at least 10 minutes of sunlight, yoga or stretching, a warm caffeinated beverage, journaling, making my bed, recording gratitude, spiritual studies, prayer, reading, pondering, wondering, calendaring, planning, walking, running, talking cuddling, focusing, creating, all the ings.
Completely reasonable, right? Just seven or so hours of super critical morning routining. For the love. It is no wonder it hasn’t come to fruition in my life, right? I’ve tried 700 iteration and combinations to try to find the right fit, the perfect recipe for morning success.
But all I found was misery or failure to comply or complete. I wasn’t listening to what I wanted, which is seven to eight hours of sleep every night and time with my teenagers when they’re awake, or what I like, which is not rigid routine, or what works for me in other areas, flexibility.
I was just always listening to outside sources for inside information. It’s not possible. Learning to listen to me in this area looks first and foremost like a whole lot of compassion and acceptance. I am not a person who wants to get up at 4am. I’m just not.
I am a person who wants to stay up until 11pm so I can communicate with my kids and get people home from friends’ houses or dance or whatever and go to bed knowing where they all are. Since sleep is important to me, that means sleeping until six or seven, and then starting my day well rested.
I don’t care about making my bed. I love how it looks all made up, but if I’m just going to get back in it later, I might as well leave it undone. Now, I know, not everyone is like me and the thought of my unmade bed feels like blasphemy to your make-your-bed-no-matter-what self and that’s okay.
You make that bed and you send me pics so I can enjoy it. There’s some self-reflection practices I love and I value. I love reading and journaling and pondering. I enjoy being outside in the sunshine, I love to exercise at Orange Theory preferably, I enjoy meditation.
My spiritual health is important to me. But not all of that has to take place in the morning, and not all of it needs to happen every day. So just like I’ve been teaching you lately about micronizing your goals, breaking them down into tiny doable steps, that’s what I ultimately did with my morning routine.
First of all, I refer to it as morning practice. I like the connotation of that word better. It’s more flexible to me, less rigid, and that feels good to me. It also signifies that this is a work in progress and doesn’t have to be perfect or the same or life-altering every day.
I really listened inside. First of all, to why I even want a morning routine in the first place. Because all successful people do it or because so-and-so swears by it wasn’t compelling to me. It wasn’t an inside reason.
Why I ultimately want this, my inside reason is to connect to me first thing in the morning, to show me that I am a priority and to set my intention that I matter first. Before I go about waking kids up for school or feeding my dogs or answering emails, I listen to the practices that matter to me that line up with my most important values and I created some tiny doable versions of those things I really love and I want to incorporate into my mornings.
I meditate for one to five minutes right when I get up. I get to choose how long based on how I’m feeling. One minute minimum, and really the sky is the limit for how long I guess. I could totally decide I have an open morning and want to meditate for an hour one day. It’s totally up to me.
And a lot of people might say that one minute isn’t enough but it’s enough for me. It gets me centered with a mantra, a belief that I can repeat and deeply breathe into and it works. I pick one or two other things I want to do. My gratitude journal, scripture study, read, thought work, whatever. And then I get up and on with my day. Simple, doable, and totally me.
It doesn’t look the same every day, but it achieves the same purpose every day. I send me a message. I love you and you matter. And it feels so easy because I am connected to my inside reason.
I want you to think about ways that this is showing up for you in your life and in weight loss in particular. Where do you notice that you are consulting outside sources for inside information? How often do you listen to something someone told you you should try or should do without checking in with what you want, what’s important to you, what feels good, or even what works?
And I include me as one of those voices for you in the mix here. I give you lots of suggestions. I offer you lots of different perspectives and tips and things to try. How often do you check in with the things I teach you to see what or how or if it applies to you or if you want to utilize it?
I remember literally trying anything anyone told me would help me lose weight. All cucumber diets, cutting out bananas, eating bananas, eating protein every two hours, not eating protein, more water, less water, eating an apple before dinner so I wouldn’t eat as much dinner.
I mean, the list is endless. It’s 30 years of seeking an answer’s worth of crazy shenanigans and zero years of listening to my body in any way. I really want you to think about something recently, one thing that you have been told you should do on your weight loss journey, or that you have read you should do, whatever form the should came to you as, including from me.
Does it apply to you and your situation, your body? Does it line up with your values? Does it match your objectives? Your vision for your future you? Is it something you want to do? Is it something you think might be challenging but you’re willing to try?
Learning to listen starts with trusting that you have inner wisdom, that you are the expert on you. Other people can advise you, but they don’t know what it’s like to be you. Only you know that. When you trust that, you can take outside information and weigh it against your inside wisdom and make the decision that is right for you.
You don’t have to feel amazing and excited and capable in order to make the decision to do or try something, but you want to feel like the decision is in alignment with you.
For example, for some people, cutting out all sugar is a decision that when they listen inside aligns with their goals. They want to get back to whole foods and away from processed foods. For some people, when they listen inside, cutting back on sugar feels most aligned. For most people who love sugar, limiting sugar in any way feels challenging, but for many of them, when they listen inside, it feels necessary.
And for some when they listen inside, they find it doesn’t feel necessary or aligned. Learning to listen to your body’s inner wisdom about what food feels good in your body, what hunger and satiety feel like in your body, what your feelings feel like in your body takes practice and consciousness.
But I think it’s some of the most important listening you can learn how to do. Most people walking around in the world living comfortably at their natural weight, minus food drama, simply listen to their bodies. They eat when they’re hungry, they eat food that nourishes them, and they stop eating when they’re full. Seriously.
Think of the people in your life like this. My husband is one of them. He can say no to chocolate cake any time, which I didn’t think was a thing people could do. They can seem like elusive magical unicorns with special powers, but their special power is really just listening.
Now, I know there are many layers to this issue of being able to listen. Our desire to escape uncomfortable emotion gets in the way at times, our habits get in the way, all of our thoughts about food and hunger and waste get in the way. I get that.
But when we break it all down to its simplest form, the thing we want to learn how to do is listen to our bodies at the end of the day. We want to learn to listen to what hunger feels like in our bodies. Many of us eat so often for fear of feeling hunger that we don’t actually know what it feels like.
Here are a couple of exercises you can try to help you learn how to listen to and get to know your body’s hunger signals. Set an alarm to go off every couple of hours throughout the day, or more often if you’re up for it. And check in with your hunger.
Are you hungry at all? Slightly hungry? Famished? Rank it from zero to 10 and keep track of the numbers. Start to notice your body’s hunger patterns. Every time you think about food or eating throughout the day, check in with your hunger. How often are you thinking about food when you’re actually hungry and how often are you thinking about food when you’re not?
Also, you can notice what hunger actually feels like in your body. When you notice you are hungry, scan your body for any sensation that’s calling your attention. Notice what signals your body gives when you are slightly hungry, on your way to full-blown hunger. What changes? What shifts? What happens?
We also want to learn to listen to what particular foods feel like in our bodies. We are often so focused on taste, we ignore the impact in our bodies. One of my favorite questions, what foods do I love that don’t love me? Are there foods that don’t agree with your body even though your tastebuds love them?
I used to love sour gummy candy, like Sour Patch Kids, Sour Watermelons especially, all the sour gummy things. But gummy candy makes me bloat. Like painful stomach bloating and the sour powder hurts my teeth and makes them sensitive for a couple days.
So perfect example of a food I love, I love the taste of, that doesn’t love me. What, if any, are those foods for you? And if you don’t know, start paying attention to how you feel after you eat things. Not just during, but after. How does your body feel after?
The last part of learning to listen to our bodies is to listen to satiety, fullness. This can seem especially elusive and difficult since the sensation of full often takes a minute to register in our brains. And since many of us have been taught and cultured to ignore satiety in order to clean our plates and not waste food, and also because we’re enjoying the taste experience and don’t want it to end sometimes.
But satiety does have nuances, quiet little whisperings that signal fullness before we totally feel it that we can learn to hear. Here’s a couple of things you can try. Plan specifically to have a mindful meal.
I talked about this in episode 16 and I even created an exercise for you that you can find in the show notes of that episode. The idea is that you create space to really connect to how your body is feeling as you eat.
You can also pause every couple of minutes as you’re eating and ask yourself, am I still enjoying this food? Or am I satisfied yet? Another thing you can do is put half as much on your plate as you think you want to eat or are hungry for.
So if you usually eat three slices of pizza, put one on your plate. If you normally have a whole chicken breast, cut it in half. Eat that much and then check in with your body. Are you still hungry? Are you satisfied? Are you full but just want to eat more just because?
Notice what emotion you’re feeling. Notice what comes up for you when you only eat half. Now, this is meant to be a discovery exercise. Not a criminal investigation. So go easy. Be compassionate to yourself. We want to notice what’s going on inside. We are learning to listen.
You can also experiment with what it feels like in your body to be overfull compared to what it feels like to be hungry or slightly full. What is the experience of stopping before you are satisfied compared to stopping after you are satisfied? Write it down.
I think it’s really helpful, especially when we have one of those experiences where we overeat to the point of uncomfortable fullness to record what that feels like. What your stomach feels like, what your lungs feel like, what your throat feels like, all the different parts of your body that are affected. Notice what it feels like and kind of make a record of it.
Sometimes I think when we pay attention and then record and see with our eyes what’s happening inside of our head, it’s so helpful and revealing. Learning to listen is a skill. A new skill takes time and practice and patience to build. So if you don’t currently possess this skill, don’t expect that you will be an expert right away. Give yourself time. Experiment, play, wonder, be curious, and be compassionate.
Listening feels like kindness. We are not spying to find fault and spot missteps. We are listening for understanding and for our ultimate growth. It’s a process. So give yourself grace as you go through it. As you do this, you will learn how to advocate for you and for future you with love. And that is how we make changes stick. With love.
Okay everybody, my February weight loss group is halfway full already. I’m so excited to get started with these amazing ladies. Learning to listen is a skill among many other skills that my clients are building, that these lucky ladies are going to have the opportunity to start learning how to do.
They are changing their brains, my clients are losing weight for good. So if you have been waiting to apply for whatever reason, don’t wait any longer. Go to itbeginswithathought.com/apply. I’d love to help you learn to listen to your miraculous body and become the future you that you are dreaming about. She is real and she is so very possible. See you soon everybody.
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.