When you think about losing weight, all of the actions you need to take, what you want to achieve, and how much progress you’re making, how do you feel? My guess is there’s some tension there, bracing yourself for misery, holding tight to your rules, ready for white-knuckling.
For so many of us, we start a plan or program and we hold on tight, sheer determination driving us at a punishing pace. We’re unforgiving and intolerant of ourselves, and we end up like a tight ball of tension that needs to unleash. That unleashing can lead to a weekend all-you-can-eat, or even just an off-plan meal. But more often than not, it leads to us calling it quits before we reach our goal, and I’m offering you a counterintuitive solution in today’s episode.
Tune in this week to discover how to make space for things to be messy. I’m sharing the importance of opening up and relaxing to aid your weight loss, rather than buckling down and stressing, and all the things that we need to make space for on this journey.
This is Weight Loss Success, with Natalie Brown, episode 127.
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, certified life and weight coach Natalie Brown.
Hello everyone. I want you to close your eyes for a minute and just tune into your body. If you’re already on your weight loss journey, you’re in the middle of it, you’re going, I want you to think about what you are doing. All of the actions you’re taking and not taking. I want you to think about what you want, where you’re headed. And I want you to notice how you feel in your body. Does it feel open or tight?
If you are not on a weight loss journey, maybe you’re just thinking about getting started or you’re telling yourself you need to. Notice how you feel in your body when you do. Is it open or tight? For the majority of you my guess is there was a tightness or a tension that showed up in your body. If not then maybe you don’t need this podcast today. I mean I’m sure you will get something out of it.
But I’m really thinking about those of you who approach this process with a sense of bracing yourself for the misery, stealing yourself to the difficulty that lies ahead, standing firm, holding tight to your rules, no exceptions, rigidity, all or nothing, white knuckling. For so many of us that is what we do. We start a plan or program and we hold on tight, sheer determination driving us at a punishing pace. We tense up, we fight, we battle, we push. We are unforgiving and intolerant of ourselves.
We end up at some point a tiny tightly wound ball of depravation that has to unleash somehow. Sometimes it looks like a weekend, all you can eat. Sometimes it’s just a meal of whatever you haven’t been allowing yourself. And often it us calling it quits before we get to where we want to go. So, I want to offer you a counterintuitive solution. You know those are my favorite kind. To make space along the way, to open up rather than get tight, and tense, and closed.
We’re going to talk about making space, and opening up, and relaxing to aid your weight loss rather than the tightening up, the buckling down, the stressing. Doesn’t that sound refreshing?
Okay, so first thing we want to do is make space for it to be messy. We come into this with dreams and expectations that it will go smoothly, that we have found the perfect plan or program and therefore it’s going to go perfectly. But has that ever happened before ever in anything you’ve ever set out to do? I don’t know where we got this idea of perfection because I have never seen any version of it with myself or any of my clients.
I know why we dreamed it up though, because if we have a perfect journey without hiccups we won’t have to feel as much discomfort and that is our brain’s primary purpose, to avoid discomfort. But it won’t ever go smoothly. There is no perfect plan or perfect execution of that plan. Your toddler brain will have tantrums daily at least, maybe multiple times a day, it will be messy. As you shift from food as your escape hatch from emotions to learning to let the emotions come up and be felt and experienced, it will be messy.
As you learn to plan and make decisions with your adult brain about how to take care of you and what to eat. It will feel hard and there will be days more in the beginning for sure that you just opt out of planning altogether. It will be sporadic and it will be messy. You will feel like eating all of the things in large quantities even though you know that doesn’t align with your goals and isn’t driven by love. And then you will sometimes go through with the desire to eat all of the things in large quantities.
And you’ll want to beat yourself up about it heavily and it will be messy. Your weight loss will not be on the timeline you want it to be. You will not wake up tomorrow and be at your goal weight with a life full of sunshine and rainbows. It will go slow and then it will speed up, and then it will stop. And then it will go and then slow. It will be messy.
Once upon a time when I had little kids and we lived in a little house, our family room was also the toy room and served many other functions. It was where we lived, and played, and gathered, and watched TV, and took naps, and ate half the time. And it was always messy. I mean I had created an organizational system where I had bins, and baskets, and handmade labels with cute paper and lettering, and pictures so that my kids who were too little to read could put things where they were supposed to go.
But my kids didn’t want the toys to be put away in my neat and tidy little bins. They wanted them out all over the floor, mixed together, on the couch, in a pile, paused in action so they could run outside and play and then come back to exactly what they were playing before. So, the perfection of neat and tidy bins where the theme was a place for everything and everything in its place was a fantasy, not a reality. Sure, we put away the toys at the end of the day many days.
And my brain that wanted order somewhere in my life smiled at that but the rest of the days we went to bed having played hard and left the mess and my heart smiled at that. The point is the messy means we are living. Perfectly orderly playrooms are not places where kids actually play, and have fun, and learn, and experiment. We want to be able to have the space to experiment, and live, and learn on our journey. We want to make space for the mess, knowing that it means we are doing it.
The second thing to do, make space for who you are right now. I was just thinking as I was driving today about all the things I am. We’re kind of in the middle of something and some of these characteristics that I will soon mention really coming into play. And I had this revolutionary train of thought, so much different than how I have thought in the past. For so much of my life I wanted to be different than I was. I wanted to be more sweet, and more bubbly, and more positive, and more gentle.
For some reason those were just qualities I thought I needed to have. I wanted other people to describe me as someone who is nice and loves everyone. A person that no one would ever have an unkind thing to say about. I didn’t want to be loud, and feisty, and opinionated, and skeptical. And today I realized that I have grown to want all of those things about me rather than rejecting them. Nothing against those of you who are sweet, and bubbly, and positive, and gentle. I am not.
I want my loud opinions. Everyone knows where I stand and I stand. I want my feistiness. I don’t put up with crap. And I defend people I love and causes I care about fiercely. I want my skepticism, it drives me to really seek to understand and make wise decisions. It allows the people I love to consult with me because they know I will see things for what they are and I will ask a lot of questions and especially with my amazing eternal optimist husband, really help him see what his optimism sometimes blinds him to.
It’s so refreshing to be in a place where I accept who I am, where I want to be who I am rather than wishing I was someone different. We are always running away from ourselves in so many ways. We deny our current body. I hear my clients say things like, “This is not what I’m supposed to look like.” Or when I saw myself in the mirror in that photo I was shocked. That’s not what I think I look like. Or even more painful than denial, we hate our current bodies for their shape and size.
We don’t acknowledge who we are now because we are focused instead on who we once were or on who we want to be in the future. We are unwilling to be realistic about what we are currently capable of and why. And instead, we have impossible expectations of what we should be able to do. How could you make more space for who you are now? Accept what your current body is, what you are currently capable of, your characteristics and tendencies, the past that created the you of the present.
Wanting to be who you are now will not keep you from evolving, it’s how you begin to engender the love fuel to power your journey. The third thing to do, make space for skill building. Weight loss is not a you can or you can’t kind of thing. It’s a bunch of new skills, we need to practice and improve at. Often we look at it as something we should just know how to do and do. We leave no space for practice and then we end up quitting when we think we can’t do it well or right, or at all.
We want to make space to practice some of these new skills like recognizing hunger and satiety, and honoring them. Pausing when the desire to eat past hunger or eat off of our plan comes. Riding the waves of discomfort, saying no to yourself, seeing the strengths, not just the weaknesses, forgiveness, forward focus, all of these are skills that we want to remind ourselves that we are practicing. We are repeating until we improve our proficiency, that is the definition of practicing. Perfection is not the goal, improvement is and that takes practice and time.
The fourth thing to do, make space for your feelings. This is a giant piece of the pie chart of your weight loss journey. Food is a tiny slither. I have a client who is right in the middle of this process. She is letting go of using food as the tool to mask her painful feelings. And in the absence of food there is just feelings. She’s feeling all of the emotions come up that she has kept at bay with food. There are tears and pain but as she feels she processes and releases that pain that has emerged.
And she teaches herself that she’s capable of doing that, that it isn’t so scary, that she won’t die, it’s not fun, it’s not easy. But it is necessary in order for us to learn how to navigate emotions without hiding them under a pile of food. A huge part of changing our eating and taking care of ourselves differently is making space for navigating our feelings instead of eating.
One of my favorite concepts from a book I love called The Untethered Soul is the idea of relaxing behind an uncomfortable emotion. That language of relaxing behind it, I think because it is literally the opposite of what we normally want to do in the face of uncomfortable emotions, it just intrigued me so much when I read it. So, I had to try it. When I feel an uncomfortable emotion and want to escape it, and I tell myself to relax behind it instead, it reminds me to slow down, to zoom into the feeling, to look at it in front of me, to experience it and I don’t run.
The fifth thing to do, make space for taking care of you in your life. If figuring this out is always on the backburner and always usurped in priority by other things, you won’t make any headway toward your goal. Other things will keep butting in line in front of it. This process requires time and energy. Those two things don’t just randomly happen. I know we use a lot of language around time and energy that makes it seem as if it just happens, things like find time, but we have to make time. We have to make time, we have to invest energy.
I hear my clients all the time explaining away their ability to take action for themselves in this area because of the things that came up in their lives, or are happening in their lives. But a magical window of time and an energy potion are not going to all of a sudden appear. We have to make time and invest the energy that is required to take care of ourselves. So, try something new, try setting other things aside. Put them on the backburner instead and put you upfront.
Learning how to take care of you in mind and body is what will lay the foundation to opening up your life to all the things. It’s a small sacrifice now for a great reward in the future. You won’t just all of a sudden feel the burst of desire that will get you going. You have to create it, you have to fan the flames knowing you are building something great. So, make space for it to be messy. Make space for who you are right now. Make space for skill building. Make space for your feelings. Make space for taking care of you.
If you don’t, there won’t be any space and you and the future that you want to create will get crowded out by everything else.
Best news friends, applications are open for my next Love First Weight Loss group where we will dive deep into how to make space for all of this with help and support and lots of time to practice. I’d love for you to join us. Just head to itbeginswithathought.com/apply 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.