Thanksgiving and the holiday season is often seen as a problematic time of year for so many people. It arguably connotes food above everything else, but this day doesn’t have to end with you having consumed copious amounts of pie, having to lie down to make space, filled with regret and despair.
On this episode, I’m offering my top holidays tips to help you create a different experience this year, so you can continue heading in a direction that feels aligned with your goals. I’m also sharing another handful of nuggets of wisdom from the podcast that will keep what’s most important to you in perspective during this season.
Listen in as I share part three of my favorite nuggets of wisdom series, and invite you to take a deep dive where necessary. Taking in the goodness is awesome, but applying it with the exercises I recommend alongside each episode is what will move you forward.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 93.
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.
Hey everybody. So, tomorrow is American Thanksgiving. Which, let’s be honest, is a food-first holiday. I mean, I realize that one could argue. But, for most of us here in this space, pretty much every holiday and day, for that matter, is food first. But, for all intents and purposes, Thanksgiving is basically only about a meal, which can be problematic when you have health goals that don’t include copious amounts of pie and having to lie down to make room for all of it.
So, I want to give you a couple of tips to potentially help tomorrow look different than last Thanksgiving and more aligned with the direction you want to be headed in. Because the truth is, you can still enjoy a beautiful day with lovely company and even food and still take care of yourself. First and foremost, remember that Thanksgiving dinner is a meal, just like any other. Where you have the freedom to choose to eat whatever you want in whatever quantities you want. You don’t have to eat or to eliminate or to avoid anything. There’s nothing you can’t have. There’s no such thing as should or supposed to. There is only food and your autonomy to decide what of it and how much of it you want to eat.
So, think about what you want to eat before the time comes and how you want to feel in your body during and after the meal. You may not know exactly what will be served, but you can make some general decisions ahead of time that can act as a guide when you get there. What you want to eat, especially pie or dessert, was always my priority on Thanksgiving, back when I celebrated it. And you also want to feel like you can remain upright during the meal. So as to continue to enjoy the dinner conversations. And then go to sleep on Thanksgiving night with the meal fully digested in your tummy.
You will probably want to make your food selections accordingly for the meal so as to leave some room for said desert and space for your body to digest the food. If what you want to is everything, but you also want to feel satisfied and light and be able to go for a walk in the evening before bed, you may want to start with a bite of everything and then check in with yourself to see where you are at in terms of fullness. And if there’s room, go back for a little bit of your very favorites.
If what you want is to show up and eat whatever you want and whatever quantities you want, then maybe what you focus on is, giving yourself full permission to do so. So, when you lay your head on your pillow that night, it is full of love and void of regret.
The forethought of using your adult brain is key here. Then you know, even if your toddler brain protests. Decisions were made with love and your best interest and desires at heart, and it makes it much easier to honor the choices.
The reality is, it’s one day, one meal. No matter what you decide, it is not the make or break of your weight loss efforts. It doesn’t have to be a reason to quit on your health goals. It isn’t indicative of your worth or value. It doesn’t have to mean an entire weekend of disregard for your body or a six-week stint, through to New Year’s, where you cut off connection to how your body feels. Or give up listening to what it needs. Keep it in perspective, and keep taking care of you.
I want to share another handful of wisdom nuggets with you today, from the podcast. Listen for what resonates for what stands out. And then, go back to that episode for a deeper dive and especially make time to do whatever questioning or exercise I recommend in that episode. Consuming the goodness is awesome. Taking it into your life and applying it moves you forward.
From Episode 31, adjust your expectations. Adjusting your expectations can change not just your experience of the journey but your results as well. I want you to have a target to shoot for. I want you to have and be reaching for your goals. I want you to develop and aspire to a future that is an expression of your highest, best self.
But I want you to do all of that realistically, compassionately, and wisely. Expectations are predictions your brain is attempting to make based on its past experience and what it thinks should happen. Where do expectations and predictions live? In your imagination, of course. They haven’t happened. Your brain just made them up. They may be based on facts or evidence, but they are still conceptual and therefore optional to buy into and believe.
The truth is everyone’s body, and therefore weight loss timeline is different. There’s no accurate predictor of how long weight loss should take for you. It takes as long as it takes. And even if you only lose .2 pounds a month, you will still get to your goal if you keep going. Perfection isn’t realistic and therefore isn’t effective. Set yourself up for success by adjusting your expectations from perfect is the only way to progress; from all or nothing, to small changes equals success. Be gentle with yourselves. Have compassion for you for this process. Set realistic expectations. Make reaching your goal inevitable by finding ways to love your journey. Love your journey.
From Episode 32, Think Outside the Box. Problems present themselves in our lives, and sometimes the solution to that problem is counter-intuitive. It’s different or opposite of what we may assume works or what we have tried before. We adapt to the current situation, and we find a solution that works now. We think outside the box, and we look to change everything outside of ourselves as the solution on our weight loss journey.
When the counter-intuitive solution actually resides within us. We go to great lengths to change what goes into our mouths. But, the real solution, the opposite, or different, or counter-intuitive solution, is actually to look out and change why it goes into our mouths. It is not to remove the food from our lives and never see it again. So, it can’t control us. It’s to take back control and to learn to eat on our terms using the power of our minds. It’s not to use someone else’s plan. It is to experiment and find out what works for our body.
Another problem that requires some thinking outside of the box is urgency in weight loss. The counter-intuitive solution to being in a hurry is actually to slow down. That urgency is a message. It’s signaling that we believe the lie that something outside of us, the number on the scale, for example, will create a feeling inside us. The way to feel better inside is to change the outside. But, this is never true.
If you heard a grinding sound whenever you drove your car, you wouldn’t be like a fresh coat of paint will do the trick, or I will drive faster and see if it goes away. That makes no sense. It would slow down and look under the hood. Ongoing problem-solving is a perfect description of weight loss. There isn’t an exact combination of food that works for everyone at every stage of their lives. We try things and see what results we get, and then we try different combinations of things and see what results we get. We approach it with curiosity and commitment, and we figure it out.
So, what’s the counter-intuitive solution to dealing with feelings that doesn’t include escaping with food? The opposite of escape is to stay. To stay in our bodies and allow the discomfort to be there. To go inward where comfort and reward, and celebration are actually created and experienced. Outside the tiny one solution box, we can learn what our feelings feel like in our bodies. And that there is nothing to fear about discomfort. We have this space to discover what else we can believe to create the feelings that we want to experience.
From Episode 33, should you lose weight? Shoulds are always made-up rules. They are usually unreal expectations of us, our lives, and other people. They are always denying the reality of what is, for our alternative preference. They also usually feel like judgment because they imply that what is currently happening is not okay. Numbers are symbols; they just sit there on the scale, meaningless, without a human brain to attribute meaning to them. We know this because the number you see of the scale that you think creates your misery is someone else’s dream come true. And there is someone who sees your dream come true number right now and feels terrible about it. We see digits, make them mean something about us, and feel misery or joy based on the sentence we choose, period.
When we believe we will finally be okay, whole, complete, etc. When we lose the weight, we are, in essence, saying that our value is based on our weight or size. That humans who have lower numbers are more valuable than humans who have higher numbers. Can you see how ridiculous that sounds? Your value is fixed. It is innate. Picture some humans you love unconditionally, maybe your children or your friends or family members, and think of them as infants. Brand new innocent, pure goodness. Can you imagine looking at them and thinking, you are perfect now? But one day, you are going to grow up, and you are going to put on some extra pounds and be less valuable to me as a result.
But this other human I love will grow up and not gain extra weight, and she will be more valuable to me as a result. It’s insane, right? You, my friend, are no different. You were born with your value. And no matter what you do or what number you see on the scale, you won’t change it.
If you go into and through your weight loss journey, believing that your value will on the other side of it. A, it will be so much more difficult, likely even impossible. And B, if you do get to the end, it will be like receiving a beautifully wrapped box that is labeled happiness or value and opening it up to find that there is nothing inside. You can’t find happiness or value in there. It has to be created inside of you.
We can learn to create confidence with our minds through the work of weight loss, sure. Yes. We can increase our love for ourselves through the process of weight loss. Yep. We can show ourselves what we are capable of through the process of weight loss. We can strengthen our relationships with ourselves through the process of weight loss. We cannot, however, eliminate uncomfortable emotions. We cannot experience uninterrupted happiness. We cannot change our values. We cannot increase our worth, not through weight loss or by any other means.
From Episode 34, Weekend Thinking, it’s that rubberband of resistance being pulled back all week long, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. That then snaps back and has us rebound eating all weekend long. What exactly is the weekend? It’s comprised of days of the week. The sun rises and sets on these days, just like it does during the week. We need to eat food on the weekends and have meals just like on weekdays.
We have things going on on the weekends, activities, responsibilities, obligations, events, relationships, there’s still stress—still pain. Still suffering, even on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Taking care of yourself and being aligned with your highest self is still just as important on Saturday as it is on Tuesday. And the consequences of making decisions that aren’t aligned remain the same every day of the week.
We need to extricate ourselves from the idea that the weekends are somehow different than the weekdays. Let’s learn to look at what it is we really need on the weekends. We want to create a pressure valve release throughout the week, so it doesn’t feel like we need to just open up the lid and let them all out on the weekend. That’s not serving us in the end.
What that is actually creating for us is backtracking. Losing two pounds during the week and then gaining three on the weekend. Keeping our commitments and building trust with ourselves on the weekdays and throwing it away on the weekends.
From Episode 35, A What I Want Manifesto. Change requires belief in becoming something new that you aren’t quite yet. It takes the expectation that you can get there. Even if you don’t know, it is made real by authentic visualization of what you want and why. It comes to fruition as you apply these concepts and take action on your belief.
Your brain doesn’t subscribe to what it doesn’t believe. And, it loves to make thoughts it believes to be true even truer with evidence and examples, for better or worse. Your brain doesn’t create change from negatives. If I say don’t think about a yellow school bus, all you can think about is a yellow school bus, right? So, we have to phrase what we want to change in terms of what we want to do, be, and experience. Not what we don’t want anymore. What we are wanting to become needs to be realistic. So that our expectation that we can do it is high, change all of your don’t wants, to what you do want instead.
From Episode 36, Referencing the Past. In the process of weight loss, we don’t want to dwell on past mistakes or live in the past. Instead, we want to use the knowledge and experiences from the past to help us create success in the future just because you haven’t learned how to lose weight for the last time yet. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever be able to just because you have a pattern of doing really well for a few days and then eating all the things. That doesn’t mean that it has to remain your pattern forever.
Typically we use the past as evidence of what’s possible in the future. We use our experience of what usually happens as a predictor of what will happen. It is almost as if we see the past as a determining factor. But what if we use the past instead as a reference point. Kind of like the way we use the side mirror on our car. We check it to make decisions about how we want to move forward. Our eyes stay on the road in front of us on the journey as it is unfolding, and the glance in the mirror just helps us see what we need to do to navigate around obstacles that might inhibit us from moving forward effectively.
Episode 37, Parenting Your Toddler Brain. The toddler brain has gotten us this far as a human race by focusing on and prioritizing survival. We stayed together and mutually beneficial groups. We were driven to find food and stay away from danger and reproduce, and here we are. The adult brain evolved to help us thrive, not just survive. To create, to self-evaluate, to make big picture decisions about the future.
Your toddler brain is constantly throwing tantrums. It may not show up as screaming, yelling, crying, falling on the floor, going limp, hitting, running away, etc. But the drive is the same. It’s driven by in-the-moment immediacy, as is characteristic of the toddler brain. There’s no future focus. It is all about right now and right now only.
Getting the thing we want feels like a life or death mission. Tantrums on your weight loss journey often look like an urgent desire for something that takes over, and you feeling like you are eating out of your control. It feels like tunnel vision for a specific food, a craving that demands your attention. It’s loud. It’s hyper-focused. It’s a disregard for anything but putting out the fire of desire. Loving limits is what your toddler brain needs, not access to whatever it yells loudest about.
I remember when my kids were little, getting down on the floor with them. Crouching down to their level and noticing what the world looked like from their advantage point. All they could see is knees in a crowd, the underside of the table, so many things that were out of their reach. They would get preoccupied by bugs on the ground or dandelions because they weren’t focused on where we were going. But only what was happening right in front of them.
Your toddler brain gets like this sometimes. Crouched down low to the ground, focus on how hard it feels in this moment. Like it will never end. Sometimes we need to remember to stand up to our adult brain height and see things from a higher advantage point. There’s so much more than this moment. The future is out there; right now, it’s just a blip on the journey. The irony of our rebellion is that we are rebelling against ourselves. We’re rebelling against rules we made up in our own brains, even if we heard the rule from someone or some source outside of us. We chose to adopt the rule as our own and require ourselves to follow it. We are both capture and captive, and all in our imaginations. It’s madness.
Our adult brain recognizes the truth. That what we put on our plans and into our mouths is always our choice. That eating whatever you want is not true freedom. It doesn’t create freedom in our bodies. It doesn’t create freedom in our brains. It doesn’t create freedom in our lives. Our adult brain sees what true independence looks and feels like and what it does not. It does not look like not being driven to follow cravings and feeling shame about that. That is chains. It does look like being able to be around any food and any situation and choose to take care of ourselves. It looks like eating on our terms.
Your adult brain takes responsibility for your feelings. Your adult brain knows that everybody’s body is different. Your adult brain owns the choices made. Parenting your toddler brain here takes love and levity. Of course, your brain wants fairness. If everything was fair, it would be so much easier and more comfortable. Of course, your brain wants to lash out when it thinks things aren’t fair. That feels totally powerless, and lashing out sometimes feels like trying to gain some control.
But focus on fairness will never yield the result we want of things being fair. There will always be people who can eat pizza every day and not gain weight. You are not one of those people. And, no amount of pouting will change it. It will only create unnecessary suffering for you. This is just like weight loss. It is not a thing we do; it is a skill we build. It is an ongoing process of strengthening and improving, falling down, trying again, and persevering until we figure it out. It takes time, patience, commitment, determination, desire, resilience, and perseverance. But it’s a %100 possible, as long as you keep going.
From Episode 38, Zoom In Zoom Out. You can choose not to interpret the discomfort as a red light but instead as a signal to move forward. You can learn to leverage the discomfort to create real change. Zooming in is where we want to begin on any journey of change. Because any change we are looking to make happens in this moment. And in the subsequent moments that follow. In small decisions, steps, and habits, we create big long-term impacts.
It’s a series of small accomplishments and that dopamine reward that comes when we acknowledge those accomplishments that are the sparks that fuel the fire to our weight loss. I like to look at every wood along the way is kindling. You add a spark to the accomplishment of the first five pounds or the first week of planning and honoring it, or even a meal where you chose veggies over fries. Nurture it with planning, consistency, and commitment, and you get to watch the flames rise higher and higher and provide lasting heat and comfort. We have to build a pile of small accomplishment kindling that keeps us moving forward.
Episode 39, Change The Conversation. As Brenae Brown says, Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy. This is meant to be you letting the light in, excepting all of you, even the hidden parts. Shame cannot survive being spoken; it cannot survive empathy, especially empathy from you, for you. It can’t hurt, but it might help.
From Episode 40, What If? When we think in absolutes and decide we’re right and someone or something is wrong, we close the door on discourse. We shut down curiosity, turn our back on learning, see this happen in the world, and see this happen on our weight loss journey. Right-ness implies wrong-ness on the other side. And our strong need to be right usually stems from our fear of being wrong and our desire to control outcomes in order to avoid unpleasant emotions. That feeling is the message. It’s the signal telling you whether believing something is right or wrong is helpful and useful to you on your weight loss journey or not.
You all have probably heard the saying, do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? Our entrenched beliefs are often just blanket statements with a period at the end of the sentence. Things we have heard, picked up along the way, and are choosing to believe are true, without question. We choose to believe these things are true in order to create a framework for our world and make sense of it. We want to know the rules so that we can remain acceptable to the tribe. We want to know how to govern ourselves.
So, we pieced together a guide based on collecting information from outside of us and then taking it in and choosing what to believe. What we choose to believe dictates our actions. What we choose to believe is what creates who we are and how we show up. The key here is that we choose. Ultimately no matter what the rules are. What is offered to us, we choose to believe what we want. We are the deciders as to what is right and wrong to us, and we act based on what we decide.
Asking what if here, in essence, is changing all the periods at the end of those sentences of your beliefs to question marks. You don’t have to give up your belief. You can still choose to believe you are right. But having entertained the other options, you then get to hold on to your beliefs because you love them and want to keep them. Not out of fear of not being in control. Sometimes people refer to this as a cactus thought or belief, and when we believe it and hold onto it, it feels painful. But for whatever reason, we won’t let go, and we just keep squeezing tighter and creating more pain for ourselves.
We are always using our imaginations to create our experiences. Why not put them to work, creating forward motion, new feelings that drive us closer to our goals. Coming up with all of the other possibilities, let’s put question marks on the end of all our beliefs about us by asking what if?
Okay, amazing people, have a lovely holiday tomorrow, if you are celebrating. Or a lovely weekend either way. If you want to hop on the waiting list for my transformative, new group program that opens in February, head to itbeginswithathought.com/waitlist. You will get some fabulous bonuses just for being there. Like my navigating the holiday’s tool kit and my podcast quick start guide that includes amazing tools and exercises from my most powerful episodes to help you get started making changes now. You will also have very first access to applications when they open in January. 2022 is for you, and I would love to be a part of it. 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.