Whether it’s after school, before dinner, or Friday night, are you finding that these times present a challenge to you for eating on plan?
These day-to-day transitions from work to home, or from CEO to mom, or even from regular routine to vacation and back again can be really sticky when it comes to food and eating. Trust me, you’re not alone if you find yourself struggling to commit in these times to take care of yourself how you’d like to long term. So this week, we’re going to figure out what’s going on and strategize about how to set yourself up for success.
Join me this week to discover why so many of us experience transition trouble spots in terms of eating on plan and taking care of ourselves. If you find yourself leaning on food for comfort or relief, and it’s not contributing to your weight loss goals, I’m showing you how you can start understanding these trouble spots so you can come up with alternative solutions.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 70.
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 am sitting here in a completely quiet house, empty of all the other humans that usually occupy it and it is glorious. Not that I don’t love the humans, but quiet space just feeds my soul. I revel in it. And nowadays, it’s a superbly rare treat.
As my kids have gotten older and their social lives and schedules have changed, it seems like there’s always someone here. Always a TV or music or TikTok or Marco Polo or FaceTime happening when they are here. Always noise and activity and a feeling of fullness in my house, which is a fun gift on its own, but this empty space where not only is there quiet but no one coming in and asking something of me, or telling me a story, or leaning on me to mediate an argument, this is precious time for me.
I find myself taking deep breaths and relaxing in a totally different way. When my kids were all in school and I was running my household as my job, this was every day. It sounds so luxurious to me now to have six hours of uninterrupted alone time every day.
Back then, on the first day of school, I would throw a solo party where I stayed home in bed by myself in my PJs and I watched my favorite movies. No one talking to me or needing me and no noise unless I wanted it. It was such a contrast from the constant almost relentless go, go, go of summer fun.
I celebrated that transition back to the routine of the school year. The transition from school to summer or summer back to school, the transition from work to home, the transition from kids at school to after school, from dinner time to bedtime, the transition from the workweek to the weekend, from the busy season at work to the slow season, from regular routine to vacation and back again, the transition from role to role, CEO or doctor to executive to mom or partner.
These day to day transitions present a unique challenge for our brains; to switch gears and keep going. Many of my clients and I’m sure many of you find these places are the stickiest ones when it comes to food and eating. These are the times that my clients find themselves challenged the most to keep their commitment to themselves in terms of what they want to be eating and how they want to be taking care of themselves.
So many of my clients get caught up in eating unplanned chocolate in that hour between work and dinner, or eating all the things, plus two glasses of wine after the kids are in bed and no one’s needing them anymore. It’s like that space I’m talking about right now, alone time.
Whether it’s after school, before dinner, at bedtime, or Friday night, if you are finding that these are the times that you’re eating off plan, overeating, leaning on food or drinks for comfort, for relief, for pleasure, and it isn’t contributing to success with your weight loss goals, then this podcast is for you.
Let’s talk about what’s going on and let’s strategize a little bit about how to set yourself up for success and take care of you no matter what the transition is. Let’s give some credit here to your brain, doing its best for you.
Think of the different hats you wear throughout the day, the roles you fulfill that demand different things of your brain, the tasks that you are faced with in a given day that require different sets of skills.
My work life runs the gamut from teaching coaches and students, to coaching clients, to marketing, to administration, to content creating, financial planning, solving tech issues, scheduling, responding to emails, researching, self-reflection, continued education, and that’s just work.
I’m also the mom to three very different children in age, temperament, and needs. I’m the CEO of my household and partner, consultant, confidant, and friend to my husband. I’m a daughter, a friend, a neighbor, a member of a church community. Living my life and taking care of my responsibilities and managing it all requires a lot of my brain. It has a lot to balance.
It’s no wonder that my brain wants a break between work and home, between client calls and kids, between the workweek and the weekend, and why these are the places where we are going to food to help us create that break.
Our brain is looking for a signal that one thing is over and the next thing is starting. A delineation between one set of expectations and the next. This is why you may find yourself grabbing your phone and scrolling social media at the end of a client meeting, or immediately wanting chocolate as soon as you pull into your driveway after work.
Your brain knows what’s coming. It knows that you will open the door and be met with another set of demands or expectations and it’s just looking for some relief from the pressure, or some peace from the stress, or an escape from the overwhelm.
Food has played that role poorly and at a cost, but still, it has worked in the past and your brain has logged it as the transition solution. As one means to the end, that being feeling better.
But if you’re on a journey to lose weight or to better health or to learning how to take the best care of yourself, chocolate after work, popcorn and wine after the kids are in bed, throwing a plan out the window and eating all the things on the weekend is not the most useful solution.
It’s a temporary and mediocre one at best. If we want to up-level our health by losing weight and taking better care of ourselves, this transition trouble spot is one we want to take a closer look at. The first step is to identify the transition trouble spots for you and understand why they are presenting a challenge.
Do you notice a pattern of night eating, going to food after the kids are in bed, or the day is done? Do you notice you are relying on your habit of two glasses of wine after work? Do you notice you’re eating sugar from three to six as kids are getting home from school and you’re coordinating homework and activities and getting dinner ready?
Do you notice that you’re counting down to Friday night and a “break” from planning/taking the opportunity to eat all the things? Then try to identify what your brain is looking for by engaging in these behaviors. Relief from stress, a pressure valve release, a break from the day, an escape from the perceived chaos, or maybe it’s a desire to create a feeling like reward, fun, or joy.
That is what we want to zoom in on. What does my brain and body really need in these moments? Then we want to plan in some transition rituals that can serve as alternatives to the current habits that will set us up for success.
I just want to say that eating at night, drinking two glasses of wine after work, eating sugar from three to six, and eating all the things on the weekends are not inherently bad or problematic choices. They’re only a problem if the results of those behaviors don’t align with your health goals.
If the night eating is contributing to weight gain or inhibiting your weight loss, if the glasses of wine are disrupting your sleep, if the eating sugar from three to six is causing an energy crash and irritability when it’s time to get dinner going, if the eating all the things on the weekend is leading to bloating, physical discomfort, and the scale being up on Monday, then you might want to consider looking into some alternative solutions.
If you are really wanting some quality alone time and peace at the end of the night after everyone is in bed, it’s not the food that will do that job. What do you really need? What will serve you? What will fill your proverbial cup instead of your literal tummy?
Maybe it’s unloading all of your thoughts onto paper and then reading a novel for a few minutes before going to bed. Maybe it’s a few minutes outside, breathing some fresh air with a warm cup of herbal tea. Maybe it’s Netflix in your comfiest PJs. What makes alone time quality for you?
What thoughts generate peace? Or whatever that feeling is that you’re craving at the end of the night. What is standing in the way of you leaning into those thoughts and creating that feeling for yourself? Your brain does a much better job of creating lasting wellbeing than food ever will, especially the kinds of foods we are usually reaching for at night.
Let’s be honest, we’re not usually snacking on carrot sticks or fresh avocado or roasted chicken at night. More like chips and M&Ms and Red Vines, right?
After work is also a big one. Seems to be a trouble transition for many of my clients. It makes perfect sense. Your brain is in one mode at work, or many, and home is for most of us a different mode.
So think about your current ritual in this transition time. Starting from when you leave work to come home. What rituals do you have at work to close out your day? How are you typically feeling at the end of your workday? What happens next?
Do you commute home? Do you walk from your home office to your kitchen to get dinner started? These details are important because another effective way of addressing any transition trouble spots you’re noticing is to build on or expand what’s already happening.
I always pick up my desk, close out all the apps on my computer, and turn off my lights and turn down the AC before I leave my office. But this isn’t quite enough time for me to turn off my workday in my mind before diving into the next thing at home.
So I added in a super simple breathing exercise and a couple of minutes of thought work, just emptying out my brain, to help me let go and recenter and prepare for what’s next. Sometimes I don’t do that. I just sit at my desk for a few minutes and mindlessly scroll Instagram or Pinterest before moving on to the next thing.
But either way, it’s a break for my brain between activities. I structure my workday so that I see clients from morning until early afternoon, basically school hours. I take a break for a few hours to hang out with my kids, drive carpools, eat a late lunch, and do stuff around my house, or administrative stuff in my business. And then I go back to seeing clients and teaching in the evenings.
One of my favorite transition rituals from home back to work in the evening is to listen to one of my favorite songs and dance it out a little bit for a few minutes while I brush my teeth and fill up my water and prep to go back out to my office.
Your transition rituals don’t have to be long and drawn out or complicated, as you can hear from mine. The purpose is just to take a break to reset and recharge for whatever is next so you’re not having to go from zero to 60 anywhere during your day.
Another note here. This idea of reset is something we can do throughout our day as a preventative measure to help ease the challenge of our transitions. This from clinical psychologist Michelle Frank, “Concentration and focus are renewable resources, but they need to be recharged. It’s really important to give your brain time to reset and refocus throughout the day.”
If you’re finding that you’re looking for a pressure valve release at the end of the day, or in transition from work to home, how can you incorporate some reset and refocus time into your day at intervals so that the pressure isn’t so intolerable by the time 6pm rolls around?
The idea of transition rituals isn’t to just add in a whole bunch of new activities in place of the old ones. I love this wisdom from Anna Borges of SELF magazine.
“The key is to be intentional about when and how you do these things. If it were as simple as taking breaks or carrying out a specific routine, we wouldn’t have an issue in the first place. Putting purpose and thought behind how we move from one thing to another, whether that’s starting, stopping, or switching between tasks can put us in the right headspace to stay on track.”
These foods solutions your brain has been relying on to navigate transitions have become habits over time. Your toddler brain’s always like, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” which is why we keep doing the same things, employing the same temporary solutions for these transition trouble spots over and over.
This is where we want our adult brain to get involved. Your adult brain has a much more big picture view of what broken is. If these temporary solutions are not aligned with your long-term goals, they’re broke and they need fixing.
So first identify where and why this is happening for you. Come up with some alternatives and look for places where you could enact some preventative measures throughout your day, and then plan with intention how you will carry out these new solutions until they become habits.
Transitions in your day and in your life don’t have to be trouble spots if we can come at them with understanding of what it is we really need and approach solutions with intention.
Okay my friends, I’m still looking to answer any weight loss questions you have on a future Q&A podcast. If there is a question you have, or even a particular issue you’re dealing with or a topic you would love addressed on the podcast, let me know.
Chances are if you are struggling with something, so is someone else, or many someones. Most of my clients think that they’re the only one who worries about or struggles with or thinks certain things, which is why I love doing weight loss in small groups.
My clients get to meet other humans just like them who worry about and struggle with and think some of the very same things they do. It’s so freeing to know you’re not alone. I’ve heard it all and I would love to hear from you and help you.
So head to itbeginswithathought.com/question and submit yours to me today. You can even do it anonymously if you want. Have an awesome week everybody. 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.