Where are you on your health and weight loss journey? You might be at the very beginning, dreaming about how you’ll feel at the end. Maybe you’ve yet to start again after the last time you quit. Or if you’re currently in the middle of your journey, you might be thinking about how far away the end still feels and how tempting it is to quit.
The common thread here is that no matter where any of us are, we all seem to be thinking about being somewhere else. This experience brings with it lots of discomfort, so it’s no surprise we do this. But doing everything in our power to not be present poses some issues, and it needs to be addressed.
Join me on the podcast this week as I lay out the various phases of the health and weight loss journey that you might be experiencing, and how we show up in each stage in a way that doesn’t serve us. I’m offering observations from my own life as well as my clients’, and one powerful tool that will help you check in and dial into where you are with love and kindness for yourself.
This is Weight Loss Success, with Natalie Brown, episode 111.
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. I kind of wanted to say episode triple ones today but I refrained. It just sounds cooler than 111 somehow I think. Also, holy crap, episode triple ones. It’s amazing to me still that I have 111 episodes worth of help to offer and knowledge to share. I’m still amazed that I have not run out. But honestly, as I work with clients daily, and I hear their stories, and I see inside their brains as they come and open up to the process of change, there is just always something else that comes up. And I think they need to know this and so we here we are 111 weeks later.
So, what came up this week is how we are all somewhere on our health and weight loss journey, on our self-acceptance journey. And we are usually thinking about being somewhere else. If you’re at the beginning you’re thinking about the end where all your dreams come true. Or if you haven’t started yet, or let’s be honest, haven’t started again since the last time you quit you’re thinking about the beginning and probably the past, the last time you tried and quit, or all the times you tried and quit.
If you’re in the middle you are thinking about how different the beginning was, how far away the end is and how good it would feel to quit like you have in the past. Do you notice a theme? That no matter where we are we aren’t thinking about where we are. We are doing everything we can to not be where we are. This poses some issues to our ability to be successful and to change that I want to talk about.
If you haven’t started yet and you’re thinking about it, I call this in between. Like when you’re unemployed you might say you’re in between jobs or when you are single you might say you’re in between relationships. Because for any of us here in this space, we are always starting quitting or thinking about and looking for some new plan to start. We’re in between attempts. So, when you’re in between you are usually in one of two modes, screw it, I don’t care mode or I have to do something about this mode.
Screw it, I don’t care comes after a failed attempt at weight loss or changing your eating. It looks like eating all the things that you have been restricting for however long you were engaged in your last attempt. This is where we start to dabble in a twisted form of body positivity that sounds like, well, if I’m going to look like this anyway I might as well just accept it and eat whatever I want because nothing I do works anyway. It isn’t driven by actual love for us and true acceptance of our bodies as they are.
It comes from apathy, and exhaustion, and hopelessness. And it’s focused on how we look which always feels empty and shallow. Giving up is not body acceptance. That’s not to say that you can’t decide to no longer focus on weight loss and instead accept yourself as you are. But it’s very different than fine, I guess this is just what I’ll look like forever as you stare at yourself in the mirror with disdain.
This is kind of where I got to at one point about 12 years ago. I had just had my third baby which signaled the time for my next weight loss fixation. And one day I decided I had just had enough of that. Every time I had gotten down to my ideal weight previous to that I had shifted the focus to what else was wrong with my body and my life. And I had never ever not once felt like I loved and accepted my body even though it was at the size it was supposed to be. ‘Supposed to be’ in quotations of course. It always felt so precarious being there and so disappointing once I got there.
I was never able to just sit back and enjoy being in that body at that number. I was immediately worried about how to stay there, or how this or that part of me was saggy, or whatever. And I had just had enough after two decades of that. So, I decided that I was going to shift my focus from my weight loss to accepting and loving my body no matter its size. This was pre social media, pre body acceptance and body positivity.
It was at a time where me thinking that felt some ways like giving up because I had been programmed and conditioned to think I had to always be wanting to, or trying to, or thinking about, or actively engaged in losing weight and getting my body back to the right size. I spent seven years engaged in this cause of learning to love and accept my body and taking a break from weight loss. This cause of just being okay being where I was, not trying to escape so I could feel okay. I worked to give myself the gift of being okay with me and my body right now, right then I guess I should say.
So, it’s possible to be in between or even to be done trying to lose weight and instead accept yourself. We just want to make sure that it’s coming from actual love for ourselves. But if that’s not quite where you are, if you’re coming from that more apathetic, screw this, it doesn’t matter place, just notice that. Part of actually being where we are is to shift into observation mode.
I think it really helps to tell myself the story of right now, almost like narrating your life. If you want to imagine Morgan Freeman narrating it for you, that works too, either way. Use your name when you do this, it helps you to connect to pay attention in a more personal way.
So, it might sound like, “Natalie, you are tired of trying to figure out how to lose weight right now. You’re feeling like you’ve failed again. You are not wanting to think about food, or restrict food, or weigh yourself. You’re disappointed. You want to eat things you’ve missed eating for the last couple of months. You don’t want to worry about what you look like on the outside. That’s what life looks like right now.” Can you feel the difference there between observing what’s happening and ignoring it on purpose between being willing to acknowledge where you are versus denying it?
The thing that’s interesting is usually when we’re in screw it, it doesn’t matter mode, we want to pretend we don’t see what we’re doing, what we’re eating, how we’re taking care of our bodies etc. Like it doesn’t count if we don’t care. But that’s pretend. You are always with you, you know. And if you are eating to discomfort, if you’re eating foods that you love but that don’t love you, if you’re disregarding how your body feels and what’s important to you in the long run, it counts. It matters. It’s happening.
Pretending to not know it is, is just that, pretend. So don’t pretend. Notice and narrate reality. If you have moved past in between and have just gotten started you are actively working toward your health and weight goals. Maybe you’re changing how you eat, how you move your body for exercise, you’re drinking more water and less diet coke, you’re eating more veggies and less cake. You’re probably feeling excited about the possibilities. You’ve set a new goal, you’ve zoomed into a new vision of what you want to accomplish.
You have imagined a new up-leveled version of you in the future that you’re aiming for. This is another slightly different way of not being where you are. When you’re living only in possibility it feels fun usually. We just don’t want to get totally lost in it. We want our head in the clouds and our feet on the ground because otherwise what can happen is that we can disconnect from how what we are doing in this moment connects to the future. We can lose sight of how what we are choosing now is going to create this vision of the future.
I have clients who are like, “This bite/meal/day doesn’t matter because I’m totally going to get there.” And then they do this every day all day. So, they’re never actually doing, they’re always just thinking about what they’re going to do. But all the right now’s, they add up to the getting there. So, this does matter because it leads or doesn’t lead to that. So, we want to have a healthy strong vision of our goal that includes specifics that we can connect to now. We want those details like buckling the airplane seatbelt without an extender, or being able to tie our shoes without discomfort.
To be able to inform our decisions now so that in this moment we can ask, “Does this decision get me closer to that outcome?” Being where we are in the beginning when we’re excited, and motivated, and focused on the goal means connecting now to then. Saying, “I am in this moment, making decisions about how to take care of me”, that will impact me in the future. What I choose now will pave the way for that future.
If you’re in the middle of your journey right now you’re probably looking back to the recent past when you were focused on the goal and it felt possible, that beginning. You’re maybe looking to the future that seems even farther away than it was in the beginning somehow. And to the far past when you tried this before and you quit, and how that sounds like a kind of good idea right now. It’s really easy in the middle to start to lose touch with where you are.
The middle is where the emotionally rigorous part of intentional change is. The middle is where we have to dig deep in order to understand why we are where we are and we have to build new skills in order to move forward successfully. The middle is where it’s hardest to be present. As my clients go through this process with me, they do a lot of excavation of old beliefs and of outdated messaging, and stories from the past. We take a close look at how our relationships with food and our bodies developed in the first place.
We start to take responsibility for decisions. We let go of responsibility that we have been taking on for things that happened to us and shaped us that we didn’t decide. We work on forgiving ourselves for all the things we did to survive to this point. We learn to observe our stories and tell new ones. We learn to connect to our hunger, and satiety, and to feel our bodies and what they experience in a new way. We practice navigating tough emotions. We envision ourselves and our future differently, all of that. It’s a lot.
And we’re doing it all while at the same time changing our eating bit by bit. So, we’re taking on a whole bunch of new discomfort while limiting our dependence on the foods that allow us to ignore and escape discomfort for so long. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and underwater and want to be anywhere but where we are in this process. If that is what you’re experiencing right now you’re not alone. And of course, you’re wanting to focus anywhere but here. This is hard, and uncomfortable, and confusing, and even frustrating much of the time.
And so, when you’re in the middle that is the phrase to begin your narration of now with. Natalie, of course you are wanting to escape this. Of course, this feels hard. Of course, you’re overwhelmed. Of course, quitting sounds appealing. You’ve never done this before. You haven’t done this in this way before. You’re used to using food as an escape from this discomfort and now you’re practicing the skill of riding waves of discomfort and emotion. It’s new, it takes time to get it down. This discomfort is part of the process of change.
Navigating this discomfort is what future Natalie will thank you for. This discomfort right now is part of shedding this old identity and creating and stepping into a new one. You want a snack, chocolate preferably because that is what has worked in the past. But we are finding new solutions, new ways of coping, that’s why we’re going to feel instead of eat right now. This is what life looks right now. As you narrate right now be honest with yourself. Focus on applying the compassion you would speak to someone else with to you.
Tell yourself the truth, the good, the bad and the ugly of now. There’s nothing wrong with where you are, it’s where you are for a reason. One thing I will say, we shift our focus to the past because we wish it were different or we long for how it was different. We focus on the future because we want it to be different or we look forward to how it will be. But we don’t have any power over either of those things. This moment will soon be the past and this moment will eventually be the future. So, this moment is the only place where we have power to create something new.
Being where we are allows us to do things differently. We decide what we do now and that decides the future and it creates a past that we can look back on and feel satisfied with, and even proud of. So, no matter where you are, in between, at the beginning, or in the middle, when you see that you are focused on the past or the future, take a minute to notice and narrate now. Use your name, bring yourself back to this present moment. Ground yourself in the truth of what is happening inside you and around you right now.
Add some current focus into the mix of past and future focus. Notice what you are feeling and what’s running through your mind, what’s happening in your body, what you’re doing, sensing, experiencing. You don’t have to stay here forever but make it a point to check in here regularly.
And if you want some support at any point in your journey, if you want a group of women with similar struggles to learn, and grow, and go through the hard parts with, if you want some new tools to help you navigate the discomfort of change come join me in my Love First Weight Loss program. It’s different from anything you’ve done before. We are coming at weight loss from love and we are actively learning how to use love to navigate this journey more effectively and permanently than ever before.
Head to itbeginswithathought.com/apply to fill out an application. If you qualify you and I will hop on a call to talk about your goals, and your obstacles, and how the program can help you address both of those things successfully. I keep my groups small and intimate and I only do a few a year and they fill up quick, so don’t wait. 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.