I've spent my whole life wondering, up until recently why is it that I want to lose weight so badly, and I know what to do, but I still can't stay away from the frickin' cookies?
This question has haunted and taunted me for most of life. I've watched friends, celebrities, and perfect strangers breeze through a four-week stint of the Atkins Diet, or give up sugar without breaking a sweat and emerge 15 pounds lighter. But no matter how committed I was to the diet, or how much I desired to fit into my old jeans, I could barely make it through three days without polishing off an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
I believed there was something wrong and different about me, like The Universe had forgotten to give me the willpower gene when It created me. This pissed me off, and made me feel really sad and lonely.
It wasn't until I hit rock bottom (aka, polishing off an entire bag of Dove Chocolate Promises while hiding in the supply closet of my ad agency on the third day of my seven day juice cleanse) that I finally realized that if this diet thing was gonna work, it would've worked by now.
I considered the fact that somehow there was a drive in me to overeat that was stronger than wanting to lose weight. So what was driving me to overeat?
I started taking stock of moments I wanted to eat ice cream, polish off a bag of potato chips or eat five cookies as fast as I could before my boyfriend got home. In all of those moments I was feeling incredibly high levels of anxiety, and I was using food to make me feel grounded, relaxed and comforted. A-Ha! That initial drive to calm myself down was so much more powerful than my desire to be thin because -- in those moments -- it was about survival.
So instead of focusing all my energy on counting calories or mastering the art of a gluten free diet, I put all of my focus on treating my anxiety with things a lot more effective than food.
The first thing I did was think of things to help me calm down in the moment. I had Post-its with:
- Go for a walk
- Call a friend
- Get a 10-minute back massage
- Take 10 deep breaths
- Read a magazine
- Watch a funny YouTube video
I posted these reminders on my fridge, on my computer and in my journal to remind me to go do an activity instead of diving into the candy bowl.
The second step was looking at my life overall to see where I could shift things to be happier. This was a major wake-up call. Because I always focused so much of my energy on losing weight, and honestly believed (like most of us do) that our lives will just be easier once we lose twenty pounds, I wasn't really paying attention to my life.
When I took a hard look, I realized that my relationship was in the gutter, I didn't like my job, I did nothing for fun, I was in constant comparison with my friends and often feeling jealous or left out, and my regular routine was to sleep through my alarm, rush to work, suffer through the day, eat Chinese food at home, watch TV, avoid being seen naked by my boyfriend and go to sleep. Repeat. No wonder I wanted to pound chocolate like there's no tomorrow! It was the only way I was getting a jolt of happiness.
So I worked with a pleasure expert, discovered spirituality, went to dance classes, took voice lessons, worked on my relationship and eventually quit my job. I used food to show me where the voids are, and started to fill them in with experiences, beliefs and activities that actually gave me what I needed.
I finally had a life that was full of fun, romance and meaning without needing to be a size 2. And soon after that, the extra 30 pounds I was carrying melted off because I was no longer medicating myself with large amounts of unhealthy food.
Now I have the great honor of teaching women how to do the same through the Live More Weigh Less Lifestyle Method, and I can't tell you how incredible it is to watch women realize that what was once our biggest source of misery is actually our greatest source of happiness. All we have to do is just pay attention to what our overeating is trying to tell us, and start to gift ourselves what we really need.
In the comments below I would love to know what your struggle has been with food and what you're going to do to feed that driving force.