So, you’re starting to think about those extra pounds you “really should get off.” It’s holiday time, New Years’ resolutions are right around the corner and there’s so many holiday parties with baked goodies and temptations on a tray coming up. You tell yourself you’ll start after the holidays are done. Which, by all accounts is a great plan. But how do you know if you’re REALLY ready for changes to your lifestyle? How do you make sure you set yourself up for success instead of feeling like a failure?
1) First and foremost, realize that you are human. Know that while being committed to a healthy lifestyle takes patience, will-power and commitment, it’s not about being 100% perfect 100% of the time. Living a healthy lifestyle means that you are committed to eating what your body needs to FEEL good and function optimally, but you are still going to splurge at times and that’s ok. Living a healthy lifestyle means that you make the best choices you can and are about 80/20 or 90/10 depending on your specific BODY’S dietary needs, not your mouth’s desires and cravings.
2) Come to accept that you have a food addiction. Yes, you do. Everybody has an addiction of some kind. For some it’s drugs, for some it’s alcohol. For others it’s shopping or constantly being in a relationship. For you, your coping mechanism and comfort is food. Emotional eaters, boredom eaters, doesn’t matter. Realize that this is yours, otherwise you wouldn’t have a weight or weight related health issue. How do I know? Easy, I’ve been there. And it’s something I still have to stay mindful about because I’m both a boredom eater AND an emotional eater. You’ll know you have a food addiction because you’ll find yourself getting triggered or defensive about your current food choices. You’ll find yourself saying things like “‘I don’t believe in doing x,y,z” or “I know someone who did that and they got really sick” when there were likely many other factors involved in whatever their health issue was. If you’re currently carrying extra weight around and you find yourself saying things like that, then I would say how’s that working out for you? Obviously it isn’t.
Now, granted most of us are not educated in what is REALLY a healthy diet, so the cards are a bit stacked against us in the beginning when we are growing up, but over time we have become addicted to this “food”. The vast majority of what is sold to you as “food” is really not food. It is processed, loaded with sugar, fake sweeteners, chemicals, pesticides and synthetic by products that are found in yoga mats and building materials. If you really knew what was in that drive-thru order or restaurant or packaged product you buy at the store I promise you’d never eat it again. The sad truth is that food manufacturers and retailers are in business to make MONEY, not to keep you healthy. And that means putting sugars, sweeteners, and synthetic materials that are highly addictive into EVERYTHING you buy in order to keep you buying more.
I remember the first time I really realized that the “foods” I thought I loved, I really didn’t love, I was addicted to. And trust me there is a huge difference. You won’t realize that you are addicted until you stop and detox from those foods, and then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Study after study shows that rats given a choice between sugar and food, will choose the sugar over the food every time and literally starve to death from malnutrition.
Sugar activates the same center in the brain that heroine and cocaine do. And detoxing from these “foods” can be very intense. Headaches, extreme fatigue, irritability, anxiousness, shakiness, mood swings, emotional swings, you name it. I felt like I was climbing the walls the first 3 days of my detox from carbs and sugar and kept going to the pantry to find something to eat. It was seriously one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. But once it passed, my life completely shifted. No more chronic fatigue, no more headaches, no more gut problems, no more adrenal fatigue. Instead I had a clear mind, sharp mind, increased focus, increased happiness, endless energy, motivation, JOY. I didn’t realize how crappy I was feeling until I felt amazing. Trust me when I say it’s not normal to feel crappy and tired all the ti me.
3) Know the difference between wanting to be healthy and being READY to be healthy. It’s a deep internal KNOWING. How do you KNOW you love your partner or your kids? You just KNOW with every fiber of your being. That’s the same way you will know you are ready to be healthy. You’ll have zero doubt that you are going to do this. There won’t be a single event, birthday party, work gathering, wedding or graduation that you won’t be focused on sticking to your healthy choices at. You will know that no matter where you are at, you will do whatever it takes to stick to your commitment. If you are at a baseball game, you will have eaten ahead of time and if you get hungry when you are there, you will pay $10 for two hot dogs only to throw away the bun. You’ll eat it with your hands, you’ll even eat it plain, you won’t care. You will eat before going to any event, and even have food that you can eat with you. You will say no thank you when someone asks if you want dessert. You will bring your own healthy and delicious recipes to potlucks. You will have no problem asking the waiter to hold the croutons, and lettuce wrap your burger. As they say, when you really want something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
4) Your motivation will be to be HEALTHY, not to lose weight. Every single time I put on a few too many pounds and my clothes were getting too tight, I looked in the mirror and “wanted” to lose a few just to look better. And I failed every time. Gradually I kept buying larger and larger sizes until I was 60 pounds overweight. When I finally made my commitment to a healthy lifestyle at the age of 22 it was because my motivation was to FEEL better and I knew if I didn’t make changes I was going to be diabetic. And I absolutely did NOT want to stick myself with needles and live a life on medications. THAT was the difference.
When the motivation is something that is absolute, something that scares you like becoming diabetic, or having a heart attack, or being susceptible to cancer, or not wanting to be on meds your whole life, or wanting to make sure you are around and able to play with your grandchildren, or you are pushed to the point that you feel SO crappy and painful all the time that you’ll do anything to feel better, that’s when you’ll make the changes. You’ll know it like you know that you would lay down your life for your child. THAT is when you’re ready.
5) Remember that you may try and fail several times before you realize you are ready. And that’s ok. Know that it doesn’t make you a failure, you’re just not ready yet. Some people need to take baby steps before they really are ready to jump in. That’s ok. You can’t force it, it will happen when you are really ready. Inevitably when we embark on what we think is just a physical health journey, it really becomes an internal emotional journey. Why? Because ultimately it is always our internal state that drives our outer behaviors. Always. Some of what you will come up against is just habit, but the longer you are on your journey to be healthy, the more emotional stuff will come up. Just you wait and see.
Of course when you are eating and living a healthy and balanced ketogenic lifestyle (not to be confused with certain versions of what some people consider ketogenic), that means that you are burning fat and are then dumping stored hormones. So hormones are certainly one factor in emotional swings. But if you look deeper, you will see things that you have been avoiding dealing with or haven’t wanted or been ready to face. You’ll start to notice that you don’t have “cravings” until you get triggered emotionally. You’ll start to realize that you are actually really unhappy with your job, or maybe you are feeling lonely in your relationship etc. And if you’re not ready to face those things, then you’ll end up going back to your old behaviors. If that happens, it doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you human. When you are ready, you will do it. And you CAN do it.
Make the changes that show that you love yourself. Make the changes that ensure you will be around for your children for a long time. Make the changes BEFORE they become a matter of life and death, because eventually they will. Make the changes because you love your children and they follow your example. Have faith in yourself, be gentle with yourself. But also know that you are a powerful, unstoppable force when you want to be. And you can achieve anything you truly set out to achieve.
Be well everyone and I wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season!