This past week I had the privilege of watching hundreds of people begin their journey into The Road Map to Weight Loss Program. During that first week of the program I often receive a lot of feedback from members that they are encountering so many different emotions and memories that had previously been tucked away. Acknowledging this stuff is of course the aim of the program, and vital to re-writing your story, yet it can also be really overwhelming, especially if you aren’t in the habit of doing it.
Often we avoid acknowledging our feelings because we think that acknowledging them means we better be ready to take action. That pressure we put on ourselves to change almost overnight can easily create a panic that makes us contemplate throwing in the towel in the journey early on. Not surprisingly this is the same pattern many of us feel when we are out of shape and in the first week of a health overhaul.
Feelings, however, are not problems that require solutions. We don’t have to necessarily do something about them. We just need to get comfortable with noticing them from time to time. In fact, the goal is never to fix our feelings, it’s just to learn how to be comfortable sitting in them for moments throughout the day.
This can be a difficult process to embrace, but in reality it’s a lack of feeling and acknowledging that often keeps the cycle of comfort eating alive–as we stay trapped in a cycle of stuffing our emotions and eating away those feelings as food plays the role of comforter and an espace.
“You can’t stop emotional eating if you don’t know what emotions you are eating for.” – Dr. Mondo
In order to get good at acknowledging feelings we have to slow down. Doing so requires setting aside time for us to safely acknowledge, and maybe even explore, our feelings. I am a firm believer that eventually this practice must be a daily one in order for us to truly be in tuned with ourselves and to find any semblance of balance in our chaotic lives.
As I mentioned, a big part of the journey to losing and keeping the weight off for good is to realize that food is likely playing a role of comforter for you when you encounter uncomfortable emotions (like loneliness, sadness, anxiety, fear, etc.). People often want to just be given a quick tool they can use to stop the pattern of comfort eating, yet this pattern cannot be changed overnight, and it takes a full lifestyle change to truly interrupt it. That lifestyle change must include making yourself a priority, and that means setting time aside to explore your inner world of feelings and thoughts. The more you do this the more you will understand yourself and the reasons you often use food to automatically pop-up block uncomfortable emotions.
Establishing a sanctuary where you can spend time in this self-exploration and self-care is the first step in this process. The second is developing regular time in your sanctuary.
Seems like a tall order, I surely know because I struggle with it myself, but, if you make this a priority you will almost instantly see the difference in stress reduction and in your ability to slow down your emotional process that leads you to find comfort in food.