I have just come through four months of intense stress related to selling my house and contracting to buy a new one. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that for a little while there, I entered an alternate reality called Crazy Town.
About a month into it, I realized that my pants were just barely buttoning. My first instinct, of course, was to FREAK OUT! And for a little bit, I have to say, I played with old destructive thoughts and habits. But then, I said to myself, “For God’s sake, woman, you’re an Eating Psychology Coach. Pull yourself together!”
You see, it’s a lot harder to help yourself sometimes than it is to help others. But from my training, I knew the number one thing I needed to address was getting my cortisol and adrenaline levels down, the stress hormones that play a HUGE role in fat storage.
So, these are a few of the things I did:
Every night I went for a walk outside. Luckily, it was spring and everything was starting to bloom. This nightly ritual got me outside of my head and plugged into the rhythms of nature. As I paid attention to what new sights and good smells were developing in my neighborhood, my mind emptied of my worries and I focused on my senses. This helped my central nervous system to calm down and helped me to ground into my body. Actually being in your body is the first step to making changes within your body.
As many nights as I could fit it in, I took an Epsom salt bath with a few drops of Lavender oil added in. Water is an amazing conductor which helped me to release the stressful energy I was carrying around and pull it away from my body. Epsom salt is full of Magnesium which is a very calming mineral. And, of course, we all know the power of lavender to ease stress.
I increased the amount of high fat, low carb/sugar treats that I ate. I know right now you’re thinking HUH?, but bear with me for a moment. There is a reason they call them ‘comfort foods’. Creamy, sweet foods remind us of when we were infants at the breast/bottle. Our bodies are hard wired to calm down when we eat them. The trick is to eat comforting foods with healthy fats and little to no sugar. Our bodies need good fats to function properly (and to burn stored fat!) and even more so when we are under stress. You see, our brain’s main fuel is fat and when our brains are working at high capacity every day, all day (as mine was trying to figure out my housing issue), it needs even more. If we aren’t getting enough, our brains think we are in an emergency situation and will direct our bodies to store everything we eat as fat to prepare for the famine that’s just around the corner. It’s kinda crazy that we have to eat fat to lose stored fat, but it’s true!
So, I went to my Healthy Treats board on Pinterest and started making it a part of my routine to eat more high fat comfort foods to lower my stress response and to fuel my brain. BTW, I use stevia, monk fruit and xylitol to simulate the sweet. Sugar is definitely NOT your friend in the weight loss game.
I showed myself more love and compassion. I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You are beautiful. Right now. Not when you get this weight off, but right now.’ And I thanked my body for taking care of me. The truth is that all the physiological responses that my body was going through were for my own best interest, even if it didn’t look like what society says is right and good. I knew that my body was sending me messages that I had gotten out of whack so that I could change my behaviors and mindset to get back into balance. My body was giving me a gift, not trying to make me miserable.
Accepting myself as I was in that moment was a powerful way to reduce the amount of stress I was feeling. Also, it helped to get my mind focused on feeling good right now, instead of putting it off to someday when I looked a certain way.
Just as important, here are some of the things I did NOT do:
I did not get on a scale. Weighing myself would have given my mind something concrete to beat myself up with. Once you have a number, it is easy to slip into fear and it also gives you something negative to focus on, and what we focus on tends to stick around.
I did not continue to wear those jeans. Wearing clothes that are too tight reinforces all day long that we are uncomfortable in our own bodies. This is not a conducive mindset for positive change plus it keeps you in a low-grade stress response. Instead, I pulled out some skirts and leggings that had a little more give and proceeded to dress them up every day in a way that made me feel great about myself. Feeling good leads to more feeling good!
I did not eat less and exercise more. This would have put more stress on my body and taxed my thyroid and adrenal glands even further (two organs that play a key role in metabolism) leading to even more weight gain.
The somewhat ending to this story, my dear friends, is that I found my way out of Crazy Town. And, I can report that my pants are starting to fit again. But more importantly, I feel better mentally, emotionally and physically.
There will always be changes and challenges for us to face. The important thing to remember is that your body may change, too, as we try to cope. This is normal and a part of the ebb and flow of life. We do not have to be a victim of circumstances or fall into negative ways of thinking. We can bring in strategies to nourish and comfort ourselves so that we come through to the other side feeling whole and healthy.