So many situations come up in life that can test your resolve to eat well and in moderation: Attending a party with an abundant buffet, seeing your Aunt Sally’s Decadent Double Fudge brownies at the family barbeque, feeling so stressed at work that you think only a cookie from the lunch room will calm you down.
While you can’t avoid some triggers and food-challenging situations, you can empower yourself to shift your mindset. Action follows thought. When you make a conscious effort to change your thinking, you strengthen your resolve to proactively—and mindfully—take charge of your actions and choices.
These four powerful questions help you do that. Next time you’re triggered and about to take a bite, ask yourself:
1. “Do I want instant gratification or long-term self-confidence?”
It’s easy to feel out-of-control when gripped by a strong impulse to overeat. That compelling urge to grab another plateful of food or eat a third or fourth cookie when you already feel stuffed, hijacks your judgment.
Do your best to pause and take a break from the situation. Change locations and go to your car or the bathroom if necessary. Then, ask yourself this question – and then practice these affirmations:
“I am comfortable in my clothes and in my body.”
“How I feel in my body tomorrow is more important than eating this food tonight.”
“I am staying on track, eating responsibly and feeling confident about my progress.”
This direct and purposeful self-talk helps you move from feeling defeated to pro-actively shifting your thinking. Then, you can take charge and make choices that support your long-term confidence and weight-release goals.
2. “How do I want to feel at the end of the day?”
By asking this question, you anticipate the results of your choices. When food-related gatherings challenge your ability to eat in moderation, mentally plan ahead. Ask yourself the above question before driving to that summer barbeque. Then do this simple visualization exercise:
Close your eyes and imagine the outcome—especially the feeling—you want to experience when you come back home from the event. For example, imagine your body feeling satisfied and light. See yourself going to sleep with a smile on your face, feeling proud for eating healthfully and taking good care of yourself. Stay with the image for several minutes.
If you feel challenged while at the event, ask yourself, “How do I want to feel at the end of the day?” Bring into your mind the image you visualized earlier. This mentally and energetically helps guide you to make healthy choices that mirror the positive outcome you imagined.
3. Ask your body: “What do you want me to do?”
When in doubt, ask the boss.
You don’t have to do this alone. Your body holds a wealth of wisdom and wants to support you. Whether you call it your intuition, Wise Self, or Higher Power… that wisdom comes from the same source. Reach out to it for help and support.
For example, if you feel tempted to raid the dessert table at your cousin’s wedding, take a moment to ground yourself. Here are some ways to do that:
• Breathe for 10 counts.
• Place your feet firmly on the ground to draw strength from Mother Earth.
• Wrap your arms around you and give yourself a hug.
Then, with your eyes open or closed, tune into your body (or Higher Power) and ask:
“What do you want me to do?”
Listen. Breathe. Most likely you’ll hear the whispers of guidance helping you through the situation.
4. “What do I want?”
It’s easy to forget what you truly want when weighed down by overwhelming feelings and urges that pull you in the opposite direction. When you feel challenged, remind yourself why you began this journey in the first place:
I want to be thinner… not stay at this weight.
I want to be in charge of my life… not feel helpless and defeated.
I want to create the body and life I dream of… not eat this when I know I’m not hungry.
Take a moment right now and reflect on what you want for you and your body. Close your eyes and imagine yourself close to or at your goal weight, whichever feels easier to envision. Perhaps you see yourself wearing brightly colored clothes instead of always black and brown, easily walking up flights of stairs while breathing evenly, or confidently wearing a bathing suit at the beach.
When we imagine ourselves reaching a goal or desire, we usually feel a spark of inspiration. Bathe yourself in that feeling. Hold that image in your mind with excited anticipation rather than doubt and insecurity. Remember, you’re never given a desire in your heart without the means to achieve it.
Trust that you’re getting there!
Keep asking, “What do I want?” and hold onto an image of being thinner. That feeling of sweet expectation is like a magnet drawing you towards your goal and helping you in challenging situations.
Write the four questions on a card. I’ve attached them below for your convenience. Read them daily to help you stay inspired and committed.
Some questions may work better in some situations than others. Use them all and see what resonates best for you. Keep them handy, tucked in your purse or pocket, to read when you anticipate a challenging situation. When gripped with that urge to overeat, do the best you can to take a break and read the questions. Have an honest conversation with yourself.
Remember: Every single choice you make today… brings you closer to the person you want to be tomorrow.
Will you ask yourself the four questions the next time you feel the urge to binge?
(Photo Credit: Cookies)