What’s the Point?

You’re having a conversation with a close friend. There’s something exciting going on in your life and you’re dying to fill them in. As you talk, you’re brimming with energy and enthusiasm about your venture. When you finish, rather than sharing in your excitement your friend says flatly:

“What’s the point?”

Slightly stunned, you ask them to explain what they mean.

“Well”, they say, “it’s just that you’ll never do it. You’ll never achieve that. You might as well give up”.

How do you feel?

Deflated and defeated. Like the wind has been knocked out of your sails.

And so it goes with making peace with food. While this may not be an actual conversation you have with a friend (I really hope not), it’s often a dialogue that takes place within you.

You can be making real progress normalising your relationship with food when bam! a voice says “What’s the point? You’ll never succeed”. Suddenly, the rug has been pulled from under you and you feel utterly hopeless.

It’s why you can feel enthused about your process one minute and despondent the next.

That voice, which we’ll call the Hopeless Side, isn’t the same as your Inner Bully. The Inner Bully wants you to feel ashamed, depressed and generally rubbish about yourself.  The Hopeless Side has a very different motivation.

It’s trying to protect you.

The Hopeless Side knows your history of dieting and attempting to lose weight. It knows how hard you had to focus on your eating. It understands the sacrifices you made. Most importantly, it remembers your overwhelming disappointment when the diet failed and you regained the weight you lost. It recalls the emotional pain you suffered as a result – the frustration, the despair, the sense of failure.

So it wants to protect you.

It wants to protect you from feelings it believes you can’t handle.

The problem is, it doesn’t differentiate between dieting and normalising your relationship with food. It just thinks anything eating-related is a no-go area and it needs to step in to protect you. So it says “What’s the point? You’ll never do this. Your eating will always be out of control. Just give up”. In its mind, it’s saving you from the pain of trying and failing yet again.

So it keeps you stuck because – for the Hopeless Side – being stuck is better than moving forward and risking disappointment.

If you want to get unstuck, it’s important to address it and deal with it.

Here are some suggestions of what you might say to the Hopeless Side when it’s asking “what’s the point?” and telling you to give up.

“This is different”
Normalising your relationship with food – or eating intuitively or whatever you want to call it – isn’t the same as a diet.  Instead of working against yourself by attempting to stick to someone else’s idea of what or how to eat, you’re working with yourself. You’re giving yourself full permission to eat and listening to your body’s cues about hunger, preference and satisfaction. You’re also exploring ways to meet your emotional needs that don’t involve food. Therefore, the Hopeless Side can’t hold your dieting history against you – this is making peace with food and you’ve never been here before.

“I can handle disappointment”
People whose eating is emotion-driven usually learn to detach from feelings early on in life. They also often have a hard time trusting they’ll get what they want. Sometimes, this is as a result of being promised things as a child that were never delivered. The Hopeless Side doesn’t understand you’re an adult now and can learn to handle challenging feelings. And, actually, it’s essential that you do. If you’re disappointed, it’s OK to acknowledge it – there’s no better way to build emotional resilience.

“Thank you, but I’ve got this”
The Hopeless Side needs to understand you know what you’re doing. Articulate your approach to eating and why it’s what you want. List your character strengths and achievements. Remind it how far you’ve come in your process already and you don’t need any help because you’re in charge of your life. Then it’s a polite but firm “thanks, but no thanks”.

As much as the Hopeless Side thinks it’s helping by protecting you from difficult feelings, it’s not. It’s standing in the way of you and the life you want and deserve.

Because life is to be lived. Really lived.

It’s to be lived free from obsessing about food every waking moment. It’s to be lived in gratitude for the body you have and all it does for you. It’s to be lived wholeheartedly, courageously and authentically. Not hopelessly.

That’s the point.

***

“What’s the Point?” is the question for this month’s eatonomy group on July 27th.  For more information about the group, please see the Community page. To book a place, please use the Contact form.

There are additional questions for eatonomy group members – and anyone else who finds them useful – on the News page.

Gentle Reminder: Make Movement Joyful Again

Exercise.

I can practically feel the groaning and eye rolling.

In preparation for writing this blog post I did a bit of research. I googled some exercise slogans. What I found ranged from the ridiculous – “squat till you puke” (eww) – to the downright offensive, which I won’t repeat here. (Guys, seriously?).

Many of the so-called “motivational and inspirational” quotes I found conveyed the message that to have the body you’re “supposed” to have, you must punish it into submission.

No wonder the ‘e’ word has such a bad rep.

Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: Make Movement Joyful Again”

Are You Committed to Your Destination?

I remember the day I wanted to give up.

I was at home.  It was a warm, bright morning and sunlight was streaming into the study.  I was heading towards the door but, as I passed my desk, something stopped me.

A simple thought.

“This is too hard”.

I’d worked so hard to understand my issues with food and myself but, despite my efforts, I couldn’t make enough sense of them to consistently affect my eating behaviour.  Although my bingeing had stopped, I was still eating when I knew I wasn’t hungry.  It felt like an impossible struggle with no way out.

Continue reading “Are You Committed to Your Destination?”

Food for Thought: Anything is Possible

“What you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass” – Paul J. Meyer

It’s the adverbs that make this sentence so meaningful.

He could have said “what you imagine, desire, believe and act upon” but that doesn’t have the same power.  Instead, Meyer colours in the specifics – we must vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon.

It’s not enough to hope for the best, plod along, see what happens – we have to want it, believe it and make it happen.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: Anything is Possible”

Food for Thought: Make Glorious, Amazing Mistakes

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it”.  ― Neil Gaiman

Continue reading “Food for Thought: Make Glorious, Amazing Mistakes”

How Do You Measure Success?

Dressed to kill, you appear in the doorway to the party.  There’s an immediate hush among the assembled guests.  Maybe a few gasps.  You stride confidently across the room to the bar.  Before you utter a word, the bartender hands you a glass of champagne with an admiring smile.

You turn to find the other guests clamouring around you.  “You look incredible”, they gush.  “You’ve lost so much weight!”.  “How did you do it?”.

“Just sheer willpower and utter fabulousness”, you smirk triumphantly.  You take a sip of champagne and think: “At last, I’ve arrived”.

Continue reading “How Do You Measure Success?”

What’s The First Thing You Say to Yourself in the Morning?

The alarm clock goes off.

Your eyes flutter open.

Still drowsy from sleep, you turn over and glance up to see someone who looks remarkably like Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket” standing over your bed.

He stares down at you, face like stone, eyes cold and unblinking, as he barks:

“RISE AND SHINE, SCUMBAG! TODAY YOU WILL EAT HEALTHY FOOD AND NOTHING BUT HEALTHY FOOD!  YOU WILL EXERCISE FOR PRECISELY ONE HOUR – I DO NOT GIVE A HOOT ABOUT YOUR SO-CALLED TENDINITIS!  YOU WILL COMPLETE EVERYTHING ON YOUR “TO DO” LIST, INCLUDING TAKING YOUR CAT, KATY PURRY, TO THE VET BECAUSE SHE’S TWO MONTHS OVERDUE FOR HER WORM TREATMENT!  I DO NOT CARE IF YOU DID NOT SLEEP WELL OR THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE A CASE OF THE SNIFFLES, THERE WILL BE NO EXCUSES AND NO COMPLAINING!  YOU WILL COMPLY WITH THESE ORDERS BECAUSE YOUR ASS IS MINE!”

Continue reading “What’s The First Thing You Say to Yourself in the Morning?”