The wheels came completely off this week with regards to my healthy eating lifestyle. I basically fell right back into those old conditioned habits of using sugar and food to offset negative emotions or distract from whatever thoughts seem to be plaguing me. It doesn't help that I have honed the art of baking something delectably delicious on whatever I may have in my pantry at the time. Usually the outcome is a cake or treat that will last for a week and provide just enough daily calories to utterly halt all momentum to my fat burning efforts.
The gift of baking definitely was developed at a young age. We often times had bare bones minimum in the cabinet but kept sugar and flour as a staple. My mom didn't use those ingredients much. My brother, sister and I would be home while my mom was at work and I would bake them pancakes and experiment with interesting add-ins. I baked my brother a coconut cake which basically was completely wet in the middle once I served it. We had fun. I am the oldest so I felt like I was taking care of them when I cooked for them. I also felt like I was useful and helping my mom who was working hard as a single mom to make sure we were taken care of. I was doing my part. I have longed use food as a way of dispelling boredom and entertaining myself. If we felt lonely or bored I would sometimes walk to the "corner store" and stack up on laffy taffy candy and jolly ranchers and bring it back to my sister and brother and we would feast on chewy taffy and the corny jokes that lined the wrappers. Ah the good ole' days. Now a days this cannot be my go-to way of eliciting the "good feels." My life is way more complicated now. My mind could go in so many directions if I let it and having all the "to do's" with seemingly no progress has left me feeling lonely and isolated at times. Using cooking, baking and eating as my main coping mechanism has led to a stack-up of unused calories I'm toting around and its time to use them up. So I identified habits that really and truly are sabotaging me and decided I need to curb the eating and move much more in order to feel more at home in my own body.
Let me just start by saying I am not a natural goal-setting type of person. I'm more of a go with the flow type personality but since I'm married to a goal setter, I have seen the value of setting intentions and giving direction to my energy. With that said, I don't feel particular confident when I set goals or intentions. Whenever I set a goal to change a particular behavior, I almost never have that "honeymoon phase" where you are so excited about starting this next chapter that any hint of failure is so far removed from the situation you feel invincible. Yea that's not me. I am a pretty optimistic person usually but in this particular area for some reason I have always expected to "fall off the wagon" and have "set backs" from the very beginning. Planning for the hiccups seemed natural for me. The problem is I didn't really plan for them. I expected them but really had no real way of dealing with them that would not result in the complete dissolution of my goals and feeling like I probably shouldn't even keep on this path. If it happens, it happens. This aloofness was really a protective mechanism and kept me in a cycle where I constantly felt like I'm on and off the wagon with regards to this eating healthy thing. This changed once I came across Deepak Chopra's book "what are you hungry for." I have still only read half the book although I've had it for almost a year but... It was the perfect next step in my mindful journey because it help me bring self awareness and compassion to set-backs.
So even though I had a week of what I would called unconscious eating, old habits of snacking and binging, I could move on from it and even if it took a week for me to become conscious and aware, the process of coming "home to myself" and waking up from that sugar coma is always available to me. With no judging and open arms. So here are a few steps that help me come back to myself and deal with setbacks. And yes, I basically talk to myself in order to remind me I am not my thoughts, emotions and choices. There is a beautiful and perfect energy that is untouched by these mindsets and if I can nourish that energy, I can accomplish a lot of what I want to do in this world.
Create some space with the breath
When I notice that I have been eating poorly or binging on Netflix, I take that moment of awareness and decide to expand on it. In that moment I turn my attention on breathing. The inhale and how that feels in my body. The exhale and how that feels in my body. Turning my attention to the breath creates just enough space to put a break in that conditioned hand to mouth movement and decide if I want to continue on this path or try something else that may actually nourish me.
2. Take stock with gratitude
The goal here is sitting with the feelings of "disappointment" and failure" and creating compassionate space around it. yes you might have "fallen off the wagon" but you are not a failure. Yes you may have "treated yourself" generously with all sorts of delectable confections more than you may have intended however you can move forward without judgement and be in this moment. In this moment focusing on what is good and well with you is the way. In this moment you are whole, nothing lacking nor missing and past actions do not contradict the truth of your wholeness.
3. Do something Nourishing
This is probably the hardest for me to do. It has taken me a considerable amount of time to figure out what exactly is nourishing for me. I feel like I have been in the throws of mommy hood for so long, What I used to do for fun seems like a million lifetimes away. What are your talents, passions and hobbies? Feed that creative vibe in order to feel your best self. Maybe even do it outside in order to flood yourself with light and life physically and spiritually. Another option is to nourish your physical body. A trick that I sometimes do is to drink water mindfully allowing each sip to intentionally touch your lips, then your mouth, down your throat and feel it in the belly. Thirst satiated is such a satisfying feeling when done with intention.