In an episode of Live Big with Ali Vincent, Ali (the first Biggest Loser female winner) not only guided her guest through making “healthy” selections at the grocery store, but demonstrated how this guest could enlist her shopping cart to perform lunges down those shiny grocery store aisles.
Killing two birds with one stone?
Image Credit: “clearing out” by schizoform
Okay, these lunges can make for (arguably) good TV, but can you really imagine performing such acts in the middle of your grocery store?! Besides being uninspiring, these lunges are brought to you by fear. Anyone who has lost and then regained weight knows how hard it is to “enjoy” a new body, it’s as if you are haunted by visions of an old body waiting for you in the frozen foods aisle (no worries, you can plow it down with your power lunging cart).
But seriously, these fears aren’t completely unfounded with dieting failure rates at 95%.
In last week’s post, I discussed how labeling foods as “good” or “bad” ultimately leads to rebellion and a roller coaster of stress and guilt. While your hair may have shifted during the ride, you end up right back where you started, gripping the safety bar (often a little worse for wear).
Unfortunately, in the collective U.S. psyche the best you can hope for is to lose the weight and then settle into a life filled with fear of food and your body. In the same way our culture often defines “healthy” as simply being free of disease instead of fully alive, I want to suggest an alternative. Instead of swinging back and forth between these limiting binaries, start to imagine your relationship to food on a continuum. On one end you have deprivation, guilt, dread, fear, and shame, but why not hang out on the positive end filled with less rigidity, enjoying foods, no worry about “slipping up,” and motivation to make healthy choices?
Chances are you already have someone in your life that embodies this positive end of the spectrum. Hint: Look to the friend that can seemingly “eat anything and not gain weight.” While we may secretly avoid such carefree friends, more often than not they aren’t blessed with a roaring engine of a metabolism. So, what’s going on? Chances are this friend probably eats moderately because food isn’t dominating her mind and behavior. Chances are she isn’t caught in the extremes of “good” and then the (inevitable) “bad” eating (i.e. bingeing).
What does this look like on a daily basis? For starters, you think about food a lot less. Every encounter with your plate doesn’t feel like a moral challenge. You easily forgive yourself when you have a ”slip-up.” Your moods are no longer a projection of your latest “weigh-in” or tracking “points” in your weight loss “progress.”
Here are a couple of snapshots of what this looked like for recent Truce with Food participants:
- Now that she knows which foods work best for her body, this participant feels confident making the healthy choice. Prior to Truce, she was running away from the judgement of the scale, not towards a life she wanted. She lost five pounds and her previously tight “goal” shorts now fit.
- Another client stressed about an upcoming vacation. We redefined what moderation would look like on this vacation, a definition that was embracing enough to include “homemade wine and pasta and sometimes luscious greens.” Without the constant stress of monitoring and guilt, this client returned from her trip not only with fantastic memories, but without gaining a single pound.
- By getting to what her body insecurity was really about, this participant grew confident not only in her body, but her life. With this new found self worth, she negotiated a higher fee for her business services—and got it!
- Another client realizing that making “it all look easy” and “taken care of” by always being there for everyone else, finally let down her guard, asked for help and felt deeply connected to her friends and family. Feeling deeply accepted in this new authenticity, her weight loss suddenly accelerated.
What all of these participants have in common is that as they moved toward the positive end of the relationship to food continuum (sans shopping cart lunges) weight loss became a natural side effect.
Life changing = When you experience weight maintenance or loss without the constant vigilance.
Take it from Tina Boogren, a participant in Truce with Food this fall:
Before Truce with Food, I found myself bingeing while I was on the road for work. I knew what healthy habits I needed to follow—I’d been trying for YEARS. Truce with Food was eye opening and enabled me to figure out what was sabotaging me. Since Truce, I have not binged at all—not once! I now recognize and honor the challenges of traveling for work and rather than binge, I find other ways to take care of myself. I am much more kind, gentle, and at peace with myself. I am on a quest to bring my own radiance to life and this program brought this need and desire to light. Ali and the whole group have helped me find my radiance that had been buried for years and years. I am forever grateful.
So what food path do you want to be on? More importantly, what life do you want to live?
In one of Ali Vincent’s latest episodes, she’s struggling with a significant weight gain post-Biggest Loser. The camera zooms in on her tears as her face registers the scale going up, then down, then back up…This breaks my heart not only because I’ve been there, but because it doesn’t have to be this way.
What sabotages most of us is that we don’t know we have another choice. We don’t know realize we have become unwilling victims in a story of how “it has to be.”
While I haven’t followed every nuance of Ali Vincent’s story to offer a complete analysis of what is going on, I’m fairly certain that (on a physical level) she’s dealing with metabolic rebound from losing so much weight so quickly. But, more importantly, what needs to be addressed is what’s happening on the inside, once the show’s spotlights have flicked off.
If it was just about food, exercise, and discipline, then she would be sailing free.
The same is true for you. You might not be on TV, but it’s the darkness—that mysterious mix of fear, guilt, and sabotage—that needs examining. It’s what happens in the dark that determines the behavior in the spotlight.
But when you compassionately and methodically bring those feelings out of the dark, then you can have your cake and eat it too, without registering it on your guilt meter or scale. As it turns out, a piece of cake can be a nourishing ritual in something worth celebrating: a more light, confident, peaceful, and beautiful life.
Truce with Food, my comprehensive nutrition and behavior program starts again May 1. Registration is from April 21-28. Over the course of this four month group program, participants not only learn, but unlearn and untangle what is keeping them stuck. Imagine being able to pivot when your nutritional and emotional needs change because you no longer have rules to rebel against.
I’ll be back shortly to show you common mistakes you maybe (unknowingly) making that are preventing you from moving towards the positive end of your relationship with food.
Until then, life is too short to spend it lunging through your grocery store aisles.
Outside the store, there’s a whole world, waiting.