Truce with Food opens for registration today! If after reading this program page you still have questions about whether Truce is the right fit for you, grab a 20-minute session for us to chat (promise, no hard selling).
Over the last two posts, I’ve addressed the mental and emotional landscape responsible for drawing the battle lines between “good” and “bad” foods (that ultimately leads you to rebel) and how you won’t be navigating your way through these “mind” fields with shopping cart lunges.
Today I will focus on the top four mistakes people make that keep them stuck in a “battle” with food and themselves. But before I get to that, let’s linger for a moment on this word: Battle.
Before coming to me, my clients often have internalized these battle and war stories. Through our process-oriented work together, they realize these are not just words. What kind of behavior do you expect if food is treated as an enemy that needs “tracking” and “monitoring”?
What else happens in this war?
In order to inflict damage we dehumanize “the enemy.” If we become “our own worst enemy” in our “battle of the bulge” then we feel it’s okay to “beat ourselves up.”
Okay, I know that’s a lot of quotation marks, but the point here is that how you frame something—the often unconscious ways or stories— is important not only because it determines the path you take, but the type of information you will seek out.
And, more often than not, we get stuck in these “trenches.” Why? Because if we are honest with ourselves, we are usually more concerned with being right (about the stories we’ve been telling ourselves) than happy.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to call a Truce with Food, as past participants have discovered.
Without further ado, here are the top four mistakes people continue to make in trying to lose weight.
1. Believing Self-Acceptance = Resignation.
I’m here to tell you not to accept yourself (well, not in how we traditionally talk about this). Let me explain before the body image police chase me down. This topic arose in my last Truce with Food group. One participant explained that numerous therapists had told her she had to accept her body. But she just couldn’t. And in Truce with Food, I definitely believe in self-acceptance because paradoxically what you embrace often dissolves.
But, I define self-acceptance differently than most experts and traditional advice.
When most people hear “you have to just accept yourself,” what they feel is resignation. Ugh. I have to just be happy with this weight. I’ve been defeated. I might as well eat whatever I want. There’s no point in overriding these honest feelings with mantras. Saying, “I accept myself” while feeling completely different only leads to further lack of self-trust in the GPS system of your emotions.
What to do instead?
Own the body dissatisfaction and frustration. To me, this is the opposite of resignation. This is when the real work begins. Work that starts with a careful, non-judgmental exploration of the conditional statements like “once I lose weight, then X” or “I’ll feel confident when my clothes fit better.”
I guide my clients in these explorations, in figuring out if these statements are true. More often than not, clients cling to the story they’ve told themselves for years because they’d rather be “right” than happy.
I challenge you to replace the idea of self-acceptance not with resignation, but with bravery.
2. Assume Your Weight Is Something that Needs Fixing.
Holding onto this belief implies you’re somehow “broken,” deficient, or less than. My clients and group participants often arrive with years of shame in their body image confirmed (they believe) by their failed dieting attempts. Shame is about being wrong. And if you are inherently wrong, how can you make things right?
Your weight is not a deficiency. Your body is not your enemy. It’s a symptom that a lighter life is waiting. You don’t need something outside yourself (i.e. a new diet or guru). What you need is someone to coach and gently guide you in becoming the heroine of your adventure. Anytime you sense you’re striving to find THE ANSWER, the magic bullet, remember there isn’t one.
3. Thinking Your Weight is a Logic Problem.
You’re smart, you aren’t missing anything. If weight were a logic problem, you’d have solved it a long time ago. Life is not logical or linear. It’s full circle. It’s holistic. It isn’t your duty to track calories or read yet another nutrition article (although reading these posts is always a good idea ;-).
It’s okay to not know. Not knowing is often the first step in making you open to going deeper.
I challenge you to entertain that maybe, just maybe your weight loss goal is immune to the willpower, problem solving, and discipline that makes you successful in all other areas of your life. What would that mean for you and how you see yourself?
4. No “show hands” or why drama isn’t the answer.
The April issue of The Atlantic had an article “Hoop Dreams” on how NBA teams are doing something called “tanking.” Why? The way drafting works, the worst scoring teams get first dibs for their top draft picks. These teams are operating under the false assumption that one supremely talented player can save them.
So, what’s the problem?
History shows this never works. Instead, a mediocre team that builds upon their strengths and targets their weaknesses has a much better shot at the championship. The article says this also happens in business when a tanking business brings in a “savior” CEO. Inevitably, this practice backfires. The sought after CEO loses his reputation as a high-performer.
Instead, these teams and businesses should realize that making the tougher, “smaller” decisions leads to success.
It took me years to realize that whenever I would say “diet starts tomorrow” and overeat at night, I was tanking myself because I assumed that it took “gearing up” and lots of drama to lose weight. That one thing—a diet, a supplement, a new juicer— was going to come along and save me.
But in actuality, my long-term results were always the result of more subtle, less dramatic decisions along the way. I paid attention to my blood sugar, healing my digestive system, and exploring where my true passions were.
Whether you are guilty of one or all of the above mistakes, the more you course correct now, the more you will understand the magnitude of this difference. It’s a difference that needs to be embodied to be fully understood.When you do, true and lasting results occur.
Take it from Pat, a recent Truce with Food participant:
Truce with Food is such an insightful program and (so far) I’ve lost 44 pounds that I know won’t come back. Ali leads you through the steps in such an encouraging way that it doesn’t feel hard or scary. It just fits! She gives you the tools and understanding to pick the path that works best for you. There’s no one way to do things or rules. It’s the best time and dollars I have ever invested! —Pat P.
Truce with Food, my comprehensive nutrition and behavior program starts again May 1. Registration begins today (April 21) and runs through April 28 (Monday).
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.
Check out the trailer or share it with someone you think may benefit from this approach.
Philly-area folks can get a taste of Truce with Food by taking my “Make Healthy Habits Stick” workshop on Saturday, April 26. Only 2 spots remain!
In the meantime, I’d love to leave you with a quotation that may help new stories emerge:
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.”
― Wendell Berry