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A possibly life-changing piece of advice

March 24, 2011

My therapist is a true genius. I already knew this, but occasionally, she says something that makes a light bulb in my head go off, and I am reminded of her wisdom. I was in her office, freaking out about my inability to control my eating and wondering why I couldn’t find motivation within myself despite the fact that one of the most important days of my life is coming up, and I’ll be the center of attention in a form-fitting frock. And that’s after a bunch of days on the beach. In a bathing suit. With everyone.

“Take my through your thoughts as you’re eating or about to eat,” she instructed.

“I start craving something,” I explained. “I walk to the cabinet or order it from the menu, even though I know I shouldn’t be eating it. I try to envision myself in my dress. But I still want to eat and feel like I’ll be missing out if I don’t eat it. So I say to myself that I’ll just eat a few. Then I eat the whole thing. Then I feel like crap.”

My therapist pointed out that I was “should-ing” all over myself (gotta love Carrie Bradshaw) and criticizing, which gets no one nowhere. And the bridal dress visualizations? Too far off to be a true motivator.

“You have to find something right then and there, that instant, that will stop you. And you have to understand why you’re eating.”

“Okay, what is it?” I asked. “How do I do that?”

“You need to figure that out.”

As I began questioning the bi-monthly payments I give her and decided I’d have to get comfortable with the idea of eventually wearing muumuus and spending my days in a chair, watching reruns from my “glory days,” she proffered: “You can first try cheering yourself on instead of criticizing yourself. Imagine you had a friend struggling with this problem. What would you say to her? Say it to yourself every time you’re struggling.”

A seemingly obvious piece of advice. But I heard a click in my brain.

“And the less you numb yourself with food, the more you’ll start feeling,” she continued. “It will soon become apparent why you’re eating.”

Today is day #2 of my self-cheerleading, and damned if it isn’t working. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. All the self-criticism and bad feelings I was stacking on myself every time I wanted to or did eat were weighing me down more than I realized. And by telling myself I shouldn’t eat something, it was actually making it more attractive, more desirable to myself.

By taking the focus off the food and instead reminding myself I’m a strong woman who can change my life, who can get healthy, who can feel better, I can’t help but choose to walk away from the unhealthy foods or just take a bite.

I’m still amazed. I’ll let you know how it continues to go!

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