If we want to successfully lose weight or stop overeating once and for all, we need to create an environment where this is possible.
Unfortunately we tend to live high stress lives where we don’t have much time to tend to needs beyond work and family , which means that our health isn’t always at the top of our priority list, but if we want to make progress in this area, it has to be. There is no option other than making it a priority (if you are serious about making it happen). Working on this stuff has to be just as important as sleeping, going to work, and caring for your family. We have to fit it in. We can’t keep putting it on the back burner and expecting the same results as people who do make their life fit their goals.
An environment that is conducive to weight loss and not overeating is one that holds a sacred space for self-care. People who lose weight for the long term do it because they have committed themselves to a lifestyle that includes self care. Knowing this can be a great tool for weight loss and for finding ways to make self care a priority in your life.
What is self care?
Self care is all of the deliberate things we do to keep ourselves performing and functioning our best. Fitting in exercise that makes your body feel good, Making time for friends, setting aside the money and time for a massage, eating food that nourishes your body and practicing meditation which calms your anxiety are all examples of self care. Even basic things that most of us may take for granted – like showering each day and taking medications can be included in self care.
I want you to make self care sacred, which means holding some space for yourself at the top of your priority list. I’m not saying you have to save all the room at the top for you, but please put yourself at least on the same lateral line as your partner, your kids or your job. You are not less than them and you don’t deserve less care.
The idea of sacred self care may seem indulgent, it may seem like a luxury afforded to those who have more time than you, or it may just seem completely out of reach if you are someone who does nothing but give to everyone in your life but you. It’s not indulgent, it’s absolutely necessary if you want to have the emotional, mental and physical capacity to be the woman you want to be. And especially if that woman is someone who wants to lose weight or stop eating too much.
I understand that you want to be a great mom, wife, sister, friend, employee and/or boss and so you think that means sacrificing your own needs and wants in order to provide for others (because that’s what society tells us we’re supposed to do). Here’s the thing though, a physically exhausted mom is not going to be able to respond to her child the way she’d like to, a mentally drained employee is going to be less productive and more likely to make mistakes at work. An emotionally tapped out wife is not going to be able to connect to her partner at the end of the day or be able to maintain friendships. When we support our needs first, we actually have more to give elsewhere in our lives. If you are well nourished – body, mind and soul – then think of how much more you will be able to connect to the people in your life? How much more will you be able to understand your child’s needs? How much more will you be able to focus at work? How much more of a friend will you be able to be?
If sacred self care isn’t appealing to you on the grounds that it will help you be more available in all the relationships you are already giving everything to, guess what? The benefits don’t end there. It’ll also help you be more creative, connect to yourself or your higher power on a deeper spiritual level and you’ll be able to tap into your abilities in ways that you didn’t know were possible – all because when you are well cared for your brain and spirit have the flexibility to go places beyond just making it through your daily routine.
Why does self care being sacred matter for weight loss and ending overeating?
It’s pretty simple actually: Holding self care sacred means that you don’t automatically push your needs aside as at the first inkling that someone requests your time or attention. Someone who is has made self care a priority is not afraid to raise their hand and say “Hold up, I can’t stay late after work tonight” because she has an exercise class to get to or “Honey, will you do the dishes for me?” so that she can do food prep for the week” and she is going to get where she wants to be. The woman who holds self care sacred sees herself, her needs and goals just as important as the goals and needs of the other people and things in her life. This means that the things they need to do to make those things happen, won’t be pushed aside until all the kids are out of the house (or retirement).
She’s going to get her workout in. She’s going to move her body the way it asks to be moved. She’s going to make sure she has time to plan, buy and prep healthy nutritious foods that keep her satisfied (and less swayed by chips and sweets). She recognizes that getting a massage isn’t just an hour of quiet to herself – it’s also a super healthy thing to do for her health, which spills over into the health of her family. She’s not going to ditch what she needs and wants for another day, another time – she can care for her family, do an amazing job at work and make time for herself too and she understands that having all of this may require asking for help.
To create an environment where weight loss and overeating is a thing of the past, you want to create a self care plan. This plan or routine has to be one that speaks to you, that makes you feel soothed, supported, nourished and tended to. A self care plan should contain the things that you need to have in your life in order to feel and function your best. Only you can determine what those things are and maybe right now they are so far out of reach that you don’t have the faintest idea of what you need to be your best – ok, then brainstorm. Get out a pen and paper and dream a little – if you had all the time, help and support that you needed, what do you think you would need to be your best on a daily basis? To keep you running efficiently and not stressed?
Here are some of the things that are requirements in my self care plan (which I definitely hold sacred):
- I sleep late. I’m naturally a night owl and am my most productive and creative in the evening hours. This means I stay up later than most but I also require a lot of sleep (and obviously sleep is really important). So to combat my late hours, I sleep late whenever it’s possible. I’m up early when I have a morning client or an appointment, but if Saturday comes and I don’t have to be anywhere, you will totally find me in bed until 11am (possibly later)! Getting enough sleep and doing it on the hours when it makes most sense for my life is super important to me.
- I exercise as frequently as possible but also listen closely to how my body is feeling on any given day. I have learned that I’m someone who needs movement in her life to stay sane and the more I move, the better I feel. Exercise reduces my anxiety, helps to clear my head and keeps my body strong. I push myself when it feels right but I also back off when it’s right for me. It’s really important to know your body and what it needs. Because I want to be able to keep moving my body, I have to listen to it and that means adapting to how it feels on any given day – some days I feel like I can do anything and other days, a short walk or gentle yoga is all I will feel like doing. When I miss a few days of activity, I start to feel cranky, restless and borderline depressed. I also know that a lack of exercise can be a trigger for me to eat more (may sound crazy but it’s how my mind works!). If I want to do what I need to do in life (and also keep my weight stable), exercise is a must and I make the time for it, even if it’s only 10 minutes some days.
- I get an extended massage and facial every 6 weeks. Indulgent and expensive? Maybe, but that’s where I choose to spend my extra money and it’s worth every penny to my physical and mental well being. I have high blood pressure so getting a massage is a great way to force me to relax and unwind (something that is challenging for me) and it keeps my muscles from getting too tight from all my workouts. And the facial is also relaxing of course, but really I do it because it keeps me looking my best (and I am vain as they come)! Haha!
- I spend time doing a few things I love every week. My personality type is one that gets stressed out easily so I make sure I have some time for hobbies and activities that relax and reenergize me. Reading, working on my genealogy projects, meeting up with friends, dinner out with John, cooking an elaborate fancy meal (that may or may not fit into the category of healthy) or working on different craft projects are a few things I like to “schedule in” to the week. If I don’t make room for at least 2 or 3 hours of “fun” time for myself throughout the week then I find I start to get stressed and restless which honestly affects my work, mood and relationships. Doing the fun stuff keeps me more balanced!
- I plan ahead and prepare for the week. As I’ve mentioned, I’m an anxious, easily stressed lady (see a pattern to my self care, haha!) and there’s nothing I deal with more poorly than being unprepared or not having enough time to do things. I’m not good at rushing and I know I need a certain plan and order to keep me functioning my best. This means, if I have a really busy week coming up, I look ahead and plan out simple meals, snacks and even my workouts. If I do this, I know I’ll stay on track. If I don’t do these things, convenience foods that make me feel like crap suddenly find their way into my diet or I will miss 3 days of exercise in a row, which tends to make me slide into tricky territory with my eating habits. Taking the time to think ahead and prepare for busy weeks makes a massive difference in whether I finish the week feeling awesome or feel completely broken down. I’d rather feel awesome so it’s worth the hour or two it takes me to do this!
That’s just some of the non-negotiable stuff in my self care plan. It took me a long time to feel comfortable making room for all of this in my life. I think as women, naturally we tend to feel guilty about making time for ourselves (because we’re the caregivers in many areas of our life) but it’s really something we need to overcome if we want to get the most out of our lives. You may not be able to do the specific things I mentioned in self care (not many folks have the luxury of sleeping late or keeping my weird hours!) but that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out what you need and how that can work in your life.
My weight journey has been complicated but it got less so when I decided to make myself a priority. When I put “me” first (through sacred self care), I’m less likely to have a binge, less likely to skip a month’s worth of exercise, less likely to “need” that cheesecake and less likely to yo yo up and down on the scale. That kind of peace with food is invaluable to me and I don’t think I could have it without dedicating some room for a serious self care practice!
If you don’t have a life that has room for self care in it right now, what can you do to change that? Can you hire someone to help with childcare (even for 2 hours a week)? Can you ask your spouse or partner to pitch in more? Can you talk to your boss about flex time at work so that you can work hours that make more sense for your life? Is there anyone you could barter with to get your needs met? (Maybe you have a skill or time you could offer to someone else in trade for what you need help with?)
Think about all possibilities before you say “I can’t do any of that”. What could you do? What could you possibly ask for? Where can you get help so that your needs are a priority?
First, know that you are worth being on the front burner and second, ask for the support you need so that you can create the life you want.
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