I get it. Over the festive period – which starts as early as the beginning of December for most – we can enter into January feeling full, bloated and “ugh” – is that a feeling?!
Firstly, it’s worth taking a look as to WHY most of us feel full, bloated and “ugh”…
If you’re reading this right now, it’s most likely you’re either stuck in the diet binge cycle or have previously been for however long. When we “allow” ourselves to eat “whatever we want” during the festive period, we go into “must eat it all now because I’m not allowed to eat it after Christmas” mode. Therefore we ignore our bodies hunger and fullness signals and almost force feed ourselves Quality Streets and Christmas cake until 1st January.
I don’t know about you but that doesn’t FEEL great. That was my experience for about 20 years and instead of being present with loved ones, I’d spend most of the precious time feeling shit about myself and my body, all because of what I was cramming into my mouth without even giving myself a chance to actually enjoy it.
The last 3 years have been very different for me. I’ve not only given and received presents at Christmas, but I’ve also been present with loved ones and greatly enjoyed the time spent together. I’ve eaten the delicious festive foods when I’ve really wanted them and took the time to enjoy them. I’ve welcomed January with open arms without feeling “ugh” in my body nor feeling the need to diet.
In this episode, I’m going to share with you how to focus on health and wellbeing without dieting. Let’s dive in!
#1 Practice learning the language of your body
If you’ve been disconnected from your body for a long time, it might feel very alien to you to try to connect back with her. See it as learning a new language. If you have never spoken or understood Fench and you started to learn it, you’d find it challenging at first but over time you’d understand more and get better at speaking it. Before you became fluent in speaking, you’d first understand what other’s were saying.
You only need to understand what your body is communicating to you, you don’t have to learn how to speak “body”! Also, because you were born already understanding the language of your body, it’s more like remembering, not learning.
So what is your body communicating to you?
Notice what it feels like when you’re hungry. Notice what it feels like when you’re satisfied or full. Notice what it feels like when you’re hot or cold or tired. Start noticing more. Be an observer of what your body is telling you. Then when you get better at understanding what your body is communicating to you, you can then start to take action to honour her needs.
See it as an experiment, a curiosity of self that you cannot get right or wrong. Because you can’t. Build a relationship with your body. What does a loving relationship with a partner look like to you? Put all of those qualities into your relationship with your body.
#2 Self-care over self-control
There’s a huge difference! Your reason and energy behind what you do is KEY to long-lasting progress and enjoyment.
Are you eating the salad because you know you’ll feel great physically afterwards? Or are you eating it because you think you “should”?
Are you running because it refreshes you, gives you headspace and makes you feel alive? Or are you running to earn your food or to burn off food?
Are you swapping your mid-afternoon snack from chocolate to fruit because you want to add nourishment? Or are you swapping it because you think need to stop eating as much chocolate?
3 questions to ask yourself
- Is it pleasurable?
- Is it flexible?
#3 Add in healful foods
ADDING IN not taking away is the KEY to building healthful behaviours. When we add in fruit and veggies instead of taking away processed foods we are acting from an abundant allowing mindset. You can eat as many processed foods as you like alongside your added nourishment. What you’ll find is that because you’re getting the nourishment you need and you’re filling up on added fruits and veggies, you’ll naturally eat less processed foods because your body won’t simply want it.
Using willpower to fight cravings is useless. When you remove the craving, it’s easy. If you’re truly feeding yourself filling hearty satisfying meals 3 times a day with added fruits and veggies and you’re still craving certain foods, EAT THEM and ENJOY THEM to the max!
Trust your body, she’s got you!
#4 Choose pleasure and nourishment
My philosophy when choosing what to eat is always to ask myself “Is this nourishing for my body AND pleasurable to eat?”
If we only choose nourishment and eat things that don’t taste nice, we’ll only be doing that for a short while. And we will almost always rebel and find ourselves eating the complete opposite… processed foods in copious amounts…
If we only choose pleasure, we won’t feel great physically or mentally as we won’t be providing our bodies with the macro and micronutrients it needs in order to thrive.
So combine the two, forget about calories, tune into your bodies hunger and fullness signals, choose nourishment and pleasure and you’ll be feeling great physically, mentally and your body will be the happiest healthiest size for you!
#5 Move your body
This can anything from dancing to Crossfit. The most important thing is to do what feels good for you and your body. If you enjoy moving your body, you’ll continue to do so over time.
Experiment with what feels good for you. It’s beneficial to your health if you incorporate cardio and strength into your weekly routine but you don’t have to.
Cardio is where you get your heart rate up and get out of breath. This conditions your heart so it is stronger. A great way to measure this is by monitoring your resting heart rate. The lower your resting heart rate, the stronger and healthier your heart.
Strength training is beneficial for joints and bone strength alongside muscle strength. There are many benefits to strength training as well as cardio.
If you don’t like to do the standard cardio – try something like Zumba, dancing or roller skating.
If you don’t like to do the standard strength training – try something like pilates, indoor rock climbing, gymnastics or swimming.
#6 Experiment with serving sizes
When experimenting with your servings sizes, you need to be extra diligent to ensure that your mindset is in the right place. As I’ve said many times before;
“Dieting is not an action, it’s a state of mind”
So having an ALLOWING, ABUNDANT, NON RESTRICTIVE mindset is KEY. When you’ve reminded yourself that you’re a grown-ass woman so you can eat whatever the heck it is you want, you can then start to experiment with the following:
- Buying standard small size chocolate bars instead of the family size ones.
- Portioning out less on your plate than you usually would and eating it mindfully.
- Sharing a starter main and dessert when at a restaurant.
- Portioning out some in a bowl or on a plate and putting the packet away whilst you enjoy it mindfully.
#7 Get enough sleep
This one is by far overlooked. Sleep is SO important to our overall health and wellbeing. If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough zzz’s, go to bed half an hour earlier and gradually increase that until you find a good rhythm for yourself.
Self-discipline will need to be practised here as I know how easy it is to “just watch one more episode” on Netflix. Decide before you settle down for the night, what time you’re going to bed and stick to it. Put practices in place to help you to help yourself such as setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to go to bed but putting your phone out of reach so you have to physically get up to turn it off (no cheating and asking Siri!)
Take your make-up off and cleanse your face BEFORE you settle down for the evening so when the time comes to go to bed, you’ll have less to do beforehand.
Prepare yourself for the best quality sleep possible by not looking at your phone an hour before bed (yes, I mean it!) and wearing blue light blocker glasses an hour before bed when watching TV. Bonus points for reading half an hour before bed.
#8 Stress reduction
Emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the western world.
How stressed are you in general on a scale of 0-10 with 10 being zen AF and 0 being stressed AF?
Grab your journal and answer the following questions:
What in your life is causing you to feel stressed?
Can this be removed from your life?
If so, do what you need to do to remove it.
If not, can you look at it in a different way that lessens the stress?
A great book I recommend for helping you with this is Fuck it therapy by John Parkin.
Stress eating – although an attempt at self-soothing – is actually not that effective. When we’re stressed our pleasure centre is shut down, therefore the pleasure we are seeking from eating isn’t going to be experienced. So we eat more and more in an attempt to get what we need out of the food but we never truly feel satisfied. Often, the feeling of overwhelming fullness can distract us from the feeling of stress and so the cycle continues.
“The stress of eating the cake is more damaging to you than the sugar ever will be”
So mentally allow yourself to eat the things you perceive as “bad”. Practice RELAXING around food using your mind to help you by repeating affirmations such as:
“I choose allowance over control”
“I’m allowed to enjoy food”
“The more I allow this food, the less control it will have over me”
Relaxation is the gateway to pleasure. When we are relaxed, we are open and available for pleasure.
So, do less of the things that you find stressful, look at things differently and add more things into your life that bring you joy and relaxation.
#9 Celebrate your body
Even if you’re not in love with the way your body looks, you can still celebrate your body… yes, really!
What if we stopped seeing our bodies as objects to look at and criticize or admire and instead celebrated and appreciated what our bodies enable us to do?!
You don’t have to wait for society to do this (they never will because then the diet and beauty industries would lose copious amounts of profit) you can do this for yourself NOW! And then your children will also do this and your children’s children and so on… and that’s how we change the world by friends! It all starts with YOU.
It can be extremely difficult to stop seeing your body as something to LOOK at instead of something to BE IN but it is totally possible. A great book to help you with this is More than a body by Lindsey and Lexie Kite. And so course, by working with me.
Grab your journal and answer these prompts:
- What does my body enable me to DO every day? (eg – walk, hug, eat etc)
- What does my body do for me that I don’t even have to think about? (eg – breathing, digesting food etc)
- If I didn’t have an able body I wouldn’t be able to … (walk, run, see, hear etc)
- I’m grateful for my body because…
- It’s not the end of the world if I don’t love the way my body looks because…
- Parts of my body that make me, me are…
This is a gentle reminder that you’re only human! If you promised yourself you’d make more of an effort to eat more fruit and veggies but some days you just didn’t follow through, don’t beat yourself up.
Offer yourself kindness and compassion and ask yourself why you think that is. Come up with a plan of action on how you’re going to implement your goals going forward with the new knowledge you have from the answer to your why question.
Self-compassion isn’t a free pass to do F*ck all, it’s actually a more beneficial way of doing what you say you want to do.
No change ever comes from shame.
You’re worthy of kindness, from yourself and others.
If this episode resonated with you and you’d like support and accountability to strive toward your health goals without dieting, reach out to me.