Breaking Bad Habits, 2nd Key

The second key I found to be essential for breaking my bad eating habits was to find outBad Habits the underlying emotional reason for overeating in first place.

I’m going to tell you straight up, people, this was not easy. I had to face some deep dark corners of my emotions; feelings that I had unknowingly happily numbed had to come to the surface and be dealt with.

I started by asking myself, every time I went to grab food, why I was eating. Was I hungry? Was my body in need of a specific nourishment? If not, then why was I eating? I realized I usually overate to numb feelings of boredom and loneliness.

Once I was able to identify these emotions and give them a name, processing them became possible. Processing those emotions required a hard look at my life and what wasn’t working about it. I had to look both at my own weaknesses and how people around me were affecting me. I had to face the fact that my marriage was falling apart; I wasn’t getting the emotional support I needed. It left me lonely. I had to face the fact that I didn’t make the best use of the time I had. I was bored.

I had to make two changes in my life. First, I had to minimize the reasons I was feeling those emotions. I separated from my husband. I found that when I am alone with someone there, it is more lonely than the solitude of being alone by choice. I started using my time more wisely. I developed a better work ethic around the house. I went back to school, which definitely used much more of my time.

Second, I had to develop better coping mechanisms for when I still felt those emotions. When I am lonely, I call a friend or talk to the dog. (While it sounds funny, my dog is actually a pretty good listener.) When I am bored, I clean or organize or sort something. I do homework. I run up and down the stairs 10 times.

One of my biggest tool to overcome my emotional eating habits was, whenever I found myself wandering into the kitchen, to drink instead. I’d heard of an eating plan called Trim Healthy Mama, and I wanted to see what it was about. While I decided not to follow the plan, I fell in love with their Good Girl Moonshine.  I always have a quart mason jar on my counter filled with Good Girl Moonshine. It has enough kick that it feels like a better replacement than just water for the food I would have eaten otherwise.

What bad habits are you trying to overcome? Are there emotional reasons that these habits developed? How can you minimize them and develop better coping mechanisms?

See Part 1 of my Breaking Bad Habits here. Part 3 will be coming soon!!

Breaking Bad Habits, 1st Key

Let me be straight up with y’all here: I’m overweight. Not just overweight, but obese. I’m barely 5’1″ and I weight almost 170 pounds. I’m down 10 pounds from 2 months ago and am pretty dang proud of myself, but still have 15 more until I hit “overweight” and 40 to get to “normal”. I’ve tried a bajillion times to lose weight before, and it never stuck. As I’ve become more emotionally healthy over the last few years, I’ve realized there are three keys that I have needed to understand in order to be successful.

For starters, it’s important that you guys know that I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka LDS, aka Mormon. This is important because my first key is faith-based. (Not a person of faith? Skip to keys 2 and 3. They should be posted within the next couple weeks.)

Bad Habits 1

I believe that there really is an adversary, a devil, Satan, Lucifer, or whatever it is you want to call him. He wants us to be miserable. He’ll tempt us to do things that he claims will make us happy but really won’t. He’ll tell us things like, “A handful of chocolate chips isn’t going to make that big of a difference”, and “It’s okay if you sleep in today. You can get up and work out tomorrow.” He can be very discouraging. “You know you’re weak. You know you’re going to give in. Why bother fighting? You’ll never be able to do it”

You know that old image of an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other? Yep; that’s a real thing. I feel it on a daily basis. Maurice Harker, CMHC, Lead Therapist and Director of Life Changing Services, an LDS based therapy group in Utah that specializes in overcoming addiction, supporting the spouses of addicts, and learning self-mastery, says there isn’t really such thing as negative self-talk. Those negative thoughts in our head are the adversary trying to get us to choose poorly. (I just thought that in the voice of the Templar Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade…. “You have chosen… poorly.”) Once we know how that those negative thoughts in our head aren’t because we’re weak, but because a real entity is trying to affect our behavior, it takes overcoming to a whole new level.

angel and devil

An Ensign article (the Ensign is an LDS magazine) titled “The War Goes On” by Elder Larry R. Lawrence talks about this exact thing. He shares a story of President Heber J. Grant, who, when confronted with temptation, said alound, “Mr. Devil, shut up.” My preferred phrase is, “Dude, Satan, get the f out.” (And I do say “f” instead of the swear word, because I’m a good Mormon girl and don’t swear.) So if you find yourself discouraged because your brain keeps sabotaging you, take a different approach. Recognize that it’s the adversary trying to take you down and fight him. Tell him to shut up. Tell him you’re not going to let him win.

Right now, as I type, I have this going on in my head. “Kids aren’t here. Pop popcorn.” “No, I’m done eating for the day. I don’t need popcorn.” “But popcorn is free on your diet plan. Have some.” “Yes, popcorn is free, but the butter and oil aren’t.” “That’s okay, a little extra for the day won’t hurt.” “But I’m not hungry.” “But you don’t need to be hungry for popcorn. You can eat it whenever.” Folks, this is a brutal battle in my head  All over a little popcorn. Guess it’s time to tell the adversary to get the f out and focus on my blogging.

This video by Maurice Harker has awesome information about how to overcome the bonds of the adversary. It’s titled, “How do good, smart people slip into pornography addictions.” But it’s not just about pornography. Do what he says at about 5:30 and pick your one things that you’re trying to overcome and listen with that one thing in mind. You can see his “Breaking the Chains” series for an uncut version.

So the first key to changing habits is to learn to be aware of the adversary and his effect on you. When you feel that negative talk coming into your head, walk away. Do what you know to be right; what will make you happy in the long run.

What habits are you trying to change? In which ways does the adversary speak to you to discourage you?

4 Legs of Self Care: Spiritual

This is a tricky subject for me to talk about.  I am Mormon, and we have a couple of spiritual practices that are different than other Christian religions, whose practices are different from other organized religions, whose practices are different from those who practice spirituality outside of organized religion.  So I shall endeavor to tread carefully while talking about spiritual self care.

A basic belief in God, or in a greater being or force outside of ourselves can bring purpose when we go through trials.  (From here on out when I refer to God, please feel free to substitute the greater being or force of your belief system.)  I have found those without a belief in God tend to struggle when going through trials.  They often feel that there’s no point. Some who vigilantly follow the law of attraction believe that they are the creator of their trials, and can feel a sense of guilt when something bad happens.  While I believe in the law of attraction, and the christian counterpart, the law of the harvest, I believe that there are other eternal laws that govern our lives and can be the impetus of trials in our lives.

When we believe that God exists and has our greatest interest at heart, it is easier to recognize that trials have a purpose other than making our lives miserable.  If we can harness that purpose and keep an eternal perspective, it is easier to grow (and go) through that trial.

spiritual self care

Spiritual self-care can help us keep the purpose and perspective that is needed to get through trials.  What practices do you find helpful in maintaining your spiritual self?  Do you rely on prayer, scripture study, and church attendance?  What about spending time in the outdoors enjoying God’s creations?  Do you practice meditation?  Do you regularly express gratitude for the blessings you have? Do you give back to others through service?   What can you do to enhance your current connection to God?