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.)

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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.

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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?

Living Your Own Life

It takes so much energy to be married to an addict.  So much of it involves worry: is he lying to me again, is he acting out again, am I doing enough to get him to stop (you CAN’T stop him so stop trying), how will this influence the kids, should we get divorced, should we see a counselor, what will happen if….  Often, the wives of addicts feel like they have no control over their own lives, because all of their thoughts and worries revolve around him and how his actions will affect their lives.  She winds up feeling very unempowered.

One of the first steps a woman can take, no matter the reason she is feeling unempowered, is to start intentionally living the life she wants to live, no matter whether those around her are ready to live it with her.

For example, my husband worked Saturdays for 15 years.  He had a great job that allowed me to be a stay at home Mom to our three children.  But I missed so many opportunities because he couldn’t come with us.  Street fairs, birthday parties, museums, and other events would go unattended because I wanted to go as a family, and he couldn’t go with us.  If it was that important, sometimes I’d ask my Dad to come with us, but it just wasn’t the same.  I was really living a life waiting for something to happen.

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Finally I decided to just go without him.  I realized how much I was missing out on waiting.  I picked a Saturday and decided to go hiking.  I found a very easy paved trail that ended at a waterfall.  It was a little scary to pack up my kids and drive up a mountain road in a minivan by myself, not to mention keeping an eye on three young children as we walked up the side of a mountain.  But I did it.  And it felt AWESOME!

And I have not slowed down since then.  We bought passes for the Los Angeles Zoo and go often.  We went to a insect fair at a local museum.  (Ew!)  (But cool!)  We’ve traipsed around California visiting friends and family and monuments and museums and all kinds of awesome things that I wouldn’t have ever done before.

About 4 months ago, my husband’s schedule changed and he got Saturdays off.  I had already established a pattern of spending time making memories with one another that was easy to carry on now instead of struggling to establish new patterns.  Me taking control and living the life I desired has blessed my family immensely.

What are you NOT doing because you’re waiting for an external circumstance to be ideal?  What step can you take to live it?  Have you always wanted to go back to school and study something dear to your heart?  Do it!  Are you Christian and skimp on scripture reading or family prayers because your husband, the patriarch, doesn’t initiate it?  Well, you initiate it!  You can still bless your children!  Have you dreamed about having a beautiful yard or garden but feel like you can’t do it without him?  Yes you can! Check out some gardening books from the library and get to it!

What can I do to support you?  Reach out to me on my contact page.  I can help you set goals and provide accountability to make sure you’re living the life you dream.

Electronics: The Good and the Bad

Electronics have a place in our lives.  I believe is nearly impossible to live a life today without them.  And frankly, they’re the main reason I have a job: men who lack self-mastery use them to look at pornography, break the hearts of their poor wives, and I work with these amazing ladies to bring joy back into their lives.

But they also have an amazing place in our world.  They allow connection to people and places where there was little to no previous connection.  Social media sites allow us to communicate with family and friends with whom we may have otherwise lost track.  We can call for help when our car breaks down on the side of the road instead of just praying that a police car shows up, or walking the mile to find the next yellow call box. (Do they even have those anymore?)

Anyways, you get the point.  Cel phones, computers, and tablets all have a useful place in our lives.  I have found though, not only with my clients but with myself, that connections using electronics can become a burden when not used wisely.  How many times do we find ourselves mindlessly scrolling through pinterest or facebook, or playing one of the endless supply of infinite runners or puzzle games that are available at our fingertips?  How often are we spending time doing this instead of engaging in activities that would truly enrich our lives.  How often does work stay undone, goals go unmet, children go ignored, and dinner haphazardly slapped together in the name of “downtime” on our devices.

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Downtime is good.  Downtime is important.  But is what you’re doing really downtime?  Or is it numbing?  Is what you’re facing elsewhere in your life so overwhelming that you’re ignoring it?  If so, step away from the phone.  Then make a list.  Dump everything out of your brain onto paper.  Next, set certain “phone time” blocks in your schedule; say first thing in the morning, during lunch, and before bedtime.  Finally, start tackling that list.  You don’t have to plow through it super-quick.  You don’t want to frustrate yourself because it’s so tiring.  Start with a couple easier things.  Then do something harder.  Then breeze through some easier things.  Next, tackle something you’ve been putting off for a long time.  It’ll feel really good!  Remember to get your schedule phone time in!

Still feeling overwhelmed?  Reach out to me on my contact page.  I can help you set goals to spend more time doing what’s important and will fulfill your life.