Have you ever been in a conversation with a good friend, someone who knows you really well, and they turn to you and say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”
You know what they mean is: “you are feeding yourself a line of baloney and we both know it.”
It is sometimes accompanied with a look like this:
I have one of those voices inside my head (it’s a friendly voice; it’s not The Hard Ass who can only criticize). About seven months ago she kept saying the same thing to me: “How’s that workin’ for ya?”
Whenever I reached for something to eat at 4:30 in the afternoon, there she was.“How’s that workin’ for ya, Joanna?”
As I munched down somewhere around 700 calories between 4:30 and 7:00 pm. (I got curious several days in a row. Yep, 700-800 calories in snacks in a 3.5 hour period. Whoah.)
Obviously, it wasn’t working. And we both knew it. My internal bullsh1t meter was going off.
I grew up in a family where eating and body image were sore topics. Through at least four generations of women in my family- we all have difficult relationships with food.
We all try hard. We all have failed- multiple times. We all get back up on the horse and try again.
Try to what?
To get skinny. To lose weight. To not be fat. Once and for all. This time it’s going to work!
And it never effing works.
This time I started wondering, “What’s really going on here?”
I dug into my training.
I did some research.
I found out why it doesn’t work for us.
Here’s why dieting doesn’t work.
First and foremost: when food is restricted, we want more of it.
It’s called loss aversion. We wanna keep what we got.
Take it away, we yearn for it.
Several research studies have shown that even a moderate amount of restriction can result in huge changes in our ability to manage food. In one study, two weeks of restrictions so badly damaged one participants’ ability to feed himself adequately that he required several years of psychotherapy to overcome the problem.
So, the more we restrict ourselves, the more we want food. And that derails any effort at ‘losing weight’ almost from the get-go.
Second: when we’re frustrated or disturbed by our eating habits and their results, it’s a problem of relationship.
When you’re feeling frustrated or disturbed those are emotional reactions. They speak more to your relationship with food and eating than they do to your ability to control your food.
Controlling your food intake doesn’t work, either. Attempting to control just starts an emotional fight that leaves us wounded and frustrated. And eating a bag of Doritos to feel better.
So, if four generations of women in my family were basing their dieting efforts on restriction and control, it’s no wonder we got crap results.
Not looking like the most useful tools for weight loss.
What else is there?
Instead of working with restriction, I started looking at liberation.
I asked myself, “If I could have Anything Under the Sun when 4:30 in the afternoon hit, what would it be?”
I found a really surprising answer: peace.
Here I was, wanting peace, and instead I was feeding myself chocolate chips.
Which was not bringing me peace. No way, no how.
Maybe I needed to look at that a little more closely.
Second, I started working with my relationship to food during those tough hours.
How was I treating food? How was it treating me? Were we kind? Were we fighting? How did we interact with one another?
What I found was a whole lot of resentment and frustration with food.
What would happen in a human relationship with that much tension? It would blow up.
No wonder control wasn’t working so well for me.
So, my internal bullsh1t meter was right: it wasn’t working for me.
I needed to dig deeper and find what I really desired underneath the want for food.
And I had to pull apart- and reconstruct- my relationship with food.
I don’t snack my way through those late afternoon hours.
I lost the last 8 lbs I’ve been holding on to for several years.
I finally feel like my body is the shape and size I feel most comfortable in.
I really enjoy moving in my body and seeing what it can do.
I have the peace I craved. And I’ve made peace with food.
If you’re struggling with your relationship with food. Or you know you’re an emotional eater. Or you can’t seem to get your body into the shape you feel comfortable in: please consider taking my course True Nourishment.
You can find more information about it here.