Power Of Habit or Bad Hair Day?

For the past two weeks I have been fretting over my hair.  It has lost its luster, gets frizzy for no reason and just doesn’t feel the same.  I have wracked my brain trying to figure out what’s causing it.  Am I just getting old?  Is my body chemistry changing?  Am I eating something bad for me?  Am I in the sun too much or not enough?

Deciding to put all these questions aside and take a nice shower, I step into the tub and grab the shampoo which sits on a shelf to the right.  Wait…uh….. this is not shampoo… this is body wash.  For the last two weeks, out of habit, I have reached to the right to pump out a handful of shampoo, but have been slathering body soap on my hair instead!

I see now the body wash and the shampoo have been switched.  How did they get switched?  And more importantly, why didn’t I notice this?

As far a habits go, this is not a big deal.  I can choose to change my routine and reach to the left for the shampoo or put the bottles back in their places.  Seems easy enough.  But what if I had never noticed this and just went around worrying about my hair and how bad it looked?  I could have driven myself crazy trying to find the reason behind my bad hair days.  I could have spent weeks or months worrying and trying to change things that either made no difference or made things worse.  Seems kind of stupid doesn’t it?

Yet, this is exactly what I did when I was trying to ‘fight’ an eating disorder.  I turned what was a habit into a complicated mess of body shaming, food restriction, and bingeing.  I saw myself as a defective person who couldn’t control herself.   I agonized so much that the disorder became my comfort.

Yes, it was comfortable.  Even though it was a devastating and sometimes life threatening habit, it made me comfortable to do the things I did.  Of course, I did not like the aftermath.  It was like using the body wash on my hair but hating the results.  And how ridiculous it seems to keep washing my hair with body wash and then complain about it.  But that’s what I did with the eating and body shaming year after year.  I kept doing the same thing and hating the results.  I kept looking for complicated answers instead of looking right in front of me.

How I changed

When I decided to de-complicate the binging problem, I had to realize that the disordered eating and body bashing were habits.  They did an excellent job of keeping me functioning and getting me through stress.  Of course they caused a lot of stress too -this is what perpetuated them.

Once I realized that my disordered behaviors were not a part of my personality, but something I did in response to my environment, I let go of the guilt.  I made a choice to believe that there is no ‘good or bad’ involved in eating or being any certain weight or body size.  I began to believe deep down that I was a good person, regardless of what I ate or how I looked.  I re-established my rightful place in the universe. (For me, this meant seeing God not as an entity judging me and keeping score, but as a support and encourager in all I do.)

Then I stopped dividing food into good and bad categories.  I allowed myself to eat all foods with no guilt or shame or feelings of eating something ‘sinfully delicious.’  All food became okay to eat for its own time and purpose.  I also began looking at my body differently.  Instead of labeling it as bad because it held extra fat or wasn’t as muscular as I it wanted to be, I started to appreciate it for the good things it did.

Eventually, I could look at myself in the mirror and not fret over the thighs or wiggly belly.  My body stopped being my focus.  It is now neither good nor bad.  It is just one element of my complete being.  It doesn’t define my status, my feelings, my health, or my personality, it doesn’t make me more or less valuable than anyone else.

And even though others may use my body to make judgments about who I am, I can leave that with them and not worry about it.

I believe we create habits out of necessity.  They allow us to perform activities while our mind is occupied with something else.  Sometimes they end up being good for us and sometimes not.  Making and breaking habits can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

Letting go of guilt and self condemnation was the giant first step in changing my life.  If I can do this, you can too.

P.S. The shampoo and body soap got misplaced by my husband when he cleaned the tub and shower.  (Yes, he occasionally cleans the bathroom, but no, he is not available for hire!)

For more steps on starting the binge free journey click here.

For more technical advice on habit and behavior change, read James Clear’s The Paradox of Behavior Change.   Check some of his other articles on habits.

 

“If you judge me for what I look like, that’s on you, not me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking For Miracles

Today I will look for miracles.

If I look for miracles, I will find them.

I don’t expect to skip over all the hard stuff in life. But, I know my life is only as good as I expect it to be.

We experience what we focus on.

If we wake up each morning expecting life to feel like a struggle, then our lives will be a struggle. This should not surprise you.

But what if you wake up and look for a miracle today?  The miracle could be as extravagant as healing your disease or as simple as getting a convenient parking spot.  But it will happen. All you need to do is look in the right direction.

In a way, miracles are subject to momentum. They may start very, very small. But once you notice one, the more you will believe in possibilities. And the more you believe in possibilities, the more miracles you will see.

What are you focusing on today?

Miracles happen everyday. But if you don’t look for them, you will miss them.

Expect a miracle.

 

“Just because you have negative thoughts doesn’t mean you have to entertain them.”

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Person In Training

Pita – “I’m tough, Creasy.”

Creasy- “There’s no such thing as tough, there’s only trained and untrained.”

This dialogue is from the movie ‘Man on Fire’.  Creasy, played by Denzel Washington, is teaching nine-year-old Pita (Dakota Fanning) to be unafraid of the sound of the starting pistol as it fires a shot to signal the start of a swimming race.  This scene turns out to be the crux of the movie because, later on, Pita gets kidnapped and her training with Creasy (spoiler) may be what saves her life.

While coping with depression, anxiety and eating disorders, I remember thinking I was tough and resilient.  I figured I could just ‘tough it out’ and eventually overcome my problems, but year after year, I struggled.  I had the desire, the determination, but I had the belief that I was born with certain personality traits, that these struggles were just a part of who I was.

I innately knew my parents didn’t teach me about self-esteem, integrity, or what it took to be successful.  They did the best they could, but they were busy fighting their own demons and trying to make ends meet .  They had the belief they were not meant to be too successful or even too happy.  I followed in their footsteps until I finally realized that just because I wasn’t born with certain qualities or hadn’t been taught them, didn’t mean I could not acquire them at this time in my life.

Many people fall into the category of thinking all they need is toughness and persistence to ‘make it through’ their ordeal.  Each day they hope for a better outcome than yesterday, they think persistence and determination is all that is needed.  Persistence is a great attribute to have, but if you are persistent in going the wrong direction, you will never get where you want to go.

I don’t believe life is made to be “toughed out.”  I believe we are made to thrive and be happy.  And the only thing we need to make this happen is a belief that we can learn how to overcome our weaknesses.  This takes our undesirable behavior out of the realm of shame and puts it, blamelessly, into the realm of acquiring knowledge.  Once you step out of that sphere of guilt and self-loathing, nothing can stop you from obtaining what you need to be happy and healthy.

You can train yourself to be content, to stop bingeing, to love yourself, or anything you desire.  Any attribute you think you lack, you can acquire.  You don’t need to have been born with a special personality, you don’t need to lose weight first.  You don’t need tons of people around you to tell you to ‘hang in there.’  You can do more than just ‘hang in there’.  All you need is the belief that you can teach yourself those life lessons you thought you missed out on, and you can fly.

Assess the attributes you think you need to be successful in whatever you want to do.  Be honest, don’t underestimate your good traits.  Find sources of inspiration and teach yourself to pay attention to the positive messages.  You can be trained or untrained, its up to you.

Click here for a similar article.

Click here for first steps to a binge free life.

“My past has no hold on me unless I let it.”

`buddha words

 

 

 

 

Our Functional Lies

Recovering from binge eating is not unlike recovering from an addiction.  Even though I don’t believe binge eating falls into the addiction category (here’s why), I do recognize that there are underlying beliefs and attitudes common to both.  The one I want to focus on today is truth.  Or rather lying.  It’s not truth that is the problem, it’s the lies we tell to cover up the truth, to disguise ourselves from reality.

Some of us, myself included, believe our own lies.  We become so adept at telling them, we forget there is a truth.  Lying becomes a thing we must do to make ourselves more valuable or at least less shameful.  You may impress someone with a lie, but once you speak it, trust is broken down.  You can’t build a relationship on lies or half-truths.  And you can’t trust yourself when you don’t know what the truth really is. So, how do we get out of this maze?

You must first recognize you have a problem.  I’m not talking about your overeating problem.  You already recognized that or your wouldn’t be reading this blog.  But think about the kind of lies you tell others or yourself, not just deceitful lies, but your functional lies.  These can be lies about your feelings, needs and desires.  They can be lies about your past or even about not being hungry and pushing your plate away when you really want to finish that pasta.  We use these lies to prevent shame or enhance our standing in someone else’s eyes.  We use them to trick ourselves into believing we are okay or are doing the right thing.

I used to tell the story that I learned how to swim because my dad pushed me off a dock into a deep lake when I was seven years old.  In reality, I took swimming lessons the summer I was seven.  I also used to tell people that I went to Catholic school from first through twelfth grade.  Actually, I only went to parochial school for a few years.  But, to me, it just sounded more impressive to say otherwise.

These lies were innocuous. They were not bad or dangerous, but they reinforced a sense in me that I was not enough as I was.  I had to constantly think of enhancements to my story to keep people interested.  And the more I told these lies, the easier it was to weave a tapestry of a false life.

 Once you start this, it eventually becomes second nature to hide events and thoughts and feelings from others.  You may even be convinced that you are protecting them.  But this is an arrogant position to function from, as if you think you are smarter or have a greater depth of being than everyone around you. You convince yourself you must lie so that others will not make false assumptions about you, because they would never understand and accept you if you told them the truth, right?

In this type of existence, you may feel lost and empty, you don’t know what you want out of life because you cannot accept yourself for who you are.  In my case, this led to harsh scrutiny of my body.  I didn’t have very close relationships with other stable people and instead of examining my interactions with them, I blamed my outward appearance. I looked for diets and food plans to keep me on track and when these failed, I became bulimic.  Even after overcoming bulimia, I was still obsessed with food and body issues, for many years, to a point of malfunction.

And really, all the suffering I put myself through over the years was only caused because I believed the biggest lie of all – that I was not good enough just the way I was.

 

“I am not concerned what others think about me, I am concerned what God thinks about me.” MDcut out advanced

Do You Have What It Takes?

If you’ve read any other posts from this blog, you know I believe anyone can cultivate any trait they desire. You may not believe it just yet, but you were born with the characteristics of integrity, persistence, a positive outlook, a thankful spirit, self-confidence, and many more.  You didn’t miss the boat if you had a crappy childhood or made bad decisions in the past.  You don’t have a character flaw or some defect in your brain. You can cultivate characteristics you desire to be successful in any endeavor you choose.  All you must realize is that you don’t need to DO anything to earn these traits. You possess them already, they are just waiting to be acknowledged.

Success can be defined in many ways.  To some, it’s a great paying job, to others its completion of a creative endeavor, to someone else it may be getting healthy or overcoming a setback.  For me, overcoming binge eating was a huge hurdle. And I’ve had days, in the past, where getting out of bed meant I had a successful day.  But whatever you call success, we all have some common characteristics that make it happen.  It could be hard work, determination, persistence, confidence or desire.  It could be changing a process or creating a daily habit.

Whatever you think it requires to be successful, there is one underlying belief which is the foundation for any positive trait you desire.  This is a knowledge that you are valuable. And I’m not talking about a value that comes from prior successes and accolades from others.  I’m talking about a belief in the core of your being that you are okay, that no matter what happens, you have everything you need to do what you want to do.

You may say, “How can I believe I’m valuable if I feel so unworthy?” or “I feel like I have a hole inside that can’t be filled with anything.”  Well, here’s the revelation- just because you don’t feel worthy or significant doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy or significant.  Your feelings don’t reflect your value.  They only reflect the thoughts and beliefs you have learned during your experience of life.  And no action on your part, good or bad, will change your inherent value.  You are a valuable human being whether you believe and feel it, or not.

What Happened?

We all start out with confidence as kids, but life happens, and we end up second guessing ourselves.  I remember, in seventh grade, being chosen to represent my school in an oratory contest. I had a month to practice and knew I could win.  I was so excited, I ran home that Friday afternoon and read the speech to my mom.  She promptly told me I would have stage fright.  I know she didn’t mean to quench my enthusiasm, she just meant to warn me that it would be different up on the stage.  But that word ‘stage fright’ stayed with me.  By Monday morning, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t possibly get up in front of hundreds of people because I would have stage fright.  So, when I got to school, I found myself explaining to the nuns why I couldn’t do this.  They quickly dismissed me and found someone else to represent the school.  I was heartbroken and ashamed.

I wouldn’t say this event was the cause for my struggles throughout life, but it was one of a myriad of events that made me question my value.  I found myself thriving on the encouragement and positive feedback from others.  The problem is, when you look for the approval of others, you end up doing things you think they want you to do and not what you were really meant to do.  It took a long time to realize my confidence had to come from inside me, that it was a direct reflection of my inherent value.  All I had to do was see it.

Applying this to my eating disorders, I came to terms that my exterior body was just a fraction of the totality of me.  And my complete persona is different than anyone else on this earth.  I don’t have to fit into anyone else’s idea of beauty or goodness to be a valuable person.  I don’t have to eat what everyone else thinks I should eat.  I just need to eat what I think I want and need and go from there.  Sometimes I eat too much or too little or the wrong things, but I am confident that my body and I will get it right in the long run and I keep chugging away each day.  And whatever happens, I remember this…..I am a child of God. I don’t have to do anything to earn the grace that God offers me. All I have to do is reach out and accept it.

For more information on how to start the binge free process click here

“Confidence may not be what you think it is.  It may not be the self-assurance that you have talent or that everything is going to work out, it may just be the willingness to take a first step and see what happens.” MDphilbeach

Perpetual Motivation?

Just like it’s easier to clean your house when someone is coming to visit, its easier to eat normally when you are properly motivated. But continual motivation does not come from wanting to lose weight or fit into smaller clothes. Appetite overrides those reasons easily. And motivation doesn’t come from disliking your own body or being disgusted with yourself. (why would you want to help someone you don’t like?) Lasting motivation doesn’t even really come from wanting to be healthier or be your best self.

All these things may inspire you to change something in your life. But when there is no substance to back up the initial surge of motivation, each time you start a diet or make a change in your food or exercise habits, something inside you thwarts your attempts. When you feel stressed or things just don’t turn out like you planned, you lose your mojo.

So how do you ‘stay motivated’ to do the right thing?

The truth about motivation is that it is inconsistent. Its very nature is fleeting and unfaithful. We look at others who accomplish what we only dream of and wonder how they stay so motivated. But it isn’t motivation that keeps them going. It isn’t even their routines and habits. It’s much more basic than that. Motivation is just the key that starts the engine, but your beliefs are the fuel that keep that engine running.

Imagine you know a person that gets on your nerves. Maybe they’ve said unkind things to you or kicked your dog, or they burp in public. For whatever reason, you don’t like or respect them. Now imagine they asked you for a really big favor that would benefit them and puts you in an uncomfortable position. Would you be inclined to help them? Probably not.  Someone being mean to you is not a very good motivator for you to do them a favor.  If they had not been mean to you and treated you with dignity and respect, would you be more willing to help them?

It’s the same for yourself, even if you desperately want to change, you will find it difficult to help yourself if you don’t already like who you are here and now. When you are busy berating yourself and feeling guilty for eating or being overweight, you want to change because you are anxious to be a better person. But this anxiety can blind you to the fact that you already ARE an awesome person. You are already one hundred percent good just the way you are. Getting thinner and healthier will make you thinner and healthier, it will not make you any more valuable than you are now.

So, the secret to staying ‘motivated’ is self-acceptance, self-respect and self-love. No amount of eating right or weight loss can give you these things. But if you can realize them now, as you are, you will be able to do the things you set out to do.

Once you stop the guilt and shame, you will be immune to fast food marketers and food pushers. You will be able to walk into a buffet and eat only what you want and not crave anything else. You will be able to walk into the supermarket with a list of foods and not come out with two boxes of donuts that you will demolish on the way home. You will be able to keep cookies and other treats in your panty without being afraid of eating them all at one sitting.

This is a miraculous feeling and it is within your grasp, no matter how abnormal you think you are, no matter what you have eaten in the past and no matter what anyone has told you. It IS possible to eat well without trying to restrict certain foods, without counting calories and without using sugar free and fat free substitutes. When you accept that you are a valuable person just the way you are, you will find you will naturally have what it takes to take care of yourself and your body.

For  more on Binge Free Living click here

 

Be bold. Don’t beg God for favors. Ask once and thank him that it is already on its way. WIN_20180226_10_11_05_Pro