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Catching Yourself In A Binge or Compulsive Eating: Stopping Behaviors
Oh, no . . . You suddenly realize that you are well on your way to eating more than you had intended. Maybe it's a meal that you've already eaten too much of, or perhaps an unexpected binge. How do you stop? It's not going to be easy, and that's certainly an understatement, but it is possible to find a way to put the brakes on.
The first step is always to find some way to wake up from the trance you're in. No matter how much has already been eaten, a person has to be able to snap back to reality before anything else can happen. The trick is discovering how to regain consciousness. You'll have to find what works for you, but some methods of bringing yourself back to the here and now can include:
* Go to a mirror and look yourself deep in the eyes. Say hello to yourself.
* Get a broader perspective of what is happening. Step back and see the whole picture. Acknowledge where you are and what you were doing. Begin to see the whole forest and not just a giant close up of the trees.
* Talk out loud to yourself. Call yourself by name and say "wake up".
* Shake your head to clear out the cobwebs.
* Plant visual cues in your kitchen:
- Place a special blooming potted plant on your kitchen table. Looking at it might remind you of your potential to bloom and prosper.
- Put a baby picture of yourself as a baby on your refrigerator. Look at how pure and happy you are.
List a few methods you can think of to bring yourself back into a mindful state:
B. LISTEN TO YOUR THOUGHTS
Now that you're awake - Pause. Consciously notice the thoughts running through your head. Separate yourself from them and just take a moment to listen. Notice what they are saying to you. Are they critical thoughts about what you've already done? Or defeatist? Perhaps they run along these lines:
"Look at what you've done now."
"Everything that you've worked for is now undone."
"It's going to take so much longer to lose weight now."
"Since you've eaten this much, no reason to stop now."
"What the heck, you've already failed. "Might as well enjoy it now that you've given in."
"It's useless. No point now in stopping."
Once you hear your thoughts, stop and acknowledge them. Talk back to them with a non-confrontational style. Something along the lines of, "Yes, I hear you. Notice your thoughts instead of agreeing or arguing with them. You are not required to agree or disagree with them. Simply hear them as an observer. You might say, "Yes, I hear that you're saying . . . (fill in your own blank)." Take a moment and notice the feeling that goes along with the thoughts. Observe where in your body the feeling is, and see if you can give it a name.
Now, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Breath in through your nose, allowing the breath to go deeply into your lower belly. Breath out naturally. Feel yourself breathing. Allow the breath to enter the area of your body that is holding onto the feeling from above. Slowly release any tightness or constriction in your body. Let go. Breathe. Relax.
D. COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS
Talk compassionately to yourself. No matter what has happened or how much you've already eaten, begin speaking kindly and compassionately to yourself. Yes, I can hear the protests already: "How can I talk nicely to myself when I've just blown it? I hate myself for what I've done." My only response is, will beating yourself up for your actions help you achieve the overall success you want? Has it worked so far? Didn't think so.
Being critical only serves to maintain and reinforce status quo. Taking the time to intentionally feed and nurture what you desire (even if you failed big time) will strengthen that which you are in the process of cultivating. It is choice that will determine your destiny. Choose criticism and you learn nothing, move nowhere. Choose compassion for self and you move forward. One episode of overeating will not affect anything in the scheme of things. However criticism, and feeling defeat, and giving up will turn one episode into an ongoing event.
Now is the time to remember your dreams, relocate your desire, and be clear about your direction. Criticism destroys this. Positive thoughts, even in the face of a setback, will reinforce your destination. Stop and think - are you trying to reinforce failure or determination? It is up to you, and you alone, to make the choice to strengthen your goals.
Here are some examples:
* I forgive myself for what I have done.
* Now is the time to begin again. I do not need to wait until tomorrow.
* I haven't failed. The only failure is failing to learn something from this experience. What have I learned?
* I am back in control now. I can choose my response from this point forward.
List a few sentences or quotes that will begin to bring calmness and control back to you:
In advance of such an episode, you might consider putting a positive self-talk speech on tape. If you had such a recording prepared, now would be the time to hit the play button. You might use the following for an idea of what to pre-record:
"Hello Annette. I see that you woke up from the trance you were in. Congratulations. That's something new. Now that you are back to real time, notice what a good job you did of waking up when you did. You are doing so good. I am proud of you. Yes, I can see that you are disappointed in your actions. It's okay to feel disappointment. It's also okay to forgive yourself. So, close your eyes and listen closely. Annette, you are a wonderful person. Yes, you overate, and it's not the end of the world. In truth, it was just one meal. Everything is going to be okay. Remember your goal. (Fill in your goal). You can do this. I have faith in you. I love you."
Copyright 2005, Dr. Annette Colby, all rights reserved.
Dr. Annette Colby, RD
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