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One BIG Reason Diets Fail

How’s your New Year’s Resolution Diet treating you? Has a girl’s night out turned into a 3-day diet hiatus, with a promise of ‘I’ll start again on Monday?’ Perhaps a nice juicy burger, bacon, and beer binge has found you? Or maybe by now you’ve totally fallen off the New Year’s diet train?

End of February is about the time where 85% + dieters have ‘fallen off the wagon’, and hopes of losing that holiday weight are sadly waning.

I know, it totally stinks

All things diet, body image, and weight loss are extremely personal to me. I struggled for over 15 years as a food addict and in a variety of expressions. I could binge and deprive with the best of you. And I could over-exercise like a maniac! But even worse than destructive eating and exercising habits that were extremely hard on my physical body, dieting (and all that accompanies it), served as an outlet for deep heart ache.

Have you heard the idea of ‘Self Protection?’

Here’s a clue, those who lack self protection skills typically have a very difficult time living a healthy and calm relationship with food, body image, and body movement. As well as share in the deep heart ache.

Most people think that a failure to maintain a diet has to do with a lack of ‘will power’. BUT, nothing could be farther from the truth. Let me say it again, will power has noting to do with failing diets, over eating, binge eating, or emotional eating. This is the most commonly embraced diet-related myth!

One major reasons that diets fail is because we lack self protection skills. Fortunately, anyone can learn to self-protect.

Self protection skills are practices like:

  • Setting boundaries

  • Telling your truth (being vulnerable) when it is difficult

  • Selecting the people, experiences and career you want in your life (rather than just ‘keeping what you get’)

  • Ditching drama and drama stories

  • And then promoting healthy living and healthy habits, instead of numbing with food (or drink, alcohol, shopping, or whatever your drugs of choice might be)

There is an intimate tie between self protection skills and your ability to lose weight, and KEEP it off permanently without dieting.

A lack of self protection skills leads people to literally ‘eat’ their emotions instead of handling and expressing them. Habits like emotional eating, over eating, anxiety eating, and depression eating, with possible bouts of deprivation eating (periods of withholding food) occur in the place of solid self protection skills.

When you hold your tongue, you open your mouth!

There are multiple reasons we may ‘feed our emotions’. Ultimately, we ‘eat more because we feel less’. We feel not-enough in some way. People literally ‘feed’ inner sadness, heartache, anger, loneliness, anxiety, resentment, rejection, abandonment, and feelings of unworthiness, unimportance, and not-enough-ness, when self protection is neglected.

You can begin strengthening your self-protection-courage-muscle, and thus begin freeing yourself from all forms of emotional eating. The core of failed diets. Emotional or addictive eating embodies all eating patterns that are not for the purpose of healthy fueling of your body.

Instead of losing weight as a New Year’s Resolution, something like ‘learning to set iron-clad boundaries’ would be far more appropriate and useful. In this way, unwanted eating behaviors can fall by the way side.

Client Story

Sheila, a client of mine, maintains a seemingly ‘no big deal’ attitude about ongoing challenges with her business partner. Her biz partner tends to handle important business decisions without consulting Sheila, nor even informing her. Leaving her unprepared in many situations.

When she and I met for her coaching session one week, she lamented how much she had eaten the prior evening. ‘I wasn’t even hungry’, she stated, ‘yet, I ate til my stomach hurt’.

Suspicious behavior for a woman who usually takes great care of herself… So I began asking questions about the day’s/week’s events leading up to the binge. We uncovered, that without Sheila’s knowledge, her business partner again re-arranged an entire project without her knowledge. She was then caught off guard by an employee who had question.

Sheila said she felt very ‘stupid’. Even though the change was actually a great choice according to Sheila, she wanted to at least be consulted or informed. She felt devalued and a pushed aside. I asked Sheila how she had handled this issue with her partner and she replied, ‘I didn’t’. She thought she’d let it slide (again), she didn’t want to ‘cause a fuss!’

Well it slid alright, right into Sheila’s gullet. Hundreds of useless, empty, and unhealthy calories consumed because of Sheila’s unwillingness to self protect. To set much needed boundaries with her biz partner! Sheila tried to overlook these kinds of situations because she had been afraid.

Speaking your mind and setting boundaries can be frightening at first, but the consequences of not self protecting are NEVER worth it. We found a consistent pattern with Shelia that connected binging with ‘holding her tongue.’ A great discovery!

Consider this ladies: every single time you withhold self protection, you will likely eat, or indulge in some other form of escape (alcohol, shopping, controlling, yelling, internet, working, TV, and so on). Let me repeat that, every single time you withhold self protection from yourself, you will eat or indulge in some form of escape. This is essentially without fail.

Unmet needs for self protection don’t go away, they just get covered up with crappy habits like over eating!

When you feel like eating or you begin to crave sugary or fatty snacks… ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Am I physically hungry? (if yes, then eat! If no, move to the next question!)

  2. Who/what am I upset with and what did I not protect myself?

  3. How will I handle this situation NOW, and in moving forward?

Tips To Self Protect

Here are a few ideas for you to gain practice in protecting your gorgeous, deserving, and worthy self!

  1. Get clear about the boundaries you need to start enforcing and begin slowly setting them. Begin with easier boundaries at first.

  2. Consider when you need to say NO and say it!

  3. No more obligatory activities or decisions.

  4. Do not engage in arguing. No angry exchange is fruitful, no one wins, and it is self abusive.

  5. Share your perspective even when it may not be popular.

  6. Let go of the drama stories you tell yourself and others. Instead, tune into your actual feelings and share those.

Good luck learning to better protect your most valuable asset… YOU! And remember, the reward is eating LESS- fewer binges, fewer emotional eating episodes, and better over all self care!

Cheers to Liberate Living! Shawn

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