23 May Linda’s Blog #5 – What it means to be kind to myself
This week, we hear from our guest blogger Linda on what it means to her to be kind to herself and feed on what gives her life.
Be kind to ourselves – Linda’s experience
It’s funny what goes through your mind when you’re trying to lose weight. In the past, when I’m trying to lose weight, often I start to think about food even more. However, recently I’ve noticed a change in my thoughts and behaviours around food when I’m feeling well within myself. It’s had quite an impact on how I am now approaching healthy weight loss so I thought I would share it with you!
When I am completely engrossed in doing something I enjoy – such as crafting with my kids – I can completely lose track of time. I calm down, I am able to enjoy the moment, the activity itself and the relaxed atmosphere with my little ones. Do you know what I mean? Somehow the thought of food almost goes out of my mind. It doesn’t stop there! I was surprised to discover that when I am in the zone, I then find it easier to pick on foods that are good for me.
This made me think that perhaps I have approached losing weight in not quite the right way. Perhaps there is a nicer, kinder, easier and more meaningful approach to losing weight that I haven’t tried before.
As I mentioned earlier, if I tend to eat better when I feel well, maybe focusing on feeling well is just as important?
Normally, when I try to lose weight, I tend to make myself feel miserable by constantly trying to count calories. I make myself feel miserable by beating myself up for every bit of chocolate I munch. I then end up feeling more guilty and miserable as a result! And what does this then lead to? I tend to eat more chocolate in the ope of cheering myself up which then just makes me more miserable in the long run and leaves me feeling like I can’t do anything right. So how does that add up – on the scales and otherwise?
It surprised me that after a lovely afternoon of crafting I didn’t even crave the chocolate. Or, ok, maybe just a little bit. However I was quite happy with just my cup of tea, cherishing the moment we’d just had.
Doing what matters, matters
There is a lot of ‘psycho babble’ around the importance and impact of positive thinking. And while I don’t agree with everything, there seems to be a true essence in the power that is found in having a positive outlook on life. I think I can already hear a few signs of ‘well that’s easy for you to say’. I know, that was my first reaction too. However, what I came to understand was this: the important question isn’t ‘do I feel positive now?’, but rather, ‘what may I do to work towards that more positive outlook?’. This was something I could get more on board with.
Often I find myself thinking that “If I was just a size smaller I would go swimming”, or “If I was more confident I would apply for that new job”, or “If I had a buddy I might walk more regularly”, or “If I had more money, or more time I might . . . “. What I’ve started to realise that by pondering all of these ‘ifs’, I am in danger of losing those things that make me sing on the inside: my passion, my joy and those things that bring me to life. And there it was. The realisation that the future, my future, and my inner and outer happiness depends on not the ifs, but on what I choose to say and do, both to myself and to others.
Finding what gives ME life
The thing with finding what makes you happy (other than food I mean!), is that it’s very individual. For some of us, it may be that we aren’t very connected with it. One thing that can be really helpful is to try and think back to the three best recent (or not so recent) experiences you have had and think about:
- What were the circumstances? (who was there, where were you, what were you doing that made the experience great)
- How did you feel doing it? (try and describe the feeling in as much detail as you can)
- What would you describe as the ‘essence’ of the experience?
- Are there practical ways in which you could replicate this experience?
I followed this framework for my last three experiences. These were a spa day with a friend, the craft session with my kids and a lovely walk I went on while on holiday. For me, the ‘essence’ of these experiences were all about connecting with people I love, being creative and being outdoors.
Feeding on what gives me life
When pondering these experiences I found myself faced with a question. How could I make sure that these life giving experiences continued to happen in my daily life? I realised it would require a bit of effort to implement them more regularly. It would also require a bit of effort to make sure they didn’t get squashed out of my calendar because of old routines kicking back in and squashing the life out of me again!
To be honest, making those adjustments was quite hard. One day I had signed up to join a local neighbourhood walk. On that day I felt really tired and was conscious of the life admin piling up at home! All I really wanted to do was spend some time on the sofa with a film and some chocolate. However, I stopped to think about the agreement I had with myself about choosing activities that bring me joy. I kept that commitment with myself and took myself off to the walk. Two hours later I returned home buzzing from the fresh air, energised by the wildlife I had seen and that conversations I had had with new friends. The life admin didn’t seem anywhere near as daunting now! As an aside, my desire for chocolate also seemed to evaporate as I had been ‘feeding’ on what gives me life.
Be kind – the outcome
You know what? I haven’t even been consciously keeping a food diary lately. When I’m doing things I enjoy and feel better about myself, I seem to eat better as well. It’s interesting, isn’t it? I will be checking my weight on the scales soon to see what kind of a difference it has made, without all the conscious effort I have previously put into weight loss. What ever the result, I will continue to be kind to myself because it is so worth it.