I got an email from a client recently, between our weekly sessions, telling me how scared she was of actually listening to her body’s signals about hunger and fullness and what she wanted to eat. Even though it was working well for her, and she felt herself eating reasonable amounts of food and feeling sick less often than she had before we started working together, she was still really scared of gaining weight and it was overwhelming to her.
Man, I can relate.
I wrote her back a really long email, because I know that in those moments, we all just need some really solid support. One of the things I shared with her was this:
There’s no way around this being a very scary time. You are questioning deeply ingrained beliefs about your eating and your life.
If you’re scared, you are probably doing it right.
I wanted to share this with all of you, too, because, truth be told, reinventing the way I ate was one of the scariest things I ever did.
I have journals from that time and I was constantly writing about how convinced I was that I was going to never stop wanting to eat peanut butter cups for three meals a day, how scared I was of gaining weight and other people's disapproval.
Before I eating, I would journal about how all I wanted was a big muffin but I was terrified that I couldn’t keep eating muffins like that because I would gain weight. After I ate, I would come back and journal about oh my gosh I can’t believe I ate all that food but I was hungry and I wanted it and am I not going to fit into any of my clothes soon?
I was scared.
But there was this deeper part of me that felt like I have to know if it's possible to trust myself. I'm not even sure that I'm allowed to live this way, or if this will work, but I'm so exhausted by not trusting myself and there has to be a better way.
The scariness comes because you are doing an experiment. You are taking a risk.
You won’t know that you can be trusted around food until you try.
When I was scared and doing this experiment myself, nearly 5 years ago, I told myself, "You can always go back to what you were doing before, back to weighing yourself multiple times a day, beating yourself up for eating too much junk, and always limiting what you eat. But why not try this for a while? Why not try trusting yourself for once?"
And one of the most amazing revelations of my entire life was realizing that my body can be trusted around food, if I remember how to listen to it. That I could make peace with food, lose weight without following any kind of diet, easily maintain a healthy weight, and enjoy food and life more.
But it was a scary time.
Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would probably consider getting some support. I didn’t feel like there was even anyone I could talk to about this stuff — the thought of trusting my hunger, fullness, and cravings, seemed radical and totally different from what I saw anyone else doing. There’s a number of folks out there that do this type of work, but if you’d like to see what it would be like to work together, I’d love to hear from you.
So my challenge for you this week is to try something (especially around eating) that scares you. Try eating only when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full, or choosing what you’d most like to eat. Notice what it feels like to feel that fear, and whether it’s telling you that you’re making a mistake, or just that it’s scary to try something new.
For extra credit, share with all of us how it goes for you in the comments!
All my love,
And one more (very special) thing:
I’ve also heard from several blog readers that they aren’t ready for a long term one-on-one experience with me, but just really wanted to target a specific thing they’re struggling with, so I’ve just opened up one-off 60-minute Strategy Sessions with me. If there are questions you’ve always wanted to ask, or a targeted thing you’d like help with, sign up for a session and we'll connect!