2. The Key Mindset Shift You Are Missing
Welcome to episode 2 of the Mindful Weight Loss podcast. I’m excited to be with you and today I’m particularly excited to share with you a key concept that I teach in the Mindful Weight Loss program. I said in the first episode that I created the program because none of the other programs I tried ever worked for me. Even if it was a program that focused more on our relationship with food and our bodies than nutrition and exercise, I always felt like something was missing, and one of those missing elements is what we’re talking about today and that’s the idea that Overeating is the Enemy.
This is a concept that we really focus on in mindful weight loss and it really differentiates this program from others. It’s possible that others do teach something similar, but I’ve been through a lot and so far and I’ve yet to find someone else to teaches this idea and in this manner.
I came to this concept after reading a great book on the 12 steps called Radical Recovery, and, considering how Overeaters Anonymous uses the 12 step program replacing alcohol with food.
Now years ago I seriously considered Overeaters Anonymous. I think the 12 step process is really powerful and I have no problem with the use of God in their teachings even though I consider myself less religious and more spiritual. But my sticking point with the program was the idea that I was powerless over food. That’s the first tenet, just as an alcoholic needs to admit they they are powerless over alcohol the overeater needs to admit that they are powerless over food.
And while I did feel powerless over food at times, for some reason I didn’t feel right stating that I was powerless over food in general. I guess I wanted something more cut and dried like it is for alcohol. For the alcoholic that one sip of alcohol needs to be avoided at all costs, but that’s not how it works with eating. We can’t avoid food at all costs. But then it hit me. For an overeater it’s the OVEReating - It’s that first bite where we eat beyond our hunger, or when we’re not hungry - that’s what needs to be avoided at all costs and that is absolutely something that can be done.
Have you ever noticed that you overeat BECAUSE you overeat? It’s that old well, I wasn’t supposed to eat that, so I might as well eat more. I’ve already screwed so I might as well really screw up and get some mileage out of my mistake and start over with a clean slate tomorrow. But it’s even more pernicious than that. If you really pay attention to those times where you eat something and you feel bad about it, I bet that you will find that you follow that up later eating even more things that you feel bad about. That’s why binges can last days. Overeating is a slippery slope. It’s a self-reinforcing pattern. And it’s dangerous.
Now, the one reason I love the idea is for the simplicity. It’s a clear definition of the problem. Diet and nutrition advice is all over the place - one day the problem is fat, the next day it’s sugar or carbs, or maybe it’s just calories. And even other programs that use mindfulness, they may teach concepts around intuitive eating which essentially teaches you not to overeat, but in my case I had a lot of trouble putting all those concepts together and engaging in those behaviors in order to create success. Those approaches always felt overwhelming. I had too much mental drama that was in the way of overhauling my entire approach to eating.
For me, this approach cuts through all that noise. Don’t get me wrong, in the mindful weight loss program we overhaul a lot and there is work, but this simple mindset shift makes it feel simple. It gives us ground to stand on and something simple we can always return to. Get confused? Just remember that overeating is the enemy and work from there.
And now let’s talk about where this idea gets juicy - and that’s how how else it cuts through that mental drama.
For one, this creates real separation between overeating and you. Overeating is not a character flaw. It’s a self-reinforcing pattern with real power. And the best way to get rid of it is to stop identifying with it and stop underestimating it.
When we declare that overeating is the enemy we’re making clear to our brains that this pattern is not a part of us. It’s unwelcome, and we don’t engage with it.
And when we see overeating as something completely separate from ourselves, we can stop blaming ourselves for all our perceived shortcomings and focus on the real problem. You are not the problem. Overeating is. You don’t need to get angry at yourself anymore, you can direct your anger towards overeating, where it belongs and where your anger will actually create some traction and motivation away from the thing you actually want out of your life.
And as you really embrace this idea and start to think along these lines, you will be amazed at how you can use it to your advantage to get rid of a lot of of negative thought patterns.
Do you feel shame about your body and the number on the scale? Well guess what, overeating wants you to feel that way. It wants you to feel bad about yourself so it can use that and get you to feed it later.
Do you feel like you just don’t have it as together as everyone else seems to? Overeating loves that. It can totally use that to get you to overeat.
And I’m sure some of you are thinking, ok well great, if overeating is so terrible, how do I not feel terrible if I overeat? You know how? By understanding that it wants that too - that it probably put that idea in your head in the first place.
Overeating wants you to get upset over that one wayward bite. It wants you to think you’ve totally blown it even when you haven’t. And it loves it when you beat yourself up for any reason because it can use that to get what it wants.
And so you can see how this simple mindset shift can really encourage us to see the consequences of our negative thoughts and motivate us to change them. Once you realize how overeating uses your negative self judgement against you, you have so much more reason to stop it.
And perhaps my favorite part about this concept is the STRENGTH behind it. Let’s finally admit that overeating is powerful so we can stop feeling like we failed because we are weak.
Yes, overeating is powerful. It’s a worthy opponent. I won’t go so far as in 12-steps to say that we are powerless over it, but it has won of a lot of battles. It is a force to be reckoned with. And when I say that I’m happy because finally we get some credit for battling with it all these years. We haven’t been losing because we're weak, we’ve been losing because it’s strong, AND because we’ve been unaware of it and we’ve greatly underestimated it.
But once you recognize its power you know what you’re up against. And like a warrior, you respect it, you study it and you watch out for it every single day. And that is how you win the war.
And I know you can do it because I do it every day and it’s working. It’s working so well that I’m here telling you about it. I’m on the offensive now and I’m coming for it. It’s not enough that I’ve gotten overeating out of my own life, I want to get it out of yours too.
If you’re intrigued by this, check out the free meditation on my website, aptly called, Overeating is the Enemy. Give this a shot and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.
Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next week.