Christmas Time and Your Relationship with Food.
What's your relationship with food like around Christmas?
Until 2 years ago, mine was pretty atrocious.
This will be my second Christmas where food doesn't have a hold on me and I am in control of my eating, I am in control of my emotions and I am in control of the way that I act and feel. I'm so proud of how far I've come in the last 24 months, how much I have grown, personally and in my business.
I contribute much of this to being part of a wonderful community of women called the Fabulous women, who accept each other just as we are with no judgement and unconditional love. It's been a part of the huge healing process and journey I've been on.
This group is so powerful in that even now there can still be times when you are faced up to something; a question, situation, a statement, or something like, which every now and again, you know resonates with something so deeply buried, it becomes time that it started to come up to the surface to be understood, forgiven or released and let go of.
Last weekend was one of those moments for me. It was our last Fabulous Women day of the year and our mentor, Hilary, intuitively knew that in this session we all needed to revisit our younger versions of ourselves and celebrate Christmas as we would've done, or would've wanted to have done, as children.
You see, some of us have had really difficult childhoods, traumatic ones, turbulent ones, some others have had amazing childhoods; I consider myself to be the latter. It had its moments but above all I was able to play, have fun and enjoy my childhood.
But it's really interesting to witness and observe just how our minds will always go to the strongest feelings and emotions around memories and how sometimes those strongest feelings and emotions can be negative rather than positive.
This is what happened to me when Hilary mentioned going back to childhood parties; there was talk of dressing up, playing games, being silly, bringing our favourite memorable party dishes, tucking into jelly and ice cream, having a lunch full of chocolate and sweets, just in general having an amazing time.
Sounds like fun, hey!
Why was that NOT fun for me?
What I'd like to do now is walk you through my THOUGHT-FEELING-ACTION-RESULTS process as I started to look at this potential situation, so that you might be able to offer your own Self some insight into how you think and feel in relation to your relationship with weight and food and eating, not just around Christmas time.
I had such a strong gut feeling of dread when Hilary suggested this and and my first port of call was to completely ignore it and try to push it to one side, thinking it might go away of it's own accord. That would have meant Hilary either cancelling the day or changing her mind about running a childhood party-neither of which were going to happen!!
Over 24 hours, I continued to push it to the back of my mind, hoping it might go away and this feeling of dread would disappear.
When after 24 hours, it hadn't gone away when I thought about it, I figured I might have to work out why I was feeling this dread around being in a childhood party situation.
So I gave it some thought. And here's why came up with:
- And I'm naturally quite introverted, so being in a party situation feels very out of the comfort zone for me as an adult; very uncomfortable (EXCUSE!!)
- When I was younger I remember having a birthday party and a few friends round for a party tea, and my big sister picked on me until I cried. (Cue Lesley Gore’s ‘It’s my Party’!!)
So that was it. I thought I may have released some of that dread and I took action by deciding I wasn't going to be dressing up, then continued to try and muster up some excitement about the day coming up!
I was sooooo tempted to tell Hilary I couldn’t make the day, which is so unlike me, the negativity was even turning my thoughts to reaching for foods I haven’t eaten for years, so I could tell self-sabotage was trying to happen.
I procrastinated on getting the memorable dishes organised, the only thing I could think of or remember from being a child, were Party Rings-you know those shortbread biscuits with icing on top? And so in my negative haze, I went last minute to the supermarket to find some of those Party Rings and make some kind of effort towards the day.
Whilst wandering down the biscuits and cakes aisle (it must be 12 months since I've really been down that aisle paying any kind of attention) trying to find the Party Rings, I stumbled upon a blast from the past; Snowballs-a coconut coated chocolate case with marshmallow in the middle. A throwback from when dad used to treat us when we were children. In that moment, everything started to unravel; the reason for my dread at the thought of a child-like Christmas party, the reason why I was procrastinating and the excuses I was making not to get involved.
That even now, two years into recovering from my food addictions, there are odd situations that still flash up and throw you back into the turmoil that you felt as a child or young person, even when you don't expect it, even when you think you're doing great!
I was suddenly flashed back into every food I used to binge on, secretly eat, or completely deprive myself of in my famine phases.
Cadburys dairy milk: Dad would treat us when we’d been good and I associated that with feeling loved, cared for and wanted-feeling special. We also played a Christmas party game at primary school, where we had throw two sixes on a dice and when we did that, we had to dress up in hats, coats, gloves and scarves and then grab a knife and fork and work our way through a Cadburys dairy milk as quickly as we could, before somebody else threw two sixes. A wonderful, exciting happy feeling, right?
Party rings: The ultimate party treat, they only came out at birthdays, at times when things are being celebrated and feelings are happy.
Animal biscuits: These biscuits coated in chocolate, were at playgroup whenever there was a birthday, these animal biscuits were a traditional part of the party food.
My mind was struggling with the conflict of such good, fun, happy memories associated with the foods that later became my nemesis! I was being transported back to painful connections with food that I haven't come across before, just by simply being prompted to think about a blimmin' childhood party-aren't our minds amazing?!
My obstacles and self-doubt and feeling unlovable played out around food, but for you it may be depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, exczema, psoriasis, fatigue, IBS or another addiction.
Does that mean it's over?
Does that mean I'm still broken?
Does that mean I will throw my healthy eating away?
Does that mean I will fall back into old habits and patterns?
My mind and my gut instinct had raised the alarm bells for me, to know that something wasn't right and instead of just ignoring it and continuing to bury it, I addressed it (albeit 24-hours after it started!!)
Although I couldn't actually immediately pinpoint the root cause of those feelings, the Universe was giving me signs-indicators-guidance, so when I stood in that shop and had that lightbulb moment, I was suddenly presented with a choice; the choice to continue with these negative feelings and thoughts and potentially actions; or the choice to allow myself to understand that these things are in the past and there is absolutely no reason on this Earth that I couldn't celebrate a childhood themed party as an adult and feel joy, happiness, child-like excitement AS WELL AS freedom, liberation and empowerment.
What felt like self-sabotage with food kicking in was the meaning in my mind shining out like a beacon, but I didn’t even realise until after that lightbulb moment!
The EUREKA moment!
You see, understanding is awareness and understanding is freeing, it’s power. In that moment, I didn't see failure, I didn't feel like a failure-I felt successful, successful in that I had learned something new about myself.
And in that shop, I bought those items. I bought them to share that powerful realisation I had had, with the rest of the Fabulous Women.
I bought them to share that these foods could be in the room, I can play that game with chocolate if we needed to and it didn't mean I was falling off the wagon, it didn't mean I was sliding down a slippery slope back into binge eating. Quite the opposite!! It meant I could and would have a bit of them if I wanted, but I would most likely choose not to eat them as they make me feel pretty sickly anyway these days.
The shift that I felt in those few moments in the shop, was enormous. I knew that to allow that shift to integrate into my body, to allow myself to heal, I needed to be able to share that with someone; someone who accepts me, will never judge me, someone who could just hold that space for me while I share my thoughts and feeling process around that seemingly innocent situation. In doing that with that wonderful group of ladies, I was able to integrate the change fully into my body, into my mind, which in turn, will allow me to change on a deep cellular level those beliefs and emotions and conflicts I had around those foods and those memories.
And there's no blame involved; no one was responsible for those beliefs, those feelings or those experiences, it was MY responsibility.
Once upon a time I interpreted those experiences in black-and-white, all or nothing. Now I can see all the colours in between, all the reasons for those experiences, all the kindness and love that came behind those memories-it was just that my interpretation was different to that.
Now I can change it. I already have!!
And by sharing it with you lovely ladies too, it's releasing it even more; it's no big secret, no sordid thing I should be hiding from, and maybe, just maybe, it might just help one or two of you to be able to change your thinking around your long-term weight loss journey, maybe certain trigger foods, or painful emotions and memories.
Does it make me any less of a weight loss coach to all of you? No…it makes me human. In fact it deepens my ability to help all of you too.
I'm not the only one!
Sooooo many of you ladies in this group are noticing that these kind of lightbulb moments, these realisations are happening more and more frequently and that is no coincidence ladies! And they are not just around weight either.
This is happening more and more frequently because YOU are becoming more aware of your own powerful mind. You're becoming more aware of how your thoughts become your feelings, those feelings become your actions and those actions become your results.
And as you're starting to understand yourself even more, understanding how you tick, you're going to see these things come up in different situations. It doesn't mean you're a failure, it doesn't mean you're slipping backwards-actually when the mind expands with these new experiences, you’re in fact leaping forwards!
So be curious, be inquisitive, shine a light up to those challenges and trust your gut ladies-it's like your second brain, it's telling you something when you feel it.
When you feel like something like this is coming up for you, give yourself some time and some space to explore it, to look at why it may be-your mind may not give you the meaning, the answers or the understanding straight away. But there WILL be signs, there WILL be stepping stones, there WILL be indicators that you just need to be open-minded enough to see and hear and they WILL lead you to the solutions, the understanding and the wisdom that will allow you to let go of anything that holds you back with your relationship with food, your memories around food and positive associations OR negative associations with food and ultimately your weight, your shape, your size and your confidence, your self-belief.
'There are no good experiences, no bad experiences, only learning experiences.'
What's happened since last weekend?
Well I have leapt forwards personally-it feels like a zip has been opened and now so much love and self-belief and creativity is pouring out.
I've learned this week that I am powerful beyond belief.
That I have so many gifts to share with you all, not just with weight loss, but with health coaching in general-anxiety, depression, skin issues, grief, trauma for example.
In witnessing learning curves and experiences like this in myself, I am developing incredible insight and 'tools' to be able to help others with their own personal obstacles, regardless of whether they are weight related or not.
And I'm not limited to hypnotherapy and nutritional coaching-I'm an incredible healer, in massage and energy healing, fitness, meditation, movement and personality types.
I am learning to trust that I have a razor sharp intuition that guides me to guide you, that I've always overlooked before.
In witnessing these breakthroughs in myself, I am able to hold a space for you to do the same, supported and accepted, without judgement, so you too can breakthrough your health (physical and emotional) challenges to be happier and healthier in every way.
I've realised this week that everything I needed in someone to mentor me years ago, I have become, so I can pay those gifts forwards to all of you so you can become everything you dream of being too-not just with your weight or your size, but the WHOLE of you.
While I believed you may all have your self-doubt and painful memories and programming also playing out with food, I've learned that it’s not just with food or your weight, but anxiety, depression, illness, fatigue, anger issues and only you know what else, ladies.
All of these can still be transformed into your greatest strengths and learning curves, just because they may or may not be directly related to your weight, they are still your challenges, your obstacles in this moment.
The REAL gift:
I thought my gift to you all was the weight loss journey I've been on and how I overcame my own food addictions to lose weight and naturally be more confident, but it's not just that is it?
It's the personal growth journey I've been on too-the lessons I've learned, the people I've met, the courses I've trained in, the mistakes I've made, the strength I've gained, the courage to stand up for what I believe-it's soooooo much more than just weight!!
And I intend to tune into that vibration to help you and coach you to break through all these ’un-weight related’ challenges too from now on.
All week, this one phrase has been screaming at me…and I’m finally hearing it loud and clear…