Are You Reacting or Responding?

posted in: All Posts, Mindset | 0

Look, fat loss is hard.

Changing your eating habits and changing your body weight or shape can tap into your fears, shame, negative self-beliefs, and anxiety about whether you are worthy. Letting go of behaviors that don’t serve you can also feel like a profound loss, as many of us have at some point used food to soothe, distract, escape, or self-punish.

If those things weren’t difficult enough, there’s also the fact that the process itself is fraught with challenges. For example, you will have slip-ups. Your progress will stall. You will lose motivation. You will question yourself. You will feel afraid, disappointed, frustrated, or even angry. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s hard.

Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • You didn’t lose weight (or maybe you even gained weight), so you panic and slash your calories drastically–or you try not to eat at all.
  • You eat too much at a single meal, or you make a food choice that you’re not comfortable with, so you say “screw it” and go on an all-out food bender for the weekend.
  • You become so irate and disgusted with yourself for a slip-up that you throw away everything in your cabinets and vow to start over, even stricter this time.
  • Desperate to strong-arm yourself into change, you take on a black-and-white view of food, eschewing everything except a narrow list of “allowed” foods.
  • You put so much stress and pressure on yourself, or you try to adhere to unrealistic protocols, that it’s easier to just give up than it is to stick with it.

If you relate to any of those situations, you may feel like you’ve failed or that something is wrong with you. But I’d like to reassure you that nothing is wrong with you. You’re simply reacting to very real challenges. Believe it or not, the challenge itself probably isn’t what’s derailing you; rather, it might be your reaction to it that’s giving you the most trouble.

To illustrate, there’s a big difference between the following two scenarios:

  1. Choosing healthy foods to honor your body and because they make you feel good, and…
  2. Limiting yourself to only healthy foods because you’re terrified of what might happen if you don’t.

The first is a response, while the second is a reaction. Responses are helpful, as they allow us to learn, adjust, solve problems and move forward. On the other hand, reactions are unhelpful, as they often lead us to overcompensate, swing back and forth between two extremes, or they just plain keep us stuck.

At some point, it may be helpful to explore what you’re reacting to. And it’s usually not about the food. We all have stories that we write for ourselves, emotional triggers, and past struggles. Peeling back those layers is an important part of the change process.

Still, when it gets tough, try not to react immediately or do something extreme. Instead, stop for a moment. Breathe. Reach out to someone for their perspective. Go for a walk, take a bath, or sleep on it. When you act from a place of calm and choice, you’ll be much better equipped to make decisions that will keep you moving forward.

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