“I’m sick and tired of being overweight and overeating but I don’t know where to start.”
That’s what a new client said. Her head was so full of diet advice, nutrition tips, weight loss ads, and beliefs about what she “should” be doing, that she was overwhelmed and feeling stuck before she even started.
Should she cut back on carbs? Start working out? Keep a food diary? Rejoin Weight Watchers? She knows she’s a stress eater, so maybe she should start meditating and eating mindfully.
She also really needs to catch up on her sleep, but her desk is a mess and she wants to spend more time with her husband….
Overload is like that and so is emotional overeating. Both can feel like tangled messes with no obvious starting point. When you are stuck in a cycle you don’t know how to stop, taking action can start to feel like it’s going to start an avalanche. Add to that the panic many of us feel when we are exhausted and overloaded that paradoxically causes us to bite off too much, and see our options as “all” or “nothing,” and many stressed-out overeaters see themselves facing a challenge that feels insurmountable.
“If I’m going to go to the gym, I really need to go six days a week and stay for an hour,” said a client who hadn’t felt she could fit in a workout for weeks.
“I need to start keeping track of everything I eat, I need to drink more water, and I need to start eating more vegetables and stop eating after dinner.”
“I’m going to eat healthy, journal, meditate, and work out every day.”
“I’m so stressed. Nothing can change until I get a new job.”
All of these women started to feel overwhelmed before the words were even out of their mouths.
Guess what? The road to lasting change is hardly ever a major life overhaul. Creating peace with food and peace with your life almost always happens in small do-able steps. Contrary to what your stressed-out brain may be telling you, powerful change can be created from simple consistent shifts.
How do you start taking charge of overeating, stress, or that feeling of having too much on your plate?
You start by creating success and effectiveness and allowing that to snowball. The success and feelings of accomplishment are what help you create momentum—and that, in turn, creates more ease and motivation. Pick one small simple step that you can commit to for the next week. If it makes you tired or feels intimidating to say it out loud, cut the size of the step in half.
Now do it. Check it off every day, and celebrate yourself profusely. After four to seven days, choose another step.
Your goal here is to choose a step that increases your progress and momentum one inch—not a mile. When you are getting started from a place of stress and overwhelm, your goal is to get into action, but NOT to add more stress and overwhelm to your life.
The first step should feel almost (but not quite) effortless.
- Eating breakfast in the morning
- Checking in with yourself midafternoon and and asking yourself what you need
- Making a list of five things you can do when you feel stressed (that are not food)
Start small. Create effectiveness, and the momentum and your progress will build. Really.
Take good care,
I’ll be addressing your questions about emotional eating and having too much on your plate in the free call I’m hosting next week. You can go hear to learn more and to register. I hope you’ll join me!