Changing Overeating Habits With Your Future Self | TMOHP Episode 039

The future is usually top of mind for people who are trying to change the way they eat. “When I stop overeating/lose the weight/give up sugar…I will ….” can be such an exciting thought. Unfortunately, this focus on the future can often be unrealistic and can lead to putting a lot of perfectionistic pressure on yourself.

It’s easy to blame a lot of things on your eating or your weight and fantasize that when you fix this “one thing” a lot of other things will never challenge you again.

This doesn’t mean that focusing on the future is wrong or bad or unhelpful. In fact, there are ways that having a future-focused perspective can be incredibly empowering. Today I want to talk with you about how I use my future self to make decisions, challenge thoughts that might sabotage me, and even administer helpful doses of tough love.

Some of what you’ll hear in this episode:

  • How you can use your future self to shift your relationship with food (and what isn’t helpful)
  • The power of thoughts
  • How experimenting with your future self can help with night eating
  • The future self and cravings
  • Self-compassion and tough love
  • How your future self can help with perfectionism and overeating

Take a listen and let me know what you think. Hop on over to Facebook or Instagram and share with me how you’re going to play with this idea of Future Self.

Featured on the show:

Episode Transcript

Hello everybody today. I want to have a conversation with you about the future and specifically about your future self. Now I know when you are in a place where you're wanting to change your eating or you're wanting to change your weight, the future is something that is often pretty high on the list of things that you think about.

There's a tendency to be, you know, "When I do this thing when I get to this weight, when I fit into those pants again..." And there's also a tendency which I've talked about in other podcast episodes, there's a tendency to get really perfectionistic about the whole thing, "when I lose the weight, when I stopped bingeing at night, my whole life will be transformed. I will be different. I won't struggle anymore. Not only will I not stress eat, I won't be stressed anymore. Right. I won't get bored. So there won't be a boredom eating. I won't be phased by my boss anymore, so I won't come out of those zoom calls feeling like I just need to go to the kitchen and eat everything in sight."

There's a tendency for us to do that with our thoughts, which on the one hand can feel very exciting, right? I just need to solve this problem and everything will change for me. Everything will get better. On the other hand, that kind of thinking tends to put a lot of pressure on us because, we both know the truth is that you can give up stress eating.

You can give up board a meeting, you can lose your cravings, you can lose your urges to binge at the end of the day, but that doesn't mean your boss changes or your job changes, or you never fight with your partner again, or, or, or, or right. It's just really attractive to think that way. And it's very easy for our brain to get in those loops that think that everything will be solved once we solve this one problem.

Which is why one of the reasons that it's so easy to get stuck in diet mentality, it's so easy to get seduced by these, you know, lose, lose 10 pounds in 14 days kind of plans. Because it feels like, okay, if I could just lose this weight, everything would be fixed. But as I said, I've also talked about on this podcast.

I can't tell you how many women I've talked to, who got seduced by one of these plans. And then when we talked about, okay, so what do you do on day 15? How do you eat on that day? Who knows? There's no forever plan. So thinking about the future has its downsides, but thinking about the future and your future self can be such an incredible tool to help you make the decisions that you want to make and ease into the changes that you want to make and create new habits with your relationship with food.

So I'm going to tell you more about what, I mean, our thoughts have such a profound effect on our behavior. I don't think I can emphasize this enough, our thoughts influence or create the feelings that we have, and that leads to the kind of behaviors and actions that we choose. So if I think I can't do something, if I think this is going to make me miserable, if I think I am always going to struggle with overeating, if I think I can't run one more step, it's going to be really challenging to do that thing. You know, there's that story, the little engine that could right. Where I think I can. I think I can, I think I can going up the hill. But, your thoughts affect your feelings, affect your motivation, affect the energy that you put into something affect the actions that you eventually take.

And this is so true in our relationship with food. If I am thinking, oh, I deserve this. Or, it has been such a stressful day and all I really want is to go get my ice cream and cozy up in my chair and watch some Netflix, or if I think, you know what, it's not going to matter if I eat that brownie, because I already screwed everything up at lunch.

If I have those thoughts, they are going to have a profound effect on my motivation and the actions that I choose with food. Likewise, if I am telling myself every day that, yeah, I have this goal, I want to reach, but you know what to reach that goal, I'm going to have to be miserable. Or if I want to reach that goal on the scale, if I want to weigh 125 pounds, I'm going to have to give up sugar forever.

It's going to be so hard. That thought is going to affect my mood and my feelings and my motivation, and ultimately the choices that I make along the way. I'm probably going to choose things. I'm going to choose plans that fit with that thought. I'm not going to be surprised when I pick a plan that makes me miserable or leaves me feeling deprived or not getting what I need, or if I think that in order to lose the weight I am going to have to be starving.

I won't surprise myself by choosing plans that feed and nourish me really. Make sense? The thoughts that we think, and also the stance that we take with them, because we get really invested in thoughts. Right. We get really invested in, well, it's true. I do feel this way. I do feel like I haven't had a reward all day.

I do feel like the ice cream makes me feel bad. I do feel deprived if I don't order this and I order this instead, I do feel that way. Right. And our thoughts are so influenced by the breadth of perspective that we have in that moment. So it can be absolutely true that I am going to feel bad. If I eat that thing.

And by the way, I'm not invested in you not eating things. Right. What I'm talking about are things that you are choosing to eat, that you wish you weren't eating, that leave you feeling crappy, or that leave you feeling like you're not in alignment with the things that you want to do. That's all, it's okay to eat things.

And sometimes we get into these places where you know, what I'll hear from people is I'm stuck in this cycle where every night I am eating and, and I want it and I don't care enough to stop. And it feels important. And it's the only treat that I had all day. And then in the morning I feel like crap, or then 45 minutes later, I have indigestion and I'm just 

furious with myself. And I don't understand how I did it again. One of the places that reinforces that cycle and that can keep you spinning around in it is the perspective that you're taking with your thoughts. It can be absolutely true in that moment that if I dive into that macaroni and cheese in the refrigerator, I will feel better.

If your perspective is a 30 minute window. And this is where your future self comes in, because one of the most powerful questions that we can add to the mix of things that we're thinking about and asking about is a question about your future. Because you are yourself now and you are the self that you are going to be in an hour, and you're the self that is going to wake up tomorrow morning.

And so when we're only focusing on that self in the moment, or that self 30 minutes from now in terms of how we want to feel, sometimes that can be helpful for, for just homing in, on what is it that I need right now. And sometimes, homing in on, what do I need right now keeps us separated from our bigger vision for ourselves and for our bigger goals.

So there's so many ways to play with this idea of future self. And one of the easiest ones to start to experiment with is to begin to ask yourself, how do I want to feel, how does my, how does my future self want to feel? I don't want to feel tomorrow. How do I want to feel into hours? How do I want to feel when I climb into bed tonight, you can play with your future self when you wake up in the morning and think about how do I want to feel at the end of the day today?

Okay. So what are some things I can put into place now that will help me with that? When you get home from work or you walk out of your home office from work and you're exhausted and you're tired and you're drained, and you're looking at needing to step into that second phase of your life. Taking a moment to say, okay, so how do I want to feel at 8:30?

This can sometimes give you another foothold or an anchor that you can use to start to make decisions. If I am facing the end of the day and feeling like it has just been a crap day and I just really want a treat and I'm looking at my refrigerator and I'm thinking about that bowl of ice cream. And again, there's nothing wrong with eating the bowl of ice cream, but if that isn't in line with the intentions that I have for myself, and I'm really in the big picture, not wanting to eat that ice cream, then it can be really helpful to say, okay, two things.

What am I feeling right now? And reminding myself that my picture is bigger than right now. Okay, Melissa, you're overwhelmed. You're tired. You want to treat, maybe you feel neglected, whatever it is that you're feeling. Right. And. How can I take care of the me that is going to go to bed in an hour and a half?

How can I take care of the me that is going to wake up in the morning? What does she want? What will feel really great for her? What does my future self want and need? And how can I show up for her as well as the person that's standing right here in front of the refrigerator? This idea of taking a stand for your future self

can be so empowering. In Your Missing Peace, I talk a lot about becoming the CEO of your wellbeing, taking charge, sitting in the driver's seat, right. Being, being the one who's making the decisions instead of reacting, or instead of feeling oppressed by a ton of rules and shoulds that have been thrown at you, making choices that work for you.

And one of the ways to make that pivot, one of the ways to feel in charge and empowered and confident about your life is to practice being in the moment and being clear on what's going on now, but not reducing everything in your life to just what's going on now, because in a way that can be reactive, too. Behavior to being in the moment can be presence.

And it can feel really, really good. But if we are in the moment and we are neglecting the fact that there is a bigger picture and honoring the fact that we need more and we feel more than about just this moment, there are other things that are important to us when we can learn to hold all of that and honor the priorities that are ours, not somebody else's, but ours that's when you really take your power back.

So one of the things that I would really encourage you to do this week is think about how and where it would be effective for you to take more of a stand for your future self. How can you be proactive on her behalf? How can you include her in the picture of your decision-making? Right? Because thinking about how do I want to feel tomorrow morning

can change the actions that you take today, not just with food, but maybe by going to bed early and taking care of your hidden hunger for rest, or maybe by giving yourself an extra few minutes to prepare the things that are important to you instead of giving away all your time, taking care of everybody else, what does my future self need?

How will she feel? There's another place where taking a stand for your future self can be incredibly empowering. And that is what I call tough love on behalf of your future self. Sometimes people get really confused about the idea of self compassion and also self care. Well, you know, my self care is giving myself that treat at the end of the day, or my self care was ordering that appetizer because it felt really important to me.

Sometimes, sometimes food can be self-care sometimes feeding yourself a lovely thing can be self-compassion and sometimes self care and self-compassion don't necessarily feel good in the moment. Sometimes self-care and self-compassion are again, what I call tough love on behalf of your future self. So for me, I think about some of the things that are really excellent for me, that really helped me to feel my best.

One of those is getting outside every day and getting in some movement, a walk or a run. And sometimes I don't want to do that. Sometimes self-compassion or self care is thinking about my future self and how she's going to feel at the end of the day or at the end of the morning. If I don't get my butt out the door, sometimes self care is tough love. Sometimes self care is looking at the handful of something I mindlessly just grabbed that I was going to eat and saying, Melissa, you don't really want that. Again, sometimes I do want that and it's okay to eat it, but holding onto my future self holding onto not just what's going on in the moment, but how am I going to feel when I go to bed at night or how's this going to feel in my stomach?

Or how am I going to feel when I think about my goal that I had, sometimes that can be one of my most powerful tool. I don't want to is not just an in the moment reaction. We really empower ourselves when we start thinking about our yeses and our no's and the decisions that we make on our own behalf with a broader perspective, how does this really fit me?

How does it fit me right now? How will it fit me an hour from now? How will it fit me a week from now? And sometimes having that vision of my future self can help me to make choices in the moment that don't necessarily feel comfortable or good or immediately rewarding. Or sometimes they feel really uncomfortable, right?

Like sitting with an anxious feeling instead of numbing out. But sometimes it can help me do that in service of a bigger, broader, more holistic picture of me, not just me, myself now, but all of the future, me and all of the things that are important to me. There's one other place that I want to talk about this future self idea and how it can be useful to you because your future self can be incredibly useful in helping you get perspective from in reaction to that all or nothing thinking or perfectionism, right?

That it's all ruined. I have to start over or I blew it or I'll never get this, or this is always going to be a struggle for me. When you ask yourself, how am I going to feel about this moment six months from now? Am I even going to remember that I ate that thing, whatever it was six months from now, or when you ask yourself?

Okay. So I did that and there is now this space between now and tomorrow morning. How does my future self want to have dealt with this space? In this moment. And let's imagine this moment is at the end of a bad day or after some, you know, series of choices that you made, that you're not happy about. If you were to ask yourself in this moment, all right, I am standing right here and there are X amount of hours in between right here and whatever it is, whenever it is that you're thinking about your future self. How would my future self like to look back on how I handled these few hours? That can be such a, not just it, an empowering question, but a question that really helps you reframe where you are in the whole scheme of things. So that's what I wanted to share with you today.

I love this idea of the future self. And like I said, there are so many ways to play with this, but one of the things that I think is incredibly powerful about it is the ways that you can use this to expand your thinking, to get beyond those limiting beliefs and thoughts, especially the ones that in that moment you want to argue with yourself because they just feel so true.

Widening the lens, looking at your future self can be such a game changer. So I hope this is helpful to you, and I would love it. If you will take this idea and start to play with how you can connect with your future self and how she can be helpful to you, especially in those tough moments. I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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