Let’s talk about one of the most common setups for overeating, at least for busy women – transitions.
Do you overeat when you’re in a transition?
My client Jane (I’ve changed all the names here) had been trying to lose thirty-five pounds for as long as she could remember. Her downfall was emotional eating and overeating at night. She could make it through a day of healthy eating, but once she walked through the front door, good intentions and her weight loss plan fell apart.
Claudia travels a lot for her business. She was stuck in a pattern of getting on track with exercise, eating, and me-time and seeing it crumble into inactivity and stress eating when she hit the road. Tricia is incredibly busy running her successful business. She was determined to carve out time for herself—both to ease her stress and to have more fun. But, no matter how firm her resolve, she’d come home from work, hit a wall of exhaustion, and not feel able to motivate herself to do the stuff she knew would make her feel better.
When I started working with each of these women, they felt trapped, frustrated with themselves, and completely ineffective with their plans for change. The thing is, their very different situations were being caused by the same problem—and it’s one I see creating a lot of stress, emotional eating, irritability, and negativity for many busy women.
Are you ignoring the transitions in your life in your quest to just do the next thing?
When you’re busy, life can seem like one endless to-do list, and in the race to be productive, it can feel like you’re always racing off to do the next thing. Stress and overwhelm make it worse, and the desire to be productive and deal with overload can lead to doing and doing and more doing.
When this happens, we tend to ignore the transitions in our life.
Well, we don’t necessarily ignore them, we just plow through them and never stop running.
And then, we overeat.
Busy people tend to underestimate the power and the effect of transitions. By transitions, I’m talking about the shift between activities, relationships, locations, and lifestyle paces that happen for all of us.
A few examples of transitions are:
- Coming home from work
- Going on or returning from vacation
- Business travel (leaving and returning to both home and office)
- Shifting from the workweek to the weekend
- Finishing a project or a meeting and moving on to the next task
Transitions are challenging. Even the best transition can be a source of stress. Ever gone on vacation and realized your body and mind took a few days to figure out how to be on vacation? That’s you in transition.
Transitions work best if we acknowledge them and pay attention to what we need to navigate them successfully.
Missing transitions, rushed transitions, or even overlapping activities (denied transitions) are a recipe for mindless eating, emotional eating, stress eating, and comfort eating.
We ignore transitions when we expect ourselves to shift seamlessly from one activity or part of our life to another without breaking our stride. This happens a lot for busy working moms who may race out of the office and find themselves putting dinner on the table before they’ve even taken a deep breath or changed their clothes. Ever arrive home from work and slide in the door feeling “off” because you’re still digesting your crazy day? That’s you not quite transitioned.
It’s no surprise that evening is often described as the most stressful part of the day (and the time when most people overeat). A big reason is the multiple transitions that are happening in a busy household: work to home, school to home, professional to head chef and bottle washer, CEO to loving partner, etc.
A simple solution to the overeating and transitions problem
Honoring transitions doesn’t require a lot of time, but doing so can have a big impact.
Start by identifying your most impactful transitions. Start paying attention to the places in your life where you have to shift gears, and the problems you encounter when you do. Once you know your transitions and their challenges, you can be more proactive.
One of the simplest things you can do is what a client called “inserting a comma.”
Ignoring transitions leads to overeating. Consider inserting a pause instead.
There’s no need to come to a screeching halt, just insert a comma into your day.
Give yourself a five minute break. Catch your breath. Ask yourself what you need to be at your best in the next segment (post-transition) of your life. Make a list if you need to.
Pay attention to whether there is residue from the thing you just left that needs to be put away or shaken off.
Do something tangible to signify that you are shifting gears. Wash your face, change your clothes, put on some music, or unpack and put away your suitcase.
Take good care,