Has Covid got you by the cravings? If so, you’re not alone.

With Covid-19 forcing the world to come to a near stand-still, I know you’ve probably been having a really hard time dealing with more challenges than ever. Whether you’re trying to navigate a new way of working from home, or dealing with too much poor quality family time or grieving lost loved ones, I’m here for you.

We’re all going through tough times

I’ll be the first person to say I don’t have all the answers. Even though I specialize in coaching women and teaching them how to manage their emotions so they can be more confident and lose weight without dieting, I’m in the same boat as everyone else. Food has been calling to me too, now more than ever. It’s difficult to concentrate sometimes and it feels like I’m wading through molasses with my thoughts. And the old habit of eating when I’m not hungry gets pretty tempting. But I’ve learned to recognize those hungry moments as the messages they are. When I get hungry and I’m not really physically hungry, it’s my body’s way of saying that whatever stress I’m facing in the moment is more than I can handle. And now I know that I can take action to change the way I feel instead of just repeating old habits of stuffing my emotions with something to eat.

Think of getting healthy as being a marathon, not a sprint. You’re worth it.

I have a tendency toward anxiety and depression, so I pretty much stay away from watching the news. I listen to music. I love to work and write and I often get my inspiration from watching YouTube videos. Lately I’ve been binge watching the YouTube series, Tea with Gary Vee where Gary Vaynerchuk goes deep dive and answers entrepreneurs most pressing questions. It keeps me thinking bigger and moves my thoughts beyond my fears and worst case scenarios creating a brighter future.

No doubt about it, I love my family and they are my big why. Everything that I do is to create a better life for all of us. But as much as I love my family and adore spending time with my husband and son, when we all get together especially around meal times they get on my last nerve.

Lately I notice myself getting more edgy and anxious about pretty much everything and I don’t want to let those scattered emotions spill onto my precious family, so I often retreat to the peaceful environment of my office to preserve my sanity.

But  sometimes you just can’t avoid conflict, no matter how much you try. Last week I was making dinner, chopping onions, feeling all hot and sticky. Suddenly both my husband and son came crowding into the kitchen because they were enjoying the aromas of what I was preparing and wanted to see what I was doing. I blew up.

I told them,

“You know guys, I’ve been thinking about it, and I realize that it’s perfectly okay to recognize that it’s possible to love someone and to accept the fact that they really piss you off. And both of you really piss me off sometimes. Right now this kitchen is hot as hell and I’m uncomfortable standing over a hot stove sauteeing onions. You both rushing in to smell what I’m cooking and see what you can do to help is not helping me. You’re getting in my space. Your energy is too much intensity for me to handle. And I want you to know as much as I love you, you’re both getting under my skin and I want you out of my kitchen right now. Go.”

And they left. It was so easy. I just said what was on my mind and I was calm and firm and nobody died. Years ago I would never have taken such a risk and said something so inflammatory. I would have just yelled, “Get out” or run out of the kitchen, or cried.

But I would not have taken the time to really express what I felt. And because there would have been so much left unsaid– as soon as their backs were turned, I would have stuffed something in my mouth to eat.

Years ago I was driven by always wanting to be loved by everyone, especially my family. Growing up in an abusive home, I never felt comfortable saying what was on my mind. So I have become a bit of an expert on being a codependent and doing everything in my power not to rock the boat. And in the past when my family would do things that would upset me, I would just try to let it go and ignore it. I would have been much too worried that if I spoke up and said what I felt, they wouldn’t love me anymore. Insane, I know. But I’ve come very far along the spectrum of moving out of codependency and taking care of me and not worrying so much anymore about what other people think. That’s why I want to share what I’ve learned with you about bingeing.

I know how essential it is for me to maintain my mental and emotional equilibrium because when I do give into my fears, I go through a thousand scenarios that twist me up in knots. So I learned that taking care of myself often means saying, “No” and walking away to do something that makes me feel better.

If like me your goal is to get healthier and lose weight, you’ve got to develop a mindset embracing patience. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And it will serve your best interests to look at your binges as messages letting you know that something is bugging you. So let’s talk about gaining weight and watching the scale going up and what that does to you. Because there is so much shame around being fat in a thin-obsessed society, it’s a natural tendency to feel like something is wrong with your bigger body. There’s nothing wrong with your body. Bodies come in all different sizes.

And if you’ve been feeling ashamed of your body you need to start doing more things that can reinforce a positive self-image. You don’t have to rely on losing weight to gain confidence. Your brain and your body are positively brilliant and given a goal and a focus, they can create anything you want.

You can create your own confidence at any size.

The problem is that most of us who have bigger bodies learned to associate that as being unlovable and unattractive. We’ve been sold the solution that weight loss will fix all our problems, but to someone who doesn’t feel good about themselves, and doesn’t feel like they fit in, their weight has become their protection.

Most of us are disappointed and angry with ourselves when we overeat. We make the assumption that our tendency to binge means we have no self control. You’ve probably learned from years of dieting or weight watching that whenever you overeat, it’s cause for feeling ashamed and requires some form of punishing yourself.

Maybe you have an inner critic that thrives on pointing out all of your mistakes and past disappointments, calling you names and making you feel terrible. It can be a nightmare living with so much self-judgment. 

It’s actually the stress in your life that is the trigger that causes you to overeat. Compulsive or emotional eating is triggered by strong and overwhelming emotions that feel unmanageable. I’ve learned it’s a waste of time to shame yourself for overeating because that keeps the spiral of shame going. By keeping the shame and guilt loop running in your head, it is reinforcing a negative self-image, which will keep you believing the lie that you are a victim. You’re not, but as long as you’re having a pity party with you playing the role of victim, your feelings of helplessness and shame will eventually lead you back to food. The truth is –you’re nobody’s victim and you can control your inner critic by changing the way that you talk to yourself.

As it turns out, our poor bodies have become the scapegoats of all the negative emotions we feel. If you’ve had a significant amount of experience trying to lose weight and feeling like a failure, you know what it’s like to feel like crap every time you gain weight. But here’s what you need to know to turn around those feelings of self-pity and shame.

Whether you have a goal to lose weight and change your eating, or not, you can build your body confidence by learning how to become your own best friend. You’ve got to shift your focus from self-hatred to self-love. I know how cheesy it sounds. But seriously–That is the key to sustaining the motivation you will need to change your habits and make you want to be healthier. Your willingness has to come from a place of “I’m worth it.”

You would probably agree with me that it’s really painful and difficult trying to lose weight and follow a diet when all you want to do is eat everything in your path. Feeling deprived and restricted sucks. And having a diet or anyone else tell you what you can and can not do can bring out the worst in anyone. It makes you want to rebel and scream, and eat until you burst.

Losing weight is a process that takes time. It requires patience and persistence. If your goal is to just fit into a cute outfit, or go on a cruise, or lose 20 pounds in time for your High School reunion, it’s likely that soon after the event is over, all the pounds you lost will pack themselves back on.

But if your goal is to change your eating and get healthier because you want to live longer, then you will do whatever is necessary to get to your outcome. It’s all those little habits that we pick up that make it a success. Cutting up vegetables, making time to prepare meals for yourself, wearing clothes that fit you and look great, bouncing back from disappointments, making the decision to be active when you don’t want to be and hundreds of other little steps that go into losing weight.

That means you have to find ways of being able to be okay with yourself at every size between where you are now and where you want to be. That means when you go up and down the scale. All sizes.

Losing Weight is a Fight for Survival

Losing weight is hell. You’re basically waging a war on your body. By setting up a goal to lose weight, and get thinner, you are creating an imbalance in your body.  Up until this time, your body has maintained  set point of weight and kept you within a range of a certain size. Your survival instincts have responded to the stress in your life by triggering your brain to send a message to your body to overeat. Overeating has been your body’s way of attempting to insulate and protect you with a wall of fat.

If you are an emotional eater, stress is your worst enemy and it will trigger you to gain weight. Cortisol is a stress hormone that gets secreted by the body when you are under stress. Cortisol inhibits and slows down weight loss and causes your body to store weight in your stomach and mid-section.

There’s enough stress in our life without having to add to our plates. But when we shame ourselves and think negative thoughts about our body and worry about food, we activate our body’s stress response and our survival instinct is to protect us by holding onto our weight.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier and lose weight, but if you want to override your body and brain’s powerful survival response to keep you overweight, you have to be wise about how you go about changing your habits. Your goal is to shift from reacting to stress to learning how to manage it.

It’s important to realize that you’re going to overeat. That’s just the reality. If you’re an emotional eater, every time your stress level goes through the roof, your survival instinct will make you reach for the candy or whatever other food makes you feel buzzy and relaxed.

Okay you overate. Now what?

If you beat up on yourself for overeating, your survival instinct will kick in again and you’ll find yourself facing the fridge wondering “What can I eat now?”

Right now at this moment when you face your next binge, you have a fresh opportunity to shift the direction of your health. If you want to get a different result, you have to do something different. You’ve probably been feeling deeply ashamed and embarrassed about being overweight. Living in a society that equates beauty with thinness will do that. But you don’t have to internalize society’s message anymore. You can choose to change that message and give your brilliant mind a new focus and direction.

What you need to get out of the self-abusive loop of negative thinking that caused you to overeat in the first place is some good old fashioned tender loving care, known as TLC. Here are my tips for being gentle with yourself and physically treating yourself kindly during the very vulnerable time that follows a binge.

How to baby yourself physically on those ‘fat’ days

On those days when you overeat and you feel fat, you’re having what I like to call a ‘fat day.’ A fat day is when you feel fat everywhere, even in your bones. On these days, the best thing to do at a time like this is to be as loving and gentle with yourself as you can. Recognize that nowhere on any list of feelings does the word, “fat” appear.

Fat is not an emotion. It has nothing to do with the fat on your body and it has more to do with what’s going on in your life way beyond your relationship to food. Be curious and willing to look at whatever is going on now in your life and see if you can find how that might be making you feel angry, sad, rejected, disappointed, depressed, frustrated, confused or any other emotion that might perhaps put your body on overload.

By identifying the real culprit and source of your bloated emotions, it will reduce the stress level that you feel. Dr. Nancy Bonus, the creator of the Beyond Dieting Program says, “learn to love yourself now as you are. Realize that permanent change requires a climate of love and nurturing, not self loathing and disgust.”

Avoid the scale – First step away from the scale, don’t even go there. Once you step on that scale and see a weight gain, you know that you will start beating up on yourself. It gives your inner critic far too much power and it’s only going to make you feel terrible. Stop using the scale as a measure of your value; value yourself for who you are. There are other ways to measure success. 

Get clean – Seems silly but I’ll say it anyway, take a shower or bathe. On these days, you don’t want to add insult to injury by getting more upset because you’re smelling yourself, and not in a good way.

Fragile: Handle with Care – As you step out of the water and dry yourself, be extra tender and if you don’t already do so, pat yourself dry gently, as you would dry a baby. Next you might like to find a wonderful scented lotion or oil and rub that all over.

What to wear – As you choose what to wear, keep in mind, comfort is key. Wear undergarments and clothes that give you plenty of ease and feel good. If you have something to wear that’s especially soft or furry, or any other textured garment that has a delightful ‘hand’ feel which reminds you of being comfortable and warm, then choose that as long as it fits and does not bind.

Make up? Decide how make up feels to you. Does it feel like it would cheer you up or is it a big pain? Personally for me, on those days, I would never wear make up, because I just want to be plain and simple, Andrea. You decide what’s best for you.

What to eat – You may probably be really uncomfortable from overeating at your last meal and perhaps you don’t want to eat anything or maybe you have a craving for something that reminds you of comfort. Do your best to pay attention and listen to what your body wants. Do what feels right, allowing your emotions to guide you. Remember it’s all part of the learning process and every step that you consider to be a mistake is all part of the plan. It’s all good.

Ditch the Drama Nowadays we are living in the sandwich generation. It’s not uncommon to take care of an aging parent, a spouse and children, and maybe even college kids returning back to the nest, all at the same time. Add to that, making a living, and you’ve got a lot to handle. With so much responsibility for others, it’s easy to drop off of our own list of priorities.

My advice is to cut down drastically on the amount of drama that you allow into your life. Look for the situations where you feel helpless and underappreciated and start to set limits or refuse to accept those responsibilities. Many times we make promises that are unrealistic in an effort to help others.

You are an important person and your time must be valued.
But nobody will value your sacrifice until you recognize your own value first.

When you stop trying to fix everyone’s life, you will have more time to take better care of yourself. Time is your most precious commodity and nobody can ever give it back to you. What’s gone is gone. So I urge you to think about time in your day that you can reclaim which has been diminishing the quality of your life.

Question Your Binges – The next time you overeat ask yourself the following questions:

    • What’s happening?
    • How am I feeling?
  • How have I overcommitted myself?

By asking the above questions, you will be able to guide yourself to change your perspective. You’ll switch from blaming mode to being more compassionate. These questions will put you right back into the present moment so that you can see what is going on in your life that is causing you to reach for food when you’re not hungry.

Retrain Your Brain – The things you say to yourself in your own head have a big effect on what you think about your body. Replace your old self critical tapes with loving and kind words. Be lovingly curious, not critical. Imagine talking to yourself softly and sweetly as someone who loves, respects and adores you. If nobody immediately comes to mind, make up an image of the ultimate nurturer and use that as your new model for changing your self talk.

Still feeling fat and frustrated, obsessed about picking yourself apart for overeating? Don’t beat up on yourself. Click the FB icon to join my Facebook group, “30 Days to Lovin’ the Skin You’re In” and get a fresh perspective. Because seriously your body is not the problem, but hating yourself is. Let me teach you how you can re-parent yourself by using self-compassion and stress-relief to boost your confidence, feel better and get healthier from the inside-out.