I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. The concept has been swimming around my mind as I’ve fought craving after craving. And let’s be honest. I’ve even thought about it when I’ve given into cravings. Yes I’m talking about weight loss. And food. But this is much more than a before and after photo post about amazing results which leave the reader feeling, “What’s wrong with me, why can’t I get that.” Nope. Weight loss is so much deeper than two photos side-by-side with one being “Good,” and the other, “Bad.”
There is so much you can learn about what to fill up on as far as food. I am a big believer in eating whole-food fats. They really fill your belly and keep you satisfied much longer. But this post is not about food or what to eat and not eat. Google can help you with that. This post is about filling up on everything else in life. In the end, overeating is just a symptom of a void or emptiness.. To lose weight you, your spirit, your life, must be full.
Here’s What I Do
I am at my lowest weight since becoming a mother. That was almost 9 years ago. Why now? Why after my fourth child am I making my greatest progress? I’ve learned how to fill up. I’ve learned what to fill up on. And, I’ve learned what kept me feeling empty before.
You must fill up with love. I know it is corny and cliche, but you really must have a love and respect for yourself to make a significant change. One afternoon, while on a sugar fast, this thought came to my mind, “Would I buy a brand new car, then continually, intentionally place the wrong fuel in that car? Knowing full well that my actions devalued the vehicle and made it putter, stutter, and even crash without warning?”
Of course the answer to that question is no. I would not spend thousands on a new car and intentionally fill it with the wrong fuel. Then the big question, the scary question—Then why was I doing that to myself—to my own God-given body far more precious, far more miraculous than a car? Why was I knowingly filling my body with poor-quality fuel over and over again?
That’s a question you should ask yourself. And if you can’t get an answer, ask again. The biggest reason for me was, and still is, loneliness. I grew up in a house full of people. There was always SOMEONE. Celebrations were frequent. Celebration meant food. So what do I do when I’m alone at night but I’d rather feel happy about it? I would celebrate—with food. There are other reasons for overeating. Cravings, hormonal ups & downs make up another huge reason for me. And at times, stress.
What has helped me continue to lose weight? The most important answer is, this time, not giving up. My progress has been painfully slow. Despite plateaus, and even holiday pounds, I have never once said, “I am done with this.” I’ve been tempted FOR SURE. But that is the easy way out. That is what someone does who doesn’t think they are worth the effort. You must believe that you are worth the discomfort, effort, and intensity of a life change. Keep trying. If that doesn’t work, try something different. If I give into a craving one day, I promise myself I will do better tomorrow. I’ve had more good days than bad days, and those good days add up.
That’s where hope comes in. When you step on the scale and the number is not what you want to see, you must have hope. Bitterness, sadness, feelings of self-loathing are a sure way to knock you off of a weight loss journey. I would literally practice what I would say to myself before stepping on the scale, “You worked really hard, you’ve been eating better, taking better care of yourself, this number is just one piece of the puzzle.” Sometimes it wasn’t what I wanted to see. But I left that scale with hope for the future–hope that I would and could continue to change.
I have always been passionate about food. Always. Still am. I don’t think I’ll ever be cured of my love of a good donut. But that passion became my go-to. Food became my number one resource for treating myself, loving myself, rewarding myself, and just relaxing after a super draining day with the kids. I had to find something new. You need to replace what food can do for your mood with something non-caloric.
A Word of Caution Here:
Be sure this new passion doesn’t become another unhealthy release. For example, you give up food binges, only to replace it with shopping binges. Make sure your passion is something productive, that brings you lasting joy. The truth about food and shopping–those joys are temporary. A bit of a high really. Avoid relying on things with high cost and little return.
I’ve rediscovered art. I actually hand-lettered and doodled that feature image you see above. You can see some of the work I’ve been doing on my Instagram Feed. I’ve always had a fondness for artists and their amazing creative work. I’ve always WANTED to be that good. But I’ve been too afraid to try. Then I jumped in with watercolors and noticed something peculiar as I let the brush glide across the page. I wasn’t snacking. I wasn’t thinking about food. I was so fully engrossed in improving my skill that unneeded calories had no place. It was a lightbulb moment. I felt full.
Discover a passion that you’ve buried away, or try something new. My favorite way to explore new hobbies is by browsing Instagram. Search hashtags of past-times, skills, hobbies that interest you.
This one is tricky. Many people believe that you need a huge support group to really make a big change. You need people checking on your progress, not allowing you to indulge when you’d really like to, etc. Some even enjoy fitness challenges with a group of co-workers and friends. While I don’t doubt that helps, you must do this for you. You MUST BE YOUR BIGGEST SUPPORT.
In the end no one is going to FORCE you to move your body, eat more whole foods, and avoid processed junk. You have freedom to put whatever you like in your body. If your change is motivated by, or dependent on things outside yourself, the change will not last. Notice good choices you’ve made in a day. Take a moment to say, literally, “I did it!” By changing what you say to yourself, about yourself, you fill up with support from the only person who is really able to make a difference–YOU!
This is the most important one. You need to hang onto something higher than yourself to truly make a lifetime change. On those days when you just can’t do it and you feel like giving up, you’ve got to pray. Perhaps for you it is meditation. What ever your spiritual beliefs, make them an integral part of every choice you make in the right direction.
I really could type a novel about this concept of “Fullness.” But I’ll leave it here for you to think about. One more tip: Food Journaling. Write down what you eat, when you eat it, and why, then write how you feel afterward. Maybe do this for just a day. This practice will give you loads of information about your triggers and moments of weakness. You’ll see patterns in how your mood affects your food choices. Don’t judge yourself or put yourself down. Just be aware and observe.
You can do it. It took me a year to lose 32 pounds. Some people can lose that in a matter of weeks and months. But that’s ok. They are not me. Knowing me, the gradual, but constant changes are the ones that truly stick. And the journey is not over. The truth is, AND THE DIET PEOPLE DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS: The Journey is Never Over. Taking care of your body, when you truly care about it, is a constant effort for the rest of your life.
What makes you feel “Full,” in your life?