We get caught, all of us, in what we call (sorry a little bit of psychobabble here) the energy system, the tornado. In that energy system, it throws us all around, we get very stuck with habits. It takes 30 days to change a habit. If we keep on going for 30 days, we may well keep on going forever.
Lifestyle – we go out for three curries at the weekend, it’s not good to support us towards health. Just go out for one.
Mindset – we are so stuck in that black and white thinking: I’m on a diet, I’m off a diet. I’m either good or I’m bad.
Our beliefs: what we believe about ourselves, what we tell ourselves. I believe that I will always be in a larger body, all my family are in larger bodies, we just have to look at a cake to put on weight. It’s not true.
Triggers – what triggers you? So if you find your Auntie really winds you up. Then you leave her house and then you go to a kebab shop on the way home, eat before you go and see your aunt. We have to think about how we can do things differently.
Emotions – if we hide our emotions, if we don’t find our voices, it will come out in either overeating or under eating or over drinking, following a path that makes us feel not good about ourselves.
Cravings – we need to look at how we manage the cravings which I’ll come to shortly…
A bit more psychobabble… we have this amazing drama triangle, which is called the drama triangle. We all run around it, all of us. We couldn’t have EastEnders, Coronation Street and Holby City without it. I think about Peggy Mitchell, she was forever fixing people, rescuing people, rescuing, rescuing, rescuing and then she always got angry and she always got fiery. Then she turned into a persecutor and then, if you look at the switch in the game, she always then felt like a victim of the game that she was in… which is the drama triangle. We do this with food. We do this with food and alcohol. So, it rescues us, makes us feel good and then when we overdo it, we become persecuted by it and then we end up feeling like in a victim mode. The way to deal with this drama triangles is to stand outside it and think, “that’s interesting”, as opposed to jumping in it. Take a step back, look and consider your position. You don’t have to jump into the drama triangle.
We need to keep a food record. I said diary but I prefer the word record. In that, we put our thoughts or feelings and behaviours, we find out what’s going on for us. On every page you put ‘food his fuel, food is medicine’. If we go off track, we don’t beat ourselves up we just say, “that’s a learning experience” and put any on every page L.E – learning experience. When you’ve done what you’re really happy with put a gold star, put a gold star.
Think about always carrying around a cravings card. Be prepared for the cravings. Ask ourselves am I hungry? Am I nutritionally imbalanced? What’s going on? Is there a trigger? What’s actually happening? What else do I need? What else is going on? What have I not said? What do I need to do differently? Have that card with you at all times.
Think… we need to think. Be kind to your health plan. Checking with yourself: is this true? Because I’ve had one chocolate cake on the way to work this morning, am I really a greedy person? No, you just fancied a cake. Is it helpful to beat yourself up? Is it helpful to bully yourself? Is it inspiring to say “there you go again, you’ve blown it again, I know you never could do it”? Is it necessary to speak to yourself like that? No… speak gently, speak kindly. Is it kind? Is it kind to beat yourself up because you temporarily went off track? Something about 80%, we have health, we look after ourselves, nourish ourselves and a 20%, we may not. That’s perfectly fine. We need to get out of the black and white thinking. It’s the black and white thinking that keeps us in this diet mindset, it keeps feeling deprived, it keeps feeling sad, upset and out of control.
Your mind does control your life, we sabotage ourselves. Listen to yourself with a gentler voice. Have a gentler voice within you. If you set critical shouting voice, turn it down. ‘What have I learnt from that?’ and ‘what can I do differently?’ and ‘how can I get back on track?’.
Avoid the abstinence violation state which we call the black and white thinking. “I’ve had one cake, I’ve blown it, that’s it now, I start again Monday.” It’s that black and white “I will start again Monday”. So, if you go against what you’re wanting to do just stand back, stand back, it’s time for change.
No more. No more to the tyranny of the bullying language, the should, the musts, the ought tos. “I must”, “I should”, “I ought to” – it’s a critical voice that ensures that you will stop your health plan and fall right off it.
Think positive. Change instead. “I can”, “I will”, “I’m going to”. Everything is a learning curve. Food is fuel, food is medicine. Keep on track. Be kind and stop trying so hard…
… So, as therapists, we know that if someone says to me “oh Bernie, I will try” or “I’m going to work on it”, I absolutely know that nothing is going to happen. Try and get out of the chair, literally just stand up and do that. That’s what we need to do, we need to literally just do it, just do it.
Stop, look, listen. Stand back. Say “this is interesting”. Delay, distract and decide. You are in charge and you can decide. You’re in charge and you can decide.
Find an activity you like. I’m getting out of the “exercise” world because exercise often is connected with past experience at school that may be unpleasant for you. Don’t work out because you don’t like your body, workout because it’s the vessel that carries you around. This amazing piece of work. Find something you like doing and do it. You do not earn a cake; you have a piece of cake because you want it.
And then you have the freedom to fly free, away from the bullying language, away from “the should”, “the musts” and “the ought tos” – “I can”, “I will” and “I’m doing it”…
… and the best is yet to come. Thank you.