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Are you suffering from poor self esteem due to body image issues? Have fad diets left you feeling confused and frustrated? We’d like you to consider that rather than your challenge being purely a physical one, the difficulty you are having losing weight might also have an undiscovered psychological aspect to it. In this article, you will discover how to reevaluate your relationship with food, gain clarity and start finding healthier, holistic ways to lose weight.
The diet industry has made a fortune by marketing fad diets that exploit body image issues that so many of us suffer from. The market is flooded with conflicting data on what will be the fastest way to become thin. In developed countries, 60% of people over the age of 20 are considered overweight. We obviously need to change our relationships with food. But before that change can be seen physically through healthy weight loss, it is important to identify the harmful psychological patterns that permeate our relationships with food.
How can you create a healthy, extraordinary relationship with food that will still satisfy all of your needs? It is as simple as identifying what it is that you want from this relationship. When it comes to food, it is easy to get stuck on such strategies as a fad diet or target weight loss. Neither identifies what is causing our unhealthy relationship with food in the first place. It is important to discover this cause before you can see true results.
Let’s take a look at how you can create an extraordinary relationship with food—one that would be satisfying in every way. But, in order to get what you want, you have to know what you want.
Whenever you want to improve the quality of a relationship it’s important to start by understanding what you want most from the relationship. As we said before, in the area of eating, we often get stuck on specific strategies such as a particular diet or target weight. We don’t identify what is truly important to us, what propels us down this path in the first place.
We find that when you are crystal clear about what you want in terms of your core values, it’s much more likely you’ll recognize the different paths that will lead you to success. To help you with this, we suggest you take advantage of the free Focused Attention Values. You can find this exercise on our web site.
Begin this values exercise by sitting quietly for as long as it takes to imagine what it would be like if you had an extraordinary relationship with food. Then imagine the effect this would have on your relationships, both with yourself and others. Start the Values Exercise with this image in mind. When you’ve completed the exercise, write the results in the left column of a new piece of paper, underneath the heading: “My perfect relationship with food will help me experience...”
After you’ve listed what you value about an extraordinary relationship with food, it’s important to identify the core values that create your current relationship with food. It may seem a little shocking for us to suggest that your current relationship with food is satisfying some of your core values. But, in fact, we do everything we do for “good reasons.” Everything!
So it’s critical to understand the good reasons you have for your current relationship with food. What benefits are you getting from your relationship with food now?
This is important work. Unless you identify all of the benefits you‘re getting now, it’s impossible to figure out a new strategy that will continue to give you these benefits, AND AT THE SAME give you the benefits from the values you just listed in your perfect relationship with food.
Again, we suggest you use the values exercise to figure this out. But this time, start with one concrete behavior that you don’t like in your current relationship with food.
This should be specific and concrete, like: “I eat food after 9 p.m.” Again, start the values exercise with this example in mind. Write the results of this exercise in the right column of your paper, under the heading: “My Existing Relationship with food helps me experience...”
We suggest you repeat this exercise using enough different examples of specific behaviors until it seems you are no longer adding new values to the right column of your paper.
Once you’ve completed your lists of EVERYTHING you want from a relationship with food—both current and future—it’s time to start figuring out specific strategies to help you experience all of the things on your lists.
Start by picking one value from your Perfect Relationship list. Let’s say that you picked “attractiveness.” What is one concrete action you can take that will help you experience more attractiveness every day? This doesn’t have to be in relationship with food. It can be something like changing your hairstyle or getting new clothes. The important thing here is to begin to experience more of what you value in your life. The more you turn your attention to what you value in one area of your life the more that experience will grow in every area.
Next, pick one value from your Current Relationship list. Let’s say you discovered that you eat food after 9 p.m. because you feel bored and value “stimulation.” What is one concrete action you can take that will help you experience more stimulation when you feel bored? Again the important thing here is to begin to experience more of what you value in your life—right now. Because what you focus your attention on will grow.
Continue through your list until you’ve identified at lease one concrete action you can take for each and every value that you’ve listed. The main thing here is to realize it’s not an “either/or” world—you can start experiencing a “both/and” world.
You don’t have to choose between attractiveness and stimulation; it’s possible to experience both attractiveness and stimulation. You need to make sure that whatever you‘re doing isn’t sacrificing one thing you value to experience something else you value.
The next step is creating accountability. This is an important part of making significant changes in any long-standing behaviors. If you want to turbo-charge this process we suggest you enlist the help of a trusted friend.
Tell them that you‘re embarking on this project to create an extraordinary relationship with food. Let them in on the specific strategies you come up with and then schedule regular times to meet with them to talk about how it’s going. If one of your strategies isn’t working, have your friend help you brainstorm a new “both/and” plan.
In summary, poor self esteem, and negative body image can be remedied by identifying what values we—positively and negatively—associate with our eating habits. Discovering alternative means to satisfy these needs will make fad diets unnecessary. A healthy more holistic way to lose weight and feel great is to begin by gaining a better understanding of what makes us head down the path of poor choices in the first place.
bq. Unfortunately, the teachings those of us in Western cultures absorb from an early age have us believing that our body image battle is one that we can never win. If you are ready to create a new relationship with yourself and discover innovative techniques for creating extraordinary relationships in all areas of your life, sign up for our free thought-provoking, motivational Weekly Action Tips email series at: Focused Attention Each tip offers practical advice for creating and living the life you really want.
Or visit us at: Focused Attention