What’s up with the mind games we play with ourselves ladies? I mean, seriously. How many times have you had a conversation with yourself about the cookies in the pantry or the ice cream in the refrigerator? Please don’t tell me I am the only!
“Do I eat the cookie? Maybe just one. One won’t hurt, right? I will eat it super slow and savor every bite. I can eat just one, right? Okay, maybe two. I’ll just eat two. I wonder what a serving size is? Um, I’m not looking at the serving size because then I will see the calories and that will just ruin it for me. I did have a kick butt workout today and I didn’t eat breakfast, so I have some calories to spare. Okay, just one...I mean two. Just two. (After eating two cookies the conversation now sounds something like this) Ugh, that was so good. I want more. Just one more, or maybe two more. They aren’t that big anyway. Just two more and I am done. Promise. (After eating two more cookies.) Seriously, four cookies? There goes the workout I did today. Might as well go for it, I’ve gone this far! And who brought these cookies in the house anyways? I should just eat them all so I won’t be tempted any more. I mean, if I don’t eat them then I will just eat them tomorrow or the next day, so I will just get it over with. I suck. Where’s my willpower? I can feel the fat forming on my butt right now. Oh well, might as well top it off with some ice cream. I feel fat. I’m such a loser. I can’t believe I did it again.”
It’s weird typing this because I would have conversations like this all day long in my head for years. I would talk to myself about calories, food, exercise, my weight, other women’s bodies compared to mine, what areas of my body I wanted to change and how I was going to do that. I would weigh myself first thing in the morning and then according to that number, I would begin to discuss with myself what my strategy was that day - workout, binge and purge, starvation, laxatives, diet pills or get crazy and do them all? Ugh, what a life.
The truth is that I had the freedom to eat whatever I wanted and I did just that. I would eat the darn cookies. I would eat a tub of ice cream. I would drink a bottle of wine. I would order a pizza and eat the whole thing. There wasn’t anything I denied myself when I was binging. But I didn’t feel free.
Have you ever done something in your own free will and then felt trapped by it?
We are bombarded daily, year after year with the message that we deserve to do what we want, we are entitled to do what we feel and “you do you, boo.” It all sounds great in theory, but we have created a culture where people are so desperate for a “hit” of peace and freedom, they are willing to become slaves to food, alcohol, pills, people, money, sex, etc. for just a moment of a cheap imitation of the real things.
I feel like I am sharing this same message in different ways in many of my blogs because it’s so deeply entrenched in our culture that we don’t even realize it’s what makes getting healthy and taking care of ourselves such a battle. We think it’s going to be as simple as trying harder to eat better and work out more, but it’s not that simple for most women. We can have the best intentions of making a lifestyle change (for good this time) and find ourselves two days or two weeks in starting to hear the voices again.
- “I’m bored.”
- “I feel deprived.”
- “I really want to have _____.”
- “This is hard.”
- “Maybe I don’t have what it takes.”
- “I’m not sure I want to change.”
- “Maybe I should wait until x, y or z happens and then do this.”
- “What kind of life is this anyway, my old way of living is better than this.”
When these voices start talking, it is usually because we have been triggered and are feeling something that is uncomfortable and icky and that use to be stuffed down and numbed with food or alcohol. So because the go-to coping mechanism has been disengaged because we are now on a “health journey”, things start to get super uncomfortable. But rather than look at the discomfort as an opportunity to grow and and indication that you are on your way to getting results, we shrink in fear believing that somehow it will destroy us. This is when our health journey gets real. This is when women either dig in and walk through the muck or revert back to the penthouse of dysfunctional comfort and give up.
Have you been there? Have you been in place where you felt like you gave up your freedom to be healthier and all of the sudden you felt like a caged animal, trapped and afraid?
It’s interesting because I lived in this place for years and only from where I sit down, can I see how crazy it is to think freedom is achieved by eating whatever we want and doing whatever we want or feel in the moment. Probably because we live in a blame and shame society. We do something and then pass blame to escape taking personal responsibility or we do something and feel shame, keep it secret and go on acting like everything is okay. Both of these avoid the FACT that every freewill choice we make in the name of “I will do what I want because I want to do what I want to do” has very real consequences that we are not free to choose. We can’t choose to eat a tub of ice cream every night for years and decide that we are not going to have blood sugar issues, weight gain and gut health breakdown. We can’t choose to sit on the couch and eat donuts and decide we are going to have Michelle Obama arms and a flat belly.
Our personal worlds and the world at large would experience an amazing transformation if we would base all of our choices on whether or not we are willing to own and deal with the probable consequences. Because no matter if we like it or not, there will always be consequences.
I have met very few women who have told me, yes Amber,
- I want to be 50 pounds overweight.
- I want to hate how I look.
- I want to spend the rest of my life living restricted by my health.
- I want to live a life ashamed of what I have done to myself so I never take risks to pursue my passion of ____________.
- I want to withhold my love and affection from my spouse because I am embarrassed about how I look.
- I want to walk around broken and frustrated.
People don’t choose these things. But they choose the actions that lead to these things. They choose the perspective and mindsets that create these realities. When we choose to use the “freedom” card to do whatever we want, the consequences will be emotional, spiritual or physical imprisonment. We can try to deny, avoid or blame away the consequences, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
So, what do we do with this dilemma? We want to be free, but we don’t want the consequences of our freedom.
First, we have to accept the fact that true freedom is enjoyed on the back end, not the front end. We don’t start with freedom, we end with freedom. Freedom is a by-product of our choices. Freedom comes at a cost. We live in America. We celebrate July 4th every year because our freedom cost something. It cost something up front and we experience the blessings of freedom on the back end.
The same is true with our health and weight. I eat healthy and workout and drink water because I want to be free in my body, experiencing no limitations or restrictions and free in my mind, released from the torture of self hatred, obsession and judgement. If I could find a way to eat anything in the world with absolutely no consequences, I would be the richest woman in the world. But as long as we are talking about the REAL WORLD, I am going to make choices that set me free on the back end, not choices that make me feel like I am free on the front end.
Second, we have to take personal responsibility for everything we have created in our lives. Not to condemn ourselves, but rather to take our power back. By owning our “stuff”, we claim the power we have in the choices we make and what we do with the consequences of the choices. This was monumental for me and a turning point in my entire life. I had spent years blaming and dodging responsibility for what I had created in my own life.
Here’s what mine looked like:
- I had to take personal responsibility for my excessive partying, alcohol abuse, toxic relationships, binging and purging and a slew of other things that I had blamed on my mom dying of cancer at such a young age.
- I had to take personal responsibility for the role I played in my failed relationships.
- I had to take personal responsibility for the consequences of trying to cheat the system when it came to losing weight and surrender to the process required to heal my body.
- I had to take personal responsibility for my relationship with God, stop allowing imperfect and broken people coupled with my disappointment with my childhood religion to define who God is and who I am in God.
- I had to take responsibility for my feelings, resentments, unforgiveness and free myself from the shackles of other people’s decisions or choices.
From a place of personal responsibility, I don’t feel shame or guilt - but rather power to finally be in control of myself - my actions, my decisions, my feelings, my reactions and my thoughts from the standpoint of focusing on what I WANT to create in my life and making decisions from that place versus making decisions from a reactive and emotional place.
The third key is putting God in His rightful place. We cannot predict the outcome of every decision we make - even if our intentions and decisions are good. There is a higher power at work. God has a plan and a purpose for you and for me and He is fiercely committed to drawing us into a relationship with Him, which often takes the form of epic failures in our lives that bring us to our knees. It is often in the most humbling of circumstances that we are able to surrender our pride and allow the Lord to have His way in our lives.
If we don’t get right with God, we are going to make something our God - food, money, our looks, need to be right, need to control, other people’s approval, worldly success, power, sex, etc. Something has to take the position of worship in our lives. If we are not worshipping God, we will worship the idols of this world. If we worship God and surrender our lives to Him, He gives us freedom over everything we are enslaved to. The power of sin and deception loses its power in our lives. If we worship the world, we will be free to create our own destruction through fulfilling the desires of our flesh while the enemy whispers, “you deserve it.” It’s our choice. God has made his, what’s yours?
I always put a call to action at the bottom of these blogs because I believe God draws the right people at the right time to the message he lays on my heart. Perhaps this is the first blog you have read or you read it weekly. What do you need to do to put this into action? Perhaps it’s a free coaching session with me to talk through what is moving in your heart and spirit as you read the words on the screen. Don’t let the fear talk you out of it. Listen to the power inside of you instead. If you would like to reach out, you can pick a time that works for you here. It is time for you to claim your freedom!