DAY # 37

HALF CHALLENGE


CHALLENGE BREAKDOWN


The concept of half can go either way.  You might see the glass half full or half empty depending on if you are optimistic or pessimistic (I’m a half full kinda woman unless it’s champagne but that’s another story…).  

When it comes to shopping, half off can indeed be dangerous permission in my eyes.  During a shopping trip I may have let Tim behind the curtain of my shopping philosophy.  It goes like this: if something is half off, I’ve saved money and can buy more with the money I just saved.  He was pretty horrified and didn’t quite see it that way which might explain a lot about the difference between men and women, especially when it comes to spending money.  But I think he’d be really happy if he could have purchased our home for half off!

On the flip side, half can be quite the struggle to swallow.  Like with divorce. Or food. It’s all a matter or context and perspective.

How does the concept of half feel when it comes to food?  Does it cause anxiety (ugh, no way), doubt (whatever, I could never do that), or fear (what?  Only half?). Pay attention and be aware of the dialog that is going on in your head with this concept of half + food.  Are you feeling it anywhere in your body? What kind of emotions does it stimulate?

I was working with a client who is struggling with a multi-decade chronic binge eating disorder.  During our appointment I suggested cutting all meals in half (as in physically halving the food on the plate), assessing satiety half-way through the meal, and waiting at least 5-7 minutes before taking another bite and only, ideally, if she/he was physically hungry.   Initially this stimulated an immediate, negative visceral reaction in my client, but then after sitting with the concept realized that it actually made sense and they would at least give it a go for a week.

Then I decided to explore this concept of half as well.  For a week I decided to experiment and cut my portions in half.  What I mean is the regular portion size was on my plate, but I just decided to draw a line down the middle of the plate as a sign to consume half and then stop.  OR stop when half of my food was consumed. Just to assess where I was on the hunger scale, check in with my emotions and anything else that surfaced during the process of eating.

When I ate alone, I usually felt satisfied with eating half the plate, maybe a little more, without a problem.  Wrapping up the other half of food, in disbelief that I was able to do this and feel satisfied, felt odd but then a bit empowering.  And I realized that it’s likely I’ve been accustomed to overeating for a good portion of my life, never quite 100% aware that I was doing it because I was on autopilot — eating until the plate was empty (hello clean plate club) or I was physically “full”.  

Something shifts when I eat with Tim; I forget to stop at the halfway mark.  If we discuss family or work stress, I might be able to bring my awareness to my eating and how our discussion is impacting me. However, in the past I was defaulting to “f-it” and would keep eating. Which was a GREAT lesson because it created a mutual mindful living guideline: we avoid discussing any volatile family or work discussions while we are making OR eating food!!!  Hooray!

When I catch us falling into old habits, I lovingly remind each of us to table the conversation until we are away from food. Initially I had to physically push the food away, stop eating and sit there, saying nothing while looking at the table.  That was a non-verbal sign for us to shift the conversation, perhaps rather childish but effective. Once the discussion shifts away from anything that feels toxic, we can begin eating again. It might seem a bit dramatic, but it’s important to honor your body’s needs. Notice any shifts that take place to move from a space of unconscious behavior and running on auto-pilot to having a much healthier relationship with food!  

The bottom line is this:  we have to learn to manage and take responsibility for our own psychology.  Our spouse, therapist, BFF have their own psychology to tend to. This is 110% yours to supervise.  And since emotions and triggers can steer you in the direction of food, you have to start paying attention to and editing your thoughts in the moment, without judgment.  You can always change what you don’t like, but you have to be curious about observing it.  Avoid getting stuck in the negative feedback loop of, “oh life always has been and always will be this way.”  That’s the easy way out to avoid doing the necessary work. I won’t say working towards a mindful relationship with food and your body is easy, but I will say it’s BETTER than not evolving into a healthier version of yourself, hands down.

During this Half Exercise start to notice your emotions and mind:  Am I feeling deprived or satisfied? What direction is my thinking going?  How does any of this ultimately make me feel? By shedding light on your current situation, emotional and mental, you can start to examine it and then decide if you want to keep it or change it.  That decision to let your brain go in whatever direction you let it run, is indeed yours. And you have the power to change it in any given moment or allow it to go into a totally negative spiral.  Awareness is the first step. I love what Tony Robbins says: just tell yourself that your brain has been hijacked by emotions and that this is not the real you, it’s your brain in an emotional state.  Do this as soon as you notice that your brain is in a state of fear, panic, stress, or anxiety.

Next is focusing on where you want to go and what feels attainable and real for you to do.  Everyone is different, including the journey. Remember, no judgment. Just awareness and a deeper understanding of yourself about your beliefs and relationship with food.