It seems like the day after the Superbowl is the day for recommitting to your weight loss goals. At least the number of emails and phone calls I get goes up on the Monday following the big game. I’m not sure if it’s the after affects of a day spent swilling beer and stuffing oneself with hot wings and nachos that get people thinking about losing weight, or if Superbowl Sunday just happens to fall at the same time diet resolutions begin to fall by the wayside. Whatever the case, weight loss goals begin again.
And I begin repeating my regular mantra of “diets don’t work.” Our own lives serve as proof, yet everyone is desperate for the meal plan, shot, shake, or program that will let them eat a truckload of nachos, sit glued to the television, and still lose weight. Or so it would seem. But after some careful talking, it is almost always revealed that a person’s eating habits reflect what’s going on in her life – emotionally. More often than not, they’re wallowing in a deep pit of anxiety (and the stress of a big social day like Superbowl Sunday can bring that anxiety right to the surface.)
Now, I’m the first to admit that feeling anxious is seriously uncomfortable. It leads to all kind of troubling physical and mental experiences. Palms sweat. Hearts race. That damned voice inside your head jabbers on and on. And we’ll do just about anything to change the internal channel. Some folks will simply start a fight with a loved one, but most of us turn to food to switch the emotional switch – scarf a handful (or bagful) of chips, squeeze a tube of frosting into our mouth, spoon mouthfuls of Ben and Jerry’s onto our tongue…Anything that can be done quickly and immediately. Instead of blindly reaching for whatever food may be directly in arm’s reach, try this technique instead.
Wait. Sit with the emotion for 90 seconds. 90 seconds is exactly how long it takes for the body to process an emotion. It takes 90 seconds for the hormonal reactions stirred up by fear, grief, anger or shame to run their course. Then they simply disappear. (Sure – those emotions may show up again, but they’ll only appear for another 90 seconds. Then they’ll dissipate, and leave you in a different – often better state).
All you have to do is wait. Meet the unpleasant emotion without resistance – and without the chip bag – and it will change on its own. No calories required. Give it a try. The next time you catch yourself reaching for food when you are clearly not hungry, take out a watch and time yourself. Spend 90 seconds noticing how you feel. Watch the emotion change in that time. And notice that it all happens without food. Give it a try, then let us know how it goes for you.