More than eighteen months ago, shortly after being certified as an mBIT Coach, I started the process of learning Innergetics with Shirley Billigmeier (author of Inner Eating) and Suzanne Henwood (mBIT Master Coach and Master Trainer). Innergetics takes the process of inner wisdom of mBraining and focuses it onto your relationship with food. I like to say it uses eating as a thermometer of what is happening in your life. So, I chose to study Innergetics because I wanted to focus on my gut-brain (enteric brain). I was regularly suffering from bloating and discomfort, looking to find a way to love my body again.
It frustrated me that my ability to qualify as an Innergetics coach rested upon my results. Nonetheless, I can finally see the wisdom in this approach. It’s easy to say to a client to put size and weight on the shelf and focus on mindful eating. As someone with Celiac Disease and SIBO, I managed to lose the first pounds quickly by focusing on recording and mindful eating. But ignored part of the process: emotional, mental and physical “storage”. The last 5-7 pounds seemed impossible to lose. Last December (2018), I was “ready to qualify”. Except, I wasn’t there yet in my journey.
And it took me twelve months to get to the bottom of what I was holding in those last few pounds! Along this challenging journey, I learned to love my body again.
What am I storing?
This week, while coaching a client, I had a realisation: I only lost the final pounds AFTER I decluttered the bookshelves of my law books. I knew my storage was not about eating more healthy or doing more exercise. If it were that easy, I would lose the weight in a heartbeat. I have enough willpower to do that!
What was I storing and holding onto? A former version of who I was – the lawyer that needed law books to show how studied she was. While that version of me doesn’t fit in the future I envision, I had a lot of releasing to do.
First, I released the books from my physical space. With each book that I let go, I gave myself time to do the emotional and mental release.
After my bookshelves were clear, then I spent some time working on “Who am I?” when I let that persona go?
Finally, without effort, I released the storage in my body. It happened naturally and without effort. I no longer needed to hold onto that part of me.
Your inner wisdom
When you sit down to eat, what are you thinking about? Do you stop to consider questions such as:
- Am I hungry?
- Will I eat to stave off my boredom?
- What emotions am I feeling at the moment – anger, frustration, sadness?
- Am I eating because I am tired or mentally exhausted? Do I need to rest instead of eating?
- What am I avoiding right now?
There’s deep inner wisdom we can tap into if we are willing to sit in uncomfortable silence. Can I love and accept my body as it is right now? The challenge was to ask myself better questions so that I could come up with better answers. These answers allowed me to make substantial changes to my life.
Everyone talks about mindful eating: but it’s not about sitting in silence, eating and focusing on each bite. There’s so much more to it than just this! Sometimes, it is choosing not to eat, but rather to sit in what makes us uncomfortable.
Sitting in my anger as a way of showing love to my body
Yesterday, I spent ten minutes sitting on the floor of my office, holding pent up rage. Someone had sent me a message that I disliked. My initial reaction: go to the kitchen and find something to eat.
I chose not to.
Instead, I chose to sit down on the floor and sit in my anger. What was I truly feeling? Disempowered. I felt that my skills were called into question. Below the anger lay more: conversations that I had failed to have with this person in advance.
I was mad at myself. Last week I had felt (intuited) that I needed to have a conversation with this person but hadn’t been able to put my finger on a problem. And rather than invest the time sitting with that thought, I had brushed it aside and carried on with what I was doing, because I was busy. There was the source of my anger. I wasn’t angry at them. Instead, I was mad at myself for not listening to my intuition.
And then, I asked myself “so what do you want to do about this situation?”. I chose action, which I then implemented.
When I ate, over an hour later, there was no discomfort or indigestion: I wasn’t trying to digest and swallow my emotions.
Food, weight, exercise & calories are not the problem
We place so much blame on food, good/bad fat, calories and our lifestyles. While all of those lead to weight gain, by focusing on them, we take the attention off ourselves.
By looking at food or exercise, you can fail to ask yourself “do I love me enough to love my body and treat it right?”. Your relationship with food and exercise is simply a mirror of your relationship with yourself.
Instead of eating this ice-cream: am I willing to sit in uncomfortable emotions and face them?
What is your “addiction”? Where do you go when things get uncomfortable?
I turned to food and work, never inward, never to the challenge.
Learning a new way: I choose to love my body
Even with my coaching background and having two fantastic peer coaches helping me through the process, I still struggled with those final pounds. There were times I thought they would be with me forever. Let me share with you some of the lessons of the process:
Make a decision: What do I want?
I decided that I wanted to be healthy and whole in March 2017, having no idea how I would achieve it. When I began the Innergetics course in March 2018, I had no idea whether I would learn what I needed, but I was committed to the goal of getting healthy. It wasn’t enough to get through the day; I wanted to thrive again.
And even with the answers, it still took more than eighteen months to achieve it.
Imagine where you want to be:
I started to work on visualising and imagining what total health and wellbeing would look like.
As I write this, my calf muscles and thighs still feel sore from the steps and hill-climbing I did this morning with little miss six and the dogs. But I have spent many moments over the past three years imagining what it would be like to have enough energy to keep up with her energy levels, to be back in shape to where I could tire her and the dogs out, rather than me being the one that gets exhausted.
Focus your vision: prioritise that goal daily
It’s not enough to imagine what you want: your daily schedule needs to reflect this focus.
For me, this has meant changing my daily schedule: so I have time for a morning walk every day during the summer holidays (yes, summer in December!) with little miss six and the dogs. During the school year, I get little miss off to school by 7.00 a.m. and then take the dogs for a walk. In either case, I start my workday at 8.45, instead of 8.00 a.m., focusing first on myself before I start looking after others.
I’ve known for years:
- I shouldn’t eat if I’m not hungry
- Stop eating when you are no longer hungry
That wasn’t enough to stop me from putting on the pounds when I was emotionally and mentally distressed!
Until I made a conscious decision to record my eating (and more importantly, what was going on around my food), I didn’t make any changes. Knowing did not allow me to show love to my body the way that doing would.
What do you know right now that you are failing to put into practice in your life?
Towards the end of last year, I took a break on Facebook from my weekly lives about health and “Ditch the Diet & Face the Feelings“. I recognised that I was stuck and needed to focus on getting my results in line. For the last three months of the year, I focused all of my attention on getting results for myself.
Sometimes, we have to stop talking about what we are going to do and dig deep and do it! Where do you need to put in more effort?
Know this: you will fail often
My failures pepper the last eighteen months. I have failed many more times than I have been successful. There are countless times when I felt bloated and irritable and chose to eat ice cream rather than sit with my discomfort. I paid the price with more bloating and pain, often sending myself to bed with lethargy.
After feeling sorry for myself, I would try again. In part, because I had accountability partners to report to. More than anything else, because I had a vision of what feeling good would look like. I know what good health looks and feels like, and I wanted to feel it again.
Each mistake held a lesson. Sometimes, I would ignore it at first, but eventually, I would come back to learn from the mistakes.
You will face obstacles & challenges
The road to your goals is not necessarily straight. Problems and challenges will arise. What problem-solving skills do you bring to your life? How are you approaching them?
One of my biggest challenges was to accept that my real problem was not five pounds of extra weight. My lethargy and lack of energy came from Celiac Disease and SIBO. The solution provided by doctors: avoid gluten.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the whole picture of what I needed to avoid. Over the past eighteen months, through trial and error, I have learned what foods I need to avoid for my body to be healthy and whole. It doesn’t look like what my doctors told me: my list of foods to avoid is much longer. But I feel so much better now!
I have felt that progress was made with two steps forward and one step back.
But she persisted!
Are you committed to your goals and dreams, in spite of the challenges and obstacles?
Today is the day to love my body!
Whatever it is that you are waiting to change: make today the first day. Timing will never be perfect and you will always find an excuse.
I could tell you all the flaws of my body – instead, I choose to see how amazing it is at 47 years old, in spite of what I’ve put it through. I can love it today and I choose to.
Whatever it is that you want, choose today to make a plan. Over time, that plan will take shape, and become an action plan. Step one might be to learn how to do something new, a skill that you need in order to get started.
The best time to have planted a tree was twenty years ago, and the second best time is today. (Chinese proverb)
What will you regret in twenty years time if you don’t start today?