Body monsters are limiting thoughts lurking in your brain. They’re thoughts that put weight on your body because they make us feel out of control around food, and they make us feel shameful of our bodies. Listen to this episode to learn about two recent victories I had in slaying body monsters. They may help you slay some monsters that are hanging out in your own head.
Welcome to Rich & Thin™ Radio, the only podcast that helps you earn more and weigh less. I’m Kelly Hollingsworth and if getting more bank with less bulk is what you want, I’m glad you’re here because I want it, too, and in this show we talk about how to make that happen.
The topic for this week is slaying your monsters. Last time, in our business episode, we discussed that most of our monsters, the beasts that keep us from getting where we want to go, exist solely in our minds. We also discussed how they keep us from serving in the ways we want to serve, and earning the money that we want in our lives. And today in our body episode, we’re going to discuss the monsters in our minds and the havoc they can wreak on our bodies. And I’m going to share a couple of victories I had recently, in conquering body monsters that have been vexing me for a long time.
Two Types of Body Monsters
A major reason I want to share these victories with you is because they illustrate that body monsters basically come in two flavors. There’s the monster we create in our minds about food, and there’s the monster we create in our minds about how ugly and unacceptable we are.
When Food Becomes a Monster
First let’s talk about food. If you’ve been listening to the podcast, you know that the lovely and talented Adriane Nichols is my weight-loss coach in Rich & Thin™ Workshop, and the reason I wanted her as my weight-loss coach is because she is the eater that I would like to become. She has virtually no drama around food. She has taken food, which used to loom large as a giant obsession in her life, and shrunk it down to its proper size– it’s something in her life that brings her pleasure and it’s a necessary and desirable part of her life, but it’s only a piece, and not that big of a piece– and as a result she has no desire to overeat, ever. She actually hates the feeling of overeating, and she effortlessly maintains her weight and she is thin and lovely and she has everything I want, as far as my relationship with food and weight go.
So we’ve been working on eating the things you really, really want, and eating nothing else. Because if you don’t really want it, why on earth should you eat it? That’s a recipe for disaster as far as I’m concerned, and it’s the opposite of wealth. Wealth is having everything you want and nothing you don’t, and food should fit in with that.
So the other day I was at home alone, my husband was away on a business trip, and I was hungry and it was lunch time and I was thinking, what do I really want for lunch? And there were a lot of different things that I considered. My refrigerator is always filled with ultra-healthy food, I can make a gorgeous fresh salad anytime I want one, or I could one of the many kinds of delicious soups that I keep in my freezer, these are the homemade soups that I make all the time, or I could go out to anywhere I want to go for lunch. I could have sushi or Mexican or hamburgers or whatever it is that I really, really want in that moment. This is part of my quest to end up binge eating once and for all. Because it’s when we feel deprived that we wind up binging, in her fantastic book Brain Over Binge, Kathryn Hansen, she’s a writer that I haven’t mentioned in the podcast before, but I should have… she discusses that one of the two critical steps in ending binge eating is to eat adequately. And I don’t think she specifically says this, but my take on eating adequately is that there is not just efficient food consumption, that’s one part of it, but the other part is to eat the food that your body is really craving. My take on things is that your body knows what you need and if you listen to it, it is telling you what it wants, and your mouth is part of your body, it’s actually part of your digestive system, digestion starts in the mouth, so what seems like it would taste good in the moment is in my mind a signal for what your body wants.
That’s my hypothesis anyway, and one of the reasons I’m happy to have Adriane in Rich & Thin™ Workshop is she is living, breathing example that paying attention to these signals and ignoring all the messages about, “No! You have to starve yourself. You have to eat kale at every meal” will get you out of diet mentality, out of binging, and into the body you want and on the road to true wealth in all aspects of your life.
And this hypothesis is starting to prove ng itself true, as I was pondering what I wanted for lunch. Because all I wanted was pancakes. And I didn’t want the crappy kind of pancakes that they make in a diner. I wanted the kind of pancakes you make at home, from scratch, with sour cream and half-and-half in the batter, and blueberries that you cook into the pancakes, and they’re all cooked in real butter, and then doused in fresh berries and some real maple syrup. That was the kind of pancake I wanted, and nothing else was going to do. It was all I wanted. And at first I told myself, “No, pancakes are a binge food for you. And there also a slam-dunk weight gain food for you. You can’t eat those, so just forget about it. Make a salad.”
And as I was thinking those things, I felt myself teetering back into binge mode. I didn’t want a salad. I eat salads all the time. I love them and I eat them all the time. That day, I wanted pancakes, and I’ve been paying attention enough to the cycle of disregarding my own desires, feeling deprived, and then binging afterwards, that I could see that coming up, if I ate the salad when I really wanted the pancakes.
So in the spirit of Rich & Thin™ Research, got out my baking stuff, whipped up a half-batch of exactly the pancake recipe I wanted, put half the batter in the fridge, and the other half, the quarter batch, I made into three smallish pancakes, and I decided I was going to eat those pancakes with a big glass of cold milk and that I would stop eating when the pancakes didn’t taste good to me anymore.
And they tasted good throughout the whole three pancakes, so that’s how many I ate, and when I was done, I felt satisfied and I stopped eating.
Did I feel terrific? No. The pancakes had sugar and flour in them, obviously, and sugar in particular gives me a headache. So these were not the best food for me to eat in terms of how I was going to feel all afternoon. But I was talking about this with Adriane afterwards and she said, sometimes that happens. Sometimes you just want to have a certain kind of food or certain kind of beverage that’s going to make you feel a little bit yucky for a little while, but the important thing is that you stopped it there. You didn’t extend it into a three-day bender because you feel like crap—that’s something I’ve definitely been known to do. And the other important thing is that when you give yourself those foods exactly when you want them, you just release all of the drama around those foods, and that definitely happened.
I used to think that I couldn’t eat pancakes, because then I would binge on them, and basically that thought was me declaring that pancakes are a monster over which I have no control. If they come anywhere near me, they are a destructive force over which I have no power, so I have to keep away from them. Because that’s what we do with monsters, right? We hide from them.
And on that day I discovered that that just isn’t true. Pancakes are not monsters over which I have no control. Rather, I have power over pancakes. I decide when I want to eat them, and exactly what kind I want, exactly how delicious they have to be to make it worth it, and I decide when I’ve had exactly enough pancakes. And by letting myself do that I also realized, as I felt like crap later that day, that maybe one pancake would have done it. I could’ve combined one pancake with some eggs and maybe some bacon or sausage and still enjoyed the taste and texture and experience of the pancake, and eaten a third as much, and then, quite possibly, I wouldn’t have had the headache, or at least it wouldn’t have been quite so pronounced.
So what I hope you are noticing here is that in the doomed age of dieting, at a time when so many of us are trying to diet and so many of us are “failing,” what’s happening is that we are giving all of our power to foods that may not have the power we think they have. I have said again and again, there are certain foods that hijack your brain, sugar being one, alcohol being another, but now I’m realizing that in order for your brain to be hijacked, it has to acquiesce to that happening, and what I’m starting to realize is that our brains, properly managed, and not in a deprived, scarcity mindset, have a lot more power than we think they do. I’m learning that there are times when we can give our body what it wants, a starchy food instead of a salad, without fear that we’re admitting a monster that is going to run our dreams off the rails.
In other words, what we are seeing in Rich & Thin™ Workshop is that when you look a monster in the eye and realize you are the one with the power, that’s the moment when the monster begins to dissolve before your very eyes. That happened to me with pancakes the other day, and it was a giant moment that I doubt I will ever forget. It sounds small, but the shift that it represented was extraordinary.
When Shame Becomes a Body Monster
The other victory I had recently was a small victory in the battle against shame. It was just a battle, I haven’t won the war, but it was progress, because I have a long history of perfectionism, as do many of the listeners of this show, and where does shame come from? Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior, and to this I would add that “behavior” includes the way we look. If we think that we look wrong or foolish, that also generates a feeling of shame.
And I have been ashamed of myself for my entire life. It started when I was a little kid. I remember my parents taking us places, we were pretty well-behaved, but on the way home in the car we would get a lecture about particular thing or things that we said or did, and how ashamed our parents were of that, and how we needed to do better in that particular area. If it was really bad, we got a lecture on it when we got home, and our parents would say, “I have never been so embarrassed in my entire life.”
This is a message that little girls get a lot more than little boys get. And so I think this is a seed. I don’t think it’s an accident that so many of the women I work with are hiding in shame. This is not a pervasive male emotion, and for women, maybe it’s not across the board but it is present, definitely in key areas of their lives, and maybe it is so strong in those areas that it is pulling everything down. Women are hiding their opinions. They are hiding their bodies. They are hiding their faces. It’s as if we are all operating beneath a virtual burqa. We won’t go on camera. If we go on camera, we can only see part of our body. Maybe our face. Maybe it has to back away from our face. We can see our whole body relative to our face. We are hiding because we’re worried about not being perfect. We are worried about offending anyone with anything about ourselves that is less than perfect.
And I have definitely been doing this with my body. I’ve been doing it all my life, and I’ve been doing it in an aggravated way over the last three years. It doesn’t look the way it did when I was an athlete. It doesn’t look the way it did before I got hurt when I was running marathons and lifting weights and hiking and exercising compulsively as I used to do. And I have been feeling a ton of shame about the current state of my body that is adversely affecting just about every aspect of my life. And the amazing thing is, when I let go of that shame, when I tell myself, this is what your body looks like right now and it’s okay, it has been through a lot, and I believe that, I feel so much better. I no longer feel that I need to hide in my house and hide in my business, and when I don’t feel so embarrassed or ashamed, I don’t do things that perpetuate that vicious downward spiral. If you think your body is a source of shame, you will feel ashamed, and what do we do when we feel ashamed? Those of us who struggle with overeating, that’s out go-to place. We overeat and create bodies that represent that shame, rather than who we are, what we want, and ultimately who we can become.
All of this is coming out because I have a coach. I did some coaching of myself with some success in the first two years following my injuries, but when the bleep hit the fan in the third year, it stopped working and I really needed some help. I needed help deeper than what I could do on my own, I had to get it, and now I have it.
I said this in the last episode and I’ll say it again today: If you are able to coach yourself through your owns struggles, fantastic. But if you’re struggling and you’re really in pain and you’re going backwards and not forward, I’d like you to think about getting some help in slaying your own monsters. If you want my take on things, I would be honored to speak with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to richandthin.com where you can access my calendar and set up a time to have a free but very valuable chat with me so you can get some clarity on what’s vexing you, and we can see if there’s a fit in us working together, which will help you get everything you want, including feeling better, and you can get out from under everything you don’t want, including shame and the excess weight it’s putting on your body. I hope to hear from you if you want some help, and I want to thank you for being here today. I look forward to talking with you next week.