How True Self-Care Supports Your Healthy Weight

This post is part of Healthy Weight Week. This week is meant to help change the conversation around weight during the third week in January. That’s when New Year diets, cleanses, and “new you” efforts start to fall by the wayside because they’re, well, impossible to sustain.

Join us all week for a look at how you can put the fundamental elements of healthy living in place in your life for the long term. 

Welcome to a liberating approach free of food fears, punishing exercise and negative thoughts about your body! Welcome to life!

This week at Green Mountain we have shared with you our thoughts about healthy eating, exercise, and stress management – all of which defines how we approach self-care. As you’ve read, it’s quite different from the popular notions that often end up frustrating and defeating folks in their efforts to take care of themselves.

That said, bridging the gap between understanding what constitutes true self-care and then doing it takes patience, self-compassion, and time.

However, if someone is mostly being driven by a sense of urgency to be in a different body – yesterday – there tends to be very little patience. In fact, the term ‘healthy weight’ can get lost in the focus around weight loss at any cost.

There’s no better example than health-related New Year’s resolutions.

Did you know that 1 in 3 people abandon their health-related New Year resolutions by the end of January? Yep – and that percentage goes up to 75% by the end of the year.1

That is a high failure rate if you ask me. Yet way too often people blame (and shame) themselves for quitting their goals and chalk it up to ‘laziness’ or ‘lack of willpower’ or ‘addiction’ to certain foods.

But people aren’t failing the commonly-used approaches out there. These fad-like approaches are failing them.

Don’t Try Harder, Try Different

At Green Mountain we have a motto: ‘don’t try harder, try different’. We encourage women to become their own authority around their health and well-being using the practice of body awareness through mindfulness.

Mindfulness builds your ability to create a realistic lifestyle that supports your healthy weight because it embodies the practice of tuning in – rather than disconnecting from – your body’s cues.

If we feel disconnected from our bodies, then we live in a state of grasping outside of ourselves for the magic diet or exercise plan that provides a short term illusion of control over what feels uncontrollable – which is often our relationship to food and movement.

The practice of mindfulness teaches us how to feel and respond supportively to our bodies’ needs for eating, movement, and other essential needs. The practice of tuning in then becomes the catalyst for self-care, and as a result, transformation happens from the inside out.

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4 Ways a Mindful Mindset Transforms Self-Care

  1. How you’re measuring success includes how you feel physically and psychologically, not just measuring by how many pounds or inches may have been be lost.
  1. The ‘exercise as a means to an end’ mentality shifts to movement you look forward to because it feels great during, and you feel energized afterward, instead of feeling sore or depleted.
  1. Food isn’t revered or feared – it’s savored and enjoyed, and portions are better managed because you can recognize and honor hunger and satisfaction cues.
  1. Feelings of guilt, shame, regret, frustration and anxiety lessen because the inner dialogue is less focused on self-criticism and more on self-kindness.

Shifting to this mindset requires the practice of paying attention.

There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to the mindful approach to health and well-being – no gimmicks or supplements, and definitely no restriction or punishment.

What is needed is the willingness to pause, to check in, to feel, to listen, to acknowledge and then learn how to honor those cues. This is the practice of self-care.

The Mindful Approach to Achieving Your Healthy Weight

It is our hope that our daily blogs this week helped you to better grasp and begin to put into practice a different way of being around food, movement and stress management. We encourage you to continue to explore:

  • What the term ‘healthy weight’ means to you. How are you defining success on the road to health and well-being? What are your expectations?
  • How to incorporate the practice of healthy and mindful eating into daily living so that the all-or-nothing or diet mentality approach with food can be surrendered for the experience of enjoying foods and portions that feel right for YOUR body.
  • How to find the ‘middle ground’ with movement so that it feels enjoyable, non-punitive, and is something you look forward to rather than dread. The middle ground with movement is where consistency resides so that next year, you won’t feel like you’re starting all over again. Instead, you’re building on your progress over the past year.
  • How to develop stress management practices that are accessible and manageable in the heat (or loneliness, boredom, frustration, anger) of the moment. Practices such as focused breathing that you can learn how to access in the moment to calm anxiety and external stressors from within, or reaching out for support rather than isolating yourself and suffering alone.

In the end, true self-care is about doing what makes us feel good in the moment, but also takes into consideration the long-term impact.

The good news is that we can access information in the here-and-now in order to to guide us toward bridging that gap between insight and action with self-care.

This process is an imperfect one, so expect to slip-up, fall back, and drop off what you know if in your best interest. It’s not the leaving the practice that’s the issue, but rather noticing you left and having the compassion and awareness to try a different way next time.

This process takes time and support. But it’s a worthwhile quest and like anything, gets easier with practice.

1University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, January 26, 2015.

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