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Episode 75: The Art of Observing Yourself

Weight Loss for Food-Lovers with Molly Zemek

Episode 75


This episode of Weight Loss for Food-Lovers offers a whole new prism through which to look at change. Molly explains how neutrally observing our behaviors is a first step to healing – with neutral being the operative word. Harsh, critical self-talk is anything but helpful when it comes to changing habits.

Because our habits are often completely unconscious, Molly explains that the subtle art of observing ourselves can be very revealing of the thoughts, feelings and ingrained reflexes that fuel them. She explains exactly what she means by “observing” and takes us through some of the pitfalls to avoid while in self-assessment mode.

The first step to unraveling our habits is to sit with ourselves; watch where, when and how we do what we do. It’s not possible to make meaningful change without first gathering this valuable information. Even when we fall off our food plans or otherwise stumble, it’s all useful objective data that can be mined for clues.

It takes time to develop reflexive behaviors, says Molly, and it equally takes time to unlearn them. Molly advises patience and self-compassion. By staying curious and present in the moment, we can spot powerful patterns that do not serve us. Armed with a clearer and more nuanced perspective, we’re in a position to develop meaningful strategies. Strategies based in self-understanding. The kind of strategies that stick!

What are your triggers? Which thoughts and feelings tend to lead you away from your most authentic life? Molly wraps up with a challenge: Think about ways to master the art of observing yourself. It’s a fascinating gateway to self-awareness and, ultimately, long-lasting change.

If you’re interested in the support or accountability a one-on-one coach provides, you can set up a free discovery call with Molly here.

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Topics Covered

  • Habits are often unconscious and therefore hard to recognize, which is why it’s so important to learn the subtle art of observing your “self.”

  • How do habits trick our brains? By seeking out dopamine, the “reward” we get (at least in the short-term) with things like white flour or alcohol or sugar.

  • The first step to unwinding undesirable behaviors is stepping back to understand what’s going on in our conscious and unconscious minds.

  • What “observing” actually means:

    • It means noticing, taking note of the situations, thoughts and feelings that come up when you’re turning to food or alcohol.

    • It means watching yourself with attention to detail in an objective way, assessing and making sense of the facts.

  • Observing is completely different from criticizing or judging. For starters, it’s more compassionate.

  • Molly explains that berating isn’t motivating. Using a harsh, self-reproachful lens doesn’t foster healthy change and often has quite the opposite effect.

  • Negative self-talk itself can be a habit so ingrained that we don’t notice it. Look for ways to interrupt it.

  • Habits that have been practiced over time require time to unlearn, so patience is required to stay in the moment and observe what’s really going on.

  • Things to observe? Your thoughts, feelings, associations with things that trigger or connect to an urge.

  • Approaches to behavior change that are generally counter-productive:

    • Relying on will power and self-denial to white-knuckle through.

    • Using distraction or diversion as a temporary fix.

    • Deciding to give up and give in to an urge, which only to reinforces it.

  • Molly suggests a fourth way to effect behavioral change: The art of observing.

    • Notice feelings and recognize them for what they are: Simply an impulse.

    • Notice thoughts and identify ways in which your brain tries to use them as justification for making choices that don’t serve.

  • Even if you eat or drink something not on your plan, it can be taken as an opportunity to collect data about why you made the choice you did. It’s information:

    • What time of day was it?

    • What were you thinking?

    • Who were some of the people you were around?

    • Was there an emotion, a feeling you were trying to escape?

  • Molly shares ways that your everyday food (or drink) plan can reveal patterns – clues to strategies for anticipating and defusing triggers.

  • Observation is key to understanding your psychic landscape – and developing the relationship with food (or drink) that you’ve always desired and that your most authentic “self” deserves.

Key Quotes

  • “The thing about habits is that they’re usually very unconscious.”

  • “You can’t change what you don’t understand and you can’t understand what you don’t see.”

  • “Every time you reward (your brain) with food or alcohol, that habit becomes more ingrained.”

  • “Being an observer is essentially being objective about what’s happening … looking at the facts and making sense of them.”

  • “There has never been an instance when judging and criticizing yourself leads to long-term success.”

  • “Negative self-talk and being critical towards yourself can very much be a habit in and of itself.”

  • “If you observe what’s happening and really get to the root of the issue, then you truly solve the problem. You don’t just put a Band-aid on it.”

  • “When you’re being an observer you’re just watching your brain, and being curious about it ... You can be a watcher of that emotion of desire.”

  • “Being the observer allows you to not only unravel old habits but also build new ones – a new way of thinking, a new way of feeling, a new relationship with yourself.”

Links & Resources

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