When it comes to overeating, we all have individual triggers based on all kinds of circumstances and personal history. This episode of Weight Loss for Food-Lovers focuses on one particular trigger that Molly has noticed comes up for many of her clients: Fatigue.
When it comes to feeling drained, the first order of business is to decouple the physical from the emotional. We sometimes feel exhausted in our bodies not because of something physiological but because we’re overwhelmed emotionally. It’s important to distinguish between the two and understand the difference.
Fatigue is a deal-breaker on multiple levels when it comes to weight loss. It weakens our resolve and creates free-floating desire. Lack of sleep can also interfere hormonally, affecting us biochemically and making it harder to shed pounds. An imbalanced body will start sending signals – and it’s up to us to parse what they are and not mindlessly follow the wrong cues.
Eating is an easy go-to when we’re feeling swamped. Whether the stress is emotional or physical, our bodies and primitive brain associate food with a quick fix. Thus, the urges appear – mistakenly telling us that a little hit of energy, the reward of dopamine, is all we need to feel better. But remember: We decide what to eat and when.
Molly explains not only how to inventory our urges and identify their root causes, but also helps us understand that it’s okay to feel hungry. We don’t necessarily have to react. No benefit derives from eating when we don’t need to. There are great tactics you can put in place to be at the ready when fatigue and the impulse to eat take hold. Tune in, because Molly’s got the plan!
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Molly takes on something that triggers lots of us: Fatigue.
Mental and physical exhaustion are often conflated, obscuring the emotional nuances that often wind up driving our thoughts and decisions.
It’s important to differentiate between physical and emotional fatigue in order to determine your best response.
To consider when dealing with Physical Fatigue:
What stops me from resting or taking a nap?
Why am I not giving my body the replenishment it needs?
Why do I believe that I need something to eat right now?
Are you thinking you’re lazy if you take a rest? Not productive enough?
There are times when you just need to stop and take a break.
When your brain is signaling physical exhaustion, it’s telling you what it needs.
It’s easy to imagine that eating will give you the energy you’re lacking, but the truth is that if you give your body food when what it needs is rest, it’s simply just overeating.
Eating instead of resting perpetuates an urge cycle that ignores what the body is actually telling you.
To consider when dealing with Emotional Fatigue:
Take a moment to detect what the feeling beneath the fatigue might actually be. Overwhelmed? Drained? Stressed?
If these are the emotions you’re experiencing, the work isn’t to take a nap so much as to notice the feelings, identify and process them.
Be present. Notice the vibration. Sit with the feelings, then recognize that you can let them go.
Feelings of stress or overwhelm serve no purpose and solve nothing. So the task is to identify and acknowledge them – then move on to controlling what you can control.
Ask yourself: What do I have control over? If I knew how to figure this out, what would I be doing next? If I knew a way to find out information, what would that look like?
Another strategy is to remind yourself, calmly, that everything is “well enough” right now. Let your body and mind know: I have what I need.
The reason we have more urges when mentally or physically tired? Our bodies and primitive brain believe that food is the easiest way to get relief.
If you’re not getting adequate rest, don’t be surprised if you feel abnormally hungry. Have a strategy to fight back! Here are a couple of thoughts:
Stock your pantry with good foods so you’re not tempted to go with an unhealthy choice.
Commit to taking the break that you need to protect your mental focus.
Consider making an early bedtime non-negotiable.
Notice if you’re over-exercising, which can perpetuate rather than ameliorate stress or overeating.
Tell yourself how you’re feeling at any given moment so you can stop spinning and step away from it.
Don’t let fatigue – emotional or physical – tell you what to eat. You’re in the driver’s seat!
“It’s really important that you distinguish between physical exhaustion and emotional exhaustion.”
“When you’re feeling powerless around what’s going on in your life, it’s likely that you’re also going to feel out of control around food.”
“Sometimes the most productive, most helpful thing you can do for yourself at any given moment is to sit down and rest, connect and listen to your body.”
“Eating to give yourself energy when you don’t need more food only reinforces the practice of eating instead of resting when you’re tired … and that’s going to perpetuate the urge cycle.”
“Even when things are hard and difficult, usually we’re in a good enough position to take care of ourselves and have adequate resources to do that.”
“Hunger by itself is not always an indication that you need more food.”
“Anticipating and imagining the future is not going to get you anywhere if you’re doing it in a negative way. You have no control over what will happen. And if you’re going to imagine the future, why not imagine a best-case scenario?”
Links & Resources
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