Have you ever tried feeding a two year old? It’s a study in Herculean patience. Having twins, I was doubly “blessed” to partake in this event in stereo on many evenings in my home. Most of the food winds up on the floor, or tossed onto the furniture, or against the walls. Maybe if you’re lucky, 30% is eaten (50% of which by you). You try to beg, plead, cajole, negotiate, entice, tease, demand… yet the answer remains the same… “No”.
When I decided to change my lifestyle, start eating healthier, and shed 35 lbs of unwanted weight, I knew that in addition to committing to my new rigorous fitness regime, I needed to focus a majority of my attention on the foods I ate. It was pretty easy to do when I was making the grocery list, and doing the preparing and cooking. I was utterly in control of the entire food management process. What was more difficult, were the situations where I would be outside the house: at a restaurant, party, or other social setting, and had to choose what I was going to eat. There were many factors against me: the convivial, often celebratory atmosphere, the tempting nature of the foods, most of which would not be allowed to enter my home, and of course, the social pressure of dining in a group. After a few failed attempts, and feeling constantly like I was denying myself, I began to look at the situation a bit differently. Instead of thinking about all of the yummy wonderful things I could be eating, but can’t because I am on a diet, I 1) eliminated the word diet completely from my vocabulary, and 2) approached it from a place of what I wanted to eat, what foods would lead me to my ultimate goal, which is what I wanted more than anything in the world.
This new way of thinking opened up a whole new approach for me. Saying “No”, became a very powerful tool, and it put me in the control position, instead of feeling like I was being controlled by my circumstances. It was a very subtle shift, but one that mentally I feel is critical when embarking on a significant weight loss journey. Rather than looking at the french fries and hearing my “diet” say, “No Susan, you cannot eat that”, I was looking at the french fries and saying “No, I do not want you, I want a flat stomach.”. I was saying “No” much more often than I was saying “Yes” and it made me feel wonderful!
Learning to say “No” also was particularly important during other points of this journey. I would have my workout plan crafted down to the minute, for the entire week, and inevitably something would come up which would tempt me to change my plan. I had to say “No”. Due to my then preschool age children’s school schedule, my chosen time slot to work out was smack in the middle of lunchtime, which automatically exempted me from many social occasions to falter, and to this day I think was a saving grace, especially in the early days.
If you are anything like me, learning to say “No” will not come naturally. I am a people pleaser. Always have been. I want everyone around me to be happy and harmonious - I certainly do not seek conflict. I gravitate towards positive people, energies, and situations. I find myself always wanting to say "Yes", when I am asked. The power of "No”, is something that is eventually weeded out of many of us when we are two year olds. We learn that in order to exist successfully in society, we need to get along, and to go along. What we learn by going through something like a significant weight loss journey, or any other personal transformative journey, be it sickness, addiction, etc, is that saying “No” is not only necessary, but may be the best thing you can do for yourself. We are all faced with toxins daily: be they food, people, relationships, situations… and learning to say “No” empowers you over the issue, creates space in your life to allow the healthy and positive to enter. The funny thing about saying "No", is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So the next time you are faced with something that doesn’t assist you in attaining your healthy goal, or serve your higher purpose, don’t be afraid to throw it up on the walls, off to the side, or down onto the floor. Just say "No".
Photo Credit: HBG Photography