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Cookies or Yoga? How Mindful Eating Has Changed My Life

By Rebecca Johnson

When I began thinking about this first post, I felt a little intimidated-not because I didn’t think I would have enough to say, but rather the opposite. I have SO MUCH to say about the power of mindful eating that I was concerned about whether I’d be able to share it in a way that didn’t seem soap box-y or too pushy. I also wondered, Who cares about my perspective and experiences? Will I be able to write in that witty, intelligent but succinct way to keep people engaged in this age of information overload? And if I want to do this regularly, where am I going to find the time?

The overwhelm and worry triggered the little voice in my head (the old one that still sometimes tries to sabotage me): Forget all that. Just go see what’s in the cupboard to snack on. I wasn’t even remotely hungry at that moment but the idea of inhaling a sugary snack seemed a lot more pleasurable than being stuck in my own emotional muck.

yoga centering hand poseI immediately recognized that I was simply experiencing an impulse to seek pleasure to temporarily overshadow my internal discomfort. I took a deep breath and asked myself, What do I really need right now? What would make me feel better? After a few more deep breaths, the answer became clear as the other little voice in my head (the one that wants the best for me) said, Go do some Yoga. Now. My supportive little voice has grown over the years so she is louder and more persistent than my self-defeating little voice. She won the show-down and I followed her instructions.

Twenty minutes later, I emerged from a short yoga practice in a completely new inner state: calm, clear, confident-and free from the regret, over-fullness, and the mental lethargy that I would have experienced if I’d chosen to shovel in cookies instead. I suddenly realized that this experience was a perfect example of why I needed to write this post and the others that will follow.

Without Am I Hungry?® and the lessons I’ve learned about mindful eating since my introduction to it seven years ago, I would have inevitably chosen the cookies over yoga, followed by feeling guilty and disgusted with myself. I would have vowed to do extra exercise and “be good” with food tomorrow to make up for my excess today. Of course, tomorrow I would have faced another trigger that I didn’t know how to handle and responded with food again. I would have continued to repeat that cycle day after day… like so many millions of others still do.

This blog is about mindful eating in the workplace, but I decided to share this story first because my personal experiences set the foundation for the work I now do in the corporate wellness arena. After years of struggling with and then trying to heal myself from my food and weight issues, I finally (and fortunately) bumped into Am I Hungry? I closed the gap between where I was, living my life with the ball-and-chain of food and weight worries, to where I desperately wanted to be-free.

It is the practice of mindful eating, and mindfulness in general, that has literally changed my life and the lives of so many others.

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About the author

Rebecca Johnson is a leader in the health promotion industry with more than 20 years of experience in diverse roles. She is a licensed Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program Facilitator and Coach and advocates for the use of mindfulness-based and weight-neutral programs in the workplace. Rebecca also serves as a consultant for organizations ready to leverage the power of organizational development and employee wellbeing to create truly thriving cultures.

2 Comments

  1. Shashank Durgvanshi says:

    Since 2 years I was trying to figure out the solution to all my problems . Doing deep observations led me to this cause chain :

    External Problems <- Internal Problems <- Absence of Yoga <- Absence of routine <- Waking up late in the morning <- Faulty Body Clock <- Faulty Food

    So the solution started with food as food is what my body and thoughts are …
    Since the realisation I left all sorts of non-veg stuff , egg stuff , fried stuff … which made me so calm and focused . Now today I made another decision . Avoiding Dinner and Having super heavy breakfast ! Hope everything goes alright 🙂

    • Your cause chain is so insightful! Recognizing the underlying driver(s) is imminently more effective than simply focusing on what you eat. It will be interesting to see what happens with skipping dinner; that seems like a lot time to go without food. You’ll know because you’ll feel hungry!

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