The last time you took a vacation, it’s likely that two of the many questions you asked yourself were, “Where am I going?” and “How will I get there?” In my last post, I mentioned setting an intention and using manageable steps to follow through with your mindful eating practice.
Where am I going?
Am I Hungry? Founder, Michelle May, introduced me to setting an intention in my first Am I Hungry?Mindful Eating Training years ago. It is a powerful tool in developing mindfulness with your eating that essentially asks the question, “Where am I going?” It’s the guide that points you in the direction you want to go. She introduced the idea by asking:
How do you want to feel when you’re done eating?
In all of my dieting days, never once did I ask myself how I felt or how I wanted to feel. That wasn’t the point! Blindly following the rules was the directive I used to follow, which was the complete opposite of noticing or understanding my feelings or how I felt in my body. As I learned each Am I Hungry? tool and practiced each skill, beginning with setting an intention for how I wanted to feel when I was done, eating became more instinctive. Over time I began to feel in charge of my responses, instead of reacting to the urges and cravings that led me to food without thinking. I experienced decision-making: Will I eat? Will I do something else with my time until I am physically hungry? Or, will I get curious and work on the underlying meaning of my food cravings? All of these are legitimate options; the point is to consciously choose instead of mindlessly repeating past habits.
How will I get there?
Another aspect of this work is using manageable steps; in other words, “How will I get there?” Rather than giving up because it feels too different, taking steps that feel comfortable to me is how I get where I want to go. Mindful eating is a process that becomes easier and more natural as you practice. Picture numerous small, manageable steps in the process, rather than being subjected to the all or nothing mindset that distorts change into one gigantic, unmanageable step!
As you embark on any part of an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, check in to see how your body is feeling about it. Your gut is exquisitely sensitive and will let you know if you’re plowing ahead even though a part of you isn’t fully on board with the plan. Where you feel it in your body is different for each person and depends on the context. It may be located in your stomach, heart, throat, head, or elsewhere; any discomfort is a signal that the step may be too big. If we are not mindful, we may automatically interpret the discomfort as a signal that we’re going the wrong way so our mind says, “This isn’t going to work!” and we feel frustration, hopelessness, anger, or shame. Instead of giving up, try breaking the steps down into smaller, more manageable “bites.” You may find that your gut eases up and your thoughts and feelings return to curiosity and interest about your journey with mindful eating.
Enjoy the ride!
The beauty of the skills you learn in any Am I Hungry? program is that you will notice yourself using them beyond your relationship with food. It makes sense: When you learn skills that help you develop a better relationship with food, those skills will also apply to other relationships in your life.
Your turn: How would setting an intention and using manageable steps be useful in other areas of your life?