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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #3: Happy Valentine's Day!

Show Notes

February 22, 2022

Start to question: What are the most loving things you can do for yourself?


Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, episode number three. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hi everyone. Well, this last Monday was Valentine's Day and I want to take some time to reflect on how we think about the holidays in the context of our weight loss journeys. It is so common in our society and in our family and friend groups that we have beliefs about what should happen on a certain holiday. Oftentimes our belief may be centered around food. So with Valentine's Day often you might go out to a fancy dinner or expect a box of chocolates. For the 4th of July you might have a big family barbecue. For Thanksgiving, you have a Turkey feast with all your family and friends. In December, it's filled with holiday parties for Christmas or Hanukkah and all of the end-of-the-year celebrations. And these of course, are just really vague examples, but you may actually take some time and sit down and think about the big events or holidays in your life and what beliefs you have about those events, specifically the beliefs that you have around food because it is so common that we have these really deep-rooted beliefs about their foods or foods and their importance in different events in our lives. So let me give you an example. I love chocolate. Like I totally and completely love chocolate, and I used to have a really unhealthy relationship with chocolate, by which I felt totally powerless around it. Um, like set a bag of dark chocolate M&Ms in front of me and half of that bag would be gone before I even realized it. And you know, I'm not talking about like that little bag you get at the grocery store checkout line. I'm talking about the big bag that you'd buy like in the aisle of the grocery store. You'd put it in a candy dish or share it with other people like nothing. I could just eat half that bag, maybe even the whole bag. And I grew up Catholic and one thing I would often do was give up chocolate for Lent every year when I was a child and adolescent. Then Easter would finally come and after 40 days of not eating chocolate, I would spend all of Easter Day eating chocolate after chocolate. And if you asked any of my family members, they can attest to what a total and complete chocaholic I used to be. I even remember my aunt came over for Easter one year and she made a comment like, "Oh my gosh, Sarah, you're eating so much chocolate." She was really shocked by the amount of chocolate that I consumed that day. And the funny thing is I probably ate more chocolate on one day than if I had just eaten it as usual for the previous 40 days. And I had developed this belief about what chocolate was like. In my mind, it was so delicious. And I also had a belief like when I was feeling stressed or emotional like chocolate can fix anything. And that quick hit of sugar, which led to the dopamine surge in my brain, had me feeling just totally powerless around chocolate. So it's funny, I had a realization that people felt differently. When I was in high school. I worked as a pharmacy technician at CVS Pharmacy and one day at work, I don't even remember what holiday it was, but some major holiday had just passed and all of the candy was 50% off sale. And as an employee we got another 10% off of that. And I remember buying like 10 bags of chocolate on break that day. I mean, it was such a good deal, , and I loved chocolate, so it was a win-win. And one of my colleagues also bought a bag of chocolate, just one bag. And she and I sat together in the break room and I was totally devouring my chocolate while she had just one piece. And she commented offhandedly that this bag of chocolate would last her six months. And it's so funny because I remember being just totally and completely blown away by that comment. I literally can't even remember her name. We weren't friends, we didn't have a strong relationship with one another. But I remember that moment and her comment like it was yesterday, and she wasn't saying it as any sort of insult to me or anything like that. She was really just making a comment about what the bag of chocolate meant to her. And for the first time, it dawned on me like, of course some people would feel that way. I'm sure plenty of people in my life did not feel completely powerless around chocolate, but no one had ever expressed it in such a clear way to me before. And as I'm telling this story, you might be thinking about something in your own life that you feel totally powerless around and it's important to stop and really think about that you have developed a deep and ingrained belief about what that thing means in your life. And you've created a whole story around importance. But the reality is those are just stories. They're not facts at all. It's your thoughts and your beliefs. And the good news is, is that when we really start to question and challenge our thoughts and beliefs, we can adapt them to serve us. So for the longest time, it had been hard for me to see that chocolate was a problem because by and large it didn't actually cause me any problems. I, at the time,, was a long-distance runner so I could easily burn off the calories with a five-mile run. It never caused me any physical discomfort. Usually, I would have a handful of pieces, rarely if ever did I eat it to the point of physical discomfort. But it was the realization that I felt totally powerless around chocolate that really resonated with me. And contrasting myself with my colleague at work made me realize that not everyone felt powerless around chocolate and I really didn't like feeling powerless. So I stopped and really reflected on how I wanted to feel around chocolate. And I realized that instead I wanted to feel powerful and in control. And from a place of wanting to feel in control of my body, I started to pay attention to what thoughts allowed me to feel this way. I realized I could actually have chocolate whenever I wanted to. Truly like I could drive to the store and buy a bag of chocolate right now if I wanted to, I could visit the local candy store and buy the most delicious confection they have whenever I want. And interestingly, realizing that I always could made me realize that I never felt like I had to. I also realized that giving up chocolate for Lent didn't serve me. Telling myself for 40 days that I couldn't have something ended up building up this extreme desire that far surpassed the usual desire I would've ever had. And as soon as I felt like I couldn't have something, my primitive brain was rebelling and just wanting it more and more. And by the time Easter came and I could have finally eat all the chocolate, all of that suppressed desire just came flooding out. I also realized a lot of the chocolate wasn't actually that good. The chocolate that I was overeating was not some chocolate from a fine chocolatier. I was overeating store-bought brands like Hershey's and Mars brands, stuff that like isn't actually that good. And if I was going to eat something, I it to be high quality and I wanted to really savor it. So I can reflect back on this now, but this wasn't just like an instant and my life changed. This work took me years. There were times that I was very intentional about it. There were times where I was not, there were times I felt like I was in power, and then other times that I slipped back into that feeling of powerlessness. But when I had those slipups, I paid attention to why I didn't beat myself up and instead use them as a learning experience. And now in my mid-thirties, I can finally tell you that I am totally in control around chocolate. I can literally keep a bag of chocolate in my house for six months maybe unless my toddler gets to it. But I still really love it. I just don't feel that over-desire for it anymore. And I feel like I am in charge. And I promise you, you can feel that way too about anything. In order to do this work, you have to start by questioning your beliefs and choosing what served your body. And as you reflect on Valentine's Day, I want you to reflect on what are the most loving things you can do for yourself. My husband is a powerlifter and he really admires Stan Efferding. He listens to a lot of his tips about nutrition and powerlifting. And before you go and Google Stan Efferding, unless you are also a powerlifter, his diet plan is not likely to serve you. It's a serious amount of red meat and white rice. But the one thing I totally love is that he says, rather than choosing foods I like, I choose foods that like me. And as a powerlifter, he's learned what he needs to have and what he needs to eat in order to have success and to feel good. And so I want the same thing for you. I want you to choose foods that love your body. Please don't hear me wrong. I do not want you to choke down any food that you hate eating. You can and should enjoy your food and it should also feel good after you eat it. So pay attention. How do you feel after you eat something both physically and emotionally? Do you feel good or do you ever feel bloated? Get a headache, get heartburn? Are the foods that you're choosing and the drinks that you're choosing, serving the goals that you have for yourself? Are you treating your body in the most loving way possible? What does it look like for someone to love their body? What sort of foods and drinks does a person who love themselves choose to ingest? Do you feel like you're always in control? Or do you feel like there are foods or drinks that have control over you? If you want to get serious about this type of thought work, pause the podcast and play those questions again. Write them down, write down your answers. Write down anything that comes in mind and then really look at it. Do you like your answers? Because you're an adult, you can choose to do whatever you do or don't want to do in your life. No one has the power but you. And so if you like your answers, do you like your why? That's what's important. If you don't, it's time to do some brainstorming and start to question and challenge the beliefs you have. This deep thought work can lead to lasting changes. As we reflect back on Valentine's Day, think about the beliefs you have about the holiday. Does it mean dinner out with a fancy box of chocolates or does it mean spending time and celebrating with your loved ones? Question the role that you allow food to play and the meaning that you assign to it. And please, please don't get me wrong, you can totally go out to dinner with your significant other. That's what my husband and I did last weekend. But for us, dinner has a meaning about spending time together, enjoying each other's company. We were trying a new restaurant. It wasn't about overindulging foods that didn't serve our bodies. And so understand not just what you were doing, but why you were doing it. Alright everyone, that is it for this week's episode. Hopefully, I've gotten a lot of you thinking. Please leave me your comments, questions, reviews, wherever you subscribe to this podcast. And I can't wait to talk with you next week. Take care.
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