If you’ve been around the block a few times with various health and fitness plans and always end up at square one, by regaining the weight you lost and needing to repeat the process, you may be getting worn out. I know, I’ve been there too.
We can keep doing what we’re doing (restrictive diet and gain back the weight) or we can cultivate a more effective, everlasting tool, which is self-awareness. I know the concept sounds super simple, however, it’s so simple it often gets overlooked.
The caveat here is that we first need to fully understand and have a good grasp of what it takes to be self-aware and then practice it daily, moment to moment until we master the skill.
When mastered, being aware of ourselves, from moment to moment becomes something we do unconsciously and instinctively, mostly without effort and mostly without thinking.
My experience of living with a Frenchman in France for many years gave me great insight into the French culture or ‘way of being’ and I can honestly say it changed me. The French, as a culture, are very self-aware. They develop discernment from very young age. The internal dialogue of ‘is this a yes for me or is this a no for me?’ gets pondered internally, sometimes at length, especially when it comes to food decisions.
The version of me prior to living in France, was a different person. Growing up in Australia and America, I was more or less disconnected from my body and oblivious to my behavior around food. I was also a chronic people pleaser, so I didn’t like to decline an offer of food, afraid I might offend someone.
Often we are mindless and unaware of why, when, what and how much we are eating because we simply don’t pay attention. If we didn’t have the behavior modeled for us, it’s something we don’t really get taught. Unless through observation, which is how I learned.
We live in a mindless eating world with food prompts at every corner. In fact, food marketers actively encourage us to eat their ultra-processed food and drinks anytime, anywhere. And when we grow up in a household of chaotic eating and a scarcity approach to food (finish everything on your plate and don’t waste food), it’s easy to gain weight, without self-awareness of our own behavior.
Depending on how we grew up, most of us have work to do to untangle ourselves from these deeply ingrained beliefs and habits.
Lacking self-awareness is a big reason I struggled with my weight. I knew what a healthy meal consisted of, my main hurdle was having the ability to slow down and let the sense of satiety register and to stop snacking unconsciously.
For improved self-awareness, we aim to be the observer of ourselves, without judgement. It’s really important not to judge ourselves and remain neutral because we don’t need the psychological stress of self judgement.
Gentle self-observation can help us repair damage done by stress, and reshape our brains in a way that makes us better able to regulate emotions, without needing to turn to food.
The next time you’re about to reach for the oversized bag of potato chips, imagine you’re watching yourself on a movie screen. By stepping outside of a situation before reacting to the impulse, you’ll gain an instant, calming sense of perspective rather than getting caught up in the moment.
When we zoom out and learn to observe ourselves and our behavior objectively, we realize that we always have choices and that, whether we like to admit it to ourselves or not, but we chose to eat when we weren’t hungry. This is the power of self-awareness. Self-observation empowers us, whereas a rigid diet plan can eventually make us feel like disempowered failures.
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G'day. Welcome to my blog, where I write about mindful eating. My name is Sally Asher and I'm a wellness author of three books. I hold a Health Science degree and have a passion for behavioral change. I live between South Florida and Melbourne with my husband and two teenagers. My husband and I run a real estate investment company. I love to help people eat mindfully and reconnect with the innate, intuitive sense of eating that we are all born with.