How is everything going? Did you try out the new 80% habit? It’s can be a little tricky, huh?
Just to be clear, this habit is about eating to 80% full. It does not mean that you can only eat 80% of your plate. 80% full could be after your third serving or it could be after only a few bites. Just eat slowly and mindfully and try to sense in to your bodily cues.
Remember, if the only thing you take away from this entire program is learning to eat slowly, mindfully, and to 80% full, you will see more results and be able to maintain them better than most anyone else using different tactics such as dieting and restriction.
And we’re not even talking about the quality of the food you eat yet! There are still no “rules” about “good vs bad” foods or what you can and cannot eat.
Heck yuh! Pretty awesome, right? Just be patient with yourself and truly do your best to form these habits if your goal is weight loss.
Side note. For anyone looking to gain weight or struggling to maintain muscle mass the opposite is true. You are going to want to eat a little more quickly and past 100% full in order to get those extra calories in.
Alright! So, what’s all this talk about bullying??
“Me? A bully? No way, I would never bully anyone,” you might be thinking.
Well, I’m not talking about Trumpn’ other people around. (Too far? Sorry. ;-)) We’re talking about your own self talk. How does that sound? Are they words that an encouraging friend or a wise counselor would say to you? Or does it sound more like that schoolyard bully, full of self-criticism?
Well guess what? If you’re beating yourself up consistently about this and that, then you are likely tracking in the opposite direction of what you are striving for.
“C’mon,” you think. “How am I ever going to get anything done without a little self-criticism?”
Research from neuroscience and psychology shows that people who practice self-compassion get more done and are able to sustain their work better than those who don’t.
So.. what is “self-compassion”
Compassion researchers (yes, there is such a thing) identify three parts to self-compassion:
Self-kindness is — obviously — the act of being kind to yourself.
That doesn’t mean excusing every foolish decision you make, or that anything goes. It means a conscious attitude of kindness — being understanding and nurturing to yourself, instead of harshly critical and judgmental.
A good way to think of self-kindness is to think of being a loving parent or wise counsellor to yourself — you are honest and clear-eyed about your faults and mistakes, but accepting, tolerant, and charitable about them while seeking to do better.
Self-kindness is not self-indulgence or self-destructive pleasure seeking.
When you’re kind to yourself, you don’t huff through a pack of smokes or chug a bottle of tequila after a bad day — you realize that these ultimately don’t nurture your body or spirit. (However, one margarita and some laughs with a good friend might be just what the doctor ordered.)
Instead, you do things that truly make you feel better and help sustain you through the dark periods.
Common humanity means that you realize it’s not “just you” — that everyone has challenges, makes mistakes, and feels down or inadequate in some way, sometimes.
You can see yourself as part of a larger whole, rather than some isolated screwup. (That also helps you avoid the “poor me” pitfall of self-indulgence.)
Mindfulness is a state of non-judgmental, conscious awareness and self-observation.
Compassion vs. other stuff
Here’s a handy table to help you understand the differences between self-compassion and other things that might look like it.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you’re like me and 95% of people in the world, you’re probably self-critical from time to time. And by “from time to time,” I mean “most of the time.”
Maybe you beat up on yourself when you “screw up” or “fail”.
Maybe you often feel anxious or insecure.
Maybe your inner self-talk sounds more like a schoolyard bully.
Maybe you’d describe yourself as a “a perfectionist,” “a control freak,” or “an attention whore.”
Now, some of these qualities might seem helpful. For instance, if you’re a little self-critical, it’ll make you want to do better next time. Right?
Wrong. In fact, self-compassionate people take more responsibility for fixing mistakes than self-criticizers.
Here’s what the research actually shows.
Compared to self-criticizers, people who are more self-compassionate:
perform better and rarely “choke” under pressure; they also feel more personally competent
are more resilient and able to bounce back faster from setbacks
feel less depressed and/or anxious
have better relationships, feel more secure in their interpersonal life, and get along with people more effectively
are more emotionally intelligent and less egocentric
are more satisfied with life
are better able to take risks and be open to new experiences; they aren’t afraid of “failure”
learn, grow, and develop more effectively
are better at providing social support
are psychologically healthier overall
Well, that all sounds pretty awesome.
And there’s more! Here's what the research shows about self-compassion and nutrition clients.
Clients who practice self-compassion while dieting lose more weight and keep it off for longer.
Self-compassion can decrease emotional eating as well as "disinhibition" (i.e. the "F***it!" moment you might feel just before a binge).
Self-compassion helps people accept and seek out their healthy weight and shape, with less shame and negative body image.
Self-compassion can help clients regulate their feelings, which means less stress and distress, which means less impulsive or reactive behavior (i.e. "I couldn't help myself").
If you would like to see where you sit on the self-compassion scale, you can do so by taking this simple test.
Let’s nerd out for a sec and talk some neuroscience.
Can thoughts change physical reality?
Pop quiz: Is it possible for something completely non-physical to affect or change something physical in the real world?
If you subscribe to Newton’s Laws (which seem popular here on earth), you learn early on that the only thing that can affect a physical object is either an external force or another physical object.
OK, hold that idea for a second.
Traditional theories about the brain and nervous systems assumed that they remain structurally fixed throughout life. Then came along this pesky concept of neuroplasticity.
Scientists started proving (with fancy, newfangled technology) that the brain can, in fact, change. Cell structure can change, as can neural mapping. All this helps us accomplish new tasks and form new habits, while erasing old ones.
Alright, that’s kinda cool, but what does that have to do with your current practice of self compassion?
Well, it turns out that our thoughts — whether they’re harsh and bullying, or helpful and compassionate — can actually change the physical structure of our brain.
Want to know how powerful your thoughts are?
Check this out: In a recent study, just thinking and visualizing about strength training led to strength increases of 13 – 53%. Without ever touching a weight.
Yep, that’s how powerful thoughts can be. Especially recurring thoughts, like self-talk.
Sticks and stones
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
We give you permission to find whoever came up with this adage and smack them in the head with every book on neuroplasticity you can find.
(Don’t worry, it shouldn’t hurt them. Books are mostly filled with words.)
The reality is, words can, and will, hurt you. Especially if you continually use hurtful words.
From self-talk to habit
Interestingly, there is evidence to suggest that negative self-talk (which is the opposite of self-compassion) is part of a cycle that stimulates the basal ganglia (in the brain) to release dopamine. Since dopamine leads to habit formation and addiction…that could be a real problem.
You see, your brain not only has the potential to create more negative self-talk from just a little bit. It also can trigger a reward pathway to make you addicted to that negative self-talk!
Remember that cue-routine-reward loop?
If you don’t start practicing self-compassion, you can literally become addicted to bullying and hurting yourself.
Here’s the good news: Neuroplasticity means that the brain is reprogrammable and capable of improving at any time.
By practicing self-compassion, you’re not only helping with the development of new, lasting practices, you're also rewiring the brain for even more success in the future.
Putting it into practice
Okay, try this exercise. Grab a pen and paper.
Think of ways you use self-criticism as a motivator.
Identify and write down any personal trait you criticize yourself for because you think being hard on yourself will help you change (lazy, moody, overweight, bad breath, anything).
What is the emotional pain that self-criticism causes? How does it make you feel? Write that down.
Next, what language would a wise, nurturing friend, parent, teacher or mentor use to show you this behavior is unproductive while encouraging you to try something different? Say that out loud right now. If you can’t say it out loud, think it, word by word. Write it down if you wish.
What is the most supportive message you can think of that aligns with your desire to be healthy and happy? Speak it aloud now. Again, if you can’t speak it, think it, slowly and deliberately. Write this down if you wish.
From this point forward, every time you catch yourself being critical of your unwanted trait, notice and name the pain it creates in you. Replace it with the compassion for yourself you just identified.
Reframe the inner dialogue to something more supportive and encouraging.
Check this video out for an extraordinary explanation of neuroplasticity; how are brains are changeable, adaptable, and malleable.
This could be the single most important change in our understanding of the human brain in the last 400 years!
If you are in a hurry and just want to hear about some of the ways scientists have used this in order to completely transform people’s lives (I’m talking about literally helping the blind see, completely curing learning disabilities, etc) then fast forward to 5:17.
You seriously don’t want to miss this. We are so blessed to live in the time we do.
That’s some powerful stuff, right?!
You are doing awesome, *|FNAME|*. Keep up the good work.
Believe in yourself, that you are capable, because you are. And no more bullying!!
In all sincerity,