Support is vital to any endeavour – it is very hard to go it alone. Having said that, I was a successful secret dieter for over 20 years! Successful in that every diet worked really well and I lost all the weight I’d gained since the last diet, secret because I never told anyone I was dieting – but it did mean I missed out on support.
One of the reasons for my secrecy was that the sort of support that dieters are offered is precisely the sort of support I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be publically weighed and praised or scolded depending on the number on the scales. I didn’t want people to notice every mouthful I ate and question whether I ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be eating that. I didn’t want people to make comments like, ‘You’ll look better in that once you’ve lost all the weight’.
These scenarios I would not have found supportive at all. I don’t have much of an inner rebel but those sorts of comments and situations might well have made it rear up and derail my progress.
So, when I gave up dieting and started working with the Beyond Chocolate principles, I was interested to see one of them is ‘Support Yourself‘. The focus of this principle is on each of us seeking out the support which would be beneficial to us – remembering that each of us is individual and that what support one person needs may well be very different to the support another person needs.
Immerse yourself in the approach
For me, in the early stages of my Beyond Chocolate explorations, support meant training to be a Chocolate Fairy (aka facilitator) – which gave me unparalleled access to Sophie and Audrey Boss, and a group of women, all on the same journey as me, as sisters-in-training. The work we did together over the time we spent on our training was an intensive immersion into the Beyond Chocolate and, arguably, one of the most valuable things I’ve ever done for myself in my life.
I was lucky to be fast-tracked through the learning process and to discover support of a depth and understanding and acceptance I would never have been offered on any diet.
What about those of you not lucky enough to have this wonderful experience? What could immersing yourself in it look like for you? Reading bits of the book every day? Doing the online course a lesson at a time?
Read stuff that supports what you’re doing
Start by being very aware of how much negativity there is around food and body image in the media and in society in general and refusing to take part in it. Choosing not to engage with this negativity is very self-supportive. One thing I did was to stop buying magazines which print ridiculous articles like, ‘drop a dress size in a week’. This is not healthy or even possible. Instead, I seek out magazines and articles which are not focused on diet, weight loss, negative body image and which publish interesting articles I can learn something from. Check out: www.standardissuemagazine.com or www.the-pool.com and if you find any more, do let us know!
Hang out with like minded people
It really really helps to surround yourself with people who are positive about food and body image. This is not 100% possible, of course – especially if we work with other people who are negatively obsessed with food and body image. The Beyond Chocolate on-line community is one of the best sources of support and affirmation you could hope to find anywhere – do join the Facebook group and reach out to all the other women who are on the same journey as you and who really do understand, really will empathise and really will offer great, supportive advice.
Stop being horrible to yourself
Become aware of how you talk to yourself about your food intake and your body. How much of your internal talk is negative? I used to look in the bathroom mirror every morning and sigh in disappointment that I hadn’t somehow morphed into an Elle McPherson look-alike while I slept. Looking back now, I can see how negative a start to the day this was and how ridiculous it was to think that would ever happen, but at the time I would start every day disappointed with myself and that is not supportive. Now I make sure that I celebrate my successes, however small – every time I don’t eat when I’m not actually hungry, every time I stop eating because I’m satisfied, every time I go out of my way to procure something I really want to eat instead of putting up with something I happen to have, every time I move and enjoy it. It’s really worth focusing on the positive rather than constantly noticing the negative and gradually that will become a way of life and a much more supportive one too!
Finally, take action. If you do nothing then nothing will change. Expecting things to change without taking any steps to secure that change is pointless too. Taking action can be as simple as pledging to do one thing each day – perhaps put one meal on a plate, sit down and really focus on it. Perhaps walk to the corner shop instead of taking the car. Perhaps posting a question on the Beyond Chocolate Facebook page. Perhaps tuning in, just once and seeing what information that gives you. Perhaps going a bit further at lunch time to get some food you really want, or packing up a really tasty meal for yourself from home. These are all small, do-able, cumulative supportive things you could do.
Oh and do take each principle one at a time, starting with the ones which sound the most possible within your life – consider avoiding the ones which are going to take more effort to engage with at first – there is plenty of time to bring them in later.
Whatever it looks like for you – Support Yourself on your Beyond Chocolate journey; it will make all the difference!