Updated: Nov 20, 2018
PART FOUR OF FOUR
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4) Fill yourself up before your tank hits empty.
As you've probably started to realize, cravings are like icebergs, well the part you can see anyways. There's a whole lot more going on under the surface. Which is why fighting the tip of the iceberg is so pointless. When you focus only on the part you can see, you aren't doing anything to chip away at the enormous mass of frozen ice that is the bedrock of that dang craving at its core. What we must do, then, is soften up that frozen foundation with some tender love and care. Only then can we even hope that our patterns might start to shift. Or melt, if you're still going with the iceberg analogy.
Think about it. And if you've followed any of the steps above, then you have. Cravings tend to hit when we're on low. When we're feeling bored, anxious, depressed, burned out, exhausted, hungry, restless, uneasy, lonely, overwhelmed, empty. I could go on, but you know what I mean. Cravings rarely get the better of us when we're all full up on good food, good love, good creativity, good confidence, and good energy. Right?
Think about a wee toddler in the throws of a tantrum at the grocery store or the bank over the color of one of those DumDum suckers. We all know that the tantrum is most likely not a result of her getting the orange one rather than the red one, even though she'd insist upon it until she couldn't scream any louder or thrash her little body any longer. We all know that the tantrum is a result of the backstory. What led up to it? Is she overtired? Under-nourished? Perhaps she just needed a good long hug and some much needed attention of the loving kind earlier in the day rather than the rushing from one errand to the next to the next.
It's a puzzle, to be sure. But one we, as parents, are highly motivated to figure out so as to avoid the embarrassment and public shaming another tantrum would surely bring. So we begin to cover all of our bases. We fill her up on good rest and good food and good love. We give her the tools she needs to monitor herself and empower herself in times of frustration. We are proactive instead of reactive in the hopes we can avoid the tantrum all together the next time around. Thank goodness for tantrums right? They keep us motivated to better care for our little ones!
And this is what I want you to want for you. Be proactive for yourself. Even more so, be motivated to be proactive for yourself. As you become determined to unearth the root causes that lead up to your cravings, you will learn to recognize them coming from a mile away. That's plenty of time for you to fill your tank up on the good stuff before they even get the chance to rear their ugly heads. Instead of being disciplined about avoiding your craving, shift your focus. Become disciplined about taking care of yourself before you even have to fight the great battle of the cravings.
Example? Let's say you consistently fall into junk-food mode every afternoon when your kids get home from school. They're hungry and tired. You're probably hungry and tired too, thinking about all the homework, dinner preparations, dishes, and bed time routines coming your way. Not to mention all the to-do list activities you wanted to finish before they got home that now must wait until tomorrow. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
What can be done? You’re stuck. You love indulging in some well-deserved treats since you’ve been going non-stop since breakfast, not to mention you totally need something to look forward to that will break up your day even just a little bit. Plus, enjoying food with the kids is a great way to squeeze in some good quality time, right? But you eat one chip or cookie or bite of mac’n’cheese, and the next thing you know it’s almost dinner time and you aren’t that hungry what with all the snacking in which you never really stopped partaking. And now you feel guilty and weak and bloated and lethargic.
So you stumble through a quick supper that might just as well be more an extension of the snacks from earlier than a lovingly prepared family meal. Everybody finally to bed after some cranky exchanges and flaring tempers, you flop down on the couch wondering where the time went, feeling unsatisfied, impatient, and mildly hungry. A bowl of ice cream can’t hurt, and a little show that keeps you up later than you’d planned. Then off to bed for you too, just in time to get less sleep than you should in preparation to do it all over again tomorrow. Sounds pretty defeating doesn't it? How can you ever hope to get grounded in the midst of this kind of day?
Fill yourself up. For starters, how about an hour before the kids get home, change up your routine. Leave work five minutes early and stop at the park to breathe in some fresh air. Take off your shoes and feel the grass between your toes. Or, make a cup of hot tea for yourself and sit down on the couch in a warm blanket for 10 minutes. Or, prepare a simple meal using last night's leftovers, and eat quietly by yourself until you feel satisfied. And if you really want to make some waves? Journal for 20 minutes about how the rest of your day is going to play out, spend 30 minutes getting dinner prepped while you sing to your favorite music at the top of your lungs, or create an over-the-top decadent mid-afternoon dessert for yourself that makes you feel truly special (one that gives you a reason to slow down and enjoy every last bite).
I'm willing to bet you that when your kids get home, you will feel 100 times more grounded, more creative, more resilient, and more confident in your body and your mind than if you had left yourself on empty. You might still enjoy a cookie with your kids, but you'll have the space to realize that you can share just one instead of eating the whole bag. When you have access to all of your faculties, you also have access to all of your choices. Congratulations, you've just befriended your afternoon sugar-binge, invited it in, asked it some questions, and then used it to fill yourself up with more of what you really needed in the first place. And with an open mind you will have the energy you need to stay focused on getting those puzzle pieces set just so.
And that, my friend, is your four-step process to loving your cravings for the clues they provide and the direction they give. The moral of the story? Make time for yourself first, above all else, and you will reap the rewards of health from this point forward, slow and steady style.
Oh, and one more teensy weensy thing: These steps will never officially be "done." You are not a static being, and neither are the thoughts and feelings that make up you. Every 90 second pause you take will be a different 90 seconds. Every craving that you have will come from a different set of circumstances, and every pattern you uncover will open up new roads worth exploring. And all of this is OK. You are NOT trying to to solve all your "problems," or to find all the answers. You are experimenting and learning. You are noticing that you are made up of way more than meets the eye. And you are in control of all of it. And that is a very good thing. A very empowering thing indeed.
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Here's to putting our healthiest selves first more and more often, as we connect more deeply and honestly with our inner power and passion!
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