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  • Writer's pictureludmilawoodruff

Compassionate weight loss for busy moms, changing “I am fat” to “I am enough” as your motivator.

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

I have been a mom for almost nine years, and this has been the most amazing and most challenging role of my life. Like many moms I have found myself confused about who I am, challenged by a major identity shift that occurred when I became responsible for the survival of my first born. No one really prepares us for the emotional, mental and physical challenges (and wonders!) of motherhood.  In mainstream messaging it is difficult to find the message of struggle that is so often a part of motherhood.

In the first years of motherhood I found myself hiding in the pantry eating whatever I could find to give myself a feeling of ‘false release’ from exhaustion, stress, and feeling that I am failing in some way. I have heard similar stories from so many women. 

*Restrictions and an all-or-nothing approach is not sustainable

When we finally get to the point that we want to lose the extra weight, we usually want to go “all-in” and get there fast, the faster the better please. This is how we get trapped in keto, no-sugar, no-carb, no-wine, or no-breakfast “ever again”. When you hear yourself saying something along the lines of “Starting tomorrow I will never eat __ again”, then you know you are in trouble. The best gift you can give yourself is an understanding that you are changing your habits because you deserve it and you want to be at peace with yourself. We go to war with food and our bodies so often and there are so many victims left behind on the invisible fields with mothers who feel overwhelmed, drained, and have given up on themselves in some way. 

Ask yourself these questions:

@ How do I want to feel in my body and my life every day?

@ Why is it important to have energy and thrive in my life? 

@ What am I missing out on if I keep eating or drinking because of my emotions?

@ How will my every day change if I commit to a new life-style?

*You ARE Enough

You will never be successful if you keep saying that you are a failure or that you are fat. Would you speak this way to your children? Or your husband? Never. But we as women and as mothers are so hard on ourselves that we question our “enoughness” like there is a test we have to pass to finally arrive at it. Instead, I encourage you to give yourself the permission to know that you are already enough. You are good enough as you are. You are good enough even if you are not at the weight you want to be. You are a good enough human. I tell my clients to repeat these affirmations every time they hear that whisper of their mean inner voice. If you change your internal dialogue, you will change your relationship to yourself.  

*Exercise & Movement

I discourage you to look at exercise as punishment for extra weight that you want to lose. So many times I’ve heard from the moms with whom I work, “I was not good, I ate too much. I have to exercise harder”.  I’ve met so many women who tell me, “If I do not sweat and get out of breath, I do not feel I exercised”.  Movement is life, just like your breath. Find the kind of movement that brings you joy and implement that into your daily routine. If you like weights, then do that.  If you love biking then you can do that indoors or outdoors with your family.  If you love yoga, stop waiting for the perfect moment and dive in. Even walking does wonders for our physical body, as well as our emotional and mental body. Start experimenting and start with even just 10 minutes each day, and later add as much as works for you. 

*Be Compassionate

Every time we make an attempt to change our behaviors and habits we are faced with fear. Fear of failure, fear we are not sufficiently capable, fear of not having what it takes. When we start changing the way we eat, and we start looking and working through the emotions that led us to overeating and overdrinking, it can get really uncomfortable. You hear it so many times “I need wine to relax. I just need some ice cream because it was a hard day. I deserve to treat myself”. Those statements seem so logical but if I asked you how else you relax, wind down or celebrate yourself, you would have to take some time to come up with an answer.  When you make a meal plan and you eat off the plan, instead of beating yourself up, use self-compassion. Thoughts like these: “I am so bad, I knew I would fail, I do it every time… I am too weak… I fell of the wagon (which wagon???)”; these will keep you stuck in a viscous cycle. 

Try instead:

@ Curiosity: why did I eat or drink more than I needed? Was I bored, frustrated, what was happening around me at the time?

@ Reassure yourself that eating for energy and not for emotional comfort takes time.

@ Remind yourself that you have all the time you need and you can be committed and patient with this journey.

*Learn to affirm yourself & celebrate your wins

Do not wait for acknowledgment from your environment and the people you care about. Of course, it is always a wonderful gift to hear “You look great! You are taking such a good care of yourself”. But what I have learned is that the most important voice of acknowledgment is your own. I also believe that you should affirm yourself every day for small successes or accomplishments. Why? How else do you build your confidence and belief that you are capable if you forget to remind yourself what you do for yourself every single day? I had women tell me, “But it seems so unimportant” to only realize that self-love, self-acceptance and personal progress is supported by daily acknowledgment of ourselves. You release so many expectations from others if you can celebrate yourself. “Good job today! Well done by preparing your meals! Amazing progress with eating less emotionally. Proud of myself for not quitting”. If we do not assess and celebrate, then we simply quit; it is so much easier to quit when we are trying to achieve something that really matters to us. It might be helpful to start journaling and every evening list few things you have accomplished that day that are bringing you closer to your health and weight goal.

So, Dear Mom, please put away the beating stick you are using on yourself and try compassion and love instead. If you want to lose weight do it for the right reasons and keep in mind that you can transform so much more from a place of love than from a place of guilt. 

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