If it’s outside of you it’s not the problem. Or the solution.

This is the fourth in a series about mindful weight loss. The series is in preparation for an intimate weight loss coaching circle starting in May. Click here for Soulful + Salty mindful eating

Part 1: How to stop late night binge eating.

Part 2: What to pay attention to: cravings + coincidences.

Part 3: Exercise Isn’t Just For Jocks. How to Find Movement You Love

Part 4: Eat cake. Lose weight. Evolve. The 90/10 Plan

I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

One night I was on the phone with Janice, my mentor. I felt like shit. I was moody and pissed off. I didn’t have any energy.

She asked me what I’d been eating. There was an open package of pepperoni on the couch next to me. Frozen, stale wedding cake sat in a Tupperware on the coffee table in front of me.

Blew. My. Mind.

That was the first time I realized that what I ate mattered.

Other than vaguely worrying about calories and fat, I hadn’t equated my diet with my emotional life.

I’d been drinking Dr. Pepper all day. Eating Twinkies on the hour. My blood sugar was up and down constantly. Sometimes I had to stop at the gas station to get something sugary to bring my blood sugar back up from a miserable crash that left me deflated, shaky and clammy.

I gave up sugar for the first time.

The first few days were hell. Withdrawal left me listless and sick. Pretty soon, though, I felt normal. Sane. Calm. I didn’t cry and get pissed off so easily.

Of course I didn’t stick with it.

Every evening I still craved something sweet. Instead of eating ice cream or Ding-Dong’s, I ate things covered in brown rice syrup.

I had changed the type of food I was putting in my body. But I hadn’t changed that I was using food to deal with my emotions. I still wanted to eat when I was bored. Or embarrassed. Or transitioning to a different task. Or… Or…. Or…..It was inevitable that I would revert to using food that tasted good but felt bad in my body.

I have gone off and on sugar eleventy million times since then. It never lasts.

Sugar isn’t the problem.

Just like alcohol wasn’t the problem when I couldn’t quit drinking.

Drugs weren’t the problem when I couldn’t stop using.

Cigarettes weren’t the problem when I couldn’t quit smoking.

Food isn’t the problem.

And food isn’t the solution. Any solution that stops at changing the diet won’t last.

What are you blaming?

Join me for a deep delving ride to your soul. Soulful + Salty Mindful Eating Circle starts May 1.



17 Responses to If it’s outside of you it’s not the problem. Or the solution.

  1. Heather Thorkelson April 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Oooh, Sarah…this is awesome! I went through a very similar process after having grown up eating shit for so many years because my parents didn’t know how to nourish us properly. I WISH I had known in my teens what I know now as it would have been smoother sailing for sure. The sugar and ‘food-like substances’ no doubt left me at huge disadvantage! I am SUPER sensitive now to foods….meaning that I know exactly how eating something will make me feel, physically and mentally, and it’s made all the difference in the world for me. I also love that you point out that food/alcohol/cigs/drugs/whatever is never the problem. But you’ve gotta work (damnit!) to create new awareness and habits. I think your coaching program is going to be hugely helpful for people at the beginning of this process.

    • admin May 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

      Thanks Heather! When you get to know yourself it’s so interesting how different foods affect you at different times, in different combinations. Some sugar is finefinefine, but not for breakfast.

  2. Sheila May 1, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    Great insights, Sarah, especially the part about those things outside yourself you are blaming for being the problem are not really the problem – it is all an inside job. Brilliant! Thanks for providing such a highly needed coaching program that delves into the real issues.

    • admin May 1, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      Thanks Shelia! When the real issues get addressed, the weight issue disappears. Like magic, baby.

  3. Erika May 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    It’s so important to think about what we put into our bodies. For example, if I eat meat and its not organic or all-natural, I get aggressive, it’s like I feel what the animal was feeling.

    • admin May 1, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

      Ooh. That’s crazy. I’ve never noticed that. But I do block it out when I eat inorganic meat. Because I feel guilty. I don’t eat it often, but it happens.

  4. Christie Halmick May 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    “If it’s outside of you it’s not the problem. Or the solution.” So, so, so true and so easy to forget when lovely things like ice cream taunts me from the freezer. How do you keep that phrase front of mind Sarah? Is it a practice, a mediation, or rewiring our ways of being to continually be looking inward?

    • admin May 1, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      But the point is that you can eat ice cream if you want it. Because the ice cream isn’t the problem. I bet if you let yourself eat it, it wouldn’t feel like a taunt. Other than that, though. Yes, it’s a practice. A meditation. A rewiring to look inward. I use food as a signal to look inward. I don’t always do it, but I believe that’s what it is.

  5. Heather Lentz | We Be Healthy May 1, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Sarah, I believe that it is important to eat a healthy diet. What you put into your body as fuel will effect how you feel. I also agree that it is important to look on the inside for the emotional triggers too. You can’t fix the outside without looking at the inside. The only person that can change the way you respond and how you feel is you. Thanks for the post! 😉

    • admin May 1, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

      For sure. I teach my clients to eat about 90% fuel foods. The rest should be for joy. And to pay attention to how certain foods fuel you. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full.

      Whenever we eat outside of that guideline, there’s an emotional component.

  6. Yvette May 2, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Sarah, great insights. I’ve never done any dieting. But, I know that losing weight and eating healthier is an inside job first and foremost. Like so many other things we want to do, its starts from within. Not many people address this emotional component of how to eat for a better lifestyle and sustain it. Awesome!

    • admin May 2, 2012 at 3:13 am #

      Yvette, it’s all an inside job, isn’t it? dieting or business buildng or whatever. It’s all access to our soul.

  7. Anastasia Valentine May 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Honey YOU have hit on something very deep here! We have so many things we can blame but you are so right…its about us, in there, in HERE…. Everything is just a manifestation of what is going on in HERE. (I say this with a lovely glass of champagne by my side…well because I love champagne!) but the 90 10 rule is awesome…forget 80 20….but 90 10 seems reasonable still. 90% goodness, feeding your body, mind and soul…10% treat….I LOVE IT SO MUCH!

  8. How true all of this is…and sadly (or maybe not), the older and healthier I get, the more the crap food affects me. I can have two cookies in the evening and be stuck with a “sugar hangover.” But, remembering that icky-ness isn’t always enough to not do it again.

    Interestingly, I have found that my challenges recently have been greater as I reach new levels in my business. I thought I had conquered those food demons years ago…but new level, new devil! There is always a place to grow. Thanks for the reminder that is always the inside work that gets the job done.

  9. Amber May 3, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    So much good stuff here – even in the comments!!

    I’m all about listening to my body when it comes to what it needs for food… And I’ve generally beat mood-eating, but I did gave up eating well this week because I’ve had killer migraines that improve when I eat comfort foods. The down side, I’m bloated.

    When I am eating better, I do typically crave something sweet in the evening and make a scrumptious banana almond butter smoothie…

    Now to get back to that. Obviously, I have a lot on my mind right now when it comes this topic. … 🙂

  10. Kathleen Prophet May 3, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    Wow… what a powerfully echoing question to leave me with! Really… what AM I blaming! caffeine. overworking. areas that are out of control right now. And why? anxiety down in my belly. Gotta. Make. This. Work. And what if it doesn’t? scary. And… must be with the edge, take care of it.

    Potent writing, Sarah. Extremely effective.

  11. Beatrice February 28, 2017 at 2:45 am #

    Cool! That’s a clever way of loknoig at it!

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