Guilt, shame, and our relationship with food

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In my recent Facebook Live session, I pondered this question with my audience –

“How do we survive the reality that life is tough?”

Everyone is human – we have weaknesses, we make mistakes, there are victories and defeats. Sometimes defeat is a mindset that stays with us for a while. It can be related to work life, personal life, and especially our relationship with food and fitness. Maybe a mindset has slowed your desire to make changes with your body and recommit to a fitness-based lifestyle.

When did we start feeling guilty with the foods we eat?


Influences from what we see all around on TV, online, and social media, can give us an impression that we’re supposed to look a certain way. The difference from that perception to our reality, as seen in a mirror, may cause feelings of guilt or unworthiness.  

“When man created the mirror, he began to lose his soul. He became more concerned with his image than with his self.” ―  Stephen R. Covey

This concern with image – whether it’s our own or from others – has been a factor in the Photoshopping trends in recent years. However, there’s been a push back. The “body-positive” approach says that “you are more than your body” and that “healthy looks different on everybody.” These have had the effect of taking away shameful feelings about how we look and how we feel.

How do we identify and overcome unhealthy mindsets?


When we are faced with decisions concerning our health or we create expectations about who we want to be physically, adopting new habits to make changes doesn’t come easy. Self-talk that says, “I am not good at being disciplined,” or “I don’t deserve to be healthy and happy,” or “I tried before and it didn’t work,” reflect negative thinking patterns that can trip us up before we commit to make changes in our lives. Maybe you grew up in a heavy “shame-based” culture where guilt was encouraged as a motivator to change behavior or comply with moral standards. Negative effects of some religious thinking or family influence perhaps have created a pattern for how you respond to life’s challenges. However, the psychology you inherit or form on your own need not dictate how you choose to manage our personal psychology in the present and future. You don’t need to be stuck in a mindset that keeps you from your best self.

Take a deep breath, get some perspective


There will come a time in your life – maybe that time is now – when you realize that a healthy mindset is your responsibility. Circumstances, events, and conditions may have put you in a place mentally that you don’t want to be. Good news! You don’t need to stay there! Take a deep breath and step back from being stuck with a mentality that you no longer want to give any power to. I like this quote from a prominent 20th century thinker.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl from the book Man’s Search for Meaning

Choose love


When our perspectives start changing, there is only one choice – and that is to love yourself. When pain enters the life of one who has an unhealthy mindset, the natural response is to hide or numb the pain. This is where addictions begin. Drugs, sex, alcohol abuse, gambling – vices that turn off our ability to feel – lock us into a pattern of mental negativity and can lead to self-loathing. Loving yourself requires an honest look at your mistakes. Hope and trust in a virtuous principles or a higher power opens the door to embracing truth and feeling a change of heart.

There was a time in my life when I had to step back and rethink my psychology and sort out some negative patterns. (My Podcast, Episode 100, “Life After Porn Addiction, Affairs, and Lies…It Does Get Better”) For me, seeking to live with integrity and be open to accountability with trusted friends and professionals allowed me to look at myself in a different way. I chose love. I chose vulnerability and self-acceptance.

When the high expectations and stringent rules of living the keto lifestyle, or any fitness regimen, seem like just too much, maybe this justification comes to mind –  “I should just live by the motto, ‘all things in moderation’, and not worry about macros or if I sneak in a cheat meal.” And this would be a cop-out to keeping your commitment.

But, I want you to remember that you can do hard things! To achieve greatness, be free from unhealthy food choices, and gain mastery over body and self – this all takes great effort and disciple. If you want to be a person of integrity, you’ll need to rise above guilt and shame, choose to love yourself and accomplish what you set out to do. There may be times when you’ll need to start over, or you’ll need motivation and accountability from others – that’s OK. Embrace the difficult path. Don’t numb the pain of the process through addiction. Be free and be a champion! I know you can do it! You are worth it!

Take Action


Remember, suffering is important – there is opposition in all things. Embrace it and be cool with it. Still defining yourself by your past? Not feeling worthy? Still struggling? Here are some things that I believe can help you.  

  1. Be grateful, show gratitude, keep a gratitude journal
  2. Serve others, don’t stay in the hurt
  3. Meditate, be present in the moment (Try these: HeadSpace, CALM, Brain.FM)
  4. Speak positive affirmations daily
  5. Getting out in nature
  6. Reading books! (Try these: Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, Ego is the Enemy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew

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