Exercise for pleasure and distraction

Finding things to replace overeating as your primary source of pleasure and escape is not immediately easy.

I’m drinking more coffee, but coffee is a hobby for me, not just consumption. What else can I do?

It will probably end up being a combination, a variety of different things. And some of those things might stretch and challenge your idea of what constitutes pleasure and enjoyment.

It’s a bit like the cliché of a drug addict whose whole life revolves around their next hit. When they eventually get off the drug it’s not as though any single other thing replaces it. They replace the drug with a life.

So think outside the box.

One unexpected source of enjoyment might be exercise. Going for a walk when you’d usually eat, doing a couple of sit-ups, moving your body in a different way…

Exercise can be enjoyable. Doing something different can be enjoyable. Variety itself is enjoyable.

So if you’re struggling to find something more enjoyable than eating, try finding four things that are less enjoyable on their own, but enough to liven your life and get you exploring possibilities.

And isn’t it also enjoyable to find new ways of changing your long-term eating habits? Even if something doesn’t seem enjoyable in its own right, it can become enjoyable when it serves a greater purpose.

Your thoughts create your reality, so…

I’ve been working on this New Thought/law of attraction stuff for a few years now, and I no longer have any doubt that my thoughts create my reality. So what now?

It took me a while to process lots of negative beliefs about myself and about life; perhaps the biggest challenge came from maladaptive strategies I put in place decades ago.

It also took me time to understand how I differ from the majority of people eliciting advice from teachers like Abraham-Hicks. It took me time to translate their teachings into my language, and appreciate the advantages of things I’ve already worked out and accomplished.

So I’ve cleared a path, and now the teachings are really really simple: just make a practice of thinking thoughts that are better than your usual thoughts.

It’s best to stay general and brief and just reel off thoughts that you know to be good, positive, and aligned with your desires.

For example:

I love my life

I love being me

I love myself

I love how easy my life is

I love how effortless my life is

My life is easy

My life is effortless

My life is fun

My life is enjoyable

My life is complete ease

My life is complete flow

As I write and think these thoughts I start to feel better and better. But I don’t worry about how I feel anymore. I know these are good thoughts that will feel good as I practice them.

I also know I can loosen my resistance and not contradict them with other thoughts.

This is an exercise. I don’t have to argue with myself over how much I do or can or should love my life. I don’t look evidence and ideas to support these thoughts. Because that comes later, comes automatically, with practice.

Just like my diet, I know what works now. If I just think these kinds of thoughts often enough and don’t contradict them with other thoughts, I’ll become these thoughts soon enough.

Likewise, I know that if I eat the right amount of food and don’t overeat, my body weight will come into balance.

The struggle and the obfuscation all lies in our complicated patterns, like eating to escape from bad feelings, or like finding security in playing the victim.

These are the habits that stop us from doing simple things like eating as much as we need, and thinking good thoughts.

My life is easy, if I let it be. But I can’t let it be if I’ve only practiced thoughts of fear and difficulty and despond.

But my life is easy. I love the ease. My whole life is full of ease. I love having such an easy life…

Do you need to eat to feel better?

I’ve just made two delicious pizzas for my family, but there’s a problem: I don’t need to eat anything to keep going right now.

So these delicious, hot, wonderful pizzas…I’m not ready to eat them.

I’m not thrilled about this, but if I want to get into the normal BMI range I shouldn’t overeat, and by my definition eating when I can otherwise keep going is overeating.

They smell really good…

But what’s actually so bad about this situation? The food smells good. It probably tastes good. It would be pleasant to eat it.

So what?

Am I so lacking pleasures in life that I would rather ignore my body’s guidance than find something else to do?

Am I trying to hide from feelings of boredom, loneliness or dissatisfaction by gorging on tasty food?

Or do I feel like I’ve been on duty all day and dinner is supposed to be my time to relax!

I think that’s a big part of it. It’s not so much the food but the context. The time of day, the lull in activities, the proximity to bedtime for the kids and me, the promise of winding down.

But there’s something funny about that: if I look forward to the evening “wind down”, I’m implicitly excusing being wound up in the rest of the time.

I don’t like being wound up and tense and on high alert. Having the wind-down time seems like a reprieve…but wouldn’t it be better not to get so tense in the first place?

Maybe taking away the solace and comfortable escape of overeating at dinner time will help me find a way to stay chilled all the time?

I’m going to give it a try, because I respect my approach to diet and the signals my body is giving me. If I don’t need more food to keep going, then I won’t eat more food.

I already feel clearer with this decision and the stress of losing the escapist comfort is fading. I don’t need to eat to feel better.

The great denial

My house is very messy.

I freely admit it, but even so I forget how it might be discomforting to someone who prefers a tidier home.

It’s amazing how your mind can become so accustomed to a pile of magazines, a cluster of toys, or even a row of empty wine bottles (I’m going to reuse them, I swear!) that they barely register in your consciousness.

Yet as dtcwee points out in a comment to the previous article, this is an instance of denial.

Acceptance in this instance would mean accepting both that the house is actually very messy, and that on some level I don’t like it being this messy.

By contrast, denial seems to intervene by saying “I’ll tidy it later” (not unless I really have to), or “I have more important things to do” (watching tv is more important I guess). The purpose of denial is to stop me feeling bad about the mess. It’s an alternative to accepting the bad feelings that exist in me because I don’t like the house being this untidy.

Denial injects unreal thoughts into my experience, shielding me from the full force of reality. It takes me into a false world, a virtual reality made up of thoughts, excuses, rationalisations, and imaginary futures.

Don’t feel bad about the untidy house, imagine that you will clean it tomorrow when you have more energy. There now, doesn’t that feel better?

Unfortunately, this respite from bad feelings is based on a delusion. It is a refusal to accept the reality of the present and the reality of unpleasant feelings.

What if I accepted it all instead?

I would accept that the house is messy, and accept that I don’t like it being messy. Next I would accept that I feel bad when I tidy the house, and that’s why I continually put it off as much as possible.

Now if I proceed with tidying despite my bad feelings, I’m going to discover a whole lot of internal clutter that corresponds with the external. Having to deal with piles of stuff will inevitably bring up a range of worries and insecurities: guilt over things I was meant to read or fix or work on but never did. Indecision over how to dispose of items without feeling irresponsible. Insecurity at throwing away things I feel I might need at a later date. Compounded lethargy in the face of tedious tasks I might have put off for years. Shame at not being more organised, more efficient, or more hard-working.

The clutter might as well be symbolic, but that’s often the case with parts of reality we deny.