Busy? Overwhelmed? Brain on overdrive? Could you use a few extra minutes every hour?
For many of us, time and energy is more valuable than money. Where do you spend it? Where do you squander it? More importantly, where could you invest it for greater returns?
Productivity coaches often have their clients do a time study to see where their time really goes. Try it. Make three columns on a piece of paper: one for what you’re doing, one for your start time, and one for your stop time. Track your activities for one day – all of them, even the little ones that don’t seem like much.
Now here’s the twist. In addition to tracking your activities, monitor your thoughts. Become aware when your attention drifts away from what you’re doing or your little voice begins chattering in the background. Simply notice what you think about throughout the day and jot it down.
You’re probably thinking, “I don’t have time for that!” Exactly! But awareness is the first step toward change.
I think you’ll be surprised to discover how much time and energy you spend around food and eating. Just notice how much time you spend every hour:
• Thinking and talking about food
• Thinking and talking about diets
• Reading recipes and articles about losing weight
• Watching cooking shows or food segments
• Watching news stories about the obesity epidemic or shows about weight loss
• Watching commercials about food and diets
• Talking about who has lost or gained weight (and how)
• Thinking about not eating the food you really want
• Wondering what there is to eat
• Thinking about how “bad” the food you want really is
• Looking for food
• Buying or preparing food
• Eating food (ironically, very little time compared to the time spent thinking about it)
• Cleaning up (or hiding the evidence!)
• Feeling physically uncomfortable and tired after eating too much
• Mentally adding up calories, points, carbs or whatever you’re counting today
• Feeling guilty for eating
• Thinking about how “bad” you are for eating a “bad” food
• Exercising to pay penance for what you ate
• Wishing you were thinner
• Thinking about your weight, your hips, your thighs, your belly, your arm flab
• Feeling bad about your body and yourself
• Telling yourself you’re fat and out of control
• Thinking about starting a new diet
• Repeating the entire process over and over
Silently but steadily, you fritter away your valuable time and energy on something that should be natural and effortless – fueling and nourishing your body so you can live your life. And where has it gotten you?
You have a choice. Reclaim your rightful ownership of your time and energy or continue to waste it. Here are five critical strategies you need to learn and practice consistently.
1. STOP! Whenever you catch yourself thinking or talking about food, eating, dieting, or weight, say STOP out loud (or at least loud in your head). Unless you’re physically hungry, don’t fritter away another second of your time worrying about food.
2. Redirect your attention. Trust your body to let you know when it actually needs food so you can focus your attention on other enjoyable, more productive activities until it does. (You’ll find helpful strategies in Chapter 3 of Am I Hungry?)
3. Let go of guilt. When you stop obsessing about everything you eat, you’ll discover an untapped well of time and energy. Amazingly, when you stop restricting, depriving, and punishing yourself, you’ll naturally begin to seek balance, variety, and moderation in your diet. Although it seems counter-intuitive, I have seen this happen over and over again for our workshop participants.
4. Eat mindfully. The best time to think about eating is when you are eating. If you love food so much, act like it! Turn off the TV, sit at the table, notice the aromas, textures, and flavors, and pay attention to your hunger and fullness signals so you’ll feel great when you’re finished.
5. Invest wisely. Look back at your time study. What’s missing from your day? Could you be trying to fill that gap with food - or distracting yourself by focusing on your weight instead? Invest your physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual energy in meeting your true needs.
You’re in charge of where you invest your most valuable resources. Nourish your body, mind, heart, and spirit for a more balanced, fulfilling and vibrant life.
Eat Mindfully. Live Vibrantly!
Michelle May, M.D.
Learn how to free yourself from dieting: http://www.amihungry.com/