For chronic dieters and emotional eaters, stress is poison, over emotional responses result in face stuffing, and then guilt and regret. To stop the madness at least in my life, I learned that there is magic in the art of grounding. Like Dorothy’s red ruby shoes, you always had the power to tap it, but you just didn't know it. Ok, let me be your Glenda for a moment. First, let me give you an image that will help you understand how to recognize why and when grounding is a powerful way for you to take care of yourself, and that is habit forming, in a good way! Long ago when I sat in an electrical engineering class I remember the professor talking animatedly about the life and death importance of grounding. “Grounding,” he said, “is absolutely essential and required. When a surge of unwanted energy appears, you have to have a safe way to direct it away from what is most valuable.” Now he was talking about learning not to fry one’s motherboard, but turned another way his crystal of wisdom sheds light on a much more relevant subject: how not to stuff your face when you are stressed. Think about it for a sec - What kind of unwanted energy comes into our lives everyday?
Think about the scenarios and scenes that materialize in your everyday life that create anxiety, stress, and emotional upset. First people: with demands and needs, some people you love and some you don’t, but all of whom want or desire something from you - some annoy, some disappoint, some interrupt, even the ones with best intentions can impose, overshare, ask, demand, become overly interested and involved in your business, etc. etc. Some people can create havoc in your emotions given the chance. Friends, ex-friends, lovers, spouses, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers sons daughters, each can contribute to gut wrenching, throat closing, migraine level stress, whenever, wherever - its life. Sometimes we also just dredge stuff up to be miserable about, it's a bit more self sabotage, focusing on missing people who passed away, lost loves, lost jobs, pets that died - we can really make ourselves miserable if we really work at it - and look at that! We have another reason to eat something we shouldn’t. It's a vicious cycle - and deep down we know we are wallowing, but sometimes wallowing feels good, especially when we can drown our sorrows in a half gallon of double chocolate chunk. (By the way have you ever noticed all the beautiful actresses in those break up movies, pull out the huge container of ice cream, take two bites and put it back! OH COME ON!) Sorry, I digress - back to grounding.
Then there are things, like money, bills, mortgages, deliverables and schedules at work, the ups and downs of cash flow, unexpected expenses, houses, apartments, cars, clothes, shoes, schools,computers that work and dont work, ditto printers, cell phones, zoom calls, appliances that also work and don’t work...we are surrounded by things that can be good, neutral, or stressful depending on the day and our moods.
Then there is time, too little time (rushing), too much time (bored), time alone (good, bad, depends), time to get married divorced, engaged, to have a baby, not to have a baby, go back to school, change jobs, lose weight, travel, stay home, what am i waiting for, what time is it, Iate, I am early, time is short, and so on. Time can be a stressor in its many forms.
And then the abstract things, like how tight your pants may feel today, your reflection in the store windows you walk by, your face when you catch it in the mirror or on a zoom call, the love hate things that remind us that we are not entirely in love with ourselves - if you want you can start worrying about oxygen and sunlight, too much, too little.
Bottom line on any given day, almost anything can stress you out - and although you are TOTALLY in control of it, you probably don’t feel that way, and that feeling of lack of control is horrific. So what do we do? We dose ourselves with this amazing drug called food, and poof we feel better just in the act of eating, and for about 20 minutes after that, UNTIL the guilt and self hate blows in and overwhelms any feeling of goodness we might have had. I decided to end that vicious cycle for myself, once and for all, forever. I knew I had to find a mechanism to end the stress eating/binging/weight gaining/self hating cycle so I could stop dieting - yes stop dieting, like in never again.
So remember I mentioned that grounding is the act of diverting unwanted energy (negative people, things, time constraints) away from something valuable (in this case, me and you)?
There are so many wonderful techniques for grounding, here are my favorites which of course all reflect my odd sense of humor - you may have a more normalized one which is good,, too..:the key is identifying something that takes all the negativity around you and channels it into a very positive environment for you.
Okay so here are 5 of my favorites - I am happy to share more for anyone who asks -
- Mantra of the day plus visualization- these can be super fun and funny, in fact some of my mantras crack me up so bad that I literally just laugh the nonsense of the day away. No matter what happens. Recently there were two people I work with that are particularly mean and annoying and I was finding it hard to be polite and professional with them. I decided that my mantra for the day would be MEAN PEOPLE WILL TURN INTO CHEWBACCA. Now granted I do have a vivid imagination, but it is really cool to be face to face with someone who is just despicable, and smile at them while you imagine their face turning into a CHEWBACCA. It's so fun, AND they are completely thrown by the fact that you are calm and smiling, almost laughing, and totally relaxed. These kinds of people often are bullies and control freaks, it is wonderful to see them realize that they are having no effect on you except maybe for some entertainment.
- Visualization can go a different way - ok this may not be politically correct, but sometimes, I imagine bizarre things . This method is a bit darker, and was shared with me by one of my best best friends, a flamboyant, theatrical creative darling whose imagination far exceeds mine. I remember asking him how a meeting went with a particularly obnoxious overbearing and pushy colleague on a project, and rather than lament at how horrible it was, he fiendishly smiled and said it was “hilarious.” He went on to say that the meeting had taken place in his colleagues office, on the 6th floor of an office building, and that his colleague had been seated with a large plate glass window behind him. My friend had spent the entire meeting imagining that the angry, nasty, pushy man opposite him was suspended outside the window hanging by his fingertips. Of course the story became more creative, it started to rain, a pigeon landed on his head, and so on. My friend smiled through the meeting totally unnerving his nasty colleague, and left stress free. Told you, a little dark, but no one actually got hurt, my friend did not stop, get donuts and eat the entire dozen on the way home as he might have done, and barring any bad karma thrown out into the universe is not a bad method for preventing emotional eating.
- Move it, move it, move it - when you feel the stress bubbling up and you know eating will be your next move - MOVE MOVE MOVE! I have learned that walking down the hall, up the steps, down the street, down the stairs, standing up and jogging place, doing jumping jacks, shutting the door, and putting on my headphones and rocking out to the Rolling Stones - whatever it is. Get your heart rate up - and counter-intuitively it is calming and grounding (not to mention the fact that it burns some calories too). This grounding mechanism can be coupled very nicely with the next one as well - or each works on its own.
- Long cool drink - Changes in temperature of your inner core signals your brain and is calming. A nice long cold drink of icy water, ice tea, or ice coffee - super cold and full of ice, with deep breaths can really take the edge off the stress, sweeten the palette (stress gives you bad breath!) . Bonus when you drink cold liquids your body has to heat them up to body temperature which uses up extra calories - and statistically when people feel the need to snack at least half the time they are actually more thirsty than hungry!)
- Change the lens. This is the most powerful grounding mechanism, and it is the one I have graduated to since losing 120 lbs forever after adopting a keto lifestyle, and it is the one that makes you bulletproof. I mean like the idiots and stressors, haters and losers that somehow made me think I needed to escape them into food have suddenly lost all their power over me. Remember me saying grounding is like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, always there but you just didn't know to tap the power? When i started dieting at like age 8 (not kidding) and began the journey of self hate and sabotage called chronic dieting, day after day, year after year, I walked away from the me I always was, and unknowingly let other people, circumstances, situations and stresses push me farther and farther away When I made the decision to get back to myself on the keto journey, day after day, I got and continue to get closer. I realized I couldn’t let the powers that be around me rob me of my health and happiness, it is my choice - it always was. This lifestyle is sooooo good and my body and soul are thriving, feeling younger, happier, more energetic than decades before. Now I am as stubborn as a brick building - no one can penetrate my armor, because it is formed of my own knowledge that who and what I am is amazing, fabulous, beautiful, brilliant and worth it. Your best grounding methodology of all, like mine, is to change the lens through which you see yourself. The stressors will bounce off of you like bullets off Superman's chest or Wonder Woman’s bracelets - when you look at yourself through a lens of self love.