I’ve already shared with my readers (get on my list if you don’t want to miss out on other breaking news by signing up to my newsletter) that I’m changing the direction of my work from general well-being to weight-loss and high energy for comfort eaters and yo-yo dieters as well as success coaching and a kick up the butt for procrastinating, frustrated entrepreneurs for which there will be a separate website coming soon. So now, I wanted to start sharing with one of the most crucial lessons that I learnt on my journey from binge eating and hating my body to having totally stable weight (58kg / 128lbs at 170cm / 5’7″) and feeling really good about how I look. (By the way, this is also relevant to procrastinating entrepreneurs!)
It’s been a long journey of a couple of decades and there have been several pivotal moments. I admit that I haven’t been overweight for over a decade, but I was still riddled with anxiety with my weight constantly going up and down and feeling massively insecure about how I looked for much of that time. I was always on a diet and I never really felt comfortable in my skin. I’ve compiled a huge list of everything I learned, which I plan to turn into an e-book for my subscribers, but here I’m sharing one of the most crucial changes I made over that time.
Dealing with my “I’m not enough” gremlin
We all have gremlins or negative self-talk. Most women have this particularly nasty one that is paralysing and mean. Here are some of the things it says:
You can’t apply for that job because you don’t know enough/haven’t got enough experience/don’t know the right people.
You can’t speak to him/her because you’re not important/interesting/senior/pretty/etc enough.
You can’t wear that because you’re not thin/tanned/confident/etc enough.
You can’t do that because you’re not brave/strong/clever/creative/etc enough.
You can’t refuse because what will they think of you?
And what’s the gremlin’s solution?
You’ll feel so much better when you eat something, it will help calm you down.
You’ve had such a hard day, you really deserve a treat.
Chocolate is the answer to everything! Chocolate makes everything right!
You’ve been so good, you’ve tried so hard, you deserve this [food].
Why shouldn’t you have cake? Everyone else is having it, you’ll be the only one…
If you don’t eat that, people will question you… You’ll have to tell them you’re on a diet and when you fail, again, they’ll laugh at you.
Maybe just a little will be ok… Mmm… it tastes so good, maybe I’ll have just a little more…
It’s a sneaky bar steward, isn’t it?
When we give our gremlins centre stage, they rule the world. I let my gremlin rule my life and ruin my relationship with my body for almost 20 years. It made me insecure, dependent on others for validation, introverted (I’m a natural extrovert) and stopped me from fulfilling my potential. I was constantly hiding behind my gremlin and each time it came out, I would want to numb the pain by eating. I often didn’t care what I ate as long as I was eating and my belly was full. Then, the guilt began.. Out came the gremlin again and more comforting needed… You know the cycle. I can say that I stopped enjoying food altogether during great periods of that time.
The problem was that I was paralysed by this gremlin. I believed everything it told me and was rarely able to be brave on my own behalf. Only when I got into the personal development world in my late 20s did I realise how much of a coward I’d been. Being courageous was hard and I had several knock backs along the way, but with every success I grew more and more fulfilled and powerful. (Not in the superhero sense, but in the owning-my-own-power sense!)
Ania Nowicki Weight-loss Coach Vitality and Food – the twenties
Suddenly, I had this enormous insight that I was tolerating a lot of crap in my life. I was miserable in my work, and I was constantly anxious in my relationship with “the perfect man”. I had always been trying to prove myself by doing what I found difficult in a bid to be “good enough”, but this was draining me. As my “perfect man”, who was tall, dark, extremely handsome and well-earning, wanted to make me into his model girlfriend (according to him, I had “so much potential”), I bent over backwards to fit his expectations of me. It’s clear to me now that I’d allowed my relationship to develop like this because of this evil gremlin that made me believe that, indeed, I wasn’t good enough and needed to act on this man’s advice.
I started taking action and… everything started shifting. I began attracting uplifting, life re-affirming people in my life, I started to be more confident and ballsy and stopped hiding so much. I was really enjoying tasty, healthy food and gradually stopped feeling guilty about eating. I gained more optimism and joie de vivre. People started making unsolicited, very positive comments about me. And so it continued.
Did I break up with that guy? Yes I did; even though I still loved him and had my whole life set up with him.
I am now at the point in my life when I’m fulfilling my dreams. I still have challenges, but they make my life interesting rather than stressful. I know that one of the keys to making this possible is this self-awareness I’ve developed and being able to choose which stupid thoughts in my head I listen to and which ones I ignore.
(By the way, this gremlin hasn’t gone away, it’s just pretty tame now.)
Ania Nowicki Weight-loss Coach Vitality and Food – thirties
Here I am, in my 30s, loving life like never before!
How do you identify and tame your gremlin?
A book I highly recommend to my clients is Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson. It has great anecdotes and pictures, and includes very useful exercises.
If, on the other hand, you can’t wait and just want to get started , here are some simple ways for you to identify your gremlin and start taming it:
Notice the negative self-talk that comes up for you. Note down the exact words being used. What’s the hidden message behind these words?
Group the negative self-talk into common themes. Each one of these themes will be an individual gremlin.
Spend some time describing each gremlin;
What does it look like? How big or small? What colour? What are the hair, eyes, other features like? What’s it wearing?
What’s the voice like?
What kind of character traits does it have? (Be aware that some may pose as caring friends.)
Who does it remind you of?
What is its name?
Once you’ve identified at least one of your gremlins (yes, we all have several) start to notice whenever it comes up. It’s often associated with some kind of physical sensation, such as anxiety in the throat, stomach, heaviness, hotness and so on.
After a week of noticing your gremlins, reflect back and notice what changed for you.
Making it work
Theory is great, but making it work is a whole other kettle of fish. If you’re serious about losing weight and keeping it off, once and for all, you must take action NOW. Do the exercise immediately, or, if you’re at work or not in a convenient place, book out time in your diary for when you’re going to do it NOW.
Use some kind of reminder to make sure you remember to notice your gremlins – it could be a picture on your desktop or phone, a post-it note, an alarm on your phone with a special ring tone, or anything else you know will work for you.
The reflection part is also crucial, so put another reminder in your diary to do that after a week. A great way to get some accountability and acknowledgement is to post below. I promise I will read all comments.
Finally, if you know that you’re not going to do this despite your best intentions, it sounds like your gremlins are particularly fierce. My best suggestion is to get external support. I would love to offer you a complimentary taster session to see whether you’d like me to be that person. Simply email me firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
One last thing, if you’re on my mailing list, I’m going to be sending out a very special offer related to this shortly, so make sure that you’re signed up!