self-control: is it necessary?

What do you think of when you think of self-control? For a lot of us it's “I do/don’t have good self-control,” typically around food decision making. Consider this, according to Elizabeth Saunders, time management expert and author of the new book Divine Time Management, if you seek to change your body or shape by controlling aspects of your life then you are exhibiting self-control, which may not be serving you well. You are trying to fit a mold.

I connected with Elizabeth after hearing her on a podcast. Her approach to time management is truly all encompassing of mind, body, and spirit. Her quote, which I used here, truly moved and changed me. After reading an advanced copy of her new book I was thrilled that she was able to chat with me about some of the concepts from her book, particularly around self-control. I hope you find this information as helpful as I did.

Self-love vs self-control

Society and diet culture have made it the norm to try and control what you eat and what you look like. When you function in this way, Elizabeth says, you are no longer embodying yourself; you are not connecting your mind, body, soul, and spirit. She likens the self-controlling mind to a task master that whips your body into action. Your mind says you can’t sleep, you must exercise, you can’t eat that, etc. When you exhibit self-control you are not on the same team as your body. When you go at decisions from a place of self-love you find true happiness because, Elizabeth says, you are truly embodied.

Your True Identity

We can get so engrossed in our self-control practices that we believe they are self-love; we believe they are 'healthy' habits. If you are feeling guilt, frustration, or anger with yourself or your circumstances then perhaps your habits are more controlling than you realize. Are you choosing habits because of the pride wrapped around it? Do you judge others? This can be a sign of your own insecurities.

In her new book, Elizabeth provides amazing insight into finding your true identity. She says, you are living a false identity if you find yourself doing things because you feel like you should. To get to the root of this she provides a challenge: Each time you make a decision consider if it is necessary or out of compulsion instead of out of desire. Then reflect back on what you would do if you weren’t trying to be a good this or good that or fit a mold. [This is an activity I wish I had had when I was trying to break free from my fit chick identity.]

Consider this - there are many ways to exercise in the range of healthy. If you get in your mind that you need to move your body in a certain way to be healthy than you are A) acting out of self control and B) not living your true identity. Elizabeth says that you need to choose something because it is right for you (and your available time!), not because it is something you have to do to be okay with yourself.  

Do you feel healthy? Are you doing things you actually want to do? What are you putting first and does it align with your priorities? According to Elizabeth those answers provide the key to our identity.

Expectations vs Reality

Perhaps the above points have made you realize you are out of alignment with your true self but you are having trouble figuring out how to change. Elizabeth says our expectations make a profound difference in our experience with life. Changing our expectations of ourself allows us to have self-love! We are our own toughest critic, she reminds me. Elizabeth stresses that we are not machines. We don’t have instructions, or a manual, or a button we can push that makes us do the same thing over and over. We are meant to have days where we are more tired, strong, or hungry. We are meant to be human. If we can stop expecting ourselves to be perfect, and start expecting ourselves to be human we can stay tuned in to ourselves. We can recognize when we need something different and honor it without fear. This helps us practice more self-love. Elizabeth says,”Rigid structure and routine doesn’t allow for humanness - it leads to too much self-criticism. “


Elizabeth’s points really speak to my soul. I love that her approach to time management comes from a place of getting to know yourself first. Her words and concepts have helped me tremendously on my journey and I hope they help you. We had additional discussions about the idea of being busy, which I will have to share, so stay tuned for a follow-up post coming soon!

In the meantime, you can find out more about Divine Time Management here and visit her website here. She can also be found on Instagram and Twitter.

Share with me: What area of your life do you think you can loosen up on the self-control and find more self-love?

 

three thanksgiving tips: eat, eat & eat

Hello all,

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! Today I am bringing you one of my favorite blog posts out of the archives. I have three tips for having a healthier Thanksgiving, and guess what? They're all about eating! I wrote this post three years ago, but my tips STILL apply and I STILL share them with my audience. Stop worrying about how to eat less and move more this Thanksgiving. Stop torturing and restricting yourself (I promise, it will only backfire!) Enjoy food, do so mindfully, and enjoy time with family and friends. I hope the tips below give you some actionable ideas for approaching this holiday with gratitude and peace of mind and help you leave your diet worry at the door.


First, remember your health and wellness is a product of consistency. This means, you build your foundation year round, 365 days. The holiday season, which inevitably starts Thanksgiving week and goes until the New Year, is just a small portion of the year. I am not saying this is an excuse to load up on sugar and alcohol for the next month and a half. I am saying you can indulge without derailing your progress on your health journey. You are a product of the choices you make everyday over many days. This means you can enjoy yourself, and the world won't end. Remember: when you tell yourself you "can't" eat something or you restrict what you are allowed to eat your cravings are not properly satisfied and you set yourself up to overeat. When we tell our body no, it says yes - so be kind and compassionate with yourself! My three simple tips can help you approach Thanksgiving with joy and excitement about food instead of worry. 

 

three thanksgiving tips

1. eat before you go

Okay, so I know this is something you have heard before, but it is important. If you skip breakfast you will 100% end up overeating and unable to make mindful food choices. Don't show up to Thanksgiving with low blood sugar and ready to stuff yourself. Eat plenty of greens, healthy fats, and protein in the meals leading up to the big one. This helps you start the day with balanced blood sugars which will help you take a calm and mindful approach to the big meal. Plus, when you get your veggies in the morning you can focus on the yummy stuff come meal time! An egg casserole is one of my favorite meals for Thanksgiving morning.

2. eat what is special

When you don't make any food off limits you are open to truly enjoying food and being satisfied. Sometimes, holidays can feel like the the last chance meal. The last chance you will get to have went potato casserole or stuffing, the last chance for endless desserts. It doesn't need to be this way! Remember, many of thse items you can make and enjoy whenever you want. You are an adult, no one is stopping you. Taking this approach to food can help you prioritize during the big meal. Focus on the items you can't have all the time. This might be a family recipe that only your grandma has perfected or a cousin's secret ingredient cookies. Whatever it is, put those items that are special to you first. Put other yummy things second. Remind yourself that many of these items aren't going anywhere. You don't need to eat it right now because these food are available for you to cook and enjoy whenever you want. 

3. eat leftovers

What do you do when you've picked out the special foods, but you start to feel full? In the past, I would force myself through the main dishes even if I was full from appetizers. Now I know better. I stop myself from getting to that point by reminding myself that there are always leftovers and these foods  are available to me. Ask your host for their recipe or ask if they have a spare tupperware or baggie for you to take food home. Your host will be flattered that you like their cooking too much to miss out.


So there you have it. Three simple tips for having a healthier, more mindful Thanksgiving. Do not treat the meal like your last chance to eat. Enjoy, be happy, spend time with family, and know that these foods can be enjoyed tomorrow, and the next day, and next week - they are not off limits. Leave your food anxiety at the door! 

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe that you just can't live without? I would love to hear about it! 

Happy Thanksgiving!