According to Industry Today, in 2015 the weight loss & weight management industry was valued at, take a deep breath here, $158.2 billion. Yes, billion, and it is the ONLY billion dollar industry that doesn’t work!
Can you imagine any other industry that fails its customer consistently and still keeps growing?
Yet, even though we can clearly see its failure all around us, week after week, month after month, year after year, we pour our hard earned cash into its greedy marketing machine, the one that doesn’t deliver on its promise of our dream body and the life that we feel must come with it.
There are the pound smashing wellness clubs/resorts/retreats. There are beautifully photographed recipe and healthy lifestyle books, often bestsellers and, on the whole, excellent – although there is plenty of weird and unrealistic stuff out there too.
I have found that over 90% of the healthy eating plans are straightforward, sustainable, inexpensive and absolute time savers. Having a body we are rightly proud of and love is easy then isn’t it? Sadly, no, it clearly is not.
Then there is also the plethora of pound shedding products; low-calorie/low-fat/low-sugar ready ‘meals’, shakes, powders, pills and so the list goes.
As does the obesity crisis, a huge drain on the NHS and a source of immense pain to those who struggle helplessly with their body image. A crisis that daily grows bigger and bigger too (excuse the pun).
Why? We are not idiots. Most of us know roughly what to eat and how. We may need a few tweaks and a bit of sensible food information, but it really is not rocket science.
Here’s my YOUtrition 100% sure-fire route to shifting those pesky pounds.
“Eat wholefoods when you are hungry, cut down on processed sugar, drink lots of water and move more”.
Lesson over, super body achieved. No book, no class, no handing over of more cash that could better be spent on, well, just living.
So, what’s the problem? It is very simple. Not one of these super easy, super healthy plans even touch the sides of the real issue. It is not the food. It is not the drink. It never was.
It is the way we think and feel about the food, the drink. It is about what we feel it will relieve us of in tougher/sadder/tireder times. What pain it will allow us to avoid or take away. What comfort it will offer. It is all about our emotions.
I know I bang on about this, but from my own experience of alcohol addiction & recovery, no book, no support group, no intervention, nothing made any difference to my drinking, until, after 27 years, I changed the way I thought and in doing so I instantly changed my emotional default settings around the ‘comfort’ of drink. And that was it, I was done.
If you are not sold on my message, ask yourself this,
- “Why on a ‘good’ day can I stick with my healthy plan and on a ‘bad’ day I struggle and give in?
- “Why does the crap I know will further ruin my day seem the ONLY way to make myself feel better?”
“How do I feel this wine/cake will make my ‘bad’ day better?”.
“What am I expecting the food / alcohol, I am pouring into my mouth to achieve, when the problem I am asking it to solve is not in my stomach?”
The answers to these questions can’t be found in any recipe book, clubs or in food (no matter how healthy).
The answers are in YOU.
They are lodged in your emotions and until you address those emotions. Until you understand accept and resolve those emotions, you will continue to spend your money and repeat a cycle that you KNOW doesn’t work and feel worse and worse about yourself with every ‘failure’. Let’s stop this now!
This takeaway is part of my Coaching strategy, give it a go. It works!
Just before your next food/wine smash and grab, ask yourself.
- What emotion am I feeling right now that makes me want to eat/drink this?
Maybe you will say, ‘fed up’, or ‘bored’ or ‘lonely’. Maybe something else.
Drill down. For every answer you give yourself, ask yourself,
- “What does this mean to me?” and again, and again, until you get to the bottom line. There is always a bottom line.
Acknowledge the bottom line emotion, it needs to be heard and understood. And as you work your way down to that emotion, your attention will be focused away from your desire and your craving will start to fade.
Merely by questioning what you are truly feeling over and over again, you will gain a new understanding of your actual needs are and be able to properly address them (if you choose too). Your mood will shift and the craving will simply drift away.
Free 15 Minute Discovery Coaching Call
If you need compassionate support & understanding to change your emotional default settings around food and alcohol, check out my Breakthrough Mentoring & contact me to see how I can help
Love & respect xx
It’s 6 am and I am up and out in the garden with my Gorby Girl and a huge cup of green tea. I would like to tell you I am in my daily sober zen zone, that I have stretched and meditated, and am calm and focused on the day ahead. Except I am not. My puppy is running around barking at frogs, I have just spilt tea on my leg (it really hurts) and I am emotionally gearing myself up for a visit from one of my gorgeous brother’s who drinks like a fish. Happy Saturday!
Now as a formerly (drunk) mother, you may think that I shall be employing some form of majestic, iron clad willpower to resist the tidal wave of booze that is coming my way this afternoon. That I must be putting my emotionally protective soldiers in place, bayonets ready, to ward off any temptation. Maybe planning out my strategies and the conversations I might need to employ to stay in my sober zone. None of those are true.
I have willpower, an abundance of the stuff in fact, but I never utilize it to not drink. I don’t need to.
We only need willpower to resist doing what we desire, the things we do want to do, not the things we truly don’t. And because of our desire, it is the hardest, least successful method of long term change.
Last week was tough for me on a number of levels. I won’t bore you with details, but it ground me down and certain events caused me a great deal of emotional upset. For me, drink is off the table. It’s just not an option. There is no desire. Been there, done that, nearly killed myself, so no thanks. Cheesecake however holds center place. I think for the last 5 days out of 7, I have bought cheesecake to comfort myself. And on some levels it has.
We wouldn’t eat the crap, drink the booze if there was no sense of comfort gained, temporary though it only ever is.
However last night I went shopping and didn’t buy the cheesecake. I saw it, still wanted it and an inner tussle ensued. This time though I employed my PAUSE and in that pause, before my willpower was called into action, I re-thought the ‘why’ of my ‘need’ for cheesecake I understood and acknowledged the ’emptiness’ I was trying to fill, and let the thoughts of cheesecake drift away. Great stuff. I left the shop contented, in peace and went home happy.
However, had I actually allowed myself to enter into the internal dialogue, the fight of should I/shouldn’t I, the self-justifications versus the recriminations, I might have been able to walk away with my willpower coming out on top (doubt it though). But how would I have felt? Triumphant, yes (over ignoring a cheesecake……..!), but also exhausted, probably on some inner level upset that I was missing out and definitely fearing the next time I would have to employ my weary willpower.
But by recognizing my thinking of what I expected from this over sweet, processed sugar fest, by asking myself what I actually needed emotionally, by acknowledging how I was feeling and giving myself an emotional cuddle – I have even got into the habit of putting my arms round myself wherever I am and whenever I need it – I was able to let go of my desire, my ‘cheesecake want’ and move on without even asking my willpower to join my unhappy inner party.
At the risk of repeating myself, which I will because this point is so important, we only need to use willpower against something we desire.
Understand and acknowledge the emotional ‘why’ of your wants and desire is lessened, making choice much easier because you no longer feel you are missing out on anything. And when you truly feel you are not missing out, desire simply drifts away and willpower becomes redundant
Initially, in tougher time, at least to start with, desire may well come back, maybe in a different form, but the same strategy of understanding and acknowledging does work and you will build your truly comforting resilience muscle. So much more effective than any willpower.
So, this afternoon I will have my lovely, kind, funny and no doubt very drunk brother to stay. He will come back from the pub with my son – God help my precious boy – where he will, no doubt, have honoured our Irish heritage with a few ill thought out ditties before stumbling back here with vodka.
I will be sitting serene(ish) in my garden with my tonic water, struggling to understand his anecdotes. My willpower though unemployed in that moment, will be fiercely called upon tomorrow morning, as I am already weary with the knowledge that I will have to get out of bed and walk Gorby at 6am on a Sunday morning after only 4 hours sleep.
Love & respect
If you would like to know more about my journey to sobriety, check out my memoir, This Isn’t Me.
To understand how I help clients, take a look at my Working with Me page, and Practical Techniques for Recovery page.
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When I stopped drinking, one of the first things that I realized was that I had no level of self-care – or self-love, or self-respect. Actually, thinking about it now, I had no sense of ‘self’ at all.
Thankfully I learn quick – for good and for bad it seems – and I understood that to give myself the best chance of being the person I wanted to be and to be strong in my recovery, I had to put in place the ‘self’ bits that were missing. Self-care, as it turned out was the easiest, and with just a little of an emotional cuddle in place, my recovery bounded ahead.
I became the most important person in my life, selfish as that may sound. My eating came first, my rest, my emotional comfort – for that I mean removing myself from stressful situations/people at first, and then later, as my sober muscle grew stronger, understanding how to re-frame the situations/people in a more comapssionate light, and owning my own responsibility for my behaviour and responses. Grab that wine? My choice. Getting angry/stressed and using it as a reason to drink? My choice. And all the rest of ‘my choices’.
My self-care changed everything. Literally and painlessly. It taught me I deserved more and so I gave me more and so I became more.
High five me, but how what did I do? Recently I delivered a talk called, You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup to a group of ladies who are struggling with their unhappy drinking habits. It went down a storm because it resonated so well with my audience, and so rather than to try and re-invent the wheel, this is it, along with my top tips for self-care.
“This is my big cup that I pour from every day. It is not full of water, tea or alcohol (thank goodness), it is full of my energy. From this cup each day I pour my energy into smaller cups, my work, my home, my life. 90% of the time, no matter how much I pour out each day, after a good night’s sleep, it is miraculously full of energy again. No-one can pour energy into my big cup, it is something that comes from within me. We all have these cups, at the moment you are pouring from your big cup into one of my smaller ones as you listen to me.
Every now and again though my cup doesn’t miraculously refill. Life constantly throws unexpected challenges and curve balls at us and depending on what are priorities are at any time, they can empty our big cup pretty quickly. Recently I have had to make some hard decisions about situations beyond my control and whilst I am completely comfortable and at peace with the decisions I made, my miracle cup still drained away.
Two weeks ago I went to a meeting where someone took photos, In most of them I was smiling and ‘being Sonia’, but in one that I was unaware of , I saw a drained, tired devastated woman completely depleted of everything. I cried for her and said “enough”, my cup was empty, I had nothing left to pour.
I cancelled or rescheduled all my meetings with total honesty and went away for four days. I took myself and my empty cup to Devon, I walked for miles, took in the scenery, ate properly, slept properly, made a commitment to myself to check in with business twice a day not before 9 and not after 6. Turned my devices off allowed myself to accept how I was feeling, went through the process and slowly refilled my cup. I came home still sad, the situations that had drained me were still present and my cup wasn’t full, but it was slowly refilling itself and I was ready to start pouring again.
I call this self-care –and is the complete opposite of what most woman do in times of stress both at work and home.
As woman we seem to be conditioned to think that in order to be “good enough” we must put everyone else’s needs first. When challenges come what do we do? Most of us batten down the hatches, isolate ourselves emotionally and just push on,. We do the exact opposite of what we actually need. And at what cost.
Tired and irritable, who suffers? Children, partners? Then we feel worse for being snappy.
Poor sleep and not making enough time to eat? What suffers? Our concentration, productivity? And again we feel bad. Horrible cycles!
Every bit of self-care we give to ourselves we get back in all our important relationships, whether they are family or work or whatever/whoever matters most to us.
So, these are my practices for my self-care. Mine won’t work for everyone, we are all wonderfully individual, but these definitely added in my recovery. And, if they are not for you, please because you deserve to care for yourself and to be your best you, find some that do.
Top 10 Self-Care Tips
- First of all I tell myself every day I am good enough. I am good enough for my son, my loved ones, my clients and most importantly myself. We are all good enough, acknowledge that truth of that and the next steps become easier because you know you are deserving of self care.
- Ask for help before you becomes the crisis. People can’t guess what you need. Ask yourself, what help could I ask for now that would make the most difference to me? Working to a deadline, maybe your child’s friends mum could pick up your child as well that day. Dry cleaning pick up, maybe a neighbour goes regularly into town? Help with preparing a document? ask someone who enjoys that aspect of work, they also get to show off their expertise. People like to help. Be clear and kind in your asking.
- Let go of control. If you ask someone to wash up, or change the sheets or run a presentation for you, don’t look at it critically if it is not done your way – people are not robots that can replicate you. Don’t be irritated and feel it has to be done again. That builds resentment in you and will make the one who tried to help feel useless and less inclined to offer in future.
- Routine, our bodies crave routine, it stabilises and reassures us. We run on the circadian rhythm, so for instance when we fly through different time zones, our sleep is disrupted and it can take a few days to recalibrate. Eat regularly, drink regularly. Make these non-negotiable. Our bodies our our greatest asset and will do everything in their power to support us both mentally and physically if we fuel them properly.
- Even in the midst of the most challenging situations, set aside 10 minutes in the morning to have a quiet cup of tea and breathe deeply. No work, no emails, just you, tea and deep breaths. Get up earlier if necessary. Set yourself up for your day.
- Don’t check work after 8pm. set automatic responses if necessary. What will it achieve to read that a client is complaining? A delivery not received? You can’t do anything about it until the morning and it will upset you and disrupt your sleep.
- Sleep well – go to bed a little earlier and get the restorative sleep you need.
- Switch off all unnecessary stimulus in the evening an hour before bed Try a jigsaw, adult colouring book – I am so rock and roll these days – try baking anything creative. Light candles, listen to music, and take a lovely bath. Do something just for you and again make this time absolutely non-negotiable.
- Learn to say no with confidence and love. Don’t agree to anything out of guilt or obligation, again you risk the chance of becoming resentful and further overstretched. People may not like it to start with, but they will learn to respect your needs and will stop asking.
- Acknowledge how you are feeling. Don’t try to damp the feelings down. Feeling overwhelmed, say so, feeling unloved, tell someone, feeling unfairly pressured? Speak it out loud. Once we have articulated how we feel, these feelings have less power over of us. I told myself when I was away, I am so sad, my house is not a home anymore (my home life is everything to me). Once I said those things out loud though, my natural resourcefulness kicked in and I started to view the situation differently. I even laughed at myself, completely alone, I must have looked crazy!
The more we care for ourselves the more we are able to care for others. The more I pour into my own cup, the more I can pour out to those who I need and who need me.
Everyone suffers when my cup is empty and I see them wilting through thirst. That hurts me personally and affects me professionally. So to me self-care is not a luxury or selfish, it is an absolutely vital part of my life.”
If you would like to keep up to date with my blogs, news & offers, click on the link for my Breakthrough Mentor Newsletter.
Love & respect
As we travel on the highway to Sobriety, we will stop in various places for a cup of tea, maybe a scone and to take in the view. Now all our highways and views are different. My road of choice is a winding costal lane with a view of the sea. You might prefer a trip down Rodeo Drive in an open topped little number, taking in the designer stores on the way. It’s your journey to Sobriety, so you choose.
Whatever our avenue of choice is though, we would all like it to be sunny, with a clear view of the road ahead, without angry motorists causing us anxiety and self-doubt and probably with some music to complete the anticipation and excitement at reaching our final destination.
Being a true Brit, who loves a staycation (a holiday in my home Isles), I know the weather can be very changeable and my journeys have often started out wet, windy and cold. I don’t mind. I know that the wind and the rain make my favourite destinations the beautiful landscapes they are. Without the variations in weather, the south of England would quickly become dusty and barren, no green grass, no meadow flowers, no sense of cleansing that comes after a storm. Even in a city, the streets are refreshed after a deluge. Storms always pass, to be replaced by another weather, one worth waiting for.
Bottom line, I don’t let the anticipation of stormy weather put me off my sober journey. Do you?
Back to the challenge at hand, the booze. When did your drinking become a problem and how? It’s just a bloody drink, a pick me up, a relaxant, a confidence boost, a de-stresser after a tough day, a light hearted, almost guaranteed, social glue. It’s the lubricant to a great night out (or in), it’s sexy and fun. Everyone knows that, haven’t we all seen the adverts?………
The adverts. Sitting in the cinema last week, there was an ad for a bottled beer. Gorgeous young people, skinny and sun kissed, laughing in a group, carefree, happy and swigging beer. The week before, in the same cinema (I do love a movie), there was an ad for a spirit. Same concept, just slightly older group, maybe late 20’s in a slightly more sophisticated setting. This time a glamorous party, the guests still gorgeous and skinny, only in this instance, a little more expensively dressed and coiffured.
The message was clear. Alcohol is what made both situations fabulous. It was the jewelled nectar that gave cohesion to both groups, that enabled men to approach women, boys approach girls and vice versus. All were at ease and slightly disinhibited, well they would be wouldn’t they, as we all know, alcohol is a powerful drug.
I think I missed that part of the message in the ad though. I didn’t see anywhere, even in the small print that alcohol is a narcotic, even though when you think about it, anything that changes your behaviour, must mean it alters your brain chemistry and is therefore a drug. Agreed? Or maybe not, but that’s for a later blog.
Then we have the mighty influence of television, where in the UK at least there are no alcohol adverts, but everyone seems to drink and on every occassion (so probably more powerful than any advertising).
There’s the pub scenes, the wine bar scenes, the restaurant scenes, the office scenes, the home scenes, the picnic scenes, the good times, the bad times and the list goes on. From the aristocracy to the down-&-out, they all drink.
Another bottom line – on television alcohol is everywhere.
I have also noticed since I stopped drinking that those on TV shows who don’t drink are either pregnant, ill or in recovery, and even they sometimes stray back into booze land.
Alcohol advertising isn’t new, I have happy childhood memories of laughing at the ads for Dubonnet (Luton Airport luv) and singing along to the “Anytime, anyplace, anywhere….” joyful, catchy Martini song.
One of the biggest issues I have with the way alcohol is promoted is, that the adverts (now I admit mainly in cinemas), were then, and still are now, cleverly aimed at our far too impressionable young people who are gearing up for adulthood and all the ‘pleasures’ that come with it.
Pleasures that most have already witnessed in the home. Even those who come from ‘dry’ homes see it in other households, and those often seem, on the surface, to be more fun.
There is now the almost compulsory wine/beer after work to relax Mum and Dad, or children’s birthday parties where the parents and guests knock back a few, maybe a glass at dinner, or the tipsy BBQ – all good, all fun, what’s not to love?
Is it really any surprise then that so many are lured into believing the powerful social conditioning around alcohol? The conditioning that sees alcohol as harmless and an almost intrinsic part of a happy existance. A conditioning that stays with most of us for life.
My son has grown up with an alcoholic parent and although he rarely drinks, he doesn’t view alcohol as the mind-altering drug that it clearly is. And quite honestly if he doesn’t, its hard to expect anyone else too.
And so, when we are old enough (and for most of us, in our own minds at least, that time is our early teens), we start to drink. I remember my first drink, it was Southern Comfort and it was disgusting. I drank half a glass of it neat and almost passed out with the shock of the foul smelling, over sweet, revolting tasting liquid. For all of two minutes, until it hit my blood stream and I was on the floor blind drunk and laughing my head off. Classy bird.
For a very long time I viewed that unedifying episode as fun. I had grown into a giant of confidence and wit that evening, at least that is how I saw it. The reality being it was humiliating and embarrassing to both myself and the others who witnessed it – except they too were drunk, thank God. Then, because of that distorted view I had of the experience, of alcohol, and not withstanding how wretchedly ill I was for two days, I did it again and again. The only learning I took from that evening was the quantity I could consume that would avoid my headlong rush from from sober to blind drunk.
If you ever needed proof of the power of social conditioning around alcohol, let me tell you about some friends of mine who have had serious cancer scares. Really, really serious. They stop smoking, change their diets, investigate all manner of alternative therapies, consult homeopaths, meditate, educate themselves about stress reduction and the power of a positive mindset. They do everything in their power to give themselves the best possible chance of recovery, and still they drink. They don’t want to be boring. They need to relax. They deserve a glass of two with all that’s going on in their lives. I hear all these reasons to drink, often given defensively.
These lovely, kind wonderful people, suffering from an appalling disease are beyond desperate to beat it and to stay with their loved ones. All of them, without exception, are completely aware, because their Oncologists have told them, that there is a direct, scientifically proven and widely acknowledged link between certain cancers (breast cancer in particular) and alcohol yet still most of them continue to drink – maybe not during treatment, but all of them once it has finished – and all because they ‘believe’ (social conditioning) the respite/pick me up effects that alcohol offers them. I don’t actually know what more to say ………
But there is so much more I do need to say. Social conditioning explains, to a very large degree, why we fall into the alcohol trap, why we start to drink, but it doesn’t explain why we stay there. It doesn’t explain why some can drink for a while, heavily even, and then stop without a backward glance.
I know the truth about the alcohol prison and social conditioning isn’t it. The real monster lives, protected and fed by us, in our unconscious mind, in our feelings. That is the monster that really needs to be understood.
Next week I will poke that monster with a sharp stick, and in doing so, poke you. I did say I was going to keep it real.
Check out my Working With Me & Practical Techniques for Recovery pages to see how I help my clients
Love & respect. x
If you would like to keep up to date with my blogs, news & offers, click on the link for my Breakthrough Mentor Newsletter.
PS, Your Takeaway this week is –
Don’t let the fear of bad weather stop your Sober journey. Wrap up warm, check your windscreen wipers, drive carefully and START!
Too many of feel that we are not good enough, not worthy, not deserving. feelings that deprive us of the life of peace and joy we all deserve, and using food and alcohol in an attempt to comfort those losses.
We eat and drink in ways we are ashamed of, that make us feel we have to lie and hide what we do. That cause us sleepless nights of worry. And yet we still continue to repeat the same cycles in our attempts to self-comfort those painful feelings of ‘not enough’ away.
And because it is only ever comfort we are looking for, when we try to change the way we eat and drink, it can be very hard. Especially when we don’t believe we can be, or deserve to be different, thoughts that further deprive us of the comfort we long for.
We are all, always doing our very best to be our best.
We are never trying to harm ourselves or our families, our children, husbands, partners, and yet stopping doing the things we know harms us all most, feels as though it is beyond our power.
It is not.
Imagine a different way of living for you, one you truly do deserve.
- Imagine no longer feeling not good enough, but more than enough?
- Imagine knowing and accepting who you are.
- Imagine letting go of all your old Anger, Hurt, Sadness, Pain, Guilt & Fear in one relaxed, empowering session.
- Imagine how much easier it would be to make better choices and decisions in the moment and future, relieved of old distresses
TimeLine Therapy is a wonderfully, unobtrusive process that gifts you the ability to easily let go of all your past pain, allowing you to move forward with confidence in yourself and your ability to be who you truly deserve to be.
I am a Master Practitioner of TimeLine Therapy, and every client, without exception, has said they feel ’emotionally lighter’, ‘calmer, stronger and more empowered’ before they even leave the room.
We all need to emotionally let go of a past that no longer serves us to be our best, and it something that is entirely within us all.
“I feel so positive with a sense of lightness, I am walking with a spring in my step. There has been a definite shift in my thinking. I have noticed how much kinder I am being to myself – my internal voice is not giving me a hard time. I am feeling so much more at peace with myself. This is quite an amazing feeling. Thank you for helping me to feel like this! J Dickie
I had a TimeLine Therapy session with Sonia which I found to be incredibly profound form of treatment and very successful in treating me with my issue. The experience was enhanced as Sonia has a very warm and lovely manner, which enabled me to get the most out of the sessions in a safe environment. I would highly recommend an Emotional Cleanse session with Sonia to anyone. M Greene
Sonia made me feel relaxed, calm and very safe to explore my emotions. She took me through the process, carefully explaining each step of the way and was so lovely and kind that I felt able to say just what I needed to without feeling self-conscious – quite an achievement believe me. I can highly recommend this treatment as an emotional spring clean to help you to look to the future with a renewed enthusiasm.” J Ellis
“Incredible experience! I feel less anxious and stressed and feel back in control of my life. Sonia you are amazing” N Thompson
I DEFINITELY feel so much better, my old heavy emotional baggage has gone. I feel so much lighter and more capable. I am making better choices in life and that is wonderful. K Morris
TimeLine Therapy is a wonderful addition to my Recovery Coaching process or as a powerful, one off intervention, and can be conducted either face to face, or in the comfort of your own home via Zoom
- A life enhancing 2 hour TimeLine Therapy Session is £250
- (very occasionally it does take longer, and the cost is £40 per extra half hour).
Click here, if you would like to book a free Recovery Coaching Assessment Call to see how I can best support your journey.
Or to learn more about, my ground breaking Recovery Coaching,
Or myself Sonia Grimes, and my journey, through my book, This Isn’t Me.
Love & respect