Learn How to Break the Negative Cycle of Feast & Punishment, And Release Weight in A Healthy Way
We’ve all been there.
The day after a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, a night out at your favorite restaurant or even that afternoon when you ate the whole box of cookies after a frustrating day at work…
“Oh, I shouldn’t have done that”
“That was way too much… but that cake was sooo good!”
“Why can’t I eat like a normal, or thin person?”
When we’re looking to attain a healthier weight, it can be all too easy to scrutinize every single meal we eat. But most of us have not been modeled a healthy, sustainable relationship with food, so we end up trying to “offset” any meal that will set us back from our dream body, or we believe will leave us with extra weight.
The most common way many people do this?
We’ve been taught calories in, calories out. So we search online how many calories are in a pizza, ice cream or whatever we had… and how many calories running a mile, doing a burpee, or one hour of pilates burn.
Then we turn it into an “arithmetic” equation, and we figure out that to “get back on track” we have to run… 58 miles? Yikes!
Needless to say, we end up feeling guilty, deflated and powerless. We might push ourselves to go on a 2 mile run (that we secretly hate) but don’t dare to skip, because then we would feel even greater shame…
It doesn’t have to be like this! There’s a better, healthier way to release weight, feel beautiful and step into your most vibrant self.
So how do we stop using exercise as a punishment?
Why Avoid Using Exercise As Punishment
Even though it may seem “good on paper,” the truth is that using compulsive exercise to compensate for the food we eat doesn’t work.
We might think that it “forces us” to exercise if we haven’t made it a habit, helping us reap the benefits of hiking, swimming, or weight training…
But in reality this inappropriate practice creates negative attitudes towards food, exercise, and ultimately, our body.
Why? Because it makes us unconsciously change our outlook on exercise in a negative way. Exercise becomes a form of punishment – something painful, to be avoided at all costs.
(According to The National Association for Sport and Physical Education, exercise when used for disciplinary purposes, is a form of corporal punishment and is illegal in 29 states.)
Our relationship with food also gets distorted – we start viewing food as something we must earn.
In turn, this causes us to develop a love-hate relationship with the very thing that sustains us: food!
However, there’s another reason why using physical exercise as a form of abuse is damaging – and it has everything to do with our biochemistry…
You see, when we exercise we release dopamine, the “feel good” hormone in our body that brightens our mood, regulates pain processing, sleep and stress response.
This is a critical neurotransmitter in our bodies, that’s at the center of our pleasure and reward mechanism. We’re wired to seek activities that increase our dopamine levels.
The thing is, if we think of exercise as an unpleasant activity, we won’t seek exercise as a healthy way to increase the dopamine in our system.
And when we use exercise as punishment, it can actually have the opposite effect.
Because over-exercising and pushing ourselves beyond our healthy limits actually creates stress hormones in our body, like cortisol, and adrenaline – which have the opposite effect, putting our body into distress mode.
How To Stop Using Exercise as Punishment for What You Eat
Now that we know how ineffective (and harmful) using exercise as punishment can be, then how do we shift this habit?
The answer lies in 3 simple behavior management tips that can be deeply life-changing…
Shift your perception about food
Food is not something to be earned through physical strain – it’s the fuel that nurtures our body so that we can build a beautiful life and step into the best version of ourselves.
Eating is a vital part of loving ourselves, taking care of our body-temple and being responsible for our own needs. It’s an act of love – and as such, it’s meant to feel good and pleasurable!
So give yourself permission to shift your views on food, from restrictive to nourishing. Instead of banishing your favorite dish from your life, focus on how food makes you feel.
You’ll notice that your body will respond differently to vibrant, healthy foods than it does to processed, unhealthy choices. By listening to these responses you’ll naturally gravitate more towards better options.
And when you do occasionally eat a delicious, yummy and unhealthy meal…
Please remember that one meal will not ruin your wellness journey! It’s what we do in our everyday lives that matters. As long as you eat healthy meals regularly, there’s nothing for you to worry about.
Everything in moderation, and when you savor each bite, and chew your food fully, you don’t over eat or eat excessive amounts.
(The exception might be if your brain is wired to not give you the signals of feeling full. Or you have a brain chemistry that creates food or exercise addiction. If you feel that might be the case, please reach out to the Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous hotline at 781.932.6300)
Be kind to yourself, enjoy your food, and do movement you love, your body will thank you!
Speaking of movement we love…
Find a deeper, positive reason for exercising
It’s no wonder that we feel aversion towards exercise if the only way we relate to it is to punish ourselves – but physical activity can be incredibly rewarding, uplifting and fun!
In order to shift our attitudes toward exercise, we suggest you choose to dive deeper than just changing the habit of exercising after an unhealthy meal…
We must find a new “why.”
The unconscious meaning we assign to exercise is key – our reason for working out is a fast way to reprogram our subconscious so we can create a new habit that supports us.
Reflect on the outcome you’d like to achieve in your health, weightloss and/or wellness journey. Would you like to increase your energy levels? Feel more Confident, stronger? Sexier?
Those are all great reasons for exercising!
Also, remember what you LOVED to do as a child and how you LOVED to move. Did you like to walk in nature, climb things, hula hoop, dance, play sports. Go to the beach, hike, or swim? This will give you clues on how to use movement for fun, play and rejuvenation, versus whipping yourself into shape.
And when you start approaching physical activity with a positive mindset – something that is helping you achieve your goals, and helping you feel amazing, instead of a dreaded punishment – you’ll see how easier making it a habit and lifelong lifestyle it becomes!
Make it your own
There are many rules out there telling us how exercise “should” be in order to lose weight – from grueling workouts to endless cardio on a treadmill, we might feel that the only right way to exercise is to follow those prompts if we want to succeed…
Even if we hate it.
What all those rules and fitness gurus are leaving out, is that to make physical activity a regular part of your life you must actually enjoy it!
Just like we saw previously, we’re wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
So the most effective way to integrate it into your life is to do a type of exercise you like – forget weightlifting if you prefer yoga!
Another vital factor is intensity. When we work out to offset a meal, all we care about is the calories we burn – so we push ourselves far beyond what our body can handle, burning ourselves out and increasing the likelihood of pain and injuries.
Instead, we want to listen to our bodies closely – what feels good, when we’re tired, when we’re out of breath… whether we prefer a daily exercise practice or a couple of days a week.
By tapping into the wisdom of our body, we’ll exercise at an intensity that is right for us. And that’s the best way to unlock all of its benefits!
Did you know you have body wisdom? I call it your inner physician within. Your body never lies. It always tells the truth, and we often don’t listen.
When you listen to your actual body wisdom, versus the voice of self sabotage or the voice of the inner critic you can find balance, joy and true wellness.
The most important element to stop using exercise as punishment
By now, we’ve talked this approach to exercise doesn’t work – and 3 powerful tips to shift this form of corporal punishment.
But there’s a last vital piece to this puzzle, a mental health component – silencing your inner critic.
It’s because of the harsh self-talk going inside our mind that we rush to offset the calories of a meal – we want that little voice to stop, no matter what…
The guilt and pressure our inner critic imposes on us is the reason why we feel the only possibility to “get back on track” is a harmful, all-or-nothing exercise session.
That’s why I’d like to share with you the antidote to negative self-talk and the fastest path to silencing your inner critic: self-confidence.
When you build up your self-confidence, you can make space for healthier habits and shift negative behavior. You’re empowered to engage in physical activity in a way that feels good to you and that will become an integral part of your life.
I know how life-changing a positive level of self-confidence can be, so I created a special gift for you:
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Click below to get the self-confidence to shift the habits that are no longer serving you:
Before you go, let me know how you plan to shift your relationship with food and exercise below!
To your healthiest, most vibrant self!
Also, P.S. If you loved to dance as a child, you might really love my conscious dance modality where you get to be a kid again and dance freely like everyone’s watching, even if you have two left feet, it’s called TRANSCENDANCE(™) and you can learn more HERE.