How do you deal with self-doubt and self-sabotage?

Krystina over in our Facebook Group asked me, "Katheryn, how did you deal with self-doubt and self-sabotage?

I really had to think hard about this one because I used to have self-doubt and self-sabotage all of the time, but I had never really honed in on why I don't, now. 

Let me share with you a story

This question sparked one particular memory for me - one that I had almost forgotten about:

One of my teachers at school lived on campus and his wife was baking brownies. I went over to their place and baked brownies with her and some other students. Afterwards, I went back to my dorm room with a massive tray of peanut butter swirl brownies, with the intention of leaving the them in the common room for others to enjoy. 

Instead, I went into my room with the brownies, closed the door, a proceeded to stuff my face. The whole time I was eating, I kept hearing a voice in the back of my head screaming, "What are you doing?! Why are you doing this? This is so bad...stop!" 

I finished off about 80% of the big tray of brownies. And you know what? I'm positive I would have eaten 100% if I hadn't been so stuffed. The only reason I stopped eating was because my stomach literally couldn't take in any more food. 

I sat on the bed and tears started welling up in my eyes. What had I done? I was really in disbelief that I could be so out of control with my eating habits. I knew that something was wrong, but I thought that something was wrong with me. That I would have to work hard to keep myself in check moving forward so something like this would never happen, again.

There's a couple things you should know:

The first is that I was really unhappy at that school. Actually, I have also been really unhappy at sleep-away camps as well. There's something about being isolated with a bunch of people who I don't know that makes me shrivel up into a loner.

In general, I'm quite extroverted and like to go to networking events or socialize with other people. But when it comes to day to day lifestyle, I really like having my own space and tend to be more introverted. 

The amount of pressure and workload was astronomical, my peers were superficial, I was away from home, and everything was a lot to handle. If I look back now, my weight issues started when I went to that school.

The second thing you should know is that I went to school in a very cold, dark location. I'm originally from Florida where it's sunny all the time, so moving to a place that had such a drastic change in weather was a shock to my body. I didn't feel comfortable in my body, and I didn't feel comfortable in all of the layers of clothing. 

The Turning Point

One day, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown so I went to have a chat with a teacher to figure out how to manage all of my stress. She said to me, "Well, Katheryn, maybe you just have a case of the Winter Blues."

The Winter Blues!? 

I left her office feeling like she was mocking me - we hadn't really found a solution to the stress load I was carrying, and now she was talking about some random weather issue. 

But the thing is, I went online and googled "Winter Blues" and found out that there is an actual condition called "Seasonal Affective Disorder" which is when you feel depressed in wintertime from lack of sunlight. 

See, sunlight directly affects our body chemistry, and one chemical in particular: Serotonin. 

I've been obsessed with serotonin every since I learned about it, and let me tell you why. Serotonin controls three things:

  1. Makes you feel awake/alert during the day
  2. Makes you feel happy (it's like your natural happy drug)
  3. Tells your body when you're full

Wait, hold tells your body when you're full

Ever since I had moved to this school, I felt like I could eat and eat and never feel full. I would have a normal plate of food and go back for seconds (it really didn't help my eating habits that our school had a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) but still not feel full. I basically kept on eating until I felt really uncomfortable and couldn't eat anymore. 

One reason why I tell clients how important it is to make sure you are getting enough rest at night is because it will help you keep these serotonin levels balanced. If you don't, it's hard to gauge how much food your body really needs, because the chemistry is out of whack.

Suddenly, it all made sense

If you're feeling like you have no control over your eating habits and you can't figure out why, I want you to ask yourself is there is something going on in your life that is causing you stress. 

Your environment has a direct effect on your body. No amount of salads are going to help you feel more comfortable with your eating habits if you're feeling numb inside and are trying to cope with something that doesn't feel right to you. 

Now, when I say "environment", I mean anything from the location you're at with the weather, the place you live in, the interior design of your house, your relationships with your partner, coworkers and family, your work space, you hobbies - all of these things around you that affect how you feel. 

Because here's the thing: when I left that school, my desire to binge like I did on that tray of brownies went away. Instantly. Sure, I still had major sugar cravings and had to do some other general work on my diet, but the emotional eating habits I had worried about controlling so much went away the second I put myself in an environment that made me feel great. 

So if any of this resonates with you, start asking yourself what you can do to take charge of what's going on in other parts of your life. Even if you can't make an immediate change, sometimes just making a commitment to yourself that you're going to do what you can to change is all it takes to alleviate a lot of suppressed emotions. 

Making a lifestyle change is NOT about finding a diet that makes sense to your schedule and miraculously solves all your problems with a little bit of willpower. A lifestyle change is about changing up the major catalysts in your life and in your emotions so that you don't even need willpower in the first place. 

Now, for the part about self-doubt

Okay, I thought I was finished there but realized that I hadn't addressed the question on how to deal with self-doubt. 

If you've tried a lot of different kind of diets and none of them have worked, it's almost as if each failure trains you to doubt your own body's ability to be in balance. You get skeptical each time you want to try something new. 

And that's exactly how I felt. I already made myself believe that I would have to work harder than other people to maintain a body I wasn't happy with. And the reason why I doubted all of these tips and tricks and plans is because I knew deep down that I didn't want to do them for the sake of looking good. 

I wondered if I cared more about looking good or about eating good food. Every time I thought about a new diet, I felt like it killed all my dreams of traveling to places like Italy to enjoy pasta, or scones and tea time in London. For me, having a good life meant being able to enjoy these foods.

And I didn't understand how I could possibly have both, so I felt like I had to make a decision on which one to choose. 

And like most people, Monday morning was the time I would pick looking good. Friday night was when I picked food and socializing. Rinse and repeat.

Self-Doubt Disappeared When...

First of all, I remember having a moment where I was analyzing some new random diet where I thought to myself, "Shouldn't it be easier than this?!"

I think that you need to come to that moment where you realize that your body should be able to regulate your weight without you having to put so much effort in. I mean, if people living hundreds of years ago didn't have weight issues and also didn't know what a calorie was, then why should I be studying a calorie in order to have a balanced body?

When I started learning about food energetics and macrobiotics, I realized that we are part of a much bigger system. That system being nature. As I already found out before, we're directly affected by sunlight. And like a flower trying to bloom, we're also affected by our environment in that we need to have the right "elements" - relationships, job, comforts - in order to grow into our best selves. 

I couldn't believe how much more sense it made to eat local seasonal vegetables for the sake of acclimating our bodies to our climate, rather than trying to weigh out how many grams of protein I "should" be eating. How did we get so detached and separated from such simple clues that are all around us?

This was the first time that I felt I could really trust my body if I learned how to focus on my body chemistry and also on nature. Ever since then, I haven't had any self-doubt. 

I think that self-doubt I had about any other previous diet was my inner knowledgable guru telling me "Honey, that weird diet ain't makin' no sense." It was resistance that led me to find what did, what resonated. 

So, all in all, if you've made it this far in reading my story, you'll recognize that trying to fix our weight by focusing on our weight doesn't really make a lot of sense. Focusing on balancing your body chemistry and understanding flows in nature, does. If I can do it, you definitely can.