Have you ever said to yourself, “Why did I just do that? Why did I just eat that?”
Body awareness and mindful eating is a learned skilled, and it’s an essential for improving your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. The type of awareness I’m talking about here includes knowing your hunger cues, how your emotions drive your movement and eating decisions, and how stress manifests in your body.
Establishing this awareness  will help you develop a healthy relationship with food, your body and fitness, instead of cycling through ups and downs with diets and short-term exercise routines.
To be successful at this you’ll have to work on the skills through repeated practice, like anything. Through simple steps you can learn to become more mindful, pay attention to your emotions and overcome overeating and binge cycles.
This is all about learning ‘what works for you’ basically. Here’s four strategies to learn how to better listen to your body and begin to change the place from which you eat and make food decisions.

Strategy #1:

Learn to assess your “food feelings”

Here’s 4 downloads that will help you begin to understand and acknowledge food and thought patterns and begin to change negative patterns. Pick just one and use it consistently to discover some new things about yourself and how you see food!

Strategy #2:

Awareness-building practices

After using at least one or two of the worksheets I shared above, then you can begin using these practices daily to establish the habit of awareness. 
Commit to using a given practice every day for 2-4 weeks; after that, you can fall back on the practice any time you notice yourself feeling disconnected from your body.
Important note: The point is NOT to aim for perfection here. All you have to do is practice daily, and the skill will build on itself naturally. You’ll be amazed.

Practice #1: Eat slowly

At each meal today, take a few extra minutes to simply… pause.
> Put your utensils down after each bite.
> Take a breath.
> Enjoy the texture of your food.
If you’re struggling to slow down, try using a timer. When you’re done eating, see how many minutes have gone by. Now you have a baseline for improvement! Cool.

Practice #2: Eat to 80% full

You probably know what “stuffed” feels like. That “Thank goodness I wore my stretchy pants today” feeling. 
Let’s call that 150% full.
You also probably know what “really hungry” feels like. Let’s call that 0 percent full.
Somewhere in between is 80% full.
80 percent full is when you’re just satisfied. No longer hungry. (Or just a teeny tiny bit hungry, which passes after a few minutes.) But not full. And definitely not stuffed.
At each meal, try to find that 80% point. (That first practice, eating slowly, really comes in handy here.)
You won’t know what 80% full feels like right away; but you don’t have to get this “perfect” or do any complicated math.
Just eat a little bit slower, and a little bit less, at each meal, until you recognize (and can reliably target) that 80% mark.

Practice #3: Mind-body scan

Step 1: Find a quiet place

Every day, take 5 minutes and find a quiet place without interruptions.
This could be just before bed, or just after waking up. In your office. Sitting on a bench after your workout. Sitting in your parked car. Walking. Doing yoga, stretching, or foam rolling.

Step 2: Notice physical sensations

Start at the top of your head and go all the way down to your toes.
See what you feel physically. What are you feeling in your eyes? Your ears? Your nose? Are you clenching your jaw? Are your facial muscles tight or loose? How are you holding your head? Is your chest tight or open? How are you breathing — deeply or shallowly? Where are your shoulders?
Don’t judge anything. And don’t rush this. After a week or two you’ll probably begin to notice patterns.

Step 3: Notice emotions and thoughts

Now do the same thing for your emotions and thoughts.

Step 4: Ask yourself 3 questions

What am I feeling, physically?
What am I feeling, emotionally?
What am I thinking?
It’s OK if you can’t put words to everything you’re feeling and experiencing. Just observe.
Again, with the three practices above (Eat slowly, Eat to 80 percent full, Mind-body scan) you don’t have to do all three at the same time. Rather, choose one to work on for a few weeks and put in the reps. Then you can move on to the next.

Strategy #3:

Daily observations

When practicing eating slowly you might consider:
What did I notice about that meal? Was I able to eat slowly? Do I feel good about my food choices?
When practicing eating to 80% full you might consider:
Aside from physical hunger, what makes me feel uncomfortable about eating to 80% full? Do I know what 80% feels like and how do I feel there?
When practicing a mind-body scan, you might consider:
What did I notice myself feeling physically?
What did I notice myself feeling emotionally?
What did I notice myself thinking?
As you continue the mind-body scan practice, you might also make notes about the following:
What am I learning about myself as I practice the mind-body scan?
Am I starting to see any interesting patterns?
Are there links between my emotional feelings and physical feelings? 

Strategy #4:
Reflective journaling

Use reflective journaling about once a month.

This type of practice can help you assess:

  • Your eating and exercise habits
  • What’s working or not working for you
  • Larger physical changes (weight loss or gain, strength, speed, endurance, and much more.)

Questions to ask yourself after you’ve been working on your goal for several weeks:

  • What have you put the most effort into over the past few weeks?
  • What are you most proud of from the past few weeks?
  • What healthy action will you take as a high-five to yourself for the hard work you’ve done?
  • What basic habits would you like to revisit and/or do better?
  • What’s the next meaningful action you can do right away to start down that path of doing things a little bit better?


Questions to help yourself when you’re a little further along on your plan / journey:

  • Look ahead: Thinking ahead to the next few weeks, what are you most looking forward to?
  • Knowing your goals / what you’re working on or working toward, what superpowers do you have that’ll make progress more likely?
  • Knowing what’s coming up in the next few weeks, what things are likely to stand in your way?
  • How can you prepare, right now, to make sure those things don’t prevent progress?


Questions when you feel like you’re getting stuck:

  • What do you feel like you’ve “done wrong”, or “screwed up”, or “failed” at over the last few weeks?
  • Why haven’t you achieved your goals already? What’s blocking you?
  • What do these mistakes tell you, either about yourself, or what you might need in order to be successful?
  • If you were going to be your own coach, what would you suggest to yourself?


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