I met with my client Ali last week. She and her husband, just returned from a 3-month cycling trip through Asia. These two are seasoned cyclists. They have travelled through most of South East Asia, and parts of Europe and Australia via their two-wheel vehicular units. For Ali, four to five hours of cycling almost every day has worked wonders for losing weight, even if the choices of food were not always healthy. However, returning to her life in Canada, has consistently lead to a regaining of the lost weight. This time, Ali was committed to a different outcome.
We had been working together for a few months before she left so we made sure that she had some sound principles of nutrition and behaviour in place before her trip. There is one specific practice that she adopted that I want to share with you in this post, because it isn't often used when people try to lose weight and keep it off. Yet it has a unique and powerful role to play.
Whatever particular stresses or emotional triggers we might have, consider that there will be a biological drive happening at a level that we're not conscious of. Under times of stress and emotional discomfort, the need to raise the feel good hormones, particularly serotonin, will be a propelling force to eat, drink, or use another drug of choice. If we aren't going to use food (or the other substances), we need other ways of feeding our serotonin levels. Even if we aren't having a stressful moment, habits that have been practiced over and over again, can trigger us to eat when we aren't physically hungry. That's where Ali and her story comes in. Ali, like many of us, has had her secret eating habits. For her, she has been propelled to overeat by a rebellious streak and a desire to have control in her life. It has lead to secret binge eating - chocolates, cereal and candy were her comfort foods of choice.
Ali adopted the practice of a 'Love Your Body' song. The way this works is that you find a familiar tune that is simple and repeatable and you write your own happy lyrics for it - with your body as the central character. Ali created two. One of them goes like this, sung to the tune of the Beatles song, 'Love, Love Me Do':
Love, love me do
My body, I love you
I'll always be true
I'm so pleased,
You love me too
Ali created her songs while she was cycling through some beautiful country side - along the Andaman coast, through jungles and small fishing villages, and now she is using it focus on happy things. She sings her songs several times a day, which reduces her stress while lifting her spirit (and likely raising her serotonin levels). Singing makes it easier to remember how good she feels when she eats well and nourishes both her body and mind. The habitual patterns of bingeing are being broken with the help of a song. LOVE IT!!
Ali makes significant contributions in the world through her humanitarian work, yet it is her big commitment to small actions, like singing her own loving jingle, that inspired me to share this part of her story.
If you need one more example of a 'Love your body' song, I'll share the one that I've been using for decades. It is sung to the tune 'Mama's Little Baby Loves Shortnin' Bread'. It goes like this:
Every little cell in my body is happy,
Every little cell is happy and well.
Every little cell in my body is happy.
Every little cell is happy and well.
I'm so glad, every little cell, in my body is happy and well.
I'm so glad every little cell, in my body is happy and well.
Repeat over and over again.
I challenge you to sing that and not feel more joy when you do. Or better, create your own uplifting 'Love Your Body' song and sing it often.