Believe it or not, the first time I saw this image on the left was on an episode of Girls on HBO. It’s a great show and, for sure, one of my not-so-guilty pleasures. I can't recall the exact scenario for how it came up but I remember the main character, played by Lena Dunham, sitting in some sort of job interview and seeing a poster with "Where the magic happens" in big circle with a much smaller circle off to the side which was labeled, "Your comfort zone." I recall from that episode how Dunham's character just sat there and stared at the poster on the wall, contemplating the meaning.
I've been in that exact same position as Dunham's character, staring at this picture, for what seems like an eternity, reflecting on my own life. "Why can’t I be where where the magic happens?" "Why am I stuck in my own comfort zone and what will it take for me to get out?" These were two thoughts that came up most often. The words might vary but the theme was the same: "What was keeping me from stepping outside my comfort zone?" My comfort zone was my job, my comfort zone was staying hidden, behind the curtain and afraid to step out and get noticed in my professional work. The potential magic was taking a leap to do something brave, daring and to risk failure. The predominant vision that kept recurring was leaving my full-time job to start a private practice. The comfort of a regular paycheck was preventing any career magic from happening. But finally, just recently, I was brave enough to be vulnerable and make a leap outside my comfort zone to where I am now--I'm stepping out from behind the curtain, hoping to be noticed and trying to make some magic happen.
The funny thing is that, until recently, I never turned this idea of "where the magic happens" around to focus on something other than me. Now I'm applying this notion of stepping outside your comfort zone to Intuitive Eating. I've begun to think about the people (some clients, some friends, some just acquaintances) that I know who are struggling with or working on incorporating Intuitive Eating (IE) into their lives. Some are struggling to get rid of their diet mentality. Some are fighting even to start to use IE in their life. Some are dealing with letting go of their food rules while still fearing loss of control. No matter what the issues are, leaving one’s comfort zone is a huge challenge and I for one know full well what it’s like.
The comfort zone is where we feel safe. It’s the familiar environment were we know what to expect. It’s the safety of a “home base” that we never stray too far from for fear we might not find our way back. Wanting to be comfortable is normal. But here’s the thing: sometimes we mistake safety and comfort for something positive when it can actually be negative, holding us back from that amazing magic.
The common things I hear from people who struggle with IE are:
- “If give into my cravings, I won’t stop eating.”
- “I am not happy with my body unless it is a certain size and I won’t try anything that might cause me to gain weight.”
- “IE sounds great, but I don’t think I can do that. I need to be on a diet. I need structure”
- “I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe or comfortable around dessert.
Your diet, your food rules, your cleanse, your body loathing are not your comfort zone. You might think you are safe and supported with your structure, your meal plan or your diet, but that is a false sense of security. Those constructs are just keeping you from landing where the magic happens.
It’s a scary leap to truly be ready for something new. It takes courage to put your foot down and say, "enough is enough." "I’m done living in fear of food and my body." "I’m done with feeling horrible about every food choice and every curve of my body." It’s time to take that leap outside your comfort zone.
Maybe some of these simple tips will help you get started:
- Read Intuitive Eating - It is the basis for how I work and it will change how you think about food!
- Be curious - Think hard about what might really be at the center of your resistance to change. Learning to objectively examine your thoughts is a skill that is essential for becoming an Intuitive Eater.
- Learn to check in - Check in with hunger levels throughout the day. Check in with what cravings you might be having and honor them. Check in with how satisfied you are at the end of a meal and adjust what you eat the next time to ensure satisfaction.
- Listen - Listen to the inner voice you use to talk to yourself about your body and about food. Is it nurturing or negative? Just learning to be more nurturing to yourself is an important first step.
- Permission - Give yourself permission to ask for help. There are many people out there who are willing to help, myself included. Give one of us a call to find a partner in your journey towards the place where that magic happens when it comes to food and your body.