Featured image from Buttercream Dreams (Stockport based)
Christmas and then New Year is coming up … for many a time of ‘terror’ for Christmas parties, and then “the resolutions” (not something I’ve ever been a fan of – start where you are, don’t wait for a random date in the calendar). I’ve only ever got involved in formal dieting once… and that was Slimming World in 2006 … originally, I lost 3 stone (though I was training for a 10k at the same time) … but then … this picture came too true as I think it messed up my head more than it helped:
True, I did end up with a chest infection/post-viral fatigue which didn’t help with my otherwise quite busy exercise habit, but by 2009, when I first came across Beyond Chocolate, I seemed to be putting on a stone every six months. I can’t tell you what I weighed a year after I first started ‘experimenting’ with Beyond Chocolate as I threw away scales, but I can tell you I am still using some of the same clothes from 2010!
The 10 basic ‘Beyond Chocolate’ principles are (in my translation):
- ‘Tune in’ and become aware of what your body wants/needs, and what else might be triggering a craving for food.
- Eat when you are hungry – rather than when the clock says that you should.
- Eat what you want – there’s no such things as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, and ‘willpower’ just doesn’t work – so feel empowered to make choices instead.
- Experience that you are eating – put it on a plate rather than grazing or multi-tasking with the TV.
- Notice when you’ve had enough (not stuffed full, but satisfied) and stop. You can have more later, if you want…
- Enjoy food! It’s not a minefield, a danger zone, or a ‘naughty treat’…
- You don’t have to love your body, but you need to own it, acknowledge that it’s part of you.
- Move! Not painful exercise sessions, but enjoyable movement – whatever works for you!
- Make ‘self-care’ a priority – women so often put themselves last, and find that food is the only way to treat themselves. BC also has an online support system.
- ‘Be your own guru’ – you know yourself best – listen, explore and experiment – find what works for you!
and what I love about them is that it’s not a set of rules that someone else has written – it’s all about experimenting to find out what works for you – and there’s always a new way to experiment! Sophie’s words echo in my head “Try something once (rather than “giving up forever”), and if it works, try it again – it may well become a habit.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love my body to be smaller, for all kinds of reasons – not least that our culture surrounds us with images of women with ‘perfect (photoshopped) bodies’, and that some of the physical things I want to do would be easier, but Beyond Chocolate has influenced my life in so many other ways – let me see if I can think of some that are ‘suitable for sharing’ (yes, one does not need to share everything – but diet/weight is one of those things people only typically talk about whilst on it/reached goal weight!) – this is written on the fly:
- My constant priority has been to get more sleep – once I’m tired I just want to eat stuff that makes me feel rubbish the next day…. and looking for other aspects of ‘self-care’ – which combined with some help from counsellors and coaches has led to a decluttered house/wardrobe and even saying no sometimes!
- I have learnt to enjoy the food I eat much more … if I don’t like it, I’ll leave it (sorry, even if you’ve made it specially for me) – surprising how many cakes one doesn’t like once one stop thinkings “ooo, cake, never have that, stuff in all the cake”.
- I experiment with cooking a whole lot more … although this will be much easier once back in a full-size kitchen again – I have no work surface, and no dishwasher means I can’t be bothered to use as many pans as often!
- I’ve realised how much I’m a ‘social exerciser’ – if I can chat and move at the same time – that has to be a winner… I’ve experimented with some new stuff … current faves will be karate, swimming, hill-walking, and I’m experimenting with trampolining – and debating starting to use my bike to cycle into work – well, will try it at least once!
- There’s a practice known as ‘stocking up’, where you take more than you could eat in weeks and put it all in a container – whenever you want something – take some, put on a plate and eat … for some reason after doing this Haribo just don’t have the same pull – I threw a load of them away as they’d gone off!
- Found some more shops that do decent clothes – no point going in Top Shop or H&M, but shops such as Yours, Simply Be, and even e.g. Sainsbury’s Tu has some things I like. No point waiting – find some stuff that’s nice now!
- Recognised that I am more than my body. My faith would say you are wonderful just for existing, but sometimes our culture makes us feel that we should justify our existence … well I’ve done quite a lot too – to which weight is immaterial! I can’t worry so much about those who say “I just care” whilst giving diet advice … thank you, then ‘Keep calm and carry on’!
I hope you’ll decide that the ‘New Year Diet’ is not for you, and even just writing this has reminded me of some things I want to try … Go and find out what’s on offer at Beyond Chocolate – a lot of support for free (also paid courses)!
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.