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5 Ways to End Your War with Food

2. Understand that weight loss isn't everything — but it is something

Being thin does not lead to happiness. It does not. All you have to do is read the magazines and watch television to learn about all the thin, rich, beautiful celebrities who are in and out of rehab, crashing their cars, getting in and out of marriages. A lot of the people I work with have lost weight five or 10 or 30 times in their lives. Losing weight did not make them forever happy. If it did, they wouldn't be coming to see me, sitting at my retreat. So, as I say in my book, it's not about the weight.

But it's not about weight if you're uncomfortable in your body. There's a way of being in your body, a lightness, that can be a pleasure. Do your back or joints hurt? Are bending or walking or just sitting in a chair difficult for you? When you're physically uncomfortable, when going to the movies is challenging and flying is torturous, the weight is a problem. You become so burdened that life becomes about your limitations.

3. Go ahead and feel bad

Too many people eat to avoid the pain or discomfort they're feeling. But this only creates more discomfort. When you eat past what your body says is enough, you end up burping, farting, just being terribly uncomfortable. Now you've doubled the pain, because you're still in pain about what you ate to avoid.

Let's say that I'm very angry or I have a broken heart. I don't really know what to do about it. I'm so uncomfortable feeling those feelings, and my belief is that if I allow myself to really feel them, then I will destroy myself — I'll be overwhelmed, I'll become completely enraged, or I'll cry so much that I'll never get off the bed, and I won't be able to function. These are the things we tell ourselves. I'll often say to somebody, "Okay, let's just sit here and be with that sadness for a couple of minutes and see if it destroys you." And of course it never does. If you can allow what you're feeling to simply be there, after a while you start being more interested in finding your way to happiness rather than suffering. You start understanding what you do to cause your own suffering. And then you sort of say, Choice A or Choice B. I can keep doing this and be totally miserable, or I can stop. I can open another bag of chips and feel even worse than before I ate it, or I can become interested in what's happening that makes me feel that I need to eat.

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