I’m socially awkward and I’m an oddball in general. Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m
definitely OK with my weirdness and the things that make me unique. I do, however, still revert
to my younger self when I’m in new social situations. Over the years, I’ve coped with this feeling
in a variety of unhealthy ways. One of those unhealthy coping mechanisms has been that I’ll
just eat/snack/drink uncontrollably at social gatherings. I’m usually not hungry but I just need to
occupy myself so I don’t feel so darn uncomfortable in my own skin. My rational self knows
that, not only are people not even thinking about me, but they are probably preoccupied with
their own insecurities. Nonetheless, I find this to be the one area I haven’t quite conquered yet.
I’ve found, when coaching my clients through their HCG journey, that social situations
are a huge hurdle and/or road block. I will ask my client what (specifically) triggered the
compulsion to eat or drink poorly in a social situation. I really want to get to the bottom of why
we cannot seem to maintain our healthy eating habits when we are socializing. This, of course,
opened a can of worms! I’m happy it did though because this is clearly a place where we need
to analyze and figure out why we self sabotage in these situations over and over again.
The factors are many and myriad. They range from complex family dynamics to a (very
common) deeply ingrained association between happiness in social settings and decadent food
and alcohol. These factors, in my opinion, are all understandable and certainly valid. Initially, I
wanted an answer for my clients. I wanted a tried and true formula but I was unable to come up
with one that felt doable to me. I researched (also known as Googling lol) and the information
felt detached and generic and very one-size-fits-all. Or, conversely, there was a lot of advice that
suggested abstaining from social gatherings while on a diet or very rigid protocols that seemed
unlikely to stick. Again, I was not satisfied with that answer. I want you to live normally and
happily while eating healthily. Otherwise, it’s not sustainable so what’s the point. When you
leave me, I want you to just carry on seamlessly and feel completely empowered to take
ownership of your health and body!
After researching and thinking about how I could best help people overcome this hurdle
I came up with an approach that can be used going into any and every social engagement. My
approach with my clients has been to assess each social situation separately and well in
advance. I will ask you if you have something coming up. We will then talk about all the
possible triggers that may arise in that situation. I will help you come up with strategies to
manage all of these triggers and even unforseen ones if possible. Sometimes, the answer is to
say “no” to an event. If you know that an event will only bring you stress and anxiety, you are
well within your right to sit it out. I found that, after really delving into each social situation
separately and creating a personalized game plan each time, that the success rate of my clients
shot through the roof! This is certainly something you can do on your own and, with practice,
you will only get better at it. Your homework this week is to think about a situation in the near
future that is giving you anxiety. There is no need to even think about the healthy eating for this
drill. This is just a tool to help you start to understand yourself better. Follow these steps and
see how you do.
- Write down the event
- Write a list of possible triggers that may arise that
day (including specific people)
- Truly think about whether or not you even want to go
to this event
- If you decide you will not go, cancel the plan and let it go!
- If you decide you will go, make a list of ways you you can deal with all the various
triggers (take your time and write as many things as you can think of)
- Go over this list and refine it as you get closer to the day. The more you plan, the better
armed you are to deal with unpleasant situations.
- On the day of the event, try as best as you can to let go of the list. Don’t obsess! You’ve
really pored over this information and you’ve done the legwork. Now you just have fun!
- When a trigger does occur, you will find that you are almost excited to be able to test
drive all your new tools. (Like me walking away from my grandmother when she
comments on my weight. It’s a good feeling lol!).
This will be useful with the holidays around the corner and I’d love to hear all about your ups and
downs. Or maybe you have some great ideas or tools of your own. Just shoot me an email to
let me know what worked or didn’t work or even just to say hello :-)