I'm puppy-sitting a very adorable dog named Rosey (and yes, that's the way her name is spelled – some people have told me that it's spelled wrong but this is the way her “people” spell her name).
A rose by any other name, right? Well, Rosey can teach all of us about self-acceptance. How?
For one thing, Rosey does not see exercise as something she is supposed to do. Dogs get out and move because there's stuff to see and smell and do. They race around and because they enjoy it, not because it's good for them.
They don't gird themselves up for exercise by thinking,
“I really have to make myself go on that walk.”
“It's good for me and it'll burn calories. I have to do it.”
Nope, they simply love running, walking and getting exercise.
Tip #1: Find something you love to do!
Whether it's running, walking, dancing, yoga, running], weight training, or whatever, and do it – not because it's something you're supposed to do but because it's FUN.
And by the way, if you've ever picked up a leash and had your dog look very indifferent, as if to say, “I'm not moving an inch off this doggie bed,” guess what?
Dogs don't beat themselves up. They don't say, “I'm so lazy. I can't believe I don't want to go on that walk. What is the matter with me?”
If you're telling yourself you're lazy and that there's something wrong with you, you're going to feel bad, and when you feel bad, you're vulnerable to using food for comfort or distraction. When you accept yourself, your feelings get your attention, not your condemnation.
Tip #2: Don't make your needs a character issue!
The other life lesson from dogs is that dogs express themselves: If they're happy, you know it. If they're not happy, you know it.
Dogs don't think, “I love, love, love, this person, but I don't want to show that I care, because what if they don't love me back? What if I'm too much? What if they think I'm weird?”
Dogs just lick you and wag their tails and show you how thrilled they are to see you.
If they're upset, they show it. They growl, or bark, or both. They don't think, “It's wrong to be angry and upset. I'm a bad dog because I have these feelings.”
If someone treats a dog badly, they don't deny their anger. They don't think, “I'm not angry at this person. I have no anger. What's really upsetting me is the fact that I ate a bagel for breakfast. I'm so mad at myself.”
No, they just bark or growl. If they're afraid, they lean up against you or shy away, or show that they're frightened. They don't say, “I'm such a wimp. I need to man up, here.”
Tip #3: Express yourself without judgment!
After all, feelings are a reaction to a situation, not a character flaw. You can't eat away feelings, push them away, drop them… you can only feel them.
When you can pay attention to your basic needs, and when you express yourself and connect with others, you will feel better. When that happens, you don't need food for comfort or distraction.
And that's how you win the diet war!