the food freedom lab podcast with ryann nicole

Embracing New Changes – Am I really THAT positive?

June 8, 2023

Ryann Nicole

Hi, I’m Ryann.

Your Not-So-Average Food Freedom Therapist & Virtual Coach. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Nutritionist with a BA in Psychology, and a MA in Professional Counseling, yes I do a little of the "so how does that make you feel".

But my ultimate goal is to provide you with the resources you need, in an easy-to-understand way, on healing your disordered relationship with food and your body. 

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I am back, for those of you that haven't heard.


I am pregnant, and first trimester literally destroyed me. I was very unprepared. My morning sickness was really bad and I swear I was just surviving. So I took a little break from the podcast, but not to worry. I am feeling much better as I head into almost third trimester already and have so many amazing episodes and guests lined up coming your way. So the podcast is coming back full-fledged.

And as I got thinking about the first thing I wanted to chat about, as I come back to the podcast, the thing that kept coming up to mind was embracing change. So I'm currently going through a major change and I know so many of you are also going through a major change as you work on healing your relationship with food. And the thing about change is that even if it's a positive change, it can still be really hard. And obviously, the reason why it's so hard is because of the unknown that comes along with it, right?

Like even with positive change, there's a lot of unknown and I think that at the end of the day, that's the hardest part about it is not having this point blank like when this change happens, this is what the result is going to be. Sometimes it's that way, but oftentimes it's not.

Like, let's take my pregnancy, for example. It's so exciting, and I'm incredibly grateful it's been tough not knowing if I'm gonna have a healthy baby, what my body is gonna do, when the morning sickness will go away, how we're gonna manage financially, what happens when the baby comes, and all the little things that you don't really think about until you're in it.

No different than when you go into healing your relationship with food and your body. Even though it can feel very exciting and you know it's for the best, it can bring a lot of fear as well because you don't know what's gonna be on the other side. What's gonna happen to my body? What's gonna happen if I don't count calories? Will I really get to a place where I can allow myself to eat what I want without losing control? What are others gonna think if I tell them that I'm not dieting? What is gonna happen if I'm not actively trying to control my weight when I let go of the scale when I delete my fitness pal? So many unknowns and that can feel so daunting. Not to mention, our brains aren't wired for change, they're wired to keep us safe, aka anything that's new, uncomfortable, or out of routine is gonna challenge your brain and resistance is going to be natural even if again it's a positive change. So what do you do? How do you embrace change in a productive and positive way? Especially when you're feeling resistant or it's really hard.

Not to digress, but I promise it relates, I always get asked when I do a question box on Instagram about ask me anything and every single time I do that, I get at least three questions that say, Ryan, how are you so positive all the time? And this question always catches me off guard because I feel like I'm really not that positive and I know I'm definitely not that positive all the time. And anybody who knows me also knows that I'm very dramatic, especially when things aren't great.

We're working on it.


But the more that I thought about this question and why you might have this perception of me, I realized it's not that I'm positive all the time. It's that I don't dwell on the negatives. When I'm having a tough day or things are hard or I'm going through a change and there's a lot of unknowns, I acknowledge the negatives, I think that's really important, but I also acknowledge that focusing all my attention on the negatives doesn't do anything. It's wasted energy that I could be using elsewhere.

For example, the other day I went into my closet, and I was getting dressed to go to lunch with a girlfriend that I haven't seen in a long time. And as I was getting dressed, I was trying on outfit after outfit after outfit and nothing was fitting. And I was feeling so frustrated because it felt like I had just bought so many new clothes that I was like, these are going to fit me for a while. And all of a sudden, none of them fit, because I have no idea what's happening to my body, and my body, is changing really freaking fast. I had this moment where I was like, I'm not gonna go I'm not gonna go to this lunch. Like I'm gonna cancel I don't have anything to wear and I started to really dwell on the negatives about I can't believe my body is changing so fast. The books say I should only be here, but I'm over here and my brain was going there. I took a moment to be like, ‘you know what, I can be upset about the fact that I don't have any clothes that fit right now and I can be mad about body changes or I can be frustrated about the fact that my body is changing faster than it's quote-unquote supposed to based on these arbitrary numbers in a book who God knows who wrote.'

But anyways, I had this moment where I was like, I could but like that doesn't change anything. That's not gonna make these clothes fit. That's not gonna make this lunch any better. It's not gonna make my day better. It's not gonna change my body. It's not gonna help the fact that I just spent all of this money on things that don't work like it's not. It doesn't change anything. So that right there is to show you that I'm not a perfect human that can just dismiss negatives. Sometimes it's easier than others. Definitely a practice. But because I know how destructive dwelling on negatives can be and how much of a waste of energy it can be when I notice myself struggling to let go of negatives I instantly allow myself to reset or I reach out to talk about it to get out of my head.

So in that example the other day, I was like, you know what? I need to take a minute from trying things on I'm gonna get out of my room and get out of my closet Go take a breath snuggle Jack take him outside and then I'm gonna come in and I'm going to just put something on that works. And if it's not the cutest thing ever, that's okay. Like that's okay. But I am not going to let, but I'm not going to let this feeling in this mood take away from getting to have this experience with a friend that I haven't seen in a long time. I spent so many times missing out on things because of food and body, food and body. We're not doing that anymore.

So I think that that is really the difference. The energy that you're getting from me that seems like I'm positive all the time isn't positivity. It's not dwelling, which is something I had to learn how to stop doing.

To circle back to our change conversation and how to manage new changes, whether it be food changes, body changes, life changes, partner changes, work changes, et cetera. Even if they're exciting, it's always hard. So what if instead of trying to force yourself to be positive when you're in a change that is hard, you just practice not dwelling on the negatives instead? You acknowledge your feelings without fueling them. I know that not dwelling and being positive sounds like the same thing when I say it that way, but it's not, and here's the difference. When you try to force yourself to be positive when you're in a mood, I don't know about you, but it makes me more irritated, more upset, more resistant.

When someone is like, think about the positives, or things could be worse. When I'm in it, right, like that doesn't help. That doesn't help.

Have you ever heard the term toxic positivity? Toxic positivity is when you dismiss the negative emotions you are feeling by forcing yourself to try to be positive, which is reinforcing the belief that negative emotions are bad and to be avoided, which isn't true. There's nothing inherently bad about negative emotions. It is what you do with those negative emotions that can be destructive or productive. And well, if you've ever struggled with food, you know what happens when you avoid negative emotions. Q1, going to the food to soothe or 2, restricting food to control and then the inevitable binge.

For example, your body changing is hard. I'm going through it right now with you, I'm pregnant. My body has changed a lot in a very fast period of time and I have no idea where my body is gonna be at the end of this and it might not ever be to where it was before. Just like when you started healing your relationship with food, you have no idea where your body is going to eventually settle. So rather than standing in front of the mirror and reciting to yourself positive rah-rah rainbow and sunshine mantras about loving your body that will likely make you more frustrated because you don't love your body, what if instead you practice just not dwelling on the negatives you're feeling towards your body?

When you notice yourself hyper-focusing on all the areas of your body you dislike, you acknowledge that you aren't loving what you see right now without fueling that. This might sound like, yeah, I don't love how my body looks right now. And I can still appreciate what my body does for me today, or I'm uncomfortable in my body right now and hating my body or obsessing over it isn't going to make me more comfortable in my body. I'm going to focus on caring for my body today. Notice how different that is.

When you're going through a major change and the unknown of this is scary, you don't have to dismiss the fact that it's scary. You don't have to pretend like it's not hard. You don't need to brush your negative feelings about this change under the rug to force yourself to be positive when you don't feel positive because that's not going to do anything for you. Rather, what if you simply practice acknowledging the things you're feeling and experiencing while directing your energy into something more productive.

When you notice your mind hyper-focusing on the negatives, interrupt it, acknowledge your feelings without feeling them, redirect your attention onto what you know to be true. For example, interruption like nope, not thinking like that, acknowledge it like I am struggling with xyz, this is hard, and redirect with something along the lines of and I know xyz to be true.

Let's go through something specific. You are starting to work on healing your relationship with food and you notice yourself thinking, why do I have to do this? Why can she restrict her food and she is fine? Why do I have to do all of this work? That was something that came up in my mind so often when I was going through recovery. Interrupting that will sound something along the lines of noticing that thought and saying to yourself, nope, we're not thinking like that today.

Acknowledging the emotion that you're feeling might sound something along the lines of, I'm struggling with comparison. I'm feeling frustrated that this is my current life situation. This is hard. And that redirection is going to sound something along the lines of, and focusing my attention on why me doesn't change anything. It's not going to help me heal or feel better. So today I'm going to focus on the things that I can do to help me feel better. Notice that feels so different than being like, no, I should be okay. This is right. I should be, you know, all of that. It doesn't help.

Does this practice get easier? Yeah. Is it ever perfect? Absolutely not. But perfection isn't the goal. The goal is embracing change for what it is, a constant in our life that is bringing us to our next destination, while recognizing that change is hard, even if it's a positive change. And just like faking positivity doesn't do anything for you, dwelling on the negatives doesn't do anything for you either. I'm not positive all the time. I've just gotten better at not dwelling on the negatives. It takes practice, and let me tell you, since I've been pregnant and it's been a whole other level of bringing it back to foundational emotion regulation skills, and reminding myself of this all over again.

So maybe this episode is really for me to hear this, because I do know that refocusing your attention just hits in a different way. If you're currently going through a change right now, whether it be you are starting recovery, you have moved, new job, you're no longer in a relationship, finances have shifted, remind yourself the one thing in life that is constant is change. Just because things are this way now it doesn't mean they will be this way forever. Just like trying to force myself to be positive doesn't help, dwelling on the negatives doesn't help, I'm allowed to reach out for help when I'm struggling with this change and without this change I wouldn't grow. And I'll leave it at that. I'm so happy to be back. I miss you all. Chat next week.



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