• Amy C. Willis

Seek Enjoyment Elsewhere

As a part of my health and life coach training, I get A LOT of #coaching. That generally takes the form of monthly coaching calls with my success coach as well as weekly coaching calls with other student coaches. One of the things I’ve been working on is exploring the connection between how packed my schedule is and the stress this ends up creating in my life and how in an elevated stress state, I often turn to not the healthiest (the latest obsession is the mixed berry scone from Whole Foods) food choices in an effort to find pleasure and #enjoyment, a brief reprise from my otherwise stressed out state.


Perhaps you’re asking yourself why I’m concerned about eating a scone or why I’m even taking the time to write about this. Stick with me. All will be revealed.


The underlying “why” or my “Big Motivating Factor” aka my Big MoFa (which is coach speak for the root of your goals that REALLY motivates you) is that I have a couple of chronic health conditions (migraines and asthma) that I have been working hard to manage holistically over the last several years. A significant part of this #holistic approach is my diet (and not diet in the sense of deprivation but rather, in the sense of the foods that I regularly eat). Knowing that sugar, dairy and gluten (all of which can be found in my cherished scone) can cause inflammation in the body, I generally try to steer clear of them, as well as highly processed foods.


One thing you should know about me is that I really LOVE food and eating. I derive a lot of joy and enjoyment from it. I also have a bit of a sweet tooth, though I have also worked on that a lot over the years and gotten to a much happier, healthier place with enjoying sweet things. To be clear, I think it’s perfectly okay to enjoy sweet treats from time to time. For me, that wasn’t my experience. I would buy a box of Oreos and eat the entire thing in one sitting, while contemplating if I should then go and buy another box. It didn’t feel good, wasn’t healthy for me and was fuelled by something much deeper than wanting a treat; it also did not feel like I was in control of myself. Sounds a bit like addiction, no? For me, it was worth taking a look at for these reasons, not because I think eating is Oreos is bad (though if you do want a cookie, I can offer a bunch of other really delicious recipes that are healthier options - OR just eat the Oreo).


Hopefully at this point, you’ve gleaned that food has had a complicated role in my life. After years of work, reading personal development #books until the cows came home and therapy, I have FINALLY gotten to the place where I can enjoy food for what it is - fuel, energy, and nourishment for my body - NOT something that fills the void and “makes” me happy. That said, I do definitely still find a lot of pleasure in great food, though now a lot of the pleasure is derived from knowing that I can prepare nutrient-dense, delicious, balanced meals for myself (side salad - I was never taught to cook or prepare food and used to work in restaurants so that I always had someone to feed me), which is an entirely new thing for me. I derive immense pleasure in knowing that I am caring for myself by making great food choices that work well for my body.


The reason that I’m now fixated on and writing about a scone is because through my coaching, I have been able to recognize that this scone is serving as an enjoyment crutch for me, while also potentially negatively impacting my #health and wellness. It’s not about the scone but what it does for me temporarily - brings pleasure and enjoyment and a brief break from an otherwise stressed out state. But when I say brief, I really mean it. The enjoyment only lasts as long as it takes me to eat the scone. And then I go back to my stressed state, with possibly an added side of guilt for making a choice that I know isn’t actually serving me or my wellness goals.


Through #coaching, I have brought a new level of awareness and connection to what I’m actually looking for or hoping to achieve when I reach for the scone. I’m looking for pleasure and enjoyment. And you know what? There are lots of things that bring me pleasure and enjoyment that don’t negatively impact my health. So my new goal now is to be more intentional in planning and scheduling things into my weeks that bring me joy and act as a stress reliever. I know this might seem terribly obvious but it wasn’t for me which means that connections like these might not be super obvious for others. Which is why I’m talking about it because perhaps you have a scone situation in your life, too, that could use some figuring out.


My new strategy is this: when I sit down to plan my week on Sunday, I look at what’s going on and I work to build in pockets of pleasure that I know I’ll enjoy and that will seek to disrupt what is otherwise a long day that could easily become a stressful one. This is an extension of my self-care practice. I am a HUGE self-care practitioner and advocate. For me, self-care ranges from getting massages regularly to enjoying monthly pedicures to working on yourself to setting strong AF boundaries. The spectrum of self-care is broad and robust, as it should be.


My pockets of pleasure don’t have to expensive or time consuming BUT they must be enjoyable and done entirely for pleasure. For example, going for a walk in nature for the pure joy of it rather than going for a walk cause you have to return your library books today. Some of the things I really enjoy are: spending time in nature, browsing new books at my local bookstore (this doesn’t even have to involve buying books), going to the movies alone, eating meals alone, walking with a podcast/audiobook and a coffee, getting pedicures, getting massages, reading for pleasure, spending quality time with my friends, meditating, napping, and planning other pleasure pockets.


The point is this: bringing some #awareness to what was happening for me was key and this revelation was possible because of the work I was doing in my coaching sessions. If you have a habit in your life that you’re not happy with it, take a good, long look at it (perhaps with the support of someone like a coach) and figure out why you’re holding onto it, what it’s doing for you and how it might be holding you back from achieving your goals or slowing you down from moving towards what you want. There’s likely another, healthier habit you can put in its place that will bring you the exact same feel good experience. You just have to be willing to take a look.

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