Last night I briefly mentioned emotional intelligence. It’s quite important stuff really.
The definition of emotional intelligence (EI) is, ‘the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.’ So it is in no way linked to intelligence in the widely understood sense…I personally know some really clever feckers who have hardly any EI…the kind of guys last on your list to contact in a crisis, but maybe first on your list as a ‘phone a friend on ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’!
The leading researchers in the field of EI are Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. Their definition takes the above one a step further in the sense that we utilise the ‘information’ to guide our thinking and actions. It is this information that is vitally important – in my humble opinion – when it comes to winning the weight loss war!
Before I get into the weight loss bit though, I want to highlight a model proposed by Salovey and Mayer – the four branches of EI. They identified different factors of EI – the perception of emotion, the ability reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions.
#1 – Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.
#2 – Reasoning With Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritise what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.
#3 – Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he’s been fighting with his wife.
#4 – Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of EI. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.
It’s getting a little clearer as to why EI is pretty bloody important!
You will know people who are great listeners. Regardless of the situation, they seem to know just what to say – and how to say it – without offending or upsetting you. Caring and considerate, and even if we don’t find a solution to our problem, you generally leave their company feeling more hopeful and optimistic.
You will also know a cool, calm and collected person. Someone that you could describe as a master at managing their emotions. They don’t get angry in stressful situations. Instead, they have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They’re excellent decision makers, and they know when to trust their intuition. Regardless of their strengths, however, they’re usually willing to look at themselves honestly. They take criticism well, and they know when to use it to improve their performance.
As I read this, I immediately think of my Mum – she has sky-high EI! Mine apparently is high…but I do offend and upset at times – albeit when trying to come from a good place. Sometimes I just cannot be bothered with arseholes though and will offend and upset on purpose…but that’s another blog post! 😉
So what does EI have to do with weight loss. I guess it’s kind of clear to see how it could benefit our day to day life…that ability to read people, to be a go-to person, to trust your intuition, and to get results.
When it comes to weight loss I am a firm believer that the war is won in the mind. The vast majority of people know the difference between healthy and unhealthy options – or at least have the wherewithal to discover the healthy options. When we want to lose weight the first thing we focus on is our food…the second thing is our movement…but rarely, if ever, do we consider the mind. I know I harp on about the mind…but stick with me! 😉
So why don’t we choose the healthy option? It’s likely down to EI…
Let’s look at self-awareness – knowing yourself well, and knowing how you appear to others. In an eating sense being self-aware would involve knowing your hunger levels, being aware of emotions that may trigger your eating, knowing your food preferences, listening to the physiological signals your body gives, your daily eating habits…the list goes on!
If we look at another component of EI – flexibility – being able to go with the flow without having a meltdown! In an eating sense this would involve making good choices if your routine changes…such as a dinner invite, or a party – and being able to adjust your food intake based on hunger levels…not clearing your dinner plate just because it’s there when you know that you had a massive lunch for example.
And then optimism – keeping a positive outlook. This is crucial when it comes to weight loss as the journey is never smooth. We often get unexpected results of both the good and not so good kind! So being positive about your healthy eating – rather than feeling deprived, or avoiding feelings of guilt when you may have slipped off the wagon, or remaining hopeful and believing that your healthy eating is a positive change for the long-term.
The list is pretty endless. All of the positive attributes of successful people with high EI can be used when it comes to our weight loss. And you can learn this stuff – I used it myself and now use it with my clients regularly…it’s quite powerful and empowering, and creates great change.
When I started to develop my EI eating skills – it took time – I would do things like eat something without really recognising what I had done. Now, for example, I will say to myself ‘if I eat that, then I won’t feel good’…rather than thinking ‘I want it!’ Or if I think ‘why can’t I eat that?!’ I will switch my thinking and say ‘its just a craving – I’ve eaten too much of that crap already!’ or ‘this won’t help me reach my goal’.
I won’t go into loads of detail – this subject requires a book all of it’s own! – but there are online tests you can do to find out your EI level, and there are also lots of things that you can do to develop your EI – you’ve heard me harp on about my food and mood diary…tracking my emotions in line with my eating…writing down how I felt before I ate certain food and how I felt afterwards…this can really help!
Then there is the ‘pause’ that I have talked about…taking time to consider your food cravings before you eat that food – not telling yourself that you ‘can’t’ but giving yourself a pause of half an hour before you do – using that time to focus on your emotions and working out why you felt like eating that food.
You have heard me talk about positive mindset…the 100 happy days, or the Three Blessings exercise. Seriously, there is so much out there that may not seem it will make a difference…but it does.
I like to think of the mind stuff as personal training for the brain. I might even call myself ‘The Mind PT’ given the coaching I do in this area!
Spending time developing this aspect of yourself is really important – it takes practice. Just as you don’t expect to shift weight overnight, or develop your gym training technique overnight…this doesn’t happen overnight either!
That’s it from me…I am shattered tonight. I woke up early and knew that the day was going to be tough – I had my Mums mare to deal with. She wouldn’t let us catch her…we had to wait for the cavalry to arrive! My ‘horse whisperer’ arrived and managed to get her into a position within twenty minutes to catch her. Then it was the turn of the trailer. At one point she cat-leapt onto the ramp…literally all four hooves jumped and her full weight landed on my poor trailer – Freddie Freelander was not impressed as his bonnet headed skywards! The sticking point was the partition in the trailer…she could not understand how she could fit through the gap – despite having done it before – and the partition couldn’t be removed as I hadn’t got the correct breaching bars…this means nothing to the non-horsey – I apologise! So he pretty much did what I did the other day…but condensed his work as I felt sorry for her and kept giving her a break! Eventually we manoeuvred the trailer into a tricky position and she went on and off a few times. This was my last chance saloon option…but my Dad talked me out of it last time as he felt it might be too tricky! So it was nice to know that I wasn’t being a total numpty…and also nice to watch someone else on the end of the rope instead of me. The journey to the new stables was uneventful – despite closed roads and detours – and I unloaded her at the other end…she was a little lamb! I settled her in and left her with my Mum who spent the afternoon with her, before heading off to the gym – which was the last thing I wanted to do to be honest. And then I saw my niece and nephew before heading home to prepare dinner, catch up with a couple of clients, making a start on this blog post, and then going for my evening swim. I think the rest of the night will be spent watching TV and sleeping…lots of sleeping!
Breakfast: Two banana pittas (2 x HEB).
A gorgeous food day! Brekkie was an unusual one…I knew I needed a bit more fuel for my horsey morning and so used my HEBs and had a couple of bananas…it was rather nice. Lunch was a quick grab’n’go option from Asda – Quorn chicken bits, a bean salad eaten without the dressing which made it syn free, some fruit salad, and cheese…lovely cheese. Dinner was good too – a cheats Chinese curry using the Bisto chip shop curry sauce – with mushrooms, onions, pepper, and spinach…and rice. My snack was delicious…my usual Asda frozen cherries, 0% Total, and a chopped up Nakd bar…with raspberries as Mr WLB shared his snack with me…isn’t he adorable?! 😉
Exercise: 20 minutes elliptical machine, 12 minutes hand-bike, and 18 minutes on the treadmill…followed by a 60 minute swim.
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx