Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eating Integrity

You all know how much I LOVE Magpie's blog, right?? (She's the one that does the 8 things lists -- I do some of them too -- some of them I post and some I keep to myself)...Well, a couple days ago she had a guest blogger. Becky Knight is a Clinical Sexologist (once this was established in the opening paragraph --since I didn't know what a clinical sexologist did -- I was a little concerned about reading the post at work -- it would be a shame to get fired for reading a Magpie post gone wrong :)

As it turns out, Becky wanted to get readers thinking about how our guiding values (a subject of an earlier Magpie 8 things post)effected how we viewed our sexuality.

What you also know about me, is that I am all for exploring everyday decisions made on autopilot -- examining them to see if they are still working for me.

After reading Becky's post, I created my own list of 8 Guiding Principles listed below:

1. Beauty of life (look for it, embrace it, cultivate it)
2. Love
(grow it -- the world needs all it can get)
3. Peace (I am not world-wide ambitious -- I am talked about cultivating peace within myself -- if I am peaceful, it is more difficult for you to be in a crank -- if we all worked a little bit in this direction it might just change the world -- but the only thing I can do is do my part)
4. Grace
5. joie (things that make my heart sing)
6. Living out loud (not being afraid to make mistakes in my effort to live a full life -- what are the chances I am going to get it all right the first time I try, right?)
7. Carpe diem (this moment is all I am guaranteed)
8. Authenticity
and I couldn't resist adding just one more:
9. Fearlessness

If these are principles I am using to guide my life, shouldn't they be taken into consideration with my eating habits? Don't I want something that I do multiple times every day to support the principles I am using to guide my life? You bet!! being afraid to gain weight supportive of my guiding principles? NO.

Is worrying about how much fat is in my favorite risotto supportive of my guiding principles? NO.

Is beating myself up because I had to work through lunch today -- so I didn't get my workout in supportive? NO.

What about understanding that I am more able to do the work I love when I feel comfortable in my own skin? Yup.

What about enjoying my favorite fat-filled risotto but understanding that I can't eat the whole bowl in one sitting because it will upset my stomach -- and then accepting and acting on that thought? Yup.

What about understanding that I love the work I do and one workout more or less isn't really going to make that big of a difference one way or another -- I am in for the long haul? Yup. Yup.

If you won't treat yourself by the guiding principles, how true are you being to yourself? And how much is the world lessened by the way you treat yourself?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wisdom from the Tea shop

Last weekend, I was in my favorite coffee shop. This particular coffee shop is really a tea shop with coffee. The walls are lined with teas and tea paraphernalia, beautiful chocolates in glass display cases, and scattered on the tables are books written by tea lovers.

I picked up Chicken Soup for the Tea Lovers Soul, flipped it open to a page and started reading.

The story was a memory of the author's childhood in Bolivia. In the opening paragraph, the child has just been released from school and is running top speed to her mother's work to share afternoon tea. The author remembers running to tea because, in Bolivia according to the author, if you missed your tea, there would be no food until dinner at 8 o'clock in the evening. So, according to the author, you didn't dilly dally about getting there.

How long has it been since you have faced such a dilemma. Hurry to get somewhere because if you didn't, there wouldn't be anything to eat until dinner time?

Yes... I know... this isn't the way our culture, full of drive-thrus and vending machines, works. But really, wouldn't we all be more aware of the food we eat if there were fewer opportunities to eat?

I used to know a doctor who ate on a very regimented schedule. If he missed lunch because he got behind in his appointments, he wouldn't eat until his afternoon snack time -- and then it wasn't lunch, it was afternoon snack. (His office often overbooked him and his was a very healthy weight. Coincidence? I think not).

How would you feel if you had the structure to live this way? Yes, it required discipline at first (gosh, don't we all hate to tell ourselves "Not yet"?). But after a while, it becomes habit. Not something you have to think about -- just something you do because that is what you have trained yourself to do it.

Here's the key: the behavior has to be rewarding for you. You will be trading the reward of eating something for the reward of attaining and maintaining a healthy weight. And the reward has to be immediate (I am choosing not to eat the snack from the vending machine because this choice is making me healthier right now. By this choice, I am losing weight right now.)

Being healthier. Enjoy food and life more. Right now. Today.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Yesterday, I was browsing the bookstore -- a real one, not an online one -- not looking for anything in particular -- which is one way I love to spend a overcast day. I could spend hours picking up a book (obviously, one with an eye catching cover) reading the inside flap and putting it back down.

One that caught my eye was A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. The excerpt from the flap talked about how much of his life he doesn't remember. All of the activities done on autopilot. The mindlessness of it (my interpretation).

After I got home, I googled the book and found Don's blog with part of chapter 25 at the top of the page. Below is part of that excerpt (an excerpt of an excerpt, if you will):

"It’s like this when you live a story. The first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative and you’re caught in the water, the shore is pushing back behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The other shore is inches away and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of you’re boat and walking the distant shore, looking back to see where you came from. The first part of a story happens fast, and you think the thing is going to be over soon. But it isn’t going to be over soon. The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. It’s as though the thing is teaching you the story is not about the ending but about the story itself, about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. The shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes used to move you but they don’t anymore....

I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought and they can’t see the distant shore anymore and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their wife, on their husband, they go looking for an easier story....

The whole point of the story is the character arc. You didn’t think joy could change a person, did you? Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over. But it’s conflict that changes a person."

It is just another voice out there that puts forth the idea that life is in the journey. In weight loss terms, it is not about the end point of hitting your goal weight -- it is about the small changes you make to your life.

If the extra weight you are carrying around today makes life more difficult for you (mentally, emotionally, physically), it seems to me you would want to make sure you NEVER get into that position again! Take your time. Learn about yourself. You got to where you are for reasons.

If you eat emotionally -- there is a reason (or more likely reasons) for it. WHY do you do what you do? That coping strategy has worked in the past -- what has changed that it is not working for you now? Any halfway decent friend will tell you it is very hard to give up one coping mechanism if you don't have some other coping mechanism to replace it -- right then -- not AFTER the weight has come off. That is why diets work for the time that they work -- you are given a new set up coping mechanisms.

But ultimately, you go back to your old ways of coping (because you didn't learn anything that serves you long term -- you weren't even looking for something to serve you long term. You just wanted the weight off -- and there it went (with much hard work and decision making on your part). But when your "off" the diet, then what???

Back to the excerpt -- if you have a reasonable amount of weight to lose -- it might feel like you start off strong and you can see the progress you make (as you are paddling away from shore, so to speak) but when you get in the middle of the channel of your weight loss, it becomes harder and harder to keep paddling. The shore (your goal weight) doesn't feel like it is coming any closer -- it will take forever to get there --

It is at this point, I will ask you to keep in mind:

What are you options?

To quit paddling? To stop trying to lose weight? To settle for being dissatisfied because you don't think you can do it?

YOU CAN! But like all things worth having -- it comes one paddle stroke at a time. One eating decision at a time. Finding the small positives everyday (yeh! I passed up that tray of cookies, not because I told myself I couldn't have them, but because I noticed that they didn't even look that good!!!) and celebrating them. That is how you will get to where you are going -- one paddle stroke at a time.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hell is other people

A thought from the author of Beyond Chocolate:

"Or to be linguistic about it, "L'enfer c'est les autres", according to Jean-Paul Sartre. I used to agree totally. I longed for the house (or at least the kitchen) to be mine, all mine! Then I could eat. In a mindless, numb, rhythmic dance, my hands and mouth forming a ceaseless conveyor belt to my bored and beleaguered tum. I looked forward to the rest of my family going out together and leaving me at home "doing my homework". Overeating on my own was my way of rebelling against my mother's policing of every mouthful and every mealtime. ("Only one potato for Josie!") I never learned what was enough for me, or what I did or didn't like. I would eat anything and everything as soon as her back was turned.

She's been dead for 26 years now, but I've kept her memory green by giving other people the right (even though they're unaware of it) to dictate how free I feel about eating. I live with a slim partner and his slim children, and I still don't feel comfortable eating with them.

But now I'm looking at my relationship with food in a new way, I find other people a great source of information. I never noticed before, but some of them (the young ones particularly) are obviously "doing" the Beyond Chocolate principles. When I ask the children what they want for lunch, they go into a daze for a minute and sometimes tell me to ask them again later. This used to annoy me, but now I understand and respect what they're doing - tuning in.

I went to lunch with some married friends of mine last week and noticed they checked with each other what they'd be having for dinner before choosing from the menu. Advanced stuff!

When he's hungry, my dearly beloved wanders slowly about the kitchen, one hand on his tummy and the other had pointing at various kinds of food. For each one, he swings his "tummy hand" out to the side, as if he's opening a door, and points inside. ("I'm checking what shape the hole is.") He always takes the time to find out what and how much he's hungry for.

As for knowing when enough's enough, the smaller the child the better the lesson. Toddlers are so in tune with the moment of satisfaction, they will turn away from the spoon and try to climb out of the chair (and/or spit out the last mouthful) when they've reached their favourite number on their Hunger Scale. Maybe not acceptable behaviour when you're a grown up in a classy restaurant, but a useful demonstration.

And the old demon "wasting food" : I spent decades convinced that everyone was watching me eat and judging me for it. Now I've actually started watching other people eat, I realise how little anyone does it. What I've noticed is how much they don't eat (i.e. what they leave on the plate) and the fact that hardly anyone ever says a word about it. They don't apologise to the waiter or the host and nobody seems to mind. If they didn't serve themselves and take the right sized portion for them, what's left over sometimes looks like the same amount they started with! And not a peep or a raised eyebrow from anyone! (I can hear my mum rotating in her grave, of course.)

I'd always suspected thin people lived in a different world from me. Now I feel I've been allowed into that world and it's not full of calorie-counting, exercising robots. These are people like me who've learned some useful life skills that I am learning too, at last. And the world they live in makes so much more sense than the lonely, frustrating planet I used to inhabit."

Do something Friday

Yesterday, I spent the day talking to all sorts of interesting people at a Wellness Fair at Fabri-Kal in Kalamazoo. Lots of people willing to listen to me talk about ditching the diet mentality.

What I heard from a number of them, was how the weekend is especially hard when it comes to paying attention to what they are eating. So, here is something to try this weekend.

On your counter in your kitchen, line up some bowls. As you go through your day (or pick the time you are most prone to snacking) and you grab a handful of snackies, grab the same handful and put it into a bowl. (The key is not to mindlessly eat out of the bowls on the counter -- and keep your kids out of them too). If you pick a different snack next time you walk through the kitchen, it goes in a different bowl. At the end of your day, look at the counter -- it will have the amount of extras you have eaten throughout the course of the day -- this is the amount of food most of us have no real recollection we eat.

How many of these handfuls added value to your life and how many were mindlessly grabbed because the path to the garage leads you right through the kitchen (or maybe it doesn't. Maybe that is the detour you have trained yourself to make anytime you go anywhere in the house).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting to the root of what you need

Sometimes, when I talk about the the idea of mindfulness, it feels like people confused.

A while ago, I told you I was inspired to simplify the Eating Coach mantra to "Omit needless foods". But the question is: How? How do I decide what is needless for me? Is a batch of no bake cookies, made at 9pm on a weekday when the kids are in bed and I have no plans of taking the cookies to work tomorrow, needless? (the dilemma I was working through last night). Or maybe it is exactly needed -- since I have been craving no bake cookies for a week and haven't gotten a chance to make them yet.

The real point here is: show up for these decisions. The ship has sailed on the decision-making if I had been talking myself through this process at 9:05pm, standing at the stove stirring the melting butter and cocoa powder.

The goal is to live in the present moment! To be aware of what you are thinking, what you are doing, and what you are DECIDING to eat is imperative. Sometimes, eating cookies might be the needed thing to do -- am I going to know unless I ask myself "Is this really needed?"

As it turns out -- no bake cookies were needless for me last night. Tonight, the answer to that question may be different. The important thing is to ask yourself and then listen for the answer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lying to yourself

Weight loss is, at it's core, really about changing beliefs. Let's examine some beliefs about food.

1. Celebrations wouldn't be the same without cake (or cookies or doughnuts, or pizza, or .....)

2. Eating when I am stressed calms me down.

3. Eating when I am bored makes me less bored.

Really?? Are these beliefs really true for you???

Let's talk about weddings, graduations, births and birthdays, homecomings, and holidays. Is it really the food that is the center of the event? OR is it that you are surrounded by family and friends who are there to share your good fortune? Yes, we bond over food -- that is part of our nature -- but is it the food we are after OR the connection to others?

Stress -- we all have it. Does eating really calm you down? OR does it just give you a momentary distraction to get your mind away from the thoughts that are stressing you? If you did something else (watched TV -- without snacks, called a friend to talk or vent, went for a walk, journaled, ...) would it work just as well (or better)?

Boredom -- Again, is eating just a distraction from the situation you are faced with? Is being entertained by food how you want to live your life? Does eating change the root cause of your boredom?

Until you are ready to face the real reasons you eat -- the core beliefs you hold about food and how you use it -- lasting weight loss will be a struggle.

Don't lie to yourself. Don't accept the thoughtless easy answers. Give it good hard thought. Don't accept the idea that because this is the way it has always been life should continue along this path forever. Give your beliefs about food the inspection they deserve -- get to the heart of your beliefs. Perhaps it is time for a change.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So you think you can't afford an Eating Coach --

I was doing research the other day and came across a report entitled:

What 10 Diet plans cost: you can spend a little or you can spend a lot, but shedding those excess pounds doesn't depend on it.

The article gives an interesting table (posted April 2004) of the 10 leading diets and there cost.

Forbes cites the average single American spends $55.44 per week on food. The average Jenny Craig member spends $137.52 (prices are just for the food portion of the plan).

The article gives a table with food costs for:
Jenny Craig
Atkins Diet
Weight Watchers
Zone Diet
Ornish Diet
South Beach Diet
Sugar Busters
Subway Sandwich
No diet

Worth the read but here's the take home -- Diets work when people by into them. It is less what you are eating and more just cutting calories.

If you are spending big money on pre-packaged foods, what skills are you learning? When you "go off" that diet, have you learned how to portion the meals you serve yourself correctly? Have you learned anything besides "Eat everything that is put in front of you and when it is gone, Stop"? How will this skill fit in to eating at your favorite restaurant?

So, let's say you buy into the Eating Coach philosophy. The whole approach is to take the food that you are eating ($54.44 per week) and spend some time learning new skills to understand where your stopping point should be -- meal by meal. Learn to say "No" to the donut that doesn't look fresh or the piece of chocolate that is waxy --to enjoy the foods you are eating and learn to be satisfied (happy even) when you get up from the table feeling confident, light, content, and guilt-free.

That will bring your total for your week's spending to $104.44 (your food + your coaching)for a number of weeks. But, what you get out of it, are skills, strategies, and a common sense approach to eating that will do away with your fear and anxiety of eating and bring more peace to your life.

Monday, September 21, 2009


The idea of minimalism intrigues me. I read a post the other day where the author wanted to live with less than 100 personal items. He listed out all of the things he owned (shared household items didn't count) and he came up with 90 items including his whole wardrobe! Now...maybe I wouldn't go that far but still....

Quite a few years ago, my beautiful younger cousin (who might be one of the smartest people I know -- even though I know that is not how she sees herself) told me "Anything you own, owns a piece of you". And it makes a ton of sense -- houses need repairs, if you have more than one pair of shoes -- it is easier to lose one and end up spending time looking for it, the more clothes you have, the more laundry you do, etc, etc.

A few years ago, I moved to a new house and vowed not to take anything that wasn't either functionally necessary or something I really loved. And when all was unpacked, the house looked pretty underfurnished. As the years have progressed, I have added meaningful pieces to the house and it is coming along nicely -- but to get to my point....

How would it work if you were a food minimalist? You could eat anything you want but it had to be delicious -- not just run of the mill ordinary. If you took the first bite of something and it didn't meet your expectations, you didn't finish it. Or...when you were full you put your fork down and didn't finish what was on your plate.

In exchange for you high standards -- there where no holds barred -- you could eat anything that appealed to you without thinking about whether or not it was "healthy" or "low-fat".

Can you feel the sense of freedom this would give you?

Do you feel the first buddings of hope?

Being a minimalist with your food works. But, just like me trying to furnish my house with only pieces I love, it takes time to decide what your style is. You have to put some thought into how a certain food makes you feel -- both as your eating and after (ever been to the ball park/county fair/hockey rink and had something that later you realized was giving you the stomach ache of your life? Then when you went to a similar event at some later date you ate the same thing, with the same results, and wondered why you did it...again?)

To maintain a healthy weight -- every bite you eat needs to be used by your body or your body stores it as fat.

To lose weight -- you need to eat fewer bites than your body needs so it pulls the extra calories to maintain itself from your fat stores.

It is true what brilliant little cousin told me ... every thing you own, owns a piece of you. How much are you willing to let the food in your life control your quality of life -- the way you see yourself, the way you look at what you can accomplish in this world???

Friday, September 18, 2009

Do something Today!

The great thing about humans being able to communicate is that we can gain more knowledge (learn from other's mistakes) without having to rely soley on making all of the mistakes ourselves.

The down side to this is that sometimes we forget we obligated to assimilate the information we learn from others into a form that is useable for ourselves.

I can write down 6 steps, that if followed to the letter, would have you down to your goal weight in no time -- and as long as you lived those 6 steps, you would keep the weight off. This is all any diet is: a set of rule to control your behavior.

The thing is -- I have never met a person who could adopt a diet, by the book, and live it out for two years -- let alone a lifetime.

You are a unique individual. To be successful at weight management, you have to find a lifestyle that you can live with that supports your goal -- over a LIFETIME. There are no quick (lasting) fixes!!!

This weekend -- find one small change you can make and live with. Can you use 2/3 of a cup of milk on your cereal instead of 1 cup? (calorie savings without much sacrifice)

Can you plate your dinner on smaller plates so you eat 4 bites less(calorie savings without much sacrife)?

Can you buy the single square chocolate pieces to keep at your desk so you only unwrap one or two during the course of your workday -- when normally you would eat a whole Snickers out of the vending machine(calorie savings without much sacrifice)?

Find one small change that may involve some creative thought but not very much sacrifice and work on implimenting that calorie savings measure today.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bonus post for Thursday -- Enjoy!

"Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the
universe, a moment that will never be again. And what
do we teach our children? We teach them that two and
two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France.
When will we also teach them what they are?

We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are?
You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that
have passed, there has never been another child like you.
Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you

You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.
You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel.
And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is,
like you, a marvel?... by Pablo Casals (1876-1973)

Who will teach you that you are a marvel? Perhaps it is time to teach yourself.

Thanks to Patti at 37 Days

Falling off the Wagon

One of the things about creating the habit of mindful eating is sometimes we "fall off the wagon". Weight you have lost creeps back on and all of the sudden you realize you weigh 3 or 4 pounds more than you did when you were so pleased with yourself. Time to jump back on the wagon!

Time to pick up your food journal and commit to 2 or 3 weeks of writing down everything that goes into your mouth.

Remember -- mindful eating is a practice. You never achieve mindful eating perfection -- but that is is not the goal anyway!. The real goal is, when you leave your practice and notice the scale starting to move upward, make the conscious decision to reawaken your sensations of hunger and fullness -- you know what they feel like and you know what they mean -- and start using them again.

Weight management is not about achieving perfection. It is about noticing the small changes and knowing that you are in charge of changing your behavior to stay in your healthy range so that you can take those 3 or 4 pounds off and not stress about it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Paradigm shift

From Virus of the Mind:

Every so often, the work of science experiences something called a paradigm shift. That happens when one of the basic, underlying assumptions we've been living with changes, such as when we shifted from looking at the universe as revolving around the earth to the earth revolving around the sun. Another shift occurred when Einstein discovered the relationships between space and time and between energy and matter. Each of these paradigm shifts took some time to penetrate the scientific community and even longer to become accepted by the general public.

Because understanding this new science involves a significant change in the way people think about the mind and culture, it has been difficult for them to grasp...

The trick to learning a new paradigm is to set aside your current one while you're learning rather than attempt to fit the new knowledge into your existing model. It won't fit!

So the first question for a person struggling with the practice of eating mindfully is:

Are you willing to set aside your current paradigm (with all of its self-knowledge and prejudices) to explore a new one (mindful eating)?

Can we do it?

I belong to a discussion forum for weight loss professionals. It just started up and seems to go in fits and starts (like so many things just starting up).

I commented on a post several weeks ago -- my post was essentially addressing the fact that, as a culture, we eat too much. And we are confused the difference between eating too much (of anything or everything)and that really nutritious foods shouldn't count when we are talking about eating too much. The fact is, there are people out there getting fat on nutritious foods.

I went on to opine: We (professionals) should be helping our clients deal with the real issues of weight gain (our love of being stuffed, using food for comfort, eating because we are bored out of our skulls at work, etc) -- without changes to our relationships with food, we will not be able to keep the weight off long term.

Obviously, I am passionate about this position.

Two days ago, a comment in response to my post showed up in my inbox. The commentor was advocating portion controlled meal supplements (Lean Cuisine style meals or Ensure-like meal replacement shakes) as part of long term weight control measures.

(as an aside: when I followed her link to her company page, she sells these products. I can't get in too much of a crank about that though -- even though I would like to -- because I provide Eating Coach services as part of how I make my living too)

So the question I am asking is:

Is it too much to expect from the general population to believe that we CAN control our weight by just learning to eat less?

Yes...I know it will take a cultural shift in how we approach food -- both macro (the US as a whole) and micro (the people you eat with most often).

But is it unrealistic to believe we can start listening to our bodies and eating in a sensible way without HAVING to resort to prepackaged portions -- can we learn to portion, sensibly, for ourselves?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stinkin' thinkin'

This morning, I was talking to one of my favorite, positive-attitude coworker (B). B had just given me a book (Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie). I was talking to B about the premise of the book and am very excited to read it. Part of the premise, as I understand it, is to recognize there are thoughts we carry around in our head accepting them as truth that may or may not, upon closer examination, be true. And these thoughts can limit us in what we can accomplish.

B categorized these thoughts as "Stinkin' Thinkin'". Apt, no?

So -- What thoughts about your eating habits, who you are, what your genetics are doing to you, what you are capable of, etc can be classified as "stinkin' thinkin'"? --things that are not true and just make you feel darned bad or doom you to failure before you even start out.

Keep an ear open for the thoughts you tell yourself -- if you can shift your perspective away from stinkin' to something that sets you up for success -- your life will be better for it and you won't even need to pay a co-pay for it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reducing Friction

More thoughts on Leo's post from yesterday's ZenHabits.

Reducing friction --

Yesterday we talked about Done. But how do we get to Done. Leo suggests reducing friction. Now...I have had some hours to think about this and this is what I have come up with.

Friction occurs when your desire to listen your hunger/fullness (H/F) signals is in conflict with the desire to eat a Big Bag of M&M's or potato chips or _________(insert food of choice).

How do we reduce (notice we didn't say eliminate) friction in this example?

Make the trigger foods inconvenient. If you can mindlessly down a whole bag of chips while watching Dancing with the Stars, get them out of your house. This doesn't mean you can't ever have them -- just make them harder to get. If you really want them, you have to be committed to driving to the store to get them -- fine -- you put the thought into it -- you really want them -- eat the whole bag -- but make a conscious decision and then put the work in to get them.

I have told this story before but for those of you that haven't heard it...
I realized some years ago that I am not disciplined enough, mature enough ... something, to have Girl Scout cookies in my house. I will eat them -- all of them -- lickety split. Stick them in the freezer, you say? Nope...just makes them better. Every time I move from one room to another, it is via the kitchen until the cookies are gone. Can't help it -- it is just the way I am. But...I can't eat 12 or 15 boxes of cookies like that and expect not to gain some weight. My solution? Buying the cookies (like normal)but then boxing them up and taking them to a friend's house. She stores them for me and doles them out in a reasonable fashion. Weird? Yes. But does it work? Yup. Makes me work harder for something I love to eat -- plus, it is embarrassing to go over there 4 times a day to ask for a new box.

Maybe you need to have your food of choice on hand, for some reason. Take, for instance, the holiday baking you do at Christmas time. You enjoy doing the baking. You have to have the baked goods on hand so you can bring them to parties and give them as gifts. But then what to do with them after they are done, before you can give them away, and while they are calling your name every minute you are home?

How about storing your tempting foods in the basement or garage? The key is to put them out of your normal path of vision. Trigger eating happens when we become aware the foods are there ... just waiting to be eaten. Either don't buy those foods or keep them out of sight. They will call to you less if you can't see them.

That is the whole point of the dieting tip of not going in the kitchen after dinner -- if you can't go into the kitchen, you can't see (or get to) the foods that trigger you.

So this weekend: take a look in your cupboards and pantry. See if your trigger foods are right at eye level -- sitting there calling your name. Move them to a higher shelf, move them to a cupboard or closet that you normally get into. Or (and I am a big fan of this one) clear them out of your house all together -- you can have them...just make yourself work for them.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.” - Dale Carnegie

Today in ZenHabits, Leo is talking about the power of Done. I am a huge advocate of Done -- push through, create, achieve an end point, Done, Hurray!!! Look what I've done!!!

ZenHabits was my inspiration for culling down the philosophy of Eating Coach to:

Omit needless calories. (Simple concept, don't you think?) Done.

But Done in the realm of weight management is a tricky thing. When can you be Done with Mindful Eating?

Is it when you reach your goal weight?

Is it when you have achieved your goal weight and maintained it for one year, two years, five years?

What about when you are just beginning to learn to eat mindfully -- doesn't Done (when you have just mindlessly finished a whole bag of Frito's) seem like it is very far off?

Let's take the Done of mindful eating down a notch. Mindful Eating (by definition) is a practice -- which means you will always be practicing. The Done comes at the end of a meal when you make a conscious decision to stop (even though the food is super-delicious) before the plate is clean and when you have just noticed the very first sensations of something filling your stomach. That definitely gets a Done.

Done is at the end of the day when you realize you didn't have your 3pm snack because you weren't hungry. Done is when you accept that you are really hungry (even though you don't know why) and you eat to satisfy that physical sensation.

But with this definition of Done, it means you keep picking up the ball and striving for "Mindful Dones" at every opportunity.

It is the completion of lots of little Dones that will get you where you want to go and keep you there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It will take too long....

The last couple days, as I have been going about my regular business, in the back of my brain, thoughts from the Excuses Begone are still percolating around. What came to the fore today is the thought that Mindful Eating, as a weight loss tool, will take too long.

The other day, I wrote a post about Magic Beans -- those quick fixes -- emphasis on the quick -- we all want to be the weight we want to be and we want to get there yesterday!

Last week, I had a conversation with a client, who had decided he couldn't put the energy into learning to eat mindfully while he was overweight. He decided he wanted to lose the weight in the fashion he was successful in the past. Once the weight was off, he would learn the mindful skills to keep it off.

But what about those of us who don't start to get the weight off because it is going to take too long??

I liked Wayne Dyer's answer to that statement:

An entertaining psychiatrist named Dr. Murray Banks does just that with the following little exchange between himself and a woman who has decided not to return to school because she’d be too old when she finished.

“How old would you be in five years if you got that degree by starting now?” he asks her.
“Forty-nine,” she replies.
“And how old will you be in five years if you don’t go back to school?”
“Forty-nine,” she answers, with the bewildered confusion of becoming conscious of making an excuse for not elevating her life.

However long it took you to create any self-defeating habit, you did it all one day, one moment at a time. There’s absolutely no proof that anything will take a long time, since even the idea of “a long time” is an illusion—there is only now.

Make this awareness a part of your consciousness. The Tao Te Ching reinforces this in perhaps the most famous line in that masterful work:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Elevate or move on in your life, not by thinking big and in long time periods, but with consciousness focused on the present moment.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Excuses Begone

Okay -- I tried and tried to get away from this subject this morning -- but everything in the Universe is pointing me in this direction. we go...

Yesterday, I watched the Wayne Dyer special on PBS entitled "Excuses Begone". It was really interesting. He said a lot of things but essentially it came down to the only thing that is holding me back from doing anything, are the excuses I make for myself not doing those things.

One of the action oriented activities he gave the viewers was:

A. to realize that if the tape in your head says you can't lose weight, to ask yourself if you are absolutely 100% sure this is true. Is it? NO! I bet your are not 100% convinced this isn't possible or why would you be reading this blog??

Okay -- so it is not 100% impossible to lose weight -- are you 100% certain you will lose weight? Probably not that, either.

So...if you are equally not sure about either outcome, why do you spend sooooo much time and energy dwelling on the negative outcome when the positive outcome is equally as viable AND it will make you feel better???

(Changing your perspective)

B. Visualize yourself at your perfect weight. Create a picture in your head of how you would look if you were at your perfect weight. When you get that picture in your head, pay attention to how you feel. Are you excited? Relived? Feel free? Whatever it is -- feel how it would feel to live at that weight. Then, every night, right before you go to sleep, repeat this exercise with special emphasis on feeling what you feel living at that weight.

It will help you to seek out those same good feeling during the day while you are making your eating decisions. You will eat less and feel good about the choices you make. Not as punishment but as nurturing choices for yourself. You will move yourself in the direction of your vision.

Almost everything I have read in the last two days has talked about creating a vision for yourself. I will leave you with the last quote that was sent to me today.

"Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." --Goethe

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

"Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parades. "

Ahhhh...the end of summer -- the start of school for those kids here in Michigan.

Starting a new phase, starting a new school year. Perfect time to take a few minutes and figure out your SMART goal.

Last Friday, I linked you to a page that examined what a SMART goal was. Did you read it? Did you think about it? And finally, did you set down and write it out -- on paper -- and put it somewhere you can be reminded of what you are trying to do and why you are trying to do it --- EVERYDAY???

If the goal is to keep an food journal 5 out of every 7 days, have you put the journal somewhere you see it? Is it on your desk at work to remind you to write in it directly after lunch?

If your goal is to eat to a level 8 five out of 7 nights at dinner -- do you have something sitting on your table or kitchen counter to remind you this is what you are working to accomplish?

Today is the day to set the stage for your success. But you have to know what success is going to look like first. Take the time TODAY to sit down and get to the heart of why you want to lose weight and create a goal to get you where you want to go.

Friday, September 4, 2009


So this is what I have learned about change:

Most of the time it is a challenge.

Sometimes (even if it is good change) it is scary.

And it never happens as fast as I want it to.

Anything you pick to change in your life is going to require extra energy from you. And there is always that small (and sometimes naggingly loud voice) that says the change will not be successful.

Does that mean I shouldn't attempt a change that is meaningful to me?

No way!

But we do need to recognize that the fear of failure when embarking on a weight loss program is so common, I cannot think of a single one of my clients that hasn't expressed fear at the thought of not being able to lose weight. I have lots of clients get frustrated from time to time that the process they are embarking on is taking longer than they want it to and requiring more brain space than they're used to expending.

This is why having a SMART goal is so very helpful. It gives you a measuring stick to see your progress. Even though you might not have hit your target weight yet, if you are trending that direction, that indicates progress. If you are hitting your weekly goals (drink 8 glasses of water per day / cut morning soda intake in half / etc) these will help you mark your progress and quiet the negative voices in your head.

Don't know what a SMART goal is?? We can talk about that one on Monday :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Tyranny of the OR

I was recently reading the book Built to Last --successful habits of visionary companies by James Collins and Jerry Porras when I came across a section entitled "The Tyranny of the Or".

Their thoughts (being a book about successful businesses) is that successful businesses have shifted their perspective from:

They can have change OR stability.
They can be conservative OR bold.
They can have low cost OR high quality.
They can have creative autonomy OR consistency and control.

To: figuring out how to have "and" instead of "or"s

They can have change AND stability.
They can be conservative AND bold.
They can have low cost AND high quality/
They can have creative autonomy AND consistency and control.

Black and white thinking is easiest -- and since companies (successful or not) are just groups of people (successful or not), we can apply the same thinking to people, as well.

Have you figured out how you can liberate yourself from the tyranny of the OR?

Have you been able to:

Eat the food you love AND lose weight.
Eat when you are hungry AND be guilt-free.
Weigh whatever you weigh right now AND know you are making progress toward your weight goal.

When a person sees only one path or another, life can feel very difficult. Either you are doing what is "right" or what is "wrong". Diets are like this -- you are either "on" your diet or you are "off" your diet. If you fall off the wagon at lunch, chances are you will scrub the diet for the day and start again tomorrow ... or the next day...or next week...

When you reframe your thinking to add "AND"s into your thought process, you can open up how you choose to look at the world. Pancakes and syrup for breakfast doesn't mean you are "off" your diet. It means you decided to have pancakes and syrup for breakfast AND you will make a decision about lunch in a few hours.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Magic bean

Talk to almost anyone about almost anything and what you will find is that to one extent or another, we all want Magic Beans.

Cholesterol high -- take this pill.

Out of shape -- buy this piece of equipment.

Looking older -- use this facial cream.

Weight problems -- Atkins, Zone, Mediterranean, Ornish, just eat the right combination of foods for your blood type, bariatric surgry, etc, etc, etc.

Life doesn't come with Magic Beans.

Everything comes with costs. There is no get out of jail free card.

If you want the results, you need to do the work. The question is: What side effects are you willing to endure? How much and what kind of work are you willing to do to acheive your goal? What changes are you willing to make in your habits?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Appreciate the Process

Last week I read the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. (can't say enough good things about this book -- nice, interesting, thought-provoking read)

At one point in the story, the main character meets the Alchemist and asked why he was successful in learning alchemy when so many other were not. The answer given is that the unsuccessful ones only wanted the rewards (gold and eternal life)that come at the end of the process -- they did not understand the true value came in living the pursuit.

This is a distinction worth thinking about.

Do you just want to lose weight? Or do you want to learn more about yourself --

How you handle stress.

How, perhaps, you have gained weight to hide from something else in your life.

How, maybe, you haven't been successful in losing and keeping weight off in the past because one of your "truths" is that you are a person who will always be overweight.

Wouldn't you like managing your weight to be as easy as breathing? It can be if you get to the root cause of the weight gain (trust me, the problem is not found in what you are eating. It is found in why you are eating like you do). Learn to appreciate the process of managing your weight and the weight loss will take care of itself.