Monday, November 30, 2009

So maybe we've gone off track...

I was sitting here thinking about getting the Christmas shopping done this week. My goal is to have it all done by 12 December so I can enjoy the last days before Christmas without the gift-buying/just-one-more-quick-stop/one-more-quick-thing stress.

I read a post from a group member on linkedin looking for our favorite "cheat foods" (those foods you can eat when you're on a diet that don't lead to weight gain --seriously...don't get me started!).

Here's what's buggin me:

We have such an idea that more is better -- more food (it's our right to be able to eat whatever we want), more stuff (the "American dream" on steroids), more, more, more.

We are tired. We are overweight. We are feeling frustrated because there is always so much more to do.

Maybe we need to recalibrate. We just had Thanksgiving -- if you had to pick 31 things you were grateful for, could you do it? And what, once you finished your list, would be left off the list that you automatically think you just couldn't live without?

Is one of the items on your list that you got stuffed on Thanksgiving? If it is not one of your top 31 things -- did you really need to be that full to enjoy the holiday?

A couple years ago, during a move, I made a vow that I wouldn't move anything into the new house that I didn't love or wasn't useful. There were a lot of items that didn't make that cut. It has taken me a while to furnish the house so that it really looks like a house and is still a work in progress. But I can honestly say, everything sitting around has meaning for me and has the ability to make me smile.

How would life be if we started approaching things more like that? And I am not just talking about our stuff here (obviously, since this is a blog about eating).

What if you only put things on your plate that had the ability to make you smile? What if you stopped eating while you still had the ability to feel great about the amount you had eaten? What if we stopped thinking it was necessary to have more (stuff/food/square footage in our houses/ whatever) and started seeking out the things that make us smile and keep raising the bar to find the best of the best -- not settling for something that doesn't meet our standards? What would your fridge look like? Seriously, would the non-fat ice cream be in there??

Do we need "more stuff" or do we just need the "stuff that makes our hearts sing"?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Do something Friday did yesterday go? Today, take a few minutes to sit down and think about the decisions you make yesterday that you felt really good about. Also, think about any decisions you made yesterday that didn't seem mindful -- and then take the next step to make a plan for how you are going to do things differently next time (because next time is coming up soon!!)

Remember: Successes are going to be more than what you left off you plate -- the something-wonderful that you ate and really enjoy is a success too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I just read an interesting post from Dream Garden Coaching entitled "Why is Ma Ingalls Happier than You?". It is a fairly long essay but worth the read if you have the time. The short version and my take on it is this:

The author posits the reason Ma Ingalls was happier than many people today was that she was productive (what we must do to generate energy for our survival and comfort). Essentially, she spent a great deal of her time creating (creating food, clothing, homes, etc). Today, we spend a great deal of our time maintaining (what we do to preserve the body and its possessions).

**the definitions in parentheses are from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book Flow**

It is human nature to create -- a drive we are born with. It fuels us and drives us -- it doesn't really matter what the medium of the creativity is, as long as it is meaningful to the person who is engaged in it.

However, who among you gets really stoked about maintaining? Sure, I like to mow my lawn (a lot, really) but for me it is more than just maintaining it -- it is all about creating a beautiful yard. I like blogging -- the posts I feel really good about are the ones that are creations -- not posting just because it is a task I need to complete by 7am. I like to run but don't enjoy it as much when I know I "should" do it to keep healthy. I really enjoy it when I am in the mindset that the running time will be used to create an elevated mood or used as a time of peace and quiet.

How are you approaching your eating? Are you creating? A healthier relationship with food/a healthier body/a greater awareness of your habits?


Are you using mindful eating as maintenance: something you have to do in order to keep you from falling apart?

It is hard to keep slugging it out if you are just trying to maintain. The job never ends -- there is always more eating behaviors to be mindful of -- you can never stop and if you aren't mindful then you are one step behind.


If you are creating, you are moving forward. You are never a step behind because that step just hasn't been taken yet. You are working toward something (becoming more mindful) and you are tapping into a basic human drive and harnessing it to get you to where you want to go.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Celebrating the absence of Hunger

When was the last time you celebrated not being hungry? I am definitely not talking about celebrating being full -- I am talking about the gift you have to be able to feel hunger and then get something to eat -- from your fridge/vending machine/drive-thru/grocery store/desk drawer/ co worker's desk drawer/etc. And then to actually NOTICE when that you are not hungry anymore?

I am not sure I know anyone right now who is hungry by necessity. There is a group of people who work very had to deliver backpacks full of food for the weekend to kids who, without the backpack, would be hungry over the weekend. The group delivers hundreds of backpacks to my district's schools each week (and that was last year -- what about this year?)-- so the hungry walk among us. But I am not one of those people. When I am hungry, I will eat or not but it will be my choice, not because I have no other options.

I have said (and I really mean) I enjoy food. I enjoy the social that comes from eating with others. When have you eaten 200 calories (think cup of yogurt or an apple and a piece of toast) and celebrated (or even noticed for that matter) that you are no longer hungry. You started hungry but now feeling is gone and you are moving on.

Something to think about this week -- being grateful you are lucky to have enough and that you do not need to go to bed without.

I hear people talking about being overweight all of the time but I do not hear them acknowledging that it is because they are so blessed that they have the privilege overweight.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The other side of the Coin Friday, I spent our time together ranting on my soapbox (did you get the reference from Friday's picture?). This weekend, like working people all over the country, I was cleaning like a fiend to get ready to have my fam over for Thanksgiving.

I have talked before about my theory of how much time it takes to keep a house clean. So, truth be told, I didn't figure I had much to do this weekend -- just the general stuff (bathrooms cleaned, soap down the kitchen counters -- versus just wiping them with the dish rag -- you know the drill). Weeellll....6 hours of cleaning later, I realized there is a reason the women of previous generations felt it imperative to do spring cleaning (right before the Easter guests arrive) and fall cleaning (our case in point today).

Friday, I asked you to enjoy the your process of moving and your eating. I can tell you, I would much rather have laid on the couch all weekend watching 30 Rock (On Demand) than doing the cleaning that I had to do. But now, as I sit here, know that later in the week, I might be crazy but it won't be because my house is dirty -- I am glad I put the work in. So even though I wasn't enthralled with the process, my life is better because of it.

So here is the other side of the "Enjoy the process" coin -- sometimes you just have to gut it out so that you can not have to worry about something later. That goes for movement. That goes for learning to be more mindful with your eating. And, obviously, it goes for Thanksgiving cleaning of the house.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Something I Hate!!

Last week I was fortunate enough to be involved in a conversation with Michelle May, among others, on HOW WRONG IT IS TO TURN EXERCISE INTO PUNISHMENT FOR EATING!!!!

This is, obviously, a subject close to my heart. As many of you know, I am an exercise physiologist. Everyday, I work with people to increase the ease with which they move. Sometimes, their barriers to activity are physical -- sometimes, they are psychological.

Michelle was voicing my side of the argument. When people use exercise to punish themselves because 1. they feel they weigh too much and exercise is how they are going beat themselves into the correct shape or 2. they ate something they "shouldn't have" and now they need to "work it off" or 3. they want to eat something they "shouldn't eat" but need to exercise to "earn the right" -- this makes exercise PUNISHMENT!

Seriously, people -- what are we doing to ourselves when we do this?????

We diminish the pleasure of the food we have eaten/will eat. Guilt? Hello!!

We make ourselves feel bad about the way we look.


We take something that could be equally as pleasurable as eating (movement) and turn it into a negative consequence for enjoying life.

NOW ...

I work with people EVERYDAY who are struggling to maintain their abilities to move through this world. When I say that -- I just want you to be clear -- I mean, some of my members here are working hard every day to stay mobile enough to assist in their transfers from their wheelchairs to bed/car/tub/etc.

And then there are people who take the amazing gift of movement (the ability to get up from your desk chair and walk to the water cooler/copier/etc.) and turn that gift into a punishment.

We are talking about two separte things here -- eating and movement. I am asking you to enjoy them both. Find the pleasure in them both.

Eat the bites you can while ENJOYING/EMBRACING/BEING DELIGHTED with each bite.

Move as much as you can while ENJOYING/EMBRACING/BEING DELIGHTED with each step.

Please, please, please (aaaahhhhh...the asking has now degenerated into something one step up from begging) don't punish yourself!! The world will do enough of that for you -- care for yourself both in eating and in movement. Add a little more love to the world by being loving to yourself.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What is the least amount of weight loss you could be happy with?

If you didn't have to change any of your behaviors, what is the least amount of weight you could lose per week and still be happy with your progress?

If you were losing the least amount of weight above, what would be the most you would be willing change to achieve that weight loss over the long term?

I have told you in the past, that eating 9 bites a day less that you currently do, would give you .5 to 1 pound of weight loss per week.

Would you be willing to eat 3 bites less and lose 1/3 of a pound per week? 1.3 pounds of weight loss per month ... over a year... year after year until you get there?

Give it some thought.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Do you feel like you are fighting your body or working with it?

(and really...who is going to win that contest?)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Maybe life does come with an instruction book?
(Thanks to Patti)

Take action today!

Today, make a plan to EXPERIENCE the first four bites of everything you eat.

Put a rubberband (or 12 if you need to) around your wrist to remind you this is what you are trying to do.

Don't eat the first four bites while you are reading emails.

Let the conversation drift around you at the dinner table (for the first four bites).

Experience what you are eating -- see if it changes how you feel about what you picked to eat today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gimme a break...indeed

Yesterday, I will in the car and heard a radio commercial. I tried to find a link to it but was unsuccessful -- maybe you will come across it in your listening, too.

The gist of the commercial is the announcer telling us that coffee breaks used to mean taking a break from work to enjoy a cup of coffee. Now, he informs us, coffee breaks only last the amount of time it takes to get the cup of coffee back to our desk to continue our work. The coffee, that used to be a pleasure to drink, is now just caffeine to fuel our productivity.

Because the coffee won't bring us the pleasure it used to, we should have a Kit Kat bar on our coffee break. This will make it the real break from work we are looking for....

...Really??? Are you listening to what marketers are selling you? You are feeling over-stressed, over-worked, unappreciated (honestly, who doesn't from time to time) but do you really need to buy into the idea that food/chocolate/candy/something from a vending machine is going to make you feel soooo much better?

Some evening take a look at how food is being marketed on TV. Many of the pitches are directing us to use food as an escape from whatever else is going on. How do you think that works for those of us who run on autopilot and do not understand we are packing on pounds because we are being taught it is okay to not deal with the real issues and just use food to make us feel better???

If you need a break from the work piling up on your desk -- there are 100 different ways to make that happen that don't involve food. Figure out when you are running to food because you need a break from the work at hand.

In fact -- need a break right now? Here is a kind of fun link to a mini Kit Kat film -- take your break this way -- without the mediocre candy bar.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do something Friday

Today: come up with one part of the process that you can enjoy.

Example: Can you enjoy taking a walk in the sunshine? Make it happen this weekend -- not for the end-all-be-all goal of losing weight -- just because you can enjoy the process.

Do you like coffee and a sweet roll as your Saturday morning ritual? Put down the magazine, drink the coffee and really, really taste each bite of the roll. Not because you are trying to limit your bites to reduce your calories -- just because you know you are going to enjoy the roll even more.

Can you turn down seconds on an average-tasting meal -- not because I tell you that is the pathway to a more healthy-weight-you -- just because you realize you can say "no" to seconds and leave the table feeling great about your choice.

Today come up with your idea. This weekend -- take the time to impliment it.

Enjoy the process. Enjoy your weekend :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My theory

I have a theory about keeping a house clean -- It is going to take 4 hours (let's say) per week to keep the house looking good. Now...I can spread that cleaning out over the week (think hanging up my clothes each time I change instead of throwing them on the floor to be dealt with all at once) -- so that I do the onesy, twosey things (the equivalent of 3 hours of work) through out the week in 1 -5 minute intervals and leaves me with with a balance of 1ish hours at the end of the week where I clean the tubs, vacuum, etc. OR...

I can do nothing all week (leave the clothes on the bottom of the closet, not lightly sweep the kitchen after the kids cook dinner, etc.) and spend 4 hours on Saturday morning cleaning like a banshee.

With the later scenario, I don't have to do as much throughout the week, but I also don't get the pleasure of walking into a house that, for the most part, looks pretty good every evening when I get home.

The same is true for eating patterns.

You are going to have to put the work in in one direction or another. You can consciously think about your eating habits most of the time. Eliminate unmeaningful bites here and there throughout the course of each day OR...

You can not give it any thought (but of course you really will -- it will just be those "beat yourself up" kind of thoughts that aren't productive) -- throughout the course of time but eventually you will reach a point where you are unable to deal with your weight and then it will require a concerted "dieting" effort to get you back to the place you want to be.

There is no "Get out of Jail Free" card. There are no easy answers to controlling our weight in our culture right now. The best you can hope for is to find a way to manage what you eat that lets you enjoy life, be happy with the decisions you are making, and gives you the best shot at "living long" and "dying short".

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Never underestimate the power of Connected

I was looking around the fitness center today -- and what did I see???

Why are weight loss programs like Biggest Loser, Weight Watchers, and Atkin's successful?

A big reason people come to my fitness center is to be connected. Connected with others who are battling illness, recovering from an event, or struggling with a diagnosis. Biggest Loser, Weight Watchers, and the Atkin's revolution connected people -- gave them something to talk about. Gave them common ground to share their experiences. Let them belong to a tribe of others like themselves. Humans need that. --It is not a want -- it is a very basic essence of being human.

I just read an article that said 25% of Americans currently live alone (compared with 7% in 1940).

Research out of Duke University says that between 1985 and 2004 the number of people with whom the average American discussed "important matters" dropped from three to two. The number of people who said that there was no one with whom they discussed important matters tripled" In 2004 individuals without a single confidant made up a quarter of those surveyed.

Interesting statistic but how does this figure into our discussion??

If (and there is a large amount scientific data to support this)we humans need to be connected to each other -- and we have all watched the success of those lucky few on Biggest Loser or experienced the power (abet in the short term) of Weight Watchers -- why not harness this need to help us achieve our long-term weight loss success.

Get connected. Start talking to your friends -- the ones that will really support you in deed, not just in words. Talk to your family -- get their buy in for slowing down mealtime. Find the friends that are willing to explore their eating behaviors with you. Create your network of support. Talk, blog, compare notes. Don't just drone on about food -- explore your attitudes and listen to others talk about theirs.

You will all gain support and end up losing inches.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This is not a news flash...

I just got done reading a research article about the efficacy of the Wii Fit gaming system as a mode of cardiovascular exercise. Then I moved on to an article entitled Could Vitamins Hurt Your Workout?

Good Lord, people! Why, I ask you, are we still searching for the fountain of youth? Let's think about this...

When my butter, bacon (even bacon grease), eggs, whole milk eating great-grandma cooked -- she didn't worry about low-fat anything (did I mention molasses cookies made with lard? YUM!!) She didn't worry about low/no sugar varieties of foods. She didn't think about "getting exercise". She ate. She moved. She actively lived her life.

I can't attest to whether or not she ever bought some kind of anti-wrinkle cream that promised amazing results or whether she ever "watched what she ate". But I can tell you that she was a wonderful cook and meals at her house were (to my memory) delicious and always came with dessert (real whipping cream -- mmm mmm mmm!)

I assume, like much of her generation, she didn't snack all of the time, she moved when she worked, and she didn't drink soda on a day to day basis.

I think she did a better job of appreciating the food she ate and eating things because they nourished her body and soul. She didn't need to rely on research articles to tell her she should move more. She didn't need them to tell her to eat lots of whole foods. These things would have been common wisdom of the times -- just like as we age we are going to get wrinkles and lose muscle mass and eventually be no longer young. Perhaps we should head back to that common sense approach. Enjoy the simple pleasures that life brings,not over analyze them and not spend so much time trying to stay young that we forget to appreciate what we are doing right this minute.

Monday, November 9, 2009

You're the boss of your own body

How much do you believe this? How do your eating patterns change when people are observing you? I expect most of you change your behavior, at least some of the time, when you think you have an audience (I know I do).

But here is the thing -- shame is never a long-term motivator. If you can't deal with what you are doing, if you are sneaking around and hiding the kinds of eating you are doing, is that really being helpful to yourself? Are you really taking care of your own body?

It is not another person's job to get you to the healthy weight you are working towards. That means their comments on what you are eating, should be eating or should not be eating are not necessarily helpful -- And can, at times, be harmful or hurtful.

How would your life change if you NEVER had to sneak around to eat what appealed to you? If you felt confident enough to eat the large piece of cake in front of your friend, not by the light of the fridge after everyone else was asleep?

Reaching a weight that feels healthy to you means coming to grips with the fact there are foods in this world that some people think you shouldn't eat. But if they add value to your life, eat them. Disregard the naysayers that obviously don't love cake the way you do. You are the boss of your own body -- you are the one that needs to care for it. Sometimes, that means a walk in the evening. Sometimes, that means a salmon salad. And sometimes, that means a big piece of cake for dinner.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Do something Friday

I have been reading the book "The Positive Power of Negative Thinking" and I have to say, it has completely changed my perspective. Whether you are a glass half empty kind of person or you see that glass half full (or you think your an optimist only to read the book and find out you are a defensive pessimist -- like me) it is worth the read.

The gist of the book is looking at the strategies people use to manage anxiety. That goes well with what I just found ---

I just found a scale that doesn't tell you your weight. After programming it for the first time, all it does is tell you whether you have gained or lost since setting it. I love that there are not numbers to get fixated on. It seems like it would be a breath of fresh air not to have to stress about the actual weight number.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


What has willpower gotten you in the past? Have you lost weight using willpower? If you are like most of us, you have.

But have you kept it off? Can you keep your willpower strong forever?? Probably not.

The problem with using willpower exclusively is that you get tired of it. You just get worn down with telling yourself no all of the time. It's hard. And not fun. And you are either successful (totally strong) or not (opps, I ate that piece of cake! What was I thinking? Well...the day is shot now! I will start again tomorrow) --how helpful is this attitude??

Remember yesterday, we talked about willingness? How would it work if you substituted willingness for the willpower you have used in the past?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Being Willing

Have you ever really thought about "Being Willing" to lose weight?

It is different than wanting to -- sure, most of those I talk to want to lose weight -- to hit that number on the scale. Yes, please. Tomorrow, if that would be convenient! Wanting to lose weight is all about the destination.

Being willing to lose weight is different. It is about the process. If you have been reading this blog or know me at all, you know I am all about the process (messy as it is most of the time)

Being willing means you are opening to looking at your behaviors and seeing what works for you and what does no long does. Most of what you do, you do for a reason. But is that reason allowing you to move in the direction of your dreams?

Being willing means trying new things. Even if you don't think it will work -- consider trying it -- what is the worst that will happen? You will not lose weight? You will gain a bit more during the experiment? Are you gaining weight right now because you are tenaciously sticking to your current patterns?

Being willing means taking a good, hard, compassionate look at what you eat that you could willingly give up and not feel deprived.

Being willing means stepping outside your comfort zone and tolerating your discomfort to get your weight heading in the direction you want it to go.

Are you willing? Or do you just want to.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dissecting and cataloging our food

"To know objects only through dissecting and cataloging them is to miss their full reality. It is to fall asleep amidst the mystery and to become numb to the wonder of this great Earth." - John Daido Loori

The above is why Americans don't enjoy their food like the Europeans do. (it has been scientifically tested -- we enjoy food less)


Because Europeans have been trained and are culturally supported in the idea that they should enjoy what they are putting in their mouths. We are culturally trained and supported in the notion that we need to eat food that is "good for us" (ie green or at the very least comes in a green package) or no-fat or belonging to some other subcategory of "healthy" which may or may not actually be "healthy" for you.

We Americans miss the big picture that if we want a hamburger, we probably don't need 1.5 pounds of beef -- but the beef we do get should taste great (and not like frozen, preformed sawdust).

We need to stop spending so much mental energy on whether or not some scientist thinks this is a good food and start paying attention to whether the food is hitting this spot! If you pay attention to what you eat -- you will eat less but enjoy it more.

(Thanks to Patti for the quote)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mindfulness in both directions

It might be because most of my clients are trying to lose weight or perhaps just because, as a culture, we are so concerned with thinness but I tend to spend a lot of time trying to get people to eat less -- but there is another side to mindful eating.

The other side is understanding (and being okay with) the times you are truly more hungry than normal. Case in point ---

Last night at dinner, I sat down like normal not feeling overly hungry. Once the first bite of food hit my mouth, I realized that I was starved! I couldn't really figure out why until I realized I had eaten a lot less than normal during the course of the day and had been busy working on a couple projects -- the kind that require a certain amount of brainpower to get done correctly.

Because the projects needed to be completed by the end of the day, I was working steadily on those and not giving much thought to the hunger that was building throughout the day.

So, long story short, for dinner I ate a much greater volume than normal before I started to feel something sitting in my stomach. I even slowed down (in case I was eating too fast) to let the fullness sensations catch up.

The non-judgement mindfulness requires, extends to accepting the times when you are more hungry. To be able to trust your sensations enough to act on them and not freak out is important in both directions --fullness as well as hunger.