Friday, January 29, 2010

The Pursuit of Bodily Perfection

I just read an interview with Susie Orbach with the title of this post.

Here are a couple of her statistics:

Only 2% of women felt able to say that they were beautiful despite beauty being an incredibly important category for women.

Half of 16- to 21- year -old girls would consider having surgery to change the way they look...

More than 1 in 10 girls aged 11 to 16 would consider having a gastric band or cosmetic surgery.

WOW!! Should those stats freak us out just a little bit??? I think so. Ms. Orbach goes on to say "When people start to mess around with their hunger signals, their eating goes seriously amiss. They develop a distorted relationship with appetite, satiety, and what, when and how much to eat. They view themselves as though they are objects that need perfecting."

Does this describe you? Is this part of the reason you want to loose weight?

I think there is a case to made for wanting to be a healthy weight --something that is comfortable for you -- a body you can move around in. But can/do you accept yourself the way you are today? Or, like we have talked about in the past, are you waiting for something magical to happen when you hit your goal weight?

For the weekend: Please give your weight loss motivations some consideration. What are you really trying to accomplish and are you enjoying the process?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

For those of you who loved the idea of "not right now"...

How do you feel about Michelle May's statement: This lawsuit [Weight Watchers suing Jenny Craig]and your own experience should not cause you to ask, "What do I do now?" but "What do I do from now on?"

Changes you can live with. Perhaps even changes that make you feel great -- not because you're losing weight (although that can be part of it) but the changes that make you feel like you are successfully in charge of your destiny.

Sometimes, choosing to have the perfect dessert at the end of a beautiful meal is what is going to make you feel successful. Sometimes, choosing to say "not right now" is the success of the moment. But here's the important part: You are choosing. You are not running on autopilot or letting yourself be run by habits that are no longer working for you.

Mindfulness -- getting into tune with your sensations of hunger and fullness -- learning to ask the question "Am I hungry?"/"Do I want this right now?"/"Is this piece of xyz worth it to me right now?" --We are not looking for rules to follow -- we are looking to find what fits most perfectly in THIS moment. Long term success is a string of "This Moment" successes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Again with the Magic Beans

Mindful Eating:
1. Deliberately paying attention, without judgment, to ones own experiences.
2. Cultivating openness to, and an acceptance of all experiences.
3. Mindfulness happens in the present moment.

I spoke to a group at the Crossroads Village Apartments yesterday. Great group of people. They seemed interested in the thinking behind mindful eating and had lots of questions about how it really helps you lose weight. One thing I always get, though, is the person who wants to know what foods they can eat mindfully to help them lose weight.

We have been ingrained with the belief in Magic Beans -- that all illusive food or combination of foods that will give us perfect health and a thin body to go along with it. Well....guess what?? There are no Magic Beans. Food is food -- neither inherently good (just because lima beans are a healthy vegetable doesn't mean they taste good to me!) or inherently bad (alfredo made with whipping cream and real Parmesan is definitely not "low cal" but boy is it delicious!!).

Deliberately paying attention and not pigeon holing (judging) foods is one of the cornerstones of mindful eating. Believe me -- I would lose weight if I was on a diet of lima beans (mostly because I think they are so gross I wouldn't eat them -- or perhaps I would gain weight on a diet of lima beans because I would have to cover the taste of them with so much butter or cheese that I would take in lots of extra calories) But one thing I know for sure -- my life wouldn't be more enjoyable because of the lima beans.

There are some people out there that just don't get this concept. EAT WHAT TASTES GREAT -- JUST EAT LESS OF IT.

The reason a person gains weight is just that they are eating too many calories for their activity level. Cut down the calories to the level you expend and your weight will be stable. Eat fewer calories than you expend and you will lose weight. No games, no gimmicks, no tricks -- but no Magic Beans.

The question, for me, always comes back to:

Would you rather eat foods you enjoy but eat smaller amounts?

Or do you want to slug it out on the "Diet Du Jour", eating foods that, at best are only okay and at worst taste like the cardboard box your last pair of sneakers came in?

For me: Life's too short -- I want the food that makes my heart sing! And I will be happy to eat less now so I can have some more in the future.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Religion of Thinness

I just read an interesting perspective on being "Addicted to the Illusion of a Better Body".

The author talks about how many different food-based messages (food refrain and indulge) we are subjected to during the day. How much emphasis is put on "if only I were thinner, x would be better, I wouldn't have to worry about y, and I could do z".

The article cites diet spending at $60 BILLION. The diet industry stirs up our shame for our bodies and the idea that the rich and successful are thin and beautiful, as well. (on a side note -- I was watching the Jackson-Barrett car auction on the Speed Network this weekend and let me tell you -- most of those bidding on the $200k cars were not the male version of a runway model -- so much for that urban legend)

Here's the point. The focus on reaching the goal weight is less important to maintaining the goal weight than for you to learn to make sensible changes to your eating patterns. Remember -- fatness isn't the root problem -- it is a symptom of the root problem. The WHY of why you are eating too many calories is more important to changing the behaviors than to substituting carrot sticks for lunch so you can lose weight.

Figure out why you need to feel a sense of level 10 fullness at lunch before you go back to your desk and then you can see if that coping mechanism makes sense and if you are willing to change it for the long term. If you start to examine those behaviors today and make one small change today -- and another one tomorrow -- you will get to a weight that makes more sense to you -- without putting off your life until you reach the weight you "should be".

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chemicaly Altered Diet-Friendly versions of Food

This was a descriptor from Michelle May's new book "Eat What you Love, Love what you Eat.

I was talking to someone the other day who is not fully verse in the whole mindful eating concept. He was telling me about his want to lose a couple pounds -- not many -- just a few. But, his current lifestyle (freewheelin' recent retireree traveling here, there and everywhere) was not supporting his weight loss plans. Bar burgers and fries are not generally considered "diet" foods.

So what are "diet" foods? Who makes up the rules? Honestly, "diet" foods are foods marketed to be just that.

Weightloss shakes are liquid chemicals that will supress your natural appetite -- that isn't as sellable of a concept as "A shake that tastes great and helps you lose weight!" But it doesn't change what it is just because we call it something else.

Protein bars instead of real food -- can it be truly good for you if it has a shelf life longer than a Presidential Term? Food that looks like your grandma might have known what to do with it -- that is the kind of lifestyle I am advocating.

I have said it before -- just because something says it's low fat doesn't mean you can eat as much of it as you want. Does it taste great? I love soda! Just because Coke is laden with high-fructose corn syrup doesn't mean I have to give it up -- I just need to be sensible with how much of it I drink. If you love Luna bars -- you don't need to give them up -- just be aware of how many you are eating in a week. Make sure you balance the things you love that are highly processed with other things you love that are less processed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Do Something Friday

Inertia: inertness, esp. with regard to effort, motion, action, and the like; inactivity; sluggishness.

I was just reading Jena Strong's blog -- Bulls Eye, Baby and one of her sentences jumped out at me in connection.

Doing: the antidote to to inertia.

What struck me about this phrase is that it didn't talk about the quality of the doing. Just doing something breaks the inactivity, sluggishness, or non-motion.

Once your doing, you can fine tune the process.

The other day, I had my first official golf lesson (wonderful experience, by the way!! If you are looking for a pro to help you out -- I definitely recommend Clark). What struck me about the pro's teaching was he kept telling me not to worry about where the ball was going just yet. He wanted to me to get the feel for the swing mechanics he was trying to show me. "Feel the swing -- follow through -- don't worry about the ball just yet".

Putting the ball in front of me creates a mental block. Practice swings can look pretty good but put a ball down and ask me to hit it and that is all I can think about -- the swing work goes right out the window because I am focusing on where I want to ball to go instead of working on the swing mechanics and letting correct mechanics control the ball's flight.

This makes me think about mindful eating and trying to lose weight. Without the pressure of losing weight, many people work on adopting mindful eating practices, reconnecting with their sensations of hunger and fullness -- all of it becoming more pleasurable as they learn the skills.

When you throw in the wrinkle of weight loss, it just adds pressures to the mix. Much like my focus on the path I want the ball to take, when a person feels the pressure of losing weight, their newly learned, more efficient mindful skills go right out the window in their attempt to get the weight gone.

So...think about this for the weekend. Work on appreciating all of the pleasure being more mindful can bring to your eating experiences. Let it just be what it is this weekend. Don't worry about whether or not you are losing weight -- just taste, appreciate, and enjoy your foods. When they stop tasting Fantastic!! and are merely tasting good -- then stop eating. Remember -- practice the swing until it feels more natural than anything else.

AND -- if you are looking for a fun opportunity to get out and move -- think about stopping by the golf dome in Schoolcraft and say "hi" to Clark!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why are you doing what you are doing?

Okay -- maybe today is your first opportunity to read this blog. Or perhaps you have been with me since the beginning. I just looked and I have 8 blog posts filed under the keyword "goals". Here is the question for the day. I expect you to be able to answer it! If you want to take a minute and write the answer as a comment, I would love that -- both because I would love to hear your "voice" and also because if you are able to type out your answer, you have really given it some thought and are not just letting the answer be a vague feeling of unease. The question is this:

Why are you doing what you are doing? --Why are you trying to lose weight? Why are you trying to adopt a more mindful eating pattern?

If you can write out an answer to those questions, when you start to get cranky because you are not seeing progress fast enough -- you can remind yourself of the reasons you started out on this mindful journey.

For example: Why am I (Kristi) trying to adopt a more mindful eating pattern?

Okay -- for those of you who know me, you know I am not trying to lose weight -- I am happy where I am at BUT...I do not want to gain weight -- that sneaky few pounds per year that make things creep up over time. Why?

Because it is always easier to lose fewer pounds than more pounds.

I need to stay at a healthy weight because I only have half the cartilage in my knee as I should and I can't add any more wear and tear on my knees than I have to.

I want to maintain a healthy weight because, to a certain degree, my job depends on it. It is very hard to preach activity and mindful eating if I am many pounds over weight.

And most immediate and personally important to me: I like to be active. I like trying new physical skills. I have just taken up golf and suck at it. Additional weight is only going to make learning this new game harder. And I want to learn to kite surf. And I still haven't completely ruled out lacrosse (even though I should -- with the knees and all).

And I love, love, love good food!! I don't want to have to cut out fat -- I don't want some kind of butter-alternative -- I want butter. And real, fat sour cream and rissotto, and pasta, and pizza, and I don't want to give up cookies. I don't like to read labels and let them tell me whether I should eat the contents or not! I want to eat all of the things I love. Mindfulness is the only way I can do that. I can only eat small amounts of what I love because they are so calorie dense. I don't want to have to measure my food portions -- it steals joy from my process of eating. For me, mindfulness is a way to be free of the fear of food!

So -- when you decide you don't care about being mindful of how you eat ("I don't WANT to think about this right now!" or "I am too tired" or "It is just too much work to pay attention to this!"), what opportunities are you potentially giving up (or making more difficult) by your actions? When you can spell that out to yourself, then you can decide if the extra 3 bites of store-bought, day-old and stale brownie that tastes like the cardboard it was packaged in is really worth it. If it is -- just make sure to taste, enjoy, and appreciate every waxy bite!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


A couple weeks ago, a coworker asked me to create a series of classes on "Increasing your activity level to aid in weight loss". My program would be a complement to her nutrition series entitled Weight Management 101. Since she is a dietician and I am an exercise physiologist, this seems like a natural fit.

In order to get me started, she gave me the information she was going to use from the National Institutes of Health entitled "The Practical Guide to Identification, Evalutation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obese Adults". (and it was as dynamic of a read as the title indicates)

As I kicked around the idea of this program in my head, I keep coming back to the question:

Why would anyone, who already has a membership to my fitness facility and presumably is using it, choose to spend an hour listening to me talk about being more active when during that same hour, they could actually be active???

The best answer I could come up with was: Leverage

Investing the hour with me this month will allow them to leverage that time and become more active during the rest of their workouts. Hopefully, the knowledge they gain will give them an opportunity to burn more calories over the long haul than they would have if they continued doing exactly what they are currently doing because they didn't invest the hour in coming and listening to me.

The idea of leverage intrigues me -- both for eating and for activity (and, if I am honest with you, for money and for time).

The idea that I can make a small investment that will grow without much addition input of resources (additional time or money) so that I can create a greater desired outcome -- that is fantastic!!

So you know how leveraging your money works -- I make a commitment to have 6% of my paycheck taken out and put into a 401k -- starting when I am 24. Because my wage is small, there isn't much money going into the 401k -- of course, the sacrifice of giving up that 6% isn' that great either.

Over time, that 6% grows and compounds and over my working lifetime it adds up to something I can retire on (really comfortably -- I hope).

The same can be said for activity. In the 1930's, we burned enough calories in everyday tasks (think opening the garage door, starting the car, pulling it out of the garage, getting out of the car to MANAUALLY pull the garage door shut / dragging the carpets out onto the line to beat them with a stick instead of letting the Roomba do all the work / ect) to add up to the calories of 5 cheesecakes a month. -- Think about it, if you were doing all of those activities required for just living life in the 1930's, you could eat 1.25 cheesecakes per week and still stay at the same weight you are right now! Talk about leveraging the situation.

So what about food? How do you leverage your food choices?

The first idea is maximize your enjoyment!!!! If is doesn't taste GREAT -- only eat enough of it to get rid of your physical hunger.

If it does taste great, ENJOY every bite -- really taste it!

And most of all -- don't disregard all of the little "deposits" you make in the calorie savings bank! If you are able to decrease your fullness level by one number (from a 9 to an 8, let's say) at a meal, that is just like making that small 6% deposit into your 401k. The extra calories that are not satisfying physcial hunger are not going to be stored as fat AND you have had one more success in creating a habit of recognizing that a level 8 can be VERY satisfying even if it is not VERY full. That habit will make it more likely you will choose to eat less at another meal in the future, create another success, and increase your positive spiral.

All of your positive work (that, of course, you are CELEBRATING!! -- because that is the right thing to do with victories and you would celebrate with a friend if she were making these same decisions -- so you really should be celebrating when you make them for yourself!) ... positive decisions tend to lead to more positive decisions. When you are successful, you feel more empowered to make other challengine choices and be successful with those. With this phylosophy, your positive choices grow exponentially and you feel great about it! (This is very exciting to see. This is why I LOVE what the coaching I do!!)

So give the idea of leverage some thought. In your mind, when you choose to leave something uneaten -- think about it adding to your weight loss account. When you eat something that tastes great, know that you are EXPERIENCING the food and really appreciate it. That, too, is a deposit in the weight loss account because if you are tasting it and it is fantastic, there will be a time when you eat less of something because it does NOT taste fantastic and you know you can be satisfied with less of it.

And most of all -- no matter how much weight you need/want to lose or how much you are struggling to maintain your weight right now, giving the mindful eating approach some extra time and thought right now, will save you time, thought and heartache in dealing with your weight in the future -- and that is the ultimate leverage.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Which is worse...

Telling yourself "Not right now." or feeling pressured (by yourself or someone else)to tell yourself "No!" ??

"Not right now." means just because you are next to your favorite frozen custard stand -- you don't necessarily need to stop today because you aren't REALLY hungry for custard right now. You are not closing the door on custard for ever -- just this time.

"No!" feels like the door slamming on something that brings you joy. If I tell someone "No!" they are going to think and think about the forbidden something until they drive themselves crazy, breakdown, and eat a bunch of it (and then feel guilty). This is not the weight loss mentality I am after.

There are times when you can tell yourself "Not right now." and it is no big deal. You don't feel deprived and you are not going to obsess about what you didn't have.

Especially, when you are trying to fill an emotional hungry with physical food -- a few minutes of "Not right now." allows you to get distracted by something other than food and potential satisfy the emotional hunger with an emotional (vs. physical) fuel (think connecting with a friend if you feel disconnected, cleaning up the kitchen if the mess is driving you crazy, taking 3 slow breathes in a row if you are stressed) instead of masking the emotional hunger with food.

The important thing here is to remember mindful eating is not a bunch of rules -- that would be diet. Mindful eating is about making a decision for this moment based on this moment's current conditions.

30% Physical vs. 70% Emotional

Thursday, I attended a talk given by a life coach specializing in helping people increase their energy levels. We all know how precious energy is and I have yet to meet a person who wouldn't increase their energy levels if they could.

The talk started out with the statistic that 30% of our energy comes from physical sources (what we eat, how much and our quality of sleep, and exercise). The other 70% comes from how we are emotionally oriented to our world. The "glass half-full" mentality gives us more perceived energy (ability and willingness to interact with our environment) than those of us that are the "glass half empty" mentality.

The coach spent 40 of the 45 minutes talking about the things we can do to eat better, sleep better, and exercise more -- all of the things we know we should do -- all of the things the magazines lining the grocery store check-out scream at us.

The last 5 minutes of the talk touched on the emotional component of our energy levels. This seems to me to be a HUGE oversight! Not only from a numbers perspective --wouldn't I want to invest more time into the side of the equation that is responsible for the largest percentage of my energy? And don't I know enough about what I should be doing for my physical energy? And working on the emotional side of the equation is open to everyone! Because it is all in your head, it is open to unlimited change -- you are completely in charge of what goes on up there. Sure, it may not be easy -- but there isn't anything stopping you except yourself.

But before I get too ramped up talking about this, let's bring this back to the task at hand -- eating.

We live in a society that is focused on breaking things down to small parts and figuring out what the small parts do in isolation. You cannot tell me that reading the label on your fav Ben and Jerry's container is going to give you an understanding of the texture of the ice cream as it melts in your mouth (assuming you are being mindful and let it melt -- not just gulp it down in an effort to get the next spoonful in -- trust me, I have done both). Reading the label will not give the same emotional satisfaction of feeling the crunch of nuts mixing with the smooth and cold sensation of chocolate chunks -- tasting the flavors increase as your mouth brings the spoonful closer to body temperature. The experience is something completely different than fats, carbs, and proteins.

Why does it make sense to base something so wonderful as the opportunity to eat really flavorful foods on a list of the basic parts? Where is the joy in that? You may (and indeed do) get physical energy (measured in calories) from ice cream. But are you making use of that calorie expenditure to get your 70% emotional energy boost? If you are being mindful (tasting, appreciating smell, color,texture,etc.) you have a better shot at eating a few bites and getting a big boost on the emotional side without having to eat the whole container (and all the attendant calories).

Think about the foods that give you the greatest emotional boost. Are they all sweets? You all know how much I love cookies -- some cookies give me an emotional boost. But so does a beautiful salad, warm gnocchi with red sauce, the beef and tomatoes my mom makes, delicious soups. Just because we are talking about emotional energy boosting foods, it doesn't mean they are only the foods that would make a dietitian squirm.

The point is: every time we eat, we have an opportunity to fuel our physical selves AND we have the ability to fuel our emotional selves! We could get 70% more energy from something we already to if we just tune in a little more.

Seems like it is worth a try!

*** for those of you interested in the emotional energy side of things, I recommend a book called The Emotional Energy Factor -- the secrets high-energy people use to beat emotional fatigue ****

Friday, January 15, 2010

Do something Friday

A client recently asked me about food choices. She and I have worked together on and off for a couple years. Her afternoon snack is a staple behavior because by late afternoon she is physically hungry. By eating the snack, it allows her to be at a reasonable hunger level (level 3) by dinner and not closer to a 1.5 where she would be unable to be in charge of her eating speed.

For a number of reasons, she has "fallen off" the mindful eating wagon and is starting to get herself back on. However, when she fell off the wagon, she reverted back to the "diet" mentality of assessing a food's "goodness" or "badness" as a means of deciding what to eat instead of figuring out what really sounds wonderful to eat. Consequently, her afternoon snacks are not as satisfying to her as they used to be.

This lack of satisfaction seems reasonable to me. One size does not fit all. My favorite satisfying snack will not necessarily be satisfying to you. The snack that fits perfectly for the summer (think fresh strawberries) will not necessarily be the perfect snack in the winter (when a nice hot Chai latte would be so much more satisfying).

When we don't reach a certain satisfaction level with our food choices, we keep searching (and eating) until we get there. In the end, we eat more calories by trying to "be good" than if we had just had what we really wanted in the first place.

So the question becomes: What are you eating because you "should" and what are you denying yourself that would really satisfy you?

Think of it this way:

500 calories of salad vs. 500 calories of steak and baked potato with sour cream and butter.

If you are working on the diet mentality, you will choose the 500 calories of salad because that is what you "should" do -- and we have all been trained steak and baked potato (with or without the butter and sour cream) are not foods you eat to lose weight. But...500 calories is still 500 calories -- it doesn't matter where they come from. say...500 calories of salad is a larger volume of food than 500 calories of steak and baked potato. True. But...what is it you really want?

If a greater sensation of physical fullness is important then you would probably want to chose the salad.

If you really want the warmth and satisfaction of steak and baked potato -- and you are willing to be satisfied but not have as great a degree of physical stretching of your stomach -- then it makes sense to eat the steak. You will walk away from the table in the same spot as it relates to weight loss (having consumed the same number of calories you would have with the salad) but you will have a greater degree of satisfaction with the meal and be less likely to seek out something else to make you feel satisfied because you already are.

This weekend -- be aware of why you are making the choices you are making. Are you basing everything on the "diet" mentality and seeking out more opportunities to eat as a way to increase your satisfaction with food? If there were no "diet rules", what would you chose to eat? And are you willing to eat less of those things if you get to lose weight while being able to eat them?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I just reread a article about how mindfulness training can be very helpful for bariatric surgery patients. One of the ways bariatric surgery is helpful is that pain results from eating too great a volume of food at any one time. This forces a person to be more mindful of what they are eating -- otherwise pain results and avoidance of pain is a HUGE motivator.

The authors of the article state that mindfulness is "synonymous with paying attention or taking care". defines mindfulness as attentive or heedful.

We, as a society, don't really value being heedful or the act of paying attention to ourselves. We talk about "me" time -- but very few people are comfortable enough to really embrace that idea for themselves. Sure -- we tell others "You have to take care of yourself! That is the only way you will be able to take care of XYZ". It is a wonderful concept for "others" but we don't let it translate to ourselves.

But why not? Being mindful at your meal is surrendering yourself to the moment. Whatever the moment is (best dinner, artfully prepared and delicious, that you have every experienced or... the worst day-old stadium dog that has ever crossed your lips)-- Mindfulness is the willingness to experience each of those things for what they are -- neither of those situations are a judgement on you!

Mindfulness is being willing to engage in this particular moment of eating because this is the only moment that exists right now. What you ate yesterday is gone. Tomorrow's eating has not happened yet and indeed may never happen. This moment, this bite, is all you have.

Mindfulness asks you to live in this moment and put aside everything else to experience what is happening right now. If you can do that -- even just occasionally -- how would your life change?

Once you start learning to be engaged with what is happening while you are eating -- the habit starts developing in other areas of your life. Engaging with your kids, coworkers, spouse and friends. How would your life change if you were wholly involved where you are doing what you are doing when you are actually doing it?

You really would be heedful and taking more care of others because you are being heedful and taking more care of your own experience.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And the holiday eating continues???

I have noticed that not everyone is ready to give up the fun and pleasure of holiday eating just yet.

Case in point -- me. I want to keep eating cookies. They taste good. They are portable (and I told you yesterday I have been super busy!). They crunch (when they are frozen). And are soft (when they thaw). And most of all, my mom made them -- comfort like no other.

So -- I have done a pretty good job putting them away. I have only eaten 2 in the last 5 days. But the want to eat them is still there.

I met with a client this week who has let his portions creep back up and his weight is going that way too. Before the holidays -- not a problem. But the holidays knocked him off his groove and that is where he is now.

Another client realized she is stress eating -- not because she is stressed -- but because she was stressed through the holidays. Since the holidays have ended, the stress has gone but she is left with the stress eating habit.

What behaviors are you letting carry over into the new year? Do you feel you are in charge of your eating behaviors or are you just desperately trying to stay in control of them?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Welcome to the New Year

Is anyone else stressed to the gills already??

My job is crazy, busy time of year (think tax season for accountants). Lots of people have joined the ranks at BHFC and I love that!! People who have decided to be healthier in 2010 than they were in 2009 -- very cool!

The end result of this is a busier me. Lots of people who need to be seen, introduced to the facility, gotten off on the correct eating and exercise programs for each of them.

Plus, I was minding my own business the other day when a colleague asked if I would create an series of lectures on Increasing Activity to go along with her diet-based weight control program. Which, of course, I said yes to.

And the Eating Coach website isn't done (although the e-course is -- one small victory anyway).

And I have a Spring Learning Series to plan.

And I have to pick the dates for the spring Eating Coach classes.

And I just started back strength training (my official start date was February .....2009 -- so I would be in good strength for wake boarding season -- which is right around the corner, now that the days are getting longer).




All of that to say -- Holy Cow!! Life is crazy and I want to lay down and take a nap. But I can't -- all of the above needs to get done. Some quicker than others but it all needs to happen. So now what???

If you are feeling like this -- think about stopping for just a minute and taking a breath. Slow in...slow out. Becoming aware of what is going on (as opposed to running on autopilot) is the first step. There is no easy answer to the to-do list -- like I said, it all needs to get done. But I don't want it to take me down in the process.

It is times like this where clients tend to fall off the Mindful Eating wagon. They stress eat or just end up grabbing whatever super-sized anything they can get their hands on just because it is convenient.

Don't let your stress derail you. Make a plan. Sunday I was smart enough to make a big pot of soup for lunches this week (okay -- there is another small victory). At least, I will have something easy to pack for lunch so I am not tempted to skip it and grab a big bag of chips on the way home.

Take your drive time to think about how hungry you are feeling so when you get home you have an idea of how much you are going to need to eat at dinner to relieve the physical hunger of the day.

Pay attention to how hungry you are in the morning when you first wake up. Are you hungrier than normal (don't freak out about this -- when you are busier and burning more calories running around you will feel hungrier) or do you feel what you always feel?

Are you more tempted to grab that high carb/high salt snack from the vending machine in the afternoon? Why? Are you bored or stressed about the work waiting for you back at your desk? Or are you truly hungry?

Keep notes about how you are feeling (stressed, bored, let down from the holidays, still fighting with your sibling over a holiday incident...) to see if you can see patterns in your eating.

Most of all -- and if you do nothing else -- Breathe. One slow one in and then slowly out. Appreciate the way your lungs expand and contract. Let the stress go -- it all needs to be done, believe me, I understand -- but one thing at a time -- Mindfully.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Why are you doing what your doing?

How did journaling go over the weekend? Was it hard to remember to write everything down when you are on the go without the structure of work?

This is the point. When you are on the go without the structure of work, many of us stop paying attention to what we are eating. With the fridge just a few steps away in the kitchen, are you the person who finds herself hanging out in front of it -- just looking to see if the food status has changed since your last visit?

Journaling doesn't have to be formal. Throw a pad of post-its and a pen on the counter and as you eat and fill them out, stick them into a spiral binder. Get creative and problem solve the situation in a way that seems sensible to you.

Studies have shown that it isn't the plan that determines how successful a person is at losing the weight -- it is how much the person buys into the plan. If you are modifying your behaviors in ways that seems sensible and maintainable over the long haul -- and then reevaluating them as you move through the changes -- you will be successful in losing weight and keeping it off over your lifetime.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Do something Friday

Are you journaling?

Most of my clients wrinkle their noses at the idea of writing down everything that goes into their mouths -- "It's too much of a pain in the neck" they say.

But really, that is the point. If you are going to eat 3 pretzels from the break table but then you know you are going to have to go write them down, it tests your commitment to how badly you want those pretzels. If they aren't worth the effort of writing them down in the journal, you probably don't want them that badly in the first place.

You don't have to weigh or measure either.

Grab a notepad and write down the time you are eating, what you ate, whether you were physically hungry when you started eating and how full you were when you got done. Your goal is to do this as close to the time that you eat as possible. People are notoriously bad at remembering all of the little bites they took during the day if they journal for the whole day at the end of the day.

That's it. Not rocket science and it will give you all of the information you need to know to help you eliminate the calories that aren't adding value to your life and lose weight without feeling deprived.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How much do you need to reduce your intake??

If you reduce the amount of food you eat per day by 9 bites (think about it -- that is just 3 bites per meal), you will have saved enough calories in a week to lose a 1/2-1 pound in a week.

Can you be happy eating 9 bites per day less?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This has been bothering me for a while...

There is the concept many of us hold that we have a "right" to eat whatever we want. While in principle that it true, it doesn't mean that there aren't consequences for overeating.

The Borgess Heart Institute just put out it's next edition of the Light Hearted Living cookbook -- that's cool. All of the recipes have been taste tested and analyzed by dietitians so they meet heart healthy guidelines. But, here's my problem with the whole thing....

The tag line on the promotion stuff is:

"Eat to your Heart's Content."

What this says to me is that the food in this book is heart healthy so I have a free pass -- I can enjoy as much of this heart healthy food as I want and the consequences will be different than if I enjoy as much McDonald's as I want.

Is this actually true? Would the consequences be different?

I don't think so.

If I spend all of my disposable income on a really, really expensive gym membership, wouldn't I still have a problem when faced with an unexpected bill? But...wait...the gym membership being a healthy choice should count for something, right? Well, maybe working out would help me manage the stress of not having any money to pay the unexpected bill but it wouldn't be the best solution for the problem.

Same goes for food -- it is a great thing to be able to eat great tasting, healthier food options. But if you over eat, it doesn't matter what you are over eating on -- it is possible to over eat on carrots! If you are eating when you are not physically hungry -- that is the definition of over eating. We do it all the time -- I just want you aware that there aren't "get out of jail free" foods because they are healthy. Don't let the media tell you different!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I had this discussion with.....

So, how much holiday food do you still have in your house?

I had this discussion with myself last weekend and with a client and 4 members yesterday. It is time to get the holiday food gone. We have eaten enough cookies, sweets, peanut brittle, chocolates, drank enough soda, etc. It is time to clear things out.

For myself, I still have cookies. I am NOT going to throw them away (they are special once a year cookies and cannot, under any circumstances, be mistreated0. But it is time to get them out of the kitchen freezer and into the garage freezer. There, I will leave them alone for month or so while I detox all of the Christmas sugar out of my system.

And start drinking more water! I know it is cold outside (at least here) and sometimes that makes it hard to drink water. We have to move the sugar out of our systems. If you are getting those sugar cravings (because you have had at least a month with tons of available sugar around the office) drinking water will help you get over the cravings. Just make sure it isn't sugared water. If you don't like plain water, try it flavored with lemon, lime or orange. Or find a tea you like.

It is time to reestablish the things you do well. Once that is done, then move on to one new small change.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I love you guys!

So, first, let me say -- it has given me a huge charge to check in every day and see the hit counter at the bottom of the page moving up and up. --Especially, these last two weeks when everyone has been so busy with the holidays and so many of you (and me too) have had vacation time. It is really cool that you are still checking the blog even though you are not at work! Thanks!

Secondly, I was talking to a buddy of mine who is preparing to head out on a mission trip in January. He needs to raise funds and I was taking a look at the website of the group he is going with (mostly because I hadn't ever heard of this organization and was curious about how they worked). I stumbled across a tab entitled Motivational Minutes. I am always curious to see how others motivate, so I clicked on the tab and ended up on a the page entitled "I can do Anything for Ten More Minutes". The gist of the article is that when something is difficult (the author specifically talks about running but this is applicable to most any situation) if you can focus on getting yourself over the discomfort of the immediate future (the next 10 minutes) then usually the discomfort passes and you don't get bogged down by the whole distance you are trying to go -- just focus on getting through the next little bit (does this sound like mindfulness to anyone??)

It made me think about how we talk about weight management. Sometimes, we get so bogged down thinking about the whole amount we have to lose (let's say you want to lose 50 pounds) and it just seems like too much when you break that down into how long it is going to take, how much you won't be able to eat, how many weeks you are going to need to deprive yourself of your favorite foods, how often you are going to have to tell your friends you can't eat out with them because you are on a diet -- it all becomes too overwhelming and you just want to quit!

Don't quit!! Make a decision to deal with the next 10 minutes or the next snack time or the next boring breakfast meeting with donuts sitting on the buffet that you don't really want to eat but you are so BORED out of your gourd and it would be nice to just be able to stretch your legs because this meeting is putting you to sleep and it is only 8:20 am!!

Just make the next eating decision with as much grace as you can muster. Once that is done, then think about the next one. One decision at a time. Eliminate 30calories here, 150 calories there -- the weight will come off consistently if you are consistently making the small decisions to eat a bit less.

You can do almost anything for 10 more minutes. Keep that in mind next time you start to get bogged down.

Friday, January 1, 2010

1 January 2010

How are you moving into the New Year? Are you full of regrets of your holiday eating? Judgment about your weight?

LET IT GO!!!!!

The mindful approach to weight loss is all about letting go of judgment, both for the kinds of food you eat and for yourself. Guilt, shame and anger don't work as a long term weight loss strategy.

Have you seen the commercials for the Taco Bell Drive Thru Diet? That woman did not lose her weight because she was eating high quality food -- she was losing weight because she was eating fewer calories that she had been in the past. You could create a Twinkie Diet if you wanted to -- you would just need to eat fewer Twinkie calories than the total number of calories you have been eating. (I am not endorsing Twinkies -- don't get the wrong impression -- anything with that long of a shelf life probably isn't a food you want as a staple)

Who would have thought a person could lose weight eating at drive thru's?? Even if you haven't actually watched Super Size Me, we all understand the idea that fast food makes us fat. BUT, it doesn't. LOTS of fast food makes us fat. And most restaurant food (fast or not) is designed to give us a feeling of monetary value (huge portions to justify the larger price tag). But if you ate the portion size your body needed at that time (based on hunger and fullness cues not portion size cues) you would lose weight.

So, it is the first of the year! Get creative with your weight loss solutions. Make small changes and do more of what's working well already.