Friday, February 26, 2010

Do something Friday

Can you even believe this is the last Friday of February? This year is flying by!! Which reminds of a quote I read this week -- "The days are long but the years are short."

But now let's talk about judgment -- when was the last time you put some thought and energy into the non-judgment aspect of mindful eating? I was on a conference call yesterday with a woman who used the term "sorting" as a way of processing information. She sorted her experiences into pleasant/neutral/or unpleasant.

Once she decided which kind of experience she was having, she didn't delve into why the experience was seeming like it was -- she just jumped into what she was going to do about the experience.

If you are eating and you realize the food (whether it is carrots or cake) is a neutral experience -- you may want to stop eating it if you are not hungry. This doesn't require you to analyze the label on the food to make this decision. If you consider that the definition of overeating is "eating for any other reason than physical hunger" then you can see that we overeat often (by the strictest definition) -- This isn't a cause for judgment.

Our own judgment sets us up to start hiding our behaviors from ourselves. We will opt not to see them. Or perhaps we will only highlight the activities that we have judged as negative -- those are the ones we will focus all of our attention on and beat ourselves up about.

What if you started just noticing your behaviors -- not trying to change them. Notice what particular stresses cause you to stress eat. Notice which people you eat to a fuller sensation with. Which workdays tend to leave you with little time to eat during the day so when you get home you are too hungry to feel in charge of your eating decisions.

Just in the noticing, you will find their are areas that don't require a ton of effort to tweak into a behavior that works for you. Perhaps you will find that you are making more mindful decisions than you realize and all the "work" you think you need to do isn't quite as much as you thought.

Just noticing, without judging the information, will start you moving on an easier path to mindfulness.

This weekend, make a conscious effort to change the jugmental language you use in your head. If you hear yourself say something like "I shouldn't have this" or "This is full of fat" -- make an effort to reframe that thought into something like --"I am going to chose not to have this because I am not hungry for it right now" or "Fat is one of the 3 nutrients I need to live -- there is nothing inherently wrong with fat. It carries flavors. It has calories. I can eat fat or carb or protein if I enjoy the flavor of the food"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Food is Fun

When was the last time you opened up a restaurant menu and had guilt-free excitement while looking at all the choices open to you?

Let's face it -- food is fun! But we spend so much time worrying about nutritional content, whether it has high fructose corn syrup (isn't that what my mom had in her cupboard while I was growing up? Right next to the molasses? It tasted good -- are we really sure it is going to kill us dead just as effectively as cyanide??) Anyway...We spend a lot of time worrying about what is in the food we are eating -- whether it is calories, fat, or genetically modified food products, the worry of it is killing our enjoyment of the food.

Worry is an energy waster and joy stealer. And I don't know anyone out there who has so much energy or joy that wasting some of it is an okay thing.

One of the most fun moments I have had with a client was when we were talking about how she was going to handle eating at a particular restaurant where she loves the desserts. I suggested she order the dessert (and eat the amount that tasted fantastic) first -- as in main course. As the thought dawned, she started to get excited. There isn't any reason NOT to do this --

she isn't going to be malnourished after one meal.

the calories she was going to eat for a main course would have been wasted since she really didn't want them, she wanted dessert.

and she felt excited to be able to have permission to have what it was she REALLY wanted (dessert).

The meal, for her, went smashingly. She ordered her dessert for her main course. She made a mental half line in it when it came. When she reached the mental half line, she decided that it was still tasting good but not tasting fantastic, so she stopped eating it--Had it boxed up and ordered a small appetizer to finish her meal.

Viola! Freedom and satisfaction. And most importantly -- fun and joy! (and she didn't eat extra calories because she was feeling deprived) Carpe Diem.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mind Shift

I am doing some research for an upcoming presentation (more on that in a while) and picked up a copy of the book The Intrinsic Exerciser. I have read the book a couple time but what struck me this time was how parallel the author's point about exercising is to mindful eating.

In the book, the author states that a person must find some reason or reasons that he or she can find "mastery, learning, curiosity or enjoyment" in exercise in order to be successful as a life-long exerciser.

Mindful eating is like that. You will never achieve perfect mastery of mindfulness while you eat -- but if that is your goal, you will have immediate feedback about how well you are doing. You will either be mindful of a meal or snack or you won't. And you will have another opportunity to practice in a couple hours.

Whereas, if losing weight is your primary measure of how successful you are being, it might take a couple of weeks to feel successful because you have lost a pound or two. If you have a lot of weight to lose, this victory might feel too small to sustain over the long haul.

So here is the author's idea:

Motivational Mindset Shift

Extrinsic (focusing on the product)
reduce risk of disease
control/lose weight
enhance fitness
goal happens in the future
have to

Intrinsic (focusing on the process)
feels good
goal happens in the present
want to

Could this mind shift help you??

Monday, February 22, 2010

Schedules and perfection

A couple weeks ago, I was getting really frustrated. Work was really busy. The kids needed lots of driving here and there. I just felt out of control and at the mercy of everyone Else's schedules.

One of the ways I cope with situations like that is taking time to exercise but I couldn't fit it in. So the stress was building.

Finally, I got some down time to think. What popped into my head was a picture of my perfect schedule. In my perfect schedule, I would wake up in the morning, brush my teeth and start the coffee. Exercise, shower, blog and look over emails while having my first cup of coffee and then head to work at 7a.

Well, there are a few reasons that schedule isn't really realistic for me -- one is that I need a decent amount of sleep and I like staying up past 8.30p so getting up as early as it would take to make all of that stuff happen in the morning it not likely (at least during the winter when it is dark). But...

I did find that as I thought about what would be really perfect for me, I got the sense that I wasn't wholly at the mercy of other people's schedules. There were small things I could change to start moving my schedule more toward one that fits me better. I couldn't change what time I left the house in the morning but I could get up a few minutes earlier to exercise. I could arrange my morning so I can check emails and/or blog before I leave the house.

As the weeks have passed, I have found myself making small changes to the morning routine without really having to stress about it. They take some thinking and planning but I am making it happen -- slowly.

I am kind of surprised at what that vision has done for me. I am feeling much more in charge of the morning. The reason for that is that I (accidentally) took time to think about the opposite end of the craziness I was feeling. It wasn't a vision of what would work as a stop-gap measure. It was a vision of perfection. Once I could see that, then the next step was to find smaller pieces that would move me toward where I wanted to be. But it wouldn't have happened it I didn't take time to create the vision.

So what is your vision for a perfect eating day??

Friday, February 19, 2010

Do something Friday

"Desires often run our lives. Understand them and learn to seek pleasures that enhance your sense of well-being." --Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad

What if you knew what would enhance your sense of well-being? Are you even sure you know what well-being means for you?

If our well-being was ultimate yard stick to measure our decisions (eating and everything else) -- that would open up time for brownie sundaes -- but I bet we would also choose to eat smaller sundaes because that would make our sense if well-being increase too.

I bet many of us would find that we don't like how much we worry about what we eat -- putting so much energy into which low-fat/low-carb whatever would be the best alternative for what we really want to eat.

This weekend-- take some time -- think about your well-being. If you could arrange the perfect sense of fitting into your skin, what would that feel like to you. Right now, don't worry about how you are going to get there -- just figure out how it would feel.

Dream big, my friend and see all of the possibilities open to you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's Better than Zero?

I was looking for blog inspiration. One place I turn that consistently produces inspirations, is Tribes.

I started reading about Gary Vaynerchuk, who, according to the Casebook, ran a multi-million dollar wine company. And who left the company to build a video blog. And that blog had 80,000 viewers each day in a little over a year. Wow!

The author of the Casebook study goes on to say the way he did this was by being passionate about the blog he was creating (obviously the man had something to say!). Gary says the key to starting anything is the "better than zero" philosophy. Stop analyzing and start doing because anything is better than doing nothing.

So --- in the spirit of the 3rd week in February (for those of you who don't know -- it is fairly common knowledge in the world of exercise professionals that most New Year's Resolutions to improve exercise/eating behaviors have fallen by the wayside by now) I am going to endorse this idea:

Better than zero

To stop gaining is better than to keep gaining.

To cut back to 9 mindless eating episode is better than mindlessly eating 10 times.

Cutting back 2 bites per day is better than eating them when you don't really want them.

Choosing to really experience your food at one meal is better than not really experiencing anything all day.

All of these are better than not doing anything and staying on a path that isn't working for you. It may take you a little longer (hey -- this blog isn't getting 80,000 hits per day but you are here right now!) Moving forward is still moving forward -- even if it isn't at as quick of a speed as we really want.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mindsets and Behaviors

Eating off a smaller plate
Eating low fat/carb/etc
setting your fork down between bites
Only eating breakfast lunch and dinner
Always eating breakfast
Drinking protein shakes for all but dinner

You care enough about yourself to make some changes
Enjoying and paying attention to what you are eating
Learning to trust your body
Understanding and accepting that sometimes you will be more hungry than others
Learning the difference between "no" and "not right now"
Learning that there is a difference between "in charge" and "in control"
Learning that dessert after dinner is not an indulgence -- it is a choice that is open to you

Behaviors and mindsets work together. Having some "go to" behaviors when you are tired is helpful. A small plate and the habit of plating your food in the kitchen will serve you well.

Being kind with yourself during times of stress and tiredness help keep you on track with your weight loss plans -- without sending you over the edge.

Understanding that mindfulness 24/7 is not realistic but to keep seeking it at each time you eat is important.

Mindsets form the baskets of your behaviors -- mindsets dictate what you will see as possible. It makes good sense to expand your vision of what you can do -- because honestly, most of us don't give ourselves enough credit. Behaviors are how we exhibit our mindsets -- and sometimes behaviors are what we keep doing until the mindset we want to create has settled in (the whole "fake it 'til you feel it" idea.

If you give your mindsets and your behaviors some thought -- you might find you see more options to create mindfulness in your life than you thought.

*****As a side note: I talked to a man yesterday who told me he has lost 10 pounds a year for the last 5 years -- and he was really happy about that. I was really happy that he can see that as real and meaningful progress.*****

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Here is the best thought I have heard in a while from a post entitled "I Am Beautiful":

yes...I am beautiful just like I am,,,and because I love myself...I am going to live a healthier lifestyle"

This is not the case of which comes first, the chicken or the egg, for lasting weight loss, love yourself enough to take care of yourself. Don't wait until you have reached the weight you "should be" to start loving yourself.

Question for the day

Question for you --

Are you trying to change your weight loss mindsets, your behaviors, or just trying to lose the weight any which way you can?

Give it some thought and we will talk in a bit.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Life is a journey

Sometimes, in life, you wake up one morning and realize that you are not where you would like to be. Like setting out on a trip without a detailed map, we take a wrong turn or two and end heading in a direction that isn't going to get us to our chosen destination. Once we've realized this, we have a couple options:

1.Decide you might not have picked the best driving path up front and keep going in your current direction because maybe there is a shortcut right around the next corner that is going to get you to where you want to go.

2. Freak out because you have just realized your heading in the wrong direction; assume you will never be able to get to your destination. Hop out of the car, pick it up and through it on your back, and start running to your destination blaming your car for taking you to some place you don't want to be.

3.Stop and ask for directions. Take a breather and start driving in a new direction at a safe speed to get you to your destination of choice.

To me choice number 1 very rarely is successful -- if you knew where you wanted to go and couldn't find the right roads, how are you going to recognize the magic shortcut -- if there even is one.

Choice #2 doesn't make sense because you aren't going to get very far carrying your car (ie drastic diets that make your body lose weight but not in a healthy, life building way).

But choice 3 seems sensible to me. Take stock of where you are, reassess where you want to be, get directions if you need some and proceed at a pace that will get you there safely.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Do something Friday

We all know the portions we are served at restaurants are way too big. We can extend that thought to realized that most of the plates (if you have moderately new dishware) are way bigger than the ones our grandma's served us on. But do you know how much bigger???

Click on over to the Portion Distortion Quiz and have a gander...

When we think about eating something, we think about eating a whole something. If I want a banana, I don't normally think about having a half of a large banana -- what I picture in my head is A (whole) BANANA.

If I want to have a bagel -- it is most likely I will eat a whole bagel -- if it is smaller, I will eat one (whole) -- if it is bigger, I will still eat one (whole).

As you can see from the Quiz -- size does matter and the difference between what was routinely served 20 years ago and the portion that we expect to see now is vastly different.

There are a couple ways to tackle this issue:

Eat a restaurants and buy food for home that are reasonable size portions -- even though it will probably cost you more for less.

Or...start thinking in smaller units. When you go to Subway, work on automatically ordering the 6 in. sub. Get proficient at order off of the children's menu when you eat fast food. Look for the smaller bagels or train yourself you to think of a bagel as a half of a bagel -- that way if you have 2 halves, you think you are having two of something (it is easier to say "not right now" to the second of something than it is to say that to the first). Get creative!

Right now, the environment we live in is not helping us. You can change your environment and how you respond to it's cues.

Being aware of hunger and fullness levels while we eat is a wonderful thing -- but we need our environment to support our efforts, too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Today -- you have to opportunity to change how you see the situations you are struggling with. Just like the old cliche "When life hands you lemons..."

Well, the truth may be that life isn't handing you lemons that you need to re-purose into something good -- maybe life is handing the ingredients that you need to make something wonderful. Not re-purposing something -- just using something for its purpose.

Mindfulness has the power to make you a better friend, partner, employee, and the most authentic you you can be. Mindful eating is life mindfulness on training wheels.

Maybe learning to manage your weight isn't life handing you lemons -- maybe learning to manage your weight is life handing you the ingredients for making an even better life.

Check out this video -- it is one of the most inspiring things I have seen in a while and even though it is about jobs and careers, the whole concept holds true for the mentality behind facing our challenging moments in life. It's 37 minutes long, so if you're at work, shut your door so your boss won't see :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ask better questions

The other day my daughter came to me and said, "I don't have any clean pants."

The response in my head was, "So??? And this is my problem how?"

The response out loud was , "So?"

She is old enough to solve this problem herself. She knows how to do laundry. She knows how many pairs of pants she has in her closet. She knows how many she has worn this week. She knows what our plans were for that day. The ball is in her court.

Obviously, I frustrated her with my answer. "So?" is definitely not the most supportive response to a problem. But, I reminded her, she would get better results if she asked better questions.

"Mom, do I have time to do a load of laundry and have it dry before we have to go?" is a much better question. It doesn't change the situation but it lets her get to the heart of the matter. She has moved on from the problem onto a solution she can work toward.

How many times have you asked yourself how you are going to "lose all this weight"?

What if it was as simple as "what can I do today to eat a few bites less"? Now you can focus your planning skills and hone in on what you really want to accomplish today without getting bogged down.

Don't like that question? Make one that works for you. Ask better questions and you will change the results you get.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Switch: How to change things when change is Hard

I just got done reading an excerpt from a book with the above title.

Fabulous article to get you thinking (the book just went on my to-do list)-- here is the gist:

Find a bright spot and clone it

The authors have pointed out that we are solution oriented thinkers. If there is a problem, we jump right to finding a solution. The issue with this is: When the problem is too big, we look for the correspondingly large solution and get bogged down by details.

At the start of every group coaching session, I ask each of the participants what they did well during the previous week. Even with advanced warning, the first week most of my clients have a difficult time coming up with one decision they feel positive about. In the beginning, they are looking for HUGE decisions that are earth-shattering. That is not really the stuff of life.

Life is lived in the small decisions. The quiet moments. The three minutes spent staring into the fridge at 9:30pm when you aren't hungry, aren't really sure why you are looking in there or how you got there in the first place.

The small moments are where mindful decisions can have a big impact. Define the ones that make you feel successful and figure out how you can adapt the success to other similar situations to achieve success there, as well.

If you are looking for bright spots, you don't have to reconstruct your life to be the perfect setting to achieve the perfect weight. If you are looking for the bright spots, you can look for more opportunities to insert "bright spot" eating decisions into your day -- if that is your focus, you can achieve success every day. You won't have to wait until you hit the "magic number" on the scale before you get the feedback that says you are on the right track. Most of all, you won't have to overhaul your life in unrealistic ways to achieve your goals. One eating decision at a time is each it's own success.

Monday, February 8, 2010

this is why I think coaching is a good weight loss solution...

Seth Godin's post from Saturday:

The relentless search for "tell me what to do"
If you've ever hired or managed or taught, you know the feeling.

People are just begging to be told what to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the biggest one is: "If you tell me what to do, the responsibility for the outcome is yours, not mine. I'm safe."

When asked, resist.

Okay -- we can all see how it works from the perspective of the person being asked by someone else what they should do. But what about the perspective of the person doing the asking?

We all need people to bounce ideas off of. Sometimes we need a different perspective on a situation. We are not always looking for someone else to take the responsibility hit for us.

But diets play on this mindset. The diet industry has worked a system where they are the "experts" and we follow their lead. Most of the time, we do this because we just don't think about it -- we haven't been trained to think that we are the experts about ourselves and perhaps we just need some guidance and perspective -- we do not need to be told what to do.

When you accept that nobody knows you as well as you know yourself then you become empowered to be incharge of your health and well being. There are no absolute right or wrong answers here -- it is just a question of degrees. It is not bad to drink some wine every evening -- probably not a good idea to drink two bottles every night. You don't need an expert to tell you this -- the first time you drink two bottles in an evening, your body will tell you, and then your job become making the connection between drinking two bottles and the terrible feeling you experience the next morning.

Same goes with eating -- there are going to be foods that make you feel great. There are going to be foods that make you feel terrible. Learning to pay attention to those experiences and act on them in the future is what will make achieving or maintaining a healthy weight easier.

Be your own expert. Be in charge of your own health and well being. Understand that you create your own outcome -- not matter what.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Which Diet will save you???

This idea is totally pirated from Seth Godin -- so if you want to read the kernel that started this post, click here.

The diet to save our nation. The Surgeon General just published a report full of facts and statistics and her vision that tell us....nothing new.

We, as a nation, are overweight and under active. We are busy and stressed and worried about our economy, burgeoning health care costs, childhood obesity, healthy food options, the list is endless. And how do we cope?

We keep ourselves busy -- watching TV, working long hours, complaining we are tired, eating to numb the nervousness we feel in ourselves, berating ourselves because we know we should be going to the gym but we just don't feel like it.

We buy and try diet systems, we spend a great amount of our energy making mental lists of all the things we "should be doing" and invest more time in listing all of the ways we are not living up to those lists.

Here's the deal.

No diet will save you. NO diet will give you energy for the rest of your life. Diets are artificial constructs -- and you are a Real person. You need Real ways to manage your weight.

You have to opportunity to change the world by changing your life -- today -- right now. Change one small decision about how you are going to eat. Clue into taste, texture, aroma -- clue into how you are choosing to spend your calories. Once you see there are plenty of choices to be made during the day (people average 250 food choices a day), you will see opportunities to eat less that don't leave you feeling deprived. They will actually increase your sense of well-being because you can finally feel like you are being successful with some of those "should do" lists.

Health care costs, childhood obesity, the economy, healthy food options, and your stress level will take care of themselves if you start to make changes in your relationship with food.

If you need help -- just ask.

Otherwise: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." --Gandhi

Thursday, February 4, 2010

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used to create them.”
--Albert Einstein

Change your relationship with food -- change your life.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Unmade beds

Relearning to be mindful when you eat is just like making your bed. You need to be willing to see when your bed is a mess of covers. Every time your bed looks like that, you have a choice to do something about it or not. If having a made bed is important to you, after choosing to make it day after day, it becomes the most natural thing in the world to hop (or drag) yourself out of bed in the morning and make it right away. It ceases to take that much effort because by then it is just habit. It is just what you do.

So the first step is being willing to acknowledge the bed is a mess. The second step is to take action. And, yup, it will be something you do every day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The real test of Intuitive Eating

Yesterday, I was talking to my daughter about the subject of today's blog. She suggested the ultimate test of being mindful while you are eating.

Can you leave the last 2 ravioli in the pot (to be thrown out later) or the last 2 Fruit Loops in the bowl because they no longer taste GREAT!

side note: I have no idea why she chose Fruit Loops for her example. She had just gotten done eating ravioli for lunch (and throwing out two) -- that part made sense. I can't tell you when the last time I bought Fruit Loops was!

Anyway, her point still holds. How often do you find yourself throwing out the last two bites of anything because you did not eat it?? Hopefully, more and more often!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ebb and Flow

Okay -- the above is not my favorite phrase. A couple of years ago, I actually hated that phrase. It was spoken to me (again and again) by a dear friend with the best of intentions, talking above how one moves through life -- sometimes you are going with the current -- things are smooth -- you can do no wrong and then....sometime not. There is no groove to be found. Everything is hard and unrewarding and unsuccessful and fruitless. is easy to love the phrase when you are in the flow. When you're in the ebb -- not so much, to say the least.

But here's the thing about ebb and flow: when you are in one stage -- the other is coming -- no avoiding it, that is how life works. The secret is to trust in the cycle -- a whole "this too shall pass" mentality. The goal being an average that ends up more in the flow than the ebb.

There are times when I fear winter. I HATE being cold. I like the snow. I like being outside. I like the beauty. But I really HATE being cold because it causes me pain.

Today, it was beautiful outside. So sunny that it was almost blinding. And after multiple days of it being darned cold, today was only reasonably cold -- so all things considered, not bad at all temperature wise.

Besides being cold, the other thing I HATE about the winter is the dark. The short days of winter, going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, get to me. But today was not one of those days. Today there was so much sun I didn't know what to do with myself first. So, today, I opted for a the winter...crazy!


And the best thing about it was I could smell spring. Okay -- it isn't even Ground Hog's Day. And I don't know where you are from but I know where I live, we have plenty of winter left. But it smelled like spring was coming. AND I know it will. You know why?? Because the weather has gotten warmer and the days have gotten longer every spring I have been alive. Ebb and flow. Sometimes it is dark and cold and then the days get longer and the weather warmer.

I sit here tonight and am just tired! (no...not from the wasn't that long) I don't know why I am tired. I went to bed pretty early all weekend. I relaxed this weekend. I got things done this weekend -- pretty balanced weekend. But here I am tired. Guess what? Tonight I am tired (did I mention it is still early in the evening?) and maybe tomorrow I will be tired too but eventually I won't be tired at this time of the evening -- I will be full of energy and ready to do something really fun -- Ebb and Flow.

Sometimes I can crank out posts to you guys like there is no tomorrow -- the words and ideas fly out of my fingers and on to the screen. And sometimes there isn't an idea to be had -- not one -- and it is like pullin' teeth to come up with something to say to get you thinkin'. Ebb and Flow.

How many times have I written a post telling y'all how starving I was -- how I thought I was just going to die before I got something to eat?? And there is always the other side of it for me -- the one that drives my friends crazy -- when I have no appetite and don't really want to eat. Ebb and Flow. Sure, you've also heard me tell you I have gotten to the freak out stage where I scare myself to death about how hungry I am and how (in my head) I think I am going to gain a 1000 pounds if I keep eating like I am eating right then. But it doesn't happen because right about then whatever was going on to make me sooooo hungry turns off and I am less hungry than normal for a while and things even out. Ebb and Flow.

The thing that makes ebb and flow survivable is understanding that this isn't the one time where it isn't going to work. Every winter, I need to have faith that spring will return. Every time I am discouraged because I am unreasonably tired (and I shouldn't be!!!), I need to have faith that for some reason, my body is calling for more sleep and I will feel well rested and full of energy again. When I have greater physical hunger, I need to stop my freaking out and have faith that there is nothing wrong with me. My hunger signals will diminish when my body has enough calories.

And at some point in the future, the world will be cold and dark again. I will be tired again (for no reason!!), my hunger will be seemingly unstoppable again. Ebb and Flow.

And the more I try to deny that I hate being cold, I am tired, that I am insanely, physically hungry -- the more I will slow myself down. I will waste energy fighting against something I cannot change -- the Earth's rotations, my fatigue, my body's need for energy. I will fight. I will get frustrated (with myself, with the world, with the people who seemingly don't have to fight as hard as I do...) until I realize that I don't have to fight either.

My job is to understand what it going on. See and acknowledge the patterns of ebb and flow. Learn how to work with the world (and my body). And appreciate what each state can teach me.

Easier said than done. But so worth it if you can get there -- at least during the flow -- it is so much harder to remember during the ebb.