Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What If...

Don Miller labels the above as the most powerful question you could ask. So...what if you did?

What if:

1. You are mindful today at lunch?
2. You lose a pound this week?
3. You learn that your body will not betray you -- it is trying to work with you?
4. You never had to worry about what you "should eat" or shouldn't eat ever again?
5. You make a small change today that will make you feel positive and guilt-free with your eating decisions today?

At the end of the day, how would you feel if you did these things?

All of these things are within your power -- if you need help, just ask, if you've got the idea, start doing today!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Voice

Most people don’t realize that if you continue living the way you’re living, you’ll never weigh less than you currently do.
--Jay Parkinson

Yesterday, I posed the questions:

What if you only had 10 pounds to lose?

Would that change how you felt about losing weight?

Over the weekend, I have been reading Switch. The whole book is about change -- how to create it in ourselves or others, how to get it to stick...

One of the points the authors make over and over again is that changes must be small or people get overwhelmed. They like concrete starting points and a vision for how things are going to end up. But the steps in the middle (the actual change) must be small and incremental.

So what did you come up with? What if you had 10 pounds to lose and that was it. Would you be more confident in your abilities to complete this task in a timely manner?

Would you be less stressed about tackling the prospect?

If you have more than 10 pounds to lose, here is something to think about:

Clients that have a lot of weight to lose (whatever "a lots" is because it varies from person to person) have all lost 10 pounds in the past. They know, from experience, they can do that much. What if I renamed Mindful Eating to be the "The 10 Pound Tool".

To lose 10 pounds, you would use The Tool (reducing how much to eat by 9 bites per day). You would do this until you had lost the 10 pounds.

If you have 30 or 60 or 100 pounds to lose, you would use The Tool 3 or 6 or 10 times. Instead of tackling the whole amount, the weight loss is broken down into a series of smaller, do-able, attainable-in-the-short-term victories. Keep racking up the victories until you get where you want to go.

This has you completing your goal (10 pounds) pretty quickly. Clients feel successful after using The 10 Pound Tool the first time and they want to use it again. Once you've used The Tool once or twice, others might start noticing and commenting on how healthy you are looking. It provides positive feedback for your use of The Tool and next time The Tool is even easier to use.

You get to where are want to go by stringing a series of 10 Pound Tool successes together. How simple is that?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two of my fav bloggers...

I was just over at gapingvoid and guess who was the guest blogger??? Seth Godin! get a bonus to start your Monday. The below is an excerpt of his guest post talking about the "Remember Who you are" cartoon I have had on the right hand side of my blog for a while.

Let’s change the mantra, then, from “remember who you are,” to “decide who you are.”

Decide to be the generous, change-making, scarifying, delighting, over-the-topping dreamer you’re capable of being.

-Seth Godin

Give it some thought....

What if you only had 10 pounds to lose? Would that change how you felt about losing weight?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Do Something Friday -- Go for Quality

There are certain quality merits to everything. What I think is top notch might not do the job for you and vice versa. For example: There are people out there that really enjoy the taste of the waxy chocolate of inexpensive Easter Bunnies. They seriously enjoy them -- not just endure them!

I, on the other hand, can safely and happily never eat a piece of that kind of bunny and still live a satisfied life. But...some of the wines I love make my wine snob friends, cringe. We all like different stuff.

Going for quality means your personal quality. I don't have a favorite potato chip -- when I am in the crunch and salt mood, almost any brand will make me happy. Not true for certain crackers. I don't care what you say, a Cheez Nip is in no way as good as Cheez-Its. I am not going to waste calories on a seriously inferior snack cracker!

If I am going to spend calories on ice cream, I want it to be great tasting full-fat ice cream. The creamy texture and richer flavor (that obviously is the result of a high fat content!)is what makes eating ice cream rewarding to me. Low-fat ice cream? Forget it -- I pass.

The point here is: calories are calories are calories. A person gains weight from eating too many calories -- not calories from a certain macronutrient.

What do you find rewarding about your favorite food? What is it about the taste, texture, temperature, smell that makes you willing to go to great lengths to get this food?

If you can answer this question about your favorite food, then start giving it some thought as you start to put the next food item in your mouth -- what will be rewarding about this eating experience? Just listen to the answer you give yourself -- you might be surprised at what you learn.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Head games and the Endless Search for the Wow

I was involved in a discussion with a very smart and funny lady who was going off about the different pieces of exercise equipment for sale on TV -- all of which are guaranteed to "change your life!" Really? As I drive around town close to junk pick up day, I am seeing a lot of these life changing pieces of equipment waiting to be picked up by the metal scrappers.

But we keep buying 'em. And they continue to disappoint.

One the other hand...

There is a group of people who are successful with the exercise program du jour. Those are the people who understand and harness the power of head games. For those few, a new piece of equipment represents a new challenge. They keep moving forward because they keep challenging themselves with learning a new skill and aren't disappointed when their new love turns to boredom -- not a good choice with people but fine for diet plans and exercise machines.

For those people, it is not the new "WOW" that holds their attention -- it's the challenge of mastering the new "WOW". Once they do, they lose interest and move on.

Mindfulness is like the category of exercise equipment. Each target of increased mindfulness (snacks in the break room, how to eat with your best friend, learning to slow your eating pace) can be a challenge to tackle, a new WOW. They don't all need to be done at once. That makes as much sense as buying a Bow Flex, a Tony Little Gazelle, the thigh master, an Ab Circle Pro,and a Total Gym all in the same credit card billing cycle.

One challenge at a time, deliberately made will get you farther than overwhelming yourself with all that WOW at once.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sound familiar?

"I know I ate the cookies -- but I didn't really taste them so I needed to eat some more."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


In a newsletter from the Chocolate Fairies talking about making a change:
"Make it small. Make it significant." and I will add -- Make it today.


Gretchen, at The Happiness Project, mentioned drift the other day. She describes it as "...the decision you make by not deciding..."

Isn't that how most of us get to the weight we are? We might be focused on a diet for a while but then life happens, other things take priority and, well, we drift. We drift mentally (thinking about higher priority things)and physically (our weight is drifting upwards). We don't mean for it to happen -- like much of life, it just does.

I was stopped in the hall at work today and asked for my opinion of the South Beach Diet. My response was " will definitely work. If you follow it, you will lose weight. But what will you learn from the diet that you will keep doing once you are done dieting? How will the diet change your behavior after the diet is done?"

We drift into diets all the time. New Year's Resolutions -- perfect example. We drift into the extra 3 bites of a dessert or entree that we don't really need. We drift into ordering a soda with our meal when water would have suited us just as well.

What do we do about drift? Pay attention. Make decisions. It's okay to tell yourself "Not right now" -- as in "I don't need any more dinner right now". Are you going to die from that? Probably not. It might make perfect sense right now -- but why doesn't that happen when you are at the dinner table? Because we drift!

But with a little bit of attention, maybe not tonight.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mindfulness is...

Deliberately paying attention, without judgment, to one's own experiences.

Mindful eating is like driving a car. As you drive, you are checking the speedometer (at least once in a while) -- sometimes without consciously having to remind yourself. When the speed creeps up, you slow the car just a little bit. If you notice that you are passing everyone on the road, you might check the speedo to see if they are really slow or you are going fast.

In most cases, this all happens without your inner Lizard kicking up telling you how bad of a person you are -- you just make adjustments to your speed and move on.

Eating can be the same way. Check your stomach gauge (rated on the hunger/fullness scale) once in a while as you eat. Sometimes the h/f gauge creeps up -- when that happens, you can make the minor adjustment to your eating right then. If you notice you plate is getting clean quicker than everyone elses -- you might decide to slow down a bit. No judgment. Small adjustments. No inner Lizard commenting on what this says about your success (or from Lizzie -- failure) as a person!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Do Something Friday

Posted on Seth Godin's website yesterday:

Anxiety is nothing...
but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.

and I agree!! What a waste!

How do different eating situations (times, restaurants, eating partners, etc.) make you feel? Today and this weekend, start to notice the anxious feeling in your life -- when do you feel them? What do you do about them?

Does eating cause them? Do you eat to dull them?

You don't have to do anything this weekend but notice. Don't change. Don't try to stop -- just become mindful of them and see what you can learn.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Changes You can Live With

Give it some thought -- how many changes do you really want to make in your life? How many people are in your life telling you to make some changes (besides yourself)?

Has your doctor given you this advice:
"Honey, you need to lose some weight."
"Ms. (or Mr.) X you need to reduce your stress levels."

"Eat healthier."
"Move more"
"Get more sleep"
"Work less" (from your kids)
"Work harder" (from your boss)
"Stand up straight" ... actually, to be honest, I really agree with this one and say it to my people 400 times a day.

But you get my point. There's a lot of change we are being pressured to make. A lot of people in our lives are telling us we need to do things differently.

And we change, to please them, to appease them so they just shut up.

But we have forgotten an important part of the change process.

1. Understand where you are
2. Decide where you want to go
3. Figure out the way to get there (and this is the REALLY important part) in a way that lets all the positive things you do with your life stay in their places.

We let changes overhaul our entire life structure -- and we can't sustain that much change. So we struggle for a while and eventually go back to our old habits (feeling like failures all the way) because we just took on too much all at once.

We are capable of making all those changes -- we just need to do it in a fashion that doesn't undo the rest of our delicately balanced lives.

My clients are all successful people. People successful in business, in health care, in finance. They make lots of decisions everyday for work, create career plans for others, manage to a bottom line. But they take a different approach with themselves. The same amount of professional growth time they give to an associate, they expect to conquer in half the time (or less), when they outline their expectations for their development of weight management skills. --They honestly believe they should know how to do this already, so they are already behind.

NOT SO! Our culture has spent your lifetime teaching you the skills you know to control your weight. Look around -- if you are struggling, so are a great many other people who learned the same lessons from the same culture. You can't redirect a whole life's worth of teaching in just a couple afternoons.

Make a couple changes you can easily live with. Let them become the new normal and then make some more. You will get there -- and just as important, You will be able to stay there!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Passive, Fixed or Canned Experience

I just read something that has inspired me more than I have been in a while! It was the transcript of a talk by Clay Shirky entitled Gin, Television, and Social Surplus (do you have any idea how much I love that quirky title??)

I won't lie to ya -- the post is long! But totally worth the read if you are into new media and what lies ahead.

The gist of the article is the author opinion that we (as a culture) are just now figuring out how to deal with our spare time. What spare time, you ask? The time that we spend watching TV. The author makes the case that coming out of WWII more people started into the work force (very true) and there started to be a greater dividing line between work and free-time -- but that we didn't know what to do with our "Cognitive Surplus". Today, people have more options than ever to participate in their free time.

I run a blog and talk to y'all. Some people create movies and post them on YouTube. Some people sell their crafts and art on the web. Some people keep track of their friends and family via Facebook. The point is -- we are moving into an age where people expect to be INCLUDED in the activities that matter to them.

Any time you can have 100+ channels on your cable box and still think there isn't anything on -- we can see our expectations for how we spend our free time have changed.

But maybe it is more than just our free time expectations that have changed. We expect to have a say in our medical care -- working with our doctors to make decisions for our health -- not being told or just accepting what the first doc to come along says is Gospel.

The ability to custom design our Nike running shoes in colors and styles that suit our particulars doesn't suprise us anymore. The fact we can create them and have them on our feet in less than two weeks may be exciting but doesn't really surprise us any more -- it is what we expect.

So ... what about the diet experiences? Do you want a one size fits all diet??? Do you want your weight management experience to be run by others with no consideration that you are different than every other woman or man participating in the same program? OR....

Is that the only way you have been taught to think about weight management? Looking to "experts" to "fix" you?

My supposition is that the latter is more the case. My hope is we are starting to see that no one knows you better than you. And that you want more out of your life than being told how to live it so you will be "fixed".

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keep it Up!

Sometimes life can feel like is it conspiring against your best efforts to help yourself. You know how that goes, every time you are all set to cook at home, your meetings run late and you end up grabbing a bite at some fast food place because now your schedule is all behind.

And then there are those times where the loved ones in your life don't seem to be supporting you in your effort to manage your weight. That hurts! You know that they don't really mean to do it, but still -- can't they see how hard you are working to make these changes???

This is the time that I see many of my clients flounder. Not getting the support you feel you should from those who love you best can throw off your internal compass.

Don't let it.

Yes, I know it is hard. But keep in mind that nobody cares about your experience in this world as much as you do. That's not to say they don't care at all -- You know they do and they care a lot! Just not as much as you because they don't live in your body 24/7.

So don't let your perception of their lack of support cause you to get off track. You can do it -- and you are the ONLY person that can do it for you!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lizards, Lizards Everywhere

As sometimes happens when you are working on noticing things, I got up Saturday morning, opened my fridge, and thought of y'all. I have been giving some brain space to the Inner Lizard (but not particularly on Saturday morning) when I opened the fridge to get milk for my coffee (so you KNOW I wasn't fully awake OR functioning at my peak) and the picture on the left is what I saw.

Now -- lest you think someone was playing a crazy prank on me ... let me properly introduce you to my Fridge Lizard. A few years ago (and by a few I might mean closer to 10), I bought a BRAND NEW refrigerator. Some weeks later, my whole family was over for a birthday party and my sister brought the fridge lizard as a gift. (I don't really know why a lizard -- who can really fathom the thought processes of that dear brain) -- Anyway, after showing him to me -- she put him in the fridge and that was that. He has been in my fridge every since. Even when I moved, he moved too (traded in the white and up to stainless!)

I see him everyday. He is always in there. The kids don't bother him or take him out or play with him or hide him anywhere in or out of the fridge. When I notice him, he makes me think of my sister and that makes me smile. But I don't always notice him -- he has just been waiting there ready to be notice when I have taken the time to learn something that makes me look at him in a different light --like Saturday morning.

Now, that's one lizard but....then....I went into my closet while I was waiting for the coffee maker to do its magic and what else did I find??? My fav hat was sitting on the shelves -- just where I left it -- to be put on at a moments notice to cover really bad hair when I take the kids to the bus stop in the morning. I love this hat! It is my almost constant summer companion.

After noticing the fridge lizard and thinking how ironic it is that I have one (considering the posts I have been writing), the hat was another little revelation. I am surrounded by lizards. And I was so much quicker to pick up on the second one once I had made the connection of the first. I wasn't trying to think about them -- I wasn't writing a post in my head (like I sometimes do). The first one was just there and the second one recognized even quicker.

Keep your mind open and sometimes things that have been sitting right in front of you jump into clarity when you aren't even looking for them. Sometimes you need to learn a new way of thinking about something and then the next step seems obvious.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Practice makes Perfect (well...maybe not perfect)

I just started reading "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. The book is a fun journey through the process of what makes some of us great and others...well...maybe just "not as accomplished".

The premise of the book takes a look at "natural talent" and investigates how much that contributes to success (and whether or not there are other factors at play here that can be understood and tapped into by those of us who haven't ever been labeled "gifted" in some particular direction.

The good news is, what brilliant people have in common is situations that made it possible for them to practice their craft (whether hockey players, musicians, computer geniuses) the 10,000 hours it takes to achieve mastery of the task.

Think about that -- the only thing that stands between me and mastery of ski jumping (other than 2 uninjured knees and a dreadful fear of heights) is 10,000 hours of intense practice!!

Based on this, my thinking has bent to those people (usually wives) who are in my office talking about how this person in their lives (usually the husband but sometimes a friend) seems to eat and never worry about what he/she is eating. Never getting stressed about food choices or weight or any of the other issues that so often torque clients out of shape.

What if that seemingly "natrually-gifted" eater just has gotten enough time (due to how they were raised or some other situation in their life) to PRACTICE the SKILL of mindful eating (noting how physically hungry they are and eating accordingly/understanding that there will be other opportunities to eat this particular food so there is no reason to over eat right now/ etc.)???

What if they aren't just born that way but have worked on it long enough that it is just the most natural feeling way to be??

That would mean there is hope for all the other "non-naturally-gifted" eaters of the world!!

They just need to put in their time practicing. And much like you wouldn't expect to downhill ski a Black Diamond on your first (or 100th) time, you don't need to beat yourself up when your mindful eating practice goes awry. You can just pick yourself up, dust the crumbs off your pants, and get back to practicing. No guilt. No shame. And understanding that you are working on mastery of the eating practice.

But you need to practice. Fortunately, you can start today! Do something Friday!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Harnessing the Power of the Lizard

I have been giving this some thought. Per the request of a reader (I love requests by the way!), I have been doing some research on the Lizard, as in Inner Lizard or the Lizard Brain. Here is what I have learned:

First of all, the Lizard Brain, phyisologically speaking, is one of the oldest part of the brain from an evolutionary stand point. Its job are to keep us living -- its is the non-verbal part of our brain that runs on instinct and ritual. It catalogs our behaviors and their repercussions -- which ones worked (pleasurable)and which ones didn't (those that caused us pain or discomfort). It sees things in black and white -- there is no gray matter here.

This is the place that we act on emotional memories. This is the part of the brain that looks for patterns that concern our survival. forward to the other day, when I was talking about the Inner Lizard. If you google the term, Seth Godin (who we all know I love!!) has put out a business book that talks a lot about overcoming the resistance of the Lizard. His contention is that the Lizard needs to be quieted. The Lizard is the one keeping us in our "safe" (read: known) bubble. We may not like where we are but we understand it -- it is status quo, we haven't died from it yet so it must be safe (because we aren't dead).

Because of what the Lizard is, it always looks backwards. It can't plan ahead. There are no known patterns of your future -- only your past has been proven out -- this is the knowledge base of the Lizard.

It is the Lizard that tells you your plan is doomed to fail. "You haven't lost the weight yet, why would it be different this time." Maybe you have lost the weight but it is starting to creep back on -- "Yup",your Lizard says, "of course it is. This is what happened last time, and the time before that, or the time before that..."

So what should we do with the Lizard? Duck tape his mouth shut? Put him in a coffee can? Tie him to a chair and threaten him with immediate demise should he open his mouth? Or (most terribly) live in fear of every time he opens his mouth?

I don't know what your Big Universal Truth (BUT) is but here is mine. Everything happens for a reason (I do not expect to know what that reason is most of the time). I believe in Synchronicity (the concept not the song by the Police). And I believe our bodies give us a ton of information about our internal and external environments that we can chose to listen to -- or not.

Based on my BUT, I am going to take a leap and come down on the side of making friends with the Lizard and seeing if we can harness his energy to help us get to where we want to go.

How's that work? Well, let's go back and look at what Lizzie does.

1. Runs on instinct and ritual
2. Sees things in black and white
3. Looks for and stores patterns in our past
4. He is loud and persistent

What if we started listening to Lizzie and understanding that (much like an overprotective mother)she just wants to keep us safe -- to have us not put ourselves at excessive risk. However, safe now is different than safe when mother-Lizzie grew up. There are no tigers at the ends of our driveways. We don't experience food shortages now like she did in her day -- there is no reason for us to gobble up our dinner or stuff ourselves. There will be more food available tomorrow. And just because we haven't been end-all, be-all successful yet in the weight loss department doesn't mean we will repeat our past ad infinitum (like mother-Lizzie keeps telling us).

And because the world is all about push and pull -- you can't have mother-Lizzie without having the recalcitrant teenager rebelling against everything she says. This is the part of you driven to eat the whole cake because Lizzie is encouraging it (you're sad you know -- the cake will help). The part of you that acts out by putting yourself on a very strict diet just to prove mother-Lizzie wrong.

When do parents start having a better relationship with their children? In my experience, it is when the child realized the parent does know some things and should be listened to because they can provide valuable insights and when the parent realized the child needs to make her own decisions about the life she wants to live.

The same with mother-Lizzie. She makes good sense when she pipes up that the guy in the elevator seems too creepy to ride with. But her alarmist stance about food shortages (you'd better eat that last few bites...who knows when you will get the opportunity to eat this again!) isn't serving you well.

Don't fight Lizzie. Learn to understand what she is telling about food -- BUT then take the extra step of evaluating her thoughts to see if they hold true in your day and age.

And remember -- ultimately YOU write your own future -- one decision at a time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don't try...Do

The Black Hole of Trying - Proposal #1
Stop trying!

I’m serious. Right now. Trying is getting you nowhere.

Every attempt is a failure, because trying never leads to completion. Only doing creates accomplishment. If we want to change ourselves, our work, or the world we live in, we must focus on doing rather than trying.

The only thing that keeps us from doing is our fear that we will fail. We surround this fear with all manner of stories: nobody will like us, we will be laughed at, it’ll never work anyway, so why bother? The list of excuses is long. When we dig past all of these fictions, what it boils down to is this: if we do, we might fail. So instead we try.

So... how do ya like them apples???

Doing puts a lot of pressure on us!! But, maybe that pressure is good. Maybe that pressure will push us to do difficult things -- and succeed. Doing will definitely make us start and if we fail, start again.

The art of trying involved lots of prep. Getting the right food, equipment, plan, support group, the right outfit, books, picking the perfect time to start... and the list goes on and on. It requires the perfect alignment of the planets to try....and then keep trying...

Now -- those of you who know me, know I am a planner. The plan doesn't always need to go the direction I have planned out (I can revise on the fly) but I do like a plan. But, I have read a couple things lately that have talked about the need to just JUMP IN! Start doing! Right now. Doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to start.

This has been a hard couple months of practice for me. To start doing really means committing -- lots of messiness of half finished projects. Stuff that doesn't look perfect -- which means that I am not perfect (GASP! The secret is out!!)

Take, for example, this blog. This is a pet project of mine. I love working with people to show them they have options. I love to be able to connect people with ideas that assist them in getting to where they want to go. But, man! Putting those ideas down in written word -- so the whole world (almost literally) has access to data that shows I am a terrible speller, that sometimes I get on a jag and lose my train of thought, that sometimes I will be firmly committed to an idea and then something will come along to get me to change my mind (oiy! the shame in seeming weak minded!)

But the blog was necessary. I can't convey what Eating Coach really is unless you understand it from your perspective. EC is not a program for you until you put in your two cents. To educate you about mindful eating (so you could form your own opinion) I had to start communication with you -- every day -- so you could hear my words (the good, the bad, and the ugly). I had to run the risk of failing (no body reading the blog or maybe worse yet people reading and thinking I am stupid).

As it has turned out, the blog has been a good thing and there have been days that I have posted a terribly written post and someone still lets me know they have connected with it.

If I wait for the perfect post to come to me -- you all would be down to one a year (if that many). If you wait until for perfect conditions to start eating mindfully(the right amount of brain space, the lull between New Years and Summer vacation, the deadline for your 20,30, or 40th class reunion) you will never do -- you will just continue to try.

And although trying feels much safer (because you can always tell people "I am trying!") you never get to the completion because you are not doing.

Your doing doesn't have to be pretty -- I am playing golf and I will tell you, the rounds have not been pretty. But I am playing and learning golf -- not trying to learn golf. I at working as an Eating Coach and sometimes I am so spot on with the Universe that everything seems to flow. And other times, a session will be ugly start to finish. But, honestly, there is value in all the doing. From each session I rehash in my head to figure out why I wasn't able to help the client as smoothly as I would like -- I find new words to use/ a new metaphor (like the inner lizard or the lizard brain) that the client connects with.

Your mindful eating is the same way. It is not the end-all, be-all of the Universe. It is another way you can starting doing. Another direction to head. Another journey you can start right now -- this minute. Just by asking, "Am I hungry right now?" or "What do I really want to eat for lunch today?" or "Oh my gosh! I see the donut being brought to my mouth by a hand that looks remarkably like mine -- do I really want a bite of this? Do I want to eat the whole thing? Should I just wrap it in a napkin right now and throw it in the trash?"

Do today.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Healthy versus unhealthy

Take a look at these two lists:

List A
Salad (3/4 cup with one tbs. ranch dressing -- lettuce, carrot, and tomato)
Apple (2)
Black beans ( 1 cup canned)
Banana (two small)
Lowfat yogurt ( 1 cup vanilla)
Fish (8.5 oz grilled ocean cod)
Orange juice (Tropican 16 oz.)
Baked chicken ( 7 oz. breast)

List B
Hershey's kisses (4 pieces)
Ice cream (2/3 cup Breyer's vanilla)
Soda (16 oz. cola; non-diet)
French fries (McDonald's small fry)
Cookies (4 Oreo)
Potato chips (1/2 oz Ruffles BBQ)
Pizza (Pizza Hut - one slice medium cheese with thing crust)
Hamburger (McDonald's regular hamburger)

Okay -- what opinions have you already formed about these lists? Have you already rated them in the "Healthy" and "Unhealthy" categories?

So...which one is which?

Which one looks more like the food you eat in a day?

Which one would make you gain weight quicker?

Okay -- you have answered all these questions right? Seriously. Take a look at the list -- when I did, I divided it up into the likelihood I could get a full days worth of meals out of each of them. Which one would be more satisfying to eat? Which one (if you weren't so conscientious about setting aside judgment) would make you feel the most guilty for eating?

These were some of the questions researchers asked study participants when showing them these food lists. The answers I would expect to hear from you are pretty straight forward -- just reflexively, most of us have been trained to see list A as a better choice. A healthier choice.

But here is the kicker:

List A's calorie content 1600 cal.
List B's calorie content 1669 cal.

List A and B are separated by 69 cal!!!

I have given it a decent amount of thought since I came across this study and I think I would be hard pressed to eat all of the food in List B. There is enough fat in that list to provide some satiety for a while. It doesn't appear that List A would do that for me for a whole day -- there just doesn't look like that much satisfying food.

What are you using your food for? If it is weight loss, each of these lists are (nearly -- separated by 69 calories) as "Healthy" of a choice. And one definitely NOT make you feel like you are on a diet!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Just read another manifesto from Seth Godin...

It is called Brainwashed. He goes off on a number of things, so if you are interested in a good rant today, click on over :)

The point I want to make is to highlight his steps for reinventing oneself:

Here are seven levers available for anyone (like you) in search of reinvention:
1. Connect
2. Be generous
3. Make art
4. Acknowledge the lizard
5. Ship
6. Fail
7. Learn

Some of them are pretty straight forward. Connect -- as in with people but also with yourself.

Be generous. It is very difficult to be generous and judgmental at the same time.

Make art -- you should read his definition -- for me to get it right would mean pirating his whole page -- in essence, what you are creating within yourself as you become more mindful -- that is the art I am talking about. Something unique and all your own.

Acknowledge the lizard -- as in the lizard brain. We all deal with fear every day. How we handle that fear makes all the difference -- do you know what you are afraid of???

Ship -- this is the one he gets me with all the time. Shipping is making something happen. Turning out a product -- everyday. (You are the product we are talking about here)

Fail -- it is going to happen -- you will not perform some days like you think you should. If you are not failing, you are living in the very center of your comfort zone and there is very little personal growth happening. Don't be afraid to fail.

Learn -- about yourself, about then environment that effects you, about the people around you. Make a point to learn something everyday. In almost every session with a client, I ask them what they have learned about themselves this week. In every journal entry there is a spot to write down what you have learned about yourself today. Give it some thought -- what are you going to learn today?

All 7 don't need to be done in one day -- just give it some thought and see if any of them apply to you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Do something Friday

Education versus Training

Education imparts information and knowledge and affects what goes on in the mind.

Training imparts technique and skill, and impacts behaviour more directly.

So...I just checked -- this will make my 192nd post on this site!! And as I think about it, most of the posts have been oriented toward education. I want you to think about what you are doing. I want you to understand why you are behaving in the manner you do. That is education -- trying to raise your awareness of an action you do every day.

Do something Fridays have been my opportunity to get you working on the training aspect of this. To change your mindsets about how you approach eating is important but if you don't change your actions, you won't see the results you hope for.

Because I understand the power of group training and social support in the behavior change process, I have been kicking around the idea of putting together an eating experience for anyone who is interested.

How would you feel about taking an hour and half and spending the time with me and a couple of other mindful-eaters-in-training to share a Mindful Meal?

We will meet in a local restaurant (one close to or on Westnedge) and start from the beginning.

How to approach the menu
What you are really sorting through as you read the specials.
How to tune in as the food is delivered
Focusing on what the first four bites really taste like (and being able to verbalize it)
Looking for the different hunger/fullness sensations and how to relate them to the H/F scale
Finding that place to stop eating before you are stuffed

Sounds like a lot to do in just 90 minutes but I think we can manage it!

If you are willing to give this a try, provide me with the opportunity to practice this technique (my family can only take so much of this kind of thing :) ,and if you are willing to think about writing a review about your experience, I would like to do this program no-charge. If it is well-received and there is a benefit for the clients, I will do it again in the future for a fee but for right now, how about we work together to take it for a test drive?

So...If you are interested, I am looking at Tuesday March 23 at 6pm on Westnedge. I want to keep the group small so everyone has a chance to talk and feel comfortable. The other thing to consider is coming in pairs -- it is always easier to implement change if you have a partner (someone that you eat with often so you can practice Mindful Meal techniques together).

Send me an email to reserve your spot.

If you are signing up someone else, please send me their email address as well so we can all connect.

Hope to hear from you soon! and have a lovely weekend!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Picking the correct food for the job

How well do you pick the correct food for the job? Have you ever given it any thought?

When I was in college (the first time -- a long time ago when I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up) I took a nutrition class. Along with my rudderless self, most of the rest of the class was composed of people looking to become dietitians when they grew up. One of the questions that was posed by the instructor was "What nutrition advise would you give a homeless person who told you he mostly eats hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches?"

Okay -- seriously? Is nutritional advice our first line of help for a homeless person?

But back to the story -- biting back my above retort, I listened to a future Dietitian tell the class that she would advise the homeless client to reduce his intake of hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches because both are very high in fat. (Seriously -- this person has more to worry about than eating a diet too high in fat!!) The job of food, in this case, would be to keep the man alive so that, hopefully, he has the energy to take care of himself in other ways (like finding shelter).

There was a study conducted by Paul Rozin where he showed a picture of a chocolate cake to groups of French people and American people and asked them to say the first word that popped into their minds.

The Americans top response was: Guilt
The French top response was: Celebration

Rozin also did a study that asked people "Assume you are alone on a desert island for one year and you can have water and one other food. Pick the food that you think would be best for your health."

Your choices are:
alfalfa sprouts
hot dogs
or milk chocolate

So...which one would YOU choose?

The most popular choice was bananas (42%)
spinach (27%)
corn (12%)
alfalfa sprouts (7%)
peaches (5%)
hot dogs (4%)
milk chocolate (3%)

But here's the deal -- what is the purpose of this food choice? To keep you "healthy"? Nope. This foods job would be to keep you alive. meet that purpose, the right choice for survival is Hot Dogs or Milk Chocolate.

So give some thought to the purpose you are trying to fulfill next time you eat. If you are physically hungry -- the purpose is to get rid of the hunger. So the goal would be to pick something that would get rid of your hunger.

But...if you are in need of comfort food (it is cold and gray outside, you have had a really bad week, and you are feeling a cold coming on) that might require a much different kind of food. Maybe something warm, thick and hearty. Now would not be the time for me to put together a garden salad for myself and expect it would satisfy me. I might eat the salad but I would be on to something else (something warm, thick and hearty) and the salad calories would be those 9 bites I should have left uneaten.

The right food for the job matters but if you don't know what you are trying to accomplish, how are you going to choose the right food to fit the job?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's not just me saying this....

Here is the same idea in other words. The sentence I like best is:

"love yourself for who you are, not necessarily how you look,"

"Healthy Options"

It is no wonder we are struggling with our weight. I just read that half of an Americans food dollars are spent on food prepared outside the home. Nothing wrong with that -- I love eating out. But...when we have been taught that we should "Eat Healthy" and that is the only skill we have when eating out -- things get a little more tricky.

That for example the Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad -- I was actually surprised the regular size portion only has 709 calories in it -- not bad but if you are working off the idea that you are getting a salad so you are being health conscious maybe this isn't the salad for you.

Or what about the Panera Full Sierra Turkey on Focaccia with Asiago Cheese (at 970 cals) or the Full Salmon Club Croissant (at 770 cals). Turkey? Salmon? We "know" these are "good" choices for us!! There is nothing wrong with these foods -- the portions are just way too big!! But if our main tool to evaluate our choices is "healthy options" we are going to be lead astray.

Getting back to hunger and fullness. Have you ever eaten one of these items? They are BIG! If is finished one, I would be STUFFED -- a total 10 on the H/F scale. But the idea is that it is easy to order just one -- it takes more work to order a half of a one (mostly because we tend to be worried about being hungry when we finish with the half -- so we order the whole -- promising ourselves we are not going to eat the other half -- and then poof! the whole thing is gone without us even realizing it).

The more you develop your skill of listening to your body and registering your sensations of hunger and fullness, the less you will have to rely on your skills of making "healthy" choices. So if the Panera French Onion soup sounds GREAT, you won't have to tell yourself "no, it is not a healthy choice" -- you can tell yourself "yes" and just eat until it no longer tastes fantastic (then take the rest home).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

For those of you still clinging to the hope that a diet will save you...

Please do me a favor and pick up a copy of the book In Defense of Food. I will confess that I am only 50 pages into the book, however, I have learned a ton about the U.S. culture of being concerned with nutrients and health, as opposed to taste, dining, the experience of food.

The author makes the distinction between real food and imitation food (margarine, Cheez Wiz, low-fat snack cakes that actually have a shelf-life longer than the warranty on my car. How certain macronutrients have been vilifies (protein by Dr. Kellogg of corn flake fame, fat as the scapegoat for heart disease and cancer even though there was good science to prove other wise).

The author puts forth the position -- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

What if you adopted this as your guiding principle? You wouldn't have to worry about what you were eating because there isn't a magic formula. You don't need to try to get the balance right because balance is inherently right. These are common sense thoughts -- not too much food -- make sure it is really food (at least most of the time). Eat a lot of plants.

If this was your criteria for eating, how would it change how you shopped at the grocery store? You would spend more time in the produce aisle. You might spend more time preparing your foods at home -- but honestly, it might be more energy preparing dinner but I bet it wouldn't be more time that it takes to run through the drive thru to pick up dinner and bring it home.

The author's principles would change how you looked at a menu at a restaurant. Gone would be the thought that this has too much fat and you just shouldn't have that. If you are eating 600 calories of something -- it is 600 calories and it doesn't matter where the calories come from.

I believe that your acheiving a healthy weight comes down to learning to enjoy your food more and eat less of it. No magic bean. No magic fat burning food combinations. As a nation, we eat too much. We don't eat what would really make our hearts sing, is fabulous. Go for fabulous, my friends. Open the menu and experience the pleasure of looking it over to see what looks the most delicious. Having high fat food won't kill you (otherwise there would be no one left in France) -- you just need to enjoy it more and eat less of it.

We have tried to eat less in the past -- maybe you should consider trying the "Eat only what is Fabulous" diet. If it doesn't look/taste/smell fabulous, don't eat it -- save those calories for something that is fabulous. Eat and enjoy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

How do you want to feel?

When you get up from the table, what sensations do you want to feel? Can you put it into words?

It took me a while to develop a vocabulary to talk about my hunger/fullness sensations -- so if you don't have a good vocabulary quite yet, don't worry -- just give it some thought.

To get you started, I will describe my experiences. When I get up from the table, I want to feel light. I want to feel satisfied with the taste of my food (I have had enough flavor) but do not want to feel more than just the beginning sensations of anything sitting in my stomach.

I do not like the feeling of being full. I do not like feeling the waist of my pants tight (although with the style of pants right now -- they don't really have waists that get tight -- but I don't like that feeling of my stomach being physically bigger than I am used to). I do not like the sensation of feeling tired after I eat (happens because when a person has a lot of food needing to be digested, the blood flow gets diverted to the stomach and intestines to supply the working muscles and pick up the nutrients from digestion).

I like the feeling of know I could eat more but am choosing not to. I feel successful when I know I made a choice that fit me and I was listening to my body.

I ate a terrific meal yesterday. Food was fabulous. Company was lively and fun. Service was marvelous. I got to eat a wonderful salad and then a perfectly prepared entree. I enjoyed every bite. I have everything positive to say about the whole experience.

What I can tell you for sure is that I wouldn't have such a glowing memory of lunch yesterday had I eaten more than I did. Even though the food was delicious, had I eaten more than I did, I wouldn't have felt successful in my eating and that would have colored the whole experience in a less positive light.

So here is the thought I have for you today -- enjoy everything and leave wanting more (more of the taste of the food, more of the company, more of the whole experience) knowing that you can have it again -- you don't have to get it all right now. If you can do that (pace your eating) you will feel more positive about the whole experience. As that happens, it will motivate you to eat less and enjoy what you do eat more. Positive experience begetting positive experience. And soon, it will be second nature to eat less and enjoy more. Now there is a habit worth pursuing.