Friday, July 30, 2010

Do something Friday

Are you measuring your success with mindfulness in terms of how much weight you lose?

I know this might seem like an appropriate measure of success -- after all, weight loss is your stated goal, right?  But consider this:

You could eat nothing -- not a bite-- one whole day and you would lose some weight but would it be enough to make up for the discomfort you felt not eating?  You might get on the scale the morning after not eating and say "That's it? That's all I lost??"

The same is true for exercise -- you could workout like a crazy person for a whole day and get on the scale and think that it wasn't worth it because you only lost a pound (or maybe not any at all).

If you're working on developing mindfulness to manage your weight, measure your success on whether or not you were mindful.  If you were mindful at a meal or snack then you have succeeded.  If you zoned out and ended up eating too much, you have some room for improvement.

Weight loss is the byproduct of mindfulness -- with a greater understanding of how hungry or full you are feeling, you make adjustments to the amount you eat.  As you make these adjustments, you start noticing how much better you are feeling -- more energetic, less sluggish, less guilty and obsessed about food, etc.  These are the feelings that spur clients on to success -- they want to feel better.  If they're feeling more energetic and less food obsessed, the weight comes off without all the drama and self punishment.  And isn't that what you're really looking for?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Iceberg Illusion

One thing that drives me CRAZY is when people routinely dismiss a "healthy weight" person as being lucky or having "good genes" or a high metabolism.

When you write off that person as having some innate skill that you do not posses, you deny the power they have over their choices and you deny the same power within you.

When you look at them, what you see is the results of how they live their life in that particular moment ( the case of spouses or friends, you probably see a lot of small snapshots of how they live their lives).  You see the tip of the iceberg, if you will. 

What you don't see is the thousand little decisions (under the surface) that they make each week (parking a little further out in the lot consistently, taking the stairs more often, going for a walk once in a while after dinner, using a smaller serving spoon when they plate their food at home).

You can make those choices too.  If you make them often enough, they become how you live your life -- and then you are the person others dismiss as "lucky".

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How does it make you feel?

Ever gotten a brain freeze from eating something cold too fast?  (I have)  Ever eaten so many M&M's that you feel sick because you had too much sugar in too short of a time? (Yup)  Ever craved a salad? Or meatloaf or pasta or asparagus?

Have you ever taken time to ask yourself how the food you have just eaten makes you feel?

Have you ever left a table feeling sick, sluggish, weighted down and slow?  You body isn't designed to feel that way.  That is not how you live optimally.

I had a woman tell me she and her kids had been celebrating a life event and eating fun food for awhile when her kids asked her to cook pot roast with potatoes.  Why?  Because if we pay attention, even the most hard-core sugar lovers or fun food lovers will start to crave nutritious foods.

The caveat??? 

You have to be willing to listen to your body -- not just run on autopilot.  That's why most kids (if we parents haven't wrecked their eating behaviors yet) might eat fun stuff for a while but will eventually ask for fruit or veggies or meat -- something with more vitamins and minerals that the average hot dog.  -- they are more in tune with what their body is telling them -- AND they are willing to act on it.

Yours will let you know what it needs by how you feel after you've eaten it ..... but only if you take the time to listen.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Still think mindful eating is something you have to have an inborn skill to do?

The Talent Myth.  Have you noticed how many books have recently debuted on this subject?

Science is now saying that talent will get you only so far -- what separates the good from the great is practice.

In his autobiography, Open, Andre Agassi wrote:  "My father says that if I hit 2,500 balls each day, I'll hit 17,500 balls each week, and at that end of one year I'll have hit nearly one million balls.  He believes in math.  Numbers, he says, don't lie.  A child who hits one million balls each year will be unbeatable."  And I guess he would know.

What about an adult who makes 200+ positive food decisions each day?  In a week that would be 1400+ positive food decisions.  And what if you added a few extra here and there because (as you practice) it gets easier to remember to stop a couple bites sooner, to really enjoy the first 4 bites of your dessert (so you don't need the last 12), and to chose water instead of the reflexive soda order when you eat out ( ...not always just more often...).  Wouldn't all that practice add up pretty quick?  What if you start right now?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Food as a Distraction

Have you ever felt that you are eating to take your mind off something else?  We can sometimes see it in others easier than we can see it in ourselves.  Last night, I was watching Ugly Betty.  She had a really, really bad day (in the uber-dramatic Ugly Betty way).  To cope, she focused on getting an ice cream sundae.

Now, I understand how comfort eating works.  And I can even endorse comfort eating.  What I don't endorse is having a person not realize that they are eating for comfort.  When a person confuses satisfying an emotional need (comfort eating) with satisfying a physical need (eating due to physical hunger) -- I see that as an opportunity for growth in self knowledge.

A sundae doesn't fix a bad day.  It might make the time you are eating it more enjoyable -- but it won't change what happened.  And nobody is overweight because of one emotional eating episode -- it is when you use food like a drug to distract you from what is really going on in your life -- that is when things become problematic.

So...the next time you feel the need to soothe yourself with food, ask yourself, "Am I expecting this food to distance me from my bad day? " and "Is it worth it to use food just like a drug?"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Filtering out Temptation

I just read and interesting post from Future Now entitled Filtering out Temptation. The premise of the post was the idea of using Augmented Reality to change the temptation in your life (the dessert in your fridge, the cigarettes at the gas station) visually into something else so we are not tempted to engage in those behaviors.

Interesting. Kind of cool. --and scary all at once.

But also -- not a new concept. As Jillian rips through the kitchens of her clients and dumps all the "bad" food into the garbage, she is working on filtering out temptation. When I encourage you to plate your food in the kitchen -- it is to filter out the temptation of picking at the food left on the table when you are actually full.

We don't need technology to do this for us. We are fully capable of changing our environments to support the healthy changes we are trying to make.

My fundamental problem with an artificial solution (like Jillian cleaning out your cupboards) is that you are not choosing to do this for yourself (you know just as much as she does that having 4 bags of different kinds of chips in your house is not a good choice if you like chips!). When Jillian goes home and you go shopping, 9 times out of 10 the chips are back in your basket -- because you haven't changed your habits -- someone else imposed their behaviors on you.

You need to do the work if you want to results -- THAT is reality -- and it doesn't need to be augmented..

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Your Super-Fan
I just read an blog post on how to create a popular blog.  The short answer is write the kind of blog that makes you popular.  Hmmmm, clear as mud, right?  The author talks about which attributes make certain people popular (blogs not withstanding) and the attribute that struck me most was:

People who are popular converse with others -- they don't preach at others. 

Now you might be thinking I am getting ready to launch into a dissection of this blog but...that isn't where I'm headed today.  I'd like to get back to the preachy part.

How much time each day do you spend preachin' at yourself about food, your weight, how much you aren't exercising but should be ???

I know when I get on a jag with myself, it doesn't make me feel better -- it actually makes me feel more hopeless about whatever the situation is.  If the preachy voice inside your head was another person, would you choose to spend your precious time with them?  Or would they be someone you dread seeing -- always sniping about your outfit, you food choices, and your under-used gym membership?

How would your life change if you jettisoned the dead weight of your nagging Lizard and activity started giving yourself compliments, kudos, and the occasional pep-talk for your eating choices?  What if you changed the Lizard voice into your own personal Super-Fan?  Would you be more likely to make more positive choices for yourself if you had a cheering section urging you on?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't keep looking over your shoulder....'ll trip over what's under your feet right now.

Mindfulness is being involved in what is going on right now.  If you are mindfully reading this post -- you are reading this post.  You are not reading this post and comparing what it is saying to the behaviors you took part in during breakfast.

If you stress about breakfast at lunch, you will not be focusing on making positive lunch choices.

Understand where you are right now.  Don't worry about the choices you have already made today -- you can't change those.  Conserve your energy and put it to use making your next eating choice be a positive one!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What's up?

What's the first thing you think of when someone asks you this question? Are you looking for the positives in your life? If I asked you "What's up?" with your eating this weekend, could you come up with 6 decisions you made that you could feel good about?

If you've never done it before, I bet it would be a challenge (I have asked to clients multiple times-- at first they struggle to find something they can feel positive about). With practice, people get good at seeing the positive choices they are making. Notice what you are doing well and you can inspire yourself to do more of that.

We average 150 food related decisions per day -- surely there were more than 6 last weekend that were great. The question is, Can you name them???  (Seriously, take the time...right now...come up with as many as you can and comment them back to me!)

Monday, July 19, 2010


I just read Chris Brogan's post.  He is talking about the power of questions.  His focus is more on the outward but the same power lies in questions posed to yourself.

Before you take the first bite of food, ask yourself if you are really hungry.  You might be surprised at what you start learning.  For many of us, we run on autopilot.  We eat breakfast because "it's the most important meal of the day".  We eat lunch because the clock tells us it is noon -- and that's what we do at noon, right?  We eat a "balanced" dinner (meat, starch, veggies) or at least we think we should and feel guilty when we don't because that is what healthy people do -- and who doesn't want to be healthy?

Between all those times, we snack.  We know we "shouldn't" or we think it's okay because it is "just" the baggie of carrots and celery (that we don't really want but it gives us something to do).

If you start to question yourself about being hungry -- you might learn that you are just bored and looking for some entertainment.  Or, you might realize that you aren't hungry but often grab something to eat at that time of day (habit).  Or, you might realize what you are putting into your mouth is only a substitute for the food you are really hungry for but are denying yourself because it is "too" whatever (high-fat, high-carb, not healthy, etc.).

The power of questions lie in becoming more aware of what you're doing.  And then knowing you have options about how you want to proceed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Do something Friday

In the last couple days, I have talked with a number of clients about the Eating Scale.  It seems to me, when as a person moves away from their ME training, their use of the scale drops off -- It is worth taking some time right now (and this weekend) to think about your use of the scale.

The reason Mindful Eating is different than a diet is that ME facilitates your eating the amount that is appropriate for you each day.  If you were highly active yesterday, you will feel more physical hunger today.  And conversely, if you laid on the beach all yesterday and only moved when you needed to roll over, you will be less hungry today because your energy expenditure yesterday was less.  If you are eating strictly from a "diet" plan -- there is no way to take into account these day to day changes.

Likewise, if you are working out several days a week and maintaining your weight but then life happens and you can't get to the gym, your weight may creep up because you have no frame of reference to change your eating habits because you are used to eating an amount appropriate for you when you work out.

One thing for sure:  Life will happen.  Even the most  dedicated exerciser will have something happen (kid stuff, vacation, illness, injury....) that will sideline them from their weight management technique of exercise.

If you have a second technique of being well versed in the Eating Scale -- you don't need to worry about your weight creeping up during those times life has you running.

If your activity level is down for a couple days (you've spent several afternoons sitting on the bleachers at Little League All Stars and sure you clapped and cheered but that was the greatest extent of your activity for the day), you may notice that it takes much more time to get to a level 3 than normal -- so you don't eat as much and are matching your caloric needs to your body's activity level.

And on the other end, if you realise that you are eating the same amount of food that you always do but are getting to a level 9 or 10 instead of your usual 8, you have the opportunity to cut back on your portion size to match your activity level.  Calorie balance restored -- voila!

The point is -- we all have limited time and there is no getting around that!  Sometimes increasing your calorie expenditure through movement is not an option.  Your weight does not have to suffer during those time if you have a good practice of using the Eating Scale to help you determine what your body is trying to tell you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here's something I don't do well...

I don't fail well.  I don't like to fail (does anybody??).  I don't like to acknowledge failure to myself.  I am not comfortable with it.

I have friends that can say they have failed -- it doesn't mean they are done -- it means what they have tried hasn't worked yet.  I can live with "just haven't been successful yet"  but the word failure gets to me.  And it shouldn't, right?  Aren't I the one who's always preaching "no judgment"?  Yeah, so I need to accept I am a work in progress too.

Leo at Zen Habits said something interesting today.  The subject of his post was change and how we seem to love it and hate it all at the same time.  He did a wonderful job of listing some of the transitions he has made in the last year and some of the elements of change (inertia, beating the resistance of others, finding the joy, keeping the joy...) but it was the last one that gave me pause.


He says:
One last note, to anyone making changes: you will fail. I don’t say that to discourage you, but to release you from the fear of failure … because if you already know it will happen, then there’s no pressure to avoid it. Failure is an inevitable part of change, and in fact it should be celebrated — without failure, we’d learn nothing.

Without failure we would learn nothing.  And there it is -- the reason for failure  --  to learn.  And if I need to learn something (and I do love learning1) then I need to accept failure as a sign of progress.  If I am failing, it means I am trying something new (not succeeding...yet...but at least I am not sticking with the status quo)

Failure and I need to make peace -- or more to the point, I need to make peace with failure because it is inevitable. 

What would you choose to try if there was no pressure to avoid failing???  Wouldn't that shut Lizzie up?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I don't have time for this right now!

Mother Teresa — you know, that once-unknown little nun who mobilized tens of thousands of people to care for the poorest of the poor, and trotted the globe bringing in millions of dollars and creating a legacy that has lasted far past her death?

She insisted that everyone associated with her Missionaries of Charity spend precious hours in spiritual practice every day, even when there was the pressing need of dying and starving people all around. --Copyblogger

It is interesting to me how we view selfishness.  Sometimes we let our health go to the wayside just because we don't want to be seen as selfish. It struck me yesterday when I read this story of Mother Teresa -- who is perhaps the most iconic soul of unselfishness -- that even when the world burning down around her, she still knew how important it was for people to take care of themselves.

Taking care of your health is not selfishness any more than putting on your oxygen mask in  an airplane emergency is selfish.  If you don't put yours on first, you are putting others at risk because you won't be there to help them. 

So what about your eating habits?  If you say you don't have the time it takes to invest in a lasting habit change, then what?  You can't teach your kids, your parents or your best friends healthy habits you don't have time for.  You are actually depriving the world of your example of a healthy relationship with food.  And isn't that what our world needs?  Someone out there needs to see YOU contentedly push your plate away when there is still delicious food on it (without a comment about your waistline, the fat content, or how you shouldn't have eaten that because it will take you weeks to work that off).  If you can do it, someone else may be inspired to try.  And that is how we all become healthier and happier.

So tell me -- do you think you have time for that?  Or is that just too selfish?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Happy 300th Post Anniversary to Eating Coach!!!!

It is finely here!  For a while, I have been watching the post numbers creep toward this triple digit milestone.  As some of you read on the sidebar of this blog, I had intended to launch a new blog (kristi-in-kzoo) as a celebration of this milestone post. (that blog is dedicated to all the interesting health and wellness related information I come across doing research for the other areas of my professional life).

So...I launched the new blog early (got so excited about it I just couldn't wait).  Now what?  I am super-pleased with this day -- how am I going to celebrate???

Yesterday, I gave this some pretty serious thought on the way into the office  --  I thought about bringing in a cake to share with some of my super-star coworkers who have been so supportive in my fledgling attempts to start the blog.  But somehow, cake seemed too contrived.

After some thinking, I decided that I didn't really want to celebrate so much as just take a minute and feel pleased about  an accomplishment that wasn't always easy to do.  And then get back to the business of working to make my community a little bit more healthy today than it was yesterday.

So -- if you're inclined to help me celebrate my 300 Day, you don't need to eat a piece of cake for me.  Just make one small decision that brings you closer to your best, healthier you.  Because without you, I wouldn't get to have a 300 Day.

Thanks in advance for the mindfulness you are demonstrating to the world today!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Even our pets are getting fatter....

I drove past a sign today advertising "doggie ice cream".  I find it interesting that at last count, we are spending better than $40 billion a year on our pets and that is the same number the diet industry is making off of us. 

Pets are an interesting way to look at our behaviors.  We love our pets and many times, they are significant members of our families.  They ride in our cars, take vacations with us, sleep in our beds or comfy pet-sized beds we buy especially for them.

Currently, I can name 5 people I personally know who arrange their day around their feline friend's insulin shots because their cats have diabetes.  We are willing and able to devote significant time, energy and money to our relationships with our pets.

But interestingly enough, our pet population is getting fatter just like we are.  Is it related to the fact that in my small town you can buy doggie ice cream?  And there is a doggie bakery in South Haven devoted to pretty little pastry-looking treats for our furry friends?

Do our pets care that their treat looks like a cupcake?  Or is that just for us?  Do we show our dogs we love them by giving them a cute treat (instead of taking them for a walk or grooming them)?

But the larger question is -- what kind of training are we giving our pets?  And is the behavior we are exhibiting with them the same behavior we give to ourselves?

Are we feeding them cupcake treats and doggie ice cream to show them love because that is how we show ourselves love?  Maybe both pet and owner would feel better about the world with a walk and a good grooming. 

Maybe we should stop training our pets to want as much food as they do because we are over-indulging them and making them sick (just like we're doing to ourselves) in our effort to show our love and affection?

Much like people, pets need food to live but they need social interaction and movement to thrive. 

If you can see yourself in any part of this description, maybe you should consider a small shift in your thinking -- for your pets sake as well as your own.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Do something Friday

What do you think of the updates to the site?  As much as I love black, I noticed I was getting tired of it and it was time for a change.

Is it time for an update in your kitchen?  This weekend, now that the J4 parties are done and we can all breath a little sigh of relief, take some time to sweep a critical (as in thinking about it -- not as in judgmental!) eye over the contents of your cabinets.  Are there foods sitting there that call to you?  You know what I'm talking about -- salty chips, packages of cookies, the Twizzler's you meant to take to the summer party but forgot to bring. 

Clean 'em out.  You don't need all that junk.  If it's your favorite snack, keep it.  But if not (and you know you're going to eat it anyway) toss it!!  If you don't have it in the house, you won't eat it when you're bored.  If you really want it later -- you can always make a trip to the store.  But until then, you aren't battling yourself to leave it alone.

Remember, it is very hard to over eat on food that isn't there!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are you to blame???

"Our situations often exist to get our attention."  --Christiane Northrup, M.D.

This thought struck me. In the second chapter of her book, Christiane talks about the tendency of our society to place blame for a situation on the person in that situation.  Obviously, many of us would feel the injustice of  blaming a person for an illness. 

But do we (as a society) feel outrage when an overweight person is blamed for their weight problem?  Even the term "weight problem" denotes a certain amount of judgment about the weight.

Blame is defined as "to find fault with"  -- the overweight person is put soundly in charge of his or her state.

Responsible is "answerable or accountable" -- as in the overweight person is the only one who can change his or her circumstances.  There isn't a judgment -- no one is saying the weight is bad and therefore the person is bad.  The weight just is.

Trying to find someone or something to blame for the increasing weight of our nation is a huge waste of time.  Blame does not solve problems.  Blame takes the easy way out -- it points the finger in a direction that has no relationship to the solution.

And the worst use of blame is when you blame yourself.  Don't waste your time and energy!! 

It doesn't matter how you got to the weight you are -- if you don't like it, do something about it.  Take responsibility (remember-- no judgment.)  You are the only one who can decide which changes need to be made .... and then make them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Betting on Smarter

Again, I love Seth Godin!  His Tuesday post talks about marketing and how some marketers encourage people to be in a hurry and feel they have few options.  They work to make their customers dumber -- that is how they make their sales.

That is what most of the Diet Industry does.  --Limits your options.  --Tells you their is only one way.  "You have to get rid of the foods you love because how can you expect to lose weight while eating regular pizza? " You have to buy their pizza -- it is magic, low-calorie pizza and will melt away unwanted pounds.  Right??!!

The Diet Industry encourages the myth of declining metabolism -- "You can't help it -- you're getting older and your metabolism is slowing down -- that is why you're gaining weight and need our products."  What???  Your metabolism (the amount of energy it takes to keep your body running while you are sitting or sleeping) slows down because you are losing muscle mass -- because you are sitting down so much more than you used to.  If you get up and move more every day, your muscle mass will increase and your metabolism will increase -- then you can eat more calories and maintain the same weight (or eat the same number of calories and lose weight).

I want you to understand you are in charge of your weight and your health!  Chances are it won't be  a perfectly smooth path but you are the only one who can get you there.  Find tools that help you feel better -- help you achieve success.

I am betting on you being more successful if you are better informed and see there are literally millions of good options to manage your weight. 

Don't be dumb.  Don't be in a hurry.  Don't make the Diet Industry rich by letting them convince you they provide the only options.

Be smart.  I am betting on you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The questions isn't "Do you really want to lose weight?"

The question is "Do you want to lose weight more than you want to be able to eat like you have always eaten?"

To change, you have to change.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Power of Beliefs

For a [person] to change or improve her reality and her state of health,  she first has to change her beliefs about what is possible.  This is a simple enough process.  But it requires discipline and persistence. --Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Simple -- but you need to follow through.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Do something Friday

The Tour De France starts tomorrow and runs through 25 July.  --That is 22 DAYS!  Holy smokes!!  So what separates those cyclists from the rest of us? (Besides some crazy beautiful calf muscles)

I think what allows the cyclists (or any serious athlete) the power to complete something that is physically grueling is the clarity they have about what they are doing and why.

If you think about it, I am pretty sure reaching a goal weight shouldn't be as hard as competition riding for 22 days through the mountains.  Cyclists have an end point -- that helps -- they only have to go as far as the finish line.

Are you clear about how far you want to take your weight loss?  On the first meeting with a client, a great many of them tell me at least 3 goal weights they want to achieve while they are working with me.  That it not clear!  What they are really telling me is they want to lose weight but have no idea how much they should be losing.  No finish line.

Another thing cyclist have going for them is their team.  Both in training and in competition, if you have people you like and trust who are all working together for the same common goal, you are more likely to be successful. you have a team?  Do you know who they are and interact with them on a daily basis -- about weight loss, about family stuff, about life in general -- all of those things so you are building a strong relationship with your team?

And lastly, in my quick list, the cyclists have a coach (or more likely coaches).  You would think by now, Lance Armstrong would know everything there is to know about cycling.  But he still needs a set of eyes to pick up the nuances of his training and competition performance.  Life happens and he needs to have help to get himself back on track.

There is a system for cycling -- a training protocol and performance history.  A successful team's methods will be dissected and applied to other teams but there is no one perfect training protocol.  Successful athletes  actively cultivate a knowledge about what works for them -- and when it works and when it doesn't. 

The more often they seek to clarify what they are doing and how that relates to their success, the more success they have.

So how about you?  You say your not Lance Armstrong -- but can you learn from an athlete and use some of the tools they use to create your success?

Seek clarity. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

If you are a believer in karma....

I love this drawing!
If you believe that what you put out into the world (love, patience, anger,  irritation) is going to come back to you then it begs the question:

If you feel bad and then overeat and then feel bad about overeating and then feel angry because you know what to do and just don't feel like doing it......what does karma say you are going to manifest in your life?

More bad feelings

More anger

More guilt

More frustration.


What if you treated yourself with understanding (and not just lip service but worked on getting to know yourself and understand what feelings drive you to overeat and what feelings drive you to feel in charge of your life)?

What if you treated yourself with kindness by sometimes enjoying the foods you now feel guilty about.  And at other times you realize you aren't really going to enjoy that food right now and opt not to eat it (as a different way to be kind to yourself)?

What if you chose to adopt the attitude that enjoying the process of eating is a way to nurture your mind, body and spirit?

What would karma send your way then???