Monday, August 30, 2010

Comparisions don't help

When has comparing yourself with someone else every really helped you??

Sure, in your head, it is nice to come out on the winning end of a comparison but honestly, if you are taking the time to compare, you are probably looking for justification of your actions or self in a situation where you are not sure if you are in the right.. So comparing doesn't really change things, it just focuses your attention away from an honest assessment of what is going on and lets you off the hook because you are not as bad as XYZ.

And if you end up on the losing end of a comparison? What then? Will it motivate me to work harder because I can't run a 5k as fast as So-and-so? Maybe, maybe not.  But wouldn't my energy be better spent in the doing of what I am trying to accomplish?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Do some-thinking Friday

"The greater part of most people's thinking is involuntary, automatic, and repetitive. It is no more than a kind of mental static and fulfills no real purpose. strictly speaking, you don't think: Thinking happens to you. The statement "I think" implies volition. It implies that you have a say in the matter, that there is choice involved on your part. For most people, this is not yet the case."

Mindfulness means you do have a say in the matter and you are thinking about what you are doing  .

**disclaimer:  the italics is a quote from someone but now I can't remember who the author is or where I got the statement from -- if you know, please share with me so I can give credit where credit is due.  --thanks for your help!  Kristi**

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Words of Wisdoms from Seth Godin....

Seth Godin published an alphabet word list and I love! G.  Go go go.  He defines it as:

G is for Go go go™: I just trademarked this one, but you have my permission to use it all you like. Go go go is the mantra of someone who has committed to defeating their anxiety and ignoring their lizard brain. Not a good strategy for airline pilots, but for the rest of us, a little Go go go might be just the ticket.

So....are you ready to Go today?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Chris Brogan used this phrase the other day in his post.  His definition of Escape Velocity is:

 “the ability to leave a situation that isn’t helpful or desired.”

The idea is that you need to build up enough momentum to shoot you out of the current path (the unhelpful one) and get you moving along another (hopefully more helpful path).  By definition then (and according to Newton's First Law of Motion), reaching escape velocity requires energy.  And that is one thing that people struggling to manage their weight seem to feel they don't have very much of.

Clients often tell me that cultivating mindfulness is hard and requires too much work.  Well, you know what?  Many of them are already spending a great deal of energy feeling stressed about every bite of food they are putting in their mouth.  Worrying if they should or shouldn't have it.  Feeling angry and resentful that other people don't understand how hard it is to manage their weight.  Feeling depressed because their reunion is coming up and they don't really want to go because of how they look.  Feeling like it is too much work to climb the stairs at the office.....and the list goes on.

You are already spending the time making each and every decision about eating right now.  Cultivating mindful eating means you are only making the same number of decisions you currently make -- You will just make some different choices.  It also means that as you make different choices instead of feeling guilty or stressed or depressed, you can choose to feel hopeful, or optimistic or celebratory because you are moving in the direction of greater health and satisfaction with yourself.

When you start to feel those hopeful, optimistic, and celebratory feelings that further bolsters you Escape Velocity -- you will be accelerating down the new path instead of just slugging it out day to day.  But the most important thing to keep in mind is that it doesn't require more energy to do this -- it requires you shift the energy you are already  spending into a more productive direction.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Are you setting a course or just drifting?

Are you an a journey to a healthier weight?  Are you purposefully working toward that goal?  When?  What are you doing (everyday) to get you there?

Setting a course is a purposeful activity.  Sure, your course changes as circumstances in your life change but setting a course means that life's little bumps and bruises don't cast your ship onto the rocks.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Garage Door Syndrome

Garage Door Syndrome
"We have garage door syndrome where we open it in the morning to pull out and then later on pull in and close it, closing ourselves off from the neighborhood."

This is Suzanne Vara talking about Las Vegas communities. know how other people's words get me thinking.  We can all see how Garage Door Syndrome plays out in our neighborhoods (at least if you live in the suburbs -- did I mention I can my first experience EVER of talking to a neighbor in the middle of the street just 3 months ago???) 

But what about inside your own head?  How many times do you start to think, feel and connect with your interior landscape (via eating more sensibly, starting to exericise, meditation, etc) only to have life happen and you close the garage door sealing yourself off from your feeling and sensations.  Sure, it seems easier to deal with life if we are not "distracted" by what and how we are feeling -- but what are the long-term costs of this isolation from ourselves? 

At a minimum, we overeat because we are unwilling to register the sensation of physical hunger being satisfied.  We eat to distract us from our stress of the day (think about all that food being used as a barricade in front of our garage doors to prevent our real feelings from breaking through).

Maybe it is time for you to open the garage door and step into the world you have been so activily trying to avoid.  You may be suprised at how well you like what you find.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Do some-thinking Friday

Dollar for dollar, people who spend their money on experiences rather than on items have happier lives. 

The above, I believe to be a truth.  Isn't the experience what we are all going for in life?  Are you spending money on eating out because you want the food?  Or do you want the experience of being waited on, not having to do the dishes afterwards, and being able to sit with your dining campanions and enjoy them (without cooking)?

When you really give it some thought -- food is secondary (at least a most of the time).  It plays a supporting role -- not the primary one.

Food is an item.  Once consumed, it is gone.  The experience is a memorable event.  Once it is done, it can be relived in memory.  Do you need to get stuffed on the item ...or do you need to live the experience?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ahhhh...the stress of awareness

I just had an interesting experience. I signed up some of my coworkers to receive Eating Coach blog email updates. Right now, I am very hyper aware that they will be reading what I write. Yikes! Now, isn't this kind of strange since I have been posting to this blog for better than a year? --I just celebrated my 300th post!  And I know you all having been reading and thinking about the posts (which I appreciate, by the way). So it really it shouldn't matter one way or another whether or not the coworkers are reading -- but in the back of my head, I feel exposed and want to be on my best behavior -- weird, huh??

So what about you? How easy would it be for you to be mindful if you sat down at a meal with me? Some of you have already experienced that when you attended a Mindful Meal -- most of the clients I have eaten with tell me they are much more aware of what they are eating because I am sitting across from

I don't think it was a negative experience to eat with me -- it think they were just more aware. That's good! When you're eating at a business function, sometimes it's about eating enough food to look social but leaving out the foods that are going to make it difficult to conduct that business over the meal. Again, it's an awareness.

It is much easier to cultivate mindfulness when you know others might ask you questions or be involved in your choices in some manner. We all like to have the correct answers on a test, right? But what happens when you're on your own and there isn't any accountability to others? --when you can eat the whole bag of chips on the couch during a Scrubs rerun and nobody is there to look cross-eyed at you?

This is when you have to set up for yourself. Understand that there are a million ways you can cheat or justifiy the mindfulness system.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Glacial pace of change

This morning Seth Godin was talking about change in media, governments and our culture.  He ends his post with the following two paragraphs:

Cultural shifts create long terms evolutionary changes. Cultural shifts, changes in habits, technologies that slowly obsolete a product or a system are the ones that change our lives. Watch for shifts in systems and processes and expectations. That's what makes change, not big events.

Don't worry about what happened yesterday (or five minutes ago). Focus on what happened ten years ago and think about what you can do that will make a huge impact in six months. The breaking news mindset isn't just annoying, it may be distracting you from what really matters. As the world gets faster, it turns out that the glacial changes of years and decades are become more important, not less.

And although he is taking about media and the world, the same idea can be applied to your eating habits.  My mom remembers going to dinner at her grandma's house.  They sat down and ate together.  And then, chances are, the kids were sent out to play -- which would have meant going out into the woods or to the lake to actively play.  I assume the women would have all cleared the table and helped the matriarch do dishes (and in this scenario, I really don't know what the men would have done).  So....eating then moving their bodies -- that's how we used to live.

Then small changes occurred.  Dishwashers, kids playing more video games, bigger plates at home, getting used to bigger portions when we ate out, eating out more often as we got more affluent (or fast food got cheaper), less sending the kids out to play and more driving them in the car to their organized sports.....

Individually, none of these things would have done anything to our weight -- they were have been small shocks to our system.  Collectively, however, they have shifted our culture and are some of the reasons our obesity rates are climbing.

When you give it some thought, does it seem sensible to you that slapping a Jenny Craig program over top all this culture change doesn't fix the problem?  It doesn't even address the problem.  It addresses the symptom of the problem.

So what's it going to be?  As I see it, we have two choices:
1. Live with our new normal and get on with being happy.
2. Address some of the changes that got us here in the first place (and get on with being happy).

Which one are you choosing today?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Government's confusing recommendations

Last week, I lectured on the differences between exercise and activity (and there are plenty) for a local city Wellness program. One of the questions I was asked is why there have been all these different target goals published by the CDC. 30 minutes of exercise per day -- 10,000 steps per day -- accumulating 150 minutes of exercise per week -- it can all be very confusing.

In all my lectures, I encourage participants to ask questions but this is the first time anyone had asked me to explain which goal was better (there is an answer to that -- 10k steps) and why there were so many different goals.

Now...I try not to be a nag. If you've followed me for a while, you know I do have a tendency to get up on my soapbox from time to time. So out came to soapbox along with the answer. The answer to the participant's question is: We are not moving as much as we should. The government doesn't know how to motivate us to take care of ourselves. And because of these two things, they are taking good ideas, throwing them to the wall to see which ones will stick with people.

Their eating recommendations are like that too. There are a million ways to eat that are just as good as another -- our problem (unlike exercise) is that we're just doing too much eating (of everything!) Cutting back (9 bites a day) will let you lose weight. You won't have to give up your favorites -- just eat less of them and you won't need to worry about what science says you "should eat" and "shouldn't eat".

Monday, August 16, 2010

Surrounding yourselves with Do-ers

It occurred to me yesterday that I have been ranting on Do-ing a lot.  I know when I feel like I am stuck and at the mercy of the Universe, my frustration level with the world drives me to the edge.  I have come to realize over the years, that the way to combat my frustration level is to set aside my doubts and need for perfection and DO something -- anything -- to move me in the direction I want to go.  Doing is one of the ways I cope. (and the clients and members I see in person) have been getting a dose of Do-ing motivation.  And then it hit me -- I am surrounded by people giving me that same advise to me.  My blog list (the blogs I read) is full to the brim with people writing posts about doing.  Seth Godin often rants about Doing and Shipping (getting your product or service out the door).  Jena is encouraging me to Do.  Wake up Tiger subscribes to the Do mentality (be warned he has the Aussie penchant for swearing).  And that is NOT a comprehensive list of the Do-ers that influence me everyday.

What about you?  Are you surrounding yourself with people who are Doing in their lives and pushing you to Do in yours?  Are you striving to be a Do-er .... or are you content with being a Thinker-abouter?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Do something Friday

If you're sitting in the woods eating a Big Mac and there isn't anyone around to hear you, do the calories still count?

Are you a sneaker? Have you ever noticed that you like eating alone so you can eat whatever you want without feeling like others are judging you?

Calories are calories are calories.

For weight management purposes, it doesn't matter if you are eating chocolate cake, fast food, or a vegan gourmet dinner prepared exclusively with organically grown foods -- the same number of calories with equal the same adjustment to your weight.

Stop sneaking. Stop feeling guilty. Stop judging yourself and blaming it on others. Listen to you body and feed it the foods that make your heart sing.

I know that is a big order to undertake for the rest of your life. How about you just try it for this weekend and see how it goes?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mindfulness is....

More than paying attention so you can lose weight. 

What would you see if you were more mindful???

Ordinary moments, yes ... but the beauty of life is found in the ordinary moments.

Thanks for sharing this, Jena!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Are you willing to do the impossible?

Five years success rates for weight loss (those that lose weight through whatever means and keep most of it off for 5 years) is 3%.

Diets work quickly ... and then you regain the weight just as quickly.  Know why?  Because you haven't changed your "go to" behaviors.  Nothing has changed -- you were on a diet but when you go back to real life, nothing but your pant size has changed -- so it will change back.

Some people are successful -- 3%.  How?  By changing the behaviors that got them to their heaviest weight.  You can be one of those 3% -- you can beat the odds.


By doing it everyday.  Making changes you can live with.  Figuring out why you eat the way you do and questioning what skills are working for you and which ones no longer are.  Can YOU do it?  Yes.  But only if you're willing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


This is a phrase I just read on Christine Kane's blog this morning and I LIKE IT!  Have you ever found yourself putting off the actual doing of something so you could wonder about it?  Doing it in your head so you could think out the pitfalls of the project...and then calling a friend to see what their take on the idea is...and then doing a quick Google search to see if there is relevant information out there about the project...and then guess what???  By the time you do all that, you have lost interesting in the actually doing...or you have just talked yourself out of it.  Bummer!!

Weight management and cultivating mindfulness are both prone to Procrastination-by-Inquiry.  You do the research and read the blog but you never quite make it happen.

I am a firm believer in visualization.  One of the exercises I ask clients to do is figure out how their life would be different if they lost the weight -- and then create a mental image around that difference. Visualizing that life is a good exercise but not at the expense of living the behavior change IN REAL TIME.

Practice makes perfect.  You are going to screw up with anything new you try.  If you aren't screwing up, you are only doing what you're already good at -- not developing new skills and pushing yourself.

There is NO substitute for the Doing!  Don't put mindfulness off for another minute just because you are trying to align the planets for your perfect success -- it won't happen.  Push up your sleeves and get to work!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Did your weight cause you stress last Christmas?

Or maybe it was just the thought of all the available food and wondering how much weight you were going to gain.  Holidays are stressful enough without that!

Behavior change experts are finding that it takes 16-24 weeks of support and practice to make a solid behavior change (that will  last through the holiday temptations).

Now...not to be downer (because I have banned talk of the leaves starting to change and how the air is starting to smell like fall --and I have not mentioned to anyone, except you, that the other day I saw a huge flock of birds gathering in a tree) but guess how many weeks we have until the holiday season starts?

Well...honestly, it depends on when yours kicks off but I have friends that swears the parties start Nov 1 and run until January 6.

So...we have just enough time to get on that behavior change horse and ride!

To help with that, I have set up 2 group trainings:

September 9 - October 14 at 8:30am at my Fitness Center in Kalamazoo
Mondays October 18 - November 22 12pm to 1pm

Just click here and choose Eating Coach Group Training from the drop down list.

These group trainings are designed to give you tools, practical self knowledge and a new perspective on how to Eat, Enjoy, and Be Happy with your eating throughout the holidays (and for the rest of your life).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Do something Friday

Waste : to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return; use to no avail or profit; squander

Some people hit a big stumbling block when I suggest throwing food away.  Eat half your dinner out and then throw the rest away.  Get the bag of cookies you are craving, eat 8 and then throw the rest away.  Sure, you pay a premium price per cookie if you do that, but you aren't going to eat the rest of the bag if they are in the trash.

Are you wasting that food if you throw it away?  I suppose.  However.....

According the the definition above -- if you are consuming something without adequate return (as in you're eating something that doesn't taste good to you -- no positive psychological return) or you are eating more than you have physical hunger for (you are overeating and storing those calories straight to fat -- so there is no biological return), you are wasting the food.

Waste is waste -- either don't put it on your plate or throw it out -- but don't just eat it because it's there. 

Look for the return on your investment -- don't be wasteful!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How helpful is your desk being to yourself and others?

Think about your desk drawers -- are they stuffed with snacks? (okay...maybe not stuffed but do you have a stash?)  Do you have a nice bowl of change sitting there waiting for the vending machine craving to strike?

Let's face it -- sometimes work gets boring or stressful -- and we turn to food to calm or distract us.  Don't make it easy on yourself!  Having a drawer full of things to snack on will create a greater desire to snack.  Knowing that you have easy access to whatever the vending machine is full of will make you look at what it's full of (just so you don't miss out on something good).

Clean it out and get rid of it.  I am pretty sure you aren't going to starve to death without stashed Pop Tarts.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Immutable Truths

When was the last time you questioned an immutable dieting "truth"?  You know what I'm talking about -- that convention so ingrained that if you aren't following it, you feel guilty because you know you're not doing what you should -- for example, no one who is trying to lose weight should eat least while they are on their diet and perhaps ever!

Or what about the convention that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?  How does that stack up against the idea that you do not need to eat if you are not physically hungry?

Here's the thing -- Breakfast would be the most important meal of the day if you ate a reasonable sized dinner at 5:30pm and then didn't snack in the all.  But that isn't the way most of us live our lives.  It takes a super kitchen wizard to get home from work at 5:15 and have dinner on the table by 5:30.  And we do snack in the evening.  Which means we aren't fasting for the 12+ hours that used to be the case.  If I eat dinner a good sized dinner at 8:00, there is a good chance I won't be hungry when I wake up (which is usually the case) so there isn't a reason for me to eat breakfast before I rush out the door.

The important idea here isn't whether or not you are eating breakfast, it is to question the ideas that "everybody knows are true"....because they might not be true for you any more.

Your body will let you know when you need to eat -- you don't need to feed it proactively to protect yourself from feelings of hunger.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Social Antibodies

Why is it hard to eat less?  Most of the reasons I hear center around the idea that it is unfair for some people to have to eat less than others to maintain a healthy weight.

We have a culture (or at least a large part of our culture) that supports that idea that more is better -- more food, more square footage in our homes, more toys in our garages.

Food has become a plague for many people.  It causes stress for them to eat (What is healthy? What is organic? Does this have a provitamin or probiotic?)  And it is stressful to limit ourselves.  We use food like a drug to separate ourselves from the stresses of our days and provide entertainment when there isn't anything on the 183 cable channels.

So what got us through the plagues of history?  Our bodies developed antibodies to the disease. 

And what is going to get us through this plague on our culture and ourselves?  I just came across the idea of "social antibodies".

What are social antibodies, you ask???

Social antibodies are those mindful eaters out there not only walkin' the walk --  They are also talkin' the talk.  They are letting their friends and neighbors know what they are doing -- that there is another, simple, way to manage your weight.  That if you don't overeat, you won't be overweight.  That you have the option of eating really, really good foods.  And if you eat a reasonable portion of those, you don't ever have to give the low-fat, low-cal versions another thought.

So what do you think?  Are you part of the plague solution?  Or part of the problem? Are you ready to become a social antibody?

*and thanks to Paul Graham for the social antibodies idea that got me thinkin')

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thought for the Day....

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today." -- Japanese Proverb

The same can be said for changing your eating behaviors.  Start today.