Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quote and a question...

"When you no longer believe that eating will save your life when you feel exhausted or overwhelmed or lonely, you will stop.  When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart."  -- Geneen Roth  Women, Food, and God

So...are you ready to talk about this book yet?  Are you ready to let go of everything that everyone else has every told you about who you are and what you're capable of and learn to choose for yourself?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chris Brogan's Question....

Today, Chris Brogan asked the question "What are you doing?"  And here is his list:

Now...he's a business guy and talks a lot about doing things that matter (which is probably why I love reading his blogs).  So what he's really asking here is for his readers to think about the tasks they are really going to accomplish that day --- when you lay your tasks out on post-its, does it match your intention for the day?  Or would yours look more like this one:

But what if your whole list was just this:

How would your day change if that is what you were trying to accomplish?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Old coping mechanisms

"When we consistently use defenses that we developed twenty  or fifty years ago, we freeze ourselves in the past.  We lose touch with reality.  We live a lie." --Geneen Roth Women, Food, and God

We definitely need past experiences to draw from -- knowing how to act the second time around based on what happened the first time is how we mature, right?

But what if our reactions to the present (being governed by our past) are holding us back?  What if we aren't looking for new and improved ways to deal with situations based on past experiences.  What if we consistently choose the same reaction, not because it worked the best in the past, but because we have used it so many times in the past. 

If this becomes the case, we never live in the present moment -- we are doomed to repeat, repeat, repeat the past -- which is great if your past is all rainbows and ponies -- but if not, wouldn't you like new results?

If you are not happy with your weight, chances are you have some coping mechanisms developed around food -- eating when you're stressed, not eating when you're stressed and then binging when the stress finally hits critical mass.  Have you ever wondered what part the food plays in all this?  It's really not the taste.  Distraction is a mild way of putting it.  In these cases, food is being used to help disconnect you from the stress -- like wrapping yourself in bubble wrap so nothing bad can get to you....for the time you're eating, anyway.

But is that how you want to deal with your stress?  Or is that just the way you have dealt with it in the past?  Are you ready to deal with your present life and learn better ways to cope -- new defenses so you don't have to live the lie?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bonus thought for the day -- from Seth Godin

Seth Godin
The problem with putting it all on the line...

is that it might not work out.

The problem with not putting it all on the line is that it will never (ever) change things for the better.

Not much of a choice, I think. No risk, no art. No art, no reward.

Right and Wrong

Have you every noticed that lots of our actions take on moral implications where there aren't any.  Take for example right now.  If you look at the time stamp on this post -- it is not when I usually post.  It's just before 1 am on Monday morning.  I woke up a while ago and laid there thinking.  Usually, that is enough to go back to sleep but it hasn't been tonight.

While I was laying there, I thought about what I could blog about in the morning -- then I started thinking about the chocolate chocolate chip cookies in the freezer.  Soon I was debating the merits of getting up and writing a post (and eating some of the cookies).  The most interesting part of the whole debate, however, came from hearing myself say "I shouldn't get up and post right now -- I should go back to bed -- what kind of a person gets up in the middle of the night to work?" and "Holy Cow!  I can't wake up in the middle of the night and eat cookies -- what's wrong with me (said in a voice of shock and horror)!!"

Neither posting in the middle of the night nor eating cookies in bed is a moral decision.  Should and shouldn't aren't really part of the discussion (especially if I am trying to practice non-judgment).  I am not less (or more)  of a person for fighting off the urge to eat or plowing my way back to sleep (if such a thing could be done) than I would be to turn on the computer and grab the frozen box.

In the last several weeks, I have been surprised by how many clients (both eating and exercise) are driven by the seeming morality of their habit choices.  Like going to 4 aerobics classes a week and not eating anything with refined sugar gets them four steps closer to Holy??! -- I could be wrong but I am pretty sure that isn't how it works.

So give it some thought.  Start to notice how many choices you are making  for "should" or "shouldn't" reasons -- and how many are done because that is how you are choosing to care for yourself at that particular time.  --The idea that Gluttony is a Cardinal sin aside, eating isn't the final grade on the kind of people we are.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Do something Friday

"Space Fuels the Fire" © Liz Schneider
Finding a quiet space.

All summer it was go, go, go.  Summer activities kept me hopping.  Work was busier than normal for the summer (I don't know why).  And I kept holding on to the idea that things would calm down in the fall. -- That in the fall there would be time to sit and think and be creative and put together a new programs and learn new things without the stress of having to cram all that learning into the least possible time frame.  Well, guess what?  That didn't happen.  And that leaves me wondering  -- Now what?

The quiet and creative time has to happen or I won't do even a good job with the things in my life I want to be excellent at.  But just because the quiet isn't happening (which implies no real work or input from me -- the universe just creating magic time for me with no commitments to fill it) -- doesn't mean I can't get that time.

I need to make a choice to arrange my life (or my day or an hour) in a way that allows me to have the down time it takes to start to reconnect with myself.  Much of the summer was spent connecting with others -- and that is super, necessary, and vital too.  But most of us can't connect outwardly all the time (and most of us don't want to connect with just ourselves all the time either) -- so we are talking about recognizing the need to slow down and quiet down once in a while to reconnect.

Reconnecting with yourself is at the core of mindfulness.  Understanding the physical hunger signal is important for determining if and how much your body needs you to eat.  Understanding when you are stressed (which sometimes sneaks up on me so slowly that I don't really realize it until it hits me over the head with a frying pan), can lead to you getting back to the gym or taking that meditative walk instead of the 8 treks to the fridge.  Realizing you are so sick of the interior of your mini van because all you have done for the last month is drive kids here and there might lead you to head out on your bike -- or consider finding a car pool solution with other soccer parents.

What I'm asking is this -- make some time this weekend to reconnect with yourself.  Check in -- ask and listen to how you are feeling, what is starting to drive you crazy (and is amping up your trigger eating) so that you can create some new solutions to those feelings without mindlessly turning to food to handle the stress.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do I need this?

Have you ever asked yourself "Do I need this?" -- Probably.

Do you recognize the difference between needing pasta alfredo and just wanting it?  Sometimes, I need cookies.  Usually, it is a particular kind of cookie ( -- not all cookies are created equally).

You should consider acting on a need.  A want, on the other hand, has to be recongized differently than a need.  I want and Audi TT -- but I don't need one.  I have no plans to indulge that particular want anytime in the near future because it will take valuable resources away from other things that are truly needs.

So next time you are considering putting something in your mouth, maybe the question to ask is:  Do I need this?  Or do I just want it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chance favors the connected mind

How are you approaching your weight management?  We've talked about it a lot here.  Some suggestions I've made:

Work on your mindfulness.

Read my blog.

Read this or that recommended book. (Women Food and God/ Connected / Chris Brogan / Beyond Chocolate /etc)

Put your plans into ACTION (practice / fail / build on success / etc)

Read something from Zen Habits / the Oprah Show / Magpie Girl / Christine Kane / etc)

I could create a GIANT list -- but the title of the post isn't "A GIANT list of things you need to do perfectly to be successful in achieving a healthy weight".  (thank goodness, right?)

The title of the post is "Chance favors the connected mind".  And where this idea comes from is a case in point.

I just got done watching a TED video --( if you love ideas this is a wonderful site!!)   I knew I had to write this post -- I was tired -- and had absolutely no idea what to blog about.  I watched the video (which consequently had nothing to do with anything we talk about here) and the very last line the speaker said turned into the title for the post.

Your eating habits are a conglomeration of all the behaviors you have had since you were born.  Toddler habits, family mealtimes, college dorm eating, young professional eating....and on through the years.  You picked those habits up forming and reforming them to suit your situation.  And here you are.

The way to remake those habits is not to change them all in the next 3 weeks.  It's much more effective to read (on lots of topics), think, integrate ideas on food, mealtimes, eating behaviors of people different than you and your eating circle.  Paying attention to what others do, think or say generally leads to new ways of thinking about what you do.  And that in turn leads to behavior change -- which is how you are going to change your weight.

So read on, my friends!  Think, try, talk about being mindful with others.  Others will have ideas that spark your imagination and may just work for your situation.  You can do it -- but only if you're mindful.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I believe attention is the most powerful tool of the human spirit.   We can enhance or augment our attention with practices like meditation and exercise, diffuse it with technologies like email and Blackberries, or alter it with pharmaceuticals.   In the end, though, we are fully responsible for how we choose to use this extraordinary tool.    --Linda Stone

Monday, September 20, 2010

Women Food and God....

So....did you do it?  Did you buy the book?  Are you reading right now so we can talk about it?  Not only did I buy a copy and then blog that you should buy it too because I am getting so much out of it --- I am getting so much out of it that I went down this weekend and bought another copy and gave it to a friend.  My hope is that she will read it and help her kids from following down the same path.

What makes this book so good, you ask?  My favorite part so far, you ask? 

What has struck me so far was the author's nice sized rant on how we should never underestimate our urge to bolt.  I like the word choice -- it indicates something other than a planned change of direction or a coordinated decision act in a different manner.  Bolting is like running out of the house with my hair in curlers, housecoat a-flappin', arms over my head flaylin', looking like a complete mad woman without even two brain cells to rub together.

Outside of the fact that I don't own a set of curlers (or a housecoat -- do they even make those any more?)  -- you get the image of me bolting, right?  Bolting is a reaction we use to get us back to where the world is comfortable after things get too tough on our chosen path.  Bolting back to comfortable behaviors is what we do when changing our eating (or dealing with our personal baggage) gets too hard.  We chuck off the dead-weight of our good intentions and run back to what feels comfortable (even if it is the eating behaviors that got us to our unhappy weight) housecoat a-flappin'.

So, what's the author's suggestion on dealing with the urge to bolt?  (you mean besides never underestimating the power of that urge?) --- go get the book!  Then we can talk!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Do something Friday

Months ago, a friend called to tell me she had just seen an interview with Geneen Roth about a new book she just published.  The friend told me, based on the interview, I should go down to the bookstore (right then!!) and buy this book.  (Which I didn't do because I had eight other books on my shelf to read first).

That was last March.  Since then, Oprah has read Geneen's book.  I have mentioned a client's comment about the book here.  But I still hadn't read it.

Over the course of the last couple weeks, several people have mentioned the book and last week I finally went over to Barnes and Noble and bought it. 

The title of the book is Women Food and God --an unexpected path to almost everything.

Normally, I wouldn't rave about a book -- honestly, there are only a very select number of books worth a true rave but this is one of them.  Geneen relates her story and the story of her clients in a way that is accessible to all.  Truly, the having the word women in the title should not make men this this book is not for them -- it is a story of our time -- The use of food to separate us from ourselves so we do not have to feel all of the uncomfortable feelings life is full of .

I can guarantee you will relate to this book.  It will make you think about your weight in a new way -- it underscores my repeated refrain "Weight isn't the problem -- it is a symptom of the problem".

This weekend, go out and buy this book.  Start reading it and tell me what you think -- I can't wait to read your thoughts!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Have you ever....

Have you ever gotten up from the dinner table knowing you ate an appropriate amount and ...that was it.  No guilt or frustration.  But also, and equally important -- you felt good physically.  No stuffed feeling.  No sluggishness.  Just light and ready to move on to the next activity.

This feeling is it's own reward (if you let it be).  If you take time to notice how much better you feel when you eat smaller amounts, you can have this reward every time you eat.  Weight loss will be a byproduct (or bonus) of creating this feeling but your body will reward you right then -- with no waiting.

Are you seeking to cultivate this feeling?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The difference between your Best You and the You it's easiest to be.....

Do you know the difference?  I have been struggling a little bit lately with putting my best foot forward -- both here at the blog and other area in my workplace.  It's hard to bring A game everyday -- and it's easy to look around and justify that A- or B+ game is okay because it's not D game.  And then I read Copyblogger's post about Eminem's new album.

I'm not an Eminem fan -- actually, I am just working under the asumption that I don't like his music but I don't have enough information to even know if I have ever heard any.  What struck me in the article was when Copyblogger said:

"Be the best You, not the You it’s easiest to be."

It made me think that sometimes I don't make the distinction between best Me and easiest Me.  My dad always (or maybe only once and it really stuck) told me "If you don't have time to do it right the first time, how are you going to have time to redo it later?"  This speaks to being the best Me the first time.

Making choices to be unmindful in your eating habits is being the easiest You -- not the best You.  The best You might chose better quality or smaller portion fast food when food on the go is necessary but best You recognizes there is a choice to be made.  Easiest You will just run on autopilot because everything else is (please insert the whiney tone of your choice here) "too hard".

So what do you think?  Are you striving for best You today -- or are you just chosing the "easy" way out?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A lack of standardization

One of the frustrating things for an newly-ex-dieter-turned-mindful-eater-out-of-desperation is the lack of solid answers.

When asked "what should I eat?" my response, invariably, is "What sounds great right now?"

"Should I eat breakfast?" leads to "Are you hungry when you wake up?"

There are no rules -- no standardization -- no easy-answer formula. 

You love and hate that about diets, right?  It is easy to tell when you are "being good" and following to diet (or "being bad" because you aren't following the diet closely -- or off the diet all together because you haven't been "good" in days).  But isn't that the thing you hate about diets, too?  That you have to do exactly what someone else says...forever... and when you don't, the weight comes back.

So, yes....mindful eating is hard because you have to continually evaluate a desired action against your current conditions -- but when you buck standardization, you create something that actually FITS YOU (instead of you trying to fit it).  Doesn't that seem like a better long-term solution?

Monday, September 13, 2010

I hate to admit how behind the times I am....

But to make my point, I guess I am going to have to. 

This weekend I rented the movie, Julie and Julia.  It has been out long enough that it is now on the 5 day rental wall at my video store and my mom has been after me to see it for months and months!

It was a lovely story!  A woman gets stuck in her life -- unsatisfied in her job and not feeling like she is moving ahead -- and cooks her way through Julia Child's cookbook while the movie parallels the two women's lives.  Lovely, lovely movie.

Here's one of the things that struck me though...did you notice (if you have seen the movie) how both of the actresses portrayed their characters eating?  They REALLY experienced the food!!  And sure, you can say this is just a movie and they are just actors pretending to experience the food.  But somehow, I just can't see either of these women scarfing down waxy, gas station chocolate just to the get food fix because they were stressed. 

Are you experiencing your food?  Are you being blown away by what you are eating?  If not, why are you eating it?  Habit?  Because it's there?  Because you weren't being mindful?  You had to eat it because there weren't any other options and you were hungry?  ---but the question still remains, did you experience it? 

And if you did....what was that like?  Post a comment and share with us!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Do something Friday

Put down the brick -- stop beating yourself up.

Do you really have an understanding of how much negative, self-directed talk is going on in your head?  If you are like many people who have struggled with the weight, there are lots of situations which cause you to speak negatively about yourself and your abilities.


Even though clients have, in the past, told me they use these negative thoughts to motivate themselves, hearing "You suck!" / "You're so fat!"/ "Of course you're going to fail!" is NOT motivating -- it is demeaning.
Your boss would be reprimanded if he or she spoke to you that way and you would be incensed.

So why is it okay to talk to yourself that way?  The answer? -- It's NOT!!

Spend sometime this weekend writing down the negative self-talk that pops into your head -- there is a good chance you are going to be appalled at how frequent and mean it is.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Have you ever burnt out on a diet?

I came across this definition of burnout in an essay written about the subject as it relates to medical students -- but I think it has application here:

"The best definition of burnout I found was on "a gradual process whereby chronic stress leads to feelings of negativity and malaise and, ultimately, results in the loss of motivation."

To one degree or another, it is probably safe to say we have all experienced the feelings  of negativity and malaise and the resulting loss of motivation -- in general life and perhaps associated with weight loss.

Ever been dieting really diligently for a week only to get on the scale and have it say you have only lost a pound?  Did it demotivate you?  Did it make you think everything you gave up wasn't worth the pound you lost because "what's one pound?"

The article goes on to say:

It seems that the source of "negativity and malaise" is not only chronic stress. With endless lists of things to study it's easy to neglect self-expression, or introspection, or relationships that can be self-defining. Burnout is more than being overworked; it's losing yourself in the labor.

So, perhaps the remedy is more than just relaxing, though that's part of it. (Sleep definitely helps.) Perhaps the necessary approach is to consider what fed the flame that burnt out, stock up on fuel, and relight."

It's losing yourself in the labor.

This is the best description I have read about burnout. -- becoming something other than yourself because of the work you are doing.

Food is a trickly thing in our society.  The food we eat tells a story about who we are and where we came from.  It connects us to our past.  We eat to be social (which is at the core of our humanity).  When a diet is imposed on us (even by ourselves), it causes us to be someone other than who we are (sometimes that might be a seemingly good thing -- like if you go eat fast food 4 times a day) but the thought still holds that it is changing who you are.

I assume at one point or another you have tried to turn yourself into the round peg to fit into the round hole instead of being your naturally square self -- it was really difficult, wasn't it?

Burnout that comes with health behavior change isn't ultimately healthy because you won't keep up the healthy behavior as the burnout mounts.  My suggestion?  Do just what the author above suggests:

Perhaps the necessary approach is to consider what fed the flame that burnt out, stock up on fuel, and relight.

Think about all the foods that make your heart sing and figure out ways to eat smaller portions of them.  Even at a smaller portion, most of us will still feel connected to who we are as we eat them.  And it won't take very long before those smaller portions will become part of who we are -- and then the whole process gets easier.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's gonna happen....

Change -- whether you create it or you are a victim of it, it's going to happen.  If you don't like the direction the change is taking you, grab a toe hole and change your course.  Today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This blog won't create action....

I have been reading a book by Clay Shirky.  I chose the book because it was recommended by blogger whose opinion I value and I have found it wonderfully insightful on the ideas of social media and new technologies.  I am officially 158 pages into it and read the first thing I thought you all should here.  Are you ready??  Here it is.....

"Social tools don't create collective action - they merely remove obstacles to it"

The purpose of this blog isn't to get you to do one particular thing or another.  If that was the case, mindfulness wouldn't be any different than Weight Watchers -- a set of rules to follow -- eat this not that...always ... or you're bad and you fail!

My goal for this blog is to remove obstacles to mindfulness.  For starters, by encouraging you to sign up for the email version of this update, and by setting the email delivery time at 7am, the email should be in your inbox when you arrive at work. 

I don't know for sure but if you are like me, one of the first things you do to start your day is check your inbox to see what has blown up in the 12 hours since you left.  So, if the email is there, there is a greater likelihood you will read it.  If you take the time to read it, you have already made a time investment in our relationship and hopefully I will have said something in the post that gets you thinking about your own eating behaviors.

Maybe I hit just the right note with a post and it flashes to you at some point during the course of your day and you bring your attention to what you are about to eat -- and make some kind of conscious decision about it.

The blog didn't do any of this -- you did.  All the blog did was make it a little easier to keep the idea of mindfulness a little closer to the front of your brain so it could pop up at just the right moment.

Blogs, logs, diets, even coaches .... they don't create action -- you do.  They might remove obstacles but you create the action to get you where you want to be.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How does your year run?

Does your year run January to December?  Do you run on the same fiscal year as your company? 

I haven't ever given this any kind of thought (because obviously my calendar runs Jan-Dec of course I do as well).  Except I don't.

I just figured out my year runs along side the school year.  Which means tomorrow is my first day of the new year.  I could make my goals for the fall and get a jump start on them before the craziness of the holidays. 

This is especially helpful when you are working on your eating habits because right now there is some time when you aren't exhausted from the holiday hustle and bustle and the pace of life might just be a little bit slower.  You've gotten your vacations out of the way, summer parties are done, kids are out of the house and back to school.

Perhaps now is the right time to tackle those new year behaviors.  A clean slate starting tomorrow.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Do something Friday

Labor Day is here -- the last official weekend of summer.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it?
This weekend isn't going to undo all the
mindful progress you've made.
Set your food worries aside.
Be good to yourself this weekend.

That doesn't mean you have carte blanche to eat whatever comes in front of you -- that is not being good to yourself -- that is living like marine life.  Being good to yourself means stop worrying about the kinds of food you're eating.

It is generally thought that if you eat a healthy diet you will live longer.  That might be true -- however, because there is such conflicting information on what is healthy and what isn't -- you can spend a great deal of time worrying about your choices.  And it is my contention that the worrying is what will kill most of us (or at the very least, rob us of the joys in our lives!)

So don't do it!  Set your eating worries aside this weekend.  Don't think about weight gain from potato salad or ribs.  Enjoy the parties and people and weather that comes with this weekend.  Enjoy where you are and what you're doing.  Ask yourself if you're hungry before the food goes in and make your decision from there.

I hope you have a happy and safe holiday!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sunday morning, after a summer of playing at the beach, wake boarding, and doing all the fun things that can only be done in the summer, I woke up in a mini-panic.  It was almost Labor (and everyone knows that is when the summer weather comes to a screeching halt) and I hadn't done the maintenance work on my house that needs to be done before the snow flies.

Specifically, I was freaking out about sealing my deck.  If it didn't get done soon, the fall rain would start and the deck wouldn't be dry enough to seal until next summer -- and it needed to be done last June!!  I had the sealant.  I had the brushes.  I have had everything I needed to make it happen....but just put it off because playing is more fun.  But Sunday was the day. (Do you all remember that Sunday it was forecasted to be 90 degrees? This has all the makings of a solid plan, right???)

I decided to start with the spindles and do the whole outside of the deck first and then move to the inside, saving the decking for last (because as I recall, that was the easiest part and I would be tired...or maybe just sick of doing what I was doing... by the time I got to that).

The spindles were easy and the work enjoyable (for the first side and a half) -- I felt like I was accomplishing something, it wasn't hot out yet, the deck was looking great.

Then friends called to see what I was doing and if I wanted to go out to lunch (which I couldn't because I was working!) and the deck work seemed to lose much of its charm. 

By the time I got to the decking, I was really tired and sick of working on this project.  I was disappointed that it was taking much more time than I thought it would.  And to top it all off....the deck sealant was looking streaky on the decking.  And when I thought I was almost done, I realized I hadn't done the stairs yet.

So why am I telling you this story?  Do you recognize yourself in any of these sentences?

Humans underestimate the time it is going to take to complete projects -- especially the ones we don't really want to do in the first place.  With something like my deck, I could have done part of it and saved the other part for another day or I could have waited until the weather was cooler and perhaps that would have made it more enjoyable (even though I normally don't mind doing that kind of work). 

The other wonderful thing about many of us is that we also underestimate how unpleasant a job is going to be -- the old "It'll be fine" mentality.  And as much as I really do like that optimism, certain tasks are unpleasant and the rose-colored glasses prevent us from seeing potential situations that might trip us up so that we can plan for them.  (like putting a water bottle outside so when I was had messy hands from the sealant, I could still get a drink because it was 90 out).

I don't have a genius solution these seeming problem -- especially when it comes to people who have a lot of weight to lose -- many of us fall in to these same patterns of playing until we can't stand it anymore, freaking out about our current situation and lack of time to deal with it, and then getting to work to lose the weight but getting frustrated because it is much harder and takes longer than we planned on having to deal with it.

The best suggestion I have is to be aware that this is a pretty solid trend in many people.  It's not good or bad, it just is.  If you start to understand that, then it won't be such a slap in the face when you realize you're not having that much fun anymore just trying to get the weight off.  And most important -- you can keep working (even though you are uncomfortable) because once you get done your "deck" will look great and you won't have to worry about tackling that project any more.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Helm

The following is a thought I ran across this morning.  It came from Productiveflourishing and was specifically talking about something else but ... like so many other thoughts I come across, I find this one too apropos to not pass it along to you.

"Rather than running around the ship worrying about what will happen, grab the helm and get it through the storm.

p.s. It’s okay to run around the ship for a bit, just as it’s okay to let it coast. The point is to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it."

You can't sail a ship one day, let it drift for the next and expect to get where your going by the third if it is a three day trip under sail.  Auto pilot doesn't get you to your weight loss goals -- it gets you to your current weight.  Don't worry about your weight -- grab the helm and get through the storm.
Photo credit: MackieKLew via Productiveflourishing