Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shared sacrifice

I usually try to steer clear of the word sacrifice.  When it comes to eating behaviors, sacrifice is a pretty charged word.  However, I just read this post from Modern Meeting Standard.  The subject matter of that blog is all about organizational change -- which really isn't what we talk about here.....or is it?

Organizations are nothing but a group of people with a common mission, right?  Keep that in mind as you read:

Organizations that desperately need to change often don’t because it forces only some to make sacrifices.

The logic is sound: let’s try to negatively impact the least number of people we can in order to minimize suffering.

Unfortunately, the most rational solution doesn’t always work. The perception of unfairness can act as a roadblock to progress.

So if staff have to limit their expenses, maybe management should too.

If Dad and son have high cholesterol, maybe Mom and Sis should join in on salad-only dinners too.

If the team is truly committed to the mission, to achieving something great together, shared sacrifice is not only a nice thing to do, it’s essential. The key is creating a culture and mission worthy of sacrifice.

If you think about the need to change (and alter some behaviors that aren't working for you), something's gonna have to go.  Sacrifice doesn't necessarily mean awful -- it just means letting go.  And maybe you should encourage your eating partners to share in this behavior change too.  It will help you to have the support and may ultimately improve their quality of life too!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Too much stuff!

Saturday, I had to go on a big, late night sorting jag. What started out as a simple task lead to a complete ah-ha moment.....I had too much stuff.

"How," you may ask, "did you realize you had too much stuff?"  Well, let me tell you.... My house isn't tiny and I have ample storage space, and it was much too difficult to take care of all the stuff I was trying to take care of.

There are number of ways to handle too much stuff.  One way is to build more storage.  Another way it to stop caring how difficult it is to put stuff away (I only use that stuff a couple times a year, anyway, right?  Just deal with the discomfort when I have to). Or....I can get rid of some stuff.  Deal with it in any manner and...viola!  Problem solved.

The interesting thing about these options it that none of them are right or wrong.  Chances are, when you think about your stuff, one option sounds more appealing that the others.  That is your go to solution.  We all have go-to solutions -- it allows us to navigate life more efficiently.  (Much the same way many of us park in the same area of the parking lot everyday.  It allows us to find out car more easily and frees up the brain space it takes to remember where we put it)

The question is -- is that your solution for your weight? 

Do you buy larger clothes?  Do you not worry about it most of the time (until you are getting ready to go to a party, wedding, or funeral)? 

Is it time to deal with the root issue and get rid of those bites that aren't meaningful?  You know the ones...the ones you could leave uneaten and you really wouldn't miss.  The last two bites of ice cream in your bowl.  The third cookie.  The last forkful of dinner off the kid's plate as you're clearing the table.

Those are the bites that don't matter -- find 'em, get 'em out of your mouth.  You'll be happier and healthier because of it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thought for the Day...

Fuel yourself. Drink much more water. Eat the best food you can afford. Never settle for food. Celebrate it. (Sometimes, greasy beach pizza is the celebration.) --Chris Brogan

Friday, November 25, 2011

Retrospective look at Mindfulness

How'd you do sticking to your plan for yesterday?  (do you even remember making the plan?)

Take some time to WRITE DOWN a couple things you did really well.  Yes....there really are at least several.  Keep that paper handy for the next month.  It can be the basis for your Holiday Eating Plan of Attack!

Then right down one thing you would like to change next time you have a holiday event that involves food (don't they all?).  This can be your opportunity for growth.

The goal is to increase your awareness so you can make a few (highly impactful) positive choices.  This will allow you to gracefully navigate your holiday eating for the next month....and beyond!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today, I am thankful I have a warm home, plenty to eat, and loved ones to share both with.

Today, I will sit down at my table and eat food prepared by those I love.  My blessings come not from the fuel for my body (although I am thankful for this) but the love I feel which fuels my soul.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do something Wednesday

Okay, people -- it's time to make a plan for tomorrow.  If you're like many people around here, you're already starting to get stressed about eating tomorrow.....or at least that is the way people are phrasing it to me.

Actually, they aren't really worried about eating tomorrow -- they're worried about gaining a bunch of weight tomorrow (which isn't really likely) and possibly, they are worried about tomorrow being the kick off to an eating fest for the next 4 weeks.

Here are a couple things to remember as you make you're plan.

1.  Be realistic -- if you love dessert, it's unrealistic to tell yourself you're not going to have any.  A better option would be to use a small dessert plate and not go back for seconds.

2.  Feeling guilty is a choice (and a waste of energy!).  Use that energy and power of choice to make the smarter decision of eating only until you are comfortable.

3.  Even though turkey is "low fat", if that's what makes you feel too full -- you've still overeaten!  Someone made the point today that he eats turkey all year -- no celebration in that!  You don't have to eat the turkey if you don't love it!  Leave that room for something you love to eat and can't get very often.

4.  Lighten up!  Thanksgiving is about being thankful.  It's very hard to be grateful for your blessing if you're bemoaning any part of the day that lets you spend time with people you like! 

5.  Buck up.  Be sensible.  Pay attention to what your body is telling you.  It's one meal.  They are all just one meal.  Take 'em one at a time and get the greatest amount of satisfaction you can in the least amount of calories --- you'll do just fine!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wanted: The Perfect Plan

I just read an interesting NY Times article about how too much information can be a barrier for novice runners.  The first bit that struck me was:

"That response is an indication, exercise researchers say, of two things: how hard it is for someone who is not used to running to suddenly take up the sport; and how unnecessarily complicated advice about running has become as “experts” battle over shoes and running form and training programs."

That got me thinking that even though I love the volume of information now available on an infinite number of subjects -- many common-sensical things are getting lost in the noise.  It seems unlikely now for people to embark on any kind of fitness, diet, or other health improvement without trying to seek out the golden Perfect Plan.

The big problem with that is:  The Perfect Plan doesn't exist.  It seems to me that the search for The Perfect Plan gives you some activity to undertake (the search for The Perfect Plan), which will ultimately fail (because it doesn't exist in the first place) so that you can then say you "tried" to make the said fitness, diet, or other health behavior change ---- without actually putting all that energy into DOING THE WORK OF CHANGING.

"Not my fault," you can honestly say (to yourself but I won't believe it).  "I tried.  This just wasn't The Perfect Plan for me."

Set your sights a tad lower.  You don't need The Perfect Plan.  You just need a Good Enough Plan For Today (FEPT).  A FEPT expires at the end of the day -- so sure, you're going to have to actually get another for tomorrow -- but it has the significant advantage of constantly being fresh and applicable to the circumstances you find yourself it.  They're just so "Now!"

“You have to be more patient than anything you have heard or read about,” Dr. Raglin said. “People are indoctrinated with what they can achieve in a short time with a little bit of work. But the reality is very different.” 

This is advice that, in the article, was meant for those who wanted to start running -- but I think it is applicable across the board -- weight loss, raising a well-adjusted child, creating a career, pretty much anything you think is worth doing is going to take much longer than you think it will (or want it to).

That's no excuse not to start!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Do something Friday

"The left hemisphere gives names to objects in order to reduce and simplify them. One nose is like another, for example, so when we're asked to draw one, we retrieve the symbol we have for "nose" from our memory, reproduce it and move on.

The right hemisphere, by contrast, is visual rather than verbal. It's capable of seeing more deeply and subtly than the left, immersing itself in what's actually there, in all its richness." --The Energy Project

Think about this -- we have successfully reduced one of the most complex social, biological, and personal experiences (eating), down to a set of numbers to be manipulated.

We've traded taste for calories.

We now run away from fat and toward anything labeled "Baked".

We eat out of paper bags, while we're driving, routinely.

We spend hours and hours watching Food Network stars preparing beautiful, delicious foods -- but we won't take the time to actually practice these arts.

We've sucked the creativity and joy out of eating.

And then we reinforce this behaviour by allowing ourselves (and yes, this is an active choice we make!) to feel guilty about what we just ate if we weren't "good enough".

It's time to get over that!  It's not working!!  How many times have you been on a diet only to end up here reading this blog???

It's time to starting training the other side of your brain.  The creative side that can make something delicious and satisfying from simple ingredients.

It's time to start thinking about how those baked chips taste (sawdust, anyone?)  And how the fat-laden ones taste too?  (are they really as good as you think they are? -- do they stop tasting good because you eat too many without thinking?)

It's time to start cooking so you can connect with the food you eat on an emotional level.  Find some table companions who will go on this journey with you.  Start using meal time as a chance to relax and connect with people you love -- not just as time to multi-task and get yourself to the next appointment or soccer practice.

I'm not talking about remaking your whole life by tomorrow (or chaining yourself to the kitchen).  That's not my style!  I'm talking about preparing one meal this week with the intention of sitting down and tasting that food.  Of having your house smell like home.

Of reclaiming your creative brain.  There are better, more effective ways to solve our weight problems!!  We just need to create them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Winds are shifting

Hi, readers!  I've been mulling this over in my head for a while and just wanted to give you a heads up.  Over the next couple months, the Eating Coach blog is going to be going through some transition.  Many of you may not know that I have been working really hard here at Borgess (or at least my little part of Borgess) to change the way we use social media to reach out to you all.

This blog has actually been serving a dual purpose of educating y'all on the principles of  Mindful Eating while it offered me a little test kitchen to see how social media works.  I appreciate all the time, attention, and support you've offered me since I started writing here (just under a 800 posts ago!)

Here's the thing:  mindful eating is just one piece of the puzzle to being a happier, healthier you (and me).  There are lots of other equally important pieces that don't get a lot of attention and I think you deserve to hear about them too. 

Much like the rest of you, your eating behaviors are tied into stress management, self esteem, what's going on at work, the behaviors you learned growing up, your activity levels, etc.  and I think it is important to start taking a look at those behaviors too.  Maybe there are some small changes we can make that will help you be mindful in some other aspect of your life!

So, I hope you'll stick with me through this transition.  Keep your comments coming and I hope you enjoy the additional scope the blog is taking on!

And as always, thanks for your support!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why embrace change....

Because change is going to happen whether you want it to or not. 

If you're status quo is gaining weight -- you need to change your behaviors -- behaviors are what got you to the weight you are.  Or, if your not going to not change your behaviors --your weight will be what keeps changing.

I'm shocked at how many people just don't understand the change principle.  You can fight it if you want.  Argue with it.  Not like it.  Complain about it.  Whatever.  Change doesn't need your input -- it's rolling already.

You, however, may want to put your own spin on change.  Maybe you want to change direction.  Maybe you want to control the speed.  Those options are open to you (sometimes, at least).

I'm sorry you don't like it.  (and I honestly, mean it!  I don't always like change either) But whether I like it or not has very little bearing on what needs to be done.  You're not going to be able to reason or argue you way out of change.  AND you're wasting precious time and energy when you try to....  (who has so much energy that they can waste it??  --not me or pretty much anyone I have ever met!)

So pick a direction.  Decide what change you can deal with, pick up that ball, and move it along.  (You don't really have a choice).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November is NaNoWriMo

November is NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.  Weird, huh?  It is a month where people challenge themselves to write a whole novel starting 1Nov and finishing before midnight on 30 Nov.  1667 words per day. 

The interesting thing about this is -- if you want to succeed in getting that much down on paper, you have to let it all hang out for 30 days.  You have to ignore your inner critic because there's barely just enough time in the month to write -- there won't be time to rewrite.  And there sure won't be time to spend any time stuck on a blank page (fear of not being "good enough" is a usual cause of writers block).  Actually...fear the cause of much of the inaction and non-decision making I see everyday.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is all about getting your novel born -- not to create the next best seller in 30 days.  Stellar quality and cohesiveness aren't what participants are striving for.  Their goal is to practice ignoring Lizzie and get something done in 30 days.

Great goals! 

What if we took that approach with our weight management?  What if, instead of undertaking the pursuit of perfection, we set our sights on practicing mindfulness for EVERY bite that went into our mouths for the next 30 days?  What would it take to make that happen? yourself.  A willingness to know that the way you accomplish this task might not be pretty (and it certainly won't be sustainable) and that you will make a lot of mistake but also improve EVERYDAY! 

You may learn that sometime it is important to get a volume of practice under you belt before you expect to see the results.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thought for the Day....

Plans are great.

But missions are better. Missions survive when plans fail, and plans almost always fail. --Seth Godin

Friday, November 11, 2011

Do something Friday

Learning to manage your mind.

The holiday season is closing in and with it, the 400 commercial an hour designed to make kids want every toy under the sun.  Those toys you know your kid isn't going to play with -- they don't even like XYZ!  They just want it because marketers are genius at selling to kid.  And kids aren't old enough to be able to sort through the facts that they are being manipulated into wanting this over-priced piece of plastic that's going to break 2 minutes after they take it out of the package. (which probably isn't all that bad a thing considering the piece of plastic is only just about that interesting and even if it lasted longer, what are the chances the kid is going to play with it more than that anyway?)

But much different are we than the kids?  Oh!  Wait!  Except for the fact that we're older, probably have better access to credit, and can tell our parents to back off when they try to give us "great" advice, WE'RE NOT ANY DIFFERENT IN LOTS OF SITUATIONS!

We want what we want.  Even if we know it's not good for us.  Even if we know it is just going to distract us from our long term goals.  Especially, if the marketers have done a good job selling it to us.  WE JUST WANT IT!....NOW!

Last Friday, I told you it was time to get out your journals and start writing down everything that is going into your mouths. (don't worry -- just a couple weeks of can do it!)

This weekend, I want you to jot down why you are eating whatever it is you're eating.  I want you to start noticing how susceptible we all are to suggestion.  Last week one of my coworkers said she was picking up sushi for dinner -- for the rest of the week, I was craving sushi!

Dying for chips on the ride home?  Did you see a Lay's truck?  Or a billboard?  Commercial?

Sometimes, all it takes to diffuse a psychological desire to eat is to understand what initiated it.  And if you think about it -- how many of those desires lead to 200 calories here, 400 calories there?  Diffuse a couple of those situations and all the sudden your pants are going to fit quite a bit better.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Snob Diet

One of the great thing about getting my hair cut is the number of fluff magazines that abound.  These are mags I love to read but won't spend the time or money on normally because, most of the time, they're just too ....well....dumb.

Anyway, the other day, I was waiting my turn for the chair when the shop owner, Sherry, told me I HAD to read the article in this month's Glamour called The Snob Diet.  She is certain this is the way to lose weight!  Well, I gotta tell ya!  That's all it takes to pique my interest -- so...I opened up the mag she threw on my lap and started reading.

And what do ya know?!  I am a true believer that Glamour got this one right!

The Snob Diet consists of eating only those things that you truly want to eat.  No processed cheese food when what you really want is warm brie on crusty, fresh white baguettes.  No rice cakes when you really want old fashioned, popped in oil popcorn.  No salad when you're wishing for a hamburger with the works. 

Being a fashionista, the author wonders why we spend so much time worry about what we're going to wear on the outside but are willing to throw any ole garbage into the inside.

Obviously, with the freedom to eat whatever it is you really want, comes the responsibility to eat "just enough".  And just enough is the amount that is not too little (so that you're still hungry) and not too much (so that you've just stuffed yourself on that great food).

The idea is that if you're going to truly follow this lifestyle, it is going to take planning.  (If you love really good chocolate, you're not going to make any trips to the vending machine -- you don't really like the choices available there so you will avoid them as "not good enough").  And the food will taste so good, you will want to be mindful of every bite -- because you are enjoying the experience (not just hoping it will do the job).

So -- okay, I'm probably lovin' the snob diet because it's what we've been talking about for oh.....3 years now and everyone loves to be agreed with, right?  But I do want you to take the time to consider being a snob this holiday season.  Don't be afraid to turn your nose up at subpar offerings (metaphorically, of course!  No need to hurt someones feelings just because they didn't have time to make "from scratch").

If you think about it -- how many calories would you leave uneaten in a day if you were just a little bit more snobby about what's going in your mouth???

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where are you getting your information?

I love the blog Food Politics.  Marion Nestle talks about what's going on behind the scenes with food.  Sunday, an interesting point was made about "front-of-package" labelling.  The food corporations want to be able to put whatever they want onto the front of their packages -- you want to know why?

As Marion Nestle puts it: "Front-of-package labels are a tool for selling, not buying. They make highly processed foods look healthier."

Tools for selling.

And yet we sometimes forget that.

Milk - it does a body good.  -- maybe or maybe not...but you have to take it with a grain of salt if the Dairy Council (ie the people selling the milk) are telling you this.

Do you really think Pepsi Co., the company that makes Lays, cares if you choose the Baked variety or the regular?  I bet they don't.  Call me pessimistic but I think they just want your money -- they don't care about your health.

Here's the problem with the label reading we are all trying to get so good at:

Sometimes we take a shortcut and assume the conclusions that are reached on the front (ie easier to read) side of the packaging are actually true.  Just because something says it's healthier, doesn't necessarily mean it is.  And how disgruntled are you going to be when you figure out that all the time you've been eating rice cakes, Lean Cuisines, and baked chips, you could have been having snacks and meals that actually taste GREAT, leave you more satisfied, and put you in better health?

If you couldn't read anything about the food you were eating, it would all come down to how it tastes and how it makes you feel.  If it tastes great and leaves you fully satisfied, doesn't that seem like it would be a healthy choice?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chapters or Episodes

Chris Brogan just asked an interesting question to people who write blogs:

 Television shows are based on both models. In the “chapters” model, we get a little [piece] at the beginning of each episode. It says, “Previously, on ____.” Then, we get to see a few seconds that should remind us of whatever it was we saw last time we tuned in. In the episodes method, often used in sitcoms, everything seems to reset from whatever happens during the show by the time we get to the end.

This distiction got me thinking about how we view the changes we make to our eating habits.  Diets are more like episodes -- they have a distint beginning and end (usually sooner than we planned).  They usually follow the same plot line.... have you noticed?

Mindful eating is more like chapters.  Obviously, the story is longer and more well developed.  You get to know the main character (you) much better because there is more time for the story to develop.  You wake up in the morning and have the opportunity to assess how hungry you are -- that will be based on how much you ate the day before and how you timed your meals.  As you go through your day, the hunger (or lack of hunger) can continue to guide your eating pattern and the end of your evening isn't an end.  You wake up the next morning to do the same thing all over again.

Chris says, for bloggers, there is no "right" choice -- his point is that you need to understand what you're trying to accomplish.  I think the same is true for us.  If you have a specific purpose (like losing 100 pounds so you can have hip surgery), dieting is probably a really positive choice.  That specific of a goal requires some very specificly prescribed actions.

If you're trying to learn to manage your weight for the course of a lifetime or trying to gain an understanding of why and how you eat -- that is something that needs to be done over the course of time.  You won't be able to "get it" all in one neat little 30 minute episode  --  you're just too complex of a story :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thought for the Day...

When one approach is not working to reach the desired goal, that's not a reason to abandon the goal.  Instead, it is time to devise another approach." --Ralph Marston

Friday, November 4, 2011

Do something Friday

At the risk of freakin' myself out (I hate to look ahead too much because it makes the time pass too fast) -- we've officially started the holiday season.  What?!  Wait!!'s not even Thanksgiving yet?!'s the thing -- Thanksgiving is 2.5 weeks away.  So, if you want to be successful this year in effectively managing your weight through the holidays, the time to start is now.  (as in TODAY!)

Grab your journal (stack of scrap paper, post-its, old spiral bound notebook with 4 pages ripped out but your kids won't use it this year because it was from last year and they need NEW spirals this year).  It's time to get back to journalling (just until Thanksgiving Day) and reacquainting yourself with the Hunger/Fullness scale.

How is that 7 supposed to feel?

Do you feel the urge to eat every time to flip on the TV?  (you snack all season at home AND at all the parties you're going to attend!)

Are you all sugar-addicted from the 3 bags of Halloween candy you bought but then ate yourself so you had to go out and get more October 30th?

If you're going to enter the holiday season with poise (and pants that actually zip without making you cringe), it's time to start paying attention to what you feel when you're putting things into your mouth.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Composure versus Will-power

I like the idea of composure.  Heros and heroines in all exciting movies show composure -- even under the most adverse conditions.  Those ficticious people inspire me to be strive for composure in my life.

Nobody really wants to be that freakin' out person in the movies who loses it and needs to get slapped back into sanity, right?

So what if we started thinking about cultivating composure, instead of will-power, around our eating?  Would it change how you approach meals and snacks?  Would it lead you to make different decisions if you had that composed hero/heroine as your guide?

Would you chew a little slower?  Sit a little straighter (or sit instead of scarffing your food over the sink)?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Risk Management

1000 years ago, the amount of moves a peasant could take were limited. He understood the risk in his world well, but it isn’t because he was super smart. It’s because his world was small.

The world is now too big to understand how risky a single action can be. Still, some people are more adept at understanding risk than others.

Have you ever walked into a dinner party or restaurant and recognized that sick feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach?  The whole scary thought that there may be no "good" choice you can make.

Building off the conversation Julien started -- 1000 years ago, the only food risk was not having enough.  If food crossed your path, you ate it.  The risk you faced was starvation.

Now -- starvation really isn't a risk for a good many of us.  Actually, it's quite the opposite.  We are dying from over-consumption.  There is so much information out there that promises to help us reduce our risk -- but we can't take it all in.  And even if we could -- most if it is conflicting information.  That makes most of our eating choices seem "risky".

And yet...people navigate these choices all the time.  How?

Here's my opinion.

They listen to the feedback their own eating experience provide.  Feel stuffed and uncomfortable -- uncomfortable should be avoided -- stop eating sooner.

Feel so hungry by the time you get home that you're crabby to everyone that makes eye contact with you until you eat everything that's not nailed down?  Perhaps you should learn to plan better and not let yourself get that hungry.

Learn from your experiences -- and then implement a plan to keep you from repeating those unproductive patterns.  That's risk management!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Being a good neighbor

Julien just wrote a post about being a good neighbor -- both locally (helping a stranger with directions in his neighborhood) and globally (how we interact while we're on the web).  I've been thinking a lot about "local" lately -- both in the contexts of my FC and community "local" (Rob, from Gazelle, inspired me when he talked about how shopping at Gazelle allows Gazelle to sponsor tons of great event in my area....especially my FAV Girls on the Run).  Ooops...I digress.

Being a good neighbor....Julien says, "There’s something great about being asked to do your civic duty, either giving people directions or helping an old lady with her groceries. I have a feeling a lot of people like it. Yet in this society we are asked to do it less and less. This sense of duty and the muscle that accompany it are atrophying because we are rarely called upon to exercise it."

I completely agree with the sentiment.  It feels GREAT to put some good into the world!

What if you saw your civic duty as being a great example of healthy behaviors?  Parking further out in the lot.  Riding your bike sometimes.  Packing half of your restaurant portion into a takeout container before you even start eating.  And yes....mindfully making decisions about what tastes great (and eating that) and what doesn't (and NOT eating that).

What if you used the positive feelings you get from making the world a better place as the fuel to keep you moving on the mindful eating/ healthy weight path? 

I need you to lead by example, people!  Our world is getting unhealthier by the minute.  Leading causes of death are those related to the very easy lifestyle of little movement and lots of food.  You can make a difference today by acting on your intentions and being good neighbor!