Friday, June 29, 2012

Do something Friday

Plan the perfect eating day.

Ok -- I try to stay away from "perfect" as a goal -- but this one's going to be a little different.  Perfect meaning you're going to eat only what appeals to you.  No counting calories -- fat grams -- vitamin content.  If you could do that, what would you eat?

Small portions are the key here.  You CAN have what ever you want but small, slow, and savor is going to be your mantra.

No one gains weight in one day (real weight anyway -- we're not talking about water weight here).

Just repeat after me: small, slow, savor.  Own your behaviors this weekend.  Make your choices based on what is going to bring you the most satisfaction.  Choose mindfully.  And ENJOY!  Life's too short to do anything else!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A trick to get you where you want to be

HERE’S THE MENTAL TRICK: To make better decisions, imagine your life one year from now. From that perspective, look back on where you are now and think about how you wish you would have handled your current situation. --Don Miller


Where do you want to be in a year?  I bet you have a great idea of what you'd like to see.  Now think about the most amazing piece or plate full of (insert your most loved food here).

How's that piece or plate full eating experience stack up against your desire for that outcome next June?  I'm guessing it could be the best eating experience in the world but you could be happy with a third or less of it if you were guarenteed you'd be in the place you want to be next June.

Interesting thing about this mental trick?  If you use it -- you will be where you want to be next June.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Matching Motivations

Not too long ago, I came across an idea that totally rocked my world!

BJ Fogg developed this behavior change model -- which in essence says:

Motivation levels for behavior change fluctuate (probably from minute to minute).
When motivation is high, do difficult things.
When motivation is low, do less difficult things (but still do something!).

So -- that means on New Year's Eve, instead of swearing off resolutions, we should make them and then ACT on them.  So if your resolution is to get fit in the New Year -- that is the time to sign up for a trainer (motivation is high so the ability to act --find a trainer, schedule and pay for your training package -- will be greater).

That way, when January 2 rolls around (and motivation is lower), the appointment with the trainer is already set and it will take more work to back out of it.

When you're motivated to become more aware of your snacking behaviors -- that is the time to put all your snacks in a tub with a lid on a garage shelf.  Then, as motivation wanes and you find yourself craving a snack, it is going to be more work to get one.  The additional work it takes to get that snack from the garage may be just enough that you'll find you don't really want the snack THAT much.

How is your motivation today?  If it's high, do something...right now! that will help you make positive changes later in the day (like send a text to your family telling them you are cooking a meal tonight and you are all going to sit down at the table and eat together).  If it's low right now, pick one small thing you can do (like get rid of all the change in your desk drawer so you can't hit the vending machine this afternoon).

The key, no matter how much motivation you have at any given moment, is there are things (big or small) you can do to move you ahead on your goal -- just don't do nothing!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Remember why you're doing what you're doing

Ever get on a roll, driving home from work or whatever, and when you get there, you wonder how it happened?  That always freaks me out!  It makes me wonder how many stoplights I actually ran and people I cut off.  Yikes!

And although, I assume many of you would be perfectly content to throw on a pair of pants one day and have them fall off with no actually memory of how you lost all that weight in the first place, I'm pretty sure few of you are going to be that lucky.

That being said, I've been wondering how many of us get into the groove of "I've got to lose weight" without really assessing whether or not you really do.

Sure, we talk about health reasons for managing weight -- why a person would think that taking "just one" diabetes pill a day is a more reasonable solution to manage their blood sugar than losing  15 pounds and taking no pills -- I don't know.

Health considerations aside -- most of the reasoning I hear for weight management is aesthetically driven.  And again, I'm fine with "how we look" being the reason we set out on this kind of journey.


What if we're just ASSUMING we need to lose weight?

What if we're always going to be  5 pounds away from happy?

What if we never learn that losing weight can make life easier in many ways but it won't solve the problems?

For example:  in the "losing the 15 pounds so you can go off your diabetes medication" -- it isn't the weight loss that drove those results -- it altering the behaviors that caused you to gain the weight in the first place.

And my point is this:  If you're struggling with practicing a more restrained and mindful eating style...if you're struggling with increasing your activity level...if you're making the changes you need to make but it's hard and you're not seeing the weight fall off like you'd like it to....

Don't give up.  Be happy now -- not 5 pounds from now.  Know that as you're working through this process, you are making yourself healthier and more fit.  The weight loss will come but the increased health is here right now.  And perhaps that can be enough....for right now.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Do something Friday ... the FourthMeal

I just came across Taco Bell's Fourth Meal campaign.  Maybe it's time for us to start voting with our dollars.

Here's the thing:  We don't know very much about what drives obesity.  Yes, we know our portion sizes have grown (and so have our waistlines).  Yes, we know high fat, high sugar, high salt food have similar brain stimulation patterns as cocaine.  Yes, we know there are a number of hormones that work together to drive our hunger, satiety, fat accumulation, etc.  What we don't know is how all of these components (and many more work together).

We also know a couple really important things:

We can't keep eating what ever we want whenever the whim strikes us without eventually gaining weight.

Behaviors associated with weight gain are the same behaviors associated with diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, (and I could go on but hopefully you get the picture).

Food companies (i.e. Big Food -- just like Big Tobacco and Big Pharma) make money by helping us believe:
Large portion sizes of low quality food for relatively small amounts of money is a good thing.


  • If we are chemically driven (think addiction) to eat their foods -- they make money.  The more we can't help but eat their food, the more money they make.
  • Food companies won't help you.
  • The government can't help you.
  • You are the only one who is actually in charge of what you put into your mouth.
So back to the Taco Bell Fourth Meal...

The tag line for the ad is:
"You're out.  You're hungry. You're doing the Fourthmeal."

This is clever.  They're making it normal to eat because your out and because your hungry.  Not both -- it could be one or the other.  You're out....better go get some food....can't ride in the car without eating something.  Or... you're hungry...don't wait until you get home (you know -- in 30 minutes) ... you have the ability to stop feeling the tiniest bit hungry -- better do that right now!  Before you starve to death while you're driving!!!

Are either of these ideas going to benefit you?  Nope -- I don't think so -- I think they're only helpful to Taco Bell...and McDonald's...and Subway (yes, yes, I know Subway's supposed to be healthier -- but if you're eating when you're not hungry or just because you're out, this is not the best choice for you).

When you eat at Taco Bell, you are literally funding this ad campaign.  You are creating the world you live in -- right now with your lunch choices, dinner choices, vending machine choices.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." -- what's your plan for doing that this weekend?


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Leaving Kansas

I was investigating the site I referenced yesterday (no link this time -- too much foul language for many of you) and the author used the idea of Leaving Kansas as a way to think about our comfort zones.

I love the thought!  (and how many times have I actually said "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!" when I've ended up someplace strange and uncomfortable?  Happens all the time!)

So let's talk about your personal Kansas.

It's easy to know where you fit in the world when you're world's small.  When you're comfortable, you don't look around wonderin' what else is out there.  Wonderin' always leads to some form of discomfort because you're going beyond what you already know.

Mindfulness is taking a walk outside of Kansas.  It's looking at things you've only ever assumed you've seen but haven't really looked at in a long time (or ever).  And when this happens, when we start to get uncomfortable? Our instinct is to stop dead in our tracks, do a quick 180 spin, and run full tilt straight back to the place we feel most safe (read: comfortable).

If you actually give into this almost overwhelming desire to be comfortable, you'll never change.  You'll never grow.  You'll never learn to manage your weight successfully -- because if it were comfortable, you'd already have done it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I love Eleanor Roosevelt quotes about facing fear! 

I know for myself, fear plays a huge motivating role in my life --sometimes more than others -- fear is the thing that pushes me into action and fear is sometimes what keeps me from action.

Fear is a primal emotion -- put there and honed over the milena to protect us.

However, when fear goes awry, we can get trapped in behaviors that are no longer helpful and can be downright hurtful.

The other day I happened upon this post (***beware -- LOTS of swearing in this one!) and it got me thinking about what I fear.  Unlike the author from the post above, I'm not going to share my fears here (well ...except the one that I'm afraid of public ridicule for things I'm afraid of) and I don't think it's necessarily imperative that fears need to be acknowledged in a public forum.  What I do think is important is to give some of our valuable time to understanding what it is we fear.

Because our fears are such powerful drivers of our behaviors, if we don't understand what fear feels like -- all the small feelings we seek to avoid -- we'll never get to the bottom of where many of our negative eating habits come from.

Eating is one of the ways we block out our fears.  Eating (and planning what we're going to be eating, with whom and when) can be an absorbing activity -- ever noticed that  as a side effect of being on a diet?

Eating allows us to block out the uncomfortable fear feelings:

of rejection -- or potential rejection

of loss -- or our potential of loss

of failure -- or our potential to fail


But when we don't understand what specific fear is driving us to eat, we can't deal with the fear.  We only deal with the eating part, which is a symptom -- not the root cause of our problem.

So here's my challenge to you:

Write down every one of your fears (on paper!).  And then spend some time paying attention to see which of those fears routinely sending you running to the nearest vending machine, refrigerator, fast food outlet, etc.

Need help getting started with your list?  How about your first fear being:

Afraid to list all my fears on paper because I am not sure I want to deal with them


Monday, June 18, 2012

Thought for the Day....

Pinned Image

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every eperience in which you really stop to look fear in the face...Do the thing you think you cannot do. --Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, June 15, 2012

Do something Friday

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet".  And food, by any other name, would have as many calories.

What happens if you change what you call soda to "liquid candy"?

What if you renamed doughnuts, muffins, and coffee cake to "breakfast candy"?

Would you feel okay about eating one (or 12)?

I read the phrase "liquid candy" in relation to soda last week (in this article about New York limiting the size of soda it's restaurants can sell) and it's been rattling around my brain for a few days.

A lot of our behaviors require justification.  How many times do you find yourself saying things like "I deserve this XYZ because I ..... (worked out, had a bad day, was good all weekend, ....fill in the blank)"?

One thing about becoming more mindful -- it gives you the opportunities to hear just exactly how many times and in what circumstances we justify our behavior.

Have you EVER found yourself justifying the desire to eat an apple, salad, or piece of broiled fish?  I bet not!  --and mostly because you think they are somehow "more healthy".

Whether they are or not is not the point.  The point is the instant you hear yourself start to justify your behavior, that should be the signal to STOP what you're doing and take the time to DECIDE if you want to continue in the behavior your contemplating (or not).

Start paying attention to what that voice is telling you -- it may be working AGAINST you -- not FOR you.  (but you'll never know until you start being more mindful of what it's saying to you!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

For those of you frustrated with this!

Weight management can take the nicest, smartest, and most successful people and turn them into angry, anxiety-ridden, depressed people.  And then what?  They're either successful in losing weight (so they can feel successful again) or they're not (in which case they sometimes get even more mean to themselves, anxious, and depressed).

But what's the alternative?  Compassion.  Compassion for your body and compassion for your soul.

Think that's not going to solve the problem?  Read this (with an eye for everything you do for others should be done for yourself) and then think again!

Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world's resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, "It's the economy, stupid," Based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, "It's the lack compassion, stupid."

James Doty is a researcher at Stanford who specializes in compassion research (who knew you could do that, right?)  He just wrote an article for the Huffington Post that is worth the time you spend to read (and think about) it.

But just in case you don't, here are some of the article's high points:

  • One particularly telling survey showed that 25% of Americans have no one that they feel close enough with to share a problem. That means that one in four people that you meet has no one to talk to and it is affecting their health. Steve Cole from UCLA, a social neuro-genetics scientist, has shown that loneliness leads to a less healthy immune stress profile at the level of the gene -- their gene expression makes them more vulnerable to inflammatory processes which have been shown to have negative effects on health. Research by expert well-being psychologists Ed Diener and Martin Seligman indicates that social connectedness is a predictor of longer life, faster recovery from disease, higher levels of happiness and well-being, and a greater sense of purpose and meaning. One large-scale study showed that lack of social connectedness predicts vulnerability to disease and death above and beyond traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, obesity and lack of physical activity.
Often, clients struggling with weight issues tell me they feel isolated and alone.  They feel cut off from the community that surrounds them and they end up feeling judged by that community.

I do recognize the world is a very judgmental place, but I also wonder if sometimes, the judgment my clients feel is their own judgment against themselves.  They don't feel they "should" look the way they do and maybe they end up attributing that feeling to others judging them.

I have written before about how we often treat ourselves in ways that we would NEVER treat our friends.  We treat our friends with COMPASSION.  Why don't we think WE are worthy of compassion from ourselves??

Maybe compassion's is the missing ingredient to improving your own health and weight management success -- would it be worth working on then???

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's never too late

It you've ever been to the blog (as opposed to getting the email delivered to you directly), hopefully, you've seen:

"The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time is today!" 

The great thing about the body is its amazing ability to adapt.  Lose as few as 5 pounds and a person's blood pressure can decrease significantly. (taking you from needing meds to not needing meds...honestly, I've seen it happen....5 pounds!)

Those same 5 pounds means your body will be more insulin sensitive.  (Less diabetic?  Who doesn't want that?!)

Go for a stroll and come back with less muscular tension.  (going through half a bottle of Motrin a week because your job is stressful is much better than eating the whole bottle!)

There will always be reasons to put off difficult changes.  There won't be a better time to start this process.  Maybe the amount you can tackle would be larger at some other time -- but you're making 250 food choices a day -- there's plenty of room to make a few just different enough to start seeing results!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stevia -- the Holy Grail of Sweeteners?

In the last couple weeks, I've been getting a lot of questions about the sweetener Stevia.  Is is natural?  How does it effect blood sugar? Is it the perfect alternative to sugar in light of the "sugar is toxic" debate that is now raging?

Marion Nestle, of Food Politics, recently put together this post.  If you're interested in Stevia being the solution to your desire for your insatiable urge to eat sweet, it is worth your time to check the whole post out.

Here are some highlights:
  • Stevia is extracted from leaves with ethanol.  Whether this process can be considered natural is currently under debate in Europe.
  • A class action lawsuit filed in California this week argues that steviol glycosides should not be considered natural, owing to the “chemical processing” sometimes used to extract them from the stevia leaf.
But here's something to keep in mind -- people marketing stevia aren't doing so to help you be healthier. 

They are trying to sell you this stuff because they want to make MONEY. 

That's not a moral issue with me -- I like capitalism -- just keep it in mind because it will help you assess their marketing a little more critically (as well you should).

And as always, I'll end with my perspective -- which is:  If it's worth eating, it should be worth taking the caloric hit.

Do you really want your sweets to have an aftertaste you have to get used to? 

Do you really want to reinforce the idea that you can eat and eat and eat and not worry about whether your hungry or not because you assume you can't gain weight on something that doesn't have calories? 

Maybe you won't gain weight on that particular food -- but you are definitely teaching yourself some bad habits that are going to have you over consuming foods with calories in them too.  Are those the habits you want to keep teaching yourself? 

I'm just sayin'.....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rejection -- wise words from Ishita

From time to time, Ishita, over at Fear.Less sends out an email.  This one I thought was particularly on point for anyone who's been stopped dead in their tracks in their weight management attempts due to fear of rejection.

I have seen a lot of weight bias in my work (both from "healthy" weight AND "non-healthy" weight individuals.  And one of things most of us have in common is fear of being rejected.  So even though the subject matter isn't exactly Mindful Eating related, it is showing us how to become more mindful of how we handle (and could handle) situations where we may be rejected.

(As Ishita says in the opening paragraph, her post is a little long.  I did edited it a little to highlight the points I thought were most relevant to us)

Here's Ishita...

For three months now, I've been taking a course called Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts Mastery - hands down the best personal investment I've ever made. We explore womanhood, acting on our desires, and all things sensual, business, life. I love that we get tossed headfirst into uncomfortable situations that reveal personal truths. Like learning about rejection by getting rejected a bunch of times. 
Last Sunday we had to go out onto the streets of New York City and in ten minutes, grab a man to bring back to the program. My default thought was "Well, that's stupid," but the point was to look rejection square in the face, figure out the right story to tell, and hardest of all, ask New Yorkers for a few minutes of time.

Personally, I don't have a huge problem being "rejected." Maybe because as a kid who didn't know better, I did lots of things that ended in embarrassment and somehow carried this into adulthood. I don't care so much what people think of me and my core remains intact. Still, my idea of fun isn't trying to get a "Yes" out of New Yorkers trained to say No.

So they yell "Go!" and all of a sudden I feel three things: Fear because I wonder, "Am I really doing this?", excitement because I look and feel great, confusion because I wonder what I'll say on the street. I look around - other women are feeling the same way.

Without thinking, I hit the streets. It helps that I feel good about myself. Now what's left is the approach. I search for a good looking man and focus on having fun instead of the fear that's easily within reach.

I find a man near the subway and ask him if he's in a hurry and if he has ten minutes to spare. He looks confused. I tell him about our course - 200 ladies doing pleasure research. Bewildered, he asks me three times, "What's the catch?" "No catch," I say, "Just that you may end up having fun if you take a leap of faith." I keep it light, funny, honest. He's not sure what to do and I realize I had no idea what a fluster a pretty lady could cause. He tells me to find him in ten minutes and I reply, "I'll be back in five with someone else" so he should decide quickly. He's shocked. I laugh (at the situation not him) and walk away.

I then proceed to ask five or six men who each say "No" due to work or running late. Some look intrigued, others regretful, others just walk by fast. I don't lose heart but start to feel myself get pissed. "It's only five minutes!" I think, rejection rearing it's head. I catch myself. I know if I unleash negative energy, things will get messy. So I slow down and know that what I put out is what will come in. I smile, at myself more than anything else, get centered and start feeling good again. I focus on how great a guy will feel when I tell him he's made my day by agreeing to come back with me. I walk into a Radio Shack and out with Dan. Dan, who's co-worker was so intrigued she covered for him while he checked out this "research." Dan turned out to be a nice guy from my hometown, Detroit. We walk to the hall.

That's the relevant part of the story for now. The lead up to Dan entering a situation he had no clue about because I risked getting rejected.

Rejection is a funny thing. It magnifies emotions like insecurity and fear to a point of discomfort because it's not easy (or enjoyable) to hear "No" over and over again. What I kept coming back to was "So what?" So what if they say No? So what if you have to keep switching up your approach? So what if you're in a situation you wouldn't ordinarily choose to be in?

I learned new things about rejection from this exercise, you can read them below. But the most important lesson was that rejection's really not as bad as we think.

More Lessons:

1.) There's no way around rejection.  We'll all face it many times in our lives, so why not learn to deal with rejection now before we turn into panicked fools later on. I say bring it.

2.) You'll feel worse if you don't do the thing that might get you rejected. Had I not done this exercise, I would have felt much worse about my inability to confront rejection than embarrassed about actually doing it. If I didn't deal with it, I'd be restless and fearful when it showed up again in my life. And it will show up again! Even if you want to do something that guarantees some type of rejection, I say do it. Every successful person goes through heartbreaking struggle to achieve their goals, so if you're in this space, trust it and keep going.

3.) Know that rejection is not personal.  If I took the fact that people on the street had meetings and work personally, it would have been silly, right? But we take rejection personally all the time when often it has nothing to do with us - it's more about what's happening in the other person's head so best to take our self out of it.

4.) A deadline helps. A lot. Ten minutes was all I needed (or wanted) for this exercise. Any more time and I would have thought myself right out of it.

5.) Find a purpose for rejection.  Put something purposeful behind your rejection. Like learning about yourself, meeting a challenge, expanding your boundaries, or facing fears. Beyond taking the sting out of rejection, this will also make you less attached to the outcome.


8.) Once you do it, you'll feel relief.  If you've avoided and run away from rejection too many times, you now have permission to own up and face it. Sometimes when you just have to face something, you get relief from knowing there's no way out. Don't freak out about the results, just put yourself out there and know that all of this is training and all of this is learnable.

10.) Rejection isn't easy, but it's much easier in community  Because I knew other ladies were out there taking similar risks, it made the entire task safer and I was more able to stick it out, fail, try hard, and ultimately succeed. A potentially heinous Sunday turned into a fun afternoon.



From walking out on the street when you feel you're not "in shape" enough to telling your family you're embarking on (another) weight management attempt -- opportunities to feel rejection abound.  How we handle that potential negative feeling plays a huge roll in how successful we will be in our next attempt (or whether we'll be brave enough to start at all!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I need your help! Any takers?

Hi, all!  I am working on a new presentation about sedentary behavior (lots of good research coming out on cardiometebolic markers and acute sedentary behavior -- neat stuff!).  To help me get a better understanding of how people are spending their time, I'm looking for a few of you to help me out.

If you have a few extra minutes, I would super appreciate it if you could help me figure out how much time you all spend moving -- not exercising, just moving.

So -- if you're interested, Click here  and download Laura VanderKam's neat time management spreadsheet.   You'll notice that each day is divided into 30 minute increments.  Each time you move throughout the day (trips to the break room, bathroom, cleaning the house, trips to the fridge or laundry room, etc) write down how many minutes you spent "not sitting" in each of those time frames.

Please keep in mind, we are not tracking exercise -- just any amount of time you are doing something other than sitting (or laying) down.

Then, if you can save your spreadsheet and email it to me (, I will compile the data to be used for the presentation.  (don't worry!  I won't use any of your spreadsheets with your name on it as an example!)

Thanks, in advance, to all of you willing to take the time to help me out!  And special thanks to Laura and her very insightful and well-researched book 168 Hours: you have more time than you think .
I read it last summer and I learned a ton!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Thought for the Day...

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, June 1, 2012

Do something Friday

"We are not afraid to dream as children; as adults, however, we grow timid. We let our need for success supplant the need to follow our bliss, calling, passion, or dream.

As our practical side takes over, we stop dreaming. Instead, we settle. We get stuck in a rut. Unfortunately, the only difference between a rut and a coffin are the dimensions." --LaRae Quy

Mindfulness is all about getting out of your box.  Pay attention to the way your food tastes.  You're eating it because you assume it tastes good -- but does it really?

You eat because you assume you're hungry -- but are you really?

You chose the low-fat version because you assume it's better for you -- but is it? (science is starting to rethink the low-fat model -- what other food choices would you gladly make if you found out the full-fat version would actually help you maitain better weight control?  This idea is gaining ground --stay tuned!)

This weekend -- explored your eating habits.  Are you stuck in a rut?  Is that rut actually killing you??