Helping stressed-out professional women who are tired of sacrificing their health and happiness to a hectic schedule live bigger, richer, more fulfilling lives... without the guilt!
Most of the diets I've tried in my "past dieting life" restricted the number of calories I could eat, but gave me one loop hole. I could eat all the so-called "free foods" I wanted - cucumber, celery, carrots, sugar-free candy, popsicles and chewing gum. And I took full advantage!
Looking at these "free" foods from a strictly caloric perspective, this idea makes sense. Most diets are based on a reduced calorie intake. Once you've eaten your quota for the day, and you still want to put food into your mouth, what do you do? Eat calorie "free" foods, of course!
I've found that these "free" foods are not as innocuous as they might seem, especially for those of us who have an issue with overeating or emotional eating, and who want to break free of these behaviors.
Here's a suggestion: The next time you eat a "calorie free" or "reduced calorie" or "low calorie" food option, let it pique your curiosity: Some mindful questions to ask are: "What am I feeling?", "What's going on right now?", "Am I truly hungry?", "What do I really need in place of this food?"
I gave up eating chewing gum on a regular basis and now chew it very infrequently as a breath freshener. I realized that most of the time I pulled out a stick of gum, unwrapped it and shoved it in my mouth, I suppressed a feeling I did not want to acknowledge. I began to understand that chewing gum soothed and calmed me down and helped me center myself temporarily. I now have other ways to get back to my center - journaling, meditating and movement practices.
The next time you reach for food - even the calorie-free variety - and you know it's not out of hunger, see if you can get to what's really going on. Stopping for just a moment to look at something as simple as a piece of gum, before you put it into your mouth, can be a key to opening a treasure chest of insights and ideas that will help you to live your life diet free.
Diet programs and advertisers often advise eating all the calorie-free foods you want. Go ahead, they say, it's only chewing gum. But is it?
Does your life seem to be moving so fast that short-term solutions to vexing problems like not enough time or weight gain are tantalizing?
Many of us on the upswing of a yoyo diet lost weight, only to see lost pounds come roaring back, sometimes multiple times since our teen years. Rather than considering that the dieting process may be at fault, we might blame ourselves for not having the willpower to stick with it. We keep trying the same solution over and over but in different guises - high protein diets; low fat diets; low-calorie meal replacements - looking for the quick pay off.
What is this "quick fix" mentality all about and why is it so enticing? I think it promises hope that we can change quickly, it allows us an immediate strategy. It takes our minds off what's really going on. In the words of one of my clients, "I want an easy button!"
If you sidestep the magnetic pull of the "quick fix" and yoyo dieting and look underneath it - what might you find?
If you have a weight issue, you may find a seething cauldron of emotional issues, a lack of self-love and a fear of the unknown. What will life be like at your optimal weight? If you have low energy or feel drained by a primary relationship, struggle with family issues, or work in a job that no longer reflects personal goals - how will your life change if pounds lost stay off?
Here's what I've discovered. If I'm unwilling to look beneath the surface, I will remain stuck, in limbo, and far from the life I have dreamed. However, if I'm willing to dig deeper, access my unique insights and take action, the benefits can be enormous. The solutions that will work long-term are those that come out from your own insights to understand the challenges you face ... and shift them.
Whatever problem you are facing, are you willing to look beyond the "quick fix"? If your answer is yes, what will be your first step?
It's January and the Internet is full of recommendations to manage holiday weight gain and the winter blahs. Are you, as I am, being bombarded by these types of "I know what's best for you strategies on how to lead a healthier life?" Here are some examples of what I've seen. "Set realistic goals", "Shift your thinking", "Cut back", "Keep track of your progress", "Develop a positive attitude", "Watch portion sizes". I don't necessarily disagree with any of these prescriptions in themselves, but two things bother me:
The first - someone is telling me what to do from their particular viewpoint without understanding my particular situation. And the second, it just isn't possible to plunge into such advice all at once. Attempting to make too many changes at one time can be a recipe for failure... and this we want to avoid at all costs.
Most of the weight loss prescriptions center around food and exercise. These are important aspects for any weight loss program. The challenge lies in following the details of individual daily plans consistently - hard to do. If you have begun 2013 trying to exercise regularly and eat right but are having a difficult time sticking with your chosen regimen, you might want to consider this option:
Since we are multi-faceted, made up of a body, a mind, a spirt and emotions, focusing on just the body doesn't make sense. Instead of focusing on eating a certain number of calories per day, perhaps you might want to consider working with your thoughts and beliefs [mind] and determine what might be holding you back. If you choose to focus on [spirit] you might take time out each day to gain insights by meditating or asking for guidance in your unique way. Alternatively, you might explore how stress derails you when you commit to a healthier lifestyle [emotions].
While it is counterintuitive, sometimes we are so frantic to solve a problem that we get in the way of seeing a deeper meaning. Taking a few steps back gives us breathing room to build a stronger foundation to tackle the stickier problems and find the once-and-for-all solutions. It doesn't mean nothing's going to change! When you take care of your overall wellness you expand your capacity to come up with new solutions and you start to have more energy to tackle your specific challenges.
So, if you often begin a New Year by choosing a program that focuses on food and exercise, but it hasn't worked for you, consider this approach. I'd love to hear about your new insights and solutions.
I will be upfront about this: I do not recommend using rules about eating to lose weight or to maintain weight loss for many reasons. Here is an example.
Let’s say that you want to fit into that cute dress you bought for your best friend's wedding. It's a teeny bit tight. You think, no problem! I will go on the "trim your belly fat diet". The fine print sets you up. Do not eat more than 1200 calories per day.
You are doing great sticking to your 1200 calorie/day rule, then life intrudes to throw your plan off.
The weekend arrives and your family goes on a 6 1/2 mile hike. Here's the problem:You’ve burned through your 1200 calories and feel famished by the time you get home.
Now what? Here are some possible scenarios:
Which of these outcomes rings true?
Imposing diet rules is counterproductive in the long run. Why? Because dieting overrides the body's signals: "Hello out there - is anybody listening?" When we don't listen to the messages the body sends, it's difficult to know how and when to feed it.
The only way to develop a positive relationship with food is to befriend your body and listen to the signals it sends, unhampered by rigid prescriptions about eating.
I'd love to hear about your experience with breaking free of diets.
Dieters and non-dieters have a difference of opinion about when the week begins. For non-dieters the week begins on Sunday.
Many women with a dieting history and recurrent weight loss (and I was one) begin a new diet on a Monday. There are several reasons for starting a diet on Monday:
For example, the dieter may feel she can eat whatever she wants on weekends confident that on Monday she can begin dieting with a clean slate. It's Monday. Hurray! I'm off to a fresh start!
Now it's Wednesday. Hopes for a quick result dips. Does stress build-up? Then Friday arrives. Spirits rise. Might I even relax a little? So my diet slips and I eat too much. It's okay though because on Monday I can start dieting again - another fresh start!Questions like these might help you understand why you chose to diet:
When you look at the dieting mindset this way, does starting a dieting week on Sunday or Monday make any difference?
It's mid-afternoon. You’re not actually hungry, but you’re feeling a little bored, tired, maybe even frustrated or stressed. So you decide to munch something, but you want a healthy snack. An apple is a good choice, right?
Now suppose you eat an apple a day for a month, as a healthy snack to mask those unpleasant feelings. That seems innocent enough: Everyone knows an apple beats salty, crunchy fatty snacks any day.
Yet each apple supplies at least 150 calories. That’s an extra 150 calories a day, or 1050 extra calories per week, an extra 4200 calories a month. If nothing else changes, these extra calories will probably end up as fat. If it takes burning 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat….. You can see where I am going with this.
It’s helpful to remember that all foods, “healthy” or not, provide calories. If you are not losing the weight you want, you might cut back on snacks when you aren’t hungry (even healthy ones).
Better yet: Try exploring the stress that prompts you to snack in the first place.
Imagine receiving three boxes. Orange, Lavender and Green. Strange! There are thumping sounds coming from each one. It's as though somebody is trying to get out. Is it you?
Bottom line: Examining the "because" part of overeating, can open the door to getting insights into the stress that prompted the snacking.
I would love to hear how you deal with those afternoon feelings that trigger snacking.