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Patricia Ronzio

Do you see a time when you'll stop exercising?

Millie asked me this question when we left the gym. As I thought over possible limitations of getting older, I had a flashback of a woman on a mountain and whose answer would be a definite, “No way!”

We had moved to Houston in the spring, and after a hot, muggy Texas summer we were anxious to return of the mountains and de-stress. The closest mountain wilderness is Big Bend National Park -- our destination.

Excited to see to its acclaimed vistas, we got up before sunrise to begin the South Rim Trial, leading high up into the Chisos Mountains. Eager to reach the highest point, we selected the shortest route from the Basin, though it was steep and rocky. Undaunted by the trail and lifted by an adrenal high, we seemed to fly up the trail.

As we rounded a bend, we encountered an elderly woman steadily climbing up each stone step with the help of hiking poles. Her colorful scarf, white blouse, pants and hat were stunning. Her silver hair looked as though she had stepped out of a beauty salon.  We were panting, out of breath, but she was breathing normally.

Our elderly companion shared that she was 80, and that she had been climbing this particular trail for years. Usually a son from Alpine accompanied “Grandma.”

But today she had decided on the solitude of hiking alone. Among the crags, with views across the Chihuahuan  Desert, she said that she felt at home. Her appearance certainly reflected that inner calm and determination.

At some stage we inevitably peer into the future and acknowledge that the body will slow down as we age. But that doesn’t have to mean stopping.  Hulda Crooks began mountaineering at the age of seventy, and in her nineties, she became the oldest woman to ascend Mount Fuji. 

Isn’t this about beliefs and desire?

Please share how you might answer Millie’s question.

Do you think your answer would change 10 years from now?

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First step to stress relief begins here (a three letter word)

stressrelaxdreamstimeextrasmall_24164286While waiting as my dear friend Julie got prepped for a follow-up procedure at the regional hospital, I struck up a conversation with two nurses. They were curious about what I do and I responded with my little coaching intro.

How wonderful, said Jane. You actually help women discover healthy lifestyles.
That’s part of it, I agreed.
You know, I’d like to work out, but…(she lowered her voice).. stress is killing me…There just isn’t enough time for me to handle it.
Ann chimed in, Patricia, if you could put a time extender in a bottle, you could sell a ton of it here.

Time extension, the antidote to stress?
These two women were obviously committed to high standards of patient care. That was readily apparent by how they assisted Julie. And they were hard workers. It was getting toward the end of their shift, with no let down.

Too often, the missing ingredient from the stress picture is….?
I considered the nurse’s comment about wanting a time extender, a solution in a bottle. Not surprising, after all, this is a hospital.
Yet it troubled me. In an institution focused entirely on diagnosis, treatment and recovery,  employees can believe that they don’t have time to care for their health.
What was missing here? Self-care. Ironic!

So where does stress relief begin?
It beings with Y-O-U.

Stuff happens, and you respond by being stressed out. Maybe not. Work with me on this:

Events, real or imagined, tickle your brain cells. They say, Okay, Ms Computer Brain. What’s next?
Neurons ask for directions.
And you Ms Computer Brain, can tell them where to go. Seriously.

This is so exciting:
You are in charge of how to respond to that neurological input. And that will be guided by your thoughts – beliefs, attitudes, biases—as well as by your physiology. Are you tired or refreshed? Blood sugar swinging up and down like a duck bobbing on big waves?
What can change? Your thoughts. And simple things such as getting enough sleep and eating right, for starters.

Stress relief is an essential ingredient of self-care. Little things-Getting another half hour of quality sleep, or tapering off the caffeinated soda. Recognizing that you are feeling stressed.  All are effective places to begin to put the You back into the equation.

I would love to hear how you are putting the You back in ......

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How doctors can help patients de-stress

Fotolia_37792241_XSHave you ever stopped taking a prescribed medication, or not followed a doctor's recommendation to lose weight or get more exercise? Could stress be getting in the way?

How would your doctor's visit be different if...

a) you had the opportunity to share what's actually stressing you out?

b) your doctor supported you in managing that chronic energy drain before tackling your health issue?

c) your health care provider and his/her staff listened to your concerns?

Bob and I have described "Insight-Motivated Learning", a process to help physicians encourage their patients to handle stress -- before prescribing treatments. This research paper recently appeared in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

We recommend that doctors encourage patients to use their own insight-problem solving abilities to manage chronic stress. And we suggest that when patients handle such energy drains, it will be easier for them to follow doctors' recommendations for treatment and for prevention.

Here is the citation: "Insight-motivated Learning: A Model to Improve Stress Management and Adherence in Chronic Health Conditions." Robert A. Ronzio and Patricia A. Ronzio, Austin, TX. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal, 2012, volume 11, issue 2, pages 22-28.

How would your next visit to your health care provider be different if you had the opportunity to share what's actually stressing you out first?

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Five Ways to Solve Problems Better

What is your problem solving profile?
Which of the following statements is the best fit:

a.    Do you believe you are good at dealing with problems?    
b.    Is your ability to solve problems okay -- not great?    
c.    Or do you feel uncomfortable when faced with solving problems?      

Whether you consider yourself to be an effective problem solver, an average problem solver or a problem avoider, you can boost your problem solving skills. It’s easy and it’s quick.

Before looking at ways to accomplish that, let’s work on the phrase, “problem solving.”

“Problem solver” or “Creative problem solver?”
Problem solving sounds…like a problem. Yet we solve problems – large and small – every day, without turning them into “projects.” It happens naturally. So let’s add spice by adding an adjective. Creative problem solver has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Creativity adds excitement to a potentially boring task.  Creativity implies imagination, and imagination draws on curiosity. Curiosity reflects vitality--all are interrelated.

Sadly, most educational strategies omit, even penalize, the creative part of problem solving.
Remember when your biology teacher droned on about diploid, mitosis or blood groups? You knew those concepts would be on the test, so you jotted down notes, highlighted sentences in a textbook, and memorized complex diagrams.
Did this nurture imagination and creativity? Not even close.

But that’s not all that gets in the way. Beliefs can also inhibit these attributes:

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4 Myths about Creativity

Myth #1 Only successful inventors, artists, writers… are creative.
Let’s go back to when you were a kid. Children naturally apply their creativity to understand what’s going on in a complicated adult world. And as an adult you can still apply your creativity to understand a complicated world.

Myth #2 Creativity: Either you have it or you don’t.
The ability to solve problems creatively is not a genetic trait, like hair color. The human brain is built for creative problem solving. Everyone has this ability.

It can be enhanced however. Like exercising to strengthen muscles, solving problem processes of the brain can be enhanced through frequent use.

Myth #3 Daydreaming is a waste of time.
Feel guilty about staring out the window when you should be “working?”
Research indicates that during the creative process, like a musical improvisation, the region of the brain responsible for keeping you on track --shuts down. This changeover allows new ideas to flow easily, to intermingle and develop into new combinations.

Myth #4 Creativity cannot be taught, learned or improved.
A competitive athlete whether a cyclist or golfer understands that a whole mix of ingredients goes into success.
Factors such as motivation and attitude, the physical environment, like the type and condition of the fairway, play a pivotal role. Knowledge - the extensive array of pertinent facts – goes hand-in-hand with skill.
The same variables, attitude, environment and knowledge are just as important to enhance creativity and imagination.

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Five ways to unlock your creativity to solve problems like stress, better and easier and faster

1.    Change a negative attitude
The belief you can accomplish a task is referred to as self-efficacy or self-confidence. Successful problem solving of any type depends on this essential aspect of motivation. It is at the heart of a stressful problem.

2.    Improve your mood
Feeling blue can slow you down mentally as well as physically. Studies have confirmed common experience: It is harder for individuals to think creatively when they feel tired, sad, depressed or down.

3.    Unlock time constraints
Creative problem solving takes time and commitment. I am constantly surprised at how many clients say that they do not have enough time. Be honest with yourself. Isn’t it possible to adjust what you do and when you do it in order to create more “imagine” time?

4.    Take care of yourself.
Enough rest? Essential! Eat right? Absolutely! Relax? A cornerstone of self-care and stress relief.

5.    Emotional support
A key reason that brainstorming fails? Participants do not feel safe about expressing feelings and ideas. Ridicule, sarcasm, guilt trips – these stop creative thinking in its tracks.
Personal validation helps too. A social environment that supports individual ideas greatly enhances imagination. There is nothing wrong with a pep talk and encouragement when an idea doesn’t pan out.

In a nutshell:
Creative problem solving is a process everyone can do. Creativity, innovation, imagination – these attributes can be enhanced with a can-do belief, a positive attitude, finding time to be creative, and time for self-care, and being with someone who truly listens without judgment.

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Holistic Health Solutions Depend on Personal Insight and Creativity

Do health and healing depend on personal creative insights? I believe they do, in multiple ways.

  •     Your creative insights help you see a health issue in a new light.
    • Example-- "I never realized it before, but I tend to overeat only when I’m feeling lonely."
  •     Insights can help you pinpoint a trigger event:
    • "Now that I think about it, my sinuses act up when the dog is shedding."

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Creative problem solving, including insight, yields other benefits:

  1.     Insights lead to new solutions
  2.     New solutions create personal victories
  3.     Personal victories build self-confidence to meet health challenges

Patient education should include insight learning

Traditionally, patient education focuses on disease. A lot on treatment, some on prevention. But very little goes into patient empowerment.

Insight learning nurtures both self-empowerment and patient self-management. When encouraged in clinics and doctors’ offices, it becomes a win/win for patients and healthcare providers.

Do you think you have what it takes to solve those nagging health and stress challenges?

Share with us your experience in using intuition, creativity and insight to deal with a health issue.

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Negatives to Positives. A View from Outer Space

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Memo

To: Director, Division for Research on Intelligent Life, Galactic Central

From: Earth Saucer #1 Observer

Re: Request permission for Mind Meld

Chief:

You requested a preliminary report regarding my investigation of the planet Earth, pursuant directive to catalog intelligent life. I report unexpected behavior of a dominant life form, known locally as Humans.

Assessment: Human Adherance

1) Tendency to adhere to perception of "failure"

2) This occurs even though input data indicates success. Illogical!

Example:

At a "workshop" I am secretly observing, the speaker delivers an important presentation on the power of "positive thinking" (Ha!) At the conclusion, the speaker receives 153 positive evaluations from the audience rating her performance as "good" to "excellent". A single evaluation rates her as "poor" - boring and off-target.

Chief, look at the numbers... 153 "wins" as opposed to a single negative evaluation. Logic predicts that this human will use the 153 positive outcomes as irrefutable proof of success, right?

Wrong! Her brain locked into a single criticism. I find it utterly amazing that bipeds with such highly developed problem-solving skills obsess about perceived failure.

Recommendation:

It is time to defeat mind chatter that perpetuates damaging self-talk.

Chief, drastic action is needed. Yes, I propose a Mind Meld with this individual so she can help women defeat stress-inducing rumination.

Proposed Class 2 Mind Meld to contain coaching steps:

1. Acknowledge clients' disappointments. Not everything works.

2. Help celebrate clients' successes, no matter how "small" they seem. Critical to nurture self-confidence and self-esteem.

3. Encourage clients to identify long-range outcomes. Maintain this focus.

Recommendation Approved

Follow Up: Coaching Mind Meld... a success!


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How to Improve Self-Confidence. Gwendolyn Can Help!

Who can you talk to about self-confidence? Maybe, it’s somebody like “Gwendolyn.”
Let me share a little about her…

I arrive at the hotel in Corpus Christi early, to check out the room and technical arrangements for my breakout session. The coordinator had emailed me to expect 25 attendees, tops. So imagine the shock of discovering a cavernous meeting room seating several hundred people. Stage, full screen video, the works. 

It’s unexpected. That’s when I hear from Gwendolyn.
Yes, Gwendolyn, my twin who lives in my head. At times I hate her. This is one of those times.

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 “Patricia, you’ve messed up. Again! All set for two dozen people? Hah! Now you have to deliver in a lecture hall! Dummy, why didn’t you read the page about schedule changes?” 
Things like that.

Gwendolyn …Ever so ready to pounce, triggering guilt and self-doubt. She holds onto a glitch and converts it into a cliff-hanger. Oh, there’s so much more to Gwendolyn. She tells me what to eat. She wants me to hold a grudge and blame…

If Gwendolyn is such a pain, why keep her around?
Believe me I’ve tried to forget her, to drown her out with gingersnaps. I’ve yelled at her. But Gwendolyn won’t go away.

Two things counter the self-doubting Gwendolyn.
First, she is part of me. (To get rid of her, I’d need a frontal lobotomy.)
Second, she lives in a very tight place – fear and loss of love.

Gwenny, let me hold you in Gram’s squeaky chair.
Rocking, rocking, back and forth.

I look over the lecture hall. Plenty of time to run off extra handouts. That’s why I got here early.
I can distribute them before things get started.
I’ll get off the stage and mingle with attendees.
I know how to read the audience.
Flash drive works fine. Darn good stuff.

Yes, Gwendolyn and me…Like it or not, we are together in this.

Do you have a Gwendolyn who drains your self-confidence?
When does she check in? I would love to hear how you acknowledge your “Gwendolyn”.


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Four Ways To Be More Assertive: Apples and Aunts

Aunt Nan is on the other line. She says, “Talk a little louder, honey”. (She doesn't like to wear her hearing aid).
So I repeat a question that’s bugging me.

Aunt Nan, did you ever have trouble being assertive?
"Land sakes, whatever do you mean?"

It’s not about being in somebody’s face, or about having it all one way.
Nan, it’s like this. I went to check on a massage studio that opened last week. The masseuse  began with soft music in the background. A warm towel on my back. Effleurage. Every muscle so relaxed.

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I sank into that yummy place.  Only to be jolted awake by a monologue about a new boyfriend. He’s always late..He didn’t used to…blah, blah.

Nan, I wanted to say Stop talking! I felt so frustrated, because I just wanted the good part to keep on!

"Honey, it’s like deciding whether or not to bring home wormy apples"
Oh, Auntie!
 
Aunt Nan described what she meant:

"I got a new pie recipe from Mildred and wanted to try it out. I drove over to the supermarket for organic apples. Wouldn’t you know it. The only ones I found were banged up and plain wormy. I could take them home and cut out the bad spots…. Or, I could try to get good apples.

I showed one of those ugly apples to the produce manager. Sir, I said, these apples are not acceptable. Poor thing, he looked like he was 20. Anyhow, he started telling me it’s the wrong season for apples.

I decided to stick to my guns. I told him, I know for a fact that decent apples are being shipped out of New Zealand, and those are what I need for my new pie recipe.

Goodness Gracious, do you know what he did? That nice young man went to the storeroom himself, and came back with some of the prettiest Fuji apples I ever did see."

4 keys to assertiveness… according to Aunt Nan
1.    Nan isolated the problem.
2.    She was clear about what she wanted.
3.    Nan understood that she had a choice. She decided to state her needs, clearly without anger or recrimination, to the individual responsible for the situation.
4.    And she persisted with her message until she got results.

By the way, the pie was delicious.Fotolia_30838264_XS


Assertiveness is such a powerful concept.  Would you agree that it should be encouraged in girls and young women? Does being assertive help you stress less? Who is your assertiveness role model?


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How to stay present: Lessons from a mouse

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If you are like me, it's sometimes hard to appreciate special times, especially when worries intrude.

Surprisingly, help came from a children’s book.

There I was, cycling along the greenbelt. I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful day. The sky a robin’s egg blue and a soft breeze caressing my face – and what occupied my mind? Problems. Thinking about a budget due that week, ruminating on less than happy conversation with a relative, and worrying about a rattling noise from the front end of my car.

The following evening while looking for another book, I happened to glance at our collection of children’s stories tucked away in one of the bookcases. There I found “Whitefoot the Wood Mouse” written by Thornton W. Burgess in 1976.

On the first page he wrote:

“Whitefoot believes in getting the most from the present. The things which are past are past, and that is all there is to it.

As for the things of the future, it will be time enough to think about them when they happen. If you and I had as many things to worry about as does Whitefoot the Wood Mouse, we probably never would be happy at all. But Whitefoot is happy whenever he has a chance to be…”

Yes, little mouse, you’re onto it!

On the next bike ride, I resolved to look and listen. How many different trees line the path? Tiny flowers sprinkled across a field.  Ripples in the pond from the plop of a fish. A caterpillar winding its way across the path. Be careful, little caterpillar!
 
Staying in the present may not be easy sometimes. Nature to the rescue!

What do you think of Whitefoot’s lesson? Is there a children’s story that still rings true for you?

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Stress Less: Get Rid of Mind Clutter!

I unload the groceries into the hallway and then it happens.

As though on cue, my brain begins a download like this:

•    Run the dishwasher
•    Send a quick e-mail
•    Forgot the mayonnaise

Rapid-fire thoughts like these jangle my nerves.

An antidote to idle mind chatter

Copy_of_leafinwaterdreamstimeextrasmall_7734147What is the opposite of this sort of silly mind chatter?

Maybe it's slowing down, hitting the pause button. When I do that, it's as though I step outside myself and look in. Does this ever happen to you?

Rather than giving mind chatter airtime, ask, “What is truly essential?”

Nope, no emergency, I don’t have to call 911. Nothing has to be done immediately – not even putting the frozen items in the freezer!

In fact, what I need after most shopping trips is a few minutes of quiet time.

Okay, Mind, you can talk away, but I am going to sit down in that comfy chair, take a deep breath, look out the window and enjoy the garden.

So, what has been your experience with mind chatter? I’d love to hear how you deal with it.

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How to make Life Goals real with a Vision Board

Do you want to stay focused on your lifetime goals? Make a Vision Board (Dream Board) to reinforce these ideas with images and words. By looking at it frequently you can trigger the same feelings as when your vision has been fulfilled. "A picture is worth a thousand words!", then 20 pictures might be worth a small book!

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To start a cut and paste project:

Buy a large piece of white poster board at a craft or hobby supply store. Collect pictures and phrases that illustrate salient features of your vision and some as reminders of what you desire. Magazines, newspapers and graphics from the Internet are logical sources.

You’re looking for images that match your vision. For example, a basket of fresh, organic vegetables illustrates the healthy lifestyle I strive for. As a young adult, I wanted to travel. My vision board included photos of Paris - Guess what my first destination was when I left for Europe!

Create a collage of images and phrases. Add appealing affirmations - and voila - you have a vision board.

A vision board can also help your creativity, allowing your intuition to guide you. Place it where you can see it each day, as a steady reminder of the person you want to be and the life you want to have.

Your subconscious can work with the remembered images. Often you will awaken with fresh ideas to help make them a part of your life.

As an alternative to cutting and pasting, you might want to explore free websites featuring dream boards including www.oprah.com. Remember that you don’t have to limit yourself to a single dream. I have two vision boards that complement and reinforce each other.

Have fun with this project and let me know how it goes!

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Do Ants Love Each Other?

Our oldest grandson was five when he stood with me in the playhouse in the backyard. He spied a trail of ants winding its way across the planked floor.  I immediately made a grandmotherly sweep of the area to determine if these were the fierce fire ants that we have in Texas.

Jeff, on the other hand, crouched down in wonder at those tiny, marching creatures. He then looked up and asked, “Do ants love each other?”

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Startled, I decided to ask him what he thought. He said, "Maybe." We talked about what loving each other meant. Jeff pulled my hand, coaxing me to see the ant trail close up. I got down on my knees to view the world from two and a half feet. Yep, the ants were touching their antennas to each other before taking another step forward. Fascinating!

Jeff helped me in two ways:

  • He reminded me how different a child's perspective can be from an adult's - literally. And he was unafraid to ask questions that seem simplistic and silly - yet those "child-like" questions can be eye openers.
  • Creativity and insight thrive when curiosity is nurtured in adults too. Imagine stepping into a world, unfettered by dogma and preconceptions of how the world should be.

Can you return to the sense of wonder you experienced as a child? If that seems difficult, try exploring your immediate environment on your hands and knees.

What do you think? Do ants love each other?

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Parenting a Teen: A "Can of Worms"?

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Jacqueline began our session by describing her daughter’s resistance to cleaning up her room. However, she didn’t want to explore that particular problem, because it would “open up a can of worms.” I respected her choice to move on to another issue beside a trashed bedroom.

Her choice of words lingered with me. When do I avoid dealing with a tough situation, rather than tackling it when it first comes up?

As a parent, are you afraid of opening up “a can of worms”? Even though the lid is on tight ... the...... worms..... are.... still.... wriggling!
 

This quote sums up the reality:


“What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.
And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn't there to be lived.
People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it. ”
— Eugene Gendlin

At a later session Jacqueline returned to her daughter’s messy room. We talked about what motivates us to complete an undesirable task, and decided in this particular case it’s the WIFM’s -- “What’s in it for me”.
 
With an orderly bedroom, the daughter realized she'd save time dressing for school or for a date, because she had picked up scattered clothing, washed it and put it away where she could find it quickly. She liked the smell of clean sheets. And with a tidy room she no longer felt embarrassed to have a girl friend come over.

Is there an unopened can of worms with your teenager? Are there WIFM's that could motivate you and a young person to pry the lid off and explore it? I'd love to know.

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Happy or Unhappy. Do You Have a Choice in a Frosty Tent?

Quick question: Are you feeling happy, unhappy - or some place in between - like "okay"?

I suggest that we have much to learn from young people about being happy.

We decided to take two grandsons camping. The boys wanted an adventure as well as help with hiking and camping Scouting merit badges. Big Bend National Park offers exquisite wilderness opportunities for both.

Fotolia_36173173_XSOkay, it was December. We arrived with plenty of warm clothing, cold weather camping gear and supplies for hot meals. Nonetheless, temps dipped well below freezing at night and gusty winds made the tents flap like crazy. At dawn, Bob and I emerged from our tent feeling bleary-eyed and quite grumpy.

Jack, the 14 year old, had a totally different experience. He scrambled out of his sleeping bag and ran to our tent laughing and shouting for us to come over. He had discovered icicles dangling from the roof of his tent.

I assure you that few adults awoke that morning pleased to discover icicles. Jack's exuberance was such a reminder. We do have choice. Hurray, Icicles! Or Ugh, Icicles!
 
We walked over to the boys' tent and bent down to examine those bits of ice that had appeared during the night. In the first rays of dawn the icicles glistened like magical gemstones.

Is there a time when kids’ enthusiasm reminded you that you can be happy?

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#1 Problem with Diets and Dieting and how to solve it

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.Fotolia_34485823_XS
 
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:

  • You might refuse to eat even one calorie over your limit. You tell yourself, “I am on a diet!” and go to bed ravenously hungry.
  • You might “give in” to hunger pangs and eat far more than 1200 calories. Oops, guilt sets in. “I trashed my diet, so I might as well eat up. I can always start dieting again on Monday.”
  • Alternatively, you understand that 1200 calories simply is not enough to compensate for the extra physical exertion and you take along a healthy snack to avoid a drop in blood sugar. At dinner you feel a usual level of hunger - nothing drastic - and you are able to eat slowly and calmly. Your hunger is satisfied before getting stuffed.

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.

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Does a Diet Start on Sunday or Monday?

Question: When should a dieting week begin?Fotolia_9492397_XS

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:
  •     Am I dieting because I want to be more sexy, attractive, beautiful?
  •     Am I dieting because I want to be more loved, nurtured and cherished?
  •     Am I dieting because I want to beat mid-life aging?

When you look at the dieting mindset this way, does starting a dieting week on Sunday or Monday make any difference?

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Overeating Apples?

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?

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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?

  • When you open the Orange box, out pops a tiny figure who says, "I overeat because I'm feeling bored around 4 p.m. sitting in my cube most afternoons."
  • Next you open the Lavender box. Another tiny figure jumps out. "I want to overeat because I'm tired. I didn't get enough sleep last night."
  • Then you open the Green box to release a tiny figure who says, "I want to overeat because I'm so frustrated by having to do the work of two people."

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.


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Does Asking "Why" Help Overeating?

Fotolia_24465261_XSHave you encountered coaches who respond to your sharing by asking a series of “Why” questions? This technique is often used to help a client delve into an immediate problem.

I avoid using “Why” questions in coaching. They can take the form of manipulation or judgment. Why equals....Explain yourself!

Alternative to asking "Why?"

A different sort of question can be supportive and constructive. “Are you willing to explore ...”

This approach both honors the client and offers a choice: If she wants to explore options, even a little bit, this type of question can open the door.

Here’s how a conversation might go for overeating:

Client: “I know I’m not hungry, but I just want to eat”
Coach: Are you willing to explore how eating is helping you?
Client:  “I don’t want to deal with xyz, I just want to eat”
Coach: Are you willing to explore what you’re feeling about xyz when you eat?

The client can test the water. Empowered and feeling safe, she may decide to explore feelings about eating. Or she may not want to.

Either decision offers an opportunity to understand the basis of her choices.

When I share something personal and my listener responds with "Why", I feel challenged rather than supported, or validated. I draw back, Oh!, Oh! - I'm not going to share anymore with her/him!

Have you had a listener ask you "why" after you shared something personal like overeating. Have you found different shades of meaning in "Why?"

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Okay to be in a Funk?

dreamstime_xs_15244642Do you fight stress? Consider an alternative: Living with it for a while.

I was in a funk, plain and simple. It was that “darn, end of the day behind on everything feeling".

Okay, I knew it was deep because I wanted to go to the fridge and start rummaging for something to eat.  I did not feel like sorting out the whys/why not’s about those feelings. They simply plunked down beside me and refused to budge.

How about accepting the funk and letting myself switch off for awhile in front of the T.V.?

The following morning, I congratulated myself for not using food to numb out feelings. In exploring thoughts of the previous day, it was clear that a little upset had snowballed. Nothing was actually “wrong.” I had simply become preoccupied with negativity, "So much to do, I’m never going to be able to get it all done!”

It is possible to over-think stress sometimes.  Stress may actually be an important signal that your subconscious can sort through, given time.

I remembered the link between thinking traps and stress!

Have you been able to think yourself out of feeling overwhelmed and stressed?

Are there times when you gave yourself permission to simply live with the mood?

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How to Overcome Perfectionism ... with a sticky note?

Isn’t it amazing how wanting things to be "just right" can creep into everyday situations?fridgedreamstimeextrasmall_11060328

We have a largish refrigerator in the kitchen. Rather than face a huge white space of fridge door, we’ve attached photos, holiday cards, and a smattering of those kitchy tropical fish magnets sold at tourist traps.

This morning I noticed that Bob had stuck a note on the refrigerator. Only it was stuck at an angle. Feeling peeved, I reached over to straighten it - then stopped.

Wow, slow down. What’s really going on?

Time to take the temperature of my frustration. How was it affecting my breathing and stomach muscles? What was I really frustrated about? I stayed with this (without fixing anything) until frustration drifted away.

I finally read the note Bob had posted...... “Today I will focus on What is Real.”

I smiled at the irony. "It's not right, straighten it now" - almost wiped out a beautiful start to a busy day!

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