Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Toll Overeating Takes On Us Physically

Think it's just about your weight? I hate scare tactics but sometimes we need a reality check.

Think it’s just about your weight? I hate scare tactics but sometimes we need a reality check.

Everyone knows that eating too much, too frequently can make us fat.

And that seems to be the main motivation most people have to not overeat – they’re worried about the effect eating too much has on their waistline.

But did you know that there are a lot of physical problems that can develop if we overeat too often?

When I decided to finally lose weight, after topping out at 225 lbs, my motivation was part “I want to be skinny and hot” and part “I don’t want to die young like my mom.”

My mom wasn’t grossly overweight, but I know a big part of the reason she isn’t here today was due to lifestyle choices (smoking, not exercising etc) and I knew my lifestyle choices were going to take me down a similar path. Diabetes plagued the maternal side of my family. My mom, Aunt, Pepe and Meme, all died young, all partially from complications due to type II diabetes.

Diabetes doesn’t just affect overweight, sedentary people BUT, I knew that if I remained sedentary and didn’t change my eating habits and my weight, that the diagnosis would be a guarantee with my family history. I also had high blood pressure (another genetic gift from my ancestors!) and worried about my heart, my lungs (I had asthma too) and how every other system in my body was affected by my weight.

I knew my binge-eating, overeating, chronic dieting and being in the “obese” category would contribute to my long term health – but at the time, other than possible cardiovascular disease and diabetes, I didn’t realize how many health conditions can arise because of our eating habits.

I was motivated to change my weight out of fear of death. Sounds dramatic but that’s where my head goes.

I was motivated to change my eating habits because of a fear of health complications while I was alive.

I was able to make both those things a reality when I started to see the payoff in my health (more energy, clearer skin, better asthma control, lower weight, less illness etc).

I was able to maintain those changes (finally) after a lot of trial and error but what finally made it stick, was the internal emotional and mental work I talk about so much on this blog.

Some of us overeat out of boredom, because it’s habit (our families ate a lot so we do too), because we’re out of touch with our hunger cues, or because we’re trying to satisfy an emotional hunger. Regardless of the reason you might be overeating and regardless of where you are in your journey . . .maybe you need to hear this.

Maybe hearing me wax on week after week about getting to know yourself and tuning in to your body instead of dieting aren’t cutting it (for you), maybe you need to hear something else.

I’m not a fan of scare tactics but sometimes we need a reality check, right?

If you don’t care about having a good relationship with yourself, with food and your body, maybe what you need to hear today is all shit that can go wrong with your body if you continue on the path you are on today. If you keep overeating, if you keep bingeing, if you keep playing this game of restrict and consume – well, there are a few things you might have to worry about that go beyond just going up a size, that go beyond your family predisposition to diabetes.

The emotional stuff of food is important and really, in my opinion the key to lasting health, but you can’t get there if you don’t recognize the role your daily habits have in all of it.

So let’s get into it.

What other physical health problems can arise when you don’t listen to your internal cues about when to stop eating?

Here are just a few that you might not be aware of:

Teeth
It’s well known that people suffering from bulimia and anorexia are likely to have tooth decay issues, from stomach acid during the purging process (in the case of bulimia) or from a lack of nutrients (in the case of anorexia) but did you know that people who binge-eat can also have tooth problems arise from the habit?

Our teeth are made to withstand a certain amount of wear and tear over many years but eating far more than our bodies need, and doing so frequently can physically wear down the teeth faster than normal. All that extra chewing and chomping can also cause damage to the gums.

Eating extra food frequently also exposes the teeth to more of the acidic foods that wreak havoc on tooth enamel! One of the worst offenders is sugar and those of us who have a history of bingeing love our sugar-filled foods. Another common way your teeth can suffer from eating too much is if you have serious heartburn (such as in the case of those with GERD) – the acid from your stomach can enter the mouth and get to that enamel again!

Dental work is expensive, painful and time consuming, and healthy teeth and gums are supremely important to your overall health – it’s really not just cosmetic. If you want your teeth to last into your twilight years you have to take care of them and in addition to brushing, flossing, getting regular check ups, it also means avoiding habits that speed up damage – of which, frequent overeating, is one.

Check out this article from Sept 15, 1948 in the Chicago Tribune. It’s old news that overeating is bad for your teeth (and apparently we should remember to take off our lipstick before we go to the dentist – haha!).

Gastrointestinal Upset and Disorders
If you’ve ever overeaten to the point where you need to go put on a pair of comfy sweatpants to allow for the expansion of your belly, then you know what it feels like to have your digestive system at maximum capacity! You may have experienced gas, cramps or even heartburn (that one can also affect your teeth as mentioned above). It doesn’t feel good!

Overeating once in awhile is normal and it isn’t a big deal but when we overeat on a regular basis, we’re putting extra stress on the organs in our digestive system – stomach, gallbladder, intestines, liver, kidneys etc. They work hard each day to digest and process our food and waste so that we have energy and all systems in our body receive the nutrients they need, but when you fill up your stomach with a ton of food at one time, and do it repeatedly, everything gets clogged up. Tired. Slows down. Can’t keep up. Chronic overeating can increase your risk of constipation, diarrhea, gallbladder disease, diverticulitis, pancreatitis and in some cases, cause the stomach to rupture.

One of the first places we “feel” things whether intuitively or physically is in the gut. Overeaters tend to override those signals because of the comfort eating gives us. Tune back into your body – if you are feeling frequent discomfort in your gut, it’s trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore this stuff.

Deficient in important nutrients
What? I know it sounds a little crazy but it can be a real issue. You’d think that if you’re consuming large quantities of food that you’d be consuming all the vitamins and minerals that you need but think about the foods that most people binge on – sweets, fried food, crunchy processed junk food etc – high sources of calories but low nutritional content. When we overeat, we overeat chips, cookies, candy, breads, cakes. No one is overeating lettuce, carrots and pomegranate seeds!

Heavily processed foods are usually lacking in important phytonutrients (flavonoids, chlorophyll, carotenoids etc) because the high heat or high chemical processing they go through destroys them. If you are consuming a lot of these processed foods in favor of fresh food, you’re not going to get valuable nutrients that can help protect you from disease.

This is not just a problem for those of us in the US. Even in places New Zealand and Brazil they are noticing the effects of low nutrient content and the wide availability of heavily refined products. Increase the amount of colors you eat in your daily diet and you’ll get a wider range of nutrients (and I’m not talking about colors provided by food coloring).

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition where the liver accumulates excess fat which in severe cases can cause inflammation, scarring and in serious even liver failure. Doctors aren’t 100% sure what causes NAFLD but we do know that risk factors include obesity and many conditions that can be triggered by obesity. Overeating is a behavior associated with the disease.

By no means am I suggesting that if you have gallbladder disease, NAFLD, GERD or anything else that I mentioned here that you must be a secret binge-eater. And no, I don’t assume that if you’re overweight that you are doing these things either (people of all sizes struggle with this shit). Obviously there are MANY causes for all of these conditions – but if you stay on the overeating path long enough you majorly increase your risk of all sorts of complications.

What would motivate you to change? Is is something on the outside – your appearance or weight? Is it health worries like I talk about here (and something that motivated me)? Is it the internal stuff, like feeling confident in your skin and being at peace with your choices? Is it having more energy? Sleeping better? Not being in so much physical or emotional pain? Only you know what that pain point is for you.

For me, I couldn’t sleep at night because I was worrying so badly about my health. I needed a reality check to finally make changes – maybe you do too.

This isn’t to fat shame you. I believe some people are overweight, healthy and not doing things to harm their health. But you’re not healthy if you are overeating frequently regardless of your size.

Where do you begin? Baby steps. What is one healthy thing you can do for yourself today? Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.Newsletter Sign Up for Bottom of Blog Posts - 1-2016

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How long will it take to heal your disordered eating and body image Issues?

photo credit: lost in the mirror via photopin (license)

There isn’t a neatly marked timeline to follow. Be patient and keep moving forward.                                                 photo credit: lost in the mirror via photopin (license)

“I thought I’d have made more progress by now.”

“I’m so tired of thinking about this.”

“Why is my friend doing better than me?”

“When will it be easy?”

Sometimes clients express these thoughts about their journey and I’ve certainly thought these things myself at different points along the way. I wish there was a simple answer. Losing weight often is easy – eat less, get more activity etc., but working through the reasons you gained weight in the first place can be time consuming, painful and sometimes feel like you’re just trying to keep your head above the water. You may not feel like you’re making any progress day to day or week to week. It can be frustrating, angering even!

You believe you are “working” so hard at this – you’ve thought about your weight in some way forever! So why do you feel like you are in the same place you were 6 months ago? A year ago?! Ug!! It’s maddening sometimes.

There’s no clear, fixed schedule or timeline for healing from disordered eating or body image issues. Everyone is on a different journey, has different triggers, unique habits and support systems in place, all of which contribute to how well they’ll do in the long run.

I can’t give you a schedule of when you’ll be “fixed”. But one thing I know for sure is that we’re all in a rush to get “better”, to not have this hanging over our heads anymore and for most, to do as little as possible to get there. I know I did – I literally tried to pray the fat away!

I remember being a child, laying in my bed and praying to Mary (I was raised Catholic) to help me not be “fat” anymore. I thought she’d understand more than Jesus or God, you know, being a woman and all. I asked Mary if she could make it so that every calorie I ate would actually burn 2 calories.  I don’t know how old I was exactly but I was still young enough to believe in “magic” but yet old enough to know about calories and their effect on weight and I knew that if I could burn 2 calories for each 1 I ate, then I’d lose weight in no time!

She wasn’t able to answer that prayer (maybe she was busy that day) but it was the first of many occasions where I daydreamed about what it would be like to not be heavy anymore. Ironically, I don’t  look at my elementary school pictures today and see a “fat” kid. I was mildly larger than the other kids – which certainly got worse as I got older – but I was not overweight enough to have to pray it away!

The result of thinking about my weight and food from such a young age, and gaining and losing so much over the years, is that by the time I reached adulthood and was ready to deal with my problem with food, I already felt like I had been “dealing” with it and “working” on it for years!

Thinking like this made me only give partial effort to whatever I did try – because I was, in a way, super resentful that I even had to work at it – since I had been “working” at it, at least by beating myself up and thinking about it for so so long! I expected any diet, workout or self-help book I got myself involved in to solve my issue in 2 months, 3 tops! But, I had been eating and thinking about my body in a disordered way for a long as I could remember. How the hell long will it take to get over this?

I have a rough mathematical answer for you. I give credit to Charlotte York for the formula.

In the Sex and the City episode Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Season 2, Ep 1)  Carrie and Big have broken up and Carrie is pretty depressed about it. Miranda, of course, is totally annoyed that Carrie isn’t back in the dating scene already but Charlotte tells Carrie that it takes “half the total time you went out with someone to get over them”. Only a month has passed since they broke up and Carrie and Big dated for a year so Charlotte suggests that Carrie will be over him in 5 more months.

I think Charlotte’s breakup timeline is probably similar to our food and body image stuff. If you’ve been struggling with food, dieting, overeating, restricting, criticizing your body etc for decades, you can’t expect to heal from it fully in 6 months or a year. It may take YEARS and years.

Later in the episode, Charlotte says “You can’t just push yourself into feeling good. The only way to get over someone is to feel really bad, cry to your girlfriends and replay what you hated about him over and over in your head all day.”  Those specific items aren’t what you need to do to make progress in your relationships with food and your body BUT Charlotte’s sentiment is in the right place – she’s telling Carrie that she has to focus her mental energy and take actions that will help loosen the hold Mr. Big has on her. He’s a habit that she has to break with new habits. In the same way, we have to use our mental energy and physical actions to take steps and create thoughts that will heal us, that will create new patterns and new habits. You have to be conscious with your thoughts and you have to make room in your life for the things that you know support the habits you want to acquire. (I could use that whole episode or any episode of SATC as a metaphor / analogy for this stuff – but really that would be a whole other blog! haha!)

Huh? My eating or body image issues are a habit?

That’s really all most of our shit is – habits we’ve picked up along the way. Things we’ve gotten really good at because we do them repeatedly. Now it’s time to get good at something else – not doing those things that are causing you pain and doing something else constructive instead.

Let me give you some examples!

If you’ve gotten into the habit of getting up off the couch during commercial breaks to look for snacks in the kitchen – you’re going to feel compelled to do it on every commercial break. You may almost feel physically pulled to the kitchen or almost like you’re on autopilot if you’ve been doing it for awhile. How long you’ve been doing it for will determine how difficult it is for you to break this habit. To break this habit, you’re going to have to associate something else with those commercial breaks – this might mean turning off the TV and finding a different activity entirely. Or it might mean doing jumping jacks during commercials or maybe folding laundry. And when you first try these new things, you may be successful 3 days in a row and then resort back to your old ways. Next time you may go 5 days in a row and then go back.  The point isn’t that you went back to your previous habit (that’s bound to happen) – the important thing is that you keep getting up and trying to change it for the better.

We know that often people overeat / binge because they are trying to numb themselves from feeling something that they don’t want to feel (unhappiness in their marriage, confusion in their career, worries about the future etc). Sure there is often some deeper psychological stuff going on but the simplest explanation for what it actually is is that it’s a habit that was created (regardless of the circumstances that created it).  Ultimately it is an action they took a few times, subconsciously or consciously noticed the effect it had on how they felt (it mitigated the pain they were feeling), and so they did it again, and again. It becomes a learned response. X happens and Y is the action taken. Stopping it starts with allowing those negative feelings to just be there – but it doesn’t end there.

Stopping someone from bingeing doesn’t happen with one single habit change – you have to go at it with multiple things, repeatedly and for a long time. Those things will be different (to a degree) with each person.

One of my clients has been successful in preventing binges by making sure she gets plenty of sleep, speaking her mind at work and at home (instead of keeping things bottled inside), writing in a journal daily and by eating more fat and protein in place of refined carbohydrates. She doesn’t just HOPE that these things happen – she creates space for them in her life by setting a bedtime and sticking to it, scheduling journal writing time etc. She essentially creates a plan to fit these new habits in daily.

Some of the ways I avoid bingeing is by eating a diet that is 90% whole foods (the sugar / crunchy / salty junk sets me off), caring for my body with frequent exercise and by doing lots of thought work that affects my daily outcome (Check out Self Coaching 101 by Brooke Castillo – great tool for changing your results!). How do I make space for this stuff? I plan for it. I make grocery shopping, meal prep, exercise and thought work priorities in my life.  Bingeing used to be treated like a priority. I couldn’t wait to get home from work to zone out and eat (or in the car if I could get to a store first). I made space for it and it became a firmly ingrained habit. I didn’t get where I am today in a few weeks or months. It has taken YEARs of trial and error,  repeated attempts and conscious, focused actions!

Do these new habits that we’ve made space for mean we NEVER go back to our old ways? No. Pretty much everyone slips into their old behaviors at some point, sometimes many many times. Even me. I’ve slipped back into my old habits more times than I can count but you know what? Each time it has happened I have learned something from it – a new thing to watch out for, a new tool to keep me taking good care of myself possibly and certainly more experiences to share with all of you. I should also mention that each time I’ve “fucked up” it’s been less serious than previous times. What I consider a binge for me now, I would not have considered a binge 3 years ago. What I consider crappy eating today doesn’t look like my crappy eating from 5 years ago. I am always making progress and always working to do better.

It’s not easy but it’s also not hard all of the time either, I promise! Sometimes things will just click and you feel like “I’m going to make it!”, other times you will feel like you’re not making any progress at all. My advice to you is to:

  • Keep going no matter what. Creating new habits/responses requires time. You are actually creating new neural pathways in your brain when you repeat a task over and over and it will get stronger the more often you do it.
  • Get conscious – get to know yourself. Learn all of your habits, thoughts and how you may try to lie to yourself (it’s only 1 bite!).
  • Keep track of all that you’re trying – what’s working? what’s not?
  • Note where you are getting support – friends, family, coaches, therapists? Who knows about your struggle and cares about your success? Where else can you get support?
  • What resources you have read, watched and listened to? What kind of resources speak to you the most?
  • What tools help you to connect to your body in a positive way? Mindful or intuitive eating? Throwing out the scale? Keeping a food journal? Gentle exercise? Figure those things out and do them often.
  • What things trip you up? What situations trigger you to choose old habits? Make a plan to prepare for these situations so that when they pop up you know what to do.
  • Keep track of your accomplishments no matter how small. Where have you made progress? What good habits have become almost 2nd nature to you? Keep this list handy to look at on those days when you feel like you are at square one and it will make you feel proud.
  • Have patience. Settle in. There’s no rush. Giving up keeps you in the pain that only seems easier because it’s familiar!

As I said earlier in this post, there is no concrete timeline for healing your relationship with food and your body. It may take far longer for you than it does a woman in your yoga class or less time for you than your roommate from college. Your timeline is unique because the circumstances, relationships, thoughts and experiences that created the eating and body image problems (habits) you have today are yours. Try not to compare where you are with where someone else is.

You may have an issue with food or with how you think you look but you are also smart, resourceful, persistent and deserving of a peaceful food and body life. You are also capable of taking new actions towards the life that you DO want. Even if you’ve been struggling with dieting, bingeing or criticizing your body for 50 years, there is the possibility for change if you settle in for however long it will take and keep taking dedicated action daily. Don’t give up.

You’ve set a goal, now how do you actually reach it?

photo credit: Nothing but dreams via photopin (license)

What’s that saying about reaching for the stars? Something about how even if you fail at least you’ll be among them? Better to get off the ground than to never start! Here’s how you make your dream a reality!  photo credit: Nothing but dreams via photopin (license)

Everyone has at least one big life goal in the back of their mind – whether it’s to lose weight, get more fit, run a marathon, reach a certain peak in their career etc. At first, there’s a fire and excitement and passion when thinking of that goal! We can’t wait until we reach it! We envision what it will feel like, look like and how different our life might be if it happened. How free, accomplished and proud would you be?

Then we come out of our daydream and start thinking about how long it will take to reach that goal and we become overwhelmed and disappointed. We don’t take action on the goal and 6 months from now we’ll be fantasizing about reaching that goal all over again. I’m sure some of you have already given up on a goal you set on New Years, right?? It happens to everyone at some point!

So how do you actually make it happen? How do you actually take that dream in your head and bring it to life?

Here’s the short answer: With specifics.

Here’s a graphic of the steps if you’re short on time – read on for more details!

Can you take these actions? I bet you can!

Can you take these actions? I bet you can!

Sit down with a pen and paper and get brainstorming! Create a list of all the things you can think of that it will actually take to reach that goal. What concrete steps will you need to take to make the dream a reality? To get from A to Z, what will you have to do?

Break the goal down into the smallest steps you can think of. If your goal is to run a marathon but you are mostly sedentary at the moment, one of your smaller steps is to begin exercising.

But what do you need to do to make that happen? Do you have a gym membership? Do you have a pair of good sneakers? Can you workout at home? When will you workout? Do you have clothes that are comfortable for exercise? What actions will you need to have taken before you can take on the more challenging aspects of marathon training?

Once you know what steps you need to take, try to organize them into a rational order.  In the above example of starting to exercise so that you can eventually run a marathon, the first steps may look something like this:
#1 Go shopping for sneakers and workout clothing.
#2 Purchase sneakers and workout clothing.
#3 Make an appointment with my doctor to get the ok to exercise.
#4 Decide what days and times I have available to exercise.
#5 Decide what kind of activity to start with.
#6 etc.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. Often when we take on a new challenge, we aren’t totally sure of all the steps required until we start working on it. There are lots of things that we won’t know to list until we begin – know that it’s ok to edit your list multiple times if needed! It’s ok to revise and rethink your plan of attack several times! What matters more is that you are actually taking the actions on your list.

Once you have your list of steps – those concrete actions that make up all the steps needed to reach the goal you have in mind, you want to plan out and schedule them in a calendar!

No really. I’m not kidding. Don’t fight doing this step. It’s crucial.

I know those of you who are creative types or have ADD are sitting here going “I work better when I see where my focus is each day.” Uh-huh. Yeah. I’ve said and done that myself. How has that been working for you? Are you actually making progress on them with this plan of attack? If you are, great – you’re an anomaly – continue on! But most of us, myself included, just spin in circles when we go that route. It’s a form of procrastination that comes up out of fear! Don’t fall for it!

I find it helpful to look at how long you think it could reasonably take to accomplish the goal and break it down into 3 or 4 month increments. How many of the steps can you accomplish in 3 months time? If your goal is something that will take a year to accomplish, you would need to take action on 1/4 of the steps in your total list to be on track to complete the goal in one year’s time. (One year is just an example – depending on your goal, you may be looking at multiple years or only a few months) After those 3 or 4 months are up, check in – how are you doing? Are you on track? Great! Schedule out the next 3 or 4 months worth of action steps. If you’re not on track, assess what needs to change to get you there. Do you need to extend out your goal time line? Are certain steps taking longer than you planned? That’s ok – that’s reality! Maybe you’ve discovered that tasks you thought you could get done in 2 hours actually take you 5. Now that you know that you’ll have a more realistic schedule for the next few months. Once you know where you need to change things, get to work at scheduling those tasks!

Is it freaking you out to think 3 or 4 months out in the future? Ok. What steps can you take this week and next week? Start there and once you accomplish those you’ll build confidence that will help you be bolder in the weeks following.

Use any calendar you want for this task! I like using my google calendar because it updates on all the devices I use but you can use anything that you will be consistent using!  A paper calendar or a day planner like the Passion Planner or Leonie Dawson’s Workbooks are great options too (and can even help you get clearer about what you really want).

Next honor yourself by actually taking the actions you have planned and scheduled out. Showing up is the hardest part sometimes! Even if you get so far as to put all your steps in your calendar, a lot of us will get up each day and choose to ignore that calendar. Make a commitment to look at it each evening – so that you already have an idea of what you need to take care of tomorrow. I know you make time to be prepared for work meetings, doctor appointments and all of your children’s activities. These are all in your calendar and you make sure that they happen. You wouldn’t dream of blowing them off! Do the same for the action steps for your goals. Treat them as you would anything else that is important to you! They are not negotiable.

Don’t put something in your calendar that you have no intentions of doing. And if you have no intention of taking that step, please ask yourself why? What is holding you back?

That’s it. That’s how you make a goal a reality. 

There’s no magic to reaching goals other than having a clearly laid out path of action and then committing to yourself to take it.

And here’s something to remember if you still feel like it’s too much work to tackle that goal – know that that time is going to pass no matter what. So you’ll either reach that point in time having achieved what you wanted or you’ll reach that same point in time wishing you had started back when you first started thinking about it. Why not start right now?

You may be thinking “but my goal is more complicated than that! I can’t plan actions towards it!” But that’s very unlikely. The majority of goals can be broken down into small actions that added up over time equal the end result. If you’ve ever lost weight or got a job, any job, how did it happen? I’m guessing you went on a diet, started an exercise program, counted calories or something similar when you lost weight. And how long did you do it for? And how strictly? You took repetitive steps that resulted in weight loss. Same with getting a job, even if we’re talking a job at the mall food court in high school – at the bare minimum you walked into a business and filled out an application, probably received and answered a phone call and showed up on your first day of work.  Those are all actions, as basic as they may seem. Bigger goals, just mean MORE actions.

Sometimes the hard part is seeing the steps to your goal clearly – it’s tough to get started at all if you don’t know where to begin! If you need help translating this formula to a goal in your life, let’s set up a time to chat!  I can help you determine if your goal is reachable and how you can get there.

A Rant: Get off Your Stupid Phone and No You Don’t Need a Special Diet for the New Year!

I like to end the year by taking some time to recharge my batteries and I definitely did that this holiday season, though I will say I was somewhat forced into that as I came down with a cold just before Christmas (and I haven’t had a cold in almost 3 years)! Ug! Luckily it wasn’t a super bad one, thanks to the self-care I do all year. One good thing about getting sick always gives me an opportunity to sit still and think about what’s actually important to me and what’s not. There are two things I decided were going to be less important to me as we moved into the new year – and while they may seem arbitrary to this blog, they both can relate to those of you who have food issues!

What’s not that important?
1.Being a slave to social media – whether for your business or personally.
2. Finding a new diet or detox program to work off those holiday pounds as quickly as possible (especially if you are tired of repeat weight gain).

This will be a long one but if you can’t put your phone down or seek a quick diet fix every new year, please read on! Let’s get into it!

Put down your stupid phone and pay attention to your life and the people in it!
One of the things I learned really quickly with starting my own business was that I needed to have a strong social media presence – this means posting frequently, be engaging/interesting, sharing high value content and being personal while also being professional. I’ve worked really hard at it – while juggling other aspects of business. At times I’ve definitely enjoyed it, but holy crap it can be exhausting trying to keep this up (never mind the amount of time I spend on my personal account too!).

Part of recharging myself after a super busy year was taking a much needed break from Social Media. Normally, I work that in to my vacation time by scheduling a bunch of articles, photos, and other posts to be published on my business social media profiles while I’m away – so while I can take a break from the stimulation, but it looks like I’m fully engaged like everyone else. This is a great help but I never really get to fully disengage because I still need to comment and respond if followers interact with my posts – which leads me to checking social media a few times a day on my vacation. This time around, I just decided I wasn’t going to post and I wasn’t going to schedule anything – I didn’t even reply to private messages I received on social media. This was both incredibly difficult to do (what will they think if they don’t hear back from me within a few hours) and also super freeing . . .and it was exactly what I needed to do. Taking a major break meant I could actually be in my life, instead of worrying about what I was going to post tomorrow.

What does my social media break have to do with you? And certainly what does it have to do with your relationship with food?

A lot. I swear.

How much time do you spend on your electronic devices browsing, posting and commenting on social media? And why do you do it? I know I was talking about it from a business perspective, but you can relate it to your personal use of social media, I’m sure!

Many of us do it as a way to “zone out” from our feelings or things we’re worried about. We use it to deal with boredom. You may even be using it to not be present.  It’s even gotten to the point where we feel uncomfortable just watching a TV show with our our devices in hand. Have you ever gotten up on a commercial break to grab your phone to browse something non-specific? That urge to scroll something, anything, instead of being left with just our brains, is strong! It may feel harmless, but we actually actively avoiding being in our lives – feeling whatever we feel.

When we actively avoid our feelings – good or bad – we’re balancing on a slippery slope. Finding ways to not be present in our lives frequently leads to overeating. Not for everyone, but it is a bad habit to get into if you struggle with food.

I’ve noticed people doing this at parties or family events – we think we’re spending time with our families during these important events (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays etc) but we’ve checked out by looking down at a gadget in our hand for most of it. At the end of the day, what do you remember about it? Was it a buzzfeed article you read that someone (you aren’t even sure who) posted on facebook? Maybe a photo posted on instagram by one of your favorite celebrities? Or was it a conversation with your favorite aunt? A funny thing said by one of your nephews? Or how delicious your cousin’s cheesecake was? At the end of the event, do you feel like you got to catch up with everyone you wanted to? Or do you feel like you didn’t even see anyone (but you know that a classmate of yours from 20 years ago just announced her engagement and that someone you once worked with is drunk posting and will probably deactivate their account when they see the fallout tomorrow morning)?
Be present. Commit to NOT zoning out from your life and the people in it. Your life satisfaction will increase - and guess what- This also translates to a less complicated life around food and that's amazing!!

How do you get out of this habit? Here’s some tough love. Put the phone in your purse or pocket and leave it there until you are ready to go home. If you use your phone to take pictures of the event, put it back in your pocket afterwards. You do not need to post the photos immediately. Your followers are hopefully busy living their lives as well. Post the photos (if you desire) later, when you are no longer in the company of the people in them! Enjoy the time you get with your family, your friends, EVEN if they drive you crazy. Sure, your curated instagram photos look like you had a fun day with your family or friends but did you? Were you more interested in creating an experience for your social media followers than you were in creating an experience with the people you love? There will come a day when you WISH you actually talked to the people you are related to – when they are no longer here. Don’t waste it on people you’ve never met on the internet who don’t really care about you.

It’s hard – I’ve caught myself pulling out my phone too – (I may be preachy but I’m not perfect) especially if I’m left alone for a few minutes at the dessert table! But whether I’m zoning out from people or around food, I know I’m choosing to live that way, and I don’t want that. I have a feeling you don’t either. Be present. Commit to NOT zoning out from your life and the people in it. Your life satisfaction will increase – and guess what? This also translates to a less complicated life around food and that’s amazing!!

No, you really don’t need a new diet or detox for the new year!
Part of me not only felt compelled to post on social media, but I also felt pulled to promote a weight loss or detox program for the new year (like every other health coach, nutritionist and health food guru out there). This is prime $$$$$ making time for anyone with a health or web based business. People overeat and drink heavily over the holiday season and come January they are ready to throw money at gym memberships they’ll never use and the newest diet program that promises them significant and (most importantly) fast weight loss. Then after the program is over, they usually go back to their old habits and by next January will be chasing down another quick program to lose the same pounds they gained yet again.

Sound familiar?

I get it, having dealt with my own weight demons for decades, I really do understand that urge to grasp at whatever will help you feel better as fast as possible. As a businesswoman, I also majorly feel the urge to offer you something for this time of year – there are others in the industry who would say I’m literally throwing money away by not promoting something (someone else will sell people things if I won’t). It’s not that I can’t put together a program that will help you with your holiday weight gain (I have one already actually) but like I mentioned in last week’s post – I’m in this for your (and my) longterm success. And I want to work with people who are looking for that longterm happiness with their bodies – not with people who just want to fix RIGHT NOW. No offense meant RIGHT NOW folks, but it’s just that if you want something immediately, you’re a little less inclined to put in the actual work that it will take to solve your issue.

So in addition to my social media break, I also let go of the urge to sell something for the new year. It feels awesome – and I was more able to relax during my break because I didn’t have to think about a program launch or if I had enough marketing planned. I’m working on planning out my year and I’m going to be offering some things that I truly feel are suited to you and that also truly feel right in my gut. But I’m not going to hawk restrictive and painful products to you that you’re going to need every January 2nd.

What does my objection to new year diets have to do with you? What does it have to do with your relationship with food?

One of my beliefs about healing our food lives, our food relationships is that we really have to look closely at it – we really need to get to know ourselves – intimately! How we operate, why we operate the way we do and how we try to elude ourselves. In seeking out (or for me, selling) quick fixes, we again aren’t looking at ourselves clearly – we’re afraid to admit and acknowledge why we gained weight and why we ate things we feel badly about in the first place. To ignore all of this means you’re just going to do it again, and again.

Are you ok with that? Are you going into a quick fix detox or cleanse believing that this will be the final time you resort to something like this? Do you believe that next year will be different if you could just drop 7 lbs right now?

Hey, maybe you’re ok with an annual or quarterly quick fix diet – for sure there was a time I felt this way too – but if I’m honest that was because I didn’t want to give up the food that I enjoyed when I gained weight each holiday season and I also believed that I couldn’t have these foods. I got over that. You can read about that here. Maybe you’re ok with living like that. But maybe you’re not!

If you are ready to focus on your longterm health, relationship with food, relationship with yourself AND willing to take active steps on them week after week (despite your full and busy life), you’re ready to work with me and I’m super psyched to have that opportunity. Because I know my longterm success as a coach depends on the success of my clients and their longterm success matters far more than if they can drop 8 lbs right after new years.

You don’t need a quick diet to make you feel better in 3 days. What you need is the fortitude to go at this one day at a time, to say “so what?” and “That’s ok” when you make a food choice you aren’t happy about. You need kindness for yourself and your choices and you need to recognize that your life is about far more than what you weigh, what you look like and what you put in your mouth.

How you approach eating and your body is closely tied with how you deal with everything in life. How likely are you to look for quick fixes at work, in your relationships or anywhere else? How uncomfortable are you with things not being perfect, good or easy? Oh my, I’m painfully uncomfortable when things aren’t “good”. It’s frequently been a trigger for my eating – when my Mom was in the hospital, when I was miserable in my job, when my husband and I fought. Fix it fix it, fix it I’d be screaming inside as I ate. Sound familiar??

How do you get beyond that? How do you stop looking for quick fixes? You have to sit in it. You have to recognize that sometimes life has a timeline that you’re not in control of (I know, this makes me want to pull my hair out too!). You have to keep your head above water during the hard times (whether that be illness, weight gain, stress etc) with dedicated a self-care routine (you decide what keeps you going – sleep, massage, exercise, social time, creative pursuits, sex, a good book etc). You must trust that things are going to work out the way they are meant to (that doesn’t necessarily mean that all will be well – people pass away, terrible things happen etc) and that no amount of worry or mental emphasis on the situation is going to make everything perfect. Dropping weight you’ve gained over the holidays in a longterm focused way, means taking it one day at a time (that fortitude we talked about earlier in this post), making decisions you feel good about as often as possible and remembering that you love people in your life whether they weigh 5 or 25 lbs more or less than they did the last time you saw them. Saying goodbye to the quick fix is easy when you focus on all that you have to offer this world and the people in it (instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale). Put your mental energy into other things in your life and if you do need to focus on something physical, focus on how good your body feels each day in your care (not how you look) and how your daily actions affect that. This will help you make better daily decisions that affect your longterm goals.

Well, I’ve ranted enough today! What are you fed up with in your own life? What behaviors and habits in your daily life are affecting your experience of it? Are you a slave to social media or quick fixes? How do you feel about that? Share with me in the comments or send me an email! And if you like this, fill out this form so you’ll get my weekly emails!