Monthly Archives: March 2016

Weight Loss: Do you want it fast or forever?

 

Weight loss doesn't need to be fast to be successful.

Relaxing about when you reach your weight loss goal can make a huge difference in your success.

I’ve come to the conclusion that how fast we want to lose weight can be a critical factor in how successfully we lose it, and how well we keep it off. It’s not as sexy to go slowly. It’s not hip to do it for the long haul. There’s no “21 year fix” program. Moderation and consistency are not what people want to hear but if we want to keep our sanity and have a peaceful relationship with food, it really is the way to go.

Fast diet plans set us up for failure.
We’re taught that setting concrete, specific and timely goals are the best way to reach them and diet plans know this. All the marketing we see for popular plans out there focus on how quickly they can produce results for you. Yes, having a specific time goal can be motivating and also keep us on the path when we’re tempted to stray. Having a firm, short time based goal can help some of us bring our A game. But if we focus too much on the time aspect of our goal, it can undermine our success in the long term because we never learn to deal with our eating stuff. What use is a 30 day diet or a 6 month diet if you don’t know how you’re going to eat to maintain that loss for the rest of your life? Or they provide you with a maintenance plan but it’s not something you can follow? Most of us want to lose weight permanently but short, fast diets don’t give us the tools we need to keep it off when the diet ends.

If you’ve tried to lose weight quickly, many times, and you’re still out there searching for a solution to your weight struggles (because you’ve gained it back or never lost it to begin with), maybe it’s time to try something different. I want to ask that you let go of the short and fast goal to lose weight. Let go of the “now” timeline for losing weight.

Slow weight loss plans are easier to maintain.

Slow weight loss plans are easier to maintain.

Instead, make your weight loss goal forever.

I’ve done both – tried to lose weight quickly and also gone the slow and steady route. Fast weight loss plans are always motivating at first and helped me drop initial pounds but on the other hand I have to say that letting go of the quick fix and relaxing about “when” I’ll reach my goal weight has been way easier.

Some people will cringe when I ask them to try to not have a strict time goal in mind. I get it. We are completely conditioned to want everything right now and some people view not worrying about how long it will take as “giving up”. It’s not. If holding yourself to a tight deadline, a fast goal hasn’t fixed your weight struggles, all I ask if that you give a forever plan a chance. For me it was like having a massive weight lifted off my shoulders.

A few reasons why a forever weight loss goal is easier than a fast one:

1. It gives you the ability to relax about your food choices so that you can enjoy life.

Without the pressure of “I need to be thin now!” you can choose foods that you enjoy eating all of the time. This doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and eat junk food all day long but it does mean that you don’t need to eat fat free cardboard stuff that doesn’t satisfy you. Without the pressure to drop weight instantly, you can make choices about food that come from what will feel best for your body right now, what will fuel it for the next few hours and what also tastes good. This means that sometimes you’re going to choose to plan and prep lots of healthy nutritious meals at home and sometimes you’re going to order greasy take out. You don’t have to worry about one high calorie restaurant meal derailing you . . .because you’re in it for the long haul. So that meal may move your goal by a day or two. What’s a day or two in the scheme of things, really? You can go to a party and enjoy what others are eating. You can make room for a moderate dessert a few times a week. You don’t have to stress about every little morsel you put in your mouth because your goal is on taking care of yourself everyday, not just for the next 30.

2. You will naturally make better choices, more often.

When getting skinny tomorrow isn’t on the menu and instead being fit, active and strong for the rest of your life is, you feel thankful that you can make choices every day about what to put in your body. You will willingly choose foods that make you feel good instead of foods that make you feel ill. When you’re in it for the long haul, there are no foods you can’t have, there are no foods that are totally off limits so there is no urge to “rebel”. There is nothing to rebel against. And because you don’t feel like you need to act out to rebel, the foods that previously would have held you captive, lose their appeal (or most of their appeal). You will actually want the foods you thought you wanted less and less. You will start to notice that they don’t make you feel the way you thought they did (they actually make you feel terrible) and that they don’t even taste as good as you thought. By making them available and not off limits, you’ve actually removed a lot of the power that they had for you.

3. You will find you are able to be more present in life.

Without the pain and pressure of trying to conform to a restrictive eating plan, you will find that you have the emotional and mental energy to actually spend time connecting with the people in your life. Instead of spending 20 minutes at a restaurant trying to figure out the meal that will be least likely to blow your limited diet for the day, you’ll be able to quickly go with your gut and choose a meal that you know will make your body feel good and be able to spend more time being with the person you are sharing a meal with. You won’t need to mentally tally up the calories in every bite and you can actually hear what the other person is saying. You’ll have more to talk about because your entire mental life isn’t spent thinking about how little or how much you can eat today. You’ll “live” more instead of just trying to make it through all the calendar days until you’ll be done with this stupid diet.

4. You’ll find value in your body beyond the scale.

One of the best things I’ve found about dropping any type of time goal for my weight goals is that I care way less about what the scale says today or what size pants I’m wearing. Instead, I find value in what my body can do (lift super heavy weights, carry lots of grocery bags at once, bike 30 miles etc) and I see how closely that is tied to what I put in it, how I care for it. There is less room for crappy foods that make me feel terrible if I want to be able to be strong and active, not just now, but as I age. As a bonus, the things I do to make sure I am strong and fit for life (exercise, sleep and good food), naturally help me look my best, and they also increase confidence, which also looks good. As I get physically stronger, my body changes in a good way. My weight doesn’t change all that much (since I’ve put on some muscle) but my clothes fit better and I like my shape more. And have I mentioned how awesome it feels to be strong????

5. You’ll have less drastic ups and downs in your weight.

Short, hard diets get most of us caught in a tedious cycle of restricting and bingeing – we’ll lose the weight quickly because of our strict adherence to the diet, but as soon as we go off of it, we feel so deprived that we binge our way back to the weight we were before (or gain even more). It’s awful and then we’re looking for another quick diet to help us lose this weight too. And do it again. No one can lose weight that way and keep it off, unless they are willing to continue on that diet for the rest of their life. If you throw out the strict, rushed timeline and eat more according to the needs of your body (not saying this is easy), you’ll find that these big ups and downs become rare. It will take longer to lose weight, for sure, but if you gain weight, it’ll only be a couple of pounds – and usually it’s because we’ve been unconsciously depriving ourselves and find ourselves resorting to old rebellious behavior. That’s an easy fix – get back to being conscious about what you put in your body, based on how the food you eat feels.

6. You’ll actually have fuel and energy to do awesome things.

When you aren’t in such a rush to drop pounds, you can eat enough to fuel your body properly. This means performing your best at work, in school or in creative pursuits. This means being able to have and meet physical fitness goals that have nothing to do with how small you are. This means being able to play with your kids for hours without being too tired. This means doing things that you thought people didn’t do at your age. This means being able to get frisky with your honey even though it’s late and you have to get up early. This means not getting headaches or feeling weak from a lack of food. This means not dreaming about when you can eat next. This means having a more chill relationship with food.

When you feel the benefits from a timeline of forever, fast won’t be as appealing. You’re worth slowing down for!

Ok so this all sounds lovely, right? So how the heck do you do it? Stay tuned! Next week I’m going to tell you a few ways you can start relaxing your own weight loss goal to work for you instead of against you and I’ll share the strategies that have worked for me as well as my clients.

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Losing Weight Requires Feeling Uncomfortable

Losing weight is uncomfortable.

Losing weight is uncomfortable. Be willing to feel discomfort and it won’t be so difficult.

Raise your hand if you want to lose weight without feeling deprived, hungry or feeling uncomfortable? Raise your hand if you think losing weight shouldn’t be difficult?

If you are raising your hand, I swear no judgements will come from me, because I have spent most of my life trying to figure out how to do that too, how to get into the body I want without feeling any pain or discomfort for even a moment.

We want to lose weight without feeling uncomfortable

I got very clever at doing this. Calorie counting for awhile helped me to eat lots of food so I wouldn’t feel hungry – while still eating low enough calories that I could still lose weight. I’d swap out higher calorie foods like cream for soy milk or rice milk. I’d eat rice cakes for breakfast so that I could eat 3/4 of a pizza and a bottle of wine for dinner (and call it a day). Never ever go hungry.

Later, running 25 miles a week meant I could almost eat anything I wanted, anytime I wanted. I didn’t have to ever go without a cupcake, a beer, or greasy takeout if I wanted because I knew I’d be working off the calories the following week. Never ever feel like I was deprived.

Later, bingeing when uncomfortable or confusing feelings arose was a way to fill myself with comfort so I wouldn’t have to face what I was feeling. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up my running schedule (too many recurrent foot injuries) and calorie counting had long stopped (I just couldn’t deal with the constant mental math) and bingeing brought me back to a painful weight. I was so uncomfortable being heavy again that the only thing I could think to do was to put more food in my face. It felt better than facing what I had done. Never have to face uncomfortable feelings.

In the last 3 years, wanting to lose weight, yet again (can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been down this road – I have lost track), I knew I needed to do something differently. I was never going to win this battle if I didn’t figure out why I couldn’t seem to keep my desire to eat under control.

I know I’m not the only woman who thinks this way about losing weight.

We don’t want it to be hard. We don’t want to feel at all like it’s a struggle. We don’t want to feel like everyone else can enjoy social events without worrying about how much they want to overeat while we can’t. We want what the thin girl has without eating as light as her. We want what the fit girl has without working as hard as her. We think that a 10 day diet should help us lose the weight we gained over 10 years.

Ultimately we don’t want to be uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable. All these years of trying to find diets that “work”, exercise routines that work with the least effort and really the solution was staring me in the face. I had to let go of the idea of trying to control it all and instead try to understand it. If we have understanding, we don’t have to worry so much about control.

Today I want to talk about two of the ways our avoidance of discomfort interferes with weight loss progress – choosing to comfort ourselves with food and telling ourselves that going without is deprivation.

Stop choosing food as comfort

The urge to overeat often comes from a desire to comfort ourselves. Comfort from what, is your call, it might be a crappy day at work, overwhelming anxiety, general dissatisfaction from our life circumstances or a difficult conversation with your boss. We’re all trying to comfort ourselves from different unwanted feelings, uncomfortable feelings. Instead of allowing the negative feelings to come over us, we rush to stop ourselves from feeling or acknowledging them.

One of the easiest ways we can avoid our feelings is with food. Why is it so easy? Well it’s abundant, socially acceptable and affordable. Turning to food numbs us, feels familiar which we interpret as comforting and it gives us the distraction we’re after for a little while.

But why do so many of us do something so destructive (overeat) in order to avoid something so normal and benign? Overeating is destructive. Having feelings and letting them run their course is benign. I know it doesn’t seem that way but it really is! I promise you that if you let yourself feel whatever it is that you are feeling, good or bad, you will be ok. You will get through it. You can survive any feeling you are having.

When my mother was sick, I really couldn’t deal with it. I would go to the hospital and do what I needed to do to support her and my family but emotionally I was totally checked out. I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to think about what I was feeling. I couldn’t let myself feel those feelings. Then, when my mom passed away, I thought there was no way I would get through those feelings too, in fact, there are whole months of that time period that I don’t even remember. I thought there was no possible way I would survive the loss.

But I did. Each time something “awful” has happened in my life, or each time I have had an awful feeling – I’ve gotten through it.

I’m still here.

Because I’m still here and I’m functioning, productive and have a good life (and I still miss my mom), I know I have proof that I can get through any uncomfortable feeling. Do I always handle it well? No, but that’s not the point of this example. Think about the absolute worst thing that has ever happened in your life. Did you make it through as horrible as it felt/feels? What was the worst feeling you’ve ever endured? If you’re reading this, you survived it. You were able to feel those feelings and live.

If you know you can handle any feeling that comes your way, you won’t need to turn to food for comfort. Your urge to turn to food will be lessened because there is nothing to run from. You won’t need comforting because uncomfortable feelings are merely sensations in the body that last for a little while and not something that warrants comfort.

You’re going to feel uncomfortable, even painful things. That is par for the course for this thing called life. Let yourself feel them. Don’t resist them. Don’t push them away. Don’t fight against feeling them. Just feel them. If that means sitting in your car and crying, so be it!

A few questions to ask yourself if you find you get most of your comfort in life from food:

  • When you sit down to comfort yourself with food, what does it feel like?
  • When you finish eating for comfort, how do you feel?
  • Why are you choosing to comfort yourself with food?
  • What or who else could you receive comfort from instead of food?
  • When an uncomfortable feeling arises, what can you do instead of eat?
  • What is it that you need to comfort from to begin with?

We aren’t being deprived

Another way we try to avoid discomfort is by telling ourselves we have to keep eating or overeating certain things in order to not feel “deprived”. We view most food plans as “depriving” even when they’re well rounded and allow us treats. We think that if we have to eat less or if we can’t eat ice cream in the large quantity we want to every night then we are being deprived. We want to lose weight without ever feeling deprived.

But let’s look at what deprivation is for a second:

Deprivation actually means (from Merriam-Webster) “the state of not having something that people need or “the act or process of removing or the condition resulting from removal of something normally present and usually essential for mental or physical well-being”.

Read that again. Do you see what it’s saying? Not overeating or choosing to not eat things that derail our progress is not deprivation. We do not need daily cheesecake. We will not die without chocolate. Double orders of cheesy nachos are not essential to life. There are only a few things that are essential or necessary in life and yes we can argue that food is essential. Food is something we need. But excess food is not required for our survival. Junk food in excess is not essential. Telling ourselves that by going without cake, cookies or other junk or that by eating a little less is depriving ourselves is completely unhelpful and will cause you to want to rebel against an imaginary adversary who is holding your treats hostage. No one is doing that.

We are not being deprived. No one is taking away anything that you need. If you are overweight and have weight to lose, there is no way you are being deprived of food. You eat breakfast every day. You likely eat lunch, dinner and snacks too. You have enough. You are not being deprived. Please stop believing you are.

You want cake. You want ice cream. You want beer. I get it. I have wants too. And sometimes I go ahead and satisfy my wants. But I no longer tell myself I’m being deprived because I’m not.

If you choose to eat cheesecake, chips or whatever your food of choice is, choose it because you want it and enjoy it, not because you feel like it’s something you need for survival.

Not eating your favorite junk foods isn't deprivation.

Choosing to skip the bread at dinner once in awhile in order to lose weight isn’t deprivation. It’s only deprivation if you aren’t getting what you need. We don’t need bread if we’re eating a 6 course meal.

From another angle, let’s say you still feel “deprived” even though after reading this you know you technically are getting what you need – what then? Well, then I’m wondering what is so awful about “feeling” deprived? Go back to the section on comfort where I talk about feeling your feelings. Feel them. Let yourself feel deprived (if that is what you choose to feel). It will pass like any other feeling and you will survive it. Know that just because we feel something doesn’t mean we have to act on it.

A few questions to ask yourself if you can’t seem to make any progress because of a fear of deprivation:

  • Why do you feel deprived?
  • Why are you choosing to feel deprived?
  • What would feel better than feeling deprived? How would you have to eat and live to feel that way instead?
  • What are all the ways in your life that you are not deprived? Where do you feel rich, full and satisfied?
  • What necessary / essential things do you truly have enough of?

Losing weight isn’t comfortable

Losing weight isn’t comfortable. It’s not always going to be a soft, easy ride.

But think about anything you’ve accomplished or created in your life – maybe you’ve given birth and raised a child, maybe you earned a college degree, maybe you’ve started a business or competed in a triathalon. Whatever you’ve accomplished, I’ll bet it was work. I’ll bet that it was uncomfortable, possibly excruciating at times – but OMG, it was worth it, so worth it, wasn’t it?

A really minor accomplishment that most of us have tackled that I like to think of to compare to this, have you’ve ever done a really hard lower body workout? You know the kind where you worked your legs so hard that just standing up on them when you get out of bed makes you yelp? That soreness, that muscle pain is certainly uncomfortable – and for a few days makes everything a bit more challenging, but while it’s painful / uncomfortable, it’s also satisfying. Discomfort doesn’t have to be bad. Discomfort can be where the good stuff is. Where growth is (not just muscle growth!).

To lose weight, you’re going to have to let yourself feel the discomfort of hunger. Sometimes you’ll have to pass on cheesecake, cannolis or extra bread. You may have to squeeze in a workout on a morning when you’d rather sleep in. Exercise, sweating and breathing heavy, might be uncomfortable, especially at first. Prepping healthy food might be uncomfortable (and certainly time consuming). You will have to go to social events and focus on interacting with people instead of snacking at the food table and it will feel foreign. You’re definitely going to have to feel uncomfortable feelings, sometimes frequently.

It’s not our birthright to feel happy and good all of the time. Good feelings are great but part of the reason why they feel so good is in contrast to the moments when we feel bad. Life is a mix of all feelings and we can’t successfully go through life trying to pick and choose which feelings we will feel. We’re going to feel anxiety, anger, jealous, nervousness, stress, fear, lonely, grief, boredom, frustration, confusion, apathy and guilt along with joy, love, pride, creative, confident, playful, excitement and hopeful. You’re going to feel it all and if you don’t feel it when it comes up, you’ll feel it later in other ways.

Feeling your painful and uncomfortable feelings is going to bring you discomfort, but that’s ok because you now know you can feel anything.

It’s all worth it. I promise it is. The discomfort that we feel while going through these changes is nothing compared to the discomfort we will feel if we don’t take steps to get where we want to be. Be willing to feel anything, especially the uncomfortable stuff and you will get there.


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

 

You’re Just Getting Started

We're never too old to begin something new.

We’re never too old to begin something new.

There are a lot of causes of unhappiness in adulthood. Clinical, depression, job loss, marriage troubles, health conditions, regret, worrying, weight issues, stagnation, comparison, envy, rigidity and grief to name just a few. I think there is a way we could increase the satisfaction and happiness we all feel in our lives as we age without too much trouble. We just have to not give up.

A lot of us have given up. And that sucks. Bear with me.

I think a lot of unhappiness in this world comes from people reaching a certain age (35, 45, 55 etc) and believing that they have reached their peak. They think they’ve done all that they’re going to do that’s significant and if they haven’t accomplished it by now, well they should just give up that dream and accept the fact that they squandered their years on earth and it’s time for them to just float into their twilight years as gracefully as they can. Why should we continue to work at something you’ve always loved if you haven’t made it by 35 or 45? And why begin anything new over 55? 65? There is an overwhelming pressure and even quiet acceptance that goal setting and creative pursuits are for the super young. I think our way out of misery is by not accepting that.

Our culture values youth more than almost anything else. We put pressures on young people to figure out what they want in life and actually go out and achieve it by 25. A small motivated and well supported (affluent) portion will do this – to some degree. Maybe they really don’t want to be in finance or be a doctor but it more than pays the bills and makes them look successful. The rest spend their 20’s feeling like they don’t fit in with their peers (who all seem to have it figured out – or are at least pretending to) and they wonder why everyone else has it figured out except for them? Where did I go wrong? Why can’t I have things figured out?

We hit our 30s and we do the same thing. We’re still young, although we know that we’re old enough that admitting that we never figured out our dreams or how to reach them is not something we’re willing to do – we don’t want to look like a slacker. Many of us have children and between work and kids, we don’t even have time to dedicate to spending on our dreams or creativity in our free time. We’re just psyched if we can get 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. By our 40s we settle into whatever careers we’ve already been working in for 20 years and feel that glimmer of “it’s way too late” to change now. By our 50’s we start thinking about when the company is going to want to lay us off for someone younger who they can pay less and get to work more hours. The thought of going after our dreams is so far in the past now, that it doesn’t even seem like it was ever something we wanted. That must have been someone else. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that we stay employed until we’re eligible for retirement.

WTF? How can we not be unhappy with this path for most of us?

The average life expectancy of a woman in the US is 81 and of a man is 76. That means we have the potential to spend decades of our life giving up and believing we’re “done” long before it’s over.

How can that not cause people to feel awful?

Is this what you want? Me neither.

I had the same dialogue above in my head in my 20’s and early 30’s. I remember being 23 and considering applying to grad school – and already I felt I was too old (because I’d be what, a whole 2 years older than most of the other students??).  Even when I went back to school and quit my job in 2013 (well into my 30’s), I was panicking that it was a huge mistake and that I was too “old” to jump ship like that. I spent all of my adult years prior to now believing that the boat had passed and a new career, ambition or hobby that was fulfilling would be too time consuming and would take too long for me to be able to do well. I pretty much started off my adult years already believing I was “old”.

If we think our lives are essentially over, growth-wise by our 30s, 40s or 50s (and yes even your 60s) that is the real problem, not our age or perceived lack of accomplishments.

While our culture may not value our years the way it does the super young or beautiful, there is no rule, no law and no restrictions on when you can start something new. It’s all in our heads.

Is it difficult to make a career change at any age? Totally. And yes, most people can’t up and quit like I did. But I’m not just speaking of career changes. Those hobbies you had while you were young that you gave up or pushed aside because you couldn’t figure out how to make a career out of them or you just didn’t have the time anymore? If you love them, make the time. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, learn how to knit or take a surfing lesson. Why not now? Make the time. Maybe you used to love to roller skate or ride your bike. Why not do it now?

Put those roller skates back on. Get on your bike. Climb a mountain. Keep moving and growing.

Put those roller skates back on. Get on your bike. Climb a mountain. Keep moving and growing.

Our life’s work isn’t the series of jobs we work or what high title we earned at that job. It’s the cumulation of who we are and who we affected during our short time here on earth. That might be done at your job, but it might also be done with art, writing, serving, who and how you give your time and energy. The more we give of ourselves to pursuits that encourage the best of us, bring out our creativity and light us up, the more we will be able to contribute to this world, the more we will leave behind and the more joy and happiness we will get to enjoy while we are still here. Our imprint on the universe is not the result of where we earned a paycheck, it is where we put our energies for the whole of our time. What do you want that to be? Why stop forming that imprint when you are still in your youth with so many more years to go?

I’ve had this conversation often with many people, including my husband, about trying new things or going back to old things we’ve given up when we contemplate our “age”, preventing stagnation or where we are in our lives. He jokes that he always thought he’d be a rockstar by our age. I always tell him, “why not be one now?” and he used to look horrified. Every time I’ve suggested that he should start playing music again, I always throw in a factoid about someone else over the age of 35 who has started something new or accomplished something awesome. Now when the conversation happens, I see less horror in his face and more “maybe”. That’s good enough for me. I’m going to share with you some of those people that I share with him. Hopefully they inspire you too!

A few people who’ve accomplished awesome stuff over the age of 35:

  • Grandma Moses, a well known American Folk Artist began her painting career at the age of 78.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien was 45 when The Hobbit was published (and 17 and 18 years later his Lord of Rings books were published) – the guy wasn’t done yet!
  • Betty Jones, a 92 year old woman from South Yorkshire, England, lost 98 lbs last year by going to the gym 5 days a week and taking swimming lessons. She is also a student Barnsley College (studying tailoring, cake decorating and healthy eating). She also decided to learn how to drive for the first time last fall. About all her accomplishments in her 90s “A lot of people seem to use age as a reason to give up, but I hope I can show them that you are never too old and you can do anything at any age.
  • James Bernard Bowler of Illinois, was (and still is) the oldest known Freshman member of the US House of Representatives, elected to office for the first time at the age of 78 (and winning his first election I might add).
  • Julia Child was in her mid 30’s when she began learning about french cooking and 50 when s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published.
  • Susan Boyle was 48 when she was on Britain’s Got Talent and her debut album in 2009 became the UK’s best-selling debut album of all time. Prior to being discovered on Britain’s Got Talent, Susan’s only job had been as a trainee cook briefly in a college kitchen.
  • Leslie Jones at 47 years old is the oldest actor to ever join the cast of SNL.
  • Christopher Plummer won an Oscar at 82 years old (for Beginners). Jessica Tandy won at 80 years old (for Driving Miss Daisy).
  • Oscar Swahn of Sweden won a gold medal in the single shot events in the 1912 Olympics at 64 years of age (he is still the oldest person to ever win a gold medal).
  • Rodney Dangerfield didn’t make it big until he was on the Ed Sullivan show at 46 (and he was a last minute replacement for another performer).
  • Fred Hale Sr got his driver’s license for the first time at 104 years old.
  • Phyllis Diller started her stand up career at 37.
  • Toni Morrison published her first novel (The Bluest Eye) when she was 40.
  • John H Doc Ball was an American Surfer who was still surfing in Northern California until the end of his life at age 94.
  • Dr. Clarence Nicodemus, started medical school at 57, and graduated from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at 61 years old in 2004 and is still practicing today in Monterey, CA.
  • Manoel De Oliveira, a Portuguese filmmaker (who won awards at Cannes and Venice) was still an active filmmaker the year before he passed at 106 years old.
  • Vera Wang, yes that Vera Wang, didn’t start her line in the world of fashion design until she was 40 (before that she was a figure skater and journalist).
  • Andrea Bocelli was 36 when his first album came out. He previously had worked as a lawyer during the day and played in piano bars at night. Singing was always his passion.

There are many many more people like this – going after really cool things at any age – we just have to look for them.

Paint. Draw. Read. Write. Create. Love. Grow. Develop. Pursue. Build. Life.

Paint. Draw. Read. Write. Create. Love. Grow. Develop. Pursue. Build. Life.

You have not accomplished your best work yet.
You are just getting started.
You haven’t gone on your greatest trip yet.
You haven’t painted your best painting.
You have yet to learn the most profound lesson of your life.
And there is still time to learn a new skill, try a new sport, take up dancing, learn to paint, volunteer at the old people’s home (even if you are the old people).
You can have many careers during your lifetime.
You don’t have to ever stop learning, creating or dreaming because of your age.
Keep creating and growing. You have so much more to give to this world before you go.

Believe that you’re just getting started and that all doors are open to you and I bet you will feel just a tiny bit more happy. Look for more proof of people doing cool things around you and grow those good feelings.

Now, what dream, goal, activity, hobby or creative pursuit have you always wanted to spend more time doing? When will you begin making time for this? How can you fit it into your current life?

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It Doesn’t Need to Be This Complicated

There can be joy and relief found in letting go of our eating and body issues. You don't HAVE to hold on so tight.

There can be joy and relief found in letting go of our eating and body issues. You don’t HAVE to hold on so tight.

We think that healing this relationship with ourselves, with food – stopping the dieting, stopping overeating, ending restriction – we think it’s really complicated and that there must be some big step we just don’t know about because if we did, then we’d finally solve this thing once and for all.

Do you ever feel that way? Like, there’s just one more bit of information, some diet, exercise routine, some book, some workshop, somebody somewhere that’s just around the corner that has the answer you are looking for.

(Hard to hear) Newsflash: There’s nothing else to wait for. There’s no other teacher you need. No other info you must learn. No secrets knowledge being held from you.

If you’ve been going at this awhile – then, you have all the pieces you need to pull yourself out of this.

You have the ability to put each tool and everything you’ve ever learned about your struggle one into practice (you may or may not have support to do that – if that’s the case, we need to build that up).

Put it all together, apply, practice, share, keep no secrets, and you’re going to get better. Perfect? Fuck no, no one is. But less pained? Less frustrated? Less burdened? Less exhausted from trying to keep this thing going? YES.

So what’s the problem? If we are honestly doing the work, then why do we still struggle so much? There are two simple reasons I can think of:

The first one is because we haven’t let go of our desire to have this problem. This problem keeps us from really “blowing” up. There is something appealing about it – on some level. We believe that if we really do give up all our “controls” – the things we use to keep us running on this hamsterwheel, if we stop counting calories, if we really do allow ourselves to eat as much as we want, as much as our body requires, then we’re going to weigh 400 lbs. If we stop telling ourselves how ugly and unlovable our bodies are, then they’re only going to get even more unlovable. Even if intellectually we know all the things we need to do and we do them 80% of the time – we hold on so tightly to our old familiar and comforting problem because we aren’t totally convinced that it’s a problem.

There’s a teeny tiny part of us, who doesn’t want to admit to anyone – and would certainly never say it out loud – that she really doesn’t want to stop dieting. Dieting is a safety net. And we think we can get better by having our cake and eating it too. We want to be able to eat mindfully and diet. Over exercise to burn calories and listen to our bodies. We want to stuff our faces with all the foods that set off our binges and we want to stop eating when our bodies tell us we are full. We want it both ways.

We are stubborn little shits!

The second reason we’re struggling so much is that there’s a faction of us who doesn’t believe that this problem is solvable. We see magazine cover after cover with headlines of “How to lose 10 lbs in 10 days!” and “How to firm up that flab!” month after month. If weight problems were so simple to solve, wouldn’t magazines have run out of stories to run on it yet? We’re all still fighting the fight. Still looking for a solution. We’ve been told that most people gain weight back after losing. We hear how people in recovery from eating disorders must remain vigilant for life. We’ve heard the message loud and clear that this is a losing battle – so why really try? I’m not saying that healing from this stuff is easy (it’s not) but going into it believing that there is no way out, that you are destined to be “sick” or in pain and struggle forever is the surest way I know to be in pain forever.

So if you see yourself in either of these, how do you get out of it? How do you really stop it?

You have to want to get better more than you want to hold onto what is keeping you unwell (whether that’s the desire to have this problem or the belief that it is unsolvable).

The very thing you want to get rid of is the very thing you are clinging tightly to. You can’t move on from here if you don’t let go.

Believe that this problem isn’t helping you in any way.

Believe that it is solvable.

Believe that this doesn’t have to be a big issue in your life if you choose otherwise.

This part actually isn’t complicated. Please don’t look for the hard part (we’ve already been doing that all along!). Let go of your need to hold this problem so close to you. You will take a huge sigh of relief at the thought of not struggling with it anymore. You know those deep breathes you take after a really good cry? Those ones that feel like your lungs are breathing for the first time? It’s like that.

For me, I simply choose to not participate anymore.

I refuse to be complicit in torturing myself for a moment longer. Merriam-Webster defines “Complicit” as “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way”. That’s right – it is a crime. The way we treat ourselves (withholding or gorging on food, beating up our bodies with negative thoughts etc) is a crime and it’s certainly “doing wrong”. We don’t have to do it.

I’m not going to go along with it – with the craziness that bingeing and dieting over and over brings me – because i don’t have to. I don’t have to hold onto this shit like it’s some precious special part of me. It’s not. I am not special because I am not as heavy as I could be or because I am flawed in my eating history. My problems don’t make me unique and I don’t have to carry them as if they were my life’s work. I don’t have to believe that this is unfixable. Nothing good comes from that.

There is no positive side of still holding on to this part of myself. I don’t see any benefit to continuing it so I’m just going to stop. I don’t want to torture myself anymore. I don’t want to cause more struggle and pain. I see more benefit in relaxing about my “flaws”, relaxing about what I eat, relaxing in the standards I hold myself to.

I refuse to participate in the bullying of myself.

Are you here? Have you arrived at this place too? When you do, it really is as simple as just saying “I don’t want to do this to myself anymore.” We have to want to stop more than we want to continue.

I deserve more. I will feed my body the way it wants to be fed. I will care for it the way it wants to be cared for. I will not torture myself anymore.

We can uncomplicate it if we want to.

Let go. There’s no prize or reward to holding on to your pain or for believing you are unfixable or for wanting to struggle.

No more.

What would happen if you let go of it (it being your problem) for a week? for a month? for a year? forever? What would happen? Do you feel like it would be a catastrophe? Your life would completely fall apart? Would it fall apart briefly but you know you’d ultimately right yourself and be ok?  If you recognize that all the important pieces of your life would still be intact if you let go of this – you’re ready. You can let this go. If you think you desire not struggling with this shit more than you want to keep this pain, you are ready. Set it free. Let it go.

Letting go of it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t have goals and don’t want to improve your fitness level or lose weight. Sometimes we think that not having a food issue anymore means giving up on how we look or feel about our bodies. It doesn’t have to mean that. You may find that those things are actually easier when you aren’t clinging so tightly to the preconceived notions and ideas that are keeping you stuck and miserable.

If what you believe and think was working, you’d be there by now, yes? But you’re not. You’re still struggling up and down with the same 10, 20 or 30 lbs and you still find it challenging to choose meals in a restaurant that you “want” vs. what you “should” have. This shit isn’t working for you, so why are you working so hard for it?? Don’t.

Again, this part is not that complicated. You can put it down.

Take a few minutes to think about how your life would be if you chose to let go of this struggle once and for all and instead chose to put caring for yourself far above weight or food stuff. Go to a quiet place with a pen and paper and answer the following questions about this problem (our need to diet, to overeat, to hold our bodies hostage). Feel free to answer in the comment below, on Facebook or even by shooting me an email (I will respond to you!). Are you ready to uncomplicate things?

Are you ready to uncomplicate things-

I sincerely believe that one of the main routes out of our eating and body struggles is through self-reflection. Get to know yourself, how you feel, what you think, what is just under the surface! When it’s not a secret anymore, when we aren’t hiding from ourselves, it’s hard to not want to do better for ourselves. I’ve cycled up and down in all these places that I write about so many times and the only time I’ve felt like I wasn’t constantly grappling for stable ground was when I decided to put caring for myself first instead of letting my eating issues dictate my day. I know you can do the same.

One of the most helpful things in the world is sharing your struggle with another person. I invite you to schedule a free mini session with me to discuss your goals and challenges around dieting and body image. How can I be of support to you? Do you get my emails?

How to Trade Negative Self-Talk for Self-Compassion

Compassion is the secret ingredient you need to stop overeating.

Compassion is the secret ingredient you need to stop overeating.

When I was really immersed in my weight struggles, my weight going up and down over and over again, the same thoughts kept echoing repeatedly in the back of my mind:

Ug, you’re such a mess. Why do you keep doing this?
What the hell is wrong with you?
Stop eating!
You’re so gross! So fat! So stupid!
I look disgusting!

I really didn’t think anything about these thoughts at the time. I thought this was a “normal” way to talk to oneself and since the thoughts were automatic, I accepted them as being correct. As being the truth. I was rotten to myself. I was judgy and cruel but I thought that was par for the course and I had no choice in the matter.

But something I have learned along the way is that we have a choice in what thoughts become a part of our regular repertoire. We have a choice in how much energy and attention we give to each thought, even if we can’t control when and how they pop up. We can decide if we’re just going to let them pop up and pass through or if we’re going to grab onto it and make it mean something about us. I had grabbed on to these thoughts so frequently that they had become ingrained. I didn’t know that I had a choice in whether to indulge them or not – I indulged them because I believed them to be true.

Letting so many negative thoughts about myself fester eventually led to having zero compassion for myself. Or maybe it was the otherway around? I had no compassion for myself because of the actions I was taking so negative thoughts had an easy time settling in. Either way, I saw everything I did around food or my weight as my “fault”, evidence of being “fucked up” and the reason why I didn’t have the things I wanted in life. I started to believe that I was gross, that I was fat, that I was stupid and all these things meant I deserved the unhappiness that I found myself in.

Believing all that kept me in the exact place I wanted to get out of. If I believed that I was gross, believed that I was stupid and that there was so much wrong with me, I would continue to do what I had been doing to begin with. There was no incentive, motivation or reason to stop doing it – because these were clearly major character flaws that were “who I was”. I didn’t see any sense in changing because I was only going to end up in the exact same place again. So the cycle continued. . .diet, binge, diet, binge etc.

To get out of this “mess”, we really have to stop looking so harshly at our external circumstances (weight, food) and move our focus to the internal ones (thoughts, feelings, patterns). Obviously the food we put in our mouths has a major effect on our weight, our mood, our energy and what we eat can even cause us to eat more than we need but, it’s the stuff that goes on inside that gets us into the sticky place with the external stuff. I thought that I was a “gross fatty” because I had a voracious appetite but really my struggles were related to me not having any compassion for myself. I had no sympathy for my situation – I got myself there because I couldn’t keep my hand out of my mouth, right? It’s hard to care about someone’s well being when you don’t have any sympathy for them – when we think they “deserve” their plight.

One of the things you will hear me say over and over if we work together is that we have to cultivate self-love (and acceptance). You cannot keep weight off permanently and you cannot avoid bingeing if you do not love yourself. I know that sounds cheesy as hell. But it’s essential. If I don’t value myself, if I don’t love me with any and all real or perceived flaws, as I am today, then why would I take good care of myself? Why would I choose to treat my body with love with nutritious food? Why would I only eat as much as I need and no more? If I don’t care about me, if I don’t think I’m worthy or deserving of anything I want, then I may as well “treat” myself with too much food that is terrible for me – because it’s the only thing I seem to be able to give myself. Also, I deserve the suffering that comes after eating it because I’m a lazy pig. (Sound familiar??)

It feels way easier to “give” yourself a binge for comfort after a rough day than it is to give yourself compassion and love unconditionally. But really, giving yourself more compassion actually is easier – but it does take some time and effort. It’s not as instantaneous as that binge, but the results are certainly better. When you feel love and have compassion for yourself, when you aren’t judging yourself so harshly day after day, you’ll really find that food feels less like a battle.

Is compassion 100% going to fix your struggles? No, of course not, you also need to feel those feelings, be mindful while eating and all the other stuff we’ve talked about here. But all of those things will have more purpose and feel more linear if you are building them on a foundation of love and understanding of yourself!

How can we have more compassion for ourselves if we’re stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk / negative self-thoughts?


 

Here are some beginner steps to generating more compassion for yourself:

1. Notice what thoughts pop up for you regularly. No judgement – just, what sort of things do you find yourself thinking about your body? about who you are? about your abilities and worthiness?

2. Notice what you tend to do with those thoughts when you have them. Do you give them your full attention? Do you let them pass by without much attention? (probably not!) Do you repeat thinking them over and over again as punishment?

3. Don’t look for evidence. If you collect the negative thoughts and find yourself focusing on them, indulging them, analyzing them or looking for additional evidence that they are “true”, try thinking (or saying) this instead: “I’m not going to give my attention to that thought right now”. You can acknowledge the thought but you don’t have to let it build by giving it additional attention beyond that. Think of it like this: you can’t control someone you don’t like from attending the same party as you, but you can be in charge in how much you interact with them. You even have the right to leave the party!

4. Try a neutral thought in place of the negative thought. You’re not going to be able to jump from “I’m disgusting.” to “I am the most amazing person in the world” in a day and actually believe it. So why not start with something you already believe? When you have a negative thought about your body or about yourself, swap it out with something totally innocuous. A thought of “I’m stupid” could simply turn into “I have a brain”. You may not be able to say “I’m smart” yet but I’m pretty sure that there a 3lb object in your head and you can’t deny that. “My body is so fat.” could be “I have a body.” While these statements sound kind of silly, they are at least without a doubt true so you can’t doubt them. Think of this as a stepping stone from negativity to compassion and love.

5. Evaluate your compassion for others. One of the things I’ve noted about myself (and have had clients repeat to me) is that when I’m really struggling with self-compassion because of my actions with food, I also tend to be less compassionate towards others. It’s probably risky to admit this publicly, but when I’m deep in my own “shit” I am really judgemental. I have seen someone who is really overweight and had negative thoughts about them – or made assumptions about their habits, their life. I’ve seen other women and compared myself to them – wondering if I’m prettier than her? And then patting myself on the back when I find something in her appearance that I feel confident is less appealing than something about me. It feels terrible to admit that I’ve had those thoughts. But this tearing down and lack of compassion for other people goes away when I’m feeling loving towards me (and I know that is who I really am at my core). If you don’t have compassion for yourself, it’s going to appear in how you see other people too. And it’s really not about them – your judgement is really about how you feel about YOU!

Are you hyper critical of the appearance of others? Do you take pride in seeing faults or weaknesses in other people? Do you look for the worst in others?

6. Put yourself in their shoes and try being more compassionate to the very people you feel judgement towards. If you relate to the judgemental stuff I talk about in #5, then the next step for you is to put yourself in the shoes of those who you are having difficulty feeling compassion towards or people who you feel really judgemental towards. Do the opposite of judging them. Be curious and think about how you can empathize with them. And show them your compassion when you can.

What if you looked at these people with love?

The really heavy woman in the grocery store. What might her day be like? What sort of suffering might she deal with on a daily basis because of her weight? How would you feel if you were her?

The family member who keeps screwing up their life and coming to you for help. What might it feel like to be them? To know that every time they reach out that they are probably being judged for their life choices? What painful thing has happened in their life that has contributed to them making the choices they keep making?

The pretty girl at the coffee shop who has a scowl on her face. Maybe she’s not a stuck up bitch like you’re thinking – maybe something terrible has happened to her today. Or maybe she just has resting bitch face. Or maybe she might be shy and scowls so that she invites less unwanted attention. If you were her for a minute, what would she want you to know about her? How has her life not been perfect? How has she struggled? What is painful for her?

Anyone you feel “judgy” towards. The guy who cut you off in traffic. The homeless person on the subway. The waitress who didn’t ask you how your meal was. Your boss. Anyone. Why might they be the way they are? What good things can you see in them? In what way might your judgement about them be completely wrong and off base? If you were them, what would you want other’s to know about you? What sort of pain and suffering might they be dealing with? What is their presence or situation triggering in you?

7. Catch yourself. Be an observer of your thoughts so that you can practice all of this. What I mean by that, is now that you are aware of what thoughts you are having, what you do with them, how you collect evidence, how our lack of compassion for others is really a lack of compassion for ourselves, how to turn a negative thought into a neutral one and how to generate compassion for yourself by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, your job is to continue being aware when your negative self talk pops up, not indulge the negative thoughts, make them neutral if necessary and check yourself when you start judging someone else. As with everything I write about – it’s all about putting things into practice.


 

One of the ways we can have more compassion for ourselves is by having more compassion for others. When we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see why they might be the way they are, how they got in whatever situation they might be in, we realize that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns just because it might look that way on the outside. When you do this regularly, it will change you. You will genuinely start to judge other people less and you will have more love and compassion for them because you can understand that their life might be different than you think. We never know what someone else has gone through – the prettiest girl in the world has had bad shit happen to her too – we all deserve some understanding and compassion. Practice putting yourself in the shoes of people who feel judgy towards and it will be easier for you to have compassion for yourself.

One final tip: If I’m having a hard time finding a soft spot for someone (myself included), I try to think of what I would feel if they were a child. It’s really hard to feel judgy towards someone who is only beginning their life and isn’t yet responsible for all their life choices. View people as the child they were – can you feel more gentle towards them?

Compassion for you, compassion for them – it’s all connected. Whether you see it or not. The urge to pick apart, the compulsion to criticise and compare – it all comes from a place of “lack” inside us. If you don’t feel that you are lacking or undeserving or unworthy, you won’t need to tear others down. And since it’s far easier to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes (a benefit to stepping outside of ourselves) – that’s where we start to generate compassion for ourselves.

Feel love more often for everyone in your life and you will be able to feel it more for yourself. Do that and food will be less charged for you.

If you looked at yourself with compassion (like we do to others in step #6), what would you want judgy you to know about you?


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