Monthly Archives: April 2016

How to Start Eating More Mindfully

Mindful eating uses all of our senses.

Eating mindfully means using all of your senses to experience each meal.

Look at the photo above. Let’s pretend we’re about to sit down in front of that plate and eat this meal. What is the first thing you notice before you even pick up the fork? For me, it’s that I’m already salivating at the thought of that crispy and buttery waffle hitting my tongue. I can actually smell the maple syrup and the toasty smell of the waffle browning in the waffle iron even though this is just a picture. I can feel the cool crisp contrast of the tart strawberries and the sweet velvety whipped cream in my mouth, and again, this is just in my mind. I can hear the crunch as my fork presses down to carve a bite out of the waffle. A clink as it hits the plate. The maple syrup has gotten onto the stem of the fork and it’s slightly sticky. Just by looking at this photo, all of my senses can anticipate what they’d experience if only this waffle was really sitting in front of me. This is how we begin to eat mindfully, by being totally present and using our senses to experience food.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 5 – 10 years, you’ve probably heard of the term “Mindful Eating” as a solution to weight loss. It’s an alternative for those who’ve tried diets and gained the weight back, for those who still struggle with their weight despite trying to eat the right things. I have had great success using it in my own life, after growing tired of the diet mindset that left my weight going up and down and I now help other women incorporate tools like mindful eating into their own life.

It’s not for everyone and it’s not easy (despite how the practices below may sound) but if you are exhausted from trying to lose weight and keep it off by counting calories, points, and fat grams, and you know that it’s not working for you – mindful eating might be something to consider.

Today I’m going to share two of the main mindful eating practices I use but first let’s talk briefly about why diets often fail us.

 

Diets Fail Us

Overeating is the most obvious cause of weight gain and diets are awesome at managing the physical component of this – the “what” part. What should I eat? How much should I eat? Most weight gain is due to taking in more calories than our bodies are able to use. The calories we don’t use end up being stored as fat. Diets take those math equations and assume we are robots who can and will do exactly as they prescribe forever without any obstacles.

The problem with diets is that they fail to address the emotional and mental components of overeating. You may understand on a mental level that you have gained weight because you have eaten more over a long period of time than your body needs but we rarely understand why we are doing that. Why are we overeating? Diets act as if this part of the equation doesn’t exist. Again, like we’re obedient robots, instead of humans who do things for a variety of reasons.

If we can address why we are overeating in the first place, we can reduce how often it happens. If overeating is less of an issue, weight gain is not going to be much of a problem anymore.

There are several reasons why we overeat, one of them I addressed in How to Feel Your Feelings. Another reason is because of how mindlessly we eat (and how mindlessly we go through life in general). We eat too fast, with too many distractions and we’re not present when we consume a meal. With our senses not taking in the meal and at the speed we eat, our brain doesn’t receive signals it needs (from our stomach as well as sensually) that we’ve had enough to eat. Living this way makes it challenging to ever feel satisfied after a meal – we’re always left wanting more, even if we are physically full. Mindful eating is a practice that can help bring us back to the present and quell the urge to overeat because it connects the dots between the brain and our stomach, helping us to feel satisfied.

Now we’ll get down to it!

 

Two Big Mindful Eating Practices to Try

1. Start treating mealtimes as if you were meeting with a old friend you haven’t seen in years.

If you were super excited to see this friend, you would give her your full attention! Your eyes would take all of her in the moment you saw her (does she look the same? totally different?). You’d give her a hug and the smell of her perfume would bring you back to another time. The sound of her laugh would make you feel completely at home. You wouldn’t dream of multitasking, checking email or reading while spending time with her, would you? Omg, no that would be so rude!!! Do the same thing when you eat, every time.

Give the meal your full attention.

Be completely present with the food in front of you.

Don’t do anything other than eat – no multitasking. That means put your smartphone away, turn off the TV, don’t read the newspaper or a book, don’t eat in the car (unless it’s absolutely necessary).

Don’t distract yourself.

Use all your senses: Look at the food in front of you (is it colorful? textured?), Smell it (does it have a strong aroma? pleasant? pungent?), Does it make any sounds? Is your plate sizzling hot? Does the food crunch when you chew it?, Taste: Do you like how it tastes? Is it sweet, salty, sour, bitter or savory? Feel: How does the food feel in your mouth? Is it too hot or cold? What is the texture like? Smooth, silky, rough, crumbly? Other things to notice: when you see or smell the food, do you notice saliva forming in your mouth? Are you excited to eat this meal? Are you actually hungry? If you were going to describe this meal to an alien from another planet, how would you describe it to them?

 

2. Learn the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger, commit to eating only when you feel physical hunger and get into the habit of talking to yourself.

Physical hunger comes on slowly, emotional hunger feels urgent (gotta have it now!!).

Physical hunger can be satisfied with anything (you’re willing to eat broccoli or a salad), emotional hunger will only be satisfied by something specific (I want something sweet!).

Physical hunger goes away when you’ve eaten, emotional hunger hangs around even when you’re very full.

Eating to satisfy physical hunger feels neutral, while eating to satisfy emotional hunger will bring up feelings of guilt and shame.

Start practicing trying to eat only when you feel physical hunger. This will probably be the hardest thing to do – that’s ok, just start noticing the difference between the two and becoming conscious of the choice you make (no judgements).

Sounds easy enough to figure out which is which, right? But it’s not so simple when you’re in the moment. When you feel emotionally hungry, all you can think about is “how can I get my hands on something that will satisfy this?”.  The way I work around that urge is to have a conversation with myself. I ask myself  “What would make me feel best in this moment?” and then I really listen closely to the answer before I actually respond to the craving.

If it’s physical hunger, I have the consciousness to choose something that is nutritious for my body (hard boiled eggs, quinoa salad, a banana and peanut butter etc).

If it’s emotional hunger, the question leaves room for an answer that is something other than food. Notice I don’t ask “What do I want to eat?” If I did that and it’s emotional hunger, I am going to sabotage the shit out of myself with a bag of doritos. Asking what would make me feel best in this moment? opens the door for that emotional urge to be expressed in another way.

Believe it or not but most of the time, the true answer to this question will be something other than food – it might be a hug, a nap, a phone call to a friend, a walk, some time spent journaling, a long bath and a good book etc. Your emotions want to be felt and expressed and if they had the option, food wouldn’t be their first choice in expression, so help them out by asking them something that will bring out other answers.

Occasionally you’ll ask this question and even when listening closely for the answer, it will be an ice cream sundae or a piece of pizza. That’s ok. Sometimes those things are what would make us feel best but honestly those times are rare. If you get an answer like this and aren’t sure if it’s emotional hunger or truly what would make you feel best, how do you know? This part is actually easy . . . do you think eating that ice cream sundae will make you feel bad after you eat it? If you know it will, that’s emotional hunger and you should dig deeper for another answer to “What would make me feel best in this moment?“, because if it’s going to bring up guilt or shame, those are obviously not emotions that are going to make you feel best. If you know you can eat the sundae and feel neutral and at ease about it – you’ve answered the question thoughtfully and mindfully and you can go ahead and have it.

 

How To Start Eating More Mindfully

You aren’t going to go from a lifetime of using structured diets to seamless mindful eating in one go. It best learned slowly. You want to dip your toe in slowly like you would in a cold pool of water and then slowly move into the water a little by little as you get used to the temperature of it. Sure, you’ll get used to the water a lot faster if you just dive in, but you run the risk of wanting to get out of the pool immediately!

Choose one meal per day to practice this with at first. Which meal of the day naturally allows for the most time to yourself? Which meal will allow you to not feel rushed? Pick that meal and for 10 days practice mindful eating with that meal only. Again, pretend you are seeing an old friend for the first time in years – treat the meal the same as you would her, with your full attention. At this daily meal:

  • Eat while sitting down (not in the car) and without distractions or multitasking.
  • Chew each bite slowly and thoroughly.
  • Notice the food with all your senses. How does it look, smell, taste, sound and feel? Your mind will naturally want to wander to your to do list, if you want to give it something to do, bring your attention back to your plate and experience the food with all of your senses.
  • Take deep breaths and relax into the process.

When you start to feel like being mindful at this one meal per day is totally doable, see if you can do it for two meals per day or for one meal and when you have a snack. This will take time. Do not become discouraged if it’s not easy!

Begin a meditation practice. I know, it may seem like another subject entirely, but one of the biggest struggles with people just beginning a mindful eating practice is that they’re not used to being alone with their thoughts and it is uncomfortable not “doing” anything else while eating. One way to flex this muscle so that being present while you eat becomes the norm is to get used to meditation. All you have to do is find a quiet place where you can shut your eyes and take deep, slow breaths for 2 minutes a day. If you can do 2 minutes easily, try to do 3, if that’s easy do 5 minutes. Notice how long you can go before you start to feel restless and practice relaxing into this time for yourself. I found this really hard to do at first because I’m not very good at relaxing naturally – but working on this has made mindful eating much easier for me to settle in to.

Keep coming back to it. If you start a mindful eating practice and notice that 4 bites into the meal you automatically picked up your phone to browse the internet. Just bring your attention back and try again. If you notice that you are eating fast while standing at the sink because you’re in a rush, sit down and try again. No one learns to play the violin in a day and gets to Carnegie Hall. We have years of habits to correct – be patient and unrelenting in your persistence. It will get easier the more you do it.

This is just a small taste of how you can start to use mindful eating as a tool for weight loss and preventing overeating. If you’d like to see if it’s something that might work for you, I’d love to support you in doing this. I’m passionate about helping women connect the dots in their relationship with food! This stuff is much easier to do when you have support along the way. Contact me and we can set up a time to discuss.


If you’re not ready for a consult with Andrea but you like what she has to say, then please download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

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How to Feel Your Feelings (so You Can Stop Eating Them)

How to Feel Your Feelings instead of eating them

How to Feel Your Feelings instead of eating them

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile (or are on my email list), you’ve heard me say many times that a huge cause of emotional eating is from us not being willing to feel our feelings. We feel the first twinge of something uncomfortable – something we think we can’t feel – and our first response is to push it away and stuff food in our mouths as a barrier to keep those feelings at a distance. We think we won’t survive if we let these uncomfortable feelings in, if we allow them space, they’ll take over and we’ll be stuck feeling terrible forever.

But that’s not how feelings work. Feelings come and go. They pass just like clouds on a windy day. They come over us in in waves, and yes, sometimes they are quite strong, but they’re not deadly. You will survive them.

 

Toddlers and Cats are Skilled in Feeling Feelings

I have two examples I like to use when describing how feelings really work and how easy it is to actually survive them. Hopefully you can relate to one of them! The first is that of a cat. One minute, your cat is purring happily on your lap, enjoying you petting her. She might even lick your hand and drool – that’s how much she’s loving the attention. This might last for 2 minutes or it might go on for a half hour or more, but eventually, she’s going to decide that she’s had enough and she’ll jump off you and go do her thing elsewhere, and then look at you like she doesn’t even know you. If you get up and go try to pet her now, she’ll probably walk away again, almost recoiling from your touch. She’s totally over it. Her reaction to you is so changed that it’s almost as if she has no memory that she was begging for your attention just a moment ago. The other example is that of a toddler. Think of a toddler in the grocery store. One minute, he’s happily babbling and playing with a toy he brought from home. All is well in the world. The next minute, a colorful snack in the store catches his attention and he has a complete meltdown over it. He must have it but the parent is unaware of what specific object of his desire is. He can’t communicate verbally what it is that he wants so his only tools are crying, screaming and stomping until hopefully the parent figures it out. By the time the parent has gotten through the checkout line and back to the car, the toddler is calm again and happily playing with his toy. Except for a few drying tear streaks on his cheeks, you would never know that anything dramatic had just occurred.

Toddlers are good at feeling their feelings. You can be too.

Toddler’s feelings change in just an instant and they feel them deeply. One minute they are happy and peaceful and the next it is a total meltdown, and back to being peaceful all before you can catch your breath. Their feelings are felt deeply and they come out of it ok. You will too!

Our uncomfortable feelings act the same way as the cat and the toddler – they come on strong and may feel overwhelming but suddenly they’re gone and we’re still the same person we were before they happened, and a new feeling is in it’s place. You can get through this. You don’t have to eat to deal with it.

Feeling your feelings can take a little work to get used to doing regularly, but it’s actually surprisingly simple.

 

How to Feel Your Feelings

How do you feel your feelings?? You just feel them.

That’s really it. Step 1: Feel them.

You let them happen. You let them be. You let the awful, the uncomfortable and the stressful feelings come over you and then you don’t react to them beyond letting yourself feel the way you feel.

Feeling your feelings almost feels like you’re not doing anything. There’s very little action and doing and for some of us, this is what makes it so challenging. We are used to “doing” – eating, avoiding, restricting, resisting, distracting in every area of our lives.

Feeling uncomfortable feelings takes practice because we’re not used to letting ourselves feel that way.  Most of us do better with feeling good. Have you ever just sat outside for a few minutes and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine? You feel good doing this. It’s easy. You don’t have to work hard at feeling that way. We know how it feels to just be, for a few moments and enjoy the peace and quiet and be with our thoughts in those moments. After a few minutes in the fresh air, you feel renewed, empowered and ready to go back to your day. But your mood can change quickly even after a nice time outside – you might get a phone call you didn’t want to get, your boss may throw a huge last minute project on your desk or you may run into someone you really don’t like. Really our feelings change all the time due to our interactions with others and thoughts we’re having (conscious ones and unconscious ones). The good feelings pass and the bad ones pass too.

When a feeling you don’t want to feel comes up, think of a time when you were sitting outside enjoying the day and how easy it is to feel your feelings in that moment. You can feel your less comfortable feelings just as easily if you get into the habit of doing it.

 

Step By Step “How to Feel Your Feelings” For Those Who Can’t Believe that “Just Feeling Them” is All There is To It.

 

  1. When a feeling you don’t want to feel makes you want to run to the kitchen, go to a quiet place where you can be alone, without food and without your phone, ipad or TV.
  2. Just be with your thoughts and feelings. There is nothing to do but feel whatever way you are feeling.
  3. Notice that you’ll probably repeatedly feel the urge to get up – and you might keep feeling like you have to do something but not remember what that was (that’s your autopilot reaction to go comfort and distract with food). Notice that that is what you are doing (going on autopilot) and just consciously bring your attention back to your feelings.

Most of us need something to “do” when we’re first starting out with this stuff. We’re so not used to just allowing ourselves to be that we will feel like we’re wasting time or that we’re doing things wrong if there isn’t a clear linear path to progress. There isn’t one so you can stop looking.

4. If you need something more concrete in the beginning stages of this work, here’s a           writing exercise to help you feel your feelings and pull your attention back to them:

  • Get a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.
  • Write down exactly what you are feeling. Describe it as best you can. What does it feel like? What does it make you want to do? If it had a color, what would it be? Where in the body are you physically feeling the feeling? Describe any physical sensations and where you feel them. Is the feeling heavy? Does it vibrate? Does it give you energy or take your energy away?

Flesh out as much as you can about this feeling. Doing this will help you start to recognize this feeling the next time you feel it, and it will also help show you that it’s something that is harmless. By the time you finish describing it the feeling will probably have just about passed.

 

What Not To Do When Feeling Your Feelings

I’ve already mentioned that when we’re feeling our feelings it’s important to not avoid, resist or push away the feeling (which we often do by “doing”). Another thing that we have to do when learning how to just “feel” is to not find ways to distract ourselves. Obviously distracting ourselves with food is how we got into this situation to begin with and so distracting is something we’re really good at.

If you look at advice articles on how to stop eating too much, the advice is almost always full of things like have a glass of water, chew on something crunchy and low calorie like celery, go for a walk, call a friend, read a book etc. Now, I think those things can sometimes be helpful overall when learning new habits that don’t include eating junk food – but they’re not helpful to someone who has spent years not feeling their feelings and is trying to learn how to do that. In those cases, going for a walk or drinking water just serves as a temporary filler or distraction which will defeat the whole purpose of this. Sure, going for a walk when you don’t want to feel uncomfortable will probably make you feel better (and it’s good for you), but for today’s purpose, we’re not trying to make ourselves feel better. We’re trying to learn how to be ok when we feel badly. Teach yourself that you don’t have to “fix” your feelings, you just need to be able to feel it and food will becomes less of a coping mechanism (because there’s nothing you have to fix – nothing went wrong and this will pass!).

Don’t do anything right now. Just feel. Your job is to get comfortable with being with yourself and not do anything other than that.

If you find yourself resorting to avoiding, pushing, resisting or distracting yourself – planning your next vacation, thinking about cooking dinner, reaching for your smartphone (which is supposed to be in the other room, remember?) come back to the writing exercise above. Start writing again. See if your feeling has changed from when you first started to write.

Am I Better Now?

That’s really it. I know, you might have expected a complicated process but really feeling feelings is something simple that we innately know how to do. We’ve taught ourselves to not feel them and it’s just a matter of relearning how to feel.

As with most things I write and teach my clients about, this is not something you do once and then are suddenly great at. It takes a lot of practice, vulnerability and a willingness to embrace your fears. You will occasionally resort to old habits of trying to comfort yourself with food when you feel bored, frustrated, angry, sad, confused etc even when you think you’ve mastered this skill. But keep coming back to it over and over. Be willing to feel your feelings always, no matter how terrible they are and no matter how badly you don’t want to feel that way. You have no choice really. You can either feel the crappy feeling now and have it move on (like the cat or the toddler above) or you can avoid the feeling and eat instead, only to still feel crappy later anyway!

Just like with all the other peaceful eating skills I talk about, feeling your feelings is just one of many things we need to do for ourselves to be well. It’s a practice that you can develop and customize and make your own, so that you can have the relationship with food that you’d like to have. This alone won’t make you better, but it’s absolutely necessary if you’re an emotional eater.

Can you feel anything without turning to food? That’s the goal. When the day comes when you are willing to feel any feeling, not because you like feeling bad (no one does), but because you know they’re just feelings and you can handle anything, that’s how you’ll know that you are beating this stuff. What’s the worst that will happen if you let yourself feel what you’re feeling (instead of turning to food)? Nothing.  I know you can handle any feeling. Now it’s your turn to convince yourself of it.

Do you want help putting this practice in your own life? Contact me to set up a free consult and let’s see if we’d be a good fit to work together.


Download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

Want to Lose Weight? Commit to A Sacred Self Care Plan (and yes, you are worth it)

Make self care sacred, non-negotiable so that the things you need to do to lose weight or live your live don't fall to the wayside.

Make self care sacred so that the things you need to do to lose weight or live your life your way don’t fall to the wayside.

If we want to successfully lose weight or stop overeating once and for all, we need to create an environment where this is possible.

Unfortunately we tend to live high stress lives where we don’t have much time to tend to needs beyond work and family , which means that our health isn’t always at the top of our priority list, but if we want to make progress in this area, it has to be. There is no option other than making it a priority (if you are serious about making it happen). Working on this stuff has to be just as important as sleeping, going to work, and caring for your family. We have to fit it in. We can’t keep putting it on the back burner and expecting the same results as people who do make their life fit their goals.

An environment that is conducive to weight loss and not overeating is one that holds a sacred space for self-care. People who lose weight for the long term do it because they have committed themselves to a lifestyle that includes self care. Knowing this can be a great tool for weight loss and for finding ways to make self care a priority in your life.

What is self care?

Self care is all of the deliberate things we do to keep ourselves performing and functioning our best. Fitting in exercise that makes your body feel good, Making time for friends, setting aside the money and time for a massage, eating food that nourishes your body and practicing meditation which calms your anxiety are all examples of self care. Even basic things that most of us may take for granted – like showering each day and taking medications can be included in self care.

I want you to make self care sacred, which means holding some space for yourself at the top of your priority list. I’m not saying you have to save all the room at the top for you, but please put yourself at least on the same lateral line as your partner, your kids or your job. You are not less than them and you don’t deserve less care.

The idea of sacred self care may seem indulgent, it may seem like a luxury afforded to those who have more time than you, or it may just seem completely out of reach if you are someone who does nothing but give to everyone in your life but you.  It’s not indulgent, it’s absolutely necessary if you want to have the emotional, mental and physical capacity to be the woman you want to be. And especially if that woman is someone who wants to lose weight or stop eating too much.

I understand that you want to be a great mom, wife, sister, friend, employee and/or boss and so you think that means sacrificing your own needs and wants in order to provide for others (because that’s what society tells us we’re supposed to do). Here’s the thing though, a physically exhausted mom is not going to be able to respond to her child the way she’d like to, a mentally drained employee is going to be less productive and more likely to make mistakes at work. An emotionally tapped out wife is not going to be able to connect to her partner at the end of the day or be able to maintain friendships. When we support our needs first, we actually have more to give elsewhere in our lives. If you are well nourished – body, mind and soul – then think of how much more you will be able to connect to the people in your life? How much more will you be able to understand your child’s needs? How much more will you be able to focus at work? How much more of a friend will you be able to be?

If sacred self care isn’t appealing to you on the grounds that it will help you be more available in all the relationships you are already giving everything to, guess what? The benefits don’t end there. It’ll also help you be more creative, connect to yourself or your higher power on a deeper spiritual level and you’ll be able to tap into your abilities in ways that you didn’t know were possible – all because when you are well cared for your brain and spirit have the flexibility to go places beyond just making it through your daily routine.

Why does self care being sacred matter for weight loss and ending overeating?

It’s pretty simple actually: Holding self care sacred means that you don’t automatically push your needs aside as at the first inkling that someone requests your time or attention.  Someone who is has made self care a priority is not afraid to raise their hand and say “Hold up, I can’t stay late after work tonight” because she has an exercise class to get to or “Honey, will you do the dishes for me?” so that she can do food prep for the week” and she is going to get where she wants to be. The woman who holds self care sacred sees herself, her needs and goals just as important as the goals and needs of the other people and things in her life. This means that the things they need to do to make those things happen, won’t be pushed aside until all the kids are out of the house (or retirement).

She’s going to get her workout in. She’s going to move her body the way it asks to be moved. She’s going to make sure she has time to plan, buy and prep healthy nutritious foods that keep her satisfied (and less swayed by chips and sweets). She recognizes that getting a massage isn’t just an hour of quiet to herself – it’s also a super healthy thing to do for her health, which spills over into the health of her family. She’s not going to ditch what she needs and wants for another day, another time – she can care for her family, do an amazing job at work and make time for herself too and she understands that having all of this may require asking for help.

To create an environment where weight loss and overeating is a thing of the past, you want to create a self care plan. This plan or routine has to be one that speaks to you, that makes you feel soothed, supported, nourished and tended to. A self care plan should contain the things that you need to have in your life in order to feel and function your best. Only you can determine what those things are and maybe right now they are so far out of reach that you don’t have the faintest idea of what you need to be your best – ok, then brainstorm. Get out a pen and paper and dream a little – if you had all the time, help and support that you needed, what do you think you would need to be your best on a daily basis? To keep you running efficiently and not stressed?

Here are some of the things that are requirements in my self care plan (which I definitely hold sacred):

  • I sleep late. I’m naturally a night owl and am my most productive and creative in the evening hours. This means I stay up  later than most but I also require a lot of sleep (and obviously sleep is really important). So to combat my late hours, I sleep late whenever it’s possible. I’m up early when I have a morning client or an appointment, but if Saturday comes and I don’t have to be anywhere, you will totally find me in bed until 11am (possibly later)! Getting enough sleep and doing it on the hours when it makes most sense for my life is super important to me.
  • I exercise as frequently as possible but also listen closely to how my body is feeling on any given day. I have learned that I’m someone who needs movement in her life to stay sane and the more I move, the better I feel. Exercise reduces my anxiety, helps to clear my head and keeps my body strong. I push myself when it feels right but I also back off when it’s right for me. It’s really important to know your body and what it needs. Because I want to be able to keep moving my body, I have to listen to it and that means adapting to how it feels on any given day – some days I feel like I can do anything and other days, a short walk or gentle yoga is all I will feel like doing. When I miss a few days of activity, I start to feel cranky, restless and borderline depressed. I also know that a lack of exercise can be a trigger for me to eat more (may sound crazy but it’s how my mind works!). If I want to do what I need to do in life (and also keep my weight stable), exercise is a must and I make the time for it, even if it’s only 10 minutes some days.
  • I get an extended massage and facial every 6 weeks. Indulgent and expensive? Maybe, but that’s where I choose to spend my extra money and it’s worth every penny to my physical and mental well being. I have high blood pressure so getting a massage is a great way to force me to relax and unwind (something that is challenging for me) and it keeps my muscles from getting too tight from all my workouts. And the facial is also relaxing of course, but really I do it because it keeps me looking my best (and I am vain as they come)! Haha!
  • I spend time doing a few things I love every week. My personality type is one that gets stressed out easily so I make sure I have some time for hobbies and activities that relax and reenergize me. Reading, working on my genealogy projects, meeting up with friends, dinner out with John, cooking an elaborate fancy meal (that may or may not fit into the category of healthy) or working on different craft projects are a few things I like to “schedule in” to the week. If I don’t make room for at least 2 or 3 hours of “fun” time for myself throughout the week then I find I start to get stressed and restless which honestly affects my work, mood and relationships. Doing the fun stuff keeps me more balanced!
  • I plan ahead and prepare for the week. As I’ve mentioned, I’m an anxious, easily stressed lady (see a pattern to my self care, haha!) and there’s nothing I deal with more poorly than being unprepared or not having enough time to do things. I’m not good at rushing and I know I need a certain plan and order to keep me functioning my best. This means, if I have a really busy week coming up, I look ahead and plan out simple meals, snacks and even my workouts. If I do this, I know I’ll stay on track. If I don’t do these things, convenience foods that make me feel like crap suddenly find their way into my diet or I will miss 3 days of exercise in a row, which tends to make me slide into tricky territory with my eating habits. Taking the time to think ahead and prepare for busy weeks makes a massive difference in whether I finish the week feeling awesome or feel completely broken down. I’d rather feel awesome so it’s worth the hour or two it takes me to do this!

    Reading is a part of how I relax and destress - so it's something I make room for in my self care plan.

    Reading is a part of how I relax and destress – so it’s something I make room for in my self care plan.

That’s just some of the non-negotiable stuff in my self care plan. It took me a long time to feel comfortable making room for all of this in my life. I think as women, naturally we tend to feel guilty about making time for ourselves (because we’re the caregivers in many areas of our life) but it’s really something we need to overcome if we want to get the most out of our lives. You may not be able to do the specific things I mentioned in self care (not many folks have the luxury of sleeping late or keeping my weird hours!) but that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out what you need and how that can work in your life. 

My weight journey has been complicated but it got less so when I decided to make myself a priority. When I put “me” first (through sacred self care), I’m less likely to have a binge, less likely to skip a month’s worth of exercise, less likely to “need” that cheesecake and less likely to yo yo up and down on the scale. That kind of peace with food is invaluable to me and I don’t think I could have it without dedicating some room for a serious self care practice!

If you don’t have a life that has room for self care in it right now, what can you do to change that? Can you hire someone to help with childcare (even for 2 hours a week)? Can you ask your spouse or partner to pitch in more? Can you talk to your boss about flex time at work so that you can work hours that make more sense for your life? Is there anyone you could barter with to get your needs met? (Maybe you have a skill or time you could offer to someone else in trade for what you need help with?)

Think about all possibilities before you say “I can’t do any of that”. What could you do? What could you possibly ask for? Where can you get help so that your needs are a priority?

First, know that you are worth being on the front burner and second, ask for the support you need so that you can create the life you want.


Download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

Weight Loss: How to Lose Weight Forever (Instead of Fast)

A few things to practice if you want to lose weight forever (give up losing weight fast!)Last week I talked about the benefits of switching from a “fast” weight loss mindset or timeline to a forever one. This week, I promised I would share some of the ways you can switch out of that “fast” mindset into a “forever” one. Yes, it is slower – the weight will not fall off you in a week. It may take months and in many cases years, but if you learn how to live this way and really commit to it, you won’t find yourself yo-yo-ing up and down attempting to solve the same problem repeatedly – and that means you’ll have more time to live your life the way you were meant to live it.

So how do we get you on the path to forever weight loss?

Here are a few things you’ll need to start practicing:

1. Aim for what we call the 90/10 rule. I’ve talked about this several times on the blog, make 90% of your daily food intake high quality and nutritious (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, animal or plant protein sources etc) and then 10% can be whatever you want (sugar, candy, chips, booze). You can do this several ways – some people do this by meal – they’ll have 9 super high quality meals and then their 10th meal is a fun cheat meal. If you’re a calorie counter (not my preference) and you are aiming for 1800 calories a day, you can sprinkle in 180 calories of treats in your day (and the other 1620 calories would be super nutritious stuff). I do it a little more loosely because I don’t like counting things anymore – I tend to save my treats for sugar in my coffee, some wine or chocolate. Do I stray from 90/10? Absolutely. It’s not a hard and fast rule – it’s a general guideline to try to live by (and it can help us make better choices throughout the day).

One thing people get confused with when talking about 90% nutritious / 10% treats is that they think that means that their nutritious food has to be boring or bland. Not at all! I use things like avocado, spicy extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, spices, herbs, lemons, chile-garlic paste, tamari and toasted sesame oil to add richness and flavor to my food. Those are all nutritious things. And I always buy the highest quality ingredients that I can afford. Try not to confuse nutritious with being low fat, low calorie or low flavor – they are not mutually exclusive.

2. Get familiar with how foods make your body feel. Often we think we “know” how a food makes us feel because we like or don’t like a food. We see our preferences for food as being evidence for how they feel in our body – but it’s not the same thing. I loved doritos and bagels and found myself buying them when I needed comfort – thinking that emotional comfort was the same as making my body feel good but they actually both make me feel awful physically which I only noticed when I started to look into it.

Keep a food journal for several weeks and write down everything you eat / drink and note how you feel immediately after each meal and how you feel a few hours after. After awhile you’ll see patterns emerging – you may discover that every time you eat rice noodles you feel ravenous at bedtime and that makes it hard to sleep. You may find that when you have oatmeal for breakfast you feel like you can go forever between meals. You may find that eating beans makes you feel bloated and tired but eating salmon makes you feel energized and satisfied. Once you know what foods make you feel great and what ones make you feel not so good, you’ll find making choices about what you should eat (and how much) becomes really easy. Now that I’m so aware of how awful bagels and doritos make me feel, I have no interest in them. And it’s way easier to not binge on something if you don’t want it!

3. Eat according to how much food it takes to make you feel comfortable/ just satisfied. This one can be a huge challenge but is so worth practicing. Don’t eat to total fullness or very full. But also don’t let yourself get too hungry. Aim to keep yourself always between just satisfied and slightly hungry. What does that even mean? You have to experiment to figure this out for yourself. Most of us eat according to how many calories something is, or how many serving sizes, points or some other unit of measurement. But how many times have you finished eating your portion of one of these measurements and felt like it was too much or not enough? Instead of using units of measurement to determine how much you should eat, I want you to get used to using your own body’s signals to determine when you should stop eating.

This is really scary at first if you’ve never done it before. You’ll need to keep a food journal (like above) for several weeks and note after each meal where you were on a hunger scale – still hungry? satisfied? full? very full? Start to notice how little food it takes to get you from very hungry to just satisfied. There are many hunger scales out there (a quick google search can help you find one that works for you) –  use one that makes the most sense to you.

How much food do you have to eat to go from just satisfied to full? This experiment requires patience and quite a bit of mindfulness – which is possibly something you are not used to doing when eating. Stick with it until you are sure you know what “satisfied” vs. full vs. hungry feels like. Describe those feelings in your body in great detail – what do they feel like to you? Most of us have forgotten what hunger, satisfaction and fullness feels like – but when we were children we naturally ate according to listening to our body. Once you know what they feel like and the difference between them, your goal is to always eat to “just satisfied”. Practice doing this over and over again until it becomes second nature. One key to being successful in doing this is to not let yourself ever get too hungry. A little bit of hunger is fine (in fact it can do many of us some good) but letting ourselves get past a certain point of hunger will make it incredibly hard to make good decisions when food is finally within reach. A little hungry is ok. Starving is not.

Lose weight forever instead of fast.

Want to lose weight forever? We have to practice things a little differently.

4. Practice being “okay” about food/body things we normally freak out about. The scale going up a little. Your pants fitting tight today. Skipping a couple of workouts in a row. Eating too much at your last meal. Eating foods that you have labeled as “bad”. Life is going to happen – no matter how long you are on this journey, you are going to have days where you don’t eat the way you want to or you eat more than you would have liked. The best thing to do when that happens is to not make a big deal about it. Accept that it happened, don’t beat yourself up or make judgements about it and move on. One of the things that keeps us make poor choices about food is constantly feeling bad about our choices. We think that if we don’t criticize ourselves then we’ll just keep doing it and blow up to extreme proportions but really our constant criticisms is exactly what makes us feel bad enough to reach for the extra food. Notice your reaction when these situations come up and try swapping out negative words and thoughts towards yourself for neutral ones (I like saying “oh well” or “no big deal”) and then literally force yourself to move on. Don’t wallow or go back looking for more evidence that you did something wrong (yes, I know this is challenging – it only gets easier if you interrupt the pattern regularly).

The less a “big deal” I make any of my eating stuff, the less of a big deal it is. It’s the truth. My weight doesn’t go up and down by 10 or 20 pounds every other month now. I can enjoy an indulgent night out with my husband that includes truffle fries, wine and dessert without hating myself for 10 days afterwards.

Try to be kinder to yourself for 2 months. No name calling, no catastrophizing, no harsh punishments, restrictive eating or excessive exercise regimens in retaliation. If it’s easier to put yourself in the right mindframe, practice living the same way as you think someone without an overeating issue or weight problem might live. Does a naturally slender person panic when they have a single piece of cake? Does she tear herself down for 3 days after eating it? No. She eats it. Enjoys it and goes about her life. Pretend you are her (for 2 months) – and then let’s see how many of her natural kinder habits you’ve started to acquire.

5. Make feeding yourself properly a priority.  In our culture, we’ve come to value convenience, speed and comfort over the quality of the food we put in our bodies. Yes, our lives are busy today, but they’re also way easier than those of our ancestors. We whine about having prepare meals that take more than 10 minutes to make which is hilarious when our ancestors essentially spent their entire days doing tasks that contributed to the feeding of the family. We have all these conveniences in life now that make it possible that we can live these busy lives full of other things that take up so much of our time – but we bitch about this tiny thing we have to do like grocery shopping and cooking. Why is something that is so crucial to our health and survival given so little priority in all of our lives? We all have the same amount of hours in our day and I will bet that there is something in your life that can take a back seat so that food prep can take a priority. It’s really about weighing what’s important to us and there is no way around this one – if you want to lose weight, if you want to get healthy, if you want to be less challenged emotionally by food – then you must make food planning, shopping and prep a top priority.

Time and time again when I see people fall off the wagon, it’s because they gave up in this area. I know it’s easier to order pizza 3 nights a week and to hit the drive thru at lunch – but it’s not going to get you where you want to go.

Look, I know as much as I love to cook, there are days where I just want someone to come into my kitchen and cook for me (and clean up!! So much clean up!). I know how hard it can be. But you know what’s harder? Eating for convenience and comfort and being unhappy forever with how that makes your body look or feel. Keeping you fed well is the only way you will ever reach your goals – and unless you are in a tiny subset of the population who can afford to have a private chef, this is something you need to put at the top of your priority list. There is no negotiating here.


So those are just a few of the things you can start doing today to make a switch from fast weight loss to forever weight loss. If you need some support in making this switch – I know someone who could help (me!). Shoot me a note and let’s set up an appointment.

Make no mistake – none of this is easy at first. It’s essentially a complete reversal to what most of us have been doing our whole lives and it takes a lot of discipline to change it. Remember, anything we want to get good at, we have to practice. No one wakes up one day and is an amazing piano player or fluent in 4 languages after reading one blog post or book. No one is an incredible public speaker the first time they get on stage. No one can do advanced yoga asanas the first time they get on the mat. No one creates their best artwork the first time they ever put pencil to paper. Overhauling our eating habits so that we can have less ups and downs throughout our life is something we have to practice – daily. You can’t do these things once or twice and expect to be fixed. But if you come back to these things daily, and really make the effort to put them into your life and call yourself out when you try to hide or lie your way through it, then I know you will make huge strides towards forever weight loss and a happier relationship with your body and food. And isn’t that worth it?

Download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).