Monthly Archives: September 2016

Things That’ll Happen when You Stop Obsessing Over What and How Much to Eat

This croissant is not "bad" and you are not "bad" if you eat it. It's just food and eating one of them is not going to alter your body in a significant way. You can enjoy it freely.

This croissant is not “bad” and you are not “bad” if you eat it. It’s just food and eating one of them is not going to alter your body in a significant way. You can enjoy it freely.

Improving your relationship with food is a little bit like cleaning your house. You think you’re making awesome progress and you’ve worked really hard, but every time you turn around there is another pile of junk to deal with! Who put this here? When did I acquire this?? How did this get here?

All joking aside, it might be helpful to think about our food relationships getting “better” as something like a long hike! You may spend some time in valleys and on several peaks. It’s not a straight line from A to B. There might be detours onto a different trail, occasionally it might feel like you are back pedaling (why is this trail going down again, when we’ve been going up for so long!?), there will be some gorgeous views if you’re lucky, but sometimes it’s cloudy out and there won’t be any view – you’ll just have to trust that it’s there. Sometimes it’s all you can do to just keep your eyes on your feet and pray that they keep lifting up off the ground to take another step in front of you. At the end of the day, you’re exhausted, sore and filthy and yet you feel proud of your tenacity and maybe even look forward the next hike.

Improving your relationship with food is a little like hiking - tiring, long and sometimes frustrating but totally worth it.

(Summit of Mt Tecumseh this past weekend) Improving your relationship with food is a little like hiking – tiring, long and sometimes frustrating but totally worth it.

I’ve stumbled a lot along the way. The women I work with have too. Sometimes it feels like you are still at square one. But other times, if we look back at where we were a year ago, 2 years ago, 10 years ago, we can see how much progress we really have made.

One thing I’ve been noticing lately is how different my thoughts around food have gotten. For so very long, it was almost impossible for me to enjoy a meal without first having calculated the calories in it. I’d look at menus before arriving at a restaurant, so that I could factor in what meal would fit in calorically with the other meals that day. Everything had to add up correctly and I would plan and adjust constantly so that it did. It felt like a game that I could never win. When I stopped religiously calorie counting, it was incredibly hard not to do the mental math automatically. I had memorized the calorie count and nutritional details of almost every possible food out there. It’s really hard to “unlearn” that but I’ve made a huge effort to put my mind on the quality of the food I’m eating and learning how to read my hunger and fullness signals. Sometimes I’ve had to essentially “hush” that part of my brain that wants to add up the numbers. A lot at first. But I do that less and less now.

My point is that the less I focus on how much to eat and whether or not I “should” or “shouldn’t” eat something, the more “normal” eating makes sense. By holding on a little less tightly to controlling it all, the hold food has had on me has loosened up too. I let go of what I thought I couldn’t let go of and by doing that, it’s letting go of me too. I’ve been finding myself making choices lately, that may not be the “healthiest” of foods but being able to enjoy them in a reasonable amount – without it turning into a binge, or beating myself up. Enjoying without making it mean anything more.

I’ve been compiling a list of surprising things that have happened along the way as my relationship with food has become easier. Things I wasn’t expecting or I thought wasn’t a big deal until I looked back at where I was originally and could see what a huge deal it really is.

For someone who doesn’t eat emotionally, hasn’t spent their life dieting or bingeing or overeating every night of their lives, this stuff must sound so stupid! But for those of us for whom, food has taken on a larger than life personality, this kind of progress is invaluable.

I feel like I have so much more life, so much more to give and so much more ability to connect with others now since my mind isn’t completely consumed by thoughts about food or my body. That doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do still, but holy crap, I have come so far.

I’m sharing my list with you, in case you want to know how different your life could be if you work on some of these things too. (Check out my Pay What You Can Coaching offer this fall if you’re looking to make some big strides in your own relationship with food).

Things That’ll Happen when You Stop Obsessing Over What and How Much to Eat:

  1. I can fill up my plate at a bbq or other social gathering without spending even 1 second worrying about what everyone else is thinking about what I’m eating. And I can watch others eat without wondering how the heck they can eat what they do and be as thin as they are. Really, I can eat and be present with the people I’m with instead of interacting with both our plates of food.
  2. If I want ice cream, I can eat a big serving of real full fat ice cream and be both satisfied and not have it turn into a downward spiral into binge-land. I don’t have to satisfy my craving with a fat free, fake sugar filled pretend version of the real thing (which only makes me want to eat more and more of it). I want it, I eat it.
  3. That being said, eating what I want and when I want it, now means I want less of the things I thought I always wanted. I thought that if I had certain foods at my fingertips all the time, then I would eat them all the time – but that was only the case when I was telling myself that I couldn’t/shouldn’t eat them. Telling myself it’s ok to eat these things if I really want them strangely enough means I usually don’t even want them or if I do, I can eat a serving or two and be done with it.
  4. Going out to eat I can order whatever I really feel like eating – which might be a salad or baked fish or it might be something really decadent. It used to be about ordering whatever the most indulgent thing on the menu was – since I viewed going out to eat as a time to “cheat” and I usually went overboard.
  5. Not going to bed really full is nice. I am less likely to binge or eat too much because I’m not spending half my week eating as little as I possibly can. I’m able to listen to and eat what my body needs.
  6.  A chip is just a chip. A cookie is just a cookie. It’s not the doorway to weighing 400 lbs. A glass of wine does not equal gaining 3 lbs. An extra handful of nuts doesn’t mean I won’t fit into my jeans. It’s not a big deal.
  7. Eating too much is just something that happens occasionally. It is not the end of the world and it no longer ruins my day (or week). I move on instead of wallowing in it.
  8. Eating too little is no longer a badge of honor. I know I need more food to get through the day successfully so I feed my body appropriately – especially as I’ve started to lift heavier weights and go on longer hikes and bike rides. I just can’t do that stuff (and I enjoy it) if I’m not well fueled.
  9. Feeling strong and powerful in my workouts has become the goal and is now way more important than looking skinny or feeling thin. Do I look better because I exercise? Sure. But my size is no longer my focus. It’s barely even in the lens anymore.
  10. I regularly go into my closet and get rid of clothes that no longer fit. I no longer hold onto too tight clothes for the day when I finally fit into it again or onto too big stuff in case I gain weight again. I can live in my present body and not live in hope or fear of the future.
  11. Foods that I used to think tasted amazing actually don’t taste very good upon further inspection. This surprised me a lot! The texture of store bought frosting leaves a disgusting greasy residue in my mouth. Foods with artificial sweeteners taste too sweet and generally “off”. Cheez-its don’t really taste cheesy to me anymore.
  12. My weight is more stable. I go up and down a few pounds normally. No massive ups and massive downs. I know if I end up on the scale my weight will be somewhere in an 8 lb range (constipation, PMS, normal body fluctuations are much of that). As long as I don’t see anything way over or under that, I know I’m eating the right amount for my body.  Having this data, while triggering for some, actually helps reinforce that what I’m doing is working for me right now. I know I can trust my body, because things are balancing out on their own.

What do you think? Can you relate to any of these? What has been the most surprising benefit for you as you’ve made progress on your own eating concerns? What habits and changes have been the most helpful?

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The September offer I’ve been teasing you about: “Pay What You Can” Coaching

unsplash-giving

“Pay What You Can” coaching is a chance for me to give back! One month where I can offer my services to women who could use my support but have so far been unable to afford it.

 

If you get my emails, then you know I’ve been teasing for several weeks that I had an special and limited offer coming to for new clients in September. Well, I’m finally going to share what that offer is:

In the spirit of giving back, I am offering a “Pay What You Can” month where you can purchase a 3 month of private coaching at a price you can afford

(read on below to find out why and how)

You’ve probably noticed I’m doing a lot less “promoting” than I was when I first started coaching. In order to make a coaching practice grow, you really do have to do a ton of promotion and marketing – either in person through workshops and conversations or online (or you have to hope your lovely past clients will send you referrals). When I first finished the Health Coach Training Program at IIN, I was heavily immersed in reading and learning all I could about marketing a budding practice – and so my online content often reflected that.

But it started to feel hollow. Icky. False. You may have noticed I’ve dropped some of the programs I offered in the beginning, like the 12 Day Detox and the 28 Day Spiritual Program. As I developed and evolved as a coach they just weren’t feeling right anymore. They weren’t “me”.  I didn’t feel like they were as helpful to my core clients as I wanted them to be and so for the past year I’ve really focused my coaching practice on one on one coaching alone (specifically, working with emotional eaters, women who eat more than they want to and those who are sick and tired of dieting, want to stop but aren’t sure how).

Marketing is important, even in a business that is more authentically aligned with who I am so you’ll still see me promoting things I’m rather excited about – the things I KNOW can help women who struggle the same way I have, but I’ve had to shut out a lot of the online chatter from the big marketers and reassess how I want to do things.

Since I’ve been coaching, I’ve met with many women who could greatly benefit from coaching on their eating struggles (I see so much of myself in them) but who confided in me that they couldn’t afford coaching right now. They’re building a house. They’re pregnant with their 3rd child. They’re a single parent.  The first couple of times I heard this, I understood, accepted it and moved on. We all have things we have to pay for first and foremost – the mortgage/rent, groceries, car payments etc (that stuff adds up!) and really, there’s only a small subset of the population that can afford to pay for all the “needs” in their life and still have money left over for things like coaching, which many view as frivolous want. Every marketing guru out there teaches entrepreneurs that the “right” clients for us WILL have the money to spend on our services. On some level, I do believe this too. But on the other hand, it sometimes hurts my heart to feel like someone wants my help and I believe I can be of help to them and to have to go our separate ways because of money.

Yes, I deserve to get paid for what I do. I have to make a living too. We all do. I can’t work with people who can’t afford to pay me.

Or can I??

A while back I saw that author and speaker Danielle LaPorte offers an annual “Pay What You Can Day” on her books and programs – generously allowing people who feel drawn to her work to benefit from it and pay what they are able, and she too has benefited greatly from it. Then I saw this post from Charles Eisenstein in a similar vein, about offering “Scholarships” at multiple levels for people to pay what they can afford for his work. Two of the things that these folks have in common is a desire to give back and remembering what they were going through when they were struggling too.

I’m nowhere near at the success level of these big wigs but I have things pretty good right now (and I’m so thankful for that). I’m in a position where I can give back. So while it’s a bit non-conformist and could possibly attract the wrong people, in the spirit of giving back, I am offering a “Pay What You Can” month where you can purchase a 3 month long coaching program with me at a price point that you can afford.

Some details you may want to know about:

  • I’m opening this up to 5 people only.
  • You must be a new client (we can’t have worked together before, so sorry) and you can’t be a relative of mine (too much history there kids!).
  • There are 6 different price points you can choose from. All are significantly less than what I normally charge for a 3 month program.
  • You pay in full for the full 3 months (if you need to pay monthly, just shoot me a note and we can totally work that out together).
  • You get 3 months of coaching with me on any of these concerns:  Emotional eating, overeating, a desire to stop the diet and binge cycle or improving body image. This includes 6 coaching sessions (via phone or through skype video calls) over three months, recommendations/assignments to do in between our sessions and email support from me in between our sessions (ask questions, get support and encouragement).
  • You have to be ready and motivated to get to work. I can’t do any of this for you. Coaching is a supportive process that will help you get the space and clarity you need to take action but it is useless if you don’t really want to make changes or are unwilling to do the things we decide are right for you.

How to take part of this offer:

  1. Schedule a 30 minute discovery session with me between now and October 10, 2016. It’s free and painless. If you don’t see a time that works for you in my scheduler, please message me. I will work with you to get this call on the calendar!
  2. After our discovery session, if you get off the call saying “yes, yes. I want this!! I know this can help me.” then you can purchase your 3 month program at your chosen price (anywhere from $75-$450 for 3 months).
  3. You can purchase your program anytime between when you complete your discovery session with me and October 22, 2016.

You should schedule your discovery session immediately if (any or all of these are true):

  • You’ve been reading my blog posts, emails or following me on social media and relating to everything I say.
  • We’ve done a discovery session in the past and you wanted to work together but were unable to commit financially at the time.
  • You’ve been interested in coaching but afraid to pull the trigger.
  • You are sick of overeating and then trying to compensate for it by dieting and restricting.
  • You are tired of doing this to yourself and want to stop but you know you need some support to do it.
  • You are ready to put yourself first, highly motivated to make real changes and willing to be honest with yourself (and with me).

Please do not take part in this if you are:

  • a former client or relative (so sorry, love you, but newbies only this time)
  • hoping for a miracle diet that will fix you (I don’t give out meal plans or tell you exactly what you should be eating)
  • looking for coaching help that doesn’t have anything to do with one of these concerns: Emotional eating, overeating, a desire to stop the diet and binge cycle or improving body image. These are my “babies” and I want to give back to other women who need help with these things.
  • just hoping to get something for cheap or free. Sometimes we don’t value or put as much effort into things we don’t pay much for. How many times have you purchased a groupon or a item of clothing just because it was a great deal and then never used it?? Please value this offer as if you were paying full price (your time and my time is worth it).

I am super excited about doing this and hope you take part! I wish I had encountered a coach with a similar offer when I was in the peak of my eating struggles – I feel like my path would have been a little less bumpy! I’ve been so fortunate to have made the progress I have in my own relationship with food and been along for the journey with so many other women on theirs. I feel blessed and grateful that this is the work I get to do and this is a small way I can give back.

If you’ve been following me for awhile and thought about scheduling a session, now is the time to do it! Schedule your discovery session now. There’s no obligation to go forward with a program!

You can learn more about me and what my coaching is about here.

Find additional info about this offer here.

A Well Fed Life: How the Food We Eat isn’t the Only Thing that Nourishes Us

How well fed are you Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually and Creatively? Are you "eating" too much or too little in these areas?

How well fed are you Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually and Creatively? Are you “eating” too much or too little in these areas?

Something I’ve noticed about myself, but also in the women I work with is that the way we do one thing, is the way we do everything. The problem with this is that it can lead us to live very unbalanced lives. To give an example of this, with me, when it comes to making a decision, I’m either spontaneous and impulsive about it or I move at an exhaustingly slow pace. It doesn’t matter if it’s a really big decision or something minute. There’s no middle ground with me. It has always been the same way with food, relationships and even in my approach to work. It leaves me feeling perennially exhausted and unaccomplished all at the same time. My behaviors tend to leave me virtually starved or completely stuffed.

With food, up until the last 3 years, I vacillated between eating crazy clean or crazy unhealthily. I couldn’t’ seem to mix the two into any sort of balance. In college, I either drank heavily or not at all. When I jump into a new project or hobby, I’m either completely enamored and will bury myself in it without coming up for air for days at a time or I grow quickly bored and drop the project as soon as it began. With people, I either like them instantly or I will keep them at an arm’s distance.

The women I work with have similar traits of doing everything in life the same way (though they may not necessarily bounce back and forth the way I describe above). They overeat, they overwork, they overcommit themselves. They give everything they have to their friends and family. They never say no. They are physically, emotionally and spiritually stuffed. Or alternatively, they are constantly dieting, avoiding being noticed at work, lonely in their personal lives and uninspired creatively. They are physically, emotionally and spiritually starved.

None of us can live like this forever.

Everything we do in life “feeds” us in some way. Feeding ourselves with physical food is one way we are nourished but it’s not the only way. Our souls are nourished or malnourished by our daily actions and interactions. Work, creative pursuits, exercise, joy, social life, relationships, finances, spirituality and health are just a few of the different areas that we can go overboard on (and feel “stuffed”) or completely ignore (and be “starved”).  You may be “stuffed” in some areas but “starved” in others.

When we spend too much time working and not enough time connecting with others socially, we may find our health started to be affected by it. We’re stressed, exhausted and feeling disconnected. When we overeat physically, we may retaliate by depriving ourselves in another way – maybe you don’t allow yourself physical touch, or you spend too much time on social media and you come away feeling both stuffed and utterly ravenous despite your intake of food.

Our goal should be a well fed life – not too much, not too little. Just right. Our hunger in these areas should be satisfied, but we don’t want to feel gluttonous or famished.

I know if you look at your own life, before I go any further into this, you can see the effect your daily choices and actions have on your health and well being. You already have an idea of how stuffed or starved you are. If you are really perceptive and good about self-care, then you are probably one of few who feel sated (and good for you!)!

I divide the areas we feed ourselves in into 4 categories:  Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Creative. Below are a few examples of the things in our lives that might fall into these categories and also how it will show up in your life if you are “stuffed”, “starved” or “sated”.

This list obviously doesn’t include everything and some of the items I list in one category could certainly be cross posted in another (but for the sake of brevity and clarity I’m going to avoid that). If there is something big in your life that I didn’t list here, where do you think it fits in?

4 Core Areas we need to Nourish to feel Sated

Physical 

Examples:  food (how we eat, how much we eat and quality of what we eat), massage, human touch, sex, exercise/sports, play, movement, rest.

Emotional

Examples:  social life, relationships, alone time, spending time with people you feel safe with and having outlets to express yourself, dealing with personal responsibilities, travel, connecting on social media.

Spiritual

Examples:  prayer, meditation, journaling, yoga, tai chi, volunteer work, spending time in nature, sense of purpose.

Creative

Examples:  work, cooking, art, dance, music, writing, imagination, beauty, decorating, gift giving, attending art / creative performances.

How it shows up in if we’re “eating” too much or too little in any category

Okay, so those are the 4 categories. If you are indulging too much in any one area or not enough, you will find you feel “off” and this is how it may show up:

Symptoms of being Stuffed – feeling lazy, lethargic, bored, apathetic, uninspired, tired, spent, pulled in too many directions, feeling distracted, feeling empty, overtaxed, unappreciated, indulgent.

Symptoms of being Starved -hungry for something but not sure what, excess nervous energy, depression, anxiety, sad, lonely, unfocused, agitated, tense, disconnected, feeling alone, loss of purpose.

Symptoms of being “Sated” – feeling light, energetic, at ease, happy, calm, grounded, sure of oneself, focused, comfortable, optimistic, confident, balanced, joie de vivre, satisfied, content, relaxed, at peace.

You may find that when your life is heavily weighted in one area, that you are more likely to feel some of these symptoms more than others. For example, if I’m lacking (or “starved”) in the “Physical” realm – not getting enough movement/exercise, spending too much time sedentary, being sloppy with my eating, I can guarantee that I’ll start to feel anxious, agitated and have excess nervous energy. As far as the other symptoms under starved, I don’t feel those ones so much. You may be different than me! Everyone manifests this stuff a little bit differently! For another example, let’s use the “Emotional” category. If I’ve been “stuffing” myself emotionally – maybe going to a lot of social events and tending to a lot of personal obligations, I tend to feel overtaxed, pulled in too many directions and distracted. You may find that the symptoms that show up for you when you’re stuffed emotionally, aren’t the same symptoms that show up when you are stuffed spiritually. Don’t read too much into this – I think it’s fluid!

Ultimately, your health and wellness is deeply connected to how well you are nourished – physically and emotionally – soulfully. You’ll notice that if you start aiming for more balance in each of these categories, that some of your recurring health concerns seem to be less of a problem – we all sleep better and have more energy when we are taking good care of ourselves. Even emotional eating becomes a much smaller issue when you feel supported, nourished and balanced.

The most important takeaway from this is that it’s important to pay attention to how you are spending your time, who with, and if you are getting enough nourishment physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively. If you know when you are not getting enough in an area, you can make plans to change that – and that can go a long way in how you feel on a day to day basis.

Writing this post has made me realize that I’m really feeling starved in the creative realm. Yes, I do a lot of writing for work and I certainly do a lot of cooking – but neither have been serving a creative purpose lately (the writing is all business and the cooking is mostly for nutrition). So, now it’s up to me to go out and change that!

How well fed are you? Which area (Physical, Emotional, Spiritual or Creative) seems to have the biggest pull in your life right now? And how well is your hunger satisfied in that area? What do you think you need to do differently?

Visiting Oregon and Being the “New” Version of Myself

Roses in the rose test garden in Portland, OR

Roses in the rose test garden in Portland, OR

I thought I’d do something different this week and share more personal details than I usually do on the blog by telling you a little bit about our vacation in Oregon. In this day and age of technology and social media, it can be confusing to know how much sharing is enough and how much is too much. By nature, I’m not a very private person and consider myself an open book but I definitely have come to be more cautious about how much I put out there about myself online. Less out of a privacy concern and more out of a “Do people really want to hear this? Do people need to know this about me?” concern. There’s a lot of oversharing on the internet and we’re over-saturated with content, who has time/energy to read extra details about random people? But what I’m noticing is that people do want to hear and see more personal stuff today than they have in the past. People are curious . . .and since I’m not ready to take the plunge onto all the video options of sharing personal details, I’m going to put it out there on the blog.

If you read last week’s blog post, you know I had come down with symptoms of strep throat right before we left for our 9 day trip to Oregon. I was starting to freak out about it but decided I was going to enjoy our trip even if I was sick. It did end up being strep and I was on antibiotics for most of the trip but by day 3, I kind of forgot that I was sick, thankfully.

Drinking Kombucha at Deschutes Brewery in Portland. First couple days of being on antibiotics for strep - eating foods that are rare for me but drinking kombucha instead of beer!

Drinking Kombucha at Deschutes Brewery in Portland. First couple days of being on antibiotics for strep – eating foods that are rare for me but drinking kombucha instead of beer!

We stayed for 4 nights at Hotel Vintage, in downtown Portland. We had a small but really cool room with panoramic skylights which was fun. It was nice to have so much natural light in a hotel room (don’t worry it had electronic shades so we didn’t bake in the sun or give neighbors a full view at night) and the extra windows helped make the room feel a lot bigger than it was. It ended up being the perfect location to explore Portland – it was easy walking distance to tons of great restaurants and lots to do within a few blocks. Portland is super walkable – 20 blocks equals a mile so you can cover a ton of ground in a little time.

We visited the International Rose Test and Japanese Gardens which were less than a 2 mile walk away from our hotel. It was 97 degrees out and sunny for the first several days we were there and we walked between 6-8 miles each day – John didn’t complain once! A huge difference from some of our previous trips where I made him walk, bike or hike everywhere. He quit smoking 2 years ago this week and he’s been exercising on his own lately. He’s like a new man.

We kind of joked that this change in him was the “new John”. And then we joked that the Andrea that didn’t “over plan” the trip was the “new Andrea”.

In fact this became a recurring joke and theme of our whole trip.

The Andrea who normally stresses out about every detail of a trip and who normally panics at signs of even the most benign illness, she wasn’t here. We left her at home. This was a “new Andrea”.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this in yourself but it’s easy to keep doing things exactly the way we’ve always done them. As we get a little older, those natural habits and tendencies can start to make us feel stuck, stagnant and that we’re hitting the same walls over and over again. It’s hard to get farther or have new experiences in life if we limit our experiences before they begin – know what I mean? Both John and I have noticed things about ourselves that have started to feel cemented in place and we don’t want that. On this trip, visiting a state we’ve never been before – seeing things we’ve never seen before, we found it easy to loosen up, shed old habits and be a different or “new” version of ourselves.

Just because I’ve always freaked out when getting sick or planned every detail of a trip doesn’t mean I have to keep doing that if it isn’t working for me. John always told himself he hated exercise – but that only made him hate exercise. It wasn’t providing any benefit. Lately he’s been trying to think of it as exploring (we’ve even done a few hikes together this summer!). That helps change how he feels about it and in turn his whole experience is different and he looks forward to going out and moving his body more.

The same goes for our eating habits. If comfort eating after a long day at work isn’t actually bringing you the comfort you originally thought it was, something needs to change. If eating lunch out every day of the work week isn’t making your body feel good, maybe packing your lunch one or two days week is worth trying. If counting calories, trying to burn off every bite you eat with exercise isn’t serving you – you don’t have to just keep doing it.

We don’t have to accept the way we do things as permanent, unchangeable. Sometimes I think one of the purposes of life is just figuring out how to navigate through it and to do that successfully it might mean changing direction or the way we do things sometimes. Being a new version of yourself!

As I mentioned earlier, we went on this trip with me letting go of the reins of planning and just winging a lot of it. This brought up a lot of anxiety for me. I like to seek out the best restaurants wherever I go. They don’t have to be expensive or fancy but they have to be good – creative and with fresh ingredients. I turn into a monster brat when I go out to eat and have a rotten meal. It’s partially because I’m a snobasaurus, but also it’s a leftover imprint from food issues where I didn’t allow myself to enjoy food except under rigid circumstances. Now that I can enjoy food more easily . . .I have an expectation that it has to be amazing (yeah, I know, my work isn’t over yet!) so picking restaurants with me is often a dramatic hassle (at least for John). I let go of that in Portland.

I also let go of something else. While I don’t have rules anymore about what I can and can’t eat as far as whether it’s good for me or too high calorie or anything like that, I do try to avoid certain foods or food preparations that I know make me feel awful. Most dairy, wheat and fried food or baked goods are off my menu when I have the option and I like how eating that way makes me feel (less constipation, less skin issues, less asthma symptoms and digestive pain). But sometimes that can feel restrictive or annoying to follow too – even though I feel best when I don’t eat that stuff. Because we were on vacation and I was already relaxing about where we ate, I found myself also relaxing more than usual about what I ate or ordered.

At a brewery we ordered parmesan garlic french fries and a charcuterie plate with brown bread.  I ordered latte’s (when in Rome). I ate some of John’s pizza, twice. I ordered soup with cheese in it. I drank a few beers and I ate some of John’s soft pretzel. Also mixed into all this stuff I normally don’t eat were lots of foods that made me feel good too – kombucha, raw and cooked vegetables, beans, seafood etc. I didn’t set out to eat anything just to see if I could do it. I wanted to relax about the menu and where we ate. John and I shared plates at a lot of meals. It felt great. I know I can’t eat certain foods on a daily basis (to do this with dairy would mean bad asthma all over again) but continuing to trust myself to eat and order various foods, whatever I want at the moment, even if it’s something that may make me feel “off” once in awhile is a part of normal eating. Sometimes we’re going to eat too much, too little or food that doesn’t feel or taste so great and that’s ok.

In Oregon, the "new Andrea" ate foods she normally would have avoided (like wheat and dairy). John did too - he ordered grilled Octopus and loved it. Sometimes you have to be someone else for a bit!

In Oregon, the “new Andrea” ate foods she normally would have avoided (like wheat and dairy). John did too – he ordered grilled Octopus and loved it. Sometimes you have to be someone else for a bit!

The interesting thing about being the “new Andrea” for 9 days was that I felt less crappy eating those foods than I think I expected to. Not stressing over where we were going or what to order meant my body overall was less stressed and I think this led to feeling less crappy than normal. We had an amazing meal at almost every meal we ate out. I can only think of one that was just “so so” and that was probably because we were tired and had been traveling all day (either way, I didn’t make a big deal about it – it was just a meal).

It certainly helped that Oregon, and Portland in particular has amazing food and amazing restaurants and that the people who work in them really seem to love the art of preparing and serving food! And also contributing to this overall feeling of letting go of rigid habits is the fact that everyone in Oregon seems really laid back. On the highway, heading out of Portland and to Astoria to have lunch before visiting Cannon Beach, I noticed that the speed limit was 70, yet everyone was driving at 55 mph. No one was riding my ass. No one was working to get around the slow cars in the passing lane. Everyone was just cruising along. For a minute the New England girl in me came out and I was like “What the fuck, can’t anyone go the speed limit?? These people would never survive in Boston!”. But then I realized they were on to something. What’s the rush? Why not be where you are right now, instead of rushing towards where you are going to be?

Me and John at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR. We had hot temps and did a ton of walking early in our trip and my heat/exercise disliking husband didn't complain even once. Trying on a new version of ourselves!

Me and John at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR. We had hot temps and did a ton of walking early in our trip and my heat/exercise disliking husband didn’t complain even once. Trying on a new version of ourselves!

We spent the second half of our trip staying in McMinnville, which is in the Willamette Valley. We picked McMinnville as a base location for visiting a few of the 300 wineries in the area. When we visited Napa five years ago, I hand selected the wineries we were going to visit weeks before – doing diligent research on location, type and quality of wines, atmosphere, cost – you name it. We had a great time in Napa but again, I let go of my need for planning in Willamette. The urge to see as many as possible over a few days left me and we found ourselves just spending a huge chunk of one afternoon at one winery in particular because it was beautiful, the weather was gorgeous, the wine tasty and it was peaceful and happy. We opted for being in the present and listening to our needs and desires instead of checking off my tourism to do list. We felt relaxed and refreshed and even though we didn’t get to see as much of the valley as normally I would have hoped for, this felt perfect. We can always go back.

Beautiful views from Penner Ash winery. Spent more time being present instead of worrying about where we wanted to be next. I highly recommend it!

Beautiful views from Penner Ash winery. Spent more time being present instead of worrying about where we wanted to be next. I highly recommend it!

This was a great trip in so many ways. Not only did we get to explore a new state that we are excited to see more of but we both tried on new behaviors and relaxed old habits. I think this helped both of us relax and get the most out of our time away – we even found ourselves in several spontaneous conversations with fellow travelers and locals, which if you know John and I is not our usual mode of operation. We also sat at a bar more than once – for dinner and in a tasting room, which normally John won’t do. . .but he was open to because this was the “new John” and he actually liked it this time. I think the fact that I came down with strep right before we left and I had mentally made the decision to not let it ruin the trip actually became an awesome launching pad for being more open to other changes on the trip. So, thank you strep throat!

I spent 9 days in Oregon with the new Andrea and John and I liked them. Maybe I’ll invite them over more often.

There are certain things about myself that I find embarrassing or annoying (like my need to have perfect restaurant experiences or my over planning) and it felt good to play with changing those things in a safe way. I don’t want to get stuck being someone I don’t like. I don’t want to just accept that there are things I do that I don’t like. You are never too old to improve yourself or see and do things a bit differently (in your relationship with food or otherwise).

Next time you go to a new place, a new restaurant or are about to have any new experience, try doing things a little differently. What habits, quirks, needs of yours are holding you back? If there is something you don’t like about yourself, the way you do things or where your life is headed, what is stopping you from changing that? Could you allow yourself to be a “new” version of yourself, even if just for a week or two? What might happen?


Keep your eyes open for a special offer coming soon! I promised in September I would be making a special (limited quantity) offer to those of you who are new to coaching, that will make trying it more affordable! It’s coming soon! Make sure you are on my email list so that you don’t miss this offer when it’s ready! Joining this list automatically means you receive my free eBook Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be aWorkout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

Planning for Your Plans to Not Go According to Plan (or how to not freak out when you get sick on vacation)

How do you react when your plans don't go the way you want them to?

How do you react when your plans don’t go the way you want them to?

Normally, when John and I go away on vacation, I have a tendency to overplan. I plan out the restaurants we’re going to eat at (and when). I might rent us bicycles, book a harbor tour, or hire a driver for visiting wineries. I create spreadsheets of what we’re doing, what we could do if we have extra time and even seek out coupons or special deals in the area. I get a little nuts!

All of these things mean a pretty nailed down itinerary by the time we leave which gives my control freak side some comfort. I like knowing what’s next but  John does not have a control freak side and he can’t appreciate it. He’d rather just show up somewhere and see where it takes us (and his dream vacation includes lots of naps, no plans, internet time and TV).

This year for vacation I decided to attempt to “let go”of my control freak tendencies and only lightly plan our trip. I booked nothing but our hotels and flights ahead of time! There are a couple of restaurants and things that I want to do this week but I’m not scheduling any of it. It sounds so lame, I’m sure, but trying to let go of my need to control every minute of our vacation pushes me out of my comfort zone, which is important and healthy to do once in awhile.

It’s a little ironic that I am trying to relax my need for control with this vacation because just a couple of days before we jumped on the plane (heading out to Oregon) I came down with symptoms that were similar to strep throat. Ugggggg. Yes, this certainly pushes me further out of my comfort zone. It’s also serving as a reminder that I can plan all I want, but life may have other things in mind for me.

As much as I planned to avoid planning this vacation, getting sick right before take off was definitely not something I saw coming. I seriously never get sick – once every year or two!

I had some moments of panic. First of all, I hate going to the doctor (it sets off my anxiety in a big way) but I knew that swollen glands, stiff neck, swollen red tonsils and a fever wasn’t just my allergies and the last thing I wanted was to end up needing to go to an urgent care center or the ER while across the country so it was better to go see someone before we left. Figured I needed to at least go and get a strep test (which I did, but as of the time I had to schedule this post, I didn’t have the results back yet – hmm, wonder if I’ll have strep or not?) But aside from going to the doctor being stressful for me . . . we don’t get to go away all that often, and rarely visit places I’ve never been before, so feeling so crappy when I have a 8/9 day trip to take was kind of a big bummer. Who wants to roam around a new city in the heat when their neck and throat feels like someone stuffed barbed wire covered cotton balls in it?

Another reason I was bummed is because the last 4 days of our trip would be spent in the Willamette Valley – Oregon’s wine region. John and I love wine (we even got married in the Sonoma Valley) and love tasting wine from different regions, especially tasting it where it’s made! I love learning about how it’s produced, how the climate and soil affects the taste particular wines will have. But drinking wine is the last thing on my mind. Plus, everything tastes (and feels) awful when you have swollen tonsils! Waahh!

The Sunday before we left, I woke up and went straight to the medicine cabinet to grab the thermometer. After alternating between chills and sweating in bed most of the night, I confirmed my suspicion that I now had a fever. I’ll admit that I even found myself briefly in tears feeling sad and sorry for myself for getting this sick a few days before vacation.

I wallowed for a few minutes but then I put an end to it. I choose to put an end to it.

I can have my momentary panic and a little cry (did I mention also that I’m PMSing?). I can feel a little annoyed and sad that I probably won’t feel my best during at least the first half of our trip. I can’t control this stuff (as much as I’d like to).

But I can control how much I let being sick affect my attitude, my feelings and my mood.

I have choices.

I can be the drama queen/control freak that I know I can be sometimes and wallow in the physical pain I feel. I can let negative thoughts fester and grow. I can remind myself over and over how much I’m not going to enjoy certain parts of the trip. I can make myself feel so much worse by focusing on the negatives of this situation.

Or . . .

I can accept that this is something I don’t have control over but not let it have such a big effect on me. Being sick is annoying, uncomfortable and the timing really sucks BUT it’s a short term illness (not a long term, debilitating condition!). I will feel better in a few days. I can still visit a new city and see all that it has to offer. Maybe I’ll need to take a few naps (something I’m not good at) or take my normal activity level down a notch or two (something else I’m not good at) and maybe food/drink won’t be the same since things don’t taste very good right now but I can still go on vacation and I’m very fortunate to be able to go on vacation in the first place. I don’t have to let this sickness ruin my whole trip.

I know I’ve said this at least a dozen times on this blog but while we can’t control what thoughts pop in our heads, we can decide what to do with them and what we do with them (let them pass on by or indulge them) hugely affects how we are going to feel. Thoughts are so powerful! I don’t want to let a little sickness ruin my whole trip, so I’m not going to let it! I’m grateful that it’s not something more serious and that it is something that I can work around on my trip.

By the time this is posted, I will be on a plane heading home from our trip (I wrote this before we left!). I’m assuming we had a good time and I will be feeling much better (mentally and physically!).

Are you a control freak too? How do you handle it when your plans go off track or something is beyond your control? Does it feel good to you to “wallow” or “indulge” negative thoughts? Or do you prefer the outcome when you allow negative thoughts pass on by? Is letting go of a need to control something you need to practice?

Update: (Post trip) Yep, it was strep! When our plane landed in Portland, I had a voicemail on my phone from my doctor’s office confirming the results of my culture were positive. Luckily I had prefilled an antibiotic prescription from them before I left NH and I could take it right away. Felt crummy for the first 2 days of vacation but I slept a little extra (and drank kombucha at breweries instead of beer) and I felt much better after that. We had an awesome time! I know deciding ahead of time to not let my sickness ruin vacation made a huge difference in how our trip went. Both of us consider this one of our best vacations to date and plan to visit Oregon again soon!


Keep your eyes open for a special offer coming soon! In September I will be making a special (limited quantity) offer to those of you who are new to coaching, that will make trying it more affordable! Make sure you are on my email list so that you don’t miss this offer when it’s ready! Joining this list automatically means you receive my free eBook Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be aWorkout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).