Tag Archives: Change

What Does it Mean to Have Food Freedom?

I want it all and on my terms.

There have been many years where the way I ate was most definitely a “diet”. My goal being to make my body smaller and lighter through food restriction.

Then there were several years where the way I was eating was still restrictive in a lot of ways even if weight loss was just a backup singer to the lead vocalist in the band of “health”. Sometimes I restricted that quantity of food I ate, sometimes it was the calories. Sometimes entire food groups, no dairy, no wheat, lower carb, no animal products, no processed food etc.

During these times, I referred to my way of eating not as a diet, but as a “lifestyle”. The goal of the “lifestyle” was to feel good, and to maintain and “insure” my health, but if my “lifestyle” way of eating was a TV show, there would definitely be some closed captions in parenthesis behind me, whispering shadily that my goal was still to become a smaller person. Make no mistake, the word lifestyle is a both a great way and a terrible way to describe eating like this. On one hand  it has to be a lifestyle in order for anyone to be able to eat that way. You have to have a certain amount of money, time and willingness to prepare food with both strange and time consuming ingredients. Your life has to take on a “lifestyle” where food becomes the most important thing . . . because if you live this way you won’t have time or room for anything else. But on the other hand, a food “lifestyle” is just another word for a diet. It is still restriction with a more appealing name.

Somewhere beyond that is where I am right now.

I’ve been playing with a lot of ideas, a lot of foods and really analyzing what I want my relationship with food to look like.

3 and a half years of coaching women on their relationship with food and I decided that I don’t want dieting, “lifestyle” diets and moral judgements around food to be included in my own.

I want freedom with food. I want ease and I want time and energy available to do other things.

Having food freedom means having more freedom in my life in general.

You may have heard me toss around the term “food freedom” or having “freedom with food” a few times over the last year or so.

But what am I really talking about? I know it’s confusing, especially if you’ve followed me from the beginning. My stance has evolved quite a bit since I started coaching. It is still and always will be evolving. What works for me one month may not be true three month from now. And because of that recognition I have really moved away from giving specific food related advice here anymore. I really believe you have to make these decisions for yourself and that no one can know what makes the most sense for you, but you. It should go without saying that f you have certain health conditions that require abstaining from certain foods, like celiac disease or monitoring your intake of certain macronutrients, like diabetes, that may be a different story.

So in case your food story is also evolving and you too want to leave dieting, lifestyle diets and food morality behind, let’s talk about what I mean by food freedom.

Food freedom is:

  • eating what I want, when I want. Sometimes it’s a burger and fries, and sometimes it’s fresh vegetables.
  • making my own decisions about what foods are good for my body instead of changing my mind every time a new half-assed food study comes out
  • being able to walk into any restaurant and find something to eat
  • being able to eat food that isn’t “healthy” and be completely fine with that
  • not feeling virtuous for ordering the fish or for eating light if I don’t have a big appetite.
  • not letting other people’s decisions about food affect my own needs and choices (this one takes some time/work)
  • not feeling like I have to explain or defend my food choices to anyone
  • not being worried about what other people think about what I’m eating or not eating.
  • trusting my body to tell me when I’ve had enough
  • deciding that it’s ok to have ice cream for dinner because that’s what I want
  • realizing that there are some foods that I don’t want to start eating again, because on revisiting them, they still make me feel like poop
  • being able to skip a meal because I’m just not hungry
  • eating after 8pm because I am hungry
  • trying new foods, prepared in a variety of ways, without needing to know the nutrition facts for the item first
  • not hesitating to order the thing I never “let” myself order when I was dieting (if it’s what I want)
  • choosing for myself whether to eat the same amount of meals each day or to eat whenever I want to
  • making only one rule around food and that is: I get to eat and not eat whatever the fuck I want
  • accepting that my body shape or size may fluctuate throughout the year (and keeping some flexible clothing sizes on hand so that I can feel my best whether my body size goes up or down
  • not making myself sick by worrying about what to make for dinner. One meal or 5 meals doesn’t make a big deal in the scheme of things.
  • buying a box of cap’n crunch because I haven’t had it since I was little and I want to feel that delicious crunch on the roof of my mouth. And then eating it whenever I feel like eating it
  • deciding that there is more to a healthy person than rigorously controlling one’s food intake within an inch of their life
  • is being able to say yes to something as simple as ordering pizza or having a beer without having to weigh the pros and cons of it
  • is revelling in and also not caring at all about food at different times

This is what I want from my relationship with food, and this is how I’m trying to live my life right now.

It feels less tiring.

It’s certainly a lot less work to go out to eat or to plan meals or to make food each week.

I still eat a wide variety of foods and I do have a preference for the types of foods that make me feel energized and comfortable most of the time (which often are traditionally “healthy” things) but nothing is off the table anymore at anytime.

“Food freedom” for me also feels more like “normal” eating for my husband. I don’t think I ever realized how my stuff around food affected him as much as it does. Even though I was always willing to buy or make whatever he asked for regardless of what food restrictions I was currently consumed by, he usually went along with it (because this girl is a decent cook and he’s easy going) but he told me a few months ago how awesome it is that he can say “hey can we have nachos for dinner?” and have me just say yes without even thinking about it or he can suggest some hole in the wall restaurant without me having a melt down about it not having the right kind of food on the menu. It makes me sad that I didn’t even realize that my issues with food made things not “normal” for him too.

I’ve put on a little weight during all this food freedom (to be expected when you stop restricting whole food groups) but I don’t really care. In a lot of ways, I feel lighter. I feel emotionally lighter for sure but even my body feels less burdened by the weight of carrying so many rules about food in it. And honestly, that is probably the best part of finding food freedom.

What does food freedom mean to you? Do you already feel that you have freedom with food or is this an area that you would like to work on yourself? I’d love to help you take steps towards finding your own version of food freedom when you are ready.



How was Your Year? What’s up for next year?

Year EndJust a few more days before 2015 is over. So hard to believe!

I feel like I just wrote my last email/blog post of 2014 so I’m totally amazed by how quickly this year went by! I like to spend some time at the end of each year to take stock and to see where I want to change or improve things. I think it’s an important thing to do to make sure I continue to grow and change!

This might be a boring post for you – I’m really just analyzing some of my year but I want to lay things out on the table. I’m a work in progress. I’m learning as I go. I’m not afraid to pick up and change course when I don’t like where I’m headed. I hope you see that too. If you don’t like how 2015 was for you, you can make 2016 different.

In one of last year’s last posts, I wrote about how I wanted more of a heart-centered business and to let go of some of the “shoulds” that were coming from my head and not my heart. I also wanted more calm. Let’s see how I did.

Heart Centered vs. the Shoulds
I’m going to say in this area, some ways I did great and in others not so great! I launched several new programs, some of which came from a “should” place. The meditation program was one of those. I felt I should run it – I love meditation, I think the mental and physical benefits of doing it are amazing and I want to share that with others in an accessible and easy way . . .but . . . I felt I had to launch that program because it was part of a package I bought from a company who creates programs for life coaches when I first graduated. It was supposed to take some of the work out of starting the online portion of a coaching practice – but that program (along with some others) was FULL of typos and poorly proofread components that I had to spend hours and hours just making it ready to sell. I eventually felt I had to launch it because #1 I wanted to make back the money I spent on it but also because I had put so much time into just making it usable! By the time I actually launched it my heart was no longer in it and I felt bitter about it. It’s hard to sell something you don’t feel great about! I believe in meditation and I think an online program can be a great tool for getting started in it, I just wish I had dropped this one before I spent so many hours trying to get it going. I felt sour about it and that showed in my marketing. It was not done in a heart centered way (which is hilarious since the subject was meditation!!). If the original program wasn’t such a mess, I could have spent a few hours making it more fitting to my niche – emotional eaters and those who want to stop dieting – but I was so annoyed by the poor quality control that I barely had the time to just correct their errors, let alone change the content to fit my specific needs. Oy! Not the heart centered approach I wanted to have. The “shoulds” won in this case.

But other than that, I’ve done really well staying focused on the heart. My writing has picked up (I’m sending out at least 1 email and blog post every week these days) and I’ve really started to focus on writing about where my heart is (emotional eating!). I’ve let go of more of the “generic” aspects of health coaching. Yes, many people need help with learning how to eat cleaner or how to get more sleep or what foods they should be avoiding etc. and I do help my clients with that, but more importantly, my clients and readers need a place where they can discuss what is going on with them, uncover why and how they can take steps to move forward. No one is going to be able to eat cleanly when their job and home life is falling apart or needs support. I can support them with a desire to eat cleanly but I’m better suited to help them understand why they are eating so poorly in the first place and they make much more lasting changes this way. Heart-centered has won in my writing and in my one on one coaching practice. Yay!

To remain true to my heart, I’ve also decided to retire the 12 Day Detox program. I hate the word detox and I hate the idea that you can fix your problems in 12 days . . .the program attracted people who were looking for the next quick fix diet and while I’m happy to be able to provide a short program to give people a taste of a cleaner lifestyle, it completely goes against my philosophy of making changes slowly so you can be in it for the long haul (and not yo yo diet the rest of your life). Will I never run a new short term clean eating program again? No, I’m sure I’ll do one again some day but you can bet it will fit into the mold I want for my business and my life better. Heart-centered win!

I guess in a way, I’m honing in more about where I want my coaching practice to be and that means doing away with some things – January will be 2 full years I’ve been coaching and while it’s been amazing, at times I felt like I was just plucking ideas out of the sky even if they didn’t fit in my long term plan. I want more cohesion in 2016. I am not a natural marketer and don’t know the first thing about branding but I know my “brand” included not promoting products that I’m not totally enamored with.

One of the things I mentioned in the post I linked to at the top of this post was that I wanted more calm in 2015. Two of the ways I maintain feelings of calm are #1 with physical activity and avoiding anxiety. I actually did great there!

I made physical fitness a priority – most weeks, I exercised at least 5 or 6 days, whether it was through barre classes, walks, weight lifting, HIIT intervals or biking and whether it was for 90 minutes or 10 minutes. I moved my body regularly and listened to it when it asked for time off.

And when I say avoiding anxiety – I know some of you are laughing at that, like you have a choice, right?! In getting to know myself really well (something that I think is key to making changes), I know now exactly what things bring out my anxieties and I take steps to not let that happen. One way I do this is with my thinking. I know, when I have a thought around worrying about my health (one of my anxieties), that if I let myself think about it, pay attention to it, my anxiety and worries will grow. If I say “ok brain, I hear that you are worried about this, but I am not going to give it attention right now” it stops the crazy worries from growing. It keeps me in a state of calm. And had I spent extra time indulging in those thoughts, the only thing i would have gained from it was more stress. I really made an effort to check myself and not indulge in the very thoughts that make me crazy. It’s probably been the best year so far for my medical anxiety in all the years I’ve had it! Yes, I still had a few episodes but the ones that I had were just a blip on the anxiety radar instead of a full on panic attack (or 3 day panic paralysis). Once you know what works for you with eating, anxiety, procrastination, whatever, you have to work it. You have to apply it for it to make a difference and I did and I am and it’s awesome. Calm is good.

Lastly, I want to talk about food and eating this year. My weight is the same as it was at the end of last year. I’ve been between 155 – 160 for over a year now. It’s a little more than I ultimately want to weigh but I feel good. I feel strong. It’s not a struggle to weigh this. I don’t have to restrict and I’m not going up and down in huge amounts. I eat whole foods most of the time but I can let go and enjoy a party feast or have a piece of cake or buy a bag of chips these days without all hell breaking loose. There are things I wish were different about my body sometimes but overall, shit’s not so bad! I know they are people who look at me and think “How can she feel ok being overweight?” and that’s their problem now, it’s no longer mine.

It feels way better to be a bit heavier than I want to be but have this freedom and relaxed attitude around food, than it did years ago to reach the weight I wanted to be but have to work really hard to stay there and worry about every bite that went in my mouth. Because of this (weighing more, relaxing my eating), I’m able to enjoy life more. I’m able to enjoy my time with friends and family more. I’m able to enjoy a meal out with my husband more. My time is mine to do with what I want and isn’t just a countdown to how many days I have to lose weight before an event. It took a lot of work to get here and it was not a fast process but it’s been so worth it. I’m using a heart centered approach with my choices around food and the payoff is huge. Heart centered win here!

What’s next
In 2016, I want to continue this heart-centered approach with my business and with myself. It just feels right!

How did you do in 2015? What were you hoping for more of this year? What did you want less of? What do you want for 2016? And ultimately do you believe you will get there? (Think about this deeply – If right now you do not think it’s possible to reach a 2016 goal then it won’t be possible to reach it.) Take stock of your year and hopes for next year and please share with me!



Two Things Need to Happen if You Want to Change Your Life

photo credit: petrichor via photopin cc

photo credit: petrichor via photopin cc

I’ll get right down to the point. The way I see it, there are only two things you need to do if you want to change your life. It doesn’t matter if “change your life” means losing weight, changing careers, finding love, quitting smoking, getting off of sugar, reducing anxiety or most anything else.

The two things that need to happen are:

1. You have to really want it.
2. You have to continuously take steps towards that goal.

I don’t mean to trivialize how difficult changing your life is, because it’s definitely not easy and we certainly can’t take steps to change until we are ready, but so many people give up before they even start because they see where they are now and where they want to be as two points that are miles apart. They can’t see how they can get from one to the other so they don’t do anything about it.

No amount of wishing your life was different or being envious of others success will change your life. No amount of ignoring your situation will change it. No amount of complaining about it will make a difference. And there will be no perfect time in your life to make it happen. Life doesn’t slow down and suddenly become more convenient. A special opportunity when all things are aligned won’t show up.

It may sound harsh to lay it out like this but I’ve noticed that the difference between most people who are successful at changing and those who aren’t is often as simple as being willing to continuously take action, even when they’re busy or feel like giving up. They don’t give excuses a moment to take root.

No, changing your life isn’t easy. It’s usually hard work and sometimes you feel like you’re taking a lot of steps that don’t really seem to be going anywhere. But if you keep taking action you will move forward. It may not be as fast as you would like and you may need to revise your goals along the way. You may even realize during your journey that you want to head in another direction. That’s okay! That’s still growth. You’re still changing your life!

If you feel like you are taking action and working towards a goal but nothing is happening, ask yourself if there is something you could be doing towards this goal that you’re not already doing. Also important, is your goal a S.M.A.R.T. goal (S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Realistic – Timed)? Goals that are well defined are easier to reach.

If you have clearly outlined the steps to reach your goal but are not making the progress you would like, is it possible you are self-sabotaging? Maybe you’re unconsciously afraid of this change so you’re finding ways to not move forward (been there!) or you’re not really sure how to change something (been there too!) so you end up spinning in circles.

Another possibility is that you don’t really want to reach this goal to begin with. Many of us think we want to achieve something because it is what society expects of us or it’s a story we’ve told ourselves for many years. If you don’t really want it, there is no amount of goal setting or coaching that’s going to make it happen.
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If you’re just getting started with change, try to not take on too much too soon. It’s the fastest way to get overwhelmed and discouraged. Start with small changes first and build on them as you gain confidence and momentum.

For weight loss, try adding in an extra vegetable each day to start. When that becomes easy, consider starting an exercise routine (if you’re not already – and with your doctor’s approval). It can be just 10 minutes a few times a week to begin. Start there and keep building!

If you want to change careers and know what you want to do but don’t know what it takes to get there, start by doing research on your dream field and reach out to people already working in that field that you know already (or find them on Linkedin) and ask if they’d be willing to tell you how they got their foot in the door. Get the ball rolling and get excited about your future and your next steps will appear.

For increased chances of success, consider sharing your goals with a friend and asking them to hold you accountable or hire a coach who can help you navigate roadblocks. Having support can go a long way towards your progress.

For true change to happen you have to want what you’re after and continuously take action towards it. If you do those two things we’ll be celebrating your accomplishment in just a matter of time. I’ll buy the champagne!
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What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like One Year from Now?

When you plant asparagus you have to wait a couple of years for it to mature before it can be harvested.  Think it's worth waiting for?

When you plant asparagus you have to wait a couple of years for it to mature before it can be harvested. Think it’s worth waiting for?

It’s the eve of a New Year and for many of us that brings up a lot of introspective thoughts.  We think about what we could have done differently, what we should have done differently, we make up resolutions and hope to stick to them.  We enter the new year honestly planning to do better.  However, for most of us, a year passes and we still haven’t quit smoking, we still never made it to the gym we joined and we’re still in debt up to our ears.  Often, the great deterrent to being successful with these resolutions is that they are long term goals that we are thinking of like short-sighted ones.  Long term goals take time to accomplish – often a year or more – but we want what we want NOW.

The thought of waiting a whole year to accomplish something or to see changes can feel overwhelming.  It can feel like it isn’t worth it.  It can make you feel like it’s futile to even try.  A whole year?? Eek! I want results, I want change, I want what I want NOW.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I decided to not do something because the amount of time it would take to do it sapped my motivation.  After college, I avoided going to grad school because the thought of being in school for another year or two was more daunting than going out into the real world with no plan or clue about what I was going to do career-wise.  It just seemed like so LONG to get what I wanted (though it turns out I didn’t want it that much to begin with).  Even losing weight used to feel so daunting. When I topped out at 225 when I was in college, I was so overwhelmed by how much I had to lose to be a healthy weight (I’m not very tall) that for a long while, I just didn’t do anything about it.  If I ignore it, it doesn’t exist, right? It’s not a problem if I choose to do nothing about it??  Since I couldn’t drop 50 – 75 lbs in a week it just wasn’t worth doing.

I am queen of instant gratification. If I can’t benefit from something instantly, it’s easy for me to not be that enthralled by it.  I’m slowly learning that some of the best stuff comes from being patient and allowing things to unfold as they’re supposed to.  Not everything is as simple as flipping the switch and having a light turn on. Often the journey of getting to where you want to be is as satisfying as the end result itself.  No, really!

The Health Coaching program I did at IIN took a year.  When I finally enrolled, I thought it was going to be forever before I would graduate.  Nope! Went by way faster than I could have ever imagined.  In a few weeks my business will be a whole year old.  Not sure how that’s possible because I swear it feels like I just started! In my personal life, I’ve lost 40.5 inches (thanks to Barre classes) and I’ve lost 20 lbs in 2014 (40 lbs total since 5/13 but 20 of it was since 1/14).

The point of all this is that you can accomplish a lot in one year’s time and it will go by a lot faster than you think it will.  What do you want to accomplish this year? How do you want to feel when 2015 ends?

Do you put off losing weight because you are overwhelmed by how long it will take?
Do you get frustrated when you can’t change your habits overnight?
Do you want to be fit right now?
Do you run away or ignore things when you can’t fix it immediately?

I know way too well how shitty it feels when nothing in your closet fits (especially after the holidays!) and how badly you wish you were smaller, fitter, firmer etc (you name it).  Here’s the thing:  There’s no magic fix that will fix it instantly.  If there was we’d ALL know about it.  It wouldn’t be a secret.  I also know how sickening being over your head in debt feels and I know the pain of spending your days doing something that drains you instead of fulfills you. I get it, I really do.

If you really do want to change your life, if you want to feel better in your body and more confident when you look in the mirror, you have to put the work in and it WILL take time.  Same goes with heading down a new career path, getting out of debt or any other big dream or goal you have. You’ve got to put in the time.

The good news though is that it takes just a few days of eating well and exercising to feel a difference, just a few weeks to see a change in the scale or in how our clothes fit and just a few months for others to notice the changes you’ve made!  And all the while, whether you’ve been working at taking better care of yourself for 5 days or 50 weeks, you will feel good about the choices you are making, which will help you continue to make good choices – which is what it takes to reach your goals. Before you know it, you’ve committed to a cleaner diet and more exercise and a whole year or two has passed!

We can’t get time back.  So why not start right now?  Today? With your next meal?

Just as quickly as a year can go by when making positive changes, a year can go by when remaining stagnant.  We don’t want 5 years to pass and wish we had made better choices all that time.  You don’t want to wish you started an exercise program or your started to save money sooner.

Eating better, exercising and making time for self-care is important because it’s a way to reach our goals, but it’s also how we increase our chances of living a healthy life.  Sedentary, junk food filled lives often translate to a shorter lifespan or reduced quality of life in our later years. Who wants that?  It’s about so much more than looking good – it’s about feeling strong and healthy so that we can enjoy our entire lives (not just the parts that happen while we’re young).

I know it’s difficult.  I never want you to feel like I’m saying it’s easy to do these things – I know how overwhelming of a task changing our lives is.  But I want you to know that it can be done and I’m here to support you if you would like help (a coach can help you implement changes seamlessly into your life, as well as provide accountability and support along the way – doesn’t matter if it’s diet related or in another area, career, relationships etc.).

What do you want to have accomplished one year from now? How will you get there?  Can you start working towards it right NOW? What sort of support is helpful for you? Please share in the comments and we can support each other!

And Happy Happy Happy New Year!