Tag Archives: Weight Loss

Your Weight will Always Be an Issue Until You Fall in Love with Yourself

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Choosing to love yourself is a worthy adventure!

Until you fall in love with yourself, you will battle the same weight issues you’ve always battled.

Until you accept your body and yourself as you are, you will never lose weight and keep it off. You might be successful for a little while in losing it, but you’ll gain it back, sometimes even more weight than you lost to begin with, if you refuse to accept and love yourself.

The same behaviors that made you gain weight will come back.

The same thoughts and judgements that led to eating more will come back.

The same “comfort” eating that actually brings discomfort.

The same hiding and denial that makes you want to shrink from living your life the way you want to.

The same feelings of disgust, shame, anger, frustration and anxiety will resurface again and again.

If you think, I’ll love myself when I’m skinny, when I’m fit, when I don’t have this tire around my middle, you will always be looking for that love somewhere else, and in your particular case you’ll look for that love in food.

You need to love yourself NOW – as you are right now.

When you do love yourself, wholly, completely, fully, and without judgement about what your body looks like, the eating stuff will fall into place. It won’t feel like such a big struggle.

I know it feels like a big struggle now. And you wonder how you can just let go of the hate for your body, the hate for your size or shape, the hate for yourself for what or how much food you put in your mouth. The hate you feel for yourself sometimes.

It’s not as complicated as we make it out to be.

You have to let go of this idea you have about yourself – that you are unloveable and broken.

It’s not any different than when we want to move on from unhappiness in our relationships.

Let’s imagine that you’ve had a huge argument with a friend or family member who you love. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before! For awhile, you are more mad or angry at the other person than you are sad that the relationship is strained. You want to feel “right” or feel your anger more than you want to admit any wrong doing or to give them forgiveness. You hold on to the anger, the pain, the stress of the fight for a while because it is serving you in some way. But there comes a point where it hurts more to still be angry. It takes more effort to maintain the distance between you and this person than it would to just forgive them or let go of the discord. We usually can’t forgive them immediately after a fight – emotions are too high and we need time and space before we have the clarity to allow us to take that step. But eventually, if we want to move on in our lives or move forward with this relationship we have to forgive, we have to LET GO. Not really for them – but for ourselves. If we don’t, it will continue to weigh us down. The anger and negativity will fill other parts of our lives. We usually come to a place where we see more value in letting go than holding on to the old grudge and when we do finally do decide to forgive, it’s actually without a lot of fan fare.

It’s actually really easy to do.  It’s not easy when we’re not ready . . .but when you get to a place where the pain of not forgiving is greater than letting go and forgiving – it’s actually quite easy. The repairing of the relationship may take additional work and time (just like repairing our relationship with food) but giving forgiveness, letting go and choosing love is more straightforward.

Letting go of the hate you have for your body is just like the above example.

If it feels too hard, you may be going through a time when you aren’t ready to give that up. The feelings of hate you have for yourself appear to be bringing you more value right now but eventually you will get to a place where holding onto that hate and allowing it to color your life will feel more painful and take more effort than it does to just let it go.

Let it go.

There are two exercises I recommend you try to begin the process of letting go of the hate you feel for your body and beginning to view it with more love.

  1. Write a letter to yourself.

Write an apology letter to your body. Start by laying out what words or actions you are sorry to have used towards her (you), what you are grateful for and how you will start acting differently in the future. Exercises like this help us to “soften” towards ourselves – even if it feels a bit silly when we are writing it out!

Use some of these prompts to get started:

“I am sorry because . . .”.

“I have dishonored you by . . . ”

“I appreciate you for . . . .”

“I am grateful for you because . . .”

“You have taught me . . .”

“In the future, I will no longer  . . . ”

“I look forward to . . . ”

“You (I) deserve . . . ”

2. Visualize putting the hate away in a box and shipping it away.

It’s easy to knock visualization exercises – they seem so abstract and “woo woo” that it’s hard to believe that they can be powerful tools of change! But if you have a good imagination (and if you’re a lover of books like I am or any creative arts then you do!) they can be an easy way to spark change and help you to be more conscious of your actions. To help stop some of the hateful thoughts you have about your body and increase feelings of love, try visualizing your hate or thoughts of hate as something physical. You might see a big grey cloud or something more concrete like animated physical words. Whatever it is that you picture when you have these thoughts, imaging that you have 2 boxes in front of you. One is sealed up and the other is empty and needs to be filled and sealed. First, take the empty box and fill it with whatever physical image you visualized your hateful thoughts as (grey blob? words? etc). Stuff them in there. All of them. Then, close the flaps and seal the box with some heavy duty packing tape. Visualize picking up the box and walking to a post office box and then drop the box in. Once it’s in the post office box you can’t reach it anymore – it’s literally out of your reach! Those thoughts are going to be shipped away and are no longer your concern. Now, go back home to the other sealed box waiting for you. Open it up. Inside there are “wearable” words, thoughts and feelings of love and acceptance. Pick each one up and put it on. “Dress” yourself in these loving words and feelings. What do they look like to you? How do you feel when you try them on?

Try these two exercises and see if they help you open up and feel more accepting, tolerant and loving towards yourself.

Eating is not a character flaw. It’s not a moral shortcoming. You do not deserve poor treatment because of your eating choices.

Practice choosing love, more often, until it becomes your only choice – that’s when food becomes less of an issue and your weight struggles will not be a struggle any more.


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

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You Have To Do The Work (Or Why You Don’t Need to Read Another Book, Take Another Course or Do More Research).

You already know what you need to know to get started. Don't fall into the trap of believing there must be easier or better answers out there. Start taking action on what you already know now.

You already know what you need to know to get started. Don’t fall into the trap of believing there must be easier or better answers out there. Start taking action on what you already know now.

When I was first training to be a coach, I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t know enough. No matter how many lectures I listened to, worksheets completed, books read and coaching demos watched, this feeling kept coming back. How can I be ready to do this work? There’s no way I know what I’m doing. I’ve got to learn more before I begin. Maybe this book or course has the answer. Maybe I need to read a few more blogs on the subject.

What my coaching school told us over and over (it was a common complaint and fear of students), and what I learned to be true afterwards, is that the only way you get good at this work (or anything) is by doing it.  The only way you “know” enough is by going out and doing it.

Knowing something intellectually is not the same as knowing something spiritually or in your core. You can consume all the information available in the world. You can read every book, buy every online course and you’ll still feel just as unprepared as you did on day 1 if you don’t actually go out and do the real-life work.

I had to take everything I learned in school, from books and lectures and apply it in actual coaching conversations before any of it made sense – before I felt confidence in what I had set out to do. In order to become a skilled coach (and to feel like a coach), I had to actually coach!

The same can be said for repairing your relationship with food, with losing weight or getting fit. Really, it can be said about anything new we want to do or create in our lives. You can spend hours upon hours of your time learning about what diet to try, what exercises to do, what mental habits you need to learn and none of it will get you where you want to be unless you actually go out, buy the food, prepare it, eat it, go out and do the exercises in your workout plan several days a week and practice all the mental tools to change your thinking. The key to reaching any goal (as I have preached on and on about before) is taking the physical steps and actions to get there.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that x, y, and z isn’t working for them and so they ask me to give them something else that will work. “What else can I try?” they ask. Let’s say X is mindful or intuitive eating. Y is eating whole foods most of the time. Z is feeling their feelings instead of eating them. When someone tells me any of these things, my first instinct is to play sleuth before handing them more information. I have to find out what “not working” means. I don’t doubt that whatever they are doing isn’t working (if it was, this complaint wouldn’t be so prevalent) but I have to question what mindful eating, whole foods or feeling their feelings looks like in their reality.

How are they applying it in their daily life?

What does each meal look like?

How many times did they feel an uncomfortable feeling today and what did they do?

How long did it last? 

In reality, most people who learn about mindful eating think that just being 50% mindful three meals a week is enough to say they tried mindful eating and it didn’t work for them. People who say eating whole foods didn’t work for them think that eating a salad one day and steamed broccoli on another cancels out the 3 trips to McDonald’s and the 3 pints of ice cream they ate this week. People who are supposed to be focusing on feeling their feelings instead of eating them, feel an uncomfortable feeling once or twice and run for the hills (and usually into the pantry).

Trying something once, twice or partially 10 times is not enough.

It’s half-assed and it’s not doing it.

Feeling your feelings regularly is something that takes a lot of time and effort. We have to continuously bring our minds back to our discomfort and be able to sit with it until the feeling dissipates. The same goes with mindful eating. If you want that to work for you, you really have to make mindful eating something you do at every meal, with every bite.

We think that just by knowing something, it will be enough to help us make changes. Knowing the why’s and the hows is a big part of making changes but it’s just a blueprint. You’re the architect. You still have to oversee the actual building of the building. You have to go out and buy supplies like wood and power tools. You have to hire a team to help you build it. You have to get permits and deal with bureaucratic BS. You may even have to physically pick up a hammer and nail a lot of boards together. Not just once. Over and over until what you build looks like the blueprint. You don’t give up on day 1 because the hardware store didn’t have the brand of nails you like. You don’t give up on day 2 because a contractor was late. You might need to adjust your schedule or change your plan of attack but you do what you have to do to complete the project. Just knowing how something can and should be built isn’t the same as actually getting it built. It’s the same with repairing your relationship with food.

You do not need another book. You don’t need another course. You don’t need to go to another workshop. You have to settle in with what you already know and use it.

If you do this, try to learn everything you can, but don’t actually put it into action, don’t feel badly. You’re not alone. We all do this. We all have a lot on our plates and we try to just skip over the parts of our healing process that we find difficult or confusing or uncomfortable.

Instead of hunkering down and immersing ourselves in the physical process of change (like letting uncomfortable feelings be, prepping healthy food for every meal, returning our focus to our meals each time our brain wants to go somewhere else etc) we attempt spiritual bypass. We learn all we can and then think that means we can skip over the meaty parts because we have the intellectual knowledge.

The problem with this is that we end up really still being in the same place. We just think we’ve moved past something when really all we’ve done is checked out in the part of our journey where it gets hard. Stop checking out. Check “in” instead and apply what you already know.

If you see yourself doing this, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What is it that you want?
  • What actions are you taking towards that goal?
  • What have you tried that has not worked?
  • How much effort did you put into the things that you feel did not work?
  • How much of your time and energy do you spend reading, learning, consuming new or more material on the subject you want to change? (Are you always buying another book on the same subject? Always following a new guru on social media? Do you buy courses online but then look to buy another before completing the work they ask of you?
  • What is something you know you must do to reach your goal but are having difficulty taking the first step on?
  • Why do you think you haven’t taken that step?
  • What would make taking that step easier? Who could support you? How can you support yourself?
  • If you already knew everything there was to know about your subject or goal, what 3 things do you think you could start doing today that would move you closer to reaching that goal?

If you are struggling in translating your knowledge into action with emotional eating, chronic dieting or overeating, let’s talk. Coaching is an amazing tool for exactly that kind of transformation and I’d love to be of service to you.


Like this? For more, 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!).

3 Common Traps To Avoid While You’re Losing Weight

Trying to lose weight while eating super low calorie will undermine your progress. Don't do this!

Trying to lose weight while eating super low calorie will undermine your progress. Don’t do this!

When we want to lose weight, we want to clear out every obstacle in our path so that we can get to our goal as easily as possible, right? (Doesn’t mean it will be easy, but a little thinking ahead can go a long way!)

We lay out our exercise clothes the night before so we have one less excuse in the morning.

We spend time on food prep so that we have healthy food to eat without adding to our stressful days.

We make rules – no eating after 7pm, no fried food, no liquid calories (I’m looking at you soda!) etc.

We think we’ve got it all figured out and get up on Day 1 pumped to do as much as we can and go as hard as we can to drop that weight!

And sometimes we don’t foresee the problems that can come with this enthusiasm for our goal.

There are a lot of things we tend to do when trying to lose weight that can seriously undermine our progress. Not getting enough sleep, having a few too many cheat meals or happy hour drinks, underestimating how much food we’re eating or overestimating how many calories we burned during exercise. It can all add up to extra months of “work” and a ton of frustration. Sometimes it can backfire and some of us will actually gain weight – when we think we’re doing things that are good for us. It’s confusing territory!

There are 3 traps I see people doing over and over again that seem to undermine their progress the most – and the worst part is that they really believe that these things are going to help them reach their goal. These are things I found myself doing too, the first few times I attempted to lose weight and I so wish I had done things a little differently. I’m sharing them today so that if you’re just getting started (and you’re so pumped to get there!!!) you don’t end up making some of the same mistakes.

Don’t do these things. Please. You’ll thank me later, I swear.

 

3 Common Traps to Avoid While You’re Losing Weight

 

  1. Doing hours and hours of cardio. Don’t do this. Cardio has it’s benefits – it’s good for our hearts and makes us feel good and yes, it does burn calories. But anytime we’re burning off body fat, we’re also breaking down muscle. That means, you may lose fat but in that weight loss, is some of your lean body mass. Muscle is important obviously for strength but it also affects how good we look in that body (at any size). Muscle gives our bodies shape. Do you want nice legs? Shapely arms? A curvy bum? Those aesthetics come from having muscle tone (or genetics). Instead of spinning your wheels on cardio machines every day of the week, a better strategy would be to incorporate a couple of strength training sessions into your weekly workouts which will help you maintain the muscle you currently have. Don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights. You won’t bulk up (that takes major effort). You’ll still burn calories, get your heart rate up and when you do lose fat, you won’t have lost as much muscle – which will help you achieve the body shape you’re after. Strength training is also good for keeping our bones strong and you may find it less boring than repetitive cardio workouts. You’ll also see changes in your body that cardio alone wouldn’t give you. If you’re brand new to strength training, it’s a good idea to schedule a couple of sessions with a personal trainer who can teach you proper form. If you’ve done it before and just need some motivation or ideas, visit fitnessblender for free workouts.

  2. Eating a super low calorie diet for months at time. Don’t do this. In order to drop body fat, we have to eat less than our bodies require to maintain our weight, but some people take this a bit too far. They figure that if eating a little less brings them slow weight loss, why not eat a lot less for fast weight loss? Eating super low calorie for a long time isn’t sustainable. It might be ok for a few days but beyond that, if you aren’t eating enough, you won’t have the energy you need to get through your day, you’ll be irritable, you’ll have mood swings and you’ll find that you feel completely out of control around food. It will be all you think about and major restriction usually leads to us eventually eating too much to make up for it. Any progress you think you’ve made from serious restriction will be undone as soon as you let yourself go back to eating normally (which may appear in the form of a binge). A better strategy is to eat a little bit less than you usually do, eat a variety of whole nutritious foods and make sure that every meal and snack has protein, fiber and fat in it (to keep you satisfied). Slow might not be sexy, but it’ll get you there in one piece and help you make lifelong changes (which is what you’re really after anyway).

  3. Jumping around different dietary plans over and over. Don’t do this. For any dietary plan to work, you need to follow it pretty consistently for a significant period of time. It doesn’t matter whether it be something philosophical like intuitive eating / mindful eating or something structured like paleo or the mediterranean diet, if you don’t put in enough time with it, you won’t know if it is a good fit for you.  So many people are afraid they are doing the “wrong” plan – because there is conflicting info about what diet is best and every where you turn, there is an advertisement for how someone lost weight doing x, y and z. Really, there is no such thing as the perfect or right “diet” and what works for me, may not work for you or vice versa. Nutritional science will frustrate the crap out of you because you can always find studies that will confirm or refute whatever plan you are following. You don’t have to jump to the newest and greatest thing to get great results (especially if a friend of a friend you’ve never met is selling it and they’re messaging you incessantly).

How do you know if you should stick to what you’ve started or you should try the newest thing? Well, answer these questions:

  • Is what you are doing working?
  • Do you feel satisfied eating the way you’re currently eating?
  • Do you have enough energy and stamina to complete your workouts?
  • Are you seeing positive changes to your body?
  • Are your clothes fitting better?

If your answer is yes to most of these, then there is no reason to jump onto the latest diet or fitness trend. You need to go with your gut and your results. If you feel good on your current plan and it’s only been a short while – keep going! Jumping from plan to plan can leave us feeling like we’ve been working really hard without getting any results and feel like we are perpetually depriving ourselves – which can sometimes lead to lots of cheat meals and “I deserve to eat this” kind of thinking. Stay the course. If you’ve been following a plan really closely (be honest here) for 6-8 weeks and haven’t made any progress or don’t like how you feel, then it’s probably ok to try something else. But please don’t feel pressured to try the latest and greatest diet out there – it’s not necessary.

If you’re finding yourself caught in these common pitfalls of weight loss and need help prioritizing and getting those obstacles out of your way, I’m here to help. Let’s set up a call as soon as you are free! Go here to do that.


Like this? For more, 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!).

Things I wish I knew sooner (on this food, fitness and health journey)

Things I wish I knew sooner: that finding exercise that you love will make getting to the gym, studio or lacing up your sneakers exciting instead of something you "endure".

Things I wish I knew sooner: that finding exercise that you love will make getting to the gym, studio or lacing up your sneakers exciting instead of something you “endure”.

My mother had this sweater machine – a big electronic knitting loom thing that helped her make sweaters and blankets way faster than she could knit them by hand – because she loved to sell baby sweaters at Church fairs. In order to create a new row of stitches she had to move this white plastic handled part of the loom from left to right, right to left over the machine, and each time it went over the rows of yarn, it made a loud click-clack sound for a few seconds. I remember timing my trips to the kitchen by that sound after school. I’d wait in the kitchen with my hand on the cookie jar lid and when I heard the click-clack start, I’d lift the lid carefully and reach in and grab some cookies. My mom probably would have said yes, had I asked for a cookie. If she heard the cookie jar opening, she probably would have commented “hey, don’t ruin your dinner!” but nothing more. She wouldn’t have shamed me but I somehow knew I didn’t want to have a conversation about it and I knew that if I did it quietly I could go back and get more cookies. Just have to wait for that click-clack of the knitting machine to start so she couldn’t hear me.

“More” food was something I always craved and yet I wanted to push away all accountability for my choices all at the same time. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. If I wasn’t sneaking food, I was trying to find ways to burn more calories so that I could lose weight. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but I remember laying in bed as a child saying my nightly prayers and asking the Virgin Mary to make it so that for every calorie I ate, I would actually burn 2! I obviously hadn’t worked out how that math would work long term had she been able to fulfill my wish and I may have misunderstood the types of things that prayer was useful for, but you have to admire the shameless way I tried to elicit the Virgin Mary’s assistance on my #bodygoals.

I don’t remember when specifically I learned that I was overweight or when I learned that that was something I needed to change. I just feel as though I always knew it was something “wrong” about me. Other people with food/weight stories like mine usually have one or two defining moments that stick out in their minds. I have tons of small moments that just add up to a life of feeling completely controlled by or out of control around food.

I’ve spent the last decade plus a few years working on my eating and weight issues in some manner (some things more successfully than others). The most progress in my journey has definitely come in the last 3 years – when I decided to train to be a coach and when I started taking on clients of my own. Watching other women make connections about their own stories and be empowered to change their story going forward has made my own stuff become so much clearer.

During this journey, I am constantly unlearning and relearning things that I took for granted. Things that I once took for certain, like “fat is bad”, I now can’t fathom that I ever believed that. I wish I had known that fat was a crucial and necessary macronutrient a lot earlier in this process. I think my relationship with food might have been less tempestuous had I been able to eat foods that were more satiating due to their fat content. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?

If I was starting at the beginning of my food and weight story again, there are a lot of things I know now that I wish I knew then. I am going to share some of those below in case you are just beginning (or well on your way) and one or two of these could help you get to where you are going a lot sooner.

 

Things I wish I knew sooner:

  • that what you eat affects how you feel physically and emotionally.
  • that can’t outrun a bad diet.
  • that just being skinny wasn’t going to solve my problems.
  • that the things I didn’t like about my body when I was heavy would still be the things I didn’t like about my body when I was thinner.
  • that I don’t need to eat to comfort myself.
  • also that there are better ways to comfort yourself, that last longer and don’t have negative effects.
  • that there’s no quick fix, fast diet, pills or powders that will solve what got us into this mess in the first place.
  • not to compare my body and my progress to someone else’s. We’re all on different journeys.
  • that feelings won’t break me and I can feel anything without resorting to food.
  • that the number on the scale can go up and down throughout the week or month and not be an indicator of actual weight gain.
  • that foam rolling existed!
  • how to prepare healthy food so that it tastes good. I used to think it had to be bland and flavorless to be good for me.
  • that this is the only body I have and I need to appreciate it for all that it does for me.
  • that fat wasn’t going to make me fat and that eating it would actually help prevent me from overeating! (Could have saved myself a decade of being hungry here!)
  • that being strong and capable feels way better than weighing a certain amount.
  • that you can enjoy eating without it being your primary source of joy.
  • that liking myself was more important than liking how I looked.
  • that the amount of calories I burned during exercise doesn’t give me a license to eat as much junk as I wanted.
  • that having cute and well fitting clothes to wear makes exercising way more fun.
  • that motivation isn’t a secret energy that only some have, it’s just another word for being disciplined. When you say you lack motivation, what you really mean is that you lack discipline. We can train ourselves to become more disciplined – and it will stay with us a lot longer than any motivation, inspiration or will power.
  • that saying you are “trying” to do something is usually a hint that you are expecting to fail or preparing to never even get off the ground. Remove “try” from your vocabulary and just “do” (not “try” to do) the things you want to do.
  • that being so overweight wasn’t just a given because of my “genes”, or being born “big boned”. In my case, it was the direct result of many, many actions (and inactions) I took over many years (calculated hand in the cookie jar!). Had I recognized earlier that I had a huge hand in getting to such a high weight . . .I would have also been able to recognize that I had a hand in getting myself out of it.
  • that being attractive is not directly tied to the size of the dress I’m wearing. You can be thin and unattractive and you can be fat and attractive. Attractiveness is something so much broader than our size or shape.
  • that the more I worried about how much I ate, the more how much I ate would be a constant concern.
  • that taking rest days when my body needs them actually helps me make more progress, not less!
  • that lifting heavy weights wouldn’t make me big or bulky. (Getting big or bulky from weights requires major herculean effort – you aren’t going to get there accidentally).
  • that for every restrictive diet there will be an equal or greater binge (that idea is goes to Geneen Roth). The more I tried to dial back and eat less, the more I felt compelled to eat more the second I thought I could get away with it.
  • that physical hunger doesn’t cause panic (emotional hunger does). I didn’t really know what hunger felt like for a long time and instead had taught myself to feel “hungry” when I was bored, tired, overwhelmed, stressed, confused etc. I have relearned what hungry feels like in my body and it’s a lot easier to manage now.
  • that taking care of my body feels much better than retaliating against it.
  • that finding exercise you love will make getting to the gym, studio or lacing up your sneakers exciting instead of something you “endure”.
  • that having a proper sports bra makes exercise less painful and makes you feel good (check out Enell, Moving Comfort or Panache if pulling an elastic tube top over your chest that smashes you down isn’t working for you).
  • that keeping weight off after you’ve lost it can be harder than losing it in the first place. If you lose it in a fast or unsustainable way, how will you keep it off forever? Something to think about.
  • that love, success, friendship, admiration, creativity, self-worth and confidence isn’t something reserved only for the thin or fit.

What are some things you’ve learned during your health, weight and fitness journey that you wish you knew sooner? What would you tell someone just starting out?


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!).

What if We Gave Up Wanting to Lose Weight?

Is the idea of losing weight holding you back from the life you could be living?

Is the idea of losing weight holding you back from the life you could be living?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what motivates us to work at improving our bodies, and for so many women, it’s the number on the scale. We think the number on the scale automatically translates to looking good or bad. It holds so much power over us, if we let it. But really that number doesn’t really mean all that much. It doesn’t tell us how strong you are. It doesn’t necessarily tell us that you have too much body fat. It doesn’t tell us what your body can do and it doesn’t show us what you look like (despite our thinking that it screams “fat! fat!” to anyone within sight).

You can take three women who weigh the exact same amount and they will look remarkably different. Height, genetics, body composition, body shape and lifestyle can all affect what those women look like at the same weight. A woman who is 5 ft 9 and runs 4 days a week, will look different from a woman who is 5ft 2 and sedentary, and they’ll both look different from a woman who is 5 ft 6 and is a powerlifter.  They may all weigh 145 lbs but be wearing different sizes and be capable of very different things. The number on the scale alone doesn’t tell us anything about them or their lives. It’s not useful but we cling to it like it’s the end all, be all, that determines our worth and how we feel about ourselves.

What if for just a few weeks or months we gave up wanting to lose weight? That nagging, permanent and always just out of reach, weight loss goal? The one that plagues us no matter what weight we are.

You know which one I’m talking about.

You lost 50 lbs . . but that’s not quite good enough, “oh I just need to firm up my belly or lose this belly flab. I’ll be happy when I lose another 10 lbs, I think . . .”

You lost 10 lbs. “Ug, it’s not enough. I need to lose a few more. My thighs are still out of control.”

“I won’t start living until I get rid of this weight.”

“I’ll accomplish x, y and z when I reach that weight. I’ll go on that trip. I’ll date more. I’ll start dating. I’ll buy a bathing suit.”

Try to remember back to the last time you were at that goal weight, you were probably there at some point (even if it was middle school). Were you happy with your body then? Or were you in it but wishing it was something different?

I have clients who by all ways of measuring are what many of us would consider a perfectly acceptable weight – but they’re still not happy with their bodies. Or they are, until they hop on the scale in the morning.

I have friends who are at what most would consider a perfect weight but they’re not happy with their bodies either.

When I was my thinnest, I still felt bigger than everyone around me and found fault with the most ridiculous things – my ass was too flat, my stomach has too many old stretch marks and loose skin etc. I determined that the number on the scale must still be too high.

Some of us will find something to criticize or tear apart no matter how much we weigh or how little we weigh. And sometimes the more we lose, the more we find fault with.

And we put our lives on hold until some mystery time in the future when everything about our bodies will finally be right? But they’ll never meet our expectations. There will always be something we don’t like.

Isn’t that the most insane thing ever?

Could you let go of wanting to lose “weight”? If not forever, how about just for the next 3 or 4 months? If after 3-4 months of not trying to lose weight, you are not happier in your skin, you can go back to being unhappy in it while also wanting to lose weight.

And during that time, instead of focusing on diets that restrict and make you feel tired and hungry, could you focus on taking amazing and loving care of yourself?

Instead of losing weight, your goal for the next 3-4 months is to:

  • Eat food that nourishes, soothes and satisfies your body. Food that gives you energy but also leaves you feeling light and free.
  • Move your body regularly with activity that makes it feel strong, powerful, graceful and resilient. And if it doesn’t feel that way now, your goal is to try new activities that you know will help you get there.
  • Get regular sunshine, fresh air and be social with people whose company you enjoy.
  • Laugh and cry and feel joy but also feel boredom, anger and sadness. Feel all the things, as much as you can.
  • Stay home in your pjs occasionally and drink coffee and read fluffy fiction like it’s your job.
  • Say “no” to some invitations/events/requests that you don’t want to do.
  • Get 8-9 hours of good sleep per night (that means putting down your phone an hour before bedtime).
  • Wear clothing that makes you feel amazing (no matter the current size or shape of your figure).
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Live. You will do everything you had planned to do when you finally reached that weight, size or shape. You won’t wait, you will start doing those things now. Right now.
  • Look in the mirror every day and find something that you like about the way you look. Bonus points if you can come up with something different each day.
  • Give away as much love as you are willing to receive back (you ARE deserving of it). If you’re not there yet, practice will get you there!

During this time you won’t:

  • Criticize your body in any way shape or form. Also don’t criticize other people’s bodies.
  • Make judgements about the food that you eat or about yourself for having eaten food that previously you labeled as good or bad.
  • Restrict, count calories, points, macros or anything else.
  • Overexercise.
  • Weigh yourself

Try it. Just for a short period of time, try letting go of the need to lose weight – especially if this is something that has plagued you your entire conscious life. Losing another 5 or 10 lbs is not going to fix what isn’t working in your life but putting down that burden might give you the clarity to find another way.

What might you be able to do if you were freed from thinking about your weight or size daily? Who do you think you would be? How might you be different? What about you would be the same? Would you like the woman you’d be? How can you be more like her now?


Like this? To get more like it, 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!).

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!).

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!).