“Comfort Foods” Making your Clothes Uncomfortable?

There is nothing wrong with foods being a source of pleasure.  In fact, the more your relationship with food can be a positive one, the better you will feel about your eating habits.  However, confusing a positive relationship with eating your favorite foods with the notion of seeking “comfort” from certain foods can lead to problems with your relationship with food.

If you are eating something to gain a sense of comfort, this begins to connect your eating to emotions instead of satiety.  There is a difference between eating a food you love because you are enjoying the taste of it or the ceremony for which the food represents and eating to soothe emotions.

If you are eating for comfort, you are expecting that food to solve a problem for you.  It’s important to figure out if you are turning to food when you are frustrated, sad or bored.  If you are, then more than likely you need something else, other than food.  For example, if you are up late working on a project for work and you wander into the kitchen, stop and ask yourself if you are truly hungry.  Most likely you are tired, not hungry.

Let me encourage you to move away from using the term “comfort foods.”  Use food as fuel rather than therapy.  It is not to say you can’t consume foods you previously considered to be “comfort foods”; simply redefine their place in your eating plan, and make them a part of your healthy lifestyle, not a part of your mental well-being.

Your turn to take action: How will you work on banishing the phrase “comfort food” from your vocabulary?

Mindful Exercise—Feel the Difference

Family bikingExercise is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.  Unfortunately, dieters look at it as a way to negate calories and as a way to legitimize eating larger amounts of food.  Or they “punish” themselves with a difficult workout because their eating was “bad” the night before and they need to “undo it.”  Exercise bulimia is also a problem in our society, where people “purge” their calories by over-exercising to burn calories.

It is unfortunate that something as beneficial and positive as exercise can have negative connotations as well.  The problem is how you choose to look at exercise.  Many people see it as something they have to do as opposed to something they want to do.  When fitting in exercise becomes synonymous to fitting in housework, it turns into something stressful, instead of an activity that can take away stress.

Instead of adopting a diet mentality when it comes to exercise, remember all of the benefits it can bring to your health.  Physical activity fights against disease.  Whether it is to better cardiac health, protect against cancers, boost your immunity or maintain bone and joint health, the physiological effects of getting up and getting moving make a trip to the doctor much less likely.

Besides the physiological effects seen, exercise boosts your mood as well.  Feel-good hormones are secreted during exercise which can lift you up and make you feel better.  The results you achieve from consistent exercise also raise your self-esteem and make you more confident to achieve your goals.  Not to be minimized, exercise is also a lot of fun!

While I encourage my clients to fit exercise into their daily routine, it is not for the reason of weight loss.  If you continue to think of exercise as a way to burn calories, then you will dread it and have trouble motivating yourself to go out for that walk or hop on the treadmill.  Instead focus on the positive benefits noted above and you will find that you are exercising not because you have to but because it makes you feel great.

Your turn to take action: How do you view exercise?  As a part of your “diet” or part of your healthy lifestyle?

International No Diet Day

No DietingToday is International No Diet Day.  This holiday was initiated in 1992 by Mary Evans Young, director of British anti-dieting campaign “Diet Breakers.”  This day was created to encourage international awareness of healthy eating as opposed to dieting.  It is an annual celebration of all body types, shapes and sizes.  It’s a day where we challenge cultural perceptions and opinions that could result in chronic dieting and discontent with body image.

If you have been reading my blog posts, you probably notice that I never use the word diet when talking about healthy eating.  I use phrases such as, “eating plan,” and “healthy lifestyle,” and I try to eliminate the word “diet” from the vocabulary of the clients I work with.  The word “diet” has come to imply something that you are “on” or “off.”  It leads to cyclically gaining and losing weight, and hardly brings the success and health promised by diets.

There has never been a better day than today to celebrate a life free of dieting that I assure you is out there.  By becoming an intuitive eater, you are no longer a prisoner to the restrictions of a specific diet, counting calories or measuring portions like you’re in a science lab.  Start by tuning into your body by embracing a healthy non-diet mindset and creating healthy habits that will stay with you forever.  By doing this, you have chosen to make lifelong changes, not temporary fixes as diets propose.

I encourage you to celebrate this holiday every day remembering to love yourself and the body that you have, and make healthy choices based on your intuition and the healthy lifestyle you have chosen.

Your turn to take action: Commit today to take time off from the crazy diet plan you are following and listen to your body’s hunger and satiety signals to guide your eating!  If you need help, download my FREE guide here.

Going for Your Goals

Go for itI have written previous blogs on “me time”, about not buying into the idea of pop culture determining the ultimate body type, and on not overextending yourself.  Now I am challenging you to take it one step further.

Was there ever a time, or perhaps more than one, where you did something not because you wanted to do it but because somebody else thought it was best for you?  I would not be surprised if the answer was yes.  Sometimes it’s easy to be scared about going after the things you want.  Whether it’s because you don’t trust your own intuition or you don’t want to fall short of someone else’s expectations, you let someone else map out your journey.

It happens with food too.  You find yourself at a restaurant with friends.  They are all ordering salads and even though you really wanted a steak that day, you jump on the bandwagon and order a salad as well.  Or perhaps you do order the steak, and one of your friends chimes in, “Steak?!  I thought you were on a diet!”  At which point you immediately change to the salad saying it was a momentary lapse in judgment.  If you want steak, have steak.  That is what intuitive eating is all about.  Honor your hunger and the desire for the food you want, and it will be easier to respect your fullness when you have had enough.

It is true for anything in life.  Focus on the things you want and make them happen. It is your journey to navigate, not someone else’s.  While you can let others weigh in on situations, know in the end that the only person’s whose opinion matters is yours.

Your turn to take action: How have other’s opinions affected you in life?

Know When to Stop and Say “No”

Knowing When to Stop PictureI have spent a lot of time discussing the freedom from dieting that intuitive eating can provide.  That certainly is the beauty of being mindful.  But one principle that people sometimes struggle with is “Respecting Your Fullness.”  This principle involves really tuning in while you’re eating, and being able to recognize when you have had enough and no longer need to keep eating.

As you may have found out in your own eating, consuming food past the point of fullness can make you uncomfortable, sick or lead to feelings of guilt.  These feelings can lead you to skipping your next meal or snack, thus beginning an overeating/starving cycle that messes with your metabolism.  By paying attention while you’re eating, you can break free of this cycle and feel good about what you are eating.

The idea behind this principle can also be applied to things in life other than eating mindfully.  I’m sure many of you feel overextended due to juggling family, a job, a household and anything else that may come up in a day.  Think of overextending yourself as something similar to overeating.  Just like I want you to respect your fullness, I want you to respect your fullness of schedule as well.  Sometimes taking on too much can take you away from the really important aspects of your life and self-care.  Knowing when to say no to certain things is analogous to knowing when you are full from a meal.

Though our country is all about excess, scaling back and respecting your limitations is just as important as trying to achieve the impossible ideal of “doing it all.”  Respect your fullness, respect your time, and respect that you are only capable of so much.  Do what you can handle well and you will feel much better during your day to day life.

The next time someone asks you to do something and you really can’t fit it in, say the following, “I wish I could, but I can’t.”  No need for reasons or excuses.

Your turn to take action:  Do you have a hard time saying “no” to people?

Pop Culture Permeates Body Image

Woman at ocean doing yogaIn 1959 Barbie burst onto the scene, meant to be a symbol for young girls to look up to and hope to be like.  However, throughout the years many mothers and advocates for woman’s issues complained about Barbie’s unrealistic proportions and the body image that it would represent to the impressionable young girls playing with her.  Now images of unrealistic body types are hard to escape in our country.  We are a nation obsessed with celebrity, and sometimes we forget that their lives are far from normal, and so are their body types.

I want to ask you a question.  Are you striving for the“perfect body?”  Are your looks what make you who you are?  I hope the answers to these questions are no.  However for a celebrity, their job and their responsibility to the public is to look good.  That means their days are designed to have hours to workout.  Their meals are delivered to their doorstep or handmade by a private chef.  Not to mention a little thing called airbrushing and spandex which are used to trick consumers when it comes to the magazines you see.  It is hardly fair to hold yourself to an image that is hardly realistic.

There is no person to whom you should be comparing yourself to.  Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another.  When it comes to body image, you are under no obligation look like anybody other than yourself, especially if it means putting yourself at health risk to do it.  You have to respect your body for what is and what it allows you to do.  Maybe your arms seem out of proportion, but those are the arms that are strong enough to lift your children with.  Or perhaps you would like your thighs to be smaller, but it’s those thighs that allow you to participate in your favorite sports or exercise activities.

There is always a positive to be found in the way you’re built.  The way you are built allows you to do the things that you do.  Try to internalize this thought; an improved self-image is the first step towards an improved body image.

Your turn to take action: Stand in front of the mirror with minimal clothing on.  Look at your reflection and ask yourself, “What one thing do I like about my body?”  If you can’t seem to find anything you like, then think about the way your body functions and all the good it’s done for you.  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Eating Out Mindfully

Restaurant Meal

Restaurants can be one of the greatest challenges of trying to eat healthy.  New labeling requirements have made us more aware of just how unhealthy some of our favorite dishes can be.  But eating out is part of our culture and it is a fun social event to go out to eat with our friends.  It is also an opportunity to try new foods that we don’t eat on a regularbasis and that should not be missed out on just because you feel like you won’t be able to make healthy choices.

I often hear from my clients that they don’t go out to eat because they fear they will make “bad” choices and overeat.  I tell them if you were dieting then I can understand how difficult it would be.  But I quickly remind them that they are not dieting.  Eating mindfully is about enjoying whatever foods you want, and knowing that the enjoyment can come guilt-free.  One of the best intuitive eating principles that can help you in a restaurant setting is “Respect Your Fullness.”  By eating what you really want to eat, not what you think you should eat, you will enjoy your restaurant experience and be able to stop when comfortably satisfied without risk of overeating.

It’s easy to get distracted when eating out.  You might be wrapped up in conversation and eat more than you expect because you were not paying attention to your food.  Here are some strategies to increase your consciousness while eating:

  • Be aware of how hungry you are when you sit down.  Sometimes restaurants make you wait for a long time before seating you at a table, and then you still have to wait for your food once you get there.
  • Never arrive overly hungry or it will be harder to identify when you had enough. Have a small snack before you leave home.
  • Wait to take bites between conversations so you can be aware of the food you are eating.
  • Pause mid-meal and ask yourself if you are still hungry.

Eating out is fun and can be included in a healthy eating lifestyle.  All food and food related activities have their place in mindful eating, and as you continue on this journey, you will see how you will enjoy food socially more than ever before, without the guilt and the uncomfortable fullness!

If you are interested in learning more strategies to help you get off the diet roller coaster, request your Free – Break Free of Dieting Strategy Session Here.

Your turn to take action:  How will you increase your consciousness while eating out?

4 Dangers of Chronic Dieting

While many people can admit to dieting at some point in their lives, there is a difference between wanting to lose 1. weight the healthy way (slow and steady) or relying on fad diets that promise quick fixes.

The problem with fad diets is that they will most likely last just as long as it took you to lose the weight.  Instead of losing weight gradually over time and being able to maintain the weight loss, these short-lived diets will actually end up costing you more than you bargained for.

Because of their quick-fix results, many people unfortunately get caught up in the cycle of dieting for a specific event, gaining the weight back, and then trying a new fad the next time.  This is known as chronic dieting.

While these may work in the short-term, there can be negative long-term effects!

4 Side Effects of Dieting

1.Slowed Metabolism– When dieting consists of a drastic decrease in caloric intake, your body will compensate for this “starvation mode”, which will slow the rate of your metabolism.  While many diets claim to speed up metabolism, they are actually doing the opposite.

2.More Challenging to Lose Weight– Over time, after numerous fad diet episodes, it will be harder for your body to lose excess weight, and even harder to gain back the lean muscle mass that you have lost.  After a quick-fix diet, youhave lost mostly water weight and muscle, so when you do gain weight back, it is not muscle, it is fat.  Therefore, although you may lose initial weight, the chances of you gaining even more fat back after your success is extremely high.

3.Altered Mood– What happens when you get hungry?  You get angry!  Not having the appropriate amount of food in your system can affect your mood because of hormonal changes and a lower level of blood sugar.  With less energy being consumed, the more tired you become as well. Is losing weight in an unhealthy fashion worth being tired and in a bad mood for?

4.Nutrient Deficiencies– Some diets restrict certain nutrients such as carbohydrates or complete food groups, such as dairy.  When you aren’t eating well-balanced meals, you are likely missing some essential nutrients that can lead to deficiencies and disease.

The next time you hear of a fad diet that is too good to be true, it probably is! There are many ways to lose weight fast, but they certainly are not healthy and over time can lead to further health complications. Eating well-balanced meals and letting your body guide you while incorporating consistent exercise and movement that feels joyful and gentle is the true way to feeling at home in your body and living a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Your turn to take action:  Want off the diet roller coaster? Sign up below to Break the Spell of Diets in 3 Days! You’ll be amazed at the feeling of freedom!

People Pleasing and Putting Yourself First

Woman with healthy skin and towel on headWhen you are on an airplane and the emergency procedures are being explained, do you notice they tell you to always put your oxygen mask on first before helping others?  The reason you are told to do that is so that you are able to help others.  If you disregard your mask and try to help your children or loved ones instead, you would pass out and be of no use to anyone.

 

This is a good metaphor for those of you who do not take the time to take care of yourself in life.  When you are too busy running around and doing for everyone else, it is easy to become drained, sick or resentful.  By taking time to care for yourself, you are actually helping to be more present for your loved ones.  It may seem like your needs are not as important as those around you, but again, if your needs are not met, how can you be the best you can be for everyone in your life.

 

The other thing is, the people in your life want to see you happy and fulfilled.  If you feel like they may not be supportive of you taking time for yourself, explain to them how meeting your needs will make you better at helping them with theirs.  They will also enjoy seeing you happier and calmer, rather than the stressed and snippy you that might come out when you are doing for everyone else and not tending to yourself.

 

Worse yet, what if being a people pleaser is actually harming your health?  Weight gain, high blood sugar, and elevated blood pressure are all physical side effects of neglecting yourself in order to please others.

 

Eating healthy is one of the first things to go when you are taking care of everyone around you but you.  You might find yourself saying you do not have time to plan or make your meals and snacks because you are busy making your children’s.  Or, perhaps you are on the go all day running from place to place that you forget to eat and find yourself ravenous at the end of the night when everyone is tucked into bed.  Being healthy is its own type of oxygen mask.  A healthy you breeds healthier individuals around you, which is a win-win for everyone!

 

If you need help finding ways to take care of yourself, check out my recent blog post 10 Ways to Combat Stress!  Remember, your loved ones need you, but they need you to be happy and healthy more than anything.

Your turn to take action:  What will you do to take better care of yourself?

The Stress and Food Cycle

Sad woman eating donutIn the previous article I listed many healthy ways to manage the stress in your life.  Notice I did not list “indulge in comfort food” or “treat yourself with food” as one of the healthy alternatives to stress.  Yet how many people use food as their “go to” cure for stress?  If this strikes a chord with you, you are not alone.

Food is a very common tool that some people use to try and mediate stress.  However, food as a “cure” typically provokes even more stress.  Comfort foods that people often turn to are laden with sugar and fat and are not the kind that makes you feel good when you finish it.  It is the type of food that is easy to overindulge in and become overfull, and full of guilt.  This behavior can be the cause of unwanted weight gain.  You then feel more stressed, engage in more mindless eating and experience more remorse.

You can break free of this vicious cycle by understanding the real reason you use food to deal with your stress and by incorporating 3 simple steps into your life.

Take the first step to self-discovery by tuning into my free mini-webinar 3 Simple Steps to Stop the Stress and the Weight Gain.  This webinar will give you an introduction to the strategies you need to combat stress, as well as insight into how to best avoid the stress all-together.

Just click here for instant access to this webinar and let me help you break free from this cycle!

Your turn to take action: Do you turn to food when feeling stressed, overwhelmed or emotional?  What action will you take next time you are feeling this way instead of eating?  Please share in the comments below.