When the Words Return…

mirrorimage.I was hungry before teaching cycle.  Apparently, my snack didn’t have enough time to digest and class left me feeling nauseous and uncomfortable.  It was the pain in my throat that woke me in the the night but it was the thought in my head that stabbed me more… “Good, now maybe you will not be able to eat and you will lose weight.”

REALLY?  Those words haunted me like the monster under my bed did when I was a child.   How could I possibly still be having such a thought?  I have spent the last several years working as a coach and a mentor, sharing the benefits of mindful eating practices, discussing the how the pursuit body perfection kills our self-esteem and ruins our relationship with food and eating.  How could I still be thinking this way?

Six years ago, when I read Intuitive Eating for the first time, I instinctively knew I found what I had been looking for.  For the majority of my life I have been a prisoner of my own obsessive and destructive thoughts and behavior.  I was the lifetime dieter; toggling somewhere between binging/purging, restrictive eating, and excessive, punitive exercise.

Intuitive Eating taught me that the perfection I was striving for was a representation of  a largely unattainable fitness/beauty ideal created by society and the media.  I realized there is more to me as a person than just what I look like and I began to appreciate who I am and what I have to offer.  I paid attention to how ‘feeling fat’ changed my mood and became aware of how preoccupation with my appearance was interfering with my ability to live my life.  I learned how many advertising images are digitally altered making them both more appealing and less attainable.  I know and believe all this, yet I still find it difficult to look at my body in a mirror.

I am not aware of any hidden fascination with being a vampire as my reason for not having a mirror image.  Truth is, I am afraid.  For so many years, I listened to the words in my head… “You’re not good enough, strong enough or determined enough.  You’ll never succeed.  You lose weight and then gain it back, what is wrong with you?”  I am afraid of what I will ‘hear’ if I look.

If I fully believe in my heart and soul I am more than just an object to be looked at, compared to and judged, why would I think what I did?  How could I possibly want to deny my body nourishment in order to wear a smaller pants size?  Thankfully, I did not act upon this thought.  In fact, I’m grateful it happened.   It has made me aware that I am still struggling with my self-image.   This surprises me.  I have felt more free and in control since I discovered Intuitive Eating than any other time in my life.  I have let go of dieting and the food rules associated with them.  I eat when I am hungry and I eat what I want.  I worry less about food and as a result, I am able to enjoy living.  So what is keeping me stuck?

I know for certain changing my thinking is a process.  Intuitive Eating teaches us that we need to be patient.   There is no ‘wrong way’, only learning and discovery.  I have to remember to treat myself with patience, understanding and kindness.  I listened to those hurtful words for a very long time.  Change does not happen overnight.

In order to move on, I have to face my fears and look in the mirror.  I need to practice what I teach and focus on the things I like more than the things I don’t.  I need to acknowledge my accomplishments instead of what I have yet to do.  I remember what it was like living in that world when the only thing that mattered to me was the number on the scale.  Ironically, it wasn’t pretty.  Perfection does not exist and living my life in pursuit of it is a waste of valuable time.  Life is to short for that.

I now realize that the title of this blog is a misnomer.  I’m not sure that the words in my head ever truly went away; I instead chose not to address them.  Perhaps, up till now, I wasn’t ready to.  First, I needed to rebuild my relationship with food, for without that, I would not have the solid belief that I am doing what’s right for me.  This experience opened the door to where my work ahead is; finding true confidence in myself as a woman, inside and out.  I have always held the belief there will forever be something I can ‘fix’, but then again, maybe the true lesson is paying attention to who’s words are telling me that it’s ‘broken’ in the first place.  😉

To my readers:  I wrote this post today for a very important reason.  One of my main sources of support along my journey has been feeling that I am not alone.  Knowing there are others that have the same thoughts and fears that I do makes me feel understood and gives me comfort.  So here I am, sharing my fears.  Maybe you can relate and I don’t want you to feel alone.

One-A-Day Promise Campaign

Note:  This article is intended to be an online journal.  To make it easier for the readers who are following it, I will place the most recent entries near the top.  To start from the beginning and view the original article please click here.

Day 4:  I need a time-out!!

Have you ever found yourself munching on a handful of nuts, just because you walked by the bowl?  Ever visit the vending machine or the pantry instead of tackling an unwanted project?  Sometimes eating is ‘reactive’.  You may be responding to uncomfortable feelings and not even be aware of it.  Or sometimes, as with the nuts, it’s a mindless habit.  As a result, we may wind up eating  more than we need or even really want.

My goal today is to expand upon being present and mindful by practicing patience.  So here is an exercise for you (and me).  When I want to eat I am going to ask myself 2 questions.  “Am I biologically hungry?”  If so then I will keep my body fed and eat.  If not, I will take a time-out.  I will set a timer, between 5-15 minutes.  I will use this time to try to think about what I may actually be feeling.  If you are able, this is a great opportunity for some meditation or self-reflection.  After the time elapses, if I still want to eat what I had my sights set on, I will.

What’s in it for me?

I tend to be an impulsive eater.  I want stop and think about what I am doing before putting food in my mouth.  If I am not physically hungry, then what is really going on?  What do I really need at this moment?  The time-out gives me an opportunity to answer these questions.   Eating for emotional reasons will NOT solve my problems.   Thinking about what is bothering me is the first step to figure out how to handle it.  If it’s simply mindless eating, the time-out may distract me enough to forget all about my craving!  Ah, patience… it’s a good thing.

Day 3:  So what happens when things don’t go the way you think they ‘should’?

My focus last week was to pay more attention to my food.  For me, this also translates into eating generally because I am ‘stomach hungry’ and not to satisfy emotional needs.  Great!  But there were times this weekend that I found myself on ‘autopilot eating’ somewhere in that state of consciousness where I knew I was putting food in my mouth but I wasn’t fully connected to the experience.  I ate as a form of procrastination, because I was tired, bored, and as a sense of entitlement.  What a disaster!!!

Actually, thankfully, I tend to think in the contrary.  While eating for reasons other than true stomach hunger did not coincide with my goal, I was able to become aware of my actions.  I noticed, remembered and took full responsibility for these choices.  While it’s true, I may have been better off napping than nibbling, or taking a walk to ease my sense of boredom, there are worse ways I could be combating these issues.  Sounds like an excuse to you?  Well to me these are all opportunities to learn.  Life is full of these but first we have be able to notice them.  My journey to becoming an intuitive eater is not one where I seek perfection, it is one where I look to find my progress.

What’s in it for me? 

We all have choices.  My goal was to be mindful.  In one sense I ‘failed’ because I made choices that conflicted with my goals.  I could have chosen to beat myself up over my decision to eat.  If I had done that I would have been so consumed with my ‘failure’ I would have never been able to realize what was really going on.  Because I was trying to be mindful, I was able to stop and ask myself the question “what is it that you really need right now?”.  I doing so I could learn from my behavior.  In years past I never would have tried to notice what I was feeling.   If I can’t tune into the fact that I’m bored or procrastinating, how can I address the real issues?  Food is not the answer.

I have learned that self-acceptance is an important part to personal growth.  If we can’t accept our ‘mistakes’ and learn from them our only choice is perfection.  And that, for me, does not exist.

Day 2:  Can you name at least 5?… continuation of staying present while eating.

Life is not a perfect bubble you say?  Sometimes it’s not possible to totally focus on just eating!!  Ok, ok… I hear you.  And you are right.  My rule of thumb is this:  whenever I can, I focus my attention solely on eating.   Why should you?  (…inquisitive minds need to know)  Do you remember the “What’s in it for me?” question from yesterday?   Here’s what you’ll get:  more enjoyment from your food (provided that you chose something you really wanted in the first place), you’ll remember actually eating it, AND you’ll have a better chance to notice feeling full.

But what happens when it seems impossible to relax and focus on my meal?

This was my focus for day 2.  ‘can you name at least 5’.  Sometimes when I feel it’s impossible to totally focus on eating I challenge myself to notice at least 5 things.  I think about the color, texture, temperature, seasoning etc.  My lunchtime salad had lots of crunch (1).  The colors were bright (2) and consisted of red, green, orange and white.  The dressing had a little bit of spice (3) due to the pepper and was creamy(4).  My steak and broccoli that accompanied my salad was warm (5) and fulfilling.  The crunchy broccoli (6) contrasted with the soft rice noodles (7).

What’s in it for me?  Going through this mental exercise enables me to check in with myself, even if only for a moment. Pulling my attention back to my meal gives me a fighting chance to stay present and enables me to remember why it’s important to do so.  There’s nothing worse than looking down at an empty plate and having no recollection of eating any of it.  Talk about not being satisfied!!

I hope you find this exercise helpful … feel free to share your thoughts 🙂


Original Article:

Welcome 2013!  With thImagee dawning of a new year, attention usually gets focused on ‘new beginnings’ and I am no different.  This morning I thought about how I could reinforce my Intuitive Eating principles and lose some of the bad habits that have re-emerged over the last few weeks.

I usually approach any task by breaking it down into smaller, more specific chunks.  That’s when the one-a-day promise occurred to me.  I thought about making a daily promise to myself to put an extra effort towards ‘something‘.  Not very specific you say… and you are right.  But goals change.  As long as I do ‘something’ that is important to me, I will be keeping my promise.

Currently, I want to focus on Intuitive Eating.  A few days ago, on my Intuitive Eating Support Facebook page, I posted a poll asking my readers what they thought their biggest challenges with the process have been.  (If you would like to add your two cents to this poll, click here)  I have also taught several workshops on Intuitive Eating and have found that staying present while eating is a pretty consistent challenge for many of us.  That’s why I decided to start my journey here.

Having a sense of accountability is also paramount for me to stay ‘on track’.  This is the purpose of this post.  When my journey relates specifically to Intuitive Eating I will publish it.  Hopefully my experiences will be a source of inspiration and support for you and keep me focused on my promise to myself.

Day 1:  Staying present while eating

If you have ever tried this, you are well aware it is not as easy as it sounds.  Eating my breakfast this morning, I found my mind wandering towards writing this post!!  In order to truly enjoy AND remember eating my food, I had to clear my thoughts and focus my attention entirely on my meal.  When I did this, I became aware of something interesting.  After I had eaten about 3/4 of my food, I felt physically warmer.  While this may seem strange to you, I have noticed this before.  It’s almost as if my internal thermostat turned on.  Usually, this is a sign that I am getting full.  I ate 2-3 more spoonfuls and decided I had had enough.

Day 1,  What’s in it for me?

“What’s in it for me?”  Do you ever ask yourself this question when you have something you need to do?  I try to ask it often.  My Grandmother told me once, “Where there is a will, there is a way”.  If I am aware of what I will get out of something, I am more inclined to do it.  So part of my journal is going to be answering this question.

What’s in it for me?  Staying present enabled me to enjoy my food.  It also helped me to notice when I was getting full.  (In my personal experience as well as a workshop facilitator, I have found that feeling fullness can be another challenging task)

Day one done.  Simple enough.   What about you?  Would you like to join my campaign and start your own journal?  If not, feel free to follow me and offer your comments and thoughts.

To be continued…
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Four years later and the cookie wins… sort of.

Christmas-Angel-Cookies

It’s Christmas Eve and I am looking out of my kitchen widow eating a cookie.  Most of the holiday chores are done, the evening meal is planned, the gifts are wrapped but I am unsettled.  The holidays are anxious times for me but I remain steady as I search for peace in my heart.

My attention is on  my cookie.  What is it about this sweet mixture of chocolate, flour and sugar that draws me to it?  For much of my life I have engaged in overindulgent eating as an attempt to manage uneasy emotions.  Food has been both a source of comfort as well as an vehicle for despair.  I now realize turning to food in order to ease emotional pain is but a temporary solution.  The joy I receive from eating to sooth is fleeting.  The problems do not go away and the pain and guilt I feel in the aftermath is long lasting.

My thoughts and attention remain on the cookie.  Each bite is sweet and chewy.  I eat it slowly and enjoy it.  I am fully aware that I am on my second cookie.  I could have easily been satisfied with just one, but today I am having a second one.  I am not hungry and know I am anxious.  I worry that I am eating out of pure emotion … and part of of me is.  But today it’s o.k. because there is a difference.  A little over 4 years ago I discovered Intuitive Eating.  It is here I learned of the depth of my emotional eating.  Before becoming an Intuitive Eater I would be putting food in my mouth in a comatose state.  This was my drug. It would help me cope, but it the long run caused me nothing but guilt and anguish.

Today, however, I am fully aware of my actions.  I realize that I am making a choice.  Yes, part of me knows that I am eating beyond what I ‘need’.  I had my sweet, and did not feel guilty.  I truly enjoyed it. I also know that my one cookie today would have been a dozen or more in years past.  I will not lie to you, part of me wishes I stopped at just one.  But there is another part, a deeper part that knows changes take time.  I am far better off than I was 5 years ago.  Today I made an important choice.  Instead of reaching for a third and fourth, I chose to refocus my attention and share my thoughts here.   Each and every baby step I take will form giant steps.  This I know in my heart to be true.

My wish for you, today and everyday, is to continue to take those baby steps.   Each one builds everlasting strength.  May you find the love and comfort you seek, be able to spend time with those you love, and trust and believe enough in your abilities to make your best choices.  My wish for you and me is to find peace in our hearts.

May you all have a happy, healthy, holiday season.

Chasing Thinness — Your Ideal or Mine?

This morning I watched a spider weave her web.  Like an aerialist, she crossed back and forth from the chair to the table edge performing her task.  The intricacy of her work was only visible to me when the sun caught it’s reflection.  I thought about how beautiful spider webs can be, if you take the time to notice them.  I also considered if it’s that beauty that ultimately captures its prey  …

I work in the fitness industry where accomplishments are defined by numbers “How much weight have you dropped?”  “What’s your body fat %?”  “How many inches have you lost?”   Coveted images of the ripped, hard rock abs of the long and lean set the standards; this is what you could look like, IF you work hard enough.  Some consider  this inspiration… I have to question, is it?  For many these statements and visions foster a sense of friendly competition, for me, they can be a constant reminder of what I am not.

I have lived the life of the extreme exerciser and dieter.  I have lost weight and gained it back.  I have exercised to the point of exhaustion and chronic injury but could not stop.  I have struggled with my eating from the extremes of not eating to binge eating, all in an attempt to control my weight and ‘fit the image’.  I am now a practicing Intuitive Eater.  I have found a peace and balance that enables me to eat and exercise reasonably.  I am happy and in a place I never thought possible, but fully aware that at times, the lure of the web still taunts me.

When my main reason to exercise was attaining my ‘magic numbers’ I firmly believed that when I weighed 120 lbs. or wore a size 4 I could feel accomplished;  then I could be proud of who I was.  It was during this time I felt most out of control.  I was willing to do ANYTHING in order to look the way I thought I needed to look.  I was defining my self-worth from the outside in.  If I had stopped to pay attention, I would have noticed my actions weren’t making me feel good.  Physically, I was hurt and exhausted.  Emotionally I beat myself up.  If I strayed from my regimen I chastised myself for having no willpower.  I wasn’t strong enough.  I wasn’t good enough.

Finally, after years of feeling like a failure, I stopped and asked myself “Why?”.  What was I accomplishing other than making myself miserable?  That’s when I realized the truth:  the standards that I fought so hard for were not my own.  I was trying to be what I thought I needed to be… Instead, I needed to be honest with myself and question, what did I really want?  My answer was simply health and to remain physically active.  In order to do that I would have to treat my body differently.  Over exercising and starving myself were not helping me achieve my goals, they were pulling me further away.

For me, thoughts of thinness are a compulsive trap.  If I allow myself to get too caught up in the ideals of ‘body perfection’ I can fall prey to my former life;  translation:  you are not good enough.  Becoming an Intuitive Eater taught me to respect and appreciate my ‘here and now’ body for what it CAN do.  I am not a size 4 or weigh 120lbs. but today I make choices based on what’s important to me.  Instead of deriving my motivation negatively, always telling myself what I am not, I choose to appreciate who I am, and work patiently towards who I aspire to be.

Unless you live under a rock,  it is hard to get away from what we perceive to be the  ‘thin and beautiful’.  I would be lying to you if I said I don’t occasionally find myself thinking about what could be.  This is when I feel most vulnerable… stuck in my spider web.  When pervasive thoughts of thinness pop back into my head I know I need to stay grounded.   Here are some thoughts that help keep me connected to my ‘here and now’.

  • Be sure that what you seek is something that’s important to you.  Honesty required:  What is my motivation to lose weight?  My current weight is healthy for me… what is making me think I need to lose weight?
  • What will accomplishing this goal give you?  Clothes shopping may be more fun.  Seriously, do I really think others will perceive me as more accomplished if I am thinner?  If so, do I really want these people in my life?
  • Are the actions necessary to attain this goal congruent with your values and beliefs?  I believe strongly in health for body and soul… Are starving myself or denying myself foods I enjoy only to be thinner healthy actions?
  • How can this hurt you?  For me, focusing on weight loss leads to absolutes; ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods or days.  A ‘bad’ day leads to feelings of  shame, guilt, no willpower, and failure.  Is this how I want to live my life?
  • Would you encourage your son/daughter to follow your behavior?  I want to encourage my kids to look beyond appearances only.   Am I setting a good example by emphasizing the importance of being thin?  
  • Can your goals be met in other ways?  Back to question 1, what is my motivation?  Is it feeling better about myself?  Isn’t a commitment to treat my body with respect something I should be proud of and feel good about?  
  • Is pursuit of your goal denying you enjoyment in other areas of your life?   Am I putting my life on hold?  Wrote a whole blog about this one!!  You can read about it in You Matter.

As a personal trainer, the majority of my clients come to me because they want to lose weight.  If I ask them what weight loss is going to give them, they almost always tell me losing weight makes them feel better about themselves.  What I want most for my clients is to help them understand that making a commitment to treat their body well IS an accomplishment to be proud of.  Acknowledge who you are right now; appreciate what you can do; and look forward to realizing what you can become.  Your life is here and now, not 15 or 20 pounds from now, right now.

I would like to offer this Abraham-Hicks quote:

You can be fully satisfied with where you are, understanding that you’re eternally evolving. When you get into that place of feeling appreciation of where you are and of who you are, and appreciation of what you are, and you accept that you are a never-ending, always unfolding Being, then you can stand in that delicate balance of being optimistic about what is to come, without being unhappy about where you stand. Find a way of eagerly anticipating future changes, while at the same time you are in love and satisfied with who, what, where and how you be.  

If your are having a tough time achieving your goals, take the time to re-evaluate what you seek.  Chasing thinness did not work for me because it did not come from my heart.  In order to achieve the image I believed to have been set for me, I had to disrespect my body.  Now I understand the importance of  staying true to who I am and to pursue what has meaning and a purpose for me.  Learn to question where your motivations come from.  If it’s always a place of negativity (I’m so fat, I need to lose weight), stop and listen to the words you say to yourself.  Is this how you would choose to motivate your children?   Do your actions feel right to you?  Don’t let others set the standards, believe in yourself enough to define your own.

The Power of Snacking

Snack.  One simple word… when you read it, what do you think of?  Here’s a thought, snacking can be your passport to increased energy and better nutrition.

Food is fuel.  It’s what gives you energy.  We are at our best when we have a consistent source of high quality fuel throughout the day.  Ever use a re-chargeable battery?  When the battery juice gets low, whatever it’s powering runs a little slower, if at all.  Think of your body the same way.   Consistent fueling keeps you energized.

That doesn’t mean loading up on Twinkies or chocolate frosted cupcakes (no offense Hostess™)  Here’s the deal, you are what you eat.  Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you have heard that we need to eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains and fiber.  These are your quality foods… if you put the good stuff in, you get good stuff out.  Think of snacking as your way to eat more of the good stuff.

But I’m trying to lose weight…  I need to eat less, not more!  One of the main reasons people overeat is because they let themselves get too hungry.  Your biological need for food is strong.  Becoming overly hungry makes it difficult to stop eating when you finally do eat.  As a general rule, try not to go more than 4-5 hours without eating.  Keeping your body fed consistently curtails overindulging.

But I don’t know what to eat.  Good nutrition is a balancing act.  Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are macronutrients that provide specialized health benefits.  Eating a variety of these foods ups the ante on your overall nutrition score.  Picture your snack as a mini meal with a purpose.  Think of ‘real’ food instead of traditional ‘snacks’ like chips and pretzels.  (Not that these are bad, but there’s a time and a place for everything)  Snacks are an opportunity to give your body more ‘good stuff’; fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

One easy way to a nutritious snack; start with a fruit or vegetable and combine it with a lean protein, whole grain or healthy fat.   For example, an apple and a small handful of raw nuts;  cucumber slices and feta cheese; baby carrots and hummus.  Pairing up your foods in this way not only gives you a variety of  nutrients but because proteins and fats take longer to digest, you to feel full longer.

Stick to whole foods by staying close to nature.  By avoiding processed foods you will reduces excess sugars, salts, chemicals and preservatives in your body.  Learn to shop the perimeter of your supermarket.  You may also want to reconsider your choices of ‘diet’ or ‘low-calorie’ products.  In order to make these products taste better, food manufacturers add sugars and salt.  For example, compare the labels of low-fat peanut butter and a natural one (ingredients: peanuts).  The low-fat version has added sugar (high-fructose corn syrup).  The healthy peanut oils have been replaced with hydrogenated oils and other additives to prevent separation.  My advice (not that you asked for it, but since you are still reading this, you may be curious) … go natural!!   Keep it simple, read your labels, aim for 5 ingredients or less and remember you shouldn’t need a dictionary to pronounce the ingredients in the list!

OK enough with the lecture, let’s get down to some examples:

  • Hummus with Pita and Peas:  3 tablespoons hummus; 1/2 whole-grain pita, cut into pieces; and 1/2 cup pea pods or shelled edamame.
  • Oatmeal and Berries:  1/2 cup of oatmeal topped with a handful of berries (make it with skim milk for added protein).
  • Spiced Maple Yogurt:  6 ounces plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon
  • Tomato Juice and Cheese:  8-ounce V8 juice with 1 piece of string cheese
  • Cheese and Crunch:  A Laughing Cow® cheese wedge spread on Wasa™ crackers or celery sticks.  For a Mexican flavor, top with salsa.  Add black beans for even more fiber and protein.
  • Waffle and Fruit:  Toast a whole grain waffle and top with low-fat yogurt and sliced fruit.
  • Inside-Out-Sandwich: top a slice of turkey or ham with mustard or salsa, cheese of your choice and wrap it around a sesame bread stick.
  • Mini Pizza:  top a whole grain English muffin with pizza sauce and low-fat mozzarella cheese…bake and enjoy!
  • Fruit and a nuts:  Apple slices and some peanut or almond butter or a handful of nuts OR try a 4-ounce mandarin-orange cup topped with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • Fruit Kebabs:  Alternate a fruit of your choice (grapes work well), with cubed cheese and roasted turkey or chicken on a kebab stick.  By the way… don’t ever run with a stick in your mouth!   🙂
  • Fruit Burrito:  Top a small whole grain wrap with either a cheese spread or your favorite nut butter and sliced fruit.  (Bananas and strawberries are our favorites)
  • Sweet Potato Bake:  Sprinkle 1/2 of a baked sweet potato with some grated cheese.  Add some steamed broccoli or spinach for even more vitamins.  Now that’s a snack with a punch.
Bottom line:  Snacks are opportunities to add nutrients, minerals and protective anti-oxidants to your diet, increasing your overall health.  Nutritious snacking curbs your appetite and helps you avoid overeating.  Consistent fueling keeps you energized and ready to take on your day.  Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

If you have a favorite snack that you would like to share I would love to hear from you!

For more ideas, please visit the following websites and resources:

www.eatright.org

www.webmd.com

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Always looking for new inspiration and motivatation, I subscribe to several different sources.  This morning I read an article that caught my attention.  In “12 Lies To Stop Telling Yourself”*  I found one point of particular interest to me:

I am stuck with people who hurt me. – Life is too short.  Look out for yourself.  If someone continuously mistreats you, have enough respect for yourself to leave them.  It may hurt for a while, but it’ll be OK.  You’ll be OK.  Oftentimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength.  We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth, but because we finally realize our own worth.

Reading and absorbing those words made me think of dieting.  In her book, Life Without Ed, best selling author Jenni Schaefer associates a persona to her eating disorder.  She called him ED.  In doing so, she was able to separate and free herself from this destructive relationship.  Breaking free from the dieting world can be like that too.

What is a dieter to do?  I am stuck.  I want to lose weight.  I need to lose weight.  I decide to diet.  I am good for awhile, but then I start wanting the foods I can’t have.  I give into my cravings and eat way too much!  I am out of control.  Now I feel guilty.  I broke the rules, again.   What is wrong with me? … I have NO willpower.  I will be better this time.  My diet begins again.

STOP.  Ask yourself, “What exactly is different this time?”  What is going to make your diet work this time?  Being stuck in the world of dieting is like being in a bad relationship.  Re-read the words above… Life is too short.  Look out for yourself.  It is in your best interest to think about your health, emotionally as well as physically.  Consistently putting yourself in a place that causes you stress, feelings of guilt and shame doesn’t feel good.  Thinking that you aren’t good enough as you are is mistreating yourself.

Breaking up is hard to do.  It’s scary at first because this is the world you have always  known.  Sometimes we remain in bad relationships because we know what to expect.  Been there, done that.  But for me, I decided enough was enough.  I owed it to myself to break away.  Why consistently expose myself to a place that was not helping?  If dieting worked, I should have been a model by now!  I have spent the better part of 30 years stuck in that relationship.  It wasn’t working and only left me feeling miserable about myself.

I had a choice.  I decided to walk away.  Intuitive Eating gave me the skills and confidence to divorce myself from my unhealthy relationship with dieting and poor body image.  I now feel empowered because I have choices.  I no longer have to “follow” the diet rules.  I can choose, according to what my body tells me I need.  I have trust and faith in myself to know what is best for me.  Ultimately, I am my own best advocate.  I am the expert of my body.  Learning to trust myself, and break away has given me the peace and freedom I have longed for.

Oftentimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength.  We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth, but because we finally realize our own worth.  I have learned to respect myself.  I broke up and I am happy.  I am worth it… and you know what?  So are you!

* Source:  Marc and Angel Hack Life, Practical Tips for Productive Living, http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/03/12/12-lies-to-stop-telling-yourself/

Special thanks to Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch for giving me my life back.  For more information on Intuitive Eating:  www.intuitiveeating.org

What’s Your Motivation?

“Where there is a will, there is a way.”  Those words were spoken to me a long time ago by a wise lady and have carried me through many of  life’s changes.  Thoughts of giving up on something always made me think of my grandmother and the way she encouraged me to continue on…

Oftentimes when we are looking to implement a change in our lives we wind up saying things like ‘I should’, or ‘I ought to’.  Working as a personal trainer, I hear this a lot.  People know that they should exercise or ought to eat better but often complain that their motivation diminishes and they just don’t do it.

What is missing?  Actions based on what we should do don’t usually keep us going for too long.  We may start out fired up for our new exercise program, but when we aren’t doing it for our own right reason, enthusiasm waivers and old habits reemerge.

The pathway to successful change lies in knowing yourself.  Ask the questions, “What do I want?  What is this going to give me?”  If you believe that exercising regularly will create a stronger, more confident you, set a good example for your kids, or give you more control over your life, you will be realizing your unique inspiration.  Being clear on what you really want is going to help you persevere and and rise above the the challenges you will inevitably encounter.

Take eating healthier for example, “What is important to me?”  Determining your answer to that question is a first step towards change.  Once you identify what you really want you can enhance your vision.  “What does healthy eating look and feel like to me?”  Why this step?  Each of us is unique.  We all live in a world full of ever changing variables and circumstances.  What is right for one person may not be right for another.  You are the only one who knows what feels right and will work for you.  You are your own best expert.  Put your knowledge to work in determining your answers.

Once you have explored what you really want, what it looks and feels like; you have the makings of your goal.  A clearly defined goal or vision is your road-map to success, for without one you don’t know where you are going and without a destination, you won’t know how to get there!

Clarity about what your goals are and why they are important to you is what is going to replace the “I should” with “I want to” and “I will”.  A thorough understanding of your goal will create your unique action steps.  You will know what to do next because it will be the only thing that makes sense to you.  A clear definition of your goal will enable you to determine the approach that’s right for you.

There are many good ideas about ways to eat better, exercise more, or stress less, but unless you are willing to do them, then that’s all they are, good ideas that have worked for other people.  Staying motivated for change involves finding the methods that make sense to you.  You may have a very healthy friend who is a vegetarian.  You may in turn think this is the way to go but does this make sense for you?  If your favorite meal includes a big, thick, juicy steak this dietary approach probably won’t last too long 🙂

What happens when you find yourself losing motivation?  Revisit the question “What do I really want?”.  Take for example the woman who begins an exercise program because she wants to lose weight.  At the beginning, she may be VERY motivated, but then as the days go on, she begins to dread the gym.  She is sore, tired and probably not eating enough in an attempt to diet.  If the weight loss doesn’t happen or stops, usually her desire to exercise stops with it.

By continually asking the question, “What do I want?”  She may be able to find new motivation.  I want to exercise, because I want to lose weight.  I want to lose weight to be healthier and be more self-confident.  I want health and confidence!!  Going to the gym regularly is something I have never been able to do.  I know when I go I feel good about myself; I am doing something good for me that makes me feel strong, healthy and alive.  

What if you lose your motivation and keep losing it?  Maybe you’re trying to do something that you are not truly inspired to do.  I need to lose weight because my husband thinks I look fat.  Doing something to please someone else almost never works.  This is the ‘will’ in ‘Where there is a will, there’s a way’.  Only when you know what you want will you have the fortitude to make it happen.   Reflecting upon what is important to you will help you stay focused and motivated to make things happen.

Finally, keep in mind that you are not perfect, none of us are.  Slip-ups will occur.  View these not as failures but opportunities for you to learn and grow. These experiences are vital steps towards change, and any step, big or small, is key to your success.  Unless you are Superman, you won’t be climbing a flight of stairs by jumping from the floor to the top.  One step at a time will get you where you need to be.  Believe in yourself and know that you have the power to make it happen!

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