New Year’s Letter

Dear Friend,

Here we are.  It’s the start of a new year, a blank slate.  What will this year bring?  What are you hoping for?  What are your goals?  Are you going to make any resolutions?

I remember this time last year, you made a resolution to lose weight.  You spent time, money, and energy preparing for this goal.  You got a gym membership, you asked for workout clothes for Christmas, and you stocked your fridge with organic fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.  Your pantry housed whole grains (but no too many) and tea (no coffee because the only way you like coffee is with cream and sugar).  You purchased a Clean Eating cookbook with the gift card you got in your stocking.  You were so psyched to make last year your healthiest yet!  As the year went on, you were struggling to meet the expectations you had set for yourself.  You were missing your weight goals and you could not figure out why, so you switched up your diet plan to ditch the carbs.  You knew that gave you quick results the last time you did it, but you did not have the willpower to keep the weight off.  This year would be different.  As the year progressed you were meetings your goals, but were still behind where you wanted to be.  You felt like a failure.  Then the holidays approached again and you decided you were tired of thinking about food all the time and you wanted to enjoy the holidays and start again with the New Year.

How many years has this pattern happened?  The hashtag #NewYearNewYou is so tempting and you want that to be true for you, but you are also tired of not enjoying your life.  What if you made a different resolution this year?  I know it’s scary to go into the new year without a health goal, but what if you decided to learn more about how your body works instead of forcing it to change?  What if there are some things you are already doing that positively effect your health that you might enjoy doing more of?  I hope you are able to put some thought into your resolutions this year and chose to do something that will bring more peace and less stress into your already stressful life this year.  You deserve it.

Sincerely,

A concerned friend

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Food Peace in the Midst of Uncertainty

For the past month or so, my husband and I have been living like modern day nomads.  While waiting to move into our new house (which is only 5 days away!), we have had to live with various people.  Most of these people, I had only met once before or not at all.  For someone who thrives when life is in order, I can tell you this has been quite a challenge.  I always knew I was a person who likes order, but I never realized the extent of how much I relied on it until it was gone.  Fortunately, we have been blessed to meet some really great people who define hospitality.  I can’t even begin to express the gratitude I have for these people and how much I have learned from them during this experience.  I now have a whole new understanding of what it means to be hospitable and flexible.

With all that being said, I can tell you that if this experience happened a few years ago, I’m sure it would have gone very differently.  Before I became a mindful eater, I had to know what I was going to eat and when I was going to exercise in advance so I could plan my day around it.  If I did not have time to exercise or ended up only having time to get some fast food for dinner, I would become very frustrated and anxious.

While living with our various hosts, I had to be at the mercy of their schedules.  I had my normal work schedule, but I was not in charge of when and what would be for dinner and whether or not I would have the ability to work in exercise.  While practicing mindful eating, I was able to spend my time being grateful for the food and the hospitality of the people we were living with, instead of worrying about the fact that I was eating pizza again or that I wouldn’t be able to do yoga because I did not have space to do it.  Now don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of breakdowns, but I am thankful that food did not have to be an added stressor during this time of “chaos.”

The practice of mindful eating is constant and changing.  There will be times that you feel like you have mastered it and there will be times that you will think you have forgotten everything.  It is important to look back on the principles of mindful eating when you find yourself feeling “out of practice.”  The principles are relevant for any situation and the peace they can bring is invaluable.

Anxiety

International No Diet Day

To celebrate International No Diet Day, I’m sharing one of my previous posts. Enjoy!

Happy International No Diet Day!

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Today I want to properly celebrate this day by writing about fad diets, specifically how to spot one so you won’t be easily lured into it’s false promises.

I’m sure most of you have been on a fad diet or 2…or 5…or 15.  I know I have.

Let me tell you a story about one of my experiences on a fad diet.

While I was in college, a couple of friends and I decided to do the cabbage soup diet.  I don’t remember the exact rules of it, but I know you could have all the cabbage soup you wanted and every day we were allowed to add a new food to our diet in addition to the cabbage soup, such as fruit and meat.  At the time, I was still living in the dorms and my friends were renting a house together.  So to begin the week, we went to the grocery store to purchase all the ingredients for the cabbage soup and returned to their house to cook a HUGE pot of it.  I put some soup in containers and took them to my dorm.  I placed them in my tiny refrigerator and was set for the week.  The first few days weren’t bad, but I started getting lazy and didn’t  take my container to the microwave down the hall every time.  So after a while, cold cabbage soup was just not gettin’ it, but I was determined.  That weekend I went home and went shopping with my mom.  Everything was going pretty well, except for my unpleasant mood.  (If you’ve heard of the term hangry, that’s exactly what I was.)  After shopping, my mom asked if I wanted to get some lunch at Panera.  My eyes immediately teared up.  Panera is one of my favorite places to eat but it wasn’t on my diet.  The more I thought about it the more upset I got until I finally called my friends to ask if they thought it would be ok if I stopped the diet.  They laughed and said they already had because they couldn’t take it any longer.  I was free!!  We then went to Panera and I’m certain is was the best thing I have ever eaten.

I have listed some of the criteria for a fad diet below.  If you are following a diet that exhibits any of these qualities, please stop!  Save yourself the torture and get back to eating the things you love.  In a mindful way of course.  ; )

It might be a fad diet if you are…

  • Instructed to eat less than 1200 calories a day
  • Guaranteed to lose more than 1-2 pounds a week
  • Not encouraged to exercise
  • Not allowed to eat certain foods, such as carbohydrates, sugar, fat, etc.
  • Skipping meals
  • Taking certain pills, powders, shakes, etc. or using them as a meal replacement
  • Not making a lifestyle change, but only doing it for a certain amount of time

Do any of you have a fad diet story you’d like to share?

 

Quit the Comparison Game

As the weather starts to warm up, many of you may feel like you need to get “bikini body ready.”  Your Facebook newsfeed is probably exploding with links to “Bikini Body Diets” and your Pinterest page is probably overflowing with pictures of beautiful women sporting the newest bathing suit trends.  I know mine is.

But what does “bikini body ready” even mean?  How do you determine if you are “worthy” of wearing a bikini, or any type of bathing suit for that matter?  From personal experience and being around other women, I can see that it all comes down to comparison.

“If I look as good as her in this bathing suit, then I can probably wear it.”

“Everyone will be wearing a bikini except me.  I have to wear a boring one-piece.”

What do we typically wear bathing suits for?  Swimming

Do you see how these statements take the focus off of the main purpose?  The focus is no longer on spending time outside in the warm weather, swimming with friends and family.  The focus is now on how you rank among the people you are around.

It is easy to get lured into the comparison game.  On a rare occasion, you may perceive yourself to be “better” than the other person, which makes you feel good and leads you to want to do it again.  However, on most occasions, you end up finding flaws and that completely drains the fun out of the situation.

If you truly want to enjoy your summer, try to focus on the moment.  Wear your bathing suit and enjoy the cool, refreshing water on your skin.  Try to drown out the mental chatter that tells you you don’t measure up.  You deserve to enjoy your life, no matter how you look doing it.

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Mindful Eating as a Family

Mindful eating may seem difficult to do when you have a family.  In your past dieting days, you may remember times when you had to eat a completely different dinner than the rest of your family and felt singled out.  Or a time when you decided everyone was going to start “eating healthier” and you prepared your diet meals for the whole family, only to have them complain about the meal and ask for something else.  Now that you have decided to give mindful eating a try, you may feel like it will be like all the other times you tried a diet and mealtime became a time of frustration instead of enjoying it with the people you love the most.

The great thing about mindful eating is that it has nothing to do with what foods you eat.  It addresses why and how we eat.  This gives you the freedom to share a meal with your family that tastes good and everyone can enjoy.  You can apply the Principles of Mindful Eating to any meal you eat.  The added bonus is that you will have the opportunity to be a role model for other family members.  They will see from you that all foods can be a part of a healthy lifestyle.

So what are some easy tips to help you incorporate mindful eating into family meals?

Have your family help you prepare the meal.

They can help with the whole meal or just one part, such as a side dish or dessert.  This will help bring awareness to the process of creating their meal.

Say grace.
Prayer or not, just taking a moment to be thankful for the meal in front of you sets the stage for a more peaceful mealtime with family.

Minimize distractions.
Eating with the TV on or with your cellphone at the table distracts you from the act of eating and can lead to mindless eating.  This may not be possible for every meal with family, but even one uninterrupted meal a day can make a difference.

Be adventurous and creative.
It is easy to get into a rut when it comes to planning meals.  Switching up cuisines or adding something simple, like a new spice or vegetable, to a familiar meal can reawaken your palate and take the boredom out of mealtime.

I hope these tips will help make mindful eating as a family easy and enjoyable!

The Unknown

BeOk

I’m a planner.  I feel comfort in knowing what is going to happen next.  When things don’t fall into place the way I expect them to, I get anxious.  These past few weeks have definitely served as a reminder that I cannot control and plan out everything in life.  Being faced with an unknown is not comfortable, but it puts you in the perfect position to learn and grow.

When you start your journey to make peace with food, it will be uncomfortable at first.  The process of becoming a mindful eater will cause you to question most of what you know about healthy eating and lead you to challenge those thoughts.  Going against what you have known and practiced for a long time is scary, especially when you don’t yet know what the outcome will be.  No matter what the outcome of the process is, you will definitely grow and learn more about yourself.  That, in and of itself, is worth it.

Slow Cooker to the Rescue!

So this time change has had me feeling a little behind and tired all week.  When you add that to an already busy week at work, my motivation for cooking dinner is almost non-existent.  I would much rather pick up something to eat on the way home, than go straight to the kitchen and continue working.  There are people out there that probably find cooking a meal from scratch relaxing.  I am not one of those people.  I enjoy cooking most of the time, but for some reason, cooking any meal that requires more than 15-30 min active cooking time makes me feel exhausted before I even begin.  That is why most of the meals I cook are pretty simple and why I LOVE my slow cooker!

When I know I have a busy day coming up, I try to plan on making a meal in my slow cooker.  If I make sure to add an extra 10 min or so to my morning routine, I am able to throw some ingredients in my slow cooker and let it cook for me all day.  As an added bonus, mine has a timer I can set so it will switch to warming once it has finished cooking.  It is so relaxing to come home to the smell of an almost complete dinner and know I only have to do a few simple things to get the meal ready to eat.

One of my very favorite meals to make in the slow cooker is chili.  The longer it cooks, the better it tastes, so it is ideal for a slow cooker.

Here is my favorite recipe from the cookbook Simply in Season.

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef, venison, or turkey (brown in a large frypan)

1 onion (chop and saute 3-5 min)

1c green bell pepper (chop and saute 3-5 min)

1c celery (chop and saute 3-5 min)

4c cooked kidney beans or pinto beans

4c tomatoes (chopped) or tomato juice

1-2 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp sugar, honey, or molassses

1 tsp salt or seasoned salt

1c corn

1c mushrooms

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 hot chili pepper

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker (except the mushrooms) and cook on high for 15 min and then on low for 8-10 hours.  Add the mushrooms, if desired, during the last hour.  Serve as a soup or over rice or pasta.

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My favorite way to eat this chili is with cornbread.  (I usually pick up some already prepared cornbread from Whole Foods because it is amazing!)  And most of the time, I serve the leftover chili on baked potatoes the next day!

Do any of you use a slow cooker?  What is your favorite recipe?

What is Mindful Eating?

Since I have mentioned mindful (intuitive) eating several times in my posts, I thought it would be helpful to explain what it is.

According to The Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating is:

  • Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.
  •  Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.
  • Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.
  • Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

In our society, we are great at multitasking and dieting.  Both of these habits lead to mindless eating.  When you are doing multiple things at once, it is impossible to be fully present during any activity.  It is common to see people eating while driving, watching TV, etc.  When you eat mindlessly, you are unable to be in tune with your senses and don’t notice the flavor or texture of the food.  You are also less likely to be able to notice when you are full, which leads to overeating.  When you diet, you follow certain rules about what you should eat, when you should eat, how you should eat, etc.  This causes you to be completely out of sync with your body’s needs.  You are unable to correctly recognize hunger or fullness and you also can’t enjoy food anymore.

While we have been dieting and rushing through our lives, we have become obsessed with eating the “right” things and have neglected to look at our eating behaviors.  I think our eating behaviors are just as important, if not more important, than what we eat.  When we focus on eating the “right” foods, we are just putting a band-aid over unhealthy eating habits.  It does not matter whether you eat a bag of chips or a bag of carrots after you have had a fight with your best friend.  What matters is why you eat large amounts of food to help soothe yourself.  Learning to be mindful while you eat will help you recognize these unhealthy eating behaviors.  Once these behaviors are addressed, your relationship with food will begin to heal.

My hope is to help people make peace with food through the principles of mindful eating.  If you have questions or want to know more, please contact me.  I am here to help you!

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

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This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  The theme this year is “I Had No Idea.”  The focus is on early detection and intervention when disordered eating is suspected.  This is so important because early intervention significantly increases the chances for recovery.

So in the spirit of the week, I thought I would share my own “I Had No Idea.”

I had no idea that deciding to eat healthier and lose weight would lead to disordered eating.  Eating healthier foods, exercising, and losing weight are all good things right?  It is possible to take these seemingly good steps toward health too far.  Here are some examples:

  • Your exercise routine leaves you feeling exhausted and depleted all week.
  • You skip out on social events and celebrations because only “unhealthy” foods are available.
  • You lose an extra hour of sleep because you have to make sure you get your workout in, even though you have had a busy day.
  • You are irritable all day because you “gave in” and had a piece of cake for your coworker’s retirement party.
  • You spend hours at the gym because you need to be able to lift as much weight as the other guys.

In an effort to feed yourself healthier foods, you can end up forgetting to feed your soul.  This is where eating disorders emerge.  A healthy lifestyle includes so much more than what you eat and how much you exercise.  Friendships, family, spirituality, acknowledging your limits, laughter, and rest are all just as important.  Incorporating all these things might not get you to the size or shape you want to be, but you will be happier and healthier in the long run.

Don’t forget to feed your soul.

Patience

If I have learned anything this week, it is how TERRIBLE I am at waiting.  My husband and I are in the process of buying our first house and it definitely is not as easy as it looks on HGTV.  We put an offer on a house we adored and had to wait several days to find out if our offer was accepted or rejected.  It. Was. Excruciating.  In the end, it didn’t work out for us, but that just means there’s a better house out there!

After the wait was over, I thought back to when I started my journey to become an intuitive eater.  It was just as difficult and lasted A LOT longer than a week.  In the beginning, I thought it would take maybe a month, and then my relationship with food would be healed.  That was definitely not the case.  The process was long and hard, with several ups and downs.  I actually cannot recall the exact moment I felt it click, but I know it was several months, maybe even over a year, into the process.  Even though I did not get instant gratification when I started, I know that I have made a lasting change in my life.  It wasn’t easy by any means, but it was so worth it.

If you are interested in or starting your journey with intuitive eating, know that it will take time.  It is nothing like all the other diets you have tried in the past where you started seeing results in a week or so.  If instant results were the answer, we wouldn’t be constantly starting another diet.  Any worthwhile change takes time.  It took you a long time to build the relationship you have with food now, so it makes since that it will also take a long time to heal that relationship.  This may be one of the toughest journeys you embark on, but I assure you, you will thank yourself for the rest of your life.

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If you want to know more about intuitive eating, please email me at lbm318@gmail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you!