Tag Archives: eating

Follow me at my new site . . .

Just wanted to post another invitation to follow me at my new website, lmwellness.com.  I notice that there are still a number of people who are visiting this site (kimthedietitian.com), yet I have not posted in many months.  I fear they must think I am lazy!  Not so.  I have just been posting in a different place.  Join me there!

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Quick Start, Pause, Cool Down

Vacations are great for pausing to reset, but everyday practice is even more important.

Vacations are great for pausing to reset, but everyday practice is even more important.

These are the choices on the treadmill I use regularly:  quick start, pause, and cool down.  I can also enter a pre-programmed workout, but I always just press “quick start.”

Without an iPod this morning, and with no interest in the TV options, I found my pace and settled into my thoughts.  My eyes again glanced at the words:  “quick start, pause, cool down.”  They began to mean more to me than options on a treadmill.

“Quick start.”  I’m good at that, I thought.  Get going, just do it, take action!  I have that mastered!  I am someone who finds it uncomfortable – really! – NOT to be productive.

I started thinking about the potential down side to that.  Possible  drawbacks include anxiety, trouble sleeping, . . . all of the consequences that result from not using another choice on the treadmill:  RESET!

Everyone needs to reset hormones and brain chemistry, which in turn resets mood and restores a healthful balance.  Adequate sleep, healthy eating, enjoyable physical activity, and pleasant interactions with people all help to keep body chemistry “happy.”

It goes beyond that as well.  Balance brings more balance.  Erratic hormones and brain chemistry, left unattended, often lead to more chaotic emotions and a less balanced lifestyle.

Among the many benefits of attention to self-supportive care are better sleep, less anxiety, and all-around better self-care.  I know this sounds a bit repetitive, but my point is that good self-care leads to more good self-care.  Unfortunately lack of attention to self-care makes it all too easy to skip a workout, eat poorly or skip meals, and let unsupportive thoughts run wild.

What we do not see is how body chemistry that we create through our actions can affect how we act moving forward.  This is powerful knowledge!  Work with your body, because mere will-power is no match for body chemistry!

This is where a “pause” or “cool down” can be very helpful.  I’m right there with all of you overachievers and perfectionists!  This can be hard, but it is absolutely necessary for health.  For me, sleep is key.  I know I need to wind down and pause at the end of my workday and resist the temptation to schedule one more appointment, answer one more e-mail, or make that last phone call.   I know that ultimately this will lead to more efficient use of my time once I’m ready to “quick start” again.

I remind myself I can start again, but the most productive thing to do at that moment is to take a break and pause.  Do you notice how I managed to call a pause “productive”?  That is one way to make pausing a little easier for a productivity freak like myself.

Too much? Too little? Ahhh . . . that’s just right!

Goldilocks knew what was "just right."

Goldilocks knew what was “just right.”

Oh, the beauty of balance!  Yes, you can get too much of a good thing.  A new study claims that people who run a lot – not moderately – tend to have similar risks of dying as those who do not run at all.

A little running – say 3 to 4 miles a few times a week – has health benefits.  Run too much and it loses its health benefits.  Of course there are individual differences as with any human studies, but logic always seems to come back to balanced living for better health.  Ultramarathoners: you would definitely not be considered moderate.  Isn’t 26.2 miles enough of a challenge?

Balance is not an easy concept to define with precision, but it is still a good basic guiding principle for healthy living.  Believe it or not, we all “know” where the point of balance is for our unique bodies.  The problem is that not many of us trust that we know.

Let’s face it.  We are addicted to information, and there is plenty of it out there:  the TV, magazines, newspapers, friends and acquaintances, and  the internet.  All of these sources are external input.  What about the internal indicators we might get if we tuned in more often to that channel instead!

With increasing information about what to eat, when to eat, and why to eat – not to mention the many versions of advice and “proof” – our diet-crazy culture has lured us away from the true messages of our wants and needs.

Too much?  Feel sick, stuffed?  It could be a response to thinking you need less than you do, failing at that craziness, and “blowing it.”  Or, it could be the result of not taking true care of emotional needs.  Emotions need balance too.

Too little?  Feeling starved, weak, deprived?  Your true balanced self would tell you it’s crazy not to eat!  External messages that imply (or come right out and tell you) it should be enough are not in your best interests either.  And what about all those ads that show what fun you will have if you eat all those tempting gooey treats?  Just more confusion.

Tune back in to your needs!  It will likely feel uncomfortable at first.  “Who me?” you ask,  “I’m the expert on balance?”  Yes, you are!   Here are a few tips:

1.  Feeling sick to your stomach = too much

2.  Irritable, hungry, worried about eating too much = too little

3.  Enjoyment of a balance of healthy AND delicious food in the quantity needed for a vital life and a mind that is not overly-fixated on the next meal = perfect balance

It’s really that simple.

Time Out! Change scenes. Shake it up!!

Ahhhhh!

Ahhhhh!

I am noticing my breathing again.  Sounds in our beachfront room appear seemingly out of nowhere:  waves, birds, wind, voices floating in and out.

I am on vacation, and I feel like I’m checking back in with the world.  In my everyday life, habits and schedules seem to rule, and time just clicks by.  November, December, January . . . February already!

I have my tools for taking time out on a daily basis, but it is so hard to keep nagging thoughts from interfering!  At home, I sit and take a deep breath, and the washing machine stops suddenly, reminding me to switch the laundry.  I begin to read a magazine, and my phone lets me know another e-mail just arrived.  And then I remember I really should check my voicemail messages.

I’m not saying that relaxation at home is impossible.  It is necessary, because I spend a lot of time there.  Still it amazes me how much easier and more deeply I relax on vacation.  The change of scenery is key:  fewer work reminders and less compulsion to stay busy.

It makes sense that when I have trouble unwinding at home, I find it much easier to do so when I leave the house (or work).  A change of surroundings really helps!  I can consciously focus on the new things around me.  A walk outside is the best, because I really enjoy focusing on the natural environment.

Unfortunately, this is not the best time of year for me to enjoy walking outside – it’s cold in Wisconsin!  That’s OK though.  A trip to the grocery store or the mall works too.

You can use a change of scenery to help break momentum when eating starts to spin out of control.  If this is a frequent challenge, try just stopping and leaving your space.  I realize this isn’t always possible, but if it is, it can be a powerful tool.  Leaving creates a valuable delay, and new surroundings break the momentum.

Once a binging habit starts to play out, eating becomes mindless.  What is really needed is a jolt back to present time, a break in the pattern of the habit.  This is precisely why a change of scenery helps.  Habits play out effortlessly in familiar situations.

Shake it up – get out – and see what happens.  It may not work every time, but at least it will put you back in the driver’s seat of your decisions. This is one of the many tools that can help with in-the -moment eating challenges.

In the Moment – Mindful Eating, the phone app I created to help my clients and others bring more mindfulness to eating, is now upgraded (version 1.1.5) and works on all iPhones that are 4s and newer.  An Android version is available as well.

Is holiday time a bad time to start making lifestyle changes?

What do you think? I hear a lot of people making statements like “I know the holidays are a bad time to start anything . . . .”, “I might as well wait until January . . . .” . . . . . etc., etc. Is this a bad time to try making any changes at all?

If you are one of the many who wait . . . and wait . . . and WAIT for the perfect time to start making changes, I have a different point of view on the subject. I think any time, any day, is a perfect time – THE perfect time to start if that moment is now. Why? Because this very moment is the only one any of us has to make changes.

This is your moment to do something different, whether it is July, or September, or Thanksgiving Day. Keep putting it off, and the postponement becomes part of the plan. “I will start (again) tomorrow (Monday, in January . . . ).”

The avoidance of looking at change is often rooted in the belief that change needs to be dramatic and sudden. In reality, I believe that lasting changes are built from little adjustments created by changes in thinking. If you believe that this is a horrible time to start, how can positive energy toward new actions arise? Most likely no change will happen, and your usual holiday lifestyle will be sustained through your thinking.

What if you adopted a new belief this year, one that did not assume that change has to shake up your world? What if that belief allowed you to gently ease toward a more healthy holiday season – and you could give yourself credit for those little changes?

In the spirit of possibilities, remember that this very moment is the perfect one to start. Planning for minor improvements is a real opportunity for a healthy dose of comfort and joy!

Sparkly Pink Jeans and Food Cravings

 

glitter pants hanger pinkLet me tell you a quick story, one recently told to me by a young woman as we discussed a topic unrelated to eating . . . but then again, it was.  How we interact with food in our lives is so often a reflection of our tendencies in general.

So, here’s the story, as told by a yoga classmate while we considered our own reactions to rules imposed upon us:

Back in junior high school, the boys were allowed to wear blue jeans; the girls were not.  We could wear colored jeans though . . . seemed so unfair!

It really pissed me off because it made absolutely no sense.  So I got a really obnoxious pair of pink jeans – the most obvious, ugly pair I could find.  They had kinda sparkly things on them, and they were really, really PINK – I mean BRIGHT PINK!

I wore them every day, even though I didn’t like them, just because the rule was so stupid.  I mean the boys’ jeans were so beat out.  We (the girls) actually had nice-looking jeans.  UNFAIR!

I really hate it when people set rules that make no sense.  I feel like I just have to break them.

Bingo!  She hit the nail on the head.  People are often the same way when it comes to eating rules.  If they don’t make a conscious choice to follow a particular rule, it is just like someone arbitrarily telling them they can’t wear blue jeans.  The response is similar:  “I can’t eat any chocolate, huh?!  Watch me!!”  Then they eat an entire box.

Just like my friend wearing her pink pants, they really don’t want to eat that much chocolate.  They want to choose the rules (call them guidelines, if you prefer) that make sense for them.

There are lots of rules on the internet about eating.  Read carefully, and consider thoughtfully, before imposing them on yourself.  If they make sense, it won’t feel restrictive; it will feel nurturing.  If they don’t make any sense for you, they will feel like a pair of sparkly pink pants you wear just to make a point.

There is still no “one size fits all” plan for a healthy weight.

What is the biggest cause of on and off dieting, up and down weight, and frustration with weight loss? I believe it is the practice of any plan that doesn’t feel like a comfortable enough fit for you!

This meta analysis of different weight loss plans finds little difference in weight loss after 6 months between nutritionally different plans. People lost weight overall on all of the plans studied, and some may keep it off, but sustainability will depend on how realistic the changes are for the individual.

It always comes back to this: For lasting health improvements, make changes thoughtfully, considering all of your tendencies and current situational factors. Any plan will need to be flexible enough to allow for LIFE! A plan can be loosely defined (ie. choosing to eat more vegetables every day or simply being more mindful of hunger patterns) or it may contain more distinct components to it (ie. what each meal will contain or keeping track of carb grams if blood sugar is “jumpy”), but any plan needs to be “chosen” not forced. There has to be a reason that makes sense – to you. Attitude is the key.

I always return to the big question that seems to say it all . . . “Does what I am doing now feel KIND?”