Tag Archives: lifestyle change

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!

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!

Help Me Stop!!

Do you find yourself saying – screaming?! – these words (silently, or maybe not so silently) to yourself?  Want to change a habit?  I do.

Most of the habits I hear about people wanting to change are related to eating.  “I need to (want to, have to, DEFINITELY should, etc.) stop . . . . (eating after dinner, eating while watching TV, eating cookies, eating chocolate, . . . . )  Sound familiar?  Although I am not currently having trouble with food cravings, there have definitely been times in my life when I have, and I understand it.

My problem?  I have been having trouble shutting off my brain at night when it’s time to go to sleep.  I know at least part of the problem is the stimulation of tech devices (computer and phone).  I sit down to dinner, hear that little “ping” from my phone and make a note to check e-mail after I eat.  I start reading a book and think, “I should really send just one more e-mail to . . . ”  The list of distractions and “could do” list just gets longer.

So . . . I have decided to shut off my phone and cover my computer after 6pm.  So far it’s working.  I did go to the computer once or twice (“I’ll just check the weather”), forgetting my promise to myself, but the fleece jacket over my computer stopped me in my tracks – an effective reminder!

I recommend similar reminders for eating triggers.  A fleece jacket (or a sticky note) on the TV would remind TV munchers to consider their choices instead of mindlessly grabbing the bag of chips.  Whatever works to get a new habit going!  It does take some time to form new ones.  When starting the process, an obvious reminder of the commitment helps, simply because the brain is not yet considering options to the usual mindless routine.  That’s what makes habits hard to break – they are mindless.

If you have creative reminders of your own, please share them.  I would love to hear what works for you!

How My Computer Looks After 6pm

How My Computer Looks After 6pm

A Preview of My New iPhone App

It’s called In the Moment – Mindful Eating, and it’s available at the App Store.  Here’s a preview:

I apologize for my poor filming skills!  If you would like a clearer view of the examples above, just go to the App Store.  I am grateful for your feedback.

The Best Diet for 2014

Gotcha!  I knew I could catch your interest with a title like that!!

Are you still looking for IT – the plan that will do it for you this year, the ONE that will help you meet your New Year’s resolution (the same one you make every year, to lose X number of pounds, maybe by a certain date)?  Despite the mounting evidence against dieting in general, and against a specific effective plan for everyone, the diet industry will still take buckets of our money again this year.

Are we nuts?!  No – but we are feeling desperate.  And those claims are oh-so-tempting, aren’t they?

Can I talk you into reading a recent article from the Wall Street Journal?  And can I convince you that your own experience has probably already taught you much of what is mentioned in it, making an even more compelling argument for knocking off the nonsense and beginning the real work of changing your lifestyle habits in a more permanent way – and following a plan chosen with great thought about your life situation, taste preferences, and physical needs?

This way of choosing does not mean reading an ad, watching an infomercial, or even falling hook, line, and sinker for the testimonial advice of a friend who just lost 20 pounds in a week and a half – all while in the midst of the most recent panic attack over your last visit to the bathroom scale.  The sane way of finding your “plan” involves sitting down in a calm environment, perhaps breathing deeply and centering for several minutes first, and then asking yourself for real answers about your overall needs and what is realistic to expect.

Then, and only then, can you find the plan that fits you.  Not sexy, not fast, and not a profit center for the diet industry, but hey, it just might work!

What are your habitual thinking patterns? Are they serving you or undoing you?

Habitual thinking patterns can easily undo the best of intentions when it comes to eating.  Because they have become habits, these thoughts play out unconsciously, which makes them so sneaky and difficult to change.  A perfect example is the all-too-common self talk that proclaims “I blew it.”  The obvious (but not really very logical) conclusion is “. . . so now it doesn’t matter any more.”

This is probably the single most damaging pattern of thinking in the quest for better health, a better weight, a smaller size, etc.  It initiates the cycle of guilt and disappointment, which never sets the stage for motivation moving forward.  Argue with me if you like, but I think you know I am right!

I had a reminder last night of how ridiculous repetitive habits of thinking can be.  It did not have to do with eating.  It had to do with sleeping, but the concept is similar.

I have been having trouble sleeping well through the night lately – very frustrating!  It seems that it is hardest to get back to sleep when I wake up around 3am.  It’s interesting, but hardly a reason to think that it should be any more difficult to get back to sleep than if I wake up at, say 2am instead.  The problem seems to be getting worse whenever I see a time starting with “3”!

I began to realize that I have been telling myself, “It’s that time.  I will now have trouble falling asleep again.”

Last night I saw the lack of logic – not to mention science – in my developing thought process.  I actually saw the humor in it when I woke up, looked up at the clock and saw that it was not just 3:00, or 3:30, but 3:33!  I laughed to myself, thinking I was truly screwed if seeing a “3” on the clock in the middle of the night meant no hope of sleep.

Now I am debating whether to hide the clock or just be aware of the ridiculousness of this thought pattern when I am faced with a dreaded “3” staring back at me in the middle of the night.  I think I’ll hide the clock.

We can’t really help it that thoughts pop into our heads, but recognizing negative patterns are forming – or have been there for a long time – allows for the chance to challenge the logic and perform a slow exorcism of the not-so-supportive thought patterns.

With the New Year on the way, what a great resolution!  How about resolving to challenge some of the negative thought patterns?  It sure beats the tired, worn-out eating resolutions so many people recycle every January 1.

Don’t Diet – Change Your Lifestyle . . . Do you get it yet?

I couldn’t agree more.  Why do all of the trendy diets work for a while, and then people often gain back what they lost?  The simple reason is:  How you eat is much more important than what you eat.  The “what” usually takes care of itself when people are developing a “peaceful” eating pattern that is realistic and self-compassionate.

Intellectually we probably all agree about this.  Still, can we internalize this concept and really LIVE it?  This is where I see people struggle.  “Oh yes, I want to change my lifestyle.  I know diets don’t work. . . .  but . . . . I need to lose 20 pounds right away, so what can I do?”

If you find yourself thinking like this, you will want to read this  study that looks at how people fare in both scenarios.  It does help to hear the same message many ways, so add it to your mental library of evidence in favor of realistic lifestyle changes.  One of these days, it’s bound to really click!

What’s wrong with the big picture?

This is an important question, one we are too seldom encouraged to ask when we embark on a weight loss plan.  Eating habits are not easy to change.  They are much harder to change when we forget to ask, “What’s wrong with the big picture?”

The approach to obesity and weight loss in the U.S. is much like the practice of treating chronic disease by simply treating the symptoms.  Fixing the “problem” (the symptom) may not solve the real problem.

Like many other health issues, carrying extra weight is not a simple cause and effect situation.  Factors like stress, body image, sleep, mental outlook, personal relationships, environment, and physical activity are so interconnected with each other and with our eating habits.  To think that we can just treat overweight as a simple energy imbalance is like thinking we can always fix a flat tire by putting air in it.

Sometimes a tire is flat because it has a big hole in it.  Few flat tires are fixed by simply filling the tire with air.  Similarly having a diet plan that will cause weight loss (if you can follow it) is seldom the answer.  More often I hear people say, “I know what to do.  I just have lots of trouble doing it.”

Unfortunately, instead of taking a look at the big picture and learning more about personal hurdles – dealing with work stress, incorporating physical activity, or working on a key relationship, for instance – many people will think they simply are not capable of succeeding with the prescription (a diet).

That is so unfortunate!  Eating is such a great window into life balance.  If you struggle with eating habits, you are gifted with a very visible indicator of your life balance.  “Oh yay,” you may say, but I’m serious!  When eating is out-of-whack, you can bet that there is something in your bigger life that needs attention.

By focusing attention – and intention – on the big picture, all of the littler pieces will begin to fall into place, including eating.  Unlike simply pumping a leaky tire with more air, you will be solving the real problem.  You will be patching the hole or getting a brand new tire.  Voila!  Finally the air will provide a constructive purpose.

Still looking for the magic bullet? Then you are not ready for a solution yet.

These are some comments taken from a recent e-mail I received.  Are you more like the author of the e-mail or the person she mentions?
Ran into a colleague . . . .
 As we talked, she said:  “you’ve lost weight – how did you do it? I’ve been trying and I’ve lost 15 lbs, but can’t seem to get past that.”
Where do I start…
I tried to tell her about my experience using a personal trainer; she said she tried that but the trainer wanted her to work on balance and she said, “you don’t understand, . . .  I don’t have any balance.  That ship has sailed.”  The trainer kept attempting, so she decided she was a bad trainer.
I tried to tell her about eating whole foods in their original state and passing on processed and fast foods. . .
I didn’t get very far. In the end it was all about the problems of post menopausal women and heredity (her mom had the big belly shape) – and there was nothing she could do about it.
I wanted to scream. “I’M POST MENOPAUSAL.  I HAVE FAT BODIES IN MY FAMILY – I HAD A FAT BODY – I DON’T HAVE A FAT BODY NOW – I HAD NO BALANCE – WHILE NOT PERFECT, I HAVE MUCH IMPROVED BALANCE NOW!!!”
But, I knew she really didn’t want to hear it.  She wanted to believe there was nothing she could do about it.
So, I have to decide how I want to respond to people who bring up the subject with me.  I think they’re hoping to hear of some magic formula, and when they don’t hear it in the first 2 minutes – they tune me out.

Living Above The Line

I love this visual for attitudes! It certainly applies to improving health habits, including eating. In case this is not obvious, let’s look at how each “above the line” attitude helps, and how each “below the line” attitude hurts.

  • Creative – Being creative helps solve patterns that are not helping you. Creativity allows for better meal planning and avoidance of excessive temptation.
  • Generous – Are you stingy with feeding yourself? If you feel overly deprived, it is only a matter of time before the pendulum swings back toward excess. Being generous with others has also proven to be a great way to lift mood, which in turn lifts your ability to take care of yourself.
  • Hopeful – Do I need to expand on this?! Without hope, what good is any attempt?
  • Positive – A “can do” attitude – seeing the glass half full – keeps brain chemistry optimal. That makes everything possible.
  • Optimistic – Ditto
  • Energetic – Momentum comes from energy. Without it, not much gets done – no cooking, no workouts . . .
  • Loving – Are you worthy of good health? Of course you are. Believing that is the most basic way to exhibit self-love. With self-love, loving others is possible.

_______________________________________________ (the line!)

  • Angry – Anger creates reaction, not action. (An angry reaction to a weight on the scale often propels a binge or causes people to quit trying altogether.) From a place of calm, action can progress toward a goal.
  • Sad – Think of a deep, deep hole. That’s not the easiest place to work on changes.
  • Powerless – If you don’t think you can do it, guess what? You can’t.
  • Negative – Negative thoughts lead to negative actions. This is never a good way to improve.
  • Jealous – Does it feel good to envy someone else’s situation or body? “She eats whatever she wants and looks like THAT!” First of all, keep in mind that you never really know how someone else lives behind closed doors. Secondly, you have your metabolism and your body, and someone else’s situation does not have anything to do with that. Jealousy is self-destructive and takes your focus off of what you can do to help yourself.
  • Fearful – Fears cause inaction. Inaction causes NO CHANGE.
  • Pessimistic – OK, Debbie Downer, pick yourself up and start thinking more positively! Expect bad results, and that is exactly what you will get.

Living Above The Line

I was recently introduced to the concept of living above and below the line and wanted to share it with you. While many of us have heard these principles before, thinking about being above/below the line is a great way to visualize our patterns.

When we live above the line, we see life from a positive place and are hopeful, creative, and optimistic. When we live below the line, our attitudes are more negative and we can feel powerless, sad, angry, fearful or hopeless.

It is important to remember that we are in charge of how we see the world. While we are continually faced with challenges, the key is recognizing when certain thoughts enter our stream of consciousness and working on how we react to these challenges. To quote Epictetus – “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

For example, lets say…

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