Tag Archives: lifestyle change

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.

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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.

The Happsters

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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“This is the most important thing I do today.”

Even on vacation, I try not to completely take a "vacation" from physical activity.

Even on vacation, I try not to completely take a “vacation” from physical activity.

Seemingly little things we do can make a HUGE difference in how the day goes.  If you are skeptical, keep reading.   Continue reading

Is Your Diet Plan Just a Waste of Time?

If you are someone who follows the dieting trends, hopping on every fad bandwagon, you are probably just wasting time as you avoid the real work involved in making real changes – that is, if you would like the weight to stay off, and you do, right?  Of course you do!

“What do you mean by ‘real work’,” you ask, “cuz I feel like I AM working really hard!!”  If you are trying to make a drastic change, knowing full well that you cannot continue doing it, can you really expect the changes to last? Continue reading