Tag Archives: mindfulness

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!

Please Follow Me At My New WordPress Website!

After years of posting as Kim the Dietitian, I have now taken my blog over to my new website, lmwellness.com.  Please follow me there!

My wellness company, Lifestyle Matters, has some great mindful eating tools for individuals and corporate wellness, and I will continue to write on the blog there.  Please check it out.  Let me know what you think.  Thank you for visiting my site over the years . . . health and happiness!

“In the Moment – Mindful Eating” App in the news!

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On Monday, a nice article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talked about the phone app I developed.  I thought the writer, Lori Nickel, did a nice job of understanding my passion and translating it into a very readable format.  (Just click the link to read it.)

Reason #1001 Why My Husband Is So Smart

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Without the proper rest, we could end up like this – “dog tired” (and very sad-looking).

I married a very, very smart man.  Why?  He listens to me.

Peter loves to ride his road bike, and he likes to go on long rides, long enough to be “completely worn out.”  He knows that going out 2 days in a row will just be too much, yet he has such a hard time resisting the urge to ride when the weather is nice.

After a brutal Wisconsin winter, recent glimpses of spring weather have provided quite a challenge for him, to lay low on alternating days and swim instead.  One such day came along last week – sunny, 70-ish, perfect riding weather – and he told me “I might not be able to resist.”

I put in my 2-cents worth.  It went something like this:  “You have a right to do that.”  (In my head I was saying, “You have a right to make an unsupportive choice.”)

I knew he could tell what I was thinking.  When I returned home in the middle of the day, I found this note on the counter:

Kim – Went to the club to swim.  Listened to my body.

As I said, he is a smart man.

How well do you listen to  your body.  There are many opportunities to make unsupportive choices, even though we know we won’t feel well later.  Being more mindful – without judgment – of what the body really needs can be a doorway to a healthier lifestyle, but only when we realize that we are not “wrong” no matter what we choose.  In other words, we need to know we have a choice.

Cultivate “awe” for a more health-friendly attitude! (And Happy Birthday, Brent!)

Airport Arrival - More Fun Than the Departure

Brent, with wife Marina and sister Becky

Today at around 9am EST, my first-born turned 30. He lives in Seattle, but this momentous day will be spent near New York City, close to his birthplace, while on tour with Allen Stone; my son plays bass.

We toss around the word “awesome” these days like we used to use the word “wonderful.” Break the words apart, and clearly the number of times either is used far outnumbers the actual moments in our lives that are truly full of awe or wonder. A sunset can inspire genuine awe and wonder; these words lose their impact after being repeatedly used to describe things like a trip to the mall or a hot fudge sundae.

During my pre-bedtime reading ritual last night, I picked up a Sierra magazine that just arrived. The title of the cover article is “The Science of Awe.” As I flipped open the pages, I thought, ‘there may be something in here to incorporate into my app (In the Moment – Mindful Eating).’ In fact, there is plenty to consider in terms of more mindful eating, but as I read the writer’s descriptions of awe-inspiring moments, personal memories took over my thoughts . . . and I felt open, hopeful, and positive – all from simply remembering my “awe-filled” moments.

One moment in nature popped up: a trip to Ecuador, where I walked barefoot out onto the most expansive beach I have ever seen, at night when it was all lit by nothing more than the stars. Other times in the outdoors made the hairs on my skin stand up (a sign, the author asserts, of being awed) even as a mere memory. At the top of my awe list, however, are the births of my two children.

Thirty years ago today, shortly after giving birth to my son Brent, I was in a very small, dark hospital bathroom with a single small window when I felt a sensation of complete happiness, that everything in the universe was “right” and everything was connected. Clearly, this was not the result of my surroundings, a bathroom that was far from the most beautiful bathroom I have ever occupied! I felt unlimited gratitude and a completely open heart toward everything and everyone. While I do not consider myself a very “churchy” religious person, there was no denying this experience; it was clearly much bigger than me, like the beach in Ecuador I would walk on many years later.

The Sierra article uses research to explain what happens to a person at times like this. We behave differently. We treat people better, we are more generous, we are simply nicer to “hang with.” While the article did not specifically mention health or how we treat ourselves, I’m going out on a limb to say that I believe awe is worth cultivating because of the health benefits it offers.

We know that being more mindful is better for our eating and psychological well-being. Since awe, which cannot be felt in the absence of mindfulness, seems to inspire the kind of good feelings that are connected with better self-care, it doesn’t take much of a leap to conclude that being in nature, nurturing relationships, and creating other truly “awesome” moments will cause us to treat ourselves more kindly.

That’s what being healthy is all about: being kind to ourselves. I’m feeling grateful today, just thinking about what happened in my life 30 years ago. Happy Birthday, Brent. You are truly a gift that keeps giving!

Turning Hindsight Into Foresight

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“If only I hadn’t climbed up on that @#$%^&* chair!”

We’ve all heard the expression “Hindsight is 20/20.”  But what does that kind of expert vision accomplish if it just manifests as regret.  Absolutely NO good!  In order to be valuable, hindsight has to give us a little foresight.  In other words, it must be combined with learning to have any benefit in the future.

My husband Peter and I had this discussion recently after a very regrettable incident, and yes, if he could have predicted it, he would have done things differently.  But one thing is for darn sure . . . he will never, EVER again stand on a chair without being very mindful.  Actually he may never again stand on a chair at all!

Here’s what happened.  Peter woke me up one morning last week with the urgent news that there was a bat in our house – a bat now trapped under a bowl on our bookcase after he cornered it – and I needed to get up to help him get the bat out of the house.

So there I was, cookie sheet in hand, while he slid the bowl ever so carefully off the shelf onto it.  Everything was going perfectly . . . until Peter lost his balance and fell off the chair.  The bat was captured successfully, but Peter landed badly and his knee was not looking “right.”  Actually it was looking very, very wrong, with a huge bulge protruding away from his leg.

This long story ended with a trip to the Emergency Room and surgery to repair a torn quadriceps tendon a day later.  He will now be on crutches for 6 weeks.  What a set-up for a case of the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s”!  But it doesn’t help his current situation to realize that he was focusing too much on the bat and too little on his balance.

Experience is a great teacher though.  This recent setback has started me thinking that learning from the “slips” of eating habits – the equivalent of falling off the chair (or the wagon!) – presents a similar opportunity.  Unfortunately it is all too common for people to get stuck in the regret of their disappointments, looking back with hindsight (that crystal clear perspective) to see that “I shouldn’t have eaten so many cookies,” instead of understanding what caused it to happen and looking for solutions . . . changing the hindsight to foresight.

We can predict that destructive eating patterns will happen again if all we do is display perfect hindsight.  That’s easy!  In order to turn it into something productive, we need to give up on the regret and “if only’s” so we can actually learn something useful.

If having an abundance of cookies in the house causes a cookie binge, there is a difference between saying, “I shouldn’t have eaten all of those!  I have no willpower,” and observing that “having all those temptations in the house is not very supportive of my goals.  I will practice self-compassion by not buying them.”  (awareness + insight = learning)

The first method is judgmental and negative.  It does not get beyond the regret and shame of “messing up.”  The second is supportive and useful.   This may sound like picky semantics, but it makes a big difference!  Are you learning or just finding fault with yourself?

Media Coverage for “In the Moment – Mindful Eating” App

The Milwaukee Business Journal published a story about my phone app yesterday in their online edition.

More exciting app news:  the Android version is almost finished and will be available at Google Play soon!

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Are you missing the YUM?

My brother-in-law told me a story yesterday that I keep coming back to, thinking about, and appreciating the gentle reminder it provided.  Nearly all of us, myself included, can use a gentle nudge back to the YUM we are missing every day.

While preparing to enter the pool for his regular lap workout, my brother-in-law noticed a young child beginning her private swim lesson nearby.  She winced and wiggled, not at all comfortable with this new, wet, anti-gravity environment.  The instructor calmed the child with a soft voice and a gentle hand, encouraging her to lean back and relax.

At first, she resisted, not trusting this unfamiliar position in the water, but slowly she relaxed and settled into the instructors supportive hands.  Then the smile appeared, broad and bright, silently screaming, “I did it!”

My brother-in-law soaked it in, enjoying the landmark moment, probably also remembering similar times with his own children.  He turned around to see the child’s mother, anticipating the joy she must have felt.  Unfortunately, she missed it completely, her hands moving rapidly over the keys of her mobile phone, eyes turned down to look at the screen.

I taught a class about tasting and savoring food just a few days ago.  The challenge to stay mindful is no different – or any easier – than remembering to enjoy the many simple pleasures of everyday life when constant distractions get in the way.   We miss a large amount of eating enjoyment by neglecting to be present as we eat!

The taste of food can be such a pleasure, yet how often do any of us fully appreciate each bite?  Just as it is an impossible goal to be totally present in our lives at all moments, we will never taste every bite, yet it certainly helps to remember to try once in a while.  This alone can make less feel like enough.

Pleasure Seeking

Self-Doubt Happens

Oh yeah, this is what fear and self-doubt feel like.  

When I finally grabbed hold of my brain after a brief plunge to a place I haven’t been for a long while – that adrenaline shot, panicky feeling that I can’t do it (whatever “it” is) – I was grateful for the reminder.  I have been at my current job for 10 years now, and it feels natural.  Long ago I dropped the jittery new job feeling and embraced my role as a counseling dietitian and health coach, but last weekend at my second of ten 20-hour yoga teacher training segments, I was right back at square one with confidence.

One hour into the training I began short-circuiting.  My brain pathways felt like they were smoking and fizzling more with each Sanskrit word.  I had done my preparatory reading, but the words were not part of my working vocabulary yet.  Everything is so new.  In short, I was far outside my competency comfort zone, and I hadn’t been there in a while.  Panic!!

A little further into the first day, we found out that we would be presenting part of a yoga class to the group, and – oh, by the way – “you will be incorporating the concepts we have discussed, weaving them into your practice.”  So matter of fact!  I looked around the room.  No one looked panicked.  In fact, no one else seemed to be affected in any way by the news that sent an adrenaline jolt from my sacrum to my head – at least I was picking up on the anatomy part of the lecture! Continue reading

I Am An Addict

Hi, I’m Kim and I am an addict.

My substance of choice?  The constant chatter of my own thoughts.

This may not seem like much of a problem.  After all, thinking is intellectual, right?  Thinking is creative, right?

True, and true again, but like many addictions, a moderate amount can be good, or at least OK (for example, food or alcohol), but too much is a problem.  While there is a positive side to my active mind – I get good ideas from time to time – I am beginning to realize how unproductive chatter seems to continue almost nonstop.  While it does not really get in the way of my daily life and I function at a high level, there is a price to pay in terms of optimum contentment and the effects of stress on the body.

I only recently began to see this as a problem.  Yes, there have always been annoying times when thoughts have kept me up at night and I can’t seem to shut them off, or a song would stick in my head.  A little bit of neck and shoulder tension does tend to creep up on me too, but that’s normal stress, right?

Yes, all of this is what we label “normal” for human beings, but I have become less and less tolerant of mere “normal” standards for my happiness and contentment lately, ironically as I find more and more of both.  A recent trip gave me more of a slap than a gentle nudge in the right direction . . . Continue reading