Eating Mindfully

Food.

It’s everywhere in our lives, isn’t it? Food is essential for life and health, but it’s also used for purposes other than nutrition.

food as a drug

Perhaps you’ve seen this quote floating around the internet. Food is used for everything from celebrating, comforting, helping our emotions, and perhaps even feeding deeper things in us that we are unaware of, like coping with life.

There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t at some point, eaten, without the need of hunger. There isn’t anything necessarily “wrong” with it… I mean come on… when we have room for chocolate cake after a meal… we aren’t hungry, are we? And I usually won’t turn it down… 😉

For any of us on a health and wellness journey, eating mindfully is crucial to long term success.

What does eating mindfully mean?

Let’s look at it like this… have you ever been in the kitchen and found yourself mindlessly shoving something in your mouth ? Are really thinking about it? You might have seen it and thought… “oh this…”  you might not even really taste it in the full sense of tasting. You’re checked out thinking about the laundry, or tomorrows to-do list.

You can put yourself in whatever scenario…there are times we are shoveling food in our faces without a purpose and well, quite mindlessly.

Or, we could feel stressed and emotionally strung out. A hard day. Kids making us nuts. Aging parents. Job that takes a toll on you.

We find comfort in our favorite food.

Trust me… I get it.

I think one of THE biggest things that clicked to me a few years ago was recognizing I often would reach for food, and not good stuff, and realize I was emotionally eating. I also understood I had seen it modeled in front of me my entire life in my family. To identify (emotional eating) helped keep me aware of that weak area in me.

I remember one evening, after a rough day with one of the kids, my husband walked in the kitchen where I happened to be shoveling BBQ chips in my mouth.

I told him… “I want you to know, I’m fully aware that I’m emotionally eating right now!” Now that is kinda funny… but for me… saying it out loud and seeing it…gave me some power. ( I didn’t eat the bag… I really had a couple handfuls and put them away… I started thinking of what I was doing)

As I’ve moved along, I have become more aware of eating mindfully. I think for a lot of people, that is a key element missing in their quest to lose weight and get fit.

What does that mean? or look like?

Think about what you’re eating.

Are you hungry? Do you need it ?

If you are (hungry) learn to eat slowly and savor what you are eating. The slower you eat the more satisfied you’ll feel.

Think about your meals… what do you need? Plan tasty and healthy options that you enjoy.

Be aware of how much you eat. The majority of people greatly over estimate portion sizes often eating two-three servings. These extra calories in a day all add up to weight gain.

Think about your snacks. Be mindful of how they support your goals of losing weight and getting healthy.

One example for me is, walking into a gas station. I went in to grab a bottle of water the other day and looking around I thought “there is almost nothing in here I should eat”.

I’ve become “mindful” of my eating habits. It’s a good change to make. I’ve learned to look at foods and mindfully determine if it’s what I need.

I’m mindful when I make food selections and portions.

Gaining control in our lives with food will require intentional thinking and readjusting of habits ( in the beginning) in time though, being mindful of how you eat, why, and what, will all be new healthy habits for you =)

The Ugly Truth About Fat

So as I pondered the blog I’m about to write it crossed my mind that it could fall into that realm of ” not politically correct” that seems to permeate our world today. You know, that place where you can’t or aren’t supposed to say anything or have an opinion on anything for fear of “offending” someone ? That if you speak out, someone might feel that you are bashing or tearing them down ?

Hear me… there’s a huge difference in speaking out in love/concern over being mean spirited and hateful.

Well! Now that I have your attention…. 😉 ( you’re pondering…where the heck is she going with this?)

I’m fixing to speak truth.

I’ll tell you…. I’m gonna talk about….. fat…. and the fact our country has an epidemic of it…. including our children… childhood obesity will have to hold for another post…

It’s not cool to mention fat. We live in this current world of not “shaming” and trying to make everyone feel ok and comfy when the reality is this…

Obesity increases the risk of many health conditions, including the following:

  • Coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Cancers, such as endometrial, breast, and colon cancer.
  • High total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides.
  • Liver and gallbladder disease.
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems.
  • Degeneration of cartilage and underlying bone within a joint (osteoarthritis).
  • Reproductive health complications such as infertility.
  • The high cost of healthcare for these diseases.

Hear me on this, fat isn’t bad. Our bodies need fat to protect our organs and give us energy as well as help with proper functioning of our nerves and brain, it helps to maintain healthy skin and other tissues.

Excess fat is what becomes bad. It puts extra stress and strain on our knees, hips and other joints. Internally, our heart and lungs have to work harder to carry the extra weight. On a practical level…. daily tasks can be harder and take more energy and that can leave you tired.

I feel I have a platform to speak on this. I’ve not always been athletic, had muscles or worried overly about what food I ate. If you’ve known me for awhile, then you’ve seen me at varying sizes, however, so many of you are new to following me you might assume I’ve always been into running/fitness. Not true.

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April 2007, Senior pics with my first born who was getting ready to graduate. This was a rather unplanned pic that the photographer took of us. I love it ’cause I’m with him. I was not “unhappy” with myself? But It was one of those moments where I once again was reminded…. “you could drop a few pounds”. 7 months later I began my journey and never looked back.

My grandmother and mom were considered morbidly obese… not a pretty term….but sadly true. I’m the age my grandmother was when she had her first heart attack. She had not only heart issues but diabetes and other health related problems. She eventually died of congestive heart failure.

My mom nearly died one Easter of undiagnosed diabetes. Her blood sugar level was something like 960.  If you know your numbers then you know… that is out of the world high. Somehow though, she pulled through that. She also had high blood pressure and dealt with many other issues including loss of both kidneys,  2 transplants, and later in the past few years, life of dialysis and never ending doctor appointments. Because of diabetes complications, she eventually had toes and parts of her foot removed. All of these things directly related to her being so overweight. Oh, she did have surgery a number of years ago and lost a lot of weight and was quite small when she passed away…. but all the damage had been done.

I lost her a year ago tomorrow.

My grief is neatly packed away on some levels and there is a blog waiting to come out…. someday….. but I digress….

It’s an ugly truth we don’t want to confront in ourselves or in this world today. Fat can be deadly and take a huge toll on our health and quality of life. But we don’t want anyone to feel bad so we act like it’s all ok…. again…  this isn’t about treating anyone poorly…. it’s about offering love and support.

7 years ago I started my journey after kindly being confronted by my doctor… or perhaps challenged is a better word… to consider losing some weight. Pointing out basically, I was healthy, but could stand to lose a few pounds. Well, honestly, I went on to lose more than a few, about 55 actually. Not to mention who knows how many inches, and about 6 pant sizes.

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At one point, I couldn’t wear these pants. I guess I still can’t wear them 😉                                                                     

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I remember the first night I went out for a walk ( begrudgingly I might add) I had to deal head on and face to face with the reality. I was 43 at the time…. did I want my life potentially to be like my mom and grandmother? Was I going to let food dictate and control my life? Or was I going to make changes?

That…. was when my fitness journey began.

I will always remember taking in the December 2012 edition of Runners World to show my doctor. I had been one of 22 selected out of over 400 submissions to be shown in their “Runners Body”  feature. I asked him if a few years ago when I first came in would he have thought I’d have been in such a magazine ?

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My feature page from Runners World Body Edition

He was in tears…..his words….. “I tell people all the time, they usually don’t  listen. I’m proud of you”

So yeah, I feel like I can speak to this topic on too many personal levels.

Yet, losing even 10lbs can lower blood pressure, help reduce knee and hip pain and help to lower blood sugars. Not to mention, it can make you feel awesome for doing it =) Oh yeah, what about increased energy as you lose weight ?

The most important thing ? Get started.

→ Set small realistic goals

→ Include daily purposeful exercise

→ Remember even when you don’t see big “losses” that things are happening inside you too.

→ Enlist help or a support team

→ Aim to eat healthy nutritious food 95% of the time.

→ Allow for an occasional treat but don’t reward yourself with food.

→ Don’t quit. Slow and steady wins the race.

→Progress pics aren’t vain…. they can remind you how far you’ve come….. take them =)

You ultimately are the only one who can take control of your health and wellness. If you are in a good place perhaps you need to be encouragement to someone on their journey…support goes a long way! Most of all, consider what you do an investment in your quality of life… you’re more than worth it!

Crossing the (Diet) Bridge

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I have two special friends, male and female, who have been extremely successful in their quest to lose weight and get into living a healthy lifestyle.  Like myself, they have done it the plain old fashioned way of taking it slow and steady, losing weight and allowing their minds to be transformed along with their shrinking bodies. They have had good days and bad on their journeys to get where they are now. Nothing happened over night, but it did happen.

Now a much, much slimmer version of their former selves they have learned skills along their journey to stay successful. Eating better, eating less, building in their favorite “treats”, exercise and a positive attitude. These things all contribute to  permanent success.

As things go in life, all of our paths have intersected and I now have enjoyable relationships with each of these people.

I found it interesting that in totally separate conversations, they voiced to me what I’ve often pondered myself on this journey.

“Why do some people get started and quit? Why do some start, re-start and start again and then something happens and it “takes”?”

All three of us have used the illustration of crossing over the bridge. Funny, because we each had this same thought and shared it within our conversations.

Maybe, perhaps, because we get it.

I think most people would agree, it’s fairly easy to put weight on, but requires a lot more from us to remove it.

Discipline to say “no” to things we want to eat. Discipline to pass on seconds, or foods we know won’t best support our health and wellness goals. Sacrifice to make room in our schedules for exercise or to get up earlier. Dedication to a new way of living that at first feels unfamiliar, foreign, and down right uncomfortable.  Willingness to finally get real with who we are, where we are and how we got there. Not to mention a certain amount of tenaciousness to hold onto wanting to be successful like a bulldog with a favorite toy.

You see that ? All those things, they start in your head.

Discipline.

Sacrifice.

Dedication.

Willingness.

We tend to think of weight loss as just a body thing….” I’ll just stop eating to much and lose weight and it will all be fine”  without realizing the huge part our minds play in the process of truly becoming successful.

Why do you think people who are going to undergo major weight loss surgeries are encouraged to go to counseling classes to help them process not just weight loss but what will be required of them from a nutritional stand point? Sadly, so many of these will go back to gaining all that weight again because even though their bodies  are changing, their minds haven’t made a connection to a new way of living, they are still thinking about all the food that got them to that point in the first place and wanting to eat in the same ways.

Like many others, they will not have “crossed over the bridge”.

It’s that place where it all connects together and you understand exactly what has to be done, that it will be a process, and you simply settle in for the journey. You take a single day at a time. You strive to make the best choices (nutritionally) you can. You stop viewing eating good foods as a form of punishment. Exercise becomes just as valuable as brushing your teeth each day. You allow your body to slowly and steadily go through the losing part just like it did the gaining part. You get that there will be days that will bomb and you dust off and keep going.

You love yourself on the journey.

The journey, that crosses you over the bridge into freedom and into a new way of living.

A permanent lifestyle change. Welcome to the other side.

Cookie Cutter Diets Part 2

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Hey! welcome back to the next part of my little series  =) I thought this would work better than writing a novel you’d be reading for days…. if you missed part 1…. scamper over and check it out first.

I wanna set the stage here for you… since we’re talking about diets…. maybe you’ll relate. This was my strategy for success years ago.

* determine I was tired of being fat  (yes, I’m using that word)

* decide that,  “Monday was gonna be it…time to start”

* proceed to eat all random, crappy, junk type food I could shovel in to “get rid of it”  over the weekend ( because all that food would never, ever be available to me again. Ever.

* decide which seriously calorie deficient diet I was gonna do, and there were LOTS to choose from.

* start on Monday with lofty expectations of being slimmer by the next weekend. Engage some furious exercise. Think of all the foods I was gonna miss.

* Tuesday… hunger is my new best friend. Food is always on my mind and I  have fantasies about my next meal more than a teenage girl does Justin Bieber. Get on scale and check for weight loss. Get mad when it hasn’t changed.

*Wednesday hop onto scale… first thing early… naked… carefully balancing and holding my breath. Yay…  a pound or two gone. It’s gonna be a good day. I can do this. When do we eat again ?? Weigh again later in day hoping for more good news…think about when it’s over…

* Thursday no new change in the weight. I’m getting kinda sick of a piece of fruit, an egg and water for breakfast and similar things rest of day. Hunger sticks closer than a bee on honey. I think about…cake… and cheeseburgers… and all things fat.

*Friday almost have a week down. I’m getting used to the light headedness from not enough food… besides the scale told me another pound was gone… I can handle being hungry…. I’ve been thinking about “when this is over” and getting back to normal.

* Saturday… I’ve been good! I deserve a treat, or two, or three… right ?? And the whole day turns into a happy eating feast of all things that have been banished in the past week. OMG… it all tastes sooo good.

*Sunday… I’m not realllyyyy needing to lose weight, am I? I mean, I never will be able to anyway…so… I might as well just do what I’ve been doing…. maybe I’m supposed to just be like this. I  just don’t have the will power or strength to be successful.

* Monday…. resume my old ways. Resolve to try again another day.

Do you relate ? Have you done things like this ? You can tell me in the comments section.

I’ve since learned a lot. There were several flaws with my plan for weight loss.

→ Not understanding my needs or exactly how many calories my body required to just be alive on a daily basis. At the time 1200 calories was standard diet fare ( sadly it still is today) If you were living large, 1500. Imagine my shock when not to long ago I learned that my daily BMR (basal metabolic rate which we’ll talk about later) was actually 1500 calories. This is if I were to sit on sofa doing nothing and to support the normal functioning of my body. No wonder I was hungry all the time! There were no extra calories for my daily living or exercise built in.

→ Removing, depriving and taking away everything I perceived as “bad” Giving power to foods and not keeping them in a proper  perspective. We  are living life and have to allow for it even as we pursue our weight loss goals. Occasional treats keep us on target and cut off binging. Putting foods on a banished list only made me think of them more.

→ Not treating my body with respect by giving it adequate food for health and living. Being hungry is a God given signal to feed our body.

→ Not having realistic goals for myself. I would not reach a slim status in one week. That set me up for failure…. as if  not enough food wouldn’t.

→ Not setting long term, permanent, life goals instead of just weeks out goals.

→ Trying to fit my body into that standard diet and not knowing my own needs.

When you and I began to grasp and understand that we should be focused on all of our lives and not just a few weeks or months, we’ve made huge progress. Eating well and movement  are, or should be, what we do all our life.

Now, remember your homework you had from last post ? You were supposed to set a goal and determine what your weight loss fitness goals are

Now along side that I want you to consider what your needs are. Could you relate on any level to my story above ?  What mental changes do you need to make for success ?

Finally, think about your life. Your work , activities, hobbies, exercise etc. and consider what kinds of food will give you energy and help you on your weight loss journey.

In our next post we will look at how to figure how many calories you personally need to reach your goals and most importantly how to make it your plan for success.