Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mini Meditations Work for Stress Relief

One of the great paradoxes in life is those of us who need to slow down the most are exactly the ones who "don't have time" to meditate.

You don't have 20 minutes? OK, start with 5. Heck, start with 2 minutes. Just do some simple relaxed deep breathing for 2 minutes. Give yourself 2 minutes to think about only your breathing.

Take 2 minutes a couple times throughout the day and you will be amazed at how refreshed you start to feel! For 2 minutes instead of grabbing a cup of coffee, grab some deep breaths in a quite place.

Hide out in the bathroom if you have to! Do it before your meals. In the shower. When you first wake up and right before you go to sleep.

These mini meditations, practiced regularly, will help reduce your stress. If you are having major stress related symptoms, this may not be enough to make them disappear--but it is an awesome start!

By lowering your stress levels multiple times throughout the day you may actually be able to prevent some of the bigger problems from occurring in the first place. And if the idea of trying to find time for "one more thing" is going to stress you out--this may be the idea solution for you!

Once you have perfected these mini meditations, gradually increase one session, even if it is only a couple times a week. Ease yourself into a 20 minute meditation twice a week and then 3 times, then 5 times.

When you do this, don't get up earlier to do it. This is not a time to be sleep deprived--you are probably not getting enough already. Good news though, an added benefit to these little practices is you will get a better, more refreshing sleep!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Herbs for Stress Reduction and Weight Loss

There are herbs and supplements that reputedly reduce cortisol levels and/or have a calming affect, thereby reducing stress. I have found these are best used in conjunction with modifying behavior--not as a "magic bullet" where you make no other changes.

The challenge with herbs and supplements is because they are not currently regulated (in the US) they are not required to be tested for efficacy, purity or safety. So even is a specific herb may work wonders, if it is tainted by pesticides or not prepared properly it could actually casue more harm than help.

If you are going to use supplements to reduce cortisol levels, check out the manufacturer before you buy. Do they test the ingredients for purity, safety and efficacy?

And enjoy that cup of herbal tea--especially while quietly appreciating the view, or stroking your pet, or talking with a friend. If you are with a friend, make a pact that this is a stress-free time and no complaining is allowed!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stress Makes Us Fat, Part III

If gentle exercise is good for us, then rigorous exercise is even better, right?

Well, not in terms of our cortisol levels. It turns out working out really hard can actually increase cortisol levels, especially for those super-competitive types.

That doesn't mean that vigorous exercise should never be done. For people who get the runner's or swimmer's "high" from working out, go for it. And even for the rest of us, we can turn a work out into a meditation by focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, or one stroke after another. By this concentrated focus on what you are doing, you have eliminated negative thoughts--and they are stressful!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stress Makes Us Fat, Part II

I mentioned yesterday that stress causes cortisol levels to rise. Increased cortisol levels result in more accumulation of fat around the middle. That is the most damaging location for excess fat (hence the reason Dr. Oz says it is more important to reduce your waist measurement than a specific number on the scale.)

There are numerous ways to reduce stress. Yoga is one. A gentle form of exercise that combines stretching and deep breathing, yoga's benefits include calming the mind and increasing flexibility and strength in the body.

Meditation, as I mentioned yesterday, is a good stress reducer. While it is possible for some to meditate for hours, most of us don't have that kind of time, or focus. The good news is that even 10-15 minutes helps reduce our stress levels. No "spiritual awakening" is required. Focusing on our breath going in and out, or a simple repetitive sound, or repeating a single syllable are all tools to calm the mind.

Walking and other gentle exercises also reduce stress. Getting out in the fresh air and in nature tends to bring calm and joy to us. Exercise while you are appreciating your surroundings and you are doing more than exercising your body--you are nourishing your soul.

By focusing on our breathing and the pleasurable things found out in nature, we can turn a walk into a "walking meditation." This is not the time to problem-solve or make a "to do" list. Be present and aware of your body and the surroundings--the sun sparkling on water, the pattern of the fall leaves, the flowers in the yards you walk past, the clouds in the blue sky.

If negative thoughts or tasks come to mind, say "not helpful" or "thank you, this is not the time" and get back to focusing on something positive--the sun warming your back, the cool fresh air on your face, the singing birds...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stress Makes Us Fat

Stress is a part of life. You cannot live without some stress. The important thing is to reduce the negative stresses in our lives.

Stress itself can make us fat. As our cortisol levels go up, so does our waist measurement according to lots of studies.

What makes stress so fattening for me is emotional eating. One of the first things I used to do when I felt stressed was to reach for some rich food. That brought up my serotonin levels and I felt better.

Not bad if you keep that in control, but if you start to eat those foods over and over instead of learning to feel the emotions and deal with them in other ways, it is easy to have the problem balloon out of hand. That's what happened to me!

Now my cravings are under control and I am practicing other ways of reducing stress. For example, a quick walk--just a couple minutes in the fresh air and sunshine helps immensely. One of the best stress reducers I've found is to meditate.

Sometimes I do a short meditation. At other times I like to use guided meditations--to do that get a good CD that will sort of walk you through it. Dr. Wayne Dyer has several that are really good. Find one that feels good to you.

Hard to believe, but sitting still can actually help you lose weight!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Slow Down You Eat Too Fast

By slowing down while we eat we will actually reduce the volume of food consumed.

In addition, it will allow for a more pleasurable dining experience.

Eating more slowly gives our bodies time to realize it actually has been fed. Therefore we tend to eat less, and feel more satisfied after our meal.

Using mealtime as a little break in the hectic day has helped me break out of the rush--stress--overeat cycle.

If you are eating alone, play some gentle music. Focus on the food and how it tastes and feels going into your mouth.

I've been amazed at the textures and tastes that I hadn't noticed in foods earlier. The variety is pretty impressive!

Savor the flavors and train yourself to notice the differences. This will make eating a lot more fun!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This should not be a shock to anyone, but crash dieting is NOT the best way to lose weight. It doesn't work in the long-run.

I tried for years and years to lose weight quickly. Sometimes I was successful, but generally the success was extremely short-lived.

Now I know that it is only by changing my behaviors that I can actually have permanent results. The best way to make any change in behavior is by making small changes along the way.

Crash diets not only don't provide lasting results, they can deprive the body of important nutrients that it needs for basic functions. Certainly for optimum functioning.

If you don't get enough protein in your diet your body will start to breakdown your muscles for food for brain. When it does that, it is no longer feeding off the food you have provided it. So even though you are taking in a low level of calories, because they are not the right kind of calories, you can be hurting your muscles AND still not be losing weight.

Diets that are too low in carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates, of course) can result in low energy, vitamin deficiencies, cravings and hunger. Not to mention grumpiness!

Bottom line, make small changes. Eat a good balance of protein and complex carbs (mostly vegetables and fruits). Drink plenty of water.

Do those 3 things and you will lose weight.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Big Should Breakfast Be

This is a follow up to yesterday's post about the importance of having a big breakfast--how big is big?

According to a study authored by Daniela Jakubowicz, the best breakfast for is actually around 600 calories! In this study, the women who at this large breakfast with a daily total caloric intake of over 1250 calories lost more weight, faster and reported less hunger and cravings as compared to the other women in the study who ate under 1100 calories all day with a more traditional breakfast of around 300 calories.


Researchers at St. Louis University found in their study that overweight women who ate a big breakfast of 2 eggs and 2 slices of toast (with jam!) ate almost 300 calories fewer during the rest of the day.

Combine that with the body's burning of calories being in overdrive in the morning and you have a formula for success.

And here is another tip from Dr. Jakubowicz--have a piece of chocolate with your breakfast! It can help satisfy your sweet tooth--and because your serotonin levels are already high it can help reduce cravings!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Eating Breakfast Is Important for Losing Weight

My mother always told me that I had to eat breakfast. Your mother probably did too.

So why do so many adults think they can skip breakfast? Is breakfast less important for adults than it is for kids?

The answer is emphatically NO! Breakfast is crucial for all of us--including adults--and even more crucial if you want to lose weight!

Recent studies indicate that a big (and I mean BIG) breakfast can help us shed pounds. Something about eating breakfast seems to stimulate the body to use calories. You truly are "breaking the fast" and taking your body into a mode of knowing there is abundance and so it doesn't have to hold on to the food you ate yesterday. Metabolism, serotonin, adrenaline and cortisol levels are all at their highest first thing in the morning--right when we get up.

What are the best foods to eat for breakfast? Lean protein and complex carbohydrates are the best, and include a small amount of good fat. They help reduce cravings and hunger throughout the day. The energy source (breakfast) allows your brain to eat when it needs to and gives it what it needs--without that good breakfast you will start to pull calories from your muscles. Not a good thing.

Don't eat breakfast--or eat the wrong foods--and your serotonin level drops which results in cravings for sweets. That's why so many people reach for the doughnuts mid morning.

This is really an important thing to keep in mind, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Halloween to Christmas Candy Land Mine

Mid-September used to be a time of year I simultaneously loved and dreaded. Halloween candy starts making its way out in the stores. I saw Christmas decorations in one store already.

It is official--we will be surrounded by chocolates and treats for at least the next 3 months. Then there is a short break while everyone makes New Year's resolutions to lose weight, followed by Valentine's Day candy.

This was the time of year when I could justify having candy in the house. For the trick-or-treater. Never mind that they wouldn't be at my door for another 6 weeks! If it is in the stores, they must be coming.

6 weeks of Halloween candy, followed by pumpkin bread, pie and cookies, followed by Christmas cookies and candy...it was a mine field all right!

I finally realized that the only person who was eating the candy was me. Surprise! And the truth was, I didn't enjoy it. Oh a couple of pieces maybe, but not the sackfuls I consumed. I didn't even get to have the guilty pleasure out of it--just the guilt!

I no longer buy vast amounts of candy for Halloween. Where I live now we get maybe two kids coming by all night. Not that that would stop me. When I lived in the the forest with virtually no neighbors, I still bought the trick-or-treaters candy.

Now, rather than the cheap kid candy, I now let myself have a piece or two of really good dark chocolate. That gives me a sense of indulgence and doesn't send me into a sugar spin. I can let myself have this treat pretty often and so I'm not feeling like I'm missing out, and I also get to keep dropping weight. Now that's a Christmas combo I can cheer about!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Handling Celebrations while Losing Weight

It is important to celebrate in life--achievements, family events, holidays--there are lots and lots of opportunities to celebrate.

For the person who is wanting to reduce their waistline, celebrations can be a big challenge because they usually revolve around food. Not involve food, revolve around food.

How do we survive these events? How about thrive through these events rather than just survive?

One crucial step is to be very conscious about what you are eating. Before, during and after the celebration.

Many times I have been to a celebration and "stuck to my diet", only to get home and eat the entire house. If not that day, within a week. Why? Because I felt deprived.

My philosophy is no food is off limits entirely. It is in my best health interests, long-term, to enjoy any food in small amounts, and to even pig out once in a while if I really want to. Because of this new outlook, I rarely feel the need to have the second piece of cake, or to sneak into the kitchen to grab a quick bite while no one is looking. I have given myself permission to eat--and so I feel much less the need to eat. And I'm very aware that there will be lots of opportunities to enjoy these and other foods later. No more "last bite" of anything!

When I am eating, I focus on enjoying the food.

The rest of the time I focus on the people. I make the celebration about the people I am with, not the food on the table.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Setting Weight Loss Goals Made Me Fat

Many people will tell you it is really important to set goals for your weight loss. Like most goal setting advocates, they say you should specify how much you will lose by what date.

I disagree. OK, maybe setting goals didn't make me fat, but setting them didn't make me weigh less, either.

My experience with specific weight loss goals is they don't inspire me. In fact, I have a long history of failed goals when it comes to losing weight and getting depressed because of them.

Weight loss is not an exact science and I found that to be the frustrating part.

Putting the pressure on myself to lose 5 or 10 pounds in a month has never worked. First of all, it feels like a diet. That immediately sets me off into deprivation!

When I focused on the pounds I did lots of things that weren't good for me.

For starters, I became obsessed with the number on the scale. Obsessed to the point I would weigh myself every day--sometimes more than once a day.

I also went into what I call "term paper mode"...you know, if the term paper is due in a month you don't have to start working on it the first week or two, right? So rather than changing my habits for the long haul, I was only focusing on the "due date"...not good.

Unlike school, where I could stay up all night and cram for the test or write that paper, no last minute study sessions would make up for the ice cream I ate earlier in the month because I had time to work it off. So, I became depressed, discouraged and ate more ice cream.

Thus a vicious cycle was created. I was frequently heavier at the end of my goal period than I was at the beginning. Maybe not the first 5 pound goal (although my goals were usually bigger than that) but once I met that goal I celebrated--with food--and set myself back.

My advice--DON'T set specific weight loss goals. To successfully lose weight and keep it off, requires a complete change in habits. Weight loss goals instill a sense of temporariness. Go for something more permanent!

Rather than have a specific number of pounds my goal is to be healthier every day. I make my decisions based on that single goal and that works for me. I'm down over 90 pounds, so I must be doing something right!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shrink Your Stomach

Can you really shrink your stomach? Yes! This was attested to by none other than Dr. Oz!

To do it, you have to change one habit--for about a month.

Reduce the amount of food you eat at each sitting. Typically we eat more than a serving of any food. That is why portion control is a key component to successful weight loss.

Portion control is not that hard to calculate--you carry a perfect tool with you all the time. Your hand is the ideal guide for all your servings. If you have bigger hands, you probably have a bigger bone and musculature structure. Smaller hands, your body is smaller. Most of us are pretty proportional in that way. Heck, it isn't an exact science, but it is much easier and less obvious than carrying a food scale around with you wherever you go!

Take a look at your hand. Make a fist. That is about the size of serving of carbs.

Open your hand and look at the palm--that is how big your piece of meat/fish/fowl should be.

I don't worry about my salad or vegetable portion size unless I'm at a restaurant. Then it is the sauces, butter and non-vegetable ingredients I look for. I don't like a lot of dressing on my salad (my preferences are lemon plain--I love the zesty fresh taste--or olive oil and vinegar) so I always ask for it on the side so I can control the quantity. I want to taste the vegetables not just the dressing.

Smaller servings lead to a smaller stomach which in turns leads to a smaller waist and overall body size!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Smaller Plates = Smaller Waists

This is an old tip, but it deserves to be recycled--use smaller plates and you will eat less. This can be especially helpful for those of us who are "members of the clean plate club" and worry about the starving children in Africa/China/wherever they are at the moment. Like my over eating is going to help them. Never did make sense.

I actually use my salad plates for most of my meals. Except, ironically, when I am having a salad for my meal. Then I usually use the dinner plate!

We tend to have the "Thanksgiving Dinner" syndrome--cover every inch of the plate surface, and pile it up high. Big plates allow for much bigger piles of food. Like we're never going to eat again. Or all we have to do after dinner is veg out in front of the television watching the big game.

That is not how real, day-to-day life is. We all have loads to do after our meals. Eating too much makes us feel sluggish. That's true whether or not we had turkey. It really is not the turkey that's the culprit--it is the amount of the turkey (and fixin's)!

Use smaller plates and then start to reduce the pile of food on the plate. Get to know the color of the plate, not just the rim, but in the middle, too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Diet Foods Don't Help with Weight Loss

My goal is to buy as minimally processed foods as possible. That means less packaging to be throw away or recycled, less raw materials used in making the packaging, and more pure foods going into my body.

Still, sometimes buying some packaged foods is necessary. Heck even salad comes in a package these days.

What I don't buy are packages labeled "diet" or "low fat" or "low carb". Even though these seem like the ideal foods for people wanting to lose weight be very wary of these and similar labels.

First and foremost, many foods that can actually make the low fat claims are actually high in sugar. Other dietetic products have ingredients that are not healthy for anyone--especially people who are restricting their calories. While it isn't 100% true, a little red flag goes off in my head if I can't pronounce the ingredients!

One of the biggest problems with low calorie foods is that although there may be "only" 100 calories in a serving, just how big is the serving. Most of us won't stop at only the 100 calories.

The advent of the individual lower calorie serving pack should help with that, right? Turns out that because most dieters eat for emotional reasons or because of "cues" rather than real hunger, they are more apt to eat MORE if they buy these small packages. They'll simply open more packages.

So not only are you eating more, you are paying more and you are using more resources to have the packaging produced! That is a lose-lose-lose situation. The only thing that isn't losing is your weight!

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Forbidden Foods

Rather than having a bunch of "forbidden foods"--something I used to do all the time--I now allow myself permission to eat anything that I truly want.

Rather than causing my weight to balloon out of control, I have found that I am actually losing weight with this philosophy.

I found that the forbidden foods were always the ones I loved best, the ones that gave me great pleasure to eat. Making them "off-limits" led to feelings of deprivation, resentment, restriction, discomfort, and sadness.

What was my behavior when I felt sad or resentful? Why, to eat, of course! I was setting myself up for an endless circle. Now when I ate as a result I would eat my favorites (the forbidden foods), naturally--I was also feeling guilty, weak, undisciplined, oh the list goes on and on.

This cycle of eating and feeling bad then led to either binging to push down the feelings or just quitting my diet altogether.

Now instead of having the hands-off list, I allow myself small joyful indulgences. This means that I savor the experience rather than stuffing my face with treats. While I allow myself to eat anything, I make an effort to be completely aware of what I am eating. Unconscious eating does not produce joy--maybe a sugar high, but not real joy.

This savoring gives me positive energy, feeling of abundance, freedom, comfort, satisfaction and empowerment.

These feelings lead to more healthy eating and activities. So now I have replaced a negative downward spiral with a positive, uplifting one!

I used to be afraid that by eating one bite of chocolate I would go crazy and not have any control over food. By letting go and taking off the negative labels I found that I don't go crazy and I have better control and am enjoying food and life more overall.

Which sounds better to you--feeling guilty, frustrated, weak and fat, or feeling happy, empowered and getting thinner? I'll take the latter every time!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Good Fats and Cholesterol

Lowering cholesterol is a great goal. Walking is definitely one component of that. Eating "good" fats regularly is another part of the equation.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are the "good guys". I've talked about getting them in through supplementation--and the importance of having a good quality supplement.

I was reading another blog that offered some tips on other ways to get Omega 3 that included an eye opener for me. I knew flax seed was good and I thought getting it ground would be great--and so convenient.

I read Wellness Tips from Dr Linda: Getting Omega 3 in Your Diet. After reading that post I will be grinding my own when I want flax seed! Okay, I'll get real...I'll just continue to eat my balanced diet and take a really good supplement!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Walking for Weight Loss, Part 3: lowering cholesterol

Not only is walking great for endurance and strength, it also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. So while we are trimming the waistline, we are also helping improve our health in these important areas.

You don't have to walk every day for this benefit--3-5 times per week will do it. Remember the guideline of brisk walking (you still want to be able to talk) and try some interval training by putting in short bursts.

In addition to all this, walking releases endorphins so you feel good, too.

Weight reduction, gaining in strength, lower cholesterol and blood pressure--and the feel good hormones, too? Now, who doesn't like that prognosis!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Walking for Weight Loss, Part 3: Why is walking good exercise

No matter what condition you are in, walking is a great form of exercise.

The costs are pretty minimal--be sure to invest in a good pair of shoes that fit your feet. That's about it. Well, other clothes are a plus, too!

When I was almost 300 pounds, walking was a lot more difficult for me. Now, at under 200 pounds I move around a lot more easily. But it all started with one foot and then the other.

Walking allows us to adjust our pace and distance based on our physical abilities. Being obese when I started walking, sometimes I couldn't make it very far. So I decided to take short walks around the block. A very short block.

I built up to several short walks a day. Still, very short. Then I noticed I could get the walk done a little faster. And I wasn't so tired.

It didn't take too long and I was able to go further. Now I really enjoy longer walks--but if time is getting short then I revert to the quick walk around the block.

Getting in better shape I can adapt my walking speed, carry weights and mix in some quick steps. For now a minute of quick walking at a time is good for me--a quick little sprint walk. Later I'll be able to do maybe 3 minutes of sprint walking. Sprinkled in with the longer walk.

The fancy term for this is interval training. Don't get too carried away with it, the goal is short spurts. It helps keep the body guessing!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Walking for Weight Loss, Part 2: Variety is Key

I regularly walk around my neighborhood. I have found a couple paths that I take on a regular basis.

By having a couple different routes that I know, I can mix it up and still know that I can make the walk, and I can make it in the time that I allow, give or take.

Some of the walks are a little bit longer. Others have more hills. Some take me by a favorite park or garden. I really like the variety that provides--helps keep me from getting bored.

I also like to mix up the time of day that I walk. That way I get to enjoy watching the kids getting ready for school one day and the sunset the next.

Heck, if I was going to do the same route all the time I could just be on a treadmill.

About once a week I like to take a special walk on a trail. I find that I get a different energy being out on a trail. And I love being able to see that I now can walk further on the trail then I used to -- or I can go faster, or more easily.

I have a favorite hiking trail that I frequent, but I have found some others. Just like the neighborhood routes it is good to have a variety.

These walks are reserved for days when I have more time, because I have the transit time to get there in addition to the actual walking time.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Walking for Weight Loss Part 3--why is walking a good choice no matter your fitness level

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Walking for Weight Loss Part I

Walking is one of the best exercises we can do. I'll talk about a few of my favorite ways to get my exercising in by walking--it can be as simple as a stroll around the block or it can be more involved.

My favorite thing about walking is that I can walk with one or more friends. We can actually have a conversation--it may involve a little heavy breathing (no, not that kind!) but if we can't talk at all, we know we are working it too hard. If we can chatter effortlessly, that's our cue to take it up a notch.

I have a favorite walking buddy and we are good at helping monitoring our pace and conversation. I know other people like to walk with a large group--I prefer that only for special events rather than my daily walk. With only one other person there isn't a lot of time spent coordinating schedules or waiting. We just put on our shoes and go!

Come back tomorrow and I'll talk about some special walks!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Food Journals Bring Awareness

Being aware of what you are eating now is key to being able to make small changes.

If you haven't already done this, get yourself a small notebook and do this exercise. Write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day. I mean everything. Every piece of gum and glass of water, too.

The goal is to bring a level of awareness to what you are putting in your mouth.

You won't have to write this journal forever. Commit to it for a two week period. Some people get so much out of this process they choose to continue it. For now, you don't have to decide that--just commit to two weeks.

This will give it enough time to cover a lot of unexpected events and emotions. I also suggest you write why you ate--it doesn't have to be a long explanation, a simple "lunch with friends", or "co-worker's birthday", or "felt depressed" will suffice. Especially write if there were physical or emotional triggers that caused you to eat.

This journaling period is not intended to restrict your eating. The point, again, is to bring to your consciousness what you really are eating and drinking. I remember the first time I did this I was SHOCKED to see just how many Oreo cookies I ate. I thought for sure someone else was eating most of the cookies. Nope, it was me.

By including the water you drink, you can also become aware of that habit and so you will know if you would be better off drinking more water in the future (most of us would be) or if you are already good at this habit.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cutting Calories in Small "Bites"

Sometimes when we decide we are going to drop a couple (or a lot) of pounds, we think we can do it overnight. Or that if we cut out a lot of calories all at once we will have greater success.

I've touched on this before, but it is so important to realize that the best thing we can do for ourselves and our bodies (and by example for our friends and family) is to make small changes that we can keep up!

Focus on cutting small amounts of calories out rather than reducing to 1200 or 1000 calories a day. It is much easier to do and be consistent with and the consistency is the key. Make it your goal to eat 100 fewer calories today and every day. It may not seem like much, but that 100 extra calories is what puts 10+ pounds on us every year.

By making small changes you barely miss what you cut out, so it is easy! Be gentle with yourself with this one and bump up the small changes over time. I know I didn't gain 100 pounds overnight, even though sometimes it sure felt like it!

Consistently making small changes you WILL see results. Seeing the results provides such a boost that you want to keep going.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Feeling Joy and Having an Ideal Body

Feeling joy is so important in our lives.

The feeling of joy leads to our best possible health, including having an ideal body.

If you are not feeling joyful about your body, it doesn't not preclude you from having an ideal body--as long as you are feeling joy about other things in your life and you are not "tipping the scales" towards feeling negative overall, you can achieve your goal.

The first step is to determine what it is you want in your life. Then break that into small bits that you can believe. If you affirm that you love your body and you don't, it isn't going to work.

If your ultimate goal is to have a slender body then what can you accept and affirm right this second that supports that ultimate goal? That is the place to start. Your affirmation may even be that you know other people have had a weight problem and have been able to have success therefore you know it is possible to do. (If this feels bad or you start beating yourself up because you haven't done it yet, then don't use that affirmation!)

Go for joy and when given a choice between two thoughts, decide which one feels better to you (not which one "should" you choose) and go for the one that brings you closer to joy!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More on Indulgences and Diet

So it is okay to indulge from time to time, but let's not overdo it. It is the overdoing that got us into "trouble" with our weight in the first place.

Overeating can wreck havoc with our bodies just like drinking too much alcohol. Typically we don't have some of the other complications that are true with too much booze--like impaired driving, for example, unless we are driving while eating then that would be a possibility, too!

Too much sugar, whether it is refined sugar, honey, or even natural sugars in fruits can cause health complications down the road. In the short term it can cause sleep disturbances and mood swings.

So if you choose to have your indulgence, see if you can do it with a small serving. You can always have more if you really want it. I try to wait at least 30 minutes after my treat before I have another. I know it takes me that long to really assimilate it in my mind and body. Then if I still want it after half an hour I'll allow myself a bit more. Typically I find that I no longer want that extra bit and because I only had a small serving in the first place my body is able to handle the bit of sugar.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Indulgence and Weight Loss

I have learned over the years that having little indulgences actually help me to lose weight.

Sometimes it is a "healthy" indulgence--which I think really depends on one's definition of healthy--such as extra fruits (because I love fruit), or a piece or two of good dark chocolate.

Sometimes the indulgence will be more, well, indulgent, like wine or beer or good bread. Still, not horrible for you in moderation.

Then there are the official "poison foods" that contain white sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup and all those other "sins" found in the grocery store. My favorite in this group is ice cream. I have a friend who loves canned cranberry sauce. Whatever the food is, even these can be indulgences that actually assist in dropping fat.

How can that be? Part of it is mental attitude--if by not having that special treat in moderation you are going to feel deprived, then down the road at some point a binge will come. When the binge hits, you will be worse off. The key is paying attention to how you feel about the food. And moderation, of course.

So if you love ice cream, like I do, then once in a while you should have it. There is nothing more depressing than being told (by yourself or someone else) that you can never have that again. If you love red rope licorice or french bread or canned cranberry sauce, let yourself have a little when you really want it.

By allowing yourself to have it, you are letting your subconscious know that it is a possibility. That permission alone helps reduce the cravings for it because it is no longer "forbidden fruit."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Mind as an Ally in Reaching Ideal Weight

Who can say "self-sabotage?" Just about everyone who has ever wanted to change the shape their body is in--whether that is to drop fat, gain muscle, increase endurance or some combination.

Self-sabotage is not an inevitability however. How do you combat it? By using the power of your mind in your favor.

One of my favorite ways of getting my mind to be my ally in my health journey (as opposed to my enemy) is to use affirmations. Sometimes my affirmations are about my body size or condition or physical appearance. Other times I will use affirmations about my health, or my level of energy. I also use affirmations about behaviors--either eating and/or those revolving around physical activity.

It is important when using affirmations to say ones that feel good to you. They don't have to be "true" (yet...they will be true if you keep it up!) but they can't feel bad. In other words, if you say "My body is slender and beautiful" and your inner voice is saying, "no it isn't, I'm fat and ugly" then it is time to try a different affirmation.

If I'm in that sort of negative mood, I consciously look for an affirmation that feels good (or at least better!) It might be "I have ample energy to go for a long walk this morning" or "I make healthy choices in selecting the food I eat today" or "I enjoy eating healthy food" or "I am open to improving my health every day."

It really comes down to how I feel--if I feel bad I tend to overeat. So my goal is to feel good and empowered in my health. I realize that the world is full of choices and I want to feel good about making decisions that support my health goals. Sometimes that means I will make the same choice over and over. That is how a new habit is made. Pretty reasonable, since to get fat I made the same unhealthy choice(s) over and over!