Monday, June 23, 2008

Be Yourself: Everyone Else is Taken

It does seem to me that more and more people are approaching at a new level of understanding. Despite all the confusing messages about what to eat and how to eat it, people seem to be recognizing some basic “truths”.

First is the fact that diets DO NOT work – in fact they CAUSE weight gain. They do this by enticing us with promises that are unrealistic. They say we will permanently shed pounds by depriving ourselves of food and consequently, fun. Then our bodies scream at us to feed them more because we do not feel satiated. Chances are we have not eaten enough of the foods we require to have the energy and zest we need to meet the demands of each day.

Emotionally we may feel sad and discouraged about how we have deprived ourselves and make up for that by eating double or triple the amounts and eating much more often. We then gain weight back and as each pound tips the scale, our feelings of guilt and shame grow in proportion to our waistlines. Of course, this leads us back to check in the refrigerator or cupboards for some little morsel to “take the edge off” our pain and we stay spinning in this cycle of deprivation…overeating…beating ourselves up… seeking food for comfort …gaining more weight and trying even harder to be “good” (no, “perfect”) dieters. These more fervent attempts to diet and drop 20 pounds in a weekend only reinforce our failure and cause more and more emotional eating and self-deprecating feelings.

It is clear that we do not have to exercise for hours a day at our local gym but that we do need to use our bodies and move them around every day. We can swim, walk, dance, bike, do chair exercises or whatever else pleases us. We can stretch our muscles gently with yoga postures or Tai Chi movements. We can appreciate the many ways our bodies serve us in every moment and stop beating them up or trying to force them into unrealistic shapes and sizes.

We are also beginning to understand the sleep/appetite connection. Much research has proven that lack of sleep causes an excess of ghrelin to be released in our bodies. This hormone causes an increase in appetite. Simultaneously, we slow down our production and release of leptin – the hormone which signals our brains that we are satiated. No wonder those of us who are always tired and dragging ourselves through life are eating our weight in sugar on a regular basis!

Please interpret this information as permission to slow down and to relax more. We live in a high tech, fast paced world where we can never go fast enough. Remember, this increased stress causes the release of cortisol in our bodies and this increases our appetite dramatically... caffeine also causes leaps in our cortisol levels (not to mention its contribution to sleep deprivation). I think people are getting this message.

My hope is that folks are recognizing that life is about a lot more than being thin. Thankfully, being healthy tops the list these days for many of us Chew Tamers. As the obesity epidemic in our country and worldwide grows, I like to think that a parallel movement is underway. This is the time for all of us to work towards greater energy, vibrant health, and body sizes that support our efforts to enjoy the experiences life brings to us every day. We can learn to accept ourselves no matter what size or shape we are at this time. We can find and embrace opportunities for self improvement every day. We are all works in progress moving towards our ideal state of radiant health. And remember, you are never alone. We are all on this journey together!

And, in the meantime, as a bumper sticker I saw once reminded me…”Be yourself! Everyone else is taken!”

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Would You Like To Ask Me?

Thanks for joining me on my Chew Tamers' Blog. PLease drop me a note and let me know how you like it and what issues you would like me to address. As emotional eating expert and author of The Taming of the Chew, I have worked with thousands of folks who struggle with food control issues. It is a long and often disheartening battle and I am here to help! I would love to hear from you!

You will find new posts on my blog weekly. I will share strategies you can employ to feel better – physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually and to lose weight if that is your goal. Reading these brief notes will help you to reaffirm your personal commitment to health. Remember, being healthy does not necessarily mean being thin, or wealthy or even wise -- nor does it mean being perfect at all times. Each of us is on our own path to radiant health. Each of us aspires to feeling happy and calm and to living our lives with zest and energy but each of our paths is unique. We may all seek similar things but how each of us finds health and happiness will be different.

We want to feel well but how to achieve this goal can be confusing. Each of us is bombarded daily by messages telling us what to eat, what to do, how to be beautiful and how to live every aspect of our lives. My philosophy is different. Rather than looking outside of yourself to figure out how to be, look within. I believe that you know way down inside of yourself, what to do and how to be. You may not know, however, how to listen to your own inner voice of wisdom. I will share ways to listen and to hear that little voice deep within.

In this blog I will offer many ideas to you. I will give you the information you need to make informed choices about your physical, emotional and spiritual health. I will shed light on some of the reasons we often choose self-destructive behaviors and I hope to inspire you to take your health and well being seriously.

Please make yourself your number one priority. No one else will be there to take care of your needs. You have to pay attention to your own feelings and then decide what you need. This is your job, no one else’s. Most of us grew up without the unconditional love that every child deserves. Our parents were often too busy, too tired, too self-absorbed, too young, too stressed or too something to give us all the love, attention and care we needed. In this way, we learned that our needs are not important.

Well. They are. The past is whatever it was and the time to move beyond it and to begin taking action is now. I will provide an opportunity for you to reflect and to look at the progress you are making as you move along your own, unique path to radiant health and a life of joy.

Thanks for joining me! – Be well!

Monday, June 9, 2008

What's Your Commitment?

What’s Your Commitment?

Having been emotional eating expert for many years I have had the opportunity to speak with thousands of people who sincerely profess their desire to stop overeating, to take better care of themselves and to finally create the body they have been wishing for – a body that is radiantly healthy, slender and attractive. These desires are expressed with passion and power and are often dramatic. It is clear that they have suffered and worked hard and made many heroic attempts to lose those extra pounds that are keeping them unhappy and frustrated. Attempts at weight loss, however, are never easy and often end not only in failure but also in creation of a higher number on the scale and even more pounds to lose.

With so many people struggling and working hard to overcome overeating why is the success rate so small? One reason is that the intentions, however sincere, must be followed by true dedication and often are not. Let me explain: If you want to accomplish anything, you have to dedicate yourself to it and make a full commitment. Parenting is a good example of this. When you have a child, you make a commitment to caring for it. You don’t make decisions all day long about whether or not you will parent. You just DO it because you have committed yourself to doing so. If you are running a race you must commit to that to do well. If with every step you are thinking about whether or not you will take the next step, you will certainly turn back and fail when the going becomes challenging.

People who have achieved greatness, mountain climbers for example, have done so by committing themselves to the task at hand. Can you imagine setting off to climb Mount Everest and spending each hour of your climb debating whether or not to turn around and give up? No! To reach the summit you have to set your focus there, keep it there and remain true to your vision of achieving your goal. So here is the good news and the bad.

The news is that in order to accomplish your goal of vibrant health, the body you aspire to and creation of a life of joy, you have to make a firm commitment to doing so. This is both the bad and the good news. You can choose it to be either. On the “good” side, it is possible to achieve your goal. On the “bad” side it will take work. Did you think you could lose weight and achieve the body you desire with no effort? If you did then consider this a wake-up call and start now deciding what you want to commit to. You can acheive greatness!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Healthy, Happy Summer Travels

Most of us will travel in some fashion over the summer and some of us realize the importance of making and checking lists ahead of time. We may make packing lists, lists of items we need to take along and lists of things to do when we reach our destination. Some more organized people even have lists of lists! But many of us neglect to consult the most vital list of all – our self-care list. We are complex beings and must attend to ourselves – physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and environmentally to have a healthy trip free from emotional eating and our usual reactions to stress.

Life is stressful. We are always on the go and trying to meet the needs of others while balancing the often-difficult demands of our personal lives. When we find ourselves away from our homes, on the road, eating airport snacks and sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings. We often get out of sorts. We may not have opportunities to exercise and we may have to deal with delays, plan changes and set backs.

Before you head out the door, pack a self-care checklist to review before your departure. Attending to your needs on all levels will insure consistent health and balance. You will look better, feel better, radiate higher energy and have a lot more fun on your vacation!

Following is my personal checklist.

Physically: Have I been eating well, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats, sugar and simple carbohydrates as often as possible and eating good amounts of protein every few hours? Have I packed healthy snacks to take along, like cheese, nuts and fruit? Do I have my I-pod and earphones for music and my neck pillow for my comfort? Am I well hydrated, drinking at least 64 ounces of pure water each day? Have I been keeping regular bedtime hours, getting a sufficient amount of quality sleep? Am I keeping moderate exercise a priority in my life?

Emotionally: Have I been attending to my feelings and expressing myself appropriately; not holding in feelings or stuffing them down with unhealthy foods? Have I really been taking time to nurture myself? When was the last time I truly relaxed? I bring a journal along with me. This provides a place to vent or explore my feelings. Writing down how I feel can be very helpful. Clearing myself emotionally means I can better attend to the tasks at hand. I am less distracted or preoccupied.

Socially: Have I been spending time with positive people that I enjoy being with? Am I having fun? Am I paying enough attention to my relationships? Do I stay well connected so I don’t find myself isolated and lonely? Do I apportion my time with others with the alone time I need to stay balanced?

Spiritually: Have I been taking quiet time for myself? Do I spend time every day praying, meditating or just sitting and quietly breathing? Do I remind myself often to stay in the present rather than worry about the future or hang on to difficulties from the past?

Environmentally: Have I brought what I need to set up a comfortable environment in my hotel room (perhaps a favorite photo, bath oil, small scented candle or incense)? I bring along my down pillow that I put into a compression sack. This fits easily into my suitcase and ensures that I will get a good night’s sleep.

Whether on or off the road, it is essential to take gentle care of ourselves. The busier we are, the more we need to do this. Only by paying attention to our own needs, can we best serve the needs of others. I wish you happy travels and radiant health!