Emotional eating is one of issues that my clients struggle with the most and to say that it is near and dear to my heart would be an understatement.
I myself spent years of my life using food to fill a void that cannot be filled with food. Intellectually we know... Internal emptiness cannot be filled with external substances. It is through my own healing journey with food and body combined with years of exploring this subject and working with hundreds of clients that has allowed me to come to some deeper conclusions around this topic.
First, I think it is important to explain my personal thoughts on emotional eating. I don't think it's truly realistic to entirely separate emotion from food. We are emotional beings and to think that we could ever treat eating food as an entirely mechanical act that should be totally devoid of emotion is quite ridiculous in my opinion.
Historically... we celebrate with food, we experience community with food and for many of us, our very first experience of feeling love is through food and nourishment. So, through this framework, we can allow and accept our feelings and emotions around food. I think the key here is to be able to be aware of our emotional reality, to be able to manage our emotional process and to be able to participate in conscious choosing when it comes to food. It is when our choices are mindless or unconscious and turn into unwanted habits that we may feel we need to reach out for support.
From my perspective there are usually 3 types of causes of unwanted eating behaviors.
1. emotional/psychological - some internal driver like anxiety, stress, fear, boredom, loneliness
2. chemical - an addiction to food substances like sugar that create a dopamine effect in the body
3. environmental/cultural - our environment (culture/society) creates pressure for us to consume more
The first step to healing an unwanted behavior is to become aware of what is causing it. We must first ask ourselves, "what are the reasons that I am engaging in this habit" "when do I find myself doing this?" and "why?". Approaching the subject with a sense of curiosity can help remove the pressure and judgement that we so often self impose.
Once we have more clarity around the factors that are contributing to our own individual habits and reactions, we can begin to take steps to disentangle from the behavior and live in a more aware and intentional state of being. Journaling can be a very helpful tool in understanding any patterns you might be experiencing with food and lifestyle choices.
Above all, approach the subject with love and self-compassion. You are not alone and your perceived struggles with food and body are a doorway to a greater experience of life. You CAN have the relationship with food and body that you desire and I am here to help you if you need more support!
Sending love and light.
These are definitely the days of quick fixes and overnight success stories. Whether we're talking about losing weight, achieving financial success, getting fit or designing the life we dreamed of... why does it seem like some people have it so easy and for the rest of us... well we just feel like we got the short end of the stick and everything is so hard?!
A few examples...
While perusing your social media accounts, you scroll upon a picture that your good friend from high school posted. She's in a bikini standing on the beach in the Dominican Republic and she looks A.MAAZING. She's super fit with a huge glowing smile on her face and is basking in the sunshine. Is that a margarita in her hand? She looks to you like she is having the time of her life. Man, she must have lost like 20 lbs since you saw her just a couple of months ago! She's got abs for pete's sake!
Then, while out for lunch that day, you run into an old co-worker who has since left the company that you still work for. You notice she is driving a brand new car and when you ask her how things have been going since she left, she tells you that things are better than ever. She started her own business last year and has never been happier! She works from home a lot and gets to set her own schedule. She has time to take yoga classes in the morning and still pick her kids up from school at the end of the day. She exudes a newfound joy and looks way more vibrant than you ever remember seeing her at work.
It would seem by the examples above, that achieving some level of success in these areas was easy for these folks, right? I mean, they must have a secret strategy... or a magic pill... their lives are so different and so good, and seemingly overnight!
This. This is a problem in perspective. There have been many small things that had to change on a day to day basis for each of these individuals to achieve their goals. And since none of those incremental changes was visible to you, you might assume it came easy.
Now, keep in mind, I'm not saying that everyone has to have a rockin' body, time freedom, incredible energy and a new car to be happy... ;) I'm just saying that having the things that we want and reaching our goals (whatever they may be) takes work!
What is not visible to you is the 45 minutes of workouts that your high school friend did every single day for 6o days and the clean eating plan she implemented to lose the weight and gain her newfound energy and glow. You didn't see that she sacrificed her boozy Sunday brunches and TV time and instead opted for Sunday AM smoothies and fitness. You didn't know she gave up sugar and fried foods and started a food journal. You didn't see that she tracked her water consumption every day. All of this you didn't see.
As for your friend that started her own business... you didn't see her waking up at 5am to start strategizing her day. You also didn't see her when she was working at her kitchen table 'til well past midnight, designing and creating her website. You weren't privy to the countless calls she had with overseas product manufacturers or the multiple interviews with nannies to help her with the kids to give her just an ounce of free time in the now so that she could have loads of it in the long run. You didn't see the date nights she sacrificed with her husband or that they gave up eating out for a year to save money.
It makes total sense that we might assume that things should come easy. The messaging is all around us. Everywhere we go, advertisers are marketing to us, telling us that if we just buy their newest, greatest, cutting edge product or process, then we will be skinny, wealthy, fit, happy, etc.
Think about it. You arrive home from work, maybe you heat up some leftovers and turn on the TV. The commercials in between your favorite programs are telling you that for $19.99 you can have abs of steel, or for just $149.99 you can buy the real estate DVD program that is going to change your life by making you instantly successful with their secret proven system. Maybe you've seen the quick weight loss programs that ask for a monthly fee in exchange for a pill or processed packaged foods that are going fix your your weight problems by "taking the weight off and keeping it off"?!
Unfortunately, none of these claims is true. Reaching our goals takes work and having the life we want requires us to do the hard things, not only once, but over and over and over again. We must wake up from our walking sleep, reject the idea that things will be given to us and make the decision to do the work every single day.
So, I encourage you. Create a vision for what you want to have in your life and then create some goals and objectives that will get you there. Break those goals down into daily actions and then do them, every day. Wake up early, write the lists, get the workout in, change the eating habits, do the work.
I promise you that you will be happier in your own skin and prouder of you than you've ever been.
Here's to you discovering the small things you can do everyday to be the person you want to be.
As always, much love and light.
We are told again and again that “diets don’t work.” So for those of us that have weight loss goals… what are we supposed to do?
Let’s look at the idea of mindfulness, noticing the here and now without judgment, for a more sustainable way of breaking bad eating habits.
The word diet is defined as “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight”. Sparingly??? Why would we do that? Just by this definition, we know diets aren’t sustainable. They are a short term behavioral answer to a problem that may be more deeply rooted in long term conditioning and habits.
We learned how to make our food choices long before we ever made them. We received messages at a very young age from our family system about food and body. Combine those messages with expectations from media, physiologically addictive sugar and processed flours and a multi-billion dollar diet industry… and it’s no wonder we’re confused about how to support and nourish our bodies.
It’s completely possible to follow a very rigid calorie counting diet and lose 20 lbs in a few months. So what’s so bad about losing 20 pounds quickly on a rigid calorie counting diet? Most people eventually regain at least that much when they give up the diet.
Mindfulness is about creating a new lasting relationship with your eating, versus an old paradigm of counting calories and feeling guilt when we don’t “do it right”. And for those of us who feel that our willpower fails over and over, mindful eating is not about willpower. Rather than being about rigidity, mindful eating asks us to be aware of what we truly want and feel, and make a choice from that place.
It takes practice – not only to slow down and notice our food but to realize what aspects of our eating are tied up in emotions, habits, memories and family history... And then it takes practice to move from awareness to action.
In mindful eating exercises, we can take a single almond and study it – color, shape and smell – and then eat it with the same attention to detail. Practicing this exercise repeatedly with different foods increases our connection to our senses around food, and therefore our food choices. These mindfulness techniques also teach us to treat our bodies as worthy of care… worthy of different, and healthier choices for our bodies.
In a time when we eat in our cars, standing at the fridge and at the computer, developing an awareness of and enjoyment for nutritious food may not seem easy. What is possible to learn though, is that better choices are available to us, when we are in a state of awareness, tuned in.
By slowing down, we allow ourselves to put some space between our emotions and our reactive choices. Sometimes eating in response to emotions can be ok, with awareness. The problem is when it becomes chronic.
Another way to become more connected to our food choices is through the selection and cooking of our food. When we are engaging in this process, we are already giving ourselves a head-start toward mindful eating. We are already IN relationship with the food when we are selecting, holding it in our hands, purchasing it and preparing it to be consumed for nourishment.
When we eat mindfully, we eat more slowly. When we eat more slowly, we digest more efficiently and are also more aware of when we are becoming full… which is a sensation that can be missing from a rushed eating experience. We are also just able to purely enjoy the food more when we are present!
Food can become even more of a pleasurable experience when we are truly connected to its purpose in our lives. I invite you to begin to slow down, become conscious of your choices and to begin to see food as nourishment!
For many of us the Thanksgiving meal is the most welcomed meal of the year… and it’s also the meal that causes the most distress. From chaotic family dynamics to high calorie food favorites, it’s no wonder we end up feeling guilty! I'm sharing a few mindful steps to prevent post meal woes!
Most importantly, enjoy yourself and eachother! The Thanksgiving season is a time of year that reminds us to be present and grateful for all that we have.
Limitless love and gratitude!
Cravings. I believe we've all had them, and most of us have no idea where they come from or what to do when they come up. Do you feel like your decision making process has been stolen and you are a prisoner to those immediate desires? If so, you're not alone. Cravings are one of the most common yet misunderstood issues that come up with my clients. In order to overcome our cravings, we must first understand them. When your next craving pops up, follow my simple four step S.B.A.T. Model to create more awareness.
Food cravings are often just disguised emotions. Once we know what we are truly feeling and why, we can apply compassion and reason in order to work ourselves out of that space. Sometimes, you might still choose to eat the cookie, but now you’ll be doing so from a place of presence and awareness!
Love and Light!
Client: "I want to lose 20 lbs. I'm too heavy."
Me: "Ok, I hear and I honor your weight loss goal. How often do you weigh yourself?"
Client: "Every day. I need to know what I weigh, and if I am gaining or losing!"
Me: "How do you feel when you weigh yourself?"
Client: "I feel awful. If I've gained even a pound from one day to the next I have a horrible day.
Even if I see that I've lost a few pounds, it's never enough."
Me: "As we start this journey together, I would like you to try something new and different.
I would like for you to put away your scale for a while."
Weight (definition): a body's relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it, giving rise to a downward force; the heaviness of a person or thing.
Scale (definition): an instrument or machine for weighing
We are quite attached to weight and the scale... I hear about weight all of the time... from clients, friends, family members and the world at large. As a society, we believe that our weight has a direct correlation to our worth. We have arrived at a place in time, where we calculate our value based on the numeric value on our scale.
When did this happen? How did this happen? Platform scales were invented around 1830, and started to pop up at country fairs after the Civil War where a carney would attempt to guess your weight. At this time, weighing oneself was frivolous entertainment, not a daily requirement.
By the 1930s, we started to see ads for the “Health-O-Meter” and to increase sales, marketers began their agenda trying to make daily weighing an obligation… see below picture... "Health, beauty, success and happiness all depend on your weight!" And so it began.
In 1943 the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company published the first “ideal weight” tables and required people to register their weight to get insurance. Weight was on the road to being “medicalized.” Without the bathroom scale becoming a fixture in most homes – there couldn’t be a diet industry.
As scales invaded bathrooms nationwide, “obligation” evolved into obsession.
(Sources: 2012 MarketData; National Weight Control Registry; American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery; Jo Piazza, author of "Celebrity Inc.: How Famous People Make Money.")
Fact: On any given day, our weight can fluctuate up or down by up to 4 lbs due to sleep, fluid and sodium levels, activity level, stress and hormones! If this is the case, then weighing ourselves every day isn't even an accurate representation of our bodyweight!
Let's take our power back. Shall we?! You are not a number on a scale. You are a powerful spiritual being, that that gets to live in this amazing body... This amazing body that allows you to experience all that life and the world has to offer you.
You cannot grow and thrive and evolve as you were meant to, if you are focused on the weight of your body, from a place of self-criticism and denial as you wait for the day that the scale tells you... "You're okay".
Do we really want to give that mechanical instrument that much power over how we feel about ourselves?! When we fixate on arbitrary digits on a scale, instead of the incredible unique gifts that we have to share with the world, we minimize our worth and value and the worth and value of those around us.
I encourage us all to remove the judgement we have allowed to be placed on ourselves, derived from a plastic and glass device. Let's put our scales away and start to focus on what's important...
How do you feel in your body?
How is the health of your body?
Does your body support you in doing the things you want to do with your days?
These are the more relevant questions that lead us to the information we need to know to have the life and health and body we want to have. When we can remove the scale as the focal point of our happiness, we make room for a new, happier and healthier experience!
Is it possible to get more willpower?
The 10 million dollar question, contemplated at some point in life by virtually everyone on earth...
We have all been born with the capacity for willpower... but some of us use it more than others. Those of us who have better control of our attention, our emotions, and actions seem to be better off in almost every area of life we examine. These folks are happier and healthier. Their relationships are more satisfying and last longer. They make more money and go further in their careers. They are better able to manage stress, deal with conflict, and overcome adversity. They even live longer. It has even been proven that self control is a better predictor of academic success than intelligence. Makes sense now that you think about it, right?!
Historically, one of the most replicated findings in academic psychology and willpower research suggests that people who use their willpower, seem to run out of it. So, activities like choosing the salad over the cookie, controlling one's temper or making ourselves study instead of watching a movie... all of these tap the same source of strength, therefore leaving us with less of this power left over for completely unrelated challenges. Serious bummer. What has also been reflected in the studies, is that our willpower seems to decrease over the course of the day. So, these findings would have us believe that this "muscle" becomes exhausted from effort, and that basically... there's a finite amount of this power and once we use it up... it's curtains! Even more serious bummer! But stay with me...
What if we look at this muscle just like any other muscle in the body? Through exercise, we make our muscles stronger... So, can we train this "willpower muscle" too?!
Good news. YES! Research also shows that as we use our self control over time, this "workout" increases our willpower's strength and endurance. Yeah! As we make these new choices, the new behaviors become habitual and then the old temptations become less compelling and overwhelming.
So... uh, how the heck do we get more of it?
Let's reframe the Willpower topic into a three part model that we can work with. Will power, won't power and want power!
1. Won't Power - When you think of something that requires willpower, the first thing that probably comes to mind is some version of saying NO to something right? Resisting the temptation to eat the doughnut, the temptation to watch the next 3 episodes of reality tv instead of go to the gym, or to keep from spending your remaining paycheck on your favorite shopping website. So, this ability to say no... we'll call this Won't power.
2. Will Power - At some point, all those things you've been putting off? They've gotta get done. When you finally push past all the procrastination and anxiety... and access your Will power... This is the ability to do the thing you need to do, even when part of you really doesn't want to.
3. Want Power - So in order to say no when we need to say no, and yes when we need to say yes, we also need this last element... the ability to remember what it is that we really want so that we can choose in alignment with it. Example - even though we think in the moment that what we want is the expensive sweater we've been eyeing online... it will be important for us to know what we really want... which is maybe that end of the year trip we've been saving for ALL winter. We'll call this our Want power.
Very simply put... willpower is about harnessing these three powers... I will, I won’t, and I want. When we can see our own individual life's examples in one of these three categories, we can start to see more clearly and objectively, what momentary choices are in or out of alignment with the ultimate goal that we say we want.
By spending more time in conscious thought around these ideas, you are already increasing self awareness, which leads to more empowered decision making. It's also important to acknowledge that our decisions and choices are largely impacted by our sleep, our stress and our nutrition. When any of these areas is off kilter, we can expect to have lessened access to our willpower!
So, when those willpower challenges seem insurmountable, just remember that willpower is not an innate trait that you’re either born with or without - it's a mind-body connection and process that will respond positively to your conditioning. This means that we can most certainly take an active role in increasing our willpower!
So, it's about time! I have been fighting this blogging thing for long enough! What the heck has kept me from doing this? I could now cite a huge list of time-related reasons that all support my inability to blog until now... and while there are some legitimate schedule considerations... if I'm totally honest here, the reasons below are the real deal...
1. Do people actually want to hear other people's random rants? The answer is yes. It may not be my personality to throw it all out there all will nilly like, but the proof is in the pudding here. There are millions, if not billions of blogs out there. Everything from the latest green smoothie recipe, to how to be an excel spreadsheet wizard, to how build a home out of a shipping container, to the top smartphone apps that promise to make you smarter... truth be told, I'm skeptical of that last one, but who am I to judge?
2. There is a "RIGHT" way to blog... and I don't know what that right way is! I'm going to do it wrong. So this one might actually be true, lol. There are tons of people blogging, and I'm quite sure that the ones that have been doing it for a long time have discovered some angles and tricks that make their blogs more successful, or more interesting, and more "discoverable"...
What I've concluded though, is that I must heed my own advice. Interesting concept, eh? Yeah. So, one of the concepts that comes up a lot in my coaching with other people, is the idea that fear is the only thing that keeps us from doing anything... and I really do believe that. Whether it be old family conditioning from when we were young, or an event that happened in our lives that we created a story around... our lives are a product of the stories that exist in our consciousness. If these stories and beliefs limit us, then we have to take a look at where they came from and be willing to accept that they may not be serving us. Is it possible that I might be the world's next most famous blogger? It's possible... Is it possible that I might screw it up and not be interesting? It's possible... but more importantly I will never know what's possible, nor what this experience might have to teach me, if I stay on the side lines. What I do know, is that at any time, we can create a new story for ourselves and just...do the thing.
So. Today I choose to get in the game and not let my fear of "blog perfection" stand in my way of connecting through this vehicle!
A little intro... my background is in healthy eating education, eating psychology, mind/body nutrition and the science of willpower. Human behavior and health habits are fascinating to me, and I love helping people figure out why they might be doing something, helping them create the shifts necessary do something different and the practical implementation necessary to cement those thoughts into new actions and habits in everyday life. Wellness is something we have to claim for ourselves and I love helping people remember that!
So, in this space I promise:
1. I will always be honest.
2. I will always approach this blog with genuine interest in supporting you and your health.
3. I will always honor your comments and feedback as long as you are kind.
3. I will never post anything titled "How to lose 10 inches in 10 days" or similar.
4. Lastly, I promise that I will 'try' not to bombard you with pictures of my adorable Bernese Mtn Dog, Charlie. (this first one below is just a warm up... c'mon... everybody loves a giant fluffy dog!!!)
Thanks for reading! I am very open to your thoughts and comments and I really look forward to connecting!
Geez. This guy. For those of you that haven't seen this photo... We like to call this one The Superman... for obvious reasons.
Hi! I'm Margaret. My passion is connecting with people and helping them remember their awesomeness. I love healthy vibrant colorful food, travel, yoga, being outdoors, my goofy Bernese Mountain dog Charlie and finding spirituality in the everyday. I see this life as a giant playground where we get to play and learn and expand everyday! xoxo! Margaret