Archive for Food/Nutrition

JUST MAKE IT BETTER

A client of mine, let’s call her Cindy, has been struggling to eat healthier. In the past, she’s gone on several diets and like most people, was only successful in the short run. In Cindy’s case, being on a diet reflexively makes her feel denied, which is never a good thing.  Since I hate diets, we are creating new plan, which includes a different way of thinking about food. Our plan is called: JUST MAKE IT BETTER

JUST MAKE IT BETTER means you get to eat foods that you love but have to “doctor” iStock-1131794876.t5d482e40.m800.xtDADj9SvTVFjzuNeGuNUUGY4tm5d6UGU5tkKM0s3iPk-620x342them up to make the meal healthier. For example, if you love chicken Parmesan from your local pizzeria, instead of eating the whole portion, cut it into thirds. Eat 1/3 with a giant salad. Eat 1/3 with bowl of broccoli. Eat the last 1/3 with a bunch of raw fruits and vegetables. I would  rather Cindy eat a small portion of food that makes her feel satisfied, than eating something she doesn’t like but chooses it only because it’s “healthy”.  That strategy never works.

JUST MAKE IT BETTER can look like this:

Instead of eating two pieces of white toast with jam for breakfast, change it to one slice whole-grain toast, and add some avocado slices and/or an egg.

Instead of eating 2-3 slices of pizza, have one small slice with a large salad or veggies.

Instead of eating a large carton of greasy Chinese food, get a small container along with a large container of steamed veggies. Mix ½ of the small with all of the large and you have just made your meal a heck of a lot better!

JUST MAKE IT BETTER gives you freedom to stay clear of feeling denied. You can have fun being creative. You can slowly include more and more fruits and vegetables and swap out most processed foods. If you do it slowly and have an open mind, you might find this way of eating a perfect plan for you, too. You don’t have to overthink…..you have to JUST MAKE IT BETTER!

 

 

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KEEP CALM AND JINGLE ON

If you are reading this blog it means that you have survived Thanksgiving. Congratulations! It also means that we are officially embedded in the holiday season. This translates into more exposure to treats, parties, treats, stress, treats, crowds, treats, shopping, treats, family, treats, chaos.

It is so easy to get caught up in all of the holiday eating. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that January 1st is right around the corner so you’ll rein it in then. It’s not. It’s a full month away and you can do damage in 30 days if you’re not careful.  I’ve seen this pattern with many of my clients: The holidays bring a few extra pounds that, come January, don’t come off. This is not a problem if it weren’t recurring. However, several years down the road, you might find yourself shocked to be 10-15 pounds heavier. This weight gain is sneaky!

While it will be harder to eat healthier during this time, you can do it. Thanksgiving keep_calm_and_jingle_rustic_holiday_party_invite-r1ec2da3de3334414b7f618dae591eb41_6gd4r_140.jpgwas just one meal. One party is just one party. Christmas dinner is just one dinner. If you are more vigilant at your very next meal, you will walk away from the holiday season unscathed.

Many of my clients find that they eat healthier when exercising consistently. This holiday season, JINGLE ON! (Think of it as the holiday word for exercise.) If you keep calm with your holiday eating and jingle on, you won’t be stuck feeling overwhelmed in January!

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CAN’T GET STARTED? BE CURIOUS!

Many people come to see me wanting to lose weight. (I would love for people to focus, instead, on being healthy, but that’s a topic for another blog.) In most cases, the greatest obvious nutrition obstacle is the time needed to plan, prepare and prep. Even if you’re not cooking a lot, eating healthily still requires having a plan and executing one takes time. My clients and I also talk about the fundamentals needed to be successful, which include:

  • Paying attention to hunger and satiety
  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Trying to eat as many whole foods possible. (Or, trying to eat as little processed food as possible.)
  • Having healthy snacks on hand
  • Watching the amount of unhealthy carbs consumed
  • Moving your body as much as possible

Then, we proceed to the specifics of their life—their lifestyle, their food preferences, their willingness to cook, their family unit, their work, how social they are, and how much time they are willing to dedicate to good nutrition. All of these will factor into creating the right plan for them. Since we are all different, no two plans will be identical.  Once armed with some structure, many people do very well. And many don’t.

If you are stuck and can’t seem to get started, I want you to be curious. Curiosity is a IMG_1275positive!  Unlike self-deprecation, curiosity keeps your mind open. It makes you take a closer look at your behavior, without judgment, so that you can unpack WHY you act (or not) in a certain way. Often times there is a less-obvious obstacle preventing you from achieving your goals. Being curious might uncover something much bigger—something deeper, that you need to address.

A client of mine wanted to lose weight and so we had several discussions and created a plan. When she got stuck, she became curious. And after some painful introspection, she realized that the underlying issue was that she had to  start focusing on her social life (or lack of one). It was much easier for her to zoom in on weight loss—she kept convincing herself that losing weight would be the answer to all of her problems. Once she uncovered this, she was able to address her deep-rooted issue, which was far more important than simply losing some weight.

From my experience, the worst thing that you can do for your mental sanity is to keep starting something, not being able to maintain it, and stopping. This is so damaging and deflating to your sense of well-being. In this blog, I used the example of weight loss but it applies to anything in your life that you keep starting and stopping: exercise, cooking, meditation, making time for yourself, reading more, learning something new, spending more time with loved ones, etc. Instead of yo-yo-ing, take a breath, stop and be curious. Be a detective so that you can uncover the deeper, hidden issue. You will then be better able to tackle your obstacles once and for all!

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THE SNOWBALL EFFECT

Isn’t it crazy how bad habits, even when kept at bay for a long time, come back? I imagine a knock at the door, opening it and saying “Hello bad habit, welcome back!” Often times one bad habit leads to another. I see this all the time with exercise and clean eating. I’m not sure which one comes first but either a lack of exercise causes a decrease in motivation to eat well, or not eating healthily leads to inactivity. This becomes a snowball effect which is “a situation in which something increases in size or download.jpgimportance at a faster and faster rate” (Cambridge Dictionary). The good news is, the snowball effect can work for you.

A year ago, a new client, “Margot”, came to see me. Margot was in her mid-sixties and not in the best shape. In fact, she wanted me to train her in order to build up her leg muscles so that she could eventually have her knee(s) replaced. Margot was unconditioned. I wasn’t sure how we would get through the first session but we did. Slowly but surely, Margot started making some progress. As she got stronger, she started to do more activities on her own. Her walks around the block with her dog grew longer; her short stints of swimming at her local pool increased. The more she did on her own, the stronger she became, and the more she was able to do with me. All of this exercise and movement motivated Margot to eat healthier. She started paying more attention to her diet and began cooking. She lost weight, felt more energetic and this allowed her to become even more active. A year later, we are both stunned at what she can do. There is no talk of a knee replacement. While I understand physiologically what is happening to her body, I still find her transformation to be nothing short of miraculous. Often times, in our sessions, we  giggle when she is able to do yet another more challenging exercise.

In Margot’s case, the snowball effect is at work in the most positive way. I can visualize the snowball traveling down a hill, getting bigger and gaining momentum. It’s all so glorious when it’s working for you.

If you’re stuck in a rut, have no fear. Focus on one small change and stick to it. That small change can lead to another, and then another and before you know it, you, too,  might find yourself in a wondrous snowball effect!

 

 

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THE DETRIMENT OF DIETING

Many of you know how I feel about diets: I HATE THEM. I know this is a strong statement but I would feel differently if they worked. They don’t. In fact, chronic images.pngdieting wreaks havoc on your psyche and on your body. Emotionally, unsuccessful dieting can make you feel like a failure, full or shame and self-hatred, and/or utterly frustrated. Physically, chronic yo-yo dieting can slow down your metabolism. In addition, it can change your body composition leaving you with more fat and less muscle.

Here’s another huge problem with dieting: You become so focused on the rules of the diet that you lose the  connection that you have with your body. You learn to accept feeling hungry, cutting out food groups, or eating foods that you don’t really enjoy. This is not conducive for long-term success.

A client of mine, let’s call her Jane, has been a chronic dieter her whole life. She’s a woman in her mid-forties, who came to me because she wanted to lose weight. After talking with her and understanding her long diet history, I knew she was looking for me to solve the problem. She would have been ecstatic if I handed her a sheet of paper, telling her exactly what to eat. In essence, she was looking for another diet.

I had to set Jane straight. I wanted her focus NOT to be dieting or weight loss but on other factors that were keeping her from losing weight—her real barriers. One of Jane’s barriers was her erratic work schedule. Often, she would go for long periods of time without food. By the time she had a break, she was “starving”, so naturally, when she sat down to eat, she ate too much and too much of the wrong foods.  However, when Jane’s work was more predictable, her eating was mindful and healthy. She had time to shop, prep and cook. Most importantly, she had time to figure out when she felt hungry (and not starving) and when she had enough (satiety). This is what mindful eating is all about.

My strategy for Jane was to have her armed and ready for the erratic days. She had to make sure she had healthy snacks, like fruit and nuts, to keep that “starving feeling” at bay. She is starting to see how this is making a big difference rather than following a strict diet, feeling strangulated with restrictions, and then  throwing in the towel because it’s just too hard. I am encouraging her to focus on her body to see what it’s telling her and to act accordingly.  In her case it means that she can’t ignore the hunger. This is a long-term strategy rather than, in the short-term,  counting calories on an app, and ignoring her body’s signals.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE:  If you want to lose weight, and have not been successful, DO NOT try another diet.  Instead, try a DIFFERENT approach: Take the focus OFF of weight loss and look for the underlying barriers that are sabotaging your progress.

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