Author Archives: mmval777

An Emotional Pattern Leading to Overeating

For some reason, every day when I get home from work, I reach for sweets and carbs. It’s like my body is on autopilot.  Same with after I have dinner, I reach for sweets. Yes, there are times when this doesn’t occur, but it’s when I’m traveling, have an event or not in my normal routine.

After taking the time to dig into this pattern, I realized it started during childhood.  My mother did this exact behavior every night after getting home from work.  For her, it was Saltines and butter (not appealing to me at all).  She would come home, break out the Saltines and slap butter on them while at the counter and just eat and talk.  My father was busy working so it was me who got to hear about the trials and tribulations which occurred that day.   The transference of not only the emotions she experienced, but the behaviors of ‘letting go’ and eating stuck with me for years to come.

When I want to relax after being at work all day, I come home and mindlessly eat sweets or carbs to feel better immediately. The problem is this pattern has become so ingrained in my being that it’s now 30 years later and I’m still doing it. I’m aware of the pattern and have tried stopping it, but I know now that it goes deeper and is going to take practice replacing this pattern with something different, something healthy.  It’s not just the behavior, but the automatic thoughts that precede the behavior which I want to address.

In the past, I would impose discipline and willpower through a diet which would work for a short time, but it crept back into my habits.   Before kids, I would go to the gym and that helped but now, it’s not an option. I then tried to eliminate the behavior and that didn’t work because I was missing the ‘outlet’ of changing my state after coming home from work. All of these were tactics which didn’t last because I never addressed the underlying cause.  Why does this happen? What emotions am I feeling? Why am I not feeling the emotions and dealing with them?

Today, I have come to the conclusion the key here is feeling the emotions as they come up and when reaching for food, consciously think about what I’m craving, notice why I’m craving the food and if needed, to sit down and eat the food mindfully while asking questions like, “Is this what I really need right now? Am I satisfied? Am I still hungry?” which will change how the food is consumed.  Bringing light into the emotional pattern is the key here.  I know it will help to uncover why I’m doing it and when that happens, then it will be easier to replace this habit with a healthier one.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

How Life Can Interfere with Eating

One of the things I’ve been working on is mindful eating or intuitive eating.  When I make the food myself, sit down at the table, thank the food and eat it without distractions it’s a different experience. It also includes taking the time to actually taste the food and enjoy the food. When I do, the meal is much more pleasurable.

The key is having the time. While in the day to day bustle of a full time job, running around going to various activities, it’s an accomplishment when we can sit down as a family to enjoy a healthy meal.  What I am doing now to maximize my time is to plan menus ahead and cook or prep dinners ahead.  Sometimes it’s worked out very well and other times I’ve come home and the food I had planned to make went bad because I waited too many days to make it. But I’m learning new techniques as I go which helps.

Another focus is understanding where I am emotionally and psychologically from day to day. For the days I’m in a good mood and high energy, I’ll do well to take my time and it feels great. However, when I’m not feeling the best (like when BFF is visiting) or it was a stressful day at work, I’m less likely to take the time to do anything.  In fact, I find myself reaching for food to ‘relax’ which is not the best choice to change my emotional state.

It happened this past week. I had some incredible moments of remaining present, preparing meals ahead and taking the time to enjoy them.  It was awesome!  However, there were other moments where I rushed, didn’t really taste the food and went searching for more because I felt I ‘needed’ it.  The good news is I’m fully aware and can specifically point out the different times this happened.

One of the things I did not do this past week was exercise.  Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I started yoga again last week and because of BFF, I talked myself out of doing it this week.  It seems as though my ego does a great job ‘coddling’ me when BFF is here. Honestly, it’s not doing me any favors and I realize it.

But, i’m committed to this journey of becoming aware of these unhealthy patterns of behavior I learned over the years.  I know it takes time to change but it can be done and there’s no rush.  I feel so much better emotionally than I’ve ever felt in my life. I feel stronger, more peaceful and I experience joy all the time now.  It’s not situational or dependent on others.  It’s just an overall sense of peace and joy and that’s the best of all. I’m on my way and I feel it every day.

 

New Year, New You!

This is the mantra I’m seeing all over the place these days.  It’s a time of resolutions where I will typically write down goals for the year.  However, again this year, I only have 4. They feel doable and not overwhelming. In the past, I would write 20 goals and it was ridiculous.  Thankfully, wisdom comes with age.

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Mostly because I’ve been doing some self-reflection on my life. Last year, as you know, I went off sugar for 3 straight months. It was fantastic! I felt great, lost a lot of weight and was doing well.  Then I started in the on the sugar again and it all came back. That’s when I decided, enough is a enough.  I am done with diets.  They work, don’t get me wrong, but they are not sustainable for me.   Yes, not eating sugar and flour is fantastic for your health and if you stay off it, you’d probably be in the best shape of your life.  The problem for us emotional eaters, is that there are emotions involved and because they can be pretty strong, it’s not that simple.  I have always believed in the 80/20 rule and decided, it’s time I apply it to all aspects of my life.

I want to live my life, not be so focused on my weight. This topic has taken the majority of my brain power too long and for too many years.  I want to enjoy my life. To do that, I have to give up this obsession with losing weight.  Instead, how about feeling good now.  In the past, I would get anxious thinking about doing that because does it mean I don’t care? How could I be perceived as not caring? I look in the mirror everyday.  But that’s just it, I am caring about myself if I’m focused on being happy.  If I’m happy, I’m more likely to take care of my body and enjoy myself along the way…

What’s better than that?

Let’s Listen to our Bodies!

Lately, I’ve been listening and reading a lot about health, psychology and wellness.  This is what I do in my free time because I love the subject so much and I’m one to look at all angles and ask, “What makes the most sense?”

There is so much information out there, most of it garbage.  It’s no wonder our society has no idea what to believe about food, health and wellness. One day you’ll hear, ‘Eggs are bad for you, too much cholesterol’.  The other day, I just saw in a magazine an article about how eggs are good for you and the old premise was debunked.  Go figure!

All these years I’ve been following diets and dieting advice. Eat dairy, don’t eat dairy. Eat meat, don’t eat meat.  Eat grains, don’t eat grains.  The list goes on and on.  Then people get into the minutia to say, well you can eat this fruit but not that fruit because its high on the glycemic index.  Whew, to keep up with all this is a full time job and honestly, I’ve turned in my resignation.

We have, as a society, become so obsessed with this stuff that the average person doesn’t know what to believe.  And this is where I had to say, enough is enough. It’s time to get back to basics. What is our body telling us? Have we ever stopped to think about that? When was the last time, you actually sat down without distractions to eat and felt your body signals? Did you feel when it was telling you it was full? How about when it was telling you the food you ate didn’t agree with you?  I can honestly say because I believed and followed these ‘programs’ for so many years, it brought me SO far away from trusting my own instincts that I don’t even know what my body is telling me.  I have relied on diet programs to tell me. That’s honestly quite pathetic.

It’s time we take our power back. It’s time we start to really learn to listen to ourselves, trust ourselves and our bodies. These bodies are amazing, they heal themselves if you remove all the resistance and negative thinking.  If a body can heal itself from cancer, can’t we trust it to tell us how to eat?

Focus on Happiness To Feel Happy NOW

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.  I really good friend passed away and it was difficult. She was just 44 years old.  I didn’t blog because I took the time to remember the good times with my friend and how much I’ll miss her. I also took time to reflect on my life and how important it is to keep myself happy and healthy.  That includes how we think, how we view ourselves and what we say to ourselves on a daily basis.  That is the true predictor of good health. Depending on how you think, determines how you feel and how your body reacts.  I’ve known this all along but I’ve always been focused on dieting, eating, and exercise.  Of course, those elements are all important, BUT if my thought life is not loving and positive, none of those things will ever come together.

I already started focusing in this area, but now, I’ve decided, that’s going to be where my energy is going to flow full time.  My goal is to create a reality for myself that keeps me happy. This means letting go of all those things that do not make me happy.  It also means shifting my thinking towards thoughts of happiness.  What good is it to tell myself I’m unhappy with my body? Is that going to change my body? No, it’s going to keep me where I am or worse.  How do I know this?? Ah, because it’s been over 40 years of this thinking that hasn’t change anything. What I have been doing has not worked.  This is why diets don’t work either. Why not instead, declare how I want to see myself now? This will immediately make me feel better about myself and it will also move my body to align with my thinking.

You hear many teachers say, thoughts become things.  Well if I want to create a positive life, then I have to start thinking about this positive life now.  In the past, my psychology was, “When I have an amazing body, then I’ll live my life.”  Pathetic, but true. I would ‘punish’ myself by not buying clothes until I lost weight or not going on trips because I was embarrassed with my body.  This is all nonsense and kept me in this circle of unhappiness.

If I want to feel happy now, then I have to start doing those things which make me happy. For me, it’s being outside in nature, biking, walking, hiking, reading etc.  I love being outside.  Given this, I’ve done everything I can to start planning more and more activities to be outside and I have to say, I am happier for it.  Last week was tough emotionally, but to counter those thoughts of sadness, I kept telling myself, it was okay to feel sad and I’m going to be okay.  I then planned an outdoor biking trip with my family for the holiday weekend and it was amazing.  I was extremely happy.  Talk about a turnaround. In the past, I would wallow in my sadness for weeks. This would lead to overeating, negative self talk and I would miserable for a while.  Who does that serve? No one. Would that bring my friend back? No. Would it make me feel better? No.

This is the life I used to live. Instead, I am purposely choosing to change because I know, I can live a happy life now regardless of my current circumstances and that’s what I’m going to do. Do you want to join me?

Can I Eat Sugar Again? Ever?

This past week was pretty busy. I had a lot going on at home with school starting, I still have family in town and work.  I wasn’t on top of my eating as much as I wanted to be but I didn’t go crazy either. I had a birthday which was a lot of fun.  And, drum roll please…. I had a child size cup of my favorite ice cream!! Yes, I did, I admit it. I debated for days whether I should or shouldn’t but in the end, I decided to have it.  It had been over 80 days being off sugar, flour and corn.  I thought to myself, can I eat sugar again? Ever? I thought about it for a long time, but let me tell you, that ice cream was the best ice cream I have ever had! When I was done, I didn’t have any urge to eat more and I still haven’t had the urge to eat ice cream since. I went back to eating the way I have been and it’s like nothing happened.

I was hesitant to do it, because in the past, I had situations where I abstained from sugar/flour and when I ate it again, I overate it for weeks on end.  This time, I felt so different. I was thankful for having some but I didn’t go overboard and I was okay.  It felt amazing. I now know my approach to health is changing. I can have the control and freedom to decide without my body dictating what to eat because of serious cravings.  It’s a such a relief to feel this way and I’m grateful.

When I was on previous programs, I would eat foods I liked making sure I kept within my calories for the day. Of course, I didn’t pick vegetables and lean proteins. No, I was picking things like low fat ice cream, bars and mostly processed foods. It wouldn’t fill me up and I can’t say I was healthy either.  The difference this time, is that I am eating more protein and veggies then I ever have and I can physically feel the difference. I’m not craving, I’m not having the afternoon crash nor the evening pull to grab Ben & Jerry’s. This time around, I stop eating when I’m done.  That type of self-control is what I’ve been searching for all my life!

I was reading a comment on someone’s blog the other day and this guy kept saying overweight people should take responsibility, stop overeating because it’s all their fault.  Here’s my response to that type of comment: I agree, we have to take responsibility and our power back to address our health. That is true.  However, there is a physical component (read Salt Sugar Fat: Michael Moss) that has to be addressed as well. I’ve heard people say it takes 3 days to rid yourself of sugar cravings. I can tell you from experience that once you do remove the physical component, then you feel more confident about making a difference in your health.  It’s because you are not feeling those physical cravings that cause failure so quickly when on most diets.  I believe when you restrict your calories but yet still eat sugar and processed foods, you remain very hungry and those feelings of deprivation set in.

If you are a sugar addict like I was, getting off completely for just 6-8 weeks clears your body of those toxins and cravings. You start to feel so much better and your mind works better too. When you are in this clearer state, you can start to change how you think about your health and food.  It’s not about a diet, it’s about starting to look at your health differently. You know yourself better than anyone. You know what foods you crave and are ‘trigger’ foods for you. If sugar is a trigger, getting off is going to be a whole new world to you. It’s going to show you how sugar affects your body and how those cravings cause overeating.  Once you remove the physical component, it’s much easier to eat healthier. It’s much easier to focus on exercise because you feel differently.

Some believe moderation is not possible and others think it is. Only you can decide what works for you. For me, if I continue eating the majority of the time, natural, whole foods and occasionally (like on special occasions like it’s meant to be eaten) have treats, I believe it doesn’t have to throw me into a tail spin. Because I already established good habits to keep me on track, I can go immediately back to those habits.  I don’t expect to be 100% perfect (that was the old me) but how about 75-80%? I think that is definitely possible!

 

 

3 Things I Have to Do to Prevent Overeating

Over the years, I have learned a lot about myself and my eating habits.  Some of them are good habits and of course some are not so good. I’ve been working to replace them for some time. So far, I discovered there are 3 things I have to do to prevent overeating. If I do these 3 things consistently, I will continue to build belief in myself while moving towards living a healthier life.

1.  Prepare, Prepare, Prepare:  This I cannot stress enough.  It is so important I spend the time to plan menus and prep food ahead of time, typically on Sundays so I’m ready for the work week. If not, then I’m leaving things to chance. I don’t know about you, but when I come home from work to my family, I’m tired and usually mentally drained.  When I’m in that state, I do not make good food choices. Instead, I’m saying, ‘Let’s order out!” and that leads to an overeating frenzy.  I just discovered ‘Organize Yourself Skinny” and I have to say, I love Tammy’s ideas and planning methods to make life easier even when you have a family.  Freezer cooking is brilliant, check it out!

2.  Eat all the food planned:  This one is interesting. When I was dieting, I used to try and eat foods within my calorie range that I enjoyed rather than focusing on eating the healthy foods I needed to sustain hunger and nourish my body.  This strategy often kept me starving because the foods I was picking (ice cream and cookies) did nothing for me nutritionally and I was constantly searching for more food. Probably why I failed consistently. I have learned, I have to stick to eating what I planned to eat because I picked those foods ahead of time for a reason. When I do eat them (think 4 oz chicken, 2 cups cooked veggies, 1 c brown rice), I’m full and am not hungry for a long time.  It also helps with sugar cravings, an added bonus!

3.  Eat every 3-4 hours:  This is huge for me. In the past, I would not eat much for breakfast because I wasn’t hungry. I then ate a small lunch instead of eating what I planned (see #2) and when I got home from work, I was famished.  This set me up for a binge. I have to eat every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar steady and my body functioning optimally. Otherwise, it’s a roller coaster. As a result, I’m shoveling food in trying to make up for the day.  This was never a good idea and had to consciously break this cycle if I wanted to become healthier.

These are 3 small things I know I have to do to prevent overeating. I’m sure I’ll be learning more along the way, but these have come up several times recently and I wanted to share them with you.  Have you learned things about yourself that you need to do to be successful on this journey? If so, please share…

 

Lies We Tell Ourselves

This week, I had to come clean about lies I’ve been telling myself and find out why this happens. So I did some research and came up with some interesting information.  I particular liked what Joyce Marter, LCPC says in “We All Lie to Ourselves: How to Stop, By Joyce Marter, LCPC

In the article, Joyce points out four reasons why we lie to ourselves. Here’s the one I wanted to focus on today:

  • Minimizing how much we eat to preserve our eating addiction ***   

This is the one that hits home. Over the years, I told myself often I could eat sugar in moderation and would ‘downplay’ how much I truly ate in order to ‘allow’ myself to eat more. I know that sounds strange, but it’s the truth. I can see now, I wanted to preserve my addiction to sugar because I loved it so much. I felt I needed it all the time (and when I say all the time, I’m talking at ever meal)! It was a defensive mechanism (self-preservation) so I didn’t have to face reality that I lacked self-control in this area.  It’s not easy to admit to this fact, but it’s the truth and I wanted to share the truth with you today.

While choosing to avoid sugar, I found something else that’s been causing some cravings. Real Peanut Butter (the natural, no sugar kind). In the past, I’ve never really had an issue with Peanut Butter, until now.

Peanut Butter

I keep telling myself I can have a little in moderation because I’m not eating sugar, flour or corn at the moment (self-justification).  I can have one treat, why not? But I’m noticing that I’m eating way more then I should.  I have to realize, this is going to hurt my efforts if I continue without setting limits on myself.   I haven’t done well with setting limits on food in the past.  I find myself eating more than I should, not sticking to the amount I agreed upon earlier in the day.   Is this a lie I’m telling myself, that I can eat more than what I planned? Definitely! How do we stop lying to ourselves? Joyce suggests we start by:

  • Examining those areas of our lives which are hurting us  — doing that through this blog post.
  • Continue to engage with people we trust — talking with BFFs.
  • Feel the negative emotions, talk through them and practice allowing them to dissipate — Redirect emotions towards something positive and consciously forgiving myself.
  • Focus on connecting to our inner self, and doing a gut check, are our thoughts, behaviors and words in alignment? — am what I’m thinking, saying and doing in alignment – I would say no because I’m thinking I can ‘handle’ the peanut butter and yet I’m not controling the portions.
  • Do our best to always be honest — It’s time to face the facts that I need to either control the portions or not eat the peanut butter.

As we all progress through this journey, it’s important to recognize and address those lies we tell ourselves in order to begin the healing process.  If we don’t, we’ll continue to spin and become frustrated, beat ourselves up and not reach our goals.  Have you lied to yourself about your eating habits?  If so, what are some examples?


5 Ways Helplessness Kept Me Stuck

Helplessness is a common emotion we feel while on the journey towards the perfect weight. When I was going through the yo-yo phase of my life, I would be successful for a while and then it would all come crashing down when I gained the weight back, plus a whole lot more. It was frustrating.  After a while, I easily slipped into the habit of feeling sorry for myself and helpless because I couldn’t figure out why in this part of my life, I was failing.

Little did I realize I was approaching it all wrong. Instead of focusing on losing weight, I needed to focus on finding health. This is so much more positive. Losing weight ultimately is easy but keeping it off can be a struggle. And if we keep ‘losing weight’ as our focus, then we will continue to attract having to ‘lose weight’.  My attitude about my weight became helpless and hopeless.  I carried this attitude around for a long time and lead to feeling stuck, not wanting to take care of myself, and avoiding public places.

We all have a choice, whether we believe it or not. We can chose not to wallow in this state but instead make small changes to feel good all the time. So today, I wanted to share with you 5 ways it kept me there and how if I stayed there, it would have seriously crippled my ability to move forward in this journey if I let it.

  1. It kept me in a bad mood:  When I continued to focus on how I wasn’t losing weight, or I was eating out of control, it kept me angry. Angry at myself and the world. I would blame others, feel sorry for myself and say things like, “Nothing works!“. This mentality didn’t serve me, my family or those I interacted with on a daily basis. Instead, people avoided me because they weren’t sure what mood they would find me in that day.  I often lashed out because I was unhappy and felt the world was out to get me.
  2. It created low self-esteem (and reinforced it):  As a result of feeling sorry for myself all the time, I didn’t feel successful at anything. Even though it was only one area of my life where results were not evident (being overweight), it carried over into all areas of my life and I felt I was struggling all the time.  Low self-esteem creates this cycle of thought which says, “Why bother trying if I’m going to fail again.” I sat in this state for a long time and it impacted everything.
  3. It kept me from making progress:  Because I didn’t feel good about myself and I was angry, I didn’t bother trying.  I would have bursts where I would write down goals to achieve but I didn’t follow through.  Progress is critical, especially small steps, but I wasn’t even doing that. Again, I wallowed in my self-pity and it was difficult to see clearly hence I was stuck for a long time reinforcing the low self-esteem and bad mood.
  4. I lost focus on what was important in my life:  When I prayed back then, it was more of ‘duty’ and my focus was so much on my life and how things were not happening for me, I lost sight on what I did have and what was important like family and helping others. My time was dominated on myself and of course, that kept me down.
  5. I was a negative role model to those within my circle of influence:  My negative behavior started impacting those around me, especially my son. At the time, I didn’t think of it because I was too wrapped up in my own mind which was tragic.  However, I started to see patterns of behavior in my son which were similar to mine (overeating at night, having desert daily, hiding food etc.). It hurt me.  I believe that was what sparked me to change. My love for him was more than I had for myself and I knew I had to do something to change it.

All of these patterns were hurting me more and more.  I later came to the realization, I had to choose to get myself out of these patterns. And I did. I was able to change how I felt immediately. Yes, it wasn’t always easy because I felt like I was pushing upstream (initially that’s what it feels like). But once I started to make it a deliberate habit, I started to notice changes in how I felt on a daily basis.   5 Ways Helplessness Kept Me Stuck

If you knew you had a choice to either be helpless or happy, which one would you choose?

60 Days off Sugar and Flour

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s been 60 Days!! It has flown by. In that time, I have learned a lot about myself and new habits I’ve picked up along the way that when continued, will keep me healthy.  It’s been an interesting ride and I feel better than I’ve felt in years.  But I know I can feel even better and that’s what keeps me going forward.

The biggest change, I no longer experience that underlying ‘anxiety’ (for lack of a better word) on a daily basis.  This anxiety was background noise that continued to hinder my ability to focus and move forward.  It feels so nice to be able to relax and just enjoy the moment.  Enjoying the moment is something I’m not used to doing. I tended to focus on the future.  “It will be better when this happens…” was my mantra instead of saying, “I’m enjoying the moment right now.”  It’s a shift in thinking.  Because I no longer experience the ‘anxiousness’ feeling, I have room in my brain, to calm down and focus on what’s important.

The other word that comes to mind is ‘freedom’.  Those who are or have been addicted to sugar and flour know what I’m talking about.  It’s that feeling of needing sugar/flour to feel better and the days are focused on the next meal to the point where it almost becomes an obsession.  In these last 60 days, those feelings have disappeared and I’m amazed!  I didn’t realize how strong they were until I began this journey and documented the changes.  The sad part is when I was in the middle of it, I accepted it as normal because I didn’t have any other frame of reference.  I just assumed I was doomed to feel that way for life.  Now I realize, it never has to be that way and I’m so grateful to have experienced this now.  But like I said earlier, I know it can get even better!  60 Days off Sugar and Flour

Lastly, one of the learnings I’ve had along the way was my focus. In the past, my focus has always been on how to lose weight and keep it off. That’s why I tried so many diets and worked out excessively. Losing weight was the focus because that’s what I thought would work and what other women were doing.  The result was failed diets and a cycle of weight loss/weight gain that threw my whole body out of whack.  As a result, I grew more and more hopeless because I thought I had tried everything to lose weight but wasn’t able to sustain it. Little did I know, I was focused on the wrong thing!! If we want our society to be healthy, why are we studying disease?? Why not focus on health? Same with weight, why are we focusing so much on losing weight instead of focusing on living a healthy life?  Focusing on losing weight has lead to extreme dieting, eating disorders and even death.  Obviously, this is the wrong approach. I was focused on it for 20 years and still wasn’t successful.  What’s wrong with that picture?

The focus has to be on living a healthy life by eating the right foods, performing enjoyable exercise (which isn’t a chore) and being kind to myself. To me, that’s a healthy life, it’s also freedom.  It all comes down to the thoughts we think.  By choosing healthy thoughts, I can continue to feel good no matter what’s happening around me.  That’s the key to happiness, freedom and peace. That’s the life I want to live and if this is a glimpse into that life, I can’t wait to see more of it!    60 Days off Sugar and Flour