Tag Archives: healthy eating

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.

 

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…

 

The Ups and Downs of this Journey

It’s been an interesting few weeks. I contracted a cold, which I haven’t had in years.  My skin all of the sudden became inflamed and itchy.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I have been eating well for over 50 days now and yet for some reason, these things appeared. I’m thinking my body is just ridding itself of toxins, but I’m not sure.  My focus these past couple of weeks has been on getting better and healing.

Last week, we went on a road trip.  Eating out required planning ahead and looking online at menus to decide which would be the best choices.  Overall, I did well.  However, when I got home, we went out for dinner one night and while I ordered fish, I also ordered sweet potato fries. I know it was because I waited too long to eat and I didn’t plan ahead. One big learning, if I wait too long I feel vulnerable to the negative thoughts of giving up. In this case, I had the thought, I want sweet potato friends and I’m going to eat them. Because I was hungry and tired, these thoughts were strong and prevailed over my ‘logical self’.

The next day, I got back on track and started eating what I planned for the day and I felt much better about it. But lately, I have been craving carbs and that’s a sign the sugar is calling.  It’s important to keep moving forward and continuing to plan ahead the healthy foods I’m going to eat. I also plan to pick out some interesting recipes I can look forward to eating so I don’t get bored eating the same things every day.

 

 

I continue to learn about myself, habits and how my body works.  I do well planning ahead instead of leaving it up to circumstances where I’m more likely to binge on unhealthy foods.  I’m so grateful though that I’m not overeating or have the ‘urge’ to overeat in the afternoons and at night. Even after eating the sweet potato fries, it didn’t set me up to binge on sugar and flour. It was easy to regroup which is a different then what I’ve experienced in the past. Typically, I would go off and binge for days.

One thing I’m exploring is my thoughts and focus throughout this journey.  I believe no matter what, if I focus on health and being at the perfect weight, things will change. Instead of focusing on ‘good vs. bad’ foods and focusing more on health, I believe my life with change dramatically. I’m testing the theory out now.  In the past, my focus has always been ‘losing weight’ and I’m not sure if that was the right focus.  I think now, it’s more about health.  More to come on this as I go through this journey. For now, I’m thankful I could share with you these experiences that are evolving me as a person while also transforming how I approach health and wellness.

5 Things That’s Changed Since Being Off Sugar & Flour

It’s been 39 days off sugar and flour and there are some significant changes I’ve witness so far I wanted to share with you.  It amazes me how fast these changes have occurred.

  1. Improved sleep – 2 months ago I was complaining about my sleep.  I just couldn’t get comfortable at night and sleeping through the night was rare.  At times, I found myself waking up abruptly (which may have been sleep apnea) and I snored.  For the past few weeks, I haven’t woken myself up and sleeping has been much more comfortable.  I can’t believe how much better I’ve been feeling during the day because I had a decent night of sleep.
  2. Self-control – this is an interesting one. I’ve blogged in the past how much I’ve been very hard on myself repeatedly about not controlling my eating in the afternoons and at night. These last few weeks have been eye-opening.  I haven’t felt a physical craving since the first week.  The biggest test was when I spent hours decorating my son’s birthday cake (cake was a huge trigger food for me) and not one thing went into my mouth.  I didn’t even have one urge to take a bite! Unheard of in the past!
  3. Clear & focused thinking – I blogged about a time at work where I had to give a big presentation and rocked it. Now this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary but in the last few years, I’ve noticed differences with my memory and quick thinking.  It never seemed an issue in the past, but I couldn’t deny it was slowly impacting things in my life and it started to bother me more and more.  Today, I’m remembering things and can quickly focus on tasks rather then feeling ‘all over the place’.
  4. Calmer disposition – This one follows the one above because I believe having focus and clarity leads to a calmer life.  I can’t tell you how much I experienced anxiety over stupid stuff (not getting somewhere on time, etc).  I noticed a dramatic change just the other day when a ‘stressful’ situation came up, I was able to take a moment to think clearly instead of impulsively taking action.  Even my family noticed this change!
  5. More energy – Finally, I definitely have more energy to do things. I have been up later and doing more then ever.  Typically, I would zone out after dinner on the couch with ice cream. Now I’m getting ready for the next day, cooking a full dinner or finishing things on my ‘to do’ list. It feels nice to have the energy to get things done instead of having them linger.  A huge plus as I move into this next month.

Overall, I can say this has been the best experience for me. I feel so much better.  Have I lost weight? Yes, but it’s more than that. Having self-control is the most liberating.  Feeling better about my focus and thoughts helps too.  I’m not saying there are going to be tough times, in fact I was just talking to a friend about traveling this weekend and making sure I prepare ahead because eating on the road has been an issue for me in the past.

Losing weight in our society is not easy.  We are hit constantly by food ads and fast food places, it’s overwhelming.  It takes time and effort to be healthy.  But my decision to do this for myself is a priority and there isn’t any other way but to take the time and effort to plan ahead.  Next week will be good test to see how I do on the road. More to come!

 

Progress Fuels Motivation

Progress Fuels Motivation.  It’s been 18 days since I’ve eaten any sugar or flour.  It feels good. The first 10 days were tough. I had headaches, pains and strange things going on with my body. Although now, I feel a lot better.  If I drink caffeine though, I don’t sleep as well and I can feel it the next day.  I’m still somewhat tired in the afternoons but I don’t experience the typical sugar crash which leads to eating carbs or sugar.  I’m not experiencing cravings either which feels great. The key for me is I have to eat all that I planned to eat for the day otherwise I’m hungry and that’s when I can get into trouble.

Yes, I’ve lost about 7 lbs so far and there have been a couple of people at work mentioning it to me which I was surprised given it’s not really dramatic, yet.  Their compliments made my day and it feels good physically as well.

However, here’s what really hit me hard.  Yesterday, I had to present to ~80 ppl.  Typically, these types of events cause me to stress beforehand to the point where I can’t focus on anything else. But yesterday, I prepared ahead, went through the presentation material and felt really good. What really made such an impact on me was my brain. We’ve all heard a poor nutritional diet causes brain-fog, and I was the poster child for this symptom for years. I’ve had brain fog for a while but it didn’t really impact much when I was younger so I didn’t think it was a big deal (a.k.a. I was in denial).

I knew I was smart, but there would be times where neurons weren’t firing correctly and I wasn’t thinking fast enough to articulate what I needed to say. It was frustrating but I brushed it off because it wasn’t such an issue then.  However, after hitting 40, I noticed it more and more. As a result, I started not trusting my ability to articulate or think clearly. I know that sounds crazy but it’s the truth. I was very hard on myself and I knew deep down inside it was related to my poor diet of sugar and processed foods. I didn’t want to admit it because I was so addicted to those foods and didn’t want to give them up. In the meantime, my self worth was going down fast because I wasn’t processing mentally like I used to and yet I was denying the truth. It’s like a car that ages and if you continue to abuse it by not servicing it, going for oil changes or using the correct octane of gas, it deteriorates slowly.  You don’t notice because it’s slow, until one day when it breaks down.  It’s the same thing with our bodies. Most of us don’t focus on it until the doctor comes to give a diagnosis and we’re sitting there saying, ‘How did this happen?’ when in reality, we know what caused it.  Years of abusing our bodies.

Yesterday proved to me yet another reason why eating a healthy diet is so important (not that I didn’t know this already, but actually ‘KNOWING’ it is something different).   I was confident going into the presentation.  Thoughts came to me easily, I felt comfortable about what I was saying and honestly, those in the audience could feel it. I received a lot of positive feedback afterwards and it was exhilarating! I knew at that moment, this is why I’m taking the time and the effort to clean up my diet. I spent 20 years eating garbage and it’s going to take time to heal this body, but I now know this is right track.

I’ve done so many diets, so many fads and failed consistently because of cravings and deprivation.  I cannot say I’m deprived now because I eat more food then I ever have in the past.  I haven’t experienced cravings which caused me to fail in the past.  I’m also listening to lectures and books on why sugar and flour is causing the ‘diabesity’ in our country and it keeps me motivated.

I will continue with preparing ahead of time, creating menus and prepping foods for the week ahead.  It takes work, but it also takes work to think when you’re brain isn’t operating at full throttle, it takes work to get in and out of a car when you’re severely overweight. It takes work to walk up stairs.  I provided a lot of excuses as to why I continued down the unhealthy path, ‘It’s too hard.’ ‘I’m too tired (my favorite one).’ or ‘I’ll do it next week.’ These were all helpless/hopeless lies I told myself to feel better, to justify why I couldn’t do it. Honestly, I can say, if you have help, you can do it. If you don’t have friends or family support, hire someone to help you or start a support group at your local library which is free, to create that support for yourself.

I strive to be the example we can all live a happy, healthy life if we take the time and effort to move forward and refuse to give up.

Making my health a priority

It’s been an interesting week.  BFF is here and on time as usual. It explains my emotional roller coaster last week.  I’m on day 11 not eating sugar or flour.  I feel okay but it’s hard to say how much it’s impacted my health because it’s so early.  I’m not experiencing physical hunger. The food I’m eating (whole grains, veggies, lean protein) keeps me satisfied for the day. I was feeling very tired yesterday and believe its because of BFF right now and why I ate some ‘Mary Gone Crackers’ (flax crackers) last night.  I didn’t have it planned but it satisfied the ‘crunch’ that I was looking for all day.  I’m wondering if those types of cravings eventually disappear with time.

Time – that’s the key.  It took me 20 years to get to this point, I know it’s going to take time to get used to eating this way for the rest of my life and ultimately ‘reset’ my body to where it’s supposed to be.  I may have to give up caffeine but I’m not doing it just yet. I have made a huge shift and I think if I add another major one it will add too much at once. It’s going to have to wait until I get used to this initial shift first . But, I noticed when I drink caffeine, my skin gets agitated.  It’s got to be the acid. I’ll look to drink decaf at some point. However, for now, I’m going to continue to be aware of what’s going on with my body.  I have lost some weight, although I feel bloated this week because of BFF, but overall I feel good.

For so long, I’ve been ‘waiting’ for the right time to ‘work on my health’. It’s funny because back in 2011, I made a major move to ‘work on my health’.  But I never realized it had to start with my mind. I was so unaware back then (and it’s only been a few years). I thought for sure I would figure out what I needed to do to lose weight, but what happened was so much more and for that I’m eternally grateful. I learned about my mind and my feelings and how they are connected. I learned how my thinking was causing my current reality.  If I never learned all of that, I wouldn’t be where I am today which is facing reality as to why I’m overweight, how it began, how my thinking and resulting behaviors contributed to an unhealthy body.  If I didn’t gain that knowledge, I would be on another diet again, failing and wondering why I’m gaining and losing the same 10 lbs when I have over 50 to lose.

This is the focus in my life right now. Everything else is on the periphery. I’m okay with that because I have been wanting to focus just on this and yet, things seemed to get in the way. Not this time. I’ve got weight to lose and a body to transform. I cannot do that when distracted with so many other things in my life.  Of course, those distraction were cause by me making those other things a priority over the true priority which is my health. I also know, doing this will help me achieve one of my other goals – being a role model for my son which I believe is going to be the case as I go through this transformation.