How to Abandon Your Closet Eating Ways

The Reality…
Closet eating is the act of intentionally eating in solitude the unhealthy foods that are keeping you overweight so that others will not judge what you are putting in your body.  While some overweight people freely consume whatever they desire in front of friends and family, closet eaters feel an unbearable shame in their eating choices and prefer to secretly indulge.  Closet eaters tend to eat healthy foods in front of others, so it may seem to friends and family that their weight challenge must be something outside their control since they seem to be doing all the right things to maintain a healthy weight.  But in reality, they are consuming a lot of unhealthy foods in private that keep them overweight. 
The Challenge…
I had a roommate once who was very overweight.  We routinely made healthy meals together, and also exercised and took walks together, all in an effort to help them lose weight and get healthy.  Nothing seemed to work.  The roommate seemed genuinely confused about why they weren’t losing weight with all the healthy eating and exercise.  They speculated that perhaps some sort of hormonal imbalance was preventing them from losing weight.  One day I found a McDonald’s bag in the outside garbage can and it all made sense to me.  My roommate finally confessed that every time they were in the car alone, they would stop at McDonalds and indulge lots of unhealthy calories in the form of fast food.  Mystery solved.  Our efforts at healthy eating and exercise never stood a chance against the frequent stops at McDonalds.
In the case of my roommate, who was a classic stress eater, there was so much shame involved in the inability to stop overeating that they decided to take it on the “down low.”  What my roommate didn’t understand was that the shame they were feeling about unhealthy eating was just a feeling that came from a thought, and that thought was thought with such repetition, that it eventually became a belief system about weakness and shame and no possibility of every having a healthy body.  Once your mindset becomes fully entrenched in this type of thinking, the results achieved are not too hard to predict. 
The Solution…
The only solution anyone can legitimately offer to someone who is indulges in closet eating is that they must change their thinking about all the factors that are leading them to closet eat:  for example, the thoughts that are making them feel shame and fear of judgment about the unhealthy foods they want to eat, the thoughts that are making them believe it is better to be secretive about unhealthy eating than to make conscious choices to eat healthy and lose weight, and the thoughts that lead them to feel that the indulgence in unhealthy foods is the only thing that will make them feel better about “whatever”.  The starting point for the closet eater to abandon their closet eating ways is to identify what they are thinking when they make the decision to indulge.  Once the closet eater has identified the thoughts they are thinking at the moment they make the decision to go through the drive-through at McDonalds, for example, they can then work toward changing their thoughts and belief systems from disempowering thoughts that are causing them to closet eat and stay overweight to empowering thoughts that will cause them to eat healthy and lose weight.

The bottom line is you implement different strategies to make closet eating less convenient, such as making a commitment to yourself only to eat with others, but the truth is as soon as you are alone and craving you will be right back speaking into the box at McDonalds unless your change your thinking!

The Invitation….
I would love your feedback on this blog or any questions as a comment below! 
   
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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The Sugar Seduction & How to Stay Strong

The Reality…
Have you ever met a guy who was so sweet in the beginning of the relationship?  He lured you in with his charm and sweet talk.  You quickly got used to that feeling he gave you and found yourself craving him morning, noon and night.  However, before too long, you weren’t feeling so good at all.  The original sweetness that drew you in had turned into something very unhealthy.  Yet despite how unhealthy it was, you found it very hard to walk away.
THAT KIND OF GUY IS JUST LIKE SUGAR! 
The Challenge…

As is the case with matters of the heart, it can be very challenging to resist the delicious feelings sugar gives us, even after we experience its ill effects and understand intellectually its harm from a health and wellness perspective.  Sugar (and love….and sex) have an addictive quality to them because of the large amount of dopamine that gets pumped into our systems when we are under the influence.  So, understand when you are feeling this way about sugar (or love, or sex), you’re not necessarily crazy or stupid or undisciplined.  It’s your biological predisposition.  You and your brain (the one sending you messages that you’re going to die if you don’t have the sugar…or the love) are operating exactly as designed since both food and sex are necessary to our survival as a species.  When you engage in behavior the brain perceives as necessary for survival, you experience a release of the “feel good” hormone dopamine, which causes the sensation of pleasure, happiness and satisfaction.  The brain’s whole idea is to get you hooked so that you survive, and it seems to work quite nicely.

The tricky part about sugar is that it can lead to changes in dopamine receptors, meaning that a tolerance for it develops and more of the dopamine-inducing substance is needed to get the sought after feel-good feeling.  In some cases, there is a decreased ability to get pleasure from other substances and experiences, so sugar can seem like your only source of pleasure and the only thing that will satisfy you. 

The Solution…

While I would recommend a complete and immediate elimination from your life of the guy described above, I recommend a slower approach with the sugar following the steps below:

  1. Evaluation – Since many of us eat on auto-pilot and aren’t really sure what we have put in our body by the end of the week, it may be useful to spend a week or so evaluating when, how much and under what circumstances you are indulging in the sugar.  This means you have at least an extra week during this evaluation period to carry on your love affair with the sugar, so enjoy it while you can because getting as much sugar as possible out of your diet is fundamental to weight loss and maintaining a healthy body.  During the evaluation period, also notice the content of the food you are consuming.  There are lots of foods that are less obvious about their sugar content.  For instance, you may not feel you are consuming a lot of sugar when you have a shrimp cocktail or a plate of pasta and sauce, but you can consume your entire recommended amount of added sugar in one sitting with a generous portion of either of those options.  Use the evaluation period to really understand how much sugar you consume on a weekly basis, so you can decide which sources of sugar you would prefer to cut from your diet.  For instance, if you’re not ready for an abrupt break up with desserts, you may instead choose to eliminate spaghetti sauce or soda from your diet.
  2. Reduction Plan – Based upon the evaluation of your sugar intake, you should plan to reduce your sugar intake by 50 percent.  You get to decide what sugars you will eliminate.  I personally started with my coffee, and eliminated the sugar I had routinely added to each cup.  I also noticed that I ate dessert far more often than I realized, so I limited myself to 2 desserts per week.  Wine is another option I see with many of my weight loss clients.  Cutting back on the amount wine consumed during the week is beneficial to many factors that impact weight loss, including sugar intake.
  3. Decide Whether to Eat in Moderation or Eliminate Completely – The more slowly you tackle the reduction of sugar from your diet, the less painful it will be.  If you are in the habit of consuming large quantities of sugar, you will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and crankiness when you reduce sugar intake.  It’s up to you whether you attempt to achieve your weight loss goals while continuing to consume a reduced portion of sugar, or whether you decide to eliminate sugar all together.  I still indulge from time to time, but the truth is once I reduced my sugar intake drastically it seemed my taste buds were reset and when I do enjoy a sugary dessert now, it doesn’t taste near as good as I remembering it tasting in the past. For that reason, sugar is no longer able to seduce me into violating my commitment to myself to stay healthy and fit.
The Invitation….
Please leave me feedback on this blog or any questions as a comment below! 
   
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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Four Steps to Creating a Healthier Life Balance

The Reality…
I previously posted a blog featuring ten tips to reduce stress — stress being one of the three components of the Weight Loss formula I advocate.  (If you missed it, click here to read Ten Tips to Manage Stress.)
One of the tips I offered to reduce stress was to examine how you spend your time and incorporate more balance into your life.  
 
Life balance is one of my favorite topics!  
 
I love this topic because I used to be really, really bad at juggling. Mastering the juggle was key to my current level of happiness and fulfillment.
In fact, I love the topic of mastering the juggle and life balance so much I decided to hold a multi-day retreat to help women master this important topic.  It’s called a Life Box Retreat, and it will dive deep into everything I discovered about the process of mastering life balance in my personal journey.
For more information on the Life Box Retreat, please click here!  The guest list will be limited to 5 women only, and I hope you will consider joining the women who have already made the investment in themselves to be there.
So, balancing the competing areas of your life definitely requires some strong juggling skills, and I can honestly say that most people I know have definitely NOT mastered the art of the juggle.
Have you??
Do you find that when you’re thriving in one area of your life, the other areas seem to suffer a little…or a lot?  Do you get stressed out because of all the competing demands and find yourself unable to keep up?  Do you find yourself constantly breaking commitments to yourself, especially in the area of health and wellness?  If you answered YES to any of those questions, you probably need at least a little work on life balance. 
Life balance is a necessary component of happiness and fulfillment in life.  
 
So why is it so hard to achieve?
The Challenge…
Our lives are filled with so much wonderful subject matter.  Love and Marriage.  Children.  Friends.  Relationship with Self.  Health and Fitness.  Travel.  Hobbies.  Personal Development.  Spiritually and/or Religion.  Service to Others. 
But it’s easy to lose sight of how wonderful each of the areas of your life can be when you’re experiencing stress over how to pay enough attention to all areas.  
 
I used to consider some areas of my life necessary, but not necessarily wonderful.  Work.  Home. Finances.  To name a few. My commitment to those areas was more of an obligation and necessity of adult life.
My perspective — in other words, my mindset — made it impossible for me to enjoy any of the time spent in those areas.
But I invested some serious time and effort on mastering mindset.
And for that reason my current perspective is that each of my life boxes is wonderful, and that attitude alone adds to the fullness of my life and naturally helps me manage my stress.  None of it’s a burden and none of it bogs me down.  And when I lose sight of that perspectives, I am quickly able to remind myself that the “less” fun stuff is merely part of the journey, and without the “less” fun stuff, the fun stuff would not be near as joyous!
There’s so much beauty in that balance, but achieving the balance can be tricky. 
The Solution…
The solution I found to creating a healthy balance in life involves the four-step process outlined below.  I have tweaked the process somewhat over time, but the overall framework is the same.
Step 1:  Identify and Assess Your Life Boxes.  Make a list of your life boxes — these are all the areas of your life, including anything you would like to incorporate going forward.  Once you have your list, evaluate your life boxes using the following questions:  How much time do you spend in each box?  Are there boxes you would like to close forever and put out with the recycling? What is your level of satisfaction in each life box?  How do you prioritize each life box?  And does the amount of time you spend in each box correlate to the level of priority you assigned to the life box?
Step 2:  Set Goals for Each Life Box. What kind of relationship do you want to have with your spouse or partner?  Your kids?  How much time do you want to spend with your friends?  How much time do you want to spend on travel, if any?  What are your goals for your professional life?  How much wealth do you wish to build? How do you want to organize and manage your home?  What level of health and fitness are important to you, and how do you get there or maintain? How can you combine different areas to maximize efficiency in your balance?  Can you exercise with a friend or your spouse?  Would your family share a vacation with friends?  If you’re married, some of these will be joint goals.  The point is to spend some time setting a direction for each area so you know where you are headed.
Step 3:  Plan Accordingly.  Part of life balance is planning.  If you are proactively looking at each area of your life as you plan your week ahead, you can be sure to incorporate actions that will not only bring you into balance but also ensure you are headed towards the achievement of your stated goals at all times.  Of course, there will be periods that lack balance for one reason or another, but the key is to always be paying attention to where your time is spent so that you never go too far out of balance and never stray too far from the attainment of your goals in every area of life.
Step 4:  Prioritize. Clock time is limited, so it helps to establish priority items for a defined period of time.  You can use any time as a frame of reference, meaning for this week, or this month or this quarter, my top priority will be “x” or “x,y, and z”.  Most of my clients are weight loss clients, and we discuss pretty early into our coaching relationship that they must make their health and weight loss goals the top priority if they are to achieve their desired results.  With weight loss, falling into the health and fitness area, as the number one priority until desired results are achieved, a time slot for exercise, food and drink intake and stress management is always reserved and takes priority over everything else.
If you haven’t been successful devising your own plan for life balance, or don’t even know where to start because you feel so overwhelmed, I highly recommend you try the four-step process above. Or better yet, attend my Life Box Retreat in October, where we will delve deeply into the key issues that impact life balance with the goal of life transformation.
 
Whatever you decide, I can assure you that any attempt to bring your life into balance will be worth the effort and investment.
The Invitation….

Please leave me feedback on this blog or any questions as a comment below!
 
If you’d like to get healthy and join me for a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click here to schedule a FREE mini-consultation with me.  

Thanks for reading! 

To Weigh or Not to Weigh? That is the Question

The Reality… 
There are a lot of different opinions about weighing yourself while working toward weight loss.  Some sources recommend avoiding the scale altogether, while other experts recommend weighing in daily.  Statistically, people who weigh themselves daily achieve greater success with permanent weight loss.   However, many popular weight loss plans, such as Weight Watchers, do not recommend daily weigh-ins.  Instead, they recommend a weekly weigh-in, if not even less frequently.   
The Challenge… 
The truth is stepping on the scale can be a negative experience, especially if you’ve been working hard to lose weight but aren’t seeing the results you desire.  I hear this repeatedly with my weight loss clients when they are less than enthusiastic about the concept of daily weigh-ins.  I understand completely.  No pounds lost, or worse, a weight gain, when you’ve been dedicated and doing all the right things is enough to send anyone off their diet and back to an unhealthy lifestyle.  I mean, what’s the point of depriving yourself if you’re not going to lose weight anyhow??
However often a person decides to weigh in, if at all, it is important that they have a basic understanding of body mechanics.  Regardless of what someone may be doing “right” or “wrong,” weight fluctuations are common because a person’s weight on any given day is determined by a multitude of factors.  For example, your weight can be affected by how hydrated you are, what you recently ate (such as salty food that may make you retain water), your bathroom habits, environmental factors and whether or not you exercised or got a good night sleep the day before your weigh-in.
The Solution… 
While researching this issue, I read a lot of material advocating against daily weigh-ins because of “scale drama” that may result if the person attempting to lose weight does not see the result they desire on the scale.  Famous health gurus included.  
I respectfully disagree. 
The number on the scale is just that…a number.  And a number is completely neutral until the person stepping on the scale thinks a negative (or a positive) thought about the number.  If you weigh in at 150, but you started at 200, you’re going to be pretty excited about that 150.  If you have been stuck at 150 for three weeks and your goal is 120, you may have a completely different thought and feeling about that 150.  Your thoughts and feelings will determine what action you take, as well as the result you ultimately get.  Would you rather be frustrated by the number you see, or excited about what you might learn from the number?  How do you experience your weight loss journey if you are excited versus frustrated? The choice is yours. 
The fact is research shows that people who weigh themselves daily are more successful at losing weight, and more successful at keeping it off.  If statistics support daily weigh-ins, why would anyone advocating for your weight loss advise against it?
The key is to understand the mechanics of the body, how and why weight fluctuates on a daily basis, and to re-program your brain to have a different thought about the number on the scale.  Instead of the number meaning you are doomed for failure, the weighing in process is merely information gathering, the knowledge of which will be valuable to your ultimate success at reaching your desired goal.  In conjunction with daily journaling about exercise, diet and stress management, your daily number tells a valuable story about your weight loss journey and what should come next to meet your desired goal.
The Invitation…. 
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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Five Intermittent Fasting Methods to Kickstart Your Weight Loss

The Reality…  
In a prior blog, I addressed the basics of intermittent fasting and why you might want to give it a try to achieve your weight loss goals.  As mentioned, intermittent fasting is essentially a pattern of eating that defines a specific period of time during your waking hours in which you will eat, and then you fast for the remaining hours.   
The Challenge…
If you research intermittent fasting, you will find that there are variety of different methods from which you can choose.  It can be a challenge to find the right method for you with all the available options, but as is the case with finding the right formula for diet, exercise and stress management, you must investigate and test the options and find the perfect fit for your body and lifestyle.  Below are the top five popular variations of intermittent fasting, with a brief description:
  1. 16:8 Method: Using the 16:8 method, you would eat during an eight-hour period you select, and then fast for the remaining sixteen hours.  There are no limitations or calories restrictions on what you are allowed to eat during your eight-hour eating window.  
  2. Eat Stop Eat: This method features a full 24- hour fast either one or two days per week, with normal eating the remaining days of the week.  
  3. The 5:2 Diet:  This method features a modified fast two days of the week (only 500 to 600 calories), with normal eating the remaining five days of the week. 
  4. The Warrior Diet: This method permits a four-hour eating window in the evening, and “fasting” the remaining 20 hours of the day by only eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables.  
  5. Alternate-day Fasting: Using this method, you would fast every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.
The Solution…
Assuming any sort of intermittent fasting is something you would like to try, it makes sense to give each of these methods a try and see which one works best for you.  I personally use a five-hour eating window (generally between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm), and fast for the remainder of the day.  I adjust my eating window on a weekly basis depending upon what my schedule holds for the upcoming week. 
The Invitation…. 
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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How to Stop Eating your Way Around Your Feelings

We all know the terminology, and lots of us engage in it with regularity.  Stress Eating.  Emotional Eating.  The reference is to any type of eating that is triggered by something OTHER THAN how hungry our bodies actually are in the moment.  We are literally on autopilot and have no idea whether or not we are actually hungry when we put food in our mouths.  
A body in hormonal balance that is operating optimally at a healthy body weight only signals the brain for food when it is in need of fuel to operate.  Any desire for food at other times, such as to avoid or resolve something emotional uncomfortable or stressful, will ultimately lead to the consumption of more calories than the body needs, which will be stored on the body as fat.   
The Challenge…
Most of us are in the habit of immediately satisfying any urge we feel to eat.  To eliminate unnecessary overeating, we must tune into our bodies so we know when we are experiencing true hunger signals and when we are not.  If our bodies are truly in need of fuel, it will send that message to the brain.  True hunger is typically accompanied by some sort of physical sensation, such as a growling stomach.  However, in the case of stress or emotional eating, the signal to eat is sent from the brain, as a thought, to the body.  The thoughts leading us to eat our stress or emotions might sound something like this:   
1.     That looks so delicious
2.     I deserve that after the hard day I have had
3.     That will taste amazing
4.     I will feel better if I eat that
If you’re overweight, you have likely created and rewarded that desire so often that is has become unconscious and automatic.  It may feel you are eating against your will, and essentially you are. 
But why?  Desire to eat often comes from and unconscious effort to numb or avoid unpleasant feelings about things we are experiencing in life. Most of us are not taught how to manage our emotions, so we turn to food to dull or distract ourselves.
The Solution…
One of my brilliant clients developed the “Cucumber Test” to help her determine whether she was truly hungry or her body was telling her to eat for another reason.  I told her up front I was stealing this concept and sharing it, so here’s how it goes:  She has cut cucumbers ready to eat.  When she finds herself feeling hungry in between planned meals, she invites herself to have the cucumbers as a snack.  She told herself that if she’s truly hungry, her body will welcome the cucumbers for fuel and they will taste delicious.  However, if she simply doesn’t want the cucumbers, it must be that she’s desiring a snack for a reason other than hunger. 
I found this to be an excellent way to become aware of what’s going on in the moment.  What’s more, she finds that when she’s truly hungry, the cucumbers do taste delicious and they do satisfy her hunger.  Of course, when she’s being triggered by stress or emotions, she doesn’t desire the cucumbers because she instead has the urge to eat something sweet. 
Once you have determined that your body isn’t really hungry but you still have the urge to eat, then what? There are three basic paths you can choose.  We don’t usually make a conscious choice, but we can learn to do so. 
  1. Eat the thing you desire
  2. Try to resist the urge
  3. Allow the urge and let it pass
By eating what you desire when you aren’t truly hungry, you only reinforce the urge for purposes of indulging in the future.  Resisting the urge is certainly better than succumbing to it.  However, resisting an urge with willpower only lasts for so long before you indulge the urge, at which time the urge can be even stronger than it was initially since it has been denied.  The goal is for you to unlearn desire by allowing the urges to be there without responding to them.  The brain will eventually learn and stop sending you the urge message (like a misbehaving child who eventually stops begging when they do not get the response they want).  By the way, the first two options leave you with two problems to solve:  the consequences of your overeating AND the problem you were trying to avoid in the first place.  
Please try my client’s Cucumber Test (or some variation of it) to gauge whether you’re experiencing true physical hunger.  If not, recognize the urge for what it is, understand why you’re feeling it, and then allow it to pass unsatisfied.  I promise you, you will not die from allowing an urge to pass unsatisfied.  In time you will experience the urges less and less as your brain and body learn that you only satisfy a true physical need for fuel.  
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into learning how to break the pattern of emotional and stress eating and permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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