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??  


Developing a Simple Protocol to Achieve Weight Loss

The Reality…
Many of us struggling to shed a few pounds are overwhelmed not only by the sheer number of diets available to try, but also conflicting information as to what is healthy for our bodies.  Also, the complexity of information on nutrition and dieting can make sticking with a plan through the achievement of a weight loss goal difficult, if not impossible.  There is likewise an overwhelming amount of decisions to make when it comes to exercise.  No wonder so many people quit BEFORE they even have a plan in place!
The Challenge… 
The word “Protocol” is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as “a detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment, or procedure.”  Despite the definition, it is possible to create a SIMPLE protocol to help you achieve a healthy weight. 
The Solution…
My work with weight loss clients incorporates something called the Weight Loss Triangle Program.  The theory of the program is that weight loss is impacted by three factors: (1) Food and Drink Intake – what you put in your mouth, (2) Exercise – how you burn calories, and (3) Stress & Stress Management – how to effectively manage life stress.  Based upon the individual factors and preferences of each client, a simple protocol is developed to put them on the road to achieving a healthy weight. 
Using the considerations below, a protocol is developed and followed by the client until they achieve their desired weight and level of health:
1.     Food and Drink Intake – based upon the client’s schedule, eating times and food and drink to be consumed are determined in advance.  The client decides how quickly or slowly they desire their weight loss to occur, and we plan accordingly.  Many clients elect to incorporate in “planned cheats” each week. The natural consequence of this decision, of course, is that weight loss comes at a slower pace, but the client is more content and less likely to abandon the eating plan since it is specifically designed based upon their goals, objective, and schedule. “Planned cheats” can include desert once a week, two free meals eating out each week, a certain number of permitted alcoholic beverages each week.  
2.    Exercise – based up the client’s schedule and current level of fitness, exercises to be performed, amount of time to be spent and days to exercise are determined in advance.  Again, the amount of exercise the client elects can very based upon how much effort they wish to expend, or their schedule in the upcoming week.
3.     Stress & Stress Management– depending upon the level of stress in the client’s life, we work together to develop stress management techniques that are meaningful to the client, and we decide in advance when the client will incorporate those techniques to effectively manage stress, and the effects of stress which can interfere with weight loss. 
Developing a weight loss protocol in advance translates to a much higher success rate for achieving weight loss goals than figuring it out “on the fly” each day.  To increase your likelihood of success, develop a weight loss protocol using the above considerations and three factors.   
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss and developing a protocol for weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  


Three Tips for Moving Beyond Diet Slip Ups

The Reality…
You devised a plan to lose weight.  Maybe it wasn’t the first plan you ever made.  Maybe there have been many plans. 
You are an intelligent, successful woman, and you are well aware of the basics of weight loss.  It’s a simple matter of making sure the calories expended with exercise exceed the calories consumed with food and drink.  Add a dash of willpower to make the difference between what you want to eat and drink, and what you will eat and drink to ensure weight loss.  And add an extra dash of willpower to get you to the gym when you really don’t care to be there.
To make the math work, you decided exactly what you were going to eat and drink, and exactly what exercise you would do and when.  You felt 100 percent committed and, in that moment of strength, you promised yourself to let absolutely nothing stand in your way of losing weight this time.
How has that worked for you?
During my weight loss journey, I would spend lots and lots of time making an intricate and detailed plan for how I was going to accomplish my goal.  I planned the minutia of it, right down to what music I would listen to while I was on the treadmill.  I compiled motivational playlists!  I made charts to hang on my wall!
However, despite all that beautiful planning, I would literally throw all of it out the window in the next moment if the right set of tempting circumstances presented themselves. What took me off track? It might be an invitation for dinner, where I would inevitably succumb to the smell of the food in the restaurant.  Other times, I would have an urge for something sugary or salty, and I would quickly take whatever action necessary to satisfy the urge.  What actually took me off track was my inability to predict what was going on inside my mind and body, and plan a strategy for it.
The Challenge…
Why is our commitment to weight loss so fleeting, when it seemed so strong?  And when the urge to eat something that will take you off course with your diet arises, why do we find ourselves so eager to write off the whole plan off rather than merely chalking it up to a minor bump on the road to good health? 
The biology and psychology of overeating is a very interesting thing indeed, and it lends itself very nicely to guiding you off the path to good health, no matter your level of commitment.  The reasons won’t be identical for all of us, but there’s a good chance that what’s going on in the inside the body and brain is the culprit when we so blatantly let ourselves down.
Below are three tips for not letting a diet mistake take you completely off course.   
The Solution… 

1.  Redefine the significance of what a diet mistake means to your weight loss journey.  First and foremost, as human beings, mistakes are inevitable and predictable. Recognize the inevitability and predictability of the fact that you will make mistakes on your weight loss journey, and use that knowledge to your advantage.  You can start to find strength in the simple knowledge that you WILL go off track at some point, and that going off track does not have to mean the end of the weight loss journey.  Redefine it in your mind as “just an expected and simple bump in the road” and carry on toward your goal. 

2.  Understand what is likely going on inside your body.  You didn’t get overweight because one or two times in your life you disregarded a healthy lifestyle, or because you made a bad food choice here and there.  Instead, overweight people have a pattern of overeating, triggered in part by an exaggerated desire for food, typically unhealthy foods. Overweight people have usually conditioned themselves to indulge every urge for food, and they likely desire highly concentrated foods containing a lot of sugar and flour.  The high doses of dopamine that come with indulging in those foods just makes the urge, and the pattern of satisfying the urge, that much stronger and harder to break.  An overweight person feels like they have no control over their eating, even when they have committed to a diet, and in many ways that is true.  If you’re overweight, what do you usually do when you have an urge to eat?  I would guess you satisfy it as soon as possible.  Part of breaking the cycle is to understand that not all urges are true physical hunger based upon the body’s need for fuel to operate. And not all urges must be satisfied.  

3.  Learn how to allow an urge without satisfying it, and let it pass.  In time, the urges will come less and less as your brain learns that you will no longer satisfy every request for food.  If you satisfy the urge, you only make it stronger and habitual.  If you use willpower to resist an urge, the desire is still lingering there and only gets stronger over time.  Eventually your willpower fails because willpower only lasts for so long.  The only real choice is to understand that you must re-train yourself to allow urges to be there, and then let them pass unmet.  Eventually your body will only signal you when there is a true physical hunger.

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??  


Three Ways to Know if You have a Sugar Addiction and What to Do About it

The Reality… 
According to the National Institute of Health, sugar comprises 15% of the diets of American adults, and this statistic does not include foods with naturally occurring sugars such as fruit and milk.  In short, Americans are eating too much sugar, and the statistics on overweight and obesity support that position.  Excessive sugar consumption is linked to numerous health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease.
What if I told you eliminating sugar might be as hard as an alcoholic conquering his desire to drink or a drug addict giving up the drugs that are destroying his life?  We think of addictions in terms of THOSE kinds of things, but a study by the National Institute of Health reports that sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases opioids and dopamine and might have addictive potential.  To any of us who love sugar, addictive “potential” seems more like addictive “certainty.” 
The Challenge… 
Avoiding sugar can be a challenge for several reasons.  First and foremost, it has addictive qualities so once we have had a taste of it and it makes us feel so good, we don’t want to avoid it.  From the outset, our desire is working against us.  And the marketplace is at the ready to feed the addiction.  About 80 percent of packaged food items you will find in the grocery store contain added sugars.  And it’s even worse with drinks.  Next time you drink a soda, flip the can around and feast your eyes on the sugar content displayed.  Cans and bottles of contain about 40 grams of sugar, and there are drinks on the market that are even worse than that.  According to the American Heart Association, the most added sugar a woman should eat in a day are 25 grams, so even indulging in one soda will exceed the recommended daily limit.  And typically we are not stopping with one can of soda. You will also find sugar in lots of other favorites as well:  Fruit juices (just as sugary as soft drinks, ladies), candies/sweets, baked goods, fruits canned in syrups, and low-fat or diet foods all contain way too much added sugar.  Make sure to read those labels and if sugar is listed first, quickly return that choice to the grocery store shelf.  
If you have trouble avoiding the sweet stuff you might have a sugar addiction to contend with, and if you’re trying to lose the extra weight the sugar gave you, you must overcome the sugar addiction first. 
The Solution…
If you experience any of the following symptoms related to your consumption of sugar, you may have a sugar addition to overcome before you will experience success with weight loss.
Cravings.  When you eliminate or cut back your sugar intake, do you crave it and think about it all the time?  If you crave sugar constantly, there’s a good chance you have a sugar addiction. 

Bingeing.  When you consume sugary foods, are you able to enjoy a small and moderate amount at a time…just a little nibble?  Or is it a full-on binge that doesn’t end until all evidence of sugar in your immediate area have been consumed?  If you binge on sugar, rather than enjoy it in small and infrequent doses, there’s a good chance you are addicted to sugar. 

Withdrawal.  When you don’t consume sugar, what happens in your body?  Have you experienced any of the following symptoms?  If so, you might have a sugar addition.
  • Cravings
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
If you are overweight, reducing the amount of the sugar consume won’t be easy at first because you’ve likely developed a sugar addiction.  However, reducing or eliminating the amount of sugar in your diet will not only reduce your risk for the health conditions listed above, but it will also help you lose weight.  Expect the discomfort that will inevitably occur, but do so with the knowledge and certainty that reducing sugar intake is not only best for your long-term health, but also necessary for weight loss. 
You have to decide whether to completely eliminate or simply reduce the amount of sugar you consume.  Complete elimination, or “going cold turkey” is going to hurt, but the truth is reducing sugar is probably going to hurt a little as well.  After all, breaking addictions always hurts, but doing so is always best for your body, mind and spirit.
The prevailing recommendation seems to be that you should work your way up to a no-sugar diet so that you gradually recondition every part of your body from your taste buds to your brain that sugar is no longer going to be a main attraction in your diet and is no longer going to be the answer to your stressors and problems.  A gradual reduction of sugar seems to be the less painful alternative, and of course, will result in slower weight loss which is perfectly fine.  For long-term conditioning and permanent results, it might be better to approach your weight loss, including reduction of sugar intake, as a marathon rather than a sprint. 
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??  

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??