Making It Clear

We’ve all learned to take better care of our physical selves. We stretch, hydrate, sweat and cool down with focused intention. We cut the fat, increase the protein, embrace the fiber and ditch the salt. But what about our mental and emotional wellness?

Patients in chronic pain often remain unaware of how depressed and negative their pain has made them. Those of us who struggle with weight seem oblivious to the pressure and  ‘weight’ (I said it, I’m sorry) that the scale presents. Even those struggling to rehab after cardiac or orthopedic surgeries continually focus on mechanical challenges rather than the powerful cascade of emotions they also face.

Your doctor is monitoring your physical health, and the rehab specialist checks your range of motion and heart rate. But who is untangling the web of confusing and new feelings that come up when wellness shifts?

Some people are good at strategizing for themselves. Others seek out a friend or coach to help them mobilize their efforts.  Wellness coaches often start with the simplest of questions. What do you want? It is not surprising that many clients don’t know, or have a vague “I want to feel better” response.

I encourage clients to really define what they mean. If they are trying to lose weight, how much weight would yield a healthy result? What will the weight loss look like and feel like? For the cardiac patient, what are the benchmarks that indicate recovery? What reasonable expectations can they set for each week?

Without a clear vision of specific wellness goals, you cannot become your vision. When you or I stand back and long for a vision rather than embracing it, we are merely bystanders wishing and wanting.

This week, I want to ask you to do a little homework with me. Answer the questions below. If you’d like, email me your answers. Really think about how to manifest your best health!

1.What does wellness mean to me? (Describe all of the aspects of your wellness.)

2.What does wellness look like on me? (Really visualize yourself!)

3. What three small (tiny) steps can I take toward my wellness vision? (i.e-researching a weight loss  or exercise plan, purchasing a pill dispenser,

scheduling time to set new goals)

To Your Health!

 

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What’s In It?

Every day we hear more bad news about the effects of the foods we eat on our bodies. One medical report after another tells us that what we eat is killing us. Magazines highlight the best proteins, carbs and fats. So the question remains: why aren’t we changing the way we eat?

Now, I am not a radical foodie! I am a vegetarian because I discovered that meat doesn’t agree with me.  My journey was accidental in that I only found out I needed to avoid meat by being forced to.

Fifteen years ago I grudgingly agreed to spend a week with my mom at a health spa in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I said yes to sitting by the pool and soaking up the sun. I had no idea that this was a vegan spa (what’s vegan?).  I recall the massive headache that plagued me during the first day and a half because there was no coffee or sugar. I was irritable and frustrated and considered going AWOL in pursuit of a Snickers bar and a DietCoke.vegetarians

What transpired over the week was nothing short of transformational. I discovered that my painful gut issues disappeared. I also had my first introduction to the concept of holistic wellness; wellness as concept that connects the mind and the body.

I returned home inspired to buy organic milk and range-fed chicken for my kids. I cut out all meats. Which brings me full circle to my topic. Have you ever really considered where and how your food is produced?

I am not advocating that you break the bank and buy strictly organic, or that you choose the raw food plan. No, I simply encourage you to look at how the food you consume is produced and decide for yourself whether or not this should continue to occupy space in your kitchen.

sliced_cheese1A perfect example for me is processed cheese. For a long time, I purchase sliced “American” cheese for my children (I won’t name brands, you know the kind).  This was a staple in my house and enhanced many of my girls’ favorite foods. One day I was online and found a sound bite on the very same, portable, easy to unwrap, cheese. Imagine the shock when I read that American Cheese cannot even be legally sold as “Authentic” because of the additives, emulsifiers etc…

I won’t say that my pantry is a perfect specimen of organic unprocessed foods, but it is far cleaner that it used to be because I read the label. Yes, I want to know the calories, fat and sugars, but I think it’s important to also look at the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, chance are you shouldn’t put it in your body. I made it my mission to try to replace some of the items that we regularly stocked. Once a week I chose one item and looked for an alternative. Sometimes the switch was successful and sometimes it wasn’t.

One of the great benefits (aside from a healthier kitchen), was that my daughters began to read labels as well.

As I said at the outset, this isn’t about revamping every item in your culinary repertoire, it’s about educating yourself.

Need tips on clearing out the kitchen? Email me at Liz@toyourhealthwellness.com

Want some additional resources? Check out  the Links page on my website, http://www.toyourhealthwellness.com

To Your Health!

 

Tap Tap Tap

I recently took a class in EFT (Emotional Feeling Technique) or Tapping. While I was familiar with Tapping, I had not really looked at its origin or applications. I spent the week listening to seminars from speakers in all fields all over the country and in Australia.

Tapping has gained supporters in recent years, but its origins can be found in ancient Chinese practices such as Acupressure and Acupuncture. The basic premise is that if we apply pressure, or tap on specific points in the body, while working through some pain (physical and emotional), we can begin to lessen and relieve distress.

Like many folks, I went into these seminars with my eyebrows arched and a long  list of questions. I had seen the promo videos with Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson, all of whom I admire.  As is my pattern, I dove in, head first.  I took copious notes and listened with an open heart and mind to some pretty remarkable experiences.

For me, the hours spent listening to the advantages of Tapping through emotional pain were most intriguing. Lori Leyden, who now runs the Orton Foundation (see links), talked at length about the effect that Tapping had on the families of victims of the Newtown, CT shooting.  Volunteers went to Newtown within weeks of the incident and began working in groups and individually with adults and children, teachers and emergency response teams. Lori was able to cite concrete examples of Tapping’s success.

In another session, the leader talked of the relationship between adult triggers and childhood pain. At the time I was having some conflicts with friends. I did a little Tapping, focusing on the fact that my feelings aren’t really about what is happening now but date back to my childhood. In the end I remembered an event in preschool that has colored and influenced my life. The trigger for this pain was my current situation, but the pain dated back to 1962!

I came away with a sense of appreciation for this technique and a vow to learn more and try it on for size. I am excited to continuing learning about Tapping and hope to bring it to my clients in session.

Feel free to email me with questions.

To Your Health!

What Are You Hungry For?

Since I talked about the Diet dilemma in my last post, I wanted to followup with a conversation about what gets in our way.

In my work as a Wellness Coach, I have often been asked how to handle cravings and binges. Like any behavior, the first step is to identify the craving or the urge to binge. One of the things I often tell clients is to keep a calendar or journal handy. When the urge to overeat hits, write down the day, time, the food you are craving and the feelings that are associated with this urge. If, for example, I suddenly can’t stop thinking about Peanut M&M’s and the more I think the hungrier I get, I stop, pick up a pen, note the date and time, write down Peanut M&M’s and what I am feeling.

Initially, clients look at me like I am crazy! ‘Why do you want me to write down what I want to eat?’ they ask. My response is to remind them that sometimes the ‘what’ you want to eat provokes thoughts and feelings that, once noted, can be dealt with.

When I recognize my craving for the aforementioned candy at 11 P.M., I am reminded of the Halloweens of my childhood. I grew up in New York City, so Trick or Treating took place in large apartment buildings. When we finished scavenging for sugar, we (my brother and I) would empty our sacks, divide up what we loved and hated (all the while indulging). The next day the candy would be gone! My parents donated it every year, the day after Halloween! I never had the chance to get sick of it. I needed to stuff it in as fast as possible, because it was leaving soon. My craving today is usually met with the same sense of urgency. I am worried that I won’t get enough because it will be taken away.

This urgency for sweets is usually a metaphor for urgency in life.  So, although many of us eat to fill a void, there are times when the stress of life or a stressful event makes us feel the same urgency or emotion we experienced in childhood.

The bottom line is that, in order to truly lose weight, we have to cope with the issues that encouraged us to gain in the first place. These issues need to be observed. I am not suggesting that you rush to the nearest therapist, although, for some, this is a wise choice. I am encouraging you to do your own work. Pick apart the elementss of your ‘eating’ life that need examination.

Wellness Coaches, like me, often work with clients helping them narrow down the issues mentioned above. We ask questions, point clients to resources and help them do the work. Your awareness of your triggers or what you are hungry for, is profoundly helpful.

As you plan the weight loss plan or diet, as you visualize your success, try to be aware of the things that have gotten in your way before and what their cause might be.

To Your Health!

 

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Interested in Wellness Coaching? Email me at Liz@toyourhealthwellness.com

Diet Schmiet!

 

I have struggled with weight all of my life. I inherited the obsession from my mother and passed it on to both of my girls.  And I have spent countless hours and dollars trying to get to the bottom of my eating problems. Why can’t I maintain weight loss for long periods? Why do I crave junk food? What is so enticing about the “forbidden” foods?

 

I have learned a lot from asking and re-asking these questions. The first lesson is ‘stop asking’! Like so much in our lives, the question of why often remains unanswered and, although there is something to learn from asking ‘why’, when it comes to eating and weight loss, the better question becomes ‘how’? How do I find a way to eat that provides me with better health, physical satisfaction and emotional contentment?

 

When we begin with ‘how’ we start from a place of authority and control. This is a huge piece of a puzzling and emotional dilemma. I am not saying that understanding binge eating or over eating not important. I am simply stating that in order to get going, you don’t need an answer. You need to know what works and what doesn’t work.

 

As a weight loss counselor, I have often asked people what they know about themselves in regard to weight loss success and failure. For instance, I know that starving myself and drinking my calories is an absolute failure. I tried it when Oprah tried it. She gained it back and so did I! I also know that I need support. My experience tells me that I need the accountability of a weekly weigh in or check in with someone in the know.

 

Once you’ve narrowed down your options you can begin look around for a good fit. This is a period of exploration.  I suggest you visit, call, email any and all opportunities. Follow your instincts regarding where you feel most supported, motivated and comfortable. Avoid the “I’m a lost cause and this is my only option.” and embrace “I am interviewing prospects to pursue my best self.”

 

Begin to visualize your success. What will you look like? What can you wear? What does it feel like to get up in the morning without worrying about what will fit? Play with this. Take your time. It’s important to capitalize on this period to help clarify what you look like inside and out.

 

There is no need to force a timeline. You are ready when YOU are ready. By the same token, use this time to really define what you want and what your outcome looks like. Do your homework.

 

Finally, remember, a weight loss program is something you do for yourself NOT to yourself. It’s a way to nourish and guide yourself toward your best possible self. It’s not a punishment.

 

My 3-step plan for weight loss plan starts here:

 

1. Ask yourself what has worked and not worked in the past. Write it down.

 

2. Once you know the answers to number 1, you can begin to narrow down the available weight loss programs/counselors/coaches that will work for you.

 

3.Visualize what success looks like. Picture yourself in the outfit you love. Then begin to imagine what you feel like. How is your energy different? Is your sleep affected? (This is not a fantasy, you are creating a picture of yourself at your optimal health so be realistic without being self-critical.)

 

 

 

To Your Health!

 

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Take Your Candy!

Vitamins_and_Mineral_Pills_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_091231-191192-070009Have you noticed the number of supplements, vitamins, and over-the- counter meds that are marketed as and flavored like candy? I was at the pharmacy the other day. I was looking for a particular brand of calcium. First I noticed the chocolate-flavored chews made with extra calcium. Then my attention was drawn to the other stomach “aids” only to find gummies and fruit chews. Further down the aisle I found an entire shelf of vitamins in the form of candy.

When I was little, the only ‘good’ flavored medicine was St. Joseph’s Baby Aspirin.(As a matter of fact my brother chewed the better part of a bottle because it tasted good.) Most other medicines tasted like, well, medicine. My kids had ear infections and both went through an exhaustive list of liquid antibiotics. Although flavored, there was no confusing them with candy. We had plenty of ‘pushback’ about not taking medicine so we usually gave the girls a treat, like fruit snacks or a cookie, to make the taste go away. I don’t mind admitting that, as a mother, I relied on bribery from time to time.

I guess I am left wondering what the fallout from these candy-flavored products will be. Obviously Americans do not need any more processed sugar. But the pendulum has swung so far in the direction of pleasure and ease that it seems even our medicine must be tasty. Furthermore, I wonder how effective these supplements can be when they are enhanced with flavorings and sweeteners? I mean can fiber really be effective if wrapped in a gummy?

candyI have had a sugar problem for years. I love it! Recently, I’ve decided (with a little push from my doc) to give up all white sugar.  I don’t even have artificial sweeteners like aspartame, because research has shown that the chemicals in aspartame often increase the brain’s craving for more sugar. I have had to adapt to the taste of Stevia. I can’t say I enjoy it quite as much, but I can make it work. I don’t know what changes are going on inside my body, but I no longer need the caffeine jolt in the afternoon or feel my energy spike and then plummet after a sugary treat.

I would love to tell you that the urge for all sweets has already diminished, but I would be lying. I see the advertisement for that new Hershey’s Chocolate Spread and think about eating it from the jar with a spoon.  Food commercials often make me wax poetic about Fiber One Brownies or flavored coffee creamers. I am, however, an adult (I keep telling myself this) and I know that this change is for the good long-term. I will allow myself some wonderful sweet morsel at sometime in the future, but I can tell you two things:

1) It won’t be until I am confident that I can just have a small portion, and

2) It won’t be in the form of a calcium or fiber supplement!

 

Until Next Time!