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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Twitter:  @toyourhealthwellness

My website:   https://www.toyourhealthwellness.com

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

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!

Step By Step

I recently met a client who, for the sake of this post, I’ll call Beth. Beth was referred to me through a mutual friend. She was feeling unwell, had seen her doctor. No problems or potential problems were uncovered.

I should preface this by saying that before I meet someone new, I ask for information. By the time that Beth and I met, I knew that she had a fairly normal health history. She is middle aged and has had one child. She has struggled with intestinal disturbances most of her life, but never received treatment. In addition, I knew that Beth was newly separated.

During our first meeting, I learned that Beth is in a pretty tough place. As I mentioned she is newly separated. Her husband recently moved out. Her 6-year-old daughter is struggling to understand the new family situation. Beth has few friends and her family live out of state.

In Health and Wellness Coaching, we start where the client is. She presented with exhaustion, weakness, stomach and lower intestinal discomfort and significant weight gain. All these symptoms combined to worry and distract Beth daily.

In Counseling, we ask ‘why, but in Coaching we ask ‘what’. What would the client like to work on first? Beth chose her recent weight gain.

With no history of weight problems, Beth was shocked when the scale registered 20 lbs. above her natural weight. What had changed? Well, Beth offered that she was drinking wine regularly to help her sleep, when she had previously been a social drinker. She acknowledged that her passion for cooking had fizzled and that she and her daughter often did the ‘easy thing’ and pick up fast food. Finally, Beth’s ex had cancelled her health club membership.

Beth needed no prodding to see the correlation between her weight gain and the lifestyle changes described above. In fact, she quickly added her exhaustion to the list and declared herself deeply depressed by the failure of her marriage.

In an effort to reclaim her life, Beth’s next step was to decide what she wished to focus on for the next week. She decided to focus on her weight. Overwhelmed already, it was important that Beth choose small, manageable tasks that would eventually lead her to better control of her weight. Her first decision was to sit with her daughter and make a grocery list of healthy, enjoyable meals that they could prepare together. This was met with enthusiasm due to her continuing concerns about her daughter’s wellbeing. Beth also decided to walk to the bus stop each morning rather than drive the block and a half.

We began our next session with a recap of Beth’s week. She had successfully made her grocery list and cooked four nights out of seven! Walking to the bus stop, however, was still a struggle; especially when waking up was still a struggle. She shared that her stomach was not as troublesome when she stayed away from fast food and made a pledge to herself that the food was not worth the discomfort.

At the conclusion of our second session, Beth chose to work on four more preplanned healthy meals during the week. She decided to set her alarm and her daughter’s alarm ten minutes earlier, so that they could make the walk to the bus stop. I asked her how many days she wanted to commit to walking to the bus stop. Beth chose two.

I share all of this, with Beth’s approval, because I want to illustrate two points. First, life changes can be devastating and can affect many areas of one’s life. Beth didn’t expect stomach distress or weight gain, but in hindsight saw clearly the correlation between the symptoms and her emotional distress. Second, the steps that Beth outlined for herself were/are small ones. It’s great when a client sees the big picture, but rushing ahead to fix the whole package often results in disappointment and feelings of failure. Our goal is to help the client rebuild their lives one small successful step at a time.

As of this writing, I am happy to report that Beth and her daughter are doing well. I am proud of the work that she has done and honored that she chose to allow me to help.

Until next time!

 

 

I Hate To Exercise!

I hate to break a sweat! But, as my previous post suggests, I do it (sweat) spontaneously on a daily basis. As I write this I am dripping from blow-drying my hair. So why in the world would I intentionally work myself into a lather?

I know, I know, it’s good for me. But, for some reason, I just resent the intrusion into my life. I have, for intermittent periods, embraced exercise and the accompanying sweats. But I am not self motivated. My brother runs or swims daily. He’s moved up and down the east coast and he always seeks out a YMCA or club to meet his needs. My sister goes to a personal trainer. I tried hiring a personal trainer. When I interviewed her, I told her that I was paying her not only to get me in shape, but also to listen to me complain– LOUDLY!

I have sporadically played tennis, worked out at a gym, done aerobic dance classes. I even tried Zumba because I love music; I was totally intimidated, especially when I realized that it was ‘black light night’, everyone was in neon but me. I was in white. I stuck out like a marshmallow.

With a history of orthopedic problems, I should be embracing weight-bearing and aerobic exercise to prolong the quality of my life. I am a Wellness Coach. I know this! What’s up? For years I blamed myself; I am lazy, a couch potato, unmotivated. I mean let’s be honest, I’d rather watch a DVD than exercise to one.

About five years ago, a friend suggested I read a book called ‘The 8 Colors of Fitness’ by Shelley Brue. I took a quick look and was intrigued. Through a brief personality assessment you are matched with a color. That color indicate the type of exercise and setting that best suits your personality.

color-wheel-dodecagon-mdThe most important thing I learned was that I am social (surprise) and therefore, will exercise more successfully with a partner or in a group. That explains why tennis was always fun.

Armed with this information, I began to explore. Do I invest in a club membership, try Zumba, personal training? What I came back to was yoga. I have practiced yoga on and off for about ten years. When I participate, my incredibly tight hip and hamstrings noticeably loosen, my sciatica is less bothersome and I tend to sleep better.

There are a wide variety of schools of yoga. and each teacher approaches the practice differently. In the end I chose to go back to the woman who has guided me for years. Olga(www.aligningwithgrace.com) believes that the practice of yoga is individual. There are a variety of body types and abilities in our tiny class. Once a week we set a personal intention for ourselves and spend 90 minutes working our bodies. She reminds us that we go only as far as our bodies PERMIT; that yoga is not about what other people do, it’s about what you can do.

Because I know that exercise for exercise’s sake is usually abhorrent to me and because an ulterior motive can often motivate me further (i.e. winning at tennis, enjoying music, socializing), I am continually drawn back to the practice of yoga. The quiet and concentration take me out of my mind and force me to concentrate on working with my body. I am probably the only one in class who breaks a sweat even though the temperature outside is below freezing, but I have given up on the idea that I can exercise without the ‘glow’.  The positive feedback I get for my efforts reinforces my motivation and there is a relaxed camaraderie amongst us (and there’s not a lithe, Lycra-clad twenty something or a wall of mirrors in sight!).

What color are you? What does your experience with exercise or health tell you about what you do for yourself? Take a look at your own life pattern. If the current drive toward better health isn’t working for you, find a new one.

I’m here for you!triangle pose

Is Wellness Coaching For You?

I have been reading a number of posts and emails asking me what and ‘What is  Coaching?’ and specifically ‘What is Wellness Coaching?”

 Let me start with what Coaching is NOT. Coaching is NOT:

Counseling

Therapy

Medical Advocacy

Coaching is a team approach to creating wellness. Imagine me as the kind inner voice that helps to ask you the right questions, helping you to define your Wellness priorities.

 Why Wellness Coaching? As mentioned in previous posts, I have worked in the counseling field and in the weight loss field. I have struggled with weight and body image issues most of my life.  I have learned that we are more than the three digit number we see on the scale; too often we use that number as a battering ram against ourself and our success. Wellness Coaching provides me with a way to look beyond the scale, beyond the LDL and HDL and discern and achieve complete wellness based on the your individual needs.

When I work with a client, it is my goal to listen, help them prioritize their health goals and find creative and manageable ways to attain those goals. Look back at your own experiences. Have you ever undertaken a project only to feel completely snowed under? Once you divide that project into manageable, organized pieces, isn’t it easier to accomplish?

What I love about Coaching is the ability to cater to the specific client needs.  Some clients desire only 3 sessions to create a wellness program that helps them succeed. Other clients opt for more sessions. As a coach, I am the support, the shoulder, a buddy with the tool bag. I am ready to jump in with suggestions when the client is stumped. We work as a team!

Wellness Coaching takes on a lot of issues, from Menopause to Cancer, Weight Loss to Diabetes Management. All of my clients are making daily changes and adjustments. Coaches can be there to hold the proverbial hand, provide links to information and make referrals when necessary.

Keep the questions coming!

Until next time!

 

 

 

 

Let Me Introduce Myself

Welcome to “To Your Health Wellness”. My name is Liz and today is my first post!  I invite you to join me as I navigate the world of Wellness and my place in it.

I should start by telling you about myself. I am a 55 year old woman! I am imperfect, flawed and self-critical. I am also opposed to each one of the traits I just mentioned. This knowledge is what  has driven me to my latest career, Wellness Coaching.

Let me give you a little history. I began my career as a teacher. I taught Middle School English for three years. My journey there taught me that I wanted to listen as well as teach and so I pursued a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. I finished my degree in the mid 80’s and, like so many, found that my vision of Counseling and the vision held by schools were diametrically opposed. I opted instead to work for a city government specializing in the education and dissemination of materials regarding women’s  health issues.

Marriage and motherhood put some of my career aspirations on hold, but I managed to invest time in volunteer activities and part time work. I became a motivational speaker for an international weight loss program in 2006. My kids were heading off to college, I had been successful on this program and I dove in headfirst. I was successful and motivated to help others find balance and wellness in their lives.

Fast forward to May 2013. I had been increasingly dissatisfied with my job. I could go on for pages, but the short version is that I was not truly helping people to manage their weight. In many ways I was encouraging them to focus on the number on the scale and NOT on themselves. Enter Wellness Coaching! I spent the better part of the spring and summer completing my training as a Health and Wellness Coach.

So with degree in hand, I began to debate the application this training could offer me. Many of you may know that Health and Wellness Coaching is a rapidly growing industry, often available through large corporations.

I researched many opportunities and then, like most good ideas, I began to fantasize about the perfect place for me. It was not in a corporate setting.

I believe in Wellness as a concept. I also believe that the majority of us are not “well” ;at least we don’t measure up to our own expectations or goals.

Enter the blog and “To Your Health”. Wellness is within each of us, but like the onion it has many layers. I am committed to helping you discover your optimum wellness just as I continue to discover mine.

So, let’s begin this journey. My hope is to provide resources, ideas and opportunities that will allow you to experience your best self.

Liz