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!

 

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!

 

Follow me on Facebook: To Your Health Wellness

Twitter:  @toyourhealthwellness

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

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!

 

For further information or assistance click ‘Contact Me’ on the toolbar.

 

 

 

Binge What?

tango_weather_snow_115981It snowed again yesterday. After a morning of menial tasks, I found myself watching the first season of “The West Wing”. I mean the whole first season. I loved it the first time and loved it the second time.

When asked what I had done, I confessed to binge-watching television. I guess the term fits the activity, but it got me thinking. How has the word binge become an everyday part of our vocabulary?

Bingeing gets its most common definition from overeating. In fact the dictionary defines bingeing as to “indulge in an activity, especially eating, to excess”. In recent years we have attached the word to drinking, watching, shopping, even exercising. Why do we need to ‘binge’ to excess? What emptiness are we trying to fill?

As a weight loss counselor, I spent a lot of time with clients talking about bingeing. While many could identify the triggers, most could not stop the process without help.

Michelle Joy Schulman of  “Raw Pure Joy” sites several types of binges:

The Hunger Binge- triggered by physical deprivation

The Deprivation Binge -triggered by emotional deprivation

The Stress Binge- triggered by (you guessed it) stress

The Opportunity Binge- occurs when time and opportunity and privacy are available, often triggered by boredom

The Vengeful Binge-triggered by anger

The Pleasure Binge-triggered by the desire to enhance pleasure

I think the last binge, the Pleasure Binge, is worth noting. Bingeing is a way to feel better in reaction to any number of issues or triggers. How do we feel better? We seek pleasure. The downside here is the temporary nature of the pleasure. Just as the pleasure of overeating registers, the guilt and shame take over. (Note: For this discussion we are focusing only on the emotional damage)

Why does the behavior repeat itself if the feelings of pleasure are so brief and the negative feelings so long lasting? Like many behaviors, this is learned and reinforced over many years. Your inner voice craves chocolate because it’s been a lousy day, your boss yelled at you, your car is making a funny noise and the school called to say one of the kids is running a fever. You take care of everything else (the car, the boss, the child) and run for the pantry. Just one minute of pleasure, of indulgence. Before you have even swallowed the first handful of semi-sweet morsels, you feel awful. ‘Why am I doing this?’ ‘ My skirt is already tight.’ ‘ I have no self control!’ ‘ I cannot trust myself.’ The litany of negative and damaging thoughts mentally beats you. You are familiar with the lecture, you know what you’ve done, but you are going to hear it anyway.

Many experts have ‘weighed in’ (sorry, couldn’t resist) on the process for ‘curing’ the binge. I have read most of Geneen Roth’s books on overeating. The steps outlined in her program, and other’s who have written on the subject are clear, reasonable and simple. Simple is the last thing this is!

I believe that the first step to changing any behavior is to be aware of it. In order to be aware, we have to listen closely to the messages we send ourselves. For instance, if the boss is nasty to you do you (a) tell yourself he/she must have had a tough night or, (b) take it personally and question yourself for the rest of the day?

When we begin to hear what we say to ourselves, we can begin to select alternative messages. Make no mistake; this is not a quick or magical process. I’ve taken to carrying a small notepad with me. When I am struggling with my inner voice, I write down the things I ‘hear’ and then ask myself how much of what I’ve written is true. (Thanks to author and speaker Byron Katie, for giving me the question to ask.) Most often the answer is ‘Of course it’s not true’. So what is the truth? This is where it gets fun. I write down one truth for every negative thought and read it to myself three times immediately. I reread my notes throughout the day, closing with the positive statements I created.

.spiral_notebook

I find this process very helpful and have seen clients respond positively as well. I feel the need to state, however, that your bingeing, whether it be food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, TV watching or exercise, is yours. In listening to yourself and really looking at what triggers you and how the binge makes you feel before, during and after, you can gain great insight and be your best advocate. This information may inspire you to seek professional help from a therapist or coach, or you may find that just by listening you can begin to self soothe and heal.

Until next time!

 

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