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!

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!

 

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!