Any time you are eating for any reason other than hunger- eating for entertainment, because you’re bored, because you are sad, etc
The idea of weight loss is actually quite simple, right? Eat less than your body needs and it will use the fat off of your body. Eat more than you need and you will store fat.
The problem is that we are using food to solve problems other than hunger. Every time we try to diet, restrict, eat “healthy” foods that we don’t enjoy, is that all of the emotions that we have been stuffing down show up. That can feel incredibly scary when we don’t know how to feel our emotions. We don’t like to feel negative emotions. Fear, boredom, irritation, dissatisfaction, anger, worry, shame, disappointment, guilt. It can all feel like too much. So we eat.
Listen to our talk about what emotional eating is, what causes it, and how to start taking steps to stop using food to buffer your feelings.
Three weeks ago I was walking in Walmart in the gardening section. And there, tucked quietly on the side, in a row, near the patio furniture, were Christmas trees. This was before Halloween. I feel like the school year just started.
Now, this is not a rant on how we are celebrating Christmas earlier and earlier. Frankly, I don’t care about that in particular. I’m sure there are people who quite brilliantly leave their Christmas tree up year round because it takes less energy. That I don’t mind. What I do mind is that the “holidays” based on getting stuff are squeezing out the holiday for appreciating the stuff.
Halloween has always been about dressing up and getting candy. What’s cooler than dressing up and becoming something or someone completely different from yourself for one evening? And getting Snickers bars to boot? That’s amazing.
After Halloween is supposed to come Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday about family, about quality time spent together, about playing soccer or football in the backyard after eating a ton of food around a huge table packed with loved ones. The whole idea of Thanksgiving is preparing food for someone else. It’s spending hours together in the kitchen getting different dishes ready. It’s everyone pitching in to make an entree or a dessert. It’s guests helping you clean your dishes when half the party has left. It’s playing Atari with your cousins in the basement and going on a long walk in the woods to counteract the tryptophan from the turkey. This holiday is all about giving and thanking and community and kindness and gratitude.
No wonder it’s been completely overshadowed by the Christmas holiday season. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but here in America we like to get stuff. We think our kids deserve hundreds of presents and we think other people should know what expensive thing we want to get under the tree. In every school I’ve worked at over the years, Santa has become a bargaining tool for the children. If you’re good you’ll get stuff, but if you don’t listen, Santa won’t come.
So we go from dressing up and getting stuff in October, to a quick thanks for a second in November to “give me, give me, give me” in December. January we have a momentary break and then we jump into February’s candy and card fest.
I guess I don’t need to go on, you can see where this is going. We have become a country run by the gifts we get for each other. We deserve the new car, the newest iPhone, and my child should have all the things on his Halloween, birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day lists. We have become collectors of shiny stuff.
This year, I challenge you to cover your eyes and ears when the commercials for Christmas come on. Stop believing the advertisements telling you how much you need.
What do you really need? You need Thanksgiving. Over and over and over again. Remove yourself from the craziness. I’m not saying not to give gifts. But you don’t have to get everyone you’ve ever met a gift. You don’t have to make a card for everyone who has ever crossed your path. Your loved ones don’t need more than one present from you.
This holiday season (whatever that means) do your best to schedule time for the people you love. Get out a board game. Go outside for a walk. Read a book together. Create a meal from scratch together. Do anything, but do it with someone. Put your phones and your iPads down and look each other square in the eyes. Whether you pray or not at your holiday of choice, you should still sit next to each other around a table and hold hands for a moment. Maybe just take a deep breath together. The human connection is something we’re losing. Be the one to bring it back to your group.
Stop asking for more and appreciate all the things and people you have.
Do you have any plans with friends and family for the holidays? Share it below!
Today, when I got home from work, I had the pleasure of using my favorite feature of my new home. Today was a long day. I work in the school system again, and while I love it, and the school I’m in is fantastic with warm, inviting teachers, great administration and kids with great attitudes, I always feel like I am judged for any free time I take. Those who work in the school system know how valuable free time is. With less and less money going to the education system these days, teachers are asked to step up more and more with their expectations during the day. Right now most teachers and school staff I know rarely get a minute alone. They are teaching the kids, at recess with the kids, at lunch with the kids, handing most of the kids off to their parents, but then staying late for activities. After that they plan for the next day. Even though my graduate schooling and my license qualify me for much more complicated activities, one of the best things I can do for a teacher is to be in the lunchroom when they need to use the restroom. Because this is precious time that they have to negotiate for. As part of my job I can’t be alone with the kids or be responsible, but I can help another teacher watch 40 kids. And give a hard working teacher 5 minutes of respite from her class.
So when I have 10 or more minutes of time in between my groups and I have a chance to sit down at my desk, there is this pervasive feeling of guilt that seeps in. I can’t help it. I know that I have every right to sit down and take a break. Every human has that right. The fact that teachers don’t get it is appalling. So I get swept up into the momentum of everybody doing something all the time. Nonstop, all day long.
This came up for me today because I was sitting at my desk, eating my lunch, and doing my encounter forms on my phone. So I wasn’t even actually taking a break, I was still working. And someone came into the room and I heard myself telling her that I wasn’t sitting here texting, haha, I was actually doing work. What the hell? I don’t have to explain myself to her. I don’t have to make excuses to put my feet up. In fact, every fiber of my being believes that mindfulness and meditation are important. I’ve been completely abandoning that at work.
So, today, when I got home from work I did not go inside and get on the computer and continue the go, go, go mindset from school. Instead I did something that always brings me back to the present. I lit a fire. Lol. My husband and I collect all of the cardboard boxes when we get something shipped from amazon and we pile up all of the magazines that arrive at our house. Today I took a huge box full of papers to the firepit in the backyard of my house, piled on some sticks and branches that have fallen around the yard recently and lit a big bonfire. I stood there and watched the flames. When it started to die down I got a stick and poked at the magazines that always have just a little more fight in them, opening up the pages to start new little fires. I poked it and prodded it and threw on some leaves and altogether left the school day behind me. And it felt really, really good. The primal heat and edge of danger that a huge fire brings keeps your concentration on the present moment and is a meditation like no other.
I am making a commitment today to figuring out how to be an example for the kids and the staff. I am not sure how, but I need to stand true to my values. I don’t need to be a busy bee, bouncing from activity to activity making busy work so that I’m not sitting still. I believe in stillness and I am going to somehow pass that along. It’s going to be a challenge, but screw it, I’m done with pretending. So tomorrow I’m going to sit at my desk and do absolutely nothing. And see what happens.
What if today was the last day? What if today was the only day?
Recently I was asked the question:
“What do you want your legacy to be?”
Wow. What a question, right? But, it’s an important question. When you ask yourself this question, it makes you dig deep about what you want to leave behind. What would you want family and friends to remember about you? What would you want your children to know if you could only pass on a short message in a letter or a video? It makes you clear away the clutter and get to the heart of what your message in this world is.
I had a few ideas. I’m sure this is a list that will grow, expand, and change as I continue to live my life. Today, here is what I want you to know:
I want you to know how incredibly essential and significant you are. Yes, you. Right there, reading this. You. This world needs you. Your actions and words and thoughts and energy are an integral part of this universe. And knowing that, I want you to believe in yourself and the potential that is in you. That thing you want? That you tell yourself is too big or expensive or grand or improbable. You can have that. The barriers are an illusion. They are not real. There are obstacles, but they are conquerable. Every single one of them.
That’s what I want you to know.
What I want you to do is test this. Stop believing what you read or see on tv. Try with something small that you’ve been putting off. Figure out what the obstacles are and figure out how to get through and over and under and around. Have fun, be creative, ask for help, get messy and laugh. And then all of a sudden you’ll see you have or have done the thing. Congratulations! Now do something bigger.
That’s what I want you to know. Believe in yourself. Do cool shit. In the great words of L’Oreal “You’re worth it.”So now it’s your turn. What’s the legacy you want to leave?
December is my second favorite month of the year. July wins out because that is my birthday month, so it is full of celebration. But December is close on its heels. I love December for many reasons: there’s the holiday celebrations, the holiday food, the holiday music, and the gracious attitude that people seem to adopt as they count the days to Christmas. But my favorite part of the month is its representation of the end of the year. Over the last few years it has become a time for me to reflect on the past year and think about the next. It gives me a chance to look at all of the challenges that I went through and to congratulate myself for the successes. And it is a time for me to prepare for my New Year’s Goals.
How many New Year’s Goals have you successfully made and kept throughout the year? For the majority of the population most goals are dropped by February and completely forgotten about by March. Health clubs go through a ginormous spike in memberships during December and January. And more than half of those people stop showing up a few months later. Why is this? People are usually VERY motivated at first. They get the membership. They buy the outfits. They research the diets. They get the nicotine patch. They bite the bullet and look at their finances. They stop buying things they don’t need. They buy the Spanish Rosetta Stone. They spend more time with family and friends. But soon enough the motivation goes out the door.
I believe that we do not spend the time we should on figuring out WHY we want to reach the goals we choose. We pick lofty goals that sound great, but when our desired outcome is superficial, or we’re trying to please someone else, we tend to lose motivation. Want to lose weight? Why? Want to get out of debt? Why? Want to stop smoking? Why?
If you can’t answer the question, you are likely to be one of the millions of people who drop their New Year’s Goals. And if you answered that you just want to stop smoking because other people tell you it’s a good idea, your chances of following through are pretty slim. But if you desire to stop smoking because you have a new baby in the house and you want to feel energetic enough to play with her, or you want to protect him by keeping second hand smoke away, now those are more likely to push you through the year.
So what if you can’t answer the why or you’ve just figured out you have no motivation past pleasing your spouse? Journaling is my first recommendation for most problems. The process of writing helps you get clear on what you perceive the problem to be, and helps slow down your thinking when it comes to solutions. You can also go back and look at your writing if you lose motivation or need to remember something you’ve forgotten. For those who don’t like writing, drawing a picture, cutting out pictures, or recording voice memos can be helpful as well. Here’s some journal exercises that I have done over the years to get really focused on my goals and helped me follow through.
Write down what you think your goals should be. Then ask yourself the question, “Why?” and write the answer. Continue to ask yourself a few times until you feel like you’ve really gotten to the answer. An example- “I want to stop drinking.” Why? “Because I have gained weight and been less motivated to do work.” Why? “Because I feel unhealthy.” Why? “My wife is unhappy with me.” Why? “Because I feel unhealthy and I’m not taking care of myself.” Why? “I want to feel healthy and take care of myself.” Why? “Because I want to be healthy enough to take care of myself and take care of my wife.”- Now there’s motivation to stop drinking.
Write down previous goals that you have made in the past. Free write about any challenges or successes you had while meeting those goals.
Write out your fantasy life. Write how everything would be different if you met your goal. All of the things you would be able to do, places you’d be able to go, or things you’d be able to have. Get precise and specific.
Now that you’ve gone a little deeper with your goals, it’s time to evaluate if they need to be rewritten. Continuing with the example above, wanting to stop smoking because of the new baby in the house, maybe you realize that it’s not just about cigarettes. You want to feel energetic enough to play with your baby and keep both of you healthy. Quitting smoking might only be a part of this goal. Writing your goal in a more positive frame will help keep you on the right track, even when things get hard. Your new goal might be “By February I will be able to have the energy to spend at least 8 hours with the baby.” Framing your goal in this way might help you make decisions not just about smoking, but about exercise and healthy eating as well. And if you give in and have a cigarette, you have not “failed your goal.” You don’t have to give up. You have the motivation of spending time with your baby to keep trying.
What goals do you have for the New Year? What is the motivation behind it? How will you keep the motivation to make it all the way through to December 2014? Comment below!
I am a big fan of gratitude. Although sometimes it may appear to be a catchy, new-agey theory that having gratitude is good for you, the truth is that when practiced regularly finding the time to be thankful for the little things in life can be life changing. When you get into the habit of focusing on the positive, more positive seems to show up. The explanations for this vary, they go from magic, or a miracle, to the Law of Attraction where you literally manifest what you want in life. I’m more of a sciency, objective type of person. For me it simply makes sense that if we are looking for things to be grateful for, we are more likely to see them and be ready to appreciate them when they come our way. Let’s take this scenario taken from my very real life.
Situation 1- I have not been practicing gratitude, in fact it’s been a long, exhausting, negative day and I am having negative thoughts about everything. I arrive home from work and my husband is at the sink washing the dishes and the negative thoughts just continue on, merrily. “Oh, NOW he wants to wash the dishes. He lets them sit around for weeks, waiting for me to wash them or until they magically wash themselves.” And I probably say thank you in a sarcastic, passive-aggressive, snarky tone and head to the couch to sulk and think about how crappy his dish-washing timing is. This is, by the way, a serious example in my life.
Situation 2- I have been practicing gratitude, I have had a trying day, but have been looking for the positive. I come home and my husband is at the sink washing dishes. On this occasion, I can walk in the door, thank him for washing the dishes and go relax on the couch for a few minutes knowing that the dishes are being washed. The only difference in the two days is my attitude when I walked in the door.
So- now we know, gratitude is awesome and worthwhile! And just as we bring in the New Year with our fitness, health, career and life goals, we bring in the Thanksgiving season with reminders of gratitude. “What are you thankful for?” is the catchy phrase that’s being thrown around recently. The newest status trend on Facebook is to list all of the things you are grateful for that start with the corresponding letter of the day (1=A, 2=B, etc). Although the gratitude trend may not last beyond the holiday, I do think 30 days a year of gratitude is better than zero and it’s a great start to what could become a habitual practice.
Some days it’s easier said than done. Have you been there? There you are, having a shitty day- your child barfed on you in the morning so you changed your pants, then you accidentally spilled coffee into your lap in the car, didn’t notice until you got to work that you forgot to brush your teeth, had a long passive aggressive conversation with a co-worker that took up all of your free time including any time you had to run out and grab lunch, then you got stuck in ungodly traffic on the way home. You know, those kind of days. Then you get home and call a friend because you just need to vent to someone and they say something along the lines of, “Just be thankful for what you have.” Well, THANK YOU, very much, you (insert expletive of choice here).
On this kind of day I have a quick exercise that works well to adjust your thinking back to what you have in life, even if you don’t particularly feel like it.
1. Find somewhere to be alone, not in front of the tv, phone, or computer. These are all distracting and are guaranteed to remind you of some more things that you could possibly be angry about.
2. Sit still for a few moments. If you are a practiced meditator, now is a really good time. If you are like me, and have difficulty shutting your brain off (the yoga peeps call this monkey mind), don’t fight it. Just sit still for a few moments. Take a few deep breaths.
3. State your intention (ideally out loud, yes, speak to yourself) to find three things you can be grateful for.
4. Start thinking. If your meditation and deep breaths helped you calm down, you should be able to come up with a few good ones on your own here. However, sometimes we’re really stuck. If that’s the case, look around you. The stories in our heads can keep us from finding the good in our lives, but often physical items around us can trigger a memory.
5. If you’re really stuck here, and you are stewing in negativity, then this exercise is really important for you. You need to get unstuck or go take a nap, because if you’re at this place, you might not want to be around people. Force yourself to focus on an item that you see in your physical space. A tree, a piece of paper, a sock on the floor, a piece of lint on your pants, a dresser in your room, a chair. Anything. And find 3 things about that object to be thankful for. For example- the chair under my bottom at this very moment. This chair is ripped, but it has lasted me for almost 9 years. I am thankful that I have it to sit on. Sometimes I will think of something I need to write at the computer, but my husband has wheeled it away from the desk for some reason and I’ll kneel in front of the computer on the floor and that, my friends, is painful. I am grateful for its ability to hold me up to the desk and keep the pressure off of my knees. It has a lever on the side that I can push on and it allows me to adjust the height. It is tall enough in the back that I can lead my head back against it when I have writer’s block. It is made of a feaux leather material that is cooling, and doesn’t get your bottom all sweaty when it’s hot and humid here. It has armrests. What more could you want in a 9 year old desk chair?
This exercise can be done at any time during the day. Look around for an object and think of all the redeeming qualities it possesses. Feel free to stretch a bit, sometimes the fun of it will knock you out of your bitter mood. Maybe that lint is a lovely shade of yellow. Perhaps it is making a smiley-face or appears in the shape of a unicorn. Maybe the lint reminds you of something. Get creative.
If that doesn’t work, look at this picture of this dog chewing on a kitten’s face:
I hope you enjoy this exercise. What other methods do you use to stay thankful over the holiday season?