Detox Take Away #5 – Hunger Games

 

Tween Girl with Handmade Bow and Arrow Over White

Hunger Games is not just a popular book and movie trilogy. Hunger games are what many of us resort to in order to manage, suppress, control, or otherwise manipulate our appetite.
Many of us act as if hunger is the enemy when, in fact, hunger is a natural and instinctive response that serves a very important purpose – to keep us alive.
Especially when we’re trying to lose weight, we can see hunger as the culprit that leads us into temptation and tests our willpower. But if we can look at hunger as our friend, a helpful reminder to replenish our  resources on a regular basis, we may begin to give it the respect it deserves.
Where we often get into trouble with hunger is where we get into trouble with most things; when we’re not paying attention.
If we ignore our hunger until we’re ravenous, it’s easy to grab anything and everything in sight, regardless of its nutrient value.  We might mindlessly demolish a bag of Doritos or eat an entire bag of Oreos, but our body knows better. We may feel bloated and beat up ourselves up with guilt, but if the body has not has received the required nutrients, it will not be satiated. Consequently, we’ll keep scrounging for food.
For some, eating becomes a necessary evil in the midst of a busy life. We have so many decisions to make day after day, it’s easy to go unconscious in the eating area. With so many rules and restrictions about what we should and shouldn’t eat, it’s tempting to grab what’s fast and cheap.
But here’s the thing. In order to feel satisfied by the foods we eat we need to notice the color, the taste, the texture, the smell, and the environment. Quickly and unconsciously consuming something without giving ourselves time to register these sensations robs us of little luxuries to be found in food. Any foodie can confirm this.
Feeding yourself quality, nutrient dense foods is a profoundly nourishing way to support yourself. Running on empty is not. Would you regularly put just a few gallons of low quality fuel into your car expect it to run optimally for a long distance?
Hunger is a sign that we’re alive. How lucky for us that we’re alive at a time when food is plentiful and the choices are abundant.
During my detox I got in touch with what it’s like to be hungry. When I missed some of my favorite foods, I wondered what it would be like to feel hungry all the time. What would it be like to not know where my next meal is coming from or not have the means to buy groceries?
Those questions snapped me right out of my self-imposed pity party over not getting to eat the foods that are not that great for me to eat anyway. It was ironic that I was eating arguably the cleanest diet I had ever eaten and somehow felt deprived because junk foods were off limits.
This, of course, lead me to question all the things I hunger for. Some of them are good for me. Like wanting to be a better blogger or coach or facilitator. Others, like watching bad tv and eating Buster Bars, not so much.
I invite you to notice your hunger. What games do you play around your appetite, not just for food but for life? How to you express or suppress your hunger?
I’d love for you to share if you dare in the comments below.

Detox Take Away #4 – Size Matters

Measure design

The size of our plate, the height and width of our glass, the comfort level of our clothes. According toBrian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and author of the book Mindless Eating, these are just a few of the factors that play a part in our ongoing effort to battle the bulge.

Unfortunately, these covert attempts at mind manipulation are so subtle that we seldom realize they could be  leading to weight gain.  This slippery slope can be as simple the 25 extra calories a day that add up to 2.5 pounds a year or 25 pounds in a decade.
A normal serving size on an 8 inch plate might look like an appetizer on a 12 inch plate. A drink in a tall, slender glass might seem more like a shot in a short, wide tumbler.  Wearing a track suit to a buffet may feel better than sporting Spanx or a body shaper, but if we constantly wear loose-fitting clothing, we can easily lose sight of the weight measurement many of us rely on more than a scale – how our clothes fit.
While most of us are aware of the dangers of super-sizing, we remain blissfully unaware of the advantage food marketers have on the subliminal marketing of their products. They are brilliant at getting their brands to look delicious, desirable, and therefore, in high demand.
But you and I know better. Or at least we think we do. It takes constant awareness and presence to keep our wits about us and we navigate the aisles of our supermarkets, health food co-ops, and menus at our favorite eating establishments. They are all equipped with weapons of mass distraction, designed to derail us from our best intentions of making conscious choices about how we nourish ourselves and our families.
What I learned from the detox is it takes a lot of practice to implement these ideas. It also takes a lot of education. Fortunately there are tons of books, blogs, websites, articles, and programs intent on bringing us out of the dark ages of nutrition and into the light of a new dietary day. Admittedly, the information can be overwhelming, confusing, and even conflicting.
My goal is to gather the resources I’ve found to be most helpful in my journey and share them with you. I’ll get them to you in the next week.
In the meantime, become a detective. Discover the hidden ways you are being influenced and literally shaped by habits that you may not have questioned before.
I’ll leave you with some food for thought:

  • What is a serving size? What does it look like? How does it look different depending on the size and even the color of the plate, glass, or container?
  • Do you think you eat more calories consuming handfuls of pretzels in front of the television or computer screen or sitting down at the table with a piece of pie? (Hint: When you’re unconscious about what or how much you’re eating, you’re going to eat more.)
  • How many decisions about food do you think you make per day? (Hint: It’s closer to 200 than 20.) Do you see how the sheer number can lead to poor choices?
  • Do you eat more of an item if you leave the box or package or dish on the table than if you put it back in the pantry or stove? (Hint: Make it inconvenient to grab more.)

That’s today’s take away.  Next up:  Hunger Games.  Hunger is not the enemy.
Share if you dare below any questions, insights, or ideas.  Thanks for reading.

Detox Take Away #1 – Freedom through Discipline

sign direction risk - reward
As a former free-spirit, if anyone dared to suggest my life might be easier by imposing a few more rules or a little more structure,  I would have laughed. Wanting to be free to move at a moment’s notice or leap whether the net appeared or not, I was all about keeping my options open.
Eventually all that uncertainty takes its toll.  Ironically, the kind of freedom I was really craving came through discipline.
Nowhere was this more obvious than in my approach to eating.
Years of pretending to be eating healthy while skipping meals, over consuming carbohydrates, and leading a more sedentary lifestyle was a definite detour from the wellness way I thought I was following.
The detox provided a much needed GPS.  Life became so much easier once I knew what I was going to eat, when I would need to eat it, what I needed to buy, and how to prepare for various contingencies.
Prior to the detox, the daily “What’s for dinner?” dilemma opened the door to all kinds of bad choices, especially if I waited too long to answer it. Then anything and everything was fair game.
The detox forced me to plan my meals, plan my snacks, frequent the grocery store more often (because fresh foods don’t last too long), and bring order to the food court so poor choices were no longer an option.
Once I implemented the plan, I was rewarded with consistent energy throughout the day, an even temperament, and a better ability to find the center of calm when chaos threatened to reign.
Those of you who have been preparing family meals already know the importance of planning. But for someone like me who has been making meals mainly for myself, planning seemed unnecessary.  Especially when popcorn or soup could suffice.
The detox forced me to take a disciplined approach to everything from meal planning to meal timing.  We all know what happens when we get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Hangry.  And all kinds of whacked out.
So I got to treat myself like I would treat a small child left in my care.  I had to purchase, plan, and prepare the most nutritious meals I could given a specific set of criteria.
In order to keep it interesting, I placed the food on colorful and appropriately sized plates. I used cloth napkins. I relaxed and tasted the foods, savored the smells and spices, and allowed myself to feel nourished not only by the food but the effort that went into the preparation.
The results were profound.  After one too many meals consumed in the car on the way to a meeting or at my desk while replying to emails or in the kitchen in a quick and unconscious attempt to stuff the stress of the day away, this was a game changer for me. So was salmon for breakfast, but I’ll fill you in on that in a couple of days.
For now, I’ll leave you with this question. What’s nourishing to you?  How can a little prep time or planning pay off  and allow you to feel really nourished by what you are eating?  Especially if you live alone, how can you make meal times sacred?
We all have to eat.  It’s a requirement for being in a body.  Why not make it a pleasurable event?
Next post I’ll share with you Take Away #2 – Eat High Quality Foods.
Until then, eat (good food), drink (lots of water), and be merry (or whatever you happen to be feeling)!
Share if you dare below.  I’d love to hear your questions or suggestions.

Surprise Garage Sale Finds

There are two types of people in the world. Those who love garage sales and those who don’t. After an unfortunate experience from my childhood (similar to the coffee incident) that involved me hosting a “rummage sale” , as they were called back then, and netting approximately $5 for a week’s worth of work, I fell into the second category.
This past weekend my parents decided to take part in a city-wide garage sale and asked Bob and I to come help. Bob falls into the first category since he’s made out quite well at garage sales over the years. So naturally, I volunteered Bob to help. But since my parents have made more than their share of sacrifices for me, I decided to join Bob and at least be there to help move the inevitable stuff that doesn’t sell.
Among the leftovers were an odd assortment of gardening books, interior and home design books, sewing and fashion guides, and the ever in demand encyclopedias from the 1960s, all considered vintage now.
But the surprise find of the day was not the trip down memory lane but the trip inside the psyche of my ancestors, my paternal grandmother in particular. My father’s mother died when I was in high school, so the memories I have of her are spotty by now.
I remember she loved her family and insisted all the relatives gather around every Sunday after church for a meal or coffee and rolls. She loved to garden and had a small green house added on to her house. She was a great seamstress, which explained all the sewing books and fashion guides. She had dark thick hair, which I didn’t inherit, and equally thick fingers, which I did. She had a heart and home that would open to anyone who walked through her front door.
What I didn’t know about her, that I suppose no grandchild really wants to know, is her deep disappointments, her regrets, and the things that broke her heart. When I got a glimpse of a few of my grandmother’s books as I was loading them in the car to take to Goodwill, I quickly surmised what those things were. The titles of the books said it all from the Miracle Diet to Doctor Please Help Me to Ancient Chinese Secrets for Rapid Weight Loss.
You see my grandmother was a large woman. Obese, in fact. She seldom left her house because it was hard for her to get around. She loved to entertain and have visitors because that’s how she participated in the world.
Her immobility, size, and accompanying health concerns affected me in a very specific way. She took lots of pills and supplements and I was determined not to live like that. So I did what any teenager would do. I stopped eating.
This allowed me to gain control over all the things I had no control over. From raging hormones to attention from boys to defying my dad and asserting myself, the only thing I could control was what I put into my mouth. I was incredibly selective about what went in. Not so much about what came out. I was a teenager, after all.
At that time, anorexia was a relatively new and unknown thing. All I knew was despite feeling hungry 24/7 and feeling the need to exercise every spare moment, if I could control my body, I might be able to get a grip on my emotions.
During this time I got very sick. I remember being in our family doctor’s office and hearing him say to my mother, “You know, she has the potential to become grossly overweight.” Clearly, this was not what a doctor should say to someone suffering from anorexia, but it was the seventies. This was a male doctor who had no clue what it was like to be in a female body or the awareness that those words would stick with me for life.
If I wasn’t eating before, I was certainly not going to eat then, given my genetic potential. Fortunately, I figured it out and managed to start eating again. Maybe I fell in love, maybe I believed if I exercised enough I could eat whatever I wanted, or maybe a decade of therapy did it. In any case, this declaration shaped my early career as a fitness professional and fueled my insatiable hunger for self-growth and knowledge.
Flash forward to this past weekend. Discovering her books allowed me to see my grandmother more clearly than I had ever seen her when she was alive. Despite her jovial appearance, she suffered in ways I never knew.
No one wants to be overweight, out of shape, unhealthy, or otherwise unacceptable or unattractive by society’s standards. We make such harsh judgments and assumptions about those who are.
As I leafed through the books I realized a lot of those doctors were saying what many cutting edge doctors are saying today. People probably thought my grandmother was crazy and willing to follow any “quack” or “miracle cure” she could afford. Or maybe they thought she was lazy, lacked discipline or willpower, or couldn’t be bothered to stick to a diet. But if the books were any indication, she was desperately trying to find a way to be at home in her body and accepted by society.
And then it really hit me. Despite the assumption that I’ve lived my life in reaction to my grandmother’s, I now see it as a continuation of her journey. As I begin an 8-month coaching program with the Institute of Psychology of Eating and dive deeply into the dynamics of eating, mind/body nutrition, body image, metabolism and digestion, as well as eating disorders, I have an opportunity to not only heal myself, but also my loved ones – past, present, and future.
It’s my belief we all have issues around food, nourishment, hunger, approval, acceptance, you name it. While some of us don’t have a need to explore it, if you feel like you do and would like to know about some of the coaching groups I’ll be starting based on this information, please shoot me a quick email with the words “nourishing wisdom” in the subject line and I will send you the latest info on upcoming groups.
What about you? Have you ever discovered a profound truth about yourself when you least expected it?
Share if you dare below.