I was on the local news again this morning to talk about emotional eating, why we do it, and what to do about it. Check it out.
I was on the local news again this morning to talk about emotional eating, why we do it, and what to do about it. Check it out.
No matter what your goals in life it is very important to plan. Developing a plan helps you stay consistent, establish a routine and helps maintain focus. Planning requires evaluating goals and identifying steps to help keep these goals on track.
I am not a planner, naturally. I am what most would call “a rebel without a cause” and I definitely “do what I want, when I want”. Planning has a way of limiting spontaneity, which is something that is needed or an exciting and thrilling life. However as I became more focused on my goals, I found I was more willing to plan. Perhaps it is maturity, but planning helps me be more successful.
Although I value and urge each of you reading to find balance, planning is a necessary evil. Planning is needed to:
I am currently preparing for a vacation with my family to New York City. Despite my excitement about this trip I am 5 weeks away from my first bodybuilding competition and there is no room for error or mistakes. Planning for my trip is essential to my success when I step on stage on July 5. I had to plan ahead. Here are the steps I took to plan for my trip.
All this preparation has eliminated my excuses. I know I have a gym to get my workouts in. I know I have enough food for each day. I do not have to worry about being hungry, stuck in a show, tour, or museum, and that I am hungry. I will have my food on me. I have asked my coach about eating out while on vacation. I know what is on my meal plan and will check the menus of restaurants. I can still enjoy the food but know what I can and cannot have. I am not worried about what I will eat. I am not worried that I will not be able to continue to prep for my competition. A couple phone calls, a couple internet searches, and a little time will keep me 100% focused on my goal. And this will allow me to have fun and enjoy the city and my family. I will not have to feel guilty that I missed a workout or that I ate off plan. I can relax. I know that my preparation will help me stay focused and lead me to success for my goal.
A little planning is all you need for your success. Planning is necessary for success with any goal, not only fitness or weight loss goals. Know what you want. Research how to get it. Tell a friend/coach/professional about your goal and elicit their expertise and support and ask they hold you accountable. Read and learn what others have done and follow their path.
I have neglected this blog for way too long. So first let me apologize. I plan to be more consistent. Now let me explain why I “fell off the bandwagon”.
For the last 5 or 6 years I have been a “fitness nut”. Since I began I would say I have consistently averaged 5-6 days a week in the gym and have had a healthy diet. It started out as a means to save money from eating out. Quickly working out became my sanity and it saved me from the stress and emotional upset of my full time therapy job. About 3 years ago working out became my part-time job when I started teaching group fitness classes. It was during this time that working out became not just a hobby but a passion of mine. Working out and eating well was fun for me. Over the course of time I found I wanted to challenge myself in the sport of bodybuilding.
I was always happy with the way I looked and felt very comfortable and confident with my body but I wanted to see how my body could change with discipline and focus. So in March 2014 I started prepping for my first bikini bodybuilding competition. With my excellent coach and my motivation to be successful I walked on stage July 5th, 2014 and placed 6th. I felt very proud of what I accomplished. The road to the stage was fun. It is exciting to watch your body become lean and vascular. My body really became a fat burning, muscle building machine. I am a competitor at heart and can honestly say I feel accomplished with my performance in my first competition. I believe that others found inspiration in my progress and dedication, and my accomplishment really does show that with hard-work and discipline anything is possible.
However over time I stopped enjoying eating well and working out because these things were now a chore. Most days I dreaded going to the gym but went because “I had too”. When I wasn’t in the gym I was obsessing about working out. I literally laid in bed at night and visioned myself doing the next days workout and cardio. Images of food and meal prepping consumed my every thought. The food I ate no longer tasted enjoyable because it was solely fuel. When I wasn’t eating, I was starving and literally counting down until I could eat again. I was exhausted mentally and emotionally.
As my contest drew closer I hired and worked with a posing coach (one of the best in my opinion). So every Saturday after my workout, rather than spend time with family and friends I drove close to 2 hours (one way) to practice my posing. I spent money I could have been saving for a retirement or starting a new business for me and my husband on supplements. I thought my food bill would decrease as I just ate the same thing daily, but our grocery bill doubled and I was spending over $200 a month on supplements. The food is not only expensive but it is also costly to compete. There is a fee to join the Federation, there is a fee for each contest, tanning costs about $300 dollars, there is the cost of hair and makeup, plus the cost of a hotel stay and travel. Alas, the bikinis the girls in the bikini division wear are gorgeous. They are also very expensive. Yet I choose to once again spend HUNDREDS of dollars on a bikini instead of saving, investing, or bettering my families future.
Sure my waist and my body fat decreased but so did my wallet and my self-esteem. Suddenly it became about being a certain standard and fitting into a mold. I prefer to stand out, be different, and quite enjoy not always fitting in. Yet consuming myself with working out and competing I found I wanted to be like other competitors and fitness professionals. On contest day I saw myself with my tan, my hair and make up done, my beautiful bikini, and did not recognize myself. I was no longer Stephanie, but rather some obsessed meat head.
I spent the weeks following my show thinking about my next show. I was now obsessed with not “getting fat” (whatever that means). So I continued to obsess about going to the gym and counting calories and macros. Still working out and eating well was not fun. As I began to gain normal fat back I felt self-conscious and disgusting. This is about the time I stopped writing and stopped trying to help, motivate, and encourage others. I was so over working out that I stopped teaching at my gym, and this was something I love to do. Was I depressed? Not clinically but I think I was in a dark place. I had become something and someone I did not want to be.
You see, I had found balance in my life. Working out and eating well was fun because it did not control my life. I made it fit my lifestyle. I took it to the extreme of restricting calories, food, and WINE! I was working out to an extreme. When all you can talk about, think about, and dream about is working out and eating vegetables and lean protein you can be sure you are off balance. I remember a few meals following my show I literally had anxiety about eating. I ruined a surprise my husband had planned for me because I was so anxious and worried about what the meal would entail. Because I had become so obsessed with working out, eating, gaining fat, and staying lean, I was no longer able to enjoy friends and time with family. I felt embarrassed and insure to be at the gym. The gym was once a place where I felt confident and in control. But after my show it was as if I was a beginner again just walking into a gym for the first time. I was lost. I even kept my coach and had a plan but found I was not able to follow through. I withdrew from family and friends and wanted to spend my free time doing nothing and resting rather than being active and outgoing. I became lazy! I stopped feeling motivated to work on my career. I gained weight and body fat back but my confidence was destroyed. I felt I did not deserve to teach others. I felt I was not good enough to inspire and motivate.
I had to find balance again. I wanted so badly to enjoy working out and eating well and not worry about my body if I did not do things 100%. I am not sure when things started to come back together for me. I can say it did take about 6 months to feel like myself again. I am enjoying working out again. I can eat well but I can also not eat well and not freak out. I can eat out with friends and family and not binge. (A cheat meal used to contain well over 3600 calories). I am teaching again and I love it! And I am finally feeling motivated and passionate about writing again and finding ways to help others live well lives.
So many fitness professionals preach balance. But I caution you and warn you, they are professionals. Their living is spent in the gym working out. It is their job to stay lean and we only see their professional self. We do not see the other parts of their life that involves family, friends, and fun. Your job is not to be a workout professional. (I don’t think this is a bad profession, it is a needed and valuable profession, but not one that everyone should seek). Your job is to live a healthy, fit, and happy lifestyle. Life should never include obsessing about what to eat, when to eat it, and when to get to the gym. I do think life is about making healthy eating and working out a priority. When we make time for what is important we find health, fitness, and happiness.
I saw this quote and thought it perfectly expressed what happens when we compete or take diet and exercise to the extreme.
“You begin to change your food, your friendships, your sleep habits… you change what you talk about, the stuff you buy, and what you think about… and it all happens without effort – like it was meant to happen. You just find yourself consumed. Then, after awhile, you grow perspective. Regular life comes back and you enter the maturity stage, where all the fitness and training stuff still interests you, but just doesn’t engulf your mind”.
Let fitness and health fit into your life rather than trying to fit into a life of fitness. Fitness is something you do, not who you are. I eventually noticed that many competitors are so consumed with competing and looking and staying lean it becomes what defines them. Seeking to obtain a certain physique is an accomplishment and should be a source of pride. However it should not be something that is sought forever. Yes I obtained about 10% body fat, yes I had abs, I was vascular in my legs and arms, but those things did not make me happier or more fulfilled.
When we all die and face Judgement we will not be judged on our weight, body fat, abs, hamstrings, or glutes. We will be judged by what we do and how we positively benefit the lives of others. Fitness can do that. Fitness truly does save lives. Eating well and working out gives us the energy to do good deeds and live meaningful lives. Many fitness professionals help so many people find health and even balance, but so many also comply with the stereotypes and cause insecurities and doubt. Don’t let a picture of legs, butts, or abs on social media be your motivation. That is a false world and the consequences of that world can be worse than what is described above. Let us be fulfilled by spending time with family and friends, traveling, and trying new things. Find what makes you happy, find what makes you fulfilled. That is what determines your worth. Not how you look in a mirror or how you look to others.
The holidays are a special time of the year for a lot of us. For others it is a very difficult time. Every year around this time I notice the number on my caseload increases, not decreases. Family stress and conflict, financial strain, busy schedules, and social pressures can be more overwhelming during the holidays. Please remember you are not alone. Here are some tips to help get you thru the holiday season.
I believe that every single person on this planet has a great purpose. I believe that all humans are on Earth to do wonderful things and touch lives. As humans we have a basic need to connect with others and to develop a healthy self-esteem we need a sense of community and belonging. According to Abraham Maslow (1954) in order for a person to reach their full potential and live a fulfilled life, a person must first find love and belonging. To consider that love and belonging is a more essential human need than self-fulfillment means that as humans our purpose is to connect to others.
Many may struggle with the notion of “serving a purpose” or many may struggle to understand their purpose. I think this idea seems overwhelming because as a Capitalist society we are programmed to see “purpose” as something large, powerful, and meaningful. It seems that “purpose” means more money, more success, more fame, and more power. I know I once believed that. For years I believed I needed to touch and dramatically change the lives of thousands. I believed I had to do huge things to serve my purpose.
However we do not need to move mountains, save and impact the lives of thousands, or accomplish fame and fortune to serve a purpose. We can impact the world simply by being ordinary. In my early attempts to be “great” and live my purpose I spent a great deal of time and energy thinking globally. This caused me to neglect the people immediate world and I lost time doubting myself. I failed to see how I could impact the lives of my clients, my co-workers, my friends, and my family. I felt I needed to reach more, do more, and be more to serve my purpose. Rather than finding fulfillment and joy in my interactions with others, I started to feel burned out and tired.
I do believe that anyone at any time can impact the world and reach to positively change the lives of others. However when this becomes our focus we fail to see how powerful we are in our everyday lives. We do not need to be extraordinary to change the world. Your ordinary self has the power to impact another and change a life.
You impact the lives of people every single day. How you interact with people has power. What you say to a person leaves a legacy. In your small world you have great power. You can set in motion a positive or a negative experience for others, and ultimately yourself. Stop doubting your skills. Stop seeking extraordinary. You have the potential to do extraordinary things today in your ordinary life. The extra things you do to better your life or the life of a loved one is what makes your ordinary extraordinary. As you strive to create love, joy, and positivity in your life and the lives of others around you, you will be able to look back and see your ordinary life has become extraordinary.
I read a blog this morning about the behaviors of emotionally strong individuals. Initially I asked, “what is emotional strength?” Emotional strength is the ability to experience positive feelings. There are some studies to suggest that certain personality traits are linked to greater emotional stability, an indicator for emotional strength (Guswell & Ruch, 2012). A particular study by Guswell and Ruch (2012) suggested there are innate characteristics that can either support or hinder a person’s ability to manage emotions. In other words some personalities have an easier time managing emotions and remaining positive. Although research claims it may be easier for some more than others it is not likely that only certain individuals with certain personality traits are allowed happiness. All people are allowed happiness and all individuals can have a happy disposition despite character, experience, or previous thought patterns.
Individuals can learn emotional strength. If you struggle with something in life you can learn to improve; you can learn to emotionally improve, as well. Your emotions do not control you. Your thinking does not control you. (It seems that way most of the time because turning “off” thinking and emotions is challenging). The source behind the thinking and the emotions is YOU and the one in control of you is YOU! I understand my posts talk a lot about choosing to be happy positive and I understand this can be very frustrating to most. But, that truly is the issue; choice. How you think and how you feel is up to you! It is that simple. The hard part is applying the skills, tools, and techniques to make that choice stick.
There are lots of tools and behaviors one can apply to increase emotional strength. One behavior that stood out to me as a read the blog on emotional strength was ,”They (emotionally strong people) are not afraid of slowing down”. This really stuck with me and caused me to ponder.
Emotional strength equals success. Early research clearly demonstrated that people with an ability to evaluate their emotions, identify their emotions, and rationally handle their emotions are better able to reach and achieve goals (Allport & Allport, 1921). To consider that emotionally strong people can slow down and relax challenged the belief that successful people are “go-getters” and “busy-bees”. Success coincides with work. So many of us are chasing dreams, aspirations, and goals. Motivation is inspired and we are challenged to keep going, keep pushing, and work daily to achieve success. Then why is slowing down a sign of success and emotional strength? How does rest and slowing down accomplish goals?
When we slow down we can LIVE. It is so easy to be caught up in pursuing goals and achieving success and to lose sight of daily life and the little miracles that occur. I am no exception. My goals and aspirations in life require me to have daily goals and a daily plan. The drive to be successful causes me to become acutely aware of my daily goals and I can spend minutes of my day, hours of my day planning, working, building, doing, and analyzing. What happens if I just stop? What happens if I just slow down and approach the day as it comes?
When we can slow down we are left with seconds, minutes, hours, even days for freedom and to live.
Today I challenge you to stop! Stop planning and stop working. Take time away from your “to-do” list and do something else. You do not need to always be working on something and you do not need to always be focusing on your goals. I challenge you to take a step back, slow down, and enjoy the moment and the people you are with. When you slow down to live you will restore your heart, your brain, and your soul. This renewal of mind, body, and spirit will help you achieve goals, accomplish tasks, and lead you to success.
Allport, F. H., & Allport, G. W. (1921). Personality traits: Their classification and measurement. The Journal of Abnormal Psychology and Social Psychology, 16(1), 6-40.
Guswell, A. & Ruch, W. (2012). Are only emotional strengths emotional? Character strength and disposition to positive emotions. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 4(2), 218-239.
There are various types of diets individuals swear by in the health and fitness industry. Each one claims to help people lose weight, maintain weight, experience satisfaction, and promote health. With all the diets out there it can become overwhelming and confusing to decide which is best to live by.
I want to be clear about something here. I am not a nutrionist, nor am I a dietician. I am an expert in behavior and health, however. This post is not to claim that one diet is better than the other or to report an opinion about each diet. The purpose of this post is to identify a few types of popular diets today and explore the eating behavior associated with each. This post is to help you decide which diet supports how you want to live your life.
Why is eating behavior important to explore?
What you eat will impact your entire being. Eating, it goes without saying, will influence your body composition. What you eat will impact your waist line, your weight, and how your clothes feel. Thats why those in the fitness world often exclaim, “You cannot out train a bad diet”. Food not only impacts your physical body but food also will impact how you behave and interact with others.
Clearly research indicates food can impact mood. Researchers have found the stomach contains a hormone called ghrelin, and ghrelin travels directly to the brain and triggers the feeling of hunger. Researchers at University of Texas found ghrelin was associated with decreased stress and anxiety. THIS hormone reacts in the brain similarly to an antidepressant. What this research suggests is that eating can cure depression.
Think about how you feel after eating a nice healthy salad. The answer to this question could vary. On one hand eating a healthy salad can make someone feel satisfied and healthy. On the the other hand a person may feel bored and neglected after eating a salad. Now think about how you feel after eating a piece of chocolate cake. Again the answer could vary. A person may feel satisfied and relieved to have a craving satisfied, or a person may feel guilty and shame. The feelings associated with eating are related to eating behaviors. People that restrict may feel bored with eating foods, and people that binge may feel guilty for enjoying foods. In this regard diets that require restriction and eliminating foods could be difficult for some people. Not only is restriction difficult for emotional health but food restriction can harm your relational health.
Consider how many events, gatherings, and meetings involve food. Culturally we relate with others, express love, build relationships, and discuss ideas with others over food. Food is comforting. Food is enjoyable. Food is relaxing; so it makes sense why so many social interactions involve eating. Your eating behavior can improve your relationships with others. Eating behavior can also harm relationships when a person feels their diet prevents them from attending social engagements. It is possible a diet can cause increased isolation and withdrawal.
I love eating out and trying different restaurants. It is one of my most favorite things. My husband and I re-connect each weekend over dinner at a restaurant and we fellowship with friends with dinner and drinks. While on prep for my last bikini fitness competition I was not able to eat out for part of my plan. This made meals out with friends and family awkward. Although I was OK with my decision others I joined at restaurants felt uncomfortable as I ate in tupperware. My dad said he felt guilty for eating a big meal in front of me while I ate out of my Tupperware. Our eating behavior is impacted by the eating behaviors of others! Ultimately I started to decline invitations to eat out and the invitations to eat and fellowship with others stopped. Because of my “diet” I missed time with friends and family.
Are you now convinced that food is more than just fuel for your body? Food and our behaviors associated with food influences how we function on a daily basis. It is easy to see why millions struggle with food, either eating too much, eating too little, or uncertainty about what to eat.
So with all the diets that claim to be effective how do you decide which is best for you and your lifestyle?
The Gluten-Free Diet may be necessary for people with specific diseases and food allergies, however many others report restricting gluten in the diet will help shed pounds. Gluten is found in foods with wheat, barley and rye (such as pasta and traditional baked goods). The key for gluten free diet is to eat foods marked as gluten free on the package and to eat whole foods like meat, fruits, and vegetables.
This diet is helpful to keep people from eating processed foods which can contain dangerous chemicals and contain increased amounts of sodium, sugar, and fats. In that regard a Gluten free diet is healthy.
The problem with Gluten free is that packages marked “Gluten free” are still processed and contain increased sugar and fat. These are needed to maintain flavor. Lastly refraining from eating certain foods that may contain gluten does not allow the body to receive necessary and vital nutrients.
A clean eating diet is similar to gluten free. However individuals that claim to eat clean do not eat ANY processed foods. Clean eating involves eating whole foods that have minimal ingredients added. The key with clean eating is to eat the food in the most natural state as possible.
Clearly eating involves eating whole foods like meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. These foods are beneficial for the body and for life. These foods will provide the body with the nutrients necessary to function well.
The problem with clean eating is that many treats, cheats, and indulgences are eliminated. Oreos are not consumed on a clean eating diet.
The Paleo diet is all the rage. Paleo is very similar to clean eating. People on a Paleo diet live like the cavemen do. In other words they eat foods that are either hunted or gathered. Cavemen did not eat processed foods or foods that were cooked. This diet is good for health and the physical body because individuals eat increased lean meat, fruits, and vegetables, and processed foods like sugar, sodium, dairy, and other chemicals are eliminated. Any diet high in lean meats, fruits, and vegetables will benefit health. However this diet can be restrictive as dairy (ice cream, milk, cheese, etc) are eliminated. There are some that say eating increased amount of some meat (red meat) can lead to increased health problems (heart disease, cancer). This diet does not allow people to enjoy some foods for fear of eating food that is “bad”.
Many claim the trick to eat for weight loss is to eat less calories. The idea is to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories a day than one will consume. Honestly this will work, however, it is not necessarily safe and it is not recommended to maintain on this diet. Eventually the body will stop burning fat as calories are restricted. Restricting calories will keep the body from receiving essential nutrients and vitamins and eventually this can cause increased hunger, irritability, agitation, tiredness, and headaches. This diet does encourage an active lifestyle, which is always a benefit. However this diet should not be maintained for long periods of time and it does not teach people how to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Juicing is new trendy diet that many use to shed pounds and detox. Clearly veggies and fruit are good for the body. The body needs the nutrients and minerals in fruits and vegetables. However the body also needs nutrients and minerals in meat, grain, and fats! These foods are not found in juice. Although juicing will promote increased consumption of fruits and vegetables it severely eliminates foods the body needs to function properly. A juicing diet should not be maintaned for any period of time for risk of develop nutritional deficiencies.
Ever heard some say, IIFYM? IIFYM stands for If it Fits Your Macros. You may be asking, “what the heck is a macro?” A macro is a nutrient in food. The three primary macros are protein, carbs, and fat. Food also contains sodium, fiber, sugar, cholesterol, potassium, Vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. This micronutrients are also an important component of nutrition and are needed for optimal health. IIFYM is often referred to as “flexible” dieting. This diet promotes eating any food you want. It teaches people to let go of the guilt of eating foods because “bad” foods and “good” foods do not exist with flexible dieting. In other words if you want to eat donuts for breakfast, it is OK as long as it fits your macros. Everyone has different macro demands based on body composition and goals. With IIFYM you eat what you want as long as you consume the right number of protein, carbs, and fat each day. This makes eating more fun and relaxed. However it is also obsessive. Flexible dieting requires daily tracking food. Every meal needs to be weighed to the gram or ounce, measured, and calculated. It is a great way to learn about foods and the different composition of food however IIFYM requires being attached and restricted to a food scale and a calculator. Your life can be consumed by numbers and a need to manipulate portions and foods to fit macros. Flexible dieting is not eating oreos, cake, and donuts all day every day. In order for IIFYM to work a person must eat clean, whole foods most of the day.
One of these diets or none of the diets may appeal to you. You may be currently living by one of the diets and can attest to the benefits and show off your progress. Here is the thing about diet. All diets are “bad”. I do not think we should live a life of “diets”. Rather we need to live a life! We need to live a life where we love, experience, enjoy, challenge, learn, and grow. Food should never consume our time, energy, feelings, thoughts, and emotions. The key is to find balance. You will be most benefitted if you eat mostly whole foods, not overindulge or binge, refrain from restricting, and be sure to eat protein, fruits, and vegetables throughout the day. Bottom line, what diet you choose should fit your lifestyle and your goals. It should be one that you can live by every single day for the rest of your life. Finding balance with eating means you eat for health most of the time but know that is OK, acceptable, and appropriate to enjoy foods occasionally. Eating is a behavior and your diet should support your behavior and your lifestyle, not your life and lifestyle support your diet.