Monday, October 29, 2012

Ditching Dieting - When do Factors Become Excuses?

One of the most popular blogs that I have ever written was titled "I Know What to do ...BUT.."  I believe most (if not all) of my clients are not lacking in head knowledge or intellect.  They are lacking in skill.  In the process of ditching dieting, finding the middle ground and making peace with food, eating, weight and activity/exercise issues, many factors can impede one's efforts.  Whether you are striving to recover from one of the many versions of an eating disorder, trying to learn to trust your own intuitive eating cues, or breaking out of the bonds of chronic dieting, these factors must be acknowledged.  Then they must be confronted.  After those steps are accomplished then the real work, skill development, can begin.  You have to figure out how to manage, change, challenge or accept these factors.  If not, factors will become excuses.  Excuses will become like quicksand and you will be immobilized. 

Some examples of factors that can become excuses and my suggestions as to how to deal with them are:
  • "I did so well in residential or intensive outpatient treatment.  I have too many distractions in my real life to make recovery a priority."
Very true.  The skills and insights you gain in a more controlled setting can be challenging to transfer when returning to university, families, work stress, etc.  However, you do have a "tool bag".  Even though you cannot think about recovery 24/7, you can make a commitment to bump up your recovery efforts day to day.  Do recovery reading of some sort daily, make your outpatient appointments with your treatment team a priority, reach out for support.  Making recovery a priority is a stepping stone to achieving the balanced, peaceful and fulfilling life you are desiring.
  • "I am surrounded by friends talking about weight loss and fad diets.  I am having a hard time not following the latest diet craze.  I want fast results"
Dieting is a national pastime.  It seems to me if diets and weight loss gimmicks worked we would not hear about a new one every other day.  We surely would not be one of the fattest nations on earth.  The obsession in our culture with diets and the pursuit of artificially thin body ideals is not going anywhere.  It is a factor.  Be a rebel.  Shout the truth from the rooftops, " DIETS DON'T WORK!"  Be strong and don't use this as an excuse to re-enter the world of the diet mentality that is full of shame, guilt and self-loathing.
  • "I am under a lot of stress.  Dietary restriction, binge eating, emotional eating, etc. is a comfort.  Maybe I can work on making peace with food, eating, activity and MY LIFE once things calm down."
Really?  When is the last time you remember having a stress-free life?  Intellectually we understand that food, overexercising, binge eating (pick your default behavior) does not solve the stress in our lives.  A lid on a boiling pot blows off sometime.  Ask yourself if there are ways that you can reduce some of the stress in your life.  Experiment with other coping mechanisms for dealing with stress that are not detrimental to your mental or physical health.  Maybe art?  Deep breathing?  A long lost hobby or a new one you have been considering can be soothing.  Go for a walk.  Then ... there are certain stresses in our life that are inevitable and we must accept those situations.  Stress is a factor.  Don't let it become an excuse.
  • "I am just too busy to work on these issues."
We are all busy.  Taking time for self-care, recovery, health and wellness pursuits is an investment.  An investment in how your day will go today and also an investment in how your life will be in the future.  I once heard a saying that went something like "If you don't take time to be healthy today, you will have to take time to be sick later".  There is no better time than the present to care for your body and soul.  Don't let a hectic schedule become an excuse.  Acknowledge it as a factor and proceed from that point.

You get the gist.  Now it is your turn.  What factors in your life could become excuses if you give into them?  Once again, I think the "all or nothing" thinking that we have discussed so often in this blog is the core stumbling block.  These efforts are not about being perfect.  Just pick up the old hammer and chisel and whack away at the factors chip by chip.  Then they will never become excuses!

Happy chiseling,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Eating Philosophies: Dr. Oz vs. Julia Childs

A few months ago a People magazine landed in my office mail box.  A free issue had been sent in hopes that I would place it in the office suite reception area.  Those of you who know me are aware that I would not purposefully expose my clients to print media that promotes artificial thinness, dieting, etc.  So, my intent was to just take it home to throw in my recycle bin.  Well ... I just had to take a peek.  I justified the action by telling myself that I needed to know what my clients are being exposed to when their issue arrives in their mail box  (I hear you snickering!)  I truly was appalled on SO many levels.  But, the kicker was the article about Dr. Oz.  Much of what he promotes stuns me but his statement that he thinks eating should be "joyless" knocked my socks off.  The author of the article made the comment after observing Oz eat that "It was the most efficient and joyless eating that I have ever seen".  When the media started reminding us that if Julia Childs had lived she would have celebrated her 100th birthday on August 15, 2012, I started thinking how diametrically opposed her philosophy regarding eating was to that of Dr. Oz.  Thus, this blog was birthed!

Dr. Oz was more rational when he first started his T.V. medical career.  However, rational and reasonable will not sell books or give you multiple television shows on major networks every week.  He has progressively started touting ridiculous claims like "french fries are the most fattening food on the face of the earth", and "eating should be automated and joyless".  In the article I cited above he admitted that "when I celebrate I always overeat".  When they showed a picture of the inside of his fridge .. I knew why!  Clearly the guy eats in a very rigid, restrictive manner.  He has not developed any internal regulations with food and when presented with "celebratory foods" vs. his yucky looking green drink and flax seeds he goes ballistic.  Sound familiar?  As we have talked about in many of the blogs, restriction breeds binge eating.  He is looking gaunt and weak.  I am wondering what he is aiming for with his austere approach to food and eating.  Eternal youth?  Reaching the century mark?  Who wants to live to be 100 years old if you can't go to a friend's home to eat or truly enjoy what you eat and drink? 

Ahhh .. let's move on to a happier topic.  Julia Childs LIVED and I mean LIVED to be 92 years old.  She once said "Life itself is the proper binge".  Don't you love it?!  Here are some of her cheery and insightful quotes regarding enjoying food:
  • "I think one of the terrible things today is that people have this deathly fear of food"
  • "Everything in moderation ... including moderation"  (I love that one!)
  • The only time to eat diet food is while you are waiting for the steak to cook"
  • "I would rather eat one tablespoon of chocolate russe cake than 3 bowls of Jell-O"
  • Small helpings, no snacking, a little bit of everything ... and have a good time!"
What a refreshing way to approach eating.  I think Julia was an "intuitive eater".  I would choose her as a dinner companion over Dr. Oz any day of the week.  We can care for our bodies, have good energy and be fit without eating "joyless and automated".

Here's to finding the middle ground with food, eating, weight and activity!   And, here's to you Julia!  Bon appetit and rest in peace.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Food and Weight Rules for Success

Caught you! If you are like most of my clients, sometimes you want food and weight rules to be in bondage to each day.  That is called dieting.  Some of you might be wondering if I have been lured over to the dark side and am getting ready to lay some guilt and condemnation down in true diet mentality style!  Nope.  Just wanted to get your attention and to get some hits on my blog!  However, now that you are here ... maybe I could give you a few rules to contemplate. (smile!)
Reba's Rules
  1. If it is worth eating, it is worth tasting.  Food in the mouth, butt in the seat.  Taste and enjoy.
  2. The scale is a hunk of metal.  It is useless in and of itself.  If your body is at a lower weight than it is designed for, then deal with the contributing factors.  If your body is at a weight higher than it is designed for, then deal with the contributing factors.  You do not need a hunk of metal to tell you if you are living a life at peace with food, eating and activity.
  3. Treat your body with the love and respect it deserves; that you deserve.  Don't go on an empty tank and make your body try to exist on gas fumes.  Don't top your tank off and make your body deal with the excess.  (Remember, we all hit those extremes on occasions.  I am talking about behaviors that are done on a daily, regular basis.)
  4. Consider the quality of the food you ingest.  Is it pleasing to the sight?  Does it taste fresh?  But, don't be obsessive over this issue.
  5. Eat what you really enjoy.  Don't just eat something because of some moral judgement you have placed on the food.  Remember, we are going for a good, overall nutritional average score.  Every food we place in our mouth does not have to be a "super" food. 
  6. Last, but not least, there really are no rules.  You are a human being.  You are beautifully and wonderfully made.  You are not a science experiment!
You didn't really want rules, did you?  You know they never work for the long haul!

Wishing you happiness and peace living in the middle ground!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Calorie Counting - the Enemy of Ditching Dieting

Unfortunately, with the use of "apps" on smart phones and IPads to track daily food intake, calorie counting has spiked in popularity.  The use of calorie counting came into vogue around the turn of the 20th century.  Scientist Wilbur Atwater put food in a "bomb calorimeter" and burned it to discover the amount of ash and heat produced.  In doing so he measured the amount of energy that was released by the food.  It was a science experiment. An experiment that was not aimed at giving we humans something to obsess over.  Calorie counting is an activity that can keep you entrenched in the diet mentality and/or disordered eating behaviors.  Calorie counting keeps us from trusting our own body and our own brain in choosing how to fuel our body.  Isn't it interesting that the rate of obesity has increased as our calorie "awareness" has increased?  Our relationship with food, eating and activity is far more complex than any calorie counting app can account for.  For that matter, calorie counting does not ensure that you are consuming a nutritional intake that is balanced in relationship to vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and carbohydrates.  You could be consuming a low fiber diet with very few vegetables (therefore, low in cancer fighting anti-oxidants) and yet be meeting some techno-app's calorie recommendation.

Here is the bottom line;  you will NEVER know exactly how many calories you are consuming or spending!  Labels that list caloric content can be off by up to 20% of the true calorie (i.e. energy) content of the food in question.  Many factors influence how many calories your body needs in any given day.  There is no completely accurate way to know what your basic metabolic rate is, what the thermic effect of the foods you are eating might be, and the amount of calories you are burning through daily movement and exercise actually is on any given day.  Why bother?

Instead of calorie counting, try using an app that is directed towards mindful or gentle eating.  Instead of concentrating on limiting calories, try focusing on increasing your fiber.  Pursue nutrition goals (not rules) aimed at fighting heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Make activity a natural part of your day, not a calorie burning mechanism.  By ditching calorie counting, you will move towards ditching dieting!  You will be finding the middle ground.  Such a peaceful ground it is!

May you learn to trust yourself with food, eating and weight matters.