Friday, September 10, 2010

Intuitive Eating

Nutrition and diet have become very popular topics of study. How to properly lose weight, how to quickly lose weight, what to eat, what not to eat, eat this much of this, eat moderately of this and so on and so forth. There are more books and more shows on how to be healthy or how to lose weight and yet frustrations with weight and food continue.

Another approach has begun to take root; one that takes eating back to the basics and back to our innate knowledge of how to eat: Intuitive Eating. It can take some work to become reacquainted with your body’s ability to judge when and how much to eat, but once you do you won’t have to scour the lasted diet book for the answer to your weight and body image!

Here are a few tips to help you discover your Intuitive Eater:

1. Throw out the Rulebook: Throw the diet rules and ideas of being able to lose weight quickly and painlessly out the window. Forget the idea that every single thing you put in your mouth is a “right” or “wrong” choice. Embrace the fact that losing weight and getting healthy is a process and a lifestyle that takes intentional purpose. Also, once you learn and understand how to eat healthy as a lifestyle, you quit judging every bite and just let yourself eat with minimal thought and maximal purpose.

2. Honor Your Body’s Signals: When you are hungry (actually hungry), EAT. If you ignore your body’s need for energy, you are more likely to overeat latter. Once you become ravenous, the good intentions of eating well go out the window. Reestablish trust in your body’s signals. It will tell you when you have had enough. Eat slowly and pause to listen and feel. How does the food taste?

3. Face Your Emotions: Pay attention to your feelings. Develop the ability to recognize when you are exciting, anxious, bored, sad, or upset. What do you do with these emotions? How do you release them? Embrace your feelings. Allow yourself to actually feel them. Don’t try to shoo them away as soon as they crop up or to make yourself feel better by eating them away. Food can be comforting, but cannot fix or eliminate the issue at hand. If you turn to food, you will ultimately have to face both the emotion and the food issues. Lets face one at a time!

4. Make Peace with Food: Stop fighting with it! Give yourself permission to eat. If you deprive yourself, once you finally give-in, you are likely to overeat. Don’t make every meal a guilt trip. Eating should be a pleasurable, satisfying experience.

5. Joyfully Eat: Eating should bring pleasurable feelings. Its important to feel satisfied after a meal. Otherwise, you are likely to keep eating in hopes of creating that positive experience. If you choose foods that you enjoy and eat in a comfortable and affirming environment, you are more likely to feel satisfied and to be able to know when you are comfortably full.

6. Love Yourself: Unfortunately, we are not all created equal. We have different body types and genetics. Quit comparing yourself to others and trying to get your body to be something it is not. Find your own body’s healthy and love it. Respect it. It is, after all, yours.

7. Get Moving: Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore; it just needs to be moving! Find movements you enjoy to help you be active. Walk the dog, go hiking with a friend and catch up on the latest scoop, take the stairs at work, go to the park on your lunch break. Once you start doing it on a regular basis, you will discover how much better you will feel and how you will begin to crave it. So, get outside and get moving!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mental Game

Exercising can be such a mental game. Its a choice, but that doesn't mean its easy to stick to! And that doesn't mean its going to be easy to do! I was talking with a friend the other day who was talking about "Self-Efficacy". She mentioned that she has friends that have the covetable quality of self-efficacy. If they say they are going to run a marathon, there is no turning back, no questioning or wavering, but they will run that marathon and truly believe they are capable of doing it the whole time. Even if they had never run a marathon before in their life! Phenomenal! What a quality to have!

Don't most of us say "I might do this or do that" and then debate about it, weigh the pros and cons and think about it some more. Don't hold me to it! What if I chicken out? Or what if I can't do it?

There's another quality that goes really well with self-efficacy. Integrity. Isn't that one of those deep-rooted qualities you have always wanted people to describe you as having? I want to be known as a person of my word. If I say it, I mean it and its true. That can be hard to do though!

Lets look at the actual definitions:
Self Efficacy: the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner or attaining certain goals
Integrity: acting according to one's beliefs and values at all times

When it comes to exercising, we need to have a little self-efficacy and integrity. We all know we need to exercise. We know that it reduces the risk of heart disease, helps ward off chronic diseases, keeps us trim, gives us self confidence, blah, blah, blah. But then when it comes time to do it every day or most days of the week, we find other things to occupy us. "I don't have time".

Don't get me wrong, I get it. You have a job, kids to pick up, a husband to feed, a meeting or two, a Grey's Anatomy episode, a football game to watch... However, its important to try and change the way you're thinking and make time. I understand that there are bills to pay and fitting in time to exercise does not pay the bills. HOWEVER, by leading a lifestyle complete with exercise and healthy eating you can add 5-10 years to your life and potentially rid yourself of having to deal with and manage a chronic disease. I'm pretty sure your body will be paying you back ten-fold for that time you took to exercise. Sounds like a pretty FAT paycheck to me!

Furthermore, no one said exercising was going to be fun and easy ALL THE TIME. If something is worth having, its worth busting your butt for! Believe in yourself. It may not always be easy or fun, but it will definitely be rewarding at times and you are definitely capable of doing something that will get you moving. A small something is better than nothing at all.

Make exercise a priority. ACTUALLY write it in your planner. Block that time out for you. Allow exercise to be cathartic. Let it be that time to take a moment for you and you alone. Release. Relax. Let the busyness of your day drift away. Even if its 15 min in the morning before work and 15 minutes when you get home. Block out that time. You owe it to yourself and your body to have a little self-efficacy and a little integrity.

What does tomorrow look like? Pull out a permanent pen. Pick a time and write it in (a hike with a friend, a walk around the block, take the dog to the park, go to a group fitness class at the gym).

Be the person you are envious of. Be the person you want to be. Decide to exercise. Decide to be healthy and DO IT. Be known as the person with self efficacy and integrity. Go exercise!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Find Your Path

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can get monotonous and hard to keep the excitement and energy. Mix up your usual routine by doing more reps and less weight or more weight and less reps or you can do the same exercise in a different way. Ask your friends what ab exercises they do!

With your cardio, instead of jogging, do several sprints with walk breaks in between or bike outside instead of doing the same group cycling class. If you usually do 30 minutes of cardio, choose one day a week to do it for 45 minutes instead. Its important to keep your body guessing so you don't get stuck in a rut! If you always bike or jog the same path, find a new park or neighborhood to exercise in. It will keep your environment interesting and your mind wandering so you don't continue to count down the minutes until you finished your allotted 30 minutes for the day!

When you travel, whether for business or pleasure, see if the city has greenway or jogging path. It can be invigorating to be with new exercisers in a new city! In addition, you will be able to experience new city sites. For the 4th, I traveled to the city of Cumming, GA and was lucky enough to stay near a beautiful wooden greenway. The wood absorbed the weight of each foot as I jogged and the wetlands trickled with life.

So, find your path and bring some excitement into your exercising!