Loading...

The beginning of a new year is always a time of reflection. This year, consider some steps to a healthier you. Now, I know making change can be hard, so I wanted to share some tips that we have developed as part of our Lifestyle 180 program.


Choose an obtainable goal: Pick a goal that feels right to you. There are many references available; for example, the national guidelines for physical fitness recommend 200 minutes of activity per week to lose weight. In another approach, the American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day. 


In the end, pick one that is easy to measure, and go for it!


Every goal needs a game plan: In our Lifestyle 180 program, we encourage participants to keep a daily, simple, checklist. If the actual checklist is bigger than a 3X5 card, it is probably too long! As many of us know, “checking a box” can be immensely gratifying. Remember, short term daily gains, quickly lead to long-term results.


A healthy you is a wonderful journey, so remember, sometimes you will miss goals, but the more you work at it, the better you will feel. 


Happy New Year! 



Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati is the former director of The Cleveland Clinic's LifeStyle 180 program and a regular columnist for ShareWIK.com


For more Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati articles, click here.


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

Feb 01

Eating out proved dangerous for me. For some reason, I thought the calories consumed at a restaurant didn’t count. Wrong. Not only do the calories count, but the way the food is prepared is out of my hands. Only the cooks know how much oil they use or what other goodies are hidden in their entrée sauces, sandwiches and decadent desserts.
 
After coming to the realization restaurant calories not only counted, but may be the worst kind, I gave up eating out.
 
For a while, I even turned down dinner invitations to friends’ houses. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to control my eating habits outside my home. Most of my life, chatting with friends and mindless eating had gone hand in hand. During a conversation with a friend, the chips and salsa effortlessly disappeared. I had no one to blame but myself.
 
Being antisocial really isn’t in my nature, so I had to learn a few tricks before I tackled eating out at restaurants or over at friends’ homes.
 
Try the following:
 
Tip 1: If I am going to an unfamiliar place, I Google the restaurant and look over the menu to figure out a good choice for dinner in advance. My game plan is already in motion and it helps fight off the temptation to order things I know I shouldn’t like bacon cheeseburgers and fries.
 
Tip 2: I never order from the main entrée menu. The portions are just too large. I know some people ask for a take-out box with their dinner and put half of their meal in the box before they start to eat. Nice thought, but it never worked for me. The waiter forgets the box and the next thing I know, my plate is empty.
 
Tip 3: I allow myself only two items. I look over the appetizer, soup and salad menu and pick the two things I want. The great thing about the appetizer menu is the portions are more reasonable, so if I choose something that strays from my healthy eating regime, I don’t feel like I have completely fallen off the horse. At least the smaller portions keep the calorie count in control.
 
Tip 4: If I know the desserts at the restaurant are delicious, I adjust my ordering to account for the sweet I want to top off the meal. I also ask my friends to share the dish. It is a great bonding tool and helps keep the calorie count in line.
 
Tip 5: Moderation is key, and enjoying yourself is always on the menu. Life is too short, but food is just part of it and not all of it.
 
I am far from perfect. Occasionally, I still overeat when I go out. But whenever I do, I hit the gym harder the next day.
 

Lisa Griffis has lost over 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  She is a member of the TODAY’s show “Joy Fit Club” and a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. Visit her website at lisagriffis.com.


More content on Weight Loss

More articles by Lisa Griffis




© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009

Feb 14

Just in time for official start to “Diet Season,” NBC launched its ninth season of the “Biggest Loser” by bringing in a contestant that weighted 526 pounds--its heaviest contestant to date.  

 

I confess the show is an inspiration to me.  I regularly follow the contestants, wishing I could spend three months on a ranch with all the tools that are made available to the show’s contestants: Great trainers and endless time to spend in a well-equipped gym that doesn’t resemble rush hour for jocks.  Wow, that would be a real joy!  Just once, I would love to see a double-digit weight loss in my own life after an intense week of working out.  But in the real world that doesn’t happen. 

 

What the program does show us is that season after season, the age-old theory of calories in and calories out works. 

 

Which is why I was disappointed to learn Jillian Michael, the relentless trainer on the show, has joined the diet pill pushers with a new line of her own. I thought she was one of the good guys who believed that hard work and calorie counting was the way to lose weight.  But I guess just espousing that ideology wasn’t making her enough money. 

 

Along with all the newest gadgets and plans that surface are the reports touting the latest findings on this or that. 

 

Here are two that caught my eye: 

 

   A published study in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association revealed that food at popular chain restaurants and in the frozen food aisles have as much as 20% more calories than advertised. The report was featured in a “Today Show” segment and their experts revealed this skewed calorie count could lead to a 30 to 40 pound weight gain.    

 

   At the University of Southern California lab, scientists are developing wearable wireless sensors to monitor the workouts and eating habits of overweight people.  The Associated Press reported the experimental devices are designed to keep track of how many minutes they worked out and how much food they consumed.  It even sensed if they were eating at a fast-food joint.  The goal, according to the scientists, is to cut down on self-reported answers that often cover up or lie about what's really happening. 

 

I know I should tune out the hip but the truth is, knowledge is power. The fact that diet meals aren’t really diet meals is a good thing to know. The knowledge that they are developing a GPS tracking system for fat people is interesting, though also a bit disconcerting. 

 

It’s so hard to separate fact from fiction about what to do to lose weight.  We all want to believe it’s as easy as the popping the newest diet pill.  Deep down we know—or we should know—it’s all a matter of math: calories in and calories out.  I just wish researchers and trained professionals would put the time and energy into more sensible ways of teaching people that you are what you eat and getting regular exercise is the way to a longer and healthier life.

 

But I guess that’s too simple of a concept, I suppose, to put into a headline during diet season and not a good enough moneymaker. 

 

Lisa Griffis lost a 185 pounds through diet and exercise and is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  To find out more about Lisa, visit www.lisagriffis.com. 

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 

Feb 15
Just in time for official start to “Diet Season,” NBC launched its ninth season of the “Biggest Loser” by bringing in a contestant that weighted 526 pounds--its heaviest contestant to date.  
 
I confess the show is an inspiration to me.  I regularly follow the contestants, wishing I could spend three months on a ranch with all the tools that are made available to the show’s contestants: Great trainers and endless time to spend in a well-equipped gym that doesn’t resemble rush hour for jocks.  Wow, that would be a real joy!  Just once, I would love to see a double-digit weight loss in my own life after an intense week of working out.  But in the real world that doesn’t happen.
 
What the program does show us is that season after season, the age-old theory of calories in and calories out works.
 
Which is why I was disappointed to learn Jillian Michael, the relentless trainer on the show, has joined the diet pill pushers with a new line of her own. I thought she was one of the good guys who believed that hard work and calorie counting was the way to lose weight.  But I guess just espousing that ideology wasn’t making her enough money.
 
Along with all the newest gadgets and plans that surface are the reports touting the latest findings on this or that.
 
Here are two that caught my eye:
 
•   A published study in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association revealed that food at popular chain restaurants and in the frozen food aisles have as much as 20% more calories than advertised. The report was featured in a “Today Show” segment and their experts revealed this skewed calorie count could lead to a 30 to 40 pound weight gain.   
 
•   At the University of Southern California lab, scientists are developing wearable wireless sensors to monitor the workouts and eating habits of overweight people.  The Associated Press reported the experimental devices are designed to keep track of how many minutes they worked out and how much food they consumed.  It even sensed if they were eating at a fast-food joint.  The goal, according to the scientists, is to cut down on self-reported answers that often cover up or lie about what's really happening.
 
I know I should tune out the hip but the truth is, knowledge is power. The fact that diet meals aren’t really diet meals is a good thing to know. The knowledge that they are developing a GPS tracking system for fat people is interesting, though also a bit disconcerting.
 
It’s so hard to separate fact from fiction about what to do to lose weight.  We all want to believe it’s as easy as the popping the newest diet pill.  Deep down we know—or we should know—it’s all a matter of math: calories in and calories out.  I just wish researchers and trained professionals would put the time and energy into more sensible ways of teaching people that you are what you eat and getting regular exercise is the way to a longer and healthier life.
 
But I guess that’s too simple of a concept to put into a headline during diet season and not a good enough moneymaker.


 Lisa Griffis has lost over 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  She is a member of the TODAY show's “Joy Fit Club” and a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. Visit her website at lisagriffis.com.


More content on Weight Loss


More articles by Lisa Griffis


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010
Feb 28

Dear Mr. Postman,

 

I would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t bring any more larger-sized women’s clothing catalogs to my house. I have called the companies and asked them not to send them any longer. It took 15 calls to Lane Bryant for them to finally stop sending them to me. I must admit it was the only way I could buy clothes for decades.  All of these catalogues represent fine companies but I don’t need their garments any longer and I don’t want their catalogs delivered to my house any longer.

 

The reality is that I haven’t bought anything from a plus-sized catalog for over 4 years so I am surprised they waste their money sending them to me. I told a friend about this last week and she asked me why I was so bothered by the junk mail that came my way.

 

It made me stop and think, and I told her I didn’t want to know those types of catalogues still existed. I am no longer the same person that used to order from those catalogues.  Not only has my weight changed but so has my attitude, outlook on life and philosophy.  I wanted these companies to recognize the change in me--how hard I worked to lose the weight and change.  Every time a new catalogue arrived, I felt they were taunting me.  


Long ago, I donated all my old clothes so I didn’t have an escape hatch for my diet. I know you can still buy larger clothes but I have put that idea out of my head. I haven’t kept any garment that is more than a two sizes too big—and those I kept just to wear to workout in. 

 

Ninety-five percent of all diets fail and I don’t want to be a casualty. If I can’t fit into my skinnier clothes, that is my sign to cut out the sweets and hit the gym. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

 

Thank you Mr. Postman for not delivering any more catalogs.

 

Sincerely,  

Lisa

 



Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

For More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

A daunting question given that 10% of U.S. healthcare costs are related to obesity, one third of us are obese, and another one third of us are overweight.  At least half of Americans have one chronic disease.  And our generation has not learned how to cook, either at school (Remember taking a home ec. class?  Well I don't either) or at home (How many of your mom's recipes do you cook on a regular basis?  No, really.)  Oh, and did I mention that many schools have cut funding for physical education?  

We are going to fight childhood obesity.  One pound at a time.  And we're going to win.  We are going to do this by remembering that our mothers were right. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  You need to break the fast, literally. You need to rev the engine if you want it to work for you.  And, by the way, you need to put the right fuel in your engine.  

What does that literally mean?  It means limiting your saturated fats (the fat from four-legged animals).  Ok, I'm all for a little half-n-half in my morning coffee.  It means no trans fat.  Really, none.  No tropical oils.  It means no added syrups and sugars.  And it means brown grains instead of white.  Yup, that's whole wheat pasta and brown rice.

And one pound at a time, the children around you will change.  Actions speak louder than words.  Your actions.  When you make the right nutritional choices, children will watch.  And learn.  And mimic.  And suddenly eating breakfast becomes cool again. Fruit smoothies and homework suddenly seems like a great idea.  Making sandwiches stuffed with lean turkey, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and mustard on a whole grain bread is suddenly a great lunch.  

One pound at a time.


Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati is the director of The Cleveland Clinic's LifeStyle 180 program and a regular columnist for ShareWIK.com

 

More Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati articles, click here.

 

Mar 14

Once upon a time, I dreamed of going to a place where the blue sea united with the blue sky—both so grand the two blended into each other in blissful harmony.

 

Long ago, I saw a place like that in a photograph of the Greek Isles. From that moment on, that picture became the image of my youthful fantasy to see the world.

 

But I allowed life to put obstacles in my way. My weight blossomed to 340 pounds and hindered me from living my life to the fullest. The person who dreamed of the place where the sea kissed the sky was too heavy to take the journey of her dreams.

 

Determination turned my cumbersome existence around. I took one step at a time, first dramatically changing my diet, then moving my butt, exercising. When I first began, I couldn't even walk a mile. Even still, I believed I had the power within me to turn my life around to start making my dream to travel to the Greek Isles come true.

 

It took me five years, but I lost 185 pounds. I know I am not where I need to be yet, but the road ahead of is much less than the one behind me.

 

My determined steps led me to being much healthier and far more agile. A celebration was in order for the “normal-sized” me, a chance to acknowledge my escape from my life-long burden of being obese.

 

Turning 50 was my most recent crossroad. To mark this milestone birthday, I headed to the place of my childhood dreams to see the blue sea kiss the blue sky.

 

Mesmerized by its beauty, I spent hours gazing at the serenity I had always longed to experience. I was overwhelmed with the realization that wishes can come true if you believe in yourself and dare to make your desires become a reality.

 

For me, Santorini, Greece is the most beautiful spot on earth--a place where the blue sea kisses the blue sky and dreams come true.

 


Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight


 

© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2010    

What does it take to change a behavior?  Believe it or not, as little as five minutes.   

Go rummage in your kitchen for a timer, or just set your device of choice for five minutes.  Then, get to work.  It doesn’t matter whether it's cleaning that dreaded closet in anticipation of spring (yup, they say it's just around the corner...), or attempting to perform some form of exercise.  Chances are pretty good that you'll stick with it for five minutes.  And, as importantly, chances are that you'll be pleased with the results.  Just think, a clean closet; or perhaps, 500 steps clocked on your pedometer.  Not bad!

Sometimes it's hard to get started with a new behavior.  And sometimes just thinking about how hard it might be is enough to stop you in your tracks.  That's why behavioral change can feel overwhelming.  But just think.  If you do it today for five minutes, then you can do it again for five minutes.  Maybe even tomorrow.  And the tomorrow after that.  And the name of the game for behavioral change -- for lifestyle modification -- is to sustain it.  Until it becomes so ingrained, it's like brushing your teeth everyday. 

So what are you waiting for? What behavior change are you going to spend five minutes doing today?


Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati is the former director of The Cleveland Clinic's LifeStyle 180 program and a regular columnist for ShareWIK.com

 

For more Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati articles, click here.

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

Mar 28
There are many things that are tough about dieting. 

Like many people, I have struggled with that empty feeling in my stomach. Skinny people will tell you to embrace hunger. Yea, like I can stop thinking about food when my stomach is growling like a grizzly bear. 

But are those skinny people right? Do you have to embrace it or can you just learn to live with that empty feeling in your gut?

Water has been my saving grace this week. When I am feeling that empty pit in my stomach I have reached for a tall glass of water and a piece of sugarless gum.

I will admit that going to bed hungry in a one word, SUCKS, but I have done it plenty of times during my downsizing. 

Frankly, most nights when I hit the bed I am so exhausted that I am asleep in just a few minutes.  When I wake up I am so glad that I didn’t give in to my stomach before I went to bed and often in the morning the scale has rewarded me for my efforts.
 
Many diet plans recommend that you not eat after 7:30 at night or at least 3 hours before you go to bed. The theory is you are doing nothing but sleeping and you burn fewer calories during the night.  Granted you burn a few when you are sleeping but not many, so carbing up for a good nights rest isn’t a good idea. Sorry, no pint of ice cream before nightly night. 

Just give me a tall glass of water and I will burn a few calories getting up several times at night. 

Counting Calories 

The government recommends a daily caloric intake for women at 1,600 and 2,200 for men.  

Learn to count calories. The good, the bad and the just plain shouldn’t have in your diet. When you realize how much you are eating it will help you realize what you will need to do to lose your extra pounds. 

Measure out your food. Cut up veggies in advance. Spend time on the weekend preparing foods and portioning them up for the week. It sets you up to eating better during the week. 

Use spray oils lightly. There are calories in spray oils.  There are calories in them and they are measured in serving portions that are hard to achieve. Read the can and try to achieve a serving portion.

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.
 
More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.
More on Losing Weight
©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010   


Apr 13

One recent afternoon, I was indulging in the simple pleasure of channel surfing on my TV when I landed on an episode of Dr. Phil.   

That afternoon, it was the fat people versus the skinny people.  

Not too unexpected, everyone on the set was yelling at each other about how fat people were being treated on airlines. The loud discussion was focused on how large people should purchase two seats if they spilled over onto another paying customer’s seat.

I could relate to the overweight panelists who were offended, feeling they were being singled out because of their size. I remember a flight when the attendant followed me after I boarded the plane, waving a seatbelt extender behind me.  After I found my seat, she made a scene, making sure the whole plane knew I needed extra material to strap myself in during the flight.

The sticks and stones being thrown around the Dr. Phil set by both the skinny people and the fat people rang all to familiar to me. 

On the skinny side of the debate was Jillian Michaels, trainer on The Biggest Loser; MeMe Roth, president of the anti-fat organization National Action Against Obesity; Michael Karolchyk, owner of the Anti-Gym. 

On the other side of the bench were the “fat” people: Peggy Howell from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance; Marianne Kirby, author of Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere; Erica Watson, star of the one-woman show "Fat Bitch."  And there was poor Kelly Osborne trying to tell the story from both sides of the fence.  (By the way, Osborne looks fabulous and she really seems to have a handle of what it takes to stay that way.)

From the skinny side of the bench: "To believe that fat people are discriminated against, you have to believe that obesity is an innate state, like race, like sexual orientation. Obesity is not an innate state," said MeMe Roth.

From the fat side of the bench: "My body is not public property. It’s no one else’s business to tell me what I should be doing with my body," said Peggy Howell.

The heated debate was so involved that it was subject for not one, but two episodes of Dr. Phil. The more the heavy people talked, the more they were shot down for their opinions on the entire debate.

It was truly the fat people vs. the skinny people.

I just sat there listening to the jabs.  I have lived my life on both sides of the hefty debate. I remember how hurtful the insults were as they were thrown in my direction.  Like the many times I walked down the street and someone yelled, “Lard ass.”  I know all too well from personal experience that there is a bias in this country toward the obese.

People should be able to live their lives as they choose but as a lighter person, I know that I am healthier for my efforts of losing as much weight as I did.    

There is no debating that point.

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight




 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

Apr 25

When I set out to lose weight several years ago, I thought I was going on yet another diet.  What I realized after a few months was that if I was going to really get rid of my weight—and keep it off—I needed to change my whole relationship with food.  

That meant that everything—from how much I ate to what I ate—had to change. 

When I weighed 340 pounds, I actually thought I ate healthy.  But I was fooling myself.  Hey, I only went through a drive-thru once or twice a week.  And compared to most Americans, I thought that was pretty good.  

One of the first things I did was begin to take note of what the “skinny” people at my office ate for lunch.  I noticed a lot of them went to the salad bar, skipped the bread and asked for smaller portions of the cafeteria’s “Specials.”  Initially, I joined them in line at the salad bar; but after a few weeks of the same thing, day-after-day, I began to pack my own lunches. By packing, I could cut down on expenses and, at the same time, offer myself more variety.

I learned that healthy eating wasn’t just a concept.  With a little planning, it could become a reality for me.

Here is a look at my lunch shopping list and how I organize two weeks of lunches with a single trip to my local health food store.

“Pack it smart and healthy” is my new lunchtime motto.

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight


 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 

May 23

Every time I think about my friend, Willa I get a lump in my throat because I wish I could have done more to help her.

 

Willa passed away over a year ago and I still have a hard time gathering my thoughts about a woman whose heart was a big as her smile. Her passing brought me to tears; and even now, as I think about her and how dedicated she became to losing weight and getting healthier, I cry. 

 

Unfortunately, time ran out for her.

 

Willa worked in the cafeteria in my office during the day and cleaned offices at night.  She struggled to get through her days as a woman who weighed 440 pounds. The small task of walking around the eatery took her longer than most but she always did it with a smile on her face and without complaint.

 

Several years ago, I noticed that her white food service jacket was getting big on her and I asked her if she was losing weight. She came from behind the counter and put her finger on my nose and told me that I had inspired her to lose weight.  (I had already lost over 100 pounds at the point.)


Jun 06


Seventy million Americans are overweight and I was one of those obese souls.

At 340 pounds, I classified myself as pleasingly plump, but my doctors preferred the term morbidly obese. They urged me to have “the surgery,” but I turned a deaf ear to the skinny people in their white coats.


Finally at midlife, I took off my rose-colored glasses and realized I had a problem, a rather large one at that. I was all too aware that diets don’t work, and in the end most people wind up heavier for their efforts. It was my problem and I had to solve it.


700,000 CALORIES AND COUNTING


I purchased many weight-loss programs over the years, but never put them into action. So I went into my closet of good intentions and began teaching myself how to incorporate healthy food and exercising to burn off what I ate. I became my own trainer and nutritionist, lost 200 pounds and burned more than 700,000 calories to accomplish that feat.


Eating healthfully and working out does work. Who knew?


I will never regret my decision to change my life. There have been many bumps in the road but in the end I am glad that I learned from the available healthy tools that weight loss is about teaching your self better eating and exercise habits.


CALORIES IN, CALORIES OUT


Weight loss comes down to a simple math equation: Calories in, calories out.


Few weight-loss options seem to have lasting results, which has led to the circus of snake-oil salesmen hawking their flim-flam solutions that seldom work. The quick fixes don’t work, and with every passing year more and more people are becoming heavier and heavier.


Save your money on the quick-fix solutions and use the money for all the cute clothes that you will soon be able to buy.


I hope you find the power within yourself to make your wishes come true for a better life.



Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 


Jun 20

The minute I realized that I was no longer tucking my kids in at bedtime, I knew I had to make a change. 


This may sound like a strange thing to change your life, but I wasn’t tucking them in because their bedrooms were on the second floor.  I had no energy to walk up the stairs in the evening.  My 7 year old would make me promise I would tuck her in.  I lied right to her beautiful little face so many times when I said I would be up before she fell asleep. 


I’ve fought the weight so many times.  It always came back (and brought a few friends along).  Sitting at my desk…commuting…and sitting at home in the evening;  I hated the word, but I was, in fact, sedentary.   The scale was tipping and I was panicking. I had tried everything…was there anything that would work for me?


I went to see my therapist, Susan.  I knew she would help me with my plan.  I knew this, because we had done it so many times before.  “Susan, I’ve given up sugar”…”Susan, I’m doing Weight Watchers”…”Susan, I’m trying Jenny Craig”.  There had been so many attempts to become the person who I was on the inside.  I remember telling a friend that the person she sees is not who I really am.  I had no idea how to let the real me come out to play.


Thankfully, I did one thing differently this time.  I asked Susan’s advice.   She told me about a new program she had heard about at the Cleveland Clinic called Lifestyle 180.  I couldn’t think of a better definition of what I wanted to achieve than a Lifestyle 180.  This felt right and I signed up.


For six weeks, in our twice-weekly sessions we learned how to live the “180 lifestyle.”  We had classes in nutrition, healthy cooking, yoga, and stress management.   We learned how to use healthy ingredients and cooking methods to make some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten in my life.


I realized how confused I had been about nutrition.  High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a great example.  I had been reading a book about HFCS.  The author said that it was bad for you; but playing in the back of my head was the commercial where the one mom says, “You let your kids have high fructose corn syrup?  You know what they say…” and the other mom says, “What? That it’s is made from corn and is all natural?”   There was so much conflicting information that I couldn’t discern what was real. (Note: we learned in 180 that HFCS is pretty darn bad for you.)


And we worked out.  Our trainer worked us hard, but she made it fun.  She made sure we pushed ourselves but not too hard.  It seems one of the keys to becoming fit, is to gradually work your way up.  I think this keeps injuries away that might halt your progress.    I remember so many times when I would be gung ho for my new fitness program (often on New Years Day), and within the first week I had hurt my ankle and was back to sitting on the couch.  The 180 program got us to a level where we were fit enough to work out.


So what was the result of the first six weeks?   I began to have real energy!  I kept moving long after I got home in the evening.  I was constantly joining the kids in activities.  I went swimming with them when I took them to swim.  We did walking videos in the winter when it was too cold to walk outside.  I laughed when my 9 year old would make up an excuse to go check on something in her room because she couldn’t finish my workout!  I was no longer waiting to live once I lost enough weight…I was living!


I also learned the secret to losing weight.  Persistence.  It’s not like a video game that has harder levels.  You just learn the basics and then keep doing it.  Nothing magic, nothing more difficult than the day I said this was how I was going to live.  You just have to keep living your healthy lifestyle.  You will get off track.  But you know exactly what to do to get back on track.  It’s the same as you did the day before you got off track.  And the same as so many days that will come.  Follow the rules of the program and feel the rewards.


So has it been a perfect journey? No.  I lost my dear grandfather this March and I took it badly.  Some of my coping skills from before 180 reared their ugly heads.  Comfort eating…not making myself a priority….it was nowhere near a perfect time.  But we were prepared for what to do when we slipped…so I slipped and then got back on track. 


Do not take those last words lightly…I have NEVER, EVER been able to course correct before.  Once I had fallen off of a diet, it was done.  I was a perfectionist in the least helpful sense of the word.  If it wasn’t perfect, it was failure.  And, if I failed (aka was not perfect) at eating properly, everything was fair game. 


So where am I today?  In 30 weeks, I have lost 30 pounds; my cholesterol is within 10 points of the healthy range; I have stopped taking heartburn and anxiety medication; heck, my face even cleared up.  I turned 40 on May 16th of this year.  I kicked off the celebration with my first 5K on May 15th.


If you are struggling with being overweight - don’t give up!  Consult experts.  Commit to yourself and the people you love.  Find what works for you and make a change.  Before you know it, you’ll be 30 weeks down the road; and I can tell you that the view is great from here!

 

Lisa T is the mother of three children and lives in the Cleveland area.  


©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jun 20

Summer time in the Midwest

 

I live in Cleveland.  And Summer, my favorite season, lasts only a few short months.  All I can do is think about how I am going to fit in all the warm weather things I love to do in such a short period of time; walking, farmers markets and of course my first love, swimming.

 

I moved back to my beloved Ohio nearly 15 years ago after a long stint in South Florida. I think I moved back just to be near the fresh tasty riches that come from the fertile fields of my homeland.  Buying produce right out the hands of the farmers that grew the treasures is not only good for the economy but for your waistline as well.

 

My grandmother instilled upon me at an early age, “Honey, if it doesn’t smell like what it should taste like, then don’t buy it.”

 

The first farmer's market opened this month and I was all to eager to take a walk at lunchtime to see what was available early in the season.

 

Tables full of strawberries were the first things I spotted as I approached the handful of stalls. The smell of the farm-fresh berries was intoxicating. I bought two quarts and happily passed by the booths with yummy baked goods knowing that I had something better to eat in my sack.

 

I went back to the office and washed them off and polished off a quart at my desk. A coworker stopped by and commented that they couldn’t believe I ate the whole quart but the irony was that person was holding a bag of chips from the vending machine. I pointed out that the chip bag had more calories than the quart of pure nutrition that I just devoured. I am not sure that person really got the message.  Oh well, their loss.

 

Summer time is here and those lush fragrant sweet berries were just the beginning of what is to come. 


I can hardly wait for peach season.

 

5 Tips to Take Advantage of Fruits in Season: 

  • Take the time to visit your local farmer’s market and meet the people that grow the sweet treasures of summer. 
  • Buy extras and freeze them.  Frozen blueberries, strawberries and yes, peaches, taste great in smoothies. 
  • Eat fresh berries after dinner to satisfy your sweet tooth and avoid high-calorie, high-fat desserts. 
  • Try grilling peaches to use as a side dish instead of noodles or potatoes.
  • And don’t forget to load up on the fresh basil and make pesto.  You can make a couple batches and freeze the extras to bring summer to mind during the winter months.    

Well, I’m off to go hit the pool and do some laps. The TV is off for the summer and it is truly the season of perpetual motion for me.

 

Enjoy!

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

Jul 05

The hour is early—well, at least it is for me.  The neighborhood birds are squawking louder than what I can sleep through. (Don’t those feathery creatures know that it isn’t even 5 a.m.?)

 

As I toss and turn trying to figure out a way to muffle the birds’ constant chirping, I can’t help but think of everything that is on my plate for the day: the balancing act that is my life.

 

I sit here typing before the sun comes up, running through my to-do list.  What needs to be done today?  At work?  At home?  And then, of course, when will I get my workout in?  And how much time will I have to devote to it in the few hours that I can call my own?

 

I went to the local swimming pool yesterday and enjoyed every minute that I got to spread my wings and glide through the water. I love the freedom that swimming allows me, especially the quiet it provides to just let my mind go and my thoughts run wild as the water washes over me.

 

When you’ve been overweight most of your life, like I have, working out daily isn’t an option.  Working out isn’t part of “diet plan” or a fad that I’m into—it is part of my lifestyle.  Everyday, without fail, I have to move my butt.  Period. 

 

And because exercise isn’t optional for me, I try to find ways to make it enjoyable.  Some days I walk along the lakefront or in my neighborhood.  On other days, I work out to an exercise tape, do Pilates, go to the gym or take a friend along to join me in whatever I’m doing. 

 

But my all-time favorite thing to burn calories is swim. 

 

There are only two months out of the year that I can make my early morning swims a part of my daily workout routines and I try to fit it in as many as I can as the weather and my schedule allows. The fact that my morning crawl at 50 yards a minute burns about 540 calories per hour is a great plus for me.

 

I know that swimming isn’t for everyone but walking in water helps take the pressure off aching joints and provides 12 times the resistance of air. The calories you could burn can equal my efforts of doing my morning swim.

 

Every morning the pool is filled with older women walking back and forth for hours.  One woman is there every morning.  She is 86-years-old and walks beside my swimming lane.  She often comments how glad she is to be there every day and smiles about how she looks forward to just waking up tomorrow and getting her feet wet.

 

I just smile back and tell her I couldn’t agree more. 

 

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

Jul 19

Several years ago, Joy Bauer started a segment for the TODAY show called “The Joy Fit Club.”  Membership into her club was limited to those people who had lost more than 100 pounds. Currently, there are over 100 members of in Joy’s club and our hope is to encourage others to follow in our footsteps and become healthier by reducing our weight.

 

Another member of this elite club is my friend John Staton of Michigan.

Like me, John is also on a mission to get the word out that living a healthy lifestyle can have lasting results for your waistline.

 

He started a blog that follows his ups and downs about weight loss. His most recent entry was heartfelt and all to true for so many people that can’t find their way out of a weight problem

 

Obesity Kills

 

Today's blog is not a "happy" blog. While I prefer to focus on the positive and convince you of all the reasons you can and should lose weight from a positive perspective, there is, of course, a very negative side to obesity. I was reminded of that just this week.

 

First, a bit of background.

 

When I lost 230 pounds, I found myself with several boxes and bags of clothing that I could no longer wear. Most of the stuff was size 5x or 6x or 64 to 66 inch waists. I had paid a lot of money for those clothes. My job required professional dress, so within those items were pants, dress shirts, etc. that cost a couple hundred bucks each,

in some cases. I had a hard time parting with the clothes because of the money I had invested, so I tried to sell them on Craig's List. I had a few bites, but nothing panned out, so in the end, I decided to just give them away. I was going to take them to Goodwill but then I thought about it a little bit more and decided to give them to someone I thought could really use them.

 

I took the clothes to his house and he was indeed very grateful. He was especially grateful for the winter coat as he had been surviving Michigan's winters with nothing more than a sweatshirt jacket. He was also very grateful because he could not afford to buy the clothes he really needed. Wal-Mart and K-mart only carry up to 3x and the clothes I special-ordered were out of his budget.

 

I found out that the gentleman I gave these clothes to passed away this week, at the age of 42. He leaves a loving wife and young son. He had many health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure. I didn't have a chance to talk to him again after giving him the clothes and now I really wish I had taken the time to stay in touch with him.

 

This occurrence reminded me of something that most Americans refuse to acknowledge. Obesity kills. Our culture as a whole refuses to acknowledge this truth. We place Surgeon General warnings on cigarettes, but take our kids to McDonalds 3 times per week. We tell kids they can't consume alcohol until they're 21, but we cook box after box of unhealthy macaroni and cheese and serve it to them with a breadstick and "Juicy Juice."

 

Our nation has a death wish, and unfortunately, that death wish is being visited upon our children as well. Statistics out this week showed that obesity increased in 28 states from 2008 to 2009, including Michigan, which is ranked #10 nationwide. Michigan is on the cusp of passing the mark where 1/3 of its citizens are obese. Perhaps even more disturbing is the realization of how this trend has skyrocketed in a short period of time. Today, more than 2/3 of states have an obesity rate above 25-percent, whereas only 20 short years ago, NO state had a rate above 20 percent.

 

Enough is enough. It's too late for my friend, but I know he is now in a better place, but his son will grow up without his dad, and that is a profound injustice. We can do better. We MUST do better.

 

If you struggle with obesity, take a step - ANY STEP - today, and begin your journey to health and wellness. I began by walking to the end of my driveway and back and started paying attention to what I was eating for the first time in my life. YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

 

Please, don't let yourself become a statistic - do something about it - NOW.

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

Aug 01

Who isn’t watching their pennies these days?

 

My job is to keep up on the news and, to top it all off, I work as a designer for the business section of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.  I call it the department of doom and gloom.

 

The only good news in the business world is that because the economy is so bad we won’t be lacking for stories any time soon. 

 

When the economy is this bad, how do you buy nutritional items without going broke Sure a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is a cheap meal.  But it is far from being a nutritional meal. (Frankly, I think the box has more nutrients and fiber than what’s inside.)

 

When I am grocery shopping, I often find myself looking at other people’s carts and I wondering what they’re thinking buying so much junk. God gave us one body and it is our duty to take care of it.  Eat healthy, be wise with your money and enjoy the temple that you’ve been given. 

 

Eating right on a budget is tough but it can be done with some planning.

 

6 Tips to Shopping Healthy while Sticking to a Budget:  

 

1.   Make a list and stick to it.
2.   Shop the sales.
3.  Limit how much you eat out. Not great for the restaurant business but I am not alone in this rule. When I do go out I try to go to family places so that they can stay in business. They have more pride in what they are serving and are they grateful for your patronage.
4.  Pack your lunch and dinner.  I work a swing shift and this allows me to stay on my diet with little effort.
5.  Take advantage of the frozen veggies. There is no waste and they are far more economical.
6.  Search out the discount stores and compare prices. Target has great prices on staples; so does Costco. 

 

Put good calories into your body and your body will return the favor by remaining healthy. 

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Aug 15

Several years ago, I knew that if I was going to reach my goal of losing a great deal of weight that I needed to set up my own home gym.


I took the extra space in my basement and started added workout tools. I put a TV and boom box down there so that I wouldn’t get bored. I can’t make any excuses about why I can’t get to the gym, mine is only down a flight of stairs. It isn’t anything fancy but it’s worked for me.


Here are few of the readily available tools in my underground gym.


ACCUSPLIT AE170 Pedometer with Steps, Distance, and Calories Burned.


My dad gave me my first pedometer. I have used this brand for over 5 years and I just love it. I tell my friends and neighbors that I have walked my butt off in the community where I live and it’s true. This little trooper has helped me keep track of my long walks with my dog, Jerry. Every journey starts with a single step and this product has helped me keep track of my progress.


The Biggest Loser Workout, Volume One

Great workout that will tone and shape. Great place to start.


The Biggest Loser Workout: Power Sculpt and Cardio Max

This two-DVD series is a wonderful second step in getting fit.


Gaiam Pilates taught by Ana Caban —

Pilates is much easier to learn from a DVD than yoga. Half the time while learning yoga you are bent like a pretzel making it hard to see the TV. Plus Ana is great instructor. In order to fully utilize the video, make sure to grab a Covered Resistance Cord Kit at the same time as the DVD.


Core Secrets by Gunnar Peterson —

Good whole-body workouts. Focuses on building a strong core and overall flexibility.


Bring your bike inside and put it on a stationary rack


Exercise mat, hand weights and toning bands


Stamina Aero Pilates with Cardio Rebounder, Stand and Workout DVDs

Most expensive item in my collection but, once I dusted it off, it has been a wonderful machine for toning.


Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  


More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.



Aug 30

I hate to disappoint you but this column has little to do with sex, contains no lies.  And so I guess that leaves videotapes as the topic of the day.

 

Since I have already established that I hate going to the gym, I have found the best way to get my fanny moving is to pop a videotape or DVD into my TV. 

 

I am a sucker for those late night infomercials and I have quite the collection of items that have promised to make me look like Christy Brinkley in a matter of weeks. In the past, I thought that just buying a workout tape was all the effort that I needed to make me look fit and healthy. Wrong. You actually have to do the workout and not just pop the video in the TV. 

 

Over time I have learned, at least for me, not all workouts are created equally. I love the ones in my workout suggestions. They do a great job of taking it a bit slow at first so that you don’t get discouraged. When I pop in a new one and all they do is scream at you to move your butt I tend to pop it back out and add it to my pile of forget this workout tape.

 

There are some workouts that are best for a studio situation like yoga. Who doesn’t want to relieve stress through working out but when you are bent up like a pretzel it is hard to see the TV screen.

 

Pilates fits the relaxing and toning bill for me and you can actually do the workout and see what the instructor is telling you to do.

 

I am always keeping my eye out for a new workout to mix up my routines.  A trip to Target always exercise routine.

 

 

The Biggest Loser Workout, Volume One — Great workout that will tone and shape. Great place to start.

 

The Biggest Loser Workout: Power Sculpt and Cardio Max — This two-DVD series is a wonderful second step in getting fit.

 

Gaiam Pilates taught by Ana Caban — Pilates is much easier to learn from a DVD than yoga. Half the time while learning yoga you are bent like a pretzel making it hard to see the TV. Plus Ana is great instructor. In order to fully utilize the video, make sure to grab a Covered Resistance Cord Kit at the same time as the DVD.

 

Core Secrets by Gunnar Peterson — Good whole-body workouts. Focuses on building a strong core and overall flexibility.

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

 

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Sep 12

My family will tell you in a loud voice that I used to be a salt-aholic. 


I would grab for the saltshaker without even tasting my food. Not a good habit. Most are in agreement that your daily intake of salt should be kept to a minimum—in fact, our daily intake should be only a teaspoon.  This includes all the salt that is hidden in most processed foods.

 

Since starting my new way of eating, I have cut back and frankly have put my saltshaker on vacation for the last several weeks. I use a lower sodium hot sauce if I feel the need to flavor my food.

 

I haven’t really given it much thought until this weekend when I was having lunch with my parents at Panera. I ordered the Low-fat chicken noodle soup; I am fighting a cold and it seemed like the thing to do.

 

The soup was served lukewarm and I sent it back but the salty taste from one spoonful stayed with me all day.  I did a web search on the nutritional value of the soup and learned that just one cup had 1110mg of sodium or 46% of your daily intake of salt.  Lesson learned!

 

7 Tips to lower your daily sodium intake: 

 


  • I have taken the saltshaker off my spice shelf and have replaced it with Vege-Sal Vegetized Seasoning Salt. It is lower in sodium than salt and its mix of spices and vegetables gives my food a nice flavor without all the sodium. I find it my local grocery store or health food market.
  • Use herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking and at the table. 
  • To add flavor to your food, use low sodium hot sauce or soy sauce.
  • Buy fresh, plain frozen or canned “with no salt added vegetables or better, use fresh.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned or processed types.
  • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.
  • Choose "convenience" foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings — these often have a lot of sodium.  If you still want to eat them, at least take the time to look up on the internet the nutritional values in the food you’re eating.  It’s a real eye-opener. 


 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

 

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

 

 

While sweating profusely on the elliptical and reading The New York Times, I stumbled upon an article that only added further credibility to my belief in the concept of exercise and sweat equity.  People are STILL searching for the Magic Pill for losing weight and loving themselves and their bodies, I thought.  Really??!!!

 

Enter “Bridalplasty,” the latest installment of Reality TV on “E” in which the contestants are a group of engaged women who ‘duke it out’ for the grand prize of reconstructive surgery and their dream, “Life of the Rich and Famous” wedding. Gone are the days of bridal showers, one of the episodes features an “injectibles” party!

 

The article explains that little is mentioned during the series about going to the gym and the sweat investment in preparing oneself for one of the biggest days in a woman’s life.  This is more about ways of slicing and dicing your body Heidi Montag style. As I always say to my clients, “And in 6 months later, where do you suppose these women will be?!”

 

I’m not the only professional speaking up about the misguided and unethical quality of this show.  The article quoted Dr. Gayle Gordillo, associate professor of surgery at Ohio State University, in an interview by ABC News that according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ code of ethics, they were “prohibited from giving procedures away as a prize for a contest. It totally undermines the doctor-patient relationship.”  Even the professionals who supposedly cater to this target population have a problem with it.

 

Here’s my best advice in order to avoid sabotaging your success in losing weight:

 

Rule #1: Never use an event or a person other than yourself as your motivator for losing weight.

This is a set up because once the occasion is over, so goes your resolve.

The motivation has to come from within and it has to be done for YOU alone!

 

The real reality is that there’s no magic, no shortcuts, just your own process which requires energy, hard work, plus continuous and sustained effort. Furthermore, there’s the learning curve factor—that is, making mistakes and learning from them so you can make lifelong behavioral changes and different choices the next time you’re faced with the same or a similar situation.  For example, let’s say you went to a party not having eaten much all day and begin drinking and eating and by the end of the evening, you feel stuffed, have no idea how much your ate or drank and the icing on the “proverbial cake” is that you go home and berate yourself and your body for all you ingested.  Add a large dose of self loathing and you have a recipe for unhappiness.

 

First of all, one main rule of thumb: Never go anyplace overly hungry!


That is no way to take care of yourself, that’s a set up for overeating & overdrinking.  Have a high protein snack like a turkey & cheese roll up or a protein bar before going to the party and know what your alcohol limit is before you enter into the Unconscious Buzzed Zone.  This is where the learning curve comes in.  Then the next time you go to a party, family dinner, or an event you will have learned that you need to check in with and listen to your body’s internal signals. You’ll save yourself from a hangover, extra pounds and a heavy dose of negative self talk! No need for a Magic Pill-the real magic is in learning to trust your body and learn its language. And remember to exercise.

 

Like diets, trips to the spa, eating only fat-free, gluten free or carb free foods, Bridalplasty is just another way of giving women the false hope in another quick fix and the message that if you have a perfect body, you’ll live happily ever after.

 

I can hear Billy Joel faintly crooning, “I love you just the way you are.”...

 

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.comShe is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

 

 

 

With Thanksgiving and Chanukah behind us and Christmas, Kwanza, and New Years still ahead, we are right in the thick of the holiday season.  This calls for creative measures for those who view the holidays as a sad reminder of lost family members and friends. Not everyone is in the jolly Hallmark spirit this time of year. 

 

There’s a lot of pressure to be happy, overindulge, give gifts, not to mention, the right gifts, and to be like the joyful, attractive family on one of the holiday cards you received.  But what if you’re one of the many people who struggle with a whole range of emotions this time of year?

 

Holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, even for those who love them. But for those of us who have lost friends and loved ones, holidays can be emotionally laden and bittersweet.  For many of my clients, this rollercoaster ride of emotions is a set up for using food to comfort and soothe their hearts and souls.  Eating for comfort has been the way they learned to take care of themselves.  That said, my clients have taught me a lot about the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

 

The challenge is to be creative…

 

One client, I’ll call her Sandy, lost her mother four years ago.  Ever since, she has felt tremendous sadness over her mother’s death during the holiday season.  Her habit has been to eat her way through the despair.  One afternoon she recognized that she was both physically hungry and sad about missing her mother, which normally would’ve have set her on a collision course with food.  But this time, instead of reaching for the cookies in her cabinet, she made a different choice.  She knew in her heart that the cookies would never fill the longing she had for her mother.  Instead, she made a big pot of her mother’s chicken soup, the favorite comfort food of her childhood.  This creative solution provided nourishment for her body and soul—enabling her to acknowledge her sadness and be filled up with the sweet memory of and connection to her mother.

 

Another client, John, grew up in a large family, and was the youngest of six children.  Always feeling ignored, unacknowledged and upstaged by his older siblings, he sought solace in food and became the target of his siblings’ jokes.  The only time he felt unconditionally loved was when he was with his grandparents who doted on him, perceptively realizing that he was the “forgotten” child.  Named after his grandfather, John not only shared a special bond with him, but he always felt appreciated and valued when he was in his grandfather’s presence.  His fondest memory was every year before Christmas, his grandparents would take him to the store and have him pick out whatever toy he wanted, something they never did with their other grandchildren.  After they passed away, John, now an adult, would find himself overeating during the holidays and feeling an enormous sense of longing for his late grandparents.  One day he came into our session and told me he had stopped his compulsive overeating, recognizing that food never made him feel the way his grandparents did.  So in honor of their old tradition, he bought himself a gift he truly wanted and then visited their grave to thank them for it.

 

On a personal note, I too, struggle with this time of year having lost my father to a sudden, fatal heart attack 18 years ago on New Year’s Eve.  I never thought that I’d be able to go into a new year again without it being tinged with feelings of sadness and loneliness. These were emotions that always drove me to emotional eating in the early years of my grief.  Like others, I acknowledged that stuffing my feelings down with food was never going to physically bring my father back to share my life and experience the joys of being a grandparent.  However, I realized that I could bring him back emotionally and spiritually by getting together with my two closest cousins who spent a lot of time and holidays with my father after I had moved away.  We now either talk by phone or get our families together on New Year’s Eve and reminisce over funny stories about my father. But no evening is complete without my cousin’s hilarious impersonation of my father, which always gives us a good belly laugh… a much better way to ring in the New Year!

 

Happy Holidays and remember to be creative!

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.comShe is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jan 02

Oprah Winfrey’s first name is actually a spelling mistake made by a birthing nurse in deep Mississippi in 1954.  The child, born into abject poverty and a dysfunctional family situation, was named for the biblical character, Orpah—sister-in-law of Ruth, the consummate convert to Judaism, and a maternal ancestor, according to Christianity, of Jesus.  But our Oprah, the ultimate American media icon and true philanthropist, the racial precursor of Barack Obama, is perfectly suited to be herself—even if her name, her credo, and her soul don’t line up in letters.

 

Last year, in yet another stirring and admirable personal drama, Ms. Winfrey went very public with her latest weight gain.  She even authorized a cover photo for her magazine, O, showing the 200+ pound Oprah gazing painfully at her earlier svelte and flat-stomached self from several years ago.  She made several printed, Internet, and televised statements decrying her failure and vowing to return to her slimmer self.  She has inspired many to deal more scrupulously with the maddening crucible of weight control and our vast insecurities.

 

There is hardly a more pervasive and spiritually-challenging struggle in American life, our vanities and narcissism notwithstanding, than the struggle that so many of us—particularly women—are constantly afflicted with than our weight and physical appearance.  This is not to say that there aren’t an extraordinary number of fat men in the US.  It is to say that men are not held to the excruciating, even callous standards that the media, the fashion world, food industry, the gossip culture, and, yes, men impose on women. 

 

Men can indulge and look like roly-poly caricatures, and—their metabolic and cardiovascular systems aside—still not be humiliated at work, in a store, or even on television.

 

In making her confessional so public and bold (a continuing tradition that speaks to Oprah Winfrey’s disarming honesty and self-revelation), this remarkable woman has again proven that she is one of the most spiritually-centered and mentally healthy women or men in this country.

 

Oprah Winfrey, the child of unmarried and reckless parents, rose from destitution and a tormented youth to become the most powerful and influential woman in television and, according to Forbes Magazine, the world's most highly paid entertainer. Though primarily recognized as a talk show hostess, Winfrey also produces and occasionally acts in television movies and feature films that are invariably value-redemptive.  But her greatest wealth is the moral currency she brings to the American social scene—with her candor, convictions, and unrelenting commitment to self-improvement.  Even as she glitters, we still see the vulnerable and abused child from Mississippi who overcame exploitation, racism, stereotyping in terms of skin color and body shape, and is now our de facto cultural prime minister.

 

In an America brimming dangerously with anorexia, teenage suicide, blatant chauvinism, a saturation of antidepressants, a sea of vanity, and viral greed, Oprah Winfrey has never been afraid to name symptoms and advocate cures.  This standard she has now again applied objectively to herself and I say, God bless her.

 

Ben Kamin is one of America's best known rabbis, a multicultural spiritualist, NYT Op-ed contributor and author of seven books, including his latest, "NOTHING LIKE SUNSHINE: A Story in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination."  He is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. To find out more about Ben, go to: www.benkamin.com 

More Ben Kamin articles, click here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Cara has been seeing me in therapy for several years for help with her food and weight issues.  A bright, attractive woman married to a great guy, she has a significant amount of weight to lose.  Over the years, she has lost weight through dieting only to gain back more than she originally lost. The extra weight holds her back sexually with her husband, decreases her physical activity and has contributed to arthritic pain. She fears that cancer, heart problems or diabetes could be in her future.  

  

Through the course of our work, she has made tremendous progress in multiple areas. She’s set up her life to pursue her many creative gifts, including building a career that combines her business savvy with her passions.  She and her husband have improved their communication.  She has widened her network of support and developed deeper and more authentic friendships. 


However, her weight has barely budged.  Frustrated with herself and this therapy process, she wonders if the change will ever take place. She has trouble trusting that, in fact, she has been putting the pieces in place for her to finally succeed. 


There is a term in Science called “homeostasis,” defined as: the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition.  Family therapists use this term to describe the family system.  Members of a family often feel pressure to remain the same so as not to throw the system off balance. Rigid families discourage change, while flexible families are more likely to evolve in positive directions together.


In a healthy family, the dramatic weight loss of one member may cause everyone to get healthier; the system is flexible enough to “bend” and it can re-organize itself at a higher (healthier) level. But in a rigid family system, one member losing weight may put too much pressure on the family. Sometimes the family cannot bend that far, and it breaks.  


For Cara, the fear of this break is at the root of her weight problem.  Losing the weight for good will take a profound and deep mental shift. In order to consistently make the daily changes, she will have to re-write her family story--a story which was composed generations ago.  Then she will need courage to hold onto her new story while remaining engaged with her closest family members. 


Cara grew up in a working class family in a small town.  Her parents divorced when she was a kid and it was her job to care for her younger sister, do well in school and be the emotional caretaker for her parents.  As a child she comforted herself with food (like everyone in her family).  No one spoke of, nor thought about, the concept of emotional needs.  Life was about daily survival.


Cara grew up fast.  Bright, exceedingly capable and responsible, she pretended that she was fine so as not to trouble her family. Over the years, her weight climbed as she buried her feelings in food.  She went to college, got a job and left her small town for the big city.  


Cara was saddled with two conflicting family messages: while it was her role to bring esteem to her family (they loved to “brag on” her successes) it was also conveyed that she should never act “too good” for her family. The no-win message was: “Succeed!... but don’t make us feel bad about ourselves.  Make us proud, but don’t get too big for your britches.” 


As an adult, Cara can now see from the outside how her family has made and continues to make poor life decisions, how they are often the cause of their own misery. There is a sense of fatalism and passivity in her family. In all the things they say and do, this message is conveyed: We are unlucky.  Bad things happen to us.  Let’s pray things get better some day, but we might as well EAT since our fate is out of our control.


As a successful, married woman hundreds of miles away, Cara has proven to herself that she is the writer of her own script. But when it comes to her weight, Cara has bought the family myth: There is nothing I can do about it.  We’ll just see what happens.  Maybe someday it will change. 


But the core fear is that eating healthy, exercising and feeling good in her body will mean that she has out-grown her last connection to that which is familiar.  When she goes home, their idea of fun is eating lots of fattening and delicious food.  They bond through Food and the misery of being overweight.  If Cara makes a healthy food-choice in their presence, they chide her for being a “party-pooper.”  In her family the unhappy, over-weight women view women in healthy bodies as alien, superior creatures: it is an “Us vs. Them” mentality.


While being an “Us” may kill Cara, being a “Them” feels like abandoning (and being abandoned by) the family she loves.


Cara will need to accept that it is possible to BOTH take care of her body AND love and connect to her family members.  She will have to develop stronger psychological boundaries, so that their suffering does not become her burden to fix.  When they tease her for being healthy, she can learn to not take it personally.  Cara can find a new way be part of her family, with physical energy and healthy self-worth. 

   

There may be more tears shed in my office as she grieves the loss of the old, familiar way of being close to her family, but she can learn how to forge new healthier bonds without sacrificing her own well-being. 

   

Dina Zeckhausen is a nationally-known clinical psychologist and author who specializes in treating eating disorders and body image in both adults and adolescents. She is a weekly columnist for ShareWiK.com. You can visit her on the web at dinazeckhausen.com and MyEdin.org.

 

More Dina Zeckhausen articles, click here

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC    

Jan 02

Years ago, when I’d already lost a fair amount of weight and had 10 more pounds to shed, friends and relatives would often ask me what I was “doing.” In other words, what was my Big Secret for losing weight? At the time, I thought the answer seemed pretty obvious. I was eating less and moving my body more.

 

I know my “Big Secret” is easier said than done and may even sound a little flippant, as in ‘duh Ellen, thanks so much for that wonderful insight.’ But eating less and moving more has always been my “formula” for losing weight. The thing is I’ve never been a fan of the “special diets” with goofy names that require you to X out entire food groups – such as carbohydrates. Call me old school. But for some reason I still believe that eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is the best way to shed pounds and feel better in the long run (that and I DO love a heaping mound of mash potatoes from time to time!).

 

Having said that, through the years, I’ve learned some tips and tricks that have helped me and many of my coaching clients lose weight when the scale gets a little tipsier than we’d like.

 

Listed below are six of those tips, but please keep in mind that we’re all so different and therefore require different strategies, so pick and choose and experiment until you find some solutions that work well for YOU:

 

Be Clear About WHY You Want to Lose Weight – If you’re reading this you may be thinking ‘come on, Ellen: isn’t it obvious why I want to lose weight?’ No it isn’t. The truth is everyone has a slightly different reason for wanting to lose weight. Some people may want to “look better.” Others may want to be able to keep up with their grandkids. And some people – who are overweight and at risk for heart disease and diabetes ----may want to live long enough to see their child’s wedding when that happy day rolls around. I once worked with a coaching client who wanted to lose weight and get in better shape so she could cover stories, as a journalist, that required her to spend time hiking in mountainous terrain. The thing is that if we have an intrinsic, or internal motivation for losing weight, or for making any kind of change in our life, we’re more likely to reach our goal. So while a doctor may convince you that it’s a good idea for you to lose weight, that will only go so far. Unless you have your own reason for shedding the pounds and keeping the weight off, you won’t be as successful as someone who is inspired by an internal flame.

 

Write it Out – Many of us have heard that writing out our goals can help us achieve our dreams, and I’ve certainly found that to be true, both in my personal life and as a coach. So write out your goals and make sure they are specific. In other words, how much weight do you want to lose, and by when? And how often do you plan on exercising each week? Each day, look over your weight loss goals, as a reminder.

 

Make it Fun – Are weight loss and fun mutually exclusive? I don’t think so, though some believe otherwise. In my opinion, when we approach weight loss in the spirit of fun, finding recipes that we like and creating an exercise plan that is enjoyable, rather than sheer drudgery, we’re more likely to achieve our goals.  Case in point: I once had a client who incorporated dance into her exercise routine, and looked forward to “exercising” because it was an enjoyable activity rather than something she “had to do.” I’ve also worked with people who recorded their favorite TV programs and then watched them while they were on the treadmill, and looked forward to “their guilty pleasures,” as they put it. The point is that if you can find a way to enjoy your exercise routine you’re more likely to stick to it, and in doing so you’ll be more likely to lose weight.

 

Make an Appointment with Yourself – Everyone has a different way of doing this, but what I do is block off an hour each weekday for exercise – usually at the same time everyday. That strategy has been working for me for more than a decade, because it’s in writing, and I’m committed to maintaining my health through exercising regularly. Years ago, I used a paper calendar. These days, I use an electronic Google calendar, which allows me to color code my calendars, something that provides me with an odd and inexplicable lift. So give it a try. Make an appointment with yourself to move your body, and hold that appointment dear. Because your goals are important, and you’re worth it!

 

Seek Out Support – Have you ever had the experience of really, truly wanting to make a change in your life, but no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t seem to make it happen? If so, that doesn’t make you a lazy person or a hopeless case. It just may mean you need a little extra support. So consider joining a support group for people who want to lose weight, or hiring a coach. Coaches can help you over that invisible hump. We can help you set measurable, reasonable goals, assist you in creating a plan that works for you, help you identify and overcome any limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck, and hold you accountable to what you say you’re going to do.

 

Forgive Yourself  -- Unless you’re perfect, and I don’t know anyone who is, you’re probably going to experience some backsliding from time to time. Maybe you’ll get crazy busy with a work-related project and “forget” about exercising for a full week. Or perhaps you’ll indulge in a third piece of chocolate cake and feel glutton’s remorse.” We’ve all experienced our own version of that defining moment. The good news is that you have a choice, at that point. You can either beat yourself up and tell yourself that there’s no use in bothering to lose weight. Or you can be gentle with yourself, remind yourself that we all make mistakes, and forgive yourself. After all, tomorrow is another day, to start anew. Don’t forget that losing weight is a process,  not a destination, a path, if you will, to a healthier you.

 

What or who has helped you lose weight? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment, here on ShareWIK.com.

 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  

 

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group

How about starting the New Year differently this year?  Not with the latest fad diet, but with a new mentality? 


Why not begin the year by taking a deeper look into the myths and messages you bought into growing up that have shaped your belief system and prevented you from losing weight and living fully!  Open your mind to the possibility that by changing your way of thinking, you can choose a new reality this year.  Imagine giving up the self loathing and replacing it with love and respect for yourself and your body.  


Let me share part of my own journey… 


After years of jumping on the bandwagon of every diet craze under the sun, it suddenly dawned on me that diets don’t work or there wouldn’t be a new one out on the market every week. When I began dieting it was fashionable to do the Stillman Diet, the Atkins Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, while today some of the more popular fads include the Hollywood Cookie Diet, Super Smoothie Diet & the South Beach Diet.  I was looking for a “magic bullet.”  One myth is that there’s some magic solution; another myth is that it's all about willpower.   


Realizing that while all my diets started with the best of intentions, they always ended in yet another cycle of deprivation and bingeing, leaving me feeling depressed and hopeless. 

The truth is that dieting is not about the food, it’s about your emotions and what you’re truly hungering for.  Unfortunately, most diets don’t teach you any skills or tools to help you deal with all the emotional underpinnings that must be addressed if weight loss is to be permanent.  


The epiphany came when I realized this was a process and change wouldn’t happen overnight. Change takes place with consistent, sustained effort, energy, and by making mistakes—and most importantly, learning from them.  


This was going to be a marathon, not a sprint. 


While living in Boston, I created Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet program for managing weight, changing eating habits and making peace with food, one’s body and oneself.  Now after 30 years, I can see how developing Slimworks was my way of not only healing my own disordered eating, but also my attitudes and beliefs about myself and my body.  These beliefs contributed to my being locked into a diet mentality and the insidious cycle of deprivation and bingeing that kept me from living fully.  


Sound familiar? 


In my Slimworks groups I ask my clients to think about the internalized messages told to them as children by their parents, siblings, peers, extended family, society, etc. about food, weight, their bodies, and themselves. 


Here's some of the most common:  

§  Finish your plate because there are starving children in …

§  You shouldn’t eat ______ or you’ll get fat.

§   Thin people are happy, successful, popular, have it all.

§   Eat something, food will make you feel better…

 

Being told to finish your plate because of the starving children living wherever your parents said they were, is a recipe for eating out of guilt and without regard to your true, internal hunger or your internal point of satisfaction.  The more you eat out of guilt or to please others, the more you lose touch with your body’s inner signals and your own needs.  This only leads to an inability to trust your body. 


Being told you “shouldn’t” eat something sets up a dynamic which makes you want to REBEL—usually causing the opposite to happen. It also adds an unhealthy dose of fear to whatever the food is since you are now convinced that you are destined to be fat if you eat it.  


As for the notion that thin people are happy, successful, popular, have it all… when you think about it, aren’t there thin people you know that are unhappy, have problems, and are not where they want to be in life?  Being thin doesn’t come with an automatic key to happiness and success.  That comes from within and takes time and experience to cultivate.  


And finally, eating something to make you feel better only works temporarily.  It will never fill the emptiness inside.  It will only serve to stuff down the emotions that need to be expressed, not suppressed.  So your time is better spent practicing communicating your feelings, not giving yourself the message that you “shouldn’t” feel the way you do and that your feelings aren’t important or valid.  You have a right to feel whatever you do and to give voice to those feelings. 


In order to began to heal your relationship with food and reconnect mind and body, you’ve got to be aware of what myths you’ve bought into and decide whether you’re going to continue to believe them or choose a new belief based on what’s true for you today.  Remember it’s our feelings and thoughts that drive our actions—so notice the negative internal dialogues you carry on with yourself, visualize a stop sign, and reframe that negative thought into something positive, self accepting and encouraging.  You may be surprised to discover that positive action will result and that you have reconnected with your body. 


It’s time to write a new script. 


Remember this is a process.  And like a labyrinth it has many twists and turns, with some dead ends along the way.  But with patience, courage, tenacity, and effort you will find your way out.  


Freedom from diets await you.  Shape your mind, your body will follow. 

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.comShe is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

After a stressful day at work, you come home, your head swimming with deadlines, your son needs you to pick him up from basketball practice, your daughter has dance class, your husband needs his clothes picked up from the cleaners for tomorrow’s business trip and you’re trying to create some space in your brain to think about what on earth you can prepare for dinner that’s quick and healthy! 


Suddenly, the vision of Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream” pops into your head and next thing you know, you’re standing in front of the refrigerator unconsciously stuffing food down your throat.  All you hear is the sound of your own muffled voice silenced by food. Then it all becomes a muddled mess of confusion—your boss’ needs, your children’s needs, your husband’s needs, your family’s nutritional needs.  And guess whose voice and needs are conspicuously missing in this complex web of life…YOURS!! 

 

YOU didn’t even make YOUR own priority list!

 

Learning to taking care of ourselves in a healthy ways is a complicated process and depends upon many factors such as how you were raised, what you saw modeled by your parents, siblings, peers, extended family, others in your life and the belief system you have internalized, just to name a few.  Growing up with a silent, self sacrificing mother who ran herself ragged “doing for everyone” and never taking time for herself or with a workaholic father whose only means of “de-stressing” from the day was by ingesting multiple stiff drinks each night, sends a number of messages to children.  Some might gleen from their parents’ behavior:

  • My needs and feelings are not important.
  • I must do everything to please others to be loved.
  • I should work until I’m exhausted without complaining.
  • Taking care of myself is selfish.
  • Alcohol is the best way to relax.
  • I have to be perfect.

 

Adopting and internalizing any or all of these beliefs is a recipe for being disconnected from your feelings and needs and can lead to a lifetime of unfulfillment, stuckness, and voicelessness. So how do you find fulfillment, get unstuck and find your own voice, you might ask…

 

Some or the main keys to your happiness and contentment is to learn to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually by being in touch with your feelings, needs, and desires, by learning how to set healthy boundaries with others and to find the assertive voice inside of you to express all of the above.  In so doing, you will find greater balance and discover your authentic self.

 

In my work with people struggling to lose weight and develop a healthy relationship with food, their bodies and themselves, I have noticed that once they find their voices and start using it, they begin to feel more integrated inside.  Their bodies and minds begin to work together as partners, not adversaries.  Consequently, their weight begins to drop.

 

A Case in point is Debra, a 30-year-old married woman who began treatment with me to lose weight, love and accept herself, and realize her dream of becoming a nurse. 

 

In order to do this, she explained she needed to be healthy and not have her mother be a trigger for her eating.  Tipping the scale at slightly over 300, she was discouraged and hopeless. Debra grew up as the only child of a loving Dad who traveled for worked a lot and did little “interfering” with the complex relationship with her critical, appearance conscious, laxative-using bulimic mother.  Debra’s mother often competed with her and compared her to other girls. Despite her excelling in a variety of sports, dance, and academics, she never felt like she measured up. 

 

The beginnings of her negative body image went back to age 5 as she described imagining that she had a zipper going down her body so she could zip herself out of it to be thin.  By age 7 her mother was “supergluing ” her ears back for dance recitals, telling her daughter that they “stuck out.”  Ultimately, she convinced Debra to have them surgically “pinned back.”  By 12, Debra had written a suicide note that her mother found and got angry over.  Just before starting high school her mother put her 15-year-old daughter on an extreme diet on which she lost 60 lbs and completed the makeover by taking her for a breast reduction.  The only messages Debra remembers getting from her mother regarding food were---“See how little you can eat,” “Food is bad and something you can’t control.”  Is it any wonder that she never felt good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or thin enough?

 

Through her young adulthood Debra’s weight skyrocketed and she sought treatment.  Her therapist suggested she “cut off” the relationship with her mother.  While staying in touch with her Dad, who she realized was uncomfortably in the middle, she stayed out of contact with her mother for a year.  Surprisingly, she lost weight.  Upon reconnecting with her mother however, she slowly regained. She had not yet found her voice.

 

Debra’s work with me has been about guiding her to find her voice and listen to it.  Today she knows what she feels and needs and expresses both without stuffing them down with food for fear of displeasing others. Her relationship with her husband had grown deeper emotionally.  She has learned to eat mindfully, listen to and trust her body’s physical needs and to be her authentic self.  As a part of loving, respecting and accepting herself and her body just as it is, she has bought new clothes, underwear, gym outfits that have enabled her to feel good about herself and comfortable while exercising.

 

As for her dream of becoming a nurse, it became clear to me early on that some of her past academic struggles might be related to undiagnosed ADD. Once tested and placed on the proper medication, her concentration and retention of information became easier and she is now excelling in Nursing School. 

 

As for Debra’s relationship with her parents, it was not my suggestion that she cut off her relationship with her mother though she chose to do so on her own until she felt her voice was strong enough.  But this time she brought her father into therapy and with her strong new voice told him, “I am angry that you never stood up for me against Mom.” Her father agreed and said he regretted not protecting her more.  Ten months later and 45 pounds lighter, Debra went home to test out her new voice with her mother, particularly adamant about having her mother see her in her current body, not after losing all of the weight she wanted.  This was truly a statement of self-acceptance.  With strength, clarity, and loving kindness, Debra heard the sound of her own voice and so did her mother.  The visit was followed by a card from Debra’s mom saying she loved seeing her and looked forward to their rebuilding a stronger, loving relationship.

 

Sometimes we need to disconnect from the old voice in order to come back together to hear the new one.

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.comShe is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

When I think about this week’s topic, “Honey, I have a headache,” like most of you, I think of sex. But in a broader sense it’s really about excuses… the stories we tell ourselves.

 

So as we once again turn the page of our calendars we run into the unavoidable and what for some, is the dreaded Valentine’s Day. A number of my clients find themselves in varying degrees of psychic pain over Cupid’s choice to yet again, NOT choose them.  Some of them are uncoupled, recently decoupled, or in empty or abusive relationships, even though they’re with someone. 

 

To be even-handed about this, some of my clients are in loving relationships but are primed to still be disappointed by whatever display of affection their partners demonstrate, not because they’re unappreciative or selfish people, but because they don’t love themselves. 

 

Consequently, they can’t fully embrace the love they do have. Instead, they often think “Why would he or she love me, I’m so fat, unsuccessful, undesirable, unlovable…(fill in your own blank).

 

Whether you like it or not, this holiday can feel like a bad reality TV show called “Who is Most Unworthy of Love?”  The contestants trot out all their perceived physical, emotional and spiritual flaws, weaknesses, and lifetimes of mistakes and try to convince the judges why no one would want to love them.  Do you win EVERYTIME?! Do you tell yourself you’ll only be truly happy and whole when you’re part of a couple or when you’re (fill in the blank) enough for your current partner?

 

What’s the story you tell yourself?  No More Excuses!!

 

How about starting with a romance with yourself?  Yes, a compassionate, nonjudgmental, uncritical, loving relationship with yourself— you heard me right.  But how, you might ask?

 

First, you have to work with your inner critic, that part of you that barrages you with all kinds of negative self talk.  Catch yourself as soon as the negative commentary begins and instead access your own inner coach. Tell yourself in a calm, supportive, and encouraging voice that whatever personality or physical flaws you find in yourself, that “No one is perfect and that you are deserving of love just because you are you.” 

 

Remind yourself that everyone on earth is unique and special in his or her own way and that you have to love and care for and about yourself in order to be truly available to love another.  Being gentle and forgiving with yourself as you would be with a loved one or a good friend is one key to learning to love yourself.  Think of it this way, if you don’t love and care about yourself first, guess what kind of people you’ll attract into your life? 

 

By romancing yourself this Valentine’s Day you can practice treating yourself the way you would like to be treated in relationship. 

 

Here is a list of 10 tips for loving yourself that you can practice.   Try on some new behaviors for a change:

 

     1.  In my family we always give at least 2 cards for every occasion- a funny one and a sensitive, serious one. In this case choose a serious one that expresses the sentiments you feel or would like to feel about you. Have fun with this and make sure the funny card makes you laugh!
 

     2.  Make plans to go out to dinner with people who love you and slowly and mindfully eat foods that give you great pleasure.  Use all of your senses and enjoy every aspect of the evening.
 

     3.  Write yourself a love letter.  No one is going to see it, so be as mushy as you want.
 

     4.  Buy yourself a gift.  It doesn’t have to be expensive but could be something symbolic like a stone with a special word inscribed on it that holds some meaning for you. A trip to a day spa will work or a “toy” you’ve wanted (of course, one you can afford).
 

     5.  Take a bubble bath, light candles around your bathtub, buy some fragrant body lotion to lavish upon yourself, and play some soothing music.
 

     6.  Buy yourself flowers - a gigantic bouquet if you want.  Send them to yourself at work with a card to yourself.  Who knows your new behavior might start a trend among your co-workers?
 

     7.  Buy yourself some chocolate that you love.  Just make sure you eat it consciously and enjoy it fully.  Remember this is an act of self-love, not an opportunity to punish yourself and feel badly by stuffing your feelings down and overeating.
 

     8.  Get a massage, facial, manicure and/or pedicure.
 

     9.  Spend time with your pet.  Pets are exceptionally good at making you feel loved unconditionally.
 

     10.  Invite some friends or someone you want to get to know better to go to the movies, a museum, play, concert, or comedy club.  Reach out and connect. Share yourself with others.  Step outside your safe zone and take some risks.  
 

As a final note, just in case you missed reading this before Valentine’s Day, don’t fret- the entire month of February is the Eating Disorder Information Network’s (EDIN) Love Your Body month.  You have all month to practice.  And once you’ve gotten the hang of loving yourself, my only caveat is “KEEP IT UP!”

 

You don’t need a special holiday or excuse to love yourself. Celebrate YOU!  

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.comShe is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

        

        


 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you crave specific foods that you eat frequently and although you feel unsatisfied, you only crave more?

Do you feel drawn to certain foods and end up feeling bloated, fatigued or headachy?

Do you suffer from abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea after eating some foods?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may have food allergies and/or food intolerances.

There are an estimated 11 million people suffering from food allergies and intolerances today in the United States.  The eight most common food allergens are: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy.

This subject is a complicated one with much controversy as to how and if food allergies and intolerances inhibit weight loss.  While I am not a clinical allergist, one specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, I can help with detecting what’s going on in your body through mindful detection.

So how do you know if you’re having some kind of allergic reaction?

There are two types of reactions to look for:

Classic Reaction (Type A): In this type of reaction you’ll experience symptoms immediately after having contact with the allergen (such as, peanuts, fish, eggs).  Some common ones include itching, hives, rashes, or in severe cases, swelling of the mouth and tongue, low blood pressure or difficulty breathing.

Delayed Allergy or Intolerance (Type B): In this type of reaction you may feel symptoms between one hour to 3 days after eating.  These symptoms may include bloating, abdominal pain, weight gain, water retention, fatigue, headaches, flatulence, diarrhea, joint aches, etc.

Naturally, with Type A allergies, you will need to avoid these foods altogether since they are dangerously toxic to your body.  But with foods in the Type B category, many believe that if you give your body a “rest” from these foods, you may eat them occasionally as long as they do not constitute the majority of your daily diet.

This may sound simpler than it is in practice.  While giving your body a “rest” from foods you love and crave may make sense intellectually, for many of my clients, it screams of deprivation. The diet mentality kicks in and often triggers a binge on the exact foods to which they may have sensitivities.

While playing the detection game with yourself in trying to determine whether you actually have a food allergy or intolerance, look at the usual suspects first:
 

    * gluten-carrying grasses like wheat, rye, oats, barley-Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance
    * ddairy products- Dairy Intolerance
    * yeasts-Yeast Intolerance or Candida
    * fructose malabsorption

Finally, many experts believe that over time food intolerances upset the digestive balance, negatively impact our immune systems and can cause weight gain. Food that isn’t digested properly can be stored as fat, not used as body fuel.  As this process unfolds, one can develop all types of problems in the gut such as malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, gas, and irritable bowel syndrome.

So where do I begin, you might wonder?

First, it helps to approach it with a positive, curious mindset.  Use positive self talk and remind yourself that this is not a diet but an experiment.  The goal is to rid yourself of uncomfortable, bothersome symptoms in your body, improve your health and perhaps to discover why you’re having trouble losing weight.  It may take the deprivation and subsequent rebellion out of the process.

In working with my clients, I often find that they feel so disconnected from their bodies that they have no idea what they’re feeling and where.  Is it in their heads, their bodies, or are they just imagining things?  This is where mindfulness comes in. If you believe you may have sensitivity to a specific food or foods, keep a food journal for a month and pay close attention to how you feel emotionally and physically after eating the food. Make notes on your food journal about whatever you notice in your body and your mind.

Be particularly aware of feelings in the gut, any pain, sluggishness or fatigue, bloating, headaches, edema, etc.

As you keep track of your emotions and body sensations, you are likely to uncover patterns that will help to further validate your reasons for doing this and will provide more motivation to continue.  If you have enough information, you could try giving your body a “rest” from the food you suspect is problematic and see what happens.  See whether you feel better. That’s the goal.

Another useful mindfulness technique is the body scan.  This is simply done by closing your eyes, taking 5 to 10 deep diaphragmatic breaths, and tune into your body. Slowly and systematically follow the breath and move your attention from the toes, to the feet, shins, calves, knees, thighs, torso…all the way to the top of your head.  Stay focused on each body part and if your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath and continue.  Don’t be judgmental or critical, refocus your attention on the body.

Once you become practiced at this, which by the way, is also a good stress releaser, you can use the body scan before and after you eat the food to which you believe you are sensitive.  This will give you more information and enable you to be more connected with your body.

Once you have collected all the data from your experiment, you’ll be more attuned to your body, better educated, and more prepared to discuss the next steps with a medical professional.  Just so you’re aware, there are some tests you can ultimately have that will unlock some or all of the mystery of whether you have a food allergy or intolerance.  These include a blood test (to measure the lgE antibodies), skin test, and a stool test (to determine yeast overgrowth and digestive problems).

The best place to begin though is by mindfully attending to your body.

Remember: When we don’t listen to our bodies, they speak louder.

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 


Read other Allyn St. Lifer columns here


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Can you really think yourself slim? 

 

It is a widely known cognitive behavioral principle that our feelings and thoughts drive our actions.  Therefore, if you are thinking negative thoughts, feeling upset and distressed, it is most likely going to translate out into negative actions. 

 

When clients first begin treatment their heads are often filled with such denigrating and self-defeating thoughts as “I hate my body.”  “I’m so fat and disgusting that no one will ever love me.”  Or “I’ll never lose weight, so I might as well just give up now.”  These thoughts are accompanied by a variety of feelings like depression, self-loathing, helplessness and anxiety. 

 

The action that typically follows is behavior that will comfort, soothe and provide an escape (even if it’s temporary) from these painful feelings and thoughts….Food.  Thus, the cycle of overeating begins once more. 

 

What if you could change your thoughts and feelings into something more positive and self-accepting? What if you could create change that would encourage you to attain your goal of losing weight, feeling good about yourself and developing a peaceful relationship with food? (I can hear you relaxing already.)

 

Affirmations are a powerful vehicle for change and can be a useful tool for weight loss and eating mindfully.  Mindful eating has to be part of the equation in order to attain a healthy, sustainable weight for a lifetime.

 

When you think about affirmations what probably comes to mind is that it’s hokey or maybe you might remember Al Franken’s character on “Saturday Night Live,” Stuart Smalley and his “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley.” The best part was when he infamously said, “I’m good enough, and doggonit, people like me!”  Well, stay with me here and try to keep an open mind.

 

The science behind the success of affirmations is that by consciously changing negative thoughts into positive ones, you can reprogram your unconscious mind.  Through the repetition of those positive thoughts, the new positive beliefs become embedded in your unconscious and your behavior can begin to change.

 

Crafting a powerful, positive affirmation is not difficult but there are a few key elements:


1.  Set your intention

First look at your life and determine what you want to change.  What is your goal?  Start by focusing on one aspect of your life at a time.  It can be overwhelming to work on multiple changes at once and this will also dilute your energy and focus.

 

2.   Create a positive statement

      Let the affirmation reflect what you want to create even if you don’t believe it 100 percent.  Most importantly, use positive, descriptive motivating language.  Many affirmations begin with the word, “I” and must be written in the present tense as though it is happening right now in this moment.

 

3.   Make it Realistic

In addition to the statement being positive, it must feel doable and instill a sense of hopefulness.

 

Once written, the affirmation can be utilized in many creative ways.

 

§ Through Repetition

Say it with power, confidence, enthusiasm and energy as much as possible —  when you wake up, drive in your car, before each meal, at the gym, when you go to sleep at night — the more times the better.  Remember positivity engenders more positivity.  Envision this process as positive self-hypnosis.

 

§ Record it

Record the affirmation using your own voice.  You may want to include three or four additional affirmations that all reinforce the same theme of the original positive message.  You can then play it in your car on your way to work, listen to it at home or upload it onto your iPod and listen to it during the day. 

 

§ Write it on a Post-It

By writing your affirmation(s) on a post-it, you can then post it or them around your house, in your office space, in your car, and other places that you normally frequent during your day.

 

 

§ Mirror Work

Stand in front of the mirror and make eye contact with yourself and give voice to your affirmation with conviction, positivity, and confidence.  By looking at yourself straight in the eye, the message becomes more powerful and meaningful.  It further reinforces the belief that feeling good about yourself is within your power and it comes from within.  So take them time to be with yourself in the present moment and mindfully state your affirmation.

 

Since many of my clients want to lose weight, break free from the diet mentality and the resultant deprivation-bingeing cycle.  They also want to learn to love, honor and respect themselves and their bodies. The following are some suggestions for mindful eating affirmations. Feel free to use them.

 

Mindful Eating Affirmations

 

Every day I am getting better and better at making healthy food choices. I am slowly and mindfully eating foods I love, paying close attention to each bite I take so I stop when comfortably satisfied.

 

I lose weight naturally and effortlessly by listening to my body and eating according to my physical hunger and stopping at the point of satisfaction.

 

I love and respect my body as it is right now and am successfully progressing along my journey of losing weight and naturally nourishing my body with healthy foods more and more of the time.

 

I eat food slowly and use all of my senses to truly taste, smell, and fully experience eating mindfully and, in so doing, I easily and naturally lose weight and am more open to all the joys of life.

 

I am free to choose the foods I love that nourish my body and provide me with boundless energy to exercise regularly and appreciate the changes I am making everyday with my body and mind.

 

I am an exuberant, magnificent, radiant being, eating just what my body needs to maintain a healthy, sustainable weight.

 

I trust myself and my body to guide me to eat when I’m physically hungry, stop when comfortably satisfied and use my voice to express my feelings and thoughts directly.

 

So if you’re still not convinced that you can think yourself slim, try it.  Remember to bring a positive intention to this work and allow yourself to approach it with an open mind, self-compassion and all the tenacity you have within you.

 

How do you get better at anything new that you try? 

Practice, practice, practice.

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer columns here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

I didn’t get the memo that spring was coming…is here. No more heavy coats, bulky sweaters, scarves or staying indoors due to four feet of snow. I just broke into a cold sweat. 

 

Am I obsessing about my weight?  When I find ransom notes attached to hangers in my closet stating that my clothes are in a safe house and I will not have contact with them until further notice, I think I have to do something. But for the love of God, what is a woman to do when there are millions of plans out there saying that they will work. I particularly like the ones that will give you abs of steel in three weeks. People – look at those “after” pictures. No airbrushing was ever used in those pictures! And yet we sit here and fork over $854.59 plus S&H so we can have the wool pulled over our eyes. And my eyes don’t have to lose weight or hold in their retinas. They just need a new pair of rose-colored glasses.

 

Some days I look at all the right things I ate and the moderate to no exercise I get and I realize that my weight is just fine if…I were 6’ 8’’. I think that is why I like to wear heels.  What I weigh at 5’8” is a little on the thin side at six foot. I think reality and I need to meet somewhere in the middle.

 

They say stress makes it harder for us to lose weight. I could stop eating for a year and the stress will just hold onto my unwanted weight for dear life. If only I could handle my stress – would my extra pounds find someone else to torment? If I throw a BBQ turkey leg at the TV screen every time some B.S. commercial comes on proclaiming a new way to shed unwanted pounds, would I find inner peace and that little space that should separate my thighs?

 

I propose that we boycott all the “healthy lifestyle” infomercials that make these false claims. You know what? I am not 25 anymore and yet I am not dead, so I why the hell should I be listening to these plastic-looking Barbie and Ken dolls who are feeding me a line of lies. I look at them and I think they are all doing a few lines of that white substance and that is why you can see their large intestines if you hold them up to a light.

 

You can’t lose 30 lbs. in a week unless most of your internal organs have been removed and if you go in for that elective surgery, please give me your address so I can send you a get well on the other side card. 

 

I come from an advertising background (I know – the guilt can be overwhelming) and I had some major clients who were investigated because they liked to push the truth just a tad too far. So why is someone not out there saying “enough already” to the diet industry?   Come on, who is big enough to go and tell these folks to cool it? And I don’t mean “big” in the “she’s a big girl” way.

 

Oh, so am I going to stop eating? No way. I am going to give up buying every fool diet product that comes out. This way I will have the money to buy a Death by Chocolate cake for everyone.

 

We might as well go to the big greasy spoon restaurant in the sky with smiles on our faces and friction burns between our legs.

 

Can you imagine if we get there and find out that thin ain’t in and fat is where it’s at?

 

I would change my first name to “All I Can Eat” Cassidy.

 

Elizabeth Cassidy is a creativity coach for artists and writers and is a faculty member of the Art League of Long Island. Elizabeth showers her clients with support, motivation and dark chocolate when needed.  Her two websites are My Views from the Edge and Coaching for the Creative Soul. She is a national blogger for Skirt! and GalTime and interviews artists and writers for the Glen Cove Patch. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 To read other columns by Elizabeth Cassidy, click here.

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

After a stressful day at work, you come home, your head swimming with deadlines, your son needs you to pick him up from basketball practice, your daughter has dance class, your husband needs his clothes picked up from the cleaners for tomorrow’s business trip and you’re trying to create some space in your brain to think about what on earth you can prepare for dinner that’s quick and healthy! 


Suddenly, the vision of Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream” pops into your head and next thing you know, you’re standing in front of the refrigerator unconsciously stuffing food down your throat.  All you hear is the sound of your own muffled voice silenced by food. Then it all becomes a muddled mess of confusion—your boss’ needs, your children’s needs, your husband’s needs, your family’s nutritional needs.  And guess whose voice and needs are conspicuously missing in this complex web of life…YOURS!! 

 

YOU didn’t even make YOUR own priority list!

 

Learning to taking care of ourselves in a healthy ways is a complicated process and depends upon many factors such as how you were raised, what you saw modeled by your parents, siblings, peers, extended family, others in your life and the belief system you have internalized, just to name a few.  Growing up with a silent, self sacrificing mother who ran herself ragged “doing for everyone” and never taking time for herself or with a workaholic father whose only means of “de-stressing” from the day was by ingesting multiple stiff drinks each night, sends a number of messages to children.  Some might gleen from their parents’ behavior:

  • My needs and feelings are not important.
  • I must do everything to please others to be loved.
  • I should work until I’m exhausted without complaining.
  • Taking care of myself is selfish.
  • Alcohol is the best way to relax.
  • I have to be perfect.

 

Adopting and internalizing any or all of these beliefs is a recipe for being disconnected from your feelings and needs and can lead to a lifetime of unfulfillment, stuckness, and voicelessness. So how do you find fulfillment, get unstuck and find your own voice, you might ask…

 

Some or the main keys to your happiness and contentment is to learn to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually by being in touch with your feelings, needs, and desires, by learning how to set healthy boundaries with others and to find the assertive voice inside of you to express all of the above.  In so doing, you will find greater balance and discover your authentic self.

 

In my work with people struggling to lose weight and develop a healthy relationship with food, their bodies and themselves, I have noticed that once they find their voices and start using it, they begin to feel more integrated inside.  Their bodies and minds begin to work together as partners, not adversaries.  Consequently, their weight begins to drop.

 

A Case in point is Debra, a 30-year-old married woman who began treatment with me to lose weight, love and accept herself, and realize her dream of becoming a nurse. 

 

In order to do this, she explained she needed to be healthy and not have her mother be a trigger for her eating.  Tipping the scale at slightly over 300, she was discouraged and hopeless. Debra grew up as the only child of a loving Dad who traveled for worked a lot and did little “interfering” with the complex relationship with her critical, appearance conscious, laxative-using bulimic mother.  Debra’s mother often competed with her and compared her to other girls. Despite her excelling in a variety of sports, dance, and academics, she never felt like she measured up. 

 

The beginnings of her negative body image went back to age 5 as she described imagining that she had a zipper going down her body so she could zip herself out of it to be thin.  By age 7 her mother was “supergluing ” her ears back for dance recitals, telling her daughter that they “stuck out.”  Ultimately, she convinced Debra to have them surgically “pinned back.”  By 12, Debra had written a suicide note that her mother found and got angry over.  Just before starting high school her mother put her 15-year-old daughter on an extreme diet on which she lost 60 lbs and completed the makeover by taking her for a breast reduction.  The only messages Debra remembers getting from her mother regarding food were---“See how little you can eat,” “Food is bad and something you can’t control.”  Is it any wonder that she never felt good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or thin enough?

 

Through her young adulthood Debra’s weight skyrocketed and she sought treatment.  Her therapist suggested she “cut off” the relationship with her mother.  While staying in touch with her Dad, who she realized was uncomfortably in the middle, she stayed out of contact with her mother for a year.  Surprisingly, she lost weight.  Upon reconnecting with her mother however, she slowly regained. She had not yet found her voice.

 

Debra’s work with me has been about guiding her to find her voice and listen to it.  Today she knows what she feels and needs and expresses both without stuffing them down with food for fear of displeasing others. Her relationship with her husband had grown deeper emotionally.  She has learned to eat mindfully, listen to and trust her body’s physical needs and to be her authentic self.  As a part of loving, respecting and accepting herself and her body just as it is, she has bought new clothes, underwear, gym outfits that have enabled her to feel good about herself and comfortable while exercising.

 

As for her dream of becoming a nurse, it became clear to me early on that some of her past academic struggles might be related to undiagnosed ADD. Once tested and placed on the proper medication, her concentration and retention of information became easier and she is now excelling in Nursing School. 

 

As for Debra’s relationship with her parents, it was not my suggestion that she cut off her relationship with her mother though she chose to do so on her own until she felt her voice was strong enough.  But this time she brought her father into therapy and with her strong new voice told him, “I am angry that you never stood up for me against Mom.” Her father agreed and said he regretted not protecting her more.  Ten months later and 45 pounds lighter, Debra went home to test out her new voice with her mother, particularly adamant about having her mother see her in her current body, not after losing all of the weight she wanted.  This was truly a statement of self-acceptance.  With strength, clarity, and loving kindness, Debra heard the sound of her own voice and so did her mother.  The visit was followed by a card from Debra’s mom saying she loved seeing her and looked forward to their rebuilding a stronger, loving relationship.

 

Sometimes we need to disconnect from the old voice in order to come back together to hear the new one.

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction. She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Do you go all day without eating, perhaps only drinking coffee, only to gorge yourself on anything that doesn't move once you get home?

 

Do you virtuously dine on cardboard-tasting, calorie-controlled, low-fat, low-carb meals for a period of time, ultimately leading you to binge on all those foods of which you were depriving yourself?

 

Trying to be "good," do you say NO to the luscious chocolate lava cake, just to go home and mindlessly consume two or three pints of Ben and Jerry's?

 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you're well acquainted with Ravenous.

 

Ravenous is a scary-looking, dark, furry creature with huge, dagger-like teeth.  It’s mean, ornery, and moody, with a mind of its own and is about the size of the King Kong with an appetite to match. While masquerading as your best friend, it comes out and takes over... pretty much anytime it feels like it, rendering you helpless and powerless to cater to whatever it desires.  Residing “within,” Ravenous has access to all of your “weaknesses” and will use them against you.  Since it is very possessive, it won’t allow you to have any other friends, isolating you and making you feel that its friendship is all you need to feel complete and fulfilled. 

 

Starving, depriving, and disrespecting your body ensures you a relationship with Ravenous.  In fact, it can easily lead to an “inner marriage,” though a dysfunctional one.  At first, being with Ravenous feels so good, but after a very short while you realize you made a big mistake by accepting its friendship. You discover that a friendship with Ravenous destines you to a life of high and low drama.

 

All of this is by way of saying that food is never going to fill the hole of whatever is missing in your life.  Overeating and/or bingeing won’t substitute for a healthy relationship; it will only leave you feeling ironically empty, no matter how full the food has made you feel.  Furthermore, it leads to a barrage of negativity and self loathing which is the abusive nature of Ravenous.

 

Sadly, some stay unhappily engaged in unhealthy relationships forever because they believe they have no choices.  However, this is not true at all.  Just so you know, Ravenous is most threatened byMindfulness.

In fact …

 

Mindfulness is the Nemesis of Ravenous

 

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is a gentle, caring, and compassionate soul who neither needs nor wants to control or own you.  Mindfulness simply wants to be your friend for life and guide you in the most loving, nurturing and healthy ways.  This sensitive being wants to teach you to listen to the voice of your true, physical hunger.  This involves attuning yourself to your body’s signals.  Notice the subtle feelings in your stomach when you’re physically hungry- is it a gnawing feeling? growling? a sense of emptiness?

Knowing the physical sensation of hunger is the first step to being able to mindfully attend to it.

 

With our busy schedules and the many demands and expectations on us in our everyday lives, we tend to fill our time multi-tasking- even when we eat.  Mindfulness, a wise, patient coach, teaches that to really enjoy food and nourish your body, you have to utilize all of your senses and be fully present when you eat.

 

§  Simply eat, doing no other activitiy including talking on the phone, answering emails, reading…

 

§  Use your eyes to visually take in the food, noticing the colors, textures and shapes of the food on your plate. 

 

§  Smell the aroma of the food.  Does it smell fresh or overly cooked?

 

§  Taste the food by slowly chewing and extracting all the flavor from it before taking another bite.  Note the lingering taste.

 

§  Experience the sound of the food as you chew and notice the textural changes

 

§  Touch the food and notice if it feels smooth, rough, hot, cold

 

Having Mindfulness as your friend, you will learn the art of being compassionate and non-judgmental toward yourself and your body, enabling you to make peace with both and feel whole-body, mind, and spirit. 

 

Rather than, calling yourself fat, or focusing on the size of your thighs with disgust or bemoaning the folds of skin on your tummy, be gentle with yourself.  You would never speak to a loved one as harshly as you do to yourself.  Treat yourself as you would your best friend with loving kindness, appreciation, and respect. You have to begin with the negative messages you give yourself.  Catch yourself immediately as you critically exclaim, “I hate my repulsive, fat legs!” See a stop sign, hear yourself yelling, ”Stop” in your head and reframe your negative comment into something non-judgmental, kind, and encouraging like “I appreciate the strength and power of my legs for carrying me from place to place in my life.”  Even if you don’t believe it 100%, give your body positive affirmation.  The more you stop the negativity, the better you will ultimately feel. No one becomes mindful overnight.

 

Being with Mindfulness is a process that requires some energy and effort since the relationship has to develop slowly in order to truly evolve.  A relationship with Mindfulness is not a “contextual friendship,” one that will fade once you move cities or change jobs; but a true friendship that will last a lifetime.

 

In learning to decode the hunger language of your body, I’m going to let you in on the secret: Ravenous is trilingual and speaks in Starve, Deprive, and Stuff.  It’s an easy language to acquire but due to its ease, there’s no positive personal growth that comes from knowing it.  Those who speak these languages appear unhappy and internally tortured.  

 

Conversely, Mindfulness speaks only one language but it is the World’s Expert in it…Attunement.  Learning to speak in Attunement takes time, concentration, and patience but it is well worth your tenacity. Once learned, you will understand the language of true, physical hunger and of inner satisfaction. Using the breath will help you learn to speak in Attunement.  Take 5-10 deep diaphragmatic breaths (belly breaths) and stay focused on the “in breath,” then the “out breath” as much as possible.  Even when your mind wanders into thoughts of what you need to do, daydreams about taking a vacation, or worrying about a troubling interaction with a friend, bring it back to the breath.  Once finished, ask yourself, “Am I physically hungry/” If not, ask what am I hungry for? What am I feeling?  What thoughts are going through my head?  This simple breathing practice of tuning into your own inner process will enable you to be fully present in the moment, another key element of mindful eating.

 

Those mastering Attunement also learn to hear their own voices so they can nourish and nurture themselves and live according to what is healthiest for their bodies and souls.  Learning the language of Attunement from Mindfulness frees them from the grip of Ravenous so they can discover what is truly fulfilling and what gives their lives meaning.

 

To me, it’s a no-brainer-Mindfulness seems clearly to be the better choice.  Even if at first Mindfulnessappears not to be your type of friend, be open-minded and listen to its loving, nurturing voice within.

You may be surprised that Attunement is easier for you to pick up than you think.

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director ofSlimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Looking to lose weight in the New Year? I don't know how to help, except to tell you how I was able to lose .5 pounds last year: my freezer and stove broke and I couldn't eat for a week.  Worse, the warranty man said he couldn't cover it, causing me financial stabs to the heart. This took two weeks off my life, which I don't want to happen to you. So instead of helping you lose weight, I will help you with the secret code of warranties. Then you will be protected from emotional harm and be happier, causing you to safely lose weight.



That new treadmill or gadget you got? No worries, you say, I have a warranty. If it breaks, they will fix it for free!



Do not succumb to this myth.



I can help you break the secret warranty code. "Covers all parts," translated, means "covers all parts, sometimes, between the hours of 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., Indian Ocean time zone, on the Mayan Calendar."



Now, I'm not saying this about all warranties. I’m sure some are good. The ones I’ve had, of course, are not; but I’m sure some are. I once had a boyfriend who worked with warranties, and he assured me warranties were not represented by The Devil. He even went to church with me once, so I believe this. He now owns a pro sports team, so, I’ve learned a lesson here: warranties may be the ticket to you sitting in a team suite with important people and trading players and stuff.



But I digress. Here’s what happened by a company I can’t name, because they actually asked me to NOT WRITE ABOUT THEM. So I am going to write about them and name them Caring Company.



We had just moved into our house last year, and my freezer and my stove were broken.



We will help, Caring Company assured me!



The week before Christmas, when I suppose I needed to fix a non-microwaved dinner for my family, they sent a gentleman to live in my kitchen.



He came. He saw. He did not conquer.



“Ma’am, “ he said. “I’m sorry, but they’re broken.”



“That’s why I called you.”



“I’ve tried to fix them but I can’t. And the parts they need are not under warranty, and will take a while to order. Not to mention the cost of the labor.”



(This happens to everyone. The car warranty does not actually cover the car going forward. But if you need to drive sideways, the warranty is valid.)



And then Man in my Kitchen That I Actually Offered a Diet Coke To tells me that will be $75.



Did you just tell me that’s $75 and you didn’t fix anything?



Yes, he said, and then he uttered something that I swear sounded like, “Please pay up now.”



I didn’t.



The drama then involved a series of harassing phone calls by Caring Company, and my attorney husband read some stupid fine print that wasn't in my favor, and somehow we choked out $75, and nothing was fixed or scheduled to, in fact, work.  This is the very moment that I began my Crusade Against Fake Warranties.



Case in point: my friend Carrie's story. She has a defective yet beautiful $3,000 garden window, which is leaking. With the window still under warranty, man comes over. They agree to pay him $45 for his “service call.”



Guess what happens next?



He cannot repair the gorgeous garden window that lets light into their kitchen. He says they’ve had complaints on those types of windows. But he can sell her an improved and upgraded version. He wants $1,000.



She says no, he will take this back and exchange the window for free. “I told the guy it was not happening,” she says. “I wouldn’t give his company one more dime."



“Am I missing something?” Carrie asks me. “We have a drip and all this guy can tell me is that it isn’t covered because they don’t sell that style anymore?”



Why yes, Carrie, many warranties do not actually COVER the item warrantied. For fun, Carrie now reads aloud to her family the love language of the Lifetime Warranty Text.


Now if you excuse me, I must figure out what to do about my new smartphone that takes pictures that turn out blue. I did not buy the warranty, but I’m sure-- if I'm not doing something wrong by pressing the button with the camera graphic--the manufacturer’s warranty covers this. And I’m sure they will tell me it only covers pictures taken on Tuesdays, on years that the Olympics are held in Liechtenstein.



Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an award-winning freelance writer published in best-selling anthologies, magazines, newspapers and e-pubs.  Visit at www.KristineMeldrumDenholm.com, or join her updates at www.facebook.com/KristineMeldrumDenholm or Twitter @writerandmom.  



For more Kristine Meldrum Denholm  columns, click here 



©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jan 14

Addictions to substances – alcohol, drugs, nicotine  –  are life-threatening and damnable in their ability to destroy people, families, careers, businesses, anything and everything caught in their wake. 


Addictive behaviors involving actions we must take to survive – eating, spending, interacting with others, etc. – are also heartbreaking and damnable in their ability to destroy people, families, careers, businesses, anything and everything caught in their wake.


As a person who has been challenged by both types of addictions – substances and behaviors – I will confess that for me, the behaviors are the far greater challenge. I can live without alcohol. I cannot live without eating, and it is truly hard to live without spending money or interacting with people.


So this is my experience, strength, and hope regarding food addiction, weight loss and control, and recognizing triggers that make sober eating so difficult for millions of Americans, myself included. 


I have found great comfort in food through the years, usually in the sweet things that helped compensate for whatever sweetness I thought I was missing in my life, or whatever sweetness I had in my life that I was not recognizing and appreciating.


As a 20-year-old who’d been reed-thin most of my life (except for a quick hormonally based ballooning at 13 that was quickly deflated by horrifically painful braces), I stunned my mother and friends when I returned home one semester weighing about 30 pounds more than I had when I left just months earlier.


I had discovered Hagen Daas coffee ice cream and had used it to soothe loneliness and despair night after night. It took the pain of hearing my loved ones freak out about my weight gain, and the break in addictive behavior of transferring to another college (where I was happier and started swimming again), to knock the weight equivalent of 30 pints of ice cream off my hips and thighs.


There have been other romances with specific foods that resulted in rapid weight gain arrested by major life changes.  An addiction to cocoa-laden nut-based brownies at a raw food restaurant resulted in a quick build-up that melted in a few days when I had pneumonia seven years ago.  By the time I got well enough to drive six weeks later, the restaurant had closed. I think it was because I wasn’t there to support them.


An obsession with a combination of Trader Joe’s marvels: French toast topped with melted dark chocolate, frozen mangoes, and Greek yogurt, was thwarted by a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, complete with having to do thrice-daily blood-sugar testing finger-stabs. Six months on the South Beach Diet saw my A1c levels drop from 6.4 to 5.8, and led to my discovering the joys of plain Greek yogurt mixed with organic peanut butter with flax seeds, plain organic cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla-flavored stevia, a far healthier food craving that put protein and healthy fats ahead of natural sugars, and resulted in the good report on my blood sugar and a 12-pound. weight loss.


As a person who’s watched a loved one die of alcoholism and diabetes, you might think I’d be “smart enough” to avoid those pitfalls. But emotional eating – finding comfort in food when you’re triggered by grief, shame, blame, guilt, loss, joy, fear, anger, or whatever other thoughts our feelings and reactions gin up into a pain that can only be satisfied by carbohydrates – is a blessing and a curse. 


It’s a blessing because it probably keeps me from doing something worse, but it is a habit that is self-destructive. And one that must be taken more seriously with the pre-diabetes issue and the reality that aging makes weight loss more difficult. The older I get, the more staying power the calories have.


This year I’m going to support myself and my loved ones in our efforts to lose weight and get healthier by cooking without the substances that trigger cravings: white flour, sugar, excessive salt, unhealthy fats.


I’m shopping smarter by filling the grocery cart with more vegetables than anything else.


And I’m walking the walk, literally and figuratively, by walking more (this makes the dogs happy) and not bringing into the house foods that would trigger my loved ones or me: again, the white flour, sugar, foods with excess salt, unhealthy fats. I'm also taking more deep breaths and working on the emotional self care that empowers me to respond to challenging situations with greater maturity, instead of reacting in ways that only create more emotion and angst. This means asking more for what I truly need and want, instead of fulfilling unmet needs with unhealthy foods, thoughts, actions. This requires greater courage and greater acceptance. And, lest I mislead anyone into thinking that I believe I have all of this figured out, it also means I am grateful to be living in a time when there is "healthy chocolate."


With all the news in recent years that dark chocolate is good for us, I am thrilled by the high-cocoa-content chocolate bars in the health food section of our grocery store. It is good that some of them have almost as much protein and fiber per serving as they do sugar (5 grams). That makes those almost-black blocks of chocolate safer – in my mind.  It also makes them unappealing to almost every other human in my house. (Dogs love chocolate but it is deadly for them; I am careful not to leave any within their reach.)


As I say, the older the woman, the darker the chocolate. So I will yield to that temptation, as a little bit of pitch-black chocolate goes a long way.


And to my knowledge, nobody gets pulled over for driving under the influence of dark chocolate.



Carey Sipp's first book, The TurnAround Mom – How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Toxic Cycle for Her Family, and How You Can, Too, guides fellow “children of chaos” to create the kind of sane and loving home life that helps prevent next-generation addiction and abuse. Her book is available atAmazon.com http://www.amazon.com/TurnAround-Mom-Addiction-Survivor-Family--/dp/0757305962/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317756315&sr=8-1


Read more articles by Carey Sipp here..


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Six years and about 35 pounds ago, I gazed at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. After six pregnancies and three births, I spoke out loud, "Okay, I’ve got to accept that this is what my middle-aged body is going to look like. It’s time to move on and get healthy.”



Hand on my belly, I deputized ‘the pooch’ as my badge of honor. 



I let the ‘aha’ moment sink in. Previously, I had focused on avoiding the pain of being overweight. It was time to seek the pleasure of feeling good in my body. So I made a decision, then and there, right hand resting on ‘the pooch’ as if swearing an oath on a Bible. 



If I was never going to be thin, again, I could certainly be healthy. THAT much I could do for myself. Couldn’t I? 



Not long after my third child was born I opted to stay home and do the ‘mom-thing’ full time. Wow. I have never worked so hard in my life. You’d think those 16- and 18- hour days of constant motion would just shed the pounds – after all, who had the time for a proper meal, anyway? 



But instead of losing the weight, my erratic eating habits, lack of regular exercise, constant snacking off the plates of my kids, and general feeling of being overwhelmed kept my body in a kind of pudgy homeostasis.



As my naked body stared back at me from the mirror that day, I surrendered to what I thought was the inevitable dowdiness of middle-age. I determined to focus on feeling well for myself, instead of attractive to others.  I wanted to be able to climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded, pick up my rowdy pre-schooler without faltering, and have the energy to continue the pace of my life without a constant feeling of exhaustion. 



I wanted to feel healthy, for me. 



I wasn’t exactly sure how to get healthy, and I was secretly hoping I could do it without making “exercise” a large part of the plan (that was before I discovered that exercise does not necessarily require being publicly intimidated by obscenely skinny women in spandex). But I knew one thing clearly: my focus needed to shift from negative to positive.  Instead of trying to ‘lose’ weight, I grew determined to create health.  



It was time for a more loving and accepting approach to my body. 



I didn’t realize at the time how much that attitude change would contribute to the gradual though significant weight loss I experienced over the next few years.  In retrospect, it’s very likely that my positive mindset, my ability to reframe my focus to what I wanted to create (and why), had more to do with my eventual good health than any of the specific “weight loss” strategies I employed.   



Weight loss doesn’t happen in the body alone.  Change starts in the mind and the heart. The mind is strongly influenced by our motivations, our feelings and our values, which come from some place deep and has a lot to do with self-love and respect. 



It turns out, my WANTING for myself – truly, deeply wanting better – was a major player in my long-term success.  



Shortly after I left the world of dieting forever (for me DIET always stood for Deprivation Ineffective Every Time), I embraced the world of coaching. THAT was the best trade I’ve ever made.   



Through coaching I began to respect myself differently, not just for my accomplishments, but for my authenticity.  Intellectually, I knew that I was deserving of happiness and entitled to a good life.  Things began to shift when I started to believe it. The pounds started melting away when I wanted to take care of myself because I felt better when I did. 



Sure, there were many other factors that went into dropping four sizes in four years.  We all know that we have to “eat less and move more.” But to do that effectively, you have to get your head and heart in the right place.  It helps to love yourself enough to want the change you’re seeking – not for appearances, or what others might think, or even to get into those skinny goal jeans in the back of the closet (which are now too big, by the way).  



After you get clear on what you want, the why has to be pretty compelling.  If it doesn’t have something to do with feeling good about yourself, if you don’t believe you deserve to take care of yourself, you may be fighting an uphill battle. 


 

My health focus has been in place for more than six years, and I continue to tweak things regularly. I often get well-meaning comments and questions like “You look so skinny.”  “How much weight have you lost?” and “How did you do it?” 



Since the beginning, my answer has been clear. To the “skinny” comment I respond with, “Thanks, I feel healthy.” I love the response that gets!  To the “how” questions, I usually answer, with a broad grin, “I got happy.”  My success lived in the combination of the two. My conclusion: Healthy Leads to Happy (& Thin)™. 



What I Know Now™ when it comes to getting healthy:

1.   Give yourself permission to truly WANT for yourself, something deeper than appearances.

2.   Get clear on WHY you want to change and what it will do for your life.

3.   BELIEVE that you are worth it.

4.   Put some effort into learning to LOVE yourself.

5.   BELIEVE that, too.

6.   Have patience with the process.  When you falter, go back to step 1, and start again. 


And when you get to Step 4, slow down and give yourself the love and support you deserve.


Elaine Taylor-Klaus is a Life, Leadership and Parenting Coach and the founder of Touchstone Coaching and ImpactADHD™. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.


Read more articles by Elaine Taylor-Klaus here. 


 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ShareWIK does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information, please read our Additional Information, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

home | sitemapfaq | columnists | members | discussions | groups | videos | press | advertise | contact us | estore | share your story | topics | calendar

Search ShareWIK

Loading

Facebook




Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Enter email below to receive our free eNewsletter
For Email Newsletters you can trust

Twitter

Latest Columns

The Grass Is Greener Right Here
With her trademark wisdom, humor and honesty, Diana Keough provides a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in increasingly fraught times.

Ben KaminSpirit Behind the News
Ben Kamin is one of America's best-known rabbis, a multi-cultural spiritualist, New York Times Op-ed contributor, national columnist, and the author of seven books on human values. His kids, however, are not that impressed.

I Kid You Not
With a self-deprecating sense of humor, a dash of Midwest sarcasm, and candid honesty, award-winning freelance writer Kristine muses on life in a chaotic household. Spoiler Alert: her teen, tweens and dog don’t find her even mildly amusing.

Susanne KatzSecond Life
After divorce, a death, a mid-life crisis, or just growing up and changing, baby boomers are learning to reinvent themselves, have fun and find satisfaction. Look out kids…it’s a new world out there!
Class Notes: Special Needs
Learn from the journey of Jacque Digieso who was given a challenge and a blessing with her son, who has special needs.

What's Eating You?
Dina Zeckhausen, Ph.D. on food, weight, body image and raising resilient kids.

Steve Powell
Steve is an experienced facilitator, practitioner, communicator and proven leader with over 25-years in experience in human factors education and teamwork training.
Living On Purpose
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, teaches how to make life extraordinary.
rWorld
Dale Kuehne explores developing a world where relationships come first, and recognizes that individual health and fulfillment is connected to the quality of our relationships.
Teacher Feature
School teacher Margaret Anderson will provide insight into what really happens with your child in the classroom.
The Power of Grief
Diane Snyder Cowan specializes in grief therapy to help those in need deal with loss.
Jan Jaben-Eilon Cancer is Not Me and I Am Not My Cancer
My name is Jan Jaben-Eilon and I am an ovarian cancer survivor. I don’t like the expression, battling with cancer. I am living my life as fully and passionately as possible, despite the cancer. Cancer is NOT my identity.

Latest Activity

posted a new blog entry Are You Up for the Job of Caregiver?.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry When does Sex End?.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Obesity brings on a variety of health issues.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Getting the marriage license.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Praying for Theo.
4 years ago