Is Mindful Eating as Boring as it Sounds?

That’s a fair question.

In our Western culture words like mindfulness and awareness can feel unfamiliar, even weird. Thankfully that’s changing. Still a lot of people tell me that they’re afraid that mindful eating will be boring – they think they’ll be giving something up if they eat this way.

So let’s start by taking a look at what mindful eating is NOT:

  • It’s not eating in slow motion like a sloth
  • It doesn’t mean you can never ever do anything but eat when you eat
  • It’s not about counting 30 chews per bite (barf!)
  • It’s not about eating only whole foods
  • It doesn’t mean you have to become a Zen master, which I understand takes a very long time

Mindful eating IS about having:

  • A full-on, deep down, satisfying pleasure experience
  • A rejuvenating mini-vacation for your body and brain, several times a day
  • The freedom to choose food you truly enjoy – and the peace and confidence to enjoy a sane amount
  • A practice that leads you to a comfortable weight and keeps you there (rather than losing and regaining the same old weight)
  • Confidence. Its effectiveness is proven again and again by researchers and, more importantly, by real people with real lives

Does this sound boring to you!?! This is eating at its very best – it’s exciting and peaceful at the same time. Hmmm, that just might be the confusion…

Peaceful is not the same thing as boring.

I could go on and on enthusiastically because this way of living with food literally freed me from a thirty year imprisonment. That’s why I call it liberated eating. I was enslaved by two masters: restriction (too little) and compulsion (too much) – with a whole lot of angst banging around between the two. The relief and joy of my liberation never leaves; it fuels my passion for coaching others to their own health and freedom.

Anyone can step away from relentless dieting and learn how to trust themselves and honor their own body’s innate wisdom again.

I know, I know – that sounds scary, but don’t worry about the lack of food-rules. Our freedom is not an excuse for indulgence, which always takes more than it gives. Liberated eating is rooted in wisdom and respect, which always give back more than they require.

WOW! There’s certainly nothing boring about that!

 

*Thank you, National Geographic, for this photo and so much more.

How To Approach 2018 Goals So They Actually Work

We all know the disheartening stats on how many of us ever reach, much less maintain, our New Year’s resolutions.

But here’s the thing… it’s not that we can’t do it. 

In fact…

You certainly can accomplish what you want to accomplish, in spite of obstacles.

You are completely capable of reaching and maintaining any reasonable goal – and even your big bodacious ones.

But how?

First let’s look at some common mistakes we make when goal setting:

1. They’re too vague. “I’m gonna eat healthy this year” or “I’m gonna drink more water”
2. They’re too drastic. “I’m never gonna eat any sugar* again”
3. There’s no end. “I’m gonna workout every weekday (…for the rest of my life)”

It’s easy to see how invigorating these bold proclamations might be at first, but we all know how difficult it is to follow through.

There is a different and powerful approach that can work for us rather than against us:

Set Goals with Built-in Exploration & Evaluation

For example:

  • TEST DRIVE: Instead of “I’m gonna eat healthy this year,” I can decide to actively explore different ways to eat nutritiously. I pick one that jazzes me (let’s say Mediterranean) and then test-drive it for one month. I do a bit of research, prepare 1 to 3 new dishes each week through January, depending on my schedule. I check out a Mediterranean restaurant. At the end of the month I take stock. Have I enjoyed this experiment? Do I want to continue, keep part of it, or scrap the whole thing? Do I want to move on to explore other things like Forks Over Knives recipes, Daniel Plan recipes or Dr. Lugwig’s recipes. There are so many great categories and resources to choose from and any of them that bring vibrant health will fit beautifully within our Liberated Eating lifestyle.
  • BE SPECIFIC: Instead of a big vague goal like “I’m gonna drink more water,” I could decide that this week I’m gonna fill my favorite purple water bottle each morning, put it on my desk in plain sight and drink it by lunch, then repeat for the afternoon. I might also put an hourly drink reminder on my phone. After one week I evaluate. What part of this worked for me? What specifically didn’t work? What supports can I put in place this next week in order to get a better outcome?
  • TIMED TRIAL: “I’m gonna workout every weekday.” What if I build in some wiggle room here and decide to give this lofty goal a whirl for two weeks and then evaluate? This way I don’t set myself up for feeling guilty when it becomes clear that 5 days a week is unreasonable for real life. No wiggle room adds unnecessary stress to our lives – so allow for wise adjustments.

Here’s what we know:

No one’s gonna stick with anything that isn’t manageable and enjoyable on some level –

no matter how good it might be for them, 

so discovering what fits YOU is vital work.

Choosing specific behaviors for a limited amount of time means you’re never stuck. Building in evaluation and re-calibration means you’re spending 2018 moving ahead at a speed and trajectory you will enjoy!

 

*In my coaching practice I work with a few liberated eaters who have found, through exploration and coaching over time, that eating a sugar-free menu is best for them. This decision may come because of medical reasons or because they discover that living moderately with sugar is a battle they would rather not fight. For these people, eating sugar-free is not a diet. It is not forced deprivation or restriction. It is a very personal, thoughtfully chosen path that brings them the peace and health they desire.

2 Powerful Mindset Shifts That Squelch Overeating

pleasure imageI don’t know about you, but I dieted more years than I like to admit. Those of us who did now know that dieting backfired in many ways. The compulsion to overeat (especially “forbidden” sweet treats and comfort food) and the tendency to eat quickly are two of the lingering consequences.

Click here for 7 reasons dieting never worked.

The good news is that we can undo this damage and regain our sanity, our peace and a comfortable weight. Let’s look at two powerful mindset shifts. People who never dieted know these things intuitively…

1. More food does not equal more pleasure.
Instead, more experience equals more pleasure.

Pleasure and overeating are not the same thing. This may seem like a no-duh to those who’ve never dieted but for those of us who have – we have to stop and chew on this a while…pardon the pun.

True eating-pleasure comes from slowing down and connecting with our eating experiences: eating food you enjoy, taking time to fully taste, smell, chew, and feel the deep satisfaction of being truly nourished.

One of the best ways to glean real pleasure from food is to wait to eat until you’re physically hungry.

2. Wait on physical hunger before you eat.
Food really hits the spot when you’re hungry, because there’s actually a spot to hit.

We can’t experience the good gift of pleasure if we’re eating on auto-pilot, gobbling our meal while driving to the next thing, taking big bites and swallowing after a few cursory chews. These mind-numbing habits set us up to eat right past “full”.

I know MINDFULNESS can seem like a wimpy little word – but it’s powerful indeed. As we begin to wait on true hunger before we eat and focus on getting full pleasure from our eating experiences, we naturally eat less. And of course that means we end up weighing less too.

Why “Eat Right & Exercise” Hasn’t Brought Weight Loss

scales 2We all know what to do: just eat right and exercise!

It’s so simple – and it makes so much sense. Why, then, has knowledge about eating right and exercising not changed our weight – as individuals or as a nation?

There are two huge gaps in this advice. Ignoring these two important elements is why 99% of us eventually regain the weight we’ve worked so hard to lose. These two missing pieces are why food has become an emotionally charged subject – complete with shame, confusion and despair (not to mention a multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry getting profitably fatter and fatter by the day).

Certainly there are many “weight loss plans”. You can go with the latest Dr. Oz pick, or cleanse, or Adkin’s, or Nutri-system, or No White Stuff Diet …the list goes on and on. Any of these may move the needle on the scale for a time. Weight will stay lost only as long as you can stay on the wagon because…

We cannot maintain our weight loss without: RECOVERY & DISCOVERY.

RECOVERY – doing the work of healing your food addictions, your attachment to food that makes you act and feel crazy around it.

Until we recover from restriction and compulsion (caused by dieting and other factors) we will constantly be trying to live with the brakes on around food. This is exhausting and impossible to maintain.

BIG TRUTH #1: Until you recover from your damaged relationship with food it won’t matter how thin you become or how carefully you eat –

You will not be at PEACE around food.

Since food is a regular part of our daily lives, we’ll continue to suffer greatly if we don’t come to live peacefully and reasonably with it.

DISCOVERY – finding the lifestyle that FITS YOU – that comfort zone between the foods you enjoy and the health/weight/fitness you want.

Until you discover what fits you – your preferences, your schedule, your life – you will not be able to comply long-term. And that’s the goal, right? A permanent solution – so you can get on with your life, no longer side-tracked by food and body preoccupation.

BIG TRUTH #2: Until you find a lifestyle that fits you, your food-life will be difficult.

You won’t be able to relax into the peaceful partnership that’s meant to exist between you and your body.

Discovering your personal lifestyle takes a willingness to experiment. It requires curiosity, honesty, time and support. This journey is well worth the effort because, not only will it last, but it will bring a deeper love, appreciation and understanding of yourself. This – in the end – turns out to be a much greater treasure than just “getting skinny”.

BIG SURPRISE: When I coach with people who’ve reached their weight goal without these two pieces in place, they’re unhappy and surprised at their disappointment. They thought being thin was going to be the Holy Grail but their food-life is still a source of stress. Maintaining and micro-managing their food and exercise is as big a burden for them now as losing weight ever was.

Why? Because their relationship with food and their body is still out of balance, and they’re trying to operate within a lifestyle that isn’t a good fit for them.

GOOD NEWS: With a little coaching anyone can figure it out. There is always a way through.

BIG TRUTH #3:

You were born “eating right & exercising”

We were born living well with our food and our little adorable bodies. As babies we ate, slept and played joyfully and naturally from the inside out – and we can live this way again.

Peaceful, healthy self-care is not only possible for you – it’s the way your mind and body want to operate. It’s already in your DNA.

Our challenge is to silence the incessant noise, stop living by someone else’s rules and reconnect with the intuitive parts of ourselves…those places dieting has smothered somewhere along the way.

So, how do we put these two missing pieces in place? We stop dieting and start learning how to partner with our bodies again. As you recover your intuitive self and as you discover the lifestyle that fits you best, the strangest thing will happen…

You will begin to “eat right and exercise” naturally.

 

*A WORD ABOUT FOOD CHOICES: People who take the path of liberated eating end up finding their own best way of eating. Some reach their weight goal simply by eating mindfully. Some gravitate toward a certain eating style like Mediterranean, Paleo, etc. Through the process of recovery and discovery they find a menu they enjoy. 

If you’d like help getting started on this path, email me at cindy@theliberatedeater.com. It would be a privilege to help you find the food-life you’ve been wanting.

 

Why Can’t I Keep This Weight Off?? …Scientifically Speaking

Recently I was sharing the message of liberated eating on the radio. As I spoke of giving up dieting all together, a caller asked a great question:

What reliable science supports giving up dieting?

I understand his need for proof. After being part of The Great American Diet Era for the last sixty years it can feel dangerous to stop trusting diet rules and instead learn to trust yourself and your body again. But stop we must – the evidence is indisputable. Deprivation and hyper-control (the two legs dieting stands on) are two of the biggest reasons we are not losing weight.

Let’s take a look at the tip of the huge iceberg of research confirming dieting is not only ineffective, but actually does us harm. In fact, the data is clear; restrictive dieting is the primary obstacle between us and what we want.

A. WEIGHT LOST BY DIETING IS NOT SUSTAINABLE – a comprehensive review in the Journal of Obesity finds that no restrictive diets to date have generated long term results for the majority of dieters. Ninety-seven to 99% of us gain the weight back within a few years.
Click here for more…

B. IT’S NOT ABOUT WILL POWER – Restricting food to lose weight results in biological, physiological and psychological harm. “Adaptive thermogenesis” leads to inevitable weight regain and disordered eating. There are metabolic, behavioral, and neuroendocrine reasons you will regain your weight when you diet it off.
Click here for more…

C. DIETING HARMS METABOLISM – Thirteen of the 14 participants in a study of The Biggest Loser regained some or all of the weight they lost. Four regained more than they lost. Six years later they still cannot eat a normal amount of food without easily gaining weight because their metabolism was significantly lowered (by over 700 calories of fuel a day!).
Click for more…

D. DIETING GIVES NO RETURN ON INVESTMENT – “Weight-loss money is money down the toilet.” This statement by Dee Eddington was aimed at corporate wellness but applies to individuals as well.
Click for more…

There’s a mountain of scientific evidence that restriction makes human beings act and feel crazy around food. Check out chapter 2 in my book, The Liberated Eater, for more.

So, if dieting cannot work for us, what will??

The answer is recovery & discovery.

Recovering from the harm dieting has done.

 Changing how you relate to food, your body, and yourself. 

Finding your own personal lifestyle – the one that causes you to thrive.

It’s not a program; it’s a journey of change-over-time. And there are solid, specific helps to guide us along our way.

Here’s the thing…

  • Until we shift our focus from losing weight to authentic well-being, we’re sunk.
  • Until we shift our efforts and resources away from buying and trying the next new diet fad and onto discovering a lifestyle we can enjoy year in and year out, we’re sunk.
  • Until we stop berating ourselves for not being perfect and begin to give ourselves the mercy and care we give others, we’re sunk.
  • Until we stop thinking quick and start thinking permanent, we’re sunk.

I know it’s tempting to trust the next big diet thing again – we want to lose 40 pounds in two months and be done with it. And this is exactly the crux of the matter – if you really want to be done with it, there is only one answer. You must learn to live peacefully with food.

There is no short cut.

If you’ll leave dieting behind and take the first step toward liberated eating, I promise you, you will get far more than you bargained for. Yes, you’ll find your comfortable weight. Yes, you’ll feel far better. Yes, you’ll have clear mind-space for real living instead of food-preoccupation. Yes to all that and more… but, the real treasure on this journey of freedom is that you will find yourself.

If you’re like me and countless others, dieting has smothered you.

It has convinced you that you aren’t strong enough; it’s shouted with an accusing tone that “if you just had more willpower you could do this!”

We’ve felt shame, deprivation, confusion, and powerlessness – not to mention continual disappointment. But the truth is that none of this is you.

It’s dieting that’s powerless – not you.

It’s dieting that’s the disappointment – not you.

It’s dieting that’s hopeless – not you.

It’s the diet industry that should be ashamed – not you.

In fact, if you’re still standing, reading, trying, after years of dieting – BRAVO! You, my friend, have survived! You are one gritty soul. If you can endure dieting for years, you WITHOUT A DOUBT have what it takes to find your freedom.

SO WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP? If you would like to know more about how to reclaim the intuitive, mindful eater you were born to be, I have a 12 lesson course and daily support that will guide you step-by-step. Click here for more or just give me a call. I’m on your team.