Your Food-Story Can Have a Happy Ending

sunrise-1634197_960_720This morning I was listening to a message by Barbara Brown Taylor which had nothing to do with eating. She made a powerful statement that got my attention:

“Sometimes we have to start telling a different kind of story before a different kind of future can unfold.”

BAM!!

That sums up our journey of liberated eating beautifully.

We are telling – living – a new and very different kind of story from the one we were telling ourselves during our old miserable dieting days.

We who have struggled with food, weight and body for far too long want a different future. Desperately. The old story of restrictive rule-following did not take us to the future it promised.

Not even close.

The future we want requires a story of hope and help that actually works – for the long haul. We’ve gotta have an answer that’s big enough, strong enough & flexible enough for real life.

Nothing else will do.

The good news is there is a different kind of story – a trustworthy one.  It’s a life-sized solution that’s about so much more than just losing weight. It’s built on science and wisdom instead of empty diet industry promises.

It’s about living peacefully with food through weekdays and weekends, on vacation and at home, at birthday parties and restaurants – and even when we’re stressed.

Here’s a recent example of how this different kind of story played out in my real life…

Bob and I went to Tasty’s Fresh Burgers & Fries after a fine day of kayaking; we were hungry and happy from a day spent outdoors. We both ordered a cheese burger with the works, hold the onions, and split an order of tater tots.

MY OLD DIETING STORY would’ve sounded something like this in my head:

“I should NOT be eating this fattening food!!! [it’s sooooo heavenly delicious…I can’t resist] I’m being so bad! [maybe I exercised enough today to balance things out] But… if I’m gonna be bad I might as well go ahead and blow it big. I’ll start again tomorrow […or maybe Monday].”  Then I would eat it all, quickly, completely missing much of the goodness, paying no attention to what my body was telling me, and leave feeling stuffed and guilty and defeated. Again.

MY INTUITIVE, MINDFUL STORY can now play out like this:

“This looks delicious and I’m so grateful for it! I want to be sure to show up and slow down so I can enjoy each satisfying bite…I wanna be connected to all the goodness in this meal and moment. That’s a gift I can give myself.”   No guilt. No “shoulds” or “should nots”. No drive to overeat compulsively or shamefully or quickly. Because of this freedom I can stop eating when I’m not hungry anymore. I can easily leave food behind and walk out feeling very satisfied indeed.

Developing this kind of food-peace is a journey* anyone can take.

Our old diet story, driven by deprivation and hyper-control, made food an emotionally charged substance and drove us into all-or-nothing behaviors and beliefs.

It was frenzied and small and crazy-making.

The story of liberated eating, so different from dieting, allows us to choose from an authentic place, eat from a connected place, and live from a peaceful place – which works together to allow a different kind of future to unfold…the one we’ve wanted all along.

So, yes Friend, no matter how crazy you may feel right now, your food-story can indeed have a happy ending.

*to learn more about this journey check out my book, The Liberated Eater, or email me at cindy@theliberatedeater.com.

The Story I Just Can’t Forget

sunsetA friend told me a story recently I can’t get off my mind.

A missionary was living in a small African village. She asked her friends and their chief if they would introduce her to the people who lived in a nearby village. Early one morning they began their trek. She was excited to meet new people and was eager to get there. They walked awhile, then found some shade and sat down, she assumed, to catch their breath. After more walking they sat down again – they chatted, sat peacefully, then walked some more. In time they sat again. This happened several times and she was getting more and more antsy each time they stopped.

Finally she got up enough nerve to ask someone why they were stopping so often and he said,
“So our spirits can catch up with our bodies.”

Wow – what mind-jarring, life-recalibrating, much-needed ancient wisdom.

How often do we Westerners feel we’re meeting ourselves comin’ and goin’? How often are our crazy-busy minds out in front of us – on to the next thing before the last one is done?

These wise villagers knew well what our western research is spending lots of money and time to discover:

We humans are in need of quiet – of down time. (click on blue for more)

Our brains are not built for a constant flow of information.

We now see more information in one day than our ancestors processed in a lifetime…

Our minds, bodies and even our eyes suffer from the overload.

As a mindful eating coach I spend my days helping people slow down and re-connect with their bodies, to re-remember how to stop and experience the joy of eating and moving again.

The simple practice of chosen-mindfulness changes us.

We begin to awaken – to feel more fully and deeply alive.

And not just at the table.

This is something all of us can do – and – no one can do it for us. Each of us must accept the responsibility for the stewardship of our own mind and soul. In our distracting world, peace will need to be intentionally cultivated – it’s not a given.

You are the only one who can make the space and time to sit in quiet contemplation.

What are you doing right now to relax, to allow your spirit to catch up with your body each day?

Here are a few ideas…you will find your own:

  • Quietly read, pray, meditate
  • Play, stroll, exercise, stretch, yoga, walk, etc.
  • Art – draw, paint, color, finger paint, etc.
  • Music – listen or make your own
  • Play with children, ride a bike, swing…
  • Enjoy your pets, a garden, a hammock…
  • Deep breathing, biofeedback, massage, muscle relaxation

There are so many ways to feel anchored peacefully in yourself again. Find your way.

Especially in the 21st century, unless you move to a village with no wifi, you will need to be fierce for your own peace, for finding your way of allowing your spirit to catch up with your body each beautiful day.

From Food-Focused to Life-Focused!

babyBabies are very intuitive creatures. They sleep when they’re sleepy. They poop when they’re poopy. They eat when they’re hungry. They stop when they’re satisfied. Babies are very intuitive because no one has had time to convince them to over-think things yet. They do what comes naturally.

Eating intuitively causes them to flourish. Because they’re prompted by their body’s messages, they have plenty of energy and time for the important things – like non-stop discovery. Babies are life-focused!

We were born eating in this relaxed way too — and we can live that way again. This way of living is freeing. Once you get used to it you’ll wonder how you ever lived any other way.

Think about this: what are you focused on when you’re dieting? Food. What are you focused on when you’re overeating? Food. But, when you’re eating intuitively you are free . . . free to focus on life – on  peopling, playing, creating, exploring, thinking, and doing that thing you’ve always wanted to do.

This is way more fun than thinking about your next snack.

Liberated eaters are free to get on with living because we’re learning to trust our bodies to tell us when to eat. It’s like having a trustworthy alarm clock. You can relax and sleep, trusting it will tell you when to get up.

So, how might this change happen?

  • By daring to relax and trust yourself
  • By adopting a set of core principles that work
  • By rediscovering the intuition you were born with
  • By reclaiming your autonomy
  • By embracing full responsibility for your own health
  • By mastering proven tools that can get you through tough eating situations with confidence
  • By accepting and making peace with your Immovables
  • By designing your own personal blueprint for eating – one that fits you
  • By finding the support you need and staying connected with it as long as its needed

If you’d like to explore this in more detail, take a look at TLE Workshop. The 12 chapters will guide you gently, yet solidly, out of the old food-focused diet mentality into a lifelong journey of freedom.

Yea Baby! Let the adventure begin…

Dieting vs. Liberated Eating : A Comparison & A Parable

Tortoise and hareDieting is a tough competitor because it promises quick weight loss and dramatic results. There are few things we like better than quick and dramatic!

Diets also give us extreme steps to follow which can feel exciting (for a while at least) like hyper-strict eating rules, the latest detox, fat-eating pills, metabolism-boosting shots, special combination of foods, etc. It feels like we’re doing something serious and productive about this “problem”… after all, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Liberated eating, on the other hand, promises no such things. In fact, mindful, intuitive eating promises slow weight release (so it will last), moderate measures (so they will last), and no special diet foods (so we can last).

Now I admit, this comparison makes dieting look a lot more exciting, kind of like comparing the flashy hare with the boring tortoise, but let’s take a big step back and look at the long view…

If a solid lifetime solution piques your interest, here are a few more comparisons to consider:

  • Diets focus on what you eat.
    Liberated eating focuses on how and why you eat.
  • Dieting is based on will power (which inevitably wears down).
    Liberated eating is based on trust between you and the inner wisdom you were born with.
  • Dieting depends on obeying rules that press from the outside in, overriding your personal autonomy (a powerful basic human need).
    Liberated eating focuses on authentic lifestyle change from the inside out, honoring your personal autonomy.
  • Diets are “one size fits all.”
    Liberated eating is about discovering what fits you.
  • Dieting focuses on weight loss.
    Liberated eating focuses on vibrant health, with a comfortable weight thrown in.
  • Dieting focuses on quantity of food.
    Liberated eating focuses on quality of food.
  • Dieting is rigid and restrictive…very difficult to take on vacation.
    Liberated eating is livable and flexible and can go anywhere with you.
  • Dieting turns food into a dreaded enemy.
    Liberated eating reveals food as a good gift.
  • Dieting makes you feel crazy around food.
    Liberated eating brings deep peace and gratitude.

In short, comparing liberated eating to dieting is like comparing the tortoise with the hare.

Just remember who won the race.

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.

Is Mindfulness Much Ado About Nothing?

This mindfulness thing…                                                                                                          MuchAdo

What’s it all about anyway?  Can something so bland-sounding actually be powerful?

Recently three things happened, all in the same day, that highlighted for me, once again, the life-changing power of mindfulness:

1. A SNARKY QUOTE: This anonymous quote on the radio got me thinking:

“There is considerable interest in mindfulness these days – as long as it isn’t taken so far as to make one wise.”

Sarcastic, yes, but thought provoking indeed. What depth of wisdom might be reached if we lived more mindfully?

2. AN INSIGHTFUL FRIEND: I got an email from a coaching client who wrote,

“Since I’ve been practicing ‘showing up’ I’m not eating nearly as much or as often. I’m learning how to recognize what I really want. I also notice that I feel more peaceful in general. I don’t understand this yet, but I’ll take it!”

3. MY TRUTHFUL BODY: That same day I had an epiphany about my own body. She doesn’t lie. My body had been trying to tell me about some stress I’d been accumulating for quite some time, way before my mind would admit it. Tight shoulders, clinched jaw, restless feeling in my chest. My body had faithfully been sending up red flags; I had just been slow on the uptake.

I’m grateful for that day of mindful reminders.

MINDFULNESS

What is it anyway?

Here’s one way of saying it…

It’s focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly noticing and accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, without judging them or yourself.

It’s the opposite of coasting on auto-pilot and then judging yourself harshly for it.

What does it do for you?

Being mindful helps you…

  • feel “at home” in and connected to your own body
  • recognize and regulate stress before it kills you
  • tame the distracting (and often negative) chatter in your head
  • recognize what you really want and need (no one really wants 27 Oreo’s)
  • fully engage in what you’re doing – show up for your NOW
  • experience more pleasure and meaning

How do I get more of it?

The simple answer: Practice. Just practice paying attention. Tune in to what your body is telling you. Lucky for us, mindfulness is a skill anyone can develop. Like a muscle, it grows and strengthens as you work it.

Now, back to our original question: Is mindfulness much ado about nothing?

Turns out it’s a profoundly powerful human capability…

In short, being a mindful person connects the real you to your real life, and to real people and real experiences in real time.

Whoa.

No one wants to miss all that.

Awaken Your Personal Health-O-Meter

howToBeHappyA brand New Year is the perfect time to re-remember that each of us possess something profound…something deep and often hidden, yet ready and waiting to improve our lives from the inside out.

We all come with a personal health-o-meter installed.

Each of us, from birth, has an inner compass whose sole mission is to help us flourish. As babies we are closely connected to it – we cry when it says we need fuel, and stop nursing when it tells us we’ve hit “just right”. We aren’t stressed over what or when or how much to eat.

This inner primal-powerhouse holds vast wisdom for us as adults as well.

Let’s take a look at why many of us have lost our finely tuned connection with this personal pathfinder…

1. DISTRACTIONS – Never in our history have we heard so much NOISE! We’ve gone from 500 ads a day in the 1970’s to 5000 a day. Devices pipe in 24/7 chatter, music, entertainment and information.

Many people never hear a moment of pure natural silence,
even in their sleep.

Rich Reflection: When and how will I work some refreshing silence into my days this year? Be specific.

2. DIETS – Fifty years of aggressively marketed restriction has taught us to stop listening. Many of us relinquished our autonomy over our own hunger, satisfaction and preferences a long time ago. To be successful at dieting means we have to ignore our bodies’ messages, all the while becoming less and less connected to our own finely-tuned and trustworthy compass.

Rich Reflection: What specific tools will I practice this year, to help me reconnect with my body and my food?

Click here for some ideas…

3. SELF-DOUBT – With demands and distractions from the outside, a lack of centering quiet on the inside, and the confidence-crushing consequences of years of “unsuccessful” dieting – it’s no wonder many of us are left feeling powerless in our ability to manage our own wellness and weight.

Click here to find out why you have not failed at dieting.

In spite of our “hearing loss”, the glorious truth remains…

Your body wisdom is not dead.

Understandably many of us have lost the memory of living peacefully by its wisdom – of the beautiful inner navigation that was so natural for us as children.

We have forgotten we know how. But it is there. Deep and true and trustworthy.

At its core, that’s what the journey of liberated eating is about, a reawakening of what’s been in place all along.

When you combine that personal power with some common sense practices you can make your weight and health dreams come true in 2017!

 

4 Eating Scenarios – Which Do You Relate To?

Party-Food-300x300Wow, here we are into 2017!!!

The gym is full. Nutri-System and Jenny Craig are making bank. New Year’s resolutions are still resolute…for now. Problem is only about 8% of us follow through.

So, if we want to make changes that stick we will need something more dependable than a resolution. And that something is authentic relationship.

Your personal relationship to your body will determine how well you treat it, way past any New Year’s resolution.

Your deep relationship to food will determine how you live with it this year, far beyond any January detox.

Let’s use the next big food-filled event, Super Bowl Sunday, to imagine how this might play out:

  1. RESTRICTIVE DIET relationship with food: Yikes! None of this party fare is on my diet so I bring my own legal food. Somehow, in a weak moment, I eat 3 Frito Scoops smothered in warm cheese dip. I’m immediately transported to salty, greasy heaven…until the familiar guilt sets in. I reel in defeat for a few terrible minutes – and then decide, since I’ve already blown it, I might as well go ahead and pig out and start again tomorrow. I leave the party feeling stuffed, tired and powerless.
  2. INTUITIVE relationship with food and body: None of this food is what I normally eat but that’s no longer a threat to me. I check in to see how hungry I am, then look around to see what looks most satisfying. I choose a variety of things including a few crunchy Fritos with cheese dip – guilt free. I know that peak taste diminishes after 3 or 4 bites so I choose to eat a few bites of my favorite things – enjoying each bite to the max!

As a liberated eater I now understand …

More food does not equal more pleasure.

More savoring does. 

3. MINDLESS relationship with food: Food and people are everywhere! I’m totally distracted and quickly slam down 3 pieces of pizza while standing up. They don’t actually register so I have to have more later. I don’t remember most of what I ate, but my stomach does. As the night wears on I feel heavy and have a hard time concentrating on conversations with friends. By the time I leave I wonder why I ate so much and regret it. Again.

4. MINDFUL relationship with food: Food and people are everywhere so I know I need to be intentional about staying mindful tonight. I stop and visit with several friends, thinking how good it feels to be life-focused instead of food-focused now. When I’m ready I check out the food table and choose what will be most satisfying tonight. I’m free to eat anything I want, and I’m free not to eat anything that will side-track me from enjoying myself. I intentionally choose a peaceful pace and mindset. There’s no guilt over eating a perfect piece of pizza, and there’s no disappointment when I decide not to eat any cookies.

Note: Cookies and I go way back and have had more than a few messy affairs. I decide I will feel more peaceful and fully present if I don’t bother with them tonight. I value my peace more than any momentary taste, especially a taste I’ve had more than enough of for one lifetime. These days I’m in charge of the cookies instead of cookies being in charge of me.

Which of these scenarios resonated with you? For those of us who’ve struggled with food, it’s hard to imagine not struggling, but peace with food and body is possible for each of us. And it boils down to how we shape our relationship with it.

How are you feeling about food these days?

How are you and your body getting along?

Here at the beginning of 2017 is a great time to give these questions some thoughtful consideration.

If you aren’t getting the answers you want, please know this can be the year you change that. If you aren’t sure where to start, just holler. It would be my honor to help you explore next steps as you head into this brand new year!

Making and Keeping Your Resolution in 2017

The top New Year’s Resolution of recent decades is “to lose weight”. This was certainly my solemn promise to myself every year from 1970 to the new millennium. But the results never lasted and there’s one simple, but profound reason why…

Real change happens from the inside out.

Dieting caused us to focus on the wrong things; we poured our valiant efforts into changing our outside behaviors rather than changing our inner beliefs.

WE WERE GIVEN THE WRONG ANSWER: Restrict your food intake and increase your exercise.

It seems so clear, right? But in reality we haven’t been able to stick to this formula because it never got to the root of the issue.

Here’s what dieting never taught us: Our actions begin between our ears – not on our plate. Until we change how we think, we will not be able to permanently change how we eat.

WE DO HAVE A REAL SOLUTION: A universal truth…

Our thoughts lead to our feelings.

Our feelings lead to our behaviors.

Our behaviors lead to the results we want,
or the consequences we don’t want.

What we think determines how we eat.

  • If I think food is the only way I can sooth myself when I feel anxious, I’ll feel helpless to do otherwise.
  • If I think food is fattening and dangerous, I’ll feel uneasy around it – which leads to reacting irrationally rather than responding intuitively.
  • If I believe I should eat “perfectly” I will feel ashamed when I don’t, which leads to all sorts of unhealthy behaviors and consequences.
  • If I believe my body is only worthy of respect at a lighter weight, then I will have a very hard time valuing it enough to take kind care of it – which is what it takes to stay at a lighter weight.

And if you feel weak, defeated and hopeless after years of “failed” diet attempts, you will struggle to believe you’re a strong and capable person, even though you are!

Reminder: You’ve never failed a diet. Dieting has failed you.

BOTTOM LINE:  If you want permanent results in 2017, please don’t plan another diet for this January. Instead, put your good effort into changing how you think about your body, yourself and the good gift of food…the rest will take care of itself.

If you aren’t sure where to start, click here and read this, then call me. I would love to help you get what you want this year, and keep it for the rest of your amazing life!

3 Surprising Reasons You Need More Eating Pleasure

cake 2-1227842_960_720

 

Here’s a profound truth about eating that’s so simple we miss it all the time.

This truth will enhance your up-coming Thanksgiving feast and revolutionize your food-life in the new year ahead.

Are you ready for it?      …drum roll…

If you’re gonna eat it anyway, ENJOY IT!

If you choose it, own it.

3 reasons this practice is so important:

1. Pleasure is a critical part of healthy metabolism. If you don’t relax enough to experience pleasure when you eat, it adversely affects your metabolic health, and cuts digestion effectiveness by 40 to 60%. Stress elevates cortisol and insulin, which causes your body to hang onto extra weight.

2. Satisfaction is not a luxury, it’s an innate need. When your eating experience isn’t satisfying, your mind and body will keep looking for the pleasure they need by causing you to crave more food, even after your fuel needs are met. Food guilt, mindless eating, eating-on-the-run – all these common eating scenarios – leave us unsatisfied and set us up for unrelenting cravings.

3. Owning your own choices empowers you. Dieting has damaged our self-confidence and caused us to deeply question ourselves. Taking full responsibility for yourself again is healing. As you practice making thoughtful choices and stand by them, you resurrect your personal power and dignity.

So, if you decide to have a slice of Aunt Peggy’s Christmas pie this year – be all in! Sit down in your right mind, relax, thank God for it, and experience it fully for the holy day gift it is. Without judgment. Without guilt. Without reserve.

As you adopt this life-giving practice of pleasure you’ll find that you begin to choose more wisely, feel more peaceful and – your pants will begin to fit more loosely too.