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.

One Question You Gotta Answer

1How long have you wanted to lose weight? Exercise regularly? Get your cholesterol down?

If you’ve wanted to make those kinds of changes for a while, you’re not alone. Most of us have at least one area where we would like to see some change.

We tend to ask ourselves questions like “Why can’t I lose this weight?” or “How often should I be going to the gym?” or “What should I be eating – or not eating?”

“Should” and “why can’t I” questions are rarely helpful.

Here’s a powerful question that can help us move the needle when it comes to changing things:

How much energy am I willing to put into getting what I want?

Stop a moment and allow yourself to give this some thought. Be sure to ask with a kind and sincere tone. If you have an accusatory or critical tone (like you should be willing to give it your all!) the question will be meaningless.

This is an important question to answer sincerely. Until we know this, we tend to set ourselves up for disappointment, expecting more than we can or will invest right now.

When we ask this question several important things happen:

1. You take “should” out of the mix

Should is a notoriously poor motivator. It’s pushy and usually leads to shame. Shame might push us into doing something for a while but never leads to lasting results.

2. You give yourself permission to be honest.

Knowing how much energy you’re willing to expend right now helps you make realistic plans.
If you realize you don’t have a lot of energy to spend (or even enough “want to”) you can adjust accordingly. This is a great time to pick the low hanging fruit – which leads to another good question:

What small step could I take right now?

Sometimes doing one new thing, even if it seems small, can jump-start a whole cascade of good things.

So, if you’ve been wanting to make changes in your exercise routine, your weight, or your cholesterol, try starting right here…

How much energy are you willing to put into getting what you want?

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…

To All Us Body-Haters…

9 out of 10 American women have disliked their body for a long time.

liz v kateAfter all, many of us have seen our body as “The Problem” since we were teenagers. We have a constant stream of unrealistic skinny-body images that keep our body-dissatisfaction alive and well.

It’s precisely that long-standing belief that our bodies are the problem, and the consequent negative feelings, that can keep us stuck.

We’ve been feeling this way so long that we might not realize we can challenge it. It’s time to reconsider whether or not this thinking is helpful or true.

We can change our minds.

Here’s a good start:

“Lay down your tired weapons of condemnation. Relinquish the striving. Take a deep breath and decide to step completely out of the battle for thinness and step into the joy of living fully, vibrantly and freely in the only body you will ever have.

“Stop and consider this: your best memories were experienced through that body you live in right now. The most fun you’ve ever had was possible because of your body. The last thing you saw that took your breath away was seen through those eyes in that body. The most moving music you’ve ever heard went through those ears. The dearest expression of love you’ve ever given or received was given and received through that body. That body is uniquely yours. It is the warm, pulsing vessel that houses the essence that is you. It has been your constant companion. It was with you before you breathed your first big gulp of air, and it will be with you when you breathe the last.

“That body is something to be revered and respected.” 

What could happen if you devoted yourself to a deep appreciation of that body, as it is right now?

Where might that affection take you and your health over the next year?

What might happen if you began to treasure that body, to seriously listen to her cues, to lovingly honor her needs?

What might happen if you began to nurture a life-long friendship, a devoted partnership, with your body today?
*adapted excerpt from the newly revised book, The Liberated Eater, by Cindy Landham

 

What’s Going On When Enough Food Isn’t Enough?

red flagWhat’s going on with us liberated eaters when we keep eating even though our stomachs are telling us to quit?

This happens to all of us now and then. Instead of getting sidetracked by guilt or fear, let’s explore what’s happening when enough food isn’t feeling like enough.

There are hundreds of reasons we might feel compelled to overeat – from old habits to new stressors – but let’s divide these myriad reasons into three main categories so it’s easier to find solutions.

There’s always a way through.

When enough isn’t feeling like enough, check in on these 3 possibilities:

1. Your life is raising a red flag: Something needs your attention. You really are hungry – just not for more food. So the question becomes

“What am I really hungry for?”

Could you need more fun? Connection? Creativity? Purpose? Wiggle room? Spiritual meaning? Peace? These are all legitimate needs that can feel a lot like gnawing hunger.

2. Your food-life is asking you to show up again: Maybe you’re not eating as mindfully these days, which is easy to forget in our distracting world. Thoughtful eating, however, is the strongest safeguard for our food-filled lives. Becoming present before we take that first bite sets us up for sanity and satisfaction.

3. You’ve forgotten what you REALLY want: The more future-focused we are the easier it is to align our daily choices with our future dreams. When your goal of feeling great tomorrow is not top-of-mind today, it’s easy for the other half of that panini to look pretty special.

Keeping a shined-up mental picture of myself dancing joyously at my granddaughter’s wedding when I’m 85 makes it much easier to get to the gym at 59.

So there we have it, three different areas to explore. Here are some questions to think through if you’d like to dig a little deeper…

What might your life need more of right now? Or less? Would you be willing to journal about this or talk it through with a trusted friend this week?

How thoroughly have you been enjoying your eating experiences lately? On a scale of 1 to 10 how “present” are you these days?

How strong is your motivation for reaching and keeping your best health? What does this level of health look like for you? What might change if you focused on how you want to feel one year from today?

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.

3 Critical Keys To Permanent Weight Loss

number 3If you want to weigh less, permanently, here are three important things to consider:

  1. You will need to eat less (and possibly better quality) fuel, permanently.
  2. This smaller amount of fuel will need to be satisfying to you or you won’t be able to sustain it.
  3. To consistently eat reasonably requires having a peaceful, balanced relationship with food, so you aren’t compelled to eat when you’re not hungry.

These three reality checks can help us come to grips with what it takes to reach and keep our goals.

Hint: HCG shots and Nutri-system will not cut it long term.

Here’s how this played out in my life: I didn’t gain the freshman 15. I gained the freshman 40, and I enjoyed getting there with reckless abandon…bottomless Dr. Pepper while studying, drive-thrus, stacks of Cowboy cookies from Safeway, Waffle House at 2 in the morning. The only problem was I hated my body, and food preoccupation was stealing my very life.

Fast forward 40 years. After three decades of brutal food-dysfunction, chronic dieting and body-hatred, I stumbled into recovery and now help others do the same; that’s a long story for another time.

Right now let’s take a closer look at how the three keys apply to a real life – mine:

1. To keep a comfortable weight I will need to eat less for the rest of my life – not just for the duration of a diet. I’m around 40 pounds lighter now and if I want to stay here I need to consistently live with the smaller amount of fuel my body needs to maintain this lighter weight.

This boils down to biology:

  • Small bodies run on a smaller amount of food.
  • Medium bodies run on a medium amount of food.
  • Larger bodies run on a larger amount of food.

2. I had to find a way of eating I really like, one I could easily and happily continue. It’s gotta be a lifestyle, not a diet. Here’s the beautiful irony – I enjoy eating now more than I ever have. Savoring, appreciating, getting up from a meal feeling deeply satisfied and refreshed. I wouldn’t go back to feeling heavy, stuffed, numb and miserable for anything!

3. Eating reasonably meant I needed to build a new relationship with food and my body. Peace with food is not about muscling through by sheer will power. I needed an authentic change from the inside out.

ONE MORE REALITY CHECK: WE CAN’T HAVE BOTH: No one can deeply enjoy their life while living in a love/hate relationship with food or body. Our human capacity simply does not allow room for both. A rich life demands your whole heart. And so does an addiction*.

The good news is that you can, I can, anyone can live peacefully with food & body. Both are our friends. Your body is your constant companion and food keeps it running so you can go live your amazing life.

With encouraging support, solid science, life-giving thoughts and time, you can have the comfortable and stable weight you’ve dreamed of.

 

*There are different schools of thought about whether we can be addicted to food, technically speaking. Food is a different substance from drugs and alcohol. Never the less, a dysfunctional relationship with food (and body) steals life-energy from us as surely as any chemical addiction does.

 

Candy Candy Everywhere!!!

VclearanceToday as Valentine candy is taken off the shelves (and put on the sale rack) Easter candy will take its place, so it’s the perfect time to talk about the year-round temptation to overindulge.

Those of us who struggle with feeling sane around food can be highly affected by this constant barrage of “special” sweet treats. The opportunity to indulge is cheap, easy and right under our noses, creating no small amount of cognitive dissonance…

We want to eat the candy AND we don’t want to eat the candy.

Let’s take a deeper look so we can better deal with the sweet treat parade and stop torturing ourselves.

Changing perspectives:

I.   “I’m going to miss out if I don’t (over)indulge.”

Everything looks so delicious and special…it only comes around once a year…

Let’s challenge this idea and turn it on its head. What if you begin to ask yourself:

“What will I miss out on if I DO (over)indulge?”

  • My goals and dreams of vibrant health are farther away
  • My confidence to live reasonably with food is shaken
  • My energy is lower – I feel heavy and tired
  • My mind is less peaceful – I feel disappointed and regretful

Think about what you’ll miss out on if heavily marketed and ever-present “special” treats are driving your bus instead of your true and deep desire to feel great in that body of yours.

You’ll miss out on…

  • The realization that YOUR LIFE is a special occasion and you can show up for it feeling healthy and fit
  • The empowering feeling of a growing freedom and balance around food
  • The knowledge that YOU are in charge and no longer under the spell of commercial forces and special occasions
  • The gift of growing vibrant health and energy – in your mind as well as your body

II.      “But everybody else gets to eat all they want.”

Feeling like the only one who isn’t eating “all I want” certainly can feel like unfair deprivation.

But is this really true?  Let’s challenge this myth…

The truth is that people who feel energetic in their body are not going to over indulge – at least not very often. They usually eat exactly what they want – but since they don’t like feeling stuffed and heavy, they eat a few bites of their favorites and that’s that. It simply isn’t true that everybody is going to eat tons of candy.

So as the Easter candy is showing up on the shelves, take a deep relaxing breath and know that it has no “special” power over you.

We’re challenging long held beliefs about our need to overindulge.

We’re replacing old worn-out life-draining beliefs (left over from our dieting days) with strong liberating life-giving ones – because our lives are very special occasions indeed!

Valentines – All About Love…and Candy!

valentine-chocolate-boxFor those of us who feel prone to over-do-it with sweet treats, holidays can cause a great deal of anxiety. This time of year abundant colorful, heart-shaped goodies are in-your-face unavoidable!

Let me encourage you to think about how you might love yourself (not just others) this year. What will you be most happy with, food-wise, once the whole thing is over?

We don’t have to wake up on February 15th with a chocolate hangover.

We have choices.

We have power.

Let’s take a quick look at some of our conflicts and some of our options…

THE CONFLICT: We want the candy and we want to live in a body we enjoy. Those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Let’s look at 2 things that might help us sort this through:

  1. UNDESERVED POWER – Remember, candy isn’t fattening. No food is fattening in and of itself. Overeating it is. Sugar isn’t a morally wicked substance either. You’re not a bad person if you eat chocolate and a good person if you eat an apple. If we see sweets as wicked and dangerous, we’re giving them more power than they deserve. It’s just candy; it’s not all that. You can choose not to eat any of it, or you can choose to savor some slowly – with no guilt whatsoever.
  2. UNREASONABLE ALL-OR-NOTHING – Because we tend to think of candy as “bad” we also tend to eat none of it, or A TON of it. This takes reasonable moderation off the table. Thinking of food as “good” or “bad” is faulty thinking and leads to extremes.

Now let’s look at some What-Ifs that can help us think through what will be the most satisfying choices for ourselves this year. Consider each one and then pick the scenarios that please you most and go for it.

What if, this year, for Valentine’s  Day you…

  • decide to go to your favorite market and give yourself the gift of the most beautiful fruit in season and a new-to-you cheese, and then you get on your cozies and watch a movie while you enjoy these delectable treasures?
  • decide that two or three pieces of your very favorite Valentine candy is what will bless you most this year? And what if you decided to sit down and eat them in a way that honors you, your body and your mind?
  • eat with reckless abandon, the whole time feeling guilty about it because you think sugar is a toxic poison – and if you eat it you must be a very bad person indeed?
  • eat with reckless abandon and do not feel guilty about it – but still feel out of control and heavy and sluggish?
  • decide to be Sale-Free this year? What if you decide that the bargain of saving money on leftover candy you hope you won’t eat really isn’t a bargain at all?

These scenarios give us some food for thought. Take some time and think through how you want to feel in your mind and in your body. What will you be most happy with on February 15?

There is no one-size-fits-all best answer. This kind of choice is personal – and possible.

Love yourself well this year.

 

FUN FISCAL FACT: 1.7 billion dollars will be spent on Valentine candy this year, not counting advertising dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a b.  Click here for other fun facts.