Monthly Archives: February 2011

Food Triggers

The other day I walked into my bank (my bank!) and my senses were assaulted with the aroma of freshly baked cookies. Could this be, I thought!

Sure enough, on a beautiful silver plated platter, lined with white doilies, sat a dozen or more cookies – chocolate chip and it looked like some fudgy, peanut butter chip type of cookie. Are you kidding me, I need to make a financial transaction and now I have to decide if I want a “just-out-of -the-oven” cookie (or two).

This was too much to handle I tell you – it’s not right, it’s not fair, and they were there for my pleasure – courtesy of the bank of course. Apparently my bank need’s customers so bad that they are now luring them in fresh baked cookies.

Next thing ya know, they’ll have some Girl Scouts set up at a table on the sidewalk as you approach the door selling their cookies.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Girl Scout cookies – I’m just saying, one less temptation would be nice.

But it got me thinking about temptations, and how it’s all around us. And we have to make very conscious food choices all day long – even at a bank!

So recognizing that food “triggers” are all around us helps us to navigate throughout our day and lowers the probability that we’ll turn to mush when a trigger happens to you.  Let me give you an example of some triggers:

1. Seeing or Smelling Food
My bank experience is a great example of how I could have been caught off-guard. I wasn’t expecting to have a delightful dessert presented to me at my banking institution and when I walked in the smell of the cookies first hit me. Then the sight of them.

I could have thought, I’ll just have one – after all, what would it hurt. And it wouldn’t have hurt anything except the bottom line, it just wouldn’t have been a fiscally sound investment.  Okay, I’m trying to speak bank-ease but you get my point.

It affects my bottom line all right (my rear-end), and I wouldn’t be investing in a healthy future for myself.  But the point is, is that the cookies were there and I could have sabotaged my weight loss efforts that I’ve been working so hard on, and just told myself that one was okay, or I’ll work it off later, but having a cookie just wasn’t necessary and it wasn’t worth it to me.

Making a conscious decision to walk away without a cookie was more rewarding then having one and regretting it within minutes.

2. Biological Factors
Believe it or not, hunger pains, our hormones, or even thirst can trigger our thoughts to eat.

Have you ever been sitting next to someone and their stomach growls, and they quickly grab their mid-section, maybe even rub it, as they’re usually apologizing for the sound their stomach made or they quickly give you a run-down about why it could be possibly rumbling right then and there.

Well I say, don’t apologize – EMBRACE THAT RUMBLING STOMACH! Not literally, but know that hunger pains are not a bad thing and you don’t have to “feed the beast” as soon as you hear rumbling going on.

Now I realize that some of you may get headaches or have other physical aliments that are greatly affected if you don’t eat, and female monthly cycles can swing wildly in one direction or another causing us to think we need to “settle things” with food, but recognize that sometimes you don’t have to give in to that biological trigger.

Also, sometimes being thirsty can mimic hunger and your body may just be depleted of liquid so make sure that you are feeding your body plenty of liquids throughout the day.

I was one of those people who thought I always drank a lot of water, until I documented it for 5 days and realized I actually didn’t.  I now purposely move through my day counting off how many water bottles I went through – it’s just easier for me that way. What would work for you?

3. Emotional Eating
This can go along with the hormonal trigger too but you can also be triggered to eat because you’re sad, mad, bored, happy, tense, stressed, joyful, wishful, anxious, tired, or any other emotion that you can fill-in-the-blank-with (depending on what‘s going on in your life at that moment).

The emotion itself can be so draining that when you add on top of that the over-eating that takes place because of it, you really have to do all you can to protect your mind from going to a very sabotaging thoughts and make it “okay” for you to eat.

Eating food will never make an emotion go away or you feel different long-term. It never will.

Food is like a drug, it soothes for a moment, it takes you mentally and emotional away for a time, but you always have to come down off that high and deal with the after-math of over-eating.

The most important thing you can do is recognize when you’re using food to soothe or help a powerful emotion, and look for other ways to do that instead.

You can use positive self-talk and remind yourself, “I’m just feeling bored, I’m not hungry, and I can busy myself with ________ instead.”

4. Social Expectations
I recently went to a social gathering and because I wasn’t feeling good, my focus was just on visiting with my friends and not filling my plate.  Eating wasn’t even on my radar and I was perfectly content without munching on something.

Now any other time (when I’m feeling well) I can easily get caught up with nibbling and eating because A. food is around, and B. other people are doing it.  There have been times I know I’m not even hungry and I found myself hanging around the food and eating. Don’t you just hate that!

I have gotten much better with this and one of the things that helps me a lot is to eat a little something before I go to the gathering so I’m not overindulging.

Another thing I do frequently throughout the evening is just recognizing when I’m getting caught up in that anxious feeling to look like I should be doing something with my hands or mouth (like everyone else is). So sipping slowly on a drink (non-alcoholic of course) throughout the evening is helpful.

I have found people to be respectful about food choices you make (for dietary or health reasons) but if you do happen to have a food-pusher in your life, recognize that this journey is about you and not making someone else happy about whether or not YOU are going to indulge in a food choice that YOU DON’T WANT.

Recognizing what your food triggers are helps you to minimize your exposure to them and be successful about the choices your make.

As for me, I’ll be using the drive-up window at the bank from now on.

Wise Weight Loss Wisdom

Thomas Edison said “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”

May you believe that you are capable of accomplishing ONE THING this week and astound yourself at the end by saying “I actually did it.” May you have a powerful, successful, healthy, Thinking Thin week!

How Negative Self-Talk Can Sabotage Weight Loss Efforts

Not always, but sometimes our self-esteem takes a hit when we’re overweight.

It is often difficult to feel good about yourself when you are feeling physically or emotionally weak or tired.

What you tell yourself (repeatedly) you tend to believe – it’s called our “self talk.”

And does it stand to reason that if you’ve talked negatively about yourself for years that you would not know how to even think or talk positively about yourself in an encouraging way.

Here are a couple of ways to talk back to yourself and help raise your self-esteem to empower YOU when you’re feeling stuck.

First STOP! Take a minute to regroup.  Break the negative thoughts that flood your brain.

Aloud, or silently, come up with a phrase or word that you can say that will “snap you to attention” and help you to refocus. So you might want to use the word – STOP or REFOCUS or any other phrase that will s-l-o-w you down before you follow through with an undesirable behavior (such as overeating), or undesirable thoughts (negative thinking).

This word or phrase can help you to be more in control of your feelings and body and can help the anxiousness you may be feeling at the moment. Then redirect that negative energy somewhere else.

Walk briskly away from the moment
(if you’re standing at the fridge, eyeing a specific food, realizing you’re not hungry, but having an internal fight with yourself whether or not to take one bite or not -it is within “moments” that the most damage can be done, so STOP, and walk away from the situation as quickly as you can).

Make a phone call (you’re feeling restless, not particularly hungry, and you’re wandering around the kitchen, not really consciously aware that you’re rummaging through cupboards, recognize you need to do something, anything else but to be in the kitchen, so divert your attention and make a phone call to someone for a few minutes).

Take 5 slow, deep breaths (you’re just feeling anxious, uptight and sometimes you just don’t know why, but you’re feeling some food will calm you, it seems to soothe you, and it’s at those moments where you literally have to close your eyes and slowly, consciously, take some deep breaths – be very deliberate about the action so when you’re on your last breath, you can walk away from the temptation with confidence because you’re refocused).

Next, Question and Counter your negative self-talk.

By that I mean to challenge yourself with appropriate questioning and then counter your negative thoughts with positive statements (facts).

Ask yourself:
What’s the proof of this?
Is that always true?
Where is the evidence?

Let me give you some examples:

You:  I’ve tried changing my lifestyle a zillion times and nothing works.
Question:  Is that always true?
Counter: Actually, I have changed a couple things and they’re working really well for me. I just need to keep tackling little things which add up to big things.

You:  I always fail at making a long-term plans for myself.
Question: Is there any evidence to support that I always fail?
Counter:  The actual  evidence is that I have started working out twice a week last year and have stayed with that faithfully. And, I did complete those classes in the last year. I do follow-through on a lot of long-term plans.

Finally, it’s always good to have a “Big Picture Plan” for yourself but you have to chip away at it in small pieces.

Start with how you think about those small pieces.

Thinking About Eating – Again

I’m not going to lie. This time of year has me yearning to make sourdough bread (in my bread machine), and baking cookies. It doesn’t matter what kind – any type will do.

There’s something about cold weather that makes you want to fire up the oven and get the cookbooks out – actually, I don’t even know what those are but I do have some easy go-to recipes (or store boxes) that I can make pretty good cookies or bread from.

But one of my biggest problems is, if I make it, they will come. The “they” is me by the way. I’ll keep coming, and coming, and coming, back and forth to the container in which the delightful baked good is being kept.

I actually have a family member (ie: husband) that will have “a piece” and be satisfied. Ugg, I think, as I roll my eyes, how can he possibly do that.

But it is partly because of that, I have learned I can not make goodies and have them sitting around.

Or if I do, I cut recipes in half. I have just found if it’s around, and I visually see it, I tend to eat it. If I make a whole batch of something, that lasts way too long.

Also, I’ll freeze homemade goodies – that works great for me too as I can grab something (as a treat) in a little baggie and not over-indulge.

But there has also been times where I just had to throw the baked goodie away, as in, literally throw it in the trash.

It is in those moments where I can feel I would be out of control with my eating, and instinctually know I will eat the whole thing if I don’t do something drastic. And there’s something drastic (or symbolic) about scraping out the pan and watching it go in the trash.

But a girl has to do what a girl has to do. No truer words have ever been spoken than…a moment on the lips is forever on the hips!!

Another thing that I find helpful is to drink something hot this time of year.

One of my favorite indulgences is sugar-free hot lemonade. Now before you turn your nose up at the very thought, you need to give it a try. Sipping anything hot will have a tendency to slow you down because it takes a while to drink.

And very often hot liquid just makes you feel fuller – with fewer calories, depending on what you’re drinking of course.

So there you have it. The oven is NOT fired up tonight, it’s still cold outside, and I’m sitting here sipping hot lemonade.

For Your Information

I just found this out – Weight Watchers offers special package pricing exclusively to MI Blues members. If you happen to have this insurance, and you’re interested in trying this food plan, call the MI Blues to see if your Blue Cross Blue Shield plan covers Weight Watchers (1-866-237-8025)

3 Weight Loss Secrets

#1: The weight loss journey is yours.

The one thing I know about losing weight is it’s a very personal journey.

Each one of us has an internal compass that guides us, and you will know when you’ve had enough of feeling and looking the way you do. Someone else doesn’t have to tell you that you need to lose weight.

Along your journey you will finally realize that past weight loss failures can now be considered knowledgeable experiments of what worked, and what did not.

And you can use that knowledge in a new way.

No matter what anyone says to us about our weight, change has to come from within us, because of us, and for us. Not for someone else.

The weight loss journey can seem hard enough without feeling like we don’t measure up to someone else’s standards.

The journey may take you months or years, but the journey is YOURS.

#2: What works for someone else may not work for you.

Go ahead and admire your friends, your co-workers, or your siblings weight loss. You can even ask them how they lost their weight or compliment them about how great they look.

But realize that just because some diet, or some exercise plan worked for someone else, does not necessarily mean it will work for you.

Be careful about jumping on someone else’s (weight loss) bandwagon.

Typically, what happens anyway, is you “try” for several days what worked for so-and-so only to crash and burn a couple days later after you didn’t have any results.

Do what works for you. You know your own lifestyle, your own eating quirks, your own work schedule, your own unique personality – have a sense of what works for YOU.

#3: Losing weight is a head game.

You can not start the “weight loss game” without knowing the rules of the game.

Anyone who has ever played a game before – basketball, bingo, bunco, baseball – I don’t care what game it is, as a player you want to know the rules. So you can be the winner.

Everyone always think the only rule they need is just changing how they eat.

But it’s bigger than that…it’s about getting inside your head and discover the truths you have about what it will take for YOU to lose weight.

Losing weight has everything to do with knowing what your triggers are. Then knowing what you’re going to do about the urge to eat once a trigger is full-blown.

Losing weight is about learning to be a mindful eater and not just plow your way through a meal.

Losing weight is about being real with yourself (I sounded a little bit like Dr. Phil there, “…you need to get real with yourself son…“)

Recognize that you may have set-backs, and that’s normal. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure and you have to start all over (typically on the following Monday), it just means you have to learn new skills (ie: new rules of the game).

If you have a one bad hour of eating, it doesn’t mean you have to have a whole day of bad eating.

Losing weight will be the most important game you will play and you have to plan and strategize in order to manipulate the outcome.

BELIEVE that you can win this game, cause I do!

Weight Loss Encouragement

Thought of the day:

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.                   Oliver Wendell Holmes

(I can relate anything to weight loss – but it’s so true, what lies within us is what matters most and where the change begins!)

Diets? Or Dieting?

I started this morning off the best way I know – a good kickboxing class!

It seems to put me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day and there’s nothing better then awakening the day that way!

It is so sunny and gorgeous out today (although not warm by any stretch of the imagination), I know Spring is lurking around the corner and with the days being lighter longer, it might make it easier to attack that exercise class after work.

I know for me, some days it’s all I can do to get myself there but no matter what time of the day you exercise, the rewards are many.

Also, a couple of people have commented about when I refer to the word “diet” and for them that word has negative connections (and for many others too).

For some people a diet is something you start, and eventually go off. If that’s you, your weight loss history doesn’t look at the word DIET very positively.

And yet I also talk about “eating healthy” and use the two words interchangeably.

So let me try to set the record straight.

When I talk about diet or dieting, I’m referring to the actual food you eat (your diet of life). I’m not referring to a particular diet (ie: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach Diet, Atkins, etc).

In my own little head, I know what I am thinking and I know what I mean by using the word “diet” but I do not advocate one diet over another, and I can see why it would be confusing to some.

As I mentioned before, I am not a nutritionist nor dietitian and do not know all the medical or mental health concerns you may have that requires a specific way of eating, so always check with your doctor or other mental health professional if you have d-i-e-t program questions.

I will try, from now on, to refer to dieting as healthy eating, or eating nutritionally! Thanks for the feedback – much appreciated.

For any more comments or questions, always feel free to leave to let me know. You have two different ways to contact me: Either leave a message on the “Contact” tab or email me at thinkingthinlifestyle@gmail.com

Are You Joyfully Exercising?


This is a one minute video – it’s so joyful to watch you can’t help but bob your head and wave your shoulders. This is exactly what the Zumba class looks like where I go. There’s just a few people in the class that actually look like they know what they’re doing….but that’s not the point. It is a-maz-ing how much sweating you can do. For some of you who don’t like to sweat, just think of it as joyfully moving your body.

Do You Have a Problem with Dieting?

(this is a long one today but I know you’ll find it interesting)

One of the journeys that I’m on is to find information that help you, me and others understand the complicated factors that hinder us all from consistent weight loss.

And quite frankly I like research that help dieters know what they’re up against, or proven research that gives dieters sound strategies.

You know, like when you read something with “clout” and you have an Aha Moment that  confirms how you’ve been feeling for years.

If you’ve never gone to Psychology Today’s website, it’s a wonderful place to get lots of information. Kelly McGonigal published an article (The Problem with Dieting) not too long ago and shared about a recent study that showed just how chronic dieting can turn someone into a food addict.

Did I read that right? Dieting can turn someone into a food addict?  Keep reading….

Bad news for yo-yo dieters this week: according to a recent study, cycles of feast and famine can create fast-food junkies – at least in rodents.

(hang in there, I know you’re not a rodent, but this is good stuff).

The researchers put rats on a cyclic diet of 5 days of standard rat chow, followed by 2 days of the equivalent of rat fast food (high fat, high sugar, highly delicious).

In other words, a compressed version of most dieters’ swings between self-control and indulgence.

The first thing they observed is that it didn’t take long for the rats to develop a clear preference for the unhealthier diet. (not a surprise there)

When put back on a standard diet, they showed signs of anxiety and reduced pleasure from (or even refusal to eat) the standard chow.

When the preferred food was available again, their anxiety calmed down, but they overate.

After 7 weeks, the researchers took a look at what this diet had done to the rat’s brains.

They found the brain was resetting itself for higher levels of stress. This is the same pattern of brain changes observed during withdrawal from alcohol or other addictive substances.

Other research has demonstrated that this neural stress response triggers cravings and relapse among the substance-dependent.

In effect, by making the unhealthy food temporarily unavailable, the researchers created food addicts.

Food might not be addictive on its own, but prohibiting it can set off a cycle of anxiety, craving, and over consumption that for all purposes looks like addiction.

There’s no reasons to believe that the food itself was the problem in this study, but the anxiety induced by restricting access to it.

Another study offers hope for ending the cycle. Researchers at Laval University in Quebec, Canada have been following the benefits of a unique weight control intervention for over a year.

This intervention, called “What about losing weight?” emphasized the possibility of being “healthy at every size.”

(OKAY….HERE WE GO….YOU’LL LIKE THIS PART)

Rather than making food restriction and weight loss the goal, the intervention emphasized positive things participants could do to improve their health:

*good nutrition (what TO eat, not what NOT to eat)
*enjoy physical activity, and
*listen to their bodies

It also taught strategies for appreciating your body as it is now, regardless of size. (hard concept to swallow for some of us)

Participants in the study were overweight or obese women who had likely entered the study as chronic dieters. By the end of the study they showed significantly less “food disinheriting” or losing control around food during stress, celebration, or other situations that triggered overeating.

After the one year follow-up, two-thirds of participants had lost weight, despite the interventions’ explicit focus on positive behaviors, not trying to reduce food intake or lose weight.

Compare this to the quick weight loss followed by weight gain that a typical diet leads to. Participants who developed the most “flexible” restraint (as opposed to the rigid restraint of most dieting strategies) were the most likely to maintain a weight loss.

Yea!

From the first forbidden food (a very tempting apple) prohibition has led to problems.

This study shows that focusing on positive steps, not self-denial, can make you less likely to succumb to food-related stress and anxiety.

If you want to improve your overall self-control, and regain control around food, you may need to give up the ideal of perfect control!