Last week, I talked about how life-long-term health is about your life. Not just your diet. This week is the sequel. The diet part. Because it takes both. Diet alone does not solve why the refrigerator is open when you are not hungry, so to speak. But on the flip side, to focus on life balance alone in hopes to cure stress, boredom or loneliness eating, underestimates the power of food.
This is such a big topic. I'm trying to figure out how to narrow it down. Ok - here is how I want to approach this... Why I believe so strongly in meal replacements as a transitional tool.
When you focus so much on the diet, all you learn to do is diet. No seriously. You learn to shop, chop, pack and track - and deprive. To diet. So once you reach a healthy weight (which rarely happened where I was concerned), in order to maintain, you have to continue to diet at a maintenance calorie level because that is all you know.
Here is the beauty of a partial meal replacement, partial whole foods program - as part of a comprehensive program - where you also have learning tools, community and coaching support. Not just a bunch of shakes and a "good luck with that" send off. With nutritionally-sound meal replacements eaten throughout the day and a simple well-rounded meal you make for yourself:
1) Your body gets the message "I'm getting what I need now you can let go of the reserves!" And, your blood sugar gets managed - which means your cravings go away. My whole life I thought I had a willpower issue, when what I had was a blood sugar issue.
2) Instead of your time and energy being spent on the shop, chop, pack and track activities - you have a tool that is very simple, very convenient and that frees you up to focus on the real stuff... why you eat. So that once you do reach a healthy weight, you are able to stay there.
3) You build habits in layers. While you use meal replacements as a tool, and while you lose weight and enjoy more energy - you create a few critical, foundational habits. You learn eating rhythm - the habit of eating every few hours (this is how often babies eat, how we were intended to eat, we just screw it up.) You learn planning ahead - about groceries, dinner, social outings, etc. And you learn how to make one (or two) healthy meal(s) a day without being overwhelmed all day long. These three habits, realistically, are usually enough to focus on the few two months. Then once these habits become "habit" we peel the next layer. Then, once you are at a healthy weight and have a few layers of habits under your belt, you transition back to whole foods throughout the day. I find this brilliant, because once you know how great healthy feels there is a whole lot more motivation to stay there, versus trying to get it right all day long from the get-go while you feel like crap and lack hope.
Make sense? So, if you are trying to go it alone - the old fashioned way - just stop. Give yourself a break. You are not a failure. You are just trying to create a masterpiece without any tools.
Of course, you can imagine, I have an opinion on which "fuelings" or meal replacements - along with a comprehensive program - are better than the rest!! If you want to know more. Just ask. :)
"What will you say no to if you’re truly saying yes to this?" This was a question posed last week in a leadership blog I follow. And I liked it. Simple. Straight forward. Honest.
We want it all. To have the cake and eat it too. Yes, I want to be healthy. Yes, I want to wear a smaller size. Yes, I want to have more energy, be more flexible, feel awesomely confident. Amen. Bring it on, sister (or brother.) But wait, what? I will have to do things different? Hmmm.... Well.... Let me think about that.
Seriously?!?! Do you know how many times I've had that conversation? Yet I get it. I would like a fit body without having to work out. And I would really like a clean house without having to clean. And as long as I'm making a list here, what I really, really would like is a to have totally smart finances without having to pay attention to finances. If you see any of those magic wands waving over my head, please, let me know.
So, you're willing to go on a "diet" for a short period of time, maybe - but to have to make changes long term? And to actually have to look at other areas of life? Not so much. If I lose someone, that is where it happens. Which brings me to what's on my mind here today. I use a Well-Being Evaluation that invites you to rate your life in 18 areas, in three categories - your body, mind and finances. What does this have to do with weight loss? Let me tell you. Weight is a symptom - of your eating, exercise, sleep and relaxation habits. (That's the "body" part.) And these habits are largely a symptom of the other two areas. Think about it. But what causes you to eat unhealthy food? What keeps you from enjoying regular exercise, sleep and relaxation?
If you are trying, but it isn't working - yes, the food plan is critical. And I'm going to get into that next week. But the food plan alone is just a diet. And diets don't work. We have 1/2 billion attempted diets each year in our country and an obesity epidemic. The reason I hear most people struggle is not due to : pizza, chips and candy. It is due to boredom, stress, lack of time and lack of support. And so to have long-term success; to enjoy long-term health - they have to get addressed. "What will you say no to if you're TRULY saying yes to this?" That is the question.
In the first scenario - there is money stress, maybe relationship stress, lack of time and resources for self care and an overall just trying to keep up effort. Food becomes a filler for boredom, stress, fatigue, comfort, etc. In the second scenario - there is a big job that pays the bills which involves a lot of stress and long hours. In some cases work and relationships are fulfilling, in others they are not - but overall little time is left over for self care. In other words, Peter (Body/Mind) gets robbed to pay Paul (Finances.)
Do you see what I'm getting at here? To improve your body, you must look at your life. And you must move them forward together. It simply isn't possible to make progress toward a healthy body if you are stressed, unfulfilled or equally depleted in another area. I promise. Because those are the reasons why you eat. And because if another area takes more than 33%, what gives?
The question works both ways. If you are saying yes to everything else, you are saying no to your health. Have you been there... too exhausted to care what you eat for dinner, much less to follow through on your well-intended plans to get off the couch? Too stressed to want to make healthy choices? Too busy to take the time to get to the store to have healthy food in the house?
If you do that math, even giving just 10% more to the Mind/Finances areas of your life leaves only 14% for your body. Which is arbitrary math - but do you see the bigger point? We let daily life rob us from our ability to make progress toward a healthy body. And then we continue to bang our head against the wall counting calories or trying to exercise harder - totally frustrated. When in reality, while we are fixated on the scale, we fail to look at our life. It's like we take the little square picture, when what we need is the panoramic view.
So, if you want to be DONE playing small. DONE with that hamster wheel. Please let me know. Shoot me an email... connect on facebook... Decide how you are going to say yes to your health - and make it actually happen, versus something you hope to get to maybe, someday. It is one of my favorite conversations.
Trick or treat? This is not a trick question (pun intended.) When you get asked "Trick or Treat?" you say "Trick!" Not treat. Step one. DONE.
A couple weeks ago there was an article in the Star Tribune about holiday weight gain. When they talked "holiday" what they were referring to is not a holiday, but a three-month span of the year... October, November and December. I think Halloween kind of kicked off the season - the season of treats anyway - since I can't think of any other well-known holidays in October. I don't think Columbus Day threatens too many health resolutions. The article stated that in the United States, weight gained over the "holidays," on average takes until late April to erase. It also stated that October 1, is when as a whole we are at our lightest.
Think about that for a minute. Because of a few single days, we justify three months of unhealthy overindulgence. We start the tick up in October and ride the treat train through December. Then we work to erase the "damage" from January to April, only to repeat the pattern (aka. nonsense) again. The funniest quote of the whole article - because of its total obvious-yet-not-obvious-at-all-ness - was this: "Instead of trying to come up with a New Year's resolution to lose weight, it's a whole lot better to maybe have an October 1 resolution to gain less in the first place." Was there ever a more true statement? It gave me a good laugh.
Aside from giving me job security, it's a little crazy. Would you agree? Or does gaining weight from October to December, then losing weight from January to April, every year, sound reasonable to you?
So why not have an October 1 resolution to gain less? To bypass the detour. Why not start today? (Not after Halloween. Today.) Seriously. Stop and ask yourself this question. Then wait, and listen to all the reasons why you tell yourself this is not a good idea. Get a piece of paper even. List them all out. "But I like all that holiday food." "This is such a busy time of year. I just need to get through the holidays." "But there are so many holiday parties and other social things." " I don't have that kind of willpower." Then shut them down.
What if you had a friend who was in a work situation or relationship that was not in their best interest. It may have its good days, but year after year they seemed stuck in the same spot. Not real happy with it. Frustrated a lot of the time even. And it affected their mood. How they felt about themselves. Their energy. Their confidence. Their social life. Their health. Wouldn't you at some point start to say: "Have you thought about getting a new job? Have you thought about breaking up?" Because in the back of your mind, whether you have the courage to say it or not, you are thinking: "You don't have to be a victim here. You do have a choice. You can make a change." This plan, called the great American Holiday Health Hiatus is no different. The choice to go backward, then forward, then backward, then forward - or backward, then backward, then backward some more - affects people's health, energy, confidence, hope, social life, mood. I think it is important to see this. To recognize the pattern. To know you have a choice. That at any point - and so why not today - you can decide it is time to break up. Time to move on. Time to start a new chapter.
All those reasons you listed above for why January 1 is a better plan. (All the reasons why the job will improve although it hasn't in years. All the reasons why the significant other will change though they have not shown any evidence to support that fact.) Those reasons are just that voice in your mind trying to hold you back. The voice that worries about how you will socialize or fit in if you don't partake in traditional, unhealthy celebration. The voice that doesn't know how else to deal with stress. The voice that wants to protect you from failing one more time - already assuming that is the case.
That voice is not necessary right. It just likes the "known" of the job and the relationship and the life. Not those things themselves. It just likes to know what to expect. Even if what is at the end of that expectation is not really what you want. At least you know how it looks.
So - this year. Make a choice. And understand whichever path you choice. You chose it.
If you choose to indulge for the remainder of this "holiday" season, put on the traditional however many pounds, then spend January, February, March and April losing the same pounds over again, or not - just like you may choose to stay in a job or relationship - that is your choice. And if you choose to break that mold, and start today, and be healthy through December - and then make further headway in January, February, March and April... and so on - and be a healthy person, rather than a dieter - and gain more energy and hope and confidence and health - that is also your choice. There is no right choice. It is simply your choice. So - what are you going to choose? Trick or treat?
Happy Halloween. Enjoy. DONE playing small.
Last night I was at a group for women I like to go to every month in Shakopee called the Polka Dot Powerhouse. Among other things, each of us gets up for a minute or two and tells about what we love about our business, or maybe the types of connections we would like to make. I told a quick story about how at my favorite Restorative Yoga I go to on Tuesday night (8:00pm @ The Yoga Barre), last week as we were sitting on our mats at the beginning of class, in a circle, with the lights dim and the candles lit - the instructor, Tammy, invited each of us to go around the circle and share our high and our low for the day or week, whatever came to mind. I was sitting next to her at the end of the circle. As I listened to the six other women share their high and low, all but one had to do with work stress and work/life balance. As I sat there and listened, my heart went out, yet I was not surprised as this is a predominant theme from my clients. Not to mention most of my friends. (In case you were wondering - my low was about the election. Of course. My work is a high.)
So this is what I shared in the meeting. How - when I work with clients the conversation goes way past calories and carbs - as you may have guessed since, so does my blog - because it has to, or it is only cosmetic. The biggest barrier I see, is not a desire to be healthy, but how to find the time. How to put it first. (Hold that thought.)
Then, the speaker for the evening told a story about how, in a nutshell, she walked into a room full of peer business consultants who were assembling packets for a conference, and it was a total mess. There was no system. Which seems ironic, and she thought so too. She proceeded to help bring efficiency and order to the project until it ran smooth. Then afterward in her hotel room, her a-ha was to not dwell in frustration over the mess, but instead to realize creating systems was her gift. (Hence her 20-year background in retail work.) That the others had many other gifts, but her gift was order. And so her ability to create systems is what she shared that day. (Hold that thought.)
After the agenda wraps up, we end up staying around for a while to chat. I got talking to a friend of mine, Suzy Wigstadt, who is a sales coach. She had a handled mirror with her, with the purpose of having you say what you get to do to help others, while talking into the mirror. You were not able to look anywhere but into your own eyes while you talked - no looking up, around or even blinking too long. In other words, no thinking. Just speak from the gut. IT took me a few attempts.Each starting with: "I get to.. help women take back their lives.." And then I would talk on a bit about whatever came out. It surprisingly very effective at striping down all the rhetoric and getting to the core of what your purpose is really about. Laying in bed that night it got even more clear. "I get to... help women take back their power. Help women be strong, and confident. And create lives that mean something, to them. And have healthy bodies. And healthy lives. And raise strong, healthy, on purpose kids...." (You see my "low" issue for the week, right?)
Which brings me to today. I talk to my business coach, Melissa, on Friday mornings, and what had bubbled up for me was - a) my gift, or superpower and b) the first step for many people (I do not just work with women, but it is a passion, as I am one.) as they desperately want to create health, is to clear the chaos and create some calm, to be able to see how health as a priority is even possible.
I shared with her how, quite a number of years ago while networking, I remember a divorce attorney who would facilitate on Fridays, for up to four people each week, a mini-mastermind, problem solving group. Free of charge. With nothing to do with divorce or law. It was just something he did, because it was his thing.
So I decided a couple things: I know one of my gifts is to go from chaos to calm - and see all the steps in between. For example, when I was a business coach a number of years ago now - my favorite thing was to set aside the agenda for whatever the meeting was planned to be, pull out my unlined notebook and have a business owner brain dump every single thing spinning in their head, getting in the way of their ability to focus - and turn it into a plan. I just see the steps. The dominoes I call them. I do this for myself when I get overwhelmed. I can do it with a mess of a basement or garage, with a mess of anything really. I used to get frustrated with others for not being able to see the path, but now understand it is somewhat unique. And so - as I know there are many people out there - who would love to focus on their health, but cannot fathom being able to focus on it now - because of all the other pieces spinning in their heads... I want to offer something similar, starting next week. Because it's my thing. Here is a link to my calendar - to schedule a "Chaos2Calm" 30 minute call from 12:30-1:00pm on a Friday. There will be no back-door agenda.
The second thing I decided was to bring my "Make It Happen Monday" concept to Facebook. God help me. I am going to make peace with my fear of Facebook or die trying. :) Each Monday we are going to start a conversation about an intentional area of life. Meal planning, finances, purpose, ME time, etc. If you would like to be added to the group - please let me know. Just send me an email with the subject: "I'M IN" - and I will add you to the group, by next Friday. I plan to kick it off the following Monday, October 24.
Now that you know all about what's in my head... I would very much encourage you to try what seemed like a silly exercise. Hold that mirror up and say what you get to do. Or, ask yourself the question - what is my gift, or secret super power, and how do I share it? And move from frustration to appreciation.