Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving, rules or no rules?

As some of you know (if you read her blog) I am Foodstalking my friend Aidan this month. 
Aidan is doing really well (she may be sick of my suggestions but she hasn’t said so), sending me her food log each day but yesterday this question came “thoughts on tgiving dinner? Rules or no rules??!”

I don’t think it came as too much of a surprise to Aidan, who knows I wrote a book about nutrition and planning, that I not only replied “rules but reasonable ones” but also attached a “treaty” for her to complete and sign. Then, during a client session yesterday, another client asked “is this time of year a total nightmare for you?” It isn’t and I’ll tell you why. If we think about our choices over Thanksgiving we set the tone for a mindful (AKA weight gain free) holiday season. Before Thursday sort a few things out:

When will you workout?
I believe in moving (you don’t need a gym, “turkey burn” or a turkey trot but if you have access to these- go) on Thanksgiving you just need to do something for 30 minutes or more.  If you are traveling ALL day (or fessing up to blow dry preservation) and absolutely cannot then aim for Wednesday and Friday.  Holidays can be full of sitting so wear your Fitbits too.

Pick Favorites
I’m not a fan of “everything in moderation” because at Thanksgiving there is nothing moderate about a little of everything. Is your absolute favorite stuffing or pie (those seem to be the most beloved among our clients) have a small piece of pie or ¼ of your plate of stuffing. And it's only fair that while you’re picking your favorite treat, pick a couple things you can skip. Options include cheese, bread, potatoes…I say skip the items you can have any time of year.

Have an anchor (or 2)
We know that Thanksgiving can be a nutritional doozy (I recall estimates for “typical meals” in the 4,000 calorie vicinity) but don’t forget things you can do proactively. Whether it’s water drinking or filling ½ your plate with veggies or sending us your plate (via instagram or twitter @Foodtrainers #turkeytreaty) commit to something as your anchor behavior  ahead of time.

So yes, I am always in favor of rules though I think calling it a plan sounds a little better. Trust me, come Monday you’ll be thankful.

What workouts do you have planned over thanksgiving? If you were to “pick favorites” what’s your favorite treat? Any items on the “no” list? Will you send us a plate pic?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weight loss secrets in George Hamilton's closet

On Sunday, I was watching OWN (Oprah’s network) but not Super Soul Sunday (my fave), this time I was watching Where Are They Now. Oprah was interviewing George Hamilton…you remember him super tan, dapper, dated Elizabeth Taylor?At one point in the interview they showed footage of George’s closet.  My heart tends to skip a beat when things are lined up and organized perfectly but there was something else. George had multiples of the items that work. At seventy-something he knows he likes denim shirts when he’s dressing casually and white dress shirts on other days.  This reminded me of my gingerade kombuchas in the fridge or my son’s chia pods.
The next day I spotted this article on Facebook. It’s about men from Steve Jobs to President Obama and this same concept of wearing the same thing every day.  Obama said:
I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.
Granted-when it comes to clothes men can certainly get away with more of a uniform concept but I am intrigued about the food or diet equivalent of all this. While we don’t want to eat the same exact food each day, there is an ease to a certain degree of repetition. After all “what should I eat?” when we’re stressed or tired isn’t going to turn out as well as the person who automatically goes to the salad bar at lunch.  I know, after years of counseling, that for every person who loves rituals and repetition there is another person who would be bored to tears dressing or eating similarly.
I say use rituals as anchors. Maybe you eat the same one or two breakfasts or have green tea every day. Perhaps you get to work and always fill a water pitcher.  Oftentimes one positive step can lead to others and over time you don’t even think about it.
Are you a creature of habit with your diet or your wardrobe? Do you prefer repetition or variety? Why is George Hamilton so damn tan?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Do you have “the demon voice” as Amy Poehler calls it?

We have a questionnaire new clients complete before coming in. We ask all the basic, annoying questions name, address, height and age. Buried in the list is my favorite question, “on a scale of 1 to 10 how content are you with your physique?” The answer to this question has little to do with what you weigh (something we don’t ask) but it says a lot. It’s important to revisit that question as sessions progress because that number, despite progress, can be stubborn.
Last week, I had a client in my office. She’s incorporated all sorts of healthy foods into her day, her energy and mood swings are better but she told me about something that happened recently that concerned me. She saw some friends she hadn’t seen in a while. This is a somewhat competitive group of friends as she described them. Despite her improvements and weight loss she felt insecure in their company. In that moment on a scale of 1-10 she’d be lucky to give herself a 5.
For years with clients I’ve call these modes we have our angel and devil voices.
Our angel voice tells us “keep going you’re making progress", our angel voice says “you look great” and encourages us to stand tall and proud. There’s also the devil voice. This nasty voice says “who are you kidding you look like crap. I don’t care if you’re successful or evolved.” With food the devil voice can say, “you may as well have one you’re never going to stick to this plan, you never do.”
As I read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please this weekend I loved when she talked about the demon voice. “You are six or twelve or fifteen and you look in the mirror and you hear a voice so awful and mean that it takes your breath away.” It tells you that you are fat and ugly. The voice that talks badly to you is a demon voice. And the scary part is the demon is your voice.
One of the surprising thing about getting a little older, out of your teens and twenties (and thirties in my and Amy’s case) is that the demon voice still makes appearances. As she says
“If you are lucky, you can live a life where the demon is generally forgotten, relegated to a back shelf in your closet next to your old field hockey equipment. You may have days or years when you think the demon is gone. But it is not. It is sitting very quietly waiting for you. This motherfucker is patient.”
So what do you do? What do you do if “you should know better” and are still listening to this demon? With my client who continued to listen to this devil/demon despite numerous positive changes, I knew we had to give the angel voice more clout. Every day I suggested she note (via email to me) when she had a demonic thought (sounds so evil) and how she could counter the thought. Also, daily she was to find something about her body she felt genuinely good about. Just as your make an effort to eat a healthy breakfast, you need to make an effort to silence this sabotaging sentiment.
When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad shit about me I turn around and say “Hey. Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don’t talk about her like that.” Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.

Even demons gotta sleep.
Do you have a demon voice? Is it quieter as you get older? When does it pop up? What do you do? Have you read this book?
*The winner of Slim by Design is The Spicy RD, we will be in touch to arrange your delivery copy. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

You must read Slim By Design & Giveaway

Whenever I am asked food or nutrition books I recommend, Mindless Eating tops my list. So when I learned that Brian Wansink has a second book out, called Slim by Design I couldn’t wait to read it. That’s actually an understatement, I felt like a groupie who had to get their hands on that brand new album. The premise of this book and much of Wansink’s research is that our environment (think kitchens, offices etc.) influences the way we eat. From the opening lines of the book “becoming slim by design works better than trying to become slim by willpower. It’s easier to change your eating environment that to change your mind.” And the book is a page-turner (what, you don’t think that’s possible with a book about eating?) there’s humor and anecdotes, my family was making fun of me because I couldn’t put it down.

Some of my favorite lessons were:
  • In buffet situations slim dinners scan all the options first, seat themselves as far away from the food as possible and do not face toward the food. Think about this the next time you’re in a cafeteria, food court or holiday (ahem) situation
  • It’s probably not ideal to change too many things about your eating at once.  People most successful losing weight focused on a couple of changes but followed through on these at least 25 days a month. 

  • Clear counter clutter, all food, except for fruit, should live behind closed doors. The most dangerous counter food? Cold cereal (which is also an LBT break up food).  If you haven’t broken up, you should know that women who have cold cereal visible in their kitchens weight 21 pounds more than those who do not.
  • As far as the dinner table the only serving bowl that should strategically stay on the table is the salad bowl. The others should stay on the stove or counter top so access isn’t as easy.
  • Wansink explains that the size of your dinner plates influence what you eat. The ideal size is 9 to 10 inches (or less). My son and I took a ruler to our plate, 11 inches. That night, we used salad plates for dinner. We had Indian food (my son who measured the plates joked that with a small plate he had much more of a mess) but I noticed there was more food left over.
  • When you’re at the supermarket try the “half-cart” rule. Put your purse or jacket at the midline of the cart. One half of the cart should be produce and the other can be dry goods. And another trick, chewing gum short circuits cravings because we can’t imagine the “sensory details of crunchy chips or creamy ice cream.” I’m not a gum fan, wondering if a mint will work as well or if it’s the chewing action?
There are sections on cafeteria eating that I felt applied more to organizations than individuals but I could list a couple dozen other tips I jotted down while reading.
And the best news? Slim by Design has a signed copy of the book for one lucky reader.
To be eligible for the giveaway, by Sunday 11/16
Comment below
Tweet @Foodtrainers has a @slimbydesign #giveaway http://foodtrainers.blogspot.com/2014/11/you-must-read-slim-by-design-and.html

What are your favorite nutrition books? Are you familiar with Mindless eating? Anything except for fruit on your countertop?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Madonna Badger and Organic Food

Do you remember the Madonna Badger story? She’s the woman who lost her three young children and her parents in a house fire on Christmas 2011. Just typing that sentence left a pit in my stomach. I cannot or do not want to even contemplate loss and grief on that level. I listened to a recent interview she did and a couple of things stuck with me. I have a great book I was planning on sharing today but that can wait.

Madonna talked about her pain. She was in the hospital for a while following the fire but eventually she was faced with the daunting process of continuing to live. She talked about numbing out and said she couldn’t shoot heroin or drink to numb the pain. She had to feel the pain. She had to feel the pain in order to heal and she had to accept that this pain wasn’t going to go away. How many of us numb out with drinks or food or just going and doing nonstop in order to avoid something? Maybe, as Madonna said, the avoidance is even more difficult than the feelings.

Toward the end of the interview Madonna was reflective. She said she wished she knew then what she knows now. I’m paraphrasing but she said organic food doesn’t matter. She repeated saying sure it’s good but the deadline at work or getting kids into great schools or eating organic doesn’t really matter. I knew what she meant and I felt her words. All of the details we consume ourselves with are luxuries. We think about organic or weight because things are moving along in that semi predictable way everyday life does. However, are we doing the things that are even more important? Are we listening to what our children or parents say? Are we feeling what we need to feel and showing up to the celebrations or lessons and really being there?

This resonated with me as I put my kids to bed. The extra minutes they were up past bedtime seemed sort of meaningless. I will sit with them for breakfast this morning versus rushing around the kitchen and yes it will be an organic breakfast.
Did you recall the Madonna Badger story? Do you tend to "numb out"? Is it possible to stay connected to those truly important things? Can we care about the little details and still be present, honest etc?