Disordered Eating & Bad Habits

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As much as we would like to think maintaining a healthy diet is simple, we would be lying to ourselves.

My own fitness journey has been filled with ups and downs. There are times when I would feel my discipline slipping and I would begin to binge eat or “ate my emotions”. I was stuck in a cycle of punishing workouts, stress, binge eating, and inevitable weight gain. Something I now see as yo-yo dieting.

Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. Most men and women have more emotional attachment to food then we realize. This is what I call disordered eating. This is something I believe goes beyond medically diagnosed eating disorders, but emotional eating is just as detrimental and harder to diagnose.

How to Identify

Perhaps the largest challenge is recognizing the signs of emotional eating. For me, I begin to think about food when I am bored or inactive. At darker times in my life I found myself ALWAYS thinking about food. I also had certain friends or work colleagues that would encourage unwanted snacking. Often times, it was so subtle I never realized how many extra calories I was eating.

Now you may say, “Well that is why I track what I eat.” This is true. Tracking is a great way for you to see just how much you’re eating in a day, but for me, tracking was stressful. It made me obsessive and gave rise to more unhealthy obsessions. If I went over my calorie goal, or ate something I wasn’t supposed to, I was riddled with shame and guilt.

There were other times I wouldn’t enter a food item in my journal, because I didn’t think the extra scoop of peanut butter was worth noting. I had a terrible habit of mindlessly eating. I would get home from work, eat dinner, go to the gym, clean, and then eat before I went to bed… even when I wasn’t hungry.

How to Heal

Recognizing and combating emotional eating habits is not an easy task. It takes time, attention, and dedication, however, it is an amazing opportunity for you to get in tune with your body!

I was able to come to terms with my issues when I stopped feeling shame and guilt. I began to be honest with myself. I stopped justifying eating that treat or that additional handful of nuts. How did I do this? I began to practice intuitive eating. This simply means I ate when I was hungry and didn’t eat when I wasn’t. This sounds simple enough, but it’s harder than it seems.

Intuitive eating requires you to listen to your body and identify your hunger cues. When I wanted food, I really had to sit down and think, “Am I really hungry? Am I bored? Am I stressed?” By making the effort to mentally identify why I wanted food, I was able to allow myself freedom. If I realized I wanted food because of an emotional trigger, I would get up and find something else to occupy my mind.

This is not an easy process. It’s something I still have to work on every single day. However, I refuse to be a slave to food any longer. I refuse to let my emotions get the better of me. I want my relationship with food and my body to be a positive one. An eating disorder is no small thing. It’s a serious issue affecting too many men and women.

By reminding our bodies how to eat intuitively, we can break the chains surrounding our relationship with food. We can learn to appreciate food as fuel, find other passions, and more ways to enjoy life.

The Power of Daily Gratitude

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A few years ago I was invited to attend a humanitarian meeting to prepare for an upcoming trip overseas. It was a Saturday. I rolled out of bed much earlier than I would have liked to, got ready for the day, ate breakfast, jumped in my car, and drove the 45 minutes to the meeting location. The morning was not particularly “bad”, or particularly “good”, for that matter. I simply went about doing what needed to be done.

When I arrived on site I took my seat in a circle of strangers. I have always considered myself a social person, and was satisfied with my effort to chit-chat with the person next me. For the most part, however, each member sitting in the circle was silent and avoiding any certain eye contact.

The meeting began and the facilitator explained we would start with a gratitude circle. We would go around the circle, and, one by one, say, “I am grateful for…” and then simply state, in a word or three, something we were grateful for. Easy. I felt comfortable with the idea due to keeping a robust gratitude journal at various times in my life.

There were a few rules to the exercise.

#1 No one can “steal” what you are grateful for. If I were to say, “I am grateful for my family” and the person after me were to say the very same thing, it was ok. We are both allowed to be grateful for our family and to feel that gratitude at the very same time. Logical.

#2 Be present. Do your best to listen to your friends (aka the other people in the room). Try not to worry about or premeditated what you are going to say next. Yikes! This one might be a little harder. Simply say the first thing that comes to mind when it is your turn.

#3 Pay attention to what gets your attention. How do you feel? What are you observing?

We began… “I am grateful to be alive.” “I am grateful for my family.” “I am grateful for sunshine.” “I am grateful for cookie dough.” “I am grateful for my health.” “I am grateful for a home.” “ I am grateful for God.” “I am grateful for music.” We continued to go around and around. As time passed, I stopped worrying so much about what I was going to say and started really listening. I found myself thinking, “Ooo, I like that one!” or “Oh, me too! Me too! Me too!” I also began to smile and I didn’t even know why.

The exercise concluded and the facilitator asked, “What did you notice? What did you observe? How do you feel?”

I was dumbfounded. I felt great! My heart was open. I felt connected to people who were strangers to me just moments before. I was still smiling. The simple act of expressing gratitude had changed me. Others in the group felt the same. Their comments and reaction were similar. There was something here!

I have continued to experience the life changing power of gratitude and am more convinced than ever of its ability to open my heart and allow me to feel peace. I see how it changes others and I LOVE the change I see in the world because of it.

Oprah Winfrey said, “The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.”

The Dalai Lama said, “Every day, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow...Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I invite you to start practicing. Here are a few things you can do to manifest gratitude in your life:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and list 3-5 things you are grateful for every day.

  • Be intentional about saying, “Thank you!” as often as you can to those around you.

  • Express gratitude to your higher power (God, the universe, your higher-self) for the blessings in your life.

  • When a positive thought comes to mind share it out loud. When you notice someone being nice or something beautiful in nature, point it out to those around you.

  • Observe, without judgement, times in the day when you think negatively, complain about your circumstances, or talk down about someone else. Practice reversing the action or the thought in the moment it happens.

  • Write a thank you letter! It could be for anything. Thank a neighbor for helping watch your kids while you ran an errand, thank a teacher for the impact they have had on your life, thank one of your children for being helpful around the house.

  • Express gratitude at meal times, quietly to yourself or with others who feel comfortable participating.

  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and write down all the things you love and appreciate about your partner.

  • Now, do the same for yourself. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write down all the things you love and appreciate about YOU. This could be potentially difficult for some of you. Stick to the time and do not stop until the timer runs out.

Returning to Love

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THE QUESTION

With the recent launch of DelectableLiving.com (DL) I have been getting many questions about my new venture. How long have you been working on this? Where did the idea come from? What kinds of topics will you be covering? Who are the people you are trying to reach? What are you trying accomplish? When did you know this was something you wanted to do? And many, many more.

Most of the questions are due to the fact I simply kept the whole project fairly quiet. It was not a secret, by any means, but something that has been growing and developing in my soul for quite some time. With the process of DL’s creation I slowly introduced my vision to one human at a time, and, usually, to those who played a role in its miraculous unfolding.

One question I have heard from my most logic and practically minded friends and family members is, “What makes you different from every other site?” An insightful question to which I simply smile, take a deep, and say, “It is not what makes us different that is important to me, it is what makes us the same.”

Of course, my answer does not scratch their itch to understand how I am going to stand out in a market FULL of health, wellness, and fitness influencers. And, well, that is ok.

THE ANSWER

You see, like the great spiritual leader and author, Marianne Williamson, I have come to know,

“No matter what the problem, the solution is love. There is but one problem and one solution. All problems are a deviation from Love, and all solutions are a return to it.” (A Return to Love)

If I had it my kumbaya-loving way every outlet would be preaching and teaching LOVE.

Humanitarian and spiritual leader Kathy Headlee says, “Love heals, unites, enlightens. Love works and it’s the only thing that does.” I agree and seek to understand this better and better each day.

So as I begin this new journey with a community of individuals who desire to empower their minds, nourish their bodies, and move toward truly DelectableLiving, I do it starting with the very thing that every human desires at their core… LOVE.

THE POWER OF LOVE

Love connects age, gender, sexual orientation, race, culture, religion, ethnicity, income, social class, lifestyle, opinion, size, shape, and education.

It is love and compassion for self and for others that allows us to make real change; the kind of change that sticks, the kinds of change that transforms, the kind of change that brings peace.

People will say, “Isn’t it prideful and selfish to love yourself?” Well, I say, “Who are you?” and “What attachments do you have to those words?” Some will say, “Who are you to offer yourself compassion?” I say, “What limiting beliefs do you carry that prevent you from offering compassion to yourself and others?”

Author, Joel Osteen, of The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today said,

"You are God’s most prized possession. Don’t go around feeling wrong about yourself. Quit wishing you were taller, or had a better personality, or looked like somebody else. You’ve been painted by the most incredible painter there could ever be. When God created you, He stepped back, and stamped His approval on you. Somewhere on you, there’s a tag that states, “Made by Almighty God. So put your shoulders back and hold your head up high. You are extremely valuable. When those thoughts come telling you everything that you’re not, remind yourself, 'I have the fingerprints of God all over me—the way I look, the way I smile, my gifts, my personality. I know I am not average. I am a masterpiece.' Those are the thoughts that should be playing in your mind all day long."

I have no problem loving myself, because, for me, I am simply appreciating and respecting the craftsmanship of my Creator. He made me with all THE STUFF I need to cultivate, develop, and express everything that is good in this world. It is already inside me. The credit is not mine, it is His! It can not be selfishness, it cannot be conceded, when the honor is pointed to something far bigger than me.

Now there are times when I do not cultivate, develop, or express from a place of love, and, perhaps, those are the very moments when I need love and self-compassion the most. When I am acting in fear or out of my pain, it is not shame, blame, and guilt that will get me to where I want to be, it is love, compassion, and peace.  

WHO WE ARE

When I look at a brand new little baby laying in their crib or nestled in their mothers arms, I do not say, “You have done nothing in this world. You have not accomplished a single thing. All you have done is laid there, pooped, ate, slept, and cried. You are worthless. You do not deserve love. You are not good enough.” I would NEVER say that. Neither would you. Most of us know that a human life, a little baby, is precious and priceless.

Yet! Many of us have come to believe (a false belief I might add) our worth is based on external factors… how we look, what we accomplish, who we associate with, how much money we have, what types of things we own, where we live, and so on.

Our worth is not negotiable. There is nothing we ‘can do’ or ‘fail to do’ to change our worth. Our worth is not based on doing, our worth simple is what it is. Our worth is based on WHO WE ARE and that CANNOT change no matter how much you will it otherwise.

HOW THIS KNOWLEDGE TRANSFORMS US

I learned for myself that when I seek to change my body or my mind out of shame, blame, or guilt, from a place of “I am not enough”, from a place or forgetting who I am, my determination and my will power fail me.

When I love and honor who I am, the masterpiece my creator has made, I naturally desire to do those things that most benefit me, that serve my soul, and the change comes naturally.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

As I seek to encourage others to allow their mind, body, and heart to come together to serve them through a variety of experiences and tools, I do it from a foundation of love.

5 Ways to Show Self-Love

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I have become a HUGE advocate of mental and emotional health. The effect stress has on our bodies is mind boggling! I don’t just mean mental stress either, I’m talking about any kind of stress our body endures. It could be a bad day at work, frustrations with our weight, or family/relationship issues. It could also be the food we are eating that puts internal stress on our bodies, or, simply, a lack of sleep. There are TONS of reasons our bodies experience stress.

As I’ve been embarking on my own journey to better my health, I have dedicated myself to taking care of my stress levels by showing myself some much-needed self-love at least twice a day. Here are just a few things I do to manage a life full of demands:

1. Words of Affirmation

Each morning during my routine, I am always sure to take some time to look myself in the mirror and give myself a compliment, or just say something positive to myself.

“You’re going to have an amazing day!” 

“Dang girl, you got it going on!” 

“Remember how far you’ve come, you’re a total bad ass! You got this!”

When I first started doing this, I felt a little silly, and I didn’t really believe myself. Until one day, after making a conscious, and consistent, effort, I noticed how much I needed to hear those words every morning. I just felt better!

We spend so much time tearing ourselves down. My mom always told me I was my harshest critic and she’s completely right. Negative self-talk never did anyone any good! Be kind to yourself, embrace your imperfections, and realize the endless potential you have. You wouldn’t say those kinds of nasty things to your best friend, so don’t say them to yourself!

2. Treat Yo’ Self

Each month, I find something I want to do just for me! I’ll take myself to a movie on $5 Tuesday, take myself to sushi (keto approved, of course), go on a hike, get a massage, or I’ll even let myself have a planned cheat meal.

I think this is crucial.

It’s so important you take some time to reward yourself and disconnect from all the hustle and bustle around you. I have become very comfortable enjoying some alone time. I don’t get on social media, and I just enjoy myself and my thoughts.

I know it seems silly, but I challenge you to try it. I think you will be surprised by how much you come to like it. Find something you enjoy doing alone, and embrace the time to evaluate where you are in your own space.

3. Social Media Fast

I love social media. I know I’m addicted to it. I love it so much I’ve made a career out of it. BUT! It does not mean I don’t need to take a break every once and awhile. Actually, I think it’s vital I take the occasional time away from my personal accounts.

I feel like I’m always reading a new article about how excessive use can cause depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, etc. Honestly, I believe it. We’ve seen insane spikes in depression and anxiety in teenagers over the past few years, and I think some of it can be attributed to heavy social media usage.

That being said, I make a conscious effort to turn off my notifications and abstain from getting on any of my personal social media profiles for four consecutive days each month! I know it may seem a little extreme, but my goal is to eventually get to a seven day fast!

If you don’t think you can do it, I would start small. Take one day a month where you don’t even touch your Instagram account. I know you can do it! I’ve seen a huge difference in the usage of my time when I am “fasting”. I find myself doing more productive things to fill my time.

4. Get Moving

I doesn’t really matter what your relationship is with the gym, I want you to find some way to move your body in a way that brings you joy. Go for a walk, get out in the garden, play fetch with your dog, ride your bike, ANYTHING. Get out and get moving three days out of your week. I promise your body will thank you and so will your mind.

One of my favorite things to do when I’ve had a bad day is to go outside, walk along the trail behind my house, and listen to some great music. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but physical activity doesn’t have to be painful! Find something you enjoy and use it to detox.

5. Give Back

This last one is interesting. I have found by giving and serving others in my community, I have a greater love and appreciation for myself as well. Doing service for another person makes me feel SO GOOD! Sometimes it is even as simple as purchasing the coffee of the person behind me in the line at Starbucks.

Knowing I did something to brighten someone else’s day brings me joy. If you want to go serve at a local food kitchen or attend a community service event, go for it! My point is…giving to others doesn’t have to be a giant commitment. As great as it is to evaluate where you are in your own head space, it’s also important you don’t forget about the people around you. It is about balance, yin and yang. Only by striving to achieve balance in these two areas, will we find a true love and appreciation for ourselves.

These are things I do for myself. I can tell you I’ve seen a HUGE difference. I sleep better and I wake up happy, ready to start my day. I feel motivated, I feel sociable, I laugh more, my confidence has exploded, and I now believe myself when I say things like “I am amazing!”, “I am beautiful!”, and “I can do this!”

I hope you will be able to try these things and find a way to show yourself some much-needed love. What do you do that makes you feel loved? I’d love to hear from you!