Archive for the ‘Perspective’ Category

The Self-Compassion Diet

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Self-CompassionA while back, a friend sent me an article she thought I might be interested in. It still stands out in my mind.

It was from the New York Times, in the Health section, written by Tara Parker-Pope, entitled Go Easy on Yourself, A New Wave of Research Urges”.

The article talked about self-compassion as a critical ingredient needed for happiness, self-esteem, easy weight loss, and just about everything we all wish for in our vision of a good life.

It cites research from the recently released book, The Self-Compassion Diet, by Jean Fain.

So, what is self-compassion?

Well, you know the old Golden Rule? Always treats others as you want to be treated yourself.

This is a modification of that rule: Always treat yourself as well as you treat others.

It may be, for many of us, the missing ingredient in getting ourselves to reach our goals.

As I read through the article and the many comments it sparked, I noticed how many people felt that self-compassion was something we had enough of. Time to toughen up and do what you need to do.

But others disagreed.

One of the comments on this article was from a woman who said: “No one in the world hates me more than I hate myself”.

So let me ask you: If you make a mistake, do you berate yourself before moving on and correcting the mistake?

Are you afraid you’ll be a worse mother, a heavier woman, a less efficient worker if you are nice to yourself?

What is self-compassion?

  • It’s seeing yourself without judgment, without disappointment or disapproval.
  • It’s seeing your true self with clarity and honesty, and still feeling love for yourself.
  • It’s being able to accept flaws in yourself without condemning.

If self-compassion feels so good, why even debate it?

Why don’t we all have busloads of self-compassion all the time?

It’s because we fear that if we aren’t harsh and critical, we’ll just go off the deep end.

Become a total sloth.

Be unproductive.

Gain 50 pounds.

Lose all our motivation.

But here’s the deal: Being compassionate toward yourself is not the same as feeling sorry for yourself. Feeling sorry for yourself keeps you stuck. Feeling compassion is like putting a cozy blanket of comfort around you, and saying, ‘You’re ok’.

It doesn’t hold us back from our best work, or from our best self, or from our best habits.

It fills our cups, letting us move forward.

It’s always easier and feels better when we move from a place of love, and understanding.

Comforted.

Full.

Not needing to fill ourselves up with things that don’t quite do the trick.

Like brownies, when you’re lonely.

And chips when you’re overwhelmed.

So, what’s the trick to feeling self-compassion?

  • When something goes wrong, pretend that your most beloved friend was responsible, instead of you. How would you talk to her?
  • When you are doing something that isn’t in your best interests, rise above the scene. Look down at yourself on the ground. And remind yourself of your big game plan.
  • When things aren’t perfect, remind yourself that you’re not alone. We’re all human, we’re all in this together, and we certainly all screw up. So there.

Self-compassion.

Sounds good to me.

Thin Is Not Your Goal

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Thin is not your goalIf you’re anything like my clients, you probably think you’re too fat. You think you need to lose weight.

Wow, that sounds harsh, even as I type these words.

But the truth is that in our country, at any given time, almost half the adult female population wants to lose weight.

That’s hard to imagine. So many of us are not happy with how we look, how we feel, how we are in this world.

And we think we need to be thin.

Well, being thin is not a good goal. It has nothing to do with your body, your shape and who you were meant to be in the world.

Most of us aren’t physically capable of being ‘thin’. But we hold up pictures of very skinny models as an image of what we aspire to.

Sounds like a recipe for failure. And not only failure.

Sounds like a recipe for unhappiness.

Because if we don’t take into account who we are, how our genetics play out in our lives, and what we are physically capable of, that image of ‘thin’ will always be like the carrot on the stick in front of the horse.

We never get there.

So, what do we do?

Well, if you think you have extra weight on your body that’s slowing you down, that’s increasing your risk of weight-related disease, and that’s messing with your self-image, it’s time to do something about it.

But know that your self-image can be good regardless of what the number on the scale says. It’s all about how much you love yourself. And the more you love yourself, the better you’re feeding yourself, and taking care of yourself.

Part of the quest for thin comes from comparing ourselves to others. And very likely, comparing ourselves to media images and cultural icons (think: movie star!)

This comparison habit brings us one thing, and it’s not ‘thin’… it’s pain.

The only person we should be comparing ourselves to is us. And even that is dicey. Because comparing yourself to you of ten years ago is fruitless. You’re not the same person you were, and your body is not usually capable of what it was ten years ago.

The key is to think ‘what’s my personal best?’

What’s the right weight for my body, this body, this frame, and these genetics?

What weight will make me healthier, and give me more energy, and allow me to move around easier?

It’s not ‘thin’.

Thin is a place you never get to.

Do yourself a favor.

Be healthier. Eat from hunger. Eat good stuff.

Make those your goals.

Not thin.

How Do You Tell Your Story?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

my story concept on small blackboard

As a coach who specializes in helping women put an end to emotional eating, I’ve heard a lot of stories:

  • I’ve been overeating because this was a hard year for me; my husband lost his job.
  • My kids were sick a lot and I couldn’t stay away from sweets.
  • I didn’t connect with the man of my dreams this year, so I became really close with my friends, Ben and Jerry.

And on, and on…..

No one said life was easy.

In fact, my colleague Linda Spangle wrote a book called “Life is Hard, Food is Easy”.

But the way most of us look at things is that life is hard, and food is hard, too.

The fact is that even for the most blessed person, life gives us curve balls.

That’s true for everyone.

But it’s what we focus on and how we tell our story that colors our world. It even determines our weight.

It’s pretty common knowledge that whatever we focus on is what we get more of.

So, if we focus on this year’s difficulties, we’ll go through life with heaviness in our hearts.

If we focus on how hard it is to lose weight, and keep it off, and all the REALLY strong excuses we have, I can guarantee you that it will be hard.  For sure.

And if you tell yourself that when things get tough, you need sugar, or bread, or ice cream, when you aren’t even hungry, then you’re setting things up so that you will automatically strengthen those habits.

So, what’s the answer?

If you overeat when life seems hard, and you tell yourself that life is always hard, what can you do?

Here goes:

You focus on the bright spots.

  • What are you doing well, in any area of your life?
  • What nice things has someone done for you recently?
  • What can you be grateful for?
  • What tiny bits of good fortune did come your way?

And here’s a bonus question I love: What are you doing that has prevented you from weighing 20 pounds more than you do? (Hint: you are doing SOME things right.)

Look at this past year and name these bright spots.

Think about them. Focus on them.

And now focus on your eating with these thoughts in mind.

Create your new story.

There are things you do well.

There are things that are going your way.

There are things you can be grateful for.

Suddenly, your new story will feel good and natural and you will start getting different results.

And finally, remember this: if anyone can learn to eat from hunger, instead of from emotions, and can stop when they aren’t hungry anymore, then you can too.

Who’s Your Role Model?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

role modelI recently saw an ad for the drug Singulair. The tag line caught my eye. It said, “Someone who’s got what you’ve got is out doing what you’re not.” The model in the ad was exercising. The ad was for a drug for treating asthma.

But it made me think.

Every week, my clients and I set ‘weekly intentions’. These are things they want to focus on for the week. Things they want to achieve.

Sometimes they do.

  • They take that walk.
  • They wait to be hungry to eat.
  • They say what they feel instead of stuffing down that brownie.

But sometimes, they are full of reasons why they didn’t make it happen. Why they didn’t do what will give them what they really want.

Yet, for every reason (or excuse) they come up with, there is someone out there who is doing what my clients WANT to do.

Someone who is saying no.

Someone who is making herself a priority.

Someone who is planning ahead.

So, how can you get yourself to do what you know you want to do?

First, find a good role model.

Not the friend you can call who will bring over burgers and fries when things don’t go as planned.

Not the co-worker who needs to take a day off when anyone criticizes her work.

Pick someone who is doing what you WANT to be doing.

Study them.

Be aware: this is different from picking a celebrity and wanting to have her face or body.

This is picking a regular, everyday person, who lives a life similar to you, but who somehow manages to do what you don’t.

Because if anyone can do what you are trying to do, then you can too.

Absolutely.

So stop looking at people who are struggling.

Look at people who are just a few steps ahead of you.

You can do this.

Why You Need To Learn To Motivate Yourself

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015


Motivate yourself

When my private clients have a consultation with me, and decide to work with me on their weight and eating issues, there’s one thing they all want.

They want and expect me to motivate them.

I smile to myself when I hear this. Because I know that no one can motivate another person. Motivation is an inside job. One that only you can do for yourself.

Someone can hold you accountable for your goals. And they can cheerlead for you. But no one can light the spark of excitement that makes you WANT to do something.

That has to come from you. From knowing what you want. And why you want it. And wanting it more than you want almost anything else. Well, maybe not more than world peace. But most everything else.

And once you know all those things, and are really clear, then you need to find a way to pay attention to what you want. Every day. Yes! Every day you need to place your attention on what you want and how you’ll go about getting it.

You can get support. You can learn new things that will aid your quest of your goal. And there are tons of tools I give my clients.

But like most of life, it’s you, baby. It’s you who needs to get and stay excited.

How do you motivate yourself?

The 4 Worst Words You Can Say When You’ve Had An Eating Slip

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

 

eating slipWe’ve all been there. We make a commitment. We plan what we’ll do, how we’ll eat, and even exactly what we’ll eat. And then, we slip.

Oh well, it’s not such a big deal, right? We’ve slipped before, in fact, we’ve all had an eating slip before.

But it’s what we do AFTER the slip that has the most impact on our results.

Do we lose weight? Do we gain weight? Or do we beat ourselves up and keep starting over again?

For many of us, it’s choice number three. We slip, and then we say, Oh well! I’ve already blown it. I may as well keep going.

And so we eat ourselves into a fast ride down a slippery slope.

In doing this, we quickly undo any progress we may have made, and send ourselves into the detention hall of dieting, where we sit and contemplate what a failure we are.

And how we’ll never get this right.

So, next time you have an eating slip, and trust me, you will definitely have a slip, here are some other words you might try on for size:

  • Oh well, I wonder why I ate that?
  • Hmmm, what’s going on for me?
  • Interesting! Let me think about how I’d do that next time.

Get it? Thinking any one of these things instead of ‘I’ve already blown it’ can take you down a much better path. A path where you have a good shot at making progress on the way to your goal.

Try one of them and see if you get a much softer feeling.

And that softer feeling, my friend, will let you absorb your slip and keep moving. And that is truly your goal.

How to Handle the Worst Day of Your Life

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Worst Day of Your LifeRecently my daughter called me. I could hear the pain and frustration in her voice, as she told me she had the worst day of her life.

She had a series of mishaps and frustrations, one after the other.

And indeed, in her mind, it was a worst day scenario.

Everything that could have gone wrong, did.

And everything piled up, making a bunch of medium-sized challenges feel like huge mountains.

So here’s what I told her.

All problems pass.

And it’s true. That is my belief.

I knew from experience that in the moment, she may not have been able to see through the cloudiness of her thoughts about her day.

But in the morning, the sky would be clear again. And all would seem more fixable.

Does that mean what felt like problems weren’t problems at all? Not necessarily.

But sometimes there isn’t anything to do but stand back, notice how your mind is multiplying the pain, and if there isn’t some action you need to take right now, or some decision you need to make right now, then the best thing to do is to wait.

Take a break. Give yourself some loving self-care. And know that tomorrow, you will find solutions. And many times, that won’t even be necessary.

Because many things just resolve themselves with the passage of time.

Think of any problem you faced recently.

Remember your pain and angst while you were in the middle of it, trying to figure out a solution. Often, in the heat of the moment, there isn’t an evident solution.

But time is known to give us the gift of perspective. We can wake up and see things through a fresh lens.

And so it goes.

When I think of the old saying, ‘This too shall pass’, boy, is it ever true!

Are You Looking for Evidence That You’ll Fail?

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

failWhenever you set a goal, of course, you want to have some degree of confidence that you can make it and not fail.

That you can get to that finish line and end triumphantly.

When you do have that confident feeling, it actually helps you reach your goal. It also feels better along the way. All good things join together to help you get there in a good-feeling way.

But. That’s just not how it happens for most of us.

We set our goals, whether they are to lose weight, feel differently, or do things that we’re not doing now.

And as soon as we set our goal, our mind starts to sabotage us.

How?

By looking around for evidence that you CAN do this.

Sounds good, right?

But if ‘this’ is something you’ve never done, and your innocent brain is prowling around searching for proof that you can, guess what?

It will come up empty-handed.

Nothing.

No evidence that you can do this thing because you haven’t done it before.

No doubt, in most cases, you’ve tried.

But so far, you haven’t actually succeeded.

So if your mind can’t find that evidence that all will go well on the road to your goal, then it’s really hard to create a strong positive belief that you can do this.

What happens next is that you begin to feel the pain of defeat… before you’ve even started!

So you do a half-assed effort and fail. Or get a half-assed result.

And I can just hear you now, saying to yourself:

See! I knew I couldn’t do it!”

Voila! And now you have just created evidence that you CAN’T do this thing, reach this goal, climb this mountain.

And next time will be even harder.

But you, clever girl that you are, haven’t given up.

You still want to do ‘it’… reach that goal, lose that weight, change those habits.

The Fail Challenge

So how can you approach this challenge differently next time? So your mind won’t go shopping for the wrong kind of evidence?

Here’s the secret.

You don’t have to have reached your goal in the past to reach it now.

You don’t need proof of your accomplishment to motivate yourself toward something that you really want.

When your mind says: You’ve never done this before. You’ve failed before. You probably can’t do this now, then you need to answer swiftly and strongly, and say to yourself:

If anyone has ever done this before, then I can too.

Even if I’ve never done it, if anyone else can, I can too.

Hold onto that thought.

Because it’s true.

It’s real.

And it will help you leap over your gap of disbelief.

Do You Compare Yourself to Everyone Around You?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

compare yourselfWhen you want to lose weight, one of the very first things you should do is take an honest peek at what went wrong in the past.

You know, all those past efforts at weight loss.

All those times it hasn’t worked.

And one of the things you might want to take a look at, as one of the possible reasons for your past failures, is that you may spend too much time comparing yourself to others.

Let’s face it.

We all compare ourselves to someone.

Some of us do it on a very regular basis.

And others do it as a once in a while check-in.

While it’s a natural thing, I want you to know that it isn’t necessarily the most helpful thing you can do for yourself.

Here’s why.

We all look around us to see how we measure up from time to time.

This is a way of looking outside for validation, when ideally, we should be looking inside.

We may do this because we don’t totally trust ourselves.

We think others know better.

Facebook is a perfect example.

We look around at how others eat.

With people posting their latest diet and actual pictures of what they’re cooking, it’s hard not to!

We look at how much our friends weigh.

So many people are posting before and after pictures of their weight loss efforts.

Of course, we look at everyone’s photos: How do they look? How old are they? Do they look their age? How do they dress?

The comparisons become endless.

We begin to judge ourselves not by how we feel, but by how we feel in comparison to how others appear to feel.

Of course we don’t really know how they feel, how they are doing.

We only know what they reveal on the outside.

A vehicle like Facebook, which is designed to help us connect, can easily turn into something that keeps us separate.

Because if we are comparing, most of us come out lacking.

And if we’re feeling not quite as good as the rest of the world out there, then we don’t want to connect.

We shrink.

And we doubt ourselves even more.

We feel less connected to the world, because we feel worse about ourselves.

So here’s the takeaway:

Our goal, whether trying to lose weight or just live a happy life, is to simply be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

There is no competition.

Except for our personal best.

As we go through life, we meet all kinds of people.

I can guarantee that there will always be someone younger, smarter, thinner and prettier than you.

And that’s okay.

Because as people, we are supposed to be different.

Our goal is not to be better than someone else.

Just to be our best.

So if you are looking around and constantly comparing yourself, put yourself on pause and ask whether this habit is helpful or harmful.

I’m giving you a worksheet today to help you figure out how to turn your compare and despair habit into something that feels much better.

What are some of your comparison habits? How are they working for you?

If you enjoyed this article, here’s another you might like: I’ll Have What She’s Having

Why Being Your Best Matters

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Be The Best Version Of YouDid you ever hear artists or writers talk about their ‘body of work’?

It’s what they create, what they contribute to the world during their lifetime.

I’m not an artist. But I do consider that I have a responsibility to my body of work.

What’s my body of work?

It’s me. My life.

All that I am.

Because all that I am profoundly affects those I am connected with.

I believe that my life matters.

It’s the vehicle from which I contribute to the world.

And my contribution is important.

Your contribution is important too.

Maybe you’re not sure exactly what your contribution is.

Nevertheless, it exists.

Just by being in this world, you are having an effect on all people and things you come into contact with.

So the way I like to look at it, is that YOU are your body of work.

You.

Your brain, your ideas, your feelings, and your physical being.

You house the essence of you.

And you owe it to the world to be your best.

So if you feel like it doesn’t matter what you do, or whether you take care of yourself or not, or that being your best isn’t worth the effort, you are wrong, my friend.

You are your body of work, and it all matters.

What do you want to work on to be your best?