Tag Archives: emotional eating

Encouragement for Moms Struggling to Lose Weight

As if we needed any reminders that mothering is hard, we now have a pandemic that’s hammering that message into our sleep-deprived mom brains. Caring for babies is an around-the-clock job, toddlers have excessive energy-expending needs and curious little brains (“Why do the scientists say the parks have to be closed?”), and I hear from moms with teenagers that “the moods” are quite real. Our plates are full and our cups overflowing, but often with chores and responsibilities for others instead of ourselves. Of all times in our lives, it’s now officially more difficult to exercise than ever before. Case in point: Me, a fitness professional.

 

 

At the start of this whole thing, my 1-year old was taking an hour nap each morning, allowing me to exercise in the driveway with my 4-year old or plop him in front of an activity or show while my husband worked on his computer and I hit the neighborhoods sidewalks to release all my pint-up energy on a good run. But then my 1-year old entered that dreaded nap purgatory where nothing seemed to work because he wasn’t quite ready for one nap but two naps felt like too much. Plus, hello molars. Enough said.

My morning workouts now start earlier than I’m used to, often before breakfast is fully digested, or they’re shoved into 20 minutes mid-morning while my 1-yr old does “quiet time” in his crib with some books and music. On the occasion that I try to workout with my youngest around, he usually climbs on me during planks, snuggles my face during mat work, and throws balls at my legs during squats. He routinely pulls at my yoga mat and makes it impossible to complete a single set of anything because he is climbing between my legs and onto my stomach as though trying to crawl back into my womb. No thanks, buddy. This whole exercise without childcare thing is really hard. It takes patience and consistency, but also flexibility.

Not only are our exercise schedules and access to fitness equipment different right now, but also our ADLs have changed. ADL stands for activities of daily living. Mine often include running a bunch of errands, shuttling my children to activities and parks (and then chasing after them), house chores, yard work/gardening, and general at-home childcare. With stay-at-home restrictions in place, the first few items on that list have evaporated and in truth, that’s where I burn just as much energy as in the gym.

 

 

Less energy expenditure on a daily basis and low-grade anxiety over the whole covid crisis have caused me to gain back three pounds that I had been recently really proud of myself for losing since they dropped me lower than my pre-pregnancy weight. Three pounds doesn’t sound like much and in the big picture, it isn’t. But if a fitness professional (me) can easily gain weight during times of stress and change, it stands to reason that another woman might possibly gain even more. Full transparency: Those three pounds were gained in the first month of quarantine, so that’s almost a pound a week. You can see how this becomes problematic if it continues, easily turning into 10 lbs, 15 lbs, 20 lbs…etc.

I’m here to tell you a little secret: It’s okay.

I don’t care if you’ve gained 5 lbs or 50 lbs, my message to you is the same: Really, I promise, it’s okay.

We often shame ourselves into thinking we’re terrible people when we gain weight but the shame-and-blame game is tired and unfair. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is address the reality of our weight gain:

I’m having a hard time. Something is emotionally difficult for me right now.

It might be grief, shame, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, jealousy, fear, anger, self-pity, boredom, social rejection or something else. What is on your list of tough emotions?

I’m not trained in Psychology so I’m not here to explicitly tell you how to sort through your emotions but I am here to say that your emotions can be identified and talked about. And they can be separated from your body’s experience, to an extent.

The pounds on the scale tell a story. Once you identify what that story is then you can take the steps towards making amends with your body. Addressing and working through your emotions and life obstacles with a qualified mental health professional might be the ultimate difference maker in your weight loss journey. Self care measures including leaning into your faith, family and friends might free you up emotionally to focus on your health at last.

 

 

It doesn’t matter how much weight you’ve gained, you have control over whether or not it comes off. I know this truth is hard to internalize so let me say it again:

You have control. And if it doesn’t feel like it then take it back for yourself! You deserve it! 

As you work through your emotions and establish self care practices, you will free up your energy to focus on your body’s health without fear or shame – and perhaps you will even start to feel pride and joy!

I’ve seen countless women lose weight only to regain it back. It’s not really because they started eating donuts at the office again or slackened their workout regimen, it’s because feelings of worth weren’t cemented as the foundation of their health. Self worth, love and respect usually need to be in place in order for us to maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight isn’t all that complicated, we just tell ourselves it is because deep down we’re scared of failing or we don’t feel worthy.

But you are. Worthy.

Here are a few of my professional recommendations for losing weight to help you get started. Guess what? None have anything to do with exercise.

 

 

These are measures which set the stage for effective weight loss before lifting even a single hand weight or stepping on the treadmill:

1. Identify emotions that keep you in a weight gain cycle or prevent you from losing weight – this takes courage and being honest with yourself

2. Write a list of 3 daily self care routines you can lean into to help you counter these negative emotions and experiences

3. Consider talking to a professional or counselor, or perhaps confide in a friend or spiritual mentor

4. Increase your ADLS – activities of daily living, or anything you do throughout your daily, weekly and monthly routines that involves movement but isn’t considered “formal” exercise. 

    • Ex: walking the dog, cleaning the house, yard work/gardening, childcare and playing outdoors with children, errands that involve walking/lifting/carrying, caring for a loved one who is physically dependent on you, lovemaking (yup! it burns energy!), cooking dinner instead of ordering, chores, etc.

5. Get enough sleep to reduce inflammation, balance hormones and enable nervous system recovery

6. Start taking steps towards healthy nutrition;

    • Shop the periphery of the grocery store for fresh meats and produce
    • Choose meals you can cook or make at home that are easy and healthy (ex: I do some kind of fish, a roasted veggie and a rice/quinoa/cous cous or sweet potato 3x/week to free up my energy to be more creative for a few other meals)
    • Have healthy snacks on hand (ex: hard boiled eggs, fruit, nuts, yogurt, protein powder)
    • Choose a style of eating you enjoy for your lifestyle. Ex: Schedule snack times if you enjoy eating often or set your “feeding window” if you prefer large, infrequent meals in keeping with intermittent fasting.  No one way is the best way to eat. The “best” approach to nutrition is what will work for YOU.

7. Find a spiritual outlet. I’m a big believer that all people have a spiritual need to connect to each other and something bigger than ourselves in a heartfelt, intangible way. This might be enjoying a traditional religious service, prayer or custom, or it might be selecting a mantra or meditation routine that speaks to you. Omkar chanting, burning sage, placing crystals in your home, striking a Tibetan singing bowl – anything is better than nothing. Honor that place and space within yourself that is already above this world and connected to more.

 

 

Courageously jump-starting a weight loss journey must start from a place of wellness in order to last. We won’t always be able to enjoy our “perfect” workout routine so relying on exercise alone for weight management entails a high level of risk. I hope you can stay encouraged by all the other ways you can kickoff the weight loss process before setting foot in the gym again (because let’s be real…we are stuck in a pandemic that could last a while).

Cheers to your health and its priority during this moment in history! Moms, you deserve the best.

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

 

How to Avoid Binging At Holiday Gatherings

What’s the best thing about holiday gatherings? The food. What’s the worst thing about holiday gatherings? The food.

It can certainly put a huge smile on our faces to see festive tables adorned with some of our favorite holiday meals, decadent homemade desserts, and pretty much every high fat snack imaginable. However, the reality is that this same vision also scares a lot of us. This is especially true if you’re prone to holiday binges.

young adults sitting at a festive christmas table and laughing

Holiday binging involves eating way more than you should, whether you’re physically hungry or not. Usually this winds up with you feeling stuffed, wondering why you don’t have more self-control this time of year. Sometimes it even means eating when no one is looking, almost as if we believe that calories consumed outside the sight of others don’t really exist.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to stop binging at holiday gatherings, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the season physically as much as you do mentally and spiritually.

 

Don’t Show Up Hungry

Arrive at a holiday gathering starved and you will be drawn to the food table like steel to a magnet, making it harder to resist eating more than your fair (or at least intended) share. Therefore, eating a healthy high protein snack before you go is a great way to keep your hunger in check, making it easier to make better food choices. A few to consider include Greek yogurt with berries, a hard-boiled egg, or a handful of nuts. Snacks like these will help “take the edge off.”

 

Be Picky About Where You Sit

Believe it or not, where you decide to sit while you eat at the gathering may just have an impact on how much you eat as well as which foods you put on your plate to begin with. Based on the findings of one observational study, if you want to make better food choices, try to sit in an area that is well lit (you’ll make healthier food choices); not near the alcohol (alcohol tends to lower your food-related inhibitions); and away from distractions like a TV if your family tends to have a holiday show or game on during the gathering (likely increasing the odds that you’ll engage in mindless eating).

 

Give Yourself Permission to Enjoy Your Favorites

When you declare certain foods off limits, you almost become obsessed with them. Well, one way to lessen the power they have over you then is to give yourself permission to enjoy them. As suggested by College News when trying to help students avoid the freshman 15, give yourself a “treat day” the day of the gathering. You’ll likely find that once you’ve made it okay to eat your favorites, you’re less likely to do so without abandon.

 

Focus on a Different “F”

If your main focus at the gathering is food, then it’s time to put your efforts elsewhere by paying more attention to the other “f”s that matter—like friends and family. Instead of using the gathering as an excuse to eat things you normally wouldn’t, optimize your time by sharing stories and laughter with the people you care about most. Set out to learn one new thing about each of them and you’ll spend more time engaged in conversation than you will eating.

 

Do these four things and you’ll be able to enjoy some of your holiday favorites in moderation, providing you the best Christmas gifts of all: greater health and a smaller waist.


 

More info on our contributing writer:

Shelly Stinson is a Denver, Colo.-based freelance writer. From eating to exercising, she enjoys covering anything related to healthy living. You can find out more about Shelly by following her on Twitter @shellystins  or http://www.twitter.com/shellystins

 

 

A BIG thank you to Shelly Stinson who contributed this article to WellnessWinz! Shelly has been my little Christmas miracle, showing up to help write excellent content during the busy holiday season. I wish I could stow her away in my stocking for safekeeping. 😉 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

 

 

Wait, Food is NOT Fuel?

Precision Nutrition is a coaching, mentoring and support system that trains individuals to become Certified Nutritionists. These qualified professionals in turn help tens of thousands of people with their food choices and diet. To date, the Precision Nutrition coaches have helped 35,000 individuals lose over 450,000 lbs.! Precision Nutrition has advised companies like Nike, Equinox and Life Time Fitness, and has done consulting for sports organizations like the Seattle Seahawks and the USA Olympics. To put it simply, these professionals are on a mission. They have found excellent success in helping people achieve better health…and, yet, they don’t believe that food is fuel…hm…how can this be?

Girl at cafe

Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition recently published an article for fitness professionals called “No, Food is NOT Fuel.” Dr. Berardi writes:

“Something’s been bothering us lately. We keep hearing this analogy:

‘Food is fuel.’ You know, like gasoline.

And we keep hearing:

‘The human body is like a high-performance race car.’ You know, like a Ferrari.

So, you have to get enough fuel to run your car. Without getting too much, of course. Or else the Ferrari — uh, you — will get fat.

You also have to choose only really high-quality, high-octane, and expensive fuel. Or else the Ferrari — oh, right, you again — will gunk up and break down.

We’ve heard this analogy — this story — repeated over and over again. Ad nauseam.

And we think that’s a real problem.”

Sushi display

Why is this a problem?

For starters, if food were only fuel, and our bodies only cared about calories in versus calories out, then we could eat a handful of candy bars every day to get our “fuel” without negative consequences to our health. I’m trusting that readers are intelligent enought to figure out that this just simply doesn’t fly. 

How our bodies handle energy and gain or lose weight is far more complicated than this. Our bodies don’t just care about calories in vs. calories out for weight control. Our bodies are dynamic, complex organisms that are impacted by stress, oxidation, inflammation, hormones, the metabolism, and “toxins.”

Dr. Mark Hyman, author of New York Times Bestseller, Ultrametabolism, helps debunk the notion that food is merely fuel by highlighting “7 Myths that Make You Gain Weight.” These include:

1) The Starvation Myth: Eat Less + Exercise More = Weight Loss

Not always the case!

2) The Calorie Myth: All Calories Are Created Equal 

FALSE!

3) The Fat Myth: Eating Fat Makes You Fat

We need fat…big time.

4) The Carb Myth: Eating Low Carb or No Carb Will Make You Thin

We need all 3 food types: fats, carbs and protein.

5) The Sumo Wrestler Myth: Skipping Meals Helps You Lose Weight

Not ideal for metabolism, need we say more?

6) The French Paradox Myth: The French Are Thin Because They Drink Wine and Eat Butter

If only…

7) The Protector Myth: Government Policies and Food Industry Regulations Protect Our Health

Sadly…we’re not protected. 

As you can see, there’s a lot more going on inside our bodies than meets the eye. For this reason, you may actually eat more than usual and somehow LOSE weight! Or you may forego all the usual culinary temptations and suddenly GAIN weight!

Friends over food

Laura Ingalls, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, NASM Personal Trainer, and Certified Running Coach, wrote an article for Run Haven titled “I Trained for a Marathon and Got Fat.” For the record, I’ve run a few marathons myself. During the first one I lost too much weight and was malnourished…the second one, yup…you guessed it, I gained way too much weight.

Laura writes “unfortunately, food is about more than calories. Food is about nutrients.” Her three reasons for gaining weight, in spite of exercising more, include:

You are replacing calories but not nutrients.”

Ex: Too many carbs like breads/cereals/pastas but not enough healthy proteins for zoochemicals and fruits/veggies for phytonutrients.

You are hitting the sugar hard, and you don’t even realize it.”

Ex: Too many sports drinks and supplements to replace the lost energy and water. 

“You are overtraining, under-recovering, over-stressing, and thus over-taxing your endocrine system.”

Ex: Only getting 6 hours of sleep after a long training run and getting up early to hit the gym for another hour of hard exercise. 

Laura and I both gained weight because of #3. Honestly, when I look back on my former training mistakes, I can only thank my body for trying to protect me. It thought I was in a state of emergency! I mean, major sleep deprivation combined with high stress, labor-intensive work days, a lack of proper nutrition AND marathon training? Are you kidding me? I would never disrespect my body like that again. But, thankfully, biology sent me a strong signal with an added 12-15 lbs. of weight, primarily added in my mid-section and baby face (didn’t need the extra puff!), so I got the picture. After a mild panic attack (or two), I got back on track and learned the importance of nutrition for the first time in my life…and by “learned” I mean internalized why it’s so important.

Like me, everyone has heard of the importance of healthy eating and exercise. It’s not fresh-off-the-press news. But, somehow we have a much harder time implementing changes in nutrition compared with understanding why those changes are important.

Spices in spoons

Why is implementing changes in our diets so hard?

I have trained a few dozen women who have come to the United States from other countries and, for the first time in their lives, have packed on weight. Most of these women have been thin and small-framed their entire lives, so when they suddenly bloat and gain weight, it’s very alarming for them.

Part of their weight gain could be due to a difference in how fresh and organic foods are in their cultures compared to the heavily modified and pumped-with-preservatives foods that are in abundance here in America. But, I think an equally important part of the sudden weight-gain equation is due to how food is tied to our culture…our identity…

A lot of people fall into one of two camps when they go through a major life change that challenges their identity:

Food-Averse Anxiety

-or-

Emotional Munching

The first group avoids food and often loses energy and weight. The second group also loses energy but it’s because their bodies are getting overtaxed by too much food processing on a daily basis due to emotional overeating (it takes a toll on the body to turn food into fat stores!). These two juxtaposed relationships with food reflect how intimately tied food is to our emotions…and guess what? That’s okay.

Boat of food

Food is a part of our life story.

So, I implore you to think about the following question: “What does my food say about ME?

Does it reflect that you’re feeling shameful or joyful during this season of life? Does it give you comfort or cause you stress? Most importantly, Dr. Berardi suggests you ask yourself:

“What would you like food to be?”

Once you start delving into that answer, a whole new world may open up. And, it’s yours if you want it.

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea