Saturday, March 30, 2013

You Don't Have To Be Perfect After All.

   At the end of my last post, I had to ask if I would blow off the 30 day fat release project because of a trio of organic blueberry waffles, among other foods.  Here I am with another post, so it looks like the experiment is still on.

     A few posts back, I wrote about my experience with a diet that was relatively low carb during the week, with a massive cheat day on the weekend.  I took a stab at this eating style when I was at what I'll call my lowest "modern" (i.e. post baby/age 40) weight of 117.  It was a mess, and I put 10 pounds back on so fast it made my head spin.  That bad experience made me suspect that I couldn't indulge in sugar or flour at all- ever.  At that point, I began to wonder if the food addict label was one I would have to wear for the rest of my life.  (Pardon the drama please.)  As matter of fact, in 2010 I went 10 months without a single bite of sugar or white flour.  I lost weight, but in some ways I was even more obsessed with food when I was abstinent.

     And yet... There was something about abstinence from sugar and flour that made me feel strong, whole, and healthy.

     The question I have to ask now is, what is the happy, sensible, rational medium that lets me live the life I want to live?  I want to invite you to ask yourself the same question.  On the one hand, occasional overeating of sweets does push my morning fasting blood sugar up over 100 according to my glucose meter, and that's not a great thing.  On the other hand, if is lovely to be able to share a dessert with my husband every once in a while, and I know that my son finds it reassuring when he sees me have a bite of chocolate without going into a tailspin over ruining my diet.

     What is the answer?  And why does weight matter so much?  Why does weight have so much weight when a modern woman assesses her current state of life affairs?  Why is it that even though my BMI is a very healthy 23.7 this voice in my head still whispers, go lower, get leaner?  I have come to realize that I am being driven by fashion, status, and the media.

     My diet and exercise plan is like this massive photoshop/airbrushing program that I'm trying to do on my real life body.  Just last week, I was listening to a podcast and  heard the male host, who is a trainer, ask the male guest (another trainer) how a woman can get to 16% body fat.

16%!

According to the World Health Organization at Body Fat percentage below 18.5% is underweight, and below 17% ovulation is suppressed in women.  And yet, trainers are casually asking other trainers how women can get to 16% as if that was not only reasonable, but desirable!

     I have begun to realize that it may be the very irrational nature of my weight goal that is driving my obsession.  Now I know that scales and hand held devices that measure body fat percentage are notoriously inaccurate, but the one at Gordon Studio gave me a reading of 19.5% this week.  Honestly, I never dreamed I would want to go below 20%, especially at the age of 48.

     Could it be that my cravings last week were  the result of my new low body fat %- and not the caused by my weak will and poor judgement?  An even more important question is this.  How much misery, self recrimination, and dieting is being driven by the desire to reach a level of lean-ness that is so severe that it impairs fertility in women?

     Lately, I've been telling myself that I have to get leaner for my clients.  I have to be a role model for them.  The rational grown up part of me asks,

     "If that's the case, why are your classes so crowded that you're nearly doubling the size of your dance floor this weekend?"

     What I realize is that I am literally living in the space between Health and Fashion, and I need to make a decision about what to do now.

     What if my need to eat perfectly is driven by a vain desire to look perfect, even if looking perfect would make me unwell by any reasonable medical standard?

     Still... what if all the musings above are just rationalizations to give me free reign to eat all I want at the Easter buffet on Sunday?  The current state of affairs is this, over the past week or so, I haven't been eating "perfectly" but I have released fat anyway.  That makes sense when you consider that I'm teaching nine fitness classes a week.  So here is my plan, because I do still think it's good to have a plan when it comes to eating.  Today, I will enjoy a healthy menu that leaves out the sweets, grains, nut butters, and other foods I tend to over indulge in.  On Sunday at brunch I will eat slowly, mindfully, and with an eye to delighting the senses.  In other words, I will eat the way my naturally slender husband and son do.

     Then on Monday it's back to TT, Zumba, and an everyday menu that leaves the sweets out.  If I can manage this without triggering cravings and food obsession... what a breakthrough that will be.  I promise to let you know what happens with all the honesty I can muster.

   

   


Monday, March 25, 2013

Two Perfect Weeks

     Saturday was the half way point of my 30 fat release experiment.  These past two weeks were the longest time I've managed to stick to my eating resolutions since the beginning of 2010.  Before that, I've never been able to follow a diet perfectly for more than a week.

     The results and rewards of my resolve were wonderful.  My weight was the lowest it's been in over a year, my abs were starting to show, but the best part was my newly re-discovered ability to stop eating when I was full.

     I need to repeat that.  Within two weeks of stopping grains and sugar my appetite had normalized, and I was able to satisfy my appetite without going back for seconds or thirds.

     This is a powerful personal breakthrough, and I know that there are many people out there who could achieve incredible results in health and fitness if they could simply stop eating when full.  When I observe friends,  family members, clients, and colleagues, I see this pattern: naturally slender people find it easy to satisfy their appetites for food.  Those of us who struggle with fat storage have to deal with powerful appetites and eating signals.

     My cravings are like gunpowder.  They lie dormant until they are touched by the fire of sugar, flour, and excessive servings.

     To add to the challenge of maintaining health in the face of food obsession, once I've eaten sugar, grains, too much cheese, or processed meats for example, I feel bloated, achy, and depressed.  I also feel distinctly unattractive, which makes it unlikely that I'm going to want to hop into my exercise clothes and head off to the gym.  So the very thing that would pull me out of my food funk: movement I enjoy, seems less appealing because of the way my food has made me feel.

     Now for a dose of honesty.  On Saturday something wonderful happened.  Melanie, a former student who now has her Zumba license and who will be teaching at Gordon Studio, taught a demo class there which a smashing success.  Many students current and new showed up, had a great time, and bought cards for future classes.  Great news right?  There's only one snag: the success of the demo brought up what Dr. Gay Hendricks has called, "The Upper Limit Problem."  When things are going exceedingly well, in this case health and business, parts of the ego can get freaked out and say,

     I'm flying too high!  Success is scary!  Bring me down now!

     For a compulsive overeater, the one way ticket out of the clouds and back down to Earth is an episode of unmanageable eating.

   By Sunday, I was eating snack foods standing at the kitchen cupboard, and then piling my plate high with so-called treats that I knew were going to make me feel sick and miserable.

     So here I sit, blogging my disappointment in myself.  Still, I won't lose heart.  I'm really not any bigger to the eye than yesterday.  I'm not sick or injured, so I can still practice my Zumba and TT in anticipation of teaching this afternoon and evening.  Thank goodness I have students who are expecting me to lead them so I can't blow off exercise!  Plus, I have learned that the only good reaction to a bout of un-helpful eating is compassion.  Today, I will be kind to myself.  The kindest thing I can do after I post this entry is walk Tippy, then come back a cook a beautiful breakfast containing foods that satisfy me.

     The 30 day experiment is still on, and I can answer some very important questions now.

   Will my sugar/flour cravings come back?  Will I still be satisfied with my meals?  Will I feel different when I train?

     I've already answered on important question.  Yesterday, as I ate another organic blueberry waffle I thought to myself,

     "Am I going to blow off the blog, and the 30 day experiment now?"

     The answer to that question, thank goodness, is no.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Get Back To Your Wedding Weight.

     A lot changes after you get married.  I quit smoking, had a son, we built a home, and I started to garden for the first time.

     I also stopped working, which for me meant acting, singing, and dancing.   In the past, where there had always been another part to audition for, or another evening rehearsal to keep me from going to bed on a full stomach, evenings meant great dinners, snuggling, and family time.

     For a woman who thought she would never get married and have a child, (once you reach age 33 in Los Angeles, you start to think that ship has sailed, as silly as that seems now), it was a dream come true.  Still, when my lifestyle changed my body changed, to the point where six years after my son was born, I was still pushing 160 pounds at a height of only 5'1".  That's a BMI of 30.2: officially in the obese category.

Had I been dieting?  You bet I had.  Here's a partial list of my diets:

Weight Watchers
South Beach
Low Fat/Low Calorie
Atkins
Cabbage Soup
Diet Center
Grapefruit Diet
Silver Cloud
And so on.

Had I been working out?  Here's a list of the ways I tried to work the fat off:

Step Aerobics
Treadmill
Weight Machines
Walking
Yoga
Hour long elliptical sessions (when I could find an available machine).
Personal Training Sessions
Masters Swimming
Spinning
And so on.

     I finally released the fat when I entered the Turbulence Training Transformation Contest.  (If you click the link, you'll go to the sales page for the program I followed.)  By December of 2010 I was at my "High School Skinny" weight of 117 pounds, and I could hardly believe that I was seeing myself when I looked in the mirror.  At age 46 I looked and felt so much better than I had in High School.  Unfortunately, I took my achievement for granted and started experimenting with "Diets" again.  The next diet I tried: 4 Hour Body (Sorry Tim) put 10 pounds back on me so fast it made my head spin.  What did I expect from eating beans and bingeing every Saturday?  (In defense of that plan, the once a week "eat whatever you like day" wasn't supposed to turn into a binge, that was my mistake.)

     From the start of 2011 until today I have continued to struggle with my weight.  After earning my ACE  certification, getting my Zumba license, becoming a Certified Turbulence Trainer, and opening my fitness business, I discovered that being a trainer isn't always synonymous with being slim.  If anything, my new job increased my appetite to a level I hadn't experienced since I was pregnant.

     Ever since this January, when I re-joined weight Watchers for the accountability, I've been doing great during the work week, and then re-storing most of the fat I'd released by overeating on the weekends.

     Then, on the 9th of March, I decided to commit completely to the eating principles that had served me so well in the past.  If you've been reading this blog lately you know the principles, but I'll list them again.

3 Meals A Day: No Snacking
No Sugar, Grains, or Alcohol
Plan and Commit to a Menu each Morning

     The result?  This morning, for the first time in I'm not sure how long, I'm back at my wedding weight of 127.  So above you can see how I've been eating, but another key to why this is working has to do with what I'm doing.

     Let's take a closer look at that.  Here is my teaching schedule- which is also my training schedule, although I promise that my clients and students come first!

Turbulence Training  Three 30 minute sessions a week.
Zumba: 3 classes/week
Zumba Gold: 2 classes/week.

     Yes, that'd quite a bit of training, but here's the key: In TT I push the intervals to the best of my ability, when I teach Zumba and Zumba Gold, I dial back the intensity, and make sure I'm not spending those hours in the "Aerobic Range".

     There is a great deal of new research coming out which examines the difference in effectiveness between medium intensity, long duration cardio, and short intense bouts of interval training.  In every study I've seen, the intervals win hands down for fat release.  Now I adore Zumba, but I'm convinced that you have to manage the intensity of the class in order to get the most benefit.  One way I do that is vary the songs and choreography so that we accelerate and recover throughout the class.

     Another element for fat release success is sleep and recovery.  I am currently training four days, and off three days a week.  I'm also in bed every night at 9PM, and I wake naturally at 5:30AM.  You have to get your fat release engine firing on all cylinders in order to get to goal, and sleep is essential.  Yes, all this sounds like a lot of "Lifestyle Management", but in order to get the body to change the way we want it to, some serious effort is required.

    If I step back and look at my lifestyle, I can see that I have returned to the passion and feeling of purpose that I had when I was pursuing my career as an entertainer.  The energy, excitement, and enthusiasm are back, and now it feels even better because I'm doing something in the community that makes a real difference.  Honestly, there is nothing better for a trainer than seeing your students get leaner, stronger, more graceful, and happier.

      So to get back to your wedding weight, you need to discover ways to eat, move, and recover well.  Look inside for the things that inspire you, and connect your lifestyle to the things that make your heart sing.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

30 Days of Fat Release: Patience Pays Off

     In my last post I wrote about the frustration of following your plan, and not getting any love from the scale.  Thankfully, I weighed in yesterday and I'm leaner and lighter than last week.

     Lately, I've been following an eating pattern that has slowed down my progress significantly.  I would commit to an eating and training plan during the work week, do really well and have success, and then I would overeat on the weekends.  I was able to rationalize this behavior by telling myself that I was revving up my metabolism, and that I could reverse course and lose fat by my next weigh in on Friday. This worked for a few weeks back in February, but then my progress stalled.

     By making this 30 day commitment back on March 9th, I eliminated the excuses that allowed my weekend excesses, and in just a week I can see a difference in the mirror, and feel a difference in my thinking.  The change of mind is probably the biggest benefit I have found from eliminating my trigger foods and behaviors.  I feel calmer, happier, and rather proud of myself.  It is so refreshing to be free of the self recrimination that always followed my weekend indulgences.

     Something very encouraging happened while I was making dinner yesterday.  As I started getting food out of the fridge this voice in my head began to encourage me to nibble, snack, and indulge during my preparations.  The voice wanted me to get into the cheese I had bought for my husband to cook with.  I was a little shocked by the rationalizations I heard going through my mind:

"It's Friday, and you don't weigh in for another week."

"Bump up your calories, It'll be good for your metabolism."

"Cheese is low carb and high fat, and you used to eat it all the time."

     I took a deep breath, and I reminded myself of this commitment to myself, and to my students.  The people I work with don't need to be told what to eat.  My students want tools that will help them stick to their commitments.  They need the internal strategies that can head off the urge to eat mindlessly.  So I thought about my readers and clients, and I chose to remain faithful to my 30 plan.  I did not want to face the choice between dishonesty, writing that I couldn't follow my plan, or just keeping quiet for a week or two and blowing this experiment off.

     So in this specific instance, I chose the behavior (making the meal I had committed to, and not snacking) that would fend off negative consequences.  Typically, I like to direct my behavior toward positive outcomes, but sometimes the stick works better than the carrot.

     Now I get to enjoy this lovely Saturday morning feeling empowered and healthy- both in mind and body.  The sun is rising, and I'm eager to get into the kitchen and make breakfast before heading out to the yard with my weeding tools.  Time to make room for more flowers.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

When Calories Are Down But Weight Is Up

Does this sound familiar?

You've planned and tracked your meals for the day.  You've followed your plan, plus, you've had an amazing session at the gym where you've taken your intensity to the next level.  It's morning and you feel great, maybe a little sore from that excellent training session, but great overall.

You step on the scale and you've gained weight.

Ugh! This scenario makes me so deeply frustrated, I want to pull my hair out.  It's not fair, not fair, not fair!  I'm going to show the diet gods what jerks they are by going on a feeding rampage.

Actually, no I'm not going to do that.

That was me on the scale this morning, and I simply ate my planned breakfast, taught my Zumba Gold class, then came home and had a healthy satisfying lunch.  I'm eating more vegetables today, and I'm having less of my soy free mayo, but I'm sticking with the plan.

If you're on a fat release journey there will be days like this.  The solution is to have gauges and measures of your progress that have nothing to do with the scale.  As you release fat your body composition changes and you may become heavier instead of lighter on any given day.

I have decided to look in the mirror and like at least something I see in it every day.  Today, I like my shoulders.  I probably like them because I did 50 pushups yesterday.  (No, not in a row, but still.)  I have decided to be proud of my actions instead of only being proud of a specific result.  This idea is not new.  It's simply a choice that comes with a growing sense of patience and maturity.  My inner teen may be alive and well and throwing a fit, but I have a plan and follow it in spite of her anger.

This is day six, and I have stayed true to my convictions.  There is a little bubble of happiness in me that grows larger with each day that I am faithful to myself.  In place of weight loss, this feeling will do just fine thank you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cravings Gone? Keep It That Way.

This is amazing.  It's day five of my 30 cheat free days, and I feel fantastic.  I'm eating less by choice not by force.

The first three days were tough.  Over the weekend, I'd been eating stevia sweetened organic chocolate, raw milk cheese, raw almonds, and  as much as I hate to admit it, I'd drunk a few diet sodas.  What those foods have in common is that they hook me.  Maybe not at first, because I can start out having just a few squares of dark chocolate at a time, but after a day or two I can't get satisfied until I eat the whole bar, preferably with two big handfuls of almonds.

When I eliminate the crazy-making foods my menu may seem a little austere, but I feel the way I imagine naturally slender people feel.  I eat until I'm comfortably full, and then I get up and get on with my day.

Here is the best part- after a few days the obsessive thoughts about food go away.  This is a wonderful gift.

So if it's as easy as just  three days of mental effort, why didn't I figure this out years ago?

Well, from examining my own behavior, It's a lot like the way I felt all the times I quit smoking. (By the way, I've been nicotine free for nearly 13 years now.)  I would quit smoking, get through the physical withdrawal, and then I'd start thinking, hey, that wasn't so bad, maybe I could have the occasional cigarette.  Then I'd bum one, buy a pack and be back up to smoking a pack a day within the week.

Just as everyone doesn't get addicted to cigarettes, everyone doesn't get addicted to sugary floury creamy carbs.  The simple fact is that I do get addicted to them- over, and over, and over.

Now here's the odd thing.  No health professional would ever suggest that I have a drink or two if I had and alcohol obsession, but there is still a strong cohort of fitness, nutrition, and even psychology professionals who believe that restriction of certain foods is bad, and that only those who can eat a bit of everything are truly healthy.

This is incredibly frustrating for some one who has felt the madness that a pint of premium ice cream can cause.  In my case the madness can be brought on by a stupid hot dog bun.  Ridiculous!

So I will keep on with my 30 commitment.

Here is the greatest pitfall:  After 4 days off the obsessive foods, I feel so good that there is a little voice in my head that says,

"See that wasn't so hard.  It's totally safe to treat yourself sometimes."  Thank goodness there is an angel on my other shoulder telling me to be true to my convictions.

Listen to the voice that supports you dreams, and see what happens.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fat Release Day 3: Cravings Gone!

  Whew, woke up this morning feeling confident again.  It helps that the sun is shining and the birds are singing outside my window.  It's also probably no coincidence that I feel so good since I was sugar and flour free yesterday, and I spent 3 hours happily weeding the front yard.  All the crab grass is gone from around the lovely spring flowers that are getting ready to bud and bloom here.

     I've been seeing a pattern since January where I feel empowered and craving free during the work week, but the obsessive food thoughts come back on the weekend.  The afternoon and evening hours make me nervous when it comes to the risk of overeating.  I have rarely dived in to a bag, box, or carton of anything worrisome before Noon.  So today I want to look at why the weekend is such an issue.

     The facts are pretty simple.  Monday through Thursday evening I teach Zumba, TT, or Jazz.  I love teaching these classes and I want to give them my best.  I see that when other people are involved, in this case my students, I can manage my behavior.  When the only person who will benefit from my good behavior is me, my food desires have a much better chance of taking over my actions.

     What is up with this?  I go back and forth between the idea that all cravings are driven by chemistry.  For example some of the time I believe that all overeating is driven by the dance between sugar, insulin, and leptin.  But then I step back and look at my actual behavior, and I see that I have better self-management when my actions are likely to affect "The Group."  So I see that my appetite is affected not just by what, when, and how much I eat, but by what I think and do as well.

Now for today's menu.  Last week sugar free chocolate was part of the plan.  That did not go well.

Breakfast:  Coffee, raw cream, 2 eggs, 3 strips bacon, cabbage cooked in ghee.  Fish oil and multivitamin.

Lunch:  4 oz. grass fed beef, mixed green salad, broccolini, olive oil dressing, 1t Kerrygold butter.

Dinner: Grass fed ground beef, cauliflower, salad, olive oil and vinegar dressing, 1t Kerrygold butter.

8- 8 oz glasses of water.

If I can maintain this feeling of calm happiness throughout the day, what a blessing that would be!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fat Release Day 2- Dealing with Cravings

No matter how strong your commitment or how clear your vision, food cravings will appear when you change your eating habits.

The most powerful technique I have ever found for releasing fat is the elimination of sugar and grains, especially bread.  But just because it's powerful and effective doesn't mean it's easy at the start.

Bread.

Sigh.

Bread was my first binge food, and since every normal American household has a loaf of bread in the the kitchen, not to mention hot dog or hamburger buns in the cupboard, it is hard to keep your distance from it.  Two days ago, I got into the rolls that I had bought when we had a friend over for dinner.  They were on the top shelf of the refrigerator, and that evening I was putting away the raw cream for my after-dinner cup of decaf, and I happened to look up and see them.

I wasn't hungry.  As a matter of fact I was still full from diner, but I pulled them down, slathered two of them with Kerrygold butter, and they disappeared down my throat before anyone could see me and ask what I was doing.  I have this uncanny ability to isolate  my higher self for just long enough to gobble down a trigger food.  It's like when a mosquito lands on you and you know you're going to get bit, but you're not fast enough to slap that insect away before you feel the stinger slide in.

In the morning, my head aching and my fingers swollen from by common reaction, I resolved to commit to 30 days without my personal trigger foods, and I wrote yesterday's post.

Two hours ago, just as I finished a fantastic abstinent breakfast, I was hit by a bread craving so strong I could hardly believe it.  It took at least five different thought strategies to "Think myself down" from the craving cliff I was standing on.

Did I cave to the crave?  No.  I thought about many reasons why I did not want to go gobble down dinner rolls.  The thought that finally got me through the craving wasn't that I wanted a great figure, or that I didn't want to feel guilty tomorrow.  I simply said to myself,

"I want to feel good now, and in the very next moment after now."

I have finally accepted that even the moment of the first bite brings pain instead of pleasure.  I feel like I dodged a meteor.  (It was a very dramatic craving.)

I feel confident that my tomorrow, I will have enough distance from my last slip that the physical craving for bread will be resolved.  The days when I teach and train are so much easier because I want to look and feel my best at work.  It's the weekends that pose my biggest challenges.

Today's Menu:  Coffee, raw cream, 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, sauteed cabbage, celery, and onion, ghee.

Lunch:  4 oz chicken, mixed green salad, olive oil, vinegar, 1C broccolini, 1t butter.

Dinner:  4 oz beef, 1C carrots, salad, olive oil and vinegar, 1t butter, decaf with cream.

Today, instead of seeking more dubious pleasure in food, I will pull weeds in the sunshine, and enjoy spending time with my family.  That's better than a silly old roll any day.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

30 Days of Fat Release

What could you achieve in 30 days of total commitment?

In the world of fat release there is a constant tension between finding a lifetime pattern of thinking, eating, and moving, and using a specific period of time to limit behaviors that cause fat storage while practicing techniques that cause fat release.

To put it simply, I'm writing about the difference between a diet and a lifestyle.  In my last blog I wrote about the fact that the Greek root for the word diet means "Way of life," and sometimes it certainly does seem that dieting has become a way of life for me.  What is the tension inside me that keeps me pursuing a lower body fat percentage and smaller measurements?  Is it beauty, freedom, and authenticity that I'm after, or is it power, status, and approval that I'm seeking?

I can honestly say that I want a figure that looks and feels right on my terms.  I do want to be a leader in fitness, and for the past six  I've had the great privilege of having my own fitness studio.  I am delighted by the progress that my students have made, but I want to set a great example for them.  I still feel the urge to create what I call my Aspirational Figure.  Is this ego?  Insecurity?  Am I practicing the kind of perfectionism that creates a barrier between me and my authentic life purpose?  Am I just over-thinking and making way to big a deal of my looks again?

Probably.

Ah well.  One  secret of commerce is to find a problem, fix it, and then sell the solution.  Whatever my real motives are, the better I look and feel the happier I usually am, and I like having a marketable skill to offer, so darn it, I'm going to keep at this aspirational body thing for a while longer.

Thanks to the schedule at Gordon Studio my physical training is completely covered.  What I must commit to now and for the next 30 days is a cheat free eating plan.  Today's menu is as follows.

Breakfast:  Coffee, raw cream, 2 eggs, 3 strips uncured bacon, 1 cup cabbage, 1T onion, 2t organic ghee.  Water.

Lunch:  2 Lamb chops, 1C. broccoli, 1t. ghee, 2C. mixed greens with 1T olive oil and 2T cider vinegar.  Water.

Dinner: 4oz. grass fed beef, 1C. broccoli, 1C. cauliflower, 2t ghee.  Water.  Tea as desired.  Stevia to sweeten.   No between meal snacking, and I will practice mindful eating by sitting for all meals and remembering to chew my food.  Digestion starts in the mouth after all.

I admit that my menu looks limited.  Look at all that saturated fat!  What, no fruit?  Where are the nuts and cheese?  I am certainly not recommending this menu to anyone, but the fact is that these foods make me feel nourished and energetic, and they don't trigger my cravings and overeating.  For the next 30 days, this is what I need.  My goal in sharing my process is to explore and develop techniques for fat release that work for people who who have experienced similar struggles with eating.

This is not my lifestyle eating plan.  This is an experiment that I'm conducting to explore the boundaries of my commitment.  I hope that I will learn something of value that I can share along the way.



Saturday, March 2, 2013

Diet. A way of life?

This morning I was shocked to learn that the word "Diet" is derived from the Greek "Dieter" which means, "A way of life."

Seriously?  My purpose for writing this post this morning was to suggest that we stop dieting in order to find a better way to manage eating.  How many people have said that they don't want a diet, they want a lifestyle, and now I discover that lifestyle used to be synonymous with diet?

Let's take this a little further- "Dieter" is Greek, so I guess we're talking about a Greek diet here: olive oil anyone?  Have you read the latest study on the Mediterranean diet?  The word is that it can reduce strokes and heart disease in at risk populations.  Whoops, there's that word diet again.

Alright, let me come back to what I wanted to convey today.  As I look back at what has worked to help me release fat and keep it off over the past five years, I can see clearly that what foods, and how much of them I eat are  the primary factors in how much fat I store.  I have through study, trial and error, luck, and dogged persistence discovered the foods that serve my purpose of living a vital happy life.  I have the knowledge I need to create my way of eating.  If you are willing to pay close attention to you needs, desires, and behaviors around food you can gain the same wisdom when it comes to what you eat.

My purpose when I write about eating is to convey techniques for applying our wisdom.  If you're like me you know which foods work for you.  If you don't, I'm urging you to spend some time exploring how you react to the foods you eat.  Recently it has become clear to me that that the recommendations we get about how to eat and move were established for people who have no difficulty with their weight.  Eight servings of whole grains a day might be just dandy for someone with perfect insulin sensitivity and no excess adipose tissue, but for someone like me who experienced her first bread binge at age five,  even one serving might be too much.  The idea of going on a diet in the conventional sense, especially the Standard American Diet, is something I simply won't accept any longer.

I never release fat for long when I follow someone else's diet.  I release fat for good when I use my best wisdom to help me manage my day to day eating.  How do I manage eating?  Each morning I take some quiet time to write down my menu for the day.  The behavior I use really is that simple.  Sometimes I'll track my menu on line as well, but it's that time with my notebook in the morning that is most effective. Once my plan is written down I don't need to fuss over what I'll prepare.  Later, I may pull something out of the freezer, chop vegetables, or bring out the slow cooker as needed.  I can relax and do what needs to be done to support my purpose- which is health, vitality, and happiness.

Sometimes I eat out of bounds.  Stress, avoidance, and unexpected emotions can knock me off of my chosen path.  Is this a disaster?  It can  seem like one, but these episodes always teach me something valuable about my relationship with food.  When I don't stay faithful to my choices I find the reason why,  and look for a way to diffuse the feeling that pushed me off course.

So now I see that my diet isn't my lifestyle because I no longer follow a diet.  I choose what I will eat based on my personal wisdom, and then I follow a plan.  If the amount of fat you store on your body has never been an issue, then you don't need this technique.  If it has been an issue, I encourage you to give morning planning a try.