A Bigger Life in A Smaller Pair of Jeans! Human-Brain Principle #1

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Human beings are pleasure-seeking creatures. Big time.  Finding enjoyment in life is at the core of who we are.  We choose our friends and our partners because we enjoy spending time with them.  We pursue careers based on our interests and passions.  We take up hobbies we find appealing and fun. We save up our money so we can go on vacation, and we stop at Starbucks for momentary reprieves from the stress of everyday life.

All in pursuit of what makes us happy.

And so conversely, no surprise here, unless you are second string for Mother Theresa, you won’t continue behaviors that are hard or no fun, if you don’t have to.  Understanding the humanity of the gravitational pull to feel enjoyment is an important entity to lifelong weight loss and here’s why: When the pleasure-seeking part of your brain determines it’s about to do something it knows it won’t like, i.e. a diet, it relents…but only for a little while. Your desire to lose weight is strong enough to allow you to sustain your new diet, for a week, maybe even a month or two, but, eventually, you give up because it’s not doable, long-term.  Translated: it’s way too hard to maintain.

 After you quit the diet, you feel guilt and shame for what you think is a weakness on your part. But realize, no matter how committed you are eliminating the forbidden foods that your diet requires you to ditch, you’re wired to give it up. Your desire to enjoy life’s pleasures, which includes eating foods you like, trumps your desire for a new outcome. But take heart!  This doesn’t mean you can’t be successful at your weight loss attempt!

 Acknowledging your in-born desire to enjoy your life is important because it helps you figure out why you haven’t been successful with past diet attempt, and won’t be with the next, if you take a similar approach…same diet different no-no’s. Not staying on the diet has nothing to do with your character or willpower, so disconnect those dots. You aren’t wired to sustain deprivation.  Restrictive diets are the antithesis of fun.  The brain won’t tolerate them for long.  And what the brain says goes!  You can’t fight City Hall and you can’t fight Human Brain Principles.

 Small, doable changes are the way to go when it comes to weight loss. The brain doesn’t interpret them as God awful, which means you are likely to actual stick to your altered eating plan. You can’t change your hardware, so work with it. Stop eliminating and overhauling, think tweek.

A Bigger Life in a Smaller Pair of Jeans!  Human Brain Principle # 1)

 If you don’t change something you don’t like to do into something you like to do,  you won’t stick with it for long, no matter how good you think it is for you.

woman hugging herself

Ode to the Teddy of Graham

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Teddy Grahams, especially the chocolate ones, are awesome! Eating them makes me happy. They have permanent residence on the middle shelf of my snack cabinet.  Chocolate Teddy Grahams (herein referred to as “CTG’s”) are my number one go-to option when I have a hankerin’ for something sweet and chocolaty…which is everyday.  Sometimes I grab a small handful (always a lady) and sometimes I eat them in sections, consuming their little heads first, then their little bodies.  These little fellas are delicious, they have a grown-up chocolaty flavor, and are a good sweet-snack option.

And here’s another big reason why I love these teeny cubs:  They are real food.  They don’t hangout with diet-cookie posers who pretend to be something they’re not. They do not consider themselves a “cookie alternative” and they have never jumped on or off the gluten-free bandwagon.  You find them proudly perched on the shelves of the cookie isle, between the Nilla Vanillas and the Oreos. How much more legit a cookie can you get then that?

And why, you might ask, is their real vs. fake cookie status important?  Because staying with new and improved dietary changes is way more about psychology then dietary facts.  How you view food options, what your brain tells you about how something is going to taste, what pleasure you derive or do not derive from eating it, in a nutshell, is the reason why you start, stop or stick to the on-going consumption of it. I’m going out on a limb here, but think about it; the more you think something is good for you, the more you don’t want to eat it.  Here’s why:  If food provides an escape from the stress of life, which it does for many, diet anything doesn’t connect us to the pleasurable taste experience we are seeking to calm us or make us feel better.  The rebel/pleasure seeking part of our brain is not getting what it wants. And we know if we don’t feel satisfied, (i.e. eating diet cookies and the like) we end-up reach for something else, something way worse then munching those CTGs!

As humans, we are pleasure-seeking mongers.  See, the brain can sniff out a diet option a mile away and once it labels a food “diet,” it becomes less appealing.  You may eat said diet cookie for a week or so, but soon, you kick it to the curb. Why? Because when you eat the diet food alternative, in an attempt to be “good,” your brain doesn’t receive it as a fair-swap substitute to what it really wants.

Now I could tell you that CTG’s are low in calories, low in sugar, low in fat and salt, with a decent amount of fiber per service, but why would I do that?  What your brain doesn’t know can help you!

Try eating foods that are not “diet foods” but are a few steps better than the ones you are eating now, and enjoy them. Weight loss occurs from less calories consumed. For me, and maybe for you, a viable sweet option is the Chocolate Teddy Graham.

teddy grahams2

Thank you CTG’s for not pretending to be something you are not! I honor you and I eat you!

Okay, Fess-Up.

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A quote from Jen Lancaster’s book, Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie is Not the Answer, “As I paddle along, I slowly become aware that it’s been fear keeping me out of this pool for so many years. I never came here before because I was afraid I’d make a fool of myself by not having the endurance to complete a lap. The swimming wasn’t what scared me; failure was. My fear locked me in a state of arrested development for so many years. Fear kept me from tackling my weight, which I understand has simply been symptomatic of my greater fear, growing up. I glide down the lane on my back and reflect on how good I feel right now. It’s not because I’ve lost more than thirty pounds. I feel incredible because I’ve stopped being afraid.”― Jen Lancaster,

Okay, fess-up. Is there a particular TV personality, author or public figure that you believe, if they could meet you, would immediately feel an AMAZING connection to you, as you already feel towards them? Some people might consider my feeling towards the author, Jen Lancaster, a form or stalking, maybe a fixation; I prefer to think of it as a telepathic friendship, albeit one-sided.

Jen is real and she is funny and it shows up in her writing. I love what she says about her weight loss journey and about getting back to the pool after being away from swimming for a long time.  Do you notice how she doesn’t mention setting any predetermined and/or measurable goals?  No heart rate taken, no laps counted.  “I glide down the lane on my back and reflects on how good it feels right now.”

I can’t help think if we got rid of all the extraneous rules we imposed on movement, on exercise, we might just do more of it.

googles

Dr. Seuss at My Funeral

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Dr Seuss at My Funeral

I have two requests for my funeral.  One is that they play my favorite disco song, Heaven Must be Missin and Angel, (which isn’t meant to say anything about where I think I will be at the time of my funeral, although I can see how it would be hard not to make a connection) and the other is for someone to read aloud, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, by Dr. Seuss.

I love the message of this book because it’s about working through difficulty, expecting hard times, and challenging the negative stuff in your head that stops you from achieving your goals. Do you have a deep desire to do something, change something, take on a goal, but you don’t believe you have what it takes to achieve it? Dr. Suess tells us: “I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you.”

Games you can’t win…

cause you play against you…

Do you ever feel like self-doubt is this ninja saboteur, always ready to pounce on your hopes and dreams of wanting more for yourself? When you want to improve your health, or any aspect of your life, you have to own it in your head and heart. To own the identity, you have to believe you’re capable of making it happen.  Before any outward signs appear, in your mind, you’re already there. The process, not a number on the scale or the miles you’ve covered, defines you.

There isn’t anything special about people who have already accomplished what it is you want to accomplish. They don’t have a magic chip inside them that God didn’t give to you because he likes them more; they just believe it is so, and so, it is.  You have an ample supply of all that you need waiting inside you to do, or to be, what you choose.

The last lines of this amazing book:

“And will you succeed?

Yes!  You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

“So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray,

or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

your off to Great Places! 

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!”

Oh,_the_Places_You'll_Go

Shocking News to Say the Least

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I’m sincerely worried. Actually, more alarmed than worried. There’s a new product scheduled to hit the marketplace in 2015, and I’m predicting it’s gonna go big. It’s called the Pavlok, a device you wear that “adds accountability and electric shock to change your habits and train your behavior.”  Yup, you heard me right “electric shock.” Another quote from the website:  “Meet Pavlok — the first device that helps you form good habits, break bad habits, and stick to your commitments, using any means necessary.  You getting the gist? Here’s how it works: You download the app, pair it with the device, choose the behavior or habit you want to change and program it to beep, vibrate or shock you to keep you “on track.” I’m predicting — and I have a feeling the company is too — most people will utilize the shock setting.

So, basically, when you don’t follow through with what you said you would, the device is programmed to send an electric shock wave into your body telling you, you’ve failed and deserve, more like need, to be punished.  Which is great news because everyone knows physically painful reminders of personal failures work wonders in motivating us to succeed, right? The underlying message of the Pavlok is this:  You are intrinsically incapable of changing your behavior; you need an external, pain-producing prompter to do what it is you have not done, nor cannot do yourself.

In my mind, the Pavlok is the Grand Dame of stupid concepts. I mean, there have been tons of dumb stuff people have purchased in the past.  Case in point:  The Pet Rock and The Finger Dance Mat.

pet rockfinger_dancemat

But self-inducing pain when you don’t meet a goal?  Have you ever seen a golden retriever putting up his own invisible fence?  And it’s not an opposable thumb issue either! Plus, the last I checked, we are a few steps higher on the food chain and supposedly that means we’re smarter.  Not only is this concept stupid and insulting…IT WON’T WORK!  There is no credible science-based study, qualified weight loss professional, or certified behavioral psychologist that would back this theory as a viable tool to producing sustainable changes in behaviors we don’t like about ourselves.

And here’s the icing on the cake:  Based on their website bio’s, no one on the Pavlok team is credentialed in the areas of health, weight loss, psychology or human behavior. I guess they think you won’t notice or don’t care.  Well sign me up! Everybody knows engineers, software and hardware developers are totally qualified to help people lose weight!

Hey I have an idea: let’s broaden the scope of what this baby can do. I really hate that I get up in the middle of the night because I have to go to the bathroom. How about the next time I wake up with the urge to go, I just program this gismo to “remind” me that I am completely inept at figuring out what my body needs. That’ll teach me. I mean, do I really need to go, or am I weak? Maybe somebody or something needs to straighten my ass out.

Here’s the real deal when it comes to embracing and sustaining a new healthy behavior: No external motivator, especially the kind that sends electrical currents through your body, can get you to change. We just aren’t wired that way. If you want to take on a new behavior in the name of self-improvement, you have to figure out why it’s important to you and what your reasons are for wanting to change, then connect the reason(s) to your plan of action.   Internal motivators + personal values = long lasting change. Wanting to start an exercise program or wanting to stop smoking isn’t enough. Clarifying why the redirection is important to you provides a stable foundation sturdy enough to sustain all the ups and downs, two steps forward, one step back, and difficult times that are inherent to the process of change.

Please, renew my faith in mankind.  Don’t buy this product.

Feed Me!

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image

Have you ever heard the term, “intuitive eating?”  It means exactly that.  It’s when your internal voice, that’s the intuitive part, tells your brain you’re hungry and you need fuel, then you act on the hunger by giving your body food, that’s the eating part. Intuitive eating is a bold concept because it actually suggests…brace yourself:

Your body has the ability to regulate what it needs.  Crazy talk, right?

Particularly for women, the idea of listening to your body, when it comes to what, when, and how much to eat, isn’t just a foreign concept, it’s a scary thought.  Intuitive eating is the opposite of dieting; there are no big rules, which makes women nervous when it comes to eating. In a weird way, the diet structure offers comfort and security. It’s complicated; on one hand, dieters hate food restrictions, on the other; they love not having to think. Diet plans lull us with their promise of quick and easy. I think women innately know diets don’t provide long-term success, but logic is trumped by a strong desire to lose, even when we know the results are temporary.  It’s the, “I’ll think about it tomorrow, Scarlett O’Hara mentality that prevents us from looking for the answer within.  We don’t stop to connect the dots – between our bodies and our food -because connecting dots takes too much time.

At any given point, women in our culture live in one of three worlds:  They’re either on a diet, in between diets, or just coming off a diet.  And although they’ve never ever had long-lasting results with a specific diet, or diets in general, they wouldn’t dream of giving up the baby…or the bathwater. But I say, if your body is savvy enough to keep all those intricate systems working and can regulate itself to the degree of miraculous efficiency it does, wouldn’t it stand to reason it can be trusted to give you important information about food?

Oh seekers of weight loss, don’t be afraid to trust your body and give it what it’s asking for. It’s time to step back and re-evaluate your game plan. I ask you, “Is what you’re doing now, or what you’ve done in the past, ever really worked?”  Make peace with food.  It’s not your BFF but it’s not the enemy either. I know you’re scared, but don’t be.  I’m just asking you to consider the concept of eating when you’re hungry, from a common sense angle. Start by being more aware of your body’s request for food, then go ahead and give it some. Eating when you’re hungry doesn’t mean your character is weak or you suck at willpower, it just means you and your body are aligned, simpatico.  You intrinsically know way more about what you need then magazine cover promises or celebrity diet endorsers.

To learn more about Intuitive eating and the originator of the apporach go to:

http://www.intuitiveeating.org

http://www.intuitiveeating.org/content/what-intuitive-eating

Until next time,

Peace, Scarlett O’Hara, and Your Grateful Tummy

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