"I'll start tomorrow!"
The beginning and end of most diet stories.
How about today?
How about losing the weight & freeing
your mind?
Not with another diet...
Truce with Food is a plot twist and you are the heroine.

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Phillip Larkin said most stories have a beginning, muddle and end. In jest, his muddle reference was when the story slacked in tension. This is when reader interest usually wanes.

Is your interest in healthy holiday eating waning?

If you don’t want your ending to be an extreme (panicked) detox in the new year, watch this week’s video (my first DIY attempt!) for how to get back on track while in the muddle.

Be well,
Ali

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Last week’s gentle holiday reset ideas were quite popular. So here are some detox martinis I didn’t mention, but are included in this blast from my NBC past below!

The segment includes easy strategies that will enable you to moderate your choices this season without wearing yourself out from over-thinking. Click the image below to play the video.

holiday_moderation_strategies

If you’re a wine drinker, here’s the sweet spot of low carb wines that taste good.

Stay tuned next week for an emotional anchor to prevent “moments of weakness” when those red, green and silver Hershey kisses invade your mind and swear they won’t leave until you eat “just one”.

Be well,

Ali

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So … how was your Thanksgiving? Did you experience the magic of connecting deeply over something besides food to help make better choices?

If you are craving a post-Thanksgiving (internal) house cleaning, below is a plan to get you back on track. Use this anytime during the holiday season you need a reset.

This 3-day plan provides enough flexibility for the busiest of schedules and structure to get results. Keep in mind that as your blood sugar stabilizes, you’ll most likely feel a little more blue and tired than usual. Once your “carb cloud” evaporates, generally after this reset on Day 4, you’ll feel much brighter.

1. Organize Your Plate. And don’t skimp on the fat, which should be around 250 calories! This plate break-out will help balance your blood suBloodSugarBalancedPlategar, which is critical to minimizing cravings and hunger. Here is an easy recipe idea for lunch or dinner.

 

2. Chai Tea for Sugar Withdrawal(preferably decaf if it’s after 12). Chai flavors such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and clovchai_1es provide a sustainable pick-me-up after a meal. Note: most commercial chai teas have tons of added sugar so use the loose leaf chai tea. Here are some great choices.

 

3. Get Nine Hours of Sleep. This is especially important on Day 3 when you are most likely to feel fatigued from carb withdrawal. A nap gets you extra-credit!

 

4. Drink Cranberry Juice. 2 ounces of cranberry juice (no sugar added) with 6 ounces of filtered water once or twice a day to flush out any lingering bloat; Trader Joe’s, Wholejuicecircle_1 Foods or local natural foods stores carry the no-sugar added cranberry juice.

 

5. Eliminate sugar (this includes wine, refined flours, etc.). Here are two easy ideas to satisfy any sweet tooth.

 

Remember that your health is a spiral staircase. Use this 3-day reset not as a way to “undo” your food choices to punish yourself, but instead as a celebration of things looking up (i.e. going up the spiral staircase again) as a by-product of feeling great again.

Be well,

Ali

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In a previous Truce with Food round, a client I’ll call Veronica shared how she was succeeding at her goal, which was to eat less sugar.

She told us that in sharing her success with her best friend, her best friend replied,

“Oh no! I hope we are still going to be able to eat our favorite pumpkin spice cupcakes together when you come visit for Thanksgiving!”    

thanksgivingpostVeronica astutely concluded,

“I’ve become the dessert girl to my friends and family. This is an identity I created, yet I don’t necessarily want anymore. Especially since now I don’t need desserts like I used to think.”

Can you relate to having identities related to food with your family or friends? Are you the health-nut? The one always on a new diet? Or the “good” eater (at least in public)?

Is your Thanksgiving holiday going to involve navigating how you and others see yourself around food? 

The longer food has been a “thing” for you, the more food serves as a bridge of connection to others. Even if these identities feel difficult, they provide feelings of safety and groundedness we’re often starving for today. For Veronica, passing on desserts wasn’t about the desserts. This change created the risk of losing “common ground.”

Think about who you will be with over Thanksgiving: are they conversing with the present you? Or is it the you of Thanksgiving past? Are you only able to connect with Aunt Diane over food ? Do you hit on the same topics in the same ways and then go through the same eating motions?

When’s the last time you had one of those intimate soul enlivening conversations that nourished you for days? You know the ones that excite you and enable you to see life differently?

So this Thanksgiving, yes balance your blood sugar before you head out to eat. I’m a big believer in also eating the traditional foods that remind you are a part of a history greater than yourself. This is comfort to the soul. And then, create a character plot twist. Take the courageous leap to have a deeply intimate conversation with someone you trust over the holiday.

My favorite Swedish proverb notes, “Only dead fish go with the flow.” Yet rather than bringing forth a riskier identity, like not eating sugar or the side of you that is unconventional, it’s safer to go through the (self-sabotaging) motions of meeting for pumpkin cupcakes. Note: this way is safer, not easier. Nothing feels more isolating than being with someone who you should feel a deep connection with but don’t.

So this Thanksgiving, what has deep meaning to you that offers a gateway to the deep connection you crave? And I’m not talking the Facebook version of this conversation. I’m talking about “hey you’re human? So am I! My job this year kicked my ass. It’s bringing up some old issues and I’m not really sure what’s going on” or “Yes, out of nowhere, the relationship ended and it opened up all these bigger questions I’m now grappling with.” Bonus for doing this over an after-dinner walk. One deeply rich conversation can satiate you well beyond Thanksgiving leftovers.

For Veronica, she had an intimate conversation with her best friend about her Truce with Food experiences, over pumpkin spice tea. They discussed how she came to realize all the different reasons she thought she loved desserts which involved courage to own the more vulnerable parts of herself.

Their meet-up went from the normal food and body loathing fest to an empowering experience steeped in intimacy (Veronica’s honesty gave her friend permission to open about similar issues that were flaring up in her life).

Veronica was amazed at how that one change created a ripple effect in solidifying that she wasn’t really a desserts girl and it also inspired her to have more meaningful conversations with her in-laws during Thanksgiving. Oh and yes, she ate the best she ever had during the holiday.

So this year, challenge yourself to surrender. Open yourself up to a new chapter in your own story about yourself, food and the metaphorical nature of what’s eating you. Observe your food thoughts and choices when you deeply connect over something besides food. See how you can circumvent the traditional downward eating spiral not with more mental gymnastics but rather, more heart.

To heart-felt traditions,

Ali

P.S. I talked about this in much more depth in a radio interview last night. You can listen here.

 

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Did Halloween (candy) send you in a downward spiral?

Have you ever had one of those days where you told yourself “just one” homemade chocolate chip cookie wouldn’t matter? Yet it led to eating the leftover Halloween Reese’s Cups in the work kitchen to munching on pretzels all afternoon?

A client I’ll call Rebecca came to see me last week. She was in a slight panic that she was sliding backward on her progress. After taking Truce with Food, she’s been eating and exercising really well for about a year. While she hadn’t “reverted back to all my old bad habits, I am frantically eating while preparing dinner. Again.” She thought she was “over that.”

Here’s how I coached Rebecca to work through this habit.

Photo Credit: Jinny Puthussery

Photo Credit: Jinny Puthussery

To start, we flipped the metaphor from a downward spiral to a spiral staircase.

You have the choice to see “bad” habits as an opportunity to travel upward, seeing yourself and habits from a new angle that will more deeply reveal why you self-sabotage.

Rebecca is in the big league of cravings. She understands blood sugar and the stories that when she trips upon like landmines, trigger her to overeat.

I asked Rebecca what changed in her life (note: not her plate) when this habit returned. She said the novel she’s been working on was well-received by an agent. In fact, the agent read several pages and wants to see more.

Exciting, right?

Let’s look deeper.

When we discussed the process involved in securing an agent and then publishing her writing for public consumption, Rebecca was excited and unsettled by the inherent vulnerability in each step of the potential process along the way. The agent might not like the entire novel. There would be criticism, albeit constructive, inherent to the writing process. If it does get published, what criticism will she receive from the public? Could she handle it? What will all this mean about her as a writer?

I helped Rebecca see she wasn’t regressing around her food habits. Rather, while walking up her spiral staircase, she tripped on a detail of one of her stories around her writing career.

Her psyche (and yours) is always trying to heal. Her “bad” habit was a symptom and a metaphor to ground her into feeling relief from the unsettling feelings in one of her dis-eased stories.

Rebecca and I discussed Tara Mohr’s Playing Big book, which reminds us that all women doing substantive work will receive criticism. And that the criticism tells us about the person providing feedback, not the work itself. We also got clear on why Rebecca chose to become a writer (she left a lucrative career to pursue her writing). Writing feeds her imagination. The meaning in the creative process fulfills her. She realized these reasons are independent of the outcomes along the way.

Connecting her eating to a personal story of hers now up for revision, Rebecca chose to consciously and courageously walk up her spiral staircase of wellness by working to embody a new story around her writing career

Rather than any eating tweaks, we created rituals to proactively ground Rebecca. One ritual included adding a green smoothie and music to dinner preparation.

We also created a ritualistic boundary around her writing time. Rebecca is now ending her writing time 15 minutes early to be able to calmly walk to get her kids at school. Before she was always debating whether to work up to the last minute, should she drive, and the mental back and forth made her feel scattered.

Both these rituals create comfort and safety during such a transformational time, for both her career and her psyche.

If “bad” habits have suddenly returned to your life, look to what has emotionally changed for you. What rituals will enable you to not talk yourself out of your feelings but rather, witness them (that’s all your feelings crave)? Can you allow your feelings to have their moment? Like a good cleansing rain, they are making way for the sun to gloriously return.

A spiral staircase is the metaphor I use all the time for health and weight-loss. We never arrive at perfect health or eating. What is the best healthy next step will change. However, being willing to see things from new angles promises to take you to the views that are the most breathtaking.

To new angles, insights and awe,

Ali

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Pooped by Montine Rummel

Pooped by Montine Rummel

When talking about new health starts (or reboots) last week, I discussed the importance of blood sugar control in feeling like you have “willpower.”

Willpower comes from physically having energy or glucose in your body to take action. What a dark joke life tells when you’re in food hell: You have to eat to have willpower to skip the chocolates or dessert.

Life likes fighting fire with fire…or maybe life never wanted you fighting food at all (wink).

But I digress…

Prior to our work together, my coaching clients try to rely solely on motivation to lose weight or eat well. They feel success requires a “gearing up” of sorts. I know in my dieting days if something was easy, I ignored it because I thought it meant the scale would shame me.

But as it turns out, making healthy choices is a lifetime process. There is no possible way to carry all your gear (shame, self-criticism, food monitoring, etc.) beyond a few weeks, max, if you have a strained relationship with food.

So another energy source is required.

Call on inspiration. Relaxation. Joy. Choose whatever emotional energy source that brings you to life. One that is endlessly renewable to you. Hint: it’s usually a value like curiosity, beauty, or connection.

Then pair this feeling with a current habit you’re trying to incorporate.

For example, I’m trying to be more active in my life. Curiosity and love of learning is a core value of mine. So I turned to iTunes and found a podcast I love. While walking to work and in the evening after dinner, the centering and grounding of Tami Simon blocks out the chaos of city living as I listen in on her asking brilliant questions to brilliant people. I actually found myself adding extra blocks to walk on my way home from work just to finish an episode. These shows are curiosity sustenance for me. Curiosity is a renewable resource in my life. Being more active then requires no willpower on my end.

Here are some other examples:

  • Need more sleep? Find a great novel that you can’t wait to return to and gets you in bed earlier.
  • Hope to cook more? Have friends or family over to cook together. Or if that is a scheduling hassle in the making, choose friends who will each make a different dish, increase the portion sizes based on how many people are participating and then agree to meet over coffee (or a walk!) to exchange the meals so you have more meal variety.
Yoga room at Mama's Wellness Joint (11th and Pine).

Yoga room at Mama’s Wellness Joint (11th and Pine).

  • Want to work out more? Pick a place that has a beautiful environment that makes you feel nurtured, not tortured. I love Mama’s Wellness Joint, one of the calmest yoga space in Philly (and yoga to match!).
  • Need a creative outlet? Start with a small, fun project like a coloring book (Stress reduction is a side benefit!). Treat yourself to going to a craft or store you love and pick out the best materials. And give yourself time to wander if that feeds your soul.

You know how if you just get started, say getting food out on the counter to cook or walking for five minutes, you’ll go all the way in making the meal or completing your 3-mile jog? Well, adding in your deeper wants with habits you want to start will build the bridge from knowing to doing.

Lasting willpower is about not needing it nearly as much and restoring your other emotional energy sources! Instead, rely on the habits that draw upon your own renewable resources. I’d love to hear what ideas you have found that keep you showing up for the healthy habits in your life. Please share with me in the comments section.

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