"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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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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Do you love fresh starts?

I know I do.

Whether it’s the Jewish New Year, a course you just enrolled in, or the promise of a new day, it’s fun to feel like there’s possibilities.

Yet ironically, we often celebrate these new starts with simple carbohydrates (like bagels) that perpetuate blood sugar spikes. Then without knowing it, we’ve strapped into an all-day roller-coaster of nearly impossible to satiate cravings while we struggle to balance our blood sugar. We think we lack willpower, when it’s primarily a matter of physiology.

bdaycard

The birthday card my sister gave me last week!

And we haven’t even addressed the guilt and shame that are so often side effects of these cravings. Cue the endless cycle of bingeing and deprivation.

Which then leads to the craving for another fresh start!

So, what to do?

One way you can really start nutritionally anew each day is to focus on a blood-sugar-balanced breakfast. If you are the grab-and-go or swing-by- Starbucks kind of gal, remember that just a little bit of preparation the night before will go a looooong way (and ultimately save you time and money). Also, you’ll stay motivated when you feel how what you eat at breakfast levels out your cravings and hunger for the entire day.

When my clients deeply understand (and experience) how to flatten out the peaks and valleys of their blood sugar—physiologically and emotionally—they realize they are the king of person who can “control” their cravings and hunger.

While clients are working through the process above, I love to give “bridge” food ideas that are healthier both physically and emotionally. Physically, the recipes below are higher in protein and fat while being lower in carbs to keep blood sugar stable. Emotionally, it’s all about not feeling deprived since you have more options and so a greater sense of freedom around food. It’s amazing how when we know we can have a certain food, it doesn’t hold quite the allure as when it’s forbidden.

Here is my curated list of better breakfast breads:

Paleo Bagels Elana’s Pantry

Paleo Cinnamon Raisin Bagels Beauty and the Foodie

Mikey’s English Muffins For those of you with no time to cook in need of portable breakfast bread

In order to not feel hungry until lunch, I recommend layering a healthy fat like almond butter or avocado on these breads.

To fresh starts that turn into fresh endings (not crashes)!

Be well,

Ali

P.S. Last year, I attended the Emerging Women conference and found a rare type of inspiration. It was one rooted in wisdom, calm and learning to embrace uncertainty. You can view the conference, happening this Thursday-Sunday for free, online here. Hear trailblazers Eve Ensler, Arianna Huffington, Sera Beak and more talk about how embracing their femininity lead to a life rich with meaning, purpose and vitality.

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Below are three success stories from the incredible women in the Truce with Food program (click here and scroll to the bottom for many more). Enrollment runs through September 29.

Fed up with fad diets, point counting, and other coaching programs that only scratched the surface when it came to my food sensitivities and emotional eating triggers, I embarked on Truce with Food. Best. Decision. Ever. Truce with Food, and Ali’s positive, “isn’t that interesting, tell me more” attitude allowed me to find a new level of “here’s how I can become more comfortable in my own skin…”—Elizabeth

I took Truce with Food because I was so sick of stressing out about food and weight. I got so much out of it! I did the emotional work and feel emotionally lighter. I’m able to stop negative thought patterns quickly. I know it’s not about the food for me. I don’t see certain foods as “bad” anymore and I don’t feel guilty when I eat them (which leads to me eating less of them)….—MS

I took Truce with Food to find peace within myself around not only food, but all that food represents—emotions, safety, and peace. I learned how to identify and ‘tone down’ my inner critic—especially in social situations that would trigger me to over drink or eat the wrong foods for my body. As a result, I reclaimed my own definition of beauty and found a sense of calm that I never had before…—TB

Diets or any nutritional philosophy like Paleo or even functional medicine nutritional recommendations fail for many reasons, but mainly because they don’t address the deeper stories guiding our behaviors. These stories often have nothing to do with food and yet we turn to food to comfort us when we are emotionally triggered by these stories.

One deeply worn story I hear from women who have repeatedly tried to lose weight (or struggle with their relationship to food) is some variation of the question: “Can you fix me?”

“No. Because you are not broken,” I reply.

I know however, that feeling this truth, or any new story, takes more than just thinking differently.

It takes revising your stories with proven coaching tools.

One foundation for revising these stories is by exploring the concept of growth mindset. Coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, this strategy focuses on rewarding yourself for effort versus outcome to paradoxically exceed your goals.

With food, this means replacing judgment with curiosity. Instead of beating yourself up, you learn to ask the right questions to figure out why you did what you did. You know where to look —beyond your plate —to what is sabotaging you. And when you succeed? You’ll know what worked.

Over time and with the coaching tools in Truce with Food, my client “Cindy” (whom we’ve been following over the last two posts) discovered much of her secret eating during the last two weeks of her menstrual cycle came from resisting feeling “emotional.” She had a story about what “weak” meant and looked like. In short, she felt bad for feeling bad! She closed off this side of herself from the people she needed the most.

The solution: She expressed her needs to her loved ones. She didn’t just intellectually nod to vulnerability, she embodied it after understanding what tools and new behaviors would help her change her story. And when she needed the courage and support, she had me and the other strong women in our group on standby.

For you: Next time you self-sabotage, tell yourself you haven’t figured this out…YET!  Adding “yet” shifts you onto a learning (not punishment) curve that will serve as the bridge to get you from where you are to where you want to be. In growth mindset, you are never “broken” unless you stop learning.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to growth mindset. If you’re intrigued, check out the first lesson of Truce with Food: Digest your Food and Weight Loss with Grace and Growth Mindset for FREE! by signing up here.

I’d love to guide you in greeting 2015 not just with hope, but evidence, that life can be genuinely different for you around food and weight loss.

Remember, you weren’t put on this earth to diet.

Are you ready to take flight into a lighter life?

Be well,

Ali

p.s. check out the Truce With Food trailer here.

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Truce With Food enrollment is underway. Visit the new program page for the in-depth story of how Truce evolved along with my own struggles (and training) and to explore whether this approach is a good fit for you. Once there, you’ll read of other women’s successes and see a detailed breakdown of the content covered over four months.

In my last post, I introduced you to a past Truce participant “Cindy” and how she rebooted her mindset on a nutritional level, by finding one of the culprits in her diet. She tailored her nutritional choices to target her PMS, one of the stumbling blocks to her desired weight loss and peace of mind around food. Over time, these “small” changes consistently applied provided her with more energy and better moods. She told me excitedly that she was now going to take her workouts “up a notch.”

The question is: What does “up a notch” look like?

Trainer: Context Is Everything.

Most people hire trainers for accountability. Yet many trainers ignore context: Your body is a machine and they’re the mechanics.

Cindy had a demanding job. She was constantly “on.” Despite being exhausted—especially during the last two weeks of her menstrual cycle—she would force herself into an intense workout of either miles on the treadmill or bootcamp classes. The last two weeks of women’s menstrual cycles are a time for more restorative movement like walks, Pilates, yoga or barre-type classes that focus on diaphragm breathing. This is a time to work smart, not hard.

Physiologically, the excess cardio further aggravated her blood sugar, a root cause of PMS. Psychologically, exercise became punishment for bad food choices. But then those same “bad” food choices became a (secret) reward for exercising. 

Rather than “gearing up,”  Cindy needed to honor the rhythmn of her body to stay motivated. This leap of faith got her out of “pushing through for better results” trenches that pervades mainstream exercise advice. The whole “no pain, no gain” philosophy is both trite and not true.

Her reward for taking the risk? She found her PMS symptoms got even better. The weeks when her energy was up, she was able to improve her performance because she wasn’t burnt out from overriding her body’s messages and hormonal fluctuations. Her “bad” eating also became mostly nonexistent because her body didn’t feel attacked (and thus she didn’t look to food as a surrogate for comfort).

For you: Do you need lighter workouts like yoga and walking to help your body heal? Are you integrating movement to match your own body’s rhthym? Are you bored? Need a new exercise routine or creative outlet? Contextualize what’s right for you at this moment.

I’ll be back in your inbox shortly to tell you how to reboot the whole “I know what I should be doing, but I’m not doing it” frustration.

If you’d like to discover the linchpin to the rebooted mindset now, rather than waiting for the next email in this series, check out the first lesson of Truce with Food: Digest your Food and Weight Loss with Grace and Growth Mindset for FREE! by signing up here. I’m a teacher at heart and I’m so excited for you to learn about this out-of-the-box way to think and feel about weight loss. Clients always feel immediately relieved with the one word tool I share in this lesson.

Be well,

Ali

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banner_final_web Truce With Food  enrollment begins TODAY. Visit the new program page for the deeper story of how Truce evolved along with my own struggles (and training) and to see if this approach is a good fit for you. Once there, you’ll read about other women’s successes and see a detailed breakdown of the content covered over the four months.

Best of all, you can experience the first lesson right now for FREE. Download the first lesson, Digest your Food and Weight Loss with Grace and Growth Mindset by subscribing here

“The week before my period. For. Get. It. Chips. Chocolate. Fries! Working out? Blah. I know what I should do. But I don’t do it. I have no clue why.”

This was what one of my Truce With Food participants, we’ll call her Cindy, shares in the early weeks of the program. Her tone is confessional, weighed down by shame, sadness, and frustration.

Cindy has been conditioned to expect more confusing nutrition facts, a detox, or to be prescribed yet another strict diet—this is what she expects from me: The Authority.

But what Cindy needs is not more information, she needs more understanding. She needs to learn a process for lasting changes.

Veteran dieters like Cindy equate the fall season with a second New Year. Another chance to “get it right.” And yet, lasting results? Elusive. Willpower? Most burn through reserves in two weeks.

While Paleo, Weight Watchers, and South Beach may look different on the surface, they’re all fueled by the same sabotaging engine: a mindset of restriction and vigilance around food (which only serves to feed the dieting-shame cycle in the long-run). Eventual failure is calculated into nearly all dieting plans, and while they claim to come from different places, they’re all using the same formula. The worst part? Every time you try something else that doesn’t work, there’s more to unlearn. Yes, the baggage piles up.

What you need is not a new plan with false promises.

A multi-pronged approach that honors process is the first step in rebooting your weight loss mindset. A client once described me as the Swiss Army knife of wellness, “You’re like having a nutritionist, trainer, and psychologist in my back pocket!”

Over the course of the next three emails, I’ll show you what to focus on at each level to begin rebooting how you view nutrition, weight loss, and yourself.

Nutritionist: Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy.

Many women believe PMS just comes with the territory. But you can drastically lessen or eliminate “symptoms” when you learn to eat and exercise with your body’s rhythms. As it turns out, what Cindy thought she “should” eat was actually aggravating her condition. This happens to most of my clients who are struggling with fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and lots of cravings.

One culprit for Cindy: Luna bars. The soy protein isolate in these added excess estrogen, aggravating her PMS. We swapped in KIND bars and homemade trail mix containing nuts. One root cause of PMS is deregulated blood sugar; the real fat from nuts served to stabilize this.

Cindy didn’t need a complicated plan, she needed to get back to basics with real whole foods. Many of my clients think they need to “gear up” (which feels like tension and anxiety in the body) and make dramatic food changes for results. But lasting change is paradoxical. To go fast, go slowly. That is, seemingly “small” changes over the long-term have been proven to be more effective (we go deeply into why this is in the program).

Soon, Cindy’s symptoms and period week no longer caused her such distress. And, her cravings and moods improved! Because she felt these shifts internally—and wasn’t chastised by some plan or authority figure—her motivation to stick with these changes lasted.

For you: Start with one meal you normally eat out of a box, outside the home or have a “bar” instead of real food. Add in more whole foods to crowd out processed ones (no packages). Eggs with the yolks. Full-fat yogurt. Vegetables. Fruits. You know, the perimeter of your grocery store. Cringed reading the words “full-fat”? You’re not alone. In my program, I dispel nutrition myths keeping you right where the food companies (and the diet industry) want you.

So what happens with many women—before enrolling in Truce With Food—is they get on a roll. They are feeling significantly better. And then bam! They lose their motivation. Sometimes it’s for a meal here or there, sometimes it’s during an extended period of stress.

I’ll be back in your inbox shortly to tell you how to reboot your idea of motivation.

If you’d like to discover the linchpin to the rebooted mindset now, rather than waiting for the third email in this series, check out the first lesson of Truce with Food: Digest your Food and Weight Loss with Grace and Growth Mindset for FREE! here. I’m a teacher at heart and I’m so excited for you to learn about this out-of-the-box way to think and feel about weight loss. Clients always feel immediately relieved with the one word tool I share in this lesson.

Thanks again for being a valued subscriber to my list. You are the reason I do the work I do.

Be well,

Ali

p.s. If you have a friend or family member who you know could use a fresh approach to nutrition, please have them sign-up here to receive the first free lesson of Truce with Food. I’d greatly appreciate it!

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