Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Easter Confessions: How the Old You Will Help Your New You Avoid Jelly Beans and other Temptations

I have a confession to make. If given the opportunity, I would buy every single bag of Starburst Jelly Beans available. I would carry them home, well most likely cart them home in a shopping cart, fill my bathtub with them, and eat them by the handful until I threw up. Then, I’d drink a glass of water and go back for more. I am not ashamed to say that I cannot purchase a full bag of them, or 30 seconds later I will have an empty bag. It is for this reason, that I usually go the entire Easter season without eating a single one, and then sometime at the end of April, find the last discount bag and devour it before my brain understands what is happening. I’m not a religious person, but I’d bet money that Jesus actually died so someone could invent Starburst Jelly Beans.

Every year, no matter how dedicated and fit I am, the same thing happens. Sure. I could buy a bag and eat 1 serving. But that would require me to actually control myself from eating the entire bag and then going back to the store the next day and buying another full bag and continuing that cycle until I single handedly eat NYC clean of these delicious little Jelly Bean treats. This year, on Feb 15th when the Easter candy rolled out, I started to cringe. I know I don’t typically talk about my own habits, but I also haven’t written in 4 months and I’m acting like that isn’t the case, so I’ll tell you a little bit extra as my olive branch and apology for my long absence. I eat a very clean diet, ever since I was a kid I’ve preferred plain food, and I’m not really into sweets. I’ve always been a sandwich girl over a candy girl, and, it surprises me that I love these so much. I can go ages without pizza, or chips or other carbs that I enjoy but don’t eat frequently because they don’t match up with my wellness goals. I can buy a bag of chips and eat it over a period of 2 weeks if I want. But I cannot, probably even at gun point, exhibit one shred of self-control around Starburst Jelly Beans, try as I might. I’d actually have better luck attempting to build a working watch from an old tire and some glue, then I would at attempting to only eat ¼ cup of these Jelly Beans from the bag, and not going back to my cabinet a solid 3 seconds later, dislocating my jaw and finishing off the bag without even chewing,

 To be clear, I love fruit, I love veggies, if you give me 3 minutes and a watermelon, you’ll be shocked and maybe even disgusted at what I can accomplish; I really love my clean eating. But even though I’ve always eaten balanced and fairly healthy, I wasn’t always so clean and I know what treats I like. Jelly Bean season makes me realize that one of the biggest reasons our New Year’s resolutions, and not just or health and wellness ones, tend to fail by spring, is that we don't acknowledge what has made us fail in the past. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about marketing, but December through January we are bombarded with images of sexy, naked, toned, muscular dream bodies. We can’t go a minute without hearing “New Year, New You.” Ah. How nice it would be if just because it was 2015 I stopped loving Jelly Beans and started craving kale. The reason our New Year’s resolutions fail, or taper off, has a lot to do with thinking that we can dismiss the “old us” to become the “new us,” that gyms, diet plans and various businesses have promised us.

 I know you can trust me around a full bag of Starburst Jelly beans about as much as you can trust a kidnapper in an unattended nursery. Just because Jelly Beans are not clean, and might not fit into my meal plan that day, it really won't stop me once I've found them and decided I want them. Try explaining that to me when my hand hits the bag, my eyes glaze over and I start eating. Good luck communicating to me over the sound of my chewing. But you might have another issue. You might understand what I am talking about. Maybe its not a food that you can't control yourself around, or maybe you do not like working out, you might not like tracking food, or you might get discouraged the second you stop seeing progress. By March the thrill of starting something new has worn off and now, we fall into our old habits. Some reasons our wellness plans fail are diet and fitness related, but some reasons are personal traits that may carry over in all aspects of our lives. By starting anything with a mindset of being a whole new person, you are discounting not only what makes you unique, but also your strengths and weaknesses. If in the past every April I gain 5 pounds from jelly beans step on the scale, get upset and then give up, it is pattern. If I begin this year acting like the Starburst plant will have a fire and won’t release Jelly Beans, I’m not being realistic. I need to know what is coming up. I need to have a plan that incorporates my strengths as an individual to make sure, this year really is the year I stick with my goals.

This year, I have been lucky enough to find single serving bags. Duane Reade sells them at the friendly price of 2 for a dollar. My diet works by me having a certain amount of protein, carbs and fat at various times of day based on my activities. It provides for a lot of flexibility, and basically, I can eat whatever I’d like, in moderation, as long as the numbers match up. My preference is usually unprocessed, whole foods. But, when I want to have these, I will. I have learned that depriving myself of them only makes it worse. I have tried to replace the urge, and am successful 98% of the time. In the case of Jelly Beans, I look at the composition, they are sugar and carbs, so when I see them and I want them, but I am not allowing them that day, I try to recreate them, maybe some fruit and a yogurt, which are also sugars and carbs, just better ones than Jelly beans to help satisfy that craving. Sometimes, I will get the jelly beans, but know that after one serving I will not want to stop. I will try to pair them with fruit and a yogurt, instead of replacing them, so that way I get them, but also balance them with protein and actual nutrients. I tend to eat the Jelly beans first, and then erase the taste of them from my mind with the healthy option. This plan does not always work.
I know the warning signs of caving to craving. Late night and tired equals low ability to say no. Lucky for me I usually find myself in Duane Reade around 11pm. For a while I couldn’t be trusted with the 2 for 1 deal. The first time I saw it I said to myself, "Just get the two bags, and save one for later in the week." Well what happened is I ate one bag on my way home, and the second when I got home. I managed to convince myself the first bag didn’t count because I was eating as I was walking, burn it while ya earn it… ya know? No. That’s actually not the case and maybe doing that once was okay, because as I’ve said we all have off days. But, now I had a problem. I had gotten the taste of hem, and I knew where I could buy them, in portions that aren't actually going to ruin my meal plan. I took a harm reduction approach; I’m not eating 1 whole bag, I’m eating 2 small bags to justify this choice about 2 more times. At the same time, I realized this was becoming an unhealthy habit. I really don't like to eat any sugars, even fruit, in the evening. Additionally, if I was becoming the relaxed with my meal plan, it was only a matter of time before I bought a whole bag. Also, by the time id finish the 2nd bag, I was not that happy. I felt disappointed in myself, physically since I don't eat sugar, the effect was that I'd feel sick. I know I could just avoid them altogether, but really, I want to be able to enjoy things in moderation and not act like a starved mountain lion every time I am around a treat I like.  

My allowance of Jelly beans does not always look as pretty as me nibbling a jelly bean with a full bowl of yogurt and berries at noon. It’s usually pretty ugly. Usually, I realize I want them at 10:00pm, when I wouldn’t usually have sugars or carbs, but I’m in the store, I see them, and I cannot stop. 2 for 1 dollar! Single Serve! What a bargain! What a Find! I basically become a used car sales man in the candy aisle of the 24 hour Duane Reade.  My goal, is to be able to enjoy them in moderation, and actually employ the technique of replacing the craving or, having the Jelly beans with a yogurt and moving on. I took a good hard look at myself and realized, 1 bag is fine. If every couple of weeks I want 1 serving of jelly beans, I can allow that. I challenged myself. I bought the 2 bags, made it home, and left the second bag on my counter. It was there if I needed it, but I also know one of my strengths is endurance, and I was going to endure temptation. I had met all of my requirements for the day, and I had a choice to make, I could be accountable and let myself have 1 serving, staying within my calories and carbs, or I could eat the second bag. I know that when that happens, I feel guilty, I feel discouraged, I feel sick. So I ate something else, some sugar snap peas, also a carb, also a little sweet as far as veggies go, but a much better option, and I was fine. Had I not acknowledged that having these around was tempting, or negative for me, I would have eaten them… as I had the last 3 times I bought them. Luckily this is not an everyday occurrence,   but it happens none the less, and now, after a month of avoiding Duane Reade, I am prepared. I knew that my usual actions were: buy two bags, eat one and pretend I didn’t, then eat the second one, feel guilty, feel discouraged, and feel sick, even though the actual eating is pleasurable. So my change had to be to cut out one bag, and then replace the second bag with something else. I kept in mind my weakness, but also my strengths. These are not new, they are a part of who I am, and who I’ve always been, and for that reason, I can utilize my old me as I work towards a better me, not a new me.

Steps you may take for overcoming your own personal barriers could look like this:

1.       Identify your weakness and how it has gotten in the way of your success in the past.

2.       Identify how you feel after you’re weakness has been made apparent

3.       Identify your strengths you can use to overcome it.

4.       Create a plan.

5.       Enact that plan as many times as necessary until you are successful. Accomplishing goal is not about having a 100% success rate, it’s about understanding defeat, learning from it, and moving forward until you’ve reached your goal.


While I might strive to always have balance and clean eating habits that is not always the case. We have to acknowledge not only our goals, but what our barriers to reaching them are in order to successfully overcome them. We need to appreciate who we are and what we bring to the table. Even if what we are bringing to the table is 20 pounds of Jelly Beans. Finding progress and success is not about becoming whole new people, it is about becoming better versions of ourselves and you can’t become a better version of yourself without acknowledging what needs some work and what needs some nourishment.

 *I do not recommend replacing any actual nutrients with Jelly Beans, but if you’re going to I highly suggest Starburst brand, and you can feel free to share with me.

** Also, Jelly Beans are capitalized here to imply Starburst Jelly Beans. I don't care about any other jelly bean.


Monday, November 10, 2014

How to be a 1997 Honda Accord Who Feels like A Brand New Chevy

I'm going to get serious here today, well you know as serious as I am capable of getting. Have you ever borrowed someone's car?  You go to the grocery store, park it, do your shopping, come out, and then you're trying to find your car and you can't. It's not because you don't remember where you parked, or because you were in the grocery store for 47 days, or because it was stolen, but because you're not looking for your friends car, you're looking for your car. When you finally remember that you didn't drive your 1997 Honda Accord to Shop Rite, but your BFF's 2014 Chevy Volt, you laugh to yourself and go along your merry way.

In the same way, when we change our bodies, either by losing weight, gaining muscle, or both, we sometimes keep expecting to see our old 1997 Honda in the parking lot instead of a shiny new Chevy. You've made a change, and when you look in the mirror, or clothes on the rack at the store, you are not used to your new body, but instead the body you were comfortable with for so long. Even when weight loss or muscle gain takes place over time, there is a tendency for individuals to see ourselves as our previous body. Either the "Skinny," "Fat," "Lean" or "Weak" person that we no longer are. It is the image that is being held in our minds of what we expect to see when we look in the mirror. We have not fully committed the new us to our mental imagery of what we look like in our minds.

Body image is a huge factor in our overall mental and physical health. One of the main issues many men and women have is that even though they are a nice shiny car, they see themselves as a beater car that wouldn't even make it around the block twice. And while I'm trying to be serious here, that sounds like a sexual innuendo, which is also going to segue into the sexual innuendo I actually was planning to make. When we look good, and feel good, we tend to give that off to people, people can sense confidence and respond to it. Sometimes it doesn't matter if you are a 1997 Honda with multi-color doors and half a fender. If the car knows it's worth and can say, "Yeah, I need some work, maybe a paint job, but I've done a hell of a job, look at me, it's 2014 and my engines still purring like a kitten, plus I get great mileage," then, he's going to get a lot more rides then the brand new Chevy, pouting in the parking lot thinking, "Well I'm only a Volt, not a Camaro."

Whether you can bench press an army tank, or you've lost 15 pounds, your body is subjective to your own biases and criticisms. Many times, we like our old Honda, we are comfortable with it. We know how to handle it, how long we have when the tank says empty until it is actually empty, if it really can fit between those two school buses. It's been with us for so many years. We really do love it. But when we compare it to all the other cars on the road, we get a little insecure, "I can never pick my date up in this car, she'll think I'm poor." "My car is rounded and all the newer cars are more squared, everyone can tell it's old." But there really is nothing wrong with your car in your mind, other then it's just not as good as everyone else's car. When we view our bodies in comparison to others, we will probably never be happy with it. We will always be able to find someone who can bench press an Army tank WITH 5 soldiers on it. Someone with an 8 pack, someone who is a size zero but still has boobs, someone with a nicer ass, someone who lost weight more quickly, someone with no cellulite, someone with bigger muscles... the list goes on and on. Chances are, that person is sitting around looking at someone else's body that they wish they had. It really is a never ending cycle, the important part is to appreciate and love yourself every step of the way.

As I mentioned, the hardest part about really appreciating our hard work, is our own inability to see it. It's like, you just got a new paint job for the Honda, but all you can focus on is the small ding in the door you couldn't afford to get removed yet. Everyone else may be saying, "The car looks great," and you may respond, "well yeah but there is still a dent in the door, I don't know when I'll be able to get that out." Does this sound familiar? "Oh you look great, what have you been doing?" "Oh well I started lifting but I still don't think my biceps are where they should be yet." "Well I'm on this diet and exercise plan, but I still have to lose 20 pounds."

It is important  to restructure your mind, to teach it what the new you actually looks like, and to also help you appreciate your hard work and your new body, even if it's still a work in progress. Here are five-small steps you can begin taking immediately to help yourself appreciate all of your hard work, and see your new and changing self.

1. Set small goals and really celebrate them.

... maybe not with cake, but with other rewards. A dollar every 5 times you make it to the gym, a new shirt every time you stay on your plan for a month.

If you can do something physically you couldn't do before, or if you fit into a size you never dreamed possible, that is not something to just brush off. You accomplished that. You personally fed yourself, worked out, put in the time and the work. You struggled. You sacrificed. So when you reach small mile stones, celebrate them! It will help you keep track of the small changes along a larger journey, that way, it doesn't feel like one day you just woke up and everything was different. You can look back and say "Oh I remember when I had a goodbye party for my size 12 pants!"

2.Try on old clothes that used to fit.

Many of us, as we gain, or lose weight, will hold onto old items. Above I mentioned having a goodbye party for your bigger (or smaller clothes if gaining mass and muscle is your goal). This is actually a legitimate idea. When we hold onto older clothes we are giving ourselves permission to fit back into them, "Well I lost 20 pounds but I'll keep these pants just in case I need them." Have some good friends over and try on clothes ask their opinion, are they too big? Do you look like you could be homeless? Donate them.

Have a nice big Goodwill donation party. Anything that is still too small that you've been holding on to as a goal to fit into, keep that and try it on again next month. Watch yourself start to fit back into these old clothes; it will help you appreciate your changing body. If you never had a smaller (or bigger!) body, buy an item from goodwill that is a full size different from where you are now. Try it on weekly and watch how your body fits it differently. Having this constant visual will allow your mind to process your changing body, while at the same time help you to appreciate your work.

3. Take progress pictures

It's the same idea as trying on your old clothes, but this is a visual that you will have to hold on and to look at. You can compare these pictures side by side. Look at your transformation. Take it in. You can see that even if you didn't lose weight, your body looks different, many times as we workout we may be losing fat but not weight, pictures are the perfect way to see changes in our body that are not showing up on the scale.

4. Try on (and even buy!) new clothes

If you don't want to spend money on a bunch of new clothes before you reach your goal, that is understandable, however, chances are you will need new clothes. The better you look, the better you feel. If you are now a size 8 and you're rocking size 16 pants with a belt and your dads sweater, you aren't going to feel like the sexy beast you are. Buy a few essential items from lower cost stores like Old Navy or H&M until you feel you're at a size that that you can commit to a full wardrobe. If you don't want to do that, at least regularly go try on clothes to see how things fit and what size you would be if you were going to buy clothes. It helps to have a number to hold onto, "Oh I used to need a 14 here and now I am a 10." If you keep putting on your 14's, then you don't realize that you are a 10, but close to an 8. You might not see how much progress you are making because you still see yourself as a size 14.

5. Allow people to compliment you

It can be very hard to let others acknowledge our appearance. This seems odd, right? Here we are hanging out putting all of this work in, trying to be that guy at the gym, or that girl on Instagram, but when any of our work is acknowledged, we freeze. When someone compliments you, it may be your natural instinct to deflect this. However, try this. Just say thank you. "You look great." "Thank you." If that person says more, then maybe you will say more, however, usually there is no need. For many of us that have a hard time receiving compliments, it has to do with our difficulty accepting that we have anything to do with what is being complimented, or that what we have done is not good enough. When it comes to your progress, maybe there is a certain feeling of self consciousness, but remember, you did all of this work, embrace yourself, and let others tell you they notice. Thank them for noticing, and then pat yourself on the back, because they are saying, "Hey I notice you put in a lot of work and it's paying off, good job!" And, why wouldn't you want to take credit for that and allow someone to acknowledge it?

The real take home message of this whole post, is that for some of us, whatever fitness journey we are on, may come with difficulty acknowledging and accepting our changes.  The problem with this, is that if you keep expecting to see a beat up old Honda in your parking space, eventually you will see a beat up old Honda in your parking space. If you've worked hard and you fixed up that Accord, got her shiny and looking new, treat her like the dime she is. I'm not saying be that asshole who parks on a diagonal or anything, but respect the changes, don't park her near the cart corral. In the same way, buy the new jeans, get rid of the old ones, tell yourself you look great, don't worry about what isn't perfect, just focus on doing your best, and when others acknowledge your work, let them! And for all of you who feel that my blog is more relatable for females, I just made the perfect automobile analogy so I think we can acknowledge my personal growth there. Thanks in advance. I'll be looking forward to your praise.


Monday, October 20, 2014

This Post is a Recipe for Success.... Just Kidding- I Don't Cook.

Sometimes, I like to imagine that I will go to sleep and wake up as person who gets some kind of enjoyment out of cooking. It has yet to happen. To me, the very idea of sitting in my kitchen and considering flavor profiles and following instructions is enough to make me want to sob. Not just a small little innocent tear of minor discomfort, but big terrible, my soul is dying and I'll never recover from this sobs of terror and inevitable doom.

As a therapist, I am trained to not share about myself, however, with my clients, in terms of food prep, I do mention that I hate cooking. I think it's because with people who talk about their enjoyment of the process, it's hard for me to hide a visible cringe coupled with a moment of jealousy, and when people tell me that they just order takeout because they don't like cooking, I feel it's helpful to mention that I really hate cooking as well, and then work together to create a plan for the individuals meal prep style.

I was always the kid, who when the bus was on the block, was still in my underwear and looking for a shoe. For me, having my meals planned ahead and ready is not only a convenience, but a necessity. I highly recommend some sort of structured approach to your food for the week. One method is doing one day of food prep, and planning the use of that food over the next few days. If you're like me, you will make a week of food, others are concerned with things like freshness and ecoli and may opt to do every 4 days. The only thing I would like to do less than meal prep on a Thursday night, is have my kidney removed in a back alley by Ray Charles with a butter knife, and even that sounds like it might be okay, because I would get a few days off work. Now, for those of you who enjoy cooking, this is the perfect time to try out one of those new recipes you saw on Pintrest, really highlight your culinary skills. For the rest of us, here is the time to go on Pintrest and find a recipe that requires the least amount of effort and will create the most amount of meals. 3 Ingredient Chicken, feeds a family of 15. Perfect. Sign me up, there is my lunch and dinner for the week. Stalin Work Camp Chili Recipe, feeds 60,000. Even better, I'm not even going to question how this incredible secret leaked. I'm just going to potion this bad boy out into Tupperware containers and call it a year.

For this style of meal prep, most of the work comes from actually knowing in advance your nutritional requirements,  how many meals you will need and when you will need them. Let's say you have a diet of 1600 calories, you eat 3 meals a day and 2 small snacks. You are home for breakfast and dinner, so you just need to plan your lunch and 2 snacks to have with you, but since you don't have the time and or the desire to cook when you get home, you want to have that prepared as well. Start out by writing a sample day. Breakfast, Snack 1, Lunch, Snack 2, Dinner. Write what you would typically be eating, then find the calorie content. Subtract as you go along from 1600. What you will most likely find is that you aren't eating enough. Be sure to add good fats and protein at meals where you are deficient in calories, maybe even add a meal so you can be sure to hit your requirement. Basically, my mom had to have me leave my shoes in the same spot every day or I would lose them within seconds of taking them off. I had an aversion to being in shoes. This aversion as a child is similar to my adult aversion to cooking. If I know what I'm eating and it's ready to go, I'm fine all week, without it, I'm basically standing around in the morning like a helpless underdressed child looking for a shoe.

Planning ahead and making sure you are hitting your daily calories is a tedious process, I know, I get that. After you do this for one week, you will pretty much have a list of the calories in the food you eat most often, and as you go along, you'll just have to look into any new additions you make. I find it helpful, and a little OCD, to have a running excel list, in alphabetical order of foods and their nutritional information. If you don't like tracking your calories as you go through your day, having a base knowledge of the nutritional information of foods common to your diet is extremely beneficial to helping make sure you don't go too far over or under your requirements for the day. If you're not interested in being a nutritional rain man, use an app like MyFitnessPal, or Noom coach to track your meals and calories, and look up calories when you are uncertain.

Now, write out a plan for the whole week, instead of just a day. I like to plan for things I can easily mass produce without paying much attention to: chicken, hard boiled eggs, overnight oats, rice, as well as things I do not personally have to prepare in any way: yogurt, nuts, berries, raw veggies. Another way to do this is to pick recipes you want to try, and then shop for them in addition to the basics on your list. That way as you prepare new recipes you can either portion them out for the week, or freeze some and use it again in the future. Then make your shopping list based on what you are planning. Even if you're not cooking it all on a specific meal prep day, if you've purchased it in advance, say a steak for Wednesday evening, then you are more likely to actually eat that, because its sitting home waiting for you to cook it, then to buy take out or fast food.

A meal prep day usually takes a significant portion of time. However, one of the most common reasons we fail to meet our fitness goals, either losing weight or gaining muscle, is because we fail to eat appropriately. If you know you aren't going to cook your meals during the week, setting aside a few hours to meal prep one day a week is just as important as making it to the gym. Make it an appointment with yourself, plus if you want to cut down on time, order your groceries for delivery from a company like Fresh direct, or buy in bulk from Costco and freeze the food that you can, so that way you only have to shop every other week maybe, and only pick up your produce and dairy weekly. You will also find that you save money, because you always have food on you, so you buy out less. You can save this money to buy yourself new clothes as you lose weight, or hire a personal chef to do this shit for you- that's the real goal here isn't it?

An added benefit to this style of preparation is that, life gets in the way. You may have your Tuesday food all set and in the fridge, but you're running late and leave your food home. By knowing what you were going to eat, you can easily make good choices by ordering similar options through take out, or running to a near-by deli or store and recreating your day. Additionally, if you brought your food but now the whole office is ordering Chinese food for lunch, you can make an order that's close to what you were originally going to eat, either content wise or calorie wise. Like, as much as we enjoy a turkey sandwich on Ezekiel bread with a side salad and a yogurt with pecans, let's be real, if being surrounded by 47 people eating General Tsos chicken isn't enough to make you want to change into sweatpants and put your diet on hold until takeout food is illegal, than I don't know what is. But now you know you have 500 calories to use toward lunch, and you can make a choice based on that. No guilt, no cheating, and you have an extra turkey sandwich for the meal prep vault.

Some people choose to prepare their food fresh, everyday. And to these people I applaud and bow, and extend an offer- if you ever want to come do that for me, I will pay you in love and appreciation of your skills and passions. If you are this person, it is still helpful to have your food planned out, that way if you are cooking your Monday food on Sunday night or Monday morning, you will know that you are hitting your nutritional requirements. So make a list of meals for the week that you are intending to make, then the same concept applies. If you over sleep and can't cook, instead of eating pizza, or just getting a salad and not making your calories for the day, you will have your list and see, "Oh I was supposed to eat Stalin work camp chili, for 2 meals, that's about 400 calories, with 20grams of protein,  and then almonds and yogurt as a snack." So when you go to create a Plan B for your meal, you will be able to say, hmm, I will get grilled chicken, and a vegetable, and that's only 220 calories, so I will add some rice, and maybe some peanut butter and carrots. Without the planed meal, you might think, "Eh I messed up, I don't have food, this day is a wash. I'll have pie."

Ideally, you will plan your food, prep it, and then eat it. In a perfect world this may happen. In the real world, by having a plan set, you are prepared for all of the occasional bumps in the road. Over sleeping, not wanting to cook, going out to dinner, being hung-over and not having the mental capacity to brush your teeth let alone plan a day of food. So buy a lunch box, and a ton of Tupperware, in the long run it will pay off. Whether you cook in advance, or day of, having a plan for the week is one of the best ways to stay on track with your eating.

You don't need to love cooking to be successful at healthy eating, but more than likely you do need a plan!

Here are some text messages that I actually sent to my brother, who fears for my health and safety:

My cooking style is basically, minimal effort, maximum hope I don't die.

This one proves I'd rather risk my life than cook a meal on a day that isnt set aside for meal prep:

Hey, we all do what we can in life. Embrace whatever feelings you have towards cooking and meal prep so you can better make a plan that works for you and your realistic abilities to make the food that will help you reach your goals during the week. Or, hire my brother. He seems to enjoy cooking enough to tell me how to live my life!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How To Avoid Setting the World Record For Largest Spandex Pants Ever Created

One of the hardest things about fitness can be staying motivated 100%  of the time. We look at people who run ultra marathons, or weigh 220 pounds of pure muscle with 2% body fat, and here we are, just being normal, using the elliptical for 45 minutes a day and asking to doctor to weigh us completely nude. Sometimes, this can be a great motivator, "Look at that guy, he has one leg and ran 300 miles, if he can do that, I can run a 10k" or, sometimes it can be a real mind -fuck "Well that guy with one leg can run 300 miles and I can barely make it up a flight of stairs. What's the point?" You look at these people, and think, "there is no way they ever wake up and don't want to do that, and today, if I was given the option, I would go get a root canal over going for a 2 mile run right now."

There is a quote, and once again, I am going to not look it up and not give anyone credit, but essentially, the quote says that you should compare yourself to yourself, or that you are competing with who you were yesterday, or something to the effect of that as long as you are giving it your all, you're winning. This might also be three different quotes. But I write a blog, I don't manage the archives of quotes.com, and the main point I am trying to make, is that it's easy to compare ourselves to others, but really, you have to keep in mind your growth. You should be your own motivation. And if that doesn't show up in a google search im taking credit for it myself.

 When we work with goals, both long-term and short-term, when we first start something, it is easy to stay motivated. But what happens when you reach your over-all long-term goal. Imagine your goal was to lose 50 pounds and run a 10k. Because you read my blog, you are enlightened and didn't put a time limit on it, but you were hoping to achieve this is a year. While you were starting, you found Instagram quotes with background images of lions ripping apart prey inspiring. "Yes! I am A lion. I will rip the face off of this run and bring the remains back to my pride," you probably thought, and then you went off and ran 4 miles and felt good. Now, here you are. You have reached your goal. You are 50 pounds lighter, and you ran a 10k. While training, you started to feel like running was not all that fun. It was helping you reach your goal, sure, but you can't really remember ever being on a run and thinking, "Whooo hoo, this is great I want to do this every day for the rest of my life." Also you really don't want to lose any more weight. You made your goal, and you feel like anything lighter just isn't for you. What do you do?

Well, you could, give up. Gain your weight back and start over again. But that probably won't be helpful. A main problem with weight loss goals is that they are so concrete. 50 pounds is 50 pounds. Either you've lost it or you haven't. When this is our focus, we get so caught up in the number, that everything else because a side effect of losing weight, or a means to an end. What made you not give up your 10k goal when you realized you hated running. Was it that douche with one leg? Weight loss and fitness goals can be enjoyable, and running isn't the only cardio available. Previously, I mentioned that this is a lifestyle. If you are creating a lifestyle, don't you want to do it in a way that is enjoyable? When you are trying to set goals, imagine yourself as a new born baby; you are imprinting habits on yourself in this first year of your new life. If you teach yourself that your daily exercise is just a way to get to your 50 pound weight loss goal, once you hit 50 pounds, it's going  to be hard for you to convince yourself of maintaining the motivation to work out. You will look at Instagram photos of lions and one legged men doing great things, and roll your eyes, and start unfollowing accounts. Think of it this way, is it easier to motivate yourself to go to the beach, or to go to work?  If you want to stay motivated long after your goal has been reached, it is helpful if you enjoy the process of getting there. Find a fitness regimen you enjoy, find foods you enjoy eating, it shouldn't feel like work, it should feel natural.

It is important to focus on yourself on your way to your goal, really be aware of yourself during that process of losing weight and increasing your health. Ask questions, reflect on what you're doing.  Am I having fun? What don't I like about this? Is there a fun way I can get the same benefits? Once again, I advocate trying new things; hey, look at all those celebrities on dancing with the stars! They always lose weight and they are ballroom dancing. Find something you really enjoy doing. That way, long after you meet your ultimate goal, you will want to continue doing that and advancing in it as a way to set new goals.

Now, short-term motivation is also an issue. Like I said above, when we start doing something, it's usually easy to see results at first. As we watch our bodies change and as we start to feel healthier, we get into it. We go to the gym, we hit goal after goal, after goal, after goal, and then, sometimes we get stuck. We have a day where we just don't want to go to the gym. Running another mile on the treadmill is the equivalent of making a suicide pact with devil, and the very thought of NOT sitting on your couch watching Netflix until your eyes bleed actually brings you pain and sadness. Maybe we have a week like this. We start to feel discouraged, because we are not the one legged marathoner or the body builder who appears to have descended from Zeus. You feel like if you go to the gym and go less than 150% why even bother. Well, remember being a kid, and your mom told you to clean your room. So everything would go into your closet. Your room looked clean, it took 5 minutes to do, and then you got to go to Sally's and play with Barbie's. Then remember the next day when you were looking for your shoe, and you couldn't find it. You had to pull everything out of your closet and now you're were right back to where you started. Had you taken the extra time to put everything where it went, as I'm sure your mother told you endlessly,  your room would have stayed cleaner longer.

When you are looking for a missing shoe in a clean room, maybe you open a door, check under a bed, maybe things get a little messy, but you can set them right pretty quickly. In the same way, when you are trying to lose weight, if you've been working out consistently and staying on track, taking a day or week off won't ruin all of your work, and neither will doing an activity that's less rigorous than what you are used toa. Things might feel a little messy, but you can clean up rather quickly. By staying on track and working so hard, you've made your body the equivalent of a well organized closet. Maybe for a week, you don't work out as hard, or you don't work out at all. Maybe you stop counting calories for a week, or let yourself have sugar and bagels. You didn't burn down the room, you just threw some things on the floor, once you get back on track, it will be easy to get back to where you were and start making progress again. It will be easy to clean up and reorganize.
When we are lacking the motivation to keep following a diet and exercise plan, it is easy to fall victim to comparing ourselves to others. "Well that girl drank Detox tea for 3 days and lost 15 pounds! That's not fair." This is where we get angry or discouraged with ourselves. Maybe we are still eating and working out in the same way, but now our weight loss has tapered off, we fail to see our progress, because we no longer see huge change. Have you ever been to the point where you just want to give it up, maybe eat 6000 tons of tacos. Week after week you put so much effort in, but you haven't lost any more weight, so now, you've hit a point of frustration where you think to yourself, "Ugh, meeting my weight loss goal is so difficult, I'm going to set a new goal. I'm going to be the largest human on the planet. I want to be so large, that I set a record for the largest pair of spandex ever created, and then I want to set a record for being the largest amount of human mass ever shoved into a pair of spandex. I can easily do that by eating 6000 tons of Tacos, which is really more challenging than not eating any tacos if you really think about it. So. New goal." Thoughts like this happen when we feel like we are putting in so much effort and getting nothing back in return. Thoughts like this are also a real motivation killer.
It's like if you keep your room clean, but then your mom still won't let you have a friend over. "What do you mean, mom? Last time it was because my room was a mess, so now, the queen could come and have high tea in my closet and I still can't have anyone come over?" If you were to respond to this by throwing everything on the floor and making a mess, it probably wouldn't get you very far in terms of playing with your friend. So, maybe you'd make an alternate plan, go to your friends house, talk to her on the phone and simultaneously watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then maybe next week, your room will still be clean, or easy to clean, and your mom will let her come over. In the same way, when you feel like you are doing everything right but still not getting what you want, you may just need to use a different tactic for a bit.

For example, if your goal was just to work out 5 times a  week, you might have fallen into a pattern. Maybe you run on Monday, Do the elliptical Tuesday, Take a class on Wednesday, Thursday you bike with friends, and Friday you see a personal trainer. Now, on Monday you barely want to get out of bed, the class is boring, and your friends all suck, because there is no way anyone who doesn't suck really wants to bike around the block 567 times. This is when you have to mix things up. If you have a personal trainer, ask for some tips, look up some treadmill workouts online, maybe sign up for a road race and train for that. Eventually you might miss your friends and work them back into your new routine, or maybe you won't and they will bike off into the sunset without you.

Similarly, say you have bodybuilding goals and you find yourself all of a sudden not wanting to go to the gym, but you are stuck because you know you need to or you will lose your muscle. So, what can you do? Also, I'm not quoting anything directly here and this is not proven by facts or science, but I would say that happy muscles grow bigger and stronger than muscles being held at gun point in the gym. Mix up your routine. If you isolate muscle groups, maybe just do a few days of full body circuits instead with some of your favorite exercises. Maybe take a week off, take classes that use lighter weights but still focus on muscle training.

If you have always enjoyed your workouts up until this point, chances are you are burning yourself out either mentally or physically. Your mind and your body are trying to tell you something, you have to be alert enough to listen and respond accordingly. Not feeling motivated, or not feeling like you are making progress does not mean you are failing and should give up, but what it does mean, is that you can take a minute to mix things up and create new motivation, or find your existing motivation again. Just like your stomach will tell you when you are hungry, when your mind is telling your body to sit this one out, it might be telling you that you are exhausted. Taking a week off may show you how much you missed it. It may also give your body time to rest and recover and when you get back in there you'll be stronger and more ready than ever.

When we create a lifestyle for ourselves that incorporates healthy eating and exercise it allows us to have weeks that we may not feel like going at 100% and that is okay. There is a reason people take vacations, because if you don't give yourself a break, you may burn out. Look at how far you have come. Fine, you can't run 300 miles with one leg, but do you want to? If you do, then work on that, strive to be that person, but compare yourself to your own progress, look at how far you've come. If you want to set new goals, set them, change them, as long as you enjoy them. The most important thing to remember is taking a day off because you honestly don't want to work out, is not the worst thing, I'd assume having your face ripped off by a lion is. You want to enjoy what you do and maybe you need a break. That doesnt mean you are giving up, or that everything you have done doesnt count, it just means youre tired or bored. Maybe you need to mix things up. Or maybe you need to read more inspirational quotes. Whatever it is you need to do, remember you have built a lifestyle that allows you to make a mess once in a while, but you clean up nicely and you can do it in no time at all.

Mainly this is just a blog telling you to follow my Instagram if you don't already. I'll put a lion post up ASAP @ Wisdom_and_weights.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Fives: "Five Ways I Motivate Myself to Enjoy the Gym"- As Told by Pam @ alittleglitter.com

Hi Guys!  My name is Pamela and I run the website A Little Glitter.  I blog about all types of things (fashion, beauty, motherhood, events, decor and lately working out/health).  I would love for you to stop on over and visit sometime.

I've been skinny fat my whole life.  I've never had to work out or watch what I ate and I've always stayed pretty thin.  Before you start to hate me, let me just say that this year that behavior is finally starting to catch up with me.  My bad cholesterol is too high, I have no muscle tone and I am starting to gain weight.  Also, I see all these skinny bitches on the internet with these cute little butts and muscly bodies and I want that, too!  So, I signed up for the gym and I am going about three times a week.  That being said, I am not a work out person.  I know people that wake up and CANT WAIT to go to the gym.  I think about throwing myself down the stairs so that I can get out of it.  It is not effortless for me to attend.  I am going to share with you some of the ways that I motivate myself to go and enjoy my time there.

1.  Cute sneakers.  I feel better about myself when I look better. I am the ugliest workout person ever.  I do not glisten.  I SWEAT.  Also, my face turns beet red.  I cant control those things but I can wear some cute sneakers...so I do.  Here are some that I am obsessed with:

Swarovski Crystal Nikes

2.  Fabulous workout clothes.  Same idea as number one.  I love tanks with funny sayings on them like this one:
Running away tank 
(It also doesn't hurt that it matches my dream sneakers pretty well!)

3.  Music.  If I forget my headphones I am pretty much over it.  I may as well go home.  I wont work as hard or for as long.  I am totally unable to motivate.  My all-time favorite cardio song is Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi.  It has a great beat and I find myself running faster when I'm listening to it.  

Kid Cudi feat. Steve Aoki - Pursuit of Happiness (Project X Video Edit by Mr. Habela) from DJ Mr.Habela on Vimeo.

4.  Putting classes in my planner.  I am a list maker.  I refer to my planner every day.  If I have a pilates or barre class written down on my list in there I want to check it off.  

5.  Hot Girls.  If all else fails, I make myself look at pictures of toned up, muscly girls on Pinterest for at least five minutes.  It motivates me to work hard so I can look like them and I remember that I am not going to get a cute butt by sitting on it.  I have to get up and head out in order to achieve that derriere.
I hope I was able to inspire you today!  Have a fabulous weekend!  xo

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Creating a Lifestyle or The Benefits of not Peaking in High School

It sounds so cliché to say, "I'm not on a diet, this is my lifestyle." However, when was the last time you stayed on a "diet" for an extended period of time. Like forever? You don't, because for a few months it might be easy to turn your nose up at pancakes and say no thank you to pizza, and delicious treats, but sooner or later, if you're still thinking about your choices as a means to an end, instead of a way to create lasting change, when you get stuck, or when you meet your goal, it's going to be difficult to stay on track. Take a second, because that is actually all you will need, one second, to list all of the crash diets you went on that had lasting effects, other than PTSD or sudden bursts of uncontrollable rage that might still sneak up when someone suggests you eat plain tuna fish with a saltine. When you are done with that, let's go back to the original thought, that for something to stick, it can't be a temporary quick fix, it has to be a long term change.

You know that friend you have who peaked in High School? Let's call him Kenny. He was the Quarterback, his year book quote was "Fuck bitches, get money," and he was voted "Most likely to end up married to a super model." You're pretty sure everyone wanted to date him, or be him. But when you just ran into him, he's currently sporting a beer belly, rocking his high school football team t-shirt, he only fits into sweat pants, he's bald. Kenny lives in his moms basement. That is you on a crash diet. Things are going great. You're eating 900 calories a day and managing not to pass out, weight is dropping, you haven't even thought of eating bread for the past few weeks because you are doing so great. Basically everyone wants to be you. You are dedicated. You are strong. If people don't want to be you, then they should want to be you. So now you lost your 15 pounds, which was most likely made up of water and your shriveling soul. What do you do? Can you keep this going much longer? Do you want to? Without actually researching this and having any real facts to back me up, I'm going to say, over 90% of the time, people fall right back into their old eating habits, and I'm going to say sometimes they end up gaining more weight than they lost. You don't have to be the dieting equivalent of Quarterback Kenny's adult life.

Now remember George? No, no one remembers George. But George was quiet. Studied. Asked you to prom 8 times. George was skinny and all he had to offer was his prescription strength Pro-active. George wasn't voted anything, because no one knew who George was. George is the boy your parents told you to be like, or to date, but you couldn't hear them over the nail gun you were using to build a shrine to Kenny. George didn't drop out of high school because no one liked him, he kept going, then he graduated, and in grad school his acne finally cleared up, and now he dates an 8 with real boobs, and, he can afford to own a home. This is you committing to a lifestyle of fitness. Maybe in the past it hasn't been easy, and maybe you've achieved your ultimate goal before and then slid back, but in this moment, you're going to grad-school! Congrats! That's a commitment and just think of the babe you're going to meet there.

Changing your mindset from losing weight fast and being on a diet, to making a long term commitment to your health is huge part of making goals that last. Kenny was just going to school so he could hump the head cheerleader under the bleachers and then go home, George was going to school so he could better himself and have a life and career he wanted. I just got a little serious here talking about my fictional high school peers, but the moral of the story is, when things take time and you earn them, you feel accountable to yourself, you are better able to look back and say, look how far I've come, I never want to go back. Kenny wishes he was walking the halls of his high school every day he wakes up and catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror, George barely thinks about high school, except to wonder when the next reunion is so he can show off his hot girlfriend and his designer pants.

When we crash diet, one of the problems is that, even though it may be hard to restrict yourself to the gallon of air you are allotted to eat per day, you learn that you can suffer through this for a few days, you'll lose ten pounds fast. Even if you gain it back immediately, you still have it in your mind that it's possible to lose ten pounds in 3 days. Just like Kenny sat through math so he could play football, he didn't really learn anything; he got a D, but hey that wasn't an F, and he still made Varsity. But look where Kenny is today. Don't you want better for yourself?

The most important thing to do, is be realistic about your goals. Clients often tell me they want to lose X amount of weight, but they want to do it in such a short time, there is no way that they could do it in a healthy way, and keep it off for the long term. The problem is, I soon find out, that they have crash dieted in the past so they know they are capable of losing 10 pounds in a week. I always have to point out how that seems to have worked for them, since they've kept it off so well. As people reset their mind to a realistic goal, say 1-2 pounds per week, it is easier to show them that if they have an off day and eat off plan, they can still make progress or not go backwards by eating real food and the correct amount of calories. If George loses his job, he has a nice savings account to fall back on while he gets back on his feet.

Next, remember what your overall goal is. If it is just to be healthy and fit, does it make a difference if it takes 6 years or a month to get to a specific weight or size? While being a size 4 is nice, remember every day you eat well and exercise, you are creating lasting benefits. Let's say you are training to run a 10k, and you follow your workout plan and running schedule, but one day, you eat some chips, and maybe some ice cream, and then decide well, today I'm also going to eat some Taco Bell, and then maybe some candy. Okay, fine, you were not on your best dieting behavior, but you definitely did not gain all of your weight back, and you did not undo all of your physical work. You will still be able to run 6 miles, and you will be able to lose any weight you gained by getting back on track. Because you have created habits, it will be easy for you to not keep eating Taco's and candy, and go back to eating the diet you know makes you feel best and helps you achieve your goals. Sometimes we forget the real reason we want to lose weight to begin with.  Yes, it is great to feel thin, or to not feel judged, but for the most part we are losing weight and working out as a way to stay healthy and even if you want to look good on your cruise in 3 weeks, don't you also want to keep looking good, like endlessly, without having to constantly diet go through a cycle of not being happy with how you look and feel?

Remember, Kenny got the girl in high school, but right now he's eating lasagna with his mom while George is cuddled up next to some DDs. So even though it is cliché, create a lifestyle for yourself, one that incorporates the choices you want to make that will help you make it to your goals. Even if it takes time, Georges acne scars didn't go away overnight, but that didn't stop him from washing his face every day.  

Contrary to how it may seem Pro-active did not sponsor this blog post, but if they would like to in the future, and you have connections, please let them know I can work them into any entry about anything.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Fives: 5 Struggles I'm Facing in my First Month of Dieting - As Told By Snapchat:

For those of you who aren't familiar with Snapchat, mom, before I can share with you this week's Friday Five, let me give you a quick rundown. Snapchat, is an application for your cellular device. You still with me? It allows you to take a photo and send it to someone, but the cool part about this, is that after 1-10 seconds it goes away. Some people may send their exposed body parts, and others may just send pictures of themselves at their day job not yet being a famous blogger trophy wife. So whether you send your boobs, or your lunch, or something funny you just saw but not so funny you're gonna share it to Facebook, you know it is quick, and not going to stay on that persons phone forever. I'm from the camp that if someone is going to show their naked body to someone they should be there in person to get the gratification of hearing their body be appreciated. Regardless of how you choose to use it, Snapchat is a fun tool that some of my clients use to stay on track.  If you have a friend who lives far away, but helps keep you motivated, sometimes it's fun to schedule workouts at the same time. 99% of the time I would not want someone to have a picture of me directly after I have finished working out. Snapchat is a fun way to send a picture of you looking like you were just chased for 56 miles by a pack of dogs, with a thumbs up emoji, to show your best friend, you did in fact workout hard, simultaneously, to the point of a near death experience, without actually having to worry about how terrible you look.

This is a Snapchat:

Today's Friday 5 was brought to you by a client in her first month of a new program; she uses Snapchat to share with her friends what is going on in her diet.

5 Struggles I'm Facing in my First Month of Dieting

1) Staying on track when the food around me is soooo tempting.

(I'd like to point out here, that actually would be a legitimate way to lose weight, but I don't think the saying is an eye for an eye, an arm for an Oreo, and there's probably a good reason for that. )

2) Getting back into a workout routine without collapsing a lung.

(She probably had to kick her shoes off because that missing arm made it difficult to gently remove them. )

3) Setting REASONABLE goals and expectations for my weight loss and fitness regiment, even though I'd prefer to lose 70 pounds this month, I know that's not healthy, or realistic.

(You go Glenn Coco! Also weight loss jars are an amazing visual tool to aid weight loss, so really, you go!)

4)Feeling discouraged when I don't meet the goals I was hoping to.

(If you find a scale that always tells you your goal weight, please let us all know where to find it! However, even though this scale is clearly not playing by her rules it's adorable! )

5)Not drinking my calories, and pretending that I love water.

(Well these aren't the jugs I was promised I'd get through Snapchat!)

These five struggles are very common in the first month of starting a new program. You are retraining yourself and asking a lot of your body and your mind. This client is on point, because she is not only approaching her struggles with a sense of humor, she is sharing them with her friends. When you let others know what difficulties you're facing it makes it easier to face them knowing you have support. While the desire to rip off a limb in exchange for a cookie may be there, one armed snapchating may be difficult.  So just hang in there and remember you're not alone; even though the first month is difficult, just think, in a few months from now when you're snapchatting your naked body, how good you feel about yourself thanks to the struggles you faced in month one.

As always feel free to let me know if you have something you'd like to see on the blog. Comment below about your struggles and how you've managed them. If you haven't already, subscribe to the email and like the blog on Facebook (fitness from within)

Thanks for reading! 
-Nicole (and Snapchat)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Subtle Ways not Eating Cake can be Similar to Staying STD Free

What is your all time favorite food? Basically, if you could just carry a huge sack full of something around forever, and eat it, without any negative effects, and without  having people judge you for reaching into a sack full of fried chicken legs that you happen to be carrying carry around on your back, what you would eat? Now, imagine being alone in a room with that food, and knowing that there are negative consequences, but you really, really, really want it. Well, certain "Fitspirational" quotes on instagram would lead you to believe that not giving into the food is as easy as just, exercising your saying no muscle. Or whatever. However, I completely disagree. If following a diet and exercise plan were so simple, then there wouldn't be a need for personal trainers, nutritionists, coaches, or even "Fitspo" quotes. If staying motivated and on track was as easy as shaking your head no when you are at a birthday party and someone offers you Salted Carmel Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte Double Chocolate Chip Cake, then everyone would be their goal size and shape, and pumpkin farmers would be shit out of luck.

There is an adorable, but completely monumental study in psychology, known as “The Marshmallow Study.” At the time, this pioneer study most likely didn't look like much, but has since become one of the most commonly replicated studies for psych 101 students. Beyond the psychology world, it’s not that well known. So if you haven’t heard of it, pull up a seat; in short, back in the 1960’s Walter Mischel, a psychologist and personality researcher ran a study in which he told children, you can have 1 marshmallow as soon as you want it, just ring this bell, or you can have 2 if you can wait for me to get back. Then, he left the child in the room with the marshmallow, and watched the child. Four year old children could wait up to 15 minutes before giving in and eating the marshmallow, and, school age children could hold out for so long, Walter actually felt bad for them and brought them the second marshmallow.  There was a difference of course between those children who ate the marshmallow, and those who did not, and it wasn't childhood onset diabetes. Mischel followed these children into adulthood and found that the children able to not eat the marshmallow exhibited a different skill set later in life than those who did.

It turns out, that the children who didn't eat the marshmallow used tricks to help them withstand the desire of just grabbing that treat. Some children imagined the marshmallow as a cloud, or some imagined the marshmallow as a picture in a frame. By making the treat an abstract item, the children were able to stop themselves and delay gratification. It probably means they also didn't punch kids for stealing their crayons.  It turns out these children also engaged their prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain where we plan complex behavior, and also where the decision making process begins. In conjunction with other parts of our brain, like the ones that form our reward system, which includes the prefrontal cortex, a lot goes on when we are trying to make a decision.

Picture yourself out with some friends, talking, having a good time, when the most gorgeous person you've ever laid eyes on walks in. Like for real; you hear angles singing, you have a flash of what your children will look like, and you're already upset that you'll have to cry at their death bed, I mean you're clearly so healthy that unfortunately  you will outlive this fine specimen. Your friends are next to you, egging you on, "Bro, just go say hi, get their number, come on man." But you're in a deep panic. It's not so easy as just exercising your grow some balls muscle is it?  What goes through your head? Think about this and this may help you develop an approach towards those tricky foods you want to say no to, or eat in moderation but just can't.

Usually, you'll go to similar situations in the past. The last 5 times you asked someone out, you were rejected. So now you think if I ask I'll be rejected. But what were you doing that got you rejected? Did you go over and make a lewd comment, to mask the fact that you were anxious, and then you helped this person make your decision for you? In a similar way, think about the times you wanted a treat but it wasn't in your plan, or you only wanted a serving size and ended up eating 4 boxes. Be honest with yourself here. It most likely isn't that you suck. If you sucked, you wouldn't be taking steps to make yourself better. Most likely, it's that, like the children who ate the marshmallow, knowing that if they waited a little longer they could have two, your brain is working a little differently.

Some successful daters may imagine that they are going to talk to an old friend, even if deep down they want to run screaming from the bar, they mentally put themselves at ease and lower their anxiety before making a fool of themselves.  Some of us are not abstract thinkers. So when it comes to food, it may be helpful if we could eat boiled chicken and imagine it is pizza, or stare at a marshmallow and think of it as a cloud, but if that's not possible, there are other tricks. One thing we can do is control our planning. I always recommend that you prepare yourself as best as you can for situations where you know there are going to be treats, so make sure you eat before hand, and have some healthy snacks with you. That way, if you have a cookie, you can still reach into your bag and eat some carrots or grapes. Sometimes, like the guy who approached a girl with no plan and ends up complimenting her boobs, if we approach a highly tempting situation with no plan, we are setting ourselves up to fail. Bringing your own treats can get tricky, I always have clients who are worried that people will judge them for eating almonds at a party. I have to remind them that their goals are important to them, and most of the time, a lot of these clients also feel judged when they eat unhealthy snacks in front of others, so you really have to make the choice to put your lifestyle choices ahead of others opinions.

Next we can work on our automatic responses as a way to challenge our existing reward system.  In the dating world, a typical reward system may look like this. Pretty girl + Me = YAY! You want to go up to the attractive person, because they make you feel like you could go on to do great things together forever...or at least for that night.  Have you ever had a friend tell you something like, "Well maybe that's not such a good idea, I'm pretty sure I see him out all of the time, and he leaves with a different girl every night." You have your immediate reward system saying "You + Me = YAY" but now you have a rational piece of information added to the mix. Potential Gonorrhea.  You can take a step back and rework the equation, you + me + everyone with 2 legs in a 20 mile radius= no.

Clearly, in addition to this blog I should also be a dating guru, but let me bring that back to food. In challenging our automatic reward responses, another good skill you can work on is stepping away, and "playing the tape." Really evaluate the whole situation. To do this, walk away from the food and  use an "If, Then, Because," statement. Say, "IF I eat the cake THEN I might not meet my goal this week BECAUSE I already had pizza at this party and that was the food off my plan I allowed myself for the day."  Using an If, Then, Because, statement helps you frame a decision in a rational way that your mind may not be wired to use. Your brain maybe hanging out going "CAKE, CAKE, CAKE, CAKE, CAKE, CAKEEEEE, it's sooo gooooood! IF you eat the the cake THEN you'll be happy, BECAUSE ITS CAKE!!!!!" So stepping away removes you from the immediate reward and helps you make the decision that is best for your goals, even if it may not be the decision  you are hard wired to make.

So, as always, I say have some of the cake, but use some of these skills to help yourself continuously make the choices you want to make. Sticking to a diet is not as easy as just wanting to do it. You can read all the inspirational quotes in the world, and have a team of high paid professionals helping you, but it isn't until you learn to modify your behaviors and approach to food, especially those that you want to eat in moderation or not at all, that you can start making the changes that will last a life time.  Just like in dating, if you want the persons number, you probably shouldn't grab their ass. Instead you should approach them with confidence and self control. When you approach food with confidence and self control, you will better be able to use your past experiences to plan  for success, and better be able to resist and control temptations.  While I am not a dating expert, feel free to let me know if you used my tips to score a date; please don't tell me if you ignored my warnings and got an STD.

If you want to watch something painfully adorable and relatable:

The Marshmallow Test: http://youtu.be/QX_oy9614HQ

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Fives: Gym Bag Essentials- As Told by Amanda

When I was in college, I bought an audio recorder. I had big visions of me recording lectures, and then sitting down promptly after class to listen to, and transcribe, said lectures. What that actually looked like, was I played Tetris during class, and never listened to a lecture once. But today, I dusted off the old recorder, removed the oxidized batteries, deleted 73 lectures from "An Oral History of the Written History of Uneventful Things that Happened in Psychology," and hit the gym to find someone to tell us what their 5 gym bag essentials are as I recorded them with the grace of Katie Couric.

Me: I’m like, maybe 80% sure I’m recoding this.
Amanda: Okay I’ll tell my agent.
M: Amanda, you are possibly being recorded, if not I’ll do my best to remember.
(I drop the recorder on the floor and accidentally kick it)
M: Well I’m probably not recording anything anymore
A: I think that red light means you are

As you can see this girl knows her stuff, and this is possibly why I didn’t listen to my recorded lectures. Amanda is a personal trainer here in NYC, and is always in the gym. Here are Amanda’s 5 Gym Bag Essentials:

1. Shaker bottle : Amanda’s shaker bottle has compartments in it, so you can take up less space in your gym bag with Tupperware, but still carry everything you need. Amanda keeps:

Vitamins (fish oil, multivitamin and Vitamin C) , 

and today Amino Acid, NOT COCAINE, in her shaker bottle, but sometimes keeps protein powder or pre-workout. “I don’t eat a lot of meat, so  I need to get my aminos somewhere.” Pre-workout is sometimes used by people, prior to working out to increase endurance.

2. Lock: Having a lock makes sense. This lock, has a key, which Amanda notes is difficult to keep track of, and we’ve both had the problem of locking a key in a locker and needing it cut off.

However, check out this nifty gym hack Amanda suggests if you forget a lock. A lot of the time people aren’t looking to find your unlocked items, they are just looking for a locker and if you happened to not have a lock that day but, brought your iPad, then, you might be in trouble. Amanda suggests taking a plastic baggie (most gyms will have these to put your sweaty clothes in), and tying it through the locker. Most people are not going to untie the bag, and it’s a good way to let people know that a locker is taken.

3. Head Phones: “ I always listen to something when I do my cardio. Lately instead of music I’ll listen to podcasts, things I don’t have time to do during the day.” If you forget your iPod, or you don’t want to use up the life on your phone, most cardio machines have jacks on the TVs and then you can watch your favorite Bravo shows without reading subtitles and falling off the treadmill.

4. Socks: “These socks are glittery, and they match the glitter in my shoes. I usually have a few pairs of socks in my gym bag. There is nothing more uncomfortable than showering and having to put on nasty socks.”

5. Deodorant: “No one wants to be that person at the gym who people are avoiding because they smell terrible. I got this on sale. That’s how I pick my deodorant. If it’s on sale and I don’t smell when I’m wearing it, it’s doing its job.”

Because this is a blog about how to find your wellness balance, and even though I enjoy insider tips on where I can find deodorant on sale, I asked Amanda how she helps her clients stay motivated. Amanda usually recommends group fitness classes, but stresses that you have the proper form when doing exercises like squats or deadlifts, to maximize benefits and minimize risk of injury. If you don't know how to do something- ask! Group fitness classes are great because they can mix up your routine, and the added benefit of being surrounded by others working hard keeps you working hard! If your gym doesn’t have classes, or you don’t belong to a gym, look up boot camps, find a Groupon for a fun activity, or look into what a day rate for a local gym that has classes may be. If none of these work,  get some friends together and create a circuit, or dust off your mothers VHS tapes, pull out your VCR, put on some Jane Fonda, and pretend you’re sweating with 30 other people.

(Jane Fonda was not present for this interview or available to comment on the essential-ness of Amanda's Five Gym Bag Essentials)  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pumpkin Spice is the New Black

As summer comes to an end, and we pack away our bathing suits and our, "Suns Out Guns Out" tank tops the world delivers us pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice donuts, pumpkin spice air; pretty much, this year, pumpkin spice is the new black. But whatever your favorite fall treat is, and it's most likely not pumpkin spice ricecakes, which I'm not sure if they exist, but chances are they will by the time I'm done typing this post, something delicious and autumnal will be calling your name every day. Additionally, we have a ton of 3-day weekends, holidays that revolve around food, and the natural instinct to put on weight to stay warm as we suffer through winter, from our heated homes. So what can we do to stay on track when there are all of these tempting treats being shoved under our noses, and the propensity to be 7/8 naked in public is greatly diminished?

1. Re-evaluate your goal. Say you weigh 180lbs and wanted to lose 10 pounds by December 1st, but you are going away for 2 weeks on vacation in October. Then you have Thanksgiving weekend, and then you have your goal date. You've been doing great, but you're worried about vacation. Set a small goal right before you go on vacation. Make your goal to not gain any weight, or to only gain 3 pounds. That way, just like I mentioned in Cheat Meals, you can have tastes of foods, but still opt for mostly healthy options. When you return, give yourself a day to get back to your typical diet and exercise plan, then weigh yourself the following morning. Did you maintain? Did you gain 5 lbs? If you gained weight, that's okay, by creating a goal to not gain weight, or by allowing yourself to gain a small amount of weight, you ate much healthier than you would have if you just said, "eh fuck it."  So way to go! You gained less then you probably would have, and you're already back to your healthy habits, congratulations, you're phenomenal!

2. Decide before you go away, even if you're only going home to your parents house for a 3 day weekend what your exercise schedule will look like. It's okay if it's less rigorous than you are used to, chances are you're not training for an Olympic team, so doing any exercise, instead of none, is beneficial. If you usually work out for an hour on Saturday, but realistically you'll only have 30 minutes, schedule it in, just like you've scheduled in seeing Sally who you just caught up with on facebook after not having talked to her since high school. This will be a time commitment you make with yourself. Give yourself an actual time to workout, and stick to it, by scheduling it in for yourself you'll have it in your mind that you've committed to it and you will be more likely to actually do it.

3. Let yourself have the pumpkin spice muffin, but balance it out by pairing it with a protein, like some eggs or a salad with chicken. Instead of just having the sweet, make it part of a meal instead of a snack or a treat. When you have the piece of chocolate, or the bite of pie, or the pumpkin spice everything, your brain gets so excited, it wants more. Essentially you're training yourself to want sweets or cake. By pairing it with nutritious options, since your brains reward system is already activated, you're helping yourself learn to eat better, and diminishing the rewarding effect of the sweets on your brain. At the same time, you are increasing the association between balanced meals and feeling fulfilled and happy. So don't deny yourself the occasional sweet, but just make it a part of a meal instead of a reward, or a cheat snack.

4. Don't be so hard on yourself. When we set our initial long term goals, we usually give ourselves a time limit. That can be a beneficial way to stay motivated, just like a work deadline for a project you wouldn't actually do unless you were going to be fired for not doing by a certain time, a goal to hit a certain mark by a certain time can be helpful. However, life happens. If someone died, your boss would probably give you an extension, if you aren't going to hit your goal, set a new goal, give yourself an extension. You've come so far so don't give up. Maybe you want to get back on track by the day you had set to hit your goal weight. Maybe you've been perfect and now your weight loss has slowed or platued. See a personal trainer or a nutritionist to mix things up and revamp your plan. Or even see a behavioral therapist to find out if there is more to this than meets the eye. Remember just because you didn't hit that long term goal, you've still come far, you just might have to be more realistic about when you'll get there, it doesnt mean you never will.

So even though we are covering our bodies with oversized sweaters, that probably have pockets to hold all of the delicious treats the world has to offer, not to mention that we didn't eat all summer, remember, you are working to have a healthy body all year round,  not just when your prancing around the beach trying to get a life gaurd to give you mouth to mouth even if you're not drowning. The biggest thing that happens in winter, is we get discouraged that we arent making the same progress, but it's only natural. You have been making changes for a few months now so progress will be less intense. Appreciate how far you've come, enjoy the treats in moderation, and create realistic wellness goals that you can stick to for now.

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