blogging, Building self-confidence, Exercise, Food Addiction, Friday Fixes, learning, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, optifast, setting goals, Tips fot weight loss, weight loss journal, Writing

Friday Fixes–The Late Edition: Enhancing Your Self-Confidence

aaaaDo you believe that you can follow a healthy eating plan?  Do you trust that you can dedicate yourself to maintaining the amount of exercise that your body needs to stay lean and healthy?  If you answered yes to both of these questions, chances are that you have a fairly good level of self-confidence.

Self-confidence is the feeling that you have a sense of control over your actions.  Having self-confidence, and believing that you have the ability to follow a healthy dietary and exercise plan,  is a strong predictor of weight loss success.

Building confidence takes work, however, each positive experience that you have will show you that you’re capable of handling whatever comes your way. If  you feel yourself lacking the confidence that you need to change your eating and activity habits, you may benefit from trying some of these suggestions that I’ve learned in my Lifestyle Education Classes at the bariatric center:

  1. Take care of your needs:  Remember that only you can make yourself happy.  Just as it’s not your job to solve the problems of others, you can’t depend on others to make things happen for you.  Set goals that are based on the things you need to do for yourself and make those goals happen.
  2. Become self-reliant: The more you handle things on your own, the more competent and capable you’ll see that you are. In turn, knowing your capabilities builds confidence.
  3. Recognize your own uniqueness as a person: Begin seeing yourself as special and worthy, because you are! ❤
  4. Love and accept yourself: Be introspective; get to know yourself and why you think, feel and act the way that you do. List all of the things that make you unique and special.  Keep the list somewhere that you can read it frequently, especially if you’re feeling down.
  5. Don’t fight change: To change the way that you feel about eating a healthy diet and exercising, you have to give up your old habits in order to develop new, healthy ones.  Even though change can be difficult, you’ll feel such a sense of pride in yourself when you do make positive changes.  Don’t fight it!  Ride the pride!
  6. Surround yourself with positive people: Positive people build you up and make you feel energized.  I’ve found some wonderfully supportive friends through my classes at the bariatric center, through my gym, and of course, here on WordPress! 🙂
  7. Make a list of positive affirmations and say them to yourself regularly: There’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself every once in a while, especially if you’re saying nice things!  As I work out, I tell myself over and over, “You’re getting healthier and more fit!” Give it a try!!
  8. Imagine your best you: Create an image in your mind of the person that you want to be. Visualize how you want to look and feel.  Then tell yourself that you’ve reached your goal.  Feel how you would if you were that person.
  9. Use good posture and keep a smile on your face: According to my almost doctor daughter, not standing up straight can stimulate the chain of nerves on the sides of the vertebrate which can trigger a sympathetic nervous system response (aka fight or flight) causing feelings of stress in the body. Using good posture makes you feel better, and a winning smile makes you more approachable.

Before I began my weight loss program, my confidence wasn’t the greatest.  My past weight loss failures weighed heavily against my ability to commit to eating right and exercising.  The good news is, that all it took was a spark of hope to start me on my way. That hope was simply my imagining myself healthy and strong, and able to do the things I want to do. With each week of success, my confidence has grown exponentially.  Give these suggestions a try and see how they work for you!  

 

blogging, Building self-confidence, Friday Fixes, Friendship, learning, Wisdom, Wisdom Wednesdays, Writing

Wisdom Wednesday: The Wisdom of Believing in Yourself

 “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

                                                                ~Henry Ford

When my daughter was in 6th grade, I was a fortunate to be picked to chaperone her, a handful of students, chosen to participate in a team-building and leadership academy located near Washington, DC.  

Throughout the day, the children were placed in various groups and given mental and physical tasks to complete, having to rely solely on the abilities and instincts of one another.  The final challenge was a 15 foot (4.6 m) smooth, vertical wall that they were assigned to scale in five minutes with only the aid of another student.  Both children had to reach the top of the wall within that time frame. I watched, hopefully, while several groups tried a similar technique of boosting their partner to the top and afterwards attempting climb the un-notched wall to their waiting teammate’s outreached hands.  Their efforts were fruitless.

My daughter was paired with her friend Emma, a girl she had known since babyhood. Neither of them were particularly athletic, or tall; just your average 11 year-olds.  They began much the same as the other groups, with Emma’s feet on top of my daughter’s shoulders. When Emma grasped the top edge of the wall, my daughter grabbed her feet and helped to push her to the top.  With her friend at the pinnacle, my daughter confidently walked about 20 feet away from the wall as Emma secured her legs on the top and reached out. Then, they locked eyes and my daughter began running.  In a moment I’ll never forget, my daughter ran to the wall, scaled two-thirds of it in that same running motion, clasped Emma’s hands, and in one swift motion was pulled to the top, never breaking eye-contact with her friend.  It was one of those millions of times when I wished that I’d been filming her.  Their actions looked superhero-ish and miraculous. It was as if two little girls, for a few brief moments, had been blessed with superhuman powers.

After a myriad of high-fives and congratulations from classmates, my daughter finally reached me.

” That was amazing! How on Earth did you do it?” was my first response.

  “I just knew I could. I saw myself at the top and ran,”  she replied.

Fifteen years have passed since my daughter’s Matrix-like climb.  She’s been through many changes and challenges since then. Life has continually and  generously handed her its share of natural ups and downs.  When things get tough, I never fail to remind her that she’s a wall climber from way back. I tell her that she has the amazing ability to focus and run swiftly past her doubts and fears. The pinnacle is always there for those who believe they can reach itWe all have a little bit of superhero in us–the trick is believing that it’s there!

******When in life have you amazed yourself?  Tell me about it in the comments below!


Don’t forget to stay tuned for Friday Fixes, where I’ll be discussing some of the things I’ve learned about building self-confidence through my Lifestyle Education Classes!

blogging, Crafting to lose weight, dealing with food cravings, emotional eating, Food Addiction, Friday Fixes, learning, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, needle felting, optifast, Self-Soothing, setting goals, Tips fot weight loss, weight loss journal, Wellness Center, Writing

Friday Fixes: Are You Just Beginning Optifast?

optifastI was in the middle of writing a post on self-confidence (which I promise to finish), when I got a comment from a new blogger over at My Big Fat Journey.  It turns out that she’s been reading my blog and is just beginning her Optifast journey.  I was very touched by her kind comment, as well as extremely excited about the new lifestyle that she’s embarking on. 

Being in my 15th week of Optifast certainly doesn’t make me an old pro, by any means, but there are some bits of advice that I’d like to give to anyone reading that may be about to begin, or  thinking of beginning, Optifast.

  1. Use Optifast as part of a medically monitored weight loss program:  Before I began my plan, I did lots of internet research.  One thing I found was that there are people selling the product on Amazon.  While it may be pennies cheaper, it doesn’t feature the benefits of being medically supervised.  Cutting down to 800 calories per day could exacerbate existing health problems. Regular blood work and EKGs are done throughout the program to assure that all blood chemistry and electrolytes are at safe levels. Please don’t do Optifast alone–a doctor’s supervision is critical to your health. 
  2. Take full advantage of all that your doctor’s office has to offer: I’m fortunate to be completing my program through a bariatric office that offers weekly Lifestyle Education Classes, monthly support groups, and counseling through both a registered dietician and behavior modification therapist.  The medical center where my program is located also features an integrated wellness and fitness center.  I immerse myself in these programs.  Even when classes seem to overlap, or repeat information, I recognize the reinforcing benefits of hearing positive weight management information again and again.  So much of weight gain has to do with our head more than our hunger.  Counseling can help you to get to the root of the reason that you use food as  mental and emotional fortification rather than as an energy source for your body. Take all of the help from offered professionals that you can get.
  3. Getting through those first two weeks : I’m not going to lie, the first two weeks of nothing but shakes feels tough!  However, every emotion and pang of hunger that you feel is necessary.  Giving up something that comforts you is difficult, but it’s important to see that hunger isn’t going to kill you.  It’s also important to take away the unhealthy habit of overeating that you’ve used to comfort yourself in order for you to explore new, beneficial ways to soothe yourself.  I swear to you that after two weeks the huger pangs will pass and you’ll feel completely satisfied with your shakes.  I sometimes need to remind myself to have my evening shake because I’m just not hungry.
  4. Set healthy goals beyond weight loss: Now that you’re drinking your meals and no longer using food as your source of comfort and entertainment, you need to find positive healthy ways to occupy your extra time.  My goals were to: 1. Start a blog 2. Spend more time with friends 3. Learn a new hobby or craft.  I’ve successfully master all three of my goals.  I try to blog 4-5 times per week and I’ve made amazing friends here on WordPress.  I now have set days that I spend with friends exercising, shopping, or just hanging out and having fun.  I also learned to needle felt–something that I’d always wanted to do.  Stay busy is so important, and you’ll find that your goals soon morph into healthy substitutions for overeating.
  5. Find someone else to do the cooking for a while: I realize that this tip is very dependent on your situation.  I live with my adult children and husband, so I didn’t feel too badly in asking them to fend for themselves in the beginning of my journey. However, if you’re the chief cook in a single parent household or have a spouse too busy to cook, try to cook things that aren’t too tempting.  I found that baking anything like homemade bread or pizza absolutely murderous to handle.  It’s only natural for your body to respond to the smell of food cooking with an increase in salivation and digestive juices.  Even though I’ve not transitioned to food, my husband and I are cooking only healthy, whole, properly portioned meals to form the habit for when I am eating with the family. Even though I’m not eating, I’m getting enjoyment from feeding my family foods that I know are good for them.  And, nope, I never, ever take a taste–It’s shakes only for this girl!
  6. Ignore the number on the scale: While a big part of weight loss is watching the pounds vanish, don’t become scale obsessed.  The first couple of weeks, depending on your starting weight, you’ll notice some rather decent weight drops.  I lost 10 pounds in my first two weeks.  After your initial loss, you can expect to lose 1-3 pounds per week on average.  Don’t let “only” a one pound loss discourage you.  Just think of what your weight loss would be if you weren’t doing anything to help yourself–chances are, it would be nil!  Remember, if you’re exercising regularly you’re losing inches and building muscle.  Though I’m one pound away from a 40 pound weight loss, I’ve lost a ton of inches.  I’ve gone from a size 24 pant to a size 16–and the 16s are getting baggy!
  7. Treat yourself:  When I first began losing weight, I was determined to not “waste” money on new clothing until all of the weight was off.  I greatly underestimated how large my clothing would get as I disappeared!  Go shopping every once in a while.  You’ll be amazed  at how fabulous you feel in pants that fit and in tops that show off your new figure!  You deserve to look as gorgeous as you feel!  BE PROUD OF YOURSELF!!

I hope these tidbits help, and please, please, please share your stories with me!  I get so stoked when I read about the weight loss progress of others! 

 

 

blogging, dealing with food cravings, emotional eating, Food Addiction, Friday Fixes, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Mindful Eating, optifast, Self-Soothing, Tips fot weight loss, weight loss journal

Friday Fixes: Self-Soothing with Sound

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Last week’s Friday Fixes shared suggestions on how to combat emotional eating, food cravings, and overeating by using your sense of sight.  Thisweek’s installment is all about using your sense of hearing as a way to soothe yourself when the desire for unnecessary eating occurs.A huge way that I soothe myself with sound is through listening to music. I love all genres of tunes, but it turns out that I could be even more relaxed and mindfully aware if I listened to music in the correct frequencies.  Most of you know that our brains  produce five different wave frequencies that are measured in Hertz (Hz).

 

  1. Delta Waves (0.5 – 4Hz) are produced when you’re deeply sleeping.
  2. Theta Waves (4 – 8 Hz) are produced in the early stages of sleep, a during the REM stage of sleep, during guided imagery and during deep meditation.
  3. Alpha Waves (8 – 12 Hz) are produced when you’re in the process of doing mindless, passive activities.
  4. Beta Waves (12 – 25 Hz) are produced when you’re in a state of mindfulness, or awareness.
  5. Gamma Waves (25-100 Hz) are produced during periods of high concentration or consolidation of large amounts of information.

It’s possible to stimulate the brain to reach a state of enhanced awareness or relaxation through the use of music that has frequencies within the Hertz range of alpha, beta, or theta waves. Here are some examples of each type of music. Many examples like these can be found for free on YouTube.

Here’s an example of Alpha Wave music: (There’s a bit of an introduction before the music begins.)

 

Here’s an example of Beta:

 

 

 

And finally, an example of Theta Wave music:

 

Another way to achieve a deep sense of relaxation is through guided imagery.  Guided imagery is a program of directed thoughts and suggestions that guide your imagination toward a relaxed and focused state.  An instructor, script, or recorded session is used to lead you through the process. Often you’ll be asked to imagine a relaxing, natural environment ,like the beach or mountains. Throughout the script, positive messages are often repeated.   When participating in guided imagery, it’s very important to make yourself physically comfortable. Some people recline, while others prefer to sit with their feet touching the floor. Guided imagery should never be listened to while driving

This example of guided imagery is also from YouTube.

 

 

In addition to taking advantage of your brainwaves in order to self-soothe, relax, or focus, here are several other ways you can use your sense of hearing to thwart cravings:

  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Head outdoors and find a quiet spot to sit and listen to the sounds of nature around you
  • Listen to recorded nature sounds
  • Hum a soothing tune or sing a beautiful song
  • If you’re able, play an instrument
  • Call a family member or friend ( I read a study a few years ago about how the sound of your mother’s voice can lower your blood pressure. This explains why my daughter called me six times a day her first year of medical school!)
  • Read aloud your favorite poems, stories, or affirmations
  • Listen to an audio book

How do you use your sense of hearing to relax?  Is there anything else that could be added to the list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blogging, Friday Fixes, Self-Soothing, Uncategorized

Friday Fixes: Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Sight

PhotoFunia Cookies Writing Regular 2014-03-24 03 00 32

The pressure of work is making you batty.  Your kids have you climbing the walls.  You’re worried about your daughter’s new relationship and are even more stressed  about the fight you had with your partner last night.  You slip into the break room, or your kitchen at home and scan the vending machine, or peruse the pantry.  You may think that King-sized Snicker’s bar looks good, or that leftover lasagna from last night is calling your name.  You wolf down your food of choice even though, less than an hour ago, you just had a healthy lunch.   Suddenly, the good feeling you had while chewing has swallowed you up in feelings of guilt, shame, and failure.  Your work, your kids and your stressors are still with you, but so are those extra  300 calories that you just consumed.

addictionIt’s no surprise that food is often our go-to drug when stress, anxiety, or worry get the best of us.  Research has found that humans produce opioids, in response to digesting excess sugars and fats, that have the same chemical structures found in addictive narcotics, like heroin and morphine. Furthermore, brain imaging proves that when given food, the same  dopamine receptors light up in the brains of  obese people,  as they do in the brains of drug addicts when given their drug of choice.  Another study showed that the visual cue of simply seeing pictures of certain foods can evoke the same dopamine response in some food addicts (Werdell, 2009).

By understanding that our sense of sight is powerful enough to alter our brain chemistry, it makes sense to surround ourselves with images that can comfort us and combat our desire to overeat.  Creating a positively visually stimulating environment is very simple and inexpensive, and most of us already do it to some extent.  The key is to not only have visually pleasing things within your range of sight, but to also mindfully focus and give attention them when a stressful situation or a food craving hits.

Some suggestions for using visual cues for self-soothing would be to:

  • Identify, and surround yourself with colors that are relaxing to you
  • Place items that you enjoy, like a vacation souvenir, a religious symbol, or pieces of art, in your home or workplace
  • Hang up pictures of people, places and things that bring you joy
  • Frame inspirational quotes, poems, or religious verses and place them where you can easily see them for inspiration.
  • Walk outdoors and observe the beauty of nature
  • If it’s evening when a craving hits, look at the starry skyimage_8
  • Keep a photo album of loved ones close by
  • Light a candle and watch the flame
  • Get a manicure and look at your lovely nails
  • Read a favorite book or magazine (just not a cookbook or cooking magazine!)
  • Watch a funny movie or TV show
  • Set up a small aquarium or fish tank in your home or office (watching the aqua life is so relaxing)
  • Buy fresh flowers to put in your home or work space
  • Peruse the internet for clothing that you’ll soon fit into, if you continue on your weight loss path
  • Go to your mirror and put on makeup or fix your hair
  • Look up fantasy vacation spots or dream homes on the internet
  • Check on your pets (Your cat probably needs something!)
  • Look through the photos on your phone
  • Take a selfie and remember that you are your most important person!

 

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Looking at vacation pictures, or pictures of places you’d like to visit can get your mind off of your cravings.

 

What are some other ways that you could use your sense of sight to calm yourself in times of stress?

 

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.(2006). Weight Loss Tips.

Coping and Self-Soothing Techniques.Psyke.org

Mahoney, Elizabeth. Pleasurable Activities List. SouthTampaTherapy.com.

Werdell, P. (2009). Physical Craving and Food Addiction: A Scientific Review. Food Addiction Institute

blogging, dealing with food cravings, emotional eating, Food Addiction, Friday Fixes, Having fun, learning, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, Mindful Eating, problem solving, Self-Soothing, sensory input, setting goals, Tips fot weight loss, weight loss journal

A Soothing Series; Friday Fixes

Enjoying nature is a wonderful way of soothing yourself. (Photo by Fotolia)
Enjoying nature is a wonderful way of soothing yourself. (Photo by Fotolia)

Yesterday, I attended an amazing behavioral modification class at the bariatric center.  The topic was Self-Soothing, and I know many of you who suffer from food addictions, emotional eating, or just general stress in your life, will be interested in tips and techniques  to combat stress, as well as the desire to eat when you’re not really hungry.

Food provides a series of sensory experiences.  We hear it sizzling, bubbling, or simmering on the stove and smell it’s tempting aroma as it’s prepared.  We see its glorious shapes and colors and taste its sweet, sour, salty, bitter, or savory flavors.  We experience its consistency and texture as we move it in our mouths. Temporarily, it fills a need.  Momentarily its a panacea that soothes out anxiety or makes us forget something in our lives that’s missing.  Then, like most fleeting fixes, it leaves us  guilt-ridden and hungry for more. Because of the sensory nature of food, replacing it with another pleasurable sensory experience as a remedy for cravings when you’re full or when your daily nutritional needs have been met, is often very effective.

Over the next two months, I’m going to offer a series of well-researched posts each Friday that I’ll call Friday Fixes.  These posts will focus on sensory techniques to combat overeating, as well as mindful eating techniques and general stress busters.  As always, I welcome your topic ideas, suggestions, or feedback!  

******Next week’s topic will be Self-Soothing through Visual Sensory Input.******

Doesn't this image make you feel calmer? (Photo from Microsoft Images)
Doesn’t this image make you feel calmer? (Photo from Microsoft Images)

 

 

Disclaimer (as I have no desire to incite trouble 🙂 ): I am not an expert on behavioral modification or weight loss. However, as a licensed teacher and public relations specialist, I am research savvy and able to provide information from reliable, scholarly sources.