A Good Reason Why We Do What We Do

always a good reasonAre you afraid there’s something wrong with you because you constantly crave something sweet or salty or because you binge eat?

What if there was a perfectly good reason?

What if that craving was your body’s way of seeking to balance itself? What if gaining back the weight you worked so hard to lose was not a lack of willpower but a way of keeping you safe, clumsy as it may seem?

We do what we do because on a deeper level the body is seeking balance and/or safety – even if this means sabotaging health goals.

So what if we approached things differently? What if we let go of the struggle with our bodies, with the thought that there is something wrong with us, and tried something different? What if we stepped away from self-judgement and started:

♥ To intimately listening to what’s really going on.

♥ To be brutally honest with ourselves.

♥ To face the underlying cause instead of cursing the symptoms.

For example, if we listen closely to those pesky sweet cravings, we notice that the body might be trying to tell us:

You’re not eating enough protein, healthy fat and fiber to keep blood sugar levels stable.

You need more pleasure or ‘sweetness’ in your life.

Or those binges when we come home from work might be the body trying to tell us: 



I need you to stop and enjoy food during the day – otherwise I start to panic about not getting enough fuel and eat as much as I can when I can. 

Or: I am trying to protect you from the loneliness you feel when you’re alone and food is the best way I know how.  

Going on the rampage for anything salty might be the body’s way of saying:
I need salt, and since you don’t add any to your cooking, I am trying to get it the only way I can.

And if you listen to the message your body is trying to give you behind losing weight only to gain it back, it might be:

You don’t feel comfortable with the attention you get when you’re thin so I am trying to keep you safe by putting the weight back on.

So there is always a good reason or reasons why we do what we do that has nothing to do with being defective or weak or lacking willpower.

When we stop struggling against our bodies and start listening instead, we uncover the underlying causes behind cravings, weight gain or binges.

And by understanding how the body is trying to find balance or keep us safe instead of cursing it, making change no longer feels like an uphill battle.

If this resonates with you and you would like to explore your body’s message behind the cravings, binges or weight gain, I am currently offering free 30 minute sessions. Book yours by Skype or in person here.

Find Your Word for 2015

Word of the Year

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I now come up with a Word of the Year.

This is a simple way of focusing on something you want more of this year, based on the idea that what you focus on, grows.

Your Word of the Year can help inspire and guide your choices and actions throughout the year.

In 2013, my Word of the Year was PASSION. I used PASSION to guide the way I lived my life and the choices I made in both my work (starting this blog, leaving an 8 year career in advertising to share my passion for healthy living) and my private life (from going to Australia to everyday activities like cooking, yoga or reading).

For 2014, I decided my Word of the Year  would be LIGHTNESS. I started the year thinking of lightness as more about fun, laughter, not taking things so seriously. However, what life taught me this year was more around acceptance and letting go, which have proven to be an ultimate form of lightness. I also discovered another form of lightness in taking my pleasure more seriously, especially during the 6 weeks I spent in Dubai.

I also explored feeling physically lighter in my body not just through food as I had originally thought, but also through a greater focus on movement. During my 6 weeks in Dubai, I experimented with many different styles of yoga, pilates and even a combination of both, yogalates. I also reconnected with a love for dance through Nia dance and 5rhythmn dance. What I learned through these experiences is that I not only want to feel lightness in my body, but also strength – and that the two are very complimentary.

Finally, this year, I fell in love with ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which I am currently specializing in. Applying ACT concepts, which are very much based on mindfulness, helps me lighten my thinking. I now realize that self-doubt is just part of the journey, and that I can allow these thoughts to be there without getting weighed down by them. I wrote more about how I no longer take my fears so seriously in this article.

For 2015, my Word of the Year is PRESENCE. I would like to be more present in everything I do, from taking a shower, to talking with people to cooking. I notice that the more fully present I am to my experiences and my life, the more magical they feel. I want to be able to touch this magic more often, and to give more of my attention to myself and the people I am with by being in the here and now, instead of thinking about something in the past or future. By being present with whatever shows up, I wish to fully experience life, both the pleasant and the not so pleasant, to be more fully alive and vital.

So how do you go about finding your word of the year?

1. Connect to your desires. 

Take some time to yourself, and really think about what you WANT out of life in this moment.

You might want to try listing everything you can think of even if it seems frivolous. This can include anything from the new iPad to getting married to going to Thailand on holiday.

2. Identify the feelings behind what you want

Once you have your desire list, identify how getting what you have listed will make you feel. What is the feeling you are chasing? As Danielle LaPorte writes “You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling.”

For example, maybe you want an iPad because it will allow you to feel connected. Or going to Thailand will help you feel adventurous. And perhaps you want to get married because what you are really looking for is stability.

3. Choose the word that attracts you most

Now go back to your list and look at the feelings you have written. What comes across most clearly or really makes your heart sing? What word makes you feel expansive, inspired, turned on?

Play with the idea that this might be your word of the year for a few days before deciding on this. You can try writing several words out on post-its around your home to see which you feel most drawn to.

Once you have your word of the year, you can really own it by creating a collage of images that remind you of this, creating an affirmation around it (I desire to be more present) or simply having it written out somewhere you can see it. You can even use it for email or social media passwords as a daily reminder (for example:beherenow2015).

I would love to hear from you – what’s your Word of the Year?

If you want to start the year off with the support you need to lose weight, make peace with food or simply make healthier life choices, why not book a free Health Chat to find out whether my approach is right for you?

What Makes Food Taste Good?

What makes food taste good.jpg

I must have done something right in my life since I am lucky enough to have married a (wonderful) man of Italian origin – which of course means delicious food whenever we visit his family in Italy.

This Easter, we decided to visit the region around Bologna, Parma and Modena –  places that gifted the world with food such as Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, salami, balsamic vinegar and stuffed pastas.

We didn’t plan any of our meals – we simply stumbled into the first restaurant we came across when we were hungry.

And every single meal we ate was amazing. Not just good, but amazing. And this got us thinking – what is the secret behind the world-renown food of this region?

Here is my attempt to put into words what makes food taste good based on my recent Italian road trip:

1. The quality of the ingredients

Italian cooking is based on using only the best quality ingredients. The preparation methods are very simple and rely on taste provided by the ingredients used rather than a complex preparation technique or heavy sauce.

2. Food is prepared with love – or at least pride

My mother used to say this was the secret ingredient in her cooking and my adolescent self would roll her eyes. My adult self has to admit that this really makes a difference. A few of the very simple restaurants we ate at still had the 80 year old owner taking our order and making sure the food was prepared just right. People are proud of food and food preparation is taken seriously.

3. Umami elements

Many of the ingredients we associate with Italian food such as tomatoes, olives/olive oil, garlic, onion, Parmesan, cured meats, balsamic vinegar, mushrooms etc are actually umami. As I have written before, adding elements of umami to your dishes is a sure way to boost taste – and when we boost taste, we also reduce cravings and overeating, as these happen when we eat food that isn’t exciting enough for our taste buds.

4. Being hungry

Being hungry enough to truly enjoy a meal is a gift we give ourselves. When we are constantly snacking and avoid ever getting really hungry, we can’t appreciate food in the same way.

Good food.jpg

I would love to hear from you – what makes food taste good in your opinion? 

6 Books That Changed My Thinking in 2013

Top reads 2013I have always loved reading – a little like Roald Dahl’s character Mathilda pictured here!

Of all the books I read this year, six in particular stand out in having really changed the way I think. Here are my top reads for 2013.

I usually buy my books from Book Depository, a website I love because they do worldwide free delivery and have the lowest prices I have found anywhere (including amazon). I am such a fan that I am now an affiliate – so if you decide to buy any of these books or other books from this website, please do so by clicking on this link or directly on the book titles below so I can earn points to buy even more books (it won’t cost you anything more)!

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

The main idea of this book is that we all have an ‘Upper Limit’ – a set point or thermostat of happiness defined by what we were told growing up and the beliefs we’ve interiorized. When we surpass this limit, we start to sabotage ourselves because we are uncomfortable with so much happiness. This keeps us from making the ‘big leap’ into what Hendricks calls our Zone of Genius – a place where we are able to express our full potential.

I think we can all identify with self-sabotage to a certain extent. This can look like healthy eating and living for a few days and feeling really great…then pigging out on unhealthy foods for no apparent reason. Or it can be finally getting into an exercise routine you feel good about…then having an accident that prevents you from exercising for several weeks.

I read this book while travelling in Australia in October and it made me realize that the worries I often have while traveling is a form of Upper Limit thinking. Simply realizing this changed my travel experience.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

Simply becoming aware of upper limiting behavior like worrying and self-sabotage behavior and focusing on cultivating a feeling of deservedness instead.

Find Out More: 

Watch this 5 minute interview with the author:

 

The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self by Charles Eisenstein

Having studied over 100 dietary theories as diverse as the Paleo Diet, veganism and Macrobiotics during my nutrition training, the approach taken by Charles Eisenstein is actually what makes most sense to me.

Rather than trusting some external doctrine on what we should or shouldn’t eat, this book helps you access a higher authority: Your own body.

The approach this book takes is what I have based my Health Coaching on, and even the name of my website: Healthwise. It is about connecting with your own inner wisdom to find the food and lifestyle habits that nourish YOU best because no one way of eating works for everyone.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

Trusting my own body’s wisdom has helped me find true freedom with food. I also loved the unorthodox view of eating animals which you can read here.

What I have noticed with both myself and my clients is that when you start eating from a place of trust and intuition, this has a ripple effect and you start living your whole life more intuitively.

Find Out More: 

Read my blog post on Eisenstein’s definition of karma.

Watch this 3 minute video by the author

 

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie

I read this book during Christmas 2012, then spent 2013 trying to put it into practice and watching videos on the Byron Katie website. I re-read it this December and it spoke to me even more.

For me, this book is based on 3 main ideas:

1. It is not what happens to us but our thoughts about what happens that cause suffering, especially not accepting the reality of what is. As Byron Katie says,  “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time”. 

2. We do not need to attach to our thoughts – we can examine them using the 4 questions outlined in Byron Katie’s method, The Work.

3. For every thought that causes suffering, the opposite or a turn around can be just as true.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

I constantly try to examine my own thinking and this has brought me much more peace. I have also integrated it into my Health Coaching practice as certain beliefs can often stop us from making the healthy change we want.

Find Out More:

You can find all the resources you need to do The Work yourself on Byron Katie’s excellent website here.

Watch this 10 minute summary of the book:

 

The Slow Down Diet by Marc David

Marc David is the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. He focuses on applying psychology and nutrition in a way that is novel and exciting for me.

This books focuses not so much on WHAT we eat, but on how our attitude to food, the quality of what we eat, when we eat and how we eat affects our metabolism.

Marc David’s main idea is that it is only by slowing down, decreasing stress and truly taking pleasure in eating that we can sustainably change our relationship to food and increase our metabolism to lose weight.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

A deeper understanding of the mind-body connection as related to emotional eating, weight loss, and digestion.

Find Out More: 

Read this blog post I wrote on how WHEN we eat impacts our metabolism, inspired by this book.

 

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Brené Brown is a researcher and storyteller who has studied emotions such as vulnerability and shame. This book discusses how vulnerability is not about being weak or imperfect, but is essential to living wholeheartedly and truly connecting with people.

According to her research, if we are unable to be vulnerable, to take risks, to open up to people or make mistakes, we risk living a life that is lonely, detached and unfulfilled.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

A realization that to live a truly connected life, I need to risk being vulnerable more, even if this means opening myself up to failure and rejection. It also made me realize that behind perfectionism is a fear of not being good enough.

Find Out More: 

A 3 minute animated film on empathy which summarizes Brené Brown’s approach incredibly well. :

You can also watch her TED talks on vulnerability and on shame.

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is the opening paragraph of the book:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Doesn’t it already have you hooked?

This book juggles themes such as pride, goodness, love, the human need we all have for magic and escape and enchantment and the lengths we are willing to go to follow our passion…or to prove a point. The structure of the book is also very unique, told from the point of view of different characters at different moments in time. Yet it somehow all comes together in a way that left me spellbound.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

More than change my thinking, this book left me with a feeling: A lingering air of pure magic.

Find Out More: 

Watch the trailer for the book:

Finding Bliss…Everyday

offsite

With summer in full bloom, what better time to make finding bliss in everyday life a daily habit? That is what my “Find your daily bliss” 15-day challenge on Facebook set out to do at the beginning of the month.

Here are some realizations on bliss this awesome group of Bliss Seekers revealed:

Bliss moments can be created: Relaxing with a nice cup of chai tea, taking time to pamper oneself, making raw brownies, going on a swing in a park instead of just walking past or choosing to work outside (as in the photo above).

Some bliss moments creep up on us like a sudden thunderstorm on a scorching day or getting a present from someone.

♦ Often, bliss is what you make of it – getting caught in the rain and choosing to dance and splash in the puddles or being in a dangerous situation and choosing to focus on the happy outcome instead.

Bliss can also just be a feeling or realization, such as the feeling that you are exactly where you need to be right now, doing exactly what you want to be doing.

Seeking bliss makes you more mindful: It can be something you become aware of that you might not have noticed before becoming a Bliss Seeker, such as the smell of summer in the air during an evening run or the sound of birds tweeting.

Bliss can even be found in unexpected moments: Through being able to find little moments of bliss despite a difficult time, or by turning activities such as cleaning or organizing into moments of bliss.

♦ Sharing bliss with others through this Facebook group made the bliss moment even more precious and meaningful – a bliss moment shared, is a bliss moment magnified.

Above all, the greatest realization is that we can always find moments of bliss – they come from within. Of course, being on holiday or in out in the sun makes it easier to find these bliss moments, but the overwhelming impression from the challenge is that they can be found anywhere, anytime, no matter what we are going through.

We can always choose bliss. And writing down our bliss or sharing it with others helps us see it more clearly.

As written in this article:

Pursuing pleasure is a worthy goal. Life happens whether we are mindful of it or not, and being mindful of the quirky, the fun, and the meaningful makes these things stand out more in the mosaic of one’s time. We see what we’re looking for and, as I’m reminded every day, writing things down can help us see.

We have decided to keep posting our bliss moments, not necessarily everyday, but to keep the group open to support and share with each other. So if you would like to become a Bliss Seeker, join the group!

Inspiration from Julia Child

Julia Child