How I Conquered Snickers

Success Story #1:

My Life-Changing Experience (Excerpt from Lose Weight Now…Stay Slim Forever)

How I learned to be kinder to myself, to purposely interrupt the cycle, to take myself out of the power struggle, to give myself permission.

I had a number of “food fears”. I was terrified to walk down the candy aisle of a supermarket for fear of buying all the candy and then consuming it. I felt out of control and didn’t think I could trust myself not to overeat. So I avoided and actively steered myself away from the candy aisle whenever I was in a supermarket. I tried to keep a tight rein on myself thinking it was the only way to stay in control.

But it wasn’t working.

The tighter I held the reins, the more I would rebel and fight myself. I would go on a binge, which only reinforced my vision of being out of control. It was a vicious circle.

I had a special affinity for Snickers-probably because my mother had a reputation for hiding them from us as kids. I used to eat Snickers on occasion and thought it was such an indulgence that I probably didn’t even taste them. I felt too guilty to really enjoy them.

At some point, I decided to break the cycle.

I decided to face my fear and to do exactly what I was most afraid of.

I went to the candy aisle purposely and bought 2 bags of Snickers. I carried them everywhere-in the car, at home and at work. Snickers were my new best friend. I gave myself permission to eat them whenever I wanted them. It was one big experiment. I had no idea what the results would be. I only knew that I couldn’t keep going on the way things were. And avoiding the problem was only making things worse.

Having that permission made me feel a lot more relaxed. I no longer had to fight myself. I went through the 2 bags and bought 2 more bags. I ate them whenever I wanted. I ate them slowly. I tasted them fully. I enjoyed them. I kept buying more bags until one day, something strange happened. I didn’t want them anymore. I had finished a bag and had no urge to go and buy more. The Snickers magic was gone. They weren’t charged for me any more. I didn’t dislike them. They had just lost their power. They were neutral.

I haven’t been afraid to walk down a candy aisle since-in fact, I don’t think I’ve had a Snickers bar since then.

What happened? What made the difference? Did I just satiate myself to the point of not wanting them anymore? It’s possible, but I think it was something more than that. It was something about being able to be kinder to myself, to purposely interrupt the cycle, to take myself out of the power struggle, to give myself permission. The result was like a temper tantrum without an audience-it just doesn’t have the same impact. It can’t be maintained without something to push up against.

I knew I had given myself a life-changing experience. It felt different. There was no vicious cycle. The life was gone out of it-I had crossed a threshold. Unfortunately, despite the victory of sorts, I had to wait a long time to fully understand the experience and how to apply what I already knew to my whole life… [ Continued in the book]

The Candy Diet

A lot of people use candy (and other sweets) to deal with stress and mute their emotions.

Let’s face it – candy is a quick and easy fix.

the-candy-diet

Maybe too easy…

And unfortunately, loaded with toxic chemicals.

If you find yourself eating candy in your car or anywhere in private, chances are you are using it to soothe yourself…. or to get through a difficult situation… or do something you don’t want to do.

We do what we do with food for very good reasons!

Back to the Candy Diet –

I considered writing a book by this title when I discovered that there used to be a website by that name.

I don’t think there was much research behind it, but there was a diet where you used some type of oil before meals to reduce appetite.

Crazy, right?

Crazy enough to make sense…

So I wondered what would happen if I ate my own candy, which is high in good fats, between meals.

This is not the candy that you buy in the store! Way too sweet for me…

But one of the best strategies to eat less sugar is to is to *train* yourself to prefer low sugar treats.

The way to do this is simply to start making them yourself and use less sugar.

That way, you aren’t eating *less* – you are just eating less sugar.

There are plenty of recipes that already have less sugar.

So it’s just being *willing* to use those recipes and to make them yourself, instead of buying gobs of the store-bought, super-sweet toxic variety.

You’ll notice a difference in your weight and your mood over time.

You may even eat less, because you feel more satisfied.

No, it’s not eliminating sugar altogether …but I never was about that anyway 🙂

We can all do a bit better on this!

Click here to download the recipe!

Trick The Brain To Stop Overeating

stop_eatingAccording to Dr. Daniel Amen, different people have different brain types, which in turn, influence weight. Different types of overeaters require different strategies.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Are you a Compulsive Overeater?

You are if you…

  • Get stuck on thoughts of food and on compulsive eating behavior
  • Get fixated on depressing or anxious thoughts
  • Get locked into one course of action
  • Have trouble seeing options, and want things ‘your’ way
  • Tend to hold grudges
  • Commonly gorge at night, rather than during the day

The cause: low serotonin levels in the brain

What Helps –

  • Exercise, as this allows more of the serotonin precursor, tryptophan, to enter the brain.
  • If you get a negative or food-orientated thought in your head more than three times, immediately get up and do something to distract yourself.
  • Make a list of 10 things you can do instead of eating so you can distract yourself.
  • Choose a diet that gives choices – people with this brain type don’t do well with rigid rules.
  • TAP to reduce negative thoughts and emotions

2. Are you an Emotional Overeater?

You are if you…

  • Eat to try to cheer yourself up
  • Suffer from low mood – anything from mild seasonal blues to actual depression
  • Feel unable enjoy activities you used to find pleasurable
  • Experience low energy or feelings of guilt, helplessness or hopelessness
  • Find it harder to control your weight in winter

The Brain Cause: Low Vitamin D and DHEA

What Helps –

  • Exercise, to boost blood flow and mood-lifting neurotransmitters.
  • Change your thinking. Your body reacts physically to negative thoughts like, “I ate cake, I’ve already blown it, I may as well keep going.” Reframe any negatives thoughts with a positive: “I enjoyed the cake and will eat less at dinner to keep myself on track.”
  • Write down five things you are grateful for every day – this has been shown to increase happiness within three weeks.
  • Vitamin D supplements and bright light therapy can be helpful for this brain type.
  • TAP to reduce negative thoughts and emotions

3. Are you an Impulsive Overeater?

You are if you…

  • Begin the day intending to eat well, and then give in to temptation
  • Regularly say ‘I’m starting my diet tomorrow’
  • Act impulsively, without thinking through the consequences
  • Find yourself easily distracted
  • Get bored easily
  • Struggle with sticking to plans and motivating yourself

The Brain Cause: Low activity in the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s supervisor. Low levels of calming neurotransmitter dopamine.

What Helps

  • Exercise, to increase blood flow and dopamine levels in the brain.
  • Make a clear list of your health goals, and display it where you can see it every day.
  • Accountability – check in regularly with a person or support group to help you stay focused.
  • Avoid impulsively saying yes to offers of food and drink: practice saying, “No thank you, I’m full. Or “No thank you. I’ve had enough.”
  • Visualize yourself leaving a social gathering feeling good.
  • TAP for patience and the ability to “pass it up for now.”

4. Are you an Anxious Overeater?

You are if you…

  • Use food as a way of soothing anxiety, tension or fear
  • Have physical symptoms of anxiety such as muscle tension, nail biting, headaches, abdominal pain or palpitations
  • Expect the worst and feel fearful of the future
  • Get easily startled and tend to freeze in social situations
  • Struggle with sleep – worry is the #1 factor that keeps us awake at night.

The Brain Cause: Increased activity in the basal ganglia, caused by low levels of the calming neurotransmitter GABA.

What Helps

  • Calming activities such as yoga and Z Point.
  • Relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.
  • Counteracting any negative thoughts (see The Emotional Overeater).
  • Supplements of vitamin B6 and magnesium help boost GABA, reducing the tendency to overeat in response to anxiety.
  • Tap to correct the energy imbalance that is causing the anxiety.

Unfortunately, many people have a combination of these patterns. The common threads that run through all of them are just plain solutions that make sense.

  • Exercise, even if it’s 5 minutes per day while watching TV 🙂
  • Connect to others: participate in activities that are relaxing and fun.
  • Make tapping a regular practice!

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Actually, you can. It may not be easy. But you can.

The real problem is with keeping it off. Wouldn’t you love to have kept off every pound you have ever lost? We’d all be super thin! And there’d be no need to keep losing the same weight over and over again. No wonder people give up!

Name anything that you want. More money … a slim body … a red convertible.

Now … why don’t you have it?

I’ll tell you why. It has nothing to do with calories, carbohydrates, a slow metabolism, your mother’s physique, how much you don’t exercise, or anything else outside of yourself. It’s in your own mind.

Not even in your thoughts or your conscious mind. The roadblock is deeper – buried in your subconscious mind. When you are trying to lose weight and you aren’t getting there, chances are, your subconscious holds some conflicting intentions.

Simply said — You want something and it doesn’t.

Your conscious (logical) mind is like the rider. The subconscious (emotional) mind is like the elephant you are trying to steer. As long as the elephant wants to go in the same direction as the rider, there’s not a problem. But when the emotional mind wants something else, the rider has very little control.

Think about it – Are you giving yourself contradictory instructions, such as “I want to lose weight” and “I want those double chocolate espresso brownies?”

Notice anything strange about those 2 statements? Those are like orders to your subconscious mind — and they are going in 2 different directions. After years of such frustrating and contradictory messages, your subconscious mind gives up and stops listening to what your conscious mind wants. Nothing changes.

In other words, you cancel out your own request. You think “I want to lose weight,” and right after that, you think “but I HATE dieting, and that would be hard, and it probably won’t last anyway, so why bother?”

As a result, you don’t get what you want.

The subconscious emotional mind wins every time.

But I have good news for you. You can learn some simple techniques to end this mental self-sabotage. It won’t happen automatically. There are processes, like EFT and Z Point that work with the body and the subconscious mind.

Your subconscious habits govern your behavior. As an infant, you learn to cry when you are hungry. As a young child, someone probably gave you sweets when you were upset. You learned that you could feel calmer when you eat them. It becomes a subconscious habit — an automatic response, just like an infant’s cry. But these automatic responses lose their effectiveness as we grow older. If an adult keeps throwing a bigger and bigger tantrum, they just look silly, and alienate other people in the process.

Why? The subconscious habit they learned as an infant now works against them. And soothing yourself with food as you did when you are a child works against you as an adult. For you to be successful at things that seem impossible, those outdated subconscious patterns have to be changed into new patterns that support your ability to get what you want.

And keep it.

Emotional Eating: If I Were Coaching Montel Williams

emotional eatingRecently on the Dr. Oz show, Montel Williams came on to talk about his problems with emotional eating and binge eating.

When asked about the root cause of his emotional eating,  Montel described a life-changing traumatic event.

When he was 19 years old and in the Marine Corp, he weighed 142 lb. He was a welterweight boxer.

His cohorts told him that he needed to “bulk up” and put on some weight. So he started working out and lifting weights. One day, he worked out so hard that he tore his pectoral muscle and it swelled up.

When he went to the doctor, he was mistakenly diagnosed with male breast cancer, and had a radical double mastectomy (removal of the nipples and all the tissue down to the chest wall on both sides.) As a young man with mastectomy scars, he felt completely ashamed. And even though he achieved great levels of success in television as well as health and fitness, he soothed his emotional pain with food.

When I hear stories like this, I wish that Montel had consulted me! I could have saved him over 30 years of shame and the emotional eating that resulted from it.

So what do we have here?

One specific event that resulted in years of trauma and emotional eating to push down the pain.

The problem is that emotional eating doesn’t solve anything. Just like anti-anxiety medication doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t even take the emotions away. It only masks the painful emotions temporarily. And anything that reminds Montel of the shame of his body image from that moment on only reinforces the pain.

The solution?

It’s pretty simple really, and it doesn’t take years of therapy…

I would teach him about the psychology of traumatic events and how symptoms like emotional eating can result from it. I would LOVE to have taught him Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) although it hadn’t been invented yet in 1974 when the incident occurred.

Using EFT, I would have him recall the event and helped him to neutralize all the negative emotions associated with it … everything he could remember that was still emotionally charged when he thinks about it now. I would start with whatever he feels angry about…what was said…what was done…his outrage at the doctors…the shame and humiliation that he must have felt all these years. So unnecessary…

I admire Montel for his courage, intelligence and willingness to be open and vulnerable in sharing his story. However, sometimes people just don’t know where to go for the best help. You can spend years in traditional therapy talking about this type of event, how it made you feel, how it affected you then, and how it’s still affecting you now.

With EFT, Matrix Reimprinting (an advanced EFT technique to deal with trauma) and Z Point to sweep up any loose ends, he would feel completely different about what happened in a few short sessions. And while he would still have scars, the event itself would be reduced to just another thing that happened along the way. Ok, Montel…the invitation’s still open…:-)

Stress Eating & Emotional Fatigue

I once wrote about giving into my fatigue at the airport and eating a bagel when I wasn’t hungry. Everyone eats for emotional and stress relief reasons occasionally. That’s NOT what gets you in trouble.

It’s the constant, dimly conscious, reactive eating that keeps occurring time and time again that will put on weight.

Let’s face it – some people are barely aware of their own existence, much less their eating habits!

It’s what you do AFTER the emotional eating that matters most. If you berate yourself, it often sets off another whole storm of emotions – guilt, anger, self hatred, defeat, hopelessness, etc. that then have to be dealt with (and often lead to more emotional eating.)

If you allow it to continue, then a brief lapse into emotional eating can turn into several days of semi-binging. Continue reading

The Willpower Trap

Ever wonder if you have enough willpower to stop stress eating and lose the weight you want?

5 decades ago, there was a famous study, fondly called the “marshmallow study.”

Preschool kids were asked to sit in front of a marshmallow, and not eat it for a full 15 minutes.

The kids who were successful at accomplishing this task were studied over the next 2 decades and shown to do better in almost every area of life than kids who grabbed the marshmallow and ate it right away.

For instance, kids who delayed gratification:

  • scored hundreds of points higher on standardized tests in school
    had stronger relationships
  • were promoted more often, and
  • were happier.

Unfortunately, to this day, this study is misinterpreted. Most people draw the wrong conclusion, by assuming that the only reason (among all the possible reasons) that some kids were better at delaying gratification is that they had more “willpower.” That they were somehow stronger, in some way, to be able to withstand the temptation. Period.

This is the same simplistic conclusion that we make when we think about why we don’t change our own bad habits. When we fall off the wagon and overeat, we blame it on a lack of willpower. When we succeed, we also attribute it to our persistence and commitment to the goal. Either way, we blame or give credit to one single factor – the almighty willpower.

This is tragically wrong…

It’s wrong because it’s incomplete, and it’s tragic because it gives us no wiggle room when things don’t go as we would like. When you believe your ability to make good choices depends only on willpower, you will eventually stop trying. It’s not something you can get more of, really…and the more you use it, the more you use it up and the more likely you are to quit.

This pattern keeps you in a depressing cycle starting with massive commitment to change, and followed by eroding motivation and relapse into old habits.

That’s the willpower trap.

Fortunately, a follow up study, showed that what seems like will, may be more about skill. The kids who were successful developed skills to manage the challenge. Some even developed clever strategies, like distracting themselves or creating a game out of it, until the researchers returned.

In fact, it was shown in this later study that when kids were taught skills, 50% more were successful. No willpower necessary.

One of the biggest barriers to success is NOT lack of willpower, but the belief that willpower is the key to change.

“Food Calms Me Down”

It’s a famfood calms me downiliar refrain that I have heard often from my clients.

I used to think the same thing. That is . . . if I took time to think about it at all.

If what you need is to be calm, then there may not be faster ways to do it, but there are far better ways to do it, with fewer negative consequences.

What it takes to calm down is to get better at managing your moods. It takes SKILL, (not willpower) to break habits and to separate food from feelings.

Yes, you may have to break the habit of reaching for food automatically (more on that later), but it’s not willpower that you lack.

Instead, work on developing emotional management skills using real tools, such as:

1. Emotional Freedom Techniques – (EFT) Tapping is the first line of defense. Why? It does 1 thing really well – neutralizes negative emotions.

2. Learn to identify and feel your feelings instead of stuffing them with food. Yes, food is a quick fix and a convenient “mute” button for emotions, but there’s always a price to pay.

3. Learn to “think” differently about how you feel. You can’t necessarily “think” your way out of a negative emotional situation in the moment, but there are strategies you can use to help yourself calm down.

4. Set boundaries and increase assertiveness skills. You’ll feel less overwhelmed and more in control when there are fewer demands.

5. Hitting the “pause” button. When you find yourself reaching for food, hit the imaginary pause button, long enough to ask yourself a couple of questions. Am I hungry? Will this help? If you are intent on eating, then it may not stop you, but at least you start to face the truth.

Your turn – What helps you to manage your moods?

Psychological Eating

How much of your eating is physiological and how much is psychological eating?

How you feel in any given moment depends upon how you are managing your emotional states. It is human nature to want to feel good.

That is one reason why so many people use food to manage emotions, and change the way they feel.

When something happens that triggers a negative emotion, then psychological eating comes into play. If you aren’t hungry, and you ask yourself why you are eating, most often the answer will be “to change the way I feel.” Continue reading

Psychology Of Eating

psychology of eating It’s time for the psychology of eating. After all, you’ve tried all the diets. You’ve counted calories, carbohydrates and fat grams.

You’ve studied every food combination ever invented and used your own body as a laboratory. They work—temporarily.

They may even work for months at a time and you think you’ve finally licked it. You have found the answer. But then slowly… insidiously… you start to regain. The pounds creep back on. You do what the books tell you to do. You try to lose it again right away, but you feel it slipping away.

This is the psychology of eating at work.

Continue reading