Tag Archives: choices

How to Stop Emotional Eating Habits

Have you ever had a stressful day and reached for a bag of chips or chocolate bar without thinking?

Food is comforting, satisfying, and calming to the brain. So it is almost automatic to turn to food when you are anxious, tired, or angry. It is among many quick fixes that are proven to help reduce that stressed out feeling.

Of course it’s hard to maintain a healthy weight when food is your only comfort for stress. So many people are looking for ways to stop their emotional eating, especially when it becomes a mindless habit.

To explore the topic of conquering emotional eating, I have invited Lauren Chitwood, Health Coach for Take Shape for Life, to share her empowering story.

Marci: Many people struggle to set new goals for their health because they feel helpless about change. What helped you begin to shift how you thought about changing your habits?

Lauren: I knew I had to make a change in my life when I noticed my medical bills increasing. I was gaining weight each month and nothing I tried was working. I realized that I had an unhealthy relationship with food, and I wanted to stop being on yo-yo diets.

My feet hurt from carrying extra weight, and I was concerned about preventing diabetes. I knew my health was declining, and decided I could no longer put off making a permanent change in my eating habits. It was getting hard to enjoy being active with my family.

Marci: Many people turn to food for comfort during stressful or lonely times. Was this true for you?

Lauren: I was a stress eater. It was very easy for me to turn to food for comfort. One of my unhealthy habits was stopping at Quick Trip on my way home from work. I was stressed about my day and anxious about keeping up with my family’s evening activities.

I convinced myself that I deserved to grab a snack on my way home to have “me” time. I would eat a combination of candy, chocolate, salty foods, and diet pop. By the time I arrived home, I had eaten everything and felt guilty about my binge.

Marci: How did you stop turning to food for emotional reasons?

Lauren: I haven’t eliminated all stress or chaos, but I have found a new way to comfort myself. When I feel the urge to turn to comfort food, I stop myself by performing the following “Stop-Challenge-Choose” exercise:

  • Do Self-Inventory: “Why am I desiring junk food? Am I feeling anxious, bored, or stressed?”
  • Think about Long-Term Goals: “If I eat this candy/food will I sabotage my progress and possibly put myself off course?”
  • Replace Food: Find another way to calm myself that isn’t food.

Marci: What helps you stay motivated to keep working on your health goals?

Lauren: I read some books by Dr. Wayne Anderson explaining how motivation effects your results. Developing “outcome oriented motivation” instead of “conflict driven motivation” is what’s led me to maintaining my health and weight loss goals.

“Conflict driven motivation” is when an emotional conflict leads you to take action. Once you take action, you start to feel better. Yet your motivation to follow through on your goal decreases when you feel better. I realized this was the classic yo-yo dieting pattern I had tried with no lasting results.

“Outcome oriented motivation” focuses on what you want, not what you don’t want.  It focuses on a desired state that you want to create. I envision what optimal health means to me:

  • I want to stabilize my blood sugar, have healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • I want to run a 5K with my family.
  • I want to wear a tank top and shorts and be full of energy.
  • I want to be active even when I am a grandmother.

Shifting my motivation toward these goals helps me get through holiday parties and buffet lines. Focusing on the outcome I want helps me keep the weight off that I have  lost.

Marci: If your progress slows or you take a step backward, how do you get yourself back on track?

Lauren: Life still gets bumpy, but I keep my forward thinking goals in front of me and keep on moving toward my goals. When my weight loss slows down, I also take a deep breath and remember how far I have traveled on my journey. I look at the fact that I’ve made significant progress in a short amount of time. I hold onto knowing that I have found the last weight loss program I would ever need.

Marci: What unexpected benefits have you encountered along your journey?

Lauren: Losing weight and regaining my health has changed my life in ways I never expected. I had become socially reclusive, stopped reaching out to new relationships, and ignored my old friendships. I was embarrassed by how much weight I had gained, so I avoided people and social events. Emotionally I felt like a failure when I let food have control over me.

As I began losing weight, I almost immediately felt like I was back in control. That was one of the most empowering moments of my life. If I could conquer my food addiction, I could conquer anything!

As I continued losing weight, my social, friendly, and caring personality started to return. I began forming new relationships and reconnecting with old ones. I have a new level of confidence and sureness that I never embraced before now.

Marci: I want to thank Lauren for joining us today and sharing her struggles with food as well as her triumphs. Having only known Lauren after her health transformation, it’s hard to imagine her ever feeling insecure and unsure. She truly has transformed not only the outside but the inside too!

Anyone else have a question for Lauren about her health transformation or the program she coaches?

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Lauren guest

Lauren Chitwood is a Certified Health Coach with Take Shape for Life. Lauren has a passion for coaching others who are struggling with their weight and health goals. Watch this video to learn more about the Take Shape for Life Program, inluding free health coaching. 

Find More Enjoyment in Your To Do List

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Do you have a task you do weekly but dread it? For me, it’s grocery shopping. I would rather do anything other than go grocery shopping, even scrub toilets! On my grocery shopping day, I procrastinate getting this item done on my to do list.

I don’t want to dread this task anymore. I am choosing to find a new way to think about even the most mundane tasks.  If we change our thinking, we can find more enjoyment in our everyday to do lists.

6 Ways to Find Enjoyment in Mundane Tasks

Want to join me in this liberating exercise? First, identify a necessary task you want to enjoy more. Here are my ideas on liberating daily dread:

1. Make a list of likes/dislikes - Life is a mixed bag of positives and negatives, so work on seeing both sides even in mundane tasks. Uncover choices in how you think about your to do list by understanding why you do the task as well as why it bugs you.

2. Get real with yourself – The biggest thing I don’t like about my dreaded weekly chore is the time it takes. But when I am real with myself, I realize grocery shopping on a budget and making healthy food takes some planning. And planning means I invest time in the task.

3. Remember your values - Knowing the why behind why I dedicate the time to do the mundane chore helps me get aligned with my values. So gather positive energy for task completion by identifying what you value in your task.

4. Reward yourself – Children aren’t the only ones that like rewards. Give yourself something to look forward to. What could you give yourself after you get your to do list done?

5. Mix mundane with new - Try to do your dreaded task in a new way. Or add something new while doing the task. For instance, learn something new, listen to new music, or travel a new way.

6. Rethink mundane - Be grateful for routines so we don’t have to rethink how to accomplish the necessary tasks each week.

I know our to do lists aren’t the highlight of our week, but I think choosing how we think about even the mundane can have an impact on our overall outlook. It can also impact how available and open we are to our loved ones. And if we are happier, we are more fun to be around.

I would love to hear from my readers. What do you not like to do? Get it out and gripe about it. Then share how you do it even though you don’t want to. Or how you make your dreaded to do list more enjoyable.

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Interested in working with Marci? You can now hire Marci as your life and/or relationship coach from the comfort of your own home. Click here for coaching details.

Photo Credit: “Cleaning” by S.P. Case

How to Communicate Anger Without Blame

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Have you ever wanted to tell someone how mad you are? Instead you keep your anger to yourself so you don’t start a fight. The only problem is your anger is bubbling over to pop them in the face, even if you don’t express it directly!

Speaking up usually back fires when it’s disguised with blame and pressure. So how do you express your anger and frustration without contributing to more conflict and tension? Learn to speak up for yourself without blaming.

How To Communicate Anger Without Blaming:

To me, speaking up means sharing your thoughts, position, and/or vote. It may also mean defining what you are going to do or not do.

Speaking up doesn’t mean telling the other person what you think about them. This is called blaming. And when you deliver blame, watch for the other person to defend themselves with more blame or eventual retreat.

Here are my thoughts on how to communicate with someone about your anger instead of with your anger:

1. Own Your Thoughts/Feelings Completely – Most conflict starts with one person pressing/blaming the other for something they are feeling. If you truly own your perspective/feelings, then you will be able to tell someone without pressuring them to change. You will be able to tell them about yourself/your thoughts even if they don’t agree with you.

2. Restrain Your Initial Reaction – You may need to find a way to restrain the first feeling that pops into your head. If you are feeling stressed, most of us will use “fighting words” and blame the other. Find ways to slow your reactions, so you can think through how you present your ideas.

3. Define Yourself Without Pressure on Other – If you are speaking up in an attempt to get the other person to change, then he (or she) will sense your pressure. Maybe he will welcome the shape up, but then you will be responsible for “helping” him change (reminding, etc.) Or, he may get irritated with the pressure and “fight” back. Two people pressing on each other to change equals more conflict.

4. Be Open to Hearing Other – You don’t have to like the other’s position, but it’s great to respect it. If you aren’t pressing on the other to change, then it’s easier for him (or her) to speak up. You may learn something new about yourself and your loved one. New choices can be discovered that you couldn’t see before.

Discover New Choices by Speaking Up for Yourself …

Here is a classic example of an argument many couples have had more than once. Yet the wife in this example decides to try something different. That is, to simply tell her spouse about herself instead of trying to change him.

Wife: “I worry that you expect me to do everything.”

Husband: “I always thought you didn’t trust me to do anything.”

Wife: “I feel like I’m bothering you and get tired of asking you to participate.”

Husband: “I don’t mind doing my part. But each time I go to do something for the family, you have already done it.”

Wife: (Light bulb goes on in her head. She instantly sees how she is apart of the problem she is complaining about. She’s so fast and busy that she leaves little room for her spouse to jump in. Can she slow down and take charge less? And ultimately can she do less even if he doesn’t do more?)

Wife: “This is hilarious. So the more I do, the more you don’t do. And the more you don’t do, the more I pick up. Let’s not change a thing, and enjoy the circle we’ve created…”

On the outside, it looks like this heated discussion is going in circles and going nowhere. But for the person who spoke up, she now has a new way to think about the problem.

Remember the goal in speaking up for yourself is to represent yourself well. Although tempting, it’s not to get the other to change by using your anger to put pressure on them.

It’s not as important to express your anger as it is to learn how to communicate with someone about your anger. What do you think?

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Photo: “Love is Weird” by Alex Bellink