Are You Eating The Wrong Way? 3 Steps To Restore Your Metabolism

If you’re anything like me, and the women I work with, you probably eat for a lot of different reasons.

Sometimes we eat because we’re actually physically hungry. But sometimes we eat just because something looks or smells really, really good (freshly baked brownies or cookies, anyone?).

Sometimes we eat because everyone else is eating and we don’t want to feel left out.

Sometimes we eat out of habit (T.V. munching) or just because it’s there (the office candy jar).

Sometimes we eat to reward ourselves, to celebrate victories, or to please others.

And sometimes we eat because we feel lonely, sad, angry, stressed, exhausted, or a myriad of other emotions.

 

Everyone eats for reasons other than hunger once in a while, and that’s absolutely OK. It’s just a part of life. But if your eating is problematic or you’re struggling to maintain or lose weight, raising your awareness around your hunger and eating habits will make it SO MUCH EASIER for you to form a healing relationship with yourself… and with food.

 

A relationship that’s nourishing, nurturing, and fun…

A relationship that supports you and fuels your life…

And a relationship that you can live (and lose weight) with.

 

In Smaller Size Bigger Life, my online group-coaching program for women who struggle with emotional eating, binge eating, overeating, or body image issues, I teach Intuitive Eating.

 

Intuitive Eating shows you how to trust your hunger (the opposite of what diets do) and how to form a healthy relationship with food and your body.

 

I know first-hand how powerful this scientifically-backed approach is—I’m a dietitian, a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, and I’ve personally trained with dietitian Evelyn Tribole, an Intuitive Eating pioneer and the co-author of the groundbreaking book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. I’ve not only drastically changed my own relationship with food with the help of Intuitive Eating, I’ve also helped countless clients do the same.

 

Intuitive Eaters follow no external rules, emotions, or experts when it comes to eating. They’re in sync with their body’s hunger cues, and they listen only to their own internal signals. They don’t have forbidden foods or rigid eating rules; instead, they eat when they want and what they want, according to their body’s unique needs.

 

Intuitive Eating, however, isn’t a license to eat junk food all day! It’s a holistic approach to eating that involves gentle nutrition and plain-old common sense. You make food choices that honor your health, your hunger, and your tastebuds.

 

And here’s the really, really good news: We are ALL Intuitive Eaters by nature (yes, even YOU). Eating is a survival mechanism, and you and me (and everyone else on the planet) are born with all the innate wisdom we need to fuel ourselves efficiently and effectively.

 

The body always knows best. So how do we get so off track? Well, years of controlling, restricting, binging, and all-out food-and-diet craziness block this inborn intelligence, and instead of listening to our wise and all-knowing body, we make ourselves totally banana-pants! It happens.

 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Not at all. Your (perfect and beautifully designed) body still instinctively knows exactly what it needs to thrive and naturally reach its ideal weight—you just have to get back in tune with it.

 

Young children (and you used to be one!) are Intuitive Eating masters. Free from the food, diet, and body image social messages that plague the rest of us, they just EAT. No fuss, no muss, and NO BIG DEAL. Think about it…

 

Do children eat more (or less) after a bad day at preschool?

Do they think about how their PB&J fits into their allotted daily calorie allowance?

Do they skip breakfast to save their calories for a friends’ birthday cake later in the afternoon?

Do they beat themselves up for eating a cookie just because?

Do they restrict food or obsess about their food choices?

 

No, because that would be ridiculous. They eat when they’re hungry, they stop when they’re full, and sometimes they eat just for fun of it. They eat freely, mindfully and naturally, and they really and truly enjoy their food.

 

And you know those women who seem to have an easy-breezy and relaxed relationship with food? The ones who eat whatever they want and still maintain their weight? Guess what? Those women are Intuitive Eaters, too.

 

So is it possible for you to eat intuitively? Can you free yourself from the food anxiety that runs rampant in our diet-obsessed society, experience eating inner peace, and lose weight with ease? ABSOLUTELY.

 

But before you can return to your Intuitive Eating instincts, you have to set yourself (and your body) up for lasting success. Here are 3 steps to restore your metabolism (and your eating sanity).

 

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3 Steps To Restore Your Metabolism (And Your Eating Sanity)

1) Deal With Your Inner Conflicts

2) Balance Your Body

3) Cultivate Eating Consciousness

 

1) Deal With Your Inner Conflicts

A vital part of becoming an Intuitive Eater is the willingness to pay attention to what your body is telling you, but you can’t effectively “listen” when you have mental patterns and emotional blocks that keep you trapped in self sabotage. It just doesn’t work.

 

If you’ve tried and failed at Intuitive Eating, this is probably why. I see this with my clients all the time; they try to make outer changes before they make any inner changes. And this is a GIANT weight loss and Intuitive Eating mistake. Ya gotta do the mental work first.

 

You need to deal with your inner critic (find out how HERE), manage everyday stress (find out how HERE), and align your desires with your beliefs (find out how HERE). You also you need to start getting honest with yourself about your struggles.

 

For example, are you using the weight as an excuse for failure? (“Because of my weight, I can’t be successful, I can’t get a boyfriend, I can’t be happy, etc., etc.”). Or does obsessing about food distract you from dealing with other issues and fears? Or maybe you’re afraid of being “seen,” and the extra weight is your excuse to stay in your comfort zone (FYI: Genuine and lasting change can only happen outside your comfort zone!). Or does the weight make you feel safe or protected in some way?

 

Once you understand and compassionately resolve your inner conflicts, you’ll give yourself the psychological green light to change your eating habits (and your life) for good. And in doing so you’ll clear your path to becoming an Intuitive Eater. That’s why identifying and releasing weight loss fears is a CRITICAL part of my Smaller Size Bigger Life program.


2) Balance Your Body

It’s also very difficult (read: IMPOSSIBLE) to tune into your body’s natural cues when your hunger hormones and metabolism are completely out of whack. And in today’s diet-crazed culture full of processed fake foods and extreme calorie restriction, this is really common. Here’s why…

 

When you don’t provide your body with the energy (i.e. food) and nutrients it needs to survive for extended periods of time, your body assumes you’re in a state of emergency such as a famine, and it slows your metabolism so your system doesn’t burn off its precious and “limited” supply of nourishment.

 

Calorie restriction not only stresses out your system and spikes Cortisol (the hormone that intensifies cravings), it also elevates Ghrelin (the hormone that signals you to start eating) and suppresses Leptin (the hormone that signals you to put your fork down). And if you’re a chronic yo-yo dieter with a history of under-eating, binging, and over-exercising, your hormones can be so out of balance that you rarely, if ever, experience hunger cues at all. Same goes if you’re overfed, but undernourished.

 

No big surprise here, but trying to Eat Intuitively and “listen” to your body under these stressful conditions is a recipe for disaster. Again, it just doesn’t work. While the hormone/hunger connection is pretty complex, the solution is super simple…

 

* For at least 21 days, eat a protein rich breakfast within an hour of waking, and then re-fuel every three or four hours (download a free meal plan HERE). (Initially this might mean eating even when you’re not hungry, and that’s A-OK. Set an alarm if need be.)

 

* More often than not (and as soon as possible), eat REAL food, not food-like products that your body can’t process or identify. (Your body knows exactly what to do with an apple. A Twinkie? Not so much.)

 

* Stop eating for weight loss, and start eating for health. (Ironically, the positive by-product of eating for health is weight loss.)

 

And if you think your body is broken or your metabolism is ruined (common complaints from my clients), know this: You can’t permanently damage your metabolism. Your (incredible!) body will bounce back so much faster than you think. Instead of fighting, underfeeding, and abusing your body, be amazed by it. It’s working hard to keep you alive, and it deserves your appreciation and respect.

 

(To learn a whole lot more about balancing your body and eating for health, I highly recommend dietitian Danielle Omar’s Nourish Program. It’s the perfect way to hit the reset button and start feeling good in your body. Find out more HERE.)

 

 3) Cultivate Eating Consciousness

Once you’re doing the inner work and your body is balanced, you can start tuning into your body’s needs. An integral component of becoming an Intuitive Eater is raising your consciousness around when you eat and why you eat.

 

First things first: Do you know the difference between hunger and appetite?

 

Hunger is the need for food. It’s a physical reaction triggered by low-blood sugar and hormones that is designed to keep the body properly fueled.

 

Appetite is the desire for food. It’s a conditioned response to food triggered by senses (usually after seeing, smelling, or thinking about something yummy), social situations, or emotions.

 

And it’s super easy to confuse wanting to eat with needing to eat. An easy solution is this: The next time you feel the urge to eat, pause and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” It’s not about deciding if you are in fact allowed to eat, it’s about raising your awareness around WHY you want to.

 

By answering this one simple question you’ll empower yourself to make a conscious eating choice. And that is a very big deal! Make this an everyday habit (and you absolutely should), and you’ll not only drastically cut back on mindless and superfluous eating, you’ll also start to unravel your emotional connections to food. Because if your food craving doesn’t come from physical hunger, then you can be sure that eating is definitely not going to satisfy it (find out more HERE).

 

If you’re new to Intuitive Eating, these 7 eating guidelines from compulsive eating expert Geenen Roth (I adore her!) are an awesome place to start…

 

Eat when you are physically hungry.

 Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.

 Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.

 Eat what your body wants.

 Eat until you are satisfied.

 Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.

 Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.

 

These are not meant to be a set of rigid rules, but rather guiding principles to help you develop a healthy and relaxed relationship with food. Start incorporating them into your daily life and just watch what happens.

 

Remember, like any relationship, your relationship with food is always growing and transforming. And like any good relationship, your relationship with food should include compromise, forgiveness and fun. Sure, you can choose to keep yourself locked in a self-imposed food prison, or can choose food freedom instead. The choice is yours.

 

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With so much love,

Heather



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How To Overcome Fear And Self-Loathing

I have a question for you…

When was the last time you said something demeaning or insulting to yourself?

The last time you criticized yourself for the way you look?

The last time you scrutinized your body with disgust or disrespect?

Or the last time you told yourself that you’re ugly, stupid, unlovable, or unworthy?

I’m guessing it was probably not that long ago… maybe even just a few minutes ago.

 

And when was the last time you said something compassionate or kind to yourself?

The last time you praised yourself?

The last time you appreciated something you did or said?

Or the last time you noticed how awesome, incredible, and magnificent you are?

Because YOU are. Truly. We all are. And we forget that when we cloud our daily thoughts with incessant criticisms, comparison, and judgments.

 

Please do me a favor and watch this 2-minute video from Dove France. This incredibly impactful commercial will open your eyes to just how violent our thoughts about ourselves truly are. I was floored the first time I saw this…

 

 

“If it’s not acceptable to say it to someone else, why say it to ourselves?”

 

Take a minute to really let that sink in. Would you say it to your daughter? Nope. Would you say it to your sister, your friend, or your co-worker? Nope. Would you say it to a stranger? Nope. So why in the wild world do you think it’s OK to say it to yourself?

 

I know it can be incredibly challenging to feel good about your body, especially if you struggle with weight and body image issues. I get it! But when you put your attention on what you hate about yourself and your body, and when you continuously attack yourself with abusive thoughts, you just create more feelings of fear and anxiety. This not only steals your daily joy, it also keeps you stuck, exhausted, and totally stressed out.

 

The truth is this: Self-worth is not something some people are just born with, or something you will magically obtain once you reach your ideal weight. Self-worth is something we cultivate and practice on a daily basis. And shifting your thoughts from fear to love will have a huge (and I mean HUGE) effect on your happiness and your weight loss.

 

In fact, the absolute BEST way to develop a healthy relationship with your body is to banish the body shaming and to start the daily practice of empowering yourself. And I have a 30-day Loving Kindness Challenge that will help you do exactly that.

 

This Challenge will help you 1) raise your awareness around your thoughts (often our negative thoughts are so habitual we don’t even notice how often we attack ourselves), and 2) shift your perception to a much more loving perspective.

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DOWNLOAD YOUR 30 DAYS OF LOVING KINDNESS PRINTABLE HERE 

 

This Challenge is super easy AND super effective. Click on the above link, print out the graphic, and cut on the dotted lines. Fold each affirmation and place them a jar, box, or bag next to your bed. For 30 days choose one affirmation daily. Before you start your day (or even before you get out of bed!), clear your mind and just consider the affirmation you pulled for that day.

 

Allow the idea to really soak in, and then set the intention to make this your mantra for the day. Also set the intention to pay closer attention to your thoughts, and every time you catch yourself saying something hurtful or hateful to yourself, just replace the negativity with your daily affirmation.

 

Throughout the day, repeat the affirmation often. You can use it as a mantra while you drive, walk, or do housework. You can post your affirmation to your computer or place it on a mirror. You can even set alarms on your phone to remind you to tune in throughout the day.

 

Once I became aware of my inner-critic and I started to replace my attack thoughts with supportive thoughts instead, it changed EVERYTHING (you can read my story HERE). I stopped looking for outside approval, and instead I looked inward for answers. I learned how to forgive myself, how to release my mountains of guilt and shame, and how to heal and deal in a much better way.

 

And if you’ve been trying to change your diet, your habits, and your life for many years, but find that you just keep getting in your own way, I guarantee you that this daily practice will have a profound impact on your life.

 

I’ll be doing this challenge for the next 30 days, and I would love for you to join me. Your body deserves your love and respect, and you can (absolutely and positively!) change your life one beautiful thought at a time.

 

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Please share this Challenge with a sister, friend, daughter, or co-worker who could use some help shifting her inner voice—the more we love ourselves and each other, the better!

With love and beautiful thoughts,

Heather



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Andie Mitchell On Losing Over 100 Pounds And Loving Herself

If you need some serious weight loss inspiration, please check out this TEDx Talk from the lovely Andie Mitchell. Eight years ago Andie, an avid cooker and baker, lost 100+ lbs and she has maintained a healthy weight ever since. I love everything about Andie, and her story and vulnerability in this video will just blow you away. You’ll discover:

 

* Why understanding WHY you eat is just as important as changing WHAT you eat.

* The importance of facing your feelings and concentrating on just today.

* Why weight loss alone is not the answer to a happier life.

 

 

POWERFUL, right? This talk reminds me of my favorite quote from Florence Scovel Shinn, the author of  The Game of Life & How to Play It:

 

“The lion takes its fierceness from your fear.
Walk up to the lion, and he will disappear; run away and he runs after you.”

 

With so much courage and compassion, Andie walked up to the lion and transformed her fears into confidence. She did it one day at a time, and if she can do it, so can you!

 

To read more from Andie (and you really should!) check out her healthy cooking and living blog, Can You Stay for Dinner, HERE. She also has a moving new memoir (get it HERE) called It Was Me Along that is a must-read. This is from the back of the book…

 

“A heartbreakingly honest, endearing memoir of incredible weight loss by a young food blogger who battles body image issues and overcomes food addiction to find self-acceptance. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.”

Love,

Heather



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