Managing stress and anxiety in a chaotic world

Many of our difficulties originate with stress and anxiety. Packed schedules, competition in the workplace and social circles, pressures to be perfect, and lack of self-care (e.g., sleep, exercise, healthy eating) all play a part in high stress and anxiety levels.

Those who know me well know that I can suffer pretty severe anxiety. Anything that requires numbers – I will need someone to talk me down out of my anxious state. And nothing makes me more anxious than being late – I become light headed and nauseous. The mind is powerful!

Stress is described as “the psycho-physiological responses of the individual to any influence which disturbs homeostasis.” What does this mean? Physical, mental, and emotional changes to your body’s normal balance. These changes depend on a given individual’s tolerance to stress. What might cause a great deal of stress to me may not elicit the same response in you. And vice versa. Stress can be the result of environmental factors, although illness and nutrition can also play a role. An individual’s reaction to stress can involve aggression and anger or inversely, inhibition, regression, and fear (Moran, 2004).

Anxiety involves a feeling of fear or a perception of threat and it may or may not be specific to a particular situation. Possible symptoms are nausea, loss of composure, reduced motor coordination, and aggression (Moran, 2004). The intensity of anxiety can be directly related to the amount of associated stress and more often than not depends on the individual’s perception.

The following tips can help you while learning to manage stress and anxiety.

  1. Be informed. Ask questions and know your expectations, roles, and responsibilities.
  2. Use imagery. Imagine yourself performing the tasks – flawlessly and with ease.
  3. Maintain a strong social support system. Having strong social support can help you cope with the stress, whether by having someone practice scripts with you – for example before a big presentation – or  by watching a movie to distract you for a time.
  4. Practice physical and mental relaxation. Release tension and clear the mind. Progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery are two forms of self-care. Treat yourself to a massage. Learn self-massage or tapping!
  5. Communicate. Let friends, family members, and colleagues know how you are feeling and what you are thinking.
  6. Get plenty of sleep. Inadequate rest can lead to fatigue and poor judgment.
  7. Drink plenty of water. Everything suffers – physically, mentally, and emotionally – when the body is not properly hydrated.
  8. Maintain a positive attitude. And practice self-talk. People with positive attitudes tend to approach problems with more hopeful and optimistic views.
  9. Maintain realistic expectations and goals. Having unrealistic expectations can lead to unnecessary pressure and stres.
  10. Celebrate. Recognize goals and milestones that you have achieved!

The bottomline

Everyone of us faces periods of stress and anxiety. Some of us have more serious experiences, but often times we can manage daily situations by implementing one or a few of the above tips.

What tips do you have for managing stress and anxiety?

References

Koslowsky, M. (1998). Modeling the stress-strain relationship in work settings. New York: Routledge.

Moran, A. P. (2004). Sport and exercise psychology: A critical introduction. New York: Routledge.

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Is body awareness important for fitness results?

Last decade’s trends of yoga, tai chi, and pilates heavily emphasize mind-body awareness. Some could argue it is about the mind communicating directly with the physical body.

Body awareness: Body awareness involves an attentional focus on and awareness of internal body sensations. Body awareness, as we define it here, is the subjective, phenomenological aspect of proprioception and interoception that enters conscious awareness, and is modifiable by mental processes including attention, interpretation, appraisal, beliefs, memories, conditioning, attitudes and affect. (Mehling, et. al, 2011).

I argue that body awareness – particularly as described as proprioception – is essential for all human movement. In fact, we KNOW that it is – watch The Man Who Lost His Body. Therefore, it is not a process specific to these specific schools of exercise.

Mirrors or no mirrors

I am opening a small training and coaching studio. I had no idea how stressful little decisions could become – wall colors, window treatments, signage, decorating, and on! I just want to train and empower individuals! One of the most difficult decisions for me has been deciding if I want mirrors or not. I have decided – no mirrors.

One of the most unique aspects of my training style is training body awareness (proprioception) and teaching individuals how to FEEL what proper positions and movements feel like.

Why do I do this?

If you need a mirror to find your proper posture, in daily living you will need a mirror to be reminded to find that proper posture. I want you to know what it FEELS like and know when you are NOT in proper position and need to re-position.

But why?

Proper posture and positioning can increase your daily caloric expenditure up to 30%. Yes, THIRTY percent. When you are in proper position you move better, feel better, and experience fewer aches and pains. As a result, LIFE is better!

A real-life story

I began my fitness career in facilities with mirrors – watching my form and technique. It never occurred to me to connect to my body and to be aware of what movements felt like. I was young. I had yet to suffer from injuries. And I just wanted to move. In time, I had to deal with my share of injuries (knees and back).

I trained without mirrors from 2009-2012. My movement improved. I became stronger. I became more aware. I did not suffer any serious injuries. My own awareness and fitness improved and I taught my clients the same.

I have been training with mirrors for the last 6 months or so – and I am experiencing more aches and pains. I am about to go back to no-mirror training and we will see if this improves.

The bottomline

Knowing what feels good or bad, right or wrong, is critical to an improved quality of life. There is a time and place for mirrors, but they are far from necessary – and who really wants to watch themselves in the mirror anyways????

Listen. Slow down. Rest.

My body has been telling me to slow down and rest. But my mind is fighting it – NO! I have difficulty with doing nothing – both physically and mentally. As my favorite surgeon noted, I am a “Go go go girl.” (Not to be confused with a go go girl.)

My back hurts.

My hip hurts.

My hands hurts, with small blisters beneath my calluses.

My foot hurts.

My knee has been popping (not a good sign).

There is a pinching pain between my shoulder blades.

My head hurts, pulling from my shoulder blades.

And yet, my mind does not want to slow down. I share this, not to complain, or to whine, or for sympathy. But to show that I understand and that I too fall into the trap. The trap of habitual exercise and not wanting to stop – for fear that you will not start again.

Slowing down and resting is something that I have actually gotten better at these last few years. Each of my injuries forced me to slow down – each of them designed for the function of forcing me to slow down (there is a reason for everything, isn’t there?). I have since become more in-tune with my body. I listen to it. While I am pretty good at slowing down or cutting back,  I am not so good at resting completely. I go a little bit stir crazy on rest days (although I force myself to take at least 1 rest day a week).

Avoid overtraining

Some individuals may suspect I am overtraining. I am not overtraining – simply managing a chronic, mysterious condition (narrowed down to being autoimmune). Most of my pain has nothing to do with my workouts. However, minor aches and pains can be good indicators to slow down and avoid overtraining. Has your body been sore for too many days in a row? Rest. Are you getting adequate sleep but still fatigued? Rest.

Avoid Injury

If your body is fatigued or you are experiencing some pain, there is a good chance that you will workout, compensate with other areas, and incur more pain or injury. Another injury does not appeal to me – I do not think it is worth the risk.

The bottomline

Listen to your body. Slow down when it needs it. Rest when it needs it. When it doubt, if you have been working out hard, rest.

Rest —

Challenge: Strengthen your ‘no’ muscle

Many of us have difficulty saying no. I for one, have GREAT difficulty saying no.

We have difficulty setting relational boundaries – unable to say no to friends and often overcommiting ourselves or doing things we do not want to do..

We have difficulty maintaining work boundaries – unable to say no to our boss’s every request, working long hours and bringing work home.

We have difficulty with food boundaries – unable to say no to food that seem to stare us in the face daily or not knowing when to stop.

Read on to learn how I strengthened my no muscle.

Long-term potentiation

As with anything, saying no can become easier with practice. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes. It is like a muscle, use it and it will become stronger. There is an abundant amount of research out there supporting the notion. We call it willpower. Scientists call it long-term potentiation (LTP).

When you practice saying no, you can strengthen the nerve cell connections in the brain – when the connections are strengthened they are potentiated (Amen, 2010). Practicing over time strengthens these circuits and builds what we know as willpower. LTP occurs whenever these circuits are strengthened and practiced and the associated behaviors become almost automatic (Amen, 2010).

My ‘crazy’ experiment

I tested the LTP theory years ago. I had always felt like I had no willpower – prone to binge drinking and eating. I had begun working with a trainer and saw the weight loss benefits. Wanting to see what results I could truly obtain, I quickly modified my diet – strictly following the guidelines that I provide in my meal and snack creation post. At the time, I was having difficulty with giving up my beloved Snickers candy bars. Having read about LTP and that it is possible to increase willpower. I thought I would test it out.

I took a “Fun Size” Snickers bar to work and placed in in front of my computer monitor. At the time, I worked in publishing and sat in front of the computer for 8-10 hours a day. My goal: I will not eat the Snickers today. I sat there all day with the Snickers in front of me. I practiced saying no. Some might argue this was desensitization (it may have been). I wanted to, but I did not eat it!

I set the same goal for the next day.

And the next.

I would tell myself, I did not eat it yesterday and I do not need to eat it today.

This went on for months. More than a year. Eventually the Snickers bar was so old that it wasn’t appealing (although I am sure it has an absurd shelf life) and I threw it away. I had built willpower and the ability to say no.

It was not easy

This brief summary omits the days of stressful deadlines, when I almost ate that bar. I didn’t mention the emotional days, when I wanted the candy bar, but said no. It doesn’t mention my colleagues – who all thought I was crazy – who were nay-sayers and bullied me to eat it.

The challenge

What do you need to say no to?

For me, it was Snickers. At other times, it has been saying no to clients who want to train with me during periods that I am generally unavailable. There was also a time when I needed to learn to say no to alcohol.

I challenge you to think about what you need to say no to. Starting today, you will practice. It starts with 1 day. Then 1 day becomes 2. And if I can do it — so can you.

So tell us, to what are you going to practice saying NO?

References

Amen, D. G. (2010). Change Your Brain, Change Your Body. Three Rivers Press: New York.

Recovery: After a long, hard run

Yesterday was race day – half marathon for me and a full marathon for many of my beloved friends. It was a tough day. It had its bright moments. It also brought many tears. We had trained for months for this day.

Wakeup

I quickly and easily awoke for the 4:30 am alarm. I was excited! Race day was here. After a weeks of anxiety, fear, and doubts, I woke up confident and feeling good. I went about my preparations. There was NO DOUBT in my mind that I would beat 2 hours.

The startline

I felt good. We ALL felt good. The race director led a short, but powerful, time of silence in honor of the recent events in Boston. Knowing my tendency to start out running too fast, I started with the 2:20 pace group. I would rather run too slow mile 1 than too fast. My first mile was about 9:30. The second, 8:45. I had to pull in the reigns. I found my pace at about 9:45 and I felt good. I knew I could maintain this for several miles, if not to the finish. I had trained for this!

Along mile 4, I passed a woman with medics – she was convulsing on the ground. As I was beginning to feel strange and off, something inside me said, slow down. That was a frightening sight. It was not long after this that I had no energy, no drive, and I just wanted to be done.

By mile 6, I had made the decision to walk/run. I considered quitting. I was not going to win, I was not going to achieve my goal time, there was no reason to push it and risk injury or illness. Knowing that my Chix were running twice as far as I was pushed me to at least finish.

At mile 9, I sent a text to the Chix waiting for me at the end – I was 30 minutes behind my goal and they should go find our Chix doing the full before it was too late. Jane replied, “No Chix left behind!”

The finishline

I finished! I just wanted it done! I did not know what my time was and I did not care. I was more concerned with how my eight Chix were doing – four of them en route to Boston qualification. I grabbed my water, chocolate milk, and fruit and connected with my Chix. We hopped on the road bikes and were off to find the runners. This is when I learned that I was not the only one who had struggled.

Team support  941425_10200732482747321_1589908574_n

Two of our Chix had pulled out – saving their physical bodies for another race and a Boston qualification. One pulled back significantly. One Chix pushed through – dug deep. She gave it her all. We biked the route backwards. We found her along mile 23. Hot. Exhausted. Struggling. It was a hard sight (also knowing in our hearts that we wanted to see 4 strong runners at this point). Two Chix stayed with her, and we continued to go and find the others – we had 5 other chicks out there. We passed a lot of runners – some looked strong. Others shuffled, determined to finish despite the circumstances. A part of me was worried that the others had pulled off – we went quite a distance without seeing any of our Chix. We wanted to find the girls we knew were alone!

Did she need water? A sane mind to tell her it would be okay to stop?

Kami was running strong – we checked in, she was fine. Next, slow and steady Captain Carol looked good. It felt like forever before we saw our next Chix. I was worried. We were about to get to the path along the river – NO bikes on the path. We would have to wait for them to come to us at this point.

We waited.

JILL!! I was elated. She looked good. we were SO relieved that our Chix were running smart! Each had been listening to her body – walking when needed – and getting one step at a time closer to the finishline. We knew the others were at least in company on their journey – so we made the decision to ride back. I needed more water and fuel myself. And I had peace of mind knowing my Chix were safe and running smart.

Not all was bad

We did have a Chix PR!!!!! Cheri killed the half marathon. She felted good. She did it! And I am so proud to be able to call her friend!

AND, we finished. We did something that most individuals do not even consider doing. And we overcame obstacles! We conquered our own minds and spirits.

The aftermath

My heart hurt. Was I disappointed in my run? Yes, but that was not my concern. I had finished. Some of my Chix had made the INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT decision to pull out of the race. I am indescribably proud of their smarts and their courage. My heart ached, knowing how hard this must have been.

Following the race I had a 5-hour drive from Green Bay to Minnesota. I drove in silence. I was recapping the day’s events. I was praying for my Chix. Everyone’s hearts and physical recovery. Stacy’s health and well-being. V and Em’s hearts, souls, and physical bodies. The spirits of the Chix I had yet to hear from. I cried. It was a hard day. Hard decisions were made by all.

And I contemplated whether I will be trying that again. (No decision was made!)

The bottomline

I am truly proud of every one of my Chix who participated in yesterday’s marathon events. Each made THE BEST decision for her. She made tough decisions. We each had big goals for the day – and most of them were left to the wayside.

If you are reading this, my Fit Chix with Quick Stix – know that I am indescribably PROUD of each and every one of you. You were ALL body smart – in situations when it would be ‘easy’ to push through the pain. You were wise. And inspiring. I love you ladies.

I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize… Philippians 3:13

26.2 Bible verses for running & racing

The week before a half marathon (or marathon)

I am three days away from my third half marathon. The first one, I trained diligently. The second, I barely trained and essentially ignored nutritional training, with the excuse of being too stressed. I was disappointed in my results, and have set forth to smash both race times. This year, I have trained, making my runs a priority (and even lightening my leg strength days a tad). My nutrition and hydration have been adapted to the change in demands I have been placing on my body.

I do not feel ready.

I will be running 13.1 miles on Sunday and I am freaking out. The good news? This is perfectly normal.

The taper

For those who do not know about training for an endurance run, any solid training plan will require reduced mileage in the weeks prior to a race. After spending 8-20 weeks of progressively increasing mileage, you begin to cut miles. This allows your body to recover and recoup for the big race.

It does not do a whole lot of favors for the mind.

I have not been running far enough.

The weather

Many of my friends (aka Fit Chix with Quick Stix) are running the full marathon this weekend. In our conversations, it is obvious that many of us are experiencing weakened confidence. We are all unsure. The weather has changed drastically in the last few weeks here in the Midwest – from snow less than two weeks ago to 80 degrees and sunny today. Most of our training was completed in 0-60 degree weather. Feeling the exhaustion of the HOTTER – but much shorter – runs, has left many of us insecure and pessimistic. I am sitting here, bloated from my attempt to hydrate, and I am worried.

What if I overheat?

I am praying for 60 degrees and rain on race day. I do not like heat. I would prefer to use water stations to hydrate, rather than to use them to pour over my head and cool off. Sure, I could stop at each station and do both – but that would slow me down and I am on a time crunch.

Mind over matter

Endurance events require a great deal of mental strength. The physical training is easy – in comparison. The hard part of training? The days and hours leading up to a long run, “Ok, I am going to go out and run 10 miles….” Anticipatory thoughts do not necessarily require us to believe that we can do it – they require us to want to.

You have to WANT to.

Many individuals joke that all marathoners are crazy. Crazy is a word many individuals use to describe determined, dedicated, motivated, and ambitious individuals. Do marathoners maintain or obtain a unique mental state and mind set? Yes, marathoners are mental athletes (by the way, ALL true athletes are mental athletes). You find a way to clear your mind of everything else and you simply run.

Vicarious experience

At this stage, my confidence must be drawn from vicarious experience. I have successfully completely two half marathons. I am in better physical condition and am running faster than I have for either of them – I KNOW I can do this. Several weeks ago I ran a strong 11 miles and had energy to spare – I KNOW I can do this.

I know, therefore I can.

The hardest part for me, along with the taper, is the overall resting. I am done lifting until after the race. I am determined to meet my challenging goal and I need to ensure I am rested. Just as my Sunday long run took a toll on my April 1 assessment workout, I do not want my workouts to impact my long run. THE long run.

The bottomline

The final week(s) prior to any endurance race is difficult. It can be a challenge to keep your head in the game, not allowing your confidence to waiver.

Mentally – I KNOW I can. Physically – I KNOW I can. Therefore, I CAN.

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1

We NEED. More. Yoga.

Yesterday I practiced yoga for the first time in months. It was a basic practice – relatively speaking. Very different from the forms of power yoga that I prefer. But this practice was a gentle reminder of what I have been missing in my training regimen. Yoga. Stretching. Lengthening.

What we often miss photo (33)

Stretching. Lengthening. Decompressing – both physiological and psychological.

I am guilty of not stretching as much as I should. I diligently stretch after running – other than that, rarely.

Our muscles need stretching – especially if we are putting in the work. Weight lifting involves continually contracting muscles. While proper form also includes lengthening, this is not always enough to allow the muscles to reach full length. I will not pretend to be a yogi – I am far from being a yoga expert. But I have done my research! (Don’t I always?)

Injury prevention – Research has shown that yoga has injury prevention properties. I would attribute this to the lengthening of muscles. The National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Corrective Exercise protocols incorporate lengthening into the four step program design. Unfortunately, corrective exercise is often only incorporated into training regimen after an injury has occurred. Why not use yoga as a tool for injury prevention?

Yoga & mental health – Yoga is known to be a ‘mind-body’ fitness practice. Some view this as getting in touch with your soft, gooey insides. I argue that ALL exercise requires mind-body awareness (Markula, 2004). Yoga has been shown to improve self efficacy and confidence and reduce depression and anxiety symptoms (Junkin, Kowalski, & Fleming, 2007; Markula, 2004; Rahimi & Bavaqar, 2010).

Relaxation – At the core of any yoga  practice is centered breathing. This necessitates focus on breathing. This allows our minds to relax and be free of the thoughts and worries that bog us down. Further, focusing on lengthening muscles allows those and other muscles to relax. Tension melts away.

Pain management – The benefits of pain management are well known and widely accepted. Time and time again, research has shown that yoga reduces back pain and other chronic aches and pains.

The bottomline

We could all use a little more stretching. I like the structure of incorporating a consistent yoga practice – and now realize I need to add that focus back into my program. As with all fitness professionals, not all yoga instructors are created equal. I would strongly urge you to read the American College of Sport Medicine’s resource on Selecting and Effectively Using a Yoga Program. Further, it is my personal opinion that instructors with 500+ hours of training are leaps and bounds ahead of their counterparts.

Looking for yoga that you can do at home? Debbie Williamson is your woman, with both DVDs (kids too!) and downloads. After traveling the country and experiencing many different styles of yoga and instruction – she is by far my favorite!

References

Junkin, S. E., Kowalski, K., & Fleming, T. (2007). Yoga and self-esteem: Exploring change in middle-aged women. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology29S174-S175.

Markula, P. (2004). “Tuning into One’s Self:” Foucault’s Technologies of the Self and Mindful Fitness. Sociology Of Sport Journal21(3), 302-321.

O’Donovan, G., Blazevich, A. J., Boreham, C., Cooper, A. R., Crank, H., Ekelund, U., & … Stamatakis, E. (2010). The ABC of Physical Activity for Health: A consensus statement from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Journal Of Sports Sciences28(6), 573-591.

Rahimi, E., & Bavaqar, S. (2010). Effects of yoga on anxiety and depression in women. British Journal Of Sports Medicine44i68-i69.

Using anger for good

I’ve noticed that I am quick to anger lately – moreso than usual! I am angered by much of the activity in this world. I am angry and the way we judge one another. I am angry at selfish people who have gotten in the way of my and others’ goals and dreams. I am angry.

I have recently been angry – but only with one individual specifically. I have been more an more upset lately by the ways that he inadvertently hurts me. In all reality, I know it is not intentional. But I allow the hurt to become anger anyways. My pattern of letting my feelings boil up inside of me leads to this anger.

Exercise for anger management

Some have asked how they can learn to love working out and exercise like I do. Sometimes I joke that all you need is to be as angry as I am. I have a lot of anger. And disappointment. And frustration. This fuels my workouts.

Working out is a healthy outlet for my anger. It is my natural tendency to allow everything to simply build up inside and to tell myself that the thoughts and feelings will eventually go away (do not misinterpret Proverbs 29:11). This is not realistic. My workouts, however – it is incredible to have this healthy physical release! This past weekend, anger shaved :30 of per mile on my long run. This is evidence to support that a great portion of running ability is mental. And I felt fantastic afterwards – physically and mentally.

Exercise is medicine – for the mind photo (31)

Of all the things in the human heart, anger can be one of the most intense, destructive, and unhealthy emotions that we can experience. If not handled in the proper way, it can have drastic life-changing consequences. It can lead us to want to destroy (and we often self-destruct).

Exercise is a healthy coping mechanism for me. I miss my boxing and grappling, but I have other outlets. Nothing is better than using anger to lift the heavy weights of the ground. I might have my bad a$$ face on in the gym, but I do not care. The gym is where I get my therapy – and more often than not I want to be alone. Just me, my workout, and God.

After my workout, my mind is clear and rational. The anger is significantly diminished, if not completely gone! I have a mind that is constantly on overdrive, so to be able to free my mind from this cycle is the best medicine!!

Sources of anger

I often wonder, what is there to be so angry about? While this line of thinking protects me from hanging onto anger, it does not eliminate the onset of anger.

What makes me angry?

Inconsiderate  and selfish people.

When I do something incorrectly.

When someone offends me or someone I love.

Arrogant people.

Lies and deception.

Unethical marketing and business.

The bottomline

Anger can be good – and even useful. The physiological and psychological responses to anger can be channeled and used productively. (Can I be angry on race day so that I run really fast???)

How does anger impact your workouts?

Do you healthfully cope with anger?

“Is all anger sin? No, but some of it is. Even God Himself has righteous anger against sin, injustice, rebellion and pettiness. Anger sometimes serves a useful purpose, so it isn’t necessarily always a sin. Obviously, we’re going to have adverse feelings, or God wouldn’t have needed to provide the fruit of self-control. Just being tempted to do something is not sin. It’s when you don’t resist the temptation, but do it anyway, that it becomes sin.” ~ Joyce Meyer

When foods are triggers

I believe we all have them – we just may not be aware of them: Trigger foods. These are foods that lead us to eat mindlessly, to binge or simply overeat, to eat without ever feeling satiated (or satisfied), or to restrict eating. I became aware of a trigger food for myself last week: Starburst Jelly Beans.

Danger!

I have known that I LOVE Starburst Jelly Beans. They are the only jelly beans I like and they have become my favorite springtime treat. When I saw the Fave Reds in the store – I just had to pick some up. The problem? I am not able to eat them in moderation. The jelly beans – I know now – are a trigger food for me. (I should know that red means danger!)

Emotional eating triggers

Not the topic of this post but worth mentioning are situational triggers. These are the triggers we are most familiar with and most often encouraged to identify. Examples of these triggers include:

  1. A bad day at the office or at home
  2. An argument with a loved one or friend
  3. Tiredness/exhaustion
  4. Not feeling physically well

Identifying trigger foods

It is not always as easy as it may seem to identify trigger foods. Sure, some of us know it is chocolate, or chips. But what about dairy? Or how about coffee – do you always need something sweet in addition to your hot coffee? This might be a trigger.

In order to manage your triggers (food or situational), you first have to know what type of eater you have become. There are several types of eaters: Mindful eaters, mindless dieters, mindless over-eaters, mindless under-eaters, and chaotic eaters. This is a commonly used checklist to help you identify what type of eater you are.

Check all that apply:

Mindful Eater
All foods in some moderation. Flexible about eating
Student of nutrition.  Aware of nutritional needs. Able to meet body’s needs
In touch with physical body and body’s needs—hunger, fullness
Eats when hungry and stops when full
Nonjudgmental of self, redirects thoughts to positive thoughts, accepting of body
Understands the impact of food on health and well-being
Enjoys food but not obsessed
Only eats mindlessly on occasion
Recovers quickly when mindless eating does occur
Mindless Dieter
Has tried multiple yo-yo type diets.  Fad follower
Spends money on different diets
Feels really guilty when eating poorly
Ignores that taste of diet food—it is eating that matters
Has a ”hard to obtain” body image and feels bad about not having it
Studies food labels and tries to follow “food rules” (not nearly 100%)
Mindless Overeater
Yo-Yo Club Star Member
Ups and downs in weight
Eats until miserable.
Aware of being full but keeps eating anyway
Picks at foods without true enjoyment
Feels out of control and unable to stop
Has intense food cravings – gotta have it!
Tries to eat alone—feels embarrassed
Uses food to comfort self
Uses food to maintain pleasant feelings
Specific food cravings
Often eats alone
Mindless Undereater
Skimps on nutritional needs
Obsessed about calories, fat grams, and other single components of food
Worries a lot about weight
Has high self-image when hungry
Isolates self instead of eating with others—has an excuse not to go to lunch
Fears loss of control
Desires perfection—always trying to obtains
Eliminates certain food groups to save on calories
Mindless Chaotic Eater
May purge to compensate for overeating
Has major swings in weight
Will make large purchases of food and will restrain from eating—perceived binge
Make over exercise to make up for overeating
Thinks critically about self
Uses food to cope with negative self-image
Uses food to “tune out” or “numb out”
Feels empty or lonely a majority of the time
Eats while multi-tasking
Seldom feels full

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is critical to identifying triggers. Are you prone to bingeing only on chips? Chips may be a trigger food. This could be ANYTHING for anyone. Trigger foods are usually sweet or salty – as these most significantly effect the rewards center of your brain.

Need help with mindful eating? I recommend tracking your food and I especially love the Recovery Record.

The bottomline

Yes, undesirable eating behaviors – undereating or overeating – are often preceded by emotional situations or triggers. But sometimes, the foods themselves can be a trigger to start eating and not stop. It is also important to note that these are not always unhealthy foods. For example, peanut butter is a trigger food for me and I must be incredibly mindful when I consume it.

Do you have trigger foods?

The power of a compliment

You never know what a compliment might do!

I will keep this short. I received two powerful compliments in the last two days – during a time of heightened insecurity and self doubt. The first – a compliment from a coworker about how amazing my arms look. The second – a compliment from an older, physically fit gentleman at the gym where I teach and train. He mentioned to the gym owner and staff while pointing at me – “You don’t see a lot of women who can do the full straight leg raises like she was doing. It’s very impressive!

I replied, “Thank you, I train hard and appreciate the compliment.” He said a little more about it, but I was too busy thinking positive thoughts to hear him!

I have been known to be significantly self conscious about my appearance. There was a period when I received a lot of comments like, “Oh, you workout?” Really, I do not look like I workout? That frustrated me – I worked out so hard and yet it was unnoticeable. I was told that only the naive and ignorant would look at me and not know that I workout. But – it has happened a lot!

I have this issue when it comes to my torso. Despite the fact that I can physically perform exercises that most women cannot – I feel that my physical appearance does not display this. How come I do not have washboard abs – like some women I know who are not able to do half of what I can. I sometimes allow myself to become defeated by my physical display of imperfection.

So with this man’s comment – he noticed something that I had felt was unnoticed and unnoticeable. He showed me an error in my thinking.  He validated all of my hard work! And all he had to do was verbalize a compliment – something many people may have thought but never thought to say. And now….all I want to do is go to the gym and do more hanging leg raises.

How can you compliment others today?