iamom: (iEat)
Dr. Sharma, an Edmonton, Alberta-based obesity researcher (and I think bariatric surgeon?) posted a short but excellent entry about the pernicious effects that weight-loss reality shows like The Biggest Loser promote negative and incorrect attitudes about the obese.


He describes one of the conclusions reached by researchers who conducted a study on this show as follows:
Interestingly, amongst the participants, those who had lower BMIs and were not trying to lose weight had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals following exposure to The Biggest Loser compared to similar participants in the control condition.

These results clearly indicate that anti-fat attitudes increase after brief exposure to weight-loss reality television, especially perhaps in people with lower BMI.
iamom: (Default)

It's great!!! Via [livejournal.com profile] willowing's FB. In response in part to comments like this from Dan Savage's often excellent column:
I am thoroughly annoyed at having my tame statements of fact—being heavy is a health risk; rolls of exposed flesh are unsightly—characterized as "hate speech."
The ending to Lindy's rebuttal is brilliant:
But most importantly: I reject this entire framework. I don't give a shit what causes anyone's fatness. It's irrelevant and it's none of my business. I am not making excuses, because I have nothing to excuse. I reject the notion that thinness is the goal, that thin = better—that I am an unfinished thing and that my life can really start when I lose weight. That then I will be a real person and have finally succeeded as a woman. I am not going to waste another second of my life thinking about this. I don't want to have another fucking conversation with another fucking woman about what she's eating or not eating or regrets eating or pretends to not regret eating to mask the regret. OOPS I JUST YAWNED TO DEATH.

If you really want change to happen, if you really want to "help" fat people, you need to understand that shaming an already-shamed population is, well, shameful. Do you know what happened as soon as I rejected all this shit and fell in unconditional luuuuurve with my entire body? I started losing weight. Immediately. WELL LA DEE FUCKING DA.
iamom: (bush hunger strike for nepal)
A recent conference on nutrition has sparked an intense and interesting debate on the value of low-carb diets to treat obesity. It has drawn in heavy hitters such as Dr. Robert Lustig and Gary Taubes, and gone on to implicate others throughout the nutrition blogosphere such as Stephan Guyenet.

It's an interesting debate and I enjoy watching it, because it's attacking with real science the conventional wisdom held since the 80s about low-fat diets. In large measure, it's quite likely that we can tie the modern obesity epidemic to the low-fat craze of the 80s and 90s, because that brought with it a huge influx of refined carbs into our diets.

One of the commenters in this most recent debate, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, has an excellent website I just found this morning for the first time, and I love this summary post he's made about a form of eating he calls LCHF, or Low Carb High Fat. It's a really good read, and basically summarizes the kind of diet I've been trying to follow for about the last 8-10 weeks, successfully losing weight each and every week since I started:


In some respect, it's "Atkins." But the logic behind it is quite sound for those who are obese, and if you're "pre-Type-II-diabetic" or Type I diabetic, this way of eating is much easier on your diabetes. In fact, I think it can pretty much resolve Type II diabetes entirely. Personally, what I've noticed with it is that my hunger is much better managed, I don't think about food all the time, I don't need to eat much between meals, and I feel much more satisfied after a given meal. I'm also getting in a lot more vegetables than I used to. So for me, it's all good so far.
iamom: (Default)
Elisa Zied is a nutritionist whom I just located through the great blog on obesity called Weighty Matters, authored by an Ottawa-based physician and obesity specialist named Yoni Freedhoff. Through this article on food addiction on Zied's personal blog, I discovered this other post on the topic on a different website. From that post comes the following:
According to Sunny Sea Gold, author of Food: The Good Girl’s Drug, “Food hasn’t been proven to be addictive in the same way drugs are; the science isn’t quite there yet.” But Gold, who overcame binge eating disorder, does believe that people can use food just like they would alcohol, drugs, or sex. “They can become dependent on food as a distraction, as a coping mechanism, and as something they comfort themselves with...I know I did” she adds.
I don't have any doubt that certain people do have full-blown addictive behaviours around food. I know that I have had them in the past. Recent research that shows similar MRI results to drug addicts when food-addicted subjects are shown certain food cues would lend further credence to that fact.

My personal experience has been that when food has become a truly addictive substance in my life, I've needed to abstain from it as I would any other drug. Of course, you can't abstain from food per se, but you can certainly undergo a nutritional detox wherein you eat no refined sugar or excess salt for a number of days to see what happens to your body.

In my own case, whenever I've done that I've undergone genuine withdrawal symptoms such as severe headaches, irritability, and even some joint pain. But the feeling that comes after even a few days of eating no sugar and low salt can be pretty remarkable. Suddenly I feel refreshed when I awaken in the morning and it doesn't take me 10 minutes of slow movement to work the stiffness out of my joints. My mind is clearer and sharper throughout the day, and I just feel better generally.

For someone in the throes of their addiction, this activity is much easier said than done. That's why I think psychotherapy can have a big role to play in that process. I can't really think of any case wherein someone who is addicted to food hasn't developed their addiction through mindless eating behaviours tied to emotional or psychological precursors. Some form of inward-looking talk therapy -- or even substantive personal journaling -- is required to break up the mental logjam in our minds and to develop authentic awareness around the reasons why we're overeating in the first place.
iamom: (Default)
The beautiful actress and model Portia deRossi (now known as Portia deGeneres after legally adopting her wife Ellen deGeneres' name last week), appeared on Oprah yesterday to promote her new book Unbearable Lightness and to speak candidly about her battles with anorexia and bulimia. Near the outset of the show, she told a heartrending story about how she ended her first day of shooting on the TV series Ally McBeal. She started an enormous eating binge with a bag of Cheetos in order that they might act as a landmark for her at the end of the night. When she saw the bright orange chunks hit the toilet bowl at the end of that night's purge, she would know that her stomach was finally empty. At the height of her disorder, she weighed only 82 pounds, and after collapsing on a movie set at the age of 25, learned that she had osteoporosis, cirrhosis of the liver, and that her organs were nearly ready to start shutting down. In short, she nearly died from malnourishment.

I've never been one to purge, I've only binged. But I really empathized with parts of her story, and that story brought me to tears a couple of times. When Oprah told Portia about how playing Ellen deGeneres's therapist on Ellen's sitcom during the episode when she came out of the closet inspired the largest onslaught of hate mail Oprah had ever received in her entire career, Portia broke down into tears and that made me cry, too. I also teared up a little when Portia explained how much Ellen's unconditional love towards her has helped her to heal herself. "If someone as wonderful as Ellen can love me for who I am, maybe I should, too." I found that so unbelievably touching, I don't know why. I think just the idea of receiving unconditional love from someone no matter what you look like or how you act is not an entirely natural one to me.

Right at the end of the show, she summed up her experiences so poignantly I had to transcribe it. The idea of chronic dieting being its own hell resonated untellingly strongly with me.
Living with anorexia and bulimia is hell. But chronic dieting is also hell. Living your entire life never feeling good enough about your body – always feeling like if you weighed a little less, somehow you'd be happier, your life would be better – is a horrible way to live. And it's a very short step from a full-blown eating disorder, but really the only way I recovered from my eating disorder (and from chronic dieting) was to never, ever restrict any kind of food – not even portion size. And that really is the only way food loses its power over you.

If you can have something every day, as much as you want, you tend not to want to have as much of it anymore. And after a period of time, you actually eat what your body needs, what makes you happy, and you don't think about food ever again. That is how I healed myself.

– Portia deRossi, on Oprah yesterday
Edit:[livejournal.com profile] dizziedumb just posted a few trailers about food movies that sort of speak to parts of this issue here.
iamom: (flying)
Chapter 7 of Roth's Women Food and God begins to deal with the practical application of her approach. She begins by outlining how the way we eat reveals what we truly believe about ourselves here on earth.
In the moment that you reach for potato chips to avoid what you feel, you are effectively saying, "I have no choice but to numb myself. Some things can't be felt, understood or worked through." You are saying, "There is no possibility of change so I might as well eat." You are saying, "Goodness exists for everyone but me so I might as well eat." You are saying, "I am fundamentally flawed so I might as well eat." Or, "Food is the only true pleasure in life so I might as well eat."
She goes on to describe how many of us are so deeply caught up in the stories of trauma and hurt from our childhood or our past that we're essentially unable to live cogently in the present moment. I've expressed that insight like this: Perhaps at one time we used food as a necessary coping strategy to deal with truly negative events that were occurring in real-time, but even though those events are no longer at play in our lives today, we haven't shed those eating habits or those mind-numbing coping mechanisms.
Most of us are so enthralled with the scary tigers in our minds -- our stories of loneliness, rejection, grief -- that we don't realize they are in the past. They can't hurt us anymore. When we realize that the stories we are haunted by are simply that -- stories -- we can be with what we actually feel directly, now, in our bodies. Tingling, pulsing, pressure, weightiness, heaviness, big black ball of concrete in the chest. And by being in immediate contact with what we feel, we see the link between feelings and what is beyond them. We see that we are so much more than any particular feeling, that, for example, when sadness is explored it may turn into a lush meadow of peace. Or that when we allow ourselves to feel the full heat of anger without expressing it, a mountain of strength and courage is revealed.
iamom: (looking out)
After a bit of digging in my LJ archives, I found that I last wrote about Geneen Roth nearly 4 years ago, probably after I'd been referred to her early book called Breaking Free From Emotional Eating by my psychotherapist. In that entry, I outlined Roth's so-called "eating guidelines" and also discussed an audio lecture series I'd been listening to called When Food is Food and Love is Love. At that particular time, I recall feeling personally incapable of following her advice. I do, however, remember feeling that what she was saying was critically and categorically correct.

Her most recent book is called Women Food and God (google | amazon.ca | amazon.com | oprah.com), and despite being obviously directed mostly towards women, I've found her advice and insight to be nearly equally applicable towards men like myself. I've marked up several passages during my read of the first 90 pages, but I wanted to make a special note of the following excerpt:
Our work is not to change what you do, but to witness what you do with enough awareness, enough curiosity, enough tenderness that the lies and old decisions upon which the compulsion is based become apparent and fall away. When you no longer believe that eating will save your life, when you feel exhausted or overwhelmed or lonely, you will stop. When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart. When the shape of your body no longer matches the shape of your beliefs, the weight disappears, And yes, it really is that simple.
Read more... )
Preceding this excellent passage from pages 80-81 are some more insights which I've already reached regarding how valid our reasons for overeating are. In essence, we have needed to overeat in order to cope with whatever we perceive our weaknesses or traumatic life situations to be. Whatever our reasons, they have been necessary and valid. However, they are no longer necessary for us to survive, and we no longer need to identify ourselves as psychologically, emotionally, or psychically damaged individuals who require something massive to be fixed before we can take off this weight.

In fact, we are totally perfect just as we are, and once we recognize that and then learn how to trust our own instincts about how to eat for the sake of our body's health and nutrition instead of how to eat mindlessly and to numb ourselves from the pain or frustration we might feel each day, then the weight will come off naturally and relatively easily. And as she says, it will stay off.

What's perhaps most difficult about this kind of approach is that so many of us have tied up a major part of our self-identification as flawed individuals who must be on a restricted diet in order to become healthy. If we have been dieting for a significant number of years (or have felt that we must go on a diet in order to lose weight), then this form of self-identification can become deeply entrenched and tremendously difficult to overcome. But it is absolutely possible to do it. We just need to trust in ourselves, which admittedly is not always easy to do.
iamom: (smiling eyes)
I'm reading a book right now which is making me consider not eating meat more seriously than ever before. It's called Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and it's really, really well-written. Also extremely compelling and thought-provoking. I'd like to write at some length about the topic and this book once I'm finished, but this morning's Nonduality Highlights had the following snippet from Ram Tzu which made me laugh a bit:
Ram Tzu knows this...

God doesn't care
What you had for lunch.
He created tofu and sausage
With the same thought.

Yet you advanced ones
Swell with pride
Convinced your special diet
Is a shortcut to heaven.

Clever you.
Who would have ever thought
To look there.

The fools go on eating poison
In blissful ignorance.
Too stupid and unspiritual
Not to enjoy their
Ice cream, French fries, and red meat.

Ram Tzu says...

Far better to die a single death
Than a thousand little daily ones.

- Ram Tzu, posted to AlongTheWay
Can I read that as condoning the eating of meat? :)
iamom: (john)
I was just corresponding with [livejournal.com profile] grammardog about this topic when my mom sent me an e-mail from the Dr. Daniel Amen, who is a psychiatrist that's been doing a bunch of research with brain scans related to various psychiatric and other medical disorders. In the article she forwarded, Amen refers to a book called The End of Overeating by David Kessler which I read last fall. That's where I first learned that researchers are starting to take the idea of obesity as an addictive problem seriously.
A lot of people blame their weight problems on a lack of willpower, but mounting scientific evidence points toward obesity as an addiction rather than a simple character flaw.

In our clinics, SPECT brain imaging has shown us that being overweight is a brain disorder similar to what we see in people who are addicted to substances like cocaine or heroin.

In people with addictions, the brain’s reward system gets hijacked. The brain’s reward system is an intricate network that involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, which drives you to seek out pleasurable things, and the prefrontal cortex, which puts on the brakes to keep you from overindulging in those things.

When this system is balanced, it works beautifully to keep your behaviors in check. In people with addictions, however, the reward system goes haywire. The dopamine centers take control and reduce the effectiveness of the prefrontal cortex.

Here’s how the reward system can hijack the brain. Whenever we do something enjoyable—taking a walk on the beach, listening to music, holding a lover’s hand—it’s like pressing a button in the brain to release a little bit of dopamine to make us feel pleasure. If we push these pleasure buttons too often or too strong, we reduce their effectiveness. Eventually, it takes more and more excitement and stimulation to feel anything at all.

Cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, alcohol, and nicotine all cause dopamine surges that can make you crave these substances. The amount of dopamine released when drugs are taken can be two to 10 times more than what your brain produces for natural rewards.

Certain foods can produce the same effect. In The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner, writes that the high-fat, high-sugar combos found in many mouthwatering snacks light up the brain’s dopamine pathway similar to the way drugs and alcohol do. He suggests that some people can actually get hooked on chocolate chip cookies the way other people get addicted to cocaine.

-- from Is Obesity an Addiction or Just A Lack of Willpower? by Dr. Daniel Amen (article here)
As I was just saying in my e-mail to Sara, I've long felt that willpower is not at play in my obesity. I often feel quite powerless over my eating habits, and I frequently eat for emotional and comfort reasons which take real effort to replace with non-food comforts if you're in the habit of eating for comfort. My mom, who's a yoga teacher and has also battled with obesity for much of her adult life, has just started a class in Calgary called Healthy Weight Yoga and she has been sharing some extensive class notes and instructional materials that she has developed for her class. In some of those materials, there are suggestions about ways to reward yourself without food that I think might be good replacements. Things like quiet time to yourself, a constructive hobby that really engages your mind, that sort of thing.
iamom: (flying by)
A key part of The Gabriel Method deals with creative visualization. Each day, in the morning and before bed, you're supposed to spend some time visualizing yourself in an ideal body. Change the mind, the logic goes, and the body will follow.

My wife pointed out a flaw in this logic the other night, though. She said that you might not do anything productive to reach that ideal state if all you visualize is that ideal state. What might be more useful would be to visualize yourself as you are now, but to see yourself doing the behaviours that will lead to the ideal state.

I've been thinking about that. It makes a lot of sense. In other words, visualize yourself preparing healthy meals, visualize yourself sitting down to eat them in a leisurely, focused way without distractions, and visualizing yourself performing physical exercises that you enjoy. Then maybe when those visualizations really get ingrained in your mind, you'll start to try some of them. And once you start to try some of them, you'll start to repeat some of them more often. And then once you start to repeat some of them more often, you'll start to change your relationship with food and exercise and start to lose weight successfully.

I think this all comes out of NLP, that technique that Tony Robbins uses in his self-improvement seminars. I've been gearing up mentally for starting some of these visualizations, because I haven't even made the effort to sit quietly and try them. We'll see what comes out of them. Frankly, it's so easy to maintain the status quo that trying to do ANYTHING can feel like a really challenge sometimes.
iamom: (carclub)
This recent post on moby's blog inspired a huge debate on the LJ feed for it that made me think about my choices around eating meat.

(Incidentally, I've been really digging his blog and it's totally worth subscribing to. It's not super deep or anything, but occasionally it contains neat posts about the underground NY music scene and often it contains funny and relatively insightful rants about the U.S. government. Plus the guy's a great music producer. Remember Play?)

Here in Halifax, we're lucky to have a great farmer's market each week where we buy local produce of all types. There are also organic meat producers whom we try to patronize as much as possible, notwithstanding the fact that their prices are like twice or three times more than what we'd pay in the supermarket. But I like to think that we're paying the real cost of meat when we buy from those guys instead of the artificially lowered price of meat at the grocery stores. Plus we pay far less in fuel costs for each pound of locally-grown meat we eat as compared to the grocery store version, which is trucked in from God knows what agri-farm in Ontario or the US or something.

And that's kind of my point. When I buy local meat, I feel great about it because it tastes better (honest, it does -- noticeably) and I'm supporting a responsible local farmer. But I'd actually rather not buy meat at all, which would be even cheaper and better for you healthwise over the long term. No doubt that you can eat a healthy diet that includes meat, but a meatless diet is even healthier. Or can be, if you're mindful about it.

Something to consider, anyway. Along with these tidbits from the creator of the excellent Bizarro cartoon, Dan Piraro:

-- Animal Stuff (Vegan Index Page)
-- Why I'm Vegan
-- Are Humans Carnivores?
iamom: (pink)
These are my reading notes from Chapter 2 of Geneen Roth's Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating. My notes from Chapter 1 are here.

To recap, Chapter 1 advised us to eat when we're hungry. But that wasn't instruction to gorge ourselves on crazy food all the time; instead, it was instruction to learn how to recognize our body's authentic signs of hunger, and to learn how to eat with the intent of satisfying that bodily hunger (as opposed to all the emotional and other motivations we have for eating).

Chapter 2 deals with deciding what you actually want to eat, the underlying logic being that if we eat what we truly want to eat, then we're more apt to be satisfied and less inspired to overeat. Just like Chapter 1, this chapter is full of deep insight.

Roth begins by acknowledging that for compulsive eaters, it's scary to think about giving ourselves license to eat what we want because we think we want so much. We think that if we eat what we want, we'll never stop eating and become even more obese. She tells us that in the beginning of this exercise, we likely will eat too much. But once we start to figure out exactly what it is that we want to eat (and also how to eat when we're hungry and how to stop eating when we're full), then we'll naturally start wanting to eat healthier foods in healthier quantities. I'm convinced that this is true.

She also discusses the emotional reasons why we eat, and how the effects of lifelong dieting and depriving ourselves in order to lose weight have skewed our food outlook on the world. She confesses that she has really never felt like a normal person who could walk up to the counter and ask for an ice cream cone without feeling horribly guilty that she was falling off the wagon again. And she notes the effect this has on us emotionally. From page 20:
I could eat from morning till night for the next six months and I would have still dieted and binged for seventeen years of my life. There isn't enough food in the world to heal the isolation of those years. There isn't enough food to fill the space created by the deprivation and the ensuing feelings of craziness. We can't go back. We can't eat for all the times we didn't eat. We can use that pain as an indicator of what doesn't work. We don't have to deprive ourselves any longer. Beginning today.
Read more... )
The gist of what she's saying is that if we learn to trust our own true inner voice about our hunger and what we want to eat, then we'll naturally start choosing normal foods to eat in normal quantities. But compulsive eaters (and frequent dieters) are so out of touch with what they want to eat at any given time that they're usually eating too much, too often. Learning to listen to that true inner voice will fix that tendency. But we have to learn how to trust it.
As long as there are foods you feel you shouldn't eat, you create struggle and conflict. As long as there is struggle, there is bingeing. And as long as there is bingeing, there is fear about eating what you want.

When you let go of the struggle by allowing yourself choice about what you eat, you let go of one end of the rope on which you have been tugging and straining. When you let go of your side, the rope immediately falls to the ground. When you decide that you will listen to yourself and not to your calorie-counter or your fears, there is nothing to rebel against. There is nothing you can't have tomorrow so there is no reason to eat it all today.

When you eat what you want, when you drop the rope and end the struggle between right foods and wrong foods, you will eventually (after your first tendency to eat more than you truly want) consume fewer calories than you did when you were guided by caloric content.
Roth goes on from here to discuss various logistical concerns with eating out and such, as well as more of the emotional underpinnings of the issue -- especially those related to your own expectations and personal outlook on life.
Whenever you notice yourself planning meals around what you should or shouldn't eat, or even around what you might want to eat, you are creating a set of expectations for yourself, which, if you don't meet them, will evoke the familiar feeling of weight-related failure.

As compulsive eaters, we spend our lives forsaking all the moments of satisfaction for a future moment when we will be thin and the deprivation will have paid off. And if and when that moment does come, we are so worried about gaining weight that we focus our attention once more on the future and do not take pleasure in the present.

Breaking free from compulsive eating is also breaking free from preoccupation with the future.
When one women in her workshop asked, "Isn't eating sugar all the time terrible for you?" Roth responds,
Yes. And no. Eating salads and vegetables under restraint and bingeing on sugar whenever you have the chance is not particularly healthy. Sneaking, hiding, or lying about food is not healthy. Punishing yourself is not healthy.
Hear hear, sista. The next chapter is called Distracted Eating: It Doesn't Count If You're Not Sitting Down. Can't wait to read it.
iamom: (pink)
There's this fat guy named Steve Vaught who is walking across the country right now in an effort to lose weight and develop a healthier lifestyle. He's chronicling his adventures on his blog at FatManWalking.com, and a recent entry of his contained a large portion size of wisdom. I can't link to it directly because his blog is kind of messed up technically, but the entry I'm writing about today is about motivation on 03 22 06 on this page.

From browsing his site, I've learned that after completing two-thirds of his trip (several thousand miles!) he still hadn't reached his target weight. It was bothering him and he didn't understand why he wasn't succeeding. He ended up deciding that he was still eating too badly to lose weight, and that made him take a break from his walk and re-evaluate what he was doing. Some of his insights line up pretty closely with the ones I've been developing lately about this. Things like leaving aside the guilt, stop beating yourself up over bad food or exercise choices from one day to the next, etc.
There is no elusive motivation that once possessed will whisk you into a supermodel body, there is only you and your desire to be happy. The fact that you want something to fix you is the best indication that what needs fixing is you.  Logically you know what the answer is, eat less, eat better and move around once in a while. (Or walk across the country.--ed.)
Vaught says that we all have different justifications and motivations for our bad lifestyle choices, and that we all have our own ways of convincing ourselves that we are "powerless against this 'disease'." He gives us a reality check: You are the problem! You overindulge and have done so for quite some time. Now you need to work to reverse that bad behavior which by now is probably habit. You need to get over yourself and simply go and do something.Vaught:
Once you stop setting yourself up for failure you will release yourself from the cycle of guilt, self-loathing and desire for comfort, then you will start to see that you have to take the good with the bad. In releasing the cycle of weightloss/weightgain and accept the successes with the failure as the big picture you will find that you have all the power and do not need to find motivation, it comes naturally. You are not trying to get happy by losing weight; you are trying to get healthy by losing weight. Happiness should be an element in your life regardless. Once you take the power away from the weight you will feel a burden lifted from you shoulders, start to feel happy and stop punishing yourself and ultimately losing weight will become natural. Cure the mind and the ass will follow.
He discusses a "one day at a time" approach that works for me. I think of this as a sort of continuum of eating and exercise, wherein sometimes good choices are made and sometimes bad choices are made, but ultimately, over time, more good than bad choices get made and you become tangibly healthier. Vaught:
Try your best everyday, make little reminders in your routine to point you in the right direction, It is not the weight that holds you captive or even the food, instead it is the inner conflict about failing to control oneself that keeps you from being successful.
Later on, he came up with a list of specific behaviours he is finding useful. I don't disagree with them. They are (with my paraphrasing):

1. Portion control. To lose weight, you must consume less than you burn in physical activity. To maintain a healthy weight, you must consume the same amount that you burn. It's common sense, and it's true.

2. Variety. Our bodies need a mixture of sugar, salt, fat, protein, everything. But overweight people need it in smaller amounts. Expanding your habits to include multiple food choices is beneficial. Overindulging in any one food is bad, but so is avoiding any one food.

3. Nutrition. Vaught: Once you eat less and learn to feel real hunger and then you have mixed it up and are not in food ruts, then you are ready to start choosing good food over bad. If it is modified, sugar or caffeine or whatever-free dump it. Now you want to eat natural whole foods over processed. If the food does not have a naturally occurring color – then pass.

4. Exercise. After finding that healthier eating habits are starting to take root, you'll find that you naturally want to become more active. It almost happens of its own accord. And even if it's something as simple as walking, that's enough. You can lose weight just by walking!

5. Your mind. Vaught: This effort will fail miserably if you start to beat yourself up over transgressions. You will have good days and bad days. Individually they do not matter. Success is a lifetime thing not a daily. If you are not accepting your weakness then you are not accepting that you are human and that is why you are struggling in the first place.
iamom: (lookingup)
On the advice of a trusted advisor, I'm reading Geneen Roth's book Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating (author on google | book on amazon.com | amazon.ca). Unlike many non-fiction books I've read lately, I find it difficult to read this one quickly. It's because there's so much insight on every page it warrants a slower read.

Admittedly, the book's not for everybody. For example, anyone who makes it a scarce habit to eat for any other reason than being hungry wouldn't get much from it. But anyone who has observed in themselves the propensity to eat too much or too often and always for some other reason than being hungry (or for no reason at all) would find wisdom in these pages. I know that I have.

My reading notes from Chapter 1, which deals mainly with the concept of hunger, are below. Material quoted directly is italicized with page number references or else set apart in a citation blockquote (w/blue sideline).
The first step in breaking free from compulsive eating is to eat when you are hungry (page 6). In recent memory, I recall eating mainly without any regard for my actual level of physical hunger at the time. The mere evaluation of how hungry I might be at any given meal time is practically an alien concept to me.

The fear of hunger, like the fear of loneliness, seems to be connected with emptiness, echoes, endless wanting (page 7). I don't think I have a fear of my own hunger per se; more to the point, I'm not even aware of what my own level of hunger is at any given time.

Beginner's exercises.
Keep a log of what you ate, when you ate it, and if you were hungry when you ate (page 8).Log your feelings about eating as you go. Watch for: forgetting to log meals you ate when you weren't hungry; forgetting to log 'bad' meals, random snacks, or binges; excessive self-judgment or congratulation for 'bad' or 'good' eating. Ask yourself: how often do you eat when you are hungry? Can you recognize your own signs of physical hunger?

Don't eat at your regular meal times for a day or two (or longer) to help get in touch with your hunger (page 9). Observe if you anticipate your hunger or if you want to be hungry before you actually become hungry. Note: This exercise may require some advance planning so that you're sure to have food on hand when you are actually hungry (i.e. you may not feel like eating at your regular meal times).

Pay attention to the bodily sensations that you recognize as hunger (page 9). When you feel hunger coming on, stop what you're doing and observe it fully. Where do you feel it in your body? What does it feel like? What happens to you when you feel yourself getting hungry? What do you do, and what do you want to do, when you feel hunger?

When you've decided that you are hungry, rate your hunger objectively on a scale from 1 to 10 (page 10). This will give you an objective way to assess your current level of hunger, and over time, to compare it with past levels of hunger. Until now, we have probably been overlaying a lot of subjective criteria on our perceived hunger levels; using the 10-point scale helps us to unravel that a little.

When you are not hungry and decide to eat, choose a food that you ate that day when you were hungry (page 10). Whoa, this one is heavy. Deserves its own chapter: when you are not hungry and decide to eat? Isn't that like most of the time? In this situation, she goes on to ask us to be aware of:
   -- how the food tastes
   -- how the taste was different when you were hungry
   -- if you enjoy it as much as when you were hungry
   -- what, since it's not hunger, you are feeling
   -- how you know when to stop eating

Common themes, questions and fears.
   If I eat when I'm hungry, I'll eat all the time.
   If I eat when I'm hungry, I'll gain 50 pounds and nobody will love me.
   Your body gets hungry. When you feed it, it gets satisfied. There is no magic about it. It might take a while to sift through the various sensations you feel and distringuish hunger from sadness or loneliness, but that's because you're not used to recognizing hunger -- and not because your body doesn't feel it or because your hunger, if you let yourself recognize it, would be insatiable. No on has to tell you when to eat; your body will tell you. No on can tell you when to eat; they aren't in touch with your stomach. And if you are listening to your body to tell you when to eat, you can also hear it saying "enough."
   If I only eat when I'm hungry, I won't be able to eat as much as I want or when I want it. That's true. But the amount that you want is often not as much as your body wants.
   Ask yourself: What is it that you want from food beyond its nourishing your body?
   Ask yourself: Do you want to eat as much as you want more than you want to change how you deal with food and feel about your body?
   When I'm not hungry and good food is around, I feel that I'm missing something very special if I don't eat. When you are not hungry and good food is around, what you do miss by eating is the chance to take care of yourself, to see that the world won't end if you don't eat the cheesecake. You miss the chance not to get sick, to be so full you can't sleep, and to wake up in the morning wishing the night had never happened. When you are not hungry enough to begin eating or too full to continue, you miss the taste of food anyway.
   I'm afraid to let myself get hungry; I feel so empty. The sensation of hunger is sometimes accompanied by a corresponding physical sensation of emptiness and hollowness; as such, it can sometimes evoke the emotion of hunger too. When physical hunger activates our yearning or aching, we feel frightened and want to push it away. Often we push it away and repress that feeling by eating.
Closing words from Chapter 1.
Physical hunger is of the body. Physical hunger asks for food. Nonphysical hunger is of the mind, the heart. When you see that your physical hunger is capable of being fulfilled, you can begin to allow that same possibility for your emotional hunger.

When you don't allow yourself hunger, you don't allow yourself satisfaction.
iamom: (pink)
1 - ID your dominant dosha
2 - balance your doshas through proper diet and exercise (i.e. hatha yoga)

From Vasant Lad:

-- ayurveda is from the Sanskrit, meaning "Science of Life"
-- promotes proper balance in life through right thinking, right diet, right lifestyle
-- conceives of proper health in terms of health being order and disease being disorder; the goal is to bring the full body into balance and alignment, hence order, hence health
-- the physical universe is manifest in five elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth; certain combinations of these elements result in the three essential qualities of vata, pitta, and kapha
-- the cause of disease is rooted in an imbalance between (i.e. a deficiency or excess in) vata, pitta, and kapha

-- source elements: Space and Air
-- associated with movement: vata governs breathing, blinking, the circulatory system (pumping of the heart and working of the lungs) and all other physical movement associated with muscles and tissues
-- when in balance, vata produces creativity and flexibility
-- when out of balance vata produces anxiety and fear

-- source elements: Fire and Water
-- associated with the metabolic system: physical digestion, nutrition, metabolism, energy level and body temperature
-- when in balance, pitta produces understanding and intelligence
-- when out of balance, pitta produces anger, hatred,  and jealousy

-- source elements: Earth and Water
-- associated with the structural makeup of the body: bones, muscles, tendons, and the infrastructure of cells; also hydration, moisturization of the skin, and the immune system
-- when in balance, kapha expresses itself as love, calmness and forgiveness
-- when out of balance, kapha leads to attachment, greed, and excessive longing

Google searches and other resources:
-- ayurvedic diet vasant lad
-- ayurvedic diet robert svoboda
-- ayurvedic diet david frawley
-- doshas
-- Relationship between the 6 tastes and the doshas
iamom: (lookingup)
The Body-For-Life (BFL) 12-Week Fitness Challenge is a comprehensive healthy eating and exercise plan developed by the American bodybuilder and entrepreneur Bill Phillips.

This article and interview by Outside magazine on Bill Phillips provides some interesting background about the man. Per the article, Phillips first cut his writing chops in the mid 80s while he was in his early 20s with a self-published monthly newsletter called The Anabolic Update. Phillips makes no bones about the steroid use he practiced during his professional bodybuilding career, and went on to publish a more technical manual for hardcore lifters in 1991 called Anabolic Reference Guide. In 1992 he transformed his monthly newsletter into a full-colour glossy called Muscle Media 2000. It was this publication which served as the springboard for Phillips' first Body-for-Life 12-Week Fitness Challenge in 1997 (here is the winners list for that inaugural 1997 BFL Challenge; list of other years can be found here -- lots of incredible before-and-after shots on those pages).

Phillips has produced a full-length documentary film about this first country-wide call for transformative amateur bodybuilders. Called Body of Work, it's available for no cost through his website provided that you make a donation to the Children's Wish Foundation. It also features a series of Survivor-style cinematography and interviewing styles, and in point of fact, Survivor 9 (Vanuatu) star Ami Cusack was an employee of Phillips' company at that time. Cusack, who's a gorgeous pearl of a woman in the Phillips documentary, was featured in several interview spots throughout the video and also happened to be dating Bill Phillips around the same time of shooting. I wonder if Phillips followed Survivor 9 avidly. I would have, were I him. (This Google search on Ami Cusack also yields some interesting results.)

Eating plan. This aspect of Body-for-Life is based on a back-to-basics diet commonly used by bodybuilders while preparing for a competition or photo shoot. It's comprised of six small, nutritious, evenly-spaced meals each day, where each meal is comprised of a single serving of protein and a single serving of carbs, and at least two meals have a serving of fruits and/or vegetables. There is an approved eating list that essentially rules out foods high in sugar, fat and calories, leaving behind nutritious foods like white chicken and turkey meat, lean beef and pork, legumes, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and whole-grain breads, pasta and rice. Particular attention is paid to portion sizes, wherein a portion of any food except vegetables cannot be larger than the palm of your own hand or the volume of your own clenched fist. This usually results in meat serving sizes of 3-6 ounces and carb serving sizes of 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup.

Exercise plan. It's pretty simple: you work out six days a week, alternating between cardio, upper body, cardio, and lower body. The end result is that you get 2-3 cardio workouts each week (20 min each) and 2-3 weightlifting workouts each week (40-50 min each). All the workouts are based on an interval training model, wherein you perform repeated sets (usually 5-6) of cardio or weightlifting exercises with increasing intensity for each set. Exercise goals are to go to failure on the final set, with the intent of working to total exhaustion for each muscle group in every workout. This results in a sliding scale depending on the fitness level of each person, and as one progresses through the 12-week challenge, one cannot fail to notice improvements to one's own capacity and performance (some examples include: regular increases to the amount of weight one can lift each week; improvement to one's cardiovascular strength and endurance; and/or a decrease in bodyfat percentage and overall body weight).

Mental preparation. An essential pre-requisite to the plan involves mental preparation exercises -- what Phillips calls mindset exercises. He recommends that you keep a written journal of your progress and that you plan each of your meals and workouts ahead of time. Before starting the challenge, you're also asked to think about what your wildest dreams are regarding your ideal body (i.e. your Body For Life); you're asked to identify the reasons why you want to do this challenge, and you're asked to set five specific, measureable goals that you will attain by the end of the 12-week challenge. By reviewing your goals, dreams and reasons for undertaking the challenge each day, you reinforce your resolve to stay on track with the program.

Absolutely anybody, regardless of age or physical condition or starting weight can complete this program and achieve positive results. The most inspiring stories for me are those with people who have completed 3-4 consecutive challenges and dropped over 100 pounds of fat in the process. Ultimate success in the program comes from mastery of the physical exercises AND the eating plan in full concert with one another. For many obese people, following the BFL eating plan will be the most difficult part. But for anyone trying to start or follow the program, there is a wealth of online resources for additional BFL information and support. In fact, I don't find BFL, and the community of hardcore practitioners of the BFL lifestyle, to be dissimilar to a 12-Step Program. It's just one that provides for people who are addicted to eating and slow behaviour patterns.


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Dustin LindenSmith

January 2013

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