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mindful eating

MY "NON-DIET" SKILLS FOR HEALTHY EATING

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MY "NON-DIET" SKILLS FOR HEALTHY EATING

Well I’m back with a Wednesday wisdom for you all, and I’m excited about the topic. Lately I’ve been full of so much I want to share that it’s been hard to pick! So you may be getting more than just Wednesday Wisdom this week :)

Anyways, on to the subject, I’m giving you 4 skills to master that will help you on your healthy eating journey. I’m calling them “non-diet” skills because they are skills that will help you create a healthy relationship with food, and are skills to use long term. I’m all about getting to the root of the problem, rather than shedding some quick water weight with a detox diet. Good things take time and effort! Don’t think you have to master all of these at once, but lets try 1 at a time, each week taking on a new skill to practice. 

Skill #1: The PAUSE.

This may seem simple but it can have a huge effect! At your next meal, practice taking a moment to pause, evaluate your hunger. If you feel like you could eat more without reaching your max fullness, but remain at a comfortable state, then continue with a few more bites. If during that pause you feel at a comfortable spot, satisfied, and if you were to eat more your clothes would start feeling tighter, or you may start feeling overly stuffed and uncomfortable, then put down your fork and be done. This moment of pause is so important and we hardly ever stop during a meal to evaluate our hunger. This typically leads us to overeating and feeling stuffed. We want to fill satisfied and energized after we eat!

Skill #2: Healthy Swaps.

This skill is relative to where you are in your own healthy eating journey (yes we’re calling it a journey again). The idea is to see what ingredients you could swap for slightly healthier ones. For example, maybe right now you love sugary toasted nuts as a salad topper. Try swapping out the sugary roasted nuts for some plain toasted nuts. Or maybe you use a sugary dressing from the grocery store, try swapping that out with a simpler, homemade dressing with less sugar. Little baby steps towards healthy choices make a big difference in the long run. Check out some other healthy swaps with this free print out I put together.

Skill #3: Determining worth it vs. NOT worth it.

This skill comes with being honest with yourself. You may have to stop and ask yourself why you’re eating something. Are you eating that cookie because someone put it in front of you and you just reached for it out of habit, and it doesn’t even taste that great? Or is it because it’s your favorite homemade cookie that your grandma makes once a year and you enjoy every last crumb because its that good? Its making those occasional treats really worth it and delicious, and learning to pass on the stuff that we don’t love, and typically eat solely because it’s in front of us, or because we’re bored, or whatever the non logical reason is. 

Skill #4: Finding your ‘Sanity Keeper’ indulgence.

So you’re trying to eat better, stay on track. But you’re finding that you can’t be perfect ALL the time, you’re human! Welcome to the club. My suggestion is to find you ‘sanity keeper’ indulgence, which is something you know will satisfy you with just one or two bites to take the edge off. It will give you a sense of satisfaction when you need a little somethin somethin, but you know you won’t go overboard on. For example, when I’m craving something sweet, and dreaming of desserts, I’ve found that if I have a little piece of dark chocolate this will do the trick for me! When its a good rich chocolate, one little square is all I need. It’s low in sugar, and doesn’t leave me craving more. Some nights I don’t crave anything, but when I do, I have some chocolate ready to go. Find what works for you.

So there you have it! Which skill are you going to work on this week? Let me know, lets chat, I want to hear all about your successes! And struggles, we all of them! Have a happy, healthy, awesome week!

 

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Book Club: The Rules of "Normal" Eating

 

WEDNESDAY WISDOM

Here in Spokane Washington, I train at a gym called FitEdge. We work with our clients to obtain the 4 pillars of health. These are Mental, Physical, Fuel, and Regeneration. As part of our mental health, we aim to create a healthy relationship with yourself and food. To help with this, we started a little book club with our clients and I'd love for you to join in! Right now we are reading a book called 'The Rules of "Normal" Eating' by Karen R. Koenig. Each week we are discussing 1 or 2 chapters. I am loving this book so far! It's so real and relatable to all the things we deal with in our heads that we may think our normal, or we may not really know what "normal" eating is. This book will help you get on track with your core beliefs that effect your relationship with food and your success with maintaining a healthy weight. She breaks it down in such a great way. It's a quick and easy read to get you started off right approaching the new year! You can check out the Book Club blog Here. For now, I'll share this weeks post with you here at Body Design by Britt. 


This week we get into some great stuff. Chapter 5 is called ‘Beliefs of “normal” eaters’. If you’ve felt like you don’t have any “normal” eating beliefs DON’T PANIC. We can change. In Chapter 4 we talked about reframing our thinking. How do we do this?

  1. Step one is to identify your irrational, unhealthy beliefs
  2. Step two is to rework them into rational, healthy ones

Think of your own irrational beliefs towards Food, Eating, Weight, and Body. Now try to transform them into rational beliefs. She gives us an example for each category in this chapter (pg 87). I like the example for Food: irrational - “There are lots of bad and forbidden foods I shouldn’t eat”. How many times have we heard this?! “Don’t eat this, but you can eat that”, or “Top 5 foods to NEVER eat”. Sound familiar? Lots of catchy fitness magazine titles may come to mind. Well she explains that a more rational belief would be “There is no such thing as a bad or forbidden food” or “Foods can be nutritious or not, but they don’t have good or bad qualities” or “No one can tell me what foods I should or shouldn’t eat”. Those sound better right?

The chapter goes on to list several beliefs of “normal” eaters, showing us the irrational belief and then how it changes to a rational belief. One of my favorites was “Feeling good or bad about myself depends on what I eat or don’t eat”. That is totally irrational but I’ve caught myself thinking that several times. The more rational thought would be, “How I feel about myself has nothing to do with what I eat or don’t eat”. This is so powerful. Our self worth and confidence is so much more than food & eating! We need to know that and believe it.

One of my favorite excerpts from the chapter is on page 98. “Normal eating is about listening to your body and making healthy decisions. It’s about pleasure, satisfaction, abundance, self-trust, good self-care, internal messages, and most of all, enjoying food. Disordered eating – whether compulsive/emotional or restrictive- is about fear, deprivation, rigidity, childish gratification, mistrusting oneself, poor self-care, external messages, self denial, and scary feelings. What is most striking about the comparison is that disordered thinking about eating has so little to do with actual put-it-on-your-plate-and-enjoy-it food!”

What are CORE beliefs?? In the book she defines them as "your most basic assumptions about yourself and the world, your take on life; they contain your bedrock values and most firmly held convictions about how things should work." This is where our beliefs about food, eating, weight, and body all stem from.

What are your core beliefs?

If you believe in yourself and that you have big dreams your going to accomplish, you are more likely to take care of your health and fuel your body the best you can to reach those dreams! In this chapter she helps us with tools for figuring out what our core beliefs are. Once you’ve discovered your list of core beliefs (about 10 or so) weed out the irrational ones and reframe them into rational beliefs following her example in the book. Some examples of other core beliefs might be -the glass is always half full, not half empty  -We can achieve anything in life with hard work  -We get what we deserve  -Skinny people are happier  -Rich people are happier  -Money can't buy happiness  -etc. (mantras that you live by)

An example that I found while looking into my core beliefs is the belief that “People may not like me if I’m not in shape or gain weight.” This is totally irrational! For this exercise I reframed this belief into “My weight or physical appearance will not effect how much the people I care about love me or how they feel towards me.” By changing this belief, I will change other irrational thoughts and fears that come along with it. This includes being scared to eat in front of certain people, or feeling pressured to look a certain way.

How do we connect our core beliefs to our thinking about food, eating, weight, and our body? Well she gives us a 3 step guide!

  1. Identify the eating- or body-related behavior you want to change
  2. Identify the irrational eating- or body-related belief underlying the behavior
  3. Identify the irrational core belief that underlies the food/weight/body- related belief

Easy enough? give it a try! Here is an example from the book:

  • Behavior: Finishing all the food on my plate
  • Belief: I am being wasteful if I don’t finish all the food on my plate.
  • Core Belief: Being wasteful is an unforgivable sin

This totally describes me! This week I’ve been practicing being ok with leaving food on my plate if I’m not hungry for it. Being OK with scraping food left on my plate into the garbage if its not enough to save for tomorrow. I’ve made progress! Find a belief you have towards food/eating/or body that you want to change and practice this week.

Another example of this:

  • Behavior: Weighing myself every day
  • Belief: I need to weight myself to know what I should or shouldn’t eat
  • Core Belief: I can’t trust my body to know what it needs

This is a great exercise to figure out where we can adjust our daily thoughts and behaviors that stem from our core beliefs. Remember, it may take a while to identify and change beliefs and behaviors, and that’s Ok! The more we sift through and work towards identifying these beliefs, the easier it will become.

What were your thoughts about chapter 5?

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My 3 S's to avoid the "All or Nothing" mindset trap

We’ve all been there, “well I already had a donut for breakfast, the rest of the day is shot. I’ll eat whatever crap I want for the rest of the day” or “I don’t have time to do my full workout today so I mine as well not even do anything” or “If I’m going to eat healthy I can’t have ANY sugar or ANY fatty foods for the entire month” or “I’ve already had one cookie, mine as well finish the whole bag!” Sound familiar??

Today I want to talk about a common state of mind that I see with clients, and have experienced myself. I’ve been reading about it in my book “the rules of Normal eating” as well. This is the trap of the “All or Nothing" mentality. The thought that there’s no middle ground with health. You’re either extremely healthy, chewing on organic kale, or extreme on the side of sweets and treats and couch sitting. 

In the book I’m reading ‘The rules of “normal” Eating’ (you can follow along with my book club here) she talks about how changing our beliefs towards food will change our behavior with food. When changing our beliefs we want to take a look at which of our beliefs are irrational vs. rational, and get rid of those irrational beliefs. For example, the belief that eating 1 cookie is just as bad as eating the whole bag so you mine as well eat the whole bag, is totally irrational! A more rational thought would be, ok I allowed myself 1 cookie, I’ll feel much better if I stop there rather than eating the whole bag. 

The problem with the “All or Nothing” mindset is that it becomes hard to maintain these extremes long term and we end up riding this up and down roller coaster. We’re either feeling pressure to be “perfectly healthy”, or feeling bad about ourselves for falling off the wagon. But the truth is we can be healthy in the middle! It's called MODERATION, and not viewing food as the enemy!

I think a big part of this for most people is over complicating it. We have so many voices around us saying “you have to count calories and macros” or “weighing your food is the way to go” and the chatter goes on and on. We think we have to do all this extra stuff if we want to be healthy and it becomes overwhelming and time consuming! What if I told you there’s a simpler way? I never teach calorie counting or macro counting to clients because I want to give you tools you will use for long term success. Who wants to be crunching numbers every time they eat for the rest of their lives? We’ll learn more about how to simplify below. 

Alright, now that we’re more aware of what the “All or Nothing” mindset is, how can we avoid it?? Here are my 3 S’s for avoiding this mindset that I’ve had success with in my life and want to share with you.

  1. Simplify. Forget the measuring and counting, and use your built in portion control kit, your hands! This is an easy way to control your portions that I’ve adopted from Precision Nutrition. They’ve made this awesome infographic that I’ve attached to share with you.
  2. Have a “Sanity Keeper”. What is this you might ask? Well its a food that you love, and can’t see yourself every living without, that you allow yourself. It’s just enough to take the edge off when you get that naughty food craving. You know that you are never going to give this up. At times when you need to cut back on sugar, or lower your carb intake, you may need to avoid certain foods, but this Sanity Keeper food you’ve chosen can always be in your life. The key is to allow it in moderation. This will help you avoid feeling deprived which usually results in a binge. For me its chocolate. I know I can have a little square of dark chocolate if I’m craving dessert and it will take care of that craving for me. I feel satisfied without feeling guilty, it’s a win win!
  3. Just Start. the final S is for Start. You may feel overwhelmed thinking that you have to be this extreme healthy person and go on some crazy diet, so you never start. This will never get you to where you want to be. Just start with baby steps. You don’t have to change your life in 1 week. Start with going to the gym once that week. Then add in 2 days a week. Then maybe you start drinking more water and less soda, and then slowly these healthy habits will get easier and become natural to you! 

Well there you have it, my quick and dirty guide on how to avoid the trap of the “All or Nothing” mindset. Remember the 3 S’s: Simplify, Sanity Keeper, and just Start. Leave your comments below on how these strategies have worked in your own life or what other brilliant ideas you’ve come up with on your own! I’d love to hear :)

And as always, your questions are welcome here anytime!

Feel free to share this post along to your friends and family who may be interested in the information. Thanks you guys rock

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Top 3 Weight Loss Tips: Lessons from Living Abroad Part 2

A year ago around this time we were getting ready to move to Europe, just a couple of weeks out from take off. Our plain tickets were purchased, the packing list had begun. I was in a routine where I was training pretty hard every day at the gym, a long with training for my first marathon at the end of May. Most days consisted of waking up extremely early, driving, training clients back to back, then I would go to my second job at Altra Footwear and fit in my own work out in between. I would then drive back up to Salt Lake from Orem to teach night classes and train night clients. It was nuts. 

 

    I was thinking I was in the best shape of my life and one of my biggest fears of moving to Europe, which now sounds ridiculous, was getting fat. I laugh about it now but it was an honest concern. I thought that all I would have to eat in Germany was bread and potatoes. Then I would move to France and only have baguettes and cheese. While this is partly true (I have eaten my fair share of baguettes and cheese) I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my bodies reaction to the move. Rather than adding on a nice fluffy layer of carb chub, I’ve actually lost around 12 pounds while being here and feel the leanest I ever have! How is this possible you ask? Well as I’ve thought about this same question, I’ve compiled some observations. I trace it back to the beginning of our adventure, getting out of my routine rut. 

What I thought every meal was like in Germany :)

What I thought every meal was like in Germany :)

 

    Lets go back to June. On our way to Germany we made a stop in Iceland for 4 days. Keep in mind I had been in the routine of training hard, and eating a good amount of food to refuel my body every day. I was in that cycle of going harder and harder, and eating more to provide the energy. Planning our travels I got a little anxiety knowing my workout routine would have to change a bit, and I knew I wouldn’t be expending as many calories, so I would need to lower my intake. I think this was the best thing for me. I needed to get out of that cycle and get my metabolism back in check. Reset my system a little bit. Our 4 days in iceland we rented a car and drove most of the day, making little stops along the way, hiking a bit here and there, and taking in amazing scenery. I noticed my hunger levels went down, so I obeyed. We survived on a little oatmeal in the morning with fruit, and cracker, meat, and cheese sandwiches on the road. Not the most glamorous or nutritious, and I don’t suggest that meal plan for an everyday thing. But for 4 days of car camping travel it got the job done, and smaller portions were key. 

 

    We made it to Germany and our expat life began. The first 2 weeks were spent getting up early and going to offices, where we would wait in line to take care of administration stuff. These processes are SLOW and can be frustrating. The first thing I learned about Germans is that they love their paperwork! We were at the mercy of limited office open hours and the people who could help us translate. My regular morning workout routine had to be shortened or put on hold until the evening, or the next day. This was weird for me! But again, with less calories going out, I wasn’t eating nearly as much as before.

 

So lesson #1 learned: Take a reset. Lower activity level to lower food intake. You will become more in tune with what your body actually needs. More in tune with your intake and output correlation.

 

    The administration work settled down, and we were able to have more freedom and I picked up my morning workout routine again. It felt great! My appetite increased a little bit, but I noticed that I had freed myself from that cycle of eating more to fuel training more. I was more in control now. I had re-calibrated my exercise and food need. So combining the exercise routine with a more controlled food consumption was good. Also, the next change made was instead of being stuck to a rigid eating routine of every 2-3 hours or my muscles will eat them selves, I learned to only eat when I was hungry. And I actually allowed myself to feel hunger! (I used to teach to not allow yourself to really feel hunger, but I humbly stand corrected). I had been following the typical fitness model/bodybuilding commandment of eating every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism going, and to keep your body from breaking down your muscles. I have now learned that this is totally unnecessary. Why should you eat if you’re not hungry? Allowing ourselves to feel hunger keeps us in tune with our bodies needs and we are more mindful with our eating.  

 

 

So lesson #2 learned: If you’re not hungry, you don’t have to eat! don’t try to force feed every 2-3 hours because you think your muscles will break down, or that your metabolism will shut off. This is not necessarily the case. Mindful eating is what we want to master. Your body can adapt to burning fat if you fuel it right and train. (that is a whole other blog post though :)

 

    After just a few days in Germany, my pre-assumptions were proven wrong. Germans eat other foods besides potatoes and brats haha who would’ve thought! They actually have amazing produce! And the same goes for the French, Its not all just baguettes, cheese, and croissants. Some of the best produce I’ve ever had, fresh, seasonal, and very affordable! I’ve loved it. My diet as been full of fresh veggies, organic fruits, lean meats sparingly (about 3 nights out of the week), and yes the occasional baguette and cheese. And I would be lying if I didn’t include all the fresh pastries and crepes that I’ve consumed (how can you pass up all those delicious french bakery’s?) This brings me to the third lesson learned. 

Fresh Markets!!

Fresh Markets!!

 

    Back in the states I could definitely notice the sweet treats and splurges that I had. I was always working extra hard on Monday to make up for the Weekend desserts. Each day I worked hard for an hour at the gym, and was active while training clients, but the rest of my day was sitting at a desk, or sitting in my car. I could never get past a certain weight and body fat percentage. I wasn’t necessarily looking to loose weight, I just thought that I had reached my comfortable peak. Here I’ve felt like the extra carbs and pastries have gone right through me, and taken some extra pounds with them. I contribute this to the power of walking! I used to think walking was just for old people who couldn’t do “real” exercise any more. Or the Sissy person’s form of exercise when they couldn’t handle the gym. I know, horrible thoughts. But my time in Europe has changed me. By adding at least 30 minutes of walking to your day, your fat burning potential will soar. I haven’t driven a car for an entire year (only on the occasional weekends being chauffeured by my husband on our adventures) but I myself have not driven. From our apartment I have to walk 1/2 mile (each way) to get to the train station to go anywhere. I walk 5 minutes to the grocery store, and carry 2 full grocery bags back. The gym I worked at in Düsseldorf was a mile run/walk from our apartment, which I went to most days. Our apartment was on the 6th floor with no elevator, and here in Paris we’re on the 13th floor. We have an elevator but each day I have to go up at least once with out it (a weird ritual I started that now I can’t break!). To go to church on Sunday we walk 10 minutes to the train, 5 minutes in between the train up and down stairs, 10 minutes from the station to church, and then repeat on the way back. I would say at least 3 days of the week I wander around Paris, walking for a couple of hours or more. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. I walk A LOT!

 

So Lesson #3 learned: Walk more, move more. Daily activity (outside of your structured workout) is a huge contributor to weight management! I give most of my weight loss credit to this simple change. I’m still working out hard 5-6 days a week for 40-60 min. I am still eating very clean and healthy 80% of the time. But the combination of the 3 has been the golden ticket for me. 

 

    My goal is to take this lifestyle change and bring it back to the states and inspire others to do the same. What if the stress and struggle of losing those last 10 pounds, or really reaching your best level of fitness could be solved with simply walking!? I’m sure most of us have a grocery store within walking distance. Have you ever thought to walk? Trust me, I used to drive my car across the street to the grocery store and never thought twice about it! I challenge you to find little parts in your day that you could add in some walking. You can start small. When given the choice of the elevator or the stairs, always take the stairs. If you’re faced with an escalator or stairs, take the stairs. Park at the back of the grocery store parking lot instead of battling for the front and center spot. Make it a family event. After dinner, rather then vegging out on the couch together watching TV, go for a walk instead. These have turned into some of my favorite times to talk with my husband, or just think on my own. Just try it for a week and see if you notice a difference. A difference with how you feel, with your energy and hunger levels, and a difference with your bodies fat burning capabilities. 

 

So to sum it up, the 3 big lessons about health and fitness that I’ve learned while being here in Europe have been ….

#1. When you’re stuck in a fitness rut, take a reset. Lower your activity level so you can lower your food intake. Get re-calibrated

#2. Practice mindful eating. If your not hungry, you don’t have to eat!

#3. The power of walking is greater than we think! Walk more, move more, every day!

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Listen to your Body: Living an Intuitive lifestyle

Am I really hungry? or am I just eating this bowl of chips because it's in front of me and I'm at this boring party.... ? I think we've all asked ourselves similar questions. Intuitive eating is pulling in the reigns on situations like this and staying in control and in tune with our bodies, honoring its needs (but don't mistake this with giving into its desires - very different). If you've ever been on a low carb - restrictive diet you've seen the effects of depriving your body. By day 4 you want to stuff your face with any carb you can get your hands on. This is your body telling you "umm hello, I can't just live on kale chips and lemon water". Intuitive eating can be a tricky balance. Everyone is different, so tuning into your own bodies needs can be the hard part. Recognizing when your really hungry vs. a craving that is separate from nutritional needs. Finding that happy place between deprivation, and over indulgence is the key.

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