Dear Georgie,  Help! I have had a bad 5 or 6 days. There have been croissants, gigantic proportions, and loads of Easter candy!! The frustrating thing is I did better on vacation than I did last week. Almost like I was making up for not being as bad while we were traveling. -toomanyjellybeans

 angel_and_devil_by_dodolog-d3dn3rvDear Jellybeans, It’s okay to have rough stretches, they teach us stuff. (And they happen to everyone!)

I think you’ve been tripped up a bit by thinking about your eating behaviors ethically, “being good” vs “being bad”. The trouble with that dichotomy is that if you feel like you’ve “been good” it has an undercurrent of wanting to be a little bad, or feeling like you’ve “earned” it or “deserve” it. (Which also enhances the desirability of the junk food, because you’re saying eating unhealthy things is something desirable that you have to earn.)

If you said “I have to work really hard this week and obey the rules and then I’ll earn the right to wear my purple shirt!” you’re implying that your purple shirt is somehow better than your other shirts, when really, you can wear whatever color you want any day.

I recommend thinking in terms of outcomes and habits instead of ethics. If you eat less calories you lose weight. If you eat more calories you gain weight. No matter what you did the day or week before, today’s intake brings you closer to your goals, or it doesn’t. Instead of telling yourself “I missed out on the junk food on vacation so gigantic portions today are okay,” how about trying, “The more I practice making healthy decisions and choosing moderate portions, the easier it gets to keep doing that.”  ?

If you just thought about your food choices it as practicing habits, and kept in mind that the more you practice them the easier and more automatic they get, it may work better for you. What do you think?

Ps – THIS DAY is good practice too. Right now you are practicing steering your mindset to regroup after a slip. Great job!

(Fabulous artwork by Dodolog)

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“After I ate something in the car, I rationalized eating racing to eat right when I got home even though I wasn’t hungry because I wanted to “count it” as one time that I ate (I’ve been working on eating 4x/day as a habit). I thought that if I waited an hour after I got home that I would have to say I ate more than 4 times which I didn’t want to do. I think getting away from seeing that habit as a strict rule might help.”

We sure want to keep the habit of aiming for 3-4 meals a day in it’s place, priority-wise. Even though we worked out four meals as a great pattern for you, the first priority is eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.  If you end up undereating at a meal and whoops, find yourself starving, eating a 5th time is better than suffering or losing sleep or bursting into tears. Likewise if you aren’t hungry or have one extra big meal (brunch!), no need to eat all 4 meals. Three is absolutely fine. If you are regularly going to 2 or 5 feedings a day most days, then we know we want to adjust something.

snack

Be flexible with it.

Nutrition habits are never strict rules – that’s diet thinking! Habits are behaviors we want to practice MOST of the time. Do I sometimes eat if I’m not hungry? Yep. Do I sometimes eat 5 times in a day, or happily chomp a free sample at Cobb’s bread? Heck, yes. It’s fine to have the exception here and there, and knowing that you don’t have to do the habits 100% is really easing on the mind!

Think of it like bedtime. To make sure you get enough sleep to keep your mental functioning, appetite, and athletic performance all top notch, you want to get in bed most nights with enough hours to make sure you’re well-rested by morning. But a night here and there staying up somewhat later doesn’t kill you, you can be aware of the consequences and accept a bleary-eyed tomorrow if there’s something worth staying up late for. A good UFC night or conversation with Roland are definitely worth accepting some extra grogginess to me, but I wouldn’t do it every day. If I did stay up past midnight more often than I hit the pillow at my usual 10 pm bedtime though, getting in bed on time wouldn’t be much of a habit anymore…. so I’d be forming a different habit, and not getting the advantages of having enough sleep.

Interpreting your nutrition and exercise habits as hard and fast rules is like telling yourself to go to bed “because it’s bedtime”; never letting yourself choose for yourself would stink! It works a little better to think about what will happen and choose depending on the outcomes. Remind yourself that each nutrition habit has benefits, and if you want those, you’ll need to do it consistently and most of the time.  In the case of eating 4 meals per day, it helps make your meals maximally satisfying and keep your fat metabolism up to speed, but a day here or there that’s different won’t hurt at all. Just like a high calorie day here and there is fine if you don’t mind slowing down your weight loss, you can choose to maintain or even gain sometimes while pursuing a fat loss goal.

Just keep the exceptions actual exceptions.

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Sadness And Overeating

The following is from an email exchange with a client today on the topic of sadness and overeating. Thought this might be worth sharing, if it helps even one person.

“Me and sadness, we go way back. I’ve come to learn a few things about it – and hundreds if not thousands of cookies gave their lives in the process.

It’s not an emotion that has a clear “appropriate action” much of the time. I mean if we feel lonely – we can do something to directly lessen it, calling a friend, making plans to go out and meet someone, etc. If we feel bored we can fix that too, just put on a movie or break out a project. Patched! Just like if we have a cut, we know, put a bandage on it, use compression, elevation.

Sadness or depression aren’t so clear – there is no “cheer up kit” to crack open and apply to the affected area. And I think that’s why it’s one of the most pervasive problem emotions for applying food. Because “what the heck else can I do to feel better…. this food seems like a long shot but I don’t have a plan B so…”

What I’ve learned:

You can’t force out sadness instantly, just as you can’t eradicate a flu on demand. It takes some time.

What can really help ease the experience of sadness is gentleness with yourself. I don’t force myself to do anything, especially if I’m so down that I don’t feel like doing anything. I give myself the option of doing or not doing things according to what feels right and do-able. Take tiny steps if needed.

Accept that you feel sad, and that’s okay. We all feel sad sometimes. It won’t hurt you and it will lighten and move on in time (like the flu).

You don’t have to DO anything. As I said already, you can’t cure it right away, so no need to strain or push yourself to make yourself feel better. If something seems inviting, sure, be open to doing it if you’ve got the energy. What I recommend to best help yourself is commit to not doing anything that will make you reliably feel worse. Feeling sorry for ourselves, wallowing or self-abusing often fall in this category.

And eating excessively, as I learned for me, fell solidly into that last category too. So does not eating enough, or subsisting off of junk food.

So even if I did nothing at all – I learned to turn away from food for sadness because it never helped. Even if that meant doing nothing, staying the same was better than feeling worse.

I am not an expert on emotions and sure can’t offer therapy, this is just my experience, gained the hard way.

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Devils Food Cupcakes for Two

Happy birthday to me! Yesterday was my big day, and while I didn’t want a big fancy meal out, I did think a little chocolate cake action would be very much enjoyed. I was right.

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Rather than make a big cake which would leave lots of leftovers, I decided to downsize my favorite recipe into just enough for 2. Enough for a sweet date with home with my sweetie. Bonus, I mixed it up using just one cereal-size bowl and a spoon, and then used the same bowl to make the topping, so clean up was easier than baking a whole cake too.

Because my ideal world would look like this: there are sugar free devils food chocolate cupcakes to eat, very little dishes to do, I’d have a job I simply adore, and I’d get to be married to Roland Fisher.

I’d never have thought I could actually have them all in real life!

Thank you to everyone, near and far, who helped my day be extra special in your own little ways, every note and email touches my heart.

Cakes

1/4 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1 tablespoon Splenda granulated for baking
1 tablespoon erythritol
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (regular or dutch)
1/2 tablespoon black onyx cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/16 teaspoon (a pinch) salt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon egg white (easy if you have ones in a carton)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
 

Chocolate Ganache Topping:

1/2 square unsweetened bakers chocolate (=1/2 ounce or 15 grams)
2 tablespoons almond milk
1 tablespoon erythritol
1 tablespoon splenda granulated for baking
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
 

1. Preheat oven to 350. I used 2 silicone muffin liners, but if you don’t have those, grease 2 wells of a muffin tin.

2. In a bowl, mix together the dry cake ingredients and stir to break up any lumps. (almond flour, coconut flour, Splenda, erythritol, cocoa, black onyx cocoa, baking soda and salt.) Add the water, egg white and vanilla, and stir to blend. Pour into 2 muffin liners. Put muffin liners on baking dish or sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

3. While cupcakes bake, use the same bowl (which I licked clean but more civilized folks could rinse. Pansies.) to make the topping. Put the almond milk and chocolate in it, and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir again, and it should be melted. If not, give it another 15 seconds or so until it is melted and smooth.

4. Stir in the erythritol, Splenda and vanilla. (The mixture will be thin, like chocolate syrup) and place back in microwave. Microwave an additional 30 seconds, and it should be bubbling when you take it out. Stir it well, and allow the ganache to cool. It will thicken to pudding/frosting consistency.

5. When cupcakes are cool, slather on the ganache and enjoy!

Serves 2

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How Exciting! Outside Magazine Loves My Book!

Check out this video put together by the fellas at Outside Magazine. I love it! You can see how really simple and easy these recipes are. The Racing Weight Cookbook isn’t just for athletes – it’s for anyone who wants tasty, healthy meals that aren’t fussy or complicated.

Check out the full feature here.

Picture 7

 

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