I tried every diet. I tried all the plans and weird combinations. I watched my mother try them growing up. I spent a lot of time with my little friend at Weight Watchers in the 80’s with our overweight single mothers in a meeting. I ate McDonald’s several days a week and the other days were things like Wendy’s and KFC. I grew up eating the sugar drink mix with NO WATER! I loved colored icing in the tube at my son’s soccer game, yup the whole tube at once! I spent my 20’s eating like a 5 year old along with my 5 year old. Slowly I found myself in the same situation I witnessed my mother in as I grew up. As I explored the diets I found them to all claim the same thing with little success! Eventually I learned that my only hope was to change my lifestyle. In my exploration I fell in love with the Hobbit Diet and later the entire spirit of the Hobbit.
The hilarious thing was that I was just surfing around on my Facebook page and one of my nerdy friends posted the image.
I loved it! My first Hobbit moment! I figured out how many calories I should be eating to lose weight with SparkPeople.com (1200 Calories) and divided that by 7 which ended up leaving me with 175 calories per meal. There were times I had to combine Elevensies or Luncheon but I found that this worked for me. As I began to embody my inner Hobbit I was called to also be sure that everything I ate was something a Hobbit might eat. So that meant no to prepared foods and more of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and my personal baked goods. Maybe the occasional chunk of cheese. I actually began to store these things in my pocket. This habit became easy to embody. Soon my body adjusted and my hunger pains were aligned with when it was time to eat and any more than 200 calories in a meal felt like stuffing myself.
I still found myself struggling with normal life like my ugly past, my current family situation, a lifetime of poverty, and the plenty of things one can find to be depressed about. I often found myself binge eating and suffering with emotional eating. When I eat because I am upset and then get depressed because I ate too much. In my meditations and downloads on my yoga mat I explore compassion and kindness. Something that is learned but I was never taught. So I took the time to teach my little child that there were gifts in acting kind and in that I was experiencing compassion. I learned compassion heals not only my heart but the hearts of those I have compassion for. The Hobbit heart was born and my name emerged as “Tobi Longbottom“.
As I struggled with my anger at the ugly in our world I found peace in the pure of heart Hobbit lifestyle. I began to Give Love to Everyone and fully take on a Hobbit Heart, attitude, and lifestyle. Nerdy? Maybe! But I have lost over 75lbs with the Hobbit Diet and its various forms. My Elf friend and snake handler is credited for these awesome photos and introducing me to the power of nuts! I continue to shed pounds and always come back to this diet. Another great benefit is how embodying the energy of the hosting Hobbit I had several chef adventures this summer and really enjoyed them. I am grateful for the experience, the story, and the love for nerdy things! Tobi Longbottom
I have made a lot of changes to my eating, activity, and focus in my life in the past 10 years. One of my major values is good health and in that I began to do New Years fastings. A fast with healthy intentions to reset my pallet and get in touch with attachment to food. A journey that is bound to test food allergies as well. I pay a lot of attention to the style of fasting that I do and what I might like to gain at the end of it.
In 2015 I moved to Colorado and now have access to a wilderness that can inspire my physical exercise. Since gyms are not my favorite place to exercise I am more interested in exercising outdoors. This past year I noticed an inconsistent ability to catch my breath that I wanted to be sure was not food related. I had tested myself for “Gluten Induced Ashtma” a couple years ago with mixed results. I think a couple years ago I wasn’t as in shape as I am today, now living in Colorado. So in order to be sure before I took other measures to handle my breathe I wanted to test this possible gluten sensitivity.
I also wanted to reset my pallet after an exciting and fun summer traveling and visiting different places. When traveling its not always easy to keep a good diet although I have figured out some great strategies that save money and support good health while on the road. But after a year of breaking this rule and that rule, you can easily find yourself a little away from your once healthy diet.
My other goal with my fast is to reset my eating and chewing habits. Paying attention to how long I chew my food, what I am doing while I am eating my food, and portion measuring. These are basics to losing weight and paying attention to how we eat is a big part of losing weight.
My fast is designed just for me but follows an Ayurveda guidelines. I choose to only eat fruits and vegetables for 3 days. Then I added grains and soon I will add dairy. Each time I eat I try to create a comforting space or quality time with someone I love. This way my meal has even more meaning. I work at taking my time, putting down my fork between each bite, and chewing my food all the way. On the first day I tried to keep my foods super simple like nuts, carrots, apples, bananas, kale and other vegetables but finding my way to at least 1100 calories. A low number yes but a good healthy number for my height & weight. I also am sure to drink a variety of herbal teas in order to aid in digesting and detoxing. Then I slowly add other foods, starting with grains. Later adding things like dairy and sweetener like honey. I try not to add sugar at all and I haven’t eaten meat in almost 10 years.
This time I learned a lot about my apparent gluten allergy. Seems I was right about my suspicions of gluten and my breathing struggles when I was exercising. I have been able to breathe so much easier since I took it out of my diet. I feel like my vegetarian diet is well balanced and diverse. After my 3 days I feel like I am back on track. My head feels more clear and I feel stronger in my body.
Today I walked up to the mail box, which used to seem like such a feat, but I was able to practically run up to it and I took a fast walk up the hill past it. I don’t usually find it easy to breathe if I walk fast up a hill but now with no gluten in my diet I found clearer breathing. Although I still find myself craving cakes and sweet things I know that eating them only makes me feel sick. That knowledge can take you far. I never noticed how sick those things made me feel though, until I did a fast.
I also discovered just how much I was psychologically attached to bread, much like my sugar addiction. I noticed I was resistant to the experiment because I didn’t want to just let bread go. I love to bake and I love whole wheat. I love sweet breads and bread with my pasta. I realize that like sugar I was attached. When I quit sugar I was so depressed in a worry that I might never have a sweet treat again, although later I realized that I would have it sometimes. I had to think my way through my attachment to bread as well. Telling myself “Its not like you will NEVER have wheat bread again, you just need to find an awareness of what it does to you.” This way I don’t eat it before I go on a hike! I know how my body struggles with it now, making it less attractive.
I worked with my need for comfort and am working towards finding ways to comfort myself other than with food. So when I want breads and sweet things I usually notice I am actually desiring comfort. So in that I used the hot teas as comfort. I also asked for support around me in making sure I get the comfort I need. I pay attention to how yoga comforts me. Reading and listening to music is also comforting to me. The fast has helped me become aware of my need for more comforting.
As I come out of my fast I am grateful for the experience and have learned a lot. Finding ways to slow down my eating, chew my food completely, and eat healthy portions has been reset by bringing practice into each meal. I feel cleaner, healthier and ready to proceed. One thing I am considering is maybe doing this at the next change of season. Short fasts more often is my goal.
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If you celebrate any kind of holiday this time of year at some point we want to create that “baked in the oven” wholesome meal. Many of us either have some fond memories of someone cooking for a holiday meal all day or maybe we are trying to create that for our gathering now. Many people cook a large ham or turkey in the oven and if that doesn’t happen somehow the meal is a disappointment. When I did my soul searching I found that there were several things that could be labeled as my core values.
On of them is that I deeply care about the earth we live on, in fact not recycling a bottle can trigger an anxious or maddening reaction within me. For instance, I am in a place like “Starbucks” and I purchase a bottled “Green Smoothie” and then when I am finished realize they have no recycling bin. My gut insides want to shout out-loud “What the FUCK Starbucks? How can you dare ignore this obvious thing?” Not only am I so triggered by Starbucks lack of respect for the earth that supports it but I am outraged at the obvious corruption of the company. It leads me to believe they are as corrupted as our government, hypocrisy on top of irresponsible. Several years back when the UN declared that meat & dairy production was the number one pollutant of the world, I began to make big changes. How could I ignore this? Although it seemed everyone else was jumping through hoop after hoop to recycle another bottle, I stopped eating meat and still recycle bottles. I cannot ignore the facts. My soul knows that our earth is vital to our own existence. My values about the earth lead me to the understanding that moving to a vegetarian diet would also keep me from the same hypocrisy I felt about Starbucks.
But Wait! I have come from some dark places and I value things like community & family. I know just how important they are and what is a holiday without turkey or ham? How could I possibly create a wholesome meal without these main dishes. I had taught myself both how to cook a whole turkey and ham with the gentle guidance from some of the kindest wonderful people in my life. My son valued the wholesome meals that I cooked for various holidays. Part of it was the tradition of it but the other part was the warm homey feeling of the energy of the kitchen. The feeling we have of contentment when someone has made food from scratch in our kitchen. This atmosphere is part of of why so many of us find ourselves emotionally connected to meat.
I lived a lifestyle of fast food and morbid obesity. As I changed I became a flexitarian for several years showing my respect for the environment and slowly weaning myself off meat. Then when I made the final leap to vegetarian I felt so good about the food I ate, most of it from scratch in my busy kitchen. I found that eating in a way that matched my values helped me feel more connected to my food. This lifestyle change lead me to an awareness for our connections to what we put in our body. If it is aligned with our highest values we find it more filling and satisfying. When it looks like McDonald’s we are easily disconnected and only reacting to the emotional reward from eating. When it came time for the holidays I wanted to be sure I also kept those wholesome values that I had raised my son with, after a lifetime of getting it intermittently. I was happy to find so many variations of the stuffed pumpkin recipe and have tried it in a variety of ways over the years. At this point in my journey I have changed the recipe and have prepared it for small and large groups. I have prepared it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Although my son is now grown I am still happy to share this recipe with friends and community.
Choosing the pumpkin is the challenging piece. I recommend finding a farm that has “edible pumpkins”. Although you can use the Jack O Lantern variety it will be more watery than edible varieties. There are usually several varieties and you want to be sure its big enough to stuff and feed your family. Bring your kids to help choose the pumpkin, it helps them get excited their own connection to food. When served you will serve a bit of stuffing with vegetables, including some squash. Once you pick your pumpkin be aware that it can be kept in a cool dry place for approximately 6 months and it will keep in a healthy way. Once your ready cut a whole in the top like a Jack O Lantern and clean it out in a similar way. Put the seeds aside and invite a young person to clean, season and bake them. Often a fun activity for young people, especially when left to be creative in their seasoning.
I baked my own bread, set it out to get stale and toasted it. You can just purchase bread crumbs if that is easier for you. Season it and mix it with whatever root vegetables are available in your area at the time. This recipe does not have onions and garlic but they can be added for those who tolerate it. Creativity is encouraged and the use of fruit like apples or pears can add a nice touch.
That was my response when I learned I wasn’t eating enough vegetables. Then of course I learned to smother them, overcook them and add tons of calories to them. Later, I had to change my ways and my pallet. How could I ever enjoy vegetables? I needed and wanted to be healthier but I just couldn’t see how vegetables could be part of that. I had to learn to love vegetables, it seemed like an unpleasant impossible task.
Many of us grew up hating vegetables for a variety of reasons but one of the most common reasons is the way they are prepared. Also I notice many people cannot stand vegetables unless they are smothered in sauce, dressing, or cheese. Then of course there are some of us that only eat tomatoes and potatoes! Many of us rarely eat raw and many of us are not buying bags of vegetables in the frozen food isles. Frozen dinners and prepared foods way over rank bags of vegetables in sales. Vegetables have left the American diets. Most of us are removed from how they are grown, just how important they are or how to prepare them.
I personally struggled with vegetables. I had only been introduced to the basic ones and of course they were usually smothered in something that wasn’t too healthy for me. Stuff like broccoli or spinach with tons of cheese and of course there is corn. First of all I had to learn what vegetables tasted like, without anything. Some of them have more taste than others but when you are reprogramming your pallet it is ideal to taste them raw and/or cooked with nothing on them. I did a daily exercise for a while that I would try a naked vegetable each day. I chewed it up slowly and paid attention to the taste. I found that I do love spinach and broccoli but was content without all the tons of calories of cheese and sauces. I learned I liked both steamed or raw. I also learned I enjoyed many types of greens and found many healthy ways to prepare them. Then there was corn which I had no idea just how messed up corn had gotten. I found out that most of it is pure sugar and all of it is mostly GMO. I have never been comfortable with chemically grown or lab prepared food, I just don’t trust scientists to cover all their bases. I learned a lot of about corn from a great documentary called King Corn. Today, corn is rarely in my diet.
The other thing about vegetables is that canned vegetables are not only kind of gross but they are also the most unhealthy. If you base your taste buds on canned vegetables you are likely to find yourself drowning them in sauces or something else to add tons of calories. Astonishingly I was disgusted at the level of vitamins you lose in the process of canning. It just seems to me that they are mushy and full of preservatives. Canned vegetables are a terrible source for vegetables. First of all I feel like if I am going to eat more vegetables they better be so delicious I can barely resist and they better pack a major nutritional punch. I found the best way to get high quality vegetables is to buy fresh organic vegetables or frozen. Either way you get high quality, crisp vegetables that can be prepared a variety of healthy ways.
Of course most of us have no issues managing frozen vegetables and often its the easiest alternative to fresh. I found the bigger challenge to be with fresh vegetables. My first hurdle was affording them. I found a local CSA, community supported agriculture, and at the time I had very little money so I simply offered to work for my share. After a few years and a slightly improved financial situation I was able to afford to pay for it and it was still cheaper than the grocery store. The best part about a CSA is that its a community and they are more than willing to share how to prepare vegetables among other things. There are tons of benefits of being a member of a CSA and anyone should seriously consider it. I was challenged each week to not only use the vegetables but often learn to prepare vegetables I had never seen before. It was a culinary adventure that ended up being priceless.
The other way to be sure you have a great variety of fresh vegetables is to grow your own. I had a small urban garden for many years and I was very happy with its production. I am a 100% organic gardener. I am a passionate gardener and compost, use companion planting, and froze or gave away my excess. I often would batch cook after a large harvest which would usually lead to freezing food for later. This of course is talked about in my article Time vs. Healthy. I could also easily throw a handful of tomatoes in the food processor to just chop them up a little and then freeze them. I loved the cycles of growing my own food. When you know what to do with tons of vegetables its easy to see how much money you can save by having a simple urban garden. Also a little known fact is that once you pick a vegetable from its plant it begins to slowly lose its nutrient value. Imagine the vitamin impact you get when you eat a vegetable that was just picked off the plant an hour prior. Of course there are other benefits of having your own garden and cooking out of it. I also used gardening as another high quality time builder with my son and today at age 22 he thanks me for all I taught him about growing food. He plans to now teach his children. I also used it as meditation, destresser, exercise, and a way to make friends. The benefits from keeping a garden are often too many to list or count. I am grateful for all my years with a garden.
I learned so much about preparing vegetables. I learned that boiling vegetables takes the nutrients into the water which is why vegetable broth has some nutrient value. I learned that steaming them is a way to cook them but also leave the nutrients mostly in tact. Although a quick fry of spinach in the frying pan with a bit of oil, garlic, or other spices you can easily add it to hot pizza or pasta adding nutrients to a quick meal. I also discovered that hummus and vegetables are super healthy and filling. When I make pasta I cut the amount of pasta in half and instead replace it with things like Broccoli and cauliflower, then I had the red sauce. This ends up being mostly vegetables with a little pasta mixed in. Flipping meals from heavy starches and proteins to heavy vegetables and lean proteins was a shift that seemed so simple but ended up being very effective.
I learned so much in my exploration with food and most importantly today I notice if I don’t eat vegetables, my body craves them. The first time this happened I was very suprised. I had never craved a vegetable before, only sugary treats. I maybe had craved a potato before but really that is all about sugar again. I was actually craving broccoli. I was suprised when I found myself just craving plain old, nothing on it uncooked broccoli. This was one of those moments during my transitions that I realized that all the work I was doing to get healthier was working. This was more promising than losing 10 lbs. From a long term perspective if I could enjoy and even crave health food I would be on my way to some big changes. This pushed me further and today I find myself craving lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and vegetarian proteins. Now I notice if I haven’t eaten enough of something or too much sugars. I can tell by my cravings, energy levels and mood. I am grateful to recieve healthy signals from my body about what to eat, instead of the old ones that lead me to unhealthy places.
The biggest excuse for not eating well is TIME! I hear it over and over that people are lacking the time they need to cook, exercise and make good choices. I understand!
One of my biggest challenges was incorporating healthy eating into a very busy schedule. When I first began I had a child, volunteered in my community, ran my own business, and enjoyed occasionally doing something for myself! My schedule was packed solid but I knew I really needed to find a way, otherwise my schedule wouldn’t matter anymore. I had to make a variety of adjustments to my perspective and life in order to manage a healthier diet. I had to change my busy unhealthy life to a something manageable and healthy. What good are you to your commitments if your are NOT healthy? I know the challenges of being a parent, a wife, running a business, and full time employment….don’t forget being involved in your community or having fun!!
The very first thing I did was turn off cable TV. It immediately freed up more of my time and helped my child become more interested in household activities. With no TV he spent more time outside and I suddenly had more time to cook, relax, and follow my personal interests. I do have netflix but I still limit myself to only my favorite shows and now after 10 years I almost never sit to watch anything. TV is a waste of time. Although I am seen occasionally playing games I still limit my time. I like all of my time to be effective. My value system leads me to be grateful for every moment and therefore use it very wisely. I live a very active life these days but still make time for exercise, yoga, and cooking.
One thing I learned to do was batch cook. So on that Sunday afternoon that I want to lounge around in my pajamas and finally have a few hours of rest, I would prepare large batches of food. I would be creative because it made cooking fun. I would bring the family together to cook something and often it could easily be seen as quality family time. There is always something kids can do and teaching them to use a knife is often exciting for them. Learning to cook is a priceless skill. Then I would also use my tools. I would prepare it in the morning after my breakfast and put it into the crockpot. I have also done it the night before and simply plugged it in during my morning rush. I freeze leftovers. I leave just enough for a quick warm up but I know we will get tired of it after a couple of meals so I only leave out a little. The rest gets tucked away into the freezer, labeled and dated. Later you can pull them out when your in a hurry.
I also learned that grocery stores are typically just as fast as your local fast food joint. They are also readily available in just about anywhere and often carry very healthy food. I can easily put together an easy healthy meal in a grocery store. My favorites are hummus, vegis, fruits, cheese, yogurt, granola bars, healthy smoothies, and sometimes you can find some other alternatives easily accessible. I have seen a salad bar in grocery stores, which is obviously a fantastic choice. So when you are in a hurry and need convenient food try a grocery store. You will likely find yourself delightfully surprised at variety and healthy choices. Most grocery stores sell chilled water beverages and sometimes they even have other options available.
I have also learned about the most convenient healthy treat available, fruit. After eliminating sugar from my diet I missed having little sweet treats. I began to notice that I really enjoyed all sorts of fruit including apples, oranges, pineapple and berries. I enjoyed them most when they were in season and of course they are super healthy. I found that fruit tamed my sugar cravings enough, especially if I just at the fruit fresh. By the time I was done eating the apple or orange, assuming I had been off sugar for over 3 weeks, I had forgotten all about my sugar craving. The best part is that fruit is simply easy and convenient. I realize that pineapple can require some preparation but once you do it you can easily just store it in the fridge in a container and eat at it as your are ready. You can also purchase most fruit already prepared. But I like to keep oranges, apples, and bananas on hand. I can simply grab them and go. Fruit can hold off hunger pains for another half hour or more until you can sit down for a meal. Fruit is nature’s convenient food!
I also began to shift my activities and hobbies to something more active. I picked up gardening and the entire family joined in. I also made efforts to take the steps or walk from the back of the parking lot. I also began to make sure my child’s activities were exercise in some way such as camping, sports and skateboarding. I joined my son’s activities as I could. I picked up a fun family activity called Geocaching. I also began to do yoga from home, it was too much to get to a class. I noticed how I felt after exercise and began to make it mandatory part of my life, so I made time for my physical activity. It became priceless and would put me in a better place to get everything done in my very busy life.
The other adjustment I needed to make was tendency towards excessive busyness. As a child I wasn’t very busy but all the adults in my life were. When I first started to move my lifestyle to something more healthy I found that I had over committed myself. I was so busy I was having panic attacks because I often felt like I couldn’t keep up. I was constantly running from one thing to another. I had a school aged child and it was easy to over commit. I liked being busy it helped me forget all my problems. I had no time to think about my unhappy marriage or anything else that I was miserable about. When my therapist suggested that I might be over committing because of my lack of contentment with my life I had to really think about it. I began to adjust my commitments and made sure to keep them at a minimum. Today I love an active lifestyle but if I don’t have time to do my yoga and exercise than I know there is something wrong with my level of commitments. Its a slow adjustment but there are times that I find myself over committed and I must ask what I am avoiding.
Living a healthy lifestyle is not just about eating, although that’s a big part of it. I found that over time the harder I worked at eating well and exercising, I would be more compelled to do other healthy activities. The healthier I was the more I wanted. I love how I feel in my now healthy lifestyle and I know that every struggle I ever made in the past 10 years has been completely worth it. Today I am grateful when I have time for exercise, yoga and healthy meals. I am grateful for down time although at times I am not sure what to do with it. Change is the only constant!
When someone suggested to me a few years ago that sugar could possibly be addictive, I felt the strong desire to explore the theory. There wasn’t as much public information about it at that time but when I read a medical journal discussing the effects of sugar on the brain I was convinced this was my problem. So the first step is admitting there is a problem. Figuring out how to manage in a world full of sugar and other addictive substances was a completely other ball game.
I began to eliminate sugar from my diet. “High Fructose Corn Syrup” was the first to go and I certainly noticed the withdraw symptoms, by no means was it easy. I had a headache, was fatigued, and lacked focus for at least 4-5 days. As time went on I was able to mostly eliminate it by baking my own treats or buying organic products with cane sugar. Once I was off of it I would occasionally revisit it and was immediately disgusted by the physical reaction to the substance. Not only did I feel like crap but I craved more of it. I found myself craving sugary products and becoming compulsive about it at times. I would compulsively eat cake, pies, cookies, ice cream – I would even sneak it so no one knew that I was cheating on my diet or eating THAT much. I would shamefully give in to the cravings, beat myself up about it later and find myself looking for more comfort with food. An ugly cycle I was happy to put a big stop sign in. Now HFCS is completely off the menu and if I do ingest it I am very aware of its addictive properties.
I try to do most of my own baking and cooking, this greatly reduces sugar and salt intakes. You can eliminate sugar in yogurt by simply buying plain yogurt instead of vanilla, instead add honey to the yogurt. You can bake your own bread if you cannot afford to pay for organic varieties. You can make your own salad dressings, ketchup and drinks. I began to learn to make more and more things from scratch. I also got better at freezing whatever I made and finding time to squeeze it into a very full life. It became a priority after a while and I made it non negotiable, as if sugar was a poisonous substance. Sugar acted like poison each time ingested it and certainly hurts the body in so many ways. As scientists learn more and more about the effects of sugar on the body it becomes easier to identify sugar as poison.
I found that honey, agave nectar and cane sugar had less addictive responses. Honey and agave nectar seem to have very little if any addictive responses. Cane sugar has some but its much easier managed than HFCS, for instance. I don’t find cane sugar compulsively irresistible but I know HFCS drives me to compulsive over eating and binging. This discovery took time and forgiveness with myself. I had to eliminate the substances and then reintroduce them slowly. Then I had to pay attention to my responses. I had to forgive myself when I gave into these substances and then reprogram my brain to notice how shitty they made me feel. Each time I would eat them I would pay attention, then note just how sick and ill I felt. I didn’t always feel sick from eating sugar. I didn’t realize just how shitty it made me feel until I eliminated it and fell off the wagon. When I did fall off I would think to myself and usually share with at least one other person just how shitty I felt. I would note what I ate, how much and how I felt a little while later. At first I found food journals to be very helpful with this. Not just writing what you ate but also how you feel, emotional state and stress levels. Food journals are fantastic tools to help you to a better understanding of your habits.
I also noticed that if I am active my addictive responses are less because I greatly reduce my daily stress. If you greatly reduce your stress levels your addictive responses will be less intense. So slowly I trained my brain to think of exercise, doing yoga or taking a walk when my stress levels got too high. There were sometimes that I would reach for food compulsively, more often than I care to admit. I would have to forgive myself and find the silver lining. The silver lining of falling off my wagon? Simple I get a chance to reprogram my brain. I would Notice what I ate, how much, and how it made me feel. Then I would tell my brain that sugar does not feel good and its just fooling me with its addictive traits. It wants to take over my brain, it is poisoning me. The times I have stopped myself from eating a cupcake on a stressful day at work in the break room I often walk away from the cupcake feeling grateful for the work I have done. This gratitude reinforces this marvelous behavior. The trick is to convince yourself that sugar and fast food make you feel sick, soon enough you will get the message.
Addiction is hard and some of us struggle with it more than others. Personally I have been a sugar addict my entire life, I have only recently had it under control. I have also found myself addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, and sex. Regardless of my drug of choice it was always about the same thing, numbing my emotions. Addictions can take over your entire life and create havoc with your health, relationships and work. I have found that addiction is better dealt with emotionally. Meaning, find a way to comfort yourself so that food is low on the list. Prioritize your list of comfort measures, try the healthiest ones first. This conscious choice to pick the healthiest comfort measure before you reach for food is the hardest part – it requires deep passionate intense self love.
Self-love is something I have struggled with a lot in my life. I often struggle with patting myself on the back or compliments because I don’t want to be egotistical. I also don’t want to brag or be in people’s faces. I have greatly improved my self-love but there are days I struggle more than others. Self-love is so important for your holistic health and often I like to start here. This post is NOT about self-love but I include it in this post for one very important reason. Self-love is the KEY to recovery from addictions. No matter how you develop it I strongly recommend that this is your highest priority. I want you to fall in love with yourself, I assure you no arrogance needs to be expressed. Self-love requires reaching inside and harvesting all your talents and skills. Once your self love grows you will find that you will naturally take better care of yourself and that addictions will seem counterproductive.
I have and still do work to keep my addictions from taking over. I harvest my self-love daily in order to create a wall between me and my addictions. I do not completely refrain from sugar, alcohol, or sex but for sure I am aware of my addictive personality and pay attention to my emotions when I find myself reaching for them too much. Its OK to have one slice a cake a week, its an issue when its the whole cake or every day. Its Ok to have one beer, its a problem when your drunk all the time. A healthy balance is what I am looking for because never treating myself to these little pleasures is a form of self abuse. Developing a balanced lifestyle is the key to permanent weight loss. Its a constant effort to adjust my lifestyle to be more holistically balanced but the struggle is what keeps the balance. If you stop struggling to balance you will slip one way or the other. Only YOU can decide what balanced looks like for you and the best way to discover what balanced looks and feels like to you is to simply harvest self-love.
In my exploration of the newest information online regarding sugar and its effect on the body I found this great video. It seems to be part of a series that I plan to check out. Watch this video to better understand how sugar addiction works.
The Skinny on Obesity (Ep. 4)
Food and sugar addictions are not a passing theory, they are reality. It was so refreshing to see this video regarding the hard evidence of food and sugar addiction. I found this video to fully explain the effect sugar has on the brain. The information in this video is accurate, informative and complete. I was impressed with the simple explanation of such a complicated process inside the brain. I have one criticism… the assumption that the results of obesity, sugar and food addiction cannot be reversed. At the end they discuss that there is quite possibly no answer the to the problem. I strongly disagree! I am physical evidence and there are plenty of others just like me. I cannot be convinced that sugar and food addiction are incurable, especially since I have the cure right here! If you struggle with addiction of any kind give me a call and let me help you in your journey!
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I opened this site a couple years ago but it hasn’t gone very well. Part of the reason was because I was simply busy working hard to move my life across the country. I had been dreaming of moving to the Boulder, CO area for several years. The other and main reason for the neglect of this site was simple, belief. I didn’t believe that it was time for a variety of reasons, I am very good at coming up with reasons as to why I CANNOT be a holistic life coach. But in the turning of the New Year and now having completed my journey from PA to Colorado I am choosing to believe in my ability to make this work. I believe in my ability to not only help others with the pursuit of holistic health but also to write a daily article about Holistic Health. Certainly I am still transforming, change is the only constant. I have transformed from a fast food eating, lazy, depressed person to a healthy from scratch vegetarian cook, fairly fit hiker and yogini with a lifestyle of gratitude, happiness and hope.
I am constantly paying attention to my own transformations, each time I learn something new about myself. I like to pay attention to what motivates me, what keeps me focused, what inspires me, and what rewards me. I have explored all these in the past 10 years of my pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, part of that healthy lifestyle is for me to share it with the world. I know that true happiness comes when we are helping others and that is my hope. So in the spirit of true happiness I awaken this blog and continue my pursuit as a Holistic Life Coach.
I know what inspires me to do this blog but what transformed the self doubt about my abilities to a belief that I can actually do this? Simple, its my perspective. When I recently found my self on the darker side of life I realized how far I have lead myself. I have been depressed, manic, addicted, and found myself at the bottom of many barrells. Today I can look back and see all I have overcome, holistically and totally. Now I just needed to believe that it was possible that I could also share my wisdom with the world in a way that benefits everyone no matter where they come from. I had to believe that I was capable of helping others. Since I have spent my life as a caregiver in one capacity or another most people would imagine that I would feel empowered. But to help a sick or elderly person to bed is way different than helping YOU change your life. I also questioned my ability to ever move my life from eastern US to a more progressive area like Boulder, CO. Well here I sit just outside Boulder with new opportunities in my lap and a passion to make it all happen.
So when you find yourself questioning your ability to make the changes you need you make, remember some important keys. Always remember that the whole job can look very large but each step is actually very small. I often relate this to climbing a hill, mountain, or rock. Sometimes when I first began to exercise I would find myself standing at the bottom of the hill wondering if I could ever get my out of shape body to the top. I struggled with muscle tiredness and weight induced asthma that makes the climbing very uncomfortable. Some days I had to stop in the middle of the hill and many days I simply made it to the top, one step at a time. I focus on each step, rather than the entire hill. I see the hill and then I simply refocus to the tiny steps. Each step you get closer and closer, don’t give up, no matter what. You can climb, you can overcome, you can do this. Its one simple step at a time.
In each step you get a little closer to the top! You know this is true so why do so many of us struggle with reaching our goals. I think there are many reasons, one of them is belief. Believing is certainly half the battle! When you find yourself reaching for a mountain top you can easily get overwhelmed by the large task at hand. Many of us lack personal belief in our ability to acomplish goals and most of us have a list of excuses. I know I had excuses about my childhood screwing me up so badly that I was doomed for failure. I also believed that being fat and lazy made me happy. I used to think that some of us are simply big people, which is true, but certainly big doesn’t need to mean unhealthy. I also believed that the numbers they gave for what is a healthy weight were wrong. I believed that food was food, why does it matter? I thought vegetarians were crazy. The list goes on and on…I had a very long list of why I was so unhealthy. When that doctor looked me in the eyes and said, “If you don’t do something about your weight you will find yourself diabetic.” I heard her and realized that I had some ideas about things that were obviously mistaken. I was wrong and it was time for me to face my fears and overcome my unhealthy habits. That was 10 years ago.
Over those 10 years I started with small steps. I started with my soda habit. It was a small step but many people start there because it seems so obvious. We all know we shouldn’t be drinking soda every day. We all realize that candy, cakes, and fast food are not good for us. I noticed something as I began to make these little changes. I noticed that we couldn’t expect fast changes. I had to stay patient and persistent, never taking my eyes off the goal. I also found that when life got hard I would reach for those comforting foods. Cake was my favorite! A cake left unattended and a stressful day would certainly lead me to binge on cake with tons of icening. There was nothing healthy about this habit. I simply numbed myself with a sugar buzz and a full belly so that I no longer noticed the stress from the day. I had to find new tools. I struggled for years trying to figure out what worked for destressing and what didn’t. I fell back into food habits repeatedly and still do occasionally 10 years later. I had to understand why this was happening. I searched for the reasons why I struggled so hard with this particularly unhealthy habit. I realized that I have been eating that way for over 30 years….I was taught as a child to eat when I was upset. Child falls down, cries, adult hands them a cookie. We all have seen this and many of us still carry these habits into our adulthood. We cannot change what happened as a child but we can change what happens today. So instead of food I go for a walk in the forest, do yoga, play games, or write. I have a variety of activities that can help me destress. I sometimes still find myself reaching for sugar but interestingly when you don’t eat it all the time, it has a reverse effect on a stressful person’s day. Now if I was to binge on a cake I get heart palpitations, an upset belly and it doesn’t taste nearly as good as it used to. Now it tastes more like cardboard. I have successfully taught my body to react to sugar as it should, it has taken many struggles, many mountains and loads of persistence. Today, if I can barely eat 2 pieces of cake. I cannot drink soda and have no desire for fast food.
Today, life is simple. I want food that tastes good, feels goood and leaves my soul thanking me. I love healthy food and healthy habits simply because I like to feel healthy. Healthy feels good and looks good but I would never say it was easy. Although today staying healthy is easier and easier. Now that I live in a progressive area I have better access to organic and vegetarian food. I also have access to the outdoors, where I like to spend most of my physical exercise. Yoga has enriched my life in a variety of ways including as a destressor tool. Yoga is valuable as a tool to heal yourself. Yoga has filled my life with healing and good health. It started with occasional yoga at home with a video to a daily practice of yoga. Today I have aspirations of sharing the healing nature of yoga with the overweight world.
Now that you see the mountain search in yourself for the belief that you can take one small step at a time towards your goal. What is your goal? What are the steps to get there? What will be your first step towards teaching yourself belief? Belief will keep you stepping all the way to the top! I am here to help you! Let me help you make plans for your goals, let me support your journey up the mountain.
Even if you swear your not dieting and simply working on changing your lifestyle, I often hear the phrase “falling off the wagon.” Many people around me are aware that I try to make good food choices and my clients feel like failures when they “fall off the wagon.” So when they are making not so good choices they often feel the need to tell me why they have recently “fell off the wagon” Often they are surprised at my response. Often its just one simple sentence, “As long as you don’t stay fallen then its no big deal.”
That’s the trick to changing your lifestyle and losing weight permanently. So part of it is certainly education about what foods are good for you. Learning about portions, a balanced diet, and exercise are simply academic. In order to change our lifestyle and really examine our relationship with food we kind of NEED to “fall off the wagon” because it reveals a very important key. Simply it reveals all the unhealthy reasons we eat. Most of us at some point have sat down with a bowl of ice cream, candy, cake or pie and devoured it as we mourned or processed some sort of sad or depressing emotions. Believe it or not your body can handle that occasionally, the issue is when you do it every day or several days a week. The trick to the lifestyle change is to evaluate why we are eating that way and see if we can’t find other tools, other than food, to help us deal with uncomfortable feelings.
When I first started losing weight I would “fall off the wagon” at some sort of life trigger and then get mad at myself for it. Then even worse I would continue the unhealthy trend. The trends would sometimes seem to go on and on and I couldn’t tell you how many times I just kept the trend up because I simply gave up. There was something wrong with me, something so broken that I couldn’t do anything but eat and obsess over eating. It was a habit of mind. It was a comfortable place. I would break the trend and eventually try to lose weight again, but after a while I would fall off again. These days the unhealthy trends rarely last more than a day or two, most times its only a part of a day. These days I can clearly feel, sense, and understand how the unhealthy hurts my body, mind, and soul. Sometimes I give in and other times I allow myself a treat, because its an appropriate time. But every night is too much and most of us know that. There has to be a balance rather a good/bad judgement on our eating. Instead simply reminde yourself why those things are unhealthy and return to loving yourself again. So if your having an ice cream treat because you haven’t had any in a month than that sounds healthy. The first step to healing unhealthy habits is to recognize them, find their drive, and then find a healthy replacement.
Food is not like other addictions and must be treated differently. We can’t just simply NOT HAVE ANY FOOD because it is required to survive in the world. The more we deny having certain foods the more we are driven to eating them. Any extremes in food seem to bring up certain failure, some of us find this is also true for most “addictions” Ultimately you must find what works for you but certainly “falling off the wagon” shouldn’t summon self punishment or pity. Instead forgive yourself and know your not perfect. Instead love yourself and figure out what you can replace that food with. Try new things and see what feels good. Pay attention to how you feel when you do this instead of eating.
There are so many things to try here’s a starter list:
Spa like treatments
walk in the park
quality time with a loved one
The most important part of this entire thing though, the most important part! Simply, if you fall off – GET BACK UP! Every-time, no matter how long you been down, get back up and try again. Brushing our teeth and showering are important healthy activities, if we messed up and didn’t do it for a few days, we would certainly return to our healthy activity at some point. I noticed in the beginning when I would first try it would be great and then I would stop using my healthy alternative to eating and end up with my unhealthy trend again. This meant I had to pick myself up again and again, I had to climb back on the wagon. It’s okay to “fall off the wagon” just be sure you get back up. This took me learning self love and forgiveness. Although I KNOW I fell more then seven times this Japanese Proverb was helpful when I was feeling defeated.