Category Archives: Food

Infographic: Prevent Holiday Over Eating

Just in time for all of the holiday parties…

Prevent Holiday Overeating with These 3 Tips from

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Why do these tips work?  Find out in “Eat to Thrive,” a free eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year absolutely brimming with more reasons food can be a friend.



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Christmas Treats That Won’t Make Me Fat?

Christmas Fudge

Note: I first published this post in 2012. Reading it now, the corners of my holly jolly cheeks lift in ironic jest. “Hah!” I say to my younger self. “You thought that was healthy?” For sure, my definition of healthful food has shifted. Just goes to show – diets or no – tastes evolve. I’m a nomadic foodie. What was once a rest area on my road to health is now a spot to zoom by and toss wildflower seeds for next year’s visitors. I wonder what new foodie facts I’ve yet to discover and how that will change my plate; which resembles a map more than a platter. When I come to table this Christmas, my assignment will be to honor the ever-changing landscape between fork and knife.

In that spirit of transformation, I’ve tweaked the original recipe below. Notes in red reflect new food discoveries, including:

  • Sugar, any sugar, can raise blood sugar and initiate the corrosive pathway of inflammation and disease, but there are ways to have my fudge and not let it eat me, too.
  • There’s some damn good fats out there that actually heal the body while releasing flavor pheromones as good as any afternoon delight.
  • We have more flour alternatives than ever; options which nourish as well as preserve the fluffy pillow talk I enjoy between me and my Morning Glory muffin.

Special thanks to Anna Rose-McComb of Tiny Farm Nutrition and Fitness for these discoveries. If they’re new to you, as they once were to me, I invite you to taste them in the most delicious way I can dream up: in the fudge recipe below which can satisfy holiday cravings and literally not make me fat. Enjoy!

From 2012…We’re smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season, and I’m starting to do a lot more smackin’ — of my lips, that is.  I love, love, love Christmas treats:  peanut butter fudge, yogurt-covered pretzels, divinity, candy canes, ribbon candy, brightly painted Christmas sugar cookies, and those morsels with the jelly in the middle.  What else is out there?  Too bad no one has discovered a way for me to eat my fudge and not gain weight, too (Guess what, girl…)  Nonetheless, I’ve accepted my love for Christmas treats.  This year, instead of fighting the temptation or judging myself for caving into desire, I’ve made peace with the bounty of sugar, butter, and chocolate that appears this time of year.  If I maintain my weight from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, I count that as a win.

To celebrate and embrace my holiday sweet tooth, I’d like to share a favorite recipe.  Hubby and I love to bake up these Cranberry Walnut Breads as gifts.  Whenever I watch him in the kitchen I’m convinced he’d make a great TV chef.  I’d put a twist on it and call it The Naked Baker Show (camera peeking just above the counter).  But, that’s for another blog…Here’s the recipe:

Cranberry Walnut Bread

  • 6 T. orange zest from 6 large oranges
  • 2 cups orange juice from those oranges (tons of hidden sugar in orange juice, so I recommend keeping the fiber by blending slices into a puree, since fiber can slow spikes in blood sugar)
  • 4 cups buttermilk (canned coconut milk and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar offers more nutrition without sacrificing the silky texture)
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (Let’s all cheer together:  Butter is our friend!  I like a quality grass-fed brand like Tillamook — I called their office, and they pasture their cows up until freezing in Oregon, so the boxes on the shelves now contain the last of this summer’s grass turned to gold.)
  • 6 large eggs (Comparing store-bought yolks to the blazing orbs gifted by our backyard chickens, there’s no contest.  Go backyard if you can.)
  •  12 cups flour (Nut flours, gluten free mixes, bean flours, keep going and keep experimenting until you find your fave.  My current go-to is Pamela’s Baking Mix.)
  • 6 cups sugar (Damn, that’s a lot of sugar.  Two routes for modifying:  eat these muffins with lots of roughage to slow sugar absorption or — my preference — replace most of the sugar with ground almonds mixed with coconut flour.  Both have a natural sweetness and offer more nutrition.)
  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 7 1/2 cups frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped, approx. 3 bags
  • 3 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsly chopped

Each batch makes 6 loaves.

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together flour (alternative), salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk eggs (thank the chickens).  Add buttermilk coconut milk/vinegar, melted butter, orange juice puree, and orange zest to eggs and stir thoroughly.
  4. Add just a bit of sugar and almond/coconut flour mix to liquid ingredients, stir.
  5. Add chopped cranberries and toasted walnuts to liquid mixture.
  6. Stir dry ingredients into liquid mixture; stir just until moistened.  Do not over-mix.

Grease (coconut oil!) and flour (alternative) 6, 9 x 5 loaf pans and divide batter into each.  Spread evenly into corners of pans and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Reduce oven heat to 350 and continue baking for about 50-60 minutes more, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Heads-up: these healthier substitutions may shift the temp and time a bit, so stay vigilant, check often and tweak if necessary.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.  Spread with as much butter or coconut oil as your heart desires!

The Fudge that Won’t Make You Fat

  • Coconut oil, 1 cup
  • Cocoa powder, 1/2 cup (less if you prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate)
  • Honey, 3 Tbsp, or to taste
  • Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp, or to taste
  • Almond butter, 2 cups
  • Optional for a more creamy fudge:  canned coconut milk, 1/4 cup
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  1. In microwave-safe bowl: mix coconut oil, cocoa, vanilla extract, and honey.
  2. Nuke 30 seconds, then stir.  Repeat until silky.
  3. In bigger bowl: mix almond butter and coconut milk (if desired).  Combine chocolate mix into this big bowl and stir ’til thick and sexy.  Sample and tweak if desired.
  4. Pour into a baking and sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Freeze until firm.  Cut and serve.

Take Home Tip from

When I come to table this Christmas, my assignment will be to honor the ever-changing landscape between fork and knife.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

“Eat to Thrive,” a free eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year absolutely brimming with more reasons food can be a friend.

Read Anna’s Tiny Blog at

Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.


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7 Ways I Got My Body Back

January 2nd (and the Monday after New Year’s) are HUGE days for anyone wanting to lose weight.  I’m rebooting this post as a way to encourage anyone shooting out of the starting block today.

Seven years ago, I had a dream which I’ve never really been able to shake. I always wondered what it meant. I think I’ve finally figured it out. At the time, I was working with a therapist. I shared the dream’s details with her. I described the dug-out pit I occupied and how it resembled a sunken site of an old, archeological dig. We surmised why the pit’s fence – which ran along the top of the ground above me, at shoulder height – seemed more like a military perimeter. With its bulky timbers reinforced by steel rebar, I wasn’t going anywhere. Why did it need to be so strong? More intriguing, however, were the holes underneath the fence. Someone had dug out gaps underneath the fence. Just enough space for a torso appeared along the edges every ten feet. Why had no one filled them in? Had hope carved out each escape route, and I hadn’t bothered to replace it? Maybe there was no point, since a pair of army boots stood patrol on the other side of every hollow. Why the necessary precaution? Who was out there, standing in those boots, and why did I stand inside, alone? I felt trapped. My solace was the open, blue sky above me. Puffy, white clouds paraded over me. This brings me to my biggest question…

Why didn’t I just fly out?

All notions of “flying dreams” aside, this seems a legit question. I acted as if the sky was a roof. There wasn’t anything holding me back, except me. In thinking of the top seven lessons I’ve learned throughout my weight loss journey, that’s the clincher. I see this self-limiting pattern over and over. Each of these seven ideas healed some element of whatever, or whyever, I was my biggest obstacle.

  1. Food can transform from currency into contentment. For most of my life, I’ve used food as currency. Food to feel my value. Food to reward my effort. Food to stand in for any desire I could not fill. The problem with this strategy is that I never experienced fullness. By using food as currency, I limited the amount of joy and contentment I could feel because food can only do so much. In addiction terms, I could only get as high as my next hit. I couldn’t stop this limiting cycle until I felt my intrinsic worth. I needed to connect with that unearned merit which abides at depths universal to us all. A Biblical poet put it best: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” (Isaiah 55) When I experienced my natural worth — which I cannot earn or have enough of anything to pay it back with — that’s when food transformed from currency to contentment.
  2. I do not have to lose 100 pounds before I feel better. When I first decided to lose 100 pounds in 1 year, I thought I wouldn’t be happy until I dropped all that weight. In reality, I felt better after shedding just 15 pounds. I can remember having more energy, feeling less pain, and sleeping better within weeks. The 100 pound goal gave me enough hope to launch my journey, but it didn’t have to power me all the way. In fact, the inherent restriction of my goal, as it was defined by a total number of pounds within a given time frame, became a burden. That expectation felt heavier than the extra pounds I was carrying. In order to continue, without the heavy restriction, I had to trade big expectations for tiny victories. It’s those everyday wins which took me the rest of the way, bringing the finish line to me.
  3. “Set Point Theory” isn’t as sexy, but it makes more sense. “100 Pounds in 1 Year” sure rolls off the tongue, but without the pressure of numbers, I made space to learn an amazing lesson, called “Set Point Theory.” Basically, it’s what keeps lost pounds from never coming back. Researchers have found that a slow burn — no more than 5% of total body weight every three months – keeps weight loss below our starvation radar. If I lose weight any faster, then I could be wasting my time and shooting my future self in the foot. According to Set Point Theory, in order to lose 100 pounds in 1 year, I would have had to start out weighing over 500 pounds. Indeed, that’s exactly where some folks start. For others, however, patient, compassionate weight loss and a return trip to the calculator and will avoid return trips to the diet isle.
  4. Weight loss is not a straight line but a meandering path through the woods. If I zoom out on my journey, taking a Google Maps view, I see lots of pitfalls and rabbit trails along the way. At first, I hated these obstacles because they slowed down my weight loss. But the hurdles just kept coming. They didn’t slow down until I slowed down. Turns out, I needed the hidden meaning in every detour. I learned to sink into the sand because there was probably something in there for me. If I tried to skip over it, I usually came back to it, anyway. I could only go as fast as my heart and mind could handle. Ironically, once I geared down to soul speed, I found oodles of freedom to play and experiment. Pit stops became hidden treasures and weight loss an adventure in living. My self-limiting insistence on a linear, start-to-finish highway to happiness seems silly and unrealistic to me now.
  5. Relationship brings results. So often, I’ve turned to tips and strategies for results, but copying other people’s fitness success works more like trying to push a button from behind by yanking on the circuitry. Tactics like counting calories, logging hours of exercise, or tracking total steps, these aren’t what cause fitness. They’re what comes after; after the choice to just show up, after frustrating days of missed workouts, and after the next day when I decide to pick up where I left off. All of these moments create a relationship, which is what really brings results. By sticking only to what worked for other people, I actually limited my options. When I drilled down to healing my relationship with myself, that’s when the power kicked in. I found out that I could trust my gut to lead me to my next, best step. Granted, it didn’t feel great all the time. I had walked around like a floating head for years; I was that disconnected to my body. It was scary to reconnect with my heart and mind through my body, even painful at times. But by staying authentic, no matter the circumstance, no effort was wasted.
  6. Get thinner but never stop getting thicker. I want to get thick, in my soul I mean. I want to slather on layers of life. I got into this journey by opening up to desire. I don’t want to stop now. I want to stay engaged with the juiciness of the Big Wow that infiltrates every part of every day. I think back to my days of eating drive-thru in my car on my lunch hour. I remember how utterly bored I felt with my life. To me, becoming thinner has happened more out of a sense of fullness, rather than depriving myself of joy (with food or otherwise.) By feeding awe and curiosity, I continue to uncover reasons to keep making healthy choices.
  7. I decided that I Already Have My Body Back. After losing 62 of my 100 pounds, I came to a crossroads. You may remember a recent blog when I slammed the proverbial table and declared, “I want my body back, dammit!” You know what came up after that release of pent-up angst? A quiet voice humbly whispered, Why not just decide to have it, then? This challenged me. What do you mean? I retorted. I can’t JUST DECIDE.   Turns out, I can. There’s this tune from The Antlers, called “Palace” (totally the sound track to my journey.) One phrase slays me: “…the day we wake inside the secret place that everyone can see.” That’s what this is. It’s inhabiting the beauty I’ve kept hidden from myself but which everyone around me has always seen. It’s the decision to fly out of the pit. This is possible because getting down to my real self wasn’t like peeling layers of rotten flesh from an onion. Not at all. It felt more like connecting with the orb inside. I kept nurturing myself. The onion grew bigger, got brighter, until its paper skin could no longer hold the glowing bulk and had to break off and fly away to make room for more. Granted, I couldn’t have gotten here before now. I needed more than a nice idea to try on. I needed to experience my body in healthy ways. I needed to trade out old clothes for new. I needed to climb mountains. I needed to see muscles flexing in the mirror. Now, though, I am ready to be who I’ve always been.

Take Home Tip


Why not just fly out?

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Listen to “Palace” by The Antlers


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I Want My Body Back

Lost So Far“Well, f*** them if they think they can keep electricity out of here, I’ll do it.”  These are the words of folk legend Bob Dylan.  After organizers of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival complained about an amped-up blues band, Dylan snubbed them with his own rock performance.  Strapping an electric guitar across his chest, he plugged in and played to boos and jeers from the folk faithful.  In retrospect, Dylan’s move was a no brainer.  He’d always made his own rules, and he’d always been willing to break ‘em.  Following the festival, media went crazy, accusing their former “spokesman of a generation” of selling out.

Or did he?  For sure, some fans felt betrayed, but only because they had made an idol out of Dylan.  His gut-check, acoustic style matched the folk’s uncompromising poke at the establishment.  To be “folk,” you had to be a discontented outlier who slammed the status quo and refused to cut your hair or sing in perfect pitch.  You had to be divergent.  You had to be Dylan.  Consequently, going electric at Newport made Dylan a rebel to the rebels.  In reality, as he pulled notes into a drawn-out, electrified wale, Dylan was doing what he had always done.  He stayed true to himself.  His performance only appeared profane because he was an authentic rebel and not a poser.

With this 100 pounds post, I feel like Dylan going electric.

I started my weight loss journey resisting diets or any kind of food restriction.  I love food.  I wanted to believe – and still do – that health would not ask me to choose between what I love and feeling good.  That philosophy got me 62 pounds down the scale.  Then, I plateaued.  I’ve tried everything that’s not a diet – build muscle, be patient, monitor calories, be patient, keep a food diary, be patient –  and nothing has vanquished the seven pounds I’ve lost, gained, and relost over what feels like forever.  Not that this time has been a waste.  I’ve used it to dig deeper.  I’ve healed from heavy hurt and learned to inhabit my skin with confidence.

While laboring through my plateau, I’ve learned that health involves more than making healthy choices.  Staying healthy requires me to adapt to ongoing change.  What worked for me in my 20’s doesn’t work for me now, in my 40’s.  Of course, twenty years ago, I had my hardbody in a delicious, brick sh**-house kind of way.  I competed in triathlons.  I squatted over 200 pounds.  I burned out at the top of mountains and offered ancestral hollers to the hills.  I was an animal.

I still am.

I just haven’t been for a while.  I don’t want to stop here.  I want to lose the rest of the weight.  To break this plateau and get my body back, I have to be like Dylan.  If I make a rule out of not managing food, I could miss the very thing which could propel me out of my plateau.  I must make food a significant piece of my weight loss puzzle.

This realization coincided with a visit to my doctor last week.  She agreed that I was a trooper.  I’d done everything I could on my own.  Now it was time for her help.  When she challenged me to eat different, I was ready to listen.  Then, she recommended I try Intermittent Fasting (IF).  Whoa!  Not sure I was ready for that!  The word “fasting” grabbed my body’s attention.  My stomach tightened.  My jaw stiffened.  As I listened to her explain IF, however, I realized she was talking less about “starve and binge” and recommending something far more intelligent and effective.  In fact, you could call IF Intelligent Fasting.

There are lots of ways to approach IF (Read a review of different IF schedules from Dr. Mercola below.)  I chose a daily fast, moving my breakfast forward and eating only between Noon and 8 pm.  I’m not changing what I eat, just the timing of my meals.  IF can flex to work with many lifestyles, but the principle is the same:  reteach my body to use fat as fuel.  I definitely need that.  For two years, I ate processed, unhealthy fats almost every day.  I didn’t need to access my stored fat because I was already eating plenty of it.  You know the old adage, “Use it or lose it.”  Well, my body didn’t need those metabolic fat-burning pathways, so I lost them.  I’m eating clean today, but I still crave fatty foods because I can’t access my stored fat.  I don’t have those pathways.  IF can fix that.  Fasting reintroduces my need for more calories, so I can reteach my body how to get the fat out of my cells and burn it up.  Today, as I sip my coffee, I remind myself that I am finally dipping into those fat reserves and melting my muffin top.

This transition has been easier than expected.  Moment of truth:  after I left my doctor’s office, I headed straight for a doughnut case.  My mind raced.  I couldn’t focus.  Between gooey mouthfuls of maple bar and gulps of scorching coffee, I slugged down worries like, If I don’t take care of myself with food, who’s going to take care of me?  Aha!  More fodder for heart-level work.  That’s o.k.  I want a new mind as much as I want a new body.  As afraid as I was to start fasting, I knew I could sabotage the whole idea if I leap-frogged over my fears.  Before starting, I had to get vulnerable, pay attention, and look at my panic as if it was trying to teach me something.

My acute emotional reaction to the idea of fasting meant something had been festering for a long time.  Thoughts burst through my brain like a popped zit.  I knew I was an emotional eater, but I had no idea these emotions tied back to elementary memories of a particular lunchroom drama.  After being called out among my junior high peers for being such a gossip, I had reverted to food for comfort.  I’ve used food as currency ever since.  I’ve eaten as a way to pay myself back for hard work or feed my value after a proud effort.  No wonder I was afraid of fasting.  I wouldn’t just give up food for a short while.  I would surrender feeling worthy in this world.

In my first week of fasting, I do feel a sense of sacrifice, but it’s filled me up, not left me empty.  In those moments of mild discomfort, I tap into an enduring strength which cannot be diminished by hunger.  When I return to food, I relish my first meal of the day.  The moment feels sacred.  Gratefulness arises as that first bite goes down.  As my stomach settles into comfy fullness, I understand that I was always of great value, and so it is with everything else.

As I settle into my new meal schedule, I feel better about making food such a big part of my weight loss.  When I look upstream from all this rule making and rule breaking, I realize I’m just doing what I’ve always done.  I’m staying true to my best self even as I change, age, and evolve.  That’s how I’ve approached my 100 pounds journey all along.  Fair warning, though; I will let loose and wail on my electric body someday soon, so get ready.

Take Home Tip

Health involves more than making healthy choices.  Staying healthy requires adaptation to ongoing change.

Explore It More

One Dylan Interview Which Demonstrates How People Tried to Make Him an Idol

Review of Various IF Schedules by Ori Hofmekler for Dr. Mercola

Daily IF Cycle

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Please enjoy this excerpt from my 100 Pounds weight loss eGuide, “Eat to Thrive.”  If you like what you see, feel free to download your very own, very cuddly eGuide below.

“Frenemy” (alternately spelled “frienemy”) is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” that can refer to either an enemy disguised as a friend or someone who’s both a friend and a rival.  The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions. The word has appeared in print as early as 1953.  – from Wikipedia

How many of you feel like food is your “frenemy?”  I’ve felt that way at times.  I must admit, I love food.  I love to eat.  I watch movies about food.  I read about food.  When I was reading “Eat, Pray, Love,” I celebrated the end of section #1 (set in Italy) with a bowl of pasta laced with butter, salt, and garlic.  It was divine.

Then, there’s the flipside.  Eating too much leaves me bloated and feeling like a sloth who should climb a tree to let the sun burn off the extra calories.  But the worst – the absolute worst –is dieting.  When I was on Atkins, carbs became my enemy.  My thoughts rambled with ways to circumvent the malicious carb gang roaming the alleys of my world.  How could I avoid them?  How could I replace them?  How could I not think about them?  Or, when I followed the HCG diet with the special drops that were supposed to help me burn fat, then calories became my opponent.  How could I beat the calorie game by consuming as few as possible while still feeling satisfied?

You probably know how all of these diets ended, but I’ll tell you anyway.  Food won.  No – there’s a better way to put it — rather, my heart won.  I will always love food.  That’s why, after I returned to “normal” eating (after binging on everything I had been depriving myself of), I gained the weight back, and then some.  When I started my 100 pounds journey, I was the heaviest I’d ever been, despite my best efforts.

Unfortunately, there’s something even worse than gaining all of that weight back.  It’s the messaging fueled by the diet/deprive/binge/guilt cycle.  These messages used food as a reflection on my character.  Whenever I ate a “bad” food that was not on the approved list, then I became “bad.”  Whenever my stomach growled from hunger, and I had precious few calories left in my daily budget, I became “weak.”  Whenever I admitted defeat and went running for the doughnut case, I became a “failure.”  I may not have consciously labeled myself in these terms, but these messages brewed inside like a rancid cup of tea.

On my journey to lose 100 pounds in 1 year, I had to escape this vicious cycle.  Even more than that, I had to find a way out of the “frenemy” tango with food.  I had to transform food from feared foe to life-long friend.  I started, rather accidentally, by reading “Women, Food, and God” by Geneen Roth.  I’ve mentioned this book how many times now?  Oh, well, I’ll always lift up this tome as the perfect starting point for someone in my situation.  I was a woman.  I loved food.  And I loved God.  Plus, Oprah loved it, so, duh!

Geneen Roth nailed me.  She has stockpiled years of teaching women — not just overweight women like me, but all kinds of women – and described our nuanced relationships with food.  She’s seen it all, and she’s way past the nicey-nice, cheerleader version of food advice you’ll find in most self-help books.  She knows this is not a game for most of us.  She understands the frenemy trap.  And she knows the way out.

The way out of the frenemy cycle is through my heart.  I love food.  Love is the most powerful force in the Universe.  So why not use that love, which supersedes short-term desire, as a friend instead of a foe?  It made perfect sense.  Except, to do this, I had to give up dieting.  To me, dieting was synonymous with caring for myself.  However, to follow Ms. Roth’s advice, I had to betray the idea that deprivation would work.  I had to go against the grain of all the diet books, gurus, and programs.  That’s tough love.  Considering how much my mind and emotions had depended on diets to make me feel more beautiful, more desirable, and of more value, this was a tall order.  How dare she ask me to give up dieting! I thought.

Then, she teased me.  She told stories of how women became free to live in their love of food.  She watched burdens lift; not just of physical weight but emotional weight, too.  These unshackled women became lighter in their lives as well as their shoes.  Once these women got the connection between their hearts and their plates, there was no holding them back.  They became fueled by a new power source; running on high-octane love that burned hot and fast.  They were on fire.  It’s no wonder the subtitle of Ms. Roth’s book is, “An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything.”  Food, for people like me, is that powerful.

I’m beginning to see the light.  Without rules about food, I’m free to enjoy every bite.  I can eat when I’m hungry.  I can feast when it’s time to celebrate.  Those pernicious messages of “bad,” “weak,” and “failure,” are being replaced with “joyful,” “strong,” and “spunky.”  When this starts to happen, diets become the true enemy.  Oh, and did I mention, I’ve lost almost 50 pounds to boot?

When you download a 100 Pounds weight loss eGuide,
here’s what you enjoy…

Every 100 Pounds in 1 Year EGuide Contains:One reader says:

“Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book on it or something.”
— Ashley

Eat to Thrive eGuide, 100 Pounds in 1 YearIs peace with food possible?  Yes!  Here’s practical ideas on how I stopped my fight with food.  If you’ve ever imagined food as your enemy, then my story is for you.  It’s a refreshing approach which honors our struggle and gives credence to our deep desire to relate to food in a healthy way.  Learn how to ditch diet tricks and eat to thrive.  $5

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I Know How to Eat Right, So Why Do I Choose Something Else?

Lost So FarI have fallen off The Wagon.  I am on the couch, pulling open a bag of Dorito chips.  I reach in, feeling the pointy ends for a big one.  I stretch my mouth wide and bite down like a lion ripping flesh from the bone.  The crunch rattles my pleasure sensors.  It’s the sound of rebellion, of savory sin.  Except it’s not nearly so dramatic a scene from the couch.  When I take a breather between handfuls, I’m still just one woman in binge and lounge mode.  I feel the weighty guilt of my choice as I sink solid into the cushions.  Then, my mind talk starts.  I remember that I should have more will power than this.  I remind myself that I write about how to not get into this position.  Now I’ve fallen by the wayside, clutching my bag of chips and watching The Wagon move on without me.  Clearly, I don’t always follow my own advice.  Despite all of the health ideas I’ve gleaned, and all the dots I’ve connected, I still make poor food choices.  Why?

I know this question is not for everyone.  Many seem to eat healthy with ease.  For emotional eaters like me, however; it’s exactly where I live.  I believe the answer depends on more than intelligence.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t even be asking this question.  I’d simply adapt my eating patterns to ever-healthier foods as science discovers more and more about nutrition.  I would learn the right way to eat, and I would eat right.  It’s the Scientific Method of eating:  break the whole down into its basic parts, then we can understand how to heal the whole.

This linear, scientific approach is the road on which The Wagon travels.  This road is marked by all the “right” foods experts say we should eat.  When I make healthy food choices, I consider myself on this right road because I’m following their signs:  “Eat more fruits and vegetables.”  “Eat less fat.”  “Eat more fat.”  I use whatever guideposts I can to reassure me that I’m still eating “good.”  However, nowhere on the map of healthy eating is there a sign reading, “Binge and Lounge Rest Area, 10 miles.”  When I’m ensconced in the couch, crunching my chips, I’m squatting at that rest area.  If I want to get back on the road, I have to start following the signs again by making healthy choices.   The Scientific Method of eating tends to feed this idea.  I’m either on the right road, or I’ve wandered off.  I was curious if other women looked at eating this way, so I asked them about their food choices.  They repeatedly referenced one of two extremes, either “being a good girl” or struggling with “bad habits.”  I’m not alone.  But, If it’s all about habit, then why do I switch habits over and over again?

Is habit about will power?  If so, then where does will power come from?  Is there a limited supply? Do I drain it every time I make a poor food choice, like a battery slowly sucked dry?  Or is will power a matter of character, genetically encoded in some and forged by hard-won discipline by the rest of us?  If I can discover where will power resides, then perhaps I can understand why mine comes and goes so readily.  Sometimes I feel like I’m accelerating zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds in my Tesla Model S with a full charge of kick-ass will power.  Then there’s the rest of the time when you couldn’t get me to eat a vegetable, even if you slathered it in peanut butter (well, maybe if it’s good peanut butter).  The more I ignore my best advice, and eat whatever I want any way, the more curious I become about why I do this.  I cannot pinpoint where will power ends and choice begins.  I know the axiom, “You are what you eat.”   However, it feels just as true that “I eat what I am.”  In other words, in that moment of choice, I’m trying to connect with who I am.  Screw “eating right.”  I’m tired.  I’m bitchy.  As Kris Carr said, “I want to go do bad things with bad people.”  Aren’t you glad I chose Doritos instead?

I lick the processed orange powder from my fingertips, and I burrow deeper into the cushions.  I suspect finding the source of will power may not be easy.  It may be a mix of biology, chemistry, Quantum Physics, and even a little desire.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

It Could Be Biology
Neuroscientists have watched the brain in the act of choosing.  They’ve noticed two things.  First, thoughts run in neural pathways, like ruts, in the brain.  When I’m choosing, my first thoughts likely emit from these pathways.  This is the biological equivalent of habit.  Why am I compelled to eat buttered popcorn when watching a movie?  Perhaps because I have established ruts which connect the neurons of these two experiences.  When my “watching a movie” neuron fires, electricity flows on to a neighboring “eating popcorn” neuron.  Secondly, scientists observed the difficulty of choosing outside these neural pathways.   To change a habit, I have to make new choices, over and over again, physically unhooking those neighboring neurons and nudging them into new connections with other neurons.  The experts call this “Neural Plasticity.”  It is difficult but possible, so choice is flexible.  This explains both the power of habit and how habits can change.  Is will power involved in this change?  To find out, I need to look deeper.

It Could Be Chemistry
I remember science class, when my teacher explained that everything – including us – contained mostly space.  This was hard to believe until I saw that fuzzy image from an Electron Microscope.  A swirl of electrons, protons, and neutrons buzzed within each atom, like leftover Cheerios floating in a cereal bowl.  Yep, mostly space!  Common sense, however, says that when I bite into a chip, I feel the crispy crunch of something solid between my teeth.  Now, with new instruments, I saw a deeper truth.  Unfortunately, nutrition theory hasn’t adapted to this new reality.  We’re still focusing on only the solid elements of food.  In reality, I am not a stagnant, solid-state being.  I’m changing all the time.  Electrons pass from atom to atom, changing electrical charges within all of that space inside.  Food has the same, basic chemistry.  Is the secret I seek hidden within these changing charges?  Do they trump my best intentions with their dynamic interplay between food and body?  Or, if I’m mostly space, then is there something about that space that generates my will power?

It Could Be Quantum Physics
Let’s dive into the weird, or the really real (depending on how you view it.)  What’s inside all that space?  One idea is called “String Theory.”  This foundational theory of Quantum Physics says that space is not empty but filled with “strings” of energy.  They behave much like guitar strings, each vibrating at their own frequency.  According to Wikipedia, “Every form of matter or energy is the result of the vibration of strings.”  These vibrating strings combine, separate, and recombine in patterns which create a kind of energetic harmony.  That harmony becomes reality.  Think of the strings as a group of instruments and the realities they create as songs.  In one moment, the song could be jazz.  The next, it could be blues.  The same instruments play both songs; they’re just combining in different ways to make different harmonies.  String combinations are infinite but precise, giving rise to flexibility (in everything, from the brain to food choice.)  Therefore, will power could be a product of how these strings of energy combine at any given moment.  I know, weird, right?!

If this is happening in me, then could it be happening in everything, including my Doritos?  What if I eat to match my energy level?  Even when I know all the “right” things to eat, I choose Doritos because they’re vibrating at the same level as me.  We’re in harmony.  I’ll never look at string cheese the same again.

What Next?
Wherever will power begins, my next, best step will be the same.  I must connect.  Connecting with myself — whether with food, music, or any other practice — will only move me towards my ultimate desire.  Sure, I want to lose 100 pounds in 1 year, but I chart my weight loss by the connections I make.  I don’t need to coax my path into something I think it should be.  I don’t need a road.  I am the road.  My body is already the perfect vehicle for where I am today.  What makes me want it to be different is not what experts say I should be, but how I change on the inside.  My work is to learn how to trust that change.

Take Home Tip

I’m going to eat whatever food matches my energy.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

Introduction to String Theory (AKA M-Theory)


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When Food Talks Back

Here’s a chapter from my weight loss eGuide, “Eat to Thrive.”  If you like what you see, feel free to download the entire eGuide at the link below.

It’s the end of week 22, and I’m confident that the scale will be down another two pounds when I weigh myself tomorrow.  I’m writing at my laptop; sitting at Bernice’s Bakery and enjoying a pastry filled with cream cheese and blueberries.  The pastry feels soft and silky in my mouth; like biting into a satin pillow.  Why am I so confident, even as I take another swig of robust coffee with 100% cream?  I think it’s because I’ve found a secret.  I’ve discovered a key to losing weight that goes beyond pounds and inches.  I’ve found a way to change my mind, as well as my dress size.  It’s this turn of the tumblers inside, more than food or exercise regiments, which has delivered the most results.

I admit that most of my habits aren’t really about food or exercise.  They’re about what’s going on inside my head.  Before I started my 100 pounds journey, I snarfed McDonald’s because I was bored.  I gorged on doughnuts because I wanted a reward for pushing so hard.  I crashed on the couch because I was exhausted from the low-level barrage of negative, judgmental thoughts boiling in my brain.  My mind was my biggest barrier to improved health.  I’ve heard this sentiment echoed among professionals, too.  When I asked Certified Personal Trainer, Lani Bolenbaugh, “What do you think are the biggest challenges facing people who want to lose weight?” she immediately answered, “Their minds.”  Unfortunately, most weight loss plans place the mind a distant third behind food or exercise.  Diets like “The Zone,” “Atkins,” and the recently-popular “HCG” target food as Enemy #1.  Workouts like “Insanity” and “P90X” promote extreme exercise.  While I see benefits to these programs, I notice that they rarely address the mind.

I decided to bring my “mind revolution” to life with a visual concept.  It looks like this:

triangel hierarchy of weight loss approaches

As you can see, I’ve turned the typical weight loss approach upside-down.  Mind becomes 60% of the whole; exercise 30%; and food a small 10%.  How can this work?  Because my daily routine stems from thought patterns in my heads, that’s the only sensible place to start.  To see my patterns clearly, I have to work backwards, like this:

My body is shaped by habits.

My habits grow from my experiences.

My experiences are created by thoughts.

Food Talks to MeFor example, last Thanksgiving, I weighed 44 pounds more than I do today.  I constantly felt heavy, like I was moving through invisible sludge.  I ate McDonald’s drive-thru three to four times each week.  When I ate fast food, I experienced relief.  The food became a comfort.  In fact, it subconsciously spoke to me.  It’s no surprise that these thoughts led me to pack on the pounds.

To make a difference in my life, I needed to start with those thoughts.  But, not in an attacking, “my mind is my enemy” kind of way.  Instead, I started with a positive thought.  The first thought is often the most important – and the hardest to authentically believe.  In her book, “Secrets of a Former Fat Girl,” Lisa Delaney puts it perfectly.  She explains that, to lose weight, we need to let go of judgment, rules, or programs, and foster the belief that we can lose weight.  I’m a person who can be healthier is a powerful starting belief.

How we get there, and however long it takes, is nobody’s business.  For example, before I began my journey, I spent six months doing some pre-weight loss heavy lifting with my beliefs.  I practiced “stopping.”  Any free time I had, I spent in bed, being still.  I didn’t always sleep.  I’d be too awake with worries like…

I should be doing laundry or the dishes.

I’m being too lazy.

How will the bills get paid?

You know what, no one had to wear dirty underwear.  I didn’t regress to larvae stage.  The bills got paid.  PLUS, I learned a massive lesson.  One afternoon in bed, I lay awake.  By now, I had gotten rather bored of all the “shoulds” in my head, and I’d gotten passed any guilt.  I began to truly rest inside.  In that moment, I felt a light shining, starting from within and expanding to fill the entire bedroom.  I say “felt a light” because I couldn’t see it, but the warmth and clarity enveloping me absolutely lit me up.  I imagined angels dancing over me in some invisible place, celebrating my existence.  And I knew – I knew that I knew that I knew – I was of great value, even as I lay in bed, doing nothing.  I was of so much value that not even I could take it away.  It was the kind of knowing which comes from such eternal truth that I immediately believed it of everyone.  You, me, we are all of infinite value, just by being alive.

That sounds foo-foo, but this idea had a real-world impact on my life.  Now that I had an awareness of my permanent value, I had something to compare all my worries to.  I realized how much time I wasted arguing with thoughts that aren’t even true.  Once I saw these thoughts as time-suckers that didn’t even help me, it became easy to see beyond them.  That meant it became easier to channel that worry into action.  I got lots more done.  Instead of fretting over chores, I just did them.  When I wanted to rest, I napped.  Then, I’d wake up refreshed and ready to do some more.  I paid the bills quicker, instead of letting them stew in a to-do soup.  Everything got easier.  Life got easier.  Eating healthier became easier.

To get off the weight loss rollercoaster, I had to spend some time in my head.  Even so, I can drum up a worry about that:

If I spend so much effort on my mind, then I’ll become obsessed.  I won’t be moving.  I won’t be dieting.  How will I get results?

This seems logical, but reality doesn’t work like that.  When I was heavier, I was already obsessed.  I thought about my size, or compared my body to another woman’s shape, at least once an hour.  Little things would constantly remind me of my girth:  the butt-squishing seats in the movie theater, the chafing of tight waistbands, and the rubbing of my inner-thighs when I walked.  I obsessed about my size all the time.

Today, I spend a minimum of energy focusing on my weight, partly because I’m doing something about it and partly because my value is no longer attached to my size.  All this freedom, and I haven’t even lost the whole 100 pounds yet!

Action dispels fear.  Movement creates momentum, even when all of the action is on the inside, under the covers.  In fact – especially on the inside, because the same thinking that caused me so much worry can be retrained to work double-time in my favor.  After a few months of seeing beyond my worries, that habit-forming pattern which caused me to gain weight began to work in reverse.  I considered the possibility that I could get healthy again.

Not too long after, I felt like moving, just 10 minutes in the pool.  I started reading about health.  I joined a support group to help me continue examining my thoughts.  Soon, I began having fresh experiences.  I felt lighter while doing water aerobics in the pool, I didn’t feel so alone in my struggle, and I cultivated a deep acceptance of who I already was.  It didn’t take long for others to notice a change.  Coworkers noticed my energy boost.  I made friends with the gals at my favorite smoothie counter.  The more I moved, the more momentum I created, the cleaner I ate, and the easier every day became.  Eventually, I realized what my heart had known all along:

I am a person who likes to be healthy.

Today, I rarely visit McDonald’s.  I’m aware of my triggers, like stress and lack of sleep, and I anticipate ways to work around them.  I feel like I can affect my life again.  I’m more myself than I’ve been in a long time.

Eat to Thrive eGuide, 100 Pounds in 1 YearLike?  Want some more?  Download your “Eat to Thrive” eGuide at the 100 Pounds Store now.

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