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What Part of You Is Hungry?

What Part of You Is Hungry?

Who among us hasn’t reached for something to eat at the first inkling of hunger, even when it isn’t our body that needs to be fed? While encouraging healthy approaches to eating, the driving force behind What Part of You Is Hungry? is that physical food cannot satisfy the hungers that propel many women into conflicts with their bodies and struggles with their weight. To truly succeed in maintaining a healthy weight, a woman must determine if her hunger is coming from her body or her life. What Part of You Is Hungry? shows her how.

Two guiding principles shape my work and the ideas I explore here. First, arriving to a healthy relationship with food is best understood in the context of the greater whole: a healthy relationship with yourself. The extent to which your body, mind and spirit are in a harmonious interrelationship with each other is the wellspring of your life. Dieting, by itself, too often separates you from your life.

Second, feeding your mind and your spirit well is as fundamental to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight as healthy eating is for your body. When you can figure out if your hunger is coming from your body or your life, you’ve mastered the art of feeding yourself.

What Overeating Is Telling Us

images.jpg XBeing more generous with ourselves lays the framework for maintaining a healthy weight as much as making healthier food choices does. Too often, overeating is the other side of the scarcity we impose upon ourselves. Do we often eat uncomfortably large quantities of food because we allow ourselves too little affection? Do we work very hard and make a lot of money but never spend much on ourselves?

If our relationship with food is wounded, we can be sure that woundedness spills over into other areas of our lives. Many of us find it easier to feel guilty than to forgive ourselves. Many others say more than “thank you” when someone gives them a compliment. Our relationship with food mirrors the relationship we have with ourselves.
Chaotic eating patterns often reflect other internal storms. If you’re eating is chaotic, in what other areas of your life is there disorder and confusion? What situations are causing you unhappiness and undue stress? Has an important relationship become unreliable, causing you conflict or grief? Where can you identify instability or growing concerns at home or at work?

The next time you overeat, instead of feeling guilty come up with a thoughtful and reassuring response to help you move on with a little more grace and a lot more self respect. What might that be?

 

The Reality of Weight Loss

The reality of a weight loss is often different than its promise. Generally, we are delighted to see different sides of ourselves emerge as we are in the process of losing weight or reach our “goal.” We feel livelier, move with greater ease and even breathe better. But living in a new physical space requires that we give ourselves enough time and constant support to adapt to a different physical, emotional and spiritual reality.

imagesAYYKH92QFor some, a change in body shape and dimensions is like learning to walk all over again, navigating through the world in a whole new way. Learning to trust and respect our body doesn’t happen automatically if we haven’t felt that way before. It takes time to see our bodies as truly sacred aspects of our being when we’ve rejected them for so long.

untitled.pngwwEven when we’ve become accustomed to a healthy diet, we still get hungry. We still get hungry when we are surrounded by temptation or dealing with too much stress. We still get hungry as our self-esteem and confidence (and dress size) is seeking new levels and our relationships change. When food has been our “default” for so long, we must remain vigilant of falling back into the habit of feeding our body when our hunger is coming from someplace else.

The proportions, symmetry and priorities of our lives keep changing and all the fine tuning is up to us. Weight loss is complex. Understanding our hungers and balancing the collective resources of our body, mind and spirit with our needs supports a truly healthy life. Our excesses and deficiencies are there to balance us, not diminish us.

imagesIRQ03P8MWhat challenges have you faced once you have been successful in losing weight? What insights can you share with someone else who is about to reach her goal weight?

Using the Power of Place to Achieve Optimal Weight Loss

Asheville, the home of What Part of You Is Hungry?, was recently designated by Prevention magazine as one of the best US cities for weight loss. Their research points to the role that place plays in how we care and feed our bodies.  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2014 Culture of Health Prize.

Of course, not everyone can live in a top-ranking weight loss city. But these cities tell us something about how to create an environment that facilitates our weight loss goals, regardless of where we live. What do high-ranking weight loss cities have that other places do not? Here are a few factors that seem to make a difference.

images4XF2DDFEFarmers Markets

Cities that rank high for weight loss have accessible farmers markets, places where people can by fresh produce. Especially for folks who are reluctant to incorporate more vegetables into their diet, farmers markets can make all of the difference in the world. Seasonal produce tastes great, and getting to know who grew your food is an added bonus.

imagesUP6XEB38Active Lifestyles

What do people do for leisure where you live? In the healthiest cities, exercise is a favorite way people unwind and relax. Whether through a walk with friends or a casual bike ride, movement is key in having fun. In the most fit locations, the gym is only one place to be active. Parks, greenways, and local attractions, like the Biltmore House property in Asheville, provide opportunities for getting in and staying in shape.

images3V2DNW6LA Sense of Community

Friendly communities tend to be healthy communities. Stress, isolation, and tension often drive mindless eating or binge TV watching. Slowing down to volunteer, visit with a friend or offering help to a neighbor indicate a commitment to building community and to personal health, too.

For people who are fortunate enough to live in places that support a healthy, active lifestyle, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is easier. But you can make just about anywhere you live offer more opportunities for healthier eating and physical fun.  If you live in a location that is not particularly amenable to active lifestyles or lacks local farmers markets, think about making a commitment to building a sense of community on your own. Get your friends and family involved.

Take full advantage of the closest YMCA or YWCA, both organizations dedicated to strengthening community and healthy living. Think about organizing a food co-op, where the focus is on healthy food and bringing people together. Start an exercise group with motivated (and not-so-motivated) friends. Create family fitness challenges where fun and activity go hand in hand for everyone live.

What creative ideas might you have for making wherever you live “weight loss friendly?”

Fifty Shades of Play and Feeding Your Spirit

imagesF3EOT93L

 

Play has been described as “the work of childhood,” the place where the greatest learning occurs. Kids seem to instinctually know how to play. If toys aren’t available, children will transform kitchen pots into musical instruments or dandelions into craft supplies. Through the power of imagination, they can convert the boring into the magical, the waiting room into a space ship. Some of our greatest scientists and spiritual leaders are similarly playful.

As adults, we may think we’ve outgrown play – not realizing what a marvelous food it is for our spirit. One of the best ways to care for ourselves, recharge, and rest is through play. Playfulness ignites creativity, helps us avoid needless drama and gives us a sweeter perspective about our lives.

Just as when we were kids, some forms of play resonate more deeply with us. As little girls, some of us preferred arts and crafts over bike riding or hula hoops over dolls. Can you think about what kinds of play would make you feel more alive right now?

Here are some ideas about ways to play that are sure to feed your spirit, mind and body:

imagesA6W74GQQSwinging

 

How many hours did you spend as a child on a tire swing hung from the branches of a gorgeous oak tree? Perhaps, you flew through the air on a backyard swing set. Swinging is an exhilarating and inspiring way to recharge whether you’re six or sixty or more.

If you’re lucky enough to have a front porch swing, find some time to get out there and daydream. If not, be bold. Find a public park and make your way to the swings. If you prefer, go in the morning or early afternoon when kids are likely to be in school. Take a seat and get your legs moving. Remember what it felt like to be the child version of YOU. An added bonus is that swinging is great exercise!

imagesWDZRQ6H9Pretend Shopping

Shopping may provide a temporary flood of endorphins, but it might not be so good for our bank balance. One form of play that we often leave behind in childhood is “make- believe,” but there’s no reason why this form of play can’t extend into adulthood. An ordinary experience can be full of whimsy and delight.

Pretend shopping is a beautiful way to play. Try browsing window displays or scanning the websites of your favorite online retailer. Allow yourself to fantasize about buying what you’d like and be frivolous! You can even pretend shop for gifts! Playfully send a friend an email with a link to a gift you’d buy for them if your financial resources were unlimited.

images975EW3XQColoring

Remember the distinct pleasure of opening a brand new coloring book? Those clean, crisp pages and a brand new box of Crayolas promised so much possibility! As it turns out, coloring isn’t just for kids. Research shows that coloring reduces stress, stimulates creativity, and generates wellness.

How about taking a ten minute coloring break? Let your mind rest and your spirit shine as you feed your artistic side with play. There are countless coloring books for adults featuring mandalas, gardens, and even Parisian scenes. Of course, a canvas made from a blank sheet of paper always works well! The possibilities for play are endless. Regardless of what kind of play strikes your fancy, the practice will certainly feed your spirit.

How might you connect with your childlike self? If you could play right now, what would you like to do? If you decided to plan a playgroup for next weekend, who would you invite and what would the activity be? Why not?

Can A Relationship Be Junk Food?

 

Do your relationships12ways nourish you? Are they satisfying? Do they help you to love a little better? Any relationship that falls short of having a positive impact on your growth and well-being needs your attention.

A relationship is “junk food” when it stunts your growth and impairs absorption of life’s everyday miracles. A friendship, a family member or a co-worker that routinely leaves you feeling guilty or worn out cannot nourish you and may even set off unhealthy cravings in the same way refined sugar sabotages your appetite.

Here Are Some Ways to Stay Nourished in a Relationship:

1. Spend time with people who demonstrate love and respect for you. “Talk is cheap.”

2. Notice how you are being treated, not just how special the other person is. Don’t be seduced by someone’s talents or charisma.

3. Love people because you want to, not because you need them. Love is a byproduct of caring, not need.

4. Be forthright and forthcoming, even if it may be uncomfortable. Holding things back disconnects you from others….Even if you don’t think it will. Ask for what you need.

5. Listen well. Hear what isn’t being said and respond to that. 6. Keep in mind that people change over time and so do relationships. Sometimes you can heal a relationship that is important to you and sometimes you cannot.

Is there a relationship in your life that needs your attention? Who was the first person that came to mind?