The Power Of Emotional Eating

Do you put others' needs before your own? That may be a part of the job for you.

Whether you’re a high-powered professional, a mother, a caregiver, a partner, a worker, a daughter, a son, a friend, or all of the above and more.

We live in a busy world today. Many of you spend your days putting out fires, handling to-do lists, wiping little noses, meeting deadlines and making sure other people aren't going hungry, feel safe, and happy.

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The stressors of life can literally beat a person up. If they go unattended too long they can destroy relationships with food and lead to a series of events that prevent a person from living their best life. Emotional eating is real and if we don't heighten our awareness around it, we can easily fall victim to it. 

In some cases, the story goes like this. 
Life stressors become too much to bear. 
You get drained mentally and emotionally.
The time you used to invest in your health and fitness has disappeared.
The clothes that you felt comfortable in are now fitting tighter than you would like. 
The sugar and junk food cravings seem much stronger.
The gym membership you have isn't being utilized and the home gym equipment you have is gathering dust.
The bathroom mirror and scale are avoided. 
You end up putting your health and fitness goals to the side because changing it feels like the roller coaster ride that never ends.
Food becomes the way you deal with stress. 
Food becomes the gateway to helping you feel better. 

At the end of a long and hectic day, a big bowl of ice cream can be especially effective in temporarily soothing our exhausted, hard-working selves.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can feel healthy, fit, and good in your own skin.
You can regain control of your schedule and your body. You can overcome emotional eating and cravings.
You can show love and appreciation to others while still taking care of yourself.

Emotional eating can be a direct result of not being conscious of what or why you’re eating. Therapists call this unconscious eating. Unconscious eating is when you’re done with your meal and you continue to pick at it, slowly eating the remaining portion that you intended to leave behind. It can also be putting chips, crackers or any other food in your mouth, just because it’s in front of you.

Possible Solutions

Find other ways to reward and soothe yourself besides food (and other self-destructive behaviors.) Will these other ways be as effective at soothing you as food? Absolutely not!  The things you come up with will help somewhat,  But, In order to truly give up emotional eating, you are also going to have to practice tolerating difficult feelings.

Try to remain mindful of what and when you are eating. It sounds crazy but you have to be intentional about asking yourself a series of questions so you can be more mindful of breaking the cycle. 
Why am I eating this?
What am I thinking?
What am I feeling?
Who am I with?

Emotional eating is a powerful and effective way to find temporary relief from many of life’s challenges. If it didn’t work so well, no one would do it. In order to stop this cycle of emotional eating, you have to make a commitment to reach deep inside yourself to find a place of grit and strength to break the cycle. 

Hopefully the above reminders can assist you in your journey.

Your Willpower Sucks

I had a deep conversation with one of my clients about willpower yesterday and I feel compelled to share some of my thoughts on it.

Willpower touches on nearly all aspects of healthy living. Eating right, exercising, avoiding alcohol, reading more, working harder, and spending less.

Our willpower is not at some constant level all day, waiting around for us to use it. Nope, it gets weaker with each decision we make. Ever wondered why you give into that late night dessert after resisting sweets all day? You said no to the cake at work, and you didn't go to lunch with the crew. But when you got home and ate dinner you couldn't turn down the cookies that were left over from the party last weekend.

Where was that willpower to bail you out then?

Roy Baumeister, a prominent psychologist, has researched the phenomenon of decision fatigue. This is the idea that our willpower decreases with each decision. Decision fatigue is what leads to analysis paralysis. This is why it is tough to make good decisions when your brain is low on mental energy.

The key to making a healthy lifestyle change is achieving more with less will power. Well how in the world do you do that? I'm going to tell you!

I've got two easy hacks that will help you reach your goals without relying on willpower alone.

1. You should plan your day the night before or days before.

Have what you are going to eat planned out and prepared the night before. You can easily take the stress of 'figuring it out' away. Most people are exhausted before they even get to work in the morning. You woke up trying to think of what to wear, what to eat, and how you were going to fit in your errands after work. You are mentally exhausted before you even got in the car to drive in the terrible traffic. Your efforts to avoid eating sweets all day won't last long with that type of daily mental fatigue.

Pack your gym bag and place it in the car the night before. Scrounging around for your sports bra or Under Armour tights in the morning when you are running late can be mentally exhausting. Lay out your clothes and make sure they are ready to go will eliminate some of that decision fatigue. 

Research from Harvard Business School shows that when we make decisions for our future selves, we make better decisions.

So, the night before, plan out as many decisions as you can.

2. Commit in advance.

I often hear, "I"m going to wait until I get off work to see if I 'feel' like going to the gym. Let me be the first to give it to you straight, nine times out of ten you aren't going to feel like going. Your feelings are always going to take the more comfortable route. Committing in advance takes the question out of whether you will do something or not.

This is sometimes why having a trainer to hold you accountable comes in handy. Deciding to hit the gym or get your home workout in can be hard when you are on your own. But if you know your trainer is going to be asking you, "How did the workout go?" then you will be more inclined to get it done.

It may be because you parted with your hard earned money and you want to hold true to your commitment. Or you may have a deep respect for your trainer and don't want to let them down. Whatever it may be, it all comes down to committing in advance.

These are just some strategies that may help you when have a healthy lifestyle goal you want to achieve. Don't get caught in the crossfires of believing that your willpower will get you through.

You see, it’s much easier to have discipline when you set things up in your favor.

The Effects Of Stress On Weight Management

It may start as trouble at work, an argument with your spouse, financial trouble, or overwhelmed with errands that you just don't have time to complete. 

An inkling of worry might soon grow into an avalanche of anxiety. That kind of stress can keep you up at night. It can send your mind racing with potential "what ifs" and worst-case scenarios. 

Stress is like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It gains momentum, gains speed and grows until it crashes. That crash, unfortunately, is often at the expense of your health.

The stress response originally was a lifesaving biological function. Stress enabled us to run from predators or take down prey.

Unfortunately, stress has become a new normal for many of you.

What happens to your body when you are stressed out?

When you feel stressed, your body ramps up production of the stress hormones. These hormones are cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.

Whether it be an imaginable moment watching a scary movie. Or a moment where your company is cutting jobs and you don't know your future.  Your heart rate increases. Your lungs take in more oxygen, and blood flow increases.

Parts of your immune system become suppressed, which reduces your inflammatory response to pathogens and other foreign invaders. 

Weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight in general is a common problem associated with stress. Stress induced weight gain typically involves an increase in belly fat, which is the most dangerous fat for your body to accumulate as it increases your risk for cardiovascular disease.

The biggest issue I run into in coaching is gut issues that are stress induced. This is because your gut and your brain are in regular communication.

Embedded in the wall of your gut is your enteric nervous system (ENS), which works both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head.

This communication between your "two brains" runs both ways, and is the pathway for how foods affect your mood or why anxiety can make you sick to your stomach.

Stress is an inescapable part of life. It's important to understand that it is how you deal with stress that will determine whether it will translate into health problems later on.

Ultimately, what you do for stress relief is a personal choice. Your stress management techniques must appeal to you and, more importantly, work for you. If a round of kickboxing helps you get out your frustration, then do it. If meditation is more your speed, that's fine too.

There are some basic strategies to help you handle stress. One key strategy is to make sure you get adequate sleep, as sleep deprivation dramatically impairs your body’s ability to handle stress. Regular physical activity and a healthy diet are the foundational elements your body needs to bounce back from a stressful event.

Stress used to be a life saver. Stress is now an underlying source of many health issues. Take a deeper look into how you handle stress and make improvements where you see fit. Your life depends on it.