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passive action

Passive Action: Is It Holding You Back From Losing Weight?

Woman sitting at laptop

What is passive action?

If you are anything like me some of these passive actions will sound familiar:

  • Reading the latest diet books
  • Researching diets online
  • Spending time saving recipes on Pinterest
  • Researching meal prep ideas
  • Taking a weight loss class
  • Meeting with a nutritionist
  • Discussing diet “hacks” with friends

So what’s the problem?

There is nothing wrong with passive action in general. But sometimes we get stuck there and we feel like we are “doing the work” to lose weight, but we really haven’t started any forward motion. Change will happen when you shift from passive action to massive action.

To clarify, massive action doesn’t necessarily mean huge, scary changes. It just means moving outside your comfort zone and committing to a plan of action.

It means you have a willingness to learn from mistakes. When you are stuck in passive action you may be thinking that you are just learning how to do it perfectly. That if you can just find the right plan or the right “magic bullet” you will finally get it right. But the funny part is, we learn so much more from trying things and making mistakes and trying again.

What now?

If you’ve been stuck in passive action without taking any steps toward your goal I want to encourage you to take a risk. Choose a course of action, take the risk & push yourself towards your goal. There’s nothing wrong with learning and researching, but then you have to take action.

Plan to run into obstacles and then plan for how you will tackle them. Urges and cravings will come and threaten to derail you. Plan for them. They are normal. They provide you with an opportunity to learn. Plan for how you will handle failure and how you will respond.

If you need some ideas for action steps you can take the free 7 day Basics of Weight Loss email course. Sign up here.

eating out

Making Better Choices When Eating Out

Get the Free Dining Out Guide

menu at restaurant

It’s always going to be easier to eat healthfully when you prep your own food at home. However, sometimes it is fun to eat at a restaurant. My family and I generally eat out once a week. Sometimes I use that time as my weekly Joy Meal. But other times I want to make better choices and save my Joy Meal for another day.

If you have read my blogs you will know that I teach planning ahead as one of the key habits for staying on track with eating and losing weight. I recommend that when you are eating out you still plan ahead. Most restaurants have menus that you can access online to make your plan. I’ve prepared a Dining Out Guide that you can download with some tips for making better choices when eating out. I’ve included tips for most types of restaurants to help you keep on track with your goals! Grab your copy below.

food prep

Food Prep Can Help You Stick to Your Weight Loss Plan

food prep

One of the keys to sticking to your nutrition plan is food prep. It can sometimes feel that you just don’t have time to do food prep. However, once you get the process down it can save you even more time during the week. 

In an article on the website The Lean Green Bean, author Lindsay Livingston gives 5 steps to making it easier. Check out the full article to learn more. The first step lays the foundation to a successful food prep: Make a Plan!


This can be full recipes or simply a list of food components. It does not have to be every single thing you’re going to eat next week or even full meals. The goal is to just make a list of food items you could prep that will make your life easier. 

I usually keep my food prep really simple:

  • Hard boiled eggs – I use these to eat as a snack, make deviled eggs, make egg salad, or to add to a salad
  • Cut up raw veggies – I eat way more vegetables throughout the week if they are already prepped
  • Bacon – I cook bacon in the oven on a cookie sheet and use it to go with hard boiled eggs for a quick grab and go breakfast or to crumble on my salads
  • I also plan some meals with extra food to use for leftovers (make 2 lasagnas and freeze one, make extra taco stuff to make taco salads, etc.)

Do you food prep? Share your ideas in the comments.

How Lack of Sleep Makes Cravings Worse

types of overeating

One of the basic habits for successful, long term weight loss is getting enough sleep. I wrote about this previously. A new post on WebMD tells us that Sleepless Nights Could Make Pastries Hard to Resist.

After a night of lost sleep, the participants’ brain images showed increased activity in a circuit between the amygdala and hypothalamus, which is involved in food intake. This suggests sleep loss increased the desirability of food compared to non-food rewards, Peters said.

Previous findings have shown that hormonal changes after a sleepless night can affect appetite, but this study shows that changes occur in the brain as well. The good news is that paying attention to getting enough sleep can help us to achieve our weight loss goals. One of the best ways to improve your sleep is to have a nighttime routine for winding down and getting to bed on time.

What is your nighttime routine?

managing urges

Managing Urges to Overeat

managing urges

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

What are urges anyway?

Urges can be defined as desires that have been habituated. Managing urges can take different forms but one is more effective than others.

Sometimes I feel like my brain is like a toddler laying on the floor of the grocery store screaming for candy. This toddler brain got that way because every time I went to the store I got candy. My brain learned that shopping meant sweets. Once I started trying to lose weight my toddler brain still screamed for sweets every time I went shopping.

Urges tend come up during certain times, certain events, certain places and even when you are feeling particular emotions (sad, stressed, happy, etc.). Sometimes the urge is for a specific food or type of food – sweet, salty, both.

Once you have an urge there are 4 actions you can take: react, resist, distract or observe. Only one of these actions hold the key to overcoming overeating.

React

Reacting to an urge means you just give in. It fuels the habit and reinforces the habit cycle. The habit becomes even more ingrained over time.

Resist

Resisting an urge is using willpower to tell yourself no. This is like white-knuckling, gritting your teeth and fighting against it. It takes a great deal of energy and eventually it wears you down. You can’t recognize the habit cycle or learn anything from it when you are resisting.

Distract

Distracting yourself from an urge is when you busy yourself with something different. You may do other tasks like clean the house or you may decide to avoid certain situations all together. Many people distract themselves with other rewards. So they still give into the urge (and reinforce the urge) but they use something other than what they had the urge for. This is the reason that people gain weight when they are trying to quit smoking. They replace the urge to smoke with food.

Observe

Observing your urges means to be curious. Take a good look at the urge and allow it to be there without answering it.

This action can change everything for you. 

When you have an urge your toddler brain screams to let you know that it feels terrible. It tells you that resisting pizza (or whatever you are having an urge for) is unbearable. But if you take the time to tune into how your body is actually feeling you realize that you feel restless, or antsy. You realize that your brain is creating a whole lot more drama than you are actually physically feeling.

The urge itself is not an emergency but your thoughts about it make it feel like one. The discomfort is created by your mind screaming,

It’s not fair.

I need this.

It’s not that bad.

I’m starving.

Everybody else gets to.

I’ve been good all day.

I deserve this.

Use this as an opportunity to learn from the experience. To figure out the things that trigger your urges. To learn to sit with the urge and be curious but not give in. Do a thought download. You may be surprised by what you learn.

What does your toddler brain say during an urge?

Clean Up Your Thinking with a Daily Thought Download

thought downloadDoing a thought download is a practice that has helped me in so many areas of my life. I started doing it as a practice to stop overeating. But I have learned that is is simply a good practice to help get the jumbled thoughts out of my head. This helps me start my day with some intentional thinking so I can increase the likelihood of meeting the day’s goals. Some people call this practice a brain dump.

I find when I am thinking about a problem or a challenge my thoughts get all mixed up with my usual habitual thinking. It’s hard to recognize a problem thought that my brain has turned into an automatic thought pattern. Once I start peeling it all apart and writing it down I can begin to think better thoughts to change the outcomes. Sometimes I am surprised by the thoughts once I get them down on paper.

The Rules

There are no rules.

You cannot mess it up.

There is no right or wrong.

Getting Started

I recommend you do this on paper rather than typing it out. There is something powerful in the connection between your brain and your hand. Start writing whatever’s on your mind. Write for two to three minutes. More if you’re on a roll. Empty out your mind onto the paper.

If it’s just not going to happen on paper, you can type your thought downloads.

You can start with some prompts to get you started if you feel stuck.

Today is going to be a ______ kind of day.
Fill in the blank and then begin to write about why you think the day is going to go that way. Is there anything you can do to have a better day? There are some more prompts at the bottom of the post.

If you are working on stopping overeating you can write down what you ate yesterday. Are you happy with your choices? Why or why not? Did you struggle with anything in particular? What is your eating plan for today. Are there any challenges you’ll face that you can work through before you get to them?

Truly, you can write about anything. Just free write and see what comes.

I hope you’ll give this a try and see how things can change if you start your day by clearing out your thoughts on paper.

Sample prompts:

  • What actions can I take today (or tomorrow) to move me towards my goal?
  • I wish I understood why I …
  • What does self care mean to me?
  • What can I do today that will make me proud of myself?
  • Loving myself looks like…
  • Today I am determined to…
  • My ideal day includes…
  • When I overeat I really want …

This post is a part of a 30 day series for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. For more in this series click here for the main page with all the links.

 

types of overeating

Learn From Overeating So You Can Stop

types of overeatingThere are 4 types of eating. I have previously covered the concepts of fuel foods and joy foods. The other 2 types of eating are types of overeating. My coach calls them storm eating and fog eating. Other terms for them can be binge eating and mindless eating.

Fog Eating

One of the two types of overeating is called fog eating.

Fog eating is just not paying attention to your eating.

It may happen when you are eating while you are distracted – watching TV, working, scrolling on the internet, etc.

It may happen when you are taking bites, licks and and little tastes (BLTs) here and there. Tasting little bites while cooking, finishing off your child’s food while cleaning up the kitchen, eating the crumbs from the edge of the cake in the break room.

One way I know I’ve been fog eating when feel cheated at the end of the meal. Like I got there so fast I didn’t get to enjoy it.

Fog eating is sneaky. It feels like it shouldn’t matter. But at the end of the week we are surprised by the result on the scale because it felt like we worked so hard. But we forget about all the extra bites we took in when we weren’t hungry

When you become aware of when you are fog eating  you stand a chance of making a better choice.

This is about choices. You don’t need more willpower. you just need to recognize it and make a choice. Either eat it and realize this choice may delay the result you are going for. Or don’t eat it and learn to sit with the discomfort. It won’t kill you.

Storm Eating

The other of the two types of overeating is called storm eating.

Storm eating is a conscious choice to eat past satiety. There is usually strong emotion tied to storm eating such as anger or justification. It is intentional.

“I just want it.”

“I’m tired of saying no to myself.”

“I deserve this.”

Do not give binges power. Do not make them more than they are.

You may feel out of control but in reality you are just making a choice to continue.

You can make a different choice.

How to Learn to Stop Overeating

The first step to stop overeating is awareness. If you don’t realize you are fog eating or storm eating you will always wonder why you’re not losing weight. Before you can tackle the problem you have to recognize that you are doing it.

Start journaling when you have an overeat. Whether it was an intentional storm eat or an unintentional fog eat you can learn from it. The more overeats you recognize the faster you can learn from them.

Track the time of day – my hardest times are right when I get home from work and right before bed.

Write down triggers – are you tired, bored anxious, stressed?

Place – does it happen more at work, at home, on the couch, at the computer?

Note anything that you notice surrounding the event.

Don’t be afraid of writing this stuff down. The journaling can cause you a little discomfort in putting all this down on paper. But it can be the tool that helps you figure this all out and get better results for yourself.

Action Step

Grab a journal or a piece of paper and track what you eat today. Pay attention to times you notice that you’re eating when you’re not actually hungry. Write a bit about what you were feeling in those moments. Use it as a time of discovery.

This post is a part of a 30 day series for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. For more in this series click here for the main page with all the links.

 

Bringing the Joy Back to My Diet – Joy Food and 24-hour Planning

joy food

Photo by Herson Rodriguez on Unsplash

This past month or so I have implemented a new practice into my diet routine. I have been planning what my coach calls a Joy Meal. I have been very strict about what I eat for almost a full year now. In fact I wrote a post about why I don’t cheat on my diet. I still practice eating foods that I have learned are best for my body. I have lost 38 pounds and I have a long way to go. But I wanted to learn to practice planning for special foods. I wanted to learn the skill of eating a food that had previously been a problem for me and then getting right back on plan.

When I first heard about this practice it made me all sorts of nervous.

What if it made me gain weight?

What if I overate?

What if I totally blew my diet?

What if? What if? What if?

It made me aware that I still have some work to do related to my thoughts and beliefs about food.

How a Joy Meal Works

I plan my food 24 hours ahead of time. So joy food is not a last minute decision. I can’t just decide to eat pizza when the girls at the office decide to go out at the last minute. It has to be planned 24 hours ahead of time.

I only have one joy meal per week. I think long and hard about what I want for my joy food. It’s funny, I used to love sweets so much. But since I have stayed away from sugar for a year I crave savory foods for my joy food. My most recent joy meals have included nachos and pizza.

I have a joy meal every week. This gives me practice once a week with sticking to my plan, practicing constraint, and getting back on plan.

I still eat to a +2 on my hunger scale. This is not an excuse to overeat and stuff myself.

What I have learned from this practice

I don’t have to feel deprived. For example, one of my favorite desserts is cheesecake. Today at a meeting they served the most beautiful piece of cheesecake. I didn’t plan for it so I didn’t have any. But I don’t have to feel sorry for myself or feel like I can never have cheesecake like everyone else. I can plan for it on another day and enjoy the heck out of it without shame or guilt. The funny thing is, now that it’s not in front of me I don’t want it. I’d rather have nachos this week.

I am proud of myself for planning and following my plans. I’m proud of myself for making better choices to show up as my best self.

I can still lose weight while having a weekly joy eat.

I can eat delicious foods and stop before overeating.

I can be intentional about my food life. It doesn’t control me. I can always make choices.

It’s easier to stick to my daily plans when I have a joy meal to look forward to. It’s easier to say no to donuts in the break room at work when I know that I’m having something special later in the week.

This post is a part of a 30 day series for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. For more in this series click here for the main page with all the links.

Eat More Fuel Foods to Help You Feel Your Best

 

What are fuel foods?

Fuel foods provide your body with nutrients.

They give your body energy.

They sustain you.

Fresh foods that are less processed are great choices.

When you are planning what you will include in your nutrition plan look for foods that are less processed, full of nutrients, and provide you with energy instead of making you feel sluggish. Pay attention if what you eat makes you sleepy within a few hours. Look for foods that you can’t resist overeating and evaluate if there is a better choice.

Start adding more of these nutritious foods into your plan. Plan realistically and stick to your plan. Don’t make it complicated. As you go along you can level up your eating plan. As you learn which foods don’t make you feel your best you can begin to make better choices.

If there are foods that tend to cause you to overeat you can look at swapping it out for a better choice.

As you progress in your weight loss journey you can continue to level up your foods to more nutritious choices. As you do this you will notice that your taste buds will change to enjoy the healthier foods. You will have more energy and you will feel more satisfied.

Action step:

Look at what you ate over the last week. Are there foods that you could swap out this next week to help you get to your weight loss goal?

This post is a part of a 30 day series for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. For more in this series click here for the main page with all the links.

 

hunger scale

Using a Hunger Scale to Curb Mindless Eating

hunger scale

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Using a hunger scale to stop overeating

The hunger scale is a useful tool to help become more aware of the body’s signals for fuel. Once I started practicing using a hunger scale I realized how many times I was eating just because I felt like it was time to eat. I realized how often I had habits of putting bites in my mouth when I wasn’t hungry at all. A piece of cheese while waiting for dinner to be ready, a handful of nuts before bedtime, a morning snack when I was bored at work. Cleaning my plate even though I was full. It all adds up.

Tune In

Using the hunger scale can help you tune back into your body’s needs. It’s a way to eat when you get a little hungry and stop when your satisfied but not full. If you have fat to lose you have stored calories on your body. Allowing yourself to get a little hungry before you eat allows your body to tap into those fat stores and use them for energy. When you eat every two or three hours you don’t allow your body to use up those energy resources.

There  are many different versions of hunger scales you can find on the internet. This one is how I think of my own hunger scale.

hunger scale

Put it in Practice

Start listening to your own body’s signals. What does a -2 feel like for you? How does your body feel when you are satisfied at a +2 but not full. Journaling this at each meal can be helpful. The more you practice the sooner you will find the sweet spot. Your goal is to stop at satisfied. Satisfied is where your body is telling you it has had enough. I spent years thinking I needed to get to full each meal. This one tweak – stopping at satisfied – helped me break a months long plateau and has continued to help me make good choices.

When this is dialed in you will have more and more opportunities where you do not overeat. Be prepared to leave food behind. It’s OK to not eat the last few bites if you are satisfied. Even if it’s broccoli. Using this tool can help you learn to stop when having a treat. It can help you learn not to overeat when out to dinner. Some of the physical signs of “satisfied” I noticed were subtle. I tend to sigh when I am approaching satisfied. If I pay attention and stop a few bites later I find that it is perfect. If I am moving past “satisfied” I start picking out the good parts of my food. That’s a good signal from my body that I am no longer eating for fuel but for entertainment.

It takes a while to get it dialed in. Feel free to comment below with any questions you might have about the hunger scale.

This post is a part of a 30 day series for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. For more topics like this click here for the main page with all the links.

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