Tag Archive | weight loss

MINDFUL EATING

If you are a compulsive eater, as I am, you know about mindless eating. Maybe you can’t not watch TV or be online while eating. Your hand and fork may be feeding you the next bite before you’ve quite swallowed the first, and you had no idea your hand did that. You might have no idea when you are full, and feel hungry when your body and mind are actually feeling something else (tired, sad, bored, mad and so on). How many times have you just caught the sight of something good — a beautiful dessert, or just a bag of M&Ms at the gas station — and found yourself not choosing to eat but just eating?

I’m teaching a class at the University of Vermont this semester titled MINDFUL EATING. Wonderful that the UVM Health Sciences Department is expanding its offerings to include mindfulness for health and wellbeing. And wonderful that college kids want to learn mindful eating!

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is being Here, Aware — aware inside ourselves of our body, breath, feelings & thoughts, and aware of our moment-by-moment perception of the outside world.  Here is always moving, like a river, so letting the mind ride on the flow of the breath is a lovely, basic mindfulness practice. And of course, we are distracted over and over again; in fact, the practice of mindfulness is the practice of waking up from distraction, beginning the practice again, ad infinitum. The key here is radical acceptance: whatever is here, it is what is Here right now, and it’s ok, just as it is. The other key is self-kindness and kindness toward whatever arises.

Happily, rich sources of learning about mindfulness abound.
Here are two faves:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc; http://www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html

And what is mindful eating? Mindful eating asks us to expand the focus of our awareness to all the ways our bodymind is involved in eating: sight, smell, taste, hands, mouth, tongue, throat, stomach. We see the food, smell it, take our time appreciating it before we put it in our mouth. We are aware of how hungry we are, and we can tell when we’ve had enough. We chew slowly, staying connected to body and breath while refraining from engaging in distractions, including the distraction of thinking. We swallow and notice the feeling of the food traveling down to the stomach. We rest and listen to the tummy and its response to being fed. We allow the space and rhythm of breathing to be a part of the practice.

PRACTICE is the key thing. We don’t “get it right” (say hello to the Inner Perfectionist); we don’t “do it wrong (say hello to the Inner Critic). We practice, we have an experience, breath by breath, we are aware and we learn.

Here are two of my favorite sources about mindful eating: http://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/;   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmtNPGZYWOI

Interested in learning Mindful Eating? Come in for a lesson anytime — or connect with me online on video!

May you learn to be peaceful about eating and enjoy your food.

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Using Hypnosis in Eating with Grace

Sylvia REALLY wanted to stop bingeing. She was a miracle: she’d survived an awful marriage and divorce, raised both her daughter and her granddaughter, and started exercising regularly after a heart attack scare. BUT she just loved sweets, and felt, given all she had been through, that she deserved “a little treat now and then.”

Her “little” treats ranged from eating a whole cheesecake in a weekend, to bags of candy at night, to daily pit stops at the candy shop near her job for a “little bag.”

Sylvia lapped up the learning about sugars, high glycemic index, sugar sensitivity syndrome (www.radiantrecovery.com) and she pretty quickly got the hang of eating a high protein breakfast and not skipping meals. And voila! She felt A LOT better and less “bingey.”

The after-dinner overeating continued though. In therapy, we uncovered two key roadblocks which grew out of difficult experiences in her past.

Sylvia grew up in a rural part of the state, quite poor. She had 7 siblings and you had to GRAB to get your hamburg off the plate in the middle of the table or somebody else would grab it. There were never seconds.

Whenever Sylvia ordered or bought food, whatever it was, it was the LARGE. “I don’t do MEDIUM or SMALL, never have and never will!” she asserted early on in our work together.

She was willing to try hypnosis. Just being able to relax that completely, that deeply, was “heaven.” She used the relaxation CD at night, and soon she could take a mini-break even at work and access that place of restoration.

Then we explored the LARGE. In hypnosis, Sylvia saw how profoundly the need for LARGE connected to her sense of food security: it felt like her very life depended on it. Using imagery, accessing her life-force desire to eat in ways that truly fed her life, Sylvia was able to UNHOOK her food security from LARGE and release this old core belief. Then her unconscious and her life force healing wisdom made connections with eating what felt right in her body, and having choices about what and when to eat. She visualized and felt and enacted different scenes that fit with this while in trance, and we anchored the new beliefs and confidence into her body/mind and in to the future.

The weekend after that session, Sylvia found a delicate teacup and saucer in an antique shop that made her feel “very special” and bought several “special” relaxation teas. She rarely eats after dinner; instead, she often has a special relaxing time with her own special self, just taking some time for herself, sipping her tea.

I ran into Sylvia last week (she graduated from therapy a few months ago). She’s keeping up “her prescription” of her healthy eating, exercise and self-care plan. She was beaming.

 

 NOW OFFERING HYPNOSIS TO SUPPORT YOUR EATING WITH GRACE PROGRAM & FOR WEIGHT LOSS

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Connect Eating with Grace with your long-distance friends and family.

ANGRY? WHO ME, ANGRY??

 

Therapists teach clients how to deal with anger in healthy ways. Supposedly. This therapist has all kinds of questions about anger and how to work with it constructively. Big Question: How do we REALLY heal our negative emotions, and not be overrun by them?

Melissa’s mother was a mean and critical alcoholic; warzone describes family meals when she was growing up. This mom picked apart everything Melissa said, wore, did. Every boyfriend she brought home, every interest she had, every detail about her  appearance. This mom sabotaged. Not surprising that Melissa turned to drugs, alcohol, sugar, and sex in her late teens and early 20s and had a couple of pregnancies out-of-wedlock….

Clean and sober over 30 years, but tired of her battle with weight, her sugar addiction, and done with dieting (“I just CAN’T do another diet, I just can’t!”), Melissa tried Eating with GraceTM groups and individual counseling. She has done wonderful work owning her sugar addiction and shifting many unhealthy self-care and relationship patterns….

And here comes the ANGER. Her husband complains that since menopause she’s irritable, quick to bite his head off. She owns it – and secretly, she likes it. Isn’t she allowed to speak her mind? At her age, can’t she finally stop being nice and just tell it like it is? Plus, he does go on and on.…

The psychotherapist in me appreciates her anger. Under the lid of depression, under the rage of addictive behaviors: healthy anger. We need our anger to fight the lions of our lives: cruelty, mistreatment, abuse, mockery, bullying, injustice, discrimination. As kids, we needed anger to train our parents about our individual needs and feelings. (We do train people how to treat us, you know!) And as modern women we are coached and praised for our righteous anger: women down through the centuries, heck, our own mothers and grandmothers, have suffered oppression and humiliation, and we are finally owning our power, or at least, somewhere inside, we want to begin to own it.

And how do we “work through” healthy anger? (Google just gave me 183 million results in 0.36 seconds for that phrase.)

A close colleague taught a weekly bioenergetics class for many years in Burlington in the 90s. Picture 5 or 6 women, all ages, circled around, learning to stand firm in their bodies, hold their ground, and say “NO” and “OFF MY BACK” and “STOP IT.”  Outloud, LOUD.  I was in my early 40s and this was the first time I had EVER expressed anger or said a firm NO.

Since then I’ve given myself lots of permission to dance my anger, draw my fury, and stand my ground in lots of situations. I know these healthy, expressive, body-centered anger practices have been very healing for me; my Inner Child now believes I will hold my ground and speak out for her. And I see how they empower and relieve my clients. How can I not want Melissa to have this empowerment and release?

Still, when Melissa left, I felt unfinished and off-center. Yes, I want her to appreciate and express the depth of her healthy anger, appreciate and own the pain of her childhood and teen years. Still….

We erupt AT others, often our loved ones. We nurse resentments, the story of “what he did” replaying, replaying. I know in my own case, I hold some very deep core beliefs about having been wronged; there is a feeling tone held in my lower abdomen and a way my breathing closes in associated with these core beliefs.

Mindfulness practice asks that we sit still with it, with whatever it is. We stay balanced in our posture, and rest our minds on the breathing, like riding a raft lifting up and down on gentle waves. The awareness, the mindfulness, is full of space – it witnesses whatever arises, without judgment. It just STAYS.

And of course it doesn’t stay.  Legs fidget. Ears are pulled out by traffic. Nose itches. Mind takes off, chasing likes and rearing up against dislikes.

The grace though, of our gift of mindfulness, is that the awareness wakes up. Ping! And here we are, simply sitting, witnessing again.

Now this can be pretty boring or ordinary a lot of the time. But sit down for mindfulness practice when you’re irritated or downright angry, and wow – it can get pretty hot!!

Pema Chodron, a beloved teacher of Buddhist meditation and author of wonderful books and CDs  [ http://pemachodronfoundation.org/  ] , encourages us to STAY right here, restraining the reactivity, witnessing, watching it build and ease, over and over. Staying really involves letting go of the storyline and staying connecting with the body sensations, breathing in, breathing out, experiencing what arises and passes IN THE BODY.

I find this teaching so inspiring, in that it totally trusts the wisdom of the bodymind to move from distress to balance, from confusion to clarity. Anger is pretty muddy water, and it really doesn’t taste that good to us when we are carrying it. By using mindfulness practice with our anger (or any difficult emotion), we become more aware of where we are hooked, what our habitual negative thought and story patterns are, and we grow BEYOND our storyline, beyond our wounds and conditioning.

The gift of this practice for me, over the years (yes, years), has been that SOMETIMES, when I’m about to be reactive with someone, I can pause, breathe, and not go there. And later, in meditation or journaling, I can get in touch with how that person or situation connects down into a core belief, or deeply habitual body feeling, that I’m conscious of BECAUSE I’ve sat with it mindfully. This is a taste of freedom. Wow. To have even a moment of freedom from deep, old habits of reacting….

The Buddha taught that the mind is already enlightened. The clouds just have to drift away.

Blessings on your cloud practice.

Take good care, Anya

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      maintaining your healthy self-care, one-day-at-a-time
 
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Does hypnosis really work for weight loss?

Now that I offer clinical hypnotherapy as part of the Eating with Grace program, I get this question all the time. The short answer is YES.

There are 2 parts to the longer answer. One: Hypnosis really works for many people around many issues. Two: Hypnosis taps into the deepest part of the mind, into our deep intention for health, wellbeing, safety, and into the will to live and keep living.

Is hypnosis a QUICK FIX for weight loss?

THE BIG PICTURE

Emily, 56, divorced her husband of 30 years and gained 30 lb in a year. Frightened by it, she called, asking “Is hypnosis effective for weight loss?”.

We chatted on the phone for a bit, and she really did not want to get back into therapy — “I”m done with that!” — she just wanted to lose the weight.  I proposed she come in for just one session so we could assess her situation and needs.

WHY HAVE YOU GAINED THE WEIGHT?

Emily thought the answer to that question was quite straightforward: “Now that Jack was out of the house, I was free to eat cookies and watch TV as much as I wanted!”

So is the answer just a diet? And is hypnosis helpful to tap into powerful motivation to diet and exercise? Could be. Worth researching (everything you try is your own personal research, after all; and LEARNING is the best of all outcomes!).

We covered a lot of ground in that first meeting. The Eating with Grace program is holistic and integrative, ie,  you are a physical-emotional-intellectual-spiritual being. Certainly Emily had been taking in too many calories, and at the end of the day they went straight into pounds. Certainly Emily had some feelings about the divorce and about living alone in a too-big house, and cookies and cable TV were her comforts.

WHAT SLIPS UNDER THE RADAR

Emily hadn’t even considered that the divorce had an impact on her mind and spirit. Sometimes we’re really tired out — “a divorce takes a lot out of you…” as Emily mused. There’s no energy to listen to the boredom, the emptiness; it’s easier to just fill it with food. The need to get re-engaged with life slipped under the radar until there was some new energy for it.

HOW HYPNOSIS HELPS

Emily and I agreed to work together for 5 sessions. She was really ready to get going on some weight loss, and the hypnosis (and self-hypnosis she did on her own) helped her motivation, and gave her some tools for cravings and weak moments.

What surprised Emily was using hypnosis to help her listen more deeply to herself and her own needs and feelings (part of the reason she got divorced!). She really wanted to start a new life for herself; but, understandably, she had some anxieties, and was easily overwhelmed and unable to just take baby stepping out steps.

How can hypnosis help you in knowing and listening to yourself more deeply? Maybe losing weight is an outcome of this listening?

Take good care,
Anya
NOW OFFERING HYPNOSIS & COACHING FOR:
      getting ready to lose the weight
      one-day-at-a-time doable weight loss
      maintaining your healthy self-care, one-day-at-a-time

 

 

Tidbits: sleep deprivation 101

Definition of sleep-deprived: getting less than six hours most nights 3 weeks in a row.  Not-enough-sleep can affect insulin levels and metabolism, and make it very hard to lose weight. Your adrenals start to believe life is an emergency.

I know, I know. There is just too much to do.

Don’t believe every thing you think — Bumper Sticker.

Getting enough good sleep is maybe the BEST thing you can do to take care of your own good self.

Take good care, Anya