30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 20: Practice Intuitive Eating

“Those who have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

– Edward Stanley

This week I admitted something uncomfortable to myself: I eat way too much sugar. I had a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone from McDonald’s on Monday, sour Skittles on Tuesday, frozen yogurt with chocolate chips and strawberries on Wednesday, and two Subway cookies on Thursday. I have a powerful sweet tooth, to put it mildly.

While every treat tasted wonderful in the moment, I was usually left feel tired and irritable. In 90-degree temperatures, I wasn’t fueling my body properly, and it began to revolt against me with breakouts. I made a decision to cut back my sugar intake and reclaim my health. To celebrate, I bought a huuuge carton of strawberries.

With a new dietary mindset in place, I was excited to see an article on intuitive eating in my inbox. Intuitive eating is simply listening to your body’s subtle signals and eating the proper foods in response to them. For example, if you crave a glass of water after you’ve just downed a super-salty carton of french fries, your body is telling you it needs to restore its electrolytes. Feeling grossly full after a big meal? That’s easy: You ate too much.

Today’s wisdom on healthful eating comes from Feel Good Tribe by way of Intuitive Eating. Here are 10 tips to help you eat more mindfully. Enjoy!

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1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.

3. Make Peace with Food Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.

4. Challenge the Food Police Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating under 1000 calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.

5. Respect Your Fullness Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough.”

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference. Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.

10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 19: 10 Ways to Recharge Your Motivation

I can’t resist sharing Marc and Angel’s posts. They’re so wise! This post on motivation was just what I needed for a dragging day.

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Achieving goals is not a matter of possibility, it’s a matter of motivating yourself to focus on the right things.  You know you should be doing something, but sometimes you just don’t feel like doing anything.  This stagnation can last a long time if you don’t head it off and take action.

Here are some daily motivation tricks that work for me:

1.  Get started!

This is by far the most important tip in this article, because in the end, all of the other tips in the world won’t make as much of a difference as this simple and timeless instruction: Sit down and start!  Do you feel the push-back of laziness?  There’s no better way to overcome it than to just start.  Reading more about motivation won’t help.  Reviewing your to-do lists won’t help.  Only doing actually helps get the momentum going.  And the only way to do something is to just start.

So stop thinking about how hard the task is going to be or how long it’s going to take you.  Just get started!  Not starting is failing.  Start telling yourself, “As soon as I start working, I’ll feel more motivated.”  Because once you start, you’ll realize it’s not nearly as hard as you thought it would be.  Read Getting Things Done.

2.  Find and use your positive voice.

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”  Be aware of your self-talk and stay positive.  Positive thinking can be amazingly powerful.

You have the choice to replace negative self-talk with a more encouraging and friendly voice.  A voice that will consider your goal as not just a possibility, but aprobability.  A voice that does not look externally for validation before taking action, but rather uses self-belief as its driving force.  A voice that realizes that any person who has ever achieved greatness had to do so against similar odds, and that all things are possible to those who commit to their vision.

Tell yourself over and over again that you can do it.  Try saying, “I want to go to the gym,” “I am going to nail this presentation,” “I am going to have a great day,” etc.  See what effect it has.  Persist with this kind of positivity and eventually you’ll feel better about whatever it is you want to get done, and you’ll even start to fool your unconscious into believing it’s true.

3.  Spend time with people who inspire you.

What better way to recharge yourself for improvement than spending time with someone who inspires you.  They are smart, driven and motivate you to be better.  Study their qualities.  Study their habits.  Surround yourself with them, talk to them, learn from them; they are already living and producing results at a level you admire and aspire to.  Compare stories, successes and failures.  Let their inner light guide you.

4.  Start a friendly competition.

You can really raise your motivation with some friendly competition.  We are all competitive in nature, take advantage of this by using it to fuel your motivation.  Find a co-worker or friend with similar goals and turn it into a competition or game.  The key is to find a way to make it fun.  This will make the task or project seem less like work and more like play; and it will also encourage you to avoid defeat.

While you’re at it, mutually support each other toward your goals.  Staying motivated on your own can be tough.  A partner in crime always helps

5.  Think about how far you have come.

You have made so much progress, you just don’t realize it.  Open your eyes and give yourself credit for all that you have accomplished.  Think about it.  Write down your past successes.  Consider using a journal to keep track of them.  You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised when you review your results.  It’s a great motivator to see how much you have improved and how far you have come.  You felt at the top of your game before and you can do it again.

And don’t forget to be patient.  The problem with many of us is that we expect quick results.  Think long term.  If you want to run a marathon, you won’t be able to do it overnight.  If you don’t see the results you want, don’t give up, give it time.  Think of your goal as a long-term journey, and your slump is just a little bump in the road.  In the mean time, be happy with your progress.  Read The Magic of Thinking Big.

6.  Embrace failure as a positive learning experience.

Ask yourself: What have I learned from this?  As Michael Jordan once said:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Do not judge failed attempts and mistakes as an indication of your future potential, but as part of the growth process.  Something does not have to end well for it to have been one of the most valuable experiences of a lifetime.  When times get tough, take a deep breath, and know that most great things come when you least expect it.  Being defeated is a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent.  And most people that gave up didn’t realize how close they were to success.  Push through!

7.  Review, refine and breakdown your goals.

Set and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.  These goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.  And don’t be afraid to set big S.M.A.R.T. goals either.  Establish goals that inspire you even if they seem slightly out of reach at the moment.  If you set goals that are too easy to achieve, you likely achieve far less than you are capable of.  As Les Brown said, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss you will still be standing among the stars.”

Break down your big S.M.A.R.T. goals into realistic, high impact tasks that you can track.  The thought of accomplishing a huge task can be overwhelming.  Try taking small bites at a time.  Break down your large tasks into mini goals.  Daily actions will yield greater benefits than biting off more than you can handle.  When you start to see your progress you’ll feel more alert and ready to tackle the next step.

For example, if you want to change careers, that goal may be driven by several smaller goals like going back to school, improving your networking skills, updating your resume or getting a new certification; and each of these smaller goals is then supported by even more granular sub-goals and associated daily tasks.  And it is these small daily tasks that, over time, drive and motivate larger achievement.

Also, make sure your goals are truly YOURS, and in line with your values.  If you’re striving for someone else’s goals you are never going to be motivated to pursue them.

8.  Let the whole world know what you’re up to.

When you’re trying to do something you’ve never done before, it can take a lot of concentration and effort, and life can get lonely pretty quickly.  To keep your motivation thriving, it’s important to let others know what you’re up to.  Don’t be shy!  Announce to the world that you are going to achieve a certain goal by a certain date.

Trap yourself.  None of us want to look bad in front of friends, family and co-workers.  If you’ve made a commitment to all of them, then the shame of saying you didn’t try will outweigh the effort of doing it.  Hold yourself accountable, don’t just commit once, but commit to giving progress updates to everyone at least once a week.

9.  Visualize your successful outcome in great detail.

Before we do anything our minds start seeing pictures of how everything might turn out.  Close your eyes and visualize how great the events will unfold – see yourself smiling, hear yourself being positive and feel how great you will feel doing the task, leading the project, playing the game, attending the meeting.  Form as clear a mental picture as possible.  Do this every morning for at least five minutes.  This is a surprisingly effective technique that will raise your motivation and enthusiasm, and get you into the right mood before you begin working each day.

Another great visualization / motivation technique is to post physical reminders all around you.  Post a picture of your goal in a place you’ll see every day.  Set it as your desktop wallpaper, or post it on your wall, refrigerator or bathroom mirror.  The idea is to keep your mind focused on end result and keep your excitement going.

10.  Spend some time every day working on a passion.

There are some things in life that you just have to do, even if you aren’t passionate about it – cleaning the house, paying bills, finishing that task for your boss, etc.  But the dilemma of doing these things is greatly reduced if you spend a decent amount of time each day working on something you love – something you’re truly passionate about.  Because subconsciously you know that regardless of what you’re doing, your passion is still part of your day.  Read The How of Happiness.

So make time to focus on doing something you really want to do.  Take an hour break and work on something that’s meaningful to you.  Engage yourself in a meaningful personal project, or pull the trigger on starting something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t yet had the resolve to do.  Do so, and your motivation and happiness will skyrocket.

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 18: You Can Do It!

I’ve never heard of this poem by Edgar A. Guest, but the next time I think I can’t succeed, I’ll remember it. Have faith in yourself and know that you can achieve whatever you desire!

 

It Couldn’t Be Done
By Edgar A. Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 17: 8 More Self-Esteem Tips

You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, ‘I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself.’

-Mariah Carey

In keeping with yesterday’s self-esteem theme, here are eight more tips to motivate you on your journey. Enjoy!

1. Be honest with yourself and others. You have a right to be here, so you don’t have to settle for things you know aren’t good for you. Be open about your feelings, but keep it positive. If you don’t agree with someone or something hurts you, say so. You’re not always going to be comfortable, but you have a right to express your thoughts honestly.

2. Speak your mind. This ties in with being honest with yourself and other people. If you overhear a conversation about the NBA Playoffs and you’re a raving basketball fan, jump in the discussion. Chances are people won’t think you’re crazy, and even if they do, that’s their opinion. Write to magazines and newspapers or leave comments on blog posts. You’ve got something to say, so let it out.

3. Take care of your body.  You may not like your belly, thighs, or other parts, but your body is all you have here on Earth. Instead of hating it, try appreciating it for what it does for you. Think about how your brain activates your myriad parts—your eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, legs, feet. Get annual checkups, enjoy exercise, and try to eat well. Don’t hurt yourself with excess alcohol, tobacco, or other substances. It’s not always easy, but your body appreciates when you treat it right.

4. Be specific about problems or mistakes. It’s easy to jump into global judgments when you make mistakes—”Oh my gosh, I’m so stupid” or “I can’t believe I messed that up”—but try to be very specific about your actions, and leave your self-worth out of it. Don’t berate yourself if you forget to pay a bill or you stutter during an important presentation. You’re human; mistakes are inevitable. Pinpoint exactly what you did and make effort to improve next time.

5. Live by your unique values, but don’t judge others for theirs. I grew up a Christian and was taught to put my faith in God first. As I got older—and moved from the ultra-conservative South to the liberal North—I realized that many people didn’t believe in anything beyond here and now. That was unsettling to me for a while. I became extremely judgmental and unloving toward people. But as I got older, I learned that people have their own unique viewpoints, beliefs, and experiences. Despite what the church teaches, it’s not fair to expect diverse people to adhere to a single standard. The best thing to do is stand by what you believe for yourself but understand that others have their own ways of living. Believe what you want for you—not anyone else—and remember that others have the same right.

6. Realize you’re too complex for a label. In my quest for healthy self-esteem, I applied global labels to myself. I’d tell myself I was a “great” or a “winner.” But when things went bad, I was a “loser” or “hopeless.” None of those labels is accurate. You have to realize you have positive, negative, and neutral attributes. You may volunteer at a nursing home (positive) but you tend to lie (negative) and you grew up in California (neutral). You’re neither good nor bad; you have the potential for both. So before you smack a “winner” or “loser” tag on your forehead, remember that you have positive, negative, and neutral aspects of yourself. All people and life itself have the same attributes. Also, remember that while you may have one thing you love and are good at (for me, it’s writing), you have many more gifts and talents, whether you’re aware of them or not. Being good—oe bad—at one thing does not define you.

7. Give up mind-reading. When you have low self-esteem, you spend most of social interactions calculating your every move and hoping people don’t think you look stupid. But I urge you to give up the psychic act—you can’t read anyone’s mind any more than he or she can read yours. So relax. Be yourself. Say what you want and remember that you can’t change how you’re perceived, but you can change how you present yourself.

8. Speak to yourself lovingly. An honest yet positive voice is crucial for your self-esteem. As mentioned in #4 (being specific), speak to yourself as you would a loved one. Give yourself compliments and constructive criticism. Would you tell someone you cared about that they were stupid, worthless, or ugly? Probably not. And people who do say those things have their own issues. So don’t beat yourself up. If your best friend made a mistake, you’d probably tell her that we all do. When our family members do negative things, we’re often upset but we love them unconditionally. So do the same for yourself. You, after all, are your own family member. Start loving yourself as one.

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 16: 5 Quick Self-Esteem Boosters

Having a low opinion of yourself is not “modesty”. It’s self-destruction. Holding your uniqueness in high regard is not “egotism”. It’s a necessary precondition to happiness and success. ~Bobbe Sommer

Some days we need a reminder that we’re important, that we matter, that we can feel good about ourselves regardless of our circumstances. Here a five self-esteem boosters to brighten your day.

1. Accept that you’re a human being. This means you need to grow, move, eat, respond to stimuli, breathe, and excrete. We get so caught up in the details of life—career decisions, money, clothes, beauty—that we forget we’re just human. Go back to the basics. Remember that as a human being, you’re inherently imperfect. You’re going to make mistakes, some big, some small. That’s just part of the human experience. So instead of beating yourself up about not doing X or Y perfectly, remember that you’re only human—just like everyone else.

2. Realize you have a right to be here. Just by being a human being, you are intrinsically valuable, just as you are. You are entitled to breathe the same air as anyone else, and you are entitled to accept and love yourself. Take that knowledge and act on it. Don’t hide or lower your voice. Despite what society deems worthy, all human beings are of equal worth. No one is better or worse than you, regardless of money, status, education, looks, or anything.

3. Understand your self-worth is internal, not external. You don’t have a self-esteem switch on your arm that people can flick up and down at their leisure. People are going to say or do things you don’t like. They’re going to have attitudes, be mean, or be selfish. But you can choose to believe you’re worthy no matter what people do. It’s your choice to be happy or sad. Likewise, external things—your hair and makeup, clothes, credit score, education level—are bonuses, but are NOT indicators of your worth. Consider your worth fixed in spite of what goes on outside of you.

4. Be present. You spend 100% of your time with yourself, so why not turn some of your energy on the people and things around you? Look at the smallest details of things. Observe colors, patterns, and shapes. Observe people—without judging—and take in all the similarities and differences. Also, ask questions. That’s the easiest way to avoid negative thinking and start a conversation.

5. Be bold. Since you’re valuable whether you succeed or fail, have fun trying new things. Dance however you want by yourself or with someone. Walk around smiling just because it makes you feel good. Wear what you want as a reflection of who you are. Take bass lessons, go kayaking, try an art class. Look for fun things that will enrich your life experience. Lying in bed all day gets old.

30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 14: What Are You Thankful For?

I am grateful for what I am and have.
My thanksgiving is perpetual…
O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches.
No run on my bank can drain it
for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

-Henry David Thoreau

The past few days have been a drag for me. With temperatures near 100, buses and trains running ridiculously slow, and my commute busting my wallet, I’ve been eager to finish each day and climb in my bed.

This over-it attitude, however, is distracting me from what’s going well in my life. For one, I’m interning at a magazine, a medium I’ve been obsessed with since I picked up an issue of Reader’s Digest at age 6. I also scored a writing contract with a magazine for teen girls, and I’m about to renew my freelance writing contract with a popular online company. I got all the money I need to finish my degree this fall. Plus, I’m blogging every day! When I think about all these awesome things, a few minutes waiting for the bus in the blazing heat doesn’t seem so bad.

I’m making a mental note of everything I’m grateful for and happy about today, because even when one area of my life isn’t going the way I’d like, there’s always something else to smile about. Food, hot water, and clothing are a start. There’s always a reason to feel good, even if it’s “just” the fact that you woke up today or had a comfortable place to sleep last night. Not everyone did.

If you focus on the positive things in your life, you’ll find that you have many reasons to be grateful. Don’t forget to express your gratitude and joy to the people who’ve helped you in one way or another, too. Today and always, choose to take stock of the awesome things going on in your world–it’s sure to be a long list.

PS: Check out these fun, free gratitude worksheets from Feel Good Tribe!