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It’s Unfair !
Today was a lesson in ‘practise what you preach’ for me.   I was feeling a pressured for time.  The last few days it seemed as if I had ‘lost’ a lot of time through no fault of my own … and by this afternoon I had started to get the ‘it’s not fair’, whiney mentality.  This is ironic because yesterday ‘It’s not fair’   was what I chose as the main topic of discussion at the weight loss group I coach.    We agreed that, ‘It’s not fair, some people can eat what they like and still keep trim’, is often not true and although we would like life to be fair, it actually often isn’t.  Most importantly, dwelling on ‘it’s unfair‘, is unhelpful to us when it comes to reaching our goals.

  1. It’s often untrue. If we really look at the lifestyle of trim people, we often find they don’t eat lots of high energy food all the time and they may be very active and / or younger than us.  There will be some exceptions to this, but not as many as it appears at first glance
  2. Life isn’t always fair.  Think of people with serious health problems through no fault of their own, people who are seriously hurt in accidents, victims of crime.  Then think of all the advantages of life you have that many don’t – that’s not fair.
  3.  It’s unhelpful.  Dwelling on ‘its’ unfair’ can lead to us feeling depressed or angry, and these emotions can lead to comfort eating or ‘I don’t care’ eating.

Today when I started to think ‘It’s not fair that my internet has had problems for days, leading me to spend hours trying to get it sorted out, and it’s not fair, that I should catch a virus which put me out of action for 24 hours just when I have so much I need to do ‘, I suddenly remembered what we had been discussing regarding ‘it’s not fair’ yesterday.   I realised that what applies to weight loss applies to other areas of our lives as well.

Life often isn’t fair. My problems pale in comparison to others, including someone I spoke to this afternoon who has been unwell for three weeks (and I am complaining about being unwell for 24 hours! )

Dwelling on the unfairness of the last few days isn’t helpful to me.  It could lead to me ‘throwing in the towel’ and not keeping track of my time carefully  … as in, ‘All my planning doesn’t work anyway, because things always happen to me, so why should I bother!’ ‘If instead, I think, ‘oh well, life is unfair at times, stuff happens to everyone sometimes’ I am more likely to pick myself up and carrying on as best I can.

I will treat myself with compassion because treating ourselves harshly doesn’t help at all.    It has been a little difficult for me the last few days, so it is understandable that I feel some frustration.

I am asking myself some questions you could ask yourself if you start to think ‘It’s unfair’.

  • What is the kindest thing I could do for myself at the present time?
  •   What have I learnt from this situation?
  • What is the most helpful action I could take right now?

Eating Mindfully  November 2011

   Recently I have been experimenting with giving the food I eat my full attention.   It makes sense to me, that if we are going to eat small or moderate portions of food we might as well get the maximum pleasure from them.   Here are a few ideas about how to give full attention to food while eating and get maximum enjoyment and satisfaction from the eating experience.

Would you like to be able to eat less food and yet enjoy it as much as if you were eating a larger quantity of food?

If your answer was ‘yes’ you may be interested in eating Mindfully.   Eating mindfully includes

  • Giving your full attention when you are eating to the food and the eating experience. .
  • Noticing how full you are and how much you eat
  • Being aware of how situations or emotions influence how  you eating

Studies  on Mindful eating are limited at this time,  but at least one shows that Mindful eating is associated with lower body mass index and some studies show that learning to eat mindfully encourages weight loss.  ‘Mindless’ eating (eating while distracted by other things), on the other hand has been shown increase the amount of food we eat.

  • Present the food you are going to eat attractively and in a way that makes a smaller amount of food appear larger e.g. slice up an apple and arrange the slices on a plate rather than just eating a whole apple.
  • Sit down at the table to eat rather than eating ‘ on the run’
  • Spend a moment or two really looking at the food you are going to eat and appreciate it.
  • Smell the food you are going to enjoy – some of the pleasure we get from food is from it’s smell.
  • Pay full attention to your food – rather than giving your attention to other things like watching TV or reading a book while you eat.
  • Now take time to eat the food bite by bite.  Don’t start getting the next forkful ready to eat while you are still eating the last – pay attention to the one in your mouth.  Be conscious of its flavour and texture.
  • As you eat, try and keep your thoughts on your food rather than thinking about things in the past or future.  Of course this isn’t easy to do and your mind will wander from time to time – when you notice this happening, just bring your attention back to the food.  Remind yourself that there is nothing you can do about those things right now – right now you are eating.  If you are scared you will forget something – write it down to come back to once you have finished eating.   ( remember it is normal for your mind to wander from time to time – don’t beat yourself for not doing it ‘perfectly’ )
  • To help keep your attention on the food you are eating ask yourself ‘ Do I like the taste of this food I am eating ? ‘What do I notice about it  ?  How hungry am I now?  Does the food get less delicious as the meal progresses?  Try eating with your non dominant hand or with chopsticks.
  • Of course you won’t be able to do this for every meal you eat, but every step towards mindful eating will help.   To start with you could just take one step, like turning off the TV while you eat, or allowing a little more time for your meal so that you don’t gulp it down as you head out the door.  Other ideas to introduce this into your life are to eat the first 3 bites of every meal mindfully, or to eat just one meal every day, or one meal each week mindfully.
  • An interesting experiment to try when you first start to think about eating mindfully is the ‘Raisin Eating Exercise ‘    There are many variations of this around so I will just outline one.

Mindful Eating Raisin Eating Exercise

You are going to use all your senses to make the most out of the experience of eating 3 raisins.

What is needed:  3 raisins, and a quiet time and place.

  • Place the three raisins on a plate
  • Imagine you have never seen a raisin before – look at them carefully.  Look at their colour, shape and surface texture.
  • Now pick one up and notice how it feels   – is it sticky?  soft?
  • Roll it around between your fingers close to your ear – does it make any sound?
  • Now raise it to your nose and smell it -does it have any smell?
  • Finally put the raisin in your mouth but do not bite it !  Roll it around with your tongue – what do you notice?
  • Now you can bite it , but just once …. roll it around with your tongue again , what do you notice ?
  • Now slowly chew it up – don’t swallow yet.  Notice how the texture changes.
  • Now consciously swallow it.
  • You have just eaten one raisin mindfully – now do the same with the following two raisins.
  • What was it like for you to eat these tiny raisins this slowly with so much interest and care?  Were you surprised at how much flavour one raisin could have?   How different was this from how you would normally eat raisins? Were your more satisfied with eating these three raisins than you would normally be?

A Boring way to lose Weight ?  October 2011

Do you vow that you won’t eat too much and  only eat healthy food ….. And then find yourself   that evening watching TV and eating whatever’s around that tastes good.  (Even though you had dinner only a short time ago)

Maybe it’s because you are bored.  Being bored is an unpleasant feeling and eating makes us feel better.  However it doesn’t deal with what is causing the boredom, and, when we stop eating we feel worse than before, because we now feel regretful and guilty for overeating.

Boredom is a signal that you need to make some changes in your life.

Tips to stop boredom eating

Ask yourself:  ‘Is this boredom the result of being temporarily in a situation that lacks challenge and novelty?   Or is it a more overall type of boredom, when you find most of life uninteresting? ‘

If we know there is a likelihood of a temporary ‘boring’ situations occurring we can:

(a) Avoid them (by planning do something else at this time) Think about when you commonly become bored.   What else could you do at these times?

(b) Adapt them    If you can’t avoid boring situations, how could you make these situations more interesting?  Even simple things like changing the place you sit  or making a ‘game’ out of boring activities like   truck drivers who count passing objects, have been found to help.

 (c) Increase your boredom threshold so you are less likely to become bored.   A low boredom threshold is linked to having a short attention span.   Practising mindfulness meditation, can, increase your attention span and therefore raise your boredom threshold.

When Life in general is boring, 

If the boredom you are feeling is more the ‘life in general is boring and nothing seems to satisfy’ type, the first thing to check would be that this is not the result of a medical issue.   Once that has been ruled out, you may find it helpful to spend some time considering your reason or purpose for living.     It is difficult to be interested in activities if you feel they have no purpose.

Thinking about what legacy you want to leave often helps clarify your purpose in life.  Imagine you are at your own funeral and your family and friends are talking about you.  What kind of person were you?  What achievements and contributions would you want them to remember you for? What difference did you make in people’s lives?

The answer to these questions will likely inspire you to make some changes in your life, which in turn will reduce boredom.   (And the eating that goes with it)

Support, when we are making changes is always helpful (maybe from a group facing similar challenges, a trusted friend or a coach).