Profuse Excuses

Do you have a profusion of excuses for why you aren’t succeeding?

I know I do!

The secret to success is eliminating those roadblocks to success.  The first step is to admit they’re there, the next step is to identify them, then you admit it’s possible to overcome them, then you find ways to do so.

Sounds like a lot of work, right?  Not so fast – the first three steps take maybe a minute. 

Let’s use weight loss for an example.  And my own excuses – I make a great guinea pig.  After all, I’ve been known to squeak loudly at opening refrigerator doors!  I know I won’t really lose weight until I figure out what my excuses are, my roadblocks to success.

A good way to do this is to find times where I failed in the past, figure out why I failed, and come up with strategies to avoid the same problems this time.  Usually, there’s an excuse behind everything.

“I can’t stay on a diet, I get too hungry.”

Okay, I got too hungry.  That was my roadblock.  So I design a plan with lots of low calorie foods so I can be constantly eating.  Or I stay low carb and high protein, because that naturally makes my hunger go away.  Excuse nullified.

“I don’t have time to work out.” 

There’s about half a million ways to sneak in exercise, as seen in this article for example, and they are all great excuse busters.

“I get bored.”

Great excuse as that has been the biggest roadblock to many of my weight loss efforts.  So I switch out my healthy snacks, I use music when I work out, I seek variety.

“I don’t have enough money to eat healthy food.”

Another really good excuse.  Good thing vegetables are cheap, so are eggs, and it costs less to cook at home!  Roadblock removed, excuse nullified.

Once I have my biggest excuses identified, I am free to think of creative strategies to stop them in their tracks.  Then all that’s left is to take action!  A well planned strategy to overcome your own difficulties can eliminate your excuses.  This idea works for many personal struggles.  Budget, working out, losing weight, improvements at work, playing with your kids, and really whatever you want to do.

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/profuse/

Wake Your Taste-Buds from the Snack-Trance

I struggle to lose weight.

One of my biggest barriers to doing that is – guess what?  Too many empty calories.

Too many calories, period.

I get into a “snack-trance” where I’m eating and not really noticing how much.

Thinking about this recently, I considered the difference between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week  Tuesday, I blew my calorie budget while I was at work, eating things like Red Vines, a muffin, a peppermint patty, and extra rice. I ate most of that mindlessly.  I was hungry when I got home.

Wednesday, I was much more on target.  I ate more vegetables, stayed on target, didn’t have a muffin even though I could have.  Guess what?  I was actually slightly less hungry when I got home.  Either way, though, I was still hungry when I got home, so why didn’t I pick better foods to eat when I was at work?  And why didn’t I notice what I was eating so I could actually enjoy it?

Some time I’ll write an article about this, but for the moment we’ll leave it at this: it’s really important to be able to tell whether your mind is making you hungry out of habit, or whether your body actually needs fuel.  Filling your body up with water rich, nutrient rich food will help reduce your cravings, make you feel fuller, and leave less room for unhealthy food.  Snacking can actually be good for you as it helps fight hunger and prevents blood sugar crashes.  You simply need to do it in a healthy way.

Just as there are lots of things holding us back from exercising every day, there are lots of things that can sabotage our desire to eat healthy foods in a healthy way.  So I’ve listed some common ones.  If you like, skip down to whatever catches your eye first.

The Basics:

The simpler, the better – the fewer ingredients you see on a package, the better.  Better yet, no package.

The easier, the better – keep your healthy snacks near you so you grab them when you’re hungry, and keep them simple so they’re easy to make.

The more water, the better – which is more filling and satisfying, a bunch of grapes, or the same grapes, made into raisins?

Make it easy to eat – prepare your snacks in batches, cut vegetables small, and invest in a few small containers to pack them in.

Be aware of high starch or high sugar fruits – especially if you are sensitive to them, it’s best to avoid grapes and bananas.  Better to have apples, berries, or melon.

Don’t get in a rut – just like with exercise, change it up.

Buy seasonally – it’s cheaper, and you can try out new foods.

Cut veggies, cheese, or other snacks into small pieces – you will eat more slowly.

I forget

Make your healthy snacks memorable.  Use colorful foods and containers.  Leave yourself notes.  Put healthy foods in the prime ares of the fridge, cupboard or pantry.  Make sure you bring your snacks with you by keeping them with something else you need – if this means you keep your keys in the fridge for a while, so be it!

The flavor is boring

Spices can be your best friend.  Cinnamon on your oatmeal.  Curry powder sprinkled on zucchini slices or carrot sticks.  A squeeze of lime on that chicken breast or baked fish.  If you are tired of boiled eggs, try them with yellow or spicy mustard.  Another trick is to have turkey pepperoni with your boiled eggs – with each bite, have a slice of pepperoni.  Low calorie flavorings like mustard and hot sauce are your allies.  If you don’t mind salt, soy sauce or tamari are great options too.  They add flavor without extra calories, and studies have shown that bolder flavors cause us to be more satisfied with less food.  Don’t forget lime and lemon juice, or flavored vinegars!

I can’t chew very well

There are ways to make healthy snacks easier to chew.  For instance, if you can’t eat carrot sticks, steam them lightly or microwave them in a closed container for 30-45 seconds.  Or cut them into “coins,” microwave lightly, and sprinkle with your favorite spices.

If you like them, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, cooked squash, cooked sweet potato, or lightly steamed cauliflower are all easy to chew.  Cut into small pieces and sprinkle with your favorite spices.

I’ve found that soaking nuts in water makes them a lot softer, too.

Nut butter on peeled apple slices is also good.

A shake made with frozen fruit and yogurt, and perhaps a scoop of protein powder, is very easy to eat and can be kept in a thermos.  Just keep track of what you put in it.

I need something easy to carry

Luckily, small Tupperware style containers are not only cheap, but easy to find too!  If you buy a few of them, they are pack-proof, convenient, easy to clean, and you save money in bags too.  I like the kind that are basically a snack cup with a lid that screws on.  I keep nuts, cut up veggies, cherries, cherry tomatoes, and any number of things in mine.  Another easy to carry snack is a meal bar, or even an orange or apple.  Oranges are especially good for their portability.  Protein shakes can be portable, just reuse your old drink bottles.  The wider the mouth, the better.

I don’t have much money

I feel you!  Vegetables are both cheap, and healthy, but often seen as boring or gross.  See the “Boring” section for ideas on adding interest to cheap ingredients.  If you always buy in season, and also buy larger containers, you will save money.  You will also save a lot if you do all the processing yourself.  Cut up your own celery sticks and carrot sticks, slice your own bell peppers.

Generally, the old fashioned version of a food is cheaper than the newer variety.  For example, ready to eat sweet peppers cost a lot more than plain bell peppers, which are easy to cut up.  If you crave nuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds can be bought in bulk, usually at low prices.  Hard boiled eggs are weight loss champions and cheap at the same time!  If cheap fruit is boring, jazz it up with home made dips and by sprinkling them with spices.  Or take a few kinds of cheap fruit and mix them for a salad.  Same with vegetables – several kinds of cheap vegetables can be a lot more exciting as a salad.

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I love junk food

So do I!  The best thing to do to help control cravings is to figure out what your cravings actually are.  Sure, potato chips are fatty, salty, crunchy and often irresistible.  But what is it that’s the greatest thing about them?  What do you miss the most if you don’t have them?  If it’s the crunchy, salty aspect, you might try lower fat crackers with bold flavor, pretzels, or some smoked almonds.  Watch your portions, of course, but this can help you make healthier choices.  If it’s the fat you crave, thin slices of hard cheese might do the trick.  Then you are getting calcium and protein too, as well as curbing your hunger.  If you yearn for ice cream, try Greek yogurt with fruit, frozen yogurt, or a fruit shake, perhaps even with a scoop of protein powder added.  If you just want to be able to nibble for as long as you want, air popped popcorn with spices can be a great thing.  Try popcorn with cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, nutritional yeast, parmesan powder, or dried oregano.  A little salt is fine too depending on your own needs.  In general, changing to healthier options isn’t hard if you are creative.  Swap out milk chocolate for dark, candy for berries, Ramen for bean thread noodles, and so on.  Healthier food will start tasting better, too.

I hate water

That’s pretty common.  Luckily, there are plenty of ways to jazz plain water up.  Here are some ideas:

Lime – squeezed into plain water, it’s pretty good.  You can also use lemon.

0 calorie drinks – be aware of what kinds of sweeteners are being used and how your body reacts to them.

Green Tea – it also comes in powder packets that you can stir in, giving you a host of benefits.

Iced Tea Mix – you can buy it in jars, unsweetened, and add your own flavors.

Juice – thin it out to give water flavor.

Seltzer – have seltzer instead of tonic water to help with that soda craving.

Cocoa powder – you can make a great cocoa with this, along with non fat milk and your favorite low calorie sweetener.  Add cinnamon.

Herbal Teas – experiment with different strengths.  Or, throw some oregano or mint leaves into plain water.

Get a Brita – if your water is cold and clean, you might like it better.

Infuse with Fruit – some water bottles have little baskets in them where you can put fruit to flavor your water.

Recipe for DIY energy drink:

Thin orange juice with water, half and half.  Sprinkle with salt.  Mix well.  This has much more potassium than the name brand sports drinks, tastes fine (especially when cold) and works well on hot days.

Snack Ideas

Cubes of hard cheese

Cubes of hard sausage, but watch your portions

Cut up lean chicken breast, baked or dry-fried

Nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds, or pumpkin seeds are lower in calories)

Hard boiled Egg (eat with mustard or turkey pepperoni)

Carrots – baby carrots, carrot sticks, raw or lightly steamed carrot coins, with or without spices

Cut up sweet potato – bake or microwave, flavoring optional

cauliflower – lightly steamed or raw

Bell peppers – get the colored ones for interest

Sweet Peppers – a nice, lightly flavored snack

Tomatoes – grape, cherry, or cut up tomatoes

Cherries – eat with dark chocolate if you’re craving candy

Tofu – cubes of Tofu are great with either soy sauce or mustard – or roll them in sesame seeds!

Celery – chunks or sticks, nut butter and raisins optional

Pickles – dill or garden pickles are great as a snack and have probiotic benefits too!

Dried Apricots – A good source of nutrients

Berries – any kind of berry, eaten fresh

Popcorn – air popped, sprinkled with your favorite kitchen spices

Fries – cut red potatoes or sweet potatoes into fry shapes, season, and bake.

Jerky – low in fat, high in protein.  Watch the salt and sugar.

Greek Yogurt – with fruit to sweeten

Rye crackers

Of course, this is just the beginning.  I hope you see a few on here that you haven’t tried before, and try them!  Or put a suggestion in the comments, and I’ll add it to the list.

 

Bonus Tip: DIY “weight loss surgery”

This trick works surprisingly well.  It’s pretty simple.  Keep your portions small and try to eat small meals as often as you can.  If you have to eat frequently, do that, but keep the portions at least dense.  So no huge bowls of pasta or Dagwood sized sandwiches.  Keep this up for a week or so.  Pretty soon your stomach will shrunk and you will feel uncomfortable when you eat larger portions.  You can stretch it back fairly quickly of course, but this can give you a valuable reminder that you’re eating more than you need, because you’ll feel full.  Combine this with drinking plenty of fluids, and eating more slowly so you notice your food, and it will help you tremendously!

Here’s a link to some thoughts I had about dieting and how we often fight against our inner selves. Don’t Lose Weight, Win Health!

Here’s my article about different forms of low cost, convenient exercise. Spice Up Your Workout

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/trance/

 

 

 

 

3 root causes behind food cravings and how to beat them

Is it possible to walk past a bakery without a craving? Even as a confirmed  doughnut addict, I’ve done it. You can too.

We’ve all had food cravings. They can really be murder when you’re on a diet. Dieting would be so much easier if the cravings were gone, wouldn’t it? Luckily, if we understand the causes of those cravings, we can do a lot to tame them.

I’ve found that cravings have three main causes.

 

Physical cravings – nutrient lack and blood sugar cycles

When the body doesn’t get what it needs, it triggers cravings. If a person continues to eat empty calories, the cravings will increase because it’s still not getting what it needs. This can develop into a vicious cycle and is really no fun to go through.

Also, if you eat a lot starches with no protein, your blood sugar will spike – then it will fall off rapidly, triggering more hunger.

Some foods also cause cravings by being too processed or having things in them that cause hunger signals in the body. Some people feel this effect from sugar free sweeteners, for instance.
Mental Cravings – Psychological addiction

A person can get used to eating certain things and really miss them when they are gone. That’s normal enough, but sometimes we can feel like our day isn’t complete without a certain food or drink. This can become a real problem if the food or drink is high calorie or bad for us. Think of the daily soda, the daily coffee with extra cream and sugar, the daily doughnut.
Emotional Cravings – self sabotage and emotional pitfalls

Sometimes we overeat because we are stressed. When we are depressed, we crave carbohydrates because they can affect our neurotransmitters and make us feel better. Sometimes we also fear success or don’t think we deserve to change ourselves for the better. This leads to self sabotage.
Do any of these phrases feel familiar? “I’ve earned this.” “I deserve this.” “One won’t hurt.” “One more won’t hurt.” “I’ve blown my diet for today anyway so I might as well have as much as I want.”

Knowing how cravings work, what can we do about them?
Plenty!
Fixes for Physical cravings:

Watch the types of things you eat. I’ve found that if I limit my starches in the morning and avoid sugar at the same time that I eat more protein, my day goes better and I don’t start the blood sugar spike/crash cycle. I don’t get hungry as often and I stay full longer.

Generally speaking, if you eat more protein than carbs, limit your starches, eat a variety of vegetables and legumes, get healthy fats, and avoid processed food, you will have fewer cravings. If your body is getting what it needs, it will have less reason to make you hungry at odd times.
Fixes for Mental cravings:

Fight habits with habits. Use the food craving as a reminder to have something else that’s similar, but better for you. You can help this along by making sure your healthier alternatives are made ahead and ready to grab, so it’s actually more work to get the bad stuff.

Replace your behaviors. Use short bursts of physical activity to give yoruself something to do. Maybe ten wall pushups and a glass of water, or a short walk, or a few jumping jacks in front of the TV. Distract yourself.

Don’t give up. If you slide, get back on plan as soon as possible. Chew gum to keep your mouth busy. Drink more water or tea. Don’t give up.
Fixes for Emotional cravings:

Look for the root cause of why you eat. If you eat because you are lonely, think about getting out more, volunteering, being more affectionate with your family. Journal to help clarify your thoughts. Be mindful of your emotions, watch what they do, and figure out if it’s food you really want, or if it’s something else.

When you do eat, do that mindfully too. Really experience the meal and enjoy it. Studies show that people who do that are more satisfied and eat less.

Meditation, hot baths, journaling and walking are all great ways to beat stress, and beat cravings along with them. Caring for a pet can help too.

Finally, work on your self talk. Practice positive thinking. That can include looking for solutions to problems instead of complaining, or stating things in a positive way instead of focusing on the absence of something. If you slip up and think negatively, redirect, forgive yourself, and move on.

Instead of “I need to lose weight,” you can say “I am gaining health.” Instead of “I’m a loser,” you can say “I’m becoming a winner.” Treat yourself like you would a valued friend.
Putting it all together

By understanding ourselves and our needs, setting small manageable goals and not giving up, success is nearly guaranteed. If you have a temporary setback, start again. You can always start again.

 

You can be successful in beating your cravings.

Success – step by step

 

It’s good to have goals.  Sometimes, no matter what we do, we fail at them and don’t think we can succeed. How does a person deal with that? We try and try and never get anywhere. This can happen with weight loss, creating a business, kicking a bad habit, writing a book. I’ve found that large goals are pretty hard to achieve unless you do it the right way.  I call this Incremental Success.  Here’s how.

 

Shift your Mindset

If you are going to succeed, it’s very important that you shift your mindset. You knew that, though, right? Easier said than done. The simplest way to do that is to take extra time out to focus on the successes you have made. Get better and better at doing that and soon it will be more natural to think of solutions before roadblocks, strategies instead of why you can’t do something.

 

Make Small Goals

Finally, keep your goals small. Keep your efforts incremental. That way you can notice and mentally celebrate whenever you achieve a step. Also notice those little non measurable aspects of success. In weight loss, for example, how it’s easier to get up off the floor after a few days of exercise, or maybe you are less winded after your walk.

 

Enjoy the Process

While you are not giving up and focusing on success, there’s a way to make it fun! Get interested in the process. The journey is as important as the destination. When you encounter a roadblock, you can almost make a game of thinking of ways around it. Get creative whenever possible. Accept that you will have failures and decide you will learn from them.

 

Don’t Give Up

Most successful people will agree that the main key to achieving goals is not giving up. That sounds incredibly obvious, but it’s also rather easy to do. Many of us give up by default. But persistence is the one thing that the greatest people in the world, past and present, share.

To continue with the weight loss example, here is how you might follow the incremental plan under this circumstance. It’s easy to see how this could translate to any long term goal.
First, shift your mindset and decide that you can lose weight. Focus on times in the past where you have shown self control. Prove to yourself in this way that it’s possible.

Next, instead of deciding “I am going to lose ten pounds” which seems like a reasonable goal, decide “I am going to cut 100 calories a day.” Or “I am going to take a fifteen minute walk every morning.”

Then, as you do this, notice all the small ways your new habit is benefiting you. Maybe you breathe a little easier. Maybe you feel a little better. Continue with new goals and keep them small.

Don’t give up. If you have a bad day, or even a lapse of a week, get back to it. Just stop giving up. Keep on doing it.

That is how you can achieve incremental success.

 

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

Sir Winston Churchill

 

“It is wonderful what great strides can be made when there is a resolute purpose behind them.”

Sir Winston Churchill

Don’t lose weight! Win Health!

I’m working on a weight loss program, based on a bunch of research, and it has me thinking.

I think sometimes our inner selves are freaked out by all the ‘loss words.’ Like “lose weight,” “drop pounds,” “lose fat,” etc. With all that losing, might it want to hold on to what it has? Focusing on loss might just sabotage our efforts.

I’ve heard it said that your inner self never hears negative modifiers, so you say ‘I’m not going to eat ice cream,” it thinks “I’m going to eat ice cream,” for example. I don’t know how true that is but I’ve been playing with the idea as a way of reframing my weight loss journey to be more positive.

For example, instead of focusing on losing weight, it might be helpful to think about how you are growing stronger. Instead of thinking about all the cookies you can’t have, you could think about how much better your body feels eating fresh fruit.

It’s so easy to be discouraged when the scale isn’t moving. But there are so many little wins you can focus on, when it comes to becoming healthier. There’s reduced pain, increased flexibility, increased strength, clothes fitting better, the nutrient rush from a healthy meal, the sense of accomplishment from taking care of yourself. This fitness journey isn’t about loss, it’s about winning!

How to win at losing weight

If you want to lose weight and gain health, there are three basic secrets to improve your mindset. Your healthy mindset is your most important ally in this journey. If you lose that, you will most definitely fail.


Set Goals – Know Why You Want It

There are two kinds of goals that are important – a big goal and many small ones. Your big goal is your vision. It’s what keeps you moving. It’s something you need to really, really want, because it is going to remind you of why you are doing all this, at times when you’re low and cravings are kicking your butt. For example, my big goal is that I want to be 150 pounds by age 40. I have 3 years to do it in. I have about 75 pounds to lose. I want to be fit, strong, able to bench a fair amount, and have awesome shoulders and arms. That’s the vision that keeps me going. Maybe your goal is a marathon, or to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Your small goals are critical too, they are the stepping stones that will get you to your big goal. For example, you might say “I will lose two pounds in two weeks.” Or “I will walk around the block without getting out of breath.” Every time you meet a goal, give yourself a pat on the back – that success will help you go farther.


Stay Positive – Focus on the Journey

If you can be mindful of all the little things there are to love about being healthy, and being on this journey, you will be more likely to continue. Even though weight can be slow to come off, there are a million good things that happen between each one pound mark. If you made a really tasty salad, savor every bite. If you feel good after walking, take a moment to enjoy it. If you feel your abs tighten more than usual, or notice a little more strength, celebrate it! Really focus on the good times.

If you learn to appreciate the process and each tiny victory, the lifelong changes you need to make will have a better chance to take hold.

Make it Easy for Yourself

The more convenient you can make your healthy habits, and the more inconvenient you can make your unhealthy ones, the better. So make sure your walking shoes are by the door, make sure you keep junk food out of the house, prepare healthy lunches on the weekend ahead of time, keep vegetables and nuts or whatever you want to use for snacks at hand. Where you can, buy colorful, appealing foods that attract the eye. Find exercise that you really enjoy, or at least that is tolerable. For instance, I like weight lifting so I do that more than I’ll run on a treadmill. Keep reminders of your goal around you, such as pictures of that race you want to run, or that trail you want to hike, or that bike you will buy when you meet your goal.

If you take a moment to make your healthy snacks and healthy activities more convenient, you will be less likely to grab junk food as you hurry to work.