Green Mountain at Fox Run http://www.fitwoman.com Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:52:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.fitwoman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-icon-1-32x32.png Green Mountain at Fox Run http://www.fitwoman.com 32 32 5 Ways to Move Past Body Hatred http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/27/5-ways-to-move-past-body-hatred/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/27/5-ways-to-move-past-body-hatred/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2016 11:30:23 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=30106 Moving from Body Hatred to Body Neutrality Body weight obsession is a national pastime in this country – especially for women. As a result body-bashing – toward others and toward ourselves – can often become the lens from which self-worth is measured. Not good. These tips will help you to stop hating your body and to […]

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Moving from Body Hatred to Body Neutrality

Body weight obsession is a national pastime in this country – especially for women. As a result body-bashing – toward others and toward ourselves – can often become the lens from which self-worth is measured. Not good.

These tips will help you to stop hating your body and to start embracing what makes you unique and worthy of kindness and care.

how to stop hating your body

1. Practice Body Neutrality

Did you know that every single thought has the power to change our biochemistry? Yep.

We Literally Are What We Think

So, for someone who has a constant inner dialogue about oneself that errs on the side of being self-critical, this is crucial information.

This area of research is called neuroplasticity and it’s proving that our thoughts are quite powerful. If you want to stop body loathing, but body positivity feels laughable, Body Neutrality can help bridge that gap between body hatred and body love.

When you notice a negative thought pop into you head about your body, acknowledge it’s there, and then take a deep breath. We want to press the stop button on that thought – clear the mind and hopefully calm the body in that moment.

Now, choose a more neutral voice. What could you say to yourself that is less hateful and more neutral toward self?

This research provides a proven tool for dismantling the source of body loathing – which is our negative thinking. Like a muscle you will begin to strengthen your new way of thinking based on what you focus on. Try it – it works! 

2. Let The Good Stuff In

Do you accept compliments when they are given or do you dismiss them?  Accepting compliments cracks the door open for allowing in the positive instead of always focusing on the negative. A simple ‘thank you for saying that’ is enough to begin moving the needle from dismissing compliments to allowing them in.

In addition to learning to accept compliments when given, make a list of what YOU like about yourself – inside and out. Choose at least one thing. You can build from there when ready, but letting the good in is important for creating a more positive relationship with your body and Self.

3. Surround Yourself With Positive People

Sometimes we unintentionally surround ourselves with people who mirror our inner critic. Being around people who constantly focus on what they, we, or others are lacking is a serious downer. Think about who makes you feel good, accepted and appreciated for WHO YOU ARE NOW.

Who feels the most supportive in your life? Who ‘gets you’ and accepts and loves you no matter what? And just as important (if not more) – how can you begin being your own best friend and start showing compassion and acceptance toward yourself?

Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people – or at least showing our well-meaning loved ones on how to support us  – can help you along your path toward self-acceptance.

4. Tell Media Messages To “Talk to the Hand”

How much are you buying into media messages around the ‘ideal’ body shape and size? Comparing ourselves to an unattainable ‘ideal’ is crazy-making, not to mention fuel for the fire around not feeling ‘not good enough’. Whether it’s television, magazines, diet ads – we are inundated with the message that thinner is better –no matter the cost to one’s health.

The impact of living in a society that values body perfection for females doesn’t escape many women no matter their age, but instead of joining the crowd why not become more discriminating of what you read, watch and listen to? 

We do have some control around what we are exposed to, and because it’s natural to be influenced by what we tune into, why not work to tune out the media messages and tune into a voice that better values and supports who you are today.

5 Take Care Of The Body You Have Today

Hating our bodies doesn’t foster self-care, but instead elicits punitive measures such as dieting and “no pain/no gain” exercise as a misguided attempt to motivate change.Positive change, however, does not come from a place of hate but from a place of self-regard.

How can you shift away from the tunnel vision of weight loss (or changing your body in some way) to a broader vision of what it means to take care of yourself?

The former feels like ‘I need to fix myself’ while the latter feels like ‘I choose to care for myself’. Big difference. And you know what? Positive change only comes from the broader vision of self-care.  Self care involves being tuned into your body and mind – and then learning how to honor those cues, instead of ignoring them.

It’s as simple – and not as simple – as that, because if you have been shutting off from your needs then the practice of paying attention takes time. You will find, however, that this is where the magic happens when  it comes to lessening body hatred and increasing overall well-being.

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Overwhelmed with What to Eat for Dinner? Try This http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/22/overwhelmed-eat-dinner-try/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/22/overwhelmed-eat-dinner-try/#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45714 As part of our ongoing series introducing you to people/products/places we think you might find helpful in the quest to end struggles with eating and weight, we’re happy to introduce Leslie Schilling, MA, RDN, CSSD, CSCS, of Your Supper Solution. When my kids were home, consistently getting a meal on the table that I, Marsha, […]

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As part of our ongoing series introducing you to people/products/places we think you might find helpful in the quest to end struggles with eating and weight, we’re happy to introduce Leslie Schilling, MA, RDN, CSSD, CSCS, of Your Supper Solution.

When my kids were home, consistently getting a meal on the table that I, Marsha, a registered dietitian, was happy to serve was, well, challenging. Now that they’re off on their own, guess what? It’s still not that easy.

I’m the typical woman who has too much on her plate. Admittedly, I put it there myself. Still, I don’t want to give up anything. And adding something like meal planning to my to-do list isn’t always high on that list.

Yes, I’m like many of the women who come to Green Mountain at Fox Run. The difference is, I’m confident in my eating now (after getting off the diet bandwagon years ago) and many of you are still working to banish the diet mentality. That can make mealtimes even more complicated.

Enter Your Supper Solution (YSS) by the talented nutritionist Leslie Schilling. Leslie is a non-diet dietitian, completely tuned in to what we do here at Green Mountain.

YSS is a meal-planning service that gives you balanced dinner menus for every night of the week, planned by Leslie and delivered to your inbox on Friday nights, in time for weekend grocery shopping.

It not only helps you with coming up with what to eat, it also helps you get it on the table with shopping and cooking tips.

Here is what one of Leslie’s clients who was working on moving away from diets found valuable about YSS.

  • It provided feelings of safety. Because Leslie’s client was unsure about what to eat, YSS made her feel more comfortable trying different things that support her well-being. The variety kept her more satisfied.
  • The recipes are easy to follow. Clear and simple is the byword, along with lots of links to more info on how to cook something you might be unfamiliar with. Plus, shopping lists are included.
  • She’s more confident about cooking now. While eating out can be a lot of fun, it’s expensive and often we can’t get what we really want to eat. Learning how to cook for yourself is a great wellness booster.
  • Time saving tips reduced fast-food runs because of make-ahead ideas. There’s nothing like coming home at the end of a busy day to a meal ready and waiting for you — because you made it when you had more time.

Leslie tells you more about YSS here:

Special offer for readers of A Weight Lifted:  Get 50% off your first month with this coupon code — GMFRIENDS50.

Happy cooking…and eating!

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3 Steps to Help Stop Unwanted Weight Gain http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/20/stop-weight-gain/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/20/stop-weight-gain/#respond Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45711 Do you: Skip meals frequently, trying to keep your calorie intake in line, often missing breakfast and maybe lunch, only to overeat at night? Eat lightly at meals only to find yourself shortly thereafter searching the fridge? Feel guilty when you eat foods you think you shouldn’t? Feel guilty when you think you ate too […]

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Do you:
  • Skip meals frequently, trying to keep your calorie intake in line, often missing breakfast and maybe lunch, only to overeat at night?
  • Eat lightly at meals only to find yourself shortly thereafter searching the fridge?
  • Feel guilty when you eat foods you think you shouldn’t?
  • Feel guilty when you think you ate too much?

If so, you’re not alone. Whether you’re at the office or a cocktail party, you’ll probably find others who eat like you. It’s certainly typical of the woman we see at Green Mountain at Fox Run.

And typical of the woman who sees her weight climb year by year.

There are other reasons people gain weight, but the diet mentality is a major one for many women.   

Here are our steps for where to start to turn that scenario around.

It starts with learning how to eat. Because that can help you better decide what to eat for health and healthy weights…and then actually do it.

Step #1: Shift your food ‘tude.

Toss that forbidden food list – the one that invariably includes many of the foods you love but feel like you shouldn’t eat. Adopt an “all foods fit” philosophy and then refine it by staying in touch with how the foods you eat make you feel.

You may find that some foods don’t fit – you don’t like them or they don’t make you feel well. But your decision to not eat them will be yours, not someone else’s, and that can make all the difference.

For example, say you’ve spent a lot of time trying to avoid ice cream because you think it’s high in calories. But once you begin to eat it without worrying about calories, you discover you don’t like ice cream, at least not in the amounts you used to eat (yes, it does happen).

Voila! You naturally don’t eat as much of it because it doesn’t please you.


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Step #2: Eat regularly.

If you don’t like breakfast, okay. But be sure to eat when you get hungry. Most of us will find that we do get hungry within a few hours after waking.

The problem with going too long between meals – which generally means we are ignoring our hunger cues – is that we end up too hungry when we finally eat. Then we tend to eat a lot, followed by worry that we ate too much. And that can lead to eating even more out of feelings of failure or guilt.

Short circuit that worry by listening to your body’s cues for eating.

Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied. Sometimes you’ll eat more than at other times; that’s your body’s way of meeting its needs.

If you don’t have a good awareness of your cues, eat on schedule for a while (breakfast, lunch and dinner and a snack or two if necessary) and use this hunger scale. You can soon find that your body starts to clearly tell you when it needs food and when it has had enough.

If you binge eat, this may sound like a fantasy. See below.*

Step #3: Eat balanced.

Here’s where what to eat comes in.

You want a mix of different types of foods throughout the day – fruits and vegetables, protein foods, and grains/starchy foods. With some fun food thrown in there, too, if and when you want it.

But deciding what to eat is definitely the third step in this process.

Because just changing your attitude about food and starting to feed yourself regularly can often deliver much more immediate benefits than worrying whether you are eating white or whole grain flour, salads or steaks, apples or hot fudge sundaes.

That’s because steps 1 and 2 can make a world of difference in how you feel.

And they can set you up for eating more healthfully because your body can more accurately tell you what it needs. That can drive what you want.

Eating healthfully is about learning how to listen to your body and be aware of your thoughts about food and eating. Mindful eating is a great strategy for doing that.

Bottom line: Get the “how” in line and the “what” becomes much easier.

Actually, once the how is straightened out, the what often takes care of itself naturally. And that can be a big boost to achieving and maintaining your natural, healthy weight for the long run.

*If you are struggling with an eating disorder such as binge eating disorder, seek professional help. The approach to eating may include much of what I’ve said above but how you get to that point can differ.

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How ‘Living in the Gray’ Can Change the Way You Think About Food http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/15/change-way-think-food/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/15/change-way-think-food/#respond Thu, 15 Sep 2016 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45665 Let’s face it, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. We can be negative and critical of ourselves and of our attempts to change. We choose to believe that nothing will ever change, or that we will never change. Our many failed attempts to change have left us asking whether it is even worth bothering to […]

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Let’s face it, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy.

We can be negative and critical of ourselves and of our attempts to change. We choose to believe that nothing will ever change, or that we will never change.

Our many failed attempts to change have left us asking whether it is even worth bothering to engage in any more strategies that promise change. In other words, we’re done, and we quit.

This is common for many of the women who come to Green Mountain at Fox Run.

They share that they have tried everything, know everything there is to know about diets, nutrition, and fitness.

And on top of all the time studying every new diet that shows up in the media, most are very tired and worn out from the struggle with food, eating, diets, and the wild swings from food restriction to food abandon and bingeing.

So What’s the Answer?

“So what is it that women need to make it all work?” they ask. What is it about the health retreat and programming at Green Mountain at Fox Run that works, and has worked for more than 40 years?

Well, the program has several components, including mindful eating, mindful moving, and mindful living, that when combined with social support and camaraderie, lead to the beginnings of real and sustainable change for our participants.

When women begin to change their thinking, and practice greater self-kindness, self-encouragement, and self-compassion in the course of setting new personal challenges changes begin and transformation takes hold.

“All-or-nothing”, “black-or-white”, “success-or-failure” thinking and mindsets leave no room for middle ground. When women begin to venture into and live from the many “shades of gray” that exist between success at one end and failure at the other, they begin to breathe again.

 

Living in the Gray

So much of what we do here at Green Mountain is about assisting women toward new ways of thinking and new ways of perceiving what is possible for them on their unique journey.

Cognitive coaching involves supporting and encouraging participants to examine their inner self-talk and to begin cultivating new ways of speaking to themselves, new dialogues, new ways to celebrate even the smallest changes and successes.

When we live within and from the many “shades of gray” thinking instead of “black or white” thinking, we become more accepting of ourselves and of others, we begin to live and breathe more fully, and we recover a sense of joy and creativity that may have been stifled from years of negative internal self-talk, self-bullying, and feelings of unworthiness.

At Green Mountain, the social support from other women on their journey also allows for each woman to experience deeply that she is not alone.

The laughter and support found among our participants is one of the special components of our program that often leads to lifelong friendships and support in our new ways of thinking and of being.


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8 Cognitive Coaching Strategies to Support “Shades of Gray” Thinking:

  1. Embrace the Gray.

    Steer away from all-or-nothing, black-or-white thinking. There is so much more life to be lived in the gray, so embrace it and have fun!

  2. Cultivate the Positive.

    What’s good about your current circumstances? Practice finding appreciation for and gratitude in the moments of your daily life.

  3. Accept Compliments and Praise.

    When praise and compliments are offered, accept them graciously and wholeheartedly. Believe in the good things others share with you about you.

  4. Practice “Great, a new opportunity. I love it.”

    Keep yourself stimulated and positive. Embrace the moment and the opportunity to tackle a new challenge or embrace a new experience. Develop new capacities to manage things that may have been difficult in the past. “I got this!”

  5. Stay Open and Mindful of Your Changes.

    You are changing every single moment of every day. Keep moving yourself, your thoughts, your mind, your body, and your spirit in the direction you wish to go.

  6. Celebrate Your Changes.

    You’re always changing, even if only in tiny, small ways. Don’t miss an opportunity to notice! And then promptly celebrate. The momentum of change will create a ripple effect and before you know it, you will have accomplished meaningful personal change goals. And don’t forget to notice and celebrate the changes that others make on their journey. You never know when the smallest encouragement may have the biggest impact

  7. Keep Your Mind Open.

    Change will only come when you allow yourself to see yourself differently. Invite in good thoughts, good feelings, good information, good goals, and kind expectations.          

  8. Practice Flexibility.

    Life is always changing. You are changing every moment as well. Stay flexible, let go of rigid thoughts, ideas and beliefs that may have kept you stuck in the past.

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The Yoga Blog: What Does Namaste Mean? http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/13/beginner-yoga-namaste-mean/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/13/beginner-yoga-namaste-mean/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45661 I once attended a meditation class and at the end, the facilitator had all of us read aloud a paragraph of Sanskrit. I was so uncomfortable with this. I hesitated to repeat any words that I didn’t know the meaning of – I had no idea if I was pledging my life to some unknown […]

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I once attended a meditation class and at the end, the facilitator had all of us read aloud a paragraph of Sanskrit.

I was so uncomfortable with this. I hesitated to repeat any words that I didn’t know the meaning of – I had no idea if I was pledging my life to some unknown god, or making promises that I couldn’t keep.

At the completion of a yoga class, it is tradition that a yoga instructor and students will place their hands in prayer position and say “Namaste (pronounced na-ma-stay).”

But what does that really mean? Well, I’m glad you asked…

The Definition of Namaste

Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Therefore, namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.”

Namaste is an ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use in India, and especially on the trail in the Nepal Himalaya.

Translated roughly, it means “I bow to the God within you”, or “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you.”

Acknowledging the Divine in Others

It’s easy for me to acknowledge and respect the students who take my class, as I watch them gather the courage to step onto their yoga mat and trust me as an instructor to safely lead them as they try uncomfortable, andsometimes challenging, positions.

I like to end my classes with the translation: “The Divine in Me honors the Divine in You. Namaste.”

However, honoring the Divine in that crabby lady at the grocery checkout or the impatient guy who cut in front of my car can sometimes take a little more effort on my part.

Those instances can occasionally create more of an emotional knee-jerk reaction, but a regular yoga practice has helped me to take pause and allow me to come more often from a position of an observer.

Acknowledging the Divine in Me

Saying Namaste also gives me the opportunity to recognize my own Divinity and my own humanity, which includes both my struggles and successes.

As Kristin Neff writes in her book Self-Compassion, “By tapping into our inner well-springs of kindness, acknowledging the shared nature of our imperfect human condition, we can start to feel more secure, accepted and alive.” She also states that self-compassion not only helps your relationship with yourself, but also with others.

In Loving-Kindness Meditation, we take a moment to send love to ourselves, which in turn helps us love others better. The practice generally consists of silent repetitions of phrases like “may I be happy” or “may I be free from suffering”, and “may I be peaceful.”


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Taking It Off the Mat

So how can one experience Namaste off our yoga mat?

1. Notice self-talk.

Do you self-deprecate? Or do you speak about yourself in kind words?

Just notice, and begin to slowly switch any negativity into a more neutral or positive tone (and that includes your internal voice).

A great way to get out of that habit is to find three positive things for every negative thing you say about yourself.

2. Let go of judgment of yourself and others.  

If you catch yourself demanding perfection of yourself, try using the mantra “Everything is for my learning, upliftment, and growth.”

Also acknowledging that everyone is on their own journey, and everyone makes mistakes, so be kind to yourself and others.

3. Begin a mindfulness practice.

This can include meditation or mindful movement such as yoga and martial arts. I invite you to try the Loving-Kindness Meditation or check our other 5-minute Meditations videos.

4. Remember that we are all connected.

Whether you are looking at the theory of Six Degrees of Separation or knowing that we are all just living and breathing human beings on this earth, just doing the best we can.

If you notice yourself feeling isolated, take time to connect with friends or family, maybe broadening your social circle. It can help mark out a specific date in a monthly calendar to call or spend time with friends.
Coming from a mindset of Namaste, acknowledging the Divinity within myself, and others, can help reduce judgment, improve self-compassion, and help to recognize the interconnectedness of all human beings.

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“Dear Loved One, Sometimes It’ll Be The Whole Cake.” http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/08/sometimes-it-will-be-the-whole-cake/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/08/sometimes-it-will-be-the-whole-cake/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2016 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45598 An open letter to loved ones supporting women who struggle with eating. Dear Loved One, You might already know that I’m someone who has used food in excess to: cope with my difficult emotions, to try to meet unmet needs, to quiet shame, to mask fear, among other reasons. I’m not necessarily drinking large quantities […]

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An open letter to loved ones supporting women who struggle with eating.

Dear Loved One,

You might already know that I’m someone who has used food in excess to: cope with my difficult emotions, to try to meet unmet needs, to quiet shame, to mask fear, among other reasons.

I’m not necessarily drinking large quantities of alcohol, nor using illicit substances. Instead, I turn to eating in part to numb/distract/escape/avoid/stuff/fill/ emotions that I find unbearable.

I am not doing this because I’m being indulgent, or permissive, or lazy or because I don’t give a care. Quite the opposite. I’m doing this because I’m suffering. This is how inner pain manifests for me.

I know you love me and care about me and want the best for me. Often times the things you do and say show that…and sometimes they don’t.

With that in mind, I want to help you help me. I know this is what we all ultimately want. So here are some ways you can truly support me:

1. Trust me

I’m learning to trust myself and my body and so I’m making purposeful choices on what I choose to eat, how much and when. No foods are excluded.

I’m eating regularly, in a balanced way and mindfully, which allows all foods to be ‘back on the table’; that’s what balance is about. Think of it as: Mostly plants, and sometimes cake.

2. I’m looking at ALL measurements of success…not only the scale.

The scale is just a measurement of my gravitational pull to the earth. I might use it, but only in part, or I might not use it at all.

From a health perspective…medically speaking, that is, I can have healthy ‘numbers’ such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc., even if the number on the scale doesn’t match weight charts.

So besides the scale, I’m also going to look at:

    • My energy level
    • My positivity
    • My pace
    • How my clothes fit
    • My complexion
    • My confidence
    • My social interactions
    • My awareness and honoring of hunger/satiety cues
    • Etc
    • Etc
    • Etc

With that, please don’t ask about my weight – instead, it’s much more meaningful to ask how I feel.


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3. Sometimes when I eat, it’ll be the whole cake. Yeah, the whole cake.

Here’s why: again, I am someone who has used food in excess to bear the unbearable. So…if it’s the whole cake, know that shaming me will only perpetuate the problem.

Shame is already one of the ‘unbearables’ I need to cope with, so please don’t give me more.

Know that when it’s the whole cake, it’s not about me being permissive. I am not being indulgent. I am not, not caring. I AM SUFFERING.

If it’s the whole cake, something’s up. I don’t want to eat the whole cake. So when that happens, please support me by offering a hug, telling me you love me and letting me know you’re here when I need you.

Because I WILL NEED YOU. (Oh! And you might want to wait ‘til I’m done with the cake. ☺)

Thank you for supporting me.

Yours,

Me

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Been There, Done That: Christy Harrison on Quitting Diets and Body Hate http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/06/christy-harrison-quitting-diets/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/09/06/christy-harrison-quitting-diets/#respond Tue, 06 Sep 2016 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45594 Living a non-diet, body-accepting lifestyle can be a hard task when it seems everywhere you look, you’re told to live in fear of food and spend your life trying to change yourself to meet an unrealistic ideal. But meet Christy Harrison, RD, a rising voice in the media who sings a different song through her […]

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Living a non-diet, body-accepting lifestyle can be a hard task when it seems everywhere you look, you’re told to live in fear of food and spend your life trying to change yourself to meet an unrealistic ideal.

But meet Christy Harrison, RD, a rising voice in the media who sings a different song through her writing and podcasts. She’s also the creator of a new online intuitive eating course that can be just the thing for those of you struggling, to help you in your quest for a non-diet lifestyle.


Welcome to A Weight Lifted, Christy. Please tell our readers about your work and for whom you do it.

I work to help people make peace with food, whether that means overcoming disordered eating, getting off diets once and for all, or learning intuitive eating and a body-positive approach to nutrition.

That’s my overall mission, but I wear many hats to accomplish it! I have a nutrition therapy practice where I see clients individually; I recently launched an online course to help people put the principles of intuitive eating into practice; I write about food and nutrition for various publications; and I have a podcast called Food Psych, where I explore all of these issues with a range of awesome guests.

In terms of “typical” clients, my nutrition therapy clients and online course students are primarily women, but I’ve seen an increasing number of men in my practice over the years, too.

(I think the same is probably true of my podcast listeners, although I don’t have as many reliable statistics there.)

Most of my clients are working professionals who are very smart and successful in many areas of their lives, but feel out-of-control or defeated when it comes to food and body image issues.

Why were you drawn to do this work?

I was drawn to this work because (like so many of us in this field) I went through my own struggles with food and my body.

I developed an eating disorder in 2003, my last year of college, and it persisted for the majority of my 20s. For most of that time I wasn’t diagnosed—even though I did try to reach out for help on several occasions—because my doctors and therapists thought I didn’t “look like” I had an eating disorder.

I now know that kind of dismissal from medical providers is all too common, and of course you can’t actually tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them!

I got started on my winding path to recovery during my first career as a food journalist, which helped me overcome some of the most significant eating disorder behaviors. I soon carved out a niche reporting on nutrition, and that led me to go back to school to become a registered dietitian, which was another huge step forward.

I stopped believing the eating-disordered myths about food that I’d been holding onto for too long, and started understanding the science of nutrition.

I also discovered the book Intuitive Eating and finally found a great therapist to help me work through the underlying issues, and those were probably the biggest steps that finally helped me develop a healthy relationship with food.      

When I first started working in this area, most of my clients were dieters — they’d been on everything from very low calorie liquid diets to cabbage soup to following programs like Weight Watchers. Is that still the story you hear, or has it changed? If so, how?

It’s interesting because I definitely hear that story from clients today, but it’s usually in the subtext of what they’re saying—they’re not as overt about it.

Instead of using the words “diet” and “low-calorie,” they tend to say things like “clean eating” and “whole foods” and “wellness,” but they’re relating to these supposedly “healthy” practices exactly like a diet. They’re using them as a means of controlling their body size and “fixing” their perceived flaws, not as a means of self-care.     

Is there anything in your work that consistently “turns on the light” for the people you work with in regard to eating? Anything that they consistently say that reveals when you believe they are truly “getting it”?

I think it always depends on how ready a person is for change, because if someone is really deep in an eating disorder or the diet mentality, there aren’t always these clear “a-ha” moments.

But for the people who are ready, I find that the light bulb often goes off when I tell them that they need to eat regularly throughout the day—usually people’s bodies need fuel every 3-4 hours—and that the nighttime urges to binge or the “cravings” they’ve been experiencing are just their bodies expressing a normal need for fuel.

Once they start to shift their eating in this way, they consistently tell me that they feel so much better, have more energy, and no longer have the binges or the guilt. That’s usually the moment that tells me they’re “getting it.”  

What would you say caused the struggle with eating that your clients experience? Is it one thing in particular or lots of things?

I think it’s lots of things, but they pretty much all fall under the umbrella of not feeling good enough. There’s diet culture and media images, which make people feel that they don’t match up to the cultural “ideal” and need to change their bodies in order to be good enough.

That’s a huge one. There are also certain life experiences and family dynamics that make people feel like they’re not good enough as they are. And there are internal, biological factors—like anxiety, depression, or even high sensitivity to emotions and other stimuli—that make people feel like there’s something wrong with them.

All of these things can make people struggle with their eating, whether it’s by dieting to fight against their natural size, using food to cope with difficult feelings, or just losing touch with their internal hunger and satiety cues because of emotional turmoil.

What do you wish everyone knew about food, exercise and self-care?

I wish everyone knew that they were born with the capacity to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise—they just need to get back in touch with that capacity, and not get caught up in following external rules.

Of course when people have been fighting their bodies for a long time, these internal cues get dampened or out of whack, but they’re never totally extinguished. In time they can re-learn to rely on their internal cues, and to approach food and movement as means of self-care, and then they won’t need me or anyone else telling them what to eat.

My goal is to make myself obsolete by helping people reconnect to their own inner experts!

I also wish everyone knew that for people in larger bodies, weight loss is NOT necessary for health, and being stigmatized for one’s weight actually leads to worse health.

Despite what we’ve been led to believe, scientific research shows that people can be very healthy at the high end of the BMI chart and very unhealthy in the “normal” range, because weight is not actually a measure of health at all.

For people of all sizes, intuitive eating and moderate physical activity are far more likely to lead to good health than dieting, “watching what you eat,” or weight loss. (For anyone who’s interested in learning more, Linda Bacon’s book Health at Every Size is a great place to start.)    


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Tell us about your podcast Food Psych. What spurred you to create it? How long has it been going?

I started Food Psych in early 2013, and my original goal was to have guests explore their relationships with food in general, including their weird eating habits and any low-level disordered thinking around food.

At the time I was obsessed with podcasts like WTF with Marc Maron and You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes, where the hosts and guests opened up about their deepest thoughts and connected over experiences that had caused them shame.

It had been really healing for me to listen to those podcasts and start to relate to my own shame with more openness and humor, so I thought I could provide the same healing and de-stigmatizing experience for my listeners, specifically around food issues. And at the time no one was doing a podcast like that.

In the beginning I didn’t have the tight focus on eating disorder recovery, body positivity, and intuitive eating that I do today, but those topics ended up finding me, because in the process of doing the podcast I started to talk publicly about my own eating disorder history for the first time.

The whole project has been incredibly rewarding and healing for me, and I’ve gotten such a tremendous positive response from listeners saying that it’s helped them in ways I never even expected. I’m so grateful for that, and I hope to keep doing it for years to come!    

Tell us about your online intuitive eating course. What spurred you to create this? (You are a creative soul!)

Haha, yes! I’ve always loved to create things. I got the idea for the online course when I realized that my private practice was full, and I wouldn’t be able to add any more hours of individual counseling without over-working myself.

I knew I had to listen to my needs for self-care, but I wanted to help more people. I also had seen many clients in my practice who struggled with specific concepts in intuitive eating, and I’d developed effective ways to troubleshoot these issues that I wanted to share more widely.

So I decided to create a program that gave people access to the same tools and ideas they’d get from doing the one-on-one work with me, with some cool additions like audio meditations, visual infographics, and worksheets to help deepen their understanding of the principles. It was so fun to create these materials, and it’s been super rewarding to see people flourishing in the course!

I know you write for a lot of media outlets. Where else can our readers find you?

Right now my main outlet is Refinery29, which I love because they’ve managed to achieve mainstream success as a women’s lifestyle brand while never compromising their body-positive, anti-diet perspective.

I’ve been writing about food and nutrition for them for a couple years, and starting in mid-August I’ll be doing a regular column where I answer readers’ nutrition questions.

People can also find my work on Epicurious, AllRecipes, and BuzzFeed, to name a few recent ones, and I have links to many of my articles on my website, christyharrison.com.

What do you want our readers to know about you and the work you do?

I want everyone to know that total freedom around food is possible, and that body acceptance and positivity are attainable, whatever your size—you don’t have to live with constant shame about your eating habits or your body.

I want to help create a world that’s accepting of all bodies, just as we’ve become increasingly accepting of all the other natural forms of human diversity (although obviously there’s still a lot of work to do on that front).

I believe that body positivity is a social justice issue, and in my own way I’m definitely an activist.

But you don’t have to be strident about these issues or even care about social justice to reap the benefits of body positivity and intuitive eating—you just have to start offering more acceptance to yourself and commit to taking care of your body’s needs.

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8 Strategies for Achieving Work/Life Balance http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/31/mindfulness-for-work-life-balance/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/31/mindfulness-for-work-life-balance/#respond Wed, 31 Aug 2016 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45543 Finding balance in our busy lives is a challenge for most of us. In the most recent American Psychological Association publication, the Monitor on Psychology (July/August, 2016), I read an article intended for psychologists entitled “Seeking more balance” by Kirsten Weir. She wrote, “Even though psychologists are well-versed in the principles behind work-life balance, achieving […]

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Finding balance in our busy lives is a challenge for most of us.

In the most recent American Psychological Association publication, the Monitor on Psychology (July/August, 2016), I read an article intended for psychologists entitled “Seeking more balance” by Kirsten Weir.

She wrote, “Even though psychologists are well-versed in the principles behind work-life balance, achieving it personally can be a struggle.”  

I certainly have found that to be true for the majority of psychologists and health practitioners that I know. As with many of the women who come to Green Mountain at Fox Run, putting our own self-care at the top of our priorities can be a real struggle.

Indeed, work-life balance and burnout are common among even those of us who talk a lot with clients about the importance of self-care and putting our own health and well-being before the busyness of care-taking, our personal drive and ambition, and our need for productivity.

Many of us would agree with the author of the article, “…no one is as productive as they can be when they are exhausted and overworked”.

Incorporating Self-Care Into Busy Lives

But adding more tasks, even if they are self-care tasks, can be difficult to even consider if we are truly immersed in our go, go, go lifestyle.

A recommendation from Sandra Lewis, PsyD, from Montclair State University was that everyone “Find self-care strategies that you can integrate in rather than add on. Honor the smaller things.”  I think this is very good advice.

Sometimes self-care can be as simple as setting a timer and being sure to take a 5-minute break every 25 to 30 minutes, or it can be parking farther away from the office building to get a little extra walk in, or reaching out to a friend for a quick hello on your phone as you walk to your car at the end of the day.

Here at Green Mountain, one of our slogans is that “something is better than nothing,” which reflects how small self-care practices don’t have to be big add-ons to our day, but can be integrated into our existing routines.

It’s important to create meaningful opportunities for self-care every day.

In this article, Kirsten Weir offers several research-based strategies for better balance that are recommended by psychologists for psychologists.

Interestingly, these strategies are all taught here at Green Mountain at Fox Run in our Core Program, and I am reminded of the need to practice these strategies in my own daily life .

8 Strategies for Incorporating Self-Care Into Your Life

  1. Practice Mindfulness

    Be present in the very moment you are in, present without judgment. Practice 5 deep breaths throughout the day as Shiri, our clinical director and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction expert, recommends.

  2. Look for Silver Linings

    Find the positive or the gift in any situation (yes, this takes practice but it is so worthwhile to develop this capacity). I teach this practice in several of my classes including ‘Cultivating Gratitude’ and ‘Perspectives on Stress’.

  3. Draw from Positive Psychology

    Focus on what is right with you and with others instead of what is wrong.

  4. Take Advantage of Social Support

    You are loved and appreciated, so be mindful of that and reach out to those who support and care for you.

  5. Seek Out Good Supervisors

    Good bosses and supervisors provide opportunities to grow personally and professionally and help us find meaning in our daily work lives.

  6. Get Moving

    Get moving, and as Anne, our program director and Drums Alive instructor, will tell you, have fun with your movement and find joy and laughter when you move.

  7. Go Outside

    Get outside and go “Vermonting” as we call it here at Green Mountain at Fox Run. Lori, our yoga, meditation and Vermonting guru, is always encouraging everyone to get out into the woods, meadows, and back country roads for some natural beauty and fresh air.

  8. Make Your Life Meaningful

    Seek and pursue meaning over avoiding discomfort, as health psychologist Kelly McGonigal recommends in her book The Upside of Stress.

Sandra Lewis states that “People focus a lot on time management, but [she] think[s] in terms of personal energy management. If you have enough energy, you make better use of your time… In the same way we charge our cellphones, we need to charge ourselves.”

These strategies, practices, and wisdom ring true for psychologists and non-psychologists alike.

We all must honor our practices of self-care because our health and well-being are the most important and valuable assets that we have. Our health and well-being enable us to be better and more satisfying versions of ourselves, more balanced, joyful, and self-compassionate beings.

The world is a better place when we are practicing self-care every day, even if our practice is completed in very small ways.

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But Will I Lose Weight? Gaining Health Through Mindfulness http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/30/gaining-health-mindfulness/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/30/gaining-health-mindfulness/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45526 Weight loss. It’s a major concern for the vast majority of women who pass through our doors at Green Mountain. Honestly, with an estimated 45 million Americans dieting every year, it’s clearly a major concern for many people. Dieting has become a central part of our culture because society has trained us to believe that […]

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Weight loss. It’s a major concern for the vast majority of women who pass through our doors at Green Mountain.

Honestly, with an estimated 45 million Americans dieting every year, it’s clearly a major concern for many people. Dieting has become a central part of our culture because society has trained us to believe that the only path to health and happiness is through a thin body.

At Green Mountain, Our Philosophy Is A Little Different.

We help women achieve happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives through a non-diet, weight-neutral, mindfulness-based approach to eating, moving, and living.

We teach women that their health is not defined by a number on the scale, how to shift their focus from weight loss to wellness, and ultimately, how to truly care for themselves independent of what happens with their weight. Because if your self-care depends on what happens with your weight, it’s easy to get off track.

These messages are not always met without resistance – and we get it – it’s so counter to everything that we hear, see, and read about health, wellness, happiness, and success.

As our participants are contemplating this approach, I’m often asked the following:

  • But I want to lose weight. How will do that if I give up dieting?
  • But I need to lose weight. What if I do all of these things and my weight doesn’t change?

If you are wondering the same things, here is my response:

Every week in the first class I have with our newly arrived participants I ask, “How many people have ever lost weight, and permanently maintained that weight loss, by dieting?”

No one raises their hand – ever. That’s because greater than 95% of people who lose weight through dieting gain it back, and often more. For the vast majority of people, diets simply don’t, and won’t ever, work.

So, if we know that our typical approach doesn’t work, isn’t it at least worth considering a new approach?

One in which the number you see on the scale in the morning doesn’t determine what kind of day you are going to have. One in which, eating a piece of birthday cake doesn’t make you a bad person. One in which, you don’t need to obsess about every calorie, point, or fat gram. One in which, a change in weight is a natural outcome of the process, if a change in weight is what your body wants.

Introducing the New Approach: Mindful Eating.

It is not a set of rules that dictates our decisions about what, when, and how much to eat. It is not a list of good and bad foods. It is not a calorie goal.

Instead, it’s tuning into our hunger and satiety cues to determine when to eat and when to stop. It’s choosing foods that are nourishing to our bodies and satisfying to our taste buds. It’s slowing down, savoring each bite, and engaging all of our senses as we eat. Ultimately, it’s learning how to trust ourselves to be our own authority on our food choices.

And learning how to trust ourselves again is hard! Especially when we’ve spent years internalizing the notion that we can’t trust ourselves, or our bodies, to make decisions about food.

For many, scarier yet is the thought of not only not losing weight, but gaining weight if we let go of diets.

However, research shows that eating mindfully/intuitively, is not associated with significant weight gain and is actually associated lower body weights (1, 2). It supports what we at Green Mountain have observed for years – when we nourish ourselves adequately and care for our whole self, our bodies will find, and settle at, their natural healthy weights.

That said, weight loss isn’t always what our body wants. And just because our weight might be higher than what is conventionally considered “healthy” doesn’t mean we are, in fact, unhealthy.

Health is complex to define and is influenced by many factors – diet and physical activity are part of that but so are things like stress level, socioeconomic status, access to adequate healthcare, genetics, etc.

Moreover, weight loss, on its own, doesn’t necessarily improve health (3). And repeated weight loss and weight re-gain, known as weight cycling, can actually be harmful to overall health (4).

When we can shift our focus from weight loss to well-being we are better able to focus on meeting all of our needs – eating in a way that is satisfying and nourishing, moving our bodies in a way that feels good, and allowing ourselves to live our lives fully.

And, when we shift our eating practice away from one that is rigid and restrictive to one that honors our body, we see improvements in many important health parameters (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.), even in the absence of weight loss (1, 5).


Resources:

  1. Clifford D, Ozier A, Bundros J, Moore J, Kreiser A, Morris MN. Impact of non-diet approaches on attitudes, behaviors, and health outcomes: a systematic review. J Nutr Ed Beh. 2015;47(2):143-55.
  2. Camilleri GM, Méjean C, Bellisle F, Andreeva VA, Kesse‐Guyot E, Hercberg S, Péneau S. Intuitive eating is inversely associated with body weight status in the general population‐based NutriNet‐Santé study. Obes. 2016;24(5):1154-61.
  3. Tomiyama AJ, Ahlstrom B, Mann T. Long‐term Effects of Dieting: Is Weight Loss Related to Health?. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 2013;7(12):861-77.
  4. Montani JP, Schutz Y, Dulloo AG. Dieting and weight cycling as risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases: who is really at risk?.Obes Rev. 2015;16(S1):7-18.
  5. Schaefer JT, Magnuson AB. A review of interventions that promote eating by internal cues. J Am Diet Assoc. 2014;114(5):734-60.

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Will Pokémon Go Improve My Fitness Level? http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/25/will-pokemon-go-make-me-fit/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/25/will-pokemon-go-make-me-fit/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45346 My ears perked up when I heard Nat, one of our participants in the Young Women’s Program here at Green Mountain at Fox Run, excitedly exclaim she exceeded her Fitbit daily steps as a result of playing Pokémon Go. So naturally, I had to learn more! What Is Pokémon Go? Over 5 million players are using […]

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My ears perked up when I heard Nat, one of our participants in the Young Women’s Program here at Green Mountain at Fox Run, excitedly exclaim she exceeded her Fitbit daily steps as a result of playing Pokémon Go. So naturally, I had to learn more!

What Is Pokémon Go?

Over 5 million players are using the Nintendo Smartphone game by walking around their local neighborhoods and landmarks to collect Pokémon, gain Pokéballs, and stop at “Gyms” to battle one another for supremacy.

The app provides an augmented reality, which means it is a virtual reality – the camera uses your real life surroundings and creates a digital window into the Pokémon world.

If you run out of capture balls and can’t find more, you can purchase them, which is why this “free” app is now one of the largest grossing.

Will Pokémon Go Help Me Become Fitter?

“I grew up with the franchise,” said Christina, a twenty-something participant. “I think the nostalgia aspect appeals to my age-group.” She smiles, “I found myself walking into town looking for Pokéstops. It ended up being six miles. I would never have walked that far before!”  

Prior to downloading the app, exercise was never a priority for Christina. And I personally have seen her cardiovascular speed and endurance improve in the past few weeks on our hiking excursions.

With walking benefits including lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, it’s hard to imagine this game wouldn’t help you physically.

Personally I feel I’d receive more reduction of stress and sleep benefits by taking a hike in nature, listening to birds chirping, and mindfully moving my body, rather than being distracted by a game. But that’s me.

Is it dangerous?

Despite warnings, people aren’t paying attention to their surroundings, and the list of accidents is increasing: a multitude of injuries including broken ankles and bruised shins, a girl getting hit by a car while crossing the highway, two men crawling over a fence and falling down a cliff in California, and even robberies of unsuspecting players who were too distracted by the game.

Bottom line:

One of my concerns with people spending more time on their phone is they end up engaging less in interpersonal connections.

As a mother of two young children, I get concerned as to how technology will shape their relationships.

However, as a personal trainer, health coach and fitness enthusiast, I can’t help but find myself optimistic that this game will lead the way into a future of movement opportunities for those who otherwise would have been inactive.

Finding new and innovative ways to help others improve their health and fitness might be just what our society needs.

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Olympic Bodies: One Size Does NOT Fit ALL (Part 2) http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/23/olympic-bodies-one-size-not-fit-part-2/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/23/olympic-bodies-one-size-not-fit-part-2/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45479 In my last blog, we talked about the body shaming that goes on within Olympic competitions, the comparison, the judging, the disordered eating behavior, and the senselessness of it all. Why is it we all tend to compare ourselves to those we see on TV, on Facebook, on Instagram, in the mall, in the gym […]

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In my last blog, we talked about the body shaming that goes on within Olympic competitions, the comparison, the judging, the disordered eating behavior, and the senselessness of it all.

Why is it we all tend to compare ourselves to those we see on TV, on Facebook, on Instagram, in the mall, in the gym or on the covers of the magazines at the supermarket? Is it because:

  • The number on the scale isn’t right?
  • The size of the clothes we wear are too big?
  • People will talk about how fat we are behind our backs?
  • People will think we don’t deserve to eat that, wear that, go there?

Do you want to live another day, another month, another 10 years avoiding living your life due to what others are thinking? Or due to your beliefs about yourself?

If I continued to live in this way, this would be what my obituary might have said

Anne died thin. She never ate anything “bad”; she was a perfect size 2.

She was the fittest person I knew.

The End

Don’t we – don’t I – have more to offer than our size?

What about some other qualities like honesty, integrity, determination, care, compassion, humor, humility?

I want the  Olympians we watch on TV to  inspire us. To provide us with an inner sense of pride, with strength and energy.

It is not their job to look like a perfect size 2, to have 6% body fat, or to never eat a French fry. They have chosen to work, train and perform at an optimal level at whatever body weight helps them achieve just that.

Olympians range from 4’6”- over 7 feet, from 85 lbs or over 300 lbs…their weight works for them, not against them. If you asked a woman sprinter, do you want to be the thinnest sprinter on the track or the fastest runner, what do you think she would say?  

Is fat the worst thing you can be?

At Green Mountain, we know that one size does NOT fit all.

How do we make sense of all this madness that surrounds the look of our bodies and the self-hatred it sometimes holds?

We shine a light on all of this. We open up the mind and bring awareness to where all of these negative thoughts have come from. We light a LAMP:

L: Limit social media and social comparison.  

Social media can set in motion social comparisons that can be a driving factor in body dissatisfaction. It allows for appearance-based social comparison on an unprecedented scale, different from what we used to see with traditional media forms (Strong, et al 2015).

Activity: Notice every time you engage in social comparisons that don’t make you feel good about yourself. Tell yourself one thing that makes YOU unique, special, different.

A: Appreciate what your body CAN do.

Like climb stairs, pick up a baby, play on the floor with your pet?

Start to look at the activities that your body has allowed you to do, and will allow you to do now. Don’t wait until the number on the scale says something else. Do it today, do it now.

Activity: List 10 things your body can do.

M: Mindfulness of your thoughts and self-talk.

Becoming aware of that voice in your head that says you are not good enough. The voice that stops you from doing something you might otherwise do, the one that hates your body, your thighs, your belly. Begin a practice of Positive Self-Talk, send the negative voice on a permanent vacation.

Activity: Write a letter to yourself from that body part that you find yourself hating.

P: Practice self-compassion and self-kindness.

Begin to treat yourself like you would a friend. What you think about your body is based on thoughts and beliefs, thus is constantly changing.

Begin the practice of your body being your friend, not your foe.

If you don’t appreciate your body in this moment, you’ve lost the chance to start right now. . The moment is gone. Begin where you are and care for your body like a good gift (not the bad gift we throw away, re-gift, or let sit in the back of the closet), with respect and appreciation.

Activity: Find an affirmation, write it on a 3 cards. Put one on the bathroom mirror, another one in your wallet or purse and the third on the front door. Read it whenever you see it. If you can’t think of one right now, try one of these on for size:

  • I love and accept my body.
  • My body is strong and capable.
  • I am enough.
  • I honor my body today.
  • My body deserves respect.
  • One size does not fit all.

At Green Mountain, we help women become empowered by who they are, no matter what their size.

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Finding Peace in the Chaos of Back-to-School http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/18/finding-peace-chaos-back-school/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/18/finding-peace-chaos-back-school/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45341 As summer winds down and we ready ourselves for back-to-school season, whether ourselves or our children, stress often times grabs hold, sometimes long before we even enter the classroom. Lists of things to do, things to buy, anxieties over social and academic pressures… It all can feel quite overwhelming. As Einstein brilliantly put it: “Insanity […]

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As summer winds down and we ready ourselves for back-to-school season, whether ourselves or our children, stress often times grabs hold, sometimes long before we even enter the classroom.

Lists of things to do, things to buy, anxieties over social and academic pressures… It all can feel quite overwhelming.

As Einstein brilliantly put it: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So what if this school year, you entered into the chaos with a mindful perspective? And what if doing that allowed you do find the beauty in it?

A Mindful Approach to Back-to-School

Imagine sailing during a storm: You  might fight the winds, raising the sails against them in an effortless attempt to gain control. Or perhaps you drop all the sails, giving up the fight, letting the wind carry you where it wants. Another option is to work with the wind, using the sails to get you back to shore.

It’s in this way that we can step into the back-to-school “storm” – not fighting the chaos reactively; not giving up and relinquishing to it; but instead being aware of, noticing, and being mindful to get to where you need to go.

So with that in mind, here are some things to consider with common back-to-school stressors:

1. De-Clutter Your Mind

You might have a million things on your mind: form deadlines, bus schedules, class schedules, book lists, etc.

Take it out of your mind and put it on paper. In doing so, you ease the burden on your executive functioning that can get overwhelmed. Once it’s on paper, you don’t have to think about it all the time. Instead, you can look at the list and go through one at a time.

2. Refine Your List

Go through your (potentially long) list of things to do, to buy, forms to fill out, etc. and categorize it into HAVE-TO vs WANT-TO. You probably don’t have to get everything on the list done all at once.

3. One Thing At a Time

As you work on crossing items off the list, remember to do just one thing at a time. Multitasking only adds to overwhelmed feelings.

So when you’re filling out forms, just fill out the forms. Don’t stop to respond to a text, or make a phone call. It can wait. And doing so only keeps us feeling distracted.

Instead, put your full focused attention on the task at hand, whatever it might be, however long it might take to complete. There’s nothing like that feeling of crossing it off the list once it’s done.

4. Stop Comparing

Whether you’re a student, parent, or teacher, comparisons leave us feeling bad about ourselves and our progress.

Social media can not only contribute to comparisons and feeling low, but it’s also a distraction from your list.

Conversely, being mindful is about staying present, staying in the now. So stay aware of what YOU are doing and what YOU have done.

And if you do end up getting caught up in comparisons and start feeling low, practice a little self-compassion. Try this 5-minute self-compassion meditation inspired by self-compassion guru Dr. Kristen Neff.

5. Add Some Headspace

Replace a couple of the have-to’s with short mindfulness practices: a breathing exercise, a body scan, progressive muscle relaxation, etc.

It can be just 5 minutes a couple of times a day to bring some clarity to your mind and peace to combat the stress.

6. Create Daily Mindful Moments

Even in the midst of it all, we can still find moments of peace.

Creating these moments helps ease the burden on our executive functioning – the part of the brain the becomes overwhelmed with all of the “to-do’s”.

So maybe before you walk out the door to run yet another errand, or before you get out of the care to go shopping, or at any other transition point, create a pause.

Just stop what you’re doing for a minute. Literally one minute. Bring all of your attention to your body and do a quick scan of all your body parts starting at your toes and moving up to your head. This mindful check-in resets us.


So as you prepare to let go of the lazy days of summer and enter into this coming school year, remember that mindfulness can have its place in the chaos.

And perhaps in bringing it in, the chaos becomes that much less chaotic.

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Olympic Bodies: One Size Fits All? (Part One) http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/16/olympics-body-shaming/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/16/olympics-body-shaming/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2016 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45332 The Summer Olympics are ON! How do you spend your summer nights every four years when that familiar Olympic music starts filling up your living room? Do you stay up late? Plan your afternoon around a specific event or game? Do you admire the amazing athleticism? Cheer and clap as if they can hear you? […]

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The Summer Olympics are ON!

How do you spend your summer nights every four years when that familiar Olympic music starts filling up your living room? Do you stay up late? Plan your afternoon around a specific event or game? Do you admire the amazing athleticism? Cheer and clap as if they can hear you?

As a kid, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say: “I want to be in the Olympics”.  

So I watched them, year after year. The problem was, I wasn’t watching them with admiration and joy, I was watching with a critical eye.  Critical about myself. Critical about the fact that I wasn’t good enough, I couldn’t work hard enough, I didn’t have enough drive, and I certainly wasn’t thin enough.  

I  would bash and beat myself up because my body didn’t look like any of the athletes.

This Was the Start of My Own Comparison to Others

Not only did I compare myself to the Olympic athletes, noticing their perfect bodies, I compared myself to my teammates, my friends and strangers at the gym.    

I knew that I would never be able to look as good as any of them. I lacked the discipline, the willpower, strength and determination to be anything but plain old Anne.  

I wasn’t good enough.

Turns out that many Olympians actually feel the same way about their bodies. They comparing themselves to their competitors, feeling not good enough.  

Body Shaming in the Olympics

Trampoline Gymnast Rosie MacLennon stated, ”I remember warming up and looking at the other athletes, and looking at myself and feeling uncomfortable.”

All she could think about was how out of place she felt next to her smaller and thinner competitors, not about the competition at all.

It is no wonder, because the bodies of Olympic athletes get judged on how they look, as if one size fits all. Over the years we have heard comments about how the athletes look rather than how they perform Just this year we’ve heard

  • “She is built like a fire hydrant.”
  • “She has the body of two gymnasts put together.”
  • “ A diet before the Olympics would have been nice.”

I always thought the Olympics were about performance, not how you looked…

Body bashing from the sports commentators and the public DOWN-sizes the athletes hard work, dedication, accomplishment and performance, and PLUS-sizes physical traits that have a lot to do with natural genetics.  

These traits make them special and unique to the sport they compete in. (The powerful thighs, the strong glutes, the broad shoulders, the long legs.)

Did you know that many professional athletes and Olympians develop eating disorders as a result of their own body image issues? Or due to pressure from coaches? Or due to pressure from family and friends?

Just to name a few:

  • Gymnasts Cathy Rigby, Christy Henrich, Kathy Johnson and Nadia Comaneci
  • Swimmers Amanda Beard, Dagny Knutsen and Misty Hyman
  • Divers Brittney Viola and Megan Neyer
  • Ice skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Jamie Sliverstien

Eating disorders have taken some of these amazing athletes away from their sport completely.

When do we say enough is enough?

When do we start valuing our athletes on their talent, their hard work, determination and performance, not on the “LOOK” of their bodies? Not on the size of their thighs or how much they weigh?

Thinner Doesn’t Mean Better, Faster or Stronger

The strive for thinness as written by Stephen King in the book (and movie), “Thinner”:

“Actually this is Horrific. Girls and Women pausing life, counting calories and points, exercising obsessively, obsessing over food, pinching waists and thighs, comparing themselves to others, judging their bodies and avoiding activities they love because the number on the scale is too high.”

Isn’t it time to call a truce?

Tune into my next blog, where we take this horrific madness and start to make sense of it.  

We face this comparison, negative body image and obsession over weight every day here at Green Mountain. We know that one size does not fit all. I will share with you what we do.

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4 Steps to Quit Smoking Without Turning to Food http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/11/quit-smoking-without-turning-food/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/11/quit-smoking-without-turning-food/#comments Thu, 11 Aug 2016 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45202 Smoking cessation can be a very difficult ordeal. If it weren’t difficult enough to get through the physical addiction, a person also has to deal with the psychological component. Because smoking is an orally-based activity, it’s easy to turn to other forms of oral replacements, such as snacking or gum chewing, to gratify this desire […]

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Smoking cessation can be a very difficult ordeal. If it weren’t difficult enough to get through the physical addiction, a person also has to deal with the psychological component.

Because smoking is an orally-based activity, it’s easy to turn to other forms of oral replacements, such as snacking or gum chewing, to gratify this desire and make up for the satisfaction smoking may have provided.

Although chewing gum and snacking might be better alternatives to smoking, such replacements can also turn into distressing new, unhealthy, and mindless habits.

Mindfulness-Based Smoking Cessation

There are a lot of new approaches to smoking cessation that are based in mindfulness.

At the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Dr. Judson Brewer has developed innovative programs integrating mindfulness with addictions, one of which includes a smoking cessation program.

Instead of avoiding the addictive habit, these approaches focus on turning towards it (believe it or not).

The idea is to use the basis of mindfulness, or in other words, present-moment, non-judgmental awareness while engaging in the addictive habit, rather than trying to avoid it or replace it with something else.

Smoking Doesn’t Actually Relieve Stress

Before I explain how this process works, I want to emphasize something that’s important to remember when it comes to smoking and stress relief.

It has been long known that smoking doesn’t actually relieve stress. Instead smoking alleviates  withdrawal symptoms from nicotine. This relief from withdrawal feels like stress relief, though it’s actually withdrawal relief (American Psychologist; Parrott, A.C.; 1999).

But here’s the really interesting thought: in order to smoke, a person has to: 1) Stop everything they’re doing 2) Go outside and 3) Breathe deeply (true, they’re breathing smoke, but you get the point).

Imagine what it might be like if everyone: stopped everything, went outside and took deep breaths (without the smoke) for a few minutes, a few times a day. Hmmm. That sounds like meditation!

Cravings & Addictions

So back to mindfulness with addictive habits. Much like eating, smoking has a craving component.

Though addiction to a substance like nicotine is quite different from feelings of addiction to food, cravings are the common thread and they can feel quite strong sometimes.

Normally, we try to resist the craving or replace it. But does that work?

If I told you not to think about a pink elephant, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Of course…a pink elephant.

Similarly, when it comes to cravings, avoidance doesn’t necessarily help. Sometimes we even become afraid of cravings because we have ‘failed’ at resisting them so often. When craving hits, we go through avoidance, resistance, replacement…desperately trying not to think about that “pink elephant”.

So how about this instead: when cravings hit, consider taking a few minutes to simply watch it, knowing that after we watch it one of 3 things will happen: we won’t engage in our habit; we will engage in our habit; or eventually, we can engage in the habit in a different way.

In the meantime, we get to know ourselves a little more by watching this thing we call craving. And maybe by doing so, we’re a little less afraid of our habits.

Getting to Know Yourself Through Cravings

So what if we took a few minutes to tune into that craving thing and ask ourselves some questions:

  • What is that…this craving thing?
  • Where does it happen in my body?
  • What are the sensations of a craving?
  • What do the sensations feel like?
  • How strong are the sensations?
  • What happens when I watch them?
  • Do they change?
  • How long does it take for the sensations to change?

How do they change – are they stronger, weaker, different?

The idea isn’t to resist or replace, but instead add.

Adding to Addiction

That’s right, add. Being additive is an important part of the program here at Green Mountain at Fox Run and its Women’s Center for Binge and Emotional Eating.

Not only have we been focusing on a non-diet, mindfulness based approach to health for over 40 years, but we’re the only center in the nation that is a women’s only, emotional/binge eating-only center focusing on this notion of being additive as opposed to restrictive.

Instead of trying to take it away (whether the it is smoking or emotional eating), we’ll often suggest adding to it.

In this case, what we’re adding is mindfulness, a gentle, non-judgmental curiosity about cravings. Sometimes interesting discoveries are made when we get curious.

Remember your first science experiment as a child? When you poured vinegar into baking soda, then, with eager curiosity, watched what happened? We might similarly get to know ourselves in this way a little more. It’s a simple, effective way of looking at a part of ourselves and watching what happens.

Getting Curious & Introspective With R.A.I.N.

Getting curious in this way feels empowering, whether we’re looking at smoking habits, or eating behaviors.

The beauty is this concept is the same for smoking cessation as it is for eating behavior. So really, it can be a two-birds-one-stone approach with smoking cessation.

Here’s a step-by-step method for getting curious about cravings. We use a method known as R.A.I.N which was developed by Michele McDonald over 20 years ago.

Tara Brach, a Psychologist, teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community in Washington D.C. re-introduced it to the mindfulness community:

Recognize the craving.

Acknowledge it. In other words, looking at the ‘elephant’ (or craving in this case) and say “oh! There you are!”

Allow the craving to be there just as it is.

This is step 1 of curiosity. Instead of turning away from it, simply pause and allow all thoughts, feelings, and sensations to be there, so that we can move into…

Investigate all parts of the craving, with kindness.

Notice thoughts, feelings and sensations, as well as the level of intensity. Ask yourself the questions we mentioned above: What’s happening right now? How am I experiencing this in my body? Where is this happening in my body? Describe the sensations? How intense are they?

Note the experience.

This goes hand-in-hand with the ‘I’ making gentle, non-judgmental notes of what we investigated. In noting, we literally comment on the experience, but remember, the comments are NON-JUDGEMENTAL. For example, perhaps noting: tension, tightness, nervous, hot, intense, light, etc.

So the next time a craving hits for a cigarette or a snack (without feeling hungry), step into the R.A.I.N. and see what happens. You never know what you’ll discover.

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Healthy Recipe: Savory Summer Squash Cakes http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/09/healthy-recipe-summer-squash-cake/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/09/healthy-recipe-summer-squash-cake/#respond Tue, 09 Aug 2016 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45199 People have been using the concept of farm-to-table dating back to the early days of the human race when we first discovered how to cultivate the earth. Throughout time and history, at some point we got busy and fresh-farmed goods gave way to convenience foods. Many of us also got used to having what we […]

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People have been using the concept of farm-to-table dating back to the early days of the human race when we first discovered how to cultivate the earth.

Throughout time and history, at some point we got busy and fresh-farmed goods gave way to convenience foods. Many of us also got used to having what we want when we want it; hence food shipped from halfway around the world.

At Green Mountain at Fox Run we’re taught that we want to have a positive relationship with our food, to ask ourselves “how do I feel?”. And I believe knowing where your food comes from supports that positive relationship.

There’s nothing like know who grows and prepares your food. It adds an extra “flavor” to the enjoyment!

Now I know that this isn’t always possible, especially if you live in urban centers where the closest farm is miles away. But farmers’ markets are more popular these days. If you haven’t gone to one, try it! They’re tons of fun.

Also be sure to sign up for our Farm-to-Table experience the weekend of August 26th with our nutritionist Dana Notte and myself to learn more!

Mom’s Savory Summer Squash Cakes

Serves 4

Start to finish cook time, 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded carrot
  • 1 cup shredded summer squash
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oil of choice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Using a box grater, shred summer squash, zucchini, and carrots into a mixing bowl. Chop the thyme, rosemary and garlic add to the bowl as well, then finish with the eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a nonstick pan on medium heat and add oil. Divide the mixture into equal piles in the pan and sear about 2 minutes on each side. (Or until the cakes are golden brown.)
  4. Transfer to an oven and cook for 20 minutes or until tender.

These cakes are a great accompaniment with any protein, starchy vegetable or grain, but chef’s choice is a grilled steak with corn on the cob!

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23 Ideas to Make Exercise Feel Like PLAY Again http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/04/make-exercise-feel-like-play/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/04/make-exercise-feel-like-play/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2016 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45074 Are you tired of hearing yourself say things like? “I need to go for a run.” “I should go to the gym.” “I need to work out harder.” “I ought to exercise more.” Whatever happened to the days when we COULDN’T WAIT TO GET OUT AND PLAY!? Intervals, HITT training, CrossFit, bootcamp…harder, faster, more…. Enough! […]

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Are you tired of hearing yourself say things like?

  • “I need to go for a run.”
  • “I should go to the gym.”
  • “I need to work out harder.”
  • “I ought to exercise more.”

Whatever happened to the days when we COULDN’T WAIT TO GET OUT AND PLAY!?

Intervals, HITT training, CrossFit, bootcamp…harder, faster, more….

Enough!

Enough of the “have to’s”, “ought to’s”, “need to’s” and “should’s”.

I am ready for an era of PLAY, FUN, MOVING and GAMES.

Exercise doesn’t have to be about how hard, how long or how much you move your body. It can be about moving your body in ways that spark joy, laughter, fun and good feelings.

The Benefits of Exercising & Moving Your Body

We already know some of the benefits of moving your body, it:

  • Improves mood
  • Boosts energy
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Improves strength & cardiovascular health
  • Helps counter depression
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Boosts brain power

What would a less traditional, more enjoyable approach to moving your body look like?

Warning: What follows may sound like fun, it may sound like it is just for kids, it may even sound like every day, ordinary activity. But…

Know: All of these activities use: a variety of muscles, a wide range of motion, flexibility, agility, strength, and endurance. What’s important is that you choose wisely.

Proceed with care: Choose activities that speak to you. You can do them alone or with friends, indoors or outdoors. Some require equipment, others do not. They can be done for five minutes or three hours…as long as they remain fun and enjoyable!

Non-Traditional Exercises to Practice & Enjoy!

  1. Hula-Hooping
  2. Skipping and Galloping
  3. Jump Roping or Skip-its
  4. Hopscotch
  5. Play-Fit Circuit (a Green Mountain special combination of play activities, done in a circuit fashion for a minute each, such as jump rope, hula hoop, skipping, scarf throwing, hand clapping and more. Look for a play-fit video soon!)
  6. Medicine Ball Slams (great to release stress and tension)
  7. Roller Blading
  8. Climbing Walls
  9. Zip Lines
  10. Nature Circuit Walking (using trees, benches, curbs and more)
  11. Mall Walk Intervals
  12. Cleaning Dance Mix (alone, with friends, in celebration, down the street)
  13. Drumming fun (another Green Mountain hit!)
  14. Hoover Ball (Medicine ball Newcomb)
  15. Medicine Ball Hot Potato
  16. Medicine Ball Tennis
  17. Tennis Ball Scramble
  18. Hand Clapping Games (try them on one leg)
  19. Playground fun with Kids
  20. Foot Golf (Soccer and Golf Combo, my personal favorite)
  21. Disc Golf
  22. Water Running
  23. Water Drumming with Short Noodles

Simple Directions for More Play!

  • Try new places!  Playgrounds, beaches, ponds, pools, fields, tennis courts, malls, hills, and mountains.
  • Ask a friend (or friends) to join you.
  • Be open minded – expand your repertoire to keep things fun.
  • Be non-judgmental – do what you can. It’s not about how you look or compare to others.
  • Experiment. Search for new places to walk, recruit a family member to head to the playground with you, try an activity that feels a little outside your comfort zone.
  • Take a break from traditional exercise options.
  • Remember it is not about how long you go, how hard you play or how many calories you burn (what a thrill killer). It’s about moving your body the way it was meant to move: enjoy, with play, with laughter, and with excitement.

Reconnect with the I CAN’T WAIT TO GO OUT AND PLAY person that lives inside you!

For more information on any of the above games or circuits, please feel free to call or email us at info@fitwoman.com.

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I’m A Dietitian & Here’s Why I Choose to Eat Local Often, But Not Always http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/02/eat-local-often-not-always/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/08/02/eat-local-often-not-always/#comments Tue, 02 Aug 2016 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=45070 The farm-to-table movement is a growing trend that’s rapidly expanding to areas big and small, rural and urban, all across the States. A big part of this movement is buying and preparing foods grown and produced closer to home. For the most part, I consider myself to be an avid supporter of this movement. I […]

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The farm-to-table movement is a growing trend that’s rapidly expanding to areas big and small, rural and urban, all across the States. A big part of this movement is buying and preparing foods grown and produced closer to home.

For the most part, I consider myself to be an avid supporter of this movement. I believe that there are a lot of benefits to be had from supporting a more local food system. So, I make a conscious effort to shop as locally as I can, as often as possible.

But, often doesn’t mean always and I do still take some help from conventional foods purchased in regular grocery stores.

4 Reasons I (Often) Choose to Eat Local

There are a ton of benefits to sourcing foods closer to home! Including:

1. Taste.

At Green Mountain at Fox Run, we really emphasize the importance of eating good tasting food.

Eating delicious foods is critical to the satisfaction we feel from a meal. When we choose to eat foods grown closer to home, they’re picked at the peak of ripeness, which means that when they land on our dinner plates they’re super fresh.

Maybe one of the clearest examples is difference in the quality of a tomato I buy from my local farmer’s market, and the one that has travelled thousands of miles to get to the conventional grocery store.

The former is tender, juicy, and so delicious. The latter, often hard, mealy, and tasteless.

2. Nutritional Value.

Because local foods don’t have to travel nearly as far to get to us, their nutrient content may be superior to that same food that has travelled  thousands of miles, to supermarket shelf.

There are a few reasons why this might be the case, but they all have to do with travel time and distance:

  1. To prevent foods coming from far away from arriving rotten, they need to be picked before they reach peak ripeness so they have a longer shelf life. Nutrient profiles aren’t fully developed at this point which may yield a product with lower nutritional value.
  2. It takes time for foods to make the journey from the field to truck to store shelves, and finally onto our plate. As time passes, the nutrients in those fresh fruits and vegetables will begin to degrade.
  3. The elements to which the food is exposed along its journey (temperature, humidity, light, etc.) can also lead to nutrient degradation.

So, the fewer steps it takes to get that food from the farm to the table, the more nourishing the food will likely be.

3. Local Economy.

Buying food from your local farmstand or farmers’ market, or looking for local food products in your regular grocery store, keeps your money in your community.

So not only are you getting a fresher, tastier, and more nutritious product, you are supporting your fellow community members, too.

4. Connection.

When we buy food closer to home, we feel a stronger sense of connection to our food, to our community, and to our farmers.

There is something about eating local that brings people together and fosters a greater appreciation for our food, where it comes from, who grows it, and the people with whom we get to share it.

4 Reasons Why I Don’t Eat Exclusively Local

The reality for most of us though, is that eating exclusively local would be really, really challenging, if not impossible.

So, while I wholeheartedly support embracing local eating as is realistically possible, I don’t feel bad about taking some help from the regular supermarket. Here’s why:

1. Variety.

Most regions  are not conducive to growing all different types of foods. The fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein sources to which we’d have access would be significantly restricted if we limited ourselves to only foods that are grown within a 100-miles from our homes.

For me, that would mean saying so long to pineapple, avocado, and salmon – foods that, frankly, I enjoy  too much to give up.

And while the nutrient content of some foods might be greater when we buy them closer to home, if our option is getting a food from faraway places or not getting it at all, then we may be depriving ourselves of nutrients by intentionally avoiding this food all together.

I’m thinking Alaskan salmon – one of the best sources of heart health omega-3 fatty acids out there. Alaska is certainly not within a 100-mile radius of Vermont. But, without it, I’d have a hard time getting in my omega-3s.

2. Seasonality.

Most of us don’t live in climates that support year-round production of many foods, nor do  most of us have the time or know-how to put up our own food to last through the off season.

In order to meet our nutrient needs year-round, most of us will need to supplement with foods from far away. And, that is okay!

3. Convenience.

Life is busy and we don’t want to add eating to our list of stressors.

Sometimes running to the farmstand for a single cucumber isn’t practical – even if it is peak cucumber season. As soon as we start to create rigid rules about how we should be eating, the pleasure that we get from procuring, preparing, and eating our food is stripped away.

Life is unpredictable and flexibility is critical to maintaining our sanity.

4. Quantity.

If we were all to rely solely on local food to feed ourselves and our families, it’s quite possible that many locations would not be able to meet the demand.

This is especially true when crop yield is affected by too much, or not enough, rain during an already too short growing season. We are fortunate to live in a place with abundant access to food, where we know there will always be enough.


The takeaway: there are many benefits to buying local – but that doesn’t mean to embrace the farm-to-table movement you must buy exclusively local. Buy what you can, when you can, locally, and fill out the rest with foods we are fortunate enough to be able to access in the supermarket.

Want to learn more about farm-to-table eating and how you can make it a bigger part of your life?

Join us for a very special weekend intensive from August 25-28 where you’ll experience farm-to-table eating at its finest during the peak of the Vermont growing season. Learn More >>

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More to Love with Rachel Estapa http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/07/28/love-rachel-estapa/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/07/28/love-rachel-estapa/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=44013 Continuing our series featuring people whose work we love, and hope you will, too, today’s post is a Q&A with Rachel Estapa, owner and operator of the Boston-based More to Love®, focused on helping women learn to love and appreciate their bodies, no matter their size. Welcome to A Weight Lifted, Rachel! We’re so pleased […]

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Continuing our series featuring people whose work we love, and hope you will, too, today’s post is a Q&A with Rachel Estapa, owner and operator of the Boston-based More to Love®, focused on helping women learn to love and appreciate their bodies, no matter their size.

Welcome to A Weight Lifted, Rachel! We’re so pleased to feature your work here. Let’s start with finding out what exactly it is that you do!

More to Love (MTL) is devoted to teaching people — mainly larger-bodied women — the practice of body acceptance. And I say practice for a reason — this isn’t about figuring IT all out, it’s about learning how to listen to yourself.

I make it possible for people to explore their own body acceptance on a few levels — physically (as through my branded MTL Yoga classes), mentally (like my More to Love e-course), and through virtual and in-person communities of support.

Someone who is ready for MTL is a person ready to let go of the long-held belief that weight loss is a requirement of self-love.

They know that’s not working for them, they are tired of the cycle of self-loathing but they don’t know what to replace it with — this is where MTL enters. So when they arrive to me, they have an open attitude of “Ok, I am ready to try this and I trust Rachel to guide me along.”

Another theme for majority of More to Lovelies (as I call them) is a desire to trust themselves, their body, their heart – and move away from believing that they are a problem to be fixed.

Most people in MTL have a long, complex history with dieting, weight and shame around this, but they also know they have a deep potential to live more confidently – they just want to learn how to access that. And that’s what I do – I teach people how to listen and trust themselves by providing safe, responsible and effective programs to explore the relationship between their bodies and authentic selves.

Why were you drawn to this work?

I consider myself, above all else, a teacher and student of self-love.

But it certainly was not always like this – I did not set out with a clear mission to help people learn body acceptance and yoga. Instead, my life has been a series of connecting the dots of my own interests, strengths, skills and most important – lessons learn through struggles.

Growing up, weight was “my problem” and I felt ashamed that I couldn’t change my physical appearance, no matter how many diets I tried. But parallel to this was my interest in personal growth and development which lead me to become a trained life coach in my early twenties.

Armed with the skill of being able to sift through negative thinking and self-limiting habits, I turned my focus then onto my biggest hurdle: my relationship to my body. This is then where yoga and body acceptance entered into my life.

Yoga first became a practice of self-acceptance, of realizing that my body was remarkably peaceful if I just listened to it.

Through yoga, I learned to turn the volume down on critical self-talk and appreciate my body, no matter its size. This interest urged me to train at Kripalu Center because I knew I wanted to help make it possible for other people to trust their own body through yoga.

Through learning to help myself, I had the ability to help other people struggling with learning to love and appreciate their bodies and self.

So MTL is really the blending of my own learnings and interests paired with world-class professional training in coaching and yoga.

What are some of the common challenges your clients have around self-care?

I define self-care as simply making space in your life to just be, without an agenda.

This is very hard for me to do! Which is why I value it so much. Since we live in a scheduled world, making “self-care” feel like another to-do stresses people out. So when people come to my yoga classes or take my e-course, they all start with this: give yourself permission to just be with whatever comes up.

Because the truth to what prohibits people from prioritizing self-care is a belief that tending to yourself is indulgent and too scary to turn a light on to what has been considered the problem for so long.

It’s scary to take steps towards change, even when you know it’ll help, those first few steps are full of anxiety, uncertainly and fear. So I try to assure people they are welcome and safe in my company as they work through these issues.

This is also where the power of a community is most inspiring – no one in MTL is doing this work alone. I prioritize creating space for people to share and talk with one another about the complex “stuff” that comes up – especially when you start to push back against long-held beliefs about worth and self-image. A sense of togetherness fuels confidence – and that’s a great asset.

Is there anything in your work that consistently “turns on the light” for the people you work with in regard to self-care? Anything that they consistently say to you that lets you know that you’re making a difference?

The thread of similarities between all the More to Lovelies is they don’t feel so alone in their struggles, and they are awed at how soft and gentle their own inner voice is when they make space to listen to it.

People are inspired when they realize just how strong they really are! Words like “confidence”, “believe in myself”, and “appreciate the community support also come up a lot too. People walk away from my programs with a very deep appreciation for themselves just as they are, even the flaws, and that is priceless to someone who long thought they were a problem to be solved.

Would you say many of your clients struggle with eating and exercise – and, if so, what do you think caused that struggle?

The majority of those in MTL worry that their body as it is isn’t good enough, flexible, strong, etc – but they are ready to change believing that.

I credit this worry to years of fear, anxiety, societal pressures and also personal struggles with connecting weight loss and physical movements. Lots of people developed injuries, exhaustion, intimidation with movement.

Eating is also another HUGE factor, one I don’t dip too much into as I am not a trained person on eating issues, but I think nearly every MTL’ers on some level has struggled with eating and movement. Lots of shame gets connected here, lots of history, habits, identity, belief of self-worth. Food and movement is intimate so if you feel the core of you is flawed, then that would extend to the behaviors around eating and moving too.

What do you wish everyone knew about food, exercise and self care?

I wish everyone knew that it was a spectrum – that the only habits and awareness one needs to devote time to is understanding their own.

Comparison destroys self-love. I’ll say that again: Comparison destroys self-love.

So much of my work is devoted to helping people experience their OWN unique spectrum of health and wellness and understand it’s always changing, evolving – and that body acceptance isn’t about getting to a certain point and staying there, it’s about learning how to acknowledge, respond and tend to kindly to all the various sensations and moments that build our life.

Do you have any upcoming workshops or events you’d like our readers to know about?

I am the keynote speaker for the annual Boston Curvy Fashion Week Expo happening on Saturday, July 30. This fall, I am planning a few yoga workshops and day-retreats in the Boston area, so best to follow More to Love to get updates.

How can our readers find you?

My website is More to Love. You can find out about my weekly More to Love Yoga classes in the Boston area. All are welcome. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.

We hope those of you in the Boston area can find your way to Rachel to take advantage of the tremendous support she has to offer!

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The Great Green Mountain Detox? http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/07/26/detox/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/07/26/detox/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=43573 Wait. Green Mountain, the pioneering NON-DIET place is recommending a DETOX? We are surrounded by detox plans—on the covers of magazines and newspapers, popping up on Facebook and websites. Sometimes, they even get their own TV infomercial slot. And they all say the same thing. They’re going to make you feel great and look better. […]

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Wait. Green Mountain, the pioneering NON-DIET place is recommending a DETOX?

We are surrounded by detox plans—on the covers of magazines and newspapers, popping up on Facebook and websites. Sometimes, they even get their own TV infomercial slot. And they all say the same thing. They’re going to make you feel great and look better.

At Green Mountain, we believe there are no foods you cannot have, and we don’t classify foods as ‘detoxifying’. But we do have a great Detox Plan that can help you live a happier and healthier life.

A different kind of Detox Plan

Let’s take a look at 3 toxic things, and take action:

The GREAT GREEN MOUNTAIN DETOX

  1. Fire the judge. That judge that lives inside all of our heads, the one that judges your every move. Judges what you eat or don’t eat, judges your activities, your body, and your thoughts, then makes sure to tell you how you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or thin enough. It is time to terminate this judge for good. This judge has made enough money off of you to retire nicely in an upscale Florida neighborhood. Say goodbye. It is time to detox from this harsh judgment of yourself.
  1. Cut out comparisons. The constant wishes…I wish I looked like that, had that body, that lifestyle, could eat like that, was as strong as that…and on and on and on. Comparisons are a direct blow to your self-esteem. They knock you down and deteriorate your body image and self-confidence. Remember this: No one in the world has your unique gene set, and no one has lived your experiences in your You are the only one who can play the lead in the story of YOU. This is the moment to detox from comparisons, step into yourself and play hard AS YOU.
  1. Nix the negative self talk. How many years have you heard that negative voice inside your head? You know the one. It tells you how “stupid”, “fat”, or “clumsy” you are, or how much of a “failure” you continue to be. These thoughts have become intricate superhighways in your brain — easy to drive along and popping up everywhere. It is time for a detox, a detour. Drive a different route, go a different direction and say something with some compassion, strength, confidence or joy. For example: “Yes, I can” “I am capable of doing this”, “I am strong or I am getting stronger every day” or “I deserve to be happy”

Not a quick fix. A lifestyle change.

Here are the steps to jump-start our Detox Plan, and create change that will last.

STEP 1: STOP and NOTICE these destructive thoughts that come into our heads.

STEP 2: REDIRECT and begin to change the direction of these thoughts.

Remember when the firefighters came to school when you were young and taught you to “Stop, Drop and Roll?” Now, when your mind becomes engulfed in the flames of Judgement, Comparison and Negative Self-Talk, you will STOP, NOTICE and REDIRECT.

Put out the fire and detox your mind, the Green Mountain Way.

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Emotional Eating Gone Wild http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/07/21/emotional-eating-gone-wild/ http://www.fitwoman.com/blog/2016/07/21/emotional-eating-gone-wild/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.fitwoman.com/?p=43550 Women who come to the Women’s Center for Binge and Emotional Eating often ask us: “Am I a binge eater or an emotional eater?” and “How do I know if this is normal or an eating disorder?”. The answer to the question is not clear cut. Binge and emotional eating aren’t necessarily separate and distinct, […]

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Women who come to the Women’s Center for Binge and Emotional Eating often ask us: “Am I a binge eater or an emotional eater?” and “How do I know if this is normal or an eating disorder?”.

The answer to the question is not clear cut. Binge and emotional eating aren’t necessarily separate and distinct, but rather the same process on a continuum.

Eating emotionally is okay

The truth is, most of us eat emotionally. We have times in our daily lives when we reach for that special something to eat and it gives us comfort. It helps us relax, de-stress and take the day’s woes away. That’s common, normal and okay.

Yes, that’s right, IT’S OKAY to eat emotionally.

And when our participants realize this, the shame-monster shrinks a little.

Why is emotional eating okay?

Because it’s doing a job for us. Our bodies know that we digest better when we’re calm, so as soon as we start eating, the relaxation response is activated (aka parasympathetic response; aka “rest-and digest” response). Breathing gets deeper, heart rate slows, muscles relax, etc. and we’re better off.

At least, for a little while… (here comes the catch).

The catch

Remember, this is emotional eating. It’s about soothing a difficult emotion, not about eating for hunger.

It’s one thing to come home after a trying day and call a friend to vent, listen to some peaceful music, take a hot bath, put on lavender lotion, and have a bowl of ice cream.

It’s another thing to come home after another trying day and finish off another quart of ice cream.

All of these examples reduce stress, but if we don’t have a lot of options (or don’t use a lot of options), then it’s all on food, and we overuse it.

So while it’s ok to eat and it does soothe us, the hard reality is that at some point, it doesn’t feel good or taste good anymore.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to how else we’re coping with difficult emotions, as well as how much we’re eating, and how often we use eating as a coping strategy – (that’s the catch!).

If we aren’t paying attention and we continue eating, we’re actually creating a new stressor, which can look like shame or self-loathing. And now we have a whole new difficult emotion to cope with, and it starts the cycle over again.

Think of emotional eating as a continuum

EatingContinuum

At one end is Emotional Eating (which is normal and ok).

As we lose touch with the “hows” discussed above (how often, how much and how else), we move up the continuum into Emotional Overeating and eventually to Binge Eating and Binge Eating Disorder.

The DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition), which is the guide providers use to make clinical diagnoses, provides a clear definition of binge eating disorder with specific criteria for diagnosis. For example, the main criteria include eating a large amount of food in a short period of time, having a lack of control over eating, as well as several other criteria that need to be met in order for a clinical diagnosis.

When we meet with women here at the Center, we’ll often suggest that it may be worthwhile considering some further support for emotional overeating or binge eating, especially if they feel they are losing control of their “hows” and are moving up this continuum.

So if you’re still left uncertain about where your eating process is, try taking this self-scoring quiz.

Feel free to contact our staff if you’d like more information about emotional eating, binge eating, available resources, or to inquire about our unique, specialized treatment.

 

 

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