Monthly Archives: December 2014

Are guilt and stress useful tools for getting your workouts in?

At the beginning of the week you are all set. You have your workouts planned, your gym bag is packed, you may even sleep in your workout clothes the night before.


And then it happens, a kid gets sick, you hit the snooze button one to many times, and get invited to a social gathering almost every night of the week. You skip your workouts day after day, even though you had the best intentions. You feel stressed, guilt and criticize yourself for falling off track yet again.

But do these emotions really serve us, make us more successful, and increase motivation?

Initially most will say that you must set expectations, follow through and give yourself some tough love, otherwise you will have no pressure or motivation to reach your goals and your willpower will fly out the door. The more pressure you put on yourself and the higher expectations you have, the more likely you will be to workout.

While this makes perfect sense in most peoples heads, it is actually the exact opposite!

Kindness and compassion towards one’s self are actually associated with more motivation and more self-control.

Say what? Studies actually show that instead of criticizing yourself, it is actually more beneficial to forgive yourself. Whether it is from a string of missed workouts or even a late night eating binge, stewing in your own guilt can actually have a negative impact on your motivation rather than a positive one.

What to do instead.

The next time you miss a workout, eat something you feel you shouldn’t have or the combo of the two, keep in mind the following.

  • Address yourself with self compassion and forgiveness.
  • Acknowledge that you were not inline with your goals (personal responsibility).
  • Troubleshoot about what you can do next time to get your workout in.
  • Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and move on quickly.

Chances are you are more likely to hold yourself accountable and learn from your experience. When you go into problem solving mode you give yourself an opportunity to create a solution to a challenge. When you go into stress, shame, guilt and anxiety mode you do not put yourself in a position to fix the problem itself.

Starting implementing this tool and see how it works for you. Prioritizing your workouts are essential, if they are important to you, but giving yourself permission to forgive when you miss one is a lot more powerful than most people realize.

Confessions Of A Former Clean Eater

I guess you could say I am a clean eater in recovery.

Clean eating used to seem so inline with goals. Eat foods as close to a minimally processed state as possible, eat 5-6 meals a day, drink 2 liters of water, avoid products with sodium or sugar, only eat ingredients you can pronounce, give yourself one treat meal a week. It sounded so streamlined and ideal, but what I found is that instead of eating with ease, it actually created a lot of stress with eating, creating a dynamic that food was either good or bad, on or off plan.

In the past year or so I really have turned from labeling myself as a “clean eater” to more of an intuitive eater. Eating based on what is in line with my goals, making me look, feel and perform my best.If I want dessert I have it, if I decline I feel ok with it. I might make paleo cookies but that doesn’t mean I won’t eat my greek yogurt later. I might try a gluten free recipe but that does not mean I will not eat pasta the next day.

While I realize I have complete control on how I choose to view food here are a few ways why I think the concept of clean eating, and other forms of set, standardized eating, sets us up for failure and a few ways I have learned to shift my mindset, and how you can too.


1. It gives food a good or bad name. Chicken and steamed vegetables = good. Cookies and pizza = bad. If you have chicken you are on plan, if you have cookies you are off plan. I do not want to be on or off a eating plan. I may have moments where I want to get back on track, if I eat too much and notice my jeans a bit tighter or my energy levels suffering, but ultimately I want food to be food.

2. It is impossible to have a social life. How many times have you stressed about having to go to an event where you know it will be difficult to make good food choices or any food choices at all because they are “off” plan.  You may fear that one night of food that is off plan, you will ruin your diet all together. That may even be the reason you choose to follow a certain way of eating because you don’t trust yourself that you will be able to stop at one cookie or one glass of wine.  You may fear you must have a plan or else you whole way of eating will go down the drain. You are not alone, I have been there.  But I have also learned that being super strict leads to less enjoyment with food and the social joy that goes into celebration with food.  The good news is you can still make healthy food choices where you go, or a bring a dish yourself. And this is the perfect time of year to practice TRUST in yourself and your eating choices. That you can go out and enjoy food and drink without going overboard.

3. It can develop a poor relationship with food or how you think about food. Sometimes eating turns into defining who we are. When we eat “good” food, we are in turn good. When we eat “bad” food, it defines our worth as bad. When we cannot stay on plan we feel guilt and anxiety and when we do stay on plan we are worthy. Here’s the best thing you can learn to do. Eat in a way that is in line with your goals, and when you have that cookie (because you can still have that cookie) do not stress over it.

4. It is not sustainable. It doesn’t matter what type of eating you choose to follow, clean eating, zone, paleo?  The question is, can you stick with it day in, day out, without anything “off” plan. Why? Because dictated types of eating do not align with our lives and our desires. Birthday parties, vacations, drinks with friends, holidays etc., are all a part of life. And I can’t think of ANYONE who follows a certain way of eating exactly to a “T” every single day of the year. How do you know if your diet is working for you? You can sustain it 365 days a year! If you can good for you, you are one step ahead of the game.

So what do I do to counter what I have been practicing for so long?

If you have followed me for some times you know I talk about my AES (Automatic Eating Strategies) quite a bit. My Wine and Cupcakes newsletter was probably the best way I could possibly explain to you how I think about food and my day ahead, and while it may have seemed complicated, it really is effortless to me. These tools I have developed help me eat in line with my goals, while not feeling deprived. Super strict is not the answer but eating with reckless abandon is not either. I know if I eat that way I will not feel well either.

1. Use my Automatic Eating Strategies. Some include thinking about my day ahead and making my choices in advance, always taking an apple or protein bar with me wherever I go, so if I am in a bind and need something to hold me over, I am covered. I eat lean protein and vegetables often throughout the day and something with protein and carbohydrates post intense workout. I always have something chocolate every single day.

2. Sample bites. I love taking bites of other people’s foods and this usually works best with people I am super close with, ha! I think sampling my boyfriends foods has been one of the best things that have happened to my eating habits because I get to taste everything but binge on nothing. My boyfriend is also pretty good with moderation when it comes to sweets. He can make a pint of ice cream last two weeks. Just a bite a day. For other tips on eating out click here.

3. Do not give food a name. Sometimes I still have a hard time with this one. I really try not to label food as good or bad, on or off plan. When it comes down to it, it is just food. It is food that is used as energy for our body. It is food that we use to enjoy social gatherings and it is is food that allows us to live our daily lives, and yet so much stress surrounds food now a days. Our food choices can keep us healthy or not, but they surely do not define us.




3 Ways To Stop Eating Everything In Sight At Night

“I eat really well during the day, but I have a hard time controlling what I eat at night.”

I hear this from so many clients, friends and family members as one of the number one reasons as to why it is difficult to lose weight.  I too, know what it feels like to walk in the door after a long day of work and snack from dinner time until bed. You may be stressed, irritated, exhausted, drained and despite all your hard work throughout the day of eating well and even getting your workout in, you somehow, in the moment, don’t really care about how this may be affecting your long-term physique or health goals.

You may even justify your behavior, saying you did well during the day so you deserve it, or it is just one night and you will do better the next day. All the willpower you have mustered up throughout the day has somehow dissipated and your fallback method is your habits. And when your habits are going straight for food without even thinking about it, they are difficult, but not impossible, to break.


A little humor for how a day like this may feel. 🙂


Here are three ways to stop eating everything in sight at night.

 Practice self control in a way that has nothing to do with food.

In the book, The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, she says,  “It’s the habit of noticing what you’re about to do, and choosing to do the more difficult thing instead of the easiest.”

Whether you are walking into the kitchen, opening the fridge, or have your hand in a bag of Doritos or spoon in the peanut butter (oops that is me), it is SO easy to just stay in the moment, and so difficult to just stop. So instead of trying to scrounge up every ounce of energy and willpower you have to break the habit at the hardest moment, why not try to practice changing your habit in a small way, that practices self control and works toward strengthening your willpower, without the internal battle of why you are eating when you shouldn’t be. 

McGonigal also gives examples of ways to improve self control that have nothing to do with resisting food but maybe resisting different,  smaller challenges. For example, for one day, try to brush your teeth or open any door with your nondominant hand. Try not to say “um” or “like” when you talk, or try not to use any swear words. This type of challenge helps the brain get used to thinking about what it is doing before acting. And while it does take a little extra effort to complete these tasks, it is not as overwhelming as trying to resist night time eating. These trivial self-control challenges may translate into bigger self-control challenges.

 Be less strict during the day.

You may fear that loosening up on your diet during the day will derail you from your health and fitness goals. However, if you come home at night feeling deprived and/or starving, you may be more likely to binge and overindulge.  Instead of oatmeal for breakfast, a plain salad at lunch and chicken and  veggies for dinner, try adding more satisfying foods in throughout the day, that will help keep your hunger and cravings in check. Add peanut butter to your oatmeal, a palm full or rice with your salad, a piece of fruit in the afternoon and protein to your lunch and dinner.

Sometimes being more strict can cause us to binge more at a later point because we never truly feel satisfied with what we are eating. You see this all the time a super strict meal plans which most people are only able to follow keflex. They may lose the weight initially but have a hard time keeping it off because it is not something that is sustainable. Ultimately, isn’t what you want something you can do forever? Eat healthy and indulge occasionally, while maintaing a healthy weight and a healthy and happy relationship with food.


And lastly, do not fall for the halo effect.

I only had a salad for dinner, so that means I can have dessert.

I only had three slices of pizza, it’s not like I had the whole pizza.

I worked out really hard today so I deserve a big dinner.

I ate healthy all day so I deserve to eat what I want tonight.

I had to eat out and that is why I could not make good choices.

McGonigal describes the halo effect in this way. “The halo effect is a form of moral licensing that looks for any reason to say “yes” to temptation. When we want permission to indulge, we’ll take any hint of virtue as a justification to give in.”

It even has a name in the dieting world, called the health halo. We tend to find any reason to not feel as bad about the choices we make.  Often times we look for validation when it comes to giving into temptation, a reason that what we are doing is ok. A reason why we are deserving of our hard work, even though it may affect our goals long term.

Instead of justifying your behavior ask yourself if the choices you are making are in line with your goals? And in order to do this you need a concrete way of measuring whether or not they are.

One reason I like the  not eating after 8:00 PM rule, is because it gives you a very concrete way of determining whether or not you can stay out of the kitchen at night, by a simple yes or no.  Studies show that sometimes it’s not so much about when you eat but the culmination of how much you eat throughout the day.  Yes it may be better to eat smaller meals throughout the day, but if you are struggling with night time eating implement this rule.

Try implementing one or more of these tools to help tame your night time eating and always remember the “why” behind your goals. Why are you so intent on reaching your goal and why are your stopping yourself from getting there.