Why You Should Never Feel Guilty About Eating Junk Food Ever Again

Does the following scenario sound familiar...?

You're watching TV in the evening after a long, stressful day.  You're feeling a bit down or out of sorts, and start thinking about what you can do to get some relief from those feelings.  Your mind wanders to the packet of Tim Tams in the cupboard (that you were saving for a 'special occasion').

You think to yourself... no, I won't have one.  That would be naughty.  But then again, I have been pretty good this week, so I deserve a treat.  Especially since I'm feeling low.  It'll cheer me up.

So you go and get the packet and sit back down in front of the TV.  You eat one Tim Tam but you were so engrossed in the TV that you barely tasted it.  Not feeling satisfied, you have another two.  Immediately the feelings of guilt kick in.

Oh no!  I've blown my diet now!  Why do I always do this?!  I'm such a failure!  I don't think I'm ever going to lose the weight.  My willpower just isn't strong enough.  Maybe I'm destined to be fat for ever.  Sigh.

Guess what happens next?

Yup.  If you're going to 'fail' your diet, you might as well do it properly! 

Whole packet... gone. 

And of course, since you are now in the mindset of 'stuff it - I'll eat the whole packet', the feelings of guilt become so strong that you scoff the rest of the packet down as fast as you can to get it over and done with. 

Did you actually stop and appreciate the taste of the Tim Tams?  No, probably not.  You ate them as fast as you could so that once you've finished you can try to shut out the feelings of guilt and move on.  You were also distracted by the TV and eating mindlessly.

I have lived through this scenario more times than I can count.  And I'm guessing it sounds familiar to you to.  We've all been there.

BUT.

Did you know that the feelings of guilt associated with having a 'naughty treat' or 'falling off the wagon' are actually doing you more harm than the food itself?

Here are the two main reasons why:

1 - Feelings of guilt actually make your body think it is under threat.  This triggers the stress response, which shuts down your digestive system.  So you won't actually digest the food anywhere near as well as if you were relaxed.  This means that more of the food is likely to get stored as fat instead.

There have been studies which prove the more relaxed and content we are when we eat, the less weight we put on, compared to eating the exact same amount of food while in distress.

2 - Guilt causes you to hate yourself and degrades your self esteem.  You felt like a failure, right?  Feelings of failure lead to a downward spiral of self sabotage, resulting in poorer food and lifestyle choices in the future.  Feeling bad about yourself increases the desire to turn to comfort foods and leads you deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, potentially resulting in an eating disorder.

We make choices that lead to the results that we think we deserve. 

Guilt only reinforces that you are either 'on' or 'off' your diet, and once you've fallen 'off' it becomes really easy to continue making bad choices.  The alternative is having one indulgent treat and then carrying on with your healthy lifestyle.

Now consider this scenario...

You're watching TV at the end of a long stressful day.  You really feel like a treat.  You've eaten really well today and done some exercise so there should be an allowance there for you to have a couple of Tim Tams without blowing out your calorie count for the day.

You go to the kitchen, get two Tim Tams out of the packet - leave the rest of the packet in the cupboard and take your two Tim Tams to the lounge room.

You look at the Tim Tams in your hand and feel grateful that you are about to indulge in a delicious treat and this might even be the highlight of your day!  You marvel at how good they look, and how good they smell.  Ignoring the TV for a moment, you focus on the task at hand.  Eating those chocolatey delights!

You eat them.  Slowly.  Savouring the taste and really indulging yourself.  You think to yourself how awesome you are, because you have broken that binge-guilt trap and have control over your choices.  You are choosing to have only two Tim Tams, not because you are on a diet and scared of putting on weight, but because you love and appreciate your body and want to treat it with respect.

You don't feel guilty at all, because you know that those two Tim Tams aren't going to set you back to square one.  We all need to indulge from time to time.

And because you enjoyed the experience so much, after two Tim Tams you now feel satisfied!  You don't need to eat the whole packet, because the experience of eating two in a mindful way, was far more satisfying than scoffing the whole packet with feelings of guilt and shame.

The moral of the story:

Next time you are craving an indulgent treat, think about it carefully and make a conscious choice.  Is this going to nourish me, either physically OR mentally/emotionally?

Once you have made the choice to go ahead and eat it - OWN IT! 

You have obviously decided to eat it for a reason, and whatever your reason is, it's perfectly okay.  So own the decision and don't look back.  Give yourself permission to indulge yourself and REALLY enjoy it.

And okay yes, so you might not have made the best food choice.  But treat it as a learning experience.  A chance to explore the thoughts and feelings that are coming up and contributing to the cravings.  

Treat it with curiosity.  Not with punishment.

A Side of Self Care That We Must Not Neglect

There is so much more to weight loss than diet and exercise.  Equally as important, is mindset.  This is the driving force behind all of our daily choices and determines whether we achieve our goals or not.

Part of cultivating a weight loss mindset, is making time for self care.  We know how important self care is, right?  As the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup.

But is there a part of self care that we have been neglecting?

I used to think of self care as a trip to the day spa, or a cup of herbal tea, a massage...  And while those things are nice, here's the thing. 

Self care isn't just about what we do.  It's also about what we think. 

It's just as much about our attitude as it is about finding time for pampering.

The way we speak to ourselves is critical for happiness and confidence.  It is often overlooked, but the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important relationship we will ever have.

Would you walk up to someone and tell them they are fat?  No, at least I hope not!  So why would you stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself that on a daily basis?

Self care is about being kind to yourself and thinking in a mindful and positive way, which leads to healthier decisions and habits.  It is about re-programming your mind with affirming thoughts rather than destructive thoughts, learning not to believe every random thought that pops into your head, and not letting your 'inner critic' run the show.

 

Self care is about:

- Nurturing your mind and soul as well as your body

- Believing that you are worthy of the effort

- Empowering yourself and having the strength and resilience to take charge of your own life, health and happiness

- Learning to be mindful and live in the moment, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future

- Finding joy in the little things

- Having compassion and empathy for yourself as well as for others

- Being the best version of yourself so that you send positive energy out into the world and inspire others to do the same

- Clearing out old destructive habits such as making excuses, procrastinating, blaming, playing the victim and feeling entitled

- Saying no to extra responsibilities - if it's not a "hell yeah!" then it's a "no".

- Backing yourself one hundred percent

- Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

- Having an outlet for creative expression (yes, EVERY person has a creative side, sometimes it just needs a little coaxing to come out of hiding - and creative expression is extremely important for a positive mindset)

…And most importantly - be real, not perfect.

Speaking to yourself in a loving and kind way and embracing your imperfections will lead you towards a happier and more fulfilling life.  As you become more accepting of yourself, your candle will shine much brighter and you will be able to light other people's candles too.

Follow your heart, live your dreams and be true to yourself xx

 

How to Make Exercise Feel Less Like a Chore

When I say the word 'exercise', what is your immediate reaction?

Do you think... yippee?!?  Or do you get this sinking feeling inside your gut?

For many of us, exercise has become a bit of a touchy subject.  Especially if you have been stuck in the dieting trap for a long time, and you have tried so hard to make it work for you, but it has ended up becoming a source of emotional discomfort.  You might even feel bad about yourself for not loving it like you think you should.

Let me just reassure you that you're not alone, and there is definitely nothing wrong with you.  Just like anything, bad experiences can put you off and create negative thoughts in your mind.

Social media and the fitness industry hasn't helped.  We see snapshots all over social media of people rocking their active-wear, which makes us feel like we have to go out and buy expensive gear, and have the perfect body before we dare venture out to exercise in public.  We see personal trainers whipping people's butts with a "no pain, no gain" attitude that makes us feel like exercise has to be super intense and we can only participate if we are prepared to shed blood, sweat and tears.

It's no wonder the thought of another boring or agonizing hour of exercise makes us feel sick to the stomach.  Exercise and procrastination have been besties since the dawn of time.

However.  There is no denying that physical activity is a super important part of a healthy lifestyle and has a long list of benefits.

The secret to making exercise something we can tolerate (and even enjoy!) is to reframe our attitude towards it.

 

Here's how:

 

1 - Ban the word 'exercise'

I'm serious.  I avoid using the word at all costs.  When I think of exercise, I immediately think of it as a chore.  We've just been programmed this way over time, with exercise being something that we have to force ourselves to make time for, as a necessary part of being desperate to lose weight.

Instead I try to refer to it as physical activity, moving your body, or doing some fitness training.  Fitness training gets me excited because it makes me feel like an athlete who is working towards a really cool goal.  Or I get more specific, like "I'm going to do some yoga today".

There is a whole science behind the power of vocabulary in changing our mindset.  You'd be surprised how powerful it is.

 

2 - Choose love over fear

When we force ourselves to exercise because we are desperate to lose weight, we are making the choice from a place of fear.  Fear of being out of shape.  Fear of being judged.  Fear of being unhealthy.  Fear of not being fit enough to get the most out of life.  Fear of not being attractive enough.  Fear of not being enough.  

But what if we made a choice to move our bodies every day, from a place of love?  Love of how energized and alive it makes us feel.  Love of how amazing our bodies are and what we can achieve.  Love of tuning in and really paying attention to the messages our body is telling us.  Love of working towards being healthier and happier.  Love of making the time to nourish and care for ourselves, because we deserve it!

 

3 - Break it down into smaller chunks

We're all busy, right?  So setting aside an hour each day to do a workout can be impossible.  

How often do we have good intentions of doing an early morning workout before work, and end up sleeping through the alarm, then thinking that we have missed the opportunity for the day, I'll try again tomorrow.  What about the rest of the day?  What about a 10 minute brisk walk on your lunch break?  What about busting out a few stretches while you wait for the kettle to boil?

There are lots of ways to incorporate movement into your day, in tiny bite-sized chunks.  And it is certainly still just as effective.  Definitely more effective than doing nothing at all!  We just have to get a little creative.

Short bursts of high intensity exercise can really rev up the metabolism, to the point where you continue burning calories long after you finish - that's a win!

When my daughter was a newborn, I wanted to learn yoga.  But there was no way I was going to make it to an hour-long yoga class.  So I asked Google to tell me five easy yoga moves for beginners.  I memorized those five, and I practiced them at random times throughout the day.  I love doing a couple of yoga moves right before bed, as it relaxes me and helps me sleep.  Then when I had mastered those five, I learned another five.  And gradually built up my repertoire over time.

Don't underestimate the value of incidental exercise.  Vacuuming the house and even a bit of late night bedroom activity (wink wink) can do wonders for your waistline!

 

4 - Track your progress and celebrate small wins

One of the most motivating things I ever did was buy myself a Fitbit.  Now this isn't a product endorsement and I don't get paid for recommending it.  And there are lots of other similar products on the market too, which are all great.  Even a $10 pedometer from Kmart is a great tool.

If you haven't got a tracking device to measure steps or heart rate, you could always simply use a journal or diary and record other parameters, like repetitions or duration.

The whole point of using a tracking tool of some kind, is so that you can compete against yourself.  This allows you to set goals, and gives you a sense of achievement when you do better than you did last time. 

Achievement gives you confidence.  Confidence gives you motivation.

 

5 - Make it fun!

It's your body.  Your life.  And there are a million ways to move your body and increase your fitness.  There aren't any rules (only that you keep yourself safe and don't do anything that poses a risk to your health).

Find what you love doing, and do more of that.

Don't like working out in public?  Get a fitness DVD and workout at home!

Don't like structured workout routines?  Try dancing, or swimming, or even gardening.  Whatever floats your boat.

Put music on.  Mix it up. Do something different every day.  Bust a few moves at random times.  Get up from your desk and walk around.  Grab a buddy and go walking together.

Move your body, your way.

 

What are your favourite ways to move?  Let me know in the comments below.

How to Make Salads More Filling

How often do we get to dinner time and realise we haven't eaten a single vegetable all day..? (guilty!)

We know we are supposed to eat five serves of veg per day.  So eating a few vegies at dinner time just isn't going to get the job done.

A great way to get more vegies into us is to have a salad for lunch.  But if we're going to do this, it has to be filling, right?  Otherwise, it's not going to help us lose weight if we spend all afternoon snacking.

So here are some tips to craft a perfectly balanced, filling and delicious salad, that you can eat by itself as a whole meal.

 

1. Add protein

For those of us trying to lose weight, adding protein at every meal is helpful because it keep us feeling full for longer, therefore reducing the desire to snack between meals.  A good quality protein component in a salad is what really makes the difference between it being a complete meal or just a side-salad.

Some suggestions:

- Roast, grilled or poached chicken

- Tinned tuna or salmon

- Boiled egg

- Nuts (my faves are flaked almonds, lightly toasted pine nuts, walnuts)

- Seeds (eg sesame seeds, chia seeds)

- High protein grain (eg quinoa)

- Chickpeas

And as you can see, there are plenty of non-animal options for vegetarians and vegans. 

 

2. Add good fats

Unsaturated fats give us energy (hooray!) and help the body absorb the nutrients that are in the salad vegetables.  Omega fatty acids are so important for warding off nasty health conditions, and of course, making us feel fuller for longer.

My number one fatty favourite is... the humble avocado.  Avocados not only pack a nutritional punch, they are also loaded with fibre (making you feel full), antioxidants for immune support, help lower cholesterol and assist with weight loss, and can even help to prevent cancer.  They taste delicious and provide a softer element to balance out the crunchy parts of the salad.  What's not to love..?

My next fave is a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  This can be combined with herbs like basil and oregano and maybe even a squirt of lemon juice, to make a healthy dressing.

And of course, nuts and oily fish are great sources of good fats, and they provide protein as well, so it's a win win!

 

So when I'm crafting a lunch salad, this is what I do:

- I start with leafy greens as the base eg spinach, rocket etc

- I add some salad vegetables eg capsicum, cherry tomatoes, cucumber etc

- Then I add protein eg roast chicken

- Next I add my good fats - always avocado!

- Then I add a crunchy element eg walnuts or flaked almonds, which adds another element of both protein and good fats

- Then the dressing (a drizzle of olive oil and some dried oregano and basil)

- Stir and enjoy!

This will keep me full for two or three hours and then I have an afternoon snack (eg yoghurt, carrot and hommus, crackers and dip etc), and I'm all set until dinner time!

The other great thing about having a salad for lunch is that the vegetables contain naturally-occurring sugars, so it gives you plenty of energy to get through the afternoon without that 3pm slump.  And it doesn't sit heavily or make you feel sleepy while you digest it, or give you a bloated tummy all afternoon, like some bread-based lunches can do.

Hope this helps you perfect your salad-creation skills.  Drop a comment below and let me know how you go, or if you have any more suggestions we'd love to hear them!

Happy salad-ing!

What It Really Took To Shift the Weight...

I have been a yo-yo dieter all my life.  

But I have never hated my body as much as what I have over the last four years.

When I was pregnant with my daughter four years ago, my staple diet was icecream.  For breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Needless to say, I stacked on an extra 20kg.  I thought it would be easy to get rid of the excess body fat once my daughter was born... but oh was I sooooo wrong!

My self-esteem dipped so low that I became crippled in all areas of my life.  I remember a time when I would have an anxiety attack if I had to get dressed (in something other than a maxi dress) and leave the house.

The strange thing was, I had so much knowledge about health and fitness.  I was pretty active, and felt like I was doing all the right things.  But no matter what I did, the weight just wouldn't budge.

Then... one day... my fiancé packed a bag and walked out.

He had threatened to leave so many times before, but this time he was serious.  He had made up his mind that he finally wanted a separation.

As he walked out the door, I felt a big black cloud suddenly lift.  I hadn't realised that our toxic relationship was causing me so much inner turmoil.  As I reflected back, it dawned on me that our relationship had been completely devoid of love, for a very long time.

Every time I tried to give him attention or get him to notice me, he would turn away.  This was eating away at my soul, and destroying my confidence.  I just didn't have the guts to do anything about it, and this had (sadly) become my 'normal'.

With the absence of love in the relationship... I was turning to food instead. 

During the first week after he left, the initial shock of the separation caused me to drop 3kg, because I was too distraught to eat anything at all.  But amazingly quickly, my eating habits began to stabilize. 

I started to realise that I was better off without him, and I was determined to dust myself off and get on with things, re-connect with my true self, and be a good role model for my daughter.

And the weight continued to come off, but at a much more steady pace.

I had removed the aspect of my life that was causing me to binge-eat.

It had nothing to do with my knowledge of nutrition and fitness.  It had everything to do with the fact that I was comfort-eating to fill an emotional void.

Now, I'm certainly not suggesting that you all go out and file for divorce! 

But what I want to do is highlight the fact that being overweight doesn't necessarily have anything to do with a lack of education around what we should/shouldn't be eating, or how much we should be exercising.  Oftentimes, the inability to lose weight stems from an emotional imbalance.

It all comes down to mindset.  All of the lifestyle choices that we make, that lead to weight gain, come from our mindset.  There are lots of ways we can create mindset shifts in order to lose the weight, but a good starting point is looking at all of the major areas of our lives (eg relationships, work, career, finances, family, hobbies and leisure etc) and seeing which areas are crying out for our attention.

Are you getting stuck somewhere?  Are you unhappy with something?  Are you lacking fulfilment in one or more of these areas?  Do you need a little push (or a big push!) to make the necessary changes?

If the answer is yes, and you ARE stuck... don't beat yourself up!  It's completely normal to feel this way. 

Give yourself some love, first and foremost.

Then start thinking about the first step you need to take, to head in the right direction.

Hint: You don't need to know all the steps of HOW you are going to get from A - Z.  You only need to decide on the very first, teeny tiny step.  Then once you do that, the following steps will make themselves clear.  Trust in yourself, and trust in the process.