Life Management

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Jungle Hour

I call from 5-6:00 “Jungle Hour.” Why?  Because otherwise civilized little human beings in my home suddenly turn wild at that time.  It truly stumps me.  I can’t decide if it’s low blood sugar before dinner, or the transition from …

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Awareness

If you feel exhausted, discouraged, or disheartened in life, you are probably focused on finding something that doesn’t have the power to give you what you seek. In my last mind post, The Hidden Key, I set you up. Clearly, …

Fashion

DSC 1779 01 202x194 - Get Organized

Get Organized

Okay, people. I know it’s a new year, and you’re ready for a new you. And I have such great stuff for you. A personal transformation awaits! But let’s be realistic. You can’t even start thinking about changing your diet …

Fashion

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Holidays Inbound! What to Wear For the Big Office Shindig!

With Christmas only a few weeks away, it would be wise to start looking around for your office party outfit. Today, we discuss some suggestions for your big office shindig! While holiday parties are a chance to unbutton that top …

DSC 1779 01 445x444 - Get Organized

Get Organized

Okay, people. I know it’s a new year, and you’re ready for a new you. And I have such great stuff for you. A personal transformation awaits! But let’s be realistic. You can’t even start thinking about changing your diet …

Latest Posts

Holidays Inbound! What to Wear For the Big Office Shindig!

With Christmas only a few weeks away, it would be wise to start looking around for your office party outfit. Today, we discuss some suggestions for your big office shindig! While holiday parties are a chance to unbutton that top button from your corporate life, it is still an official function. So it would be in your best interest to dress smartly.

Your bosses will be in attendance so now is not the time to bring to life any Santa cosplay ideas you have in the back burner. Here are a few suggestions for your holiday wear!

Sequins and Metallics

Whenever the holiday rolls around, sequins are always sure to make a comeback. They are quite festive and pleasant to the eyes. Our suggestion is that you avoid choosing a full on sequined dress and opt for smarter pieces. You can go with some sequined pants with a matching clutch bag. As for your top, you can always choose to go with a steady black blazer. You will look corporate chic with a touch of holiday magic.

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Little Black Dress

There is a reason why the trusty old LBD never goes out of style. You can pair up your little black dress with some statement accessories. It’s going to be cold so it would be important to have a jacket with you. Long boots or cute ankle booties are a good choice. However, if you want to feel glam and don’t mind cold feet, you can always choose to go with something strappy.

Red

There is a reason why red is everywhere come the holidays. This is because you will always equate roaring fires and eggnog to the color red. Have something red like your lips or your dress and you will be set for your holiday party!

Jumpsuit

Jumpsuits have enjoyed quite the popularity this year and the year previously. That is because the combine two of fashion’s often fickle components: form and function. You can go classic with a monochromatic jumpsuit. You can pair it with a blazer to complete the corporate look.

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Midi Dress

Simple, romantic, and effective! Formal events are where midi dresses shine the most. They look effortless to pull off and they’re very comfortable! An added bonus is that they now come in a variety of hues and prints. You will never run out of choices when it comes to a Midi Dress.

Some Reminders:

Go easy on the makeup

Your office party will often have official photographers there so it would be best to not going super heavy on the makeup. On the opposite vein, do not go to your party WITHOUT any makeup on. When the pictures roll around, you would not want to be stuck looking like the ghost of Christmas past!

Drink moderately

The right amount of champagne will help keep your feet from hurting.

Enjoy yourself

This is something that most people forget to do. Once the boss leaves it would be time to go ask your office crush for a dance or exchange gifts with friends. Looking good is ideal but having fun should be he priority.

Jungle Hour

I call from 5-6:00 “Jungle Hour.” Why?  Because otherwise civilized little human beings in my home suddenly turn wild at that time.  It truly stumps me.  I can’t decide if it’s low blood sugar before dinner, or the transition from afternoon to evening, or overstimulation from the day.  Whatever the case, teenagers become even more unreasonable, tweenagers don’t want to do their homework, and children age six and under begin to cry, tease each other, and stay within a 3-foot radius of me, no matter where I go. Including the bathroom.

One of the strange ironies of that hour is the simultaneous necessity of preparing dinner.  So let me give you the equation:  Ornery kids + browning hamburger + baby crying at your feet + everyone trying to sneak goldfish crackers and string cheese “because they’re hungry!” (I know they’re hungry.  Isn’t that why I am making dinner?)  You do the math.  That equation generally equals mom freaking out at some point, and then feeling guilty for the rest of the night because she doesn’t have more patience with her five spunky children.

First of all, I would like to meet the human being that can keep their cool in that scenario – night after night after night.  (So let’s remember that we don’t need to be so hard on ourselves.)  Second of all, we need a New View to help us handle this situation.  Because this much I do know:  I am not a Better ME when I feel my anxiety and lack of tolerance accumulating faster than string cheese wrappers and goldfish cracker crumbs.

So here is one solution for Jungle Hour:  Freezer Meals.

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Let’s just take a look at all of the virtues of Freezer Meals, shall we?

Saves Time

When I have a busy afternoon of chauffeuring the kids around to their different activities, I need something ready to go when I walk in the door at 5:30 or 6:00.  If I’m not prepared, then it’s pancakes or pizza – and those are foods that are not my friend.

Makes it Easy to Eat Healthy

New View Better You is all about being good to yourself; it’s about identifying those places within you that feel empty, and filling those places up with the joy you deserve.  As you commit to taking care of your body, a healthy dinner becomes a priority. And if you work, or are busy with your afternoon taxi service for the kids, or even if you just don’t have the energy to start chopping and dicing at that time of day, utilizing freezer meals will help you with your commitment to taking care of yourself. It’s a good, realistic strategy for getting dinner on the table.  It makes it easy.

Helps With Menu Planning

If I have a freezer full of dinners, it makes menu planning a cinch.  I’ll incorporate a few into my menu for the really busy nights, and that makes two or three less dinners I that have to come up with for that week.

It’s a Way I Can Take Care of Myself

To be completely honest, Jungle Hour is not my best time of the day either.  That’s when I start to run a bit low on energy.  Thus, I am predisposed to losing patience with the kids and resenting the whole dinner-making process.  In my journey to overcome certain challenges (mostly my emotional eating), I have learned that it is essential to take care of myself.  I would never ignore my crying baby, and yet, as I have learned to be more aware of my feelings, I realize I have a tendency to ignore my own emotional needs.  This always results in self-defeating behaviors – one-hundred percent of the time.  Whether I turn to food to diffuse my stress, or react to the chaos around me by getting upset with my kids, I lose. And when that happens, life doesn’t feel so good.  So in their own simple way, freezer meals are a way for me to take care of myself.  I feed myself and my family a healthy dinner, and I do it in a way that doesn’t compromise my own emotional needs.

Getting Started

It all starts with great recipes.  I have been using freezer meals for almost seven years now.  Lucky for you, I have weeded out a lot of bad ones, and have some great recommendations that I will share periodically.  Here are a few to try:

Salsa Chicken (this week’s V.O.W.!)

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4-6 chicken breasts, trimmed

1 16 oz. jar salsa

1 cup fat free sour cream

1 packet taco seasoning

desired taco toppings, such as fat free sour cream, chopped tomato, sliced olives, black beans, sliced green onion, fat free shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced avocado (link to avocado slicer), cilantro, and salsa.

Place chicken in slow cooker.  Pour salsa over the top.  Cook until very tender.  Shred chicken.  Stir in sour cream and taco seasoning to taste.  Place in a gallon-sized freezer bag, and store in freezer until ready to eat.  On serving day, thaw, heat in sauce pan, and serve in a variety of ways (with taco toppings):

In a whole wheat tortilla

In lettuce leaves (like a lettuce wrap)

As a salad with lettuce and taco toppings

 

Buttermilk Chicken (a great marinade!)

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6 chicken breasts

1 cup buttermilk

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 T. honey

1 t. rosemary

½ t. thyme

½ t. sage

½ t. marjoram

½ t. pepper

1 t. salt

Put all ingredients in a gallon-size freezer bag.  Double bag and freeze. On serving day, thaw and grill.  Serve with steamed veggies and a salad.

Spicy Buffalo Chicken (A big hit with my friends and family!)

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2 t. paprika

2 t. chili powder

6 chicken breasts

1 T olive oil

½ c. hot pepper sauce

In a small bowl, combine paprika and chili powder.  Sprinkle spice blend over chicken breasts.  Lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-low heat.  Place chicken breasts in skillet; cook for 6 minutes.  Turn and cook until no longer pink in the center, about 6 more minutes. Place a large saucepan over low heat.  Add olive oil and heat for 1 minute.  Stir in hot pepper sauce.  Place chicken breasts in one freezer bag, and sauce in another, then freeze.  To Serve: Thaw and reheat chicken in oven, on skillet, or on grill if desired.  Heat sauce and coat the chicken.  Serve in whole wheat buns, thin sandwich buns, or on lettuce.  Can add tomatoes, onion, blue cheese dip as dressing, if desired.  Serve carrots and celery sticks with dip if desired.  Also great as a salad (pictured above.) Place chicken over salad greens, add Craisins and chopped red onions, then top with blue cheese dressing if desired.  (See below.)

Blue Cheese Dip (Make fresh day of serving)

¾ c. fat free sour cream

¼ c. reduced fat blue cheese, crumbled

2 sliced green onions

Combine all ingredients and serve with carrot and celery sticks.

So take care of your body, feed your family great meals, and bring some civilization to Jungle Hour.  That’s a win/win/win!  You deserve it!

Get Organized

Okay, people. I know it’s a new year, and you’re ready for a new you. And I have such great stuff for you. A personal transformation awaits! But let’s be realistic. You can’t even start thinking about changing your diet or implementing exercise, much less pondering your purpose in life, when you are so surrounded by piles of stuff that you can’t even find your tennis shoes. Let’s start by getting organized.

If you’re like me, you’re probably trying to wrap your mind around the enormous volume of consumer goods that entered your home a week ago on Christmas morning. By that, I mean toys, gadgets, electronics, and other gifts. As I alluded to in my January is Perfect post, it rubs me the wrong way to cram more stuff into closets and drawers that are already overflowing. But it can feel overwhelming to tackle such projects. How about a New View on organizing?

Get Ready

Identify all of the different areas you want to organize. I don’t know why, but there is power in extracting all of the “need to organize” projects out of your head and containing them on paper. A good to-do list is the place to start.

Prioritize the projects. I know that sounds obvious, but watch your tendencies. When you reach your limit and you can tolerate the chaos no longer, don’t you find yourself dumping every closet, bin and cabinet…only to look around and realize that you didn’t have time for all of this today? This creates even greater stress and discouragement. Pick the most urgent, in-your-face projects, and start ONE AT A TIME. You might need to exercise a little self-discipline here.

Ask yourself if you can break the projects down into smaller ones. The greatest mistake I see people make as they start to get organized is to bite off more than they can chew at one time. For example, your entire toy room might need an overhaul, but maybe you could just start with one type of toy. Move on to the next one if you have time. Or you may feel the itch to organize the master closet – but just start with your shoes or jewelry, and then see if time will allow you to move on to something else.

One day, I bought a lot of children’s party dresses. They were imported from Brazil (For those who want to know more, you can visit Vestidos Infantil Mamãe Capricha). At first there was no order and everything was chaos but then I discovered that the best way to organize the dresses and clothes for babies was through their colors.

Another store that is worth your visit, in case you have a little girl at home, is Vestido de Festa Infantil Liminha Doce. They have cheap and beautiful children’s dresses for birthdays, first communion and parties. It is perfect!

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Get Set

Commit to the project by scheduling a time to work on it. Maybe you can begin now, and maybe you need to schedule a time without your kids or after work to really dig into your projects. But let me be honest – my underlying motive in asking you to schedule the project is to create a commitment so you will actually get it done.

Go!

In the coming months, I will continue to give you great organizing strategies that I learned while organizing professionally with Clear and Simple Organizing. But for right now, you just need to see results, so I am giving you the condensed version. Just remember to do all of the steps, and in the right order.

Sort. First, empty out the entire cupboard, drawer, or shelf of the closet. Then you sort what’s in there just like you sort laundry. Let’s use the example of a toy bin. You’ll sort Legos, Barbies, Fisher Price Little People, Polly Pockets, and cars all into their own pile. Now you can see what you’ve got.

Toss. If you don’t do this step, you’re just reorganizing clutter. Throw away broken parts, and throw or give away incomplete sets, especially if you don’t have enough room. There are some mental strategies to begin implementing if the toss is hard for you, but to get these, you’ll just have to wait for my Toss post down the road.

Assign. Here you want to think: Kindergarten room. Remember how everything had a place? Like the art center, reading center, and play center? You’ll want to follow this model and group all like things together within your cabinet, drawer, or closet. Decide where within the space it makes the most sense to keep those items. For example, I like top shelves for things I want to keep out of my children’s hands, and bottom shelves for things they need access to. Again, I have some good strategies regarding this concept that I’ll share later.

Contain. Stuff needs borders or else it won’t stay put. You don’t have to go elaborate with this. As you can tell from my before and after pictures, I don’t spend a lot on containers. Sterilite totes and baskets are my go-to containers, and generally only cost a few dollars. I especially recommend the shoebox and 15-quart size in the totes. These make great containers in kitchen pantries, closets, and for craft supplies. I love the baskets (in varying sizes) for bathrooms, kitchen cabinets, and toy rooms and linen closets.

So there you have it. Organizing with these strategies can make it easy and fun. Better yet, it will give you a wonderful sense of accomplishment. What great momentum to propel you into the new year! So take the weekend to get organized, because with my posts next week, it’ll be time to start having New Views and creating Better YOUs!

Create a New View: Ask yourself what disorganization in your home is bothering you most. This is the place to start! Try to break it down into small increments, and then look at your calendar and commit to a time to tackle these projects, using the strategies given above. Take before and after pictures, and share your new success with us on New View!

Awareness

If you feel exhausted, discouraged, or disheartened in life, you are probably focused on finding something that doesn’t have the power to give you what you seek.

In my last mind post, The Hidden Key, I set you up. Clearly, when things aren’t going our way, and we’ve tried over and over again to fix it and it still isn’t working (in other words, the definition of insanity), we’ve come to a crossroads.  We know we want change.  We want what is on the other side of that locked door, but the key to that door seems to elude us.  I am pretty sure that I’m right about what I’m going to tell you.  The key is right there, inside of you.  It’s just buried deep in the subconscious mind.  And in the last post I suggested that there was one way to begin to find that key: through awareness.

Discovery     Think of it as a great big treasure hunt.  Each emotion you feel, each thought you have – these are huge clues from your subconscious mind telling you where you can look for the key that will unlock that door.  The problem is that we are in the habit of ignoring these clues.  And when we ignore them, it’s as emotionally devastating as ignoring a smoke alarm.  Feelings, especially negative ones, grow stronger until a “fire” erupts.  A “fire” is what happens when we break our diet, lose our patience with our kids, spend money we shouldn’t – anything that we’ve promised ourselves that we weren’t going to do.

The only logical solution is to pay attention to what is going on inside of you.  This is what I mean by awareness, and it makes life a whole new ball game.  I am suggesting that you slow down and begin to pay attention to your self.  Notice the drama and the chaos as it begins to grow, and unplug from it the way you unplug your hair dryer. Become an observer.  You will be surprised by what you find.

The Hummingbird Analogy   I have a great example of the kind of awareness I’m talking about. My home’s garage door faces north, with windows inside that garage facing the west.  Through these windows shines the bright afternoon sunshine.  Unfortunately this has become a trap for many unsuspecting hummingbirds.

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These birds somehow get lured into our garage, sense that they are trapped, and in a panic they fly toward those bright windows that seem to promise freedom.  Unfortunately for them, the bright window light is deceiving:  escape is not possible.  At this point, it is interesting to watch how the birds respond.  Almost without exception, the birds exhaust themselves, searching every square inch of that window for an opening. They hover around the edges over and over again, always with the same outcome: no way out.  Insanity.  Trying the same thing and getting the same result every time.

Often my husband has to intervene.  He traps the birds with a 5-gallon bucket, and then releases them outside.  My intrigue, however, is with the occasional bird that has a different experience.  Though few in number, the process is the same for all of them.  Exhausted, they become quiet.  They are willing to look away from the bright window.  Their awareness increases until they realize that just to their right, through the comparatively giant garage door, there is an even bigger opening, with an even brighter light.  But they only notice this if they are willing to look away from the window, and accept the possibility of another way of escape. In other words, they accept that escape doesn’t have to look a certain way.  And then the magic happens.  With awareness, the struggle is over.  There is really not even a decision to be made.  With what I assume must be tremendous joy and relief, the hummingbird zips out the garage door, securing its own sweet freedom.

One simple point:  awareness is the key.  Once we can become less attached to what we perceive the solution to be, we can become quiet.  We can then become open to the possibility that an even better solution exists.  We invite awareness; or in other words, we begin to notice a solution that has been there all along but has gone unseen.  This feels like magic.  But it’s better than magic, because it’s real.  It works.

I love this example.  It illustrates how what we want truly is effortless.  It comes down to a simple decision – if we can look at the situation in a different way.

If you feel exhausted, discouraged, or disheartened in life, you are probably focused on a false illusion that cannot give you what you are seeking. (Think of the hummingbirds seeking freedom through the bright, sealed window.)  There is an easier way.  Be still.  Notice what’s going on inside of you.  This is the beginning of a New View.  Create awareness, and everything changes.

Create a New View

In this post I am introducing the concept of self-reflection and self-discovery.  One of the most powerful ways to do this is through writing (or journaling.)  With your journal or on a computer, answer the following questions that might apply:

  •  How do you feel “trapped” in your life?  What do you want to escape from?
  •  What does it feel like to be “trapped?”
  •  Why do you want to escape this feeling? What would you do if you could escape it?
  • How have you tried to escape?
  • Has what you’ve tried worked?  Could your previous attempts be keys that cannot open the door?  Refer to the definition of insanity.

Next week I will post “Better Than Expected.”  When these posts become available, read them and then answer the following questions:

  •   How can you do as the wise hummingbirds did and become “still”?
  •  If you were to listen to what is going on inside of you, what would you be feeling?  Thinking?
  •  As you explore this, notice if there are other possible solutions to your problem. (I’m not saying you have to adopt them.)  Simply list them.
  • Now envision yourself exploring just one of these other solutions.  You are not committed…you are just playing here.  What does it look like?  What does it sound like?  What does it feel like?  Record your feelings.

Now, let your unconscious mind go to work.  Become an observer of yourself in this problem.  In this way, you will begin to create awareness.  Before you even realize it, you’ll find yourself smack in the middle of a glorious New View.  And when that happens, I want to hear about it.

The Hidden Key

Do you ever feel like something is working against you, despite your best intentions?  Something that is stronger than your self-discipline? 

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The Locked Door.  If you’ve ever heard me speak before, you’ll remember that I’m really big on metaphors.  So even though in this moment we aren’t face to face, I want to invite you into a metaphor with me.  I’m just going to assume that you continue to visit this blog because you are seeking something in your life.  You want to change something, or you feel something lacking, or maybe you sense that there is a Better YOU out there somewhere.  This might be a recent undertaking, or maybe it is something that you have been seeking for a long time.  Whatever the case, it’s as if you are standing right outside of a door that is locked.  And there is something you really, really want on the other side.  So I invite you to take a moment and embrace this metaphor.  Feel yourself standing there, and see the door.  You know that whatever is waiting there for you on the other side will make you very happy. You’d do anything to get inside.  In fact, you have done everything to get inside.  But the door remains locked.

For many of us, often when we really want something – better relationships, losing weight, a better financial situation – for whatever reason, it seems to elude us.  Has that been your experience?  And try as we might, we can’t seem to get that door to open up.  Well, when a door is locked, all of the pounding on it in the world isn’t going to do the trick.  What do you need for a locked door?  A key.  And not just any key – you need the right one.

The problem is, I think we keep picking up the same wrong keys.  Albert Einstein has said that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results.  When I think of the ways I have tried to solve the “great problems of my life,” I find that my approach is often the same:  “I just need more discipline, more commitment, more strategy, more current information.”  Anybody else tried those keys before? And have your results been like mine?  No permanent, lasting change?  Despite my best intentions, I have found myself breaking commitments to myself.  My resolve and discipline can erode away in an instant, and I find myself eating what I said I wouldn’t, or losing patience with my kids like I vowed I wouldn’t do.  Maybe you spend money you promised you wouldn’t spend.  Maybe you continually spend time on things that don’t matter, not making time for priorities.  Whatever your vice, doesn’t it almost feel like there is something working against you?  Some power or force that is stronger than you?

Well, as a matter of fact, there is a force at work that is stronger than your resolve.  It is your mind.  And more specifically, it is that part of your mind called the subconscious.

The Conscious and Subconscious mind

This diagram of an iceberg is very effective in communicating the relationship between your conscious and your subconscious mind.  We know that what we see of an iceberg on the surface is just a small percentage of how big it really is.  This makes it the perfect illustration for the relationship between your conscious and your subconscious minds.  What you can see of the iceberg above the water is proportionate to the part of the mind that we call the “conscious.”  This is the part of your mind that is aware of what is going on…the part that notices things and sets goals.  But the bulk of your mind, like the bulk of the iceberg, resides where you can’t see it.  This is the subconscious mind, and it is responsible for up to 90% of your behavior.  So if you are putting two and two together, you might be starting to realize why resolving over and over again that you are going to get into shape, have patience with your family, or stick to a budget doesn’t seem to work.  Why? Because self-control resides in that tiny portion of the mind referred to as the conscious. Pitted up against the subconscious mind, there is no contest.  All of the self control and resolutions in the world cannot stand up against the brute strength of your subconscious beliefs, perceptions, and identities. But the ironic part is that we keep picking up this same key – the self-discipline, stronger resolve, better self-control – anyway.  It’s like we can’t help it.  We don’t know what else to do. But that key has not- nor will it ever be – the right key to open that locked door.

So can you guess where the key is?  It’s down there – in the subconscious.  The bad news is that it’s not lying out in the open, easy to find and pick up.  But the good news is that you have the ability to find it.  This is a mind tool, and it’s the first one I want you to have in your Tool Box.  It’s called awareness, and it is the seed of a New View.

Emotional Eating

If you find yourself digging through the pantry at times of stress, boredom, or despair,then you need to read this post.

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  For many years, my secret shame was my habit of going to the pantry at night after the kids were all in bed, and eating away all of my stress, troubles, and lack of fulfillment.  Okay, and let me be honest.  It wasn’t just at night.  Late afternoon was a problem, and sometimes it would hit at other times during the day.  Deep down, had I allowed myself the awareness, I would have realized that I was trying to avoid difficult and unpleasant parts of my life.  But I didn’t have the tool of awareness in my toolbox until recently, and so the junk food continued to fill many voids in my life.

Here is the great big problem I began to have:  the more I turned to food, the more I felt lacking in my life.  And the more I felt lacking, the more I had this curious desire for junk food.  This cycle perpetuated itself until it was like a whirlpool from which I could not extract myself.  I knew that eating 12 cookies at a time was wrong, and so I would resolve to never do it again.  And then inevitably, I would find myself with the package of cookies back in my hand, swallowing the 12th one before I even realized what was happening.  And so I would resolve again.  And I would blow it again.  Insanity.  This approach to the problem wasn’t working.

Well, remember that really long and deep post about the conscious and subconscious mind?  This is where that “mind stuff” becomes relevant.   All I was conscious, or aware of, was my unhappiness regarding this problem I had with food.  And consciously, all I could do was to use my willpower and resolve to never do it again.  I would have gone on like this for years and years had I not finally learned to ask myself some very simple questions:

  • What is really going on right now?
  • What am I really feeling?
  • What is it that I want?

We live in a culture that is way too efficient for our own emotional good.  From very early in life, we learned to mentally check out of uncomfortable situations.  For example, if we felt left out of school, it was easier to distract ourselves from our feelings of rejection than to face them.  So people like me turned to a carton of ice cream.  Others might have turned to shopping.  The vices are many, but the motive is always the same: anything but acknowledging and experiencing the negative feeling you are having; anything but allowing myself to honestly answer the kinds of questions above.

And so we complain about the problem we are aware of (the overeating, overspending, etc.)  But believe me when I say that these problems are just symptoms.  The real issue you are having is the result of repressed, unresolved feelings.  And the price you pay for carrying these feelings is greater than any pair of jeans that no longer fit, or any credit card that is maxed out.  The real price is your surrender of personal peace and happiness in order to avoid what you fear will make you unhappy.  Ironic, isn’t it?

On the front page of this blog, my smiling face suggesting that “life is SO good” might annoy you…especially if life doesn’t presently feel good – not good at all.  Maybe it might make you feel better to know that I know exactly how you feel.  For many years, as I was eating away all of my troubles, life didn’t seem so terrific.  Technically, I had no reason to complain.  But inside my heart, I was stressed out, unfulfilled, disappointed with myself, and impatient with my family.  Not so different from everybody else.

The change began when I learned to become aware of my feelings by asking myself the three questions. As I recognized and owned those feelings, instead of trying to avoid them, I learned to transform them into the truth about me instead.  I realized that those feelings of disappointment, guilt, rejection didn’t kill me…and that’s when the miracles started happening. You might be wondering what the miracles were?  For me, it looked like the sudden disappearance of food cravings.  It was the miracle of seeing my life with all of its possibilities.  Most of all, it was feeling peace with who I am, in all of my strengths and imperfections.  That’s what I mean when I say  “life is SO good.”

Geneen Roth has said, “Trying to fill an emotional need with food is like giving a glass of sand to someone dying of thirst.”  Remember that the next time you want to check out of life with a bag of cookies or a carton of ice cream.  When we give ourselves what we really need, when we are kind to ourselves, life transforms into something very different.  Something easier.  Something that is so good.

Create a New View:   Maybe you don’t struggle with food at all.  That doesn’t mean that what I am saying can’t apply to you.  In your journal, ask yourself what you turn to when you are stressed?  What do you use to avoid life? Once you have identified this, visualize the situation in your mind. Feel the stress of the situation.  Now ask yourself, what is really going on?  What are really feeling?  What do you really want right now?  Allow yourself to express what is in your heart.  It probably feels silly, embarrassing, or even scary.  You have repressed these feelings for a reason.  But if you can allow yourself to acknowledge what you are really feeling, you can then look at them logically.  You can ask yourself if what you are feeling is really true.  Realize that just because you feel a certain negative feeling, you are not defined by it.  For example, just because you feel rejected doesn’t mean you are rejected.  Acknowledge the feeling, examine it, and then let it pass.  A foggy day doesn’t mean that the sky isn’t blue.  As the fog clears, the truth is inevitable.   Unacknowledged negative feelings become trapped, and obscure our ability to see the truth.  As you become more proficient with this process, you will be able to sort through stressful situations in life – without manufacturing the additional problem of emotional eating (or whatever it is you turn to.)

Related Posts:  The Hidden Key, Awareness

What Do We Do About Sugar?

Oh, Sugar. Why do you have to taste so good?

bag of sugar - What Do We Do About Sugar?

Let’s daydream for just a moment, shall we?  In the perfect world, cookie dough would be an essential part of a healthy diet.  Anything dipped in chocolate would provide needed vitamins and nutrients. There would be no such thing as proportions.  (My favorite comedian, Brian Regan, says a serving size should be when your spoon hits the bottom of the ice cream carton. Touche!)

Well, that ain’t happenin’!  Back to reality…

What are we going to do about sugar?  Does anyone else out there have a sweet tooth, too?

I am not the authority on this subject, largely because I have strong emotional ties to dessert.  But this much I do know – I find that when I deprive myself of all sugar, there is always a price to pay.  The pendulum always swings the other way, if you know what I mean.  And yet, there is this annoying idea that sugar is it’s own kind of addiction.  Reading between the lines, this means that once it’s in our bodies, we want more and more.  So what is a girl to do?

Also consider the big debate over what is better for you – actual, refined, processed white sugar – or sugar-free substitutes.  Well, here is the truth:  neither is great.  So either way, you pick your poison (literally.)  But there is this whole component to eating called “enjoyment,” and I believe in that.  Yes, I want to be healthy and fit and all of that, but sometimes food can be part of the celebration.  It’s not reality, nor is it lifestyle, to think that you will never eat any treats.  So I just try to choose treats that are my friends.

Yes, you read that right.  Treats can be a friend to your body.  Here is what to look for in a good friend (dessert friend, that is):

Look for a low-calorie version    I used to mock low-fat desserts.  “If you’re going to have dessert,” I reasoned, “Shouldn’t you just have what you love and enjoy it?”  On certain occasions, I think that is fair.  But tell me why I am getting up out of bed each morning and working hard to burn calories, if I’m just going to turn around and fill my body back up with them later in the day?  What if I could have a treat that would still give me some satisfaction, without undoing all of the benefit from my workouts?  I choose having the occasional low-calorie treat AND a fit body.  (Have your cake and eat it too…no pun intended.)

Incorporate protein into the dessert to make it into a meal  If I get a hankering for something sweet, and it is time to eat a snack, I can kill two birds with one stone by using a recipe like this week’s C.H.O.W., protein pudding.  In this dessert, I use sugar-free pudding and sugar-free cool whip (thus eliminating sugar from my body and re-introducing THAT addiction), and mix it up with skim milk and chocolate protein powder.  Create a lot of versions to keep it interesting:  stir the cool whip into the pudding to make a mousse; use different flavors of protein powder and pudding; put the pudding into a low-calorie graham crust and top with berries.

Search the Internet for “Healthy” Dessert Recipes   Some of my favorites are Chocolate Covered Katie, Fit Sugar – see this link for a year’s worth of Fit Sugar’s favorite desserts, and Green Lite Bites – this link is to her dessert page:

Also see my pinterest board for more great dessert recipes.

Last But Not Least…Investigate the Emotions Behind Your Craving    As I mentioned in this week’s post on emotional eating, there are reasons that we suddenly have cravings for certain kinds of foods.  Maybe for you it’s soda, fried foods, fast foods, or potato chips.  Sudden, impulsive desires for your favorite foods that sabotage your fitness and health don’t make sense – at least on the surface. But if you look deeper, you’ll discover a habit that has developed because of its ease.  It is easier to turn to food than it is to deal with the stressful, discouraging, or upsetting situation you are presently in.  Use these sudden cravings as an alarm system; they are warning you that you need to take care of yourself emotionally.  Snuff out those emotions with food, and you snuff out the opportunity to make yourself really happy.  So learn to distinguish between an impulsive craving and an appropriate time to have sugar (or something sweet.)

We make sugar into such a bad guy…but I don’t think he’s so bad.  I don’t mind having a few positive associations to dessert.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, and food is a part of that.  But I know when I am crossing the line, and that’s when I know I need a New View on what to do about sugar.

Food is your Friend

Food 1024x731 - Food is your Friend

When understood and correctly consumed, food actually builds lean muscle.   

You might be surprised to know that there are over 10,000 diets on the market today…and that means there are over 10,000 conflicting theories about what you should do to have a healthy body and reach an ideal weight.  Talk about information overload!

Well, I guess this post makes it 10,001.  I’m not a nutritionist, personal trainer, or doctor.  At best, I guess you could call me a fitness enthusiast.  So why throw my hat into this arena?  A few reasons:

  • I’ve spent way too much of my life worrying about what I have (and haven’t) eaten.
  • I’m tired of crazy nutrition plans that can’t become a part of a realistic lifestyle.
  • I’ve learned that food is not the enemy.

I just can’t do it anymore.  No more counting calories or points.  No more skipping meals if I have the willpower.  No more accepting the cultural indoctrination that food will make my body fat. The bottom line is that if I don’t like the way I look, or if last year’s jeans aren’t fitting just right, I’m tired of pointing the finger at food.  And guess what?  Physiology proves that food is not the bad guy after all.

Here is the real deal:  Food is our friend.  Let that sink in for just a minute.  Doesn’t that make better sense?  Our bodies are engineered to work with food as their fuel. It’s time to know the truth about this.  Food is no more an enemy to our bodies than gas is an enemy to a car.

The real skinny on food is that, when understood and correctly consumed, it actually builds lean muscle mass, which allows our bodies to burn fat even when resting.  In reality, the way we eat is actually 80% responsible for the shape of our bodies.  When we eat foods that support muscle growth and therefore boost the metabolism, food becomes not only something to enjoy but something that works for you.  So the whole objective each time we eat is to choose foods that will feed our muscles.   As we nourish our muscles, they burn up the fat, and everyone is happy.

While we’re on the subject, let’s dispel the myth that less is more when it comes to food.  When we skip or scrimp on meals, we are dispatching an alarming message to our metabolism that we really do not want it to receive:  RED ALERT!  FAMINE PERCEIVED!  STORE EVERYTHING IN THE FAT CELLS!  And even if the trend of being thin does not entice you, the cold hard health facts linking excessive body fat to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes makes this a subject worth your time.  So what is the solution?  We’ve got to constantly reassure our metabolism that we are in a time of plenty.  We do this by eating frequently:  every 2-3 hours.  This means 3 meals a day, with snacks in between.

Yes, food is our friend…but don’t be deceived; some friends are better than others.  Just like friends can build you up or bring you back down, there is a strategy for picking those foods what will work with your body in creating the health you desire.  Understanding how certain foods work with your body is the key.

It’s time for a New View on food, don’t you think?  After all, it’s all in the way you look at it.

Related Posts:  Work Smarter, Not Harder

Turkey Cucumber Slices

I guess this is the unofficial snack week here at New View.  From POW to CHOW and a great post entitled “Snack Ideas,” you should be locked and loaded when it comes to eating a healthy snack that will be a friend to your body.

This is one of the simplest and quickest recipes I’ve got.  The great part about this snack idea is that it is free from processed and refined carbohydrates.  What a great snack to create the health you desire!

IMG 25641 1024x684 - Turkey Cucumber Slices

Turkey Cucumber Slices

Cucumber slices

Turkey

Low-fat cheese slices

Chopped tomato

I know you don’t need directions, but indulge me for just a moment. It just feels good to be able to finish a complete thought:  Top a cucumber slice with a slice of low-fat cheese, a little bit of turkey, some chopped tomato….and okay, okay, if you really want it to look like the picture, you can sprinkle on some dried parsley flakes.  (For the record, I skip that part at home.  No drama for me, thank you very much.)

Enjoy!

Work Smarter, Not Harder

It’s time for eating healthy to be easy. 

That’s a cliché if you’ve ever heard one, but I’ll take it any day!  Who hasn’t burned themselves out with crazy diets, from low carb to counting calories?  That is hard.  No thanks.  Let’s see what smart looks like.

My last nutrition post introduced the idea of frequent meals, a practice that lovingly gives your metabolism the message that life is okay, and survival is looking good.  This understanding alone should assure us that food is, indeed, a friend.  Under such pleasant circumstances, your metabolism releases its anxious hold on the fat.  At least that’s the philosophy.  But you know, and I know, that a frequent and steady diet of your favorite pastries is not going to rev up your metabolism to a fat-burning state.  So what is the catch?

Your body requires the correct types and proportions of foods to support its overall health and your weight loss goals.  To be specific, when we eat and when we exercise, our focus is to build lean muscle.  This is because muscles are your body’s fat burning machinery. In other words, your body will naturally achieve its ideal health and shape when you are feeding your muscles what they need.  In fact, healthy muscles are the only way you can transform your current physical state and maintain it with ease.

So that’s the big secret.  The cat is out of the bag.  Working smarter starts with feeding your muscles what they need.  There are two easy and specific ways we can do this:

1. Feed your body protein each time you eat, (every 2-3 hours.)  

Don’t freak out.  I assure you, I am no Atkins or Southbeach activist.  Remember, I am all about lifestyle.  Carbohydrates are important, too.  Carbs serve all sorts of noble purposes, both physiological and emotional.  But in order to build and sustain muscle, we must feed it a steady diet of protein.  There are many ways to do this.  The key is to plan each meal and snack around a healthy protein source.

2.  Eat the right proportions.

Eating every 2-3 hours, you will prevent yourself from becoming so hungry that you want to eat everything in sight.  After a period of time with this new eating schedule, you’ll find that your body actually begins to get hungry when it is time to eat.  But because of the frequency of your meals and snacks, your portions can be moderate while still giving your metabolism the green light on burning fat.  The following diagram is a good guideline for proportions at mealtimes:

The amount of protein needed at a meal varies from body to body.  Your protein needs at each meal are roughly the size of your own fist.  So in the example above, your plate would consist of a lean serving of protein, a serving of carbs, topping things off with fruits and veggies.

What does this look like in real life?  I’ll tell you, but you can’t hate me.  The truth is, I don’t count calories.  I don’t add up points.  And I don’t eliminate certain foods from my list just because some fad diet recently determined that it wasn’t good for me anymore.  I don’t even obsess over how many grams of protein I eat. I simply plan my meals and snacks around a protein source, and pair it with a healthy carb.  It’s easy, it’s delicious, and it’s effortless.

Now that’s what I call working smarter.  How about that for a New View?

Related posts:  Food is Your Friend