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Archive for the ‘Health and Well Being’ Category

“This year I’m going to stay on my diet and lose weight.” How many years have you made this promise to yourself only to find that you’ve fallen off the weight-loss-band-wagon?

The reasons for blowing your diet are plenty. Favorite excuses include, “I work hard, I deserve a good meal.” “Why should I diet when no one else seems to be worrying about what they’re eating?” and “I’ll never be thin anyway.”

“I’ve used those excuses and plenty of variations,” says Mary D., a social worker in Atlanta. “Every Monday I’d go on a diet. Sometimes I’d last for several days, sometimes a week. But then I’d be off the diet and into the potato chips. I took care of my emotional needs with food. If I was feeling lonely or had a disagreement with one of my children, I’d grab the peanut butter jar and dig in. Food was my salvation.”

Most overeating is not about the belly but the brain. The true key to weight loss and a healthy body is changing the neuro-landscape of the brain. Learn to harness your thoughts and you’ll change the way you behave. And you will lose weight.

Before Mary goes to a party, she says she prepares herself for battle because she knows attitude is everything and it’s mind over matter. “I tell myself, It’s only one party. I can get through it without overeating.” I also limit myself to no more than six snacks, which might include a drink, three shrimps, a piece of cheese, and a brownie. I use the acronym “HALT” on and off throughout the day, which reminds me, “Don’t get too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely, or too Tired.”

When Jill needs an emotional fix, instead of turning to food she calls a friend, talks to her husband, reads, writes in her journal, takes a walk or prays. “I take heart in knowing that I’m not alone in my struggle with food,” she says.

Carol of St. Louis once wore a size 24. She never weighed herself or exercised, and claims she never denied herself  “anything” when it came to food. But she has now gotten on the weight-loss wagon. Each night after watching a late TV show she calls to leave a message on her therapist’s voice mail. She reports calorie intake and the minutes she spent exercising. “It makes me accountable,” she says. “If I didn’t have to call and report, I know I’d be cheating.”

“I used to think about food and what I was going to eat. Now I think about what it’s going to do to me. “I’ve lost almost 70 pounds–and I’m determined to continue to lose.”

“Last week I told my therapist that I feel so thin. She said that I wasn’t. And that thinking I was thin wasn’t helpful at this point in time. We had a good laugh and made a pact that a year from now I will be thin.”

Are you willing to make the same pact? If so, when will you get started?

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” (a middle grade read) as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” www.doriswildhelmering.com.

 

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Take the following: Are You an Emotional Eater Quiz.

1. Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
2. Do you eat or continue eating even if the food doesn’t taste good?
3. Do you eat when you can’t think of anything else to do?
4. Do you eat after an argument or stressful situation to calm yourself down?
5. Do you eat to reward yourself?
6. Do you keep eating even after you’re full?

Each “yes” indicates that you’re eating in response to your feelings. In other words, the primary reason you’re eating is because of your emotions. The key to getting emotional eating under control is awareness. Before you take a bite, ask yourself: “What am I feeling?” Let yourself feel the feeling for five minutes without eating. Then figure out something else you can do to help relieve it instead of putting yet another bite in your mouth.

 

Visit Doris at www.doriswildhelmering.com.
Check out her middle grade book as well as her parent and teacher guide.

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Do you realize that your thoughts determine how you behave? If you learn to harness and control your thoughts, you’ll change your behavior. You can change what, when, where, how often and how much you eat, and you will lose weight. And it all starts with harnessing your thoughts. In other words, it’s mind over matter.

One thing you can do is to become an “Impartial Observer” of yourself.

Every time you start to put something in your mouth say, “I am aware.” For example,
I’m aware that I’m eating the rest of my son’s peanut butter sandwich.
I’m aware that I’m going to the freezer for my third bowl of ice cream.
I’m aware that I’m walking down the hall to buy a candy bar from the vending machine.

Becoming aware of your eating is one of the most important ways to stop overeating and get into control of your weight.

Another way to change your brain is to change the way the way you talk to yourself in your head.
For example, instead of saying, “I can’t lose weight. Say I won’t lose weight.” If you say I can’t, you’re putting yourself in a victim position. And you’ll definitely feel helpless to do anything about your weight. If you say I won’t lose weight, you’re now in control. You’re in the driver’s seat. You’re making the decision and at any point you can decide to start working out, watch your food intake and lose weight.

Another change you can make — don’t say, “I’m fat” or “I’m so overweight.” Because if you do, you are defining yourself as a fat person. Say instead, “I carry too much weight on my body.” Now you’ve distanced yourself from your weight. You’ve put it out there and you can do something about it.

Another neuro-linguistic, mind-over-matter technique is to use picture words when you talk to yourself. Instead of saying, “I’m going to be careful at lunch today”, say instead, “I’m going to order a salad with grilled chicken strips. I’ll have the dressing on the side. And I’ll order an espresso for my dessert”.

By using picture words, you can see that lunch sitting there on the table. Right?

Or instead of saying “I’m going to exercise today”, say instead, “I’m going to put on my red tennis shoes, walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and listen to some rock n’ roll”. Now you’ve painted a picture in your head, you can see yourself on the treadmill listening to the radio. And because of this picture, you’re more likely to follow through and do it.

Mental pictures trigger electrochemical changes in your brain that turn your thoughts into action.

Visit Doris at www.doriswildhelmering.com.
Check out her middle grade book as well as her parent and teacher guide.

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Stop revving your engines, follow through on finding solutions to your problems.

An individual in one of my therapy groups was talking about a suggestion he had read in the book “Feeling Good-The New Mood Therapy.”

It went something like this: If a person always has to be pushed and nudged to get the job done, he should buy himself a wrist counter (worn like a watch). Every time he acts responsibly and initiates something, he gets to press the counter. Being able to count the actual times he took charge would encourage him to initiate taking more responsibility. A bit like the old saying, “Success builds success.”

After the man’s explanation, a woman in the group turned to him and said, “Well, did you get yourself the counter?”

The man laughed a little sheepishly and said, “No.” After some kidding, this guy agreed to buy himself one. The next thing, of course, will be whether the fellow uses it or lets it lie on his dresser.

As I left the group, I got to thinking about the fact that this kind of thing often happens. A person, or even a company, will get excellent information on how to go about solving a problem. When the solution is presented initially, there is a burst of enthusiasm. Two or three weeks later the solution is forgotten and the problem is brought up again.

The reason for this get-nowhere phenomenon is that it’s generally easier to talk about a problem than to take the necessary steps to solve it.

Solutions are often available, but it takes thought and effort to follow through. It’s often easier to rev the engine, staying in your car with your wheels spinning, than to get out and start pushing.

What problem do you need to solve today? Take courage. Be proactive. Do what needs to be done to solve it!

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Taking this quiz on perfectionism will help you determine if you’re a perfectionist.

Do you fear making mistakes more than those around you do?
When you do make a mistake, do you overreact with anger, defensiveness and self-criticism?
Do you remember critical remarks more than you remember praise?
Do you operate from a belief system that says there is a right way to do everything, including folding socks, loading the dishwasher, writing a paper, reading a book?
Do you have difficulty relaxing because there is always something more to be done?
Do you drive yourself with such statements as “you should do this”and “you ought to do that”?
Do you avoid starting a job because your standards are so high that you don’t have time to complete it?

If you answered yes to five of these questions, more than likely you are trying to be too much of a perfectionist.

It’s fine to want to do your best and even to excel in certain areas, but to continually measure your self-worth by how much you get done and how well you do it can be self-destructive. Not only are you a more difficult person to live with (you secretly have the same high standards for everyone), but you are more likely to suffer from depression, performance anxiety and anxiety in social situations.

One thing you might do is observe how others who are not perfectionists live. You don’t have to pick someone whom you view as a slob. Choose a person who seems to be more middle-of-the-road. Someone, for example, who takes pride in her work but whose desk is never in good order.

Once you’ve picked out your less-perfectionistic brother or sister, find one thing the person does that you admire. If she can leave her desk with things still to do, allow yourself the same privilege. And see it as a privilege, not as a weakness.

Another thing you might do is to adopt a favorite phrase that you can chant in your head while taking a shower or driving your car. You can say something like, “I count more than my accomplishments” or “I’m a good person just for being.”

One fellow was able to give up some of his compulsive drive for perfectionism when I explained that if he were perfect, no one could possibly add anything to his life. His need to be perfect was actually a way of keeping people at a distance.

Having high standards and pursuing excellence is a fine goal, and it does give people a great deal of satisfaction and joy when they do well. But having too high of standards can be self-defeating.

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Embrace resiliency, amplify your strengths – believe in yourself and lose weight.
If watching your weight and keeping to an exercise regimen seems a drag, try switching your frame of reference. View weight watching and exercise as a privilege. See it as a way to build stamina, character and resiliency. Dr. Paul Pearsall, neuropsychologist and author of the “Beethoven Factor” refers to adversity as “stress-related-growth.” Dr. Suzanne Segerstrom, professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky says “a persistent attitude is as good as a positive one.”

What happens when you lose weight? You feel great about yourself. You walk differently. You hold your body differently. You convey to the world, “I like myself.” And you do. You feel good and accomplished. And when other challenges come into your life, you may not like them, but you know you have the grit, the stamina, the hardiness to deal with them.

Think about yourself when you get off the treadmill, finish doing your last set of reps or laps in the pool, you have a renewed sense of self. A belief that you’re strong and tough and can handle anything down the road.

Resiliency is like a muscle: You have to challenge it to make it stronger. Resilient people aren’t necessarily braver or stronger than others, but they have learned to move beyond themselves, to grab the baton of responsibility and run with it. In doing so, they erase their weaknesses and amplify their strengths.

So whistle while you work out. Take a bow when you pass up a fatty food. Tell yourself, “Look at me, I am strong, I choose to be active the whole day long.” As positive psychology points out, “Don’t languish, flourish. Don’t merely survive, thrive. Be satisfied with the past, be happy with the present, and be optimistic about the future.”

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When Jack was a young man, he was a bad stutterer.

“I had a job, but I felt that if I couldn’t communicate verbally, it would hold me back,” said Jack. So 30 years ago Jack searched for the best speech therapy school in the United States.

“I wrote letters, made phone calls, talked to local speech therapists,” Jack explained. The good news was, I located the school, The Institute of Logopedics in Wichita, Kansas. The bad news — the minimum treatment course was three months.

“I had been married about a year and a half and I had just taken a different job. My wife was pregnant with our oldest daughter. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t feel I had any other option.”

“I went, but I went with a real bad attitude. None of my friends stuttered. None of them had to go to Wichita. Why me, God?”

When Jack got to the institute, things got worse. “They treated every imaginable defect,” he said. “Lots of accident victims, stroke victims, children with cerebral palsy. Their ages ranged from 6 to about mid-seventies. It was the first time in my life I had been around a lot of handicapped people. It was real uncomfortable for me to be around those folks, and it added to my sense of feeling sorry for myself.”

At the start of his last week, Jack was waiting outside his therapist’s office when a 7-year-old boy with cerebral palsy came out of the office with his football helmet on. “The CP kids had to wear football helmets from the time they got up in the morning to the time they went to bed so they wouldn’t hurt themselves,” he explained.

On Jack’s next-to-last day his therapist asked if he’d come to his next session a little early. “I got there early,” said Jack. “I was standing in the hall waiting, when this 7-year-old kid walked out with the therapist. The therapist gently pushed the boy toward Jack and motioned for Jack to listen to the boy. “The kid looked at me and said, ‘Hello, Jack.'”

Although the words were somewhat garbled, Jack understood and replied, “Hey, that’s my name. I didn’t know you knew how to talk.” “The kid puffed up like a toad, beamed, and struggled off down the hall,” Jack said.

When Jack went into the therapist’s office, the therapist asked, “What do you think is the longest block you’ve ever had before you could talk, Jack?”

Jack replied, “About 30 seconds.”

The therapist came back sharply: “Well, the longest hesitation I’ve observed is only about five seconds.”

Jack said, “I knew what he was saying. It was like he had punched me in the stomach — it was a revelation. That was some therapy session, and it didn’t have anything to do with fluency. I realized I had been feeling sorry for myself.”

The therapist then explained, “That kid, Robert, he’s been working here for two hours a day, for the last six days, to be able to say, ‘Hello, Jack.'”

“It turns out that kids with cerebral palsy often don’t live as long as others do,” said Jack. “And Robert was no exception. When I found out that he died, the saddest thing for me was that he never knew what he had done. This kid who was in my life for a day changed my life forever.”

“Robert didn’t have much of a vocabulary. And ‘feel sorry for myself’ were words that definitely weren’t in his.”

For most of us it’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves when life isn’t fair, or someone disappoints us, or something doesn’t go as planned. When you start to feel sorry for yourself, think of Robert and  his struggle to say, “Hello, Jack.”

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