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Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 2- Intuitive Eating

We are coming upon week two of the challenge.  This week's focus is to START the Intuitive Eating.  We have dropped the diet mentality, we have studied the principles of intuitive eating, and now it's time for ACTION!  Are you ready?

This week, we are going to:

Eat when you are hungry:  Go ahead.  EAT!  Give yourself permission to do this!  I have discussed this in greater detail HERE.  Just make sure that you are really hungry, not eating as a solution to something other than hunger.

Prepare your meals- It's no secret that preparing your own meals is healthier than going out to eat.  Take the time to choose quality ingredients. Whole foods make for a healthier, prettier, tastier meal than something out of a box or can.  When the meal tastes, smells, and looks good, you will enjoy it.  PLUS, as you prepare the meal, your senses use that time to send messages to your body, preparing it for what's to come.  The whole thing from the first chop to the final bite becomes an experience!  Enjoy it!

Make each meal a separate event from life: When we eat while on the go, we sometimes don't even realize that we are eating.  This can lead to OVER eating, and not recognizing when we are satisfied.  When meals are a separate experience from life, we take the time to relax, slow down, and enjoy the experience.  I even add something special to each meal. Sometimes, I drink water from a nice glass, or I use my nice dishes, or I might add a piece of dark chocolate and raspberries to the end of the meal.  Whatever you choose to do, make the meal an experience.  It may seem daunting and overwhelming, but it will make a difference, I promise. And, your health is worth it!  I'm not asking you to track calories, I'm asking you to eat a REAL MEAL.

Eat at a table:  This seems easier than it actually is.  Trust me.  Even if you are eating by yourself. Don't eat in front of the TV, or standing at the counter (guilty!) But, SIT DOWN, relax, eat at a table like a civilized human!  Trust me, you will soon be addicted to the slower pace, break from life, that comes from this.

Slow down: Chew slower. Take a chance to smell the food before you put it in your mouth.  Try and taste all of the spices or the natural flavor of the food.  What is it that you like about the food?  NOTICE that you are eating!  If you are eating with others, enjoy their company.  Take smaller bites, and don't talk with your mouth full!  Sheesh!

Ask yourself if your hunger has been satisfied:  Periodically throughout the meal, you will want to pay attention to the signals of being satisfied. I think that this is the hardest part.  Sometimes, the food will taste SO GOOD, that you want to continue eating past the being satisfied.  Remind yourself that you can ALWAYS have this food AGAIN. Once you feel NOT hungry anymore, you will start to notice the small signals of being "full."  You might give a sigh. You might start to feel heavy in your stomach.  These are all signals to STOP eating!  I know that some of you will have an issue with this.  You might feel like you are WASTING food.  IF the food cannot be saved for a later time, go ahead, WASTE it!  DO NOT USE YOUR MOUTH AS A GARBAGE CAN! I would rather throw food away (as much as it pains me- still) than have to pay out a ton more in health care because I used my body as a garbage disposal.  I AM WORTH MORE THAN THE FOOD IS WORTH.

If you are looking to start the challenge from the beginning: CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Drop the Diet Mentality!!!

This week, we are starting a challenge to live "intuitively" for ONE MONTH.  Want to join us?  Read this post to get started. 

Today, we are going to stop dieting!  I mean it! STOP! Stop with the programs, the shakes, the pills, or whatever you are currently FOLLOWING.  Start living your OWN LIFE, not the life that someone else tells you to live....well, except for me.  You can do anything that I tell you to do.  He He.

The main thing that I want you all to do right now, this very second, is to DROP THE DIET MENTALITY.  I want you to stop thinking things like "how many calories is that," "I shouldn't be eating this," and "Is this the correct portion size?"  Why?  Because it isn't healthy for you!  Let me say that one more time...


You might say "But, Cindy? How can that be right?  'The right diet' will make me healthier!  It will teach me how to eat!  I will lose weight!"

Well, you MIGHT lose weight, at first, and you might even keep it off. But is it healthy?  Hmm...  well, lets see what the studies say.

Did you know that in 2007, a team of UCLA researchers reviewed 31 long-term studies on dieting and concluded that "dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain- up to two-thirds of the people regained more weight than they lost."  (Mann, et al 2007)  Also, another study done on nearly 17,000 kids in 2003 concluded, " the long term, dieting to control weight is not only ineffective, it may actually PROMOTE weight gain!"  (Field et al. 2003, emphasis added.) 

portrait image of Dr. Ancel Keys
Dr. Ancel Keys
That is crazy huh!  There are so many more examples of how dieting is more harmful than good!  I remember reading in multiple books, Intuitive Eating included, of a study that was done in World War II, designed to help famine sufferers. This study was known as The Minnesota Starvation Experiment. The subjects of the study were 36 (ending with 32 because 2 men dropped out and another 2 cheated) healthy men who were selected because they had superior "psychobiological stamina,"- meaning they were in superior mental and physical health. Dr. Ancel Keys, a physiologist, conducted the experiment over a years time. In the first three months, the men were able to eat as they pleased, averaging almost 3,500 calories per day. The next six months was the semi-starvation period.  The men were required to lose 19-28% of their weight.  Calories were cut nearly in HALF! The effects of this period mirrored the effects of chronic dieting:

  • Metabolic rate decreased by 40%
  • The men were obsessed with food and often had heightened food cravings
  • Eating styles roller-coastered between ravenous eating and stalling out the eating experience...even playing with their food.
  • Several men failed to adhere to the diets and even struggled with bulimia, and one man was dismissed from the experiment for blatently breaking the rules and even stealing penny candy!
  • Some men exercised deliberately to obtain increased food rations
  • In many cases, personality changes took place with the onset of irritability, apathy, moodiness, and depression.
Once the men were allowed to eat again, their hunger became more intense.  They found it difficult to STOP eating. Weekend binges added up to almost 10,000 calories! 

Note that all of this was WITHOUT the pressures of celebrities, television, and media that we face today! Imagine if this study was done under today's pressures to remain thin! You can read about the full study HERE, HERE, and read a PDF HERE

 The problem with consistent dieting is two fold. First, it usually builds into a period of overeating. Second, when the mind gets used to ignoring hunger signals, they begin to fade and you don't hear them anymore, OR you can only hear EXTREME hunger, leading to ravenous eating. 

As we start the challenge of Intuitive Eating and listening to our bodies, it is important to understand WHY dieting is NOT the answer. When it comes to our health, all men are NOT created equal.  There is no blanket diet plan that works for everyone.  Do you believe that two women that weigh the exact same, are the same age and height, and are both moderately active, both will see success with the exact same diet plan? I don't.  I think that how we are build on the INSIDE makes a huge difference.  Metabolism rates, hormones, and moods make a difference in our health as well.  Therefore, losing weight in a healthy way means MORE than following a set amount of calories. 

Dropping the diet mindset is not easy.  After all, most of us have been "watching our weight" since we were very young.  You will be amazed that the crazy thoughts that you have go through your mind.  I still think to myself "I shouldn't have this doughnut.  I'll gain weight from it."  REALLY!?! Like ONE doughnut is going to make me gain weight!  LOL!  How absurd! I also think "Wow, I'm halfway through my meal, and I'm not sure that I even know how it tastes!" 

Keep me updated on your thoughts as you try this experiment!  What do you notice?  Do you still feel guilty for eating that piece of pie?  Do you enjoy your food more? Do you notice that you are even eating at all? What does YOUR body tell YOU? Write down the funny thoughts and post them here! We will all get a good laugh and it will help you to see that it's OK to drop the diet mentality! 

 I want to know. Anyone?  Anyone??

Monday, September 23, 2013

Are You Up For A Challenge???

SO, I thought that I was really onto something awhile ago when I had the idea of listening to your body to tell you what to eat, when to eat, how to exercise, and when to sleep.  It sounds crazy- even to me.  But I have found that there are days when I actually NEED to eat more than the 1300 calories myfitnesspal says that I need. In some ways, I was starving myself.  And when I did eat more than the allotted amount, I felt guilty, like I had done something bad. It seemed crazy to me to think that I MIGHT NEED to eat more than I was, but it also sounded crazy to think that there was a "one size fits all" approach when it came to eating and caloric intake. The more that I researched to help myself become healthier, the more I realized that I didn't agree with the mainstream idea of diet and exercise.

Once again, I found myself struggling because I felt that I was lacking knowledge.  I am not a doctor, or a nutritionist.  I'm not a personal trainer. I'm  But I have always trusted my decisions when both my mind and my heart were in sync.  It wasn't until I sat down to write my own personal beliefs that I really decided to change my ideas.  This decision wasn't easy, and I found myself thinking that I was onto something REVOLUTIONARY!  Ha Ha!  I was excited and interested and when I  found out that other people had already thought of this idea! LOL! Go figure.

So, I found a book called "Intuitive Eating" that I told you about in an earlier post. In this post, you can read a summary of the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating.  I was so excited to see that these thoughts followed right along with what I was feeling and thinking. You can imagine how anxious I was to get started and see how it worked. You can read about the results in THIS POST.  

Since this time, a month ago, I have been doing my best to practice these principles.  Like most things, there have been ups and downs. The difference with this, is that I am CONSISTENTLY getting thinner and feeling healthier. I am surprised at how little it actually takes to satisfy my hunger.  I am surprised at how often I want to be active. I still eat what I want, when I want.  I eat as much as I need.  I sleep better.

This has made me wonder if others would feel the same. So, today, I start a challenge!

For the month of October, we are going to be intuitive!  Each week, we will have a different focus. Using the Facebook Page, we will keep in touch with how all y'all are doing!  I will post motivating and informational posts on there.  At the end of the month, we will gather the results and I will host a secret, exclusive giveaway.  ONLY THOSE PARTICIPATING IN THE CHALLENGE WILL GET LINK TO THE GIVEAWAY! Instructions for this will be given at a later time. :)

Week 1: Getting started. Study the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating.  Lose the "diet mentality," and practice asking yourself these questions:
           1. Am I Hungry?
           2. How do I know that I am hungry? (looking for physical signs                  of hunger)
           3. What will satisfy my hunger? (looking for food that will satisfy                   the physical needs, but also other senses- taste, touch/texture,                 smell, look of the food, a satisfying environment, etc.

            1. Eat Slowly
            2. Enjoy the atmosphere.
            3. Is my hunger satisfied? (Ask this multiple times while eating.)
            4. Stop when you are no longer hungry... NOT WHEN YOU ARE FULL.

Make sure to eat when you are hungry!  Don't wait until you are STARVING!  

Week 2: Intuitive Eating
Week 3: Intuitive Exercise
Week 4: Intuitive Sleeping

Since following a more intuitive lifestyle, I can honestly say that I am happier, and I think that we all can agree that the results speak for themselves. I am anxious to see if you guys all have the same success as I do. You will feel nervous.  It is scary!  But kinda cool!

Remember, this can be done with ANY limitation that you might have. If you are diabetic, gluten intolerant, vegan, whatever. You can do this.  The idea is that your body will tell you what is good for you and what isn't.  OBVIOUSLY, if you have one of those issues, your body has ALREADY told you that it has certain needs.  ;)

SO, what do you think?  Are you in? Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are.  Are you nervous? Do you think Intuitive Eating works? Have you ever tried this before?

Fill me in!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Intuitive Sleeping??

With all of the talk that I have done about listening to your bodies signals on eating and exercise, I thought that I would do some research on SLEEPING.  A few months ago, I wrote about the effects that sleeping has on our minds vs. our physical bodies.   Recently, I have been thinking more about the actual HEALTH BENEFITS that a good nights rest brings! How important is it? Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well being, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. Why?  Well, maybe they have sleep disorders, perhaps they have kids that wake them up (THIS girl!,) or, maybe they just stay up too late or get up too early.

According to psychologist and sleep expert David F. Dinges, Ph.D., of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, irritability, moodiness and disinhibition are some of the first signs a person experiences from lack of sleep. If a sleep-deprived person doesn’t sleep after the initial signs, said Dinges, the person may then start to experience apathy, slowed speech and flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to be novel or multitask. As a person gets to the point of falling asleep, he or she will fall into micro sleeps (5-10 seconds) that cause lapses in attention, nod off while doing an activity like driving or reading and then finally experience hypnagogic hallucinations, the beginning of REM sleep. (Dinges, Sleep, Sleepiness and Performance, 1991)

Whoa!  That's crazy!  Now, I know that this might bore you and that you are probably nodding off right now, But I think this is interesting! So, if I don't get enough sleep, I will basically become the "bat-crazy witchy redhead!" (Save the redhead jokes for later... we all know the reputation that redheads have for being a LITTLE bat-crazy witchy anyway. They are all true. Done.)  So, apathy, slowed speech, moodiness, are ALL things that I am on a quest to overcome, AND I have done pretty well thus far.  

Ok, so according to the NSF, the recommended amount of sleep that we should ALL get per night is between 6-8 hours. How many of you actually GET that amount every night???  

Yeah, that's what I thought.  But, you know, I'll admit a little something.  I think I actually do WORSE when I get 8 hours of sleep. *GASP*  Seriously though, I feel groggy, my mind isn't clear, my body aches.  I have the best mattress in the world (Intelli-gel)  but if I sleep past 6 hours, I'm tired for the whole day.  For the most part, I have found that if I get right around 6 hours, I feel more energetic and awake. SOOOO..... of course, this got me thinking.  Is there such a thing as intuitive sleeping?

We all have a Circadian Rhythm, which is basically physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness. In the case of SLEEP, the Circadian Rhythm responds MOSTLY to darkness.  Our bodies release melatonin and make us tired.  When the light shines through our windows, we wake up.  What would our bodies do if the light never came? What if we used a sleep mask or hotel grade blackout curtains?  (Love those!)  Can our bodies be reset to follow a healthier, more natural sleep cycle?  My first instinct is YES.  But, I wasn't sure how.

Step 1: Allow yourself ample sleep time. The old saying "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" was one of the first things that popped into my head. It makes sense that if we go to bed earlier, we will wake up earlier. My only beef with this is... well, kids. If I want ANY time with hubby, I have to get it after the boys are in bed.  That means, things settle down around here at about 9:00 (or 17:00 if you are talking to hubby.) Even so, my first goal was to go to bed earlier that I might allow myself plenty of time get the amount of sleep that I needed.  

Step 2: Quit Whining! Have a good attitude about the amount of sleep that you are getting.  I noticed that it didn't matter how much sleep I ACTUALLY got.  If I THOUGHT that I wasn't going to get enough sleep, I would automatically FEEL like I didn't get enough sleep.  A perfect example of this was the night that I stayed up until 12:30.  It FELT late.  I had been fighting the urge to go to bed for a couple of hours.  I had to wake up "early" (7:30) the next morning.  
In reality, I still got 7 hours of sleep.  If we believe what we are told by the NSF, that is a perfect amount of time!  But WHY did I still feel tired when I woke up?  
                1. My attitude.  I TOLD myself that I was going to be tired. 
                2. I had fought the tiredness for a couple of hours.  I SHOULD have gone to bed earlier.  As a result, I probably ended up with a little sleep debt of my own.

Step 3: NO light!  Use your bodies natural clock!  This is totally hard, and may take some planning ahead. Even if you tried this for just one night, it's worth it!  It is SO NICE to just....sleep.  Once your circadian rhythm is set to your body, the outside factors won't have as much of an effect on you. 

Step 4: Allow Yourself time for your Circadian Rhythm to be reset.  This really doesn't take long.  I am already feeling the difference in my sleep patterns.  I think it probably took me a week.  Although that task seems daunting.  I still used an alarm clock to wake up when I HAD to, but I didn't ever sleep UNTIL the alarm went off.  On most days, I found myself waking up BEFORE the alarm.  In fact, almost always, without fail, it was 5 MINUTES before the alarm.  The reason for this is that our bodies are aware of outside needs.  We are aware of the fact that we HAVE to be gone at a certain time.  We just don't trust ourselves to wake up, so we use the alarm.  
The problem with this is that we then RELY on the alarm.  Instead of waking up naturally, we tell ourselves that it is OK to keep sleeping UNTIL the alarm.  It's not. 

Sleep when your tired. Rise when you wake.
Take a nap if needed, not just because.

Obviously, life isn't perfect.  Kids disturb your sleep, the dog outside won't quit barking, the bed is uncomfortable, and your mind just won't stop going.  But I think that the idea behind Intuitive Sleep is a worthy practice to try to maintain, just know that it will never be perfect.  It's one of those, "sometimes is better than never" ideals. 

So far, it's been nice for me.  I don't feel groggy during the day, and very rarely "wake up on the wrong side of the bed."  I WILL say that there have also been days when life has gotten the best of me and I find myself waking up at 2:30 two nights in a row, unable to go back to sleep until 6:00 because my mind is racing.

C'est La Vie!

I think that you should give this a shot!  You will like it!  Take a weekend, go to bed when you are tired, rise when you wake up.  Get your Sunshine time in early in the morning.  Breathe the air. Eat your food. Read some scriptures. Ponder life. Be happy.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Doin' What Comes Natr'ally

I had a dream last night that I was back in high school.  You will all be excited to hear that I got asked to the dance that I was hoping I would get asked to. Along with this high school experience came the awkward feelings of constantly being judged.  Now, I didn't have a sucky high school experience in REAL life, in fact, I dare say it was pretty normal.  Although I didn't have a specific group of friends that I "hung out" with, I did have many friends that I felt comfortable around.  Like most people, I did my fair share of gossiping, and I am sure that I received my fair share of gossip and drama. Unlike my dream, I was actually only asked to ONE dance during my whole ENTIRE high school experience.  I choose to attribute this to two things: 1) As I said before, I didn't have a specific group of friends that I hung out with and therefore, I didn't have friends that promised to go with me, and 2) I like to think that I was such a hot tamale that all of the boys thought that I had already been asked!  Overall, I enjoyed my time served in the high school institution, and, like most people I couldn't WAIT for graduation.

Today, this dream made me think about my life SINCE high school.  Well, I'll sum it up. I graduated, went to college, did theatre at various levels, went on a mission for my church, did some more college, met my husband, got married, tried to have children, actually HAD children, and am currently trying to not screw them up.

My life since high school can be summed up in a paragraph. Perhaps this is why I am still dreaming of high school!  I haven't changed a lot, and yet I have changed enough that I feel like a totally different person since those days of gossip, drama, and perfume fights in a store. One thing that has NOT changed is my insecurity about my body.

The skirt looked like this.
Mine was green. 
My Senior year, I was in a play for the theatre class that I was in.  It was a Broadway Review. In one number particular, there were four girls (myself included,) that were singing the song "Doin' What Comes Natr'ally" from the muscial Annie Get Your Gun. (That's funny because I just got done writing a HUGE post about doing what comes naturally to us! LOL!) ANYWAY, We had to wear these short skirts that about 4 inches above the knee, but they might have well been just long enough to cover my tush because I FELT SO UNCOMFORTABLE.  I looked at the other girls, and they had these skinny, tan, legs.  Mine were....shapely.  I wasn't over weight, I just have German legs.  I felt that I didn't look as good as THEY did in their skirts.  I took my concerns to the director (a student teacher from the local University that is still a dear friend of mine today,) and he sat me down and said.  "Cindy, I think that you look the BEST in this costume.  You look great! I won't let you be embarrassed."  I realize that in today's world, he could have gotten himself in a lot of trouble by saying that, (which is ridiculous, but that is for another time.) But to me, an insecure teenager that just wanted to be liked by EVERYONE, those words meant the world to me, and I wore the costume with confidence. I still hate the song though.

Today, I remembered about my very first post as The Healthy Redhead. I was SO SCARED!  I had put my "Before" pictures up on the internet and I was FREAKING OUT!  Now, I am HAPPILY married, but what if the cute boy from HIGH SCHOOL saw these pictures!  What would HE think?  What about the boy from college that I had a crush on?  What about my friends from high school.  Then, I remembered a conversation that I had with one particular friend.

We were in the mall and I saw a lady that was quite overweight. Her clothes were too tight and she was riding up the escalator.  I turned to my friend, and in the tone of a true, hurtful, teenager, I said "If I ever get like THAT, shoot me."  We laughed and laughed and she told me that she would not let me get that way. Off we went to try on our cute little clothes with some cute little shoes and eat our cute little pretzel bites and go on our cute little way. Friends.  I BECAME that lady.  Every day, I wish that I could go back to that lady in the mall and say "You don't know me, but I was really mean to you!  I'm sorry.  I UNDERSTAND now."

I have read blogs that are HATEFUL towards overweight people.  I see comments all the time. I'm sure that you all remember THIS.

How many have seen this?

Is it really the case that ALL OF US don't progress past high school?  Can we all sum up our life SINCE then in just one paragraph and therefore spend our time fulfilling our lives by STILL putting others down?  I walked into a room today at church where one of the ladies there said to me "You were a topic of conversation a minute ago." I know what was being said was not mean or hurtful.  But when she said that to me, my heart skipped a beat.  I was scared and nervous that not-so-nice words were being said about me.  HOW CRAZY IS THAT?  HOW TEENAGER IS THAT?

I am SO SICK of that!  All of this contributed to my starting The Healthy Redhead.  I wanted a place where I could go and feel comfortable. I wanted others to feel comfortable sharing their stories. Not only did I want to feel healthier physically, I wanted to feel healthier emotionally and spiritually as well. I needed confidence, friendship, and positive people in my life. And, I got it!  BOY, did I get it!

I have been on an amazing journey over the past four months. So many of you have shared your stories with me via Facebook message or email, or in person.  I am inspired by this.  I am inspired by all of you that are looking to better your life.  Whether you are looking to be healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, you all inspire me.

 Give me a little bit of time and I will be able to write paragraph after paragraph of my life SINCE high school. I have almost 1,000 friends on my personal Facebook Page.  Just over 100 of them "Like" The Healthy Redhead page.  Then, there are those of you whom I have never met, but still follow the blog or the Facebook page.  Right now, we are almost at 150 "likes."  It doesn't seem like much, but it really IS. PEOPLE THAT I DON'T KNOW READ THIS!!!  AND, THEY LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE!!  HOLY COW!!  That is awesome! Well, it is to me. You are my posse! I am comfortable and secure knowing that I have friends that are here to climb this mountain with me.  Thanks for your support. I hope that I can return the favor some day.  You are true friends. I don't expect you to tell me how cute I look in my dress, or how cute my shoes are. I actually don't care, and I don't know what to say when you DO say things like that.  Nope, I just want the "good job" pat on the back, the smile, or the comments here or on the page.

Let all of US help YOU.  Invite friends and family members to join the page and don't be afraid to post.  I WANT to hear what you are doing every day to become healthier in some way.  Ask questions!  There are a ton of us around that could answer! This isn't high school.  This isn't a click.  We don't judge here. We just smile, laugh, and support each other.  This journey is no longer just about me, I get embarrassed being the only one that ever posts anything! ;)  And, you don't have to be a redhead to be a part of our group!  ;)

It's natural to be insecure. It's natural to compare yourself to others. It's natural to worry about what others will think. I'm just not so sure that it's healthy. What IS healthy is to build your self esteem, support others in their endeavors and be truly happy for them, and genuinely build your friendships.  The best friendships that you will build in your life are those from people that climb the mountains with you, not the ones that tell you whether you look good doing it or tell you how. Nope, true friendships are made through shared experiences.

We are not in high school anymore! Woo Hoo!!

Much love to all!


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