Tag Archives: weight loss

Live Your Life, Love Your Food

There was a time in my life where I was obsessed with food, and like all obsessions, this one took some time to unravel.

When I was being good, I was following someone else’s plan about how and what I should eat. Certain foods were off-limits, though if I’m honest with myself, I wasn’t entirely sure why. I expended a lot of time and energy to follow this plan.

My life looked something like this:

I’d use my Sundays to pre-select, shop, and prep my meals and snacks for at least the next 3-5 days. In addition, I’d diligently enter all the recipes into MyFitnessPal so they’d be ready for me to track, and plan my exercise schedule for the week (because of course that affected my allotted calories). I actually grew to enjoy these Sundays, throwing on some music and cooking up a storm.

But I can’t say I really did much else those days.

Weekdays were challenging, especially as the days turned into evenings, and Mondays into Fridays.

I loved Monday, because every week was the opportunity for a new start. I’d feel all motivated and ready from my Sunday “food chore” day!

And breakfasts were always easy for me. I was home–maybe I’d done a yoga practice or some exercise in the morning; so I felt content and confident for the day. (If I’d slept well….)

By lunchtimes I’d likely have been in 2-3 meetings, few of which I was truly interested in, some of them high-stress or contentious for whatever reason. Lunch looked like sifting through emails that had been piling up OR running off to another meeting. (Noon was often the only time people on a project team were “free”, because of all the other meetings they were in!) Team members scampered through the cafeteria, dashed into the conference room, and then scarfed down their food to get on with it. Initially I did the same with the healthy food I brought.

By 3 or 4 pm, I’d likely have some free time in my office to eat my snack. So I’d pull one of those Fiber One bars out of the box in my desk drawer–you know, that healthy bar with all the chocolate pieces in it!–and devour it while trying to catch up on things that had happened while I’d been in more meetings. But I wasn’t satisfied, so I’d eat another. Pretty soon the box I’d brought for the week would be empty.

Sometimes this would happen early in the week. Other times I’d have a streak of good days, and the cycle wouldn’t start until later. But it was always the same once I’d gone on a binge…:

I’d realize and track what I’d done, to see how badly I’d gone over my calorie allotment for the day. “Well shit,” I’d think. “Today’s a bust. Screw it then.”

More tight deadlines, more difficult meetings, more challenging conversations, and then traffic on the way home.

Then I’d not necessarily eat what I’d prepared for dinner. And if I did, I’d eat something else too. And something else after that.

I needed to unwind from the day!

One of my favorites was BudiBars. At one point, I’d buy a case–as in, for the month–and store the box in my garage so that every time I ate one, I’d have to run up and down the stairs. Unfortunately, this didn’t prevent me from eating the whole box within a couple days. They ARE healthy, right?

Sunday I’d repeat the process. Monday I’d reset. Can you guess what happened? Yup. I kept gaining (rather than maintaining or losing) weight. I knew this, because I’d weigh myself every morning: buck naked, at the exact same time (just to be sure).

I was frustrated because I was putting in SO much effort. I was trying so hard not to eat certain things. Internally, I’d tell myself I was “fat and disgusting” over and over again, thinking it might finally sink in and I’d stop eating things I didn’t want to eat. On more positive days, I might tell myself I could overcome this, that I could be strong.

And it started to feel like there was some internal demon who made me eat way too much no matter how hard I resisted!

Can you feel this? It really sucked.

This cycle caused me to study Eating Psychology, and become a coach. And now I know there are SEVERAL reasons why all this didn’t work for me…and why it actually worked AGAINST me.

Boy do I wish I had known these reasons BEFORE!!  So much of my life could have been different. So much time saved, so much energy put to other uses. I don’t regret this phase of my life because it taught me a ton, but you know, it would have been nice to have been able to focus on other things: tending to relationships, contributing to the world, that sort of thing!

Among the pile of reasons this way of living wasn’t working was that I was not receiving any PLEASURE from my food. Apart from the prep-time, I was barely looking at it, and I certainly wasn’t tasting it.

Do you get pleasure from your food? Does it look amazing? Does it taste even more amazing? 

  • If not, you’re not taking full advantage of your calorie-burning and metabolic potential — and I’d love for you to get some inspiration!
  • If you are, I’d love for you to help me show others how healthy food can be mouth-wateringly pleasurable.

Read more about and sign up for my FREE Healthy Pleasures Photo Challenge (starts June 1)!

Mirror mirror on the wall…I’m not broken!

As an Eating Psychology Coach I work with many women who are concerned about their weight and have issues with their body. (Some have real weight they could lose–others believe that losing a few pounds would make them “better” in some way.)

Either way, how often do we women look into a mirror and criticize our bodies? When something we try on doesn’t look right, our self-talk isn’t usually “oh, this outfit is awful.” Rather, we hone in on the parts of us we think are too big/small, too long/short, too thin/thick, too flat/lumpy. We have a habit of judging ourselves harshly, and that can move us quickly onto comparisons. We ruminate while standing there, finding all the ways that we are less than. We continue to look for outside validation (either in the mirror or from others in our lives) about our beauty and our worth. When we do this, we expend a tremendous amount of our power and life energy shaming ourselves; later we wonder why we don’t feel confident or sexy or happy, and believe it’s tied to our physical shape (which clearly we must change!).

Imagine trying on an outfit that doesn’t work and saying to yourself, “This blouse isn’t cut to flatter my shape.” Or, “My skin is fabulous, and these lights really don’t show it off that well.” Or, “These jeans don’t hug my curves the way another pair could.”

The problem does not often lie in our bodies. The problem is often how our minds perceive our bodies. We ignore or distort our true selves, our true beauty, in the world of mirrors and reflections that others have created and that we maintain.  Break that defective mirror. It’s what’s broken, not you!

Please don’t lose your love for food

A few weeks ago I attended a Hatha yoga class, and as I was leaving, I heard half a parting conversation between two ladies. The woman closest to me (who I actually didn’t see as she was behind me), said:

“Get something delicious OK? I don’t want anything healthy!”

I’m pretty sure the other woman acknowledged her request. My heart went out to this woman, truly. I felt sad that was the choice she thought she had to make: between having food that’s healthy and food that’s delicious.

I hear/see this a lot. When an acquaintance’s mother had a scare with her heart, she was told to lose weight and go on a diet. I still recall her saying, “yeah, my food is terrible and bland now. I hate eating.” I have a close friend who’d rather take a pill than bother cooking for herself. A client once described a “miserable” dinner of cheese and crackers, after which a bag of dark chocolate covered almonds really was divine!

Since we eat (probably) three meals a day, I feel very strongly that eating and food is a part of life that should be pleasurable. Did you know that 40-60% of your digestive capacity (meaning your body’s ability to digest, absorb nutrients from, and eliminate) is in your head? They call it cephalic phase digestive response (CPDR). Meaning, if your mind doesn’t register pleasure from your food from its beautiful appearance, its savory taste, the length of time it takes you to eat it, the way you describe it, etc. etc., you are affecting your health no matter WHAT you eat.

I’d call myself a health nut. And I’d also call myself a foodie.

  • Because of some health issues I’ve had in the past year, I’m now gluten free, dairy free, corn free, egg free, and spinach free (I used to eat spinach all.the.time, but it’s a high oxalate food).
  • I’m big on making cooking simple (I don’t have any more time than you all do)!  I also used to live off TV dinners because I’d never learned to cook.
  • And…I regularly go out to eat with my partner (who doesn’t follow any dietary restrictions).


I’ll be running my popular Emotional Eating workshop several times at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. Check out my Workshops page for more information and to register.

Please, let me help you find this balance so you can stop obsessing about food and get on with enjoying your life!

How Playing with Triphala Is Helping My Sleep

As part of my advanced yoga teacher training, I just completed my read of “The Book of Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Health and Longevity” by Judith H. Morrison. It was a really nice book. Easy to read in small doses and informative. Lots of photos, graphics, and lists to make everything more interesting.

Between my 200 hour training at Kripalu and my “Introduction to Ayurveda” workshop, I felt I had a lot of knowledge before reading the book, but I undeniably learned even more. As part of deeper experimentation, I ordered some Triphala powder from Banyan Botanicals, deciding I wasn’t going to mess around with the pills anymore. I was going HARD CORE (trying to get some of my pitta back, you see 😉 !

Anyway, on page 129 Judith lists out several different ways to prepare the Triphala powder. To start, I boiled some water and brewed 1/2 tsp of the powder for 5 minutes, like tea. (The instructions on the bag said I could use 1/4 or 1/2 tsp.)  With or without drinking “the dregs”, I thought it was gross. The boyfriend wholeheartedly agreed. The L.A. Story Steve Martin quote, “It’s exactly like licking a shag carpet” randomly came to mind. Truly.

The next day I decided to try 1/4 tsp and the method of soaking it in room temperature water ALL DAY. I thought that this just HAD to be more disgusting; even though it was a bit smaller dose, it would have a longer time to steep. Oddly, we both agreed it was actually quite drinkable.

Day 3, I decided that I’d just mix that 1/4 tsp into “tepid” water and drink. Who needs all that soaking anyway? Hmmmph. MUCH better when soaked. This was back to the shag carpet.

When I went back to the book, I noticed that Judith DOES say that the strongest preparation is via simmering (which I haven’t yet tried, and am not sure I dare) and the weakest by soaking. Guess I like my Triphala weak!

Regardless, drinking even the weak version before bed HAS seemed to help me sleep a little bit better. In fact, some nights I notice that drinking just half the cup makes me feel tired. And that’s totally worth putting some powder in a mug and letting it sit on the counter for 8 hours!

So, playing quickly with Triphala is helping my sleep, and reminding me that I need to watch some silly movies again. 🙂

How NOT to Just Say F**k It: 5 Strategies for Getting Back on Track

Let’s be real.

Those of us who have goals around health and wellness aren’t perfect. (That’s OK, by the way!) From time to time, we’ll make decisions that are contrary to the promises we make to ourselves. Some examples of goals we might have include:

  • Limiting sugar | caffeine | alcohol | chocolate intake
  • Exercising | moving more
  • Going to bed or getting up earlier
  • Reducing time spent watching TV | playing on Facebook

You get the idea.

So what happens to the day or the week when, for example, you have more than the amount of <whatever> you said you’d have; you fail to exercise, to get to bed / wake earlier, or to limit your technology usage? I’m sure some of you can relate to the feeling of, “oh f**k it, since I did / didn’t do X I might as well (either do more X or do Y too)…”. It’s almost like there’s a rebel that comes up inside us, pointing out that we haven’t been perfect so “why not just toss the whole stupid idea out the window!” It can be very tempting, especially when that part says, “you can just start over tomorrow / next week”.

That voice prevents us from starting over in the present moment. In other words, right NOW.

Here are 5 strategies to help you get back on track, in the moment. Have others? Let me know!

  1. Discover the teaching and use it to create a new strategy: Write down why you did / didn’t do what you wanted, how it felt at the time and/or how it feels now. Coming from the perspective that you did exactly what you needed to do at the time, explore what you could learn from the experience. What might you do differently if that situation arises again? For example: “I ate the brownie because really I was dehydrated and needed more water. The next time I have a brownie craving, I’ll have a glass of water first.”
  2. Stop making specific promises altogether: Instead, bring more mindfulness to your daily activities, pay closer attention to how you feel, and honor the higher goal of “progress”–getting a little healthier each day. Let go of “measuring” every detail and allow yourself to be more intuitive about what is good for you and what isn’t. In other words, focus on the big picture rather than the details.
  3. Put it in perspective: Someone passed along to me a great quote from Jillian Michaels, which was along the lines of “so you messed up and didn’t stick to the plan — so what? You didn’t ruin anything. If you have one flat tire do you then slash the other three?” One or two or even five of anything doesn’t mean the rest of your day or week is done for.
  4. Move to a different environment: Just eat an entire bag of chips after sitting at your desk for hours? Go for a walk outside. Sometimes change happens from the inside out. Other times, it can happen from the outside in. Maybe next time you think about having chips, you’ll realize you just need a break, and take the walk instead!
  5. Create appointments with yourself (and set reminders): Schedule the time you’ll spend online, the time you’ll exercise, or even the time you’d like to go to bed. When your timer goes off, stop, and do what your reminder tells you! Have trouble stopping and taking a lunch break? Put it on your calendar with a note to yourself. Here’s one of mine: “Lunch: GET UP & TAKE A BREAK!” Maybe at 9 pm, you set a reminder on your phone that says, “Charge me, shut me off and go read your book in bed!” If it’s scheduled, honor your commitment as you would attending a doctor’s appointment, or going to a beloved friend’s wedding.

Upcoming Workshop Announcement!

Mind-Body Nutrition for Busy People:
Explore 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Food & Your Body

When: Sunday, June 8, 2014 1-4 pm

Where: Broadstone Crossing Apartments (Common Room)
12430 Metric Blvd, Austin TX 78758

  • Spend too much time & energy on what’s wrong with your body?
  • Tried everything when it comes to losing weight & keeping it off?
  • Know what you should eat, but just can’t find the time?
  • Challenged by unwanted, emotionally-based eating habits?

. . .Or, just curious about what mind-body nutrition can do for you?

Join Kali Patrick as she leads you through an informative journey into 5 new, practical, & time-saving approaches to help you improve your eating habits, reduce your stress, make peace with your body, and become more of the person you were truly meant to be!

In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn:

  • The physiological effects of stress on metabolism & calorie burning
  • How to naturally modulate your appetite through eating rhythm
  • The profound impact of the cephalic phase digestive response
  • Ways to overcome toxic beliefs about food & body that limit weight loss potential
  • Mind-body techniques for overcoming body image challenges

You’ll also receive informative handouts & recommendations for further reading.

Cost: $30 pre-registration*, $40 at the door

Call 617.699.2389 or email info (at) ajourneyintohealth (dot) com to reserve your space.
*Due to the interactive nature of the workshop, space is limited to 12 & pre-registration is recommended.

About Kali Patrick, Mind-body Wellness Consultant at A Journey Into Health:

Kali integrates eating psychology, nutrition, yoga, meditation, Ayurveda & Reiki to help busy people improve their overall health & wellness. Her prior experience working in high-tech corporations taught her not only how to facilitate informative & fun group discussions, but also helped her understand how our fast-paced, stress-based culture makes it easy to develop unwanted eating habits & difficult to make time to care for ourselves, even when we want to.

For more information about Kali, visit www.ajourneyintohealth.com.

Does the number on your bathroom scale wreak havoc on your mood?

Mine used to.

Isabelle Tierney’s recent post, titled “God in Facebook Form” got me thinking about another way many of us end up seeking validation: seeing a particular number on the bathroom scale.

During a particularly difficult time in my life (when I was under a lot of stress and feeling pretty trapped), I developed a pretty serious obsession with my weight. My rationale was that in 8th grade I was 5 feet tall and 100 lbs. Going on birth control at 16 gained me 3 pounds, but I was OK with that. Fast forward 20+ years later, and you’d find me incredibly focused on getting back down to that specific number of 103 (since obviously I wasn’t getting any taller). I think I was around 110 lbs when all that started. When I hit rock bottom, I’d gotten myself up to 120 lbs–all by trying ridiculously hard to get the long and lean body I envied, weighing myself every day (sometimes more than once). That extra weight wasn’t muscle either: it was from the binging and overeating caused by how the number on the scale contributed to my already fragile mood.

When I started studying to become an Eating Psychology Coach, one of the first things that Marc David, the founder and primary teacher in the training said, was that we should get rid of the scale. In addition to the fact that there are normal fluctuations in body weight, he alluded to the psychological impact that seeing a particular number can have on us. In my case, if I weighed less than I had previously, or I was closer to my goal weight, stepping on the scale would have a positive effect on my mood. I’d find myself smiling, and being happy and confident in my body until my next weigh in. If I weighed more or hadn’t made any progress, I’d feel terrible. I’d go through my day thinking I was “fat and disgusting” (and I can’t count how many times I said that phrase aloud, further putting it “out there” into the Universe and making it seem more real)!

At first I found myself very reluctant to give up this mood-altering ritual. But eventually, the scale went into the closet. I pulled it out once a week instead of stepping on it every day, but I found that even the decreased frequency seemed to have the same effect on my mood. Weight down, mood up. Weight up, mood down. So back in the closet it went, and as I started to really internalize that I could love my body as it is (yet still exercise and eat well to be strong, flexible, and healthy),

I’m happy to report that it’s been over a month since the difference between a number in my brain and the one on a little square device has had any power over my mood, my confidence, or my life. Do I still think about weighing myself sometimes? Of course. Do I do it? Nope. Instead I remind myself that I can give my gifts to the world because of what is inside of me; and if that doesn’t work, I do something I know will make me feel good, like yoga. (And oftentimes, those self-care activities are exactly what I need to be as healthy as I can be! Funny how that works.)

4 Simple Ways Yoga Can Support Your Nutrition & Weight Loss Goals

Here are 4 ways that taking up even a basic yoga practice can support your nutrition and weight loss goals:

  1. Deeper breathing. One of the fundamental concepts in any practice of yoga is its focus on coordinating breath with movement.

Try this: sit or stand with your spine tall and long. Close your eyes and observe how you feel physically and mentally. When you feel ready, inhale as you reach your arms out to your sides with your palms up, through shoulder height and then up to the sky, where the palms turn to face each other. Then flip your palms out and exhale as you reverse the movement, bringing the arms and hands back down to your sides. How was it to coordinate your breath with the movement of your arms? Just notice. Repeat this a few times, seeing if you can slow the movements of your arms, thereby lengthening your breath.

Why this matters: Slowing down the breath helps to calm the body, reducing the effects of chronic stress and inducing a relaxation response. When the body is in relaxation response, digestion improves, nutrients are better assimilated, and toxins are more easily released. Bringing this deep breathing off the yoga mat and into our daily lives helps us become more present to what is happening now, so we learn to pay closer attention to our food as we’re eating. In other words, we become aware of the colors, textures, tastes and sensations that naturally encourage our bodies to metabolize food as part of the cephalic phase, leading to natural appetite regulation (not to mention, actual enjoyment of our food!).

  • Increased body awareness. How were you able to “notice your breath” in point one? Well, there’s a part of you called the “wisdom body” or “witness consciousness” in yoga, which has the ability to observe what you’re doing, thinking and feeling. In the practice of yoga postures (asanas), instructors encourage their students to “listen” to their bodies–for example, to notice areas of tightness, where there may be more space to move, how to improve their alignment by feeling the body, etc.Try this: For one day, set an alarm to alert you every 30 or 60 minutes. (Here’s a chime I like, if you happen to work at a computer.) When you hear the alarm, pause what you are doing, close your eyes and pick a word to describe how you’re feeling emotionally (e.g.: happy, sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, confused, etc.) Don’t think too hard about it, just go with your first, best guess. Then, scan your body for sensations, starting at the crown of your head. Move your focused attention all around your face. Notice the areas around the eyes, the jaw. Feel your neck and shoulders. Scan down your arms to your wrists and hands. Observe the body all around the torso, front and back, along the spine, up and down. Connect your mind to your hips, moving your attention down your legs to your toes, first one side and then the other. Where are you tightening your muscles? Are there any places that feel “uneven” between the right and left sides? Is anything pinchy? Repeat the scan, this time making small adjustments–see if you can relax the tight areas, balance the uneven ones, or tweak your posture to feel better. When you’re finished, call to mind a word describe your emotional state. Maybe it’s the same one as before, or perhaps a new one. Whatever comes up is perfectly OK. Now continue with what you were doing until the next alarm, when you will repeat this process. See if you can discover places in the body you favor, or whether new areas of your body grab your attention.

    Why this matters: Increasing body awareness has many benefits for nutrition and weight loss. Much like the breath, our body does a lot for us without our needing to attend to it. But in today’s busy world, we often “dis-embody”–meaning we tune out important signals, such as when we’re hungry, when we’re tired, when we’re feeling full, when we’re holding a shape that’s causing muscular stress (e.g. sitting with poor posture), and when we’re feeling upset. Dis-embodiment often lead us to overeat and binge eat, since both are “unconscious” activities that are really serving as distractions from difficult emotions and inducing relaxation (which we might find in other methods more supportive of our weight loss goals). By receiving our bodies’ signals about when we’re naturally hungry, we improve our eating rhythm (i.e. have more regular times of day when we nourish ourselves with food). This reduces the likelihood of us getting ravenous, eating too fast and too much. We also benefit from better regulation of blood sugar and energy throughout the day.

  • Yoga postures help improve digestion. Arranging the physical body in different shapes offers your internal organs a gentle massage, including the ones involved in digestion and metabolism regulation.Try these:

    Seated forward fold, wide-legged standing forward fold with twist, half lord of the fishes pose, cobra pose, bridge pose (or supported bridge). See also Best Yoga Poses for Digestion.Why it matters: Yoga postures (asanas) help improve blood and oxygen flow to the digestive organs, are stimulating to the digestive tract, and help to regulate the thyroid gland2 “which is important for not only digestive function, but also the nervous system, reproductive system, respiratory system and metabolism regulation.3“Yoga has also been known to help with chronic digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea, bloating and gas4. A healthy, optimally working digestive tract is critical to meeting any nutritional and weight loss goals. If your system isn’t working properly, your efforts will be in vain.

  • More compassion and self acceptance. Yoga isn’t just about physical postures and breathing. It’s “a progressive process of replacing our unconscious thought patterns and behavior with new, more beneficial patterns that are helpful towards a better life1.” Yoga provides a way for students to experiment with different class styles and instructors until we find some that suit us. It invites us into a safe space where we can explore letting go of our egos, going only as far in a posture as we can in that moment, regardless of what we may have done before or what we hoped we could do. Yoga encourages us to surrender competition with self and others, and to accept that this body is what we have to work with right now.Try this: Wearing something form fitting that allows you to really see your body, strike a simple yoga pose in front of a mirror. (Mountain pose is the easiest one to start.) With your eyes open, notice what comes up for you as you sustain the pose for a comfortable time. Are you holding your breath? What are you thinking? Are you worried about doing it perfectly? Are you involved in an internal dialog about a part of your body that you wish looked different? Are you comparing yourself to a photo of someone else in the posture? Do you want to look away? See if you can simply notice these thoughts as they pop up in your mind. Practice accepting whatever comes up for you. If it’s helpful, you can imagine putting the thought into a “thought bubble” (like you see in cartoons) and allowing it to float away.

    Why this matters: Finding a style of yoga that you enjoy can replace the punishing exercise that you may do solely for the sake of calorie burning. (Note that over-exercise and exercise one doesn’t like can contribute to the stress response, therefore defeating our best intentions at improved metabolism and weight loss.) Yoga’s focus on acceptance and self-love can also help improve body image issues for those of us who struggle here. As Marc David says, “acceptance moves energy”. Meaning, when we become more aware of our self-criticisms, self-judgements, and ways we habitually cause “self-induced hate stress”, we can figuratively and then literally “lighten up”. If you’re someone who constantly beats yourself up over losing that last 5-10 pounds, or feel impatient at your progress if you have a lot of weight to lose, this refined view of the situation may be just what you need to not just let go of body weight or fat, but also toxic beliefs about yourself and the importance of these things in the grander context of your life.

Notice that I’ve said nothing about what food you actually eat. 😉