Monthly Archives: June 2009

Your “A-Ha” Moment

“Until the pain of where you are becomes greater than the pain of changing…you will not change.” I’ve heard variations of that quote for years. I think it contains a wonderful and motivational truth.

This past week I received a request for an interview for an online forum of Biggest Loser fans. They sent the interview questions ahead of time and as I scanned over the 15 or so questions one jumped out at me due to its familiarity. So because I get asked the question so often, I thought it should become the topic of my blog this week.

That question is: “What was your ‘Aha Moment’—the moment that you knew you had to change?”

I’ve openly shared before that it wasn’t really just one moment, it was a series of things that led up to that defining “Aha.”

For example, I avoided my husband’s work functions like the plague for years because my appearance didn’t match that of the bridal portrait he had displayed on his desk at work and I was embarassed to face his co-workers.

I would send him into stores ahead of me to scope things out to make sure there was no one there I didn’t want to see.

And I would take my son to the pool at the end of the day when it was empty so no one would see me in my bathing suit. He’d splash around all alone in the water that had become chilled by lack of sunlight—simply because I was ashamed of myself.

I guess it was the impact my poor decisions regarding my diet and health were making on my child that led to the greatest “Aha.” I realized that the pain of staying just like I was was in fact greater than the pain it would take to change.

I couldn’t bear it any longer. Even if—at the time—I had a tough time loving myself enough, I did love that child infinitely. And I was willing to do whatever it took to make a better life for him. And that mindset translated into making a better marriage for me and my husband. And ultimately to living the victorious, empowered life God had intended for me.

I firmly believe God customizes His “help” in our greatest time of need. But I also believe He customizes our “trials” too. My battle with obesity brought me to the place of total surrender to Him. To the point where I begged Him for His help. And His timing intersected with His will and change became possible. I fully acknowledge that my “help,” which came in the form of a reality TV show, isn’t customary. But for me, in my life it’s what I needed.

And God will customize your help to meet your needs just as precisely as He did for me. But you must first be willing to change. And be willing to experience the pain that may go along with it. As with everything we go through in life, God doesn’t promise it will be easy. But He does promise we don’t have to go through it alone. He promises us in the book of Psalms that “He is an ever present help in time of need.”

So find your “Aha Moment” and depend on God to help you make the change and whatever you do, don’t let fear stop your progress.

Step Away from the Cake

I think we’ve all heard the term “comfort food.” We tend to think of things like chocolate cake, candy, chips or even southern fried chicken as comfort food. I talked this past week to a friend of mine who struggles with her weight and she shared the comfort food she had consumed to get through a really tough, emotional week.

As she described herself inhaling amounts greater than what three people would normally consume, she broke down in tears; so frustrated with herself. We both concluded that using the term “comfort” in any way related to what she had done was a paradox.

The truth is—there is nothing comfortable about overindulging and binging on a bunch of things that only hurt you. In fact, when you are done, probably the last thing you feel is comfortable. I remember those days in my own life. So she and I continued to talk about the dangers of emotional eating. And what to do about it.

I have this described as “eating is eating in response to feelings rather than in response to hunger.” And I think there are many reasons we crave food when emotions are running high.

Scientifically and biologically food brings a change in the hormonal levels in the body. These changes actually bring about some sort of relief from what you are feeling. And chocolate, for example, can actually improve feelings of sadness or depression because of the endorphins that are stimulated by the chocolate. So it’s understandable why we use (and abuse) food like we do. But there’s got to be a better way to cope. Agreed?

So how do you avoid overeating when you are feeling emotional? I think the first thing to do is to determine what causes the binges.

For example, do you have the compulsion to overeat right before a big presentation at work? Or when you and your spouse are fighting? Or when the kids are acting especially crazy? Or when finances are tight? Or when you are just exhausted?

It seems to me that the most common triggers for emotional eating seem to be stress, anxiety, fear, anger, fatigue or insecurity. Another cause of emotional eating is boredom. And you know the remedy to that. Get off the couch and get moving! Physical activity brings with it so many positive results.

Once you recognize the situations that make you feel like overeating then it may be easier to brace yourself against it. In other words, if you are aware of the cause, you can prepare to fight it better.

I would also suggest identifying your “comfort foods” and then refusing to have them in the house! Hopefully the harder it is to get your hands on them, the less likely you will be to stuff them in your mouth.

As with everything in life, we’ve got to be deliberate in the choices we make. It’s not always easy. And while food can be a temporary detractor from worries or negative feelings, remember abusing food can also bring with it feelings of guilt and additional stress related to obesity and health problems.

If you have an issue with emotional eating and you want to break the cycle, don’t just sweep it under the rug and let your health and well-being pay the price. Try practical things when you have the overwhelming urge to overeat, like going for a walk or talking to a friend, or even just drinking a glass of water. (Water is a great way to fill your stomach and make you feel less empty.) And don’t forget the spiritual side of any battle. You can call on your faith to help you overcome any obstacle.

So the next time you are feeling a little weary and are afraid you will be guilty of emotional overeating say a little prayer. And then just say to yourself…”step away from the cake.”

Making Smart Choice for Your Body and Your Budget

On the set of The Biggest Loser we didn’t have meals prepared by chefs like some may think. We still had to cook our own food (and clean our own kitchens).

But one lovely treat I was exposed to on the set of the show was organic food. Until that point I had never really paid much attention to what I ate—at least not the quality of it. Eating organically was wonderful. But boy, did I ever get a shock when I came home from Los Angeles and visited our local Native Sun Natural Foods Store in Jacksonville for the first time.

I was so proud of myself. I was, for the first time in my life, shopping with a clear conscience. I strolled through the store reading labels, thumping fruit and surveying every vegetable. I wanted to fuel not just my body, but the bodies of my family members too with the best food possible.

When I got to the cash register—after the total was tallied, the cashier shared the shocking news: my total was $400! I thought for sure I had forgotten to put the little plastic divider between me and the shopper behind me.

It was a difficult lesson to learn that day, but a valuable one—and one I will share with you. Not only do I need to pay attention to what’s in my food, but in the real world I need to pay attention to the cost of my food too. As with all things you must make choices. And eating the right things may take extra time to plan or rearranging the family budget but it truly is an investment for the good of your family.

I was forced to have to be creative with my grocery shopping, like so many of us do nowdays. Being resourceful and creative is essential; especially for moms. So I’ve learned to look at the cost and the nutritional content of my food. I make sure my family has healthy veggies that don’t break the bank by choosing in-season produce, clipping coupons and planning ahead before I get to the grocery store so that I can get the most for my nutritional dollar.

Beware that sometimes the most inexpensive deals are also the least healthy. Take sugary drinks for example—they are cheap but bad for you. So you save a little in your wallet but pay for it in other ways. When grocery shopping, I like to get my 8-year-old son involved. I have taught him to read the first three ingredients on packaging.

I learned from my experience on The Biggest Loser that the ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance. The first two or three ingredients are the ones that matter most. Ingredients at the bottom of the list may appear in only very tiny amounts. Especially for things like breakfast cereals, crackers, pasta, and breads, the word “whole” should appear as the first or second ingredient, whether whole wheat, oats, rye, or another grain. I also make it a point to avoid anything containing high fructose corn syrup.

And the word “enriched” is very misleading. You could look at a food label and interpret the word enriched to mean that extra vitamins and nutrients were added to the food.

In actuality, enriched means that a food that has been processed has been re-supplied with vitamins and minerals. This means that vitamins have been lost and artificially added back.

I once heard the explanation of “enriched foods” described like this: if a robber takes the last 10 dollars out of your wallet, you’ve definitely been depleted of your immediate financial resources. However, if that robber became suddenly sympathetic to your financial situation and decided to return one dollar back to you, it is not likely that you would consider yourself “enriched.” Instead, you would just consider yourself a little bit less massively depleted of your money. And it’s the same way with grains and food processing. Enrichment really only means slightly less massively depleted.

These are just some things that I’ve learned along the way about the importance of the foods we put in our bodies. I have come to realize that having the best for my family isn’t just a financial issue it’s about teaching them what food is good for them and how to take care of their bodies.

Just as I wouldn’t want to waste money on poor choices in the food I buy; I also don’t want to waste empty calories on poor choices of the food I put in my body. In today’s economy—waste is something none of us can afford.