Monday, May 2, 2016

How to Overcome Emotional Eating... What are You Really Hungry For?

Emotional eating...  such a hot topic and such a real problem for so many of us... me included!  It is something I have struggled with all of my life and I know I am not alone.  I thought I would share some of my thoughts and insights.

Why is emotional eating a problem?

Well, in fact, it may not be.  If you are one of those lucky people who can grab the odd hotdog at a ball game just because it's what you and your friends do... or someone who can enjoy popcorn while sitting in the movies... and you aren't overweight, that's great.  Perhaps it isn't a problem for you.  But for many of us who 'comfort eat', it is a problem... a very big one in fact.

As a long time Weight Watcher, I have heard this phrase repeated in every meeting room I have ever visiting in various parts of Canada and the U.S.A... 'If hunger is not the problem, then food is not the answer'.  YUP, it's true.  Food is fuel for our bodies.  It sustains life.  We know this to be true.

How do you know if you are eating emotionally?

Are you eating when you aren't physically hungry?  Are you leaning on an open fridge door looking for something that appeals to you, or are you willing to eating anything you can find because you really are famished?  Perhaps you just had dinner and now you are wanting to munch while you watch tv in the evening.... these are some of the signs.

Why do we eat to soothe our emotions?

This is something that I have been thinking a lot about lately.  And for me, when my emtions are highly engaged, I often actually feel a fluttering or a churning in my stomach.  Food soothes that feeling.  And food is also a convenient and easy distraction to take our minds off the feeling... to quickly alter the mood, even if only for a few minutes.

Food is brings up favorite memories.  We may associal chocolate chip cookies with pleasant events from our childhood.  And there is also a biological component at play as well... I have learned that the hormone corisol is released into our bodies when we feel stress and that hormone makes us actually crave sugar, carbs and fatty foods.  So these types of foods really soothe the chemical changes that cortisol makes in our bodies.

How do we overcome emotional eating?

Well, obviously, the first thing we have to do, as with any problem we want to solve, is to recognize what we are doing.   I know that in my Weight Watchers meetings we talk about things we can do to distract ourselves from raiding the fridge such as sipping herbal tea, or going for a walk, or calling a friend or soaking in a nice hot bath... and if those things work for you, that's great. I am happy for you.  They don't work for me.

The problem with distracting myself is that the emotion itself is never taken care of. It is going to come up over and over again until I deal with it.  Distraction is nice for the moment, but at some point, I have to face what is really bothering me.

Recently, I found this recipe card when I was changing handbags. It is something I have been carrying around with me since writing it at a Weight Watchers meeting many many years ago. The meeting was about the topic of emotional eating, and the very insightful leader that facilitated the meeting had us all write a list of emotions that we wrestle with on the left side of the card, and the solution to 'feeding' them on the right side of the card... these are what we consider negative emotions... the ones that tend to make us run to the cupboard to look for a box of cookies.

Now, I am happy to be able to say, that since I left the corporate rat-race, that I don't feel a lot of these emotions anymore.  But there are still a couple on this list that I do face from time to time. And perhaps there are some that you face, so I will share my list with you.  I suggest you sit down and write your own list if you think that this is an exercise that would help you.

And what if I am not feeling negative?

Not all emotional eating is triggered by negativity.  Sometimes we are excited, or even elated and feeling quite celebratory.  These positive emotions can make us want to eat as well, so don't get fooled into thinking that what you are dealing with isn't emotional eating, just because it comes from feeling good.

Breaking the habit

Perhaps you grew up in a wonderful family like mine... my Mother was always there to wipe away the tears from skinned knees and offer a cookie along with a kiss to make me feel better.  My Father rewarded us with ice cream cones after behaving in church on Sunday mornings.  Every family get together involved massive amounts of great food.  Scared of the thunder storm?.... hot cocoa with marshmallows...  No wonder I turn to food to soothe my feelings.

But you can change it.  And I work every day, very consciously to do this.  Overcoming emotional eating has become a process for me.  For example... If I start to get a yen for a little something to eat, and I realize it has only been an hour since I had lunch, I KNOW that I am not really hungry.... so I might have a drink of water to distract myself and think about what is really bothering me and making me want to eat.  Generally, I try to recognize the feeling and then figure out what I really need...  sometimes I need to ride out the wave of the emotion... other times I realize I can easily solve the issue fairly quickly... or else make plans and take action to do that. Other times I have to recognize that the issue may be something out of my control and make an attitude adjustment to rid myself of the negative feelings.

And, being the flawed human being that I am... yes, sometimes I give in and eat.   But I am doing it less and less.  It takes work, and mindful thought, but I am having more success.

What about you?  Are you an emotional eater?  How do you deal with it?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

5 Reasons to Take Your Workout Outdoors

We came home from from our Rocky Mountain vacation a couple of weeks ago to a city bathed in Spring flowers and glorious warm and sunny weather. It has been very difficult to stay indoors and so I have actually only managed to get myself into the gym once so far... on a gloomy day!

I have been walking my feet off... and golfing and playing tennis.  Sundays seem to have become my RUN days and so far I am enjoying it all.  I just find being outside in the warm temps and bright sunshine to be very uplifting and fun.   And don't tell me that walking 18 holes of golf carrying my bag is not a workout!

Outdoor activities and exercise offer so many benefits... here are just 5 of the ones that are most important to me:

1.  Mood enhancer

  • The fresh air and natural light elevate my mood substantially.  Increased oxygen and endorphins and Vitamin D contribute to my happy factor! I love the warmth of the sunshine on my skin. 
2. Mental stimulation
  • I can vary my scenery by changing my running route or by visiting a different set of tennis courts or going to a new golf course.  Or I can just head to the beach for a walk.  There is always something new and interesting to look at.  The light is different, the flowers are different, the people I run into are different... every time I go out.
3. Fun
  • I enjoy participating in games and sports so much more than lifting weights and doing pushups in the gym. Yes, I do like to do those things too, but just not as much... and quite honestly, they never seem FUN.
4. Self Esteem
  • I have lots of opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment and yes, even pride, after a few good golf shots or a sweaty and fast tennis rally.  I always come away from my activity with renewed confidence and self-assurance.  Physical prowess is empowering.
5. Variation of activity
  • There is always an opportunity to change up the routine once outside.  A walk through a park can become a workout doing pushups on a bench; a run can become a stairclimb.  You can always find something interesting to add to your activity.  Take a soccer ball along or a frisbee and turn your walk into a game.
So, if I am not blogging much in April, you know why!

What is your favorite outdoor activity?


Thursday, March 31, 2016

When it's Springtime in the Rockies...

That is a phrase from an old song that I recall from my chilhood.... and last week we spent several days in Lake Louise and Banff, in Banff National Park... and it is definitely Springtime in the Rockies!

We flew to Calgary on Friday morning, picked up our lovely little Toyotal Carolla at the rental car agency and headed just West of the city to spend the evening and night with my sister and brother in law. Was wonderful to see them again!  And even though I have not lived in Calgary for many, many years, I did grow up there and still feel like I am coming home every time I visit.

On Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful sunny but frosty morning... after slathering ourselves with lotion cause the air is so much drier than we are used to we enjoyed a family breakfast and then we waived goodbye and started the car... and discovered, much to our delight, that our rental car had heated seats. YAY!

We headed West and drove for about an hour before we found our first adventure site... A helicopter ride that included an hour of snow-shoeing through the woods on a mountain near Kananaskis.  It was truly fabulous.  The owner of the company was our pilot and there were 4 other guests... another couple, and 2 delightful and funny young woman from the Phillipines.

The pefect day!  Soft, pillowy snow and good company.  The Bailey's laced hot chocolate at midpoint  on the side of the mountain overlooking a river valley was a nice touch too.

Then we carried on West, heading into Banff National Park, and stopping at the town of Banff to pick up our tri-area lift tickets before carrying on another 35 miles to Lake Louise and our home for 2 nights... the fabulous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

Looking to hotel from mid-lake with Lake Louse Ski area behind.

Before we bought the sailboat and moved South, we were avid skiers and spent many lovely Christmases at the Chateau.  She is still a beautiful and grand old hotel and it is fun to visit when the lake is frozen over.  There are lots of activities to enjoy... skating on the lake, hiking, ice climbing, and there are also horse-drawn sleigh rides and dog-sled rides as well.  There was a lake-side ice bar and also fire pits... and of course the trees are lit up at night and the mood is very festive.

Morning breaks above the lake and Victoria Glacier... this was the view from our room.

We enjoyed a day at Ski Louise... the nearby ski resort.  Breathtaking views and fabulous snow conditions.

On Monday we left Lake Louise and drove back to Banff.... our home for the next 3 nights was the Rimrock Hotel, high above town on the side of Sulphur Mountain.  Lovely.

We spent one day at Sunshine Village ski area... and it was Heavenly! I had forgotten how beautiful it was there and so busy, too!

Just outside the hotel in Sunshine Village.

And we also checked out Mount Norquay ski area as well... the snow was definitely getting worn out there on the lower runs... Spring for sure.  Much smaller and fewer people. I see why those who are fans do love it, though.  Beautiful.  I have never skiied Norquay but did toboggan there as a there is a huge tube park on a bottom slope.

We really enjoyed our time in Banff... and we did lots of exploring the nearby sites... Bow River Falls, Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, Vermillion Lakes, and the Hoodoos on Tunnel Mountain. We also drove the Bow Valley Parkway and picknicked along the way.  Was so fun to be back in my own 'backyard'.

There are several sets of these red chairs at different viewpoints around the park now.  Nice place to take a break and just enjoy!

Above the Hoodoos on Tunnel Mountain.

We also enjoyed the Rimrock Fitness area, particularly the swimming pool and hot pools and the sauna.

We headed back to Calgary on Thursday around noon, in the middle of a bit of a snow squall.  Light and dry flakes, but a bit unnverving to this girl who never drives in the snow anymore!

We spent two more nights with my sister and brother in law, and on Good Friday, their kids and grandkids joined us for a raucous family dinner/evening. Was so fun to get everyone together and catch up.

Saturday we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport.  We had a short flight home and arrived tired and happy... just the way you should feel when getting home from a wonderful vacation!

Have you ever visited Banff or Lake Louise?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My High Protein Puck and Variations

This is something that  am so excited to share with you!  I like to make sure I get lots of protein into my day.  I know it helps keep me fuelled and satisfied.  I often use protein powder throughout the day for meals and snacks... but not always in smoothies or shakes. I like to make 'sludges' and I also like to bake with various powders.

I am a big fan of these high protein cakes that I can cook up quicky in my microwave oven.  I stir up a few ingredients,  then pop into the mike for a couple of minutes, top and enjoy.  The Captain calls my little creations pucks.  So High Protein Puck it is...

That name would imply that they are hard... however they are anything BUT!  They are cake-like but not crumbly.  And, they are filling and nutritious. Depending on the ingredients I use, they work nicely into a low carb/high fat day or a high carb/low fat day on my eating plan.  They are gluten free and Paleo.

Here are a few that I have been making lately.  I thought I would share them here first, instead of on my food blog, We can begin to feed..., because my fitness friends are more likely to benefit than my regular foodie friends from these little goodies.

They work for breakfast or for an afterworkout or afternoon snack, and they are very portable, too. Pop one into a ziplock bag and off you go!

The basic recipe is:
  • 2 Tbs of protein powder (about 20g in weight)
  • 2 Tbs mashed fruit
  • 3 Tbs liquid egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
Mix together and cook in microwave safe dish that has been coated with a non-stick spray or coconut oil, for 3 minutes. (Mine is about 4-1/2 inches across)

Very simple. Very quick. Very tasty and satisfying!  And the possibilities for variations are limited.

I started out by using a vanilla pea protein powder, but have also used a hemp powder too.  I am sure you could use any favorite of your own.

Here are some ideas...

My High Protein Puck with Variatioins
Hemp powder with applesauce, topped with Greek yogurt, banana and berries

Pumpkin, topped with cottage cheese and berries

Pumpkin topped with chocolate PB2 and banana

Applesauce topped with chocolate PB2 and banana

Applesauce topped with Laughing Cow cheese and cinnamon

Applesauce... puck in hand to show the size

Applesauce... made in a smaller dish so I could let it cool a bit and then cute in half to toast

and top with peanut butter

Applesauce topped with banana, berries and cinnamon

Hemp powder with applesauce, topped with Protein Plus peanut flour/water and sugar free syrup

What is your favorite high protein snack?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Govivo Reflective Arm Bands Review

Recently I received a pair of Govivo Reflective Arm Bands to test and review.

Honestly, I am not a fan of running in the dark.  I am lucky enough to have all the time I want to run when it is daytime and so don't have the need to be out running in the dark.  But I do walk a lot at all times of the day and evening.

My biggest concern about walking in the dark is for my safety.  And where I live in the city, with busy streets and lots of traffic, the main threat to my safety is the possibility of getting hit by a vehicle while crossing the street.  My first rule of safety at night... BE SEEN.  You have a much better chance of avoiding being hit if you are visible.

When I drive my car I often see pedestrians and cyclists who are in danger of being hit because they are not very visible, particularly in gloomy weather.

These Govivo Reflective Arm Bands have become a great tool for me. They are small and lightweight and can be tucked easily into a pocket or bag... then taken out and quickly strapped around my arms or my legs when the daylight fades.

I can really attest to how bright the reflective strips are on the bands because I had a terrible time trying to capture a photo of them!  The strips were so reflective, that they ended up looking like big bursts of light on my pictures.

With flash.

Flash off - very very low ambient light

 I urge you to take lots of care when out at night running or walking... make sure you are wearing something bright and reflective.  Carry a light and your cell phone, and be very aware of what is going on around you at all times.

You can check out these Reflective Arm Bands and other Govivo products on Amazon here.

Do you run or walk at night?

What measures do you take to stay safe?