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Hiking Fail August 14, 2010

Posted by Jen in Exercise, Strength Training.
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This morning I was supposed to meet up with a new friend to go hiking. It did not work out as planned.

Last night I packed lunch and snacks, got my Cambelbak backpack ready, printed out a map of the area where we were going to hike, and packed a set of extra clothes just in case.

This morning I got up, did some strength training on my lower body (a smart thing to do before a hike? Since I didn’t end up hiking, I’ll never know), had breakfast, and headed out.

I got to our meeting point about 10 minutes early. Let me tell you, this area was empty…scary empty! I live in Western North Carolina, and although there are plenty of people here, there is also lots and lots of woods and protected land without much of a population.

We were supposed to meet at 9 am, but my friend wasn’t sure exactly when she’d get there because she didn’t know how far the spot was from her house. After waiting for 43 minutes I really had too pee, so I gave up and went home ūüė¶

Hiking fail.

Instead of giving up altogether on exercise, though, I headed out to my usual walking or running spot and did a hill-filled 36 minute walk that had me nice and sweaty. Of course, the extremely ridiculous humidity may have had something to do with the sweat!

And, bonus, I already had my lunch made! Score.

It’s not a very nice Saturday here; grey, overcast, humid. Instead of hiking I’m doing laundry and reading. Not such a bad way to spend the day, I suppose!

What do you do when exercise plans fall through?


Remembering Interval Training August 13, 2010

Posted by Jen in Exercise.
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This is a picture of me about ten minutes after I completed the ING Half Marathon in Atlanta last March.

I looked like this after my interval workout this morning.

Okay, maybe I wasn’t that sweaty, but man, I was pooped! And even wearing the same shirt as in this photo.

For a while there I was getting into doing some High Intensity Interval Training and some regular old (it all feels painful and high intensity to me…) interval training, but I kind of got out of it. For the past 2 months or so I’ve really upped my strength training, and have backed off on intense cardio, preferring long, hilly walks, power walks, and hikes.

However, I was reading, again, how great interval training is for you, so I decided to give it a try. Here’s a quote from Dr. Mark Hyman’s book Ultrametabolism:

Everyone knows that you burn calories when you exercise, which promotes weight loss. But is there a way to burn more calories after you exercise, during rest or sleep? Is there a way to exercise less and get more benefits?

The answer is yes. The key is something called interval training, short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by longer periods of lighter exercise.

He goes on to talk about a Canadian study in which two groups of participants each exercised, but one group did interval training. The IT group ended up reducing their body fat nine times more than the endurance group because they increased their resting metabolic power. Um, yes, please.

I am in no way, shape, or form, a personal trainer, so you don’t have to listen to me, but Dr. Hyman recommends that a beginner follows the following program:

  1. Warm-up: 5 minutes of walking at 3.5 miles per hour.
  2. Speed up and walk at 4.0 mph for 60 seconds.
  3. Slow down and stroll at 3.0 mph for 75 seconds.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 five more times.
  5. Finish with 5 minutes of walking at a comfortable pace to cool down.

Obviously, if you work out regularly, this workout ain’t gonna do nothin’ for you. I usually warm up on the treadmill at 4.0! Anyways, a more advanced exerciser can follow these instructions, according to Dr. Hyman:

  1. Warm-up: 5 minutes of jogging or cycling at the lowest possible percentage of your all-out effort.
  2. Run or cycle for 60 seconds at about 80 to 90 percent of your all-out effort.
  3. Slow down to 50 perfect of your all-out effort for 75 seconds.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 five more times.
  5. Finish with five minutes at 30 perfect of your all-out effort to cool down.

He recommends anyone over 30 gets a physical before starting an interval training program.

I have decided to integrate interval training as my cardio at least two times per week. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Have you tried interval training? Do you like cookies?

On Second Thought… August 12, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, facing fear, Healthy Eating, Mindful Eating.
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You know how I said I was going to do a three-week elimination diet to see if I was having problems with eggs, dairy or gluten? And then I said last night I was eating when I wasn’t hungry to deal with stress reared its ugly head?

I think the two could be related. During the three-week period I was planning on eliminating certain foods I have a bunch of social events scheduled, and that was freaking me out. Plans include dinner with a great friend (she and I usually have appetizers, a drink, dinner, and sometimes dessert; we see each other about once every other month), a lunch out with volunteers for the non-profit for which I work part-time, a picnic with even more volunteers from the same agency, lunch out with my mom, helping to cater an event with a woman who makes the most fabulous desserts of all time, and perhaps other as-yet-unforseen events.

I realize that making changes for the better isn’t always easy, and that learning to stand up for yourself and what you want to put into your body is very important. For instance, if you decided to limit alcohol or sugar consumption but always give in when a friend or family member insists you have more, that’s no bueno. However, since doing this elimination diet wasn’t essential for me at this time, and because I am afraid it might be causing adverse emotional and therefore eating reactions, I’m holding off on it.

This is the lesson I’ve learned over the years: You must listen when something feels off. I was starting to feel anxious about the whole process of the elimination diet. The events I had coming up, the fact that I’ve been so happy and steady with healthy eating already,¬†the fact that¬†this reminded me of restrictive diets from my past, and the amount of time I was spending worrying about how I was going to handle this all were pushing me over the edge. ¬†I can see why I was feeling anxious!

So, no three-week detox for me. I’m going to continue with my standard way of eating, which is veggie and fruit heavy, involves whole grains, some dairy (mostly organic and not every day), some local eggs, beans, dark chocolate, desserts once or twice a week, a glass of wine occasionally, and plenty of listening to my body for signs of hunger and satiety. Phew! That feels so much better.

Just wanted to get that off my chest!

What about you? Any recent diet changes? Are you feeling stressed or anxious about any of them?

Once a Binge-Eater, Always a Binge-Eater? August 12, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, facing fear, Meditation, Motivation.
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they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics
even when they’re as dry as my lips for years
even when they’re stranded on a small desert island
with no place in two thousand miles to buy beer

-Ani¬†Difranco’s “Fuel”

I’ve been stressed out this week. Little things started to add up. Though I’ve continued trying to take care of myself all of the ways I know work (eating regularly, eating a diet of whole foods, eating balanced meals, exercising, journaling, talking to friends, dealing with problems as they come up, meditating), I was still feeling the pressure of the week building. And building. Until it burst. And by “burst” I mean “eating more than is necessary”.

What can I say? Old habits die hard. Which is why I put the lyrics from the lovely Ani Difranco’s¬†“Fuel” at the start of this blog. If I once had an eating disorder, do I always have an eating disorder? What if I¬†overeat once in a blue moon but normally deal with things in a healthy, whole way? I certainly don’t have Binge Eating Disorder¬†anymore; you can read how WebMD defines that here.¬†

I’m not perfect. That’s something I’ve had to face this week. And it goes for my eating and dealing with emotional issues, too. I believe food will probably always be one of the things I think about turning to when life gets too stressful. I also think that most of the time life won’t get too stressful, because I’ve got so many useful tools to deal with ups and downs of my days, and that when I do think of using food, I usually won’t use it. I have better ways. I can face things now. I’m okay. I believe there will always be that little tug somewhere that reminds me of the way things were. I also believe I’m healed in so many, many ways. I believe helping others deal with these problems further heals me. I believe I don’t have to have all the answers. Especially to the question I posed above, whether or not I still have an eating disorder because I once had on. Who cares what someone else might define me as?

Yup, last night I ate too much to try to avoid worrying about things going on in my life. And then I stopped. And I was gentle with myself. And then this morning I woke up and moved on. I wrote to a friend and asked, point-blank, for a pep talk. I don’t have to resolve everything alone. I don’t have to always impress everybody. I don’t, and can’t, be perfect. I’m healing, I’m growing, I’m learning.


Elimination Diet August 11, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, facing fear, Healthy Eating.
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For years while I was binge eating I would put myself on a new diet every other week. Who am I kidding? Every other day! Said diet would inevitably end in crash and burn fashion when, two hours or five hours or 12 hours into it, I felt overwhelmed/happy/sad/guilty and ate everything within arms reach. However, that never stopped me from planning my next diet as soon as I was through binging.

The diets I wasn’t attempting weren’t crash diets, no, I knew those could backfire. But they were usually restrictive in some way or another; not much fat, more protein than I normally like, no eggs or dairy, no sugar, only foods that start with b. You get the gist. I don’t even think it was necessarily the restrictive nature of the diets that got me binging again, I think it was that I was always dieting to lose weight, therefore always telling myself I wasn’t good enough, therefore providing myself more fuel for the binge-fire. In other words: people with eating disorders and disordered eating shouldn’t diet. EVER.

I know, I know, if you suffer with compulsive overeating or binge eating it’s probably really tough to convince yourself of that. However, dieting in that state just makes things worse. Much, much worse.

Even though I’m recovered from BED (not that I don’t sometimes struggle) I still don’t diet. I live a lifestyle that means I mostly eat whole, real foods with only occasional junk foods, but I don’t tell myself I can or cannot have something. So why am I embarking on a three-week allergen elimination diet starting next week? I’ll tell you this: It doesn’t have anything to do with weight loss. (But I am going to the beach in a few weeks, so if my body wanted to make my butt a little smaller before then, I’d be okay with that.)

It has to do with my health. Not health as a code word for weight loss, but my genuine health. For the past few months I’ve been having, um, well, let’s just say that the old Poop Factory isn’t working as well as I’d like. It’s working frequently enough, but the product it’s outputting is not always what it should be. I really didn’t know how else to say that. If Dr. Oz can talk about poop, hopefully I can, too!

Anyways…I’ve read sometimes imperfect BM can come from a food allergy or sensitivity. Common food allergens: Dairy, eggs, gluten. I personally don’t think it’s eggs, as I don’t eat them very often. However, starting next Monday I’m eliminating all of these products, plus caffeine and alcohol (which I consume once in a blue moon) for three weeks. The idea is to see how my body reacts without these foods and then slowly add them back separately in after the three weeks is up.

The hardest thing for me is going to be the gluten. I eat oatmeal like it’s my job. I’m sure I can live on quinoa, brown rice and millet for three weeks, though. I don’t eat much bread to begin with, but I’ll have to careful about things like soy sauce and alternative milks. I never realized how many things gluten can be in! I suspect my problem may be dairy, since my family has some lactose intolerance, but I’m really not sure. Also, it could be none of these things. This could be stress-related. It could be IBS. Who knows? However, the only way to find out is to try a diet shift and see if it helps.

Why am I even writing about this here? Because I have a pretty strong no-diet rule. And I am interested to see if these rules cause any friction in my happy state with food, and I thought it might be fun to talk about here, too.

Have you ever tried an elimination diet? Did it help or harm you?

Eating Healthy, Even If You Hate to Cook! August 9, 2010

Posted by Jen in Budget, Healthy Eating, Motivation.
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This past Sunday morning I did what I normally do: I cooked. I usually cook a bunch of healthy goodness up on Sunday mornings so I have food for the week. This Sunday I sliced and baked sweet potato rounds, roasted veggies (eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and zucchini mixed with EVOO and spices), made coconut butter (you must try sweet potato with coconut butter…to die for), cooked millet, and steamed edamame (which are awesome!)


All of this prep, including cooking and cleaning, probably took under two hours. Honestly, I enjoy this process so much I don’t really notice the time passing. Which is probably why tonight, when I prepared dinner, I also did some prep work for my breakfast and snacks and lunch tomorrow, and even decided to prepare some stuffed tomatoes to cook for dinner tomorrow night. (No, I don’t have a recipe for stuffed tomatoes, I just gutted them, chopped up some veggies I had on hand, mixed in some tempeh and cooked millet, and added some spices. Hopefully it will turn out tasty.)

Again, the time flies for me when I’m in the kitchen. I actually find it reasonably easy to eat whole foods because I simply love preparing them! But I got to thinking, what about people who can’t stand to be in the kitchen? How can they get themselves to a place where they’re eating healthy, whole foods, too? I haven’t actually thought of anything yet, but let’s hope I do by the time I get to the next sentence.

How to prepare & cook whole foods, even if you hate to cook:

  • Plan ahead. If you write-up a rough meal plan for the week to take with you when you grocery shop, it will not only help your budget, but your ability to stay on track with healthy foods. Think about it: If you’ve already outlined that you’re going to have brown rice with stir-fried veggies and chicken on Tuesday night, and already have all the ingredients sitting in the fridge staring at you, you’re more likely to prepare the meal than call out for pizza. Or at least more likely to think about preparing the meal.
  • Pick a chunk of time and DO IT. If you really, really hate the kitchen, schedule a section of time on the weekend or a slow night and just get it done. Since you’ve planned your meals for the week, it’s easy to look over your list and do things ahead of time. Plan on having that chicken stir fry? Chop of a ton of veggies now and store them in an airtight container. (Harder veggies like carrots, onions, garlic, and peppers can all go in the pan at the same time, so you can keep them together. Veggies like tomatoes and snap peas just need a short time to cook – keep them in a different container.) Want to have quick and easy snacks for the week? Chop up a melon, peel and slice carrots, bake sweet potatoes or hard squash like butternut, and portion out homemade trail mix into baggies or Tupperware. This is also a great time to get a whole grain ready for the week. Make a huge pot of rice, millet, quinoa, or other whole grain. Stick it in the fridge and dole it out as necessary.
  • Freeze it. While you’re doing all that work on the weekend, might as well go ahead and make some stuff to freeze. Bean and veggie burgers usually freeze really well, and work great as a quick mid-week dinner. Make a pot of soup or chili and put it in small one-or two-serving containers and freeze it. If you’ve bought a large portion of meat, portion it out and freeze it so it stays good.
  • If you’ve got the money, spend it on prepared whole foods, not junk. Already prepared health foods do exist, for a price. If you’re more likely to eat fruit that’s already cut up, buy that fruit tray at the store. Same goes with washed and pre-cut veggies for salad. Buy some baked tofu or prepared organic meat. Buy instant brown rice so you can make it really quickly after work one night. Sure, it costs more than making it from scratch, but having heart disease and diabetes cost a lot more. Also, if you stop spending your money on potato chips, soda and fast food or restaurant meals, you may have some extra money to spend on healthy foods that are also convenient.

Well, how’d I do? Do you have any tips for eating healthy even if you hate to cook?

Good Enough For Me August 7, 2010

Posted by Jen in facing fear, Sprituality, travel.
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Before I started typing this post, I was searching for some pictures from my own personal catalog to add. I was doing this because I want this blog to feel both helpful and professional, but friendly, too! I want to let you know what’s going on in my world, and what it’s like to live a life that is free from ED, and how I deal with it.

And often times my life has nothing to do with ED, because, well, it doesn’t consume my life anymore. My life involves hiking and cooking and spending time with family and friends; it involves reading and walking and some part-time work at a mediation center where I work with fantastic volunteers that are mostly in their 70’s and 80’s that are a huge inspiration to me; it involves stretching and strength training and meditating and sleeping and writing and journaling and petting my cats and spending time with my partner, Anthony.

When I went to search for pictures, though, I felt that familiar pull of trepidation. “My pictures are terribly low quality compared to some of the other bloggers.” “I don’t know what to put up here; does anyone even care?”

You know the how the soundtrack in your mind goes. Old familiar fears, often showing up disguising themselves as helpful or sincere, pop up when you least expect them. And that’s when your choice comes in. You can listen to your head or you can listen to your heart. You can give in to the voices and walk away from the challenges you intended to take on, or you can tell the voices what you think of them. Or maybe just gently inquire about why the voices appeared in the first place.

For me, my pictures and blog, in that moment, just didn’t feel good enough. I don’t have a professional header, I only started blogging a couple of months ago and don’t have much readership, I’m still figuring out what the core of the blog will be. And that scares me. But when I stare the fear in the face, my only real desire is to have a place to share. A place to write about stuff like this, a place to talk about goal setting, health, wellness, recipes, food, disordered eating, and other things that I am passionate about. And that is good enough for me.

So how about some pictures?

A dinner plate I made in a pottery class last year. (Clearly, I am not a professional, this was just for fun!)

Mmmm....a frost green monster. One of my favorite smoothies!

Me at Pancake Rocks in New Zealand, back in 2007

Hawaii. Nepali Coast Overlook in Kauai. I've been lucky enough to visit three of the islands and have made two different trips to Hawaii.

Tulips from the nearby Biltmore Estate

Well, those are some of my interests in a nut shell. Travel, beauty, food, creativity. I didn’t put any cat pictures up, but my cats are definitely an enormous part of my life. Nola is keeping me company as I type this.

What about you? What are you going to today when something feels scary?

How To Eat Slowly (And Why You Should!) August 4, 2010

Posted by Jen in Mindful Eating.
He’s got the right idea!


 I probably should have take my own advice, because I just finished my lunch faster than I intended to! However, every meal is an opportunity to eat mindfully and learn from our experiences.

One of my own struggles has been with mindful eating. Same with my clients. In fact, I think people who eat mindfully all the time probably have no problem with overeating and are probably pretty happy – I think mindful eating bleeds into other areas of life, too. Like being mindful about the negative thoughts running through your head, or mindful of how you treat your loved ones.

One of the key elements to mindful eating is eating slowly. You’re probably not being very mindful if you cram down your lunch barely chewing it, huh? So how can you begin to slow down? These are my tips and tricks:

  • Set a timer.¬† Yes, I’m serious. When I first started trying to eat slowly, I set the timer on my watch for ten minutes. Ten minutes doesn’t sound like that much time, but for someone who normally crammed down breakfast in five minutes or less, this was a good starting place. I would press “start” and then monitor the level of the food in my bowl with my watch. Most of the time since I was already setting my intention to eat slower, it was easy for me to stretch the bowl of oatmeal out for that much time.
  • Chew until your food is liquid. That sounds kinda gross, doesn’t it? Chewing is your body’s first line of digestion, and chewing your food thoroughly will both help you slow down and help out the rest of your body when it is its turn to digest! I found that chewing things until they were liquid was hard for me, it seemed to take so long! But it sure does slow you down, so give it a try.
  • Put that fork down!¬†Do you ever hold up your fork or spoon and shovel in a second bite before you’ve finished the first? No beuno, people, no bueno! Take a bite. Put the fork down. Chew it until it’s liquid. Swallow. Pick the fork back up and take another bite. Put the fork down. Repeat. Same goes for the plate/bowl if you’re eating on the couch at night. Put the bowl down! Do NOT hold in your hands while you are eating it. Putting it (and your spoon) down will create a psychological distance between you and the food, giving you time to think about your next bite. Or at least that sounds good, and sure helps me out.
  • Do not do anything besides eat. Eating is a pleasure, or it should be. Do not watch TV, read a book, surf the ‘net, fight with your loved ones, or distract yourself thinking about your next meal/work/world peace. Just eat. This step in and of itself will get you to slow down – what else is there to do besides eat and enjoy your meal?
  • If you intend to eat slowly but are not, figure out what’s behind it. Why did I eat my lunch quickly today? Because I was reading blogs and not paying attention. (Luckily, my hunger signals are pretty strong, so I stopped eating when I felt hungry and put the rest of my lunch away. However, I didn’t get to enjoy it nearly as much as I would have!) Why wasn’t I paying attention? Same old excuse from me: I didn’t feel like it. Why not? Probably because today I feel sort of bored and unsettled, and I didn’t want to take the time to slow down to pay attention. However, I’ve noted the problem, and when I get hungry again I intend to savor every bite, slowly.

And, quickly, why you should eat slowly:

  1. Promotes weight loss, as you’re more likely to realize when you’re full
  2. Better for your digestion.
  3. Makes food much more enjoyable!
  4. You’re not as likely to choke on it ūüôā
  5. By paying attention, you’re opening yourself up to listening to your body. This is extremely important to your overall health!

Do you eat slowly? What are your tips?

One Page Miracle August 3, 2010

Posted by Jen in Meditation, Motivation.

Yay! Today a link to my post about how BED made my life better appeared on Healthy Tipping Point. In fact, that may how you came to be reading there very words! Welcome.

I have to say that I am in such a good place these days, I am just brimming with enthusiasm and bursting with excitement – and I want to share it! I have been through so many, many ups and downs, but I know, for a fact, that the more you work at improving your life, the better it’s going to get. I promise. You just have to keep getting back up after you get knocked down. And you will get knocked down.

For the last week or so, I’ve been reading Change Your Brain, Change Your Body¬†by Dr. Daniel G. Amen. (I wrote another post about it here.)

One of the things I’ve been doing since I started reading the book is reviewing my life goals every.single.day. I’ve written down my goals many times before, but something about consistently reading them after I get up in the morning and before I go to bed at night seems to be having an impact on me.

Here’s what Dr. Amen suggests:

  • Write down all of your goals on one sheet of paper. He calls it the “One Page Miracle”. Apparently your brain really likes hearing/seeing your goals!
  • Write goals for a variety of areas in your life. The suggestions are relationships (over all plus sub categories for spouse/partner, family and friends), work, money (over all plus short and long-term goals), and health (over all plus weight, nutrition, exercise, and mental health).
  • Keep the goals short and succinct. This is my suggestion – if you’re going to fit it all on one page and read it daily, you’re going to have to keep the goals to a sentence or two – get right to the point! Your brain will thank you.
  • Read it every single day. Reading my goals in the morning at night is really becoming a habit. I concentrate on them and try to internalize them as I read them.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this action helping me reach my goals?” If one of your goals for mental health is to counteract negative thoughts, and you find yourself wallowing in them in the middle of the day, check in with yourself. Is this helping you achieve the goals you wrote down on your “One Page Miracle”? Or, if you’re reaching for a second or third glass of wine or cookie, is this action helping you reach your goals?
  • Tweak your goals as you go. This is another suggestion from me. I know my goals are always pretty similar, but I find having mini goals helps me stay on track, as does the ability to update and rewrite my goals. I intend to write my goals over each week, so each week I have something fresh to read over.

What about you? How do you manage your goals? Would you try the “One Page Miracle”?

Thankful For BED August 1, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating, Meditation, Motivation, Sprituality.
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Because I think everything about Operation Beautiful (and Healthy Tipping Point!) are fantastic, I wanted to write something for Caitlin’s book kick-off. I hope every subject I cover on this blog empowers readers to feel great about themselves, and this post is about me finding my way out of binge eating disorder (the really short version!)

When I was in the deep, dark, chewy center of binge eating disorder, it was very, very hard for me to ever see a way out of it. Well, other than putting myself on a new diet every other day.

You see, I thought I could diet my way out of BED. I thought I could punish myself enough to make myself do what I wanted to do. I thought I could make myself stop overeating by restricting myself, by berating myself, but letting myself believe I was fat and unworthy. But I had it all wrong. I had to thank my disorder for what it offered, in the protection it was trying to provide, and find my way through it, not away from it.

Being thankful for a painful occurrence in life is not easy. Why would I be thankful that I had, for the third day in a row, stuffed my self full of peanut butter and bread and butter and chocolate and more bread and cheese and more food than anyone could ever comfortably eat in a single sitting? Why would I be thankful that I had spent the night hot and uncomfortable and bloated and feeling awful? Or spending the whole next day telling myself I was going to change, I was going to do “better” or “fix” myself?

Because my binge eating was a reflection of my life. Because my binge eating was giving me a gift, if only I would look at it. Because my binge eating was trying to protect me.

No one develops an eating disorder in a vacuum. No one eats uncomfortable amounts of food, or starves themselves, or purges their systems because everything is right in their world. Through therapy and lots and lots of reading and meditating, I finally understood that I was binging because I was unwilling to feel things. I was unwilling to deal with scary thoughts and emotions.  It had absolutely nothing to do with food. Nothing.

In my case, binge eating protected me. It protected me from scary stuff. It protected me from taking chances at things at which I might fail. It was trying to help me. Only when I realized this could I take a step back and say, “Thank you. I understand why you are here, and what your purpose is. But now I choose to face the scary stuff. I don’t need protection anymore.”

You can do it, too. If you have an eating disorder mild or serious, seek out the help of a counselor or coach.  Learn about it. Look into it. Read about it. Open yourself to the possibilities with which ED has presented you. You are a beautiful, stunning person. You deserve to live the most fantastic, joyful life possible. If something feels wrong in your life, thank it. Look into it. What is it keeping hidden from you? What amazing thing are you capable of?