How full of gratitude were you last week in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday?
As dieters, we often get caught up in what we don’t have (a certain waist size, skinny jeans, self-acceptance – you name it). This is why this past Thanksgiving holiday can be a good reminder to be thankful for what we do have.
These days more and more researchers are finding that “Thank You Therapy” (reminding ourselves of reasons to be grateful) can help increase our happiness quotient, our self esteem and out overall outlook on life.
It doesn’t take a self-help guru to realize that this kind of changed attitude will attract a lot more reasons to be thankful — not to mention likely bring more positive results to our weight loss and overall health efforts. Therefore, why not take a cue from this season of gratitude and begin a Thank You Journal?
Any blank notebook or pad of paper will do. Once a day, list 5 reasons you have to be happy. They can be small. They can be big. But list 5, every day (many people do this at night, just before bed).
I often make entries in my gratitude journal in the morning – after my morning workout, but before I begin my workday. Sometimes I’ll doodle in the journal. Sometimes I’ll write down an inspirational quote I don’t want to forget. And other times I’ll makes lists of reasons to be grateful. For myself, doing this in the morning certainly has a positive effect on the rest of my day – not to mention on my diet and healthy eating efforts. Try it yourself, every day for a month, and see how it affects your “attitude of gratitude” – and, perhaps, even your physical health.
Here’s more information that will make starting a gratitude journal easy:
For a quick primer on keeping a gratitude journal: Click Here
For 5 ways to amp up your attitude of gratitude: Click Here
To learn about more ways that gratitude affects your overall health: Click Here
By the way, I would love for you to add comments to this blog post, letting me know some of things you’re most grateful for this holiday season. And while we’re on the topic, please know I’m sincerely grateful to all of you for helping to inspire me – and this blog – on a daily basis. Even though Turkey Day is behind us, I could still just gobble-gobble you up! (Sorry – couldn’t resist!)
Now, of course, the trick is to not get too bogged down by the details of what equates to just one meal. Can it be one extreme meal for many of us? Sure. And we have a choice to cut back during the gobble-gobble fest, or to just enjoy and get back on the horse (or the scale as it were) right after said meal.
But still, the chart below sheds some light on the situation (if not some pounds):
It was a year ago this month that I was attacked while walking to the gym one morning. This is a walk I had made for over three years at the time — and although I knew the neighborhood I lived in was a bit on the “edge,” I never expected anything like this to happen. Granted, it was very early in the morning (before 5 a.m.) — a time of day that I’ve since been told that no one should be walking by themselves.
Still, I had always been cautious when out at such an early hour. And on the day that this happened, I could hear noise coming from two “rowdy” guys sitting on a curb in the middle of the block I happened to be on. Using common sense, I crossed the street (from the side they were on) and continued on my way. I didn’t have far to go — only had about two more blocks to go to get to the gym I belonged to.
When I noticed one of the guys running over to me, I could tell from his somewhat manic behavior that this was going to be trouble. These two guys were not vagrants and didn’t even look to be criminal types. They did, however, seem to be very “high” on some kind of substance. The guy crossing over to me kept asking, “Where are we? Where are we?”
When I finally answered him (while trying to quickly move on), he suddenly punched me in the eye, then hit me in the back. While ducking to avoid the third hit, I asked “What are you doing?” (as if I might be able to reason with him). I then ducked again as he pulled at my backpack and I started running down the block (with said backpack intact). Luckily, my assailant didn’t chase me but, instead, crossed back over to his companion and sat down.
Now at the far end of the block in question, I could see both of the guys sitting in the same spot they were originally in as I hid in the shadows and dialed 911. I kept pleading with an operator to send the police since the assailants were still in sight. It took over 20 minutes for a police officer to come (20 minutes after I hung up with 911). By then, both of the guys were gone. I later found out from the police officer that a security guard at a construction site (on the same block) had seen the incident, but never came forward to help.
To say I was shell shocked was an understatement. Besides having my first (and hopefullylast) black eye, I was horrified that such a thing could happen in my neighborhood (even though the police officer had told me that this particular block was notorious for criminal activity). I later learned that I was probably “lucky” that the assailants were gone, as I would have had to press charges (a citizen’s arrest, as it were) and that because of jail overcrowding in LA, there would have been no jail time served — even if the guy was found guilty and convicted.
What was that? I was supposed to feel “lucky?” Um, yeah… Okay.
I was pretty useless for the first 48 hours after the attack. But on day #3, I realized that I actually was lucky. Despite having a black eye, I was alive. I was healthy. Nothing was stolen. And I was now smart enough to drive my car to the gym first thing in the morning. Sure, I missed my walking time, which served as a good mental warmup for my day. But if driving was the way to go, I could do that. I had a car. I had my safety. I had my determination.
Although a horrific experience, I realized that I was the one hurting myself and my spiritafter the attack. It had happened. It was over. It was time to move on (with lessons in hand — and in mind). Friends were surprised that I sprang back so quickly. But I refused to let someone take away my joy for life (even if they had taken away my early morning walking time).
One of my dad’s favorite sayings has always been, “Hindsight is always 20/20.” And you can bet that I rolled my eyes every time I heard him say it as I grew up. But looking back on this experience with a year’s worth of hindsight tells me my dad was absolutely right to always remind me of that. Not only did this incident prove to me that I could bounce back from a seemingly-horrific experience, but that I could take positive action because of it.
The attack led to me finally looking for another place to live (something I’d wanted to do for a while — for different reasons than the questionable neighborhood). And through what would be an odd set of circumstances, I actually ended up buying my first home, rather than renting. I’ll spare you all the boring details, but you can be sure that none of this would have been set into motion had I not been attacked (mugged, jumped – whatever) that morning in November 2012.
These days I can even joke about having moved, saying, “You didn’t have to hit me in the eye twice.” And yeah, I must admit that people give me an odd look when I joke like this. They’re not sure whether to chuckle or shiver. But trust me, you can chuckle. It’s like another old saying goes: What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger — and sometimes helps us to get off our butts to make some changes we can be grateful for down the road (black eye and all).
What does this mean for you? Whatever you’ve survived, the key word is you survived. Yes, you might have a black eye — or other forms of emotional or physical scarring. But don’t let a horrific incident (or incidences) take away your joie de vivre. This life is for living. And no one (no one!) can take that away from you permanently — unless you let them.
No. That’s not the theme from Jaws you hear playing the background. Although for those of us with a dieter’s mentality, come mid November, that’s pretty much what we hear in our heads from now through New Year’s Day — along with the little voice inside our head telling us to “Just forget the diet and start again in the new year.”
Ulp. It’s that time again.
Nothing strikes terror in the heart of a dieter more than the holiday season. And like it or not, it’s upon us. But this year is going to be different. Why? Because this year, you’re staying in control (you are stronger than Pumpkin Pie, after all). And you’re also going to exercise your newfound knowledge regarding the difference between a Splurge Meal and a Binge. After all, Thanksgiving (and the rest of the holidays) are approaching quickly. So why not psyche ourselves up, mentally, now?
In the book Just Stop Eating So Much!, I write about Splurge Meal options when you get close to or reach your goal weight. Yes, at a Splurge Meal you can enjoy your favorite foods and beverages – but you’re encouraged to do it within reason (paying attention to portion sizes and pushing the plate away before the waistline of your jeans starts cutting off circulation to the upper half of your body).
The trick is to really enjoy a meal – not an entire day (or weekend, week, month or season) of splurging. Because when continuing to eat after the one meal, splurging becomesbingeing – and that leads to disaster for both your mental and physical health.
But here’s the good news! This Thanksgiving, whether you’re at, near – or far from – your goal weight, you have permission to enjoy a Splurge Meal. If you just enjoy the one Thanksgiving meal and eat and drink according to healthier food and portion guidelines for the rest of the holiday weekend, you won’t hurt your efforts to look and feel great.
And when it comes to splurging on Thanksgiving Dinner, try and make sure you enjoy allaspects of it and don’t make it about eating as many sweet potatoes as you can, since you know you’re back to your commitment to eating healthier resumes right after the meal is over. Instead, really taste the food with each bite. Savor every morsel – and enjoy all of the different the flavor sensations – while also enjoying the people you’re dining with and listing the reasons you’re thankful in your head.
So this Turkey Day, eat, drink and be merry – all without guilt. But don’t be a glutton. Stop before you’re too full and don’t mourn not being able to have a turkey sandwich later. After all, your weight loss efforts are a choice. You are choosing to get healthy, to look better, to fit into your skinny jeans and to turn a few heads by Christmastime.
By successfully living through an “eating holiday,” you will prove once and for all that this time you’re really in control. And that’s definitely cause for celebration!
Food substitutions have long been a staple of any kind of dieting plan. But all too often it’s the wrong (and less healthy) kind of substituting (like trading out all-natural sugar for artificial sweeteners). That’s where this Rockstar Dieting Tip is different.
Rockstar Dieting Tip #6 — Use Fresh Fruit to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth!
Craving a bowl of ice cream? Instead, cut fresh melon or watermelon into chunks, add a few whole grapes, put into a bowl and place the bowl in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. After 15 minutes, you have a delicious “frozen-like” snack that won’t add any bulk to your thighs.
I know this trade-out might seem simple and perhaps even one you’ve heard of before. But trust me when I say that the preparation is key. This isn’t about just grabbing an apple or a banana. It’s about thinking ahead, buying fresh melon and grapes, cutting and preparing them and then taking a little time to lightly freeze it all. Taking these steps will ensure a treat-worthy experience that can truly rival the thrill your favorite bowl of ice cream brings you.
Of course, you can trade out other fresh fruits and/or mix in a few favorites along with the melon and grapes (depending on what’s fresh and what’s in season). And yes, some of you will have to adjust your taste buds (especially if the ice cream you’ve been enjoying contains a number of artificial ingredients). But trust me when I tell you that this tip really does work wonders — both for your taste buds as well as your thighs.
Treat. Eat. Sweet.
For a list of what fruits are freshest during which months of the year, click here.
Photo Source: ThriftyAndChicMom.com