Sunday, December 04, 2016

How Not to be Anxious and Fearful

So you’ve heard about the power of living in the moment, haven’t you? That if you can live in the present moment without worrying about what might happen in the future and what things you regret in the past, you’ll be calmer and happier. 

You know, like if you’re folding the laundry you should focus on folding the laundry and not on whatever else you may need or want to do or wish you’d done. And this will “make” you happier, less anxious and fearful.

It sounds like new age hippie shit, but really it’s science.

Are you scoffing out loud right now? 

Here’s the deal: if you let yourself ruminate about the past or the future while folding the laundry, you are in essence time traveling and reliving whatever worry or regret you’re thinking about.

The mind produces the mental equivalent of reliving the event and the body responds with the same hormones and chemical reactions that occurred during the event or in the case of worrying about the future, as if the imagined event is happening.

Do the research. It’s out there. PTSD flashback episodes are exactly this. 

So, by focusing on folding the laundry or whatever you’re doing in the present moment, you don’t ignite emotions and physical sensations from the past or the imagined future.

And you’re not afraid or feeling guilty.

*Your brain sees black T-shirts and pink underwear being organized into regular, folding patterns, feels the rhythm of your arms and hands doing the work, senses the cotton and rayon fabrics sliding between your fingers, smells the lavender and Tide, and, holy shite! relaxes. 

Science, my friends.

So how does one stay focused on the present moment? I mean, come on, thoughts are uncontrollable monkeys screeching and throwing feces around, right? 

Practice. 

You’re never going to be able to stop thoughts with effort. For example, try not to think about my pink underwear. 

BUT you can practice distancing yourself from your thoughts, one at a time. Next time you’re folding your laundry, imagine your thoughts come from a mouse hole in the floor of your mind. Sit vigil over that mouse hole like a cat waiting for the mouse to poke it’s head out. 

Eventually, a thought will dart out and your job is NOT to shove it back in the hole, but to let it go. Watch it, but don’t engage with it. Let it run away, out of sight. Then turn your attention back to your folding (see *description of what your brain sees, feels, smells, etc) and wait for the next.

Repeat.

Over time, this practice will produce amazing results: a calmer, happier you.

Do you doubt me?

Prove me wrong. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Pre-order Skin Thief - The Hotel Paranormal Series

Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain!

My contribution to the Hotel Paranormal is up for pre-order. Yay!

Pre-order you copy at:








                    iBooks
                    Kobo
                    Amazon
                    B&N
                    Smashwords









Welcome to the Hotel Paranormal. 
THE place for the supernatural to get away from it all.



Monday, October 24, 2016

Enlightened Excerpt - Celebrating Witches in Literature

Halloween is fast approaching and with it all the witchy goodness that is this time of year. Spooky and fun movies like Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus are lying by the DVD player (watched several times already), songs like Fear the Reaper and Witchy Woman are on my Halloween playlist, and costumes for our Halloween party are in various stages of assembly.

But one of my favorite things is finding books to read with witchy magic in them. Or ghosts, like in Southern Spirits where a woman finds herself with the ability to see and interact with all things on the ghostly plain.

I love the magical realm so much, I've written almost exclusively in the paranormal genre myself and wanted to celebrate Halloween a little early with a witchy excerpt from my novel Enlightened.





_________________________________________





Enlightened is FREE for a limited time on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, B&N, and Smashwords.

Enjoy the excerpt!

Rachel blew out a breath and chugged her wine, eyes darting around the alley. “I haven’t seen him in ten years, and when he left, I was upset. My folks said we needed to take a break.” She gave the empty glass a dazed look. “Because of me.” When she looked back up at Loti, her eyes were thick with tears. Loti touched Rachel’s arm in sympathy.
“It was the first few weeks of college and I was not paying attention to my classes. I was much more interested in working on a project with Wolf.” She frowned, dabbing her eyes with the cocktail napkin. “He had a theory that he could amplify a witch’s powers—don’t ask me how. We experimented.” Rachel tugged at the ends of her sleeves until the cuffs covered her hands.
She was one of the best witches Loti knew, with strong energy and incredibly good instincts, so it was no wonder her “uncle” wanted to work with her. Loti had seen her perform magic many times and was always impressed with her abilities. The most impressive time had been when she, her grandmother Katie, and their coven mate and old friend,Patrick, scryed for any sign of magic in David’s cancer. They swept the house for black magic and found nothing, except the angry energy of the cancer, which Loti had been living with since the day he fell off the ladder. Shaking herself back to the present, she realized Rachel was struggling to say the next thing. She leaned closer.
“Whatever it is, it’s okay. It’s me.” She put the wine glass down as Rachel looked sideways at her.
“My parents weren’t just worried about my grades.” She lowered her eyes to her empty wine glass. “They were worried about what was going on between Wolf and me.”
“Were you two—”
“No.” Rachel glanced up, wrinkling her nose. “Of course not. Geesh. He’s my—well, uncle. But we, uh, did exchange blood.”
Loti’s mouth fell open, but she closed it at Rachel’s anguished expression. As far as she knew, blood exchange was a fairly intimate act with a vampire. Allowing a vampire to feed on you was, well, orgasmic. Loti knew the clinical aspects of blood exchange from a course she’d taken in college, but she’d never donated herself. God, no. A suspicion bloomed, but she gathered her thoughts and looked for the tactful approach.
“So, there were unintended consequences to this experiment?” she asked, proud of herself for not blurting something that would embarrass them both.
Rachel nodded too quickly, twirling her wine glass in both hands. “And it did work, to some extent. But Wolf never saw the results he was looking for. And when my parents realized what we’d done, they asked Wolf to leave me alone for a while.”
Rachel stared into her glass, turning it in uneasy circles. “Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought through what the blood exchange might do to me.” She looked up and cringed. “I was eighteen at the time, and I never thought he would disappear from my life.”
“Well he should’ve known better—he’s the 400-year-old vampire for god’s sake. Vampires.” Loti rolled her eyes. “They’re so self-centered.”
“Hey.” Rachel sat up straighter, a little of her feistiness returning. “It wasn’t like that. He explained it all to me, but I was too damned infatuated with him and the whole idea that we could be partners in some great magical experiment that I wasn’t listening.” Rachel leaned back in her seat, narrowing her eyes at Loti.
“And he should’ve realized—” Loti started, trying to pick careful words.
“Let me finish, please.” Rachel held a don’t-go-there palm up.
Loti sat back in her seat with a huff and grabbed her glass, splashing wine on the table and her white yoga pants.
“Damn it.”
She’d been doing so well at this tact thing David had often begged her to practice.  The waiter appeared with dinner, and after the plates and bowls were settled and their drinks replenished, Loti dabbed at the red stain with a wet napkin. She dipped it into a glass of ice water, then dabbed again, refusing to look at Rachel.
“Oh, Loti, here.” Rachel sighed, touching the wine stain with her fingertips. The wine extricated itself from the fabric’s weave, curling into tiny tendrils that flowed with Rachel’s slender fingers as she lifted her hand. Casually, she guided the red swirls, smirking as the wine fell back into Loti’s wine glass.
“Neat trick.” Loti chuckled.
       “No trick. Just magic.” She tossed her hair in an arrogant flip and devolved into a good-humored laugh. 
       Loti smiled. At least Rachel was laughing again.

A Magickal Samhain Celebration




Samhain is on its way and so is a wonderful online celebration I'm participating in!

Won't you please join me and over 30 paranormal and fantasy authors for A Magickal Samhain on Facebook right now? It's been a full month of Halloween fun that will end this weekend with a party, fun Halloween facts, games, and prizes.

Can't wait to see you there! 

Click HERE to join the fun.

Blessed Be. 

Saturday, October 01, 2016

How to Ignite Your Next Romance

Last year, my husband and kids accompanied me to the 2015 Indie Bookfest in Orlando, Florida. My husband snagged himself a pair of author Tawdra Kandle's sunglasses, which have Ignite Your Next Romance printed on one side.

He has proudly worn them all over the world, literally. Here he is in Copenhagen a couple weeks
ago.

Those sunglasses have been a reminder to me every time he wears them that it's not just his job to keep the romance going in our relationship; it's mine too.

Recently I watched the Big Bang Theory episode where Penny tries to do something romantic for Leonard that doesn't involve sex.  She was flummoxed, so she asks Raj for help. After all his ideas are rejected, Raj mentions that she probably hasn't had to do anything romantic because she's a pretty girl and guys fall over themselves for her.

Then Penny says she has a hard time feeling bad about that.

I know that was meant to be funny, but I actually found it kind of sad. Is that the romance narrative in our society? Men woo women with romantic gestures while women wait around to be woo-ed? The proverbial princess trapped in the tower waiting for her knight in shining armor to set her heart on fire?

Ick.

Makes us women seem completely powerless to create our own romance unless of course, we fit the social beauty norm. And how many of us do? This story has a very sad ending, if you ask me.

And then I found and watched the Valentine episode where Leonard is the Romance Ninja, but Penny poops all over their romantic evening by being completely self-absorbed.

Again, ick.

So then I asked myself, am I as bad as Penny? Do I wait around for romantic gestures from my husband? Do I rely solely on sex as my romantic gesture? What AM I doing in the romance department? How am I keeping the romance alive in my marriage? The answer is I'm not sure.

Yikes.

So here's my first stab at it: every morning I'm going to ask myself, "What can I do to make my husband's day today?"

I don't know where this is going to lead (I just stopped typing to stare at the wall and try to think of something), but I have high hopes.

What do you do to keep the romance fresh in your relationship? Inquiring minds want to know...because we need ideas.

Help!

How to Ignite Your Next Romance

Last year, my husband and kids accompanied me to the 2015 Indie Bookfest in Orlando, Florida. My husband snagged himself a pair of author Tawdra Kandle's sunglasses, which have Ignite Your Next Romance printed on one side.

He has proudly worn them all over the world, literally. Here he is in Copenhagen a couple weeks
ago.

Those sunglasses have been a reminder to me every time he wears them that it's not just his job to keep the romance going in our relationship; it's mine too.

Recently I watched the Big Bang Theory episode where Penny tries to do something romantic for Leonard that doesn't involve sex.  She was flummoxed, so she asks Raj for help. After all his ideas are rejected, Raj mentions that she probably hasn't had to do anything romantic because she's a pretty girl and guys fall over themselves for her.

Then Penny says she has a hard time feeling bad about that.

I know that was meant to be funny, but I actually found it kind of sad. Is that the romance narrative in our society? Men woo women with romantic gestures while women wait around to be woo-ed? The proverbial princess trapped in the tower waiting for her knight in shining armor to set her heart on fire?

Ick.

Makes us women seem completely powerless to create our own romance unless of course, we fit the social beauty norm. And how many of us do? This story has a very sad ending, if you ask me.

And then I found and watched the Valentine episode where Leonard is the Romance Ninja, but Penny poops all over their romantic evening by being completely self-absorbed.

Again, ick.

So then I asked myself, am I as bad as Penny? Do I wait around for romantic gestures from my husband? Do I rely solely on sex as my romantic gesture? What AM I doing in the romance department? How am I keeping the romance alive in my marriage? The answer is I'm not sure.

Yikes.

So here's my first stab at it: every morning I'm going to ask myself, "What can I do to make my husband's day today?"

I don't know where this is going to lead (I just stopped typing to stare at the wall and try to think of something), but I have high hopes.

What do you do to keep the romance fresh in your relationship? Inquiring minds want to know...because we need ideas.

Help!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Baked Lays Update, Guilty Pleasures

Just a quick update to let you know I did indeed eat the Baked Lays and Helluva Good French Onion Dip. Not all at once, but a handful or so. And up until today, I've been a wee bit obsessed with the combo. But, it’s all good. I haven’t pigged out, just let myself have it whenever I felt like it and generally eating healthy the rest of the time.

And today I have absolutely no interest in Baked Lays and Helluva Good French Onion Dip. 
That spree is spent.

Funny thing, I have no clue what’s next. Remember I told you about that list of forbidden, fattening, guilt-ridden foods? I don’t know what I want to work on next. Hmmmm….

It’s a very, very strange feeling for me to eat what I want when I want. I mean, I was never the type of person to completely forbid any food. Like on vacations, I would eat what I wanted for the most part, but I always felt the need to plan things out. I guess because that’s what most dieting programs tell you to do. And it does work. If I make chicken and salad ahead of time, put my meals in containers, it’s so easy.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being prepared and planning ahead. For me, the problem has been the fearful need to control what I eat so I don’t dare gain a pound. But then I spent several months tracking the calories of what I would eat in a day, and even on a maintenance plan…I was not eating enough. 

That worried me.

There’s no way that 1500 calories/day was appropriate for a woman who works out an hour a day, including strength training and jogging. Uh uh. But if I ate more than that, I did indeed gain weight. Is something wrong with my metabolism? *sigh*

I’m trying to overcome a lot of guilt associated with eating while making sure my body has the nutrients and calories it needs to get out of the starved/dieting state it’s been in for fifteen years. 

Some days the guilt takes over and I have this incredibly intense urge to go back to my controlling ways. 

Like yesterday.

I wanted to hop on the scale so bad, but I knew the end result would be a long day haunted by the number. Unless the number was down from last week, I would feel that compulsion to diet and lose weight. It never fails. I WANT to see the scale move down.

But I’m sticking to the intuitive eating thing. I have to give this the real college try. And I HAVE to get out of the weight-loss haunted house. My life is supposed to be about so much more than food and scales and pounds.

I hate the scale today because I want to step on it so bad.

But I haven't.

Soooooo.....

I need to choose a new play food for the upcoming week. I seriously have no clue what I want to work on, so here’s the list:  Which would you choose? (and yes, my list is very specific)

Turkey Hill’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
McDonald’s Fries
Cheeto’s - Crunchy
Snyder’s Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzel Pieces
Cheez Its and Tomato Soup
Kozy Shack Rice Pudding
Coconut and Pecan Oatmeal Cookies (homemade)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Letting Myself Eat is Scary And Other Sinister Food Thoughts

The stuff of my nightmares
This allowing myself to eat anything is scary. I mean, all these years of control is hard to let go of. From counting calories and fat grams to categorizing foods into healthy and fatty-fat piles, I've trained myself to, well, fear food. And don't get me started on being indoctrinated to believe that certain food was my enemy.

Yeah, my enemy.

How so? Well, for example, have you ever heard that processed foods are designed to make you eat more? Lose control? I'm sure you've heard of High Fructose Corn Syrup. If you looked at the ingredients of a lot of processed snack foods not so long ago, you would have found HFCS somewhere in that seemingly endless list. The story goes that HFCS somehow messes with our hunger and satiety hormones, turning up the hunger and interrupting the satiety.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD states in this article that HFCS "can strongly affect your brain's satiety center--in a bad way." It's also the famous article that spurred a worldwide debate, which in turn prompted some food manufacturers to remove HFCS, which in turn prompted the Corn Refiners Association to initiate a damage control campaign in defense of HFCS.

The assertion I embraced: because of certain ingredients in processed food you never feel full and that's why you eat the whole box or bag.

See? My enemy. Food designed to make me overeat against my will.
How's a gal to lose/maintain weight with sinister stuff like this on the shelf?
The answer? Avoid it. At all costs.
This article that appeared on Huffington Post says I should never, ever eat HFCS again.
As long as I live.

In the interest of fairness, here's a link to the European Food Information Council reference to a study that seems to show that this is not true. You can check out the study for yourself and do some digging. You be the judge.

Flash forward to today...

Today I went for a long walk with a friend. We tend to talk nonstop and before we knew what we'd done, we'd walked over 7 miles. 7 miles! I thought, oh wow, I'm going to be famished. But strangely, I wasn't. Maybe it was the coffee with real cream and coconut oil, the full-fat coconut and almond granola, or the fabulous Indian food from the night before.

My next stop was the grocery store and I hesitated. What if I'm hungrier than I think and I go in there and buy a crap ton of fun foods? I took a deep breath, told myself to chill out, and marched into the store. I needed ingredients for a BBQ chicken salad, as well as a couple afterschool snacks for the kids. I grabbed the salad ingredients and found myself in front of the snacks.

Oooo boy. I was already sweaty from my walk in the 90 degree sunshine, but I definitely upped my sweating quotient as I stared one of my long-time enemies in the package.

Baked Lays.
I loooooove Baked Lays with Helluva Good French Onion Dip.
I mean LOOOOOOOVE them.

While neither of these favorites has HFCS in the ingredients, I have been known to eat an entire bag with dip. Obviously, I had no control with them. Obviously, they were my personal enemy. And guess what?

Hunger roared.
Literally.

My stomach growled like a dragon who has just woken from one hundred years of slumber. And it wanted Baked Lays and French Onion dip. That. Bastard. At first, I walked away and grabbed the two items my children had requested and headed for the checkout. Mid aisle, I halted. Was I serious about this intuitive eating thing or was I playing with the concept?

I knew how to walk away from "bad" food. I'd been doing it for years. Most of the time. Until I didn't and succumbed to the terrifying and temporary beauty of a gorge fest.

Wasn't one of the exercises of learning to eat intuitively actually listening to my hunger and cravings? As scared shitless as I was, I went back, grabbed the bag of Lays and headed for the dip.

I have to stop here to tell you I was also irritated. I mean, I was irritated with myself for even wanting this pointless, nutritionally vapid food. Pointless. Vapid. Right. There were those negative terms that demonized certain foods that aren't nutritionally dense. Another lesson I'm trying to learn: stop demonizing food. Food is not the enemy. And, yes, the only purpose of Baked Lays is to taste good. No nutrition. But...

Another precept of intuitive eating is when you ignore your cravings and force yourself to restrict foods you really want, you will eventually cave. You will run back to that callous, abusive lover and devour them, their socks, and your own soul because you've made them off limits. Forbidden sweets are sweeter, right?

I decided amidst the Reese's Peanut Butter cups and discounted Krispy Kremes that I was serious about intuitive eating. I embraced my craving and bought my play food.

That was around 11 am this morning and I have yet to open the bag. It's sitting on the coffee table. Right now. Staring at me. As soon as I'm done with this post I'm going to do it.

I am.
I'm serious.

I'll let you know how it goes.

What about you? Am I a freak? The only one who fears certain foods because they are "bad" for me and I can't stop myself once I start?

Please tell me I'm not alone.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

I Want to Eat Whatever I Want, Damn it! And not gain weight.

Me at 155 pounds
I have to tell you that I've had this overwhelming sense for the last couple years that diets and the focus on weight loss are bad, bad, bad. While somewhat well-intentioned, our national obsession with body weight has produced the exact opposite of what was hoped. Instead of a nation at a healthy weight, Americans have the reputation for being the fattest on average.

We are a nation obsessed with body image, weight, and healthy living, but are our bodies and minds any healthier because of this? I don't think so. Oh, sure, there are wonderful stories about people turning their health around, losing lots of weight, and getting fit. That's great. I'm glad people are happier with themselves and choosing to live in a more healthy way.

But there are also some interesting statistics about weight loss and keeping it off. I did some research and the bottom line is at best 20% of people who lost at least 10% of their body weight were able to maintain that loss for 1 year (Long term weight maintenance; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). At worst? Only a dismal 2% of 100 obese participants in a 1959 study were able to maintain weight loss of at least 20 lbs.

But I'm not going to write about the generalities. Instead, I'm going to write about my personal experience, so hold on for a bumpy story.

I've "struggled" with my weight since I was twelve years old when a well-meaning person told me that "at my age" my stomach should be flat. Of course, it wasn't. I weighed 125 pounds and wore a size ten. I bought one of those 80s workout videos and got to work. I also started my first diet.

Thus began the restriction mentality with food, as well as the shame and blame food game. My weight would fluctuate over the next 20 years, sometimes as high as 155 and a few times as low as 120. I was at my thinnest after hiking the Appalachian Trail, getting down to a size 6 and weighing 114 pounds, and at my heaviest right after giving birth to my second child in a size 16 and weighing 200 pounds.

It was after my second child's birth that I became fixated on health and fitness. I had been teaching yoga classes before I got pregnant but because of health conditions during that pregnancy, I stopped teaching and my weight ballooned.

I.
Was.
Mortified.

As a yoga teacher, I couldn't believe I'd let this weight thing get out of control. Imagine how I felt when after my son was born I went back to exercising at my gym, and my former boss saw me at the gym and asked me if I wanted to start teaching again. My first thought was "There's NO WAY I'm getting in front of a class looking like this." BUT, ultimately, I decided it would be good motivation. So, I swallowed my humiliation and started teaching again.

Faster than I could have imagined, I lost the first thirty pounds. But in my mind at 160 I was still at an unhealthy weight, especially when I constantly compared myself to the other fitness instructors and personal trainers I worked with. Over the next ten years, I would work hard on my eating habits and exercise, chiseling away at what I thought was an unsightly body.

When I finally left the fitness industry with chronic overuse syndrome in my shoulder and at 155 pounds, I was so over the fitness and wellness scene. Not only had I witnessed people obsessed with their weight and body composition to the point that they literally counted every fat gram, carb gram, and protein gram...I had become one of them.

At one time, I became obsessed with a clean eating regimen, which meant everything I ate had to be systematically portioned out and made with whole foods. That didn't last too long, but long enough for my children to notice. I didn't make them eat "my" way, but they witnessed me making my special meals and had to rummage past my stacks of pre-made lunches in uniform containers to get to their milk. (Big huge shout out to my friend Ev Bishop who wrote Bigger Things, where there's a scene of one of her characters doing exactly that. Gave me a HUGE wake up call)

About a year ago I decided enough was enough. I was done with controlling my eating and spending two hours each day exercising. And I was scared out of my mind. If I don't "control" my eating, I'm going to get fat, is what I thought. I'll eat myself into a coma and wake up with diabetes. I couldn't trust myself to eat without restrictions.

But, I stopped the food journal and the weighing and the grueling workouts.

And over the course of nine months, I gained 20 pounds.

I.
Was.
Mortified.

I reached 162 pounds before I caved to my panic. I went back on a diet plan that had always worked for me and the pounds started to come off.

And then the weight loss halted.

In the past, I would have redoubled my efforts and forced those damn pounds off my body. Everyone hits plateaus, as they say in the biz. But this time, I was listening to a little voice whispering in the back of my head saying, "Get off the rollercoaster. Trust yourself."

I scoffed. Trust you? You did this to me! 20 pounds! If I keep eating like this and not exercising like a beast, I will be obese in very quick order.

"Trust yourself."

I wasn't sure what to do. I WAS sick to death of the weight monitoring, the on again off again food restrictions, and the punishing myself with brutal workouts for my sins of eating "bad" food. Because I never could give up real honest to goodness cheese or wine.

I was pissed.

My experiment had failed.

Or had it?

Something was telling me I was on the right track, that I just needed a little insight and patience.

I stepped off the scale, backed away from the dieting regiment, and did a little research online. I found two books that I downloaded from Audible and listened to every morning while I went for a walk in the local park. I like to walk and decided to treat myself to easy walks in the park instead of a grueling workout AND bonus! Someone reads books to me.

Winning!

The first book was Body Of Truth, recommended by my online friend Lisa Gott. The second I found on my own and it's called Intuitive Eating. Both books have been incredibly eye-opening and exciting to listen to.

Body Of Truth told a story of a nation that has been derailed from health maintenance and put on a track of weight maintenance. How did this happen? Read the book, but I will say this, there are lots of reasons, not the least of which is profit.

The second book, Intuitive Eating, I'm still listening to, but I will tell you this: if there is any shame or guilt involved in your eating lifestyle, you are probably not an intuitive eater. If you feel the need to measure, count, and track, you are not an intuitive eater.

If you have any sense of fear or anxiety about food, you are not an intuitive eater.

But you can be. I can be. And I'm working on it.

I'm currently dismantling the diet mentality as I write this. It's scary as hell because I'm doing things like making a list of all the foods I think of as unhealthy and that I shouldn't eat. And one by one, I am giving myself permission to eat those foods WHENEVER I want, as MUCH as I want.

The first item was frozen pizza. There's a certain brand that I always craved but would say, "Nope. Not healthy, not even close." So whenever I craved it, I'd make my own little pita pizza that never quite satisfied the craving.

So last week? I bought FIVE of those frozen pizzas, put them in my freezer and gave myself permission to eat it whenever I wanted. Ack! The first day? I ate a WHOLE pizza. Yes, I did. When the guilt feelings started to emerge, I told myself one meal was not going to make me fat or ruin my health. And I let it go.

THAT was a big, big deal.

The next day? I did it again. Now, I was feeling quite sure that I was going to have to buy new pants.

But something happened on the third day. Come lunch time, I THOUGHT about the frozen pizza in the freezer and started to tell myself "Nooooo, you've had enough." But changed my mind. I baked it and cut it up and stared at it. Do you know my stomach felt queasy???? I closed my eyes and listened to that feeling. What was my body telling me?

After a  moment, I opened my eyes and put a couple slices on a paper plate. I sat down at the table and made myself really pay attention to the taste, the texture, the smell of that pizza. By the time I was a few bites in, it didn't taste good! It tasted kind of greasy and salty and ... not much else in the flavor department.

I wrapped the rest up and made myself a grilled chicken salad with fresh cilantro and a spicy, homemade southwestern creamy dressing. I didn't eat much of it, but every bite was fabulous. I truly savored it, enjoyed, and felt utterly satisfied.

So there are two more of those pizzas in my freezer and I haven't had the slightest interest in them. I suspect one day I will and so I've kept them as I reminder that I can have it whenever I want.

This week? I'm working on cheese. I've never said no to cheese, but I have rationed it out. I'm hoping my obsession with cheese will work itself out. This is day three and when I prepared a plate of some high quality, tasty cheese, pickles, and crackers, I only ate a few bites before my stomach pretty much said enough. So I made a chicken salad sandwich with lettuce and swiss cheese. Ridiculously yummy.

I'm excited to say that I'm looking forward to playing with more foods like this because check this out...between eating in a relaxed, aware way with no restrictions and listening to my body about what kind and how much to exercise, my weight has stabilized.

Well, I have to be honest. I snuck on the scale this morning (something else I'm working on: Not weighing myself, but baby steps) and I was actually down from 162 to 153.

Whoa.

Without dieting.

Without KILLING myself with exercise.

And can I tell you something else? For the first time in a long time I'm excited about food and have absolutely no reservations about what to eat. Yes. Excited that I can let it go, trust myself, and still enjoy life and love the body I have.

Brilliant.

I will be up dating you weekly (if not more) on my personal experiment with intuitive eating and healthy living, mind and body.

What about you? What is your experience with food? Do you fear food? Love food? Hate food? All of the above?

What about you, your body and self-image?

*NOTE* If you follow any links to books or products and buy one of them, I do get a few cents. If you don't like that, no problem. Look the books and products up on Google or Amazon yourself and then buy them. Totally understand. :-)

Friday, July 01, 2016

Why Do I Overeat? OR Why do Prescribed Diets Piss Me Off?

The answer is quite simple, and yet I had no clue! 

And probably you don't either. 

How often has this happened: You get all excited to start a new exercise and eating plan and within a day or 5 you're hiding in the pantry scarfing a bag of Oreos while punching the walls, and people in the next room are whispering fury-inducing words like "hangry" and "mentally unstable" about you?


Well, I'm here to tell you there is a very good reason those prescribed diets are pissing you off.
The answer?
Serotonin.
Or more accurately: Serotonin deficiency.
 I have been doing a lot of research about serotonin levels and their effects on not only mood and mental illness but also on weight management. Two books you HAVE to read if you struggle with hangry or depression or eating binges (they usually go hand-in-hand, don't they?) are The Serotonin Power Diet and Secrets of Serotonin. (if you click on these links and buy I will get a kickback from Amazon. If you don't like that, go to Amazon and search the books.)


I am currently a guinea pig in my own experiment. I'm keeping track of what I'm eating in an app so I have an easy reference for protein, carb, and fat consumption without having to count that stuff outright. I'm also keeping a journal of my day including exercise duration, kind of exercise, mood shifts, and energy levels. And of course, weight. This is to start. Might add other things along the way.
Why am I doing this? I'm convinced that the secret to long-term weight and health maintenance is to KNOW MYSELF, and that means understanding how MY body and mind react to any given exercise or eating routine or lack thereof.
Every time I've tried a prescribed dieting plan, I want to punch the walls...or someone's face. It's always frustrating and I think to myself "Why? Am I such a petulant child that I can't pull up my big girl panties and deal?"
Well, part of the problem is that serotonin cannot be created in my brain without tryptophan making its way across the blood-brain barrier. I've known this for years, but what I didn't know is tryptophan cannot cross the brain barrier when I've consumed a lot of protein. 

Holy cow! (pun intended)

So what that has meant is when I try to eat high protein, low carb, I'm an anxious, depressed, or pissed off momma. Not good.
I used to think I needed to eat protein when my mood shifted to the negative (hangry, anyone?) but with only a few days of experimenting I'm realizing I need a carb snack. Not only that, I have to time it right. If I've had protein at breakfast, then my carb snack needs to be eaten 3 hours later and 1 hour before a meal that contains protein.
If I time the snack right, as well as the general nutrition, my mood lifts, cravings diminish, and I easily eat reasonable portions at meals.
Holy hell.
And there's a lot more, but I will share more later. This is a long-ass post but I'm really excited over what I'm discovering.
Know this: if it's killing you to eat low carb, then don't. Honestly, all that "weight" you lose so fast at the beginning of the Atkins or South Beach diet is mostly water. You need carbs to maintain adequate hydration (if you doubt this, eat a bunch of sugary snacks and watch yourself bloat like a pork sausage). That's also why as soon as you eat one fucking piece of bread you put all that weight back on. Just saying.

If your high-protein low-carb diets piss you off, you may need to support serotonin production and the quickest way to do that is to try a carb snack 3 hours after a meal containing protein and 1 hour before a meal containing protein. In other words, make sure your stomach is NOT trying to digest both at the same time.

This doesn't mean your meals have to be protein high and low or no carb. It just means to get the best serotonin boost, you need a carb snack that doesn't' have to compete with protein. See, there are these "gateways" between your bloodstream and the brain and they only allow so many amino acids and such through at any one time. 
If your bloodstream is flooded with protein amino acids, the tryptophan gets pushed to the back of the line. If you wait at least 3 hours and then eat carbs, it's like the others have either passed through the gate or get turned away and tryptophan moves to the front of the line. 
For more on the science, read the books I suggested above or consult an expert on the subject.
Here are your carb snack guidelines:
1. If you have 15 lbs or more you want to lose, the snack must be between 30 and 40 grams of carbs, no more than 5 grams protein (less is better), and no more than 3 grams fat. Of course, give yourself some wiggle room. This is just a guide. If you have 15 lbs or less to lose, carbs change to no more than 30 grams.
2. Consume your carb snack within 10 minutes. Do NOT graze on it over an extended time. Expect the serotonin boost with 30 minutes. After you lose about 10 pounds, the surge will happen within 20 minutes. 3. Consume your carb snack 1 hour before a meal containing protein, and at least 3 hours after a meal containing protein.
And if you're craving something crunchy or sweet after dinner, consider making your dinner a carbs and veggies one. This will maximize serotonin production in the evenings, easing cravings and setting you up for a good night's sleep.
HoWEVER, if you still have a sweet/carb craving in the evening, have another carb snack in the evening, 2-3 hours after dinner.

Learning means sharing, so please let me know how this works for you. We can all gain knowledge from each other's experiences so comment away!

Peace out.