Why the Advice “Just Eat More to Rev Your Metabolism” is Misguided

Though he hates the attention, one of the perks to being married to a professional brainiac is that we get to constantly discuss really awesome stuff–biochemistry, research, behavior, psychology, natural health, relationships, personal development, learning, growing, risking, improving. Many have commented that we are “so intense” because Jade and I live, eat, breathe this stuff. It’s a blast!

And I’m proud to announce that Jade’s latest book will be out in 2015, and it will address not only the perils of traditional dieting (eat-less-exercise-more), but will include a novel, useful take on how to break the dieting cycle and what happens when our metabolism simply doesn’t run as well as it used to. Jade calls this “The Law of Metabolic Compensation,” when your metabolism no likey the decreased calories/increased exercise approach.

He and I talk about this often–him the master of the biochemical aspects and me pulling up the rear with mindset implications, and so I thought we’d record a Skype discussion to share with you all of this “stuff.”

Watch the full-length interview here and skip down below for my insights:

 

The 3 Ascending Stages of the Body Transformation Journey

The first thing I want to discuss is the dieting/eating progression that was addressed in the interview. The body transformation process goes something like this (and depending on where you are in your journey, you may or may not resonate):

1.0 Version: Just eat less food. We hear that weight loss is all about controlling portions and decreasing calories. And while we know that the works in the short-term, it often makes things worse in the longterm, AND requires immense willpower, which we know is exhaustible. Trying to starve yourself into weight loss is not a sustainable approach because your body compensates.

2.0 Version: Eat more of the “right foods” (quality over quantity) and make sure you eat every 3 hours so as to never let yourself get hungry, because if you do, then watch out! This will also keep your metabolism “revved” and prevent “starvation mode.” This is the often-cited bodybuilding recommendation: eat 5-7 times a day from your Tupperwares–protein, veggies and clean starches. Does this work? Yes. But, I do have 2 issues with it: 1) Food can become a full-time job: shopping for it, prepping it, cooking it, placing it in Tuperwares (washing dishes!) and eating 5-7 times a day. Yo. Talk about mental energy and physical time! You have to have the rest of your life fairly automated to dedicate yourself this way, and 2) The idea that you can’t ever let yourself get hungry is shortsighted. So always trying to preempt hunger can keep us at a disadvantage, never exposing us to it (and therefore never allowing ourselves to practice dealing with it). And unfortunately, if this is our only strategy, what happens in those times when we inevitable do feel hungry? Do we just unleash and eat everything in sight??

Which brings me to…

3.0 Version: Work to get more in tune with your physical sensations: hunger, cravings and energy, and start eating according to YOU, rather than according to “the rules.” Jade and I talk a lot about how following someone else’s rules for you can be a crutch and keep you dependent so you end up “program jumping” rather than finally figuring out YOUR fat loss formula. Furthermore, in the 3.0 version, you begin allowing yourself to actually GET a little hungry. Feel the sensation. And then in THAT moment, you harness mindfulness and make the best choice possible. It’s the practice of exposing yourself to situations where treats are available and PRACTICE making a better choice.

Exposure to “Willpower Challenges” Helps Hone Mindfulness & Dissipate Food Anxiety

I discussed this on Facebook recently, the idea that exposure to sweets, treats and cheats can actually take the illicitness out of food. Familiarity with it can help dissipate the need to EAT IT ALL RIGHT NOW. It helps strengthen willpower and removes the stress of worrying about where’s my food? and, will there be something I can eat there? and, I don’t know what to do if I don’t have my Tupperwares! or, what if there are sweets there, will I be tempted? All of these 3.0 moderation practices allow you to be around ANY food ANY time and not have IT control YOU.

There is no more “dieting.” There’s just eating. And it goes on forever, so we can teach ourselves to relax a bit around it (doesn’t mean we eat everything we want, because that’s not relaxing either!) and then we can TRUST OURSELVES to navigate the situation wherever we end up. We always know it’s in our power to make the best choice. The only options are not binge or deprive anymore. This process takes the “off limits” mentality out of eating. Because I don’t know about you, but the second I put something on the “do not eat” list, it’s all I crave! :)

Is There Ever a Time You Should “Eat Less?”

Jade goes through this in-depth in the video, but the answer is yes.

And no, eating less food will not automatically slow your metabolism and put you in metabolic damage. A piece of popular advice given in the weight loss industry is that if your weight platueas or your metabolism is unresponsive (i.e. “starvation mode”), that you should just eat more food.

Coaches say it “revs your metabolism” and this is true that to a certain degree–your resting metabolic rate will increase–BUT, your body’s physiology in that moment is in a “compensation” phase (again, refer to the video for full explanation) so many women will actually STORE FAT WAY MORE EASILY as a result of just eating more. Your body is kind of like a sponge in that moment.

So the answer to a slowed metabolism as a result of traditional dieting (eat-less-exercise-more) is NOT to a) keep doing more exercise and keep eating less (that only leads to more metabolic damage), but it’s also b) NOT to eat more and exercise less. Because this also throws your metabolism out of balance (besides, this is how people become obese in the first place) and yet it’s often the advice given?

Instead, Jade outlines two alternatives:

1) Eat less, exercise less. 

OR

2) Eat more, exercise more.

Both options help balance metabolism and also do not throw hunger, energy and cravings out of whack. For those who want more weight loss, you’ll go with eat less, exercise less. And for those who want more muscle gain/body shaping, you’ll want to go with eat more, exercise more (the traditional formula of athletes).

And one final consideration …

jill_stage

The nutrition plan you follow and the exercise regimen you pursue need to be, first and foremost, SUSTAINABLE.

So much of this comes down to personal preferences, doesn’t it? For me, obsession with food–shopping for it, prepping it, cooking it, Tupperwares, washing dishes, eating it 5-7 times a day (!!!)–can feel like a full-time job. It can take over your life. And for me, with the other aspirations I have (my businesses, my relationships, my personal down-time, etc.), the option to EAT LESS is actually appealing. I don’t want to spend all that mental energy and physical time with food (of course I also did all that for many, many years when competing!).

So for me, eating less is better. But in order to do that, it’s essential to also cut back my exercise or at least switch from lots of cardio to more restorative activities (like leisure walking or light stretching) that don’t make me hungrier or increase cravings. Because now, MY goal is effortlessness. And being in #MaintenenceMode 365.

So, this is a choice. A lifestyle choice.

If you just love exercise and want to train for hours every day, then you’ll have to eat more too. OR, if you want to learn to automate your physique (AYP), which includes spending the least mental energy and physical time to maintain your weight, then obsession with food needs to take a backseat. And hours at the gym will be less too.

So the idea that you can’t or shouldn’t ever eat less is shortsighted. BUT, there IS potential danger when you cut them through a white-knucking, willpower-harnessing approach. If you’re exercising less, your appetite is naturally less. As are your cravings. But if cutting back on food volume is a struggle because you are starving 24/7, then your metabolism is not balanced. Your biofeedback (hunger, energy and cravings) will give you the clues you need. Work to get in touch with them.

Much of this switch requires a mindset shift. Away from blindly following “the rules” and starting to get in touch with your own inner sensations and introspecting a bit. And this switch takes courage and effort and patience and commitment to a new way! Could you do it? Could you relax a bit with all the rules (and by extension, lessen your neuroses around food and dieting) and start trusting your own body? :)

Let me know what you think of this stuff and the discussion on the JillFit Facebook page! I look forward to your insights and experience! Ox, Jill

Related: Metabolic Effect’s Metabolic Rehab program

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/02/25/eat-more/

What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Fatigue + The 3 Diagnoses They Miss

You might not know this, but in conventional medicine, “chronic fatigue syndrome” is NOT actually recognized as a legitimate diagnosis because they can’t test for it nor treat it . And yet “fatigue” is the #1 reason why people go to see their physicians. 

And yet adrenal fatigue manifests in women all the time, and the symptoms can be debilitating. Especially those who have done crash diet after crash diet, or even full-time moms or women stressed the hell out from working and professional commitments. They wake up every day feeling exhausted, not rested at all, just to get into bed at night feeling wired. It’s almost as if their wake-sleep cycle is the OPPOSITE of what nature intended it to be. Restless and stressed at night, and exhausted at work, with the only option to drink a thousand cups of coffee to stay awake.

So many women are suffering from fatigue and just don’t know where to turn. And at JillFit, we’ve been getting this request for a long time: “Jill, how can I stop feeling exhausted? How can I have more energy? What’s WRONG with me??”

So. I thought I’d bring in the big guns to tackle this subject.

And so I am super-excited to bring you this amazing guest post from Dr. Amber Golshani, ND, who’s also a JillFit Ambassador. Dr. Amber specializes in natural medicine with a speciality in adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, energy management and sleep/stress management, all of which she covers in-depth in her Beat Your Fatigue program, an in-demand program that has already helped hundreds of women battling fatigue.

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 11.27.26 PM

Dr. Amber is a mom, a full-time physician and a online business-owner to boot. In short, girl knows what tired feels like! Which is why she’s the perfect spokesperson to bring the concept of fatigue to the mainstream :) Dr. Amber is going to share with you THREE commonly under-diagnosed causes of fatigue, plus the natural solutions for how to deal with them. Love, love, LOVE this post! And I know you will too! Enjoy! Ox, Jill 

Take it away Dr. Amber!

***************************

Almost every woman who has walked through my clinic door is carrying a stack of lab tests results and will tell me that, despite her low energy and fatigue, the doctor has told her “Everything looks fine”.

Energy crashes, tiredness on waking, low libido, weight gain, difficulty concentration and irritability top her list of complaints. Does this sound like ‘everything is fine’? 

There are actually several common, yet grossly under-diagnosed,
causes of fatigue that many doctors miss.

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 11.21.17 PM

Am I saying every doctor out there is missing something, no? But many are. And how do I know that? 1) Because their patients are coming to me for help and 2) I’ve been there myself. 

Even after I lost a bunch of weight and normalized some hormonal problems I had in my early 20’s, I still didn’t feel great. I’d often find myself sleepy and foggy-headed after I ate, or god-forbid if a meal was 20 seconds late, my food-werewolf would attack from the potent mixture of hunger & anger.

I’d slog through my day, then get a second-wind at night, stay up too late, wake up tired and repeat the whole thing over again.

And even though my ‘numbers’ looked fine, I felt far from it.

It took some research and experimenting with my diet, lifestyle habits and a few key nutrients, but I was able to discover the reasons I was so tired AND correct the underlying imbalances.

My energy improved, my mood balanced, and my head got clear. I actually have more sustained mental and physical energy now at 37 years old, than I did 10 or even 15 years ago.

Remember that comic strip above? You are probably wondering how that relates. I call the ‘story’ in the comic, the “streetlight effect”. It’s the natural tendency to look for answers in what we already know. And if we can’t find the answers here ‘where the light is best’, we tend to give up.

In an effort to shine some light (haha) on OTHER reasons we experience fatigue, here are the three most common over-looked causes of fatigue.

Three Commonly Under-diagnosed Reasons You’re Tired (+ Solutions!):

1) Food Intolerances:

These are also called “food sensitivities” or “hidden food allergies”. Hours to days after you eat an offending food you can develop a wide-range of symptoms—anything from fatigue and lethargy, to skin problems, bloating, headaches, hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating and more.

While they are a type of allergic reaction, they are different than the true food   allergy most of us are familiar with where even a small amount of the offending food can set of almost instant swelling in the mouth, lips and throat and be life-threatening. The offending food, in this case, is pretty easy to identify.

But in the case of a food intolerance, where reactions are not immediate or life-threatening, it is harder to identify what is causing it.

Most MD’s don’t know about of this type of allergy, nor is the testing for it very accurate.

Solution: During a food elimination/challenge “experiment”, you remove the most common problematic foods (grains, dairy, soy, eggs, citrus, alcohol, sugars, artificial food additives and colors, and any food you eat 3 or more times a week) for 3-4 weeks, then you reintroduce them one by one watching for a reaction.

2) Hypoglycemia:

Hypoglycemia means blood glucose levels that are dipping below the healthy, normal range.  Blood glucose is simply the concentration of sugar (glucose) in the blood. We need just the right amount to deliver energy to our cells. When the levels go too low we can suddenly feel tired, sleepy, dizzy, confused, shaky, and irritable. Your cells are starving! No wonder you feel tired!

This “low point” is usually when we crave more sugar or carbs, because they give us a quick-fix and our blood sugars rise again. The quicker the food raises your blood sugar, the quicker (and harder) it will fall. I call this the “roller-coaster effect.”

Why does hypoglycemia happen? There are lots of reasons including:

  • Certain medications (including birth control pills)
  • Over abundance of sugar and starchy, refined carbs
  • Too much caffeine
  • Lots of stress and/or adrenal fatigue
  • Alcohol (especially on an empty stomach)
  • Severe caloric-restriction (as in anorexia nervosa)
  • Rarely, certain types of pancreatic tumors and people with gastric bypass are at more risk

Solution: The ‘fix’ for hypoglycemia is to figure out what is contributing to it (as above) and work on that. The best type of nutrition plan will be one that focuses on protein and vegetables at each meal to stabilize blood sugar roller-coaster effects for more stable, lasting energy.

3) Hypothyroidism:

Your thyroid gland controls the metabolic rate of many processes in your body. It’s like the gas-pedal in a car. Pushing on the pedal (the thyroid) will give the body enough gas (the thyroid hormones) to go.

In people with hypothyroidism, or low functioning of the thyroid, their gland isn’t getting signal to push on the pedal, OR the tank is low and no matter how hard you ‘push on the pedal’, insufficient hormones are produced. So, people are likely to feel tired and run down, have cold extremities, constipation, slow or dull thinking, difficulty losing weight, low libido and more.

It is estimated that half of the people with hypothyroidism are not diagnosed!

This is no surprise because most doctors only use one blood test (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH) to determine the functioning of the gland. That’s like trying to put a puzzle together with only one piece! No wonder so many people are walking around like zombies!

Solution: Ask your doctor for complete testing, or find a better doctor.

There are a number of other lab tests which need to be looked at alongside TSH, so that we can put the whole puzzle together. Some of those tests include Free and total T4, Free and total T3, rT3 and auto-immune antibodies because it’s the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US.

In summary:

If you’re tired, have energy ups and downs, or other issues AND you have normal lab values, maybe it’s time to stop looking in the ‘best lit’ places and start looking elsewhere. The three causes above are some great places to start! And the best thing about the solutions are that you can start to implement them right away, there are no pills to buy AND no side effects!

I hope this info has helped you see some other reasons for lack of energy that have been hidden in the dark for too long and that you find some answers to your fatigue so you can elevate your energy and live your passion.

 

I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired, everything is out the window. No thanks, gym! Bye bye vegetables! Hello, carbs! It’s as if our motivation and drive is 100% reliant on how energetic (or not) we feel, right? If I have a shitty night’s sleep, byyyyyeeee! This is such a common issue, especially among women. 

If you think you one of the above may be the culprit in your fatigue, you should consider enrolling in Dr. Amber’s Beat Your Fatigue program, which is now open for registration THRU TUESDAY FEB 25TH ONLY! She’s working with a limited number of women in this exclusive group, unique in its natural approach to health and energy management. Check out all the details here, and remember, limited spots are available through Tuesday ONLY! Don’t miss this incredible opp! Ox, Jill 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/02/20/fatigue/

Intermittent Sampling: How to Taste Everything & Binge on Nothing

Intermittent sampling, v.: the practice of tasting everything, and binging on nothing. Use it to teach yourself the art of moderation.

I recently mentioned Intermittent Sampling in a post on how to stop eating a million calories every night. And it dawned on me that nothing else, in the last 3 years, has helped me learn and implement the art of moderation than this practice.

Because it is a practice.

As with most solutions, we don’t just “get it” and are good to go. We have to consciously choose to take it on, stay mindful, see our failures as feedback and keep on keeping on, until one day we wake up and we’re doing it all better. Not perfect. Never perfect. But we’re mastering it one day at a time. Intermittent sampling does this.

There’s a method to mastering a moderate approach, so that you never feel deprived and you also never feel the need to eat everything in sight. It’s a conscious effort to choose balance.

“Nooooooo! I don’t want moderation! I don’t like it! It’s not good enough to get results!”

I beg to differ.

I get many eye-rolls when I talk about moderation:

  • “Geez, Jill, must be nice for you! If I open something, I HAVE TO FINISH THE WHOLE THING!” 
  • “Ha! Stop at one bite? Are you insane?!”
  • “When I indulge, I have to indulge all the way because I know come Monday it’s going to be off-limits again.”

I totally understand this frame of mind because for years, I felt the exact same way. I used to love Sunday nights–I called it “the Sunday night round-up,” where I’d eat all the left-over whatevers from a weekend of indulging because I knew I needed to be on my best, most strict behavior come Monday morning. I’d literally be prepping and making my clean food for the week on Sunday afternoons, while scarfing down cookies, chips, cheese and pizza in the process. WTF?? Yes.

We can laugh at how ridiculous this seems, and yet, many of us do this every single weekend, because we have a “lack” mindset when it comes to food. We know that at some point, the yummy treats will be gone and “off limits” so we just have to FINISH EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW. I used to laugh and say, “Well, I might as well just polish them off ’cause then they’re out of the way!”

YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

So how do we break this habit of either being “on” a diet (Monday thru Thursday) or completely “off” (Friday thru Sunday)?

The answer is–you guessed it–a moderate approach all day errr day, regardless of what day of the week it is.

And wow is moderation hard!!

It took me THREE YEARS to master a more moderate approach. But. BUT, it started with a practice. It started with, instead of depriving myself completely Monday thru Thursday, I started giving myself a little wiggle room.
And though it didn’t happen overnight, eventually I got to the point that come Friday, I wasn’t ravenous for sweets and treats. I didn’t feel deprived. I didn’t need to “reward” myself for a hard week of dieting with a bunch of crap. I know now that what I was doing was–what I now call “Intermittent Sampling.”

Intermittent Sampling is the PRACTICE that teaches you how to go from all-or-nothing to full-time moderation. It’s the thing you do to get better at moderation. It’s the art of learning to taste everything and binge on nothing.

protein bar bites

So how do you do it?

You begin with one single practice, using one food. Below are 3 ways that I’ve cultivated the practice. Now, you look at your daily meal plan and find one place where you can practice one of these methods:

1) THE ONE-FRY RULE

My brother Danny is 23 years old, and he lives with Jade and I. Like most 23 year-olds, he orders a burger and fries 90% of the time we go to dinner. So I started just plucking one single fry from his plate every dinner. Even when I didn’t really want one. Simply to REINFORCE that I can taste something and then move on. I’d grab a fry, douse it in ranch :) and then proceed to eat my #BAS or protein & veggies. This became a practice that has carried over into all meals and all my interactions with food. 

2) THE 3-BITE DESSERT RULE

About 6 months ago, Jade began this practice. Every time we go out to dinner (usually 3-4 times per week), Jade orders a dessert. Even if he’s not suuuuper feeling it, because he wants to take THREE BITES OF IT. He orders, takes 3 bites and then stops. Even when he doesn’t need it. This works because he’s taking ownership of the dessert but then consciously CHOOSING to PRACTICE taking only 3 bites of it, enjoy those three bites and being done. This practice helps reinforce that you can taste anything and you don’t have to lick every plate clean.

3) PROTEIN BAR BITES

For many women, protein bars are a slippery slope. One turns into many and before you know it, you’re bloated as hell and feeling guilty. Heck, I used to eat 5 protein bars in a row! But over time, I started practicing NOT eating even entire protein bar, and actually only a piece of it to feel satisfied. Here’s how:

I’d get a bar out and take 1/3 of it, eat it, get the taste and put the rest back into the cabinet or into my purse (ha!). Then, I’d go do something for AT LEAST 10 minutes. If I was still thinking about the bar, I’d go back and eat another third. Then I’d put it back. Same thing. This time I’d wait AT LEAST 20 minutes and if I still wanted more, I’d go back and finish it. Over time, more often than not, I was able to take a third or a half and forget about the rest until later.

This may seem silly, but to me, the idea that you can just go cold-turkey is a little shortsighted. And besides, I don’t want to have to go cold-turkey. I want to be able to CONTROL my cravings and use a moderate approach to feel satisfied with less. I want to be able to SEE any food and be able to taste it without the inclination to demolish it.

Believe me, I used to be someone who would HAVE TO FINISH THE WHOLE BAG/PACKAGE/ROLL of whatever it was. But the practice of Intermittent Sampling has helped me overcome that.

So what do you think? Does one of these practices resonate with you? Could you just try to start implementing one of these moderate practices and over time get better at it? It’s a practice indeed. And it doesn’t happen overnight, but I promise, PROMISE that it gets easier with time and mindfulness. Are you ready? :) Ox, Jill

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/02/17/intermittent-sampling/

Why I Stopped Doing Cheat Meals

Cheat meals used to be the highlight of my week. I did them for a long time, especially when I was competing and modeling a lot more. I even made a video of my crazy Reese’s Pieces ritual!

But then I used to dread the rest of the week. Because if I wasn’t eating clean as a whistle and feeling miserable doing it, then I couldn’t justify my cheat come the weekend.

And so, in the last 18 months, I’ve changed my tune on cheat meals. There are several reasons, but the bottom line is that eating massive amounts of sugar in one sitting, I believe, does us a disservice long-term.

cupcake

Even though many competitors, coaches and models advocate them. They say, you earn them through tight dieting all week! Or, you build them into your macros! Or, they are a psychological reward!

All fine explanations, except above all, they do one thing that I just can’t get on board with:

Cheat meals keep us in the dieting mindset, where we are either “on” a tight diet (during the week) or “off” the diet (binging on a cheat meal or day). This ultimately does us a disservice.

Cheat meals reinforce the idea that we need to “earn” our cheats. That cheats are a reward for “good dieting” and staying “on point.” And when we reach a certain weight or body fat percentage, we are NOW worthy of eating thousands of calories of straight-up sugar in a sitting.

How is that healthy?? Physically or mentally?

In other words, cheat meals hold us hostage in the deprive-then-binge cycle. Don’t they? They reinforce that we need to do penance for indulging. Sorry, I just can’t get on board with that mindset anymore.

Now you might be asking, “But Jill, I know so-and-so fitness model or competitor who looks amazing and does cheat meals.” 

Fine, but I guarantee years from now, he or she is going to be advocating moderation365 too. Because “on” and “off” times are not only unsustainable long-term but they keep us obsessed with food and dieting. 

And I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of obsessing about food. 

I want to eat the same today as every other day. I don’t want to be a “good little dieter,” and have to earn my cheats. I want to eat healthy and do my best every single day and never feel deprived and never feel like I have to do penance and never feel as though my eating is dictated by rules and numbers.

This is a tough thing to wrap your head around. And if it doesn’t feel true for you, then fine. Some people feel like cheat meals do them right. Great. Do them and enjoy the hell out of them. But stay mindful too. Ask, Could I throw myself a little bone earlier in the week, so that by the time I reach Saturday night I’m not ready to dive headfirst into Ben & Jerry’s? 

Because I don’t care what fits into your macros, eating copious amounts of straight-up sugar in a single sitting will never be healthy. And yes, sometimes it can’t be avoided–we’ve all had those moments when the binge-bug takes over and we’re helpless to resist. Of course. I get that. And the last thing I want to do is make you feel badly for giving in at times. I did it plenty.

But the idea that you have to wait until a special night or special day of the week to feel satisfied with your food is myopic.

And ultimately, I don’t want to dread my eating any day. I don’t want to do the “Sunday night roundup” where I eat everything in sight in anticipation of all my sweets and treats being “off limits” come Monday. This way of thinking establishes a “lack mindset” around food. And the more we put sweets and treats up on a pedestal where they are forbidden, the more we’ll want and crave them. So much so that some Saturday, cheat meal (or day) time, we literally have no control over our response when they are reintroduced.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to be around any food, any time, and STILL be in control of my response. And when I establish cheat meals as a “special time for treats,” then I’m giving credence to the illicitness of those foods. When you realize that any food you want is available whenever you want it, the urgency of needing to EAT IT ALL RIGHT NOW falls away.

You can always find ways for your eating to satisfy you TODAY. And when you do that, there’s no urgency about a balls-out cheat. You just eat. No dieting. No deprivation. No “earning” your sugar. Just eating. And it goes on forever!

Solutions: Moderation365

You guys know that I’m a proponent of moderation, and I use preemptive cheats to stay satisfied and satiated. With that being said, I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies and killed a bag of candy or demolished an entire dessert after a dinner out.

I simply don’t ever get to the point of complete deprivation anymore. And when I don’t feel deprived, I don’t need to binge on sugar. This took time.

People ask me all the time how to curtail cravings. Or how to curb their sweet tooth.

I totally get that. I had a major sweet tooth. Heck, I used to schedule my day around my sweets (e.g. midmorning Sprees or a Tootsie Roll, and mid-afternoon yogurt-covered pretzels or Reese’s Pieces). WTF?? Yes. But at the time, it was the highlight of my day!

So how do you move from eating sugar daily to not feeling compelled?

The solution for me was 3-fold:

  1. I ate things that satisfied me BEFORE I reached that point (preemptive cheats).
  2. I found workarounds. When I wanted the taste of sweet, I’d find something that gave me that experience without going all-in on sugar, like a few bites of sugar-free chocolate or a protein pancake made with chocolate protein powder, or almond bread.
  3. I LET UP ON THE CARDIO. I did 2+ hours a day of cardio FOR YEARS. And my sugar intake was the reason. It was a cycle: I binged on sugar, which meant I needed more cardio to “burn it off” and then the more cardio I did led to more cravings for sugar. #idienow

Awareness and then practice of these tools took time and patience, and THREE YEARS LATER, I’m out of the cycle.

In summary: if you find yourself needing and wanting to binge, either every night after dinner or come Friday or Saturday, you are depriving too much earlier in the day/week. So ask yourself how you can feel MORE satisfied earlier? Think of it as a binge-precaution. Yes, I want you to eat something to satisfy you BEFORE you get the point of deprivation and to the point of needing a cheat meal.

You’re probably thinking: “But Jill, I don’t want to have something earlier in the week since I don’t *really* feel like I NEED anything then, only to reach the weekend and STILL pig out then!!”

Ha, I get it! I was scared shitless to try something different even in the face of my misery and obsession!

But honestly, you can always adjust and the old deprive-then-binge cycle will always be there. The whole starve-then-cheat protocol is still alive and well and there if you need it. So WHY NOT TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT? Because the old way? That’s not working. White-knuckling our way through the week only to blow it all Friday thru Sunday does. Not. Work long-term. Even this recent study shows that progress is made during the weekdays (thank you, Sasa, for the link).

What do you think? Could you try the Moderation365 approach? Reach the weekend feeling satisfied, not ready to rip someone’s head off if you don’t get your pizza?? :) I’d love to hear your thoughts on the JillFit FB page!
Ox, Jill

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/02/12/cheat-meals/

7 Things Successful People Say

Success is an attitude. It’s a mindset.

And it’s not a coincidence that all successful people share a few similar thinking patterns. It’s The Success Mindset. And it’s not luck. Or chance. It’s a deliberate effort.

I read the book, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and it’s all about cultivating the mindset of a successful person. And across the board–it doesn’t matter if you’re talking fitness, fat loss, career, relationships, whatever–the people whose attitude is that of growth, openness, resiliency and possibility will be successful.

Because mindset drives decisions. And decisions lead to outcomes.

Success

If my mindset is that “struggles are just part of the process,” when I encounter them, I’m expecting it, I’m not surprised. And I’m able to work through them quicker. And I also don’t make them mean that I suck and I better just throw in the towel. I see them as just par for the course.

Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that success is attitude.

It’s not “do this” or “take this approach.” It’s simply a way of being in the world that makes decision-making effortless. And cultivating that way of being takes conscious effort at first, and then practice. Opportunities for practice arise all the time, and it’s our reaction to those challenges that predict outcomes–good and bad.

So, I did this blog in seminar format for last month’s Radiance Retreat, and so I thought I would share it here. Enjoy!

1) “I know what I do best, and then I kill at it.”

There’s power when you’re acting and speaking from a place of passion and 100% authenticity. When you’re in the “flow state,” and being yourself, unapologetically, life is effortless. When you’re doing “what you’re meant to do,” it’s automatic. So with that said, trying to be anything or do anything that does not feel completely right for you is a waste of time.

Successful people follow their bliss. They know that life is too short to do shit you hate, and they find a way to work their passion into their life daily.

They also know that no one can do what they do better than them. What do I mean by that? When you are acting from a place of unapologetic authenticity, you are irreplaceable, an original, and good luck to anyone who tries to be you. Own your stuff. Go all in. And when you do, success is inevitable.

2) “Take 100% responsibility. For everything.”

Recently wrote an entire article on this. But as a recap … when you take responsibility for not only your own actions, but every and all circumstances you find yourself in (regardless of whose “fault” it is), you will always have options, you will always have steps to take. It’s when we blame and deflect responsibility that we get into trouble. Because when we do that, we give away our power. We give away our ability to act to change our circumstances. And at that point, we have to wait for others to change or assume responsibility. And I don’t know about you, but waiting for someone else to man-up in order to be successful just doesn’t sit right for me.

So forget luck. Forget what other people are doing. Forget what you “are owed.” Forget expectations for others, and forget what you think should happen. Because bottom line, reality is reality. Own that, and you will always have the ability to take ownership to improve your circumstances. I’ll choose empowerment over helplessness every time. And successful people know that their fate lies in their own perception and ability to act regardless.

3) “I give everything away, and then I receive ten-fold.”

Be more generous than you ever thought possible.

I’ll never forget listening to Marie Forleo speaking at Ryan Lee’s online business event 2 years ago, when she said, “I want my free content to be better than most people’s paid content.” Wow. Yes. Add massive value. For free! Give it all away.

People ask me why I give away whole workout programs and meal plans on my site. It’s a) because I know that meal plans and workout programs alone are not what get results. What gets results is implementation. And b) because ultimately I want people to get better, whether they choose to work with me or not. I feel a deep passion and OBLIGATION to share, empathize and educate. Information is the first step.

And how does it hurt me to give it away? People get scared that if everything’s on their blog or in a free ebook, why would people buy something from them? I understand that concern. But the bottom line is that giving away MY BEST STUFF and as much of it as possible helps me earn the TRUST of my readers first. Because if I don’t earn their trust, they certainly care and definitely won’t buy. They won’t even know what I’m selling! :)

And deeper than that, the bottom line for me is that I feel a deep, DEEP obligation to serve. I want every single person who reads this blog or interacts with me online (or in person) to walk away feeling empowered and like they have the tools to get better. And because that’s a core value of mine, how could I deny people the OPPORTUNITY to improve? I can’t. I won’t. And so I put it all out there. I give because I know that it’s in the giving that I receive.

This is a mindset. There’s enough happiness, success and money to go around. And when I come from an “abundance” mindset, the universe gives back to me ten-fold. When I’m scared and secretive and act with a “lack” mindset, I get exactly that–lack.

4) “I revel in the struggle.”

One of Jade’s mantras is, “Be a seeker, not a settler.” Can this way of thinking get us into trouble? Sure. But the alternative is staying small, scared and ultimately not making our dreams come true. Because inherent in taking action is the possibility for mistakes and missteps. Actually, they’re guaranteed.

So for me, I’d rather be able to anticipate them–even SEEK them out– than be blindsided when they happen and then make it mean that I suck and I better pack it in. No thanks! Instead, I look forward to my struggles. Why? Because every time I encounter a hardship, I’m given the opportunity to get better. I can get smarter, stronger, more resilient. And I will choose that every time–even though the pain and fear never gets less or easier. But those are the risks associated with striving for success. At some point, we all have to experience pain, heartache, loss, grief, etc. And I’d rather it be while I’m striving to create something amazing.

Successful people lean into the struggle. They cherish it because they know it ultimately makes them unstoppable.

5) “The more downtime I take, the more focused I am when I work.”

It’s no secret I love to relax. I wrote about it here, here and here. I lie on the couch and read 3-4 hours a day. I employ what I call “Rest-Based Living”–a take on Metabolic Effect’s Rest-based Training concept. In other words, the amount of downtime and recharge time we take is directly linked to the degree of FOCUS we’re able to employ when we sit down to work.

More rest = more focus.

We can choose to be ‘busy” for 10 hours a day OR we can choose to do focused work for 3 hours a day. The outcomes are the same, if we are cognizant of restorative time. Brendon Burchard calls this “block time,” where we schedule in 2-3 hours of time to really, really work on things that need our attention. Not email (close it down). Not Facebook and Twitter (sorry, that’s not really being productive). During scheduled block time, we can get so much done if we are deliberate that a couple hours is sufficient. I schedule in 1 or 2 block times daily, so probably 2-6 hours of actual “real” work, but I get so much more done than when I was “working,”–AKA being busy–for 10 hours a day.

If you’re interested in this concept, I’d recommend The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz. A total game-changer. I’ve never been more productive while “working” less time in my life.

6) “I practice a possibility mindset. When others ask, ‘Why me?’ I ask, ‘Why NOT me?’”

Successful people cultivate big thinking. Instead of defaulting to, “Why me?” they think, “Why NOT me?” They look for opportunities and possibilities instead of counting up the reasons why they can’t do it, or they’re not worthy to do it.

Cultivating a possibility mindset has everything to do with how open or narrow-minded you are. Narrow-minded thinking keeps us secure and certain, but it also takes away the opportunity for more. It’s easier to just maintain the status quo than it is to expand. So it takes a certain degree of risk and uncertainty to ask, Is there more? And if there is, can I do it?

THIS IS SCARY STUFF! I get that.

I use the tool Practical Pessimism to push my ability to take action to create more. Naturally, we tend to be scared to take action. Our self-doubts hold us hostage. But Practical Pessimism or going to worst-case scenario in our minds allows us to see the potential worst outcome and then ask, “If that occurred, could I handle it?” And I think that you will always find that yes, you could. Would it be uncomfortable or painful? Yep. But the alternative is NOT trying, staying small and scared. And success is anything but small. This is a choice! A choice to trust YOURSELF to be able to handle whatever transpires. To be able to adjust on the fly and figure it out. Ask yourself, “Do I trust me?” Those with a possibility mindset do, even in the face of fear.

7) “Be a lifelong student.”

Never stop learning. Those who get to the the next level invest in their brain first and foremost.

This also cultivates high self-worth. You only have to be one step ahead of those you’re coaching, and spending time every day in education is a key way to maintain that slight edge.

Ongoing learning is a key value of mine, as you know. Reading, coaching, mentorship and online programs are simple ways to improve your value. In the past year, Jade and I together have spent over 30k on coaching and education and I’ve read 130+ books, many of them on business, psychology or mindset. Every answer you could ever need is a book, online course or person away! Use the resources around you to better yourself and to better your ability to help others. I believe that knowledge is power insofar as it allows us to take action and make a change for the better. Learning is forever, and those who are the most successful will always choose to invest in their brains first and foremost. The best thing about self-education is that is can never be taken away from you.

Cultivating success is a deliberate practice. And it’s not easy and it’s not pain-free. In fact, be prepared to endure more challenges and obstacles than you ever thought possible. But the reward is immense. The outcomes are worth it–knowledge, passion, success, happiness, perspective and security. All amazing things. And the good news is that it’s only a little introspection away :) Let me know what you think! Ox, Jill

Related: 7 Ways to Start Creating the Life You Want

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/02/05/success-mindset/

Help! I’m Counting Calories and I Can’t Stop!

Aaaaaah! When JillFit Ambassador Maryalice Goldsmith approached me with the idea to write an article about calorie-counting, I loved the idea! I think the one thing that actually saved me from moving into full-blown adrenal fatigue and metabolic damage when I was competing was that I never counted calories. (Oh no, I just cut out whole food groups and did 3 hours of cardio a day :( )

ANYWAY, I hope you enjoy this great, insightful and HONEST post from Maryalice. Her 12-Week Look Great, Feel Great, Radiate! System is now open for registration and I think that if you like what Maryalice has to say, working up-close-and-personal with her would be a good move!

Enjoy this great guest blog from Maryalice! Ox, Jill 

 

Hey! I am thrilled to be here to talk about health & fitness…it really fires me up in a good way of course :) But something that gets my goat (Baaaaa!) is the endless noise out there in the world:

  • “Do this if you want to lose weight.”
  • “Take this pill for quick and amazing results.”
  • “This diet will have you looking 20lbs lighter in 2 weeks.”

The infomercials are endless, the magazines are riddled with information, and every week the news reports on the latest and greatest diet trend.

I learned the hard way; all this noise is simply that—noise—and having fallen victim to a lot of it myself, I realize it caused more harm then good. It wasn’t until I shut the noise out and started listening to my own body that I discovered my true optimal health.

So, let’s break down the 5 mistakes I made that may also be affecting your healthy & fitness journey:

1) Counting every single calorie doesn’t work.

How do I know that?

From 2005-2010 I was a calorie counting junky, it was a full-time job…LOL!  I have endless spreadsheets of every bite of food I ate for 5 years.

Why doesn’t it work?

Because calories don’t tell the whole picture. We need to look at things like hormones, hunger, energy, and cravings, and our mindset. What we eat and how often we eat matters more then total caloric value.

For me, counting calories created a negative mindset causing me to judge myself as good or bad depending on the amount of calories I ate. The numbers became an obsession and caused more unhealthiness, that was not the goal. I learned that listening to the needs of my body mattered more.

2) Calories do matter, but hormones matter more.

I learned a hard lesson with calorie counting…Damn, let’s just call it what it is ~CALORIE RESTRICTING!

FYI PEOPLE, you can’t calorie restrict and run marathons! I ran the Boston marathon in 2008 and ended up hitting a physical brick wall, which led to a 4-year battle with my body. I had pushed my hormones to their limit and the inevitable outcome ~ Adrenal fatigue and Hypothyroidism :(

We need to understand that our bodies have an intricately designed system of hormones that send messages all day long to our liver, thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands and more. The things we eat, how we exercise, our level of stress, and the quality of our sleep, dictate these messages.

Two major game players are insulin and cortisol. When we have high levels of stress, cortisol spikes, insulin is released to bring cortisol back down. If this ebb and flow is pushed too far and used in excess, then this is where we can gain fat, experience fatigue, ravenous hunger, and insatiable cravings. I was clearly pushing cortisol and insulin so far, day in and day out, that my body push back and literally shut down.

So, yes what we eat in a day matters, but what I want you to understand is they matter because of the messages they send to our hormones and in turn our body. I learned to use food (calories) to send a clear message of balance; there is no caloric total number that can define this. Lots of lean protein, veggies, and water and timed carbohydrates is what I discovered worked best for me.

3) 2+ hours of exercise is not so cool after all.

I spent hours in the gym lifting, running, rowing, biking and so on. That Stepmill saw me coming and it got scared…Ha! I had no idea I was doing more harm then good.

Over time, I learned that quality workouts that were short and intense are optimal for fat loss.

This kind of exercise stimulates stress hormones adrenaline & noradrenaline (catecholamines) and cortisol IN THE COMPANY OF testosterone and HGH, creating the perfect hormonal concoction for fat loss and muscle gain. Using a mixture of weights and cardio to drive the heart rate UP and then rest to bring it back down allowing the body to generate breathlessness, burning, heat, and heaviness is optimal. Not only do you get the benefits while you workout but, you generate an afterburn that allows you to burn fat for hours.

Add a slow restorative walk post workout and BAM you have yourself a fat burning phenomenon. I ilke to think of leisure walking after a short, intense workout kind of like a snow globe. When you shake it all that pretty glitter moves and sparkles. Same with fat–well it doesn’t sparkle :)–but when we exercise in this way, we generate fat flow from the muscle to the blood. Now if you were to place that snow globe down that glitter would just redeposit to the bottom. If you were to get a killer workout and then just stop you would continue to burn but if you were to keep moving in a slow restorative fashion you would burn even more and avoid fat from re-depositing.

Additionally, you get the added bonus of stress reduction, as restorative walking helps to balance hormones like cortisol. Today, my workouts focus on quality to achieve hormonal balance.

4) Sleep and stress have no calories but they have a huge impact on our hormones, and therefore, our results.

In the throws of my adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism, I began to work with the awesome Dr. Jade Teta, a naturopathic physician out of North Carolina and of course Jill’s husband :)

What he taught me about my body was amazing. I felt so awesome and I wanted other people to feel this, to make these connections about their hormones and how their body functions. So I took to the books and learned everything he had to teach…everything. I was in the classroom of Dr. Jade from Sept 2012-January 2013 becoming a Level 3 Hormonal Nutrition Coach and ME personal trainer.

I loved every minute because I learned things like sleep and stress do have an impact on my weight. Really? YES!! Sleep and stress may not have a caloric value, but think about when you’re tired or stressed, it’s agitating, right? Well, your insides are agitated too so therefore the hormonal message is ‘increase cortisol’ due to stress and we are now faced with hormonal imbalance. This leads to fat gain, water retention, and that bloated feeling. Cravings can spike as well as hunger, so the impact on this is multifaceted.

Today I focus on managing my stress and getting quality sleep. Naps even go down in my world today, who would have thought!? Leisure walking and prayer and meditation all help me manage stress.

5) “Healthy” is not necessarily my healthy.

As an avid health magazine reader, this was very enlightening. If “they” said cottage cheese was healthy, then I was going to eat cottage cheese. If “they” said I should go jogging for stress relief, I was going to do that.

What I found, through an intricate process of balancing my nutrition, is not everything that is deemed “HEALTHY” is really healthy FOR ME. I learned that cutting certain things out–like cottage cheese–FOR ME, was actually beneficial to my health. I learned I didn’t need nearly the amount of carbohydrates I was getting.

I also learned my healthy was not all about food. I needed to tap into my spiritual side through prayer and meditation. A daily practice of just being still does wonders for me, and believe it or not, my waistline and my mindset. The things we say to ourselves, the words we use to define who we are or how we look are powerful. I learned that healthy meant I needed to be self-compassionate, accepting, and grateful for who I was inside and out.

Today in order to live my best life ~ my true optimal health, I tap into my physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. This is where I find my balance my “healthy”!

Insideout-wellness.netSo here’s the bottom line, turn off the noise.

All those infomercials, magazines, diets, and talk shows…they do not hold the answer to your true health.

Everything you need to know is right within. “Healthy” is only healthy if it works for you. Stop following a plan and start listening to your body. You will be amazed at all it will reveal! For some that may sound too “woo-woo,” but I can tell you, our bodies are amazing and if we give them what they need, they will give back to us and you will radiate health, strength, confidence, joy, balance…your true optimal health. The only requirement is that you take the time to figure out what works best for you and along the way, be patient and gentle with yourself.

Although I made some mistakes along the way, they have been my greatest lessons learned. These mistakes have created opportunities and have led me to my life’s purpose of guiding and coaching others to achieve their optimal health.  It is one of my greatest joys to help people through the process of discovering their best health from the InsideOut!

Xo, Maryalice

Maryalice’s 12-Week Look Great, Feel Great, Radiate System is now open for registration, through Sunday February 2nd ONLY. If you’re someone who counts cals incessantly, runs yourself ragged with exercise and still can’t get the result (and balance!) you seek, Maryalice’s program is perfect for you. This woman is one of the most passionate coaches I know when it comes to nutrition, exercise and personal health. You’ll be in great hands! Spots are limited to grab yours today! Ox, Jill 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/01/30/calorie-counting/

4 Ways To Stop Eating A Million Calories Every Night

I don’t blame you for wanting to eat everything you can possibly get your hands on at night.

A few months ago, I was called in for jury duty. I had never been and was fairly happy about being able to sit and read a book for 8 hours straight. I thought, this can’t be that bad–basically an excuse to not be on the computer or do real work all day. Nice.

Or so I thought.

While I didn’t get picked, I still had to be in that tiny room, sitting in a tiny chair with 100 other people for 8 hours, and the farthest we could walk was the 50 feet to the bathroom. By 5pm, I was so stir crazy and annoyed by the confinement of the day that all my singular mind had the mental energy for was stopping by the store on the way home and then proceeding to guzzle an entire bottle of wine.

WHY DID THIS HAPPEN??

I was actually thinking to myself on the way home, “Now I understand why people who sit at a desk all day are so frigging drained when they get home, and it’s all they can do to NOT eat the house.”

WOW.

Call it irritation, stress, annoyance, confinement, boredom, needing a reward, whatever. But after having probably logged 100 steps TOTAL that day and 8 HOURS OF SITTING, I felt 100% like I deserved a bottle of wine for my ability to do that. WTF? Haha!

How crazy is that??

And yet, so many of us feel like this every. Single. Day. Get home after a long day of being sedentary at work and can’t help but eat everything nonstop from dinner until bedtime. I get it. I do. Wow.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 6.38.44 PM

Mentally, we are on empty. Willpower is exhaustible, and at the end of a long day of just even TALKING, there’s none left. And when willpower is gone, all that’s left are the habits. So if you’ve developed good habits, those are in place. If you’ve developed poor habits (like sitting on the couch watching TV pounding chips), then those are there, too.

And isn’t TV funny? It’s actually EASIER to watch TV than it is to go to bed! Because going to bed requires brushing teeth and taking contacts out, changing clothes, etc. Ha! And so often we know we should just go to bed, but relaxing with TV and food is easier. Watching TV is the path of least resistance. I was talking about this with my mom recently and I was dying laughing because I was saying that TV is actually easier than sitting quietly alone, “because when you do that, you have to think about stuff,” is the reason my mom gave. And she’s exactly right! THINKING WHEN WE ARE DEPLETED IS HARD WORK. And resisting sweets and treats takes mindfulness, AKA “thinking” and thinking’s just not a luxury we have at night after a long, hard day of it.

So. I don’t blame you.

BUT! The issue is that we need to figure this out, because the current way of handling it is not working.

So, how do we then NOT eat a milling calories every night? Metabolic Effect calls this “continuous meal” when you eat from dinner time straight until bedtime. We do this, don’t we??

I thought about this from all angles and came up with 4 tools that can help:

1) Find ways to replenish willpower throughout the day.

You can think of your willpower like a battery that get drained as the day goes on. It’s highest in the morning (it’s no wonder people cite breakfast as their healthiest meal of the day!) and with every decision throughout the day, willpower gets less and less. So, it would follow that if you could take moments throughout the day to replenish it, charge the battery, you’d be more equipped to deal with resisting sweets at night.

Some of my favorite ways to boost willpower (AKA restorative activities) include leisure walking, 5-10 min meditation, light stretching of foam rolling, reading a book, creative writing in a journal, sketching or even light yoga or tai chi. Kelly McGonigal in her book, ‘The Willpower Instinct’ shows how even 5 minutes of meditation throughout the day can make a significant impact. I also recommend reading ‘The Power of Full Engagement’ by Tony Schwartz and ‘Switch’ by Chip and Dan Heath.

2) Eat more and satisfying stuff earlier in the day.

Often cravings are related to feelings of deprivation. When we feel deprived for a day or a week or a month, the compensatory overindulgence is inevitable. So, it would follow that if you can stay MORE satisfied and satiated throughout the day, that compensatory hunger and cravings would be less at night.

So the answer to quitting nighttime binging is actually NOT to be more strict during the day. This can be a tough pill to swallow though, especially when we wake up in a state of remorse from the night before–often we want to literally FAST all day “to make up for it.” No ma’am. Instead, find ways to preempt cravings and hunger.

First and foremost, this includes eating more protein and fiber-rich foods earlier in the day. They keep us feeling fuller for longer and stabilize energy. The second way is to incorporate preemptive cheats. I’ve written on these quite a bit, but they are foods that are satiating, but don’t necessarily help with fat loss. They are more neutral and we don’t need a lot to feel satisfied. Examples are: a couple strips of bacon, a few squares of dark chocolate, a sprinkle of cheese on salads or even a few slices of cheese off a block, avocado, guacamole, sugar-free fro-yo, or even a single glass of red wine. They help take the edge off but don’t usually add pounds if you are watching servings. They act as “built-in relief” for your diet. Have a serving each day or every other day.

3) Find workarounds.

Sometimes you just have to rewire your nighttime behaviors. I recommend checking out the book, ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg. The idea is that when you spend time building healthy habits, when your willpower gets drained, you default to those effective habits instead of poor ones.

Whatever you practice is what you get good at. And Day 1 of practice is always the hardest, but the more you do it, the more automatic it becomes. So workarounds will be things that take you AWAY from that typical couch-TV-food scenario. They are physical, nutritional or lifestyle-based tools. This is a modified version of what coach Mike T. Nelson uses as a guide for fasting:

Physical workarounds: Go workout after dinner, take a walk, do some light stretching or foam rolling, go to a yoga class, go dancing, etc.

Nutritional workarounds: Use the Metabolic Effect cocoa drink (1-2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder, hot water, stevia to taste) or a large hot tea. Both keep your mouth occupied! Take BCAAs or chug a liter of water.

Lifestyle workarounds: #GYAIB (Get Yo Ass In Bed) and read, meditate or have sex :), blog, pay the bills, call a friend, take a long, hot bath, etc.

Start by picking 1 or 2 things you could see yourself doing INSTEAD of your usual scenario and practice them until they become second nature. My personal tool is getting into bed right after a later dinner and reading.

4) Incorporate “Intermittent Sampling”: a practice in moderation.

My house, purse and gym bag are littered with half-eaten protein bars (wrapped, I swear!). Yes, it’s a touch gross but it serves a purpose. It’s part of what I call “intermittent sampling” and it’s a PRACTICE in moderation. “But Jill, I haaaaaaate moderation, AND I CAN’T DO IT!”  I get it. I used to eat 5 protein bars in a row, nevermind a half or third of a bar–are you kidding me?? But, yes, over time, I started practicing NOT eating the whole thing. Here’s how:

I’d get a bar out and take 1/3 of it, eat it, get the taste and put the rest back into the cabinet or into my purse (ha!). Then, I’d go do something for AT LEAST 10 minutes. If I was still thinking about the bar, I’d go back and eat another third. Then I’d put it back. Same thing. This time I’d wait AT LEAST 20 minutes and if I still wanted more, I’d go back and finish it. Over time, more often than not, I was able to take a third or a half and forget about the rest until later.

This may seem silly but the idea that you can just go cold-turkey is a little shortsighted. And besides, I don’t want to have to go cold-turkey. I want to be able to control my cravings and use a moderate approach to feel satisfied with less. I used to be someone who would HAVE TO FINISH THE WHOLE BAG/PACKAGE/ROLL of whatever it was. And this was a practice that helped me overcome that.

bar

The One Fry Rule: Another example. My brother Danny is 23 years old and he lives with Jade and I. Like most 23 year old guys, he orders a burger and fries 90% of the time we go to dinner. So I started just plucking one single fry from his plate every dinner. Even when I didn’t really want one. Simply to REINFORCE that I can taste something and then move on. I’d grab a fry, douse it in ranch :) and then proceed to eat my #BAS or protein & veggies. This became a practice that has carried over into all meals and all my interactions with food.

So, is there something you can PRACTICE moderation with? Remember, we are not trying to be perfect. We are trying to not eat a million calories at night. So even a little better is still an improvement. What food would you like to continue to be able to eat but need to practice your moderate approach around? Neghar pours baby glasses of wine and that’s what works for her.

This stuff may been neurotic or weird or overly obsessive, but it’s actually the opposite. Because these practices automatically put me in more control than ever, effortlessly. It’s simply just “the way I eat” now. No stress, no binging, no obsessive thinking about food, just self-trust, meal to meal, situation to situation. Over time, it’s completely liberating.

Hope these four things help! My advice is to start with just one option and see how you do, instead of trying to implement them all at once. Start with the easiest one first, the one you can see yourself doing right away. And then PRACTICE. And be gentle with yourself, and just do your best. Many of us have many million-calorie nights to overturn in terms of habit formation. So relax into the process and don’t expect perfection and I promise it’ll get more manageable with time. Good luck! Ox, Jill

 Related: The First Step in Quitting the Deprive-then-Binge Cycle

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/01/27/nighttime-eating/

Want to be Successful? Assume All The Responsibility. All Of It.

I remember 3 years ago when I was dealing with some personal struggles and I had an amazing spiritual coach working with me. His message, though he never really said it like this, was: take responsibility for everything.

I hated that.

I hated it because at the time I thought taking responsibility was the same as assuming blame. And I didn’t want to assume blame for what I perceived to be other people’s fucked-up-ness. I didn’t want to let people off the hook. I wanted people to understand how “hurt” I felt and that their actions and words were, well … fucked up. I wanted to wait for other people to realize their mistakes and change their ways. I wanted other people’s actions and words to be different.

Well, I might as well have been wishing for a miracle, waiting for other people to realize the error of their ways and change those ways so that I could finally be happy and affirmed! Because really, do I have any control over how other people act or what they say?

And yet I was pinning my happiness on those very changes I hoped they’d make. For my sake.

Ugh. Really??

Saying it out loud like that sounds a bit ludicrous. Silly, right?

I’ve blogged about it many times on JillFit—the idea that pinning our happiness on others being a specific way is a fast route to disappointment and well, unhappiness.

Because can anyone really make us happy? Can anyone take on that kind of onus for us?

I think no.

Which comes back to the idea of responsibility.

And in light of this insight, the ONLY option to happiness and full self-realization is to take 100% responsibility for everything. Every situation we end up in, whether we’re to blame or it’s at the fault of someone else.

Blame can be placed on someone else for getting us into a specific situation, but the responsibility for moving forward and OUT of that sitation lies with us. Why? Because the alternative is waiting for others to take up the cause. Which may or more likely, will not, happen. No thanks! I don’t know about you, but I’m very reluctant to let the fate of my success lie in the hands of someone else.

So, in a sense, this is liberating. Isn’t it? We get to have a say—THE say—in how our future unfolds. Our results—good or bad—lie only in our hands. We don’t have to rely on anyone else for our happiness or success. Empowering, no?

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“You complete me”: Doing us a disservice?

You might ask, “But Jill, what about relationships? Partners? Spouses? Where does this leave them? Aren’t there expectations and aren’t we supposed to ‘complete each other? We can rely on them, right?’”

Frigging Jerry McGuire: “You complete me.”

While I understand the sentiment and I love romance as much as the next person, I think this belief does us a disservice. It infers that we can never be complete without that one person who’s supposedly meant for us. And it keeps us searching for someone to do the work for us, instead of taking full responsibility for our outcomes and happiness solo.

BUT! But, when we own up to our own circumstances, taking full responsibility for where we end up, we get to allow the other person—our partner—to be along for the ride and cultivate enjoyment rather than holding that person to certain expectations or a certain role we need them to play. We get to enjoy them and love them without expectation.

I love being married. But not because I need someone else to make me whole, but because my partner challenges me to get better. He inspires me to grow and learn and be more vulnerable and take MORE action on my own, not less. That’s the power of a strong relationship—two people who are 100% complete and whole on their own, coming together to make something stronger and more fulfilling. Jade and I call it “our third person.”

So how do you become a complete and whole person on you own? Again, it comes back to assuming responsibility for moving forward, taking action and finding solutions. Because we can complain OR we can look for solutions, not both.

But the typical compulsion is to complain because … sympathy! Comisery! Pity parties!

We humans are so funny, aren’t we? We’d rather be in a bad spot together than alone at the top. We want to know that we’re not alone in our misery. And I get that, too. It feels good to have relatedness, and geez, I certainly want others to “get” me. But what about instead, working together to find solutions and move forward? To get better? Elevate together, instead of staying mired in misery, going back and forth affirming one another that yeah, we have it bad.

It takes courage to NOT play the victim

The reason this is a particular sensitivity of mine is because I played the victim for many years, so many years. I remember going through a rough business relationship and blaming the other people involved constantly. And yet I didn’t do anything. I just went around telling anyone who would listen how bad my situation sucked. They always agreed. Of course they did.

But I felt no better. Nothing changed.

Because despite being affirmed that things sure did suck, there was still no place to go. I still didn’t take action. I didn’t have options. Or, at least ones I could see. It felt impossible to make a change. And yet, the alternative to taking action to make a change was to be miserable. Which I was.

The only real option in any situation where we find ourselves in misery is to take responsibility for it, and make a change for ourselves. Not take the blame, necessarily. Because it may not be your fault you’re in that space. But placing blame is not actionable. It’s a crutch. It’s how we make excuses to not take action. It’s how we stay in the victim mindset.

No thanks!

So, next time you find yourself in a tough spot, where you feel “done wrong” or “betrayed” or “hurt,” allow yourself to feel the emotions of it, but ultimately remember that only you can change your outcomes, whether that’s through your choices, your effort or just even your attitude.

Because the reality is that life doesn’t “happen to you.” You create it, in every moment and with every choice.

What will you choose? :)

Related: Consider the problem might be you

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/01/16/responsibility/

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Drama

“There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.” –J.K. Rowling

Recently, I was pulled into two separate situations where I was confronted with what I consider to be “drama”–negative energy, name-calling, gossiping and shit-talking behind people’s backs.

And on a visceral level, it makes me so frigging uncomfortable. I don’t like it at all. Like, I actually get a tight feeling in my chest and want to do anything to turn around the conversation to the positive or away from “other people.” Actually, I hate it so much that I ALMOST DON’T WANT TO WRITE THIS BLOG. Ha!

But I feel like I have to, because I want to nip this thing in the bud.

See, I feel fortunate because my life is fairly drama-free in terms of negativity. I have stress. Lots of it, just like anyone else, and I do my best to handle it. And I rarely, if ever, resort to gossip, blaming, name-calling and putting out negative vibes. This is an operating system, and one I’ve practiced for the last few years (wasn’t always like that though), to the point that any negativity honestly makes me so uncomfortable. Those things don’t feel good and they certainly don’t serve me. In fact. the only thing they do is pull me into Negative Town where I get to be a huge victim. Ugh.

When I started JillFit in 2010, I committed to the core value of “relentless positivity” and I strive to live that daily. It’s not always easy, especially when I get frustrated or want to play the victim, which happens a lot. And it can feel good to play the victim, can’t it? We get to gather our pity party around us. We get to trade stories, talk about who has it the worst and commiserate over our troubles. We get to look at each other and agree that our situations suck. We get to complain and vent and “rant.” And while sympathy and co-misery can feel good, it keeps us in a holding pattern of inaction and helplessness.

But one thing that helps me when I want to blame and get negative is to remember that creating and participating in drama is, too, an operating system. And it’s one that keeps me from achieving the things I want and getting to the place I want to be.

When I am busy with negativity and blame, all of my mental energy is used up there, and I don’t have it available to do the things needed to reach my goals.

And I can always adjust my operating system to one that allows me more possibilities and success.

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I also remember:

DRAMA = INSECURITY + NEGATIVITY + INAUTHENTICITY

Let’s break those three things down a little more.

Insecurity:

In my opinion, this is the underlying element of drama. When I’m insecure, I compare myself to others. I struggle with not being good enough. Subconsciously, I feel inadequate and irrelevant. I feel helpless and defensive.

And the last thing all of those feelings make me want to do it own up to my bullshit. In fact, all I want to do when I’m in an insecure frame of mind is look “out there” for others who can take the blame. When I’m insecure, I can make it about other people being assholes, or being rude or unfair, treating me poorly or making my life miserable.

In other words, when I’m insecure, I get to create drama around other people so that I don’t have to take responsibility for my own happiness and outcomes. I can blame, deflect, defend and place onus elsewhere.

Ugh.

How does that help me in the long run, really? How does waiting around for other people to “get it” really help me right now? It doesn’t. And when I engage in drama and gossip as a result of insecurity, I get to stew in my victimhood and let other people be the source of my unhappiness.

What a prison! When I can only be happy and fearless once other people change, I am literally incapacitating myself.

On the other hand, when I am secure in my stuff, I don’t need to compare or stress about what other people are saying or doing because I’M DOING WHAT I NEED TO DO FOR ME, regardless of what people around me are doing. It’s beautiful. When I’m secure, I wish other people the best because I realize that others’ successes have zero impact on my own success. I don’t feel threatened by what other people are doing or their successes because those have nothing to do with me. Other people’s successes don’t make my own any less likely or my contributions any less important or impactful.

I realize that there’s enough money, success and happiness to go around.

In short, when I’m secure, I don’t need to create drama to make myself feel better. (But ask yourself, does the drama actually make you feel better, though? Probably not. Only keeps you feeling helpless and stuck).

Negativity.

I’ll never forget one of mentors Alwyn Cosgrove (a two-time cancer survivor and amazingly inspiring coach) saying at one of our masterminds, when asked how he approaches trolls on social media: “I ban them automatically. No second chances. Because I simply refuse to put negative shit in my head.”

I agree completely.

I can’t think of one benefit to negative thinking. I understand and use “worst-case scenario” or Practical Pessimism as a tool to help me take more action, but straight-up negativity not only makes me feel depressed as hell, but it also keeps me mired in the bullshit.

What do I mean by that?

When I get negative, I am allowing my own choices about how I will feel in this moment (negative) convince me that I can’t make a difference. That my actions don’t matter. That I’m screwed regardless of what I do. And I don’t know about you, but putting myself in a position where “it’s all bad” and I have no options is absolutely miserable. It makes me feel helpless, stuck and like the world is out to get me.

No thanks!

But! When I act from a place of positivity, looking for the bright spots in situations and being genuinely happy with what I’m working toward, I don’t need to put anyone else down. I’m grateful for what I’ve got–both the good and the bad–and that’s a place of power. That’s a place of openness and wishing other people the best, and giving others the benefit of the doubt, and not taking things personally, and not making assumptions, and being genuinely happy for others’ successes. It’s an empowered place. It’s a stress-free place. It feels good in that place. I feel equipped in that place.

Inauthenticity.

You might not get this one right off the bat, so let me explain. I talk a lot about “apologetic authenticity” and the fact that when we are acting out of 100% ownership of who we are in the world, honoring that, no compromises, we are free to relax into ourselves without censor or approval-seeking or needing to be anything we’re not. We are free to be you and me :)

And when I engage in drama, gossip or shit-talking, I’m not owning my stuff. I’m not 100% happy in what I’m doing and who I’m being (authentic), so I need to deflect and position others as “wrong” or “messed up.” When I’m not practicing authenticity, other people (and their successes) feel threatening. I can easily be intimidated by what other people are doing. I can easily resent them. And it’s mostly because on some level, I’m not doing what I need to do for me.

But when I do for me, I don’t need to compare or stress about what other people are doing, because I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.  I own my authenticity and I own my unique goals. And I want others to own theirs, too!

Because when I’m acting in an authentic way, I could give two shits what other people are doing. Not that I don’t care about others, but I’d take what I’m doing every day of the week over what someone else has or who they are or who others see them as.

Because I like me.

Reminds me of Mark Cuban. Asked if he could be anyone else in the world, dead or living, who would he be? “I’m be me.” And isn’t that the way it should be? It’s that the ultimate? It’s not always easy to feel that way and it takes a lot of personal development and self-compassion, but it’s worth it if the end result is getting to be 100% comfortable in you.

And not only comfortable, but owning it. Like my girl Liz DiAlto says, there’s no use stressing about who’s taking my stuff or trying to compete with me because, “good luck trying to be me.” <—This is the kind of attitude you have to have. Not negative, but just SURE of yourself. Confident. Positive. Moving on. Everything is good as far as you’re concerned!

The last piece of the drama puzzle is this … when I’m engaging in and creating drama, I’m ultimately at wasting time and energy away from where I want be to. I’m wasting the energy that I could be using to take myself to the next level. I’m wasting mental space on stuff that’s not important. It’s petty and it’s what Jade calls “monkey level”–it’s, for lack of a better word, drama :)  It doesn’t help me get to the next level. It keeps me grounded in the small shit. It doesn’t help me elevate myself or those around me. It keeps me scared and stuck.

And ain’t nobody got time for that! :)

I’d love your thoughts on this. Do you have Negative Nancys in your life? How do you deal with them? Or do you even, find yourself taking a ride into Negative Town? It’s easy to want to play the victim. It takes courage to NOT play the victim. Because when you take responsibility, you have to look your own BS straight in the face. Not fun, and certainly painful, but always worth it in the end. Let me know your thoughts on the JillFit Facebook page! Ox, Jill

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/01/08/drama/

Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat? Hormones, Paleo, Carbs, Oh My! {Guest Post}

I am beyond excited to feature a guest post today, by my good friend and “gorgeous” best-selling author Esther Blum, RD, of Living Gorgeous. Esther and I have been friends since her first book, Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous came out years ago, and over the years it’s been a pleasure to watch her grow in her influence and impact.

Her most recent book, Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat, just came out last week and I couldn’t be happier to get this exclusive post from her for JillFit readers. A lot about female hormones, carbs and how to know if a Paleo approach is right for you. As you know, at JillFit, we believe that each person has to approach fat loss in their own unique way–and also not be miserable–and Esther’s approach falls in line with that. 

Great info here, take it away Esther! 

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Hi Gorgeous Girls,

I just released my fourth book, Cavewomen Don’t Gat Fat, and I could not be more excited!  No pun intended here, but it’s been quite an evolution ;-).  It took me quite awhile to return to my Paleo roots, and now that I have, I’ve finally found what works for me.

Funnily enough, I cringed when my agent pitched the idea of writing a diet book to me—especially since my last three books were all non-diet books.  I’ve never liked diets, mostly because they always left me feeling hungry and deprived.  And I’ve never figured out how to reconcile eating “diet food” with leading a balanced life. Sound familiar?

So I created my Paleo Chic Plan—the ultra modern version of the Paleo Diet—that is specifically tailored to the nutritional, hormonal, and real world needs of women like you and me. Most diets take a one-size-fits-all approach; mine provides you with a template and enables you to custom-tailor that template to your unique needs.

Cavewomen Don't Get Fat

One question I always get asked is:

“But how do I know if the Paleo diet is right for me?”

If the Paleo plan deviates significantly from the way you usually eat, then it won’t be sustainable and you’ll go back to your old ways.

In fact, a lot of women shy away from the Paleo way of eating because they cringe at the thought of giving up carbs. The fact is, when you laterally switch out protein in place of carbs, your hunger levels will be kept in check.  Most women own up to snarfing down a bag of chips or a sleeve of cookies, but I’ve yet to hear tales of any woman bingeing out on a steak!

So my Paleo Chic plan takes into account women’s hormonal needs and supplies readers with tricks on eating carbs that can actually boost your results, keep you feeling full, and help you start shedding those stubborn pounds. Here are some insights you might be interested to know re: women, carbs & fat loss:

Every woman has a unique tolerance to carbs.

Try reducing your carbs for 2 weeks, which will clean up metabolic clutter, reset your body’s sensitivity to carbs, and lower your insulin levels.  Then try reintroducing 1 complex starch ½ cup serving a week to find your unique carb tolerance.  You can do this until your body fat percentage goal is reached.

Eating a single cheat meal with carbs once a week can help with fat loss.

This will help you lose weight by resetting your body’s leptin levels. Dieting can lower your leptin levels (leptin regulates appetite and hunger), and severely limiting your carbohydrates for more than a couple weeks can raise your cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone). A cheat meal boosts your metabolism and resets your leptin levels so the body does not think it’s starving. Plus, it will keep you psychologically fulfilled and allow you to enjoy your favorite carbs on occasion.

Women can eat more carbs the first two weeks of their menstrual cycle, when insulin sensitivity is greatest.

Estrogen production is on the upswing, which improves insulin sensitivity and retains muscle mass, which means you’re likely to burn, rather than store, fat during this two-week cycle.

Women who lift heavy weights can improve their tolerance to carbs.

Lifting heavy weights improves insulin sensitivity and can effectively mobilize fat stores.  Eating carbs within a 30-minute window of your workout will spike insulin levels and ultimately raise growth hormone, which builds muscle.  Increased muscle mass can improve insulin sensitivity and put you in a fat-burning, rather than a fat-storing, state.

Esther’s new book, “Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat” is out now! Lots of awesome info on female hormones, how to incorporate healthy carbs and lose fat, while also not being miserable! Get the book here! Highly recommend :) Ox, Jill

Hook up with Esther online:
Living Gorgeous Facebook page
Esther’s Twitter handle
Esther’s site: http://www.livinggorgeous.com

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2014/01/06/cavewomen/

10 Ways To Be Amazing In 2014

Every new year, I post my favorite ways to make the most of the coming year. Check last year’s post here.

Over the last few years, I’ve been so fortunate to have been given opportunities and experiences to meet and work with so many amazing women–online and in-person. To say I’m grateful is an understatement.

The best part, for me, about working with so many women who are all so different, have different aspirations, passions, personalities, etc, is that I get a lot of experience figuring out what works for who. How can this person be more effective in their business? How can this gal finally beat the crash dieting cycle and maintain her results? How can this woman master her mindset to become freer and happier in her relationships with herself and others.

It’s been a whirlwind, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Luckily, there are number of solutions and strategies that work for most women when it comes to being more effective, successful, happy and fulfilled in their lives. Below are the lessons I’ve learned personally, and through working in-depth with hundreds of women over the years to elevate. Enjoy!

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1) Master the art of SELF-trust.

If there’s one practice to rule them all, it’s this. All insecurity comes down to this–on some level, we don’t trust ourselves. We censor ourselves and look for affirmation and approval and act in accordance with that we believe will earn us that from others. We often go around trying to prove to others we are good enough, when if we just mastered the art of self-trust, we’d be free of the need for approval altogether. And imagine how liberating that could be! Doing what you need to do for you, without worrying over how others will perceive it or what they’re thinking. Because remember, they are often too busy wondering what you’re thinking OF THEM. Ha!

This is probably the hardest task on this list because it means overcoming some of our deepest insecurities.

How do you do it? You start practicing, and use “worst-case scenario.” When you find yourself looking for affirmation from others and seeking approval, instead, try a new way. Just do or say whatever is in your heart and let the chips fall where they may. HOLY SHIT. Lol. Sooooo hard. But, then, go to worst-case scenario: What if people don’t like what you have to say? Or what you’re doing? Would you change as a result? Try to fall back in line? Probably not if it’s what’s in your heart, right? So then ask, would I be okay with so-and-so not approving? Or being disappointed? Or not offering their affirmation? And I bet, 100% of the time you’ll be just fine. Is it comfortable? No. Does it feel painful? Sometimes. And in the short term, it’ll probably be a struggle. But the alternative is staying in a place where you’re constantly compromising for others and censoring your true self in an effort to gain approval. And that sucks way worse in the long-run.

2) Be yourself, unapologetically.

Similar to self-trust, when you act and come from a place of unapologetic authenticity, people get to see the real you. And that can be scary, sure. But the amazing thing is that when you practice being yourself without apology, you KNOW that the people who love you and surround you TRULY love you for you. No smokescreens, expectations or obligations to be anything you’re not. Because keeping up the facade of being someone you’re not is almost like lying to those around you, isn’t it? It’s a promise that you can’t (and shouldn’t) deliver. And those you love deserve to see the real you, every part of you. And implicit in that revealing also means that some people will leave your life. Let them. It’s fine. Because they also deserve to surround themselves with people they enjoy without obligation or expectation, don’t they? It’s a beautiful system!

3) Try. Try. And then try some more.

AKA, take action and see what happens. Because the alternative is not taking action. And staying in status quo mode. Which is not a judgment if you like your status quo–besides, you should like it–but when we talk about elevating your game for 2014, it’s about deeper connection and richer experiences. And those only arise when we try a new way. Take a new chance. Choose to go in a different direction. And change is always scary, but we’ll never know how far we can go if we don’t try. And try again. And try some more. Because elevating is not easy. It takes time, patience, persistence, self-confidence and reams of resiliency. But the reward is more than you can imagine. Your entire existence can be completely different a year from now if you start taking action consistently. Put in the work, mess up and then keep on keeping on.

4) Practice empathy.

People want permission to be human. And when we judge them for being anything but perfect, we are making a judgment that there’s something *wrong* with them, and that the way we want them to be is the “right way.” It’s not a matter of right or wrong, simply the fact that people are and should be able to be themselves, whatever that looks like.

The most generous thing we can do for someone else is to see where they’re coming from. Put ourselves in their shoes. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Allow them to be human. We can create the most fulfilling relationships if we let people be themselves without judgment. And by using “the benefit of the doubt” as a tool, we can also understand why people do what they do.

We all act out of insecurity, so when using the benefit of the doubt, if someone pisses you off, you don’t need to take it personally because you can now understand that they are acting from their own insecurity. They are just doing the best they can. And the need to take offense and take things personally falls away. It’s liberating for them, but more for YOU :) Practice empathy. How can it hurt to see where someone else is coming from?

5) Give to others exactly what you want to get back. And give freely!

You want to be treated kindly? Be kind to others first. If you want to be respected, treat others with respect and be humble first. Besides, doesn’t everyone deserve to be listened to and acknowledged? The most confident people give praise and compliments freely because they don’t make it mean that their contributions are any less valuable. I think as women, we can get caught up in this, out of insecurity. We hold back praise for others because we think that if we acknowledge someone else’s success or accomplishment, it means that we are not doing as well. Which is crazy! The two, in actuality, have nothing to do with one another. And the most confident people realize this and give freely. And not only that, they also realize it actually BENEFITS THEM to help and give to others. It’s in giving that we receive. Truly. Try and see what happens.

6) Give up the idea of “perfection.”

In everything. Your physique, your parenting skills, your business outcomes, your relationships. When you expect perfection in not only certain areas, but ALL areas, as us women often do, we’re only left with disappointment and discouragement. We decide that we need X or else we can’t be happy or we can’t feel successful.

And that’s a miserable way to live.

I would even argue that striving for perfection not only makes you miserable but actually holds you back from being successful. Because remember, failure is feedback, and we need the mess-ups to learn and grow. Perfectionists have little tolerance for missteps, to the point that when they do mess up, they crumble. They don’t have the resiliency built that people who just strive to do their best do. Let “good enough” be good enough and watch as your results soar.

7) Quit defining success.

My ever-insightful sister-in-law, Jillian and I were talking over a bottle of wine last night, and she said something that really struck me: “As soon as you define what happiness looks like, you’ve already limited yourself.” I love this. When you define what you see happiness as–a new house, a luxury car, the perfect relationship, a career making X amount a year, whatever–you are already closed off to seeing other ways you might experience happiness. When you define your happiness goal a specific way, you miss out on any potential happiness that can be found outside that definition.

8) Take what people say at face value.

This is so hard, because we want to make assumptions and protect ourselves against what we perceive to be ulterior motives by others. We say things like, “I have a great sense of intuition,” or “I go with my gut,” and “Well, I don’t trust they really mean what they say.” I understand that. And it can be scary taking something someone says at face value, because we want to make meaning out of things. We don’t want to be taken advantage of or have someone pull one over on us. I get that too.

But the point is two things: a) Making assumptions and thinking you know what someone *means* to say better then they themselves know is dangerous. Because when we interact in this way, we never trust anyone. We think people are working from an agenda. Talk about miserable! And not to mention, it’s completely unfair to the other person. Let them own their truth (or falsity), it’s not for you to decipher. “But Jill, what if someone is lying to me?” And that brings me to b) If you take someone at face value and they are deceiving you, then that truth will come out eventually. And you’ll learn from it at that point. You can make a decision at that point. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You’re made a fool of? Someone pulls one over on you? Aren’t you only a victim if you decide you’re one? Aren’t you only “a fool” if you give that thought credence?

I know this concept is a really bitter pill to swallow for many, but the alternative is waaaaay worse–never being able to trust anyone, constantly feeling like others are trying to take advantage of you, watching your back and never fully living because you’re so worried about what others are doing. No thanks! You do YOU. Let them do them!

Love this so much: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~Hemingway

9) Stop doing shit you hate.

This is tricky, because often we don’t even stop to think about if we actually LIKE what we’re doing or enjoy it. I remember when I was doing “the fitness hustle,” teaching and training at a million different gyms and working 70 hours a week, I had no time to even THINK about the fact that I was miserable. It wasn’t until I was driving across town at 8pm on a Friday night to train one client for $15 that I was like, “WTF? What am I doing?? How is this my life? I don’t even have any sense of control over it. I’m just drifting, never asking the hard questions.” You might be in that position right now too. Feeling like you can’t slow down to question your life’s direction because … What about the bills? What about my obligations? What about the guilt I would feel at not delivering on certain things? I couldn’t possibly ask my boss for a raise or a change in my schedule because, what if he fires me?? What if I raise my prices and my clients quit!?

I get it. I do. And when I started making changes to my miserable schedule, I had all those same fears. And you don’t make changes overnight. It took me 5 years from my aha moment to actually be working full-time for myself from home. So I’m not asking you to shun your responsibilities or not make your mortgage. But start to consider that you COULD actually start SLOWLY making some changes to your life to be happier, freer and more effective with your time and money. At least begin to ASK the questions :)

10) Be grateful. For the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It’s easy to be appreciative for the good stuff. I can look around my life and find a million happy coincidences. And that’s an important practice. BUT. But, what about the tough stuff? Can you be grateful for those too?? Tal Ben-Shahar in ‘Being Happy’ says that it’s through the challenges and the failures that we truly grow. Without the obstacles, we’d have zero opportunities to get better. I was laughing with Jillian a few months ago, saying, “Sometimes I just want to go move to a cabin out in the woods and be alone forever.” I think we all experience moments like that, don’t we? When we want to hide from reality. And isn’t going to a cabin in the middle of nowhere nice and convenient? No one to push my buttons. Nothing to challenge me. No responsibilities forcing me to learn. Beautiful! Except that there’s also absolutely zero chance for connection, no opportunity for grow, change, insight, improvement.

The bad. And the ugly. Those are where the gems are. The BEST lessons! Aaaaaah! And it’s hard! And painful! And uncomfortable! But you’ll know you’ve mastered this when you can see your worst nightmares come true as gifts. Aaaaaaah! But the bottom line is that none of us gets out of life without experiencing pain, loss and heartbreak of some kind. And like Byron Katie says, “You don’t have to like it. It’s just easier if you do.” Ha!

2014, baby!

Regardless of where you decide to go in 2014, remember that you can do anything you want. Never forget how powerful you are in the world. Everything you ever wanted is only a thought away, if you have the audacity and courage to think it. Thoughts become things! And though I love a new year, I find that every single day is an opportunity to get better, to become freer, happier, more successful in my own way, on my own terms. How about you? What will you do to be amazing this year? Let me know! :) Ox, Jill

Related: 32 Rules to Live By

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/31/be-amazing/

The Best “Diets” Are The Ones That Are Never Over

Looking for “the best diet” for 2014?

I know exactly what it is.

It’s the thing you can do effortlessly, maintain your weight and feel amazing.

The caveat? It takes trying things a new way. And it means giving up all your previously-held notions about weight loss.

Why? Because learning how to eat for our unique metabolism, personal preferences and psychological sensitivities is the only way that we can ever hope to lose fat and keep it off.

But this is a process.

And that process takes time, introspection, listening to your own body and its responses to food and exercise and playing the part of the Body Change Detective.

All of that is really, really hard.

And when faced with that challenge, and knowing that it could take literally years to figure it out fully, it will make anyone want to crawl headfirst into a package of Oreos and give up all hope.

I get that, totally, and I don’t blame you.

But! But, let’s look at the alternative options:

  • Jumping on board with the latest dieting trend, hoping that THIS ONE will finally be “the one”
  • Looking out into the industry and seeing a fitness model or competitor we admire, and asking them to write us a 12- week meal plan and then hoping to hell we can be compliant
  • Reading the newest book about a special cleanse, detox or elimination diet, vowing to follow it to the letter and get the results we’ve always wanted, and assume, against all odds, that those results will last forever
  • Following the same quirky diet that your neighbor or family member did and lost 50 pounds (Hello, Grapefruit Diet! G-Free! Cookie Diet! Starbucks Diet! Chew this coconut oil for 30 minutes a day! Drink a liter of apple cider vinegar daily!)
  • Or—my personal favorite—sign up for a fitness competition because what better motivator to get you in shape than the sheer terror of embarrassment on stage :)

THESE are the other options.

These are the short-term solutions that we keep trying to convince ourselves will work, when in the end, we end up miserable, rebound like crazy, fatter than when we started and now our metabolism is also less responsive for future endeavors.

Ugh.

I yo-yo dieted for years, and that’s exactly how I felt. Every time I gained the weight back (because I always did when opting for short-term Magic Meal Plans) I felt that much more discouraged, disappointed and defeated.

Until I started to think about my nutrition as an education into myself.

This was a mental switch. I stopped thinking that if I could just “get the right coach” or “afford to hire the best expert” or “stick to this frigging meal plan for once in my life!” that I would miraculously get lean.

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There are a few major differences between people who stay struggling and those who master the Fat Loss Lifestyle:

Crash Dieter: Thinks results lie “out there” and getting those results is just a matter of a) finding that one special Magic Meal Plan put together by that one special guru, and b) being strong enough to just FRIGGING DO IT. They think that fat loss has to do with simply being strong-willed enough to just be compliant. And when they are inevitably not compliant, they reinforce the feedback that they suck, are weak or undisciplined. They often use negative self-talk and compare their inability to “just do it” to that of others, not understanding that whenever someone besides you creates a plan FOR YOU, you’ll never be able to do it fully, because it’s not 100% what will work with your unique metabolism personal preferences and psychological sensitivities.

Fat Loss Lifestyler: Understands that no one (including “the best” coaches) can ever know your bodies better than you can. The solution is not out there somewhere hiding. It’s found through looking inward, evaluating how food and exercising specific ways affects your body. Do you get more or less hungry? Do you have more or fewer cravings? Is your energy balanced during the day or do you crash? Does what you eat and how we exercise get us results? Fat Loss Lifestylers take 100% responsibility for everything—actions, attitude, results and outcomes. They know that if they want a forever-solution, it’s on them.

 

Crash Dieter: Sees a point at which they can stop doing the diet. There’s an end point or a goal in sight—like a race, or fitness competition, or photo shoot or vacation. Because they see eating this way, they hunker down and white-knuckle their way through a super-strict plan, only to completely drain willpower and deprive to the point that the only eventual solution becomes binging. This is the beginning of the deprive-then-binge cycle.

Fat Loss Lifestyler: Realizes that the “best” diet will be the one that never ends. They are constantly asking themselves, “Could I see myself still eating like this next year? In 10 years? Forever?” Their first criteria is sustainability, because they know once they have something that balances hunger, energy and cravings, they can always adjust slowly to get the results they seek. Which brings me to the next difference…

 

Crash Dieter: Attaches a deadline by which they must see results or else they chalk up the program to being “another failure” and start searching for the next one they’ll try. Crash dieters are often searching for programs rather than putting in the time to actually work them. They give it a go 100%, then exhaust every bit of willpower trying to maintain total compliance, only to inevitably fall off the wagon. They say things like, “I need to lose 20 lbs by April,” or “I’ll lose 60 lbs this year!” or “2014 will be MY year!” And I hope it is :) But my question then becomes, what do you do when you don’t lose that 20 by April? Or come next New Years, you’re only down 10? Crash dieters throw in the towel way, waaaaaaaaay to early in the fat loss game.

Fat Loss Lifestyler: They’re in it for the long haul. They have zero expectations of when things will happen and they understand that in the fat loss game, there are no guaranteed outcomes. In fact, they don’t focus on outcomes at all; they instead focus on ACTIONS. Because they understand that daily actions taken over time leads to desired outcomes. They see fat loss as a spectrum. The more smart choices they make, the more they move up the spectrum toward fat loss. The more poor choices they make, the more they move down the spectrum toward fat gain. Thus, it’s about actions, not outcomes. Fat Loss Lifestylers realize that they are never “on” or “off” a program. They are just “onf.” They know that every meal is another chance to get right back into fat-burning mode and they jump right back in immediately.

Only unsuccessful people wait until Monday.

Bottom line, people who are living a healthy lifestyle realize that the best “diet” for them is the one they can do forever, that they created as a result of time, practice, introspection and understanding their own bodies, and they don’t give up when the going gets tough.

Fat Loss Lifestylers weather the ups and downs of the process. They surf the urges. They build resiliency.

Fat Loss Lifestylers understand that fat loss is not linear nor predicatble, and they don’t beat themselves up when they mess up here and there. They stay 90% clean 100% of the time and never expect perfection.

How do you transition from a crash dieter to a Fat Loss Lifestyler? You start with an education. In you. You start looking inward with the guidance (not crutch!) of a knowledgeable coach or program. You start learning about your own tendencies, preferences, metabolism. You take the time to really dig in. Own the process, not blindly follow some random protocol.

Because we know what the alternatives are (review the list of them above). And if you still think those will work, then be my guest.

But! If you’re ready to start down a new path, then consider my 4 Week Fat Loss Jump Start, which begins Monday January 6th. This program is the start of you living a lean lifestyle. This program is an education. It’s a nudge to start owning YOUR process. And I’m there with you every step of the way for four weeks, helping you stand on your own, understand your body, give you feedback and guidance. But not doing it for you. I can’t. No one can. But if you take the risk to try a new way, then at the end of 4 weeks, you’ll have the tools and insights you need to keep going in the Forever Fat Loss Lifestyle :)

We’ve worked with thousands of women in this program. And the successes are many:

Testimonial14week14week24week34week44week5And many, many more :)

All the details for the 4 Week are here. Questions? Email me! Looking forward to working with you! Ox, Jill

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/29/best-diet/

However You Eat Regularly Is Exactly What You Get Good At

This is Part 2 in the weight regain series. Go here to read Part 1: How It Feels to Regain Weight You’ve Lost

The title of this blog may fall into the category of, “No duh,” but I explain in detail the nuance of the argument below. But first…

A little story …

I received an email last week from a woman telling me about her plans to compete in her first figure competition in three months. She’s 45 years old, in great shape, lean, with a good amount of muscle at around 15% body fat. Amazing, right? She weight trains heavy multiple times per week and eats very clean, with the exception of a glass of wine or two on the weekends. NBD.

However, she wrote to ask my opinion on something her competition coach told her. He sent her her competition meal plan last week and told her, “Don’t start this until January 1st.” She reviewed the meal plan and wrote him back saying that the plan was 99% how she ate already. Effortlessly. It was just the way she’s practiced over months and years and it was now just “what she ate.” NBD.

Her coach wrote her back and told her, “Oh, really? Well, make sure you indulge and eat anything you want between now and January 1st so that your body responds to the competition diet once you start it.”

Understandably, she was thrown. And emailed me to ask my thoughts on it. “Eat everything I want? WHY would I do that? Eating everything I want makes me feel gross and heavy and unhealthy and I’m even to the point that I don’t crave that stuff anymore. And why would I voluntarily gain weight? Does this make any sense? What should I do?”

Crash Dieting vs. Living a Fat Loss Lifestyle

So, is there any truth to what the trainer said? Actually, from a biochemical standpoint, yes. We can argue that a little indulgence will reset leptin levels and studies have even shown that the body likes change when it comes to nutrition and that it can adapt as a result of eating the same foods day in a day out.

But. Buuuuuuut, what about the other consequences of dieting? Losing and gaining weight is not a benign experience. The body is not just a machine where you take in X number of cals and get a very specific result of weight gain or loss.

The more you gain and lose weight over and over, the less responsive your metabolism gets AND … how about your mind? Mentally, eating a bunch of sugar, especially when you’re not used to it, affects the brain on a chemical level. And the taste of sweet, for many people, is a slippery slope. Not to mention the body esteem issues that can develop as a result of crash dieting. The physique becomes the primary attribute of self-worth. It’s a dangerous place to me, mentally and physically.

So what do you think? Should we take a woman who is effortlessly maintaining her leanness and tell her to overindulge just so that a diet will work better later?

Sounds silly, right? Saying it like that? And please know that this is not to point out stupidity on the part of the trainer or the client. Or to make fun of the situation because shit, crash dieting and mental challenges are anything but funny. It’s simply to point out the difference in mindset between that of crash dieting (which 99% of competition prep diets are) and living a lean lifestyle effortlessly.

The point I want to make with the story is this: for all intents and purposes, this client was already lean, healthy and fit eating clean with zero effort. So her coach reasoned that in order for her body to actually respond, she’d have to start eating junk so that when she went back to *her* usual eating that her body would respond further.

But how about instead of “pushing it to respond,” we just stay the course, take our time, work the process we’re already in and make small adjustments over the long haul?

Why mess with it? She’s basically already achieved the holy grail of what we all want, right?

habits

How to eat for leanness with little effort

Finally, we come to the point of this post, ha! You’re probably already confused about the title of this article.

Let me clear it up.

But first. You’ve probably heard of The Law of Attraction, and you’ve probably read the international bestseller, ‘The Secret’. The idea behind the Law of Attraction is that wherever we spend our mental energy or focus is where we experience results. Without taking us all the way down the esoteric rabbit hole, the premise is simply: what you think about is what you tend to act on, which leads to outcomes related to those thoughts. It’s not magic and really, the idea of attracting into your life the very things that you want was popular even in the depression era, when Napoleon Hill wrote this classic ‘Think and Grow Rich.’

Bottom line–what you think about is what you end up doing, and doing leads to practicing and practicing leads to mastery. Like learning to play an instrument–you practice and over time, you get better. A + B = C.

However we eat regularly–whether consciously or unconsciously–is exactly what we get good at doing. Whatever we practice is what we get amazing at. It becomes effortless precisely because it’s what’s been practiced.

With every day and with every meal, you are reinforcing that meal or that day. Three days in a row of drinking wine after work? It is now getting easier to drink wine after work.

Are you someone who does the weekly deprive-then-binge cycle? You know, Monday through Thursday is flawless and Friday through Sunday is a blow-out? When you do this week after week, you are actually getting GOOD at this. BETTER at this. You’re becoming a pro at this.

Ugh. How depressing!

And yet, how empowering …?

Personally, I think this is good news. Because it also means that I have somewhere to go, some action to take, a way to change my outcomes. I am not a victim of my habits. I can choose to implement new ones and work hard to make them stick.

See, when I was competing, I had a specific “on season” paired with a “bulking season” in which I was supposedly gaining muscle, but really it was a green light to eat with abandon. I trained myself to have periods of deprivation, followed by periods of binging. I got really good at count downs and planning my show schedule because I needed another show in my sights as a goal to motivate me to get lean again. There was always a deadline at which point I’d have to inevitably stop eating crap so I knew I’d better EAT ALL THE FOOD RIGHT NOW because come contest prep time, that stuff was off-limits. There would always be another show I could get down for. And even then, I had a harder and harder time coming in as lean as I had previously. I had to do more cardio or cut carbs more to achieve the same look. I got really good at metabolic compensation. And mentally, it was a roller coaster.

Have a courage to CHOOSE to TRY a new way

The turnaround for me came after a 6-month period of time where I was dieting constantly for shows and a number of photo shoots. By the time I reached the last shoot I had on my calendar, I was fried. Physically exhausted, miserable, cravings through the roof, mentally feeling like I could never ease up on my exercise for fear of blowing up.

So one Sunday when I was staring down my usual routine–go to the grocery store, buy the same old disgusting food, prep it as fast a possible, throw it in Tupperwares for the week and then cry (Just kidding! But sometimes I wanted to! :)). I was so stressed just thinking about the routine that I just said, Fuck it. Not doing it this week.

But I was terrified! Because what if I turned into a whale?? What would happen if I didn’t have “my food” prepped and ready? Surely I’d binge like crazy! Surely I’d lose all control, right?!

Something funny happened in that week, though. I experienced the beginnings of SELF-trust. I experienced the very first bit of food awareness. I paid just the tiniest bit of attention to things like hunger and cravings. And miraculously, I DID NOT GAIN. Was I perfect? Nope. Not by a long stretch, but the small amount of consciousness I paid to my urges paid off. I didn’t have food prepped and ready, so I had to learn how to wing it and make the best choice possible wherever I ended up. Things like, “I know it’s been 3 hours but … am I hungry? No, not really. So I won’t eat right now. But I might be hungry in an hour and at that point, I can have this protein bar or make some eggs real quick.” NBD.

Over time, I learned how to eat healthy on the fly and tuned into my body’s signals instead of EITHER eating on a strict schedule OR eating with abandon. In short, I started PRACTICING a more moderate approach. An approach that I would never have even considered had I not been forced into it out of sheer misery of doing things the old way.

So, I did finally try a new way.

And so can you.

Because how you eat day after day is what you become good at. It’s what becomes effortless.

If week after week, month after month you practice the all-or-nothing 100% clean OR bingeing approach, you will get damn good at it! And unless you find the will to YANK YOURSELF out of it using a new approach, you’ll get even better at it and it’ll keep on, year after year. Like Tony Robbins says, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Can’t generate a new outcome using the same old crash dieting tactics.

Another example. If you beat yourself up using negative self-talk and have an “I suck, I’m weak and undisciplined” attitude, then guess what? You’ll get exactly that. In essence, you’re CREATING the very thing you say you don’t want because your attitude is such that you already expect it. Remember The Law of Attraction? You get amazing at what you practice. So choose your practices carefully.

When you see someone who is able to stay lean year-round and makes it look effortless, that’s not by accident. They’ve practiced and practiced and practiced to the point that it actually became effortless.

Someone on Instagram asked me the other day how I “manage to stop at eating at a third of a protein bar” (moderation). Easy. I practice that shit. In fact, I am so practiced at moderation that if someone asked me to go on a competition diet right now, I simply couldn’t do it. I’m too practiced at the middle road. But I certainly wasn’t when I first started out. I WORKED THE MIDDLE ROAD. And that work paid off.

WHATEVER YOU PRACTICE IS WHAT YOU BECOME PHENOMENAL AT. The good, the bad or the ugly.

And oftentimes, we don’t even consciously choose what practices we’re improving! So, time to try a new way. Time to actively choose where you go with your physique and lifestyle. Ask yourself, How am I TEACHING MYSELF to eat? What kind of eating do I practice on a daily basis? And if it’s not getting me results, can I make a different choice and practice a new way?

Let 2014 be the year you take a chance on a new way. Because the old way? The black-and-white way? The crash-dieting-up-and-down way? We know for sure it doesn’t work. All-or-nothing always ends up being nothing.

 

Are you ready to try a new way? A lifestyle approach? My 4 Week Fat Loss Jump Start begins Monday January 6th. It takes you through the process of finding your own unique fat loss formula, something you can do forever and finally quit the crash dieting cycle. Because implementation has to do with mindset, sustainability and the courage to try a new way. Practice makes progress! Looking forward to working with you! :) Ox, Jill 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/26/practice/

How It Feels to Regain Weight After You’ve Lost

Several things happened recently that spurred me to write this post:

First, I was recently speaking at a conference for women about fat loss nutrition, and the woman who hired me told me they brought a former contestant from The Biggest Loser to the conference to speak last year. They said that when she stepped off the plane, she was unrecognizable. She’d gained back all of her weight, plus more. This pulls at my heart strings because though I’m all about personal responsibility, sustainable weight loss is effing hard, and using the practices they do on The Biggest Loser not only did her a disservice, but it was straight up irresponsible. The poor girl had no prayer of keeping it off. We know this now.

Second, I got some feedback from some of my fat loss clients that it can feel scary and intimidating to post on Facebook when you’re not as “in shape” as other people posting, in a closed group for example. I think by nature, as women, we tend to judge ourselves too harshly and also compare ourselves to others, so I get that. My personal mission is for every women to feel worthy, amazing and confident RIGHT NOW. Not 10 lbs from now. Not when they get up on stage. Not when they have striated shudders or a six-pack. I want women to own their unique awesomeness right this second. We’ve already spent too much time doubting.

And third, I’ve recently been on a bit of a tear about worthiness and taking action. In fact, I’m passionate–bordering on angry–about how many talented, smart and driven women I see who are not realizing their full potential because of self-doubt about their bodies, leanness or the fact that they don’t have a six-pack.

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And so. I wanted to share my own story of weight regain as candidly as possible. I’m sure many of you can relate, and I am personally tired of complaining about it, and so in Part 2 of this post, I’m going to put forth the action steps I used over the last few years to finally stabilize at a “lean enough” weight, all the while doing so effortlessly. My journey was not only a physical one, but a deeply emotional one. In time, I learned to get over myself too :)

Getting Up On Stage: Lotsa Physique Affirmation

Prior to prepping for my first figure competition in 2006, I barely thought about food. In fact, I pretty much worked out like crazy so that I could eat whatever I wanted. Jade likes to tell the story about our first pseudo-date when we went to breakfast and I ordered an enormous stack of pancakes. It’s just “what I ordered”–I had zero knowledge nor interest in nutrition. I was in shape, but it was that water-logged, too-much-cardio-eat-all-the-carbs look. I was 160 pounds at 5’7″ and around 18% BF.

Once I started training for my show, I was forced to learn about food and eat for fat loss. Being the procrastinator I am, I regularly cheated throughout the process until 4 weeks out when my coach told me I still had a long way to go. Out of sheer terror of embarrassment, I immediately upped my cardio to 2 hours a day, cut all starch out of my diet and ate lean protein and veggies only. I dropped probably 15 lbs in 4 weeks for the show and eventually competed at 142 lbs and 12% BF.

Something really interesting and unexpected happened the smaller and smaller I got.

All of a sudden, I was getting a lot more attention and affirmation at the gym, from my family, from friends and even from strangers. My muscles were popping, and being that it was tank top weather, my delts and arms were drawing attention, my clothes fitting effortlessly.  People were commenting almost daily about “how good I looked” and asked what I was doing. People were constantly asking when my show was? Was I excited? How did I feel?

Whoa. All of a sudden, I’m getting a lot of compliments, and man, it feels good. I mean, really good. I’m worth noticing. I’m relevant. I’m someone.

This all sounds so silly, embarrassing and self-centered to say out loud, and at the time, I certainly didn’t feel this on a conscious level. Only now, looking back, can I see that’s what was going on.

I won my show, displayed my trophy proudly at the desk at my local gym along with my competition shots and felt on top of the world.

For one day.

But being solely focused on that one date–June 4th, 2006–I didn’t even THINK about after the show. I didn’t have a plan, I just dropped 2 dress sizes, 20 lbs and thought, hey, look at my new body! I’m transformed! I’m good to go now!

I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me to actually continue watching what I ate after the show. It didn’t even cross my mind that shoveling sugar down my throat for a week straight might affect my “new body.” I guess I just thought, once you arrive at a weight, you can go back to eating the way you were before and nothing will change.

Riiiiight.

Post-Competition Blues – What am I now, chopped liver?

Well, that was my first experience with crash dieting and weight re-gain. And by Thursday after the show, I didn’t even recognize my body. I was swollen in my abdomen and thighs, retaining water like crazy to the point that it actually felt like a bruise from head to toe. I remember jabbing a finger into my saddle-bag area and practically crying at how much water I was holding and the fact that in mere days I had already started re-gaining fat again at a rapid pace. My body was a sponge and I was completely flabbergasted by the experience.

“How come no one told me this could happen??!”

“How come no one talks about this? I’ve never read about this in Oxygen magazine!”

“Am I the only person this happens to??”

Cue the guilt, the shame and the embarrassment.

Heading into the gym a mere week after my show and, where are the compliments? Where’s the attention? What am I, chopped liver?

Fuck.

I blew it. I suck. This sucks. I feel helpless. Alone. Like a failure.

Putting on pants sucked. Day after day, fewer clothes fit. I felt stuffed into my clothes, whereas just weeks before things were hanging off me. So I started wearing baggy jeans and Mens’ Hanes white V-neck t-shirts out in public. I was embarrassed to be seen. Besides, my social media pages were littered with images of me lean, in a bikini, “in shape” and 20 lbs less than I am now. I’d see people and (somewhat self-importantly) think they’re judging me, looking at me like a fat failure. Someone who has no willpower. Someone weak and undisciplined. Even when I just exercised more discipline in 12 weeks than most people do their entire lives (at least when it comes to nutrition).

What should I do???

I just need to do another show!! That’s the solution. I need to get all that attention back. I need to not be invisible. I need to feel validated and powerful. I need control!! I need that routine, that regimen, that schedule that kept me on point. That kept me thin and affirmed.

And of course, that’s what I did for the next 3 years, show after show, losing and gaining the same 20 pounds back and forth. I was either “on” a contest diet, strict as hell, or I was completely “off” eating whatever I wanted in any amount I wanted.

Obviously this is not recommended. It’s not healthy physically and it’s certainly not healthy mentally. My physique become the sole attributor to my self-worth. If I was lean, I was “good Jill.” If I was off plan, I was “sloppy, fat, undisciplined Jill.”

And it was a prison where I only felt worthy if I was in “show shape.” And the highs were the best! I was on top of the world, clothes zipping right up, photo shoot after photo shoot. But the lows sucked. I felt small, fat and insignificant.

And this is how weight re-gain feels

Besides the physical discomfort, the emotional roller coaster is crippling. I feel for that Biggest Loser contestant. I feel for the millions of women who will yo-yo diet this year. I feel for my old self who didn’t know what to do and didn’t have the tools or the self-trust to try a new way. And I feel for you if you are still in this place.

But let’s face it. My experience is not even close to how bad this can be. Twenty pounds is nothing compared to people who have lost dozens, hundreds and put it back on. I feel for them. This shit sucks.

BUT, the good news is that there’s always a way out. There’s always a solution, if you’re willing to do the work to find it and implement it.

This is probably one of my most personal and vulnerable posts ever. Having just re-read this post, I can see that I wrote much of my inner dialogue that I’ve never uttered out loud even to Jade. And much of it happened subconsciously. At the time, I didn’t understand it as fully as I do now.

And of course it’s still a bit embarrassing :) but I have no regrets. Because my journey helped me arrive to the place I am now—balanced, moderate, happy and confident. I’ve gained much experience, insight and the ability to empathize. Though much of it was painful, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Check back soon for Part 2: How You Eat Is Exactly What You Get Good At. And leave a comment on the JillFit Facebook page with your own experience. I’d love to hear from you.

I’m going to be launching a Contest Rehab Program in 2014–touching upon both the physical and emotional challenges of the competition process for those who are ready to start living a balanced, powerful life after competition. If you’re interested in receiving updates about the program, please enter your name and email below.  Ox, Jill

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/09/weight-regain/

Who Has “The Right” to Do Something? Easy. The One Doing It.

“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” –Doris Lessing

There’s a lot of talk about worthiness in the fitness industry among professionals: who’s got the “right” credentials, who should do what (and who shouldn’t), how deep someone’s understanding is of “the science” and how so-and-so isn’t lean enough to be dishing out advice or putting stuff out there.

Frankly, I think it’s BS.

Who has “the right” to do something? Easy. The one who’s passionate and the one who’s actually taking action to do it. That’s it.

I work with dozens of women in my annual Best of You Coaching Mentorship who have so much to offer clients and customers–years working with women one-on-one or in the gym setting; credentials; numerous certifications and degrees, not to mention a wealth of personal experiences and insights. And yet many of them still wonder, Am I qualified to do this? Can I be a coach? Should I put out content? Who am I to write a blog? What do I have to offer? What if someone calls me out on “the science” and I don’t know the answer and get internet-shamed? What if people hate on me? What if someone calls me too fat or too out-of-shape to dish out nutrition advice? What about these last 10 lbs I still need to lose?

And on and on. Questioning, stressing, stalling, wondering, hesitating.

On Criticism

And why wouldn’t they stress? Haters and trolls are everywhere, spouting negativity, and it’s easier than ever for people to sit behind their computer and critique anonymously. Besides, Paul Chek says fitness pros should be able to give their lectures with no shirt on and Charles Poliquin has every single participant—male and female—take their shirt off to get their body fat % done at his Biosignature trainings. Gah!

Potentially scary stuff. And I can relate. Buuuuuut … the alternative is staying small and scared and ultimately not doing anything.

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” –Elbert Hubbard

I remember feeling like a fraud early on when I was coaching competitors and thinking in order to coach them I needed to be in competition shape too. Or, I wondered if I showed up to a conference to speak and wasn’t 12% body fat, would people think me less credible? My girl Molly Galbraith touched upon this recently and I loved it.

And the answer is … maybe. Maybe yes, some people might find it inappropriate to be dishing out fitness advice at anything less than “competition shape,” or sans six-pack. But for those people, sorry, but they’re not my customer. If they don’t appreciate the unique insight, novel advice and years of experience I bring to the table, then they shouldn’t work with me. They should find someone who is “in show shape” and do their program. Great, bye.

But the interesting thing is this. Your body fat % says very little about how qualified you are to teach. I know women who are sub-10% body fat who are inarticulate, body-obsessed, painfully insecure and have zero conviction. In fact, when I was in competition shape, I was so obsessed with my own physique, that I had little mental energy to give to my clients!

And on the other hand, I know dozens of women who are knowledgeable, unapologetically confident and absolute difference-makers who own their 20%+ body fat.

Your ability to teach and impact others depends on your passion, your conviction and your ability to get results. Period.

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I get heated about this topic because I talk to women all the time who doubt themselves. They doubt their ability to make a difference. They second-guess their knowledge, they stress about their physiques not being lean enough. They worry about what people will think.

I get it, I do. But I also hate it.

Because my mission and my message is for women to own their power, see that anything is possible and with passion and purpose, they can make a change–for themselves and for their clients and customers. My mentor Rachel Cosgrove says, “You only need to be one step ahead of the people you’re coaching.” And I agree. Every person we meet can teach us something. And likewise, there’s always going to be something for you to teach, too.

THAT is the definition of a possibility thinker. Someone who says, “Fuck deserving. I’m doing this no matter what. I was born to do this.” :)

Blame Coaches or Take Responsibility?

The biggest opposition arises when people say, well, so-and-so shouldn’t be blogging or talking about what they don’t know about because they could hurt people or do them wrong by dispensing advice.

And I get that. I don’t want to see clients done wrong or taken advantage of either. And unfortunately it does happen.

But, baring some of the more extreme medical cases, rebound weight gain and overtraining, etc are part of the learning process. I certainly don’t advocate it and I don’t want women going through it (in fact, the entire JillFit blog is dedicated to educating women about the dangers of crash dieting, including the emotional and physical implications. Any of course, my husband works with metabolic damage day in and day out).

But despite the years of yo-yo dieting I did, I don’t have any regrets. Yes, I learned the hard way and many women who work with competition coaches learn the hard way (often very hard), but I’m grateful for every aspect of my experience–good and bad–because it got me here. It helped me reach a place of greater insight, knowledge and empathy.

But here’s something to remember … clients and customers are adults. They can and should take 100% responsibility for their choice to work with a specific coach or expert.

We see this a lot in the competition world. Girls who want to do shows hire a coach. They get up on stage in the best shape of their life, accomplishing something that very few people can follow through with, and then … they don’t place. Or they rebound thirty pounds in mere weeks. These outcomes suck. Of course they do. But they are still your outcomes and if you don’t take responsibility for them, all you’re left with is a feeling of helplessness, betrayal and inadequacy. And I don’t know about you, but I hate those feelings. They characterize the victim mentality. They leave us feeling insignificant, powerless and scared.

Yes, I agree. Rebound weight gain blows. But ultimately doing a competition was my choice. #OwnItAndMoveOn

I remember after my very first figure competition, I gained 15 lbs in a week. I was devastated. All my hard work out the window. I didn’t even recognize my body. I felt depressed, insignificant and powerless. It sucked. And I remember thinking, “How come no one told me this could happen!!?”

Looking back on it now—of course! Of course when you stuff Reese’s cups down your throat for three days straight, your body no likey. Naively, I just assumed I’d, what, stay in show shape despite eating copious amounts of sugar?? I’d lose the weight and would be good to go forever?? Of course I know better now, and it’s even embarrassing to talk about, but at the time, I hated the way I felt and I wanted someone to blame. So I blamed the process. I blamed “people” for not telling me about rebounds. I blamed my trainer for not warning me. Luckily, I won my show so I didn’t have to blame anyone for not placing, but had I not placed, my inner victim would have blamed the judges, my coach and “the politics” for my perceived failure.

Note: Not saying there are not politics sometimes, but to pin our hopes and dreams on a sport that’s subjective is a little insane, no? Not to mention the fact that women who are already self-conscious about their bodies choose to walk around a STAGE in a BIKINI to get their bodies judged. Are we insane?? :) Lol.

But back to taking responsibility…

problems

Outcomes that involve us are our responsibility.

Outcomes that involve us are our responsibility. And we don’t realllllllly like that.

Yes, you followed your coach’s advice and after the show was over, you felt “done wrong” and wanted to blame him or her for leading you astray or not taking care of you. I understand that too. But at some point, don’t you have to just own your choices? Your choice to work with that coach, to follow their advice, to do the show? Because not owning those choices takes away our power. And keeps you in the victim role. It keeps you helpless.

But when we start owning our power again, we can choose where to go next. We can choose a different coach (and then assume responsibility for those outcomes too). We can choose to go it alone if we’ve lost trust in others. We can choose to never do a show again :) We can choose to not feel hurt or slighted or betrayed. And when we can move past those feelings, we’re now free to take action and move forward with a possibility mindset.

You either get this or you don’t. You’re either complaining or taking action.

So ask yourself, Am I still waiting on someone or something to change so that I can take back ownership of my life? Am I still waiting on circumstances to be perfect so I can finally jump? Am I still so scared of messing up that I might as well not even try?

These thoughts are that of a lack mindset. Could you instead practice a possibility mindset? An abundance mindset?

Try these affirmations instead:

  • Not only am I worthy to do this, I have no other choice.
  • I have much to contribute and people need to hear my message
  • I know that the only thing holding me back is my own self-doubt, and self-doubt is a choice. I choose self-trust instead.
  • I’m an expert in my own right—my experience, expertise and insights can help make a difference for people
  • Why NOT me?
  • I have to take action, because the alternative is waiting around for the perfect time, and the time will never be just right
  • I know I’ll mess-up, but I look forward to those challenges because I get to grow and learn as a result

And I’ll leave you with this. Jade and I were talking about this topic last night, and he said, “You’re nothing until you decide you’re something.” I love that. How true is that?

No one is going to call you an expert, and if you’re waiting around for affirmation from others, you’re going to be waiting a long time :)

Own your power. Take action. Mess-up, then grow and get better.

Ready to own your power? The Best of You Coaching Club for 2014 application process is now open, through Wednesday, December 11th only! 13 spots open for this 11-month mindset, body & business mentorship to work up close and person with me next year :) 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/06/action/

7 Tools to Overcome Self-Doubt

With my third annual Best of You Coaching Club Mentorship for 2014 launching this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the more common struggles that women are dealing with, as they relate to mindset, physique and business.

One of the biggest challenges far and away is self-doubt: “Who am I to build this business?” or “Who am I to tell other women how to eat when I can’t even lose these last ten pounds!” and “What if I mess up? I’ll make a fool of myself!” and “No one supports me and they don’t get it. It’s easier to just not even try.”

I get it. I totally do.

In fact, when I first started competing and modeling, I thought my friends and family were going to scoff at it—“Pfft! She thinks she’s a frigging model! Please!” I was worried they were going to see me as self-centered or better than—“Who does she think she is getting up on stage in a bikini or starting a blog? Like she has something to say?!”

Of course, I never heard any of things out loud from anyone—only in my head a million times :)

SelfDoubt

I struggled with doubts the first few years at JIllFit. I wondered how I looked to people, did people (most importantly, my family!) think I was silly for trying to build this business? Or doing something so “out there” or unconventional? I felt a strong pull to fall in line with the usual course of events: college, 9-to-5 “good job,” 401k, marriage and kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s wonderful for those who are drawn to it—but I felt deep down inside that I wanted to touch people outside my close circle. I wanted to make a bigger impact in the world. I had a message I literally felt obligated to get out to the point that I felt I was not only doing a disservice to women who needed it–craved it–but more importantly, I knew I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t at least try.

And try I did. Many times.

And it wasn’t always pretty. My endeavors weren’t always easily accepted by my friends and family (the ones whose affirmation I craved the most). Not everyone “got it” or supported me. And often I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. But for whatever reason, I always forced myself to take action. And the scarier the task, the more I knew I needed to do it, because I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t.

And over time, my doubts turned into confidence.

Here are the 7 tools I used to get there:

1)  Take action.

This is a catch-22, right? In order to move past self-doubt, you need to get some wins, but at the same time, self-doubt is the biggest obstacle to action. So what do you do? For me, I’ve always forced myself to just do it, stop waiting for the time to be right. On some level I trusted myself enough to figure it out along the way. And that self-trust or self-confidence grew the more I just jumped. The fastest way to grow your confidence is to accumulate some small wins that eventually turn into bigger successes. Allow yourself THE CHANCE to have the experience of accomplishment. Experience the the thrill of it. Otherwise, you’ll aways feel paralyzed by doubt and assume that your worst fears will be realized.

Which brings me to #2 …

2) Get brutally honest about your fears.

Name them. Ask, what outcomes am I most afraid of? Take your mind to the worst-case scenario. This is an exercise I use with my coaching gals to help spur action. At first it’s scary, but then it’s empowering when you realize that yeah, that worst case scenario? I can handle it. Would it be fun? No, of course not. But could you handle it and adjust? Absolutely. Name your fears and ask yourself, “Could I handle worst-case scenario? Would I make it through?” I think you’ll find that in every instance, the answer is yes.

One of my favorite tools is Practical Pessimism.

3) Mess up more.

Is this counterintuitive? Yes. Because Jill, why would I want to mess up? I’ll tell you why–because the more blunders you commit, the more OPPORTUNITIES you have to build your resiliency. To get back up and try again. Of course, being resilient is a choice. Many of us will mess up once and then use it to justify our feelings all along: “See? I do suck!” and we’ll throw in the towel. But what if we didn’t? What if instead we used our mess ups and struggles as opportunities to grow and get better? That’s exactly what happens. The more we try, the more mistakes we will certainly make, but ultimately the more wins we’ll accumulate.

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” –Thomas J. Watson

4) Give up need for affirmation & don’t be afraid to disappoint others.

This was a really hard one for me for a lot of years, and something I still struggle with–the need for affirmation and the desire to not let people down. I grew up an overachiever, a perfectionist. And I was always affirmed for my good grades or my athletic talent.

The more positive feedback we get (especially as a child), the more we crave it. That’s normal human stuff. And it’s all well and good … until … well, we become an adult and we are still running around trying to garner affirmation and doing what we think we need to in order to earn love or praise. Running around trying to meet everyone’s expectations for you and trying to control their perception of what you’re doing is a prison. It keeps you small. It keeps you scared. And it ultimately keeps you from doing what you truly desire–what you want to do FOR YOU.

So let them judge. Let them be upset. Let them disapprove. Let them be confused or disappointed. Because those reactions have nothing to do with you. People will do what they do and say what they say. Let them. Do you. Be you. There’s no one better, and there’s certainly no alternative if you want to get to the next level.

5) Give yourself a mental pep talk. Then own that shit.

Oftentimes, we have a running tally in our mind of the many reasons why we should not be the one to do X or Y. We say, “Why me? I’m no one.” or “So-and-so is already doing that, and they’re so much smarter/leaner/better than me. Why bother?”

Sound familiar? We do this constantly. So how about turning that statement around. How about saying instead, “Why NOT me?” or “Why can’t I contribute too?” There’s plenty of money, success and happiness to go around and you already have a unique offering that no one else can match: YOU. Like my girl Liz DiAlto says, “I don’t worry about people stealing my stuff because good luck trying to be me.” <—THIS is the attitude you need to adopt to overcome self-doubt. You have to, on some level, just say, “You know what, “I’m the shit. I have something to offer and people will get better as a result of working with me.” As a coach, you only need to be one step ahead of the people you’re coaching. So own it. Own your expertise, own your experiences. Trust in YOU. This is a mindset issue, hence the mental pep talk :)

In the fitness industry, there’s a lot of talk about who should (or shouldn’t) do what or who knows the science well enough or who’s lean enough to be dispensing advice. Honestly, screw that. Sorry. But, who has “the right” to do something? Simple. The person who is passionate and who is actually DOING IT. That’s all. So, answer me this: why NOT you?

6) Surround yourself with people who “get it” and don’t stress about the ones who don’t.

I love this from Tim Ferris: “It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.” How true is that??

The usual response of people when you do something, anything that’s a little out of the norm or risky is, “Well, that won’t work.” Also known as, haters (ironically, I hate that word :)). The bottom line with haters is to let them be. They don’t contribute, they only criticize. Let them stay skeptical and small. And instead, seek out people who are on your level. Who see the potential like you do. Who see possibilities. Who support you following your dreams. Who are open-minded. Who don’t scoff at big or novel ideas. Surround yourself with people who support you. It’s not to say leave everyone else behind (especially if it’s family and you want to maintain a relationship with them), but just learn to not go to them for the big stuff. Confide in those who are on the same page, and who help pull you up, rather than drag you down.

7) Get a coach who has been there, done that.

In 2011, when I was at the end of my rope with my business and personal life, I knew where I wanted to get to, but didn’t know the first step to take. In order to get myself and my business to the next level, I sought out a coach and hired her. I looked for someone who I admired and looked up to. Someone who was doing what I wanted to do, but doing it a thousand times better. Someone who had the life I wanted, but who had also been in my shoes previously. And honestly, hiring a coach made all the difference. Not only did I get the support and accountability I craved, but I got a consistent message about my mindset. My coach helped me hone my mindset to one of success, rather than fear or lack. And she pushed me “take massive action”–her words. And I did. And I was scared as hell, but it was a game-changer, and it happened within a year.

I’ll never forget on our second coaching call, I was hung up on some small detail and she just said, “Jill, you need to move past this, it’s a tiny thing compared to where you want and need to get. You’re in the big leagues now, it’s time to start acting like a real business.” HOLY shiiiiiiid. Tough love, but boy did I need it! I’ll always be so grateful to my first coach (I’ve had many since and I’ll never be without one because I believe in it so much) for pushing me when I was reluctant and when I was stuck. It’s an enormous gift and one I urge you to seek out if you haven’t.

So, are you ready to take your physique, mindset and business to the next level in 2014? My 11-month Best of You Coaching Club Mentorship is now open for applications. I am taking only 13 women for next year–to work with up and close and personal with me, daily online and even in person throughout the year. Looking for motivated, determined women who want to elevate their game. Are you her? :) I’d love to find out. Application details here (registration closes on Wednesday Dec 11, 2013). 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/02/self-doubt/

Gratitude is a Game-Changer. And Yes, It’s a Choice.

“The antidote for lack is gratitude. Gratitude is a choice, an attitude, an approach towards life.” –John-Roger

In the self-help world, people throw around terms like “gratitude” and “wellbeing” all the time. They sound esoteric. They sound idealistic. And it’s also easy to start numbing yourself to them. So that you’re eventually like, “Yeah, yeah, I get it, be grateful. Blah, blah, blah.”

I kind of hate this.

I hate this because it belittles the concept of gratitude.

It allows us to pass over it, without really practicing it. And practicing gratitude is pivotal. Because the act of being grateful for something, anything can honestly change your entire world, not to mention your day.

Because your perception is your greatest tool.

And your perception is simply one choice away, always.

If how you view the world is not a choice one makes, how do you explain that some people see the world as kind while others see it as hostile? Same world.

We choose in every second how to perceive ourselves, our circumstances, others’ actions and others’ words. And in that perception lies the key to personal freedom and happiness.

Gratitude

Here’s an example.

Say I think that the world is out to get me. People are out for themselves and all they want to do is screw me over. They don’t think of me, they don’t support me and they don’t care about me. They’re always working from an agenda, and I will always be the one to get the short end of the stick.

I bet you know people like this. It’s really common and of course, it’s normal, because we use cues from our past to dictate how we see the world, and often this is done subconsciously. If I see the world this way, chances are I’ve gotten “screwed” in the past, been let down a lot and am generally unhappy with my lot in life.

The issues with this perspective is that when we perceive the world this way:

  1. We cannot feel gratitude for anyone or anything because we always feel like people are acting from an agenda and they are trying to pull the wool over our heads. And…
  2. We can never feel love, connection or support from others because we’re always assuming that anything anyone does has to be out of self-interest and personal gain.

This perception is a choice.

An alternative viewpoint…

We could just as easily listen to people words and accept them. We could choose to not make assumptions. We could release the thought that we “know better” or that we “see what they’re doing.” We could choose to take people at their word, rather than trying to decipher hidden meaning and uncover secret self-serving schemes.

When we see people and circumstances in this way (perception), can you see that the world will be a much kinder place?

And when we perceive a kind world, it makes it a thousand times easier to be grateful.

And gratitude changes the score. In fact, it takes the score cards away completely. Gratitude is genuine. It’s honest. It’s selfless.

Gratitude it turns what we have into enough.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/11/28/choose-gratitude/

Food Anxiety and How to Deal with Stress Eating

My mom has always been thin. She was never a huge exerciser, and I never recall her dieting. And honestly, looking back, I can’t remember her even thinking about food all that much. Sure, she has a sweet tooth that I inherited :) but overall, my whole life, she’s seemed to pay very little attention to food.

How … implausible.

I remember one time, when I was deep in my competition lifestyle and went home for a week to visit, I spent all day every day working out and prepping my food, only to eat 6 times a day straight out of Tupperware. My mom said to me (with love), “Jill, if you didn’t work out so much, you probably wouldn’t need to be eating constantly.”

At the time, I scoffed. This was my lifestyle–she just didn’t get it. I eat, I train, I eat, I train, zzzzzzzzz … and I also have no life. Little did I know that she’s the one who had it figured out all along.

Looking back, it would’ve been nice to not have my life controlled by exercise and food. It would’ve been nice to NOT be obsessed with eating constantly.

But I guess you get the lessons you need at the exact right time you need them. At that time, I didn’t have the perspective and I wasn’t conscious of the amount of mental stress and energy I dedicated to food and exercise.

ANYWHO.

I wrote in my last post about food FOMO and how we can become obsessed with “missing out” on food experiences. The desire to have every single thing for fear of never having it again can keep us struggling.

In the post, I revealed the many embarrassing ways that I’ve been obsessed and anxious over food my entire life. Feeling starving as a child, indulging in ridiculous sweets and treats as a teen and then getting anxious about there not being enough food as an adult. To the point of actually crying when Jade tried to take my Reese’s Pieces one time. I’m insane!!

And yet many of you said the post resonated with you strongly–to the point that you thought I was “in your head.”

Food anxiety and stress eating are rarely talked about. Because, let’s face it, we feel shameful about them. And we think we’re alone in the struggle.

But if the response I got from last week’s post is any indication, we are far from alone.

Often, we don’t even realize its going on because it’s just our modus operandi. Wherever we go, we get excited at the potential for amazing, once-in-a-lifetime food indulgences and are constantly worrying about, is there going to be ENOUGH OF EVERYTHING?? Hell, I’m worried I won’t have enough wine for tonight! :)

The thing to realize about food anxiety is that is stems from a fear of not being able to get the “hit” we need from food, for whatever purpose we need it.

Clients ask me about how to stop “stress eating” all the time. Same thing. We stress-eat because we feel that eating to our heart’s desire in some way calms us. It soothes us. It’s comfort. It’s relaxation. It’s what we do for fun.

But the joke is on us. Because in the end, the “fun” of food ends up being not all that fun.

It’s a brain chemistry issue.

You may have heard of the brain chemical dopamine. It’s a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for things like boosting mood, pleasure, motivation, compulsion, competitiveness, drive, etc. It controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. When we get a “dopamine hit”–we feel reward. Dopamine is released in activities such as eating, having sex, working out, recreational drug use, even getting affirmation from others, etc. It makes us feel good, and then it reinforces those behaviors by keeping us wanting to do whatever we need to in order to experience that pleasure again.

Hence the term “dopamine hit.” It can become addicting.

The problem with dopamine release is that we achieve it more fully when engaging in pleasure-seeking behaviors, often the same ones that prioritize instant gratification over long-term success. E.g. eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. And the more we push the dopamine button, the more those pathways become less and less responsive. And we end up needing more in order to achieve the same effect. This might explain why, for example, you used to feel satisfied with a couple of Oreos, and now you need to eat an entire roll. And not to go too off-topic, but this is the same reason that watching too much porn may make someone less able to get excited during actual sex.

This is also why people say eating sweets is “a slippery slope”–the more we have, the more we want. And people who have given them up for a period of time cite not really feeling any compulsion to eat them.

Part of breaking this dopamine cycle is to start re-sensitizing yourself to those sensations by waning yourself from them. Of course, easier said than done, right? The fastest way to stop going down the dopamine rabbit hole is to pull back on the behaviors that reinforce it.

So is the answer to simply stop eating sweets? Ideally, yes. But is it practical? Probably not. The idea that you’re never going to eat sugar again is a little short-sighted and inconceivable. So what I recommend to get around it is practice ‘controlled cheating’. And yes, it’s certainly a practice. You don’t just get it. You need to work it. 

Also, certain foods help boost dopamine naturally, including what we use at Metabolic Effect. The ME Coaoa Drink: 1-2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder (i.e. baking cocoa) mixed with hot water and a few drops of stevia to create a “fake hot chocolate.” In addition to boosting dopamine naturally, this takes the edge of cravings and keeps your mouth occupied for an hour :)

More on brain chemistry and cravings here

It’s a routine issue.

In Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit, he explores the habit loop: cue–>routine–>reward.

Often, our desire for food stems from practiced indulgence, i.e. HABITS borne out of routine. And by definition, habits are effortless. They are the path of least resistance. So of course you will do them without thinking.

I am sure if you think about it, a lot of your behaviors around eating stem from a routine you’ve established in your schedule.

Friday nights represent “relaxing” with wine. Sunday nights represent a big, fun family dinner. Wednesday nights represent a mid-week “treat” at Happy Hour, etc. We are always using food as a reward: “Congratulations, you made it through another draining week at work! Here, have a whole bottle of wine!” :)

I’m certainly not judging at all, considering this was my absolute M.O. for years.

For example, years ago, I used to *need* a sweet every day around 2-3pm when I was working my 9-to-5, as if it was my reward for getting through another day. The cue was the time of day (down-time at the office), the routine was this elaborate walk from my office to the complete other side of the building where there was bulk candy set up–I’d get my bag, fill up with the favorite “usual” goodies, then walk back to my desk. And then the reward–the satisfaction of the sweet and the completion of my routine.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Once you identify YOUR cue, think about how you can change it.

Here’s how I did it: Another example. I used to have a habit loop that revolved around nightly sugar-free frozen yogurt. The cue was my drive home and the fact that it as at the end of a long day of training clients. The routine was driving to the fro-yo place (which has a drive-thru! How easy can it be?!) and seeing what the SF flavor of the day was and seeing the usual people working (…lol, this is getting hilarious as I write it…) and then drive home to “relax” with fro-yo (the reward).

To break this loop, I started changing my routine in certain ways. I wouldn’t come home the same way, or I would go to Starbucks to work and get a huge, hot green tea instead of going right home, or I would make a deal with myself, that I could have fro-yo only after I abstained for 3 nights in a row. All worked, and I hardly ever get it anymore.

Think about how you might change your routine so as to break your loop.

It’s a band-aid issue.

The bottom line is that eating for a reward or eating because you are bored or eating because you need a feel-good “hit” are all ways we’re covering up a larger issue.

And though it’s certainly common, stuffing our faces to deal with stress, anxiety or unhappiness doesn’t serve us. We think comfort food is relaxing, when in reality, we end up more UNcomfortable in the end, don’t we?

So the key here is to examine what else is going on:

Are you eating because you’re bored? If so, find something to do in the evenings (here are 32 ideas). Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby.

Are you eating because you’re emotionally stressed or unhappy? This is super-common. We eat to feel better about ourselves, but in the end, it only makes us feel worse. Find other ways to boost your self-esteem, like hitting the gym, trying a yoga class or starting a blog where you can express yourself freely.

You’ll also want to examine the source of the stress–job, relationship, finances, family, etc. Delving into this stuff is anything but easy, and it takes time. But part of it begins with discovering your purpose and passion. If you don’t know what you love or don’t feel like what you do matters, then of course you feel helpless. So of course you’ll binge. Because who cares? In the bottom of your heart, you know the truth. Only one person can really care enough to make the choice to change, and that’s you :)

Waiting for others to change or be different so that you can be happy is a trap. It’s a trap that immobilizes you, where you get to stay the victim of circumstances and never have to do the work TO MAKE YOURSELF happy. People will always do what they do. Once you realize that, you can finally start taking one small step at a time to realize your own personal freedom and happiness (Could seriously write an entire blog on just this concept, so I apologize for the tangent :)).

Are you eating because you are legitimately stressed, physiologically? Your body no likey. Ways in which your BODY might be stressed (causing you to overeat), when in your mind you don’t feel stressed: too much long-duration cardio, too low carb or too low carl, sleep deprivation, waiting too long to eat between meals or fasting, too much dietary deprivation, low leptin (as a result of low cal/carb dieting for long periods of time), not paying attention to stress-reducing behaviors, overtraining. Could your body be stressed, but your mind not feel it? Your stress response is the same whether it comes from the body or the mind, and the result is increased hunger and cravings.

The solution is to focus on stress-reducation activities, prioritize sleep and eat more frequently, and maybe even bump carbs or cals.

Think of food anxiety on a spectrum.

Food anxiety is a spectrum where the extremes represent the highest stress–complete deprivation or eating everything you want. Neither one of those scenarios are relaxing. Even though we think eating to our heart’s desire is relaxing, in the end, it’s really not. Because now we have the guilt, remorse and physical discomfort on top of it. No thanks.

The middle point on the spectrum is the least stressful. The moderate place. The balanced place. The place my mom lives, and what I’ve been working toward the last 3 years.

This morning, I had my first meal at 11am, and it was 4 slices of bacon, about 15 asparagus spears and a Blood Mary. #sorrynotsorry Is this the healthiest thing on earth? No. Will it have me losing fat left and right? Nope. But honestly, it was completely satisfying and not the worst thing on earth. I don’t drink booze for breakfast all the time :) But when I do, it’s on vacation in the mountains, ha! But … I feel great. No stress. No worries. No added pounds. No desire to go back and eat more, drink more, indulge more.

My personal approach to nutrition now is to find that moderate, middle place and then practice it. Never eating everything I want, but also never feeling completely deprived. This is a practice that took me three years to hone to the point of effortlessness. I’m not getting lean round-the-clock, but I maintain my weight with very little mental energy. My physique is essentially automated at this point. Not perfect. But not stressful in the least. In fact, like my mom, I rarely think about food.

Could you try to find that middle place on the food anxiety spectrum? Not deprived, but not eating with abandon either?

It takes conscious effort, practice and time. But the reward is never feeling the need to bury your head in a package of Oreos again. Never feeling the complete compulsion to eat everything in sight. Never feeling like you have to drown your feelings in food. Because you don’t ever allow yourself to get to that point of deprivation in the first place.

Give it a whirl, and report back. One foot in front of the other, strapping in for the long haul and accumulating small wins over time that eventually add up to big successes. It takes courage to try a new way. But it’s time to admit that the old way is not working. Let me know how you do! Ox, Jill

Related: 7 Things Dieters Do That Lean People Don’t

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/11/21/food-anxiety-stress-eating/

Do You Have FOMO Around Food?

I have a clear memory of being 5 years old, at my babysitter, Mrs. Kelly’s house and being given a dixie cup with cereal in it as my afternoon snack. There were a few other kids my age who got the same, and I honestly remember–even at that age–looking at the other kids wondering if they felt as I did, that “this can’t possibly be all we get?? How are they are not still starving??”

It’s funny, when I started thinking about the topic of food anxiety, I noticed that my entire life has been dotted with similar experiences:

  • In high school, my best friend Sally and I going to the local 7-Eleven and picking up candy, only to back-track and ALSO get a salty snack because everyone knows you need to have the taste of salt after a sweet, and then another sweet after salty, and back and forth, of course.
  • Choosing candy items based on how long they took to eat. I would NEVER get Reese’s Cups because pfffft, there are ONLY TWO of them! How … unsatisfying? And over too quickly!
  • After college, when I was teaching a bazillion fitness classes every week and doing 2+ hours of cardio I day, I exercised so that I could eat whatever I wanted (even though the “look” I was carrying at the time was a water-logged cardio one), and one thing I would always do would be to get bagels on Saturday morning. I would get a sausage, egg and cheese on a plain bagel. BUT–what if one bagel is not enough and I’m still hungry after?–so I would ALSO get a cinnamon sugar bagel with cream cheese too. Because you know, the savory/sweet alternating thing again.
  • Even a few years ago, I would do a weekly Reese’s Pieces cheat every Sunday night, turning it into a cozy ritual. I would bundle up on the sofa to watch my fav Sunday night HBO show with my Reese’s, and here comes Jade holding his hand out for MY Reeses! Is he insane?? Doesn’t he know I only do this ONCE a week?? I’m not sharing!! :) Thus, I started getting him his own separate bag that I could then throw at him when he reached for mine. Ha!

See?

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Fear of missing out on the ‘fun’ of food. Anxiety about the scarcity of food.

Though it wasn’t on a conscious level, I lived in a constant state of food anxiety. In my head: Will I be able to get enough of all the yummy foods I want to stuff down my throat at this one-and-only opportunity because come Monday, I can’t have any of it again, so I NEED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT ALL RIGHT NOW!!!!

:)

Maybe you’ve had similar experiences, maybe you haven’t. But I believe that many of us have an underlying anxiety about food that manifests in urgency. We don’t want to “miss the opportunity” to have this custom cake at this wedding, or the few-and-far-between opportunity to have popcorn at the movies or this award-winning dessert at this special restaurant I don’t know if I’ll ever get to eat at again.

I understand completely. And I’m actually not knocking an every-once-in-a-while indulgence, but when it snowballs into feeling like you are missing out every single day on some potentially-yummy food item, then you are actually being 100% ruled by your environment. No wonder you feel out of control. No wonder you (ironically) feel no sense of satisfaction when you eat whatever it is you feel like you’re missing out on. Because you’re always looking for the next chance to eat to your heart’s desire:

  • A co-worker is eating something new and delicious that you just have to try
  • When your office pals hit Happy Hour, “I’ll have whatever everyone else is having!”
  • At a dinner or holiday party where you get to eat season treats–egg nog, yule logs, the cutest little mini desserts and pumpkin cheesecakes!!
  • When a friend comes over to spend quality time–bring out the wine, cheese and crackers

Bottom line is that we can find opportunities for “missing out” on yummy food every single day. I can drive by McDonalds and see all the cars in the drive-thru and get depressed because “look at all those people who can eat Big Macs and I have to eat this dry chicken breast and these steamed veggies.” I can feel “left out” when I go to my Italian in-laws’ house on Friday night after a long week of work and watch everyone else devour bread, cheese, pasta and tiramisu and make the choice not to.

OR…

I can choose to NOT feel left out. I can actively CHOOSE my eating habits. I can CHOOSE to feel satisfied by my choices, and actually take pride in the fact that I don’t let my environment dictate my choices. In this way, I am more in control than ever.

So the key, if you are feeling FOMO around food is …. YOUR ATTITUDE. How you perceive the situation. FOMO is a choice.

Let other people be swayed by their environments. You make choices, for your own healthy lifestyle without circumstantial considerations. Let your ability to not take things, places, people into consideration be a source of pride and affirmation for you.

This attitude shift takes practice and patience. But the good news is that the more you own your choices and refuse to feel “left out” of (to-be-regretted-later) yummy/disgusting food encounters, the easier it becomes to see things that way. Essentially, it’s like strengthening your willpower muscle. Reinforcing it until you get to the point when the FOMO food you used to desire actually holds no appeal for you, because you’ve found a way to eat that already satisfies you.

I’m currently working on a follow up to this post, where I’ll go more in-depth about food anxiety and what drives us to eat out of stress or because we think it makes us feel better. We think “comfort food” is supposed to comfort us, when in actuality, it makes us more remorseful, UNcomfortable and physically worse later. But in the moment, it’s hard to be aware of that. Food anxiety is an elaborate interplay of brain chemistry, triggers + resulting habit loops, scarcity vs. abundance mindset and misguided stress management (including physiological factors).

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/11/09/food-fomo/

Controlled Cheating: 6 Strategies for Intelligent Indulgence

“People ask me what my secret is, and I say, ‘Um, salami and chardonnay?’”

My sister-in-law, Dr. Jillian Teta, owner of Fix Your Digestion and I are sitting outside at our favorite brunch spot in town drinking Bloody Marys, and ironically, discussing how far we’ve come nutritionally. See, both of us competed in figure competitions, posed for magazines and were “hard core” with our eating and training for many years–rarely thinking anything except the next Tupperware’d protein + veggie meal we needed to eat. We often joke that we were, at that time, either buying food, cooking food or eating food. Truly the life of a competitor.

As Jillian and I were reminiscing, we both decided that, in hindsight, that life was exhausting.

Not that it wasn’t rewarding on many levels and absolutely incredible to see yourself in that kind of shape. It’s an unreal feeling, walking on stage knowing you’ve done something that very few people can actually follow through on. It boosts your confidence and makes you feel like you can do anything.

But, the thing about competing that is not often talked about is this … IT HAS TO BE YOUR LIFE. Prepping food, cooking food, Tupperware, scheduling meals the night/weekend before, bringing your food everywhere with you, bowing out on social events, getting up early to train, maybe hitting the gym for a second time that evening, supplements, where’s my gallon water jug and holy shit, are my abs coming in?? And this is the way it’s supposed to be. People don’t win physique shows by chance, they win because they live it, they work their asses off and automate everything else in their lives. Their focus is the show, the physique. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Except if you’re 99.9% of the population that just doesn’t want to think, sleep, breathe, worry about food and exercise 24/7. Because ultimately, for most people, the bottom line is quality of life, sustainability and where you want to focus your attention.

In 2010, I came to the realization that I didn’t want to live that life anymore. I wanted to focus on my business and instead of automating my life, I wanted to learn to automate my physique, so I could have the MENTAL SPACE AND PHYSICAL TIME to dedicate to things other than my body.

Fast forward three years and I hardly think about food. And the reason I’ve been able to make that transition and stay fairly lean (not “show shape” but certainty not nearly as bloated as I sometimes would get between shows) is precisely because I allow myself some strategic indulgences.

And back to brunch with Jillian…

We’re discussing how we manage to stay satisfied, while also not blowing up. And though we laugh about loving pepperonis, Dubliner cheese and red wine, it’s not the actual wine and meat that helps us stay lean (obviously). But it’s the idea that because we don’t ever feel deprived, we never feel the need to OVERindulge. When I was competing, I was either on a strict competition plan OR eating every sweet, treat and cheat in sight. Now I hardly ever need, want or crave epic, balls-out cheats. The way my weekly schedule is set up now, it’s honestly effortless and I could eat this way forever. Do people get super lean off this? No. But they maintain and stay sane. Which, at this stage in my life, is the ultimate success.

Here are the ways I recommend to indulge strategically, so that you can maintain your weight while also maintaining your quality of life:

1) Pinpoint your nonnegotiables and then adjust the rest of your day accordingly.

I like wine. And I drink 1-2 glasses most nights. But I also never eat bread nor sweets. And because I’ve been practicing this for so long, it’s effortless. For now, I’ve decided that enjoying a glass of wine is a quality of life issue for me and because I want to incorporate it into my eating, I need to drop other concessions, like sweets, most starches and even monitor portions more closely. Besides, you can’t have your cake and lose fat too. We have to pick and choose our “nutritional gimmes” and then make up the difference elsewhere. I don’t count cals or macros, but I’m aware that when I want to have a couple glasses of wine at dinner, I’m not getting starch or dessert or hitting the bread basket. Period. And I might even adjust food portions earlier in the day if need be.

2) RELAX into your eating.

Allow me to explain. You will not die of starvation if you don’t eat every 3 hours and you will not be losing muscle by the second if you don’t eat immediately post workout. Looking back, I realize that the period of time I was most obsessive about food was also when obsessed with “the rules.” I needed to get 6 servings of veggies or else I was going to get unhealthy and sick. I needed to eat protein at every meal or I would lose muscle. I needed to eat every 3 hours or I would end up ravenous and at the McDonalds drive-thru. I needed to drink a gal of water a day or else I would shrivel up and die :) Are these things “ideal?” Certainly! But doing every one of them perfectly day in and day out becomes mentally exhausting for most people. Hence, relaxing into the process and considering ditching the rules and listening to your body instead.

I know, I know: “But Jill, that’s scary! What if I end up eating everything in sight??” I get that. But this is where the self-TRUST comes in. Taking a chance on a different way and relaxing into the idea that whatever happens, you can figure it out (and you can!), but you have to actually take that trust leap and see what happens. The first time I did this, it was a few years ago when I was sick of prepping food and disgusted by the old steamed veggies and plain proteins. I decided, screw it, not prepping this week … I’ll just have to figure it out. And the idea of not being prepared was TERRIFYING. But what do you know? I didn’t blow up like a whale and I was able to maintain my weight and do just fine. I haven’t looked back since.

3) Practice “willpower challenges.”

Jade introduced me to this concept, via Kelly McGonigal, author of ‘The Willpower Instinct’ (highly recommend!). The basic tenet is that you need to train your willpower, just like a muscle and the more you practice being around indulgences without having to devour them, the stronger you get in your ability to resist. A Willpower Challenge is this: order a dessert or treat you want. And instead of blindly scarfing the whole thing, in that moment, harness mindfulness and have 3 bites of it only, and then stop.

Sounds impossible, right? I thought so too. But true to its name, the “challenge” aspect serves to prep you to get better at this. You try, try and try some more until it becomes an effortless HABIT that you’ve developed through practice. Practice makes progress, but you have to start somewhere.

4) Use Neghar’s First Bite Rule.

My girl Neghar Fonooni of Eat, Life and Be Happy uses what she calls The First Bite Rule (read the whole post here), and essentially she says, when you have a treat or a cheat, make sure every bite is just as amazing as the very FIRST bite. Because usually once we get 5 bites in, we’re barely tasting it anyway. So stay mindful, and when you get to that spot where you’re not really paying attention, it’s an indication that you’re done with that dessert. Like everything, this is a practice. But the more you do it, the easier it’ll get to simply take a few amazing bites and be done with it.

5) Ritualize, don’t habitualize.

Love this tool Jillian came up with. And this has everything to do with mindfulness. Usually we don’t get upset if a cheat is planned, right? Conversely, the thing that irks us the most is when we end up indulging in things we didn’t plan on. Like, “Crap, it’s someone’s birthday at the office and I wasn’t mentally prepared to turn down cake, so I ate it and now feel like I messed everything up.”

So this strategy speaks to consciousness around indulgences. Habits are things we do automatically and regularly, like walking by someone’s desk and swiping candy from the jar without thinking. Or coming home and snacking on cheese and crackers while preparing dinner because our willpower’s too drained to resist. If you want to be able to control your waistline while feeling satisfied, cheats really cannot fall into the HABIT role.

Instead, ritualize them. Rituals are big deals. They’re planned, prepared in advance and non-negotiable. As your indulgences should be, too. Don’t have anything you don’t absolutely frigging love. Make sure you don’t compromise on what you want. Have EXACTLY what you want and plan how it’s going to be: Saturday night at 7pm at your favorite restaurant with your #1 dessert on earth. Ritualize your indulgences, don’t habitualize them.

6) Understand the difference between an indulgence and a preemptive cheat.

I got a text from a client a couple years ago that just said this, “OMGGGGGG I just polished off an entire bag of almonds!!! I’m out of control! HELP!”

So, my question to you: Are almonds a cheat? I don’t think they are. Can they play a role in fat loss resistance if they are overdone day after day after day? Sure. But to freak out over having too many almonds or a few extra pieces of bacon or a couple squares of dark chocolate–or even fruit–is excessive. These are what I consider preemptive cheats. They don’t especially help us lose weight, but they don’t add pounds either. They serve to satisfy us enough to keep us from reaching for the really bad stuff later. Like, the actual cheats–cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, chips, pastries, etc.

If you waste all your freak-outs on your preemptive cheats, you’ll have none left for when you actually need them–for real cheats! Ha! :)

So this is relative right? Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Understand that some “nutritional gimmes” are necessary in order to stay the course and resist the really bad stuff. If you’re hungry, but are stressed about having a banana because “it’s too high GI” or “it’s too late at night,” honestly, have the banana. Why? Because it’s a small concession to help you stay the course.

Preemptive cheats. Use them.

The idea that you’ll never eat sugar again is absurd. Buuuut, if you take the time to strategize and stay mindful of your cheats and treats, then indulging can keep you sane and keep you slim. It’s when we deprive and then subsequently binge that we get into trouble. The best way to avoid bingeing is to not allow yourself to feel deprived in the first place. So throw yourself a bone. Indulge intelligently and then move on. Keeping your nutrition 90% clean 100% of the time will allow you to maintain your weight, and more importantly, it’ll feel effortless.

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/10/31/intelligent-indulgence/

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