Saturday, September 22, 2012

Can You Handle Happiness?

I just finished reading a fascinating book by Gay Hendricks called The Big Leap.    The book is about how he created the life of his dreams by solving for himself what he believes is a universal challenge for most people:  The Upper Limit Problem.  He’s also gone on to coach some of the most successful people in the world to break through this barrier (which was holding them back, even in their successful lives). 

Gay says that we basically live in one of four different states:  zone of incompetence, zone of competence, zone of excellence, and zone of genius.    Each one of us has an internal setting that sets how much love, success, and creativity we’ll allow ourselves to enjoy, and if we go beyond this setting in any of these life areas, we’ll find a way - usually unconsciously - to sabotage the good feeling.   Even many uber successful people are stuck in their zone of excellence because of an internal block that they’re not aware of.

What does this have to do with your health, you may ask?  Well, if you’ve been to any of my talks, you’ll remember that I talk about the concept of primary (what you do, etc.) and secondary (what you eat) foods and how feeling unfulfilled in one area of your life can impact, among other things, your food and lifestyle choices. 

Here are some examples of The Upper Limit Problem:
  • You’ve been eating healthy and exercising all week, and then you go on a weekend binge that undoes all of your hard work.
  • You get a raving review and promotion at work and then you start an argument with your spouse or friend or colleague.
  • You start a new job and then you get sick and are laid up in bed, or you injure yourself. 
  • You are feeling good about something going well in your life and you suddenly begin to worry about something else for no good reason. 
  • You’re given a compliment and you deflect it with a self-deprecating statement.  
What do all of these scenarios have in common?  They all stop or block the flow of positive energy that you’re experiencing and brings you back into your comfort zone.   Except, this is not where you’re meant to live and preventing yourself from living in your Zone of Genius is why you may turn to cookies and ice cream while watching TV at night, or drink too much, or sabotage your relationships.    

The author asks probing questions in the book to help the reader identify their Upper Limit Problems and offers solutions, including an Ultimate Success Mantra that is an intention you use to center yourself in your Zone of Genius: 

“I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.”

Recite this mantra anytime of the day, especially first thing in the morning to set a mood and mindset for your day.  And use it at any point throughout your day where you feel your spirit needs a lift or you want to re-center yourself.

This book forced me to take a long, hard look at many moments in my own life where my Upper Limiting beliefs have held me back and is helping me to move through those beliefs as I reach for my goals now.   I highly recommend it and hope that you too can take some jewels of wisdom and apply them in your own life. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Is Food Porn Derailing Your Healthy Eating Efforts?

Last week, I made a very colorful, delicious salad then took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook.  And then, because I liked the picture so much, I made it the wallpaper on my computer.  Over the next few days, I noticed that the more I saw the picture, which by the way looks awesome on a 15-inch screen, the more I focused on eating healthy.  The fresh garden tomatoes, the chunks of red pepper and avocado all felt appetizing and almost made me feel as if I was doing something good for myself.   In a way, I was, because I ate more salad last week than I had all summer!

Yesterday, I knew I was on to something when I picked up the September issue of Women’s Health Magazine and found an article entitled, The Food Porn Problem.    The article explains how the growing obsession with looking at images of sinfully seductive dishes not only make us hungrier, they can cause us to overeat, even hours later. 

A study in the journal Neuroscience found that viewing images of delicious food lit up the reward centers of the brain and caused overeating and a study in the journal Obesity found that seeing food caused an increase in the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, even if someone had just eaten.   And a study in the journal Appetite found that dieters were more susceptible to overeating in response to seeing food on TV  than non-dieters.   Yet another reason why diets don’t work!

I know I never pass up the opportunity to eyeball a gooey fudge brownie sundae or a crispy, creamy forkful of something comforting.  And I’m not alone because food pictures are surpassing clothing and style re-pins by 50% on Pinterest and some food blogs have eliminated recipes altogether in favor of decadent close-ups.

If you suspect that even the sight of food is having an impact on your eating habits, here are some ways to weaken your brain’s response to food:

1.  Shift your focus - rather than focus on food, get in the habit of viewing images of beauty - like your favorite places to visit, style, interior design, etc.

2.  Exercise - regular physical activity is believed to dampen the brain’s reward center so that you’ll have less of a desire to look for food.

3.  Get plenty of sleep - when you’re sleep deprived, you’re more susceptible to the temptations brought on by the images of food.

4.  Cook more - getting into the habit of cooking will provide a multi-sensory experience around food that can result in smaller portions and fewer calories eaten.

And if you must look at images of food, the next time you make a pretty salad, take a picture and pin it up somewhere, like your computer screen, to encourage you to eat healthy… : )

Source:  Women’s Health Magazine, September 2012