Diet & Nutrition

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A Minimalist's Approach to Exercise

A Minimalist's Approach to Exercise

The New Science of Fitness for Those Who Value Their Time
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The Low-FODMAP Solution

The Low-FODMAP Solution

Put An End to IBS Symptoms and Abdominal Pain
tagged : abdominal
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Read the Label!

Read the Label!

12 Ingredients That Might Be Making You Sick
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Finding Your Fit

Finding Your Fit

A Compassionate Trainer’s Guide to Making Fitness a Lifelong Habit
also available: eBook
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Chapter 2: Make Daily Movement Non-Negotiable

The worse your mood, the more important your workout is probably the Kathleenism that I personally find the most useful. I use it daily; I repeat it to myself like a mantra whenever I’m contemplating skipping my workout. My other mantra is “You are not the type of person who picks watching TV over exercising. If you want to watch a show, either watch it after your workout, or get on your bike and watch it as you cycle.” The main take-away of both mantras is that movement is non-negotiable.
I define non-negotiables as life events that, for the most part, you just do. You don’t seriously contemplate if you should or shouldn’t do them; they seem natural — a part of your everyday.
Everyone’s non-negotiables differ slightly. Some people decide that saving a set amount of money each month is non-negotiable. Others decide that a daily family dinner is a must. Most people don’t question if they should go to work or pick their children up from school. One is not born understanding these events as non-negotiable, but they become an unquestioned part of our identity and routine.
Moving and eating well are two of my personal non-negotiables, but they have not always been. Even now, after years of learning to love exercise, I still don’t always jump for joy before a workout. I do, however, know that I will ALWAYS feel better after working out — which is largely why I am no longer as tempted to skip as I once was. I used to do maybe 75 percent of my scheduled workouts. Now I do maybe 97 percent. I’m proud of that percentage, but it took work. My follow-through rate increased because I gradually changed the structure of my life and, possibly more important, I shifted my mindset so that daily movement became one of my non-negotiables. It became a non-negotiable partly because I can honestly tell myself that I will be a happier, peppier version of Kathleen when I move — and the more of a funk I am in, the more of a non-negotiable I know my workout is.
My body has a kinesthetic memory of how great I feel post-workout. Years of experience have taught me not only to push through the “will I or won’t I” phase of my internal exercise question, but also to try not to even allow the question to enter my head. This relates to a point I have already made — that maintaining a healthier lifestyle takes perseverance, and that it is not simply enough to work through challenging times, you also have to learn from your mistakes. A Kathleenism you’ll see me repeat many times throughout this book is, when you fall off the fitness horse, don’t give up. Use it as a learning experience and get back on a more informed rider. Setbacks are inevitable. You can either be discouraged by them and let them defeat you, or you can learn from them. The former is not helpful; the latter is. Learn from setbacks: use your experiences as building blocks in your quest to make healthy eating and movement non-negotiable.
To do this, we have to change the way you frame the exercise debate in your head. Notice that I said “we” — I’m invested in your fitness mission too. I want everyone to succeed and feel more energized and empowered. My ultimate goal is to minimize the times you have the internal “will I or won’t I exercise today” debate. To do this, we have to reframe the “exercise question” in your head.
Stop saying, “Will I exercise today?” Instead say, “WHEN will I exercise today?”
Tell yourself, “I AM the type of person who makes working out a priority!”
Substituting when for if may seem like a silly semantic change, but it’s not! Asking yourself, “Will I exercise today?” gives you a loophole, an option to skip moving altogether. People who ask themselves, “Will I exercise?” give themselves the okay to decide that today is not the day to move. Let’s look at the following scenario: You sleep past your alarm and miss your workout, so you think, “Crap, too bad. I have plans after work, so I guess I can’t work out today.” That’s the thought process of someone who asks themselves, “Will I exercise?”
Now, imagine this scenario instead: You sleep past your alarm. You wake up and say to yourself, “That’s too bad, but since not moving is not an option, what is my plan B? When will I exercise?” In the second scenario, the person fits in movement by going for a walk at lunch, taking the stairs throughout the day, and doing core work on the floor in the evening as their kids play. Sure, they didn’t get to do their full workout and, yes, a full workout may have been ideal, but aiming for perfection is not usually useful. The fact that a full workout would have been better is a moot point because it didn’t happen. In scenario two, at least the person didn’t give up. They formed a contingency plan and did something. Not moving was simply not an option. The next step in their fitness journey is to analyze if their original goal of training in the morning is realistic. If training in the morning is an unrealistic goal, they will continue to miss workouts, so they might need to rethink that goal. I discuss goal setting in detail in chapter 4. Get excited!
Thinking, “When will I exercise today?” makes movement non-negotiable.
Now, I get it — if you’ve never worked out, the idea of daily non-negotiable movement is probably daunting. It can be hard to make yourself move when you’re not in the habit of exercising. I remember how hard it was at the beginning. My mom had to drag me to the gym. The good news is that it does become easier. Once you have established a habit, you’re less likely to ask yourself that “will I or won’t I” question. Plus, when you exercise regularly you develop a kinesthetic memory of how great you feel post-workout, which will help motivate you to exercise.
I’ve been able to make movement non-negotiable because for the past fifteen years or so I’ve learned from my health mistakes and gotten right back on the horse. Through some successes and many errors I’ve learned what works for me. I’ve consciously formed positive habits that create an environment where daily movement and healthy eating can both be non-negotiable. The three key words from the above sentence are learned, consciously, and habits. Apply the information I suggest in chapter 1 to learn how to consciously create healthy habits and how to set yourself up for success. Once you’re set up for success, understanding daily movement as non-negotiable will be that much easier.
How Can You Make Movement and Healthier Eating Non-Negotiable?
First, try to implement the concrete steps I outlined in chapter 1. To review:
1. Stop aiming for health and training perfection. Perfection is not possible.
2. Remember the two Cs. Make your workouts convenient so that you do them consistently.
3. Work toward finding your exercise bliss; find things that you LIKE to do so that training no longer feels like an obligation.
4. Find your health dream — the emotional reason WHY you want to move.
5. Flip your negative thoughts; turn “I don’t want to train” into “I am so lucky that I get to train.”
6. Find your inner athlete; learn to be proud of what your body can do, not just of how it looks.
7. Mindfulness + Preparation = Success. Become mindful of your particular health pitfalls so that you can prepare solutions in advance.

These steps are described in more detail in chapter 1. Following them will help you create healthier habits and thus an environment where daily movement can become one of your non-negotiables. Soon you will think of moving like brushing your teeth — something you don’t even contemplate not doing; you just do it! Now, as I stated earlier, I have not always considered moving and eating well non-negotiables. I have spent fifteen years making them my non-negotiables. Even now it sometimes takes more than these seven tips to keep me on track. Whenever I feel like I am slipping backward in my health journey, or I am frustrated with my progress, I remember these next four tips. They help me continue to make movement and healthy eating non-negotiable, even when I just want to sit on the sofa and eat chocolate.
Never give up on making moving and eating well non-negotiable!

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Food, Sex, and You

Food, Sex, and You

Untangling Body Obsession in a Weight-Obsessed World
also available: Paperback
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As a product of Western culture, I was hardly alone in my anxieties. Instilling insecurity in women over their physical appearance is the basic strategy used by cosmetics manufacturers, fashion designers, and weight-loss clinics to sell their products, with the mainstream media wildly complicit. Not only do popular magazines bombard us with images of celebrities and models chosen for their beauty, but these images are digitally altered so that celebrity legs are as impossibly long and slender, waists are as wispy, and breasts are as uplifted and enlarged as those of the Barbie dolls we played with as children. Wrinkles are non-existent and skin is glowing.
The “cover” for this once-secret process was blown when Esquire magazine featured Michelle Pfeiffer, hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful women, on the cover of a 1990 issue with the caption, “What Michelle Pfeiffer Needs … Is Absolutely Nothing.” Subsequently, Adbusters obtained and printed a copy of an Esquire editorial memo detailing the $1,525 in touch-ups editors deemed necessary before Pfeiffer was fit to be seen by their readers. “Clean up complexion, soften eye lines, soften smile line, add color to lips, trim chin, remove neck lines, soften line under ear lobe … remove stray hair … adjust color and add hair on top of head … add dress on side to create better line …”
Some editors blame the stars and their publicists for insisting that these alterations be made in order to enhance the stars’ image. This could not be said of Kate Winslet, who famously complained that in photographs in a 2003 British edition of GQ, editors had excessively slimmed her body to reflect their view of what they thought she should look like. As she indignantly exclaimed, “They reduced the size of my legs by about a third!”
In another move that delighted feminists, 43-year-old Jamie Lee Curtis posed in a 2002 issue of More magazine with no makeup, in harsh light, wearing only a sports bra and panties. This was paired with a contrasting glamour photo of Curtis that had required thirteen people three hours to prepare. As she explained, “I don’t have great thighs. I have very big breasts and a soft, fatty little tummy. And I’ve got back fat.” Curtis admitted that she gained the courage to mock her movie-star image through her drug-addiction recovery program. She had become hooked on painkillers as a result of cosmetic eye surgery when she was thirty-five. “I’ve had a little plastic surgery. I’ve had a little lipo. I’ve had a little Botox. And you know what? None of it works. None of it.”
More recently, Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence said about the image of her used in a Miss Dior campaign, “That doesn’t look like me at all. People don’t look like that!” Her fans vigorously protested when “before” and “after” photos of her for a Flare magazine cover revealed that touch-up artists had changed her hairline, hollowed her cheeks, stretched her neck, and thinned her arms and her already slender body. “You look how you look,” commented Lawrence. “What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That’s just dumb.”
In 2009, the French version of Elle magazine pioneered what came to be called the “raw-celebrity movement” by featuring cover models without makeup or digital touch-ups. Since then, supermarket tabloids have inverted this concept through “gotcha” photography that catches celebrities off guard: “Who’s Got the Worst Cellulite in Hollywood?” and “Beach Bodies — Too Fat! Too Thin!” and “Caught Without Their Make-up!” Some editors have even been accused of adding fat and wrinkles to celebrity photos instead of wiping them out.
Even the world’s most powerful women can’t escape the relentless scrutiny of them as aesthetic objects. When Hillary Clinton was running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, the media seemed to pay as much critical attention to her clothes and hairstyle as to her policies, even predicting that she could become America’s first “Pantsuit President.” Political buttons, describing Clinton as “2 Fat Thighs, 2 Small Breasts,” indicated what could be in store for her now that she is running for the 2016 nomination.
During Germany’s last federal election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proven political savvy didn’t keep media louts from peering critically down her cleavage, or bloggers from referring to her “attractiveness gap.”
Along with the ideal-beauty standards set by our culture, today’s youth have grown up with the technology and the know-how to turn the spotlight on themselves, their friends, and their enemies. From cellphone cameras to Facebook, from Twitter to Tumblr, they post images of themselves, despite deep underlying insecurities. How eagerly they count up their Facebook “likes” in search of validation, and how painfully they suffer from mean, anonymous comments that shatter their self-confidence. Their own actions create a vicious cycle, because the more eyes that are upon them, the more difficult it is for them to balance their anxieties against their need for recognition. Small wonder that women seek liposuction, tummy tucks, breast implants, and fillers like Juvederm at a younger and younger age. Whereas fifties housewives invited the neighbours to Tupperware parties, today’s career women and socialites stage more fashionable Botox parties, with group-priced injections served up with the canapés and champagne.

Although beauty is something for which we women have been taught to strive, those born with spectacular looks often discover that their good fortune can have a downside. While men pursue them as sex objects and trophies, other women isolate them because they feel jealous or intimidated. No one truly knows them, and anyone who lives in a vacuum cannot know herself.
Like wealthy or powerful men, beautiful woman often find it challenging to sort out the sycophants and the opportunists from those who genuinely admire, like, and love them. However, a critical difference is that women are most sought after when they are young and vulnerable, which is also when they are least able to deal with the admiration and jealousy projected upon them, or to benefit from the opportunities that come their way. Too often they learn to depend on their beauty while their more authentic selves shrivel inside.
My client Jennifer was one of those blessed and cursed with beauty. Though a gorgeous, drop-dead blonde, she was, in her view, never perfect enough — a mindset that was becoming increasingly problematic with age.
Jennifer was only thirty-five when she came to see me, but already she had had her nose and her breasts reconstructed, her tummy tucked, and her thighs liposuctioned. Her forehead was regularly frozen with Botox and her expression lines were plumped up with commercial fillers.
Along with an addiction to plastic surgery, Jennifer had a serious eating disorder, an alcohol addiction, a heavy shopping addiction, and a sex and love addiction. A divorcee with three children, she was also deep in denial about her problems, with no idea of who she was or how to climb out of the desperate emotional pit into which she had fallen.
Jennifer remembered obsessing over her weight as early as ten, smoking at twelve, abusing laxatives at thirteen, and taking diet pills at fifteen. She had grown up in a family in which her father was abusive to her mother, while her mother was abusive to Jennifer. After her father left for another woman, Jennifer’s mother conscripted Jennifer, dressed up like a little doll, in her search for a wealthy new husband. Jennifer’s early modelling career also exposed her to excessive anxiety about her face and figure.
Though I discovered Jennifer to be an intelligent and witty woman, her looks were all that she believed in. Without that familiar weapon and shield, she felt herself to be powerless. For the past year, we have been working through Jennifer’s hurts and resentments, bringing to light the unhappy childhood patterns that she unconsciously recreated as an adult, and discovering the beauty and strength that she carries inside of her. It’s a slow but empowering process, and it’s helping her to feel safe, accepted, and loved — not only by herself, but also by the others to whom she is now reaching out.

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