BLOG

Category

  • It's not an unsolved homicide.

    It's not a buried mystery. It's just a yes or no.

    It is a very popular and very sexy idea that we need to solve a deep, dark, baffling mystery out of the past before we can break a habit and get our eating under control.

     

    The brain LOVES a mystery. Cracking an unsolved mystery is ecstatically fun. What HAPPENED back there?!

    NOT solving but trying to solve a mystery is also very fun for the brain.

    So the idea that if we could just figure out what happened to make us be this way - a bit cuckoo about food - if we could just figure out WHY we eat the way we eat, we would magically and instantly stop. We could just become relaxed, normal eaters instead of these nutty, bingey, frantic, obsessive eaters.

    You've heard me say lots of times that we actually can instantly become normal eaters. But it's not magic and we don't have to solve any mysteries. There's nothing in our past we need to dredge up before we can change our habits. And there's nothing we need to make sure happens in the future, either.

    There's only ever one question to answer right now, and it's not tricky like solving a 40-year-old murder. It's not Why do I feel like eating all the time? It's not Why do I feel this urge to run down the gas station and buy a dozen Twinkies? It's definitely not What is the real need I am trying to fill here?

    It's this question: IS IT TIME TO EAT? Is it lunchtime? Is it dinnertime? Is it the meal or the time when I said I was going to eat?

    If the answer is No, it's not time, then knowing that your brother stole your Pixy Stix or your mom gave you chocolate when you got bullied won't actually help you break a habit.

    To be clear, there's nothing wrong with knowing yourself.

    But digging into your history doesn't give you a faster, better, easier way to break a habit, because the only way to break a habit is to say Nope!and then do the thing you want to be your new habit.

    You need to know what the new habit will be. A decision in place saves you having to come up with a creative solution every single time your brain wants you to eat, which can be SO. MANY. TIMES a day. That's exhausting, and when we're tired we'll do what's easy. Which could look like Twinkies and bagels on repeat << I've done this.

    This is why I like mealtimes, rather than asking how hungry you are on a scale of 1-10 or something tricky and complicated like that. Is it lunchtime? Yes: Eat, and then stop. No: Don't eat until lunchtime.

    You still have to say No to your habit, but you never have to say No to your habit and figure out how to eat some other way and solve a deep psychological mystery on top of everything.

    Image: Pan and Syrinx, Caesar Boëtius van Everdingen, c. 1637 - c. 1640, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

  • Delicious. Nutritious. And non-virtuous.

    Despite the fact that it's not the least bit virtuous.

    The worst meal is better than no meal, for the organism.


    The above is something to remember when we start getting stressed about how good our nutrition is. I mention this because it's another place I see my clients getting wedged. Sometimes we swap calorie concerns for "nutrition" concerns - and it's true that there is something to be concerned about.

    There are indeed some dubious food-esque items for sale out there. They're cheap and cheerful and fast and easy. And if we live on them exclusively we'll get sick.

    But if we have them once in a while? It's probably better than not eating, don't you think?

    Our ancestors did not have to be reminded of this. For them, it was a self-evident truth. Eating is better than starving, no big surprise.

    Some days, everything goes well enough that you can pay attention to your nutrition. Some weeks, you can get enough time to plan thoughtfully, eat the rainbow, and meet your protein goal.

    (Some of you will make that happen no matter what. And some of you have three kids and work the night shift. Circumstances vary.)

    And so other days you have family emergencies or pantry emergencies or plumbing emergencies. Things ... EMERGE. That is the nature and structure of life. On those days, you eat, you survive, you run away to advocate for better nutrition another day.

    That's when I like to remind myself that Delicious, Nutritish, and Non-Virtuous can save me. A bacon sandwich? DELICIOUS, filling, proteinaceous, and sure, full of Red Dye no. 86, but way better than nothing. Grok and his Paleo-era girlfriend would absolutely knock me out with a rock for my bacon sandwich.

    Pizza? I consider pizza to be food, and you might like that idea too. Of courseit's not great to eat pizza every day. But that doesn't actually make it a non-food, and something you should feel bad about, like you compromised your virtue, if you ate it.

    There are real consequences for the person who eats pizza at every meal: weight gain, ill health, budget problems. Getting shut out of heaven is not a consequence. So you don't have to come down on yourself like the stakes are so high.

    Beating yourself up is unnecessary, does nothing to accelerate habit change - NOTHING - and takes precious time away from working to acquire better nutrition. 

    Just feed yourself and your kids and move on.


    Anyway, that's the week! I'll be back next Tuesday with more help, ease, encouragement and the like.

    Meanwhile, if you need a little extra support in the form of dedicated, personal assistance, I've got a very nice email accountability-and-coaching situation going. The people in it are finding that the continuity and attention is very helpful for their goals. 

    If that sounds like something you could use, join me. All the details are right here.

    Image: Still Life with Cake, Raphaelle Peale, 1818, Metropolitan Museum of Art / Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund. Used with permission.

  • 😳 SO EMBARRASSING.

    Oops I did it again.

    Yep, I bought another "cleanse" book. So embarrassing!


    It's like Anne Lamott with her bathroom scales. Buying one, stepping on it, hating it for telling her how to feel, calling it names, taking it down to the Goodwill and saying, Hey guys. Got another scale for ya. 

    I haven't done this in a long time. I was in Oakland, the weather was glorious, especially for late January. I was working outside (!!!) and I started to believe in spring again.

    Suddenly I was in the mood for lighter food! In my moment of restored optimism and faith that I would soon want to eat something other than beef with pork, I bought this book about juice and salad and "cleansing."

    Am I going to get a juicer? I am not. Am I going to cook out of this book? Maybe a salad. Am I going on a cleanse? HELL NO, if past performance and my contempt of diets are any indication.

    But I lost my mind and bought this near-useless book. Ugh, what is my lesson?!

    Just this: Buying another cleanse book and giving it to Goodwill is not a big deal. It is a slip, yes. A bit of backsliding and a waste of $20. I listened to a thought that I've been able to ignore in the past (ooooh, buy me!) and this time didn't ignore it.

    Which matters nothing. I am not preserving a shining record. I do not care about being perfect not because it's impossible, but because being perfect is IRRELEVANT to the project of doing my best to keep important commitments. Like eating well and generously, and not going on stupid "cleanses," which, sidebar, the body doesn't actually require.

    So it is, exactly, with that donut you had or that argument you had or that other little indulgence. All-or-nothing is a setup for unnecessary surrender."Perfection" is just a tool your bad habits use to get you to give up and live life their terrible way.

    "Perfection" the idea is just poison. Throw it in the bin marked "irrelevant thoughts I can safely ignore forever" and carry on.

  • Yes, we have no Facebook group. And other As to your Qs.

    The whole point is ease.

    I want to make ending compulsive eating and become a normal eater (or hey, normal-ish eater; also excellent) as easy as possible.


    That's the goal of my upcoming workshop, Become a Normal Eater by Bedtime: To make out-of-control eating a thing of the past as quickly and easily as possible. 

    Some of you have had questions about the workshop. Here are the answers:

    Q: When you say "normal," what do you mean, exactly?

    A: Well, there's something a little weird about the very idea of normal, isn't there? Even though it's supposed to mean "opposite of weird." I mean:

    1. Not obsessing about food, weight and eating. Obsessiveness = weirdness, by definition.
    2. Eating enough (quantity and quality), to sustain life and health, aka not restricting yourself. Most of the time.
    3. Not eating too much, aka not indulging yourself. MOST of the time.
    4. Eating by choice, not from compulsion or habit.

    As we've talked about many times before, a lot of us aren't doing that. But it's actually very doable, and anyone here can start today.

    Normal eating for you might include mindfulness, vegetarianism, eating locally, and other things. But it needn't, and I'm only talking about the above. It's a happy middle way and it results in instant self-respect.

    Q: Will your method help me lose weight? Because I've tried a lot of things.

    A: I am sure you have! I have tried them all too. Here's what actually works if you want to lose weight: Eliminate the stuff your habit compels you to eat that's not contributing to your pleasure and your health. The extra weight has no choice but to come off. In the absence of tricky medical conditions, this is just fact. 

    How long will it take? No one can say. (If anyone says different, run away!) People vary, and permanent weight loss takes place over time. We can only control the inputs - not our body's response.

    Q: Will this work if I’m a parent of small children and don’t have a lot of free time? I also have a pretty irregular schedule. What we're doing in this program - how easy or difficult will it be to pull off with my considerations?

    A: Both the workshop itself and the actual method I teach are designed to be easy, and take up less time than you are now spending on eating and thinking about eating, food and weight. My aim is that you quickly find yourself with more time and headspace.

    The format of the workshop, in contrast to the previous half-day seminars, consists of daily brief downloadable audios, which you can listen to at your convenience. Most of them won't be longer than five minutes. And there are one-page cheatsheets to go along with each daily audio, so you can review in your own preferred format.

    The four live Q&A sessions will also be recorded, so no one has to miss anything on account of her schedule. (If you have questions and can't be on the call live, you can just email me. I will answer everything.)

    I will also say: The way I eat now, the way I think about food altogether? I would have given my right arm to have had this way of eating when my kids were little. I would do anything to go back in time and wipe my own godawful eating disorder and shame and self-hatred from my kids' world. Don't worry; they are fine! But I still wish I had been more present for them, and I would have been without the constant dullness of my obsession.

    Q: Just curious about the format you use for the Q&A sessions. A lot of people use Facebook for things like that, but I’m hoping to live this life without ever having a Facebook account. I know I sound like a total Luddite, and if that’s what you use hopefully we can find a workaround.

    A: Uh, nope! You sound like a sane person. Here's the only workaround we need: No Facebook group. The truth is, many people are tired of them, and not only because of privacy concerns. Facebook discussion groups are often just more obligation. And we're trying to keep this easy. So we will not be adding that little complication.

    We'll get together live via Zoom video (the video part is optional, if you prefer anonymity, and it's pretty convivial and fun.

    Q: I'm pretty picky eater and mostly vegetarian. Will that be a problem?

    A: Certainly not! Picky eating is not a requirement for normal eating, and it is also not a barrier. Same for vegetarians and near-vegetarians and dedicated carnivores. We're about dissolving the habit of overeating, bingeing, any kind of out-of-control eating that you don't want in your life. It's about eating by choice, rather than compulsion. There's no need to give up any particular kind of food, unless you decide you want to.

    Q: I'm 50+ years old, and I'm about 40 pounds overweight, which is enough to be uncomfortable. A few years ago I lost 40 pounds with [a big commercial group] and I've gained it back since I stopped attending the meetings. Just got sick of them. With that program, it felt like I was hyper-focusing on all things food-related. It got old!

    Your approach sounds very attractive. I just want to eat like a normal person, without obsessing over everything. That's my hope for this program. 


    A: That's exactly what we want: the end of obsession. It's the goal, and it's the journey. It's the point of our method. You know that phrase What we resist, persists? Whether we're dedicating our brain power to obsessing about food and how to get it or resisting food and how to get away from it - either way, that brain power is feeding the obsession and keeping it locked in place. A lot of the "work" we do - and honestly, it's barely work - is to dismantle the obsessive thinking quickly and easily so that the whole obsessive habit pattern just withers and dies of neglect <- GLOAT!

    PS You didn't ask this but let me just say for anyone who's wondering: You can lose weight at any age.

    Q: This looks awesome but I am getting your accountability emails (which are awesome), and I did your online day workshop. I’m assuming I have the tools, but I’m wondering if this class is going to provide me with the support? (Feel free to say Girl, just cut the crap and do the work.)

    A: Yep, you do have the tools! Everyone reading my free weekly email has the tools, though not all in one place.

    But guess what? SUPPORT IS A REALLY GOOD WAY TO CUT THROUGH CRAP.

    The workshop will give you these things:

    1. So much support! Listen, we're here with upwards of 7,000,000,000 other humans. LET'S SUPPORT EACH OTHER WE'RE NOT MEANT TO STRUGGLE ALONE. Knowledge only gets you so far in a world that just wants you to lose weight fast and doesn't mind saying so, thousands of times a day, in some very unkind ways. I want to say Girl, LET'S GET YOU SOME REINFORCEMENTS!
    2. Essential reminders in the form of 14 audios, none of them longer than 15 minutes and most of them around 5. Omigosh, so much better than three hours worth!
    3. All the basics of the method in the form of one-page cheatsheets. Something for the listeners, and something for the readers.
    4. Four hours of live Q&A access <- these will be fun. Things come up as we go along! TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE LOW-COST CUSTOM HELP AND ATTENTION.


    Class starts Friday.
    Registration closes Thursday.
    Signup and all the details are here.


    Hope to see you there!

    Image: Battle of the Pyramids, Dirk Langendijk, 1803, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission. 

  • Hiding in plain sight since 10,000 BCE.

    The Problem Solver


    I talk a lot about how meals are a miracle cure for disordered eating and eating disorders. Meals are kind of a magic pill, but they're not a secret. Meals are hiding in plain sight, right where they've been for the past 12,000 years or so. 

    But among a lot of the people I talk to, eating meals is not the done thing. Here's what's really happening:

    • bingeing
    • fasting, or deliberate starving
    • dieting (which could involved discrete plates of food at certain times, but diets by our definition always mean inadequate nutrition, so I'm not counting this type of "meal") and very often,
    • all-day grazing (sometimes called "Intuitive Eating")
    • some combo of the above

    We've been told that weight is our problem. Lack of discipline, lack of willpower, lack of information, lack of belief in ourselves: those are some other "problems" underlying the main problem of not looking like the Photoshopped cover of a "fitness" magazine. 

    And we've been told, many times many ways, that a diet is the solution. 

    Sometimes we hear that the solution is not a diet, but one its fancier, sciencey cousins, like Intermittent Fasting or Paleo or eating "right" for your blood type, or avoiding gluten or sugar, or other restrictive regimes that are said to "not be diets." Or my least favorite, the non-sciency "sensible" eating. ("Just eat sensibly!" Ugh!)

    Mostly, these are lies. Dieting, or deliberately getting inadequate nourishment for a sustained period causes problems (often, bingeing). Trying to starve your body into a shape it was never meant to be causes problems. Not eating enough causes numerous problems for every body that experiences too much hunger. 

    Here's the so-basic-it's-invisible bottom line: Meals are a structural solution to a universal problem. Excessive hunger is bad for all humans, not just "overweight" ones. Meals are THE big Problem Solver.

    For thousands of years, meals have kept bodies running reliably so that we don't fall over mid-yak-hunt or mid-act-of-procreation or midway to the nuts-and-berries bar.  

    So if you'd like to relax about weight and eating and food, and stop regarding them as problems that you suffer from because you got an unlucky draw at the gene table, this is an important fact to understand: There is nothing wrong with YOU. There is something wrong with our food culture, and something wrong with our food supply, and something wrong with the pressure to be very thin at any cost.

    If you want to lose weight, it can be done at any age. If you have eating habits you want to change, you can break them. These things are not that hard.

    (Unless you try to lose weight or break those habits by dieting. That will take FOREVER. And it will be hard. Also it will not work.)

    You don't need to white-knuckle anything. You don't need to eliminate "triggers." You don't need a bunch of fancy new tools. You already know the necessary nutrition science. 

    All you really need is

    1. a simple way to eat that balances structure and freedom, which are basic, universal human needs, and not problems peculiar to overeaters and

    2. a simple way to dismantle the habit of solving non-food problems with food

    That's what we'll do together in Become a Normal Eater by Bedtime. We will answer all your questions about

    • triggers, root causes, mindfulness, intuitive eating, emotional eating, hunger and why you don't have to - and shouldn't - spend one more minute on ANY OF THOSE THINGS in order to get comfortable control of your eating TODAY
    • exercise and weight and what to eat and how those thing actually fit together so that you CAN start losing weight
    • helpful principles (as opposed to arbitrary rules) for sustainable weight loss
    • and the one and only thing you ever have to do in order to vaporize a habit

    As I never tire of saying, it's about 1,000,000x easier than they tell ya. It's not expensive, either. 

    So if you want to join me in saying adiós to eating problems forever and becoming a normal eater before the day is out, class starts on February 1.

    Registration is open now, and all the details are here.
     

    Image: Still Life with Lemon and Cut Glass, Maria Margaretha van Os, 1823 - 1826, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission. 

  • How do you just "LET GO," anyway...?

    If you have struggled with food and weight and eating...

    ...and been told to “just drop the struggle!” you may have known murderous rage. (I certainly have.) WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, I have asked, aloud and to myself. 

    The answer I always seemed to get back, especially from spiritual folk and other seekers and self-improvers was: You just let go! You just stop fighting! You just give up the struggle!

    No one could tell me HOW, of course. (You may already know: There IS no “how.” Letting go is not actually an action to be performed.) Folks who like to tell you to do impossible things, when asked to explain, can only repeat themselves. Which is exactly what a lot of people in my life did, thinking they were dispensing advice about how to quit bingeing.

    Most of those dumdums were not giving good advice because 1. they didn’t have any earthly idea what binge eating disorder is like and 2. they didn’t have anything for me other than sitting meditation, which, guess what? MEDITATION WORKS GREAT IF YOU HAVE YEARS (perhaps lifetimes, in some cases) to devote to it.

    Same for intuitive eating. Yes you can figure that out as well but it's going to take some time. It won't happen today and meanwhile it's very likely your "intuition" will lead you to put on QUITE A FEW pounds.

    So as I am always saying:

    If you want to become a normal eater by bedtime - and you can become a normal eater today, forever - your only hope is to find a really, really easy path.

    Because only truly easy things can be accomplished in a couple hours.

    Thus, our method is TRULY EASY. I will show you how to make the lightning fast transition from 

    • binge eater
    • overeater
    • compulsive eater
    • unconscious eater
    • problem eater 
    • any combo type of the above

    to utterly normal eater - again, on the first day. We will do this by making the switch from bingeing, grazing, dieting, fasting, never-not-eating, and yo-yo’ing to eating meals, and I will teach you exactly how to make this switch easy as pie - a perfectly good food that normal eaters eat, by the way, and you can too.

    Then what you see is that problem eating LETS GO OF YOU. It just lets go and wanders away, perhaps never to be seen again.

    The format

    I'll send you a brief audio every day for 14 days. We'll start with The Problem Solver, aka Meals: How to Revive this Lost Art In the Best Way for You. That's so you can transform your eating and start feeling like a gloriously normal eater (which you will be) on Day 1.

    We'll have 4 (optional but extremely useful) hour-long video meetings. These will be Q&A / chat meetings, rather than instructional, tailored for the precise problem-solving you need. The meetings will all be recorded and available to everyone, whether you attend or not.

    This format represents a change from the previous half-day firehose seminars I did in 2018. I think you'll like it better 

    🤓

    The timing

    We'll start on Friday February 1st and finish on Valentine's Day, February 15th. Video meeting times TBA.

    The cost

    $299. No increase from last year.

    Who this is for

    Everyone who wants support in ending problem eating the very fastest possible way. BONUS: While we're in there, I'll show you how you can use our habit-dissolving method on any other pesky things, too.

    Registration will open next week. 

    Meantime, if you have questions, don't hesitate to drop me a note. I will get right back to you.

  • Do you mind the pounds? Or do you mind the pennies?

    Okay, I know that saying is about MONEY, not weight.


    Still, here’s an inescapable and broadly applicable fact: There’s a lot of pennies to every pound. If you’re minding the pennies, you’re putting your beady little eye on a lot of pesky little details. 

    If that sounds like fun, don’t let me stop you. But if you’d prefer to count stitches or beats or perhaps not count at all, here’s a win:

    Mind the pounds. Mind the big stuff. Don’t sweat the little things; in fact you could just start by ignoring the details.

    In our world, that looks like doing a couple big things a day, like eating meals. You will see big wins from following one simple principle:

    Have a structure for eating.

    That’s it! Don’t starve, don’t binge, don’t graze, and don't be making a million small decisions about food

    Instead, eat meals (mostly meals built on real food).

    You may benefit from a few additional details, so if you haven’t read my little cheat sheet, please avail yourself. Download it right here; it costs nothing.

    This cheat sheet is going to get an update at the start of the year, but the information is sound right now, and I promise if you have difficulties with food, it will make your life SO MUCH EASIER.

    Next week I will no doubt be back with a longer email that I hope will amuse and delight and inform you.

    But if you never do anything else, putting in place a simple, flexible structure for eating will permanently change your life for the better.

    Okay, that’s the week. It’s also almost the year! Are you thinking about 2019? I have a very useful planner to help with that, and it will be available until the beginning of January. I’ve added a few preview pages for you to download, so feel free to sample them.

  • Well I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more ... just because I said I would?

    Just kidding! Doing something just because you said you’d do it is kind of a terrible reason to do anything.


    As a coach, obviously I am witness to too many people taking on “challenges,” setting up public commitments, and otherwise kind of bullying themselves and counting on shame to enforce some action. 

    The only reason to take on a challenge is … drumroll … because you want to. The probability that we will do something grand that we don’t sincerely want to do is approaching zero. From the south. 

    So let me always be the first person to tell you to quit doing what you don’t want to do as soon as you realize you don’t want to do it, and to feel FINE about that. 

    Walking 1,000 miles in a year, though, is actually a real goal of mine and something I want to do. The number is not the point - nor is the point to get you to listen to the Proclaimers again after 20 years.*

    The point is to do the thing, over and over. No one can walk 1,000 miles today; that’s a project you have to chip away at. You’ve got to get out there and walk almost every day, and that is something I really sincerely want to do, because it’s one of those key actions that unlock a ton of bonuses: fresh air, Vitamin D, ocean views, forest bathing, mood enhancement, the possibility of running into friends, potential beach treasure, maybe a good book at one of the Little Free Libraries on my routes, and more. 

    Nothing is going to happen on Mile 1,000 that’s not happening on Mile 16. The round number is just for fun, and makes sure I get 2.7 miles in per day, along with some bigger hikes at the weekend. 

    Key goals that tick a ton of boxes at once are one of the things my 2019 planner encourages, by the way, along with an emphasis on fun.

    The planner will only be available for the next few weeks, so if you have not begun to think about your year ahead, now’s a great time, before the holidays are really upon us, and also while I’m encouraging you to put to rest anything you no longer want to do

    Let’s have the freshest possible fresh start.

    PS  I’ve added a few preview pages for you to download, so you can sample the planner before you buy it.

    PPS  I'm running at over 105% of my mileage-to-date goal, day by day. Does this sound insanely fun to you too? If so, join me! Just hit Reply and tell me how much you love walking, too  and we will GO! (No "walking dresses" required.)

    💃

    *Haha it's actually been THIRTY years since Sunshine on Leith came out. We were babies!

    Image: Magazine of Female Fashions of London and Paris. No. 31: London, September, 1800: Walking Dresses, R. Phillips, 1800, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

  • Now's a good time to plan for 2019.

    If you want to have a great 2019, that is.

    If you are in the US, I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend. And I hope you are not among the many Americans who are consumed with regret about what they ate. Trivial! Wherever we are in the world, what we ate last week is in the past. Let’s leave it there, and do something a lot more fun right now: LET’S THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE.

    Specifically, 2019. Could be our best year so far! Exceeding in greatness even 2018! If we want it to. And if we make a little room for that.

    I like to make room for greatness, delight, pleasure and self-cultivation via a little open-ended planning process. Sketching out the year in a desirable form, always with space left for something even better, because who knows?! Plan for the best, and secretly expect the even better.

    Here is one example: a couple weeks ago I met my physical therapist for a body-composition check. He pinched me with calipers at the arm, hip and thigh, measuring my jiggly bits, and said this:

    "YOU HAVE HIT A RARE AIR. It is extremely unusual for a 58-year-old woman who is not new to exercise to gain this much lean body mass" <- that’s muscle AND bone, dear reader! I am a crone with fresh muscle and bone, and I could not be more pleased about this.

    Here I am about to pick 120 lbs up off the floor in one stylish move, on my own power without even the aid of mascara! Big improvement from barely being able to bend at the knees in 2017:

    Anyway, how did this miracle happen?! How did I go from being a person who could walk all day, sure, but was kinda weak and flabby - to being someone who’s deadlifting nearly her whole body weight? How did that happen? 

    Here’s how: I thought about what I wanted in my 2018, and kicking ass was on that list. Bone loss was not. So I sat down, and I did some planning. 

    And it was really fun.

    Note: I did not make resolutions, because resolutions are not fun. Talking harshly to myself, also no. 

    But planning is fun! Reviewing is fun! Self-discovery is SUPER FUN.Doing the things I most want to do for myself is so much fun. Having my physical therapist say "You’ve gained five pounds of new muscle and bone mass" is the most fun ever. Having him say "You’re gonna be harder to kill": Hilarious fun. Putting more and more weight on my barbell: fun fun fun! 

    (And weightlifting is just one example, by the way. I had an all-around fantastic 2018, I made some wonderful new friends and took a bunch of beach days and increased my income and saw beautiful things and none of that was accidental.)

    If the journey is the goal - and it always is - then planning should be a total lark. Thus, I offer you a completely delightful and extremely effective tool, for you to download, print and enjoy the fruits of. You can avail yourself of the good times and get this planner by clicking right here.

    I hope you will grab it and make use of it, because whatever your ambitions for 2019 are, making space for them by planning increases your odds of success 1000s of times.

    PS  I have emphasized fun here. But I assure you this is also a very effective process.

    Either way, I wish you your best year yet, no matter what.

  • Good in the beginning, good at the end.

    Good in the middle, too!

    Oh you guys! I'm getting so excited about 2019!!!


    This is why: Because it's been a really fun 2018, and I am just deciding to carry on with more fun next year, too. WHY NOT.

    I've started doing my planning for the year, using a really lightweight and very enjoyable process, because planning and goals should be Good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end*, not just when you hit the target.

    * This by the way is a solid principle by which you can evaluate any undertaking. Does it promise to be good at the end, even if it sucks in the beginning and especially the long or messy middle? Lies. Do not fall for that.

    Struggling struggling struggling, failing to have fun, finally hitting the goalpost? THAT IS NEVER SATISFYING. Struggling just leads to more struggle. 

    I propose when thinking about the future, we follow that rule and insist on fun in the beginning, enjoyment in the middle and celebration at the end

    Thus, next week I will have ready for you a planning process you can download and use to review your 2018 and plan your 2019. Like everything I offer, it's flexible, lightweight and simple. It will be completely affordable.

    And every single moment you spend on it should be delightful and ultimately useful.

    Here's an example of one of my fun goals for 2019:



    Yep! It's COOKBOOKS. I've chosen 12 books, one for each month of the year. The goal is to pick one at the beginning of the month, and make one full menu from it every week. Actually, it's a multi-goal: 

    1. Revive Sunday lunch. If I cook it, I bet they will come.
    2. LEARN. I never want to not be learning. It's what I came here for!
    3. Support and promote women, including women of color. 
    4. Save room for dessert.
    5. Make my cookbook habit start paying me back.

    I am so excited! I hope you will join me.

    Image: Olifant op boek (schets), Leo Gestel, c. 1935 - before 1936, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission

  • But my problem is EMOTIONAL EATING! (Isn't it...?)

    That feeling is almost gone.

    What can we actually do with emotions?

    A common instruction for ending “emotional eating” is “Step 1: Process your emotions.” 

    Sometimes people then say 2. “See what’s underneath the emotion. There will be a need you must take care of in order not to eat, which is a ‘fake need.’”

    This is all wrong.

    Let’s start with processing your emotions. Have you ever tried that? Did you discover what I have discovered, which is that you can no more “process” an emotion than lifting a cat off your lap “processes” that cat or shooing a bumblebee off your breakfast “processes” that bee? Nor would petting the cat process it. No more than letting the bee sting you processes the bee.

    There is nothing you can do to process an emotion. We are not given that power.

    In fact, there is nothing we need to do at all in regard to emotions.

    Emotions come, stay, and go, all on their own. We can ignore them. We can be distracted by them. We can distract ourselves from them. We can pay attention to them. We can witness them. We can experience them in any way they come to us, for as long as they’re there - which according to science is about 90 seconds, by the way.

    Yep! Ninety seconds, tops. In other words, the average emotional experience lasts much less time than it takes to walk to the donut shop or even the vending machine on the third floor.

    Now THOSE are processes. And they are happening in a different space altogether from the emotional space.

    So I am not saying there aren’t difficult emotions. There are emotions that are quite hard to be with, especially in contrast to being with a dozen donuts. Fury and grief come to mind. 

    But grief doesn’t lead inevitably to bingeing anymore than lemon bars lead invariably to ecstasy, no matter how good they are. So you don't need to process grief to avoid bingeing.

    Oh, and the fact that you eat "too much" while grieving is not an indication that you are doing grief "wrong." <- good to know!

    Here's how it is: NO EMOTION CAN BE PROCESSED TO GIVE YOU ANY RESULT OTHER THAN BEING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT EMOTION. Which will happen anyway, in about a minute, The End.

    I understand my claim flies in the face of common wisdom about eating. I go against virtually every therapist out there when I say you don’t need to do ANYTHING AT ALL with your emotions. 

    (Oh and that there's nothing to get to the bottom of, either. At least nothing you need to know in order to change your eating.)

    But no need to pick up what I’m putting down without doing your own investigation. Look at your history, and observe your present. Are emotions and eating the same processes, or different? Is there something you can reliably do with your emotions that leads to a good outcome with your eating?Like, every time? Has that ever been true, even once?

    I think not. But there is a strategy you can use for a good relationship with food, and it works all the time, and the world calls that “eating meals.” It works when you’re happy, it works when you’re sad, and it even works when you’re mad as hell and might decide not to take it anymore.

    PS You might be wondering but What about depression? What about being in love? Those are definitely experiences that always change the way we eat, but they're not emotions. They're states. Lots to talk about here. Let's do that soon.

  • Not every habit is worth breaking today

    Build a ladder instead.

    Start wherever you're actually willing to start.

    Now then! Body of Knowledge Weekly, a lightweight email accountability program, has been going for a couple weeks now. Something I’m seeing that makes me proud, happy and extremely optimistic is the way everyone is focused on a few things. Nobody is planning to scale a mountain this week. Everybody has a short list of actions to take and habits to break. Most of them are VERY short lists.

    Which is an excellent plan and a great way to create early success. The kind of success you can build on for more success. And so on until things that seemed impossible are just … kind of impossible to remember as something that used to bug you.

    I don’t really like the idea that we self-sabotage. I’m not sure it makes sense to call the saboteur part “us.” But I’m acquainted with the behavior we mean when we say self-sabotage. And one of the most effective ways to build in a self-destruct mechanism to any change plan is to overestimate what’s possible. To decide that you should be able to do - every day - something that a pro pulls off once in a blue moon.

    So when you’ve got your eye on a whole cluster of habits, think instead about where you’d get the most leverage. That for me is what I’m actually WILLING to do. Something that has a chance of happening - even if it’s hard. Because it will be, some of the time.

    But something that will actually happen is something we can build on. Something that doesn’t have a chance of happening, or can’t happen until some other stuff happens first, is nothing to build on. That’s just a crater of depression waiting to happen.

    So if you’re kind of in a pit, forget about reaching for the stars. Start building a ladder. Ask what you want to do, what you’d be willing to do, what’s worth doing.

    And if you’re having trouble with that list, back into itAsk: What am I NOT willing to do?

    If you’re honest about that, it’ll 1. build self-trust (often in short supply if you’ve spent any time dieting) and 2. spark a TON of ideas about positive places to start.

    Let me know what happens.
     

    You Have the Right to Remain Fat.

    Yes you do. And I can’t believe I forgot to mention this book by Virgie Tovar last week, when I talked about the authors I admire on the topic of fat phobia and bias. Virgie’s book is new, it’s smart, it’s funny and readable, and I recommend it.

  • Is it even OK to want to lose weight anymore?

    I ❤️️ this kid so much. 

    IDK how you feel about this Dutch youth-about-town. I am IN LOVE with him; not even kidding. I want to pinch him and hug him and tell him how adorable he is.

    From the entry on the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) website, I learned this: Like his father, the twenty-year-old Gerard Bicker is portrayed as self-assured, his arm akimbo. The striking differences in the garments worn by father and son confirm that they are from different generations. While his father Andries is dressed in dignified black clothing with an old-fashioned ruff, Gerard wears a colourful and showy outfit with a flat collar and elegant gloves. Gerard was not awarded as many key administrative positions in Amsterdam.

    Maybe it was his saucy fashion sense?

    Or maybe it was fat phobia.

    Fat phobia is something I think about a fair bit, because a lot of us have suffered its* effects, of which restricted access to "key administrative positions" are only one documented result. (*And I say "its" as if fat phobia is just floating untethered out there and might randomly knock us over, when, really, fat phobia is people.)

    Fat phobia and fat shaming do only harm. Prejudice and hatred are downright terrible ways to fuel change. They don't work. I am glad there are people in this world pushing back on fat hatred and phobia, and fighting for equal access to health care, work and other opportunities.

    Here's the thing though: As adorable as I find Gerard Bicker, and as much I think he and any other fat person on earth deserves love and respect for no reason at all, I don't think he looks very comfortable. I imagine he was not so healthy.

    And so I can't align myself with things like Health at Every Size (HAES), which is one of the most public ways people are responding to fat phobia. The contradiction is right in the name. Would any of us say that a woman so thin she doesn't menstruate is healthy? Health is clearly not possible at every size.

    We live in a world that's never going to praise us for our looks faster than it will tear us down - ask anyone from your mother to Madonna to Leslie Jones to Elton John. This is a world of unforgiving beauty standards, which is always drawing the veil of "health" over its obsession with thinness. We're right to be suspicious when claims like "I'm only concerned for your health!" are made.

    But what about those of us who are clear that health, weight and beauty are all different things? What about those of us who aren't seeking approval or trying to meet frankly impossible "norms" but are actually having a physical, self-contained experience of not feeling all that great in our body because we can feel it's really too big? 

    How can we feel okay about honestly wanting to shed some weight? How do we go about taking care of ourselves and our weight without feeling - and looking - like we're knuckling under to fat phobia and diet mania and compulsory weight limits and just plain mean people? Like we just let the world knock us down and keep us down? 

    Well, one way I like to do that is to never ever talk about what I eat and whyunless someone asks me first. And they need to ask because they're looking to help themselves, not me. If there were even a whiff of "concern over my health," I would shut that down so fast - although it's been years since anyone's had the nerve, and I doubt that's solely because of my now-normal weight.

    And this is one reason why I love the idea of EATING MEALS so damn much: you never have to talk about it. It's the stealthiest thing in the world! (I meannnnn. The main reason I love meals is that eating meals is the fastest, easiest way to stop disordered eating and start losing some weight.)

    I would certainly never ever offer a preemptive apology for eating. Hello, my name is Max, and I'm an ANIMAL! Animals EAT! Frequently, if the environment allows. So if anyone needed to talk to me about the crazy, crazy act of eating, I would be ready with a clapback.

    Oh does this seem like a lot? You should have seen what I had for breakfast, if you think this is a lot!

    That kind of talk, it just sounds like sovereignty. People recognize it - bullies clock it especially quickly - and before you know it, they just start looking for softer targets. It's quite predictable.

    So if you decide you never have to justify or apologize for eating, well then you're ipso facto eating for yourself. And if you eat for yourself, and just give your body what it needs, it will give you back what you need. Beauty standards and self-hatred are nowhere in this picture. You get to feel yourself - from the inside - instead of trying to control what you eat so you can control the size of your body so you can control how people treat you so you can feel okay. 

    You just already feel okay.

    So! That makes this a few thoughts on a very big matter. People like Susie Orbach and Lindy West and Roxane Gay have written whole books on this topic, and there's much to talk about. I'd really love to hear what you think about it. Just hit Reply. 



    * You know, I'm not actually sure that Gerard would have suffered from fat-shaming back in the day 1642. Beauty standards, obviously, are not fixed throughout history. They've seldom been more narrow than they are now, though.

    PS  New program: Body of Knowledge Weekly, aka accountability for sovereign adults. It started this week and 50 of you are having fun already with it. See all the details here, and if you're looking to make habit change easy this year, join us.

    Image: Portrait of Gerard Andriesz Bicker, Bartholomeus van der Helst, c. 1642, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

  • Accountability: Not the same as a bad boss

    The complicated meanings of weight loss.

    The above is what I want to talk about next week, when we return to our normal schedule. I am really keen to have a conversation about what it means to lose weight or want to lose weight in a culture of fat-shaming and rigid beauty standards. And I'm especially curious to hear what you are thinking. If you're also already contemplating these contradictions, hit me. I'm all ears.

    And if you're one of the many new people here this week, greetings! Super happy to have you.

    Accountability is not like babysitting.

    Sometimes when we hear that word "accountability" it reminds us of bad bosses, cumbersome goal-setting, stupid software and above all stuff we never wanted to do in the first place. Burdens.

    BODY OF KNOWLEDGE WEEKLY IS NOT LIKE THAT.

    This kind of accountability program is a partnership between sovereign adults. Thus, you will be using it to report on what's happening with the actions you most want to take, the habits you most want to cultivate and the outcomes you most want to see in your life.

    It's VERY WORTH DOING. This is a lightweight, near-magical process with a supportive, approving partner <- that's me. It should pay you back ten-fold, at least.

    The complete details are here. If you read that and have a question that isn't answered there, just contact me and ask away. I will get back to you quickly.

  • Accountability program details

    Body of Knowledge Weekly


    Many of you have asked for help with accountability over the years. AND IT'S TIME!

    As I am always saying, undoing a habit of binge eating can be quickly broken by giving yourself structure and freedom in the form of generous meals.

    I have seen this over and over and OVER. Women who binged daily for decades stopping after one session.

    And then they rode off on a bicycle through the French countryside with a baguette and a bunch of lavender in their basket < well NOT EXACTLY.

    No, what actually happens is they have to reinforce the new habit. Preferably with support.

    Then they discover other habits, second-cousin habits to the binge habit. Things like speed eating or too much sugar. They're ready to break those, too.

    They also find out they need and want to build new habits. Habits that support health and happiness and fitness and are 1000x BETTER THAN DONUTS IN EVERY WAY.

    And these things - replacing an entire set of habitual structures and losing some weight, if you're here for that - are not done overnight. But you can definitely shorten the time you spend if you get some support.

    So that's what I've got for you this week: A year-long accountability support program. All the details and sign-up here, or read on.

    Details (short version)

    It looks like this:  Once a week, on Friday (Saturday if you’re in Asia), you’ll get an email from me with some ideas for making habit change easier and more permanent. It WON’T take long to read. It WILL make your life better, because I will write with proven tips, shortcuts, solid research (and humor) to make you and your body happy.

    I will also ask you every week what's been happening. You'll tell me what you did over the week, and what you want to do over the coming week, and anything else you need help with.

    I will respond - to you, personally - and that is the simple process that brings your odds of success to 95% < AS CLOSE TO A GUARANTEE AS WE CAN GET.*

    Important to know: This program is personal and confidential. Obviously, everything between us stays between us. You should also know that you will never be judged, rated, graded or scolded. I run a very supportive program, no matter what.

    And everything that happens is learning. Everything that results is data. NO EFFORT WILL BE WASTED.

    And by the end of the year, you're going to have a mind-blowing record of accomplishment, momentum and UNBELIEVABLE CHANGE. So much more than if you'd continued to sort of think about changing. Details (complete version) and sign-up here.

  • The problem we CAN solve

    I’ve heard from a few more of you about current events this past week. One person said “You assumed I share your politics.”

    Quite the opposite! I assume we DON’T all have the same politics. I mean, I support Universal Basic Income.* I may be a bit nutty, but not so nutty as to assume that all 1,000+ of you do too.

    I DO assume we share some important values though. 

    I assume we share the value of sovereignty for women: autonomy, safety, opportunity, dignity and full humanity.

    I assume all of us want freedom from food and weight obsession as well as from the diet culture that fuels them.

    And because I have spoken with so many of you, I know we all value courtesy and kindness and generosity.

    And that is more than enough to be going on together with. So let’s keep going because we can't solve all the world's issues this week, but we CAN solve our eating problems, and we can actually do that rather quickly.

    Could you use some 1:1 coaching?

    Because maybe you're not the group type. Maybe you would prefer me all to yourself. Plenty do.

    See all the details here, and if it sounds like what you're looking for, hit Reply and let me know. We'll make a date to have a phone chat and make sure we're a good fit for each other.

    I'll say it again: BECOMING A NORMAL EATER is so much quicker and easier than we're told.

  • Every time we say Yes to something, we make it easier to say Yes the next time.

    Yes, and...

    A good friend has that phrase,Yes, and, tattooed on his inner wrist where he can see it. It's a reminder of how to approach life. It’s like the opposite of "Yeah, but..."

    For a habitual overeater, though, it’s a good reminder about choice. No Yes is a simple Yes. Yes is always Yes to this, AND its consequences.

    If I say Yes to chocolate cake for breakfast (a choice I have made on several occasions not limited to the day after my birthday), I am saying Yes to cake, AND probably Yes to a desire for more cake at lunch. Maybe I will say No to cake at lunch, but mostly I'd rather not have the discussion at all.

    I know I am also saying Yes to the temptation to say “screw it, I’m just gonna skip the salad and go straight to the cake” at lunch. Then I would be saying Yes to feeling sick, AND Yes to not wanting to work out or even take my walk.

    Maybe I'd be saying Yes to skipping dinner because I never want to eat again ever AND thus Yes to feeling like a slug the next day AND Yes to making it that much easier to say Yes to cake! for breakfast. Again. 

    And if it’s the 8th time this month I’m saying Yes to cake for breakfast, I’m DEFINITELY saying Yes to extra weight.

    And if it’s the 86th time this year, I’m saying Yes to increased risk of diabetes and some other health problems. 

    Freedom and sovereignty are crucial to overcoming overeating. We have to be able to say Yes in order to say No, or else we’re just caught in a cycle of rebellion and restriction. (Much like diets.)

    But we also have to know, fully, what we’re saying Yes to, since every time we say Yes to something, we make it easier to say Yes to it the next time.

    BECAUSE THAT'S HOW HABITS WORK.

    So I want to ask am I saying Yes to normal eating, or Yes to disorderedeating? What am I building for myself here?

    Image: Family Group near a Harpsichord (detail), Cornelis Troost, 1739, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

  • If stress eating is your response to the news 🍪 🍫 🍩

    WELL, THAT WAS A COUPLE OF WEEKS

    I have heard from you about how triggering the news in the US has been. How it's re-stimulated memories of abuse for some of you, and how you have been coping, or not coping. 

    And how coping / not coping may have involved some stress eating.

    SO. I have so much to say about all of this, but for today let's just talk about "stress eating." I've written before about St. Traci Mann, author of Secrets from the Eating Lab, whose experiments have shown that "comfort eating" doesn't actually comfort us.

    I go back and forth on this, though. Because it does and it doesn't. And when I go back and forth, I usually stop pacing somewhere in the middle of the situation.

    So I will advise this: Be kind to yourself, and let's be kind to each other. Those in power, it seems, have other plans. Therefore let us take charge of our experience in the basic, accessible ways we can.

    Here are some ways to do that around food:

    • Recognize that under extreme pressure, we may revert to old behaviors. During my Worst Year Ever, I actually slept with Clownie, my childhood crochet companion. I freely admit this! (Also you may have heard it first from Clownie, but whatever.) Don't beat yourself up about it. Self-administered beatings render us less powerful. And that's what They Want*. So DON'T PILE ON.
       
    • Recognize, too, that stress eating is not always the same as binge eating. Calling every damn thing a "binge" is kinda Piling On. Take it easy.
       
    • Get out ahead of this, and make sure you've got nourishing food that you actually like on hand. Don't get wedged in a corner with nothing to choose from but celery sticks, Rum Raisin and Fluff™. Because that would be PILING ON. They Might Want this, because industrial food = big profits.
       
    • If you feel an actual binge a-comin on, use the tools I've given you to calm your nervous system and then call a friend or email me. Don't hide out, because isolation so quickly spirals into shame which creates more isolation etc. and guess what? That's Where They Want you. Alone and paralysed. Easy pickins. Obviously, making it easy for them = PILING ON.
       
    • One of my favorite moves is to have a planned meal of things I find 1. wonderful treats and 2. genuinely comforting. For me, usually fancy cheese and fancy crackers. (This weekend in New York I got an Epoisses for SO CHEAP at the French Cheese Board, which exists just to promote French cheese. Prices reflect this!) When the meal's over, it's over. The next meal will have more fresh food and more protein, but since I can have cheese and crackers any old time, there's no Last Supper impulse. Because Last Supper eating is just Piling On and would only result in shame, and I don't need that. Neither do you.
       
    • If you cannot stop yourself piling on, GET HELP of an ongoing nature. Coaching, therapy, a group of friends that meet regularly. Books and emails are great. But there's so much momentum available when we do this work with each other.

    And speaking of doing this work with each other: Over the years, many of you have asked for accountability. Ongoing accountability of a nature that's more sustained than what we can do in a few weeks of coaching. So I am making that available. It will be affordable and accessible. And I will have details for you next week.


    * You know who "They" is for you. Might be the Inner Critic. Could be an External Critic. 



    Now then, a recipe adapted from 
    Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at LucquesIf I could only have one cookbook for the rest of my life, I wouldn't even have to think it over. Suzanne has been my desert island companion for over a decade.


    The first time Mr Jones and I made this recipe it took over three hours with two of us cooking. Now I can do it on my own in about one hour. That's with all of Suzanne's ingredients, which include many more than this simplified version below. Sometime, for a proper Sunday lunch, you should try hers.
     

    (The Busy Person's) Torchio with Cavolo Nero (serves 2, and is easily doubled or tripled or...)

    Ingredients
    • 4 oz (dry) torchio-type pasta. I like Sfoglini trumpets, and also the torchio made by Rustichella d'Abruzzo. NB: I will often use leftover pasta for this dish. Makes a blindingly fast home-cooked meal.
    • 6-8 oz cavolo nero, aka black kale, lacinato kale, and Tuscan kale
    • olive oil
    • 1-2 anchovies
    • 1-2 cloves of sliced garlic
    • pinch of dried chile flakes
    • salt and pepper
    • Italian parsley

    1. Cook the pasta al dente and set aside.
    2. Strip the kale from its stems and microwave for a couple minutes until wilted. Squeeze the moisture out and chop it into pieces 3" or so.
    3. Heat a skillet and pour in some olive oil. Add the anchovies and emulsify them by stirring into the oil.
    3. Add garlic, chile, salt and pepper, kale and pasta to the pan, adding more olive oil if necessary.
    4. Cook until the kale is blackened in spots, and the fried pasta is crunchy in spots <- so good!
    5. Sprinkle with parsley.
    6. Optional: Suzanne dresses hers with breadcrumbs sautéed in olive oil, and a currant relish. If you have the time, these are very worthwhile adds.

  • What science knows about obesity

    But doctors ... don't?

    In case you haven't seen this piece in the Huffington Post titled Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong, you're going to want to check it out. (Thank you Jessa Crispin, host of the Public Intellectual podcast, for pointing me to this article.) 

    In short, it reminds of us two very important things that much of the medical profession ignores: That dieting causes weight gain in 98% (or more) of cases, and that "ideal" weight and health are not the same thing. Often, they don't even correlate.

    But what happens if you're visibly fat and you go to the doctor? As the article details,

    1.  Most of the time, the doctor tells you to diet.
    2.  In many cases, he or she may also chalk up whatever symptoms you have to obesity, and tell you to lose weight first. (See no. 1.) This can be true even when symptoms are caused by cancer or shingles or simply from the stress of being fat in a fat-hating society.

    So diet culture hasn't loosened its grip much on medicine, but there are alternatives to dietingif you want to change the way you eat and what you weigh, and resist dumb stuff, aka dieting, that's never going to work. I have a cheat sheet that's a great place to start

    I'll also have another workshop coming up, probably in January. We had a good time together demolishing our eating problems this past weekend, and you might want to get in on the next one.

    You can sign up here to get early notice - and a discount - when registration opens.

  • What I wish people knew about food, eating and having a body

    Today in my women's entrepreneur group someone asked: What are some interesting things you know because you do the particular thing you do, that you think would benefit the world if more people knew them?

    Here's my answer:

    I wish everyone knew that we are NOT born knowing what, when and how much to eat. All animals learn from their mother how to eat. 

    This wisdom - knowledge like bitter things are good for you, beans and rice are great together, the best blueberries are over there and cleanliness is important to making cheese - has been collected in human cultures for millennia. 

    Anglo-American culture has lost a lot of this wisdom. To regain it requires not that we go inward to regain some mythical infantile wisdom, but that we look at what cultures that are still sane about food do. Shortcut to this that I wish everyone knew: EAT MEALS. When the meal's over, stop eating. 

    And find all the ways to make meals nice, like eating with other people, instead of at your desk or on your way to the gym or over the sink. Don’t look for ways to move food and eating to the periphery of your life, thinking you pay it too much attention. Pay more attention.

    Food IS love. Food IS life. 

    As to body sanity, I would borrow my Zen teacher's maxim: Believe nothing, question everything, don't take anything personally.

    What are you being told? Question it. Follow the money. Who benefits? What is the ultimate source of this information you have about how your body ought to look and perform?

    Ask if the ideal you're being asked to work toward is achievable by anyoneShortcut to the answer: IT AIN'T.

    Guess what? 1. the goalpost is *always* being moved because capitalism is powered by human dissatisfaction <- a longstanding condition observed for thousands of years, seems to be part of who we are and 2. an important component of the "ideal" body is YOUTH and are we getting any younger?

    WE ARE NOT.

    Finally, I wish both women and men knew that the reason we strive to reach these culturally imposed ideals - the reason beyond our brain's tendency to dissatisfaction and its exploitation by drug companies, publishers, "beauty" companies, surgeons, street-corner flimflams and everything else - the reason we strive is a biological imperative. Our first order of business here, after survival, is to reproduce. We want to attract mates.

    But how many of us turn down perfectly good opportunities for sex to go to the gym? Lots of us! We go to the gym -> so we can "be fit" but really -> so we can lose weight -> so we can buy cute jeans -> so our bum will look good -> so we can attract mates -> so we can reproduce.

    I'm here to tell you: That's going all the way around the world for a carton of milk. You can just go to the corner store! We can attract mates all up and down the scale. Expensive procedures not required.

    (But I also want you to know you should still go to the gym to be strong! Especially if like me you have any risk for osteoporosis.)

     😘 

    But the #1 thing? Definitely meals, and I know how DURRRR that can sound. Common sense, right? But the truth is the habit of eating meals is surprisingly uncommon.


    Thus, it's one of the first things I teach people. Gets rid of a good 80-90% of compulsive eating. So we will talk about it in my upcoming Body of Knowledge workshop taking place this Saturday September 29th. 

    Also about how to get rid of what remains of your out-of-control eating which is likewise easier than you've been led to believe.

    If that sounds good to you, please join me for my last workshop of 2018. All the details are here.

    Image: Portrait of Arnoldus van Rijneveld, Louis Tocqué, c. 1738, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

  • Answers to your questions about Body of Knowledge workshop

    Some readers have had questions about the Body of Knowledge workshop.

    Here are the answers, in case you too were wondering.

    Q:  What if I've done your workshop before? Will it be useful to do it again?

    You can totally take the workshop again. There's always new stuff, although the core principles have not changed. And I'll be delighted to see you.

    If you're in need of fresh inspiration, you will find it here. 

    Q:  I can't be there live on the 29th. Can I still do the workshop?

    Yes, of course! I'll have everything for you - video and audio recordings, slides, the famed one-pager cheat sheet, maybe some other stuff - within 24 hours, if not much sooner. You will not miss anything, and if you want to make sure we cover your specific questions, just email them to me and we'll address them.

    PS you won't be the only one. There's always more people who watch later than can be there live.

    Q:  [Some other person's workshop] didn't work for me. Is yours going to be any different? Will it ... actually work?

    What I do is pretty different from almost everything else. And it works UNBELIEVABLY well.

    But you should know a few things: My way of eating results in happiness, sanity and measured weight loss. You will not drop three dress sizes by next week. You will stop bingeing right away.You will become a normal eater immediately. 

    If that sounds good, please join us. So much relief is waiting for you.

    Q:  Do you have a specific set of eating guidelines? Like, is this a diet?

    This method is emphatically NOT a diet! Nothing is forbidden. Nothing is prescribed. I repeat: THIS IS NOT A DIET.

    Q:  What are we going to actually do?

    I'm going to show you the fastest way to demolish food obsession. It's simple, it's easy, it's got two moving parts, there's almost nothing to remember, there are almost no rules, and there will be zero confusion. You're going to learn the most flexible, sustainable, invisible way to eat normally forever. You're going to learn the simplest, quickest, most direct way to dismantle the binge habit ever. You're going to be able to ask me anything, and get all your questions answered.

    Best of all: It feels good right away. There's no white-knuckling, no teeth gritting, no praying desperately to make it through, no getting a plain espresso when everyone else is getting gelato, no trying to tell yourself bullshit like nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels < I meannnn we all know that's a lie, and the dum-dum who said it never tasted passionfruit soft-serve in an activated charcoal cone, that's for sure.

    And you know what else? You'll never again have to choose between happy with what you eat and being happy with your body < OMG SO GOOD!!!

    Q:  What's the difference between the workshop and your private coaching?

    My private coaching is 1:1 time between the two of us over an extended period, plus unlimited email between sessions. We have time to really get into your particular situation. And for some people, the accountability piece is very important.

    But I don't hold back any secrets from workshop attendees, and the method I present is the same. The workshop is a great affordable alternative to private coaching.

    If that sounds good to you, please join me for my last workshop of 2018. All the details are here.

  • It's never about diets

    I'm annoyed about diets today.

    And want revenge on them. So I’m going to tell you a little story about the time I was pregnant with Son no.2, and in one of the worst job cultures I’ve ever experienced. 

    This was 20+ years ago. It was the middle of the winter, and I had a brand-new job, and a crap commute. And I was big, and uncomfortable, and I had to pee all the time. And unlike with Son no. 1, I was never not starving. 

    My job was kind of stressful, mostly because the culture was such a bad fit for me. It was a very small company, family owned, lots of in-laws and cousins and whatnot, and everyone knew each other. And liked each other, pretty much. And ate lunch together.

    Every single day.

    But they didn’t go out to lunch. They went to the conference room for lunch. Everyone, together, same time, every day, trooped into the conference room with their sack lunches. It was like being back in primary school. 

    (Perhaps I have not told you: I grew up partly in Albuquerque. And back in the day, in Albuquerque, if you brought a sack lunch, you had to sit at a SPECIAL TABLE. With the four other loser kids and their sack lunches. I’m sure this was a highly effective method of selling more school lunch, because nobody wanted to sit at that table off in the corner with us loser kids.

    Once in a great while my sister and I would get money for a hot lunch and man, those lunchroom burritos were actually really good! But the truth is, our family didn’t have money for regular school lunch, and that is why I never forgive a restaurant that doesn’t deliver a better meal than homemade, and why I will never not be overjoyed and pinching myself to eat at a place like Daniel.)

    Anyway, back to the job that reminded me so much of grade school. These women would march into the conference room, unpack their sack lunches, and here’s what would happen next: They would eat their lunch while talking about their diets.

    Ugh. Just SHOOT ME.

    Note that of course they didn’t call their diets "diets." Even in the 90s everyone knew not to call it a diet already.

    It was called “eating healthy.” “Taking care of yourself.” Perhaps “saving money.”

    One of the women there ate the same thing every day: a little cup (not a whole culinary measuring cup! a little cup) of cottage cheese and a half grapefruit. And not a broiled grapefruit with brown sugar and a maraschino cherry, either. (A dish due for a comeback, because you know how fashion works.) Anyway, NO! Not a broiled half grapefruit, but a COLD one. In the middle of winter. 

    Every. Dadgum. Day < also that woman was my boss

    Reader, even though I was hormonal, starving all the time, and about as emotionally controlled as a character in Fast and Furious XXVI: Groundhog Day, I held my tongue. I did not educate those ladies on why Fat is a Feminist Issue and why diet culture is sucking the life out of half the planet. 

    I just got out of that job as fast as I could, or in about two months, which is pretty darn fast for a visibly pregnant lady with a skinny-ass resume. But it was a long two months from the inside, I can tell you that.

    So! I say all this to say, in case you are one of the people who worry that what I do for a living is package up diet culture and make it look like a layer cake, I say NO.

    Dieting cannot be what LIFE is about, dieting is not what am about, and dieting is most definitely not what my WORKSHOP is about. 

    There will not be dieting. There will not be talk of dieting.

    Instead, there will be pleasure, there will be feeding ourselves, there will be getting enough of everything we need, there will be self-trust, there will be laughs, there will be surprisesrelief and an end to bad habits, an end to obsession.

    And an end anything else related to food or weight that's standing in the way of your PERFECT FREEDOM around food, weight and eating. 

    If that sounds good to you, please join me for my last workshop of 2018. All the details are here.

  • Let's take care of this eating thing once and for all

    Body of Knowledge workshop is open for registration! SIGN UP HERE.

    As promised last week, the details:

    The workshop takes place on Saturday, September 29, 2018, from 10am Eastern to 1pm (ish) Eastern.

    If you are not available at that time, NEVER FEAR. Everything will be recorded, and you will receive all recordings, notes and slides within 24 hours. You will also be able to ask me anything, and make sure your personal questions get answered in the seminar.

    But I hope you can be there live, because it will be a GOOD TIME. And you will get EVERYTHING YOU NEED to become a normal eater that same day. You need never binge again. And I really doubt you'll want to.

    Anyway, the workshop filled quickly last time, and I'm going to try and cap attendance at 50 participants. So if you've been waiting for this since May, this is your chance.

    Here's that link again for registration and all the details.

  • Interview with Sarah Bamford Seidelmann

    I can't believe I forgot to post this interview I did with the extremely fun Sarah Bamford Seidelmann:

    You can get more of the multi-talented Sarah on her YouTube channel and her website.

    💗

  • Clean Slate Club

    A fresh start, as often as you need it

    Whenever you're trying to establish a new habit, there's a startup period where 1. things are awkward and difficult and you 2. fail to do the new habit perfectly.

    We fall down, we have some feelings, and we pick ourselves up again. And again.

    For some people, the trouble is that they wait too long to begin again.They might wait until Monday morning. In extreme cases, they might wait until January 1.

    And this is no way to establish a new habit because lots of repetition is what's required to form a new habit pathway in the brain. We need to "fall down seven times; get up eight," and do it rapidly.

    (I mean! It's hard to get up, so if we can avoid falling down, all the better. But we can't always avoid it.)

    Gretchen Rubin, in her book Better Than Before - which is all about habits - recommends we divide the day into four periods: Morning, midday, afternoon and evening. No need to wait until Monday or heaven forbid January 1. You can clean your slate and start fresh in a few hours. 

    I like this because I typically eat four times a day (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner). I suggest the same to my clients who come to me either skipping a lot of meals or eating all day long. Regular meals is a time-tested model in use all over the world. It completely stops you getting hangry.

    But I also love it because if you eat imperfectly (it can happen), or even "totally BLOW it" at one meal, you can have another go at it in just a few hours. 

    If you're not already eating meals - and in my experience so many women aren't - that's my #1 pro tip. Try it out! Let me know how it feels to have a clean slate four times a day.

  • The perfect diet: WHAT'S THAT, anyway...

    What's the best thing for me to eat?

    Lots of people ask me what they should be eating. And oh! how I love to answer that question, even when there's a much better question to ask.

    (In fact, you can count on me to answer this question in the future, lots more times. I'll do it by the end of this newsletter.)

    Anyway, here’s what I know: We can tinker forever trying to put together a “perfect” way of eating, salting our diet liberally with discouraging post-failure bingey eating

    OR 

    we can just resign ourselves to reality, which is that there is no perfect diet, and we’re always going to be experimenting to some degree, which means that there will always be failures.

    And is that SO WRAWWNG? as Harvey Fierstein might ask. Answer: No!

    If we can stop aiming for A+, and start aiming for B-, which we can probably hit most of the time, we will see progress. We will stop taking two steps back for every two steps forward. 

    Over here I am having a D++ week. I just got back from a week on the road to a family emergency. But I don’t want to EAT at a D+ level, so it’s going to be a week of minimum-standard meals for minimum effort. Because consistency is more important than anything else for a person trying to break the grip of a nasty habit. Habits like OH ARE THINGS HARD? HERE HAVE THIS WHOLE THREE-LAYER CAKE. That one's always waiting for me to have a bad week.

    I suggest you too put together a repertoire of acceptable meals for pear-shaped weeks. 5 ingredients, 5 minutes active work, all the macronutrients. That's all you need, at bottom. We’ll talk more about these soon, but for today here’s my favorite, from the late poet Ronald Johnson. He calls it “Thing.” 


    THING (makes one serving)

    from Ronald Johnson, The American Table

    potato, cubed fine
    oil for frying (for me that’s olive, The End, and I like a lot)
    1 scoop of 4% cottage cheese
    2-3 green onions, sliced fine on the diagonal
    salt and pepper
    • Heat the oil in a heavy pan over med-high flame.
    • Add the potatoes in a single layer and season.
    • Leave them for 5-8 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden on the bottom, and then flip over with a spatula. They should be stuck together, making turning them easy.
    • Turn the heat down to medium, season again and cook another 5 or so minutes, until the potatoes are as done on the bottom as you like them.
    • Lift the potato thing onto your plate, top the hot potatoes with cold cottage cheese, and sprinkle the green onions on top. Turns out salt’s not bad for you, so if you want, put some more on. 

    You will like this dish! 


    Okay, I'm going to put together some more B+ recipes. They will be nourishing but not strenuously so. Easy, quick, short list of ingredients. If you want to contribute, hit me with your favorites, and I’ll put them together for all of us.

    PS I’m back from vacation and filling my calendar. Want coaching? See all the details here, and if it sounds like what you're looking for, use the contact form to let me know. We'll make a date to have a phone chat and make sure we're a good fit for each other.

    Really, it is so much quicker and easier than we're told.

    PPS  Looking forward to the next Body of Knowledge class? It’s coming in September. DETAILS NEXT WEEK.
     

    Image: Jonge vrouw met een kool, Bernard Picart, after Jean-Baptiste Santerre, 1701, Rijksmuseum.

  • What's behind the "obesity" crisis? A whole lotta smart money is what.

    Today in the Guardian there was a piece on the obesity crisis.

    I know, I know. 

    (My last job before I hung out my shingle as a weight loss / binge eating coach was working for the Harvard Public Affairs and Communications office, where we published new "obesity" findings seemingly every week. And these pieces were very popular. Like, a lot more popular than other amazing research, of which there is a ton at Harvard. This drove me nuts.)

    Anyway, the Guardian article is pretty different from what we usually see. So far from fat-shaming and offering just-do-it-just-diet solutions, it looks at the problem of weight gain in whole populations. And the author points to systemic causes like [spoiler!] capitalism. An excerpt:

    "...food companies have invested heavily in designing products that use sugar to bypass our natural appetite control mechanisms, and in packaging and promoting these products to break down what remains of our defences, including through the use of subliminal scents. They employ an army of food scientists and psychologists to trick us into eating more than we need, while their advertisers use the latest findings in neuroscience to overcome our resistance.

    They hire biddable scientists and thinktanks to confuse us about the causes of obesity. Above all, just as the tobacco companies did with smoking, they promote the idea that weight is a question of “personal responsibility”. After spending billions on overriding our willpower, they blame us for failing to exercise it."


    Obviously, there's still a lot we can do to manage our weight and health, like taking control of our own food supply and making the best choices that time and money will allow

    But we still live in a world that was largely made before we got here, and being reminded of that does a lot to get rid of shame. It's very helpful to have smart systems thinkers point out the layers beyond the individual.

    Here's the full piece by George MonbiotWe’re in a new age of obesity. How did it happen? You’d be surprised

  • End your vacation the same size you started

    Still a little summer left in the year...

    A reader asks:

    "Words of wisdom needed. I’m headed to [exciting destination] next week. So much great food! Special! Delicious! Free (sometimes)! My overeating voice will tell me it’s sad! to miss out. I’ve been doing great at home, eating well and reasonably and losing weight. I’m aiming for the middle way and scoping out great salad places as well as the classic carb-butter fests. What strategies can you share?"

    For all of you who still have vacation plans this year, here are a few things to think about: 

    0. You're an adult so you get to choose anything. Do so within your structure (regular meals, or What and When), so that you have a balance of structure and freedom. That's how you reinforce the habit of adult decision-making around food - so much more useful than looking to an outside authority like a diet author.

    On holiday, everything is disrupted. That's why we lose things in our hotel room. That's why we sometimes feel like we need a vacation after our vacation - we went thinking we were going to get a nervous system reset, and we didn't, because we had to think about EVERYTHING! That can be exhausting.

    And what do bingey overeaters do when their cognitive load is too great? Exactly. We start eating too much, eating chaotically, eating crap and we tax our overloaded brains even more.

    So have something to hang onto. Make your choices, but plug them into a structure you're already hanging onto.

    1. Free food costs ya big, if it's low quality and high calorie. If FREE = GOOD is one of your unquestioned rules, that's an excellent association to demolish. Think about some free things that are total crap, like another religion's subway literature. Come up with five counterexamples to reinforce the idea that FREE = NOT SO GOOD.

    2. If a dish is truly special - and test that up against your own benchmarks - and you're really going to enjoy it, do so without guilt. Please set benchmarks for your big categories. So one of mine is breakfast pasty. When I come face-to-face with a breakfast pastry, I ask myself, Does this look as good as the homemade croissants you can get on Sunday mornings at The Kitchen in Boulder? That are the size of a Dungeness crab? No? Then let's move on, and make some croissants chez nous.

    3. If in retrospect it wasn't that special or you didn't really enjoy it, make note. If you realize while you're eating that's it's not special after all, push it away. Be picky. You don't have to be picky at every meal - although don't let me stop you if that seems good - but you do want to be picky if you're on holiday in a special place where you're on a mission to eat that place's special things.

    3a. Important note! Research has shown that people who have a special mission for their vacation have more fun. It's like a treasure hunt. I had the best time you can in imagine in Lisbon looking for an oil can for a friend, who'd made this special request. Not an easy mission! And in the end I found the oil can in the most unexpected place. I am sure I would have had equal fun looking for the perfect lemon tart.

    4. If it's a take-it-or-leave-it thing for you, leave it, every time. Make space for something better. Trust that better thing will be there.

    5. Keep in mind this simple formula: 3:1. That's how many days of conservative, careful eating it takes to make up for a day of liberal eating. And I'm not talking about a Thanksgiving-style feast day - just a more indulgent day, the kind you know you can't have regularly without gaining weight and feeling low and slow. 

    I don't have the science on this one. My ratio may be a little off. But we've all noticed it. It's easier to STAY up than to fall down and get up. So, as Gretchen Rubin writes,* try to avoid stumbles, or doing anything you haven't calculated the risk and reward for.

    One last thing: While you're in a vacation frame of mind is the best time to start thinking about your next vacation. Maybe pick something out before you go home. It's always good to have things to look forward to.

    And HAVE FUN.

    🌴

    * In Better Than Before; highly recommended.

  • Last night I spent 3 hours in Beyoncé's presence

    Hi friends! I’m recovering from Beyoncé today.

    That is if Beyoncé is something you could or would even want to recover from. As she herself sang last night, Tonight I'm *&$%ing up all your sh*t, boy. 

    Which is what Beyoncé does, and which is what I came for. To get my sh*t thoroughly *&$%ed up (which is, to be clear, something I love WHEN I CHOOSE IT FOR MYSELF).

    Anyway, it's going to take me a lot longer to absorb everything that On The Run II was, but here's one thing that was obvious, is obvious and still bears repeating:

    BEYONCÉ IS A QUEEN.

    She is a regal queenly presence. And that is not just the result of working hard and grinding til she owns it, because we all know grinds who don't have it. It also doesn't just naturally come with Goyard all in the closet, because we all know rich people who don't have it. And it isn't because she performs in a purple cape, because, well, you know.

    I think Beyoncé's queenliness is a decision. I think it rests on a rejection of everything in the world that says

    • to rule you need to be white and male and
    • to be beautiful you have to have a thigh gap and
    • to be happy you need to bypass hard feelings and
    • to go after what you want makes you a bitch.

    I think at some point Beyoncé decided she was going to be the sovereign in her world, and she didn't wait for someone else to give her the charter. She put the crown on her OWN head. And everything about her reflects that. 

    (And then she became the sovereign of everyone else's world too, haha.)

    So this week I want to ask you how you might put your own crown on, today and every day. How you might cultivate your own queenliness. How you might stop begging the world to anoint you. And tell me about it! I'd love to hear. JUST HIT REPLY.

    PS  If you aren't sure where to start in your realm, I suggest devaluing the currency of unworthy things like compulsory thigh gaps. 

  • How do you talk about your body? 🙊

    Hi friends! I’m back from Mexico, rested and well-fed.

    (Extremely well-fed. Thank you, chefs of Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende! Many of the places I visited, like Cicatriz CafeContramar and Inside Cafe, are headed by women. It makes a difference to me, and I think one can tell.)

    Anyway, I had my birthday while I was there. I don’t usually make a big gesture or do a Grand Plan or anything, but this year, inspired by the women I observed around me, and the friend I was visiting, Megan Dietz, author of the indispensable Be Less Crazy About Your Body (you can get this for f r ee), I decided to give myself the gift of a year without body hatred. 

    Maybe that sounds impossible to you. I think it’s a challenge, but it’s also simple. I just meant - and I really pledged this to myself - that every time I had an impulse to say something unkind about my body, in whole or in part, instead I would not. If I had nothing nice to say, I would say nothing at all.

    And even every time I had an unkind thought about my body, I would clock it and stop it. Acknowledge, snap it in two, and throw it on the bonfire of shitty thoughts, to be burnt up and the heat distributed anywhere there are beings who feel a little chilly.

    I do that in the traditional Buddhist way I was taught: by labeling the thoughts. If you want to do this yourself, you can label those thoughts as “thinking.” You know, as a reminder that “thinking” and reality are different. A thought that your thighs are [some kind of way] is - CRUCIALLY - NOT THE SAME as actually having [censored] thighs.

    Sidebar: One snowy day I was walking through the woods and realized that almost all of my thinking falls into half a dozen categories. (This is known in the literature as an “insight.” Insights are just so different from one’s repetitive thinking.) A big category of thinking for me is what I'm calling “hate speech.” Thinking not-nice things. Important sub-categories: Hate speech, Othering and Hate Speech, Self.

    So when I have the thought “My thighs are [censored],” I notice it, and I say, either out loud because that’s what crones do, or more often internally, because I live among humans that will mock me about one little things for years <- my children, I say: Hate speech, Self. Aka I SEE YOU, crappy thought! I am not getting on your crappy train.

    You may feel like body hate speech is happening without you noticing it. Well, that's in the past! I just messed that up for you right good. If you haven't noticed body hate speech happening before, you will now.

    And that’s enough to raise your consciousness and start undoing the self-hatred, which after all is just a habit, and thus can be changed. 

    Important! There is NO ARGUMENT against undoing self-hatred. Just NONE. Self-hatred doesn’t make you smarter, nicer, thinner, richer, less racist or more socially aware.

    So that’s my project for the year. No more free rein to body-based self-hatred. As the kids have begun saying, I shan’tDo you want to join me? We will HAVE A MUCH NICER YEAR TOGETHER.

Stop bingeing and overeating. Immediately.

Download your free cheat sheet now.