Put the Fun Back in Dysfunctional

Thanksgiving decorations.

There’s one in every family.

In my family, I’m pretty sure I’m it.

The eccentric aunt whose major contribution to any family gathering is Scotcheroos and a wildly active imagination that sets kids and canines alike off on something akin to an out of control sugar high.  Admittedly, it could come from the consumption of said Scotcheroos and scandalously unconventional ideas.

Bringing Bob into the fold has tempered this reputation a bit. Besides giving my nieces and nephew license to say “Bob’s Your Uncle” and run with it, he’s also brought his card sharkiness to the table, rivaling my maternal grandmother and striking fear in my father, my mother, and even my brother.

My devotion to the dogs has doubled as our pack has grown from just one or two to a whole slew. Our new puppy Ruby is beside herself when she gets to meet all of her canine cousins. Well, that, and the smell of so much food.

No doubt about it. Holidays can be harried. With family gatherings there are so many competing expectations and roles we unconsciously slip into. No matter how functional the front we show the outside world may appear, we all know our families are a wee bit dysfunctional.

So, in keeping with my Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge, let’s put the fun back in dysfunctional.

Instead of getting yourself all worked up about things that are out of your control, shake it off. That’s right. Let it go. Ignore it and repeat, “This, too, shall pass.”

Because here’s the thing. It’s Thanksgiving!

You can watch a parade on TV or there might be one in your hometown. If you’re not working in a service business or a retail store that opens its doors at 3pm or 6pm or midnight, you might just have the day off. Bonus!

It happens to be my favorite holiday and by far my favorite Thursday because it’s not about getting. It’s about Giving. Thanks.

And about eating some amazing food prepared by some of our favorite people.

As an eating psychology coach I beg you… Please do not obsess over the calories you are about to consume or how much you will need to exercise to work off the 3 pieces of pie you might mindlessly eat to avoid answering intimate questions about your life from meddling members of your extended family or their friends.

Instead, feast!

Savor the flavor of your favorite foods. Lean into conversations that allow you to learn something you don’t know about someone you think you do.

Take your time with the food that took hours to prepare. Allow this gathering of family and friends to nourish you.

When you do, you’ll find yourself filled up more with less food. You won’t overeat because you will have stuffed your turkey, not yourself.

If you don’t have big plans or can’t be with those you love, then love the ones you’re with. Even if it’s just your parakeet.

Some of my favorite Thanksgivings have been with only a friend or two.  When I lived in Santa Fe my friend Kaylock and I would put together a meal of whatever was available, walk up to the Cross of the Martyrs, and head out to a movie.

Another year I was so stressed I stayed in my pajamas all day until a friend showed up at 5pm with turkey slices from Walmart. He knew the best gift he could offer me at the time was breathing space. It was one of the most memorable Thanksgivings because it was so nourishing to do nothing.

How do you make the most of this holiday? If you are feeling frazzled or freaked out, how might you put the fun back in dysfunctional?

If you are a master of making the most of the holidays, I’d love to hear how you do it in the comments below.  Plus, I’d like to include your suggestions in our Here to the New Year Challenge that begins tomorrow.

Please sign up here to receive your daily tips along with a Holiday Survival Guide created just for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.  I’m especially grateful for you.

 

 

 

 

Stuff Your Turkey, Not Yourself

keep calm and gobble on background

It’s that time of year when the holidays have a way of hijacking our attempts at remaining calm and practicing healthy habits. Today I’ll be sharing some tips to avoid overeating and over-stressing over the holidays on Paula Sands Live.

Here are a few strategies to get you from here to the New Year in good cheer.

HALT and Plan Ahead

Making decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired usually leads to poor choices. Planning ahead when you have time to calmly think through your options and prepare healthy snacks will save your sanity by eliminating the emotional frenzy that comes with feeling famished.

Nourish Yourself Regularly

Contrary to popular belief, skipping meals or eating them on the run does not help you lose weight. In fact, it can lead to weight gain. Fueling yourself with whole, nutritious foods at regular intervals will help regulate your appetite, clear your mind, and keep you energized throughout the day.

Pace Yourself

Treat the holidays like an endurance event and train accordingly. Eating, drinking, or otherwise consuming your way through the holidays will only compound your stress. Take it one day at a time. If you blow it one day, don’t resign yourself to giving up until the New Year. Just begin again. Six weeks of bad habits is hard to overcome. Especially  when you can simply start over whenever you slip up. A new perspective is always one thought away.

Move Through Your Stress

Working out does wonders to help alleviate the stress that can accumulate at the mere thought of attending a party or preparing a family feast. Find a way to move that’s fun for you. It doesn’t need to look like exercise. Fire up your Wii Fit. Get out your bowling ball. Break out the ice skates. Rake up the leaves and then jump around in them. Recruit your family or a few friends to make it more likely you’ll stick to it.

Unplug and Get Enough Sleep

So much to do. So little time. Skimping on sleep will not only add to your stress but add to your waistline. Your body needs downtime to rest and repair. Unplug from your electronic devices in plenty of time to wind down so you have the energy to get up and face another day refreshed and rejuvenated. Never unplugging leaves you in an endless cycle of feeling wired and tired.

Be Grateful

Although the focus of Thanksgiving tends to be all about the food, it also includes the many people, things, and opportunities you have to be grateful for. If this is the one day of the year you look forward to feasting, by all means savor the flavor of your favorite foods. Do not obsess over calories. Feeling guilt or shame around food robs it of its pleasure. Take the time to be present and aware of what you are eating.  Get curious about where it came from, who prepared it, and the love that went into sharing it. Ironically, when you give a meal the time and attention it deserves, you end up feeling more nourished by less food.

When you reflect on how much you already have, you can resist the urge to fill yourself up with food, shopping, and other distractions. In other words, stuff your turkey, not yourself.

Join my Here to the New Year in Good Cheer Challenge starting on Black Friday and running right up to December 31st. Details to follow later in the week. Or email me at penny@wellpower.com for updates.

For now, keep calm and gobble on!

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Six Word Stories

AdobeStock_107749009.jpegIt’s Day 22 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is short and sweet. However, it will require reflection and a precise use of words. Today I’d like you to summarize your week in six words that tell a whole story.

Can you succinctly summarize your week?

By Friday nights, I’m usually fried. But I also like to look back on the week and ask myself what I’ve done, learned, regretted, or just didn’t see coming that catapulted me out of my comfort zone.

Just as learning to sketch things throughout the day invites me to look at the world differently, using six words to tell a story expresses the essence of an experience.

Last year for Community College Month we challenged our students to come up with six word stories. The results surprised and amazed us. So much said in so little.

You are up to the task. This will certainly spark your creativity. So let’s give it a try.

If you insist, I’ll go first. (Actually, I’ve been sprinkling six word sentences throughout this post already. Just check the last six sentences. Or anything in italics or bold.)

  • Puppy preparedness has preempted regular writing.

Or here’s a quick review of the restaurant we just came from.

  • Does scrumptious food trump questionable service?

Do you see how it works?  Now it’s your turn. You can definitely do this in 5-15 minutes.

Or if six words are entirely too few to express all that needs to be said, check out fellow blogger Edward Road’s eloquent posts at www.mytwosentences.com.

Share your stories in the comments below or email them to me at penny@wellpower.com.

 

Wiggle Room

smiley faces on a pair of feet on all ten toes (VERY SHALLOW DOF

It’s Day 6 of our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.

Today’s challenge might be the most difficult one yet for you diligent doers. Today’s task is to relax the reigns a bit and give yourself some wiggle room.

What?” you ask. “We’re just getting started and you’re already going soft on me?”

No. I’m just reminding you that we’re all human, stuff happens, and sometimes we have to open ourselves up to the possibility that we might not always have control over what gets done when. I call this moving at the pace of grace.

For example, while my brain had a list of what I would get done today, my body had an entirely different idea.

You see, last night I made the mistake of eating something that didn’t agree with me. At all. I tried walking it off and then sleeping it off, but somewhere around 1:49, 2:37, 4:18, or 5:55, I knew this was not an ignore it and it will go away situation.

Still I attempted to override my belly’s protests and go to work anyway.  A few hours later I found myself back home in bed.

Faced with the reality that I would not get nearly enough stuff done at work or at home, I decided to look at it from a different perspective.

I work at being as healthy as possible. I seldom think about how having an illness or a chronic health issue might hinder my ability to get stuff done, not to mention affect my attitude about having to do it in the first place.

But today, I got to feel what it’s like to try to bulldoze my way through some very specific physical and emotional feedback. It wasn’t one bit fun.

Whatever was going on in my digestive track wasn’t responding to more demands. It did, however, respond most favorably to rest and relaxation.

I am a certified eating psychology coach.  I encourage people every day to listen to and honor their body’s wisdom.

Practicing what I preach was today’s biggest challenge. I might have totally overlooked it if not for today’s forced detour.

What about you? Where might you relax the reigns on your expectations of yourself or other people? What unexpected situation brought about an insight or experience you may not have gained without it? How can you be kinder and more responsive to the feedback your body has for you?

Share if you dare in the comments below.

 

 

 

No Matter What – Day 7

Day 7 of the No Matter What Game.  Learn how you can play at the end of this post.

Grilled Salmon with fresh salad and lemon. Selective focus

G:  What are the most memorable meals you’ve ever had?

P:  As a newly certified Eating Psychology Coach, this is powerful question for  me.

Long before I understood what truly nourished me, I suspected it was as much the location, ambiance, awareness, the speed at which I ate, and the company and emotional content of the conversation I kept while eating as the food that was offered and its nutritional value.

Food is such a complicated thing. Representing all that is good, nurturing, and life sustaining as well as the reason we love to hate, blame, and shame ourselves, our relationship with food (which is often unconscious) defines us as much as anything we consciously chose to represent us.

When I decided over a year ago to change the way I’d been eating for the past fifty, things got ugly.  But having stayed the course now for fifteen months, I can tell you it’s the best thing I could have done for myself.

But that’s a story for another day, or quite possibly, another book.

Back to the question.  My most memorable meals usually involve salmon. I love salmon. I had the best salmon in the desert of all places.  Santa Fe, to be exact.  Santa Fe is also the home of Harry’s Road House and many a memorable meal.

Bob and I had an exquisite meal at a quaint little Mexican place in Bisbee, Arizona this past February.  Maybe it was because we were on vacation.  Maybe it was because we’d just been to a brewery and that made Bob happy.  Maybe it was because I was back in the Southwest and that made me ecstatic. Or maybe it just reminded me of Harry’s Road House.

When I’d visit my sister in southern California we’d go to a cute little diner for oatmeal. Not just any oatmeal.  Great oatmeal with brown sugar.

I also remember the oatmeal I ordered during the seminar where Gillian and I met in Los Angeles last January.  Each morning the waitress would come up to me and say, “Would you like the usual?”  This made me feel instantly at home.

The California-oatmeal connection would not be complete without mentioning the morning Bob and I had oatmeal and granola and fruits and nuts at a sweet café in Monterey before we went whale watching.

When our family took an Alaskan cruise I remember most of the meals on the ship, on the train, and on the bus.  Not because I had unlimited access to salmon, but because of the spectacular settings. And because I’d never known any place to charge $35 for macaroni and cheese before.

Sadly, the price does not guarantee how delicious a meal will be.  The apples off my family’s tree are pretty darn delicious and free for the picking. For a real treat and a limited time, nothing’s better than Merb’s caramel apples from St. Louis.

And if I mention apples I must also mention strawberries and how bananas I go over strawberry salads.  The best one I had was at the Hotel Desoto in Galena, Illinois.  And it comes with salmon. 🙂

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What about you?  Let your inner food blogger or writer out and leave your comments below.  Or if you’d like Gillian to send you a prompt so you can do your thing No Matter What, email her at www.gillianpearce.com.

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The Secret to Sustainable Success

front door standing welcome

I spent the better of Sunday pondering the secret to sustainable success as I sliced and diced and cordoned off portions of dietary staples for the upcoming week.

In terms of sticking to my new eating plan, the unequivocal answer is preparation. From shopping to chopping it’s all about the prep. This explains the impressive collection of colorful ceramic knives I scored for my birthday along with some bamboo cutting boards and mixing spoons.

Had you asked me a year ago if I would be spending weekends frequenting farmer’s markets, foraging around local food co-ops, attempting to plant an herb garden, figuring out how to compost, consorting with nutritionists, or getting needled by acupuncturists, I would have assumed you had me confused with my Santa Fe friends.

The truth is I didn’t embrace this lifestyle until recently when I discovered that eating well is the fundamental secret to success.

Please don’t confuse eating well with eating extravagant meals, preparing elaborate dishes, or coupling exotic spices with complicated and hard to find ingredients.

Eating well in my book means eating whole foods you can easily pronounce, readily find, and effortlessly digest.

We’ve gotten carried away with convenience, making it the number one reason we eat what we eat, when we eat it, even why we eat it.

I get it. We are busy people. Convenience soothes a stressed out soul.

But it wreaks havoc on our health. It was certainly messing with mine and I knew better. Yet I felt incapable of competing with its allure. Until I decided I must.

It’s been a year long journey into learning how to nourish myself. I’ve experienced as many setbacks as successes. But I am profoundly changed by the lessons learned and transformed by my training as an Eating Psychology Coach.

How I previously defined success has been seriously called into question. I didn’t spend forty years wandering around the desert only to get to my personal Promised Land and decide I liked it better where I came from because it was more convenient.

Oh no. There is no going back. Not even for mango margaritas.

I haven’t reached my Promised Land before because it’s incredibly hard to get here. It’s even harder to stay. Consequently, I’m determined to set up shop.

The secret to sustainable success is we are responsible for sustaining it. We have to pay attention and work with intention every day, course correct, scratch some of our best ideas, begin again, ask for help, be generous, have fun, and remember to give thanks for living in the land of milk and honey – even if it comes with a few mosquitoes.

I couldn’t have arrived here before because, admittedly, I wasn’t ready. If I got too distracted, hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, all bets were off. I had no healthy snacks and I had no Plan B – or options for the rest of the alphabet, for that matter.  In other words, I was not prepared.

I couldn’t recognize success for what it was because I couldn’t recognize myself for who I was becoming. Suffice it to say, it’s been a work in progress.

And now that work is cut out for me. It may appear to some as the same work I’ve been doing all along.  However, coming from a new vantage point makes all the difference.

After 8 months of intense training, I’m thrilled to be able to call myself an Eating Psychology Coach and passionately practice the work that’s been a guiding force throughout my life.  

In the next couple of months I’ll unveil my new website along with opportunities for you to join me in challenges and adventures that invite you to sustain your idea of success. 

Sound fun?  Hope so!  Leave your questions or suggestions in the comments below.

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How To Get Your Groove Back

Beautiful woman enjoying life

Long before Fifty Shades of Grey there was Stella.  And Stella had issues.

Despite her highly successful career, Stella had lost her mojo and was determined to get it back.

She was of a certain age and just not feeling as groovy as she once did.  So what did Stella do?

She did what any woman cast in a starring role opposite Taye Diggs would do.  She went to Jamaica and had a wild, passionate affair with this hunk of burning love.  She definitely brought her sexy back.

But that was Stella, played by the beautiful Angela Bassett, and her story was fictional.

Even if you could afford to whisk yourself away to a romantic locale and discover a smoking hot lover (surprisingly this may be the same person who snores beside you at home), often this kind of reboot(y) is a temporary fix.

What I’m looking for is the real deal.  If I’m feeling funky, frazzled, and fatigued, the farthest thing from my mind is suiting up in sexy lingerie and stilettos. (If you’ve seen my shoe collection, you know I’m taking creative license here.)

What I really want is for the brain fog to dissipate, the chaos to transform into clarity, and the fatigue to turn into sustainable energy.  While a powerful love connection can do that, so can understanding and practicing the basics of mind-body nutrition,  the phases of nourishment, and the soul lessons you came here to learn.

Yes, you read that right.  I went from sex to science to spirituality in six sentences.  Because you and I are whole beings and the only way to get our groove back is to stop pretending we aren’t and to get in touch with all of who we are, not just the easy parts.

One of the key concepts I’ve learned in my outstanding Eating Psychology Coaching program is we must step into our roles as kings and queens at midlife.  Staying stuck in our roles and princes or princesses does not serve anyone. It may be fun and it may be encouraged by our society at large, but evolving into our higher selves is really where it’s at.

What do I mean by becoming kings and queens?  I mean rightfully taking charge of and owning our challenges as well as our areas of expertise.  It means contributing to our communities, serving those we are uniquely equipped to care for, and understanding the  value of our experience, connections, and failures as well as successes.

It means we are no longer plagued with such silliness as, “Does this tiara make my butt look big?” or “Does this Jaguar impress you?”  It means we now have time to make sure others have safe drinking water or proper child care or the ability to read and write.

The best way to get my groove back is to get in touch with what I am passionate about and actively pursue it.  It may start out as a physical desire that turns into a mental pursuit that becomes a spiritual quest. Or it may just be all that at the same time.

This week I’m inviting anyone in or near my location to join me for an 8-week discovery into this topic.  I’m teaching a weekly class called “How to Get Your Groove Back” on Tuesday nights from 6-7:30pm at my workplace, Clinton Community College Maquoketa Center.  I would love to have you join me.  If you are interested, call me at 563-652-5000 and I’ll fill you in on the details.

If you don’t live near me, never fear!  This is Step One in the grand plan of creating an online course so you may take the class wherever you happen to be.

I am in the process of redesigning my website and offering several exciting options for you to participate in from free classes to 30-day challenges to group coaching. The plan is to have this ready by June 1, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, if you have suggestions or ideas about what you would like to see more of, let me know.  There is still time to develop these for you.

So, groovy guys and gals, share if you dare and leave your comments below.  Thanks so much for reading!