Monday, January 31, 2011
Can Bacon Be Part of a Healthy Diet?
Here's healthier bacon recipes and tips for bacon lovers. By Elaine Magee, MPH, RDWebMD Expert Column
It seems there has been a bacon explosion in America, in more ways than one. Bacon recipes are sweeping the blogoshere (like the famously fatty Bacon Explosion appetizer recipe). Fast-food chains are peddling double bacon burgers,
and upscale restaurants are wrapping steaks in bacon -- even adding it to chic desserts. That’s right; chocolatiers are sprinkling bacon bits in chocolate bars like they are almonds. It’s the old sweet and savory marriage of flavors that seems to work so well.
Although there's no arguing that bacon is a tasty treat, what about all that fat, sodium, and cholesterol? Is there any way for bacon to be part of a healthy diet?
Just How Unhealthy Is Bacon?
You probably won't be surprised to learn that 68% of bacon's calories come from fat, almost half of which is saturated. Each ounce of bacon contributes 30 milligrams of cholesterol (not to mention the cholesterol from the eggs that often accompany bacon.
Eating foods rich in saturated fats can raise your cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. And if those saturated fat-rich foods are also high in dietary cholesterol, cholesterol levels tend to rise even higher.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 7% of your total calories (that’s less than 16 daily grams of saturated fat for someone eating 2,000 calories a day). So under those guidelines, it might seem sensible to occasionally enjoy a small amount of bacon, or switch to turkey bacon, which is lower in fat and cholesterol.
But here's the bad news: When it comes to increasing the risk for certain cancers, things get downright scary for bacon lovers. Not only is bacon considered a red meat, it’s also a member of the dreaded "processed meat" group (even turkey bacon falls into this category. And NO amount of processed meat is considered safe to eat, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Processed meat is usually red meat preserved via smoking, curing, or salting and it includes many favorite American foods in addition to bacon:
• Ham ,Sausage, Hot dogs, Bologna, Salami, Pepperoni, Pastrami
Many researchers have concluded that regular consumption of processed meats may lead to higher risk for prostate cancer and several other cancers. That’s why AICR advises people to avoid all forms of processed meat until we know more about what it is specifically about processed meat that increases cancer risk.
It’s not clear how exactly processed meat raises cancer risks, but it might have to do with:
• Nitrates, which are often used as preservatives in processed meat, change into N-nitroso (compounds that promote cancer) in the meat and also in the gut when it is being digested.
• Carcinogenic PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) compounds can be produced during processing.
Want Bacon or Sausage With That?
OK, so the news about bacon is not all bad. Some restaurant breakfast entrees come with a side of bacon or sausage. And believe it or not, it’s usually best to choose bacon. Although both meats are high in fat and saturated fat, two links of sausage will cost you a bit more in calories and fat than three strips of bacon. Call it the lesser of two evils:
• 2 pork sausage breakfast links (45 g) have 140 calories, 12 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 7 grams protein, and 310 mg sodium.
• 3 hickory smoked bacon strips, pan-fried (26 g) have 120 calories, 9 grams fat, 3.8 grams saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 7.5 grams protein, and 435 mg sodium.
Bacon: One Ounce is Enough
Probably the best news about bacon it’s that one ounce is usually enough to sideline your breakfast, round out your BLT sandwich, or top your baked potato.
Even with the highest-fat type of bacon, 1 ounce adds up to 140 calories (the same as one cup of low-fat milk or two small slices of whole wheat bread). Choose a slightly leaner type (such as Oscar Mayer Center Cut Smokehouse Thick Sliced), and 1 ounce adds up to 105 calories and 7.5 grams of fat.
In the mid-1990s, bacon didn’t even make the top 15 food sources for total fat among U.S. adults, although sausage was No. 12 and eggs were No. 14, according to USDA dietary data. Bacon didn’t make the list of top 15 food sources of saturated fat either, but sausage came in at No. 12 and eggs, No. 15.
The Bottom Line on Bacon and Health
Don’t make bacon a daily indulgence. When you do treat yourself, keep the serving size small, and include antioxidant-rich fruits or vegetables in the meal whenever possible.
If you're a true bacon lover, cut way back on other processed meats to keep your total consumption of processed meat low.
If you want a lower fat and saturated fat pork bacon, choose from the center cut bacons, namely Oscar Mayer Center Cut Smokehouse Thick Sliced. If you want turkey bacon, try a few types until you find a brand you really like.
Here are three recipes featuring pork or turkey bacon in modest amounts: a salad, a popular appetizer, and a pasta dish. Each recipe contains at least one antioxidant-rich vegetable, too.
Salmon Cobb Salad with Light Dill Dressing
6 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk , 4 tablespoons light mayonnaise , 2 tablespoons minced shallot, 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice , 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper , Salad: 8 cups romaine lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces, 4 hard- boiled eggs, 4 ounces smoked or grilled salmon, skin removed, then flaked with fork into bite-size chunks, 1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced, 6 strips center- cut bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled . 4 SERVINGS
• In medium bowl, combine dressing ingredients with whisk. Cover and keep in refrigerator until needed.
• Place lettuce pieces in the bottom of a large salad serving bowl. Discard two of the yolks from the hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chop what’s left and sprinkle chopped egg over the top of the lettuce. Top with salmon pieces, avocado, and bacon bits.
• Drizzle dressing over the top and toss salad to blend well. Portion into 4 bowls and serve.
Nutrition Analysis: Per serving: 233 calories, 15 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 14.5 g fat, 3.3 g saturated fat, 6.5 g monounsaturated fat, 4 g polyunsaturated fat, 130 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 775 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 56%.
Light Potato Skins
4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed, baked or microwaved, then cooled slightly, About 2 teaspoons canola oil, 1/2 cup shredded, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, 4 strips Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon (or similar), cooked until crisp and crumbled into pieces, 2 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped , Garnish: light ranch dressing or fat-free sour cream (optional). 8 SERVINGS.
• Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a thick cookie sheet with foil.
• Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out most of the inside, leaving about 1/4-inch of potato attached to the skin.
• Brush the inside and the skin side of each potato half lightly with canola oil, and set it on the prepared pan, skin-side down. Bake in preheated oven about 10 minutes, until lightly brown.
• Place grated cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onions in a small bowl and toss to blend. Sprinkle evenly over potato skins and top with freshly ground pepper, if desired.
• Bake until the cheese is bubbly, about 8 minutes. Set potato skins on a serving dish and serve with light ranch dressing or fat-free sour cream if desired.
Nutrition Analysis: Per serving: 123 calories, 5 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 1.3 g fiber, 156 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 29%.
Pasta with Spinach and Bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well, 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or beef broth (vegetable broth can be substituted), 8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti (about 4 cups cooked and drained), Freshly ground pepper to taste, 2/3 cup grated or shredded smoked fontina cheese (or cheese of choice), 5 strips center-cut or turkey bacon, cooked until crisp and then crumbled. 4 SERVINGS.
• Begin heating olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and sauté for a minute.
• Stir in the spinach and continue to sauté for about 1 minute. Pour in the broth and continue to cook the spinach mixture, stirring frequently, until broth is almost evaporated (2-3 minutes).
• Stir in noodles and continue to cook mixture about 1 more minute. Turn off the heat, add black pepper to taste, and then sprinkle cheese and bacon bits over the top. Serve.
Nutrition Analysis: Per serving: 343 calories, 17 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 4.5 g monounsaturated fat, 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 358 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 29%.
Learn About Controlling Emotions*
Have you ever experienced situations where you wished that you were controlling emotions rather than be controlled by it?
Like when you lost your temper over a misunderstanding? Or getting upset over little things. Or becoming all tense and nervous when close to an attractive member of the opposite sex?
First off understand that emotions are there for us and serves us well. Emotions make our life more interesting and colorful. You don’t want to be without any emotion. That is not the goal here.
What we want is to acknowledge that emotions have a very important place in our lives. However just like anything else, too much of one thing makes it unhealthy.
Sometimes it is good to let emotions take control over us and guide our actions and decisions. Other times, it is better that we are the ones controlling emotions.
When dealing with emotions, don’t ignore it, avoid it, dismiss it, and especially don't suppress the emotions. Instead, we acknowledge its existence, and take note of what it is trying to tell us (the message), and move along by responding to the message in an objective manner.
Note : If you are suffering from emotional problems, please note that health problems such as sclerosis, hormonal imbalances etc may cause emotional instability. As such, in addition to trying out the tips contained in this website, you should also pay a visit to a M.D to check if the problems you are facing are actually due to medical imbalances or deficiencies.
This is how we do it……controlling emotions
Whenever you feel a surge of emotions coming over you,
immediately break your state. Disassociate yourself. Then become a 3rd party observing what is happening. Like watching a movie, or playing a computer game where you are controlling the character in the game. What is happening isn’t really affecting you, but rather the character you are playing in the game.
First… break the pattern & disassociate
The key is to break your pattern immediately, then go right into disassociating mode. One split second is all it takes for us to get sucked into the emotion. Emotion builds on momentum. The more you let it dwell, the stronger it gets. The more time you give it, the wilder it gets.
Break the state by saying or doing something that is totally bizarre and unexpected. The more bizarre the better. Make it so weird that it jolts even yourself. That your brain doesn’t know what to make of it. It sounds funny but it’s true. This is the first step in controlling emotions.
By doing this your brain goes ‘Whoa what is that? What just happened there? I have no idea. That was weird. Now what was it I was feeling a moment ago?’ Make it so bizarre that you brain loses track of what it was feeling for a while.
Doing this drains the initial power out of the emotion. You got the first attack and winded the emotion. Now what you need is to keep up the attack while you have this advantage and not let it get back into the fight. Quickly deliver the next few blows and knock it out.
And believe me that the emotion ain’t giving up yet. A short while after breaking your state, the emotion will try to come back into play at least once or twice. Be strong and stick to your game. Stick with the process and do another state break if needed.
There will be an urge to give in and let it take over. Think of it as swimming against the direction of the current in a river. Initially it is easier to give in and go with the flow. Just keep pushing. Once you start to get some momentum, it becomes easier and easier. After a while the current disappears and you will start to feel neutral about it.
Next, get curious
Ok got it? Now you are able to break the state and allow yourself to be a disassociated
3rd party observing what is happening. Next, neutrally just observe what is happening to you and what are the emotions you are feeling. Do this by asking these questions;
‘Hmmm….What is going on here?’ ‘Now I wonder what just happened?’
‘What is this character(you) feeling? 'Hmmm…What are his emotions now?’
Do this in a very objective and curious manner. Don’t make it personal, observe yourself from afar. Be curious and really wonder what is going through him/her right now. A tip would be to use a questioning or curious tone in your intonation when asking those questions. This helps a lot in taking the energy and focus out of the emotion and replacing it with a genuine curiosity to know more.
Then identify the real issue and what you want
After you observed what is going on and having identified what emotion the character is feeling, proceed to get curious about why is he feeling that way and what does she want. You can ask questions such as;
‘Hmm… so why is he feeling that way?’ ‘What would she have to believe in order to feel that way?’
‘What does he want instead?’ ‘What would make her feel better?’
By doing this you will find the answer to why you are feeling that emotion. You will be clear on why you feel that way, and what you would want instead. Observing it objectively will give you a clear answer. When you are blinded by emotions, you will not be able to identify what the problem is.
Controlling emotions final step : What would you do about it
The final step is deciding how to respond & what action to take.
‘Now that I have figured what’s going on and why is it happening, what should I do about this?’
‘What can I do that will help give me what I want instead?’
‘How can I communicate this better to others?’ (When the source of the problem is poor communication)
‘What is the best way to respond to this?’
All the efforts of the prior steps comes down to this outcome, the manner in which we respond. We want to control our emotions so that we can respond to something in our usual competent manner. By disassociating and controlling emotions, it helps you come up with a good objective response, and also the calmness and objectivity to carry out that solution well too.
No matter how you answer those questions, be rest assured that the solutions that you come up with will be objective. Because you were not driven by your emotion. You have assessed the situation in a clear mind.
So here it is in a nutshell, a step by step process of controlling emotions in any situation.
1. When something happens and brings a surge of unwanted emotion to you, immediately do something bizarre and break your state. Get the first attack. Be an unrelated observer of the scene and keep yourself in that disassociated state.
2. Watch what is happening from a 3rd party observer perspective and get curious about what is going on. What happened? What are you feeling?
3. Continue to probe further while still being disassociated and observing from afar. Why is she feeling that? What does she want instead?
4. Finally objectively come up with a response or solution to what happened.
Many people feel that controlling emotions is a very difficult thing to do. In fact, it is just a matter of habit. The more you do it, the better you are at it. Perhaps for the first dozen times you would find it hard to consciously guide yourself through controlling the emotion rather than just giving in to it. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Before you know it, it will become a habit. You can’t help but be objective whenever you are swamped by emotions. Controlling emotions becomes natural.
Don’t take life too seriously. Life is too short for us to act serious all the time. Have a ball & when something bad happens, just laugh it off. After all it is happening to the game character, not you. Have fun!
Self Improvement Mentor is not just about sharing tips for increasing productivity or becoming smarter. Rather the information here approaches self improvement through total alignment and integration of the whole being to support the outcome. True lasting success can only exist when the soul, mind, body and emotions are aligned.
Dealing With Negative Emotions*
One of the great challenges in life many people face is dealing with negative emotions. Though some may not realize it, a person’s ability or inability to deal with negative emotions has a very large impact on the quality of the lives they lead.
The source of the problem with negative emotions is in two folds.
1. The labeling of emotions
2. The illusion of no-control
Dealing with negative emotions : Labeling of emotions
People usually consciously or unconsciously choose to label emotions either as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – and from that labeling, they have a bunch of emotions that they identified as either to be indulged in or to be avoided at all costs.
Though the pain & discomfort we get from certain emotions may make it seem like some emotions are indeed ‘bad’ emotions, but by examining deeper, we can see that it is not true. For example, lazing around all day and just having fun gives you pleasurable emotions. However, does that mean that it should be sustained in the long term? Of course not. You’ll definitely feel good about it now, but do you want to remain that way throughout your life? Do you want to be stagnant forever? You won’t be improving yourself, achieving greater heights and contributing to the world if you are only concerned with sustaining this ‘good’ emotion.
Similarly, the emotions of frustration and disappointment from failures are what spurred many individuals to go on to achieve great things. So, the bottom line? There are no good or bad emotions. Don’t even label emotions as every emotion has it’s own value and usefulness.
Dealing with negative emotions : Illusion of no-control
The second part of the problem is from the idea that it is impossible for us to control our emotions. It is the belief that emotions come to us spontaneously and in reaction to the environment and happenings around. While that may be true, we can certainly control our responses to these emotions. Because that is ultimately what we are concerned with. We don’t really care about what emotions we feel, but rather how the emotions affect us.
So while something that happened may have caused you to feel angry, that doesn’t mean that you have to react in an angry way. You don’t have to retaliate or cry or bang your head on the wall just because you feel angry. You can choose to respond in a positive, empowering manner. Sadly, sometimes people act as if there isn’t any other choice. They ‘have’ to react to it. Once the emotion comes over them they just ‘lose it’. Now that is not the right way of dealing with negative emotions.
Deal with negative emotions by knowing that instead of losing it every time, we can choose how we want to respond to any emotion. Though it can seem very difficult when the emotion is very strong and pervasive, having the knowledge and techniques on dealing with negative emotions will make it easier and easier.
And, one of the core aspects of dealing with negative emotions is to not put any labels on it.
Dealing with negative emotions : The usual not-so-smart way
Everyone of us has a choice on how they want to deal with negative emotions. Sadly, many people choose to handle negative emotions by way of either avoidance or denial. By labeling emotions (as good or bad) first, then believing that they have no control over it, to them it feels like there are no other options in dealing with negative emotions apart from avoidance and denial.
As the pain from negative emotions can be quite overwhelming at times, many choose to avoid it altogether. They do this by steering away from any action or situation that could lead to having negative emotions. For example, in order to avoid disappointment, it is best not to try at all.
Now when things and ‘bad’ emotions become unavoidable, people take the route of denial instead. This is done with the hope that by ignoring and putting aside the emotion, it will eventually go away. Not a good idea. In fact, it is even more dangerous as though you may be able to bury your emotions for now, it will eventually re-surface over time. And when that happens, all the energy from the pent up emotions over the years will usually be released together in a destructive manner.
Though people usually avoid or deny negative emotions, there are those in the other extreme as well. Some people derive importance and significance from having to face negative emotions constantly. So much so that it has become a part of their identity. They feel as living a tough life dealing with difficulties daily makes them somewhat more important and significant than others. This type of thinking is much worse than avoiding and denying emotions.
Dealing with negative emotions : The new smart way
The effective way of dealing with negative emotions is by understanding the message of the emotion and making use of it to drive you further ahead.
First, understand that your emotions serve you. Then, learn to use your emotions rather than be controlled by it. Each emotion whether seemingly good or bad, tells us an important message of our current situation. How are we currently doing and whether changes or further action needs to be taken.
Take those negative emotions as a guide and a system to call you to take action. By avoiding or denying it, you are missing the valuable messages that your emotions are giving you. Emotions = Calls to action.
The steps for dealing with negative emotions
Firstly, whenever you feel a surge of negative emotions coming over you, quickly interrupt it. Do it by thinking/saying/doing something totally bizarre and unexpected. This shocks our system so much that the emotion loses its initial power. For a more detailed explanation, check out the steps for controlling emotions.
Next identify the negative emotion you are feeling and match your emotion to the list below. Make out how the message of that emotion fits to your situation & what are the appropriate follow up actions on your part.
Note that for emotions that are very intense such as panic attacks, a different approach on how to stop panic attacks would be more suitable and effective.
List of ‘negative’ emotions & the meanings
Fear : It is the expectancy that something bad is about to happen. The message of this emotion is for us to prepare for it. Take action and think of the best ways to deal with the situation. After you’ve prepared as well as you can, sit back and have faith. If there is nothing else you can do, there’s no point in worrying about it.
Hurt : People feel hurt when they believe we have suffered a loss. It tells them that an expectation that they had was not met. Such as when you expected someone to do something but they didn’t. To deal with it, first evaluate your perception. Maybe there hasn’t been any loss. Maybe no one is actually trying to hurt you. Are you judging the situation too soon? You may have just misinterpreted the situation.
If your perception is correct, properly communicate with the person involved about your sense of loss. When you do that, usually the feelings of hurt will disappear.
Frustration : When you are frustrated it means you feel that you are not getting the returns for your efforts, and you feel that you could be doing better than you currently are. This tells you that you should be more flexible in your approach. Brainstorm other approaches or get input from others. Know that frustration means your problem is within reach. Rather than get upset over it, take heart from the fact that you are close to your goal.
Disappointment : Disappointment is the feeling you get when you sense that you have lost out on something forever. When what you got is less than what you had expected, you feel disappointed. First, take the positives from this disappointment. Nothing is all bad. Know that you are guided & protected by the higher power. Everything happens for a reason, so trust that what happened is the best option in the ultimate long term plan of your life.
Follow that up by setting a new goal that is even better and more exciting for your life. Disappointment is also a call to develop more patience and flexibility in approach. Realize that perhaps what you need is to wait a little longer, and develop a different approach to achieve the goal.
Anger and guilt : Every one of us has our own set of values and standards. These standards govern every part of our lives. These are the behaviors/actions that we set as acceptable or not for ourselves and others. When one of the standards is violated by yourself or someone else, you will feel angry (at the other person or at yourself) and/or guilty (of yourself).
To deal with anger, you have a few choices ;
1. Evaluate whether it is possible that you misinterpreted the situation. That in fact no value has been violated.
2. If someone else violated your value, know that your ‘rule’ may not be the correct one. Just because something is right for you, does not mean it is right for everyone else. Everyone has their own set of values; the person probably has no idea that they violated one of your values. Follow up by communicating to the person neutrally about the importance of that standard to you. This will ensure that it never happens again.
3. Accept that you have violated one of your values, and vow never to do it again. Brainstorm ways to prevent it from happening again, and how you would deal with it if you are caught in the same situation in the future.
With these knowledge and steps, you can master whatever emotion is thrown at you. You are no longer at the mercy of emotions, rather you are in control of it. When dealing with negative emotions, practice handling it this way. Just like a muscle, the more you exercise, the bigger it grows.
The more you do it, the easier it gets. Before you know it, you’ll be naturally reacting to any ‘negative’ emotions in an empowering way. And when you realize that, you’ll be filled with a great feeling and confidence to face anything life throws at you. You become virtually unstoppable.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
When the going gets rough, some of us fall apart, while others ride it out unscathed. Here's how to become more resilient in a crisis. Shape, by Alice Lesch Kelly
Two women who do similar work are laid off from their jobs. Their industry has been hit hard by economic troubles, and their prospects for finding new positions are few. They have comparable educations, career histories and job experience. You might think they'd have about the same chance of landing on their feet, but they don't: A year later, one is unemployed, broke and angry, while the other has branched out in an entirely new direction. It hasn't been easy, and she's not earning as much as she did at her old job. But she is excited and optimistic and looks back at her layoff as an unexpected opportunity to follow a new path in life.
We've all seen it: When adversity strikes, some people flourish, while others fall apart. What sets the survivors apart is their resilience--the ability to endure and even thrive under stressful conditions. "Some people are able to rise to the occasion," says Roberta R. Greene, Ph.D., a professor of social work at the University of Texas at Austin. "When a crisis emerges, they start moving in the direction of solving it."
Resilience is well worth cultivating. Instead of being overwhelmed by tough breaks, resilient people make the best of them. Instead of being crushed, they prosper. "Resilience helps you transform stressful circumstances from potential disasters into opportunities," says Salvatore R. Maddi, Ph.D., a founder of the Hardiness Institute Inc. in Newport Beach, Calif. Resilient people improve their lives because they take control and work to positively influence what happens to them. They choose action rather than passivity, and empowerment over powerlessness.
How resilient are you? In a blackout, would you be outside, complaining good-naturedly with your neighbors, or would you be sitting in the house moaning about how bad things always seem to happen to you? If you're the moaner,
you should know that resilience can be learned. Sure, some people are born with an ability to bounce back, but experts promise that those of us who weren't can build the skills that carry resilient people through the toughest of times.
Ask yourself the following questions; the more "yes" answers you have, the more resilient you are. "No" answers indicate areas you may want to work on. Then follow our action plans to build your resilience.
1. Did you grow up in a supportive family?
"Resilient people have parents, role models and mentors who encouraged them to believe they can do well," Maddi says. He and his colleagues discovered that many people who are high in resilience (or hardiness, as Maddi calls it) grew up with parents and other adults who taught them coping skills and emphasized that they possessed the power to transcend life's difficulties. Less-hardy adults grew up with similar stresses but much less support.
Plan of action: You can't change your childhood, but you can surround yourself with the right kind of "family" now. Seek out supportive friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers, and avoid people who treat you badly. Reach out to your support team, offering them assistance and encouragement on a regular basis. Then, when difficulty strikes in your life, they will likely return the favor.
2. Do you embrace change?
Whether it's losing a job, going through a breakup or moving to a new city, the most difficult situations in life involve significant change. While less-resilient people tend to be upset and threatened by change, those who are highly resilient are more likely to embrace it and feel excited by and curious about new situations. They know--and accept--that change is a normal part of life, and they look for creative ways to adapt to it.
"Everyone I see who is resilient never stops being a playfully curious child," says AI Siebert, Ph.D., director of The Resiliency Center in Portland, Ore., and author of The Survivor Personality: Why Some People Are Stronger, Smarter, and More Skillful at Handling Life's Difficulties ... and How You Can Be, Too (Berkley Publishing Group, 1996). "When something new comes along, their brain opens outward."
Plan of action: Try to be more curious and open to change in small ways so that when major changes come along, or you choose to make them, you will have built up some positive experiences. "Highly resilient people ask lots of questions, want to know how things work," Siebert says. "They wonder about things, experiment, make mistakes, get hurt, laugh."
After a breakup, for example, they take a long-planned vacation rather than staying home and wishing the relationship hadn't ended. If you are playful and curious, you're more likely to react to an unwanted situation by asking yourself, "What do I need to do to fix this? How can I use what happened to my advantage?"
3. Do you learn from past experiences?
When he staffs a suicide hotline, Robert Blundo, Ph.D., a licensed social worker and an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, asks troubled callers to reflect on how they've survived past crises. By thinking about and learning from your past successes, he says, you can pinpoint the skills and strategies that will help you endure new crises. The same is true with failure: By considering your past mistakes, you can learn to avoid making the same ones again. "People who are high in hardiness learn very well from failure," Maddi says.
Plan of action: When difficult situations arise, ask yourself what skills and coping mechanisms you used to survive tough times in the past. What supported you? Was it asking a spiritual advisor for help? What made it possible for you to cope? Taking long bike rides? Writing in your journal? Getting help from a therapist?
And after you do weather a storm, analyze what brought it on. Say you were fired from your job. "Ask yourself, 'What is the lesson here? What early clues did I ignore?'" Siebert advises. Then, figure out how you might have handled the situation better. Perhaps you could have asked your boss for better training or paid more attention to a poor performance review. Hindsight is 20/20: Use it!
4. Do you take responsibility for your troubles?
People who lack resilience tend to pin their problems on other people or outside events. They blame their spouse for a bad marriage, their boss for a crummy job, and their genes for a health problem. Certainly, if someone does something terrible to you, he or she is at fault. But resilient people try to separate themselves from the person or event that hurt them and make an effort to move on. "It's not the situation but how you respond to it that matters," Siebert says. If you tie your well-being to another person, then the only way you'll feel better is if the person who hurts you apologizes, and in many cases, that's not likely. "A victim blames the situation," Siebert says. "A resilient person takes responsibility and says, 'How I respond to this is what counts.'"
Plan of action: Instead of thinking about how you can get back at someone for hurting you, ask yourself: "How can I make things better for myself?" If the promotion you desperately wanted goes to someone else, don't sit home blaming your boss, watching TV and fantasizing about quitting. Instead, focus on finding a new job or transferring to another position in your company. Work toward letting go of your anger; that will free you to move on.
5. Are you actively committed to being more resilient?
Resilient people are steadfast in their dedication to bouncing back. "There has to be some sense that if you don't have resilience, you'll look for it, and that if you do have it, you'll develop more," Greene says. In other words, some people are more resilient simply because they decide to be, and because they recognize that no matter what the situation, they alone can decide whether to meet a challenge head-on or cave in to it.
Plan of action: Talk to friends who are good at recovering quickly from adversity to find out what works for them, read books about surviving difficulties and think ahead about how you might respond resiliently in certain situations. When trying events do arise, slow down and ask yourself how a resilient person would respond. If you need help shoring up your resilience, consider seeing a therapist or social worker.
Most of all, be confident that you can change. "Sometimes it feels like it's the end of the world," Blundo says. "But if you can step outside the situation and see that it's not, you can survive. Remember that you always have choices."
Dr. Oz's Top 5 Mistakes Dieters Make*
David M. Russel, Harpo Inc.
You ate and sipped your way from Thanksgiving to New Year's. The food was delicious; the eggnog and champagne divine. But now, well, now your pants won't zip. Holiday weight gain is hands down the most unwanted gift of all. Fortunately, you don't have to keep it. America's favorite doctor, Mehmet Oz, better known as the host of "The Dr. Oz Show," is here to share his most effective weight loss strategies for shedding those holiday pounds. Dr. Oz explains how to avoid the biggest dieting blunders so you're sure to start off your post-holiday weight loss plan right.
Mistake No. 1: You Crash Diet
Of course, diets that promise big weight loss fast sound great. After all, who wouldn't want to drop every pound you gained in just a few short weeks? And sure, if you radically cut your calorie intake, you will lose weight. But here's the catch: You can't eat like that forever. And once you go back to eating the way you usually do, you'll regain what you lost and possibly even more. "The fundamental problem these diets have is that you cannot overwhelm your biological drive to eat with willpower. That's why 98 percent of these diets fail," said Dr. Oz. "Any diet that eliminates an entire food group or that replaces meals with mysterious concoctions aren't good for long-term weight loss."
Want another reason: Our bodies are built to help prevent us from starving when there's not enough food to go around. But since our bodies don't know the difference between famine and a crash diet, they react the same way -- by slowing your metabolism, which makes it even harder to lose weight. "Your body is not going to let you waste energy, so it rapidly adjusts its metabolism based on caloric intake," Dr. Oz said.
Dr. Oz's Fix: Eat a variety of healthy foods so you don't feel like you're depriving yourself. Then track your calories with a food diary and find ways to eat just 100 fewer calories every day. "Every long-term weight study ever done in which people kept the weight off for more than two years came back to this same basic rule," said Dr. Oz. "It's not hard to do. And 100 calories is such a small amount, your body can't tell you're on a diet, so your metabolism doesn't slow down and you'll naturally lose the weight."
Mistake No. 2: You Skip Breakfast
You'd think that bypassing breakfast would be a quick and easy way to shave some extra calories -- except, you're actually more likely to consume those calories (and more) later in the day. Thinking you have some calories to play with because you didn't eat breakfast, you may supersize your lunch or grab snacks that aren't particularly good for you simply because you're hungry. In addition, skipping breakfast prompts your body to store fat rather than metabolize it. In fact, research shows that breakfast skippers tend to be heavier. While breakfast eaters consume more calories, they're also slimmer, more active and have healthier diets overall. In a study of people who'd dropped at least 30 pounds and kept it off, 78 percent said they routinely ate breakfast.
Dr. Oz's Fix: Eating something within an hour or so after waking up boosts your metabolism by as much as 10 percent. Go for things like oatmeal sprinkled with nuts and raisins or a tablespoon of peanut butter, a veggie omelet with whole-wheat toast, or low-fat cottage cheese with fruit. The mix of protein and fiber holds off hunger through the morning so you're less inclined to help yourself to the powdered doughnuts at the office or overeat later on. In a recent University of Connecticut study, when volunteers had eggs for breakfast, they consumed 100 to 400 fewer calories at lunch than when they ate bagels, even though both the bagel and egg breakfasts contained the same amount of calories. Other research suggests that fiber-rich breakfasts help you burn more fat when you exercise. No time to sit down to eat? Do what the Oz family does: Drink a Magical Breakfast Blaster as you head to work or drop off the kids at school. "It's fast, it's filling and has everything you need in the morning," said Dr. Oz. "It's purple so kids like it, too."
Magical Breakfast Blaster
This recipe makes two 136-calorie servings.
½ large banana, broken into chunks
1/3 cup soy protein
½ tablespoon flaxseed oil
¼ cup frozen blueberries
½ tablespoon apple juice concentrate or honey
1 teaspoon psyllium seed husks
1 cup water
Powdered vitamins (optional)
Put everything into the blender. Blend and drink.
Mistake No. 3: You Drink Extra Calories
When we eat a big meal, our body knows it's been fed and we eat less at the next meal. But that doesn't happen when we drink high-calorie beverages, which are estimated to add about 235 extra (empty) calories a day to our diets. Our bodies don't seem to register liquid calories the way it does solid calories. So even after guzzling a jumbo-size soda at the movies, we don't eat less when it's time to eat again. Specialty coffee drinks, fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks and alcohol are some of the biggest calorie traps. Alcohol is actually doubly so because drinking relaxes our willpower. Have a few cocktails and suddenly having that slice of cheesecake seems like a pretty good idea.
Dr. Oz's Fix: Choose lower-calorie drinks. Like coffee? Leave out the whipped cream, syrups and chocolate shavings, and drink it black or with a little sugar. "A teaspoon of sugar is just 16 calories, a tiny amount," said Dr. Oz. "People aren't getting fat because of 16 calories." Can't give up your soda? You can have both soda and fruit juice if you add a splash of your favorite 100 percent fruit juice to club soda. You get the fizz with fewer calories. "If I'm sitting down to a meal, that's what I'll get," said Dr. Oz.
Mistake No. 4: You Don't Snack
Snacks get a bad rap because we think of them as junky foods we shouldn't eat. But nutritious snacks are actually a dieter's best friend, because eating frequently can actually help you consume fewer calories. "Thoughtful snacking keeps you from getting ravenous between meals and making poor diet choices later on," said Dr. Oz. "People who eat several small meals and snacks a day are more likely to control their hunger and lose weight." He should know. He snacks constantly. "I'd bet that at least half the calories I eat are snacks," he said. "I don't like being hungry, and I don't like the threat of being hungry, so I keep healthy foods near me all the time. Whenever I feel a little tinge of hunger, I throw a handful of something in my mouth." The snacks he relies on: apples, radishes, carrots and nuts.
Dr. Oz's Fix: Each day, pack several healthy snacks in small containers or snack-size baggies to keep in your purse or an insulated tote in your car. If you always have diet-friendly snacks at hand, you'll be less tempted to raid the vending machine. Just watch the portion sizes, cautioned Dr. Oz, "so you don't overdo it."
Mistake No 5:You Don't Drink Enough Water
The next time you feel hungry, take a big, long drink of water and you may not need to eat. Because the hormones in our intestines that tell us we're hungry are very similar to the hormones that let us know we're thirsty, we're not very good at distinguishing hunger from thirst, which is why we typically reach for food when we should be drinking. "Often hunger pangs are just your body screaming for a little extra H20," said Dr. Oz. And when we're not well hydrated, our metabolism drags. "Water is essential for burning calories," said Dr. Oz. "Adults who drink eight-plus glasses of water a day burn more calories than those who drink less."
Dr. Oz's Fix: Drink water before every meal and snack and a few more in between. According to a study done at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, overweight or obese study volunteers who drank a 16-ounce bottle of water before every meal lost 44 percent more weight after 12 weeks than volunteers who didn't drink water before dining. That may be because water drinkers ate about 75 fewer calories when they drank water before their meals, as another Virginia Tech study found. "I carry a water bottle with me wherever I go so I'm constantly sipping," said Dr. Oz.
If eight glasses a day seems daunting, try this mind trick: Drink from larger bottles, so instead of consuming eight glasses, you're sipping just three and a half bottles. Easy! And there's no reason to always drink it plain. "I completely get that people think water is bland," said Dr. Oz. "In our house, we make water more appealing by adding slices of fruit or a splash of fruit juice to give it a different taste."
Heart Healthy Meal Plan (1500 Calorie)*
Non Low Carb - Healthy Weight Loss Diet Plan
When selecting a heart healthy meal plan, make sure you are consuming a balanced and complete diet. Your assignment is to set realistic and attainable diet goals. Start by following the simple guidelines below.
Nutritional and Healthy Meal Guidelines
1. Commit to consuming 4 - 6 small meals and snacks every day.
2. To succeed, you must plan ahead by packing your foods the night before. Thus, you should always have fresh and low-fat foods around.
3. Keep it simple. Don't get too caught up on the specifics or your diet. Start by simply just counting calories.
4. Eat your foods slower.
5. Make healthier food selections like fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and beans, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, low fat meats, fish and skinless poultry.
6. Avoid foods that are high in fat and calories.
7. Avoid foods that are high in sugars such as pastries, candy bars, pies and candy.
8. Use a variety of fruits and vegetables in your nutrition plan. Start by trying to eat 5 total vegetable and fruit servings every single day.
Here is a sample healthy low fat meal plan (1517 calories).
Breakfast Amount Item Protein Carbs Fats Calories
12 ounces coffee-w/caffeine 0.40 1.40 0.00 8.00
1 cup Milk 8.00 11.00 5.00 120.00
1 tbps cream,fluid,half and half 0.44 0.65 1.73 19.55
1 pack Oatmeal-instant,maple,brn sugar Quaker 4.50 31.60 2.10 152.00
Total: 13.34 44.65 8.82 299.55
1 cup Cottage cheese- 1%fat 28.00 6.00 2.00 164.00
0.5 cup Pineapple-canned, chunks 0 18 0 70
Total: 28.00 24.00 2.00 234.00
2 each bread whole wheat-slice 6.00 24.00 2.00 140.00
1 cubic inch cheddar cheese 4.26 0.15 4.12 56.36
.15 cup mayo 0.32 8.47 11.77 137.37
1 ounce turkey breast/white meat 8.50 0.00 0.20 38.25
.25 small Tomato-small 0.25 1.43 0.10 6.50
Total: 19.33 34.36 18.19 378.48
8 each Cracker/Nabisco-Low Saltines 1.60 16.00 3.20 96.00
1 ounce Turkey/white meat 8.50 0.00 0.20 38.25
Total: 10 16 3.5 134.5
5 ounces Halibut - broiled 37.5 0 5 198.5
1 cup rice-white cook steamed 6.00 62.00 0.00 164.00
2 tbps Thousand island-reduced cal. Kraft 0.00 6.00 2.00 40.00
0.5 cup Vegetables - mixed, frozen, boiled 2.60 11.90 0.10 54.00
1 small salad-sm. Garden w/tomato, onion 1.30 9.50 0.40 49.00
1 tsp Sugar-white 0.00 4.00 0.00 15.00
12 fluid ounces Tea-prepared w/tap water 0 1 0 4
Total: 44.80 82.50 7.40 470.75
Grand Total: 115.58 201.50 39.82 1517.04
Apple - medium with peel 7 each
Banana - medium 8 inch 7 each
Bread whole wheat - slice 14 each
Broccoli 7 spears
Cheerios 10.5 cups
Chicken Breast / White Meat 28 ounces
Coffee- w/caffeine 84 ounces
Cream, fluid, half and half 7 tablespoons
Halibut - broiled 35 ounces
Mayo type, reg., w/salt 1 cup
Milk - 2 % fat 7 cups
Orange - medium 7 each
Sugar - white 14 tea spoons
Rice - white 7 cups
Thousand island - reduced cal. 7 table spoons
Turkey Breast / White Meat 14 ounces
Tea 82 ounces
Walking in Place: Maximum Results and Minimum Distance*
Can walking in place help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals? Without a doubt, it is a great way to add more steps to your day.
Fitness experts recommend walking 10,000 steps a day, which is equivalent to five miles, to maintain your weight and to enjoy the many benefits of fitness walking.
Walking in place is convenient – you can do it anywhere! Whether it’s dark and cold outside or you only have a minute or two for exercise, you can increase your daily step count by just by picking your feet up off the ground.
You may also want to try going in circles or moving 10 steps forward and 10 steps backward for some variety. Stepping backwards is a great way to work an additional set of muscles. It works the quadriceps and calves while moving forward targets the hamstrings and your gluteus maximus.
When you are able to achieve 10,000 steps per day, you may experience weight loss and you’ll notice many enjoyable outcomes, such as improved moods and a stronger cardiovascular system. You’ll also find you have more energy throughout your day.
As with any exercise, moderation is the key. Don’t replace all of your fitness activities for walking in place. Use it as a good warm-up, to add more steps to your day or for a 15-minute period of activity.
If you enjoy exercising in the comfort of your own home, consider purchasing a workout DVD or video. I highly recommend Leslie Sansone’s DVDs. She incorporates stepping along with many other exercises for a full-body workout that is just right for any fitness level.
This simple exercise is an efficient way to add more activity to your day when you’re short on time or space. It can help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals by incorporating exercise into your day no matter where you are or what you are doing.
Three Drinks to Lower Blood Pressure* By Caroline H. Gottesman
What you can add to your diet for lower blood pressure.
When you want to lower your blood pressure, think beyond slashing salt, calories and fat—and also consider what you can add to your diet. More vegetables, fruits and lean protein, says the Institute of Medicine in a February 2010 report on preventing and controlling high blood pressure. Plus, recent research points to three beverages that also may help to lower blood pressure. Consider drinking more…
3 Drinks to Lower Blood Pressure
1. Low- or Nonfat Milk
Both supply potassium and calcium, two nutrients that are associated with healthy blood pressure, and are fortified with vitamin D—a vitamin that new research suggests promotes healthy blood pressure. Substituting low-fat dairy—including milk—for full-fat versions may also help lower blood pressure, reports a 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition. In healthy people, arteries are “elastic”: they relax (widen) and constrict (narrow) to keep blood pressure within a normal range. Full-fat dairy contains significant amounts of palmitic acid (much more than low-fat dairy), which can block signals that relax blood vessels, leaving them in a constricted state that may keep blood pressure elevated, explains study author Estefanía Toledo, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Navarra, Spain.
2. Hibiscus Tea
Drinking hibiscus tea
can significantly lower blood pressure, particularly when it is slightly elevated, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Nutrition. Diane L. McKay, Ph.D., lead author of the study, believes that anthocyanins and other antioxidants in hibiscus tea may work together to keep blood vessels resistant to damage that causes them to narrow. Many herbal tea blends contain hibiscus, which brews up bright red and delivers a tart flavor. McKay recommends finding one you like and drinking three cups daily. To get the full benefits of the hibiscus, steep for six minutes before drinking hot or cold.
3. Cranberry Juice
At your next celebration, raise a glass of…cranberry juice? Turns out, cranberry juice has the same blood pressure–lowering effects as red wine, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. (The study was partially funded by Ocean Spray.) Both beverages—as well as apple juice and cocoa—boast antioxidants called proanthocyanidins, which inhibit synthesis of a compound called ET-1 that plays a role in constricting blood vessels.
PHOTOS: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/magical-breakfast-blaster, hopefitnesstraining.com, davidsonstea.com
Saturday, January 29, 2011
How Three Simple (But Powerful) Words Can Put You On the Path to Happiness*
What do you need to make your dreams come true? Three wishes?
Think again. Martha Beck on a goal-setting strategy that will get you where you want to go.
"Life would be so great," said Ilsa, a fledgling entrepreneur, "if I could just start a business to pay all my bills." Another client, Sue, wanted to have a baby. "Being a mom would make me happier than anything in the world," she told me. Like any codependent life coach, I wanted everything for Ilsa and Sue that they wanted for themselves. I longed for a magic wand that would let me bippity-boppity-boo their dreams into reality, fairy godmother–style. Instead, I did the next best thing: I worked with them as they made to-do lists and financial plans and stocked up on computer software and folic acid.
Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, my boosterism had some significant blowback. You see, Ilsa's business did succeed, but its rapid growth required her to work like a pack mule. Sue eventually had a baby, who filled her heart with love—and her ears with colicky shrieking that nearly unhinged her. Both women were in more distress after achieving their goals than they'd ever been before.
I blame myself. In my fairy godmother role, I should've paid less attention to logistics and probed deeper into the reasons Ilsa and Sue had focused on those particular ambitions, because stated goals are quite magical. They dictate our attitudes and behavior and where we put our energy. But using magic inexpertly, as most fables (and almost every Harry Potter movie) can attest, is a bad idea. After years of helping clients like Sue and Ilsa, I learned how to help people set goals to get what they want without unintended consequences.
Words of Power
The difference between a dangerous spell—um, I mean goal—and a safe, effective one has everything to do with parts of speech. Most goal setters use mainly nouns and verbs ("I want my business to succeed," "I want to have a baby"). This frequently leads to either outright failure or the kind of success that doesn't make people nearly as happy as they expect. But there's another class of words that work much better—adjectives.
I've come to depend on adjectives because goals made of nouns and verbs are risky: They bring to mind "imagined situations," as opposed to "imagined experiences." The two are subtly but crucially different, and experiences, not situations, are always what we really want. Ilsa expected business success to produce feelings of contentment; Sue thought a baby would make her feel loved. Neither fully anticipated what would happen after they achieved their goals.
By using adjectives, you can avoid this trap by focusing all your efforts on the quality of the experience you want to create. This process is harder than "normal" goal setting—it requires some serious soul-searching and perhaps a good thesaurus—but it does pay off.
Next: Here's how to start
Step One: Pick a goal, any goal.
Think of a typical noun-verb goal, something for which you frequently hanker. Be honest rather than politically correct. Some people may have deep desires to establish world peace, stop global warming, and end poverty, but maybe you actually think more about, I dunno, reaching your target weight. And that's okay. This is not a beauty pageant (those contestants can afford to wish for world peace; they've all reached their target weight). What I want you to do is fess up to your real desires. Now pick the biggest, most ambitious one.
Step Two: Gaze into the future.
You don't need a crystal ball to see what's up ahead; the three pounds of gray matter between your ears will do fine. Use your brainpower right now to imagine what your life would be like if you realized the goal you just identified. Create a detailed fantasy about it. Loiter there awhile, observing your dream-come-true with your mind's eyes, ears, nose, skin. Then, clear your mind and your throat: It's time for the magic words.
Step Three: Generate adjectives.
This is the heart of a really effective goal-spell. Begin listing adjectives that describe how you feel in your dream-come-true scenario. This is a simple task, but not an easy one. It requires that you translate holistic, right-brain sensations into specific, left-brain words. Author Craig Childs compares this to "trying to build the sky out of sticks." Spend enough time in your imagined situation to let your brain leaf through its vocabulary, scouting out accurate adjectives. In goal setting as in fairy tales, the minimum magic number is three. Don't stop until you have at least that many ways to describe those lovely feelings.
My clients frequently try to squirm out of the process by muttering, "It's hard to explain," or "Oh, I don't know," or "I can't describe it." Well, of course it's hard to explain; yes, you do know; and if you keep trying, you can too describe it. Your adjectives don't have to be eloquent; use simple words like energetic, focused, delighted, and fine. But you owe it to yourself to persevere until you've found some reasonably descriptive words. Three of 'em. Write them down and then share them below in the comments:
Step Four: Focus on anything that can be described with your adjectives.
Drop the fantasy situation you imagined in step two and concentrate on those adjectives. You might notice that these three words bring your stated goal into sharper focus. For instance, if your New Year's resolution is to lose ten pounds—a noun-verb goal—but your adjectives are strong, confident, and healthy, you might realize that your actual aim is to get fit. You would see that the strategy you came up with to diet (i.e., eating your weight in hydroponic cabbage) might leave you thinner but also recumbent on a couch without the energy to leave the house—which isn't what you really want. Thanks to adjectives, you can fine-tune your strategy: Swap a fad diet for a meeting with a nutritionist, and sign up for weight training classes at the gym.
Sometimes tweaking isn't enough. Your adjective goal might utterly contradict your stated goal. Time to rethink that original target. For example, if you think you want to win an Academy Award, you may imagine your Oscar acceptance speech, and feel "valued, satisfied, and unstoppable." If you think that only a night at the Kodak Theatre will lead to those feelings, you might spend years obsessively pursuing movie stardom, ignoring everyone and everything except your ambition. Odds are you still wouldn't win an Oscar, but you'd probably get a rapacious ego that could inhale all manner of rewards without even noticing them. On the other hand, if you immediately begin focusing on aspects of your present life that make you feel valued, satisfied, or unstoppable, you'll feel an instant lift. All sorts of things may happen. Sure, you might win an Oscar.
But if you don't find yourself onstage, blurting out that the statue sure is heavy, you'll be left with...a pretty good life. You might even find that as you follow the things that make you feel appreciated, you've tripped into an entirely different career. So starting now, survey your life for anything (I mean anything) that can be described with any of those three words. Putting all your attention on those aspects of your life will make you happier right now and help you create future situations that fulfill your true desires.
Next: The Science of Good Magic
The Science of Good Magic
I realize that all this sounds a little woo-woo, but psychological research on happiness backs up my strategy. Over and over, researchers studying happiness have found that the situational elements people crave—money, social status, possessions—don't reliably lead to an experience of well-being. By contrast, learning to find joy in the present moment (a.k.a. focusing on experiences you truly want in your life) increases life satisfaction, improves health, and allows us to live longer, more fulfilling lives.
My clients form my own database of sorts, convincing me that good goal-setting magic is (to use the social science terms) robust and valid. For example, when I asked Ilsa to go back in time and imagine what she once thought she'd get from a successful business, she described herself with the adjectives relaxed, joyful, and secure (ironically, the demands of her wildfire success made her feel tense, joyless, and insecure). When she scanned her life for activities and relationships that made her feel aligned with those adjectives, she found them everywhere: in gardening, reading novels, playing with her niece. "Damn!" she told me. "I'd already succeeded before I succeeded!" Indeed.
In Sue's case, remembering how she'd expected motherhood to make her feel yielded the adjectives loved, rejuvenated, and emotionally replenished. She realized that her noun-verb goal (having a baby who's beautiful and also colicky) actually created the opposite of her adjective goal—she felt unappreciated, haggard, and drained. It turned out that her magical adjectives described the way she felt when connecting with old friends. Both Ilsa and Sue managed to give more attention and time to the things that evoked the feelings they really wanted. (That's the beauty of adjective-based goals: They can work even when you're already suffering the consequences of unwise noun-verb spells.) Ilsa carved out time for reading and gardening; Sue put the baby in the bouncy seat and caught up with friends on Facebook.
These efforts helped Ilsa and Sue work and parent better, and handle the difficulties conjured by their original goals, all of which eased my fairy godmother guilt.
In other words, we lived happily ever after. So if you find yourself longing for some idealized goal, take a moment to go fishing for adjectives. Then use them to identify the aspects of your life that are already drawing you toward your heart's desires. Focusing on these people and activities will lead you gently toward even more fulfilling experiences. One day you may find yourself in a situation more interesting and delightful than anything you ever imagined. Listen closely and you'll hear my annoying little voice in your head, whispering, Bippity-boppity-boo.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Is Your Attention on Your Intention?
How to Create the Life Your Really Want
By Mike Robbins Oprah.com
What kind of resolutions have you created this year?
Are they realistic? Attainable? Motivational speaker Mike Robbins explains why it's important to set goals with intention.
Most people I know and have worked with over the years have a somewhat funny or disempowered relationship to goal setting for the new year. Whether they're people who spend lots of time and energy creating their New Year's intentions or they decided years ago that they wouldn't bother (since in years past, by mid-January most of them have gone off the rails or out of your mind anyway), I don't know too many people who are genuinely inspired, motivated or empowered by their New Year's resolutions in a sustainable and real way.
Here are some of the main reasons I think you aren't authentically inspired by your goals or empowered to make them happen:
• Your goals are often about fixing what you think is wrong with yourself
• Once you set them, you feel a sense of pressure to make them happen
• You worry that you won't accomplish or achieve what you want, and then you'll feel like a failure
• You don't get the kind of support you really want and need
• You forget that your intentions are designed to support you, not stress you out
• You get too focused on the outcome and forget about the experience
• You allow competition and scarcity to take over
How to shift your perspective
One of the best things you can do to shift your perspective about this and create an empowering relationship to your process of setting goals for this year is to understand some key distinctions: intentions, goals and actions.
• Intentions: Your intentions are states of being and authentic desires. In other words, you may have an intention to be peaceful, grateful, joyous, loving, successful, healthy or wealthy. Your intentions are your high ideals and are usually at the root of your motivation for any of your specific goals. Most people don't really want goals like a new relationship, more money or a fit body simply for the sake of those things themselves. You want them because of what you believe you will experience by having them in your life. By starting with your intentions, you get right to the source of what you truly want. Intentions are the core and the magic of all of your goals and desires.
• Goals: Effective and powerful goals are ones that are specific and measurable. You want to be able to track your progress and know for sure if you are reaching your goals or not. This doesn't have to be a competition (with others or yourself) and doesn't have to be filled with stress, pressure, shame or guilt. Having your goals as specific and measurable just makes them clear and more likely to manifest. And, the paradox you have to always remember when setting and working on your goals is that you can't be attached to the outcome—it will make you crazy and take you off course from your real intentions. Your goals simply take your intentions and focus them on tangible outcomes in the world.
• Actions: Creating action-oriented practices that support manifesting your goals and intentions is an essential daily, weekly and monthly process of your success and fulfillment. Coming up with action plans that inspire you, connect to the goals you're working on and fulfill your intentions is vital to all of this. This is where the rubber meets the road and is often the place where things break down. The breakdown of actions usually has more to do with a lack of support and accountability (which then allows you to let life take over and lose your focus) than it does with any failure or weakness on your part. Having practices that help you take the baby steps needed to manifest your goals and intentions is such an important piece of puzzle.
How to use this process in your life
Here is an example of how this could look in a specific area of life. Let's say you have a desire to make more money. Start with your intention, "My intention is to experience a real sense of abundance, peace and freedom with money and to easily manifest income." Then create a specific, measurable, result-oriented goal. "I will generate $100,000 by December 31, 2010." The next step is to come up with a few related actions/practices. "I will read three or more books this year on manifesting money. I will set up two or more meetings per month to talk to people about new money-making ideas. I will make a plan each month for specific things I can do professionally to increase my income."
The final piece of the process is creating some kind of regular accountability and support structure for this. You can hire a coach, join a mastermind group or create a success/accountability partnership with a friend. Having someone or a group of people you make commitments to and whom you empower to hold you accountable will make all the difference in the world.
Have fun with this. Don't take it or yourself too seriously—it's just life. You're allowed to make mistakes, screw things up and fall down (which everyone does and always will). Be kind to yourself in this process. Remember your intentions (those states of being and authentic desires) are what you're truly after, not the specific outcomes or actions. This will allow you to take the pressure off of yourself, have more fun and trust that things will manifest as they're meant to—especially if you open up and let them show up!
Mike Robbins is a best-selling author, sought-after motivational keynote speaker and personal growth expert who works with people and groups of all kinds. Robbins is the author of the best-selling books Focus on the Good Stuff and Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken. He and his work have been featured on ABC News, in Forbes, Ladies Home Journal, Self and many others.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Biggest Loser Jump Start Menu
Menu: 1480 calories
1 Ham and cheese breakfast melt
3/4 C fresh blueberries
8 oz fat-free milk
tea or coffee
1 large apple
1 stick low-fat mozzarella string cheese
Turkey wrap: 2 oz sliced turkey breast, 1/4 C alfalfa sprouts, 2 slices tomato, and 2 tsp dijon mustard in La Tortilla Factory multigrain tortilla
6 baby carrots
1 c Jicama sticks
Ice water or Ice tea
2 servings (4 pieces) Hummus Deviled eggs
Dinner: 5 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled or broiled
8 med asparagus spears, grilled or broiled
1 C cherry tomatoes with 1 Tsp balsamic vinegar and 1 Tsp chopped fresh basil
8 oz fat-free milk
Ham and Cheese Breakfast Melt
Ingredients1 Whole grain english muffin, split
1 slice low fat canadian bacon
2 egg whites
1 slice low fat cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Toast english muffin to desired doneness. Spray egg ring and medium skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Pour egg in ring cover and cook about 3 minutes, remove ring (use knife to break egg away from ring), flip egg and cook about 30 seconds. Meanwhile warm bacon for about 1 minute, flip halfway through cooking. While hot place bacon and egg on muffin and top with cheese slice.
May be prepared ahead of time for reheating. Makes one serving.
Number of Servings: 1
Recipe submitted by SparkPeople user MPBROWNING.
Hummus Deviled Eggs*
• Fat: 3.9g
• Carbohydrates: 8.8g
• Calories: 93.9
• Protein: 6.1g
12 Hard Boiled Eggs
1 TSBP Paprika
Creamy Hummus (Below)
3 cups Chisk peas
1/2 cup warm water
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
1.5 TSP ground cumin
3 TSP Minced garlic
1 TBSP Salt
2 TBSP Cilantro
2 Bell Peppers (red)
Add ingredents together makes approx 20 (2 TBPS ) servings or 2.5 cups
Number of Servings: 20
Move over, baby carrots. There's a refreshing new pre-dinner munchie in town.
No offense to baby carrots and hummus, but sometimes I get tired of serving them as my default appetizers when guests are around. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a healthy combo, and a super-convenient one at that. But inspired it is not. I used to wonder what people in other countries served to their guests with cocktails during a casual dinner party. Fortunately, I had occasion to find the answer to my question in January 2008, when I scored an invitation to weekday family dinner at the home of a professor.
On the coffee table, our hostess had placed a platter of sliced jicama
that had been tossed in lime juice and sprinkled with a bright red chile powder. It was so simple, and so addictive. It put baby carrots with hummus to shame.
All about Jicama
Jicama is the tuberous root of a legume plant that has the crunchy, watery texture of a water chestnut, raw potato or Asian pear. Its mild flavor is tinged with an everso slight sweetness,which is courtesy of our favorite prebiotic fiber friend, inulin. (To refresh your memory about the health benefits of inulin, check out my previous postings on Jerusalem artichokes and chicory root, other great food sources of inulin.)'
The crisp, watery texture of raw jicama is so summery and refreshing, which makes it a fantastic addition to salads and slaws. Nutritionally, 1 cup of sliced jicama has a mere 46 calories, and 11g of carbohydrate (of which 6 huge grams are fiber) and 30% of the daily value for vitamin C. (This means that 1 cup of jicama actually has 5g of net carbohydrate, in case you are diabetic on a carbohydrate-controlled diet.)
If you’ve never worked with jicama before, there are only two pointers I can offer. One: If you’re not using it right away, do not refrigerate it (Jicamas don’t like the cold). Just store it at room temperature. Two: the only annoying thing about jicama is having to peel it. I’ve wrestled a jicama with a vegetable peeler before, but have found that cutting the jicama into quarters and using a sharp knife to shave the stubborn skin off along the silhouette worked way better.
Recipe: Jicama sticks with lime and chile
1 jicama, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
Sprinkle of your favorite chile powder*
* Note: the most authentic way to season your lime-tossed jicama sticks would be with a Mexican condiment called Tajin, which is a chili-lime-salt powder designed specifically for fruit and jicama seasoning. (I checked the ingredients and it’s gluten-free.) You can order it online through the link I’ve provided. Otherwise, you have a few options. You can take a dried guajillo chile (or any medium-heat dried chile), stem it and seed it, and grind it up in a food processor or mini coffee-grinder. If you have a favorite ground chile powder lying around the pantry, like an ancho chile powder, that’d be swell, too. Personally, I wouldn’t use the American version of chili powder (the stuff we use for actually making chili)… its flavor is a bit too heavy for this.
All you have to do is cut the jicama into sticks, toss them in a bowl with the lime juice, and sprinkle it all with some chili powder to taste. Easy!
PHOTOS: recipes.sparkpeople.com, tamaraduker.com
Monday, January 24, 2011
The Four Levels of a Mindfulness Approach to Food Fixation
Like a multi-story building, there are several levels or “floors” of our human experience that an effective approach to food fixation should consist of. These four floors of our “building of mindfulness” are the body (the foundation), our eating behaviors (the ground floor), our thought patterns and underlying beliefs (second floor) and our emotions (the penthouse).
A food fixation can only take hold in our lack of awareness – or even dissociation – from one or more of these four levels: body, eating behaviors, thoughts, and/or emotions. Yet 99% of weight and diet programs don’t even begin to address one – let alone all four – of these levels.
A food fixation can only take hold in our lack of awareness of – or even dissociation from – one or more levels of our inner experience: body, eating behaviors, thoughts, and/or emotions.
The Mindfulness Approach to Freedom from Food Fixation
Mindfulness of the Body – The Foundation
“Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” –James Joyce
Like the fictional Mr. Duffy, many of us live a “short distance” from our bodies.
Because of this fact, the body is the ideal doorway to a mindfulness approach to food fixation. Deepening our awareness of the body helps us get back in touch with our natural hunger and satiety cues. We learn to eat when we’re truly hungry and stop when we’ve had enough.
Deeper mindfulness of the body lets us experience – physically and viscerally – what it feels like to overeat, or to eat the “wrong” foods. Awareness of the body’s sensory feedback naturally changes our habits in the direction of health and moderation.
Mindfulness of the body is also a powerful stress reducer. Stress, all by itself, can lead us to an unhealthy relationship with food. But flooding the body with mindfulness is profoundly relaxing and healing (most bodies are crying out for this kind of awareness). It could even be said that mindfulness is the polar opposite of stress. As mindfulness reduces our stress and anxiety, tendencies to “stress eat” diminish.
Finally, mindfulness of the body also gets us more in touch with its needs for exercise, which instead of feeling like an obligation, starts to become a natural desire.3
Mindful Eating – The Ground Floor
Building on Mindfulness of the Body, we can next become mindful of our eating habits (such as eating too fast), as well as the rich and enjoyable sensory experience of food that we may have missed through lack of awareness.
Mindful eating helps us better appreciate our food, and help us enjoy our food more, while eating less. For example, we may have a food craving, but mindfulness allows us to satisfy the craving with less food, because mindfulness helps us to enjoy it more.
Mindful eating may also help us recognize that certain foods are not actually that pleasing to us. Mindfully eating potato chips (not to pick on potato chips), rather than mindlessly gulping them as we may usually do, may help us realize that greasy potato chips aren’t actually that appealing as a food. Such direct experiential insights, courtesy of mindfulness, lead to natural and easy changes in our dietary choices and habits.
3 New evidence also suggests that mindfulness increases the likelihood that intentions to exercise will actually lead to exercise. It also indicates that mindfulness contributes to better exercise outcomes (see Appendix.)
The Mindfulness Approach to Freedom from Food Fixation
Most important and fundamentally, mindful eating leads us towards a place in which the food the body needs, and the food the mind wants, are aligned. This distinction between what we need and what we desire is the distinction between hunger and appetite. As a standard nutrition textbook says, “Hunger and appetite both encourage eating – with a distinction. Hunger is physiological (an inborn instinct), whereas appetite is psychological (a learned response to food).”4
What this means is that hunger is a need that comes from the body. Appetite is a want that comes from the mind.
As we begin to reconcile this inner split between hunger and appetite, we discover that what we want is more frequently what we also need. Bodily hunger and mental appetite reunite into a single healthy desire.
So ultimately, mindful eating means eating the food you want, but with a twist. As our mindfulness grows, the food we want becomes more aligned with the food our body actually needs.
Mindfulness of Thoughts – The Middle Floor
Building upon the foundation of the body, and the “ground floor” of mindful eating, we can build the “middle floor” of our mindfulness by becoming mindful of our thoughts. We may not be aware just how powerfully thoughts influence our behavior. Nearly all of our actions – and most fixated or addictive behavior – is preceded by thought-intentions of which we are not fully aware. Cultivating awareness of these thought-intentions is an essential aspect of attaining liberation from unwanted fixations.
Both the quantity and quality of our thoughts have the amazing power to influence our body, emotions, and resulting behavior. As we practice mindfulness, we discover that compulsive and incessant thinking is correlated with bodily tension and stress. And as noted above, bodily stress is intimately correlated with food fixation.
4 Whitney, Eleanor, and Rolfes, Sharon. (2010). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
The Mindfulness Approach to Freedom from Food Fixation
Mindfulness fundamentally changes your relationship to food and your body, and provides the foundation for healthy weight management that was missing from other programs and approaches. But mindfulness also offers many other benefits. The following list includes benefits for which there is strong evidence, and others for which preliminary research is promising.
Area/Concern and its Benefit
Delay in age-related decline
Reduction in anger (improved anger management)
Reduction of anxiety, both acute and chronic
Reduction in blood pressure
Improved quality of life during cancer treatment
Reduction of cholesterol levels
Improvement in chronic fatigue syndrome
Enhanced cognitive function
Reduction in symptoms of depression
Decreases in emotional distress
Lowered heart rate
Enhanced immune function
Increases in intelligence, school grades and learning ability
Increase in lifespan
Increased marital satisfaction
Improvement in short-term and long-term memory
Improvement in migraine symptoms
Reduction of symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Improvement in chronic pain conditions
Reduction of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Reduced complications from pregnancy
Improvement in treatment of psychological conditions
quality of life
Enhanced quality of life
Improvement in sleep disorders
Overall stress reduction
Reduction of substance abuse
Reduced muscle tension
Enhanced weight management
The Mindfulness Approach to Freedom from Food Fixation
The quality or content of our thoughts also adds to our stress. While positive thoughts have the power to improve our mood or create pleasurable feelings, negative thoughts create emotional stress. Cognitive-behavioral psychology has conclusively demonstrated that chronic negative thinking is most often the cause of mood disorders such as depression.
Thoughts affect our behavior, because thought nearly always precedes action. If we are not mindful of our thoughts, then even seemingly innocuous thoughts, such as “I want some chocolate,” may lead to unconscious, recurrent, and/or addictive behaviors.
Fortunately, cultivating mindfulness of thoughts can reduce our predilection for nonstop thinking, correspondingly reducing our stress and the effects of that stress on our eating.
Most important, mindfulness provides a liberating “gap” between a thought like “I need some chocolate” and the action that typically follows. We discover, perhaps for the first time, that we have a choice. We may still decide to act on the thought, but we now have the freedom not to. In mindfully recognizing thoughts before automatically acting on them, we discover the incomparable freedom of being able, perhaps for the first time in our lives, to consciously choose our behaviors.
Mindfulness of Emotions
For most people who suffer from a food fixation, the benefits of being mindful of one’s emotions is obvious. It’s estimated that over 75% of unconscious or compulsive eating is actually “emotional eating.”
Nearly everyone (whether struggling with a food fixation or not) occasionally uses food to manage uncomfortable or “dark” emotions. Certain types or quantities of food actually have the power to temporarily change our brain chemistry, and thus our emotional states. Whether sugar, chocolate, fat, or carbs – or simply by bingeing – food has the remarkable ability to change or mask our moods and emotions. This is the reality underlying the classic joke, “Inside me there’s a thin person struggling to get out. But I can usually sedate her with four or five cupcakes.”
Fortunately, while it’s possible to become habituated or even addicted to changing our brain chemistry with food, mindfulness can lead us towards liberation from this pattern. As with body and thoughts, mindfulness is a fundamentally different way of being with our emotions. Mindfulness of emotions is a vast improvement over management of emotions. As we cultivate mindfulness of our emotions, we can gradually yet steadfastly liberate ourselves from emotional eating patterns.5
Will Mindfulness Work For Me?
When we consider a new program or approach to eating, or to anything, we may wonder, “Will this really work for me? Can I really change this time?”
Relatively few people ever lastingly change their behavior in the direction of health and freedom. Why? Because, as you have learned in this report, authentic and lasting change requires awareness on all levels of our experience – body, behavior, thoughts, and emotions. Yet most dieting approaches don’t address any of these levels of our experience.
The other reason that few people change is that most of us have become too entranced by our society’s obsession with the painless (but ineffective) “quick fix.” The “quick fix”
5 There is not space in this brief report for an in-depth description of how this works. Briefly, however, eating to manage an emotion happens only in the wake of a preceding (usually totally unconscious) event – our strongly identifying with that emotion. In essence, emotions are like clouds – they come and go in our inner experience (if we allow them to). But without mindfulness, we often strongly identify with an emotion (when we think, “I am angry,” or “I am bored”). In doing so, we actually cause ourselves to experience a great deal of unnecessary suffering. Because mindfulness gradually releases the identification with emotions that is the foundation of our emotional suffering, the roots of emotional eating are literally disabled, and our eating behaviors naturally shift in the direction of health and freedom.
A mindfulness approach to food fixation is grounded in the following principles:
1.Focused on the root causes of fixation, rather than the results (increased body weight, etc.)
2.Focused on the four levels of inner experience that influence eating – body, eating behaviors, thoughts, and emotions
3.Not rules-based or deprivation-oriented; instead, oriented towards discovering within one’s personal experience what food, and how much food, one’s body really needs
4.Helps us to be cognizant of our tendencies to overlook effective long-term solutions in favor of painless “quick fixes”
is part of our culture of instant gratification. Perhaps because of the miracles of technology, and the pace of our lives, we expect instantaneous results and solutions to any problem, and may resist the idea (if only unconsciously) that we need to invest something of ourselves in order to change.
There are certainly problems for which a quick solution works. But as just about anyone who has struggled with it knows, eating isn’t one of them. If “quick fixes” like the latest fad diet really worked, then we wouldn’t be constantly on the lookout for the next one.
Like weeds, protracted problems involving eating require ongoing maintenance, or better, an approach that goes to their roots. Tearing the tops off weeds only guarantees that they’ll grow back tomorrow. Digging their roots out takes care of them once and for all.
The only real block to authentic, lasting, and healthy change in our lack of awareness. When we choose to take the path of awareness, real, fundamental, and lasting change is not only possible, it must happen.
The poet Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” The path of eating and living with awareness – mindfulness – is still, for most people, the one “less travelled by.” If you decide to take it, see if it doesn’t make all the difference.
Built on the principles discussed in this report, The Mindfulness Diet™ program goes to the root of troubles related to eating behaviors, dietary choices, and body weight concerns. The Mindfulness Diet™ is a comprehensive, easy-to-understand, self-paced program that you can practice from the comfort of your home. Additional features and
support, including a user forum and Mindfulness Diet Software™, will be available soon.
To learn more about The Mindfulness Diet™ program, or to get started right now, visit: www.MindfulnessDiet.com.
If “quick fixes” like the latest fad diet actually worked, then we wouldn’t be constantly on the lookout for the next one.
Research on mindfulness dates back more than 30 years, and research on related mind-body disciplines even further back, to the 1930’s. Research on mindfulness in general, and mindful eating in particular, is continuing at an accelerating pace. The following is a summary of some of the most recent mindfulness and mindful eating-related research studies.
A 2005 study confirmed growing evidence that mindfulness training can lead to excellent improvements in binge eating symptoms.6
In 2006, a study indicated that mindfulness may be associated with better exercise outcomes.7 Another study reported that an 8-week mindfulness program led to a 32% overall reduction in stress symptoms, and a 56% reduction in total mood disturbance.8 A 2006 review of mindfulness-based approaches to eating disorders reported that each of the approaches “provides individuals with a heightened ability to simply observe feelings, behaviors and experiences, to disengage automatic and often dysfunctional reactivity, and then to allow themselves to work with and develop wiser and more balanced relationships with their selves, their eating, and their bodies.”9
In 2007, a new study reported that increases in mindfulness predicted decreases in the reported number of binges, and that more awareness of satiety cues was correlated with a reduction in the number of binges. Participants found that allowing the body to self-regulate (eating when hungry and stopping when full) was more satisfying than the diet-binge cycle that they were used to, and reported being pleasantly surprised by not gaining weight.10 Another study in 2007 reported on a link between mindfulness and exercise, saying that “intentions predicted physical activity among mindful individuals and not among less-mindful individuals.”11 Another article that year reported that mindfulness “provides a new dimension to assist in educating for a healthy body-mind unity.”12
In 2008, it was reported that a study of an obese individual that included physical exercise, a food awareness program, mindful eating, and a mindfulness procedure as a self-control strategy, helped that individual to reduce his weight from 315 pounds to 171 pounds, increased his physical activity, helped him to eat healthy foods and stop eating rapidly, and substantially reduced his serious medical
6 Baer, R., et al. (2005) Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy applied to binge eating: A case study. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 12:3, 351-358.
7 Ulmer, Christi S. (2006) Mindfulness as a moderator of coping response and the abstinence violation effect: A test of the role of mindfulness in the relapse prevention model for exercise. Dissertation Abstracts International, 68/3, 174.
8 Minor, H., et al. (2006) Evaluation of a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program for Caregivers of Children with Chronic Conditions. Soc Work Health Care, 43:1, 91-109.
9 Baer, R. (Ed.) (2006) Mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions: Conceptualization, application, and empirical support. San Diego, CA: Elsevier.
10 Kristeller, J.L., et al. (2007) Mindfulness meditation: a treatment of binge eating disorder. In The Relevance of Wisdom Traditions in Contemporary Society: the Challenge to Psychology. Eburon.
11 Chatzisarantis, N., et al. (2007) Mindfulness and the intention-behavior relationship within the theory of planned behavior. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(5), 663-76.
12 Lu, C., et al. (2007) Mindfulness: A new dimension in physical education. Future directions of research on teaching and teacher education in physical education conference. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
risk factors.13 Also in that year, another study reported that a mindfulness-based group intervention led to improvement in binge eating symptoms, depressive symptomatology, and emotion regulation skills and increased motivation to change maladaptive eating behavior.14 Another interesting study in 2008 reported that higher levels of mindfulness led to a “merging of action and awareness,” clear goals, improved concentration, and greater attentional control and emotional control.15
A 2009 study reported on mindfulness and weight loss showed that, particularly in those who applied the principles and practices of mindfulness consistently, there were greater increases in physical activity and significantly greater reductions in Body Mass Index.16
Another study reported that mindfulness is helpful for weight management and that “a growing body of literature … suggests mind-body strategies support and enhance a multi-modal weight loss program that focuses on lifestyle changes of diet, exercise, reduced stress, and mindful living.”17 A 2009 study reported preliminary support for the role of acceptance (allowing) and mindfulness in improving the quality of life of obese individuals while simultaneously augmenting their weight control efforts.18
In 2010, a new study suggested that mindfulness could lead to more flexible emotional regulation and an enhanced ability to detach from negative states.19 Another study reported that mindfulness-based strategies can effectively reduce food cravings in an overweight and obese adult population, and that this may be due to “prevention of goal frustration, disengagement of obsessive thinking and reduction of automatic relations between urge and reaction.”20 Another report reported that mindfulness training led to awareness of eating behaviors faster for the mindfulness group than a control group, and concluded that “mindful eating may be an effective approach towards dietary change.”21
Finally, another new study reported that disordered eating-related thinking was positively associated with poor psychological health, and inversely related to mindfulness. Mindfulness, which was “also inversely related to general psychological ill-health and emotional distress, was found to partially mediate the relations between disordered eating-related cognitions and the two predicted variables.”22
13 Singh N.N., et al. (2008) A mindfulness-based health wellness program for managing morbid obesity. Clinical Case Studies, 7:4, 327-339.
14 Leaheya, T.M., et al. (2008) A cognitive-behavioral mindfulness group therapy intervention for the treatment of binge eating in bariatric surgery patients. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 15:4, 364-375.
15 Kee, Y.H., et al. (2008) Relationships between mindfulness, flow dispositions and mental skills adoption: A cluster analytic approach. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9:4, 393-411.
16 Tapper, K., et al. (2009). Exploratory randomised controlled trial of a mindfulness-based weight loss intervention for women. Appetite, 52:2, 396-404.
17 Koithan, M. (2009) Mind-body solutions for obesity. Journal of Nursing Practice, 5:7, 536–537.
18 Lillis, J., et al. (2009) Teaching Acceptance and Mindfulness to Improve the Lives of the Obese: A Preliminary Test of a Theoretical Model. Ann. Behavioral Medicine, 37, 58-69.
19Chiesa, A., et al. (2010). Functional neural correlates of mindfulness meditations in comparison with psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and placebo effect. Is there a link? Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 22:3, 104–117.
20Hugo, J.E.M., et al. (2010). Coping with food cravings. Investigating the potential of a mindfulness-based intervention. Appetite, 55:1, 160-163.
21Sopko, C. (2010). Evaluating a mindfulness intervention as an aid for dietary change. The Ohio State University. Department of Human Nutrition Honors Thesis.
22Masuda, A., et al. (2010). Mindfulness mediates the relation between disordered eating-related cognitions and psychological distress. Eating Behaviors, in press, corrected proof.