In my 17 years as a personal trainer I’ve seen my fair share of emotional eating. It crops up time and time again and is a huge and common obstacle to good health.
I’ve seen adults with a lifelong pattern of eating in response to all sorts of emotions; sadness, anger, stress, frustration, loneliness, boredom – and sometimes not just eating but bingeing. If you spend 40plus years doing this, it becomes hard-wired into your brain – your default setting is to respond to painful emotions by eating. How hard do you reckon it is to reverse this pattern? Hard, bloody hard! But, with persistence and by doing the hard yards, it can be achieved.
But what if we could prevent that pattern developing in the first place? And as parents we have that opportunity with the next generation. Imagine giving your toddler daughter of today a life of not being an emotional eater – what a precious gift towards her long term health. If you are an emotional eater yourself, you will fully understand how powerful that gift could be. Life changing! What if it saved her from having a life-long weight issue or a love-hate relationship with her body but instead provided the foundation for a healthy relationship with both food and her body.
Yesterday morning as I was packing my daughters lunch box I was sad; the whole family was sad because our beloved family pet bunny Louie had died the night before. A thought popped into my head to pack a square of my special Lindt dark chocolate in her lunchbox as a little treat to cheer her up during the day. Luckily my beliefs and understanding around emotions and food kicked in and I actually stopped myself because of the message it would send her. I would be telling her that when we’re sad we eat sweet fatty delicious chocolate to cheer ourselves up. Instead I gave her lots of cuddles, walked her into her classroom (instead of dropping her at the gate) and explained to her teacher what had happened. I showed her love, care and compassion with my words, affection and actions – NOT FOOD!
But how often in society is food (and alcohol – but don’t get me started on that!!) used as reward or a way of making us feel better. In my case, it might have even made me feel better to give my little girl, struggling with her first real experience of grief, something to ‘sweeten’ her day.
Emotional eating is learned behaviour. If you’re an emotional eater, think back to your childhood and take a minute to ponder on how you may have learnt to be an emotional eater. Generally, emotional eaters have a lowered ability to cope well with stress and to read the internal cues of hunger and satiety which often results in eating for all the wrong reasons.
My tips to prevent your child from becoming an emotional eater:
As parents one of the best things we can do is model a healthy relationship with food. Try to not go on crazy deprivation diets in front of them or eat lettuce leaves while they eat a proper meal.
Use your parent-power to set your kids up for a lifetime of good eating habits. Emotional eating is much easier to prevent than cure!
Exercise Physiologist – Wellness Coach – Health & Wellbeing Speaker
Reach Your Peak Personal Training
2/15 Kenji St Mornington VIC 3931
m: 0409 133 825
w: www.peakpt.com.au e: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are officially half way through Winter! It’s freezing cold, windy, raining and dark and it becomes all too easy to turn off the alarm and roll back over to sleep in the mornings or to stay on the couch in front of the fire and TV in the evenings instead of exercising. And if you’re an outdoor exerciser it certainly becomes easy to blame the lack of daylight and the weather to not get out and train.
But Imagine it’s Spring or Summer when you finally head back to the gym or go for a run – you’re so unfit; everything hurts during the session, you can’t walk for days after and your clothes are a little more snug. You have that sinking feeling of “I should have kept training over Winter, why did I stop?” – I call this Winter Training Regret. Do away with WTR and keep training so when Spring & Summer come around you will be looking and feeling great!
Here are my top tips to keep you motivated to train during Winter:
Motivation is an emotion. It has peaks and troughs. Generally in Summer it’s peaking and in Winter it can be non-existent. Coming to terms with the fact that you need to keep exercising in the absence of motivation is what committed exercisers do. They don’t even entertain the thought of not training. The alarm goes off they get up and go.
Once you’ve set a big goal you no longer need to be motivated to train because you are now committed to achieving your goal. It’s now about something much bigger. At the moment I’m training for a running event so I’m out running no matter what the weather conditions – I’ve been completely unmotivated to go out and train in the freezing cold conditions but I’m determined to achieve my goal. So either find an event to train for or set a goal that means something to you – I promise you it will mean the difference between training or not on many occasions.
If you’re not a hard-core exerciser then you need to make getting to training as easy and as comfortable as possible so the chances of it actually happening increase. Make it somewhere close to home or work and somewhere warm and dry (indoors) where there’s other people to tell you what to do and motivate you. Exercise you enjoy at the right time of day for you will also increase your chances of turning up (if you’re not a morning person then 6am classes are not going to make you successful).
I love accountability. Whether it’s a personal trainer or a buddy, have someone that knows your exercise intentions and holds you accountable. Have people you pre-arrange to meet and train with. It might be a whole network of people – Monday you meet a friend for a run, Tuesday you meet a different friend at a gym class, Wednesday you meet your personal trainer and so on. Having accountability works! It’s no longer just about you, it’s now about your buddy too and you don’t want to let them down.
Now I’m not just saying this because I own a PT studio! But pre-paying for training increases exercise adherence rates dramatically. No one likes wasting money. So pay upfront and lock yourself in for a program, PT or classes to help make sure you get your butt to the gym.
Who doesn’t love that feeling you experience after a great workout? You feel amazing, energised, mentally sharp, focused and ready to take on the world. At the other end of the scale, how do you feel when you press snooze on the alarm and then it’s 6.15am and the class started at 6am. You’ve missed your workout for the day for an extra 30 minutes sleep and then you feel guilty for the entire day! So next time you can’t be bothered training, use the discomfort of regret to get you motivated.
Ok it’s Winter, we have to accept it, but maybe we could try embracing it too. Take up skiing or snowboarding. Suddenly your gym sessions have purpose – to be a better, stronger, fitter and more balanced skier and to be able to walk into the office Monday morning after a weekend of skiing instead of crawling in. Or even get rugged up and hit the outdoors for a hike, a ride or a run – there is something quite invigorating about training outdoors in the Winter.
Sometimes a new training outfit is all you need to get yourself motivated. Hook yourself up with some apparel to help you face the cold weather and not only will you look and feel better but the monetary investment should motivate you to make your purchases worthwhile. Good excuse to buy yourself a new pair of full length gym pants ladies!
As they say “Summer bodies are made in Winter”, so don’t use Winter as an excuse to drop the ball with your exercise. Happy training!
Why Do You Exercise?
The answer to this question may depend on your stage in life. For example, in my 20’s I exercised/trained to get faster. Competing in triathlons and cycling (road and mountain) with men, I was constantly trying to beat my last time, increase my distance or keep up with the boys! During both of my pregnancies I exercised and introduced Clinical Pilates to keep my body strong and physically able to cope with pregnancy, childbirth and raising a child. When my kids were babies I loved my prams so much (I only just parted with them a few months ago and my kids are now 6 and 7 years old!) because they gave me the freedom to exercise with my kids. It enabled me to get out of the house, into the fresh air and to run or walk as much as I liked and the kids were happy.
During another phase in my life, a challenging couple of years, exercise was my sanity saver. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without exercise, I may have spiralled into depression, I may have given up on helping my son, I may have lost my optimistic attitude – who knows? But when I felt completely overwhelmed, downtrodden, and literally beaten up by my son I would put on my running shoes as soon as my husband walked in the door of an evening and run as fast as I could for 5kms. At the end of that run my Wonder Woman super powers would return and I knew I could cope with anything life threw at me – and I did. Big problems became tiny problems and solutions were found.
Now in my late 30’s I exercise because I get grumpy and miss it if I don’t! I exercise for the social connection, the numerous health benefits, how it makes me feel and for the time it gives me just for “me”. It’s high on my list of values, I still love the challenge of entering and training for an event, it enables me to be a healthy role model for my kids and it delivers me a functional body that can do some pretty cool stuff. For example; a couple of weeks ago we camped at Pt Leo beach and I had a surf lesson. I spent 2 hours paddling around, catching waves, standing up, balancing and riding waves and I absolutely loved it! The next morning I went for an 8km run on the sand along the shoreline, it was the most magical morning and experience. The weekend before I’d spent both days (after having exercised in the mornings) picking up, carting and stacking about 6 cubic metres of fire wood. Not exactly fun, but a great example of how my body, because I exercise and keep it strong, allows me to do that sort of stuff!
I love seeing the work we all do in the gym being applied to the real word. I love the way my gym deadlifts & farmers carries enabled me to pick up my full wheel barrow load. I love the way mountain climbers & burpees allowed me to be able to quickly jump to my feet on the surfboard and my gym core work enabled me to balance on the board (even if it was only for a few seconds!). I love the way my gym cardio fitness allowed me to have a euphoric running experience along a pristine beach.
So getting back to the original question – why do YOU exercise?
It’s important to get clear on your “why”. I encourage you to think beyond weight loss and fitting into your skinny jeans and think about all the other amazing benefits exercise brings to your body and life. There are endless reasons to move your body and keep it strong. Some benefits are physical and some are mental, some are seen and some unseen. Ultimately, exercise makes life better. Knowing why you exercise may be just what gets you out the door next time when you can’t be stuffed and are making a million excuses as to why you shouldn’t!
Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Wellness Coach
I want to let you into a little secret, I love to learn from special people I admire and respect – Craig Harper is top of my list! Craig’s talk last weekend “A High Performance Life” was a ripper. Here’s a rundown on Craig’s impressive Bio; Pretty much the first personal trainer in Australia, he started PT back in 1987 when only Madonna had a trainer. Opening his first PT studio in 1990 he went on to open another three around Melbourne. In 1999 I was privileged to do my university practicum hours at Harper’s Personal Training in Hampton. And that my friend’s is where my dream for what is now Reach Your Peak began. Craig then went on to become an exercise scientist, a university lecturer, a TV presenter, radio host (he hosts The Science of Sport on SEN Sunday mornings), an author of 5 books, the director of Health & Wellness at DayHab (an addiction treatment facility), works with many elite athletes and sporting teams, plus he presents over one hundred corporate motivational talks a year. He is the most energetic and entertaining speaker, drops the F bomb plenty, speaks of sphincters & weeing, is an amazing story teller and leaves you wanting more. If it’s a polished and polite speaker you want, then Craig is not your man. But if you want the message given to you straight with a side serve of “stop f*cking around” then Craig is definitely your man!
Here’s some of my favourite take-home messages from the talk:
1. Changing your body is not about your body.
Losing weight and getting fit is all about your relationship you have with food, your relationship you have with exercise and your relationship you have with your body. What has happened the last 20 times you’ve tried to lose weight? What is your relationship with exercise, food & your body? Assess and determine which relationship needs work.
2. Find your Why.
One I use a lot in coaching. You’ve set a goal. But why do you want to achieve that goal? This is the most important part. This helps you make an emotional connection with the goal. Your emotional mind is so much stronger, so building up that emotional connection will increase your chances of success. For example an overweight middle aged man’s goal may be to lose 20kg. His why may be because he wants to be attractive, to wear size 36 pants, to wear fashionable clothes, to feel comfortable going on dating websites, to find a girlfriend, to not die young of a heart attack like his father. Can you see how much more powerful the why is?
3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
One of my favourites. We naturally want everything to be quick, easy and painless. But anything worth having involves discomfort – whether you’re saving for a holiday, training for a marathon, applying for a new dream job or losing weight.
4. Don’t rely on motivation.
This is something I talk about a lot with my clients. Motivation is a temporary emotion. It has peaks and troughs and sometimes it loves you and sometimes it leaves you high and dry. So don’t rely on it. You need to learn how to stay productive, effective and proactive in the absence of motivation. Ie. You need to be committed!
5. Let go of your uncontrollables.
Stop wasting emotional energy on things you can’t control. Control your controllables and let go of your uncontrollables.
6. You determine your reality.
If I picked out four people during Craig’s talk would they all be having the same experience? Well yes, they are all in the same room listening to the same words. But no, they are all having a very unique experience. And that experience is determined by their own personal interpretation (the story they are telling themselves). For example, person 1 could be thinking “wow this is awesome, so motivated”, person 2 could be thinking “who does this guy think he is? What a wanker”, person 3 is thinking “He just said F$%#, I don’t like that” and person 4 might be thinking “I wonder if he’s single?”. So one person totally motivated, one very unimpressed and possibly challenged, one offended and one totally in love!! Consciously or not, every day you create your own reality. What is your reality? Why is it your reality? And is it serving or sabotaging you?
7. What’s your default setting?
Approximately 5% of our mind is conscious, leaving the other 95% to be subconscious. That 95% is our default setting, it’s who we are, our normal. Our subconscious behaviours are very efficient and require little to no thought or effort, like brushing your teeth. To apply this to behaviour change, we need our “new” behaviours to become part of our subconscious mind, so they become easy. What “sometimes” behaviours do you have that you need to become “all the time” behaviours?
8. Transformation lives in the application.
You can attend all the workshops, read all the books, listen to all the experts and even set goals and make plans – but if you don’t actually apply it, nothing will change.
That’s a small snap shot of Craig’s 3 hour talk, but plenty to get you started if you have some changes you would like to make. Be a person of action. Get clear about what you want, set goals, get uncomfortable, be committed and enjoy the journey to change.
Follow Craig on facebook or on Instagram he’s called whiteboardlessons.
Craig is also running a personal development weekend at Camp Manyung Mt Eliza 19-21st August.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Wellness Coach
I get asked a lot about what I feed my kids. Why? Because for most parents it is a challenging, frustrating, thankless task that takes up a lot of our time and thought processes. Do your kids come home from school with full lunch boxes, raid the fridge and pantry and then turn their nose up at the beautiful home-cooked meal you just spent the last hour preparing? If you answered yes, you already know you’re not alone because every other mum at school has said the same thing! We all need help in this area and love tips and suggestions from others. Having two kids of my own Oscar, 7 and Lily, 6 and a huge love and passion for nutritious food I’ve invested a lot of time into trying to make my kids healthy eaters. It’s certainly not easy, it’s always a work in progress but I’m prepared to win the battle!
I’ve put together my Top 10 tips to get kids to eat healthy, I’m sure you could add plenty more. So whether you’re a mum, dad, grandparent, aunty, uncle, babysitter or friend to little people hopefully this will help you out:
1. Keep them hungry! Noticed how much better food tastes when you’re hungry compared to when you’re full? I don’t know about you but I could eat anything when I’m starving. It’s the same for kids, stack the odds by making sure they’re hungry at mealtimes – the chances of them eating whatever you put in front of them are a lot higher. Especially if you want them to eat a big plate of veggies at dinner time!
2. Eat Dinner Early – this can be tricky as kids get older and there’s after school activities but forward planning and food preparation gets a big tick when it comes to getting a meal on the table quickly. Put the slow cooker on, prepare a few meals on the weekend or cook part of the meal in the morning. The earlier they eat the less tired and grumpy they are, the less they need to snack in the afternoon and the hungrier they will be.
3. Keep Veggies Alive – Over-cooked veggies taste awful – I don’t find over-cooked broccoli appealing so how can I expect my kids to? Either serve them raw, lightly steamed or stir fried. Keep them alive and tasty with a bit of crunch.
4. Stop relying on Carbs – Try to feed your kids protein and healthy fats at each meal. Why? It fills them up. Short story; eating carbohydrates raises blood sugar levels which raises your insulin levels, the food is stored for later use, blood sugar levels fall and very quickly you are hungry again. By adding protein and fat to your meals you slow down the digestive process, blood sugar levels don’t rise as much and you feel fuller for longer.
5. Stop the endless snacks – Do you feel like you are constantly feeding your kids all day? Are they saying they’re hungry all the time? This goes back to point number 4, if you feed them good sources of protein and fats at meals then they should only need a very small snack, if any, between meals. By limiting snacks we are also building hunger for the next meal (see point 1).
6. Bring on nutritious food – I may not be popular with some mums for saying this but a white bread jam or vegemite sandwich is not lunch! If your kids love sandwiches at lunch time then add a good source of protein (tinned fish, chicken, egg etc), avocado, cheese and lots of salad and serve it on a really heavy brown grainy bread. But think outside the square lunch doesn’t have to be a sandwich; try rice paper rolls, sushi, leftover meat/chicken/salmon patties from dinner, mini frittatas, zucchini slice, veggie sticks, boiled eggs.
7. Keep trying rejected foods – Don’t give up if your child rejects a particular food, try presenting it a different way next time. If they didn’t like steamed carrot sticks then next time try a whole raw carrot. If they don’t like boiled eggs, then try scrambled. Keep trying at least 10 times over a year presenting the food in different guises and get them involved in the cooking process. Kids are smart, try explaining to them what vitamins/minerals are in that food and what it’s good for. (Stay tuned for more on this topic).
8. Don’t make a second meal – I can honestly say I’ve never made a second meal. I may have once or twice cooked up an egg to go with a meal if they wouldn’t eat the protein component. But my kids know that if you don’t eat what I’ve cooked there’s nothing else.
9. Reduce food chemicals – Basically try to stick to real foods as much as possible, bake things at home, read labels and avoid numbers, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours. When you start reading the ingredients list on products you’ll be surprised at how many additives you find. I believe there’s sufficient anecdotal evidence out there from parents witnessing the difference in their child’s behaviour when certain foods are consumed. Read your bread label, does it have preservative 282? If so, ditch it. Yogurt; preservative 202? Muesli bars; preservative 220? Juice; preservative 211 or 223? Some families witness a huge improvement in their child’s behaviour when they remove food chemicals from their child’s diet.
10. Say NO! – It’s ok to say no. When my kids first started swimming at Kings every week they asked for a lolly snake and I said no every week. Eventually they gave up. Then they put in the ice cream fridge and again I said no every week and eventually they gave up again!
I hope these tips help you but most importantly I would strongly encourage you to set a good example! Remember kids are always watching and learning from you. You can tell them to drink water while slugging down a Coke, but your picture is still telling them that drinking coke is fine. The responsibility is huge, you’re helping shape the relationship your child has with food for the rest of their lives. So make it a healthy and happy relationship – grow the food, prepare and cook the food and enjoy the food with friends and family, all together.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Wellness Coach
Reach Your Peak Personal Training
P 0409 133 825 E email@example.com