How to Get Your Home Organized

How to Get Your Home Organized

Do you ever feel like the clutter in your house is taking over your life?  Or, maybe you have been piling everything up in the attic or in the basement and you know you need to go through everything, but the thought overwhelms you, so you go take a nap instead?  Totally been there.

There are all types of clutter – maybe for you it’s books and magazines, kids’ toys, collectibles you don’t know what to do with like that stash of beanie babies you’ve collected, or clothes that don’t fit you anymore or are simply worn out.  Or, maybe it goes deeper to more of a tendency to hoard items.  The “I’m going to hang on to this because you never know when someone might need it” is the hoarder motto.  I’m being somewhat flippant here but if you are truly struggling with hoarding, it may be time for you to seek professional help, which you can find here. For everyone else, I believe clearing out the clutter starts with determining what you really love and use regularly and what needs to be given away or thrown in the garbage.  The most important thing to remember is decluttering and getting organized is not going to get done in one day.  You have to pace yourself and set realistic expectations, so you don’t get overwhelmed and then give up.  Let’s start in your closet because that’s an easy one.

First, if you are hanging on to clothes that don’t fit you it’s time to donate them to someone who can use them.  And you have to be real with yourself.  If you’ve got a pair of jeans in your closet you’ve had since high school that you are planning to squeeze into again one day, they’ve gotta go!  There’s no reason to have a constant reminder of woulda, coulda, shoulda in your closet.  You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.  For clothes that are stained or have holes – pitch them or keep a couple for when you’re mowing.  Do not, I repeat do NOT donate clothes with stains.  People who are shopping for used items don’t want your raggy nasty stained or otherwise soiled clothes.  When I’m thinning out my closet the first thing I do is go through each piece and really think about if I like how I look, if I like how it feels like does it pinch anywhere, is it itchy, or is it stretched out or too faded? If it doesn’t fit the criteria, into the donate pile it goes.  The same goes for t-shirts.  It’s amazing how many t-shirts one person can accumulate, they are like weeds.  You get rid of one and another one pops up in its place.  If you don’t like the fabric or it is the most appalling color for you, get rid of it.  If you’re hanging on to t-shirts for sentimental reasons, hand them over to someone who can turn them into a t-shirt quilt for you.  And hoodies are no different.  Seriously, unless you live in a cold-weather climate, you probably need to pare down your collection.  I know hoodies are comfy and cozy on cold fall and winter days, but are you truly wearing all your hoodies?  I’m guessing not.  Pick out your favorites to keep and donate the rest to someone who really needs them.  When it comes to actually organizing your closet, I like to separate everything out by color.  I know that sounds super OCD but hear me out.  When your clothes are organized by color, it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for – especially on busy mornings when you’ve got to get to work.  Instead of digging through your closet, you’ll go right to the color section for the piece, and there it will be.  My closet is organized white, black, brown then ROY G BIV – yes, the colors of the rainbow.  Friends, you’re just dipping your toes into the water of my processes.

Let’s talk socks and undies.  If there are holes in either, throw them away.  And if you have underwear in your drawer that you’ve had since high school…unless you just graduated in May – GROSS!  Throw them away right now.  As for PJs, the same rule applies.  If you have PJs with holes and stains, it’s time to throw them out.  For a lesson on how to fold clothes and organize your drawers, I recommend checking out Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix.  It’s really helped me get my dresser drawers under control.  Finally, if you have shoes that have barely any soles left, holes in the toes, or straps that are broken, into the garbage they go.  One more note about clothes, if you have business attire that you’re planning to get rid of, before you take it to Goodwill, get in contact with a local school.  Oftentimes, students who are in DECA, FBLA, or FCCLA require business attire when they compete against other schools and may benefit from your clothes.

Let’s move to the bathroom.  For some reason, the bathroom cabinets are like a black hole for toiletries.  Here you want to start with expiration dates.  If anything is expired, buh bye.  Soaps and shampoos that you hate the smell of?  Trash.  Old hairsprays or other hair products, see ya.  Cleaning supplies that don’t work or that gag you when you use them?  Get rid of them or give them to a friend who will use them.  And that leads to makeup.  Ladies, I know it’s very easy for your makeup to get out of control.  Trust me, I recently counted the number of MAC eye shadows I have and there were 28!  28!  Mind you, I didn’t purchase all of them because of the recycling program they have, but honestly.  I don’t even use MAC shadows anymore so if you want them, let me know.  If you have a stash as I do, the best thing you can do it to sanitize them and give them to your friends.  Same for palettes.  You can sanitize them and give them to away.  As for storage, the majority of my makeup is in a travel type container that I found on Amazon, which I will link in the show notes.  The same goes for fingernail polishes.  I have a sickness…I love polish.  I recently went through my collection and threw out the ones that were old and globby or if it was a color I hated, I gave it away.  As for the ones I kept, I have an acrylic carrying case that houses all my mani/pedi paraphernalia. And it lives in a hall closet where it doesn’t take up precious bathroom space.  For your drawers and cabinets – you don’t have to go out and buy baskets or other storage unless you just want to.  More than likely, you have something in your house that you can repurpose like cereal boxes or small totes or boxes.  You can buy glue-on magnets for the inside of drawers for things like bobby pins.  And you can use snack-size Ziplock baggies for hair ties.  The key here is to combine like items together so they are easier to find.  If under sink storage is limited for you, you can always purchase a small glass or wooden shelves to utilize wall space for storage.  Moving on.

The kitchen is another area that can very easily get out of control.  Unless you have a monster kitchen with tons of storage, your cabinets are probably stuffed to the gills.  The average kitchen size in America is between 150 and 175 square feet and unless the builder of your home was super smart about kitchen storage, there are probably areas that are useless to you.  My advice here is to start with your cup collection.  For some reason, we seem to have a hodgepodge collection of cups and glasses.  I don’t know if it’s because we get them as gifts or giveaways or if they are leftovers from college.  Regardless, it’s probably time to pare them down.  For me, I love coffee mugs.  I literally have to stop myself from buying new ones.  Even now, I probably have too many, but I actually love and use them all, so they stay.  Maybe for you, it’s an extensive collection of wine glasses.  Keep the ones you love and donate the ones you don’t.  For pots and pans, you know your favorites.  Keep them.  For all others, they either need thrown away or given away.  Then the hard part – gadgets.  I mean, it’s insane how many kitchen gadgets are on the market.  And the majority of them you don’t need.  At the end of Julia Child’s life, a group of people was curating her kitchen before sending everything to the Smithsonian and even she had gadgets that she couldn’t identify.  This is what I do.  Sometimes, there are tools that you only use for specific purposes a few times a year.  So, I will put them in a box and store them either in the basement or garage.  If in a year I haven’t gotten into that box one time, I donate the items.  If, however, I find myself going into that box frequently, then I move it back into the kitchen.  For tips on cleaning and sanitizing your kitchen, check out this post.

Next, let’s talk attic and/or basement.  These spaces can get tricky, especially for people who are very sentimental, or who love decorating for the holidays.  Before Chad and I moved to Kansas City, we went through the attic and cleaned out a bunch of stuff that we’d been hanging on to.  Most of it was leftover crap I had from college or that we had when we lived in separate apartments.  I think we had 3 VCRs.  For you youngsters, VCRs are what we old-timers used to play videotapes on before the invention of DVDs.  After we got everything cleaned out, I felt great and like this huge weight had been lifted.  Then came move out day and we still could not fit all of our things into one moving truck.  I couldn’t freaking believe it!  When we got to KC, I got super serious and honest with myself on why I was holding on to certain items.  We donated or pitched so much stuff, and then I really did feel relieved.  Whether you have attic space, basement space, or both, I recommend getting a good quality shelving system.  We bought ours on sale at Home Depot.  It’s heavy-duty metal and the shelves are adjustable.  We also invested in plastic storage containers, which go on sale throughout the year.  I recommend clear totes, but honestly, as long as you label the outside, it doesn’t really matter.  The key here is to get everything off the floor.  Unless of course, it’s something tall or really heavy.  And don’t feel like you need to go through all your holiday decorations now unless you have the time.  Rather, wait until the season and go through everything then.  My rule of thumb is if I don’t use all the holiday decorations I have for that specific holiday, then I’m probably not as in love with it as I was when I bought it, so it goes to donation or the garage sale pile.

And last, but not least, the garage is a space that people often forget about.  Chad and I always marvel at some garages we drive by because they are packed to the ceiling with boxes and have a little narrow path to walk through.  Maybe they don’t have great storage in their houses, so they have to use the garage.  Or maybe they need to listen to the Adulting With CJ podcast and start donating their stuff.  We’ve also figured that sometimes there’s no way their vehicles would fit in the garage so that’s why they turn it into storage.  Regardless of your situation, you should consider investing in pegboards and shelving.  Oftentimes, we forget about how much usable wall space we have for storage.  Things like Christmas lights, camping gear, and pool items can go in boxes and put on shelves.  For tools, we like pegboards because you can see everything you have rather than being hidden by a tool chest.  However, I’m not against tool chests because they are a great way to get yourself organized you just have to make sure that you’re not filling them up with junk or tools you don’t need.  Also, check out your paint collection.  More than likely, you have old cans of paint and spray paint that are no longer of use and needs to be disposed of properly.  My advice here is the same as the basement/attic spaces.  Try to get as much as you can off the floor.  Especially if you live in an area that can flood.  And, it just makes everything look cleaner.

If you have any ideas or questions about getting organized, I’d love to hear them.  Know that getting organized takes time.  You can’t expect to get everything done in one day.  Remember, organizing is a journey, not a destination.

Episode 15: Introducing A Leadership Series

Have you ever been witness to someone who should never have been put into a leadership position?  You know the type, communication is a foreign concept, they expect you to be a mind reader, you must never question their judgment, and they expect blind allegiance.

On today’s show, I’m introducing a new series about leadership. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart as I am a first-born and natural leader, and also because I’ve always been curious about what makes for a great leader.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • The three traits any great leader should possess
  • Humility is not a weakness in a leader
  • How to be an effective leader

Resources mentioned:

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

Dealing with Cabin Fever

Dealing with Cabin Fever

I know I’ve mentioned that I’ve been suffering from some serious cabin fever.  I never knew how much I loved getting out and about until everything was limited.  You never know how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone, right?  Some days I feel like I’m being held hostage by my house so I decided to reach out to some friends and see if A) they were feeling the same way, and B) what they’ve done about it.  I got several really good suggestions – taking more walks, working part of my day outside, and simply driving around to just get out of the house for a bit.  I’ve also been dabbling in visualization, which sounds real woo woo but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.  For me, I love being near the water so it starts with a sound like ocean waves crashing on the shore, babbling brooks, or light rainfall.  You can find these for free on YouTube. Once I find one I like, I close my eyes and focus on what the place with the water looks like and picture myself there – what it smells like, and who is there with me.  It really helps calm down the feeling of claustrophobia.  If you’ve been feeling the fever, give this exercise a whirl and see if it helps.

And I would say for the last few weeks or so I’ve also really struggled to focus on pretty much anything.  Some days it feels like the squirrels have officially taken over my brain.  Last week I was determined to figure out how to best wrangle those squirrels and get them back in line so I started an experiment.  Everything I’ve read says if you’re finding it hard to get anything accomplished to start with a morning routine.  So I looked at routines that other people have tried and swear by, and came up with my own routine to try with the understanding that if something isn’t working that I can change it at any time.  This is my list – get up when the alarm goes off and not hit snooze and DON’T check my emails, social media, or the news, read for 30 minutes, go for a walk around the block followed up by a short yoga practice, get ready – for me this means doing something to my hair and putting on real clothes, make the bed, open all the blinds in the house, have breakfast if I’m hungry, and then get to work.  Full transparency – I failed every single day to get up when the alarm went off!  I can’t help it, I’m a snooze button pusher from way back!  I usually hit it twice and then get up.  I don’t know what it is, but I’m here to tell you that I’m not going to feel guilty about it.  And since I’ve been trying to be more in tune with my body, I could tell within the first few minutes of the walk if that morning was going to include yoga.  I am a huge fan of yoga and stretching, but there are some days I just can’t do it full-on and you know what?  That’s ok.  I do what I can and what my body is down for.  On those days, I just walked a little farther.

One thing I did find very interesting is that most days after eating breakfast, I wouldn’t get hungry again until near dinnertime.  But I struggled with this.  We’ve been talking about intuitive eating and I’ve mentioned that the process isn’t linear.  I have easy days and not so easy days.  And friends, let me tell you that the clock has more power over me than I realize.  When Noon rolled around it was really hard for me to not get up and eat lunch but I had to continually tell myself that I wasn’t actually hungry and that the clock doesn’t tell me what to do.  So if you are starting on your own intuitive eating journey, know that it is going to take some time to retrain your brain.

The other part I found interesting is how much better I felt before getting to work because I wasn’t weighed down by emails that I’d gotten overnight, the trash of the morning headlines, or the drama of social media.  For me, my emotions are easily controlled by what I read online, and sometimes I just have to say no!  At least not first thing in the morning – give it a try, you may find that by not engaging when you first wake up changes your whole outlook for the day.

The other routine I started was a nighttime or sleep routine.  I am a terrible sleeper from way back and I think it may be genetic because my brother and mom are both terrible sleepers too.  The critical piece for me is the blue light from my phone and the TV.  On most nights, Chad and I fall asleep to the TV being on and even though we set a timer, it takes me that much longer to get to sleep than if It’s off.  My goal was to not have any phone or TV time at least two hours before bed, which would give me ample time to get in some more reading.  However, Chad and I have been playing Minecraft Dungeons and it’s so addictive!  So that whole no TV two hours before bed business turned into more like 30 minutes before bed.  Awhile back I bought some blue light filtering glasses and I’ve been wearing them while we play and then when I head up to bed, I read with them on.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well they’ve worked.  I used to wear them while I was working in front of my computer during the day, but I have found them to be most useful in the evening.  They really help with eye strain, and I think there really is something to filtering out that blue light.  We also stopped turning on the bedroom TV, which again was really hard because we love The Office and before bed is when we tend to watch it.  The last part of this sleep routine is to get my bedroom as dark and as cool as I can.  I honestly can’t tell you if this new nighttime routine is working or not because when I do finally close my eyes, I have images of Minecraft in my head.  When it comes to video games, Chad and I are completionists and since there are so few co-op games we like to play together, once we find one we get a little obsessive with it.  So next week, I’m going to really try and have no TV of any kind two hours before bed.

The last thing I want to mention is that I spend Friday preparing for the week ahead.  I make a personal to-do list, a professional to-do list, and any other tasks or goals I want to accomplish in the week.  I also make the grocery list and get them ordered and I tidy up the house.  Doing this on Friday really helps free up my mind space for the weekend.  I hate working on the weekends and when I don’t have to worry about work things, I am better able to be more present with Chad or my friends and family.  It also means I don’t have to spend the weekend cleaning when I’d rather be resting or pretty much doing anything else.  The only exception to this is laundry.  If you’ve ever watched Jersey Shore, they talk about doing GTL, which for them means gym, tan, laundry.  For us, it’s grocery store, time together, laundry and that’s what Sundays are for.  Sunday is also the day I pamper myself.  I give myself a facial, exfoliate my skin, do a hair mask, and work on my nails.  I do this because it is a good way for me to reset for the week ahead.  If you have any daily or weekly routines that are working, let me know what they are because maybe you’re doing something I hadn’t already thought about.  Or, if you’ve been feeling unfocused and stressed out, feel free to give my daily routine a try.  As I said, it’s all one big experiment and you’ll never know what you love or hate until you test it.

 

Episode 14: How to Get Organized

On today’s show, we’re chatting about getting your house organized.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How to get your closet organized for good
  • How to decide what to get rid of from your bathroom, kitchen, and storage areas
  • Advice on setting up your basement or attic storage spaces

Resources mentioned:

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

We’ve been talking about habits and intuitive eating and I’ve heard from several of you that you’d like to hear more about the intuitive eating process so I thought we’d jump in and take a closer look.

The book I bought that brought the philosophy of intuitive eating to light for me is called, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works, and was written by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.  The first edition was published in the mid-90s and through the years they’ve continued updating the information as new studies become available.  In fact, they’ve recently released a brand new edition and there is a companion workbook that goes with it.

The premise of the book is about how we’ve all been screwed over by the weight loss industry and how diets and dieting have destroyed our biology.  As I mentioned in a previous episode, diets follow a common set of guidelines, whether it’s low-fat, high carb, counting calories, etc.  Diets usually start with a particular food group that is touted to be the best food group, an arbitrary set of rules are applied which is usually some sort of restriction of other food groups, and by following steps one and two you’ll lose weight.  If you think about all the familiar diets out there, they all follow this routine.

The intuitive eating philosophy goes against the grain of popular diet rhetoric.  The authors suggest that diets cause more harm than good because while you may lose weight, what you’re really doing is paving the way for a nice little eating disorder.  I don’t know about you but I’m so sick of all the conflicting information that is presented to us day in and day out about how we are supposed to take care of our bodies.  This is why the principles of intuitive eating ring so true for me, they are all about YOU and what YOUR body needs.  Let me tell you about the principles outlined in the book.

Principle 1 is to reject the diet mentality – which we’ve already basically discussed.  The authors tell you to get angry at all the lies you’ve been told that have led you to feel like a failure when diets either don’t work or stop working.  This is a lot easier said than done because for those of us who’ve been dieting most of our lives, even when you go off a diet, the thoughts are still there and it’s hard to shake them off.  We’ve given too much power to food.  Food should be looked at like money; it’s amoral, meaning it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.  You have to stop labeling foods as safe or worse, bad.  Yes, there are such things as frankenfoods that no human should eat, but that comes in a later principle.  And you MUST stop comparing yourself to others.  Only you know your journey, so stop worrying about what others are going to think about you.

Principle 2 is to honor your hunger.  Our bodies need energy to function and energy comes from all the macros – carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  When you live in a constant state of restriction, your body doesn’t know you have all sorts of access to food.  What is does know is that it’s in a famine state and this excessive hunger is what can cause you to overeat.  If you or someone you know grew up with limited access to food, such as an orphan from an impoverished country, you know that they often can’t control their compulsion to smuggle or hide food even after their food needs have been met once they’ve been adopted.  This stems from a psychological terror of hunger.  And while dieting is probably not as traumatic as this example, it leaves its mark.  The first step to recovering from restriction or starvation is to honor your biological hunger meaning that your body has to trust that you are going to feed it.  So how do we honor our hunger?  By simply feeding it when it’s hungry.  I know, that sounds a little too simple.  But it’s not as easy as you think.  Over time, we’ve desensitized our hunger cues and now you have to reprogram your brain – which you know you can do based on last week’s episode on habits and how they work.

As I mentioned, my struggle with eating usually stems from boredom, but it can be much more emotional than that.  For me, it’s easier for me to recognize when I’m hungry than when I’m starting to get full.  The important piece of this is to know that your hunger may not match others and that’s ok.  When we’re babies, we wanted to eat when we were hungry and then as we grew, the clock is what dictated when to eat.  This kind of programming is hard to break away from.  Even now as I’m writing this post the clock says 12:00, meaning lunchtime, but I have to push pause and ask myself if I’m actually hungry or if I’m letting the clock control me.  And, I’ve had to have many conversations with my husband about not eating at the same time as him.  This is also extremely hard because we like sharing meals together, but at the beginning of the intuitive eating transition, I know that I have to listen to my body, and like I said earlier, my body is not his body and everyone has to be ok with that.

Principle 3 is all about making peace with food.  Stop being the control freak you are and give yourself unconditional permission to eat.  Remember how I mentioned that you have to stop labeling foods as good or bad?  The reason for this is if you restrict yourself in this way, it can lead to hardcore cravings and potential binge eating.  We always want what we can’t have and the same is true with food.  I mentioned in an earlier episode about Last Supper eating.  I know this conjures up the image of the DaVinci painting of Jesus with his disciples, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.  What I mean by last supper eating is what happens on the Sunday before the diet starts on Monday.  Or, what takes place on so-called cheat days.  Because our new diet isn’t going to let us have all the foods we love, we cram everything we can into our bodies before the new diet starts.  Let me tell you why this is a terrible thing to do to yourself.  First of all, we’ve already talked about what restricting yourself does to your psyche.  Worse than that, you’re probably going to consume upwards of 8-10,000 calories in a weekend which is WAY worse than to just eat the foods you love when you want.  At this point I do want to point out a caveat about intuitive eating – you can eat whatever you want, you just have to make sure you’re actually hungry first.  Part of the peacemaking process includes a little positive self-talk.  Your food choices do not reflect your character or morality.  Remember, food is supposed to be amoral.

Principle 4 is to challenge the food police.  The food police monitors the unreasonable rules that dieting has created and you have to scream a loud “NOT TODAY FOOD POLICE!”  There is a reason why advertising agencies make a crap ton of money – they are the masters at selling us on what we do and don’t need.  In the food game, they use words like guilt-free or no guilt when labeling foods.  And what do dieters feel when they eat the “wrong” foods?  Freaking guilt!  And it’s not just our inner voices or ad campaigns feeding us this crap.  It also comes from our friends, family, or even strangers and typically sounds something like this, “are you sure you want to buy that full-fat sour cream for taco night?”  Or how about that one co-worker who is always dieting and makes comments like, “no cake for me, I’ll just sit here and enjoy my celery stick and a sip of water.”  While that’s more of a commentary on their choices, we still feel guilty if we’re the one eating the cake.  The book describes five food voices:  there’s the food police, which we’ve already talked about and it’s full of judgment, there’s the nutrition informant which tries to keep you dieting, the diet rebel that typically results in self-sabotage, the food anthropologist which is the neutral, nonjudgemental observer, and finally the nurturer which helps you disarm assaults you get from the food police.

Principle 5 is about feeling your fullness.  This one is particularly tough for me.  It’s pretty easy to recognize when I’m hungry knowing when I’m full, however, is a different story.  The way it works is like this, you observe the signals that let you know when you’re comfortably full.  This requires pushing the pause button in the middle of eating and asking yourself if you like how the food tastes and what your current hunger level is.  The reason this is so hard for me is that I grew up in a household where my dad required me to clean my plate if I wanted dessert.  To this day I still feel guilty if I leave food on my plate.  The key here is to remind yourself that you have unconditional permission to eat – permission to eat now because you’re hungry and later because you’ll be hungry again.  When you finally figure out how to win this battle, it’s much easier to stop eating and leave food behind instead of filling yourself up until you want to burst.  To break this habit you can try a couple of different techniques.  If you struggle with cleaning your plate as I do, one way you can help yourself is by eating off a smaller plate.  At my house, the dinner plates we have could hold enough food to feed a small family so oftentimes, I use the smaller salad plate when I’m fixing my meals.  But also, don’t feel like you have to leave food on your plate – once you get good at knowing what your body wants and needs, the easier it will be to judge the portions you put on it.  Another technique is to only eat half the food on your plate, wait 15 minutes, and then ask yourself if you’re still hungry.  If so, continue eating, if not you’re done.  If leaving food on your plate brings up guilt about being wasteful, you can always wrap the plate up and stick in the fridge for later.  Lastly, be present at mealtimes.  Being present means putting down your phone, turning off the TV, and paying close attention to your eating experience.  Does this bite taste as good as the last?  What’s your fullness level?  Are you about to pop the button on your jeans or do you still feel hungry?  A good way to turn eating into an experience is to eat at the table on actual plates rather than over the sink.  Maybe for dinner you light some candles, play your favorite music, and actually set the table with placemats and cloth napkins.  Try to not eat in front of the television because more often than not you’re going to focus on it and zone out on your food.  When you eat without distraction it will be much easier for you to recognize when you are full.

Principle 6 is discover the satisfaction factor.  In our haste to look like our favorite Insta celebs, we often forget about the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in eating experiences.  If you don’t believe this is a thing, watch Julie and Julia or any episode of The French Chef with Julia Child.  At the end of almost every episode, she takes the food she’s cooked to a set table and will typically talk to you about wine pairings.  Julia was a woman who knew how to eat.  She understood the pleasure that comes from eating good food properly prepared.  To be satisfying, your meals should include foods that you actually enjoy.  Eating fruit when you want cake will not lead to satisfaction and can lead to overeating because until you get the thing you want, you’ll just keep filling yourself up on foods you think you should be eating.  Ask yourself what you really want to eat, try new foods, taste your food instead of shoveling it in, give your weekly menu some variety, and don’t settle!

Principle 7 deals with how to cope with your emotions without using food.  We can’t just stop our feelings and when we feel anxious, lonely, bored, angry, etc. we have to realize that food is not going to fix any of these feelings or solve the problem.  I know there’s a reason certain foods are known as comfort foods, and while eating for comfort may make you feel better in the short term, in the long term it can be detrimental because when the food is gone, your feelings or problems are still there.  When you feel like you’re about to eat your emotions, first ask yourself if you’re biologically hungry.  If the answer is yes, then you should honor your hunger.  If not, then put yourself in a timeout.  Pull out that journal and write your feelings down, call your mom or a friend and talk about your feelings, or maybe it’s time to hire a therapist.  Regardless, this is how you begin to break the routine in the habit loop; you first recognize the trigger and then you take a different action.

Next up is Principle 8, respect your body.  I feel like I could do an entire post on this idea and maybe I will in the future…  Accept your DNA.  You are the only you unless you’re an identical twin, and then technically there’s two of you, but for most of us, that’s not the case.  Stop torturing your body. It’s very hard to reject the diet mentality if you have unrealistic expectations and are overly critical about your body shape.  Don’t make it complicated, respect your body by making it comfortable and meeting its needs.  This is straight from the book, here are the basic premises of body respect:

  • My body deserves to be fed.
  • My body deserves to be treated with dignity.
  • My body deserves to be dressed comfortably and in the manner to which I am accustomed.
  • My body deserves to be touched affectionately and with respect.
  • My body deserves to move comfortably.

Write these on a sticky and put it on your bathroom mirror.  Stop bashing your body.  And if you’re one of those girls, and you know who you are, stop bashing other women’s bodies.  What they do is none of your business.  Fat shaming has gotten too far out of control.  There are little second grade girls who are worried about being fat rather than just being little girls.  And for heaven’s sake, say good-bye to the fantasy.  Refuse to participate in unobtainable goals.  And if your partner is the one with the fantasy, it’s time to show them the door.  The point is, respecting your body starts with that voice inside your head.  If that voice talks to you in a way you’d never talk to your best friend, then it’s time to tell it to quiet down.

Principle 9 is exercise – feel the difference.  Don’t try to kill yourself at the gym, just get active.  Find something you enjoy.  If the thought of lifting a barbell or running five miles makes you want to hurl, then don’t do it.  Rather, find something that makes you feel excited.  Maybe for you, that’s yoga, or walking in your neighborhood, or dancing around the house in your underwear.  Maybe you do love running so go run.  Whatever you do, make sure you aren’t crash exercising – it’s no fun and you’ll just burn out.  Or worse, injure yourself.  If you don’t know where to start, focus on increasing bone strength because this will help you stave off osteoporosis later down the road, increasing heart and lung strength, and improving your mood.  And don’t fall into the “I don’t have time” trap.  Get up once an hour and have a quick dance session or go for a 5 minutes walk around the block.  Don’t feel like you have to block out huge chunks of time because any body movement is better than no movement at all.  Just remember, don’t abuse exercise and get rest.  Listen to your body, it will tell you when it hurts.

And finally, principle 10 is to honor your health with gentle nutrition.  You don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy.  As a chronic dieter your main worry is food and what to eat or not to eat cause undue stress and anxiety.  The book describes healthy eating as having a healthy balance of foods and having a healthy relationship with food.  Just make sure you’re throwing in some fruits and vegetables – and don’t eat the ones you hate, drink plenty of water, eat quality fats like olive oil, avocados, fish, etc. and try not to live on frankenfoods alone.  Yes, the occasional pizza roll isn’t going to kill you, but have you ever looked at the ingredient list?  They aren’t even made with real cheese, they are made with a skim-mozzarella like substance.

The key takeaway here is to remember that intuitive eating is not a diet and it’s not about losing weight.  It’s about listening to your body and giving it what it needs.  And it’s about quieting down the peanut gallery and reprogramming your inner voice.

Now, go get a copy of Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works for yourself and get to work!

In the meantime, let me know how you’re doing.

Episode 13: Cabin Fever, Lack of Focus, and Morning Routines

Today we’re taking a look at how I’ve dealt with cabin fever and lack of focus, as well as my new morning and sleep routines.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How to calm the squirrels in your brain
  • Establishing a morning routine
  • My personal visualization technique

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Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

 

Can You Really Change Old Habits?

Can You Really Change Old Habits?

Have you ever gotten into a rental car that is a different make and model from your daily driver and your hand is poised to turn the key in the ignition but there’s no key?  And you’re looking at your hand like, ‘hey, how’d you get here?’  Or the opposite happens where your daily driver is a push-button start and you get into a car that requires a key – what happens?  Like an idiot, you press a button-less dashboard and wonder why the car won’t start. Here’s another one.  A friend of mine told me that every day when she gets home from work the first thing she does is go to the bathroom.  One day, on a non-workday, she’d gone to the grocery store and when she got home, she headed straight for the bathroom but realized she had no idea why.

These are all examples of habits.  We like to think that our days are filled with well-considered choices, but they’re not, they are filled with habits.  I’ve been reading the book, The Power of Habit, and in it, the author defines habit as ‘the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day.  Take wearing your seat belt as an example.  When you first started driving, your parents and teachers probably harped on you to wear your seatbelt even if you aren’t the one driving.  That first time you got behind the wheel of the car to drive yourself somewhere, you likely made a conscious decision to buckle your seatbelt and then the next several times you got into the car you continued making that choice.  After a while, it became a habit that you didn’t even have to think about.  Side note, if you don’t wear your seatbelt every time you get into the car, stop being an idiot and start wearing it.

Our brains are incredibly powerful and are always looking for ways to become more efficient.  This is why scientists believe habits develop – when the brain creates habits out of everyday routines, it doesn’t have to work as hard.  And friends, habits are powerful!  Let me share an example with you.  In the book, On Combat, there is an entire chapter about muscle memory aka habits.  Two men who are in the police academy buddy up to practice disarming one another.  The first guy would take away the gun of the second guy, hand the gun back to him, and the second guy would then take his turn.  They would do this over and over until it became second nature.  Any guesses what happened next?  When the first guy got out into the field, he was called to a convenience store that was being robbed.  After all his practice, he successfully disarmed the robber.  And then he handed the guy’s gun right back to him.  This clearly shows just how powerful habits can be – obviously, the police officer didn’t mean to give the robber his gun back, but because that’s how he practiced disarming someone, his auto-response took over.  Insane, right?  Let’s look at a less lethal example.

Think about getting dressed in the morning.  When you put on a pair of pants, do you think about which leg goes in first?  Or shoes and socks.  Do you look at your feet and decide the left one looks especially pretty today so it gets the sock first?  If you do, there’s probably a group for you.  For most everyone else, these are automatic routines that we don’t even have to think about.  Or brushing your teeth.  Do you put the toothbrush into your mouth before you apply the toothpaste?  Guessing no.  If you had to think about these choices every day all day, you’d never get anything else done.  So, let’s break it down.

Think of habits as a loop.  First, there’s a cue.  This is a trigger that puts your brain on autopilot and decides which habit to use.  Next comes an action or routine, which can be physical or emotional.  Finally, the reward closes the loop, which helps your brain determine if this particular loop is worth remembering for next time.  Let’s go back to the example of brushing your teeth.  Before heading to bed, you know you need to brush – going to bed is the trigger.  Then you brush your teeth – this is the routine.  When you’re done your mouth feels clean and your breath fresh – this is the reward.  This loop that helps us create good habits is also the one that helps us create bad habits like smoking cigarettes or overeating.  For me, my eating trigger tends to be boredom.  I get bored, I wander to the kitchen, the next thing I know I’m eating.  Emotions can also trigger this loop for me.  As time goes by, the reward turns into a craving.  This is what makes cues and rewards work.

The good news is that habits aren’t set in stone.  As it turns out, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Thousands of studies have been done on habits and how they work, which is why we now know about the cue, routine, reward loop.  The key to changing a habit is not changing the cue or reward, but the routine.  I’m always going to get bored, but by recognizing the cue, I can change the routine of going into the kitchen with something else entirely like stretching, or grabbing a book, or going for a walk.  And the reward is still the same – as far as my brain knows.  However, simply changing the routine isn’t going to solve the problem.  There is another component you have to commit to in order to make a habit change, and that is belief.

In The Power of Habit book, there’s a section that talks about Alcoholics Anonymous.  AA has been around for decades and has helped millions of people get sober.  It does this by replacing old habits with new ones; by identifying cues and choosing new routines.  However, if you look at the 12 steps, there is an element of belief; belief in a higher power.  For some, that higher power is God.  Research has shown that people can get sober by replacing routines, but that only takes a person so far because once something traumatic or catastrophic happens – many alcoholics start drinking again no matter how many new routines they’ve practiced.  However, those who believe in a higher power are much more likely to make it through stressful situations and stay sober.  Along with this belief also comes a sense of community.  This is why AA meetings have such value – there is value in community.  When a person walks into an AA meeting and hears the story of someone who is clean and sober, they think, “look at that girl, she’s gotten clean, guess I could do it too.”  This is why I decided to hire a therapist – a community doesn’t have to be tons of people, it just has to be more than one person.

What habits are you looking to change?  Maybe you want to quit smoking.  Or, maybe you want to train for a marathon.  Or maybe you’re like me and you want to get a handle on your eating habits.  The first step is recognizing the cues and rewards and then changing the routine.  You must also believe you can do it – believe in yourself, believe in a higher power, and find a group of people to help hold you accountable.  As always, I’m here for you.  I’ll be your community if you need it.

Episode 12: The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

Today I’m taking a deeper look at the intuitive eating process as published by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in their book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
  • How intuitive eating is not about dieting or losing weight
  • My walk with the intuitive eating process

Resources:

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.