Q&A: emotional eating, motivation, creative cooking, belly fat, & more

Today I’m answering some questions people posted on my Facebook page.  We’ve got everything here from emotional eating to melting belly fat to getting creative in the kitchen.

“How do you get past emotional eating? I’m not talking about a one day binge.. I mean like eating bad foods constantly for over a week, because it’s basically the only thing comforting you through your hard times….” -Sakenah

Knowing is half the battle.  I found other better ways to deal with stress.  First, I observed what triggered me to feel that way and then I came up with alternative plans.  Exercise and writing have been two big ones for me.  Over-eating doesn’t really comfort you.  Taking care of yourself will comfort you.  Or best of all, talking about how you feel with somebody who understands, even if that’s someone online.  I found a lot of support by participating in online weight loss forums because you’ll find out you aren’t alone- lots of people have very similar issues.

“Is coconut oil good or bad?” -ChefTraclyn

Good.  Delicious and healthy.

“What is your stand on water…I know you drink it because you’ve said you do in passing on other posts. However, you also don’t make a huge deal about it like a lot of people do. Would you say that you advocate drinking to keep healthy hydration rather than drinking just to fill in a carved in stone number of ounces/gallons per day?” – Lisa

I drink a lot of water.  I don’t have a specific goal, but I’m always drinking water at my desk, at the gym, at home.  I don’t drink anything else except a morning cup of coffee and an occasional unsweetened iced tea, or even more occasional glass of wine.  I think it’s really important to keep yourself hydrated and that water flushes your system.  It’s not a magic weight loss solution though.  I think the best way of judging if you’re drinking the right amount of water is your urine.  If it’s dark, you aren’t drinking enough.  If it’s light, you’re drinking the right amount.  If it’s colorless, you’re drinking too much.  The majority of liquids consumed should be plain water, in my opinion.

“Where and how did you get so creative in your cooking? Did you start by using any cookbook or recipe websites? Everything you make looks so good, but I wouldn’t know how to make anything without a recipe.” -Healthy, Organic & Cheap

I always liked cooking, but I used to cook much calorie-denser foods.  I’ve cooked a lot of recipes, and I am always googling things like “how long to cook cous cous” or “how to bake turnips”.  But then I find I can take it from there.  I know what I like and I just put the things I know taste good together, together.  I let the ingredients dictate what I cook.  I don’t shop with a list, I buy whatever produce looks the freshest and/or is on sale.  There’s a great book you might enjoy that’s quite descriptive to the way of cooking I follow.  It’s called An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler.  I think of cooking as more art than science.  Some basic techniques and it’s hard to go wrong.

“What melts away belly fat?” -Jessica

Nothing.  There is no way to spot reduce fat.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose where the fat comes off our bodies.  We simply have to lose body fat overall and eventually it will come off.  Many people lose last in their bellies.  Some of us (like me) lose last in our hips and thighs.  It’s genetic and there’s nothing you can do about it.  You can strength train, and I think it’s a great idea to do that, but it won’t make you smaller.  The way to lose body fat is to eat less than you burn but not too much less because you don’t want to starve yourself.

“You’ve said it took you 2 years to lose the weight (I think?), and that you were committed to stick with it as long as it took. What tips do you have to keep your motivation and focus when you don’t see significant changes in the mirror. I’ve doen great – have lost about 25 pounds since January. Need to lose 75 more. I wish I could see the differences more easily. My co-workers and family tell me the changes are evident to them, but I can’t see them. I saw a picture of myself a few days ago and it caused me significant pause as it seems like I still look the same.” -Lynne

I think when I started I was just in the right frame of mind.  I had no idea how long it would take but it seemed like an insurmountable goal.  Losing 100+ lb- I knew it was going to take a long time.  I decided I would lose weight no matter how long it took.  It takes awhile for our brains to catch up to the new us.  I’m going to write more about this a few questions down.

“What do you do to combat food cravings, especially during TTOM? I have a hard time just eating one cookie etc. How to you keep up with exercising when you are exhausted from grueling days at work? (I work in a Burn ICU as a RN, 12 hr shifts)” -Jessica

I don’t keep foods in the house that I feel I can’t eat in moderation.  I pretty much never have cookies and I rarely have anything like chips or crackers.  I think, if you buy it, you are going to eat it.  So I just don’t buy it.  When I want a treat once in awhile, like a cookie, I go get a really awesome amazing one somewhere, maybe at a local bakery.  At home, I use very small bowls to portion out snack items that I do eat like almonds or peanuts.  If I eat it, I record it in my calorie counting app.  That keeps me accountable for what I eat.  I eat a little more when I am super-ravenous right before my period.  I think it’s my body telling me something.  I don’t go crazy, but I relax a little bit and have a bit more food.

My job is really sedentary.  I sit at a desk all day.  If you’re really active at work, maybe you don’t need to work out as much as I do.  It might be better to plan some extra activity on your days off rather than exhaust yourself- sleep is really important too.

“What was the trigger that caused the fire under your butt to change? How did you stay motivated during the tough times? What are your top plateau tips? How do you overcome years of talking to yourself one way and change it to “I can do this”? What advice would you go back and give yourself? Do you ever feel pretty/good enough?” -Kristina

Lots of questions :)  Moving cross country was the trigger that caused me to change.  I stayed motivated because I really wanted to do this and I was committed to it.  If you’re in a plateau, change it up- diet, exercise, or both.  It’s a long process to change how you talk to yourself, but just practice a little every day and eventually you can change.  Once I lost 60 lb, I felt sure “I got this” and it got much easier.  If I could go back, I’d try to convince myself to do this sooner- but I probably would have failed because I wasn’t ready before now.  I feel like I am good enough and I feel attractive, I like the way I look in the mirror.  I know I am not perfect, but I don’t think I have to be.  I am so much more than my appearance.

“How did you get through your plateaus? Did you make any changes or keep on doing what you’re doing and have faith that you’ll eventually bust through it? How do you stay motivated at the times when you’re not seeing the forward progress you want?” -Natalie

Make changes!  You are making progress, even if you the scale isn’t moving.  If you’re learning how to eat a healthy diet in the right portions and you are exercising or moving your body- you are making progress.  The scale will catch up eventually.

“Do you still see the old you in your head? That’s my sticking point. After losing and maintaiing a 90 lb weight loss, I still see the old me in my head. It’s been several years, but the me in my head is still taking time to catch up. Other people see the current me, and when I am walking by a window or something, I’ll think “who is that” but it’s me. When does the me in my head catch up with the real me? And did that make sense?” -Nancy

I do see the new me.  I look very very different.  I see pictures of how I used to look when I was heavy and I can’t believe I was ever that heavy.  I don’t think I ever really saw myself then.  Like, I got dressed and looked in the mirror, but I didn’t really “SEE” myself.  Then I would see a photo of me and think “who is that?” like you said.  I didn’t feel like I was that big.  Funny how we can be so able to not see what’s right in front of us isn’t it?  I feel like now I look like what I always felt like I did.  The outside picture matches the inside picture.
Also, try on a lot of clothes, take a lot of pictures, and maybe do some side by side comparisons to see how far you’ve really come.

 

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