Understanding the Nature of Habit in Recovery

“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by anyone, but coaxed downstairs one step at a time.”
– Mark Twain (1835-1910)

The nature of habit is insidious and sticky. And although some habits adhere with unerring and unfortunate ease, we’re left with the same dilemma no matter the habit: how to get undogged.

Having recovered from chronic alcoholism (weekend binge-drinking) and cigarette smoking, and having dealt with numerous other recoveries, overeating one of them, I can speak in a way with which you will probably concur.

I tried numerous times to fling habits out the window. That is to overcome them, cold turkey, without a strategy, or with a strategy that was ill-fated. Almost every time I failed. Because I didn’t establish a solitary habit in countering a moment that always comes.

Something AA taught me was the importance of honesty. It’s on the turning away that we’re done in when on our attempt to recover. And there are moments when we’re tempted, where the decision to lapse comes through turning away.

We dissociate from ourselves in these moments, through a little lie believed, a pivotal denial, a dangerous compromise. Such a turning away renders the days, weeks, months, sometimes years, of hard work, vain.

The way recovery works is focus one day at a time, as Twain suggests, one step at a time. It’s not rocket science. But it is a commitment to not turning away, which is to stay truthful with ourselves, faithful to our cause.

Being honest, one day at a time, consistently and faithfully ever after, is the way to recover from every nasty habit.

The imperative, then, is to stay honest. Be honest each step of the way and we can achieve anything that is possible for us to achieve.

The Right Fitness Center – What to Consider

This is a facility that offers its clients a place that has exercise equipment for the purpose of getting physically fit The memberships of these fitness centers can be as inexpensive as $10 a month or as much as $700 a year. It depends on the location of the center and the amenities and equipment offered. When you are choosing a fitness center there are many things that you should consider before making your final decision.

One of the main things that you should consider is your level of comfort. The reasons this is important is that if you are self conscious or uncomfortable about working out then you are most likely not going to stay motivated to go on a regular basis. When it comes to your level of comfortableness with the fitness center, there are also other issues to think about. You should make sure that the center is well lit and clean, that it has the state of the art equipment and is it in good repair. Is there an instructor to show you in how to use the different pieces of equipment properly? You are going to a fitness center to get fit and healthy so it is important that you know how to maximize the benefits from the different pieces of equipment. You also need to make sure that there are private, clean showers and restrooms.

Another important consideration is the location. You want to make sure that it is conveniently located near your home because no one wants to drive twenty miles or so to a fitness center. You want to be sure that it is located in an area that is safe and well lit, especially if they offer early morning or late night hours. Check to see if they have a decent size parking lot and that it is also well lit.

Another key factor is the availability or the hours that the center is open. No one works the same hours nor has the same hours that can go to the fitness center so the hours open need to fit your schedule. Some fitness centers today are open twenty-four hours a day seven days a week but still have certain hours that they will be open and have instructors in the center. To utilize the center after those hours you will to have a pass card, like a hotel uses, in order to get into the fitness center. For these types of centers, it is very important that the parking is close to the building and the parking lot is very well lit. The last two factors is the cost per month or year and if the center offers any fitness classes.

How to Control Stress Eating

The last few years were stressful ones for me. As a result, for the first time in my life, I got into the habit of stress eating.

I’m referring to the routine of emotional, mindless eating and snacking. Stuffing myself with junk food, not to fill my stomach, but because I’m bored, stressed from everyday life, overwhelmed, or exhausted.

To make matters worse, sometimes I’m eating without paying attention to the food or really enjoying it. Suddenly, I crave chocolate or chips or pizza and nothing else sounds good. So, I woof it down while watching TV, reading a book, or playing on my iPad. The need to eat isn’t coming from my stomach but from inside my head. I don’t eat until I’m full but until I’m uncomfortable.

Sometimes I start off with good intentions and eat something healthy like veggies but I still can’t get those darn chips off my brain. Not satisfied, I eat a huge bowl of popcorn thinking that will do the trick. I’m full, but I can’t quit thinking about those nachos I wanted in the first place. So I end up eating the veggies, popcorn, AND the nachos. My stomach is so full and bloated, I end up feeling downright miserable. In my twisted mind, I convince myself I should just go for the nachos next time instead of all those extra calories I ate before eating what I really craved. So that’s what I do.

Briefly, I feel better, but then I feel disgusted with myself.

Sound familiar?

So what can we all do to stop stress eating and avoid the dreaded unwanted weight gain that usually results? Here are some simple tips I plan on using:

Identify Emotions and Triggers

Take comfort, stress eating isn’t all your fault and actually has a logical reason behind it.

When you feel stressed out, your body produces high levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol increases your appetite and triggers cravings for salty, high-carb, sweet, and high-fat foods. These foods give you a burst of energy and pleasure by increasing the brain’s feel-good dopamine response. Over time, your brain may start to depend on these comfort foods to calm down and feel better.

In addition, if you’re not sleeping at night because you’re anxious, that only makes the problem worse. And if your life feels unfulfilled and empty, food may fill a void.

So, the first step is to figure out what is making you reach for that bag of chips. Does your life feel out of control? Are you frustrated? Overwhelmed? Mad? Anxious?

Focus on the real issues at hand and you’ll be ready for the next step.

Learn to Accept Your Feelings

Often, we eat to avoid feelings that make us uncomfortable. Food is a nice distraction sometimes.

If you’re stressed out about your job or financial pressures, worried about an upcoming event, or stewing over an argument you had with a loved one, it’s usually easier to focus on eating comfort foods instead of dealing with the painful situation.

The emotions won’t go away, however. If you stress eat, you’ll also add the burden of guilt for sabotaging your weight loss goals. This starts a whole cycle – and not a good one. Your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for ruining your diet, you gain weight, feel even more guilty, and then overeat again to try and make yourself feel better.

So, give yourself permission to feel angry, fearful, anxious, guilty, or exhausted. Invite those negative feelings in to visit and accept them with kindness. Eventually, your body and mind will come to understand that these feelings are okay. That you don’t need to comfort yourself with food to protect you from your own emotions.

The truth is when you don’t try and suppress negative feelings – even if they are painful – it will help you quit obsessing over your emotions. Your feelings will lose their power over you. You’ll learn to control your anxiety and deal with negative feelings in more constructive ways.

As a bonus, when you listen to and accept your feelings, you’ll discover what it is you truly need and then make necessary changes in your life.

Pause for a Moment

Take a moment to stop and reflect on why you want to eat. Tell yourself that you’ll put off eating for just five minutes. During that time, you’ll give yourself the chance to make a different choice than reaching for that bag of chips.

Ask yourself how you’re feeling. Understand what is motivating your need to eat and think of a better way to address those feelings. (See the section below for some ideas on positive ways to deal with negative emotions.)

However, if you still really, really want a bowl of ice cream, it may be better to indulge in moderation. As I learned from my experience as related in the beginning of this article, eating a bunch of veggies and rice cakes when you really want some chips or chocolate won’t work in the long run.

“Reach for something you don’t really want, and you’re likely to eat more of it because it isn’t satisfying,” explains Michelle May, MD, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. So, go ahead and indulge, but step away from that laptop, TV, or iPad, so you can focus fully on the treat you want to eat. Why? If you don’t take a moment to enjoy everything about it, “then the real reason you’re eating it won’t be served,” she says, and you’ll be more likely to give in to other high-calorie foods-not to mention more of them.

Even if you give into temptation and eat something you shouldn’t, you’ll better understand why you’re turning to food for comfort. Maybe you can react differently the next time cravings hit.

Find Alternatives

Once you understand the cycle of stress eating and some of your triggers, find other constructive ways to deal with your emotions.

If you’re stressed out, turn on some favorite music and dance around the house. Take a brisk walk. Write in a journal. Do something creative like painting or scrapbooking. Practice deep breathing until you feel calm. Get outside and enjoy nature.

If you’re feeling depressed or lonely, call a good friend or family member, pet your dog or cat, or look through an old photo album. If you’re angry, practice the healing art of forgiveness. If you’re bored, plan your next trip or start filling your calendar with exciting events. If you’re exhausted, treat yourself to a soothing cup of tea or a long bath with scented candles.

It also helps to take positive steps to tackle issues that may be bothering you. For example, if financial problems are weighing you down, start implementing constructive strategies toward paying down debt or saving for retirement.

Keep in mind, negative emotions don’t typically last forever. Just because you’re miserable today doesn’t mean you’ll be unhappy tomorrow. But in the meantime, find alternative healthy and positive ways to deal with your emotions.

Pay Attention to What You Eat

Stay away from mindless eating and really appreciate your food.

When shopping, think about the nutritional value of the food you’re buying and how it will make your body stronger. Try out some new healthy recipes. When you’re cooking, use all your senses to appreciate the aroma, texture, color, and even the sounds of the food as you cook them.

And when it’s time to eat, take time to enjoy your food fully. Take small bites, chew slowly, and appreciate all the ingredients, tastes, and seasonings. You’ll be surprised at all the flavors packed into one bite when you do so.

Start Each Day Anew

Finally, be kind to yourself. If you have a setback and indulge in stress eating, start over the next day. Learn from your experience and plan on how you can prevent it from happening again. Focus on the constructive changes you’re making in your eating habits that will improve your health.

And go ahead and indulge every once in a while. Just take the time to truly savor it.

So, there you go. Next time, I get the urge to stress eat, I’m following the steps I’ve outlined above. How about you? Join me and we can combat stress eating together!

Learning A Few Healthy Eating Tips For Kids From Health Experts

It can be really hard for some parents to get their kids to eat healthy. It is one big challenge, especially when the kids start going to school and they see the variety of tasty junk foods that their classmates consume. But with careful planning and creativity, you can effectively maintain your child’s good diet even if there are all sorts of temptations around them. You just have to be very resourceful and learn from health experts about a few healthy eating tips for kids.

First, add more nutritious ingredients to their favorite recipes. Identify the different ingredients your little ones should be consuming regularly to support their development and see how you can obviously or discreetly incorporate them into their favorite dishes. Serve everything in portions. This will prevent overeating. This will also serve as their measurement.

Additionally, create a healthy snack station in your fridge and pantry, especially if your kids already know how to rummage through the fridge and pantry for food. Get rid of anything that you don’t want your kids to consume. Leaving them only with healthy options will prevent them from straying from the good path. Get creative with food presentation. Young people can easily get bored if they’re served the same selection frequently, but if you make their meals and snacks interesting in appearance, they’re not likely to complain that their options are often limited.

Always check food blogs for kids. Don’t tire in looking for new healthy recipes to try for your children. Make the Internet your food preparation go-to; it is abundant with recipes intended to promote healthy eating for young eaters. Don’t ever use junk food as reward, treat or bribe. Avoid making that association to maintain your children’s positive mindset about good and healthy food. Don’t force your kids to clean their plate, because at times, doing this can override their physical intuitions and may lead to the unhealthy habit of overeating. Also, this can make meal times less pleasant for the little ones which will make them even more reluctant to eat the next time.

Lastly, ask your kids about their favorite meal. Involve them in food selection and even food preparation. Giving them some power over what they eat can actually encourage them to uphold healthy eating. In addition to that, children are naturally curious, so if you include them in these processes, and have them taste and smell ingredients, you can feed their curiosity.