Letting Go

“For it is in giving that we receive.”  St. Francis of Assisi

Author Tres Hatch,  Steamed Almond Milk (recipe from Daily Fuel~coming 2016)

Author Tres Hatch,
Steamed Almond Milk (recipe from Daily Fuel~coming 2016)

Because yoga can reveal uncomfortable truths, this happened:

Twice a week I go to gentle yoga.  The class is made up almost entirely of beautiful men and women of a certain retired age.  And me.  Although it is terribly unenlightened to compare my  practice to theirs I must share some striking differences.  Their movements are fluid and sure.  They have immense focus, wisdom, and grace.  By the end of class they float out of the studio carrying their mat without looking rumpled.  Meanwhile, I feel like I just went 8 seconds on a bull named Tatonka.  While they use blocks, bolsters, bands, and modifications to fully benefit from the poses, I …still foolishly think intensity is better and go for the burn (insert head shake here).

But here is the promised reveal:  In one of these recent “bull-riding sessions” I learned the concept of balance in a wholly new way.  Kathleen Olsen was our gifted teacher.  She explained we cannot receive a full breath of air if we don’t completely release the existing air.  In other words, let it all out in order to take fullness in.  Yin and yang dictates there must be a balance between giving and receiving.  For example, if we only give without ever receiving we get burned out.  If we only receive we become self-absorbed and our world becomes myopic.  During naptime (the end of yoga when we lay still with our eyes closed and think about nothing) she shared this quote by Elizabeth Bibesco:

“Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.”

Do those words remind you to embrace gratitude?  For our bodies to talk we need to remember in gratitude the gift of our bodies, and… here’s the hard part: let go in order for our design to function properly.   It is a bullish misplaced notion in society that we must tune out our needs and overpower them with sheer will in order to control our calorie or carbohydrate intake—which is the opposite of letting go.  To clearly hear the prompts from our bodies we must let go, trust, and listen.  Letting go extends into all aspect of ideal weight.  We let go of the idea that certain foods are allowed and others are not (gluten, sugar, meat, dairy, fat, salt, or other trending prohibitions).  We let go of the fallacy that a temporary behavior (diet or program) will have a permanent result.  We let go of the lie that if one French fry is good, five hundred must be even better.  And most importantly, we let go of the coping mechanisms that we have relied on to feel a false sense of control.

Ironically, the scariest thing in the world is getting exactly what we want.  Really, it is.  Getting what we want is scary because in order to have ideal weight (without playing weight-maintenance games) we must let go of those fiercely protected coping mechanisms and habits we have relied on in the past.  Our coping mechanisms are accompanied by a sense of life or death.  If we don’t employ them we feel panic and terrible anxiety.  So, letting go of them takes a lot of courage—but it can be done if we let go.

What kinds of things would you need to let go of in order to have your body “tell” you the ideal portion size today?

  • The lie that eating more than you need feels good?
  • Fear of claiming your real preferences (such as: your preference for the right food, in the amount that makes you feel energized, balanced, and well)?
  • False conversations about how you “deserve” a binge?
  • Frustration over things you cannot control such as: medications, injury, illness, grief, age, and trauma?
  • Some ugly self-hate so you can hear the body talk?
  • Your cycle of emotion and despair that ultimately leads to a binge or imbalance?
  • Can you forgive yourself for creating a very effective and innovative coping mechanism that does not harm anyone else?
  • Can you trust your body is designed with the exquisite ability to know what you need?

Please continue making your own laundry list of things you want to let go.  The following quote finished out my yoga class and reminded me of my endless blessings:

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

May you be rich.  May you have peace and balance.  I love your goodness and light.  Be well my friend.

Name in script font 36 point

The BIG Lie: more is better

Vietnamese Beef & Pineapple Salad~  from Daily Fuel, by Tres Prier Hatch (coming 2016) SEE RECIPE BELOW
Photo Credit: Shaleen Ford
Vietnamese Beef & Pineapple Salad~
from Daily Fuel, by Tres Prier Hatch (coming 2016)
(SEE RECIPE BELOW)

Thank you to all who reached out in kindness after the recent passing of my father.  Your compassion lifted my heart out of heaviness and reminded me of the endless blessings I receive every day.

Grief is different for everyone.  Grief can be cloudy and unfocused.  Overwhelming and depressing.  And then when the numbness subsides and we have a chance to wrap our heads around the temporal nature of mortality, this new awareness of time limits can make our minds crystal clear.   In my case, once the dust settled (and the flowers died) my work resumed and my new coaching clients shared their struggle with binges. With purpose I began to more intensely ponder the nature of compulsive eating.  I gained clarity about The BIG Lie.   This pervasive lie is behind every instance when we eat too much of the wrong thing at the wrong time.  The lie is: more is better.

To illustrate: during a fun, and admittedly morbid, family conversation, we compared our preferred method of dying.  My boys shared their “blaze of glory” death scenarios complete with fighting robots, magic spells, and nuclear explosions, and then my teenage son piped up that he could guess my favorite way to die: eating my way through a giant river of hot fudge.  Ha ha we chuckled.  I laughed while feeling revulsion.  Literally eating mouthful after mouthful of hot fudge was a disgusting notion—despite the fact that we are talking about hot fudge here.  But I could relate.  There was a time when the feast tables loaded with all manner of delights in animated kids movies made me wish I could eat non-stop.  The idea of endless eating as a pleasure fantasy has deep roots.  It probably has benefit to mankind as a hard-wired survival instinct to keep us foraging, hunting, and gathering.  Have you ever imagined eating ALL the food at Thanksgiving dinner…and then doing it again?  Have you ever walked past a bakery case bursting with buttery pastries and wanted to graze, shovel, and gobble?   I did.  I did because I told myself the lie that more is better.  If one muffin is GREAT then 50 muffins must be ecstasy bordering on Nirvanah.  Like living in Candyland.  Or on a cookie planet.  Right?

Not to kill the buzz, but the truth is pleasure is designed with exquisite mercy to be available every day when we get what we need, at the right time, in the proportion we need.   We are actually designed for the feeling of bliss (pleasure) to tell us our exact requirements to live in perfect balance and health.  Pleasure actually equals ideal health and ideal weight, NOT an escape from reality where we binge until we feel unwell.  Can you remember the last time you ate too much?  Did that feel like pleasure?  Was it heavenly?  Or, was it uncomfortable and followed with regret and negative self-talk?

The right food, at the right time, in the right amount is PLEASURE.  This is truth.  Any food we don’t need cannot satisfy.  Sure the first few bites of a binge get us all hopped up on yumminess.  But then to block out the message from our bodies that we are fulfilled and it is time to quit we must zone out and escape.  Binges actually deny us pleasure.  We know chips taste good, but once the needed amount is met they can never give us peaceful satisfaction.

I challenge you to ferret out the false conversations that crop up when we imagine that endless fried chicken would be great.  What is the truth about too much fried chicken…or too much of anything?  Is “too much” a “reward” or a “treat” or “fun?”  What untrue conversation do you have with yourself when you feel buzzy with compulsion?

If you feel disappointed that your escape with the old buddy food is based on a hollow lie remember the good news that living in balance is graced with mind-blowing daily enjoyment.  Please catch yourself using the lie that feeling unwell is pleasure—because you and I both know it is not.  The miraculous design of our bodies is that our own personal formula for wellness, energy, sexy identity, and strength corresponds with accepting pleasure.  Would you like some true pleasure today or do you decline your body’s invitation to have ideal weight and gratifying satisfaction?

Vietnamese Beef & Pineapple Salad~  from Daily Fuel, by Tres Prier Hatch (coming 2016) SEE RECIPE BELOW

Photo Credit: Shaleen Ford

Vietnamese Beef and Pineapple Salad, from Daily Fuel, by Tres Prier Hatch

Serves 4

The symphony of flavors produced by contrasting crunchy veg topped with a vinaigrette of lime, fish sauce, ginger, savory onion, rich meaty “umami” of steak, and sweet pineapple makes this a must-try recipe.  Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients because this dish comes together quickly.  If you use the suggested pantry stocks listed in this book, you likely have most of these items on hand.  Feel free to substitute shrimp, tofu or chicken for the beef.

Dressing

3 tablespoons fish sauce (available in Asian markets and in the Asian isle of many grocery stores)

2 tablespoons Asian sweet chile sauce (or apricot jam with ½ teaspoon of sambal)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

 Steak

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon dry Sherry

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon (packed) brown sugar

1 ¼ pounds New York strip steak

Salad

2 bunches watercress, bottom 2 inches discarded, cut into 1-inch lengths

3 cups mixed baby greens (about 1 ½ ounces)

2 cups (lightly packed) Bibb lettuce leaves (about 6 large), torn

1 cup Thai basil leaves, cut into ½-inch-wide strips (or regular basil)

½ 12-ounce hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, sliced very thinly on diagonal

12 cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for searing steak)

½ medium-size red onion, cut into thin wedges

2 shallots (about 1/4 cup), sliced into thin rounds

¼ medium pineapple, peeled, cored, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds

 Dressing

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl to blend.

Marinate Steak

Mix oyster sauce, Sherry, soy sauce, minced garlic, and brown sugar in a medium bowl.  Stir in steak pieces.  Marinate steak at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Salad

Combine watercress, mixed baby greens, Bibb lettuce, basil, cucumber, and tomatoes in a large bowl.  Add half of dressing and toss to coat.  Arrange greens mixtures on a large rimmed platter.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat.  Add onion and shallots and sauté 30 seconds.  Add beef with marinade.  Sauté until beef is brown outside but still pink inside, about 4 minutes.  Add pineapple slices and stir until pineapple is heated through, about 1 minute longer.  Spoon steak mixture with pan juices atop dressed greens on platter.  Drizzle salad with remaining dressing and serve.

 

Tres Hatch is the author of Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy.  Her new cook book Daily Fuel is scheduled for release in 2016.  Want a taste of Daily Fuel?  Try this recipe and watch for more preview recipes from Daily Fuel.  Your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

Rotator Cuff Diet

The case of: Approval V. Happiness

After too much volleyball and not enough listening to my body (yup, I am so guilty), I ended up with a shoulder injury.  So severe was the pain that in three months I lost 15 pounds from teeth-gritting nausea.  When I finally got relief a friend asked why my pants were loose.  As a joke I quipped that I had been on the “Rotator Cuff Diet.”   She immediately said,

“I wish I could be in enough pain to lose weight.”

English Sponge Cake with Berries~ from the cook book Daily Fuel, by Tres Prier Hatch

English Sponge Cake with Berries~ from the cook book Daily Fuel, by Tres Prier Hatch

I was astonished.  Didn’t she just hear about my misery?  Had I somehow failed to express my utter unhappiness during that trial?  It was at that moment it struck me: She did not want to be happy, she wanted to be thin.  For many of us (I used to think this way too), weight loss is not about happiness.  We tell ourselves we will be happy when our body matches an arbitrary pre-set weight, but this is not always true.  Actually, we are desperate for self- approval.  We are willing to endure horrible pain, diets, restrictions, dangerous medications and procedure, deprivations, and a host of other yucky experiences to be thin because only then can we give ourselves approval.  We withhold approval until we see the right number on the scale or wear the right size clothing.

So the answer is clearly to approve of ourselves REGARDLESS of our weight.  However, the notion that we can “love” ourselves into weight loss is pretty weak.   Law of attraction…mind over matter…both approaches are true, but every serial dieter knows it can be tough to lose weight and keep it off.  For me it was a long road to lose 110-pounds.  Instead, I am preaching the mindset of withholding self-approval directly works against enjoying ideal weight.  Without acceptance of ourselves as we are TODAY, warts and all, we cannot listen to our bodies and hear our needs.  We cannot see through the allure of “thin” and replace it with the better goal of balance and permanent peace with our bodies.  We cannot feel the self-affirming comfort of enjoying our preferred amount of food—the portion that give us energy and leaves us feeling light.  We cannot congratulate ourselves for acknowledging the need for a cookie after a lunch of spinach salad.  The cookie, by the way, is a good thing if you want to be balanced and not binge.  And, perhaps we cannot hear the need for physical activity, more sleep, less bread, more water, or any other necessary fulfillment that results in balance.

What’s so special about approval?  Why do we ultimately care more about approval than happiness?  Because without it we are utterly alone.  When we withhold complete love and trust in our being “enough” we cannot truly connect with the love offered from others.  We don’t believe it.  During our interactions with others we may act the part of the loved spouse, friend, mother, but our “shadow selves” know better.  We fear deep inside that because we know the truth (that we are not acceptable), the love of others is not warranted.  Their love cannot enter our inner realm.  We cannot reconcile the gaps we feel in our souls with the genuine embrace of others.  Withholding self-approval and the subsequent deep-seated mistrust of the love from those around us, ultimately leaves us alone in the private spaces of our hearts.  We feel marginalized, lonely, and different.  Ultimately, if we don’t approve of ourselves we cannot fully connect with others.

“Separate-ness from the world” feeds binges, compulsive behavior and a host of other issues we privately exact on ourselves.  So, my recommendation is you shift your conditional self-approval from a number on the scale to approving every time you connect to your body.  Approve of the process instead of the end result.  Did you notice how soon you felt hungry after exercising?  Do you feel better after noticing your exact preferred portion size (whether or not you exceeded)?  Are you more energetic after 8 hours of sleep than 6 hours?    The very act of tuning in should earn us approval points because in so doing we affirm we are worth taking care of.  The body is changing and will always be changing.  Hanging out our approval shingle only when we look a certain way is precarious because age will certainly mar any beauty standard we set.  Once we get thin, we will eventually have veins in our legs and wrinkles everywhere else.  Instead, grant approval for living in the present, tuning in to our needs, and accepting our truth that we are “enough.”   The payoff of approval is we support a faster metabolism because we are balanced, AND we are happier.  So maybe happiness is as important as approval, it just comes from a kinder, gentler place than injuring a shoulder.

Tres Hatch is the author of: Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy and the upcoming cook book: Daily Fuel.  Learn more at TresHatch.com .

Take This Test to Stop Overeating

Tres with Cherry & Chocolate Pretzel, Salzburg

Tres with Cherry & Chocolate Pretzel, Salzburg

For the sake of semantics can we all just agree that any time we eat food we don’t “need” it is a binge?  Essentially, a binge occurs when we override our bodies and commandeer the cookies.  In order for this remarkable test to do its job we need to start by using the same terms.  So, food we don’t need is a binge (or compulsive eating).

From this definition of a binge we learn overeating requires a disconnect from the needs and prompts of our bodies.  To reverse compulsive eating, the first thing we do (before the test) is to practice connecting when we eat.  As I lost 110-pounds and eliminated body struggle I learned 3 helpful tools to be connected when I eat.  They all rely on the skill of projection.  Projection means you project what you are missing, what sounds good, and whether or not you are satisfied with the present amount.  C’mon, you have been around enough to know how you will feel after another helping of pulled pork.  Here is the breakdown of these steps:

The Breakfast Buffet

The Breakfast Buffet

1)      What’s Missing?

Project backward over the last 24 hours and observe what categories of food are missing.  If you have had a lot of flour products, you don’t need more grain.  If you have been eating leafy greens like a bunny, you might be missing some protein.  If you have lived without any treats you are probably screaming for some sugar.  All of these absent things are detrimental to balance and balance speeds the metabolism (Yup, even the sugar needs to be there).  Decide what is missing from your fuel values so you can fulfill them.

2)      What Sounds Good?

Trust your body to talk.  If you are missing vegetables, allow your body to direct you with color (yellow squash, red tomato, green beans, etc.) or notice which food springs to mind.  If you have not had much in the way of grains and whole-grain bread with butter sounds good, go for the bread or include it in upcoming meals.  If fresh, juicy watermelon sounds good, attempt to fulfill the absent fruit.

3)      Am I Satisfied Yet?

This conversation is great to have from the very first bite.  It requires you to project ahead and see how well your portion size meets your need.  So, the first bite is great.  After a few bites you just ask yourself how close you are to “satisfied.”  Use projection to get an idea what your needs will be.  When you get to the “bliss” point (that moment of satisfaction and fulfillment when you know you have had the right amount) you can stop and be perfectly balanced.  BUT, here’s the rub: what if it tastes SOOOOOO good you don’t want to stop?  This moment of longing for more food is where the test works perfectly, every time so you DON’T WANT more.  Rather than fighting off urges with discipline, this test produces aversion from your body so you don’t want any more—making it easy to have the right amount of food every meal.

In a nutshell, the test relies on the truth that food we DON’T need simply cannot satisfy.  We might think we ate the whole box of cereal because we like Choco Puffs, but we probably stopped tasting after a point.  And if food doesn’t satisfy, the body will tell us it really and truly doesn’t want anymore.  Ergo, no discipline or self-control is needed because your own body stops you before you do damaging excess.  This is how people in a peaceful, balanced relationship with their bodies experience food.  But don’t take my word for it.  Try the test:

Here is the Projection Test:

Eat in a connected way until you are satisfied.  When your body tells you it is fulfilled with the present amount of food, TEST it by taking 1-2 more bites.  Tune in and actually assess if those test bites are, in fact, as good as the earlier bites that your body needed.  Every time, without fail, the body will tell us: No this is not fulfilling, it is not as good.  As you get clear on your messages from your body you will even get an “aversion prompt” telling you more would be gross and you don’t want it because it simply cannot fulfill you.

Cheese Market, Vienna

Cheese Market, Vienna

Cool, huh!

 

The Mechanics of a Binge–and How to Stop Them

“Ugh, I feel gross.  How could I have eaten ALL that cookie dough?  What a weak, undisciplined glutton!  Why didn’t I stop?”

These thoughts are classic after a binge because they reflect (and fuel) that compulsive behavior.  For discussion purposes, let’s call a binge any event that involves eating more than our bodies need—of anything!  We can binge on grapefruit, rice cakes, and even salad (if you ever left a salad bar stuffed and feeling slightly sick you know what I’m talking about).

A common misconception about binges is they are about food, or rather, our weakness for food.  But compulsive eating is not about food.  And you are not weak.  You are actually strong because it takes a tough character to suffer the hostile consequences of a binge over and over.  Rather, a binge is about control and escape.  All compulsive eating is accompanied by the feeling that we are out of control, followed afterward by a sense of guilt, shame, regret and self-loathing.  Surprisingly, it is this very cycle that fuels future binge episodes.

Wanna stop them?  OK, let’s examine the mechanics of any compulsive (binge) eating:

We start with feeling anxious and out of control.   This can start when we are children and brought forward to be acted upon into adulthood, or it can happen as adults when events stress us out and we feel helpless.  A job loss, a death, loneliness, boredom, illness, injury, side effects from medication, a dominant or manipulative parent or spouse,  divorce—either yours or your parent’s, relocation to a new city, relationship stress, violence, family turmoil, financial issues, or crisis in any form can result in a very real feeling of impotence and helplessness.  We feel buffeted by the winds of life and helpless to affect the situation.  Let’s call this the 1st problem.

Mechanics of a Binge Timeline-Larger

The “1st Problem” makes us feel helpless.  Because the universe abhors imbalance, and because feeling weak and impotent are lousy experiences we seek a way to gain back a sense of power—if only for a few moments.  Here’s the kicker: bad people assert control by hurting others.  Good people exert control by turning that hostility inward on themselves.  Yup, a binge is a power grab that seemingly does not affect anyone but ourselves and therefore feels safe and outside of accountability.  It is a private and secret game.  It is an escape from the present, and subsequently, it is a full disconnect from our bodies and our preferences.  No one really wants to feel swollen and bloated, so compulsive eating, by definition, is a hostile override of our preferences.

So, good people binge to ballast anxiety or stress—to gain a sense of power.  This binge creates new problems (2nd Problem), such as: we feel sick, experience rapid weight fluctuations, we bloat, and we become discouraged and disgusted, feeling inherently out of balance.  But why do we keep doing it if it makes us feel so doggone yucky?

At the same time a binge gives us a (false) sense of power, it also makes us surrender to a sense of helplessness to stop it.  (See the 2nd and 3rd plots on the timeline.) We assert control over our situation by eating too much, and at the same time we feel out of control for eating too much.  Those two opposing forces, in combination with hateful self- talk, create the fuel that fires up future binges.  If a binge were unaccompanied by any guilt or regret it would never have the energy to become a compulsion.  For example, imagine after your very first binge you refused to pile on the negativity and instead simply noted how unappealing this coping mechanism really was.   If no shame or moral value was attached to it and you simply reflected on the event, like an observer, you would come to the conclusion that eating too much was unappealing.  In other words, there would be no hostile payoff to this coping mechanism and therefore, would not become a habit.  Does that make sense?  The payoff to a binge is a false sense of control from creating a situation—albeit a undesirable one.  However, refusing to beat yourself up about it afterward extinguishes the energy behind compulsive behavior.   In a straightforward way allow yourself to be OK with a binge.

The Antidote to Binges—

The next time you eat more of something than you truly prefer, talk yourself off the ledge by refusing to go down the road of self-punishment.  Instead, note as an observer, the various dynamics and false conversations that led to your disconnect and tell yourself it is OK—either way.  For instance, did you tell yourself these are your favorite kind of Doritos and therefore you need to grab extra handfuls because they are precious—but you took far more than you actually prefer to have in your body?  The antidote to binges is to discontinue feeding payoff to the episode.  Stop feeling bad.  You were not bad.  There is no moral judgment associated with bingeing.  No one is denied entrance to Heaven because in this life their body was out-of-balance .  Allow yourself to return to a connected space where you trust your body’s prompts to tell you what to eat and how much to eat.  Tune in as you eat to experience true pleasure, instead of escaping and never becoming fulfilled.  A binge is not pleasure.  A binge never ends with us feeling happily satisfied.  But true connected pleasure can result in your body talking to you and telling you it is fulfilled and in a state of bliss from yummy food.  Be well and balanced.  Please read more about balance and how to fuel a fast metabolism in my book: Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy, along with numerous blog articles on this site: TresHatch.com.  If you have any comments or experiences regarding this issue I would be happy to get them.

Tres Hatch is the author of Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy.

For recipes and cooking videos visit: TresHatch.com

How Much is it Worth to You?

Cranberry Applesauce with Honey from Tres Hatch's new cook book: Daily Fuel--coming out Fall 2014

Cranberry Applesauce with Honey from Tres Hatch’s new cook book: Daily Fuel–coming out Fall 2014; See Recipe Below

The old saying goes, “Talking to yourself is normal—it’s when you start answering yourself that you need to worry. “  To that end, have you ever bought your own lie?  For instance, have you ever eaten at a buffet until you were satisfied, but convinced yourself to go back for another round because the food was abundant and you wanted to “get your money’s worth?”  It feels like a reasonable justification, but taking more food at the expense of feeling well is certainly not a “win” because it actually results in feeling unwell.  Making ourselves feel uncomfortable is the opposite of enjoying food.  In fact, you could consider it a self-inflicted hostile act; like guerilla warfare carried out on our home turf.  We lie by assigning false value to an inanimate object (such as the Jello ring mold at the salad bar) over the inherent value of our bodies.

Lying to ourselves about food can include any rationalization that overrides our body’s prompts and disconnects us from true pleasure.  Pleasure is good.  It is part of our design.  It helps us feel satisfied and get the message from our bodies to stop eating when we have been sufficiently fueled.  Bingeing, on the other hand, is actually a disconnect from pleasure, because during a binge we stop listening to the objections of our bodies in order to eat another helping of mashed potatoes and gravy.  We may tell ourselves it is just so good that we needed a second helping, but at some point we disconnected from pleasure and went into escape mode in order to keep shoveling it in.  The rub is we actually denied ourselves true pleasure by loading up on more than we needed.

The following is a list of some of the false justifications I employed, at one point or another, that have made me feel bloated, over-stuffed, and out of balance.  As you read, please notice if you have ever had any of these internal conversations:

 

Lie: “I paid a lot for that gourmet package of cookies.  I already ate several of them but they were from a special store and I don’t want to waste them.  So I’ll finish them off.”

Truth: Food has NO VALUE unless we need it.  Period.  It doesn’t matter how much we paid for it.  If we don’t need it, it has no value.  Remember, treats are a valid need when eaten for true pleasure in the correct portion.

 

Lie: “I only get this during the Holidays. A giant frosted cinnamon roll does not really sound good for breakfast, but I want one because I might not get them again for another year.”

Truth: Fear is a terrible reason for making a decision about what to eat.  Life is a never-ending conveyor belt of wonderful food.  How often do goodies show up in your week?  Opportunities for pleasure are EVERYWHERE!  Let go of a white-knuckled grip on food.  Assign it value only when you need it instead of falsely assigning it value because of a special event.  Food has no feelings.  But you do.  If you wrap up the cinnamon roll and save it for another day, the pastry will not be offended.  You can have all the delights in the world—just not all today.  Stay in balance by having food when you need it.

 

Lie: “I have to eat it or her feelings will be hurt.  My daughter baked this huge lasagna for dinner.  I really want a pile of salad, but if I only have a small taste of the lasagna it will discourage her from cooking.  She won’t feel I appreciated her effort.  She will feel slighted.”

Truth: There are on very rare occasions, real food obligations, but in most cases the people that share food with us only want us to be well—not out of balance.  Besides, we are not under the microscope as much as we might think.  Most people won’t notice what we eat or how much.

 

Lie: “If my kids won’t eat their meals then I will because I worked really hard to make this dinner.”

Truth: Eating your portion and then cleaning off other people’s plates makes you out of balance.  It does not validate your efforts, skill, or sacrifice as a cook.  Don’t be a martyr at your own expense.

 

Lie: “I’m full surprisingly early in the meal, but this is a special dinner and I want to keep [celebrating] with everybody else.  If I stop eating I will be the only one not enjoying the food.”

Truth: Being present to enjoy true pleasure also means we are present in the moment.  Conversation is part of being present in a social setting.  Be aware when you eat as a means to escape from having to interact. Eating gives us something to do so we don’t need to engage.  But in order to notice when we are satisfied we need to be present.

 

Lie: “Tonight I will eat my piece of pie because if I wait until I am ready (tomorrow) it will be gone.”

Truth: Eating food when you don’t need it can never give you pleasure—so you never need to sacrifice.  Let it go.  There will always be more treats along the buffet-trail of life.

 

Lie: “A small salad will probably be enough but I am going to order the half-chicken dinner because I won’t get to eat again for another six hours.”

Truth: Don’t be afraid of hunger.  Preemptive eating generally just gets us out of balance.  Design your life so you have whole foods on hand in case you get hungry.  Nobody gets a gold star on their forehead for being hungry.  Hunger is a healthy message telling you to re-fuel.  Keep your purse or backpack stocked with a small package of almonds, an apple, hard-boiled egg, bag of granola, peanut-butter sandwich, whole-grain pretzels, or squares of high-quality chocolate to keep the gnawing hungries at bay.  Always honor the needs of your body at the time you eat.  If a salad is enough, have a salad.

Tres Hatch is the author of Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy. Visit Treshatch.com. Watch for Tres’ new cook book Daily Fuel to come Fall of 2014.

Cranberry Applesauce with Honey, by Tres Hatch; from Daily Fuel--due out Fall of 2014

Cranberry Applesauce with Honey, by Tres Hatch; from Daily Fuel–due out Fall of 2014

Cranberry Applesauce with Honey

Makes about 4 ½ cups

This applesauce tastes moderately sweet; use it as a jam or fruit compote.  Apart from the sweetened dried cranberries, this applesauce contains only natural sugars and honey.  Omit the dried cranberries if you prefer no added sugar.  Feel free to use instead dried apricots, dates, currents, cherries, or any other fruit.

3 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, quartered, cored, cut into ¾- inch pieces

1 ½ cups cran-apple juice

1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup dried cranberries (I use orange-scented dried cranberries)

½ heaping cup honey

Combine all ingredients in heavy large saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer covered until apples are very tender and beginning to fall apart, about 25 minutes.  Uncover for the last 10 minutes of cooking to thicken applesauce.  Allow some water to remain—it should not be dry.  (Can be made 2 days ahead.  Cover; chill.)  If you like chunkier applesauce reduce cooking time by half.

Serve with Pan-Seared Roasted Chicken (from Daily Fuel a new cook book by Tres Hatch) or spread on toast with cream cheese or butter.

 

 

Trust Your Design

Kumquat-Pecan Chocolate Bark--Recipe in Daily Fuel, by Tres Prier Hatch

Kumquat-Pecan Chocolate Bark–Recipe in Daily Fuel, by Tres Prier Hatch

What do trust issues have to do with enjoying a peaceful relationship with your body, free of weight issues and food issues? A lot, actually. Without trust we cannot truly believe deep down in our bones, that the body is designed to talk to us minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour.  Without trust we cannot have the kind of conversations that go like this:

“That pink Valentine’s sugar cookie shurrrrre looks good.  (sniffing) I can smell the buttercream frosting.  Do I need it and therefore, want it? (Notice how trust and need are connected.)  Well, I like cookies but after the iced orange roll and this morning’s muffin I don’t really need any more sweet carbs.  You know what sounds really good?  Turkey and spinach sound good…because I need them.  For lunch I’m going to try to match my choices to turkey and spinach as closely as possible.”

This example of a clear connection with the body identifies what we might need: which is, in essence whatever is missing that day.  Our bodies can tell us from the absent food categories what sounds good, if we ask.

Relative to the design of our bodies it is a tender mercy that when we have exactly what we need, it always tastes the best.  This is true even if those Swedish Fish and peanut-butter cups are our favorite treat, and what we really need are eggs and broccoli.  We never need to sacrifice.  When eggs and broccoli are needed they satisfy on a level of pleasure the wrong foods simply cannot match.  To defend this point let me ask you: if you were dying of thirst in the desert would you prefer water over ANY OTHER LIQUID?  Sure, water would taste best because it is exactly what you would need.

Of course sugar tastes good. Let’s not pretend it doesn’t.   Any time of day I can project the yumminess of a brownie in my mouth.  But freedom comes when I want a brownie only when I need it…and that requires trusting my body when it says an orange would fill the bill far better than a brownie.  If you worry that you will never get to eat treats because sugar and junk food are supposed to be bad for you rest assured.  We do need treats.  Regularly.  There is no bad food.  Sugar is not wrong.  In fact, life is a never-ending conveyor belt of wonderfulness.  The rub is having that wonderfulness when you actually need it and prefer it, in the proportion you need, instead of allowing food to lord over you when you don’t actually need it.

The following conversation illustrates how trusting the design of our bodies gives us freedom from compulsive bingeing and overeating in general:

“This Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby is my favorite flavor ice cream.  I rarely get to eat it. Besides, the kids are asleep and I have the TV remote to myself.  First bite… wonderful.  Second bite… even better.  Third bite… assessing all the textures and flavors.  Fourth bite, I’m feeling the richness of the butterfat all through my mouth.  What pleasure, what bliss.  I might just be having a foodgasm.  Yes, I’m satisfied.  I peaked.  (Projecting ahead) What if I kept going?  My tastes buds are actually getting a little cold and numb.   More bites won’t add up to more pleasure.  In fact, I can project the way another bite would feel in my body and it would be a bit gross.  Yup, I am feeling a definite aversion to more ice cream right now.  Besides, I’m still swooning from the first four bites.  It is enough.  I don’t want more.”

Did you notice how the internal conversation allowed me to fully experience the pleasure from ice cream?  The antidote to compulsive eating is to register more pleasure.  Only then can we receive a prompt that we are satisfied to the point of aversion.  If we falsely believe eating beyond the bliss point of satisfaction will just add up to more pleasure remember that after we peak and meet the need, eating more becomes an exercise in disconnection and escape.  We may tell ourselves we are eating because the chips and salsa taste good, but after a few bites (or half the bag) we are really escaping and not actually experiencing pleasure.

Trust issues are generally about control because we sometimes wrongly imagine our bodies hang in balance by a thread and only our hard-iron discipline will keep us from the tipping point–as if discipline will keep us eating salad instead of brownies, sugar cookies, or any other food we deem restricted.  In other words, we think we are dictators to our bodies, telling it what it needs.  It already knows.  Your body was designed perfectly to be in balance and it will tell you what it needs instead of relying on your knowledge of FDA nutrition charts or some other external construct.  The problem with this misapprehension (that we need to dictate to our bodies what we need) is we only blame ourselves when we become out of balance, instead of realizing we merely need to re-connect to our bodies to find out what we need.  Trusting the perfect design of our bodies allows us to trust in balance.  Balance means we have exactly the right things going in and the right amount expended and going out.  We don’t have to ballast that ship with sheer determination.  Instead we need to trust our bodies were designed in the first place to be in balance. They can talk.  They were designed to.   Only then can we listen to prompts that tell us hummus and raw veg sound better than a cheeseburger and fries.  Way better.  Cleaner.  More enjoyable 20 minutes after eating.  Way more enjoyable 3 hours later.  We can also trust the food on Earth was put here for our use and is neither good nor bad.  Some food is better fuel, but no food is “bad.”  If there is no bad food and nothing is restricted we don’t particularly need to hoard the lemon bars out of fear that we won’t ever get them again OR out of fear we won’t ever give ourselves permission again.  We can let go of that white-knuckle grip on food.

If your body has become sneaky and tells you messages you no longer trust, use what you know about balance to act as if you are hearing it perfectly.  For instance, ask yourself if you are satisfied yet.  Relish the true pleasure and become practiced at noticing when you have hit your apex of fulfillment.  During this discovery time fine tune your listening so your body can talk more directly.  For example, when prompts for hydration are chronically ignored the body might get creative and start sending a craving for salty snacks—which in turn, makes us thirsty for a drink.  Fix this prompt by hydrating more often.  If you simply cannot stop eating treats late at night, tune in to every bite of your snack to eke out all the possible pleasure you can—thus, allowing your brain chemistry to start sending you that elusive message that you are “satisfied, fulfilled, and done.”

Even if it takes a few weeks to get your messages coming in loud and clear, you can still do it.  Trust the design and have peace.

Tres Hatch is the author of Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy.

TresHatch.com

 

 

Balance

Green Beans Almondine--from Daily Fuel, a Cook Book by Tres Hatch  (To be released Fall 2014, TresBon Publishing)

Green Beans Almondine–from Daily Fuel, a Cook Book by Tres Hatch (To be released Fall 2014, TresBon Publishing)

I was about to stuff the little cinnamon-filled pastry in my mouth when I realized I was longing for hunger.  It was now January 2nd and for weeks my diet had been supplemented with enough sugar, butter, white flour, and chocolate to kill a Billy goat.  After 2 months of food padded with hunger-killing calories, I longed to return to a place of balance where hunger was as predictable as political bickering.   What a surprise!  It happens every January, yet I was caught off guard by the need to feel the familiar rhythm of fuel—hunger—and fuel again.  Instead, those sporadic prompts of hunger felt muted, as if the message was sent from behind a closed door.  I wanted a good, hard, totally-empty kind of message.  Furthermore, because of the glut of saturated treats, when I did eat I only needed a few bites before feeling less-than-satisfied.  No happy contented sighs.  I missed the fulfillment of being empty and then fueling with the exact food I needed to arrive at a feeling of bliss—having truly been fed.

Freedom from body issues means enjoying correct balance throughout the year (on average).  Balance is the result of moving through all seasons and a majority of the time getting exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.  Over the course of twelve months we can be in balance most of the time.  Balance doesn’t mean living like a monk during the holidays and turning up our noses to Bundt cake and Jell-O mold with puritanical restraint.  If the Holidays present a departure from the norm…OK.  The norm is the defining feature, not the occasional chunk of fudge.  Getting back to “the norm” comes from “thin thinking.”  If you want to live forever without a body battle, think like a thin person.  In other words, have the conversations with your body that a thin person—free of weight issues—has with their body.  When you are done with Holiday food, thank the stars: you are getting a clear message.  This is a good thing, not to be ruined with guilt or self-hate.  Simply acknowledge the prompt to eat cleaner, lighter, more high-value food (in the correct portion after working up a true appetite).  You might need to wait longer between meals and transition to snacks with greater fuel value, such as berries or vegetables.  You might also need to resume activity at a level of fitness that matches your abilities.  Cold months tend to entice us to sit more and move less.  Intentionally move.  Truth: This return to a place of balance is the thinking of thin people.  They get sick of junk food and long for a salad, or lentils, or fish, or fruit, or broccoli, or olive oil.  Moving in that direction consistently after fruitcake, ham, and eggnog allows us to become defined over time by our average or normal behaviors.  Not the treats we know and love.

Be kind and gentle with yourself.  Don’t allow guilt to take you out of “thin thinking” and into the realm of “fat thinking.”  Acknowledge all body messages with gratitude and enjoy all seasons.  Now, please pass the arugula.

 

Perfection

Bad Elf What is perfection?  You may be surprised by the widely accepted, yet untrue, definition of this concept.  Throughout the coaching process Emily (let’s call her that), shared with me her difficulty with positive visualizations.  The challenge to look at herself in the mirror and see her true self, void of age spots or belly rolls, was just not happening.  She could mentally picture an old faded photo of herself from her teens—the one showing an anorexic 18-year old.  But Emily could not imagine her own eternal soul.  The very real image of that same soul she had before birth and will continue to BE after death was eclipsed by dissatisfying focus points reflected in her mirror.  Instead, she became disgusted with jowls beneath her cheeks, fat pads on the inside of her knees, wrinkles, gray hairs, swollen hips, and other parts deemed unworthy.

“But I’m doing everything else.” She protested.  “I’m listening to my body for prompts of what to eat.  I’m staying in balance.  I’m exercising daily at a sustainable intensity.  Why does it matter what I see in the mirror?”  She paused and then declared, “I will like what I see after I have lost all the weight.”

To answer her question I explained the way we “see” ourselves maps a blueprint for our bodies to follow.  Our bodies take the shape of what we ask of them.   For instance, the bodies of different athletes reflect the demands of their particular sport—think long distance runners or swimmers.   Swimmers ask their bodies to propel through water in a particular way and accordingly develop shoulder, back, thigh, and lateral muscles.  Visualizing a performance is a key element in training programs for professional athletes, musicians, dancers, etc.  In terms of living in peace with our bodies without weight issues, when we visualize and believe we are glorious, perfect, and ”enough”, and we team that with the ideal fuel balance and activity, our bodies take our ideal shape.  The blueprint can also work against us.  If we see ourselves as “on trial” and unacceptable, we perpetuate the brain chemistry and mentality of something other than ideal.  This critical blueprint results in a battle with our own bodies.

I continued to dig a little deeper and asked,

“Emily, why do you suppose when you see yourself in the mirror you default to a critical perspective, instead of having fun with the joyful visualization of the real you?”

Her response was gut-wrenching.

 “Because I look so bad.”

“OK,” I said.  “If you were handicapped and scarred with horrible burns–in a wheelchair, would your soul be less than gorgeous?  What does how you look today have to do with connecting with your soul? ”

“Because until I look perfect I cannot convince myself otherwise,” she replied.

There it was; the admission that she felt she was on trial for acceptance; proving herself.  Perfection or bust.  I asked her to examine perfection.  What is it?  Are we graded on a curve?  Do we need to look better than our friends and family to rank high?  Are we only closer to perfection if we are more beautiful than other moms, neighbors, co-workers?  What about aging:  Do we get a handicap or a bonus point for every decade we remain wrinkle-free and mobile?  Do we need to be better-looking than movie stars in magazines…because, hey those pics have been photo-shopped?  Where will it end?  How the heck are we going to arrive at perfection?  Do we need to exceed the features of a computer-enhanced image in a magazine in order to believe that we are perfect?  So, again I asked: what is perfection?

It was at this point that her definition of perfection expanded.  She had a moment of brilliance and realized perfection is something she (and you) already has.  We are born with it.  Our undeniably perfect souls, the ones that never get old or grow hairs in weird places, are real.  These changing bodies that shift through our mortal lives are temporary and less real.  In fact, our perfection is not affected at all by a broken leg or an ingrown toenail, or heaven forbid, fat thighs.

With this greater understanding of who she is Emily looked down and noticed for the first time that her legs were thinner.  She saw in the mirror her collar bones were starting to protrude.  She rejoiced in her loose pants and increased stamina.  AND this loving self-view helped jump-starting her metabolism such that she dropped a pound over Thanksgiving.  This all occurred while eating pie and not restricting.

Be honest about the bar you set for yourself.  If you withhold acceptance until you match a preset level of “thin” you are feeding the brain chemistry that keeps you fat.  Set a blueprint for ideal weight by saying hello to your beautiful soul.  Live in the truth that you are absolutely gorgeous.  De-bunk the lie that you need to look perfect before you suspend criticism and embrace your perfect soul.

Will you accept this challenge to see your soul?  What does it look like?  Acknowledge and accept your eternal perfection.  Beware defining “perfect” as something temporal.  The real you—the one that you take everywhere you go—is the one that God created long ago without the need for photo-shop.   You are perfect.

 

 

 

Design Your Life

There comes a point in every one of my client’s transformations where they simply gasp in unbelief at the burden of change looming before them.  “You cannot seriously expect me to prep vegetables EVERY week!” Or, “What do you mean I need to sleep more in order to speed up my metabolism?  I always get less than 7 hours.”

What is your sticking point?  What is the one thing you won’t do (or give up) that prevents you from progressing towards health and body peace?  We sometimes dig in our heels and simply refuse to do that thing. And we usually have a VERY good reason for refusing.  Maybe you don’t like to cook, or maybe you don’t like to exercise.  Perhaps you have stated categorically that you DON’T like vegetables and you clearly don’t have enough time to cook a wholesome meal every day.
Bear in mind no matter how valid our reason for sticking to the status quo we are still designing our way right out of health and an ideal weight.  That’s right.  We design our lives for better or worse.  The ABSENCE of time to exercise is part of our life design–the one we put in place.  Processed food out of a box, can, freezer, or bag, for all its convenience, is also part of the design.  Truth is we create the life we want.  When we want an active healthy body that hums along with a fast metabolism and maintains an ideal weight we design our habits to result in that transformation.  No one is going to do it for us.  No one else can.  My beautiful friend Elizabeth Anderson, a renowned trainer and fitness guru, once told me she could tell a lot about a woman’s health by looking in her purse.  She went on to suggest a stash of raw nuts, protein, foil-pack tuna fish, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, chocolate, and water, generally belonged to someone with a fit body.
When I cited this life choice with one former client she complained that it was too much trouble to pack her bags with sustainable whole foods.  She was too busy to think ahead like that.  It seemed to her to be a bit obsessive.  In addition, she hated to be in the kitchen and therefore would not be able to take a lunch to work every day.  Her conclusion was she needed to continue to eat fast food with her co-workers every day and find another way around that pesky weight problem.  Her chosen life design was firmly in place and unmovable because she forgot she was in charge.  She forgot she could BE who she wanted. No one held a gun to her head requiring her to order French fries.  Eventually she realized she could be someone that planned ahead for lunch by packing the necessary fuel.  Was it more effort?  Yes.  Did she want to be someone that CLAIMED her health with her actions and choices?  Yes.  She decided the payoff from shopping, prepping, and cooking more meals with plant fuel and lean protein was worth it.  We have the freedom to honestly recognize where we have relinquished our own power and to retake the pilot’s chair.
Are there areas in your body management where you have designed healthy habits out of your life?  Do you wanna insert a new design?  Go ahead.  Enjoy.  Please feel free to share your discoveries along the way.  I look forward to hearing from you.