My life has been so crazy stressful since the last time I wrote here! In the not-so-distant past, whenever stressed, my default stress management tactics usually involved something like:
- and sometimes, more than one of these.
The problem with using this kind of stress management tactic, apart from the empty calories, eventual weight gain and health deterioration, is that it does not help me address or eliminate the source of my stress. Emotional eating pacifies a stressful situation temporarily. It helps me “manage” (regulate) the stress - but it does nothing to relieve me of the situation causing me to be stressed!
So for the past couple of months, I have been working on NOT turning to food when stressed, and finding other ways to deal. The past couple of weeks have been a REAL challenge to refrain from emotional eating and I can’t say that every day was a successful day. I don’t feel guilty about turning to food on those days but I know it can’t be my MO when stressed, especially if I am committed to living a juicy (healthy, vibrant) life!
So how do I manage to juicily handle my stress?
1. I wait for the stressful feeling to pass. I start with this tactic, because for me, it’s the most difficult. I have learned, however, that feelings of stress are just “feelings” and unless I’m actually under attack, the stressful feeling will likely go away eventually. So I bear the stressful feeling until it subsides. And it usually DOES subside. It’s a challenge my patience, and to my tolerance for pain, for sure. Not easy at all!
And I thank Shelley, The Food Relationship Coach, for providing me with the inspiration for even handling my stress in this fashion (she is fabulous people - please check her out!)
2. I get active. So let’s say I’m stressed out at work. If I am able to get away from my desk, I do just that, and take a good, brisk walk for twenty minutes or so. If I can’t get away from my desk, I walk around my office for a bit. It’s a good distraction AND the activity helps lower stress levels. Also, when I regularly exercise, I’m better at remaining calm and stressful situations when they arise
3. I write or talk it out. Something about communicating about the source of the stress helps the stress subside. Getting perspective from a loved one (if I’m talking it out or writing to the loved one) can also help me address the source of my stress.
4. I meditate. I utilize the Centering Exercise (a guided meditation audio) from the Silva Method regularly. I aim to use it daily - right now it’s every other day. As the name implies, the Centering Exercise helps keep me centered. I have seen in past experience using it regularly helps me remain calm, even in the most stressful of situations. I just restarted using it regularly. I also use an on-the-spot mode of meditation that I learned from reading The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. It is, essentially, letting my mind rest on a particular sensation (such as a sound, or a taste, or a feeling, or a smell). Resting the mind on something is something like giving it a gentle amount of focus. So, for example, I will allow myself about a minute or two of resting my mind on the feeling of the air conditioning in my office on my skin, or the sound of people talking on the train. I highly recommend the book, as well as checking out the Silva Method.
5. I analyze the source of the stress, plan a way to change the situation, and then follow the plan. The only way I know to truly alleviate myself of a stressor is to do what I can to change my situation with the stressor. In addition, remaining calm and centered, keeping in shape, gaining perspective and stretching my patience with the stressor (i.e., the four other methods I just mentioned) all help change my situation with it.
All of these methods amount to helping me change my response to the stressor - instead of responding with stress, I respond with focus, determination and a resolve for an improved life. Obviously these are much better ways of handling stress than eating brownies and ice cream, but I haven’t completely let go of my emotional eating habits…yet. It’s my goal to making emotional eating a part of my past… walking towards juicily living my life every day, even when things aren’t going my way.
So I’ll admit to you, my dear reader, I’m a little tipsy right now. Just came back from drinking “dirty” (and delicious) margaritas at my new favorite place for margaritas. I’m tipsy but I am also aware that the drinks weren’t anywhere near clean. I decided to see if it was possible, at all, for me to get my clean-drinking on. I think this might be as close as I’ll get!
BTW - I am not a proponent of calling a departure from clean eating a “cheat” (as it’s termed by the author in the link). It’s a departure from clean eating - not to be done everyday - but calling it a “cheat” is negative. Conceptualizing my occasional drink is as something negative isn’t going to be constructive to my clean eating efforts. It’s a departure from clean eating but the occasional drink is a part of my life - nothing to feel bad about!
A last-minute kind of dish: kale sauteed in Ragu Pasta Sauce - Chunky Garden Style/Garden Combination, cheddar cheese and whole wheat shells. Tasted better than it looks!
"Clean eating" is a term I see thrown around a lot lately, and my desire to eat "clean" is a part of what inspires this blog. The other day, however, I whipped up the tasty, seemingly healthy dish above (whole wheat pasta and three servings of vegetables, at least!) and I thought, "Am I eating clean right now?"
Looking into it, there are a number definitions of clean eating out there which vary slightly (check the links below), but they all seem to agree on one thing: if it’s processed, it’s “dirty.” And regardless of the number of vegetables I put into a dish, if it contains pasta sauce from a bottle - it’s dirty! After reading those clean eating definitions, I’ve developed the following clean eating rule that I will use as my guide when making food choices:
If it doesn’t need an ingredient list for me to know what’s it - or if the ingredient list is short and I could easily buy ALL of the ingredients in the supermarket if I wanted to - then it’s clean!
The point of clean eating, to me, is eating as many “whole” (i.e., unprocessed) foods as possible. There’s much more to eating healthy than eating clean, but it’s an important component of healthy eating, and this component is where I’ll start when making choices about what to eat.
Check out the links below for more information about clean eating:
Shine: What is “clean eating” and can you make it work? (Video) (LOVE!)
A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss: Fitting Clean Eating Into a Busy Life (my clean eating inspiration!)
The Gracious Pantry: What is Clean Eating?
LIVESTRONG: Clean Eating: 5 Simple Steps
"Clean eating trusts the fact that the vast array of vegetable, fruits and proteins are going to nourish you by virtue of what they are. You don’t, essentially, have to obsess. You know that the default standard of clean eating – whole food – is going to have you covered.
"To me, clean eating isn’t meant to be life, it is a part of life. If anything, as a former emotional eater, clean eating gave me back my life. Clean eating is about enlisting standards, and doing everything you can to live and abide by those standards.”
- Erika Nicole Kendall
Very, very well said.
Early one morning in late January, I woke up knowing I had a full morning ahead of me. I had to go to the bank for a cashier’s check, pick up and sign a lease, and make arrangements for my move to my new apartment. And all of this was going to happen in three short hours. I also woke up that morning knowing I had to make and eat breakfast before heading out and tackling my to-do list. I did not, however, put “make and eat breakfast” on the top of the to-do list.
This was a mistake.
Instead of making my breakfast, I ran to the Subway near the bank and bought one of their “fresh” breakfast sandwiches. It consisted of flatbread, egg whites, swiss cheese, 3 strips of bacon, green peppers, tomatoes, spinach and jalapenos. It tasted good and seemed like a decent option in comparison to the boiled eggs, toast and grapefruit I likely would have ate if I took 10 minutes to put it together. It had a ton of veggies - I didn’t fathom it could go wrong.
It might surprise you to know I recall EXACTLY what was in a sandwich six months after eating it. While I do have a pretty good memory, the memory of this particular sandwich was seared in my brain when I upchucked its contents four hours later! My stomach was not just upset by this sandwich - it was ANGERED by this sandwich. I vomited violently, and often, that day.
I believe my stomach decided to punish me for acting against it. I had been acting against it for far too long - knowing very well what it liked best (clean, whole, fresh food, preferably made by me) but instead I went to something fast and quick, AGAIN. As the contents of my Subway breakfast reminded me of themselves, all I could think is "I need to do better."
So here I am, making strides to do better. It has NOT been an easy road these past six months - I definitely backslid into old, damaging (and stomach upsetting) ways, particularly when things got hectic. A hectic schedule is not an excuse, however. I have decided to focus more intently on eating better. And that’s what this tumblrblog is about. I’ll be focusing on clean, healthful eating, and gaining a better relationship with food (and in turn, my stomach). Tips I come across, recipe ideas (and attempts) as well as notes on my progress will all go here.
I’ve decided that I DESERVE to live a healthy, more vibrant life and the choices I make about what I eat HAVE to reflect this, no excuses! When I think of “healthy and vibrant” I think of the grapefruit - my favorite fruit. A good grapefruit is healthy (high in vitamins, low sugar content), vibrant (in color) and it’s JUICY (its full of water)! I can go on and on about the great importance of water to vitality and to my concept of JUICY but I’ll say this: to me, a healthy and vibrant life is a JUICY life.
This blog is all about increasing the JUICE!
My favorite. Also, my inspiration.
Where to follow me, for now.