A few weeks ago I was speaking with a friend about my recent (6 months) physical transformation. In that short amount of time I have healthily shed 40 lbs of unwanted fat from my body...and god does it feel incredible. I make no claim to have a better or worse understanding of how our bodies work or that I have any education regarding nutrition. I simply offer you one perspective, my own, after a lifetime of struggle with my weight. The before picture above, is of me, 3 years ago at my all time biggest. It simultaneously pains me and pleases me to see how far I've come. Although I did lose some weight before starting this mindful eating program (25lbs), I wanted to show you all where I was at at my largest, most unfulfilled place in life. It's incredible to think that we often don't see ourselves during our hardest times. I had no idea that's what I looked like until a friend recently sent me that picture. To that man in the before picture I say this, Thank you for now allowing me to see you fully. I'm sorry that you were hurting, I had no idea at the time. I am so blessed that you finally decided to listen to your inner truth and take the first steps to a very long and healthy journey. Your entire body thanks you. Your family thanks you. Your friends thank you. You didn't know it at the time, but things will get better. You and only you have the choice to change what you want about yourself. Let this be a continued lesson to look at yourself objectively, in love and compassion, always.
In a recent review I sent to the nutritionist who helped change my life, this is what I said...
What a wonderful, enlightening and nourishing experience I had with Lindsay.
Just to give you a little back story.. I am a 34 year old, working professional in the TV business, who has always struggled in managing my weight. I've tried every type of quick fix diet and workout routine imaginable...with varying levels of success. P90x got me in great shape, but wasn't sustainable long term. Nutrisystem helped me drop 30 lbs, but I had no way of integrating that way of eating into my real life schedule. Calorie counting programs were a wonderful way to keep track of what my intake was, but still, doesn't allow for a lot of flexibility.
For the better part of a decade I found myself fluctuating 20+ lbs (maybe more) up and down. This of course affects everything, not just the tangible weight going on and off my body. But the actual emotional and physical stress is just plain unhealthy. Enter, my decision to reach out to a professional nutritionist.
Meeting up with Lindsay may have been one of the most important meetings I’ve ever had, regarding my personal nutrition. For the first time in my life I began connecting my brain’s hungry with my stomach’s hungry...and it has allowed me to flourish incredibly. Shortly after applying some simple and SUSTAINABLE eating techniques, I have been able to shed weight healthily. And although the ultimate mission isn't to hit some "target" weight goal, I've gone around 225 lbs and have slowly but persistently lost almost 20 lbs...and am still going. When my body decides I'm at the right weight, it will let me know. I put it like this, It’s no longer an “effort” to manage my weight, but more of an “awareness” of how I'm intaking food...it can be that simple.
In continuation on the path of mindfulness, Lindsay's gentle, nonjudgmental and nurturing approach is extremely helpful. Her guidance has helped me realize some crucial internal truths…not least of which was my disconnected relationship with food. I’m not crashing, I’m getting great sleep, eating extremely healthily and feeling wonderful...(and losing extra weight.)
Thank you 1 million times Lindsay, and I hope you continue to help the people of New York as you've helped me :)
So after this incredible experience, I have decided to share the method that has been most successful for me. Below you will find the unedited email I sent to my friend regarding mindful eating and how it works. I hope this can be of help to anyone who needs it and is seeking an alternative approach to losing weight and keeping it off forever.
Everyday we make choices as to what we put in our bodies. The best part about this plan is that the choice you make today will change how you look and feel tomorrow. There is nothing stopping you from pursuing the body and mind that you want. The days of excuses that our metabolisms have slowed down are long gone. Today is the day you change your life forever. As someone who went from 225lbs to 185lbs in 6 months (and shows no signs of slowing down) I can tell you that anyone can do this. It’s requires patience, moderate discipline and a desire to change.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a diet, a quick fix, a magic bullet or some 3 min a day for 90 days routine. This is a mental switch and lifestyle change that will take time. However, if you’re willing to explore that there are better ways to living and eating, this will work for you. If you’re willing to commit yourself to connecting your mental hunger to your physical hunger, this will be a bullet proof plan. It’s called mindful eating and it makes sense.
(Food shopping note) When you buy groceries make sure you’re buying as much local/organic, non pesticide, non GMO as possible. I know it seems like you’re spending more short term, but what’s more important than what you are fueling and feeding your body with? This is one of the most important decisions and life choices you will ever make. Consider this: we intake information, energy, nutrition in two different ways: First, from the environment we surround ourselves with. (i.e. people, pollution, geographic location, etc) Second, what we physically put inside our bodies (i.e. food, water, toxins, etc) With the intention of living the best, healthiest, happiest life we can live... I have decided to commit myself to putting only the best ingredients in my body. And let me tell you, the results are undeniable.
When you “get hungry” what happens to you? What does “being hungry” mean to you? What does “being full” mean to you? Think about these questions. Actually write down answers and read them out loud. For me being “hungry" = excitement. I knew that I could order as much food as I wanted. The possibilities were endless and the glutton inside me was triggered in a huge way. Comfort was on the way. Being “full" = stuffed. Maybe even with an uncomfortable stomach ache. So this was my eating habit for the last 15 years. I’d get hungry (i.e. excited) and then eat and then be full (i.e. stuffed.) What a disservice I was doing to my body. Unconsciously consuming food just because…without actually connecting my mind’s hungry to my body’s hungry. So here’s what I’ve done: I’VE LINKED THEM UP.
When I get hungry I ask both my mind’s hunger and my stomach’s hungry what they need. Is this me being impulsive? Did I just walk by a bakery and that made me hungry? Had I been so engaged with work that I forgot to eat and now I’m STARVING? Am I eating because I’m sad or craving or need comfort? Or am I just normal hungry because we need to eat to survive? Regardless of the question/answer, it’s important to recognize and ask yourself these things. That is the first step to connecting your mind with your stomach.
Have food prepped. I know getting food prepped seems impossibly time consuming. Well consider this. If you have 2-4 hours a week of free time, you have time to prep food. Personally I like to do most of my prep Sunday night while watching TV, reading or listening to music. You have time, trust me. We all do. It just takes a little effort. Make it fun. Do it with a friend, do it with a partner, do it alone naked…I’m not judging. Just get into the habit of knowing you’ll have to cook for yourself. Cooking is sexy anyhow, so it’s a good thing to learn.
Eat SLOWLY. I know we’ve all heard this before, but there’s an actual biological function to why eating slowly is SO IMPORTANT. Not only is it better for your digestive system, but food takes between 10-15 minutes to reach your stomach. Once it does, it signals to your brain “ok I’m good now, I don’t need any more food.” The problem I had faced for years was that I wanted MORE MORE MORE (brain hunger.) The comfort in stuffing my face wasn’t actually servicing me. That’s the reason I could eat an entire cheese pizza, even though I’d feel like garbage afterwards. Your body only needs 1 slice, but my mind was asking for 8 slices. In reality, if I was to just eat 1 or 2 slices slowly, my body would eventually send the signal to my brain “Ok I’m full now” and I’d be satisfied. Now pizza isn’t the best nutritional source of food, but it’s also not entirely off the table. If you’re having a craving for pizza, eat pizza. This eating shift is less about WHAT you eat and more about HOW you eat. With that in mind, the better the nutrition, the better off you are. And that just comes down to a matter of taste and choice.
As you begin to step on this path of conscious mindful eating, more unexpected things will start to reveal themselves to you. Personally I don’t drink or eat meat at the moment. And here are the reasons for it. I don’t eat meat because I don’t trust what the big farm industry is putting in our animals. Antibiotics, chemicals, etc. I also don’t believe in cruel and unusual treatment for animals. I’m not saying I’d never eat meat again, I just don’t want it to come from suffering animals. I’d rather get it from a local farm who’s practices I know OR kill and process the animal myself. That’s the only way I’ll eat meat again.
Drinking was a simple decision for me. Drinking is a toxin, no matter how you look at it. Yea I know a glass of wine a day is supposedly good for you, and it just may be. However, when was the last time I ever drank 1 glass of wine?! I actually can’t remember a time when I did that. 1 always leads to 2 to 3, then the bottle. Drinking makes your body work harder to process the sugars/alcohol through your liver. I don’t want to put 87 octane through my body anymore, I’d rather run 100LL airplane fuel through it. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again, but when I started on this journey of becoming more mindful of what goes into my body, I decided to really give this a shot with no distractions. Could I actually be social, have a good time without drinking? Could I spend a Sunday summer afternoon without getting tanked? The answer is yes. For me, the immediate satisfaction of getting wasted wasn't nearly as satisfying as not having a wicked hangover, eating like shit at 2am, making questionable sexual decisions, and poisoning my body. As a result of pulling back from booze, I am now shaping my body and mind the way I want it. Maybe I’ll eventually I’ll find even playing ground where I’m comfortable having a glass of wine or two. But when/if I do, my intention will be way different. I will consume it mindfully, like everything else that I put in my body.
Remember this isn’t an eating plan. This is a mental philosophy of connecting your body and your mind. Here are a few bullet points to get you thinking about all of this:
- Be Patient. (you will lose 1-2 pounds of real fat per week. Some weeks more, some less…but you will lose it)
- Listen to your body.
- Don’t eat past 8pm or 9pm (or within a few hours of bed time…trust me, you’ll wake up feeling so much better)
- Understand that you CAN do anything you put your mind to
- This will work
- What do you have to lose by trying?! Commit 2-3 months to this program and see how it works.
- Everyday is a choice
- You wake up every day with a blank canvas and can decide what to paint on it
- What decision are you making today to get you where you want to be tomorrow
- Take 1-2 hours on a Sunday to prep for the upcoming week. Do the same thing mid week when you run out of food. (buy tupperware, I recommend glass)
- Life is short, very short…so live as consciously clear as you can
- Brazil Nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia Seed
- Ground Flax Seed
- Quinoa (Excellent source of Protein)
- Instant Oatmeal
Home Made Dressing:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Balsamic Reduction
- Organic, unfiltered, cold pressed Olive Oil
- omega 3 oil
- Maple syrup or Honey
- Lemon juice
- Sweet potatoes
- Red onions
- Mixed greens
- Pumpkin puree
- Garbanzo beans
- Coconut Oil
- baking soda
- baking powder
- Firm Tofu
- Graham crackers
- coconut oil
- Coconut Oil (raw, organic) (don’t refrigerate)
- Mary’s crackers
- Cheese (I like the ones with vegetarian enzymes instead of animal rennet (NOT VEGAN cheese)
- Tupper ware for food transport
- Honey (local, organic, raw) (Also an incredible anti inflammatory/antibacterial and helpful with combating seasonal allergies)
- Hemp Protien
- Spirulina powder or granules
- Parchment Paper
How to Cook different Ingredients:
Veggies: (sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, onion, etc)
- Wash, cut, slice, dice (however you like to eat them)
- Oven at 450 degrees
- lay down a piece of parchment paper in a oven, and coat with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. (make sure to lightly coat all the veggies, sprinkle a few pinches of salt on them)
- Bake for 1 hr or more depending on how soft/crispy you like them (depending on the veggies)
- 2 table spoons of mustard
- 1 teaspoon of balsamic reduction
- add apple cider vinegar (start with 1 teaspoon and continue until you get the consistency you like)
(mix all of the above together
- add oil and omega 3 oil to consistency you like (they should be separated, you’ll see)
- pinch of salt
In a food processor:
- Add 1 can pumpkin puree
- Add 1 can garbanzo beans
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup honey
- .5 cup of chocolate chips (good quality chocolate)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- .5 teaspoon baking soda
- .5 teaspoon salt
- 3 table spoons coconut oil
(Blend all in a food processor except chocolate chips)
- Pre-heat oven 350
- grease oven pan with coconut oil.
- Pour in mixed ingredients into pan, add chocolate chips and hand mix them
- Bake for 1 hour, remove, let cool
- Cut it and serve it. Cover it and leave it out of fridge. Will last a few days.
Sample Day for me:
- A handful of Marys crackers, cut up some cheese cubes, tomatoes, avocado, balsamic reduction and a little sprinkle of olive oil. I do this at least twice a week!
- Quick Oats Oatmeal (1 cup or more if you want, but that should work)
- Add in: Honey, walnuts, cranberries, hemp protein, spirulina, almonds (and whatever else you’d like)
- Big salad
- Add in: all the different nuts, Baked or grilled veggies, quinoa, dressing, avocado
- Big salad
- Add in: the above, plus any additional protein if you want/need
- Only if you’re craving it