Wednesday, March 25, 2009

6 Diet Tips from Dr. Weil

Growing up in a large family with a modest income, we didn't always have a lot of food around. My mother was sort of a health food nut who frequently bought bulk ingredients to make homemade bread and exciting things like Brunswick Stew. Well, let's just say it was not exciting to me at the time. My dad was sort of the opposite. When he would get his paycheck each Friday, he would frequently bring home hot dogs, chips and coke or pizza and soda. Whenever I would go out on work calls with him, he would always let me buy a Snickers bar which became my favorite indulgence. Those were the types of food that equaled celebration in my mind. I would hate the healthy foods we frequently had around and would look forward to each paycheck. Not only that, since I had a lot of competing mouths around me, I would have to eat as much as I could before my brothers and sisters could get their hands on the treats that were left.

As you can imagine, this sort of mindset about food was not very beneficial as I started to care about my health and weight. While I've made a lot of good adjustments to my diet, I still find myself living out this pattern in my life. I will eat well all week long, and then I get bored and want to celebrate. And you can imagine what celebration still means to me. Well, my tastes have broadened beyond hot dogs but it's still fattening foods that tempt me, and lots of it! I have a friend who orders fish or chicken every time we go out, while I just can't help but order the lasagna or the steak frites. I'm paying good money for this food and I want to enjoy it. Pour me another glass of wine please!

So how do I reconcile the conflicting desires to maintain a healthy body and my warped view of fattening food as a means of celebration? In Dr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating Well, Dr. Weil says "it's important to maintain the pleasurable aspect of eating. If you eat in a way that deprives you of pleasure, it will inevitably end in failure." But for him, there is no opposition between healthy food and food that gives you pleasure. The myth that eating in a healthy manner means giving up the food that you like- that's absolutely not true! He claims there are some common misconceptions in what we've been taught about carbs and low fat diets. Below are a couple of tips that I found interesting:

  • The majority of our calories SHOULD come from carbs. We've been in an anti-carb era... this is wrong, but there are better and worse carbs.

  • In general try to eat carbs that are lower on the Glycemic Load Scale. Whole wheat bread is not a whole grain food. When you pulverize the starch of a grain, you get huge surface area, which rapidly converts to blood sugar and can lead to insulin resistance and other health problems.

  • Fats are misunderstood -- good fats are the mono-unsaturated fats: olive, nut, avocado. Extra-virgin olive oil should be your main cooking oil, particularly good quality, since the phenols it includes are protective. Canola oil is also good. Avoid saturated and polyunsaturated oils, which promote inflammation and cancer.

  • You should also focus on sources of Omega 3's: oily fish; fortified eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, and hemp seeds, or take a supplement.

  • The problem with low fat diets is that fat is a main source of flavor. Without adequate fat, food becomes uninteresting.

  • We need less protein than people think. People eat protein in excess and it overburdens our liver and kidneys. Eat more vegetable protein than animal protein because animal protein often has other things in it like concentrated environmental toxins.

Download his video for more great tips on eating well without sacrificing pleasure. Now if I could only learn some portion control!

Do you have any nutritional tips you would like to share with us? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Seeking Fulfillment

So the last few weeks I’ve been talking about ways to better organize your life. I’ve been obsessed with this in my own life because I’ve felt overwhelmed with the list of things I needed to do to get to this undefined place where I would finally feel fulfilled. I wasn’t aware that this was my ultimate goal… I thought I bought into the idea that life is about goal achievement and once you accomplish one goal, you just set another one and so on and so forth. So when I first started feeling anxiety about my list, I thought I just wasn’t going about it in the right way. I thought maybe I just wasn’t committed enough. If I could learn the secrets of other successful people, perhaps I could master the focus to accomplish all of my goals and become just as successful. And I did learn some great new techniques and these techniques did help. David Allen’s central theme in particular was a kind of breakthrough in my goal setting.

But there was still something missing. I couldn’t define it. This anxiety, this weight kept tugging at my heart. What was it all for? What were these goals driving me toward? I thought I would be happy with each goal accomplished just for the sake of accomplishing something. But what happened instead was this momentary high followed by deep anxiety about needing to set my next goal. Was this really what I wanted from life? I wasn’t really happy. Actually, I was sort of miserable.

Then I started to listen to Eckhart Tolle’s Bringing Stillness into Everyday Life and I had an “Aha” moment. Now, I’ve read and listened to a lot of advice about mindfulness and living in the present moment. But Eckhart Tolle’s teachings take this concept to a whole new level. He talks about many things in this program, but I wanted to highlight just a couple of his thoughts. He says people are always trying to get to this future moment that will somehow make their lives better. We call this progress. But actions that arise out of suffering or anger will just bring about more suffering and anger. This is why the world at large is suffering. Most people are lost in the content of life and if you are lost in the content of life you will never be fulfilled because it is a bottomless pit… always wanting more content. His program really made me stop and think about my life and goals in a profound way. There is a lot to examine here and a lot to write about. I will certainly return to this topic in a future post.

Do you have a good “Aha” moment you would like to share with us? Please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring Cleaning Time

It’s that time again. Springtime is just around the corner! I’ve been sort of obsessed with becoming more productive and organized lately. Sometimes you just need to remove the clutter in your life to make room for new and better things. I personally like to start my spring cleaning a little early, because as soon as it gets nice outside, the last thing I want is to be cooped up inside.

I just got through listening to Marla Dee’s Get Organized the Clear & Simple Way to see if I could get some good organizing tips before I started the process. I’m glad that I did, because she has some really great ideas. I’ll share with you some of the tips that I found useful. Of course, she goes into much more detail in her programs. This product has 9 programs, each over 1 hour long!

Her process includes 3 steps:

See it: Start with taking in your current surroundings. What’s working? What’s not working? Where are you stuck and why? What do you most need to accomplish? Create a vision of where you would like to be in the future. What do you need from a particular space?

Map it: Create this vision in its physical form. Where you are going and how you want to get there. This can be a list, chart, vision, mind map, pictures. This is your roadmap.

Do it: Take the action and create the results.

She also has a system called "S.T.A.C.K.S." It’s basically putting everything into piles without deciding where they go. It’s like categorizing everything. But the best tip is that as you are putting your stacks together, you put them each in a different banker’s box. This way, when you lose steam, you can put the boxes neatly away until you can deal with them another day. I really liked this idea,because I usually get over-ambitious and lose steam after the piles are created. Then I try to rush through the last part and usually end up cramming things places or not even finishing the project.

Do you have any good organizing tips? Please share with us by leaving a comment below.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Getting Things Done

My to-do list has been getting a little overwhelming these days both at home and at work. When I first began keeping it, it felt really empowering to be committed to an organized list. Before, I kept everything in my head and on notes scattered around home and at my desk. You can imagine how that system worked! But after a few weeks of dutifully keeping my list, I started to feel a little paralyzed on some of my projects, and soon I started to rebel against my list completely. Looking at the list was giving me anxiety and making me feel guilt and grumpy. I was starting to ignore the list completely and revert back to my old way of doing things – even though it didn’t work, at least it was familiar.

Then, David Allen came into my life. Sometimes things just sync up at just the right moment! David Allen is a NY Times bestselling author and creator of The Getting Things Done System. The tag line to this system is “whether you are a CEO, a student, or a stay-at-home worker, we’ll give you the keys to focus your energies without letting things fall through the cracks. We’ll show you how to create environments and best practices for work and home to avoid burn out and keep you relaxed, focused and productive” Sold! Sign me up.

I decided to just dive in and download the GTD full 2 day seminar. The seminar is an investment, but it is a fraction of the price of attending David Allen’s conference in person, and contains over 9 hours of really good material. The goal of the program is to master the flow of priorities into a manageable system so that your mind is emptied and ready for the present task. He claims your subconscious is usually on an endless loop about all of the things that are unresolved in your life. So this causes a lot of unneeded anxiety and keeps you from truly being focused on the present moment. Rings true for my life!

His system is much more advanced than creating simple to do-lists. He actually doesn’t believe these lists work because people tend to ignore them. Spot on!

One of the things he talks about in this seminar is mastering your workflow into five phases:

1. Collect all of the stuff you potentially have to pay attention to

2. Process: focus your mind on these things and determine they mean to you

3. Organize the results of that thinking into coherent systems that make sense

4. Review and keep current

Then: use this process to move ourselves into trust in terms of our judgments about what we do, and finally:

5. Do

Do you have your own process for getting things done? We want to know what is working for you! Please leave a comment below.