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5 Things I Always Do When I Want to Lose Weight

by | Mar 2, 2015

Photo by angeloangelo

I recently returned from an eight day vacation in Dubai. I never thought I would visit the Middle East in my life, so I was determined to make the most of this unique opportunity.

Every meal we had was lavish and indulgent. Every day we drank champagne and cocktails.

And although I logged over 100,000 steps during the week and made great use of the gym at our hotel, there was no denying that my clothes were uncomfortably tight when I got home.

Naturally, I regret nothing. I don’t mind how I look when I’m a few pounds heavier (most people wouldn’t notice), but I wanted to get back to my normal weight because I am more comfortable there. My clothes fit better and I feel more myself.

I’ve written before that I don’t believe in cleanses, detoxes or diets. Instead I rely on my Home Court Habits to get me back into my comfort zone.

But over the years I’ve noticed that there are certain habits I focus on more intently when I’m actively trying to lose weight.

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5 Lessons About Exercise You Can Learn From Your Dog

by | Feb 23, 2015

The same thing happens every day. Whether it’s raining or the sun is shining. Whether we had a late night encounter with raccoons or we’re well-rested. Shortly after lunch every afternoon my dog Toaster wanders into my office and puts his little head on my lap.

It’s time to go to the park.

While it’s clear that Mother Nature plays a roll in his timing (potty time is a an excellent trigger), it doesn’t take more than a glance to realize that there is a deeper motivation under all that fluffy fur.

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Rest for Success: Performance Lessons from Wicked the Musical

by | Feb 18, 2015

wicked-musical-movie1

Sophie Wright is an actor and wellness advocate currently in the Australian tour of Wicked the musical. She writes about how to incorporate wellness, mindfulness and healthy habits for performers and people in any creative industry. She has a new E-book coming out very soon with guided meditations, mindfulness worksheets and healthy recipes.

Rest for Success: Performance Lessons from Wicked the Musical

by Sophie Wright

I wish you could be a fly on the wall backstage of Wicked the Musical. It is manic.

Among the miraculous array of beautiful costumes, set pieces like Glinda’s bubble and the Wizard’s giant face, are a group of 25 sweaty, loud actors, singers and dancers who look like we’ve just done the world’s most intense bootcamp.

We’ve mastered the 30-second changes where we run off stage, change from ball gown to wiz costume, grab a prop and run back on stage to sing a high F in perfect pitch with a gleaming smile on our faces. No biggie…

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Foodist Diaries: Escaping Mom’s Diet Mindset

by | Feb 9, 2015

Photo by musicfanatic29

Over the years I’ve been writing here at Summer Tomato I’ve had hundreds of people share their stories of success with me. Some have lost a hundred pounds, while others have finally gained weight in a healthy way without resorting to junk food and empty calories.

Some people have overcome a life of picky eating, some have learned to cook, and some have raised children who love kale and cauliflower.

Everyone’s journey toward health and happiness looks different, but all are inspiring. This year I want to share more of these stories with you so you can see how different people learn to optimize their healthstyle.

Cassie T grew up much like I did, with a mother who instilled a dieting mindset at a young age. Overcoming the restriction mentality and learning to really listen to her body was one of the pivotal challenges she overcame.

Thanks Cassie for sharing your inspiring story.

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Wisdom Wednesday: Don’t Make a “Lifestyle” Change

by | Feb 4, 2015

Photo by Darnosaur

When I first made the decision to stop dieting and focus on eating for health and happiness, more changed than just my body. As I explored new foods and new habits I met an entirely new group of people.

Instead of talking about calories, carbs and cardio, these people spoke about balance, acceptance and a “healthy lifestyle.”

I hated it.

I agreed with these principles in theory––of course you should balance your nutrition; of course you shouldn’t think worse of yourself because of the shape of your body; of course health is a lifestyle and not a short-term goal––but there were no concrete instructions for actually making change.

It felt like a fluffy echo chamber, all philosophy and no action. Maybe there’d be some laughable tips like “eat everything in moderation” (what does that even mean?) or “get plenty of sleep” (pffffff, I wish).

But I wanted to know how to stop when I’d eaten enough and how to pry my eyes away from my computer screen so I could actually get ready for bed.

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The Best (and most surprising) Way to Quench Cravings

by | Feb 2, 2015

Photo by Aristocrats-hat

You probably know by now that I’m not the biggest fan of willpower. It’s weak. It’s fallible. And it often backfires when we need it most.

If you were dating willpower I’d tell you to dump the jerk immediately. Seriously, you can do better.

The reason I’m so hard on willpower is because the vast majority of the people I talk to still believe it is the solution to their health and weight struggles, and it’s not.

For long-term goals, willpower is far too unreliable to carry you through. Eventually it will break down, and the rebound you experience will be far worse than if you weren’t trying to control your behavior at all.

That said, willpower can be incredibly powerful for short-term goals. When you need to study for an exam or tolerate your family during the holidays, self-control is often your greatest asset.

The most effective foodists must learn when and how to use willpower to your advantage, and when to let it go and fall back on habits.

When it comes to food, one of the best uses for willpower is when you’re experiencing cravings.

Cravings are internal signals that drive you to act against your better judgement. They can come on suddenly and be intensely powerful, driving all else from your mind except the object of desire.

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What it Feels Like to Have Iron Willpower

by | Jan 26, 2015

Photo by Kalexanderson

“I need to get motivated.”

“I need to stop being so lazy.”

“I wish I had her determination.”

“I need to just DO IT.”

I constantly hear people saying these things when they talk about eating better, exercising, or losing weight.

It’s also ingrained in the psyche of our culture. “No pain, no gain.”

Of course, these are all just different ways of saying you wish you had more willpower.

I get it. Willpower is an amazing thing sometimes. And having a strong reserve of it certainly has its advantages.

But there are also serious disadvantages.

I spend a lot of time here on Summer Tomato talking about how willpower doesn’t work for long-term goals. That our brains are built to run on habits, and that self-control should be used sparingly since it takes up so much mental energy.

Whether you agree with this premise or not (apparently this guy doesn’t), today I want to show you that even if you could get healthy through the strength of your iron will, you shouldn’t want to.

I know, because I have really strong willpower. And I used it ruthlessly for 15 years.

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Wisdom Wednesday: You Never Regret a Workout

by | Jan 21, 2015

Photo by Randy Son Of Robert

It’s a common misconception that San Francisco is warm and sunny. It isn’t. At least not usually.

As locals know, Karl the Fog is a year-round resident of the City by the Bay.

Karl’s favorite seasons are summer and winter. During the summer he likes to roll into my hood around 4pm, which is why SF residents always bring a jacket when we leave the house. Always.

In the winter Karl doesn’t restrict his visits to evenings, but pretty much hangs around all day.

Born and raised in SoCal, this took some getting used to. It’s normally pretty easy for me to stick to my habits, but nothing saps my motivation like day after day of gray skies.

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The “I Don’t Feel Like It” Fallacy

by | Jan 19, 2015

bored-kitchen

Sometimes the subtlest thing can derail a habit.

Of all the Home Court Habits I maintain to keep my healthstyle on track, cooking food at home is the most important. When I cook regularly (4-5 days a week) I can eat practically anything I want, maintain my weight and energy, and almost never get sick.

I don’t love to cook, but I don’t mind it. And over the years I’ve developed a system of supporting habits to make sure I do it regularly. It works for me.

Then last week, it stopped working. Despite having attended two dinners at the homes of friends (when I notably didn’t have to cook), when Thursday rolled around I had zero interest in making dinner.

Just the thought of going to the grocery store, picking out one of the same boring meals and going home and putting it together sounded like torture. So I turned on the charm and convinced my husband to join me at a restaurant instead.

I was relieved, but the situation didn’t sit well with me. I had only cooked dinner once this week, the weekend was fast approaching, and I already had plans for the next two nights. Normally I would jump at the opportunity to control what’s on my plate for one additional meal.

Where was my resistance coming from?

The easy thing to do would be to ignore my disinclination to cook this evening or chalk it up to laziness or my general apathy toward the kitchen. But that would be a mistake.

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In the Future Everything is Perfect

by | Jan 12, 2015

Photo by rhett maxwell

This week is so crazy, you guys. Today alone I have a client meeting, a lunch meeting, a 2-hour home repair that took months to get on the calendar, and I’m giving a talk before dinner. That’s on top of my normal writing deadline, dog walks and workout––not to mention eating, showering and looking presentable.

Tomorrow isn’t looking much better. And I’m traveling to five different cities in the next four weeks.

Last year with my wedding, site redesign, and book launch, I didn’t think my life could get any busier or more stressful. Somehow my schedule for this year is already more intense.

We all have things that make our lives crazy. If you aren’t juggling 12 projects and an insane travel schedule, maybe you have a demanding full-time job plus kids to raise, or you’re taking 20 units this semester and working part time to meet your ever-growing tuition bills.

The question is: where does this leave us if we want to start doing something new, like regular exercise or cooking? How will we ever be able to squeeze one more thing onto our to-do list?

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