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Wisdom Wednesday: Moderation is for Suckers

by | Apr 15, 2015
Photo by broterham

Photo by broterham

Moderation might be the most overused word in the entire nutrition universe.

I know, I know. You like the idea of not restricting yourself and being able to eat anything you want so long as it’s not “too much.”

It sounds healthy. Balanced. Sane.

You might have even mistaken some of my willpower bashing here at Summer Tomato as an endorsement of moderation. Something like, “Use a little willpower, but not too much.”

It sounds lovely. If only it actually helped you achieve your goals.

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Do You Secretly Hate Your Workout Classes?

by | Apr 13, 2015
Photo by Nottingham Trent University

Photo by Nottingham Trent University

Recently a good friend told me she was struggling to maintain her workout habit. She could force herself to go to a class every now and then, but it wasn’t enough to keep her in the shape she prefers.

She was relying on willpower to get herself to go and it wasn’t working.

“In order to build any habit it has to be rewarding,” I explained. “You need to love it so much that you’re willing to rearrange your day to make sure you can do it.”

I know this firsthand, because it happens to me all the time. Especially when you have a flexible schedule, something my friend and I have in common.

Every week meetings, calls and opportunities come up that conflict with my workout. But skipping workouts makes me miserable, so unless it’s a life or death situation I reschedule everything else before sacrificing my workout time.

There’s no way that would happen if I didn’t love my workouts.

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For the Love of Food

by | Apr 10, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week feminism and dieting don’t mix, willpower is redeemed, and how to improve your vision.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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Should vs Must: Why Your Best Intentions Fail

by | Apr 6, 2015

Photo by sookie

Last week I read a beautiful essay by artist and my good friend, Elle Luna, describing what she calls The Crossroads of Should and Must. In it she shares the lessons she’s learned after a year of choosing Must instead of Should.

“Should is how others want us to show up in the world — how we’re supposed to think, what we ought to say, what we should or shouldn’t do. ”

“Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self.”

Elle’s experiment took her from a tech startup, to an empty white room, to Bali, and ultimately to her calling: painting. Such a journey inward is never easy, but as was clear from the resounding response to her piece, the conflict between Should and Must is something that we all struggle with.

(Over the past year Elle has turned her essay into a beautifully illustrated book about finding your true calling. The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion is available Wednesday, April 8, 2015, at book stores everywhere.)

At their core, Should and Must represent competing motivations. Should is our responsibility to others and the world at large. Must is our responsibility to ourselves. Sometimes these overlap, but often they do not. That is when we need to make a choice.

As Elle so eloquently explains, in most of our lives choosing Should is the easiest, safest path. But as I thought more about this I realized that the opposite is true for food and health.

When we choose what to put in our bodies, Must is our default.

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For the Love of Food

by | Mar 27, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week Monsanto’s favorite product is linked to cancer, the truth about procrastination, and how to get kids to eat veggies at school.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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How to Be Happy: It Isn’t About the Dopamine

by | Mar 23, 2015

champagne

Last weekend I attended a fabulous party. There was excellent champagne, illustrious guests, spectacular food and beautiful live music. The setting was divine, and the cocktails were SO GOOD.

The only thing missing was water. I’m normally pretty good at staying hydrated, but there wasn’t an obvious water station. So to stay cool and keep my mouth from drying out I kept finding myself at the bar.

At least, that was my excuse.

One of the most notorious effects of alcohol is that it effectively shuts down your frontal lobes, lowering your inhibition and turning your mind over to your more primitive impulses.

It is absolutely insane to believe that the best way to keep cool at a party is to have a cold cocktail. It cools you down for maybe 10 minutes and only worsens your feeling of dehydration.

But the part of my brain that considers my long-term happiness was out of commission. My reward pathway had taken over.

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For the Love of Food

by | Mar 20, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week white wine has more sulfites than red, fonts affect your healthy behavior, and Kraft buys the blessings of dietitians.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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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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For the Love of Food

by | Feb 6, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week the mirror makes you overeat, a huge supplement scandal, and the birth of “science milk”… mmmm.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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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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