A thought experiment

Here’s a thought experiment: 

You walk into your kitchen and there’s ugly, black, billowing smoke filling the room. The smoke alarm screeching so loud you can barely think. Do you:

(a) Yell at your smoke detector and tear it off the wall.
(b) Open the window so smoke can escape, then go back to watching Netflix in your living room.
(c) Drive to the store and buy an elaborate smoke removal hood for your stove. That way you can get rid of smoke more quickly next time.

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 Ha ha, good joke, Katie, you might be thinking.

While billowing smoke and a loud smoke detector are annoying, it’s clear to most of us that they are just symptoms. 

The real danger is the fire.

So there’s no reason to yell or be angry at the smoke alarm. In fact, it sounds almost ridiculous. Why would anyone be mad at the smoke alarm?

The smoke alarm is loud. It hurts your ears. It stops you from enjoying your day. It causes all kinds of problems, except thank freaking goodness for that smoke alarm.

Can you see where I’m going here?

If you’re someone who is frustrated with their eating — who feels like they frequently eat more than they intend to, who sometimes feels in a trance or out of control around food — it’s very, very easy to feel upset with your eating.

But getting upset with your eating is like yelling at a smoke alarm.

Thank freaking goodness for that smoke alarm.

….

Of course, in this thought experiment, it’s easy to understand what “the fire” is. It may be much harder to see, understand, and address the “fire” in your own life. You might be thinking: Is my eating really a symptom of something else? If so, what?

I totally understand you concerns. Let me address them:

  1. Yes. Based on my experience in my own life and with many people I’ve worked with, I strongly believe that your eating, if it feels out-of-control or like it’s not serving you, is inextricably linked to other parts of your life.

  2. It’s not always obvious what the relationship between your eating and the rest of your life is. In fact, there’s a good chance that the relationship is complex and nuanced. It might be related to things that you don’t know how to look for.

  3. That’s where support can be useful. We all have blind spots. It’s sometimes hard to see ourselves clearly.

Support can take many forms, and I’ve mentioned a lot of options — including many free things you can try — on this blog over the past few years (here is the complete archives!).

But since it’s that special time of year…may I suggest joining a Dessert Club?

Dessert Clubs are 8-week, small-group classes in how to have a happier, less-“smoke-y” relationship with food and your body. We do challenging and deep work together to figure out how to actually change. There are 9 people or less, and it feels like gathering with the most caring, supportive group of people who truly get what you’re going through.

Here’s what one past participant said about her experience in the Dessert Club:

“Before joining the Dessert Club, I felt like they would never be a time when I didn't have an issue with food. I was in a hopeless cycle of restriction and bingeing. And I felt anxious about any attempts to solve the issue as I was nervous I would put on weight.

“The love and kindness I received from the other women involved in the group [was the best part]. Although we were all at different stages and our problems unique, we could all offer each other support and the feeling that we were not alone

“[To other people who are struggling], I'd say relax. It's okay to get help. Stop carrying the burden alone. You can work through things at your own pace, you don't have to do anything you're uncomfortable with and you may just change your life for the better. For me the Dessert Club will be the best decision I've made to help me grow as a person and enjoy life to the fullest. I would recommend it to anyone who feels they struggle with their eating, however great or small they feel their issues are.”

— Anita

Dessert Clubs start up in early March, and I only offer them twice a year. If you’d like to learn more or grab a spot, you can do so here.

And, as always, I’m sending you strength and support for the week ahead. You’ve got this.

 

 

p.s. Of course, this thought experiment doesn’t just apply to our relationship with food. I also think it is particularly relevant to how many of us relate to technology, and you could apply it to many more situations where you seem to be acting in a way that doesn’t serve you. How could that “thing” be smoke?

p.p.s. Here are the dates for the upcoming Dessert Clubs!

Tuesdays, starting March 5, 2019
5 pm PST/8 pm EST
LEARN MORE

Wednesdays, starting March 6, 2019
7 pm PST/10 pm EST
LEARN MORE 

 

Why most food-related New Year’s Resolutions don’t stick. (Or: Your problem isn’t an information problem)

It’s January 6 — a time when many of us are thinking about our eating and our bodies. Maybe you’re a New Year’s Resolution person, or maybe you’re just filled to the brim with sugar after the holidays.

Either way, you’ve started to wonder: Should I eat differently?  

And if you’re asking that question, the world has a lot of suggested answers about “what” you should do: Cut out dairy! Or gluten! Or sugar! Or carbs! Or at least cut down on them!

Almost all of these suggestions are based on what I call a “what”-based model of eating.

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According to a “what”-based model of eating, if you’re unhappy with your eating or not feeling good in your body, you should change the “what” :

  • “What” foods or macronutrients you eat: Stop eating fat! Or carbs! Or meat! Or processed foods!

  • “What” quantity you eat:  Count your calories! Or Points!

  • “What” time you eat: Don’t eat in the morning so you can fast intermittently! Don’t eat after 7 pm!

You’ve probably come across hundreds of “what” based models of eating. Nearly every diet sold on Amazon, embraced by Dr. Oz, or obsessively discussed by your co-worker is one. If you feel dissatisfied with your eating, or your body, a “what”-based approach to eating is usually what’s recommended.

There’s nothing wrong with tweaking the “what” of your eating, if it contributes to your overall happiness and wellness.

However, I have found that a “what” based model of eating is usually radically insufficient.

Radically insufficient.

A “what”-based model of eating, alone, is usually only sufficient if your problem is an information problem — as in, you don’t know what foods or quantities of foods are right for you.

It’s true that, given all of the trends in the diet and health industry, it’s easy to “pretend” like we all have information problems. “Didn’t you know, meat is bad for you!” is followed, a few years or month later, by “Didn’t you know, you’re supposed to eat only meat and vegetables now, and no carbs?” It can be genuinely hard to keep up with that information.

However, most of us know what a reasonably healthy diet looks like, irrespective of what macronutrient is currently being vilified. We know what portions of food, and what foods, make us feel good in our bodies. Sure, it might not be the “perfect”, trendy healthy diet, but it’s probably good enough to be a reasonably happy and healthy person.

In fact, I bet that most people reading this essay are actually somewhat knowledgeable about nutrition. You’ve read some articles or books, you’ve thought about it.

The problem isn’t that you don’t “know” what a reasonably healthy diet. The problem is that despite knowing what would make your body feel good, and despite wanting to eat in a way that makes your body feel good, you frequently find yourself not doing it.

A “what” based-model of eating is useless, in the long term, against that kind of problem. (It might work for a short time when you follow the strict guidelines. But eventually, inevitably, it will break down).

The only solution to that kind of problem is a “why”-based model of eating.

Following a “why”-based model of eating requires a curious, rigorous exploration of “why” you eat the way you do:

Why do you stuff an entire chocolate bar into your mouth on the drive home from the grocery store?
Why do you feel like reaching for the chips once everyone in your house goes to bed?
Why do you eat “too much” when you are at work or at a family event?
 

It’s easy to dismiss these questions. Yeah, sure, sometimes I feel emotional and I eat some things. But I already knew that!

But it’s way more complex than that. There are an astonishingly large, nuanced number of factors that are influencing you every single time you eat. I guarantee it. Because every single person I’ve ever worked with had an astonishingly large, complex, nuanced number of factors that influenced their eating.

And the key here is that you probably aren’t aware of many of these factors. Yes, even if you are a smart, thoughtful, emotionally-intelligent person — which, if you’re reading this post, I bet you are!

I can say that with confidence because every single person who has ever done the Dessert Club has discovered new factors that influenced their eating that they weren’t aware of. And Dessert Club participants are generally some of the most lovely, smart, thoughtful, and emotionally-intelligent people around! (Seriously, they are the best people.)

This shift, from the “what”-based model of eating promoted by society, to a “why”-based model of eating, is at the core of the Dessert Club curriculum. If it intrigues you, I’d encourage you to learn more about the Dessert Club and consider joining us — the next round is currently open for enrollment and I only run these groups twice a year.

If you’d like to learn more about who would be a good fit for the group, or reading stories from past participants, click here.

Too many of us struggle with this.

For too many of us, our eating sometimes feels frustrating or embarrassing.

Does this describe you? :

You’re a smart, capable, pretty-much-together person. Even if it’s not perfect, you’re generally happy with your career or your schoolwork or your relationships or friendships or parenting.

And then there’s your eating.

Your eating is this weird, complicated thing that sometimes feels…well, out-of-control.

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Sometimes, when you’re alone in the house, or after everyone else goes to bed, you stand next to your kitchen cabinet and eat chips out of the bag, and it’s almost like your brain goes blank, because then you eat way more than you intended to. You also really, really hopes no one walks in on you right now. 

Sometimes you eat three donuts from the break room at work while you’re finishing up a presentation. Even though you don’t even like donuts that much and you weren’t hungry and you promised yourself you wouldn’t do this.

It’s not like you don’t know how you “should” eat. You do! You know what’s healthy and what’s not, pretty much. You know what a “reasonable” quantity of chips or cookies or ice cream would be. You know what a healthy dinner or lunch or breakfast would be, too! And you do eat that way, a fair amount of the time.

And then there are those other times. When you don’t eat in a way that makes you feel good, and you don’t even know why.

I want to be really clear ­— I’m not saying that the problem with this type eating is that it’s “unhealthy” or anyone who eats in this way is a bad person.

The problem is this:

You know that you’re eating in a way that doesn’t serve you, and you can’t seem to stop doing it.

The tragedy of all of this is that we are often genuinely hurting ourselves. Sometimes physically — we may make ourselves feel bloated or sick. But certainly emotionally, too — we might feel anxious or guilty, or worry about our eating all the time. Many of us will go on diets or eat less to try to “make up for” our indulgences, and it can sometimes feel like it takes an insane amount of brainpower and effort and energy to deal with our eating and our weight.

If that feels like you — if you are exhausted and annoyed and tired with all of the ups and downs of your relationship with food — I want you to know this:

 

1. It’s not just you.

It’s not just you. It’s really not. This kind of eating is sadly common, across genders and age groups — though I find that it is particularly common with women, because society’s strict messages about body size can set off a chain reaction that eventually results in many of us having unhappy relationships with food.

Even though most people don’t talk about it, many people feel alternately exhausted (with all the effort it takes to “manage” frustrated eating) and annoyed (because they, inevitably, over-eat, and want to kick themselves).

 

2. You don’t have to feel this way forever.

You really, really don’t. It is possible to have a relationship with food where you consistently eat in a way supports your overall well-being — so yes, sometimes that means healthy or nourishing foods, but at other times that means foods that give you pleasure or enjoyment, and in a quantity that also makes your body feel good.

But in order to stop, you have to understand why you do this.

In the past, when I would overeat and sometimes feel out-of-control, I would feel so guilty and promise myself that I wouldn’t do it again. But of course I did do it again, because just resolving to “not do it again,” doesn’t do anything to address the deeper, underlying reasons why I did it in the first place.

Actually healing your relationship with food requires a deep examination of why you eat the way you do. It also requires taking action — to interact with food differently from the “just stop overeating!” way we’re used to doing it.

That is the core work of the Desert Club — small group classes that I’ve been running for three and a half years now (!!), and which start up again in about two months.

 

In the lead-up to the Dessert Club, I’m going to be writing more essays about about eating, the deeper meaning behind why we over-eat or sometimes feel out-of-control around food, and what you can do about it. If you’d like to read them, you might consider signing up for my newsletter.

And, of course, if you really want to do something about it, I’d urge you to consider joining a Dessert Club. I only offer these groups twice a year! Here’s what one past participant said:

"I used to wake up and plan each meal that I would eat, how many calories I could eat, the times I was allowed to eat, etc. Of course, I used to break these rules all the time because I would feel hungry and then feel angry with myself. 

But ever since I learned about intuitive eating from you I've stopped overeating and the stomachaches have stopped! I feel so happy every day waking up knowing that I can eat whenever and whatever I want as long as I'm hungry and I stop when I'm full. No gimmicks, dieting, restrictions, guilt -- it's wonderful to feel free. 

Thank you, thank you SO much, Katie, for leading such wonderful sessions! You truly changed my life and helped me out of a cycle I thought I'd be stuck in forever. I'll certainly recommend the Dessert Club to anyone I know who is struggling with food. Thank you! "

 

But whether you join the Dessert Club or not, I hope it will be a valuable series of essays for you. You’ll be in my thoughts, and as always, I’m sending strength + support for the week ahead. You’ve got this.

The only holiday advice I follow.

We’re in the thick of the holiday season, so I wanted to share with you the one piece of holiday advice that I live by:

Stay sensitive.

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For most of us, the holidays can trigger a lot of thoughts and feelings. We might show up to a party and think:

Oh my god I am so overwhelmed by seeing all of these cookies! I want to eat them all!

or

Oh my god what if my aunt/dad/second cousin asks me about my job/romantic prospects/recent weight gain? 

or

Oh my god what if my aunt/dad/second cousin looks at me askance and I can tell that they are THINKING judgmentally about my job/romantic prospects/recent weight gain?

 

All those thoughts and feelings can feel like too much. We can’t be expected to have big feelings and also make nice conversation over the eggnog table or the latke buffet, right? We may be tempted to push these feelings down.

But don’t. Please.

When we push down these sensitivities, we also push down our connection to our inner selves. You know, the kind of connection that would let you know if you were hungry or full. The kind of connection that would tell you if you actually wanted a sugar cookie or if you wanted to be home in your pajamas watching Girls instead.

And when we combine:

(a) a bunch of feelings and thoughts that we don’t usually feel/think,
(b) a loss of connection to our inner guidance about hunger, fullness, and what kind of nourishment our body is actually needing, and
(c) a tendency to eat when we feel stuff (hey, it happens to the best of us)

…the end result is that we might not take the best care of ourselves.

The only solution that I know is to stay sensitive. Yes, you may have to feel a little more than is comfortable, but you’ll also take far better care of yourself. And you may even find yourself connecting more deeply with others, because you are showing up more authentically.

Of course, staying sensitive isn’t always easy. Here are some things that help me:

  • Journaling before, after, or heck, during social events (I have been known to journal in the bathroom, on the Notes app on my phone).

  • Having an inner dialogue with yourself about how you are actually feeling, even when you are out at social events. My belly feels tight and I have zinging in my chest and I feel impatient. Interesting. I’ll check back in again later.

  • Setting boundaries, like, I know it might hurt ___’s feelings, but I’m only going to stay at the holiday party for an hour, because if I stay longer, I will explode with feelings or have to shut them down by eating/numbing out. Setting boundaries means that it feels safe to be sensitive, because you know that life won’t completely overwhelm you.

 

And above all, please know that I’m rooting for you, with all of this.

 

Oh, and p.s.: There's a teensy, tiny — okay 100% likely — chance I also shared this advice last year. But I wanted to send something supportive for this unique, sometimes stressful time of year, and this was what was in my heart. I hope it resonates this year, too :) 

A post-Thanksgiving (or anytime) reminder

It was Thanksgiving in America this week, and I was thinking about you. How was your holiday?

Thanksgiving can be challenging for some of us. There’s so much time hanging out, with food around! So many times that we have to summarize who we are and what we are doing with our lives!

And if you don’t have family or friends to spend Thanksgiving with, that can bring up its own challenges.

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Sometimes, in the aftermath of all of that, I feel less grounded in myself. I find myself wondering if I should change my weight or my hair. Wondering if I need to write a book or become a doctor, in order to feel more unequivocally proud of myself when I talk to other people.

So I wanted to send you a reminder this week: You are enough.

And this: It’s tiring to try to become someone that you’re not. It’s freaking exhausting.

And especially this: Other people need your authentic self. Really.

(Of course, this also applies to the cookies-and-cocktail-party season we’re about to enter — also known as December).

 

Take care, my dear friends,
Katie

They're here!!

It’s my honor to inform you that the next round of Dessert Clubs are officially open for enrollment. They’re not until 2019, so you have some time to think about it.

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Does any of this sound familiar?

You pretty much "have it together" in your life, but you're frustrated with your eating.

Really frustrated.

You've been on diets and read articles and books about superfoods and fitness. Some things have worked, for a while. But eventually the Paleo or Weight Watchers or counting every single freaking calorie stopped working or started making you crazy.

And worst of all were the overeating "episodes" -- those times when you stood next to the refrigerator and ate weird bites of tortilla chips and stale cookies and last night's leftovers. Even though you knew that you shouldn't.

Ever felt like you could never let your guard down around food? 

That’s where the Dessert Club comes in.

The Dessert Club is a small group class that explores  why you feel out-of-control or frustrated around food, and what you can do about it. 

It takes place online over video conference, so you can join from anywhere in the world. And honestly, if feels like a bunch of really cool, warm people, all gathered around a table, being honest and vulnerable and funny. 

You’ll hear more about the Dessert Club from me in the New Year, but for now, I wanted to share something from a recent Dessert Club participant:

“If food is enough of an issue for you that you are considering joining the Dessert Club, definitely do it! There is so much to gain. 

”I wasn't sure about joining because I have probably read every single book about dealing with food issues and have done extensive individual therapy as well. But the feeling of warmth and support that you get from a wonderful group of people who struggle with the same issues is just incomparable. And Katie’s presence is like that of a wise wonderful friend who always knows exactly what to say.”

— Gabi, New York (thanks, Gabi!) 


Curious about joining a Dessert Club group? You can find more information here.

Yes, yes, yes.

I seem to want to share this little story with everyone I meet lately:

“Rabbi Zusya, when he was an old man, said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’

“They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”

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So let us all be reminded: In the final reckoning, it will not matter whether you were Moses or whoever you compare yourself to. In the final reckoning, what will matter is whether you were yourself.

"Why were you not Zusya?"

(This lovely story is in Parker J. Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak, a book that is dear to me.)

On going slowly

Here’s a Sunday reminder:

Go slow to go fast.

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When we go too fast, we sometimes end up going in the wrong direction, or doing work that needs to be redone later. And we miss the subtle learnings and course corrections that are possible at a slower pace. 

Sometimes going very slowly is actually the fastest path.

(This is something that an executive coach told me during my management consulting days. I remind myself of it not-infrequently. Go slow to go fast, Katie. Go slow to go fast.)

Let's talk about technology.

It was 8 pm. I’d just gotten home from a walk, and planned to shower and make dinner. But first, I reached for my phone.

What if you didn’t?

It was a small, kind voice inside of me that asked the question. It wasn’t mean or accusatory. But I also knew it was on to something.

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Lately, I’d started to wonder if used technology too much. Previously, I had always thought of myself as a “slightly below average” technology user — I don’t follow that many people on social media, I don’t text that much, I don’t get that many emails. And yet, I found myself checking my phone or my laptop:

  • When I’ve just gotten home, but was still in my car — before walking into the house.
  • Right after arriving in my home, before doing anything else. I’d set down my bags, and check my email or my phone.
  • When I entered my office, before starting work.
  • In the middle of working.
  • In the morning, right when I woke up.
  • Right before bed.

Of course, there were other times I used the internet, too. A big part of my work is on the internet — it’s how I meet with clients who don’t live nearby, and it’s how I’m sending this letter to you. But that didn’t particularly concern me.

There was something about that first type of internet usage that did feel important to look at, because it seemed like they fell into two categories:

  1. Transitional moments. I’ve talked about transitional moments in the context of eating before, but transitions are often times when we have more feelings than we realize.

    Say that we’re just gotten home from work or seeing friends. We may carry within us some tiredness or even pent up excitement from that past activity. Plus, traveling even short distances can be subtly draining, and then we are trying to focus on doing all the things we need to do when we get home.

    The point here is not that transitions are the most tiring things in the world. Rather, it’s that we are often more tired or overwhelmed than we realize in these moments. 
     
  2. Blow-off-steam moments. You know that feeling when you’ve been working for a couple of hours (or even just 20 minutes), and suddenly checking social media or your email or that blog you like sounds like a good idea? Or suddenly grabbing a snack sounds like a good idea? If we look deeper in these moments, we pretty quickly find something like I’m tired of working and I want to less stress and more pleasure. So we use technology. Or food. Or something else.

 

It’s not that technology can’t be helpful to deal with the subtle tiredness of transitioning, or with blowing off steam. But it seemed like I was spending a lot of my day on technology — sometimes I would suddenly realize I’d been on Instagram for a half hour, for example, even though I just meant to do a “quick check.”

I also felt I had more trouble concentrating than I did when I was in high school. Back then, I didn’t have a smartphone and the computer in my bedroom could only do two things: word processing and solitaire.  I felt like my life wasn’t that busy now, but I was getting less done than I’d like, and I felt easily distracted.

I started to wonder if technology was actually the best way to deal with these transitions or blowing off steam.

...

So in that curious moment, when I was hungry and sweaty and really wanted to “just quickly” check Instagram on my phone…I didn’t.

I lay on my bed instead.

I lay on my bed and did nothing. Just lay there. I noticed what it felt like, to have not picked up my phone. It felt pretty intense in my body at first, like I might jump out of my skin. Then it died down quite a lot.

As I lay there, I realized that I had been feeling subtly overwhelmed. My early evening had been busy, and somehow the act of going straight into a shower and making dinner had seemed like slightly too much to do. No wonder I wanted to blow off some steam in that transition.

As I continued to lie there, I noticed other things. I paid attention to the ebbing and flowing of body sensations. I reflected on some things that had been making me feel insecure lately, and found some peace about them. I even had a couple of ideas about articles to write — which was surprising because I’d been low on writing ideas lately.

When I finally got up, I felt calmer and more grounded in my body. It wasn’t like everything was fixed — I still felt tired from the day, for example — but I was able to notice those feelings while also moving onto what needed to be done.

That night was a few weeks ago.  Since then, I’ve been trying to not use technology, at least sometimes, when I can tell that I’m using it for a transition or to blow off steam.

It doesn’t always feel great at first, to be honest. That jumping-out-of-my-skin feeling is usually there. So sometimes I’ll lie on my bed or even on the floor and just notice my thoughts and feelings and body sensations. I’ll let them be a little more intense for a few moments, and then let them ebb away.

I’m just making small experiments so far, but they’ve been useful. Last night, when I was about to browse the internet after dinner, I stayed off screens and read for three hours instead. I was surprised at how refreshed I felt, how much my stress level seemed to lower.  

So that’s my offering for you this week: Is there something that you worry isn’t serving you? Can you experiment with, just once, not doing it? Intense feelings and body sensations might come up, at first. Can you sit with them, at least for a little while?

I’d love to know how it goes.

Why did that conversation escalate?

Why do seemingly simple conversations sometimes escalate?

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I’ve been reading Difficult Conversations recently, and the authors point out something that stopped me in my tracks:

In fact, anytime a conversation feels difficult, it is in part precisely because it is about You, with a capital Y.  Something beyond the apparent substance of the conversation is at stake for you.

It may be something simple. What does it say about you when you talk to your neighbors about their dog [who barks loudly]? It may be that growing up in a small town gave you a strong self-image as a friendly person and a good neighbor, so you are uncomfortable with the possibility that your neighbors might see you as aggressive or a troublemaker.

Asking for a raise? What if you get turned down? In fact, what if your boss gives you good reasons for turning you down? What will that do to your self-image as a competent and respected employee? Ostensibly the subject is money, but what’s really making you sweat is that your self-image is on the line.

(page 16, emphasis mine)

They call these kinds of conversations “Identity Conversations,” and argue that nearly anytime a conversation feels more challenging than it “should” be, it’s because someone’s identity is at play.

Having a simple conversation with your partner about chores but suddenly things get more heated? One of you may feel like some essential quality about yourself — whether you’re a good person, a generous person, a smart person, a conscientious person — is being questioned.

Simply noticing that you’re in an Identity Conversation is a powerful first step.

That way you can discuss the real issue. Perhaps your partner will reassure you that she wasn’t at all trying to say you’re not a hard worker, and you can go back to talking about taxes. Or, if she actually was trying to imply that you don’t work hard enough, then at least you can talk about that directly. 

The Binge-Restrict Death Spiral

Ah, the binge-restrict death spiral.

You know, that thing where you eat a little too much at your afternoon coffee break, so then you try to eat a little less at dinner.

And then because you feel a little deprived at dinner, you end up eating too much… a day or a week or a month later.

Then, of course, you need to “cut back” or “eat more reasonably” or “go to Weight Watchers.”

And on and on and on.

Some of us have been stuck in this cycle for years or even decades. Even when we think we’re out…we discover we’re still in it.

I made you a video this week in which I talk more about this exhausting, painful, frustrating cycle, and the truth about how you can get out of it.


***And pssst!*** If you’d like some help escaping this terrible cycle, you might consider joining a Dessert Club — two start this Tuesday, and won't open be offered again until 2019. 

Tuesdays at 5 pm PST/8 pm EST — SOLD OUT.

Tuesdays at 11 am PST/2 pm EST/7 pm BST — some spots left! Learn more.

And as always, I’m sending you strength + support for the week ahead. You’ve got this.
Katie

 

p.s. This is the last time I’ll be offering the Dessert Club in 2018, so if you’d like work towards freedom from the binge-restrict death spiral in a friendly group environment, I hope you’ll join us! Here’s more information on the group that still has open spots.

On transformation.

I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath recently, and he makes an interesting argument: some things that we assume are disadvantages end up being just the opposite.

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Here are two examples:

  • Dyslexia. Dyslexia makes reading extremely difficult and can lead to low self-esteem or depression because school becomes so challenging. And yet, as many as a third of extremely successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic. This group includes billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, brokerage firm founder Charles Schwab, and JetBlue founder David Neeleman, according to a study by Julie Logan at City University London.
     
  • Losing a parent as a child. Again, losing a parent as a child is a traumatic experience with far-reaching consequences. And yet, twelve of the first forty-four US presidents lost their fathers when they were young — that’s more than 25%! A study of British Prime Ministers found that 67% of Prime Ministers between the beginning of the 19th century and the start of WWII had lost at least one parent before the age of sixteen – more than twice the rate of parental loss of the general upper class population that these men came from.

Gladwell’s argument isn’t that anyone would wish for these traits. On the contrary, they make life much harder and many people don’t “rise above them.”

And yet, he argues that sometimes these things that we are stuck with turn out to be an astonishing source of strength. The successful entrepreneurs who battled dyslexia learned how to be determined and get comfortable with failure, which helped them to take risks and work hard. Losing a parent as a child showed others that they could survive terrible loss, which made them more courageous and mentally strong.

Can you tell where I’m going with this?

Look, I don’t want to oversimplify Gladwell’s argument. It’s too easy to say, “you should make every source of pain a learning experience!” Sometimes pain and obstacles are just too great.

But, if you’ll let me, I’d like us to be curious together. Is it possible that you have something in your life that is really painful or frustrating or hard…and that the process of learning to battle challenge or obstacle could teach you some of the most important lessons of your life?

I know that’s true for me.  

Consider my relationship with food. It was a huge source of pain. So much suffering and frustration went into worrying about what I was going to eat or what I did eat. I didn't feel in control and sometimes I felt downright crazy.

And yet, the process of figuring out how to stop suffering so much…it changed everything.

Not “everything” as in “everything about how I ate” — though it certainly did that.
I mean “everything” as in “everything about how I lived.”

I often describe my before and after as the difference between living my life in black-and-white, and living my life in color. The skills that allowed me to figure out my relationship with food also completely changed how I made decisions and how I related to and communicated with other people. It radically increased the depth of my knowledge about myself, and made me more compassionate, more spiritual, more authentic, and more sensitive (more on that here). It taught me how to sit in the middle of fear and uncertainty in a way that I hadn’t before.

The point is: I wouldn’t wish an unhappy relationship with food or body image on anyone. But also, the process of battling this painful challenge was, hands down, one of the most useful and transformational experiences of my life.

Of course, the juicy question is: how do we go from suffering to allowing that suffering to teach us what we need to know about life?

That’s too great a question to be answered now, but there are many ways. You can certainly do a lot of this work on your own, or by working with a coach or therapist.

But, if you are also someone who struggles with food or body image, one powerful option is to join a Dessert Club.

Dessert Clubs are 8-week, small-group classes focused on untangling the “why” and “what can we do about it” behind our eating. We meet in a cozy video-conference, so it feels like being in the same room even though we may be across countries or continents. Together, we ask hard questions, laugh and occasionally cry, and take action.

I won’t be offering another round of Dessert Clubs until 2019, so if this is a type of support you’d like, this could be a good time to join. Here’s some information on the two that start in July:

Tuesdays, starting July 10
11 am PST/2 pm EST/7 pm BST 
*Europe-friendly!*
LEARN MORE

Tuesdays, starting July 10
5 pm PST/8 pm EST
LEARN MORE

As always, I’m wishing you strength + support for the week ahead. You’ve got this.

...

p.s. If you’d like to read them, the studies I cite here are on pages 106 (dyslexia) and 141-142 (losing a parent in childhood) of the paperback edition of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. 

"Why doesn't my partner tell me what I want to hear?"

Recently, I was telling my husband about some feelings and fears I had about a problem in my life. I knew he wanted to comfort me and I knew that I wanted to be comforted by him, but somehow we were having trouble. It just seemed like my feelings were getting more intense and confusing.

Suddenly, in the middle of the angst, I realized: I know what I want him to say. I know what would make me feel better.

So I told him.
And he perked up, too.

“I didn’t realize you wanted me to say that!” he told me, relief in his voice. “I thought you wanted something else, something that I couldn’t truthfully tell you!”

So then he told me that thing.
And I felt better.

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Of course, it doesn’t always work out so perfectly. Sometimes the other person can’t tell you what you want to hear.

But this moment reminded me that, at least sometimes, they can.
They can tell you what you want to hear, and the only thing holding them back is that they didn’t know you wanted to hear it.

This is where it can get a bit tricky, though. Because if even you don’t know what you want to hear, you can’t expect them to know. So if a conversation is going haywire, this can be an empowering first step:

  1. Ask yourself: “What am I wanting to hear?”
    If you don’t know, take a moment to pause and really connect with yourself. It’s worth taking a couple seconds or even minutes to be clear on what your truth is, rather than getting lost in the muck of confusing feelings.  

    Common core desires are things like, “I want to be reminded that you love me” or “I want to know that you still want to be my friend.”
     
  2. Then, ask yourself: “Is this a reasonable thing to request?”
    For example, it might not be reasonable to ask your partner to say, “you look beautiful in every single piece of clothing in the world.” Maybe they don’t truthfully think so!

    Perhaps what you’re really trying to request something like, “I want to be reminded that you love me, even if you don’t always agree with my fashion choices.”
     
  3. If what you want to hear seems like a reasonable request, then tell the other person! Sometimes, even if you think it’s reasonable, they may not agree. That’s okay, too. But if you are clear about what you want, then at least it will be easier for you to see what compromises get you closest to the core thing you are needing.


I’d love to know: When you’re having a tough conversation with someone you love, do you know what you’d like to hear to be comforted? Have you ever tried actually telling them what you want to hear?

There's no gold star for you here.

Just so we’re clear…

Your eating is not a test.

There’s no “success” or “failure.”
There’s no honor roll or detention.
There’s not someone deciding whether you earned an A or a B+ or a C- today.  

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I know that might be hard to process. It might be 100% against how you think about food.

I mean, it’s also pretty different from how our culture generally talks about food:

“I’ve been so bad today! I had fries with lunch.”
“I’ve been so good all week — I had a salad every day.”
“I keep messing up with my eating; I don’t know what to do.”

But it’s true. Your eating is not a test. There is no gold star to be had.

None. Zilch.

It’s just you, having a body, making a choice. Then making another choice.

Sure, those choices have consequences. All choices do. But that doesn’t mean that you did or did not earn a trophy of “goodness” based on that choice.

So just take good care of yourself, okay?

And if you’re having trouble detaching yourself from this “good vs. bad” mindset around food — or if you find yourself frustrated with your eating a lot — you might benefit from joining the Dessert Club.

The Dessert Club is an 8-week, small group class in why you eat the way you do, and how you can feel like a normal and happy person around food. One past participant said, "If you're considering signing up, I'd say, "DO IT". 

There’s two groups starting in July, so there’s a good chance there’s a time that works for you. Learn more here.

As always, I’m sending you strength + support for the week ahead. You’ve got this. 

It's not sexy, but it's really helpful.

As a life coach, people come to me with all kinds of difficulties.  

My job as a coach isn’t to tell them what to do. Instead, I help them reconnect with their own truth, so they can figure out their own next steps — now and in the future.

A very common tool that I use for that process is emptiness.

I know, I know, “emptiness” doesn’t sound very sexy or exciting. But I promise you, it is crucial to helping yourself out of just about any personal difficulty you find yourself in.

I recorded you a video – check it out below.

After you watch the video, promise me you’ll take even 60 seconds to do the practice I suggest? Pretty please? I know it’ll help.

They're here!!

Do any of these seem familiar?

  • You’re pretty much “together” in your life, but this food and weight thing has always been an issue. Always. It doesn’t seem like it should be so hard but for some reason you keep messing up. What’s going on?
     
  • You often find yourself making “plans” about your eating or your body. That’s it, I’m going to completely cut out sugar this month…or go to that exercise class four times this week…or lose eight pounds by vacation. You make to-do lists and buy special foods and sometimes it even works…until it doesn’t. Then you are frustrated and defeated and a little panicked. How am I going to deal with this “thing”? It doesn’t seem like it should be so hard! 
     
  • Sometimes — and you might not have told anybody this — you feel out-of-control around food. You’re alone in your kitchen, or in front of the tv, and you just can’t seem to stop eating. It’s almost like you leave your body for a few minutes, or you go into a mini-trance. The word “bingeing” sounds kind of scary…but what exactly is happening to you?
     
  • Sometimes you feel like you don’t even know how to eat. Does everyone spend so much time thinking and worrying about everything they put into their mouth? Does everyone have to put in so much effort to not be “fat”?
     
  • You know that you shouldn’t worry so much about your weight. You’re a feminist! You believe that all bodies are beautiful! Except, it’s really hard to do let go of the idea that your life would be better if you lost a couple of pounds. And you know that’s affecting your relationship with food.

If you resonated with any of these statements, the Dessert Club is for you. 

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The Dessert Club is an 8-week, small-group course in how to have a happier, less stressful, and less crazy relationship with food. You shouldn't have to worry or think about food so much — really. 

Dessert Clubs take place online, so you can join from anywhere in the world.

I just posted the dates for our summer sessions, and I wanted you to be the first to know! 

Tuesdays, starting July 10
11 am PST/2 pm EST/7 pm BST
*Europe-friendly!*
LEARN MORE

Tuesdays, starting July 10
5 pm PST/8 pm EST
LEARN MORE

Two more things that I wanted you to know:

1. A lot of people have been asking me for a more Europe-friendly group, and I’m excited to be offering one this time! I probably won't offer a Euro-friendly group time every time, though, so keep that in mind if you've been thinking about joining!

2. I will be raising the prices of the Dessert Club next time I offer the group, so if you’ve been wanting to join for a while, this could be a good time. 

 

There’s so much more to know about the Dessert Club. If you’d like to know more about who is a good fit for the group, what we do together, and what past participants have thought, click here.

And, as always, feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions. I can’t wait to meet many of you soon :)

Cupcakes and food sanity,
Katie

On linear things.

I have bad news and good news. It’s the same news:

Your journey probably won’t be linear.

Not for your career.
Not for your relationships.
Not for your confidence.
Not for your eating.
Not for your body size or body image.

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It’ll get better and then worse and then better and then worse. Whatever “better” and “worse” mean, anyway.

Then it will go sideways and backwards and to the right and the left and the southeast and northwest.

Whew. Do you feel how exhausting it is? All those different directions?

This is bad news because it is friggin’ annoying that your life won’t progress like an arrow, zooming towards its destination.

But it’s also good news. If you feel like you're “off track” today or this month or this decade…it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually going in the wrong direction.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you can’t try to grow in the direction that you care about! I’m a coach, for goodness sakes. I help my clients do that all the time.

But it does mean that just because your journey seems zig-zag-y, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. You might just need to take a breath, ask for a hug, and buckle up. 

Worried about being high maintenance? Here's a suggestion.

No matter what my clients come to me wanting to work on, we end up talking about their relationships. Relationships with their partners, their friends, their family members.

Something I hear a lot is this: I don’t want to be high maintenance. 

Have you thought that, too? Have you worried about requesting something of someone, or showing someone how their words affect you…because then you’d be high maintenance?

If so, then this week’s video is just for you:

As always, I’m sending you strength + support for the week ahead. You’ve got this.

It counts.

Here’s a feel-good-in-your-body suggestion for today:

Do one push-up.

Not five push-ups. Not 10. Not 20.
Just. Do. One.

I dare you. I triple-dog-dare you. Are you woman (or man) enough to just do one push-up, and then stop?

Because yes, doing one push-up may be a weird and uncomfortable for many of us. It can be a strange thing to let go of all of the stories you have about what a push-up is — an “intense workout” or “should be done in sets of 20” — and explore what it could be, in a different form.

When I do just one push-up, I feel…slightly energized. Like the blood is flowing a tiny bit better in my body. I feel subtly happier, if I’m honest.

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Most people I talk to have all kinds of black-and-white, all-or-nothing stuff going on when it comes to moving their body. Either they’re doing a half hour of burpees or they’re taking a rest day. There’s certainly nothing wrong with either of those things.

But please don’t forget all of the rich, interesting, enlivening area in the middle.

1 push-up, it counts.
Taking a four minute walk down your street, it counts.
Holding a plank on your bedroom floor for 10 seconds, it counts.

I’m not saying that these joyful, small movement moments will give you Michelle Obama arms.
I’m not saying you need to do “lots of little movements” so it will “add up to a full workout.”

But I am saying that when I do just one push-up, it’s like a tiny, little happiness boost.

I thought you might like a tiny, little happiness boost, too. 

...

p.s. That picture is me playing around in Brooklyn...five years ago! Remember when I shaved my head? :)