Tuesday, December 22, 2009

size ate is baaaaack! & merry, mindful holiday eating

i just wanted to check in to let you all know that i'm performing SIZE ATE (i'm playing with it in all caps. what do you think?) in NYC again, january 14-16. it's open to the public. please do come! more details and ticket info here. i hope to see you all there! 

wouldn't a pair of tickets to the show be a great last-minute holiday gift? ( ;

lord knows i've been a stranger, and i'm sorry, but my life is filled to the brim these days, and it's just not leaving a lot of room for regular blogging. i hope you are all enjoying your holidays: staying sane and soulful and sweet. as i write this, gingerbread is baking in the oven and an apple cinnamon candle flickers on the coffee table. le sigh... i love Christmas.

speaking of sanity and the holidays, my dear friend and co-inspirator, Susan Weiss Berry, was kind enough to write up some tips on Merry, Mindful Eating during the Holidays. read them and be like a sponge: absorb. have a wonderful holiday, happies. enjoy every blessed morsel of it. and i don't just mean the food.

1. Eat between the extremes. This year, instead of restricting what you eat, try this: regardless of what you weigh, how much weight you think you need to lose, or what you ate yesterday, each time you are physically hungry (sensations in your stomach) eat the foods you truly want and work towards stopping when you are just comfortable (before full). Become aware (mindfulness=no judgements) of when you are physically hungry vs. when you just want to eat (appetite =emotions, stress). Instead of criticizing say: "Isn't that interesting? I'm not really hungry right now, I just want to eat because...", or "Here's what I'm hoping the food will do for me." When you do eat, pay attention to the food as it enters your mouth. Chew slowly; put your fork down between bites. Close your eyes and tune into the tastes, textures and sensual pleasures of the food. "Do I like this?  Do I want more? Have I had just enough?"

2. Do you want peace or a piece of pie? Holiday parties can overwhelm with a variety and abundance of food. Before you eat, place your hand on your belly and ask:  "Am I hungry? Physically? Or do I want to eat because… it’s time; I’m stressed, I’ll never, ever get to have any of this food again," or "Aunt Agatha is giving me agita?" Survey the spread and choose only the foods that really “hum” to you by asking, “Do I want something hot or cold? Salty or sweet? Crunchy or smooth?” Don’t over think this— go with your gut. Remember, foods are not good or bad and you are not good or bad for wanting them.

3. Avoid the Virtue Trap:  The Voice of Virtue (perfection) is Fear Mind. It carries on, yapping in your head, "if you eat this one cookie, this one slice of pumpkin pie, it’s all over, it’s ruined."  BIG FAT LIE! Truthfully, challenging our conditioning around food takes time and courage, but in the long run, it’s so much simpler to respond to Hunger and Satiation in the moment, than to carry around a Weight Watcher’s scale and a tally sheet. And being perfect, by the way is totally, and completely impossible!

4. Trust your brilliant body- If you feel like you’ve eaten too much—like you end a meal too full, instead of getting into a panic, reacting by bingeing or starving to punish yourself for being too full, just stay busy while the food is digesting. Say, "oh well, no big deal," and turn your attention to something enjoyable. It’s amazing but after a couple of hours, you will no longer be full, and maybe you will have made a gorgeous beaded bracelet, watched a fascinating movie, or finished an amazing book.

5. Assess the stress:  Notice the more nerved out you get, the bigger the knot in your stomach gets, the more shallow your breathing becomes and the more you want to eat/restrict? It’s challenging to know what the body truly needs when it’s anxious/stressed. To create the calm you crave, try this: Leave the group. Go to the bathroom, wash your hands slowly with warm water, or just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Listen to the tightness in your stomach, chest, throat or shoulders. Sit down, exhale through your mouth then inhale through your nose. Feel your shoulders drop, your stomach relax. Now breathe slowly and gently through your nose for 1-2 minutes. Your body will relax even more. Allow yourself as much time away from the group as you need. Take good care of you. Repeat as needed.

6. Stay in the Moment: Fear Mind enjoys rewinding to Christmas 1980 or fast-forwarding to Hanukkah 2020. It enjoys rehashing negativity and predicting dire futures. I say "Bah-humbug." The present moment is a safe haven from Fear Mind who loses all power in this tick of the clock. When you hear words like should, have to or what if, you know a Fear Mind fable is on the way. Try this: Label troubling thoughts as Thinking and redirect your attention through your five senses: sparkly candles, sweet Christmas Carols, smell of pine, spicy cinnamon eggnog, cold snow on your skin. This is what’s real and true right now. This is the present moment. All is well.

7. Bring Your Toolbox:  Instead of using food, we can create portable, lightweight tools that distract and comfort us when we feel stressed, anxious or uncomfortable. It might be a pile of People Magazines, music, knitting, books, puzzles, nail polish, crayons, games, naps, walking, or calling a friend. Pack whatever works for you. Befriend yourself.

8. Set limits:  Know how much time you can comfortably spend at holiday gatherings.  Let hosts know in advance when you’ll need to be leaving. Take breaks often to assess the stress and decide, do I need to leave the dinner table? The room? The house? Be Mindful of information your body’s sending to you and let yourself have a break whenever needed to get your balance back. Ask: What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now? Use your tool box; create exit strategies.

9. Make a list:  Holidays are a great time to review the year. Instead of focusing on what you did not like, ignore the critic and pay attention to what you are grateful for. Include the smallest details: I can see, hear, walk. List the things you are proud of (include the smallest things:  I walk my dog in the rain, I get up and go to work regardless). Comfort and joy, acceptance and compassion are the perfect gifts to give to yourself and others. Keep giving all year. As Pema Chodrun says, ''Mindfulness practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already.''

10. Start A New Year This Year- Winter holidays can be a source of solace or stress. It all depends on your point of view.  It’s easy to become over-focused on piles of potatoes and pumpkin pie not as a source of pleasure but as a way of medicating uncomfortable feelings. This year, instead of adopting the Fear Mind philosophy--"who gives a crap, I’ll diet Jan 1st," try this: Pretend the New Year begins 12/22, the day after the Solstice, when Light returns and the days grow longer. A time of hope and renewal. Light a candle. All is well.

11. Let go. Overeating/undereating is not a crime and does not make you a bad person. As a gift, give yourself a break. Name the thoughts and feelings that come up like, "oh, this is anger, this is how it feels in my belly, my throat." After naming feelings, let them go. Live in the present moment—in what is true and real NOW! Let go of worrying about what you ate an hour ago, or last night. Don’t punish yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. See the humor in all situations and respect where you are right now. Take good care of yourself in all circumstances. 'Tis the season to be jolly.  Keep learning, breathing, laughing.

Susan Weiss Berry, MS, CNS is the owner/director of Evolved Eating in NYC and an expert in the fields of Eating Disorders, Emotional Eating and Mindfulness (www.evolvedeating.com).

how do you cope with the holidays and food? 

holidays are so much more enjoyable for me now that i have full permission to eat anything i want. what's weird and beautiful is that i'm far less likely to overeat. i've also learned a lot about my limits as well as my tastes. i don't like feeling super full, and it turns out i don't even like apple or pumpkin pie. now i save that precious belly-space for chocolate items!


Liv said...

Hi Margaux! Long time reader, first time commenter. Love the blog and from the trailers I've seen on youtube, the play. Where will it be playing in New York? I'm an undergrad student in Manhattan and I would dearly love to kick of the semester with something positive and entertaining like your show.

margaux said...

hi liv! you can find all the deets here: http://sizeateshow.blogspot.com/

the show is playing at the wild project on the LES. hope to see you there!

NewMe said...

Excellent, excellent "tips". I'll be linking to your post--it's too good to miss.

Thanks. And happy holidays.

Fat Bastard said...


Roo de Loo said...

good luck with the show! I'm heading back to GC just a couple of days before, so unfortunately won't be able to make it. Break legs!

Jenna said...

I just came across your blog and I love reading it! I can't wait to continue to follow it!
I would love it if you could check out my blog and follow as well :)

Lisa said...

Hello, Just bloghopping. Great blog!

Be Well :)