Friction

Friction is a resistance to motion or change of any sort. Most of our weight loss activities require us to change in spite of friction and resistance.

Resistance to change in the brain is expressed as fear, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, timidity, perfectionism, self-loathing, ego, etc.

Resistance is a reliable obstacle to change of any sort; we can always count on it! It is a giant STOP sign that pops up in our head automatically blocking where we really want to go. Changing our diet pretty much has our brains holding up this STOP sign every step of the way.

Imagine a train with one engine pulling five cars. The last car is labeled “Friction” and is full of heavy coal. How would the engine feel if the “Friction Car” was uncoupled and left behind? Lighter? Faster? Freer?

If reducing friction and resistance to change is helpful how can we do it?

First is awareness. Thinking that something or someone is slowing you down is just a story in your head. Thinking a specific person, patient, task, object, duty, or diet is in your way of getting what you want is just a story you are telling yourself.

Next, ask yourself this: Is my current diet story getting me the results I want?

Perhaps your story is, “I’m getting older and it is going to be harder to lose weight now”. Or, “I can lose the weight anytime. I’ll start on Monday.” Or, “I’m not losing weight fast enough eating this way so I’m going to try a better way.”

If your story continually produces feelings of irritation, frustration, anger, delay, confusion, helplessness, or isolation then that is a lousy story to keep telling yourself!

Remember, you are so much more enlightened than you were in December! Other people are not as aware of their thinking as you are. In fact the vast majority of other people are not aware of this truth: What we think produces the results in our lives.

Be aware when your brain produces thoughts like:

“This person is making my job harder!”
“This equipment has it out for me!”
“My co-workers are doing this on purpose!”
“This doctor is doing this to irritate me!”
“My boss gives me stupid stuff to do!”
“Why is my life so hard?”
“I can’t follow my weight loss plan while my life is so crazy!”

These types of thoughts are neurological friction. These thoughts are not the facts of your life but your brain sure likes to market them as such! Remember our brains like everything to feel EASY, PLEASURABLE, and PAIN FREE!

Habitual thoughts and stories persist in your brain because they activate those fast-spiking interneurons like an involuntary reflex. If you want a better result you need to bombard these neurons with new thoughts until the new thoughts become the normal reflex response you desire.

Be kind to yourself. Changing thoughts and neurotransmitter cascade pathways takes the three P’s: patience, persistence, and practice. It is your choice to think thoughts that will take you somewhere better.

Have another great week,
C.

Just Noticeable Difference

Remember last week we learned humans experience life by changes? The Weber-Fechner Law demonstrates a measurable change humans actually pick up on!

In the field of psychophysics there is a law called the Weber-Fechner Law. This picture visually describes the law. In the boxes on the left humans can visually detect the 10 extra dots because there are fewer dots to sort through.

File:Weber-Fechner law demo - dots.png

Weber-Fechner Law in Wikipedia

In the left hand boxes we notice when there is more. In the right hand boxes we do not notice when there is more. The Weber-Fechner Law calls this the just noticeable difference or JND where the human brain is able to make the distinction between more or less.

I want you to do an experiment with what you dish up onto your plate this week. I want you to try using this JND to your advantage and support what your want to do (eat less!) when you are feeling tired, angry, or stressed.

We need to retrain our eyes to “see the extra 10 dots” indicating we have put too much on our plate!

First, add the food to your plate until you notice that your brain says “Stop, that’s enough!” Observe if your plate is not so full (few dots) like the left hand pictures above or full (lots of dots) like the right hand pictures above.

Then, as you eat your meal notice the space on the plate growing as your stomach takes in the food. Be aware of when your +2 satisfied feeling arrives and notice what is left on your plate. If you have food left on your plate then you can decide at the next meal to dish up less.

But, if you have no food left on your plate and you are past your +2 satisfied feeling and on to your full feeling you can decide at the next meal to dish up less or leave 2-3 bites behind.

In case you have no food on your plate and you have not reached +2 then dish up more food and eat until you reach +2 satisfied.

In any of these scenarios you will become more aware of the amount of food you are overeating. If you regularly PRACTICE this at each meal your eyes and stomach will start to work together to “see” and “feel” when you are overeating the “10 more dots”.

Here are some other strategies to help your eyes “see” the JND:

  • Keep space between different foods, no piling on!
  • Use smaller lunch sized plates.
  • Use light colored plates that contrast with the food.
  • Avoid mindless multi-tasking while eating; focus on nourishing your body.
  • Eat all meals on a plate while sitting at the table.
  • Eating in the car is always a bad idea because it is usually mindless overeating!
  • Store uneaten food either in the fridge or garbage, not in your  body!
  • No tasting or snacking while making your meal – this mindless eating will easily store 100-500 extra calories a day in your fat cells!
  • Proportion meals ahead of time.

Understanding the JND of our own meal portions will enable us to “see” what is the correct amount of food for our own bodies. We can use the JND strategy at buffets, parties, and when all those goodies show up in the lounge at work.

Keep in mind the JND will change as you lose weight. As you weigh less you will naturally need to eat less to continue losing weight. Eventually your JND will help you maintain your healthy weight.

Worry is not our Business

“I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.” said Byron Katie.

We have control over our business. We have no control over anyone else’s business. We can only control the choices we make, the thoughts we think, and the actions we do.

A core tenant of nurses is to care about other people. We really, really want our people, our patients to succeed in their lives. But we still can’t control what they choose to do.

Nurses can easily indulge in worry. We are planners and doers and worry what will happen if we don’t do the thing the kids want, don’t be the best mom, wife, girlfriend, daughter, sister, or employee we think others expect. Worrying is not the same as constructive caring.

We hide parts of ourselves to get along with all the people in our lives because we worry what they will think if we don’t do this or act like that.

But really, where does worry get us? Worry is all the thinking going on in our heads before an event happens, or doesn’t happen. Does it actually accomplish anything other than irritating the heck out of us and others?

In the history of mankind, worry has never accomplished anything. Nothing! That is why it is indulgent. Our brain manufactures “worries” to protect us from “threats”. What are you worrying about right now? Is it really a threat like a car about to hit you or a thought like “what if people notice I’m eating a salad and don’t eat that doughnut?”

Stop focusing on your worries. Be aware of your worries and keep them in perspective. Almost always they have no meaning unless that car is going to hit you! Dumping your worry list in the trashcan is so freeing! This is the business we need to tend to.

When we mind our business we do self-care for ourselves. By self-care I mean move out of the negative emotional spaces held by worry and into positive emotional spaces where we feel peaceful, powerful, grateful, and creative.

Byron Katie reminds us: “Just to notice that you’re in someone else’s business can bring you back to your own wonderful self.”

Our business this week is to work on self-care. Try replacing the non-productive sticky, nagging emotion of worrying about a thing in your life with an emotion that makes you feel lighter.

Ask yourself: are you are harboring worries about weight loss that are holding you back from doing the basics of weight loss and your own positive self-care?

Let’s have another great week!

CHANGING

It is almost spring and change is in the air!

Did you know that changes are the way we humans experience life? We don’t notice a temperature change from 58 to 60 degrees but when we combine a sunny day at 60 degrees with a sweet smelling wind and daffodils in bloom we finally take note and say, “IT’S SPRING!”

Inside our bodies our cells also react to a “change”. For example, our brain neurophysiology responds to a light stimulus once it reaches a certain level.

• If we turn on a small light while in a dark room a little light is enough to stimulate the visual system allowing us to “see” quite well.

• On the flip side, if we move from the super bright sunlight into a dark bar our over stimulated visual system has to shut off before it can “see” inside the bar.

Now let’s apply this idea to our weight loss.

When we were at a healthy weight our body responded to a change in our appetite level. The brain could “see” very low levels of leptin announcing the fat stores were low which stimulated the brain to “switch” our appetite on and have us eat food. Our appetite then “switched off” when our stomach stretched enough to feel satisfied and our cells could “see” insulin and take in glucose.

If we are currently overweight our appetite regulatory center is “seeing” a change in our appetite differently than it did when we were a healthy weight.

Because of our current leptin-resistance our brain doesn’t “see” the leptin knocking at the door announcing “we’re good with enough stored fat here!” Because of our current insulin-resistance the cells don’t “see” the insulin at the cell wall announcing “I got all this glucose for you cells, come on and take it cause otherwise I’m shoving it into the fat closet!”

We arrived at our overweight condition by gradually altering our appetite “switch”. Our overeating was either constantly turning the “switch” on and off or more likely, just keeping it on. This habit became imbedded in our behavior. The “changes” we started responding to were dictated by preprocessed food, food marketing and food pushers. We started consistently overeating. Here and there, meal by meal, day by day, and on to year after year.

Now our appetite “switch” is stuck in the on position because we are emotionally eating when our body is not hungry.

But we are now aware of what we are doing. We know about our manuals and how they are not helping us. We know our emotional eating is just putting a buffer between the painful, negative thoughts we are thinking about a circumstance in our lives.

This awareness can put you back in control of your appetite “switch”. Make the best choice you can at each meal. If you overeat at a meal or eat off your protocol meal plan then figure out why you did it with the model and just make a better choice at your next meal. No beating yourself up and no judgments!

To change your appetite “switch” and get back to your healthy weight:

==> get >7 hours sleep each night
==> drink enough water to keep your pee pale yellow
==> eat when your body sends out physical hunger signals
==> quit eating when your body sends out physical satisfied signals
==> plan meals 24 hours in advance and writing down the food you eat
==> ask if your thoughts are hurting or helping in your food choices
==> practice better thoughts that help you make better choices

Wow! And all this is free to do! Let’s have another great week!

OBESITY=HORMONES OUT OF BALANCE

It is false that calories in = calories out. This simple concept has made the food and diet industries happy for decades because it was so easy to market. Sadly, it cannot be accurately applied to a dynamic, complex, homeostatic system like a human!

Obesity is a disease of time. It shows up over time, not right away but in response to a change in appetite regulatory hormones that are abused for years and decades.

Our bodies are amazing and can adjust to many changes. But, if we keep our insulin levels high all the day long by eating frequently or largely, what do you imagine will eventually happen?

By continually adding to our fat stores by overeating every day the leptin released by our fat cells is always circulating and no longer effective in telling the brain to turn off our appetite. What will eventually happen?

Hyperinsulinemia leads to insulin-resistance which leads to excessive leptin and ultimately, leptin-resistance. This feedback loop is the inevitable result of our overeating.

It took years for us to get our body into this condition. It will take time for us to get out of this condition. But we can do it. By not overeating. By allowing our body to not have insulin circulating all the time. By not eating all the time.

While our bodies adjust back to normal hormonal appetite regulation we will encounter plateaus and stalled weight loss.

This is when we can look at our meal plans, figure out if we are still overeating, and adjust the type, frequency, or amount of food we should eat in order to jumpstart our weight loss and get it moving the direction we want to go.

METABOLIZING EMOTIONS

Did you know that we have the absolute ability to deal with any negative emotion?

How you ask?

By metabolizing them just like we metabolize our food.

Compare the physiology of digestion with that of emotions:

Digestion starts when our hand puts food in our mouth. Immediately the gut generates a cascade of enzymes to break the food down so the vascular system can transmit the glucose and fatty acids to our cells. This process is autonomic and unconscious.

Emotions are the outcome of brain thought transmission throughout our body. Our brain puts a thought into our mind and neurons use default and habitual neurotransmitter pathways we best describe as “emotions” to distribute the thought throughout our body. This process is more than 90% autonomic and unconscious.

For example:

• The circumstance is a family member says, “Come on, I made this food special for you and if you love me you will eat it!”
• We generate a default thought: “If I don’t eat this food they will be unhappy.”
• This thought automatically generates a feeling of guilt because we didn’t plan to eat the food. In our body guilt feels like heaviness around the heart, restrictive, vague, and persistent. This is the physical manifestation of “guilt” neurotransmitters moving through our body.

Negative emotions like guilt feel uncomfortable and our brain wants to avoid pain. So our brain goes to work to feel better and metabolize this negative emotion by BUFFERING:

• Our action is to eat the food. This produces the default sugar rush our body has relied on in the past to stimulate the brain pleasure center and quiet the feeling of guilt.
• The result is that we overeat and gain weight.

Here is an alternate way to metabolize that same circumstance with different thinking:

• The circumstance is a family member says, “Come on, I made this food special for you and if you love me you will eat it!”
• We can make a choice to think instead: “I can care about this person without eating their food.”
• This thought makes us feel responsible. We are taking care of our health and still showing the other person we appreciate their consideration.

Then we use our brain to practice a healthier way of feeling better:

• Our action is to not eat the food and say “No thank you” in a polite way.
• The result is we do not get the sugar rush, over eat and gain weight. Instead we allow the neurotransmission cascade of the emotion “responsible” to build in our body and push away the feeling of guilt. We show ourselves that the guilt feeling doesn’t last long and is no big deal; it doesn’t need food to make it go away.

We can learn how to metabolize a negative emotion by ALLOWING the “guilt” feeling to first exist then dissipate without buffering it with food. Amazingly, we can do this with any emotion that is leading us to overeat.

This takes practice. Undoing unwanted habitual neurotransmitter pathways takes time and repetition. Time and repetition is how they were formed in the first place.

Let’s be aware of our emotions and practice not buffering them with food this week!

TROUBLESHOOTING OUR MANUALS

This week we need to continue working with the model and learn why we do emotional eating. Digging into our brains to understand what we are thinking is STRONG work but so worth it!

Let’s start by looking at the instruction manuals we carry around for ourselves, all the people we know, the pets we live with, the circumstances we encounter, even the things we have or want.

What’s a manual you ask?

Imagine it as thick binder in your head, you know, the one that outlines exactly how other people should treat you, how your job should be every workday, how the world and everything in it is supposed to be.

Our manuals contain all the stories we have written for how everything outside of us is SUPPOSED to operate. The world according to us!

Let’s use Valentine’s Day as an example. If it is written in your manual you believe in the marketing of FTD, Hallmark, and Hershey’s Chocolate then our husbands and boyfriends should be running out and getting a dozen red roses, a sweetie card, candy, and reserving a candlelight dinner with us every February 14th. How many of you expect this and don’t get it?

How would this scenario make you feel? Probably frustrated and angry? NOT happy and loving! Here are examples of other storylines in our manuals that don’t generate positive emotions either:

• The manual mothers have for their kids: they won’t cry, get tired, get sick on vacation, talk back, always sleep through the night, get stellar grades, won’t crash the car, never get emotional, always ask our advice, be respectful toward us and on and on.

• The manual we have for our pets includes: no shitting in the house, no jumping, no barking, no clawing the furniture, no making a mess eating, no need for walking when we are tired, no hair ball barfing, no shedding hair in the house, and on and on.

• The manual we have for work may include: no long days, people will come in and help when their room is done, my room will finish early, my patients will all cooperate under anesthesia, the supplies and instruments will all be picked 100% correctly, the schedule will run as it is written, the equipment will never break, our patients will do all their post-op instructions perfectly and on and on.

These sound ridiculous when written down but ask yourself how many of these ring true?

The point is, these manuals live in the dark recesses of our mind, no one else generally knows they are there, NOT EVEN OURSELVES!

The stories in our manuals are our default thinking, running undetected in our mind all the time. They are the thoughts driving our emotions, actions and ultimately the results we get in our lives. It is like we are following the WAZE app directions and drive into the lake because it told us too and we wonder how we ended up in a lake!

Our weight loss manual has thinking in there that is going to hold us back and keep us from evolving into the person we want to be.

Pull out your manual, open it to any page and start working on identifying that thinking. Decide if that STORYLINE is helping you or holding you back.

MODELING EMOTIONAL EATING

This week we are going inside our mind. We want to know what is going on in there.
This is where we will find the cause of ALL our overeating!
Because,

What we think = our weight loss results.
What we think = our financial results.
What we think = our relationship results.
What we think = our career results.

You can put anything in this equation and it will be true!

Our goal this week is to add a new habit to the other 4 habits we are already practicing: sleep, water, hunger scale, and meal plan. The thought download + model habit.

A thought download is writing down what you are thinking. Getting the self-talk out of your head and onto paper where you can SEE it.

Next, we put one of those thoughts into the model. We run our thinking through the model and it becomes crystal clear how our thinking leads to our results. Brooke Castillo developed this model and has successfully used it to coach people on any problem for years.

Here is an example of a thought download I did last week. The triggering circumstance was my daughter making a pasta meal. I was not hungry before she started the meal preparation.

This self-talk was going on in my head while she was making her meal:

why is no one hungry when I’m hungry,
why are they eating now,
man that food looks good,
that smells really good,
I can eat that real easy,
I can join in and eat too,
I’m sort of hungry,
I’m hungry enough,
I ll just do it this once,
no one knows my meal plan but me,
I can cheat and it won’t make a difference,
fuck it!

Self-talk goes on in our brain all the time – it’s the default thinking that supports our current habits. We put these thoughts go into the following Default Model because it’s the thinking the brain comes up with on its own. I have NO CONTROL over this thinking and you don’t either. This is the way our brains are designed to work. If you think this doesn’t apply to you; well that is just unicorn magic thinking! To show you how the model works I’ll put one of my thoughts into the Default Model.

Default (Unintentional) Model
The Circumstance: My daughter cooking when I am not hungry
My Thought: I can join in and eat too!
My Emotion: Connected
My Actions: Eat before I am physically hungry, overeat, Practice emotional eating
The Results: Eat extra food, gain weight

HERE IS WHAT THE MODEL REVEALS:

• The circumstance generated a thought, which created a feeling in my body.
• The feeling motivated my body to do these actions.
• The actions generated a predictable result.
• Finally, the results supported the thought.

This is how a habit loop works, it always starts with and is propagated by our thinking! This kind of thought is a RED FLAG for me because I encounter this situation on a daily basis.

However, I can practice a new thought to replace this very unhelpful one! I can build an Intentional Model to practice a new thought that will lead to a new result!

Intentional Model
The Circumstance: My daughter cooking when I am not hungry
My New Thought: Eating this food will not help me reach my goal weight!
My Desired Emotion: Truthful
My New Actions: Drink tea/coffee/seltzer water, connect with other people without eating, Practice eating meal plan
The New Results: Continue working toward my goal weight

At first, the Intentional Model is going to piss my brain off. The old familiar thought will keep coming up and I will have to practice pushing it down and thinking my new thought that will get me the results I want. This is simple but not easy because we need to practice it daily. Remember, we want to practice things that will start helping to pull us toward our goal:)

Modeling our thoughts will uncover and control our emotional eating habits!

The Emotion Wheel from The Junto Institute

JUST KEEP DOING THE PLAN

We are now a solid month into 2019. Are you still excited about losing weight?

Probably not so much, right? Everyone starts losing their forward momentum and motivation about now, especially if the results haven’t been as spectacular as we expected back on January 1st!

Viktor Frankl (neurologist, psychologist, and Holocaust survivor) once said:
“Life can be pulled by goals as surely as it can be pushed by drives.”

Our 4 basic and meal planning habits will pull us into the future we desire.

Or, we can blow off our plan and be pushed around by the vagaries of food marketing, other people’s demands, our emotional habits, and shear laziness.

We have two choices: To do our meal plan or to not do our meal plan. Simple!

If you haven’t done a meal plan then start today.

If you haven’t yet done a 24-hour meal plan in advance then start today.

Our meal plan data shows us where we can level up, identify patterns, adjust our meal plans, and change our food choices. It is where we face up to what we are doing on a daily basis!

It shows us where our helpful habits are and where we need to build better habits instead of wallowing in confusion, doubt, and indecision. This crappy mental state allows our brain to say, “Hey, let’s look for a new quick fix!”

Now, go back and look over your meal plans and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Hint: if you have documented your overeats you may identify a pattern that is waving the white flag of “Ego Depletion”. This is when our willpower and self-control surrender to our bad eating habits. My personal ego depletion zone is from 2-5pm after work and this where most of my overeating occurs.

Practicing the habits that pull us where we want to go makes them easier to do. Then the magic starts to happen! Our new habits begin to start helping us do the hard work of sticking with our lifelong diet!

Our new habits will become the force that works for us against all the pushing and shoving thoughts our brains manufacture: Why can’t I have this? This tastes so good! I was good at work today cause I didn’t eat the doughnut! I don’t want to waste this! I can’t throw this away because it cost money! I’m too tired. I just want to feel better! I felt angry at work and this cookie will make me feel better, and on and on and on.

This type of self-talk justifies not planning, eating off plan, overeating, or just saying “Fuck It” and telling ourselves we will just start over tomorrow, or Monday, or after the party.

Just Keep doing the Plan:

• drink enough water so your pee is pale yellow
• sleep 7+ hours
• practice the hunger scale at each meal
• write a meal plan 24 hours in advance then follow it
• following your Protocol

Next week we add thought work to build the habits we want. ALL overeating is based on what we are thinking and feeling at the time.

Mike Cohn, SCRUM Agility Founder, said in 2015: “If you loosen your grip on certainty, I think you will find a whole world of possibilities, a new path to learning and growth. But I could be wrong.”* I love this quote, we could all be wrong, and isn’t that a freeing thought – no more failure! It’s the learning and thinking that matter.

*(For those of you who are wondering what SCRUM means it is a term that originated in Rugby. In this case means: a set of practices used in agile project management for software development that emphasize daily communication and the flexible reassessment of plans that are carried out in short, iterative phases of work. Exactly what we do with the 4 basics, protocol and data assessment! SCRUM is used to enhance billion dollar companies so if it works for them it will work for us!)

MINING THE MEAL PLAN DATA

I have a fun exercise that will demonstrate why we need to write down our meal plans and any food we eat during the week. Our memories are really just illusion, just stories our brains build to make sense of the world. The brain does not take pictures. According to the motivational triangle our brains have evolved to do its work with the least amount of energy. It translates our experiences into memories by taking the images our eyeballs focus on, tag them to past experiences and create a story from preexisting stored information. Brain memory storage and retrieval has no similarities with CDs or DVDs. There is no tape recorder inside our heads much as we like to think so. However, there are a lot of cognitive biases that help us efficiently deal with all the stimulation the world throws at us. Our meal plans help us make weight loss progress despite the Illusion of Memory.

Read the following list of words and do your best to place them in your memory:

• bed, rest, awake, tired, dream, wake, snooze, blanket, doze, slumber, snore, nap, peace, yawn, drowsy.

Now, keep reading the next paragraphs and later I will ask you to recall the words.

When we stop losing weight, hit a plateau, or gain weight it is super helpful to have a meal plan to evaluate. We will be able to clearly see what needs to be improved. We don’t want to judge ourselves harshly; we just want to improve the data!

What VALUE can we extract from the meal plan and weight data? Extracting patterns from the data helps makes sense of the results for the week!

Look at the meal plan path you took last week.

See where the detours took place, overeats or food eaten off plan.

These detours are stimulating and painless in the moment. We are easily justifying them. However, they are taking away from our weight loss.

Let’s start facing WHY we are overeating before we do it. The list of emotions you wrote down that you feel BEFORE you eat are a clue to your WHY!

Documenting overeats EACH TIME THEY HAPPEN makes us realize how often we are doing it. We can turn off a lot of overeats by just becoming aware of them. It gives us the option of CHOOSING to stop overeating AS YOU ARE DOING IT instead of unconsciously continuing to eat well past the time your hunger has been satisfied.

Last thought for this week:

Food cannot make us emotionally FEEL a certain way. It does not have the ability to comfort us, entertain us, or keep us stress free – all this nonsense happens inside our head. What food has the direct ability to do is make us nauseated, fill our stomachs, make our intestines work, turn on our digestive system, get stuck in our teeth, stimulate our taste buds, make our breath smell, give us gas, give us stomach bloat, result in poop that is regular, too thin or too thick, and make us fart!

Food cannot comfort our minds. FOOD IS ONLY FUEL FOR THE BODY.

Now, without looking at the words listed earlier, write down the words from the list that you can remember. No worries if you can’t recall more than a few.

Take a look at the list of words you recalled. Does it contain the word “sleep?” About 40 percent of people doing this exercise will recall having seen the word “sleep.”

If you are one of those people you are probably as confident about having seen “sleep” as you are about any of the other words you remembered. You might even have a distinct recollection of seeing it on the list…. but it wasn’t there… your brain fabricated it! Go ahead and look back at the list if you don’t believe it. This is because your mind, in trying to recall the words, made an association of all the words in the list having to do with “sleep”; your memory “recalled” a word that was never there.

This is why we do written meal plans. Our memory is influenced by cognitive biases and may not remember overeating episodes accurately. After all, if we think and feel overeating is negative our brain will avoid keeping the painful thought. Our brains are going to inaccurately “remember” the meals we ate because it is doing what it has evolved to do – be efficient with its energy output while building memories and avoid creating pain-generating memories.

Let’s work together on another great week of sleeping, watering, eating when hungry, stopping when satisfied and planning,