Salty or sweet, creamy or crunchy, chips & dip. We all have that one food we crave while on the road to a healthy lifestyle. Although I love sweets just as much as the next person, I'm happy to say sweets are one of those things that I don't crave. Chips and salsa, however, is another story. Sure there are more unhealthy things that I can indulge in if I had to, but my problem is not knowing when to stop! Five or six chips may not be that bad, but eating a half a bag in one sitting is!
So what are your cravings? How do you handle them? Do you give in or do you have a strong will-power to let the craving pass? This is something we talked about extensively in our Group Lifestyle Weight Management meeting when I first started working out with my trainer Lisa. Lisa Biffin is a qualified personal trainer and lifestyle weight management coach certified through the American Council on Exercise (she is also a yoga instructor!). She is truly passionate about what she does, is extremely knowledgeable and well-educated in her field. I take her words and advice to heart. I asked her if it would be okay to share the anti-craving strategies that she taught us a while back and she gave me her blessing. So her are some of her strategies (and at the end, there is a little project for you to do!):
Lisa's Anti-Craving Mindset Techniques
- Label it. Tell yourself, "This feeling is just a craving...it is uncomforable and intense, but (like hunger) it is not an emergency."
- Stand Firm. Tell yourself that you're absolutely not going to eat the food that you're craving. Remind yourself that you truly don't want to strengthen your giving-in muscle and weaken your resistance muscle. Ask yourself whether giving in to this craving will be worth the momentary pleasure you'll get from eating. Think about how giving in can undermine your confidence.
- Don't give yourself a choice. The emotionally painful part about a craving is the struggle you feel. Once you can tell yourself with total convicition, "NO CHOICE," and do something else, the craving will diminish. It won't go away, though, if you waver or say to yourself, "This is so intense, I don't know if I can stand it." Of course you can stand it. It may be uncomfortable, but nothing bad will happen if you withstand it. In fact, in a few moments you're going to be proud of yourself!
- Imagine the aftermath of giving in. Go ahead and think about eating the food you are craving. Imagine it in your mouth. How many seconds does it take to eat it? How many seconds do you feel pleasure? Now visualize the rest of the picture...the part of the experience you usually don't think about until it's too late. See yourself feeling upset, giving up, continuing to ear more and more, feeling worse and worse. Do you start to feel heavier in your body or more heavy-hearted? As you become upset in the image, remind yourself you wouldn't do it again, and how hopeless you felt. Now that you've seen the entire picture, which seems better: giving in or not giving into your craving?
- Remind yourself why you want to learn to withstand cravings. Read your Advantages/Response cards (more on those later in the post-it's a project for you!). You won't be able to attain the wonderful benefits of lost weight unless you tolerate your cravings. If you continue to give in to them, you'll always be at risk for gaining weight.
Lisa says that if you're still tempted ot eat something you shouldn't after you've done all of the five mindset techniques above, you can try some of the following behavioral techniques below:
Lisa's Anti-Craving Behavioral Techniques
- Distance yourself from the food you crave. When you experience a craving because you see or smell food, you might be able to move that food to an inconvenient place (out of sight out of mind) or to get rid of it (give it away, throw it away). If you are unable to move the food then try removing yourself from the situation.
- Drink a no calorie or low calorie beverage. Thirst can mask as hunger and trigger you to eat. Consider drinking club soda, water with lemon, herbal tea, etc.
- Relax. You can teach your body how to relax in a variety of ways. Meditation can help refocus your thoughts and it only takes a few minutes.
- Distract yourself. Do you remember a time when a natural distraction interrupted your craving and you later were glad you hadn't given in? Maybe a friend called, the dog need to go for a walk, your boss came into your office? By the time you finished what you had to do, your craving had weakened or passed. You focused on something else.
It's been a while since I've pulled out all of these anti-craving techniques. They make so much sense and they are doable. Don't you agree?
Mind Over Matter Project
So in point #5 of the Mindset Technique, Lisa mentions "Advantage and Response Cards." This was a homework assignment from Lisa and I find them extremely helpful. She originally had us make them on index cards. Being a crafty kind of girl, I got a little more creative and printed/mounted them on cardstock and held them together with a keyring. But since then, I've remade mine so they fit nicely in my MMEW album. The 8.5x11 page protector you see in the photo above are by We R Memory Keepers. I cut two 4x12 pieces of Bazzill Cardstock (apricot) folded them in half and placed them in the pockets. Using an EK Success 1.75" circle punch I punched half circles in the the two vertical pockets like this:
Be warned that the punch may not give you a clean cut (see photo below), but it is easy to trim with a pair of scissors.
The reason why I cut the notch is to allow easy access to your cards when you need to refer to them.
Pretty cool, huh? I love it.
On to the cards. Here's what you do:
- Create an Advantage Card(s) that lists all the reasons why you want to lose weight and keep the weight off. Categorize them by importance (i.e. very important, important, not so important). Ask yourself, "Why do I REALLY want to lose weight?" i.e.: (you can see some of my Advantage Cards in the photo below)
How will weight loss impact my love life, friendships, family, career, social life.
How will weight loss impact my energy level, participation in hobbies, sports, etc.
How will weight loss impact my body, health and my mental outlook.
2. Create Response Cards that counter negative thought or situations that you will encounter,
"Remember the bread/beer will be tempting, but I can resist it. It's more important to
me to lose weight. If I eat bread/drink beer, I'll get a momentary pleasure but
afterwards I'll feel worse."
Above are some of my Response Cards.
The point of these cards are to remind you of why you are doing what you're doing & what you can do to support yourself during challenging/tempting situations.
And guess what? I am providing you with templates to download so you can make your own! There is even one for the vertical title pocket I made for the page as well! Whoop, whoop!!!
Now the templates are psd files. For the "Mind/Matter template the text has been rasterized and you can use a color overlay to change it to the color of your choice. You can also choose your own patterned paper to insert as well. Download the "mind/matter" template by visiting my "freebies page."
The text on the Advantage and Response Card titles has been rasterized as well. Again you can use a color overlay to change the color. They are 4x6 cards. When you print them out, trim them down to measure 3.5x5.5. Then mount the title cards to the top of your cardstock. Download the templates by visiting my "freebies page."
The text on the Advantage and Response Cards themselves has NOT been rasterised (it is the same file for both cards). The bold font you see in orange is Helvetica Neue LT 97 Black Condensed Oblique, set at 24pt and 21pt leading. The smaller font in gray is Helvetica Neue LT 57 Condensed Oblique, set at 10pt and Auto leading. If you do not have this font on your computer, your program will replace it with something else upon opening. They are 4x6 cards. When you print them out, trim them down to measure 3.75x5.75. This size allows the cards to be slipped into the pockets easily. Download the template by visiting my "freebies page."
I placed this page on the right side of my album. I needed something for the facing page and wanted it to be motivational. So I altered one of the templates that Cathy Zielske provided in her class and did this:
The text came from an ad for Athleta clothing I saw in Real Simple Magazine. I find it empowering. It's the perfect compliment to the "Mind Over Matter" page. I cannot provide you with this particular template, as it was part of the class that I paid for. But for those of you who are participating in MMEW, you should be able to alter yours and feel free to copy what I did.
Have a healthy week!