Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is real--tired, stressed, bored, sad, even joy can lead to excessive eating. 

Feeling a lack of control can also contribute.

That’s me. Something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, and something I have been working tirelessly on over the last 12 months. When unforeseen circumstances arise that are out of my control, I take immediate action. I try to remedy. Try to regain control.

When I cannot fix it, when the situation simply is what it is, that’s my trigger.

The truth is once we enter a state of emotional eating it’s almost impossible to to stop. It also brings about very real feelings of guilt and shame.

The key to breaking the emotional eating cycle is to understand your emotions, and the factors that typically lead to the act, and rather than eating to cope, dive in fully and change your actions.

First, just stop. Breathe.

Take a look inward and understand what it is that you’re feeling. Being able to name our emotions as they’re happening has actually been proven to diminish the intensity of it.

Be as specific as possible. For example, when I was in the middle of my divorce, I was feeling A LOT. So rather than stating a very general, “I feel sad,” I would challenge myself to go deeper. What I was really feeling — absolutely terrified that no one will ever deem me worthy of love or being faithful to. That no one will ever want me, and I am going to be alone for the rest of my life.

Go deeper to lessen the intensity of what you’re feeling, and show yourself compassion. Acknowledge what you’re feeling, and tell yourself it’s ok to feel that way. There is no reason to feel any guilt or shame for feeling this. Remind yourself that it will pass; what you’re feeling is not a permanent state.

When I was first practicing this, I would write it all in a journal. I carried my journal and a pen with me wherever I went, because when I was in the thick of divorce, starting over as a single mother, and my mother’s cancer, big emotions would hit at random throughout the day.

Just like anything, it takes practice. I’ve taken myself through this so many times, it’s second nature at this point. I no longer need the journal.

Now, what factors have lead to your emotional eating?

Who were you with?

What were you doing?

What was your stress level?

Did you sleep well?

Remaining mindful in an emotional state is key. Reacting to a feeling is immediate, it’s an emotional state in itself. It’s not based on thought. Responding, on the other hand, requires thought. It requires mindfulness and understanding. It requires compassion.

Understand your patterns.

To break the emotional eating cycle you also want to understand what your typical patterns are. For most, emotional eating is a habit engrained by repetition. They go into autopilot and reach for the same foods time and time again.

So what is your pattern? Do you go to the grocery store? The drive through? Is it food you keep at home regularly?

Once you identify your patterns you can take action to break them. 

Creating new patterns and habits, and breaking old ones takes a tremendous amount of practice and time. Yes, you will stumble. Yes, it is going to feel hard. Some days will feel impossible. But it will get better. It’s only a failure if you stop trying. When you quit, that’s when you fail. But if you get back up and continue to press forward, you will make progress, and it will get better. I am living proof of that.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” - Calvin Coolidge



5 Tips to Navigate the Holidays

This time of year isn't always the easiest. From Thanksgiving through the New Year, people tend to struggle, so I had some thoughts I wanted to share on the matter.

1. What you do the majority of the time is what matters most, not what happens over a few holiday events. So, if leading up to your holiday parties and events, you're eating well 80-90% of the time, and getting 3-4 workouts in per week, you're going to be just fine. 

As I like to tell my clients, 80-90% compliance done consistently is ALWAYS going to be more effective than inconsistent perfection.

2. Do YOUR best, and "best" is going to look different for everyone. For myself, I like to stick to my foundational health habits to get me through this time of year. I know that if I'm at least accomplishing these things, I'll be able to bounce back and get into my routine with more ease.

- Build each meal around a quality protein and LOTS of non-starchy veggies.

- Move daily.

- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

- Prioritize sleep.

3. Keep moving daily. This doesn't mean I'm expecting you to hit the gym and crush a high intensity workout every day. It can be as simple as getting out of the house and going for a 20 min walk. I know each one of you can commit to a walk, at the very least.

Really, what I want is for you to move your body in a meaningful way daily. And that can look however you want it to. Just move.

4. Avoid going off the rails with your diet. It can be incredibly difficult to swing the momentum back in the direction of health and wellness when you've let yourself go completely. It's not impossible, but again, much easier to get back to your routine when you've practiced eating moderately.

5. NO GUILT. Regardless of how the next two weeks play out, the absolute last thing I want for any of you is guilt and shame surrounding your food or activity choices. Your progress will not be made in a single workout or single meal. It is a cumulative effort. What matters most is what you do once the events are over. All those other days, the days where there are no events, and you're living normally, those are the days where progress is made or lost.

Regardless of how the next two weeks play out, I want you to enjoy the hell out of them. Enjoy each bite, enjoy the time spent with the ones you love, and enjoy having a break from the normal day-to-day.

And for those of you who struggle actually being around your family this time of year, or for those who might feel their loneliness exemplified by lack of family, I am truly sorry. Stay strong, and please know that you are not alone. You will get through this and life will be back to normal soon.

“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” - Brene Brown

It’s in the darkness that our light can shine the brightest.



Chia Seed Pudding

I have been playing with chia seeds lately (I know, I’m late to the party), but this little beauty is a powerhouse.

A one-ounce (28 grams/about 2 Tbsp) serving of chia seeds contains:

Fiber: 11 grams.

Protein: 4 grams.

Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).

Calcium: 18% of the RDI.

Manganese: 30% of the RDI.

Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.

Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.

They also contain a decent amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.

They are also high in antioxidants. Antioxidants fight the production of free radicals, which can damage cell molecules and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.

They are also incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. This little pudding recipe is a prime example, and it doesn’t not disappoint.


Recipe = 1 serving

8 oz almond cashew milk

2 scoops vanilla plant protein (mine is a blend of pea, hemp, and quinoa)

2 Tbsp chia seeds

1/4 c blueberries

1/4 c raspberries

Shake and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Feel free to put your own spin on it. Try different protein powders, add different fruit, etc.

I’ve been enjoying them in the evening as a dessert, but they also make for an easy grab-and-go breakfast if you’re in a rush.

Whip a few of them up, and make sure to use the hashtag #liftandlovelife so I can show you some love.



The Many Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut has become one of my favorites. It has so many uses, it's kind of like duct tape. I always buy several jars at a time, so I never run out completely. Below I’ve listed my main uses, and the benefits of it, for you guys, but feel free to comment below if you have uses you think other readers might find useful.

Eat it.

Assuming you don't already have a heart condition, coconut oil can actually have heart health benefits. Any recipe calling for vegetable oil can be replaced with coconut oil. It has a high heat tolerance, so it’s great for stir-frying. It’s also great for baking, or as a dairy-free replacement to butter.

You can take it as a supplement for daily energy.

Add to your coffee as a dairy-free creamer.

It’s high Lauric acid and MCFA content helps boost metabolism and to utilize fat for fuel, it can help improve cholesterol ratios and insulin levels, it’s an immediate source of energy when eaten and isn’t stored as fat, it improves brain function, and it has been shown to increase absorption of calcium and magnesium.

Body lotion and facial moisturizer.

Rub coconut oil into the skin as a basic lotion. It actually helps to increase sun tolerance and avoid burning, and it has a naturally occurring SPF of 4. It can help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, help skin heal faster after injury or infection, and relieve sun burns, poison oak, and bug bites.

As a facial moisturizer it can help reduce the signs of aging, heal acne, and can lighten age spots. I use a facial moisturizer with a higher SPF during the day, and the coconut oil at night as a deep moisturizer.

It also works to protect a baby's bum from diaper rash, by creating a protective barrier.

Eye-makeup remover.

Place a couple drops on a cotton ball and rub onto eye lids. It will help break up the makeup so you can then wash your face without adding the harmful chemicals of store-bought eye-makeup remover.

Oil pulling.

It’s weird, but it works. The whole idea is that the oil is able to cut through plaque and remove toxins without disturbing the teeth or gums.

Take 1-2 Tbs and swish in mouth for 20 minutes. No more, and no less. (I usually do it when I’m in the shower). Spit oil (and toxins) into the garbage, rinse mouth with warm water, and then brush teeth.

Your hair.

Put a tiny dab in your hands, rub together, and smooth through hair. It will help get rid of friz and prevent split ends. You can also use it as an incredibly intensive natural conditioner. Rub it into dry hair, put a shower cap on, leave for several hours, and then shampoo and condition as normal.



How to De-Bloat Quickly

So you over-indulged… Now what? The last thing you should do is feel guilty, or punish yourself with brutal workouts and/or severely restricting food. I happened. Time to move the hell on.

It happens to everyone, even us fitness pros. You go on vacation, attend a wedding, celebrate your birthday, and you don’t stick to your nutritional plan (because you’re human, and life is meant to be enjoyed), and now you’re feeling bloated, lethargic, and gassy. Well, I have good news.

I can help.

I’ve got a few strategies to help you overcome the nutritional debauchery you engaged in. You can use just one, or intermix them, it’s really going to be based on how you feel while doing them.


I know, a few lines up I literally said not to punish yourself with severely restricting food, but intention is everything. That bloat you’re experiencing is due to digestive discomfort. You probably ate some foods that were irritating to your digestive tract and now you’re suffering the consequences. Fasting, in this sense, is not meant to be a punishment, but as a way to give your poor body a break from digesting altogether. You can safely fast for 12-36 hrs. If you’re new to fasting, start small. If you have a bit more experience, and already know you feel good while fasting, go for the longer time.

Fasting should make you feel more aware and lighter. It should be a pleasant experience. If you can’t keep your mind off food, are having headaches, and not feeling well; it’s time to break the fast and eat.

Stick to liquids.

This is not my attempt to plug some idiotic juice cleanse. I absolutely do not recommend doing them, (Adam Bornstein sums it up nicely here).

Again, digestive discomfort. Food in liquid form is MUCH easier for your body to digest. I recommend using a high quality protein as your shake base, and then add whole, nutritionally dense foods; fruits, veggies (avoid the cruciferous stuff; broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), ground flax seed, coconut oil, and cacao nibs.

You’ll be eliminating the irritating foods and giving your digestive system a little help by giving it a liquid diet, rather than actually eating the whole foods.

And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The more water, the better.

Helpful supps.

Glutamine and probiotics can both be helpful with bloating. Glutamine has been seen to actually help heal an irritated digestive tract, and the probiotics bring the good bacteria back to your gut, which will help get things moving again.

Cut the crap.

Stick to foods you know make your belly feel good. Any foods you know cause distress, you should avoid as much as possible, but at the very least, for the next few days after you overindulged. Keep your sodium intake to a minimum as well.

I hope you find these strategies useful, as travel and wedding season are upon us. Go out there, eat clean, train hard, and enjoy your indulgences when they occur. Don’t let them set you back.