Tips For Healthier Eating and Weight Loss – Inspired By Japan

I recently got back from a trip to Japan and I couldn’t have had a more wonderful time. Of the many reasons I was excited to go (primarily to see friends and to train in my Martial Art), I knew that I would also have the opportunity to reset my eating habits…and I was really looking forward to that.

The truth is, I’m one of the healthiest eaters I know – it isn’t only about my wanting to achieve specific results (though that’s part of it), but also because my body is very finicky about what it needs and wants. For example, if I eat processed foods I actually feel ill – lethargic, puffy, stomach ache, the whole bit. Complex carbohydrates are fine but simple ones have the same negative effects. And then there’s those times where I wait too long (in excess of two or three hours) to eat – I get puffy, abdominal pain, headaches… It’s awful! I always do my best to manage it, and believe it’s my body expecting / needing food, but not having any.

Therefore…traveling for me can sometimes be anxiety-inducing because I’m concerned I’ll not feel as good as I do when I’m able to follow my at-home regime. I knew, however, that Japanese people eat very fresh foods and very well. I packed a plethora of snacks just in case (and remarkably didn’t need them all) but I knew I’d be able to find some healthy options (yes, even in spite of lots of noodles and tempura!)

If I eat “so well,” then why did I want a reset? I historically can eat massive portions…and there are several reasons that’s not the greatest idea. Giant portions, notorious (even – ugh! – celebrated in the US) can mean the following:

  • Missing Satiety Signals – Eating beyond the point of fullness causes us to lose touch with the neural reflex we are hard-wired to have (in other words, our “satiety signals”)
  • Excess Calories – As a result of missing our cue, we continue to eat which equates to a lot of extra calories our bodies don’t need
  • Reinforcing Bad Habits – We also, therefore, reinforce the habit of overeating
  • A Bigger Stomach – And overeating over an extended period (not just holidays, but longer-term habitually eating of too-large portions) actually can extend the stomach. BAD NEWS

Going to Japan was a welcome change – I knew that my schedule wouldn’t permit me to necessarily eat as frequently, or eat as large meals as I am accustomed to. I was THRILLED that would be the case because I felt like I need a kick in the butt to get me going.

After coming home…I feel like I’m in better shape. On top of that? My stomach didn’t hurt ONCE! I felt better in Japan that I do at home…and I feel better at home than anywhere else. For me, that’s miraculous. 

So what if you AREN’T taking a trip but you want to lose weight, or to reset your own less-than-healthy habits, you ask? Here are a few tips that can help you on the path, without you ending up starving…

1. UTENSILS CAN CHANGE THE GAME

Yes, seriously… Switching to chopsticks, a la the Japanese, will slow you (and your chompers!) down. If chopsticks feel like too much of a struggle, try a smaller utensil! Try using a much smaller fork or spoon and you will find that you are also forced to slow things down, allowing for the proper, full chewing of food as we are meant to do. You will also take less in each bite, which will ensure you can enjoy and taste what you are having…not just stuff your face and ingest mindlessly.

2. PICK YOUR DISH / BOWL / GLASS WISELY

As with smaller utensils, a smaller serving dish (bowl, plate, cup, what have you) can significantly help your cause. I typically use a large bowl…which always ends up with me needing to fill it to the brim. When I use a smaller bowl and fill that, I not only have the illusion of a lot of food, but I am eating less…which gives me the chance to get full, and not overstuff myself with extra calories.

3. GIVE YOURSELF A MINUTE

We often will “still feel hungry” after a meal. That’s great but it isn’t always an accurate assessment – our body needs a couple of minutes (20 is often suggested) to register our meal fully. If after that time you are still hungry, try a glass of water, wait a few more minutes, and then have a piece of fruit or a healthy (small) snack. No one ever NEEDED a caloric, unhealthy dessert, let’s be honest. There are healthy and delicious options out there to keep you on track (and of course, once in a while, it’s okay to indulge. We are talking about the larger picture and consistency here.)

4. LISTEN!

Listen to your body. When you take your time (the three points above can help you!) you are more apt to hear the “OKAY! WE’RE FULL! Don’t need more nutrients right now!” signal. STOP when you are feeling / hearing that alarm bell – you can always have more later on (leftovers are delicious! 🙂 ) And, if your out, you can always ask to take the rest home – forcing food down your gullet is never a good thing.

5. FOCUS ON THE GOAL AND BENEFITS – YOU WANT TO LOSE / MAINTAIN FOR A GREAT REASON

There are a ton of reasons why eating healthy is important, and why you should make the effort. It isn’t only about how we look – it’s about FEELING great about ourselves and internally. It’s about aging well and staving off unnecessary ailments that do not have to be associated with growing older.

It’s also about operating at a higher level and being able to not only function well, but optimally…at work, at home, in our extracurricular activities etc.. You deserve to feel great on every level! To deny ourselves that opportunity or to make excuses is a huge disservice to ourselves, and the body we have been given.

Having watched my almost-87-year-old Grandmaster demonstrate Martial Arts techniques this past week was inspiring and beyond – his grace, the fluidity and power in his movement, his accuracy… I want to be like that at 87…and so I take FULL responsibility of treating my body and mind as well as I can NOW, so I can get to that point too.

PS: My Grandmaster paints during the break in class. Sips his tea and keeps his mind and body active. AWESOME.

The American way of life when it comes to food is one I’m not ultra fond of. I was when I was about 12 and figure skating hours a week…I could do it then. But I have to accept the reality that I’m NOT that active, not that young, and therefore I don’t have that metabolism. That’s OKAY. It just means I have to approach eating a little bit differently – food is one of the fun aspects of life! We don’t have to be miserable or miss out at all. But it is important to recognize that the fuel we put in the tank matters…and that no one else is responsible for our health except us.

I loved having the opportunity to shift my habits a bit, and I’m working on the very tips I outlined here. We know ourselves better than anyone – how we feel, how our clothes fit, how we are doing overall. A doctor can certainly tell us, but I don’t want to wait to hear something bad from someone certified! I’d rather take the bull by the horns…

There’s inspiration everywhere – the Japanese are a culture of healthy bodies, and it’s noteworthy. A mediterranean approach is another wonderful way of life also…and that’s really the key here. It’s a WAY OF LIFE. There are some incredibly healthy cultures out there (Japanese is consistently among the top ten), so it’s worth taking a look. America is a phenomenal place to be for many reasons, but we aren’t as great when it comes to health…and a monstrous portion of that comes from what / when / how the population ingests food.

 

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Heavy Metal Humor

A woman at the skating rink recently said, “Oh, you don’t have to wear your iPod! You’re welcome to put some of your music on – we alternate!” She was utterly joyful and eager to share the sound system…until I said, “oh no, that’s okay. I like heavy metal.”

With a “just kidding” kind of laugh she replied, “you can keep your iPod!”

🙂

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Who’s He!?

My husband and I often laugh about a clip from The Wolf Of Wall Street where one of the characters is trying to get a synopsis of a television show from his wife – much to his displeasure, she begins (rather poorly) explaining, leaving out some pertinent details and classifiers. Check out the video – at 0:50, you’ll see what I mean.)=

I do this all the time! It isn’t at all that I’m not focused, or that I haven’t any clue what’s going on…or that I have the desire to befuddle your mind. My brain simply goes into “understood-you” mode where it omits what IT thinks are obvious details.

*Whispering with a cupped hand to my mouth* To anyone but my Geminian brain, most of those “obvious details” aren’t obvious at all! My thoughts race with such rapidity sometimes that I feel like my cerebrum is an F1 track. Exhausting! 

Interestingly, though, there are occasions when I TRY to slow down and wind up frustrated – at times I am so excited or eager to communicate that I feel like the extra (as in: important / key) points slow me down like drag in a wind tunnel.

I also love communication so much that when I go down one path my brain (chances are) has already made about 50 other (what it thinks are relevant and exciting!) connections… Being the center-o-my-being, it has this funny way of hijacking my vocal chords whereby I being verbalizing a multitude of threads simultaneously. If you’re a Gemini, you’ll follow along nicely. If not, you’ll need to have luck in your corner, or answer to the name Sherlock.

So I came across these posts and started to laugh… 

Also par for the course, I suppose…

Rather a funny image I thought. My poor husband and family! But then, what’s life if you can’t poke fun at yourself?! 😉

 

“AS IF” – The Key To Magic And Manifesting (Yes, Really!)

It’s a simple phrase – two words, to be exact – but it can have a profound effect on how your life unfolds. I’ll share an example below…

It is a human problem to get caught up in “should,” in “what is,” and “what could be” – everyone projects at times, and everyone worries. We also often mix up what we can change with the multitude of external influences that we can’t. Here’s a not-so-secret secret:

CONTROL WHAT WE CAN – US

Yes, I know…humbling. But, so true. We have absolutely ZERO control over anything but ourselves. Don’t lose hope, throw in the towel, or begin assuming that means we are on a predestined path-‘o’-doom just yet, though. We aren’t! By controlling ourselves – the only sphere in which we truly have power – we are able to affect what goes on around us.

The ever-awesome Serenity Prayer

Think of the ability to impact our surroundings, therefore, as the positive byproduct of managing ourselves (our reactions, our responses, our non-responses, our attitude, our actions…) It’s kind of like lead by example…only the student to follow suit in this case is destiny...

OUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE MATTERS

As per my post yesterday, Speak Victory, Not Defeat, the conversations we have internally can literally map out how our path unfolds before us. Positive thinking, energy, and words can – oh yes, quite literally! – attract the good you are hoping for. Ever heard “be careful what you wish for”? There’s a reason people say it…because enough people have experienced the “hoping-for-the-worst-and-that’s-exactly-what-happened!” Another sterling example of how life is shaped by the input we provide it – I’m willing to bet you’ve been there.

The energy we put out tells the Universe what we want – without judgment it tries to match our “desires.” The intense focus and power we give to our thoughts is like handing over a blueprint to the powers that be. “Thoughts become things,” they say… Yes. They do.

SHIFT OURSELVES, SHIFT THE UNIVERSE

I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to buffer oneself against disappointment, by the way. I also don’t think it’s necessary that we lower our standards. Rather, it’s about altering our own perceptions and expectations. When we see and expect great things, they often find their way to us. When we don’t, life can become a merciless tidal wave. 

So how do we shift that little thing called the Universe? We rephrase. Instead of “I can’t afford that,” we could say “I have more than enough to do all the things I want and need to do.” Instead of “I can’t” try, “I can do anything I put my mind to – I attract positive opportunities all the time.” 

Here’s an example from my own life…

Somewhere around three weeks after meeting my husband, I told him a story about magic and miracles. Until I finished speaking, I’m not sure he knew I was referring to him…

We were having dinner at a diner in our hometown, and I remember – wholly unabashedly – explaining how I had (only a few months before) announced to the Universe that I was all-in for a change. A complete overhaul. I was so committed to being happy and healthy, that nothing was to stand in my way. I had decided that either:

  1. I’d go through life solo, and be 1,000% okay with that (and I was) OR…
  2. I’d meet a man who was everything I ever hoped for, and the man I would marry.

Yes, I was that specific.

And…even more so…

I made a vision board and described – to a T – the man I was sitting with that night, and the man I married one Halloween a year and a half later. I described qualities that I so desperately wanted in a partner, but ones I never had. I described a man who was loyal, honest, gentle with my heart, accepting of me in spite of my quirks, who would respect and love me more with each day. I described the kind of person who would be as excited about my passions as I was, for no other reason that they brought me joy. I described the kind of man anyone would want in their corner because he’d have a heart brighter than the sun…

And then? I took it further. I embraced the “AS IF.”

New Years passed and I not only continued to remain committed to myself, but I made it a point to practice daily. I thought about what it would be like to come home to someone who was actually happy to see me at the end of the day…because no one else ever was. I acted AS IF that actually happened, and I’d hear him in my mind coming home and speaking to me with kindness. I’d make myself feel what it would feel like to be held, and loved, and cherished…AS IF I already had those things.

I not only focused, thought, spoke aloud…but I believed. I believed I was worthy and deserving. I believed those things AS IF. It took some practice as I had not known what such things felt like…but I did everything in my power to try.

I remember the look he had in his eyes when I finished speaking that evening. I remember my voice saying that I had dreamed so deeply that my thoughts became real, and that in a moment of magical manifestation, he walked out of a snow storm and through the door at the coffee shop where we met. I remember the hug he gave me before I got into the car after dinner, and the feeling of safety, comfort, warmth, and joy.

STAY IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT

I was never the kind of person who needed to be in a relationship. I never felt that I needed to be “completed,” and I wasn’t desperate to be in another situation after so many that had failed. I was a shell of a person for a long time, and it still takes work to be a better human being each day – something I ever strive for. But I decided that the only thing that would hold me back is ME – my thoughts, energy, action, and words. I needed to do an about-face, jump back on the positive bandwagon, and to act AS IF the things I wanted had already come to pass. When I did, my life shifted dramatically…

I remember, also, when I shifted jobs earlier on in my career – I remember whenever I started to feel unappreciated, not challenged enough, or that I wasn’t growing on the trajectory I had set for myself, something else came along. When I think about it, I was envisioning being promoted, or being eagerly offered something new. And opportunities always managed to materialize. Maybe I was young and felt naively impervious – that may be true. But I recall not having the sense that I couldn’t – it just felt like opportunity was there and I could have it. (I also, by the way, remember leaving my last job in Fashion…which was horribly unpleasant. It was, however, something I sincerely believe I wished for.” Tale for another day, but let’s just say, I was heard by someone upstairs!)

Life is tumultuous and we have no way of knowing what is to come. We can stay worried and stressed, which is a horrible way to exist (we rob ourselves of joy and the ability to experience life!) OR…we can practice positivity and act AS IF. Trust me, I’m working on it too – being an Empath means I feel my own emotions (rather loudly!) and everyone else’s too. I have to work at not taking things that aren’t mine, and finding the space to breathe. But…I DO. I turn the radio down and talk to myself ALL. THE. TIME. I make it a habit to say something nice to myself, and to act AS IF as much as I can. Even when we know it’s the best way to be, it isn’t easy! But…it’s possible, and it’s the “possible” we want to aim for.

IN SUMMARY:

  1. Focus on what you can change, not on what you can’t. That means getting to know YOU intimately.
  2. Speak victory! Try shifting perceptions and expectations to GOOD and GREAT. Expect wonderful and you might just find yourself having a better day, or presented with exciting opportunities.
  3. Think about times when you got what you “wished for” – good, bad, otherwise. This might reveal quite a lot…
  4. Rephrase everything you say and think to positive statements.
  5. Remember that you are worthy and deserving of good things.
  6. Picture all the wonderful things you want in your life AS IF you already have them. Be specific. Be clear. Focused intention can bring about miracles.
  7. DON’T GIVE UP! Keep practicing. Fake it until you make it. It takes time to shift our thinking but…everything is possible, and the Universe will follow suit.

🙂

 

 

 

 

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