Saturday, January 7, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 7

Don’t you just love weekends? Wouldn’t life be more wonderful if all weekends had three days or more? I suppose even if they were three days we would still want them to be longer though as it is human nature to want what you don’t have. While this weekend is only two days I am still happy that it arrived. The weather has been gorgeous all day and that meant that we were out of the house most of the day. *happy dance*

I have been enjoying writing the recap of what we have accomplished so far because I find it very encouraging and I hope you do as well. Here are the tasks we tackled during the first 6 days of January:

Day 1 – Defined Success and What is/was Holding Us Back

Day 2 – Determined our Purpose and Looked at Passion

Day 3 – Listed Our Goals for January

Day 4 – Listed the Things We Have Needed to Work on for a While

Day 5 – Looked at Optimism vs. Pessimism and Fear vs. Intuition

Day 6 – Practiced Conscious Eating

How are you feeling about the posts so far? Are you looking at your actions and attitudes any differently? What have you found the most useful? Personally the first day was the most profound for me. However it was also useful for me to list the things that I know I have been avoiding. I hope you are getting as much out of these posts as I am.

Hara Hachi Bu:

Today’s concept is related to conscious eating but is a different angle. Hara hachi bu is the Japanese principle of eating until you are satisfied, but not stuffed. You will see it translated as eating until you are 80% full. Since many American’s eat too fast, and consequently too much I thought this would be a good thing for us to discuss. If it is correct, as I have read many times, that once the stomach is full it takes 20 minutes for the signal to reach the brain then this concept makes sense for all of us to try. The reason that I decided to write about this separately was something that I noticed not long ago when we were out for dinner which I want to share with you.

As you probably have realized by now I am a people watcher. I tend to look around to see what is happening around me. I think that there is so much we can learn about ourselves from observing others so I take every chance to learn that I can. I find that the things which I focus on in others are always things that I need to think about for myself. Basically like the pot calling the kettle black if you are familiar with that old cliché.

Let me get to the story so this makes sense for you. About 15 feet away from us at the restaurant was another couple out for dinner on Christmas Eve. They were about my age, late 40s or early 50s. I noticed that they seemed happy and were chatting a lot when they first sat down and it made me smile to see another happy couple. :-) So often I notice people bickering but this couple was definitely enjoying each other and I love to see that. However once the food arrived their behavior quickly changed dramatically. The husband was eating as though he had not eaten in a week. As soon as he had a bite of food in his mouth he was loading up his fork for his next bite. I was not sure that he even swallowed one bite before he had put the next one in his mouth. I know I should not have been watching but I couldn’t look away. All I could think of was that he couldn’t possibly taste his food, enjoying it or noticing much of anything about his meal. It was so sad for me to watch this because I find eating can be a joy. However when I reflected on what I had seen I realized that there has been many times in my life where I have done the exact same thing. I was trying to eat in between appointments, while driving (which I don’t do now), or while watching a DVD. I realized that I needed to write something about unconscious eating and listening to your body.

Yesterday we covered eating consciously and with intention. The goal was to pay attention to what we were consuming. Today the idea is to pay close attention to our body as we eat. The distinction is slight but I hope you see the difference.

There are few ways you can go about practicing hara hachi bu. The easiest way, but by no means traditional, is to start reducing your portion sizes intentionally. I did this and found that I was satisfied with a much smaller quantity of food than I had been eating. You can reduce your portions a little or a lot to see what works for you. In addition to feeling satisfied with less your stomach shrinks because you are not constantly stretching it out with big meals. If you can eat less and this shrinks your stomach in the process imagine what this will do for your health.

The other approach, which many Americans will find much more difficult, is to get in touch with how your body feels while you are eating. As much as I love this stuff this one took me a while to master. I had been so programmed to eat what was on my plate that the idea of stopping before the plate was empty was tough for me. That is why I decided to simply serve myself less at first. The smaller portions taught me that I was satisfied with less food. As I also consciously worked to put my fork down between bites, chew my food extremely thoroughly and starting listening to my body I began to understand the concept of hara hachi bu more completely. If you can start this exercise by listening to your body that is wonderful. You are better than I am. ;-) But if like me that doesn’t work right away, simply feed yourself less and try to slow down eating. You will get to the same result in the end.

Your exercise for today is to either:

1) Intentionally serve yourself less food to determine if you are satisfied with less.

2) Eat slowly and consciously while listening to your body and stop when you are satisfied but not full.

Tips to make this exercise more successful:

1) Eat without distraction.

2) Intentionally engage all your senses in the experience (hearing, sight, smell, touch as well as taste)

3) Put your utensils down between bites.

4) Thoroughly chew each mouthful of food.

5) Don’t put another mouthful of food into your mouth (or even onto you fork) until you have swallowed the one that was in your mouth.

Once you have finished this exercise write down what it taught you about yourself. I discovered the following:

1) By taking my time the overall experience of eating was richer and that included the taste of the food.

2) Smelling the food before putting it into my mouth also enhanced the experience. Apparently “they” are right that a lot of our taste is in our olfactory senses.

3) I was satisfied with much less food when eating like this, it felt like taking my time caused me to more thoroughly process the experience of eating.

4) As much as I enjoyed eating like this while alone it won’t be something that I do this same way when I am out. I am not one who likes to be a spectacle in public and I think this would be an attention getter in a bad way.

One of the things that I discovered when I starting doing this was that I was an unconscious eater. I found out that I was more likely to eat what was on my plate rather than to listen to my body. In fact I didn’t really seem to listen to my body until I was uncomfortable. I hope you find this exercise to be as valuable as I did.

If you want to share what this is experience is like for you I would love to hear it. I was surprised by how much I learned when I did this. :-)

Progress on my goals:

1. Newsletters – No progress on this goal on Friday. Instead I spent time enjoying my mindfulness meditation course which I now seem to be thoroughly addicted to. It is nice to be addicted to a healthy thing which isn't always the case for me.

2. Body Bugg – five days in a row wearing my bugg and going strong.

3. Date with Dan – Dan came home early on Friday which was very nice. There is nothing like spending more time with my hubby

4. Measuring calorie dense food – I am still doing this, and it continues to annoy me less each day. Not sure how long I will do this, but for now it is reminding me to add more seeds and nuts.

5. Working on my business – No progress on this goal on Friday. Instead I spent time enjoying my mindfulness meditation course.

Are you making progress on your goals? I continue to review mine each morning after I finish my reading and meditation and it seems to help me move through my day with intention. Now when I don’t work on one or two of my goals it is a conscious choice. Friday it was more important to me to spend time with the mindful meditation course. It was good for me to be able to make a choice that was counter to my to-do list since I am such a perfectionist. If you are also a recovering a perfectionist I am sure you get this, but the rest of you are probably completely confused. Sorry about that. ;-)

Random Observations:

I mention often that Dan and I talk a lot and when I say a lot I actually mean for hours at a time. We try to talk about big picture things though sometimes it is more nonsense. Saturday morning we watched the first lesson in the mindfulness meditation course on DVD because I wanted Dan to share this with me. After the lecture we talked about what we both got out of it. This led to a conversation about things that I like and don’t like about myself. Since I don’t want any of you to think that I am perfect, because I am far from perfect, I want to share some of the things that I don’t like about me. I am hoping that by reading this you will realize that we all have stuff that we don’t like about ourselves and that may never change. What is important is what we do with this information. Hopefully this will make more sense after you read my “complaints”.

The things that I don’t like about myself include:

1) I am not happy with my body. I want to lose more weight and to be much more fit.

2) I don’t like looking in the mirror and seeing grey hair and sagging skin.  Isn't aging grand?  NOT

3) I want to be able to learn to accept and be happy with myself exactly as I am now.

4) Someday I want to learn to forgive people who have treated me badly. This is a biggie for me since I have a very long memory.

5) While being a perfectionist has its positives I want to learn to let that go and be content with what I have achieved so far.

6) I want to live in the now and to spend less time thinking about the past and the future.

7) Even though I say that I want to be healthy there are things that I know that I should be doing which don’t make it to the top of my priority list. This one really bugs me!

Are you starting to get the idea? I could literally go on for hours listing the things that I don’t like about myself. However listing them doesn’t exactly do anything to make me feel better about myself now does it? I have decided to keep a running list of the things that I want to work on in my binder. I will work on one of them at a time until I feel like I have made some/enough progress. Then I will move on to another and hopefully this way I won’t become overwhelmed.

Now it is your turn to think about what you don’t like about yourself. Sorry! Since none of us are happy with everything about ourselves I am sure that you also have things on your "I don’t like this about myself" list. Try to simply write these items down without emotion. We shouldn’t be judging ourselves or getting down because we don’t measure up to our own expectations. All we are trying to do is to get these things on paper so that we have a starting point, a list to work from.

Additionally don’t try to tackle more than one of these items at a time. If you are like me I imagine these “issues” have been with you a long time. The goals are to accept who you are, flaws and all, and learn to love yourself. Try to remember that you judge yourself far more harshly than other judge you at least that is true for me. I also find it useful to remind myself that while I have things about me that I want to work on knowing what they are is most of the battle. Many people go through life without introspection. This still boggles my mind I might add. If you have things about you that you want to fix congratulations. You are more enlightened that many people in the world. Go you! *huge smile*


Dan was very happy to have a green smoothie for breakfast today. Who is this man? In all seriousness, I am so happy that he has embraced healthy food. :-)

I decided to also make myself a green smoothie for breakfast. After all the Vitamix was already dirty so why not right? There is nothing like a little raw kale in the morning.  This is old photo I took of a green smoothie on the boat.  Soon we will be enjoying those here again.  :-)

For lunch on Friday I was back to the same Ezekiel wrap I had yesterday but this one I ate more like a pizza and I added cucumber slices to it  Sorry for the lack of focus on this.  Apparently I should have used a tripod.  Anything with hummus and raw veggies is bound to be one of my favorites.

I also had a small bowl of the mushroom risotto from yesterday.  I love those little beaded spoons in case you hadn't noticed.  It is probably in my head but I think food tastes better from a nice plate or bowl and with a pretty utensil.  ;-)

Since I didn’t have dinner last night (I was full from lunch) I asked Dan what he wanted me to make him and he actually said a chocolate green smoothie. Really! I am not exaggerating when I said that he loves them. Go Dan! You are my hero. ;-)

Happy thoughts:

• It was great to get this post started Friday evening. That might not sound like a big deal to you but I spend quite a bit of time writing these so any time I can get a head start that takes the pressure off me a little. Knowing that we were going to spend time at the boat on Saturday I knew anything I could do Friday would help. While Dan had his smoothie I got a head start on the blog.

• What a gorgeous day we had on Saturday. At 3pm it was 66 degrees in January. What the heck? If I didn’t know better I would think we moved. It was absolutely amazing to enjoy the boat without a coat in January. What a treat.

• Dan bought me a new laptop today. I needed it since Dragon was causing my old laptop to lock up. I am so lucky to have a husband that is good with technology. While it may appear that I am also good with technology that is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. If it weren’t for my wonderful hubby I would be completely lost.

• Lunch today was Vietnamese food (from Me Kong Delta Cafe) which was delicious like always. Dan and I both thought we better get it now before Luan and his family close for a month to celebrate the lunar New Year. Today is the last day they are open and then they reopen on February 21st. Poor Dan he is already in a mourning period over no Vietnamese for more than a month. I guess I need to start making him some spring rolls to take to work for lunch. Our tofu spring rolls were delicious, BTW. ;-)

• The sunset tonight from the boat was nice.  The  two pictures above, and the one at the top of the post, were taken this evening from our boat. We both enjoy sitting in the cockpit and watching the sky change colors. There is no better way to spend the evening than watching Mother Nature put on her evening light show. The water fowl were kind enough to sing us a song as the sun went down. :-)

Signing Out:

Sorry this post is a little later than normal. We were spending time enjoying the beautiful weather at the boat which meant that I wasn’t in the cabin and logged in. I think it is important to do things everyday which feed your soul. That activity for me today was enjoying the boat.

For those of you who want to know what is coming up for tomorrow that post will be about taking the stress out of mealtime. I will be sharing the tips and tricks that I use at mealtime which make my life easier.

I hope you are having a great Saturday and that you have some fun or relaxation planned for Sunday. Talk with you again tomorrow.

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