Tongue and Cheek
Feeling like something isn’t right? Maybe look at your tongue. The tongue can tell you if your colon is upset, if your lungs are damaged, and if you have a yeast infection.
If your tongue has a deep line or crack down the centre of it then your digestive system is out of whack. The digestive system is an incredible aid in your weight loss journey as the colon is the second brain.
Raised markings on your tongue can mean your kidneys are upset and that you are dehydrated. This can be helped by drinking lots more water and cutting back on pop and alcohol.
Creamy white spots on the tongue can mean a fungal infection or yeast infection.
A smooth tongue that does not have any bumps on it at all can mean that you are deficient in nutrients such as iron, folic acid, and B vitamins.
A white coating can be a sign of negative or bad bacteria in the gut (like leaky gut syndrome).
A pale tongue can be a sign of anemia.
If the tongue shakes when you stick it out then it is a sign there is a lot of stress on the liver.
A way to solve the majority of these problems is to drink more water. Drinking water can relax the colon and fix the digestive system to help with movement, thus relieving the crack down the centre of the tongue, the shaking, the tongue being pale, raised markings and white coating.
Drink lemon water to help replenish the body with vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help battle high blood pressure and chronic disease, heart disease and can help prevent gout, as well gives the tongue a good cleaning.
Humour V.S. Seriousness
Having a good sense of humour and a positive outlook is an incredible help with weight loss. Taking the positive approach can help you accept your lifestyle change, the challenges presented to you, and overall dealing with the ups and downs of weight loss.
A good sense of humour can be a helpful crutch that you can lean on when you feel uncomfortable, like when you are out with friends and everyone orders a burger and you get a salad with grilled chicken; say a joke to lighten the mood, address the new you, and move on. Doing this can make everyone, including yourself more comfortable to the new lifestyle change.
When is humour inappropriate though? When is it time to pull out the serious self? I remember when I was volunteering for vacation bible camp and there was a volunteer who laughed a lot… honestly a little too much. Everything that would happen, positive, negative, fun, irritating, she would giggle and laugh. At some points it was appropriate and fine but when there was a situation that needed a serious tone, like one of the kids refusing to listen, she would just giggle and shrug it off. This would give not only that kid, but other kids permission to act out and not listen to her and the rest of the volunteers, making everyone’s else (my) life harder.
So how does this apply to weight loss?
Friends are actually terrible at understanding what being supportive is, and most of the time being supportive to them means enabling you to cheat on your new lifestyle and have a good time. It is important to have a gentle yet firm grip on how you speak and address your new habits and lifestyle change. You can make fun of it at first but when the opportunity arises for someone to sabotage you, like offering you a slice of pizza, it is very important that you can say, “No. I’m not eating that any more.” This informs that friend and the friends around you to get the hint that you are actually being serious about your new you, and if they continue to push back keep your tone light but continue to insist that your foot is down on the subject and you are not lifting it for anyone, even them.
Even if you have the most positive personality or sense of humour, stress eats away at everything over time. When you feel yourself depleted of the ability to laugh and make fun and joke around and say no to temptation, then it is time for you to leave and for a time so you can replenish your positivity and self-control in order to come back, energized.
One of the fundamental aspects of being in a relationship is to do with mirroring. When we are mirrored it tells us subconsciously that we are okay. We all have mirror neurones in our brain and when someone mirrors us they; sit like us, they smile when we smile, they talk at a similar tone and pace, they eat the same things we eat; the same amount, at the same pace. This all tells us that we are okay.
These are low maintenance interactions. These actions are low maintenance because they do not take much effort at all. However, what happens if we are not mirrored? If we are not mirrored we can easily become exhausted. It feels like we really have to work hard and working hard in relationship wears us out. These interactions are high maintenance interactions, we do not feel that we are being mirrored so we have to work really hard in order to be able to get the responses that tells us we are okay. The results of not being mirrored are exhausting, that is because we have a limited supply of mental energy and a limited supply of physical endurance. This resulting exhaustion leads to the negative consequence of our own loss of self-control.
In order to minimize high maintenance interaction we conserve our mental endurance in relationship by talking in terms of stereotypes. Stereotypes are generalities of how we assess our environment. We sort everything into categories in order to not only help us understand our environment but as a mental conservation strategy, in order to keep our interactions low maintenance.
If we do not use this strategy and we suppress our use of stereotypes it takes a lot of mental energy in order just to communicate. It takes a lot of self-control for us to be able to do that, and in order to keep this up it actually starts to impact our self-control performance. It takes a huge amount of self-control to override how we look at people in the way in which we generalize by stereotype. When we look at people who are different than us it actually takes more self-control because this difference leads to a high maintenance interaction. More mental work is actually needed leading to deficits in our self-control because we are all naturally biased in our response to others.
So when we have to exert a lot of effort during the day because we interact with people who are different, then us it wears us out. We become exhausted, it takes a huge amount of mental work and self-control with difference, and because we are all limited in our supply of mental energy later on in the day, we just naturally have less self-control. When we try too hard to make a good impression then this is a high maintenance interaction, this is a stressful interaction, as well as anxiety provoking. We become mentally fatigued, mentally exhausted, and too tired to fight.
You might wonder how come it is that you can easily maintain self-control of what you eat during the day but at night find you have no self-control over your food consumption at all! This would be the reason why; you have exhausted yourself of your physical and mental energy endurance.
Early Stress Responses
When you think back on your childhood what memories do you have? The truth is some people have fantastic memories of their childhood and some can’t retrieve hardly any memories whatsoever. We all only remember some aspects of our childhood experiences. You do not actually have to be able to retrieve the memories but your body remembers the felt sense of your experiences.
So when you get in touch with your bodies felt sense what do you recall? Our behaviours also represent an exceedingly accurate memory system, behaviours that have been imprinted on us from our earliest stages of our development. This body memory system guides our behaviour all throughout our life and prepares our bodies for what shape we are going to be, how we look, as well as how well we are. Our brains stress response mechanisms have been programmed into us by these early experiences, these are unconscious memories that govern our attitudes, our behaviours, as well as our attitudes and behaviours towards ourself, others and the world.
There is a tendency of a common thread in the stories of people who are emotional eaters and these stories seem to congregate around loss or early relationships that were profoundly unfulfilling emotionally. These stories are of early childhood emotional deprivation whether they are to do with what might have happened at home between parent and child or siblings or on the school yard. Ratings of feelings of being loved have been found to be statistically significantly related to your resulting health later in life. These interactions with our environment program into us our physiological, social and psychological development. Emotional contact is as important as physical contact and the quality of our relationships shape our evolution and our relationship with food.
We are not just talking about abuse or trauma or extreme neglect. We are talking about those that suffer because something positive was withheld. What has been withheld causes extreme stress on the system and this has been termed ‘the biology of loss’. Stress on the system indicates that something is missing or about to disappear and if food equals love and love is highly relevant and desirable, then food takes its place as a survival skill.
Your brain develops in response to the input you have received from your environment and the goal of human development is for us to be self-sustaining, self-regulated, and social.
We learn these things in relationship with others and our emotions give us either positive feelings that say to us ‘I want more of this!’ or negative feelings that say ‘I want less of this.’. If food makes you happy then when food is experienced endorphins are released from the reward centre of the brain and conversely stress hormones such as cortisol have been shown to cause important brain centres to shrink. It is the prefrontal cortex that modulates our responses to the world, it’s functions include; learned information about what is good and not good, what is socially acceptable and what is not, including impulse control, social-emotional intelligence, and motivation.
This is the area of the brain that initiates action into following a plan, doing new things, changing behaviours like eating differently as well as the maintenance of eating differently. It also inhibits impulses such as the impulse to eat. If you have been spending your time building up the muscles of the reward centre in your emotional development, then the stresses of life have shrunken your regulatory and thinking capacities. Leaving you in a place of desperation for food and reward, and little to no ability to have self-control.
Relationships and self-regulation
Differentiation is a fundamental concept in family systems theory. It is the ability to be in emotional contact with others yet remain autonomous with your own ability to emotionally function and self-regulate. A person who has poor differentiation skills lacks that emotional boundary between self and others. This prevents the thinking process from being overwhelmed by emotional feeling states. This person is like a sponge; absorbing emotion from others. On the other hand of the spectrum, is a well differentiated person, this person is able to respond based on acceptance of their own emotions, their emotions are not created based on someone else’s or what that person expects or the need to engage in a fight or flight response. This person does not suppress their emotion and this person does not act on their emotions impulsively.
On top of these two types of differentiation is both functional and basic. Functional differentiation refers to function-ability in relationship. This is to do with the need to be able to function well by allowing others to absorb unresolved emotions by co-dependently putting up with bad behaviour. If the people I am in relationship with reject my bad behaviour I might fall apart. Basic differentiation on the other hand is my ability to be able to function independently of others so that I do not need others to do my emotional work for me. I can remain engaged no matter what it is that is happening emotionally around me and not get lost in it.
So you can actually start to gage where it is that you are on this spectrum, the less basic differentiation you have attained then the more prone you are to experience emotional stress and physical illness as well as the need for emotional eating. This has a huge implication in regards to your relationship with your significant other. Marital quality and satisfaction is strongly and positively related to resulting immune response. Women who are more self-regulated, less emotionally dependent on a relationship that doesn’t work for them have greater differentiation and therefore better health. In every relationship there is a power differential, one person has a tendency to have more power. The less powerful partner in any relationship whether that has to do with your significant other, your parents, your children, your position at work, will absorb a disproportionate amount of the shared anxiety.
Power is to do with who is serving who's needs, in other words who is the care giver. The less powerful person has a tendency to be more psychologically unbalanced and it means that the relationship has become unbalanced, the less powerful person has functional differentiation; absorbing the stresses and anxieties of the more powerful around them while at the same time having to contain their own. The partner that surpasses their own needs for the sake of the relationship is the one that is going to have to develop a way to manage emotionally and that is where emotional eating comes in.
This mind/ body link and person to person link means that it is actually possible for anxiety in one person to be manifested as a physical symptom in another. This emotional disfunction is prone to develop symptoms in the person who has to adopt most in order to maintain harmony in the relationship.
Weight Loss Apps
There are many weight loss apps, some track your exercise, others track your calories, still others track how much water you are consuming, and/or how long you sleep for …..and more. Weight loss apps have become so popular with some phones even having one pre-downloaded on them when you buy it. So here is the real question, do they work?
Recording what you eat is incredibly important to keep you aware, accountable, and on track. Recording how many steps you walk can be a bonus in that it’s fun and you can compete with yourself and distract yourself from eating. Water consumption and sleeping is an incredible aid in weight loss, but everything I have just listed can be done with being mindful and self-awareness. Technically there is no need to record everything digitally when you can do it manually like in a journal, but of course if you think that using your phone will work better for you than a notebook, then by all means, give it a go.
Recently I have discovered the weight loss app called NOOM which has all of the benefits I have listed above but also provides daily health articles and quizzes to keep you up to date and educated about health and wellness. It also provides you with a personalized coach to help with your weight loss plan and diet to help you lose weight for 16 weeks with added benefits if you pay more such as group support. The kicker about this app is that you pay $59US per month and the coach is only available form 9am-5pm, basically useless for nighttime snack fiends.
Just like every other app, NOOM does not provide a registered psychotherapist to help you understand why you eat, why you are using food as a coping mechanism, and how to change your behaviour. Buying the app is like buying a membership at the gym, you know it’s there, you feel guilty for not using it, and at the end of the day it collects dust and you stay the same.
For those of us who want a real connection with a person to help us loose weight, someone to look us in the eye and tell us we are doing a great job, remind us of our goals and dreams, our progression, our success, and yes even tell us off sometimes, the Emotionally Focussed Eating Program is for you. A real person who you meet and talk with and solve the issues that drive you to eat with, this is what the program has to offer. You learn about nutrition, about your body, about why you eat, and most importantly how to change yourself and the way you look at food and the world around you.
Stress is a response to the perception of threat
Many organs and tissues of the body become more vulnerable to inflammation and therefore inflame either during or after times which have been perceived as threatening. These threatening times can instantaneously induce the dilation of blood vessels, cause swelling, bleeding, tissue damage and create a lower pain threshold. These changes can be initiated rapidly just by any stressful event. Any part of the body can be effected through neural connection of the nervous system.
Being able to use your breathing is an extremely important component of emotional expression. The more stress, the more upset to the system, the more anxiety, means that people have a tendency to increasingly breathe in a shallow fashion, which cuts off oxygen to the brain causing a sense of wooziness or vertigo. When people get upset or become angry, their breathing starts to become shallow. In order to be able to use the full capacity of your lungs, you need to be able to breathe using your diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing is the healthy thing to do to manage life stress.
Place your hand on your lower tummy area and it is your gut that needs to be able to go up and down as you breathe. To be able to breathe from the diaphragm improves oxygen supply to the brain, it also allows better emotional control. Focussing on your breathing allows you to control your emotions and also allows you to be able to get where you need to be in your weightless journey.
Breathing has a life sustaining power. It is our spiritual life force, controlling every mental and physical process that takes place within us. When our breathing is calm and peaceful our mind and body is also calm and peaceful. When our breathing is agitated, our mind and body is also agitated. Our physical, metal and spiritual health therefore, depends on the health of our breath. When we hold our breath to block feelings we create blocks throughout our system. These blocks become deep rooted habits.
So, the first practice in regards to self-healing and self-mastering, as a controlled way of being is that of meditation. Meditation is a quieting of the mind in order to feel more calm, rested, and re-energized. The key is to be able to tune into your body to be able to distract yourself away from whatever your current anxiety might be. To concentrate on your breath creates a distance from whatever it is that you might be longing for, distracted by, or being triggered by or craving for. It allows you to create a distance between it and you. When you are feeling these feelings of longing, or to triggers for what is lacking, then you are feeling discomfort. The idea is to be able to be in discomfort without needing to do anything. Pay attention to your breathing and to be able to engage in meditation will allow you to create the distance that you need from freeing that discomfort to being okay with that discomfort without needing to react or do anything.
We have an interconnected mind/ body mechanism within our emotional nervous, immune, hormonal super system. We call this the psychoneuroimmunology system. Emotions are our safe guard from external threats. Emotions assure the satisfaction of our appetites and our needs, and they work together with all of our systems to help maintain and repair our internal state. Emotions are necessary for survival. Early in the process of our evolution we have developed primitive responses of attraction and repulsion. These two responses were essential to our need to reproduce. Emotions evolved as a part of our system of survival. All of our body systems are connected together, in order to maintain homeostasis and defence in regards to our emotional reactions.
Emotions induce changes in immune activity, body state, mood, and behaviour. Emotion I is to do with biological changes that prepare us for either fight or flight responses. Anger for example, is not a negative emotion but it is a survival emotion for when an essential need has either been threatened or frustrated. When this emotion is manifested then there will be a behavioural display, and this is classified as emotion II. Once the fight or flight response has been triggered there is also the need for a huge expenditure of energy as well as the risk of injury or death. So emotion II, behavioural displays, serve an intermediary function which, because of the display of emotion often settles the conflict without anybody having to get hurt. This emotional display provides a resolution because the convincing display creates a shut down to the conflict, avoiding harm.
In order to be able to do this appropriately, you need to be able to distinguish between what is a threat and what is a non threat. In order to be able to determine that you have to be able to differentiate what is self and what is non-self. Because if you do not know where it is that your own boundaries begin and end you will have absolutely no idea if something that is potentially threatening is intruding on you or not. You have to be able to accurately appraise what is self and what is non-self, what is familiar or what is foreign, what is benign or not harmful, compared to what is potentially harmful.
The emotion of anger represents the recognition of what is foreign and potentially harmful as well as your response to it. Your immune system works the exact same way, the first essential task is to distinguish self from non-self and begins with recognition. Recognition is a sensory function performed by your sensory organs. If our immune system does not recognize what is harmful to us, we would be exposed to danger. Our immune system also has a memory, it needs to be able to remember what in the external world is not harmful and nourishing, compared to what is okay or neutral to our system, and what is potentially toxic. This is a matter of learning.
The point is, that there is a shared function between immunity and emotion, and when this psychological capacity is disabled, then it extends to our physiology as well. Repressed anger therefore, leads to disordered immunity, the inability to process and express feelings effectively and is the result of the tendency to serve others needs without considering your own. These are coping styles that represent a blurring of boundaries and a confusion of self and non-self on a psychological level.
The way you grew up shaped your relationship with your own body and your psyche. The emotional contexts from your childhood interact with your temperament which in turn created your personality traits. These traits are not fixed, instead they are coping mechanisms that you have acquired along the way, and the difficulty with these coping mechanisms is that we keep applying them even when it is they no longer work. We don't learn new coping mechanisms unless we are told about a new way to cope.
The brain does not hear ‘stop’ or ‘don’t’. So just being told to ‘stop that’ or ‘don't do that’ means the exact opposite. So basically when we talk about your coping we are talking about how you have responded to your environment, and this response has set up a pattern of behaviours that you have developed to ensure your survival. As such, what we are really talking about is habitual defence mechanisms that you have unconsciously adopted, and because they have been unconsciously adopted we actually identify with them as indispensable, that we can’t actually be any other way because we identify them as a part of who it is that we are. We can actually harbour self-loathing for these adopted traits.
When needs are unmet, when we come across lack, we have a tendency to develop obsessive coping styles, underlying which is anxiety. The base line of anxiety is either pain or fear or both and when a person gets in touch with this sense of lack, these unmet needs, they also experience a stress on the system. We develop desperate responses to emotional deprivation and these responses are our coping styles.
Stress eating is a coping style, it is a response to your environment in order to ensure survival. Emotional repression is also a coping style. It is a conditioning learned along the way that negative emotions need to be hidden and eating is a way to hide them, it is a way to ensure survival. Food=Love. It is a way to self-sooth when there is no one to talk to, no one to meet those unmet needs, the behaviour becomes repeated and multiplied, harming your bodies natural homeostasis and because it is unconscious, it becomes habitual, a constant defence against self-loathing, a constant defence against anxiety.
Are you a silent sufferer? Do you have an intense need to please? Do you care for yourself, or do you care for everybody but yourself? Do you find that you need to control everything? Do you consider yourself a perfectionist?
Or do you go the other way and give up easily? Feeling like it is hopeless anyway? Joining in with what others are doing and then blaming them for your inability to have your needs met? Are you stressed and depressed? Physically ill?
These are lifelong patterns of repression.
When you were a child and you felt sad, upset, or angry, was there anyone you could talk to? Even when the only one you could talk to was the person that triggered your negative emotions?
‘Well, what’s the point if I can’t let loose once in a while?’
Once again I was watching my favourite show, X Weighted. The family on the show was comprised of two overweight parents and their slightly over weight son. At the half way mark both of the parents were weighed in and they had both lost a healthy amount of weight, yet, they both expressed their disappointment that their weight was not lower and as well, how hard it was to motivate their son to stick with the diet as he is a teenager and constantly pushed back against their healthy meal choices.
The end of the episode showed the son at his healthy weight, he had achieved his goal and was no longer obese. Both of the parents however failed to lose any more weight after the half way point, in the entirety of the six months they had been doing the show the nearly 400 pound dad lost almost 30 pounds and the mother who had lost 12 pounds at the halfway point only lost 10 pounds in total. She had GAINED 2 pounds!
The doctor on the show was understandably disappointed and a little confused at their lack or weight loss and when he asked the mother responded, ‘Well, yeah, every once in a while I would go out and get a burger. Why can’t I even have a burger? If I can’t even do that then what’s the point?’ Which you and I and even the T.V. doctor knows is total B.S. If a 400 pound man can’t lose more than 30 pounds in 6 months then obviously your having more than just one burger every once in a while.
This is the problem with not being up front and honest with yourself, you may fool yourself into believing that you are just having a burger every once in a while, but the truth is you eat the burger, then the fries, then you have blown the diet for that day anyway so you get an ice cream, but because you hide all this from your rebellious son who you do not want calling you a hypocrite you sit down and have the healthy meal that you prepared the family as well.
This is why food diaries are such a blessing, they force you to write down everything you have so you can’t be in denial. This is why having a dedicated weight loss partner is such a blessing, because if you both really want to lose weight you won’t enable yourselves to stray from the diet, instead you will motivate each other to keep going. This is why being able to pay someone to kidnap you and hide you in a remote place so you can’t cheat is such a blessing, because basically you are forced into sticking with the diet because what else are you going to do? Wade through a jungle with snakes and spiders, and God knows what else, oh my?
This is why the Emotionally Focussed Eating Program is such a bonus, it is tailored to help you learn how to be up front and honest with yourself.
On the quest to lose 50 pounds in a year. Can she do it? Only time will tell....with the help of this blog.