Hiding Out Because of a Cold Sore?


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

I wanted to bring up a topic that I don’t talk about much, if ever, although one that I’ve had to live with for most of my life:  cold sores.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve been prone to an outbreak and if you suffer from them or know someone who does, then you know what I’m talking about.  They’re unsightly, they’re painful, they can leave scars, and they feel like they can put my life on hold.

Ironically, the thought of addressing this topic now came as Valentine’s Day approached – how romantic!  Call me a rebel, lol.  But rather than talk about the benefits of dark chocolate or love, or how to keep your heart healthy, something attracted me to the lips.  Maybe it’s because the holiday signifies love and intimacy–and kissing and I wouldn’t want something like this ruin (or prevent) a good kiss : )

If you’re someone who gets cold sores, then you probably know very well that they’re caused by Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1).   Amazingly, 95-98% of people harbor the virus and many may never know it if they don’t have an outbreak.   While dormant, it resides in our neurons and when activated, it targets the skin and mucous membranes, often on or near the lips.  If you do get one, it’s important to keep your hands away from your eyes to avoid ocular infections, including keratoconjunctivitis that can be serious.   And HSV is contagious, so it’s important to keep your personal hygiene items like hand and face towels, your toothbrush etc., separate to avoid contaminating others.

Over the last 10-15 years, I’ve been pretty successful at reducing both the frequency and severity of cold sores through some trial and error with anecdotal and scientific evidence (you can read about here), and personal observation about when I’m most susceptible.  My own personal treatment plan for HSV-1 has been relatively holistic.  There are actually drugs available to prevent outbreaks; of course they don’t come without side effects.  I have tried some of the topical treatments though that I’ll mention below.

In general, here are the triggers that I’ve found for myself.  Many overlap with those commonly reported and they may vary from what you’ve found:

Overexposure to the sun – this can lead to dry, parched lips and in general, anytime my lips have gotten overly dry, I’ve been susceptible.  In fact, if my lips get dry inexplicably and even lip balms don’t seem work, then I know something’s up and I take extra precautions.

Stress – not surprising, since stress can weaken the immune system and make it more difficult to ward off a viral attack.

Acidic foods  – for me specifically, these include things like citrus (oranges, grapefruit, and tomatoes, especially cooked), vinegars and drinks like Kombucha.

Arginine (arg)-rich foods like nuts and nut butters, seeds, coconut, even chocolate (sadly) – of course, foods that I love!

Poor diet in general  – too much sugar and refined carbohydrates that are going to weaken the immune system and of course promote hormone imbalances and stress.  And combining this with my monthly cycle increased the odds.

So, what can you do to reduce the likelihood of getting a cold sore or quicken healing?   Many measures are obvious and some not so:

Keep your lips protected in the sun – Wear a lip balm, preferably with sunscreen when you’re outdoors.  There are many brands out there, but I like Burt’s Bees because it’s petroleum- and chemical-free and easy to find.   As a general rule, avoid letting your lips get dried out or chapped.  If it happens, check in on your hydration and your diet, both of which can have an impact.

Reduce stress – Exercise, proper diet, enough sleep, mindfulness techniques like meditation and breathing can all help here.

Avoid trigger foods – Maintain a healthy diet free from sugars and refined carbohydrates and try cutting back on citrus or concentrated foods like nuts and seeds, etc.

Take l-lysine (lys) – An essential amino acid found in high levels in animal products, l-lysine is believed to antagonize l-arginine, which activates HSV-1.  Foods like nuts and seeds contain both arg and lys, but the levels of arg are often much higher.  Some studies have shown that l-lysine supplementation can help.  I’ve been taking about 1000 mg everyday for at least a decade and sure enough, if I go off of it for several days, I’m more likely to have an outbreak.   I’m also more able to keep foods like nuts and seeds (and chocolate) in my diet if I am consistent with taking lys.

Apply ice – Over the last couple of years, I’ve found that at the first sign of an outbreak (usually a tingling on my lip), if I apply ice for as long as possible, even if I do get a cold sore, it’s usually much less severe and heals more quickly.   It may not always be practical to do this, but if you’re at home and can take the time, it may be worth it.

Use over the counter meds - In the past, I’ve used ointments like Abreva and also a homeopathic cream that worked well to shorten the duration of an outbreak.  Zinc sulfate has also been shown to speed healing time and there are a number of additional herbal remedies listed here that I haven’t specifically tried.

Seriously, cold sores are no fun and preventing them is always better than dealing with the healing.  Is there something you’ve found that works for you?  I’d love to hear about it!

And if you’d like support with transitioning your diet and with strategies for managing stress, I have an arsenal of tools that can help.  An eating plan and lifestyle strategy that reduces the chances of getting cold sores will help you across the board with your health.  Want more information?  Contact me to see how to get started.

Noodles with No Carbs!

If you’ve been cutting back on starches like pasta and bread, here’s a noodle to try that’s gluten-free, starch-free, and for the most part, calorie-free.  At this point, you’re probably thinking, huh?  How can a noodle be calorie-free?

shirataki noodles

Shirataki noodles are made from a tuber called devil’s tongue yam or elephant yam that is composed of mostly water and a soluble dietary fiber called glucomannan.  The noodles are formed through an extrusion process, so they’re 100% yam.  There is also a variety made from tofu that has 3g of carbs and 5 calories per serving.

The noodles shown here come packaged in liquid and should be drained and rinsed.  The directions on the package also say to boil them briefly in water to remove the bitterness, although I didn’t find it necessary.   Like tofu, the noodles are flavor-less and will take on the flavor of the dish and I found that they have the texture of a very tender cellophane noodle.

shir noodles and veg

The other night, after draining and rinsing the noodles, I sautéed some Vidalia onion, thin slices of green cabbage, and Shitake mushrooms, then added the noodles along with Tamari (a wheat-free soy sauce), fresh ginger, and some toasted sesame oil.   The result was a quick, easy, really tasty and surprisingly filling dish!!  I’m thinking the noodles would work well as a last minute addition to soups too.

shir noodle dish

Shirataki noodles are found in the produce section of most grocery stores and run about $2 for an 8-ounce package.  My word of caution for them is that because they’re not a major nutritional source, it would be best to eat them sparingly, rather than make them a staple in the diet.   For a noodle craving, though, I believe they’ll do the trick…

How to Save Money and Your Waistline


Image courtesy of savit keawtavee

Not too long ago, I posted an article about a bottom-less bowl of soup experiment carried out by Brian Wansink and colleagues from Cornell University that demonstrated how we use our eyes to gauge our hunger and satiety levels.   Well, here’s another interesting finding about how influential size is on how much we consume from more experiments they conducted using everyday products.  Again, you may think you’re immune to this, I know for sure that I am not and I’d even go so far as to say I’m aware of when I’m doing it, and yet, I do it anyway.   What about you?

In one experiment, under the guise of a fundraising promotion, they invited parents in to cook dinner for themselves and provided the ingredients: a box of spaghetti, a jar of sauce, and a package of ground beef.  Half of the couples that participated were given medium sized packages of foods and half were given large sized packages.  What they found was interesting.  The couples that prepared dinner with the large packages of ingredients not only prepared 23% more, they ate more.

In another experiment, if they gave people one-pound bags of M&Ms to eat while watching a video, they ate almost twice as many as those that were given half-pound bags.  In fact, from all of the foods that they studied, people consistently ate 20-25% more when preparing, serving, or eating directly from larger packages.

This phenomenon wasn’t only restricted to food either.  People poured more shampoo, plant fertilizer, dog food, and laundry detergent from large versus small containers.  And out of the forty-seven products they tested, all produced the same results except one:  liquid bleach.  Evidently people are mindful enough to want to prevent ruining their clothes.  If only we practiced that much awareness with food to prevent ruining our waistlines!

Now think about how we shop these days.  For example, there are so many good reasons to shop at those big box stores, right?  They’re convenient for stocking up on groceries and can save you money on the things you’re already buying.  But if you’re consuming more than you normally would, you may not be saving money after all.

Think about every product you use.  Do you use more paper towels, napkins, or toilet paper when you know you have a plenty stashed away?  More aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or Q-tips?  Are you pouring a bigger bowl of cereal, squeezing more ketchup onto your plate, or eating larger servings of chips from the family-size bag?  Or like me in the past, after getting halfway through a giant box of something, do you throw it away because everyone’s tired of it?

It’s so tempting to think that bigger is better, but this is not always true, especially when it comes to food.  So here are some tips to get around over consuming:

If you’re buying in bulk, separate into smaller portions.  You may normally do this for foods like meats for freezing, but how about foods like nuts, chips, and cereals?  Keep smaller amounts visible for everyday and store the reserves for refilling.

Buy only what you need.  Are you tempted to buy larger quantities simply because they cost less per serving?  A smaller jar of spaghetti sauce may cost more per ounce than a larger jar, but if the smaller jar is enough to feed the family, then you’ll be saving money and calories simply by consuming less.  You’ll also be saving on space.

Serve yourself.  Are you in the habit of snacking directly from the big bag of chips or popcorn?  If so, you’re more likely to underestimate your portion size and overeat.  Instead, serve yourself a portion of food directly into a bowl or plate and walk away from the bag.  You’ll be less likely to overindulge.

In the end, it’s all about thinking about your family’s specific shopping and consuming habits and unique needs.  And without too much change to your lifestyles, you may be able to save yourself calories, money, space, and just as important, the environment!

If you’re looking for support to help you reach your health goals, contact me for a Weight Loss Breakthrough Session today.

Off Meds After a Decade [Testimonial]

tammytI love sending out my newsletter with tips and tools and inspiration to help you live your healthiest and happiest life.  It’s actually great motivation and inspiration for me to constantly grow, because the more I do, the more value I can offer you.  For example, this weekend, I’m attending a seminar to learn about some of the latest research on the topic of weight loss as well as hear from some practitioners who have had very good success with their patients.

And periodically, I like to share stories about my clients as inspiration and testimony to the possibilities, and to allow you to see that every client’s story is different, and so even with your unique situation, it is possible to regain your health. This week’s success story is about my client, Tammy.   When I began working with Tammy last September, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this was one committed and determined woman.

At each of our sessions, we’d talk about her goals and challenges, we’d agree on a plan for the coming two weeks, and the next time we’d meet, she’d have news about the action she had taken and how she was eating better, feeling better, and looking better.   One day, she very excitedly stood up and said, “Look!  I’m wearing skinny jeans!!”  And I wanted to cry.  Because at that point, it was way more than the jeans.  To me they represented the transformation she was undergoing.  A transformation that didn’t involve deprivation or punishment or guilt; it was more like enlightenment.  And so here is what she wanted to share to help inspire others:

Linda is Amazing! Working with Linda has changed the way I look at myself and my relationship with food. My goal was to change the way I eat for my health. After spending a decade on medication for acid reflux it finally got to the point where I could barely talk as I was always choking on acid. I just wanted to feel better and get off the medication. Working with Linda has helped me do just that. I have been off reflux medication for four months and by eating the right diet, it is no longer a problem. I have also reduced the hives I was getting by eliminating foods that didn’t work for me.  And as an added benefit I lost eight pounds, which made me very happy!! She provided me with healthy recipes for my busy lifestyle as well as the support needed to move forward. I have reduced stress and I sleep well due to her guidance. I can’t thank her enough for all she has done. I am on my way to a happier healthier future!

If you’re ready to make the commitment to yourself and want the support and accountability to make it happen, let’s have a conversation.  It just may change your life…

Why Body Brushing is More than Skin Deep

body brushI don’t know about you, but the minute the temperature drops and the heat comes on in the house, my skin immediately reacts with chapped lips, dry, cracked, wrinkly hands and scaly legs. Besides having creams, salves, oils and lip balms within arm’s reach, making sure I stay hydrated with enough water, getting enough healthy fats in my diet from foods like nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, I’ve stepped up on something that in the past, I had only done occasionally in my personal care routine:  body brushing.

In the several weeks since I’ve bumped up the frequency, I’ve noticed a difference in the way my skin looks and feels.   If you’re not familiar with it, body brushing involves taking a brush, preferably with natural bristles, to your dry skin before showering.  I’m currently using a brush like the one in the picture.  I like it because there are no hard surfaces and it’s easy to maneuver since it works from either side.  And rather than simply brush randomly across the body, there is a technique recommended.

Begin at the feet and brush in long gentle strokes up the legs towards your heart.  From your neck, brush down your chest and back (whatever you can reach), and brush in long strokes from your hands towards your shoulders.  Use circular motions at your knees and elbows and on your trunk.

Here are some obvious and not so obvious benefits you can expect from it:

It sloughs off dead skin cells.  Our skin cells are continuously moving through a life cycle that ends with a layer of dead cells at the outermost surface.  In the winter, I often forget to take the extra step of exfoliating when I shower.  Sometimes I just want to get in, out, and dressed as quickly as I can so the skincare gets skipped.  Maybe you ignore it because you’re covered up most of the time anyway.  I get that.  But making the effort to remove that dead layer of cells will enable your skin to breathe better and will make your skin glow.

It stimulates the lymphatic system.  Unlike our cardiovascular system, our lymphatic system is slow moving, and like a good massage that mobilizes it, body brushing does the same so it’s a strategy for boosting your immune system, especially with cold and flu season upon us.  To take it even further, if you have time, after brushing, oil your skin before jumping into the shower.  It’ll adds a layer of massage to your routine, and will help prevent your natural oils from being washed away in the shower.

A second strategy that I’ve used a lot in the past is to oil your skin before drying off after your shower.  You’ll get the massage and the moisturizing and can skip the lotions or creams afterwards.  Some of the best oils to use are coconut, raw sesame, and olive oil.

It’s energizing.  If you’re in the habit of showering just out of bed when you’re still wiping the sleep from your eyes, a nice all-over brushing will make every cell in your body come alive so you’ll be wide awake and feeling alert even before you step into the shower.  Brushing your skin may actually take some getting use–it did for me, one reason why it’s best to go easy on your skin.  However experiencing the benefits is enough to keep me doing it.

And one more thing.  Body brushing is more than skin deep.  For me, regardless of the time of year, when I pay more attention to my skin, I feel better.  Like any self-care ritual you treat yourself to, it feeds you.  And anytime you find nourishment outside of food, you’re less likely to turn to food when you’re not physically hungry.  This is just one of the many self-care rituals and soul-feeding tips I offer in my coaching and detox programs that’s helping my clients live their best lives…

Stuck in a Bad Mood?

full moon1If you’ve ever gotten into a funk that you just couldn’t drag yourself out of, then welcome to the club.  I’m not exactly sure how it began for me, but recently, I found myself wallowing in self-pity, finding one reason after another to keep the pity party going.  Maybe it began with an email that I didn’t want to read, or a dream I woke from feeling unraveled, I don’t exactly know.  I do know, though, that I must have been ‘in the zone’ because there was no shortage of things for me to focus on to keep me comfortably low–vibrationally speaking.

That’s the thing: just like when you focus on what you are grateful for, more shows up in your life to be grateful for, the opposite is also true.  Not that I suddenly had nothing to be grateful for, I simply wasn’t focusing on these things!

And then, out of nowhere, I stumbled upon a video with Oprah and Deepak Chopra from OWNTV that did the trick for me.  In the video, Oprah talks about moving past negative thoughts.  It was exactly what I needed to hear at that very moment.   You can watch what Oprah says here and I’ll explain:

She begins with a simple exercise.  Briefly, begin by closing your eyes.  Then imagine a full moon, and then dismiss it.  Next, think of an oak tree by the riverbank, then let it go.  And finally, do the same with a red triangle.   When you’re finished, open your eyes.

What’s the point of that simple exercise, you may be wondering?  It’s that just as you have the power and the choice to let the thoughts of moons, trees, and red triangles come and go you also have the ability to do the same with negative thoughts.   You can observe them come in and let them go, if you choose to.

Remember, you are not your thoughts; however, your thoughts do create the foundation for your actions, so in a sense, you ‘do’ your thoughts and they create your future.  In a foul mood?  Do you think you’re more likely to say something you may regret, skip a workout, comfort yourself with food or drink when you’re not hungry, procrastinate on something important, or talk yourself out of an opportunity that’s come your way?  I am for sure.  Thankfully I didn’t have a plate of brownies in the house ; )

If suddenly making the decision to simply observe your thoughts is a challenge (and why wouldn’t it be), here are three strategies to help you strengthen your thought muscles:

1.  Get present - Just like the exercise above, if you find yourself bogged down or overwhelmed by negative thoughts, another simple exercise is to look at your environment and name some objects within sight:  a blue sky, a red book, a white mug, etc.  Yes, it sounds so simple, but in this video, Sura talks about the process and how it will still your mind and bring you to the present moment.  And when you become present, your monkey mind naturally melts away.

2.  Journal - This is such a powerful practice when done regularly.  It allows you to dump the contents of your brain–without judgment–and putting ink to paper so often leads to insights to what’s keeping you stuck.   Facing a challenge?  Write about it–the good, the bad, and the in between.   Make it part of your early morning routine or write just before bed.   Like anything else, the more you do it, the more value you’ll gain from it.

3.  Check in on your diet - Have you ever heard the expression, “Junk food, junk mood?”  It’s much easier to develop and get stuck in a bad mood if you’re eating foods that support it.  If you know you’ve been indulging and recognize a connection with your mood, take action by getting back on track.   And if you’d like support in this area, contact me. I can help you identify specific foods that may be making it more difficult to reach the level or consistency of positive mood you want and deserve!

Are you ready for a resolution?

Image courtesy of FrameAngel

Happy New Year!!! 

This morning, Marianne Williamson tweeted something that I want to share:  The universe is already programmed to give each of us a year of joy.  Our challenge lies in programming ourselves to receive it.  What’s one of the best ways to make that happen?  Showing gratitude!  For me, this is the perfect way to begin 2013.
With that said, many people believe that the way to begin the New Year is with resolutions.  And if you’re like 50% of people, you decided to make one.  The most common are to lose weight, exercise more, and quit smoking.  It seems like a perfect time, right?  New year – new you.

Clinical psychologists have actually studied the process of making New Year’s resolutions and in so many ways they’re similar to the processes I help my clients through–forming new habits over time that involve permanent behavioral changes.  For many of them, their resolution simply happens at a different time of the year.

In full disclosure, I can’t remember the last time I made a New Year’s resolution–if ever; and if I had, I’m not sure how long I kept it.  Looking back at most of the new habits I’ve formed, they usually involved something major happening in my life at the time, rather than the calendar.

One study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology that tracked 159 people who set a New Year’s resolution and 123 people who hadn’t, found that six months later, 46% of the resolvers were still keeping their resolutions while only 4% of the non-resolvers were following through with changes.   So the concept of setting a resolution suggests you’ll have more success.

Although 46% seems high, it also suggests that 54% of people gave up within six months.  If you’re part of that group and this year, are ready for success, here are some reasons why you may have given up in the past and some tips for finally making your resolutions stick, whether you begin them today, or in July:

Reason 1:  Resolutions are executed unrealistically.  For example, if you’ve never exercised before and decide it’s time to start, and then expect that you’ll work out seven days/week for two hours each day, you’ll quickly burn out, get frustrated, even risk injuring yourself, and give up.

Success tip 1:  Start from where you’re at.  Never exercised before?  Begin slowly for example, with daily walks.  About a year ago, after not exercising for decades, my parents began walking, either outdoors or at the mall.  They began slowly and have increased their time/distance gradually.  And in the last year, my dad has lost 25 pounds (more on how he did it in another post), in part because of his walking with mom.  The key is that it is doable for them (they’re both 76!) and they’ve consistently walked 3-4 times per week.

Reason 2:  You’re making them for the wrong reasons.   Your friends and family are telling you that it’s time to (fill in the blank) and so you resolve to (fill in the blank).  Or your friend has made a resolution so you decide to join in.  Even though they’re ready for you to begin, you may be at the pre-contemplation (not yet acknowledging) or contemplation stage where you’ve acknowledged a behavior that needs to be changed but you’re not sure if you’re ready.

Success tip 2:  Understand your “why” behind your resolution.  You say you want to eat healthier?  OK, why?  What will happen as a result of you choosing better foods?  How will your life look different?  How will you feel?  By getting in touch with what you’ll be creating with your resolution, at the visceral level, you’ll be more likely to follow through, even when the going gets tough.   And to keep the motivation fresh and in the front of your mind, write it down and post it somewhere you’ll see it often, like on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, or your computer screen or desk.

Reason 3:  Inspiration fades quickly and motivation diminishes.  If you’re like me right now, you’re simply a little tired of eating rich meals and desserts and you’re ready to get back to normal.  Many people use this as their motivation for a resolution.  However, have you ever stuffed yourself on Thanksgiving and said, “I’m never going to eat again,” only to wake up the next morning and ask, “What’s for breakfast?”  I think I have.   Which is why I love this quote by the late, great Zig Ziglar:  People often say motivation doesn’t last.  Neither does bathing, that’s why I recommend it daily.

Success tip 3:  Enlist support.  For years, I ran or worked out at the gym by myself, and it wasn’t until I began working with a trainer at the gym that I realized I wasn’t making the most of my exercise time.  Having a friend to walk with at lunch, a spouse that’s ready to eat healthier too, someone you can call for support when you’re ready to cave, a trainer to make your workouts more efficient, or even a health coach to hold you accountable are just a few support systems that work.

And as always, if you are ready for support from a health coach, I’d love to have a conversation with you to discuss how working together will help you achieve your goals.  A year will go by anyway.  Imagine how you could be feeling January 1st, 2014 if you do take that step!

Also, if you normally eat a healthy diet, yet indulged over the holidays, The ClearYou 14-day Detox is something to consider.  This is not a juice cleanse or fast.  It involves eating real food with additional liver support that cleans all your cells, not just your digestive tract.  For this time of year, I’ve added more cold-weather friendly recipes and it includes additional components that address the mental/emotional aspects of detoxing, making it even more effective.  Interested?  Contact me today to learn how you can get started.

As we enter 2013, my wish for you is that you allow yourself to receive peace, happiness, abundant good health, and prosperity for this year and many to come.
Warm wishes and with much gratitude,

Linda DiBella

Sending a Wave of Love

Courtesy of digitalart

It’s difficult these days to not turn on the news or read in the paper about something tragic happening somewhere on the planet.  I share in the deep sense of grief felt by so many as the result of last Friday’s horrible events both in Newtown, CT–so close to home; and across the globe in China.  I remember my mind immediately going to my grandsons and wanting to make sure they were OK and I know many people who hugged their kids a lot tighter Friday night.

If you’re looking for ways to help the families in Newtown, there are a number of fundraisers being held locally in CT as well as memorial 5K runs being organized for January and later in 2013.  You can find out more about them here in the Fleet Feet newsletter.

This Friday, December 21st is the winter solstice.  Rumor has it it’s also the end of the world, which I don’t believe.  Although if you’ve ever wondered, based on this article, the Mayan’s kept many calendars and they actually predicted that life would go on at least another 7,000 years.   Whether that’s true or not, I certainly don’t know, but I choose to believe that we have many more years of life here for us.

Still, many out there believe that the time we are living in is very special because it is thought that we as a species have been developing a higher level of consciousness; one, however, that is only as good as the action we choose to take from it.  We’re beginning to understand the power of our thoughts, we’re harnessing the power of our own personal energy, we’re tapping into the idea of abundance, and we’re recognizing that we all have unique gifts and that we are here to share them for the good of all.   And this level of consciousness has been gaining momentum for some time and will continue to flourish, so the idea of December 21st may simply represent a rebirth rather than an ending.

In support of this idea, the organization Peak Potentials is organizing a Wave of Love that they would like us to help create and I thought it was a great idea for helping to spread love across the world.  Within their organization, Peak Potentials has been sending Love Notes to each other over the last few months and it’s felt so good, that they wanted to spread it around.

So this Friday, December 21st, at 12:21 pm (your time zone), they’re inviting everyone to text, message, call, or email someone that they love, care for, appreciate, or are thinking of and let them know.  How cool would it be for a giant Wave of Love to travel across the planet on that day and turn it into something beautiful rather than a rumor that’s been spreading fear?   I know I’ll be sending some notes that day to the people I love.  And I hope you do too.

The Bottom-less Bowl of Soup

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap

Brian Wansink is a professor in the fields of consumer behavior and nutritional science and directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.  He conducts some of the most fascinating studies around the topic of mindless eating to unearth exactly what forces are influencing us as consumers/eaters.  And despite the fact that many of the people he meets claim that they are completely in control of their eating habits, he demonstrates time and time again that this is not true.  Even with some of his own students who conduct his actual studies.

For example, when he asked a group of college students, “If you were going to have a bowl of soup for lunch, when would you decide to stop eating? “; 81% replied with a visual reference point, such as when they had eaten half, or when the bowl was empty.  Only 19% said that they would stop eating when they were no longer hungry.    And since so many people gauge their eating behavior on a visual cue, he decided to find out what would happen if the bowl never got empty.

In an experiment that played out like a scene from Candid Camera, he rigged tables that seat four with two settings that had soup bowls with holes drilled into the bottom that were connected to food-grade rubber tubing.  The tubing led, from holes drilled in the table, to hidden six quart vats of tomato soup that were positioned at just the right height that they would constantly replenish the soup in the bowls.   The other two bowls at the table were normal so that the level of soup would go down as the diners ate.

He then invited college students in for lunch.  When seated, they were asked to leave the bowls on the table (which actually worked) and then to distract them, they were asked what they were going to do during their summer vacations, which got them talking away as they ate.

After twenty minutes, they were asked to stop eating and then were asked three questions:

  1. How many calories did they think they ate?
  2. How many ounces of soup did they think they ate?
  3. How full were they on a nine-point scale?

After weighing all the soup left in the bowls, tubes, and vats of soup, they found that while the students who ate from the regular bowls estimated that they had eaten, on average, 123 calories, they in fact had eaten an average of 155 calories.   Those that had eaten from the bottomless soup bowls; however, estimated they had eaten 127 calories–not so different from the control group–yet they had actually eaten on average 268 calories.  The control subjects ate ~9 oz. of soup and the bottomless soup eaters had eaten ~15 oz and as much as a quart of soup!  ~73% more, in fact and during the 20 minutes, they simply ate, and ate, and ate.   Yet they didn’t realize they had eaten more.   And most of them rated themselves the same in terms of their hunger/full levels as the control eaters.

Out of the 62 people that took part in the experiment, remarkably only two discovered what was going on–accidently.

Think about some of the situations where you may be set up for not knowing when to stop eating because of visual cues:

  • the endless buffet where the chafing dishes are continuously replenished and you’re given a fresh plate for every trip for food
  • the holiday feast that begins with the appetizers and drinks and ends with dessert and coffee/drinks
  • the unlimited pasta or salad, soup, and bread at the restaurant and the wait staff stopping by periodically to remove the “evidence”, like the empty wine glasses, plate of chicken bones, and even your plate before they ask you if you’d like dessert

And then ask yourself, do you continue to eat because you’re hungry, or because there’s food still on your plate?  And do you stop eating because you’re full, or because the food’s gone??

Self-sabotage and the Fear of Success

Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Several weeks ago, I wrote an article that talked about a book by Gay Hendricks called the Big Leap in which the author discusses the universal “Upper Limit Problem” and how so many people, no matter how successful they are, will find a way to sabotage their world when things are going well.   Today, I want to share with you a ‘real-life’ example from one of my clients to demonstrate how easily we can fall into this trap – for any number of reasons.

Over the summer, Laura took part in a three-week detox program and got tremendous results.  She was following a healthier eating plan, was feeling and looking better, was releasing a lot of emotional baggage, and was excited to move forward with her new healthier lifestyle in her personal life and within her role as a spiritual coach.

Then something interesting happened.  Laura took part in a photo shoot that produced some stunning photos of her.  When I first saw them, I remember thinking, WOW!  She’s gorgeous, she’s glowing, she’s confident, and I could see success in her future.  Yet, rather than continue to move upwards and outwards during this growth spurt, Laura suddenly found herself–without contemplation–pulling into the drive-thru everyday for a fast food lunch.   She (unknowingly at first) was shrinking back due to a fear of success and sabotaging all the great results she was beginning to see with her health.   Luckily, she identified it very quickly and took steps to get back on track.

Isn’t it ironic that although most of us are afraid of failure, we also have a fear of success?  Whatever that success may look like–and it’s different for everyone–we begin to tell ourselves stories like: I’ll be too busy, I’ll have to give up something, I’ll lose people in my life, I’m not good enough, or things will change.  These are just a few of the many “reasons” we tell ourselves about why we can’t go for it; whatever “it” may be.  I catch myself doing it too.  It usually involves the word “but”.   As in, “I would, but…” And these types of situations are also why I work with clients over a time frame of 3-6 months, or more; because things inevitably come up and it helps to have the support and accountability from someone who’s not “in our heads” so to speak, buying into our false beliefs.

Think about where and how in your own life you may be unconsciously sabotaging your own personal growth and why.  Is it through procrastination, food, TV, toxic relationships?  What is this behavior producing in your life, and what is it ultimately costing you physically, emotionally, spiritually, or yes, even financially?  If you believe a fear of success is something you struggle with, I want to leave you with an excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles that may help release any resistance that holds you back from going for what you really want:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? 

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.