This guest article was written by Sue Ann Gleason, Conscious Bites Nutrition
Do you find yourself traveling from one diet or nutritional system to the next, but never really getting a handle on your weight, your energy, or the moods that send you running to the refrigerator when you’re not even hungry?
You may be suffering from toxic weight syndrome. Okay, I made that up. But the reality is: the not-so-obvious toxins in our lives show up as pounds of protection. Toxic relationships. Toxic thoughts. Toxic habits. You can drink gallons of green juice and try all kinds of cleansing routines and still not get the results you’re looking for if you don’t address the underlying issues around weight gain and energy leaks.
From Clutter to Calm
Let’s talk about the relationship between clutter and weight. Why do we need to look at the clutter in our lives? Clutter contributes to stress and stress reduces our metabolic power and sets off a cascade of hormonal events that create physiologic changes in our bodies. These changes impact our skin, heart rate, digestion, joints, muscles, energy levels. Even the hair on our heads.
I don’t know about you, but whenever my office space or any room in my house gets cluttered, my energy changes. My sister came for a visit recently. She took one look at my utility room and insisted we take a few hours to tackle the piles. I wanted to crawl under the bed and hide. I abhor tackling piles. We spent about three hours organizing and discarding items that I no longer needed. A few days later we attacked my closet. Even after she had gone, I found myself walking into those two spaces just to feel the spaciousness we had created. Energetically I felt lighter.
But even more important were the insights I gained from that experience.
• Sometimes we need some company to accomplish a task that seems overwhelming. Anything we tackle with a little togetherness has the potential to be transformed from drudgery to delight. I can’t tell you how hard we laughed as my sister held up articles of clothing that I had been hanging onto.
• Sometimes we need to practice viewing things through someone else’s eyes. Talk about visual acuity!
• Sometimes it just takes a little jump-start to form a new habit. I’m now setting a timer for just 15-20 minutes per day to de-clutter one area of my life: email subscriptions, closets, drawers, files, cupboards, you name it. In his book The Power of Less, Leo Babauta says, “Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” It’s a work in progress.
And then, there’s psychic clutter. You know—saying yes when your heart says no, holding onto resentment, stuffing anger, or denying disappointment. Psychic clutter shows up when we forget to take care of ourselves. Psychic clutter shows up when we forget to attend to the energy leaks in our lives.
Less is More
We are living at a frenetic pace. We are overscheduled. Our kids are overscheduled. And we are paying a price for our productivity. If we want to make a huge impact on the obesity epidemic in this country, we’re going to have to slow down. See if you can adopt just one of these practices to start. Your adrenals will thank you. And, as an added bonus, you may just see a shift in your weight.
• Reduce or eliminate the artificial stimulants in your diet. Yep, I’m talking about the cup of coffee you consume to jump start your day or the diet soda you reach for when the clock strikes three. Without the caffeine crutch to get you up and running in the morning, you might consider turning in a little earlier to get the sleep your body is calling for. Sleep is when the body does its restorative work—when our cells take the time to heal and detoxify, refuel and recharge for the day ahead.
• Replace refined sugar or “energy” drinks with oxygen. That’s right. Breathe. Get up from your desk before the 3:00 p.m. slump hits and go for a brisk walk around your home or office building. The fresh air will oxygenate your blood and give you exactly what you need to make it through the rest of the afternoon.
• At least once a day, slow down and notice—really notice—one thing of beauty in your surroundings. That could be the color of the foliage as you drive to or from work, the texture of a paperweight, the way the light filters through your windows. I’ve heard some beautiful phrases to describe this practice: dropping into the present, falling still, loving what is. Adopt the phrase that feels good to you and know that distress lies in the stories we tell ourselves about the past or the future. There is serenity in the present moment.
And finally, pay attention to the energy leaks in your life. What drains you? Are you saying yes when you should be saying no? Are you spending time with people who deplete your energy or are you cultivating relationships with people who inspire you and make you laugh? Do you have solid boundaries when it comes to family or work responsibilities? Not only do energy leaks contribute to “toxic weight syndrome,” they rob us of the glow.
And we can all use a little less stress, and a lot more glow. Don’t you think?
Sue Ann Gleason, founder of Conscious Bites Nutrition, is a Washington, DC-based culinary nutritionist, dynamic eating psychology coach, speaker, and writer. Her entertaining, cutting-edge articles on nutrition, healthful living, the psychology of eating, and the blissful benefits of chocolate have appeared in various publications as well as her own eco-friendly blog: ChocolateforBreakfast.com
When not working with private clients, Sue Ann can be found sampling exotic chocolates or building broccoli forests in her mashed potatoes. Click here for Sue Ann’s No Longer Asleep at the Meal ebook or check out her chocolate playground on facebook.