Your Mind, on Exercise--Or--Why Exercise Won't Turn You Into a Cookie Monster

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/13/2009 5:49 PM   :  63 comments   :  16,834 Views

This blog is the second half of my personal response to TIME’s recent article on “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin.” In my last blog, I talked about the biological relationship between exercise and fat loss; here, we’ll be looking at whether there’s any truth to the claim that exercise causes excessive appetite and “compensatory” overeating, making fat loss more difficult.

For those of you who like to cut straight to the bottom line, my answer to this question is: No.

There’s really no reason at all for you to be afraid of exercise if you want to burn fat and lose weight. Just the opposite, in fact. You will need to make sure your meal plan is right for your activity level and weight loss goal, and then stick to that amount of eating as well as you can. But exercise is simply not going to turn you into someone who can’t control your own appetite and eating behavior—unless, of course, that’s what you expect or want it to do.

For those of you who like to know more about the nuts and bolts, read on about the “soul of success”, and find out what can help you stay in charge of your eating no matter how much you exercise.


The Soul of Success

By soul I mean…a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint towards things rather than a thing itself. This perspective is reflective; it comes between us and events and makes differences between ourselves and everything that happens. Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment—and soul-making means [claiming] this middle ground as your own.

--James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology

My reason for bringing the concept of “soul” into this discussion is not to introduce religion into the picture here, but simply to emphasize the point that we human beings come from the factory equipped with accessories that make it possible for us to manage our own impulses and appetites, instead of being managed by them.

This perspective is notably and unfortunately missing from the TIME article, which discusses the research on exercise and eating as if the exercise necessarily causes compensatory eating. That’s not what the research actually says—it just demonstrates a relationship between increased exercise and increased eating, not that one causes the other, or that exercise leads necessarily to overeating.

The S-O-R Model of Human Behavior.

Mainstream psychology has recognized for many years that, for us humans, the relationship between a stimulus (like hunger, or the sight, smell, or taste of an edible substance) and the response (eating or, in this case, overeating) is neither direct nor automatic. Between the stimulus (S) and the response (R), there is an organism (O) that is capable of formulating goals, learning from its own experience, and adjusting both its environment and its own behavior accordingly.

That Organism would be you.

This learning and adjustment happens all the time, regardless of whether we are aware of it or not. Over time it leads us to develop regular patterns of thought and behavior that we usually refer to as “habits.” The more aware we are of this process, the more we can shape our own habits to suit our goals.

Habits are made up partly of innate biological “imperatives” (hunger--we need to eat), partly of natural preferences (sweet, salty, and/or rich foods taste better to us), and partly of learned associations (food X gives me pleasure and/or energy). Individuals differ somewhat in which of these elements are experienced as most compelling or rewarding—for some, a “sweet tooth” may be just a mild preference, while others experience it as almost a craving. These differences also are caused by a combination of biology and experience/learning, which means that to a large extent, even strong cravings can be consciously managed, and even long-standing habits can be changed.

One simple way to think about all this is to remember that there is a difference between hunger (our biological need for nutrients) and appetite (our preferences for particular foods, based on experience and habit). We may need glucose to replace the fuel our exercise has used up, but we don’t have to get it from large blueberry muffins with way more calories than we need. And it’s just not possible to be born with a craving for chocolate, despite how it seems sometimes. Even chocolate is a habit that has to be learned—and can be unlearned.

Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have a built-in nutrition regulator which lets us know when we’ve had enough of each specific nutrient we need to keep ourselves healthy and fit. Or a junk food detector that would let us know when what we’re eating is triggering our preferences but not offering much that we actually need. These would be really handy in a food environment like ours, which routinely produces and markets nutritional nightmares like the Twinkie, and makes obsession with body size and shape seem "normal."

This means we have to put some effort into learning what we need to know and into making good choices. It’s not fun, it’s not glamorous or exciting, but it can be done and it doesn’t take superhuman will power. It can even be rewarding and pleasurable in itself, especially if you can give it some personal meaning beyond the number on the bathroom scale.

And that brings us back to the business of soul-making.

Soul-making is not the same thing as will power or self-control. It’s not about making yourself do something you don’t want to do, or avoid something you do want to do. Those are both things we really do have a pretty limited capacity to be good at or consistent at, as mentioned in the TIME article.

Soul-making is more about learning what you really need, and training yourself to want what you need, instead of just reacting to whatever might be in front of you at the moment. It starts when you begin to acknowledge that it’s YOU who makes decisions and takes action, not your genes or your circumstances, and certainly not the exercise or the food itself. Soul-making picks up momentum when you start curbing all your negative self-talk and verbal self-abuse about how weak or imperfect you are, and start listening to yourself instead of lecturing yourself. This frees up some room in your mind where something worth learning can come up. Once you’ve got your internal soul-making space cleared of all that conditioned garbage, all you really need to do is stop for a moment before you act, and ask yourself: “What do I really need and want right now? What will make me feel better after I'm done eating it?"

This will help you establish communication with your real self, instead of the conditioned self the food, diet, and beauty industries want you to be. Once this happens, soul-making can move on to its next task. That’s the task of re-engineering your daily life so that, as much as possible, what you really need is readily available to you, and you don’t have to constantly fight temptations or go way out of your way to get it.

In short, soul-making is about spending your energy on becoming more fully who you are and who you want to become—not just on fighting your conditioned behavior. One of the great ironies when it comes to changing habits is that you have to accept yourself where and as you are first. This isn’t easy in an environment that seems to constantly pressure and reward you for being something other than who and what you are—but, again, it can be done. It will probably take the support of some fellow-travelers. And lots of patience with yourself and others.

There are lots of practical things you can do to help yourself down this road, but I don’t have room here to talk about many of them. SparkPeople has a 10 Step Program that can help you with this, and any good book on practicing Mindfulness or a similar topic will be full of them.

For me personally, exercise is one of those practical things—a very big one, in fact. It’s when I’m out riding or hiking that I have the time to think about this kind of stuff, look at where I stand, and really get more into my body, which seems to know a lot more about what I really want than my head does, most of the time. So, I guess I could say that exercise does increase my appetite, but not just for food—for learning more about who and what I really am, what floats my boat, and how doing the best I can with what’s in front of me makes me feel better than any number on the scale or my calorie tracker.

And as long as I feed these hungers along with my physiological hunger, my eating and weight tend to take care of themselves pretty well. It's when I count on eating to satisfy one of these other hungers that I get into trouble.

What about you? What helps you stay mindful of what you really want and need, and avoid mindless eating?




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Comments

  • 63
    I LOVE everything you write! Thanks for this empowering article!

    However, I (Pardon me, please!) have to disagree with you on one little thing:

    You said, "Soul-making is more about learning what you really need, and training yourself to want what you need, instead of just reacting to whatever might be in front of you at the moment. It starts when you begin to acknowledge that it’s YOU who makes decisions and takes action, not your genes or your circumstances, and certainly not the exercise or the food itself. Soul-making picks up momentum when you start curbing all your negative self-talk and verbal self-abuse about how weak or imperfect you are, and start listening to yourself instead of lecturing yourself. This frees up some room in your mind where something worth learning can come up. Once you’ve got your internal soul-making space cleared of all that conditioned garbage, all you really need to do is stop for a moment before you act, and ask yourself: “What do I really need and want right now? What will make me feel better after I'm done eating it?"

    This will help you establish communication with your real self, instead of the conditioned self the food, diet, and beauty industries want you to be. Once this happens, soul-making can move on to its next task. That’s the task of re-engineering your daily life so that, as much as possible, what you really need is readily available to you, and you don’t have to constantly fight temptations or go way out of your way to get it. " ... i.e., that soul-making is not the same as self-discipline. If that isn't self-discipline, WHAT IS! As Lou Holtz said, "Self-discipline isn't what you do TO yourself; it's what you do FOR yourself."

    I have a blog in my mind about this ... hope to get it written soon. :)

    I really DO love to read your articles. They are ALWAYS MOTIVATING!

    - 4/9/2011   10:29:41 AM
  • 62
    Maybe the writer of the article was just looking for an excuse to stop exercising. ;-)

    Seriously though, yes I have a bigger appetite when I exercise, but I also have enough common sense to know that eating a cake instead of something more healthy after exercise is just going to undo all the work I just put in. To suggest I have no choice in the matter of what I eat after exercise is to credit me with no intelligence, and I find that insulting.

    Thankyou for correcting and expanding this article into something that actually makes sense. Time should be ashamed.
    Hugs,
    Lex xxx
    - 8/5/2010   5:01:02 AM
  • 61
    Times did a disservice to people if they implied in their article that exercise is counter-productive to losing weight. I've found that without physical activity, it's almost impossible to maintain a healthy weight. And by finding something I love to do (hiking), I'm also 'living my life' instead of sitting and eating because I'm bored. - 6/30/2010   7:26:20 PM
  • 60
    Yes! Yes! Yes!
    Stimulas - Organism - Resonse.
    I am free to CHOOSE healthy or not.
    For me it is all about being concious of choices, and willing to make my own choices. - 6/23/2010   10:31:17 PM
  • 59
    This is a great article! I was very disappointed that TIME would print such a shallow article. You have done a very good job of doing what they should have done.

    We human organisms each have our own unique ways of perceiving and handling things, but my personal observation is that I see a lot more people who, like me, tend to eat healthier and think about what they're eating as fuel for their bodies, when they have a regular exercise routine. Exercise not only burns calories, but it helps relieve stress and boosts my energy level, which helps improve my mood, which helps me stay motivated to make more healthy food choices. Lack of exercise has the opposite effect. - 10/11/2009   10:57:00 AM
  • 58
    It's all about keeping a healthy mindset. The people who exercise and then indulge in a fatty, sugary snack are going to eat the fatty, sugary snack anyway. Those with a healthy mindset will eat quality calories that will refuel them. I know - I used to be the one eating the jumbo muffin with a day's worth of calories. It wasn't about the exercise; it was about the excuse to eat a muffin as big as my head and sit on the couch the rest of the evening. But Dean, please don't malign my beloved chocolate. There's a place for it too, my friend. Just a very small, wonderful, heavenly place! - 10/11/2009   8:32:40 AM
  • 57
    I was really outraged by the Time magazine article. I agree that yes we do need to eat HEALTHY in order to fuel our fitness needs, but just stating that "exercise can actually cause weight gain rather than loss" as Time did is very misleading. I am glad this issue (pun intended) has been addressed here on Spark. - 10/10/2009   11:49:52 AM
  • LANNER50
    56
    This article was ridiculous. I agree with an earlier poster who said it perpeutates this sad apathy and helplessness that seems to be uniquely American. We are always told we can't control things; it's a disease, it's in God's hands, it's pointless to exercise because your hunger will win. How about empowering people to use free will and be accountable for their choices and empowered to expect that for themselves and everyone else. We all have the power to make choices that change. - 9/10/2009   9:19:45 AM
  • 55
    I read the Time article and found it to be truthful in my experience - the only way I met my goal weight [and continue to maintain for 6 months - woo hoo!] is by tracking my nutritional intake. Before I tracked on SP, I was in good shape and still 15 lbs overweight - I had lost 20 by becoming more active and slowly eating less [but I hit a plateau before I tracked every day].

    But the TIME article author tends to reflect the sad issue that pervades our society - that people are told they are powerless. In this article, he implies that "you should not exercise because you, gentle Americans, cannot possible DECIDE for YOURSELVES what to stuff in your GOBS..."

    It's insulting and infuriating and weakens the progress for those vulnerable to this message. How many people read this article and said, forget exercise - what's the point?

    I couldn't agree more with both of your response blogs, Dean.

    Thanks for providing some counter weight to this issue. - 8/21/2009   11:58:44 AM
  • NORACHARLESTOO
    54
    What an amazing article! - 8/20/2009   10:18:59 AM
  • 53
    I don't know about the rest of you, but if I exercise for 45 min and burn X amount of calories, I don't want to eat something that is going to put those calories right back on. For me, exercising makes me more aware of what I put into my body and I am more careful about eating good-for-me foods. Why would you exercise and burn all those calories and then eat a high calorie food, does not make sense to me. That Time article is assuming that after exercise, if a person is hungry, he or she will reach for a high calorie snack, but for me that is not the case. If I am going to put the effort into diet and exercise, then I am not going to binge eat after my exercise session, that would be a waste of time and effort. - 8/19/2009   1:17:51 PM
  • 52
    Thanks very much for this article! As soon as I finished reading the Time article I wondered what the reponse on SP would be. Thanks for pointing out that taking responsibility and control over your eating is the best way to loose weight. The most upsetting part of the Time article for me is that Cloud never once pointed out that people CHOSE to go to starbucks and eat a 350 calorie muffin after a workout. Exercising didn't make them do that. They could have just as easily chosen to eat an apple, a bowl of berries, or some eggs. We all have choices to make in our weight loss and healthy lifestyle journey. We can choose to work out for an hour seven days a week to improve our health... but if we do choose that, let's not blame our exercise choice for making us go to starbucks or dunkin donuts for that *gasp* 500 calorie muffin. - 8/19/2009   9:07:54 AM
  • 51
    I was just thinking after reading this article, the first one, and the TIME article... the TIME article centered around weight loss. Did anyone ask the participants who exercised if they felt more fit? If they could do things easier than before (i.e. walking up stairs)? Did anyone lose inches but maintain weight because they put on muscle? Hm... This seems like a very incomplete study... - 8/19/2009   8:33:12 AM
  • MT2004
    50
    This a great article. I like the idea of mindfulness; it realy does work. Does any one suggest a book that help train yourself on mindfulness? - 8/18/2009   11:09:57 PM
  • 49
    I really like your explanation for the concept of "mindfulness." I had used that term with reference to my emotional state, but it makes sense to use mindfulness" thinking as the basis for my other activities as well--such as nutrition and physical fitness--as well. Thank you for your kind support. - 8/18/2009   9:13:41 PM
  • 48
    Thank you for getting to the core of the problem / solution! I want to internalize every word! Is there a way I can print this article so that I can carry it around with me? Someone please tell me how, if it's possible. Thank you again and again! - 8/18/2009   9:54:40 AM
  • JUSTDOINGITNOW
    47
    Ive never used exercise as a reason to eat more. The way I am being taught to exercise is more of a focus on mind, and getting to know myself. I love this structure and because of it will forever hold exercise near. Great article thanks for sharing! - 8/18/2009   12:00:30 AM
  • 46
    Thank you thank you!! I loved this article! This is exactly what has been happening to me lately. I really appreciate you putting this into words. Wonderful. - 8/17/2009   1:39:37 PM
  • 45
    Sometimes it's not eating less to loose weight - I never ate much, but I'd eat the wrong things. Now I'm eating the right things in the right amounts for my plan and boy, sometimes I have to push myself to eat as much as I'm supposed to to meet my nutritional goals. To make it a little easier, I had to break it down into 6 feeding times - Breakfast, morning snack, Lunch, afternoon snack, Dinner, evening snack. I've only been doing this a month and I've lost 22 pounds eating more that I ever have. Like I said - now I'm eating the right things. - 8/17/2009   1:10:14 PM
  • KNELSO2
    44
    I do better with eating if I get in the exercise. I had a discussion with my trainer last week about the article in the Times. I disagree with the fact that more exercise makes you eat more. However, I do agree that for weight loss, you have to eat less. Period. Even with working out. I liked your wording about the soul-making. I know that to be healthier, my eating habits still need to improve. They are better than they used to be, but for me to get off the current plateau, I need to do better. Knowing you should do better, and actually doing better, however are separate entities. I'm still working on the choices. For myself, I'm not as much working on the weight loss as deciding what habits I wish to put in place for the long term. I still want the occasional treat (I love a good bakery!) - but I'm working on the balance part.
    Thank you again for your great articles, Coach Dean! Your articles are always insightful - I always learn a little more about myself when reading them. Keep up the great work!! - 8/17/2009   12:23:23 AM
  • 43
    This weekend my DH and I were at the farmer's market when he asked if I wanted to get any fresh corn on the cob. I answered no, I'd rather get some kale. This is not something I would have said pre-Spark. It even surprised me a little to hear myself say something that shows I would rather satisfy my specific nutritional needs that I'm tracking for the day instead of merely satisfying my taste buds. I think this means I am making progress! Thanks SP and Coach Dean for caring about our health and helping us care for our own bodies.
    "Soul-making is more about learning what you really need, and training yourself to want what you need, instead of just reacting to whatever might be in front of you at the moment."
    The transition is happening!

    - 8/16/2009   6:41:28 PM
  • 42
    Bravo Coach Dean! You are so right.

    I know that you were not trying to bring religion into it, but a "churchy" word for soul-making is "stewardship." It's all about being aware of what we've been given (gratitude if you will), and taking responsibility and making wise conscious choices about what we do with it.

    The word for "soul" in Greek also means "self", (transliterated "psucha" - from which we get "psychology"). Our society is in many ways "soul-less" because it is easier for commerce if we can be lulled into mindless reactivity to the stimulus urging us to buy and consume, (all kinds of stuff, not just food.) The self-canceling efforts of advertisers are having a terrible effect on us individually and as a society. What great freedom there is when we reclaim ourselves by choosing what we need over what we want!

    Thank you for identifying and challenging the implicit assumption in the Time article that we have no soul. This is a great blog. - 8/16/2009   2:45:14 PM
  • 41
    I can't say I avoid mindless eating all the time (can any of use really?). But lately the biggest help I've had is just avoiding the first bite and (as the saying goes) just saying, "no". It gets harder to resist if I take that first bite. - 8/16/2009   12:59:16 PM
  • CHATWONDER
    40
    Right on track, it's so easy to say I just ran 5 miles now i get a shake, but we all know that isn't a healthy attitude. We all need to stop rationalizing exercise as a way to eat more, and then making bad choices. This is one of my biggest challenges! - 8/16/2009   11:52:48 AM
  • 39
    Signing in to SPARKS every day, keeps me on track. - 8/16/2009   9:32:13 AM
  • BYHISSTRENGTH
    38
    When I start staring into the fridge or pantry I begin to realize that I am not hungry, just bored or something else. So, I will go find something to do like read or even play an online game, sometimes I read my Bible or exercise.

    Great article, once again the media has brought more confusion to people, what it all boils down to it is truly feeding the soul the right information. - 8/16/2009   8:51:02 AM
  • 37
    I think of my goals and ask myself if eating this or that will help me to get there...but sometimes I eat it anyway! - 8/16/2009   7:30:22 AM
  • 36
    Amazing blog, Dean! Profound and practical at the same time - truly great!
    If I had to pick just one sparkfavorite, this would definitely be IT! (til the next one - lol)

    I've been working on a similar project for some months now: Personally I call it reinventing myself, but it's very close to what you describe as soul-making. (and I probably got the idea from you anyway)
    I keep track of the goals that are important to me, the steps I take towards them and my progress at a different site (43 things). I wouldn't say that I've made significant *progress* in the strict sense of moving ahead, but I've come to realize just how much I let my head get in the way. Also, I understand now that I get so easily distracted (or sidetracked) because I am trying to focus on an enormous variety of different goals.

    I *know* that if I have to change *one* thing, it will be exercising regularly again. After all, it helps regulate my appetite (not my hunger), and to keep my thoughts manageable.

    Waves goodbye while listening to "Life is long" by David Byrne. - 8/16/2009   3:07:45 AM
  • 35
    Religion does recognize that the soul is comprised of the mind and will. Of course, something we intellectually know may not be quite what we will, but what you seem to be saying is that we should get the two together!

    Of course, the concept of spirit is entirely different, even though many people confuse the idea of soul and spirit. - 8/15/2009   12:01:20 PM
  • 34
    Awesome posts, Coach! Sounds like you're back in fine fettle now - hope you are feeling MUCH better now!

    I really deplore the "sound bites" mentality that the media seems to focus on now. It's all about headlines that grab one's attention - the fact that that's all a lot of people will read doesn't seem to create an ethical problem for the media any more (did it ever, I wonder!)

    I've known people all my life that tell me that exercising will cause me to eat more - as if eating more in itself is something to be terrified of. These are the same people who look upon exercise as something painful or nasty or a chore, rather than as something fun and a way to stay active - they'd rather starve themselves every time they put on a few pounds!

    Yes, I can eat more when I exercise regularly - my body *needs* those extra calories, but it's not that exercise *makes* me eat more, rather that I'm choosing to allow myself a few more calories to fuel the exercise I want to do.

    I don't really know what helps me stay mindful, simply that now that I'm *working* on being aware of the choices I make every minute of every day, I'm much more likely to make healthy choices! :)
    - 8/15/2009   3:12:03 AM
  • CIAOBELLA57
    33
    What a powerful, timely (pun intended) blog. I literally had to reread twice the statement:

    "Soul-making is more about learning what you really need, and training yourself to want what you need, not just whatever might be in front of you at the moment."

    I'm sure as a child, I liked sweets and junk food, but I honestly do not recall. When my ED began at age 11, I learned to train my mind to not feel hungry. Later in life, when I discovered exercise was not simply a way to increase weight loss, but something that for the first time in my life created a confidence and joy in my body (rather than shame) that I had never experienced before in my lifetime.

    My resting pulse rate has dropped from a frenzied 88 to a low of 62. My lung capacity is 99.2% even after half of my left lung was removed 3 years ago.

    I am never hungry after my spinning classes, but do notice an increase after
    either my iron pump class or the lower weight higher rep class. Again, this is probably no more than visualization; I can see (and definately feel!) the muscle tear of strength training and know that adequate protein afterwards will help rebuild muscle tissue.

    The editors of that articled did a great disservice by printing that article and in all liklihood created even more harm than exists today.

    - 8/14/2009   6:23:08 PM
  • 32
    SP and tracking my food...every morsel - 8/14/2009   4:48:04 PM
  • 31
    HEAR HEAR! I love this one - it reflects everything that brought me to SP. I've started a mindfulness practice as part of my overall healthy lifestyle changes that I want to incorporate and added daily meditation as one of my other goals. I love to learn, and when I started learning about the mind-body connection and how I can change my habits and the way I interact with my environment, it seemed natural to put it all into practice. Thanks, SP, for once again validating that this is right path for me! - 8/14/2009   4:05:35 PM
  • SECRETMUSIC
    30
    What helps me stay mindful of what I really want and need? SparkPeople. - 8/14/2009   3:07:36 PM
  • 29
    If the by line says 'Coach Dean'- it's usually going to be saved in my favorites... yup, another one!
    Thanks. You say it so eloquently. - 8/14/2009   2:58:04 PM
  • 28
    Thank you, Coach Dean, for another great blog. Your articles really make us think about what is most important in our daily lives. - 8/14/2009   1:59:41 PM
  • 27

    Wow! What a fabulous article! It is practical and applicable to any age. Yes....one's mental focus is 99% of the battle. - 8/14/2009   1:07:23 PM
  • 26
    This is where I have been trying to get ot for years...thank you for laying it out for me, I have put it in my favorites for future reminder when I go back to the old way of looking at things. - 8/14/2009   12:49:30 PM
  • 25
    Thanks for writing about the Times article. I read that article, and can only conclude the person writing it has a very hard time with self accountability. I, too, believe we need to put our souls into this way of living. I will continue to watch my caloric intake and do my workouts. I feel better, I look better, and I think better. Enough said. - 8/14/2009   11:57:11 AM
  • 24
    I want to thank you for these 2 writings that respond to that article in Time. I heard an interview with the author that day the article came out and I so wanted to talk back to my radio. I think an article like that can be an excuse for people to say "Why bother to exercise?", which is really a disservice to so many.

    Sometimes when I exercise I am hungry afterwards and sometimes it makes my appetite go away. Every person is different and depending on the situtation we may react in a variety of ways.

    I am in the middle of my weight loss journey and currently I have gained a few pounds. I am in the process of refocusing and I know that when I have been successful it is because of "Soul-Making". I hear so many people talk of dieting or food or exercise, what's good and what's bad, and the conclusion that I have come to is that it all comes down to basics. Fresh foods and not to much of them and regular exercise is really what works. Everything in moderation. I do not mean to imply that this is fast or easy, it is not.

    Thanks again for your words. Kristin - 8/14/2009   11:39:53 AM
  • 23
    FYI on eating junk food. A good friend of mine graduated college with a degree in biology. She got a job after college with a nationally known chip manufacturer. Her job is to make it difficult to eat just one chip. That's why so many "junk" foods are hard to resist just having one, they have biologists working hard to make their foods addictive. So don't do the classic mistake at a party and say "I'll just have one chip." There is a biologist out there making sure you can't resist. - 8/14/2009   10:09:37 AM
  • 22
    Coach Dean, once again you have written an insightful, eloquent, hit-the-nail-on-the-head blog. I am SO in the spot that you described, and this really hit home. I am searching for a way to Maintain my weight loss, and being Mindful is one of the most difficult things for me. I, too, find solace in my exercise time, because it gives me the meditative opportunity to review how I'm doing and how to improve. I also find it extremely helpful to continually set small goals for myself, and once reaching them, celebrate my small successes. I don't buy into the TIME article at all (the author lost me at "exercise your self-esteem muscle," which I think is laughable). The author is not credible. You, however, have glorious motivation tucked between the lines of your blog. Thank you, thank you for this food for thought. Pun intended!!! - 8/14/2009   10:08:41 AM
  • 21
    coach, your down-to-earth, cut-to-the-chase, in-your-face analyses absolutely slay me. you have the gift, intelligence, extraordinary communication skills, and ability to hone in directly on the link in the mental chain of events between pleasure/want and sustenance/need, highlighting it, bringing it to the forefront and under the spotlight. i always appreciate your insights and guidance. you are a gifted man in many respects, despite that you may not feel that way some days. thank you for being here on sp, sharing your thoughts, breaking things down for us, and confirming for us sparkers that, in the end, each of us is the master of our health, decisions, and mindfulness. being real with and about your feelings, addressing those concerns appropriately, and using honesty as an educational tool are all parts of that puzzle to undo negative or self-destructive (sometimes unconscious) behaviors and replace it with healthy, mindful habits. dean, you're feeling better, arent' you? i'm so happy for you! nancy - 8/14/2009   9:03:55 AM
  • 20
    Thank you so much not only for blowing a hole in the idea of a causal relationship between exercising and overeating, but also for reminding us that we do have the personal power to take back our lives and redirect our courses. There are things I’m powerless over (other people, the weather, the genes I inherited), but so many more (what to eat, how to exercise, what kind of attitude to adopt) that I have a choice about. You’ve helped remind me that I feel my best and do my best when I see myself as a powerful individual who takes charge of her life! - 8/14/2009   8:58:13 AM
  • RLMCCUE
    19
    Right now learning what my body needs for fuel vs. what my mind craves is still a learning experience for me, and the nutrition tracker helps tremendously. I don't always avoid those cravings for too much chocolate, but seeing the numbers in the nutrition tracker makes me ask myself, "Did I really enjoy that? Did I really need it, or did I give into my mind playing tricks on me?" I now get great pleasure from reviewing my nutrition tracker and seeing days where I not only met my caloric range, but met my fiber, protein, and sodium targets. I'm slowly learning, and believe that I will always be learning more from my body. It's simply amazing and I appreciate all the opportunites being healthier gives me. - 8/14/2009   8:16:20 AM
  • 18
    I can only speak from my own experience. I have been trying to lose 20 lbs for the last couple of years. Nothing I worked tried until I joined SparkPeople on April 23 of this year. I exercise 5-6 times a week and log every single thing that goes into my mouth - including every piece of sugarless gum! In three months I have lost 25 pounds. I now find myself having to increase the amount of calories I consume to stop the weight loss. On top of that I have a strong family history of coronary artery disease. I KNOW exercise works because I've managed to get my resting heart rate down to 53. Everyone's different, but the program - including exercise - works for me - body AND soul. - 8/14/2009   7:53:58 AM
  • 17
    I just took a career launch seminar...I did not learn to launch a career...I learned all about attitude, time management, conflict, communication, nutrition, exercise and how it all connects and how negative self talk or positive self talk can effect outcomes...basically it was a class on soul building - 8/14/2009   6:47:52 AM
  • KAREN214
    16
    First off this article really made me angry. I work with Cardiologist and see many over weight young adults who can not do simple exercise like walking. I am a exerciser for years and feel exercise is my drug. When my mind is not in the right place and /or I am frustated I can think and sore out thing while I exercise and my body and mind keep stable.

    - 8/14/2009   5:12:43 AM
  • 15
    I'm slowing learning which exercises I can do without further compromising the disease in my legs. - 8/14/2009   3:45:31 AM
  • 14
    For me, the "getting to know yourself" part of lifestyle change has helped me a lot. I know that I like to be active, but I'm not a "gym rat" or a runner. I love yoga and Pilates, and I walk whenever I can. I am also learning, over many years, to pay attention to what my body really does want to eat. I've developed food choices and eating habits that have helped me maintain my weight loss for over 5 years now. At the same time, I've been teaching myself and my family the benefits of eating real, whole, organic food that's been well prepared. Whenever I take the time to prepare a meal that's mostly organic vegetables with whole grains, I feel as though I am giving everyone a little health boost. We all need the whole picture -- and that includes moving our bodies which have been built to move and work, and feeding ourselves the best food we can. Yes, it takes a bit more time and energy, and yes, we do have to ignore a lot of what our market-based culture wants to sell us. But we can do it, and feel much better for it! - 8/14/2009   2:35:50 AM

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