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Why I’ve been MIA lately

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Sorry for my mysterious absence these last few weeks, but I’ve had a really big shove from the universe, and I have decided to run with it. See, in the span of just a couple weeks I have nearly 2 dozen people suggest that I start teaching cooking classes.

At first I just thought ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll think about it’. But by the 10th or 15th person I realized there was something bigger going on here and that I better not ignore it!

Since curing myself of depression, and overcoming chronic exhaustion by changing my diet, I’ve developed a real passion for creating food that not only tastes delicious, but helps to balance my mood and keep my energy high throughout the day.

I have already incorporated this knowledge by sharing recipes and information with my clients, but what I’m hearing is that a lot of people feel intimidated about trying new foods. They would feel better if someone showed them how to make some new, easy, tasty dishes so they could confidently incorporate some new healthy recipes into their life.

So that is the direction I am moving in. I will still continue with my health coaching practice, and continue to offer my support to those who struggle with food and body issues, but that will no longer be the main focus of my newsletter or blog. Instead I will be sharing feel-good food recipes, food information and cooking tips.

Thank you so much for supporting me so far in my journey with my business, and for your patience as I completely overhaul my website in the next month.

If you want to stay in the loop with my recipes, classes, etc., please check out my Facebook page here.

Sending lots of love and appreciation your way!

 

Leanne, wtf should I eat???

young woman surrounded my many cakes and fruits not sure what to eat

If you are like most of us these days you are overwhelmed with messages about what to eat. One week everyone is going on about how Paleo is the way to go, and the next week we’re told that eating meat gives you cancer and we should all go vegan instead.

There’s a lot of very compelling but often contradictory advice on what we “should” be eating.

If you are like most people you’ve maybe dabbled with different diets but found all the rule-following way too difficult and soon threw in the towel and went back to your trusty cheeseburgers and brownies.

I know all about food confusion. During my schooling at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, we learned 100 different dietary theories – from Atkins to raw vegan and everything in between. We were taught by the leading experts, doctors, and scientists about each way of eating and were presented with all the corresponding research on why that particular style of eating was the best. Week after week we were bombarded by contradictory claims and research for each dietary theory…and encouraged to try them all!

I literally felt like my head was going to explode! I felt stressed, anxious, and more than a little overwhelmed around food.

I got to a point where I couldn’t look at a food without thinking of all the ways it was probably slowly poisoning me.

About halfway through the program, the lead instructor asked if we were feeling confused about what to eat. OMG ya think? He then explained that this was done on purpose, with the point being that nutrition is not an exact science – what’s a great way of eating for one person is terrible for the next person (he called it ‘bioindividuality’) and that we needed to get away from believing there is one right way to eat.

The only way to figure out the best way of eating for you is to simply play around with it and not get hung up on food rules or worrying about fitting into some kind of one-size-fits-all box. (And FYI the stress caused by trying to adhere to someone else’s rules about what you should eat is likely far more damaging to your health than what you actually eat.)

Practising intuitive eating, and paying attention to what your body actually wants (including honouring physical cravings), is a really great way to know what and how much of each food your body actually needs, and is the method I most recommend. However if you are looking for more objective advice to get to know what the best types and ratios of food is for your body, there are some simple things you could play around with.

For instance you could try varying the amounts of

  • proteins (particularly meat and other animal protein)
  • fats
  • complex and simple carbohydrates
  • veggies
  • caffeine
  • water (not a food I know but deserves to be on this list)

Simply pick 1 thing to do differently for 2 weeks and monitor things like mood, digestion and energy throughout the day and keep track. After 2 weeks you should have a very clear idea on whether that change made you feel better, worse or the same. Going forward you have that information to help guide your food choices with no rigid rules required.

I love helping people out with their food conundrums…so if you feel like you could use some guidance in this area, I’m offering 5 free 30 minute coaching sessions this month to help answer your most pressing food related questions and help get you on your way to figuring out your @#$% with food.  Simply email me at leannebrunelle@hotmail.com to claim for your free session.

A super easy tool to cultivate self-compassion

I went to a meditation group this week and was reminded of a simple yet powerful meditation that helps to grow a deep sense of compassion within ourselves.  By generating feelings of compassion we can learn to stop being our own worst enemy and learn to take care of ourselves in a more loving way.   I included the transcript below if you would rather do the meditation on your own.

Hey everyone!  Today I’m going to be doing something a little different.

What I truly want for all of you is to learn how to cultivate a sense of self-compassion. So today I want to lead you on a guided meditation which I believe is the fastest and easiest ways to develop it. It also does many wonderful like improving your mood, decreasing stress and negative self-talk.

I’m going to guide you in a 10 minute meditation, that if you use daily for even 1 week, you will start noticing positive changes in your life.  Before we start please go find yourself somewhere quiet to sit.

I’m going to lead you on a loving kindness meditation, where by sending out good feelings and energy to others, we end up growing and magnifying those good feelings in ourselves. We start by wishing good things for ourselves and gradually expand those wishes to include everyone.

This is a concept taught in Buddhism, but is applicable to everyone regardless of their beliefs. Buddhism teaches that our minds are trainable, and this is a quick easy meditation to help us with that process.

Close your eyes.  I want you to take 3 deep breaths, counting to 4 on the inhale and on the exhale. Get present in your body. Scan your body for areas of tension and on your next exhale release them fully.  Feel loose like a rag doll.

Ok let’s get started. I will say what I’d like for you to focus on and then give you a minute to really generate the thoughts and feelings inside your body.

“May I be free from self-judgement

May I be free from jealousy

May I be free from suffering

May I be filled with peace

May I be filled with love

 

May everyone in my family be free from self-judgement

Be free from jealousy

Be free from suffering

Be filled with peace

And be filled with love

 

May everyone in my city be free from self-judgement

Be free from jealousy

Be free from suffering

Be filled with peace

And be filled with love

 

May everyone in my country be free from self-judgement

Be free from jealousy

Be free from suffering

Be filled with peace

And be filled with love

 

May everyone in the world be free from self-judgement

Be free from jealousy

Be free from suffering

Be filled with peace

And be filled with love”

 

Keeping your eyes closed I want you to take one more deep breath and as you do I want you to notice the positive feelings you have built up in your body.  Try to carry this sense of peace and love with you as you go into your day.  And if you find yourself judging yourself or someone else, come back to wishing for love and kindness for yourself and those around you.

Go ahead and open your eyes slowly. I hope this meditation serves you and helps you increase your sense of self-compassion. Please take a few minutes every day to use this meditation and let me know what positive changes you notice.

 

 

 

Dealing with emotional eating

Have you ever struggled with emotional eating? Earlier this week I was asked about the best ways to deal with emotional eating. I know it’s something that many of us deal with, especially women, so I wanted to share what has helped me the most with my emotional eating.

First of all I want to talk about what emotional eating is, and what it’s not. Emotional eating is a coping mechanism for when we have thoughts, feelings, or situations we don’t yet have the tools to deal with. It is not a horrible character flaw we’ve been cursed with – in fact everybody even “normal” eaters, eat emotionally sometimes too.

Emotional eating is likely responsible for preserving your sanity at some point or another in your life. Soothing you and distracting you with things felt really out of control. So it’s not actually as horrible as we’ve been led to believe. Personally I’d say it’s probably a better choice than say heroin…but that’s just me.

Here’s the reason why we want to come to peace with emotional eating. Once you stop shaming and judging yourself for it, there’s a very good chance you’ll actually do it less! You see when we treat emotional eating like some dirty shameful behaviour then when we engage in it we beat ourselves up over it, we wonder what the eff is wrong with us, we think we’re a big failure on our diet… and when we do this there are two very likely negative consequences to it.

The first one is we go from simply eating emotionally, straight into binge eating. We feel so ashamed about our perceived failure that we continue eating to drown out that inner bitch who’s telling us that we’ll never get our shit together.

The other likely result of judging emotional eating, even if it doesn’t end up in binge eating, is that you still walk away feeling like there’s something wrong with you that needs to be fixed. Over time that erodes your self-esteem and leads you right back into emotional eating.

By staying in a place of non-judgement around your emotional eating, you’ll find that it stops being the distraction you have been using it for, and the power food has had over your life will start to dwindle.

Now this is not to say that you will never emotionally eat again. There will be times in your life where life is throwing you curveballs that are more than you can handle, and you will need something to help you get through those times.

For example what happened to me recently is my thyroid went on the fritz for some reason. This made me feel tired, irritable, and depressed. As a result I noticed that sometimes I was eating just to try help myself feel better. I was super gentle with myself through this process and I never let guilt or shame creep in, but instead I focused my energy on doing the things I could do to help myself feel better. In the past when this happened I judged and shamed myself so harshly that I ended up slipping into a full on depression, continued to use food to cope with my feelings of shame, and definitely had no motivation to go out and do self-care things like exercise. And I stayed caught in that cycle for months at a time.

So the lesson here is to just gently accept your emotional eating, refuse to hop on that shame roller coaster, and before you know it you’ll get to a place where emotional eating dies down naturally. By not getting caught up in the drama you associate with emotional eating, you give yourself space to actually deal with your life, rather than distracting yourself from it.

Here’s what I’d like you to do for homework. Notice when you want to emotionally eat. Then get really curious about why. You can ask yourself questions like “What am I feeling?” and “What do I most need in this moment?” Simply do your best to figure out how to satisfy that need. Be kind and compassionate, like you would for someone else you care about who is going through the same thing.

One thing to keep in mind here, you may still need to emotionally eat as you start learning new tools on how to best look after yourself. You need to work on being OK with that. If you can stay in that place non-judgement of your eating, as well as learn new ways to care for yourself, you’ll find that you will not only heal your relationship to food, you will heal your relationship with yourself.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

A new approach to holiday weight gain

Ok now I know I’m not alone here when I say I gained a few pounds over the holidays (which included some time with my family in Hawaii laying on beaches, enjoying delicious food and drinks and simply not holding back from experiencing all the wonderful things in life).

Here’s what my typical response was in the past to the inevitable extra holiday 5 or 10 lbs I would gain every year. First I would feel so self conscious and gross that going out in public was limited to a bare minimum - and all while wearing yoga pants or other frumpy clothes so I wouldn’t constantly be reminded that my clothes were tighter now.

The body shaming would usually continue long after Xmas and I would soothe myself by emotionally eating and bingeing on any leftover baking or any chocolate that remained in the house. I’d tell myself that I’d have to eat it all now because as soon as it’s gone then the diet starts.

It would take me weeks or sometimes even months to recover from this awful guilt/shame/judgment cycle I put myself in every year.

This year was different. I am committed to enjoying my life (and my holidays!) fully, without letting the diet/body shaming mentality creep in. These are the things I remind myself if I catch my mind starting to focus on my weight:

  • there is no diet ‘starting soon’ (so I have no urges to binge or emotionally eat)
  • knowing what I know about weight set point theory, I know my body will move to the weight it’s supposed to be at on it’s own (especially since I’m not being triggered to binge)
  • no matter what size my body is, it’s still a beautiful, amazing and wonderful gift that enables me to experience all the great things in life (and that I now choose to celebrate and care for rather than abuse and hate)
  • oh yeah MOST people gain weight over the holidays and that does not make them BAD people! I don’t love anyone any less if they gained weight - and I’m sure you don’t either

Instead of the self punishing cycle I normally find myself on this time of year I am instead in a period of increased peacefulness, love and respect for my body - I haven’t had a moment of stress, despair, panic or shame about my body, and no bingeing, emotional eating or other weird behaviours around food.

I encourage you to try - even for a short period as an experiment - how your life, behaviour around food, and stress level would be different if you tried taking the attitude that holiday weight gain is not the end of the world, and instead use your valuable time and energy cultivating a more loving accepting relationship with your body.

Comment below to let me know how that goes for you!!

New Years resolutions that you’ll actually achieve!

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With New Years’ Day right around the corner the time is ripe for setting some New Years resolutions. I would lay money that a big percentage of those resolutions made have something to do with losing weight (I can’t even count how many times I made that resolution!!).

The crazy thing about making this a resolution is that there is actually no proven way to permanently lose weight – with diets failing at least 95% of the time (and many of those who do maintain the loss past 2 years fall into the category of clinically disordered eaters). So why set a goal that statistically you are going to fail at?

At the root of the goal to lose weight is the belief that doing so will make you happier (it might for a short time, until you gain it all back – and then some!), so instead I propose that you make some resolutions with the much more achievable goal of becoming happier!

Here is a list of some behaviours you can resolve to lose instead:

1. Dieting. As stated earlier, losing weight and keeping it off are biologically pretty much impossible. Letting your happiness be dependent on your weight guarantees ups and (mostly) downs in your joyfulness…not to mention how joyful are you when you are dieting?!? Dieting, especially with the repeated ups and downs with your weight, is actually much more harmful to your health than being overweight or even moderately obese. Instead of dieting, learn to tune back into your body’s hunger and fullness signals and your weight will stabilize where it’s supposed to – you’ll live longer, be healthier and happier!!

2. Judging your body. As humans we are designed to come in a variety of shapes and sizes – just look at other animals like dogs! By judging your body you are not making yourself thin. If anything, by making yourself feel badly about your body, you are infinitely more likely to use food to soothe yourself! Notice your thoughts when you are judging yourself and replace it with a body positive thought such as ‘bodies are supposed to come in different shapes and sizes, and they are all equally good bodies’.

3. Consuming body shaming media. Women’s and fashion magazines are the worst offenders for triggering negative body image. The young, photoshopped and often underweight women portrayed are always shown in a positive light, with average bodies pretty well never shown (or if they are, they are usually a ‘before’ picture). It’s hard not to unfavourably compare ourselves to this thin body type if we are being constantly being sold the idea that this is what all humans ‘should’ look like. It’s hard not to fall into diet mentality when you are bombarded with articles on ‘who got thin, and how you can too!’ (psst! we can’t, remember?). Those types of magazines are usually the ones to try to avoid but if you notice you’re feeling bad about yourself when watching certain tv shows, then that’s your clue to avoid those too! Instead, surround yourself with beautiful images of women of all sizes. Try filling your instagram feed with body positive images of plus sized models (who start at size 8 btw!).

4. Weighing yourself. Nothing can send you back to crazy diet brain than stepping on a scale. The scale is nothing but a tool to judge your body. And remember, we aren’t doing that anymore! Just like dieting, weighing yourself has never made you permanently thin (and may also lead to shame, which also leads to emotional eating), so getting rid of it will not make you fat either. Most of my clients really resist this one, but the ones who successfully implement this are soo much happier than those who still hang on to their scales. Get it out of the house, or have a fun scale smashing ceremony!

This year make a resolution to quit doing things that make you miserable and replace them with some new behaviours that will help increase your level of happiness. This is a totally achievable goal! When you focus your energy on gaining happiness, rather than losing weight, I guarantee 2016 will be your best year yet!!