Food safety tips during and after a power outage

Many of us in Florida are dealing with power outages this hurricane season and that means our refrigerated and freezer items are at risk for developing bacteria.  The question that immediately comes up is, is it safe to eat? Perhaps it’s time for a refresher on a few food safety tips:

  1. Cold (refrigerated) foods should be kept at or below 40ºF. Your appliance will have a temperature setting to tell you where it’s at, but try to avoid opening it as much as possible so you don’t let the cool air out. A closed refrigerator that is full should keep the food cold enough for about four hours.  Once the temp drops below 40ºF, you have a two hour window before the food becomes an ideal environment to grow bacteria.
    • Hopefully you’ve stocked up on ice and coolers to start putting your important items in. Personally, I suggest consuming high risk items prior to reaching above 40º such as eggs, mayonnaise and mayonnaise based products such as tuna/potato/chicken salad and any leftovers.
    • Fruits and vegetables will last much longer than two hours and many are shelf stable, so don’t worry too much about these. An exception would be berries and grapes that tend to spoil quickly. Eat those first.
  2. Frozen items should be kept at or below 0ºF. Again, your freezer should tell you this, but don’t open it more than you have to. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full).
    • It is best to keep the items close together so they keep each other cold. Once it rises above 0ºF, watch it as many of those items will be okay if cooked before reaching above 40ºF. Unfortunately if they go over that 40ºF past two hours, especially frozen meats, it’s time to throw them out. It’s just not worth the risk of getting sick.
    • Remember, you can put some of your refrigerated items in the freezer to keep them under their 40ºF for a longer period of time and you may be able to save them.
    • Having extra ice packs, even dry ice if you can get some, full tupperware of frozen water, and full frozen ice trays stocked in your freezer can help keep the food at ideal temperatures for as long as possible.
  3. Hopefully you stocked up on nonperishables. If you didn’t, there will likely be a next time and might as well plan sooner than later. These are some of my favorites:
    • Quest protein bars
    • Starbucks light double shots (gotta have coffee)
    • Trail mix or mixed nuts or any kind of nuts are great
    • Peanut butter or any kind of nut butter
    • Triscuits (for spreading nut butter on – better than just plain ol’ bread to me)
    • Bananas
    • Tangerines
    • Tomatoes (I could eat these like apples!)
    • Apples
    • Beef jerky
    • Pre-seasoned tuna pouches
    • 3 ounce chicken cans
    • Cracklin oat bran cereal (or granola is good too!)
    • Animal crackers (okay, not most nutritional, but gotta have a crunchy snack!)
    • Dried fruit (I got mini raisin boxes, mangos, and apricots this go around)
    • Pita bread
    • Avocados
    • 1 gallon water per person per day
  4. A sample menu for you using only shelf stable food:
    • Breakfast:
      • Quest bar + tangerine
      • Pita bread with peanut butter and banana sandwich
      • Cracklin oat bran + 1/4 cup dried fruit
      • All to include Starbucks light double shot of course!
    • Lunch/Dinner:
      • Tuna pouch + sliced tomato + 8 triscuits
      • Pita bread + sliced avocado + canned chicken + 10 animal crackers
      • Peanut butter spread on 8 triscuits + mini raisin box
      • Pita bread with peanut butter and banana sandwich + 1/4 cup trail mix
    • Snack tips:
      • No stress eating! This is a stressful time, but it’s not going to make you feel better. I’ve written lots of posts on this in the past explaining why.
      • Stick to the rule of eating every three hours as much as you can. Your meals are possibly going to be smaller, however, so eat to hunger if necessary. High protein, shelf stable snacks include: nuts, trail mix, beef jerky, canned chicken, and tuna pouches. When the power goes out, cheese sticks and yogurt are great to eat up first. I also recommend hard boiling your eggs beforehand so you have snacks and breakfast items to eat while they are still in the correct temperature zones. Remember, you are probably going to have to throw out these highly perishable items anyway- cook them while you can!
  5. What do you do when the power comes back on?
    • Do not, I repeat, do not rely on odor and appearance to determine if a food is safe to eat. You gotta rely on temperatures. Trust me when I say, a food borne illness in the aftermath of a hurricane is not something you want to be dealing with.
    • Throw anything out that has reached above 40ºF for longer than two hours. Period. Especially meats that started to defrost and any frozen items that no longer have ice crystals.
    • If a food has been determined safe to eat and is perishable, such as eggs, meat, etc – be sure to cook it all the way. No rare steak or sunny side up eggs just to be sure.
    • Lastly, when in doubt, just throw it out. You can always replace the food later. Be safe!

P.S. If you’re looking for online support with like minded moms striving to live a healthier lifestyle, you may be interested in joining my free online support group here.

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Jillian McMullen, RDN, CSOWM, LDN

Anxious eating & why it’s the worst!

I used to think I wasn’t an emotional eater. That I couldn’t understand the concept of eating when you’re sad, lonely, angry, overly stressed, or even bored. Until I found myself devouring a bag of m&ms down into my anxious stomach.

Anxiety. Most of us feel it at some time or another. It’s our body’s healthy response to imminent danger. Except when there is none. And then we’re just sitting there fearing the world around us but we really don’t know what is making us want to jump out of our own skin. So why food? It’s a distraction. And a damn good one at that.

Anxiety is really uncomfortable. Our world gives us so many reasons to feel it more often than not. The symptoms range from a flipping stomach, mild or severe headache, pounding heart, shaky hands, sweating, inability to focus, crying, irrational fear. None of these symptoms are easy to sit in. And multiply them by ten during an anxiety attack. The most common reason for ER visits in the U.S. is due to chest pain, which is often caused by anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks from unsuspecting individuals that think they are having a heart attack. I believe this is why many people fall into drug and alcohol addiction or otherwise. Escaping it consumes the thoughts of an anxious person.

And then there’s food. High carbohydrate, high fat, sugary food to be exact. Why? Because it triggers a dopamine response similar to narcotic-like drugs that lessens the anxiety. But, exactly like a drug, over time the brain becomes less stimulated by the food and needs more to experience the same effect. This is why people can feel like they’re addicted to sugar. In a sense, they are.

How can you get rid of it without becoming addicted to an unhealthy habit? I was taught by a psychologist that the best way was to ride it out. Sounds crazy right? But in reality, an anxiety attack isn’t going to kill you like a heart attack and it WILL eventually end. The fear that leads to the unhealthy habit to make it end NOW is that it will NEVER end. But rest assured, most anxiety attacks end in an average of 10 minutes.

What about that nagging, everyday anxiety that many of us feel until we’re elbow deep into a bag of potato chips? Personally, I’ve found listening to music, prayer, and deep breaths with citrus essential oils to be most helpful. If you don’t have citrus essential oils, a fresh cut orange, lemon, or grapefruit will do. Studies have indicated that most adults take shallow breathes from our sternum. However, as children, we start out taking deep, slow breathes from our abdomens – about six per minute. This is how we are naturally built. But as we age and life happens, we take quicker, shorter breaths that feed less oxygen into our nervous systems. No wonder stress has such a damaging physical effect on our bodies!

For other types of emotions I’ve recommended journaling. For the anxious person this isn’t always realistic due to the inability to focus. So try simpler tasks like coloring, painting, and going for a short walk. Thing is, as I’ve said in my previous posts on the subject of emotional eating, you won’t know what works until you give it a shot. We all know eating works. But if you’re reading my posts, I’m guessing you want to get away from that.

Let me know in the comments what you discover works for you, whether in this post or not and let’s help each other!

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How to fail at weight loss in 4 easy steps

“I’ve been working really hard at this! Why I haven’t I lost weight?!”

I hear this question all the time. There isn’t just one answer to this seemingly simple question. But I’m going to attempt to offer some insight here that may help many of you out.

Here we go, how to fail at weight loss:

  1. Go the the gym. And nothing else. You’re burning more calories right? Wrong. Going to the gym doesn’t give you a license to sit the rest of the day. And definitely not one to continue eating as usual. Losing weight is 80% diet and 20% physical activity. You simply can not lose weight and continue with your afternoon sweet fix, sweet tea at dinner, Friday night pizza and wings, and coffee with extra whip cream every morning. At best, you can expect to burn an extra 200-300  calories at the gym, the equivalent of one slice of pizza, a small McDonalds fry, or 1-2 cookies. Depressing, I know.
  2. Skip meals. Sounds counterintuitive. Skipping meals means eating less calories, right? Wrong. Think of your body as a car that needs fuel to keep going. What fuel is to a car, calories are to the human body. Without it, we are like a car that has run out of gas or otherwise, a metabolism that simply cannot move. When you go more than five hours without eating, this signals the body’s metabolism to slow the heck down and conserve, rather than use, energy. You’re like a parked car. And guess what? Next time you eat, not only are you ready to eat the table, your body is in storage mode and now is going to store MORE calories at the meal than it would have if you were eating more frequently. You know “those skinny people” that seem to be eating all. day. long. And you probably hate them for it? This is why. They keep their metabolisms going 100 miles per hour. You can do the same, just not with junk food, ok?
  3. Continue to use food for comfort. This one sounds like a no brainer, but it is the number one reason I see people struggle to see ANY results at all in their weight loss goals. If this is your M.O. you gotta address it before you even think about anything else. Sure, food is readily available and as I mentioned in my previous post, create a fantastic dopamine response (aka feel good) in the brain, but it’s never going to help you lose weight if used as comfort. I’ve written lots around this topic and suggestions for overcoming it in previous posts. But remember this: let food be about food and your emotions be about emotions. Food was never supposed to be centered around your emotions.
  4. Don’t go grocery shopping. When working with a new client, one of the first questions I ask is “how often do you go to the grocery store?” And the second one is “do you make a list?” That can tell me a lot about their meal planning habits. News flash: fresh fruit, vegetables, greek yogurt, and grilled chicken won’t magically appear in your refrigerator. The old cliche “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail” applies here. Someone has to purchase this heathy food, prepare it, and get it in front of you, preferably on a kitchen table. Not on a coffee table in front of the television or on a desk in front of the computer. Again, food is about food – to be eaten in the setting of a meal at a table, not eaten all over the place.

There are lots more reasons why people fail like expecting massive results too quickly, trying to change their whole lives overnight, refusal to make important changes, genetics or just a history of significant dieting in general. I will plan to address these in future posts. But for now, I implore you to take an honest review of your own habits and decide to change what’s holding you back.

If you need some help and are interested in a free 30 minute telephone wellness consult, contact me here and I will get back to you in the next 48 hours to schedule an appointment with you.

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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LD

Sugar is an addiction

Duh. I know you know that. At least on some level because you probably are addicted to it yourself. Many of us are.

Once you get that taste for sugar it’s really really hard to untaste it. In recent years studies have confirmed that when somebody eats sugar it lights up the same centers in the brain that make us feel good as if we had just taken a drug like cocaine or heroin. So if you are consuming sugar, then you really are getting a dopamine response which triggers actions in your body that make you feel good, relax you, and leave you wanting more.

But it’s not long-lasting and eventually you’re going to be craving that feeling again.  It feels good. And worse much like somebody who is addicted to a drug, eventually you’re going to require more and more of it to get the same feeling, which has also been suggested in recent studies.

It’s why so many of us can’t quite kick the soda habit. Fun fact: Coca Cola was named after cocaine because at one point it did contain cocaine. That has since been replaced with caffeine (arguably equally as addictive) and high fructose corn syrup. Next time you’re around people between the hours of two and four PM, observe their behavior and probably your own, too. It’s what I like to call the “3 o’clock low”. This is when people start looking for coffee, soda and a snack. The snack is something like chips, cookies, crackers, or something high in carbs and low in protein. Everyone wants/needs a sugar high to make it to dinner time (or at least to clock out time.)

It’s not a secret that this isn’t good for the body. But what do you do about it? It’s possibly the most common and most difficult habit standing in the way of my clients and their health goals.

Eliminate it. That’s right. I said it. Cold turkey. In many addictions, weaning is the way to go because of withdrawal dangers. But not in this case. Even small amounts of sugar prove to keep the brain stimulated and wanting more. Can you really eat just eat one Hershey kiss? One Oreo? Ten potato chips? One doughnut? A one inch square brownie? 1/4 cup m&ms? Five crackers? You get my point.

I love me some coffee. But I’ve learned to have it without sugar. That includes the substitutes too. Why? Because when we have sweet tasting things, we are signaling our brains that a feel good response is coming. Except it doesn’t with zero calorie sweeteners because they don’t illicit the dopamine response. So guess what? You start looking for something that will. We all want to feel good. Especially when stressed, sad, mad, bored, or in pain. And dopamine does the job well.

So ya, cold turkey. Will you magically no longer want to eat sugar anymore? Not quite. Physically, it’s going to take your body about two solid weeks to move on from the cravings. In a rat study done at Princeton, there were withdrawal symptoms including chattering teeth and heightened anxiety which kept them staying in one place rather than exploring as rats normally do.

Emotionally, you’re going to need to find another means to deal with it. Trial and error. Some find emotional peace in journaling. Others in a new hobby (or revisiting an old one). There’s also meditation, talking to trusted friends, taking a walk outside, reading, my favorite – essential oils, and the list goes on. We live in a world with lots of options. Options that aren’t as readily available as food. But they’re there. And not all of them work. That’s why I said trial and error. You will find something that works better than food, without the guilt. Without the calories.

Let me know in the comments what you’re trying. What works, what doesn’t.

P.S. Looking for online support with like minded women? You may be interested in joining my Facebook group for support from women and moms trying to get healthy and lose weight just like you!

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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LD

When the angry mirror reflects pale

The first line of a poem I wrote when I was fifteen. Elbow deep into an eating disorder.

When I was fourteen years old, I overhead a well meaning neighbor tell my dad that his daughters “were getting a little round around the middle” and that maybe he should have them do some outside chores. Fourteen year old girls are already self-conscious. Make that very self-conscious about their looks. That neighbor didn’t cause anything, but they did affirm what that insecure teenage girl was hoping not to be true.

She’s fat. She’s not good enough. What she sees in the magazines are not at all what she sees in the mirror. Everything is out of her control. Except what she puts in her mouth. Nobody can tell her what to put in her mouth.

I remember over the next several weeks devising a very restrictive weight loss diet for myself. I wasn’t down with a “round” middle. I think I was an aspiring dietitian from the start, before I knew anything about meal planning. Just be thankful you weren’t a client of mine when I was fourteen!

Over the next 3 months, I lost about forty pounds. Of note, I have a twin sister and we had always been a similar weight up until this point. It happened so fast my family didn’t catch on until I was fully holding myself prisoner to my thoughts. It was pretty evident to everyone at school, all of our family members, and all of our friends. Aside from the whispers I could hear, no one said a word to me. And I was okay with that. Confronting people with hard stuff is hard.

Some of you are telling yourself similar things, too.

“That food is off limits for you. Eat it and you will surely gain five pounds overnight.” You have safe foods and if you go off plan, you are going to pay in self loathing guilt trips.

“Your day is determined by the number on the scale. Lose weight, you can relax,” (at least until breakfast). “If you gain weight, you will need to punish yourself with twenty extra minutes on the treadmill.”

“Wear that outfit because it hides your body.”

For someone with an eating disorder, multiply those thoughts times 100 and circulate them 24/7. The panic that sets in when food is presented that’s off limits, the fear of being caught exercising late at night to work off those extra calories, constantly hiding the anguish under baggy clothes, and the depression are enough to make life unliveable. People with anorexia do get to a  point where they know they shouldn’t lose anymore weight, but the fear of gaining even a pound is so strong that they’d rather continue to disappear.

I’ve been asked many times in my life why I became a Dietitian. I’ve never told the truth. This is my story. In three months, I turned my teenage years upside down along with my family’s and took over three years to recover from with the help of a Dietitian, a Psychiatrist, and God whom I didn’t even know at the time.

He’s always there to help you even if you pay Him no attention. Seek Him and allow yourself to rest on His strength.

Many of you have similar struggles. You aren’t good enough, you hate your body and you punish yourself for it on a daily basis. I may not know what it’s like to be overweight, but I know this struggle. I know it well. I apologize for keeping it to myself all of these years. If I’m going to be of any help to those of you that follow me so faithfully, you need to know my heart and why I really do what I do.

I’ll leave you with my high school poem, a place I happily won’t go back to, but still understand.

 She

When the angry mirror reflected pale,

She mended my shattered heart;

Told me that if I just listened,

My disturbances would dissolve.

She didn’t tell me the payment

Would be much more than I could carry-

The heavy weight on my soul

Replaced by another, much heavier.

I thrived to her golden rules:

Hunger pains do not hurt,

Protruding bones are attractive,

Sacrifice everything to vanish.

She told me a lie:

I would be dominant when I disappeared.

I didn’t know it was

She who stretched the infuriated mirage;

She shackled me to her deceptions,

She became me.

My anorexia and myself.

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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LD

Applying Betty White’s life advice to your weight loss goals

I thought it would be fun to highlight Betty White. I was reading some of her life advice tips and some things that she recommended for having a fulfilling and happy life. Side note: what an awesome thing it is to be somebody that not only turns ninety-five (because that’s always a big deal no matter who you are), but to be somebody who’s ninety-five and to be as alive as she is. To be somebody that people want advice from and to have lived that kind of life where people generally think of you as a great human being. It is just a great accomplishment in general.

She gave some really great advice (and in my Dietitian mind) for how you can make that work right now with your weight loss goals, especially those of you who struggle with emotional eating.

The first one that was notable to me was to stay busy. Busy to her in a good way. She didn’t mean stay busy where it’s all focused on you. Don’t be a busybody out there gossiping, out there making it all about “me me me” and focusing on your problems. What she meant was to be busy in a way where you are focusing on what really interests you in life and indulge yourself in that. Really immerse yourself in your interests and go all out for it. Give your time to what deserves your attention. She used that phrase, “deserves it.” What deserves your indulgence? On a side note, Danielle Laporte’s self-study book, The Firestarter Sessions, goes into excellent detail on what it really means to indulge in the passion that lights you up.

I’m going to be completely blunt here and tell you that when you’re bored, food does not deserve your time. You do not deserve to fill your time up with eating. Indulge yourself in what really lights you up. That’s what you deserve. That’s what Betty White has done with her time. And you can tell by the different things she’s done in her life.

The second one is to get up early. When I think about the people who are consistently active and people that recommend a good time to exercise – it’s always in the morning. Generally speaking the best time to exercise is when you’re going to be consistent at it. But the morning tends to be the best because your kids are sleeping and there’s just not a whole lot going on in the early hours of the morning. She said she gets up at 6:30 am and that’s when she starts her day. You get a lot more done. I think a lot of people just think clearer. If you’ve ever read the book, Miracle Morning – there’s one for network marketers, there’s one for parents, for writers, for salespeople, and there’s one for everybody – there’s a lot to be said about getting up early in the morning. And I have a feeling she probably started her day and still does in such a way that aligns with Miracle Morning.

The last one is to not indulge in regrets. This is where people who are trying to lose weight tend to get stuck in that viscous cycle. Your indulging in the regrets of what you ate, what you didn’t do, failing on that diet, falling of track, and you’re letting yourself stay in it for too long. Indulging in those regrets just keeps you off track. So you end up staying off track for so long that you don’t even know how to get back on track even when you want to.

She gave herself as an example -she’s been married three times. She said “you know what, if I had to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I would have gotten married three times all over again.” She doesn’t indulge in regrets. She doesn’t waste her time focusing on things that don’t deserve her time.

So what is that you’re focusing on, what are you regretting? This is what fuels stress eating. You feel guilty because you ate something that you shouldn’t of eaten, so you eat to make yourself feel better and then you feel guilty even more and then it just becomes another viscous cycle.

To summarize, keep yourself busy by occupying your time with things that light you up. Get up early in the morning – I think we can all agree that it’s before 9 a.m. (often much earlier). And don’t indulge in regrets. Take these tips to heart. I think we can also agree somebody like Betty White knows a thing or two about having a fulfilling life.

Having said all of this, if you have been diligently working at this since the turn of the New Year (or maybe you haven’t) and you’re just plain frustrated right now with your results so far – this may be helpful IF you’re ready to dig in your heels and get to work on it.

Are you? Follow these 10 tips faithfully for the next two weeks (it’s only two weeks) and you will see results – as much as 10-15 lbs gone kinda results.

 

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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN

So you wanna lose 50+ pounds in 2017

Are you overwhelmed already just thinking about it? I don’t doubt it. Our brains are not wired to think in one huge “mountain” like that. There is good reason children’s classes are set up in block scheduling, allowing them to change subjects every hour or so. The human mind simply does not have the capacity to focus on one thing for extended periods of time, even if it is something we love.

New Years resolutions can bring a lot of hope, though. Hope for 12 months of better decisions, financial opportunities, physical improvements, and time investments. And we often imagine 12 months of unrealistic expectations with very little planning involved. For more information on New Years resolution, see my previous post.

But I wanna talk to those of you specifically that want to lose quite a bit of weight and stick to the plan longer than January 12th this go around. Those of you that, this time next year, wanna be relishing in your success while gleefully trying on a new winter ensemble several sizes smaller than what you are wearing right now. The only resolution you have for 2018 is to get out more and maintain your fantastic weight.

So listen up, here are a few tips to start thinking about NOW. Yes, before Christmas and before January 1 rolls around. That is not the time to start deciding you are doing this for realz this time.

  1. Make a plan. What kind of cooking tools do you need? Is your kitchen in working order or have you kept Chic-fil-a in business for the past 6 months? When will you plan your meals? Do you need to find some new recipes? Do you need to join/rejoin weight watchers? Are you going to follow a diet plan or something else? Are you going to hire a dietitian or heath coach? When will you allow for your “trigger foods,” if at all? How/when do you plan to grocery shop? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Do you need a gym membership? Where? Do you need an accountability partner? Who? Do you need a new lunch box? Or just a new lunch spot? How will you reward yourself with non-food related incentives when you’ve hit milestones?
  2. Increase you water intake. Please do this NOW. Most adults are chronically dehydrated and don’t even know it because they are just used to the crappy feeling. But it’s not normal to be fatigued, excessively hungry, and/or crave sweets. All of these are signs of dehydration. How much water do you need? Half your body weight (pounds) in ounces. For example, a 200lb person will need to consume 100 ounces of water per day (there are 8 ounces in 1 cup, therefore, roughly 12 cups of water or 6 bottles). Start increasing it now so you aren’t dealing with this when you’re trying to decrease your food intake.
  3. Figure out your goal for weight loss and then break it down into smaller goals so you don’t go fleeing when it’s “go time”. I recommend 5-10 pound increments followed by a non-food reward system to celebrate. There needs to be a prize at the end of each achievement, especially for those first 10-20 pounds when the weight loss may not be all that noticeable (depending on where you’re starting from). And believe it or not, the same will happen for the last 10 pounds or so. Think of it like a new haircut. Everyone notices and showers you with compliments for a few days and then it ends. They get used to it and you don’t hear a word again as your hair continues to slowly grow back out.

If you are interested in learning more about my take on weight loss in the New Year using natural and holistic options, click here to join my FREE online class on December 29th for 48 hours only.

He actually does allow more than you can handle, so take the manna

This is a difficult time of year for many of us. Financially, emotionally, physically. While the holidays are joyous, they have a tendency to drain much of our resources, too.

It’s a time we naturally reflect on the year. And the years seems to go by faster and faster, don’t they? 2016 was a tough one. For all of us. So much strife and hatred. And then the holidays come and we are reminded of our losses, those we are missing, financial hardships, and it can be downright sad.

I’ll be honest. This year I’ve felt much like one of the Israelites depending on God for my daily manna. There hasn’t been much, if any, leftover to store up for days ahead. Not financially, not physically, not emotionally. For the first time in my life, I became a work at home mom. In many ways, a dream come true. But difficult. And I don’t work on my own schedule like I thought I would. I work on two little boys’ schedule. I am just not used to stopping every ten minutes to pour a drink, fix a snack, change the television channel, clean up a mess, or wipe a butt. It’s downright maddening to take two hours to finish a project that should take fifteen minutes.

Financially, it’s been tough. I absolutely love working from home as a 100% self-employed woman. Making this decision earlier this year, without a doubt, was a calling God placed on my life. At the time, I was sure He was telling me that I would prosper as a momtreprenuer and show the world how amazing I would be as a work at home mom. How I could inspire other moms to do the same. But that wasn’t His plan at all. What He wanted for me was to see how He could could provide for my family’s daily needs even when I had no idea how those needs would be met.

And He’s been faithful. It’s another post for all of the ways He has provided for us. And how I attended my company’s national convention to walk the stage so that I could celebrate hitting a big milestone in my business last September.

Emotionally, we are limited. When times get hard and stressful, we turn to food, alcohol, medications or drugs, shopping, and other ineffective outlets to stuff it down. I know many of my readers struggle in this area, especially emotional eating. In 1 Cor 10:13, the scripture tells us this, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This scripture is often misunderstood because we assume that means He won’t give us more than we can handle. That’s false. This scripture is referring to being tempted in ways that move us away from dependance on Him. (i.e. eating a jar of nutella after a hard day.) 

So we get blindsided when hardship comes our way because we believed God knew we weren’t strong enough to handle that situation. Truth is, He did know. We are weak in all hardships that come our way. We have to make the choice to accept His provisions and guidance. (i.e. don’t buy that jar of nutella in the first place).

​What I have learned this year and am most thankful for is that even though difficulties may come my way, He is always there paving a path and providing the manna.

Could you use some extra support from like-minded women on a journey to wellness? Click on over here to receive an invitation to join our secret Facebook community!

​If you struggle in the area of emotional eating, I highly recommend Lysa Terkeursts’ book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food.

 

 

Why you aren’t thinking before you act

I  know, the title sounds a bit judgmental. But hear me out. I’m going to ask you a few questions and then you can decide if you agree with me or not.

  1. Think about the last time someone asked you to do something or help them with something. Did you say yes or no? And did you answer they way you wanted to?
  2. Think about the last time you were bored. Really bored. Can you remember such a time? How did you handle it? What did you do to fill the space?
  3. When was the last time you unplugged for an entire day? a few hours? one hour? You didn’t look at your phone, computer, the television, it was all turned OFF. Not just on silent, completely off, airplane mode, no internet, nada. And there was no one around but you and your thoughts.

White space. Does that exist anymore? The vast majority of those reading this, myself included, will answer question 1 with a “yes” and then a “no.” They will answer question 2 with a “no”  because the void was filled quickly with mindless activities like scrolling through Facebook, computer games, watching YouTube videos, netflix, or more harmful activities like emotional eating or even drinking alcohol to stuff the emotions that tend to surface during whitespace. Which is why most, if not all, reading this will answer question 3 with a “never.”

This post was inspired by a concept I learned in a book I’m currently reading titled, Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It talks about taking time off or “think weeks.” Did you know some of the most successful people in the world have done this for decades? Even in today’s most socially, electronically connected world? Even during the busiest, highest growth times in their businesses? It’s true. Bill Gates takes two, one week long “think weeks” a year unplugged where even family is banned. It is during those times he gets his ideas and can actually collect his thoughts that have propelled his ongoing success. Others that take similar “think weeks” are Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. Amazing, huh?img_4402

But it isn’t natural. In fact, in a fairly recent study (2014), individuals were given a choice to sit in solitude with their thoughts for 15 minutes or to take a painful electric shock to their ankles to get out of it. An overwhelming majority chose the shock collar (66% of men and 25% of women). Furthermore, the study participants reported having unpleasant experiences when they were alone with themselves regardless if they were allowed to read or allowed access to the internet. It’s no wonder stress eating, alcoholism, and drug addiction are so prevalent. We don’t want to face our emotions. And outside substances do a pretty good short term job at distracting and frankly, stuffing them down and away. I’ve addressed specifically emotional eating in past posts as this is my area of expertise.

The bottom line is, we want human connection with others. But at the same time, it’s good for our well-being to take time to think so that we can healthily co-exist with others.

So, let me know in the comments. Will you be planning a “think week” anytime soon, or at least a “think day?”

For those of you struggling with what to eat and how to balance it all without feeling hungry while steadily losing weight, check out my new meal plan at a limited time only greatly reduced cost right here.

Is sleep deprivation making you gain weight?

I see this most often in shift workers (think healthcare, law enforcement), new parents, chronically stressed and those with other types of chronicimg_3665 illness (it’s difficult to sleep when you have pain or other issues going on in your body.)

Our body is naturally wired for deep, restful (REM) sleep at night, when it’s the darkest. It’s the circadian rhythm. That’s hard to fight when it’s biology. Another issue is schedules are typically thrown off at night. Do you eat normally scheduled meals or exercise on a regular routine when your sleep patterns are thrown off? Most of us don’t. And that favors weight gain.

That deep, REM sleep our body so desperately needs is massively disrupted in the above scenarios. Without enough of it, we experience an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, which favors fat cell growth.There is also an increase in the production of the hormone ghrelin, the one that tells your body to EAT, while a decrease in the production of leptin, the one that tells your body you don’t need to eat anymore. In a fairly recent study, when individuals were deprived of just a few hours of sleep over 5 days, they consumed as much as 300 extra calories per day and gained an average of 2 pounds. That’s a lot! And it was high sugar, high fat carbohydrates they wanted. Ouch!

So what can you do? Try these tips:

  1. Stay in bed, regardless. Read a fictional novel IN BED 30 minutes before your established sleep time. In the beginning, you may be reading until 3 o’clock in the morning but rest assured, your body is receiving 60% of the rest it needs even if you are AWAKE. This time will eventually get earlier and earlier until you can’t even finish the first page. Be aware of electronics and make sure they have a night setting without that back lighting that triggers your brain to stay alert. If you get out of bed, that goes down to 0%. If you start clock watching, tossing and turning, or doing whatever frustrating thing we are all guilty of when we can’t sleep, it’s 0%. Be aware, I said FICTIONAL NOVEL. No self helps here or you will fall asleep thinking about how you need to improve your life and and your wrongdoings. No bueno. Save that for another time.
  2. Establish a night time routine, around one hour before bedtime. Just like we do for children! Get your pjs on, take a nice bath or shower, get your teeth brushed, whatever you need to do to start telling your active brain to SLOW DOWN. No alcohol here, it actually disrupts restful sleep. But a nice cup of decaf tea can help. And please, put the dang phone away! I have been known to stick mine on airplane mode from time to time when I REALLY need to hang it up.
  3. There are natural options to help with sleep. Melatonin is one I’ve tried, although I don’t use often because there are so many on the market and it’s hard to know one from the other. So unfortunately, I can’t speak to brand here. But your doctor may be able to help you out. Valerian root has been talked about in the holistic health world for years, but I do not typically recommend this due to warnings about possible liver damage. My favorite are certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils because they support the body’s natural ability to wind down and promote a restful night’s sleep. Specifically, lavender and vetiver. I diffuse lavender most nights and the restful blend, a blend made with lavender, vetiver, sandalwood, ho wood, and others for my children every night. For more about that, contact me using the links below.

P.S. If you’ve been looking for support, you’ve come to the right place, request to join my online support group for all things nutrition and weight loss support.

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Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN