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What would your life be like if you never engaged in this health-zapping cycle of overeating, fatigue, craving and weight gain. What if you never again treated your body like a trash can?

Thank you to the lovely Heidi B for that analogy. Heidi is a full-time yoga teacher. A smart, spiritual, beautiful, India-visiting, committed yogi on a seeker’s path.

She walked into the studio at 6:30 AM the other morning to teach her class and asked if anyone else felt like they had been overdoing it during the holidays? She said she was treating her body like a trash can and wondered who else might be struggling with the same thing.

Wow, I respect her honesty. My gosh, she’s a yoga teacher. She’s supposed to be drinking filtered water with a squeeze of organic lemon and eating farm-fresh veggies every day. Not candy, French fries and red wine.

Yes, I did relate and waved my arm in the air from child’s pose, indicating I was guilty of the “trash can” phenomenon as well. I’m a nutritionist and Heidi’s a yoga teacher. We’re not supposed to do that, right?

Wrong.

Almost everyone wanders down that road on occasion. We both ate too much of whatever it is we eat too much of at times like this. We all have our personal comfort cravings. Add in the stress of the holidays (even the good stress) and you’ve got a “recipe” for a food-filled train wreck. I’m typically seduced by pie, muffins, pancakes, syrup and red wine.

Oh, and for the record, I’ll take this opportunity to pat myself on the back for never drinking red wine with pancakes. I do have standards.

Pie and red wine? Now that’s another story.

Here’s my problem (not that you asked). Most of the time my over-indulging takes the form of fairly healthy food, in fact “real” food. Organic food. Often times, it’s even local food. How cool is that? But that can be a faulty premise. Or, at least one that is easy to justify, defend and make excuses for.

Pastured, organic butter and whipping cream, rich in CLA. Local, organic CSA potatoes and pumpkins from Grant Family Farms. Raw, organic cheese. Locally made, organic chocolate bars (73% organic dark cocoa). Smooth, velvety, sulfite-free red wine. Organic, whole grain, gluten-free flour. Local, Rocky Mountain wildflower honey. It’s not like I’m eating fast food. Lovingly put this stuff together and you have the most amazing muffins, twice-baked potatoes, home-cooked French fries, cookies or pumpkin pie.

Get my drift?

Healthy, real food ingredients, but no excuse to shovel it in. Or, stand with the refrigerator door open, eating giant spoonfuls of home-made, organic whipped cream right out of the bowl (conveniently perched at arm level). Maybe dabbing some on a random, nearby muffin.

Not that I know anyone who would do that.

With 2011 upon us, most people have written up lists of New Year’s resolutions. Exercise more. Eat more veggies. Don’t over-eat. Lose weight. Meditate. Do yoga. Same story each year.

What would your life be like if you really believed that everything you needed, you already had? What would your life be like if you simply spent the year treating your body like the temple that it is? No lists, no resolutions, just respect and commitment.

In the spirit of honesty, I do have a few resolutions, but rather than list them, I’m going to keep them to myself and take this time to express gratitude for my health and make a silent promise (over and over) to honor that through awareness, healthy choices and moderation.

And thank God, there’s no more pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

If you’re interested in increasing your mind/body/food awareness, please check here for a past post I did on food, fuzz, movement and inner space. It includes information on how to incorporate healthy eating habits into your life. It’s also a guideline to an anti-inflammatory diet and includes a video that will take you deep inside.

* I can’t end this without a footnote from Heidi B. When I thought about writing this post, I emailed Heidi to ask permission to use her name and comments. Her response to my email was, “Sure! You can use me. I’m still struggling, but totally aware. Yea!”

I love that.

Awareness. That’s the key. The more we understand the magic of what’s going on inside our bodies, the more likely we are to appreciate and take care of this wonderful creation, even as we struggle along.

Wishing you peace, love, awareness and small steps towards more radiant health in 2011.
Melissa
P.S. Please ignore the fact that my last 3 posts were for gluten-free cherry cobbler, pumpkin pie muffins (the boyfriend bait version) and pistachio cranberry brownies. Hey, this food blogging thing is a struggle.

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23 Responses to “are you craving a healthier 2011”

  1. Amalfi Girl says:

    I love the trash can analogy, I’ve used that for years to help me stop eating when there’s still food left on my plate but I’m full (it’s no longer “food” to me, so it might if it goes in the trash or in my body, it’s still trash). Happy new year!

    • Melissa says:

      Amalfi Girl,

      Good point about food ceasing to be food when you’re already stuffed. Why do we do that (actually, I know why, but still question it over and over). Thanks for the comment.

      Happy, happy 2011!

  2. Renee says:

    I hear ya Melissa! We all struggle with it, some more than others! And awareness is good, it’s the beginning of learning not to treat your body like a trash can. But the journey can be long and circuitous at times. I know mine has been.

    Best wishes to you and yours in the new year!

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Renée (my middle name, I love it!),

      You’re so right, the journey can be long, circuitous and frustrating at times. It’s nice to have “a little help from your friends” along the way. Thanks for the well wishes. The same to you. Peace, love and super healthy food in 2011!

      Melissa Renée =)

  3. Alta says:

    Very good, thought-provoking post! I think I share similar issues – I tend to overindulge not in junk food, but high-quality, whole, real foods. But too much of a good thing…still is too much. I’m very much aware of my recent trash can state and am working to keep that awareness, especially in those moments where I might normally absent-mindedly shove some relatively-healthy-but-still-unnecessary bite of food in my mouth. :) Happy New Year!

    • Melissa says:

      Alta,

      Your comment contained a key word — “unnecessary.” Gosh, how often to we go beyond the point of necessary nutrition into the world of overindulgence? It’s easy to do during the holidays and during times of stress.

      Thanks for “weighing” in. You always have something good to add to the conversation!

  4. [...] Gluten-Free Foods Vegan Foods : By: Alta [...]

  5. This was perfect for today. I needed this as I struggled with looking away from all of the food that our family and friends brought to our house today to relax and celebrate the new year. I had planned on going on a run. Did not happen. Then I planned on doing yoga. Did not happen. Then everyone showed up with goodies. I tried to ignore most of it. But that did not happen either. This was a great reminder to stay true to my mission and my beliefs!! I love your posts, Melissa. i always click away from them feeling a renewed sense of motivation. xo Happy New Year, my healthy pal!!

    • Melissa says:

      Kim,

      I “hear” you on every point you made. Sometimes when we have these wonderful family get-togethers (of which I’m so grateful), I can’t believe the abundance. There’s always so much extra food. Why do we think we need to over-do it in so many ways? Yes, that makes it hard not to “graze” in a constant “daze” during the holidays. And it’s definitely hard to find the time to exercise when all the business is going on. But as you well know, that’s the time you need it most! Wishing you peace, love and time for yourself in 2011! xo

  6. Melissa,
    As always, I sit here nodding my head as I read your words.
    This, I think, is the cornerstone:
    “Awareness. That’s the key. The more we understand the magic of what’s going on inside our bodies, the more likely we are to appreciate and take care of this wonderful creation, even as we struggle along.”

    I think that will be sticky noted to my laptop. And maybe to the inside of one of my cabinets or three.

    I struggle just as you mentioned from time to time-for example, I made Kelly’s (Spunky Coconut) coffee cake with white beans, which is great…but ate a large percentage of it myself.

    Also for me, I become so caught up in aesthetics and performance of my body from an athletic standpoint, that I can forget to appreciate the small things. I have a built reminder with the scars on my knees, but need to sit back and revel in the amazing ability that we all have, that truly I am as I need to be in this exact moment, and that I have everything I need, right now, for here.

    That is where I struggle the most. Too much missing the moment for looking to where I want to go, be, and achieve.

    That is one area I will continue to work on, and try to keep awareness of, in all my humanity.

    Big hugs and thank you for the eloquent reminder,
    E

    • Melissa says:

      Erin,

      Great, great insights (as always). And as an athlete in one way or another my whole life, I relate to much of what you say.

      This comment (in quotes below) of yours is so good, so important.

      “Also for me, I become so caught up in aesthetics and performance of my body from an athletic standpoint, that I can forget to appreciate the small things. I have a built reminder with the scars on my knees, but need to sit back and revel in the amazing ability that we all have, that truly I am as I need to be in this exact moment, and that I have everything I need, right now, for here.

      That is where I struggle the most. Too much missing the moment for looking to where I want to go, be, and achieve.”

      Sometimes our greatest strengths (in your case, this incredible drive, commitment and focus — all good things) can also be our biggest liabilities. You “get it” though, so you can use these wonderful innate qualities of yours in a positive way. You just need to find balance. I know, I have some similar “over-do-it” genes. I say as I type at 3:45 AM. Off to yoga at 5 AM. Need (yes, NEED) to get that in. =)

      Here’s to peace, love and balancing strengths and liabilities!
      Melissa

  7. Ahhhh, brilliant post as usual, Melissa. I love how you always share your own experiences, too … to make it especially real and let us know you’re often right there with us. The trash can analogy/visual is a good one for sure. Yesterday was a better day for holiday overindulgences than previous ones, but in looking for some roasted peppers in the freezer, I came across a container of brownie chunks that I’d frozen to use for a brownie crust for some dessert down the road. These were great tasting brownies, mind you, but crumbly. Well, you can guess what happened … I mean what happens when you query frozen brownie chunks to the lizard brain (a la Seth Godin)? The brain says yes please! and it takes a lot of brownie chunks before the lizard brain says, STOP! And, when it did, the rest of those brownie chunks went into the … trash can–YES, full circle here. I wanted to think that I could save the rest of those brownie chunks and make a wonderful crust down the road, but I knew what would happen. So yes, awareness and being willing to ACT when one is aware. ACT is my word for 2011.

    Big smooches to you for the New Year, my very inspiring and super lovely friend! How on Earth did I survive before I met you? Seriously? Hoping to see you several times this year. xoxo,

    Shirley

    • Melissa says:

      Shirley,

      Gosh, what a wonderful comment. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Was it Kim who was talking about how the guys in her family forget about chocolate if it’s in the freezer, but she finds it all the more tempting because frozen chocolate in any form is SO DANG GOOD?! You should know better than to put brownie chunks in the freezer. =) That just makes them taste better.

      But seriously, we all do some form of overdoing it. Over-indulging in one thing or another. I started craving the whipped cream. Ugh, I hardly ever eat that kind of thing and I found myself dipping into the bowl and eating spoonfuls of the stuff. And like I said, it was organic, pastured cream and I made the whipped cream myself. Turbinado sugar and Madagascar vanilla. OMG, OMG, OMG. Good stuff, but no need to overdo it. It’s hard during times like the holidays.

      The best policy is to make just enough to serve the purpose. Don’t have extras if it’s stuff like whipped cream or brownie chunks!

      Thanks, Shirley. You’re a doll, no doubt about it.
      xo

  8. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I can’t say I’ve over indulged in the trashy goodies this season…. well no more than usual and some of the time, a good deal less. We’ve all had colds and flu which curtails the appetite somewhat. What I have experienced though is a nasty tumble as I tried on a new pair of jeans which sort of hints that things could be better (either that or the quality of stretchability in denim is wearing thin :) ). I’m hoping my new collection of cook books will encourage me to opt for the lighter weight healthy recipes… I’m fed up with stodgy fruit cake and roast dinners. Earlier on today I was strangely drawn towards the salad bar in my local shop and the wonderful pomegranate juice in the chiller counter (costs a fortune but I love it as a treat now and then). Onwards then to wonderful guilt free meals and new jeans… happy 2011 everyone!

    Cid

    • Melissa says:

      Cid,

      I do wish I could meet you at the salad bar for fresh veggies and pomegranate juice! As always, you had me laughing out loud at your comment. Not the nasty cold and flu part, but the demin stretchability part. I’m sorry, but you’re just too good with words. Your description of the jeans struggle and tumble was hilarious. I’m waiting for you to write a book. Your wit, way with words and culinary knowledge would make for “can’t put down” reading.

      I do hope everyone in your family is back to feeling chipper. It’s no fun coughing and sniffing your way through the holidays.

      Here’s to new jeans! Wishing you and your family peace, love and fabulous food in 2011.
      Melissa
      xo

  9. Ignoring the fact that I posted a recipe for mulled sweet wine today, I am so with you.

    I’ve spent the last two weeks justifying the “garbage” I’ve been eating with myriad excuses:
    But it’s Christmas!
    But it’s organic!
    But it’s homemade from coconut flour!
    But I lost so much weight this year!
    But I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been!

    And all those buts only served to make my actual butt a bit bigger.

    Here’s to treating our bodies like the beautiful things they are in 2011!

    Great post.

  10. Melissa says:

    AndreAnna,

    Mulled sweet wine? Oh yum, I’ll have to go snap up that recipe of yours.

    Love your list of excuses. That is soooo true. I do the “holiday” thing. But it’s a holiday. Or a weekend. Ugh, why do we do that.

    You summed it up perfectly with:

    “And all those buts only served to make my actual butt a bit bigger.”

    =)

  11. Oh, Melissa. I needed to read this. Yes, my curves are made from high quality olive oil and organic butter and cream, veggies and humanely raised meat in serving sizes for a 6 foot tall man. I am getting better at not shoveling so much in, but having trouble with the movement part of the equation. In the winter, I just want to curl up and hibernate and it takes a lot of pushing to get me moving January through March and then I feel like I have to catch up again. Trying not to do that this year.

    • Melissa says:

      Wendy,

      I love the way you put that! “My curves are made from…”

      Very good and, as always, you said it with a witty sense of humor! It’s so often about volume and we justify it because of so many things as you can see from the comments here. Well, at least we’re not in this alone! We just need to support each other in our struggles.

      Onward — and thanks for the great comment! And the chuckle!

    • Melissa says:

      Wendy,

      I love the way you put that! “My curves are made from…”

      Very good and, as always, you said it with a witty sense of humor! It’s so often about volume and we justify it because of so many things as you can see from the comments here. Well, at least we’re not in this alone! We just need to support each other in our struggles.

      Onward — and thanks for the great comment! And the chuckle!

  12. Hi Melissa… Great post! (as usual) I for one fall into the trap where I’m enjoying – from a taste standpoint – what I’m eating so much that I help myself to a second serving, or a third, or more, simply because I want to eat more, and not because I’m hungry for more.

    I will say, though, that during the holidays I do enjoy indulging in certain foods. I’m not ashamed to eat a large Thanksgiving plate, filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies, cranberry relish, and a healthy portion of gravy. During the holidays, I love a good glass of egg nog. To me, it’s okay, because I don’t indulge in those ways all year long. They are occasional foods that I enjoy once a year when they come around, so why not?

    To your point of taking “small steps toward” health, I made a blog post on that very topic, offering some tips for more resilient diet resolutions: http://noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com/2011/01/10-tips-for-resilient-resolutions.html

    In the end, though, I think you hit the nail on the head with awareness. When we’re aware of what we put into our bodies (and our physical activity level, which goes hand in hand), it makes all the difference.

    Cheers, Pete

    • Melissa says:

      Pete,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I can only imagine how busy you’ve been! Indulging is one thing, over-indulging is another. I did overdo it in a few areas, but I’m back on track now. I’m thinking giant heaps of turkey, potatoes, veggies, cranberry sauce, etc. would be a good “regular” meal for you. It takes a lot of calories to support 50 mile runs!

      Will go check out your blog post. Thanks for the reminder. I haven’t been very good at doing this blog-hopping thing lately, but I always enjoy your posts. The variety is great and (of course) the writing top-notch. Hope you’re enjoying your new adventure back east. I also hope you’re getting out in the backcountry on occasion. The skiing has been good around here, especially down south. Silverton Mountain was getting hammered a week or so ago.

      Take care and happy new year to you and your beautiful girls!

  13. lo says:

    Oh, Melissa. I feel you speaking directly to me with this post. After all, a good thing is awesome… so MORE of a good thing must be awesomER, right? *WRONG*

    My struggles with portion control have been life-long… and not just around the holidays. I LOVE food. And I’ve only begun to explore the stages of awareness that will work best to transform my eating patterns. Remembering that food can be enjoyable — but that it’s primary purpose is to be nourishing — that’s a struggle.

    Such a great reminder for those of us who need it!

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