Alice Greene
America's Healthy Lifestyle Coach

12-year health, fitness and
weight loss success story


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Contest Blog Post – in Full

The Power of Self Awareness and Small Successes

February 3, 2010

To kick off our sessions this week, I asked everyone to share what it was like to get in touch with their fullness the past week and to share in what way they had success in reaching their other goal. In addition to the goal of tracking fullness, each person had set a second goal for themselves in another area of health or fitness improvement.

Focusing on Fullness Leads to Insights and Changes
Everyone had a different experience in becoming aware of when they got full and what fullness felt like to them. For some, they weren’t really sure when it was they got full. It felt abstract and wasn’t as simple as one would think to get in touch with fullness. For others, they realized fullness was too familiar a feeling but knowing the stages of becoming full was less easy to identify.

Some said the awareness of becoming full helped them to cut back on what they were eating, and for the first time it was effortless to eat less. Just being aware changed their behavior around overeating. A number of them also recognized that they could cut back their portions by giving themselves smaller amounts to begin with (like ½ a sandwich, using smaller bowls or plates, serving less food), knowing they could always go and get more when they got hungry again. They then tried that and found they felt so much better. There were a few people who were inspired to change other behaviors related to their eating, such as cutting back the amount of wine they were drinking or stopping before they ate out of emotional reasons. What is amazing is that they did all this effortlessly, simply by observing how they felt, and that was my point. No one forced them to change; they wanted to make changes because it felt better.

Now of course, not everyone changed their behavior. Regardless, they found that being conscious of when they became full gave them insights about when this typically happens and what it might take to eat less. Some realized they were simply not paying attention because they were eating while doing other things, needed to sit down to a meal rather than graze or slow down their eating to be more aware. Others knew they were overeating and chose to keep eating, yet what is important about that is they had a choice. If you don’t know you are getting full and overeating, you don’t have the ability to make the choice to stop or continue. There are eight reasons why people overeat, which are largely subconscious and often you don’t feel you can stop. I will address these eight reasons in future posts, and how to address them.

What was intriguing is how many got in touch with their satisfaction by eating less, which is often tricky to identify at first. They found overeating wasn’t very enjoyable, and that by eating smaller portions they were far more satisfied. Satisfaction is important to being in control with food as many of them began to understand from this exercise.

Tools to Stay Conscious around Food
To help everyone remain conscious while they ate, I introduced them to the hunger scale that you see here. This is a visual gauge to help them notice the levels of hunger they feel whenever they eat. I also introduced them to a Discovery Food Journal, which is available on the contest website for anyone to download. This journal is nothing like the food journals they had seen before. Instead of having them track the foods they eat, I asked them to track each meal and snack by identifying where they were on the hunger scale each time they began and stopped eating. They also have a place to observe any thoughts or feelings that might arise when they eat, as well as any new insights or strategies they come up with.

Having a Small Success Leads to Greater Motivation
Next the participants shared what went well in reaching the goals they set for themselves in one other area of improvement they are working on. I specifically asked them to focus on their successes, so they could see what they had achieved rather than focusing on what they hadn’t accomplished. By focusing on success, you build your self-confidence in your ability to succeed and you increase your motivation to do more. And that is just what they experienced.

Everyone had set very small initial goals for themselves, and most of those goals were related to being more active or doing some stretching. Again and again, they shared how they had met their goals and how good that felt both physically and mentally. Even a small goal like taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work a few times during the week, 10 minutes of a video tape three times, adding in stretching several days or getting outside for 15 minute walks on a few days made a big difference. Some of them were so motivated by what they had accomplished they added in an extra day or an extra small activity. And all of them were excited to stretch their goal for the upcoming week, because of their new found enthusiasm.

Again, in setting their upcoming week goals, I cautioned them to bump them up by a tiny amount and to double check on the confidence scale from 0-10 (where 10 is totally confident) just how confident they would be able to make that goal based on what was realistic in their week’s schedule and physically. It is too easy to get overly ambitious after having success and set yourself up for failure and injury, I explained to those who talked about amping up their goals considerably. It is also important to know that goals can be flexible. They don’t have to always go up, and they can just as easily be adjusted downward for busy schedules, illness or times when you know you need to lay low.

See What the Participants Have to Say
Find out what the group participants have to say about their own personal experience by viewing the comments to this post. Please feel free to add your own comments as you follow along.

To make your own changes and participate on your own or in a group, check out the contest website for details and tool.

Have a healthy and active week,
Alice

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