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The National Society of Health Coaches welcomes our first 2011 guest editorial from Julie Chiu, RN and Certified Health Coach, Intuitive Eating Professional and Weight Management Counselor.
Use Health Coaching and Mindful Eating for Weight Management…. Including Your Own!!
By: Julie Chiu, RN,MS, CHC, IC® julie@mindfuleatingHK.com
With the New Year having just arrived and resolutions in abundance, why not consider the concepts of health coaching and mindful eating to help others and ourselves move through ambivalence and stay on track with weight management? Here’s some ideas to use the principles of health coaching, motivational interviewing and mindful eating to shed those excess pounds!
Understand Your Motivation for Weight Loss and Set SMART Goals
What are the reasons that foster a desire to lose weight? Is it a health issue? Is it an emotional one? What are some realistic steps you can take to work towards your goals?
Identify Your Beliefs and Values around Food, Weight, Body Image, and Self-Worth
If you don’t like fitness, what are the reasons? Try to peel away the onion to see what the core values and beliefs you have about weight, eating, fitness, body image, and self worth. Long term changes may not last if you’re not keenly aware of the drivers of your inner motivation.
Mindful Eating Approach to Weight Management
Whether it is a bushel of broccoli or a bag of cookies, anytime you eat in excess to what your body needs for fuel the excess is stored as fat. One way of preventing excess fat is eating just enough fuel that your body requires for its needs. Not too much (will cause weight gain) or too little (will decrease metabolism). One way of providing your body with the right amount of fuel is through mindful eating.
Mindful Eating is eating with the awareness of your hunger and satiety cues. Basically, you eat when you feel physical symptoms of hunger and stop when satisfied. There is a difference between true and false hunger. With several other mindful eating strategies and bringing attention and intention to how you eat, the excess holiday weight will come off naturally.
Those with a strong emotional connection to overeating have found journaling to be particularly helpful. An Awareness Journal is different from a Food Diary. The food diary allows you to record the quantity, type of food and the time it is eaten. Conversely, thoughts, feelings, and physical signs of hunger and fullness are recorded in an Awareness Journal. What thoughts and feelings do you say to yourself when have an overeating episode or when you have a “good day” of restrictive eating? What, if any, associations are there? Carefully reflect on these and enter them in the Journal.
Additionally, make SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Timed)! For example when it comes to fitness, instead of having a general goal of working out 4 times a week; instead, a SMART goal would be “I will do cardio once a week for at least 30 min, yoga once a week for at least 20 min and weight training twice a week for at least 20 min”.
Engage in “Change Talk”
The research of Drs. Miller and Rollnick have discovered that the more one talks about change, the more likely one is to change. Keep talking about change and surround yourself in the environment, or mood of change, because the more you think, talk, behave positively towards change, the more likely change will happen. When you take a step towards your goal, congratulate yourself and use those positive feelings to move another step closer.
Are you ambivalent towards change? Do you have the desire, but find yourself in negative or limiting thought patterns? Ask yourself how you can change them into more positive thoughts. For example, when you find yourself in February or March exercising less than four times a week and thoughts of “I enjoy yoga, but I’m too busy”…”,but I’m too tired” creeping in, carefully consider what you can effectively do about the factors preventing you from moving forward to your goal. What are the options?
Perhaps changing those negative thoughts into statements like: “My health is important to me”, “I will make time for fitness”, “I feel great when I exercise”…and”I want more of that” will be more productive alternatives!
Recognize Your Readiness for Change
Of the six stages of change (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation/determination, action, maintenance, relapse) what stage are you currently in? If you’re in the contemplation stage (recognize there’s a problem, but not ready to change) what are some small steps to get you closer to the determination stage then action stage?
Ask yourself on a scale from 1-10 how important it is for you to create the change you want to get to achieve your SMART goal. Also, on a scale from 1-10 how confident are you that you can make the change? Once you are actively pursuing your goal(s), continually assess your score and bring in the support you need to keep the score high!
Health Coaches are people too!
Julie Chiu, RN, MS, CHC, IC® is Hong Kong’s first and currently only medically educated and trained Certified Health Coach, Intrinsic Coach®, and Intuitive Eating Pro® and weight management counselor. She is also a speaker, blogger, registered nurse (US 12+ yrs), and managing director of Mindful Eating Lifestyles Limited (MEL Ltd.).
She coaches people in achieving positive behavioral changes to improve their health and well being and frees her clients from whatever unhealthy habits currently entrenched in. For a free 30 min introductory phone/Skype health consultation, email her: julie@mindfuleatingHK.com.
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