Confessions of an Emotional Eater

I’ve been thinking about writing on the topic of emotional eating for a long time, but resisted because it brings up difficult memories. But I feel strongly that my story is an important one to tell, a story that reveals how so often our relationship with food directly reflects our level of self-worth.

When I was very young, my mom was a great cook. She knew how to can, pickle, preserve, bake and roast. There was little processed food in our house and mom made it a point to create wholesome, nourishing meals for my family.

I was an athletic kid and my parents put me into gymnastics when I was 6. With my mom’s healthy cooking and 25+ hours a week practicing a sport I loved, I was a wiry spitfire, too lanky to be a great gymnast but dedicated, disciplined and determined. I made friends, did well in school, and improved everyday.

I was 10 when my parents’ marriage began to fall apart. A thick cloud of tension moved into the corners of my home. My 11-year old brother responded with explosions of emotional torment, episodes my father angrily tried to squelch and my mother tried to manage. I witnessed these messy altercations silently, the girl in the corner, losing control.

I chose to become the perfect child, pretending nothing was wrong in my effort to make everyone happy. I thought that through emotional denial and sparkling acts of achievement, I could bring the love back into our house, and maybe get a sliver of attention myself.

My father moved out a year later. No matter how desperately I had fought to keep the waters calm, I couldn’t control the perfect storm my life had become.

I spent the next couple of years in a haze of numbness, continuing to do my duty as the over-achieving auto-child. But with my dad gone and my mother back at work, no one seemed to care about me or my interests or my achievements. I, too, began to care less and less about the things I loved, and instead turned to the company of food every afternoon, bingeing on daily doses of solitude.

My growing apathy made for a somewhat non-eventful departure from gymnastics at the age of 13, and without the level of activity to which I was accustomed, I gained almost 20 pounds. Over the course of one summer, my athletic body grew foreign and fat. Adversarial.

Ashamed and desperate, I appealed to my mother for help. But she was in no position to attend to her adolescent daughter and her weight problem. My constant anchor had become a stressed, harried, heart broken single mother just trying to get by. In one last gasping attempt to regain control, I took matters into my own hands the only way I knew how. I stopped eating.

Thus began my struggle with anorexia nervosa. With my self-worth measured by my success at self-control, at my thinnest my 5’5” frame carried a mere 85 pounds. I felt a perverse pride when I could so exactingly control what I put into my mouth, and I held onto that pride like a vice around my gut.

After 2 years, I was able to dig myself out of my illness, wise enough at 15 to understand that my morbid experiment in self-hatred had to stop. I had to find a better way. I fought back, turned again to my love of fitness, and began walking the long journey toward regaining my health.

My story shaped me indelibly and propelled me to become a teacher. I have committed my life to building up my clients’ self-confidence through the empowering processes of exercise and healthy eating. I help those I work with “dig deep” and uncover the inner strength we all possess, but that might be buried under the emotional and physical baggage I, too, once carried.

It takes a long time to heal from the negative stories that shape our self-esteem. Grieving for that “girl in the corner” is the first step in recognizing that “she” is no longer you. Forgiving the people, places and events that damaged your self-esteem is the second step in releasing the anger holding you in a cycle of self-sabotage. Taking responsibility for who you want to be from this moment on is the most potent step in harnessing the potential of this one and only, precious life of yours.

Reach out and take it. You deserve it. You’re worth it.

Xoxoxo - Lara

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Why Those Pounds Are Stickin' Around

Summer's almost here, and I'm in a mad scramble to slim down for swimsuit season. Despite my many years as a fitness guru, I'm a real girl who struggles with those last few stubborn pounds, and I understand how frustrating it can be to feel stuck, unable to shed that warm winter weight as the days grow hotter.

So read on to discover 5 of the Top 10 Reasons Why Those Pounds Are Sticking Around. With just a few small changes, it will be so much easier to lose weight, exercise with loads of energy, and feel strong, sleek & sexy, just in time for summer.

# I: YOU’RE DRINKING YOUR CALORIES

The average American consumes up to 500 extra calories per day in SWEETENED BEVERAGESYIKES! These excess calories come from refined sugar - highly addictive and the primary factor in our current diabetes epidemic. So the first and most important thing to do for weight loss, and your health, is to ditch the soda, juice, alcohol, coffee concoctions, vitamin waters, and other beverages with added sugar. Some alternatives: naturally flavored filtered or sparkling water, herbal or green tea, black coffee, kombucha, and unsweetened coconut water. 

# 2: YOUR FOOD COMES FROM A BOX OR BAG

Our greatest obstacle to weight loss is the consumption of shiny colored, cleverly packaged food-like products lining the shelves of our grocery stores. PROCESSED FOODS are steeped in additives, preservatives and chemicals, compounds that pollute our body’s hormonal, metabolic and immune systems. These foreign substances disrupt our body’s ability to properly metabolize energy, resulting in lethargy and weight gain. 

CLEAN EATING is the real key to weight loss. Eat whole foods without a package or label, and with just one ingredient - itself! Ditching the junk food will help you shed layers easily without going on a calorie-restricted “diet.”

# 3: YOU’RE STRESSED OUT!!!

Back when we were being chased by saber-toothed tigers, stress was an awesome evolutionary response. A rush of adrenaline and cortisol endowed us with a burst of energy so that we made it to the safest refuge. Our muscles flooded with glucose to provide us the strength to escape danger. MODERN STRESS is a more chronic and insidious bedfellow. The same physiological responses occur, but now we sit at our desks, rub our temples and scrunch our faces. Stress hormones become toxic in our system & disable our ability to burn energy. The body tells the brain to replenish the energy stores it thinks it burned off fleeing from that tiger, so we overeat. Then we grow even more stressed that we’re gaining weight, and the vigorous face scrunching continues!!

So how do we reverse the harmful effects of stress? Meditation, self-care, breathing exercises, vacation - but my favorite stress reducer? EXERCISE. Which brings us to #4...

# 4: EXERCISE IS AN AFTERTHOUGHT

Making time to exercise is HARD. We spend 12 hours a day building our career, 16 hours a day raising our kids, and if we’re lucky we manage to squeeze in a few hours of sleep before we do it all over again. How do we fit in fitness? The only way to stick to a regular routine is to do things you enjoy. Think about what you loved to do as a kid, and look for an adult equivalent. Here are some creative ideas to get your body moving and your blood flowing:

GARDENING . BOOT CAMP . MARTIAL ARTS . SWIMMING . BALLET . SOCCER . BALLROOM DANCING . HIKING . KITE FLYING . ROCK CLIMBING . FOOTBALL . FRISBEE . TWISTER!

Our bodies are designed to move, stretch, leap, play, twist, reach, romp - otherwise we stagnate and suffer. Beyond building strength and promoting weight loss, EXERCISE reduces stress, promotes quality sleep, improves mood, sharpens the mind and boosts self-confidence. WIN, WIN, WIN! So do whatever it takes - get up earlier, store workout gear in your work desk, recruit a friend to help you stay accountable. Embrace exercise not as an afterthought, but as an essential act of love for your body, heart and soul.

# 5: YOU'RE STUCK IN YOUR STORY

The most miraculous - and terrifying - power we have is CHOICE. And it’s not just the choice to embrace a healthy lifestyle. It’s about choosing to the leave behind the STORIES that hold us back. It’s about tearing down the walls of self-doubt, walls we built against the traumas of past experiences, walls that now keep us trapped and unable to unlock the door to a different, better life. It’s scary to lay down the crutches and walk with your own two feet. But those crutches are as much a burden as a bolster. Although you may fall more than once, taking hold of your destiny helps you build the self-trust necessary to get back up and move forward. Then, and only then, will treating yourself with respect be the ONLY choice for you. You’ll instinctively choose nourishing foods, prioritize your exercise regimen, and make time for self-care. You’ll never again need to “diet,” for those pounds will come off naturally, like a blanket you no longer need in the warmth of a new sun.

Acknowledge the stories, good and bad, that have brought you to this moment, and then commit to making a new story, one where the choices are all yours. Break down the wall, see the glimmering possibility of change, and CHOOSE YOU.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER 5 REASONS, DOGGONE IT?
ENTER YOUR EMAIL & I'LL SEND YOU MY FULL E-GUIDE
"10 REASONS THOSE POUNDS ARE STICKIN' AROUND"

 

 

Fat, Sick, Tired... And Tired of It!

I'm the first to admit my healthy eating habits are fairly new. I was the high school kid who dumped three tablespoons of white sugar on her morning Grape Nuts. I’m the college undergrad who microwaved a Velveeta-Pace Picante Salsa concoction (hurl-worthy, I know), served with a bag of Tostitos, a beer and an episode of ‘Melrose Place.’ I was the professional dancer who ate a bowl of pasta AFTER rehearsal, engaged in a continuous and futile battle to lose ‘those last five pounds.’

Eating poorly for the greater portion of my life was neither deliberate nor rebellious. It was due to ignorance, plain and simple. I unwittingly bought shiny, processed food-like products because they looked good, not because they were good for my health. I spent most of my life ‘eating blind,’ baffled and bamboozled by the food industry, and despite my countless years as an athlete, I paid the price in weight gain, low energy, chronic colds and mood swings.

BUT TIMES, THEY ARE A’ CHANGIN’!

I can safely speak for us all when I say WE ARE SO TIRED OF BEING FAT AND TIRED! We are sickened, literally and figuratively, by the rampant disease in our bodies and the bodies of our children. We are coming to recognize the immense power of food on our well-being, and taking action against those who have heretofore cared more about their fiscal margins than those of us barely surviving in the bleak margins of health..

(this, my friends, will not do.)

Food Industry Giants?  Are you listening?

YES! YOU ARE!

The 3 articles below prove that America's food industry is stepping up to the plate:

Your Healthy Habits are Eating into the Packaged Foods Industry

Brands like Kraft, Kellog Company, Chef Boyardee and Swiss Miss have all reported falling profits, some by as much as 62%, because our eating habits are changing for the better. They must adapt, or perish.

McDonald's Chicken Gets New Standard: No Human Antibiotics

The consumption of factory meat treated with human antibiotics has rendered those same antibiotics less effective in treating human disease. Although not a perfect solution, McDonald’s has taken a step in the right direction by discontinuing its use of human antibiotics in their poultry. They are also phasing out dairy products manufactured with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rGBH), which causes cows to produce higher volumes of milk at a faster rate but comes with deleterious side effects, both for the cows and us.

Nestlé USA to Remove Artificial Ingredients From Candy

Most countries in Europe have been free of artificial ingredients and colorings for years. We are just beginning to recognize the egregiously high level of synthetic colors and chemicals consumed by our children, and to understand its adverse effect on cognitive processing, concentration, hyperactivity and impulse regulation.

To wrap it up…

Am I implying that processed, packaged foods are now healthy? No.

Am I recommending you run to your nearest Micky D's and order a big helping of chicken nuggets? Uh, no.

Am I suggesting that fruit gummies are just as wholesome for our kids as real fruit, since the added color is now culled from natural sources? Nay, people.

As much as these articles reflect a positive change in our common desire to adopt a healthier American lifestyle, it is only the first step in a long journey back to our birthright. We are born to be vibrant, to possess an abundance of energy, to live a robust, disease-free and fulfilling life. We have the power to reclaim our health, but we have quite a way to go.

It is our personal responsibility to continue to push the needle by making the best nutritional decisions for ourselves and our family, setting an example the entire country can get behind.

I am simply happy that the journey has begun.

Xoxoxo - Lara

How to Lose Weight without Dieting

There’s no getting around it - weight loss is 80% what you eat and 20% how you exercise. The older I get, the less I can get away with eating junky foods and thinking I can “work off” the calories by jumping around a little extra.

Cleaning up my act requires me to clean up my food choices, and I am so excited to share my time-tested strategies so you, too, can lose weight without going on some fad “diet” science has proven just doesn’t stick.

When I need to slim down for a video shoot, when I’m prepping for a tropical vacation, or when I’ve veered off the Health Highway and need to grab the steering wheel, I use the following 14 tips that always help me lose weight without feeling deprived. With these proven nutritional strategies, I guarantee you’ll feel amazing, your body will become a superhuman fat burning machine, and did I mention weight loss?

LARA’S 14 LAWS TO LIVE BY

1. DRINK 20oz OF WATER right when you wake up - add a squeeze of lemon, a tablespoon of Grade B maple syrup and a dash of cayenne pepper. This mini Master Cleanse kick starts your metabolism and wakes up your digestive system.

2. DON'T DRINK CALORIES. Remove soda, sports drinks, fruit juice, alcohol, sugary coffee concoctions and added sweeteners from your diet. If you love coffee, get good quality joe at your local artisanal roaster, invest in a French Press, and drink 1 big cup in the morning, black.

(Perfect the art of mining your morning "Black Gold" with this tutorial.)

3. CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENT. Remove all processed and sugary foods from your cabinet. Donate or ditch the boxes, bags, cans and containers of food-like products. If it’s white, it ain’t right, so lose the pasta, white rice, refined flour & sugar, white bread, and any other food leached of its nutrients through processing.

4. EAT WHOLE FOODS. Organic fruits & vegetables, lean meats, eggs, legumes, organic yogurt, whole grains, nuts and seeds will satisfy your hunger and nourish your body!

5. BRIGHTEN YOUR PLATE WITH COLOR to get the full spectrum of nutrients and antioxidants. At each meal, vegetables should cover at least half your plate. Green is King, but yellow, orange and red veggies are awesome, too.

6. BUY ORGANIC, GRASS FED MEATS & PASTURED EGGS so you increase the pros of eating animal products (high protein content, fills you up) and reduce the cons (added hormones & antibiotics, highly acidic, less heart-healthy). Check out EAT WILD and LOCAL HARVEST for all the sustainable resources you need.

(This chicken is stoked! Happy chickens mean healthy eggs and meat.)

7. CHOOSE HEALTHY FATS to help support the brain and body’s many functions: almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, avocado, olive oil & coconut oil are great choices.

8. COOK AT HOME 5 days a week, where you can control what goes into your meals, you control portion size, and you get the satisfaction of making something delicious and nourishing, just for you. Use these inexpensive HEALTHY RECIPES and have fun!

9. BREAKFAST LIKE A KING, LUNCH LIKE A PRINCE, DINNER LIKE A PAUPER. Gradually reduce the size of your meals throughout the day. Finish a small dinner by 7pm. Make some herbal tea before bed to soothe your stomach and make you sleepy.

10. CHEW! Minimize distractions, give thanks, and chew each bite 30-40 times. Chewing promotes easier digestion, heightens flavors, and gives your body time to register when it’s full so you don’t mindlessly overeat.

11. BRUSH YOUR TEETH. If you’re not really hungry but tempted to graze, a minty fresh mouth usually crushes the craving.

12. EAT ONLY WHEN YOU'RE HUNGRY. We often eat food to avoid, distract or procrastinate. Employ the H.A.L.T. Method: Am I Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Slow down and think about why you want to eat at this moment. If your reason is NOT hunger, write down your thoughts about why you might be using food for something other than nourishment. Often this is all it takes to re-focus.

13. SPLURGE ON A HIGH-QUALITY DARK CHOCOLATE BAR (at least 70% cacao) and eat 1 square after dinner. Dark chocolate is super healthy and enjoying a nibble every night feels like a treat!

14. BREAK A SWEAT EVERYDAY. Run, walk, bike, go to the gym, take a class, pop in one of my videos, play with your kids, dance in your living room. Get creative and move that body by doing something you enjoy!

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Thanks for joining my Wellness Community, where we work together to take the absolute best care of ourselves, without taking it all too seriously!

Xoxoxo – Lara