EXPERIENCE A W3 L!FESTYLE January 2011
SLEEP IT OFF
Avoid Unwanted Weight by Getting More Z’s
You Shouldn’t Ignore
A Kinder, Gentler Way to Lose Weight?
Apartment Living at it’s Best
Live and Be Passionate For YOU
2011 Plan of Action
Eliminate Blame, Complaining, and Procrastination
A W3 LIFESTYLE MINIZINE
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Sleep The Weight Off By Kristin Ohlson New research shows that sleep significantly influences metabolism, appetite and weight management. Could getting more shuteye help you ward off excess pounds?
When I was in college, I often began my homework at midnight. Nothing seemed to focus my thoughts on a term paper better than a morning deadline. I knew this routine wasn’t a wise one — after all, I might crash facedown in my textbook. But I told myself that adrenaline improved my writing. Besides, I figured I was losing weight on those nights with only four hours of sleep. I assumed that all that effort to stay awake and functional had to be zapping away the day’s calories.
mous “freshman 15” — the average number of pounds students gain in their freshman year of college. People have acknowledged the value of sleep for centuries. But they’ve focused primarily on sleep’s impact on brain function and the obvious costs of burning the candle at both ends: lowered mental acuity, irritability, and a greater chance of accidents and mistakes. “If you talk to some neuroscientists today, the prevailing view is still that sleep is only for the brain,” says Eve Van Cauter, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and an expert on the ways sleep affects endocrine function.
Turns out that I was greatly mistaken. In fact, recent research shows that lack of sleep can make people gain Over the last few decades, weight, not lose it. sleep researchers across the Perhaps night-owl country have been overturning behavior like mine helps explain the fa- that view. Their studies indicate that curtailing sleep and getting
poor-quality sleep are implicated in many diseases that affect the entire body, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer and impaired immune function. One of the most startling observations has come from Van Cauter and her University of Chicago colleagues. Over the course of four studies, they showed that people who don’t sleep enough, night after night, unwittingly trigger a hormonal storm that causes their appetites to rise. Other researchers followed up with studies looking at the long-term health of large populations and found the implications of Van Cauter’s work borne out in real life: People who sleep fewer hours tend to become overweight or even obese. Even a difference of one hour is significant. Columbia University researchers, for instance, found that people between the ages of 32 and 59 who slept only four hours were 73 percent more likely to become obese than those sleeping seven to nine hours. Even a difference of two hours was significant. Those who slept only six hours were 23 percent more likely to become obese than those sleeping seven hours. Does this mean we can shed pounds by getting additional shuteye? Maybe, but research hasn’t yet proven this supposition — the studies looking at whether overweight people shed pounds when they sleep more are just getting under way. Still, it’s clear that insufficient sleep encourages weight gain and that getting adequate sleep helps prevent it. For most of us, adequate sleep means seven to nine hours a night, and over recent decades, fewer of us have been reaching that goal. According to research by the National Sleep Foundation, the average duration of sleep for Americans fell from a high of nearly nine hours in 1960 to seven hours in 2002, and to just over six and a half hours in 2009. More recent surveys show that the number of people sleeping fewer than six hours per night has doubled over the last four decades to nearly a third of the population.
ple who pay attention to nutrition and exercise sacrifice sleep. They think they can get by with less, perhaps because the medical problems from sleep disorders usually become apparent [more slowly] over the years.” Bleary-Eyed and Craving Cookies Studying sleep is big business in the United States. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has 8,000 members, and there are some 2,000 accredited sleep centers scattered across the country. Many are exploring the biochemical processes that go awry after too many nights of insufficient sleep. Others are investigating the body’s response to poor-quality sleep — sleep disturbed by stress, anxiety, a snoring partner, loud neighbors, or conditions like restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. Van Cauter set out to study the connection between sleep loss and appetite after anecdotal reports from sleep studies indicated that subjects were overeating during extended stays in the laboratory. The common assumption was that they ate because they were bored, but she decided to test that assumption. In the first-ever study to make the connection between sleep and appetite, published in 2004 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Van Cauter’s team brought 12 lean and healthy young men into the lab for two four-hour nights of sleep followed by two 10-hour nights. They found that when the subjects slept for only four hours, they showed dramatic changes in two hormones that regulate appetite. Blood draws revealed an 18 percent decrease in leptin, a satiety hormone produced by the stomach that tells the brain when the body has had enough food. They also showed a 28 percent increase in ghrelin, a hunger-causing hormone produced by our fat cells indicating that our energy reserves are running low and need to be replenished.
Taken together, these two hormones boosted the young men’s hunger — even though the amount they ate and exercised was the same during their nights of ample sleep. The subjects reported a 24 percent increase in appetite after “People tend to sacrifice sleep,” says Clete less sleep, with a special eagerness for chips, Kushida, MD, PhD, a sleep expert at Stan- cakes and cookies, and breads and pasta. ford’s Center for Human Sleep Research and a recent past president of the Ameri“This study suggests that there could be can Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Even peo- long-term consequences with prolonged sleep
deprivation — especially if you’re trying to control your food intake or stick to a healthy diet,” says Kristen Knutson, PhD, a University of Chicago assistant professor of medicine who’s been involved in many sleep studies. “They were craving junk food, not apples and carrot sticks.”
jects also showed an increase in the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the early evening — a sharp contrast to the normal tapering down of this hormone before bedtime. The secretion of growth hormone (GH), which affects growth and metabolism, was also altered: Instead of the normal single burst of this hormone after sleep onset, GH was released twice, before Sleep researchers have also noted other im- and after sleep. portant biochemical changes that might influence weight gain in people who are chronically “These alterations in cortisol and growth sleep deprived. In 1999, Van Cauter and her hormone could affect insulin sensitivity negUniversity of Chicago researchers published a atively,” explains Knutson. “And that’s a study of young healthy subjects who endured bad thing; we want to be insulin sensitive.” six nights with only four hours of sleep followed by six nights with 12 hours of sleep. During the Body-Clock Confusion short sleep days, examinations showed that Researchers know that sleep deprivation the subjects’ ability to metabolize glucose was impaired, meaning that their muscles and other disrupts one of the most basic mechanisms in tissues weren’t able to remove glucose from our body: our internal clock. And, studies show that messing with our internal clock may have the blood effectively. serious implications for our weight. We evolved This sort of sleep-related metabolic disrup- over millions of years shaped by the earth’s tion can prompt the body to bump up its produc- cycles of day and night, and light and darktion of insulin, a hormone produced by the pan- ness, and our body’s clock still ticks according creas that flows through the blood and binds to to those basic cycles. our cells, allowing them to absorb glucose enThis clock — often called our circadian ergy. Without that action, glucose builds up in rhythm — isn’t just a metaphor. It has a prethe blood and prompts the pancreas to secrete cise location in the brain’s hypothalamus, in more and more insulin. two pinhead-size clumps of neurons called the Over time, this can create the kind of insulin suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) that sit above resistance that marks adult-onset diabetes. Ex- our two optic nerves. The SCN monitors the cess insulin also prompts the body to store fat. light coming in through our eyes and, based on the amount and timing of light, regulates vital Researchers aren’t entirely sure why sleep rhythmic functions throughout the body, includloss leads to this prediabetic condition, but ing temperature, the release of hormones, and they have observed that their sleep-stressed metabolism. subjects have increased activity in their sympathetic nervous system, the mechanism that The brain clock ticks away largely unaffected activates the fight-or-flight response. (This acti- by the rest of the body — in fact, researchers vation of the sympathetic nervous system might have removed that portion of the brain from also account for the preference for junk food animals and watched as the SCN continues to among Van Cauter’s sleep-deprived research pulse rhythmically on its own for a while. But subjects: Stressed people often crave the quick the SCN is not the only clock in the body. Alenergy such fare offers.) most every cell has a clock-like function that operates on a 24-hour cycle. The difference When sympathetic nervous activity increas- between the brain clock and all these others es, parasympathetic activity — which helps is that the latter can’t operate on their own. control the function of many of our organs — They depend on the brain clock to sustain their tends to drop. “Parasympathetic activity has an rhythm. impact on the pancreas, so if it’s reduced, it’s possible that insulin is not being properly regu“We think the main clock is like an orchestra lated,” says Knutson. conductor that keeps all the other instruments in time,” says Ilia Karatsoreos, PhD, a postdocDuring their sleep-deprived state, the sub- toral fellow at Rockefeller University’s Labora-
tory of Neuroendocrinology whose experiments with mice suggest that disrupting their circadian rhythms prompts weight gain and impulsive behavior. “Once that conductor is disrupted, it loses its ability to keep these other players in sync with each other. The organs and tissues are then not working as well together as they should be.”
50 to 60 hours per week,” Knutson says. “You want to have a life outside work, so you pay with sleep time.”
But the body keeps a very exact accounting of the hours needed for sleep. If we build up a sleep “debt” of an hour or two per night, Monday through Friday, we’re generally not going to be able to make it up in one weekend. We By remaining awake when our biological carry that debt and the burden of sleepiness clock says we should sleep, we risk scrambling forward, often not even realizing how sleep imthe alignment of the internal systems regulated paired we are. by our SCN — with terrible implications for our “Several studies have shown that after cuweight, among other things. mulative sleep deprivation, individuals are no “All the different organs that regulate me- longer able to recognize the degree of sleepitabolism have circadian rhythms,” says Phyllis ness under which they operate,” says Van CauZee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and di- ter. “They think they’re OK, but when their perrector of the Sleep Disorders Center at North- formance is tested, they fail miserably.” western University. “And when they’re out of What we need, say some experts, is a new sync, it can expose one to changes in metabolism or to choosing inappropriate food or to eat- characterization of sleep — one that doesn’t regard it as a time when we just turn ourselves ing too much.” off. We need a new appreciation of slumber as Some researchers think late nights fueled a part of the environmental metronome guiding by bright lights and glowing computer and TV important cyclical functions in our body — funcscreens may trick our bodies into thinking we’re tions that affect our weight, our body chemistry, in a sort of perpetual summer — a high-activity our neurology and our overall well-being. time when our hunter-gatherer predecessors Most of us assume the routines of a lean would have been loading up on readily availlifestyle — like healthy meals and exercise — able carbohydrates in preparation for a long, are limited to our waking hours. But that point cold winter. of view leaves out the crucial dark side of our “Our ancestors’ sleep durations would have 24-hour cycle, when sleep prepares our bodbeen shorter in the summer,” says James ies and minds to function at their best on the Gangwisch, lead author of the Columbia study. following day. It ignores the fact that our bodAnd our caloric needs would have been far ies require adequate downtime to regulate sysgreater, he explains — both to fuel long days of tems that have a direct impact on whether we activity and to accumulate precious fat stores accumulate unwanted weight, or succeed in that would carry us through the cold season. evading it — now and over the long haul. Our modern reality is entirely different, of course. “Now,” notes Gangwisch, “we can have year-round fat deposition, preparing for a winter that never comes. It comes, of course, but we’re still warm and can get all the food we want and can still have short sleep durations because we have year-round light exposure.” Playing Catch-up There are plenty of reasons why we’ve grown so estranged from sleep — despite its obvious health implications. Chief among these is our tendency to work longer hours. “Instead of working 40 hours, people are often working
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Quick & Easy Eclair Cake
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By: Cathy Gordon “This is a very quick and simple no bake dessert cake. It uses graham crackers and a pudding mixture. It tastes just like an eclair, but there is enough for a crowd!! It is a great recipe for children who are learning to cook, there is no baking involved or any power kitchen tools. Just a bowl and a spoon!”
Ingredients 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed 3 cups milk 1 (16 ounce) package graham cracker squares 1 (16 ounce) package prepared chocolate frosting
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In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the pudding mix, whipped topping, and milk. Arrange a single layer of graham cracker squares in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan. Evenly spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers. Top with another layer of crackers and the remaining pudding mixture. Top with a final layer of graham crackers. Spread the frosting over the whole cake up to the edges of the pan. Cover, and chill at least 4 hours before serving.
Live and Be Passionate For YOU 2011 Plan of Action by David Wolfe
If you don’t know what you want out of life, there will be plenty of people out there that are ready to tell you. Unfortunately, they have their best interest at heart and rarely have yours in mind. Take some time these last few weeks of the year and go over what you did in 2010 that was specifically about achieving your personal goals. Did you accomplish what you planned? Did you have a plan? Did you start a new hobby or keep purusing the hobby you already had? What did you do this year that was 100% about you and your personal happiness? If you do not make the time for yourself and take the time to find passion in your own life, there is nobody out there that can or will do it for you. You need to find your personal passions and then explore them. Do what makes you happy. Stop searching for happiness when typically is right in front of your face. Too many times we spend our energy on the negative things in life and the “why not’s.” Why not me? Why can’t that happen to me? Why does he/ she always seem to have great things happen to them? Why, why, why? I’m not going to start preaching about things like The Secret and the importance of spreading positivity around you. I’m not even going to talk about karma. The bottom line is that your life is going to be what you make of it. If you truly want to be happy, then you will be happy. The first step is simply finding what you are passionate about and then surrounding yourself with whatever that is. Surround yourself with people that have the same passions and values that you have. Stand up for something... stand up for yourself! I always tell people, be what you want, and be who you want to be...the rest will fall into place. Live and be passionate about what makes you happy. Do not let another year go by with no plan or goals. Take the next few weeks and think about what you need to do for YOU to achieve what you want. Notice all of the “you’s” in that statement? Again, if you don’t know what you want out of life, there are plenty of people out there that are ready to tell you...but then it is all about them.
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The quirky urge. A funny tingle. That little voice in your head. These are your gut feelings talking. But what are they telling you, and should you listen? Here’s how to make the most of your own innate wisdom.
few years back, two scientists at the University of Iowa conducted an experiment in which research subjects played a game of chance with four separate card decks and stacks of play money. Each card indicated whether the player had won or lost money, and the goal for the player was to draw as many cash-delivering cards as possible. What the players didn’t know is that the decks had been rigged. Two of them had been stacked so they yielded high rewards but punishing losses, while the other two offered smaller rewards and virtually no losses. It took most players about 50 cards before they started to favor the safer decks, and about 80 cards before they could explain why they did so.
Here’s the curious part (and amateur gamblers should take note): Sensors attached to the players’ skin showed that after only 10 cards, a player’s hand would get sweaty and nervous when it reached for the risky decks. “Although the subject still had little inkling of which card piles were the most lucrative . . . [his] emotions knew which decks were dangerous,” writes Wired contributing editor Jonah Lehrer in How We Decide (Houghton Mifflin, 2009). “The subject’s feelings figured out the game first.” Most of us have experienced the sense of knowing things before we know them, even if we can’t explain how. You hesitate at a green light and miss getting hit by a speeding truck. You decide on a whim to break your no-blind-dates policy and wind up meeting your life partner. You have a hunch that you should invest in a little online startup and it becomes Google.
If only you could tap into those insights more often, right? Turns out you can, especially if you learn to identify which signals to focus on — whether they’re sweaty palms, a funny feeling in your stomach, or a sudden and inexplicable certainty that something is up.
According to many researchers, intuition is far more material than it seems. Hope College social psychologist David Myers, PhD, explains that the intuitive right brain is almost always “reading” your surroundings, even when your conscious left brain is otherwise engaged. The body can register this information while the conscious mind remains blissfully unaware of what’s going on.’
“Something feels wrong in my body.”
Listening to your body’s subtle signals is a critical part of exercising your intuitive sense, says Orloff, who also trains UCLA medical students and psychiatric residents to use intuition when treating patients. “Your body is a powerful intuitive communicator,” she explains in Second Sight. “Intuition allows you to get the first warning signs when anything is off in your body so that you can address it. If you have a gut feeling about your body — that something is toxic, weak or ‘off’ — listen to it. Go and get it worked up.” She’s seen too many people ignore their sense that something isn’t right with their bodies, and subsequently find that small problems have become big ones.
Another theory suggests you can “feel” approaching events specifically because of your dopamine neuPhysical symptoms can also have symbolic value. rons. “The jitters of dopamine help keep track of real“If you’re around somebody and your energy goes ity, alerting us to those subtle patterns that we can’t down, that’s an intuition not to ignore,” Orloff says. consciously detect,” Lehrer notes. Sudden sleepiness can mean that you’re in the presThis means if something in the environment is even ence of an energy-draining person or circumstance; it slightly irregular — the speed of an approaching truck, can be your body’s way of communicating that these the slightly unusual behavior of someone at a party — conditions are taking more energy than they give. If your brain squirts dopamine and you get that “weird” you stay in a situation that makes you feel instantly feeling. Whether you pay attention or not can make all depleted (like taking a job after you left the interview the difference. You might meet your future spouse — feeling exhausted), it can easily lead to a situation or meet your maker. Those signals carry a lot of impor- where you become depressed, anxious and — not surtant information, so it’s wise to listen up. prisingly — stuck. Judith Orloff, PhD, a Los Angeles–based intuitive psychiatrist and author of Second Sight (Three Rivers Press, 2010), believes the benefits of listening to your instincts go far beyond making good on life-ordeath decisions. “Living more intuitively demands that you’re in the moment,” she says, “and that makes for a more passionate life.”
Ronald A. Alexander, PhD, a psychologist, mindfulness expert, leadership consultant, and director of the Open Mind Training Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., also recommends paying close attention to any sudden physical sensations you experience during the course of an interaction. He tells a story of traveling in India where he decided not to get in a cab because of a “burning sensation” in his gut, and he later saw But she also notes that gut instincts are far from in- the driver being arrested in the train station for susfallible. The right brain’s skill with pattern identifica- pected robbery. He says he typically feels intuitions in tion can trigger suspicions of unfamiliar (but not dan- his chest or his stomach; the latter is relatively comgerous) things, or cause you to be especially reactive to mon given that the intestines house the enteric nervous people who simply remind you of someone else. system, sometimes called the “second brain.” So how do you choose which gut feelings to trust? “That second brain really is the intuitive brain,” Orloff suggests that it’s a matter of “combining the Alexander explains, and he recommends that when it linear mind and intuition,” and striking the right balspeaks, you listen. ance between gut instinct and rational thinking. Once you’ve noticed an intuitive hit, she says, you can en“I’m in danger.” gage your rational mind to weigh your choices and deJackie Larsen was leaving her Grand cide how best to act on them. Marais, Minn., prayer-group meeting on To that end, here are five gut feelings that Orloff and an April morning in 2001 when a clean-cut young man other experts recommend you pay attention to — and named Christopher Bono approached her, asking for some reasons why you’ll be glad you did. help. He told her that he was on his way to meet friends
in Thunder Bay, and his car had broken down. During their brief conversation, she got a visceral feeling that something was wrong, accompanied by a sharp pain in her stomach. She sent Bono inside to talk to the pastor of the church and called the police to have them trace his Illinois license plates. It turned out he was the prime suspect in a gruesome crime and was fleeing the scene.
Since evolution has made you a quick read of other faces and their emotional signals, you don’t always need to wait for a verbalized cue before you reach out. The sympathy instinct nudges you to change the subject when wedding talk makes a newly divorced colleague cringe, or to start up a conversation with a nervous seatmate during an airplane landing — subtle gestures that can make a big difference in someone’s day. The capacity to empathetically identify with other Larsen’s brain had likely detected subtle irregulari- faces can even be what compels you to donate money ties in Bono’s behavior. “Mere ‘thin-slices’ of some- after a natural disaster. Studies of humanitarian relief one’s behavior can reveal much,” writes Myers, who efforts show that people are markedly more compelled relates Larsen’s story in his book Intuition: Its Pow- to give after seeing a photo of an individual in need ers and Perils (Yale University Press, 2002). His un- than after reading statistics about damage. derstanding of this capacity is more socio-historical than neuroscientific; he believes that the feeling you Finally, this ability to “read” other faces isn’t just get about a person in the first 10 seconds expresses an good for those you help. One recent brain-imaging “ancient biological wisdom.” Early humans who could study suggests that generosity makes the pleasure censpeedily detect whether a stranger was friend or foe ters in the brain light up like the Las Vegas Strip. When were more likely to survive, he says, and they would participants were given $128 of hard cash along with create descendents who were able to read emotional the choice to keep it or donate it to charity, the reward signals in another person’s face almost instantly. centers of those who chose to donate went wild. Of course, the human capacity to “thin-slice” can go badly awry, as it did in the 1999 fatal police shooting of Amadou Diallo in New York City. Police fired when they thought the young Guinean man was reaching for a weapon, but he was actually unarmed and digging in his pocket for his identification.
Multiple studies have also demonstrated a phenomenon known as the “helper’s high,” which causes individuals aiding others to experience improvements in mood, immunity and overall well-being. That’s why following your instincts for sympathy and generosity generally turns out to be a good investment in your own health and happiness, too.
Because social conditioning helps to create unconscious beliefs, and these beliefs can produce first im“I know how to do this.” pressions and snap decisions that are utterly flawed, Basketball announcers can be merOrloff suggests that it’s important to check your gut ciless when otherwise talented players feelings against your rational mind whenever possible. And there are simple ways you can attend to what feels choke at the free-throw line, but most of us can identify with the player’s sense of panic. You might have like a warning signal in the short term, she says. a well-developed yoga practice with one pose that “If you don’t trust somebody, even if it turns out to still stumps you. Or maybe you’re a stellar driver who be inaccurate, it is something to pay attention to,” she forgets how to parallel park whenever your intimidatexplains. “If you’re walking down the street at night ing sister-in-law is in the car. Or you’re a great cook and you get the feeling ‘stay away from that person,’ who botches your favorite dish each time you make it just cross the street.” for guests. In situations like these, the can-do instinct you’ve developed through years of experience is being “I want to help.” drowned out by an onslaught of over-thinking.
While you might think of our gut instincts as something we’ve maintained mostly to avoid danger, the human species has evolved an equally powerful capacity to sense when our fellow beings need support. “Sympathy is one of humanity’s most basic instincts, which is why evolution lavished so much attention on the parts of the brain that help us think about what other people are feeling,” notes Lehrer.
“Choking [among athletes] is a vivid example of the havoc that can be caused by too much thought,” Lehrer points out. “Such deliberate thought processes interfere with the trained movements of their muscles.” He cites a study at the University of Chicago showing that, while novice golfers did better when they thought carefully about their putts, the performance of more experienced golfers got much worse when they reflected on what they were doing.
Rational thought served the beginners; it turned out, because they were still developing muscle memory and technique. But for those players who had already integrated all that information, instinct naturally took over — and did a far better job. Overriding instincts and neural patterning in favor of logical thought absolutely destroyed their performance.
many factors involved in a complex decision like, say, buying a house, that the limited space in the prefrontal cortex gets overwhelmed. In that state, it becomes the wrong part of the brain for the job.
Several studies support the wisdom of emotional decision-making in the realm of big choices. Lehrer cites one conducted at the University of Amsterdam “Once you’ve developed expertise in a particular that simulated the experience of buying a car, providarea — once you’ve made the requisite mistakes — it’s ing research subjects with overwhelming amounts of important to trust your emotions when making deci- detailed information. Some car buyers were briefly dissions in that domain,” Lehrer insists. If you know you tracted, then left to choose quickly and with their emocan do it, trust your gut — not your head. tions. Follow-up surveys revealed that they selected the most satisfying car 60 percent of the time. Other Next time you’re tempted to think too much about subjects who had more uninterrupted time in which to something you know how to do, try a little therapeu- choose were pleased with their decision less than 25 tic distraction. Say the alphabet backward when your percent of the time — worse even than random chance. yoga teacher orders you into the dreaded handstand, or sing a favorite song to yourself at the free-throw line. In another study, the same Dutch researchers shadBriefly engaging your conscious mind with something owed shoppers at IKEA, observing their shopping other than the task at hand can leave your instincts free behaviors. Later interviews indicated that those who to do their job — and free you to enjoy the satisfaction spent less time making their choices ended up more all that practice has made possible. satisfied overall. Choosing a couch and choosing a spouse are decidedly different acts, to be sure, but both “This is it!” tend to provoke the kind of agonized over-thinking that leads to poor choices. Using your intuitive brain in Most people have a great “I just knew these situations, on the other hand, will almost always it was right” story. It might be about the point you toward a lasting fulfillment. time they first spotted their sweetheart or crossed the threshold of their first house or figured out Of all the reasons to use your gut instincts to make they wanted to switch careers. There’s a reason most big decisions, this may be the best: It leads to the of us have memorable stories about the biggest and choices that are most fully satisfying — decisions that best decisions we make in life, says Orloff — they’re can improve the quality of your life. typically remarkable for their lack of cognitive heavy lifting. “It allows you to find relationships that resonate for you, instead of what looks good on paper,” Orloff says. When your intuition signals that you’ve found “It allows you to connect with people on a heart level, something or someone truly right for you, the choice it allows you to deeply experience life instead of just often becomes strangely easy. “It feels healthy; it feels letting it wash over you, and it allows you to be really good; it doesn’t feel like you’re forcing it, there’s not a smart about how you make your decisions.” lot of conflict,” she says.
Lehrer agrees that when you’re poised to make a big decision with lasting repercussions, like choosing your life partner, you’re best off deciding from the gut. Based on the bulk of his research into the cognitive mechanisms of decision-making, he actually recommends that you “think less about those choices that you care a lot about.” According to Lehrer, the rational mind is really suited only to limited concrete choices, like deciding between two brands of car insurance. In situations where there are just a couple of relevant factors involved, the prefrontal cortex can weigh the comparative rewards of each and yield an excellent result. But there are so
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Intuitive Eating for Weight Loss As an alternative to doomed diet regimens, some weight-loss experts recommend tuning in to our own instincts. But are our bodies’ cravings always a good guide?
t was more than a decade ago, before the obesity epidemic had even peaked, that nutritionists Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA, noticed the stream of failed dieters traipsing through their offices, many of them desperate for help. Aware that dieting pitfalls — from ravenous hunger to outright boredom — might be part of the problem, the nutritionists gave their clients permission to indulge some cravings, but nonetheless kept them on programs that limited food intake. Eager to please, the clients followed the meal plans and initially lost weight.
compromise of sorts. They called it “Intuitive Eating” — a nutritional strategy that rejected dieting in favor of psychological awareness. In particular, it emphasized the importance of increasing clients’ sensitivity to internal signals of hunger and fullness and helping them develop a greater attunement to the physiological effects of the foods they ate. Described in their influential book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003), the system taught users to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional need, and to trust that natural urges would deliver better health and balance than any diet could.
he concepts were controversial. Clients in Tribole and Resch’s intuitive eating program were free to eat as much as they wanted and to indulge their cravings for food. While diets were all about restriction — calorie counting, weigh-ins, denial of pleasure — intuitive eating gave permission to eat anything. A slice
But, Tribole recalls, “Sometime later we started getting calls from some of these people telling us how much they needed us again. They couldn’t stick to the plan anymore. Maybe they needed someone to monitor them. Maybe they didn’t have enough self-control. Maybe they weren’t any good at this, and definitely, they felt guilty and demoralized.” Looking around, the two nutritionists saw the writing on the wall — and in the medical journals, too: Something like 95 percent of dieters fail to stick with their weightloss programs, from Weight Watchers to Atkins to Jenny Craig. Determined to find a different approach, they first looked to the anti-diet movement, which was just then burgeoning as a backlash to the war against obesity. “The anti-diet movement proposed a way of eating that allowed for any and all food choices, without regard for nutrition,” Tribole explains. It was a philosophy at loggerheads with literature linking excess pounds to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more — and it ran counter to Tribole’s and Resch’s own instincts. “Our initial reactions were highly skeptical,” says Tribole. “How could we, as nutritionists, trained to look at the connections between nutrition and health, sanction a way of eating that seemed to reject the very foundation of our knowledge and philosophy?” Eventually, Tribole and Resch determined that they could resolve the conflict by hammering out a
of cake? A pizza party? It was all allowed. But can a system so permissive really keep weight down? To some extent, the jury is still out. Expert opinion has been mixed. Intuitive eating clearly doesn’t work for everyone. Yet, thousands of people report losing weight based on intuitive eating, and in recent years, peer-reviewed studies have supported the claims. Not only did intuitive eaters in recent studies have lower cholesterol, less diabetes, healthier hearts, better levels of fitness, and lower body mass index (BMI), they achieved all that without the psychological stress and self-loathing that dieting can bring on. According to Tracy Tylka, PhD, a psychologist at Ohio State University whose research has lent rigor to the field, the women participating in her intuitive-eating study were “more likely to reject the societal stereotype
These positive results make sense in light of evidence that dietary restrictions disrupt homeostasis, a series of metabolic feedback loops between the gut, liver, brain and the body’s cells that help to maintain internal equilibrium. Intuitive eating has a shot at succeeding where restrictive diets fail, say proponents, because it complements rather than fights the complex biology of hunger. It does so by building conscious awareness of hunger cues honed by evolution over millions of years. Science Weighs In Until recently, evidence that intuitive eating promoted weight loss was largely testimonial, but a group of studies published in the last few years has lent more credence to the claims. Especially influential is research from Tylka. Before investigating intuitive eating, Tylka specialized in people with eating disorders, focusing on those who fell along the spectrum of disordered eating without being symptomatic enough to actually be diagnosed. Some 40 percent of Americans qualified for this broader category, she found.
reported “a lower tendency to eat when physically hungry and stop eating when full.” While the studies can’t really prove causality — no one can say whether eating styles are determined by life circumstances and personality traits, or vice versa — Tylka sees the relationship as “bidirectional.” She sums up her findings this way: “Attending to physiological signals of hunger and satiety are uniquely connected to well-being, and to lower body mass.” Hungry Hormones No matter where experts stand on intuitive eating, they universally agree that restrictive diets have failed, en masse. Most of the diets we tap today are still rooted in the old “calories in, calories out” model — a straightforward equation in which every morsel of food and every iota of exercise is evaluated on the basis of its caloric value. This mechanistic formula implies that the overweight among us must simply be too lazy, ignorant or lacking in self-control to regulate themselves accordingly, and are thus entirely responsible for their own plight.
“Ever wonder But important new research has proven line of thinking quite wrong, and why you this that’s one reason intuitive eating is a second look from experts who overeat when getting might previously have written it off. Those who didn’t fall on the spectrum, she discovered, seemed to be intuitive the new research shows, stressed What eaters whose habits resembled those according to George Blackburn, of the people Tribole and Resch had MD, PhD, director of the Center for the out?” described in their book. Study of Nutrition Medicine at Harvard As a group, these people were often unhappy, obsessed with their weight and suffering from body-image problems, whether they were overweight or not.
By 2006, Tylka had laid the scientific basis for researching the eating style. She created a scale that defined and then measured the traits of intuitive eaters: Those who qualified could be defined by 21 traits in three broad categories, including unconditional permission to eat, eating from physical rather than emotional cues, and relying on internal hunger and satiety cues. Tylka used her scale to study more than 1,400 people, determining that intuitive eaters have a higher sense of well-being and lower body weight and do not seem to internalize the “thin ideal.” Later research on 1,260 college women found intuitive eaters shared a series of empowering traits: They were optimistic and resilient, skilled at social problem solving, and had good selfesteem. A study Tylka published in 2010 showed that parental pressure to restrict eating in childhood translated to higher BMI in adults. The pressure backfired by disconnecting individuals from their natural hunger and satiety cues, she posits. Indeed, her adult participants
Medical School, is that the stomach and other metabolically critical parts of the body don’t just process foodborne calories. Rather, they are responsible for sending dozens of chemical and hormonal messages to the brain, where what we think of as hunger really resides. One key hormone in this system is ghrelin, the only biomolecule found to stimulate the hunger center in the hypothalamus of the brain. Ghrelin is released from the stomach in response not only to physiological hunger — triggered when cells are short on energy — but also to pleasure seeking and stress. Experiments have shown that people injected with ghrelin eat 30 percent more — perhaps because the hormone gravitates to the same brain area responsible for addictive behaviors. Conventional diets based on calorie restriction limit energy to cells, boosting ghrelin and driving hunger that may be almost impossible to resist as time goes on. Ever wonder why you overeat when stressed out? The stress hormone, cortisol, triggers the body to produce
extra ghrelin. That ghrelin works on the brain’s pleasure centers to calm you down, but you pay the price in extra weight. Then there’s leptin, one of a series of “satiety hormones” produced by fat cells that tell the brain it’s time to put your fork down. There was a time when scientists celebrated the discovery of leptin, hoping that supplements would suppress appetite and keep weight under control. But for the overweight, leptin is a dead end; levels are already elevated in the obese, but their cell receptors are resistant, much like diabetics are resistant to insulin. The obese have plenty of leptin, in other words, but it no longer has an effective place to land. The chemistry is complex, but the takeaway message for lifelong dieters is disturbingly simple: Calorie restriction elevates ghrelin, driving the hunger that sparks overeating and weight gain. The situation worsens as the failed diets stack up and the years go by. The resulting obesity renders the brain resistant to leptin, the very hormone that is supposed to help put the brakes on our appetites.
Susan Albers, PsyD, author of Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food (New Harbinger, 2003), found that intuitive eaters can often handle cravings just by slowing down. As with other forms of impulse, simply stopping to ponder the source of a craving can help you realize that it isn’t about hunger at all. Food can be a drug, she explains, in that it stimulates the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. But those mindful enough to grasp that they are eating to boost mood, not appease hunger, can seek the fix through a healthy alternative like exercise, meditation or social connection. The key, says Albers, is awareness: “If you remove that comfort eating, you must consciously put something back to take its place, be it meditation or massage. The mindful eater recognizes and respects physiological hunger — if you are really hungry, it is important to respond.” Nutrition consultant Marc David, MA, author of The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy & Weight Loss (Healing Arts, 2005), has his clients focus on the quality of the food itself. His rationale is simple: Higher-quality food — real, fresh, flavorful and organic — is nutrient dense and inherently satisfying.
Cultivating Consciousness Greeting our desire for food with conscious awareness rather than white-knuckled self-control is an essential priority of intuitive eating — in part because most of us have been socially and environmentally programmed to eat without much consciousness at all. “Food is everywhere in brightly colored packages,” observes Lynn Rossy, PhD, a health psychologist who teaches mindfulness in her intuitive-eating workshops at the T. E. Atkins University of Missouri Wellness Program in Columbia. “But what is in the food, and how are we using it? Are we hungry or full when we decide to eat? Are we eating to disengage from our emotions, or to get pleasure? Are we eating when we are really hungry for something else that we would find by looking to other parts of our lives? We make so many food choices every day, but we’re so busy we’re not paying attention. In order for someone to become an intuitive eater, that has to change.” Intuitive eaters must tune in to not just hunger and satiety, but also mood. “Emotion can impact the digestive system and mimic the feelings of hunger,” explains Rossy, “but practicing mindfulness can help you tell the difference. It gets easier over time.”
“Yes, many of us eat too much,” says David, founder and director of the Boulder, Colo.–based Institute for the Psychology of Eating. “But we do so, to a degree, because our food is nutrient deficient. It lacks the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and all the undiscovered X-factors and energies we require. The brain senses these deficiencies and wisely responds to this absence of vital chemistry by commanding us to undertake the most sensible survival strategy: Eat more food.” One key to getting such cravings under control, David asserts, may simply be to upgrade the quality of the food we eat, then notice how we experience it. “Stop and see how you feel following every meal,” he suggests. Not for Everybody In the end, only you can intuit which foods are right for you — and whether your cravings are driven by a
such things, and motivated to do so, you may have success with intuitive eating as a weight-loss strategy. Critics of intuitive eating point out, though, that for many, the approach has some very real limitations. For one thing, notes Elson Haas, MD, some people crave the very foods that are making them sick — much like an addict may crave a drug, despite the overall damage that it does. Indulging cravings for those foods could set you up for an inflammatory and immune response that worsens biochemical imbalances rather than ameliorating them. Even nutritious foods like yogurt, nuts and whole grains are not going to produce good results for those folks who have allergies or intolerances to them. Also, cravings for sugar, dairy products and caffeine do not typically abate with indulgence, Haas notes, but instead tend to drive inflammation, water retention, brain fog — and still more craving. The only way out of that rut, says Haas, author of The False Fat Diet: The Revolutionary 21-Day Program for Losing the Weight You Think Is Fat (Ballantine Books, 2001), is to heal and re-regulate the body’s disrupted biochemistry. This necessarily involves a certain amount of self-control in the short term, he notes, but for a totally different and arguably better reason than controlling calories. The goal here is to clear your system of the biochemical factors that are confounding it — and your weight-loss efforts.
ven without an allergy or food addiction, though, intuitive eating may be hard to master for the obese, many of whom may struggle with imbalances in blood sugar and brain chemistry that have become entrenched by years of dysfunctional eating. Such imbalances can effectively compromise the bodybased intuition that individuals require to put intuitive eating techniques to work. That was part of the message when the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior held its annual meeting in Pittsburgh this July. University of Illinois researchers reported that a diet consistently high in fat restricted the neurotransmitter dopamine in the striatum (the part of the brain associated with reward). The upshot was that rats on high-fat fare had to eat more than their brethren on a low-fat diet for the same sense of reward. University of Pennsylvania researchers reported that leptin — the fullness hormone — activates the hippocampus, and this process may be impaired by obesity, making it harder for obese individuals to muster self-control. And Yale scientists scanned the brains of human subjects exposed to the smell and taste of food: The brains of normal-weight participants reacted
differently, depending on their level of hunger. But obese participants’ brains reacted to taste and smell no matter what the status of their hunger, driving them to eat long after getting full. So, is intuitive eating for you? Only you can decide. If you’re out to maintain your weight or drop a few pounds, intuitive eating may be an ideal strategy. If you’ve experienced little luck with restrictive dieting in the past, intuitive eating may help you rethink your whole approach to food. But if you are obese or dealing with disrupted biochemistry as the result of food intolerances, you may want to seek some professional nutrition counseling to rebalance your body and brain before you give intuitive eating a try. Either way, keep in mind that intuitive eating is a package deal — the practices of conscious attention can’t be separated from the “eat what you like” philosophy. You can’t just cave in to cravings without being willing to question them first. Nor can intuitive eating be practiced effectively in a vacuum devoid of sensible food practices. For example, Haas notes, “Planning ahead with a good menu enables you to have healthy foods available when you need them” — something that may be tough to pull off if you always eat on the spur of the moment. All of us, though, could probably benefit from tuning in to our bodies more often. “The body has spectacular wisdom,” says Marc David. “We just have to listen to
QBQ! The Question Behind the Question by John Miller Review by David Wolfe
Please tell me what ever happened to Personal Accountability? Our society seemingly has gotten more and more about pointing fingers rather than taking accountability and coming up with solutions. It happens on many levels, whether it is at work, in our personal lives or criticizing a politician. No matter at what level – finger pointing has become the “norm.” Aggravating to most, but still happens on a daily basis. Lack of personal accountability has become a problem resulting in an epidemic of blame, complaining, and procrastination. No organization or individual can achieve goals, compete in the marketplace, fulfill a vision, or develop people and teams without personal accountability
Thinking. Empower yourself to handle situations as they present themselves and don’t succumb to the situation by becoming the victim. As Miller quotes, “The best thing we can do to get rid of victim thinking in our world is to get rid of it in ourselves.”
The author says this book is for anyone that has heard questions like these:
This book is excellent in pointing out that communication is about much more than how we speak or what we say, but even more importantly is how we listen and how we understand the person speaking to us. Asking the question “How can I better understand you” is a perfect example of this. After all, if we are talking to someone but can’t understand what they are telling us…then what is the point?
• “When is that department going to do its job?” • “Why don’t they communicate better?” • Who dropped the ball?” • “Why do we have to go through all this change?” • “When is someone going to train me?” However, in my opinion, this book is for everyone. Each and every one of us can always use a reminder of how important personal accountability is to our own personal successes. The book helps the reader to recognize and ask better questions. Miller points out that every question should always Focus on Action. Sounds simple and obvious; however, take a day and listen to most questions that are asked – typically they focus on “Why,” “When,” and “Who.” The answer to which almost never truly results in action to solve the challenge or opportunity at hand. Another great way he refers to the “Why” question is – Victim
The great thing about this book is that it is an quick and easy read full of practical methods for putting personal accountability into daily action that will produce immediate results. It is only 115 pages and I read 97 pages in my first sitting. The pages are small and the text is large and is written in more of a conversational style rather than as an instructional manual. Using this tool, each of us can add tremendous worth to our organizations and to our lives by eliminating blame, complaining, and procrastination. Enjoy QBQ! – The Question Behind the Question and share it with others in your life because as Alvin Toffler says; “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
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