Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Brain’s Misadventures Can Deter Even Strong, Determined Waist-Trainees With Lots of Discipline

chick broc sweetMy trusty NY Times included an article by runner Alex Hutchinson in last Sunday’s edition, called “How Salad Can Make Us Fat.” The title certainly caught my attention! Really? Now how does that work? I asked myself.

The brain betrays our best efforts and intentions I learned! Even for very dedicated, self-controlled individuals who generally can resist temptations and make healthy choices.

Of course fast food restaurants have capitalized on research that Hutchinson reports, knowing that just adding some healthy choices like low-cal salads or dressing on the side to their menus somehow tricks the brain into choosing the less healthy alternative while staring the salad menu right in the face. Just having the choice available justifies our bad behavior to ourselves.

It’s called the “licensing effect” by researchers. Furthermore, if we are grocery shopping and choose lots of fresh fruit, then when we walk by the Pop Tarts, we feel justified or “licensed” to just “pop” a box or two into our cart. If we choose healthy then somehow we feel justified to also choose badly. Research shows that dieters who take a weight-control pill then feel justified to eat more, not less, at buffets and mealtimes.

Not only is that true and sad, it’s just not fair!

You might want to purchase and download the 2012 documentary “Fed Up” narrated by Katie Couric. Once again it is a one-trick pony as I say, containing one focused perspective against sugar (and processed foods) that really doesn’t fit with our multidimensional world or considering complex personal motivations and the need for personal responsibility in what we choose to do and eat. Still some of the facts in the film gobsmacked me, such as:

— from1977 to 2000, Americans doubled our sugar intake;

— of 600,000 food products in the marketplace, 80% have added sugar;

— when cocaine-addicted rats were given the choice of more cocaine or sugar, they chose sugar! The brain simply “lights up” when eating sugar;

— as a nation it is impossible politically to both support the message “eat less and better” and at the same time support “more farms and more products for the health of business”. We can’t support public health and promote agriculture at the same time since they are non-sequiturs;

— when we went to skim milk and low fat in the early to mid 2000s, the extra fat was siphoned off into, get this: more cheese and more marketing about cheese. Remember that on tv ads? I do!

–when Big Food adds low fat products to the marketplace to demonstrate their commitment to health, they don’t take high fat foods off the shelves; they just leave it all there and increase everything, knowing that many will continue to choose (justify or “license”) high fat foods just by looking at the new low fat foods, which fits with the research and principles summarized in the article listed above!

Sigh…with Big Food bombarding us with gorgeous and amusing messages about new varieties of processed foods to hook us on sugar and calories, why is our brain also deserting us?

But knowing this, what can we do? I like solutions better than I like problems (once we know the problems, we need to move forward). Some solutions proposed by the article I agree with and some I do not.

The writer says that we should “focus on the process of living healthfully rather than the goal of being healthy.” To me that sounds like ambiguous and vague gobbledygook. How the heck are those two things truly different? They are not.

But I do agree that focusing on changing our eating behavior (action: how we eat and choose food) is more important than focusing only on losing weight or inches. In fact I advise my waist training students to look only for a down trend in three months or perhaps more, not to obsess about specific numbers along the way, then get on with planning, shopping, eating “clean”, giving up sugar forever, staying away from fast food restaurants totally, and exercising vigorously twice a week at least, with waist-targeted exercises included.

The author of this article suggests that we focus on one thing at a time, don’ t look too far into the future or take on too much or we will end up using it as an excuse to sin and sin again. For example, don’t worry too much about temptations for the next two months which includes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Xmas and New Years parties and temptations to excess: worry only about Halloween. Bear down and focus, determine to make good choices this coming weekend, and don’t give yourself an excuse  to pig out on candies and parties, because if you do, you will most likely not recover from the excesses — if you are like most human beings and most brains.

Hold yourself to a high standard, stick with the basics (KISS remember?), and try to tune out the noise of Big Food. A few simple, easy rules you impose on yourself and commit yourself to, seem to work better than any complex diet plan or short-term corset waist-training or surgery “fix.” I guess it takes a lifetime to be healthy.

The benefit of all these rules and of trying hard at first to clean up one’s diet, is clear to me since I gave up refined sugar on June 15. In only one month all foods tasted much, much better. My taste buds clearly changed. Veggies now taste sweet as does home-made soup, and fruits and yogurts (no-sugar ones like Oikos Zero) are positively sugary to my new taste buds. I like it, and now don’t feel deprived at all. But it did take a firm commitment to try for one month to see what happened. Liking the results I saw in one month, not to mention weight and inch loss plus energy enhancement, I think I can make this no-sugar personal program a lifelong commitment.

At least I can–if my brain will not desert me along the way!

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Visualizing Increments of “Down”–an effective waist-training technique

I’m always looking for new techniques and to understand what existing techniques make waist-training work. Recently for both Lee, one of my two present waist-training coaching students, and for myself, I’ve begun to use the “visualizing a range of weight” down from my present weight, to see if it keeps me moving in the right direction — down. I think it does!

Three weeks ago I set Lee’s visualization goal as to stay in the “115s” weight range. At the time she weighed 116.5. What she and I wanted to see was a weekly or bi-weekly weigh-in that consistently stayed somewhere in the 115-pound range. It seems that she has reached that goal, and so today, I set her next goal as the 113s. She has two more weeks of her formal initial three-month coaching program in order to reach 111 from an initial weight of 121. After that she decided to continue for another month to cement her progress and then switch to a tighter, new corset in the comfy wasp silhouette about to be constructed for her by our corsetiere Sheri Jurnecka.

Lee has also adopted and successfully adapted our waist-training coaching technique of long continuous hours of corseting six days per week gradually going down in restriction by 1/2″ increments. Today she reports that she wore her corset at 23.5″ or an actual under-corset measurement of 22.5″ down from her snug natural waistline of 26.25″, a 3.5″ reduction, and for three hours.

Instead of taking it off at that point, since she had then met the contract plan, she opened the corset up 1/2″ more and wore it another 10 hours. In other words, she is “bouncing” down for as long as is tolerable in order to meet her plan, then not taking it off but continuing her progress with a more gentle do-able restriction by loosening it up just a wee bit. The body will normally feel that as definite relief and will obey in tolerating the lesser corset restriction for a good number more of hours as Lee has experienced.

There is something wonderfully satisfying about meeting a set goal and the psychological pleasure acts to enhance our commitment to a process that works, where we can see, and measure results.Lina at eight weeks - Lee's progress notes

Speaking of seeing results, pictures are another technique that makes waist-training work. Be sure and take accurate front, side and back pictures both before you begin, half way thru, and at the end of waist training. (Note that it is very difficult to render images taken over time with exactly the same perspective, but there are visible if somewhat subtle changes pictured here for Lee  after eight weeks. Remember that for already-slim people like Lee, changes that improve the figure shape will not be dramatic although posture almost invariably improves quite distinctly).

Pictures can be incredibly motivating and can help you survive those days when your body rebels and you want out of that corset–“The Big O” I have labeled it, or “The Big Get Me OuttaThisContraption!” It happens to all of us at one time or another, but it’s not lethal. When Lee reaches a level 8 on her comfort/discomfort scale of 1 to 10 (10 equals true pain) she then opens up the corset and goes for more hours as the slightly looser level. I gave Lee this scale concept to use to communicate her feelings to me in a rational way, and to help her become more conscious of her body’s messages so she could manage corseting proceedures better on her end.

Lee is now down 5.5 lbs and 1.25″ in her waist from her start of waist training–no mean feat because Lee had already lost down from over 150 lbs. a year ago to her starting weight of 121 lbs. when we began her training. She is a tiny lady to begin with and already in good shape, just wanting to tone and tighten her figure and improve her posture to get to her “fighting” weight where she feels best and most energetic about life. She has set reasonable goals, demonstrated a rational, thoughtful approach over a year to weight loss and figure-shaping, and thus has a sterling chance of achieving success in corset waist-training to boost forward her progress.


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Pattern Interrupts – A Key to Healthy New Habits in Figure Training

Sugar in a Coke_6My favorite recent book related to figure training and corseting, is by Barry Friedman,  I love me more than sugarReading that book in early June changed my life, at least so far, now four months later. It made me ask myself the question: Do I? (Here’s that amazing picture of the almost-1/4 cup of refined sugar in one Coke! Horrifying, no?)

There’s something helpful I just read in that book (again), p. 213 about pattern interrupts.

Perturbation is a word meaning deviation of a system or process from its regular state or path.

For many of us, the system or process or habit we follow, is to give into sweets.  There is just too much information out there the past year about the bad effects of refined sugar on health, for this topic to be ignored by anyone into corset waist training, or anyone for that matter, into long-term health.

The issue is how to break that process or path of choosing cake, cookies, ice cream, candy and other refined sugar treats and food additives?

Friedman suggests the following:

1. Wear a rubber band around your wrist every day. When you want to give in, snap it several times.
2. Sing the chorus from a favorite song as loud as you can.
3. Jump up and down 10 times and count jumps in a foreign language.
4. Pet your dog or cat (or stuffed animal).
5. Drum a rhythm onto a desk.
6. Drink a glass of water.
7. Take a one minute power walk.
8. Splash water on your face.
9. Do five squats (ten is better per me!)
10. Slap your forehead three times quickly.

I might add: do your lean/pull technique, change the tv channel or radio station, email a friend, or call your mom.

These steps are all quick, you don’t need props, and they require no thinking. They do break your train of thought.

This technique reminds me of Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisper, and his Saturday morning tv on Channel 12 out here in Calif. Have you seen the show? He is an amazing “trainer of people and rehabilitator of dogs” as he says. We all need training, but we all need to understand how to rehabilitate ourselves, too, away from refined sugar and toward healthier, clean and natural food choices.

Friedman’s suggestions are not as silly as they may first seem.

I think they give us a chance to re-think what we were going to do, just like when Cesar Milan snaps his fingers in front of a misbehaving dog’s face, and the dog stops in its tracks so that another more effective habit may come into the picture from Caesar.

This perturbation finger snap equivalent for a human being, doesn’t stop us from asking for a second piece of cake, but it interrupts the normal process of robotic thinking and robotic responses to go for the second piece when offered. Consequently, for the next moment or two after a finger snap we have to think and then we have to make more effort to go back and fall back into our temptation and into our normal automatic response. Perturbation works for Caesar’s dogs; I think it can work for us, too.

The other way I quit refined sugar was to commit to a three-month no sugar kick, period. Friedman says try it for one month and that’s enough (well, really he suggests a lifetime commitment, but that might be too daunting to start with as a resolve) . But you have to be rigid about the period you choose and not go about it half—-ssed. To make the experiment work, you have to give it an honest try and not give in to sugar temptations, ever, during the period you set aside.

I faced my partner’s sister’s birthday celebration with the larger family during it my first 1.5 months of my no-refined sugar experiment. Yikes! It wasn’t going to be easy, I thought. Everyone typically gets a huge piece of thickly-iced cake with seconds if we want them. My partner got his piece, but chose a smaller piece with not so much icing as before (my good influence so far?) — and he did not go back for seconds. He sat next to me and put that blessed and pretty little piece of cake right in front of me. But I was prepared! I stood up (the finger snap) and walked to the fridge where I  had brought from home my favorite 80-calorie Dannon coconut yogurt. I opened it up, came back and sat down, and while he ate his cake, I ate my yogurt. I reached over and took one medium-sized bite of his cake, then went right back to my yogurt. That’s all the cake I ate. No one forced cake on me either, although that is a distinct possibility — if you don’t first get your family and friends on board with your new resolve.

For my upcoming birthday in early November I am baking a two-banana Truvia spiced quick bread with dates and nuts, to take with us on our visit to the high sierras and to a neat old cowboy-styled lodge. That will be my birthday cake this year. It’s yummie and made without sugar. In any case, I much prefer a good cappucino after dinner  (with no sugar, and with cinnamon on top, or just take Truvia or stevia drops to add), to a lethal sugar dessert. This is what I might call the “substitution” strategy to break a bad dessert habit.

Also, there is the strategy of the “celebratory slice.” You can choose a small piece of cake without much icing, and stop there. A minister friend of mine calls it a “celebratory slice of cake” at weddings he performs: he simply accepts graciously a slim piece of cake so he doesn’t not not partake, but he does limit the size.  If the cake is a present to you and you are home, you can simply freeze the rest of your cake after everyone and you are served, or better yet, give it to a neighbor or guest to take home and away from temptation.

And here’s a thought about timing of celebrations  Is there any reason that you can not ask your family and friends to postpone a celebration til after your no-sugar experiment? My partner and I sometimes miss our exact date of anniversary or birthday, but we always get around to it. Why should we permit that temptations during figure training and….here is the corker to me…make it harder to act consistently with my goals for four weeks, rather than easier? That seems purely and simply insane to me!

Then there is cleaning your environment. My partner in the past has taken  some left-over Halloween candy to work and is now taking a left over bag of my very favorite treat to work this month: candy corn. I die for candy corn. I can eat myself literally sick! My stomach churns from all that sugar! Yet I used to do that every Oct. when candy corn came on the market. Anyone share my addiction? So, I asked him to take the left over bag to his work to share, and to get temptation out of this house. And for better or worse we are not going to participate in Halloween candy hand-outs this year. I just don’t want that huge dish of mini-chocolate bars starting me in the face as I run up and down to answer my door bell and try to give it all away without one indulgence.  Cleaning my environment has been one key to success in my resolve to try a sugar-free experiment.

I wonder what other “pattern interrupt” techniques and strategies you have tried in your quest for health and to cut back on refined sugar?

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