This past week I got my ass kicked and there were hardly any breaks in between sets - until last night when Jess and I had a heated discussion about being emotionally tied to food.It’s a form of addiction and I have been able to identify when I get emotionally drawn to food. Many of us can relate to this - when we are under stress, under pressure at work or feeling emotional about the things going on in our lives, some of us react by using food to push it away. As Jess would explain it, we eat to push it all down but at the end it makes us feeling worse about ourselves (clogged up with emotion and with substances void of nutrition). I used to be like this all the time before working with Jess and I ate carelessly. I’m a lot better now, and know so much about healthy eating that I couldn't go back to what I was like before. However, I still have days where I want to indulge or have certain things without feeling like I’m restricting myself. When I'm stressed I just want to eat what I want! When I feel like I’m restricting myself I get even more agitated and stressed. Jess suggested I stop seeing it as a restriction and instead see it as doing something good for my body. She also suggested I stop using the term “cheat” meals and “treats” because it divides up two ways of eating: for nutrition and for emotional expression / medication. Jess says: Food has the ability to make you very well, or very sick. When you are eating nutritionally balanced meals, it can be used as a preventative form of medication. If you are looking to use it as a fast fix to stress (like an advil to a dehydration-induced headache), you are abusing it. Nutrition can help to keep our stress levels (and stress hormone) at bay when used properly. And when stress DOES hit? You need to go for a walk, get your body moving and therefore your brain functioning smoothly through solutions. It works better than anything, and lets your brain breathe. Cramming toxic foods into your system doesn't help a damn thing. This has been the hardest challenge. For example we’re going to the cottage for the long weekend; my parents will probably bring chips. I suggested that I’l l bring vegetable chips or sweet potato chips. After I said that to Jess… there was silence. I knew she thought this was a bad idea and I knew it too. I thought I was suggested a healthier option. It may be a better option but it’s still fried in saturated fat and very high in sodium. So an alternative? Kale chips. Now this is very different for me and I’m not used to it. I always associated good time with fatty foods. I.e. Cottage trip=chips and alcohol. Vacation=eat whatever you want. At the movies=popcorn with extra butter. Who says these fun things have to be associated with food? More specifically with junk food? My new approach is to now come up with healthy alternatives for the fun things I enjoy doing that I used to associate with unhealthy snacks and foods. Hopefully I can get to a point where I don’t have to associate any life events with food and just eat to fuel my body and give it the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and fit.

Jess says: I am going to refer again to Tosca Reno's discussion of an "obesigenic society", one that is conducive to obesity. Relaxation does not require snacking. We are programmed to feel this way because of chemicals altering our hormones in the short-term, yes - IN THE SHORT-TERM. A quick fix, like a high, that generally makes us more anxious and less happy in the big picture. And of course, due to marketing (I'm now thinking of a chocolate commercial, someone breaking off a piece and suddenly there are swirling clouds and trickling water and everything is right in the world... until that sugar spikes and crashes your insulin!). It is vitally important that all people who wish to be well, high energy, healthy and lean have a sense of self and of identifying one's hobbies, and indulging in them. Why is it all about food all the time? Why is everything about eating? Eating is amazing, nutrition is beautiful. But when mealtime is over - get out and DO something! Our bodies are more than just our mouths. Exercise - run, climb, push, pull, move - read books, and have lots of sex. If you have any complaints after spending more of your free time doing these things and less time snacking, I would love to hear from you! :)