Tuesday, January 26, 2016

[THIS IS IT!!!] Find me from now on @ www.hilaryglaus.com!!!

Hey beautiful people!

The time has come...

...to retire the blog on Blogger, as I've graduated to a website all my own, www.hilaryglaus.com, which I encourage you to visit and continue to read. I post lots of juicy content, including workouts, nutrition tips, insights, and motivation to live life health-usiastically. I also encourage you to sign up for my email list! I send out an email once a week with exclusive content that you won't see on the blog, Facebook, or anywhere else.

It's like being in a super-cool secret club :-)

Anyhoo, I can't wait to see you over in my little corner of the web. As always, I look forward to hearing from you, so don't be shy. Reach out and touch me (in the internet-sense, that is!)!!!!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The case for low-fat muffin tops!

Recently, I was chatting with a client as I took her through her workout. We were discussing the danger of talking about foods in moralistic terms, i.e. the tendency that we all have to label foods as either "good" or "bad." I (naturally) took the position that no food is good or bad, it just is. Food is inanimate and and by nature benign: the way that we think about food is what causes us to perceive food as good or bad. I'll always argue that when we assign these labels to foods, we do ourselves a disservice because what we're really doing is self-identifying as good when we eat "good" foods and bad when we eat "bad" foods. When our self worth is defined in terms of what and how we eat, we base our value on a completely arbitrary system, a system that tells us: "My sense of self is completely skewed towards what I do (or don't do) rather than who I am." Unfortunately, this way of thinking is very common and very insidious.

My client had a different thought. She was very adamant that yes, there are foods that are good and bad! She said that to be considered good, a food should be either nourishing and pleasurable, or just plain pleasurable. The metric is entirely subjective and relative to the individual. One person's pleasurable could be another's bad, and vice versa. For example, we know that spinach is a nourishing food, but it's not necessarily pleasurable for everyone. For some, spinach may be the least-appetizing vegetable they can think of to eat, in which case they should not force themselves to eat it but rather find another equally-nourishing green vegetable that is pleasurable. Alternatively, one may be hard-pressed to find anything objectively nourishing about french fries, but if the pleasure factor is high, it's a good food despite how fries may be vilified by the healthy-eating community!

It would be hard not to get on board with this alternate theory of good/bad foods as relative to the tastes of the individual. I was, however, curious how my client would classify "diet" foods, and what place, if any, they would take on this spectrum. Unsurprisingly, she had a strong opinion on the matter and needed little coaxing to reveal her true feelings about such foods: that they are bad, period, and not worth the calories they're reduced by. She recalled a conversation she had with a friend who is on a diet and eats low-fat muffin tops as snacks. Needless to say, she does not approve! She said that she just "doesn't see the point of them."

I considered her overt disdain for low-fat muffin tops, and how the way that she bristles at the idea of eating a "diet-friendly" muffin shows how evolved her perception of food is. I admire how she does not allow her food choices to define her. I think that she made a very good point that is not at odds with my aversion to labeling foods as good or bad. Her system of categorization of foods is not arbitrary; rather, it implies a considerable amount of forethought and mindfulness. If she wants to eat a muffin, she will eat one and make darn sure that it fulfills her criteria!

However, I did have to play devil's advocate...

Before I get there though, I must confess: I would never choose to eat a low-fat muffin top or other "diet-friendly" food now because it would not satisfy me. Satisfaction is the axle around which my nutritional commitments rotate, and the reason why I am able to "navigate the nutritional middle" with relative ease. In short, satisfaction is what makes moderation feasible. When I am satisfied by my meals, I don't feel deprived and don't find myself reaching for something I don't want or need later in the day.

Personally, a low-fat muffin top would increase my satisfaction quotient by a factor of 0. Whether I ate it in the morning or as an afternoon snack, it would leave me feeling deprived and chances are I would find myself grazing the cupboard later for something I would later regret. This is not something I've always known about myself, however. It's taken several years and a lot of trial to error to determine that a low-calorie snack pack or low-fat muffin top will not take the edge off of my hunger, but only add to it. Furthermore--and this is embarrassing to admit!--eating a snack like this earlier in the day used to not only make me more likely to binge, but help me justify my binges, as if these diet foods were my Get Out of Jail Free card!!!

All this to say that one gal's kryptonite is another gal's best defense...

...which brings me around to my point: low-fat muffin tops and other "diet" foods in general are only bad if they do not serve a greater purpose, by which I mean they help to increase our overall satisfaction and move us steadily towards our goals. As far as I'm concerned, it is not my place to judge one person's choices as better or worse than another's because #bioindividuality!!! We are all as different psychologically as we are physically and biochemically, which means that we all experience hunger, cravings, and energy fluctuations differently. In other words, while a low-fat muffin top might turn me into Little Miss Cravings, it might be just the thing to take the edge off a craving for someone else. By all means, if snacking on a low-fat muffin top is a tool that you need to use to keep hunger and cravings at bay, keep on keepin' on and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

What foods help YOU take the edge off your cravings? 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Why what we tell ourselves about ourselves matters

Happy (almost) 2016!

This has been one heck of a year. I'm so proud of everything that I've accomplished this year, and I'm looking forward to what 2016 has in store with a healthy mix of excitement, optimism, and fear. 

Yes, fear.

Not the kind of debilitating fear that renders one inert; rather, a fear that motivates and encourages by its being faced down and overcome. In other words, I fear that I'll try and fail, but the greater fear is that I won't try at all and never fulfill the potential that I know I possess. Frankly, I think this is a pretty positive place to be!

Despite that fact, it is not natural for me to exist in a state of blinder-less conviction. In fact, my self-esteem rises and falls by my ability to control my fear and direct it towards action. The less motivated I feel, the more I question myself and my "credentials," and the harder is becomes to damper my fears. The more afraid I feel, the more I feel like a failure, and the less motivated I am to do anything productive. It's a self-defeating cycle that can be hard to break out of.

Before I came to the realization that a career in health and wellness was inevitable, fear controlled me and permeated all aspects of my world. I lived my life in a state of perpetual self-criticism; it enshrouded me like the storm cloud follows Grumpy Bear wherever he goes:

Lacking the insight that I now possess, I searched aimlessly for a method, mantra, or phrase that I could repeat to myself to set me up with a positive outlook for the day. I'd read that repeating positive mantras to oneself could be transformative in terms of how you think, feel, and relate to yourself. I figured it couldn't hurt to come up with something I could easily repeat to myself every morning in the mirror to start my day off on the right foot, and I'd be much better of if I internalized these positive affirmations. 

And it did work...for awhile anyway. Perhaps it was just a placebo effect: I felt that I would work, so I subliminally created a more positive outlook. The problem was that there was no thrust behind the words; that is, there was no narrative attached the words so they were only words. In essence, I was like Al Franken's character, Stuart Smalley on SNL, except that I was an outsider looking in who could see straight past that veneer of positivity. I couldn't help but detect the bullshit that I couldn't necessarily hear but certainly felt.

Because I felt no attachment to them, I eventually stopped saying them and I went back to my same old habits that dimmed my light and left me in a very fearful and lonely place.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

"One of these things is not like the other...!" [How an evolving mindfulness practice helped make this the most fulfilling holiday to date]

In years past, I would wake up the day after Christmas a remorseful, bloated, unhappy mess. Instead of reflecting joyfully on the time spent with family around the table and tree, I'd immediately begin plotting how many hours of cardio I would have to do in penance for my dietary "sins."

Needless to say, any relief I could elicit from guilt-exercise was brief to say the least, and left me feeling bereft: Both overindulgence and its resultant guilt left me no emotional bandwidth with which to form pleasant memories of the holiday. Instead of feeling abundance in heart, soul, and mind, I felt emptiness. I blamed myself for my lack of self-control, thus perpetuating the idea that overeating "bad" food meant I was an inherently "bad" person. 

Thanks to lots of conscientious practice, grace and patience, this year was different. I was fully immersed in the celebration of the day; I indulged mindfully and joyfully; and in moments of weakness, I reached out to another human being for emotional sustenance as opposed to turning to food. This represents a huge turnaround for me, and I just want to shout to the rooftops that #moderation365 works!

#moderation365 is a mindset around food that takes time to cultivate and practice. It requires that you discard tendencies to define foods in moralistic terms and just see it for what it is: food. Something benign, but which can and should be both nourishing and pleasurable. When you eat this way, nothing is ever off-limits, which has a crazy way of making formerly "forbidden" foods seem much less tempting. When foods are less tempting, we're much less likely to overindulge in them. The radical notion that we can sample any food that we want at any time makes it easier to eat in a way that supports our physique goals without having to expend as much physical and mental effort. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's not...

Take this photo for example: 

Behold, an accurate depiction of what I've eaten in the past 48 hours. I've sampled my favorite Christmas cookies; pumpkin pie; fancy cheese; stuffing; and turkey skin. I've also helped myself to plenty of protein; brussel sprouts; and #BAS (big-a$$ salads). For me, this is what #moderation365 looks like. Sure, I'm not eating Christmas cookies and stuffing everyday, but on any given day, I work something similar into my diet...something that I would have previously scorned and avoided (only to overeat on more and worse things later on). 

One of my intentions for 2016 is to keep practicing #moderation365, with the hope that it becomes more and more effortless. My wish for you is the same: that whatever health-or-fitness-related intention you have, you practice it with a full heart and plenty of compassion. I hope that you seek out support from others, and remember that I am here and more than happy to cheer you on. #letsdo2016right :-)