The New You Challenge: Week Two

Before I get into Week 2’s challenge I want to quickly discuss how week one went for me. As you know, the challenge was to drink half your body weight in ounces (or 64 ounces, whichever is greater) of water and then journal daily about how you felt. I mentioned in my previous post that weekends were always the hardest for me because I am just so busy (opposed to sitting at a desk for nine hours chugging water) and sometimes I forget to drink anything at all for hours at a time.  New Year’s weekend was the exception. Because of this challenge and journaling, I made sure to get in my ounces daily and it really helped especially when January 3rd rolled around and I got my period. I, like most women, hate my period. I get awful cramps and bloat like crazy but I noticed that this time my symptoms were slightly better. I wondered if the water helped reduce the bloating. Maybe it helped flush out any excess sodium making the symptoms worse, who knows. I’m not a doctor so I can only go off of how my body felt. Also, a thought occurred to me yesterday- should I be counting the water I drink at and immediately after the gym? Does rehydration water count? I have always counted it but I am not sure whether or not I should be. Any ideas?

Ok, so that was week 1. I hope you are all having a positive experience so far. Remember, these challenges are cumulative so keep it up with the water this week. It’s a habit I hope you adopt permanently. Please feel free to share any feedback in the comments or with me directly. I would love to hear how week one went for you! J

Now onto week 2’s challenge. I am so excited for this week. This is an introduction into what I find to be the key to healthy eating habits and that is what I like to call mindful eating. This is a big change, or at least it was for me, so we are doing this in two phases. This week we will learn about mindful eating (without changing our diet) and next week we will start making small changes based off of what we learned this week. Let me explain.

The Basic Six

Who: you obviously but is anyone else eating with you; family, friends, co-workers. These people, or lack thereof, play a big role in our eating habits.

What: full meals, snacks, junk food, treats, splurges, whatever you call it what you are eating is a big part of mindful eating. We eat for nutrients, fuel (energy, sustenance, we eat to live. What we eat will determine our health, our immunity, our energy, and our overall feeling of wellbeing but do we recognize that? I know I didn’t.

Where: at your desk, the dining room table, in front of the TV, in your car. Where we eat can easily take us from mindful eating to mindless eating.  Set yourself up for success and recognize the impact where has on your eating habits.

When: I eat ever 2-3 hours. I eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks daily, sometimes more if I need it. That’s me. We are all different so listen to your body to determine when you need to eat. Follow the hunger scale as guidance (more on that in a bit) and let that dictate when you eat.

Why: did you eat because you were hungry or did you eat out of boredom? Did you eat because your body wanted food or did you eat because you had scheduled this time to eat? Basically, why are you eating?

How: when I think about how I eat I think about speed. Did I eat slowly and think about how my body was feeling or did I eat like a ravenous, food crazed maniac? That was me just the other night, it happens.

For learning purposes it will be easier if we journal our answers after each time we eat but I understand that might not be possible. What if you didn’t bring your journal with you? What if you are under time constraints? It will be an adjustment for all of us, including me. Here are some tips. Text, email, or store your notes on your phone as an alternative method for journaling. Write it on a post-it. Take a picture of your food to help trigger memories later. If you can’t do any of them make sure you at least take 1-2 minutes to think of these answers. Your body will remember if you make a conscious effort.

So, those are the six base questions but there is a little more to my method of mindful eating.

The Hunger Scale

I learned this concept from my friend Simply Sidney. It is from Bob Greene (the Oprah guy) and it just makes sense.

Imagine a scale from one to five—one being full, and five being ravenous. If you’re hitting a three—your stomach’s grumbling, you’re physically dragging—it’s time to eat. Any lower than that, and you’re eating to fill an emotional need, not a physical one.

An unfortunately all too common statement in this house- ‘I’m at a five; I should have had a snack’. This usually happens when I am preparing a meal that takes much longer than anticipated and next thing you know I am sitting down to dinner hours later, ravenous and I gorge myself. I eat too much, too quickly, and I feel it. Gauging your hunger is the foundation of mindful eating and this tool is very helpful when battling food issues.

For me, my obesity stemmed from leading a sedentary lifestyle and overeating.  I wasn’t as much of an emotional eater as I was an all- around eater. I was a grazer. I ate out of boredom. I ate in celebration. I ate because the food tasted so good and I had no control. I ate when I was sad; I ate when I was happy. I had a very dysfunctional relationship with food. Now, I try to stick to eating when my body needs it (at stage three) and do my best to avoid eating at stage 1, 2, 4, and 5. But again, I must reiterate, I am a human and I slip up. But now I have the knowledge to do my best to survive through the ravenous feelings and the emotional eating because  I better understand food and its relationship with my body. Bottom line: my body needs food, not my mind.

Portion Control and Moderation

I say these are the basis of Weight Watchers but these should be the base of any program, diet, health plan. This would be the ‘how much’ question we need to know in order to practice mindful eating. Example: I just finished eating dinner, I feel stuffed. I feel I ate past full and am uncomfortable. I am feeling lethargic, my stomach hurts, and I am going into full on food coma mode. I need to ask myself what (of course) and how much did I just eat. I ate French fries but was that one serving of fries or was it four. Is my body reacting this way to one serving (maybe I should dramatically decrease my French fry consumption) or is it reacting this way to four servings (maybe next time I should eat a smaller portion and see how my body reacts). Do you see the difference? We need to know portion size to really learn how our body is reacting to food and then make changes as necessary.

Moderation is pretty much the same thing although I think moderation also includes emotional eating (eating when we are not hungry) or ravenous eating where we lose control of our ability to recognize fullness because we eat too quickly. With moderation I say start with one serving, eat slowly, enjoy your food and then wait. Don’t jump right up for seconds. Wait and see if you are still hungry. Maybe go grab your journal and write about your meal or snack. Think about how you feel after what you ate; how is your body reacting. Then, if you are still hungry (which is ok-EAT if you are hungry) go for seconds. Make sure you are portioning your food so you know.


Mindfulness is the act of recognizing the affects food has on your body. For me, my biggest problem with eating was that I ate purely for taste without recognizing any negative consequences food was having on my body. Example: I loved cheeseburgers. I would eat them pretty frequently. The after effects of cheeseburgers was indigestion, constipation, laziness (meaning I had no energy to do anything) and fatigue. But yet I still ate cheeseburgers. Why? Because they tasted so damn good. Don’t get me wrong- taste is important. To this day I will not eat foods that I don’t love how they taste. It’s just now I also factor in how food makes me feel. Recognizing the negative effects of cheeseburgers on my body made it so when it came time to decide on what to eat I would think about how that food made me feel and then decide whether or not that was ok. Cheeseburgers went from a multiple times a week for to a once in a blue moon food.

I want more from my food; my body deserves it. Taste is important but it is not the only thing. I want food that tastes good AND is good for me. I want to feel energetic after I eat, not lethargic. I want to have a strong immune system (built through nutrient dense foods) and not be sick all the time. I also want to have a healthy digestion and not feel so sluggish all the time. These are not unrealistic things; when it comes to food you can have it all. You just have to eat mindfully in order to find what foods work for your body.

The Challenge

For this week’s challenge I want you to eat what you normally eat. Do not change up your foods just yet. This week we learn mindful eating and then next week we will incorporate some small changes into our weekly meal planning.

This week will be a huge change as far as the amount of journaling required but I know you can do it. Just give it your best, that’s all I ask. It will get easier as we progress.

The Questions

Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. You can use one word answers for most of these. It doesn’t have to be super elaborate.

Hunger Scale: Stage 1 through 5

Portions/Moderation: how many servings and at what point did you stop eating

Mindfulness: how did you feel after? Lazy, energetic, crappy, blah, whatever words you feel just jot them down. Feel free to add on too at a later time in case you have some after effects from the food.

Let’s get started on our journey to mindful eating and hopefully in a week from now you don’t hate me 😉 As always, please feel free to contact me at any time with questions or concerns; or @dacialee33

Good luck and thanks for reading!


January 7, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Health, New You Challenge.


  1. Simply Sidney replied:

    We chatted briefly about this on twitter, but wanted to leave a comment b/c this post is so awesome!! With ideas like this you helped me get over a big hurdle last year and in turn my weight loss took off. I also think it was the shift I needed to start my new way of life. Diet, yuck, I hate that word, b/c it is not something you sustain nor are you likly paying attention to anything besides the scale. Food makes you feel, that is for sure and it should, it should make your body & mind feel good, while you eat and in hours after all the way until you eat again!!
    Loving your challenges, thank you!!

  2. New You Challenge: Week Six « thirtythreeandcounting replied:

    […] don’t neglect the other parts of this challenge; staying hydrated (week one), mindful eating (week two and week three)and fitness (week four and week five) as these are key players in the lifestyle you […]

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