12 Oreos, Please...

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff

I love data.

Give me some cold, hard numbers or a detailed explanation of one of the hormonal cascades in the body, and I get giddy like a preschooler who just got a puppy. 

Oooh, just saying the words “hormonal cascade” means we should probably look at one right now, right? Right! Woo hoo!

Here’s a look at one process that happens when we get more sleep:

Getting more sleep → brings the adrenals back online → which raises DHEA → which is a precursor to several important hormones, including testosterone (women naturally produce some testosterone and it’s critical for several key bodily functions) → testosterone helps increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat → which leads to a greater ability to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

So cool! And so motivating!

Or not.

According to research, 9 out of 10 of you reading this might be interested (or vaguely interested) in the details, but you’re NOT motivated to change. (I’m the 1-in-10 outlier.)

For the vast majority of folks, actually making healthy changes comes not when we have a deeper understanding of an issue, but when we’re able to envision the path in front of us that will lead to that healthier life.

Helping clients co-create that path is a big part of what Jill and I do in our work.

Even when people (myself included) have a lot of information stored in our brains (or in our browsers), knowing what to do and when, how to piece the steps together, and how to tailor them for our individual bodies and lives can be confusing and overwhelming.

So much so, in fact, that our initial burning desire to make a change can sometimes burn out before we start. We’re exhausted just thinking about it, and we just want some cookies or fries.

As Kate McKinnon’s character says in the new Ghostbusters movie, while stressed out by nearby paranormal activity and elbows-deep in a can of Pringles, “I can’t resist these salty parabolas.”

Heck, no supernatural phenomenon necessary. Eating some chocolate cake is still my first instinct when someone looks at me the wrong way in the grocery store or I get a painful hangnail.

Having support on the journey – someone who is a mentor, coach, and teacher – is a powerful way to co-create a new path that clears up confusion, eases overwhelm and exhaustion, and helps navigate around those familiar old traps.

We divide our work with clients into these three parts: mentorship, coaching, teaching. 

Here’s a hypothetical cinematic re-enactment of these different roles:

You: Ack! Stress! 12 Oreos now, please!

MENTOR Me: I’ve been there. Sugar is my weakness, too. When I was giving it up, and I was reeeeaally stressed, some of the often-recommended techniques didn’t work for me, like going outside and taking a walk or finding another distraction. Instead, I needed to find a replacement and I discovered that texture and spice worked for me as satisfying replacements. In really stressful moments, I switched out cookies with a square of extremely dark chocolate dipped in almond butter (for texture) and a cup of chai tea with almond milk (for spice). My better half has discovered that tempeh prepared with tarragon tastes like mac-and-cheese to her. Can you think of any complex flavor or textures that might do the trick for you? Or any other healthy replacement?

You: Ack! Stress! 12 Oreos now, please! 

COACH Me: I don’t have the answers in this situation because YOU do. What triggered the stress? Can you think of a non-food related response or action that would help? Would you be willing to try that?

You: Ack! Stress! 12 Oreos now, please!

TEACHER Me: Eating too many refined carbs and too much sugar is considered dangerous to the body because it forces the pancreas to pump out insulin, too much of which can lead to insulin resistance, which is associated with overweight/obesity, stroke, cancer, dementia, and heart disease. Insulin resistance is also linked with premature aging.

I enjoy pulling the veil back on the coaching process for those who’ve never experienced it, but I also like writing about it because it reminds me not to always default to “expert + explainer” mode. The best approach combines all three: mentor, coach, and teacher.

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff

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