Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review: Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig

When I first started this book, I'll admit it, I was a little annoyed at Melissa Hartwig's valley girl tone coming though in her writing. I think its because I was just coming off my David Spade book and that's the very thing he made fun of all the time. She introduced her book by writing, "First I want to say, like, Thank you...." It rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry. But as I read, I put those trivial thoughts aside and learned a good bit from her advice. Below are the nuggets of wisdom I've taken away from the book:

Ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" Its going to feel like hard work at first. You may not even remember to switch gears until after the first bite. You will probably still find yourself automatically accepting the offer of rewarding foods out of sheer habit. This is okay. They key is not to panic, or think you've blown it and beat yourself up over it. And I certainly don't want you to think, "Oh, well" and eat your way through the rest of the pantry. You don't do that anymore. This is a new skill, and you're not going to be good at it right away.
-pg 84

"You are not good or bad based on your choices. They are simply choices. You do not cheat; you make a choice. You do not fail; you make a choice. Your choices do not define you as a person. There is no shame, guilt, or punishment, only consequences. "
- pg 96

Strategy to cope with tempting situations: Create temporal distance (Ex: I can have this in 15 min/one hour/one day)
-pg 100

"Develop routines: Choose a few situations where you feel your willpower getting shaky or times of day when a routine would help you feel self confident and in control. Then create a cue to drive you toward healthy behaviors. A common practice is coming home from work and immediately snacking, even if you are not hungry. In this case, the cue is arriving at home. So, design a new routine to follow that cue, to prevent you from ruining dinner with less-healthy foods. Your new routine could be changing into workout clothes, brew a cup of herbal tea, everyday when you get home- a soothing ritual that allows you to shift from "work mode" to "home mode"
- pg 107

"Researchers agree that your willpower "bank" (the amount of energy available in the brain to exercise self regulation and resist temptation) is a limited resource, like having $100 in your bank. Each time you exert willpower, you withdraw a dollar- or a few. 
-When the account is down to $0, know the kind of decisions you make then. The problem is that in today's world, you are constantly bombarded with temptation and the promise of reward. If you start spending your will power dollars before you are out the door, what do you think your balance will be by the time you get home from a tough day at work. 
- Improving your will power for the day starts the night before. Take as many decisions out of tomorrow as possible- especially ones involving food. Lay out your clothes the night before, prep your coffee, breakfast, and lunch; pre-pack your work bag. Try to predict ahead of time whether you'll be feeling rested enough to hit the gym , or whether you will need an extra hour of sleep. This way, your brain won't be forced to make trivial decisions early in the morning, and you will have more willpower bucks to spend later in the day. Also, get your butt to bed earlier. Sleep makes ample deposits into your willpower bank, while fatigue creates stress,  which compromises willpower."
- pg 110

"Technology has a vampiresque impact on willpower, sucking the life out of our capacity to say no to temptation. Research shows that resisting the lure of technology- the PING of an e-mail notification, the text message alert on your phone, all those shows you have lined up on NetFlix- are especially taxing to your willpower reserve. Think about how many apps you have on your smartphone, all the various methods friends can use to connect with you, and how many times you've used technology to procrastinate. The smartest move is to reduce the sheer volume of temptations that come from your Internet connected devices"
- pg 112

"Turn off notifications on your smartphone and computer. The result: No more pop up when someone hearts your instagram, no more message indicator on your e-mail icon, no more posts when someone posts a new story on Snapchat. Remove these cues and you'll cut way down on the RIGHT THIS MINUTE WHAT IF I'M MISSING SOMETHING mentality. In addition, move your most frequent ed social media apps off your home screen, so every time you make a business call or consult your calendar, you're not reminded that you haven't checked Twitter in four whole minutes."
- pg 113

One thing I learned which has helped me on the willpower front is realizing that "the buzz of a new text, email, or social media notification actually is addictive is because of dopamine. The same neurotransmitter responsible for "wanting" and "seeking" rewarding food also really loves the promise of a new notification. Your brain associates that little ping with validation (someone liked my comment!), belonging (I'm part of this social connection!) , and seeking (discovering new music, articles, and dog photos).... Given how fast social rewards pile up thanks to technology, you can get stuck in an endless loop of wanting-> reward- >wanting more->  more reward. Plus there is that ever present cue: that little chirp or notification that precipitates you picking up your phone. No wonder its hard to ignore"
-pg 113

Smart supplementation may help support everyday stress reducing practices. Stress at the cellular level drives down magnesium levels, which make it hard to relax (especially at bedtime) and harder for your body to utilize glucose as energy. You can take a patented magnesium form called Magtein, which is designed to cross the blood brain barrier more effectively, or a supplement with a powdered magnesium citrate like Natural Calm. Split your dose up throughout the day, taking some midday and the rest just before bedtime. If sleep is your biggest issue, try an all-natural supplement like Dr. Kirk Parsley's Sleep Remedy ( which contains magnesium and other micro nutrients designed to promote deep, natural sleep. 

"During your stressful time, prioritize three things that are the most important given your context (work, exercise, sleep, friends, family) and accept that the rest will be sacrificed for the greater good until you can catch your breath"
-pg 145