February 28, 2017

Maintaining A Healthy Weight

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:18 am by kellyfdennis

I frequently get asked the question, “Why is it so hard for me to maintain a healthy weight?” While there is much debate over what is a “healthy weight”, I think what people are experiencing is the frustration over getting to a place where they feel healthy, good about their bodies, and are experiencing a healthy relationship with food, only to have it all “fall apart” within a few months.

Some of what is happening is biological. In an article titled: “Energy Intake in Weight Reduced Humans”, Rosenbaum mentions when the human body loses weight rapidly, such as when people are dieting, the body’s energy stores (fat deposits) decrease; hormones that regulate hunger tell the brain that the fat stores have fallen to a critical level; areas of the brain involved in food reward become more active while areas in the brain able to resist food become less active. All of this causes and increase in hunger cues, causing the person to want to eat more. At the same time the brain sends signals to the muscles to be more efficient using energy, so the body burns fewer calories. In addition, the body’s natural resting metabolism slows down.

For me this is evidence enough that diets just don’t work. So what does work? Becoming aware of bodily sensations and cues for hunger and satiation; increasing one’s awareness of emotional states, and understanding the meaning of food in one’s life, as well as learning how to overcome the resistance to regular exercise.Mindfulness is an effective way to begin to accomplish these goals. Mindfulness helps us become aware of “one thing at a time”, so instead of scarfing down breakfast while in the car on the way to work, being mindful of breakfast means being present while one is preparing it, really looking at what is being eaten, how it smells, how it tastes, the texture in your mouth. For most of us, being on “autopilot” prevents this level of mindfulness.

Another key component is creating a healthy relationship with one’s body. If we respect our bodies, appreciate what they do for us and reduce the amount of time spent in a negative internal (or sometimes very external) dialogue about our bodies, we may begin to actually desire to listen to what our bodies want; not only with food, but with exercise, rest and play.

So, let’s shift our focus, from frenzied, autopilot living, to slower, contented awareness. One moment at a time!

Be well and have a wonderful day!

February 17, 2017

Feeling Empowered

Posted in relationships tagged , , , at 2:54 pm by kellyfdennis

kelly-peacePower exists in all relationships. When I say this in counseling, most clients have an immediate negative reaction because these words  have had such a detrimental impact for most of the people with whom I work. However, power and control are important and, while they can be used in negative, destructive ways, they can also signal a healthy relationship when they are in balance.

Having power means we have choices and the ability to influence the environment around us as well as other people. We can choose to use this power in a positive, helpful way or a negative, destructive way. To have power is to feel empowered and when we feel that way we can regulate our emotions more effectively; we believe that we matter and are important in our relationships and the world around us. We have a sense of mastery over our lives, rather than being at the mercy of others and circumstances. Instead of reacting, we can respond because we believe in ourselves and trust our internal instincts.

On the other hand, many people feel powerless and the victim of circumstances or other’s choices. Individuals who have grown up in an abusive environment have experienced power used in a very destructive manner. They may wind up believing they would push people away if they expressed their opinions or ideas, or in some cases that their opinions and ideas don’t even matter. They may feel afraid that conflict may arise. They defer to others wants and needs sometimes in order to “keep the peace” or they believe another person will love them more if they succumb to that person’s desires.  However, this chronic feeling of powerlessness can lead to depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and/or anxiety.

In reality, love and power can and do exist together in a harmonious fashion in healthy relationships. When we claim our power in a relationship we live consciously, in the moment, taking responsibility for our emotions and actions; we express our needs and wants in healthy, satisfying ways. We set boundaries, we say “no” and “yes” because that’s what we really mean, not because that’s what the other person wants to hear.

When there is a proper balance of power, both parties feel interdependent with one another. Both people are autonomous, able to survive on their own, but chose to enjoy time and shared activities with each other. They rely on each other and “have each other’s backs”. They share feelings, needs, opinions, and thoughts. There is a level of trust that permits safety and the idea that it’s OK to be your authentic self in this relationship.

So, in reality, power is a beautiful word, when used responsibly and honestly.



February 11, 2017

Mindful Dog Walking

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:33 am by kellyfdennis

winter-road-in-the-mountains-10011173I took my dog for a walk this am, which in itself is not out of the ordinary. I was however, without my other walking partner. So, as the dog and I marched up the hill out of the valley we live in, I was thinking about my “to-do” list for the day, how to tackle it; there was so much to do in a short amount of time. You can relate, I know, we all have those thoughts from time to time. As the walk went on I noticed my neck and shoulders were beginning to feel tense. Now part of that is because it was 20 degrees outside and I think I was bracing against the cold! However, a larger part of it was that I was on autopilot, allowing the “to-do” list dictate how I was feeling. Fortunately, I noticed what was happening, being an in-tune-with-myself therapist and all, and looked up at the blue sky and noted to myself that the clouds were wispy and the air was crisp. I moved my attention to breathing in the cold air and then breathing out warmer air; paid attention to my feet in my sneakers and the feeling I was experiencing as I took each step. After about 3  minutes of mindfulness, my shoulders and neck were more relaxed and I found  myself smiling and looking forward to what the day might bring.

This is a reminder to me that, although our minds are very efficient problem solvers (wanting to solve my “to-do” list), being on autopilot and just allowing our minds to go wherever they will, isn’t always what’s best for our body and spirit.

Mindful dog walking what just what the therapist ordered this am!

Be well and have a wonderful day!


ponderings on life, food, God, and love

Grace on the Moon

Do Not Weigh Your Self-Esteem on a Scale

on anything and everything

my thoughts on what I see