Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why Do I Crave Chocolate?

I hear this question quite often.  Is it the nutrients in chocolate my body needs?  Something I am missing in my diet that chocolate can provide?
The answer may surprise you... but the reason you crave chocolate is because it tastes good! It's sweet on your tongue and creamy in your mouth.  It provides calories and fat to ward off any hunger that may occur over the next few hours.  It temporarily boosts your blood sugar, and even alters some chemicals in your brain that make you feel better. The caffeine may help you become more alert, and at the same time the serotonin (a neurotransmitter) more calm. Why wouldn't we crave chocolate constantly? It does so much for us!

A better question may be "why are you constantly focusing on it?"
If you are trying to lose weight or eat healthier, you may be continually telling yourself that chocolate is "not allowed" on your diet or it's "forbidden" or it's "bad". When you tell yourself that something isn't good for you, even though you like it, you are making yourself want it more. Think about things you were told you could not have as a child. As soon as something was "forbidden" you wanted it more. When you were allowed to have it, it lost some of its appeal.
Let chocolate lose some of it's forbidden appeal and let yourself have some. Not a pound Hershey bar. You might not even want to keep it around the house or your office. What if you let yourself buy a tootsie roll every day or a peppermint patty? Is there a reasonable amount of chocolate that you could savor, enjoy, not feel guilty about, and have your craving satisfied?

Perhaps your answer is "no" because some people simply cannot have one piece. "I'll eat the entire bag" they say, or "If I can't have a whole candy bar I don't want just one bite".
If you find a happy medium that works for you, like a few chocolate kisses in the afternoon, you may find your cravings aren't monopolozing your thoughts throughout the day.

Here's another question: "Why are you allowing yourself to give in to the craving?"
Think of some of the impulses we deal with each and every day. What are you craving that you just do not act upon because it's not socially acceptable? You would just love to plant a big smooch on that new handsome guy at work: Certainly, you aren't going to do it!

You are just dying to smack that gum out of the mouth of your coworker who annoyingly insists on chewing as loud as a cow all day long? Nope, you aren't going to give into that either.

If your friend got a brand new designer purse and you were just aching to take it home and make it your own, would you do it? No. Why not... You want it.

We have desires and impulses every day that we don't give in to. They would feel good in the moment, yet we know there would be consequences so we stop ourselves and turn our thoughts to something else.  What, then, are the consequences of eating chocolate?
Here's a heads up: If you eat a 300 calorie candy bar every day for a month, you'll gain three pounds. Ouch. Keep it up and you're looking at 36 pounds a year. Not gaining weight? This means you are eating the same number of calories your body burns, and on the flip side this means giving up that daily chocolate bar will result in a weight loss of 36 pounds a year. Some consequences, eh?

Why DO you crave chocolate. More importantly, what are you going to do about it?!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Balancing Work At Home, Housework, and Relaxation

I was recently in a coaching class called "Personal Path" in which a particular program helps guide us down the path of life we would like to choose.  There are various aspects of our life discussed, and  we are free to choose an area of focus to affect positive change.  The one that leaped out at me was "decompartmentalizing".

It occured to me that this has been an ongoing issue for me ever since I started working at home nearly two years ago.  It's tough having your office at home for many reasons: First, there's no defined time to "be at work" so you have to be very disciplined in putting down the newspaper and coffee or the dog's toy or the good book.  Second, you are always at home so you see chores that need tending to constantly--it takes a lot of effort to resist just putting in one load of laundry, or just cleaning up the kitchen a bit before heading to your desk.  Of course there are the constant phone interruptions, carpooling needs, and other household necessities that compete with a consistent work period as well.

On the other hand, sometimes there is difficulty in making yourself stop work.  Instead of relaxing with a good magazine after dinner or taking  a walk, you are sometimes coaxed back to the computer by a mysterious force, to touch up an article, re-check your email, or work on your finance and business plan.

It was a difficult balance for me:  I tried establishing "work" times; forcing myself to take breaks; compensating household chore time taken during the day for more work hours in the evening.  Sometimes  relaxation took a back seat for too many days in a row.  The person who works from home can suddenly find themselves either weeks behind in their work, or burned out from constantly working for weeks without appropriate breaks.

What a revelation it was for me to realize that I didn't have to compartmentalize the work, the chores, and and the down time.  They were all me, they were all part of my life.  They all contribute to who I am, what I value, what is important to have in my life, and what makes me happy. 
It doesn't matter whether I am reading a magazine, cooking dinner, or writing a new blog article.  Each of these accomplishments are completed throughout my day as part of my life and my career, and at the end of any given week, they are each part of the sum of what I do that makes this my life. 

Gone was working overtime to compensate for the guilt of enjoying working from home; gone was the guilt for going to a matinee with my husband on a weekday afternoon; gone was trying to schedule which hour I would spend eating lunch and which hour I could spend walking the dog.
I realized I had been negating the very benefits of working for myself.  Those of us who choose to work from home do so for the flexibility it affords.  I can go to a movie in the afternoon (as long as my assignments are completed in time); I can work in the evening if the mood strikes me; and I can throw in a load of laundry while I'm tossing around an idea for my next presentation.

The two weeks since I had this wonderful revelation have been two of the most peaceful weeks I remember having so far this year (except for vacation days for which I decided ahead of time not to work).  My goal for 2010 is to continue to incorporate this mentality into my days.  I envision weeks of calmness, productivity, and a consistently clean home rolling one into the other.  I breathe deeply before deciding I'm going to go read for an hour now . . . because that's what I feel like doing.