52: 15 Things to Do to Not “Feel Fat”
Monday August 10, 2015

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The Simple Sophisticate, episode #52

As with everything in life, our weight is a fluid and ever dynamic number. And because of this reality, which if we could be objective about it, is a very good thing. It means we have more control over our weight, health and livelihood than we sometimes realize. However, it just so happens that when we forget about this fact, and take our healthy self for granted for too long, we can begin to feel not our best selves.

During this past spring, there have been a lot of changes and new experiences in my life, from book signings, to traveling to new destinations around the country, working with a contractor, selling my house, finding and acquiring a new job and moving to a new town. And as diligently as I tried, the stress and reduction of my usual routine took me out of my healthy routine as well.

I began to feel “fat”.

The reason I use this statement is because that is often the phrase uttered, but was I fat, were any of us fat when we use this turn of phrase? No. What, at least in my case, and from those I have been in the presence of when they say such a phrase, is that we don’t feel our best selves. In other words, we know we can feel better in our bodies and between the food we choose to eat and the fitness routine that isn’t working or we aren’t adhering, we aren’t doing our best and we recognize that we need to adjust something.

Living simply luxuriously has never advocated for dieting as Americans use the term (elimination, odd combination and anything that we wouldn’t continue to do once the weight was lost). My approach to eating, as talked about on the blog, in the book and as you can see in my recipes, is that moderation is key, forget deprivation and most importantly, eat real food. The key approach to eating well and thus looking and most importantly feeling our best when it comes to our health was talked about in episode 8 of the podcast, as well as here and here.

Today what I’d like to talk about is when you haven’t even stepped on the scale, but you know, whether it is due to life circumstance or letting go of good habits, you’ve gained a few unwanted pounds that leave you not feeling your best. This feeling can be remedied rather quickly, but not overnight. Most importantly, if you are someone who pays attention to how you feel in your clothes, listens to their body and recognizes when it is energized or quite the opposite, you will most likely catch yourself slipping before anything gets too far gone.

Let me share with you today 15 ways to eradicate the “fat” feeling, as tried and tested most recently and in the past with successful results, myself.

1. Be honest with yourself

2. Set limits

3. Eat vegetables in at least two meals each day

Aside from the major benefit derived from vegetables such as staving off chronic diseases (heart disease being a prime example), eating vegetables provides your body with valuable nutrients: potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamins A, E and C. As noted by the Dairy Council of California, broccoli, spinach, garlic and tomatoes are even more impressive, as they are coined super foods due to their additional benefits. And when our bodies have the nutrients they need, the metabolism keeps roaring at optimal speed, and here’s the rub, when it doesn’t have the proper nutrients, it . . . . slows . . . . down.

4. Eat lean proteins once or twice a day 

Proteins have a high thermogenic effect. In other words, 30% of the calories the food contains are burned during digestion. Um, if that’s not motivation to eat more protein, I am not sure what else I can pull out of the rabbit’s hat. No, but seriously, make it a habit to have one source of protein in at least one, preferably two meals each day. The lean protein options are endless whether you are a vegetarian or vegan or not.

Here is a list of vegetarian/vegan options:

  • quinoa
  • buckwheat
  • soy
  • chia
  • rice (choose brown or whole grain)
  • beans
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, and click here for a detailed list of the best options for nuts as protein)

Preferred protein options for those of us who eat meat:

  • chicken
  • mahi mahi tuna
  • pork tenderloin
  • turkey
  • eye of a round steak (one of the leanest cuts of beef)
  • scallops
  • shrimp
  • tuna
  • salmon (wild caught, Alaska or freshwater Coho from U.S.)
  • oysters
  • trout

5. Give eating your full attention

Be mindful of what you’re eating and what you’re doing while your eating. If you’re driving, watching television or attending a concert, you most likely not truly enjoying or appreciating your food. And when you are mindful, you know if it tastes good or if you should not take another bite.

6. Reassess your workout schedule, make it fun again

Even with the best intentions and with responsibilities we love, the workout routine can be short-changed; however, this should immediately be reconsidered as we talked about on August 1st.

7. Select calorie-free drinks (water, tea, coffee)

Green tea especially is a wonderful option to sip throughout the day (hot or cold). A recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking four cups of green tea a day for eight weeks reduced participant’s weight by six pounds.

8. Reduce consumption of simple carbohydrates

So long as it is real food, everything in moderation. So begin to eat less of milk products and anything made with sugar: candy, sweet desserts, pastries, etc.

9. Have a salad a day

Spinach is my go-to salad of choice as it is a superfood  As an anti-inflammatory and having been found to reduce the potential for cancer, as well as be a strong source of iron, I say why not choose a leafy green that packs a multi-powerful punch. I then toss it with my homemade vinaigrette, but there are many recipes for vinaigrettes that suit your taste. However, there are many different options and most grocery stores carry a wonderful selection. Arugula is my second favorite for it’s peppery flavor.

10. Don’t forget the strength exercises

Be sure to include 1-3 days of strength training in your weekly workout routine. As we’re trying to jumpstart our metabolism, when we hit the weights or use our bodies as the weight, our bodies continue to burn calories long after we’re done in the gym or off the mat in our homes. As discussed in this post and this post, you don’t have to have a gym membership to keep your body strong. I simply follow a basic strength routine and perform it in my living room on my yoga mat two days a week.

11. Eat whole grains

Start to reduce the pasta, but if you have to have a bowl of your favorite, choose whole grain options instead. In the morning choose oatmeal or steel oats (my favorite) and brown rice for dinner. Why? The body burns twice as many calories breaking down whole foods.

12. The Take Out Rule

Take out is absolutely fine. I’m not about to bash on it, as there are many healthy options that tie nicely into today’s list, but once you bring it home, do something very simple: use proper dishes and silverware. Why? First of all, so you can see the portion size you are going to eat and then save the rest for lunch or dinner tomorrow, but also, to slow down the eating. How to do that?

13. Eat “European style” or with the opposite hand

A couple of years ago I began eating with a fork and a knife, and what I have found is that eat slower. Initially, yes, it was because I was horrible at it, but even now, as I’m more comfortable with it, I found myself eating smaller bites and slowing down my eating time instead of shoveling in the food. If that is not appealing, try eating with the opposite hand to slow down your consumption. (Note: Why “European style”? One of my dear friends used the phrase, and it made me smile. Whether that is its proper term, please let me know.)

14. Add heat

If you have a predilection for hot food, you are in luck. Capsaicin, the compound found in red peppers and many other hot food items, heats up the body which melts extra calories. So, opt for the hot mustard, the hot sauce or the tried and true hot peppers. Your waist line will thank you.

15. A restful night’s sleep

Part of my issue was a shortage of sleep. Especially when I was traveling so frequently, but also when my mind was racing with all of the changes that were taking place, it was hard to get my needed 7-9 hours of sleep. Keep in mind, when we’re awake, our body needs energy, so it will want its food. But when it rests, it is not only detoxifying itself, but also not in need of calories to rev it up and keep it going.

Quickly, before wrapping up, while the above our 15 things to DO, I want to share four things NOT TO DO when you “feel fat”.

1. Obsess

I began with this one because it can be easy to become obsessed with our weight. The culture, if we don’t control have a handle on what we’re exposed to, can make us believe we are only our outer shells. Intrinsically, we may know that we are not, but we are rewarded for letting our mind be swayed. Rather put into place habits and routines that will yield healthy dividends. In other words, design a healthy lifestyle gradually you will see results. Obsessing and fretting every minute will not make it occur any quicker, and it will ruin the present moment. Put your plan into play and then get out of the way.

2. Whine to your friends and family

While we do need our social support system, and we may want to share with them that we are going to be watching our eating and workout habits, make such a statement to garner support, not pity. If you sit down to enjoy a meal, at the end of it, don’t whine about how much you ate. While it may help you in some odd way to say it out loud, you may be ruining the experience for those you are dining with.

3. Forget about what is important

Once you have put into place the steps needed to get your weight back on track, it is easy to stick to them when you direct your attention elsewhere. What do I mean by this statement? Focus on what needs your attention and get lost in your job, your daily schedule, your family, your friends, your goals. Before you know it, you will be feeling great in your skin.

4. Forget how fortunate you are to have food to eat and options to exercise

The frustrating part about gaining a few pounds is that we stopped paying attention to what we’ve been putting in our mouths as well as how much we move our bodies. The good news is we have endless options of food to eat if you live in any of the many countries with a rich food supply and dually, endless ways to exercise. Start with the simple basics of what we are afforded, and it will help put this “feeling fat” into perspective.

Many people may label the feeling we’re discussing today as a #firstworldproblem, but I would argue that without a healthy body, we can’t have a healthy mind, and without a healthy mind we cannot live our best lives. It’s a domino effect, and it starts with a realization that can be quickly remedied. And if we’re able to quickly remedy that we aren’t at our best, it is a good sign that we are living in the present, that we are paying attention to our body and recognizing that we have much to give the world and are much better able to do this when we are able to perform at our best. Tend to the 15 tips, allow them to become habits, routines, and then forget about your weight. In a couple of weeks or a couple of months, you will slip into a pair of your favorite jeans or that beloved dress and see that it fits exactly as it should.


~Why Not . . . Lose Those Last 10 Pounds?

~Why Not . . . Keep It Simple in the Kitchen?

~Why Not . . . Feed the Body Well?

And for all of the Health/Beauty/Fitness posts, click here.

Petit Plaisir:

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee


What Would Jean Louise Do?

“I’ve killed you, Scout. I had to.” And perhaps Atticus needed to be killed as well, at least the Atticus that young Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird imagined and described and therefore, we as readers came to adore as well.

As Sam Sacks of The Wall Street Journal reminds in his review of the novel, Atticus as revealed in Watchman having “provincial convictions and bigotries actually make him a truer, more representative figure”. But as many readers and those adoring Atticus fans who have professed they will not read the novel as to not ruin their idealized idea of what a respected lawyer’s purpose can and should be, and what a person’s good deeds can do, lose sight of is the reality.

Abraham Lincoln by our standards today as stated by many revered historians describe his commentary, his own words and certain beliefs at the time racist, but does that require us then to either dismiss the actions put into place that gradually, albeit tortuously slowly, lead to a stronger, more unified, yet diverse nation, or does it gives us a truer picture of a human mirroring the time he was in, yet making decisions that would allow the baton to be passed on to others who would bring it ever closer to the finish line?

Atticus, based on the climate of our modern United States, cannot be applauded for his belief of viewing black citizens as “backward people”, and Jean Louise rightly points out his hypocrisy. Her felt betrayal perhaps mirroring our own, is palpable in their chapter long row that while having gaps and revealing itself ignorant for the time it was written before the Civil Rights Movement unfolded fully, depicts something that To Kill A Mockingbird never contained – Scout standing on her own two feet and having the confidence to stand alone with what she knew to be right and true without seeking the approval of her father.

One of the many lessons Atticus teaches Scout in TKAM is to stand in someone else’s shoes in order to understand them. While readers are never allowed to stand directly in Atticus’ shoes as Watchman is told in third person, Jean Louise finally sees Maycomb as it truly is and therefore as her father exists within it. She is now thinking for herself, having cut the apron strings when she chose to go to New York City. Nelle Harper Lee herself having done the same when she refrained from becoming a lawyer at her father Amasa Coleman Lee’s urging, lost her father’s financial support and confidence, and many biographers state that TKAM and the depiction of Atticus was an homage to her father or maybe a statement of defiant success.

Why Atticus became the figure he did in TKAM from the first draft we are now all confounded by today is something we will never know for certain, but the publisher wished to sell books and they knew their audience, what the country needed, or what the majority of the country wanted (remember it was published in 1960) was not someone as we would have expected to have existed in the south such as the Atticus we have recently been introduced to. But instead, with the final draft of TKAM they gave the country what they thought it wanted – hope. As Jean Louise points out to her father in chapter 17 of Watchman, “You deny them hope. Any man in this world, Atticus, any man who has a head and arms and legs, was born with hope in his heart.” And perhaps the publisher knew this. Would it have sold as many copies as it has and earned the Pulitzer? I would garner to say no for exactly the reasons the publisher edited and encouraged her to write it as they did.

The personal lesson, aside from the racist tensions that fuel the frustrations with once beloved characters is the relationship between child and parent. Atticus still did raise Scout to become the Jean Louise that ventures off and explores the world eventually returning to realize her sweetheart Henry Clinton and her father view and therefore live in the world in complete contrary ways than she. He never apologies for the upbringing he provided even though she seems to want his concession in their bellicose argument because it is her upbringing that allows her to stand strong in her convictions.

Uncle Jack, who is much more developed as a character in Watchman, acts as Jean Louise’s voice of interpretation of Atticus points out what we are all guilty of when it comes to Atticus, “fasten[ing our conscience] like a barnacle onto your father’s [conscience].” He points out to her that, “As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings . . . you were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming that your answers would be his answers.”

Not everyone evolves into thinking for themselves, rather to be safe many hang onto what a religion, a community, a parental figure or mentor has modeled and instructed. Even Jean Louise points out that she thought after her undergraduate studies that she had evolved as she should successfully making this break (which seems to be when the third person of TKAM takes place), but it wasn’t until she returned to Maycomb at the age of 26 when she truly detaches herself from her father. The second part of the equation that is necessary for both parties to move forward is to do what Atticus does, allows her to separate herself and still remains in a loving relationship with her. It must be pointed out that as she storms off after their now much discussed argument, he says “I love you.”

And while Atticus, who lives by the law and defends it to its teeth (in Watchman Tom Robinson was acquitted), he is unable to do what Martin Luther King Jr. states in “The Letter from the Birmingham Jail” we all must do with unjust laws, “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” Perhaps Jean Louise takes the baton where Atticus leaves off.

Nelle Harper Lee may have never meant for Go Set a Watchman to be read by the millions it has been this summer, but she reassured this fan why I adore Scout all the more. Perhaps Scout, or rather should I now say Jean Louise, will become the Atticus we much adored. And from now on instead of asking the question “What would Atticus do?”, we should inquire “What would Jean Louise do?”


Image credit: Total Shape

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8 thoughts on “52: 15 Things to Do to Not “Feel Fat”

  1. Thank you Shannon – as always, such a timely post. I too have let a few (ok, quite a few) unwanted pounds creep up back on in the last few months and am now in the process of getting my health back on track. It’s hard not to let the frustration and negative feelings get to you during this time and your post has provided me with the inspiration and motivation that I need! Many thanks 🙂

  2. I’ll never read Go Set a Watchman. Not because of the changes in Atticus (It is a rough draft, after all.), but because it’s a gross exploitation of an elderly woman with diminished mental capacity. I won’t support that.

  3. Lovely advice, Shannon! It’s amazing how much we Americans tend to obsess over our weight and talk about it compared to Europeans. I have found that eating slowly and without distraction, in addition to the classic principles of moderation, eating mostly home-cooked, and daily walks have really helped me maintained a healthy lifestyle. I think it’s always about finding a balance. Also, I can’t emphasize the importance of mental health and lack of stress as key factors to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. My nightly meditation includes light yoga and Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth”…completely changed my life for the better! 🙂

  4. Hi Shannon,

    First, I am a big fan of your app and your podcasts. Thank you for your inspiring words.

    As a family physician listening to this podcast while on my morning jog, I felt an urge to add in a few of my best words of health advice when it comes to this topic:

    1. I often tell my patients that if you pay attention to anything when it comes to your diet, it should be sugar. Don’t worry about carbs, calories, fat, cholesterol, or any of the other fad diets. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit sugar intake to about 6 teaspoons (20-30 grams) daily, and men about 9 teaspoons (36-45 grams) daily. The point of this advice is that even though foods may come with advertisements of whole grains and low fat, there may be tons of sugar in it. For example, a Kellogg’s Strawberry Nutrigrain bar (something most patients might view as a healthy breakfast) has 11 grams of sugar in it, which is about half of the recommended intake for women. This is a problem if you are also regularly having a soda with lunch or a bowl of ice cream before bedtime. Sugar has not only energy consequences (being stored as fat if not used), but also hormonal consequences such as insulin resistance and diabetes, as well as being very addictive (so come off of it slowly). Following this advice ultimately leads patients toward fresh foods and away from processed foods.

    2. Posture, posture, posture. Slouching automatically makes you feel fat. So tilt that pelvis in, contract those abdominal muscles a little, relax the shoulders back, and tilt the chin up.

    Thank you again!

  5. Such a lovely podcast that is really about being kind and gentle with yourself. I recently started researching and implementing intuitive eating and still often go down the untrue rabbit hole of ‘feeling fat’. This will be a great resource to come back to so thanks!

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