Linda Spangle, known throughout the United States as a premier Weight Loss Coach and Emotional Eating Specialist, author of the best selling Life is Hard, Food is Easy, registered nurse with a masters degree in Health Education, has written a significant companion to complement any healthy lifestyle change: 100 Days of Weight Loss–The Secret to Being Successful On Any Diet Plan.
What or who inspired you to write 100 Days of Weight Loss: A Daily Motivator and The Secret To Being Successful On Any Diet Plan?
Linda: As a weight-loss coach, I’ve worked with a couple of thousand individuals, most starting enthusiastically with their diet plans. I noticed that about the third or fourth week, many people fall off the wagon and give up. Some never get past this. My goal is to challenge people further so they can be successful with managing their weight. Too many dieters give up too soon. They need to keep plugging along.
You tell readers at your website — that you were once heavy and lost the same 20 pounds many times. How do you keep it off?
Linda: My core philosophy is that we are an ongoing piece of work. We have to figure out how to manage life so that food is not our solution to everything. Daily awareness is so critical. Many people reach their goal weight, then old habits return, little by little. This happened to me. I had to develop an awareness of when I’m actually hungry and when I’m having an emotional need.
Were you an emotional eater?
Linda: Yes. Very much. I would often find myself grabbing something to eat when I wasn’t hungry. I still struggle with this at times. I was not able to have children, and had three pregnancies miscarry at six months because of a uterine defect. Eating was my way to escape my sadness and disappointment, especially on Mother’s Day. Eventually, I worked with a therapist who told me, “Linda you’re eating instead of crying.” She helped me work through the grief issues that were contributing to lots of non-hungry eating.
What is your eating regimen?
It varies day to day. I generally take a pretty holistic approach to my eating by limiting sweets and white flours. I keep fruit on my counter and try to eat meals and snacks at regular intervals.
What do you do for exercise and relaxation?
I strive to live in a healthy manner and keep exercise in my days. Here’s my 10 minute solution: I tell myself that I’m going to go do something, some type of exercise for 10 minutes. And then I can quit. Or I can stick with it a little longer. And that will be fine, because I’m a success either way!
For relaxation, I play the piano, visualizing the tension flowing out my body and into the piano keys. Other times I walk until I feel better. Simple things are the best.
In 100 Days of Weight Loss, you refer to “heart hunger.” What is it?
Linda: Heart hunger is when you’re having an emotional need caused by an emptiness or a hollowness in life–when you’re sad, lonely, bored, or needing to be nurtured.
You think, “I’ll eat something and feel better.” I encourage people to learn to recognize that cravings for ice cream, pasta, or cinnamon rolls are often related to heart hunger. They need to figure out how to take care of the emotional need instead of eating.
What then is “head hunger?”
Linda: Head hunger is the emotional opposite of heart hunger. It involves stress or anger or frustration…An example is a bad day at the office with the boss. For this you’ll crave something chewy or crunchy like nuts or potato chips, something to chomp on. It’s what you’d actually want to do with someone in life. You’re looking for relief.
Your new book, 100 Days of Weight Loss, incorporates “stop signs.” How are these utilized?
Linda: A stop sign is something you come up with to use as an instant buffer between you and the food.
One of my clients mindlessly ate handfuls of M&M’s after work every day, all the while not wanting to. She created a stop sign by making a list of three things to do when she wanted M&M’s: eat a stick of gum, take a short walk, or take three deep breaths and tell herself, “I am strong.” Then she made a bright red stop sign and taped it to the cupboard door where she kept the M&M’s.
Explain how you coach clients through emotional eating walls.
Linda: I offer a fee-based coaching program by phone and internet. People usually get amazing results by learning how to change their life coping patterns instead of using food as their friend. I also provide training for groups at weight loss centers.
Awareness is the most crucial point for long term success. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry or is this an emotional desire?” Catching this at the beginning is the secret.
Another technique I recommend is placing a sign on the fridge that says, “It’s not in here.” If you’re hungry an hour after dinner, your need is not food. The sign is a reminder, a literal stop sign.
Food itself is wonderful. I truly believe it is possible to love and enjoy it, while still managing one’s weight. How you do this is what makes the difference. Using food in the place of emotional needs is a consolation prize; it’s better than nothing but not even close to what you really wanted, such as to be appreciated, loved, or nurtured.