Author Leanne Ely Talks About How to Get Rid of "Body Clutter," Part II

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - 4:51pm

By Donna Feldman, MS, RD

Do you think that people who are reading Body Clutter are using The Body Clutter Control Journal and Body Clutter Menu Mailer together as a package?

I think when they use everything together as a package they're going to be more successful.  It's really frightening how many people have absolutely no clue on how to eat. 

I would say your book definitely is aimed towards the concept of losing weight and getting healthy.  I am not sure if you would put one of those above the other. You are in favor of people lowering their weight, if they are overweight.  Is that correct?

Of course.  But you need to start where you are.  For a lot of very heavy women, or even not-so-heavy women, because I had women with only ten pounds to lose who absolutely beat themselves up. The starting place for anybody has got to be total acceptance and love of yourself, right now where you are regardless of the size of your jeans. Accepting doesn't mean settling. Accepting means knowing who you are. When I am dead and gone, I want people to remember me as a good friend, a good mother, somebody with character, integrity, not what color lipstick I had wore, and not what the size of my jeans are.  It's not just about my appearance, or my health. It's also about who I am.  If you accept who you are, and love who you are, and then start taking care of this person, you will start to get healthier. And, the happy consequence is that you will lose the body clutter.  If we can get the focus off of the weight loss, and on to loving ourselves enough to take care of ourselves, you lose the weight.

I know you don't recommend particular weights for people.  The book doesn't have charts.  Do you have a personal goal of some kind?

Of course; I absolutely have personal goals, but for me you know I don't do the BMI thing.  I do a fat measurement. I work out with the trainer three times a week.  I run, I do all kinds of stuff.  I have a thyroid condition.  For me to keep my weight down is an ongoing project.  I have to exercise.  There are just no ifs, ands or buts about it.  Exercise is part of the program.  I'd prefer that it was all diet.  I want to sit on my can, just like everybody else, but I just can't.  I know exactly what I have to do.

You emphasize fiber foods and low-carbohydrate foods, which is very good.  Do you want to address your low carbohydrate definition?

My low carbohydrate definition is to watch the starches.  I think breads and pastas are something that cause a lot of belly fat.  Apple shaped people have a tendency to eat more starches.  And, they are not your best friend.  Most women have to watch that stuff.  It's almost like eating a doughnut.  What is pasta anyway?  It's white flour and water, maybe some egg.  So, when I say a little carbohydrate, it's watching that stuff, even watching the starchy vegetables and having more emphasis on leafy green vegetables and lean proteins.  I will eat oatmeal in the morning. Maybe I will have something like a whole grain bread or roll at lunch with a salad. And then, at dinner, I won't look at a carbohydrate. I'll have broccoli and fish.  The reason I do this is because I roll around on it all night, and I know what makes me tick. That too is the emphasis in the book, finding your own inner nutritional guru.  One size does not fit all.  We are all different. We all know what makes us feel better. There are people who do really well on a vegetarian diet. I am not one of them.  I am protein driven.  Again, it's individual.

So in other words, you would define it as low simple carbohydrate.

Eliminate simple carbohydrates as best as you can.  They don't do anybody's body any favors.  Good whole grain bread, that's one thing.  Still go easy on that.  You remember the old food pyramid with nine to eleven servings of grain, that's ridiculous.  Think about it for a minute.  If you want to fatten up a cow to slaughter, what do you do?  You put him in a pen, and feed him grain. and that's what we do.  We sit there, and we eat carbohydrates and sit on the couch, and we get fat just like a cow.

In terms of the "baby steps," there is a discussion that goes Okay, if you drink 5 soda pops a day; your first step is to cut down on one. In my experience some people can do that, but some people just have to go cold turkey. Any thoughts on that?

Well, I agree. I think it's knowing yourself and knowing how you operate.  The thing that bothers me is that we give these blind recommendations for everybody and say well, you should be able to have that little treat.  For some people, that's like giving them permission to binge.  So, again can you do just a little bit, or can you do a lot of it?  You have to know yourself to be able to know how to go forward in those kinds of situations.

I know you talk a lot about weighing and daily weighing. Some diet plans don't recommend daily weighing, because of that frustrating daily fluctuation that has nothing to do with fat weight. Any thoughts on that from your point of view?

There are several books out there that recommend weighing everyday.  It's not so that you freak out and get depressed because you gained two pounds in one day.  It's so that you can go back and say okay, I gained two pounds overnight; what's going on here? Take a look at your food journal, take a look at your cycle. Maybe you didn't exercise that day.  Maybe you didn't drink enough water.  I think that daily routine of weighing helps you to see and to understand, so that you have an awareness of how much you weigh, and you are going to take care of this body that you are putting on the scale.  It's about awareness.  It's not that you can beat yourself up with the numbers.

Do you food journal still?

Absolutely. As a matter of fact I have it sitting here on my desk.  It helps me to stay honest.  If we don't take care of ourselves and eat regularly, then we are setting ourselves up to overeat later. And, we have to keep training ourselves on that.  Sometimes I let go off my food journal, but I always notice that I have gained a little bit, so I go right back to it.

I would not call Body Clutter the typical diet book. Was it your intent to write it the way it came out? Or were you looking at more of the recipe, and menu, and nutrition and food discussion?

No, it was our intent that it come out this way because it's the story of our journey. It came out just the way we wanted it to.

You do have several different types of menus in the Body Clutter Menu-Mailer; I know you look at vegetarian a little bit; low-carb of course...

Yes.  The Body Clutter Menu-Mailers are all subscription menus that you can buy.  Every week you get your menu and it has just dinner recipes.  It's all about getting dinner on the table.  The Body Clutter Menu Mailer has breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes as well as two snacks and food recommendations, so you can keep your calories right at about sixteen hundred calories. That's what your average woman needs to lose two pounds safely a week: 30% fat, as the American Heart Association recommends. We try to keep it pretty middle-of-the-road, no real recommendations.  But, at dinner time, I am insisting that we do the Low Carbohydrates Menu-Mailer.

Now, in terms of the baby steps, you didn't just bring that up in this book?

No, what we have done is used the FlyLady system to lose weight with baby steps, and baby steps become routine. Our routine is several baby steps in a row.  You do the same thing everyday, rather than making it this all-or-nothing kind of thing, and then abandon ship within four to seven days.  We decided just to add one little habit at a time, just start with one thing, start with having breakfast.

You just mentioned breakfast, and then there is exercise and so on.  Which stands out for you as being the most important to address in the beginning of the process?

I think having breakfast.  Having a good healthy breakfast, drinking water, and eating several small meals throughout the day really makes a big difference.

Do you ever find that people get thrown off by unusual events?  For example if they travel, or during the holidays, the process gets seriously sidetracked.

Of course, for us too.  When it comes to Thanksgiving, I am not going to do what I normally do on that day.  I am going to absolutely do the same things that I have done every Thanksgiving for the past eighteen years, and then the next day get right back on track.  So, I don't believe in it when people ask me for a low-carbohydrate Thanksgiving, and I am like no way.

Yes, and we always see that in the papers in early November.

I think it's lame.  And here they are taking pig rinds and grinding them up to make a stuffing, and I am just gagging.  I am sorry no, don't do that

Can you sum up how you defined "body clutter"-the thought process that's between your ears that is causing the extra weight to show up, or keeping it there?

"Body clutter" is the negative thoughts that we have about ourselves, that manifest themselves by us not taking care of ourselves, and not loving ourselves, and feeling pretty rotten about who we are.  It shows in a lot of different ways, and one major way that we all know about is what we are sitting on.  But, the other way that it shows up is by the inattentive ways in which we don't take care of ourselves.  We don't feed ourselves regular meals.   A lot of times women don't dress nice.  They feel like not until I lose weight do I deserve to look nice.  It's a matter of retraining the thinking that you are worth taking care of right now, today.  Don't beat yourself up another minute, because you haven't attained your ideal body weight. We have a radio show on Thursdays, and this poor woman called.  She was ten pounds over her ideal weight, and she felt like she was as big as a house.  She wouldn't buy herself new clothes. She would wear her husband's sweat pants, and she would schlep around the house, and finally she started finding herself wearing these huge T-shirts when she went to the grocery store, and she completely lost respect for herself over ten pounds.  Women do this from ten pounds to five pounds to fifty pounds or hundred pounds. 

Whatever it is, we say get up, get yourself showered, get yourself fixed, put on a little make-up, dress nicely, eat well, drink a little water, exercise, and move your body.  You put this all together, and all of a sudden you realize, I have loved myself.  I care enough about myself, that I am going to take care of myself.  Women as a rule don't take care of themselves the way they need to.  The reason that they don't is because they are too busy taking care of everybody else. I am just as guilty as the next person.  I call my thirties the martyr years, because I looked scary.  I was way overweight, I wore these ugly big baggy jumpers from Wal-Mart, grew my hair, didn't wear any make-up.  Here it is ten years later, and I look like I am twenty years younger than what I looked like in my thirties.  So, the difference is that I am taking care of myself now.  I started to take care of teenagers, and guess what.  What I found was there is room to take care of myself.  First it gives me more room to take care of everybody else.  Now, it's like when you are on an airplane, and they are explaining when the oxygen mask drops, put it on yourself first so you could help the guy next to you.