Apps Which Help


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Since I can’t be with my clients 24/7, I usually suggest a few apps that they can put on their smart phones to use throughout the day. Here are a few of the ones that I suggest (unless otherwise stated, you can find them for both iPhone and Android):

1. Mindshift – an app which is useful for those suffering from anxiety issues. (free)

2. Positive Discipline – for all your parenting needs. This app has a set of cards to help you think through possible parenting solutions. (not free)

3. Relax Melodies – great for when you need a bit of help falling asleep. You can set a timer for the soft sounds which is a bonus. (free)

4. Breathe2Relax – useful for learning to slow down your breathing (free)

5. Depression Check – helps you check the symptomology and whether they are getting better or worse. iPhone only. (free)

6. Depression CBT Self-Help – an Android only app that gives you the CBT tools for depressive symptoms. Android only. (free)

7. Recovery Record – a useful app for those who are in recovery from an eating disorder or who are struggling with disordered eating/emotional eating. (free)

Eating During the Holidays and Beyond

I will start out by stating that I am NOT a nutritionist. But I am an avid researcher who has lost 20 lbs in 2014 and I’m holding steady these past few months.  I would like to share a few resources that helped me out through this year and those that have helped a few of my friends.

One of the biggest worries over the holidays for people, particularly those who are trying to lose weight, is that of weight gain.  And it’s understandable – more sugary treats, more food, more drinks – it’s all out there.  I remember when I was working at a school that every single day someone would bring in baked goods.  While lovely, it was tough on the waistline!  I’m currently facing 3 social outtings this very weekend – one dinner & drinks out on Friday night, a party with my Oxford gang on Saturday afternoon and a late night social evening with my hockey gang.  So, what’s a girl to do?  Here are my suggestions:

1. Find a support.  I belong to two online groups who keep me sane and keep me on track.  The first is MyFitnessPal.  Some people, like me, use it to post their food intake & exercise to keep them on track.  I also have ‘friends’ on there who post their thoughts and support, and I post at times to the forums.  There is a lot of conflicting information on there and MFP (as it’s called) tends to give people much lower calorie levels than people really need.  But it’s good.  The other support is in a group called Eat More 2 Weigh Less.  I wish I had this group when I was younger & dieting.  They support eating at a small deficit (NOT 1200 calories).  I’m even featured in their blogs.

2. Binging is bad.  While binging does have a psychological component, it also tends to have a physical one.  Many people who binge tend to also be restrictive, and so to try to get the calories that their bodies need, a binge desire is created.  Most people think they need to eat 1200 calories to lose weight. WRONG!  Unless you are very much older, very short and sedentary, you probably have to eat well over 1200 calories to just survive if you were in a coma – this is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Mine is around 1377 (found through the Scooby Workshop calculator).  But I am not sedentary – I play with my dog, walk around a lot, do laundry, etc.  Mothers are very much NOT sedentary at all.  So even if I was trying to eat a minimum amount of calories I’d still want to eat more than 1377.  To maintain the weight you are currently at, you want to eat at TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).  I am already reasonably active (so that would put me on the lightly active level) plus I exercise about 5 hrs during field hockey season (minimally) so I get to be at the 5-7 hrs level which allows me to eat around 2350 calories to maintain.  If I were to want to lose more weight, I’d go with TDEE minus 10% (as I’m at a very healthy weight) and I’d never suggest eating below 15% from TDEE.

3. Make a plan and use portion control.  When I go out (such as I will do on Friday), I plan my eating for the day and allow for a larger calorie allowance for the meal out.  I also may under-eat a touch the day before or day after (about 200 or so calories).  Because I’m not at a high deficit, this is easy to do.  But for Thanksgiving and for Christmas, I just don’t care – I eat what I want in moderation.  BUT I don’t pig out.  I enjoy all the tastes but take small portions.  If I eat out, I eat half of what’s on my plate.

4. I don’t eat things that bring me joy.  Just because something is there in front of me doesn’t mean I should eat it.  I’m not a huge sweets eater but I used to eat them to be polite.  Now, I tend to have a bite and then let it go. Or I say ‘no thank you, it’s not for me’.  Cheese, now that’s a different story – bring it on!  I don’t let other guilt me – it’s MY BODY, MY CHOICE.

5. Forgiveness.  I don’t beat myself up or give up if I don’t do it “right”.  This is a journey not a sprint.  I’m going to be eating food for the rest of my life, so it can’t be an enemy.  I have not yet given up any foods even while losing weight.  I don’t see the point as I won’t give up carbs or fat or sugar for the rest of my life.  Cooking & baking brings me joy so why would I want to stop that?  So, when I overeat something because it tasted amazing or I have a glass of wine too many because I was being social, I pick myself up the next day and carry on.  And try to figure out if I could do something different in the future. And sometimes, I don’t want to.  Sometimes it’s worth it.

Here’s a few helpful worksheets to use if need be:

Food diary (with space for unhelpful thoughts)

Cravings diary

If you feel like you need more, or want further resources, please do get in touch!

Handling the Holidays

The holidays can be rough.  There are heightened expectations, interactions with family members in closed quarters and the monetary concerns.  For expats or those living a flight or more away, it can bring on feelings of guilt for either not wanting to head back “home” for the holidays or feelings of sadness that you can’t make it home due to work or financial constraints.  And then there’s the multiple families issue – who do spend Christmas morning with? For some families there can be a ton of different people all pressuring you to spend it with them.

How can you handle all of this stress? How do you make it through the holidays with your mental health intact?  There’s a few things you can do:

1. Make sure you have a bit of ‘me time’. Even if you have a lot of relatives and friends all around you, and you love spending time with them, you’ll still need a bit of alone time to recharge.  Hand off the kids, decline a lunch gathering or do whatever it takes to get away for a moment.  Have some quiet, even if it’s only in a bubble bath or going for a walk in the woods (heck, I can find peace in the middle of London sometimes).

2. Keep your expectations at a minimum.  Now’s not the time to think that this year is going to be “perfect”.  As you can only control your own actions and thoughts, this means that things will go wrong.  Find humour in the out of control stupidity that happens.  Dropped your turkey? Give it a wash, put it back in the oven for a bit and then carry on. Forgot to bring the wine to your in-laws? See if you can make a special cocktail out of what they have.

3. If things go very badly, walk away.  You don’t have to put up with meanness or bullying by your relatives.  You deserve better.  If someone says something offensive, feel free to say “Why would you say such a thing?” and then walk away.  If it continues, then leave the house.  YOU are not ruining the holiday – you are taking care of yourself.

4. Find ways of relaxing within a crowd.  As an introvert, I have learned how to relax within very crowded and overwhelming situations.  I can do deep breathing, short visualisations, muscle tensions exercises, etc, without anyone even knowing.

5. Have an outlet.  Call a friend, write on a forum, talk to your priest or write to me. But find a way to vent your frustrations so you don’t take them out on your nearest and dearest.

There are many ways to handle holiday stress.  The above are just a few.  If you have any you use that you think might be helpful to others, please do share!