Friday, July 31, 2009

Hunger/Fullness scale -- last one for now -- I promise

So...the magic number 7.

Yesterday, I said that 7 is the trickiest but possibly the most useful number on the scale. Here is why...

When you are physically hungry and start to eat, there is a space in time when you have eaten enough calories that the physical hunger is gone but you have no sense of fullness.

A good example of this is if you have ever run home to pick up the kids before heading out to some kind of kid activity and grabbed an apple off the counter. Before you start eating, you are at a level 3. You eat the apple (one of the smaller apples not the ones the size as your head)and when you are done, you are no longer hungry -- but you have no sense of fullness either. The reason you stopped eating was probably because the apple was gone -- had there been more, chances are you would have eaten more. But there wasn't, so you didn't.

Maybe you haven't ever paid attention to what that feels like but trust me -- it is possible, as you are eating a meal, to notice that you are no longer physically hungry and not full either.

The reason it is helpful to recognize a 7 is that if you are eating something that has no value to you (for me, an example is boxed mac and cheese -- gross but it takes care of the hunger). I do not want to spend my precious, hard-earned calories on boxed mac and cheese -- sometimes, it is necessary to eat it (if the kids cook it)to get rid of the hunger -- but I don't want to fill up on it!

Recognizing when hunger is gone, gives you one more opportunity to stop eating if the goal is just to get rid of the hunger.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hunger/Fullness Scale continued

The last couple posts, we have been talking about the Hunger/Fullness Scale. We have covered both ends but how about the middle?

One of the questions I get asked ALOT is, "Do you expect me to only eat when I am hungry?"

NO! In our culture, there are any number of reasons to eat -- one of them is for the physical body but a great many of them social (think birthday parties, wakes, business lunches, graduation parties... Not to mention because you are happy, sad, stressed, angry -- need I say more?)

What I am asking you to do is be able to accurately label your experience. Be able to understand why you are about to do what you are about to do. That way, if you want to make a change -- you are working with all of the available information.

So...the middle of the scale.

4 5 6 Trigger Eating
Eating for any reason other than physical hunger

I use these three numbers all as one (456 instead of 4,5,6)

Trigger eating is eating for any reason other than physical hunger. (Bored, sad, etc but also because it is noon and that is lunch time even though you aren't really hungry, the piece of pie your neighbor offers when you go over to visit, the obligatory appetizer when you are out with friends)

Sometimes, clients get a little nervous about "admitting" to a 456. There is nothing wrong with eating for reasons other than hunger!! What I am asking you to do is understand this is your behavior -- learn to differentiate trigger eating from physical hunger.

The last number on the scale is a level 7. It is the trickiest but possibly the most useful number on the whole scale. More on the virtues of the 7 tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hunger/Fullness scale continued

Yesterday, we talked about the fullness side of the Hunger/Fullness Scale. But what if you are the person who never really gets full and is constantly snacking?

Let's look at the hunger side of the equation.

0 Extremely Hungry
Physically sick, nauseous from not eating

1 Very Hungry
Need to eat is very strong, may be light headed

2 Hungry
Sense of emptiness or hollowness in stomach

3 Physically Hungry
The first sensations of physical hunger but you are in charge and can start planning what you are going to eat

The most important thing to remember is that we are talking about physical hunger. If you ask yourself if you are physically hungry and you have to stop to think about it -- you probably aren't! Physical hunger is like a light switch -- you either are or you aren't -- there isn't a kind of.

Often, I have started coaching a client only to have had them call me a few days in and tell me they didn't realize they haven't felt physical hunger in years. With all of the available food around all of the time, many clients never wait to eat until they are physically hungry.

The goal I set for a client is to start making a plan for what they are going to eat and how full they they want to feel when they reach a level 3. At a 3, you are still very much in charge of your ability to make positive decisions for yourself. You could still safely make it through the grocery store checkout line without adding a couple candy bars into the cart ("Don't put those into the bag, please -- I will just put them here in my purse")

If you don't eat when you started to feel the first sensations of hunger, your hunger will become more intense over time. (this differs from cravings -- more on that in a later post). Once you start getting into the level 2 and 1, your ability to make decisions on what and how much to eat diminishes. You run the risk of getting so hungry that you get more full than you intended to.

Tomorrow, we will cover the center of the scale (456).

Hunger/Fullness Scale

Yesterday, I talked about not getting uncomfortably full -- ever. Simple enough in concept. How are you going to make that happen in practice?

One easy way to start this process it to understand how to use a hunger/fullness scale (think a 0-10 scale -- hunger 0-3 and fullness 8-10). For the sake of a starting point, let's start on the fullness side.

8 Full
You feel the first sensations of fullness
Anytime you have any sensation of anything in your stomach you are at least an 8

9 Very Full
Your stomach is starting to stretch

10 Extremely Full
There is a large enough volume to cause the stomach to feel significantly stretched

One of the ways to think about fullness is to visualize a balloon.

When you have gotten the balloon out of the package and put the first small breath of air into it and it has started to take shape, that is a level 8. The sides of the balloon haven't started to stretch but there is something in there.

After you put another small breath of air into the balloon, the walls will start to stretch -- when the stretch happens, that is the level 9.

With the next small breath of air, the balloon will be an entirely different size than it started out -- this is the level 10.

At a level 8, chances are you will still feel like you should/could/want to eat more. But the thing to keep in mind is the physical sensation of hunger is gone. Eating after that point is just for your head -- your body is taken care of.

The advantage of having scale numbers to write down in your journal is that you can't argue with them. If your goal at the beginning of the meal is to eat until you reach a level 8 -- you can eat to that level and then stop. If you are relying words to describe how full you are, there is some wiggle room for the extra bite (or 3)that your head wants to experience.

And remember:

The whole point of being Mindful in your eating, is to cut out a few bites so you can lose weight while still enjoying the foods you love.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Simple is different than Easy

How about this for a thought:

Losing weight is simple. Simple is different than easy.

Have you been taught it should be easy? But you know it's not -- if it was easy, we wouldn't be having these discussions. If we knew it was simple, we (the U.S.) wouldn't be spending $54 billion on diet "stuff" (food, books, gimmicks) this year.

The simple solution?

Start listening to your body. Don't get uncomfortably full -- ever. Even when something is tasting great -- stop eating sooner than you do now. You don't have to do it perfectly -- you just have to do it consistently. This isn't easy to learn -- but what is the alternative? Spending more money on complicated systems that don't work over the long-term? Losing weight on a specific diet and then gaining it all back over the next two years? That is not a solution.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why do we eat 3 meals a day??

I received an email from my friend J. He writes:

So why do we eat three times a day? Over the last couple of weeks I have been eating just when I am hungry and I have found more often than not this is about once a day, (does not include coffee and water) at most twice but almost never three times. Sometimes its breakfast, yesterday it was a very nice lunch.

So why do we eat three times a day? Do we need it? Are we just programmed to do it? Is there any benefit to it? I have read studies about the fact that people who eat breakfast are usually thinner but perhaps this is because they don’t gorge themselves at lunch.

Great questions all -- to which I answer:

Eating 3 times a day is a social construct.

From a blood sugar perspective, we would all do well to eat 6 small meals per day -- this will have the effect of stabilizing our blood sugar and insulin release so it is more like rolling hills than the Rockies.

As for being hungry -- maybe your are more hungry than you realize but just don't notice it during the day while you are busy doing other things. Or... you are not workouting out as much (burning as many calories) as you have in the past and your body doesn't send hunger signals because you do not need the calorie intake.

Eating one or two meals a day is kind of a misrepresentation on how much food you are taking in. If you are having a fairly calorie dense meal (think pasta, alfredo, bread and oil, etc) you are obviously going to take in a greater number of calories in a given amount of time than if you were eating a dinner salad (lettuce, tomato, and cucumber -- no dressing) in the same amount of time. Therefore, it depends on what you are eating.

From eating with you in the past, I think I am fairly safe in saying that you do not spend that much time debating on what you "should" be eating and doing battle with yourself about how that stacks up against what you want to eat. You eat whatever you decide -- on to a level of fullness you find acceptable -- and then you move on.

Coffee acts as a mild appetite supressant and when you add the cream, those are the calories that get you started in the morning. The other consideration is any soda, beer or wine will have calories. Calories are what your body is really after -- doesn't really matter, from a hunger perspective, where they come from.

Lastly, you mentioned the studies about people who eat breakfast losing more weight or being able to manage their weight more effectively. You hit it right on the head with the thought that it is about the decisions people make when they are very hungry. If a person gets very hungry, they tend to overconsume when they do finally eat.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why is more better than one?

The other day I was having a discussion with a client. He was relaying the story of his visit to friend’s house and how the friend pulled out a huge tub of cookies and exclaimed his guests “just had to try one!”. The guests (my client) ate one and it was unbelievably good. So…after the guests had eaten their cookie, the host packed up the box and put the rest away. No more cookies -- just one. The guests were stunned.

In talking with the client about this, the question came up “would you have eaten the one cookie differently if you knew it was going to be the only one you got?”. The answer was a resounding yes!

We have gotten used to many -- not just one. It didn’t even enter into my client’s head that there would be just one offered. If it had, he would have eaten the cookie slowly, savoring the texture and the taste of butter.

Why is more better than one? Honestly, I do not believe it is. More is just what we are used to. More just means that we have more opportunities to taste what we are eating without having to pay close attention while we are doing it. But we eat more calories and gain weight. In the case of the cookies, we amp up our blood sugar and put additional strain on our pancreas as it tries to secrete enough insulin to bring our blood sugar back in line. The downsides are there because of our lack of attention. Honestly, we do not care enough about what we are doing to bring our full attention to it. That one cookie does not merit our full attention because there is a whole tub of them and we can always have more.

Sound familiar??

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


How much chaos is there in your life? Does your house or your desk at the office feel cluttered and chaotic?

How about your eating? Does it feel like you are always trying to make decisions between what you should eat and what you want to eat? Constantly trying to decide if you “can” have the desert or another helping of dinner?

If your office or desk is cluttery, what advice would you get from your friends? I would tell you to go through your stuff and throw out (or at least box up) anything that is not useful or does not bring you huge amounts of pleasure to see. All of the little knick-knacks given to you over the years that you didn’t know what to do with so you set it on your shelf and now there is a hundred of them (pain in the neck to dust under and you can’t even look at them individually because there is so many…sound familiar?) Get them put away and start over!

The same goes for eating. Lots of the eating we do is just because it is there. We don’t necessarily want to eat -- it is just the path of least resistance. It is not wonderful, it is just there.

My suggestion? Take a look at your food journal. Figure out what (or when) you have been eating that hasn’t been for hunger (useful) or truly brought you pleasure. “Box” those up those foods or times. Get rid of them! Make a commitment to eat only those calories that add value to your life.

Analyze what you are about to eat and ask yourself “Is this useful or truly going to bring me huge amounts of pleasure?” If it takes more than a split second to answer, you can safely say that food is neither useful nor pleasurable enough – it will just be adding to the chaos and clutter of your life. Throw it out. Simplify.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Positive feedback

Hi all. Just a reminder-- if something that you read strikes you, leave me a comment. Don't be afraid to commit. I love to hear from you all.

A member just stopped into my office and told me what she thought of the "Animal Crackers" post. It was great to hear! (Plus, it didn't hurt that my boss was sitting right there when she gave her positive feedback).

So...if something strikes you (or you have questions for me), post 'em. If they are written down, I can show my bosses that there is value in my interacting with you. (I absolutely see the value -- what I really want is to have your words to show them)

Looking forward to hearing from you.


So your minding your own business, working on something or thinking about something when you hear those voices in your head telling you this will never work. Your not good enough to pull this off, to create something amazing, you failed in the past, you will fail at this too...... Gremlins.

I didn't coin the term -- I was reading Magpie Girl's blog -- just clicking around to read past posts and there it was.

Gremlins. The voices that undermine all of the wonderful, amazing things you are trying to do. The ones that steal the joy from your living.

Magpie girl has some interesting ways to deal with them --- but the important thing to me is for you to realized that just because the voice in your head says you will fail at this weight loss attempt -- it doesn't mean it is true!!! And trying to rationalize you way through those voices doesn't really help because they hit you where you are vulnerable.

There is no easy answers to dealing with your gremlins -- each of us has to try and try again. But to be able to celebrate our everyday triumphs (which is what I am asking of myself and all of you) our gremlins have to be told to be quiet so often, they get tired of talking to us and go away.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What should I eat? What should I eat? What should I eat?

Is a salad a better choice than a hamburger? What about a taco salad? But I really want a hamburger? Better just have the salad.

Americans eat more and enjoy it less than Europeans. Americans are fatter than Europeans. Why?

Maybe it is because we spend so much time thinking about what we should eat and not enough time about what would really taste great.

If you could eat anything for dinner tonight, what would it be? How much of it would you have to eat to be completely satisfied?

Let's say chocolate cake is the thing that sounds the best for dinner tonight. Let's say you give yourself permission to eat chocolate cake for dinner. Now, not dinner and then chocolate cake -- we are talking about cake being dinner. How much would you eat?

One of the ways clients eat too much is by trying to eat what they "should" eat so that then they can eat whatever it is they want to eat. This leads to lots of extra calories consumed.

If you are going to a restaurant that has great steak (and you love their steak) but you are not enthralled with their salads -- don't eat the salad! Chances are you are not so nutrient deprived that missing this salad with malnourish you. The calories saved will still move you towards your weight loss goal.

Remember: If you are not enjoying it -- don't eat it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This week has been crazy! I don't know why -- on the surface everything seems pretty normal. Work, kid stuff, housekeeping stuff, evening meeting, bits of playtime. I am tired from the week and it is making me want to eat like crazy! The more carbs the better!!

Ever feel like this??

I just finished a bowl of animal crackers -- was not hungry at all, they just sounded good (they sounded great! actually but jeesh...they were just plain Jane animal crackers). I have been trying, this last week, to keep my trigger eating to a minimum. Being busy at the office has help because there really hasn't been time for boredom snacking. The trick has been to keep it to a minimum in the evening when I am home.

I have not been drinking my usual amounts of water this week either. I am pretty sure this is playing a part in my desire to eat breads, pastas, crackers, etc.

Knowing all of the above is only the first step. A good step (knowledge is power) but I have to take action or all the knowledge in the world won't help.

So what is my plan to deal with the carb cravings until they go away (and they will -- at least for a while)?? Limit the number of snacks I let myself have. Just because something sounds good does not mean I need to indulge. If I am not physically hungry, my body does not need the food -- so I can wait until the next meal (most of the time).

And what about those animal crackers I just finished? I put them in a small bowl (so the bowl looked almost full) and sat down and ate them one by one, enjoying the crunch. They are gone now. My mouth would be quite content to keep on munching on them -- but I can stop here for now. There is always tomorrow to have a few more.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

There is a lot more going on in our country than people just eating too much fast food. Sure, that is an easy behavior to target but do you think that is the end of the story?

Why do we eat too much fast food?
Why do we like to eat in our cars?
Why are we too busy to enjoy the process of cooking?
Why do we gobble our food and then rush off to the TV room (or gobble our food in front of the TV)?

Don’t get me wrong --
I sometimes eat fast food. (I forget or am too lazy to pack my lunch)
I love to eat in my car. (Because I don’t think people can see me eating McDonald’s cookies and a Coke the size of my head)
I like to cook but sometimes just don’t feel like it or haven’t shopped or don’t want to have to do the dishes.
Sometimes, sitting at the dinner table and making conversation seems like a lot of work – it is easier to sit in front of the TV and veg.

The goal would be to understand why I chose to do the unproductive behaviors and recognize them as a legitimate choices but to cultivate the habits of

Packing my lunch
Not eating in my car
Cooking dinner for my family
Dining (as opposed to just eating) at the table and enjoying the time I spend there.

If these are my habits – these will be the new path of least resistance –requiring less thought and helping me manage my weight more effectively.

How do you create these new habits? Make yourself do them. Make yourself do them. Make yourself do them. That is how habits (positive and negative happen -- repetition).

Pick any one of these things. Pick a schedule you can commit to (if it is cooking dinner -- pick a number of days that is realistic for you -- you can always increase the number of days when you master the current goal). Make a schedule of when this will happen (pick specific days you are going to cook dinner) and then do not let yourself off the hook.

While you are going the activity, make a conscious effort to feel good about what you are doing. Make the conversation in your head surrounding the activity a positive one. (If you are cooking -- take time to appreciate the smell of the kitchen, make the decision to enjoy chopping the vegetables, appreciate how the table looks with the food you prepared on it)

If you are not feeling enthralled with the new habit -- fake it 'til you feel it. Keep up the positive talk until it feels natural.

Give it a try -- see what you can do. Start anywhere that seems logical to you -- just start.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

8 Things

I came across list on a blog called 8Things: What I Know For Sure. It inspired me to write the list below.

8 things I know about myself

1. I want to love life everyday: Sometimes I can’t quite pull it off but deep in my heart there is a desire to live a screaming wonderful life. That is not to say I expect things to always be easy or great every single day– one look over my own rearview mirror tells me that hindsight may be 20/20 but don’t expect it to always look pretty.

2. My life is comprised of a lot of facets:
The me I recognize in my own head
Other duties as needed

3. Balancing all the facets is a challenge: we have all experienced this – enough said

4. I love to learn: I don’t know when or where I picked up the phrase “knowledge is never wasted” but that is the way I feel. I don’t need a reason to learn about something in particular – I just like to know things. I may not be an expert on one particular thing, I want to know enough about lots of subjects to make connections between them.

5. I need quiet time: I stayed at home when the kids were small. I had time to think as I did household chores or when the kids were down for naps. I don’t get quiet time as much as I used to. It is just as important (actually, it feels more important to me know) but I don’t get enough. I have to make time for the quiet time otherwise all the thinking I need to do piles up like dirty laundry in my brain – then I am unable to Love Life (see #1)

6. I enjoy doing the maintenance work on myself: I like to be active. I like eat well. I feel good about the world and good about myself when I do these things. Sometimes I forget that it makes me feel accomplished to take good care of myself but when I re-establish those habits, I remember how good it makes me feel.

7. I need a job I feel passionate about: I am fortunate to love my job. Just like everyone else (or at least I assume most of us), I have days where I am not stoked about going to work. All it takes for me to fall back in love with my job is to feel I have made a meaningful connection with one of my clients. I get the same feeling when that happens as I do when I hit a sweet shot in tennis or golf – when the racquet or club resonates at the perfect pitch. That is what I love about my job – making connections with people and helping people make connections with themselves.

8. Things change and sometimes not as quickly as I would like: The person I am today is not the same person I was yesterday. I am shaped by my reaction to the events of yesterday. Hopefully, that will be in the most positive way possible, however, there is a chance that I might be negatively shaped by yesterday’s events. Today I can change the course of my life. Nothing is ever set in stone. I am in control of what I make of today.

Now I know this is a blog about mindfulness and weight loss specifically but the underlying theme (if you haven’t picked up on it already) is KNOW YOURSELF!!! If you are running on autopilot (in your finances, in your relationships, IN YOUR EATING) you will stay in the path of least resistance because dealing with resistance requires thought!

If you are not in charge of your weight, there is a reason for it – figure out the underlying reason and you can make some changes. Keep running on autopilot and you will stay where you are.

So how would I use the above list if I was coaching me? Well…

1. I would get me to start thinking about how successfully being in charge of my weight would free up brainspace (I would not be worrying about how I looked, what I am eating, what I should be eating, etc. so I would have more energy for LIVING). If I can create a vivid picture of living life without eating worries sapping my energy, I can use that as a measure of how much I want to eat that second ├ęclair – do I want more of that flavor more than I want to live that visualized life?

2. Yup – I have a lot of people (including myself) to take care of – easier to do if I am not spending so much energy worrying about eating concerns.

3. Yes, this is one more thing to balance (read more work) but…what is the payoff to putting little more work right now?

4. Being mindful is a chance to get to know myself better. Examining why I am doing what I am doing will lead to insights on what works well for me and what doesn’t. I can’t think of a time when this has been a bad thing (confusing sometimes but never bad).

5. ??

6. Being in charge of my eating is an opportunity to do just that – take better care of myself.

7. ??

8. I can make small changes. I am in charge of my behavior. I can manage my weight successfully today – string those todays together and I will achieve a healthy weight over a lifetime.

So…what do you think? Could you create a list for yourself? Would you take it a step further and make the list work in your favor?

If you need help with it, let me know.

Monday, July 13, 2009

If you knew for sure that this was the best time in your life -- the time when you are the strongest, healthiest, had the most open heart to new ideas that you have ever had -- what would you do?

Would that assurance be enough to get you to start out today ready to eat less, enjoy it more and lose weight? If I could guarantee you would lose weight -- would you move your energy away from judging yourself and put it into making a plan BEFORE each time you eat?

I was watching a commercial for the weight loss drug Alli. What that drug does is make a person be conscious of what they are eating. If they eat the wrong things (too much fat) the person will suffer from severe stomach pains and diarrhea (think of it as built in mindfulness). One of the reasons this drug is successful is it creates pain for a person if they are not paying attention to what kinds of food they are eating.

The idea of mindfulness is a similar strategy -- getting you to create the habit of planning how full you want to feel after the meal. Not running on autopilot. Without the cost of the drug. Without the pain associated with indigestible fat making its way through your body.

If you could carry a card in your pocket or tie a band around your wrist to remind you of your weight loss goal, would that help you make different choices?

If you had someone who would weigh you and look over your food journal each week, would that create enough accountability for you?

If you have been unsuccessful losing weight so far -- don't keep doing the same things expecting different results. Try something new. Brainstorm. Get creative. What will help you remember to eat less while you are eating? What will slow you down enough to pay attention to what your body's telling you?

Note: Click on over to the Alli page and really listen to what the commercial at the top of their page is telling you. That spokeswoman is talking about changing her relationship with food. Changing her behaviors when she is eating. That is why people are successful losing weight and keeping it off. They change the behaviors that caused them to gain the weight in the first place.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Can you name the best meal you have eaten this week? Think about it. Is it easy to come up with one meal? Or are you scanning your memory because everything you ate was just okay -- just did the job?

The other day, a wonderful client of mine was talking about a meal at a local restaurant that was “lick the plate clean” good. He told me that after eating that meal, it made him think about all of the other meals he had eaten that week and wonder why he had eaten most of the other things he did. The great meal had changed how he looked at all of the other meals.

Most of the people I work with say they LOVE food. When questioned more closely they downgrade that to loving to EAT.

I challenge the loving food and loving to eat. I truly love to wakeboard -- I am mindful almost the whole time I am on the water -- because if I am not…if my mind wanders off, even for just a few seconds, I end up catching the edge of my board and smashing face first down onto the water -- I see it as a built in reminder to be mindful. Pain is a wonderful teacher.

If you think you love food and/or love to eat, how mindful are you when you are going through the process? Most of us eat without giving it much thought. We might agonize over what we “should” eat but once the food is in front of you, how much thought are you giving to smell, taste, texture, color and presentation? And not just one of these but all of them.

If you are paying attention to the food and how you are responding to the food, eating can be a smooth and enjoyable process. But, if you lose focus and forget what you are doing -- eating on autopilot -- often you will end up having eaten too much and feeling terrible. Let pain be your teacher. Pay attention. It will serve you well.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yesterday I read Nancy Lee Hixson’s obituary on 37 Days and it completely knocked my socks off and inspired me! Here is the obit:

Nancy Lee HIXSON
(NANCY) LEE HIXSON of Danville, Ohio died at sunrise on June 30, 2009. She was born Nancy Lee Wood in Cleveland on April 17, 1944, baptised at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Valley City Ohio, and confirmed at St. John's Lutheran Church, Independence Ohio.

In addition to being a teetotaling mother and an indifferent housekeeper, she was a board certified naturopath specializing in poisonous and medicinal plants; but she would like to point out, posthumously, that although it did occur to her, she never spiked anyone's tea. She often volunteered as an ombudsman to help disadvantaged teens find college funding and early opened her home to many children of poverty, raising several of them to successful, if unwilling, adulthood.

She also enjoyed a long life of unmentionable adventures and confessed she had been a rebellious teen-aged library clerk, an untalented college student on scholarship, a run-away Hippie, a stoic Sunday School teacher, a Brownie leader, a Grange lecturer, an expert rifleman, a waitress, a wife once or twice, a welder, an artist, and a writer.

She was in earlier years the president of Rainbow Systems Trucking Company, Peninsula Ohio, and she drove tractor-trailers over-the-road hauling freight commodities to startled customers from Minnesota to Florida. She was the CEO of the Cuyahoga Valley Center of Outdoor Leadership Training (COLT), where she lived in a remote and tiny one-room cabin in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Despite the lack of cabin space and dining table, she often served holiday dinners to friends and relatives and could seat twenty at the bed.

She lived the last twenty-three years at Winter Spring Farm near Danville where she built a private Stonehenge, and planted and helped save from extinction nearly 50 varieties of antique apple trees, many listed in A.J. Downing's famous orchard guide of 1859 - among them such delicacies as Summer Sweet Pearmain, Sops of Wine, Westfield Seek No Further, and Duchess of Oldenburg.

Her homemade cider and wine were reputed to cause sudden stupor. She befriended countless stray dogs, cats, horses, and the occasional goat. She was a nemesis to hunters, and an activist of unpopular, but just, causes. In short, she did all things enthusiastically, but nothing well.

After moving to Danville, she bravely suffered with a severe and disabling disorder and a ten-year battle with lymphoma that ultimately took her life. She was often confined to the home where she continued to tirelessly volunteer and donate her limited resources to needy teens in the area, always cheered by their small and large achievements. Sympathy and big donations may be extended at this time.

She was predeceased by her father Dwight Edward Wood of the Ohio pioneer Wood family of Byhalia, who died in the Columbus Jail having been accused of a dreadful crime, and by her second father Ted A. Cznadel of Danville who adopted her, loved her and raised her despite it all. She is survived by her dearly beloved son, her heart and soul and every breath, Christopher Daniel Hixson of Akron, (a sterling citizen who rose above his murky childhood with a scandalous mother), and by his loving partner Mitchell Kahan. She is also survived by her mother, the opinionated and stubborn Ann Gall Cznadel; by her brother the Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Sluberski, a Lutheran minister and professor, most recently of Rio de Janeiro; by her gentle, ecological brother Gregory T. Cznadel, a quality manager of Cleveland; by her talented sister Linda R. Cznadel Hauck, a librarian from sea to shining sea, of San Luis Obispo; by her genius nephew and godson Matthew Hauck of Minneapolis; and the other half of her heart, her patient friend and backstairs lover of thirty years, David Paul Bleifus who resides at the farm.

Ms. Hixson traced her lineage directly through eleven generations to Governor William Bradford of the ship Mayflower and the Plimouth Colony, and was in the process of membership to The Mayflower Society. She was a long-time card carrying member of the ACLU, the Democratic Party, and of MENSA. The family wishes to thank Dr. Gene Morris for his care, understanding and sense of humor through it all; Dr. Paul Masci of Cleveland Clinic Wooster; and Dr. Skip Radwany and the nursing staff of the Palliative Care Center at Summa for their compassion as Lee shuffled off this mortal coil.

Cremation has taken place. Immediate family and friends will gather at Stonehenge on a sunny summer day to celebrate her life. Interment is in the family plot at Brinkhaven Hilltop Cemetery in Brinkhaven, Ohio, where she will await an eventual and probable slide down the cliff to the Mohican River below.

In lieu of flowers, please pray for the Constitution of the United States. "Now Voyager depart, (much, much for thee is yet in store)…" - Walt Whitman

The obit was actually written by Ms. Hixson and her son wrote the last bit thanking care givers and the Whitman quote.

Why I think this is important (other that this obit actually gave me a new measure for my success at life) is this:

If you are the kind of person who desires to be able to write an obit like this for yourself – where does your weight figure into the equation? Is losing weight an important piece of the puzzle that will help you achieve the kind of life that can INSPIRE (if not in form – in the gusto with which it was lived) when others read your obituary?

If losing weight isn’t going to help you create an the AMAZING life you want then maybe your energy should be invested into doing the things that you really want to be known for. Weight isn’t the end all/be all. You are.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Positive Mindsets

In the last couple of days, I have had several quotes come through my email and all of them have been talking about positive mindsets being the cause of positive experiences – not the other way around.

When we are feeling happy about the world around us, we notice the beauty of the trees or enjoy the warmth of the sun.

If we are feeling grouchy, we notice the jerk that cuts us off on the highway and that the kids (who have been home all day while you went to work!) have left toothpaste in the sink!

When a person tells me they can’t lose weight, they are right. But if they thought they could – they would be able to. If they see losing weight as a punishment -- why would they want to make the changes necessary to lose weight? But… if they saw losing weight as a way of nurturing themselves – as a way to be good to themselves – wouldn’t they feel good about what they were doing and want to keep it up.

How does a person get into the self-nurturing mindset?

Let go of self-judgment.

You don’t have to want to stay the weight you are to accept your body as it is but that where ever you are is an okay place to start.

Listening to what your body is telling you (and not rushing to label it as bad) will create a more positive experience in losing weight. If you can understand that the body is meant to be hungry sometimes and also meant to be full sometimes -- and that both have their place in a healthy body -- you will be able to make decisions based on your hunger and fullness without seeing the experience as just a series of judgments about the kind of person you are.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


The one fact that I would cry from every housetop is this: the Good Life is waiting for us – here and now. B.F. Skinner

Getting to where you want to go in this life is a journey – What are you doing about it today?

Are you one of those people that live for your body of the future? You will be happy when _____ happens?

What about today? What decision are you going to make today that will help you on your road to reaching your goal weight? Can you leave 8 bites of lunch on your plate or forego the day-old doughnut in the break room?

Execute 3 positive decisions today about your food consumption. It is not about what you can deprive yourself of – it is about leaving things uneaten that do not add value to your life.

Just do what you can do today – the good life is here and now. Tomorrow you can think about what you can do tomorrow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Difference between Boredom and Hunger

How many times have you eaten only to realize (later – of course) that you weren’t really even hungry at the time – you were just bored? How many times have you eaten when you weren’t hungry, recognizing that you were bored, and eaten anyway?

Yesterday was then end of an unexpected (and wonderfully pleasant) 4th of July weekend. Unexpected – because instead of starting late in the afternoon of the 4th and ending with the fireworks, it started at the crack of dawn and ended the following evening at sunset. –with all of the outdoor fun and eating.

So this morning (10am- ish) when I could barely concentrate on my work because I was so hungry I couldn’t even think straight, I started to wonder – am I bored? Is this really hunger? What is going on here?

Here is what I figured. I was hungry! Starved, in fact. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense. Sure, I played outside all weekend but I ate too. I assume I ate about the same amount I always do. I don’t remember going for a long period of time being really hungry.

But here is the really important thing that I need to keep in mind:

It doesn’t matter why I am really hungry today – I just am. If I am willing to trust my body enough to respect its signals when I am full, I need to trust it enough to tell me when I am hungry, too.

Due to my schedule this morning, I didn’t eat until 12:30p but as time passed this morning, my hunger increased (sure sign it is physical hunger) and now (after lunch) I am able to sit down and concentrate. I am accomplishing tasks I was unable to complete this morning (due to my distraction) and I do not have a desire to seek out other kinds of food.

I am full (level 8.5 or possibly a 9) which is more full than I usually like to be. But, it is a risk I face when I duck out to get tacos from my favorite Mexican restaurant 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What would it take?

What would it take to get you/keep you motivated to lose the weight you need to?

What would it take to motivate you to make the lifestyle changes necessary to keep that weight off FOREVER?

Yesterday, I was taking to a friend about the economic situation in California. The state is looking for $8 BILLION to make ends meet.

Ironically, yesterday, I was doing research and came across a report entitled THE ECONOMIC COSTS OF PHYSICAL INACTIVITY, OBESITY, AND OVERWEIGHT IN CALIFORNIA ADULTS.

The report states that (as of 2000) “A five percent increase in the percentage of physically active and leaner adults could produce cost savings benefits of about $1.3 billion per year, or almost $6.4 billion in five years, while a ten percent increase would avoid nearly $13 billion in direct and indirect medical costs.”

The report is looking for 1 or 2 out of every 20 Californians to become active 30 minutes most days of the week and lose as little as 5% of their body weight.

5% of a 250 pound person is 12.5 pounds. We are not talking about huge amounts of weight.

30 minutes of activity (not exercise – doesn’t have to be at a gym – mowing your yard – housework – walking to the store – these all count)

With this, California alone could save all of this money in healthcare costs. Plus, all of those people incurring the costs would be more healthy and productive.

As I was thinking about the conversation I had and the report I found, I began to think about what would motivate Californians (or any of us) to take on this challenge – move a little more and lose a little weight. ???

I thought about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger make a call to the people of his state to lose weight and move a little more in an effort to help out the economy. With the right PR firm running the show, would we be inspired to do what we needed to do for the greater good (think Victory Garden of the new century).

Maybe it would motivate us, maybe it wouldn’t. Most of the things that we think “should” motivate us to make long term changes to our eating behaviors (our health, peer pressure, ease of movement, for our children, for our spouse, etc.) haven’t worked -- Sure, maybe for a while but not long-term.

So now what? What about a Victory Body?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Holiday Eating

Okay, friends – it is a holiday time…again. I didn’t really realize how many holidays there are until just the last few years.

The other thing I didn’t realize was how much all holidays revolve around food. Working with clients seems to be helping them re-establish priorities for holidays. What is important about the celebration? For many, one of the cornerstones is food.

Let’s take the upcoming July 4th celebrations. What comes to mind for Saturday? Fireworks – that is an easy one. But then what? Hamburgers or hot dogs on the grill? What about brats? Potato salad?

Where are family and friends on the list? Where is swimming or water sports or other non-food activities?

Sometimes we focus so much on the eating portion of the holiday that the holiday becomes stressful to those trying to make positive choices for weight management.

The food I listed above is available all year – all summer foods that are not really related to J4 at all.

When holiday eating starts getting stressful, think about what really makes the holiday special for you. Focus on the areas that add the most value to your life or are the most memorable for you. Many times, it is just habit that makes us think of food as a primary way of celebrating. It has been my experience when people really think about what makes a day special, it isn’t the food – it is the people they are sharing the day with.

For some great tips on holiday eating without the weight gain, check out Michelle May’s website.

My absolute favorite is #2 – Be A Food Snob!