Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Time is Now.....

It's one thing to study war and another to live the warrior's life. --Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary of the 5th Century BC.

We're one day away from the start of the Eating Coach 30 Day Challenge!!!  The big question for all of you is:

Are you reading to put mindfulness to work in a systematic way?

I had a conversation (and truth be told, I've had variations of this conversation many times) where someone, after asking me what mindful eating is, tells me they know what they should be doing but they just aren't doing it.  Sound familiar??

If you know what you "should" be doing but you're not doing it -- you're never going to get the results you're hoping for -- because that's all you're doing .....hoping!

If you want success, you are going to need to change your behaviors (for more than 2 weeks).  Are you up for that challenge? 

At worst: you have some experiences, learn some things and stay the same weight.

At best: you learn how to eat the foods you love with greater enjoyment and less guilt -- and do that right into a smaller size pair of shorts.

Today is the day for your action -- click here to register -- Challenge Day 1 email goes out in less than 24 hours.  Are you up for the Challenge?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Changing Behaviors and creating conversations

Here's a post of Jay Parkinson

In 2009, Kate Moss said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

In 1964, our Surgeon General said, smoking is bad for you. This was released when about 50% of all adults smoked. Now, in NYC, only about 12% of adults smoke. 46 years later.
Which one has the most influence over people? Pop culture vs. the surgeon general?

The issue of obesity is much, much more complicated than smoking. Smoking is one addictive behavior. Obesity is an entire ecosystem around you— your neighborhood, your means of transport, your corner store, your supermarket, your family, your culture, your attitude toward exercise, our media’s attitude toward skinny and overweight, our retail stores gradually increasing the measurements of a size to make us feel we’re not gaining weight, etc..

There is no quick fix to obesity.

So what does “quick” mean? In the world of smoking, quick meant 46 years to see a 38% decrease in a city with a very progressive, multi-factorial anti-smoking campaign. Regarding obesity, en masse behavior change takes generations. Just in the past decade, we’ve gotten the obesity conversation started. Hopefully, in 50 years and about the time I die, we’ll have seen a 38% decrease in obesity.

It’s just important to have some perspective and keep the conversation, awareness, and inspiration going.

I especially liked the last line about needing to keep perspective and the conversation, awareness and inspiration going. It applies to the macro view (how are we going to deal with the number of obese kids and adults in the US -- but also on the micro view of how are you going to deal with yourself day to day.

How often to do you take a look at your behaviors because you are interested in having positive conversation with yourself (did you notice I specified "positive"?)?  Hopefully, you are using this blog (and other resources) to create awareness and inspiration to keep you moving  in the direction of healthy, long-term weight management.

Just like decreasing the total number of smokers in NYC by one was not a very big dent in the total smoking population but was part of a larger trend -- your adoption of strategies of eating less and paying attention to when and why you are putting food into your mouth can be part of the larger trend of changing the shape (literally) of our country.

Are you up for that challenge???

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Internal vs. External Motivations

I woke up this morning, shuffled out to the coffee pot, cranked up the computer and with a particularly good cup of coffee in my hand, sat down and read Seth Godin's observations on our dependence on external motivations.

He says that the industrial age made use of praise, fear, promotions, etc to motivate workers -- but that the usefulness of this model is slowly falling away.  (when you do great work, you still can't be sure you won't get "downsized" -- which we all know is code for fired!)

External motivations are still a huge factor in weight loss.  Lose a little bit of weight and people are telling you how great you look, asking you how you did it.....  You may say that's not the reason you lose weight -- but it's a nice added benefit, isn't it?

Creating mindfulness isn't like that -- at all.

You won't practice for a week and have someone come up to you and tell you how evolved they think you are.  Weight isn't just going to drop off your frame like magic.  Instead of having motivation handed to you, you're going to have to find the motivation to continue for yourself (which is something we aren't necessarily trained for any more).

So in preparation for the 30 Day Challenge, here are some (non-weight related) motivations to cultivating more mindfulness in your life.

1. More joy. --science and popular culture tells us we steer toward the destination we are focusing on.  (ever heard the story of the kid steering his sled into the tree when his parent told him not to hit the tree?  He was focusing on the tree -- so that is where he headed)  If you are focusing on finding the foods that bring you the most pleasure (and eating less of the ones that don't give you pleasure) -- you will be focusing on what brings you the most joy.  End result:  more joy.

2. Fewer regrets.  Ever wished you could live through a particular moment again because you weren't fully present the first time?  Maybe you would have made different decisions if you could do it over again?  Mindfulness means being present the first time.  There are no do-overs in life.  It is a waste of time wishing for them -- plus, in the time you are looking backward you aren't paying attention to where you are right now...and that's just a recipe for compounding your regrets!

3. Feeling more confident.  Who couldn't use a little boost of confidence --especially that kind that comes from within.  When you don't need to dread the buffet line at your summer wedding, your ability to go home and prepare dinner without having a 30 minute binge before hand -- when you are confident your body is your ALLY on your weight management journey -- life becomes simpler and less stressful.  You can walk a little easier through your day.  Think about that for a minute --wouldn't that feel great?

Mindfulness is an internal process.  No one is going to hand you these compliments -- you are going to be on the look out for them yourself.  But one thing I can tell you for sure -- when you know you can find them consistently, there is nothing sweeter in the world.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thought for the Day....

"The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently."

— Pema Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times)

Courage and respect take time to develop.  Are you up for the challenge?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Do something Friday

Being more mindful. 

I had a woman stop me in the locker room yesterday and tell me she has started looking at her food -- before she takes her first bite.  Mindfulness is all about taking that extra second to engage your brain BEFORE you engage your mouth.

What would happen if you spent 30 day choosing every day to training yourself to be just a little more mindful?  Think of it as 30 days of "Do something Fridays". 

If that sounds like just the summer time class you need to help you with slimming down through the summer picnics and barbecues, I've got just the thing!

Click here and sign up for the online Eating Coach 30 Day Challenge.

Everyday, for 30 days starting July 1 (the next Do something Friday!), you will get an email with a thought to inspire you, a mindfulness task for the day, and a journal page to update.  It won't be anything tricky or time consuming -- it's summer, right?  So we need manageable tasks that we can fit into our fun, summer schedule.  The goal is to give your mindfulness a HUGE boost. 

The byproduct will be you finding those 9 bites a day that you can leave uneaten and feel GREAT about it (and lose half a pound to a pound a week -- how cool would that be for the month of July??)

Interested?  Click the link and choose Eating Coach 30 Day Challenge from the drop down menu.  The cost of the class is $20 -- hopefully, that won't put a crunch on your summer budget!  Make sure to include your email address in the registration process -- then plan on practice paying greater attention starting next Friday.  It will be fun, thought provoking, and slimming!!  No diet necessary.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thought for the Day...

This collection is an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us.  This is what I've come to believe about change: it's good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good.  By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should  be.

So this is the work I'm dong now, and the work I invite you into: when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.  And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.  --Shauna Niequist from the prologue of Bittersweet

I love the idea of saying thank you and celebrating or saying thank you and growing.  Change is going to happen no matter what -- how would things be different for us if we accepted it with these attitudes?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who expects what from you?

From your mom to your best friend to your office mate -- all sorts of people have expectations of you.  Some of those people (your best friend, your significant other...) you choose.  Some of them (your office mate, your mom, your kids...) you don't.  But all of them have expectations of who you are and what you should do.

Ok.  We're going to have to set aside the moms and kids of the world.  You're stuck with them and you won't change them -- so they are a discussion for another day.

Let's focus on the people you are choosing to share your life with.

If it's a given that they have expectations of you (and I think it is), are those expectations pushing you to be the best you you can be?  Or are those expectations letting you sit in run-of-the-mill-is-good-enough land?  Are those the kind of people to best support you in the HUGE change of bringing more mindfulness into your life?

Are you mindfully choosing to spend your time with people who are encouraging you to move out of your comfort zone?  Or are they holding you back and letting you feel good about staying status quo?

You won't get anywhere you choose to be by staying status quo.  The world will move on around you while you stay still -- you will end up somewhere else by default (and it will be a place undetermined by you).

I expect better of you.  I expect you to mindfully and actively choose what you want to eat, how you spend your free time, and who you choose to spend it with.  I expect you to understand you are worth putting the time and effort into.  I expect that you choose to spend your time reading this blog because you see there is a more choice-oriented way to live, you want to live that choice-oriented life, and you need some help.

Good for you!

I expect you to change your choices today to align with your long-term goals -- because I believe you can.

As for the others in your life, you will need to decide how they can best help you forward.  And if they can't?  Maybe you will need to make some different choices about them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Telling yourself you can't

Telling yourself you can't lose weight, that you'll never lose weight, isn't going to change the fact that you want to.  Trying to convince yourself you are powerless isn't going to make you feel better about staying the weight you are (or continuing to gain weight).

When you tell yourself you can't, you give away all your power and negate all your abilities.

What you really mean to say is:  you are choosing not to do what it takes to lose your weight.

Big difference. 

The second one keeps you empowered.  You don't have to lose the weight -- you are choosing not to.  And that's okay.  I don't want to run a marathon because I don't want to devote that many hours to training.  It's not that I can't, it's that I don't want to give away that much time and energy to something that won't give me equal value in "feel good" payback.

Maybe that's where you are with weight loss right now -- what you need to do isn't worth the amount of energy you will need to put into it.  If that's the case, stop worrying about losing weight.  Unsubscribe to this blog and all the other weight loss blogs you're reading -- it's ok!  There's nothing wrong with that -- you're job is to be the best you you can....not the best X-pounds-you you can be.

But... if you feel that losing weight would give you an equal value in "feel good"-ness, start today. 

Start small and expect the "feel good" value to be small.  (and notice I said small -- not meaningless.  small is okay)  Look for that value and cultivate it -- that value is going to be what keeps you on track.  That "feel good" feeling is what is going to bring you back to losing weight mindfully when you get off course.

Just don't expect a huge feel good value from a small amount of energy/time investment.  That's not an equal trade and it just won't happen.  You won't get something for nothing -- there are no magic beans.  You put the work in and you will get results.  Little work, little results.  Short-term work - short-term results.

Consistent work - consistent result.

Your choice.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Do something Friday

Make a plan.

By now, you probably have a pretty good idea what your weekend is going to hold.  Yard work, grad parties, a trip to the beach.... whatever it is, that is the context in which you are going to be practicing your mindful eating.

Knowing that means you can make a flexible plan to work on mindfulness in those situations. 

Lawn work and a grad party?  Don't work all day without taking time to eat, only to go to the buffet at the grad party and over eat!  Plan to eat a meal or snack when you get hungry doing yard work so you aren't starving when you're presented with all those available party food options.

Same thing goes for heading to the beach.  Sure, you don't need to reflexively snack on chips all day -- let yourself get hungry but not so starving that when you leave the beach you drive straight to Sherman's and order the biggest ice cream sundae on the menu.  That isn't a good recipe for mindfulness.

In this particular case, failing to plan is the the same as planning to fail. 

Make your plan and take the 2 minutes and write it down!  Handwritten or typed, doesn't matter to me.  Just get it on paper.  It will solidify your weekend plan more than just roughly thinking it in your head as you're reading this post.  Then, once you've got it on paper, take it home tonight and tape it to your bathroom mirror -- just for the weekend.  So you can be reminded of your plan and work to achieve it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Truly Happy

In order to be truly happy, your weight must serve your life – not vice versa.

Wait…did you actually read that right? Your weight should support the lifestyle you want to live – your life shouldn’t be run by your waist line.

In fact -- your waist line is a reflection of how you live your life.  Too much food for the amount of activity you get?  You're going store that excess energy in the form of fat.

If you are moving more than the amount of calories you are eating in a day -- your body has to pull energy out of fat storage and use it to keep you moving.

Your weight is a reflection of your life.  If you don't like that reflection, you need to change your life.......and then your weight will change.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Take Action

When push comes to shove – it’s action that causes you to lose or gain weight. As in, it's a choice to eat that cookie (action) or not eat that cookie (a different action).

The other day, I was reading a great manifesto by Guy Kawasaki called The Art of the Start. He is a big proponent of implementation. Get it done – it doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect, your first job is to bring your vision into being (or in our case – doing).
In another recent reading, the author was suggesting the key to behavior change is to change your behavior (duh!). But really, it is as simple as that. Change your eating behavior when you walk into the break room. Don’t eat the first cookie if you don’t really want it. You don’t have to say no to all cookies – just having a first one.

Sometimes, I think we all get overwhelmed by the big picture.  When really, it is as simple as acting in ways consistent with your goal.  If the big picture is overwhelming, don't think about it -- just think about this eating decision and then next one.  That's only two.  You can handle two decisions! No excuses.  Just get it done.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Awesome takes Time

Remember back when you were a kid and the school year (or summer, for that matter) lasted forever?  And as we age, the world speeds up -- except when you're trying to lose weight.  Then time seems to drag, right?

We live in a fast world.  I now expect people to answer their phone in less than 4 rings -- or it should go to voicemail.  The computer should take no longer than 20 seconds to boot up.  I'm great with 10 second commercials.  I love the Twitter bits at 140 characters or less.  That's what we are starting to think is normal.

And yet, our bodies are not 2.0 anything.  Our biological processes are from a different era.  Things take time and there isn't an app to speed things up.

This is one reason people give up on a mindful path to weight loss.  I won't promise (or even encourage) you that you will drop 2 dress sizes in a week.  Maybe you will lose 2 pounds ... maybe.  Losing weight you can actual keep off really comes down to changing your habits -- and that takes time.

It takes time to get good at walking through the break room without checking out what grad party left overs are sitting on the table.

It takes time to consistently taste the first 4 bites of every meal you eat. 

It takes time to practice all of the new habits that are going to replace the habits of eating without giving a thought to if you're even hungry.  And to be able to replace the idea of "how much can I eat and still feel good about myself" to "how little can I eat and feel great about my eating experience".

How much time is it going to take?  Well....consider how long you think it's going to take to realistically make these habit changes.....then times it by 4.


I don't think so -- because you will be losing weight the whole time --which feels good and inspires you to keep going.  ---Which is good because this isn't a solution with an end point.  There will always need to be tweaks and adjustments.  The goal is for you to fully integrate these behaviors into your vision of who you are.  And that is no small (or quick) task.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thought for the Day....

“Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” - Steven Pressfield, Do the Work
It might take longer than you want it to -- but if you get started today, you can accomplish it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do something Friday

Are you a split second away from a life lesson?

How would you know?  How would you know if one was staring you in the face?  Unless you're living in the moment, it's likely you would miss it.  Bummer.

Everyday, in a thousand little ways, we are a split second away from a life lesson -- some little bit of information or insight that could change our whole world.  Or maybe it's just a small lesson -- a puddle in the street that causes you to step unexpectedly in another direction and into a friend you haven't seen for years.

But if your not living in the moment?  You won't see the lesson because you won't be there when it presents itself.  And your world will be less vibrant because of it.

Mindful eating is a way of practicing living in the moment. And the ways it can enrich your life go so far beyond your waistline, I can't even begin to express it.  The satisfaction of being mindful comes not from losing weight or what pant size you can get yourself into (although that does provide satisfaction).  The greater satisfaction comes from realizing that you are living your life everyday.  You are making choices and empowering yourself to take action.  Not be a victim.  Not putting off living until you are the size someone else told you you should be. 

The satisfaction comes from experiencing breaths and bites, smells, as well as, tastes.  The sight of a loved one smiling even more than the sight of your meal.  And experiencing all of that while it's happening -- so you don't have to look back and wish you could live that moment over again -- because you lived it fully while it happened.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A question from Seth Godin

Seth talks about marketing.  I think it's really interesting that the fundemental questions he asks are relavant to more areas of our lives than not.

Which of the four are getting the way?

You don't know what to do

You don't know how to do it

You don't have the authority or the resources to do it

You're afraid

Once you figure out what's getting in the way, it's far easier to find the answer (or decide to work on a different problem).

Stuck is a state of mind, and it's curable.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some days....

Some days there is just no inspiration to be found.  Those are the days you have to be mindful anyway.  Not because you want to --  just because it's the right thing to do.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thought for the Day....

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” ~Dr. Denis Waitley

What if those are your only two choices?  Which one are you going to chose?

Friday, June 3, 2011


What don't you have enough of? 

When I talk about this with clients, they invariable say they have everything (or almost everything) they need to be happy.  They talk about their family and friends, their jobs, how blessed they financially, etc.  Sure, they might indicate that their mom/husband/coworker doesn't support them as much as they wished they did.  Or, sure...a raise would really make things at home a little easier.  But for the most part, they tell me they have enough.....

And yet, as we talk, the overwhelming undercurrent to their eating behaviors is lack.

They don't have enough Time.  Energy.  Motivation.  Fitness.  Emotional resources to deal with their eating behaviors.  Love for themselves.  Appreciation for themselves and what they bring to the world.

All of that lack adds up and changes us.

When we used to be hunter-gatherers out there in the wilderness, lack was something we dealt with often.  No berries = empty stomachs.  Uncomfortable hunger pains were the signal to get moving and find some food.  For thousands of years, that sense of lack was solved with food.

We are blessed not to be hunter-gatherers now.  But our training is still -- uncomfortable pain = lack and you fix that lack with food because it fills up the lack.  Which is fine if your lack is lack of food.  But that isn't the problem, is it?

Food won't fix our feelings of lack of time. (And what do we mean by lack of time, anyway?  We all get 24 hours each day -- non-negotiable!  It is our priorities that are the root cause of the feelings labeled as "no time")

Food won't give us the emotional energy to deal with changing our behaviors.  Food gives us physical energy -- and if we don't need it right away, it gets stored as fat -- which is just potential physical energy.

Food (even "healthy" food) won't increase your fitness levels -- The tool for that job is movement.

Food doesn't motivate you -- if it did, we all would be super-human, right?

And yet, we continue to reflexively eat...and eat...and eat.  Storing up potential energy we can't get rid of because we aren't using it up.  All to try to fix our sense of lack that we don't even want to acknowledge.

Do the work.  Find the lack you are trying to fill up with food.  Deal with the lack.  Today. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Who would know....

Who would know if you slacked off...just gave up...quit...decided you just can't be mindful today?

--Does it matter who else knows?  You are your own worst critic.  Everyone else is just extra.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

8 Weeks to a Healthier You

We've launched a new program at the FC recently to help new members engage and meet the goals that brought them here in the first place.  The program we built asks people to focus on one goal, even if you have others, for 8 weeks. 

Our idea was, if you focus on achieving one thing, for 8 weeks, you are going to see results.  You might not be where you ultimately want to end up but you would achieve enough success to inspire you keep up the good work.  You would also have spent so much time planning and carrying out your plan, you would have a great start on the developing the habits it takes to be successful in managing your weight, becoming stronger, or achieving some other health related goal.

I just came from talking to one of our Fitness Specialists.  These are the professionals that guide, help, and provide accountability for those who choose to participate in this program.  The FS I talked to said there as a few people doing great with the program!  And there are a few who are only doing the planning and the prep-work because the FS is egging them on.

Here's the struggle:  Having the tools at your disposal doesn't get the job done.  If that was the case, my car would never have to go in to the mechanic.  Tools are only helpful if they get used properly.  The new participants who aren't journalling, planning their workouts and engaging with the professionals there to help them are not going to get the same results as those who plan, organize, and carry out their health behavior changes using the knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm available to them (both their own and the professionals', too).

This is a difficulty I see often in the world (and who am I kidding -- often in myself, as well).  We want the results but we don't really want to do the work.

Do the work!  It's the only way you'll ever get the results!