Monday, October 31, 2011

Thought for the Day...

“Your thoughts have a great impact on your health, because your body believes what your mind is thinking. The body can not discern between an actual situation and a thought.” --Ekhart Tolle

Friday, October 28, 2011

Do something Friday

The other day, I got a few questions about the definition of mindfulness.  Particularly, the "without judging your behaviors" part.

I'd like to take a few minutes (and have you spend some time this weekend) thinking about judgment.

Obviously, I am encouraging you to pay attention to what you are doing.  Autopilot behaviors tend to be very consistent -- which is great if they're working for you...but not so great if they aren't...because they are repeated without much thought being put into them.

Judgment, though, is an interesting thing because it locks that behavior up and reinforces the story you've created around it.  Stories are not necessarily "the truth", they are the slant with which we see things.  For example, my story used to be that I don't like coffee.  Well...I didn't....until I actually tried it.  And then I did.  Now my story is "I love coffee".  Another story of mine is that "I am a sweets eater".  If I believe that about myself, I am going to seek out sweets of all kinds because that behavior is consistent with who I believe myself to be -- and I prompt myself to act accordingly.

Judging behaviors means saying being a sweets eater is "bad".  There are a couple problems with this but the biggest one is that it is hard for humans to hold the concept of the "behavior is bad" in their head.  They like to jump to "I am bad because I participate in this behavior".  I am pretty sure most of you talk negatively to yourself enough that you don't really need any reinforcement in that area.

If judgmental attitudes made one skinny -- what size should you be?

So if is makes you feel bad, doesn't help you lose weight, and reinforces a skewed view of yourself, how is judgement helpful?

It's not.

All it's doing is taking your eye off the prize -- awareness.  You're not stopping before the cake on your plate is gone because you're good, you're stopping because you noticed that it isn't tasting good to you and you choose not to waste those calories on the last few bites.  It doesn't make you a better person -- only a more aware person.  It won't guarantee you lose weight -- it just provides an opportunity to cut back on calories that aren't adding any value to your eating experience -- and when you leave those out, you don't feel feel liberated!

Is that a little more clear?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A giant mess....and all for public display

I just attended a concert at Miller Auditorium where a famous (I was told) composer came out to conduct the orchestra at it played one of his pieces.  Before he took the podium, he explained that the piece we were about to hear was written at a very personally tumultuous time in his life  -- things were not going well for him and that is what the music we were about to hear was reflecting.

His speech wasn't long but it did seem to me very personal.  I sat there amazed that he could walk into the auditorium and tell his very personal tale to a bunch of strangers....who might have been sitting there judging him!  But he did it. 

And that made me wonder why.  Why would he need to explain where the music came from?  It was a beautiful, angry, chaotic piece.  It still would have been all those things if I didn't know the backstory.  So why did he share it with the audience?

Then I realized maybe I was asking the wrong question.  We all, to one degree or another, do exactly what that composer did.  We come out on the stage of the world and tell our story.  Maybe it's so others can understand us better.  Maybe so they can appreciate us more.

Since I started working with Eating Coach clients, I've struggled with not chastising them too much when they start feeling negative about the coping mechanisms (binge eating, stress eating, comfort eating, mindless eating) that helped them get to the weight they are.

These are also the skills that helped you get through the challenges of your lives -- help you get to be the people you are today.  That's not a bad thing!  Most of my clients like lots of aspects of themselves (just usually not their weight).  But you wouldn't be the person you (mostly) like, if you didn't have the eating issues you do.  So.....even if you want to change them, they are a part of your life you can use to catapult yourself to your next great heights.

Much like the composer.  He turned an awful, painful, sad, grief-stricken time in his life into a beautiful, angry, wonderful, chaotic piece of music that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to.  Maybe you are doing the same for yourself.  What do you think?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mindfulness is.....

Mindfulness eating is deliberately choosing to pay attention to what and how you are eating while you are eating, without judging your behaviors.

How much are you noticing your behavior?

How often to you find yourself judging your behaviors?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thought for the Day...

"Progress is nothing but a long chain of beginnings. In fact, stagnation is nothing but a long chain of beginnings too. And sometimes, stagnation that feels like stagnation, a bunch of starts that look like they head nowhere, is progress too. I know this is vague. It shows just how poorly we understand the nature of beginnings."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do something Friday

Makeovers are an interesting phenomenon -- people love them.  I am addicted to Yard Crashers (HDTv's yard makeover) and their spin off House Crashers.  The idea of someone volunteering to come to my yard for 3 days -- completely redo it and make it fab.....the stuff of dreams!!

The thing I often wonder about though, is what's that yard look like in a year?  If it wasn't my dream to have it look like that (do I need a waterfall in my backyard?  Cool, right?  But still -- I'm stuck with the green slimeys in August....oh! and the water bill).

And sure, I've worked like a fiend for 3 days while the professionals were there directing me -- but do they leave me with instructions on how to take care of this outrageous Moroccan Jungle?  What if I hate to pull weeds?  Or hate to be outside? 

But we all love to be chosen, right?  Winning means your a winner and we all love that!!

I see this mentality often with weight management.  The "Sure...but Oprah has a trainer, a chef, and a chauffeur.  If I had all those things, I could lose weight too..." 

But guess what?  You're not Oprah.  And not matter how much time I spend in Home Depot, it is still very unlikely I will run into the Yard Crashers. 

If you want to control your weight and I want to have a fabulous yard, we're going to have to do it for ourselves.'s going to take more than three days (for both of us!).  And we're likely to take more wrong turns (plants that dies because they should have been planted in more shade, iced lattes you find out are 1000 calories a cup when you thought they were a "good" choice ....  read choice you thought was the calorie downgrade to the cup you really wanted but then later find out there's just as many calories in the not-so-good cup as the delicious-but-shouldn't-have-it cup.

The good news:  In the end, we'll both get there -- if we keep doing the work.  And we'll have taken our time creating something we can maintain....and that suits each of us.

So the big question is:  What are you going to do this weekend to get you closer to your goal?  I'm off to Wenke's -- fab sale on plants!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

If you had an hour....

How would you spend it?  If miraculously, there was unscheduled time -- what could you accomplish?

Now the important question is:  Why aren't you doing that right now?  Why isn't it a priority to fit it into your schedule today?  Do you really want to accomplish that something?  Find the time.  Make it an actual  Don't wait until someday.  Don't let yourself fall pray to the "someday" vision.

If it's not important to you but you think you "should", maybe you "should" let it go.  If it's honestly important to you -- get to work!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I'm a big fan of mantras.  I've had lots of them over the years.  Most of them are geared to keep me exercising.  A few of them have been geared toward calming me down ......and if you know me, you know how well those have worked ;)

A couple weeks ago, I talked at the City of Portage about creating a mantra to help yourself become a life long exerciser** and  gave some examples of my favorite mantras.

This morning, something else I was reading caused me to see mantras in a new light.

In the October 14th reading in Simple Abundance, the author defines mantra as "that personal phrase that brings all things into focus".  Cool, right?  I like all things being in focus!

But what happens when our mantras run amok?  What happens when we choose to let our mantra be:

"I can't do that.  I'm too fat."
"I'll never be successful"
"I'm a loser"   ..........

Even though I don't believe for a minute that we want those to be our mantras -- effectively, if those are the thoughts running through are head, and we are not actively combating them, they ARE our mantras.  They are bringing everything into focus.  You won't be successful in managing your weight -- your mantra says so and you are constantly reinforcing that thought.

Is that really what you want for yourself?  Don't you deserve a more positive "personal phrase that brings everything into focus"?  Maybe it's time to get to work and create a new mantra.  You can be successful.  Accept no excuses.

**if you're interested, you can download a copy of that power point.  Click here and scroll down to the "Downloadables" on the right hand side of the screen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I've been thinking about fear.  I'd like to say it's because we're getting close to Halloween but the truth is, I think about fear a lot.  Maybe that's because I think about a lot of things a lot or maybe it's because I encounter fear often.

Many, dare I say all, of the people I work with are fearful.  Some fear losing control in their lives.  For some, it's fear of rejection, fear of illness, fear of change  --  there's no end to the things we are afraid of. 

We've all heard about fight or flight, right?  When you experience a fearful situation, your subconscious makes a decision to stay where you are and fight for your life or run for the hills.

What doesn't fit into that neat little package is the pause that happens while you're making that decision.  Think about it --

If it were 1000 years ago and you were walking through the woods, what would happen if you came upon a bear?

First, your instinct would be to stop dead in your tracks, your pupil would widen so you could gather more information about this new threat, your muscles would tense, adrenaline would flow -- and these events precede your decision to stay and fight or run like mad. All this takes time -- not very much time, to be sure, but there is a space of time where you would be in a pause  -- full of fear but taking no action.

This pause is where a lot of my clients (and, let's be honest, myself) get stuck.  Full of fear, trying to gather more information so we can make the best decision possible. 

In the woods, there is a finite amount of information to be gathered.  Ground conditions, whether the bear looks hungry, our chances of outrunning it, (I'm sure there's more but never having been in that situation, I'm at a loss).....there's a logical end point to the amount of data we would need to collect -- many things (the color of the sky, chance of rain this afternoon, what we had for breakfast, or what our tribe is going to say about our stupidity for getting in the situation in the first place) are not relevant to our assessment.  Plus, there's a drop-dead time limit (literally) to make our decision.

Decisions about dealing with our fears now days are hardly as cut and dried.  It is literally impossible to gather all of the pertinent information -- with the Internet, there's not enough time in the day to read all available research on weight management.  And, we really have too much time to make our decision.  The threats we face from our eating behaviors are slow to show themselves and we can always improve our situation -- regardless of when we initiate our behavior change.

People get stuck in the pause.  They just stay fearful and don't do anything about it.  They don't fight.  They don't run for the hills.

In my experience, people who are the happiest (which is probably the greatest boost to health anyway) are the ones who pick a direction and go.  It may not be the "best" course of action -- but they're moving and not staying stuck!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thought for the Day...

Each of us has a default lens through which we see the world. We call it reality, but in fact it's a selective filter. We have the power, to view the world through other lenses.  --Tony Schwartz

Your thought for the day is coming from a great post over at The Energy Project.  It talks about dealing with difficult in other people....but sometimes, the most difficult person we deal with is ourself.  Interestingly enough, his solutions can still be applied.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Do something Friday

This weekend is the Detroit marathon.  26.2 miles.  What would happen if those runners started out sprinting just as fast as they could?  Would they be able to finish the race....

Nope.  We all know they need to start out at a pace that is much slower than a sprint -- a pace they can keep up for the whole duration.  If they start out too fast, they'll gas out and collapse.

Why would we think our journey is any different?  Changing any kind of behavior is much the same way.  Start out slow enough you can stay with the challenge for the duration -- it's always easier to speed up because you find you're going too slowly and capable of more than it is to sprint, fall down, recover and start again.  And yet, isnt' that just exactly what dieting is?

What's your plan for the weekend?  How are you going to implement your eating behaviors?  What's you plan for the fall?  How are you going to run your race with the holidays coming up fast?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why not....

Why not you?

Why not now?

What's stopping you?

Okay -- the first three answers to each of those questions...throw them out.  They are the story you tell yourself.


Why not you?

Why not now?

What's stopping you?

After the first three answers are out of the mix -- is there anything left?  Solve those issues.

It can be you.  Today.  The only limits are the ones you impose on yourself.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Have you ever noticed that it takes time to slow down enough to hold the door for someone else.  Not really a lot of time ...but still -- time to recognize there is someone there that needs to door held for them.  A split second to decide if you want to take the time to hold the door.  And the actual time it takes for them to catch up with you and walk through the door.

Kindness takes time.

It's almost the holiday season.  Pretty soon the Salvation Army bell ringers will be out.  It will take time to stop at their bucket.  Time to dig out the bills or change.  Time to drop it in and say "Season's Greetings".

It takes time to smile at someone or ask them how they're doing when they look like they're having a bad day.

Kindness takes time.  And the interesting thing is that a great many of us take the time -- or make the time -- to make those kindnesses happen.  Kindness is important, right?  It's what makes the world go 'round.

So why don't we make time to be kind to ourselves?

Take time to buy clothes that are comfortable and fit well -- not because we are the size we want to be but because we deserve a little kindness.

Take the time to notice something nice about ourselves -- perhaps it's a great hair day or we did a great job during a presentation.  Why don't we notice that? 

Why don't we appreciate how hard we work to get everything done in a day?  Why do we always expect 36 hours of work from ourselves during the course of one day?

Kindness takes time but truth be told, time is all we have.  The question is -- how are we going to spend it???

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I should stop eating....and other ignored advice

A few months ago, I had a very smart, retired man tell me that when he used to get super stressed at work, when it felt like there was no time to take a break, that was the time he left his desk and took a breather.  The more it felt like there was no time to be spared -- the more important it was for him to step back from that project, gain some breathing space, and hopefully a little perspective.

About that time, I also stumbled onto this website, Take Back your Lunch.  The gist is people make a commitment to have a minimum of one lunch hour a week for themselves.  Away from the email, phone (or electronic tether, as it's known in some circles) --  away from work.  One lunch.

We've talked about scheduling one lunch a week for you to eat without distractions -- so you can assess your hunger and fullness levels.  How are you doing with that, by the way?

My point is this:  we know what's good for us.  Taking a break, catching your breath, eating an amount of food that fuels you but doesn't make you feel sick, stuffed, or sleepy -- these are all really positive things.  And we know it (usually at the time we are choosing to act in the exact opposite manner).

What would happen if we, like the man in the first paragraph, started acting in a way that took better care of ourselves.  What if that was are overarching focus?

Honestly, how many times a month would your business go under if you took a break as the stress ratcheted up?  How much more productive might you be in the afternoon, if you got away from work for one lunch hour?  How much would your confidence in your decision making skills improve if you actually stopped eating the first time the "I should stop eating" thought popped into your head???

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thought for the Day...

The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince. --Vincent Lombardi

Friday, October 7, 2011

Do something Friday

Yesterday, I talked to a member of the FC who is 12 pounds away from being able to knee surgery.  He has lost 180 pounds!  He has spent 3 years moving more and eating less and he is almost at his goal!!

He is no different than you.  It wasn't easy for him.  Even having 1+ pound a week loss, the fat didn't just "melts away".  He needed to learn new skills, learn a new level of commitment to himself, and learn to skip the short-term rewards (food) for the long-term rewards (better health and increased ease of movement).

He is no different than you.  He doesn't have access to something you don't.  He made a commitment, started doing the work, and found a group of people to support him along the way.

You could have the first two done this weekend!  (and if you play your cards right, a good start on the third).  All it takes is getting started (everyday).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Forgetting the Real Point

I just read an op-ed post discussing a recent Washington Post article.  The topic (of both the op-ed and the article) was Governor Chris Christie's weight -- and how that should be considered in light of the fact he may run for president.

Even if you're not really interested in politics, I think it's worth taking a look at how Travis, at Obesity Panacea, takes a stand about some long and closely held beliefs about weight.  Here's the highlights:

"...We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: weight ≠ health.  Obesity (as defined by body weight) is associated with increased health risks, but by no means are all obese individuals unhealthy."

"...all else being equal, lean individuals tend to be healthier than individuals with obesity.  But if a person is already healthy, then there is little or no medical reason for them to attempt to lose weight, especially given that many attempts at weight loss actually result in weight gain."

Should  we be having this discussion about this man's weight?  In my opinion, no.  But wait, you might say, if he could be our president, doesn't that mean we have the right to expect him to control his eating and not be obese?  Think about that line of reasoning, for a minute.

I want my president to be healthy.  He or she is going to need all the health they can muster to do a hugely difficult job for the next four years.  Stress is going to wreck havoc on them.  I don't want a president that is starting off in bad health. --But that isn't what I (or the article discusses).  It discusses Mr. Christie's weight -- not his health.  And if we continue to let the difference in these two things elude us, we are missing the point too.

I want you to be health -- I don't care what size your health comes in.  The whole world is not meant to look like Barbie or a Victoria's Secret Model.  That's not the way our species has developed (and that goodness for that!)

Focus on your health.  Focus on doing things that genuinely make you feel energized.  Focus on the insides (both your mental environment and your physical environment)

Move more to release the stress that gets stored in your muscles.  Eat nutritious foods that fuel you all day.  If you focus on these things, your weight may change, but more importantly, you'll be living healthier and feeling better.  And isn't that what most of us want anyway?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Clarity of Process

Clarity is a great thing.  It's so much easier to attack a problem if you know what you're trying to accomplish.  If your path is clear, it doesn't seem to take as much work to stay on the path.  If your path is clear, it's easier to see landmarks that allow you to mark your progress.

I was just talking to some workmates about creating a clear path for our new fitness center members -- it's challenging enough to get yourself here -- the road from work to the FC is loaded with opportunities to turn the car toward home and never even get here.  If you can get yourself here, wouldn't it be great if you had a clarity about what you should be doing once you're through the doors? 

That is one reason why lots of people think dieting is the way to lose weight.  You buy a book, a program, rent a video, join a group and viola!  Instant clarity.  You are going to be told what to do, what to eat, and what you should avoid.  And it works just well enough to keep you coming back.

But then what happens?  You fall out of love with the "clarity in a box".  You want more choices than someone else's version of clarity allows.  You want to walk your own path.

There are some positive things people learn from dieting.  Think about the last diet you were on.  Which part of it did you find easy to follow?  Take that and use it as part of your new found clarity.  Add bits and pieces you find almost-hardly-not-at-all-painful.  Create your newer, clearer vision for yourself.

Clarity -- it's a wonderful thing but it takes work.  I can clean my windows in the spring -- but by this time of year, I dread accidentally ending up in the living room as the evening sun streaks through (or tries to anyway....they're really, really dirty!)

Your clarity about your eating is the same way.  You create a clear vision -- but if you don't actively work on keeping your clarity, smudges happen.  Usually, most of them aren't very big but given enough time and they will add up to obscure your vision.  That's when you notice that you can't see anything. (that's also the time some of us avoid looking so we don't have to come face to face with just how obscured our vision has become).

I can't promise you very many things -- but I think I can safely say -- just like I am always glad when I tackle the dirty windows and can walk through the living room and enjoy the view, I bet if you tackle your vision for your eating behaviours, you will be glad with your renewed clarity, too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Can you ever really set aside your weight?

Ok -- this is not some kind of question to get you thinking and then for me to tell you you're wrong.  I'm really asking if this is possible.

I was just playing a game of Scrabble (in a vain attempt to avoid the pile of work sitting next to me) and it occurred to me that the whole time I had been trying to concentrate on the game, every chance I got, my mind flipped back to the pile of work I wasn't getting done.  The black work cloud was hanging over my head and growing larger with each really pathetically distracted turn I played.

Eventually, I realized I was putting a lot more work into redirecting my thought from work to the game than I would spend if I just sat down and wrote this post (the inspiration I was missing, ironically found in trying to avoid the whole situation).

So back to the question at hand:

Can you really ever set your weight aside and not deal with it in some manner?  I think a case can be made for one's ability to set weight aside.  Chances are if you're a huge Michigan State fan, you were able to set aside your weight concerns as you watched the game this weekend.

Completely unexpected life situations might be enough to jar you out of a weight obsession for a while.  Same with a grand epiphany.

But can a person set it aside long term without reaching some kind of resolution or acceptance of it?  Can one hide from it for, let's say a month or two, and not give it a thought?

I don't know.  I've seen people say it's possible.  From my own experience, when I don't feel like I am at a healthy weight, I can ignore the thought for hours -- but not days.

What about you?  How do you handle not being happy with your size?  How often do you think about it?  And, if you could retrain yourself to be mindful of your eating decisions, would you be spending any more time thinking in that direction than you already are being unhappy about your weight?

Click the comments button and tell me what you think.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thought for the Day....

There's a difference between an interest and a commitment.  When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient.  When you're committed to soemthing, you accept no excuses; only results.  --Kenneth Blanchard