How to Mingle Celebrating Life and Weight Loss

The Reality…
Today is my beautiful daughter’s 26th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Lauren Victoria Hanley!!
Lauren now lives in Boston and there are many miles between us, so our means of birthday celebration has changed.  However, today I think back fondly on our family’s celebration of life events over the years when we were all together.  When celebrating life events in our family, all roads led to the Melting Pot.  In case you don’t know the restaurant, it’s definitely not a place to hang out on the regular if you’re trying to lose weight.  The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant where you can indulge in a four-course meal featuring cheese fondue, salad, main course, and finally (as if you could possibly need any more food), a yummy pot of chocolate fondue for dessert.  
Celebrating life!  How can we say no to that?  Why would we want to? Celebrating life events is part of the sweetness and joy of life…..…the birthdays, the anniversaries, the promotions, the graduations.  The list of things to celebrate goes on and on.  And while every family celebrates life events differently, there definitely seems to be a food-based theme to most celebrations.
The Challenge…
This “celebrating life” thing can definitely get in the way of weight loss.  I have this awesome client, and whenever we talk through what has taken her off course for the week, it’s usually not stress eating or a failure to incorporate exercise into her routine like most of my other clients.  It usually seems to be her busy schedule of life celebrations.  Her weeks are packed full of kid birthday parties, grand openings, or family celebrations of one kind or another.  There is a lot of happiness taking place in her life, and that’s a great thing!   And like most of us would, she considers each of these events something that she could not possibly miss.  Of course, since she doesn’t miss any of them, and enjoys them to the fullest, when she steps on the scale, she doesn’t usually get news she is happy to hear. 
The Solution…
This is a tough one from a coaching perspective.  Since coaching is all about helping clients achieve goals and design a happy and fulfilling life for themselves, how could you coach them to stop celebrating life??  

The solution lies in balance, especially during the process of losing weight and becoming healthy and fit.  There must be an undoing of what was done to get you overweight, or worse, obese.  If your goal is weight loss, you must be 100% committed, and you must make some tough decisions about how to spend your time, including either saying no to certain events because you have made a decision to limit your eating and drinking during weight loss, or alternatively, a change in the way you experience or partake in the celebrations.

If you find it important to never miss a life celebration with friends or family, then you must make a choice about how you will show up and what you will do while celebrating.  With advance planning, you can attend but not indulge in the food offerings. 

Weight loss involves sacrifice and discomfort for the period of undoing what has been done to your body, but the healthy body you have at the end of the process makes the sacrifice and discomfort well worth it.  


So make a choice about how you will conduct yourself during your period of losing weight.  How many celebrations will you attend during the course of a week?  Will you enjoy the food and drink offered, or will you just show up and be there to be part of the celebration without indulging in food and drink?  And then pay attention to the result you are getting.  If you find that too much celebrating is interfering with your weight loss plan, then decide to show up different for those life celebrations or take a brief reprieve from those celebrations during your period of weight loss.

The Invitation….
I would love your feedback on this blog or any questions as a comment below! 
   
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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Mastering the Juggle – How to Effectively Balance Your Life

The Reality…
In a recent blog I offered ten tips to reduce stress, stress being one of the three components of the Weight Loss Triangle I advocate.  (If you missed it, click here to read Ten Tips to Manage Stress.)  One of the tips offered to reduce stress was to examine how you spend your time and incorporate more balance into your life.  Life balance is one of my favorite topics!  I love this topic because I used to be really, really bad at juggling, and mastering it was key to my current level of happiness and fulfillment.
Balancing the competing areas of our life requires some strong juggling skills, and most of us have not mastered the art of the juggle.  Do you find that when you’re thriving in one area of your life, the other areas seem to suffer a little…or a lot?  Do you get stressed out because of all the competing demands and find yourself unable to keep up?  If you answered yes to either of those questions, you probably need to work on life balance.  Life balance is a necessary component of happiness and fulfillment in life. 
The Challenge…
Our lives are filled with so much wonderful subject matter.  Love and Marriage.  Children.  Friends.  Relationship with Self.  Health and Fitness.  Travel.  Hobbies.  Personal Development.  Spiritually and/or Religion.  Service to Others.  But it’s easy to lose sight of how wonderful each of the areas of your life can be when you’re experiencing stress over how to pay the appropriate amount of attention to each area.  I used to consider some areas of my life necessary, but not necessarily wonderful.  Work.  Home. Finances.  To name a few. My commitment to those areas was more of an obligation and necessity of adult life.  And because of my perspective I didn’t enjoy any of my time spent in those areas. My current perspective is that each area of my life is wonderful and adds to the fullness of my life.  None of it’s a burden and none of it bogs me down.  There’s so much beauty in that balance, but achieving the balance can be tricky. 
The Solution…
The solution I found to creating a healthy balance in life involved the four-step process outlined below.  I believe finding life balance was a key component of managing stress and achieving a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy body weight. 
1.     Identification of Your Areas of Life.  Make a list of the areas of your life, including anything you would like to incorporate prospectively.
2.     Set Goals for Each Area of Your Life.  What kind of relationship do you want to have with your spouse or partner?  Your kids?  How much time do you want to spend with your friends?  How much time do you want to spend on travel?  What are your goals for your professional life?  How much wealth do you wish to build? How do you want to organize and manage your home?  What level of health and fitness are important to you, and how do you get there or maintain? How can you combine different areas to maximize efficiency in your balance?  Can you exercise with a friend or your spouse?  Would your family share a vacation with friends?  If you’re married, some of these will be joint goals.  The point is to spend some time setting a direction for each area so you know where you are headed.
3.     Plan Accordingly.  Part of life balance is planning.  If you are proactively looking at each area of your life as you plan your week ahead, you can be sure to incorporate actions that will not only bring you into balance but also ensure you are headed towards the achievement of your stated goals at all times.  Of course, there will be periods that lack balance for one reason or another, but the key is to always be paying attention to where your time is spent so that you never go too far out of balance and never stray too far from the attainment of your goals in every area of life.
4.     Prioritize.  Clock time is limited, so it helps to establish priority items for a defined period of time.  You can use any time as a frame of reference, meaning for this week, or this month or this quarter, my top priority will be “x” or “x,y, and z”.  Most of my clients are weight loss clients, and we discuss pretty early into the coaching that they must make their health and weight loss goals the top priority if they are to achieve their desired results.  With weight loss, falling into the health and fitness area, as the number one priority until desired results are achieved, a time slot for exercise, food and drink intake and stress management is always reserved and takes priority over everything else. 
I highly recommend trying the four-step process above, or devising your own life balance plan.  Bringing life into balance with evaluation and planning is the key to relieving the stress that comes from being out of balance and pulled in different directions by all the competing areas of your life.
The Invitation….
Please leave me feedback on this blog or any questions as a comment below! 
   
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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The Sugar Seduction & How to Stay Strong

The Reality…
Have you ever met a guy who was so sweet in the beginning of the relationship?  He lured you in with his charm and sweet talk.  You quickly got used to that feeling he gave you and found yourself craving him morning, noon and night.  However, before too long, you weren’t feeling so good at all.  The original sweetness that drew you in had turned into something very unhealthy.  Yet despite how unhealthy it was, you found it very hard to walk away.
THAT KIND OF GUY IS JUST LIKE SUGAR! 
The Challenge…

As is the case with matters of the heart, it can be very challenging to resist the delicious feelings sugar gives us, even after we experience its ill effects and understand intellectually its harm from a health and wellness perspective.  Sugar (and love….and sex) have an addictive quality to them because of the large amount of dopamine that gets pumped into our systems when we are under the influence.  So, understand when you are feeling this way about sugar (or love, or sex), you’re not necessarily crazy or stupid or undisciplined.  It’s your biological predisposition.  You and your brain (the one sending you messages that you’re going to die if you don’t have the sugar…or the love) are operating exactly as designed since both food and sex are necessary to our survival as a species.  When you engage in behavior the brain perceives as necessary for survival, you experience a release of the “feel good” hormone dopamine, which causes the sensation of pleasure, happiness and satisfaction.  The brain’s whole idea is to get you hooked so that you survive, and it seems to work quite nicely.

The tricky part about sugar is that it can lead to changes in dopamine receptors, meaning that a tolerance for it develops and more of the dopamine-inducing substance is needed to get the sought after feel-good feeling.  In some cases, there is a decreased ability to get pleasure from other substances and experiences, so sugar can seem like your only source of pleasure and the only thing that will satisfy you. 

The Solution…

While I would recommend a complete and immediate elimination from your life of the guy described above, I recommend a slower approach with the sugar following the steps below:

  1. Evaluation – Since many of us eat on auto-pilot and aren’t really sure what we have put in our body by the end of the week, it may be useful to spend a week or so evaluating when, how much and under what circumstances you are indulging in the sugar.  This means you have at least an extra week during this evaluation period to carry on your love affair with the sugar, so enjoy it while you can because getting as much sugar as possible out of your diet is fundamental to weight loss and maintaining a healthy body.  During the evaluation period, also notice the content of the food you are consuming.  There are lots of foods that are less obvious about their sugar content.  For instance, you may not feel you are consuming a lot of sugar when you have a shrimp cocktail or a plate of pasta and sauce, but you can consume your entire recommended amount of added sugar in one sitting with a generous portion of either of those options.  Use the evaluation period to really understand how much sugar you consume on a weekly basis, so you can decide which sources of sugar you would prefer to cut from your diet.  For instance, if you’re not ready for an abrupt break up with desserts, you may instead choose to eliminate spaghetti sauce or soda from your diet.
  2. Reduction Plan – Based upon the evaluation of your sugar intake, you should plan to reduce your sugar intake by 50 percent.  You get to decide what sugars you will eliminate.  I personally started with my coffee, and eliminated the sugar I had routinely added to each cup.  I also noticed that I ate dessert far more often than I realized, so I limited myself to 2 desserts per week.  Wine is another option I see with many of my weight loss clients.  Cutting back on the amount wine consumed during the week is beneficial to many factors that impact weight loss, including sugar intake.
  3. Decide Whether to Eat in Moderation or Eliminate Completely – The more slowly you tackle the reduction of sugar from your diet, the less painful it will be.  If you are in the habit of consuming large quantities of sugar, you will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and crankiness when you reduce sugar intake.  It’s up to you whether you attempt to achieve your weight loss goals while continuing to consume a reduced portion of sugar, or whether you decide to eliminate sugar all together.  I still indulge from time to time, but the truth is once I reduced my sugar intake drastically it seemed my taste buds were reset and when I do enjoy a sugary dessert now, it doesn’t taste near as good as I remembering it tasting in the past. For that reason, sugar is no longer able to seduce me into violating my commitment to myself to stay healthy and fit.
The Invitation….
Please leave me feedback on this blog or any questions as a comment below! 
   
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

📅

The Why of Fat Shaming and How to Handle It

“Prejudice of any kind implies that you are identified with the thinking mind.  It means you don’t see the other human being anymore, but only your own concept of that human being.  To reduce the aliveness of another human being to a concept is already a form of violence.” 
Eckhart Tolle
The Reality…
Tonight, I had the privilege of attending an Evening with Eckhart Tolle in Miami.  The experience was very powerful to say the least.  In anticipation of the evening, I have been re-reading Tolle’s best-selling book “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.”  I really love his perspective on the ego and the way the ego strengthens itself through identification with external things, such as possessions or even the physical body itself.  Tolle suggests that in western culture, the physical appearance of the body contributes greatly to our sense of who we think we are, and our relative worth as compared to others.  Hence, our self-worth can be dependent upon our physical strength, external appearance and level of fitness.   As a result of our cultural conditioning, many overweight and obese people have a diminished sense of self-worth because they perceive their body as ugly or imperfect. 
The Challenge…
So, what does all this ego and cultural conditioning stuff have to do with fat shaming? 
Fat shaming is typically discussed in terms of normal weight people criticizing or harassing overweight people about their weight or eating behavior.  A completely unacceptable reality of our society, right? Remember the playboy model who took pictures of an overweight woman in the locker room at the gym, and posted it online for everyone to see along with some completely derogatory and insulting commentary? “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either” were her cruel and inappropriate words.  That case involved an invasion of privacy and there were criminal implications, but wouldn’t it be interesting if everyone who fat-shamed other human beings were held accountable in some manner?  

The playboy model is the perfect example of a deeply unconscious person who seeks to strengthen their own ego by belittling or making others “less than” through criticism or ridicule.   
In my experience, fat shaming is not only coming from the fit and slender people.  There is also a lot of “self-shaming” going on in our society because of our cultural conditioning.  If you’re carrying around a few extra pounds or more, have you personally felt a diminished sense of self-worth because of your weight, or felt “less than” someone better looking or in better physical shape?  Do you have negative thoughts and internal conversations with yourself because your body is less than perfect?  I used to do that to myself regularly, but the weight didn’t come off permanently until I disassociated my sense of self-worth from my level of attractiveness and physical fitness. 
The Solution…
For the overweight or obese person who has experienced the pain of fat shaming, I offer the following:
1.     If you experience fat shaming, try to intellectualize and internalize the inner workings of the person who has subjected you to fat shaming.  They are unconsciously seeking to strengthen their own ego by making comparisons and establishing superiority.  This has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them.
2.     Realize that all structures are unstable, temporary and will eventually yield and fall away.  This includes your physical body and the near-perfect body of the person subjecting you to fat shaming.  Every living body is destined for the same fate.  And placing too much value on external physicality is the cause of great suffering for many when the inevitable deterioration occurs.
3.     According to Tolle, your greatest protection against a deeply unconscious person is to focus on your own consciousness.  Nonreaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways of going beyond your own ego, and also dissolving the collective human ego (and the collective human ego is most definitely a conversation for another day….).
4.     Finally, pay attention to your own internal conversations (thoughts) and make sure you are not engaging in your own form of fat shaming via self-shame.  If your goal is to become a healthier version of your current self, your thought patterns will need to change from self-shaming thoughts to thoughts of self-love and empowerment.
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??