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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When All Else Fails….Try a Little Unconditional Love

 

Relationships with other human beings are just about the trickiest things we have to navigate during our time here on earth!  Those relationships can be our greatest sources of joy and happiness, and at times, pain and suffering.  It seems that all of us have at least one relationship (or two, or three…) that could use some healing.  Just have a conversation with any one of your friends, family members or work colleagues.  It seems as if someone is always complaining about someone or something someone did.  I have definitely fallen into that category a few times too many these days.  There just always seems to be someone, even people I totally love, who are bugging the heck out of me!

It is basic human nature to have gripes with the other people in our lives, but the whole concept of gripes and stressed relationships seems to be on steroids right now as we experience the ups and downs and uncertainty brought to us compliments of COVID-19.  All our hopes and dreams for 2020 were pretty much dashed before the end of the first quarter!  Everything has changed.  The way we live.  The way we work.  The way we travel. The way we move about our communities and experience life.  The way our children are educated.  How could all of that not impact the quality of our relationships?

I have seen some of my closest friends at odds over politics, the handling of COVID-19 by our government, arguments over COVID-19 statistics and when our communities should re-open, and of course, the recent presidential election.  More impact on our relationships!

And while we may be able to conceptually agree that it has been nice to be at home with our families so much more in 2020, I have also witnessed some familial breaking points, visa vi yelling and tears, stemming from a little too much togetherness.

How do we continue to love our friends and family when they are driving us crazy simply because they are around a little more than usual, and how to we continue to love them despite the fact that our political views are diametrically opposed?

The answer is really simple, and really difficult at the same time — Try a Little Unconditional Love.

Love is one of the best emotions we ever get to feel.  So why not try to love our loved ones without condition? Meaning just love them, all the time, completely, with no strings attached.  No matter what they say.  No matter what they do.  No matter what they fail to do.  What could feel better than to just lay down your sharp and pointy weapons and simply love someone you already love?

When I was doing my coaching certification with the Life Coach School, there was a whole chapter in our certification materials on Unconditional Love.  There are lots and lots of reasons people hire a coach, and seeking out a coach as a mechanism to improve relationships is pretty common.

Below are a few of the key concepts I learned that might help you in your efforts to love unconditionally:

  1. We all have a preconceived idea in our heads, based on our experiences and beliefs, about how the other people in our lives should behave.  Guess what?  Those people might have a completely different idea about how they should behave and to add another layer of complication, they probably have a preconceived idea about how you should behave also.  Fertile ground for problems?  You bet it is.  But a simple understanding that the people you love might be operating from a different set of expectations and beliefs can be powerful in understanding the other person and the reasons they fail to behave as you might like.
  2. You have a choice in how you feel about the other people in your life (actually anything in your life).  We pretend as if we have no choice in the matter when we are let down or hurt or aggravated by another person, but we always have a choice. It all starts with our thoughts.  What you choose to think about another person will impact your feelings about them, and ultimately the quality of the relationship.  Watch those thoughts!

This next part comes right from my Life Coach School materials.  They highlight some very good questions useful to explore when experiencing suffering in a relationship:

  1. How do you want to feel about this person?
  2. How do you want to feel right now?
  3. Would it feel better to like this person, or dislike this person?  (Be in a good place with this person, or be at odds with this person?)
  4. Do you know you have the option to love this person unconditionally, regardless of what they do or don’t do?
  5. What is stopping you from unconditionally loving for your own sake?

These are powerful questions to ask yourself when it becomes difficult to unconditionally love our loved ones!  Try it out when you’re struggling.

Cheers to Unconditional Love and the world it would create for all of us!

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How to Be Fully Committed to Yourself and Your Weight Loss Goals

 

The Reality…
 
As we near the end of 2021 and many of us will be setting our weight loss goals for the new year, I wanted to share an interesting conversation with a coaching client last week.  We were discussing her desired weight goal, and that the difference between success and failure would be her level of commitment. I suggested that her level of commitment would be driven by the strength of her relationship with herself, and then I asked her to tell me about the quality of that relationship.  The question confused her initially because, admittedly, she had never given thought to the fact that she even had a relationship with herself.  Like many of us, we think of a relationship in terms of a connection with another person, and we can be committed to another person in ways we would never dream of being committed to ourselves.  The truth is we all have a relationship with ourselves, whether we realize it or not.  Our relationship with ourselves drives how successful we will be when we tell ourselves we are going to do something.  It will determine how we allow other people to treat us and what we will tolerate.  And as it relates to weight loss, it will determine our level of commitment to the process, and ultimately our success or failure.
 
I would argue that the relationship with ourselves is the single most important relationship we will ever have, and the quality of that relationship is solely our responsibility.  And most importantly, the relationship with yourself can begin to improve merely with the recognition that improvement is needed.  If I had to place a wager, I would bet every time that people who are overweight or obese have a good bit of work to do on their relationship with themselves. I include my former self in the description, because until I worked on my relationship with myself, my commitment to things was definitely fleeting. As was the case personally, I would also bet that a failure to address the issue of relationship with self prior to, or in conjunction with, a weight loss plan, will likely result in a failure of any weight loss plan. 
 
As I continued to coach my client, I asked her to consider herself as a separate person when she evaluated the quality of her relationship with herself, and I asked her a series of questions.
 
 
If she were, say, a girlfriend by the name of Sally, how well does she think she treats Sally?  If she made a commitment to Sally, would she keep the commitment or would she back out on Sally at the last minute?   The answer was she was putting Sally last all the time.  She said YES to everyone else, so whenever Sally had a need she felt she had to say NO.  She treated Sally with disrespect.  She actually didn’t even like Sally all that much, and Sally could feel the fact that she wasn’t liked, loved or respected. It’s no wonder Sally didn’t trust her, and didn’t really believe a world that came out of her mouth.  She had disappointed Sally over and over again, and as a result, her relationship with Sally wasn’t a very good one.  
  
The conversation continued for a while with a discussion of the different ways she showed up for the other people in her life.  Like many of us ladies, she was fully committed to all her other relationships and doing her best at all times for those “others,” but her relationship with Sally was an entirely different matter. It was a pivotal session for my client because she experienced the realization that if she didn’t improve her relationship with herself, she would never have the level of commitment needed to make her health a priority and take the action necessary to succeed and meet her goals. 
The Challenge…
 
What would you do if you had a relationship with someone who treated you like that?  What would you advise a loved one if they found themselves in a relationship with someone who treated them so poorly?  And most importantly, if you honestly evaluated your relationship with yourself in the manner described above, what would you learn?  Would you come to realize that you don’t treat yourself very well at all, and that you don’t make yourself a priority?

The challenge lies in redefining your relationship with yourself, and with others, so that you are able to prioritize your own needs and desires.  I’m not recommending that you abandon your work and parenting responsibilities whatsoever, so please do not misunderstand me.  This is more an issue of balancing out the competing demands and making sure your own needs and desires are met.  I am asking you to recognize that in order to have a good relationship with yourself, and to set the tone for how you expect to be treated in relationships with other people, you have to say YES to yourself on the important stuff like health and longevity, even if it means saying NO to others at times. But, how do you start saying NO when you are so used to saying YES to everyone but yourself?

The Solution…
 
The solution is simple, yet at the same time, very hard.   You must learn to say NO so that there is sufficient time to say YES to yourself.  As part of my 6-week weight loss program, clients incorporate solutions to the three different components of weight loss that must be effectively managed to sustain a healthy body weight – food and drink intake, exercise, and stress management techniques.  Additionally, clients will take time to plan what they will do in the upcoming week, in consideration of other responsibilities they must schedule around, to manage those three areas.  Clients understand that they must be 100% committed and “All In” to accomplish their goals.  Once their plan is set for the week, they do not make exceptions (barring a true emergency, of course) for any reason.  Clients recognize that in the past they have not planned at all, or have cancelled their plans for themselves for things far less significant than a true emergency.  In the course of the program, clients learn to respect the commitments they make to themselves, improve their relationship with themselves, and, finally, to just say NO so that they can say YES to themselves.  Please evaluate your relationship with yourself, and decide whether your relationship with yourself might be holding you back from achieving those goals!
The Invitation….
 

Please leave me feedback on this blog, or any questions you might have, as a comment below!  Feedback is greatly appreciated.
 
To get started on a deeper dive into stress management and 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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How to Elevate Beyond Your Grief

 

This blog is a little different for me. 

Brace yourself because you might find this one a little bit of a bummer!

To date, my blogs have been all about life balance, conquering weight loss, and managing stress.  

However, I am writing about something different today for a very important reason.

I recently posted a video declaring to the world (well, the world of Facebook, anyhow) my intention to transform the lives of women.  Here’s the video if you have 7 minutes to spare and don’t mind some woman going on and on about her dreams!


I mentioned in the video how my interest in becoming a life coach and retreat leader was borne out of the tragedy of my brother’s death.

I received several messages from women who saw the video and are struggling with the loss of a family member.

One woman in particular moved me to write this blog.

I don’t know if this blog will help in anyway, but I sure hope so.

I thought of my mission to help women transform their lives in terms of setting and mastering certain high levels goals, such as overcoming fear to start a business or tackling a persistent weight loss struggle.

But how could I not be paying attention to the very thing that lead me to life coaching to begin with?

Women who are struggling with the death of a loved one, especially a child, are in need of more transformation than absolutely anyone!

This blog is specifically for each of those beautiful, loving women who continue to suffer and not live life to the fullest because they have not yet moved past grief.

I am with you one hundred percent.

I am here for you.

I am here to serve you.

I understand what you’re going through.

I once felt the pain you feel.

And today, I am a woman who can speak of my brother and his unexpected death from a complete place of neutrality.

Wait, did I just lose you?

Yes, I said I can speak of my brother’s death from a complete place of neutrality.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love him.

It doesn’t mean I don’t miss him, and wouldn’t give anything to have him back.

It simply means that my life today is about the present moment, the here and now, which is absolutely the only thing any of us ever have. 

This moment only, because no future moments are ever promised.

The loved ones we lost are perfect examples of the fact that no future moments are ever promised.

For what seemed like forever, I couldn’t speak about my brother without crying.

There was life “before” his death, and life “after” his death.  And the “after” part just sucked.

I would relive the morning we found him dead in the water next to his houseboat, in vivid detail, all the time, torturing myself over and over again.

What I learned is that grief is definitely a process, but we get to decide how long we dwell there.

It’s work, and we will have our ups and downs, but it is all within our control.

I had two turning points in my journey of processing and accepting my brother’s death that I wanted to share.

First, I attended a retreat for the purpose of helping move myself beyond my grief. 

I put this in the “I got help” category.

The retreat I attended was one year after his death, when I found myself feeling worse instead of better.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I started to move beyond my grief at that point because I became excited about my own future again. 

I started dreaming of becoming a life coach and retreat leader, and how powerful and impactful that could be.

My focus was shifting away from the tragedy and to my own future, and the excitement and enthusiasm that was building as a result of that shift was so very healing.

If the mind is always focused on the past and pain from the past, the present moment is not enjoyed. 

At all.

And the future.  Forget about it.  No one is thinking about the future when they are in grief.  They are 100% in the past.

As I said, the present moment is all we ever really have.

If you are not focused on the present, you miss out on enjoying all those wonderful people in your life who are still here.

I was headed in the right direction after the retreat, but I still continued to suffer a bit about my brother’s death.

Healing is a journey, and it has “fits and starts” until you reach the final destination.

The second turning point in my journey was during my training to be a life coach with the Life Coach School.

I had the honor of being coached directly by Brooke Castillo, the founder of the Life Coach School.

She’s a total rock star in every possible way, and an inspiration to me and example of what is possible as I attempt to become even half the life coach and entrepreneur she is.

She asked me what I wanted to be coached on, and I said my brother’s death and moving completely past my grief.

She asked me to tell her about it.

What I conveyed were a stream of my “thoughts,” which at the time I thought for sure were “facts.”

I had been thinking those thoughts with such regularity that they had become my beliefs.

He should still be here.

Life will never be the same without him.

His death was the worst thing that ever happened to our family.

I feel guilty about enjoying my life since he didn’t have his anymore.

I felt guilty about all the things in retrospect I felt I should have done differently in our relationship.

I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of being the only child of two aging parents.

Of course, all of that was just in my mind. 

My thoughts.

And my thoughts were delivering exactly the quality of life you would expect. It sucked!

For anyone reading this blog who is grieving the loss of loved one, I invite you to look at your life with the death of your loved one as a dividing line: 

There was life before the death of your loved one.

And now there is life after the death of your loved one.

But there’s more, I don’t mean that in the way I initially mentioned.  The part where life sucks in the “after” part.  

New perspective, and I don’t mean this to sound cold in the slightest, but the past only exists in our minds. 

Life before the death of your loved one is the past and it only exists in your mind.

The circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one are also in the past.

And everything we think about their death gives us a feeling, which drives our actions, and the results and quality of life we get naturally follows.

The past should only serve as information and guidance for the present.

Information and guidance (and maybe some fond memories) are the only value we can ever really get from the past.  So why would we spend too much time there?  Because our mind (our ego) tells us we have to for one reason or another.  

Wouldn’t we be a bad mother or sister if we stopped thinking about it?

Wouldn’t we be an uncaring person?

Would other people judge us?

So instead, use those “I wish I could have’s” to treat the people in your life now with unconditional love.

Don’t tell yourself you’ll never be happy again!  Because guess what? You absolutely won’t be happy again if that’s what you’re thinking.

And who says he should still be here? 

Whoa.  But yes, that’s what Brooke Castillo said to me.  

No one is guaranteed anything in terms of time, and people die all the time before we think they should.  

The past is the past, and our beloved loved ones are now a part of our past.

To the extent the tragedy surrounding someone’s death remains alive, it is only done so in our minds.

Yes, I said those things twice because they are THAT important.

How can you elevate beyond your grief?

I invite you to explore whether it would be ok for you to start thinking of your life “in the now” and prospectively with an eye to the future now that your loved one is gone. 

Which is more likely to lead to a happy life for you?  Continuing to dwell on the circumstances of your loved one’s death and your unthinkable loss, or developing an exciting plan for the next chapter of your life?  You know the answer.

Do you want to be happy?  I hope so.

Would your loved one think it was simply awesome for you to find happiness?  I’m sure of it. 

I know my brother would. 

I know without a doubt he is loving absolutely everything I am doing with my life right now, and totally supporting me from afar.

There are stages of grief, and they are completely normal and part of the process of healing, but please be sure you are moving through them. 

Give yourself a break when you’re feeling lousy.  It’s exactly what happens and I’d probably be more worried about you if you didn’t feel lousy at times.  But don’t feel lousy all the darn time.  Don’t make loss and feeling lousy your identity.  Don’t make it your way of life.  Make it part of the process that you are moving through, and will get through.  

Seek counseling or join a bereavement group if necessary, and a life coach, especially one trained and certified by the Life Coach School, can be a great ally in grief process by showing you where your mind and thoughts are holding you back from working your way through the process.  When you get to the point when you are really ready to start looking forward to the next chapter of your life with excitement and enthusiasm, working with a life coach is an excellent way to get started on that dream building in a supportive setting.

For now, I urge you to give yourself the gift to start thinking (dreaming even) about what the next chapter of your life can be like.  I don’t even know you, but I’m telling you it can be wonderful, even though you lost someone you love.  And you deserve incredible things to come your way after everything you have been through.

You won’t ever have your loved one back in flesh and bone form, but you can honor them with everything you do going forward.

My heart is with every single person who has lost someone they love and are still grieving. 

Make that loss the inspiration to pivot your life to even better things!  That’s what I am doing. I still miss my brother, but I am ten times happier right now than I ever was during his lifetime.

I hope the same for you.

To learn more about Hanley Coaching and our retreat and coaching offerings, please visit our website at https://hanleycoaching.com, or sign up for a complimentary mini-session by clicking on the calendar button below. 

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How to Stay Loyal to Your Weight Loss Goals on Vacation

The Reality…
Has this ever happened to you?  You have a plan to lose weight and you’re doing great, but then vacation time arrives!  As excited as you are to go on vacation, you fear you will lose the momentum you have achieved with your weight loss thus far, and worse, you fear you will gain weight and be discouraged to continue your efforts after vacation. The reality is that it’s hard to maintain a weight loss plan while you are on vacation, but there are strategies you can implement to combat the challenge.
The Challenge…
While vacation plans can involve physical activity, they often time also include lots of eating and drinking.  And more importantly, they take you (and your body) off your usual routine, which includes whatever you have decided to incorporate in terms of diet, exercise and stress management techniques to achieve weight loss.  How will your weight loss plan and your vacation peacefully co-exist?  The key is to plan in advance rather than make decisions on impulse during vacation.  There is no wrong decision so long as it is made in advance with your long-term goals in mind.  And for sure, you must abandon any thoughts that going on vacation will spell the end of your weight loss journey.  Below are a few options for you to consider in advance of your vacation. 
The Solution…
1.     Creating a Deficit.  I recently took a vacation to Peru, and I LOVE Peruvian food.  Needless to say, my advance planning involved creating a deficit for myself so that I could indulge in the local cuisine without feeling totally guilty about it.  So, what do I mean by “creating a deficit”?  My usual exercise routine includes daily walks and a weekly salsa lesson, and more intense cardiovascular exercise three times a week.  I also enjoy a relatively relaxed eating routine, meaning that I eat healthy most days, but I also indulge in dessert a couple of times a week and take in the calories and sugar of the occasional alcoholic beverage.  In the two weeks leading up to my vacation, I increased the number of intense cardiovascular workouts and I passed on all dessert and high caloric or sugary drinks.  By doing this, I created a deficit that I was able to use to offset a little extra vacation eating (and drinking…. Has anyone ever tasted a Pisco Sour??  Yummy, but not the best choice while trying to lose weight!)  It only took two days post-vacation to work off the two pounds I gained while intensely enjoying my travel to Peru.
2.     Incorporate Physical Activity into Your Vacation Plans.  Another way to stay on track with your weight loss plan while on vacation is to plan for some form of daily (or at least frequent) exercise.  In reality, we should have more time for exercise while on vacation than we do when we are at home juggling work, home and other commitments.  The key is to plan it out in advance so that your vacation schedule isn’t so jam packed that you can’t fit it in.  Also, be sure to bring whatever gear will need to make sure it actually happens, such as exercise bras, clothing and shoes.  Using Peru as an example, I knew we would be doing a lot of hiking and walking tours, so the time I needed to spend in the hotel gym was limited.  With advance planning, I was able to fit in some form of exercise each day, which definitely helped limit my overall weight gain during vacation.
3.     Be Intentional with Your Food and Drink Intake.  The truth is you can stay dedicated to your diet while on vacation if you choose to do so.  Even if you make a conscious decision not to be completely on point with your eating and drinking, the track is to be intentional with the specifics of how you will indulge.  As an example, one of my clients who enjoys frequent vacations with her husband makes a conscious choice in advance, depending upon where she is with her current weight, as to how many alcoholic beverages she will enjoy during the vacation, and in how many desserts she will indulge.  She also makes a commitment not to eat beyond the point of feeling full regardless of how much food remains on her plate and how much “free food” is made available.   She only gained a half pound on her last vacation, and she was thrilled since she usually gained on average at least 5 pounds per trip.  She also reported feeling completely satisfied as to food and drink for the entire trip, even though she is now indulging a lot less than she used to while traveling.   
4.     Put Your Weight Loss Plan on Hold During Vacation.  Last but not least, you can make a conscious decision to be lazy and eat like a glutton while on vacation if you choose to do so.  And that is entirely your decision to make.  Of course, the natural consequence of that decision is that you will experience a delay in reaching your weight loss goals, which is fine so long as you are making the decision in advance rather than on impulse.  The key is to make a conscious choice in advance about how you will handle diet and exercise (and stress management if you’re one who experiences stress with travel).  With that said, part of your advance decision making must include a commitment to yourself to get back on track the day following the end of your vacation. 
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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Think Your Way to Healthy & Fit

The Reality…
Decades ago I read a book called “Women Who Think Too Much.”  I bought it because I was oftentimes accused of thinking too much by my loved ones.  Overthinking. Overanalyzing.  Making the lives of everyone around me too difficult, including my own.  Is there a correlation between being an overthinker, happiness and weight gain?
The Challenge…
Overthinking can present a challenge to the achievement of your weight loss goals for several reasons.  First, if you are someone who overthinks a plan to death in an attempt to make sure it is the perfect plan that cannot fail before you are willing to take any action towards weight loss, then you are going to spend too much time planning and not enough time actually taking any action that will lead you to your desired goal.    
Achieving health and well-being, through weight loss if you are overweight, is a very active process.  It’s about taking action, not being in your head.  It’s about proactively taking action to reach your desired goal. People who overthink are obviously spending more time in their heads than they are at the gym or walking in the park.  By way of contrast, overthinking is passive and often results in stress and anxiety which can hinder your weight loss progress, not to mention any other area of your life.
In addition to being passive with your thought processes rather than physically active and working toward your weight loss goals, overthinking presents another issue peripherally related to weight loss.  When we are overthinking, we tend to focus our attention on our dissatisfaction with past events or the worries about the future.   When we are in our heads, we are not in the present moment.  The truth is we should spend only enough time in our heads as it take us to (a) learn a lesson from the past, positive or negative, that gives us a distinction or competitive edge in our decisions about what is happening in life right now, and (b) give us a direction in which to head with regard to our desired result.  To the extent we are caught up in heads and overthinking about the injustice of this event or the fear about some future event, we are creating stress and anxiety in our bodies.  And as we know, stress and anxiety in our bodies can trigger stress eating which can lead to weight gain and can also trigger high levels of cortisol which studies suggest interfere with weight loss.
The Solution…
The solution, of course, is to get out of your head and take action.  Don’t worry about finding the perfect plan or solution before you take action.  Keep track of what you have done, notice if it has worked, and if it hasn’t, change course and try a different action.  Also, spend less time in your head fretting about the past or worrying about the future, and enjoy the present moment.  It’s the only moment you actually ever have because the past is gone and cannot be re-written, and the future is an illusion that may or may not ever happen.  Today is all you ever really have.  Embrace it, be fully present in it, and take action toward your desired goals.
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??  

How to Abandon Your Closet Eating Ways

The Reality…
Closet eating is the act of intentionally eating in solitude the unhealthy foods that are keeping you overweight so that others will not judge what you are putting in your body.  While some overweight people freely consume whatever they desire in front of friends and family, closet eaters feel an unbearable shame in their eating choices and prefer to secretly indulge.  Closet eaters tend to eat healthy foods in front of others, so it may seem to friends and family that their weight challenge must be something outside their control since they seem to be doing all the right things to maintain a healthy weight.  But in reality, they are consuming a lot of unhealthy foods in private that keep them overweight. 
The Challenge…
I had a roommate once who was very overweight.  We routinely made healthy meals together, and also exercised and took walks together, all in an effort to help them lose weight and get healthy.  Nothing seemed to work.  The roommate seemed genuinely confused about why they weren’t losing weight with all the healthy eating and exercise.  They speculated that perhaps some sort of hormonal imbalance was preventing them from losing weight.  One day I found a McDonald’s bag in the outside garbage can and it all made sense to me.  My roommate finally confessed that every time they were in the car alone, they would stop at McDonalds and indulge lots of unhealthy calories in the form of fast food.  Mystery solved.  Our efforts at healthy eating and exercise never stood a chance against the frequent stops at McDonalds.
In the case of my roommate, who was a classic stress eater, there was so much shame involved in the inability to stop overeating that they decided to take it on the “down low.”  What my roommate didn’t understand was that the shame they were feeling about unhealthy eating was just a feeling that came from a thought, and that thought was thought with such repetition, that it eventually became a belief system about weakness and shame and no possibility of every having a healthy body.  Once your mindset becomes fully entrenched in this type of thinking, the results achieved are not too hard to predict. 
The Solution…
The only solution anyone can legitimately offer to someone who is indulges in closet eating is that they must change their thinking about all the factors that are leading them to closet eat:  for example, the thoughts that are making them feel shame and fear of judgment about the unhealthy foods they want to eat, the thoughts that are making them believe it is better to be secretive about unhealthy eating than to make conscious choices to eat healthy and lose weight, and the thoughts that lead them to feel that the indulgence in unhealthy foods is the only thing that will make them feel better about “whatever”.  The starting point for the closet eater to abandon their closet eating ways is to identify what they are thinking when they make the decision to indulge.  Once the closet eater has identified the thoughts they are thinking at the moment they make the decision to go through the drive-through at McDonalds, for example, they can then work toward changing their thoughts and belief systems from disempowering thoughts that are causing them to closet eat and stay overweight to empowering thoughts that will cause them to eat healthy and lose weight.

The bottom line is you implement different strategies to make closet eating less convenient, such as making a commitment to yourself only to eat with others, but the truth is as soon as you are alone and craving you will be right back speaking into the box at McDonalds unless your change your thinking!

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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Five Tips to Tame the Silent Saboteur of Weight Loss

The Reality…
 
Let’s face it, there are tons of ways to fail at weight loss.  It certainly seems a lot easier to fail than it does to succeed, doesn’t it?  
 
Some fails related to diet and exercise are so obvious…you’re out to dinner with friends and you decide FOR the dessert instead of deciding AGAINST it!  Hey, it really seemed like the right choice at the time, and we have all been there.  Or you’re too tired after work so you skip your plan to go to the gym “just this once”.  But how many times has it been “just this once”?  And it’s obvious that if these are your choices with any regularity, your weight loss goal will elude you for sure.  
 
But there is another factor that may be waging a more silent war on your efforts at weight loss while you sleep, or rather while you DON’T sleep.  And this silent saboteur bears some responsibility for your inability to make good choices during your waking hours.  Of course, I’m talking about your inability to get a good night’s sleep.
The Challenge…
 
If any of the statements below resonate with you, the quality of your sleep may be sabotaging your efforts at weight loss:
  •  I feel hungrier on the days that follow sleeplessness.
  •  I get up frequently throughout the night to use the bathroom.
  •  I hit the refrigerator last night when I couldn’t get back to sleep.
  • I stayed up too late to meet a work deadline, and now I’m just too tired to exercise today.  
 
But what’s going on inside the body itself when you’re not getting a good night’s sleep?  
 
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more cortisol, which is the stress hormone associated with fat gain, especially in the stomach area.  Lack of sleep also causes a hormone called ghrelin to rise.  Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone,” and it can make you feel hungry and that you need more food than ordinary to feel satiated.  Finally, not enough sleep makes you cranky.  And who hasn’t made poor food and drink choices when they were cranky?  We tend to seek “comfort foods” at those times, and those foods are typically packed full of sugar and flour….Public Enemy No. 1 (and No. 2) of weight loss.
 
The Solution…
 
Fear not, it’s possible to make relatively simple changes to improve the quality of your sleep, and these simple changes can help your efforts at permanent weight loss.  Try on one or more of the five bedtime changes listed below, and see which of them might fit for you personally:  
 
  1. Create an evening ritual for yourself.  An evening ritual that signals the shift from your stressful day to a restful night sleep can include whatever is meaningful and relaxing to you personally.  What works for me are reading, meditating, a reflection on what I am grateful for, and a warm bath.  A regular pre-bedtime ritual signals your body that the day is now behind you, and a night of regenerating sleep is just ahead so your brain can stop thinking about the day.
  2. Stop drinking and eating at least two to three hours before bedtime.  This will avoid digestive challenges and middle of the night bathroom trips.  Caffeine is said to stay in your system for up to 6 hours, try eliminating the consumption of caffeine within 6 hours of your bedtime and see if that helps. 
  3. Sleep in a completely dark and electronic-free sleeping space.  Darkness not only cues your body to prepare for sleep, but light from electronics can stimulate your body and cue your body to awaken.  The best rule of thumb is to avoid electronics and stimulation such as television programming for at least an hour before bedtime.
  4. Consider if it is time to change up your pillow, mattress or other sleeping paraphernalia.  A too old mattress can wreak havoc on our bodies and the quality of our sleep.  Also, be mindful that your pillow or sheets may contain materials that are triggering an allergic reaction in your body.  The longer your mattress is slept on, the more its components break down and the more “bodily stuff” is trapped inside for you to breathe in every night.  Gross, right?  Even if it is YOUR bodily stuff!  Your bed should be your safe haven and a total treat to climb into.  The comfier and more perfect you find your bed, the more relaxed you are settling in for sleep, and of course, a better night sleep will follow.  Buy silky pillowcases or sheets (or flannel if that’s what you personally find that more cozy), buy some fabric spray to enhance your sleep experience, such as lavender which promotes relaxation.  Have fun experimenting with what will create the ideal sleeping environment for you.
  5. Sex!  Need I say more?  Who doesn’t get a better sleep after sex?  Even if you might feel like you’re too tired, take the time to enjoy a little pre-bedtime activity if you’re lucky enough to share your bed with someone (or even if you’re not). Sexual release makes it easier to fall asleep, and stay that way until morning.  Sex also lowers cortisol, which we already know plays a key role in weight loss.   
So….if you continue to struggle with weight loss and maintaining a healthy body, try getting a good night sleep for a change.  Either way, one less thing working against your efforts at weight loss is a good thing, AND you’ll feel so much better if you’re well rested!
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??   

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How to Craft a Healthy Go-To-Can’t-Refuse Meal

The Reality…

There are really only two things you need to know about me to get a glimpse into my soul.  I love, love, love EGGPLANT.  And I love, love, love SHRIMP.   I have been gravitating towards any dish featuring one of those two items for as long as I can remember.   
One day it occurred to me as I pondered my struggles with maintaining a healthy weight that I really actually do love healthy foods, but like many of us who struggle, I realized that my go-to choices in a pinch were typically something sugary or something salty.  And I was ALWAYS making eating choices in a pinch because I NEVER took the time to plan my meals in advance.  I have come to learn that there are chemical and hormonal reasons we make those sugary and salty choices, and I will explore that in further detail in another blog.  For now, I just want to share with you a recent epiphany I experienced related to my two all-time favorites – eggplant and shrimp, both of which are healthy choices.  
Here’s how the epiphany unfolded in my head….What if I had developed a recipe that included not only one of my favorites, but both of them?  Would I not want to make this healthy meal over and over again, and indulge in its deliciousness as often as possible?  And in doing so, would I not be making better choices for myself than the dish of chocolate that seems to magically refill itself at the office, or those darned snack sized bags of Cheetos and Doritos, neither of which I can get enough of during the work day until they are all gone?  Right then and there I crafted the most delicious salad I have ever tasted, which incorporated so many things that I naturally I love to eat, and only one thing I didn’t particularly love….lettuce!    It’s no surprise that the lettuce happens to taste absolutely delicious surrounded by all my favorites.
The Challenge… 

So maybe you don’t salivate over and crave eggplant…or shrimp…the way I do.  But development of my own healthy recipe was a really effective way for me to incorporate one of my most unfavorite things…salad….into my diet on a regular basis.   Of course, you can short cut this process by finding simple recipes online that feature your healthy favorites.  If you are a fellow lover of eggplant and shrimp, I hope you will give my recipe a try.  Either way, I am going to recommend you develop your own “Go-To-Can’t-Refuse” recipe, which will feature YOUR personal healthy favorites.  If you think you don’t have any healthy favorites, think a little harder because we all do!  If you had a personal chef at your disposal who would prepare for you any healthy dish you desired, what would it feature? 

The Solution… 

Well…this was my solution, and with a little advance planning, has worked wonders for helping me avoid the unhealthy choices available at my office in favor of a healthy homemade choice I bring from home.  If you enjoy eggplant and shrimp, maybe my solution can be one of your solutions to permanent weight loss and healthy eating.  If not, I urge you to take the challenge to develop your own “Go-To-Can’t-Refuse” meal!  Bon Appetit!
Debby’s Signature Shrimp and Eggplant Salad

1 medium to large ripe eggplant
1/2 lb. large uncooked shrimp
Package of Romaine lettuce
Grated Parmesan cheese
Lemon
Old Bay Spice
Garlic salt (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Garlic butter (to taste)
Fresh basil
Tomatoes (optional)
Olive oil
Lemon

Put quart or so of water on stove to heat. Add two tablespoons of old bay spice, salt and pepper, garlic salt, and garlic butter into water while waiting to boil. Rinse shrimp but leave shells on.

Preheat grill to about 400 degrees.  Outdoor grill preferred, but you can broil your eggplant as well, or use an indoor grill on your stove.
Slice eggplant about 1/2 thick and place in gallon zip lock bag. Mix together about half cup of olive oil with sea or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Pour mixture into bag with eggplant. Zip bag leaving air in the bag and shake together eggplant with mixture.

Put eggplant on grill and add shrimp to boiling water (leave uncovered). Cook shrimp for 6-10 minutes – do not overcook. Test one by taking it out of water and running under cold water. It the shell peels off easily and the outside skin is pink it’s done. Turn eggplant frequently but let it get grill marks.

Chop up romaine lettuce and tomatoes, and put in large bowl. Tear up several basil leaves and add. Mix with lemon and remainder of bagged oil mixture for eggplant, if any.

When shrimp are done remove from heat and water. Run cold water over then and take off shells and any veins. Cut into bit size pieces and put in a bowl. Squeeze lemon over the shrimp and let sit.

When eggplant looks a little melted on the inside but crisp on outside take off grill. Cool for 2 mins and then cut into quarters. Add shrimp and eggplant to the bowl and toss. Squeeze rest of lemon over salad and drizzle additional olive oil if desired.
Add grated Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into healthy eating and 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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Five Reasons to Try Intermittent Fasting

The Reality…
 
There are so many different diets out there, it can be overwhelming to assimilate not only the sheer volume of information, but also reconcile the conflicting information you come across in trying to find the right diet for you. 
The Challenge…
I’m 52 years old, and I have struggled to one degree or another since law school to find the PERFECT diet for me…. a diet that wasn’t too terribly complicated or difficult to implement since I had a time-consuming and stressful career as a lawyer, and was a single parent to boot.  You can’t imagine how many different diets I have tried during that close to thirty-year span of time.  At most, I have had temporary success with the different diets I have tried.  I have learned from trial and error, and also watching the successes and failures of my friends, that each human body is different and there is no single RIGHT WAY to achieve and maintain a healthy body.  I entered my 50s still looking for MY right way to do it, and less and less confident that permanent weight loss would be possible at my age. 
Enter Intermittent Fasting.  This past year I tried Intermittent Fasting.  If your eyes are rolling back with skepticism right now, I completely understand.  It’s hard to fathom that Intermittent Fasting could be healthy for your body, especially when many of the latest diet trends recommend small, frequent meals to keep metabolism revved up.  I was well aware of what the naysayers were saying about Intermittent Fasting when I first decided to try it.
Since each person’s body and habits are different, I can tell you right up front that Intermittent Fasting may not be your personal answer to achieving a healthy weight and body.  However, at this point I’m a true believer in its many benefits because I know how I look and feel after adopting it.  
By the way, my brother, who passed away in an accident five years ago, was a big fan of periodic fasting, although the last thing he ever needed was a diet.  He fasted for health and spiritual reasons.  Looking back, perhaps he didn’t need to go on a diet BECAUSE OF his decision to incorporate periods of fasting.  After my own experience, I believe periodic fasting was his secret to a healthy body. 
What is Intermittent Fasting? Intermittent Fasting is basically a pattern that cycles between fasting and eating, essentially defining some window of time in which you eat, with the remaining periods allowing the body to rest and recover via a fast.  We humans naturally fast each evening when we sleep, but Intermittent Fasting incorporates extended periods of fasting into our waking hours. 
Our caveman predecessors experienced periods of fasting whether they wanted to or not since food was not so readily available in those times.  Imagine how much leaner we would be if we actually had to hunt our own food and grow our own fruits and vegetables. Our bodies haven’t changed all that much since caveman times, but our conditioning to desire and consume food, and our accessibility to food, certainly has undergone dramatic change.  The reality is our bodies are more naturally designed for periods of fasting than they are for frequent eating and the consumption of large amounts of food in a sitting.  Don’t you quickly feel that when you’ve eaten way too much??
With Intermittent Fasting, there aren’t really any rules as to what you should or should not eat, so it’s not really a diet in the ordinary sense of “eat so much of this, and don’t eat that.”  There’s none of that, although Intermittent Fasting is certainly more effective if you incorporate healthy food decisions into its basic structure.  I will explore the variety of different Intermittent Fasting methods in a subsequent blog, but for now I want to detail five reasons you might want to give Intermittent Fasting a whirl.
The Solution…
You may want to try Intermittent Fasting for the following five reasons:
  1.  Reduction of calories (weight loss)
  2.  Increases your metabolic rate so you burn more calories (weight loss)
  3.  Reduction of insulin (weight loss and disease prevention)
  4.  Increases human growth hormone (HGH) which promotes cellular repair (anti-aging)
  5.  Improves numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers (heart health)
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??  

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