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??  


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 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, or sign up for a complimentary mini-session by clicking on the calendar button below. 


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

The Reality…
I had 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??  


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??  


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??  


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??  


The Powerful Truth About Stress and Thought

The Reality…
In a recent blog I offered ten tips to reduce stress, stress and stress management being one of the three components of the Optimal Health Triad 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 and clean up your thoughts about your life circumstance and stressors.
The Challenge…
To reiterate, if you fail to manage your stress, your mind and body may experience some undesirable side effects, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, premature aging, mood disorders, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.  Stress is also linked to poor dietary choices and hormonal imbalance that keep you overweight.  It can be very challenging to manage your thoughts about your life circumstances and the things that cause you stress, but managing those thoughts is the key to managing the stress and reducing its impact on the body.
The Solution…
So, how do you clean up your thoughts?  Thoughts seem to happen automatically, so it may feel impossible to change them, but it is possible.  And changing your thoughts is key to everything from managing your stress to getting the results you want in any area of your life. 
I learned a neat trick called modeling when I did my coaching certification with the Life Coach School.  The idea behind modeling is that all of us operate under “unintentional models” which reflect what we are “unintentionally” doing in our lives that are leading us to the undesirable results are currently getting.  The acronym for the model is CTFAR, and the acronym translates as follows: C = Circumstances, T= Thoughts, F = Feelings, A= Actions, and R = Results.  Under the model, any circumstances you encounter in life are simply neutral facts that are neither good nor bad, at least until we think a thought about those neutral facts.  Our thoughts about life circumstances cause us to feel a certain way, and the feelings we feel lead us to take a certain action.  Ultimately, the actions we take give us our results.  For example, if something we consider stressful occurs during our day triggers our conditioned thought that “when I am stressed, I eat everything in sight”, you may feel, for example, weak or disappointed in yourself.  And when you feel weak or disappointed in yourself, you may take the action of making yourself feel better by indulging in food.  The result you will get when you try to make yourself feel better with food is that you gain weight, or at the very least, you don’t lose weight.  
Above was an example of an “unintentional model”, and we want to replace the unintentional models we are currently operating under with “intentional models” that will lead us to our “intended” & desired results.  Using the above example of stress, if something we would ordinarily consider stressful occurs during our day, we can be conscious about it and decide in advance to think a more productive thought about it, such as “stress creates an opportunity for me to treat myself with extra care.”  Instead of generating a feeling of weakness or disappointment, your new thought may make you feel nurtured or strong, and those feelings can lead you to renewed dedication to your weight loss goals, which will ultimately result in losing weight versus gaining weight. 
If you are not achieving the results you desire, you must examine the results you are getting and track them back up to the thoughts you are thinking that are leading you to the undesirable result.  It always starts with a thought!  If stress and stress eating are interfering with your weight loss, try cleaning up your thoughts about your stress and life circumstances, which are actually neutral versus good or bad.
Thanks Brooke Castillo and the Life Coach School for developing such a powerful tool for change!
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??  


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.
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??