Five Strategies to Successfully Avoid the “Eating Out” Backslide

 
The Reality…
I have my clients journal daily as to the following components of weight loss: (1) stress management, (2) exercise, and (3) diet.  When it comes to diet, there seems to be a common theme that takes my clients off course with their weight loss, and the same issue took me off course many times in my own weight loss journey.
The Challenge…
Imagine this scenario: you’re busily working away when a friend texts to invite you to dinner.  This is the very excuse you’ve been waiting for to close the books on your workday.  Instead of heading home to your leftover grilled salmon salad, you find yourself in a restaurant.  The smells of deliciousness are wafting through the air, and in that moment your weight loss goals no longer seem important.  At the very least, you’re willing to give them a “one day” delay to fully enjoy the evening. 
If this only happened every so often, you might actually experience only a slight delay in reaching your weight loss goals.  However, we are presented with countless opportunities to eat out, and oftentimes we take them.
The Solution…
Eating out too often while you are trying to lose weight will definitely interfere with your success.  Try the five strategies below to avoid the “eating out” backslide. 
1.              Know when to Say YES and NO.   The key is to know these impromptu invites are coming, and to decide in advance how often you are going to say YES.  If you commit yourself to only one meal out each week until you reach your weight loss goal, you must decline any additional invitations, at least for that week.
2.              Redefine Your Purpose in Dining Out. Make eating out a purpose driven event rather than an eating event. If your family wants to celebrate a birthday or accomplishment at a favorite restaurant, let that be the focus of the experience and commit, in advance, that you are there to celebrate, not eat and drink. With that perspective in mind, look at the menu of the restaurant in advance and select a healthy alternative that you will most definitely order when you are there. 
3.              Manage Portion Size. The portions served in restaurants these days are, simply put, insane.  Made for giants, and not mere female mortals like you and me.  Remind yourself that you simply do not need to eat everything on your plate just because it’s there. Take a doggie bag home and stretch out that meal for one to two additional meals.  Or better yet, if the meal is not particularly healthy, leave what remains on your plate in the restaurant and in your past. 
4.              Redefine the Activities Involving the People with Whom You Would Ordinarily be Dining Out.   It is possible to enjoy time with together by engaging in activities that do not include the consumption of food and beverages.  Some ideas to chew on (pun intended):  take a walk in the park or at the beach or somewhere else in nature, or take dance lessons together.  The point is there are tons of low-calorie/no-calorie options for sharing time with people, so redefine how you spend your time, at least while you are working towards your weight loss goals.
5.              Plan in Advance.  Part of my weight loss coaching is to have clients plan each week, in advance, what they will eat and drink, including when they will eat out, and when they will enjoy any dessert or drinks.  We do have the power to plan for what we WILL and WILL NOT do when it comes to food and drink intake, and planning in advance reduces considerably the likelihood that you will too often experience the “eating out” backslide during your weight loss journey.  
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 Stop Eating your Way Around Your Feelings

We all know the terminology, and lots of us engage in it with regularity.  Stress Eating.  Emotional Eating.  The reference is to any type of eating that is triggered by something OTHER THAN how hungry our bodies actually are in the moment.  We are literally on autopilot and have no idea whether or not we are actually hungry when we put food in our mouths.  
A body in hormonal balance that is operating optimally at a healthy body weight only signals the brain for food when it is in need of fuel to operate.  Any desire for food at other times, such as to avoid or resolve something emotional uncomfortable or stressful, will ultimately lead to the consumption of more calories than the body needs, which will be stored on the body as fat.   
The Challenge…
Most of us are in the habit of immediately satisfying any urge we feel to eat.  To eliminate unnecessary overeating, we must tune into our bodies so we know when we are experiencing true hunger signals and when we are not.  If our bodies are truly in need of fuel, it will send that message to the brain.  True hunger is typically accompanied by some sort of physical sensation, such as a growling stomach.  However, in the case of stress or emotional eating, the signal to eat is sent from the brain, as a thought, to the body.  The thoughts leading us to eat our stress or emotions might sound something like this:   
1.     That looks so delicious
2.     I deserve that after the hard day I have had
3.     That will taste amazing
4.     I will feel better if I eat that
If you’re overweight, you have likely created and rewarded that desire so often that is has become unconscious and automatic.  It may feel you are eating against your will, and essentially you are. 
But why?  Desire to eat often comes from and unconscious effort to numb or avoid unpleasant feelings about things we are experiencing in life. Most of us are not taught how to manage our emotions, so we turn to food to dull or distract ourselves.
The Solution…
One of my brilliant clients developed the “Cucumber Test” to help her determine whether she was truly hungry or her body was telling her to eat for another reason.  I told her up front I was stealing this concept and sharing it, so here’s how it goes:  She has cut cucumbers ready to eat.  When she finds herself feeling hungry in between planned meals, she invites herself to have the cucumbers as a snack.  She told herself that if she’s truly hungry, her body will welcome the cucumbers for fuel and they will taste delicious.  However, if she simply doesn’t want the cucumbers, it must be that she’s desiring a snack for a reason other than hunger. 
I found this to be an excellent way to become aware of what’s going on in the moment.  What’s more, she finds that when she’s truly hungry, the cucumbers do taste delicious and they do satisfy her hunger.  Of course, when she’s being triggered by stress or emotions, she doesn’t desire the cucumbers because she instead has the urge to eat something sweet. 
Once you have determined that your body isn’t really hungry but you still have the urge to eat, then what? There are three basic paths you can choose.  We don’t usually make a conscious choice, but we can learn to do so. 
  1. Eat the thing you desire
  2. Try to resist the urge
  3. Allow the urge and let it pass
By eating what you desire when you aren’t truly hungry, you only reinforce the urge for purposes of indulging in the future.  Resisting the urge is certainly better than succumbing to it.  However, resisting an urge with willpower only lasts for so long before you indulge the urge, at which time the urge can be even stronger than it was initially since it has been denied.  The goal is for you to unlearn desire by allowing the urges to be there without responding to them.  The brain will eventually learn and stop sending you the urge message (like a misbehaving child who eventually stops begging when they do not get the response they want).  By the way, the first two options leave you with two problems to solve:  the consequences of your overeating AND the problem you were trying to avoid in the first place.  
Please try my client’s Cucumber Test (or some variation of it) to gauge whether you’re experiencing true physical hunger.  If not, recognize the urge for what it is, understand why you’re feeling it, and then allow it to pass unsatisfied.  I promise you, you will not die from allowing an urge to pass unsatisfied.  In time you will experience the urges less and less as your brain and body learn that you only satisfy a true physical need for fuel.  
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into learning how to break the pattern of emotional and stress 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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Developing a Simple Protocol to Achieve Weight Loss

The Reality…
Many of us struggling to shed a few pounds are overwhelmed not only by the sheer number of diets available to try, but also conflicting information as to what is healthy for our bodies.  Also, the complexity of information on nutrition and dieting can make sticking with a plan through the achievement of a weight loss goal difficult, if not impossible.  There is likewise an overwhelming amount of decisions to make when it comes to exercise.  No wonder so many people quit BEFORE they even have a plan in place!
The Challenge… 
The word “Protocol” is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as “a detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment, or procedure.”  Despite the definition, it is possible to create a SIMPLE protocol to help you achieve a healthy weight. 
The Solution…
My work with weight loss clients incorporates something called the Weight Loss Triangle Program.  The theory of the program is that weight loss is impacted by three factors: (1) Food and Drink Intake – what you put in your mouth, (2) Exercise – how you burn calories, and (3) Stress & Stress Management – how to effectively manage life stress.  Based upon the individual factors and preferences of each client, a simple protocol is developed to put them on the road to achieving a healthy weight. 
Using the considerations below, a protocol is developed and followed by the client until they achieve their desired weight and level of health:
1.     Food and Drink Intake – based upon the client’s schedule, eating times and food and drink to be consumed are determined in advance.  The client decides how quickly or slowly they desire their weight loss to occur, and we plan accordingly.  Many clients elect to incorporate in “planned cheats” each week. The natural consequence of this decision, of course, is that weight loss comes at a slower pace, but the client is more content and less likely to abandon the eating plan since it is specifically designed based upon their goals, objective, and schedule. “Planned cheats” can include desert once a week, two free meals eating out each week, a certain number of permitted alcoholic beverages each week.  
2.    Exercise – based up the client’s schedule and current level of fitness, exercises to be performed, amount of time to be spent and days to exercise are determined in advance.  Again, the amount of exercise the client elects can very based upon how much effort they wish to expend, or their schedule in the upcoming week.
3.     Stress & Stress Management– depending upon the level of stress in the client’s life, we work together to develop stress management techniques that are meaningful to the client, and we decide in advance when the client will incorporate those techniques to effectively manage stress, and the effects of stress which can interfere with weight loss. 
Developing a weight loss protocol in advance translates to a much higher success rate for achieving weight loss goals than figuring it out “on the fly” each day.  To increase your likelihood of success, develop a weight loss protocol using the above considerations and three factors.   
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss and developing a protocol for 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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Ten Tips to Manage Stress

The Reality…
Stress hits us from many different directions in today’s world.  And some of our sources of stress are delivered to us non-stop via the Internet.  According to a recent study, American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media.  It’s no wonder we are more stressed than ever before.  
Aside from what’s going on “out there” that we read about online and otherwise, we have our own personal stressors.  Work-related stress is a major source of personal stress.  A recent Forbes article reported the following survey results for workplace trends in 2019:
  • 76% of respondents said workplace stress “had a negative impact on their personal relationships”
  • 66% have lost sleep due to work-related stress
  • 16% have quit jobs because stress became too overwhelming.
Add additional personal stressors such as relationship conflict and money challenges to the mix, and it’s no wonder so many people are suffering.  According to the Global Organization for Stress, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in month prior to the survey and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year.
Sadly, we don’t even need to see the statistics, watch the news or go online to know stress is on the rise.  We feel it in our own bodies.  In fact, stress may be one of the primary reasons we find ourselves living in an overweight body, and maybe even trying to medicate against health challenges such as high blood pressure. 
The Challenge…
If you allow stress to go unchecked, 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 can also lend itself to poor dietary choices, which contribute to unhealthy weight gain and obesity.
How do you cope with your stress?  Do you do anything proactive to manage it?  Or do you give it free reign to lessen the quality of your life and your health?  Does stress impact your relationships?  Does stress keep you up at night?  Have you wanted to your quit your job because you found it too stressful?  Can you look in the mirror and see it on your face?
The Solution…
The truth is that if you don’t manage stress, it will manage you.  And it will seriously impact the quality of your life, your health, and your efforts at weight loss.  Below are ten tips to reduce your level of stress.  Each one will be explored in more detail in upcoming blogs because I consider stress management to be key to maintaining a healthy body, and a happy life.  I recommend you incorporate some sort of stress relief into each day to counter balance the inevitability of stressful situations that will present themselves in your life.  A mindful daily practice of stress management will help avoid the accumulation of stress in your mind and body, which can lead you to chronic stress and put you at risk for significant health problems.  Try some of these and see which ones work for you.
  1. Meditation
  2. Yoga
  3. Exercise 
  4. Spend time in nature
  5. Plan your week in advance
  6. Work on improving your organization skills
  7.  Learn to say NO to too many commitments
  8. Optimize your sleeping environment for a good night’s sleep
  9. Examine how you spend your time and incorporate more life balance
  10. Examine, and work on, your thoughts about your life circumstance and stressors
The Invitation….
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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Three Tips for Moving Beyond Diet Slip Ups

The Reality…
You devised a plan to lose weight.  Maybe it wasn’t the first plan you ever made.  Maybe there have been many plans. 
You are an intelligent, successful woman, and you are well aware of the basics of weight loss.  It’s a simple matter of making sure the calories expended with exercise exceed the calories consumed with food and drink.  Add a dash of willpower to make the difference between what you want to eat and drink, and what you will eat and drink to ensure weight loss.  And add an extra dash of willpower to get you to the gym when you really don’t care to be there.
To make the math work, you decided exactly what you were going to eat and drink, and exactly what exercise you would do and when.  You felt 100 percent committed and, in that moment of strength, you promised yourself to let absolutely nothing stand in your way of losing weight this time.
How has that worked for you?
During my weight loss journey, I would spend lots and lots of time making an intricate and detailed plan for how I was going to accomplish my goal.  I planned the minutia of it, right down to what music I would listen to while I was on the treadmill.  I compiled motivational playlists!  I made charts to hang on my wall!
However, despite all that beautiful planning, I would literally throw all of it out the window in the next moment if the right set of tempting circumstances presented themselves. What took me off track? It might be an invitation for dinner, where I would inevitably succumb to the smell of the food in the restaurant.  Other times, I would have an urge for something sugary or salty, and I would quickly take whatever action necessary to satisfy the urge.  What actually took me off track was my inability to predict what was going on inside my mind and body, and plan a strategy for it.
The Challenge…
Why is our commitment to weight loss so fleeting, when it seemed so strong?  And when the urge to eat something that will take you off course with your diet arises, why do we find ourselves so eager to write off the whole plan off rather than merely chalking it up to a minor bump on the road to good health? 
The biology and psychology of overeating is a very interesting thing indeed, and it lends itself very nicely to guiding you off the path to good health, no matter your level of commitment.  The reasons won’t be identical for all of us, but there’s a good chance that what’s going on in the inside the body and brain is the culprit when we so blatantly let ourselves down.
Below are three tips for not letting a diet mistake take you completely off course.   
The Solution… 

1.  Redefine the significance of what a diet mistake means to your weight loss journey.  First and foremost, as human beings, mistakes are inevitable and predictable. Recognize the inevitability and predictability of the fact that you will make mistakes on your weight loss journey, and use that knowledge to your advantage.  You can start to find strength in the simple knowledge that you WILL go off track at some point, and that going off track does not have to mean the end of the weight loss journey.  Redefine it in your mind as “just an expected and simple bump in the road” and carry on toward your goal. 

2.  Understand what is likely going on inside your body.  You didn’t get overweight because one or two times in your life you disregarded a healthy lifestyle, or because you made a bad food choice here and there.  Instead, overweight people have a pattern of overeating, triggered in part by an exaggerated desire for food, typically unhealthy foods. Overweight people have usually conditioned themselves to indulge every urge for food, and they likely desire highly concentrated foods containing a lot of sugar and flour.  The high doses of dopamine that come with indulging in those foods just makes the urge, and the pattern of satisfying the urge, that much stronger and harder to break.  An overweight person feels like they have no control over their eating, even when they have committed to a diet, and in many ways that is true.  If you’re overweight, what do you usually do when you have an urge to eat?  I would guess you satisfy it as soon as possible.  Part of breaking the cycle is to understand that not all urges are true physical hunger based upon the body’s need for fuel to operate. And not all urges must be satisfied.  

3.  Learn how to allow an urge without satisfying it, and let it pass.  In time, the urges will come less and less as your brain learns that you will no longer satisfy every request for food.  If you satisfy the urge, you only make it stronger and habitual.  If you use willpower to resist an urge, the desire is still lingering there and only gets stronger over time.  Eventually your willpower fails because willpower only lasts for so long.  The only real choice is to understand that you must re-train yourself to allow urges to be there, and then let them pass unmet.  Eventually your body will only signal you when there is a true physical hunger.

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 Use Meditation Mantras to Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

The Reality… 

Have you ever heard that the thoughts you think directly impact the results you get in life?  There are dozens of quotes circulating that point to that truth.  I love reading them because not only do they highlight and confirm a universal truth, but they also show how long historically thoughts about thought have been thought!  Here are a few of my favorites:

·                  “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes” – Mahatma Gandhi
·                “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives” – Henry David Thoreau
·             “Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true” – Napoleon Hill
·                “Anything you can imagine you can make real” – Jules Verne
·                “Our life is what our thoughts make it” – Marcus Aurelius
·                “As someone thinks within himself, so he is” – Proverbs 23:7
So, assuming the truth of the matter, that your thoughts make your life what it will be, if you are a person who thinks good things are going to happen, then good things are more likely to show up.  If you are a person who always sees the negative in everything, you probably have some more negative stuff coming your way. 
The Challenge…
What if you are a person who truly wants a great life, filled with great successes, experiences and people, but you are plagued by a history of negativity and negative thought?  What if you are an overweight person who truly believes there is no possibility for living in a healthy body?  You know the answer, right?  As long as those are your thoughts, you likely won’t have very much success overcoming your weight loss challenges.  The good news is that it’s possible to recondition your brain to think great thoughts, and one option for reconditioning your brain is with the use of meditation and meditation mantras.
The Solution… 
Meditation is an excellent tool to help shift your mindset on any issue, including health and weight loss.  As you focus during meditation, the brain is much more susceptible to new and improved thoughts such as solutions, positivity, and goal achievement.  With the help of meditation, people can learn to better control their thought processes and improve their concentration. 
The development of meditation mantras, which can also be read during the course of your normal day, can aid in the process of shifting your mindset through meditation.  For example, repeating the mantra “I am a person committed to regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle” or “I only desire healthy and nutritious foods” or “I love every cell of my body” may sound completely untrue the first time you whisper it to yourself, but in time and with focus and concentration through meditation, your brain will come to believe it, your paradigm will shift, and you will have come a long from a previous mindset such as “I will never be able to lose this weight!”  Meditating on empowering thoughts for just 15 minutes a day can result in a tremendous shift. 
Why not give positive thinking a try and figure out for yourself if history’s greatest thinkers were on to something when they said the results we get in life start with our thoughts?  I challenge you to develop 10 meditation mantras that are positively stated and meaningful to your goals and spend no less than 15 minutes each day repeating those mantras in a meditative state.
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??  

📅

The Secret of Time Management in Weight Loss

The Reality…
Doing everything that must be done to succeed at weight loss can be daunting.  You have to figure out what you’re going to do for exercise.  You have to figure out when you are able to fit that into your schedule.  If you’re planning to work out right after work, you have to have an exercise bag packed and ready to go in the morning.  You also have to figure out when you’re eating and what you’re eating.  You have to go to the grocery store and buy healthy food options.  You have to spend time preparing the meals.  Finally, you have to decide what you’re going to do to reduce your stress and make time for those activities.  Sometimes taking the time out to “reduce the stress” can create stress itself because your mind might wander to all the things you have to get back to when you’re finished de-stressing. 
The Challenge…
It can be a challenge to pull everything together on top of your existing life obligations.   Planning in advance and time management is key to the process of ensuring you effectively manage the three components of weight loss:  diet, exercise and stress management. 
The Solution…
My work with weight loss clients incorporates something called the Weight Loss Triangle Program.  The theory of the program is that weight loss is impacted by three factors: (1) Food and Drink Intake – what you put in your mouth, (2) Exercise – how you burn calories, and (3) Stress & Stress Management – how to effectively manage life stress.  Based upon the individual factors and preferences of each client, a simple protocol is developed to put them on the road to achieving a healthy weight.  Clients are encouraged to reserve a two hour period on Sundays to plan in advance what they will do each day of the upcoming week to achieve their weight loss goals. 
Using the considerations below, a protocol is developed and followed by the client until they achieve their desired weight and level of health:
  • Food and Drink Intake – based upon the client’s schedule, eating times and food and drink to be consumed are determined in advance.  The client decides how quickly or slowly they desire their weight loss to occur, and we plan accordingly.  Many clients elect to incorporate in “planned cheats” each week. The natural consequence of this decision, of course, is that weight loss comes at a slower pace, but the client is more content and less likely to abandon the eating plan since it is specifically designed based upon their goals, objective, and schedule. “Planned cheats” can include desert once a week, two free meals eating out each week, a certain number of permitted alcoholic beverages each week. 
  • Exercise – b:ased up the client’s schedule and current level of fitness, exercises to be performed, amount of time to be spent and days to exercise are determined in advance.  Again, the amount of exercise the client elects can very based upon how much effort they wish to expend, or their schedule in the upcoming week
    • Stress Management– depending upon the level of stress in the client’s life, we work together to develop stress management techniques that are meaningful to the client, and we decide in advance when the client will incorporate those techniques to effectively manage stress, and the effects of stress which can interfere with weight loss. 
Using time management and planning in advance translates to a much higher success rate for achieving weight loss goals than figuring it out “on the fly” each day.  
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 Mingle Celebrating Life and Weight Loss

 

The Reality…
 
My daughter just celebrated her birthday this past week! 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??  

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The Sugar Seduction & How to Stay Strong

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

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

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

The Solution…

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

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

📅