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??  

Five Things You Should Know About Happiness and Weight Loss

The Reality…

The truth is being dissatisfied with the way you look or feel can be a very unhappy-making experience.  But which comes first, the unhappiness or the extra weight?  I would argue that happier people make better choices for themselves, which may keep them from becoming overweight in the first place, and at the very least will make taking action to lose weight that much easier than it would be for a person plagued with unhappy thoughts.
The Challenge…

If you consider weight loss a prerequisite to your happiness, you may want to consider plan reorganization.  You may find it a challenge to love yourself as an overweight person (that’s right, and exactly as you are right this moment), but the fact is self-love, happiness, respect for, and commitment to, oneself will ideally proceed, or be undertaken in conjunction with, weight loss. 

Happiness is truly an inside job. It is never based upon what is going on “out there”, meaning what others think, say or do, or negative world events.  Happiness is a choice we make internally, for ourselves.  And so is unhappiness.  As human beings, we have the power to decide whether we will chose thoughts that lead us to positive or negative feelings.  It stands to reason that the decisions we make when we are experiencing negative feelings will lead us to very different results in life than the decisions we make when we are experiencing positive feelings and emotions.  Negative thoughts and feelings can cause us to seek solace in food, or not value, in the moment, the long term goals and values we have set for ourselves.  Conversely, positive thoughts and emotions can be very empowering, and lead us down a very different path.  The path we go down, meaning the actions we take as a result of our thoughts and feelings, will leads us to a particular result.  Not coincidentally, positive thoughts (routinely thought by happy people) will get you positive results (in weight loss, and everything else in life).  And negative thoughts (routinely thought by unhappy people) will get you negative results (in weight loss, and everything else in life).

So it comes in very handy that you literally get to choose whether to be happy or unhappy.  It seems like a no-brainer to me, but if you’re not quite sure yet which would be the better choice, review five things you need to know about happiness that will result in actions that will impact your weight loss.  If you never lost a pound, wouldn’t this be a better way to live anyhow!?

The Solution…

Below are five things you need to know about how happiness and weight loss go hand-in-hand:

  1. Happy People Make Healthier Choices
  2. Happy People Produce Lower Levels of the Stress Hormone Cortisol
  3. Happy People Enjoy Living in the Moment
  4. Happy People Have a Higher Level of Respect for Themselves
  5. Happy People Honor Commitments to Themselves
The Invitation….

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

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What You Need to Know About Five Hormones that Impact Weight Loss

The Reality… 
As women, we have probably all been accused at one point or another of being hormonal. Perhaps a little insulting, but actually true.  With that said, all humans are full of hormones, not just women!  If you’re overweight, those hormones are likely not as balanced as they should be.  The bottom line is all bodies have a unique hormonal response to food, drink and lifestyle, and you must have the utmost respect for your hormones and determine, through experimentation, what works best for your body to bring it into hormonal balance.  
How do you know when you’re in hormonal balance?  Your moods stabilize.  You naturally maintain a healthy weight.  Your body sends messages that it’s time to eat only when it is in true need for fuel.  And when you are satiated, your body sends the message that you are full and should stop eating.  While you are working to achieve your ideal body weight, you must appreciate and yield to the power that your hormones have to not only wreak havoc on your weight loss but also make you feel pretty darn uncomfortable in your skin when they aren’t balance.  Hormones also have the power to bring your body back in balance and allow you to achieve a healthy weight for life.  
Below are five hormones that can impact weight loss for women:

  1. Cortisol
  2. Ghrelin
  3. Leptin
  4. Insulin
  5. Estrogen 
The Challenge…
When the five hormones above are out of balance, they can prove a challenge to your weight loss plans.  Further, in some case, going on a diet will impact your hormones and impact your weight loss plans.  Below is a brief description of each hormone.
Cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. High cortisol concentrations increase abdominal fat, the type of fat more closely linked to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Ghrelin.  Ghrelin, made in the stomach, is the hormone that stimulates appetite.   Your body is designed for survival so when you begin a diet and reduce calorie intake, ghrelin levels increase and make you hungry to protect you from starvation.  
Leptin.  Leptin is a hormone that is secreted from your fat cells, and it signals your body when it’s full and should stop eating.  Overweight and obese people have high levels of leptin, but the leptin signal isn’t working due to a condition known as leptin resistance. Leptin resistance can cause hunger even though the body has more than sufficient fat stores, and can also negatively impact the number of calories that are burned.
Insulin.  Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use.  Like with leptin, if you regularly eat a lot of sugar, your body produces an elevated level of insulin and over time your cells are less responsive to the presence of insulin and become insulin resistant.  Intermittent fasting, the topic of two of my recent blogs, has been associated with improved insulin sensitivity. 
Estrogen.  Estrogen is made in the ovaries, and plays a role in body-fat distribution. Many women report that changing estrogen levels affect their weight, particularly around menopause. They may notice that they are gaining weight, or that it is more difficult to lose weight.
The Solution…
The brief descriptions above do not even scratch the surface of the intricacy and interplay between your hormones, and how they can potentially impact weight loss.  And as I mentioned above, each person has a unique hormonal response to a given set of circumstances.  However, the basics on these hormones is a starting point and you now have information about which hormones are relevant to weight loss.  I would highly recommend as you embark on a weight loss journey that you make it your business to know all about the hormones that will impact your weight loss success, and pay particular attention to your unique hormonal responses.  Knowledge is power when it comes to your hormones, and knowing what is going on inside as you attempt to lose weight can put any temporary failures you experience in perspective for you.  As you research, bear in mind there is conflicting data out there, especially on the internet.  The good news is that incorporating into your lifestyle the three components we target in my 6-week weight loss program “Weight Loss for Stressed Out Ladies” (healthy diet, exercise and stress management) will help bring your hormone levels into balance over time and help you achieve a healthy lifestyle. 
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??  

Three Ways to Know if You have a Sugar Addiction and What to Do About it

The Reality… 
According to the National Institute of Health, sugar comprises 15% of the diets of American adults, and this statistic does not include foods with naturally occurring sugars such as fruit and milk.  In short, Americans are eating too much sugar, and the statistics on overweight and obesity support that position.  Excessive sugar consumption is linked to numerous health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease.
What if I told you eliminating sugar might be as hard as an alcoholic conquering his desire to drink or a drug addict giving up the drugs that are destroying his life?  We think of addictions in terms of THOSE kinds of things, but a study by the National Institute of Health reports that sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases opioids and dopamine and might have addictive potential.  To any of us who love sugar, addictive “potential” seems more like addictive “certainty.” 
The Challenge… 
Avoiding sugar can be a challenge for several reasons.  First and foremost, it has addictive qualities so once we have had a taste of it and it makes us feel so good, we don’t want to avoid it.  From the outset, our desire is working against us.  And the marketplace is at the ready to feed the addiction.  About 80 percent of packaged food items you will find in the grocery store contain added sugars.  And it’s even worse with drinks.  Next time you drink a soda, flip the can around and feast your eyes on the sugar content displayed.  Cans and bottles of contain about 40 grams of sugar, and there are drinks on the market that are even worse than that.  According to the American Heart Association, the most added sugar a woman should eat in a day are 25 grams, so even indulging in one soda will exceed the recommended daily limit.  And typically we are not stopping with one can of soda. You will also find sugar in lots of other favorites as well:  Fruit juices (just as sugary as soft drinks, ladies), candies/sweets, baked goods, fruits canned in syrups, and low-fat or diet foods all contain way too much added sugar.  Make sure to read those labels and if sugar is listed first, quickly return that choice to the grocery store shelf.  
If you have trouble avoiding the sweet stuff you might have a sugar addiction to contend with, and if you’re trying to lose the extra weight the sugar gave you, you must overcome the sugar addiction first. 
The Solution…
If you experience any of the following symptoms related to your consumption of sugar, you may have a sugar addition to overcome before you will experience success with weight loss.
Cravings.  When you eliminate or cut back your sugar intake, do you crave it and think about it all the time?  If you crave sugar constantly, there’s a good chance you have a sugar addiction. 

Bingeing.  When you consume sugary foods, are you able to enjoy a small and moderate amount at a time…just a little nibble?  Or is it a full-on binge that doesn’t end until all evidence of sugar in your immediate area have been consumed?  If you binge on sugar, rather than enjoy it in small and infrequent doses, there’s a good chance you are addicted to sugar. 

Withdrawal.  When you don’t consume sugar, what happens in your body?  Have you experienced any of the following symptoms?  If so, you might have a sugar addition.
  • Cravings
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
If you are overweight, reducing the amount of the sugar consume won’t be easy at first because you’ve likely developed a sugar addiction.  However, reducing or eliminating the amount of sugar in your diet will not only reduce your risk for the health conditions listed above, but it will also help you lose weight.  Expect the discomfort that will inevitably occur, but do so with the knowledge and certainty that reducing sugar intake is not only best for your long-term health, but also necessary for weight loss. 
You have to decide whether to completely eliminate or simply reduce the amount of sugar you consume.  Complete elimination, or “going cold turkey” is going to hurt, but the truth is reducing sugar is probably going to hurt a little as well.  After all, breaking addictions always hurts, but doing so is always best for your body, mind and spirit.
The prevailing recommendation seems to be that you should work your way up to a no-sugar diet so that you gradually recondition every part of your body from your taste buds to your brain that sugar is no longer going to be a main attraction in your diet and is no longer going to be the answer to your stressors and problems.  A gradual reduction of sugar seems to be the less painful alternative, and of course, will result in slower weight loss which is perfectly fine.  For long-term conditioning and permanent results, it might be better to approach your weight loss, including reduction of sugar intake, as a marathon rather than a sprint. 
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??  

Elevating your Weight Loss Success through Meditation

The Reality…
Yoga International describes the real meaning of meditation as follows:  
“Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified.
In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens.”
The Challenge…
There are many different ways to bring oneself into a “meditative” state.  There are walking meditations.  There are meditations sitting cross-legged with erect spine and focusing on the inhale and exhale.  There are movement meditations such as Qigong or Tai Chi, which incorporate a sequence of body posture and movement and breathing.  And there are mantra meditations, where a certain mantra is the focal point of the meditation.  In each variation, the common theme is a clear and relaxed mind which focuses inward and away from the external world – and in so doing, being fully present in the NOW and detached from thoughts of the past or anticipation.  The stillness that results from a regular meditation practice has countless health and lifestyle benefits.  So, the question then becomes whether meditation can help with weight loss? 
The Solution…  
Any method of meditation can help with weight loss. 
First, meditation brings about a calmness and clarity in the mind which has been linked in studies to decreased emotional eating, increased awareness of their bodily sensations, and reduced food cravings.  Oftentimes dietary choices are made from our unruly primitive brain, which is the “toddler” of our brain structure.  The primitive brain wants immediate gratification and directs us to indulge every food urge that arises as quickly and unhealthily as possible.  A stillness of the mind results from a regular meditation practice, and the effects can be to quiet the primitive brain in favor of our more rational prefrontal cortex, who is the “elder wise man” of our brain.  The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that remembers the “big picture” and your long-term goal of living with a healthy weight and body.  Meditation can bring about the calmness and clarity that allows your prefrontal cortex to remain in charge of food choices and allows an urge for unhealthy options to pass unsatisfied in favor of the long-term goal.  Sitting quietly in a meditative state also gives a person the space to process their thoughts, challenge their limiting beliefs about what is possible for their health, and raise their standards of what they want for their mind and body. 

Meditation can also reduce excessive amounts of cortisol produced in the body from chronic stress.  Chronic stress is associated with a greater concentration of fats in the abdomen, which is also linked not only weight gain but also higher mortality. One study revealed that meditation literally reduces the density of brain tissue associated with anxiety and worrying, and by effectively reducing stress, can help with weight loss.

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??  


Spending Time in Nature – A Big Sigh of Stress Relief

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.  One of those tips, a personal favorite of mine, was to spend time in nature.  I don’t know about you, but I feel a little more at peace just looking at the picture above.  I imagine myself sitting just where the woman in the picture is seated.  She must feel the pleasure of rest after exerting herself to reach where she is seated and now enjoying the beauty of nature.  I imagine how much more incredible it would be to witness that view in person.  I imagine the sounds of nature she must be hearing.  I can’t see any birds in the picture, but perhaps they are there, and chirping away with a variety of beautiful sounds.  Or maybe there is complete stillness and silence, equally as beautiful and even more peaceful.  I imagine the smell of the fresh air and the outdoors and nature.  I imagine how the air must feel filling up her lungs.  I imagine the feel of the sun beating down upon her skin.  Perhaps there is a nice breeze that causes her hair to lay to the left side of her back and neck.  Ahhhh.
The Challenge…
If you’re trying to lose weight and living a high stress lifestyle, not only should you be paying attention to the food and drink you consume and the frequency and intensity of your exercise, but you should also be mindful of managing your stress.  Stress produces the hormone cortisol (also known as the “stress hormone”), and can most definitely interfere with your ability to lose weight.  Spending time in nature is a great way to relieve stress, and I personally indulge is this form of stress relief every single day.
The Solution… 
Nature offers a delight for each of our senses, and it is no wonder that spending time in nature can help relieve stress and elevate mood.  Each morning when I walk in nature at a local park, I tune into each of my senses to not only be fully present in that moment but also to fully detach from the things that cause stress in my life.  I notice the trees and wildlife and body of water I see.  I smell the mossy smells of the lake and the flowers and the air.  I listen to the crickets and the birds.  I feel the breeze against my skin and the moistness of the morning air.  It’s my single favorite practice for reducing stress and spending time alone with myself in preparation for the day ahead, and I highly recommend it.
Aside from potentially boosting your activity level and getting your body in motion, spending time in nature by taking a walk in a park, garden, beach or amongst many trees is great for your mental well-being and feeling of happiness.  
Have you heard of “forest bathing”?  I had not.  “Forest bathing”, also known as Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, is the practice of simply being in the forest or wooded area, and it is said to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” and it was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
According to http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/, among the scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku are:
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep
Maybe you’re not close to a forest or heavily wooded area to regularly indulge “forest bathing,” but any time you can be outside in nature and away from your electronics, traffic and the other noisy demands of your lifestyle, take full advantage and breathe in nature’s big sigh of stress relief.
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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Five Tips to Tame the Silent Saboteur of Weight Loss

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

To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??   

📅