To Get or To Gain...That Is the Question.

Question: Would you rather win a million dollars or earn it?

Honestly. No wrong answer. Think about it.

If you win it you get it right away, nothing you have to do.

To earn it you are going to have to learn some skills, do some tough things, work hard, face some fears. Oh, and it’s going to take some time.

Most of us are like “Umm…duh, give me the money!”

So, here’s another question, which would make you prouder?

If someone asks, “How’d you get your wealth? How’d you afford that nice house? How are you able to be so generous?”

How would you like to answer?

I’ve got some clients who are killing it right now (10 lbs in 6 weeks, 20 lbs in a few months, 30 lbs over the summer) but here’s the thing, sometimes they get discouraged because they feel like it’s not happening fast enough.

And I feel compassion for them because they are bombarded with messages about super fast weight loss plans. They see infomercials and social media posts and Instagram pics about dramatic transformations and it feels like that’s how it’s supposed to be if you are doing it “right”.  

Did you know the weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry? You’re probably not surprised.

Companies and coaches are for competing for space in the market, fighting to be seen, fighting to be heard.

Quick results sell.

Easy sells.

Dramatic transformations sell.

“Take this supplement to melt away all your fat” sells.

For those of us who’ve been doing this for a while we know the truth.

Quick doesn’t last.

Dramatic isn’t sustainable.

Easy isn’t worth anything.

I’ve seen it time and time again. And so have you.

These quick fix programs don’t work. Why? Because they teach the HOW but not the WHY.

The how is important but that’s easy part. The why is the hard part. Without understanding the WHY you will just be jumping from diet plan to diet plan, supplement to supplement, 30-day detox to 21-day challenge.

WHY did you gain in the first place? WHY are you struggling to get it off? WHY did it come back? WHY has food become so powerful?

My clients are doing the hard work.

They are digging deep and unveiling the why.

They are learning how to really listen to their body and give it what it needs.

They are learning how to create a plan that works for them.

They are learning how to catch their thoughts and manage their mind.

They are learning how to feel their emotions instead of eating them away.

They are learning how to live in integrity with themselves.

They are learning how to show up for themselves like never before.

They are learning how to feel fear but move forward anyway.

They are learning that they are incredibly valuable and worthy just as they are and because of that they deserve the best self-care possible.

We are doing the hard work and anything worth anything takes some time. It takes some fails. It takes some courage. It takes some honesty.

So, they are not taking the easy route. Instead, they are earning every pound, every inch, every size lost.

And because of what they are learning along the way this is quite possibly the last time they will ever have to lose this weight.

This isn’t the easy sell. I don’t promise quick and easy and dramatic. I promise something so much more valuable. I promise a new relationship with food, with your body and with yourself.

I promise that what you EARN through this process is something that no one can ever take away.

And it’s something you will be incredibly proud of.

What If You Fail?

It's scary to fail.

Correction, it's scary to think about failing. 

Some of my clients can't bear the idea of failing. 

Often they'll be scared to even start working with me because "I've already failed so many times. I'm so scared to fail again."

The fear of failing prevents them from trying.  

I get it. The idea of failing is painful. 

What if you don't lose the weight?

What if the scale doesn't go down? 

What if you can't overcome the emotional eating? 

What if you never reach your goals?

What if....

I know, I know, this is the part where I'm supposed to say "But what if you succeed?". 

But I'm not going to say that. In fact,  I don't want you to imagine succeeding. 

I want you to imagine failing. 

Your brain will tell you that failure is the worst thing that can happen. 

It's not. 

It’s totally okay. 

And the thing is, if you do try then you will definitely "fail" at things along the way. 

It’s not because you are bad, have no willpower, lack self-discipline, have an eating problem, have a food addiction, will never change or anything else negative that comes to mind.

It's because you are human and that's part of the experience. 

It's because anything worth anything comes with some scrapes and bruises along the way.

It’s because you are learning a new skill and new skills take time to develop.

learning new skills

Imagine a child trying to learn a new sport. Do you scream at her because she doesn’t get it right the first time…or second…or tenth even?

Do you tell her she’ll never be a great soccer player because she missed that goal in the first game?

Do you tell her she’ll never be a good basketball player as she’s still learning to dribble?

Do you shame her because she didn’t win her first swim meet?

Of course not. That would be untrue, abusive and cruel.

Do not do that to yourself. Ever.

Here is what you should not do if you “fail”:

1.   Say mean things to yourself.

2.   Give up or “throw away” the day.

3. Decide it's never going to work. 

4. Determine there is something wrong with you. 

Here is what you should do:

1.   Observe the situation with curiosity & compassion.

2.   Ask yourself, “What’s going on Love?” or “Hmm…what happened there?”

3.   Come up with a game plan for the next time.

4. Keep moving towards your goal. 

Here's what I know for absolute certain: If you do not try you will not reach your goal. You are guaranteed failure.  

But here's a radical idea I want you tor try on: what if there is no such thing as failure as long as you try? What if you are only ever succeeding or learning

Imagine how amazing that approach to weight loss would make you feel.

Imagine how it might just change everything.

How To Set Goals You'll Actually Reach

Ever set a goal for yourself and not reach it? Yeah, me too. 

Each time we set a goal for ourselves and then don't reach it we risk increasing our belief that it's not possible for us. 

The thing is, it is possible. Whether your goal is to lose weight, eat better, workout more, run a 5K, finish a triathlon, or just feel better, it is absolutely, 100% possible for you.

However, not all goals are created equal and this is where we can get into trouble. 

So, how do we set goals that we'll actually reach?  Here are a few things to consider that you might not have heard before that can help you set amazing goals that you'll actually reach. 

reaching for goals.jpg

Set Goals Based on Desire, Not “Shoulds”.

Too often we set goals based on "shoulds".

"I "should" get up earlier, I "should" drink more water, I "should" exercise more, I "should" plan better, I "should" eat more veggies, I "should" lose weight, I "should" stop eating sugar..."

 But, do you want to?  

All of the above goals are great, if you really want to do them. If you don't though...

If you are just doing them because you think you should or some trainer/nutritionist/book/co-worker/family member/friend told you that you should?

Well, I can pretty much guarantee it won't happen. Not because you aren't good enough or don't have willpower but because the most important ingredient to setting good goals? Desire.

 The actions themselves don’t mean anything if they are not connected to a greater desire.

Not eating sugar is miserable unless finally fitting in that dress is even more desirable than that cupcake.

Working out can be tough unless feeling fit & stronger is even more desirable than a Netflix binge.

Eating broccoli instead of French fries is not fun unless your desire to be free from food is more powerful than your desire for deep fried goodness. 

So, instead of setting arbitrary goals because you “should”, aim to set goals that instantly make you smile. Set goals that make your heart flutter. Set goals that give you butterflies. Set goals that make you whisper to yourself "could I really do that?" and then, get just a get a little giddy at the thought. 

 Focus on the “What” & “Why”, not the “How”.

IMG_7331.JPG

Let’s talk about the "how trap". Here is what often happens: We pick a goal and then we start figuring out HOW to reach that goal.

Makes sense, right? It's what we've always been taught to do. "You need a good plan", "proper planning is key", "if you don't have a plan you are planning to fail". Any of these sound familiar?

Now, I'm not saying planning doesn't have its place, sure.

However, what often happens when we jump straight to planning? Our brain kind of freaks out and starts to say things like "it's impossible!", "maybe for others but not for you", "you will fail miserable and make a complete fool of yourself".

I know, the brain kind of seems like a jerk, but, believe it or not, the brain is just trying to help us. It's trying to protect us from the unknown.

The brain is trying to protect us from failing because the brain believes that if we try something new and fail (*gasp*) we might literally die. Or, at least be completely shunned from society which is just as bad (the brain can be a bit dramatic!).

So, instead, don't focus on the how. Or, at least don't worry if you don't know the how.

Keep focusing on the WHAT & the WHY.

Focus on the feeling.

Trust that the how will come to you. Perhaps just one step at a time. That's okay though, you just need to know the next step...and then the next....and then the next. You will figure out the how as you go.

Filter In What’s Helpful

Let’s talk about something called the Reticular Activating System. (Okay, I'm kind of geeking out here because I love to talk about this. I find this to be extremely interesting and helpful!)

 There is a LOT to say about the reticular activating system so I'm going to break this down into a few parts.

brain filter.jpg

 First, what the heck IS the reticular activating system? It's a part of the brain that is connected to our senses (all but smell) that helps us process and filter information.  

 Let me give you number that will blow your mind 🤯 (no pun intended).  Every second the brain process 4 BILLION (yes, billion) bits of information.

 If we were actually aware of all of all the data that is coming at us there is no way we'd be able to function. So, our brain decides what is important and necessary and pushes everything else to the background.

 So, what does this have to do with our goals?  

 Have you ever been in the market for a new car and suddenly you see that car everywhere?  That's the RAS working. You've "told" it that this is something important to you and it is "allowing" it into your awareness. Are there really suddenly (& ironically) way more of that car on the road? No! It's just that now you are noticing them.

 I want to go back to the fact that we don't always need to know the HOW. Focus on the thing that you really want. Feel the emotion of that goal.  The good emotions attached to the goal are letting your RAS know that this is REALLY important to you.  Then, trust your brain to filter in the information you will need to figure out the HOW as you need to know it. Sit back, relax, and take it a step at a time.

 This short (less than 5 min long) video does a great job of explaining the RAS and how we can use it to help us reach our goals.

 The Power Of Positive Self-Talk

So now that we know about the Reticular Activating System, let’s use it to our advantage.

 What's interesting is that the RAS does not care if something is actually true, it simple listens to what you tell it and then filters in evidence of that. The brain likes things to be congruent! It wants consistent evidence of what you believe to be true (even in the belief is painful).

Self-talk, then, is incredibly important & can be used as a powerful tool when it comes to reaching our goals.

 For example, if you say "I have no self-control, I will never lose weight!", the brain does not argue back.  It says "Okay, you have no self-control and will never lose weight. Got it. Here is a bunch of evidence to back up that belief".

 If you say things to yourself like "I can't.....(fill in the blank - lose weight, eat healthy, be consistent with a workout routine; run that 5K ... ) regardless of whether it's actually true, your brain will help you find evidence to prove you are right.

 So, start to practice saying what you WANT to be true as if it is ALREADY true.

Don't try to swing to an extreme (your brain is smart...I mean, it is your brain.) Instead, try things like "I am consistent with my workout plan" or "I take good care of myself" or "I love to eat foods that fuel me and give me long-lasting energy".

 Be careful not to use words like "wish" or "should" or "want". Instead, talk about it like it is already happening, like it is already true.

 It might feel funny at first, but keep at it. As you make this a habit your RAS will begin to help you find situations, give you tools, & bring things into your awareness that lead you toward your goals.

Write & Visualize

Let’s discuss a few practical ways that you can keep your goals in focus and help your Reticular Activating System filter in the things that will help you achieve success:

1. Write 'em down! 

There is power in writing. I know people who write their goals and look at them daily. I know others who write their goals down on New Year’s day and don’t look at them again until the end of the year.  

Either way, there is something powerful about writing them out, pen to paper, to help your brain remember & move towards them.

letter.jpg

2. Write a letter from the future.

Write a letter to your current self from the future.

It could be yourself in a year, or two or five. Either way, write about what you hope to happen as if it already has. Feel the emotion and describe what your life is like now that you have achieved your goals. 

Give your current self some advice from your future self. What wisdom does she have that can help you know? 

3. Visualize.

For this you can use something like meditation, a vision board or even Pinterest. Either way, spend a few minutes each week (or day) visualizing your ideal self living your ideal life.

Again, focus on the emotion more than the “things”. How do you feel? Calm? Happy? Excited? All of the above? Be specific in what you want and enjoy the indulgence of visualizing it. 

To wrap it up, setting good goals is about so much more than just being specific, or realistic, or giving yourself a time-table (although those can help).

It’s important that you connect to your deepest desires, give yourself permission to go for it, trust the path you are on & ultimately become your own biggest fan along the way.

Passion led us here.jpg

Exercise & Weight Loss

Can You Lose Weight Without Exercising? (The Answer Might Surprise You!)

I'm going to tell you something that might shock you. Ready?

You do not have to workout to lose weight.

shocked.jpg

Wait....what?? I'm a personal trainer telling you that you do not have to workout to lose weight??

Yep, that is EXACTLY what I am saying. You do not have to workout to lose weight.

I know this might be shocking because so many of us have been taught to associate weight loss with exercise.

In fact, when we want to lose weight it's often the first solution we turn to. Many people's first thought when they want to lose weight is "I better start working out".

It almost never works.

Especially as women, we have been drilled with the idea that we must workout to burn calories so that we lose weight. It's so deeply ingrained in us that some clients actually get defensive when I tell them they don't have to workout.

But it's true. Weight loss is truly about diet & regulating hormones. It's not about sweat equity.

In fact, it's not uncommon to see people GAIN weight when they start working out. I've seen people train for marathons & gain weight. I've seen people train for triathlons and gain weight. I've seen people join Cross Fit and gain weight. I've seen people lift weights and gain weight.

Working out does not equal weight loss.

"But...it helps, right?"

Sometimes. But probably not for reasons most people think. It's not because you are "burning off" your food.

In fact, sometimes working out at the beginning of a weight loss journey can do more harm than good: 

  • It can cause you to feel overwhelmed. (It's helpful to focus on one thing at a time.)
  • It can cause a disruption in your hormones so you feel hungrier. (This will go away once you get your diet on track and regulate your hormones but it takes some time.)
  • It can cause you to feel you need to eat more to "fuel your workout" or to "refuel" after. (Often this is not necessary.)
  • It can cause you to justify eating certain things, or eating more of certain things, because you worked out. (I worked out today so it's totally fine to eat this box of cookies.)

This can all can lead to confusion and unwanted results.

"So....don't workout then?".

I love to workout. I do it a lot. But not to lose weight or burn calories.

I do it because it's fun.

I do it because it makes me feel strong.

I do it because I like to feel healthy.

I do it as an example for my daughters.

I do it to tone & have muscle definition.

I do it to help prevent osteoporosis.

I do it as a way to socialize.

I do it as a way to have some time to myself.

I do it for therapy.

I do it because I can.

So, if your main goal is weight loss, here is what I recommend in the beginning of your journey:

  1. Workout only if you want to. Exercise because it makes you feel happy, strong & healthy.
  2. If you are already working out you can keep doing what you are doing or even take it down a notch as you adjust to a new diet protocol. Don't try to do more. It will most likely backfire.
  3. If you are not working out already it's totally fine. Give yourself some time to just focus on the diet part and when your ready, see recommendation #1.

Do NOT:

  1. Workout to punish yourself.
  2. Workout to burn calories.
  3. Workout because you "messed up" your eating protocol.
  4. Workout because you think you "should".

If it's overwhelming at first allow yourself to just do what you can, when you can without any pressure. Walking and light yoga are great options when you are first getting started. (Here is a website that has some great free yoga workouts for beginners: Do Yoga With Me. Another great, free resource is Fitness Blender. They have many beginner workout options.) 

As you lose the weight, re-calibrate your hormones, increase energy and start to feel better you can increase your workouts based on your fitness/physique goals & what feels right for you.

There is no magic workout. I say this all the time to my clients. The best workouts are the ones that you will actually do. So, have fun with this, take the pressure of "have to" off the table and decide what your reasons for working out are.

Still not convinced? Check out this great video called The Science Is In: Exercise Is Not The Best Way To Lose Weight. 

Overwhelm: The Goal Killer

The beginning stages of weight loss can be challenging.

This is because losing weight requires that we make changes. We must learn new information, practice new skills and implement new habits.

All of these changes can be hard, and it often leads to a feeling of overwhelm.

But, here’s the problem: overwhelm never helps. In fact, overwhelm is a goal killer.

Think about this, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Most likely, nothing. Overwhelm often leads to paralysis. We feel stuck, unsure of how to proceed.

Notice your thoughts when you feel overwhelmed. They might include things such as:

“I’m not sure what to do.”

“I’ll never learn all of this.”

“It’s too much!”

“I can’t get it done!”

“I’m too far behind.”

“I don’t know where to begin.”

“I’m so stressed!”

“There is too much to do.”

“There isn’t enough time.”

Notice how these thoughts make you feel. Most likely they don’t leave you feeling excited, inspired and motivated. In fact, they probably make you want to just grab the pint of ice cream and camp out on the couch binge-watching Netflix. (No? Just me?)

We often assume that overwhelm will go away when the circumstances change.

 “It will be easier when I have more time.”

“It will be easier when I have more money.”

“It will be easier when things at work calm down.”

“It will be easier once it’s summer and school is out.”

“It will be easier once summer is over and the kids go back to school!” 😉

When we are waiting for something external to change, we take the power away from ourselves. How do we take the power back? 

I want to offer you a powerful idea: overwhelm is a choice.

This doesn’t mean that the stresses in your life are not real. I’m not suggesting it’s “all in your head” or that you should just put on a fake smile and act like you have it all together when you are going through something tough.

What I am offering you is the idea that you can work on how you think about things in order to help yourself through it.

If your ultimate goal is to lose weight, you already know that there are certain actions you need to take consistently in order to get to your goal.

Actions start with an emotion. If I feel motivated, I will move forward, even if it’s hard. If I feel overwhelmed, I stay stuck, even if it’s simple.

We don’t have to wait for that motivation to come from something outside of us. Instead, we can simple work on how we are thinking in order to move past overwhelm and into motivation.

This is incredibly empowering. If you understand this and start to practice this, then you can create an endless source of inspiration for yourself, regardless of what is happening around you.

It starts with your thoughts. When you are feeling overwhelmed, notice what you are thinking. Then, decide to change it.

Here are some alternative thoughts you can think when you start to feel overwhelm:

“I’m strong and capable; I can do this.”

“I’ve got this!”

“I’m figuring this out.”

“I can do hard things.”

“One step at a time.”

“Any action I take is good.”

“There are lots of right paths.”

“I don’t get overwhelmed.”

“I only have to focus on this moment.”

“It’s all happening exactly as it should.”

“Life is bringing me everything I need to make this happen.”

“This is exciting!”

“I have so many good resources available to me.”

“This is part of the journey.”

“It’s an adventure!”

Adventure.jpg

You might think, “Yeah, that sounds great, but isn’t it wishful thinking?”

This is where it gets fun. We don’t have to figure out which thought is “true”; we simply get to pick the thoughts that best serve us.

The thought “this is so hard” is just as true as “I can do this”. The question is, which one moves you towards your goal?

So, don’t let overwhelm kill your dreams. Don’t allow yourself to indulge in inaction. Instead, compassionately observe what you are thinking and then decide to pick thoughts that better serve you. Not only will this move you toward your goals, but you’ll feel amazing and have fun in the process.

Handling Hunger When Trying To Lose Weight

hunger.jpg

WHAT IS HUNGER?

Hunger is a physiological request for energy.

Notice, the key word there is request. Your body wants energy & it can get it one of two ways.

One way is for you to eat something containing energy in the form of calories.  This includes carbohydrates, fats & proteins.

The other way is to access energy internally by breaking down and using its own fat stores. This process is called lipolysis and it’s a natural (and wonderful) thing that our body is designed to do during times of fasting (whether it’s a 2 hour fast or a 2-week fast).

OUR BODY’S NATURAL BUFFET

Stored fat, found in “fat cells” called adipocytes & muscles, is used primarily a fuel source. When our body needs energy between meals it can break down fat & convert it to energy. The key is giving it a chance to do so.

When we are always feeding our bodies the minute we feel hunger (especially if that food is refined carbs, flour and/or sugar) our body never needs, or gets a chance, to access our stored fat. Not only do we not lose weight, we continue to gain. 

Giving our body “breaks” from food and digesting allows it to focus its energy on other things (like healing) while it accesses stored fat for energy.

IT’S NORMAL (& HEALTHY) TO BE SCARED OF HUNGER

The physical symptoms of hunger can feel scary! And with good reason. They are uncomfortable on purpose. The desire to reduce them has kept us alive and allowed us to evolve as a species. If we did not feel the symptoms of hunger, we would not feel motivated to find food.

You might also have been taught some scary messages around hunger such as:

-        If I don’t eat my blood sugar will drop

-        I won’t be able to focus or get my work done

-        My metabolism will slow down & my body will hold onto fat

-        My body will “eat” muscle if I don’t feed it

IT’S OKAY (& BENEFICIAL) TO OBSERVE SOME HUNGER

The truth is that we are living in a time when we never have to feel hunger. We are surrounded by food and we can eat almost immediately whenever we start to feel the uncomfortable symptoms of hunger.

The problem is, if we do this it is very hard to lose weight. Not so much because we are consuming too many calories but because we are never giving our bodies the chance to “dine in” by accessing all the energy we already have on our bodies.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I FEEL HUNGRY?

So, some hunger is good and allows for the natural process of using our stored fat which in turn leads to weight loss.

But, it’s no fun to feel hungry. So, what do we do when it happens?

First, just observe it. Most of us respond to it so quickly that we never really allow ourselves to experience it. Embrace it with curiosity instead of fear. See if you can describe it as if you are explaining it to someone who has never felt hunger before.

Next, notice that it comes in waves. If you give your body a chance, it will realize that it needs to start burning fat for fuel and this will cause the hunger to decrease or go away completely for a bit.

Drink something. Water, tea, coffee, seltzer water, anything that does not contain calories is fine. Sometimes this will do the trick and reduce the feelings of hunger.

Finally, if the hunger persists and you decide you want to eat outside of a planned meal time, try a low carb snack such as a handful of nuts, a spoonful of natural nut butter or a few ounces of cheese. This will curb the hunger without raising blood sugar.

OVER-HUNGER vs. NORMAL HUNGER

When you first start your weight loss journey your body is most likely unbalanced hormonally.  This means that you might feel hunger quite often as you learn how to regulate and rebalance your hormones and shift your body into a state called fat adaptation.

Fat adaptation means that your body can more easily shift into a fat burning state between meals. This happens when we stabilize hormones such as insulin, leptin (fullness hormone) and ghrelin (hunger hormone).

Be patient with this this process. It’s normal to feel a bit “off” as your body is going through a time of detoxing and rebalancing. As you eat more unprocessed, whole foods your hormone levels will regulate and you’ll notice less hunger, more energy & increased fat loss.

PHYSIOLOGICAL HUNGER vs. PSYCHOLOGICAL HUNGER

Physiological hunger cues include things such as stomach growling or rumbling, an empty feeling in the stomach, stomach “pangs” and in some cases light nausea or light-headiness.

Psychological hunger, on the other hand, is craving a specific food (usually sugar or refined carbohydrates) regardless of whether we need sustenance. In fact, you might be quite full and still experience psychological hunger. 

Psychological hunger is often triggered by negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, fear, or boredom. (Although it’s important to note that positive emotions such as happiness, excitement & relief can also trigger psychological hunger for some.)

Why do we crave certain foods when we experience these emotions? Because they are concentrated forms of substances that give us a large release of dopamine in our brain. Dopamine is brain chemical that makes us feel good.  Often, we crave foods because this dopamine hit gives us temporary relief from negative emotions that we don’t want to experience or are not sure how to handle.

It’s important to note that this might all be happening on a very subconscious level. Part of reversing this is to simply be aware and observe what is happening with compassionate curiosity instead of judgement.  

HUNGER vs. STARVATION

Let me be clear that while some hunger is okay, and even necessary for weight loss, we are not trying to starve ourselves. Starving ourselves is when we do not give our body the necessary macronutrients (carbs, fats & proteins) and/or micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) it needs to function properly.

It’s very important that you are planning and eating nutritious meals regularly. You want to make sure that your body understands that it is going to get all the fuel & nutrients that it needs to function. Denying yourself food or eating only very small amounts over a long period of time can result in weight loss but it will also result in great stress and very negative long-term consequences to your body. This is a form of disordered eating, not healthy eating.

While we don’t want to fear hunger, we certainly don’t want to fear food or eating either!

THE HUNGER SCALE

Use the hunger scale below to monitor your hunger levels. You want to manage your hunger by eating when you feel hunger between a -2 and a -4. Stop eating when your hunger is between a positive 2 and 4.

Keep in mind in takes the brain about 20 minutes to realize the stomach is full. It’s important to eat slowly and mindfully. Allow your brain to “catch up” to your stomach.

You can always go back and eat more. You can’t undo overeating once it’s done.

The Hunger Scale.png