Archive for Nutrition

Log it to lose it! How food journaling gets you to your goals faster.

scheduling for the win!

Second only to scheduling and prioritizing—or where we are spending our ‘life capital,’ our nutrition is one of THE MOST influential aspects of our overall health and fitness.




What we eat determines how we feel:  how much energy we have, how well we perform when we exercise, and often how we feel about our bodies and ourselves.



Based on my own personal experiences, and my experiences as a personal trainer and health coach, the absolute best place to start is to a) get really honest with yourself about your current eating habits/patterns, then start making informed choices and changes.



We also have to accept a few truths to make forward progress with our weight, quality of nutrition and eating habits:


  • There is NO magic nutrition silver bullet solution.
  • There are no miracle fat loss or weight loss superfoods.
  • There are no magical macronutrient formulas.
  • Just because ‘X’ approach worked for our friend, sister, mother, cousin does not mean it will work for us (and who knows if it will work long-term for them).
  • Chances are, we really don’t have a very accurate idea of how much/how many calories we are consuming each day.




In order to get the results we want, we have to be willing to put in the effort of figuring out what our food intake really is at the moment.



We must have the patience and persistence to implement a variety of small changes, over time, to see what work for us and feels right for our bodies and lifestyles.



Truly, it’s this approach and process that’s helped me stay in maintenance mode for the past several years with low effort. High awareness, yes, but low overall effort.



So, how are YOU feeling these days?

  • Are you happy with where your fitness, diet and health are at?
  • Do you have good energy most days, or are you feeling not as great as you’d like?
  • Are your pants feeling snug?
  • Are you not seeing the results you’d expect to be seeing from the exercise/hard work you’re putting in?



If you’re feeling like you’d like your results to show up more, your waistline to tighten up, to have more energy and stamina throughout the day, then it’s time to (re)evaluate your food intake.


One of the best, most straightforward ways I know to (re)evaluate our current food intake/eating patterns is by using some kind of food journal or tracking tool. If you’re a fan of using techie tools/apps to track things, then you’ll want to check out MyFitnessPal’s tracker and/or LoseIt!’s tools.



I’m partial to old-school handwritten tracking, and I’m especially fond of my own Favorite Food Journal (you can grab a downloadable copy with this link RLF Daily Food Journal 2016). I like that it’s easy to carry with you, jot down notes in the moment and really SEE the whole scope of each day’s intake easily (without scrolling, etc.)




Plus, most of us stare at screens enough throughout the day, and there’s something to be said about the act of writing that ‘sticks’ with our brains a bit more than simply scrolling and clicking 😉


Like I said, I’m a little bit old-school 😉



No, it’s not slick or sexy, and I’m not going to show you a 6-pack abs shot to entice you to use it, BUT using this food intake/eating patterns tracking tool is VERY effective.






Because tracking your food/food journaling, especially in a way that also tracks your emotions, challenges and locations, reveals:


  • Scheduling deficiencies—the times of the day(s) when we have problems or issues.


  • Low willpower times of the day(s)—the times in the day(s) when we are most likely to make poorer decisions about what to eat or just eat too much of something.


  • If we are underfeeding ourselves—letting our blood sugar drop too far so that we feel poorly and/or make less helpful decisions about what to eat.


  • Imbalances in macronutrients or food groups–We might think we’re getting enough vegetables, or protein or not eating that many starchy carbs or sugary treats, but when we write things down we see the absolute evidence/data of what we are really consuming each day/week


  • Low meal satisfaction/unmet needs—those times when we ate something that seemed like it was healthy and/or should be filling, but it wasn’t and we went back sooner than is ideal to eat more or eat something else.



When we review our data from our journaling, we can see ‘where the wheels come off,’ so to speak.



It becomes so much easier to objectively identify the patterns, triggers and tendencies that tend trip us up the most, and/or where we can make impactful improvements in our eating choices and patterns.


The ladies in The Nourished Mind program have gotten a ton of quality information from using their food journals (the same one as I’ve given you here RLF Daily Food Journal 2016).



The information they recorded has helped them see, without guilt or judgment, where they were most likely to make poorer decisions AND to be able to relate those decisions to a distinct cause. This in turn gave them the information they needed to come up with a strategy for dealing with those moments/triggers.



Honestly, most of the time a little more planning and scheduling gave them an easy solution for avoiding those pitfalls.




BUT they wouldn’t have been able to identify what needed to be done to help themselves out if they hadn’t recorded several days in a row to objectively see what was really going on in their lives!



So while it’s a little tedious, food journaling can be one of your biggest allies in creating a healthier lifestyle, getting closer to your body composition or performance goals, and just generally feeling like you are more in charge of your circumstances and less blown about by life.



Food journaling puts you back in the driver’s seat!



Now, some people have a tough time using food journals because, well, they don’t like what they see, or are embarrassed about what they’re really eating or doing. It’s often pretty easy, especially for women, to attach feelings of shame and guilt to food and our eating habits.



Here’s what I have to say on the subject:

I can’t emphasize enough that all of the food journaling you do and behavior change exercises related to your food intake and eating habits is 100% Shame-Free.


Recently, I read a great quote from Josh Hillis in his book, Fat Loss Happens on Mondays, which can help shift an embarrassed-to-write-it-down mindset into a more pragmatic one:


“If you’re judging you food journal, you need to grow up.


Beating yourself up is the opposite of taking responsibility.


Taking responsibility with food is looking without emotion at actions that work or don’t work for your goals.”



What I encourage you to do, this week and from here on forward, is to approach food and your eating habits more objectively—like they are facts or pieces in the puzzle of your fitness, not ‘good or bad’ things.



Stay mindful about your attitude towards food—it could be the perspective shift that allows you to move forward more at peace with your nutrition habits and any needed changes.


The big picture goal in using your food journals in the weeks to come is this: to look at which actions are working for your goals and which ones aren’t.





So if you haven’t started, or you’ve been feeling resistant to using the food journal, I hope this blog post has given you some reasons to reconsider and maybe a little motivation to start journaling tomorrow!






**For the next 8 weeks, I’ll be sharing practical and actionable steps and strategies to get your diet back on track and start creating a more ‘Livable Diet’–learning to eat in a way that meets your needs and your wants without actually dieting.**


If you’re not already on my email newsletter list, you can sign up here:



Don’t miss out on the real-life, reasonable, realistic steps you can take, too, to create your very own ‘Livable Diet!’



{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Full Disclosure: My Very Own, Time-Tested Personal Eating Strategies


It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday!



Today’s Tip is more like a few tips rolled into an approach to eating.



I got this question from a reader recently:


“I am writing because I was wondering if you could tell me an example of what you eat in a day and timing of eating. I am like all of the examples you write…My body is not budging from being 5-10 lbs more than I want to be. I am trying the less is more (b/c I overeat with too much cardio) with strength and interval training, but I think it’s my food that is the issue. So…wondering what u eat when wanting to lose weight just to get a idea.”




It made me think about the fact that I talk about eating habits alot, and different approaches to eating, but I guess I haven’t said exactly how I eat most days–so I’m sharing the guidelines I use on a daily and weekly basis with you today.




AND I’ll be sharing how I tweak my eating when I want to lean out a bit.



FYI, I pretty much ignore the scale because it doesn’t give me much feedback about my body composition (muscle and fat percentages) and I rely on how my pants fit–especially around the waist as that’s where I see changes happen first, in either direction!



**Spoiler Alert: I don’t count calories. I don’t count macros. And I’m not perfect eater, by any means. BUT the way I approach eating is definitely sustainable, and I’ll share why 🙂


I try to eat a serving of some kind of protein at each meal/most snacks.

What that protein ends up being really depends on the day, what I’m in the mood for, how quickly I need it to digest (I avoid heavy stuff before workouts), and what we have available!



Here are a few ways you can get more protein in your life, too:



I really, really focus on veggies each day.


I don’t count many things in my daily diet, but I DO track the servings of veggies each day. I try to add them earlier in the day to get more of them, but if I haven’t had many by dinner, I tend to double down on my servings or eat a #BAS (big ass salad).




My drinks are all low- or no-cal.



I put whole milk in my coffee, drink lots of water or ‘cold brew’ flavored teas, and maybe a glass of (dry) wine in the evening (on Fridays might be more than one, lol….)


I tend to save my starchy carbs (bread, pasta, rice, crackers) for around my workouts.



Currently I tend to work out in the evenings, so that means I have more carbs either for snack in the afternoon or at dinner. BUT I’ll also have oatmeal for breakfast sometimes–I just make sure it’s paired with some protein so it digests more slowly.



I plan in weekly indulgences.



Knowing I can have a couple (2-3) treats per week keeps me from obsessing or overdoing it.


It’s funny how food can lose its power over us when we stop idolizing or demonizing it.

Here’s what I mean and how I do it:



I often eat a square or two of dark chocolate in the afternoon.


I know that two squares hits the spot, but won’t trigger a binge, so it’s a healthy practice for me. Balance and moderation, right?!?



I pay attention to portion sizes and use my dishes to help guide my portions (more on that below).


I listen to my body carefully.

Sometimes it needs more, sometimes less, of food in general or of certain macronutrients. I stay flexible with my needs because every day is a little bit different!



AND here’s what I do when I want to lean out (usually after a vacation or holidays):



**Track my food intake using my favorite hard-copy food journal.

It helps me identify any unhelpful trends that might have crept into my diet, which in turn helps me know which one or two changes (tweaks) I can make to get the most impact.



You can grab a copy for yourself here:  RLF Daily Food Journal 2016


**Use smaller dishes–bowls and plates, in particular. There’s a very natural tendency to fill a dish to its limit, and often this limit is actually more than we really need to be satisfied.



I LOVE this little trick/tweak–no diet changes needed and it’s a very low-stress way to make a big impact on our intake.




**Pay extra attention to my starchy/processed carb intake–treats, breads, crackers, pasta, chocolate, potatoes, desserts, and even wine.


This goes back to tracking, too–sometimes we just don’t realize exactly how much we’ve been eating of these things and a little hard data can help us make small but impactful changes.



**Pay LOTS of attention to my stress level and my quality of sleep.



These can be pretty big triggers for wanting to eat more–especially starchy carbs/sweet things. It’s much easier to listen to my body’s true needs and make better food choices when I’m more well-rested.



And when I’m NOT well-rested, I’m at least aware that being less rested triggers certain cravings and I’m less likely to give in mindlessly. This is when my SNAP method comes in handy (you can read about it here:




The way I approach eating is in a very flexible, sustainable and customized manner that is guided by listening to my body’s (ever-changing) needs, eating things that are satisfying in both flavor and nutrition, and not getting too hung up on numbers, macros, or anyone else’s rules.




No one knows our bodies better than we do, and when we spend the time listening to our bodies and finding out what we REALLY need we often come up with the best, most practical and sustainable eating patterns—ones no other diet’s rules can ever achieve.




And that’s powerful, life-changing stuff!




If you’re curious how you can get started creating your own sustainable diet, shoot me an email and we can chat about it in a complementary coaching call (on the phone, Skype, FaceTime or Google hangouts—whatever’s best for you).



You can reach me here:

Looking forward to chatting with you, and don’t be afraid to go against the grain and make your own rules!

Trainer Tip: Make Your Breakfast Meet YOUR Needs.



Today’s Trainer Tip: Make your breakfast match your needs.


I used to be an avid breakfast eater–I always had a hearty breakfast and was usually starving when I woke up. Of course, those hearty breakfasts needed to fuel me for a few hours of training clients before I did my own workout.



These days, I wake up, get the kids to school and get my workout on early in the morning–and these workouts are most often pretty demanding ones. As a result, I’ve totally changed my breakfast regimen to meet my current needs.



Since I work out early in the day (and I have a sensitive stomach), I try to make my breakfasts on the smaller side and easily digestible–which means light on the protein and heavier on the carbs.



My workout breakfast go-to’s: apple pie steel cut oats, basic oatmeal, or banana breakfast cookies for the most part, WITH a cup (or two!) of coffee, of course 😉





But on days when I’m not working out early (aka: weekends!), I aim to have more protein and maybe a bit less carbohydrate and throw in fruits or veggies as well. That means eating any assortment of scrambles, cottage cheese protein pancakes, not-quite-gluten-free banana pancakes, greek yogurts, etc, and even a salad with hard boiled eggs on occasion. Gotta get those greens!


IMG_9711 IMG_9653

Bottom Line: There are no absolute hard and fast rules about what’s best to eat for breakfast. It’s just one of many meals you’ll get throughout the day.



–>If you hate eating first thing in the morning, don’t! Technically, anything you consume in the first 3 hours qualifies as ‘breakfast.’



–>Don’t like ‘breakfast foods’? Eat whatever you want! Leftovers from last night’s dinner, if you feel like it.



–>If you have a big morning ahead of you, it’s a good idea to eat slower-digesting foods that will keep your energy level for a few hours–protein and lower GI carbs and veggies.



–>If you have a big workout ahead of you, maybe you want to eat on the lighter and quicker to digest (and give you energy) side, like some of the options I listed above.



**Whatever you choose, make it work for you–for your current body, lifestyle, taste preference and scheduling needs!**



And if you’d like to get the recipes for ALL the breakfast foods I mentioned above, they’ll be going out to my inner circle peeps in Friday’s email newsletter along with the workout of the week.


Grab your copy by signing up here!




the ONE question we need to ask.

There is ONE question we need to ask ourselves.  ONE question that can make a huge difference in our choices, and therefore our results.



This is THE question we really need to ask anytime we want to make a big change or start something new, and I think it’s a question that many of us kind of skip over in the hurry to just do that next big new thing!







I remember about 10 years ago I wanted to change my hair—specifically, I wanted to go red/auburn rather than the blond highlights I’d been sporting for the few years prior. So I did!



With the help of a quality hairdresser, we made me a redhead in the course of a couple of hours.






Awesome, right?!? Hmmmmmm…it was awesome until most of the color had washed out of my hair in the first 10 days and I was scrambling to get the right shampoos and conditioners to make it last longer.



It was great until the third week when all of my gray hairs came sparkling out for all the world to see—and even at 31, I had lots of them.




By the fourth week, I realized there was no way I could reasonably maintain this hair color without a huge amount of energy and expense. So I went back to the more manageable blond (gray hair camouflaging!) highlights.



And then what….




There was the time I threw myself into training for a marathon in 6 months—except I wasn’t in shape AT ALL and ended up with a stress fracture 3 months in.




Seemed like a great idea in the beginning, when I was going to raise money for charity and lose 20 pounds of post-breakup weight gain!




And then what….




Then there was the time right after I’d gotten married, and my husband was stationed in Germany while I was still living in Seattle, finishing up the school year before (hopefully) moving to Germany with him, when I felt the need to ‘get skinny’ by exercising more and taking Hydroxycut. This was back when Hydroxycut was the full-ephedra variety—before people figured out this caused cardiac issues.





I lost some weight/leaned out a little, but not a ton since I wasn’t changing my diet—the pills were going to do the work for me!—but I gained a nasty temper, borderline anxiety attacks, a manic response to everything which added to my insecurities instead of making them go away.





Even so, I kept taking Hydroxycut for a while because it was a great pre-workout stimulant (insert face palm here), I didn’t think I looked good enough, and I was afraid of what would happen if I stopped taking it.





In each of those situations, and so many more, I just acted—took drastic action, in fact—without ever stopping to consider what would happen on the other side of that decision—And Then What??





It’s like when we go on a diet. We are all kinds of charged up to make a big change in our weight, our appearance and we just can’t wait to feel and look better! We throw ourselves in, full steam, and do what it takes until we finish the program or hit the right number on the scale.




What we so many times forget, or just neglect, to ask is: What happens AFTER I finish this diet/challenge/program?





We do the 21-Day Fix, investing the roughly $140 for the kit—because this is going to FIX things!


We lose weight and inches.


We get compliments.


We feel accomplished…And then what?



What happens the next 21 days?




Do you do another 21-day fix, or do you go back to your old habits and regain all you lost—including some confidence?




We decide we’re going to follow one of the Herbalife or Shakeology plans, complete with all the necessary products, for a month.



We lose weight—because we’re definitely taking in fewer calories and maybe getting the ‘help’ of some appetite suppressants.



But the plan isn’t sustainable. It doesn’t account for birthday parties, and social occasions, and it costs a small fortune that really isn’t in your monthly budget.




And then what?




Do we try to find a way to keep up with the cost of these products?



Do we just go back to our old habits? Do we turn to another, less expensive weight loss product to help us ‘keep it off?’




The one question to ask before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, before we spend a bunch of money on a weight loss kit, challenge, plan, pill, potion or program: AND THEN WHAT?





What will we do on the other side of that choice and effort?



What will we do when the challenge is over, or the diet has reached it’s desired effect?



If we take a pill, potion, prescription or supplement system, do we plan to take it FOREVER?




When we stop taking the product, and I seriously doubt any of us plan to take a weight loss supplement all the way into old age, WHAT HAPPENS THEN?



The biggest problem with all these diet and weight-loss programs, products and approaches is that they are simply designed to be temporary.




They were never built, or meant to last. They were created to provide a financially lucrative band-aid.





But what about when we start with small habit changes, like we’ve been talking about lately? When we are able to make roughly 26 of those small habit changes over the course of just one year, we can also ask And Then What?




Then we are on a successful, sustainable path towards maintaining a healthy weight and body composition, not to mention sparing our sanity and our pocketbooks.




We are in the process of finding the true-forever solution—the one that fits us best, adapts to our lifestyle, that we like and have ownership of, that’s what.



We know ourselves, we trust ourselves, we are in charge of ourselves—and it’s freaking awesome.




THAT is something no diet, pill, potion, program or challenge will ever be able to give us.




Why habit change is the best diet in EVER.





“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

~ Aristotle




HABIT:  An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”




At its most basic level, a habit is something we do over and over that feels normal to us.  It’s something we do without much thought or deliberation, and this can really work in our favor or against us!





Why do habits matter for all of us?





Well, it’s like what Arisotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”




If we repeatedly do things that are unhelpful to our health or relationships or overall well-doing, then we are creating an unhealthy way of being—that has both internal and external consequences.




And when we repeatedly do that which is more helpful, or healthful, our whole human being responds—mind, body, spirit.




So what we do, at it’s most basic level (habits) each and every day shapes our experience of life. 




scheduling for the win!



How many things do you do habitually on the average day?





If you really think about it, TONS.  Tooth-brushing alone is a normalized pattern of behavior that has a huge health impact—not to mention it’s part in our appearance.  And most of us have been doing this since early childhood.





I’ve spent A LOT of time reading about and considering the impact of habit on the way we eat and live and comparing it with the ‘diet’ approach to living.




Having dieted SO many times myself, and witnessed the ups and downs of friends, family and clients through the classic all-or-nothing, binge-and-restrict diet cycles, I just had to wonder the BIG WHY:  what was it that made these diets fail?








Following someone else’s (hardcore and arbitrary) rules can have some effect for a while.  But unless those diets are adopted at the smallest levels into a person’s daily life repeatedly, they are doomed to fail—they won’t ‘stick.’





Really, I have yet to find someone who says: “I’m going on this diet, and I’m going to do it FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.”






By contrast, when we adopt little, do-able, agreeable behavior patterns and include them repeatedly in our daily lives—because we WANT to, those changes ‘stick.’




We just end up doing them enough to make them our new normal.




“If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from the inside.”




Now kicking out or ‘quitting’ an unhelpful habit (I’m staying away from the terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ on purpose) is just plain tough. Ask anyone who’s tried to quit smoking—cold turkey/’just say no’ is very rarely effective.



There are plenty of studies that have come up with conclusive scientific evidence that it takes between 21 and 60 days to make a new habit ‘stick.’



To the best of my knowledge, there’s not one that has conclusive measurements for how long it takes to BREAK a habit.



So the easiest way to make real, helpful, agreeable, lasting changes in how we eat, think, feel and behave is to focus our efforts on making one small behavior pattern (habit) change at a time.



Imagine you started a systematic approach of changing one small behavior every two weeks for the rest of the year. 



–>Maybe those new habits involved changing the portion sizes of foods you eat.


–>Maybe those new habits involved eating a higher number of fruits and vegetables you eat each day, or influenced how you shop at the grocery store.


–>Maybe those new habits involved drinking fewer high-calorie drinks, or prepping your food ahead of time so it was always ready-to-go, or enjoying treats a couple of times a week naturally instead of every day?




What would the impact of those collective changes be?

How would your life be different this time next year?

How would YOU be different this time next year?




This is why I created and structured The Nourished Mind program as a series of habit changes that have a built-in accountability factor (calls with me).







Like I’ve said many times before, we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater;  we want to make our changes as tolerable and meaningful as possible so that they stick.



I also want you to feel successful and confident in YOUR ability to continue to make and monitor those healthy habit changes and their positive impact on your life and health.




When you get systematic practice making these changes in the way you act AND think, you are empowered with the tools to shape your own life and body on YOUR terms in a way that makes sense to you and just plain WORKS. 



If you’re ready to stop dieting and start thriving, The Nourished Mind 12-Week Coaching Program is for you.


**LAST CHANCE!  Sign up closes TONIGHT at midnight, PST!!**


Check out the details about the program, and get signed up here:


**LAST CHANCE!  Sign up closes TONIGHT at midnight, PST!!**





Let me just leave you with one last thought:




If you started making one small habit change at a time, at a rate of one every 2 weeks for the next year for a total of 26 different habits, how would your body and your life be different?





Isn’t it worth finding out?





If I’m being completely honest, I’ve been struggling the last few months with a great deal of stress and stress management. 



Out of all the pieces of the fitness puzzle, stress management is my weakest…so it probably makes sense that I spent so much of my adult life eating my emotions.  


Nothing like a quick fix, right?!?



Our landlord informed us at the end of September that she needed us to move out so her single son, who just finished university, could move in.



We’d been in our house and town for 6 ½ years, and it was the only home my kids had really known (Taylor is 10 and Dempsey is 7).  We’re pretty rooted in the community, so staying in our town was been a priority, but it wasn’t easy at all to find a new home for a family our size just a few weeks before the holidays.



The house hunt took almost 2 months to turn up something that would work well for us, and we found an amazing house—only to run into a few bureaucratic hangups in the process.



It’s been a lot to deal with–the uncertainty, the move the week before Christmas, having family visit from the US right in the middle of all the chaos, the unpacking and readjusting to a new home and new neighborhood.




I’m telling you all this because throughout the entire ordeal, I put my own best advice and practices to use:

  • getting in the small workouts when the main one/regularly planned one doesn’t happen,
  • taking moments to appreciate the small pieces of joy in each day,
  • strategizing on Sundays to keep on track with both my kids’ needs, work responsibilities, doctor’s appointments, vet appointments, and all the usual household stuff in order
  • writing in my gratitude journal every morning and night



But one of the most useful practices that’s gotten LOTS of use is my SNAP technique—which I’m sharing with you!





SNAP is my way of interrupting impulse behaviors and redirecting my energy towards the positive and productive. 





SNAP stands for:


N — Notice

A — Ask

P — Pick and Proceed




STOP:  Stop means just that; stop right where you are, stop what you’re doing, interrupt the behavior you’re engaging in/about to engage in.




Stop and pause and breathe.




NOTICE:  Notice how you’re feeling.



Notice the feeling of your breath—is it rapid and shallow (only filling your lungs), or is it slow, deep and calming?




Notice the feeling in your muscles—are they tense and rigid, or soft and relaxed?



Notice your posture—are your shoulders ‘up in your ears,’ or are they sitting in a lower, relaxed position.  Is your chest open, or are your shoulders rounded forward?



Notice the feeling in your true stomach:  are you feeling true hunger cues?  Is your stomach upset? Is it full or is it empty?



Notice your mood.  Are you happy, sad, stressed, lonely, angry, relaxed or bored?




ASK:  Ask “What do I really need right now?”



Do you really need something to eat?



If I’m not truly physically hungry, then what is it I’m hungry for?



Do I need a break or a time-out?




Do I need to talk?




Do I need to get some stress out?



Do I need to stop and think for minute?



PICK and PROCEED:  Pick what course of action you’re going to take to meet your need, and Proceed.



Consciously, purposefully pick what you’re going to do next, then do it.


It doesn’t have to be ‘perfect,’ it just needs to be intentional.




–>The point is to get ourselves into the habit of being self-aware, of interrupting old, unhelpful behavior patterns and tendencies, and to put us back in our own power. 





–>The point is to put us back in the position of being the pitcher, not the batter—of choosing the direction of our lives rather than just responding to what happens around us. 




There have been plenty of times lately I’ll find myself wandering mindlessly back into the kitchen, looking for something…a treat, a munchie, some chocolate, some wine…and I then as I reach for a cupboard or shelf, I’ll think ‘Oh, SNAP!’ 


I stop.


I think: what am I feeling right now?  I notice my physical sensations.  I notice my mood.


I ask: what am I really hungry for right now?  I find an answer (it’s almost always not food).


I pick what action to take next, and I go with it.






I’ll be 100% candid here:  The ASK part is the hardest, especially for us women who are supposed to take care of so many things and people ahead of ourselves. 




We are so often expected to be selfless and serving the needs of others, and sometimes we’re conditioned to believe that when we serve our own needs it’s selfish.



So we often turn to other means of soothing ourselves—like turning to food—as a way of dealing with some feelings or needs.



Naming what we really need when we’re reflexively conditioned to turn to food can be a new and unfamiliar practice.



It can take some extra ‘brain sweat’ at first—the answer to “What am I really hungry for?” may not be ‘on the tip of your tongue.’  It might take a some ‘turning inwards’ to explore your feelings, which can also take time and practice.




It might bring up some difficult feelings. 










But it may be a little scary at first, and you may be uncomfortable with the feelings that come up.  I know I am from time-to-time.



I encourage you to be brave, to practice self-compassion and set aside self-judgment. 




We are all works in process, and the fact that you’re even reading this shows that you are invested in the process of becoming your best you—that you are committed, brave, and capable of doing the hard work when it’s needed.



What I’ve found is the more I practice ‘asking,’ the better I get at it.  The answers come more easily and quickly as my self-awareness improves.



Like riding a bike, the more you do it, the better you get at it and the more automatic the activity becomes.





After I ASK, I pick.  Sometimes I walk away, sometimes I drink a glass of water, sometimes I’ll write down my thoughts/feelings, sometimes I’ll call my dad or a good friend to talk out what’s bugging me.


And sometimes, if it’s a case of me trying to avoid doing something tedious or unpleasant, I’ll just go tackle that task and get it over with.



Lately, I’ve been putting my legs up the wall and practicing crocodile breathing if I can’t get outside for a walk, because I know what I’m hungry for or needing is resolution to our housing crisis—and that’s not going to be found through eating or drinking anything.



So I do what I can to give myself a little more peace, and ‘Legs Up the Wall’ is a quick and easy go-to.


But that choice of calming method starts with “Oh, SNAP.”


If you’re finding yourself mindlessly or habitually heading for the kitchen or a certain aisle in the grocery store, try using the SNAP technique to break your pattern:










And tell me how it works for you!




SNAP is just one of the techniques we use in The Nourished Mind coaching program to learn a healthier way of thinking about food and eating, and to cope with issues like stress-eating and emotional eating.





**NOW OPEN FOR ENROLLMENT. Sign up ends this Friday at midnight, PST!**

Sign up here==>  The Nourished Mind



Nourish your body. Nourish your mind. Love the skin you’re in.


#TheNourishedMind: The last diet you’ll ever need to go on.




Trainer Tip Tuesday: Strategy trumps Willpower.

It’s Trainer Tip Tuesday!

Today’s Tip: Strategy trumps Willpower.


How many of us have started the day with great intentions of eating well/sticking to ‘the plan,’ and done a really good job…UNTIL.


Until late in the afternoon, or in the evening when we’re worn out from ‘adulting’–making decisions, responding to other people’s needs, taking care of business, commuting, dealing with homework, etc, etc, and then we could care less about the intention to ‘eat healthy’ or control our portions, or skip the glass of wine while we cook (true story).




We are DONE. We used up all our ‘will’ on other decisions and actions all day long.


This, my friends, is where we need to bring in some strategy. And strategy involves some honest assessment of where our weak spots are, and coming up with plans for how to avoid the pitfalls that so often hang us up.


If the wheels fall off your best intentions around the same time of day consistently, or if there are certain days of the week that are extra busy or stressful, or there are particular occasions that challenge you–maybe a weekly meeting–we need to acknowledge it.


No guilt or shame or berating ourselves, just acknowledging that those are consistent pitfalls.


Next, we figure out what we could do differently to get around those pitfalls and feel more successful.


Ready to eat the paint off the walls when you get home? Find yourself cramming whatever isn’t nailed down into your mouth before you try and assemble dinner?


Maybe having a nutritious snack planned/ready to grab can help. Something like cut veggies and a hummus dip or guacamole that you can munch on that won’t throw you off course while you cook dinner.




Or maybe eating a quality protein bar in the car on the drive home could help–I did that just last week. And it didn’t impact my overall food intake because I naturally adjusted my dinner portions to meet my needs.


IMG_8841 IMG_4009












If you have a day of running the kids to practices and extra lessons, etc, and you find yourself feeling worn thin/frazzled by the time you get home, take 3-5 minutes to put your feet up the wall (yoga/stretch position) and practice belly breathing.




Sometimes calming down relieves the urgency of needing to put something in our mouths to calm us…like that glass of wine while cooking (ahem).


When we have a plan, or backup plans, in place we don’t have to rely on our will.


We know our options, we make quick, stressless choices and follow through on the plan we made when we were rested and saw the big picture better.


If you’re finding yourself in a losing battle with willpower, especially at the end of the day, try a little quick analysis and creating a strategy for a change!


It just might be the simple solution you need to keep you eating nutritiously and feeling good–both inside and out.



3 Reasons diets suck and fail…and a winning alternative.


As I was scrolling through FB and my email this week, I noticed something.

Do ‘this’! Don’t do ‘that’!

Intuitive Eating is the only way to go!

You have to meal plan to lose weight!

You can eat it—IIFYM!

Avoid these 3 foods to lose weight!

Always eat this, drink that to flatten your belly….

It just went on and on….


And while the messages all had different advice, the bottom line was the same:


There is only one way to eat right/lose weight and keep it off . ONE.


Be extreme in your methods or fail.


Except that’s not true. AT ALL.



Here are 3 reasons dietary extremes fail…

1. Life is Phasic. Dietary extremes are absolute.


One of my good friends once said to me, while I was lamenting my infant daughter’s nap resistance, “It’s just a phase. And everything is a phase.”


Initially, I just applied that wisdom to raising kids, but in the past couple of years I’ve started to see it applies to all of us, all of our lives: Everything is a phase.


We are constantly changing creatures, who go through different phases of life—the simplest just being the changing seasons of the year.


But if you think about it, we are pretty different people than we were 5 years before—our lifestyles change, our relationships change, our jobs or locations change, and so do our bodies.


Moreover, so do our bodies’ needs!


I know at 41, my body’s needs are noticeably different than when I was 35. If I tried to adhere to whatever scheme worked for me at 35, I’d be miserable and setting myself up for failure.


Trying to permanently stick to one way of eating that has zero flexibility is like trying to fight the tide: it’s pretty futile. And frustrating.


2. Extreme dietary rules allow for zero customization, and you are a unique human chemistry set.


There just aren’t realistic ‘one-size-fits-all’ nutrition plans out there. Trying to cram yourself into one of those ‘silver bullet’ nutrition molds is both painful and ultimately unsuccessful.


Take something like the 21-Day Fix. You get the colorful containers and guidelines for what food groups to put in each—the portion sizing is already done for you…and EVERYONE else who follows the program.



Do you and your husband or sister or co-worker have the same portion needs for each meal?


I’m thinking not.


Are you going to keep filling those cute little containers and hauling them around with you every day for the rest of your life? Or even the other 7 days left in that month after the 21 days are over?



And do tell me where the wine and chocolate containers are.


I’m being a little silly, but really, are you never going to eat chocolate or drink wine again?


And what happens if you do? Are you bad, or ‘off the plan?’  Should you apologize and feel ashamed?


The bottom line is, no matter how fancy the marketing or how loud the message, there’s just not ONE solution that meets EVERYONE’s needs.


3. Following extreme dietary rules puts the locus of control in someone else’s hands.

When you decide to adhere to a diet plan created by someone else, they make the rules.


They make the decisions for you about how much to eat, when to eat, what to eat, what not to eat, what to combine or avoid combining….That’s a lot of control, a lot of power to give over to someone else.


Think about how much of your day “They” influence when you follow their plan or program! Do you let anyone dictate that much of your day for you??


Well, maybe an infant or toddler—those little things are tyrants 😉


And if you’re just following a popular plan or program, and it’s not information coming from a medical professional, a registered dietician or certified nutritionist, those rules can be pretty darn arbitrary.


They don’t know you, they don’t know your life, they don’t know your struggles—although they’re pretty good at hitting your pain points! “They” aren’t interested in helping you become more self-sufficient. “They” want your adherence to their plan, whether it really suits you or not.


Chances are, even if it suits you initially, it may not suit you later. And when it doesn’t suit you anymore and there’s no ‘wiggle room,’ but you’ve bought into the philosophy or practice…that’s where we start to doubt ourselves and often seek a new extreme solution. Total surrender of our power; we’ve placed our faith and trust in someone outside of ourselves.


…And a better alternative that will make eating healthy, and getting lasting physical results, easier:


Tweak and Evolve.


Rigid dietary plans and programs have ONE way of doing things, AND they ask to you toss the baby out with the bathwater. It’s always a total overhaul of your current ‘normal,’ which, let’s be honest here, isn’t maintainable. It’s too much change, all at once, and it might not be the right KIND of changes that we need anyway.


Instead of taking drastic measures, adopt a ‘tweak and evolve’ practice.


By ‘tweak and evolve,’ I mean changing one aspect of our eating at a time in a way that makes sense to us and is meaningful. Instead of suddenly eliminating an entire food group, tweaking would mean eating less of it or eating it less frequently.


Let me show you what I mean.


Situation A: Following a rigid diet plan

The holidays are over and the treats were aplenty. You’ve decided you want/need to lose weight, so you sign up for a certain diet plan.


This diet plan requires that you cut out all added sugars right from the start—including your beloved chocolate.


So, being ‘good,’ you cut it out, abstaining completely…for a few days. But because you’ve put chocolate on the ‘bad foods’ list, it’s also gotten on to your ‘obsessive foods’ list.


You try so hard to avoid it, you think about it frequently, eventually breaking down and eating it—a lot of it. Then you feel bad and restrict again, vowing to be stronger and stay on plan this time….and the cycle repeats itself.


And what do you learn out of this rigid diet approach?


You’re ‘weak,’ you ‘can’t follow the plan,’ and trying to eat more healthfully is a mentally painful process.


Situation B: Adopting a ‘tweak and evolve’ practice

The holidays are over and the treats were aplenty. You’ve decided you aren’t feeling your physical best and you want to make changes in your eating to feel better (or lose weight, etc).


You look at your current eating habits objectively, maybe using a food journal to get all the facts. After a couple of days of journaling, you notice that there’s more treat eating going on than you’d realized—too many goodies, including your beloved chocolate.


Since the treat eating is the most obvious place to start making changes, you decided to cut down on the amount of sweets you’re eating, but don’t ban anything in particular. You choose to eat sweets less frequently during the day, to only eat the stuff you REALLY love and that’s satisfying—and just eat less of it.


After a couple of weeks, this becomes your new normal way of eating.   You’re starting to feel better, maybe even see some changes in your waistline.


Feeling good about being successful in adopting this one change, and getting positive results, you continue to see where else you can make adjustments in your diet.


And what have you learned from the ‘tweak and evolve’ practice?


You’ve learned self-trust. You’ve learned you’re capable of making helpful changes in your diet that give you results—without torment.


Your confidence in your own ability to choose a change, make it stick grows. This confidence inspires you to make more healthy changes.



And you still get to have chocolate.



The ‘tweak and evolve’ practice means that through the different phases of our lives, we make adjustments as needed based on how we’re feeling and what our needs/goals are.


After practicing thinking, eating and behaving in this way for a while, we get used to adjusting our eating habits to match the ebb-and-flow of life.


We eat more when we need more, we eat less when we need less, we notice when we get a little ‘off-track’ and choose the changes that are needed to get back to where we feel more comfortable.


We get to make little changes (tweaks) how and when it feels right to us, and allow our nutrition/diet to grow with us as we go through different phases of our lives (evolve).


We are never ‘locked in’ to one rigid way of thinking or eating—we are FREE to trust ourselves and do what WE need without judgment, guilt, or needing anyone’s permission but OUR OWN.


Total ownership of a lifetime of customized eating.



Now how amazing would that feel?!?!


“But where do I even start??”, you might ask.


Start small and simple.  Remember the chocolate scenario?


Most of us have a pretty good sense of what things need to change the most—it’s usually the stuff we feel a little embarrassed about.


Choose that one thing that stands out the most first. What little ‘tweak’ can you make to start heading you more in the ‘right’ direction—the direction of living a healthier lifestyle as YOUR best you?


If you drink too much soda, swap one soda for a no-calorie drink (eg: water or fruit-infused water for a little more flavor) per day.


When this change gets normalized, swap out another soda.


Keep up with this process until you’re off your soda habit—or at least down to a bare minimum.


Then choose your ‘next best’ thing to change!  You know You.  Now trust you.


The topic of self-trust, especially when it comes to eating habits and food, has been on my mind for years. It evolved into a burning need to create a program and a system through which women can learn to trust themselves around food and live more peacefully in their own skin.


So I’m thrilled to finally be offering a new coaching program at the end of January: The Nourished Mind.

The Nourished Mind


The Nourished Mind is a 12-week personal coaching program that teaches women the skills they need to never diet again, and empowers them to trust themselves to make the healthy decision around food 90% of the time, and to learn to embrace their body.


**Opens to the public on January 26, but you can get on the wait list NOW to receive priority access and exclusive deals not available to the public**



Getting on the wait list is completely risk-free: there’s no obligation attached, just special deals and extra info and tools. More info will be coming soon!












Location, location, location.


I totally had a moment just now.


I sat down to have lunch in front of the computer while I put the finishing touches on the coaching email for my continuity community (Get REAL Fit).


You know, to ‘multitask’ because I’m feeling the GSD push today and I was going to knock out two birds with one stone.


Except as soon as I sat down and took the first bite, one hand on the mouse, I realized I was starting to shovel a huge bite of food into my mouth with ZERO sense of what I was eating.


Just shovel-chew-swallow.


A few years ago, it never would have occurred to me that what I was doing was unhelpful–I would have chowed down that entire bowl of Chicken Florentine in less than 5 minutes, then probably gone back for seconds because I didn’t feel satiated by what I’d just eaten.


But, because I’ve been practicing mindful eating habits for years, and I’ve been writing about them lots these days, I caught myself on that first bite.


Instead of chowing down, I pushed back from the computer, slowed my chewing of each bite, and looked out the window to create a more relaxed experience where I was present, mindful and enjoying my food.


The process took less than 10 seconds to change course BECAUSE I’ve been practicing mindful eating for years and developed a few strategies for catching, interrupting and redirecting unhelpful behaviors–like eating too much, too fast and in a distracted state.



What I encourage you to do is to just take notice of where you are and what you’re doing while you’re eating today.


Things to consider:

–>How much are you sitting, standing, moving, talking or multitasking while you eat?

–>Does it affect how fast you eat?

–>Are you truly enjoying your food and noticing it’s flavor and texture, or are you just passing it by your lips reflexively?


Making big changes in our nutrition and body composition often start with small changes and just building basic awareness around the actions we take most often, because it’s the cumulative effect of those choices that shape us.


Start small today, and add a ‘mindfulness check’ to your eating!



I wanted to hide in shame…but I didn’t.


I have to get something off my chest.


It’s one of those things I have such shame about, it’s like a rock in the pit of my gut lately.


I am a horrible housekeeper. HORRIBLE.


You might have just giggled a little bit, an in ‘THAT’S what you’re so ashamed of??’ Or you might relate completely, it just depends!


But it really is a source of shame at the moment–which is exactly why I’m broadcasting it on the internet.


Because, as Brene Brown says, shame can’t survive being spoken.


It’s a real hot-button for me because I live in a culture where cleanliness and keeping a clean house are valued highly and perceivably add to your quality of character.


It’s a trigger for shame right now because we’ve been moving out of our house with the help of friends for most of the month of December.


And there’s nothing that will expose your housekeeping oversights and flat-out failures than moving ALL your worldly goods at once.



AND there’s nothing that will expose YOU like having most of the people in your circle of friends witness it firsthand.


Even thinking about it and talking about it right now kind of makes me want to throw up…which, again, is exactly why I’m outing myself.


Every time a piece of furniture was picked up, I’d want to run over and either cover the mess behind/underneath it or sweep it away from right under the person lifting the furniture. I didn’t of course, but the urge was strong.


“How did I let it get this way?” I would think.

“Why didn’t I do BETTER?”

“What’s WRONG with me?”

“They’re going to think so badly of me.”

“I’m so ASHAMED.”

“How can I FIX this??”


As I stood in the middle of my filthy house, with all my belongings being moved around by our friends, I realized the feelings I was having and the words I was thinking were EXACTLY the same as when I realized on Christmas break, my freshman year in college, HOW much weight I’d gained in the first 3 months of college.


They were exactly the same as when I realized, sitting in a classroom of my peers at the end of my Master’s in Teaching program, how I’d gained ten pounds of flab—right before my trip to Italy, in the middle of the summer.  With summer dresses.  And Italian beaches.


They were exactly the same as when the female doctor looked at me when I was 6 months postpartum and asked in a not-so-kind voice, “Exactly how much do you THINK you weigh?” and then had me climb on the scale to prove how much I’d underestimated the number.


They were exactly the same as when I put on my skinny jeans after Christmas break the first year I was a personal trainer, and felt the waistband cut into my stomach.



“How did I let it get this way?”

“Why didn’t I do better?”

“What’s wrong with me?”

“They’re going to think so badly of me.”

“I’m so ashamed.”

“How can I fix this??”


I think so many of us can relate to these feelings, these words.


We can relate to the feeling of suddenly realizing how far we’ve slipped, the shame that is hard on the heels of that sudden realization, of the next desperate desire to FIX what’s wrong IMMEDIATELY.


Except, just like with my mess of a house, it can’t be fixed by any single heroic, on-the-spot action.


A house doesn’t get accumulate all that dirt in a single day, or week; it accumulates it over a long period of time.


We don’t suddenly gain weight or lose our fitness in a single day, or week; it happens as a result of small choices that add up over time.


And we can’t fix either of those things overnight, as much as we’d love to!!


It takes progressive choices over time to get us into those situations, and it takes progressive choices over time to get us OUT of those situations.



It is SO hard, but the first step to changing is getting honest with ourselves.


We have to face our reality, own our past choices, but do it in a way that releases that feeling of shame from the situation…which means speaking our shame.


My house was a disaster because I wasn’t consistent enough with my (deep) cleaning efforts. I did not prioritize cleaning.

The state of my house on moving day was the result. Ugly? Yes. Uncomfortable? Oh HELL, yes.


But the state of my house was a result of the CHOICES I had made, NOT my quality of character.


Those other times when I had those (VERY uncomfortable) moments where I suddenly realized HOW much weight/inches I’d gained?


Same thing. The first reaction was shame. Then I’d get honest with myself.


–>I’d gained weight in college because I’d been eating too much pizza and beer and overdoing it at the lunch and dinner buffets and hadn’t exercise AT ALL.


–>I’d gained weight during my master’s program because I’d been overdoing it with comfort carb foods, and adding some calorie-dense morning and afternoon snacks to the mix…and not exercising AT ALL.


–>I’d been eating for comfort and company while at home alone with an infant on an isolated Army post in Louisiana, grazing throughout the day, and not exercising AT ALL.


–>I’d completely ditched my normal eating patterns and totally indulged in holiday foods and drinks and treats from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and exercised less than I normally would.


I’d made those CHOICES, over time, that resulted in some uncomfortable form of weight gain and an increase in my waistline.


But if my choices, not my character, were what got me INTO those situations, then it would be my choices, over time,that would get me OUT of those situations.


When we reframe our experiences into choices, not just feelings, we empower ourselves to change our experiences.


When we look at how our past choices have gotten us into our current circumstances, we give ourselves the power to make NEW choices that will get us what we want…over time.


In all truth, there’s no quick fix, no matter what any commercial, ad or marketer tell us.


‘Fixing’ takes time…and that’s OKAY!


Because during that time we get to learn about ourselves, develop new ways of thinking, develop new habits, develop new ways of dealing with strong emotions, so that when we get to that point we say it’s ‘fixed,’ we know how to STAY there.



To be a better housekeeper, I don’t need to be a better person. I just need to have a schedule and a plan and stick to it. That’s just a case of making different daily and weekly choices.


Totally do-able.


To change how our bodies look or feel, we don’t have to be ‘better’ people. We just need to make better choices, on a daily and weekly basis.




When we reframe our lives in the context of a series of choices and not a reflection of our characters it frees us from shame.


When we see our current body size, shape, weight, etc. as a result of a series of choices, it gives us the tools we need to change.


If you’ve had one of those shame-inspiring, sudden realization moments, don’t hide it. Share it. Speak that shame and ditch it.


If you don’t feel courageous enough to tell someone you know, send me a message. Get it off your chest.


Then get busy owning your choices so you can make new ones and create that body and life you seek.


I already feel better because I told you about my shame. And now I’m getting busy making that schedule to create a better, cleaner, future in my new home.


If you want more support and more guidance to make lasting changes in your nutrition and fitness, but you’re not sure where to start, shoot me an email at


I’d love to talk and help get you started making those better choices to help you live a happier, healthier life.



Always in your corner,



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