Archive for February 25, 2015

Why, yes, I will have some cake! The Case for Planned Indulgences


Break the Obesess/Binge Cycle for Good:  The Case for Planned Indulgences


I love cake.

No, I don’t just love cake–I FREAKING love cake.



AND I live in Germany, currently, where bakeries are as prevalent as churches in the ‘Bible Belt’ of the United States (I’ve lived there, too).  

Yes, THAT many bakeries.


If you’ve never had German cake, you are missing out, and, NO, “German Chocolate Cake” is not German.  Black Forest Cake…kind of.  Barely.  But I digress.


Cake is definitely my nutritional ‘achilles heel,’ and I used to struggle each time we went into the bakery (conveniently attached to the exit of both of our two supermarkets), which was at least three times a week–for fresh bread and Brezeln for the kids.


I’d stand there, in front of the bakery case, all but wringing my hands in a ‘do I or don’t I?’ and ‘how much have I eaten today–can I afford it?’ and ‘what are my goals–will it knock me off course?’ desperate inner struggle.


WAY too much mental anguish and mental energy was involved in a simple ‘get some bread’ scenario.


It was exhausting to always have this fight with myself, and I started to dread going to the store for anything.  When my kids began to add to the unpleasantness of the situation by begging for goodies every single visit, I knew something had to change.


“I’m a former elementary teacher, and I understand behavior modification,” I thought.  “I’ll find a way to construct boundaries, create realistic expectations and extinguish this unwanted behavior!”


Little did I know I was creating the same positive structure for myself, not just for my children. (It’s funny the things we will do so easily in order to help others that we won’t often readily do for ourselves!)


Out of this need to reduce my children’s begging and establish routine and reasonable expectations was born: TREAT FRIDAY.


Fridays became the hallowed day of the week.  The kids were allowed to choose ONE treat from the bakery case–ANY treat they wanted, but only on Fridays.  The rest of the week was for scoping out what was in the case, planning what one would have on Friday.


I decided I’d join them in their Friday indulgences; I’d worked hard all week, what was one piece of cake?  Same rules applied to me as did to them–ANYTHING I wanted in the bakery, I could have, but only on Friday afternoon.



A gorgeous thing happened as a result of adopting this approach.



Actually, a couple of gorgeous things happened.  One, the kids stopped harassing me in the bakery throughout the week on our normal grocery shopping visits.


Instead, they were happily doing ‘recon’ on the bakery cases in town, plotting their Friday conquest.  (Did I mention they were 6 and 3 when we started this?  You can imagine how much easier this made shopping in general.  WAY less stressful.)


But the even more gorgeous result was that my hand-wringing/’do I or don’t I’ mental struggles vanished.

knew when I could expect my treat, that it was allowed–even encouraged, that I could enjoy it with no remorse or guilt.  ENJOY it.  I gave myself permission to enjoy it because I would only choose what I really wanted and it would be enough, rather that taking whatever was available, shoveling it down in my car or kitchen, then feeling ashamed afterwards (leftover birthday cake or bake sale creations had been such terrible sources of temptation/binge/shame in the past).  I ate slowly, sitting at a table, using a fork, really tasting and enjoying each bite.  



No hiding, no sneaking, no rushing, no stress.  Just enjoyment.


The verdict on treat Friday:  Win-Win.



Treat Friday became such a successful strategy for my family, that it made me wonder why it was such a success for us.


I decided to examine the concept, the psychology of the situation more closely, because, heck, if it was working for me AND my kids, it might just help many of the clients I had who experience(d) issues with sugary treats and even binge eating.



The phenomena at work:  Forbidden Fruit and the Slot Machine 


Quick–don’t think of pink elephants.  Don’t!  Not at all, not even for a second–do not think of PINK ELEPHANTS.



I bet all you can see in your mind are pink elephants right now.

This is psychology of the forbidden fruit, in a very simplistic example, that by making something forbidden we make give it value and focus.  Our minds want to have freedom, we cringe at restrictions being put on us, and so even arbitrary ones, like the pink elephant, become a struggle and a drain on our mental energy.  This is also why ‘diets’, in the restrictive sense, are only temporary and don’t work for long.

“Ever notice that the more you say you can’t have it, the more you want it? That’s called deprivation focus, and we get intense cravings of it, not just because it’s tasty, but because we are creating desire for it in our mind by dwelling on it.”

And this is why the cake at the bakery was such an issue for me and my kids.

The ‘slot machine,’ intermittent rewards phenomenon was also at play–not knowing when the cake ‘pay out’ was going to happen, so we were struggling with the question of ‘will we get it this time’ every single time we went grocery shopping.  Will I hit ‘WILD’ on this pull?!?

Those two phenomena together can be a potent formula for some massive bingeing.

Why ‘Planned Indulgences’ Works:

1.  It takes the ‘forbidden fruit’ feeling out of the scenario.  You are much less likely to focus and fixate on something when it is no longer forbidden.  When you give yourself permission to have something, it removes a huge load of stress from the situation.

When it’s a reasonable amount–a piece of cake, not a whole cake–it removes a huge load of guilt or remorse from the situation.

2.  It creates a timeframe for when you get to have your treat.  When we go on a diet, or restrict our food intake in some manner, we often wonder when we’ll be able to have that coveted goodie again.  Weeks?  Months?  Will I cave/crack at that next birthday party?  Business lunch?  Social event?

Planning when you get to have it eliminates that shaky feeling of wondering when you’ll get it again, and stressing about certain social scenarios.

You know when to expect your treat, you’re in charge of designating the time/date/location, and that is comforting.  Known, self-determined events usually are 🙂

3.  YOU determine your treat.  YOU determine when you’ll have it.  YOU determine the location.  It’s chosen, intentional, and preplanned.  No one is imposing their will on you, your fate is self-determined.  That is a powerful thing.

I choose Fridays because it’s like a mini-celebration of another work and school week completed, and because my willpower is lower on Friday afternoon.  I choose cake because that’s my favorite goodie.  I set out to enjoy a reasonable portion of something I like, when I want it, and I do so with some of my favorite people.  We usually have some pretty decent conversations then, too 🙂

It’s pleasant, satisfying, relaxed and it’s ENOUGH.

4.  It’s a treat, not a cheat, and not a binge.  A Planned Indulgence is a predetermined, portion-specific treat.  It’s a piece of cake vs. a whole cake, for example.  It’s not a whole day of indulging, it’s one event.

I look at it as getting the ‘minimum effective dose’ of a treat source–enough to satisfy you, not so much that you feel guilty, sick or unwell after eating it.

5.  It’s flexible.  If I see a birthday party coming up that week, I’ll probably shift my planned indulgence to that day rather than the usual Friday.  Or for that week, I’ll simply have two planned indulgences.

The key is in the preplanning:  I set an intention, and I stick to that intention.  Some weeks I don’t even feel like having a treat on Friday, so I’ll push it to Saturday, or–gasp!–skip it altogether for the week.

The timing is flexible but intentional.



How can you make Planned Indulgences work for you?


1.  Identify your favorite treats.  We all have our favorites.

2.  Identify where this treat can or will be found.  Restaurant, store, bakery….

3.  Identify what a reasonable portion of this treat really is.  Remember, we want a normal-sized portion of the treat food–this is a treat, not a binge or a ‘cheat.’  Think: minimum effective dose.

4.  Determine when you want to enjoy this treat.  Determine who you’d like to enjoy this with.  We’re social creatures, and we enjoy shared experiences. My cake is a whole lot tastier when I’m sharing the occasion with my kids or friends.

5.  Be realistic about your schedule needs, and work with them.

When an office party or birthday party or some other social and food-oriented function comes up, adjust accordingly.  Try to set your intention before arriving at the event.

Most of us know what to expect from a certain event or venue, in terms of what foods will be available, and setting the intention beforehand takes the stress of on-the-spot decisions out of the equation.

For example, I know for darn sure I’m eating a slice of birthday cake at any grown-up birthday party I attend.  And my friends can BAKE!

The 'Three Day Cake' because it takes three days to make--and it's THAT good.

The ‘Three Day Cake’ because it takes three days to make–and it’s THAT good.


I also know if I’m going to an office party-type event, I’m likely to skip the store-bought stuff and will save my indulgence for something I will REALLY enjoy.

No random nibbling, because I’ve set my intention ahead of time.  Hence, the ‘planned’ in planned indulgences!

So like I’ve said, I love cake.  I’m a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and health coach who loves cake.


My current, Planned Indugence-practicing physique.

The way in which I’ve made keeping cake, something I enjoy, a harmonious part of my lifestyle is through implementing the Planned Indulgence approach.

It’s all about being intentional about your life, enjoying your life, and staying away from unhealthy thought patterns (deprive-binge) by creating positive mindsets and helpful practices.

If you’ve been struggling with obsessive thoughts regarding certain foods, you might want to give planned indulgences a try–it could take a load off your mind, and your waistline, for life.







“What Did You Say Was for Dinner???” The protein source that will make your meal planning, and life, easier.

What did you say was for dinner???

What did you say was for dinner???

If those short people who live with me ask me ‘what’s for dinner?’ one more time (after I’ve already concocted homemade breakfasts, am and pm snacks, and lunch, day after day…), I may snap.  As in go totally postal in my own kitchen.  But since one of my goals in life is to stay out of the slammer, and another is to make sure the kids keep me out of the home when I’m old, I resort to counting to ten, deep breathing techniques, and having chicken breasts ready to go.

I’m not overstating it when I say that the chicken breast is a saving grace in my kitchen and household on a weekly basis.  It is one of those staples either in my fridge or freezer at any given time, without fail. Why the chicken breast, of all things?


First, they are full of protein and filling–fewer after dinner ‘I’m still hungry!’ complaints AND I get MY protein needs met.

Second, while bland and not particularly attractive all by their lonesome, chicken breasts’ ‘lack’ of inherent flavor makes them suitable for a huge variety of recipes from a wide variety of cultures (and, therefore, flavors).

Versatility is an important factor in keeping up some semblance of novelty in meal planning and execution.  The short people basically try to strike like Italian railway workers at the slightest hint of a repeat meal in the week.

Third, chicken breasts are fantastically easy to prepare and are, typically, very accessible* from a wide variety of food providers (farms, fresh markets, grocery stores, bulk food/warehouse chains).


Here’s why I think you should bake up a batch of chicken breasts every week:


1.  Chicken breasts are full of protein.

A 3.6 oz serving of cooked (roasted) chicken breast, which is the recommended serving size, provides 32.25 grams of protein, 173.25 calories, and contains 3.75 grams of fat, .75 of which are saturated.

(All quantities are based on a 3/4 cup serving adjustment to the 1 cup nutritional data provided by USDA SR-21 )

You know what protein means in a meal?  In a nutshell, feeling fuller for longer, and generally more satisfied, after a meal.


2.  Chicken breasts are suitable for a HUGE variety of recipes.

One batch of chicken breasts baked on a weekend, or an evening, can give you a huge head start on creating any number of the following recipes (plus about a thousand more)…

And feel free to read with “Bubba’s” voice in your head….

Bubba Shrimp Quote

Click for Bubba’s Shrimp Quote


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

White Chicken Chili (pictured on left)

2 Chili Bowl

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken and Rice Soup


Pho Ga with Chicken

Chicken Soft Tacos

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken “Mexican Bowls”


Chicken Waldorf Salad

Chicken Salad

Green Salad topped with Chicken Breast

IMG_4345 IMG_4319 IMG_5725

Chicken Breast Sandwiches

Chicken Breast Wraps

Chicken Breast “burgers” (California-, Teriyaki-, Buffalo-style….)

“Buffalo Chicken” Breast Strips or Salad


Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

Chicken Breast Strips

Chicken “Schnitzel”

Spaghetti with (Chicken Chunk) Tomato Sauce

Chicken Swimming Rama

Baked Chicken “Florentine”

Chicken Penne “Fake Bake”

…and any basic variation of chicken breast +veggie source+ complex carb source




What’s more is almost any of these, or any other chicken recipe you find, can be tweaked to meet YOUR individual nutritional needs, e.g.: low sodium, low fat, low carb.


3.  Chicken breasts are fantastically easy to prepare.

Baking Chicken Breasts

The usual baking method: sprinkle of kosher salt, sprinkle of black pepper, baked at 375F for 30ish minutes.

A quick sprinkle of this and that, about a half an hour in the oven (baking times vary, you’ll have to watch yours), and we have approximately 6+servings of chicken ready to go in any variety of recipes or meal-creating scenarios.

OR boil the chicken breasts in plain or slightly salted water–if your intention is to shred the chicken, this method can make it easier to shred than baking.

OR, if you really want to get fancy and the weather permits ;), you can grill up a batch.  In this case, I’d make it a big batch and get your propane’s worth out of the effort!

3b.  Chicken breasts are (generally) readily accessible*.

Chicken is a common meat source, not a specialty food that is hard to find and expensive to procure.

Currently, I live in Germany, and I shop both at the American facilities and the German ones.  In both venues, frozen and fresh chicken (whole or in parts) is easy to find, and won’t break the bank.

To date, I’ve also travelled and shopped for food in Canada, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Austria (how fun and intriguing are foreign supermarkets??), and chicken has been a easily-accessed food.  Granted, they aren’t terribly exotic locations or third-world countries, but so far it’s been easy for me to find chicken when traveling.

*Quick Side Note:  Free Range chicken is probably the best kind for you and for the environment, however, it’s not always easy to find in all cities/locations AND not necessarily affordable (which is also a factor of ‘accessibility’) for every person or family.


Familiar, simple to dress up or down, affordable, filling and an easy addition to make to your weekly meal plans, the chicken breast is here to save the day…or at least dinner…and your sanity 🙂

What are your favorite uses for the chicken breast?  What fantastic recipes can you add to the list??  Post in the comments below–I’d love to hear about YOUR best recipes!





Foodie! It’s not a four-letter word (aka: how loving food works in your favor).

I love food.  I really, really do.  I could never exist on one of those stereotypical ‘fitness’ diets that consist primarily of broccoli, brown rice, yams and chicken breasts–I might be able to handle that for a day, or maybe a week if the threat of wearing a bathing suit in public was looming near, but it wouldn’t last long.  And since I’m not in the business of being on a stage or in front of a camera on a regular basis, I don’t have to be too particular about my macros, etc.  My love of tasty food was once a bit of an issue for me though.  Back in my early to mid-twenties, I ate out at restaurants a lot.  It was a social thing, especially for those of us who were single; it was a time and preparedness thing, as in I didn’t take the time to compose a coherent grocery list and was therefore unprepared to cook or create meals; it was also a bit of a mindless thing in the sense that there was a total disconnect happening between what or how much I was putting in my mouth and how my body was feeling and looking.

This pattern continued into marriage, where neither one of us really knew how to cook, we lived in Germany, and we were still very social and hanging out with single people. And there was tons of good food to be had within a mile’s walk or bus ride.  So I fought up and down through the same 10 pounds for many, many years because I just had no clue how to self-regulate or that that self-regulation started in the kitchen.  That all changed at Fort Polk, LA.

If you’ve ever been to Leesville, LA, you’ll get what I’m saying.  If you haven’t, then let’s put it this way:  Papa John’s pizza was the only delivery service, there were only two actual restaurants in town (a ‘steak house’ and a japanese restaurant), and we were living on the income of a staff sergeant with an infant.  Eating out was just no longer feasible, nor desirable.  So I slowly learned how to cook.  I slowly learned how to make good-tasting food on a budget.  I slowly began to see the connection between what I ate, how much I ate, and how I looked and felt.  It was a good start.

Over the past many years, I’ve continued to educate myself about macronutrients and their roles in health/weight/body composition, what food combinations deliver more nutritional bang for your buck, and tweaked our household nutrition to meet our ever-changing needs. Living in Germany is a bonus, because of the variety of fresh foods at a reasonable price that are available within a very short walk or drive.  Living overseas can also broaden your menu horizons, inviting you to try new ingredients or recipes from other cultures you might otherwise have missed (case in point: the numerous uses for Kohlrabi).  In sum, the changes I’ve made in my own cooking, thinking and eating habits over the past few years have led me to this conclusion:

Being a foodie is a huge advantage in life.  

Whether your focus is on weight loss, fat loss, athletic performance, weight management, or just generally feeling good, if you’re a foodie, you have a natural advantage over those who aren’t.  Here are 5 reasons why I see being a foodie as such an advantage:

1.  When you are a foodie, you are more motivated to make it taste good.

You like food. You like food to taste good.  You aren’t likely to last long on bland or displeasing food sources.  You’ll do what it takes to make it better.

2.  When you are a foodie, you are often more familiar with flavors and better able to make working substitutions or better combinations.

You know how to manipulate spices and seasonings.  You’ll research ways to prep your favorite dishes so that they are both satisfying and good for you/in line with your goals and/or needs.

3.  When you are a foodie, you are more likely to make the time to read about nutrition and food, to research (more) healthful options, to cook different and (more) healthful foods.

Food matters to you.  It’s an important part of your life and happiness.  You’ll make the time to problem-solve, to try new things, to consult new resources (and how cool are channels like the Food Network, and many other online options these days??).

4. When you are a foodie, you are more likely to tailor your nutritional habits/diet to meet both your taste preferences and bodily needs.

Eliminating whole food groups is likely not for you, unless it’s medically necessary.  You know what you like, and you’ll find a way to incorporate it, creatively and healthfully, into your lifestyle.

5.  When you are a foodie, you are more likely to really stick with the dietary changes you make for the long haul, especially after taking ownership of your nutritional/dietary changes.

When you are the one steering the ship, making the informed choices, preparing your mini-meals and full-blown ‘feasts’ with your own two hands, using the ingredients of your choice, timing your meals to your own needs and wants, you are WAY more likely to stick with it because it works for YOU.  It’s not an arbitrary diet, created by an ‘expert,’ difficult to adhere to for longer than a few weeks–it’s your own creation, born of research, testing, experience, and your own approval and satisfaction.

From my personal experiences and observations of client successes,

I’ve derived the ‘Foodie Success Equation’:

Greater Ownership


Greater Enjoyment


Greater Long-Term Compliance and Success

So if you’re a foodie, it’s time to celebrate and embrace your love of good tasting food.  Your dedication and creativity will help you support your own fitness and health needs.  And if you’re not a foodie, you might consider befriending one, or following one on fb or online.  These are the people who will take your eating habits to a satisfying and sustainable next level.  I know I want to eat in a way that supports the way I live, and to enjoy what I eat.  Being a foodie makes it possible for me to do both well, happily, and consistently.





What’s in YOUR home gym?? My top 5 favorite tools

I got a great question from a friend/former client the other day:
“I was wondering what tools you have for your home gym? I am hoping to build mine up. What tools are a must? Would be really awesome to have? And not waste your money?”

I’ve given it a couple of days to mull it over, because my home gym is pretty full from a few years of collecting, and I wanted to think about what I really use the most and would have the most bang for the least buck for the majority of people.

BTW, a good mat goes without saying, so I’m not putting it on the list.

Here are my top 5 (in no particular order), and why:

1. A solid step–solid meaning not flimsy. I like the Reebok step because it has 3 levels and it’s not nearly as prone to ‘tipping’ as the traditional riser/step apparatus.

Why? Because it’s uses are so diverse and it takes up very little space to store or when you use it–so it’s great for the living room, etc. You can use it in the traditional step aerobic way, use it as a strength training tool for step-ups, reverse lunges off it, lunges on to it, ‘bulgarian’ split squats, incline push ups…there are a ton of uses there, you just have to get creative. It’s also a great tool for getting the heart rate up and for a huge number of plyometric exercises. My all-time favorite is the Mountain Slider, which is just like a Mountain Climber, but from an elbow-plank position (on a step) with gliders (read: washcloths!) under the feet. Wicked for ‘sprints.’


2. Medium weight and heavy weight dumbbells. Medium for use with the smaller muscle groups (shoulders, triceps) and heavy so you can really challenge the back muscles and lower body.

Why? Again, they are diverse. There are a huge number of strength training exercises that you can do in a really challenging and satisfying way using one or two dumbbells in a workout; they’re easy to find, easy to use, and easy to store. For women, I’d recommend at least having a pair of 8’s, 10’s and 15’s; in my collection I also have 20’s and 25’s and this seems to be enough for the at-home workout days.



12# dumbbells for the half-kneeling shoulder press


3. Bodybands. I love these things so much.

Why? They come in many different levels of resistance, are easy to store, are less expensive than other tools and are wildly versatile. Bodybands can be used for strength training exercises, and for explosive/dynamic movements as well. Examples of strength training uses include: one-arm rows, double bent-over rows, band-resisted push ups, band pull-aparts, assisted leg lowers, straight-arm torso rotations, shoulder presses, band-resisted squats, band-resisted romanian deadlifts….I think you get the picture 🙂 For dynamic/explosive movements (the stuff that leaves you gasping for air), uses include band-resisted broad jumps, band-resisted side leaps, band-resisted jump squats and so much more. They’re easy to use with a partner, too.

bodyband rows

Staggered Step Rows


Deadlift, start position


Deadlift, top of movement


IMG_4218 IMG_4231

4. Therabands of varying resistances (sometimes they’re called pilates bands or fitness bands, it’s all the same as long as they are long, flat, wide and stretchy!).

Why? Therabands offer lighter levels of resistance than the Bodybands, generally, which lend well to use with what I like to call ‘structural support’ exercises. The more subdued home gym venue lends itself nicely to taking care of those smaller movement exercises that help keep your rotator cuffs, hips, low back, knees and ankles happy. Some great ‘structural support’ exercises you can do with a band at home include: 4-way ankle exercises, 4-way hip exercises, clamshells, side step walking, band pull-aparts, ‘cheerleaders,’ external shoulder rotations, internal shoulder rotations, seated band rows, and loads of other ‘fun’ exercises. But keep these at the end of your main workout 🙂


Haybaler start position


Haybaler, top of movement













5. Gymboss Interval Timers, because if I’m working out at home, 8 times out of ten I’ll be doing a circuit, not a straight set lifting session.

Why? It takes the clock watching out of the situation, which allows you to focus completely on your workout intensity and it keeps you honest–no ‘guesstimating’ 30 seconds, lol. They’re super affordable, too, and take a licking and keep on ticking…mine is going on three years old now, needs occasional resets and battery changes, but has endured years of being thrown about in my gym bag and dropped during classes….I love it.

So there are my personal top five tools to have in a home gym. Lots of bang for not too much buck, some pieces are very portable (for business trips or vacations), most of them are multi-purpose and together they shouldn’t take up too much space, unlike a treadmill or elliptical (you know, those clunky clothes hangers!).

Honorable Mentions:
Gliders or Furniture sliders (although washcloths on a smooth surface will do, and paper plates on carpets, too)
a Kettlebell or two
Swiss Ball
Exercise tubes with handles


Mind your OWN business!

Today’s Trainer Tip:  

Mind your OWN business.

And, yes, this IS a fitness-related issue! Hear me out.


Last year was a challenging year on all levels. During that time, I sought resources to help me to be more resilient, and I participated in a 10-week Mindset Makeover course (conducted by Jill Coleman).


One of the greatest lessons I learned from the course was that of minding your own business–being dialed into what YOU are doing, not concerned about what others are doing, or thinking (about you), or saying (about you).


What others think about you, or say about you, or do is THEIR business–it’s about THEM and THEIR issues, not yours.


What’s more, when you buy into this philosophy, of being actively engaged in your own business and less concerned (or not at all concerned) about what others think/say/do, you find you don’t even have the time to be concerned about them.


When you really start turning that attention you may have been giving others inward, you’ll find that you’ve suddenly been freed to pursue your own desires, wishes, goals with more energy and intensity than before. You’ll find that you develop a greater sense of peace in your mind and your spirit.


And when you’re fully invested in and really minding YOUR own business and no one else’s, you won’t have the TIME to pay attention to anyone else’s business, because you’ll be living a life that is authentic, intensely interesting, and you’ll be accomplishing small and big goals right and left.


You will be a force to reckon with, and you will wonder why you ever spent time being concerned about what others are thinking/saying/doing.


Where I see this fitting into fitness in an everyday sense is in the fear that I’ve heard so many people (mainly women) express about going to the gym, and especially about using the weight room. I’ve heard women say they feel stupid trying to figure out which weights to use for what. I’ve heard women say that they are intimidated by the weight room because it is full of men.

I’ve heard people say they aren’t ready to go to the gym or take a particular class because they aren’t in good enough shape.

I’ve heard people say that they didn’t want to try something (in the gym/fitness realm) because they didn’t want to look stupid.


Instead of giving attention to what others might say/think/do about you and what you say/think/do, take that attention and dial it into what YOU are doing.


Not sure how to use a machine or weight? Curious about a class or even just where to start with a fitness program? Find someone you trust, near or far, and get a little instruction.

Learn what muscles/physical sensation you’re looking for and concentrate intensely on that body part.

Throw on your ‘mental blinkers,’ and take whatever peripheral focus you might have had on what’s going on around you and dial it inwards.

Make what you’re doing in that moment the only thing that matters–make YOUR business of working out your ONLY business in that moment.


This practice of minding your own business is just that, a practice.

It is a new way of thinking and behaving that is developed through repeated efforts. When you first begin to apply this practice, you’ll be confronted with old negative thoughts and thought patterns popping up or creeping in, telling you or tempting you to pay attention to the thoughts/words/actions of the people around you.

Your job is to recognize those thoughts, stop them in their tracks, refocus your attention inward, into YOUR business. It takes practice–I know from experience.

But with consistent effort, you’ll find it so much easier to attend less to the thoughts/words/actions of others, to accept that whatever they think/say/do is about them and their struggles, not about you at all.



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





Get into the business of minding your own business.

Your mind will thank you, your heart will thank you, your body will thank you. And it will be crazy the things you dare to do, and then accomplish, as a result. It makes me excited for you just thinking about it!



It Ain’t Over ’til it’s Over.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

~ Yogi Berra

Two weeks ago I stayed up late to watch the Seahawks play the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship and trip to the SuperBowl.  It was a commitment for me because the game started at 9:30 PM (I live in Germany) and I have to get up to get the kids off to school and take on my day at 0600, so staying up late (past midnight on a Sunday) is no joke for me!  Even though they were playing on our home turf (Century Link Field), the Seahawks couldn’t pull their proverbial sh*t together, and the score was 16-0 at the half.  Ugh.  It didn’t look good.  My husband asked if I wanted to go to bed; I replied, no, a lot can happen in a short time in football.  Compound not feeling very hopeful, being really tired (and not looking forward to dealing with kids in a few short hours) with taunting by local Packers fans on Facebook, my outlook was becoming a bit bleak.  During the third quarter, a Packer fan friend said she’d make sure to invite us to their SuperBowl party, but I still wasn’t ready to concede.  “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” I told her.  And it wasn’t.

I still have no idea how they did it, how the Seahawks came back in the second half, and then in overtime, to win the game and secure their spot in the SuperBowl for the second year in a row.  But the point is is that they DID do it–no one gave up, the players persisted, the quarterback remained ever hopeful, even positive in the face of near-certain defeat.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

I like to say, and truly believe, that there’s only one finish line and, until then, life is full of possibility.  It can be easy to get sucked into believing that the opportunity has passed you by, that you’re too old, too out of shape, too short on time, too long on responsibilities…that it’s just too late.

But where is it written that after a certain age or point in life that you should roll over an play dead?  That your time for chasing dreams and reaching goals is over?  That there is an expiration date on dreams, on improving one’s health, fitness, self-concept, quality of life?

I don’t know what I thought 40 would look and feel like when I was 20, or even 30, but I’m finding it a time full of vitality, opportunity, a time to push aside preconceived limits and keep reaching for the brass ring–and I bet 50 is as well, as is 60, and 70….

Take Harriet Thompson, the 91 year-old marathon finisher who ran her first marathon at age 76.

Or Ernestine Shepard, the world’s oldest female bodybuilder, now 78 years old.

Or Willie Murphy, a 77 year-old power lifter.

I don’t know about you, but they inspire me, and give me faith, rather than fear, in the future, make me think that the possibilities before me are endless, not ending.

“Age is no barrier.  It’s a limitation you put on your own mind.”

~Jackie Joyner-Kersee

It it takes courage to change, courage to take chances, courage to look foolish, and it’s courage that’s necessary challenge the thoughts that might hinder us from starting again, from doing the hard work we need to change and live our fullest lives.  And the effort it takes to find that courage, to take those chances?  It’s absolutely worth it.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s own courage.”

~ Anais Nin

So tonight the Seahawks play the Patriots in the SuperBowl, and I have no idea how it will turn out.  What I do know is that I’ll be watching, hopeful, until very minute of the game is played, the game clock hits zero.  Because you just never know what might happen in the fourth quarter…and it ain’t over ’till it’s over.