Archive for January 29, 2016

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!