Saturday, December 27, 2014

When Enough is Really Enough.

I think that if I were to write a book it would be the title of my blog today, "When Enough is Really Enough."

What do I mean by that?

I have been really struck these last few years as I continue on my own health journey and my studies in Obesity Prevention and Management that this country's obesity issue is simply a symptom of a much larger issue, the issue of over-consumption. 

We are a wealthy nation.  There is no denying that, and on the world stage we are a symbol of prosperity.  This new generation of up-and-comers has really not known what "being in want for anything" really means.  The whole concept of snapping our fingers and having what we want, whether it is a book, or a magazine, or a tasty treat to indulge our senses is the current landscape of what it means to live "in America."

This translates across the board to many things, but I want to talk TODAY about those of us who either ARE struggling with Obesity, or HAVE struggled with Obesity, and how the over-consumption mentality has turned us as a people into hoarders of calories. 

Our body has a unique design, and was designed for periods when food is plenty followed by periods of relative scarcity.  There is nothing WRONG with us or with our metabolism, and our bodies have this amazing ability to hoard energy in the form of calories for those periods where, historically, there have been food shortages or famines. 

Think about it.  As civilization grew and agriculture and domestication of animals became the norm, the food supply became more reliable and the "more is always better" mentality told us it is better to have and to eat MORE food rather than LESS.

In today's America, we literally have no threat of famine.  The amount of available calories in the marketplace are exponential in contrast to the amount of mouths we feed in this country, and we have not adjusted our consumption to our NEEDS, but they have kept in line with our WANTS.

Our bodies have taken these cues from our constant over-consumption of calories, and we as a people have grown larger...and larger...and larger through these last few generations.

You may be asking the question "well, is it wrong to have a mentality of over-consumption?"  I say it isn't morally WRONG, but it may be worth considering a paradigm shift if we are to have not only health in our own lives, but health as a nation.

What if we all decided as individuals and as a people that we were going to begin being responsible for our over-consumption of calories not only to benefit our health, but also to benefit our nation and our world?

What if we began valuing optimal nutrition and adequately meeting our nutritional needs with high-value foods?  What if it became a national priority to produce high-quality, organic fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, and what if we ate ENOUGH lean animal protein instead of TOO MUCH?

What if we stopped pumping empty "junk" calories into our marketplaces, and stopped exporting empty "junk" calories to the rest of the world?

What if this nation valued health, and we stopped being hoarders of calories on our person?

What if?

Just some things I've been thinking of lately.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Advice!

Today I include the following web address (cut and paste) to a short (10 minute) YouTube video by Tony Robbins:

One of the quotes in this video is "People are rewarded in public for what they have practiced for years in private."  He says that no matter what the goal, the successful people, the people who achieve their goals, didn't achieve it all at once but had a series of rituals that they put in place which they practiced every day in order to achieve that goal in bite size chunks.  This is so true!

One of my "rituals" which I call "habits" is: ALWAYS having a Medifast Meal for breakfast and only ONE small cup of coffee with cream with that breakfast. If I have a second cup of coffee, it is black. The second habit I have is that I immediately follow breakfast and coffee by filling up my 36 oz water bottle with water and 1 strawberry lemonade calorie-burn flavor infuser, and I DRINK it.

My third morning habit which in the last few months I had gotten OUT of the habit of doing (but reinstituted yesterday) is getting my shoes on and getting out the door for a minimum 3 mile run immediately AFTER my first water.

"Seemingly small, Incremental improvements practiced daily over time produce stunning results." - Robin Sharma

This morning as I was watching the video I realized that we even have habits during the holidays!  One of my habits around the holidays when I was morbidly obese (even though I was "always" on a "diet") was to begin eating OFF my plan up to even a WEEK before the actual holiday!  Whether it be Christmas, Thanksgiving, my Birthday, Valentines Day, whatever, I would consciously eat stuff I wasn't "supposed" to eat so as to relieve the "pressure" of deprivation I was "feeling" leading up to the Holiday.  That way, by the time the Holiday came, I could eat whatever I wanted on that day and not "feel" like a failure....because I was already off plan for the you see the twisted reasoning here?  I threw myself under the bus in ADVANCE so that I could NOT FEEL BAD on the DAY of the actual Holiday!  Meanwhile, I was actually FEELING horrible already because that is what sugar and lots of excess simple carbs DOES to me, it causes all sorts of low-grade inflammation in me and DEFINITELY was not taking me in the direction I SAID I wanted to go, which was TOWARDS HEALTH.

My habit NOW is to remain ON my eating plan both BEFORE the Holiday and even ON the Holiday, because I am really nurturing my long-term goals AND taking care of my health by remaining on plan!

I did a little research on the National Weight Control Registry on people who have lost 33% or more of their original body weight and maintained for a period greater than 3 years and this is what I found.  There are 3 common behaviors of such people. 

1)  They exercise up to 1 hour at least 5 days a week
2)  They monitor their weight frequently
3)  They are "monotonous" eaters, meaning that they don't deviate WHAT and HOW they eat between weekdays, weekends, or even holidays!

So I am constantly reinforcing my "habits" of eating in this way.  My threshold for what "constitutes" a reason to "eat of plan" has gone WAY up from my previous concepts when I was morbidly obese.  I don't consider "Thanksgiving" a "reason" to go off my eating plan.  I don't consider "Hey, it's the WEEKEND!" a "reason to go off my eating plan.  I can still consider these things special occasions, but I don't "reward" myself with "off-plan food" in my observance of these special occasions.

So, what rituals or habits are YOU developing in your journey to health?  Will you begin to change what you DO THIS Thanksgiving?  Are you willing to change your habits of eating "off plan" on the "Holidays?" 

To BE different we must DO differently.  "I've never EATEN on-plan on a Holiday" may be a good indicator that it is time to CHANGE.  Time to DO differently.  So you can BE different and achieve optimal health!

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Truths From Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1 Movie

“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”- Finnick Odair

I went to the movies last night, Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part One.  I was a little worried that I'd be the oldest person in a dark theater full of screaming adolescents who, to me at my age, look to be about 7 years old, but surprisingly there was a good mix of ages represented.  

Likely it is due to the appeal of the movie, which is broad in scale.  I have enjoyed the first two Hunger Games movies in the series and I was not disappointed last night.

The quote that grabbed me the most was made by Finnick Odair, who is, along with Katniss Everdeen, a "Victor-veteran-from-the-Hunger-Games-turned-rebel-freedom-fighter."  

Both of these characters fall into the category of "reluctant heroes" in that they didn't get to CHOOSE the challenges they are facing, but rise in the midst of those challenges to face them head on and to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, in order to attain the freedom they desire from the clutches of the oppressive Capital.

In one scene, Katniss and Finnick have an exchange where Katniss is asking Finnick how he manages to go on amidst the despair of knowing that the love of his life is still in the grips of President Snow, the evil dictator of the Capital.  In his answer, he says to her that "it takes ten times as long to put yourself back together is it does to fall apart."  

This struck a chord with me, as on my health journey it takes constant vigilant effort to continue to make wise decisions and to maintain what I have worked so hard to create with my health.  I know the truth of these words, in that if a few poor decisions begin to snowball I can rapidly tumble down a hill and undo very quickly the progress I have made, and it takes ten times more effort to pull myself back from the brink than it would have had I not chosen to go over the brink in the first place.  

It is never too late to become the person we "might have" been, however, and I am not afraid of a little hard work and dedication.  What I am committed to improving is my actions.  I feel sometimes like a reluctant hero - to myself.

I didn't choose my body, I didn't choose my genes, and I know that I will always put on excess weight again if I live "beyond my means" as regards food.  Excess intake and excess calories and decreased activity will ALWAYS result in weight gain for me, and this, again, is not something I chose but it IS the only body I have and I can either honor its limitations and live the healthy life I want to live DESPITE those challenges, OR I can tumble down the hill and kiss my health goodbye.  

Katniss is driven by the love she has for  her family and the love she has for Peeta (who is also in the custody of the evil Capital) to do what needs to be done, to rise to the challenges of the situation, and to fight for what she believes in even though at times she is not quite sure herself what is so special about her in particular which has thrust her into the position of "heroine."  

Katniss didn't choose her circumstances but she does choose how to respond.  

I didn't choose to have the body that I have, but I DO decide what to do with it.  I DO decide which direction my life is going and what ACTIONS I will take to achieve the purpose I am called to.  I am choosing freedom in the midst of my circumstances, because I make the decision what to do next as regards my health.  And I will fight for what I have accomplished, I will not back down.  If temporary setbacks come I will continue to ACT in a manner which will move me forward in my health. 

FACT:  I have lost 150 pounds.  FACT: I have maintained a healthy BMI for 2 years.  FACT:  I am closer to the top end of the "healthy" BMI and feel my best when I am about 15 pounds lighter than I am today.  FACT:  I will move forward today in continuing to create the health I desire in my life.  

Rinse and Repeat!



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stress Eating and How I Can Respond

On this journey I have made many realizations about myself and the relationship I have with food.  I know that while on one hand I've developed many healthy habits and my life has benefited greatly from them, the UNhealthy habits never go away, they just go dormant in the back of my brain.

The reason this is important to understand is that the journey will always have its ups and downs, and if I begin practicing unhealthy behaviors again those unhealthy habits will pop up full force and be strong DEmovitators for me.

Stress eating is one area where I still struggle.  I was reminded of this in the last few days, when my son's nephrologist asked us to repeat the labs we had taken a week before, because his white blood cell count had come back dangerously low.

After 6 years of relative smooth sailing post-transplant (kidney) this was the first time we had seen this happen, and it threw me into an emotional tailspin.

I'm being completely honest here, and totally transparent, because I think it helps me sort out my own tendencies and I always want to be "real" with anyone who reads this blog.  Suffice it to say there were a few gummi-bears harmed in the last 24 hours.

Now, I have two choices this morning as I massage my sore neck (too much sugar, causes instant inflammation in my body).  I can throw up my hands and say, in despair, "I can never change!  See?  This proves it!"  OR I can get right back to my healthy habits which I have spent the last 4 years cultivating and developing.  I choose to make the decision (mindfully) in favor of my health (and sanity!).  I choose health.

This is a skill I have developed, one that I have practiced over the last 4 years because let's face it, as Dr. A says in his book "Dr. A's Habits of Health" it is not that ONE hamburger that will kill us.  It is having that ONE hamburger EVERY DAY.  I am not in the habit of eating gummi bears OR hamburgers daily.  I dropped the "all-or-nothing" mentality years ago, which is why I've been able to maintain my weight within a healthy BMI for some time now.

These last few months I have been focusing more on his chapter in his book discussing STRESS because I think that STRESS MANAGEMENT is a HUGE area that I can improve upon.

Stress can cause a whole CASCADE of neuroendocrine responses in the body which FAVOR fat deposition and chronic inflammation.  I know that 7 years ago, when I GAINED back the 140 pounds I had recently LOST (during the time of my son's kidney transplant) stress played a BIG part in that, not only in what I was choosing to eat (stress-eating) but also in how that food was processed by my body (all went to fat!).

I choose to NOT repeat that process.

So, today is about refocusing on what matters most to me.  And that does NOT include gummi-bears.  It DOES include taking some time to relax, meditate, pray, and take care of my family and myself.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Moment I Knew?

Sometimes I get the question "When did it really click for you?  Was there a moment that you simply KNEW that you HAD TO LOSE WEIGHT?"

It's difficult to answer that question in an elevator LOL.  I don't have an "elevator story" for that because it's a pretty complex journey that I've had, and YES I've had a MOMENT of decision.  I've had many MOMENTS of decision which didn't pan out into action, and at some point the cumulation of those MOMENTS became so unbearable that the pain of staying the same was greater than the pain of TAKING ACTION.  In fact, I did a short video clip some years ago which was featured in the Huffington Post on one such "moment" of decision.

That "moment" was one of those epic moments of decision for me, but I have had many "moments" since.

The moment I got stuck in the turnstiles at Disneyworld on my son's Make-A-Wish Trip.
The moment I saw that I couldn't ride the carousel because there was a 250 pound weight limit.
The moment I needed a seatbelt extender on the flight from Orlando to Phoenix MID FLIGHT...I hadn't needed one when I got ON the plane, but after using the restroom and coming back to my seat I couldn't get it fastened so I had to ask for a seatbelt extender.  I was literally expanding by the minute!
The moment our son's Nephrologist told us the best thing we could do as advocates for our son was to "model health."
The moment someone asked if my son was my grandson.
The moment my size 26 women's plus-size stretch jeans from Walmart were too tight to zip.
And the moments continued.

And I finally TOOK ACTION.

Gradually as I continued on my journey my focus CHANGED, in that at some point along the way I embraced the paradigm shift of "creating optimal health" in my life (as opposed to "weight loss") and I began to learn the Habits of Health that would be my vehicle (thank you Take Shape For Life and Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen for creating that tool and allowing me to be a part of it!).

But total transformation of the mind and body doesn't rest on "a moment" or "a decision" made some time ago.  Yes I CHOSE HEALTH way back when and put ACTION to my decision.  But the truth of the matter is that every morning I need to RE-CHOSE HEALTH with the same commitment of action.

Every.  Morning.

The mornings I DON'T re-chose health I struggle.  If that turns in to TWO mornings in a row, I struggle more.  If that stretches into a WEEK of not re-choosing health I start to feel it in my jeans which begin to get a little tighter.  If that stretches into a MONTH of not re-choosing health I can be up 10-15 pounds.

So it is VITAL that EVERY morning I RE-CHOSE to BE a fit and healthy woman.  After the choice, I follow it up with action.  I ACT in a manner which is congruent with my decision and with my goals.

I was thinking of that word "Act" a few days ago.  Sometimes it feels like I'm a character in a movie, and that I'm "acting" like the person I want to be.  Sometimes I don't FEEL the motivation, I don't FEEL like being true to my eating plan.  Hence, "Acting".  But then it hit me, that to ACT like a fit and healthy woman can also mean not that I'm an ACTOR but that I'm an ACTION-ER.  This means that I take the ACTIONS necessary to achieve my goals no matter how I happen to FEEL that day.

So, today I CHOOSE to ACT in a manner which is congruent to my decision to BE a "Fit and Healthy Woman" because that is who I want to be.  Because I didn't choose transformation once and for all and for always, I choose transformation TODAY, and tomorrow I will CHOOSE transformation again.

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Tale of Two Lives....

Life can be funny sometimes, y'know?  I've noticed that in my OWN life I can work myself into and out of a funk on a pretty regular basis.  The last month or two I have been living in extreme funk-ville.
In retrospect, I can laugh.  I can see the humor and the tunnel-vision, all at the same time.  Today I chose to reframe things.  You see, I'm a perfectionist.  Sometimes being a perfectionist is beneficial to me, but most days it is a hindrence rather than a help.  But I'm OK now.  I'm working through it.

Why a "Tale of Two Lives?"  Because I am the same person I was yesterday, in the same situation, with the same circumstances.  The same difficulties and stressors darkened my doorway this morning as did yesterday, but I am choosing to reframe the context and count my blessings.  

Yesterday I was feeling a bit trapped in this "post-obese" body.  Yesterday I was becoming frustrated with the limitations of always needing to be minful of my intake and my activity level.  I was paying too much attention to the "perceived bummers" that remaining a healthy and fit woman brings along with it.  You know the negative chatter "I wish I could eat this.....I wish I didn't HAVE to exercise every day...I wish I didn't have contraints on my time...I wish I could do what I WANT!"

Then it hit me again like a ton of bricks, I DO have the freedom to do exactly what I want.  So I need to be careful and guard my "wants" like a precious gift.  I need to recalibrate when that inner-brat is beginning that chatter in my brain in an attempt to make me feel incapable, unloved, and downright sorry for myself.

I have a life that I would envy.  I make my own hours, I help people bring health into their lives, my husband homeschools our darling 10-year old boy.  I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and relatively few outside "pressures."  

I only have the pressure I put on myself.  I have plenty of time to be active, to go for a run, to go for a swim, I know how to cook and to eat healthily, and my family is doing fine!  

So what it boils down to is this.  Remembering who I am and what I can do.  Remembering that I alone am responsible for what I put into my body, and I alone am responsible for how much I choose to move it around.  Remembering that this life, my life, is a gift and we all have our "stuff" we deal with but that I HAVE done this, I CAN continue doing this, and I WILL continue to remain healthy.

What does that look like today in my life?  I am on my eating plan.  And life is good.

Rinse and Repeat!   

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Am I a Dog?

I think it is an interesting scenario to ponder....

And I have done it more times than I can count....

But when I look at it this way, I never want to do it again.

What is "it"?

Rewarding myself with food.

Think about it.  How many times have we said to ourselves "I've been so good!  I deserve a little treat!"

So, we do, don't we.  We reward ourselves with that little cookie, or that little piece of such-and-so, whatever our "favorite" is, right?  A small piece of chocolate?  Some extra cheese?

And then it hit me....we do that to dogs, too, don't we!

"Oh, good doggie, Fido, here's a little treat!"

Wow.  The association I drew yesterday smacked me right between the eyes.  I will NOT treat myself like a dog ever again.

Rewarding myself with edible treats when I've been a "good girl" on my eating plan is now going to cause me to scream in my head "I am not a dog, nor will I treat myself like one!"  In fact, I may buy two small packages of doggie treats at the store next time I am there and put one in the pantry and one in the refrigerator or freezer, in prominent places, to REMIND me that dogs get rewarded with treats when they are good.  Not me.

It is 100% counter-intuitive for us to reward ourselves with little treats if we are attempting to achieve optimal health by achieving a healthy weight, and it is 100% counter-intuitive for those of us who are "post-obese" persons to do it, either!

Our bodies will always be seeking to put the extra weight back on, our bodies will always be seeking to "prepare for a famine that never comes" by storing excess calories beyond our daily needs back into our fat cells.  And this doesn't suit my purposes.

Just something I was thinking about yesterday.  Kind of humorous but also shockingly true.

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I knew it!

This an interesting article, and while reading it I realized that our program DID exactly what this article is saying FOR me! I LOVE awesome healthy food now! It says that in order to rewire your brain to crave healthy food, you "swap out" what you WERE eating before for, "high-fiber, high-protein meals that tastes similar to what the dieters used to eat, effectively tricking and re-wiring the reward-seeking part of the brain and conditioning people to prefer healthier foods." Our program is a portion-controlled meal-replacement program where you eat 5 of the meals provided by the program (they send it them to you) and 1 meal of protein and vegetables that you make yourself. The meal options of the portion-controlled meal-replacements range from sloppy joe to brownies (yes, I could have 5 brownies in a day and be "on plan"), mac-and-cheese, mashed potatoes, mango soft serve ice cream, cinnamon pretzels, chili-nacho cheese puffs, BBQ bites, ziti marinara, soft bake chocolate chip cookies, etc. An argument I've heard from people is "but it doesn't teach you how to eat healthy" and I've always known this to be incorrect intuitively, because I DO know how to eat healthy and I credit our program for rewiring my brain to do just that! Evidence-based, my friends, evidence-based.

At the beginning of my journey I used to get that question ALL of the TIME!  "But you aren't learning how to eat for the rest of your life...."

You know, thinking back, that would discourage me.  Although I knew that is WAS teaching me, I couldn't put it into words for them OTHER than to tell them that I prepare a healthy Lean and Green every day which DOES teach me, and I was ALSO learning the habit of eating breakfast every day, AND eating smaller portions.  I was learning how to FUEL my body and not overeat.  I was learning to take CARE of my body and not feed it JUNK.  And now, scientific EVIDENCE proves that my mind was being REWIRED in the process to crave healthy food!  So just another example of how our program DID TEACH me how to EAT for the rest of my life.

It allowed me to change my habits, change my motivation, change my life, change my wants, change EVERYTHING about myself which I had been majorly hung up on for most of my adult life up until then!  

Yes, friends, this program worked, works, is working, will work.  I have learned how to be HEALTHY.  

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Are We Still Kidding Ourselves?

I remember the day when that first purchase of Halloween Candy "for the kiddos" right around October 15th would set off a cascade of events which would catapult me through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve and leave me with an extra 10 pounds on my person.

You know what I mean, that first tingle of "Oh, wow, Halloween candy, right...I'd better pick up a bag of my favorites right now before I forget."

Then I'd get INTO that very bag well before Halloween.  Which would leave me needing to buy another bag at 4pm on October 31st anyway because I had eaten completely through the first one.  The one I bought for the kiddos.

November 1st would roll around and I'd still be in a sugar-coma from the Halloween candy.  But I couldn't start any program because, of course, Thanksgiving was coming up.  And who starts a program before Thanksgiving?  That would be a futile exercise, right?  So went my thinking in the PAST.  So the menu planning and the procurement of food stuffs FOR Thanksgiving would begin in earnest.  You know, the sorting through the recipes, the gathering of the pumpkin pie fixings, the elaborate side-dishes, I could feel my mouth watering with every Food Network Thanksgiving Show I watched!  And a few more pounds would come on in anticipation with some of the "test recipes" I would make, you know, just in case, because it was a new recipe and all.

Thanksgiving Day would come and I would be SO FULL already by the time Thanksgiving Dinner rolled around because I had been tasting and testing as I prepared everything.  Then the "post-Thanksgiving nap."  That tryptophan-laden slumber of being SO stuffed I could hardly breathe.  Good thing I was wearing an elastic waist-band, or better yet a draping dress that of COURSE hid my rolls.

Finally, the Christmas Season, which had already hit with a vengeance on October 26th, was in full swing.  Time to make the "Christmas Cookies" because, of course, it was TRADITION!  The massive quantities of fudge I would have to make early in December simply to have enough pieces to go around on Christmas Eve.  Turns out I had to make about 3 double-batches before Christmas anyway to have enough because we kept eating them and eating them in advance of the festivities.  And the fudge was just ONE of the 6 or 7 varieties of Christmas Cookies/Goodies I was famous for making.  Nevermind the Mrs. Field's Eggnog Cookies that I ALSO had to make a few double-batches of in order to have 24 left by Christmas Eve. 

And finally, New Year's Eve.  What is New Year's Eve without food, and a LOT of it?  Appetizers, champagne, you name it. 

I honestly don't think I felt a PANG of hunger from October 15th clear through until January 1st.

THEN came the resolution.  "I will lose weight this year!"

Sure.  If the previous 3 months was any indication of my resolve, I was in trouble.  Still kidding myself.

So, then comes the question.

What would I be willing to do to FINALLY realize my dreams of attaining and maintaining optimal health?  

If you could, with the right tools and a little motivation and support, start something right NOW that could allow you to LOSE 10-22 pounds BY Christmas, would you be interested in that proposition?  Would you believe that by following a simple eating plan JUST FOR TODAY and then when you wake up tomorrow, following a simple eating plan JUST FOR TODAY you can realize your goal? 

The good news is you CAN.  The question is WILL YOU?

You see, I used to be the person described in the first half of this blog.  I used to BE Class IV Obese.  But I can tell you that even if you have 10-20 pounds to lose, you can relate to this blog, and you CAN get the results you want and live the life you desire, in health.  The plan is simple, and effective, and clinically proven.  The cost is ONLY the cost of the food you eat ON the plan, and a book called "Dr. A's Habits of Health" which will teach you how to learn the principles to make this a LIFESTYLE change instead of just another failed "diet."  

If you are READY to bring health into your life and you can FOLLOW a simple program when 5 out of the 6 meals you will eat daily are PROVIDED FOR YOU, if you can DRINK water, if you can simply CONTROL for 24 hours what you put in your mouth, then repeat again tomorrow for just 24 more hours, etc, you CAN be successful on this plan.  And since I am a FREE health coach (you only pay for your food which you consume on the plan) I will assist you to FINALLY navigate through this Holiday Season with success.

If you are thinking "But I WANT to eat Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner, I don't WANT to start something now and NOT be able to enjoy those two days" think of it this way:  You are talking TWO days out of SIXTY-ONE days if you start on November 1st.  That is TWO days and really it is your decision whether you enjoy those meals in moderation, no one is going to slap your hand or think you are a failure if you make a DECISION to have a couple Tablespoons of stuffing and a small sliver of pumkin pie.  You MAY even get to those meals and decide that it isn't WORTH it to you to have a few yummy things and sacrifice those days on plan.  But it isn't a deal-breaker unless YOU make it one.

RIGHT NOW there are some incentives available to new people coming onto the program, and those SAME incentives are available to people who are not NEW to the plan, but have not ordered in the last 12 months.  Is RIGHT NOW the time for you to make a decision?  Please e-mail me at and we can get your plan on  your way to you. 

For me, it was a turning point in my life and my health when I committed to the process.  What will YOU do?

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Still Focusing on Health, Never "Done With This Thing!"

Have you ever said to yourself "Man, I can't wait until I'm DONE losing weight, I can't wait until I'm OFF this thing I can't wait until I REACH my goal!"

I used to say that all of the time to myself.  It was my common chatter in my brain, the way I viewed my "weight-loss journey."

That was when I was a yo-yo dieter.  I had an oscillating pattern of "lose-gain-repent-repeat" and would white-knuckle it for so long, stuck in the realm of a deprivation mindset which made me anxious to be "finished."

This journey to attain and maintain Optimal Health has been SO different on SO many levels, I can truly say that although I am the same person my mind is NOT even CLOSE to being in the SAME oscillating weight-cycling pattern of my 20's and 30's. 

You see, when I made it all about "weight-loss" I was hyper-focused on getting something OUT of my life that I didn't want there anymore.  I was wearing size 28 Women's Stretch Jeans (well, actually I wasn't because they didn't fit me anymore and I was down to wearing my 3XL Men's sweatpants and 4XL Men's T-shirts), I would huff and puff simply walking in to the grocery store from the as-close-as-I-could-get parking space that I had spent 15 minutes waiting for, and I rarely played on the floor with my son because I could never get up off the floor without having a piece of furniture to lean on for support. 

I try to remind myself where I've been occasionally, because it really puts me in a gratitude mindset.

I am so grateful that I found Take Shape For Life.  You see, I had tried EVERYTHING in the past.  I had just come off the heels of losing 140 pounds in 14 months and gaining it all back in the same amount of time, and my confidence was shattered, my heart was broken.  I felt completely incapable of bringing lasting change into my life.  Sure I could "diet" with the best of them.  I could get results.  But as soon as I hit my "goal weight" or got relatively close, it's like a switch would flip in my brain and I would become overwhelmed with life and circumstances and turn to my old friend "yummy food" to just make it through a day or a week or a month.  And guess what?  My body continued to respond to the instructions I gave it.  It always has, and it always will.  There is NO magic wand that comes in and changes my internal physiology and makes me a "normal person" who can "eat normally" and remain a healthy weight.  So what's a girl to do if she desires to live life as a fit and healthy woman but has been given the body I was given, complete with limitations and boundaries on my food intake?

I chose health.

I chose health, and I did what I needed to do in order to LEARN the limitations of my body that would NEVER change and I learned to co-operate with them joyfully.  I utilized the Take Shape For Life system and all that it had to offer to LEARN Habits of Health.

My story, while unique to me, is not unique to me.  It is available to anyone who makes a fundamental decision to CHOOSE HEALTH.

I put food in it's proper place in my life, and didn't simply put my relationship with it on "hold" for a time "while I lost my weight" but I CHANGED my relationship with it.  I learned to LOVE vegetables, and I PREFER them over just about anything else.  I got rid of the junk in my house PERMANENTLY.  I created a micro-environment of health around me, because the macro-environment of this country is so obesity-promoting it almost gives me PANIC attacks when I go to stores like Walmart or even Big-Chain grocery stores such as Safeway or Fry's to SEE all the "junk" that is being passed off as "food" these days.

It's funny, as I sit here and ponder how people can actually say to me "I want to eat "real food" and not out of a packet for my nutrition.  Let me tell you something, the stuff that is being churned out for mass-consumption in this country is killing us.  We say we want to eat "gluten-free non-GMO organic" then we go buy the box of crackers, cookies, or smoothie drinks that say "gluten-free non-GMO organic" on it thinking we are doing ourselves a favor, when what we are ACTUALLY doing is infusing super-high doses of sugar into our systems.  The forces of marketing promote obesity in this country.  Period.  And if I had never made a decision for health I would be stuck in the mindset that I was doing good things for my body while still exceeding my calorie limit every single day and growing larger and larger.

I say these things because they are on my mind these days.  I say these things because I am striving for optimal health for myself AND for my family.  I hope it is helpful to someone.   I realize this is a very wandering blog today.  Partly because I got up in the middle of it and made my Lean and Green and therefore my mind wandered on to other things. 

Basically, I am NEVER "Done" with this thing because then I'd be "Done" with pursuing health.  And that is not going to happen.  People ask me all the time if I'm still using the Meal Replacements even at a healthy weight.  I tell them "heck yes!"  Not because I HAVE to use them.  In fact many people maintain beautifully without utilizing the Meal Replacements.  But I happen to ENJOY them.  I happen to love the convenience and portability of KNOWING that I will be able to keep my blood sugars stable all day which will KEEP my cravings virtually non-existent and allow me to easily stay in a place of good decisions regarding my food intake.  So, yes.  I use them.  4-5 per day I use them.  I have never grown tired of them.  I love me a good HEALTHY Brownie Soft Bake knowing that I am assisting my body to remain at a healthy weight and ALSO enjoying a little bit of Brownie!  I keep using the products because I WANT to keep using the products.

I was talking about the "limitations of my body" and the fact that it will "always follow the instructions I give it" with regards to losing weight, gaining weight, or maintaining weight.  I think it is important to make a solid distinction here, and to give some evidence-based data to support what I am about to tell you:

After losing 150 pounds utilizing the Take Shape For Life Program, I did not "screw up" my metabolism.  This program didn't leave me with a really LOW metabolism.  As a matter of fact, my metabolism, when ACTUALLY measured with indirect spirometry (they put a mask on you and measure YOUR individual oxygen consumption over time while in a resting state and they TELL you what YOUR Resting Metabolic Rate is) came in HIGHER than predicted for a woman of my age and height/weight.  That is right, HIGHER than predicted.  Seventy-five calories HIGHER than predicted when they did the simple equations for a woman of my size.  That tells me that it isn't that the limitations of my body were imposed on me and "screwed up" over years of yo-yo dieting.  That tells me that our common "perceptions" of what our metabolisms "should be" are just flat out wrong in this day and age.  We THINK that we "should be" able to eat 1800-2000 calories per day and that is "normal".  Well it isn't "normal" for a 5 foot 3 woman, and it never was.  Everyone is different, and "normal" for me was actually calculated at 1250 (not including factoring in exercise).  But my ACTUAL was 1326.  In today's food/eating out landscape here are some examples of what my DAILY INTAKE would be (theoretically, if it were SOLELY about the numbers of calories-which it isn't) to MAINTAIN my weight:

Day 1: Cinnabon (880 calories) + 1 Wedge Salad from Outback Steakhouse (435 calories)

Day 2:1 Oriental Chicken Salad from Applebees (1290 Calories) + 1 cup of coffee with 2 TBSP Half and Half

Day 3:1 Waldorf Salad from California Pizza Kitchen (1230 Calories) + 1 piece of whole wheat toast without butter (100 Calories)

Now I would never ACTUALLY EAT like this, but I wanted to use it as a frame of reference to show you HOW QUICKLY the calories add up in our current society.

Here's a great article that highlights the changes in our perceptions over the last few decades with regards to food intake and portion-sizes:

Many people "think" that the program we utilize for weight loss is extreme.  I say it is NOT, I say that what we view is "normal" these days is in fact "extreme overeating."  I think that beginning to UNDERSTAND that in our society and culture today is the BEGINNING of being able to embrace my own limitations and understand that I am not a freak because "I don't get to eat normally and not gain weight as a result."  I simply have a realistic and accurate view of what "normal" really is for my body.  I say that our weight loss portion of our program is not "extreme" and that it simply encourages us to get into the fat burning state and utilize all the extra calories we have been hoarding on our persons for years and years.  And to DO that we need to create a calorie deficit while still giving our bodies what it NEEDS every day.

So embrace the change.  KNOW that you will likely need to adjust your view of what "normal" is, and you will need to respond to your body and its cues.  KNOW that you will NEED to do a full Transition after the Weight Loss Phase, and then you will move into Maintenance which likely won't look a WHOLE lot different than your last week of TRANSITION, and will be dependent on predicted metabolism as calculated through the formulas used in Dr. A's Habits of Health.  This is the food basics of what I have learned.

 Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, October 13, 2014

No Regrets

My whole family had a brush with death last night.

No joke.

Here is what happened on our flight:

I am very grateful to God and to the Southwest Pilot who successfully landed our plane last night in Phoenix upon returning from our Leadership Retreat at the Sundance Resort in Utah. We were on flight #1344 from SLC - PHX yesterday (October 12th).

Here is what we THINK happened, of course we have had no formal confirmation from Southwest Airlines.
As our landing gear was coming down on approach to Phoenix Sky Harbor, a VERY loud and disturbing buzz/vibration began emanating from what felt like the landing gear on the left side of the plan (we were seated directly behind the left wing). After the buzz went on for over 2 minutes (I've never heard this buzz before and have flown 100's of times) the pilot appeared to be adjusting his approach drastically, and began banking hard and beginning to climb when he should have been leveling out and lining up for the runway. After about 3 minutes of confused passengers glancing nervously around and no information from the flight-crew as to what was going on the left landing gear sounded like it clunked down (we felt it under our feet) and the buzz went away, and the pilot then banked hard again and began to RAPIDLY descend and level out, as it appears he made the decision to land right then instead of abandoning the landing effort (so that trucks could go out and spray the runway with a foam-like fire-retardant liquid for a possibly belly-land with the landing gear UP). SO, from then on it was also like no other landing I have experienced, it began as a one-wheel land and we were going much faster than I have ever remembered a landing speed to be. The pilot came down first ON the left side, we believe he was testing the gear to make sure it was, in fact, down and locked before committing to the land and putting the other wheel down. That way if he sensed something was not right he could fire up the speed and take off again before the runway ran out. I seriously thought our left wing was going to scrape the runway and begin the plane in a summersault (sp?) and we were still going WAY faster than normal. The right wheel went down and the engines were put into full reverse thrust mode, and I think a few prayers of thanksgiving were uttered in the cabin and in the ***-pit also. I'm sure pilots have had lots of training on how to deal with these situations, and I KNOW that IF this is what happened our pilot was a hero and used all of his training to get us safely on the ground. Incidentally, before we landed the flight crew had told us that this flight was continuing on to San Francisco and that passengers continuing on could remain in their seats until departure. After we landed, ahem, the flight crew came on and said that the 4 people going on to San Francisco would need to off-load the aircraft because they were doing an "aircraft change". I bet they were. I bet that airplane that we landed in was driven directly over to the mechanics in the Southwest Hangar and won't be back in commission until they fix the landing gear issue. Anyway, that was our story. Whew! Of course our son was looking to us for how to respond to the situation and the "funny noise" and we just smiled and shrugged our shoulders and said "Wow, isn't that something, I've never heard that noise before! Cool!"

So, the title of this blog is "No Regrets" because of the incredible health journey my family and I have taken these last four years.  Take Shape For Life has allowed me to have the tools and support to make a FUNDAMENTAL DECISION towards HEALTH.  Four years ago I could barely SIT in an airplane seat let alone get the seat belt fastened.  These last four years our family has gotten healthy, I have been able to bring my husband home from his Architectural Project Manager job in order to homeschool our ten year old son, and we are living the life we always wanted to live.  Had our plane crash-landed it would have been OK!  I can tell you that if it HAD crash-landed my last thought would have been one of fulfillment and contentment.  It would NOT have been "If only I had lost the weight....."

I mean really, think about it.  All my life until four years ago pretty much my ONLY desire in life was "to finally lose the weight."  That desire had hogged up ALL my dream-power, ALL of my goal-setting, and MUCH of my waking thought-life.  Every year about this time I would be reading up on the latest "diet" and saying to myself "OK, Self, as soon as I eat all the Halloween candy I want, as soon as I stuff myself silly ONE LAST TIME at Thanksgiving, and as soon as I BAKE AND EAT lots and lots of Christmas Cookies and Fudge and go to the New Year's Eve Party and drink lots and lots of champagne, THEN I'm going to really get serious and LOSE WEIGHT."

What an A-1 "BS-er" I was.  Really.  No joke.  I could work my way through the ENTIRE holiday season through to January 1st DENYING that I had a true problem that needed TRUE attention.  And by January 1st I was busting out of my CURRENT size, you know, that size I swore I'd never go ABOVE, and be wearing my sweatpants and sweatshirts and that XXL tent-dress on New Year's Eve because nothing in my closet fit me and I refused to BUY the next size up.  So then I'd DIET.  I'd diet like the professionals.  I'd restrict and eliminate and limit and use every ounce of willpower I had to get through the first week of "Diet of the Year." 

And I'd lose a few pounds.  Sure, I always did.  We always lose a few pounds when we are gung-ho about that new whatever thing we are trying.

But then, time would pass, and I'd go right back to that oscillating pattern of "lose-gain-repent-repeat."

Until I found Take Shape For Life. 

Now I can listen to that Switchfoot song, "This is my life...are you who you want to be...." and say YES!!!   I am living the life I want, I am WHO I want to be!  And it is freaking AWESOME!

Are you who you want to be?

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cuz I Got a Peaceful, Easy Feeling....

Cause I got a peaceful easy feeling
And I know you won't let me down
'Cause I'm already standing on the ground
I love the Eagles.  And their lyrics are flowing through my head as I sit here preparing TAXES for the extension we filed in April.  And guess what?  I've got a peaceful easy feeling!

Not because I am doing taxes, but because I am being true to my eating plan and authentic to WHO I decided to BECOME 4 years ago. 

A fit and healthy woman.

I think so much has to do with our identity.  Who we want to be.  I decided who I wanted to be and I set my course to DO only those things which THAT person who I wanted to BE would DO.

In years past this was not so.  I would yo-yo diet all over the place, even losing 140 pounds just to gain it back.  And I SO remember what I said to a friend of mine in THAT journey, when I was AT my goal weight.  She had complimented me on my "weight loss" and I had said, out loud to her, "Yes, but I'll probably gain it all back, because I always do that."


So spoken, so done.
So expected, so done.

It was an absolute self-fulfilling prophecy.  And guess what, it came true.

A year later I was the highest I had ever been, at 272 pounds and walking with a cane.


I picked myself up off the floor and I made a DECISION to change my IDENTITY.  I was no longer going to identify myself as a chronic "dieter" who could "lose weight" with the best of them, simply to turn around and gain it all back again as if a switch had been flipped in my brain and changed me from Jekyll into Hyde.

No more of that nonsense.  Seriously, it was nonsense.  You see, I had the power to CREATE the life I wanted.  I had the power to DECIDE who it is I wanted to be, and then BECOME that person.

Now I'm not saying a cat can become a dog.  I'm not saying an apple can become a snake.

I AM saying that we will DO exactly what we EXPECT to do.  And we, in this country, pretty much always get what we really want.  "For where your treasure is your heart will be also."  And my treasure had been....FOOD.  The yummy FOOD.  I pintressed it.  I collected recipes for ooey-gooey things.  I baked Christmas cookies every year and gave them to the neighbors.  I had a zillion baking books for cakes and pies and tarts.  You know the ones, like the Williams and Sonoma beautiful coffee-table display books with the shiny pictures promising sweet tempting things.  I was a foodie.

I changed that. 

I began to IDENTIFY myself as a FIT AND HEALTHY WOMAN.  And I wasn't lying to myself or playing games, I was dead serious.  When I was in a restaurant I adopted the attitude of "what would a fit and healthy woman order at this restaurant?" and then I would order that.  When I put on my walking shoes I would ask myself "what would a fit and healthy woman do today?" and I would propel myself out the door with my favorite music.  At the movie theatre I would ask myself "would a fit and healthy woman buy a large popcorn and a box of dots?" and the answer to that would be no, so I'd have my diet coke and Medifast Chili Nacho Cheese Puffs. 

At wedding receptions and birthday parties I would ask "what would a fit and healthy woman eat?" and I'd bypass the cake, bread and desserts, sticking with my chicken and salad, OR I'd simply eat my Medifast Meal ahead of time and drink water. 

I changed my EXPECTATIONS of myself to do ONLY what a fit and healthy woman would do.  I read Dr. A's Habits of Health and began to adopt them as my own.  I stayed accountable to my Health Coach.  I DID.

I DID some more.

And now I've maintained a healthy weight for 2 years.  And I DON'T have an itch to scratch which will send me over the edge and back to a class IV morbidly obese woman with a BMI of 47+ because I am not her anymore.  I am a fit and healthy woman, and a fit and healthy woman I will remain.

And there is great peace and joy in the journey, and peace and joy in the process.

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Not My Story That Matters, It's YOURS!

Today on my 3 mile run around my neighborhood I was amazed (again...always...) at how light I felt.  Lighter than air, actually!  Nothing jiggling, nothing wiggling, no black eyes (only women will know what I mean by that LOL TMI)....and I was simply ENJOYING being in MY SKIN.  I was enjoying MOVING.  I was enjoying listening to some great tunes on my playlist (Coldplay, The Script, Nickelback, Capital Cities, One Republic, the list could go on and on!), and I was just grateful.  Grateful for the tools that provided me the opportunity to create health in my life.  Grateful for the support system that I have and the people I have befriended along the way.  Grateful.

Then I began to think about other people who I know who have brought a similar level of health into THEIR lives.  I was grateful that THEY recognized their own capability to write their OWN stories of health. 

I am not unique. There is nothing that I have been able to do on my journey that anyone who desires the same thing can't bring into their own, with the right tools and the right support (message me if you'd like my support!). Again, grateful for the tools and support Take Shape For Life has given me. I would recommend no other program!  And believe me, I KNOW what is out there.  Some of it is downright DANGEROUS.

I am reminded of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories that I read and loved as a teenager, and I was struck by how similar my journey to health has been to a Choose Your Own Adventure book.  You know the ones I'm talking about, don't you?  Those books where at the end of every section you have the opportunity to choose what action the hero/heroine of the story takes next, then depending on the action you chose you turned to a different page in the book to see what happened?  And then at the end of THAT section there was ANOTHER opportunity to choose what your hero/heroine does and then turn the the corresponding page to THAT choice?  There were many different story combinations you could end up with, many different adventures and endings depending on what you chose, contained in ONE BOOK. 

I feel that way about my health journey.  Just think about it, we have the power to CHOOSE our story, to CHOOSE what we will do, and to LIVE the life we desire based upon our CHOICES!  How awesome is THAT?

We have always had the power of choice.  I'm not saying that every choice I have made in my life had a happy segment to experience.  In fact, many of my choices as regards my health in my college years and 20's and 30's had pretty dismal segments to read as a result.  But it was NEVER too late to change the story, to change the outcome, to become the heroine of my own story.  I simply changed my choices. 

And guess what?!!??  YOU can change YOUR story too!  Your story from here on out can be an exciting adventure of health and inspiration!  I started somewhere 4 years ago in a new chapter of my choosing.  Anything I have accomplished, anything I have done (which included losing over half of me and maintaining a healthy weight for 2 years now) is NOT UNIQUE to ME!  I simply changed my choices! 

Whether you are just beginning a new chapter, or are in the thick of the story, remember THIS.  Sometimes things get a little messier before they get a lot better.  It is the essence of story.  What will YOUR story be in a year?  In two years?  In three years?  In four years?  Will you be writing a blog like this that says "Hey!  I did it!  I succeeded in bringing health into my life, I love my newfound health, I feel great in my skin, I love to move, I love to help others, I love to write blogs like this!"

Or will you, like in the game Candyland, keep making progress and sliding back down the slide time and time again? 

It is YOUR choice.  YOU choose the next section.  YOUR adventure has just begun.  YOU are the heroine.  Now go write your story!

Here are the lyrics to an awesome song that is one of my favorites:

Unwritten, by Natasha Bedingfield:

"I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh, oh

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten"

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The "I-Just-Don't-Know-What-Happens-When-I-Get-Home" Syndrome

Yes.  IJDKWHWIGH Sydrome is, by definition, seen most often on Mondays-Fridays between the approximate hours of 5:30 pm and 11:30 pm. 

You can recognize IJDKWHWIGH Syndrome if you have 4 or more of the following symptoms, or behaviors:

1)  You are PER-FECT on your plan ALL DAY at work or at school or at home going about your business.  You drink your water.  You sing the praises of how good you are doing (and rightly so!  You are DOING this thing!  You are COMMITTED!)  You rip open those packets of Medifast Meals with hope and optimism because TODAY you have it HANDLED and you are feeling GOOD!

2)  There is no temptation that can tempt you at work/school/home between the hours of waking and 5:30 pm.  You have loads of willpower and you bypass that bowl of M&M's on the receptionist desk in the lobby without a second glance.

3)  At lunch social or business meetings at restaurants you always order an entree salad with dressing on the side and no cheese, no croutons, no dried fruit, and none of those little candy-glazed nuts that take those salads from being 178 calories to 778 calories (LOL).  And you are content.

4)  When you get home you are a little tired and hungry because you've gone a little too long after your last Medifast Meal and it's been 3.5 hours since you've eaten last and now you have to make a Lean and Green, which you are running a little late on because you remembered on the way home that you were out of vegetables so you had to stop for them.  And you picked up a rotisserie chicken because, let's face it, by the time your prepare your vegetables you will need a Lean that is already cooked or else it will be 7:00 pm before you actually eat ANYWAY and your last meal was at 2pm.  Oh, and you stopped drinking water around that same time because you didn't want to have to STOP on your commute home to use the restroom but you ended up having to do that anyway when you stopped at the store.

5)  NOW you are hungry.  With a capital H.  And you are tired.  And you haven't had anything to eat or drink since about 2pm so you start to pick at the chicken while preparing dinner for the family and making the salad or cooked green beans.  It's ok, no biggie.  It's only protein.

6)  Half an hour after dinner you FEEL hungry again.  You know it has to be emotional, because you had a really long hard day at work/school/home and now your spouse reminded you about something you forgot to do today that was R*E*A*L*L*Y important and you dropped the ball.

7)  The kids are in bed, and you are still 2 meals shy of getting all of your Medifast Meals in.  You don't feel like doubling up on your Medifast Meals at 8:30 pm, so you go in to the pantry just to see if there is anything quick you can have.  Maybe a handful of nuts.  That should kind of offset the 2 Medifast Meals and is much more tasty. 

8)  After the handful of nuts remorse sets in.  Just a little bit.  So you head to the refrigerator because really the thing you need that will allow you to unwind from  your day is some cheese.  You start with a laughing cow because you can't remember if you had all your healthy fats at dinner.  After all, you don't ACTUALLY measure those healthy fats, I mean who is going to do THAT.  Really?  Get a tsp measuring spoon out and MEASURE 1 tsp of olive oil?  Who DOES that? 

9)  After the 2 wedges of laughing cow cheese you surmise that you are still WAY too wound up and what would REALLY relax you (and you deserve it) is a glass of wine.  MAN it has been so long since you had a nice glass of wine.  Well, about 24 hours anyway, because you had one last night too under similar conditions.  So why not just go one more day.  After all, tomorrow is a new day, right?

If I have described to you anything that sounds reasonably similar to your experiences on weekdays, just know that I do NOT have a hidden camera hidden in your pantry, your refrigerator, or indeed your kitchen.  Events described are purely fictional.  If any similarities are noted, they are purely co-incidental. 

SO, then the question arises WHAT do you DO about it?

WHY do you DO it?  HOW can you STOP it?  WHY does it feel like a switch has been flipped in your brain, why do you care SO MUCH during the day about being ON PLAN and then seem to care SO LITTLE at night?

Here's the thing.  You do it because it is a habit.  Simple.  That is it.

You do it because you have been practicing that habit for some time.  It doesn't make you a bad person.  You are not BAD when you are off plan and GOOD when you are on plan.  It is morally neutral.  It is SIMPLY a habit you have gotten into, a habit that is not going to take you where you say you want to go in your health.

SO then, the next question is HOW do you achieve your health goals? 

You create a NEW habit.  You can't SIMPLY focus on NOT DOING what you've BEEN doing, you need to CREATE something ELSE to do which will be positive and will take the PLACE of that which you have been doing that you don't want to do anymore.

Habits are funny things.  They seem to be so unconsciously done.  So, the first thing to do is to become MINDFUL of what you WANT.  Mindfulness results in PLANNING and ACTION so START that process at 2:30 pm, don't wait until you get home.  Set your cell phone alarm RIGHT NOW for 2:30 pm, and then again for 5pm.  Why?  At 2:30 pm I want you to eat a Medifast Meal, the one you eat for your next meal after lunch.  If your lunch is Medifast Meal at noon (or your Lean and Green at a restaurant), then set your alarm for 2:30 pm for your next meal, and drink 24 ounces of water at that meal.  Then at 5:30 pm as you are driving home, have your NEXT medifast meal with 24 more ounces of water.  YES you may be stopping to use the restroom at a Circle K or Safeway on your way home.  No biggie.  You have set the groundwork necessary for you body to be fully nourished, hydrated, and for you to have stable blood sugars when you walk through your door.  Eat your last Medifast Meal or your Lean and Green at 7:30-8pm. 

IF you arrive home from work/school and you can't really recall the last time you ate/drank anything, your blood sugar and your hydration is going to have set you up to be a forager.  The stress of the day coupled with your lack of nourishment/water between the hours of 2pm and 6pm has set you up physiologically to be in a state where you health goals may be pushed to the side while you satisfy the cravings that inevitably will come around 6-8pm as a result.   You have habitually satisfied this very real physiological response with nuts, cheese and wine and now it is time to take CARE of the physiological aspects that are working against you during that time frame.

OK.  Have that part handled?  Let's move on to the EMOTIONAL side of the habit.  ONCE you have dealt with keeping yourself properly nourished and hydrated in the afternoon hours you will have a much easier time filling your evening hours with activities that don't include pantry or refrigerator surfing.  Find something you think you might like to do that BREAKS the habit chain of what you HAVE been doing. 

For example, do you plop down on the couch and flip on the television after you put the kids to bed?  Does that action cue mental hunger?  Then break it up.  There are two things you can do if you are a sit-in-front-of-the-television-and-eat-snacks type of person.  Firstly and most obviously, do something ELSE tonight when the kids go to sleep.  Pick up a book of fiction, write in your journal, work on that short story or novel you've been meaning to write, re-organize your sock drawer, ANYTHING that will put a pause in that habit loop.  OR, you can "change the middle". 

In Duhigg's book "Habit" he speaks about changing the middle.  What does changing the middle mean?  It means when you have something that cues a particular habit, in the past you have done an action which gives you the reward.  Whether that reward is feel good endorphins brought on by eating chocolate, wind-down rewards brought on by drinking wine, or even experiencing that feel-good substance that is in cheese, there is SOME reward you are obtaining, directly or indirectly from that habit that you seek to change.  So, next time the cue hits (ie kids go to bed) and you want the REWARD, change the middle, which is the ACTION that you previously took to obtain the reward.  Do you love to chew when you are watching TV?  It is proven that a simple piece of sugar-free chewing gum can give you the same pleasure.  So instead of eating crackers and cheese in front of the TV reach for a piece of sugar-free chewing gum.  You may feel like that is a cliche' but it WORKS!  Or, chew a piece of the new TSFL "ChillTime" gum with Thionine in it, which is a natural relaxant.  (I've tried it and it works which is the only reason I'm recommending it!). 

So, you can change the middle OR you can create a brand new routine.  Do you want to know what I do?

8pm = usual cue, in the past, to have a snack and a glass of wine
INSTEAD make a cup of herbal tea and chew a piece of sugarfree gum

This gives me a NEW routine.  Once I do this enough times it becomes my habit.  It is helping me work towards my health goals so that is great all around!

Eventually, if I am diligent at creating and practicing this new habit, I can kick IJDKWHWIGH Syndrome completely.

So can you!

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mars Attacks!!!!

One of the movies I think is hilarious is Mars Attacks.  I had it on this morning as I was doing some work at my kitchen table, and the scene came on where the Martians are SAYING "Don't run, we are your friends," at the SAME TIME they are laser-gunning every human in their path.

It struck me, the difference between what we SAY and what we DO.  It was a very teachable moment for me.

In this scenario, what do you think was a better indication of the Martian's true intent?  What they were SAYING?  Or what they were DOING?

I believe, in the movie anyway, the evidence was very clear that the Martian's TRUE intent was being displayed in what they were DOING and not what they were SAYING.

I thought that was so appropriate in our health journey.  What are we SAYING?  What are we DOING?  Our actions truly represent our core value, our true intent.  We can SAY all day long "I'm going to stay on plan today" and then when we get home and begin the "bites licks and tastes" while preparing dinner, when we just have "one little piece" of halloween candy that we have already purchased for Halloween, when we pour that glass of wine or nibble on that brick of cheese or grab that extra handful of almonds out of the pantry we are really displaying our true intentions.

I think that remaining "on plan" can't just be about SAYING we are going to be "on plan" but we really need to follow that up with action or things just aren't matching up. 

Now, the difference here is that the Martians had ill intent and were flat out lying.  We, on the other hand, do HOPE at the beginning of the day that we will stay on plan.  But we don't really BELIEVE it or we would DO it.

So the question is, what do I EXPECT from myself today?  What are my VALUES in my health journey and what to I BELIEVE myself capable of DOING?  Then, as Epictetus said, "First say what it is you would be, then do what you have to do."  In other words, WORDS are important and then they need to be FOLLOWED UP with the ACTION that actually AGREES with the words.

I look at this in my own life with regards to what example I am setting for my 9-year old boy.  Aside from the fact that I let him watch some of Mars Attacks (don't judge me LOL!) I really want to be authentic with him, and I want him to SEE that Mama does what she says she is going to do.  Because he is watching.  If I am SAYING "Mama is getting healthy!" and then he sees me acting in a way that is diametrically opposed to what I just SAID, he will not only learn that but he will ADOPT that into his own life.  I don't want that.  I don't want my son to think "Hey, it's OK for Mama to do, so it's OK for me to do!"  And our kids ARE watching. 

Part of my journey towards health was motivated with an intense desire to be the best role model for my son that I could be, because he needs to learn healthy habits himself to set him up for longevity.  He has a kidney transplant which he received at age three.  While he is doing fantastically well, the nephrologists told us that we needed to model health for him so that he would not be at a higher risk for obesity since what they are seeing these days in transplant-kids is that excess weight and obesity in the kids puts unnecessary and in fact harmful stress on their kidney, and will actually REDUCE its longevity.  WOW.  His doctor had the guts to say that to us when I was 150 pounds overweight and my husband was 50 pounds overweight. 

We ran with it, and we absolutely CHANGED our life and our health.   Now our son hardly remembers when Mama was so big she got stuck in the turnstiles at Disneyworld on his Make-a-Wish Trip.  He hardly remembers when Mama had a cane because her knees hurt so badly.  He hardly remembers when Mama had to utilize any nearby piece of furniture to hoist herself up off the floor after playing with him.  He sees Mama as a fit and healthy Mama who isn't afraid to strap on her running shoes and go run up a mountain (I'm headed out the door as soon as I finish this blog to go up South Mountain here in Phoenix).  He sees Mama as someone whose ACTIONS as regards health MATCH her words.

I wish that for all of you!  =)

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Everybody CAN have success but not everybody WILL have success

Everybody CAN find success on this program, but not everybody WILL be successful.  What do I mean by that? 

I mean that the number ONE REASON why people do NOT succeed in creating health in their lives is that they don't DO the plan.  Simple as that.  They don't ADHERE to the Quick Start Guide instructions on "How To."

They buy the nice little package full of hope, it is delivered to their front door, but some don't realize that "assembly not included, batteries not included".

They don't ship a new YOU to your front door.  They don't ship new habits and behaviors and ways of thinking about health to your front door.

You get the tools.  You get the nuts and bolts.   Then YOU have to go out and do the work.  Action.  Daily action.

What I CAN tell you is THIS:

This program offers PREDICTABLE TRANSFORMATION if and only IF you follow the instructions.

And the instructions are simple.  Anyone CAN do this plan.  Not everyone WILL do this plan.  What is the plan?

Well, the plan is achieved in stages.  Many of us think we're just in this to lose some weight.  But then we realize the potential to truly create health in our lives, and we realize that the weight loss phase is simply the first phase in a lifetime process of becoming optimally healthy.

Weight Loss:  Medifast 5&1 Plan:
*5 Medifast Meals per day
*1 Weighed and Measured Lean and Green assembled yourself choosing from the options listed in the Quick Start Guide, with the appropriate REQUIRED healthy fats added after cooking. 
* No more than 3 condiments added daily (Additional healthy fat and condiment options can be found in the expanded Condiment/Healthy Fat publication).
* At LEAST 64 ounces of water (Dr. A recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, for example you weigh 200 lbs so drink 100 ounces of water)
* Eat within 1 hour of waking
* Eat your allotment of meals every 2.5 hours
* Do no exercise in the first 3 weeks of the program UNLESS you have been exercising regularly prior to starting the plan, and in that case you will cut your duration and intensity by HALF
* After the first 3 weeks on the program, no not EXCEED 45 minutes of moderate activity daily

Simple, right?  Then why do many people never make it through the weight loss phase?  Because they abandon the principles in the Quick Start Guide.

Predictable transformation can come to EVERYONE who is on the path.  The path is fully spelled out in the Quick Start Guide.  So, are you having the results you wanted/expected on the plan?  If not, consult the quick start guide and STOP thinking that you know better, you know your body, you want to exercise more, you are hungry so you eat 2 string cheeses because you are hungry, you get famished at night and HAVE to have something or you'll DIE.  STOP taking bites, licks and tastes, STOP adding extras to your Medifast Meals and thinking they won't matter, STOP eyeballing your lean protein, STOP drizzling salad dressing on your salad without measuring it, STOP having that glass of wine or that drink on the weekends or with friends, STOP using food as comfort, STOP using food as entertainment, STOP using food in ways that have necessitated you needing to begin this plan in the first place. 

START adhering to the Quick Start Guide.  START setting your cell phone alarm for your mealtimes.  START leaving the house every morning with a "go-bag" of atleast 5 portable meals so you will NEVER be able to say "I didn't have my Medifast Meals with me".  START limiting your exercise to 45 minutes maximum.  START carrying an awesome water bottle with you and tracking your water.  START reading Dr. A's Habits of Health.  START with reading and fully understanding the instructions on how to create predictable transformation in your lives.

If this hits a little close to home, then good.  I have to remind myself monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily that if I knew how to live a healthy life on my own I would have done so before I was 40 years old and class IV Super Obese at 5 foot 3 and 272 pounds.  If I knew how to live a healthy life I would have been doing that already.  So I admitted that I didn't know everything.  And then I surrendered to the published plan in all aspects. 

What will you choose?  Predictable Transformation or Same-ole-Story?

I choose health.

Rinse and Repeat!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Knowlege is Powerful but Contentment is Key

Part of my journey has not only been LEARNING the tools I needed to attain and maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle, but also LEARNING to be content within that context.

Through the Habits of Health and this program I was able to learn what the true limitations of my body were, HOW to attain a healthy weight in a healthy way, and HOW to STAY healthy for the long-term.  This was the knowledge I needed.  This was something that even with my Degree in Human Nutrition I still lacked, believe it or not! 

But LEARNING it was only the beginning.  Much of my journey into optimal health, which for me was attaining and is now maintaining a healthy BMI and a fit lifestyle involves daily practicing CONTENMENT with the lifelong process.

I KNOW, for example, that if I drink too much wine and eat too much cheese I WILL gain weight back.  My body will ALWAYS respond to the instructions that I give it.  And if those instructions equate to my consuming extra calories over and above my maintenance needs (which is individual for every person, by the way), I WILL do the scale creep.  My jeans WILL get tighter.  And tighter.  And tighter. 

I KNOW my limitations.  But knowing and doing are two different things, and even DOING can be different than DOING with CONTENTMENT as my underlying emotion.

I can DO all day long and resent it, if I allow myself to.  Then, eventually, I DO it less.  And less.  And less.  Because I resent the process, I feel deprived, and can slip into feeling sorry for myself because "I don't get to eat what other people 'get' to eat!"

When I slip into that mindset I know I need to press the "reset" button.

Why?  Because when I slip into that mindset I know I've lost a KEY strategy for lifelong health, which is CONTENTMENT with the limitations of my body.

So, when that happens I take some time and I LEARN it again.  Contentment.  As Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13

For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I find it fascinating that of all the specific examples Paul could have given, he speaks about "in need" and "to have plenty" in terms of his stomach.  Did you catch that?  He said "whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want".

Heck, we hardly know what it is in this country to be hungry.  But when I am in maintenance and "want" something that is beyond my physical limitation for caloric needs that day, I am experiencing psychological hunger anyway.  And I need to back up and say "Ok, Brain, today you are going to be content even though you feel like you are in 'need' of having that extra something something."

It isn't an easy thing, and it is something I continually need to remind myself of because THIS, right NOW, is who I want to remain. 

So I learn contentment.  Again.  Daily.  Hourly sometimes.

While I blog tonight, I just made myself a cup of herbal tea because as a friend of mine says "Stop, Think, Make a Hot Drink."

So I stopped.  I am thinking.  I made a cup of tea.  And I'm blogging.  Because, again, I have all the knowledge in the world to attain and maintain my health goals.  But without contentment it is a precarious situation.  So I retreat back to basics in the area of learning contentment.

My body will never "change" its limitations.  I will always have the propensity and the high efficiency of storing fat if I exceed my caloric needs in a day.  That is a given.  That will not change.  Ever.  But I CAN change my MIND and stop resenting that brick wall and work WITHIN the boundaries of it.

Reminds me of the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

I think "reasonable happiness" is a good goal to aim for in this life.  I know that it isn't possible for me to be even "reasonably happy" when I am Class IV Super-Obese.  So count me in. 


Rinse and Repeat!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Can the Day Please End at 6pm?

I'm not gonna lie, sometimes I wish the day would end at 6pm and I could just wake up at 6am the next morning.  Just ditch the whole 6pm-10pm slot altogether, do a sort of "opt-out" kind of a thing.

Evenings have been hard for me, much more BEFORE I learned healthy habits but even sometimes AFTER I learned them because learning them is a PRACTICE not a piece of KNOWLEDGE.

I don't know what it is about it getting darker outside and the stresses of the day being "done" which literally flips some imaginary switch somewhere in my brain and puts me in danger of not practicing healthy habits!  But I wish the day could end at 6pm.

So, what is to be done? 

Do I just say "ta heck with it" and succumb to those ideas that pop into my head?  More often than not I choose HEALTH and can get through it.  Occasionally I DON'T choose health and the next morning I always wish I HAD.

So what are some strategies for getting through the evening? 

1)  Find something ELSE that is FUN to do besides foraging in the pantry or fridge.

2)  Find something ELSE that is RELAXING to do besides foraging in the pantry or fridge.


3)  Go to bed.

Yes.  Go to bed.  At 6pm.  Sometimes I just have to do that.  I literally have to take a shower (there is something about seeing yourself in your birthday suit in the mirror which kills any thoughts of eating off plan), get into my jammies, and go to bed.

Last night was one of those nights.  I SHOULD have done that.  I SHOULD have gone to bed.

Many times the night-time foraging pattern we have developed are simply HABITS.  They are UNHEALTHY HABITS.  There is generally nothing WRONG with us, we are not lacking willpower, self-control or anything like that, we are simply acting out of HABIT.  So what to do?  Change the habit by replacing the habit with something ELSE.  Don't change the habit by focusing all your mental energy on TRYING NOT TO DO THE HABIT.  Change the habit.

You have a cue:  6pm.
You have a middle:  Eating mindlessly for 4 hours
You have a reward:  Destressing, entertainment

So the cue will never change, whether your cue is time-sensitive (such as "6pm") or emotional (such as trouble or conflict with your kids or husband), or physical (such as just want something to chew on) you will always be presented with the CUE.  And, then, you will always be seeking the REWARD.  The reward is destressing, easing boredom, or yes, even chewing!  So what you do is change the middle.

Change the middle.  That middle thing is that unhealthy habit which is getting you where you don't want to go.  Change it up to something that will FURTHER your health goals or at best be NEUTRAL.

If your cue is 6pm and you want the reward of relaxation or stress-relief, here are some examples of what could be your new MIDDLE:
Hot bath
Hot shower
Lighting a candle and drinking a cup of tea
Reading some fiction

If your cue is coming home from work and you want the reward of chewing:
Save a crunchy Medifast Meal for your last meal
Chew some gum
Have a Medifast Snack of Popcorn or Sea Salt Chips (1 bag only LOL)

If your cue is conflict with your teenager and you want the reward of escaping for some entertainment:
Go see a movie
Go for a walk
Call a friend
Write a letter
Read some fiction

You see?  There are lots of things you can do for your MIDDLE which don't involve abandoning your health goals.  Now, I'm going to print this off and post it on my refrigerator door AND my pantry door AND my bathroom mirror AND I'm going to tattoo it on the backs of my hands.

Just kidding.  Not that last bit.

Tonight?  I WILL do one of the new MIDDLES.  Because I got goals.  Big ones.  And the biggest one is maintaining the healthy weight I have worked so hard to earn.

Now maintenance is a funny thing, and my eating plan IN maintenance has to be as mindful as it was in the 5&1.  But I know when I'm deviating from my maintenance plan and I know when to tighten things up.

Today?  Tighten it up.

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School!

Today I returned to school!  Yay me!  LOL

It is funny how at 44 years old I forgot how the back-to-school jitters feel, but I experienced them fully yesterday at our Orientation mixer and again today at our Graduate School Orientation!

As I looked around the room at the 80-or-so Graduate Students in the room I realized something.  I realized that THEY probably felt like ME and that, really, no one is immune to the back-to-school jitters!

We are all just people!  And there was nothing, absolutely NOTHING to be afraid of, or nervous about.

Sure this is a "status" change for me, in that I now have a bonifide Arizona State University Student ID card (AGAIN LOL!), and I am embarking on "the next challenge" for me which deals with my personal growth.  But I can HANDLE this!  I can DO this!  I will succeed and I will accomplish what I have set out to do, because I have made the decision to DO it.

It is much like our health journey.  We see something we want to accomplish and we MOVE TOWARD it.  We CREATE what we want!  Seemingly out of thin air.

But it isn't out of thin air, it is rooted in our deepest-held dreams and our deepest-held priorities and is simply an extension of who we are and who we WANT to be.

You see, I didn't enter this Master's Program because I felt like I NEEDED to.  I didn't enter this Master's Program because I thought I HAD to.  I wasn't ESCAPING something NEGATIVE that was in my life and trying to move AWAY from something that was UNCOMFORTABLE or causing me emotional PAIN AND CONFLICT. 

I entered this Master's Program because I want to continue to organize my life around what matters most to me. 

The Master's Program is a Master of Science in Obesity Prevention and Management.  I have a passion in this area, because I lived for SO long in the chains of Clinical Morbid Obesity and I saw that the life I was living in that condition was SO FAR REMOVED from the life I WANTED to live, the live I so DESIRED to live but the life that had SO FAR eluded me living 20+ years as a morbidly obese adult. 

In that creating optimal health in my life was borne out of a desire to bring AWESOME things INTO my life as a result of getting healthy, so embarking on my journey to obtain my Master's degree is borne out of a desire to CONTINUE becoming the person I want to be. 
I am she, I am continuing to BECOME her even more every day.
I have all the tools I need in Take Shape For Life, Master's degree or no, to live IN health and help others do the same.  The MS after my name isn't a necessary component for me, but I am taking this opportunity to immerse myself even more in a local community where I can make a difference.  Where I can make connections with like-minded people and show THEM what works, because let's face it, the Academic world and Health Professionals need hope too!  They have been stuck in the world of statistics and a "problem solving" orientation which, frankly, hasn't translated to real-world results in the long-term.  I intend to show them things CAN be different for anyone who makes a fundamental decision for health.  It will be a lesson in time-management to balance my full-time career with my classes.  But I can do it.

Here's the thing I want everyone, including myself to remember.  And I need to remind myself of this almost daily.  THERE will be times I don't feel capable. THERE will be times I feel like Eeyore, and get down on myself, and view things through an Eeyore filter.  I'm not immune to it.  The same fears of inadequacy and the same questions of "do I really have what it takes to create optimal health in my life" still do seep in on occasion.  It is at those times I have two choices.  I can BELIEVE those thoughts, and focus on the difficulties of accomplishing my dreams, and reap the consequences of giving up, OR I can press forward in confidence that the part of me which has the bulldog-never-give-up tenacity CAN do whatever I set my mind on doing.  The only questions that are really pertinent are:

Is it physically possible to do?


Am I willing to do what it takes to make it a reality for ME?


So, dear friends, I will be embarking on this journey in FAITH, because I don't have to believe in myself 100% of the time, I only have to believe in myself ENOUGH to show up, do the work, and give it my best.

And those moments where my faith in myself of my abilities waver I just know enough about myself to know NOT TO MAKE ANY decisions or changes in course when I'm in the Eeyore Mindset. 

I hope that makes sense.  I don't have everything about everything figured out but I DO know that about myself, that the decisions I make that are rooted in hope and optimism and the actions I take based on those decisions are things that move me TOWARD my goals.  The decisions I make in an Eeyore mentality don't.  THOSE decisions, if I act on them, move me to a place I don't want to be, move me farther from my health goals and my life goals.

So when you hear Eeyore, send him home. 

I choose to be a Tigger.