Thursday, November 5, 2015

"It takes 10 times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart"

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

As we wait for the highly anticipated Part II of "Hunger Games: The Mockingjay" to be released next week, I wanted to highlight a quote from "Part I".  

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, I didn't choose my genetic profile, 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. 

Today.  Right now.  This moment.  

Are you struggling with unhealthy habits, some of which you may not even be able to identify because you feel so hopeless that you can make any significant changes and don't even know where to begin?  I have news for you.  It is NEVER too late to begin.  But beginning IS key, not simply "planning to" or "hoping to" or "intending to".  Real change comes when you BEGIN to really change.  Do you need help with that?  I am a FREE C.O.P.E Certified Take Shape For Life Health Coach and I have a passion for helping people ACTUALLY begin.  I can help you turn your intentions and your hopes into REAL, meaningful and lasting change, but I need YOUR help to help YOU.  Namely, e-mail me at and let's get the ball rolling.  Today.  This moment.  Just do it!  I won't tell you to kill yourself at the gym.  I won't have you shopping and planning and preparing food for hours every day or even every week.  I won't have you counting calories, carbs, fat or fiber.  I won't have you popping pills or getting injections or going for surgery or seeking hypnotherapy.  I won't have you "cleansing" your body with needless products built on hype with no real evidence they are doing anything other than what your body does normally with it's liver and kidneys and colon.  Our program is SUPER simple and can be done with crazy busy lives and relatively little planning.  Let's focus on getting YOU healthy.  

So e-mail me or Click here to request more information:

Rinse and Repeat!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Do you sometimes feel like this couple on the couch? Hearing the latest "revelation" of what is NOW good for you that was BAD for you just YESTERDAY? Coffee is bad for you. No, Coffee is now GOOD for you. Butter is bad for you and margarine is best. No, margarine has trans-fats in causes cancer. Chocolate is good for you but it has to be at least 80% dark to have any benefits. Wine is good for you because of resveratrol so pop this resveratrol pill instead. No, apparently resveratrol pills alone don't have the same effect as the substance does when taken whole with the wine. WHAT is a PERSON to BELIEVE?!? Remember that I'm here to help you get through all the bunk and create the health you want, without having to spend every hour obsessing over what you'll eat next, without the incessant planning, shopping, preparing, who has time for all of that? Our program is clinically proven, and time tested for ACTUAL results. It was developed by Cardiologists from Johns Hopkins University, which is a teaching and research university, and has stood the test of time! We've been around for about 30 years and have been recommended by over 20,000 physicians nationwide. Don't SIMPLY trust the "internet" for your health news. You want a professional in your corner. That professional is me. That's my advice of the day.

I read a great perspective on health today by Kate Skinner, an Australian Dietitian.
"For every good study, there are at least 10 pretty mediocre ones – poorly planned, with uncontrolled variables, small cohort, observational, commercially swayed, etc. For each one of these, there’s dozens of sensationalized media headlines that further compound the confusion. One study that correlates dietary animal fats with heart disease incidence might just as well equate wearing blue jeans with ill health by the same tunnel-visioned logic. The thing is, there’s a million other uncontrolled variables at play. Correlation does not equal causation.

Most health ‘recommendations’ don’t solely have the interests of the individual at heart, or even hard science, for that matter. There tend to be other competing factors involved – marketing, profit, popularity, maintaining current opinions, etc. it’s worth keeping this in mind when you’re evaluating the latest ‘detox’ program, supplement, fitness regime or popular diet – consider where the information is coming from and why, and question accordingly.

The same goes for food labeling. A “gluten-free”/”organic”/”natural” sticker doesn’t necessarily correlate with any increased nutritional benefit of attached food products (although such labels seem to align proportionally with cost, as a rule).The same applies to foods and products touted as “wholegrain”/ “low-GI”/“low-fat”/“sugar-free”/ “vegetable-based”/“Heart Foundation approved” – don’t make the mistake of assuming these terms are synonymous with what’s best for your body. I have seen “health” foods and products, in popular health food shops and aisles, that are some of the worst offenders out there. Generally, the most optimal foods don’t need fancy health claims.

The same goes for food labeling. A “gluten-free”/”organic”/”natural” sticker doesn’t necessarily correlate with any increased nutritional benefit of attached food products (although such labels seem to align proportionally with cost, as a rule).The same applies to foods and products touted as “wholegrain”/ “low-GI”/“low-fat”/“sugar-free”/ “vegetable-based”/“Heart Foundation approved” – don’t make the mistake of assuming these terms are synonymous with what’s best for your body. I have seen “health” foods and products, in popular health food shops and aisles, that are some of the worst offenders out there. Generally, the most optimal foods don’t need fancy health claims.

Really want to jump on the ‘detox’ bandwagon? Educate yourself about how your liver functions to naturally ‘detoxify’ the body each and every day, without the need for some wacky cleansing routine (besides, going on a ‘detox’ suggests an initial ‘tox’ or post-detox ‘retox’, no?).

Even for the dedicated health nuts and health experts, to quote Mark Twain, 'don’t let your education get in the way of your learning'. Scientific progress isn’t made without questioning and critically evaluating the status quo."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Ulysses Contract and the Straitjacket

Do you know what I like?

Metaphors.  I am BIG on metaphors and symbolism.  Yeah, that is what this blog is about, absolutely.

The metaphor of my straitjacket and how it relates to my health journey.

Yes, you read that correctly, MY STRAITJACKET.  Call me crazy, you wouldn't be the first.

Let me explain.

So there are times in my health journey, and maybe you can relate and maybe you can't, where I choose to give up my power to choose.  What that means is that there are times where I feel powerless over the unhealthy decisions I am making on a daily basis.  When I act on those feelings, I fall back into my unhealthy habits of being sedentary and eating whatever is convenient, whatever I think I "want".

Now, my body is such that WHEN I DO THIS and when I PRACTICE these behaviors and make them my norm, however temporary, there are CONSEQUENCES.  Being a post-obese person, I will always have to be mindful of what I am putting into my body and how much I am moving on a regular basis, or I WILL gain my weight back.  That's simply science, genetics, and the human body.  My body.  If these "episodes" of falling back into my unhealthy habits last a day or two, I can recover quickly and continue on relatively unscathed.  If these "episodes" last a week or two, or three, or a month or two, or three, then the recovery is much more difficult and puts my entire health journey at risk of continuing on in a direction I know I do NOT want it to go.

In Dr. A's Habits of Health there is a chapter on creating a "micro-environment of health" around ourselves, because if there are unhealthy foods in the house we are more likely to get into them, thereby sabotaging our efforts to create or maintain health in our lives.

Yes.  I know the truth of this.  I have heard often, and have even heard myself saying at times that "it is SO hard" to stay on an eating program consistently.  I have heard, and have heard myself saying in my mind, something like this:

"I just don't understand!  I'm SO faithful to my program for half the day, but then 4:00 in the afternoon rolls around and it is like a flip is switched and I act like I don't care, when I KNOW I DO!"

Simply said, we feel at those times that we don't have a choice, that we don't have control, that we are powerless to exercise our self-discipline or "willpower" against the temptations.  This can be seasonal, this can be monthly, this can be every weekend, or even every DAY.  The mechanism is the same: we act in a manner which is inconsistent with where we SAID we wanted to go in our health.

So, what do we do?  Do we give up on our dream of attaining and maintaining a healthy weight?  Attaining and maintaining optimal health?  Some days it seems that giving up is the only solution.  We try to convince ourselves to DECREASE our expectations, to MINIMIZE our dreams, to say "let's be REALISTIC HERE".  We say "everybody fails at some point" or "I'm only human".

I say NO.  We don't have to give up our power to CHOOSE HEALTH.  Even when we feel like we already have.

So, back to the straightjacket.  I was joking around with someone who was expressing to me their concept that it is IMPOSSIBLE to get away from temptation.  Everywhere you go, unless you lock yourself in your house (in a room other than your kitchen) and strap yourself to a chair, there is temptation.  You can't stop living, right?  This gave me an idea.  The idea of the straitjacket.

I don't know how to word this to make it sound less crazy than it is going to sound, but again, remember that I am speaking metaphorically.  However, I DO happen to have a "prop" for my metaphor.  Yes, I purchased a straitjacket.  It is hanging in my mom-cave, and I'm thinking of taping some bubble-wrap to one of the walls in my mom-cave so I can call it "the padded room with the straitjacket" for fun.

The symbolism is similar to a "Ulysses Pact," or "Ulysses Contract".  Three millennia ago lived a man named "Ulysses" who was King of Ithaca and a hero of the Trojan War.  Legend has it that after the war, Ulysses was on his sea voyage back to his homeland when he realized he had a rare opportunity.  His ship would be passing near the island of Sirenum scopuli, where beautiful Sirens sang their alluring songs which would drive men mad.  The problem was, the ships crew would always turn their ships towards the sound, and their ships would be dashed to pieces on the rocks near the island, killing all aboard.  Ulysses wanted to hear the siren song, but he knew that he would not be immune to their charms.  After all, he possessed a human mind.  Wikipedia shares further the origin of the name, and the meaning of "the contract" or "the pact":

The term refers to the pact that Ulysses (Greek name "Ὀδυσσεύς", Odysseus) made with his men as they approached the Sirens. Ulysses wanted to hear the Sirens' song although he knew that doing so would render him incapable of rational thought. He put wax in his men's ears so that they could not hear, and had them tie him to the mast so that he could not jump into the sea. He ordered them not to change course under any circumstances, and to keep their swords upon him and to attack him if he should break free of his bonds.  Upon hearing the Sirens' song, Ulysses was driven temporarily insane and struggled with all of his might to break free so that he might join the Sirens, which would have meant his death."

Ulysses wisely knew that there was a circumstance that would arise where he would not feel capable of acting rationally, so in making the decision to "bind himself" voluntarily for a season he knew that he would be OK.  This was within his control, and he created a "micro-micro environment of health" by putting himself in a circumstance whereby he could continue to live the life he wanted to live.

Sometimes I feel like all the "bargains" I make with myself in the mornings crumble and fall to dust in the evenings.  Am I crazy?  No.  The book "Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain" by David Eagleman discusses the science behind the conversations, inconsistencies and battles that we do with ourselves in our brains.  These are rooted in neuroscience and in light of the science, contradictory thoughts and/or behaviors are actually perfectly normal.  They exist in every individual, to varying degrees, and it is important to understand there is nothing "wrong" with us when we come up against the manifestation of these contradictory thoughts or behaviors.  Knowing about them is power in and of itself, because it means that I can arm myself rationally for those times when I may be prone to acting irrationally, or outside of my long-term goals and dreams.  Eagle states in his book that Ulysses knew that the "future" Ulysses would be in no position to make good decisions.  Therefore, the Ulysses of sound mind structured things in such a way as to prevent himself from doing something foolish when they passed the upcoming island.  It was a deal struck between the present Ulysses and the future one.  Eagleman goes on to say that this myth highlights the way in which minds can develop a meta-knowledge about how the short- and long-term parties interact.  The amazing consequence is that minds can negotiate with different time points of themselves.  It is a proactive binding of a future self, a future opportunity or action that you may take but don't want to.

Hence, the symbolism of the straitjacket.  You see, I can CHOOSE to have my husband put me IN the straightjacket at 4pm if I feel I am headed for danger.  I haven't ACTUALLY done that (had him put me IN the straitjacket), but the sheer knowledge that I DO have a choice even when I don't feel I have a choice is powerful for me.

When that "4pm" rolls around, and I feel like I'm losing control, I can simply go into my Mom-cave, sit in my cushy arm chair, and look at the straitjacket that is hanging on a hangar in there.  Simply by doing that, simply by remembering the symbolism of the Ulysses Contract, I can buy myself a few minutes away from the temptation, and I can remind myself that I do, in fact, ALWAYS have a choice.  Even if that choice is installing myself in the straitjacket, and having my husband cinch up the buckles and feed my remaining on-plan Meal Replacement and water for the rest of the day.  The hilarity of that possibility is enough to make me laugh and snap be back to remembering my health goals and, more importantly, acting in a manner that is CONSISTENT with them for the rest of the evening.

I will never say that attaining and maintaining optimal health is easy-peasy lemon squeezey.  It isn't.  It has been an intense journey of self-discovery and personal growth, and I actually wouldn't change a thing.  It IS a choice.  It IS possible.  I have the tools, I have the will, I have the understanding, and to the degree which I can have my ACTIONS agree with my INTENTIONS I will continue to succeed in my quest to attain and maintain optimal health.

Oh, and if you need to borrow my straitjacket, just let me know.

Monday, June 8, 2015

It's Hard Sometimes - Redo........

"It's hard sometimes. Realizing that my body has limitations, that it will always respond to the instructions I give it, I have to say, sometimes I catch myself having a little pity party with thoughts such as "Why can I just be be "normal" and eat "normal" and live a "normal" life? Why do I have to log and measure everything I put in my mouth? Why, if I go off my eating plan for a couple of days, will the weight just pop on magically with NO regards to how hard I worked to get it OFF in the first place?"

Well, to that I have to say "suck it up, Buttercup!" Yep. Then I pull out my Dr. A's Habits of Health book, my "Refuse to Regain" book, my "Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It" book and take some time to reboot my brain.

Because I know when I'm thinking those thoughts I'm drifting down the rabbit-hole of denial and deprivation, and that is NOT the mindset I have trained myself over the years to have.

SO. Let me talk for a moment about what is ACTUALLY hard.

Being FAT was hard. People scrutinizing everything I put in my basket was hard. Not fitting in to a booth seat at a restaurant was hard. Needing to ask for a seatbelt extender on an airplane was hard. My son calling my "Sully" from Monster's Inc. was hard. Knowing I wasn't living my best life was hard.

Being fat is hard. Losing weight is hard. Choose your hard."

I wrote that blog late last week, as I was beginning to struggle with a deprivation mindset. On Saturday I learned about a friend I had made just out of High School, named Patrick Chawki, and the "hard" kind of life he has had since I knew him in 1987. I realized that it is a LUXURY to struggle with the things I struggle with, some people don't even get to CHOOSE which "hard" they want. It made me very mindful of the fact that life can simply be, well, hard.

Here is the link to Patrick's story, as told in 2009 by ESPN.

In 2000 he came down with "Locked-in Syndrome" which is very rare, and awareness of this disease, or syndrome, was raised in 2007 by the movie "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" which portrayed the experiences someone with Locked-in Syndrome has, from a first-person perspective. If you watch the 14-minute video, I can almost guarantee that you will be crying by the end. I know I was.

It hit me that this young man, with a wife and 2 beautiful children, lost his ability to speak, to walk, and to eat within the span of 20 days. In 20 days his life went from HAVING choices to NOT having choices. Here I was thinking I was struggling with feelings of deprivation because I "couldn't eat what I wanted when I wanted to" and this friend of mine can't even EAT anymore.

Patrick has been in this condition now for 15 years. My heart breaks for him, for his family, but he is an inspiration to me. He didn't choose his "hard" and he is still smiling and giving a "thumbs up" even amidst his present circumstances. Patrick is a lesson to me. A lesson in contentment in our circumstances.

The thing is, my "hard" choice is STILL a choice, and here I am whining over "having" to watch what I eat, "having" to log my food, "having" to say "no" to the "yummies". Wow. How spoiled am I, really? I don't know what "hard" is.

Anyway, I wanted to expound a little on these thoughts today. For anyone who may be able to walk, to eat, to talk, to live the life they choose to live, these things we can never take for granted. I am guilty of taking them for granted.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's Hard Sometimes!

It's hard sometimes.  Realizing that my body has limitations, that it will always respond to the instructions I give it, I have to say, sometimes I catch myself having a little pity party with thoughts such as "Why can I just be be "normal" and eat "normal" and live a "normal" life?  Why do I have to log and measure everything I put in my mouth?  Why, if I go off my eating plan for a couple of days, will the weight just pop on magically with NO regards to how hard I worked to get it OFF in the first place?"

Well, to that I have to say "suck it up, Buttercup!"  Yep.  Then I pull out my Dr. A's Habits of Health book, my "Refuse to Regain" book, my "Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It" book and take some time to reboot my brain.

Because I know when I'm thinking those thoughts I'm drifting down the rabbit-hole of denial and deprivation, and that is NOT the mindset I have trained myself over the years to have.

SO.  Let me talk for a moment about what is ACTUALLY hard.

Being FAT was hard.  People scrutinizing everything I put in my basket was hard.  Not fitting in to a booth seat at a restaurant was hard.  Needing to ask for a seatbelt extender on an airplane was hard.  My son calling my "Sully" from Monster's Inc. was hard.  Knowing I wasn't living my best life was hard.

Being fat is hard.  Losing weight is hard.  Choose your hard.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Who Do I Want to Be Today?

Who Do I Want to Be Today?

This is the question I try to ask myself daily.  Why daily?  Because on the days I don't ask - and answer - this question of myself I tend to fall into apathy and inaction. 

There is a danger in NOT asking myself this question on any given day, because if I don't ask - and answer - this question on a given day, the likelihood I will IGNORE the question again TOMORROW increases exponentially.  And it gets harder to ask the question.

And then I don't like the question.  And then I don't like the answer.  And then....guess what...the weight begins to come on again.

No, I have found that ignoring this question is NOT an option for me.  I have learned this, dear readers, through many years of trial and error, and I tell it to YOU because I want to encourage you to guard against apathy.

Apathy and inaction for me go hand in hand.  It's like the second law of thermodynamics, in my brain, and then my body.

Kind of a "use it or lose it" sort of scenario.

Establishing the HABIT of asking myself this question, and then continuing in the HABITS I have developed incrementally over time of creating health in my life is vital.  It is essential.  It is a matter of life or death for me.

When I am actively asking myself this question daily, and when I am taking the actions that agree with my answer daily, I feel at peace with myself, and at peace with the process.

When I am NOT asking myself this question daily, when I am IGNORING the question and not taking some time to THINK about the answer then follow it up with ACTION, I fall into disrepair.  Literally.

So what is my answer to this question "Who Do I Want to Be Today?"

I want to BE a fit and healthy woman who is living the LIFE that a fit and healthy woman lives, authentically.

When I don't ask - or  answer - that question then my day deteriorates into randomly going from activity to activity, none of which specifically promote any degree of health in my life.

Here is the difference in MY life, in MY day, of asking/answering the question, and of NOT.

ASKING/ANSWERING the question day:
Wake up early-ish.  Have a healthy health-promoting breakfast.  Go for a run.  Engage with my clients.  Engage with my family.  Go to bed ON my eating plan.

NOT ASKING/ANSWERING the question day:
Hit the snooze button.  Hit it again.  Wait for my husband to bring me coffee in bed.  Drink another cup of coffee.  Ignore my run.  Binge-watch a few episodes of whatever mini-series I am actively engaged in.  Waste the day.  Eat off-plan.  Feel sorry for myself.  Feel bad about myself.  NOT want to engage with my clients because I feel like a shmuck.  Go to bed feeling defeated.

Now, over time, which of these two scenarios do you think lead to attaining and maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle?  Ding ding ding ding.

So what do I do when I pull my head out of the sand after a few months of the UN-healthy scenario?

I ask the question.  I answer the question.  I prioritize my day around those actions and activities which will achieve what I want to achieve.

And the great thing is that it is never "too late" to turn the ship around, to halt the tide of what people call the "inevitable weight re-gain."

I absolutely reject the notion that it inevitable for someone who has lost a significant amount of weight to re-gain that weight.  Will there be some ups and downs?  Sure, because none of us is perfect.  But I refuse to allow my imperfections to be an excuse for inaction and plain laziness.

So.  There you have it.

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, March 2, 2015


Have you ever had to pull yourself back from the brink?  Have you ever felt like you were a spectator, just watching yourself spiraling out of control with your eating habits?  Wondering "What the heck, what is going on?  Why can't I seem to get in front of this freight train that is heading the wrong direction at lightning speed?"

Do you feel like you need Superman to swoop in and save the day?

You don't need Superman.  You need YOU.

Weight cycling is a very real phenomenon, and for people who have been significantly overweight or obese in their lifetimes it seems like it happens on a fairly regular basis.

How do you stop the cycle once you feel it has "taken root" in the "wrong direction?"

The skill I have learned and have practiced is to recognize that you have simply fallen back into old unhealthy habits.  Unhealthy routines. 

After recognizing that you have done that, no matter what STAGE of weight regain you are in, initial intermediate or advanced LOL, you CAN CHOOSE to begin to practice HEALTHY HABITS again.

I'm not saying it is easy.  But it IS simple.  Engaging in your healthy habits again is definitely some hard work.  After all, they aren't habits yet.  They WERE habits, but somewhere along the line you forgot them again.

Step 1:  Make a fundamental decision to get healthy again
Step 2:  Pick up Dr. A's Habits of Health and begin to read it again.
Step 3:  Organize your day, choose your 5 portion-controlled meal replacements and plan your Lean and Green.
Step 4:  Spend ONE DAY ON PLAN.
Step 5:  Go to sleep
Step 6:  Rinse and Repeat.

YOU can make the decision TODAY that you will do all of those things TODAY.  While it is still called TODAY.  Not TOMORROW, not THE NEXT DAY, but TODAY.

What will you choose? 

Monday, February 16, 2015

OMGosh I FELL! First time since 2006!

Today I was out for my first official "training trail run" for a Half Marathon Trail run I'm doing in May in Colorado. Now, mind you, I've run this trail on South Mountain in Phoenix MANY times in the last few years, but I have not EVER fallen while running....until TODAY. Scraped up my hand, my phone was OK (whew!) and I think I gave myself whiplash but other than that I survived. But tonight it got me thinking about the last time I REALLY fell, which was 2006.

In 2006 I weighed 268 pounds, and I was carrying my then-1-year-old son across a parking lot. My foot caught in a small pothole and because I was so large, my muscles so weak, and there was so much forward momentum from my weight, I couldn't catch myself. We both went down onto the pavement. My son hit his head on the asphalt, and I realized at that moment that my weight was to blame. I cradled him in my arms and we both cried for a few minutes until someone helped me up. He ended up being fine, but I realized I needed to make a change, that my weight was not only endangering me, but it was endangering my son in a very real way. And there began my weight loss journey.

Here it is, 8 years later, and I fell again while running down a freaking mountain, and I was FINE! The circumstances of my life are SO different now, and I am simply grateful. Grateful that I found a tool that helped me get ME back! Grateful that I can model health for my son and for my family! It isn't always easy, but the alternative would have cost me WAY too much.

I can't tell you how joyful I feel that I made this decision.  And I'd love to help you are someone you love create health in your lives also!  It won't cost you NOTHING (although I am a FREE Health Coach!).  But it may cost you EVERYTHING if you ignore your health.  If not now, when?  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The "Extra Skin?" Post

Many people have asked me what I did about my extra skin, if I HAD extra skin, if my extra skin BOTHERED me, basically wanting to know a little bit about what they may deal with after they've lost their weight.

Here's the skinny on the skin, in MY experience.

If anyone were to have extra skin, I guess it should have been me, since I lost 140 pounds in 14 months, gained it all back the next year, and then 2 years later began to lose it again, finally losing 150 pounds off of my 5 foot 3 inch frame.

Extra skin depends on many things:

Your age.
Your skin elasticity.
How much weight you lost, and where you carried it.
The rate at which you lose your weight.
How much circulation your skin got in the process of your weight loss (read light-to-moderate cardio, a few times per week).
Your level of hydration in the process of your weight loss.

etc other words, it is not an easy task to "predict" in advance who will have extra skin, and to what degree, as there are so many variables.

Skin is a living breathing "organ" so to speak.   It is constantly turning over, constantly renewing, and the body has an amazing ability to adapt, or regulate, skin turnover based on the needs of the body.

I believe the most important thing during the weight loss process has nothing to do with creams, ointments, oils, barking at the moon, etc.  OK that was a little humor there.  I digress.

Ointments and oils and other topical "remedies" really do nothing internally to "encourage new skin growth."  The BEST thing you can do is stay hydrated and keep circulation up all the way out to the "tippy ends" of your skin.  Really you are encouraging blood flow to those areas.  Some people believe you can encourage new skin growth by "sloughing off" the older skin on the top layers, using exfoliating techniques, etc.  I don't buy it, just as I don't believe that you can make your fingernails grow quicker by trimming them often.  It has more to do with the INTERNAL environment.  And nothing gets the INTERNAL environment blood flow pumping like some good old-fashioned exercise.   What manual exfoliation (such as brushing) techniques DO provide is drawing extra blood to those areas.  In other words, increased circulation to the site.  I never did any brushing, though.

I will state here, for the record, that I have never had any skin surgeries done.  Ever.

Now, this begs the question "what about the "Biggest Loser" and "Extreme Weight Loss" people, they exercise a TON and they seem to always need/desire the skin surgery.  One of the reasons that you see SO much extra skin in people on biggest loser and extreme weight loss shows is that they lost their weight very quickly, and they didn't have the circulatory matrix underneath the areas those extra skin areas to sufficient to carry nutrients and oxygen to the sagging skin.

So then there is the age factor.  Age effects elasticity of the skin.  When we are young, the skin turns over much more rapidly then when we are older.  In our 30's and 40's, it turns over about once every 3-4 weeks.  When we are over 50 it turns over once every 3 months or so.  So, age is a factor.  I lost my weight at a rate of about 2 lbs/month.  And I was 37 when I began losing my weight the first time, and 41 when I began the second time.

My best advice is to WAIT a FULL YEAR after your are FINISHED with your weight loss before considering ANY type of skin surgery.  My skin continues to adjust and minimize even 2 years after my weight loss, for example.  Remember that it is a living and breathing organ, and respect that.

In the meantime, support-clothing can help you feel great if you are a little self conscious.  Spanx works wonders with little problem areas, and hey, I didn't take my BEFORE picture in my birthday suit and I don't ever plan on taking any AFTER pictures in my birthday suit so there's always that!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Who ARE you, anyway?

How I view myself makes all the difference.

Maintaining my healthy weight these last 2 years has been an eye-opening experience in many, many ways.

Firstly I have learned that my body will ALWAYS respond to the instructions that I give it, like a good little soldier.

Secondly, there is a big difference between seeing myself as a fit and healthy woman, and seeing myself as someone who has lost 150 pounds and is "trying to keep the weight off".

Big.  Difference.

What is the difference you say?  The difference mentally is in the DIRECTION of the TENSION, which drives our thought process and then which translates PHYSICALLY to my first point above, which is that our bodies will always respond to the instructions that we give it.

The instructions we give it are rooted in how we view ourselves, which ultimately drive our actions and our health direction.

If we are simply "trying to keep from gaining weight" because we "have always gained it back" in the past and we are petrified and fearful of "gaining it back again" this time, WHERE is our FOCUS?

It is on GAINING the WEIGHT back.  We almost create the inevitability of that event by focusing on it and being fearful of it, allowing it to consume our thoughts and create tension the direction of what?  Of gaining the weight BACK.

Here's the thing that neuroscience has come to realize recently.  Our brains are wildly active even in our sleep.  They are organizing things, filing them away where they belong, figuring out solutions to things we are pondering during the day, etc.

Therefore, when it comes to unresolved tension, no matter what it is, part of our brain is on autopilot, figuring out how to resolve the tension, how to solve the problem.

When it comes to the arena of the fear of weight regain, our minds are viewing that as unresolved tension.  In essence, our brains are working out ways how to just GET IT OVER WITH (gain the weight back) so we can put that tension to rest and resolve it!  How do you like that?  How do you like the thought of your brain working overtime, in parts that you can't even cognitively pinpoint, and even in your SLEEP, trying to resolve the tension you've created by placing your focus on the WEIGHT you are afraid to gain BACK.  I don't know about you, but my mind is pretty sharp, and I certainly don't want it off somewhere, on it's own, cooking up devious plots on how it will get me to gain my weight back!  No thank you!

So what is to be done then?  Well, for me, daily success involved how I view myself.

I don't view myself as a "constant dieter who is in maintenance trying not to gain her weight back".  There is a real danger in this kind of mindset, as I explained above.

I DO view myself NOW as a fit and healthy woman who enjoys and active lifestyle and who joyfully chooses to eat a certain way in order to REMAIN fit and healthy.

New York Times bestselling author Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, co-founder of Take Shape For Life and Medical Director of Medifast, Inc. talks about this phenomenon in his book "Dr. A's Habits of Health" when he discusses motivation for change, structural tension, and the difference between the "diet mentality" which is essentially an oscillating pattern driven by the conflict resolution model, and "creating optimal health" which is a creative process focusing on the amazing things we can bring IN to our lives as a RESULT of becoming optimally healthy.

There is tension created in our brains in both scenarios.  The tension we create with the conflict-resolution model is tension to GAIN our weight back.  This is because LOSING WEIGHT is a NEGATIVE GOAL (something we want AWAY from, or OUT of our lives) and our motivation for LOSING the weight is because we are in emotional pain and conflict which we want GONE also.  When we begin feeling BETTER about ourselves as the weight begins to come off, we LOSE our motivation.

Some typical thoughts at this stage are:
* It was SO easy at the beginning, why is it SO hard now?
* Why can't I seem to stay a SINGLE DAY on plan?  I used to be able to go WEEKS at a time!
* What is WRONG with me?  Why can't I get my head straight and succeed at KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF!

I recently went through a precarious mind-shift myself, and only in hindsight can I now see what was happening.

You see, this viewing myself as a fit and health woman is not necessarily a permanent state.  If I don't cognitavely CHOOSE to do this, my default tends to be focusing on the WEIGHT instead.  I mean let's face it, I have about 40 years of practice viewing it as a WEIGHT thing and a DIET thing, and about 4 years of learning HOW to choose HEALTH as my focus.

I ran the Paris Marathon last April, and also participated in the Carlsbad Triathlon in July this last summer and the reality of that made it super-easy for me to continue identifying myself as a fit and healthy woman.

Since August of this year I noticed a bit of a mind shift in to old fears (about "keeping the weight off") and pressures I put upon myself in not wanting to let anyone down by regaining any of my weight.  I became anxious at every daily change of the scale, if it were up 1/4 pound, or up 4 pounds, and this daily hyper-focus on the scale, this daily anxiety if there was a change in the "upward" direction simply began to compound itself.  Before I knew it I was at my "scream" weight, which triggers an automatic "reboot" on our program for me.  I had some time to think about what happened, because I definitely noticed a shift in my mindset in August.

Before August there was joy in creating health!  After August there was fear in gaining weight!

So what have I done recently to give myself more opportunities to continue creating health?  I am beginning AGAIN to identify myself as a fit and healthy woman.  It is who I AM and who I wish to REMAIN.  I have banished the thoughts and fears about "gaining the weight back" because I actually BELIEVE what Dr. A says about all that structural tension stuff!  I have LIVED it time and time again and I recognize the TRUTH about the mind always seeking to resolve unresolved tension, and that by our thoughts, goals and values we create those tensions ourselves!

I have lived on both sides of the spectrum, in the arena of truly creating health in my life, and in the devastation of massive weight regain (which is simply a "snap-back", an "auto-correct" if you will, of the tension I was creating with my "negative goals" mindset).

I have lived BOTH of these ways, and I MASSIVELY prefer the joy and peace that comes from creating health in my life.  I choose to continue in THAT mindset.  Intentionally.

What does that look like practically?

Today I ask the question "Who Am I?"
Next questions "How will my actions today be authentic with who I am?"
Then go and do it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Genius is 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration - Thomas Edison

I LOVE to live in the inspiration side of genius.  I can spend hours dreaming of places I want to go, things I want to do, feats I want to accomplish.  Looking at Thomas Edison's quote I can't help but WISH that what he MEANT was that "Genius is 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration."

But alas, it is NOT what he said, and the truth of what he DID say tends to gobsmack me every time I truly ponder the words.

We have all sorts of intentions, don't we?  I know I do!  And I tend to speak my hopes out loud.  For example, we have a room in our house that has fallen in to deep disorder.  I mean DEEP.  Disorder.

Every time I pass by that room I get a pang of guilt that it has fallen into such disarray.  So, I do what any "I'm too busy right now maybe another day" mom would do, I simply close the door.  Sometimes the door gets opened again because I actually NEED something from that room, and then the cycle repeats.

Once a week or so I have the inspiring thought that maybe I'll actually try to tackle it "today".  I fully "intend" to tackle it for about the first 3 hours of said day.  Soon, the day happens "upon" me (as opposed to ME happening on the DAY) and I "find" that quite inexplicably the room has not, in fact, been tidied.

Big surprise there.

The same is sometimes true with my health goals.  Some days I have great "intention" of staying on my plan today.  I have even greater "intention" of getting some healthy motion (read exercise) in as well!  A few hours later, the exercise piece gets pushed to the side, and I'm left with my "intention" of staying on my eating plan.  A few hours after that, once again, I let the day happen TO me instead of me happening on the DAY, and viola my best intentions and inspiration for the day have evaporated.

Oh, Thomas, why can't I seem to remember your words every day?

Truly our best intentions and hopes must be followed by ACTION.  Perspiration he calls it.  Work.  Labor.  Sweat.  Doing.

Today I am going about things a little differently.  I have opened the door to "that room" and I have DECIDED to follow up my intentions with ACTIONS.  I have decided to put a DATE on my goal of getting that room clean and organized.  That day is TODAY.

With my health journey I have also put a DATE on my intentions.  Last year I ran the Paris Marathon because I put a training plan down on paper, with dates, and followed it up with the DAILY action, the "perspiration" to get the job done, to have my goal realized.  I've just set some new health goals this week, with dates, and today I will be setting my training plan down on my whiteboard, and will follow those "intentions" with daily action, the "perspiration" to get the job done. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure

Resolve.  Willpower.  White-knuckling.  Holding my breath.  What do these things have in common?

Simply this:  They are usually followed by feelings of shame.  Failure.  Inadequacy.  Self-loathing.

Then repeating resolve:  "I will  $%&**#&)  follow my "diet" today,  %&^*#  it!" and then by about 8pm comes the "What is WRONG with me?  Why can't I DO this?  Why can't I stick to a simple plan for 24 hours?"

Followed by feelings of shame.  Failure.  Inadequacy.  Self-loathing.

When I find myself slipping into this cycle, the "diet cycle," that oscillating pattern of "Lose-Gain-Repent-Repeat" I know that I have shifted my focus OFF of creating health.

There are now TWO directions I can go.  There are TWO outcomes to this scenario.  It is kind of like being in one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.  Pretend with me that you are reading one of those books right now.  Pretend this is YOUR adventure, and not MY adventure.

"To put your head in the sand, to continue on in this downward spiral of despair, defeat, self-loathing and anguish, turn to page 45."

"To make a fundamental decision for health, realize that your actions TODAY determine the direction you will go in your health, and to look FORWARD at creating health in your life and continuing to be the heroine in  your own life story, turn to page 63." 

I choose to turn to page 63.

Page 63 represents hope.  Page 63 represents my continued DECISION to move in the direction of optimal health and ultra health.

On page 63 are two sentences.  Are you ready for them?

1)  It is NEVER too late to become the person we "might have" been. - Brenda Warner
2)  First, say what it is you would be, then DO what you have to do.  - Epictetus

And so, which page will YOU choose?  Which adventure will YOU choose to live out in your own life?

I am a FREE Certified Health Coach and am ready to help YOU choose YOUR own adventure! Message me and let's get going TODAY!

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sometimes It's Like NOT Scratching an Itch....

I have decided that resisting cravings are somewhat like NOT scratching an itch.  I conducted an experiment last night on our car trip back from Los Angeles to Phoenix, it was somewhat unintended but gave me some great insights!

I was in the back seat of our car with our awesome 10-year old son, and I had closed my eyes to rest a bit.  He noticed my eyes were closed, and said "Hey Daddy!  Mama is asleep!"  My husband said "well, don't wake her up, let her rest."

Not wanting to disappoint my son and make him think he had woken me up (he hadn't, I wasn't asleep in the first place) I wanted to keep my eyes closed for a bit and remain still.

But there was a problem.  I immediately developed an itch on my nose.

What could I do?  I couldn't scratch it, or he would see me moving/stirring/awake and be devastated that he had woken me up!  So, I sat there, eyes closed, nose itching, and DIDN'T scratch it.

It persisted.  In fact, it got stronger.  It became almost unbearable because I was doing everything I could to NOT scratch it.  I thought I was going to succumb to it, to respond to the itch, and everything in me WANTED to do that and was TELLING me to just scratch it already.

But I didn't.

Herculean self control and torture, LOL.  

Then guess what happened?  After about a minute of itching, the itch subsided on its own!  The urge to scratch it went COMPLETELY away!

Wanting to see if this was a fluke experience, I tried to repeat the phenomenon as I lay in bed last night.  My nose had begun to itch, and instead of immediately scratching it I just experienced the itch for 20-30 seconds.  It went away!  I found that if I didn't scratch it, the itch would subside over time!

I drew a parallel to my cravings for off-plan items.  At the time of the craving, it seems that the reflexive desire to answer the craving immediately is all I can think about.  But then I notice that if I DON'T respond to to craving, in about 5 minutes the desire for the item I am craving GOES AWAY!

So here is the lesson in that, BUY YOURSELF TIME away from acting on the temptation to sabotage yourself.  Dr. A calls this the "Stop.  Challenge.  Choose." method, where you literally STOP what you are doing, take 8 deep breaths or drink a glass of water, CHALLENGE whether or not what you are about to do works TOWARDS your health goals or counteracts them, then CHOOSE what is ultimately most important to you.

In the car with my son it was MOST important for me to give the appearance to my son that I was, in fact, asleep.  So I didn't respond to the craving to scratch my nose.  

What is important to you in your health journey?  What actions will you take to realize your most important goals/dreams/desires?  Sometimes it's as easy (hard) as simply NOT scratching that itch.

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Done with Being Double-Minded!

So it's a new year, and with every new year comes a sense of renewal, of new beginnings, of setting down goals which fall in line with the hopes and dreams of what I hope to accomplish during my time on this earth!  It is a time of reflecting upon the previous year, taking stock of my blessings, and looking towards the next year!

I remember when I was class IV Super-Obese (at 5'3" and 272 pounds, with a BMI of around 48) and every December 31st would be filled with the feeling (again) of failure and regret.  Regret that I had NOT achieved any real measurable improvements in my own health the previous year.  A sense of failure that I had squandered yet another year with failed diets and I translated that failure to thinking that I was hopelessly flawed, that I'd never be able to bring health into my life, so what was the point of making yet ANOTHER New Year's Resolution? 

Then came the summer of 2010.  After getting STUCK in the TURNSTILES at Disneyworld and having to be let through the stroller gate (with no stroller) I was hopelessly embarrassed.  I was mortified, actually.  I was as big as I had ever been, and I was filled with self-loathing. 

Self-loathing had actually been present in my life for most of my adult years, because I KNEW there was a healthy person inside me just WAITING to get out, but I had NO idea how to make my dream a reality. 

Having had success on a program in the past, but having gained it all back, I decided to make a fundamental decision for HEALTH.

I decided to join Take Shape For Life, get a Free Health Coach, and give it my all.

I proceeded to lose 150 pounds over about 18-20 months, and adopted Habits of Health that have really changed my life.

So why the title to this blog "Done Being Double Minded"?

Here's the thing, there isn't any such thing, I believe, as a "Permanent once-and-for-all mind shift" which will forever "cure" me of the desire to eat yummy things.  It's not like a magic wand waived over me and instantly undid the years and years of carb-addiction (white sugar is like crack for me) and the abuse I did to my body by overeating to the degree that it stored 150 extra pounds of fat that I didn't need on my petite frame. 

So although I have lost 150 pounds, although I HAVE grown a full inch from being 5'2" to being 5'3" (it's amazing how springy the spine can be when it isn't so weighted down), although I have ditched the CANE I needed to walk with at the age of 39 because my knees hurt so badly sometimes, although I have run a full marathon, etc etc....there is still a part of my brain which seeks to destroy all that I have accomplished with my health.

The only term I can think of for that is that I am "double-minded" and sometimes my "fat-brain" exercises influence over me.

Well, MY New Year's Resolution THIS year has nothing to do with LOSING WEIGHT because I already DID that, but it has EVERYTHING to do with MAINTAINING the health I have achieved in my own life by committing to myself to move FURTHER into a healthy mindset and DITCH the double-mindedness.

I know it will be a challenge.  The duplicity of my thoughts sometimes astounds even me!  And they are MY thoughts!  And I have them, and I think "woah, where did THAT come from?" and I KNOW where that came from, it came from years and years of unhealthy habits which never went AWAY, they just lay there in my brain, DORMANT, and SLEEPING, until I WAKE them up by acting upon any of those self-destructive thoughts.

You see, as I said, there is no magic wand.  What I have achieved has been achieved intentionally and with purpose, and because of the program that I utilized allowed me to gradually develop rituals, habits, that were HEALTHY instead of UNHEALTHY.  Eventually those healthy habits became simply my routine. 

Here is an example of an unhealthy habit that I ditched along the way:  Going OFF-PLAN on the weekends. 

You know how it is, Friday rolls around and we think "Man, I've been SO GOOD all week, SO structured, and hey it's the weekend and I want to be a little impulsive, a little wild, a little crazy, and let's face it I DESERVE to have a little treat here on Friday night."

And Monday morning we wake up in a carb coma.  We wonder "what the heck happened?" and we resolve to be "good" again.  So we hold it together, get back on plan, with a militant resolve.

Then Friday comes around again, and we get a little loosey-goosey with our program.

Well, that can become a HABIT. 

It isn't BAD or GOOD, because it isn't a moral decision, it simply is a habit.  So are you wondering why it is so HARD to stay on plan over the weekend?  Simple, it may be because you have made it a habit, a routine, to NOT be on plan over the weekends.  So change it!

Yes, you CAN!  How?  Well, right now, as you are reading this blog it is Saturday morning.  Even if you deviated a little last night, commit to yourself RIGHT NOW that your NEXT decision will be an ON PLAN decision.  Then repeat.  Then repeat.  See?   You'll make it through the rest of the weekend and not wake up on Monday morning with that familiar sense of guilt, failure and regret.

Then, next Friday?  COMMIT to yourself that each decision you make through the weekend will be an ON PLAN decision.  There!  You've made it through a SECOND weekend on plan.  Get a few more weekends under your belt ON PLAN and you've just created a HEALTHY habit of being ON PLAN on the weekends!  The first weekend or two may feel foreign, strange, or hard.  Wild thoughts may bombard you every few hours or even every minute, and you will need to resist acting on those thoughts of self-sabotage.  But get a few weekends done ON PLAN and then you will find that being ON PLAN is your weekend routine!  There!  You've done it!

So for me, the double-mindedness I plan to conquer this month and this year is the double-mindedness that on one hand I see myself as a fit and healthy woman, and then BOOM out of the blue a thought will bombard me that reminds me of the OLD me, the OBESE me.  I have made a commitment to myself NOT to act in a manner that is NOT in accordance with the NEW me.  It will be hard, at first.  But then as I continue to flex that muscle I will find that it is easier, and that those thoughts of self-sabotage will come less and less often because I'm not FEEDING those thoughts with ACTIONS that will ACTUALLY sabotage me and my success so far.

This is important to me.  I am doing it.  The life I have left behind was a life that I didn't want.  It was a life that caused me great emotional and physical pain and conflict.  It was flat-out unhealthy.  I didn't want to model that for my son, my family, my community, or myself.  So I made a decision to change.  And true change, real change IS possible.  I'm living proof and I simply need to remind myself of that fact anytime I have a duplicitous thought enter my brain.  I need to combat those thoughts with the truth.  The truth is that we can ALWAYS control what goes in our mouths.  We can ALWAYS control how we choose to respond to temptations.  And seemingly small improvements, practiced daily, produce stunning results over time.

So allow for the passage of time, and let's get those resolutions ON!