Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Holiday Strategies

Holiday Strategy? Thanksgiving? Christmas? Hanukkah? New Years? The time of year has come, and the "Holiday Season" has arrived! What is your strategy? Do you have one? I would recommend putting a little thought and time into one because it's been my experience in my own life that when I DON'T do this, I drift. Let me rephrase that. When I DON'T have a Holiday Strategy, I drift UP. Sometimes UP and UP, depending on the severity of the Holiday season (LOL). This is actually my favorite time of year, and it is also my favorite FOOD time of the year because of all of the memories of Thanksgivings and Christmases past.

So, there are a few strategies I can give as far as your health journey is concerned. None of them are GOOD or BAD, but ALL of them are a CHOICE based on what you have said you want to accomplish with your health.

1) The "what holiday?" route:
With this strategy, you continue to take each day as it comes, you continue on your eating plan food-and-drink-wise as if there were NO Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Eve, Hanukkah Festivities, Open House or New Year's Eve. You still attend all of these events, but you are content to remain on your program, eating Turkey, green beans and salad for Thanksgiving, Prime Rib or Roast Beef, green beans and salad for Christmas Eve, toasting New Year's Eve in with a sugar-free Hansens natural Creme Soda or Ginger Ale, and waking up on January 1st around 12-15 (or more) pounds lighter than you are today. You shopped around for a beautiful dress or tailored suit for the occasions (because nothing in your closet fits anymore), and the one you bought for Thanksgiving you will actually need to take in a little bit for the New Year's Eve Party. You enjoyed the season, the people, the spirit of the holidays, and you have zero regrets. You were actually able to choose a DIFFERENT New Year's "Resolution" this year besides "I will lose weight" because you already are well on your way to THAT goal and don't need to "start fresh, mentally".

2) The "Free-for-All" route:
With this strategy, you start celebrating with food TODAY, in anticipation of the holidays. After all, 'tis the season to be jolly, and you don't want any encumbrances placed on your eating and drinking decisions. Food has a very special and sentimental place in your heart, and no matter what your health goals, you are not going to miss the fun of food. You have no plans to have an "on-track" day from now until January 1st, and you have contented yourself with the fact that sure, you might gain some weight, you're hoping to "maintain" but on January 1st upon reflection you realize that "Hope was not a strategy" and you are now in the next size up jeans or dresses than you were on November 15th. Your New Year's Resolution is still "I will lose weight, starting TODAY!" and you wait until 12:01 January 1st to make that resolution, just like past years. ON Jan 1st, you wake up to the thoughts that feel suspiciously like regret, which is a very familiar feeling to you, and also surprisingly more disheartening than you thought it would be. You wonder "can I really do this?" Hopefully you decide that you can, you let bygones by bygones and get right back on track. There is a possibility, however, that you've lost some of your momentum and your hope that you can actually have the healthy life you want, and you may not decide to get back on plan. Therein lies the risk of this strategy.

3) The "Special-Occasion-Only" route:
With this strategy, you ascertain that out of the next 276 meals/fuelings from now until January 1st only 3 or 4 of them will truly be the "Holiday Meals" you make a firm decision that on January 1st, you'd like to be at least 10 pounds or more lighter than you are today, and you commit to having some "off-plan" items at those meals only. You make a rule that you won't eat any cookies or treats EXCEPT at those festivities, and you won't go back for seconds DURING those festivities. Unbeknownst to you at present, you will have just stepped in to what I call "normal eating". After all, it isn't that small sliver of pumpkin pie or bit of stuffing with gravy that makes people unhealthy/overweight, and you get right back on track after each one of those holiday meals. You wake up on January 1st having met your goal, and feeling GREAT!

So, what if you don't decide to choose ANY of these options? What I have found is that if you don't make a choice and a plan you will likely simply default to option 2.

What will it be this Holiday Season? Will you be in control of your Holiday food? Or, will it be in control of you?

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, October 17, 2016

"I Can't Wait to be OFF This Thing! I Just Want to Eat 'Normally'!"

"Hoping that I could lose my weight and then go back and eat like a normal person."

This is a very real desire that we all have to confront at some point or other in our journey towards optimal health.  
Thinking about this topic sparked so many thoughts in me that I decided to make it a blog!

Well, put it this way, we don't HAVE to confront this idea, we can IGNORE what is deep down and simply ACT on that hope after "losing weight", which WILL likely cause us to gain it all back again.
Or, we can deal with it and CHANGE OUR WANTS.
Let me give you a different perspective on it. Do you REALLY want to "eat normal"?
Firstly, doing what you've always done will get you what you've always got. Is that the status quo you want to maintain after all your hard work?
Secondly, the idea of "normal" in this country is what has 2/3rd's of Americans being overweight and fully HALF of those overweight Americans are OBESE. So, "normal" is overweight or obese. Healthy weight is actually the EXCEPTION. We are the MINORITY, those of us who are a healthy weight.
Most people who are a healthy weight remain so because their bodies naturally tend towards that. Some of us are a healthy weight because we were FORMERLY obese or overweight and decided to make a lifestyle shift, to fight for the right to be healthy!
Since only about 5-15% of people who lose a significant amount of weight maintain their losses for two years or more, (but Health Coaches are 5 times more likely to NOT regain their weight within the next 2 years) that means those of who have done that, who ARE in the healthy weight range, are the minority of the minority (of the minority of the minority....it feels like one of those pictures of a mirror with a picture of a mirror with a picture of a mirror....I digress.....). 
So tell me, do we WANT to eat NORMALLY to BE NORMAL, or do we WANT to eat EXCEPTIONALLY to be EXCEPTIONAL?
Do you know who else chooses "Exceptional?"
Olympic quality and elite athletes. Their lives are RULED by their training. They eat "normally" for an Olympic Athlete. What IS "normal" for an Olympic Athlete? Well I've done some study, and Olympic Athletes are very regimented when they are in training.
Take Olympic athlete Gabby Douglas, who was featured in Cosmopolitan this last summer. You can copy and paste this link to read about it, but I'll sum it up here. Basically, Gabby Douglas trains, in split-training, SIX HOURS PER DAY. What does she eat? Here it is:
Chicken Breast
Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar
Handful of Dark Chocolate-Covered Almonds
Sauteed Garlic Green Beans
1 Cup Pasta
Homemade Gingerbread
Basically, she is consuming 2 "Lean & Greens", 3 servings of grains, 1 fruit, and 2 snacks. Oh, and she is training at the Olympic level in gymnastics for 6 hours every day.
Henry Cavill a.k.a "Superman". If you have seen any of his interviews about his work-out/eating regimen while training for and shooting the Man of Steel movie, you will see what I mean. He had to sign a CONTRACT with Universal Studios which dictated that he would only eat what the studio provided him to eat for six months. SIX MONTHS! Why did he do this? Because he had a goal in mind. He wanted to play "Superman" and he knew what he needed to do in order to realize his dream. And he did.
Channing Tatum. http://fitnesshacker.com/channing-tatum-workout/
The Principles Of Channing Tatum Diet;
5 to 6 Small Meals Spread Across the Day
Lean Proteins like Beef and Chicken
Plenty of Fresh Fruit, Oranges, Apples and Banannas
Large Range of Vegetables with Every Main Meal.
Carbohydrates in suitable proportions, whole grains are best.
Yogurt and the “Yummy” Treats in life, Just in Suitable Proportions.
Channing Tatum declines "buns" when he is out to dinner and orders a hamburger. We don't see this played out, because we never have dinner with Channing Tatum. However, he does. If Channing Tatum were an overweight woman asking for his "bunnless burger" everyone around him would assume he were "on a diet". No, he's just eating in accordance with the goals he wants to accomplish.
Exceptional in this context means that you are comfortable with and striving towards your health goals. You have lived the life of a "normal" American adult, and it did NOT bring you peace and joy. In fact, quite the opposite, it brought you heartache and emotional conflict and pain such that you made a decision to NOT BE THAT WAY ANYMORE.
Our bodies are our bodies, we can't swap 'em out for bodies that DON'T store extra calories/carbs etc as fat. Our bodies will always do that, we have not and will not change that propensity, dictated to us by our genetics primarily. What we HAVE accomplished by losing the excess adipose tissue (long-term energy storage) is that we have brought our bodies back in to energy balance. We are no longer hoarders of calories on our person. We are also living a life, those of us who have done that, which is necessarily more active. For me, this life I live now is infinately more satisfying and exciting and downright FUN that the life I was living as a Class IV Super-Obese-yet-"normal"-eating individual.
Our program is structured, to be sure. Our program is clinically proven safe and effective, 100% so. The question is, how do we VIEW our program? Do we view it as some "diet" which has been "foisted" upon us and therefore we regret it? Or do we view it as an OPPORTUNITY to be in TRAINING for the life we WANT to live?
And I will eat exceptionally, and I will move exceptionally, because I CHOOSE TO DO SO.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Stage 2 is NOT a "Diet"

Are you on a "diet" or are you practicing a healthy routine?

How do you frame what it is your are doing?

It matters!

Many times people who struggle with their weight develop a "diet mentality" when they decide they are going to try to "lose weight".

For me, I am practicing a "healthy routine". Now, losing weight may be part of that healthy routine if I am overweight or obese when I begin the process, but it ain't no "diet!" I have learned to re-classify my daily actions in light of what I am trying to accomplish, which is to live a healthy lifestyle.  What I do is no different than an athlete who has a goal and is "in training" to accomplish that goal!

Therefore I'm not on a "diet" in order "to lose weight". I happen to be "in training" for living an optimally healthy life!

In our program there are 6 stages to living an optimally healthy life.

1) Preparing for your journey
2) Reaching a healthy weight (which, by definition, is necessary to live a healthy life!)
3) Transition to healthy eating
4) Live the Habits of Health
5) Optimize health for your age
6) The potential to live a longer, healthier life

As you can see, reaching a healthy weight is simply the SECOND stage of my healthy life training! It is the second stage out of SIX STAGES! Yet most of us seem to concentrate and zero in on viewing the second stage as the ONLY stage, and we tend to classify it in our self-talk (and what we tell others) as "I'm on a diet".

I am desiring to live a healthy life, that is my goal, and I am taking the steps in order to LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE! I am not taking steps to "be on a diet".

Blah! Yuck! Who wants to do that? "Diets" are temporary things where people force themselves into a chronically deprived state, can't eat any yummy things, and feel bad about themselves! That is not what I am doing!

I am simply in a stage of change from previously living an UNHEALTHY life, or being in a state of "Dis-Ease", to living a HEALTHY LIFE!

And that process began when I prepared for my journey and made the choice to do it! That process doesn't "begin" when I am at a "goal weight" and "then I'll be happy".

I'm happy NOW! I'm in training for a healthy life! I've engaged in the process to LIVE a healthy life, and I am on the path to it! I'm not on no stinkin' DIET!

Now, stage 2, which is "Reach a healthy weight" necessarily involves putting my body into a state where it is highly encouraged to utilize my EXCESS weight (fat) as energy. I do that on purpose. It is part of the plan, it is part of "Reaching a healthy weight". The way in which I do this is very scientific, clinically proven safe and effective, and harnesses the science of weight loss perfectly so that I don't have to figure it all out on my own by devouring "diet books" or reading about the "latest celebrity fad". All I need to do is follow a structured eating plan and make MY day look like a day in the Quick Start Guide. If I do that day in and day out, I am accomplishing stage 2 automatically.

Athletes use "sports supplements" to optimize their training and performance goals. Protein powders. Sports gels. Meal-replacement bars. They do this because it gets them where they want to go, it allows them to live the life they want to live. I am no different in this respect. I also use "supplements" and I call them "fuelings". Just as athletic and sports supplements provide athletes exactly what they need to get the right kind of fuel for the results they want, my fuelings or "supplements" get ME the right kind of fuel for the results that I want, appropriate to the stage I am in! It is really NO DIFFERENT.

I don't focus on the things I "can't" have. I don't even look at it that way. I look at is as "what CAN I do today to further the process of the stage I am in?" I look at it with hope and optimism because the "attain a healthy weight phase" can take me into the next stage provided I follow the plan! No muss, no fuss, no pining over yummy things that aren't ON the program. Why would I? They don't appeal to me. They won't take me where I want to go! I'm in training for a healthy life, and this is the new healthy me, so why would I "cheat" my dreams and risk NOT living the life I want to live?

Just some thoughts for today on how to "reframe" your journey. Let's not get "stuck" in the "Stage 2 loop" endlessly because we are viewing it as a diet. Diets don't work. There is so much beyond stage 2, so let's move through stage 2 and into the rest of our "health" by taking the steps necessary to MOVE us through stage 2 and into stage 3.

Rinse and Repeat!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Stages of Change

In my Health Promotion class I learned the "terminology" behind some of what I have learned experientially through my 7 years as a Certified Health Coach. We were studying the "Trans-Theoretical Model of Behavior Change." 

The goal behind any behavior change is to move THROUGH the stages INTO the healthy behavior you are wanting to bring into your life, so that you can be actively living in and maintaining the DESIRED behavior.

I've been in various stages of ALL of these stages in my own 48-year health journey, I'll describe them and you can see where YOU fit in!

Precontemplation: "I won't/I can't"

Contemplation: "I might"
Preparation: "I will"
Action: "I am"
Maintenance: "I have"
Termination: "It's as if I've never lived any differently than how I'm living now"

The following descriptions were taken from the book Health Behavior Theory, Research, and Practice, 5th Edition, by Karen Glanz, Barbara K Rimer, and K. Viswanath,

Precontemplation is the stage in which people do not intent to take action in the near term, usually measured as the next six months. The outcome interval may vary depending on the behavior. People may be in this stage because they are not informed enough about the consequences of their behavior. Or they may have tried to change a number of times and become demoralized about their abilities to change. Both groups tend to avoid reading, talking, or thinking about their behaviors. They often are characterized as resistant, unmotivated, or not ready for health promotion programs. An alternative explanation is that traditional health promotion programs were not ready for such individuals and were not motivated to match their needs.


People in contemplation intend to change their behaviors in the next six months. They are more aware of the pros of changing than precontemplators and are also acutely aware of the cons. This balance between the costs and benefits of changing can produce profound ambivalence and keep some people stuck in contemplation, a phenomenon characterized as chronic contemplation or behavioral procrastination. These people are not ready for traditional action-oriented programs that expect participants to take immediate action. If contemplators are pushed into such programs, they are not likely to succeed.


In the preparation stage, people intend to take action soon, usually measured as the next month. Typically, they have taken some steps in the past year. They have a plan of action, such as joining a quit smoking health education class, consulting a counselor, talking to their physician, buying a self-help book, or relying on a self-change approach. These are the people who are receptive to and willing to begin an action-oriented program.


People in the action stage have made specific overt modifications in their lifestyles within the past six months. Because action is observable, behavior change has often been equated with action. In the TTM, action is only one of six stages. Typically, not all modifications of behavior count as action in this model. In most applications, people have to attain a criterion that scientists and professionals agree is sufficient to reduce risks for disease. For some behaviors, such as cancer screening, the criterion may be getting an effective cancer screening test (e.g. a mammogram, Pap test, or colonoscopy) that can reduce the risk of dying from cancer. For smoking, there now is consensus that the criterion behavior should be total abstinence, since other changes do not necessarily lead to quitting and do not lower risks to zero.


People in maintenance have made specific, overt modifications in their lifestyles. They are working to prevent relapse, and they do not apply change processes as frequently as people in their changes. Based of self-efficacy data, it has been estimated that maintenance lasts from six months to about five years, depending on the targeted behavior. Longitudinal data from the 1990's surgeon general's report (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990) supported this temporal estimate. After twelve months of continuous abstinence, 43 percent of individuals returned to regular smoking. It was not until five years of continuous abstinence that risks for relapse dropped to 7 percent. The time frame can very for other health behaviors.


People in termination report having zero temptation and 100 percent self-efficacy. Whether they are depressed, anxious, bored, lonely, angry, or stressed, they are sure they will not return to their old, unhealthy behaviors. It is as if they had never acquired the behavior in the first place, and their new behavior has become automatic. Examples include adults who buckle their seatbelts as soon as they get in their cars or automatically take their antihypertensive medications at the same time and place each day. In a study of former smokers and alcoholics we found that fewer than 20 percent of each group had reached the criterion of zero temptation and total self-efficacy (Snow, Prochaska, & Rossi, 1992). The criterion may be too strict or this stage may be an ideal goal for the majority of people. In other areas, like exercise, consistent condom use, and weight control, the realistic goal may be a lifetime of maintenance, since relapse temptations are so prevalent and strong. Termination has received much less research and practical attention than other stages, because it typically takes so long for individuals to reach this stage."

So my take as someone who struggled with my weight since 4th grade, and someone who desires to continue to live in health, practicing my healthy habits, is that I want to get IN to "maintenance" and remain there. I am happily in ACTION right now, giving myself a "tune-up," and will continue in action even through and back into maintenance. I look forward to the "termination" phase (no not LITERALLY!)! The stage where I have solidified and mastered all my healthy habits, and living and continuing to thrive in my healthy lifestyle will be as routine to me as breathing!  For today, though, I am satisfied living day-to-day and remaining MINDFUL in "action" and "maintenance". Perhaps "termination" is something that can only be observed as having been entered in hindsight.

But there were plenty of years I lived, before finding our wonderful program, in a state of "pre-contemplation". I didn't want to read or hear anything about "how to get healthy" because it always caused me (I thought) to feel terrible about myself. I preferred to live in ignorant bliss, and my health and quality of life suffered tremendously because of it. Oh sure, I had moved into "action" before, but things hadn't worked out the way I had wanted them to and I'd always regress back into the precontemplative state.

Then there were those times I was in a contemplative state, reading about weight loss-programs, and sometimes even trying them (moving into action), but then ultimately failing and regressing back to precontemplation.

I think of the many years I spent in "behavioral procrastination" with regret. I studied Nutrition to try to understand the metabolic processes, and requirements of the human body, in an effort to understand MYSELF and my situation. I became an expert on theory but was inexperienced in ACTION and RESULTS.

Until I found our program, that is. I was so impacted by the stories of the REAL people who had transformed their health through our program I moved directly from pre-contemplation to action, and I have never looked back. Our community is a community of like-minded people who are LIVING the life they always wanted to live, not perfectly, but perfectly IMPERFECTLY and with grace and love, who have MOVED into action and then into maintenance, and who support each other along the way. 

Here's my own takeaway. I am trying to learn how to better identify WHERE people may be in their OWN journey, and how best I can help them move forward from where they are to where they want to be. 

That's my passion, and that's my heart.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

There's a difference between "distraction" and "direction"

Ever notice how being "on plan" with our program feels much easier when we are busy?

When we are at work, or busy on a project, and a temptation comes, we usually we don't have "time" for those thoughts. We certainly don't have time to ACT on them, our minds are so occupied with other things that when the thoughts come we are rapidly "distracted" by the next thing that is required of us, so those temptation thoughts don't germinate and expand.

But during the weekend, evenings, or our downtime those same temptation thoughts come in and seem to grow exponentially, many times resulting in our acting on them in a way which sabotages our plans, delays us achieving our health goals, and making us feel like failures.

What to do?

Well, there is a real difference between "distraction" and "direction".

Distraction is what I mentioned above. It is the DISPLACEMENT of the original thought by necessity of other things taking priority. On the weekends, we can run out of things to distract ourselves, can't we? We can get bored. We can seek entertainment with food or drink.

Direction, however, is intentional. Direction is us taking that thought, that temptation, MINDFULLY, unpacking it for a moment, acknowledging it's presence, and then CHOOSING to say "no" to that because it doesn't forward our long-term agendas, our primary goals, as regards our health.

The "Stop! Challenge! Choose!" method is a very practical way of dealing with those thoughts or temptations in a way which will give us peace of mind, strength of resolve, and momentum in achieving our goals. Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen came up with the "Stop! Challenge! Choose!" method and writes about it in his book "Dr. A's Habits of Health" and also his New York Times Bestseller "Discover Your Optimal Health." It basically goes like this:

Temptation arises.
Literally, stop what you are doing or are about to do! Take a few DEEP breaths.
Challenge yourself and ask "will eating/drinking/doing this action take me closer to my health goals, or farther away from them?"
Choose the action which furthers your most intrinsic goal of creating Optimal Health in your life.

If we rely on distraction, those temptation thoughts MAY go away for awhile, but when they return they will bring lots of friends with them, or return stronger than they were before. Why? Because we didn't DEAL with the thought or emotion in a cognitive way. Therefore, it can resurface, or bubble up LATER, or EVEN manifest in OTHER ways that are non-food. Those thoughts can show up later as chronic stress, or irritability, or depression, or anger. Ever feel that way?

Ever feel like you've been holding those thoughts at bay ALL WEEK LONG, you've been SO GOOD, and then Friday evening hits and you have all of a sudden "run out of will-power?"

That is a typical pattern of being "on-plan" during the week, when it seems to be "so easy", and then on the weekends we can get so loosey-goosey that no one who might be watching us over the weekend would even think we were the same person as we were Monday-Thursday! We can even surprise OURSELVES at how "double-minded" we seem to be!

It truly is the difference between "Distraction" and "Direction".

So what to do?

When those temptations come during the week, take a moment and think "yes, I COULD choose to have those, but I PREFER to say no to those now so that I can have what I REALLY want eventually, which is OPTIMAL HEALTH." Practice saying that throughout the week. By the end of the week you will find that those thoughts now come more easily when faced with temptations over the weekend. You have created a pattern of mindfulness which, once established, can become your default way of thinking about things that might otherwise set you back were you to indulge in them.

Try it out! Let me know what you think!

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Instead of "Preventing Something Awful From Happening" let's "Make Something Amazing Happen!"

The medical and academic culture is rife with trying to discover "things to avoid" in order to "not live an unhealthy life".

I think it's time for a major intervention and paradigm shift in our thinking as a society.

How about instead of "trying to avoid" things that we "don't" want in our lives, we go about the business of CREATING what we DO want in our lives?

Like health.

So much of the literature these days focuses on "what not to do" or "what not to eat", so much so that we could create encyclopedia-length lists of things NOT to do and NOT to eat.

I've decided to live life from a perspective that CREATES my BEST days, which are in FRONT of me, instead of attempting to "mitigate the inevitable decline" of my health or my life.

How do I do that? Why do I do that?

Because people don't make significant life changes based on FEAR, FORCE or FACTS. People make significant sustainable life changes first by finding a group of people or a person or an ideal which inspires them, gives them HOPE that a change is possible. Then they LEARN the habits and skills needed to create and sustain the NEW life or lifestyle, and finally they REMAIN in community with like-minded people who have MADE and sustained that life change.*

It has nothing to do with "preventing illness" it has everything to do with "creating an abundant thriving life which is then a JOY to continue living.

*Concepts from the book "Change or Die" by Alan Deutchmann

Friday, July 29, 2016

Consider the Hummingbird

Six months ago I put small hummingbird feeder on the window next to my kitchen table. I thought it would be nice to see them come and go, to admire their beautiful iridescent feathers sparkling in the sunlight.

The hummingbirds found the feeder relatively quickly, and indeed they do swoop in and out many times a day. In fact, we have several families of hummingbirds now who have built nests and taken up residence in the trees in our front yard!

Throughout the day, as I work from my kitchen table, my peripheral vision will catch movement, I'll stop whatever I am doing, and watch in wonder as these little miracle-birds come for their "fuel".

Here's what I have noticed. They come. They drink the hummingbird food (fuel). Then they fly off to continue living their little hummingbird lives. A while later they will come, drink the fuel, and fly off again to resume doing what hummingbirds do whenever they aren't "fueling up."

Their internal clocks tell them when they are running out of energy and need to re-fuel, and that is when they do it. If I could peek into their brains, I bet I wouldn't see them obsessing about when and where and what their next feeding will be the entire time they are away from the feeder. Having never BEEN a hummingbird, though, I really don't KNOW what they are thinking, I can only guess. They KNOW their fuel will be right there, when they need it, and they plan to return whenever they need it.

They don't take more than they need for the next little while. They don't "camp out" next to the hummingbird syrup, afraid it won't be there the next time they need it. They seem content and at peace with the same routine, the same fuel, day after day after day. They haven't complained about the lack of variety yet! I've also never seen a stout hummingbird.

Just some thoughts for today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Breaking a Plateau

With my knowledge of metabolism, and my experience as I get my masters degree in Obesity Prevention and Management, I can give you some even BETTER tips!
IF you are experiencing a plateau, which is NORMAL to experience one or two during your weight-loss portion of your journey, (a plateau is 2 weeks of ZERO weight loss...and yes this is normal one or two times, even if you are doing everything correctly!) try some of the following:

Side note here, I know there are some of you out there (including ME) who get frustrated when we see 3 days of NO LOSS on the scale, we freak out and say "It's NOT WORKING ANYMORE!" I'm here to tell you to sit yourself down, and explain to yourself that as LONG as you are following the program as per the Quick Start Guide, the program WILL WORK as intended. Now, our expectations are that it means we will lose 1 pound a day for the next 60 days. LOL. That is not going to happen, nor would it be healthy. Your body will lose at the pace it will lose, and the best thing YOU can do is stick to the Quick Start Guide like GLUE.
So, here are MY tips:
*Are you weighing your protein and measuring your veggies? Now hold on, I know if you are like me you will think "Does that REALLY matter? How can a couple ounces off here or there REALLY effect things in the long run?" THEY CAN. Think of this program as a prescription. Would you alter the dose or the timing of your medication simply because you thought "does it really matter?" The answer is NO! This is a CLINICALLY PROVEN program, and the scientific studies were done with a FOOD SCALE and a MEASURING CUP. So, my first question to someone on a plateau is "are you weighing your cooked protein, and measuring your vegetables with a measuring cup?”
If not, do start.
*Are you adding your required amount of healthy fats?
To burn fat we need to prime the pump and make sure we are consuming an adequate amount of healthy fats every day. If you haven't been keeping track of those, with a MEASURING SPOON, then I recommend you start. Again, would you alter the dose of your medication because you thought it really didn't matter?
Look, here's the skinny. We need to STOP substituting our judgment for the judgment of the experts who formulated this plan. Really, if we were actually experts, we wouldn't need this program in the first place! Yet time and time again, and I know this is true for me too, I think that I know better than the plan, or that this little deviation won't really matter in the grand scheme of things.The fact is, it really DOES matter.
*Are you drinking 90 ounces of pure water ever day?
If not, START. Your body REQUIRES EXCESS WATER to perform the chemical reaction of making your stored body fat available for immediate use as energy. I could explain in detail how H2O is necessary to break the bond of the Triglycerides floating around in your blood stream into 3 Free Fatty Acids that can readily be uptaken by the individual cells so they can use that as fuel for their furnace, and the H2O is USED up in that chemical process. I could explain how if the Triglyceride REMAINS a triglyceride it will do you no good and instead simply float around in your blood until it is RESTORED in another Fat Cell, and I'm happy to do that...I could explain that your body, if not given adequate water to turn your fat into usable energy will instead conserve the water for the vital body functions like maintaining blood volume and hydrating your cells, and that if you don't drink enough water (90 ounces should do it) your body will instead set off a hormonal cascade to make you HUNGRY, TIRED, and SLOW your metabolism...I could explain all of those things to you from a biochemical standpoint, and I'm happy to do it, but the bottom line physiologically is DRINK YOUR 90 ounces of water and you don't have to WORRY about all these other things.
*Are you spacing your 6 meals out every 2.5-3 hours?
If not, START. This program honors the science of fat burning/weight loss, and stable blood sugars are an integral part of that process. If you go more than 3 hours without "throwing a log on the fire" you are signaling to your body that you are in conservation mode, and it will respond accordingly. If you throw a log on the fire of your metabolism every 3 hours, that fire will continue to burn hot and bright, and will happily utilize your long-term energy storage (fat) on a day-to-day basis. If you convince your body you are in a famine situation by NOT eating every 3 hours, you are sending it the instruction to CONSERVE AND STORE, and it will batten down the hatches and do exactly what you have told it to do.
*Are you tracking your condiments and not exceeding 3 maximum?
If not, START. Condiments add up, and they do add calories in the form of carbohydrates.
*Are you having an optional snack every day?
If so, STOP. It may be those extra calories/carbs are throwing you just over the threshold of you body really being convinced it needs to utilize your fat reserves.
Start by doing all of the above. If you are still in a plateau after this, and you AREN'T exercising, or you have a very sedentary job, START MOVING a little more every day.
I recommend getting a FITBIT and setting a goal for 5,000 steps per day, then upping that to 10,000 steps per day.
There you have it! That is my "breaking a plateau guide".
Here is what I would love you to do. REST in the simplicity of the plan. UNDERSTAND that the science of weight loss has to do mostly with your nutrition, what you are putting in your body and when. If you want to encourage your body to utilize the energy it has stored up for a rainy day, let’s give it that rainy day in a controlled situation, which is what this plan DOES. It WILL use the energy, and you will HAVE lots of energy while utilizing this plan. Your body is not your enemy, it is your friend, and its primary concern is your survival. It will follow the instructions YOU give it, so if you haven’t been giving it the instructions it needs to utilize your long-term energy capacity, then start. Today.

*Note to readers who may not yet be on the Optimal Health Program I am describing, please e-mail me at mycoachstacy@gmail.com and I will send the guide out to you for free!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

It's Time For an Intervention...On Myself

I have decided to stage an intervention with/on myself.

Why do I need this?
What is it?
How is it accomplished?
When do I plan it?
What's next after that?

Why do I need this:

I have noticed, with glaring clarity, that I have let my healthy habits slip over the last 2 years. It was gradual at first, so much so that I allowed it to slip seemingly "unnoticed" under the radar. Then it picked up steam, and unhealthy habits crept in, ON MY WATCH!

How does this happen?

It happens gradually at first. Perhaps I let a few days go by without getting my water in. I let a few weeks go by without taking the time to exercise. I don't adjust my intake. Ergo, my body begins to respond to the new instructions I am giving it, namely, it starts storing energy again. We all know how the body stores long-term energy for a rainy day.

Then the jeans get a little tighter, but no worries, I've got a few sizes in my closet (up to a 6, and one or two 8's) so I simply graduate to the more comfortable jeans. All the while there is a voice in my head saying "well, you know exactly what to do, you can always hop on the program and drop those few pounds..."

Except, the "always" is never TODAY. THIS MOMENT. NOW.

Eventually, I can't wear many things in my closet anymore. Despair begins to creep in. Can I really do this? I keep saying I should, I keep saying I will, but another day goes by.

That ended yesterday, I went 100% back on my program not because I DON'T want to be overweight, but because I DO want to be my best, my healthiest that I can be. I KNOW what that feels like now, and I WANT IT BACK.

I am fully committed to utilizing all the tools in my toolbox to attain and maintain optimal health. What are those tools?  Well it is our program. Our WHOLE program. And our WHOLE program is not a "diet" it is not "just the food" it is not simply what I put in my mouth and when. The "Healthy Body" aspect of our program has three components:

WHAT I EAT: The Weight-loss portion (however long it takes based on my goals), then Transition (6 weeks), then Maintenance (the rest of my life). All very structured, but NOT all product dependent. The weight-loss portion and Transition IS product-dependent, because our program has dialed in on and fully harnessed the science of fat burning, so it is very effective at accomplishing this through five portion-controlled meal replacements and one healthy meal of protein and veggies that I can either cook myself or purchase fully-prepared. Transition is also product-dependent, but gradually decreases the portion-controlled meal replacements I need every day by replacing them with other food while simultaneously increasing my calories from the weight loss portion GRADUALLY in a very structured manner to reach my Maintenance calorie target-range. All of this I work closely with my health coach, who supports me, to accomplish.

WHAT I LEARN: The educational component of our plan allows me to actively learn healthy habits and learn the skills to support my new healthy lifestyle. Otherwise, this becomes just another "diet" and DIETS FAIL. I engage my mind, set goals, and establish my identity as a healthy person.

WHAT I LIVE-COMMUNITY and SUPPORT: I plug in to a like-minded community of people who are pursuing health, and seek to inspire them and be inspired by them. My health coach is always my health coach, whether I am in weight-loss mode, transition or maintenance, and the greater community supports and encourages also.

So what is all this "intervention" business? What is it?

I am not covering old ground here, I have never staged an "intervention" on myself before so I'm kind of new at this, but this is what it looks like for ME.I have decided to take a "Health Retreat" to focus on the above aspects of our program, and focus on my personal development and spiritual development. I am kidnapping myself and will begin the reprogramming and build around myself an environment of health, both outwardly and inwardly.

I am taking 11 days for this intervention. With the support of my family, who have always encouraged me to be my best, and the very real support of my health coach, I am doing this for ME. I am putting my oxygen mask on.

My days will consist of staying 100% on plan, walking, reading my Bible, reading Dr. A's Habits of Health (part of our educational/skills component), working on "Living a Longer, Healthier Life" workbook, journalling, dreaming, goal setting, and remembering who I am. I am a person who has made a fundamental decision to BE optimally healthy. For awhile there I practiced short-term amnesia and lived as if I weren't a healthy person. I am deciding. I am making my mark, drawing my line in the sand, taking responsibility, WITHOUT JUDGMENT OR CONDEMNATION of myself, and moving forward.

The first part of my retreat, 5 days, will be spent in Sedona Arizona. The second part of my retreat, 7 days, will be spent outdoors in a tent in Oceanside California. Yes, it is extreme. Yes it is exciting. Yes, it is an adventure. I may not put to rest 100% the team of rivals in my head which fight to pull me back into NOT living the life I want to live, but I will definitely be finding ways to reframe the negative chatter and lies they incessantly speak into TRUTH. This will take their power and influence over my actions AWAY. I will learn how to relegate their suggestions to white noise status, and turn down the volume on that white noise.

Of all this I am confident. I am hopeful, yes, but I am turning hope into a strategy, and turning the strategy into action.

I will be blogging DAILY during this 12-day "Health Retreat" so stay tuned for updates! My retreat begins on July 5th. In the meantime, I am DOING THE DO of the weight-loss portion of our plan, so I can enter my retreat with 2 weeks of action under my belt (or GONE from under my belt more like it!).

What is Next After That?

Life. My life. The life I have chosen, being the person I feel I am called to be. And to quote one of my inspirations, a "Daily Commitment to be Consistent."

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

One Day

Then, one day, she began.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Uber Awesome Roasted Vegetable Cauliflower Pizza ON PLAN!

3 "Lean and Green (TM)" Cauliflower Pizzas. I've taken the more traditional and widely circulated Cauliflower Pizza recipe and modified it to have less carbohydrates, which for ME works better. This would be a "Meatless Option" or Vegetarian, but you can enjoy it even if you do eat meat!
I used 2 different types of pans so you could see the different ways you can make it, but whichever way you choose make sure you divide it into 3 servings.
I like the ease of the Trader Joe's products because it means I don't need to "rice" the cauliflower myself.
1 bag (3.5 cups) Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower (found in the refrigerated bagged section of vegetables, near the "other" cauliflower).
1 bag Trader Joe's "Light" shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2/3 cup 100% Egg Whites
1 TBSP Trader Joe's Double Concentrated Tomato Paste (in squeezy tube)
1.5 cups dry-roasted sliced vegetables of your choice.
(I chose asparagus, fennel and red peppers)
Dry-roast your "other" vegetables by arranging them on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam Cooking Spray, and also give the tops of the vegetables a quick spray with Pam. Then Broil a few inches from the broiler until they are slightly cooked and blackened. Remove and let cool while you prepare the crust.
In a bowl, combine the riced cauliflower, 2/3rds of the bag of Mozzarella Cheese, and the egg whites. Mix with your hands until fully incorporated.
Spray your pans with Pam. I used a large casserole pan and a "muffin-top" pan. Spread the cauliflower mixture out evenly and as thinly as possible while still maintaining uniformity and having no gaps in coverage.
Bake at 375 for as long as it takes for it to look like the picture. Each oven is different so test it and figure out a time for your particular oven. Remove from oven and let cool enough to "flip" the crust over (so the moist side is on top now). You may need to cut it into portions for the flipping, I used a long spatula. Spread the 1 TBSP of Tomato Paste very thinly and evenly over the top, it is really just to give a little tomato flavor. Top with the rest of the Mozzarella and arrange your vegetables evenly, then return to oven and set to "Broil" until the cheese is melted and begins to bubble a little.
Remove from oven and enjoy 1/3 of the pizza for your Lean and green, let the other 2/3rds cool completely and then store in a ziplock bag in your refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
Find me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mycoachstacy
For assistance on our program e-mail: mycoachstacy@gmail.com

As Prepared above, 1 serving (1/3rd of recipe) = a full Lean and Green on our program
308 Calories
18g carbs
14g fat
31g protein
5g fiber 

Friday, April 8, 2016

A Lesson About How a "Close Enough" Mentality MAY Be Like Shooting Yourself in the Foot

One of the aspects I have to deal with both in myself and when I counsel people on the program is the thought or attitude that "Close Enough Is Good Enough."

The surprising thing is that this attitude often manifests itself in the Lean and Green Meal, and NOT in the way of OVEREATING or adding TOO much to the Lean and Green meal in terms of protein and/or vegetables, but actually in the way of NOT GETTING ENOUGH nutrition at these designated and highly regulated meals.

First let me dispel with any myths that may be out there that "it really doesn't matter, as long as I'm eating some protein and some veggies I don't need to measure anything.

I will use myself as an example, something that just happened TODAY as a matter of fact, which is why I don't want anyone to think I'm singling them out in reinforcing this message, this recommendation.

I think we all tend to do it at one point or another, and today it nearly cost me my ON PLAN DAY!

I would have THOUGHT I was "100% On Plan" with my day, but not actually BEEN 100% On Plan.

So I purchased some pre-shaped ground-beef patties from Trader Joe's and the serving size on the label said "1 patty = 4 oz"

Ok!  Good to know!  So, my mind reasoned, 1 patty was 4 ounces of ground beef.  That's "Close Enough" to 5 ounces, right?  Too much trouble to go add another 1/4 patty, "close enough is good enough" right?

So I cooked it up.  Then I weighed it out.  Guess how much that "4 oz (uncooked) patty" actually weighed AFTER it was cooked?  It weighed 2.3 ounces.  That's right, 2.3 ounces.

So, first of all, that is LESS THAN HALF of my protein requirement for my Lean and Green.  If I had not weighed the COOKED AMOUNT on a FOOD SCALE I would have never known that.  I would not have known that, in actuality, it took 2.25 fully cooked hamburger patties simply to meet my Lean and Green protein requirement.

Going through the rest of my day THINKING I was ON PLAN would have really messed with my head for several reasons.  Firstly, since I eat my Lean and Green at lunch I likely would have become CRAZY HUNGRY later on in the day, running the risk of eating off plan simply for hunger.  Secondly, even if I stuck it out and remained "on plan" (since I would think I was), my result for the week would be hugely disappointing if I were doing that every day or even a couple times per week because my body would NOT have been getting the adequate nutrition it NEEDED for this program to work the way it is supposed to work.

I could have gone to my health coach as a result (yes I have a health coach too!) and given HER the information that "YES I was 100% on plan this week and didn't lose anything", and now SHE would be trying to trouble-shoot a problem with the incorrect assumption that I had been On Plan.

The moral of this story?  Weigh your Lean portion of  your Lean and Green in the "cooked" weight, and make SURE you are adhering to the guidelines as outlined in the Quick Start Guide.  The program will not work optimally if you are NOT doing this.  The Lean and Green is the ONLY variable in this program.  Here's a tip provided for you on how to get it right so the plan will work optimally, you will lose weight, spare your lean body mass in the process, not be hungry and minimize your cravings.  WEIGH your cooked protein every day on a food scale.

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Addendum to the "Timing" Blog...the WHY Behind the HOW

In my last blog I talked nuts and bolts, about the WHAT and the HOW, and I did go into a bit of detail about the physiological reason that timing is important (promotes stable blood sugar, keeps the insulin response regulated to promote fat burning, etc), but now I wanted to delve into a bit of the PSYCHOLOGICAL reason that timing is an important Habit of Health to develop.

Most of us, when we start a new health program, begin the program firmly entrenched in a "diet" mentality.  What this means is that, basically, we aren't used to paying much attention to our own self-management and self-care, and now here comes this program which not only controls WHAT we will eat, but WHEN we should eat it.  It's easy to view this as an imposition, or a perceived deprivation of our freedoms, a "restriction" on our behavior and time.

Consequently, we can find ourselves resisting modifying our behavior to fit the plan, and instead attempt to recreate the plan in our OWN image, which, frankly, I gotta tell ya, didn't work well for me and won't work well for anyone attempting it.

How do we modify the timing to fit our unhealthy habits?  Well, we don't eat until noon.  Or we don't remember WHEN we had our first sip of actual WATER when lunch rolls around, so we try to "catch up a bit".  Or how about we simply don't think about the day, we let the day happen TO us instead of US happening on our day.  Let's face it, these neglects of taking care of ourselves is what got us to the point we needed a change in the first place, these "seemingly small" unhealthy habits, over time, have led to less-than-desired results in terms of our own health.

So we dive in to the program as we are, with an an unhealthy or "un-sick but not healthy" body and mind to match.  Now, all of a sudden, we resent the fact that we can't have "freedom" in all areas of our eating and our time.  It is a bother.  I mean, really, I HAVE to eat 5 portion-controlled meal replacements AND a weighed and measured lean and green meal, now you're telling me WHEN I HAVE to eat them?

Deprivation.  Imposition.  Restriction. Buzz-kill. Me no wanna!

So that is the "diet mentality" in a nutshell.

Part of working past his diet mentality is making a fundamental decision TOWARDS optimal health.  Making a decision that we will develop healthy habits which, when practiced and mastered over time, will allow us the freedom to live the life we want to live, healthily.  Not just "un-sick", but vibrantly healthy in as much as we are individually capable of health.

Many of us have lived many days in a state of "mindlessness" as regards our own health.  We've kind of simply lived each day and made each decision AS REGARDS OUR OWN HEALTH in a bit of an impulsive way, without much thought to the consequences.  We may be planners in every other area of our lives.  We may be spot on with obligations to other people, our careers, our children, our household, etc but insofar as our OWN self-management goes with health, we haven't really thought about it much or when we have it has always been in an "I really should do this or that or the other thing..." or "I really NEED to do this or that or the other thing..." and maybe we've tried a few things once or twice or a dozen times, but we are always left with resenting the program, the plan, and ultimately the condition of our health because we haven't made an EFFECTIVE INTENTIONAL change towards where we WANT to go.

So back to timing of the meals.  If the thought of a little pre-planning makes you cringe or you feel like it cramps your style, or you simply don't know WHY you are resisting it but you just ARE, then this is an area that I want to give you hope in.

Yes, YOU CAN develop this habit of health, this habit of mindfully fueling your body with what it needs to take you where you want to go in your health.  And don't miss this, because mastery of this seemingly small habit of health is ESSENTIAL if you hope to create optimal health in your own life.

Embrace it, enjoy it, get in to it, think of it as a puzzle or a challenge and know that YES it is POSSIBLE to bring about real change.

And, truly, it is YOU putting on your oxygen mask BEFORE you can assist those around you.

Taking 5-10 minutes at the beginning of your day to plan out what and when you intend to eat is crucial when it comes to success achieving optimal health.  When we DON'T do this, all of a sudden life gets in the way.  All of a sudden we are confused at 4:00 pm because we feel incredibly hungry and tired and brain-foggy and we wonder "Why am I feeling this way? i've been ON PLAN today!"

Have you?  Because the weight-loss portion of our plan is not simply WHAT you are eating, it is WHEN.  It is WHAT, WHEN and HOW with FOOD and it is HOW MUCH and WHEN with water.

If you pre-plan your day with your food and your water, and you set your cell alarms for your eating/drinking times, and you make sure what you need is available when you need it, then I can almost guarantee you won't get that 4:00 pm "Danger, danger, Will Rogers" time where we always feel our "willpower" has evaporated and we dive into whatever presents itself next, OFF PLAN.

Taking a few minutes in the morning to develop the healthy habit of planning your day with regards to your food/water intake, and then following the plan you developed, is vital to success not only in the weight-loss portion of our plan, but also in the Transition and Maintenance phases, because Maintenance is simply a continuation of the healthy habits we've developed, with a little more and different WHAT (food).  But really, in maintenance, it is truly only the WHAT (variety and amount of food) which is expanded.  Maintenance is simply an extension of the healthy habits we've developed in the weight-loss phase.

If we don't master this skill, maintenance is extremely difficult because we simply snap back to what we were doing before we went on the program.  We don't eat until noon.  We don't drink water until 2:00 pm after we've finished the pot of coffee we nursed all morning.  We don't TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES and our needs, because we didn't learn how to do that in the weight-loss phase of our program.

What does "mastery" look like?  Well, if it took you 1/2 hour to organize your schedule for eating/drinking water on the first day you tried it, then after a few weeks of practice and getting into the habit of doing it, it may now take you only 5 minutes.  FIVE minutes!  But it is being intentional and writing it down which is so important, you are putting your health FIRST before getting on with the rest of your day.

As Obese or Overweight individuals, we never did that before!  It is a new habit of health that will benefit us getting where we want to go!  And it IS exciting!

I overcame my initial resistance to planning my day and am now thoroughly enjoying the few minutes it takes for me to do that!  Sometimes I even do it the night BEFORE so it is set for the next day, and I LOVE how it focuses me intentionally on HEALTH each day.  When I am focused on HEALTH for even a few minutes each day, and write it down, I find I am much more likely to remain on plan for that day.  I find that what I would have previously considered a "temptation" is no longer even a temptation!  Therefore, "will-power" is not necessary, so if I run out of "will-power" at 4pm so what?  In fact, I never feel like I run out because it isn't ABOUT will-power firstly, and secondly I haven't had to white-knuckle it for most of the day and be exhausted mentally by 4pm.  The healthier choice becomes the easiest choice for me, actually, so "will-power" is not necessary because I'm not fighting against myself all day.  I am simply cruising along in my day, not noticing the bottles of red wine at the grocery store, not giving the muffins in the display case at Whole Foods a second glance, so there is no need to fight any desires to HAVE any of those things.  It truly is magical what happens when you IMPLEMENT eating on plan and on schedule, including water!

What seemed like an imposition on my freedoms at the beginning of my "diet" are now the fuel to my fire, the habits of my health. Mindfulness.  Intentionality.  Taking the time to take care of myself.  It isn't a BURDEN, it is a JOY! Rinse and Repeat.