Archive for the ‘Planning for Success’ Category

Taking a Leap of Faith

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Dear Cookie,

I start my day with the best intentions:

  • I will stick to my eating plan today.
  • I will do a workout early in the day.
  • I will drink lots of water today.

But then, something happens that throws me off course.

And I don’t do anything that I planned!

I’m so frustrated with myself and even worse, I am beginning to lose hope that I can EVER get to my natural weight.

What’s wrong with me?

C.S., Brooklyn, NY

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Taking a leap of faithDear C.S.,

There is NOTHING wrong with you.

At all.

Read those words again.

And try to relax.

Here’s the deal:

When we’re trying to create new habits, and at the same time get rid of habits we’re not happy with, we all tend to do what you’ve done. That is, make a list, get excited and plunge in.

The first problem with your scenario is that you are trying to change too many things at once:

Your eating.

Your workout.

And even your water intake.

So for starters, pick one.

(Yes, I know you want to do all three yesterday. Still, pick one.)

It’s far easier to put your focus on one desired action than on three.

Pick one and write out your intentions of what you want to do in the morning.

Then choose a way to remind yourself several times during the day to focus your attention on the new habit you want to cultivate.

Most of my clients either set the alarm function on their phones or on their computers to ring or vibrate at different intervals. This wakes you up and reminds you that you want to focus on your goal. There are also small, inexpensive timers… I use one called Gymboss.

Now, another thing I see you doing is a common mistake.

You’re focusing on the action you want to change, for example, you want to drink more water during the day.

Drinking the water is an action.

But what creates that action is the thought you think right before you do it.

So you need to wake yourself up (figuratively) and then program your mind with a thought that will make drinking the water easier.

Some examples of thoughts for this goal are:

  • Drinking lots of water during the day gives me energy.
  • I feel great when I get enough water.

I’d like to leave you with one more thought and that’s about losing faith in yourself.

If anyone in the world has done or is doing what you want to do, then you know it’s possible.

And if you create the right scenario, with supportive thoughts, and set up your environment for success, then there’s no reason that you, too, won’t succeed.

Think of the things you’ve accomplished in your life that took practice, and didn’t necessarily come easily.

Draw on these memories for strength and resolve. Have faith in yourself.

Then relax and focus on your goal.

You’ll do it.

Take that first leap of faith.

Why The No Hurry Approach To Weight Loss Works

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

the no hurry approachWhen it comes to achieving our goals, no matter what the goal, we all have one thing in common:

We want it now.

As in today.

Or even yesterday.

Why do we expect everything to happen so fast?

Well, we do live in a pretty speedy world.

  • Instant chats.
  • Faxes.
  • Emails.
  • Overnight express.
  • Microwaved food.
  • Express dating.

We have a drive thru for everything… meals, banking, oil changes, even dry cleaning.

In our life today it’s more outside of the norm to do anything slowly. We hurry from one thing to the next.

Consciously.

Deliberately.

And when it comes to food, eating and our bodies, we want to make changes that have instant results.

Want to change a habit?

Bingo! That shouldn’t take long, should it?

Sometimes we think that if we want change and are clear about what we want, and know why we want it, well then, it should happen immediately.

Real change can be quick.

As in an ‘aha’ moment.

An awakening.

A sudden shift in your perspective.

But for change to be lasting and deep, you have to practice it.

You have to create new pathways in your brain.

You have to set a new default for how you think.

And this takes time.

When you are trying to lose weight, you are looking for a physical change.

But that physical change needs to start on the inside.

So your thoughts, your deep beliefs and your feelings need to change.

Only then will it become easy to take the actions that will lead to weight loss.

Pounds of fat coming off your body are the results you want.

And this result is the last thing to show up, when you are making changes from the inside out.

So if you are looking for fast results, you are planting the seeds of failure.

You will be disappointed easily and give up on yourself.

This happens with some of my clients.

They start making small changes and start to move in the right direction. But very quickly they become impatient and fall off track. Their desire for fast results derails them.

So what’s a good way to think about time when you’re trying to lose weight or get fit?

  • There is no hurry.
  • Feeling pressured and rushed won’t allow you to be thoughtful and aware of what you are doing.
  • Tiny changes work.
  • Consistency works.
  • Time has a way of bringing together small efforts and repetition and multiplies their effects.

So instead of going the quick fix route, instead of looking for the magic pill, look to see what small, sustainable changes you can make.

Your results will be huge.

Be patient. Don’t hurry.

It will come.

Where Will You Be In Your Future?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Woman gazing at futureCoaches often use future focused tools to help their clients envision how they’ll feel when they reach their life goals. These goals could be career goals, relationship goals, money goals or health and fitness goals.

Just about anything.

These tools focus on your ‘end game’. How will you feel when you reach these goals? Exactly what will your life look like when you get where you want to go?

The theory is if you can identify how you will feel when you lose weight or get out of debt, you can create that feeling right now in your life. And this will make reaching your goal much easier.

I’ve done it myself, and many of my clients do it all the time. It works.

But, in the heat of the moment when you’re facing down an unplanned purchase on an already maxed-out Visa, or a double fudge chocolate cupcake on an already maxed-out full tummy, the vision of your end game is harder to conjure up.

It seems that in the moment, the temptation of the food or the sale feel stronger and more tempting than your vision of your possible future.

So here’s what I do:

Start asking yourself what the consequence will be for you if you buy this, or eat this, and keep doing that for the next five years.

  • How will you feel?
  • What will you weigh?
  • What will your Visa bill look like?
  • Will you feel healthy and fit and energetic?
  • Will you have saved enough to buy your dream house or start your business?
  • Will you have the relationship you want?

In other words, if you keep doing what you are doing now, stop for a moment and really think about the road you are traveling on.

Where will this road lead?

If you don’t make a U-turn, are you okay with where you will end up?

If not, then use that vision of the future you DON’T want to spur you into action: put down that cupcake, put on your gym shoes, stop spending money you don’t really have and get away from that reality show.

Sometimes, knowing what’s ahead of you and what you don’t want can be a stronger motivator than the vision of what you do want.

What Does Your Extra Weight Look Like?

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

extra weightWhen you’re carrying some extra weight on your body, it’s easy to get used to it. You develop coping mechanisms that allow you to function without being painfully aware of what’s bothering you every minute of the day.

Of course, at certain times you’re more aware of it than usual.

  • Like when you’re shopping for clothes and looking in the dressing room mirror.
  • Or when you’re worried about fitting into an airplane seat without spilling over into your neighbor’s seat.
  • Or when you get winded going up a simple flight of stairs.

But on an everyday basis, if you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, you may not be aware of what you are literally carrying around all the time.

I think it’s good to give yourself a wakeup call. And become sensitive to what it means to have an extra 10 or 30 or 75 pounds on your body.

Look around your house or go to the grocery store and pick out some items that weigh close to the same amount of weight you’d like to lose.

Think of a bag of kitty litter… pick up that 10 or 20 pound bag to see what it feels like.

Look at four sticks of butter, a mere pound. Picture yourself having 40 of those sticks, 10 pounds, stuffed into your pockets all day long.

I’m no wimp but the bags my dog’s food comes in, 25 pounds each, are heavy to lug into my car trunk.

Now, visualize that all day, every day you have extra weight on your body, you are ‘carrying’ something extra with you all the time. Day and night. Up and down the stairs. In all your social interactions. At work.

It’s extra.

You don’t need it.

Physically, things would be easier if you dropped your extra load.

Left it by the curb.

Let go of what was slowing you down and not adding to your life.

Carrying around extra weight all day every day packs a big cost.

Are you willing to keep paying?

This week, I challenge you to look and find some physical equivalent of the weight you’d like to lose.

And put it in front of you.

Carry it around for a period of time.

Become very aware of what that extra weight feels like on your body, and how good it feels to put it down.

Conversely, as you begin to release your body’s extra weight, it helps to look at the physical equivalent of what you’ve lost, to remind yourself of what you are no longer carrying around.

And how much better you feel.

Sometimes we all need a reminder of what we get used to.

We stop seeing it.

We can’t feel it.

Making it physical makes it real again.

And that helps us have the motivation to do something about it.

When Does Fun-Size Candy Stop Being Fun?

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Fun-sized candy barWhen Halloween is over, what happenings with all that leftover candy in your house?

Are your fun-size treats still fun?

Or are you paying too high a price for all the fun you’ve had?

Halloween is a great holiday.

The costumes.

The decorations.

And yes, the candy.

Many of my clients start thinking about the candy to come in early September.

Imagine, a nationally-sanctioned holiday that encourages you to have gobs of sugary treats on hand.

And how convenient that the food industry came up with the adorable ‘fun-size’ for candy!

So, how many pieces of fun-size candy can you have before it stops being fun?

It’s like all other pleasures.

There’s a tipping point.

Too little, and we tell ourselves we’re deprived.

Life isn’t fair!

Poor us!

Too much and we cross over into the land of shame, regret and self-flagellation.

What’s the answer?

How do you find that middle ground where pleasure is pleasurable, not painful?

Let’s start right now.

Look at your leftover treats.

Weed out what you don’t really love.

Toss it or give it away. Today.

Now take a look at what’s left and decide what’s really worth eating.

You are an adult.

Of course you can give yourself some candy.

But you need to decide what, when and how much to have.

Put the candy that’s left away so you’re not fantasizing about it all day.

And when you decide you’d like a little treat, indulge.

Enjoy.

Taste.

Savor.

And then move on.

It will be there waiting for you until your next treat time.

What you’ve just done is SO smart!

You’ve taken charge.

You’ve made a decision.

You’ve enjoyed.

You’ve stayed in the pleasure zone.

No more guilt, shame or pain for you.

It just doesn’t taste good.

And it’s certainly not fun.

No Time To Lose Weight?

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Woman consulting her time plannerAre you constantly telling yourself that you don’t have enough time?

  • To exercise?
  • To plan your week?
  • To take care of your body?
  • To see your friends?
  • To be alone?

As you know, we all have the same number of hours in a week. Yet some of us accomplish all kinds of things that move us closer to our goals, and some of us don’t.

The answer may be to grab hold of the time you have and choose how you’d like to spend it. Don’t let life just flow around you unless you are perfectly happy with where it’s taking you.

Being a natural planner, I just love to stand back and look at my time and my ‘to do’ list and figure out how they can meet up.

But many people don’t want to think about what’s coming next. They hide behind the thoughts that they have no control of their life, of what’s coming, and of how they got where they are.

It also stands to reason that if you’re always thinking you don’t have enough time to do what you’d like to do, you’re probably also thinking that now isn’t a good time to get things done.

  • Like lose weight.
  • Like change jobs.
  • Like really look at your relationships.

This is your wake up call.

Now IS the time.

Now is when to make changes, to make different choices, to take responsibility, to act.

I know that our time on earth is relatively short.

If we don’t stand back and get some big picture perspective, we can trick ourselves into believing that we have a huge future rolling out in front of us.

Maybe we do.

But maybe we don’t.

We just don’t know.

So stop putting off anything you care about.

Don’t worry about how hard something may be.

You can get help.

You can do research.

You can do a lot of things that would surprise you.

But seize the moment.

You have time right now.

Do something.

Vacations and Parties and Travel, Oh My!

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Do you do well managing your eating and self-care Monday through Friday, but get thrown for a loop on special occasions and vacations?

vacations

Many of us lead full, busy lives filled with restaurant meals, big events and some vacations. Our lives are literally filled with special occasions.

To manage their everyday life, my clients develop a plan for eating, taking care of themselves, for movement, even for how to think to get their best feelings.

Yet sometimes, they’ll feel stress about how to handle an upcoming business trip, or the snacks at church after services, a big wedding or a dream vacation.

Their stress comes from telling themselves: This isn’t normal.

It’s not my 9 to 5 routine.

I won’t be able to handle this without losing control.

How can I maintain my eating plan if I go on this cruise?

Here’s the deal:

It is normal.

It’s a different version of normal.

Just like the weekend is a different version of the workweek.

If you are lucky enough to have a full life with lots of events and occasions and celebrations, don’t put down your fork.

But do put down your fear.

These events are special but don’t have to be difficult.

They are just variations.

So embrace them.

Anticipate them.

Plan for them.

And while you certainly want to enjoy them, you want to be guided by your own internal thermostat.

Your own internal rules.

One of my clients calls it her own GPS system.

So no matter where you are and who is offering you the taste delight of a lifetime, you always check in with your own inner wisdom first.

This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy a special food treat at an event.

It just means that you should treat it like you’d treat any other decision you make for yourself.

  • Am I hungry?
  • Is this a worthy choice for me?
  • Will I feel better or worse after I eat this?

You get to decide.

So enjoy your full, busy and very social life.

Enjoy its irregularities and its contrast from every day to special.

But know that the special events are also just another part of your life.

And you always get to choose how you want to be in every situation you encounter.

So don’t panic.

Enjoy!

Have You Plateaued?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

plateauThe dictionary defines plateau as: to reach a state of little or no growth or decline, to stop increasing or progressing, or to remain at a stable level of achievement.

To many of my clients, the word plateau is a dreaded word.

It implies lack of movement, specifically movement towards their most desired goal… weight loss.

In your career, you might look at the level you’ve reached in your organization, wanting to move up and feeling stymied where you are.

In a relationship, a love relationship, think of the woman who believes all things should keep moving forward.

Toward marriage.

And perhaps her partner is happy to stay where he is.

When this stability happens, and we’re not where we envision ending up, we brainstorm and plan to ‘attack’ this plateau… bust through it, conquer it, and FORCE some movement.

But what if a plateau was a good thing?

What if a plateau was a gift?

Why not look at this lack of movement as a chance to regroup, to assess where you are, and to review where you want to go?

And just be there.

In the plateau.

Maybe it’s a time to get used to the movement you’ve already made.

Maybe it’s a time to breathe in your progress so far.

To make it a part of you.

Your new normal.

And from this new normal, more change may be possible.

I think, when you’re making changes and growing, whether it’s your body or your relationships, you make these changes in steps.

And when you plateau, you’ve reached a step.

Instead of panicking and beating yourself forward, stop.

Just stop and be where you are.

From this point, from this peaceful place, you can decide.

To change your actions.

To think differently about your goals.

Maybe even to change your goals.

Maybe you will decide to keep moving forward.

Maybe not.

The plateau is the universe’s way of saying to us, “Pause. You’re at this stage of your evolution. Take it in. Then you can decide.”

Can’t Get Started?

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Swimmers get startedSometimes, the hardest part of getting where you want to go isn’t staying on the path and it isn’t finishing. It’s how to get started.

When I work with private clients, we frequently make a weekly plan of action to get them started on their weight loss journey. This plan might cover areas like eating, movement, mindset, self-care and overcoming any upcoming challenges. Together, we set goals in these areas.

Often my clients will come back the following week with some of their goals accomplished.

Of course, this is good.

Other times, my clients will return to our next session with none of their goals accomplished. They report feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and unable to make any movement at all.

This too, is good.

How can that be?

When you find yourself unable to do what you know you want to do, it could mean several things.

It could mean that you have made your steps too big.

Like trying to go from eating MacDonald’s daily to eating only organic vegan.

While that example seems obvious, many of us set the bar too high, too fast when trying to accomplish anything. We think about what seems reasonable to do and we disregard where we are starting from.

That leads to overwhelm.

And overwhelm leads to inaction.

Being unable to get started can also be looked at as your own personal barometer.

You might even consider it a blessing!

Although it may feel frustrating when you can’t get started on something you want to do, it may be because you have conflicting beliefs about what you are attempting.

When you want to change a habit, think about what you believe about your current habit.

If your main belief about changing that habit is that it’s really hard, and because you’ve never done it before it’s not likely you will succeed, then you will unconsciously work to prove yourself right.

But what’s great about this roadblock is that it gives you a chance to unearth those beliefs that prevent you from getting started, and gives you the opportunity to replace them with beliefs that will help you.

Another possibility that might hold you back from getting started on something that you really want is the payoff you are getting from NOT changing the old habit.

Yes, even with some behavior you really want to change, and are so mad and frustrated with yourself for doing, there’s something you’re getting out of it.

For example, if your goal is to plan your meals and shop so you have what you need in the house when you need it, when you don’t plan and shop, the payoff might be: 1) you get to spend that time doing something else, 2) you get to eat like you have been, without really thinking, or 3) you get to avoid confronting yourself and seeing what comes up when you do something new and uncomfortable.

If you can’t get started on something that you really want, think about these questions:

  • Why do you want this?
  • Is this reason really compelling?
  • How will it make you feel if you can achieve this goal?
  • Does it feel right in your gut?
  • Have you broken your steps down into small enough bites?
  • What beliefs might be holding you back?

Now, take the tiniest, baby step.

That step might be so small that you don’t think it’s worth mentioning.

But it is.

And all those baby steps will add up.

Right now, I hear some mumbling about how long things will take with these tiny baby steps.

Time will pass at the same rate, whether you take these steps or not. But if you do, you will inevitably get where you want to go.

Take one step today.

It’s Time To Wake Up!

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

wake upA while ago I went on my first college visit with my oldest daughter Sara.

Since I attended a city college in New York, this campus visit was a first in many ways. I had never lived in a dorm, nor had I gone through the process of visiting and choosing a school.

I had both my girls later in life, so I am, ahem, an older parent. I know this. I’ve always known this. But it didn’t hit home until I found myself walking on the campus and being surrounded by hordes of young people.

The atmosphere was electrifying.

Everywhere, people were walking purposefully to class, to study, to the library, to meet friends…and all seemed full of energy.

I was suddenly confronted with several significant facts.

My daughter, who, it seems, was only recently a baby, was now applying to colleges and going on job interviews.

Where did the time go?

And somehow, in the process of her rapid advance towards young adulthood, somehow, I had aged. Greatly.

I’ll give you an example.

While Sara was on a campus tour with a friend’s daughter, my husband, I and our younger daughter Sophia went into Urban Outfitters to browse around.

Spying a straw hat, which I thought was perfect for our upcoming spring break, I slipped into an aisle with a mirror, popped on the hat, and for further effect, put on my sunglasses.

As I studied myself in the mirror, thinking, ‘Not bad!’, I sensed someone watching me. I turned my head and found Sophia, my other teen daughter, staring at me.

The look on her face can only be described as “I DON’T KNOW YOU!” Her embarrassment made me laugh. Maybe a little too hysterically.

I didn’t belong.

I didn’t fit into this youthful crowd, in this youthful store, filled with merchandise meant for teens and twenty-somethings.

I could handle that.

I bought the hat anyway.

But for the rest of the day, I felt a strange stirring.

An awakening.

That old cliché about time moving quickly… it was true.

How did I get to be an upcoming empty-nester so quickly? I can honestly remember playing Barney songs in the car!

I still haven’t formed a movie group, gone to New Mexico, taken dance lessons, or become a more adventurous cook. Where did all the time go?

The young people around me walked with purpose. They had the excitement of unlimited futures in front of them.

How had I gone into the trance of life? And was there time to wake up?

Yes!

I took the brief envy I felt and turned it into a wakeup call.

Until the day I no longer wake up, there will always be time.

Every day, I want to remember that today counts.

Every moment counts. Every decision.

I don’t want to fritter away what I have left.

I want to wake up!