Archive for the ‘Planning for Success’ Category

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!

Do You Suffer From F.M.S.?

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Yes, you read that correctly.

F.M.S. Not P.M.S.

F.M.S. is a syndrome, or a theme, that runs through our lives. It stands for ‘fear of missing something’.

I first heard about it at Christine Kane’s Uplevel Live Retreat.

Christine suggested we use our down time, out of the conference, to network and brainstorm with our fellow retreaters.

However, she cautioned, if we needed rest and time to regroup, we shouldn’t let our f.m.s. get in the way of taking care of ourselves.

Fear of Missing Out

Hmmm. Interesting idea.

And one of the major themes of my life.

I recognized, sheepishly, that I’m governed by the fear that I might miss something if I don’t say yes to everything.

Saying yes to everything, as you may imagine, hasn’t worked out that well.

Saying yes to food I don’t need, but that I don’t want to miss, led me to gain over 20 pounds.

Saying yes to volunteering requests that simply couldn’t fit into my calendar led me to burnout and a permanent fear of chairing committees.

Saying yes to my kids’ requests for things that didn’t feel right in my gut led to regret, and backtracking, and fights that didn’t have to be.

So how could I have identified my fear of missing something?

And how can you?

Here’s what I do now.

When faced with a choice of eating something that everyone around me is eating, when I’m not hungry, I check in with myself. Question one: am I hungry? If not, why do I want to eat this? Usually I pretty quickly get in touch with thoughts like: it looks so good, I don’t want to miss it. Bingo: I’m afraid of missing something good.

Solution: I tell myself that I won’t miss something I didn’t really want in the first place. I can have it when I want it, which is actually when my body is hungry, not my mind.

When faced with a request for my time even if the idea sounds tempting, I check in. What’s driving me to say yes, when there isn’t a blank spot in my schedule? Is this something I really want to do, or am I afraid of missing something?

Solution: I tell myself that if I WANT to say yes, something else has to go. Like too many clothes in a crowded closet, I can’t squeeze one more thing in unless something leaves. Then I make a choice.

When faced with a decision to allow my girls to do something, that I, as an enlightened parent, am tempted to give to them as an experience, I check in and ask if it will really make sense right now, or am I afraid of losing an opportunity?

Solution: I tell my girls that many opportunities are tempting. We have to practice being finicky with our choices. And so we are.

If you find that some of your choices lead you to results that don’t fit in the life you’re creating, it’s time to look more closely at those choices.

Give yourself the F.M.S. acid test.

Are you afraid of missing something?

Your time is valuable.

Your attention is valuable.

Your focus is valuable.

F.M.S. is a default choice.

Make the choices of your life from a clean place, not a default place.

What are you afraid of missing?

What Will It Take?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

What will it take to get to where you want?A while back, the Wall Street Journal had an article that caught my eye, entitled “Second Acts – What do you do for an encore?”

The article profiled four people aged 50 to 65, all of whom completely reinvented themselves at midlife.

One particular woman piqued my attention. Lisa Fisco.

Lisa is a 50 year old woman who spent the first half of her life as a television producer. She’s a single mother who worked hard to make ends meet. Eventually the struggle and stress took its toll on her health.

Her constant exhaustion and pressure triggered her to overeat, and she ended up gaining 100 extra pounds.

Lisa was a former athlete, who used to play soccer and rugby in college. And now her life and her body were almost unrecognizable to her.

So what did she do?

She didn’t join a health club.

She didn’t get a personal trainer.

Or go on a diet.

She decided to train for the Olympic weight-lifting team.

Yes, the Olympics.

As a young girl Lisa loved lifting weights with her dad, and watching the events with him during the Olympic Games.

She researched, found a coach and decided that she would do whatever it took to be in the 2012 Olympics games.

Whatever it took.

She quit her job and took a less demanding job, allowing her time to train five hours a day, five to six days a week.

To say she is committed is such an understatement.

In the process of ongoing training, Lisa lost 100 pounds, and is in the process of losing more to qualify for a lower weight class.

She must win several preliminary competitions to reach her goal of making the Olympic team. If she does, she will be the oldest Olympic weight lifter in the history of the Olympics.

And here are her words: “It’s not that life is so short; it’s just we wait so long to begin.”

And there you have it.

What are you waiting for? What do you dream about?

What have you told yourself is just too hard?

Dreams don’t die, but efforts fade and focus changes.

What will it take for you to be the person you dream of?

To finally lose the extra weight you are carrying around?

To make peace with exactly who you are?

To take steps to create the daily life you long for?

If anyone has ever done what you want to do, then you can too.

But maybe we should take some lessons from Lisa.

  1. It’s never too late to have a second act. Or a third. Or a fourth.
  2. Instead of focusing on how hard things will be, simply say, “What will it take?” and start with baby steps.
  3. Don’t keep putting off what you really want.

All we know for sure is what our reality is right now.

We don’t know what the future holds.

But you can bet that Lisa Fisco looked straight at her reality, and knew that she didn’t want more of the same in her future.

So she simply started with: What will it take?

P.S. This picture is NOT Lisa Fisco. But you get the idea.

Thin Is Not Your Goal

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Thin is not your goalIf you’re anything like my clients, you probably think you’re too fat. You think you need to lose weight.

Wow, that sounds harsh, even as I type these words.

But the truth is that in our country, at any given time, almost half the adult female population wants to lose weight.

That’s hard to imagine. So many of us are not happy with how we look, how we feel, how we are in this world.

And we think we need to be thin.

Well, being thin is not a good goal. It has nothing to do with your body, your shape and who you were meant to be in the world.

Most of us aren’t physically capable of being ‘thin’. But we hold up pictures of very skinny models as an image of what we aspire to.

Sounds like a recipe for failure. And not only failure.

Sounds like a recipe for unhappiness.

Because if we don’t take into account who we are, how our genetics play out in our lives, and what we are physically capable of, that image of ‘thin’ will always be like the carrot on the stick in front of the horse.

We never get there.

So, what do we do?

Well, if you think you have extra weight on your body that’s slowing you down, that’s increasing your risk of weight-related disease, and that’s messing with your self-image, it’s time to do something about it.

But know that your self-image can be good regardless of what the number on the scale says. It’s all about how much you love yourself. And the more you love yourself, the better you’re feeding yourself, and taking care of yourself.

Part of the quest for thin comes from comparing ourselves to others. And very likely, comparing ourselves to media images and cultural icons (think: movie star!)

This comparison habit brings us one thing, and it’s not ‘thin’… it’s pain.

The only person we should be comparing ourselves to is us. And even that is dicey. Because comparing yourself to you of ten years ago is fruitless. You’re not the same person you were, and your body is not usually capable of what it was ten years ago.

The key is to think ‘what’s my personal best?’

What’s the right weight for my body, this body, this frame, and these genetics?

What weight will make me healthier, and give me more energy, and allow me to move around easier?

It’s not ‘thin’.

Thin is a place you never get to.

Do yourself a favor.

Be healthier. Eat from hunger. Eat good stuff.

Make those your goals.

Not thin.

Shape Your Life, Shape Your Body

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

shape your life to-do listAll of my weight loss clients are intelligent.

They have full, demanding lives.

Lots of relationships.

Many, many things on their ‘to do’ lists.

And, of course, there’s that annoying issue of carrying some extra weight on their bodies.

Sometimes it’s just 10 or 15 pounds.

Sometimes it’s a lot more.

Life moves along. Urgent things get done. Some things don’t.

Some things stay on the list forever.

  • Like taking care of yourself (what does that even mean to you?)
  • Like planning your meals so you actually have what you need in the house.
  • Like making time to stop and check in with yourself before you eat. Are you hungry?

When we create the habit of taking care of the loud demands, and putting off what’s not urgent, eventually even those quiet whispers get loud.

Your 10 pounds turn into 30.

You can’t find your gym shoes under the piles in your closet.

Your fridge is full but everything is past its expiration date.

The last time you had a physical was 2002.

When we procrastinate taking care of our lives, there will be a price to pay.

We sacrifice living the true, beautiful life we were meant to live, in the body we were meant to have.

We’re not happy. And we think the big problem is our weight.

Here’s the story: When we let things pile up, everything suffers. Long lists of things to do sometimes lead us to stressful thoughts. It becomes harder and harder to focus on the present moment because of all the things we’ve put off. They’re lurking.

So, how can you expect to eat well and listen to your body with all that psychic noise?

You can’t.

In order to reshape your body, the first step is to reshape your life.

This year, the focus of much of my coaching and writing will be about creating the life you want, getting what’s most important to you done, and taking care of yourself.

So, right now, even though you may want to lose some extra pounds, I invite you to take a different approach. Take a look at your life and really face all that you’ve been avoiding. And pick one small thing that you can take care of.

Now cut that thing in half.

And in half again.

Until it is so tiny a step, that success is visible.

And, as you get things in order and create loving and sustainable habits, you will wake up and feel lighter.

Mentally.

Emotionally.

Physically.

I will come back to this subject many times this year. Look for worksheets and all kinds of tools to help you navigate through this process. Because when you focus your attention on cleaning up and reshaping your life, reshaping your body will be a cinch.

xoxo,
Cookie

Who’s Your Role Model?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

role modelI recently saw an ad for the drug Singulair. The tag line caught my eye. It said, “Someone who’s got what you’ve got is out doing what you’re not.” The model in the ad was exercising. The ad was for a drug for treating asthma.

But it made me think.

Every week, my clients and I set ‘weekly intentions’. These are things they want to focus on for the week. Things they want to achieve.

Sometimes they do.

  • They take that walk.
  • They wait to be hungry to eat.
  • They say what they feel instead of stuffing down that brownie.

But sometimes, they are full of reasons why they didn’t make it happen. Why they didn’t do what will give them what they really want.

Yet, for every reason (or excuse) they come up with, there is someone out there who is doing what my clients WANT to do.

Someone who is saying no.

Someone who is making herself a priority.

Someone who is planning ahead.

So, how can you get yourself to do what you know you want to do?

First, find a good role model.

Not the friend you can call who will bring over burgers and fries when things don’t go as planned.

Not the co-worker who needs to take a day off when anyone criticizes her work.

Pick someone who is doing what you WANT to be doing.

Study them.

Be aware: this is different from picking a celebrity and wanting to have her face or body.

This is picking a regular, everyday person, who lives a life similar to you, but who somehow manages to do what you don’t.

Because if anyone can do what you are trying to do, then you can too.

Absolutely.

So stop looking at people who are struggling.

Look at people who are just a few steps ahead of you.

You can do this.

It’s a Miracle!

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

miracle

Why do you want to lose weight?

There are about a million surface reasons why most of us want to lose weight. Deep down, it comes to wanting to feel good about ourselves.

But in the heat of the moment, when you’re staring down a piece of cherry pie (my personal favorite) and you’re not hungry, it helps to have a really strong ‘why’.

How do you want to feel when you’re at your ideal weight?

Proud… confident… empowered?

How will you walk? How will you carry yourself? What will be different about you, besides your size? How will the people in your life treat you? How will you treat yourself?

Now, picture yourself waking up one day. While you were sleeping, a miracle happened. Your body is at its comfortable, natural weight.

Visualize yourself going through your day.

What would you eat for breakfast? Why? Would choosing this food feel difficult or effortless?

Do you exercise?

How does it feel to be in this new body? See yourself getting dressed. Picture it in detail. Go through your whole day, imagining all your actions and interactions, your thoughts, your feelings.

Notice how good you feel.

Now, come back to the present.

Everything in the miracle you just imagined can start right now.

Because all the good feelings you just had… came from your thoughts.

So, if you can imagine those feelings in your daydream, you have the ability to create them right now.

And the better you feel right now, the easier it will be to take actions that will lead you to your natural weight.

Take a hint from how elite athletes prepare for a competition: envision yourself at your goal weight–not just how you will look and what you will wear, but more importantly, how you will feel.

Choose these feelings for yourself now.

You’ll be amazed at how much easier weight loss will be.

The 3 Top Things to Work on to Make Weight Loss Easier

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Self care to make weight loss easierIf you’ve spent any time listening to my iTunes podcast, Weight Loss Made Real, you know that I look at the work I do with my private clients as divided into three main areas to make weight loss easier. I talk about this in Episode #4.

There are lots of things to work on, but these three main areas come up all the time, and smaller issues fit into one of them.

These three areas to make weight loss easier are Your Body, Your Mind, and Your Self-Care.

Your body includes how you eat. What you eat. When you eat and of course, when you stop eating. But it also includes how you take care of your physical body. Getting checkups when you need to. Taking care of your teeth. And getting enough sleep and rest.

We tend to take these things for granted. But these things are truly foundational for our whole life. So paying attention to them would definitely benefit you and make weight loss easier.

Your mind includes how you think and feel, because those things affect what you do, how you go through life. How you think and feel determines whether you find life a struggle, or an easy flow. Most of us certainly would prefer the flow, but aren’t aware that it’s in our realm of control to create our flow by the way we think.

And in the self-care area, so many things make a huge difference in our daily existence! They all come under the heading of what we need to be happy. Do you even know what those ingredients are for you?

Sometimes as adults we just react to our lives. We forget that we can play a very active role in creating what we want. We don’t need to be passive.

And how we care for ourselves is a giant factor in our results… what our life looks like right now.

When we think of self-care, lots of us women think our main options are taking a bubble bath and lighting some candles.

But that’s just one thing on a menu of self-care that is personalized just for you.

It’s something you need to plan ahead. And have many options to pick from. And those options are all different.

Some things you’ll want to do alone, like take a nature walk outside. Or give yourself a comfy, cozy cup of tea and a nap.

Some things will involve other people, like that friend who’s always there to listen to you when you’re trying to solve a problem. Or go shopping.

And some things require advance planning, like a weekend away. Or a night out that calls for a babysitter.

Consider creating your own self-care menu. Think about what you do right now to take care of yourself. What’s missing? What would you love to be doing? And how can you make giving yourself some of these things on a regular basis, just part of what you do to take care of you.

I know for sure that when you take care of your body’s needs, and you manage your mind, you’ll be living quite a different life from what you are now doing.

And, if you add in the third type of focus, your self-care, it will feel like the final loving touch you’ve been missing.