Archive for the ‘Habits’ Category

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.

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

How Do You Tell Your Story?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

my story concept on small blackboard

As a coach who specializes in helping women put an end to emotional eating, I’ve heard a lot of stories:

  • I’ve been overeating because this was a hard year for me; my husband lost his job.
  • My kids were sick a lot and I couldn’t stay away from sweets.
  • I didn’t connect with the man of my dreams this year, so I became really close with my friends, Ben and Jerry.

And on, and on…..

No one said life was easy.

In fact, my colleague Linda Spangle wrote a book called “Life is Hard, Food is Easy”.

But the way most of us look at things is that life is hard, and food is hard, too.

The fact is that even for the most blessed person, life gives us curve balls.

That’s true for everyone.

But it’s what we focus on and how we tell our story that colors our world. It even determines our weight.

It’s pretty common knowledge that whatever we focus on is what we get more of.

So, if we focus on this year’s difficulties, we’ll go through life with heaviness in our hearts.

If we focus on how hard it is to lose weight, and keep it off, and all the REALLY strong excuses we have, I can guarantee you that it will be hard.  For sure.

And if you tell yourself that when things get tough, you need sugar, or bread, or ice cream, when you aren’t even hungry, then you’re setting things up so that you will automatically strengthen those habits.

So, what’s the answer?

If you overeat when life seems hard, and you tell yourself that life is always hard, what can you do?

Here goes:

You focus on the bright spots.

  • What are you doing well, in any area of your life?
  • What nice things has someone done for you recently?
  • What can you be grateful for?
  • What tiny bits of good fortune did come your way?

And here’s a bonus question I love: What are you doing that has prevented you from weighing 20 pounds more than you do? (Hint: you are doing SOME things right.)

Look at this past year and name these bright spots.

Think about them. Focus on them.

And now focus on your eating with these thoughts in mind.

Create your new story.

There are things you do well.

There are things that are going your way.

There are things you can be grateful for.

Suddenly, your new story will feel good and natural and you will start getting different results.

And finally, remember this: if anyone can learn to eat from hunger, instead of from emotions, and can stop when they aren’t hungry anymore, then you can too.

Why I Feel Sorry For Rob Kardashian

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Rob Kardashian diabetesIn my inbox today was a link to an article from the New York Post entitled: Why Rob Kardashian is a health warning to his generation.

It seems that Rob, at age 28, with about 100 extra pounds on his body, has now been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

And the media is buzzing with the news, blaming his medical condition on his weight.

We aren’t privy to the details of Rob’s health, and although extra weight is known to be a risk factor for diabetes, we don’t know for sure that there’s a connection.

But that’s not what bothers me and creates the sympathy I have for Rob Kardashian.

When we aren’t great managers of our minds, we tend to react to thoughts that flow through us. Some thoughts we just ignore or don’t even notice, and some thoughts we latch onto and blow up.

These thoughts, if painful to us, cause some of us to escape them. And we may escape them in different ways. It might be with food, known as emotional eating. It might be with overspending. Or gambling. Or drugs or alcohol.

Growing up we aren’t taught to manage our minds, and most of you may never have even heard the term. But if we don’t manage our minds, and food is our ‘feel better quick’ drug of choice, we will go to food when we’re upset, or stressed, or even happy. And the result is extra weight.

I’m guessing that with a family as in the spotlight as Rob’s family, there must be a certain amount of pressure to fit the mold of the beautiful, wealthy and famous Kardashians. And if Rob had difficulty fitting this popular cultural mold, I can imagine that food may have become his feel-better drug of choice.

I’m guessing.

And if this is true, then not only has Rob had to deal with the Kardashian effect of living his life in the public eye, but as his weight grew, he also was living his struggle in the public eye.

When you’re a smoker, or a shopper, or a sex addict, in a sense, your struggle is somewhat private. The world can look at you and not know what’s going on inside.

But when you use food to numb out your feelings, and the result is extra weight, the whole world knows. And your struggle becomes part of the public domain.

If you’ve ever struggled with emotional eating or habitual overeating, chances are you are wearing the results of your coping mechanism on your body.

But it’s really a private matter.

You are dealing with it, or not, in your own way. You don’t have to discuss it, refute it, or comment on it. Except maybe to your mother on Thanksgiving.

And that’s how it should be. It’s a private struggle, and if and when you decide to deal with it, that is your choice. But in the meantime, the world shouldn’t be voting and weighing in and discussing your issues in the newspaper and on social media.

So let’s give Rob Kardashian a break. Let’s leave him to deal with his struggle in peace.

And of course, give that same gift to yourself. The world doesn’t get an opinion on your weight.

Why it’s Okay to Say No to Yourself

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

say ‘no’As adults living in the free world, we somehow have gotten the idea that we should never have to say ‘no’ to ourselves.

We believe we shouldn’t have to deny ourselves anything.

Anything to eat. To buy. To do.

Even if doing these things hurt us in the long run.

In the moment of choice, we mistakenly think that we deserve to have whatever we want.

We tell ourselves that we will feel deprived if we say no. To anything.

And so we create a life of giving in to whatever we desire in the moment. We honor all of our urges, cravings and wants.

When we do this, we create the equivalent of a spoiled brat. And that spoiled brat is us.

We know that giving a child whatever she wants, whenever she wants it, isn’t helpful to her in the long term.

But sometimes we want to avoid conflict and so we cave. We give in.

But if we are responsible adults, sometimes we need to face the discomfort of being the tough parent and saying ‘no’.

This is exactly what we need to do for ourselves. Yes, life is abundant and there’s a lot to tempt us. Yes, we should embrace all the choices in front of us and accept many of the gifts we are offered.

But if we say yes all the time to whatever we want, when we want it, we aren’t doing ourselves a favor.

We are creating a future filled with results we may not want. And an adult version of a spoiled child.

When we say no to ourselves, we say yes to possibilities.

When we say no to eating something just because it looks good when we’re not hungry, we are saying yes to listening to our body.

When we say no to following an urge to binge, we are saying yes to a much higher version of ourselves, who is free from the chains of binge eating.

When we say no to overdrinking and staying up too late, we say yes to a body that is cared for and ready for all that life has to offer.

What do you want to say no to… that will ultimately be a true yes for you?

What Do You Need To Subtract To Lose Weight?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

subtractMost of the clients I work with have a strong drive to either lose weight or get their eating to be more peaceful.

They all have desires and goals.

And, most of them know what steps they have to take to reach these goals.

Frequently, in working toward our desires, we put all of our focus on what steps to take.

But just as frequently, what we don’t do is as important as or even more important than what we do.

Continually adding more things into your day or week is like shopping for new clothes when your closet is stuffed to the max.

Your closet has no room, right?

When you say yes a few times too often, your schedule has no room for introspection, planning or evaluating how you’re doing.

Here’s an example:

You want to lose weight.

You have a plan.

But you consistently overschedule yourself.

So you have no time to breathe and focus on your weight loss project.

Your subtraction solution might look like this: stop saying yes to everything while you pause and truly assess not only whether you want to say yes to this opportunity, but to see if you have the time to spare.

If you subtract your ‘saying yes to everything habit’ from your life, then you will have time to spend 15 minutes a day reviewing your plan, tweaking it, and getting feedback on how you are doing.

We forget that we are in charge of us.

Running our lives by saying yes to everything puts us on autopilot and our desires never get fulfilled.

The reality is that we always get to decide what we allow in, who we are close to, what we agree to, and what we take a pass on.

So, before you say ‘yes’ automatically to the next invitation or opportunity that comes your way, pause.

See if you truly have the space for it.

See if it still allows you to focus on what is most important.

Do you need to subtract something before you add something new?

Then, make the call.

You are the CEO of you.

It’s always your choice.

The Middle Ground Between Obsession and ‘Whatever’

Friday, December 4th, 2015

obsessionWhen you’re trying to accomplish something, something new or challenging, you need to find a way to look at what you’re doing.

You need to find a way to guide yourself toward what you want. Or, you may find yourself totally off track. And wake up, weeks, months or years later, not quite sure how you got where you are.

This happens a lot in weight loss. When we fall ‘off the wagon’, and lose our way, often we don’t get back up for a long time.

Times passes and suddenly we have a body we don’t recognize. How did this happen, we ask.

A lot of my clients complain that it’s hard to stay focused. It’s hard, in their eyes, to devote time every day think about what they want. They say they don’t want to feel obsession with weight loss. Or eating well. Or taking care of themselves.

And so after some initial excitement, they default to their usual way of thinking. Which is, ‘Whatever!’

There’s a lot of ground in between obsessing every day about your goals. And doing nothing.

You need to find that sweet spot where you keep your focus in front of you, yet don’t feel desperate obsession about achieving it.

I call this keeping your goal on the front burner. On the front burner of your mind, that is.

If what you want is out of sight, then frequently it’s out of mind. If you want something, accept that it needs to be a part of your life. Regularly.

That’s how we create habits, and don’t have to work so hard for what we want.

Do you know where your goals are? Are they out of sight, out of mind? Or are they glued to your forehead?

You get to create a livable way to stay focused. And stay accountable. To yourself.

The 3 Main Reasons It’s Hard To Stop Eating

Friday, November 6th, 2015

stop eatingAt this point, we mostly all know that naturally slim women eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’ve had enough.

Simple, right? Waiting for hunger is the easier of the two parts of this equation. And for most of us, stopping is quite a bit harder.

There are three main reasons why it’s hard to stop.

If you can look them in the eye, and identify them when they show up, you’ll know what to do so you CAN stop eating when you’ve had enough.

First, many of us disconnect from ourselves when we’re eating and go on autopilot.  We go through the motions of hand to mouth without much conscious thought.

We may have been hungry when we started eating, but who knows what we feel now? We’ve stopped paying attention and just keep eating.

Solution: Stay connected to how you’re feeling all the way through the meal. Pause and check in. Are you hungry? Keep checking and stop when you’re not.

Second, when we notice our bodies have had enough food for the moment, some thoughts may flit through our minds. Quite innocent-seeming, they lead us to keep on eating.

Thoughts like: Mmmm, this is delicious! I can’t stop. Or: Wow, this is so good! I need to finish this. Or: OMG, this is unbelievable! I’ll never get anything this good! Keep going!

Notice that if you only thought the first part of these little inner conversations, everything would be fine. You’d simply be enjoying your food. And you should enjoy your food.

It’s when you add thoughts like: I can’t stop, or I need to finish this… well, then you’re finished. Because you’re instructing yourself to keep eating.

Sounds like no big deal, but that’s exactly why you feel helpless in the face of certain foods.

Solution: try this; just say to yourself, this is so good! Versus: this is so good, I just can’t stop.

Can you see the difference in how the words make you feel?

And as to the last reason it’s so hard to stop eating when our bodies have had enough, well, it’s the food.

Any time you eat a combination of sugar and fat, or fat and salt, and it’s made of processed ingredients, you need to know that these foods were deliberately manufactured to make you want to keep eating.

They were designed by scientists in the food industry to initiate unstoppable cravings once you start eating these foods. And they work.

Solution: you’ll have to stay super conscious if you choose to make these kinds of foods your meals or snacks. You can win, but you need to stay awake.

So be on the lookout for these three saboteurs and you’ll have a fighting chance. To eat when you’re hungry, and to actually stop eating when you’re satisfied.

Do You Resist Doing What Works?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

 

doing what worksThere are many, many women who make a part-time career out of searching for answers to their binge eating, their emotional eating and their seeming inability to lose weight.

They subscribe to lots of weight loss advice websites, in addition to companies that claim to have found the holy grail of weight loss… available in 30 day sizes and 90 day sizes.

They spend sometimes hours a day reading through emails extolling the virtues of fasting, taking supplements, and eliminating most of the foods they love.

Yet, when they do hit upon a true potential solution to their problem, a funny thing happens. You’d expect them to stop their search and start taking action.

But no. That’s not what usually happens.

These women find the solution not sexy enough. Or too hard. Or too long to show results. They want change but they want it fast, easy, exciting and comfortable.

The very nature of real change may contain some or none of these descriptions. Change means discomfort. Change means having insight, then practicing the heck out of something new until it takes hold.

We are so used to being in this mode of struggle that we don’t see the point where we’re supposed to stop searching and dig in!

When we find what works and resistance sets in, we want to do what’s most comfortable. And what’s most comfortable is to continue our search.

That will never get us to the result we want.

Slow down and pick a solution that makes sense to you. That others like you have tried and had success with. That doesn’t claim to be effortless, easy and quick.

And then give it time. Enjoy the process. Cultivate some self-compassion. And create a big, strong ‘why’ for your journey.

When you find what can work for you, stop searching. Deal with your resistance head on. Settle in and do the work. Take all that energy you used to use searching and apply it now to doing.

Find what works. And then stop resisting it.

Do You Have The Wrong Idea About Self-Discipline?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

self-disciplineWhat’s your reaction when you hear the phrase self-discipline?

Do you think it’s hard?

Unnatural?

Something that feels like punishment?

Actually, self-discipline is something you do for yourself.

For your benefit.

And it can feel really loving and good.

When we run from self-discipline, we end up allowing our feelings to run the show.

We make decisions based on our mood in the moment.

We exercise no self-control.

And we make choices based on short-term thinking.

This gets us somewhere.

But unfortunately, it’s not usually where you want to be.

Because our moods give us great information about what we’re thinking.

But running your life based on what kind of mood you’re in is like playing the lottery.

Here’s what self-discipline really means:

It means that you have and use the ability to do what you should do.

Whether you feel like it or not in the moment.

Because it’s for your greater good.

So if you’ve committed to upping your health a level, maybe you’ve decided to start an exercise program.

You wake up and don’t feel like getting out of bed.

If you think self-discipline is harsh and unnatural, you stay in bed.

Nice.

For maybe an hour.

But then you are creating a habit of ignoring your desire to better yourself.

If you know that your moods may come and go, then when you wake up and feel like staying in bed, it’s in your best interest to know that you mood will pass, and know that you’ll feel SO good if you do exercise.

And then do it.

How do you define self-discipline?

Is it working for you, or against you?