Archive for the ‘Planning for Success’ Category

The Delicate Art of Responding to Your Hunger

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

hungerWhen we talk about eating when we’re hungry and stopping when we’re satisfied, it sounds so simple.

So why do so many of us have trouble doing this?

  • We frequently let ourselves get too hungry. And usually this results in eating so much we end up overly full.
  • Or we don’t wait to feel the hunger signals, and eat whenever we are stimulated from the outside world… we may see a Taco Bell commercial, (my husband’s favorite on Sunday evenings) and suddenly get an urge to eat.
  • Or we’re hungry, and eating, and we completely miss the signal that we’ve had enough. We focus on the food and how delicious it is. So we keep going until we are bursting and remorseful.

Why do these things happen when the instructions our bodies come with seem so simple… eat when you’re hungry and stop when you are satiated?

There are many reasons we’ve trained our bodies and brains to get off kilter. It’s no accident… it takes practice.

Here’s what can happen that can derail us:

When we are used to dieting we’re learning to eat according to a plan. Not our bodies’ plan, but someone else’s plan. So we learn to feel hungry but take it as a sign that our diet is working. We’re supposed to be hungry, right? And so we don’t respond to the hunger. We ride it out and power through it. Whoo hoo! Weight loss is around the corner! Or so we think.

But, eventually, our survival instincts click in. They are genetically installed in our brains to prevent us from starving. So when we’ve been hungry enough, for long enough, boom, we’re suddenly finding ourselves elbow deep in a bag of chips. We simply couldn’t resist anymore.

And then, as a result of this ‘near-starvation experience’ (to your brain, anyway!) you will overeat to make sure that you’re not in danger of starving again in the near future.

If you’ve been a dieter many times, and who hasn’t, then your survival instincts are permanently on high alert… so anytime we see food, smell food, or see someone else eating, we get an urge to get some. Quick.

We’re not really physically hungry, but this urge is strong.

And it can feel impossible to not obey it.

Thus, compulsive eating and binge eating are born.

Or, let’s say you try to always eat ‘perfectly’… whatever that means to you. No carbs. No sugar. No fat… (What ARE you eating??)

And after a while of doing this, your body will drive you right up to the fattiest, sweetest, and starchiest treats you’ve ever seen.

And it will make sure you get more than your share.

Because you’ve been depriving yourself. And that old survival instinct in your lower brain simply can’t be fooled.

When you have been depriving yourself and you finally give yourself some of the ‘forbidden’ foods, you won’t be able to stop.

It’s as if you have switched on something in your brain that is going for it… way past satisfied, way past full, all the way to grossly overstuffed.

It feels terrible, and you feel like you’ve been possessed.

So, what’s the remedy?

How do we actually get ourselves to eat when we’re a little hungry, and stop when we’re a little full?

Take a look at my hunger scale.

Your goal is to wait for a little hunger. A little emptiness. It’s a signal. You might have conditioned yourself to feel panic along with hunger. There is nothing to worry about. If you are reading this, most likely you don’t have to worry about starving. When you feel the slight hunger, just notice it, and begin to think about where your next meal is coming from.

If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy knowing ahead of time where that next meal is coming from.

And this means planning, shopping and maybe doing a little bit of prep work. It’s ok. This is part of taking care of yourself.

Did you ever watch a mother traveling with her children? She probably has a bag bigger than one of the kids, filled with all kinds of food… snacks, drinks, fruit, maybe even whole meals.  You deserve this same treatment… getting your hunger needs met easily.

For now, just know that the hunger you feel doesn’t require panic. Just planning.

When you eat, the goal is to be awake… so you can tell when your stomach is near filling up in a comfortable, light way.

And then you can stop.

There will be more next time.

You’ll definitely enjoy it more when you’re hungry again.

And so it will go… a little hungry, to a little full.

Never starving, never stuffed.

It really is simple.

It’s just that we’ve trained ourselves out of this wonderful survival mechanism… and we can retrain ourselves back into it.

No panic required. No remorse either.

How to Keep Doing What Works

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Keep doing what worksA while back, I completed a class on weight loss coaching. It was one of the most intense experiences in my life.

In a good way.

I love taking classes and view it as an integral ingredient for my happiness.

So, I finished the class and was certified.

And I had gained a few pounds.


A weight loss coach, training on weight loss and gaining weight?


Here’s what happened.

When you’re trying to make a change in your life, it usually involves stopping something you are doing and starting something you aren’t doing.

You pay attention.

You keep track.

In my case, I was on a daily forum, posting my thoughts, my feelings, my weight(!) and what I ate.

We were all totally focused.

We got into a groove.

And it worked.

After a few weeks of doing a new thing, we started to get some momentum.


We created the good feelings we wanted.

We think we’re over the hump.

And suddenly, wham!

We slip and slide and lose touch with ourselves and assume we’re back where we started.

That’s what happened to me.

During this intense class, I lost several pounds. Very close to my ideal weight. I felt great!

And then when class was over, the weight came back.

This happens all the time to my clients.

First, know that when you slide backwards from a change you’re making, you’re never really back where you started.

You can’t erase what you’ve learned.

It’s in your head.

But notice what you did.

You stopped.

Stopped focusing.

Stopped paying attention.

And stopped taking the actions that were working.

So, does this mean you need to keep doing what works, what you were doing to lose weight if you want to keep it off?


You do. Keep doing what works.

Change is a long-term process.

It’s challenging.

You are re-training your brain to take a new route to work.

And this requires practice.

Knowing this ahead of time helps you prepare yourself for your change to be permanent.

So, what can YOU do to make your change more permanent? (I am right with you here.)

When things are going well, stop and notice how you feel. This good feeling is your goal.

Look at what you’re thinking when things are going well. These are your new go-to thoughts that will keep you on track. Put them on an index card, on your fridge, in your car and on your computer. I’m not kidding. These thoughts got you where you are. Capture them!

Now, take a good look at the actions you’ve been taking. They worked, right? So, you need to keep doing them. For a long time.

Any change you make is a series of steps.

Of thoughts.

Of feelings.

And of actions.

You don’t just do them a few times and wake up a new person.

But once you’ve done them, and you feel good, just keep going.

Keep focusing.

Keep tracking yourself.

And keep doing what works.

That’s the secret.

Living Your Life With No Regrets

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

no regretsRecently, I treated myself to an hour of watching an old episode of Oprah’s Master Class series. This one featured Jeff Bezos, founder of

Amazon is a multi-million dollar company and is quite a remarkable and innovative creation. Oprah was asking Jeff how he made the decision to start the company, leaving a well-paying job to risk his future for a retail operation with no storefront.

Here’s what he said:

When he was pondering what to do and how to do it, Jeff imagined himself at age 80. From that vantage point he visualized himself looking back on his life.

Down the timeline back to Amazon’s creation.

His big questions to himself were: Will I most regret having done this, when I look back at age 80? Or will I most regret NOT having done this?

For him, it was a no-brainer. Looking back from his imagined future, he made the decision to start this mold-breaking company and took his first historic steps.

He called his decision process ‘minimalizing regret’, describing it as a geeky definition of living without regret.

I was intrigued.

Not only by the story of the birth of Amazon, but of this very cool decision-making tool. And I quickly began to see how much you and I could benefit from using it, too.

Think of your life.

Right this minute, everything in your life is a result of decisions you made in the past.

  • Your career.
  • Your relationships.
  • Your body.
  • Even to some degree your health.
  • And definitely, your happiness.

Now ask yourself, what do you struggle with?

When you make decisions for yourself right now, down the road of your life, you are creating your reality.

Your results.

If anything is less than good, less than optimal for you, look back to the moment of the decisions you made.

All the decisions in each area (body, job, happiness) added up to your ‘now’.

Is it what you hoped for?

If not, you’re not alone.

How can we take the concept of creating a life with no regrets and use it going forward?

To create a future of no regrets.

Well, what do you struggle with?

Think of that one area of your life and break it down into a series of decisions.

  • Should I exercise today or skip it?
  • Will I wake up early to finish my report or blow it off?
  • Should I spend time with my son this weekend or watch that reality show I like?

Each decision is a step towards your future.

And while each decision seems like a small, inconsequential drop in the bucket, all those little drops add up.

So visualize yourself at 80.

And look back to the moment of your decision.

Will you regret it if you exercise?

Or will you regret it if you don’t?

Now make the NO REGRETS choice.


You’re now being proactive in consciously creating your desired future.

Step by step.

Choice by choice.

It ALL counts.

Look back from your future self and guide yourself to create your life of NO REGRETS.

Ode To The Food Journal

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Food journalEveryone who hires me as their coach has a similar starting point; they all agree to keep a food journal.

They are not all excited, however, to keep this food journal.

In fact, it’s probably one of the least popular assignments I give.

It’s generally met with some pretty automatic arguments.

…no time.

…feels like a diet!

…it hasn’t helped before.

…why bother?

And these are all valid points.

So here’s my equally valid answer:

If you want to lose weight, or do any major work to change any aspect of your life, you need data.

You need to know where you are.

What you’re doing.

And which direction you’re headed in.

If weight loss is your goal, then writing down:

  • what you eat,
  • how hungry you were when you started,
  • and how full you were when you stopped…

…these are some of the most important pieces of data you can collect.

Looking objectively at something you’re doing gives you clues.

And, like a good detective, you will use those clues to figure things out.

There’s only one big caveat here. And that is, whatever you eat, whatever you do, no beating yourself up about it.

Be kind.

Be curious.

Be gentle with yourself.

It’s just data.

That’s it.

Use it to make changes.

Be THE Best? Or Be YOUR Best?

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Be your bestWhat’s the difference?

Well, when you want to be the best, you push yourself.

You compare yourself to what others are doing.

You decide where you fit in on the curve.

And you take actions based on your position.

(Sometimes you take NO actions based on your position!)

You also judge your worth based on that position.

Could striving to be THE best push you to leave your comfort zone and achieve a lot?


But it is hard to define.

And by definition, there’s only one in each category.

So, what does that make you if you’re not THE best?

Now, what if, instead, you strove to be YOUR best?

You push yourself.

You set goals.

You move out of your comfort zone

You don’t compare yourself to others.

You don’t measure yourself on the curve.

And you certainly don’t judge yourself based on your position.

BUT, you grow.

You move.

You change.

And your only comparison is YOU to YOU.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that feels a whole lot friendlier and more supportive.

Me? I’m going to work to be MY best.

The heck with being THE best.

What’s Blocking Your Goals?

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

My clients, and in fact most people I know, frequently set goals.

For all kinds of things they want to achieve.

Sometimes they achieve their goals.

They make plans, they think the right thoughts, and take the right actions.

But sometimes, they don’t reach their goals.

And often, it’s because their goals are running smack into their belief systems, and there’s a conflict.


So, what’s the way around this?

Do you work harder, longer or faster?

Do you make more plans, bigger plans or different plans?

Maybe you need to take more actions?


It’s none of the above.

First you need to look at your beliefs.

See what they are.

Is there a conflict between what you want and what you believe?

If there is, that work – the work of examining and perhaps changing some of your beliefs, that must come first.

If you want more close relationships, but one of your core beliefs is that you are unlovable, it won’t be easy.

If you want to earn more money but hold the belief that good people don’t care about money, it won’t happen.

Or, if you want a vibrant, healthy body, but you secretly believe that self-care is selfish, you may correctly guess that getting fit will be an uphill battle.

The funny thing is, we all have core beliefs that guide our lives.

We’re just not aware of them.

So, before you set those goals, before you go down the road of glory and achievement, pause.

Spend some time figuring out your deep beliefs.

Look at them and decide whether they serve you.

Deal with them if they don’t.

Then move towards your goals.

Now you’ve got a good shot at reaching them.

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.



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.