Monthly Archives: June 2016

15 Life Lessons to Learn for More Peace in Your Life

Life LessonsI’m not going to wax poetic about food or weight loss this week.

Nope! Instead I’m going to share with you some essential lessons that I have found invaluable! Some of these you will have heard before (you may have learned them yourself) and others I frankly just made up and incorporated into my belief system (#10 is one of those) from personal experiences but I hope you’ll read on to see if some of these are things you need to learn too.

One of the many things that directed me towards a career in coaching was that life lessons kept hitting me in the square in the face and once I got over my initial resistance to accepting those lessons, I became interested in how I could use them to my lifelong benefit. Like most people “growing up” in their 20’s and early 30’s, things I thought I believed strongly would be called in to question, again and again by challenges and disasters I would find myself up against. I was certainly opposed to accepting some of these lessons for a long time, but once I did, their effect on me has been immeasurable. Life frequently forces us to learn lessons, through conflicts, tragedies, obstacles, and we can choose to ignore them (only to have them show up again and again until we learn what is needed) or we can choose to see what it is trying to teach us.

A lot of my coaching practice has nothing to do with food, nutrition or the physical side of our health. My favorite part of health coaching is the “life” coaching part because physical transformation cannot happen without some emotional and spiritual transformation. A truly well person, especially one who hopes to have an improved relationship with food, needs to learn how to manage their thoughts and emotions in a responsible way.  To do that, we have to learn to separate out what is actual truth, from the old stories and beliefs we keep telling ourselves, from what is actually in our personal control vs. what is out of our reach, and what actions, behaviors and beliefs are keeping us down, vs. lifting us up. The most important life lessons are the ones that help us do this and in doing so, allow us to live more peacefully, both with ourselves and with others.

I sometimes wish someone had given me a primer of some of the lessons that were coming my way. I would have still struggled, that’s an unavoidable part of growth but maybe it would have been less stressful? Easier in some way? Probably not, haha! Today’s post is my attempt to give that to you!

Below are 15 of the life lessons I’ve learned so far (some serious and some silly!) that have brought me more peace, happiness and confidence in living my life. Knowing (and living by) some of these “truths” makes it a lot easier to make decisions, more accepting of when things don’t go the way I want them to and makes my relationships less tumultuous.


15 Life Lessons to Learn for More Peace in Your Life

1. Stop trying to change other people’s opinions, actions or feelings. The only person you can control is you. It will save you years of frustration, pain and strained relationships if you can accept this. Really. You can’t change how someone else thinks, feels or what actions they take. You can’t control what they say. You can’t do anything about how they live their life. You can’t change their opinion of you (and it’s none of your business anyhow). But you can control how much you allow someone to affect you. You can control how much you allow them in your life. You can control your thoughts about the person and how much energy and time you give to them. You are in charge of you (no one else). And no one has a right to try to change you. If someone tries to control what you wear, who you talk to or what you can do, they’re stepping out of line. You are not obligated to follow someone else’s expectations of you. You manage you and they manage them. To read more about this, I blogged about this last year.

2. Forgive and “let go” of past hurts/wrongs done to you or by you. For some reason we think that holding on to the pain and the story of our past pains is the only safe thing to do. We think that if we let go of it or forgive someone that it means they’re off the hook or that we’re invalidating our painful experience. You don’t have to be “over” it, but it only hurts you further to direct negative energy towards the other person or yourself over the long term. Forgiving and letting go is for YOU. No one has to know that you’ve forgiven them. You are welcome to keep it all to yourself! You don’t have to wait for an apology from someone to feel forgiveness for the past. There is healing (for you!) in deciding to no longer allow that pain to color every aspect of your life – and only you have the power to do that.

3. We all have an inner critic who tells us (to varying degrees) that we’re not good enough, we look fat, we’re awkward (or whatever). You don’t have to listen to it. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean it’s true. Ultimately, that inner critic is trying to protect you from getting hurt in some way, but they go about it the wrong way.  For example, when that inner voice tells you that “you’re not good enough to sing on stage” or “you’re going to embarrass yourself by signing up for a 5k”, it’s the part of you that wants you to play small so that you don’t get hurt. If we go after what our hearts truly want (maybe a singing career or winning a race), we do risk failure. We risk embarrassment. We risk falling flat on our faces. But the inner mean critic doesn’t have any more information than you do. She can’t predict the future. She isn’t automatically speaking the truth. The key to not letting her get to you is to acknowledge that this critic is trying to help and that we don’t have to listen to her.

4. Take responsibility for your feelings. No one can hurt your feelings but us. Really. It’s the meaning we take from someone’s actions or words that cause us pain. It’s the way we are thinking about it. This one took me a long time to learn because ultimately I wanted other people to not be jerks (right?!), but it’s empowering knowing I’m in charge of how I feeling. It’s not a blame game – just because you’re not blaming someone else for how you feel, doesn’t mean you’re to “blame”. It’s not about that. It’s about not giving your power away which is exactly what we do when we blame someone else for how we feel. When you recognize that you are responsible for your feelings, you have the power to feel better now.

5. Your past is just your past. It’s not a glimpse into your future. Just because you’ve always struggled with your weight, your body, with food etc doesn’t mean it will always be a struggle or it will stay a struggle. You can change it. Believing that something is impossible makes it so.  You know that humans are adaptable and intelligent so why not believe that about yourself also? Same with events or actions that occurred in your past. They are not happening in the present and you don’t have to repeat it over and over just because it’s a part of your history.

6. Use physical hunger as a judge as to whether you should eat or not. Not the amount of calories you’ve computed, not whether the scale read the right number today or not because you think you shouldn’t eat. If you’re worried that your physical hunger will lead to weight gain, you probably aren’t in touch with it (it’s ok, most of us are rusty) and are eating driven by cravings, emotions or something else. Learning to listen to your body signals – what hunger feels like, what being satisfied feels like etc is an incredibly valuable skill to have. If you can get in touch with this, you’ll always know when to eat and when to stop. Weight issues solved.

7. If you’re not getting the results you want from whatever life changes you are trying to make, ask yourself, how committed am I to making the changes? How much effort am I truly putting in? If you’re only putting in 50% effort, expect your results to reflect that. We can think all we want about how we want something to change. We can say out loud that we want something so badly. We can read all the books and listen to all the podcasts hoping to learn all we can about something, but if we don’t actually apply what we’ve learned to the thing we’re trying to change, it’s not going to do anything. You want results? Then you’ve got to take action.

8. If you’re sensitive – own it, be proud of it, pay attention to it. I remember getting teased in elementary school for blushing when called on to give an answer (or really any time attention was on me). I got made fun of in my own household by family members growing up for crying in response to anger or frustration. For a long time, I saw my sensitivity as a burden and an obvious sign that there was something wrong with me. But being sensitive is what makes me an empathetic coach, wife and friend. It’s what makes my heart feel alive and what makes life feel so incredible. Being sensitive is actually a gift that doesn’t come naturally for most and if you have it, it’s not a burden. It’s a tool you can use to understand your world, your environment, other people and yourself in depth and it can serve you well.

9. Stop looking for the perfect diet that will solve all your weight or food issues. It does not exist. I promise. Almost any diet can work if you follow it closely and are willing to follow it for the rest of your life. Like, forever. If you’re not able to do that (who the hell is??), your best bet is to find a way you can eat for the rest of your life, that makes your body feel good, you feel satisfied and doesn’t make you want to eat your arm for 90% of the day. I am not selling the perfect diet and no one else is either, regardless of the marketing you see out there. You have to figure out what foods, quantities and qualities work for your particular needs. See #6.

10. Let friends and family take photos of you! This is one of my silly lessons. Someday you might not be here and it would be a damn shame if the people who loved you didn’t have pictures to remember you by, all because you were feeling self-conscious. Don’t say “Ug, I don’t want any photos today!” because you think you look fat, ugly or anything else. Your family and friends think you are amazing no matter what you think you look like and they want to remember the day with photos and that includes with YOU in them. Constantly telling others not to take photos of you (or making a big deal to hide behind others during photo ops) actually puts more focus on you – and that’s probably not what you’re after. Join in, as you are. No one is fixating on how you look in one particular photo as much as you are. Show your kids that you accept yourself as you are at this moment – whether that’s 75 lbs overweight or at your ideal weight. Can you imagine a child saying “don’t take a picture of me, I’m too fat right now!”? It would break your heart. You saying the same thing is breaking everyone’s heart who loves you – and one day it will break yours. Smile for those photos like you are feeling incredibly happy to be there (and don’t you dare hide yourself behind your kid or your cousin). You’re fucking fantastic the way you are at this moment. Yes, I’ve talked about this before.

11. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, figure out how you can enjoy both alone time and social time – because there are going to be times that even the most reluctant introvert needs to spend time with others and even the most gregarious extrovert will be all by themselves! Everyone has a specific balance that drains or energizes them and it’s important to know how you can best spend your energy. If you prefer to be with others, learn how to also enjoy your time alone – explore hobbies, learn new skills, travel to a new place etc. If you prefer to be alone, choose more social situations that involve something you really want to do – so that at least when you do need to be social, you’re able to enjoy yourself. People with strong social bonds tend to have better function and well being in old age – so there is good reason to foster those relationships! Though there is also evidence that being alone can help protect against loss of autonomy in old age. It’s important to find the balance that works for you – knowing that both have their benefits and finding ways to enjoy both (even if you prefer one over the other) can go a long way towards the happiness you feel in your life. I find I get depressed and irritable if I spend too much time alone or too much time with others. I am an extroverted introvert (or introverted extrovert – I can’t decide!) and really need to toe the line to feel and function my best.

12. People live the lives they want to have. My father used to say this and it drove me nuts – if someone is in a crappy relationship, how could they want that? If someone hates their job, how could they want that? But it finally dawned on me as an adult that it’s true. People stay in crappy relationships because they think it’s better than being alone or finding someone new – by staying where they are and not doing anything about it they are actively choosing this for their life. People stay in jobs they hate because they are fearful of trying something new or worry that a new job might be just as bad or because it might be hard to find a new job. As unhappy as they might be, their current misery seems safer than the alternatives. Everything new in life is a risk – and sometimes we choose not to take risks (and sometimes we do). It’s a choice.

13. Learn how to say no without apologies. No. No, thank you. No, I am not available. No, I am not interested. It is not impolite to be clear, direct and honest about your intentions. Don’t lead people on to believe that you are interested in doing things that you don’t want to do just because you are afraid to look rude. We’re all getting harassed on social media by former classmates and acquaintances who are selling plastic wrap they want you to believe will make you skinny or breakfast shakes that cost the same amount as your car payment. Just because you used to be buddies in 2nd grade doesn’t mean you owe someone your time, money or energy. I had a woman approach me in the grocery store not too long ago selling Mary Kay – she asked if I had ever tried it. I said “yes, years ago.” She pulled out her phone and asked if I wanted to book an appointment with her to try some samples, I said “No thank you.” She looked dumfounded and stumbled with various questions trying to get me to say yes. Women have a hard time saying no and sales people are trained to take advantage of that. (No offense to sales people – just using y’all as an example). The first couple of times you say no, you might feel a twinge of guilt or like you did something wrong. But I promise you it’s not rude. It’s way more rude to feign interest.

14. Other people’s priorities may not be the same as yours. This has been a tough one for me to learn too! I prioritize some things in my life that you might find silly. You may prioritize some things in your life that I think are silly. Neither of us are “right”. It’s all relative. I have a client who feels that she and her husband are growing apart. Because of their work schedules, the only time they’re both home is on the weekend, but she prefers to spend all day Saturday gardening and he prefers to spend all day Sunday cycling with friends. Neither is “wrong” but they are currently prioritizing their hobbies over their marriage. They might not see it that way, because gardening and cycling are a super important part of their limited free time but at the moment neither is willing to make a compromise with their hobbies for their marriage. They have different priorities and until they both shift to wanting to put their marriage first or one of them is willing to let their hobby take a backseat and join the other on theirs, she will continue to feel like they are growing apart. We’re all coming from different places, desires and needs and should be understanding that that means we place varying values on the same things. I can’t expect you to have the same priorities as me – but you also can’t expect me to have the same ones as you.

15. Your worth is not debatable or fluid. It’s not something that changes. You are worthy and valuable just as you are right now, just as you were 10 years ago, just as you will be 10 years from now. Your value is inherent – you are amazing and have the potential to do amazing things. Your situation and circumstances may change regularly but your core value as a human being never changes.  It doesn’t matter if you are 75 lbs overweight. You are not less valuable than you were when you were thinner. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t finish college. That doesn’t make you less valuable than someone with their Master’s. Get it out of your head that you’re not worthy. Let go of the urge to criticize (yourself or others).  It’s not cocky or conceited to know you are worthy deep down in your soul. A lot of people struggle with letting themselves feel loved or valuable because they think if they do it must mean that they are prideful or arrogant. That’s hogwash! We have nothing to do with our value or worth. We don’t deserve accolades or a pat on the back for being a valuable and worthy soul so there is nothing to be arrogant about. You’re valuable just because you ARE – not because of things you do or don’t do. Accept that you have this worth and let it fuel your choices in life. It’s a lot harder to make poor decisions when you know you are amazing and have the ability to do good stuff!

Phew! I didn’t mean for that to become such a long post! Do any of these speak to you? Have you found any of these to be important in your life? What lessons have you learned that help you live more peacefully? I’d love if you would share some of them with me.

Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

Click here to get your copy!

Click here to get your copy!

How to Go on Vacation without Gaining 10 lbs (but still be able to enjoy vacation foods)

Finding a way to get some form of daily movement each day is one way to prevent vacation weight gain.

Finding a way to get some form of daily movement each day is one way to prevent vacation weight gain.

Years ago, when I would go on any type of vacation or “girls trip”, I would find myself scrambling in the weeks leading up to the trip to lose a few pounds, regardless of where my weight currently was. I’d get ready by trying to eat as little as I could “safely” get away with before a trip. I even did this in 2011 when John and I eloped in California, though since we hadn’t planned on getting married on vacation until just a couple of weeks before, I only had time to drop a few pounds.

You may be thinking that the reason for the last minute weight loss before a trip was so that I would look my best during it. Well, sure, who doesn’t want to look their best on vacation? But that wasn’t really the reason. The reason I always had to work off a few pounds before vacations was really to balance out the weight gain that would definitely come during a trip!

I always saw vacations and nights out a nice restaurants as a reason to go crazy and eat and drink whatever and how ever much I wanted (probably because of my constant yo yo-ing between dieting and gaining weight). The problem with that was that a 10 day vacation became more about the food I would get to eat than about getting to experience a new place or doing fun things with my man or my friends. Inevitably, I would eat terribly all vacation long – eating foods that make me feel bloated and sluggish and eating far too much of them at every meal.

Vacation would start off fun, but by the last few days, I’d be feeling so uncomfortable in my body, that the clothes I brought with me would feel too tight and I’d be looking forward to going home just so I could have relief by “working it all off”. But not before I ate another ice cream sundae, plate of fried clams, some pastries and lots of beer. “Gotta enjoy myself, you know! Because after this trip, I won’t be allowed to eat these things again for a long time”.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve learned that letting myself go crazy and eat everything under the sun when I’m on vacation is the perfect recipe for me to A) feel horrible all vacation long, B) gain 10 lbs in a short period of time and C) set me up for messed up eating and restriction when I get back.

None of that sounds like fun or even remotely vacation-like or relaxing to me!! Yet I did it over and over. I finally realized that I don’t have to do that.

Vacation should be awesome and it shouldn’t be a free for all and it also shouldn’t mean automatic weight gain. Ok, but that brings up a lot of questions, like:  To avoiding feeling terrible on vacation and after, does that mean I have to eat super cleanly all of vacation? Isn’t life for “living”? And doesn’t that include delicious indulgent food sometimes? How can I enjoy food on vacation without causing myself discomfort, pain and emotional ups and downs but still enjoying myself? I’m a foodie, how can I go to fun places and not eat the local foods they are known for?

I’ve been doing things differently when we go away the last couple of years and I feel like I can now enjoy going to new places which includes eating delicious food, without feeling compelled to eat everything in excess and without feeling deprived and without gaining a ton of weight. In fact, when we went to Martha’s Vineyard two summers ago, I actually came home 1 lb lighter than when we left (without trying to). Not saying any of us should try to lose weight on vacation but I know it’s possible to enjoy amazing food and relaxation while on vacation without coming home 10 lbs heavier.

How do we do that?

How to Go on Vacation without Gaining 10 lbs

Start your day off with something really nutritious.

High protein breakfast in Kapaa, HI means I'm nourished and able to enjoy the whole day.

High protein breakfast in Kapaa, HI means I’m nourished and able to enjoy the whole day.

The first meal of the day sets the tone for the rest of the day. For me personally, if I start the day off with a bagel or a pastry, I will be hungry again in 2 hours and I will crave sugar and other carbs all day long. This makes it really tough for me to make choices that make my body feel good and by the end of the day I will probably have eaten enough food for two days and yet still be itching for more. On the other hand, if I start my day with high protein foods that I digest well, I have energy for hours and cravings don’t control me, which makes it a lot easier to enjoy myself. I love to start vacation days with eggs and sauteed veggies or fresh fruit. If that’s not an option, a protein bar and some fruit works great (and travels well). For you it might mean cottage cheese and some bacon or Ezekiel avocado toast. And don’t tell me you can’t get something nutritious for breakfast at restaurants. Even the greasiest diner in the world will make you scrambled eggs with vegetables or a side of oatmeal.

Make the best choice you can make at every meal.

Eating Whole Fried Trout at The Loon Lodge in Rangeley, Maine. Don't worry, I didn't eat the head.

Eating Whole Fried Trout at The Loon Lodge in Rangeley, Maine. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat the head.

Sometimes that means I have lots of really healthy options and sometimes that means the healthiest option isn’t so healthy. Let’s say I’m at the airport and food options are severely lacking (and I didn’t pack anything). Even at Starbucks, I can grab a piece of fruit and their protein sampler (or something like it). Just because they mostly serve pastries, doesn’t mean I have to choose a pastry. Use your common sense. I try to find whatever option seems to resemble “whole” foods the most (less ingredients is usually a better choice). And if the best option isn’t that great, don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s just one meal.

Eat food that you actually like.

Your nutritious choices can also be foods you like!

Your nutritious choices can also be foods you like!

It has to be said that just because you are starting your day off with something nutritious and making the best choices you can at each meal does not mean that you need to eat food you don’t like. You may have read the two above and said “but I don’t like eggs (or can’t eat them)” or “I don’t like cottage cheese”. That’s fine. You don’t have to eat the things that I personally choose! You can make great choices and start your day on the right foot by eating foods that work well in your body AND that you also like. Part of our problem in this society is that we think healthy food = bland / gross food and that’s not the case. If you go into your trip trying to gag down egg whites and kale juice and you hate those things, you are going to be be miserable. Nutritious doesn’t mean going without good stuff!

Eat whatever the heck you want a few times during the trip.

You can bet I am eating baguette's and local cheeses in Paris.

You can bet I am eating baguettes and local cheeses in Paris.

I am a foodie and half the reason I like to visit new places is to try new restaurants and eat amazing delicious creations. This may seem to be diametrically opposed to being a health coach but I swear it’s not!  One of the core teachings of the school I trained to be a coach at is that real health comes from making sure we are nourished in several areas of our life. Eating well won’t do much for our health if we are also not well fed spiritually, emotionally, creatively etc. and for me, enjoying indulgent creative food on occasion feeds my spirit. On vacation, I allow myself a few meals where I can eat as indulgent as I crave with no regard for the health or nutritive purposes of the meal.  I am not going to go to New Orleans without eating a beignet. I am not going to visit Paris without enjoying a baguette and local cheeses. You probably want to know how many times during a trip I let myself eat like this and to be honest, I don’t have a set number or restriction on it. I have to go by how I’m feeling on that particular trip. It might be 3 times on a 7 day trip or it might be 5 times. It depends on where we are and what sorts of things have me salivating and how much joy I get out of it. Sometimes the “healthy” food in a location is just as amazing as the unhealthy stuff. Kauai, Hawaii was like that – fresh mangos, coconuts, avocados and the most amazing fish I’ve ever had and available at every meal. And they tasted nothing like it does when I’m at home. I aim for a balance of feeling amazing and satisfying cravings during an entire trip. I want both, so that means listening in to my body and seeing what makes the most sense. Trust yourself (the only way to grow trust in yourself is by using it sometimes).

Get some exercise or movement daily.

Going on a biking winery tour in Calistoga, CA was a blast and a beautiful way to see the area.

Going on a biking winery tour in Calistoga, CA was a blast and a beautiful way to see the area.

I have learned that I feel best during and after a trip, regardless of what I’m eating, when I get some activity every day. This doesn’t mean we need to focus on burning off the calories in the beignet or those cocktails, calorie for calorie. It’s more about keeping digestion running smoothly (which often slows on vacation) and finding ways to enjoy life that is a change from our American couch and screen lifestyle (here’s to hoping you can bring home new active pursuits you love!). Some days that might mean just walking around local shops and parks while sight seeing, or renting bikes and ditching the car (we had no car in MV only bikes!). I might spend 30 minutes in a hotel gym or do some bodyweight exercises in my room if the weather is bad or if John isn’t feeling up for exercise. I’ve dragged John out for a sunset walk on the beach. We’ve rented kayaks and spent several hours paddling and exploring lakes. I’ve spent hours swimming and lounging in a salt water pool. We did a winery tour in Napa on bikes. We hiked to a waterfall in Rangeley.  The beautiful thing about making daily movement a goal while you’re on vacation is yes, you’ll burn some calories sure, but you will also be doing things that “feed” your soul. These new experiences, with people you love are sometimes the most memorable of a trip and will last so much longer than that so-so fish and chips you thought you wanted. The key to getting activity on a trip is to think how it can add to you enjoying your day and not how it can help you eat more or burn off more. You will not enjoy your vacation if the entire thing is a mathematical exchange of calories and time.

Relax. Really

Relax and make food less of a big deal and it will be less of a big deal.

Relax and make food less of a big deal and it will be less of a big deal.

Let’s say you go overboard and do gain a few pounds on your trip. That’s ok. It happens. But there’s a limit to the amount of real weight gain that can happen in a week or two and freaking out about it is going to do you more harm than good. If you do gain weight or if you are worried about gaining weight on a trip, the best thing you can do is to not make a big deal about it and focus on eating in a way that makes your body feel good and doesn’t make you feel deprived or crazy when you get back. The more we fight with ourselves and view our bodies as a battle to be won, the more casualties there will be. Practice putting down your need to control this stuff to a T and you’ll find that weight ups and downs are actually reduced. Try to view mealtimes as a time to refuel and not as something to fear and you’ll gain trust in your body.

That’s really it. I focus on taking pretty good care of myself but also leave room for some extras while on vacation. This way, I enjoy myself and my body feels good, instead of weighed down, bloated and uncomfortable. I can have both! An awesome and unexpected side effect is that now that I have done this a few times successfully, I have less stress as a vacation approaches and during it. I am able to focus on life more before I leave (rather than how much weight I can lose first) and enjoy it more during. I’m more present. I’m more me. And the food I do eat tastes even better because I’m not ruining it with calorie calculations before the first bite even goes in my mouth.

The key to not gaining a ton of weight on vacation is to go into it trusting yourself and choosing to eat and do things that will make your body and your soul feel amazing, the whole trip. You have to decide what those things are and how much feels like enough and not too much. You are in charge of you and you fully have it in you to enjoy your vacation and all the food that comes with it in a reasonable and enjoyable way.

Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

An Exercise to Try: Take Regular Inventory of your Food, Body and Activity Habits

Take inventory of your habits that help or harm your progress. If twice a week happy hour is working for your goals and life then there’s no reason to change it. But if it’s preventing you from being where you want to be, it might be worth changing.

Sometimes we get stuck in routines, or how we’ve just always done something and in doing so, we limit our progress, because it’s much easier for our brains to let us do what we’ve always done, than it is to interrupt the pattern and try something new. The problem with this is that it sometimes means we get stuck doing things that actually aren’t helping us move forward. We think they’re working just because they used to in the past or because it’s what we’re comfortable with. We also sometimes get really scared of doing things differently and this rigidity can keep us unwell.

I have an exercise that can help you loosen up the hold some of your habits have on you – especially if they’re not helping you get where you want to be. It’s taking inventory every few months of all the things that I’m doing (and not doing) in regards to food, body/body image and physical activity – and then adjusting when needed.

This has become one of the most important things I’ve done while rehabbing my own relationship with food. I frequently take inventory of what I’m doing in relation to it.

Doing an inventory like this is important for a few reasons:

  1. It prevents me from doing things that are dangerous or unhealthy (ex. regular bingeing or excessive restriction of calories).
  2. It limits how long I’ll spend doing something before I change direction due to ineffectiveness (ex. doing the same exercise for years).
  3. It keeps me honest with myself (lying to ourselves is common with overeaters/undereaters).
  4. It helps me move forward instead of getting stuck in an unhelpful place.
  5. It helps me break out of rigidity thinking and absolutes that keep me unwell.

So what do I mean by taking inventory?

Well, I sit down with a pen and notebook and answer a bunch of questions around my eating habits, my body image or composition concerns and my physical activity routines to assess what things are going well and I should keep doing and what things might need to be tossed out. I want to stress that there are no “right” answers to these questions – it’s really personal and totally normal for the answers to change over time. Your honesty and openness is what will make this the most helpful thing.

Here are the questions in my inventory:


  • What motivates my decision to eat?
  • How am I determining what and how much to eat? And is this working for me?
  • Do I feel energized with the quantity and quality of food I’m eating?
  • Am I eating foods that are both good sources of nutrition and enjoyable?
  • What foods have I been eating too frequently?
  • What foods am I not eating enough of?
  • What foods am I eating that make my body feel great?
  • What foods am I eating that make my body feel not so good?
  • What changes with food can I make so that my body feels better and has more energy more often?
  • Is the environment I choose to eat my meals in a benefit to my relationship with food? (rushed? relaxed? etc) Is there anything I can do to improve the environment that I eat in?


  • How satisfied am I with my physical body (size, shape, composition etc)?
  • What am I using to determine this level of satisfaction? (ex. scale, measurements, clothing etc). Does this tool feel like a positive or negative part of my routine?
  • How satisfied am I with my body image?
  • What actions am I taking that make me feel good about my body or think positive thoughts about it?
  • What actions am I taking that make me feel badly about my body or think bad thoughts about it?
  • What needs to change in order for me to live more harmoniously with my body?
  • What do I love about my body today?
  • What parts of my body could use more love and gentleness?

Exercise / Movement

  • What is my motivation to exercise?
  • What physical activity am I doing?
  • What results am I after?
  • Am I making progress towards those results?
  • Does the movement / exercise I do make me feel powerful and energized? Or drained and exhausted in a bad way?
  • Does my body “like” my physical activity of choice?
  • Does the amount and type of exercise I’m doing fit in with my life and the type of life I want to have?
  • Is my activity interfering with the life I want to have?

Other Questions to Wrap Up

  • What tools, materials, thoughts and habits are serving me well at this time?
  • What tools, materials, thoughts and habits are not serving me (or possibly harming or hindering my progress)?
  • What have I been doing for months or years that will continue to make me feel good and reach my goals?
  • What have I been doing for months or years that is not helping and may need to change, be adjusted or dropped completely?
  • Are there any habits or actions that I’m doing that I feel like I need to hide from others? If so, does this feel like something that will help me heal my relationship with food or my body? If not, how can I change this action or get support to remove this obstacle?
  • What changes do I want to make that feel scary or overwhelming?
  • What changes do I want to make that I feel resistance towards making?
  • What changes do I want to make that I am actually looking forward to?
  • Where do I need support? And who could help provide that support?
  • When will I do another inventory? Schedule it in your calendar and re-answer these questions for your current situation.

One final thing I wanted to share about doing this type of inventory is that chronic dieters, emotional eaters etc tend to get themselves stuck in a land of absolutes. You know what I’m talking about (I can’t eat full fat foods. I must exercise 10 hours a week. I must eat less than 1300 calories a day etc) and I want you to use this type of self-questioning to knock that stuff on it’s butt.

What I mean by that . . there are some people who believe people with a disordered eating history should never weigh themselves, or they should never count calories. There are others out there who think you should never eat bread, cake or anything else that we could label as “bad”. There are some who think you can’t desire changing your body and also have a healthy relationship with it. But none of these are always true for everyone who has ever struggled with their eating or body image. There are certainly people who have a rough relationship with food who can use a scale without going into a tailspin. And there are people who can count calories without being too obsessive. The key is knowing who YOU are and what makes you well or unwell and using that to guide you.

I want us to throw all the “shoulds”, absolutes and inflexible ideas out the window. I think that kind of rigidity is part of what keeps us unwell. If we’re so attached to an idea or habit that we are unwilling to let it go even if it’s not working for us, we’re never going to get out of our own way. Answering these questions honestly and giving yourself permission to adjust or change where needed can be incredibly freeing.

I once thought that I had to count calories in order to lose weight. Then when I realized doing that never taught me to eat properly and I decided that not counting calories was the way to go. And that was working for awhile too. I went through a phase where I had to weigh myself every day, otherwise I would kind of turn a blind eye to how much I was eating and I’d gain and gain. Weighing myself let me adjust my behavior before it go out of control. Then I went through a period when I tucked the scale away and let how my clothes fit be a better indicator. For awhile I was using measurements.  These days, my weight or specific size is not something I monitor closely. I’ve come to decide that it’s healthier for me to think less about that stuff and more about how I’m caring for myself, regardless of my body size. As far as fitness goes, for years it was about burning as many calories as I could, then it was being as consistent as I could be, right now it’s about getting and feeling as strong as I can be.

What feels good? What doesn’t make me feel obsessive? These things change over time.

I am always evolving and I am not afraid of changing. I’m trying to not be so dogmatic about this journey. It can be challenging, for sure! Sometimes I feel like something is the total truth, the bible, and I want to share – “I have the answer folks!!!” But really, that answer is usually only the right answer for right then – for that period of my life. I try to remind my clients that same thing, that it’s ok to change it up. If you’ve been eating oatmeal every morning for 5 years and find yourself wanting to binge at the end of the day, maybe the oatmeal gets to take a vacation.

We are ever-changing, growing and evolving beings. And it’s important to honor that in our daily choices as we work our way to healthier and happier bodies, minds and souls.

Please don’t be too rigid about what’s working for you or “what you’ve always done”.

It’s ok to change it. In fact, it may be revolutionary for your body to change it!

It’s ok to let it go.

It’s ok to try something you previously thought was silly or too hard or wrong.

It’s ok to change your mind.

It’s ok to readjust.

Lastly, in case it’s helpful, I want to share a couple of examples of my most recent inventory changes. I am always trying to break my own rigidity and habits and staying open to changing to what works for right now.

Example 1. For years I drank black coffee during the week and had cream & sugar on the weekends as a treat. Well somewhere along the last year or so of working from home, I had started to do cream and sugar all week long in my coffee. I noticed my allergies were creeping up on me and the daily dairy was probably the culprit (it kills my asthma!). I went back to drinking black during the week just last week and my lungs already feel better. I adjusted even though cream and sugar sure tastes good – it wasn’t giving me the results I’m after!

Example 2. For the last 4 months I’ve been getting plenty of exercise each week – probably 6 days a week of barre, weight lifting, walking, HIIT, biking etc. I’m getting plenty of heart pumping exercise and feeling great! But what I realized during my last inventory was that by working from home, I’m way way more sedentary that I want to be. I don’t have a huge building to walk through like I used to when I worked for another company. Other than trips to the bathroom or kitchen, I’m sitting on my bum in my office most of the day. In some ways, it makes me more tired! Because of that, I’ve been adding just 20-30 minutes of a casual walk outside a few days a week and it’s really helping my energy throughout the day. Plus it’s great to get a little sunlight and get off the computer. Yes I’m getting plenty of conditioning exercise but my daily movement was limited otherwise and it’s important to change that. Human bodies were made to move!

Example 3. I usually don’t eat wheat which works for me most of the time . . . but Sunday I had brunch with family and some old family friends and John ordered a donut with a caramel bourbon sauce. It smelled amazing and caramel is one of my favorite things. I ate some of that donut. And it was delicious. And it’s ok.

I’m not a bad person for eating something I normally don’t eat and my world isn’t going to explode for having it. There’s no morality in food.

I am fluid. I am malleable. I am pliant. I shift. I fluctuate. And you can too.

One of the largest benefits I see to taking regular inventory of your habits around food and body stuff is that it becomes much easier to let go of the rigid thinking that keeps us trapped in unhealthy habits. It forces us to question why we’re doing that stuff in the first place and when you see it on paper, it’s a lot harder to ignore. When we can’t bear to let go of a habit, when doing something differently brings up a lot of resistance or stress, it’s sometimes a sign that it’s no longer a healthy thing for us to do. Only you can really determine what is right for you! Try this exercise and let me know if you find it helpful!


Why Am I So Hungry All The Time?

There are many reasons we feel hungry all the time - one of them is due to what we eat!

There are many reasons we feel hungry all the time – one of them is due to what we eat!

One of the coolest parts of my job as a health coach is that I get to play detective with my clients. I freaking love playing detective (which totally aids me in my genealogy research hobby)! My job isn’t to “fix” them, instead my job is to help them figure out the right answers for them and give them support and accountability as they go from step to step. In order to do that we have to explore why they’re doing the things they are currently doing that keep them in a pattern. Together, we have to uncover the clues that reveal why they’re eating “too much. Why they can’t lose weight. Why they self sabotage. etc.

When we understand “why” we’re doing something, we develop an awareness that creates an environment where change is possible. I’ve said it several times on this blog – if we want to have a healthy relationship with food, we have to become a detective and investigate our habits and the actions we take on a daily basis that have gotten us to the place we are in.

One of the most frequent things I hear from my clients when we first start working together is that they are hungry all the time. They feel like they’re turning to food constantly and don’t know how to lose weight if they’re always compelled to eat. They feel like they can’t trust this natural signal that their body is sending them. It’s a mystery and they feel completely baffled by it. Feeling hungry all the time is something that can get in the way of your health and fitness goals so it’s hugely important that we figure out the reasons why this might be happening to you.

While a blog post isn’t a replacement for working with a coach who can help you figure this out, if you’re someone who is dealing with this, you may not even know what types of things can lead to you feeling this way – today I’m going to share the most common reasons why someone will feel hungry so often.

Do any of these resonate with you? You may have more than one – most of us do!


Why Am I So Hungry All the Time?


  • Because I’m a fat lazy slob with no self control.  No, that’s not it. And please stop talking about yourself that way. It’s not doing you any favors.
  • Because of the shitty quality foods we eat. If your diet is heavily made up of heavily processed food (stuff like cookies, crackers, chips, breads, frozen entrees, fast food etc) it probably contains food additives that were specifically created in a lab to make you crave certain flavors and textures. I’m not kidding. There are over 3000 substances that are allowed to be added to our food for several purposes. Food processing of this degree started off as a way to reduce waste and increase shelf life, but over time, it has turned into a way to keep consumers coming back for more. It’s not just the chemical additives that cause an issue with hunger, many of these foods are super high in refined carbohydrates (the refining process removes fiber and nutrients which would slow digestion) and that causes our blood sugar to spike and crash quickly – when that happens, we find ourselves back in the pantry looking for more food. Adding more quality “whole” foods to your diet can help.
  • Because your hormones leptin and ghrelin are out of whack. Leptin and Ghrelin are hormones our bodies produce that regulate our appetite and energy levels. Leptin is tells us when we’re full and when to stop eating but when we ignore our fullness signals over and over again and eat past them, we become leptin resistant and it no longer regulates our hunger. We’re no longer sensitive to it. Ghrelin is a hormone that tells us we need to eat. It’s something our bodies use to help us survive – if we didn’t eat, we would die, but some people produce too much of this hormone, causing them to feel hungry all the time. If you are not sensitive to leptin or you are producing too much ghrelin, you are going to eat and eat. You can read more about the role these hormones play with weight here.
  • Because advertising is designed to make you crave certain foods. Both TV ads and the way our food is packaged is designed to make you salivate and think about how you can get your hands on that food. Companies hire food “stylists” to make food look as appetizing as possible for photographs, often using props and materials that aren’t even actual food to create the depiction that the company wants. They show people laughing and having fun while consuming the food, all so that consumers will want what those people have. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s how advertising works.
  • Because the cues you use to eat come from outside of your own body. Even if you don’t have an issue with leptin or ghrelin, it’s pretty common these days to not be in tune with our body’s hunger signals. Instead of trusting our body to tell us when it’s time to eat, we “trust” calorie counts, certain times of the day or visual portion sizes. We eat to clear our plate if it was under our “calorie goal”, even if we’re feeling stuffed for the last several bites. We eat at lunch “time” even if we’re not hungry. We don’t really know what hunger feels like and so when we actually feel hunger, we don’t trust that that’s what it is.
  • Because you are bored. Probably the most simple reason here is that many of us turn to food as a way to entertain ourselves. We’re not hungry, we’re not stressed, we just can’t think of anything better to do right now and food will take up some time.
  • Because you’re not drinking enough water. Some of us confuse thirst with hunger. If you are drinking less than 8 glasses of water a day, try increasing your water intake and see if it changes how hungry you feel.
  • Because it’s a long ingrained habit. When we do something for the first time, it feels foreign, it’s often difficult and we have to think a lot about what we are doing. The first time you tried to tie your shoe on your own as a child probably took a lot of concentration and effort, now you do it without thinking about it. Our brain wants to be really efficient so it creates neural pathways everytime we learn a new skill or habit. They get stronger the more we do something – it doesn’t matter if it’s something like brushing our teeth or snacking every time there is a commercial on TV. If you go to the pantry every time there is a commercial, your brain will connect the dots and you’ll start to find yourself in the pantry during those times without even thinking about it. It’s a habit that your brain has been conditioned to follow.
  • Because you associate food with comfort. Lots of women don’t let themselves feel uncomfortable feelings and to deal with them, they turn to food for distraction and to bring comfort from their feelings. We stuff our feelings as far down as they can go and eat to fill that space. This is emotional eating. After awhile, any time we feel a feeling that we don’t want to feel (confusion, worry, sadness, frustration etc), we may start to feel “hungry” in response to it. Being “hungry” all the time, may actually be a sign that you are feeling things you don’t want to feel most of the time and trying to put a stop to it.
  • Because you’re not eating enough. Some women aren’t eating enough food to give their bodies the minimum amount of energy needed for them to get through their day. They’ve bought into the idea that women should be slender and shouldn’t eat much, so they spend all day trying to avoid eating more than a tiny bit at a time, even though their bellies are loudly proclaiming their hunger. If physical hunger is a constant state and you are at a normal weight or underweight, then you are probably not eating as much as your body requires to function.
  • Because you are training hard. If you’re an athlete or someone who is working out like an athlete – lifting heavy weights, running long distances etc., your body may need extra fuel to build and / or repair muscle after your training sessions. To make sure your muscles get the energy they need, your appetite will increase. If you don’t want to lose muscle during your training you need to eat a little (or a lot) more.

There are many more reasons why you are hungry all the time but these are just the most common ones I see people struggling with. In most cases, true physical hunger isn’t something to ignore. The tricky part for most is determining if whether what you are experiencing is physical hunger or emotional hunger. If you’re not sure which, I’d love to help you figure that out and create a plan to change your habits. You can contact me here.

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