Category Archives: Healthy Tips

You’ve set a goal, now how do you actually reach it?

photo credit: Nothing but dreams via photopin (license)

What’s that saying about reaching for the stars? Something about how even if you fail at least you’ll be among them? Better to get off the ground than to never start! Here’s how you make your dream a reality!  photo credit: Nothing but dreams via photopin (license)

Everyone has at least one big life goal in the back of their mind – whether it’s to lose weight, get more fit, run a marathon, reach a certain peak in their career etc. At first, there’s a fire and excitement and passion when thinking of that goal! We can’t wait until we reach it! We envision what it will feel like, look like and how different our life might be if it happened. How free, accomplished and proud would you be?

Then we come out of our daydream and start thinking about how long it will take to reach that goal and we become overwhelmed and disappointed. We don’t take action on the goal and 6 months from now we’ll be fantasizing about reaching that goal all over again. I’m sure some of you have already given up on a goal you set on New Years, right?? It happens to everyone at some point!

So how do you actually make it happen? How do you actually take that dream in your head and bring it to life?

Here’s the short answer: With specifics.

Here’s a graphic of the steps if you’re short on time – read on for more details!

Can you take these actions? I bet you can!

Can you take these actions? I bet you can!

Sit down with a pen and paper and get brainstorming! Create a list of all the things you can think of that it will actually take to reach that goal. What concrete steps will you need to take to make the dream a reality? To get from A to Z, what will you have to do?

Break the goal down into the smallest steps you can think of. If your goal is to run a marathon but you are mostly sedentary at the moment, one of your smaller steps is to begin exercising.

But what do you need to do to make that happen? Do you have a gym membership? Do you have a pair of good sneakers? Can you workout at home? When will you workout? Do you have clothes that are comfortable for exercise? What actions will you need to have taken before you can take on the more challenging aspects of marathon training?

Once you know what steps you need to take, try to organize them into a rational order.  In the above example of starting to exercise so that you can eventually run a marathon, the first steps may look something like this:
#1 Go shopping for sneakers and workout clothing.
#2 Purchase sneakers and workout clothing.
#3 Make an appointment with my doctor to get the ok to exercise.
#4 Decide what days and times I have available to exercise.
#5 Decide what kind of activity to start with.
#6 etc.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. Often when we take on a new challenge, we aren’t totally sure of all the steps required until we start working on it. There are lots of things that we won’t know to list until we begin – know that it’s ok to edit your list multiple times if needed! It’s ok to revise and rethink your plan of attack several times! What matters more is that you are actually taking the actions on your list.

Once you have your list of steps – those concrete actions that make up all the steps needed to reach the goal you have in mind, you want to plan out and schedule them in a calendar!

No really. I’m not kidding. Don’t fight doing this step. It’s crucial.

I know those of you who are creative types or have ADD are sitting here going “I work better when I see where my focus is each day.” Uh-huh. Yeah. I’ve said and done that myself. How has that been working for you? Are you actually making progress on them with this plan of attack? If you are, great – you’re an anomaly – continue on! But most of us, myself included, just spin in circles when we go that route. It’s a form of procrastination that comes up out of fear! Don’t fall for it!

I find it helpful to look at how long you think it could reasonably take to accomplish the goal and break it down into 3 or 4 month increments. How many of the steps can you accomplish in 3 months time? If your goal is something that will take a year to accomplish, you would need to take action on 1/4 of the steps in your total list to be on track to complete the goal in one year’s time. (One year is just an example – depending on your goal, you may be looking at multiple years or only a few months) After those 3 or 4 months are up, check in – how are you doing? Are you on track? Great! Schedule out the next 3 or 4 months worth of action steps. If you’re not on track, assess what needs to change to get you there. Do you need to extend out your goal time line? Are certain steps taking longer than you planned? That’s ok – that’s reality! Maybe you’ve discovered that tasks you thought you could get done in 2 hours actually take you 5. Now that you know that you’ll have a more realistic schedule for the next few months. Once you know where you need to change things, get to work at scheduling those tasks!

Is it freaking you out to think 3 or 4 months out in the future? Ok. What steps can you take this week and next week? Start there and once you accomplish those you’ll build confidence that will help you be bolder in the weeks following.

Use any calendar you want for this task! I like using my google calendar because it updates on all the devices I use but you can use anything that you will be consistent using!  A paper calendar or a day planner like the Passion Planner or Leonie Dawson’s Workbooks are great options too (and can even help you get clearer about what you really want).

Next honor yourself by actually taking the actions you have planned and scheduled out. Showing up is the hardest part sometimes! Even if you get so far as to put all your steps in your calendar, a lot of us will get up each day and choose to ignore that calendar. Make a commitment to look at it each evening – so that you already have an idea of what you need to take care of tomorrow. I know you make time to be prepared for work meetings, doctor appointments and all of your children’s activities. These are all in your calendar and you make sure that they happen. You wouldn’t dream of blowing them off! Do the same for the action steps for your goals. Treat them as you would anything else that is important to you! They are not negotiable.

Don’t put something in your calendar that you have no intentions of doing. And if you have no intention of taking that step, please ask yourself why? What is holding you back?

That’s it. That’s how you make a goal a reality. 

There’s no magic to reaching goals other than having a clearly laid out path of action and then committing to yourself to take it.

And here’s something to remember if you still feel like it’s too much work to tackle that goal – know that that time is going to pass no matter what. So you’ll either reach that point in time having achieved what you wanted or you’ll reach that same point in time wishing you had started back when you first started thinking about it. Why not start right now?

You may be thinking “but my goal is more complicated than that! I can’t plan actions towards it!” But that’s very unlikely. The majority of goals can be broken down into small actions that added up over time equal the end result. If you’ve ever lost weight or got a job, any job, how did it happen? I’m guessing you went on a diet, started an exercise program, counted calories or something similar when you lost weight. And how long did you do it for? And how strictly? You took repetitive steps that resulted in weight loss. Same with getting a job, even if we’re talking a job at the mall food court in high school – at the bare minimum you walked into a business and filled out an application, probably received and answered a phone call and showed up on your first day of work.  Those are all actions, as basic as they may seem. Bigger goals, just mean MORE actions.

Sometimes the hard part is seeing the steps to your goal clearly – it’s tough to get started at all if you don’t know where to begin! If you need help translating this formula to a goal in your life, let’s set up a time to chat!  I can help you determine if your goal is reachable and how you can get there.

Do you want to feel overwhelmed this Christmas Season?

How do you want to feel? You can make it happen.

How do you want to feel? You can make it happen.

Think about your past 5 holiday seasons. Do you have warm happy memories of them? Or do you feel stressed and overwhelmed at the thought of it being yet another December?

I love it and hate it at the same time. There’s a warmth, a feeling of love and goodwill in the world that I feel at Christmas time that just isn’t there the rest of the year. I have fond memories of Christmas from my childhood. As an adult, I hate how long my to do list is, the crowds, the traffic and the constant beckoning from retailers to buy more everywhere we go. But Christmas doesn’t have to make us want to pull our hair out. We don’t have to sacrifice our happiness or health for the happiness of others. For a long time, I struggled with this. I thought I just had to accept the chaos and stress that came with the season.

What If I told you that you could feel more of what you want to feel this holiday season? That there is room for what you want and for what you want for others?

By taking a few minutes to get clear about how you want to feel, you’re more likely to take actions that will get you there – instead of wishing the month was over already! How different will this and future holidays be if we spend more of our time in a way that we truly want?

Get a pen and a piece of paper and write down the answers to these 2 questions:

  1. What feelings do you want to feel more of?
  2. What feelings do you want to feel less of?

I want to feel more joy, calm and content.

I want to feel less frazzled, overwhelmed and exhausted.

I can have those feelings. You can have more of whatever you wrote down also.


By doing more of the things that bring us the feelings we want. By doing less of the things that bring up the feelings we don’t want.
Holiday Blog page content photo

We are in charge of how we want to feel. We make choices daily, hourly, that affect this. If I choose to overeat, that is going to make me feel stressed and sick. I know this. I also know that eating nourishing foods in appropriate amounts makes me feel good. Choosing to eat well means I feel good more of the time. I want to feel good, so I’m going to take more actions that help me feel that way.

If I want to feel more joy, calm and contentedness, I need to get in touch with what brings me those feelings and then take action on those things. Again this starts with writing things down (it makes it real, concrete and more likely to happen!):

Get that pen and paper out again and write down your answers to these 2 questions:

  1. What specific actions will you take this month to feel more of the feelings you want to feel?
  2. What specific actions will you stop doing or do less of to reduce feeling the way you don’t want to feel?

You can follow my example below.

This month, to create more joy, calm and contentedness in my life, I will do the following:

To feel more Joy – I will spend more time with friends, more quality time with John, make more time for my genealogical research projects. I will only say yes to invitations that bring me joy. I will decline those that don’t.

To feel more Calm – I will get a good sweaty workout in at least 5 days a week. I will read a book at bedtime (instead of being on my phone) and I will not have more than 2 cups of coffee per day (a 3rd one managed to sneak in since we got a Moccamaster coffee maker a few weeks ago – it makes coffee irresistibly smooth).

To feel more Content – I will spend more time reflecting on all the wonderful things in my life by meditating 3 times a week and compiling a daily gratitude list. I will not give any more attention to the things that make me anxious (worrying doesn’t fix anything). I will reduce the amount of time I am on social media for non-business purposes.

To feel less frazzled, overwhelmed and exhausted – I will make sleep a priority, eat plenty of green and orange vegetables and allow for more quiet time for myself. I will eat the foods that make my body feel good and remember to avoid the ones that don’t.

There you have it, it’s like my own personal roadmap to happier holidays. If I make the actions I listed a priority and follow the path I’ve laid out for myself, I will enjoy the season a heck of a lot more. What about you? So, what do you want to feel more of and what will you commit to doing to feel that way?

Share in the comments. If you like this, please enter your email here (fyi -you get a free ebook download with signup).

Happy Thanksgiving and A Few Things I’m Grateful For

Untitled designWith Thanksgiving just 2 days away, I wanted to take a minute to wish you a happy day with your family and friends. We’re at the opening day of what will be a very busy holiday season for most of us, I hope you can take some time before it begins to reflect on the wonderful things you have in your life, even if things aren’t going super well right now. When I feel scared, overwhelmed or generally whiny – I run through a list of some of the things in my life that I’m sincerely grateful for – it doesn’t “fix” what might be wrong but it helps me put things back into perspective.

I am thankful for so much this year – here are a few things that I am overflowing with gratitude for right now:

My health – even when I’m dealing with an injury (currently nursing a jammed big toe joint) – there is so much I am able to do thanks to this incredible body I have been given. I am grateful for my mobility, for high energy, for restful sleep and for strength!

A supportive and loving husband – he works his tail off (with a 3 hour daily commute), he makes me coffee every morning and plays with my hair at the end of every day.

A warm and safe home – I get tired of driving so far all the time but I have all that I need here and more. I’m lucky that I even have a car to drive all that distance!

sweet pest of a kitty who brings me comfort on bad days and whose antics make me laugh the rest of the time.

Friends & family I can count on. My circle is small but it’s full of people I trust and who legitimately care about me.

Access to fresh and wholesome food – I may get tired of cooking sometimes (i’m human!) but I have so much healthy and fresh food at my fingertips. So thankful that we are in a position to feed ourselves well.

Being able to enjoy food on this day. It wasn’t too long ago that every bite of food was a struggle between treating myself and beating myself up. I’m thankful that I’m in a place where I can enjoy food socially but also stay true to what feels best for my body. This is an amazing gift. (Contact me if you want to figure out how to get there yourself)

Life – sometimes I’m just amazed that I am here on this planet at all. How lucky that I’m here out of millions of other sperm/egg combinations!

A fulfilling coaching practice – working for myself and helping other women create the life the want to have is supremely satisfying and I’m thoroughly thankful that this is my life .

You – whether you’re a client, friend, classmate or just a curious person who stumbled upon my site, I am grateful for you! Thank you for reading, thank you for your kind notes, thank you for your business and generous referrals! I couldn’t be doing this work without you.

What are you feeling thankful for right now? Do you regularly think about all the positive things in your life?  Have you noticed any benefits in your life with staying conscious of the things you are grateful for?

Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight (even though you’re giving it your all)

The most common complaint I hear is that someone “just can’t lose weight”. They believe they’re doing all the right things and they’ve tried “everything” but the scale won’t budge. They’re frustrated and ready to give up. I’ve even been here myself, several times. So what’s going on?

Everyone knows how dieters can get stuck on a plateau that last forever or that chronic dieters have been dieting for so long that their bodies don’t burn calories efficiently anymore. But what are some other reasons you can’t lose weight?

There are lots of them! I’m going to share the ones I think are most common that we tend to ignore! Why do we ignore these? Well, sometimes we’re not even aware that they could be a problem, and for others, we prefer to go the “easy” route and delving into some of this stuff is a bit harder! Read on – you never know, your solution could be in one of these paragraphs.

A Few Reasons Why You Might Not be Losing Weight:

You have a hormonal or metabolic condition that makes it difficult for your body to burn fat or causes weight gain. Hypothyroidism, PCOS, Metabolic Syndrome, Cushing’s Syndrome and natural hormonal changes like Perimenopause and Menopause are just a few of the medical/physical conditions that can make weight loss seem impossible (and weight gain seem inevitable). If you suspect that you have a medical condition that is getting in the way of your goals, talk to your doctor. There are tests that can diagnose all of these conditions and treatments that can help! And the sooner you know if you are dealing with a medical condition, the more effective all your efforts will be.


-You have a food sensitivity. Food sensitivities can cause us to gain weight, but we usually don’t know we have one! Food sensitivities are not the same thing as a food allergy. If you have an actual allergy to a food, it will usually show up in a blood test or skin prick test that you can have done by an allergist. When someone eats a food that they are allergic to, the symptoms usually happen relatively quickly (hives, itching, wheezing etc) and can be life threatening (such as in the case of someone with a peanut allergy with anaphylaxis). To learn more about food allergies and testing, visit FARE.

While food allergies usually are noticeably caused by the food in question, a food sensitivity can go completely unnoticed, as the symptoms and discomfort that come from the sensitivity happen so slowly over time that we don’t see them as related.  We usually only become aware that there is an issue with that food if we take it out for a period of time (like during an elimination diet) and reintroduce it. Food sensitivity symptoms can include many things that can appear to be from other conditions (or just a part of getting older) like bloating, body aches and pains, rosacea, asthma, constipation, diarrhea and weight gain. Food sensitivities are becoming increasingly common today (a few reasons include an increase in gut permeability & exposure to hormones) and many people who have a food sensitivity gain weight because the offending food causes an inflammatory response in the body. Interestingly enough, the foods we are sensitive to are often foods we eat frequently and have cravings for! Remove the offending food and weight starts to come off easily. If you need help doing an elimination diet to see if you have a sensitivity to the most common ones, let’s chat!


-You have self limiting beliefs. Do any of these sound familiar? “I’ve always been fat.” “I can’t lose weight.” “Losing weight is too hard for me.” “I’m just a big boned person.” “Everyone in my family is overweight.” “I’ll never be a normal weight.”For me, the thought was “I’m just a fat girl” – as if being “fat” defined who I was as a person.We make our weight mean something about us. Thoughts that we think over and over again become part of our belief system and when something is ingrained in our beliefs, like it or not, we take actions repeatedly that will provide evidence for that belief.

For example, if you believe that your weight is a direct result of just everyone in your family being naturally heavy or if you believe that it’s not possible for you to lose weight, how much effort do you think you’ll put into eating well or not eating too much? If you are like most people with these beliefs, you’re going to half-ass it! If you already believe you will fail, you won’t give it your all – because why give your all to something you know you can’t have? You’re not a bad person or lazy for doing this – it’s human nature. We won’t work hard at something we know we can’t have.

But you don’t HAVE to believe these things are true. It’s a choice to believe these things about yourself. Change your belief and you will change your future. To open up the door, start asking yourself empowering questions, like: What if I could lose weight? What can I do today to make weight loss more likely? Is eating this food in alignment with the person I want to be? See where that takes you!


-You’re holding onto emotional weight. This is where I’m gonna get a little woo-woo and won’t provide scientific facts to back me up – just personal experiences and observations but I have a feeling you’ll get what I’m talking about and see how it can cause issues with your weight.

Sometimes we gain weight and can’t lose it because we are holding on to something that we believe or think about ourselves on such a deep level that it becomes what I like to call “emotional weight”. The belief doesn’t even have to actually be true to weigh us down – it just has to be something that we think must be true! For example, maybe you got the impression as a child that you weren’t lovable – so to prevent people from loving you, you gained weight to protect yourself from what you saw as inevitable rejection. Or perhaps you got a lot of attention from the opposite sex when you were young that made you feel uncomfortable, so you gained weight in the hopes of reducing that unwanted attention.

The weight was a physical way for us to build up a wall around ourselves to keep others out or to keep believing whatever it is we want to believe about ourselves.  Emotional weight prevents us from being who we want to be, it gives us an excuse to hold ourselves back, it keeps us playing small and safe. We think it’s protecting us in some way to continue living that story or belief about ourselves, but all it’s really doing is limiting our potential.You may not even realize there is some deep emotional root to your weight gain – many of us get stuck here and can stay here for years until we recognize that the reason we are unhappy in our bodies is because we are stalling ourselves in other ways.

If you can let go of whatever is weighing you down emotionally, often we start to lose weight. Release whatever is holding you down emotionally and weight loss will happen naturally. Don’t know how to that? Schedule a consult with me to discuss it.


-You’re super stressed out. High levels of stress cause us to release lots of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone – and when this happens too often we gain weight, especially in the belly. In early times, this release of hormones helped us to stay alive by giving us quick energy to escape predators and increasing fat storage in case we were without food for long periods of time!

Today, many of us enter that fight or flight mode daily due to situational stress, (most of which isn’t a threat to our lives), and our body (amazing machine that is is) prepares us to deal with it by making sure the body is prepared for famine or being on alert. When we’re chronically stressed, the body thinks that we’re at risk for starvation so it starts to store fat in case we need it later (because thousands of years ago food wasn’t at our fingertips like it is today). When this happens on a daily basis, you can see how difficult it will be to lose weight if your body believes you are in danger and need all the fat stores it can make! Even more annoying is that while under acute stress, most folks lose their appetites, but when the stress is chronic, we actually get the urge to eat more – so you end up with eating more which contributes to the fat storage.

If you’re under high levels of stress, or even moderate stress but don’t handle it well, try making stress relief a priority in your life. Gentle exercise like walking and yoga, movement like tai chi and qigong, deep breathing exercises, massage, evening baths with epsom salt, journal writing, meditation and avoiding caffeine may help! As you reduce your stress level, the weight may come off more easily.


-You’re eating more than your body needs. This is the category that most of us fall into. It’s not something we like to hear, but most of the time, the reason we gain weight and the reason we can’t lose weight is because we are taking in more food than our bodies are using for fuel. This happens for a lot of reasons, a few that you may relate to are:

1.   We’ve gotten very disconnected from our bodies and don’t listen to hunger & fullness signals to determine when to start and stop eating. This means we eat more and more often! When was the last time you actually felt true hunger in your body?

2.   As a society, we eat a lot of foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, these foods make us feel good in the short term but they spike and crash our blood sugar, making us feel ravenous later, again leading to eating more food than we can use.

3.  We live sedentary lives, spend too much time driving, on the computer watching TV and not enough time moving around so we don’t burn enough calories to use up the food we eat.

4.  We turn to food when we’re upset, sad, frustrated, lonely or even happy. When we do this, we usually consume large quantities of food in a short period of time and do it on a regular basis.

5. We eat massive portions that restaurants serve and start serving ourselves those same sized portions at home even though they are way more food than our body needs. It’s just what we’re used to, so we eat it!

How do you deal with this? Take an honest inventory of your habits. Some people may need to try weighing their food with a kitchen food scale (to determine whether they’re having 1 serving or 4) or get back in touch with their bodies natural hunger signals.


-You’re self-sabotaging yourself. You eat well and exercise for a couple of weeks, then decide to “reward” yourself for your hard work by having a cheat day, but that cheat day turns into you falling off the wagon for three weeks. Or you have been stuck at the same weight for a year, despite exercising 5 days a week and eating well 5 days a week but every Friday and Saturday night you have a few drinks and then after your drinks decide to eat chocolate, ice cream or whatever else strikes your fancy. You’ll worry about your “diet” on Monday! Or, you drop 20 or 30 lbs and while super excited about your progress, you start to purposely sabotage yourself because there is a part of you that is completely freaked out about going below a certain weight. We use weight to protect ourselves sometimes (see the point on “emotional weight” above) and even though consciously we want to lose weight, sometimes we’re more comfortable at the weight we’re at than we want to believe. In fact some of us actually don’t want to lose weight but have been conditioned by society to believe that we need to in order to be happy, so we struggle to lose weight even though it’s not even something we want for ourselves!!

So how do you stop sabotaging yourself?

Self sabotage is a complicated beast but for most it goes back to getting in touch with our feelings. Do you feel guilty or berate yourself when you something that isn’t on your “diet”? Then you’re going to self sabotage. Do you use food to comfort or reward yourself? That’s self sabotage. Getting to your why is key to putting an end to it. Find out why you are doing this to yourself and then come up with some good reasons to stop doing it – without judgement and with love! Go back to why you want to lose weight in the first place – what’s your motivation? How will losing weight change your life? Is there anything that scares you about that? Is there anything that excites you? Own up, be honest with yourself. This is your ride and you’re in control of it.

So what do you think? Could one of these be troubling you? What are some other unknown reasons you think people have trouble losing weight? Please share with me in the comments!

If you are having a difficult time losing weight and aren’t sure where to turn next,  I sincerely hope you will contact me. I have helped many women get over hurdles that were blocking their success and I’d love to help you do it too.

Are you looking to give your body a little reset after summer indulgences? Consider joining us for the September 14, 2015 round of the 12 Day Detox program. This is an online program that will help you embark on a whole foods lifestyle with lots of support, recipes and even a coaching call with me! Only $67 for the whole program – which is a steal!

Did you hear? The 12 Day Detox Program is returning September 14, 2015. Join us!

Did you hear? The 12 Day Detox Program is returning September 14, 2015. Join us!

Yes, You Really Should Write That Thought Down

I’m a big advocate for writing things down. I have a journal collection that now spans decades (though I slacked heavily shortly after I met John and only in the last year or two have I picked it up again!). I write details on the back of every photo I’ve ever printed (names, dates, locations etc). In college, I could bang out a paper at the last minute in just a few hours. I still tend to write my shopping lists on paper – despite having every list making app available literally at my fingertips on my phone.

Despite all this writing, my handwriting is a mysterious scribble that can only be understood by me. (Apologies if you’ve ever been the recipient of a card or letter from me – odds are you are still trying to figure out what I wrote but are too polite to ask!). Writing is just a huge part of who I am, and always have been.

I promise with all this writing, I’m not just anal about details! Something I’ve noticed over the years, is that when I write things down they become more concrete in my brain. The act of writing (as opposed to typing or just thinking about something) creates memories that are more firm. It’s a long running joke with my friends and family that I have an insane memory and I’ll never let you forget something. Mention one detail, “oh that night we went to ______” and I can often tell you who was there, what we ordered and where we went afterwards. I might even be able to tell you what I was wearing! Possibly what you were wearing too! I’m not special, I don’t have super abilities or anything – the reason I am able to remember these types of details so clearly even years after an event is because of my dedication to writing things down.

The reason I’m telling you all this isn’t to pat myself on the back for being a pen-wielding computer of memory but because writing things down can be an incredibly important way to work through our feelings, including our issues with food and solidify new habits! I have a few clients who definitely don’t love it when I suggest they do a writing exercise – but every one of them who is willing to do it ends up seeing benefits from it!

This is also one reason why I often ask folks who are having trouble losing weight or are unhappy with their food choices to keep a food journal. It’s not about calories or fat grams – it’s about becoming aware of what we are putting in our bodies and not hiding from ourselves. Writing it out makes it all the more real! It’s a great way to get to know yourself a little better and see what you are really thinking about.Joan didion quote for blog post

Here are some of the benefits writing can bring to your life:

  1. Self – exploration & clarity. Writing things down helps you figure out how you are feeling. If you tell me you don’t know why you’re overeating when you get home from work, I’ll suggest you “dump” all your thoughts out on paper (without judgement or trying to write fancy – just get them out!) and I bet you’ll discover something there that gives you an answer. Writing helps us tap into parts of ourselves that we have a hard time accessing otherwise. Getting to know yourself better is one of the best ways to change yourself for the better.
  2. Better Memory. Write things down so you don’t forget! Ideas and thoughts can be fleeting – what you think you’ll remember later, you’ll forget as soon as you stop thinking about it and you’ll wonder what that great idea was! How many times have you walked into the grocery store thinking that you’ll remember all the things you needed and promptly arrived home missing some of the important ones?! (Oh, is that just me??) Write it down to make it come to life.
  3. Firmer goals. Writing down goals makes them more likely to be achieved. If you write it down, it becomes more real. It becomes a commitment to yourself. It’s a lot easier to ignore that you had a goal of not eating cupcakes at work when you only thought about the goal – writing it down gives it concreteness that will help hold you accountable.
  4. Stress relief. Writing can help us release stress and feelings that we are having difficulty letting go of. Ever experience that release that comes from talking to a good friend about something that has been worrying you? You can get a similar release of stress by writing about an experience (or your thoughts/feelings). It’s very cathartic to write everything that is going on in our brains!
  5. Concrete evidence. Writing serves as a record of our progress. At the time, writing acts like a stamp on your memory and helps you let go of feelings and situations that are troubling you, but read those same writings months or years later and you will be able to see how far you’ve come in areas of your life. Sometimes we forget exactly where we were when we started and it’s easy to gloss over how much work it took to get where we are, but if it’s written down, you’ll have that to look back on, which can be a powerful tool to keep your motivation up!
  6. Cultivate positive feelings & self-esteem. If you’re someone who has a habit of thinking negatively about yourself, writing exercises can help you become aware of when/how you do that as well as help build more positive feelings for you – one thing I love to suggest is for clients to write a gratitude list before bed each night, a list of the things they did well that day, or things they love about themselves (physical or otherwise). For some these tasks are very hard at first – it’s hard to come up with things you love about yourself when you’ve been putting yourself down for years – but over time, it gets easier and in their day to day lives they feel more powerful, supported and able to go after what they want. This is such an awesome thing! Writing at bedtime inserts those thoughts gently into your subconscious so you wake up feeling the effects of that good stuff.

So you’re probably wondering what kind of writing can be helpful? And how to get started?

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Buy yourself a pretty journal or notebook. I don’t know about you but I’m more excited to write when I like the notebook. Call me shallow, I’m ok with that!
  2. Set aside one day a week or a certain time of each day where you will dedicate to at least 15 minutes of writing and stick with it. Put it on the calendar. If you’re more introspective in the morning, maybe that’s a good time to write. If you feel more free on the weekends, that might work better for you.
  3. Find a place that you enjoy writing. I always got more journal writing done when I left my home and went to a coffee house/cafe or outdoor park or beach. I’m more inspired in those types of places and don’t enjoy the distractions that can come from being at home (ug, I should really do those dishes!). When I was single and lived in a house with a bunch of friends, my room was my writing retreat. Find what works and inspires you!
  4. Decide what kind of writing you want to do. It doesn’t have to be formal or in a certain format and it can change however you like. You can write in prose, poetry or just random thoughts. It’s ok to have spelling errors and wacky punctuation. It doesn’t have to sound pretty or smart – it’s just about getting what’s in your head down on paper and seeing where it takes you.
  5. What should you write about? It’s up to you, really! You can just write about your day – what did you do? Who did you see? How did that make you feel?. You can write about things that are worrying you, bothering you, things that happened that made you happy, things that happened that frustrated you. You can write down goals and use a journal as a way to track your progress with them. You can even use a journal to draw and color and tap into your creative side! You can write down old memories – maybe for you, writing could be a way to document your personal history! (This is where my genealogy hobby intercepts my coaching business, haha!) Where did you grow up? Who were your best friends? Where did you go to school? Who was your favorite relative? What sort of food did your family eat? etc.  Lastly, you can also look for writing prompts if you’re the type who draws a blank when you put pen to paper – just do a google search “writing prompts for self-discovery” or “writing prompts for goal setting” etc. Insert whatever subject you might want to explore and when you find some writing prompts that interest you – write one down on each page of your journal and then as you have time to write you can fill in each prompt.
  6. Shameless plug here – Join the September 14, 2015 round of the 12 Day Detox program. It’s a whole foods based program that will help you connect with your body – but each day there are writing activities that can help you get started writing!

That’s really all you need to get going! One word of advice – try to not have judgements about what you are writing or how your writing should look or sound. This is just for you and no one else needs to read it (unless you want them to). You don’t need to censor your thoughts – we do enough of that elsewhere in our lives! Lastly, just do it! Commit to doing some form of writing for at least a few months (whether it’s daily or once a week) and if you don’t see a benefit from it after that, go ahead and stop, but I’m guessing you will be able to come up with at least a few positives that have come from it!

Have you found benefits to journaling or doing writing exercises? Please share with me in the comments! (And if you dig this kind of stuff, consider joining my email list in the green box below!)

5 Common Health Myths You Can Ignore

With how much time we all spend using media today (smartphones, tablets, watching TV etc), it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the non-stop health info that comes at us! Because of this, we pick up bits and pieces of the things we hear and one of the problems that comes with that is we end up perpetuating a lot of stuff that isn’t true! Today I want to dispel 5 myths that a lot of people believe. I hear them constantly – and sometimes I want to bang my head against a wall because some of them are just outright lies! Misinformation is not our friend!

5 Common Health Myths You Can Ignore (because you

1. Myth: Celery is high in sodium so you shouldn’t eat it if you’re trying to lose weight.

Truth: Celery does have sodium in it (about 35 mg per stalk) so yes, if you are eating a ton of celery you will ingest a good amount of sodium. But do you know what has more sodium than celery? Virtually every processed food in our stores – a slice of bread can have anywhere from 80 mg to 300 mg of sodium in it, that can of soup that you had for lunch today? Anywhere from 400 mg to 1000 mg (depending on if you had 1 cup or if you had the entire can – 2 servings).  So while celery does contain a bit of sodium, it contains far less than many other foods you are likely already consuming and not worrying about.

Celery also contains beneficial nutrients like Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and fiber and even contains phytonutrients called phthalides that act like a diuretic – so despite the sodium content, celery may actually help you feel less bloated. And lastly, we actually need some sodium for our bodies to function properly and if you are eating a mostly whole foods diet, it’s actually pretty difficult to eat too much of it sodium. My recommendation is to look at the sodium content of other foods in your diet (the processed ones) before ditching celery.

2. Myth:  Lettuce has no nutrition in it – it’s just water.

Truth: If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I would be a very rich woman!  Lettuce, is rich with nutrients – like Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate, fiber, potassium and even some of the B Vitamins. When it comes to lettuce, it’s true that the darker the variety, the more packed with nutrition it will likely be – so yes this does mean that romaine lettuce is more nutrient dense than iceberg lettuce – BUT that does not mean that iceberg has nothing in it! Even 1 cup of iceberg lettuce provides a moderate amount of Calcium, Potassium, Folate and Vitamins A and K! So go ahead and eat it and eat others too. Variety is important! It’s also packed with water and most of us could use more hydration.

3. Myth:  That products that have “superfoods” in them are better than real food.

Truth: The term “superfood” is a marketing term that has no legal definition in the USA. While the term “superfood” is generally used to describe foods that are recognized as having a high concentration of nutrients (antioxidants are often super concentrated in some of these foods), this doesn’t mean that the food described this way is in fact good for you! Blueberries, cacao and broccoli have all been described as superfoods – no big deal, these are healthy foods when consumed in their pure form! But protein bars that use the term “contains superfoods!” in their products that contain junk like hydrolyzed soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, food coloring and other junk hardly become a health food just because they added some blueberry extract or a 1/2 tsp of cacao powder. Yes, acai, goji berries, maca and coconut all have some amazing properties and nutrients but you don’t have to eat them to have a healthy diet – and no superfood product (even with a high concentration of health foods) is going to reverse the damage that a crappy diet can create. The bottom line is we need to Ignore marketing buzz words and read ingredient labels. Then you can use your best judgement before falling prey to this type of marketing BS!

4. Myth:  If you don’t eat grains, you won’t get enough carbohydrates.

Truth: There are lots of sources of carbohydrates that have more nutrients in them than grains. You don’t need to eat grains to get carbs in your diet. To be honest, most of us are eating far too many carbohydrates and could actually use a reduction of them!

Back in 1992, the USDA introduced to the Food Guide Pyramid which recommended Americans eat 6 – 11 servings of grain per day and while the guidelines for Americans have changed, many people still remember this original recommendation and are eating large quantities of grain products every day. But for many of us, eating lots of grain can be problematic – leading to weight gain, uncontrolled blood sugar and (ironically) excess feelings of hunger – especially because most of the grain we eat in this country is heavily refined. Cutting down on the amount of grains we consume can help stabilize blood sugar and crazy food cravings – and guess what? If you feel like you aren’t getting enough carbohydrates, there are plenty of other sources out there!

Vegetables are a great source of carbohydrates and they having far more nutrients in them than grains. High carbohydrate vegetables include potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas and parsnips. Moderate carbohydrate vegetables include celery root, rutabaga, pumpkin, eggplant and tomatoes. Low carbohydrate vegetables (but still contain some) include lettuces, zucchini, mushrooms, bok choy, radishes and cabbage. And don’t forget fruit – most fruit are very high in carbohydrates. The key to feeling satisfied as you transition from a high grain diet to a low grain (or no grain diet) is eating plenty of high fiber vegetables, good sources of fat and plenty of protein.

I personally eat a low grain diet these days and I feel much better than I did in the days when I ate so many grain products! Try it!

5. Myth:  Lifting weights will make you bigger.

Truth: Eating more than our bodies need will make us bigger. Lifting weights (as a woman) will make you stronger, leaner and your muscles more defined. It will not make you get bigger. People who body build to create mass actually have to eat quite a bit (and very carefully & cleanly), they may supplement with protein powders, creatine and other supplements that speed up growth, and lift very heavy and very frequently to increase their size. Increasing your size with muscle is NOT something that just happens by accident when you lift weights casually once or twice a week. It is not something that will happen when your strength training is 15 minutes twice a week. It takes dedicated (hours upon hours of) work and a strict diet plan.

If you think you are getting bigger from lifting weights, odds are it’s a temporary fluid swelling that comes directly after a strength session (it’s part of how the muscle tissues repair themselves)! One of my favorite things to do before a night out if I’m wearing a sleeveless top/dress is to do a couple sets of pushups right before I leave – because they swell and it helps my muscles to look more defined! And this girl dreams of having super sculpted arms!

Lifting weights will make you strong and look good (and it’s a great insurance policy for keeping our bones strong as we age). I promise you won’t get big from lifting a few weights (unless you don’t stop eating when you’ve had enough on a regular basis). If anything, lifting weights will help you burn off extra fat – as pound for pound muscle burns more calories than fat does and strength training heavy gives you a temporary boost in metabolism that will help you burn more calories in the hours after your session. Go lift ladies!

Are there any common health topics or myths that you have questions on? Feel free to post them in the comments!

5 Simple Changes You Can Do Daily to Increase Your Health

IMG_5410I know I’ve been writing about some heavy-ish topics lately – all the emotional eating and self love & responsibility stuff that has to happen in order for us to transform our lives (and boy do I think those things are important) but since it’s crazy hot summer I thought I’d send out something a little less heavy and easier to digest!  Today I’m sharing 5 super simple things you can do daily to increase your health and I’m challenging you to do them.

They’re super simple – there’s no reason why you and I can’t do every single one of these starting right now.

So what do you say?  Will you accept this challenge?

5 Simple Changes You Can Do Daily to Increase Your Health

1. Add one more vegetable to your daily diet. Very few people eat enough vegetables. Even those of us that like them find some days it’s just hard to fit them in.  Vegetables are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and are low in calories so they won’t contribute to weight gain.  Choose something green or vibrantly colored. Doesn’t matter if it’s fresh, frozen or canned (just choose BPA free cans if you can) and they can be cooked or raw. Some folks digest cooked vegetables easier than raw so if that’s what it takes to get you to eat them – cook away!

2. Cut back on some of the sugar from your diet. I know. I really should be recommending that you cut out all processed sugars from your diet (and sincerely I do, but I want to meet people where they are and help them get from A to Z without falling off a cliff on the way!). Take a look at some of the foods you eat on a daily basis – coffee in the morning, a yogurt a breakfast, salad with dressing at lunch etc. Could you cut down from 2 or 3 sugars per cup of coffee to 1 or 2? Could you try a different brand of yogurt that has a few less grams of sugar added? How about the salad dressing? Most have lots of sugar added – straight up extra virgin olive oil and a vinegar or lemon juice will do the trick for 0 g of sugar. Cut down the sugar, just a little on the foods you consume every day and it will make a big difference over time (and you won’t even really miss it!).

3. Add in one more glass of water to whatever you are drinking currently. Some of us are awesome about drinking enough (gold star here!), while others seem to really struggle with it.  Water is vital! Our bodies use it for so many different processes: flushing waste, transporting proteins and carbs in our blood, regulating our body temperature and more.  Without enough of it, you’ll feel sluggish and are more likely to mistake thirst for hunger, leading to eating food we don’t really need (and often of the variety that’s not so great for us). If you don’t like water, try adding fresh lemon, lime, mint leaves or grated ginger to it!

4. Add in 5 minutes of exercise to whatever you are doing now. Odds are, you are someone who gets a decent amount of exercise or you are someone who gets virtually none. If you are in the later category, you may see starting an exercise routine as something very difficult to start with the demands of your current lifestyle. In that case, most people will opt for never beginning at all, rather than doing what they can, when they can. Why? Why settle for 0?? What’s stopping you from doing something, anything? Get up right now and walk for 5 minutes – even if it means doing circles around the office or in your kitchen. Drop down to the floor and do a few pushups, squats and tricep dips. Maybe throw in a few crunches. No change or clothes or equipment needed. Toddlers and babies can be included. Just commit to 5 minutes! If you can do more, good for you! If you can’t, at least you did 5 minutes which is more than a lot of people out there! At first, it may make you more tired, but with a little time (commit to at least 21 days in a row!) it will become a habit you can’t live without and you may even find ways to add more time to your routine.

5. Do one stress relieving self-care type of activity every day. Stress is one of the biggest killers in this country and yet most of us do little to manage it. If you were diagnosed with diabetes, you would take steps to control it. If you were diagnosed with MS, you would do all that you could to increase the quality and length of your life. So why do we pretend that stress doesn’t exist? It’s really silly! Sometimes we can’t reduce the causes of stress in our lives (family, work etc) but we can do something about relieving that stress on a regular basis. Everyone gets stress relief from different things – exercise, laughing with friends, massage, long bath, reading a good book, holding hands, using essential oils, meditation, having a cup of tea etc. It doesn’t matter what it is – find a couple of things that help you feel more relaxed and give yourself permission to do one every single day, even if you only get a few minutes of it. Treat it like the priority it is – your stress relief activities can work like preventative medication!

There you have it. 5 simple things you can do right now! Do you think you can make these changes? Why or why not? What can you do to make them a part of your day? If you like reading this type of content please sign up for my email list in the green box below and share with anyone who you think may also benefit from it.

(Ps. Did you do last week’s homework? I’d love to hear from you if you did!)

Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!


Your Feelings Have a Message for You. Are you Listening?

Image courtesy of photostock at

When we overeat instead of feeling our feelings, we’re rudely silencing ourselves.  (Image courtesy of photostock at

Last week, I wrote about how one of the things you need to do if you want to stop eating emotionally is to get back into your body. This week I want to talk about another aspect of halting emotional eating. This time, it’s about listening to what the feelings we avoid feeling might be trying to tell us. We must make sure that we are being heard.

I can’t tell you how many times I reached for food as a way of comforting myself for feeling sad, lonely, lost, uninspired, demoralized, frustrated, stuck (insert any crappy feeling here). I can tell you that once I realized I was emotional eating that it didn’t make it easier to stop.

I can tell you that there were times I knew full well that the eating I was planning on doing was actually going to make me feel worse than I felt to begin with – yet I still shoved handful after handful into my mouth. Feeling physically terrible and emotionally bad about what I just did (eating those feelings!) somehow felt less bad than whatever vague discomfort or frustration I was feeling before. I thought I was eating to feel better yet feeling “better” actually meant making myself feel worse.

The remedy for my uncomfortable feelings was to make myself feel so bad that I forgot for a little while what I was feeling so bad about! And feeling so awful only confirmed for me whatever negative things I was thinking about myself (I’m out of control, I’m a failure, what is wrong with me?) so the urge to do it all over again was stronger the next time I felt bad.

When we use food as comfort or to numb out, we are really trying to find a way to distract us from whatever it is we don’t want to feel.

Why do we need to distract ourselves? Why is feeling unpleasant feelings so awful? Where do we get the idea that there are some feelings too unbearable to feel? What went wrong for so many of us that this is how we deal with bad/negative feelings?

Let’s pretend for a minute that instead of turning to food when we feel something that feels overwhelmingly bad to us, that we decide to just feel that feeling. We don’t try to push it away, avoid it, wall up against it or resist it. What is the worst thing that can happen from feeling that way? Nothing, aside from feeling something uncomfortable for awhile.

There is nothing all that bad about feeling a feeling. It will come over us in waves, sometimes getting stronger before all is said and done (but if you’ve ever been in the ocean, you probably know how to ride a wave back to the shoreline). It’s just a vibration in the body – just a sensation.  And all feelings pass.  Good feelings pass. Bad feelings pass. We can’t be happy every day, every moment for all of our lives and we certainly won’t have bad feelings every moment of our lives. So why do emotional eaters treat them as if we let them in for one second they’ll never leave? For some, it’s a legit fear of the feeling – they can’t bear to feel it. But for others, it’s more than that.

Part of the reason we avoid uncomfortable feelings is because sometimes those negative feelings have a message for us and we might not be ready to listen, because listening to them means we need to do something about it. The message is that something needs to change and only you know what that something might be.

The need to run away is because those feelings might be trying to communicate that there is something in our lives that we need to change. Maybe we’re unfulfilled by our current situation or our potential is being limited by a job, a relationship, our way of thinking, destructive habits or something else. Uncomfortable feelings are the harbingers of a problem we are concealing.

Sometimes making necessary changes is scary and overwhelming so since we aren’t ready to face it, we push the message away and send back a message of our own. The act of overeating to avoid feelings is a message we relay to ourselves that says:

  • “I don’t want to listen to what you have to say.”
  • “You’re not worth the effort.”
  • “No one cares.”
  • “Shut up.”
  • “Your needs aren’t important.”

By not dealing with our feelings and turning to food instead, we are conveying to an important part of ourselves that he or she isn’t worth being heard.

This brings up the question, if at our core WE are not willing to listen to ourselves, where else in our lives are we not being heard? Not expressing ourselves? Where else in our lives are we feeling silenced or silencing ourselves? Putting our needs last? Feeling ignored? Feeling stifled?

How can we expect to get anything we want or need in life or from those around us if we are not even willing to listen to ourselves?

If you aren’t willing to express your feelings to yourself, it’s very likely you aren’t expressing them in other parts of your life either.

When was the last time you asked for a raise at work? When was the last time you communicated to your partner your needs? When was the last time you sent back a meal at a restaurant that wasn’t how you wanted? Do you think of yourself as a “people pleaser”? If you see yourself in any of this, I’m sure you can add some of your own examples.

At the beginning of this blog post I said that once I realized I was emotional eating that it didn’t make it easier to stop. That’s true. But once I realized that I was silencing myself by ignoring my feelings with food it became harder to view my actions with the same harsh judgement. It opened up a door to kindness – which is essential to moving past it.

Think about this. You’re at a party where you don’t know many people. You finally see someone you do know but they’re in a group having a conversation. You walk over to the group and wait for an opportunity to say hello to your acquaintance and introduce yourself to the others. You make eye contact with your acquaintance and believe they recognize you. Finally there is a pause in the conversation so you start to speak – but as soon as you do, your acquaintance puts their hand up and talks over you. You wait for additional pauses so you can have your turn but the same thing happens again, and again, each time the person speaking talks louder to drown you out. You leave the party feeling invisible, awkward and like you weren’t heard at all.

It feels horrible to feel like we aren’t being heard.

In real life, we would feel so ashamed to treat someone else like the acquaintance treats us in the example, but we do it to ourselves all the time! We wouldn’t do it to another person, so why do we do it to ourselves?

I know many of you reading this will recognize yourself in this. Do you think you can treat yourself with a little more kindness? Be more open to messages you may be sending to yourself? What might your loneliness, sadness or frustration be trying to tell you?

When I finally started to listen to the message my feelings were trying to tell me, the message was that I deserved more, I wanted more and I was capable of so much more. The reason I didn’t want to hear that was because I wasn’t sure how to go about it. But guess what? It’s been much easier to figure that stuff out as I go than it was to keep stuffing it down and trying to avoid it.

For a moment, let’s go back to the part where we let ourselves feel whatever we’re feeling. Instead of reaching for food, we choose to let ourselves feel whatever it is we normally avoid. What happens if we survive feeling our feelings? (which we will). We get past the uncomfortable thing we don’t want to feel and end up on the other side.

If you actually let yourself feel the depth of what is bubbling up for you, you might just hear the message you need to hear. Maybe not all of it at first, but some of it. Maybe you’ll feel it deep enough that you are ready or inspired to do something about it. Even if you aren’t quite ready to do something about it, know that there is value even in just hearing yourself out and that the depth of your understanding and willingness to create change can increase the more often you practice these things. You’ll know you’ve made very real progress with feeling and listening when the urge to run from your feelings isn’t there anymore.

Don’t underestimate the power of feeling your feelings and allowing yourself to be heard. If you hear one message from this post today, make it this: stop silencing yourself with food.

Do you think there is a message you need to hear that you have been avoiding? What makes that message so difficult to hear? What do you think you need to do to feel more heard in your life?

Please share your thoughts in the comments. If you like what you’ve read here, please join my email list in the green box below so that you don’t miss out on what’s going on with Andrea and her coaching practice.

6 Things You Can Do To Have More Power Over Anxiety

photo credit: anguish via photopin (license)

Some simple things you can do to reduce the impact anxiety has on your life.   (photo credit: anguish via photopin (license))

In last week’s email I talked about some of the benefits I’ve experienced from my own meditation practice and one of those things was the effect it has had on my anxiety. Sending out that email made me realize that I haven’t talked much about anxiety in the whole time I’ve been keeping this blog. Since anxiety can be a huge factor in whether someone is able to move forward on their health or life goals and it’s something I personally have dealt with, I thought it might be a good time to talk about some other things that might be helpful if you are suffering from anxiety – because let’s be honest . . .there are more of us that are dealing with anxiety in some form or another than aren’t. Today I’m going to share 6 things I do that have given me more power over my anxiety (and I’ll share some about my struggle too). I hope some of these help you!

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting about 18% of the adult population. And that’s only those who have actually been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (and not including those under 18). I’ve had anxiety for years, and while I’m managing it very well these days, there have been times when it has been a major issue in my life and felt completely out of control. Long term anxiety and stress can lead to many health problems, so it’s really important to find ways to manage it if you suffer from it (even if you don’t have goals that it’s getting in the way of).

Despite how common it is, I’ve been a little shy about sharing my struggle with it in the public sphere (even though I’ve been very frank with my weight & emotional eating history), probably because there is still a big social stigma surrounding mental health.  Today I’m going to share because I’m in a place where my anxiety is pretty well managed (by some of the tools I’ll talk about today), I want others to know that they aren’t alone and I want others to see that even people who you think have their shit together, have probably struggled with things that you would never suspect. (Don’t worry, I don’t think anyone thinks I have my shit together. Just kidding, I have my shit together . . . it’s in a pile over there, but it’s still shit. Haha.)  I also think anxiety ties in easily with the to the emotional eating world – the two often go hand in hand.

My Anxiety Story
To give you a little background about my anxiety . . .I have a type of medical anxiety that is called “health worries”.  It started shortly after my Mom died in 2001 (though if I’m honest, I’ve always been squeamish about medical stuff – it just snowballed after 2001).  I remember lying in bed feeling like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. At the time, I was living pretty “hard” (lots of partying, bad food, crazy hours) and I remember thinking constantly that I was having a heart attack or that something else was seriously wrong with my body. As the years went on, that fear around my health got worse. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in my early 20’s and had to go through a bunch of tests over several months. The doctor was worried that my kidneys and heart were damaged from possibly having high blood pressure for years. Having to have all those tests when I was already scared about health stuff really put my anxiety in overdrive (thankfully those tests showed everything was ok) and there have been times when I was completely paralyzed by my anxiety. Every doctor appointment, test or even a random pain or sensation in my body that was abnormal for me could send me into a multiple day panic attack. I have had difficulty discerning when a pain or a feeling I have in my body is something that needs immediate attention or is nothing to worry about. And of course, with my anxiety, I’m terrified of going to the doctors (what if they find something terminal?) and also of what happens if I don’t go (what if it is something terrible and I’m ignoring it?). You can see how that loop can be hard to get out of during an episode.

Quality of Life Issue
That’s the cliff notes version of how my crazy anxiety works (which is more than you probably want to know I’m sure). A doctor once said to me, when I said I wasn’t ready to get help for it, that people only get help when their quality of life is compromised to a point that they feel is no longer acceptable. I didn’t understand what she meant at the time but several years ago I finally reached a point where I understood what she was talking about. The amount of mental and emotional energy I was using just to get by most days was completely exhausting.  I went to therapy for it, and have also done a ton of work on my own since then. I still have occasional anxious days that pop up but nothing that would stop me in my tracks for days like I used to. I have tools now that I use to halt the progression of my anxiety. They help me keep perspective, stay calm and grounded and I’m so glad I have them. I would never want to go back to feeling the way I used to (feeling out of control, smothered and vibraty all at the same time).

While my health anxiety manifests a little differently than other generalized anxiety disorders, the techniques I use to manage it are similar to those used with generalized anxiety – and can be very effective!  Try some of these and let me know if they help you at all!

6 Things You Can Do To Have More Power Over Anxiety

1. Exercise.
The first thing to go for me when I’m in the midst of anxiety is to stop exercising, usually because I’m so wrapped up in my fear that I become paralyzed but in reality, exercise is the best way to release some of the stress around the issue, get some feel good endorphins going again and concentrate your energy in a healthy way. It helps get your mind off of whatever you are worried about or at least gives you something to focus on other than the feelings your anxiety gives you. When my anxiety creeps in these days, I make sure to stick to my regular exercise schedule and doing that usually shortens the duration of my anxiety.  It doesn’t have to be something huge, even going for a short walk or a 15 minute yoga session at home can enough.  Getting in touch with your body and out of your mind for a bit can be immensely helpful.

2.  Tell someone about it.
This is something I didn’t see the value in until I was in therapy for my anxiety (which seems crazy to me now!). I used to actually keep all my worries and fears inside – part of me felt like my fears would get worse or be realized if I actually shared them with anyone.  But when I did finally share with my husband or a friend that something was on my mind, not only did I feel a huge sense of relief but it also allayed the extra anxiety that comes from thinking you are acting like a big weirdo during the attack (since they now knew the reason if I was acting like a weirdo). Sharing your worries, fears and anxieties with someone you trust can help you realize how much we build stuff up in our heads (to a huge deal) and it may seem like way less of a deal when you say it outloud. I find I’m much more likely to think rationally after talking about something with another person. Hearing their thoughts can be helpful too because they can be more objective. Hearing from someone who cares about you that the situation you are having anxiety about isn’t very likely to happen can make you feel world’s better. And if the situation is something that is legitimately likely to happen, these people who care about you can also be the ones who support you and help you get through it. Totally helpful either way!

3.  Write.
Journal! Free form or be specific. Just get it all out – say as much as you need to and I recommend good old pen and paper over typing/computer. When I’m dealing with my medical anxiety, I find writing especially helpful. There have been times when I felt completely paralyzed by my own thoughts and fears around my health.  One tactic that has been very helpful to use during a panic attack is to write a journal entry about it.

For me, it goes something like this:  What am I feeling? I write down what I’m feeling at that exact moment (for me it’s usually a pain or sensation somewhere in my body).  What do I think it is? I write about what I’m worried what it could be. Next I ask myself to get into my rational brain for a minute with What it is more likely to be? (odds are it’s just constipation or just my body being run down etc), and then I come up with a rational action plan. What and when will I do about it? For me, it might be something like “if this pain gets worse or lasts longer than 3 days, I’ll go to the doctor”.

Once I put it all down on paper I feel some relief just sheerly out of being able to express what I’m feeling, but also having an action plan written out, helps me to relax.  Sometimes my anxiety brain can’t understand when something is worth investigating and when it’s best to wait and writing helps me make sense of it all. It’s like I get stuck in a loop but writing halts that loop from continuing.

For general panic / anxiety, your questions and answers might look a little different – maybe something more like this (but please customize to what makes sense for your type of worries):

1. What am I feeling? (physical sensations, thoughts, feelings)
2. What am I having anxiety about? or What do I think I might be anxious about?
3. Do I actually have any real evidence that this is likely to be/ happen? If so, what?
4. What specifically can I do to feel more in control in this situation? And when will I take those actions?

Writing in a question / answer format might not feel right for your particular type of anxiety – I know for some folks, anxiety is a vague feeling of fear or worry (or just something not being right) – so writing about specific worries and action plans may not be possible. I’d still encourage you to write in a freeform style – to get all your thoughts and sensations on paper. Take some deep breaths and read it over when you are done. For many people just putting the thoughts down somewhere can be enough to take us down a notch!

Doing this will be hard at first – in fact you may not remember to even do it! But if you keep it in the back of your mind as a tool to try the next time you are freaking out you may be surprised by how much it can help. I find this one especially to be cumulative. The more I’ve resorted to it, the faster it brings me back to normal.

4.  Become aware of your thoughts and make the decision to change them.
Okay this one deserves a blog post on it’s own because it takes a lot of practice but to be as brief as possible, know this – ultimately, we’re in control of the thoughts that happen in our brains. I know it may not seem like it (and holy shit it doesn’t feel like it when you’re lost in anxiety land!), but we are the ones coming up with  thoughts (good or bad) and those thoughts that make us feel a certain way (anxiety, happiness, jealousy etc). The problem is, most of the time we’re not aware how ingrained these thoughts are in our brains. They’re so ingrained that it becomes an automatic response to a situation. This makes it very difficult to change it (unless you are willing to notice and call yourself out on it, repeatedly).

To become more aware of your thoughts, next time you feel anxious, I want you to try to recall (write it down) what thoughts made you feel that way. You may not be aware of the conscious thought at first – but it will become more apparent the more you give your brain this task to do. If you don’t want to wait until you’re anxious to do some of this type of thought work, try it the next time you find yourself feeling down or irritated – work backwards from that feeling and try to find the originating thought that made you feel that way. This kind of work helps us become more aware, which is the starter step for changing your response.

The good news is that once you are aware that you’re the one in control of your thoughts, that you’re the voice inside you that is thinking those things, you can work at managing and changing those thoughts.  For me, in the past this meant when an anxious feeling or thought came up that normally would send me into a tailspin, my old way of thinking was to go along with the thought (because our brains like to do what’s easy – and that’s easy) and build on it, look for evidence of it being true, which would increase stressful anxious feelings very quickly. My current response when an anxious feeling or thought comes up is to notice it, pause, say to myself “I’m not going to give that thought any power over me right now.”  A statement like that is powerful because it interrupts the natural evidence building process that goes on with anxious thoughts. I actually feel almost instant relief now when I feel anxious and I halt the thoughts in this way. It feels incredible to have some control over your brain.

It probably won’t work the first time you use it and the first few times you try to reroute your brain you might find that it halts the thought temporarily and then it comes back, but try a powerful statement again (even if you have to go at it a different way), and again, and eventually you’ll find it will have more staying power. You are literally retraining your brain how to think in these situations. It may help to practice changing your thoughts in less volatile situations at first – instead of trying it for the first time during an anxiety attack, try it when you have self-doubt about a situation at work or self-judgement about your body. Becoming skilled at managing your thoughts can be helpful in so many areas of our lives! (I will be sure to talk more about managing our thoughts in another blog post – because this is a huge subject and it is something that takes lots of practice!)

5.  Watch what you put (or don’t put) into your body.
I know you knew this one was coming. 🙂 If you’re a naturally anxious person, then it’s super important to pay attention to how different foods, drinks and other substances affect you – items in each of these categories can increase or decrease anxiety in certain people. Sugar (including carbohydrates from refined grain products), alcohol and caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety, especially in high quantities or in those who are very sensitive. Anxiety can also be a symptom of a food sensitivity or intolerance (and one way to determine that is through an elimination diet).  Low blood sugar can set off anxiety (if this sounds like you, you may want to keep balanced snacks of protein, fat and fiber on hand).  I know I’m far more anxious if I’ve drank more alcohol than I should (especially the day after) or if I reach for a 3rd cup of coffee. Know yourself and what you can tolerate.

Many supplements are touted to be beneficial for anxiety sufferers, including magnesium, valerian root, kava, chamomile, fish oil and several of the b vitamins – if you have any medical conditions or are on any medications it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking supplements (especially if you’re thinking about taking more than one).  And lastly, a whole foods diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and light on heavily processed foods is one way you can support your body from your toes, all the way to your head. Is a whole foods diet going to cure your anxiety? No, I’m not saying that, but if you give your body great nutrition, it’s better equipped to support you in every way, including mental health.

6. Breathwork.
I’ve already talked in previous posts about meditation being so helpful for anxiety – but in particular, to me, quiet time with deep and slow controlled breathing is one of the best things you can do during a panic attack or even during less acute anxiety.  A few minutes of slow diaphragmatic breaths will slow down your heart beat, reduce your blood pressure, relax muscles and the intake of fresh oxygen with stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which will help you feel more calm.

Unfortunately, breathing is one of the hardest things to do when we’re freaking out isn’t it?! We take shallow breaths which makes us feel like we can’t get enough air in, we’re breathing too fast or we have difficulty exhaling fully, all of which increases feelings of panic. If you feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen, it’s hard to think rationally or about anything else so in order to slow the anxiety down, first you have to slow your breathing down.

To slow yourself down, try this breathing exercise:  sit down in a quiet place and breathe in fully and slowly for a count of 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds (if this is prudent for your body – it may not be if you have any heart or respiratory conditions) and then exhale for 4 seconds. To make sure you are breathing from your diaphragm, put one hand on your belly when you inhale. Your belly should expand on the inhale and retract on the exhale. If you are breathing from your chest alone (too shallow) your belly won’t rise. Try breathe deeper into your body and try again. Do anywhere from 4 – 10 of these slow breaths and go back to your normal breath if you find you start to get dizzy.

Don’t be surprised if you feel sleepy and relaxed after!

Well that’s all for today. I hope some of these tips can help you if this is something you are going through. I know they’ve made a world of difference in my life.

One last note of importance, please, if you have been suffering from anxiety and aren’t having any luck reducing it on your own, please consider speaking with your doctor or a mental health professional for help. You don’t have to go through it alone and there are many resources available to increase the quality of your life.

If you have anxiety, what are your favorite tools or tricks for managing it?  Please share in the comments below.

Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

8 Steps to Painless Weight Loss

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of losing weight? For many people, it’s the idea of just how difficult the task will be. There are many people who won’t even start the journey because they have this idea about the process. They think losing weight has to be painful, boring and awful but it really doesn’t have to be. A few mind and habit tweaks and you’ll feel good the entire time the weight is coming off.

Here are my 8 Steps to Painless Weight Loss:

1. Love who you are right now.

It’s imperative that you love who you are right now and not just who you think you’ll be when you reach your goal weight. I know that’s easier said than done but when we spend precious mental energy on negative thoughts about ourselves, it’s much harder to chose to eat well and take care of ourselves. When you feel badly, you’re more likely to reach for and overindulge in comfort foods, which will lead you to feeling even worse about yourself and the cycle will continue. If you can accept and appreciate who you are right now with any perceived flaws, without judgement, there will be far fewer emotional obstacles that can detour to “Overeating City” on the path to where you want to be. Negative thoughts about yourself are just that, thoughts! And you can choose to think alternative ones. Besides, if you don’t like yourself now, who do you think you’ll be stuck with when you do lose the weight?

Love yourself now – not just when you reach goal weight.     (photo credit: Love Heart via photopin (license))

2. Eat foods you love and don’t eat the ones you don’t.

If you hate kale, chia seeds or maca, just don’t eat them. There are so many healthy and delicious foods out there that you can eat instead. There’s no reason to suffer and choke down foods that gross you out or whose texture you can’t stand and doing that for too long will actually make your efforts backfire. If you feel like you’ve been depriving yourself because you’ve been living off of cardboard then at some point you’ll just go completely off the rails. It’s much more sensible and less painful to eat foods you do enjoy because you can do it effortlessly. Just because it’s nutritious and popular doesn’t mean you have to jump on board. Hate kale? Try Swiss Chard, Collard Greens or Spinach. No big deal. Love french fries and don’t want to give them up? Try roasting potato, jicama or sweet potato wedges in the oven at home. It’s not the exact same but it will satisfy the craving (especially with a generous pinch of sea salt).

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

Stop eating kale if you hate it.        (photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc)

3. Find exercise that feels good to your body and you enjoy doing.

Running is an efficient way to get into shape but running in 10 degree weather seems more like a form of torture than exercise to me. Some people love jumping on an elliptical machine at the gym and doing their 30 minutes every night after work. Others would much rather get their exercise by going to group classes or by doing chores around the house. It doesn’t matter what you chose. The most effective and the healthiest exercise is . . . the one that you do! Getting into an exercise routine is so much easier if you like what you’re doing. If going to the gym is something you just can’t see yourself doing, then don’t join a gym. You can workout in your living room if that’s what you prefer! And don’t forget the importance of having it feel good for your body. I used to love running but after a few too many injuries, my feet just can’t tolerate it anymore. Instead of repeatedly attempting to get back into it, I’ve had to chose other activities that don’t cause pain. This way, I can stay active, instead of spending weeks or months out of commission. If it feels good, it’s going to be so much easier to make it a long term habit that’ll make you look and feel great.

My cutie pie husband biking in Calistoga, CA in 2011.

My cutie pie husband biking in Calistoga, CA in 2011.

4. Cook more at home.

Who doesn’t love to go out to eat? I know I do! But restaurant meals often have many more calories than the meals you would make at home and the portions are enormous. Restaurants often use far more cheese, butter and oils than you would ever use at home because their goal is to make a super delicious dish that you’ll come back and buy often. One study has even shown that people take in more calories in restaurants when served larger portions. When you cook the food yourself, you can create a similar dish of whatever it is you are craving, in a healthier way because you’re in control of the ingredients and the quantity that you eat. If you eat out 4 or 5 times a week and cut that down to once a week, the saved calories can really add up to effortless weight loss.

Also, cooking at home is a great way to expand your palate. Many of us tend to eat the same foods over and over because it’s what we know but when we take the time to prepare food at home regularly it gives us a chance to be adventurous and experiment with new foods and preparations. This can lead to more enjoyment of our meals so we’re less likely to continue snacking or looking for something to satisfy us.

Cook at home more!

Cook at home more!

5. Rethink strict time based goals.

While setting goals is important and can help give us the drive we need to create change, putting too much emphasis on how much time it should take you to lose weight can actually prevent you from being successful. How quickly we lose weight is dependent on many factors, including our age, sex, activity level, medical conditions and even stress levels. There will be times in our lives when losing weight is relatively easy and other times it will be more difficult. While calories in, calories out, works for many people, especially when they first take on a weight loss challenge, it’s not always that simple for everyone, and certainly not forever. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, try to focus on the big picture and work towards your goal day by day. Sometimes you’ll meet time based goals, other times you won’t. If there’s a ton of pressure to reach a time based goal and you push yourself but don’t meet it despite your effort, what happens then? In my experience, people often give up and gain back whatever weight they’ve lost to begin with because they feel not meeting that timeline is failure. If you’re eating well and getting exercise, there is no such thing as failure. Slow and steady wins the race, it’s not just a cliche, it’s the truth!
Calendar Test.tiff

6. Get rid of anything in your closet that doesn’t make you feel great.

I know you’re thinking you need to save your money and wear whatever clothing you have right now because when you lose all the weight you’re going to have to buy yourself a new wardrobe. It’s true, buying new clothes is very expensive, even when done frugally. But if your closet is filled with clothing that makes you feel terrible (it’s too big, too small, makes you look dumpy etc), when you wear that clothing, you’re going to feel terrible, and when we feel terrible, we’re not always so great at taking care of ourselves, right? Dressing well may seem like superficial, surface stuff, but it’s not superficial if it affects how you feel inside and the choices you’ll make that day. Wear clothing that makes you feel strong, beautiful and confident. If you don’t have any that makes you feel that way, go out and get yourself a few basic pieces that do that you can mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe. I promise you it will be worth the time, money and effort.

Only wear clothes that you feel confident in - get rid of everything else!

Only wear clothes that you feel confident in – get rid of everything else!

7. Accept that there isn’t a quick fix for losing weight.

If there was a magic pill that made weight loss easy, we’d all be taking it. If you want to lose weight safely and keep it off long term, then you need to learn how that’s possible. If you fall for a “quick fix” and it helps you lose the weight, what’s going to help you maintain your new weight loss? It’s a lot easier to do the work and then adapt that once you reach your goal, than it is to speed into your goal and stumble trying to figure out how to stay there. Constantly looking for something that can make us lose weight quickly sets us up for failure – fast weight loss usually is gained back. Why be disappointed over and over? Often, it’s poor habits that result in weight gain in the first place, so it’s important to create new & better habits slowly so that they stay with us for a long time. If you can accept that there isn’t a quick fix and you’re willing to do the work it takes to get there, then you are far more likely to be successful in the long run. And that’s what we really want, isn’t it?

Slow and steady means you'll arrive at your destination. photo credit: Ancient One via photopin (license)

Anything worth doing is worth working for, even if it’s slow paced!   (photo credit: Ancient One via photopin (license))

8. Connect with your Why.

Why do you want to lose weight in the first place? Is it motivated from somewhere inside of you? Or is your motivation coming from an external place – such as what someone else thinks of you or wanting to be seen in a bikini? While everyone’s motivation is different, having an internal personal reason for wanting weight loss is usually more powerful than an external motivator. Connect with a deep reason why losing weight is something you desire and you’ll be well on your way to reaching your goals.

I hope some of these tips help you to release some of the pain and pressure that we often associate with weight loss. We want to make your weight loss permanent – so we need to connect with things that support us and that we can do indefinitely.

If you like what you’ve read here, please consider signing up for emails from me (in the green box below). And if you think someone you know may benefit from this post, please email or share on social media (and thank you for sharing!). And as always, if you’d like some help getting to the bottom of your weight or food habits and struggles – contact me for a discovery session today. You are worth the investment in yourself.