Are You Too Focused on Your Weight?

I recently spoke to a group of women business owners and after the meeting I connected with a woman who, like me, has a passion for health. It was like finding my long-lost sister when she said “when women focus on their weight, it’s a distraction from the bigger things they’re here to accomplish.” Amen!

Now please don’t misunderstand me. Many of the behaviors people undertake in order to lose weight are essential, healthy behaviors. Reports estimate that in America alone more than $60 billion is spent annually on weight loss. But that includes things like gym memberships and meal replacement bars, which are not specific to weight loss.

But millions of us are spending time, money and – perhaps most significantly – head space focusing on losing weight. And it’s not working all that well. Not in the long-term anyway.

I trademarked Weight Breakthough® last year (yay!). And I had to fight for it. Here’s a small piece of my argument:

“Weight breakthrough is a state of mind, shattering what one believes to be true about her body and weight. The breakthrough is in realizing that how someone behaves in all areas of her life, affects her weight and how she perceives herself…her weight doesn’t define her, yet it’s often a reflection of how she treats herself.”

Simply, weight loss (gain) is a side effect of how we treat our bodies.

Photo by Vidmir Raic on Unsplash

The essence of what I work with my clients to do is captured in the tag line: enjoy food. love life. be you again. When healthy habits are boring, feel hard and deprive you of true enjoyment, it ends in feelings of failure. And those feelings, combined with weight cycling and the absence of genuine self-care, distract you. And too many women let this happen.

Instead, start with this three-step process to get clear on what’s keeping you stuck:

  • First, imagine life when you are healthy, strong and living out your personal mission (in business, with family and in your community). What does that look and feel like?
  • Next, consider what behaviors you need to consistently engage in to live life at that level. Really see yourself incorporating those behaviors seamlessly into daily life.
  • Lastly, identify what keeps you from carrying out those healthy behaviors right now. (Hint, if you know what you need to be doing, but you’re just not doing it, then it isn’t a lack of information.)

It’s that last piece that if you delve into provides the truest answer for the way forward. If you could use some support in breaking through what’s keeping you stuck so that you can create a lifestyle that has you living at the level you want, schedule a strategy session. Let’s see if we’re a good fit together.

My friends, we have more important things to do than weigh ourselves daily, pick apart our bodes or compare ourselves to others. And we don’t need to eat foods we don’t like or do exercises we dread. We can enjoy food, love life and be who we are here to be.

Top 50 ways to enjoy food, be healthy AND lose weight

I have to like what I eat.

It’s not that every meal has to be 5-star. I know people who, when there’s “nothing to eat in the house,” graze on whatever is available, never getting satisfied, but over-eating in the process.

The common problem of people who hire me is that they’ve experienced healthy eating as boring and depriving. Or, as too hard. The changes they do try to make haven’t stuck.

Unfortunately, too many people think that enjoying food is opposed to healthy eating and weight loss. 

But it’s not true!

Take a look at these top 50 ways to enjoy food, be healthy AND lose weight:

  1. Eat with people you like – you’re likely to make better choices (e.g. you don’t seek “extra” enjoyment from food)
  2. Eat when you’re hungry – snacking/grazing when you’re not hungry is over-eating
  3. Experience gratitude for provision
  4. Slow down – chew, don’t swallow nearly whole
  5. Pay attention to the various flavors
  6. Create artwork on your plate – we eat with our eyes, too
  7. Notice the texture of your food
  8. Try new restaurants – keeps life interesting
  9. Order different meals at your regular haunts
  10. Order something you normally wouldn’t just because you think it’s too expensive
  11. Splurge on quality meals at home
  12. Make veggies taste good – there are ways (and not just with cheese 😃).
  13. Take a cooking class
  14. Search “tasty & healthy recipes” online
  15. Create appetizers from your favorite meals – a little goes a long way
  16. Don’t eat food you don’t like – Brussels sprouts for me? No, thank you!
  17. Avoid foods that don’t make you feel good – like a stomachache or headache
  18. Less is more – when you overeat, enjoyment is diminished
  19. Ask “How can I add ‘healthy’ to this meal?”
  20. Experiment with spices – just a little can transform a dish
  21. Stop eating meals in your car
  22. Stop checking email and social media while eating
  23. Eat alfresco
  24. Use fine linens
  25. Candlelight dining
  26. Sit down, rather than stand
  27. Turn off the TV
  28. Before eating, decide how you want to feel when you’re finished
  29. Find your umami – what hits your pallet just right?
  30. Check out cookbooks at the library – I got The Plantpower Way and made several recipes before deciding to buy.


    Vegan lasagna. This was so good!

  31. Blend up frozen berries for a delicious dessert
  32. Trade out white flour for whole wheat
  33. Use brown rice instead of white
  34. Try different grains, like quinoa
  35. Substitute apple sauce for 1/3 to 1/2 the oil in baked goods
  36. Learn to make delicious salad dressings – easy to whip up and make a big difference in taste
  37. Experiment with the plethora of vegetarian “burgers” on the market
  38. Eat half the bun of your hamburger (the whole bun is usually too big)
  39. Top a burger or sandwich with less condiments and more veggies
  40. Experiment with juicing – lots of concentrated nutrients in one glass
  41. Reduce the amount of sugar in your coffee/tea – train your taste buds to enjoy less
  42. Substitute olive oil mayo for the regular stuff
  43. Better yet, try using just mustard or smearing avocado on a sandwich or burger
  44. Try a turkey burger in place of beef
  45. Serve yourself smaller portions – then wait to see if you’re still hungry
  46. Have fresh herbs, like basil, readily available in your kitchen
  47. Legumes – a fiber-filled addition to many meals like scrambled eggs and salads
  48. Hummus – a healthier and heartier dip than, say, ranch dressing
  49. Have three healthy & tasty go-to meals that you can make in a pinch
  50. Focus more on adding, less on subtracting

Enjoying healthy food is about more than just what we eat. I’ll bet you’re already doing some of these. Pick a few more. And rather than making an overnight, wholesale change to your eating, remember that small steps lead to big results. Another way of saying it: the tortoise wins every time.

If you struggle with squeezing these and other healthy habits into your hectic schedule, let’s talk about how I can support you in reaching your goals.

Enjoy food. Love life. Be you again.



Why is it so hard?

Remember “Fake it ‘til you make it.”? I used to hate that phrase. It felt like being phony or pretending life was rosy even if everything was going to $hi!. Not that I wanted to wallow in $hi!. For me it came down to being in integrity with myself and others.

While I’ve come to appreciate the intention of that adage, I would say it another way. But I have yet to come up with a pithy, tweetable replacement…

When I ask clients to brainstorm a wellness vision, the first go-around is often less than inspiring. When I ask them about it they say things like, “But, it’s not true today so how can I believe that?” Or more commonly, “I can’t see how I’m going to get there from here.” The problem is, they were seeing the gap more than the vision.

jump_Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

It’s a struggle to reach your goals when the gap takes over. If you only see the gap, there’s no vision to get beyond it. Have you ever felt that way? You want a better result but seem stuck in a perpetual cycle of trying and failing?

Why is it so hard? To start, because we keep telling ourselves it is! Our self-talk has tremendous influence over how we feel about things, which in turn affects our behavior.

While the gap is reality, it’s uninspiring, even downright discouraging if you focus on it. But when you look at it logically, then create a vision along with a plan and the support to get there, the reality of the gap loses its depressive power.

I walk clients through this process all the time and it’s remarkable to see them work through obstacles and maintain healthy habits more easily than they could have imagined when we started.

Rather than “fake it ‘til you make it” it’s more about believing in yourself, your vision and your abilities to help you traverse the gap. It’s sticking with it even when you feel like quitting. It’s celebrating the small successes and building upon them. Perhaps most critically, it’s forgiving yourself when you fall short.

If the vision you hold for your health and well-being doesn’t quicken your pulse and excite you at the prospect, you may be focusing on the wrong thing. Or, your vision is mediocre which will keep you stuck. Maybe both…

The next time you find yourself asking why something is so hard, stop and ask a better question. Here are some possibilities:

  • What’s the best thing I can do right now given the circumstances?
  • Who can I ask for help?
  • What am I doing well?
  • How can I get what I really want?
  • What would it look like to be kind to myself right now?

Even when it truly feels hard, acknowledge that feeling and know it will pass. Trust that you can build the capacity and resilience to push through challenges, bridge the gap, and get to where it truly is not hard.

Now that would be inspiring.


Overcome the 5 obstacles to change

In December of 2016, I moved my car out of the garage for a month while we worked on a shelving project. It took longer than expected and soon we also had boards to make shutters for the outside front of the house. They’re all in various stages of being cut, sanded and stained. But honestly, there’s no good reason why my car is still parked outside.

Can you relate?

It’s like the women who hired me ten years ago as her coach. She’d initially contacted me two years previously. Why the gap? At the time she said, “I think I have all the information to do what I need to do.”

Take 60 seconds to imagine: What if you put into action all the information that you have to achieve the results that you want? Your health and weight, your relationships, your business…what’s possible?

Having (or seeking) the right information can distract from the real reason you don’t make progress. With health and weight loss, like most things, there are countless resources to consult – thank you, Internet – that can keep you in research mode without ever taking substantial action.

Consider these five obstacles to change and what you can do to overcome them:

  1. You haven’t identified a compelling reason to change. Research shows that even after a heart attack, only 14% of patients make any lasting changes around eating or exercise. Identifying your ultimate motivation is an essential first step to lasting change.
  2. You’re waiting for circumstances to be just right. Once you land the big account, the kids are back in school, the kitchen remodel is finished…then you’ll get started. But you never start because things are never perfect. So, get started anyway.
  3. Experience tells you you’ll fail, so why bother? Guess what? You will. Expect it. Learn from it. Get value from your failure (otherwise, true, why bother?).

    Failed it_Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

    Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash (Haven’t read the book – just love the title/subtitle!)

  4. You’re rebelling. You know that person in your life who tries to get you to change? You’d rather eat a Double Double than give him the satisfaction of eating a salmon salad, even if you want the salad. Crazy how we’re wired! But rebellion is self-sabotage, a false independence. Understand what is truly motivating you.
  5. Your goal is vague and “out there.” Goals like “be healthy” or “be happy” must be grounded in specifics. And, there must be a time parameter to your goal otherwise you’ll get to it when you get to it, maybe.

So, I will be parked in the garage by April 15th (gotta have something to celebrate on tax day!). I’m motivated, I’ve chunked the projects down, I’m seeking help (did I fail to mention the unfinished pillars at the front door?) and now I’m accountable.

You can’t avoid the obstacle course, but you can practice and get really good at navigating it. Learn to build resilience so that you not only get started on your goals but stick with them and accomplish the things that really matter to you. What will you commit to doing?


Change is a lot easier when…

Ever notice that when people talk about making healthy changes, it often centers around what they’re eliminating?

“I’m not eating any white flour or white sugar.”

“I’ve cut out alcohol.”

“I’m on a Facebook fast.”

While those are worthy endeavors that people hope will be a catalyst to better health and maybe even weight loss, the excitement (i.e. ability to maintain willpower) doesn’t last long and they go back to their old behaviors, and the same old result.

So, for January I’m sharing with you my “Top 50 Healthy Adds” (you know, instead of focusing on what to subtract):

  1. Set an alarm to stand up and move every hour (sitting is the new smoking!)
  2. When you sit back down, exaggeratedly roll your shoulders forward then back
  3. Keep water or unsweetened tea at your desk
  4. Two extra minutes of walking when you go to the bathroom
  5. Take lunch away from the office (if you eat at your desk daily, start with once a week)
  6. Plan your exercise the night before
  7. A 10-minute back-up (for when something happens to derail your exercise plans)
  8. Open mail over the recycle bin
  9. Batch computer tasks, like email, so they don’t overtake your day
  10. Schedule appointments when they fit your rhythm
  11. Diced broccoli & cauliflower – easy to add to salads
  12. Morning glass of water – re-hydrate after a night’s sleep
  13. Smoothie – get lots of fruits & veggies with one “stone”

    Smoothe_Photo by Guillaume Jaillet on Unsplash

    Photo by Guillaume Jaillet on Unsplash

  14. Flax seeds – add to smoothies, cereal, and use in baked goods
  15. Use smashed banana as a sweetener for oatmeal, instead of sugar
  16. Spiralized zucchini – a veggie alternative to pasta
  17. Spaghetti squash – another “pasta” option
  18. Almonds – I love Trader Joe’s individual packets; I stash them everywhere
  19. Dried apple rings – another staple to have on hand
  20. Ever try nut cheese? Seriously.
  21. 30-second plank in the morning
  22. Eat within two hours of waking up
  23. 3-5 minutes of easy movement to work out the kinks each morning
  24. Read your vision first thing, then close your eyes and imagine how your day will unfold
  25. Say “let me get back to you” when you’re asked to do something
  26. Say “you could be right about that” rather than respond hotly to a heated situation
  27. Assume others are doing the best they can
  28. Assume you are, too
  29. Expect things to go well
  30. Finish the day expressing appreciation to your significant other or close family member
  31. Cook with olive oil
  32. Learn to use flax or chia seeds as “eggs” when baking
  33. Find one new healthy recipe that you and your household will enjoy
  34. Almond flour – look for a pancake recipe
  35. Turmeric – it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties (combine with black pepper for maximum benefit)
  36. A sleep mask to block out the light
  37. A yearly physical
  38. An uplifting podcast
  39. Dark chocolate (72% and up)
  40. Two minutes to your planned exercise (once you’ve done 30 minutes, what’s two more?!)
  41. Increase the intensity of your cardio workout once a week
  42. One more strength training exercise
  43. One more rep
  44. One more set
  45. Increase the weight 10% for one exercise
  46. A stretch for each muscle group you worked out
  47. A new class (or online video)
  48. A new cardio machine
  49. Active rest activity (brainstorm ways to be active during your day)
  50. A monthly massage – my favorite

It’s natural to want to eliminate unhealthy behaviors – it’s just that when we take extreme actions it can lead to feeling deprived and, ultimately, cause us to backlash (that’s code for pigging out and sitting on the couch).

When we add healthy, positive “things” they can gradually overtake the unhealthy habits we want to quit. Change is a lot easier when we focus on the additions.

If you want help in making lasting change, you know where to reach me. 😊



Is the grass really greener?

A father told me about his ten-year-old son who has a friend from a wealthy family. A very wealthy family. Like 25,000 sq.ft. house kind of wealthy. The son came home one day and asked his dad, “Why don’t we have a house like Jimmy’s?” Now, the parents of this ten-year-old are financially well off themselves so the father replied, “You know son, some people might think we live in a pretty nice house” to which the son retorted, “Oh, Dad, no one would ever think that!”

I laugh at this, but admittedly I know how easy it is to see lack instead of abundance. And I know how that paradigm derails us from what we want.

2 Vintage cars_Photo by Dietmar Becker on Unsplash

Photo by Dietmar Becker on Unsplash

Our environment primes us to be dissatisfied. And to think we can completely remove ourselves from its influence…let’s just say I saw an episode of “House Hunters Off the Grid” and it’s not my speed (and probably not yours, either!).

If we want to counter the dissatisfaction our culture breeds, we need awareness and gratitude. But the point isn’t to fight the environment, rather to cultivate one that allows us to thrive. Here are three things you can expect from experiencing genuine thankfulness (oh, yes, there are more):

  1. Clarity: Have you ever pursued something and discovered it didn’t make you that happy? Like when you buy something you “had to have” but the next week you can’t remember why? Or when you start a diet because your friend got you excited to lose weight with her, but discovered you were miserable? Start using a critical eye to assess the messages around you about what you should do, weigh and “be.” When you truly appreciate what “is,” you can know what you really want, why you want it, and set out to pursue it.
  2. Better health: Grateful people are shown to live longer, visit the doctor less, have lower blood pressure, sleep better and report less stress. Hello?! If there was a pill that could do all that, without nausea, diarrhea, bloating, thoughts of suicide, decreased libido…we’d all be lining up for it.
  3. Peace: When I have the presence of mind to look at advertisements, especially for stuff that I like, and then think about how much I enjoy what I already have, my underlying dissatisfaction dissipates. That’s much different from deprivation, which brings anxiety. Gratitude leads to peace.

Are your health and weight a challenge for you? I believe that if you don’t like and appreciate your body then you’ll have a hard time taking care of it. Before you attempt changes, decide what’s good about your body today. What do you appreciate about it this moment? Bring it to the forefront and revel in what “is.” Gratitude will set the stage for the changes you want to make.


Expect to fail

Are you excited about a fresh start and all the possibilities in 2018? Me, too. But if you’ve been here with high hopes before, only to be let down a few weeks or months into the year, you may feel anxious or ambivalent. I’ve been there myself.

2018_Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

I came to realize that my failures were the result of several things, like lack of clarity and poor planning. My biggest stumbling block though was perfectionism. All-or-nothing. One small failure and I was done. What was the use?

I’m not sure I actually verbalized it that way. I simply felt like I’d failed and stopped trying. For several years I stopped setting goals all together, thinking I would just be disappointed. Again.

You know what? If we set goals that are worthwhile and present a challenge at all, then we’ll fail at some point. The problem is we expect perfection, don’t achieve it and then quit. Ultimately, my problem was that I didn’t expect failure.

Sure, we can set overly ambitious goals that we have no real hope of reaching. That’s different. Goals should be challenging yet do-able. They stretch you without demanding huge, overnight improvements. Small steps, over time, lead to big results.

Set out the year with your goals in hand and plan well. And realize that to plan well means to assume obstacles. That you’ll mess up. That you’ll fail sometimes. Focus more on creating habits that lead to improvements, and less on a specific result. Identify strategies and action steps, and decide that when you fail you will learn from it and keep moving forward. Failure is only “failure” when you quit. Otherwise it’s just a learning opportunity.

Stay inspired. Expect to fail. Choose to overcome.

Need some help making it happen? Let’s talk! Schedule a Strategy Session today.


Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy (and Not Gain Weight) During the Holidays

We still have almost two weeks left in December – it’s not too late to be intentional with your health and weight. If you’re thinking you’ve blown it or that you’ll wait until the New Year to think about it, then this post is really for you! Here are my “Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy (and Not Gain Weight) During the Holidays”:

  1. Don’t make NY resolutions – it’s too easy to let yourself off the hook now.
  2. If you use the “back burner” at least have it turned on (no all-or-nothing).
  3. Prepare for the expected – it shouldn’t take you by surprise.
  4. Learn from prior years – what would you do differently this year?
  5. Plan for parties – what will you eat/drink, or not?
  6. Don’t “save up” calories – skipping meals leads to a pig out.
  7. Set your standard (e.g. # of parties, networking events, etc.).
  8. Walk 15.5 miles this month (that’s 10 minutes/day at a 3mph pace).
  9. Month of gratitude.
  10. Ferociously prioritize.
  11. No “shoulds” – you don’t have to accept every invitation.
  12. Be conscious – food simply being “there” isn’t a reason to eat it.
  13. Be picky – not all treats are worth it. Eat only the best.
  14. Honor your curfew – remember how you feel when you don’t get enough sleep.
  15. Savor holiday treats – and please don’t feel guilty.

    Gingerbread_Photo by Mira Bozhko on Unsplash

    Photo by Mira Bozhko on Unsplash

  16. Be realistic – you’re only human 🙂
  17. Avoid drama – craft a graceful response to remove yourself from these situations.
  18. Go ice skating – seriously, how fun!
  19. Space out adult beverages with water.
  20. Be kind to yourself – you’re doing the best you can and so is everyone else.
  21. Maintain regular sleep times.
  22. Identify what’s most important…and don’t let it get overshadowed by the ubiquity of shiny objects this time of year.
  23. Decide what healthy looks like for you.
  24. If it’s going to be cold have appropriate outerwear on hand (eliminating that excuse!) so that you can exercise and keep active.
  25. Get in the good stuff – eat it first so you don’t fill up on what’s not that great.
  26. People over food – remember gatherings are for connecting; let food be secondary.
  27. Go e-free during holiday gettogethers.
  28. Don’t get hooked – others need not get you riled up.
  29. Be intentional so that your words and actions serve your priorities.
  30. Don’t lament over last night’s buffet – forgive yourself and move on.
  31. Decide how you want to feel Jan. 1 – and let that drive what you do the rest of Dec.
  32. Imagine how it feels to be in integrity – to do what you say is important to you.
  33. Take time out for yourself – it’s the only way you can fully be there for others.
  34. You don’t have to “get it out of the house.” A box of, say, See’s Candies can last well into next month – you don’t need to eat it all before Jan. 1.
  35. Caught in traffic? Breathe deeply to de-stress, and focus on what’s good.
  36. Find new, healthy favorites – ever tried mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes (or a blend of the two)?
  37. Move in the morning – start your day with some bit of exercise/activity.
  38. Cheesy movie night – something that makes you smile (or happy cry).
  39. Listen to music you enjoy – and move to it.
  40. Don’t deprive – fit in your favorites to avoid Diet Deprivation Backlash.
  41. Send party food home with your guests.
  42. Take in the sunshine – it stimulates feel-good serotonin.
  43. Feeling sick? Stay home! Everyone will be glad you did.
  44. Hydrate!
  45. Eat to sufficiency – more is really not enjoyable and it starts a downward spiral.
  46. Eat when you’re hungry – too hungry leads to over-eating.
  47. Bring a healthy potluck option – you’ll have at least one healthy choice to rely on (some people will even thank you for it).
  48. Re-gift calories – take gifts of holiday treats to a shelter or a neighbor in need.
  49. Re-think traditions – what would an enjoyable, healthy one look like?
  50. Freeze it – you’ll be happy to have a holiday treat to thaw out in January.

Trust me. It isn’t too late. Your effort now will pay off in January when you feel healthy and strong, and happy with how you handled the holidays.

If you want further details on any of these you’ll find four posts during this past month at Facebook. You’re always free to email me, too – I love getting your questions!

Be on the lookout for my next Top 50 list as we start 2018. In the meantime, share with me below how you’re handling health and weight during the holidays.


My top 5 resources to cut through the noise…or at least let it work for you

Does this sound familiar? You’re at home doing something like getting ready for work, preparing a meal or cleaning the house, and you turn on the TV for background noise? By week’s end you’ve consumed hours of mindless TV – at best – or a negative news feed – at worst. I used to do that and it drove me crazy that I “needed” that noise. Now, I use those times as opportunities for growth and entertainment and I’m going to share with you how to do the same.

Laundry-headphones_Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash_crop

Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

I realize that not that every moment has to be “productive.” If doing your work in silence promotes a good state of mind, maybe even a meditation opportunity, keep doing it. But if you feel the need for background noise and your current choices aren’t doing you any favors, consider my 5 favorite resources for motivation, learning and enjoyment:

  1. TED Talks: Short, powerful talks available on multiple subjects. While some have visuals, I find most can be simply listened to. One of my favorites is Brene’ Brown’s, The Power of Vulnerability. She takes a topic no one is comfortable with and using humor, her personal experiences and her knowledge as a researcher, she makes you feel like you’re not alone and that you can overcome shame.
  2. Lead to Win Podcast: Michael Hyatt provides “leadership lessons for lasting success.” His show includes research studies and audio inserts from experts on the topic of the week that help his audience to become stronger, more effective leaders. A recent favorite of mine is titled “The Surprising New Science of Achievement,” a topic I find can be applied to many areas of life.
  3. Audio Books: I’ve recently taken advantage of my library card to check out several audio books. Most are motivating and informational, but not long ago I listened to a fiction book by Elizabeth Gilbert titled “The Signature of all Things” – loved it. TIP: I change the audio speed to 1.25 or 1.5 (depending on the speed of the person narrating the book) which takes me through it quicker!
  4. The Minimalists Podcast: These two guys speak to living a meaningful life, with less stuff and more fulfillment. While I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist I’ve integrated their philosophy into my own life in a way that brings me greater peace and contentment.
  5. Pandora: I use the free version and find myself dancing and singing as I put on makeup, workout and clean. I love the Earth Wind & Fire channel and my non-disco husband recently turned me onto Hipster Cocktail. Look for new options that pique your interest and ignite your energy. If you find yourself moving your shoulders and head a little while listening, that’s a good sign.

The best part about using these resources is that I’m no longer over-saturated with news or exposed to tons of commercials for stuff I don’t need – instead I’m learning and being uplifted, even entertained. Next time you’re looking for some background noise, optimize that time to serve you and your mood.

Share with me below some of your favorite resources to keep you company.

Top 50 Ways to Burn More Calories

Stairs_Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

I turned 50 this month which inspired me to launch my “Year of 50.” So, each month from this November through next October, I’ll be sharing my “Top 50” tips and ideas on all things health and wellness. This month I wrapped up my ‘Top 50 Ways to Burn More Calories.’ In case you’ve missed some, or forgotten a few, here’s a recap:

  1. be inefficient around the house
  2. make multiple trips unloading the car
  3. balance on one foot
  4. 2-minute exercise breaks
  5. standing desk
  6. knee extensions while sitting
  7. use a stability ball as a chair
  8. avoid the drive-thru
  9. dance (even just a little) when music is playing
  10. park once and walk to all the stores in the shopping center
  11. park far away
  12. take the stairs
  13. yard work
  14. fidget
  15. sit up straight
  16. calf raises in the checkout line
  17. get up & move during commercials
  18. wash the windows
  19. clean the floors
  20. vacuum
  21. jumping jacks between weight sets
  22. back-to-back strength training sets
  23. increase your walking pace
  24. swing your arms while walking
  25. add hills/incline to walking/treadmill
  26. hands off the rails (unless you need them for balance)
  27. a little caffeine (sans sugar)
  28. bike your errands
  29. knit or crochet
  30. sing to the music
  31. wash the car
  32. add 5 minutes to your usual workout
  33. if you’re not already, start strength training
  34. cardio push (intervals)
  35. exercise more often
  36. don’t skip meals
  37. eat breakfast
  38. get 7-8 hours’ sleep
  39. meditate to reduce stress
  40. chew gum
  41. red-light ab workout
  42. mini-workout during commercials
  43. walk the escalator
  44. walking meetings
  45. play pool
  46. miniature golf
  47. go bowling
  48. play darts
  49. volunteer

#50: Do it. The trap is to think, “What difference will that really make?” The truth is, small steps lead to big results. You need to take the right small steps, and take many of them over a period of time. So, pick a few and enjoy the process.

A side benefit I didn’t expect is that in making this list I’m reminded to do them, too. Just yesterday I did the red-light ab workout instead of being irritated that I had taken surface streets to the post office rather than the freeway. Bonus!

If you need further details on any of these you’ll find five posts of ten tips each, including some videos, during this past month at Facebook. And, be on the lookout tomorrow when I launch my Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy (and Not Gain Weight) During the Holidays.

Share with me below your favorite of the Top 50 Ways to Burn More Calories and let me know which ones you’re putting into action.


How I re-framed my thoughts on aging

It was the fall of 2000 and I’m sitting next to a psychotherapist at a business meeting. We were talking about women and aging, and I’ll never forget what she said to me:  “Heather, in our culture, a woman’s power is in her youth & beauty.” At the time I was in my early thirties and thought how great it was to be young and in great shape! But as each birthday passed I wondered how much longer I could be considered “young.” I had two choices: fight it with every available product and technique, or accept the inevitable and do the best I could while I “had it.”

Perfection_Photo by on Unsplash

Photo by on Unsplash

Eventually I discovered a third way. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties, but there it was. It’s so simple but it took time to see it. I’d even heard other women talk about it, but it didn’t resonate right away. Like any truth, it took time to seep into my psyche and be able to live it.

The reality is that you and I decide each moment how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings. If we soak in the anti-aging message that’s embedded in our society, we never get there. Whether in personal, career or family life, if our focus is on what we should do, how we fall short or how we compare to (fill in the blank with any number of options) then we experience anything from low grade dissatisfaction to self-hatred. Yet we keep trying.

This “third way” teaches me to relish life and live it fully – to own it. It teaches me to learn in every situation, and to appreciate myself and others in beauty and in brokenness.

On my 49th birthday last year I visualized what I wanted life to be like at 50. Nothing about fitness and finances (those are for another time). I was interested in feeling more connected with God, family and friends. I wanted un-cluttered surroundings, to be pain free, to set solid boundaries and be a strong leader. I had a sense of what those felt like and then I took my own advice. I set small goals, adding one upon another as the months went by.

Here’s the thing. I wasn’t perfect at it. I never have been. I work with so many clients for whom all-or-nothing is their biggest bugaboo that keeps them from experiencing the health, joy and satisfaction they crave. As I write, it dawns on me that the only way I could find my third way was to recover from my perfectionism. I’m not a perfect leader, my house isn’t in perfect order and I don’t feel constant, blissful connection with the Divine. But I’m a better leader, my surroundings are more peaceful and I experience greater calm.

Honestly, I don’t even know what perfect would look like. Maybe it doesn’t exist. And if it does, I don’t think it would be better than life at this very moment.

Do you struggle with perfectionism, with all-or-nothing? See what happens when you let it go and decide to live.


Oreos or the Wall Street Journal?

Do you ever start the day with good intentions that never materialize? You intend to go to that yoga class but time gets away from you. You plan to eat healthy then find yourself grazing on a box of crackers, rationalizing that at least they contain whole grains. Or maybe you vow to stay organized and create more space in your schedule, but finish the day having said yes to too many things. If so, you’re not alone.

woman_Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

I was listening recently to a podcast from leadership development expert Michael Hyatt when I heard him say “the most difficult person to lead is yourself.” So if the only person I can control is me, it can be a tough haul! This is precisely at the core of why we do what we don’t want to do, and don’t do what we do want to do.

Hyatt’s comment is the recognition that it’s easier to see other people’s weaknesses than it is our own. And it feels awful to admit, but it can be comfortable to mentally compare downward so that even if we don’t keep a commitment to ourselves at least we’re doing better than so-and-so (as opposed to the upward comparison in which we criticize ourselves).

Self-awareness is essential to achieving what matters most. In the realm of our health and weight, that means knowing our weak spots and learning to neutralize them. It’s in the stressful moments that we face choices necessary for our success. Do we fall back on our compensating behaviors or do we choose a healthy response?

Want to make healthier decisions when life gets stressful?

Download today my free cheat sheet of “9 Things to Avoid When Life gets Hectic.”

For example, people often tell me they have a weak spot for junk food. If it’s in the house and they’ve had a bad day, they eat it. A client of mine could relate and came up with a fun idea. She decided that at the grocery store, instead of buying food she shouldn’t have, she’ll buy a copy of the Wall Street Journal, something she always tells herself is too expensive. Now she tells herself it will be way cheaper than the junk food she would buy.

It’s a mistake to think that “tomorrow will be better” without a plan to counter the obstacles that regularly pop up. Instead, reflect on the common challenges that confront you when you attempt healthy habits. Does your standard response take your farther away from what you want? How can you take responsibility for that response, and change it?

In the midst of it all, be kind and practice self-compassion because, let’s face it, this isn’t always easy. But know you have what it takes to change. And imagine the possibilities when you do.


What could you do in 82 days?

This time of year always feels like another New Year, an opportunity to clear the slate and begin anew. Maybe it’s because school starts in the fall and even if we graduated long ago it’s the calendar of our culture. Or, maybe it’s because plants are shedding their leaves (and acorns in my yard!) that we feel like shedding what no longer serves us. Both seem to fit.

Reflect on what you set out to achieve this year for your health and well-being. Then answer these three questions to finish the year with a focus on what matters most.

Leaves_Photo by Takahiro Sakamoto on Unsplash

Photo by Takahiro Sakamoto on Unsplash

  1. “What could I start doing?” Do you need to improve your nutrition? Get better sleep? Reduce stress? Decide what’s most important right now and choose one small step to take in that direction. What one thing could you do that, over time, will add up to a big improvement? Last year I was waking up in the night with sore hip muscles so decided to start stretching every day. It takes a few minutes before bed and feels really good. Now, sore hips rarely wake me up. A small investment of my time for a big difference in how I feel.
  1. “What could I stop doing?” What do you do regularly that sabotages your efforts to lose weight or improve your health? What, if you stopped or did less of, would make the most improvement in your well-being? When I ask my clients this question some have answers like “drink less wine” or “watch less TV.” Can you relate? Choose one thing that if you stopped or lessened would move you closer to your health and weight loss goals in the next 82 days. Then, trade that habit or activity out for something awesome.
  1. “Where’s the fun?” Let me be honest. I don’t jump out of bed excited to go to the gym. I go because I’ve committed to exercise and I want the outcome. But being healthy and losing weight cannot be a drudgery if you are to succeed at your goals. Are you having fun in the process? If so, how can you have more? If not, what do you need to start/stop in order to have fun? Decide and take action.

Just imagine what you can do in 82 days! Reduce pain, have more energy, lose a few pounds…anything is possible. Remember: small steps can bring big results.

Decide on your step and please share your plan with me below.

Happy “New Year!”





3 steps to manage what you can’t control

A few months ago I went to upgrade my iPhone and found out that Verizon doesn’t do that anymore. None of the carriers do. Full price. No deals. Continuing my dismay, they no longer transfer data from your old phone to your new phone.

I thought “this sucks” so I got on the phone with a friend to grumble about it. She empathized. But after a minute or two she said, “It’s getting awfully whiny in here.” Ouch!

She was right, of course. My righteous indignation (uh, complaining) wouldn’t change Verizon. It just kept my irritation alive. Gratefully her observation was the pattern interrupt I needed to stop giving attention to something I couldn’t change.

Stop complaining_Photo by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash

Photo by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash

Have you ever gotten wound up about something or someone you couldn’t control? It can be something as trivial as my cell phone issue or as big as a health problem – more rumination only leads to greater anxiety and stress.

While people and circumstances are outside your control, you can do something. Next time unwanted things come your way – like news, decisions, people’s actions, etc. – these three steps will keep you from getting stuck and help you move towards greater health, peace and happiness:

  1. Consider your response. I could get rid of my cell phone (I have occasional fantasies). I could find someone to help me transfer my phone data (I did. The Apple Store was great). I also sought out a better plan for less money, so it wasn’t all bad. In the case of something significant, like your job being potentially down-sized, gather information. Is there training that would improve the skills your employer desires? Have you wanted to start your own business? How could you research the viability? Is there another job or field you’ve always wanted to work in and now is the time to start checking it out?
  2. Pay attention to your dialogue. This means internal and external. Rehashing how awful something is or how someone said something mean, or how you wish you had done it differently…stop it all. Choose a helpful response. It may just be to stop talking about it – no one really wants to hear about it anyway, right? Maybe it’s finding a lesson or something beneficial in the situation. Even if you don’t find anything, the act of seeking the good will put you in a positive, growth-oriented mindset.
  3. Decide if you’re willing to change. Organizations make decisions that impact you and you choose how to respond. People make decisions you wish they wouldn’t and, again, you choose how to react. Sometimes though you encounter self-made problems. Poor health decisions or financial mistakes that cannot be undone. Mean-spirited words that cannot be recalled from the ether. But the next decision is in your control. Will you do what’s necessary to improve your health or finances, or dwell on how bad it is? Will you choose to repair a relationship even if it’s uncomfortable to ask for forgiveness? This is where knowing your core values and having a vision is so valuable.

That’s it! Three steps to taking charge of what you can control so that you get unstuck and move towards greater health, peace and happiness. Share with me what you’ve been chewing on that it’s time to change or let go of.



I don’t need help. I know this stuff.

I’d been stuck for a while. Years in fact. And I know better. I’m a certified exercise physiologist after all (you can imagine that record playing in my head, right?).

My strength training routine was in a rut. Spotty, too. But I wasn’t about to ask for help. (I know what to do!)

As coincidence would have it, my massage therapist referred me to a personal trainer so that I could learn to use the foam roller on my tight back muscles. But then we started talking, one thing lead to another, and over a few sessions Rose had shown me a whole new strength routine.

When I told my husband he asked “don’t you know how to do all that stuff?”

Thanks, hun!

Well, yes and no. I know form and technique. I know that specific movements at specific joints will work specific muscles. But new equipment and machines have come on the scene since I got certified 20 years ago! I’d seen things like TRX and Bosu at the gym, and had taken a mat Pilates class here and there, but most of what I did for strength training was boiler plate 1990s.


What was the problem? Why didn’t I just do what I knew I needed to do, and knew how to do? Honestly, I was bored. And sometimes I expected too much of myself, creating a whole different set of problems. I needed an outside perspective.

Have you done that, too? You know what you need to do and how to do it so you insist on going it alone. And as the months and years tick by, you still aren’t where you want to be.

Instead, why not pattern ourselves after the experts. Dustin Johnson, ranked #1 in the world for most of this year, has a golf coach and a swing instructor. Steve Jobs had a coach for many years. Delve into the habits of successful people and you’ll find they aren’t in it alone. In fact, the more successful, the more they rely on the support and expertise of others.

Are there changes you need to make to be successful, to thrive? Are there areas in your life where an outside perspective could help you overcome what’s keeping you stuck? Act like the experts, and hire one!

I love feeling stronger – I wish I’d done this sooner. I can tell you, I won’t wait next time. I’ll be back with a professional to keep my routine fresh and challenging. Thank you, Rose Nielsen!


“I’m kind of stupid…”

That’s how she had prefaced her question. I stood, staring in disbelief at this precious woman who had come to volunteer in the community. Before she could ask her question I looked at her and exclaimed “Don’t you ever say that again!”

But how many times have I said something similar? And if not aloud at least to an audience of one?

Sad woman_Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

Things happen daily that trigger those thoughts. Like when your shirt fits just a bit too tight or it’s a struggle to pull up the zipper on your pants. Or when you stumble over your words and say something you regret. It feels crappy.

What’s most important in those moments is how you react.

Are you kind to yourself? Do you practice self-compassion, knowing you’re not alone in feeling this way?

Or, do you poke a finger at your muffin tip and lament how little self-control you have? Do you berate yourself for bothering to speak up when you’re such an idiot?

In her article, Sleeping with the Enemy, Martha Beck asserts that when our self-talk involves degradation and name calling, we are essentially waging war against ourselves with propaganda. And this propaganda contains the words of the enemy.

Can you imagine being at that meeting and instead of the woman stating that about herself she had turned to someone else and out loud said “You’re kind of stupid”? We’d cringe, maybe even come to the other’s defense, right? Why doesn’t dreadful self-talk provoke a similar response from us?

We think tough talk will help us improve but it usually backfires as we self-soothe with food and alcohol, internet and TV. Calling ourselves names doesn’t motivate us to do better because shaming never brings out the best in us.

The first step to changing is to recognize your negative self-talk when it happens. Then call yourself out on it and repeat, “Don’t you ever say (or think) that again!” Look at self-talk as a record that plays in your head (dating myself!) and your statement as scratching the needle on that record. Scratch as many times as needed until the record is damaged beyond ability to play.

Be kind to yourself like you would be to a good friend or a child. Know that you’re not the only one who has $h!tty thoughts, whose pants don’t fit or who just embarrassed herself in public. It happens. Be good to yourself and move on. Find another person who’s berating herself and help lift her up. As we do that for others, our own problems feel smaller.

Beck says “A war against yourself can never be won; the only true victory happens when you lay down your arms and befriend the enemy. And if you can make peace with yourself, you’ll find the whole world becomes a kinder, gentler place.”

Let’s live in that place together, okay?




“I eat a pound of bacon a day!”

My friend met a guy at the gym who told her he was once morbidly obese and lost the weight by eating mostly meat and now eats a pound of bacon per day. When my friend asked him about things like vegetables he declared that we can get by with almost none.


Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash


But someone who lost that much weight must know what he’s talking about, right?

First, everyone is unique.

I talked with a slim, vibrant 81-year-old last month who described her unhealthy habits (eating several Twinkies in one sitting) and said her two sisters, try as they might, struggle with being overweight. For her, it’s never been a problem.  It’s like the pack-a-day smoker who eats bacon and eggs fried in butter every morning, considers a slip of iceberg lettuce on his burger to fulfill his daily veggie allotment, and lives to be a sprightly 98.

These folks are the exception, not the rule. Just ask the millions of people for whom those behaviors don’t work so well.

Second, weight loss – or being slim – doesn’t automatically equal good health. And while someone may appear healthy in his 20’s, like the pound-a-day bacon eater, most lifestyle diseases go unnoticed until we’re much older and start testing for them.

So, what are the best sources for information on nutrition and exercise? How much info is enough?  Why do experts (I use that term loosely) disagree?

Google “how to be healthy” and you’ll have 548,000,000 sites vying for your attention. If only .0001% are useful, that’s still more than 500 sites to peruse. And even if you’re not actively searching for it, health is regularly mentioned in everyday life from cocktail parties to media outlets.

Ignore it.

Really! More information isn’t making us healthier, just confused. Start with what you know to be good and true (like getting in fiber, staying hydrated and eating the “rainbow” to name a few). How are you doing on those things? How can you do better? What’s the next step you can take that will move you towards success?

The mass of data available tends to stop people from doing anything (because, what’s the right thing to do?) or has them jumping from one thing to the next, never realizing lasting results.

You likely start with a decent picture of nutrition, but maybe that picture gets fuzzy the more you seek the next thing that works. Truthfully, it’s less about new information and more about the head game. You know what I mean, right?

Start with what you know. Consider your specific situation. Find the support you need.




P.S.: You may be someone with a unique health situation who needs specifics from a health care practitioner. If so, it’s worth the investment. Know that most doctors receive little, if any, nutrition education in medical school. Gratefully some physicians make it a priority to educate themselves, but many don’t. If a nutrition consult with your doctor consists of a few general statements like eat “less carbs” or “low fat,” seek additional support.

The Great “Old Dog – New Tricks” Hoax

Nearly 500 years ago an English fellow named Fitzherbert initiated the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” and it stuck ever since. We say it regularly, related to situations that have nothing to do with the canine species. It’s come to be spoken of as gospel for our belief that it’s too hard for older people to learn new skills or develop new habits. So they don’t.

Dog tricks_july2017 #2

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Guess what? Not true! MythBusters proved it wrong, saving dogs everywhere from low expectations. But, what about us?

The mind is amazing and will believe anything, good or bad. We have the capacity to change no matter our age. My mother-in-law, having smoked since she was a teenager, gave it up when she was in her mid-sixties. She’s 81 today, tobacco-free. I regularly meet Medicare-eligible folks who are learning to use technology, change their eating habits and try new activities. They are not the exception. They’ve just chosen a different belief.

I encounter a variety of assumed truths that hold people back, like:

  • It’s too late to…
  • I’ve tried before and it hasn’t worked, so what would be different this time?
  • Small changes won’t make a big difference so why bother?
  • If I can’t do it right (perfectly), I might as well not do it at all.
  • This is just the way I am.

These are not facts. They are chosen truths. The brain operates off of what we believe to be true (e.g. I can’t change) not what is factual (e.g. we can change at any time we choose).

I admit that I sometimes cringe at the things I hear myself think. But if I use those moments as opportunities to challenge my thinking, that’s when I experience growth. And the biggest progress I’ve made has come from small, consistent steps over the long haul.

My challenge to you:

Today, notice one thought that keeps you stuck. Examine it and ask yourself what would be a more helpful belief. For example, replace “this is just the way I am” with “I can find resources and support to help me make a change.” Write down this new belief. Then, decide on the first step to take. It could be finding a book, making an appointment, asking for a referral…no step is too small. Finally, take that step in the next 48 hours.

Head over to Facebook today and share with me your new belief and your next step. Then, in 48 hours let me know it’s done! Use this opportunity for accountability to propel you forward.