Archive for You/Mind

CORONAVIRUS: KEEP MOVING!

Isn’t it crazy how the news of the coronavirus seems to change from hour and hour? There is so much information swirling, and so much negative news—it’s really easy be paralyzed with anxiety. Recently, a client of mine came down with flu-like symptoms and the minute I heard that, I decided to close down my business until I know what’s going on with her. We all have to do our part in trying not to spread this virus.

So, just like many of you, my life is very different right now. I made the decision, this morning, to stay positive. Staying positive doesn’t mean that I think everything is going to be fine. I’m staying positive merely to protect my sanity.

If you’re feeling well, the best thing you can do for your mind, body and soul is to exercise. Step outside into the crisp air and walk. You can stroll, you can walk briskly, you can walk up hills, you can walk with hand weights. You can 1800ss_getty_rf_woman_walking_with_hand_weightsmake a phone date and walk with a friend! Spring is coming and you’ll be amazed at what’s starting to happen in nature. If it’s raining out, have no fear. As long as you have internet access you can search for any type of home exercise from dancing to stretching. Moving will let you burn off frustration and will get those endorphins flowing!

Or course we’ll be watching more news and more Netflix but as long as we’re feeling well, we don’t have to let the coronavirus stop us from being active!

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COME ON, BUBBA!

A client of mine has a childhood nickname, Bubba. I discovered this during our workouts. Every time she gets to the point where it gets REALLY challenging (about the last 2 reps of an exercise), she says, “COME ON, BUBBA!”

I can’t tell you how much joy I feel hearing this. She is being a self-cheerleader and cartoon-cheerleading-clip-art-hand-drawn-cartoon-cheerleader-girlalways does this just when she needs that extra push. It seems to work! I encouraged her to do this with her diet, too. Instead of beating herself up if she goes off track, I want her to pull out the “COME ON, BUBBA!” so that she can give herself some encouragement to eat healthier at her next meal.

We are currently living in a world spewing vitriol. There is so much nastiness everywhere we turn–I can’t stand it. Maybe that’s why my heart skips a beat when I hear,  “COME ON, BUBBA!” I see over and over again that a little bit of encouragement and kindness goes a very long way.

To all of you reading this: Show yourself a little kindness. Be your own cheerleader. You will be surprised at how much it makes a difference!

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PAMPERS V. HUGGIES

When I was pregnant with my first child, a good friend of mine, who had an infant daughter, said, “Whatever you do, don’t use Pampers because they don’t work—you must use Huggies.” Ok! I was armed with this great information, only to be perplexed when Huggies didn’t work for my daughter. Oddly, I felt extremely pampers-huggies-300x186-1.jpgdisappointed.

Given the diet information overload that bombards us 24/7, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Intermittent fasting? High-fat diet? The new Weight Watchers plan? The F-Factor diet? Frequent meals throughout the day? What’s the best way to eat?

Well, just like the Pampers v. Huggies scenario, there is not one plan that will work for everyone. It is so easy to get sucked into a new fad and jump right in. The problem with this, is that we lose our common sense. I have seen this with many of my clients. Extremely smart, rationale women seem to lose the plot and want to try an eating program that they either have tried in the past and have failed, or embark on an endeavor that makes no sense.

I, for example, can’t do a very long fast, even though intermittent fasting has some health benefits.  If I go too long without food, I feel shaky, angry and get a headache. Clearly, this isn’t the best way for me to eat, given that I have an active job and have to work with people all day long. However, just because this doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean that this wouldn’t work beautifully for you.

So, if you’re reading an article about a new method of eating, or listening to a podcast showcasing the best way to lose weight, pause for a moment. Give yourself some time to weigh the pros and cons to see if this will really work for you given your lifestyle. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t do it. Trying new plans and failing is not good for your brain, your confidence, or for your sense of well-being. Instead, it promotes negative feelings, shame, and self-loathing.

Bottom line: Huggies don’t work on every baby.  Many of the new eating plans and  programs are the same way. Stop, investigate, and think critically so you can figure out what works best for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JUST MAKE IT BETTER

A client of mine, let’s call her Cindy, has been struggling to eat healthier. In the past, she’s gone on several diets and like most people, was only successful in the short run. In Cindy’s case, being on a diet reflexively makes her feel denied, which is never a good thing.  Since I hate diets, we are creating new plan, which includes a different way of thinking about food. Our plan is called: JUST MAKE IT BETTER

JUST MAKE IT BETTER means you get to eat foods that you love but have to “doctor” iStock-1131794876.t5d482e40.m800.xtDADj9SvTVFjzuNeGuNUUGY4tm5d6UGU5tkKM0s3iPk-620x342them up to make the meal healthier. For example, if you love chicken Parmesan from your local pizzeria, instead of eating the whole portion, cut it into thirds. Eat 1/3 with a giant salad. Eat 1/3 with bowl of broccoli. Eat the last 1/3 with a bunch of raw fruits and vegetables. I would  rather Cindy eat a small portion of food that makes her feel satisfied, than eating something she doesn’t like but chooses it only because it’s “healthy”.  That strategy never works.

JUST MAKE IT BETTER can look like this:

Instead of eating two pieces of white toast with jam for breakfast, change it to one slice whole-grain toast, and add some avocado slices and/or an egg.

Instead of eating 2-3 slices of pizza, have one small slice with a large salad or veggies.

Instead of eating a large carton of greasy Chinese food, get a small container along with a large container of steamed veggies. Mix ½ of the small with all of the large and you have just made your meal a heck of a lot better!

JUST MAKE IT BETTER gives you freedom to stay clear of feeling denied. You can have fun being creative. You can slowly include more and more fruits and vegetables and swap out most processed foods. If you do it slowly and have an open mind, you might find this way of eating a perfect plan for you, too. You don’t have to overthink…..you have to JUST MAKE IT BETTER!

 

 

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LESSONS FROM LIZZO

This summer, I fell in love with the singer-songwriter, rapper, and flutist, Lizzo. download.jpgLizzo is a big girl—some would call her plus-sized, others would simply say that she’s fat. No matter your view, Lizzo belts out lyrics about self-love, body-acceptance, and being your own soulmate.

Of course, there are those Lizzo haters—the people who say that she’s encouraging others to be fat and unhealthy.  While I have not done extensive research, I have never heard Lizzo encourage people to be fat, eat junk food, or not to exercise. She, instead, wants women to stop fighting themselves and to move towards a place of acceptance, no matter what their size.

I love Lizzo’s messages.

Since Lizzo has stirred up a lot of controversy, I started thinking more about what it means to be healthy. Given that the mind and body are connected, I can make the argument that perpetual mental distress about your body can lead to stress and anxiety, which has a huge impact on physical health. So, is a skinny woman, obsessing over food, her weight, and how much she exercises, healthy? What about someone with a “perfect BMI”, who never exercises and has no muscle mass? Or someone, who needs to shed 20-30 pounds, but eats well, exercises, and is in great cardiovascular shape?

Clearly, the definition of “healthy” is not so clear.

Now that 2020 is almost here, I think we all should aim for more self-acceptance. I’m not suggesting to ditch exercise, to be sedentary, or to eat a diet full of processed food. Do the best you can, but treat yourself with kindness along the way. I have always believed that if you put yourself first (so many women can’t), you will ultimately be better to everyone. As Lizzo says, “IF I’M SHINING, EVERYBODY’S GONNA SHINE!”

Amen sister!

 

 

 

 

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JANUARY 1st: DON’T DO IT!

Now that it’s the middle of December, this is a perfect time to talk about my least favorite 4-letter word: DIET. If you’ve been reading my posts, you will know that I don’t like diets simply because they don’t work. I promise you that if they did work, I download.pngwould feel differently. This 4-letter word might be floating around in your brain as we head into the holiday season, knowing that January 1st is just a few weeks away.

This past year, several of my clients decided go down the diet path—some of them went on Weight Watchers, others chose different plans. Not surprisingly, all of them lost weight. Not surprisingly, all of them re-gained some or all of the weight back. Long-term weight loss happens only when you make real lifestyle changes. My clients who have done that, have been successful.

So, what’s the difference between the two? A diet is a plan that you follow but has some built in restriction that prevents you from sticking to it long-term. I have two issues with this:

  1. Diets mess you up mentally: Failure leads to frustration, self-loathing and in some cases, obsessing over food and what to eat.
  2. Diets mess you up physically: When you start to lose weight, while there is fat loss there is also muscle loss. Muscle mass is what keeps us strong and metabolic. Often times, especially on a low-calorie diet where weight loss is rapid, there will be more muscle loss. If you abruptly go off the diet and re-gain the weight quickly, there will be fat gain. After all is said and done, you might weigh the same, but your body composition could have changed leaving you with more fat and less muscle. Who wants that? NOT ME!

Lifestyle changes are set up for you to do them forever. There is more freedom, no restriction, and no rigid time frame. Realistic small changes are made and once the first change seems easy, you move on to the next one.  If something doesn’t work, you tweak the process and figure out what will work. Lifestyles changes are dynamic.  They evolve over time and change since aspects of your life do as well.  The goal is to make behavioral changes that become a way of life, not something you do temporarily.

While lifestyle changes are gradual and fluid, you won’t be successful unless you are committed to making a long-term investment in yourself. This is not easy. However, obsessing about weight, going on and off diets, gaining and losing weight, is its own special kind of hell. I don’t want that for myself or for any of you! My advice? Instead of starting a new diet, take a moment to think about what you want, and what you are willing to do.

 

 

 

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CAN’T GET STARTED? BE CURIOUS!

Many people come to see me wanting to lose weight. (I would love for people to focus, instead, on being healthy, but that’s a topic for another blog.) In most cases, the greatest obvious nutrition obstacle is the time needed to plan, prepare and prep. Even if you’re not cooking a lot, eating healthily still requires having a plan and executing one takes time. My clients and I also talk about the fundamentals needed to be successful, which include:

  • Paying attention to hunger and satiety
  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Trying to eat as many whole foods possible. (Or, trying to eat as little processed food as possible.)
  • Having healthy snacks on hand
  • Watching the amount of unhealthy carbs consumed
  • Moving your body as much as possible

Then, we proceed to the specifics of their life—their lifestyle, their food preferences, their willingness to cook, their family unit, their work, how social they are, and how much time they are willing to dedicate to good nutrition. All of these will factor into creating the right plan for them. Since we are all different, no two plans will be identical.  Once armed with some structure, many people do very well. And many don’t.

If you are stuck and can’t seem to get started, I want you to be curious. Curiosity is a IMG_1275positive!  Unlike self-deprecation, curiosity keeps your mind open. It makes you take a closer look at your behavior, without judgment, so that you can unpack WHY you act (or not) in a certain way. Often times there is a less-obvious obstacle preventing you from achieving your goals. Being curious might uncover something much bigger—something deeper, that you need to address.

A client of mine wanted to lose weight and so we had several discussions and created a plan. When she got stuck, she became curious. And after some painful introspection, she realized that the underlying issue was that she had to  start focusing on her social life (or lack of one). It was much easier for her to zoom in on weight loss—she kept convincing herself that losing weight would be the answer to all of her problems. Once she uncovered this, she was able to address her deep-rooted issue, which was far more important than simply losing some weight.

From my experience, the worst thing that you can do for your mental sanity is to keep starting something, not being able to maintain it, and stopping. This is so damaging and deflating to your sense of well-being. In this blog, I used the example of weight loss but it applies to anything in your life that you keep starting and stopping: exercise, cooking, meditation, making time for yourself, reading more, learning something new, spending more time with loved ones, etc. Instead of yo-yo-ing, take a breath, stop and be curious. Be a detective so that you can uncover the deeper, hidden issue. You will then be better able to tackle your obstacles once and for all!

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