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Welcome to Thrive!
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people dressed as Santa Claus

10 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays

1. Eat the foods you love!

Instead of filling up on low-calorie, cardboard-like food to help you “avoid temptation,” make your favorite foods a priority. Eat them first – even if they are cake and cookies! When you give yourself permission to eat any foods that you enjoy, it’s much easier (and natural) to stop when you’ve had enough. If you avoid these foods, eventually deprivation will drive you to eat them – usually in an overeating or binge episode – so you don’t even allow yourself to enjoy them. Feelings of shame follow and you beat yourself up for “blowing it” once again. But this isn’t about blowing it or being weak, if you eat what you really want, you can enjoy it and move on, feeling satisfied. Go for your favorites first, and…

2. Truly SAVOR those favorite foods you’re eating.

When you first allow yourself to eat your favorite foods, you may feel an urge to eat them quickly, to shove them in before anyone sees you or before you actually notice! This isn’t unusual, especially if you’ve been avoiding these foods like the plague. However, similar to avoiding your favorite foods, eating them quickly will also backfire. You can’t enjoy food you eat quickly and feel guilty about eating. If you truly love a food, eat it with love – be mindful and notice the taste, texture, subtle flavors and all the wonderful attributes you can’t discover when eating mindlessly.

3. If it isn’t delicious, don’t eat it.

You may begin to eat a favorite food and find that it doesn’t taste as good as you imagined, or remember. This can happen on occasion when you allow yourself to eat a food that you usually restrict when on a diet. This could also occur when you try a different brand than you’re used to, or even a different recipe. No matter the reason, if it isn’t as good as you imagined, throw it out. Starving children on the other side of the world will still be starving, whether you throw it out or eat the entire thing. But YOU will feel the difference, and you’ll likely feel deprived if you eat it, leaving less room for something else that might taste really good. Just get rid of it, let go of any guilt, and try another food that looks really yummy!

4. Say “NO” and stay firm.

You probably know who the food pushers are among your family and friends. I used to give in and eat more, to avoid hurt feelings. But I didn’t feel good overeating, and I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the gathering. It finally occurred to me that food pushers don’t care about MY feelings! If I said, “no, thank you” or “I’m full,” the pushing didn’t stop. I now set an intention to honor my body and my boundaries. If you’re full, or you just don’t want more, say ‘no’, with the expectation of having your boundaries respected. Say it politely, but confidently. If all else fails, ask if you can take some home for later or ask for the recipe. It’s your body and you decide what and how much you put in it.

5. Don’t allow others to comment on or question your body or what you eat.

I don’t understand why some people think it’s appropriate to say anything about someone’s body. This includes comments about how “thin” someone is or how much weight they’ve lost – this can be triggering for many people. Think about it – someone says, “You look great, you’ve lost weight!” How did he/she think you looked before you lost the weight? And why is it anyone’s business? There’s truly no good reason for any comments – even if it’s done out of a concern for “your health.” You cannot determine how healthy someone is by the size of her body – period. If you receive comments, feel free to speak up and say it’s not ok, or walk away if necessary. Our culture is so weight-focused, many people don’t know comments can be damaging – if it were pointed out, I’m sure many would stop.

6. Don’t engage in or put up with diet and/or body talk.

Along the same lines as comments about your body and/or eating, you don’t have to put up with diet and body talk. This time of year many people plan their diet and exercise resolutions, while eating all they can before January 2nd. As you stop dieting and make peace with food, all this discussion will likely annoy you! Don’t we have anything better to discuss? The best solution is to attempt to change the topic, or simply find a more interesting discussion with other people. If it’s really prevalent in your family or circle of friends, you can suggest ahead of time that you have a day free of diet and body talk. You may be surprised how many will actually love this idea!

7. Engage in extra self-­care.

Self-care is important anytime of the year. But this is the time we push even more, stress over time and money, and expect way too much from ourselves. It’s easy to put self-care on the back burner to make that one last shopping trip or attend one more holiday event. Instead of cutting it out completely, try shorter bouts of self-care, but keep up the frequency. Focus on self-care you want to do, let go of the “shoulds.” If you’re an introvert, make sure you have extra decompression time for yourself. If you need help with all the things you have to do, ASK! Get your needs met – it’s the only way to meet the needs of everyone else and keep up with the demands of this time of year.

8. Focus on happiness!

Research shows that humans are happiest when they stay in the present (instead of the past or the future), when they have experiences (instead of collecting material “stuff”) and when they actually demonstrate compassion towards others and engage in helping others, (instead of dwelling on self too much). The holiday season certainly offers many opportunities for reaching out and helping other people. Whether it’s volunteering at a food bank, or visiting a lonely neighbor, you don’t always have to invest hours and hours of your time to help others and benefit yourself as well.

9. Connect on a spiritual level.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, religion, or faith, connecting to something bigger than yourself provides a sense of peace and a feeling that there’s a bigger purpose to our lives. Simply taking a few minutes to meditate or just be present can be enough for some. For others, it means attending services or special events. Whatever spirituality means to you, having this deeper connection with something bigger than yourself can keep you grounded and provide that sense of inner peace so many of us are seeking all year long, and especially during the holidays. This is extremely important for anyone working on overcoming the use of unwanted coping mechanisms, like emotional overeating.

10. Have FUN!

If you don’t have fun in your life, make some! Over the years of working with so many women who want to stop overeating and/or binging, I’ve discovered that a crucial missing ingredient in their lives is FUN! The only “fun” they have, according to them, is eating. Ironically, it really isn’t fun, because it’s causing a lot of emotional pain. So even the fun isn’t fun. If you can’t think of anything fun, think back to your childhood – what did you enjoy doing as a kid? Is there something you’d like to learn, take a class perhaps? (Please do not consider any kind of weight loss or nutrition classes!) During the holidays is a great time to revisit some of your favorite places or holiday traditions you had as a child.

Perfectionism is a Roadblock

Perfectionism Strikes Again!

I’ve been thinking about perfectionism a lot lately. It’s a trait that I’ve let run much of my life. Mainly because I wasn’t aware of what it was doing. Becoming aware of our thoughts, behavior, patterns, and more is an important first step in making peace with food and overcoming emotional overeating. It’s also the first step in overcoming many other obstacles in life, including being a perfectionist.

The reason I’ve been thinking about perfectionism is despite the work I’ve done to release my inner perfectionist, there’s another layer that has recently shown up. I need to uncover what it’s about in order to achieve a couple of goals that currently seem unattainable. But now it’s clear that wanting to achieve these goals “perfectly” is the block, I just need to figure out how to release it – and soon, hopefully!

Back when I was working through my issues with dieting and overeating, and learning intuitive eating, I discovered how much perfectionism kept me from finding peace with food and my body. Wanting to be perfect kept me dieting. Not being perfect led to frustration and overeating. Guilt and shame from overeating and not yet achieving perfection led back to another diet.

Perfectionism got in the way unexpectedly when I was working on awareness with my eating. I had those moments where I just wanted to numb-out with one or two of my favorite binge foods. My goal was to stay aware and make a decision when I would feel one of these urges to overeat. I was tired of sleeping off binge eating sessions, wasting hours at a time.

There were three choices. I could choose to eat (this must be an option, otherwise you’ll stay stuck in the diet-binge cycle). I could choose to identify the emotion (if I knew it was an emotion causing the urge). The third choice was to find something to divert my focus from the overwhelming urge to eat. I wanted to practice this diversion, or distraction, option because it was often easier to do and took less time than dealing with my emotions in that moment (and I could come back to my feelings when I had more time).

The concept of distraction was new to me. In my mind, I had two choices – the first to overeat. Taking the time to identify and process my emotions (a.k.a. feeling your feelings) was the other option I knew about. This one was scary since it was easy enough to overeat, but it felt difficult and time consuming to deal with emotions. However, if I chose to feel my feelings, according to Diet Mentality, I was GOOD and I was making a GOOD choice. The distraction option actually felt like I was “cheating”, because I was doing something other than being GOOD.

Looking back, it’s very clear this was simply another version of my old standby, perfectionism. It said I needed to make the perfect choice, which was the GOOD choice – to feel my feeling. The truth, however, was simply that I had three equally valid options: to eat, to distract or to feel my feelings. In reality, none of these choices made me a better or worse person. It makes sense now, but at the time I couldn’t understand why I kept overeating and never choosing to feel my emotions. Clearly I was stuck in perfectionism and deeply attached to the Diet Mentality. The guilt and shame and relentless noise in my head would never allow the easier, and valid option of distraction.

Perfectionism is actually a part of the Diet Mentality. In Intuitive Eating, we learn that the Diet Mentality is made up of three main components: failure, willpower, and all-or-nothing thinking (a.k.a. black and white thinking). The need to be perfect fits into all-or-nothing thinking. A food is either good or bad. You are either on a diet or binging. Something is either right or wrong. There is no room for the middle of the road, or any grey areas. You are either perfect, or a complete screw-up.

This thinking is so common, you can find it everywhere, not just diets or “eating plans”. And everywhere it exists, it causes problems. In my case, it would not allow me to try distraction, which is a very effective and valid option to help an urge to overeat pass. I eventually learned I could choose distraction, and if the urge came back later on, I could then decide to look at what emotions may be coming up.

Allowing myself to choose distraction (and reject perfectionism) also made the times I chose to overeat not as intense as they were in the past. Because all three options were now equal, I didn’t have that “little voice” telling me to eat as much as possible since this would be the last time I ever ate _________ (fill in the blank).

The next time you have that urge to overeat hit you, consider distraction. Call a friend, turn on some awesome music, go play with the dog, find something enjoyable to do for whatever length of time you need (it’s often not nearly as long as you think). Keep an eye out for perfectionism if you’re feeling stuck – you’ll be surprised how much easier life can be once you’ve moved past it. Just keep an eye out for it – it does have a funny way of showing up when you don’t expect it!

Need help moving past perfectionism? Want to figure out if it is causing your inability to overcome overeating, and even losing weight? Let’s talk about it and get rid of perfection so you can move forward! I invite you to schedule a time to talk about this…just go to to fill out a quick form and pick a date and time on my calendar.

When we get on the phone, we’ll talk about what’s going on and look for the reasons why the perfectionism is hanging on. I really look forward to speaking with you – I’d love to help you find the freedom that I and countless others have found by giving up the need to be perfect and being able to make peace with food and your body!

woman surrounded by junk food

The 8 Major Obstacles to Overcoming Overeating

Several years ago I was trying to answer the question, “How do I do what I do?” It’s not easy to explain the making peace with food process (especially to those entrenched in the diet mentality), and it’s even more of a challenge to explain coaching in general.

There are several areas that I work with my clients on. And our work focuses on solving issues in these areas. These issues are in fact, obstacles that block people from making peace with food. So while this process is very different for each person, as is coaching, obstacles seemed to be a good way to describe the process and make it relatable to those struggling with food and body issues.

Here are the 8 major obstacles to overcoming overeating and making peace with food:

1. Lack of Foundation (Knowing Your ‘Why’): If you don’t know the real reason you want to achieve something, you will lose your motivation quickly. Building a foundation requires knowing your personal values and what you really want at a much deeper level than just, “I want to lose weight.”

2. Diet Mentality: This is a huge obstacle. From a very young age, most of us have been taught how we should look and what we should and shouldn’t eat. At the same time, we are also taught that food is love, food will make us feel better, and we are a very food-centric society, with every celebration centered around the food. These conflicting rules and ingrained habits are what lead us to dieting, followed by overeating, followed by guilt, taking us back to dieting.

3. Learning and Applying the Basics of Mindful/Intuitive Eating: Many people start the process of intuitive eating only to find they have turned it into a diet full of rules and restrictions. It takes time to learn these principles and really apply them. Most of us, including myself, went back and forth between intuitive eating and dieting before it finally clicked and felt right. (But it’s worth it for a lifetime of peace with food!)

4. Negative Self-Talk: I think it’s safe to say that this is one issue that almost everyone wants or needs to overcome. The first step is being aware of it. Some people have those negative tapes playing all day long and they don’t even hear them, but the subconscious does. After being aware of it, the next step is to learn how to handle the talk. It’s my experience that ignoring the “voices” or telling them to go away won’t do it. Those voices are a part of you, so rejecting them, yelling at them to go away, or other similar strategies don’t work very well. Neither do affirmations where you say things to yourself that you don’t even believe. There are better ways of dealing with the voices and changing the self-talk to take a more positive tone.

5. Avoiding or Reacting to Difficult Emotions: Classic “emotional eating” is basically eating in response to strong feelings that you do not want to feel (conscious or otherwise). By “pushing the feelings down,” you get to temporarily avoid those feelings or the situations that are causing the feelings. Food can be used as a numbing agent, and when you overeat to the point of feeling sick or guilty, you can now focus on beating yourself up and planning your next diet, instead of dealing with what is really going on. The problem is if you don’t eventually allow yourself to feel your feelings and process them, they will always come back, often stronger than when they initially showed up.

6. Not Getting Your Needs Met: When you don’t feel your feelings, you are not going to be aware of what you are actually feeling (sad, angry, lonely, bored, etc). Therefore, you can’t identify what you might actually need (talking to someone, taking a walk, asking for help, etc.). In turn, when your needs are not met (and again, you may not even be aware of this), it is very easy to subconsciously turn to food because it temporarily fills the emptiness and creates a distraction. This is a vicious cycle that cannot be escaped without discovering your feelings, determining your needs, and getting them met.

7. Lack of Self-Compassion: Self-Compassion is an extremely important skill to learn. If we can’t be compassionate towards ourselves when we make mistakes or in times of difficulty, we end up in a place of judgment, “shoulding” on ourselves, and engaging in all kinds of negative self-talk. Using self-compassion allows for honoring our feelings, soothing ourselves, acknowledging we aren’t alone in these experiences and it brings us back to the moment and being mindful. This is a much better place than the past and regrets, or the future that we often put our lives on hold for, waiting for everything to be perfect. Research on happiness shows humans are happier when they stay in the present, regardless of their circumstances or emotions at the time.

8. Lack of Self-Care: Self-care is much more than lighting candles and soaking in the bathtub. It’s about taking care of your needs in several areas, including physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and wellness. It’s about creating a “balance” in your life – but balance doesn’t necessarily mean splitting your time and attention evenly among all four areas. It is about dividing your time and attention in a way that meets your true needs and desires and fits into your values (as determined when working on obstacle #1).

So there you have it – 8 major obstacles to overcome to stop overeating and make peace with food. You may already have some handled, and others may need more focus. This is normal. Take it at your own pace, learn along the way from your setbacks, and get ready to see not only your relationship with food improve, but other areas of your life as well!

2 woman exercising

Can Exercise be Intuitive?

Intuitive Eating is a wonderful way to overcome the obsessive diet mentality that can occupy every waking moment. It puts an end to endless thinking about what you should and shouldn’t eat, counting calories, how good or bad you are based on what you’re eating, and many other thoughts and beliefs that take the pleasure out of eating and feeding your body.

You may have noticed that this pattern repeats itself in many other areas. It’s been said that how you do food is how you do life. I completely believe this. I’ve seen people who have overcome using food to cope switch to using shopping, for example. They buy things instead of feeling their feelings and then restrict money and deprive themselves things as a way of controlling some emotion they are trying to avoid dealing with.

Another place I see the same pattern is with exercise. No where else is the mentality associated with dieting more common than in fitness and exercise. With exercise, especially when used as a means to lose or control weight, you can see so many similarities to dieting. There’s the guilt of not doing it or not doing enough. There are tons of “shoulds” that just make exercise feel like a chore. Exercise is often used as punishment for being lazy or eating too much. There’s also a compulsion, much like dieting, to exercise when you’re having a bad body moment (or day, week, etc.)

I was working with a client that was just burned out on exercise and she wasn’t sure why because she used to love it. Part of the problem was she was overexercising and anxious when she missed a workout because she was obsessing over her weight. Many of her workouts were also too intense and she wound up getting sick as a result. We were brainstorming around this and realized we could apply intuitive eating principles to exercise. We (being very original!) called it, “Intuitive Fitness.”

Certainly we aren’t the only people to make the connection or come up with this idea. In fact, since this a-ha moment with my coaching client, I’ve seen this concept discussed around the blog-o-sphere and it often comes up in the Intuitive Eating Yahoo Group.

I suggested to her that she was approaching exercise with a “diet mentality,” like many do with food. It was all or nothing – either she worked out really hard, beating her body into submission and doing extra exercise as punishment for overeating, or she would do no exercise at all.

So we talked about applying intuitive eating principles to exercise. Before exercising, she would ask herself how she felt and what her body wanted to do that day. This included the type of exercise and the intensity. Some days she worked out hard, and it felt great, and others she took it easy, just walking or doing yoga. This really worked for her and she began to like exercise again and was much more consistent.

Here are a few “principles” I’ve come up with based on approaching fitness from an intuitive perspective:

1. Focus on “activity” and being active. The word “exercise” often feels negative because of it’s association with dieting and punishment for overeating. Activity can be fun, it can feel good, and it can be of any intensity, not just “hard” as exercise is usually perceived.

2. Honor your body. Ask yourself how you feel in the moment. Do you want to push yourself today? How is your energy level? Any kind of activity is going to improve your energy. Check in and see if your body wants a challenge, to relieve stress or tension, or something in between. Just like your hunger varies from day to day, so will your body’s energy and ability to be active.

3. Respect rest. Overexercise is a big problem when using activity as a way to burn calories or lose weight. Rest and breaks from exercise are just as important as activity. It’s during rest that your body recovers and rebuilds itself stronger so you can continue to be active and reap all the benefits of regular activity.

4. Make activity part of self-care. When activity is about self-care instead of punishment or control, your attitude towards it will become more positive and you will embrace it more easily. It will also be easier to honor needed downtime, such as when you are sick. When exercise is about control, unnecessary guilt shows up and interferes with self-care.

5. Determine your own “guidelines” about activity. There are a lot of rules out there about exercise. These include what kind of exercise you should do, how much, how hard, how often, etc. These rules are about as helpful as all the rules about dieting. Let them go – how can you possibly expect yourself to exercise for 30-60 minutes at a moderate intensity for however many days a week the “rules” say if you can’t walk down the block right now? Decide for yourself what is enough and trust that your body will adapt and you will be able to do more over time.

The above are my ideas so far. What ideas can you share? What is working for you? How are you approaching fitness “intuitively”? Let me know and we can develop this idea further together!

2 3 food groups

The Three Food Groups

If you are familiar with mindful, or intuitive eating, you know one of the main principles is to eat what you really want. This means allowing all those foods back in that you avoided or couldn’t have because of the rules of whatever diet (or “lifestyle plan”) you were on. This can be scary for many because they think they can’t control themselves around certain foods or they are afraid that complete permission equals weight gain. While it may be hard to believe, full permission really does cause you to want and eat less of those foods (it may take a while, but its true!)

The most common question I am asked when it comes to full permission to eat whatever you want is: “What if I have a medical condition and my doctor has told me I can’t eat [fill in the blank] food?” I understand the confusion, it’s like mixed messages, eat whatever you want but don’t eat this or that based on the doctor’s advice.

For this reason, and many others (like food allergies or sensitivities) I like to share the concept of the Three Food Groups. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything close to what you learned in school (that was sponsored by the meat and dairy industries, by the way). And it’s not the boring food pyramid that the government has come up with and keeps changing just when you think you have it figured out.

Simply stated, the Three Food Groups are: 1) Foods you really like, 2) Foods you don’t like, and, 3) Foods that don’t “honor” you. Surprised? Keep in mind that eating intuitively means you are relying on cues from your body to tell you when and what to eat instead of following some other person’s idea of how you should eat.

Group #1: Foods You Like (even love!)

Satisfaction from eating is extremely important. If you are hungry and wanting something like pasta, or a turkey sandwich, but opt for rice cakes because they are lower in calories, you are not going to be satisfied. You may spend the day looking around for other things to eat and end up eating more calories than if you just ate what you really wanted. It’s important to get satisfaction or pleasure from food because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have much drive to eat, leading to a serious lack of energy and an inability to carry out even everyday tasks.

The foods you can include in this group are anything you really like or love. Yes, that includes chocolate, ice cream, or whatever else you tend to deny yourself when dieting. And most importantly, do not consider how “bad” or “forbidden” the diet mentality tells you those foods are. I assure you, by working on intuitive eating principles and taking care of yourself, you won’t be eating those previously scary foods day in and day out. You’ll really savor them when you eat them, and enjoy lots of other satisfying food from this food group.

Group #2: Foods You Don’t Like

When I was growing up, it was a rule that I had to try any food that was put in front of me. Unfortunately, some foods that I really couldn’t stand I still had to eat for whatever reason. Needless to say, this has created for me an aversion to trying new things (I’m getting better) and an intense dislike for certain foods like mayonnaise, hard boiled eggs, and beets, among other foods. I’m sure you have at least a couple of foods you really don’t like. If you are still choking them down because you’ve been told they are “superfoods” or prevent this or that, now is the time to let them go. There is such a variety of food available to us that you can always find a food you like to get the nutrient or benefit you are looking for.

Group #3: Foods That Don’t Honor You

This is where it all comes together and answers those questions about health issues, allergies, personal preferences, etc. You may absolutely love fettucini alfredo but you have heart disease and know this is something that would not support your health. In other words, it doesn’t honor you or your body. Another example that comes up often is a diabetic that really loves sugar. She loves it, so at first sugar may seem to go in Group #1, but because it could make her sick, potentially progress her diabetes, and/or cause her to have no energy it may be better in Group #3. The best way to be at peace with the fact that the sugar doesn’t honor her is to make a decision that she prefers to feel healthy and energetic over the brief pleasure she may get from the sugary food.

Food allergies are found in this group as well. If you have a true food allergy (you’ve been diagnosed with it), then that food will not honor you. Let’s say you are lactose intolerant. Do you want to have stomach and intestinal distress just to eat that ice cream? It’s your choice, but honoring yourself and your body is a form of self-care – an essential part of overcoming overeating.

Sometimes what appears to be a food allergy is really a matter of the amount of the food you are eating. I hear all the time, “I’m allergic to sugar.” I don’t know if there really is such a condition, but my experience tells me that this person has problems when she eats more sugar than honors her body.

I remember the days of grabbing a large bag of candy, hiding from everyone so I could binge on it, and then having to lie down and sleep off how awful I felt. Today, I can have candy, but I have an amount that honors me and I have had the pleasure of the candy and I can move on with my day feeling just fine. The main thing with this food group is to remember that you are making a conscious decision to not eat something you may like because you want to honor your body and take care of yourself.

I hope this has given you some “food for thought”! If you are tired of the endless dieting and trying to beat your body into submission, please consider finding freedom for yourself with intuitive eating.

woman making heart shape with hands over belly

Weight Loss Starts With Listening to Your Body

“I blew it this week, I’ll start again Monday!” Sound familiar? Women always make this promise after having blown yet another diet. After the binging, guilt and punishment pass, you plan your next diet, hoping for a different outcome. While the diet industry wants you to think you’re a failure and need a new diet or more “willpower,” this isn’t the truth.

Permanent weight loss and a healthy relationship with food come from learning how to eat intuitively. Infants know how to do this, so do “naturally” thin people. Watch a baby – she screams and demands food when she’s hungry, regardless of the time of day or if her mother is busy or tired.

When she is full the bottle is refused or the food is thrown on the floor. She doesn’t have a need to clean her plate or eat everything so she can have dessert. By re-learning to eat intuitively, your body will return to its natural weight and you can maintain it without dieting, deprivation or excessive exercise.

So if we were born with this innate ability, why are so many people disconnected from it? Well, as a young child, you probably heard messages such as, “eat everything on your plate and you’ll get dessert”, or “you can’t be hungry, it’s not dinner time!” Maybe your grandmother was offended if you didn’t eat seconds. And you were probably forced to eat things you didn’t like in order to get a cookie or ice cream.

As you got older, you learned about dieting from your friends at school. And the magazines you read told you how you should look and feel about yourself. As an adult, you are still inundated with these messages. It’s no wonder everyone is confused, feeling like a failure!

There are four main reasons why we overeat:

The first is “diet deprivation backlash” – every time you go on a diet, you have certain “bad”-listed foods. Many are probably your favorites, such as chocolate, cookies, or cheese. The more you can’t have it, the more you crave it. For every diet you attempt, you can expect a binge to follow. When you eat intuitively you can eat the foods you love, when you’re hungry, without weight gain!

Emotional eating is the second reason. Eating for emotional reasons is a learned behavior, usually from childhood. By doing this, you are actually stuffing down your feelings with the food. This allows you to focus on feeling sick from overeating and you get to beat yourself up for doing it, thereby avoiding the original emotion and situation.

It can be painful, but it’s better to feel the emotions and work through them. Some people who cannot lose weight are actually subconsciously making sure the weight stays on so they have something else to focus on (being overweight, feeling guilty) instead of their true emotions.

A third reason we overeat is a lack of truthful nutrition information. With all the diets and so-called nutrition “experts” telling you what, when and how to eat, it’s easy to be confused. When you learn intuitive eating your body will let you know when it’s hungry and what it wants.

While high-protein diets are dangerous and the weight loss is not permanent, eating a small amount of protein every time you eat is a great strategy. If you eat nothing but carbohydrates, you will probably be hungry in an hour. Protein helps buffer carbohydrate in the stomach, slowing down digestion and keeping you satisfied and your blood sugar stable.

Finally, we overeat from getting too hungry. You have probably experienced this a few times – you forget to eat or keep putting it off until you are so hungry you are shaking, feeling dizzy, unable to concentrate and irritable. When you finally eat, you have no control over how much you are consuming. You keep eating, still shaking, thinking you are still hungry. This goes on until you finally feel the food in your stomach, after eating way beyond just satisfied. You may even feel sick to your stomach, and the guilt and shame will follow.

Pay attention to your hunger and eat when you first feel it. This will prevent weight gain and the desire to go on yet another diet to punish yourself.

All these reasons lead us to overeat, keeping on the undesired weight. One of the problems with diets is that weight is a symptom of non-hunger eating. By addressing the symptom instead of the cause, the diet – binge – diet again cycle continues. The next time you consider a diet, try listening to your body first. You may be surprised at the wisdom it is ready to share with you!

sign that reads Love Your Body

Got Body Esteem? Find out how!

“A waist is a terrible thing to mind.” Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of “Intuitive Eating”

Quick — When you see yourself in a mirror, what’s the first word that pops into your head? Do you think, “Wow! Girl, you’ve got it going ON!” Or, do you think, “Momma’s got too much back!” If it is the latter, you most likely have poor body-esteem, or a “bad body image.”

Body esteem is similar to self-esteem. It describes the way you feel about your body and the effect that it has on your overall well-being. If it is poor, you may live your life always trying to beat your body into submission through exercise, diets, constant criticism, and waiting until you lose weight to start living your life fully.

Here’s a secret you probably don’t know. In order to permanently lose weight and achieve your goals, you need to accept the person you are NOW.

You’re probably asking, “How can I accept myself when I am not happy with my body?” This is a common question. But consider this, “How has feeling this way and continuing this war with your body worked so far?” I would guess you would answer, “Not very well.” So why not try something new?

Psychologist Judith Rodin, in her book Body Traps, said, “You don’t need to lose weight first in order to take care of yourself. In fact, the process actually happens quite in the reverse!” This is a fact the diet industry has been keeping from you for a long time!

Here are a few tips I share with my clients that can help you improve your body esteem:

Become an intuitive eater. Stop dieting! Research has shown that only 5 percent of those who diet have any success. This means 95 percent of diets fail, and too often, dieters gain even more weight! When you stop dieting, eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full, you release yourself from all the stress, guilt, shame, and restriction that accompany dieting.

When you learn to listen to your body’s signals about being hungry and being full, your body will eventually return to its natural weight– and stay there. A recent Ohio State University study found women who appreciated their bodies ate intuitively and actually had a lower body mass index than those who were dissatisfied with their bodies and kept dieting.

Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are and who accept themselves, too! Stop talking about your weight, your diet plan, and what you are eating.

Wear clothes you love and that fit you right now. There are stores that cater to people of your size, shape, and fashion. If you need to, hire an image consultant to help find clothes that work for you. Get rid of anything in your closet that doesn’t fit comfortably. Feeling miserable leads to thoughts of food and shame, which lead to the refrigerator! You know that your clothes size differs depending on the maker. Don’t let a number tell you how to feel about yourself!

Stop comparing yourself to others. Do you find yourself checking your body as you walk by mirrors or store windows? Checking your appearance can prevent self-acceptance by making you overly critical. Don’t look at those magazines on the check-out stands either! Comparing your body to others usually results in more self-criticism and body hatred.

While you are throwing away old habits, get rid of the bathroom scale as well! If the doctor wants to weigh you, ask that they don’t tell you the number. If you’re addicted to the scale, scale back (couldn’t resist the pun!) Cut back to once a week, or even better, once a month. Remember, the scale does not tell the whole story. Your weight can fluctuate up to seven pounds during any given time during the month.

You know this one — Exercise. Exercise is necessary for your overall health, for relieving stress, and lessening depression. Many forms of exercise can have an effect on the way we feel about our bodies and ourselves. To heighten your body awareness, practice walking meditation, t’ai chi, yoga, or movement therapy.

Don’t link exercise with weight loss. Do it to boost your body esteem. Start exercising now. Studies show that even obese women gain self-pride and a better mental outlook through movement. Walking or biking are both great for an instantaneous change in the way you feel about yourself.

What are you waiting for? Start viewing yourself as a wonderfully made woman. You are uniquely made. Your body knows what its needs are. Listen to what’s inside and the outside will be transformed!

Want to learn more? Check out, and sign up for my free newsletter. I look forward to hearing about your success!

exercise motivation words

Move It!: Top 7 Exercise Motivation Solutions

We all know we need to exercise. Many of us know how to exercise. How many exercise books and videos do you own? How many gym memberships have you had in your life? You may even be an expert on the perfect exercises for your body. But you’re not doing it! Why? Well, the problem isn’t lack of knowledge… it’s lack of motivation.

With all our responsibilities and commitments, including work and family, it’s hard to find the time, let alone the energy, to exercise. Sure, we know it will give us more energy. And we know it can improve the quality of our lives. Still, it drops to the bottom of the priority list week after week, month after month. Did you make another resolution this year to get in shape or lose weight? How long did it last? According to American Psychologist, over 25% of fitness resolutions are abandoned in just the first week! It is not easy to stick with or get results.

What can you do? Focus less on gaining more knowledge, and more on getting and staying motivated. As you become more consistent and start seeing results, you’ll be able to apply all that knowledge. Here are seven solutions to getting and staying motivated:

Solution One: Find Your “Why”

In order to be successful at any endeavor, we must have a good reason for doing it in the first place. Exercise is no exception. What will get you up in the morning on those cold, dark days when you just want to stay in bed? Many people say “because I want to lose weight” or “I want to be fit”. While these are good goals, they are not good enough reasons for long term success. You must dig deeper. What is important to you? What do you value in life? Answer these questions, then see how a regular exercise program can support your values. This will enhance your motivation to exercise.

As an example, let’s say you value being a good parent. Your children are very important to you and you want to be an available, attentive and supportive parent. How can exercise support this value? For many people, exercise releases stress which may otherwise manifest itself as anger or impatience that could be directed at your children. Exercise also creates more energy, which any parent knows is essential when raising children!

Find your “why,” write it down, and remember it when you start making excuses to skip exercise.

Solution Two: Make a Commitment

Once you find your “why,” it’s time to make a commitment. Here’s a definition of commitment you may not have heard: a commitment is the ability to carry out a worthy decision, even when the excitement of making that decision has passed. Read that definition again, and really understand it. How many times have you been excited to start an exercise program, only to become bored or distracted by other things? As soon as the excitement passes, so do your exercise plans. Be sure you are ready to commit, and if you are not, then commit to NOT exercising. That way you can let go of the guilt and recommit to exercise when you’re ready.

Solution Three: Set Daily, Measurable and Realistic Goals

If your only goal is to lose 40 pounds, it will be a while before you feel successful. After all, it can take a while to see such results. Rather, set daily measurable, achievable goals that allow you to feel successful every day. Keep a weekly diary and set goals each day for what kind of exercise you will do, how long you will workout, how hard you will exercise, etc.

When you start your exercise program, write down what your ultimate goals are. Then write down smaller goals, maybe monthly goals. Break it down even further to weekly goals such as how many days a week you will exercise, or how many minutes you will workout for the week. You can even set daily goals so you feel successful with each workout.

Solution Four: Keep Track of Your Progress

After you set your goals and write them down, begin to chart your progress. Be sure to write down your daily achievements to compare to your goals. This will become extremely motivating as you see yourself meeting your goals. With consistent exercise, you will also see your workouts becoming easier and your ability to work harder and longer. This often happens faster than visible results on your body, such as weight loss or definition. Many people become frustrated and quit exercise right before big changes are about to happen, because they don’t see the results on their bodies. Seeing measurable progress on paper will keep you motivated while you work towards the bigger goals you have set for yourself.

Solution Five: Get Objective Feedback

You may know what a good workout feels like – you have that endorphin “high” after exercise, or you have energy to spare all day long. But do you know what an effective workout feels like? It is hard to know how effective your workout is every day without waiting for weeks or months to see the results. What if you could see day after day how many calories you burned, or what your heart rate was during each workout? Using a heart rate monitor can tell you if you are working too hard or not hard enough. It also will show improvements in fitness levels as you continue your exercise program (for example, your heart rate will be lower for a given exercise as you become more fit).

What about calories? We know that one pound of fat is made up of 3500 calories. Are you burning this many each week? An accelerometer can tell you all day long how many calories you are burning and keep you motivated to move! When you look for ways to add activity to your day it becomes a fun game and you can instantly see the results.

Solution Six: Avoid the “All or Nothing” Mentality

Have you had plans to exercise five times one week and the first day something happened and you didn’t exercise? When this happens, many people give up on the rest of the week. It’s similar to when someone “blows” their diet by eating cake and then says, “oh well, I guess I’ll start again on Monday,” and continues to overeat the rest of the week. This is known as the All or Nothing Mentality. Keep away from this – it doesn’t work. If you approach your exercise and nutrition program in that manner, you set yourself up for failure. When we get busy, go on vacation, get sick or the in-laws are visiting, if we use the all or nothing approach, we stop our exercise program for a week or two, which turns into a month or two, and it is so hard to get back on track.

Instead, have a backup plan. Create workouts that you can do at home, at the office, outside, while on vacation, and other likely scenarios. If you can’t exercise for a full half hour, know that ten minutes will bring you benefits and closer to your goals. If you have to miss a workout, let it go and resolve to continue tomorrow. Remain flexible in your exercise plan, because life requires it!

Solution Seven: Be Accountable!

About 95% of all participants in an exercise program will stop exercising. Why? No support. Research has shown that exercisers with some kind of support system have a better chance of continuing exercise. You also need accountability for your exercise. If you have a friend that you exercise with, and both of you can talk each other out of exercising on a particular day, this may not be the person to help you with accountability. Working with someone like a personal trainer, a coach or a mentor will give you the support you need and you can work together to identify barriers to keeping your commitment and develop strategies to overcome these obstacles.

You can work with someone in person, over the internet or by email, or over the phone. Find the system that best fits into your life to ensure your success. What this support person will do is hold you accountable for your exercise. Because he or she will be checking in with you, there is more incentive to follow through with your commitment to exercise. Most people need far more support, follow up and accountability than they think to start and maintain an exercise program.

In the interest of avoiding the all or nothing mentality, don’t try to implement all these solutions at once. Pick one or two and when you have those working, add another one. Just like results from exercise, building motivation and consistency will take time. Fitness is not just about reaching a destination, it is a journey where you will learn much about yourself and grow from your experiences. Keep your short term goals in mind, and enjoy the journey to reaching your ultimate goals.


7 Ways to Transform Weight Stigma & Shame Into Your Own Personal Power & Resilience

For decades, or even longer, marketing people in several industries – diet, fitness, beauty, food, fashion, and more – have known the most powerful motivator for getting customers to buy their products. What’s this all powerful force that magically removes money from even the most budget-conscious among us?

It’s shame. These industries are experts in making us believe if we don’t have that thing or look this way, we better take care of it now, or else walk around knowing everyone is judging us and we should judge ourselves, too.

Simply turn on the TV anytime of the day to see this in action. Commercials tell us that our teeth aren’t white enough, our car isn’t new enough, we aren’t eating the “right” foods, or exercising enough, etc. It never ends. Even the shows the commercials sponsor tell us how we should look, feel or live our lives. And if we aren’t as perfect as all the perfect people on TV, if we can’t raise 4 kids, work full time, keep the house clean, and have enough energy for our spouse at the end of the day, we aren’t good enough and have to keep trying.

The worst, in my opinion, are the messages about the size of our bodies. It’s one of the very last “acceptable” prejudices. It’s apparently still ok to make jokes about “fatties” and perpetuate the myth that they could change if they really wanted to. All of these attitudes “legitimize” the weight stigma and keeps it going, even now, in a time of heightened awareness of and sensitivity and understanding towards so many different groups of people that had also been stigmatized in our culture.

It has to stop. Years ago when I was in the throws of chronic dieting and binge eating, I could have given you many reasons why I deserved to feel shame. I was convinced that I would never be good enough as long as I wasn’t at my “goal weight.” Girls as young as 3rd and 4th grade have already learned that it’s a “bad” thing to be even the slightest bit over what’s considered a “normal” weight, and many are obsessed with the scale and what they’re eating.

Weight stigma and shame tell us that we aren’t of any value – at all – until we attempt to reduce the size of our bodies. It becomes a moral issue – if you are trying to lose weight and/or you’re eating “healthy” food, then you are a good person.

But if you decide you want that piece of cake, or you don’t feel up to going to the gym today, all of a sudden you’re a “bad” person. How dare you be kind to yourself! You don’t deserve kindness or self-care until that horrible, evil extra weight is gone!

How would you feel if someone actually said these things to you? Whether you believe them or not, you’d probably be pretty angry and even defiant, thinking you don’t deserve to be spoken to that way. You didn’t ask for anyone’s opinion and why does this person think it’s appropriate to comment on your body!

So why is it ok for YOU to make these types of comments or judgments about YOURSELF? Do you hear the things you say about yourself and to yourself? The first time I actually listened to what I was saying to myself, I was horrified. It was mean, so much meaner than anything anyone else ever said to me.

While there are some things we don’t have much control over, like what other people think or say, we do have the ability to change what we think, how we act and react, and how we perceive the situations we find ourselves in. We can take personal responsibility for our own happiness and create resilience, which is the best antidote to shame.

I’d like to share 7 common situations that create stigma and shame around weight, and how you can take your power back, boost resilience and move on, instead of letting them take you down and further away from what’s important to you and your life.

1) Pay Attention To Media In All Forms

Messages about how we “should” look, think, eat and other aspects of our lives are everywhere. Many are obvious, like the cover of magazines or huge billboards. But others are very subtle. I’ve already mentioned the jokes that male characters often make about not wanting to meet anyone that doesn’t meet their standards for thinness. But have you noticed how many female characters on TV sitcoms worry about their weight or what they eat – not to mention the characters that comment on others’ weight and what they are eating.

It’s all supposed to be funny, but it’s not very funny in real life, especially when the comments are directed at you. The bigger issue is that these show essentially dictate what we should think is funny – especially those with the stupid laugh tracks!

There are small changes being made over time. I personally have not seen, “This Is Us,” which I believe is fairly new. I’ve seen blog posts about one of the main characters, who has some serious challenges with her weight and living with it. The good news, from what I’ve read, is that her struggle is portrayed quite accurately, showing that she’s not just sitting around eating bon bond and being “lazy.”

The point here is that we all need to stay aware of the messages you’re being sent in all forms of media. This includes TV programs, movies, magazines, commercials, books, radio, podcasts, most of the internet, and yes, even the news! Remember, someone is always editing the information before it’s dispersed. It doesn’t hurt to ask yourself what the motive is of those that are bringing you this information. Don’t be paranoid – but be aware and proactive!

2) Reject the Myth of Health

Has someone ever commented on your weight, and then told you it was only out of love and a “concern for your health”? Sincere concern or not, it’s still inappropriate. Your size and weight DO NOT define your health. No one, including doctors, can determine your health status by looking at you or the number on the scale.

If you’re hanging on to this belief, or someone you know continues to get on your case to lose weight “for your health,” take 2 minutes to do a search for “HAES” or “Health At Every Size,” and take a look at all the scientific references that prove you can carry more bodyfat than conventional sources recommend, and still have excellent health markers, including normal heart rate, blood cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.

There are many people who are considered “overweight” by cultural standards (and by the very flawed BMI chart), that are actually in excellent health. They’re active, energetic, they make self-care a priority, and most importantly, they do not diet, restrict calories or nutrients, or spend every waking moment obsessing over what they “should” eat or how they “should” lose weight.

3) Remember That Doctors Are Not Infallible

Speaking of health, have you ever gone to the doctor about a particular symptom (like a cough, back pain, labored breathing, etc.), only to be told you need to lose weight? This is NOT appropriate!

Like any profession, there are many excellent doctors and then there are some that can’t look past their own outdated opinions or prejudice. I’ve heard too many stories about someone going to their doctor because of a sore throat and being told to lose weight. Really, for a sore throat! And don’t get me started on the futility of forcing patients to be weighed regardless of their reasons for visiting. (You can say you don’t want to be weighed – you are the customer!)

If your concerns are glossed over when you go to the doctor, and you’re told you just need to lose weight, it’s time to find another doctor! Everyone deserves respect and to be listened to by their health professionals.

4) Create a “Diet-Free/Body-Bashing Free Zone”

When you get together with your friends or even family, what are the main topics you discuss? Chances are you often land on the topic of dieting, exercise, weight loss or what you’re eating/not eating (especially when it’s a group of all women). If you pay attention, you’ll notice these topics are discussed everywhere – whether at work, with family, in ‘mommy’ groups, while eating out, anywhere and everywhere.

As you work on making peace with food, I guarantee this will begin to annoy you. Better to put an end to it now! Suggest to those you’re hanging out with that you have a “body/food/dieting-free” get together. Challenge yourselves to find other topics that are meaningful, or at least more fun than bashing and shaming yourselves and seeking false reassurance (as in, “no, those pants don’t make you look fat…”).

5) Beware of Comments About Weight Loss…

Remember how good it felt when you were dieting and someone said to you, “Wow! You look great! Have you lost weight?” Did you ever stop to think, “Well, how bad did I look before if he/she is making comments after I’ve lost weight?”

What happens when you inevitably gain that weight back (as 97% of all dieters do)? No more comments, and the silence is deafening, isn’t it? It produces shame without a single word being said – in fact the shame is there because nothing is said. This shame drives more restrictive dieting and body bashing, and that person that said nothing has no idea this is happening. Keep this in mind before sharing your own comments about someone else’s weight loss.

So many of my clients, who at one time lived for comments about how thin they were (when they were in the thin phase of yo-yo dieting), are now triggered by those same positive comments! A comment about how “great” they look can feel quite triggering.

This is why I have my own policy that I never comment on someone’s body, even if they have LOST weight, and even if I know they want me to say something. It’s never helpful and you don’t know how it could trigger someone.

On the other side of this commenting situation, if you have lost weight, do yourself a favor and DO NOT expect or start “fishing” for comments. Confidence and self-respect come from inside yourself. Cultivate your own confidence and respect instead of looking outside of yourself for it. Allow others to comment on how kind of a person you are, or how supportive, loving, caring, helpful, etc., that you are, not on your physical characteristics.

6) Try Using Compassion

You have probably heard before that anyone who makes a comment about your body, your weight, your looks, etc., is actually demonstrating their own insecurities, it’s NOT about you. But sometimes knowing it’s the other person’s issue isn’t enough to ease the pain. Another approach I like to recommend is finding a way to have COMPASSION for this person, instead of letting what he or she said take away your own power, leaving you with shame.

Think about it – how sad is it that this person needs to tear down someone else to feel better about him/herself? Having compassion will remove the power this person and his/her comments have over you – they are meaningless and truly not about you.

Remember – having compassion doesn’t mean you need to express compassion. It’s similar to forgiveness – it’s about getting you out of pain, no one needs to know but you. When you feel sorry for someone like this, they become insignificant and so do their actions, without you having to say a word.

7) Listen to What You Tell Yourself

Don’t forget to listen to what you’re saying to yourself! Call it whatever you like, the “mean girl,” the voices, your inner critic — if no one else should be talking this way to you, neither should you!

One helpful way to change how you talk to yourself is to consider a young child in your life. Think of a daughter, granddaughter, niece, or other child that you know personally that’s under 8 years old or so. Imagine saying something to her that you say to yourself. How would she feel? Does she deserve it?

Of course she doesn’t deserve it. And because she’s young and impressionable, if she hears it enough, she’ll believe it and it will affect her for years to come. Your subconscious is no different! Watch what you say to yourself and start replacing the mean comments with self-compassion and kindness to yourself and your body.

Can you relate to many of these situations? None of them are your fault (even the last one – that is learned from dieting), and you don’t have to put up with any of them, either. You have the power of choice – what you watch or listen to, who you hang out with, who helps you manage your health, and especially what’s going on in your own head.

Rude, mean or plain clueless people are out there, and they will continue to make comments. What we have the power to do is decide how to react, whether to believe the comments or not, and if we will let them interfere with our lives and whatever we are here to do in our lives. It’s a powerful choice! The more you build that resilience, the less it will affect you.

Let me know what you try and how it goes! I’d love to hear your stories!