Keep It Simple, Santa

Composite image of santa claus delivering gifts with bicycle

It happens every year. I vow to keep calm and carry on. And then the Christmas season comes  upon me with such a clatter I have to continually check in just to see what’s the matter.

What’s usually the matter is I have cluttered up my schedule and complicated things by attempting to do, be, or have too much in a tiny little window of time.

At the end of the year when all I really want for Christmas is enough peace on earth to reflect on a year well lived, I have to resist getting caught up in the buzz of busy-ness that creates a holi-daze.

Of course not everyone loses it this time of year. Some might even suggest it’s the most wonderful time of the year. I suspect they have a strategy. This year I’m going with Keep It Simple, Santa.

A co-worker tells me she limits shopping to four items for her immediate family.  She gets them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

I also know a few wise men and women who give the equivalent of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This roughly translates to something that recognizes the recipient’s divinity, purpose, and suffering along the way.

Admittedly last week was not one of my better weeks.  The story I was telling myself was not one that made me feel very good about myself or anyone else, frankly.

I’m a coach. I know better. I help people find a way out of their funk all the time. I have a toolkit of tricks, my own set of gifts from the Magi I wasn’t using.

Until I remembered that no matter how hard it is to be kind and generous and believe in the greater good despite any and all evidence to the contrary, it is the only way I want to go through life. I want to believe in good for goodness’ sake.

So yesterday I found my toolkit and took out my #1 tool – gratitude (gold). I started counting my blessings instead of the random boxes of holiday decorations strewn from one side of the house to the other. I told myself I get to make up whatever story I want to about my life and the people, places, and things in it. Why not choose something supportive, even enchanting?

Then I took out tool #2 – movement (frankincense).  I proceeded to do a week’s worth of Say It, Sweat It, Get It workouts and was sufficiently humbled but equally elated by the aftereffects. Doing them as intended for 5-minutes each day wouldn’t have been so shocking to my system as doing them all at once, but I was delighted to discover I still had it in me. I’m now a huge fan of Erin Stutland’s approach to fitness. She keeps it simple. (Not to be confused with easy.) And it was all for free! Now that’s supportive.

And you’re reading tool #3 – expression (myrrh). I wrote and wrote and wrote, slept on it, edited and edited and edited, and finally pressed Publish. Writing is how I make sense of my life. Yours may be cooking, skiing, restoring houses, collecting antiques, square dancing, mixing music, playing cards, whatever brings calm to the chaos.

All of these tools remind me of the first of the timeless truths on my Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming Through the Holidays.  You are only one thought away from a new perspective.

In my grand attempt to end the year on a high note of grace, gratitude and goodwill, the goal is to keep it simple.  Or, as Kris Kringle shows us in Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, put one foot in front of the other.

What about you?  What strategies get you through the holi-dazeShare your favorites in the comments below.

 

Break Up with Your Scale

Weighting scales with  measuring tape. Diet concept. 3d

It’s Day 14 of my 21-Day detox and we’re heading into the homestretch. While the daily discipline required to stay on course is intense, I’m loving the confidence that comes with cleaning out my body and mind while connecting deeply with my soul.

There are as many reasons to do a cleanse, detox, or a purification as there are people who do them. Many people, however, do them to lose weight. And if they diligently follow a particular protocol, they usually do.

Unfortunately, unless they continue with the habits put in place during the detox, the results usually aren’t sustainable. Granted, the first couple of days, no one wants to continue after Day 21. But about half way through when they start feeling better, they might consider it.  By the end of it, they may have lost all desire to go back to their pre-detox habits.

I’m all for breaking up with unhealthy habits. Because breaking up is hard to do, my first rule when detoxing is to Become a Badass. I mean this in the best possible way.

You must be kind and compassionate to yourself and others. But you must be ruthless with the terrible tales you tell yourself about your inability to stick with anything for more than a minute.

Cleansing requires considerable courage. Toxins come in many forms – from the foods we eat to the air we breathe to the people we surround ourselves with.

When I detox, I’m no longer able to tolerate toxins the way I did before. Becoming a Badass is an act of bravery. I have to let go of things I no longer need since holding on to them sabotages my health and well-being.

For example, as my first official act of Badassery, I broke up with my scale. To me it was a liar, a terrorist, a tyrant, and a thief.  I decided to no longer accept its feedback as a measure of success or failure during the detox or any time.

I refused to let the scale diminish anything I might innately know about my body, like how it feels, what it needs, how I nourish it, or how I find pleasure in it. I refused to let an ever elusive number impact my day, my mood, my perspective, or my relationship with myself or others.

I have no need to give my power over to something as fickle as a firecracker. A scale can’t measure if I feel lighter, leaner, or more confident. It can’t begin to measure how much clearer my thoughts or complexion are or how much more emotionally available and spiritually connected I am. It cannot imagine the thrill of embodying fully.

The thing is I’ve always possessed the power to expose the scale for what it is. I  trusted it more than myself when I was younger. But not anymore. I trust my body to weigh whatever it wants to when I am nourishing it well and moving it meaningfully.

As a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, I know the damage a scale and what it represents can have on self-worth and body image.  I’ve seen how it contributes to a multitude of eating disorders.

If you have a healthy relationship with your scale, you may not need to break up with it.  Maybe your issue is with something else. Whatever it might be, call it out.

This is necessary in order to follow my Second Rule of Badassery:  Take back your power from whoever or whatever shamed you or made you feel less than all of who you are.

I’ll leave you with these words for advice. “Never ask if anything makes your butt look big. Assume you look marvelous because YOU are marvelous. You’re a Badass, for goodness sake. 🙂

Who or what do you need to detox from this week?  I’d love for you to share if you dare in the comments below. 

Also, if you are interested in learning more about detoxing, I’m starting a new project called The Detox Diaries.  If you’d like to follow along, let me know and I’ll send you an email when the blog is ready.

The Secret to Sustainable Success

front door standing welcome

I spent the better of Sunday pondering the secret to sustainable success as I sliced and diced and cordoned off portions of dietary staples for the upcoming week.
In terms of sticking to my new eating plan, the unequivocal answer is preparation. From shopping to chopping it’s all about the prep. This explains the impressive collection of colorful ceramic knives I scored for my birthday along with some bamboo cutting boards and mixing spoons.
Had you asked me a year ago if I would be spending weekends frequenting farmer’s markets, foraging around local food co-ops, attempting to plant an herb garden, figuring out how to compost, consorting with nutritionists, or getting needled by acupuncturists, I would have assumed you had me confused with my Santa Fe friends.
The truth is I didn’t embrace this lifestyle until recently when I discovered that eating well is the fundamental secret to success.
Please don’t confuse eating well with eating extravagant meals, preparing elaborate dishes, or coupling exotic spices with complicated and hard to find ingredients.
Eating well in my book means eating whole foods you can easily pronounce, readily find, and effortlessly digest.
We’ve gotten carried away with convenience, making it the number one reason we eat what we eat, when we eat it, even why we eat it.
I get it. We are busy people. Convenience soothes a stressed out soul.
But it wreaks havoc on our health. It was certainly messing with mine and I knew better. Yet I felt incapable of competing with its allure. Until I decided I must.
It’s been a year long journey into learning how to nourish myself. I’ve experienced as many setbacks as successes. But I am profoundly changed by the lessons learned and transformed by my training as an Eating Psychology Coach.
How I previously defined success has been seriously called into question. I didn’t spend forty years wandering around the desert only to get to my personal Promised Land and decide I liked it better where I came from because it was more convenient.
Oh no. There is no going back. Not even for mango margaritas.
I haven’t reached my Promised Land before because it’s incredibly hard to get here. It’s even harder to stay. Consequently, I’m determined to set up shop.
The secret to sustainable success is we are responsible for sustaining it. We have to pay attention and work with intention every day, course correct, scratch some of our best ideas, begin again, ask for help, be generous, have fun, and remember to give thanks for living in the land of milk and honey – even if it comes with a few mosquitoes.
I couldn’t have arrived here before because, admittedly, I wasn’t ready. If I got too distracted, hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, all bets were off. I had no healthy snacks and I had no Plan B – or options for the rest of the alphabet, for that matter.  In other words, I was not prepared.
I couldn’t recognize success for what it was because I couldn’t recognize myself for who I was becoming. Suffice it to say, it’s been a work in progress.
And now that work is cut out for me. It may appear to some as the same work I’ve been doing all along.  However, coming from a new vantage point makes all the difference.
After 8 months of intense training, I’m thrilled to be able to call myself an Eating Psychology Coach and passionately practice the work that’s been a guiding force throughout my life.  
In the next couple of months I’ll unveil my new website along with opportunities for you to join me in challenges and adventures that invite you to sustain your idea of success. 
Sound fun?  Hope so!  Leave your questions or suggestions in the comments below.

EPCC-Coach-Badge-500x500

If You Give a Moose A Muffin…

Elk in the woods
There is a series of children’s books written by Laura Joffe Numeroff  and beautifully illustrated by Felicia Bond detailing the outrageous shenanigans that follow when a child takes a seemingly innocent first step like giving a moose a muffin, a dog a donut, a cat a cupcake, a pig a pancake, or giving the mouse who started the whole thing a cookie.
When I stepped into this experiment called getting my groove back a year ago, I had no idea I would be stepping into a similar situation as the unsuspecting character who gave the moose, the dog, the cat, the pig, and, of course, the mouse what they wanted.
As we’ve all learned even if we haven’t read these fabulous fables, one thing leads to another and another ad infinitum.  Some of these things are hilarious, some are mischievous, some are expensive, some are silly, some are unfortunate, and some are surprising.
And surprise, it turns out, is one of the things that most of us try to avoid.  But according to the authors of the fascinating book called Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected, it’s one of the things we should embrace in order to spark the best kind of change in our lives.
The thing about my journey or any journey is that we don’t ever really know what we’re in for, even if we think we do.  The brilliance of our ignorance or beginner’s mind is absolutely essential if we are to be open to what lies ahead.
Preconceived notions or assumptions of how long it is going to take, how much it is going to cost, how easy or difficult it might be are usually based on our past experience or that of someone else.
Even though that experience may serve as a helpful guide, it will continually pull us out of the here and now if we are not open to the element of surprise and the many gifts of an unpredictable present.
For example, at the end of my How to Get Your Groove Back class I wanted to give participants the opportunity to physically experience what we had been discussing and understand what it felt like to change eating habits, improve energy levels, curb cravings, reduce hormonal fluctuations, etc.
So five of us embarked on a 21-Day Purification with the assistance of a functional medicine doctor and me, their newly certified Eating Psychology Coach.
Having done something similar six months ago, I thought I knew what we were getting into.  Suffice it to say, I did not.  Surprise!  The first day my predominant thought was, “What was I thinking?”  I’m sure the others were wondering the same.
But as the days progressed and we figured out what we could eat, found our comfort foods and figured out how to prepare them, and started losing weight and noticing a difference in our energy levels, skin, moods, and stress levels, we were amazed at how quickly we were adapting to the new world order.
In a very short time, we were able to make significant shifts in our outlook and health that previously none of us thought would be sustainable. Ironically, as much as we looked forward to Day 22, that’s when the real work started.
Like the unlikely actions that follow feeding a moose a muffin, I’ve become this version of myself I’d only imagined I could be.  I’m actually excited about kitchen knives and cutting boards, joining a co-op, and spending  the weekend tackling the clutter around every corner (while listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo).
As Einstein said, No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” It wasn’t that I was unhappy before.  I just knew if I wanted to get to my own personal Promised Land, I was going to have to take a different route if I intended to get there this lifetime.
So I did what we all need to do from time to time.  I did what graduates and retirees and entrepreneurs the world over are urged to do.  Give a moose a muffin.  And let the adventures begin!
Share if you dare in the comments below. What grand adventures await you?

Detox Take-Away #8 – Sleep On It

Newborn Baby Boy in a Teddy Bear Costume

I’m a big fan of sleeping, dreaming, snatching some shut-eye, napping, you name it. Sleep provides the necessary perspective that excess caffeine or carbs can’t quite copy despite our attempts to chemically induce enlightenment.
It turns out sleep is also a really important player in the weight loss game. Experts consider it as important to health, well-being, and weight as diet and exercise. Yet almost two-thirds of us don’t get enough sleep in a typical week.
Most of us know what it feels like to be sleep deprived. But we may not be aware of its consequences.
Because fatigue dulls the activity in the part of the brain where decision making and impulse control reside, making good decisions becomes increasingly difficult when drowsy. When we’re overtired, the brain’s reward centers seek something that feels good. Temptations we may have been able to resist when well-rested cause us to cave when can’t keep our eyes open.
The type of foods we want when we’re sleepy tend to be of the energy dense, high carbohydrate variety.  Think candy bars, cookies, chips, soda, or energy drinks. These cravings coupled with a lack of impulse control can lead to bigger portions, late-night snacking, and all kinds of actions that can lead to weight gain.
Lack of sleep messes with our metabolism as well as hunger and satiety hormones like gherlin and leptin that clue our brain in to when we’re hungry and when we’re full. Cortisol can spike, sending the message to conserve energy and store fat. Insulin can also be impacted, making it difficult to process fats in the bloodstream and adding to the hunger hormone havoc.
Realizing this, one of the new habits I incorporated during the detox was getting more sleep.  This meant going to bed earlier. This was challenging because I often don’t get home from work until 7 or 8pm and then there’s dinner, dog walks, a little tv time, and tending to my blogging business.
I had to give up my late night routine of regularly bathing my eyes in the artificial light of my electronic devices and engaging in activities that stimulated my brain (Lumosity, anyone?). I needed to shift from work mode to relaxation mode. While unplugging a device shuts it down immediately, unplugging myself takes a little while.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry that I had eaten a heavy meal or consumed alcohol or caffeine before bedtime during the detox. However, it did make me realize how often doing so had interfered with my sleep.
By creating a reasonable regular bed time, I also established a natural and consistent waking time.  (No alarm clock for me, thank you.) I used to live for the weekends so I could sleep in. Now I find myself getting up at approximately the same time no matter what day it is. Mainly because my brain is badgering me to write and my belly is begging me to eat.  At last I have the energy and enthusiasm to create a day worth writing about.
What about you?
Do you get enough sleep? What helps you get the rest you need? How does not getting enough sleep impact you? What steps can you take to get more sleep?
Leave a reply below.

Detox Take Away #6 – Trust the Process

discovering new places

When I used to teach fitness classes, I remember thinking how much more motivating it might be for students if they could immediately lose a pound or two after completing a workout. Sure they felt better after having mobilized their bodies and activated their endorphins, but wouldn’t they be more willing to stick with it if they experienced instant weight loss?
We all know the real work of shape shifting takes time and consistent effort.  When goals are attained too easily or quickly, we can miss the message or sabotage the results. For many of us, weight is an incredible teacher. It certainly gets our attention and packs a wallop of emotion when we gain it or lose it.
Detoxing not only our bodies but also our brains is bound to take some time. We carry a lot of toxic beliefs about what we should weigh, how we should look, and how much of our value depends on an arbitrary number on the scale. Despite all my training, I’ve held on to some rather insidious beliefs about my weight that simply don’t serve me or anyone else.
Changing these beliefs and patterns of behavior is not easy.  There are a lot of variables to consider when attempting to make or break a habit. Factors like how often we automatically or unconsciously engage in the current habit, what benefits we get from continuing with the current habit, and what kind of habit we are attempting to change all impact the speed at which we can progress.
At the outset, 21 days seemed like a long time for a detox diet. However, I kept telling myself that 21 days in the course of a lifetime was not too much to ask. I reminded myself that I would gladly do this if it could save the life of a loved one. Hitting the reset button for myself might just save my own life.
I will not lie.  Some days were difficult. Every day I counted down the days until I would be done. Social situations were like land mines because they required special preparations and explanations and more effort than would be required if I just stayed home and kept the whole process on the down low.
The up side is that I felt better, cleaner, and lighter than I had in years. My brain fog lifted, my energy surged, and those few stubborn pounds melted away. But it didn’t and couldn’t happen overnight.
About half-way through the detox process I realized the only way out was through. I had to keep going. No matter how much I thought I knew, there was more to learn.  And that meant trusting the process.
Trusting the process meant relaxing into life. Trusting the process meant letting go of how I thought it should go. Trusting the process meant no matter what happened, I would be able to handle it. Trusting the process meant allowing the universe to have my back.
When I could do this, eating this or not eating that did not seem insurmountable.  Such a simple idea in theory.  But one that takes a lifetime of practice.  Or at the very least,  21 days.
Have you done a detox diet?  What lessons did you learn?
I’d love for you to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.