The Nuts Are Complimentary

bob and penny up close laughing

My all time favorite joke goes something like this.

A guy walks into a bar…

Instead of the usual grief, he’s hears, “Hi there, Handsome,”  “Well, aren’t you a breath of fresh air?”You work so hard, you deserve all the respect and success you have earned and then some.”  On and on it goes, everything he’s ever wanted to hear.

Imagining he must be dreaming, he says to the bartender, “What’s going on?”

The reply?  “Oh, that’s the nuts.  They’re complimentary.”

I love that joke for many reasons.  It’s funny, it’s clean, and like the nuts, it’s complimentary.

Who wouldn’t love to walk into a place where everyone knows your name and the very things about you that make you extraordinary, endearing, valuable, and lovable?

With this in mind I am on a mission to surround myself with things and people that complement my life. Easier said than done, of course.  But this is the impetus behind the relentless removal of that which does not spark joy.

In the past month I have deleted over 1,000 emails from my Inbox, 7 boxes of books, 9 bags of clothing, 3 boxes of pantry items, a truck load of miscellaneous garage and basement stuff, and I’m just getting started.

Although Bob is generally elated about this, when he saw me eyeing my shoe collection, he thought about calling my family for an intervention.

Shoes are sacred territory in my world.  If they went, he feared he might be next. But shoes, by their very nature, are made for walking. Bob is one of those complimentary nuts I want to keep around.

At this time of year I’m usually in full flower frenzy. This year, however, a clean sweep is in order.

My first clue that I had some cleaning to do was when my computer refused to function. Apparently it had been quietly accumulating updates and all kinds of miscellaneous clutter over the years to the point that my hard drive was full.

If it had been attempting to inform me of this all along, I didn’t pay any particular attention.  Freezing up and holding all my content hostage, however, did get my attention.

After a few choice words, I had to laugh at the literal perfection of this predicament.  After a year and a half of non-stop training, learning, and accumulating knowledge there was literally no place else for the download of information to go.  My cup runneth over.

Knowing how dramatically two dietary detoxes within a six month period could improve my health, I decided to apply the same principles to my home, my office, my bookshelves, and a few relationships.

Like changing my eating habits, changing my environment would require an undeniable reason to do so and a fool-proof plan.  These came in the form of a little book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  and an understanding that in order for new things to come into my life, I must release what’s over and done with.

While there is a certain amount of melancholy that accompanies the letting go of unexpressed potential, there is great joy in surrendering to who I am now.  A quirky coach who can help people get their groove back. The only real requirement was that I do the work first and get my own house in order.

Although I have gotten my groove back, I still have some tidying up to do.  And if I do it right, I will free up enough room on my internal hard drive for life’s latest upgrade.

What about you?  What’s spurring you into action this summer?

Share if you dare in the comments below.

The Gift of a Year

patio fruit looking into camera
Birthdays are like New Year’s Day.  They are an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again,  with more experience, courage, and hard won wisdom.
This year I am celebrating the beginning of my new year in the most unlikely of places, a remote fishing village on the Canadian border where snow is forecast for tomorrow.  No part of it was my idea.  Bermuda was my idea. But I’ll take any chance I get to put myself in front of a body of water, plug in my laptop, open a vein and let the words pour out.
This past year has been an intense one for me.  Although I am impressed by what can happen when I consistently put my mind, energy, and resources behind an idea, I’m also ready for some rest and reflection.  What better place to do that than in a rustic cabin where freezing rain and the threat of snow hamper any ideas of hiking?
The last time I was here, I was not a happy camper.  I was experiencing hormonal shifts that were causing mild panic attacks, brain fog, mood swings, and general irritability.
What I didn’t know then but am acutely aware of now is even though you are told it’s just part of getting older and you’ll have to learn to live with it, it isn’t and you don’t.  It’s just that most people don’t talk about it and therefore don’t understand there are plenty of things you can do to feel better.  Suffering in silence is not one of them.
The past year for me has been all about getting my groove back and helping as many people as I can  do the same.  So many people have said to me, “I thought it was just me.” Or “I thought I was losing it.”
I found functional medicine doctors who could help me figure out the havoc my hormones were wreaking in response to the confused communications from command central. I don’t blame my brain for rallying the troupes around the wrong initiatives. I blame a lifetime of eating habits based on convenience, comfort, and toxic nutritional beliefs and generally checking out when I should have checked in and made some course corrections.
Dismantling the habits learned over a half a century required some serious commitment, along with a few costly mistakes, considerable investments in products and services, an adventurous spirit, and a healthy dose of humor. I read every book I could find on about nutrition, wellness, and becoming ageless.
A year later, after two 21-day detox/purification processes, learning to select and prepare nutritious foods, getting regular acupuncture treatments and exercise, and completing an 8-month eating psychology coaching certification program, I’m down 20 pounds.  My blood pressure and cholesterol are down as well.
Is this the best gift I could give myself at this point in my life?  Absolutely.  Could I have done it sooner and saved myself a lot of grief and emotional anguish? Possibly.  But in order to sustain this lifestyle shift, I had to understand why it mattered so much.
Although it would have helped me tremendously a decade ago, some journeys take time.  It took Moses forty years to find his Promised Land.  According to that timetable, I’m right on schedule.
There is no going back and pretending I don’t know what I now know. So though it’s been a little silent on the blogging front as I’ve been figuring this out, teaching classes, and meeting with local doctors and nutritionists, my goal for next year is to bring this information to you on a regular basis. I think of it as creating a GPS system so you don’t have to spend years wandering around the desert, questioning your sanity.
What about you?  If you gave yourself the gift of a year, what would you love to accomplish so much that you’d be willing to put a plan together now to get there?
Share in the message 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.

Detox Take Away #3 – Less Is More.

The world in a drop of water
I love food writer Michael Pollen’s take on nutrition. In his book Food Rules he succinctly sums it up like this. “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.”
I used to think I needed to eat a lot more than I really do.  I held this belief partly because I like to eat, but mainly because I wasn’t really aware of what I was eating or fully present when I was eating.
If I don’t slow down and pay attention to what I’m eating, when I’m eating, and even why I’m eating, I inevitably eat too much, too fast, and without a clue as to when I’m actually full and fully nourished.
Most of us are so busy we scarf down our food in an ongoing attempt to keep our fuel tank from running on fumes all day.  Seldom do we stop to savor a meal or take the time to select foods that actually nourish us.
Before the detox I’d skip meals or load up on carbs, sweets, or other foods that only made me crave more of the same later.    This usually meant when I got home from work and didn’t have the metabolic power working for me that I would have had earlier in the day.
Even though it seemed like I was eating less because I was skipping meals, I was actually eating more.  By the time I did eat, I was ravenous and that seldom led to good choices.
During the detox I came to appreciate everything about a meal from purchasing the ingredients to preparing the food to presenting the meal on an appropriately sized plate.
Because I’ve always been on my own, I had not done this consistently for kids or family members. It became a profoundly nourishing way for me to support myself in making changes to the way I’ve eaten most of my life.
When we eat high quality, nutrient dense foods like I mentioned in the last post, we don’t need to eat a lot of food.  So many of us eat foods devoid of actual nutrients. This means our bodies naturally crave more food in an attempt to get the nutrients we need.
I understand it may seem more appealing to snack on a bag of chips or M&Ms than some celery with almond butter, but your brain, your body, and your belly would love it if you’d give it a try.
That’s today’s take away.
Next up:  Why Size Matters.
Share your comments or questions below.

Detox Take Away #1 – Freedom through Discipline

sign direction risk - reward
As a former free-spirit, if anyone dared to suggest my life might be easier by imposing a few more rules or a little more structure,  I would have laughed. Wanting to be free to move at a moment’s notice or leap whether the net appeared or not, I was all about keeping my options open.
Eventually all that uncertainty takes its toll.  Ironically, the kind of freedom I was really craving came through discipline.
Nowhere was this more obvious than in my approach to eating.
Years of pretending to be eating healthy while skipping meals, over consuming carbohydrates, and leading a more sedentary lifestyle was a definite detour from the wellness way I thought I was following.
The detox provided a much needed GPS.  Life became so much easier once I knew what I was going to eat, when I would need to eat it, what I needed to buy, and how to prepare for various contingencies.
Prior to the detox, the daily “What’s for dinner?” dilemma opened the door to all kinds of bad choices, especially if I waited too long to answer it. Then anything and everything was fair game.
The detox forced me to plan my meals, plan my snacks, frequent the grocery store more often (because fresh foods don’t last too long), and bring order to the food court so poor choices were no longer an option.
Once I implemented the plan, I was rewarded with consistent energy throughout the day, an even temperament, and a better ability to find the center of calm when chaos threatened to reign.
Those of you who have been preparing family meals already know the importance of planning. But for someone like me who has been making meals mainly for myself, planning seemed unnecessary.  Especially when popcorn or soup could suffice.
The detox forced me to take a disciplined approach to everything from meal planning to meal timing.  We all know what happens when we get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Hangry.  And all kinds of whacked out.
So I got to treat myself like I would treat a small child left in my care.  I had to purchase, plan, and prepare the most nutritious meals I could given a specific set of criteria.
In order to keep it interesting, I placed the food on colorful and appropriately sized plates. I used cloth napkins. I relaxed and tasted the foods, savored the smells and spices, and allowed myself to feel nourished not only by the food but the effort that went into the preparation.
The results were profound.  After one too many meals consumed in the car on the way to a meeting or at my desk while replying to emails or in the kitchen in a quick and unconscious attempt to stuff the stress of the day away, this was a game changer for me. So was salmon for breakfast, but I’ll fill you in on that in a couple of days.
For now, I’ll leave you with this question. What’s nourishing to you?  How can a little prep time or planning pay off  and allow you to feel really nourished by what you are eating?  Especially if you live alone, how can you make meal times sacred?
We all have to eat.  It’s a requirement for being in a body.  Why not make it a pleasurable event?
Next post I’ll share with you Take Away #2 – Eat High Quality Foods.
Until then, eat (good food), drink (lots of water), and be merry (or whatever you happen to be feeling)!
Share if you dare below.  I’d love to hear your questions or suggestions.

Top 10 Take Aways from a 21 Day Dietary Detox

good food, health and life
Sometimes life demands that we push ourselves way beyond our comfort zone. We can accomplish incredible things or even fail miserably but learn the lesson of a lifetime in a relatively short amount of focused time.
In the fitness world we call this “burst training” or Tabata training. Tabata training involves going all out for cycles of 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes. It’s proving to be more effective than the traditional thinking that would have us spending hours at the gym or on the treadmill.
My personal version of “burst training” during the last month included a 21 Day Dietary Detox, creating an e-book, starting a coaching program, and holding down my day job. While we all juggle projects, family, and jobs, when I mentioned detox to anyone their immediate reaction was, “I could never do that!
I get it. I had the same sentiment six months ago when my functional medicine doctor told me I needed to give up sugar, flour, wheat, pasta, and essentially everything I relied on to get me through the day.
Admittedly, I went kicking and screaming into this new world order. But as I started to experience the benefits of adopting these guidelines and read the science behind it, I became convinced this was a better strategy than continuing on my current course, which left me feeling fat and fuzzy.
In my effort to sustain this new way of eating, I initially allowed myself some leeway to eat a few of the “forbidden foods ” without guilt or judgment. My results were good but I was not making the great strides in svelteness I had been lead to believe I could achieve.
In their fabulous book, It Starts With Food, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig explain it like this. Imagine you are allergic to cats and have 9 of them in your house. If you find a new, loving home for 7 of them but still keep 2, you’ll still experience an allergic reaction to cats.
When our bodies are unable to tolerate certain foods, we have to remove the usual suspects completely in order for the body to heal. They can be gradually re-introduced one at a time. But at the beginning, we have to eliminate all of them to pinpoint the culprits.
Usually when we think of food allergies we think of someone who can’t eat peanuts or shellfish or consume dairy products without causing immediate distress. But many of us have reactions to foods we aren’t even aware of. The top allergy producing foods are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and citrus.  Who knew?
Consuming these foods once in a while will probably not kill us. But consuming them on a daily basis and often times at every meal can keep us in a constant state of inflammation. We may think feeling bloated, experiencing indigestion, or feeling gassy, just comes with the territory. Or better yet, age.
I’m here to tell you it’s not normal. You can and deserve to feel great at any age.
Am I suggesting you run out and get tested for food allergies? No. But if you are curious, you can become your own detective.
This is where detox comes in. Now I am not suggesting you detox immediately.  In fact I wouldn’t suggest detoxing until you are completely prepared to do so and have medical or nutritional support people to oversee the process.
I had been working with my doctor for three months before I had the guts to detox.  I also have a peer coach in my Dynamic Eating Psychology program who is a certified nutritionist and she cautioned me about the downside of detoxing if I was not prepared.
For 21 days I basically ate vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and poultry. Days 8-15 all animal products were eliminated. This forced me to discover all kinds of new veggies, hummus, and other exquisite foods that I had never acknowledged before. I also ate really interesting things for breakfast. (Peas, poultry, and pears, anyone?)
The result was I felt better, lighter, leaner, or more in tune with my body than I had in decades. Admittedly, a couple of days, I also felt hungrier than I’d felt in decades.
Bob’s perspective may have been different. Like the 30-day 500 Words a Day Blog-a-Thon in January, he’d probably say results varied depending on the degree of difficulty and amount of deprivation I was experiencing sticking to the plan. For the record, my meltdown happened on Day 9.
In the next series of posts I’ll share with you one of the following Top 10 Take Aways from 21 Days of Detox. Because they each deserve their own blog post, I’ll be serving them to you in bite-sized, digestible portions over the next couple of weeks. For now, I’ll leave you with a sneak peek:
1. Freedom through discipline
2. Eat high quality foods.
3. Less is more.
4. Trust the process.
5. The way out is through.
6. Your body talks. Your job is to listen.
7. Hunger happens.
8. Sleep solves most problems.
9. Invoke the sacred. Accept grace. Give gratitude.
10. You are what you eat. (All we are saying is give peas a chance.)

Surprise Garage Sale Finds

There are two types of people in the world. Those who love garage sales and those who don’t. After an unfortunate experience from my childhood (similar to the coffee incident) that involved me hosting a “rummage sale” , as they were called back then, and netting approximately $5 for a week’s worth of work, I fell into the second category.
This past weekend my parents decided to take part in a city-wide garage sale and asked Bob and I to come help. Bob falls into the first category since he’s made out quite well at garage sales over the years. So naturally, I volunteered Bob to help. But since my parents have made more than their share of sacrifices for me, I decided to join Bob and at least be there to help move the inevitable stuff that doesn’t sell.
Among the leftovers were an odd assortment of gardening books, interior and home design books, sewing and fashion guides, and the ever in demand encyclopedias from the 1960s, all considered vintage now.
But the surprise find of the day was not the trip down memory lane but the trip inside the psyche of my ancestors, my paternal grandmother in particular. My father’s mother died when I was in high school, so the memories I have of her are spotty by now.
I remember she loved her family and insisted all the relatives gather around every Sunday after church for a meal or coffee and rolls. She loved to garden and had a small green house added on to her house. She was a great seamstress, which explained all the sewing books and fashion guides. She had dark thick hair, which I didn’t inherit, and equally thick fingers, which I did. She had a heart and home that would open to anyone who walked through her front door.
What I didn’t know about her, that I suppose no grandchild really wants to know, is her deep disappointments, her regrets, and the things that broke her heart. When I got a glimpse of a few of my grandmother’s books as I was loading them in the car to take to Goodwill, I quickly surmised what those things were. The titles of the books said it all from the Miracle Diet to Doctor Please Help Me to Ancient Chinese Secrets for Rapid Weight Loss.
You see my grandmother was a large woman. Obese, in fact. She seldom left her house because it was hard for her to get around. She loved to entertain and have visitors because that’s how she participated in the world.
Her immobility, size, and accompanying health concerns affected me in a very specific way. She took lots of pills and supplements and I was determined not to live like that. So I did what any teenager would do. I stopped eating.
This allowed me to gain control over all the things I had no control over. From raging hormones to attention from boys to defying my dad and asserting myself, the only thing I could control was what I put into my mouth. I was incredibly selective about what went in. Not so much about what came out. I was a teenager, after all.
At that time, anorexia was a relatively new and unknown thing. All I knew was despite feeling hungry 24/7 and feeling the need to exercise every spare moment, if I could control my body, I might be able to get a grip on my emotions.
During this time I got very sick. I remember being in our family doctor’s office and hearing him say to my mother, “You know, she has the potential to become grossly overweight.” Clearly, this was not what a doctor should say to someone suffering from anorexia, but it was the seventies. This was a male doctor who had no clue what it was like to be in a female body or the awareness that those words would stick with me for life.
If I wasn’t eating before, I was certainly not going to eat then, given my genetic potential. Fortunately, I figured it out and managed to start eating again. Maybe I fell in love, maybe I believed if I exercised enough I could eat whatever I wanted, or maybe a decade of therapy did it. In any case, this declaration shaped my early career as a fitness professional and fueled my insatiable hunger for self-growth and knowledge.
Flash forward to this past weekend. Discovering her books allowed me to see my grandmother more clearly than I had ever seen her when she was alive. Despite her jovial appearance, she suffered in ways I never knew.
No one wants to be overweight, out of shape, unhealthy, or otherwise unacceptable or unattractive by society’s standards. We make such harsh judgments and assumptions about those who are.
As I leafed through the books I realized a lot of those doctors were saying what many cutting edge doctors are saying today. People probably thought my grandmother was crazy and willing to follow any “quack” or “miracle cure” she could afford. Or maybe they thought she was lazy, lacked discipline or willpower, or couldn’t be bothered to stick to a diet. But if the books were any indication, she was desperately trying to find a way to be at home in her body and accepted by society.
And then it really hit me. Despite the assumption that I’ve lived my life in reaction to my grandmother’s, I now see it as a continuation of her journey. As I begin an 8-month coaching program with the Institute of Psychology of Eating and dive deeply into the dynamics of eating, mind/body nutrition, body image, metabolism and digestion, as well as eating disorders, I have an opportunity to not only heal myself, but also my loved ones – past, present, and future.
It’s my belief we all have issues around food, nourishment, hunger, approval, acceptance, you name it. While some of us don’t have a need to explore it, if you feel like you do and would like to know about some of the coaching groups I’ll be starting based on this information, please shoot me a quick email with the words “nourishing wisdom” in the subject line and I will send you the latest info on upcoming groups.
What about you? Have you ever discovered a profound truth about yourself when you least expected it?
Share if you dare below.