Saturday, May 20, 2017

Creating Health or One Big Bummer?

Do we look at this process of becoming optimally healthy as a CREATIVE PROCESS (a big bag of "CAN's") or a RESTRICTIVE PROCESS (a big bag of "CAN'Ts)?

What's the difference, and why does it matter?

First off, it DOES matter, and it matters in a HUGE way, a paradigm-shifting way!

Are you thinking about what you can create with this process of becoming optimally healthy? About what awesome and positive ways your life will change as a result of the process? Are you stoked when you wake up in the morning, knowing that you are stepping one day closer to making that creation which exists in your mind a REALITY? Have you READ Dr. A's Chapters 3 and 4 yet?


RUN, don't walk, to your Dr. A's Habits of Health book and crack it open to chapters 3 and 4. After you do, don't use it as a coaster or as a placemat, but read the thing and it may be one of the best 45 minute investments of your LIFE. C'mon, you got time, you really do. You're reading THIS, aren't you? OK so STOP reading this and go find your book, and read those two chapters......

I'll wait........

Sunday, April 23, 2017

And now a word about "Creating Happiness" from the Surgeon General of the United States on TED-MED

And now a word from our former Surgeon General about "creating happiness" through the powerful practices of gratitude, meditation, and social connectedness (community).
In summary: We can CREATE HAPPINESS in our lives, and this can lead to change our health behavior and health outcomes.
Positive physical health outcomes can result from practicing gratitude, and we have the power to touch other peoples lives through simple gestures or kind words. This will increase our happiness factor at the same time.
The Gratitude Study: 3 Randomized Groups
Gratitude group: Participants were asked to daily write down 5 things they were grateful for.
Hassle group: Participants were asked to daily write down 5 things that hassled them.
Control group: Participants were asked to daily write down 5 things that happened, without a positive or negative slant.
At the end of 10 weeks, the "Gratitude" group had a greater level of optimism, and had more positive view of life. They also exercised for 1.5 more (on average) hours per week (then they had at baseline), slept better, and had fewer physical symptoms of pain, nausea, headaches.
Study Conclusion:
The simple practice of gratitude had the power to increase their happiness, and to change their health behavior and health outcomes.
Do you focus on the things you are thankful and grateful for? Or do you focus on the things that hassle you? Where do you direct your attention? If you practice gratitude regularly (rather than focusing on things that hassle you), studies show you will decrease your risk of heart attack or stroke, increase your chance of living longer, decrease your chance of your kids using addictive substances, and increase your chances of losing weight! Yes. You read that right.
WE can focus on gratitude, instead of focusing on hassle, which always leads to anxiety. We CAN creating wellbeing and happiness in our lives, AND pay it forward into other's lives through the daily practice of gratitude. WOW.
My own added thoughts and contemplations:
Perhaps these Bible verses, then, represent powerful advice not just for spiritual health, but for medical and emotional wellbeing as well! WE can guard our minds, direct our thoughts, and choose what we focus our attention on:
Philippians 4:6-8
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Thessalonians 5:15–18 — Thankfulness, God's will for you. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Ephesians 1:16
"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,"
Colossians 3:15
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Practical tips - Things to START doing, and perhaps things to STOP doing:
1. START taking a few minutes each day and think of all the people and circumstances you are thankful or grateful for.
2. START practicing small gestures of kindness, or giving words of encouragement, to others.
3. Consider the Apostle Paul's advice about learning to BE content in any circumstance you are in:
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." - Philippians 4:12. Notice he said "learning to be content". BEING Content is not a default state for us humans, it is a learned and practiced skill.
4. Pay it forward by helping others enrich their lives in some way. Help others create happiness. Be of service to your neighbor, to your friends, to strangers. Practice the golden rule of "doing unto others as you would have others do unto you". And guess what, you don't even have to feel like you are "in the mood" to do this! The Bible explains that if we are sad, if our hearts are downcast, SERVE OTHERS and that will CHANGE! Serving others can actually LIFT our spirits, boost us out of a depressed state! Truly! I know this to be true, and have seen it first-hand!
5. Get IN to community. Connect with others. Don't isolate, but reach out.
Here are some practical ways you can STOP FOCUSING on hassles. Choose to "look away" from them! How do you do that?
1. STOP following friends or acquaintances on Facebook whose posts ALWAYS seem hassled, offended, harried, negative or angry. You don't need to unfriend them, they'll never know you have turned off notifications to their page or unfollowed their news feed.
2. Reconsider where you source your news from. Maybe it's even time to take a short of long break for awhile from the doom and gloom of what passes for "news" these days? Do you fill your mind with the headlines several times a day? Is the world going to evaporate if you unplug from the news for a day? A week? A month?
3. What about that drive to and from work? How about leaving 10-15 minutes early for work so that the rush-hour traffic is less of a frantic, hectic hassle because you now have more time to get where you need to go?
4. What do you listen to on that commute back and forth to work? Talk radio? Peddlers of pessimism? Try changing to an audiobook or listening to your favorite music.
Try these things for a few days, a week, or a month then reflect on the changes they can make in your life.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


I love talking to people about health.  I love meeting someone for the very first time, and more often than not, at some point in the conversation the topic will just come up.   Sometimes I mention it, sometimes they mention it.  Many times the conversation turns to THEM letting me know all the reasons about why they aren't/couldn't be/don't have time to/ begin a journey towards health.
And heaven knows I don't judge.  I DO listen, however.  I listen with intent to try to find out what they TRULY want.  Do they want me to agree with them that they can't do it?  Are they looking for a solution? Do they just want me to listen?
It's hard to discern sometimes what exactly to say to someone who is giving a litany of reasons why they would prefer to remain in their current state of un-health or even chronic disease brought on by their obesity.
Do these sound familiar? Have you, when you've told someone what you are doing to get healthy, gotten some of these responses?
"I could never do that!" (OK I believe you!)
"Well, you've probably never had a weight problem in your whole life!" (Ya got a minute?  Or an hour?  Let me talk to you about that LOL!)
"I just love food too much!"  (How is that working out for you?)
"I don't have the time do to that!"  (Eat 1 meal of protein and vegetables, and then 5 times pre day rip open the wrapper of a bar and eat it?)
"I don't have time to go to the gym!"  (That's GREAT!  This program doesn't require you to!)
"I'll just gain it back again!"  (Our program gives you the tools to choose NOT to do that, but it will depend on what instructions you send your body every day in Maintenance. Are you living the habits of health daily? Or are you eating what you ate before the program?)
"My Birthday/Anniversary/Son's Wedding/Easter/4th of July BBQ/Cruise in 4 months/Dog's Friend's Sister's Husband's Bachelor Party/Superbowl 2018 is coming up and I don't want to start anything before then!"   (Um....Ok....)
"What would they say about me at work?"  (Well, after 1 week on the program they would likely say that you have a certain glow, an energy, an optimism, and a joy about you that you didn't have up to a week ago. They'd say "something's different about you, and some will beg you to tell them what it is? They'd SEE that you are transforming your life. That is what they would say, and if they aren't saying it you can be sure they are thinking it).
The funny thing is that I've had a number of those "reasons" MYSELF in the past, reasons I put out there as to why I wasn't willing to take that risk, the risk that maybe I actually COULD live the healthy life I'd always dreamed of.
And I listened to MYSELF every time.  Until I STOPPED giving those excuses the time of day.
What made me stop?  Because I'll tell you if there was a magic fairy dust you could buy on Ebay called "excuse overcomer" EVERYONE would buy it, one would THINK. Or, would they?
Are we comfortable with our reasons for not stepping out and making the decision (followed by the effort) to make a change in our lives and health? I mean, let's face it, our reasons may be killing us over the long-run but they are EASIER in the short-term, and while we are just barely surviving through our days (as opposed to THRIVING), these reasons are comforting because they are familiar. Kind of like when a baby sits contentedly in a soiled diaper, "it's warm and it's mine, no need for a change".  At least we know where we stand when we are unhealthy, because we've been that way much of our lives. Fear of change can be a paralyzing force, truly. And for some people, life may always be about what they could have, should have, but DIDN'T do.  

I was done living that way. I made the decision that although I didn't know where this journey was going to take me, I was going to be an explorer, an adventurer in my own way, and FIND OUT! The road was uncertain, that mountain looked ominous, but I really wanted to know what it felt like to get to the top, to climb the mountain, to see the world from a different view. In other words, I stopped WONDERING what it would be like to be healthy someday, stopped WISHING I could do it someday, stopped PLANNING on maybe doing it someday, stopped doing lots of RESEARCH about what was the BEST way to do it...someday...and I made the decision to step forward into action.
I decided WHO it was that I wanted to be, then I began to DO the DO I needed to DO in order to BECOME that person.
"First, say what it is you would be.  Then do what you have to do." - Epictetus
I don't see any excuses or procrastination in that simple quote. It is a "First Say-Then Do" scenario.  

Decision followed by action.
So if you could strip off every excuse you have given yourself as to why you aren't making this a priority in your life, and just go with "Why NOT?" that would be my advice. Truly, what's the risk of taking that step towards health?

Also, if you are ON the program but are struggling with staying on plan after a week or two, or a month or two, and you ask me the question "but how can I stay on plan?"  here is my response. I don't have "the answer" but YOU have your answer.  YOUR answer is your WHY.  
Not "Why I have to-need to-should lose weight". 
Not "I'm just in so much emotional pain and conflict, and so miserable where I am now, that anything is better than this." 
Not "My doctor told me I needed to lose weight (but, curiously, gave no guidance on HOW to do that). 
You long-term deep down and truly unique-to-you WHY is NOT a reason attached to FEAR, FORCE or FACTS. 
Now, these things may have initially gotten you ON the program in the first place, that much may be true. In fact, many people do get involved initially with a "diet mindset" which brings with it concepts of deprivation, buckling down, wondering if they'll have the willpower etc. To this I say "Hey, whatever it takes!" to BEGIN. To overcome that obstacle you've placed in your brain that has, until now, kept you in the chains of inaction, the "behavioral procrastination" you have experienced in the months or years leading up to you making the decision to change. "Whatever it takes!" to allow you the courage, or maybe even desperation, to begin seeking "a solution". Even though, at the beginning, the solution you are seeking is "to not feel miserable anymore. And hey, we for SURE have you covered in this area (as soon as ONE WEEK after starting our program you will be feeling amazing)! 
You need a REASON to do something that may be outside your comfort zone.  If you don't HAVE a REASON, and a compelling on that inspires you to DO something, then you'll always find your reason why NOT to. And that reason is exclusive to you. It is yours. You own it. You may have misplaced it for awhile, or left it in the back of the sock-drawer, but let's go find it again. You may also have never really allowed yourself to dream down the road of getting healthy because you feel like you've tried everything and are always left disappointed. Either way, let's get busy and find your WHY. 
Our goal in the process of the program, and with the help of our educational component and healthy community component, is to help you move from a "diet mentality" to a "creating health mentality". Our goal is to help you develop and remind yourself daily of your REAL why. Your inspiring why. We want you to begin to dream of a life of health and begin to harness that deeper, inspirational, life-giving WHY, that WHY which will draw you IN to that life of health. If you do not begin to cultivate THIS kind of why, chances are as soon as you are down a few pounds you will begin to struggle.
If you've been on the program and find that you are struggling, examine your WHY. You will likely find that your "WHY" is still attached to the desire to get AWAY from the emotional conflict and pain which initially drew you to the program, and because you are feeling AMAZING even a week into our program, and your emotional pain and conflict has indeed lessened (and trust me, we WANT that! In fact, we want you to feel even MORE amazing and energized as the program continues). But if your motivation is tied to feeling awful and wanting to get AWAY from that state, and you remain in that "diet mentality" then as you start "feeling less awful" you'll find your motivation to continue the program will decrease as well. Your actions will follow, you'll be taking "BLT's" (bites, licks & tastes) of foods that are not on the program, and (oddly enough) you will find you aren't getting results anymore. This will discourage you further, and you will assume "well, the program just stopped working for me." No, you stopped working the program. The program's effectiveness did not change, but your consistently following the program did.
It has been my experience that those (including myself) who find themselves struggling with the PROCESS, the HOW of doing the do simply need to either develop initially or connect back to their WHY.
If your HOW isn't "taking care of itself," with your healthy routines you have established, then you'll want to revisit your WHY.
Rinse and Repeat!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Oh Where, Oh Where Did my Motivation Go? Oh Where, Oh Where Can it Be?

These words are so true!

Disclaimer: This is a long post, grab a cup of coffee or your water bottle and settle in!

When we start down the path to living an optimally healthy life, it is usually directly preceded by an event or a moment of clarity where we just KNOW we want to do it! We are motivated to get started, and even change our ways - temporarily. But motivation is a limited resource, and soon runs out. This is why we stress learning HABITS of HEALTH. The biggest question I get is "will I gain IT back?" Well, if your emphasis is on simply LOSING WEIGHT and you stay in a "Diet Mentality" then your focus is always on losing weight. You define success as how much weight you lost this week, last week, in the last 4 hours (LOL), and what happens when you are at your goal and aren't losing weight anymore? I've been there and done that with that mindset, and I have to tell you it's almost anticlimactic, because since I have no more weight to "lose" how am I going to feel successful anymore? Well, if that is my only measure of success, if that is what I have pinned my emotions to, then the only alternative is to gain weight BACK so I can LOSE it again in order to feel successful! It sounds nuts, I know! Habits can be UNHEALTHY too, and if you are finding it hard to stay on program during the weekend, for example, It is simply because you are in the HABIT of going off program every weekend, and that is what compels you to continue doing it. It isn't BECAUSE you lack motivation, which you very well might since, in my experience, it usually disappears on Friday, around 3pm, and returns Monday morning when the alarm goes off (and is usually accompanied by other emotions like guilt, shame, regret, and a sense of hopelessness).

What to do?


Break the habit loop. It will be hard the first weekend you determine to break that habit, but truly, it is also SIMPLE. There is no circumstance in the normal course of our daily lives which is KEEPING you from remaining on program during the weekend. Any circumstance that you can think of is simply a concept. The exceptions would be if you are in jail, in the hospital, or have been duct-taped to a chair by captors and force-fed by gunpoint, so if you find yourself in any of THESE situations then yes, it's likely any of those three circumstances could prevent you from controlling what and when you eat.The focus of OUR program, the program that has the potential to bring an INCREDIBLE and STUNNING transformation of your health and, in the process help you develop a healthy mind as well, is to begin living an "Optimally Healthy" life. One of the ways we move into an optimally healthy life is that we learn and master the Habits of Health (Dr. A's book) and internalize them, truly develop the healthy habits that will carry us forward. Believe me, MOTIVATION is not one of those habits. Motivation is simply an EMOTION and can COME and GO! It always will! There is nothing wrong with you when you lose steam and think "Where did my motivation go? How can I get motivated again? I'm just not motivated anymore!" Of COURSE it disappeared! You are chasing an emotion, you a chasing a feeling that is elusive, by nature! The solution is not to put yourself in a position where you are always just looking for "more motivation" to prop yourself up. Believe me, motivation is hard to find on a Friday or Saturday night, especially when you might not even be LOOKING for it by then. The solution is to make a fundamental decision that you will begin learning and practicing habits of health (which do NOT rely on motivation). Developing a healthy mind is not about "really really really wanting to lose weight", which can lead to "really, really FEELING like losing weight". It may START there, but it cannot END there, because even if you can "hold your breath" all the way to your "Goal weight" you will then find you will need to come up for air. What does coming up for air look like? It isn't pretty. In this scenario it means you will likely be back to your old unhealthy habits from BEFORE you started the program, which usually results in regaining the weight. Since you viewed the entire process as a process of "deprivation" (which is, again, indicative of a "diet mentality"), you will be DONE with "depriving" yourself. After all, you've "reached your target," right? You may even skip the all-important "Transition" phase (step 3) of our program because, hey, you made it! You did it! Well, if your goal was "to lose weight" then yes, technically, you reached your goal, if this was always a diet to you. But, did you know that "losing weight" is not even one of the phases of our optimal health program?
Here are the (verbatim) phases of our program (see the Optavia Guide):
1) Preparing for your journey
2) Getting to a healthy weight
3) Transition to healthy eating
4) Living the habits of health
5) Optimizing health for your age
6) The potential for living a longer, healthier life
The purpose of OUR program is truly to LIVE an optimally healthy life. If you determine to switch your focus from a "diet mentality" to a mindset of "Living an Optimally Healthy Life" then you find yourself on a JOYFUL journey (because you are seeing real results, weekly, sometimes daily, from your dedication and action), instead of a FRUSTRATED journey (pining over all those yummy things you tell yourself you can't have, daily) that has nothing to DO with deprivation, or even your up-and-down levels of motivation! If you began to master the skill of daily practicing the Habits of Health in phase 2 (getting to a healthy weight) then you HAVEN'T arrived at your "goal" because we will ALWAYS be moving towards optimal health! Sure you are now out of the "Getting to a healthy weight" but you will joyfully move in to the "Transition to healthy eating" phase confidently! And, six weeks later you will then move into the "Living the habits of health" phase, which then include optimizing health for your age and in sum total these phases will give you the potential for living a longer, healthier life.This doesn't happen on it's own, automatically, it takes utilizing the four components of our program, which are the following:
1) HEALTH COACH: Actively engaging with your health coach - did you know I still talk with MY health coach every week, almost without exception, and have done so for the last 6 years?
2) HABITS OF HEALTH SYSTEM: Actively engaging with the Habits of Health System - reading Dr. A's Habits of Health systematically and regularly, and working through the "Living a Longer, Healthier Life" workbook. Habits of Health are not some nebulous concept, they are clearly defined in Dr. A's Habits of Health. They are simple to understand, and we can get you on the path to truly embracing and living them.
3) COMMUNITY: This means living your own journey out loud to the degree that is comfortable (and sometimes uncomfortable) for you, which creates a support systems from the people around you in your daily life. It also means, in many cases, bringing people along with you into optimal health, people you care about and want to do life with. Basically, engaging with and becoming part of a community of like-minded people pursuing health.

4) FUELINGS: Utilizing the fuelings as are appropriate to the phase you are in. If you are still getting to a healthy weight, this means you are on the Optimal Weight 5&1 Program. If you are transitioning to a healthy weight, it means you are following the transition guide and over 6 weeks are moving to a 3:3 program. If you are in the last 3 phases you are eating 6 times a day, in a structured way and with healthy nutritious foods, with 3 meals and 3 healthy fuelings (not product dependent, but many people do continue to use the fuelings due to convenience).
So my advice today?
First, do a "mindset check". Is this a joyful journey because you have set you mind on living an optimally healthy life? Are you moving through the phases of the program in a way that can ensure predictable transformation? If so, keep doing what you are doing, continue learning and mastering the habits of health, continue building community and engaging in community of healthy-minded people.
Is this a frustrating journey because you can't seem to make your actions align on a consistent basis with what you have SAID that you want? Well, if you are simply wanting to "lose weight" and this is a "diet" for you, then let's talk because you CAN work towards shifting from a diet mindset to a mindset of attaining and living in optimal health. If you view this as a health journey already (not a diet) and are struggling, then let's talk, because you CAN reduce your frustration by taking the actions that will take you where you want to go!
How DO you do that?
1. Make a fundamental decision that you want to create optimal health in your life. This is a decision, a commitment, and isn't swayed by emotions or circumstances.
2. Put all of your goals and dreams regarding your health goals at the TOP of a piece of paper. This is where you are headed, where have decided to go. It may look different for everyone, because our goals and dreams regarding our health are always individual. But they are YOURS. And you have DECIDED you will go there. These are measurable goals, not one's like "I want to feel better and have more energy". That will happen on day 4 of our program, so that isn't a measurable goal.
3. Write an OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT of your CURRENT HEALTH REALITY (where you are now) at the BOTTOM of a piece of paper. Don't be harsh, but be accurate. Remember, this is NOT subjective, it is objective.
4. Starting from the bottom (current reality), and moving UPWARDS towards your goal write down the ACTION STEPS you are going to take to move from your current reality to your health goals. Be detailed in these steps, and make them action-oriented. We can do all the studying, preparing, learning, wishing, praying, dreaming, and hoping that we want to do, but if we do not STEP into ACTION then nothing will move forward.
If you would like some help with this step, please let me know! Sometimes it's hard to talk nuts and bolts with action because we've lived in the hoping and dreaming arena for so long it can be hard to quantify these steps into actual action.

And most importantly of all, WHY are you doing this, anyway? Why did you begin the program? Do those reasons still exist? Are they still important to you? Reconnect with your WHY, and then learn and master (practicing daily) your Habits of Health, and utilize ALL the components of our program.
Happy Sunday!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

That Space Food Can't Be Healthy

Do you ever have people looking at your packets of fuelings who say "I could never do that, I need real food"? Do astronauts eat real food? Do soldiers eat real food? Yes, they do. And our fuelings are also "real food". They are also "functional foods" which mean they are foods that serve a purpose, just as MRE's for soldiers and dehydrated packets of food for astronauts serve a purpose. Believe me, we would not send our soldiers into battle without real food, nor would we send our astronauts into space without real food. Our food was simply designed with a purpose, dehydrated in some cases, and put into packets for portion-control and to work to create the optimal physiologic conditions to encourage our bodies to use it's long-term energy storage for fuel. We are in training too, in training to live healthy lives. Simple as that.

A friend and client recently confided to me that she was being "razzed" at work about her "packet food". It got me thinking, and doing some research as well. It is likely that some of the same people who pooh-pooh our program as not using "real food" buy milk and bread from the grocery store, and consider that "real food". And, it is! But it is also "functional food", Milk has added vitamin D in it, to serve a purpose. Enriched flour (which cannot even be described as functional food) has been "enriched with vitamins" because in the process of stripping it of its hull (where all the nutrients reside) and bleaching it, it has very little, if any, nutritional value beyond the macronutrient carbohydrate which now has been turned into a high-glycemic time-bomb. So, they have to "add" all the nutrients back IN to it just to get some semblance of nutrition in it.

My husband calls our fuelings "purpose-driven food". They are meant to be used for a PURPOSE, and that purpose is for phase 2 and 3 of our program, which are "REACH A HEALTHY WEIGHT" and "TRANSITION TO HEALTHY EATING" while still getting EVERYTHING we need in order to satisfy both our daily MICRONUTRIENT NEEDS (vitamins/minerals-including iron), and our daily MACRONUTRIENT NEEDS (including fiber and protein) while still creating a caloric deficit substantial enough that ANYONE who is on it will lose weight safely and effectively. This is why our program is recommended by over 20,000 physicians, nationwide. These TWO phases of our SIX-PHASE PROGRAM are the only phases that are “product-dependent”. Our FOURTH phase, “LIVING THE HABITS OF HEALTH (which includes being weight-stable, in other words “maintenance”) can incorporate any HEALTHY food-philosophy we want! If we want to be "whole-foods Paleo" we can be. If we want to be "whole-food, plant strong" we can be. In fact, the co-founder of our program himself (who is a physician) is an advocate of eating whole-food, plant-strong in maintenance! Step 2 and 3 are simply temporary STEPS in our journey.

The misnomer is "Oh, I could NEVER eat like THAT for the rest of my life"! Well, we aren't asking anyone to become EXPERTS in weight LOSS, we want people to move on to become experts in HEALTH. While our phases beyond 2 and 3 don’t HAVE to continue to use our fuelings, many of us coaches do continue to utilize the "packets" in our maintenance programs as a CHOICE of convenience and health. WHY? Well, first of all because they are darn good. Secondly, if I'm going to have a BROWNIE I'm not going to eat a sugar-and-fat-filled bomb that is going to radically increase my blood sugar and make me feel awful in a couple of hours when my blood sugars CRASH, I don’t eat that way anymore. However, I WILL eat something that LOOKS and TASTES like a brownie, but is low-glycemic, has no artificial colors, is packed with probiotics, and has 11 grams of protein and only 15 carbs per serving...and oh yes, I'll get 35% of my RDA for iron while I'm at it! That just makes sense to me, that’s just how I roll! But some people will move on to styles and philosophies of eating that THEY value long-term, and that is how it is meant to be. It is a choice.

Finally, can you imagine someone deciding they DIDN'T want to be an astronaut or a soldier because of the FOOD they would necessarily need to eat to attain their dream of being an astronaut or soldier? I can see exactly how that conversation would go in the recruiting office or at NASA:

Prospective soldier to military recruiter: "I really want to serve my country in valor, bravery and honor as a soldier. But what is the food like? Because I won't eat packet-food either in training or on the field."

Prospective astronaut to NASA interviewer: "I've always dreamed of exploring space and walking on the moon. But what is the food like? I won't eat packet-food either in training or in space."

Yeah, it sounds kind of silly to me, I don't think they would be further considered for those positions if that was their opinion, but I have a feeling those conversations would NOT occur, because they want to be soldiers and astronauts, and "what is the food like" doesn't even enter into their decision whatsoever. 

So, let the scoffers scoff, let the nay-sayers nay-say. It isn't probably even about me or my program, it is about them and their opinions, which don't really involve me at all. It is not my responsibility to convince the world that what I am doing it something they should do. My only judge and jury is MYSELF, and the facts. The results speak for themselves. The labwork I get after attaining a healthy weight speak for themselves. My heart health and happiness speak for itself. I will continue to go about my business of creating health in my life and helping others do the same no matter what a handful of other people might think of it. As for me, I want to live an optimally healthy life, so I'm in training for THAT, and, right now, this is MY food.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The "It Won't REALLY Matter If I..." Trap

Ever heard yourself TELL yourself "It won't REALLY matter if I..." as you are about to choose to have a little something-something that is off-program? Whether it's the left over chicken nugget from your child's dinner plate, or a little extra almond milk in your cereal, or that extra handful of pistachios, it DOES matter.

I don't know much, but here is what I DO know, and can tell you by experience. I have never seen ONE PERSON in my 6 years of coaching NOT succeed when they made the decision to follow the program as outlined in the Quick Start Guide EXACTLY, day in and day out.

On the contrary, I have seen MANY people who have opted to substitute their judgment, even daily, for that of the program and NOT succeed in their health goals.

It may seem innocent enough, and it may be such a habit that we aren't even aware we are doing it. We've stopped measuring (or have never measured) the half and half we use in our morning coffee. We stop counting (or have never counted) condiments. We eyeball our lean for our Lean and Green, and do the same thing for our vegetables. After all, WE know what 5-7 ounces of lean protein looks like, don't we? WE know what 1.5 cups of vegetables looks like, don't we?

And so starts the slow slide into forgetfulness, into mindlessness, into old habits, because pretty soon it isn't just once or twice a week we are deviating from the program it is once or twice a day. And although those deviations, on the surface, seem so minor to us, they can add up to COMPLETE FRUSTRATION because we have actually convinced ourselves we ARE following the program.

But are we? Are we really?

I've seen it time and time again, where someone will hit a plateau (and it's happened to me too!) and have no idea why their weight loss stopped? When this happens to me I do a three-day food log and meticulously log every single thing I put in my mouth (time, amount), and I track my water (time, amount) also. You'd be surprised at what I have uncovered about myself and my program when I've done this exercise. In fact, even the PROCESS of logging everything for 3 days usually gets me PAST a stall or a plateau, because if I'm going to write it down I'm going to make sure it was ON PLAN! If I'm going to write "6 ounces of chicken breast cooked in Pam" then I very well better have MEASURED it!

I challenge everyone to do a 3-day food log, but be sure to review the Quick Start Guide first, with brand-new eyes, then make YOUR 3-day food log MATCH the Quick Start Guide.

The danger of having a "good enough" mindset instead of a precise mindset when it comes to the program is that we slowly slide into complacency, and our results will follow.

If you'd like to try this exercise with me (I'm doing it for the next 3 days also) I encourage you to do it! If you want me to review your food logs to see how they match up against the Quick Start Guide, I am happy to do that, just e-mail me your log after 3 days and I'll analyze it, trouble-shoot it for any areas I see that might be holding you back without you even knowing it!

Here is a quick review of what your day should look like:
5 Medifast or Optavia Fuelings
1 weighed and measured Lean and Green, choosing only the protein and vegetables included in the Quick Start Guide List, and including the required amount (if any) of measured Healthy Fats corresponding to the lean protein you chose
No more than 3 condiments per day, also only of condiments listed in either the Quick Start Guide OR the Expanded Condiment/Healthy Fat List (if you don't have this list, e-mail me with "Expanded List" in the subject line and I'll get it to you asap)
90 ounces or more of water

Your 6 fuelings (5 +1) should be spaced 2-3 hours apart (no sooner than 2 hours, no later than 3 hours) throughout your day, with your first fueling consumed WITHIN the first hour of waking up.

Your caffeine should be limited to 300 mg per day, which is about 20 ounces of brewed coffee or black tea, or 3-4 cans of caffeinated diet cola beverages.

Your exercise (if you exercise) should be no more than 45 minutes per day, of moderate intensity

One optional snack (from the list in the Quick Start Guide) per day, if hunger is an issue. Never have an optional snack simply because you "feel like it", only utilize it on extra-hungry days if you have them. Remember that this program was designed for men and women alike, my personal opinion as that while men sometimes could use the extra calories, women don't tend to need them and in fact adding them may increase their hunger slightly or noticeable in the next few days.

Learn to recognize that voice inside that simply wants what it wants, and prompts you to reach for that extra something. Or, the voice can also convince you that measuring just doesn't really matter. Or that the extra condiments can slide today, because emotionally you really need them (or it doesn't really matter).

Follow the program, strive to make every day a 100% day, and when it isn't examine it to determine WHY it isn't and make corrections for the next day, and move FORWARD to your health goals! If you falter, don't beat yourself up, but also don't stay STUCK. Make your next decision an on program decision and carry on.

Remember this program was scientifically designed by people much much smarter than me! It was clinically proven safe AND EFFECTIVE provided it is followed. Do not modify, do not modify, do not modify. A modified plan will give modified results, and NOT the ones you were after.

Who is with me?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Theoretical Conversation Between a Financial Planner/Counselor and a Debtor

Financial Counselor:
So, you are here today because you would like assistance and a plan to help you get out of 100K credit card debt?
Yes, can you help me with that?
Financial Counselor:
Sure, I can do that! We can set up a budget for you which you can follow every day. It may feel like a drastic change to how you have been living and what you have been spending up to this point, but it will be necessary in order to slowly work your way out of this debt, and to get you into financial health.
OK, let's do it!
Week One:
Financial Counselor:
So, how did you week one go?
Well, it went OK but I'm really ashamed that I even need to be on this budget, and it's just really really hard, harder than I thought it would be.
Financial Counselor:
What do you mean, you are ashamed to be on the budget?
Every time I think about the fact I have to be on this budget I get sad, and I get mad at myself for having gotten into 100K of credit card debt.
Financial Counselor:
OK, yes, sometimes when we see the result of our prior actions in the cold hard light of day, and know that it doesn't have to be that way, we can feel somewhat ashamed that we needed to see a financial planner or debt counselor, I understand that. But we now have a solution for you to begin reducing that debt in a very systematic way, with a program that is guaranteed to work if you follow it exactly. Can you do that this week?
Sure, I think I can, but it is really hard.
Week Two:
Financial Counselor:
So, how did it go for week two?
Well, it was tough, I struggled, and I ended up buying a few things that weren't on my budget, things I wanted and at the time they made sense for me to buy.
Financial Counselor:
OK, but didn't we work out in your budget the things you absolutely needed, we decided what those were, and you agreed that the budget covered all of your basic expenses?
Yes, I know, but I really wanted this thing and resented the fact I was on a budget, got mad at myself for being 100K in debt and needing a budget in the first place, so I bought it.
Financial Counselor:
OK, well you know that this budget will only work if you follow it, and if you don't this is just a theoretical exercise until you put action to it, right?
Yes. I'll do better this week. I promise. I know I can do this.
Week Three
Financial Counselor:
So, how did week three go?
I did really well for the first few days, but then I saw something I really wanted and I was out with my other friends who were all buying the same thing. I didn't want to admit to them I was on a budget, and I didn't want to not feel like I was included, so I went ahead and bought it too. The next night we went to a restaurant I knew I couldn't afford, I knew it wasn't in my budget, but I felt ashamed that I couldn't go there with them so I went anyway and put it on my credit card. I didn't want them to judge me or think I couldn't handle my money, and I really didn't want them to know I was trying to live within my means.
Financial Counselor:
The thing I want to relay to you is that you CAN live a financially free life SOON provided you begin to follow this budget NOW. Every day you don't follow this budget you are remaining in the same amount, or more, of debt that you came to me with. Do you WANT to live within your means and be financially healthy?
YES! I do! But I'm ashamed I have to even be ON a budget, and I can't shake that feeling, it makes me feel BAD to be on a budget. But I'll do better this week.
Week Four
Financial Counselor:
(Client skips meeting)
Week Five
Financial Counselor:
So, how have the last couple weeks been? How is your budget going?
Well, not good. I just can't seem to get over the fact that I have to be on a budget. So, as they day goes on, I am tempted to buy this or that, and part of me tries to stay strong, but the other part of me goes ahead and buys it, and then I feel really guilty and bad that I didn't follow my budget.
Financial Counselor:
I have a question for you, does this budget feel a bit restrictive or drastic right now because you are comparing it with the way you WERE living which got you into 100K of credit card debt?
Yes, and I'm ashamed to even have to be ON the budget. I do want the debt gone, though, it is really uncomfortable to get the bills every month and wonder how I am going to pay for them and wonder WHEN this debt is going to be gone. I wish someone would just take it away from me and I could start out with a clean slate.
Financial Counselor:
So you desire to have the BENEFITS of having your debt wiped clean but are ASHAMED of having to do the work in order to get there?
Yes, that is exactly what I feel. I know I NEED to be on this budget, but I also want to keep living the way I was living before. And the sooner I can be DONE with this budget the better.
Financial Counselor:
What if it is only in the PROCESS of consistently following the budget and reducing your debt that you learn the skills necessary to stay out of debt and live financially free? If someone just came and took the debt from you, paid it for you, and you had a clean slate, you would be back in here next year with another 100K of credit card debt.
That's a good point. But every time I deviate from my budget even a little bit, I decide "What the Heck" and I buy the other 10 things I've been wanting for awhile. It seems like all this budget is doing is making me crazy and getting me more into debt.
Financial Counselor:
Well, actually it is YOU that is doing that BECAUSE you aren't taking action and following the budget.
You mean the budget isn't to blame?
Financial Counselor:
No. The BUDGET is just a structured system, a way to organize your resources so that daily you are not spending more than you take in, and when we are trying to reduce your 100K credit card debt we are actually structuring it so that you pay down a little bit of your debt every week. We keep doing this until your debt is paid, and it would be the same system whether you owed $100, $10,000, or 100,000. Once the debt is paid you will have more freedom in what you choose to spend your discretionary income one, but right now that is all going to reducing your debt. However, you will always be living with the structure of a budget from here on.
WOW. So the budget is actually a tool to bring structured spending into my life in order to get what I really want, which is financial freedom? It isn't a punishment?
Financial Counselor:
Nope. It is not a punishment at all. It is actually a ticket to freedom.
I wrote out this dialog in order to compare concepts our Optimal Wellbeing Program to another category, having debt.
Our accumulation of adipose tissue is nothing more than us having lived "beyond our means" in terms of energy consumption thus far in our lives.
It is a balance sheet, a ledger of sorts, of how we have managed our energy. It is no more shameful to be 100 pounds overweight than it is to be 100K in credit card debt, it is simply the consequences of how we have lived our lives up until NOW.
To say "I've always been 100K in credit card debt, how can I change now, and if I do change won't I just get back into credit card debt?" is not logical to say, because our FUTURE selves will be a reflection of what we do from TODAY on.
If you decide to be healthy in a month, 6 months, or a year, yes there is a process to go through, there are tools, our Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan is our "Energy Budget" of sorts.
But we need to follow it for it to have any impact in a week, a month, six months and a year.
Living beyond our means with food has led to an energy imbalance, and we have stored away energy to varying degrees for our bodies to use "at a later time" but that "later time" never comes because we never create the conditions physically for our bodies to need to use that energy up.
We keep making deposits into the energy bank, but not using all of it, and our bodies say "thanks, I'll store that as fat to use later." Our program is the tool that says "OK, here we go! Time to start using up that energy from here on out!"
Our program isn't a punishment, neither is it indicative of a failure on our part. It is simply a tool for those of us who may have never been taught how to balance our checkbook in terms of health to LEARN how to balance that checkbook and begin accomplishing the things we have thus far only dreamed of but somehow even the dreaming made us feel bad because for some reason we thought we could not do it.
We CAN do it. But it is a choice to follow our "budget" daily. Sometimes that choice is hard. Sometimes it means we can't do everything we want to do, just like someone who is paying off a 100K credit card bill may feel like they can't do everything they want to do initially.
But in the PROCESS of following the budget and seeing the results, something magical happens. I've heard it both in our program and in Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" and that is that the PROCESS becomes FUN! Once people have adjusted their expectations and made getting out of debt their primary goal, it becomes EXCITING to accomplish that, little by little, every day! Every spending decision they say "no" to becomes a victory, becomes FUN, and is a reminder that they are getting financially healthy. Once they ARE out of debt and have become financially free their whole mindset has CHANGED! They don't WANT to go out and frivolously buy something they don't need. They CONTINUE to make wise decisions because in the process of paying off their debt, they developed the habit of healthy spending which will ensure they don't fall into the debt trap again.
Our program is much the same. But the above is descriptive of the PROCESS, the HOW, and what is REALLY important is the WHY behind the HOW.
What was lacking in the above conversations was any question posed by the financial counselor of "Why do you want to be financially free?'
I'll blog more on THIS concept next time. THIS blog was simply to highlight the similarities of how feeling ashamed of being on our program makes about as much sense as being ashamed of being on a budget.
The Optimal Weight 5&1 Program IS our "energy budget," which helps us attain energy equilibrium by creating the conditions where our body USES all that energy it has been saving for a rainy day. Once we've attained "energy equilibrium" also known as a healthy weight, we then us the "Transition Budget" to get us to the Maintenance Budget" which will allow us some structure in maintaining our "energy equilibrium". It isn't about diet and deprivation. It is about attaining and maintaining optimal health. The principles are much like someone being recommended a budget to attain financial health, which necessarily will include getting out of credit card debt. First you work on re-paying what you owe, then you work on living within your means moving forward. Same principle dynamically.