When I first started losing weight, there were a few white lies I told myself…

“I’m totally happy with my body the way it is. I’m just doing this ‘for my health.’”

“It’s totally only going to take me a few months to get to goal.”

“Fake cheese tastes the same as real cheese.”

“I can totally cheat a little on the weekends. If I’m good all week it won’t matter.”

“I don’t need to change my eating FOREVER, I just need to lose the weight and everything will be fine.”

Now that I’m down -100+lbs, I can tell you – these weren’t white lies. These were big, huge honking black lies and until I confronted myself about them, I was allowing them to hold me back and hinder my weight loss. Let’s discuss:

“I’m totally happy with my body the way it is. I’m just doing this ‘for my health.’”
Alternate versions of this lie include: “I’m just doing it for my husband, to get a girlfriend, so my mom stops hounding me…”

Here’s the thing, I had no idea how much I was being weighed down (pun intended) by being obese. I didn’t realize that I was coping with my problems by smothering my feelings with food and wine, and the next morning my problems were still going to be right there. I didn’t realize that my “snarky” side wasn’t just snarky, it was downright rude and it was keeping me from having real, deep relationships with boyfriends and even some of my friends. I was so determined to reject others before they had a chance to reject me, and I missed out on a lot of FUN and fun people in the process.
Now I realize, I AM doing this for my health, but I’m also doing it for the self-confidence, the happiness and the joy I’ve found with my “people.”

“It’s totally only going to take me a few months to get to goal.”

When I started, I believed that the weight would just miraculously fall off as fast as it went on, and that I would be happy if I was “smaller.”
A couple things happened. First, it’s been four years and I’m still not “at goal.” This weight loss journey has had its ups, downs and plateaus. I’ve had a week where I lost -10lbs and a week where I gained 6lbs. I’ve had weeks where I lost -5lbs and then the following week gained 1lb back. No matter who you are, weight loss is not a straight diagonal line down to goal. And learning to accept that and aim for progress instead of perfection has made all the difference.

Also, while I’m happy with my smaller body, now I recognize it’s about a healthy BMI, toning my arms and abs and really working for the healthiest version of myself.

“Fake cheese tastes the same as real cheese.”

I thought I could compromise and eat low-fat or diet versions of my favorite foods, like cheese, but it turns out, I don’t want to live in a world where I can have all the fat-free, fake cheese I want. I want to live in a world of brie, pecorino with black truffle, stilton, feta (oooooh, feta) and all of the cheese I love.
So what was my solution? I needed to learn portion control, moderation and balance. I can have my cheese, but I need to make sure I’ve accounted for it in my menus or meal prep, and maybe I don’t have allllll the cheese but instead a sensible portion of the really good stuff!

“I can totally cheat a little on the weekends. If I’m good all week it won’t matter.”

One of my favorite little reminders to our online wellness challenge group is: “Don’t let the weekend become you weak end. Saturdays and Sundays are not excuses to give up on your goals.” If you do great throughout the week, why eat junk or overindulge and undo ALL that progress? It’s like Groundhog Day over and over again. Better to get an extra workout in or eat a lighter breakfast to balance out a heavier intake than throw moderation out to the window and start each Monday in the same place.

What do you think? What are some “white lies” you told yourself at the beginning of your weight loss that you had to ‘fess up about later?

This article first appeared on organizeyourselfskinny.com on February 9, 2017.

5 Incremental Changes That Lead to Weight Loss Success

I offer online wellness challenges every month (check ’em out HERE), and one of the participants recently emailed that she was totally overwhelmed and stressed out by the thought of having to lose weight, cook healthy, exercise, sleep more, drink more water, speak kindly to herself… all at the same time!

This overwhelmed anxiety led to her feeling both paralyzed to start her journey and depressed about not having started sooner.

First, I reassured her that the “Where do I start? How do I start? How do I change everything?” fears are totally normal. Second, we worked on a plan to tackle them individually. Just like we won’t lose the weight overnight, we can’t just up and change our lives overnight.

I am a firm believer in incremental goal setting because we’re constantly working towards an achievable goal. These can be incremental weight loss goals, like 5lbs or 10%, but they can also be habits we’d like to form or improve.

For this participant, I suggested the following incremental habit goals, so she could tackle all the changes she wanted to make without that feeling of overwhelmed anxiety:

#1. Pick your weight loss program and become a student.

When I started Weight Watchers I took the time to read all of the resources, to calculate my favorite meals, to scan every item in our pantry and to find recipes with healthier versions of my favorite foods. This made me well-informed of all of my options and helped me figure out how I was going to balance the things I loved to eat with healthier foods that would aid my weight loss goals.

#2. Spend the first month learning your food and adjusting to drinking more water.

Not all healthy foods are created equal, and it took me time to realize what snacks would keep me satiated, which foods I did not enjoy and what trigger foods (I’m looking at you, cheese slices) simply could not be in my home because I would overeat them. By truly focusing on my food, I better understood when and why I was eating.

#3. Spend the second month adding fitness.

I was NOT ready to exercise when I started losing weight. The intimidation I felt about exercising in a gym was awful, so I waited until I had a month of good weigh-ins and used those positive vibes as the momentum I needed to push me into the gym. For many people I suggest at-home exercise in the beginning, until you feel comfortable enough to go to the gym. I wasn’t suggesting the Insanity workout series, but rather, CouchTo5K, Walking With Leslie Sansone or other workouts that allowed you to start slower or easier and build up your endurance.  Exercise is hard, and often crazy workouts leave us in pain or feeling dejected because we’re unable to complete them. By adding time and resistance gradually, we ensure our bodies are ready for the next challenges!

#4. For the third month, I recommended working on variety and getting out of your comfort zone.

There is only so much grilled chicken and salads a girl can eat, and food fatigue can cause you to deviate from your meal plans and binge on unhealthy options. Ensuring variety in menu planning and meal prep helps reduce fatigue and encourages you to try things you might not have tried before. I like to challenge myself to one new recipe every few weeks, and one new food item a month. This helps keep it interesting, even four years into my weight loss journey!

#5. For the fourth month and every three months or so going forward, I always recommend “Become a Newbie again!”

Newbies are excited to try new things, and they’re the most dedicated in terms of planning ahead, weighing and measuring their food, and meal prep. By embracing the newbie spirit every few months you can break up your journey – and you usually see better losses when you do!

What do you think? Are you ready for incremental change or would you rather dive in and make all of the changes at once? Tell me your strategy in be comments below!

This article first appeared on organizeyourselfskinny.com on January 26, 2017.

“I’ve had a terrible day, I’m just going to drown my sorrows in a glass of wine.”

“I had a fight with my husband/wife and it was awful. Ice cream would make it better though…”

“I had an awful at work. I’m going treat myself to some pizza. With extra cheese. I deserve it!”

If any of these sound like you, then you sound like me! If you read my column about changing my relationship with food, then you know I’ve spent the past 4+ years and -100lbs of weight loss changing the way I see food, and the way I eat it. But even today, I struggle with my emotional relationship with food.

My problem is, what do you DO with the emotions, situations and anxiety that exists in your life if you don’t solve it or cure it or push it down with food? I’ve worked to develop a number of “Coping Skills” for these situations, and I want to share them with you:

#1. EXERCISE!

Exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant. Much like Elle Woods says in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” I have found so much stress relief from exercising – be it spin class, biking outside on the rail trail or even running on the elliptical. Exercise helps me process my emotions, expend the excess energy and tension and it really does improve my mood! Want a free online resource? Check out this free online beginner’s guide to Zumba.

There is great value to writing down your feelings. It helps you to process the emotions and review them in a more objective manner. It’s also great to have that record of your interactions and how you handled them, so you know what works and what doesn’t work for next time. Here are 30 free journaling prompts, in case you would like help getting started.

#3. DANCE PARTY!

Now, this could technically be considered exercise, but I like for dance parties to be their own category of coping skill because for me, it’s less about the cardio part of dancing and more about moving to the music. Everyone has a song that just makes them tap their feet, sing along or, if you’re me, shimmy up to your boyfriend while he’s cooking dinner. The ladies of Grey’s Anatomy have proven, dancing it out and being silly for a few minutes genuinely relieves our stress and enables us to handle difficult situations more clearly. My free go-to for music is always www.pandora.com because I can craft my own preferences with the thumbs up and thumbs down!

#4. MEDITATION!

The flip side of a dance party, meditation, can also be a tremendously effective tool in dealing with your emotions. Meditation, either on a word, on a phrase or an idea, can help you relieve the anxious emotions and find mental clarity, before you dive into the French fries. There are a number of great free or inexpensive apps available to help even beginners get started.

#5. BRAIN TEASERS!

My mom loves to relax after a long day and commute with soduku. She says the focus on solving the puzzles helps relieve her stress and she enjoys the challenge. Braingle has more than 20,000 free puzzles and teasers on your desktop  and Lumosity is a great, free app that allows you to focus on the things you like and that are important to you!

What about you? How do you manage your emotions WITHOUT turning to food or drinks?

This article first appeared on organizeyourselfskinny.com on April 6, 2017.

FREE AUDIO CLASS: Eating Strategies for Holiday Meals

I get a lot of questions about our Online Bootcamps and Online Wellness Challenges, so I decided to “pull back the curtain” and share one of my favorite audio classes with you!

This is a class entitled “What’s Going on My Plate: Eating Strategies for the Grazer, the Picker, the Portion-Control-er, the “Give Me All the Stuffing, Who Needs Pie” Gal!”

To access the class, click THIS LINK.

If you like what you hear, I encourage you to join our WINTER BOOTCAMP, a five-day intensive challenge that kicks off December 26th! It’s just $17 for five audio classes and resource emails – the PERFECT way to get excited and ready to make 2019 our happiest, healthiest year yet!

6 Tips for Staying on Track While Traveling

I love to travel. I love seeing new places, hiking up the mountains, walking along the beaches and exploring city streets. But if I’m not mindful, travel can lead to weight gain, so here’s what I do to keep myself on track when I travel:

#1. My reusable water bottle goes everywhere with me.

Most airports have water bottle filling stations, as to many train terminals. Or, I’ll ask the restaurant or cafe to fill my bottle for me before I board. I save myself $5 and make sure I stay hydrated along my way!

Pro Tip: Make sure you bottle is empty before going through security!

#2. I eat lightly when in transit.

Most airline or airport foods are microwaved, processed, or just generally not as good as their fresh counterparts. So why waste half a day or a whole day’s calories on a hamburger that isn’t GREAT? If I’m going to splurge for nachos, I want spicy nachos with fresh melted cheese – not CheezWiz! So I save my calories or SmartPoints for the stuff that’s actually worth it, and stick to egg whites, fresh fruits and veggies in transit.

Pro Tip: Check the TSA regulations re: where you’re flying and bring your own fruit and snacks with you! Much less expensive!

3. I find the delicacy of the City/region I’m traveling to, and make a plan to enjoy it!

Pappy’s BBQ in St. Louis, chowder in Boston, Mexican food in San Diego – I want to taste what’s famed in that city, so I tend to eat a breakfast of egg whites and fruit salad, and choose big greens salads with shrimp or grilled fish for lunch. My snacks are fruits and veggies, so I feel satiated all day AND I get to enjoy that local delicacy for dinner!

Pro Tip: TripAdvisor is a great resource for finding GREAT dining experiences!

 

4. I stock my hotel room with supplies.

I pack shelf-stable protein bars, Enlightened broad bean snacks and almonds, and then I stop by a local grocery store or corner market for hard boiled eggs, grapes, bananas, and bottled water. With all those healthy choices, I have no excuse for not sticking with my healthy eating goals.

Pro Tip: Most hotels will give you a mini-fridge to use if you tell them you have something that needs to be refrigerated.

 

5. I find a new way to move my booty!

In addition to local delicacies, a lot of cities have fun exercise classes if you do a little research! New York City is home to just about every class imaginable. Stand up paddle boarding is big in Florida, and there are indoor surfing classes (great for your core) in New Orleans. Shred415 is a treadmill and deck workout spot in Chicago. Not up for a class? How about renting a CitiBike or local equivalent?

Pro Tip: Nearly every city has a place for you to take spin, rowing or Bootcamp classes. Been intimidated to try these classes at home? Why not try one while you travel so you don’t have to worry if someone in the class sees you Zumba to the left when everyone else Zumbas to the right?

 

 

6. Take the “No Elevator, No Escalator” Challenge!

When I travel, I know I’m sitting for several hours and not getting a lot of steps in. So I challenge myself to extra steps by skipping the elevators, escalators and moving walkways!

Pro Tip: On long layovers, I walk 20-25 minute miles each hour, which helps me meet my step goal and keeps me from mindlessly snacking!

What about you? What do you do to stay on track while traveling?

 

This article first appeared on organizeyourselfskinny.com on May 30, 2017.