The Hard Moments

The Hard Moments

Let me just say: my weight loss journey is not easy street. I mean, like, NOW. Its not easy street now. It never has been. Forgive me if I’ve ever given the impression that this is easy and effortless. Its just not. I feel frustrated sometimes. I get tempted to skip my workouts. I sometimes wish I could eat a big bowl of ice cream and not get bloated and fall asleep immediately afterwards.

But I decided to see this journey all the way through regardless of how hard it is. There are good times, too. Times when I feel totally untouchable in the gym. Moments when I feel strong, capable and unstoppable. Days when I wake up and notice changes in my belly or face. Those days feel great. I make sure to take extra time on those days to journal. And its not a “ooooh! I feel so amazing, life is wonderful” kinda journal entry. Its an evaluation of what I’m doing that makes me feel that way. Maybe I feel unstoppable in the gym because I got 8 hours of sleep for the past several days. Maybe my belly is leaning out because I successfully avoided dairy for a few days. When things feel good I study WHY they feel good. I write about it because honestly, in a few weeks I won’t remember the feeling OR the reasons behind it. I’m constantly evaluating and assessing. It’s a powerful tool.

There’s a time when awareness is far more important though. The times I feel like crap. The moments I want to cry. The moments I feel like progress is slow. The moments I want to have a pizza delivered in the middle of the afternoon. When I was over 300 lbs I would TOTALLY avoid analyzing these moments. I wouldn’t even consider it. I’d go into “earmuffs” mode and just indulge, indulge, indulge and avoid my feelings like a freaking plague. It would be uncomfortable. And I’d have to admit that I was doing something wrong. I don’t like to be wrong. So if I just blindly followed my urges it was like it didn’t happen, right? Uh….yeah….something like that. I did that for years.

I have a very different approach now. When I feel down/frustrated/lonely/cravings or whatever other unpleasant feeling, I dig into it. The practice of brutal honesty and self-awareness is the single most important thing I am doing to reach my health goals. When I understand what’s going on I can identify it and create a strategy to overcome it. Woah, novel, huh?

Let me give you a real life example. In July I left my busy, chaotic, stressful job to devote myself 100% to Primal Potential. I went from spending 9-12 hours a day in an office to being home all day. Major change. I had to learn quickly to structure my days because I know I tend to go on the prowl for food when I get bored. So I did just that. I’m a morning person so I play to my strengths. I get up, meditate, work for a few hours and then take a break to workout. After my workout I come home and work for a couple more hours. My dead-air time is the late afternoon. My brain is fried, I’m getting tired. I’m restless. I’m bored. I’m at the house by myself. All my friends/family are at work. After a few weeks I quickly found that it was a hard time for me. It was in those afternoon hours that I was having more cravings, trying to talk myself into indulgences.  I didn’t let it go on for so long that I stopped making progress towards my goals because I’m blindly snacking through the afternoons. I identified my feelings, I acknowledged that I do much better and feel much better when I’m busy, and I created a strategy to address that tough time of day. I knew I couldn’t shift my work blocks to the afternoon because I function much more optimally in the mornings. I couldn’t move my workouts to the afternoon because my trainer isn’t available then. I didn’t want to say “do more work!” because I know it wouldn’t be my very best at that time of day.

So I decided to use my afternoons as my “study” time. I love it. I now look forward to that time of day. I get a cup of tea (too late for coffee) and either curl up on the couch with whatever book I’m reading or sit in my office and listen to a podcast. I’m never short on things to read or listen to and this allows me to relax and recharge. I read & study things that motivate and inspire me. Its perfect for me. What’s most perfect is that I’m responding to my pain points and finding a work around. I’m not thinking “oh its impossible to lose weight because I just get so hungry in the afternoon and I can’t control it”.

Are there scenarios or times of day that are hardest for you? I often hear that the evening hours are most challenging. People graze from dinner to bedtime – mostly out of boredom and loneliness. I get it. That’s super common. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in that place. Study it. As yourself what is going on. Seriously, sit down and really think about it.

Are you hungry?

Is this a reaction to being bored?

Do you feel like you need to have something going on all the time or else you’ll think about food?

Have you conditioned yourself to need food in order to enjoy your favorite TV show?

Are you tired?

Identify what’s going on and then start trying different things to overcome it. Maybe you could make dinner time a little later and bedtime a little earlier. Maybe adding more fat and protein and fiber to breakfast and lunch will reduce your evening cravings. Perhaps you could pick up a  hobby and work on it in the evenings like learning to play an instrument or learning to knit. What about taking a cooking class a few nights a week or joining a Bible study group?

No matter what your pain point is, there is a workaround. You just have to stop avoiding it or accepting it as your lot in life. Identify your pain points. Strategize. Practice, practice, practice.

Don’t forget! Thursday December 4th at 8pm EST I’ll be hosting a webinar to talk about the keys to my fat loss success and how I maintain motivation over the long haul. I’ll go step by step through what works best for me, what hasn’t worked and how you can start to create your own fat loss formula! Space is limited so click here to reserve your spot!

5 Steps To Building Healthier Habits

5 Steps To Building Healthier Habits

Chances are, in order to reach your fat loss goals you’re going to have to create some new habits. If only it was as easy as bottling up your good intentions and writing down some goals. It wasn’t so easy for me.

My terrible habits were so deeply engrained in me they felt automatic. Choosing comfort foods on a bad day almost didn’t feel like a choice, it had become instinct. There were days that it felt like my car went on autopilot to the Mexican restaurant after work. I didn’t feel like I was actively “choosing” junk anymore than I chose to fall asleep or yawn. Yes, I know they were choices. But 20+ years of making poor food choices and using food as a drug DOES create a degree of instinct. So if our habits have become automatic, how can we possibly make new ones?

It’s pretty easy to stick to a new routine for a day or two but for lasting fat loss your new habits have to become a part of your everyday life. When I started my weight loss journey I had such a long road ahead and found success by breaking up the necessary lifestyle changes into small, manageable adjustments.

Need to adopt some new, healthy habits? Here’s 5 ways to make sure you can stick to it over the long term!

  1. Understand your current ones
    Are you even aware of how, why and what you eat? That’s really the first step. I suggest keeping a journal of not only what you eat but when you eat it and how you’re feeling before you eat. Beginning to see the patterns around your eating is an absolutely critical part of being able to change them.
  2. Start small
    If you’re living on microwave popcorn, PopTarts and Taco Bell, declaring that you are cutting out all processed foods might be a big leap. It’s a great long-term goal but it might not be the most feasible starting point. Take an honest look at your lifestyle and identify one, small, meaningful area for change. One change I like to recommend is avoiding processed foods before 10am. It removes the pressure to be perfect all day but it starts you out on the right foot and it’s easy to build upon once you get comfortable. If incorporating physical activity is important to you, commit to stretching for 5 minutes first thing in the morning or to taking the stairs at work. This isn’t a race and taking on more than you’re ready to handle is a fast way to fail and get frustrated.
  3. Focus on one thing at a time
    I’m definitely guilty of feeling a surge of motivation and writing out an aggressive, detailed plan to have killer workouts, a super clean diet, an early bedtime, etc, etc. When you’re ready to change your life, you’re ready to change it all, right? That’s totally my MO. However, you’ll be far more successful if you focus on one thing at a time. Make it a part of your life, invest your energy in making it an effortless habit and then tackle the rest. Most of us will claim to be wonderful multitaskers but your focus is finite and if you want to master lasting change, take it one by one.
  4. Practice makes progress
    Once you have identified the small, singular habit you’re going to work to incorporate, practice it at every opportunity. If you come up against a roadblock, embrace it as a great opportunity for practice. Just because you’ve declared walking for 30 minutes each day your new habit doesn’t mean it’s going to be effortless. When your day gets crazy and you feel like there’s no time, don’t respond in frustration. Respond with excitement because your life is giving you an opportunity to demonstrate that you’re willing to put in the work to find a way to reach your goals. Prove to yourself that when things get crazy, you make time for this healthy, new habit. It’s easy when it’s easy, right? We need it to be consistent when it’s NOT easy. That takes practice. When it rains for days on end, don’t throw in the towel and give up on your habit, take advantage of the opportunity to practice your habit and find an indoor track or a shopping mall and get your walk in! It’s going to take consistent practice and commitment to overcoming obstacles. Don’t get frustrated, look for those chances to practice and make progress.
  5.  Hold yourself to a high standard
    We are our own greatest ally and our own greatest enemy. We can be very effective excuse-makers. Commit to holding yourself to a high standard. Commit to living up to the potential you know you have. Don’t give in and don’t give up. Push yourself and expect consistent practice. You don’t have to be perfect but you DO have to be consistent. Creating new habits is easy until it isn’t, right? That’s when you need to keep pushing through and not allow yourself to give up or move on. No one can do it for you. Hold yourself to the standards you know you are capable of.

When you identify one small change and consistently practice it, soon it will be an effortless habit just like brushing your teeth or starting your day with a cup of coffee. The process, however, takes focus and commitment. When you buckle down and focus, you’ll soon be ready to take on more and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to person you want to be.