Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why Crash Diets, Starvation and Stress are making you fat!

Many people have lost weight using some form of Atkins, or other extreme low-carb, diet. Rapid weight loss that involves high-fat, formerly forbidden foods may sound too good to be true. “You mean I can eat bacon, eggs, steak and hamburgers and lose weight, and all I have to do is leave off the bun?” It sounds too good to be true.

People will forever be looking for a magic potion. And yes, people initially lose weight on this diet and, for that matter, on most diets. But, weight loss has less to do with the food consumed during the diet and more to do with people becoming conscious of what and how much they are eating.

We lose weight when we burn more calories than we consume. Period. I remember when I used to read on-line reviews of Turbo Jam or Turbo Kick. There were always those who offered negative reviews because THEY hadn’t lost as much weight as they had hoped. In some cases, they had gained weight. Of course, anyone with common sense knows that there is no form of exercise that will make you gain weight. There is only one thing that will slow your weight loss or cause you to gain weight: EXCESS CALORIES.

Those who follow a strict diet plan—even one that doesn’t include calorie counting—will find they are limited in the amount of food choices available. This regimen results in a reduction of calories. The reduction of calories and sugar consumption results in weight loss. Deny yourself certain foods or create too great a deficit of calories and over time the weight is often regained.

The most commonly followed and least helpful diets:

Another popular form of diet is what I call the “half-day starvation” diet. Those who follow this plan skip breakfast. They start their day with coffee or caffeine and make it past lunch with just a handful of grapes or half a bag of M&M’s. By late afternoon, the body senses a famine in the making, slips into a starvation protection mode, thus storing fat and slowing the calorie burn to accommodate the lack of nutrition coming in. Half-day starvation is a popular form of weight control that many women learn, and have some success with during their teens and early 20’s. As they gain weight and continue to resort to this torturous eating practice, they find it loses its effectiveness; and what used to facilitate weight loss now seems fruitless. The half-day starvation method is very common in overweight people, those who have high-stress jobs, and chronic dieters. By 3 pm, they can’t take it anymore. The hunger and fatigue are overwhelming. The only comfort seems to be large quantities of simple carbohydrates!

When questioned, they often explain, “I normally don’t eat all day until I’m home after work, or when the kids get out of school.” They describe feeling in control of their hunger until late afternoon, sometimes even forgetting that it’s lunch. By mid-afternoon, they feel run down, weak and suddenly famished. The hunger is so strong now it seems that only a simple carbohydrate snack will do the trick! Those who deny themselves meals or “planned food” make the following mistakes:

1. They consume high-fat, high-carbohydrate and unsatisfying snacks in greater quantities.
2. They find themselves in an “urgent” food situation by the time they’re ready to eat.
3. They often consume more “quick” unsatisfying snacks than the average person consumes well-balanced nutritional meals.
4. They activate the “starvation” switch, which tells the body to slow the metabolism and store fat.
5. They increase their evening hunger and create an inability to feel “satisfied” by a meal.

Ironically, those who go all day without a meal actually consume more calories than they know. What’s worse is that these are often the least satisfying, most damaging calories of all. Forced to account for every mindless calorie, many people on the half-day starvation plan will find they can consume up to a 1000 calories before ever having a “meal.” Here’s an actual example from a former client of mine who explained to me that she was “starving” all day and only ate one meal at night. Here’s her diary. It’s followed by an estimation of her calories. See if you can picture yourself in her shoes.

6:00 am Coffee with cream and sugar (2 big cups)
7:30 am Skipped breakfast, but I admit I ate 3 or 4 bites of my daughter’s leftover pancakes
8:30 am Ate a handful of peanut M&M’s at the receptionist’s desk while chatting with her
9:00 am Another cup of coffee with cream and sugar
11:00 am Chatted with receptionist again and, out of habit, I ate a few more M&M’s
12:00 pm Skipped lunch, not hungry yet; must be the M&M’s!
2:00 pm Now, I’m starving, but I’m tired and need caffeine! Picked up an iced mocha on the way to get the kids
2:30 pm Driving to soccer from school – ate Rachelle’s leftover goldfish from the lunch I packed her
3:00 pm Spent several hours at the soccer field with no food. I’m famished! All I can think about is dinner!
5:00 pm Back home and starving! Preparing dinner; ate a few handfuls of chips out of the bag to tide me over!
6:00 pm Finally, a meal! Healthy Dinner – Chicken breast, steamed vegetables, and water! Pretty good!
9:00 pm 3 cookies – just something sweet to watch my show with! I told you I’m bad at night!
10:00 pm Cocktail to unwind – (Just one. I needed it today!)
11:30 pm Not really hungry, but wanted something salty. Ate a few potato chips, then off to bed.

6:00 am Coffee w/ cream and sugar (2 big cups) 150 cals
7:30 am Bites of daughter’s pancakes – 100 cals
8:30 am Peanut M&M’s - 150 cals
9:00 am Coffee with cream and sugar – 75 cals
11:00 am More peanut M&M’s – 150 cals
12:00 pm Skipped lunch
2:00 pm Large iced mocha – 350 cals
2:30 pm Goldfish crackers – 100 cals
5:00 pm Chips while preparing dinner – 300 cals

At this point, she feels she’s been depriving herself of a meal all day. She’s unsatisfied and starving, hasn’t had a meal, yet she’s already consumed 1,400 empty calories and put her metabolism in slow motion.

6:00 pm 7 oz chicken breast, steamed veggies, brown rice and water! – 350 cals
9:00 pm 3 cookies – 250 cals
10:00 pm Cocktail – 200 cals
11:30 pm Chips– 150 cals

She goes to bed feeling as though she stuffed herself at the end of the night, starved herself all day, and to make matters worse, she consumed in excess of 2,300 calories and did no exercise! Not a lot of calories, unless she’s only burning 1800 a day, in which case she is on pace to gain a pound a week or more! The worst part about this is that she’s destroying her body’s ability to burn calories efficiently. She feels as though her efforts are for nothing. She’s frustrated, disappointed and living a tortured existence controlled by food and an ever-expanding waistline.

Starvation Protection Mechanism:
There are those who actually consume little to no calories for half of the day. They tough it out in the morning and afternoon and just stop eating. Yet, when we stop eating for more than three hours, science shows us the body literally flips a switch on that slows our basil metabolic rate. When the switch gets flipped on, the body activates the starvation protection mechanism (SPM). SPM is the result of thousands of years of human evolution meant to protect us from famine.

Our bodies are designed to store fat and burn muscle while in SPM mode. In this state, our bodies are ready to store fat, and often use muscle and other healthy fuel stores for energy. It is for this reason that Sumo wrestlers are encouraged to fast during the first portion of the day, train and then consume excessive amounts of calories. Are you training like a Sumo wrestler?

By eating every two-and-a-half to three hours, you lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” and has been proven to be associated with stored belly fat, depression, insomnia and a weakened immune system. Those who eat healthily, and avoid going more than 3 hours without meals, can burn an increased number of calories even at rest and prevent muscle loss, which keeps the metabolism active. By eating small, well-balanced meals, you constantly ‘rev’ the metabolism!

But, the bottom line is that weight loss is a matter of calories in versus calories out. Eat or underestimate what you’re eating by more than 500 calories per day (a couple handfuls of chips), and you’ll be on track to gain 1 pound a week. How can we burn more but still enjoy eating effectively and with satisfaction on a more regular basis?

The simple answer:

Exercise more ---- Eat less.

That’s what you’ve been told. But, there’s far more to it.

The more complex answer:

Know what you’re burning so you know what you should/can consume to obtain your weight loss or weight maintenance goals. Do things that increase your body’s ability to burn calories, such as frequent small meals and strength training to build dense lean muscle tissue and cardiovascular activity to burn additional calories and maintain cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular activity should consist of 30 minutes or more of exercise 5 to 6 times a week with programs such as Turbo Kick, Turbo Jam, Hustle or whatever program you will do and enjoy (I mean that!). Strength training should be performed 3 times a week with programs such as ChaLEAN Extreme or P90X.

Move more and you burn more. Build muscle and you create a muscle tissue which burns more calories at rest than fat. Eat frequently so you can keep your metabolism working and avoid SPM.

It’s not magic. It’s science. Here’s what eating every 2.5 to 3 hours will do for your body.

1. It turns off our SPM, or starvation protection mechanism
2. It allows the body to use stored fat—not muscle—for energy! That’s critical.
3. It lowers our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone that comes from not eating and putting your body in the stress mode with starvation. When you lower your cortisol, you reduce belly fat first.
4. You teach your body to constantly reset its metabolism. It is almost like a workout for the body every time you eat a balanced meal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bombay of the Day: The Flip

or http://www.amazon.com

If you're like me and frustrated by the difficulty in doing something so seemingly simple as sending a quick video to youtube, or your daughters first recital to Grandma's email, then the Flip is the answer to your prayers! I love this little gadget so much that I have bought several for friends and family, we use it for fun videos at Powder Blue Productions and I made sure to give one away to the recent winners of our So You Think You Can Turbo contest winners and we recently bough all of our top 5 Star Presenters their own Flip cameras too!

Prices range depending on the version that you buy from $55 - $210

Way cool is the size! It's as small as a cell phone. Super easy to keep in your purse for quick unexpected moments that might otherwise go unrecorded! Easy to review and delete on the 2 inch display screen!

The more expensive price range is for HD quality video, which I must say is really quite fab! However, if you don't need really amazing HD quality then the non HD version takes up far less hard drive space, thus making editing a breeze! I also found that the HD version crashed my computer more often. Again... probably a giga-something issue, but I don't have the patience to figure it out! Back to the non HD version for my personal stuff. We use the HD version for work!

I'm not too techy..(shocker) I just know that it works like a charm. It gets its name from the USB plug that "flips" up upon pressing a button. Great idea! All I have to do is point, shoot, flip then plug it into the USB port and bam! Then I have the choice to edit it or directly upload to youtube.com! Nice! No converting! No cords to lose! It's dummy proof! A must if you have precious childhood memories to capture, need to record yourself teaching, have an idea for a video blog, want to share video tips, or just about any other (hopefully legal) activity you can imagine!

Technical Details from their site!
Holds 60 minutes of HD-quality video (1280 x 720 resolution at 30 frames per second; 16:9 widescreen) on 4 GB of built-in memory
Weighs only 3.3 ounces; Super-slim, super-sleek design, fits into your pocket or purse
Features one-touch recording and digital zoom
Flip-out USB arm plugs directly into your computer to launch built-in FlipShare software
FlipShare software lets you save and organize your videos, edit individual clips, make custom movies, email your videos, and upload them

Thanks for reading!


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Lecture Series

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Become the Smartest person you know

Become the Valedictorian of your life…. How to become the smartest person you know and avoid life’s potential pitfalls.

Unfortunately, after high school, college, graduate school, many of us put our student status on hiatus. Did you know you have an opportunity to become the Valedictorian of your life?

I remember sitting at one of my son's T-ball games observing a 6 year old boy throw a tantrum at second base because another child had made the out at HIS base. He ripped off his hat, threw his glove at the coach, stomped his feet and started screaming..."It's not fair! It's not fair!" He did this not once, not twice, but three times during the same game.
Where were his parents you might ask? Sitting in the stands yelling, “Ryan, behave! Ryan, get up! Ryan, stop it!” They were embarrassed and frustrated. Yet, Ryan would do this at every game. And every game his parents responded with the same techniques. Obviously, it’s time to try a new approach. How about with swift and deliberate action, grabbing the kid by the arm and dragging him from the field to the car and straight home? Why shout at him from the stands this week when that didn’t work last week? If what you're doing is not effective, try another method until you’ve found the one that is. Once you find what works, be consistent. Unfortunately many parents are only consistent in trying. They try. They try and they try consistently. They try to get a better result using the same ineffective methods. I have two kids. They didn't come with manuals. They both very different. The approach that works with one, rolls off the back of the other. To top it off..kids are like elephants. Give in once (even if it's to get out of the store without an embarrassing world class meltdown) and they’ll remember it...and try it again!

It’s interesting to me that some of the most responsible of parents struggle daily with tantrum throwing, limit-pushing, disrespectful, combative kids. We all know these types of munchkins. Are they bad kids? Or have they just been taught by their parents that the more disruptive the behavior the more likely they are to get what they want? At a minimum they'll get some attention and for some they don't care if it's negative attention or positive attention, they just want to control Mom and Dad's attention by any means possible.

You have to credit the parents for trying! I feel their frustration. They use “time-outs” just like the other parent. They ground them for the appropriate length of time. They do their best to teach their kids right from wrong. They’re tough! They raise their voice when needed and caress and hug to reward them for positive behavior. But something is just not working! "Little Johnny is just very stubborn", they explain.

Why is it that some parents seem to have been blessed with the sweetest of well-behaved children. These kids must be wired differently. They inherently understand “no” really does mean “no”. These parents appear to rarely need to raise their voices. Of course no child is an angel, but these tykes really seem to be even tempered and obedient. The Moms and Dad's of these little cherubs seem somehow blessed with more manageable kids. So are the kids really that different or is it something subtle in the parenting?

What’s the secret?

How many of us know someone who jumps from one relationship to another? They seem to pick the wrong one time after time. Addicted to the drama and the rush of starting and ending relationships? They long for a lasting fulfilling relationship, but are never completely satisfied. They’re always looking for their lifelong soul mate, only to find yet another looser, someone who treats them poorly, doesn't treat them with respect or they find a great person and they dump 'em...because.."he's too nice!"

Yet, others seem to find the perfect match on the first try. They share interest, a mutual respect, happiness, partnership and a lasting romance. So were the stars aligned for these lucky souls, or does luck really have anything to do with it?

What’s the secret?

I know so many hard working people who put in 10 to 18 hours a day, six or more days a week, but never climb out from under a mountain of debt. They drive nice cars, but they’re not extravagant. They live in modest homes and take occasional vacations. Some enjoy what they have and resolve to save some money as soon as there’s a little something extra. They work tirelessly to get ahead of the cycle and plan to save as soon as things turn around. Yet month after month they find themselves upside down.

Conversely, I know millionaires who drive 10 year old cars, wear the same sweater they did in 1991, live in a modest home, free and clear. Their neighbors may have no idea the guy next door is a millionaire because he doesn’t collect the common possessions of status. This guy enjoys the privileges of wealth, but spends reasonably and invests and saves with the greater fervor than most.

What’s the secret?

Success in black and white:
Luck plays a small part in the success equation of life. In the last 15 years, I’ve made myself a student of successful people. I study other’s success in business, in marriage, in money, in parenting, in decorating, in hiring the right people, in time management, in sales, in fitness, in communication and in friendship.

The wisest of people are life long students. They realize how little they know and find joy in uncovering life’s mysteries through the research, opinions and writings of others. In this day of instant information it’s simply unnecessary to suffer needlessly with any one problem when someone has made a life’s work in solving it. Regardless the quandary, someone has written a book on the matter.

So, what’s the secret? It’s simple. Read.

Hit the books. Become the valedictorian of your life!

When I was having difficulties with my kids I read “How to behave so your children will too!” by Sal Severe. When I realized that I knew little about investments and wanted to make better financial decisions, I read everything I could find by Suze Orman. Curious what makes the difference between Millionaires and the average guy, I read, “The Millionaire Next Door” and “The Millionaire Mind”, "Rich Dad Poor Dad", and then everything I could find by Brian Tracy.

When it comes to personal relationships and making better decisions in life I’ve read seven of Dr. Laura Schlesinger’s books. You don't have to agree with everything she says to find some wonderful pearls of wisdom. I loved “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.” My marriage is more important that my bank account or fitness or just about anything, so I devote a great deal of time to reading books to keep my relationship strong. When Bret and I have an"off" the worlds feels like it's rotating sideways. I can't imagine feeling that way for days, weeks, months and years and not taking action. My friend and family relationships are equally important in helping me feel balanced. "The Five Love Languages For Families" and all of the books in Dr. Gary Chapman's series are fantastic.

Sometimes it's not that I read something ground breaking...just a good reminder, something I needed to hear again..at that exact moment!

I love a good challenge. I love the conquer! I recently committed to address a huge character flaw that I had suffered from all my life.... True confession.. I used to be chronically late (notice past tense). I know that you are either one of those always early or usually late kind of people. I also know that those who are always on time would like to KILL most of us who are chronically late. My husband believes if you're not 10 minutes early, you're late. Yet, for years he's just kind of dealt with my attempts to be exactly on time, which often resulted in being late! I googled he topic and found great reviews about a book entitled, "Never Be Late Again" Diana Delonzor. Wow! Eye opening and so simple to fix, once you understand what type of late person you are!

40 years later and after one great book, I now can call myself an on-time person! I can't say that I'm 100% cured, but since reading "the book" 2 months ago, there have been just a few infractions! Not bad. (Now, special request... I will write in detail about the process of learning not to be late. So save your "I hate late people. They are ruuuuuuude and should burn in hell" comments for that blog.)

The lesson...
Be a student for life. The more you learn, the more you’ll realize the how little you knew.

I seek out the experts on topics of interests or shortcomings and hear what they have to say. It will save you time, money and heartache. Learn to identify the things you could be doing better, professionally and personally. Create the life you want to lead.

Wise words can help you put problems into perspective, fix nagging trouble and help you to avoid repeating destructive or ineffective behaviors. Any answer you need can be found in black and white, if you’ll only take the time to read.

Finding the time:
You’re a pretty busy person. When are you going to find time to read? How about books on tape or CD? Why not become a student in your car? Have you ever spent more than 5 minutes in the bathroom? I love my Kindle from Amazon.com. It holds hundreds of books, allows me to save highlights, write notes, and keeps track of what I've read and when. It's smaller than a standard book so it's always in my purse. You never know when you might show early to a lunch date and have a few minutes to kill while you wait for someone who has yet to read "Never Be Late Again".
If you're an aggressive book reader (like me) then a Kindle will save you a bundle. It has some shortcomings, but the speed and increased frequency of my reading far outweighs the little glitches. I love the Kindle.

Reading doesn't mean setting aside an hour. Read anytime you can steal away 5 minutes! How about on each commercial break during your favorite program? Forgo your favorite magazine at your next nail appointment. You don’t have to read a book cover to cover to gain valuable insight. Sometimes a single sentence can make a life changing difference.

Thanks for reading...you're obviously already a student of life!


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Monday, July 13, 2009

YUMMY MONDAY: Low-Fat Oatmeal Protein Pancakes


1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup frozen, warmed berries with their juices as a topping or sugar free syrup
Splenda to taste


Blend first four ingredients until smooth
Pour approximately 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto heated griddle or non-stick pan (check to see if its hot enough with a splash of water-if it sizzles, its hot enough)
When pancake bubbles, flip and cook the other side
Top with frozen, organic strawberries-warmed and sliced and poured over the top with their juices. Or substitute fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or bananas. You can use Splenda to taste.

Nutrition Facts

Makes 2 Servings (Three ¼ cup pancakes with ¼ cup strawberries)

Amount Per Serving

Calories: 254.5
Total Fat: 3.3 g
Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.0 g
Cholesterol: 2.3 mg
Sodium: 280.0 mg
Potassium: 297.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 33.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.3 g
Sugars: 2.5 g
Protein: 21.3 g

Sunday, July 12, 2009



A friend of mine, recently divorced, summarized the demise of her marriage to what she called a lazy partner and uninterested father. From the moment they were married she cooked all the meals, did all the laundry, ran the household, cleaned the yard, paid the bills, fixed the dishwasher, painted the walls, packed his lunch and made his coffee. Before he returned from work each day, she would make sure all the shoes were lined up properly, the floor was swept and dinner on the stove. Did I mention that she worked full-time too? Eventually, they had a child. She felt like a single mom. She handled every feeding, bath, diaper change, every tantrum, and all the nurturing and basic care of their child. At best, she explained, he might reluctantly agree to listen to the baby monitor while she ran out for groceries. Before long another baby was on the way.

I asked if he ever showed an interest in their daughters. She admitted that he loved the girls to death. His face lit up when they walked in the room, but soon, it was only the girls that they shared in common. I asked how the cycle started. She explained in the beginning he would hold the baby, but not support her head the way SHE wanted, or that when he put on her diapers, they were “too loose”. She criticized his efforts (my observation, not hers). He really didn’t do anything the way she’d have done it herself. She said she wait for him to do his part around the house and when he didn’t do it on her schedule, she just did it herself. Before long it seemed everything was her responsibility. He was making more money than her and in her mind that had a mental impact on who she “believed” held the balance of power in the relationship. Before long she found herself building a wall between herself and the “partner” whom she was building resentment for. She did everything, and often just to prove that to him that she “didn’t need him” or that she was super woman. She explained, “I just knew he didn’t care enough to help me, so like everything else, I just did it all myself. Before long I couldn’t even remember what it was I ever loved about him.”

I think it was Dr. Phil who coined the phrase, “Teach people how to treat you.”

My sister and I love joking around about our parents. Marge and Bill are free spirits, great people, great parents and married over 40 years. A few years back Jenelle and I were laughing about how somehow I always ended up handling things for my competent, young and intelligent parents, that they should be able to do themselves. I’ll never forget the time my mom called me to find out who SHE had phone service with. She couldn’t find a bill and wanted to make some changes. She wasn’t sure whose name the account had been opened under (hers, my fathers, or one of their company names). The five phone companies I listed off, all sounded “familiar” to her. She then asked if I could make a few calls and see what I could find out. With two little ones (at the time), a full time business to run, employees to manage, a pending new Round, 100 phone calls and 200 e-mails to return and a gymnastic lessons in twenty minutes, I thought…, “You’re joking, right?” But I did it.

My sister got a real kick out of that. She remarked, “They would never call me to do that stuff.” I asked, “Why do you think that is?” She quipped, “Because they know you’ll do it.”

Light bulb.

And just a few occasions of saying, “I’m so sorry… I just don’t have the time to get to that right now”, and funny how these very capable parents of mine are all grown up now.

I remember at my wedding shower we played this game where we went around the room and each married woman offered their marital advice. I’ll never forget the family friend who said, “Good husbands are made, not found. Train your husband to be your partner.” Now married more than a decade, I’d say Bret and I are the best of partners. Part picking the right guy, but certainly each “training” the other how we expect to be treated.

What you accept as okay today, will be your reality repeated tomorrow.
It’s not fair to quit the game because you’re sick of the rules that you helped to create. True, there’s no need to sweat the small stuff. We all let things slide for the sake of peace and sanctity. But accepting behavior and treatment that changes the way you feel about yourself is a dangerous road to ride. At some point you have to let people know you’d like to modify the rules a bit!

We teach people how to treat us. As difficult as it may be to hear, in whatever relationship, (boss, spouse, friends, etc.), we have taught people the rules and boundaries of dealing with us.

Some people, striving to be “the perfect spouse” start their relationships off by handling everything for their partner. Many moms take on this role with the birth of their first child, thwarting their husband’s efforts to care for the baby. Unable to risk the chance that Dad might do things “wrong”, or with the good intentions to simply lessen his burden, these new moms avoid having Dad do anything at all! In doing so, one spouse teaches the other that they will take care of everything. Some husbands in an attempt to be sensitive to the demands of “being a mom”, accept the lack of affection, attention and love their spouse use to give them. “She’s tired. The kids need her. She’s being a good Mom.” Soon they feel less and less needed by their children’s mother.

Little do they recognize that instead of building a partnership, they’re building a fertile breeding ground for deep-rooted resentment, an addictive cycle of martyrdom and a lack of affection for their partner. We teach people how to treat us.

Unknowingly we give people the “rules” of how to treat us everyday.
Have you ever been a member of a group assigned a task, like a school project or a baby shower? You have a decision to make; keep quiet and let someone else run the show, or volunteer to do 90% of the work yourself! Do it all yourself and later you’re angry that , “once again” you did everything! Yet, those are the rules you established by your actions. You know it’s true.

I’m a control freak in recovery, so I know the deal. I used to volunteer to do everything. Well, the ugly truth is…I would volunteer to do ONE thing, then slowly but surely, one project at a time, I would take-over what was assigned to everyone else. I had to! The devil made me do it! It’s an illness! If I didn’t I would feel anxiety that things would not be “done right”. I would stress endlessly over the small details that no one else would notice but me. I had to let go of that need to control, or the need to be recognized as the person who got the job done! I had to acknowledge that much of what I was volunteering to do, was not out of the kindness of my heart, but for personal recognition. Funny how once you realize that control and selfish recognition are not that important, it’s pretty easy to let others earn their merit badge.

In every encounter we teach people how to treat us.

When someone shows up late for a meeting, you either brush it off with a warm greeting and small talk the terrible traffic, or you act a bit cold, nod as to be polite, but stop short of accepting their lack of preparedness. If you choose the later reaction, you teach people, without saying a word, it is not okay to be late with you.

I remember the first year I volunteered to teach PE to first graders at my son’s school. The first day, nearly all 50 kids, at one point or another, asked me to tie a shoe. Wanting to win the “Nicest Mom volunteer” award, there I was every 15 seconds, bent over tying another shoe. Now I really think they were lining up behind me and untying their shoes for the attention, but I went along with it!

That night I asked my son (who knew how to tie shoes) why his classmates hadn’t learned to do the same. He innocently replied, “Oh, they know how, but it’s easier if you do it.”

The next week Ms. Johnson responded to tie requests with, “I have an idea…let’s see how fast YOU can do it!” I never tied a stinky, dirty 1st grade shoe again that year.

If you are frustrated by the way someone is treating you, or that you have to pick up the slack for others; if you’re at wits end because you’re the only one who cleans the house, or by a one-sided friendship, or a lopsided marriage, I encourage you to take a closer look at your personal contribution. It is much easier to blame the other party. It takes strength and self-confidence to accept that we are partly, if not wholly responsible for the way people treat us. It takes patience, love and commitment to gradually change the rules to something you can live with.

Sometimes mistreatment comes with it’s own rewards.
Say, for example, you’re in a relationship with a destructive or mean spirited partner or friend. This person treats you with cruelty, betrays you and then needs you to forgive them. Why would any sane person maintain this friendship? Perhaps complaining and later forgiving someone has become satisfying for you. By deciding to or not to bestow your forgiveness places you in a position of power. It might make you feel superior, almost saint-like for sticking with such a person. Perchance you are most comfortable with this relationship and roller coaster cycle because it is the type of household in which you were raised and therefore recreating it in your adult life makes you feel “right at home”. Do you think that’s the best of what you deserve? Whatever the case, look closely at the rewards you gain from allowing yourself to be treated in this manner. Consider the benefits of teaching people to treat you better.

Your commitment and patience will be tested
. Rudeness and an abrupt 180-degree behavioral changes on your part will not likely produces the results you’re looking for in long-term relationships. You’ve spent many years teaching certain people to treat you this certain way. This is change may be uncomfortable for both of you at first. Go slow.

A friend of mine recently called to share her frustration with me. She complained that she was sick of being the person who always reached out to plan things in her family. She was fed up with being the only one who worked to get everyone together. All the parties, dinners, picnics, and holidays were her planning. She coordinated all the dishes others were to bring, how many were coming, where they would meet and how often. She had enough and decided to just wait and see who stepped up to the plate. She was done!

Six months later I asked her who stepped up. No one had. She hadn’t seen or heard from anyone in the family. Several holidays had passed and no one made the effort to fill her shoes. I asked her if she told anyone that she would no longer be doing the planning. Apparently she had. (I wonder). Yet still no one stepped up. The point is, if it’s importrant to you, if that’s just who you are, ‘a planner’, the person who reaches out and brings people together, a do-er, an organizer, then don’t be resentful that other people are not. You've already told the world that's your job. Just be willing to do what gives you joy and don’t do things because you’re looking for an awards ceremony in your honor. (You’d have to plan that one yourself too!) Everyone has their gift. Celebrate yours.

“Do” because it gives you joy, not because you want to make sure the world loves you.
It is self-destructive behavior to think that you must become a doormat in order to make everyone happy. You can’t control the happiness, nor are you responsible for controlling the happiness of the people around you. Many people pleasers excuse their behavior by saying, "but I don't want to let anyone down." What they're really saying is, "But I want everyone to like me." By failing to respect yourself, your own time, your own boundaries and what's important to you, others actually lose respect for you.

Don’t fall prey to misguided guilt
. In recent years I offered to teach several classes as a volunteer for a small start-up gym to help get things kicked off. By this stage my fitness career had taken off and I had sold my share of videos to the world. I didn’t need to teach financially and I certainly knew that my “volunteering” at this club was of a tremendous benefit to the owner. At one point I remember having to tell her at the last minute that I wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to teach a well-publicized class she had scheduled the next day. My girlfriend asked if I was “concerned” that the owner might be angry with me. Of course not! That’s the kind of thinking that turns people into doormats. When you’re doing what’s right. When you’re doing your best, you can’t worry if someone else thinks you should be doing more. Did I feel bad that I wasn’t going to be able to make it? Of course! But I certainly had done more than my share to help the club.

It is very unlikely your friends, family or partners will ever know what it is you want unless you have the courage to specifically ask for it and ask for it in a way that is not accusatory. Remember, you taught this person to do the opposite! Learning to teach people how to treat us takes practice, patience and the confidence to know that you are worthy.

Be both honest and kind and prepared to have to repeat your request consistently over time.
Once you have asked for the change, you must be consistent. Don’t go back to your old ways a month later. If nothing changes and you’re still being treated poorly, reevaluate the benefits, or lack thereof in this. When small strides are made, even if it’s not even close to what you’d consider perfect, be sure to praise the other person. Tell him or her how much that meant to you. Before long you'll see things change. Relax. Don't rush this and remember to keep your heart open. A closed heart never sees the small gestures of progress.

Ps…. I actually enjoy doing silly little things for my parents. I figured out today that the reward, which keeps me doing these things; it makes me feel like I’m returning the favor for all they’ve done for us. Oh, and I love to hear my sister laugh when we recount “the latest”.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Losing the Loser Mentality

It’s time to lose the loser mentality. I’ll start my diet Monday. The loser mentality, simply defined, is the all-or-nothing approach that keeps the diet industry in business. It’s the notion that when you slip, when you experience a moment of weakness and enjoy something strictly forbidden, like a card carrying member of AA, you’ve blown your sobriety and you return to step one. It’s over. You’ve blown it.

Begin again. Start anew. Fineto. When we have been conditioned to adopt the “loser mentality”, we view “dieting” as a temporary prison sentence, a grounding, a period of deprivation, a testing of wills; during which you practice abstinence. Then, one day you can’t take it anymore, you resolve to have just one handful of chips. That’s it. Just a taste. Five handfuls later, your diet is over. Your mentality shifts. You’re free. You think to yourself, “Well, I’ve blown it, so I might as well eat what I want. I’m having a burger, fries and dessert tonight!” By 9 pm of the same day, your stomach is full and your morale is low. Disgusted with yourself for failing once again, you decide your diet is officially over.

You are going to thoroughly enjoy yourself. You’ll start a new diet after your up coming vacation. You spend the next month gaining back the 8 pounds you lost on the last diet, and 3 more for good measure. Now you have more to lose than when you started. You’re over-weight. You feel obligated to live your life on the diet rollercoaster. You never really expect lasting results. You long to find the magic potion and get excited about the promises. However, secretly you expect defeat even before you begin. I’ll try this for a while.
That’s the loser mentality. As of today, you’ll practice it no more.

This time it’s different. This is NOT a diet. This is your diet, meaning simply…the way you eat. Oh sure, I had to package it as a diet book to get you to buy it, but if this is going to work for you, once and for all, you have only one option. You do it. You don’t try. You live it. You adopt and enjoy it. You change your attitude. You change the way you think and your feelings about your new eating habits. You gain control over your body, your weight, your health and your life.

This is your new improved way of life. This is the winner’s mentality.

As you shift your thinking, you will understand that you have total power over your menu, your food, your exercise and the speed of your transformation. You will experience a peace and comfort, which will get you excited about the positive effect this will have on every aspect of your life! Every aspect!

Understand that this is about balance: give and take, good and bad, progression and occasional regression. Success, fitness, health, living a better, fuller life has never been an ‘all or nothing’ proposition. Those who are fit for life have this figured out, and now, so do you. There are going to be days where you planned to exercise, but an emergency arose. Heck, you’re probably going to get the flu this year and you won’t be able to exercise for days! When you followed the loser’s mentality you might have gone months with no exercise. Eventually, you would embark on another diet or exercise kick and begin again! Now, that you realize you have a new way of life, you will jump back in the saddle as soon as you can. You will get back on track as soon as you’re physically able; because you know your life is better for it. You’re a winner. Say it. Know it. Believe it. You’re a winner and you now live following the habits and attitude of every person who has won this battle before you.

Tomorrow, you may decide to eat something that you know doesn’t help you move closer to your weight loss goal. You might decide you really want a piece of cake. The dieter’s mentality says, that if you have one or two or three cookies, you’ve blown it. So, you might as well eat the whole box. And that rolls into, well, I’ve blown it today and I might as well punish myself the rest of the week by eating bad food. I’ll start my diet next week. This is called a slide. It’s the loser’s mentality.

This is a way of life. You’re human. You’re gonna miss the occasional workout. You’re going to enjoy the occasional treat. You can do those things in moderation. You’re going to recognize that when you’ve fallen off track, you immediately get back on. Now think about it. There are times when you mess up in life. You yell at your kids and you didn’t mean to. You don’t spend the rest of your week screaming, yelling and stomping around. Of course not! You check yourself, put yourself back in line, and start behaving the way you know you should. The same is true of your food. The same is true of your healthy lifestyle. Slip up? Get back on track. Don’t let a slip turn into a slide.

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