Weight Loss Starts In Your Mind

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I posted on Facebook and Twitter this week that I would like to invite some people to join me in a research project.  Specifically, I stated that I am going to research dieting and why we do it.  Of course the initial answer would be “to lose weight, duh!”, but I’m looking for more than that.  Really, I should say, “Why do we want to lose weight?”  That begs a different answer altogether.

I have spent most of my life working at losing or not gaining weight.  Most people who know me will tell you that other than when I’ve had my kids and a year or so surrounding that, I’ve pretty much stayed the same size.  I gain a pound here and lose a pound there, but mostly I stay the same.  This is by design, not by accident.

For me, up until around two years ago, being a certain weight has been an obsession and an attempt at perfection.  When I was a teenager, I wanted to look like someone else, not like me.  There are many reasons for this, but the strongest reason was because I didn’t think I was attractive.  Somewhere in my youth I heard that in order to have the perfect body your proportions had to be just right.  The numbers in my head right now are 36″, 26″, and 36″.  Those measurements are breast, waist, and hips respectively.  I think my hips were bigger than 36″ from the time I was 11 or 12, so what was I supposed to do with that?  I didn’t realize then that those numbers were not meant for every woman and not even attainable for some.  Something else I remember was a chart that said my optimal weight was 120 lb.  So, that is something else I tried to achieve for most of my adult life.  I’m sad to admit I went way below that a few times in pursuit of my picture of perfection.  It turned out that I was really pursuing looking like a skeleton, but I couldn’t see that.

For many people, but I think women especially, self-image has a lot to do with the reason they want to lose weight.  I know it was for me.  I thought if I looked better, people would love me more.  I thought if I weighed less I would somehow be more attractive and accepted by my peers.  I thought that what was on the outside was so much more important than who I was on the inside.  I was wrong.  About all of it.

I am starting a project and I would like as many people to join me as possible.  I want to find out why we want to lose weight, why it’s so important to us to fit into a size 6 (I don’t know what that “perfect” size is for men), and what we can do to lose weight for the right reasons if we need to lose weight at all.

If you have chased diet after diet, weight loss program after weight loss program and still struggle with your weight or your perception of your weight, please get in touch with me.  Let’s figure this out together and see if we can’t bring about a change in our perceptions and if necessary our bodies.

You can contact me by leaving a comment, emailing me at lifestylemuse@yahoo.com, or connecting with me on Facebook or Twitter.

A Challenge

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After talking to my son about my last blog post and asking him to read it, I have learned that I have another challenge.  How do you teach your child to work hard, do their best and try to excel at everything they do without helping them to feel like they have to perform for approval?
After my son read my blog post “Having fun”, he responded by saying this:”What I meant when I said no one wants to be healthy is that it’s easier said than done.  It’s easier for me to watch my favorite YouTuber play a game than it is for me to go spend the money to buy it.  It’s easier to watch someone else be healthy and work out than to spend time and not get the results you want.  See, it’s easier to quit than to fail because if you quit then you don’t feel like you can’t do anything or that everything you have done was for nothing.”
My kids have not always had the easiest life.  Hell, who has?  My life was no bed of roses growing up, and I really wanted things to be a little easier for my boys.  I worked really hard so they could have some of the things that I didn’t have, but in the end, we sacrificed in other areas that were so much more important.
Boys do not always express themselves the way a girl might.  Girls tend to let you know when you’ve let them down, or if they’re not happy with how things are going, but a lot of boys just stuff all that emotion, or at least that’s what mine do.  Every now and then, when something happens that just tips everything a little too far, I will get what they’ve been feeling for a long time.  Normally in a way that practically rips my heart out.  I have learned, though, not to be so sensitive and to let them vent and express themselves in those moments and try to really hear what they are saying.
The last time this happened, my youngest son expressed to me that he didn’t like me being gone so much and not being available for him when he needed me.  I stayed home after he was born until he was around 2, then I went back to work.  Mostly because I felt like I needed to, but partly because I wanted to.  Eventually, I had no choice.  I would have loved a job that I could work from home and be there when my kids got up in the morning and when they got home from school, but that isn’t how it worked out.  Now, my oldest son is 25 and my youngest is 17 and you would think that they would need me less, but that’s not necessarily true.
I could sit around and feel sorry for myself because I wasn’t able to be a stay at home mom, or because I made poor choices that affected my boys.  I could wallow in regret, and I have.  I choose to learn, and to find a way to go forward in a way that is constructive for not only myself, but for my boys and for their children.  I have learned so many things in the last few years and I’m not finished learning. We really never stop learning if we’re open to it.
So, I have a second challenge: figure out how to motivate a child to work at succeeding without controlling and manipulating and without guilt.  We all need to learn that it’s ok to fail, we don’t have to be perfect at everything, or anything, we can just enjoy the process of learning how to do things and be ok with not being great at them.

Having Fun

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I’m going to be real honest and transparent with you.  I don’t think of myself as fun.  Probably if you asked most people who know me, they would not describe me as fun either.  They may say I’m dependable, responsible, loyal, hard working and maybe compassionate and caring, in other words super boring, but not fun.

A few weeks ago, this reality hit me all of a sudden, “I’m not fun!”  I broke down in tears, because not only do I not think of myself as fun, but I really am not sure HOW to become fun.  Why is this important to me?  Because I realized that most of my life has been devoted to work.  I have been so concerned about working to pay bills, provide for my boys, have a vehicle to drive, and so many other things that I lost sight of actually enjoying life.

Something that brought this even more to light for me was a discussion that I had with my seventeen year old son last night.  He loves to watch youtube.  He spends hours watching other people play video games and make silly comments while they are doing it.  He watches people skateboarding, snow boarding, surfing, dancing, singing and God only knows what else.  He watches, he doesn’t participate.  He was telling me about one of his favorite youtubers (is that even a word?) and it kind of irritated me.  He was talking about how they basically make their living by recording themselves doing whatever they do, play video games, act silly, whatever.  I felt angry.

What I said to my son was, “Well, it must be nice to just have fun and get paid for it.  Some of us actually have to get a job so we can do mundane things like pay bills and raise kids.”  He said, “Yes, but some people can have fun and get paid for it.”  That realization threw me.  I told him that I am so used to being told that I have to produce something to be valuable, that I have to work hard whether I enjoy it or not, that I felt angry when I heard him talk about getting paid to have fun.

When I started on my journey to being a health coach, I was really excited.  I thought, “Finally, I can do something that I love and get paid to do it.”  The reality of it has been very discouraging.  It has been difficult to get started, and it has been even more difficult to realize that people don’t want to pay for you to teach them how to take care of themselves.

This is what my son told me last night.  “People don’t want to get healthy, it’s not fun.  You can’t make it fun.  Only some people want to exercise and eat right, most people just want to sit around and watch other people do things.”  Wow…is that what it’s come to?  So, the question becomes, “How do I make changing your lifestyle from unhealthy to healthy… fun?”

This has become my new challenge.


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We hear it all the time, “You can’t do this alone”.  Some people think they can do whatever they’re trying to do alone, but really in the end we all need someone.  Even if you work for yourself, you still need clients, or customers, or someone who needs your services in some way.  We’ve all heard the saying, “No man is an island unto himself”.  It’s true, and I keep learning that it’s true in so many different aspects of life.

There are times that I just want to do things by myself.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I like some things a certain way.  I like the dishes in my kitchen exactly where I have them.  When someone else puts the dishes away, I try to appreciate their help, but most of the time I end up rearranging them.  I also like having my time in the mornings to myself.  I don’t always get that time, but I like it when I do.

One thing that I really don’t like doing alone is exercising.  I would rather have someone to work out with who is pushing me to my limit, encouraging me to do one more, and just knowing there’s someone else that wants the same things as me.  Some things I’d rather do alone in a way, because I’m embarrassed to admit I can do so few push ups or planks, but I think we grow more when we have someone working with us.

Often when we fall into bad habits it is because we are alone.  We get discouraged and think we can’t keep up with someone else, or we run up on an obstacle that we think is too big to overcome.  We forget that we need people to help us overcome obstacles sometimes and we need to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us to keep up.

Last summer, my husband and I had started mountain biking together and I ended up getting discouraged.  It was something he wanted us to do together and at first I really enjoyed it.  The only problem was that I had a terrible seat and I didn’t realize that you aren’t supposed to sit while going through all those bumps.  I ended up with a bruised tailbone and really didn’t even want to go again.  Eventually, after the pain went away, I got a better seat and tried again.  There was a group of guys that were all going the day we went and I felt very intimidated.  I didn’t want to ride with a bunch of guys, because I knew they were all more experienced than I was and they would be faster.  I also knew at least a few of them, including my husband, would feel like they had to stop and wait for me to catch up.  My perfectionist attitude has kept me from enjoying a lot of things in life.  If I can’t do it as well as everyone else, regardless of their level of experience I believe I have two options: work harder than anyone else to achieve more faster or quit.  That day I chose to quit.

One thing I have learned since that day on the bike course is that I need people in my life.  Sometimes I need them to wait for me to catch up so I’m not alone, sometimes I need to wait for someone else to catch up so they are not alone.  Most of my life I have believed I had to do everything myself and do it better than anyone else.  Today I believe that I just need to do my best, whatever that is and accept that the experience will come.  I also believe that I need to learn to enjoy what I’m doing instead of turning it into a competition, or making it seem like other people are annoyed with my lack of progress.

My husband wasn’t frustrated by me being slower than him, he was just happy to be out there.  The other guys that stopped and waited were not frustrate either, they were happy to be an encouragement to a new rider.  It was my perspective on how I thought I should be doing that kept me from enjoying the moment.

We all need someone to be an encouragement to us and we all need to be an encouragement to someone else.  We all have different gifts and we are all at different places on our journey.  Let’s all accept each other where we are and give a helping hand when we’re the one’s that are a little higher on the climb.

Today’s Tip: Accepting facts

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Have you ever had someone tell you something that you didn’t like?  I think it happens to all of us at one time or another.  When we were kids we probably heard stuff we didn’t like all the time: you can’t eat candy or ice cream for dinner, go outside and play, stop hitting your brother/sister, slow down, speed up, there are just too many to remember.  The kind of things I’m talking about are a little different.  The kind of things some people don’t like to hear as adults are: you can’t move up in that company, you aren’t skinny enough, you aren’t pretty enough, you don’t make enough money, you don’t have a nice enough house, car, etc.  Those are just a few.

The things I talked about in the previous paragraph are things we don’t like to hear, but most of them are not facts.  You actually COULD eat candy or ice cream for dinner, you really don’t HAVE TO go outside and play, you could keep hitting someone if you really want to and lets face it, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  There are some facts that people do need to accept though.  If you DO eat candy or ice cream for dinner, chances are you’re going to be sick.  If you don’t go outside to play, maybe there won’t be terrible consequences for that, but if you do keep hitting someone, you will end up on the receiving end sooner or later.

The truth, or facts if you will, is that we CAN do whatever we want.  The fact is, there will be consequences for whatever we do, good or bad.  Most of us are in the midst of consequences in some form or another right now.  If we went out and charged up credit cards to buy Christmas presents we are in the “after” phase now.  It was so exciting running around buying gifts we knew everyone would just love, now the truth comes to light, we will be paying on those cards possibly for the whole next year to pay them back.  That’s not such a good feeling.

We also might be experiencing the consequences of overindulging during Christmas, and God help us, New Year’s is coming up!  You’re probably thinking, “As soon as that New Year’s Eve party is over I’m going on a diet!”  The problem is that a significant number of New Year’s resolutions never become a reality.

When I was a kid, I remember a saying, “Garbage in, Garbage out”.  I’m sure that saying was referring to what we were putting in our minds, and I agree that is true.  The fact is, that if you are constantly putting garbage into your body, the results are not going to be pretty.  Some of the consequences of not eating properly and exercising are high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, high cholesterol, obesity, low energy, acne, and the list goes on.  The fact is that you are able to be in control of all these things if you want to be.  You can take back what is yours, your health care.

We have put way too much of our responsibilities as humans in the hands of someone else.  We should be taking care of our own selves, not expecting a doctor to put us back together when we have been careless and even intentionally harming our bodies.  Some people really don’t know how to care for themselves, they’ve never been taught. Other people know and make poor choices anyway.  There are some chronic illnesses that can be turned around by changing our habits from bad habits to good habits.  The fact is, some of us need to learn better ways.

So as you consider your New Year’s resolutions this year, think about this.  How about a New Life Resolution instead?  How about joining the Healthy Living Revolution?  I’ve already joined, so if you’re looking, that’s where you’ll find me.

Today’s Tip: Don’t wait

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So it’s the day after Christmas and many people are on vacation.  We all probably ate more yesterday than we normally do, and may not be finished yet.  Most people think of January first as being the day of new beginnings, turning over a new leaf, or making new year’s resolutions.  I would say, don’t wait until January first to make a commitment to your own health.  Sometimes there are commitments that we have to renew every day; taking care of ourselves is one of those commitments.

Why tell yourself you’re just going to wait until January first to start working on that goal; losing weight, exercising more, drinking more water, or just trying to think more positive?  It doesn’t have to be drastic, but start today.  Even if you’ve still got holiday meals to go to you can watch what you eat.  Choose the lighter menu items, or just eat less of the ones that are not as good for you.  I love  a good Prime Rib, but I don’t eat them often.  When I do, I enjoy every bit of it and try to eat vegetables or a good salad with it.  Even if you have some parties to still attend, like New Year’s Eve, you can drink more water.  A good way to stay hydrated, if you’re going to be drinking alcohol, is to drink a glass of water after each alcoholic drink.  Even if it’s cold outside and you really don’t feel like doing anything other than wrapping up with a blanket and a good book, you can do isometrics.  This is just tensing your muscles (making a muscle) several times with each muscle group.  If you do ten reps of each muscle group, you will be surprised how much you feel it.

It really does just take one simple change to make bigger changes.  Don’t wait to get started, there are small ways to start today and by January first you’ll be ahead of the game!

Today’s Tip: You have to go deep.

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Ok, I’m just going to do it.  I argued with myself for several days about writing this post, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to do it.



People don’t want to go deep anymore.  Maybe they never did.  I was born in NY and moved to Virginia around 13 years ago and I got a rude awakening.  People in the south are different, not better, not worse, but different.  My first husband used to joke around about people in the north being the “frozen chosen”.  Being from the south he was used to people being very vocal and physically expressive, especially in church, and the churches that we attended in NY were not.  That is not to say there weren’t churches like that in NY, because there were, we just didn’t go there.  One thing I have perceived in the South is that people are very sweet, at least on the surface.  That’s a word I see strewn about Facebook and other places daily.  You hardly see a post that doesn’t involve “my sweet friend”, “my sweet sister”, “my sweet _______ “(you fill in the blank).  I’m not trying to be critical, I’m just making an observation.  The thing about many people in the north is that you will probably not refer to them as “sweet” at least not at first.  We tend to be a little cooler on the surface, you have to go deep to find the sweet.  On the other hand, people in the south are very sweet on the surface.  You will see this when you go to a restaurant and the waitress calls you “sweetie” or “honey”.  It’s not because she likes you or wants to be your friend, it’s just a habit, probably something she’s heard since she was a child.

When it comes to changing our lifestyles to facilitate real. lasting change it has to be deeper than just using words that sound sweet and helpful.   This is not a surface change that can take place overnight.  For the most part there is not a pill or a shot or a shake that is going to change your life, you have to do that yourself.  I will not tell you it’s easy, because it definitely isn’t, but it IS simple.  Even if there was a pill, or a shot, or a shake that would help you lose weight, what happens after you reach your goal?

I quit dieting when my oldest son was three years old and I still hadn’t lost all the weight from my pregnancy.  I had anorexia that started back in high school and when I got pregnant I guess I thought I could let loose and just eat what I wanted for a change.  Well, I did and gained about 45 pounds in the process.  After dieting; going fat free, low calorie, low sugar and pretty much just deprived myself in general and I still didn’t lose all the weight, I read a book that changed my life.  This book taught me that I had to do something that was sustainable, it couldn’t just be something to “lose twenty pounds”, because a diet is only a short term answer to a long term problem.  I began being more mindful of what I ate, but in a different way.  I ate the things I wanted, I just didn’t over indulge in them.  Granted, back then I thought all fats were bad and I still abstained from most unless I was celebrating or just didn’t care.  I have learned much more since then about what is good and what is bad, because I’ve learned to go deep.

I always believed that being skinny was the answer.  If I could just maintain a certain weight, I would be fine.  In the last several years I have learned that being skinny does not equal being healthy, and being a little heavier does not necessarily mean being unhealthy.  My focus has shifted from being skinny to being healthy and this takes more than just a skimming over the surface.

I hear people all the time talk about trusting God to heal you, and speaking positive things into existence.  I completely believe that our words definitely affect our lives, but I know now that we speak what we believe, not the other way around.  I do believe God can and does heal people every day, but I also believe that we have a responsibility to be good stewards or caretakers of the health that God gives us.  I suppose it’s possible to eat McDonald’s and Twinkies every day and trust God to protect you from the toxins that are building up in your body, but I’m not going to push my luck so to speak.  I believe that there are consequences to every action…good or bad.  If you constantly treat your body like a garbage can, you will end up feeling like garbage.  If you treat your body like the beautiful self-healing creation that it is, you will feel wonderful.  I know this because I have experienced it.  When I eat food that I think I want, that is not good for me, my body tells me about it.  This did not happen over night.  It takes time, it takes going deeper, because you really want to be healthy all the way not just have a sexy body on the outside.  You CAN have both if that’s what you really want, and it’s simple, just not easy.

*I heard a story once about a man who was trapped in a flood.  At first the water just came up to the first floor of his house and he prayed that God would save him from the flood.  A man came by in a small rowboat and offered to pick him up.  “No thank you, I’ve prayed and God is going to save me” was his response.  A little while later the water was up to the second floor of his house and he was looking out one of the windows.  A man came by in a fishing boat and offered to pick him up.  “No thank you, I’ve prayed and God is going to save me” was his response again.  A while later the water was up to the roof and the man was standing on the peak of his roof trying to stay dry when a man in a large yaght came by and offered to pick the man up.  His response was the same as the two previous times.  Shaking his head, the man in the yaght continued on picking up other people who were stranded.  Later that night, when the man realized he was in heaven, he looked at God and said, “Why didn’t you save me?”  God responded, “I sent you a man in a rowboat and you refused, I sent you a man in a fishing boat and you refused again, finally I sent you a large yaght and you still refused.  Three times I tried to save you and you chose not to be saved”.
The reason I share this is sometimes I think God shows answers to our prayers and because they are not miraculous enough or fancy enough, we turn them away.  Sometimes we just need to listen when he’s trying to save us.


Today’s Tip: Your Internal Pharmacy

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Did you know you have a pharmacy inside of your own body?  And did you know that your body can produce medicine in the exact dose, for the exact illness, at the exact time that you need it, and it’s open 24 hours a day with no waiting?  Well, that’s the way our bodies were designed to work at least.  Unfortunately, we have ignored our bodies trying to speak to us for so long that most of our internal pharmacies are closed.  How does this work?  The lining of healthy blood vessels is like a smooth highway over which the traffic of the blood passes.  This lining contains metabolically active cells that function like microscopic medicine bottles, releasing hormones and other substances to help maintain the blood vessels’ health.  The hormones act like chemical messengers, telling the arteries and other organs and tissues to behave in a healthful way.  Your internal pharmacy (the endothelium) dispenses dozens of medicines that regulate blood flow and blood pressure, blood clotting, cholesterol, inflammation and growth and repair of blood vessels.  Dr. Lou Ignarro shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998 for his discovery of how healthy endothelium releases nitric oxide  (NO) in just the right amount to regulate blood flow to tissues.  The release of NO by the endothelium may be the body’s own healthy-aging system.  So, how can you tap into your own personal pharmacy?  Two habits influence whether these internal medicine bottles open and dispense the right medicine at the right dose at the right time: how you eat and how you move.  By eating a predominantly whole food diet and eliminating processed foods, excess sugary foods and junk food in general, you can reduce the amount of “sticky stuff” as Dr. Sears likes to refer to it, from your bloodstream.  This keeps the plaque from building up in the first place.  When you exercise, blood flows fast across the surface endothelium and causes what is known as a shear force (frictional force).  The cells lining the endothelium sense this extra blood flow and squirt out extra NO which dilates the arteries, optimizes blood pressure and delivers more blood flow and nutrients to the organs downstream.   All it takes is taking one step at a time.  You can change your habits to include eating more whole foods and less junk food, and start exercising.  Start where you are and take one step forward to a healthier you!

Today’s Tip: Blood Sugar and Willpower

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Did you know that keeping your blood sugar stable and willpower go hand in hand?  I didn’t know this either, but it’s true.  When you have a drop in blood sugar, your body will demand that you bring it back up one way or the other.  Often when you get a craving for sweets it is because your blood sugar is low and needs a boost.  Unfortunately when we give in and eat the sweets, then our blood sugar raises dramatically, instead of slowly like it should and our bodies have to work harder to bring it back down.  Ideally, keeping our blood sugar balanced is the key to keeping our weight on track, staying healthy and preventing disease.  Dr. Sears says, “High blood sugar makes you fat.”  Because your body doesn’t want to waste food, if you eat more carbs than it can burn or store in the liver, insulin sends the excess into the fat cells to be stored as extra fat.  Insulin stores fat by increasing the fat-storing enzyme lipoprotein lipase in the fat tissues, and it impairs the ability of the muscles to burn fat-a double whammy.  The good news is that when healthy blood sugar levels are maintained, belly fat is often the first to go.  Insulin regulates the hormones that tell you if you’re hungry or not.  When blood sugar levels are just right, insulin alerts the brain to release the hormones that telly you you’ve eaten enough.  When blood sugar levels are not optimal, the brain gets inaccurate signals that suggest you’re hungry and should eat, when in reality your body doesn’t need to.  Persistently high levels of blood sugar make you need more carbs to satisfy hunger.  So, the answer is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day by grazing.  Grazing is eating small healthy meals/snacks throughout the day, rather than eating three big meals a day.  Who knew that just keeping our blood sugar stable would give us willpower to keep from overeating?  Our bodies really do know the best way to do things, we just need to learn to listen to them.

Moving my Tower Garden Inside

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I love my tower garden!  I grew tomatoes, peppers and basil.  It was so awesome being able to walk out to my tower garden and grab a tomato and some basil for dinner.   I have just set up my own tower garden inside and at the bottom of this post you can see the animation of the process.  I’m growing mostly lettuce, spring mix and arugula, but I also planted one tomato plant and one eggplant, just to see how they do indoors.  You can of course grow your own seedlings from seeds, but there are also greenhouses that produce specifically for the tower gardens.

This is my tower garden when it was nearly taking over the yard, because I didn’t prune my tomato plants!


I got to meet Tim Blank at our semi-annual conference in St. Louis in October.  He invented the tower garden.


I absolutely recommend a tower garden if you live somewhere that doesn’t have a yard big enough for growing your own food, if you can’t get down and plant or weed or prepare the ground for vegetables, or if you just want fresh fruit and vegetables year round.  The initial investment may seem like a lot, but when you think of what you get for that investment, I think you’ll agree that it’s totally worth it!

Below is a picture of my tower garden all set up in my office.  It really didn’t take long and it was pretty simple.  The first thing I did was fill the base with water and added the minerals.  Next I put everything together and put the plants in.  Last I checked the pH to make sure it was between 5.5 and 6.0.  As you can see by the first picture, the pH started out at 4.5, so I added some pH+ to bring it up.  It took several small amounts over the next couple of days to get the pH to 5.5 which is where I like to try to keep it.  This is probably the most tedious part about the whole thing, making sure the pH is right.  So now, I have a beautiful tower garden in my office and it’s like having a fountain in there too, very soothing.


Please visit my website m-t4.towergarden.com to find out more information about the tower garden.  Also please feel free to comment and I will answer any questions you may have.