Weight Whys

Weight Whys
Exploring Your Thoughts and Beliefs to Create a Healthy Life

Cheri Calcagno, M.S.

iUniverse, Inc.
New York Lincoln Shanghai

Weight Whys
Exploring Your Thoughts and Beliefs to Create a Healthy Life
Copyright © 2005 by Cheri R. Calcagno All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. iUniverse books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting: iUniverse 2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100 Lincoln, NE 68512 www.iuniverse.com 1-800-Authors (1-800-288-4677) This publication contains the opinions and ideas of its author. It is intended to provide helpful and informative material on the subjects addressed in the publication. It is sold with the understanding that the author and publisher are not engaged in rendering medical, health, or any other kind of professional services in the book. The reader should consult his or her medical, health, or other competent professional before adopting any of the suggestions in this book or drawing inferences from it. The author and publisher specifically disclaim all responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this book. ISBN-13: 978-0-595-37337-6 (pbk) ISBN-13: 978-0-595-81735-1 (ebk) ISBN-10: 0-595-37337-2 (pbk) ISBN-10: 0-595-81735-1 (ebk) Printed in the United States of America

To my husband, my children, and my God. All of who love me in spite of my flaws.


Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .ix About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xi Introduction—Your Invitation to a Better Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii

Part I

It’s More About Your Health than Your Weight
Hope for Your Journey to a Healthy Weight . . . . . . . . . 3 The Psychology of Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 What the World Tells Us about Our Weight . . . . . . . . 24 Creating Balance to Spend Your Time with Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Part II

Skills for the Road
How Metabolism Really Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Nutrition for Normal People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 The Miraculous Power of Exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Keeping Yourself Heart-Healthy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Setting Yourself Up for Success. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Using Your Emotions Effectively . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

Understanding the Physical. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

Managing the Emotional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95


Weight Whys


Dynamics of Your Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .112 Managing Stress. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120 Positive Thinking Cultivates Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . .129 You Have To Believe You Can Do It . . . . . . . . . . . . .139 Appreciating Your Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .145 Meeting Your Emotional and Spiritual Needs. . . . . . .151 How Your Weight Affects Your Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . .157

Nurturing the Spiritual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .137

Part III

Embracing the Journey
Living for More than Yourself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .165 Self-Control Impacts Every Area of Life . . . . . . . . . . .170 Maturing Into Your Full Potential. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .174 Basic Health Assessments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .179 Reputable Health Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .183 Calorie-smart Food & Drink Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . .185 How to Read a Food Label . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .189 How Many Calories Does Your Body Need? . . . . . . .191 Developing an Exercise Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .193 Evaluating Your Risk for Heart Disease . . . . . . . . . . .195 Recommended Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .199

Author’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .203


My heartfelt thanks to all who have supported me through my writing and my career—each of who has touched my life and for that I am so grateful. Thanks to those who peer-reviewed the original manuscript, for their honest opinion and taking the time: Patti Glick, RN “The Foot Nurse”; Sonja Glassmeyer, EdD; Jim Mobley, Jr., RCP, CRT; Jordan Shields; Wes Alles, PhD; Ken Grace, MS; Shari Wallick, RD, MS; Christine Rollins, MA; Yvonne & Brad Wilson; Carol Otis; Janet Dalke, RN, MPA; Joe Nappi for his editing expertise; my colleagues and dear friends at the original North Bay Health Partners: Kristine Baldwin for her sharp mind and honest opinion; Yvette Pavels, Marsha Collins, Alan Feren, MD, Patti Mesquite, Marianne Hutton, RD, CDE, Patrick Glover, and especially to Debbie Ward, MS, RN, CPC, who coached me through the writing of this book, for her warm, beautiful spirit; Penny Warner, my writing mentor, for her inspiration and helpful nature; my Writer’s Group: Staci McLaughlin, Nat Tilander, Lillian Smith, Sonda Perrings, Tami Sebastian, Shannon Brown, and Sue Ann Grann—I can’t wait to read their books some day!; Pastor Gary for preaching the Word with a passion for God and a love for people; Thanks to my like-minded friends with a heart for health promotion: Carrie Archer, Carol Montgomery, and Laura Kohn; To Shar Adams who encouraged me along the way; Elizabeth “Lizzy” Manos for the rare gift of true friendship; My favorite professor, Dorie Krepton, for believing in her students and her nurturing spirit; All the Mothers of Preschools (MOPS) women at Valley Bible Church in Pleasanton for their enthusiasm, prayers, and for helping me be a better mom, especially: Sharon Turk, Michelle Kiriakos, and Lacy Rose; Lisa Koitka, my dear friend in Germany who I think of every Friday at lunchtime; My family: Mom for her sensitivity and loving nature, Dad for his dependable work ethic and for keeping our family together as we were growing up; my brother, Richie, for always being proud of his little sister; my sister-in-love, Anna, for being my most


Weight Whys

enthusiastic supporter and my favorite cheerleader, a special thanks to them for watching the kids while I wrote—I couldn’t have finished without their support; Grandma Robbins for making me wear tennis shoes at the beach and always seeing the best in me; Grandma & Grandpa Vierra for their love and kindness; my mother-in-love, Sharon, for her giving nature, friendship, and for treating me like her very own daughter; my father-in-love, Dave, for being a Godly example of what a man, husband, and father should be; my sisters and brothers-in-love, David and Sherry, and Doug and Alecia for being supportive of my work; Ricky and Helen Calcagno for staying close even though there’s a distance; Thanks to the old friends I love who helped shape who I am today: Joanna Santos for being like a sister to me growing up, Kim Lynch, Agapi Kouropoulous, Elizabeth Guernsey, Susan Leffel, Carolyn Gerrels, Deanna Rubio, Brian & Cindy Goodell, Adrian & Terry Martinez, Melissa Kanoho, Suzanne Kato, Lynn Lopes, Catherine Lazaro, Scott & Ronnica Nady, Bev O’Brien-Stewart, Kristle Rittenbach, Jenny Tortorelli, Brandy Chatelain, and Carol Wooleson. Thanks to the big leaguers who motivate me: Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Zig Ziglar, Dr. Phil, John Maxwell, Dr. Laura, Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. Kevin Leman, Max Lucado, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, Dr. Wayne Cordeiro, Dr. Jack Hayford, and Greg Dickow. A special thanks to my best friend and husband, Danny, for being a supporter of my dreams, a shoulder to cry on, and always telling me I could do it at times when I couldn’t see the end. Thanks to my kids: for giving me unsolicited kisses, asking me to play when they can sense that I need to, telling me to retire when I finish this book, and for reminding me that relationships are what life is all about. And lastly, an eternal thank you to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for touching my heart and making me whole.

About the Author

Clinical wellness coach Cheri Calcagno, M.S. has worked with thousands to achieve a healthy weight through adult and child weight management programs, wellness coaching in a medical setting, coordinating corporate wellness programs, and exercise therapy with older individuals. She has taught hundreds of hospital and corporate classes on weight management and other health topics. Cheri has written articles published in newsletters and magazines, including a regular Health & Fitness section featured in Southern California Tennis & Golf Magazine. Cheri has received a Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology and Bachelor of Science in Exercise, Nutrition, and Wellness. She is a Certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant, Personal Trainer, PilatesBased Mat Science and Prenatal Exercise Instructor, college health instructor, and member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and American Council on Exercise (ACE). Cheri resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and is the owner of Inspiring Health, through which she offers individual and group Wellness Coaching as well as classes, keynotes, and workshops. As a Professional Speaker, Cheri has designed and presented programs to hospitals, Fortune 500 companies, colleges, industry conferences, and professional associations. Some of her clients include Kaiser Permanente, Sun Microsystems, PeopleSoft, Maxtor, Quantum Corporation, Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), Faith Fellowship Foursquare Church (First Place Weight Management Program), Marin General Hospital, Novato Community Hospital, Sutter Health, and the Association of Worksite Health Promotion.



Weight Whys

Cheri’s dynamic no-nonsense approach leaves her audience thinking, ready for action, and inspired to expect no less than the best from themselves. Her programs educate participants on how to achieve their best weight and empower them to develop the thoughts and beliefs to make it happen in real life! Contact her to speak to your organization, corporation, or college, or for individual and group coaching information. Visit her website at www.inspiringhealth.com and create your best life…starting today! Inspiring Health PO Box 2487 San Ramon, CA 94583 cheri@inspiringhealth.com 925.548.4180

Introduction—Your Invitation to a Better Life

It is possible for you to have a better, healthier life. I got into the wellness profession because I wanted to help people. When I began taking health classes in college, I was fascinated how much of an impact nutrition and exercise could have on our quality of life. Learning how the human body worked was intriguing. I quickly discovered a passion inside me to motivate others to want to care for their health and achieve their personal best. Over the years while teaching Weight Management classes for hospitals and corporations, my interest moved from that of the physical to include more of the mind. I began to realize that people can know what they need to do to be healthy, but doing it is an entirely different ball game. If people are in bondage with bad habits, educating them may result in them being a little smarter, but not necessarily healthier. As I got more involved with coaching people individually, I learned there were many dimensions to a person’s health behaviors. Forming relationships with clients who trusted me enough to share the intimate details of their lives helped me understand how marvelously complex creating change can be. We have so many needs and layers to our being. I found that to have the most impact, I had to work with the person as a whole and help them explore each part—body, mind, and spirit. Within the spirit lies the way you feel about your life and whether you love, or even like yourself. To truly improve life and become better means developing each of your parts and appreciating that they come together to make you the beautiful person you are. Each day I talk with people who are hurting—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Seeing the needs of others over the years inspired me to write this book. I hope to shed light on the ‘whys’ of your choices and empower you with the insights you need to make changes. It’s my sincere desire that you will get


Weight Whys

healthy, like yourself better, and become your personal best as a result of our coaching together through this book. You will come to realize the road to health can be full of more treasures than you ever imagined.

It’s More About Your Health than Your Weight

Hope for Your Journey to a Healthy Weight

Most people don’t give much thought about their health until it’s failing. Daily weight management is a huge component to caring for your health. Our weight affects our cardiovascular function, joint health, functional capacity, including the ability to get around and get the most out of life. Intense self-discovery—exploring how to get in there and do the work it takes to lose weight—is the foundation of this program. Like anything really worth having, the journey of weight management takes perseverance. It takes going when you don’t feel like going anymore. You can achieve your personal best when it comes to health. My goal is to help you translate this formula for success into every area of your life. Being your personal best and achieving a healthy weight involves choices. As you read this book, people are dying prematurely because they aren’t being proactive in managing their weight. I know we all have our reasons for not making it a priority, but it breaks my heart to think how many people could be living full, healthy lives if they would take better care of themselves. In my opinion, many people with health problems would not be ill, and would not be dying at this phenomenal rate, if they would simply learn how to make better choices.

People Are Struggling
Now, more than ever, people are struggling with their weight. It affects people of all ages. Children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, high blood


Weight Whys

pressure, and high cholesterol, much of which is related to their weight and behavior. The overweight epidemic is complex because so many variables contribute to the state of our society. Although we may tell ourselves that some things are not within our control, genetics or our busy schedules for example, what we have allowed ourselves to believe may not be the complete truth. We must choose to take back control and act on those things that are within our control. Our diet and what we do for physical activity are two areas that we can certainly be accountable for. There is no question that people are consuming more calories than ever before. Fast food and convenience foods are everywhere and can contain up to a whole day’s worth of calories in a single meal. I am not exaggerating! People move less than ever because of technological jobs and the continuing advances in computerization. What once used to require movement no longer does. We don’t have to leave our chair to change the channel on the television, which the average adult watches at least three hours a day. Little tasks like this add up and make a difference. We live in an age where being healthy has to be a conscious priority, or it is not going to happen.

The Weight Loss Industry
Deceptive marketing is another challenge that works against the efforts of weight management. Marketers don’t usually talk about weight “management” when selling their latest gimmick. It’s typically about how much weight you can lose in the shortest amount of time by using their product. You can’t turn on the T.V. or stand in the grocery store line without someone trying to sell you a better body in a bottle or the latest herb that is the scientific breakthrough everyone’s been waiting for. “For the low cost of $149 a month, you too can lose weight while eating whatever you want and not lifting a finger to exercise.” “Breathe your way to a thinner body. Science has discovered it’s all in the way you breathe now. If you can learn this technique to help you utilize your oxygen better, you will burn more fat.” We’ve seen it all. And guess what—I don’t see people getting thinner. But they are spending a lot of money and energy trying.

Do It Right This Time
With every unsuccessful attempt, they feel more like failures. What people don’t realize is that they are being sold a bill of goods; often, it’s the program that’s failing them, not their efforts. When you’re overweight, especially if

Hope for Your Journey to a Healthy Weight


you’ve been struggling for years to get it off and keep it off, I understand the desperate wanting for the latest so-called “scientific breakthrough” to be true. I understand the willingness to spend any amount of money on the pill that could make it all go away forever. The reality is that real weight management requires putting in the work and effort it takes to become healthy. I can help you discover what your individual challenges are on your road to a healthy weight, give you the tools you need to take action, and inspire you to enjoy the journey.

A Nation in Trouble
No one can deny that health in America is on the decline and it is not getting better. Childhood obesity rates are the highest they’ve ever been and many adults are starting to take medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes in their twenties and thirties. Something has got to change. What I see in my practice of Wellness Coaching is that people are often unaware of how their lifestyle choices affect how their body is functioning. I have worked with many who have started walking programs, changed their diet, sought professional help for emotional problems (if necessary), and made other choices that drastically changed their lives for the better. What an awesome accomplishment it is when you are able to get off your blood pressure or cholesterol medication by starting a walking program that is doable in your life. Even if you can only lower the dosage of your medication by making lifestyle changes, this can drastically improve the quality of your life. Usually the lower the dosage, the fewer side effects. And that’s a good thing. Sixty percent of our population is overweight—at least that’s the latest figure. The reason this statistic is so scary is the negative repercussions it has on our health. No matter what our culture says about size, being overweight has cost our society a lot of money (look at the cost of healthcare). More importantly, being overweight has cost many people their lives.

It’s Not Always Good to Be Normal
In our society, being overweight is becoming more and more normal. Even though the media tells us we should be thin and that’s how most people want to look, we are coming to the point where being overweight is so common that we can almost always find someone bigger to compare ourselves to. We can look at the person next to us and say “See, my tummy isn’t so bad.”


Weight Whys

I have coached many people who thought their “pot belly” was not that serious a health issue. As long as they have a muscular upper body and normal sized legs, they try and tell themselves they are not overweight. My job as a Wellness Coach is to make sure they are aware that the thirty extra pounds of fat around their stomach is a serious health problem. Just because it is in their midsection and they see hundreds of people with that same shaped body, doesn’t mean it’s less of a problem. In fact, this type of body shape is at the highest risk for heart disease because the fat is more internal and surrounds the heart muscle. People who carry their weight in their hips have been shown to have a lesser risk of a cardiac event. Keep in mind there are serious health issues that can plague anyone who’s overweight, no matter where your fat is distributed.

Your Body Doesn’t Like Being Overweight
Contrary to popular belief, being overweight is not the body’s “normal” state. The reason I know being overweight is not the body’s preferred condition is because it causes our body’s systems to function improperly. Our hearts beat faster and work harder when we carry extra weight. In addition, pressure is caused by the internal fat tissue surrounding the heart. Our joints are under stress and have more problems on too large a frame. I know for many people, being overweight is a concern because of the way they look and how they perceive others look at them. We will talk about this later in the book. But, I want to be up front in telling you where I am coming from with my approach to weight management. I truly believe that everyone, no matter what size you are, should feel comfortable in their own skin and like themselves. My main concern with being overweight is that, clinically, it causes negative stress on your body and, I dare say, is preventing you from living life to your full potential. Expectations of ourselves can be the difference between living an ordinary life and living an extraordinary life. The standards and beliefs we have for our lives shape the decisions we make everyday. When you think about it, life is about the choices we make day after day that shape what we are. When you break it down, it almost sounds too simple. If we make better health choices, we will be better able to manage our weight. That’s the secret formula. That’s the magic.

Hope for Your Journey to a Healthy Weight


Getting Better Each Day
To manage your weight you must be aware of what factors contribute to your individual decision making process and then, learn how to change what is not working. It’s about making progress and becoming better than you were the day before. Having worked with many people in an effort to change their behavior, I have learned that the reasons for our actions are sometimes complicated. Still, we are all capable of changing and improving whenever we commit ourselves whole-heartedly to the task. I’m not saying this is true for everyone who is overweight. But, I find when coaching someone that their body is holding them back from being their best. There can be different degrees of this. For example, you are not able to stand as long as you’d like without feeling tired or you get short of breath easily while talking to people. Maybe you find it difficult to have a conversation with someone and walk at the same time. Does being overweight hold you back from achieving your goals or dreams? Do you tell yourself you could not stand in front of a group to give a speech or share your opinion? Do you assume no one values your opinion because of your weight and your appearance? It’s been an experience over the years to work with people who have lost weight and along the journey, have increased their confidence as well. I remember a woman in one of my groups who grew from being too self-conscious to sing in the choir, to being a soloist in front of a congregation of over a thousand. Another gentleman who had completed law school two years earlier found the courage to take his BAR Exam and developed the confidence to start his practice.

You Are Worth It
The limitations we place on ourselves often influence our journey with managing weight. The goals and visions we have can sometimes be hidden beneath our “weight problem.” We distract ourselves from achieving our best by wasting time with diet after diet, telling ourselves that if we could get skinny, we will finally focus our efforts on fulfilling our life’s purpose. I truly believe that the state of a person’s health has a connection with how they feel about themselves. When life is not working out as planned, when you are not hopeful about the future and living with purpose, how can you be motivated to wake up early for breakfast? Are you worthy of that? Why go that extra mile when you aren’t impressed with life anyway? Wait until you


Weight Whys

feel hungry and fuel yourself with doughnuts and coffee. That will get you going. You must have a sense of how valuable and special your life is. As a result, you will be motivated to properly care for your wellness. Some of you will need to do more self-exploration than others in this area. One thing I know is that I see self-worth as a core issue more often than you might think. For those of you who are totally secure and understand how precious life is, it may simply be a matter of starting to make decisions that line up with your value system. You need to know, without a doubt, that you are a valuable person and your time on earth should be lived to its full potential. The only way to achieve your best is to live in the most optimal health that you possibly can. Exploring yourself is essential in learning how to change your behavior. Accepting yourself as you are working toward creating the life you want is part of enjoying the journey. These are two key ingredients of any weight management program you should keep in mind if you want to succeed at achieving a life-long healthy weight. You see, losing weight is not difficult. In fact, all you have to do is stop eating. I guarantee you there are no underfed people who are overweight. However, if you want to lose weight with the specific intent of keeping it off and enjoying good health, you need a program that is individualized to your unique life and circumstances. I have not found that regimented daily eating plans or exercise formulas work very well with people for the long-term. Some believe they will use these formulas as a temporary plan while they take the weight off. I have not found them to be successful at transitioning to the life they knew before without putting the weight on again.

Creating Change
My formula for weight management success is to arm you with accurate facts about nutrition and exercise and then teach you the guidelines to help you change your behavior. You are the only one who can successfully identify the habits that are getting you into trouble. You are the only one who can do the work necessary to change your life for the better. I will guide you through, help you see what may be holding you back, and bring you out victorious. Not just in terms of your weight, but living at your personal optimum health.

Hope for Your Journey to a Healthy Weight


Change is Difficult
Changing any habit is a challenge. The security you find in habits is comforting even those habits you desperately wish weren’t part of yourself. When you set out to create change, you must realize you are going to be uncomfortable at times and that it may not be fun. This is where commitment comes in. When you have decided with your mind and heart that you are going to change for the better, you need to do it with the passion, vision, and determination. You owe it to yourself. It is possible and you can do it. What separates those who are successful from those who are not, is their determination to persevere, even when they don’t “feel” like it. They are committed to keeping their word whether it has been given to someone else or only to themselves.

Thrive, Don’t Merely Survive
You are meant to live in victory, not merely survive. This feeling of “just surviving” is a warning signal that you need to reach out for the help to get back on top. Such is the case regarding your weight. Being challenged with a weight problem is a sign that you are not doing what is necessary to keep your health a balanced priority. True, there are people who are not regularly physically active, who do not eat properly, but do not have a weight problem. Because of their genetics, their bodies show no evidence of the abuse they are causing their bodies on the inside. Understand that even though they look normal in size, these people are at risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and increased risk for premature heart attack and stroke. They just don’t have the burden of being overweight as those whose genetics predetermine them to be overweight. What people don’t realize is that being “fit” puts you in a much higher state of health than simply being “skinny” does. Research has shown that even if you are not active enough or getting the proper nutrition to achieve your ideal weight, regular exercise and good eating habits still dramatically decrease your risk for every type of disease and condition.

Journaling is Worth the Investment
The writing I ask you to do at the end of each chapter is a huge part of the self-discovery work needed to be successful in our work together. Most people know they should eat fruits and vegetables, be physically active, manage stress, and all that good stuff. But, they are at a loss when it comes to how to do it in


Weight Whys

real life. That’s what this is all about. How to learn what is in your best interest in the big picture. Break it down into steps that are doable. Along the journey, there is some personal work that should be done, which can only be done with some investment on your part. Even if you have never done journaling or any writing of that sort, I hope you are open to the idea that doing it during our coaching together could be the difference this time. Revelations can be made painlessly if you go about your writing in an honest and non-judgmental way. I pose some questions at the end of each chapter that I would like you to consider and write about. You can write any way you wish. Buy a notebook and special pen or write your answers on a plain piece of paper. Keep it forever or throw it away. You may be wary of someone reading your answers and need to go that extra step for privacy. You may choose to share your answers with a partner or form a book study group. Do whatever is necessary to make this process comfortable for you. The ideal is if you write your answer without judging it or thinking about it. After your entry is done, read it over to see what there is to be seen. This will help you learn what your next step should be along the journey. Part of my intent with the writing is to reveal some of your core beliefs that may be affecting your weight and health. The actions you take are what produce your outcomes. And your actions are the outward expression of what your thoughts and beliefs are. What I have learned is that to change your lifestyle and improve your health, you need to examine your heart and mind to put them into agreement with what you want your actions to be. Often, I have worked with people who say they want to lose weight, but in their hearts and minds, they don’t think they can do it. Or they may not be willing to make life valuable enough in their minds to do what it takes to truly preserve it.

Core Beliefs Drive Our Behaviors
I find many patterns in common with those I coach, but there will be different core beliefs in each of you. Our work together will involve learning more about you to see what beliefs may be hindering you from discovering your personal best with your health. You’ll learn how to mold those beliefs and make them more suitable to create the desired results. At the beginning of this program I suggest that you do some health assessments for a baseline of your health status. Weighing yourself (which you should do every two to four weeks), taking measurements, having your body fat percentage assessed (if possible), and the other assessments listed in

Hope for Your Journey to a Healthy Weight


Appendix A will indicate your status and allow us to track your progress over time.

Being Accountable
Because you are unique, you may respond differently to various methods of accountability. Some like to meet with another person (like a coach or health professional). Others thrive in a weekly group environment where they can share or listen to ideas. Other options are mixing the two or working on your own. Experiment with what works for you. I have found it is highly individual what benefits most people. However, some measure of accountability is necessary even if it’s being accountable to yourself, writing down your goals, and discovering whether or not you follow through. Having a trusted friend to update and report to can help you keep accountable. It may take experimentation to find what does and doesn’t work for you. Keep trying and tweaking until you find the steps to take at each given point in your journey. If you continue to find that nothing is working, it may be that you need to make a stronger commitment and stick with it. Together we’ll find the motivation and means to make this work. You have to be willing to start the journey.

Thoughts for the Road
What if you decided today to be as health-conscious as possible? How might your life be different at this time next year? How would it look compared to what it looks like now?

The Psychology of Change

Positive thinking has the single most impact on your chances of succeeding at becoming your best with your weight and in your life. When researching the patterns that successful people have, it always comes down to how they have trained their minds. To achieve success, you must be a good thinker. Earlier, we covered how thoughts influence your actions. There is no way to permanently change your actions other than changing the thoughts that dictated those actions in the first place. We must start there if we are going to accomplish this managing-your-weight, being-healthy thing. If you want to change your behavior, but you’re unwilling to analyze your thoughts and go deeper, this may not be the right time for you to start this program. Good thinking has two major components: being reflective and being solution-oriented. Reflective thinking is the ability to analyze your past and current thoughts and behavior and assign judgments to them. You may have learned it’s wrong to make judgments on your thoughts or behavior, but how else are you to determine if they are working? If your habits are not working for you, or if you have ideas of what you should be doing that are better, you must be open to thinking about them logically and making an evaluation. The second part of the equation, being solution-oriented, means that you spend the majority of your thought-time working on solutions rather than problems. You may have heard the phrase, “You’re either part of the solution, or part of the problem.” Successful people know this to be true and use it as a guide in their thought lives.


The Psychology of Change


Positive thinking can be a learned skill. Some may think you are born either a positive thinker or negative thinker. This may be true; our intellectual gifts vary. Our virtues can be both weaknesses and strengths, depending on how well we develop and learn to use them. Those who see the negative have the advantage of foreseeing potential problems and thinking of solutions or a different approach that would be beneficial. If you use this strength as part of the process and develop your other thinking skills, you will be able to use it as a positive. However, if you are a negative thinker who simply dwells on the negative, rarely thinking of solutions, your thought life can be cumbersome, even paralyzing. Sometimes we can benefit from tuning in to our natural thought life and partnering with an individual or group that has a different perspective than ours. At first it may seem annoying, but if we learn to appreciate people’s different thinking styles, we can collaborate with others who are able to help bring out the best in ourselves.

Practice Makes Better
Practicing positive thinking can also be a developed behavior. The better you get at recognizing your thought patterns and evaluating them with rational thought, the more successful you will become at thinking positively. There is no question that everyone from successful executives to elite athletes—those at the top of their fields—have trained themselves mentally to identify potential problems while focusing their energy on creating positive outcomes. Tiger Woods does not go into a tournament thinking, “I probably won’t play well today, but I’ll give it a try.” Similarly, you can’t start your weight loss journey thinking, “I’ll try this program, but it’s probably not going to work.” As with any venture, analyze the facts and proceed with a thinking pattern that will give you the best chance at success.

Who Are You Inside?
The challenge of changing your thoughts is that what you have in your mind comes from what’s in your heart. You may have tried to change your thinking patterns before or the little voices in your head that tell you who you are and what you are capable of accomplishing. You may have tried saying positive affirmations, looking at yourself every morning and telling yourself how special and beautiful you are. These methods of reinforcement are widely used,


Weight Whys

but if you don’t believe them in your heart as you are speaking, the exercise may not have lasting value. The school of thought is that if you repeat the words often, you will eventually believe them, but, I have not known the heart to be so easily persuaded. You have core beliefs and values that have been ingrained in you throughout your life, starting from when you were a child. To learn how to use these beliefs to create the results you want, you must be willing to make the emotional investment required to more intimately know this part of yourself. Sometimes we are afraid to know ourselves deeply, fearing what we might find. You may get comfortable with your created self. Even if it is not working for you, and you desperately want something different, it’s too scary to explore an alternative that may be better. Life-long change that results in weight management must start from your heart. Approaching it this way, there will be no conflict in saying your positive affirmations and statements; they will be the natural product of how you feel. There will be an overflow of feelings and the positive attitude you have toward life, instead of forced emotions or words you pretended to feel. The actions and choices you make day to day should be based on your belief system and values. When you clarify what you truly want your values to be and have the belief in your heart to support those values, your choices will produce the desired outcomes.

Time For a Reality Check
Creating a new norm is the key to permanent lifestyle change. Whatever your habits are now is considered your norm. Your norm is comfortable. Change requires you to leave your comfort zone. Expect it to feel strange. Sometimes in coaching, it is difficult to determine people’s true “norm” because they create false norm for themselves (from a false sense of reality). This means we try to talk ourselves and others into believing things are as we would like them to be, instead of as they are. You may want to be someone who exercises three times a week. You may even tell me that you are. In fact, you may have exercised three times a week for one week the last month. You may not be intentionally lying, but by failing to keep track of your workouts and making excuses week after week, you are deceiving yourself. What have you got to show for it, but failed results? You may feel guilt in coming to terms with the truth of your actions (or lack of actions). Deep down, people know themselves and live with their flaws.

The Psychology of Change


If you are lying to yourself, even if no one else knows, you will not feel like a trustworthy person. You will not be confident that you are reliable and worthy of your word. Ultimately, this will play itself out in other areas of your life as well. It will evidence itself not only in your poor health, but also in relationships, confidence to complete tasks, and so on. Just as you lose self-confidence when you lie, you gain it when you set out to complete a goal and achieve it. You may give yourself the realistic, but challenging goal of walking three days a week. You are diligent about tracking it on your calendar and adjusting your schedule to make it happen three times a week, even on those days when you feel like vegging out on the couch with the remote control. You develop that confidence that comes from completing your goal and being a person of your word, even if no one knows about it. That’s called being a person of integrity. You will carry this confidence with you into relationships, into tasks at home, and at work. Whatever you choose to accomplish, you will know you can rely on yourself to complete it, even when it’s difficult and you don’t feel like it. These lessons on the road to weight management will bring you success in life, not only in your health. Remember, when you are honest and admit what your norm is, you may realize a fact that you may not like. That is, your norm is what is comfortable to you. It is familiar and secure. When you decide to improve, even if you truly desire it in your heart, it will feel uncomfortable and strange. You must remind yourself that the discomfort is temporary. As you continue in each new habit, a new norm will start to emerge that will someday feel natural. Persevere during the challenging times. This kind of character is the difference between those who lead mediocre lives and those who aspire to greatness. Decide today that you will excel and achieve that greatness.

Don’t Be a Victim
Accepting responsibility for your actions is essential in empowering yourself to create change. To be victorious, you must be willing to be accountable for your actions. Telling yourself that circumstances “happen” to you takes away your power. It may feel good to let yourself be a victim because you relinquish responsibility for the situation. It is easier to be the victim than face the reality that you played a part in the situation. The perspective you should have is that the more responsibility you acknowledge for your actions, the more power you have to change them. If


Weight Whys

you had no influence over creating it, it is that much more difficult to empower yourself to produce a better outcome. The hardest part of reality is acknowledging the part you play in your circumstances, either in relationships or other situations that are challenging or disappointing. When you accept this truth and grow into the fullness of it, this gem of knowledge has the power to set you free. You will be free of the power you thought people had to make you angry or upset. You will be free of the helplessness you feel over your compulsion to eat when you are stressed. When you go to the restaurant with the big portion sizes, you’ll be able to control yourself. It’s not the donuts, or the fact that your mom is a great cook, or your heavy workload that prevents you from having time to exercise. It’s you. What a scary thought. Once you get past the fear, it will be the truth that will set you free from bondage. Take control of your life by evaluating each situation to see where your control is and considering how you can change it. There may be times that asking for help from others might be necessary to gauge how to change your circumstances, but you will have taken the most challenging step by accepting ownership. I wish I could say its all downhill from there, but it’s not. That’s when you must take the journey to learn more about yourself and others, and become the person who is capable of living a more desirable life. Sadly, there are some who will forever live in a world where everything “happens” to them and they are unwilling passengers. You may know some of these people. They can best be recognized by their level of frustration. Don’t allow yourself to live this way. Choose the higher road. It requires more work, but gives a richer reward. You deserve to live the most abundant life possible, the life you were meant to live. Run the race until the tape snaps across your chest. When you cross that finish line, you will be satisfied that you tried your best. It’s not about finishing first; the victory is in running your best race and accepting the reward you earned.

The Power of Commitment
In life’s journey, there is great power in commitment. Keeping your word to yourself and others is paramount in achieving your goals. Greatness cannot be achieved without being a person of your word, especially when no one is looking. You can use this in weight management as you do in life. My clients often share that when they sneak food or eat by themselves, they are most inclined to eat to excess. They don’t do it in front of others; they feel they have to hide

The Psychology of Change


it because they know that it’s not right. I also find that people will exaggerate their frequency of exercise until I ask them for details. When you reach the point where you can track physical activity and be honest about eating habits, you can make some awesome changes. It takes work and it’s not always fun. That’s why it’s not popular. What is popular is finding a quick fix for managing your weight. I understand why a fast solution is appealing. A large part of it is because people are being misinformed that these gimmicks work. Everyday, I see the sad reality; people’s health is failing as a result of these gimmicks. People are dying over this. That’s what inspired me to write this book. My hope is that you will be diligent in reading it.

Raise Your Standards
It is possible to develop perseverance to keep your commitment to yourself. Keep your focus on your mission of being fit and healthy. Search within yourself for what it takes to stay driven toward the dream of a healthier you. John Maxwell once wrote that “Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream” not “I have a goal”. Goals give focus, but dreams give power.” Remember—on your journey of managing your weight and improving your health, you need to have both a dream and a goal. To have success in your weight and in your life, you must be willing to raise your standard of what is acceptable for you. The health habits you’ve been practicing have been acceptable for you until now. You may not like your habits or the results they produce, but these are the standards you have created and accepted. For whatever reason, you have conceded that you overeat or don’t stick to your exercise program. Maybe you are late for everything. Whatever the trait you desire to change, understand that it has been an acceptable standard for you to this point. Take ownership of it so you can see the awesome power in what happens when you come to terms with your behavior and choices. You will finally be empowered to create change in that area.

Focus on Your Health Instead of Your Weight
You may be thinking about this and discover some enlightening truths. For years, you have been setting New Year’s resolutions, buying exercise equipment, and trying one diet program after another. You may have convinced yourself that you want to take control over your weight. In reality, you have


Weight Whys

been distracting yourself from the real issues that are affecting your health, unwilling to face facts. Success in managing your weight will be easier when you focus on improving your health, instead of just losing weight. Losing weight must be your secondary driving force or you will fall prey to the traps that are all around, enticing you to lose weight in an unhealthy way. I guarantee that when you focus on being physically active, eating healthfully, and managing your emotional and spiritual well-being, you will be better able to manage your weight than when you were not focusing on these needs. It is not the weight that needs to be the center of your attention, but the means by which the excess weight was created. Often people try to focus on the weight, becoming so fixated with the number on the scale that they want to do crazy things. I see people all the time who don’t want to drink water or eat lunch before they get weighed. It drives me crazy! I understand wanting to remove a heavy jacket, or taking keys out of your pocket before stepping on the scale. When I see people practicing unhealthy behaviors just to see a smaller number, I know their perspective is jaded. Get out of your feelings for a minute, and back into your rational mind. Thinking along these lines is not healthy behavior. You may be setting yourself up for problems with respect to keeping your weight in perspective. Don’t misunderstand me. Weight is a gauge used to evaluate your health status, but that number cannot be the endall-be-all of achieving success.

Know Your ABCs
Creating change is as simple as A, B, C. Attitude, Belief, and Commitment are the driving forces behind success or defeat in changing behavior. You must have a positive attitude and do whatever it takes to make you confident that you can achieve your goals. You must have a stable belief system where the foundations of health are ingrained in your heart powerfully enough to influence your decisions and actions. Your desire for good health and your love of life have to be at your core, encouraging you that managing your weight is the best thing to do for your overall health. Finally, you must have the commitment to persevere in becoming more healthy, especially when the journey is difficult and you would rather turn back to your old habits where you feel comfortable and secure. Wherever you are, it’s not too late to stop and change directions. As long as you are alive, you have the potential to change. In fact, a life is well lived when

The Psychology of Change


you continue to learn more about yourself, others, and the world around you. Many people get stuck in the mindset that they are too old to be anything different than what they are now. Have you abused your body, or gained so much weight that you cannot envision yourself feeling healthy again? Are you tired at the thought of trying? Have you surrendered to your reality that you will never be better than you are now? When your spirit is broken and you believe the lie that life can’t get better for you, this is a sad and hopeless place to be. However, this is a place you might be visiting. The good news is—you don’t have to live there. Realistically, it is possible to damage your body to a point where you have conditions that are beyond repair. Damage caused to the body (especially the heart) from being overweight, not exercising, not eating enough fiber, smoking, and other unhealthy behavior may be impossible to reverse. But, the truth is that the body has an amazing ability to repair itself and to adapt to exercise, eating right, and balancing stress, in a way that you might not believe. That’s one of the reasons why I work so hard to educate people, not just on what to do to stay healthy, but how their bodies work as well. When you understand how your body works, you are more inclined to relate your everyday actions to what is going on inside. Because you can’t look under your skin and see your arteries and muscles, it’s difficult to appreciate how nutrition, exercise, and emotions affect your body.

Life is a Miracle
One of my fascinations with wellness has to do with how I am in awe of the human body. It is amazing with everything that happens inside, simultaneously that we are alive from one second to the next. It is truly a miracle that every cell knows its function and carries it out day after day. Throughout the course of the book, we will discuss more physiology and the ‘whys’ of taking care of ourselves. It’s my hope that you will understand your body to the degree that you are convinced to nurture your health. It is worth the effort. I’ve worked with people in their sixties and seventies who have had a lifechanging experience. They begin a walking program, start eating more fruits and vegetables, and lose twenty pounds. It’s easier to get around when you have twenty less pounds to carry. Imagine how this change can lighten the load on your heart, your back, knees, ankles, and lungs. Your quality of life is drastically improved when you maintain a weight that is appropriate for your body.


Weight Whys

Setting Goals
Setting realistic goals is imperative when starting your mission. I encourage you to set behavioral goals as opposed to weight goals. You can use your weight as one way to determine if the behavioral goals you set are working effectively. I do not advise setting a weight goal as your sole means of measuring success. Start this journey with healthy expectations. Are you focusing on your weight to determine your goal or are you giving the due attention to the behavior its going to take to get there? Remember, you don’t have complete control over the number of pounds you weigh. You can shoot for a range, having a sense of what size you will wear and what your body may look like. As you progress, the focus has to be on the baby steps along the journey. Often, people fixate on that magic number to the point where it makes no sense. It’s tempting to resort to crazy, desperate measures when you do not take that step back to get a clear view of the path you’re taking. Stay focused on your goals to improve your health and become fit, and getting to your healthy weight will be a by-product. It is all a process, so be patient. At times you may get tired of setting goals, getting to know yourself, making thoughtful decisions—all these new thought processes. Be aware that you may be tempted to fall into the victim mentality. Being a victim says that your actions don’t influence the state of your health. While this may be true in some instances, focus on exercising the control you have to keep yourself healthy. By the words that come from a client’s mouth I can tell almost immediately what their mentality is with their health, and their lives. The way you respond to the hand you are dealt is relevant in determining the quality of your life. If you know you have a family history of heart disease, you should be more diligent—than someone with “good” genes—to eat right, exercise, and manage your emotional being effectively. But, these are often the same people who say, “There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s in my genes.” This is a lie they tell themselves. Perhaps their well-meaning doctor said this when reviewing their health history. Maybe this is their excuse to eat whatever they want and not be physically active. Whatever the case, it is a lie, and it is costing people their lives. Don’t let it cost you yours. Take steps to improve your health and be your best, whatever that may be. How do you know that exercise doesn’t work for you if you’ve never tried it? By trying, I mean finding out what the appropriate exercise is for you from a qualified health professional and doing it on a

The Psychology of Change


consistent basis for at least three months. This is how long the body usually takes to have a physiological response to your exercise. There’s more to learn about those changes in the chapters ahead.

Forming New Habits
Habits are extremely challenging to break, even when you are emotionally frustrated by them and you expect to have the willpower to change. An effective way to change habits, or create new lifestyle behavior, is to look at your past and examine the motives behind what you’ve been doing. Invest the time to do this and it is much easier to change to the more desired behavior. You may not want to examine your past because you don’t want to exert the energy. Looking at your past may be painful. Regardless, the fact remains there are reasons we do the things we do. You may communicate love by cooking or baking cookies for someone. This behavior may be considered emotionally healthy and simply a form of how we express love in our culture, as is the case in many cultures. However, this pattern becomes a negative or unhealthy behavior if one feels as though their “love” has been rejected if their food is not eaten in abundance. It is also unhealthy behavior if the one accepting the food feels a burden to overeat for fear of hurting the other person. You may even have the desire to overeat, but make the excuse that you are doing so for the sake of the other’s feelings. There are many variables that influence why we do the things we do, especially with food and other health habits. This is worth investigation. Explore your motives to make sure the behavior you are choosing is appropriate to meet your needs. In the examples I used about communicating with food, what would happen if these two individuals communicated their love through other means that were healthy for them, both physically and emotionally? What if they talked more and communicated more effectively through words? How about going for a walk to spend time together? How about being together with the focus on fellowship and being sociable instead of on indulging (or overindulging) in food?

Weight Loss Programs
Don’t make the mistake of trying to reinvent your life by starting from scratch. The habits you have now probably took years to create. They have been reinforced over and over in your life every day. Even the habits you dreadfully can’t stand, you must consider part of yourself. Instead of putting your energy into


Weight Whys

rejecting who you are and starting over, focus your energy on getting to know who you are and nurturing yourself through the process of change and improvement. It is common that people will lose weight on programs where every step is detailed. You follow the steps for a while and refer to yourself as being “on the program.” This also means you eventually will be “off the program.” What do you do when you are “off”? You revert to the behavior that was natural to you before. That kind of program will fail because you have not integrated permanent changes into your lifestyle. In a strange way, being “on” and “off” a program may be easier. You may do whatever you want and not discipline yourself when you’re “off”. That way you also have something outside yourself to blame your weight struggle on. It takes the attention away from the specific problem behavior and puts it on staying “on” or being “off” the program. Unfortunately, progress is negligible during this time. It is only a diversion. You end up losing weight while on the program, only to regain it and start the cycle over again. At times in coaching, I get a sense this is the kind of diversion the client might want to help them avoid facing the real problems. Busying yourself with dieting and preoccupying your thoughts with your weight might help you to avoid the pain associated with looking at what’s inside. You fear what you might find when you look deep inside. This fear can be the driving force for making a lifetime of “yo-yo” dieting a person’s entire world.

Steps to Change
Before you start feeling overwhelmed, you should know there are only three steps involved to create change. The first is to learn what you need to know. We will discuss the foundations of nutrition, exercise, and balancing emotional and spiritual wellness which are necessary in creating a lifestyle of optimal health. The second step is exploring who you are as a unique individual and discovering how to change. You will explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors throughout the reading and journal writing. You will then be able to make informed decisions and act accordingly, based on these insights about yourself. The third step is continuously encouraging yourself to take action. Persevering through the journey of managing your weight can be trying. You need to know how you will motivate yourself to keep going and learn more about yourself as you go.

The Psychology of Change


Our Coaching Together
During the course of our work together, you may discover you would like to attend individual therapy, work with a weight management group, take a health class, or some other activity that will help further explore your selfawareness. In my experience working in weight management groups, as well as with individuals, people benefit in different ways from both. It depends on your needs and where you are on your journey. I find that people who work with another through individual coaching, groups, therapy, a partner, even reading a book, are more likely to succeed than by trying it on their own. When you work with someone else, even by reading a book, you can benefit from the other’s experiences. Having someone to empathize with, someone who relates to you, or someone to share your heart and mind with can significantly hasten your success. Getting healthy and managing your weight is a journey. You will need encouragement as you continue along the road. My hope is that you someday advance far enough to inspire and encourage others. The gratifying part of coaching is seeing clients succeed. It is gratifying when you switch your attention from yourself to motivate others. Some of my clients have returned to college for formal education in a health related field. No matter what your place in the world, you have an impact on others. When you mature enough in your health habits to inspire someone else, you will have the potential to improve someone’s life. That is an awesome, powerful thing.

Thoughts for the Road
How can you focus on your goal of becoming healthier? Brainstorm ideas for setting your mind on making your he alth a priority. Set a quantifiable goal that focuses specifically on your behavior. An example might be to walk or eat a healthy breakfast twice a week. A goal can be anything more than you are doing now. It should be challenging, but doable. Whatever you would like to change, start now to take a step toward improving.

What the World Tells Us about Our Weight

Weight loss is a sixty billion dollar per year industry. Because people constantly lose and regain weight, moving from one diet craze or pill to the next, the industry is constantly supplied with “new” customers. Unfortunately for consumers, there are many gimmicks to watch out for. Combine this with the fact that people are desperately looking for the fastest solution that requires the least effort, you have yourself a money-making machine. Because weight management is my main interest in the area of health, my ears are always open to radio commercials, infomercials, and other forms of marketing that weight loss companies use. Listening to most advertisements, I am amazed at the ridiculous claims they make. Isn’t it intriguing that one pill will give your body the amazing ability to decrease the size of fat cells without changing your diet or exercise routine and can stimulate hair growth? That was the information included in an advertisement I saw. I think about these claims and—while I find them entertaining—I am saddened by them. As I am listening, someone else who is uninformed about health and how the body works is being fooled by these claims. Maybe they are desperate to lose weight and hate their bodies. It is likely they will pick up the phone and spend their hard-earned money on a product that is going to make them feel worse than they did before they bought it. To think about it angers me and tears my heart out.


What the World Tells Us about Our Weight


The Media is a Business
Media is the public’s main source of health information. The problem is that the media is in business to lure viewers into watching. Information—headlines especially—is often skewed to influence the viewer to become interested in their story. This may lead the media outlet to exaggerate facts, change information, or use unreliable sources to “get a story”. I don’t intend this to be a slam on the media, but I want to emphasize that it is not the reliable source of health information consumers expect it to be. If you realize the media’s main objective is like any business—to attract customers—you will examine their information before accepting it as fact. When you are shopping in the grocery store or watching an infomercial, you can digest the information differently by being a marketing-conscious consumer. Evaluate their claims with the knowledge that this is a product they are trying to “sell.” The same is true with the media. They are trying to sell you a story. Health segments in the news are created when a journalist (usually with no clinical knowledge in the health arena) is assigned the task of presenting an intriguing filler for a 3-minute time slot. The slot may be a “teaser” that leads into a commercial break, making the headline all the more enticing. Often, the public doesn’t have the knowledge to decipher the information, so they believe the story or headline is factual. From the perspective of a health professional, over half of what you hear about health is not true. I don’t necessarily blame journalists or the media. They are probably trying to do the best job they can at relaying information. Sadly, they do not have adequate knowledge to ask relevant questions concerning studies and the “health sources” who submit the information. Sometimes politics and bias dictate which stories are given press releases and which research is published. The bottom line is that information and “research findings” should not be considered valid until they are evaluated by established professionals in that particular field. Be a smart consumer. Do not let the media be your primary source of health information and do not assume what you read or hear on the news is factual.

The Great Debate
Years ago I watched an interesting debate between various media professionals and health professionals (physicians, dieticians, and the like). It opened my eyes to the truth of how stories are marketed. The question discussed was


Weight Whys

whether news professionals had an ethical responsibility to thoroughly verify health information before presenting it to the public. Startling statistics were presented to detail the various aspects up for discussion. They looked at how much health information was presented during each newscast and what percentage of that information was considered valid by the health community. They showed statistics from interviews with the public to determine to what extent media stories are believed and viewed as a reliable source of health education. The panel concluded that if the public used the media as their main source of health information, and much of this information was misleading and wrong, we have a huge problem. This means that most people are not armed with the facts, misinformed, and often confused by conflicting information.

Don’t Be Deceived
It is wise to be aware that marketing can be deceptive. You won’t see this as much in the media as you will in product claims on boxes, infomercials, and so forth. For example, when you buy fruit juice at the grocery store, you want to buy the type that has the most nutritional value. The container should read “100% fruit juice”, meaning that most of the contents are real juice from the fruit itself. Other containers that read “70% juice” mean that 70% of the contents are from fruit juice and the remainder from added sugars and sweeteners. You can find products that contain as little as 5% fruit juice that taste sweeter and are usually marketed toward children who like the sugary taste. An unaware consumer might think all fruit juice is the same, but if you look for the percentage on the label, you can distinguish the nutritious juice from the colored sugar-water. The deceit began when companies realized that consumers are looking at the labels and not buying their sugar-water, so they find a clever way to make claims on the labels. They may put “100% Vitamin C” on the label, or something of that nature, to distract buyers from looking at the other part of the label which reads that it’s only 5% fruit juice. Nutritional value aside, consumers may be more inclined to buy the lower percentage juice because it is sweeter and less expensive, since sugar and water are cheaper ingredients than real juice from the fruit. At this point, you might ask, how will I know what to buy without becoming a nutritionist or spending hours at the store reading food labels? Fear not. In the chapter ahead on nutrition, we will cover some basics to make life eas-

What the World Tells Us about Our Weight


ier. For now, realize that the industry is marketing to you every minute. You must be aware of this if you are ever to be a smart, health-conscious consumer.

Everyone’s an Expert
There are people everywhere who consider themselves “health experts.” You often hear of a celebrity who has written a book about how to stay young and slim forever. These “experts” can even be neighbors or co-workers who want to tell you how to cure your high blood pressure by taking the newest herb, eating beeswax, or whatever the latest and greatest fallacy may be. The truth is you are best served when you seek advice from health professionals who have education and experience in the field you want advice about. Before you decide if you will trust their opinion, it’s good to ask questions such as: where they went to college, in what field did they earn their degree, and what their professional experience has been. Another wise step would be to see if their information agrees with that of the national organizations that specialize in that particular area. For example, you may have heard that drinking wine improves your cardiovascular health. When you hear that drinking a glass of wine daily is “good for you,” research what national organizations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) believe. Then, you will be in a position to make an educated decision whether you want to believe it or not. Instead of taking someone’s word, if you investigated before deciding if the health information you heard is reliable, you would not hold many of the distorted beliefs you do today. If you are like most people, you might let your emotions override common sense. Why should you believe the nutritional advice given by a celebrity? Since when does being a good-looking actor make you an expert on managing weight and proper nutrition? Yet, it happens all the time. You might believe the outrageous lie that fruits and vegetables can make you fat because a celebrity on an infomercial told you these carbohydrates are bad for you. Is there some secret diet formula only famous people have access to? The ones who are trying to sell you their latest book, pill, or video would like you to believe so. “For the low cost of $19.99, you can learn the secret formula too.” Don’t be a victim. Be wise and be alert to the marketing tactics that are used to play on your emotions and get you to spend your hard earned money.


Weight Whys

Does Your Appearance Determine Your Value?
Society tells us our appearance determines how valuable we are. Appearance is and always will be a factor in how others perceive you, as well as how you perceive others. Think about what your perception of this reality is and how it might manipulate your thinking. Overweight clients often tell me they believe they are looked at negatively because of their weight; they feel their work and opinions are not valued to the same extent as their thinner counterparts. What is interesting in working with these individuals throughout their weight loss journey is that their perspective of their circumstances often changes before they reach their target weight. When you begin to change your behavior and develop self-confidence, those around you will respond and the dynamics of your environment change. You may be constantly preoccupied with thoughts that others are judging you because of your weight. You may think negative experiences occur because you are overweight.

How Do You Respond to Adversity?
The sad reality is that some people are discriminated against because of their weight, but the same can be said for many other variables of life. People are discriminated against because they are too young, old, attractive, unattractive…you name it. The question is how will you respond to it? Are you going to complain about it and let it be an obstacle to enjoying life? Or will you have the character to get beyond circumstances and achieve assured of your confidence and self-worth no matter what the circumstances? The choice is yours and it does not depend on what anyone thinks of you. That is not the issue. Throughout my years coaching overweight clients, it’s been exciting to see how working to build their confidence and self-image positively impacts obstacles, even more than losing the weight does.

What Makes You Attractive?
Uniqueness sets each person apart from the other. In our culture, we sometimes have a distorted impression of what it means to be attractive. As a result, we never learn to love our unique qualities. You will enjoy yourself and your body more when you realize that it’s not being perfect that makes you attractive. It is being your personal best and being confident in that. I have coached people who work hard at being cardiovascularly fit. They exercise three times a week, make good eating choices most of the time, manage their stress well,

What the World Tells Us about Our Weight


and are health-conscious overall. They may be fifty pounds overweight, but they are more attractive than someone who is stressed, upset, and obsessed with losing five more pounds that will get them to their goal. Being attractive and confident is a state of mind. It is not hitting a magic number on the scale or fitting into your old pants size. It helps to feel confident when you are fit and in shape, but don’t fall for the misconception that until you are a certain size, you are not attractive. The time to start feeling confident and striving for your personal best is right now, not fifty pounds from now. Change your mindset to believe that you are all right the way you are today; you are simply a work in progress. See if the people around you don’t respond to you differently.

Media Presents an Unrealistic Image
Media figures present an impossible standard. Most models, both male and female, are extremely thin and have been airbrushed to achieve the desired look of the advertiser. I’m not saying this is right or wrong. It’s just the way it is. On the one hand, I can see an advertiser wanting to display their product in the best possible way to influence consumers to buy it. That’s their job. It’s the model’s job to look their best. Unlike the average person, they spend time and resources to keep up their appearance. I don’t want to spend three hours a day in a gym, countless hours a week getting facials, count every calorie, get the perfect hair color, and all the other things that models do because their appearance is their livelihood. There are also a lot of models (not all) who resort to eating disorders, drugs, and other unhealthy means of keeping up a slim appearance. The bottom line is that we have to be able to look at these people on commercials and billboards and realize that their job is to appear as desirable as possible to sell their product. Remember that the standard we should hold ourselves to has to be our personal best, not what advertisers or marketers are defining as most attractive. Being realistic and thoughtful in our expectations can help us love our unique selves and not to be constantly critical and disappointed in our appearance.

Set a Good Example
In my opinion, even if you don’t have children, it is the responsibility of adults to set a good example for our young people. Media figures, models, and the people in advertisements should not be our role models. We should strive to be our personal best. Girls and boys alike try to emulate the models they see in


Weight Whys

magazines or the latest popular singing icon. Adults are no different. We should be teaching our children and the other young people in our circle of influence that being like someone else is not a worthy goal. Instead, strive to be your unique personal best. Be the beautiful person you were created to be and love who you are. All the different, marvelous likes, dislikes, and character traits make you special. Try your best to improve each day, inside and out. That sounds like the ideal we desire for our children, yet the expectation we have of ourselves is different. Beating ourselves up, trying to be someone that we are not and not liking ourselves is not the way you were meant to live. This does not show gratitude for the life, mind, and soul that have been given specially to you.

Content Being Yourself
Why is it so hard to believe you are good enough? It is a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others and yet we’re quick to criticize that which is unique and special about ourselves. It is so common that people are unhappy with themselves, their appearance, their personality, characteristics, or perceived lack of talents. At some point, let go of the negative feelings you have about yourself and become your own best friend. Explore what makes you special and different than everyone else, and love it. Everyone has things about themselves they would like to change. Realistically, there are things we want to change about ourselves. A successful life means you are getting better as time passes. You should be better at being a friend, better at communicating, being on time, disciplining yourself to exercise regularly, and learning how to live your life to its best. Recognize you must find a balance between contentment with who you are and striving to be better. Striving and giving life your all every day creates a quiet confidence that makes others want to be around you. They will ask: what is this peace you have that commands your best and makes you satisfied with the results? Look around. Not many people have that air about them. You can. Learning to love yourself for who you are, and striving for the best of yourself will set you apart from the rest of the world. People long to know themselves but are afraid to look too deeply for fear they may not like what they find.

Being Healthy Requires Effort
Society tells us it is good when we lose weight, no matter how we do it. According to them, being thin is more important than being healthy. You

What the World Tells Us about Our Weight


rarely hear commercials tell you to be healthier, eat fruits and vegetables. You never see a billboard advertising that walking will strengthen your heart and prolong your life. Those messages don’t sell anything. However, you will see a product on television that will make you happy by making you thinner. They market what people are looking for and would pay any amount of money to have—a thinner body with no effort required. Understand that anything worth having requires effort. If you want a thinner body, you can have it. The best way to get it is to care for your health in the process. Don’t resort to these quick fix gimmicks that jeopardize your precious time here on earth. Being thin is not worth sacrificing your health but, sadly, I have seen that sickness and death is often the price that people pay. You must realize that being healthy is more important than simply being thin. It will help you to discriminate against gimmicks that may be hurtful.

It’s All About the Journey
Weight loss programs are, for the most part, results-oriented. This is not bad, but it should be kept in perspective. Stay focused on achieving results that are health-oriented, balance your desire for results with being process minded. When it comes to managing your weight, it’s all about the journey. You must acquire the skills to lose weight and maintain it. You will learn behavioral, coping, and communication skills, as well as new and better ways to care for your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. These skills are necessary for you to live an abundant life. If you short-change yourself, you will not get the results you want and you will not be capable of maintaining the weight loss. Many fail at this huge task, but you have the fortitude to make this happen. Learn the qualities within yourself that influence your decision-making process. Next, discover how to change that behavior so it is healthier. Over time, continuing this process will produce a changed lifestyle. Often I have seen this happens to people who are ready to change their lives. However, you must be determined to make health improvement a top priority. So-called experts tell us that it is possible to lose weight without effort. We have things like “exercise in a bottle” for the low price of $29.95. For the most part, it’s all about money on the part of the manufacturer. Some may argue that they have the public’s best interests in mind. Their intent is weight loss for people who are not motivated to exercise or improve their diet. Many products that are hurting people are still on the market. Anyone in science who is familiar with how the human body functions can deduce that a product


Weight Whys

that speeds up your central nervous and cardiovascular systems is harmful. When the person taking the product has trouble getting to sleep at night because their heart is racing, you can bet it’s not good for you. Someone knowledgeable about anatomy and physiology can deduce this, but the person taking it thinks, “They couldn’t sell it if it could hurt me. I’ll take it for a while to get the weight off. Then I’ll start eating healthier and exercising.” I’ve heard it all. I’ve had clients tell me they take their diet pills occasionally just to give them energy. These pills can be like speed. I feel so passionate about this issue because it hurts people, hindering their weight loss at the very least. People believe that diet pills work and the truth is that some are destructive to their health and have negative long-term effects on their metabolism. Why do people believe they work? It’s because they are desperate to lose weight, no matter what the cost.

Buyer Beware
At times I think, “This is America. Don’t companies have every right to market their products the way they want?” The capitalist in me believes they do and that it is the consumer’s responsibility to be aware. The health professional in me thinks that companies who profess these health claims have a moral responsibility to speak truth and to make buyers aware of the potential side effects. Consumers are manipulated every day with weight loss products, when they have no idea it is going to hinder them in the long run. My mission is to educate people on how to manage their weight successfully for the long term, and to inform them of the effects of various weight loss products and programs. Later in the book I’ll explain metabolism. You’ll understand how these various diet programs and products work against you in preparing your body to keep off the weight that you lose while on the program. As an educated consumer, be skeptical of the marketing that is directed toward you. Since it comes down to money, companies will use any means to make their product appealing. This includes directing their advertisements toward our emotions. Their intent is that we will draw conclusions about the product using our feelings, instead of using our rational thought process to decide. Marketers use science to play the right music in the commercial, put their product in the most strategic location of the store and use the right lighting. These elements are used to persuade us without our awareness. I know this to be true about the food, exercise equipment, and health industries. In

What the World Tells Us about Our Weight


business, where the objective is to influence you to purchase their product, you must do so with a keen awareness of this ploy. With that said, there are also legitimate, beneficial health products that people develop with the consumer’s best interest in mind. There are great vitamins, pieces of exercise equipment, weight management books, and other health products that are helping people learn to better care for themselves and improve their quality of life. It is your responsibility to be a savvy health consumer and know that many products don’t work and could actually harm you. It’s your responsibility to ask questions before using the products and to make sure you test ideas against your rational judgment before making a decision. If “exercise in a bottle” worked, why would so many people still be overweight? Does the claim that this is a “secret pill”, unknown to millions and available to you for a short time only, really make sense? Why would something that good be a secret? Ask yourself these questions and get the opinions of professionals you can trust. And always ask how the product works. The answer you get may be a lie, but it is worth getting the information and asking a Registered Dietician (RD), physician (MD), clinical exercise specialist, or health educator for their opinion. Seek out someone with the knowledge to help you distinguish between good and bad information. Ask a professional or a reputable health organization what they think about the claims the company is making before you invest your time and money. It is worth the effort and could be one of the smartest things you do along your weight loss journey. I have worked with many people who could have saved themselves money and years of heartache if they had done their research and elicited opinions from health professionals before deciding on a course of action.

Distinguish Fact from Fiction
Organizations that are well established and unbiased in the health arena are tough to distinguish when you are looking for guidance. I have listed some well-known organizations in Appendix B to help you. Whether you are factfinding or looking to acquire knowledge in a particular area of your health, there are well-established organizations that we professionals have come to trust. One of the biggest challenges through your weight loss journey is to resist the diet and exercise gimmicks that catch your interest. It is tough to turn a deaf ear to the health claims that bombard you from every direction. To save time, energy, and money, seek the opinion of established organizations and


Weight Whys

health professionals that you trust. Remember, the keys are to research the backgrounds of the health professionals from whom you are seeking the opinion, ask how the products work in your body, and don’t be afraid to keep asking questions until you understand. If you still don’t feel comfortable, ask several professionals in the field and evaluate their answers. Remember, the information a health professional gives you is their opinion based on their knowledge and experience in that area. Find the individual most qualified to give you advice and realize it is only an opinion. Be your own health advocate and take control of your life.

Thoughts for the Road
What do you believe the world has told you about your weight? What quick weight loss products have you fallen for in the past? What did you learn from those experiences that can help your weight loss journey? Are you mindful to get accurate health information from reliable sources or do you easily believe what others tell you?

Creating Balance to Spend Your Time with Purpose

Our needs often determine our priorities. This becomes a problem when we don’t understand the needs that drive us, and we don’t rationally evaluate whether our need-driven actions get the desired results. Time management factors into this as well. Some people accomplish great things in a single day and others complain they barely get by. Who wants to live just getting by? We should thrive, not just survive. One of the keys to living with purpose and finding passion in life is to create balance. We all need a game plan defining “balance” and an action plan to make it happen.

Time is to be Treasured
Time is your most valuable asset. Spend it wisely. Once lost, time cannot be replaced. Think of your time as a commodity and you will be more thoughtful when you choose how to spend it. Saying “no” to people, for example, can be difficult. Reasons for this vary such as liking to feel needed, wanting to please others, not knowing how to assert yourself, or simply lacking good communication skills. It is necessary to eliminate comfortable things to create room for valuable things, like your health. For example, you may find comfort in watching three hours of television every night before you go to bed, but you also find you are lacking time to exercise and eat a healthy lunch. Take an inventory of your current habits and identify your needs. You may decide to make changes or simple exchanges, like a half-hour walk for a half-hour of television. Taking



Weight Whys

control of your time is not fun, but it paves the way for a rewarding life and enables you to devote your time purposefully and enjoy your chosen activities.

Clarify Your Priorities
Simplifying requires thought about your priorities. If managing your weight and your health is important, your lifestyle must be adjusted to reflect these priorities. When a friend invites you to lunch during your planned walking time, you may have to decline, postpone, or invite your friend for the walk. If you go to lunch instead, you will have to give up something else to get in your exercise. Choice is important, but so are your priorities. Think them through and act accordingly. Sacrifice may be involved, but your goals should not be sacrificed for short-term desires. This applies to the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual self as well. Clarifying your priorities takes thought. It is wise to first see if your primary needs are being met with your current habits. Complete wellness requires that primary needs be met most of the time or health problems will result. I define the primary needs as: adequate sleep, eating a nutritional, well-balanced diet, regular physical activity, loving relationships, managing stress, and nourishing your spirit. If you do not have a schedule that is conducive to meeting these needs on a regular basis, your health will eventually suffer.

Treat the Person, Not the Symptom
My new clients are usually having their whole health evaluated for the first time. People often wait until something is wrong before giving attention to their health, and then focus only on the issue at hand. The reason health problems are misdiagnosed or not properly rectified is because dealing with a specific symptom and solution, ignores other important variables. How many times is a patient prescribed a sleep aid because they can’t sleep? Wellness coaching involves looking at the person as a whole. I have coached many clients, taking sleep medications, who simply need to lay off the caffeine, see a therapist about their stress, or maintain a regular sleep cycle. Medication treats the symptom—education and change treats the person. When treating symptoms, the body has to process the medication. For every medication there are side effects, some you may not feel. The second problem is that the patient’s need may never be identified. It has been given a temporary solution. This works for few people since it masks other types of greater health problems. My experience shows that if people started to look at

Creating Balance to Spend Your Time with Purpose


lifestyle factors when a problem arises, instead of resorting first to medications, their opportunity to live healthier and happier is greatly improved.

You Can Achieve Balance
Living a balanced life is possible. It may not happen overnight because a new “arrangement” can take time to achieve. For example, if you are working fulltime where you have an hour commute each way, your exercise time may be a 20-minute walk at lunchtime. In the future, you may decide it is in your best interest to get a job closer to home, work fewer hours, or take your breaks instead of working through them. While I can empathize with such situations, remember your circumstances are often of your own choosing; you can choose to change them. It’s hard when our natural inclination is to deny, rationalize, or seek excuses. Whatever is not working for you will not be changed with a helpless victim mentality. It will be changed when you take control and do your best. Creating balance in your life is an art. It is a daily endeavor requiring conscious evaluation of what works for you and what could be better. The quicker you learn to identify areas that could be improved and then take action to change them, the more skilled you will become at creating balance. We all have habits that may not be serving us well. It may be wasting time watching too much television, not waking early enough to eat breakfast, or waiting until we are so hungry that we do not use rational judgment in selecting what we eat.

Analyze Your Thoughts
Thinking habits may also be critical when it comes to looking at what needs to change. Perhaps you tell yourself that your extra weight is due to genetics. This way, it’s not your fault and you have pardoned yourself from having to change it. While some people are genetically predisposed to gain weight, or the difficulty to lose it, there are environmental factors that have to be there for the weight gain to occur. I have worked with many people who have the genetics to be overweight. They chose to change their eating environment with a nutritious and balanced diet and regular exercise. I’m not saying that it’s easy—but it is possible. If you believe that your genes make you overweight and your decisions don’t, I challenge you to focus on creating healthier habits and see if it affects your weight. When you have been making good food choices and exercising


Weight Whys

on a consistent basis for a few months, you might be surprised where it leads. Then we can talk more about how much is genetics and how much is lifestyle choices. Don’t dwell on thoughts that aren’t moving you in the right direction. Invest time to evaluate them and change the negative forces in your weight loss effort.

Set Your Limits
If you are too busy to care for your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, you are simply too busy. Think about what you are willing to change. I have seen many people who are not proactive in scheduling time to walk, relax, and the like. Unfortunately, most will become good at scheduling the time when they have doctor’s appointments, trips to the pharmacy to pick up medication, and all the other things that are the result of neglecting their health. Examining your motives can help to determine where you should be spending your time. People overextend themselves for different reasons, and much of the time they are emotional reasons. The need to feel needed can drive a person to overextend themselves to the limit. Without being aware that the underlying reason is their need, they may not know how to change.

Set Reasonable Expectations
I have coached people who are overstressed because they feel they must be accessible by cell phone, pager, or have some form of contact with other people. We’ll discuss how to simply put away distractions and experiment with being unavailable to others for an hour at a time. First, we work on the logistics of communicating their new boundaries to those who are used to having them available. Then, we can work on turning off the equipment and enjoying some down time. Growth occurs when they can get down to exploring what compelled them to allow people to need them so much in the first place. For many, it’s the sense of importance they have when they feel needed. There is nothing wrong with doing things for others, helping others, or being available to others. What is important is setting healthy and reasonable limits on your availability. It is unreasonable to expect that you can create a healthy lifestyle for yourself, have time to relax, get your exercise, do things you enjoy, and be on call at work 24/7. Demands from others are often the main source of stress for people. Examine what your role has been in creating these situations. Then decide what you

Creating Balance to Spend Your Time with Purpose


must do and what you have to communicate to others so they are aware that a change is imminent.

Understand Your Needs
This need to feel needed may also be more deeply rooted as a need for love. A healthy, loving relationship, whether it is with a spouse or friend, involves an exchange of meeting each other’s needs. Many times we are in relationships where this exchange is not working in a healthy way for either side, but we settle for it rather than changing what’s necessary to improve it. Always being available to people at work is a great example. The person needed all the time is stressed because they don’t have time of their own and the people who are calling them never learn to be self-sufficient. It’s a losing proposition for both parties because neither their standards nor their abilities to handle problems are ever improved. I see many people settle for this because they are having a strong emotional need met in feeling important. In essence, their reward may be that they get to feel needed and maybe even loved; the trade-off is that they may be neglecting their health in the process. Not managing their stress, putting aside time to exercise and not having time alone, they sacrifice their healthy needs and what they are desperate for. All the while, their need for love is unresolved because they are not approaching it in an emotionally healthy way. One of the most difficult things for any human being to do is to identify what their needs are and then meeting them in a direct and healthy way. The beauty of living in balance is developing the ability to be content yet continuing to strive for more. You will never be satisfied or have peace if you are never content with yourself or what you have. On the same note, you will only live up to your potential when you continue to challenge yourself each day to become better than you are. It is possible to live in both states, contentment and striving to be more. The better you become at evolving both, the more alive and beautiful you become as a human being. Your potential to become a better, happier person may express itself in different areas at different times. You deserve the fulfillment of knowing you are doing everything within your control to care for your most valuable asset…your wellness. Learning how to love and accept yourself the way you are now (the contentment) while still desiring to do better and be better (the striving) is what life is all about. Growing into peace is where you will find true balance.


Weight Whys

Caring for yourself won’t become a habit until you see it as valuable. Often, people will think of exercise, eating right, taking time out for stress management, and doing hobbies they enjoy as a luxury rather than a necessity. We schedule it when we’ve taken care of our other business. While you may have different roles and responsibilities that are important to you, if you neglect your health, you may not be available to perform them. It seems paradoxical, but not taking the time to care for yourself is actually selfish. If physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are not met, what will be your value to others? If your health suffers by not meeting those needs, your value not only declines, but so does your availability.

Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Old habits are hard to break, but to give yourself the opportunity to live up to your potential, they must be broken. The problem occurs when you cannot go beyond your comfort level to change what is not productive for you. You may struggle for some time with that. You may continue to regress to behaviors that you are trying to change. You may keep setting your alarm to wake up early to exercise, and find that morning after morning you hit the snooze button. After enjoying your usual sleep, you wake up vowing that tomorrow morning you will do it. This repeated scenario not only results in your lack of exercise, but also in a loss of integrity and self-confidence. How can you feel good or trust yourself when you have not developed your character to act dependably? It doesn’t matter that it was “only” a promise to yourself. Every time this happens, you lose a little more self-respect and it costs you. Knowing you cannot make a basic commitment and be trusted to keep it, you will train yourself to believe you do not have the strength and character to keep your word. Picture yourself following through on your personal commitments, even when you may not feel like it. Learning and practicing to develop a strong sense of commitment to keeping your word is one of the key elements in living to your potential. Moving through discomfort to create balance and more healthy patterns is the best thing you could do for yourself. Doing so, however, is not popular because it requires discipline, perseverance, and patience. My hope is that through our weight management journey, you will develop these character traits and they will carry over in other areas.

Creating Balance to Spend Your Time with Purpose


Develop Self-Discipline
Often, skills you learn for moderating your food intake, making exercise part of your lifestyle, and caring for your emotional and spiritual well-being can be used to better yourself. Avoiding food that is not good for you is not pleasant. Yet, you can mature beyond doing what you want to do, to doing what you know to be best for you. In coaching, I have seen that when people learn this concept with food, they practice it in relationships and communication with others. Say you become better at being disciplined with portions sizes or food choices. You may become disciplined with not saying what you feel when you feel it. Since you are disciplining yourself to put more thought into what you are eating, you may become more thoughtful of your words before you speak. You may become patient with yourself, learning that your body is fine. You may learn you should love yourself even though you don’t always choose correctly. It may become easier for you to accept others the way they are. Growing patience, and realizing we are all trying to do our best, will provide greater inner peace, which helps to reinforce and improve your other habits. Some people are struggling through life, even dying, because they do not know how to create balance in their lives. They are working too hard, ignoring their needs, not caring for themselves, engaged in unsatisfying relationships, unable to communicate in a healthy way, and feeling frustrated. They either don’t expect anything better for themselves or don’t know how to get it. Developing balance, simplifying life, and enjoying what you have are necessary if you want to live to your fullest.

Have a Game Plan
When I ask people about the game plan for their day as it relates to their health, I am often surprised to hear how many don’t have one. I hear goals like, “I want to lose 10 pounds, cut out sweets, or fit into size 10 pants,” but I rarely hear a well thought out plan to go along with it. This is where the focus needs to be—on the game plan. This is where the power is. What are you willing to do to get there? For some, the answer is “nothing.” They like to have goals, but they are not willing to do anything to achieve them. They lack the willingness and the desire to develop the discipline and perseverance to get there. That is the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. Are you wiling to do what it takes to get there? Do you need to take time to explore yourself for what you may discover?


Weight Whys

Reflecting on where you spend your time and money is essential in determining your values. Dissecting the details of your life can be exhausting. Doing so is useful if it helps you avoid wasting time and money on things that are of little or no value. Take time to see where you spend your money and time. Does it align with how you want life to be? When someone comes into my office and tells me it is important for them to lose weight, they may believe this is true because they have spent money on books, products, and programs designed to help them. When we see how they occupy their time, little has been spent on physical activity, making lunches to take to work, exploring techniques on controlling their stress eating, or adopting other healthy behaviors. This indicates where we need to focus our work together. You develop self-respect when you make your actions line up with your values. I’m sure you are familiar with the saying, “actions speak louder than words.” Remember these words when you are dealing with others and forging relationships with friends, business partners, and especially yourself. Remember to examine your actions realistically. When your words and actions agree, your sense of purpose will be clearer and you’ll find fulfillment.

Expect an Extraordinary Life
Everyone desires fullness of life. Living with purpose and passion is at the heart of every man and woman, but so often we settle for less. When you spend most of your time working at your priorities you will find it easier to live with purpose and passion. When you are wasting time being driven by unfulfilled needs or simply living on auto-pilot (driven by old patterns and habits), it is difficult to be motivated and excited about your life. Part of choosing the path of extraordinary living is having a clear view of your priorities and spending the core of your life supporting those priorities. This takes conscious effort and decisiveness. The easy road is reacting to adversity merely to survive. Life becomes fulfilling when you expect more and choose to thrive, not merely survive. Only you can make that decision and only you can put in the work required to make the difference. The reward of facing each day with excitement and the thrill of thriving is worth the effort.

Thoughts for the Road
What activities are you involved in now that conflict with what is really important to you?

Creating Balance to Spend Your Time with Purpose


What could you do differently to change this? Explore all possibilities…no matter how far-fetched they may seem to you now.

Skills for the Road

Understanding the Physical


How Metabolism Really Works

Perspective has a lot to do with the nutritional choices we make. In my experience, it makes a huge difference when people look at food as fuel for their bodies. When you understand that food and drink are meant to nourish you, instead of being satisfaction for your hunger, food takes on a new meaning. Instead of making choices based on hunger, and what might taste good, consider first what would be beneficial to your health. The purpose of food is to meet nutritional needs so our bodies will function properly. Whenever you eat or drink, ask yourself, “How is what I am consuming nourishing my body?” This will start to get you on the right track. Selective eating can do wonders when you learn the basics about what your body needs. You will make educated, informed decisions about what you are willing to consume. Having a basic understanding of how carbohydrate, protein, and fat work is beneficial when choosing what to eat. Remember, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be rocket science. It is fascinating that many of the best-selling diet books include intricate explanations of the biochemistry and physiology of the reasons people are overweight and how to fix it. Most people reading these books have no knowledge of the physiology of the human body. Their lack of knowledge leaves them vulnerable to theories that sound believable if you are not an expert in the field of nutritional science. Unfortunately, most of the books, products, and theories are lies. These people are trying to sell a new gimmick or put a different spin on an old one. The average reader trying to be healthy may find it difficult to differentiate fact from fiction.



Weight Whys

Why Diets Fail
In the next two chapters, I will explain metabolism and nutrition based on my research and coaching others who have changed their lives. I encourage people to learn the principles of proper nutrition, rather than intricate systems of tracking or counting. One of the main reasons I see diets fail is that they are too complicated. Learn to integrate sound nutritional choices into your lifestyle, rather than using complicated devices that waste time and energy. Effort is required to learn about portion sizes, calories, and nutrients, but learning the basic principles of proper food selection is the key. As you develop these skills, each healthy decision you make becomes part of your overall healthy lifestyle, instead of a chore or a strict diet. The hard truth is that changing your metabolism requires work, patience, and time. You may not like this reality but it is imperative for you to accept it if you are to succeed at managing your weight. Advertisers would like to convince you otherwise. When is the last time you saw a commercial that promised you could increase your metabolism by taking a pill or drinking a diet product? (With a money back guarantee, of course.) The herbal products that are marketed as “natural” are selling for $100 a bottle. Understand it is possible to change your metabolism to its optimal level. The way to do so is with the appropriate eating and exercise habits. Before we explore what is right for you, you should have a clear understanding of what metabolism is and the variables that affect it.

Changing Your Metabolism Takes Time
When you decide to lose weight, be patient and understand that the process of changing your body on the inside takes time. Doing it right could change your life and get you off the cycle of yo-yo dieting (weight cycling) forever. If you’ve practiced weight management long enough you’ll understand how life-changing it would be to avoid the torture of gaining and losing weight. How would it feel to lose weight by training yourself correctly and never having to fret about it again? You would continue being health-conscious, as people of any weight should, but you would not have the stress of losing and gaining weight as you have in the past. Metabolism is the body’s rate at which it utilizes energy. We take in energy in the form of calories from food and drink. A calorie is a measure of energy. Our bodies require energy for each system that is functioning—from our voluntary movements, like walking or talking, to the involuntary movements of

How Metabolism Really Works


our hearts beating and our lungs allowing us to breathe. Our bodies use energy to function properly and the rest is stored as fat. It is clearly shown in metabolic research that no matter where the calorie comes from—carbohydrate, protein, or fat—the extra calories will be stored as fat. This contradicts diets you have seen that claim your body will store various foods differently. I have not seen this to be true. In the next chapter, you will learn to make decisions about carbohydrate, protein, and fat. It concerns the number of calories rather than the type of calorie. An interesting thing about metabolism is that everyone’s is different. I cannot look at someone and know what their metabolism is. There are some principles we can apply based on what we know about metabolism. These principles make a huge difference in changing your body into an efficient, energy utilizing, calorie-burning machine that uses your fuel the most effective way possible. We know the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism. It takes a substantial number of calories to sustain the energy required of one pound of muscle. Your body continuously uses energy in the form of calories. A pound of fat requires no energy to sustain it. It is self-sufficient and uses no calories to keep it “alive” and on your body. It isn’t necessary to be a body builder to get the benefit of increased metabolism. In a later chapter, we will cover ways to train your muscles. It is possible to strength your muscle fibers on the inside without “bulking up”. As we go into this chapter examining how to get the most from your metabolism, remember that everyone’s is different. The numbers you see on a chart or exercise machine to show how many calories you have burned are estimates. Other factors include your muscle mass and how much you weigh. If it is an exercise where you carry your own weight, such as walking, a heavier person will expend more calories than someone who is lighter. Instead of focusing on what your metabolism is, concentrate on manipulating yours to be as efficient as possible. It is the key to life-long weight management. An essential concept to managing your weight is that you must have optimal muscle mass. If you lose weight without increasing muscle mass, you are setting yourself up to fail. This is how millions of people lose weight and gain it back. They lose weight by temporarily reducing their intake of energy (calories), but do nothing to increase the rate at which their bodies use their calories (increase muscle mass). Weight loss of this kind is a double-whammy. People restrict their calories so severely that their metabolism slows even further because it runs into “starvation mode” to survive.


Weight Whys

Body Composition is What Matters
Body weight and body composition are key terms when looking at your body on the inside and how it relates to your metabolism. Body weight on the scale doesn’t register how much is muscle and how much is fat. Body composition indicates this insightful information. The most reliable ways to have your body composition measured are hydrostatic weighing (the gold standard), caliper testing, and a machine known as the “Bod Pod”. Muscle is denser than the fat and shows up as weighing more on the scale. We are made up of 100% of something. A certain percentage of that is fat and the rest is muscle mass (and what is called “fat-free tissue” such as bones, organs, and the like). Two people can each weigh 150 pounds, but one may have 15% body fat and the other 20%. The one with 20% body fat has less muscle mass (5% to be exact). This makes a difference in the number of calories their bodies require to perform everyday functions. Remember, the body with more muscle mass uses more calories; the one with less muscle and more fat requires fewer calories to survive. Taking your measurements, assessing your body fat, and weighing yourself are key in gauging how your body looks on the inside. A common mistake is using the scale as the only gauge of how your weight management journey is going. Some criteria are: how your body shape is changing, how your clothes fit, and other variables that indicate how you look on the inside. People do illogical, unhealthy things to decrease the number on the scale. Some of these include not drinking water or skipping a meal before weighing themselves. The lower number on the scale may give them a false sense of gratification, but does little to improve their health or long-term weight management. What happens when they eat lunch or drink a bottle of water? The number goes up. This doesn’t mean they have failed. This behavior has no place in proper weight management, since it contributes nothing to our healthy lifestyle.

Eating to Increase Metabolism
Eating every few hours is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism. Whether you feel hungry or not, your body needs fuel every three to four hours. One of the physiological reasons is that eating food keeps your insulin regulated. It is harsh on your body when you let your stomach become empty; your glucose stores get depleted and your blood sugar drops. Doing this repeatedly will send a message to your body that it must conserve calories

How Metabolism Really Works


because it’s unsure when it will be refueled again. Your body won’t burn calories as efficiently as it should when you are on this roller-coaster. The thermodynamic effect also helps our metabolism. This means when you eat or drink something, your body uses some calories to digest it. Every process that takes place in your body requires energy. Earlier, I mentioned that a calorie is a measure of energy. When you eat, your body uses calories to digest. Aside from these facts, one of the main reasons I advise you to eat every three to four hours is to moderate your hunger. You should never let yourself get so hungry that you cannot make rational food choices. It is common for people to let their blood sugar drop so low that by the time they eat, they are reaching for the closest thing that is edible. It could be cookies from the vending machine, snacking on corn chips while they are making dinner or fast food from the drive-thru because they will be too hungry to make dinner when they get home. This is where pre-planning comes into play. You must have a plan to fuel your body throughout the day, knowing each day is different. If you are going to a nice restaurant where you want to order prime rib, be sure to have a good breakfast and lunch. Breakfast might be high fiber cereal or whole-wheat toast and fruit. For lunch, you could plan a sandwich on whole wheat bread with carrots dipped in ranch dressing. The key is to be diligent in your food choices. A light healthy snack in the afternoon could keep you from being famished at the restaurant. Eat your vegetables and keep the alcohol to a minimum. Remember, alcohol has calories that should be factored into the equation. Also, your prime rib night is not the best time to have a big dessert. If you order chicken or fish, you can reward yourself by sharing dessert with someone. If you don’t share, remember you don’t have to eat the whole thing.

Breakfast is Crucial to Increase Metabolism
Skipping breakfast is a sure way to slow your metabolism. You are saying to your body, “Be awake and function, but I am not going to give you fuel to do it.” Glucose is our primary, preferred fuel the body uses for all its functions, even thinking. Your brain doesn’t function well, and you may get headaches or impaired memory when you haven’t eaten enough food, particularly carbohydrates. When you wake from a night’s sleep, remember your body has been fasting since the last time you ate, which was eight or more hours ago. It’s true that your body will go into “starvation mode” when you fast too long. If you do not give your body enough calories, your metabolism will slow


Weight Whys

down to conserve. I have worked with many people who have given their bodies such misguided messages regarding their metabolism. It takes years to repair it. Your body needs to be fueled with something nutritious two hours or so after you wake from your night’s sleep (breakfast). If you are not a “breakfast person”, this may mean just eating fruit and toast in the morning. But, your body needs nutrients to fuel your activities. When you wake, you are “glucose depleted”, meaning that the immediate store of glucose (blood sugar) that your body had when you went to sleep is low. Your body used glucose all night for fuel to perform the involuntary bodily systems that run while you sleep. The energy it takes to keep your heart beating, your lungs breathing, and your brainwaves going, requires glucose you get from carbohydrates. Research shows that testing a person’s metabolism in the lab after a night’s sleep, it runs slower if they have not eaten breakfast. When you eat breakfast, it kicks your metabolism into gear giving it the message that it is time to work. The key is to have a nutritious and healthy breakfast with calories from nutrients that will benefit you. It is a mistake to make food choices based on hunger and satisfaction because the foods you desire might not be nutritiously sound. Have a waffle with sugary syrup or a doughnut for a treat occasionally, but a good breakfast consists of healthy doses of fiber and vitamins. Breakfast is a great opportunity to get fiber from a high-fiber cereal (bran or grains) or whole-wheat toast and fruit. Good choices are cottage cheese with peaches, or butter (used sparingly) and jelly on toast. If you are getting fiber and being conscious of your portion sizes, you are doing great. (See Appendix C for examples of high fiber, caloriesmart food and drink choices).

Combating the Aging Process
The aging process is one reason your metabolism changes. Our bodies naturally lose muscle mass each year (starting around thirty years old). Muscle mass affects your metabolism. As muscle mass declines, the speed of your metabolism will decline. Many people in their thirties and forties come to see me for wellness coaching because they are gaining weight and don’t understand why or what to do about it. When they tell me about their health history (information I always get when coaching) the typical scenario includes recent history of unhealthy dieting behaviors like fasting, skipping breakfast, cutting down carbs, and a short stint of exercising.

How Metabolism Really Works


They may have noticed their body changing after gaining ten pounds, followed by unhealthy weight loss behavior, and frustration when they could not lose it and keep it off. Unfortunately, over time ten pounds turns into fifteen, twenty, and so on. This scenario is common because people do not understand the role of muscle mass and energy within the process of metabolism. When you skip meals, avoid carbohydrates, or don’t ingest enough calories for your body, the result is a decrease in muscle mass. If you have not ingested enough calories (energy) to perform the physical work you desire, your body will not burn fat (as some “experts” may have told you). Instead, it will start to burn muscle. To understand this process, let’s examine the extreme calorierestriction practice of an anorexic. Autopsies of anorexics reveal that their heart muscles and other muscles erode. This causes their hearts to function abnormally, which is what leads to their death. When you do not get enough fuel, it is stressful on your body. Many people I coach have told me they’ve done this in the past to lose weight. Sadly, they don’t realize until after the fact they have programmed themselves to fail. As a result of the calorie-restricting, they lose weight and then gain back more because they have lost muscle mass and lowered their metabolism. The good news is that you can control the rate at which this aging process of losing muscle mass occurs. If you are exercising consistently, doing weight bearing aerobic exercise and strength training, you are doing wonders to control the decrease of muscle mass. The optimal way to do it is to begin your regular exercise program before you lose much muscle, but it’s not too late if you haven’t started yet. You will be amazed to see how a body can be transformed from very little muscle, and lots of fat, to nicely toned muscles and a healthy amount of fat. The main ingredient in developing the healthy body composition I describe is not easy to achieve. It’s called consistency. It is easy to get excited about an exercise program or buy a new contraption from an infomercial. The tough part is motivating yourself after the newness has worn off and you don’t feel like doing it anymore. It’s only when you press on that you will realize the fruit of your efforts. It typically takes at least three months for your body to show the results of exercise. There are many physiological and neuromuscular changes that take place when you are on a consistent exercise routine, but most people tire of their program and stop before these changes occur. From research of positive effects from physical activity—walking, biking, strength training, and the like—it is clear that exercise must be performed consistently (at least three


Weight Whys

times week over a period of months) to have a significant impact. The changes that occur in blood chemistry (increase in HDL “good” cholesterol, decrease in triglycerides and fasting glucose levels, and decrease in blood pressure) take two to three months to occur.

It is Possible to Change Your Metabolism
The question arises, is it possible to change your metabolism? The answer is yes. But, there is no avoiding the fact that it requires time and effort. It may be confusing because there are so many messages to mislead you. They tell you it is not time and effort that are required, but $150 a month for a supply of the latest and greatest diet pills, a new, scientific discovery based on the most advanced technology. Based on my knowledge of how the human body works, and how these supplements and medications function for weight loss, there is no way for them to work without having a negative effect on your body. When your metabolism has been damaged from negative diet behavior and/or lack of activity it takes months of practicing your new, healthy behavior to regulate itself. While you may have a genetic predisposition for slower metabolism, more fat cells, or larger fat cells, you must control these factors through your environment. There is absolutely no denying that lifestyle choices have a significant impact on your weight. You must focus on being your best. This will require disciplined decision-making and careful self-evaluation. Improving your behavior and exploring what needs to change will get you closer to your personal best. That is one of the challenges with weight management. Push yourself toward achieving higher standards, or you’ll get stale. That’s why I’m telling you, it’s a journey. Once you have a regular exercise routine and make nutritionally-sound decisions most of the time, it becomes a lifestyle rather than something you convince yourself to do. Motivate yourself to continue when there are changes or intrusions in your life. A key to success is to develop the discipline of focusing on being your personal best. As you progress, your personal best will improve and in the process, you will be getting better.

Unhealthy Claims to “Increase Metabolism”
Most people don’t realize that supplements, herbal and otherwise, and other weight loss drugs can be harmful to your weight loss effort and, more impor-

How Metabolism Really Works


tantly, your health. The stress they create on the body by increasing your cardiovascular and central nervous system can affect you long after you stop taking them. Half of these drugs work by speeding up your heart rate and raising your blood pressure; the other half don’t work at all. Another popular means of losing weight is the liquid diet method. There are medically supervised programs (they periodically monitor you to make sure you’re not doing too much damage to your organs) and store-bought brands you can do on your own. My experience with people who have used either or both methods is that they lose weight on the plan (because they are restricting calories), but regain it, plus more. They regain more weight than they lost because a loss of muscle mass occurs with severe calorie restriction, as I mentioned earlier. It is also due to their metabolism slowing down from getting fewer calories in a short time than their body is used to. This calorie-restriction technique is a form of fasting. Your body senses that and will slow your metabolism in response to the fast. The metabolism slows to accommodate the number of calories you get. Problems occur when your caloric intake returns to normal. There are also fewer calories and significantly less fiber to digest when you are eating all of your food in liquid form.

Teach Your Body to be a Calorie-Burning Machine
The goal is teaching your body to be a calorie burning machine by eating foods that are nourishing to your cells. You should not trick your body into digesting foods that are unnatural, and then ignore the signs that your body is hungry. Ask people how they feel on these diets and they will tell you they feel starved all the time. That’s because they are. I do not usually encourage relying on feelings to make decisions, but there is something wrong when you feel physiological hunger every day. That is your body’s natural cry for whole food. Our job is to determine how to distinguish that physiological sense of hunger from the psychological one. The physiological one is a positive messaging system that tells us when our body legitimately needs fuel. The psychological one is more of a mental signal for hunger that may stem from your mind or heart. It may be an unmet emotional or spiritual need. It may be a response to seeing an outside stimulus, like an ice cream commercial, or doing an activity that you associate with eating, like watching television.


Weight Whys

To achieve a healthy lifestyle, learn to distinguish these physiological and psychological hungers. You can make a rational decision when to eat. I have not seen that being on a liquid diet, or any other “diet,” has taught anyone much about themselves in this area. We need to look at why you do what you do and find motivation for changing it. Be a healthy person because you value your life and want to treat your body right. This doesn’t mean never eating in response to your psychological hunger, but it does mean learning to balance it. If you make a habit of satisfying your physiological hunger with nutritious foods, you won’t have a problem eating junk food. When you are eating nutritious foods that are high in fiber, they will not leave you much room for junk. You can eat junk when you feel like it without hurting your overall health. Healthy people understand and are honest with themselves to ensure that most of the choices they make are with their health in mind. Designing a plan to increase your metabolism while you lose weight can be significant for life-long weight management success. Yet, it is often the most neglected part of a weight management program. The focus is on losing the most weight in the shortest time. This is appealing because we like instant gratification. We feel good when we can achieve a so-called “goal” in a specific amount of time. We revel in the accolades of those who praise what a great job we did. Conversely, how does it feel when you regain the weight? It’s frustrating when old habits return and you tell yourself: “You don’t have control. You were meant to be overweight. You will always struggle with your weight.” What else do you tell yourself about who you are? What results has it gotten you so far?

Make Decisions with Your Wellness in Mind
Use positive affirmations about your health and weight and see how much easier it is to make decisions with your wellness in mind. Focus, plan, and use self-control to make it happen. During your weight-loss journey, being thoughtful and wise about your metabolism can help secure your success. Think through and develop a game plan that includes looking at your overall wellness.

How Metabolism Really Works


Thoughts for the Road
What have you done in your past weight loss efforts that may have negatively affected your metabolism? What must you do differently this time to turn your body into a calorie burning machine? What do you tell yourself about your weight loss efforts? Write some positive statements about your health and weight management journey.

Nutrition for Normal People

People become overweight for one reason—they eat more calories than their bodies need. It’s not because they are a certain blood type or they aren’t combining the right protein with the right carbohydrate. It’s not because they don’t drink enough water to flush their fat out or because they have an “overactive stress hormone” that makes them store more fat. It’s because they are taking in more energy (calories) than their bodies are expending through metabolism and physical activity. No matter what you may have heard to the contrary, it is a scientific fact you are overweight because you are taking in more calories than your body needs to survive. I call this chapter “Nutrition for Normal People” because no one has to be on a special “diet” or do anything complicated to attain a healthy weight and manage it. There are some elementary principles you need to understand regarding what you are eating and what it’s doing (or not doing) for you. Until you perceive your nutritional program as part of your overall healthy lifestyle (instead of a diet you are “on” or “off”), you will not be able to maintain weight loss. The key to healthy eating is to think of food as fuel. Understand that the primary purpose of food (and drink too) is to supply nutrients to your body. Logically, most of the food and drink we ingest should contain nutrients to serve that purpose. The other factor involved in choosing what you eat and drink is taste and how it is going to satisfy you. Ensure that the pleasure factor is secondary and keep a healthy balance with it. The primary reason for your food and drink choices should be guided by what it does nutritionally. Before you eat or drink

Nutrition for Normal People


anything ask yourself, “What is this doing for me?” If it’s a piece of birthday cake or dessert, the answer is going to be: “It isn’t doing anything good for me. I’m eating it because I like it.”

Discipline Your Food Choices
I have coached clients who have no discipline. They make most of their nutritional decisions based on how hungry they are and what they feel like eating, instead of engaging any health-conscious thought before acting. That is what I perceive to be people’s biggest challenge with nutrition. If we work on that and get better about asking what this is doing for me we have made progress. Occasionally eating non-nutritional foods is all right, but you have to acknowledge the fact. Be honest with yourself admitting it is a treat, not your normal way of eating. If you are being nutritionally wise most of the day, it shouldn’t matter if you want to have cookies after dinner or treat yourself to ice cream. Be sure you are being health-conscious about your choices and looking at the big picture. As I mentioned before, don’t have bacon and eggs for breakfast on a day you are going to a barbeque. Instead, have bran cereal, a banana and toast, or a similar nutritious food. Another factor to consider is regulating your portion sizes. Using this same example, you may be used to eating two hot dogs and potato chips at the barbeque. Have one hot dog, a smaller handful of chips, and green salad. You could bring a bowl of green salad for everyone, if there’s not typically one there. Use any dressing you want without saturating your lettuce in it. Choose darker greens like romaine or spinach leaf instead of iceberg (which is mostly water). Don’t overindulge. Keep your focus on socializing and activities instead of the food. Eat breakfast and lunch so you don’t go there starving. Enjoy your time without obsessing over the food. Avoid broadcasting you are “on a diet” or feeling guilty afterward because you overate. Is that what you used to have to do before, when food was constantly on your mind, for you to feel like you had any control over it?

Eat for Your Health
Focus on eating for your health and preventing disease. I know this from working with many people who have been successful at losing weight, keeping it off, and improving their physical and emotional health in the process. Don’t concentrate on what you need to eat or do to lose weight; think about what


Weight Whys

you need to eat and do to be healthier. Focusing on the positive and being results-minded will bring you the success that seems beyond your imagination. Over the years I have learned everyone is individual in their lifestyles and eating behavior. It is impossible to expect everyone to follow the same eating program. What happens with structured eating programs is that people get excited and follow them in the beginning, but then life happens. Things get in the way—going out to dinner, going on vacation, becoming bored, not having the freedom to make your own choices. All these reasons get in the way. I’m not going to do that to you. I have coached and taught many people who ask for a meal plan or program to follow. I would be doing a disservice to them if I did. I avoid “programs in a box” because I know they are likely to fail long-term. Creating diets, complex meal combinations, and programs may be what sells books, but it’s not what helps people become healthier. One program will not work for everyone. My goal when I start coaching someone is to convince them to honestly look at what they are doing now and then get them going in the right direction. I cover basic nutritional concepts with them. I encourage them to examine their own behavior and consider what they would like to change. Think about your life as you read the following list. Check the areas you are doing well in and commit to working on the rest. • Limiting junk foods to one or two per day.—Foods with no nutritional value. Packaged foods like chips, cookies, baked goods like doughnuts, cakes, and pies. • Eating enough fiber.—Mostly found in fruits and vegetables (at least five servings per day), and whole-grain foods. 25—35 grams per day is recommended for most adults. • Restricting “fast food” to one or twice a month (if at all).—Clients will tell you there are lower-calorie options at these fast food “restaurants”, but I have never worked with anyone who was successful at improving their health, losing weight, and maintaining it, who frequented fast food places. If you are used to driving through and ordering a large hamburger, fries, and soda, there is no way you can switch to a salad and water for long without being tempted. It’s easy to get 3,000 Calories (two days worth) in one fast food meal. My advice is to stay away. Going once a month may be all

Nutrition for Normal People


right, but a deli or other healthier take-out food place would be a much better option. • Drinking alcohol and other high-calorie beverages in moderation.—These calories must be factored into your big picture. People think because it’s liquid, the calories don’t count. Most alcoholic drinks can range between 150 and 350 calories and can be as fattening as dessert. You may have heard that moderate drinking (of red wine particularly) can be good for you. That is a matter of opinion. We don’t know exactly why it may be good for you. Perhaps, there is an element in the wine (also found in grapes) or possibly the individual who drinks wine with dinner may have a decreased stress level. We will cover stress and the effect it has on your health in a later chapter. Most importantly about alcohol is to ensure that you factor in the calories and are realistic in measuring the serving size. People will often calculate the calories of a six-ounce glass of wine, when they are consuming ten ounces, and then they become frustrated about why they aren’t losing weight. Alcohol is also a mind-altering toxin that can damage the body if it’s overused, but we’ll talk about that later. • Limiting saturated fat and sugar.—Saturated fat is found in animal based products (see Appendix D to learn how to read a food label) and sugar is often added to foods to enhance their taste. • Eating the appropriate number of Calories.—See Appendix E to determine yours. • Eating every 3 to 4 hours to fuel your body properly. • Moderating portion sizes.—Everyone has a different idea of what a portion should be, based on their current habits, hunger level, and how they were raised. My advice is to determine how many calories are contained in the food you eat and how it fits into your daily caloric intake. For example, if you look up an eight-ounce piece of beef in a nutritional book and they estimate it is 700 calories, determine what percentage of your daily calories that is. Then, you can logically decide if you want to eat the whole steak. Perhaps, you may eat half of it and have more salad and vegetable to balance it.


Weight Whys

Eating Right Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
I am a firm believer that eating right is not a difficult practice. You should be thoughtful of what you are consuming and what your habits are. You should not have to carry a calculator to tell you what you can and cannot eat. Don’t be compulsive about counting everything. I have worked with many people who changed their nutrition gradually by working basic principles into their lifestyle—limiting soda or alcohol intake and increasing fruits and vegetables, for example. The fruits and vegetables principle is amazing to see in action because it has many positive effects. The difficulty is disciplining yourself to make it happen. Fruits and vegetables are typically lower in calories than any other food snack. Eating them instead of other foods is a step in the right direction. Another benefit is that people do not typically overindulge on fruits or vegetables (because of their high fiber content). You may have heard how too much sugar from fruit is not good for you. I have to say…I have never seen anyone become overweight because they overate fruits and vegetables. I’m using these guidelines to direct your behavior and to educate you on how your body works. This will help you to achieve success in managing your weight. The trick is to stick to the guidelines and use them to change your daily behavior. Do some background research to get an accurate picture of what your life is like now. I encourage you to weigh some of your food and look up caloric values to see what portion sizes you are used to eating. If you get an idea of your patterns, you’ll learn what you have to change. Many people are surprised when they calculate their intake and discover they have been ingesting 3,000 calories a day, when maybe their body needs 1,500. Add to that the fact that they are not regularly exercising and it’s easy to see why they are gaining weight. Being overweight is your body’s way of telling you there is an imbalance between you food intake and your physical activity. Instead of taking a pill, trying to trick our body into burning fat, listen to it and respond wisely, mindful of our health instead of focusing on the weight. Excess weight is the result of poor health habits manifesting themselves physically. The same is true for high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol. The condition is not the problem. It is the behavior that leads to the condition that must be changed. It is difficult to be your personal best when you are plagued with aching joints and struggle climbing a flight of stairs. Life doesn’t have to be this way.

Nutrition for Normal People


Pay attention and be health-conscious when choosing what you consume. It shouldn’t be complicated. It’s only food.

Develop Your Personal Eating Plan
Your personal lifestyle and schedule play a role in your eating game plan. People who work late or have a schedule that makes it convenient for them to have dinner just before bedtime often ask me what to do in this situation. Remembering the principle to fuel your body every three to four hours, you shouldn’t be going into this meal starving. However, if the choice is eating late or not eating, my advice is to eat late. On the days you expect to eat late, it would be wise to have your larger meal at lunchtime, and then have a light dinner. One suggestion would be to eat half the entrée and more vegetables. People who eat moderately before dinner will burn those calories the next day. They won’t necessarily be stored as fat because you are eating them before bedtime. I would rather see you eat something nutritious than prolonging your overnight fasting state. It takes careful planning, having the right information, and thinking ahead. Examine your daily schedule and then make your eating decisions based on that information. At the start of each day, think about where you are going to be for lunch and dinnertime, what foods will be available, and what your role will be to ensure health happens. You can do it, but, you must make your health a priority by doing things differently. Until your new habits become natural, begin developing a game plan that works. Do you need to write it the night before? Is it enough to visualize the game plan? You will discover you will have to make further decisions like, should you make your lunch and pack your snacks the night before? Should you wake up earlier to make time for breakfast? Do you need to make food over the weekend for leftovers during the week? I can’t give you a meal plan to follow. Your unique answers to these questions will dictate your course of action. No matter what your situation, you have control over your choices and you can make changes to become healthier. It’s within your control. This may be a revelation if you are accustomed to blaming your situation on circumstances.

Discipline + Accurate Information = Success
Since we have developed a relationship, can I tell you a secret? Most people would like to eat high fat, high calorie foods rather than broccoli or spinach. Does that surprise you? Does it surprise you that most people would rather


Weight Whys

have a doughnut than grape-nuts for breakfast or chocolate instead a banana for a snack? That’s where discipline is needed. Discipline involves doing what’s best for you rather than what you feel like doing. I realize that along with discipline, you also need to be armed with accurate information about what is healthy. People on liquid diets for example, may demonstrate discipline, but they have been misinformed about what they should do to lose weight and keep it off in a healthy way. You can make some conclusions about food by using common sense. For example, you don’t have to be a nutritionist to guess that soda, coffee, chips, and cookies are not good for you. Few people eat these foods thinking they are doing something good for their bodies. Some fool themselves into believing that eating low fat ice cream, cookies, and the like, means they can eat as much as they want without hurting themselves. Whether you are eating low-fat ice cream or a “real” ice cream, admit this is a treat, and it’s contributing nothing but some calcium and a ton of calories. As long as the treats are in moderation and it fits into your big picture, no harm done. When learning about nutrition, remember that food not only supplies energy, but also necessary vitamins and minerals. Taking a regular multivitamin is good for most people, but there are some things your body needs that you cannot get from a pill. Our bodies are so beautifully complex, absorption is more efficient when eating a whole food rather than taking a pill. Without getting too technical, it is amazing how foods are made (especially fruits and vegetables) with vitamins in them that help with the absorption of each other. The antioxidants and phytochemicals in whole foods cannot be replicated in a pill the way our body responds to them in whole food. When you look at the nutritional value on the back of a vitamin bottle, it indicates that one pill contains certain percentages of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), but it is hard to tell what percentage of these nutrients is going to be absorbed. When it reads 100% or 120% of a nutrient, that doesn’t mean you can take the pill for your entire vitamin intake and not concern yourself with getting any from real food. Another area that people are often misinformed is being able to determine what they need concerning carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Most foods are made up of all three categories, but they are labeled as what the highest content is. You don’t need to know how to classify everything. For example, there are many people on “low carbohydrate” diets who think vegetables are protein. Vegetables are not only proteins. They are classified as carbohydrates; most are complex carbohydrates to be exact. What you should learn are the number of

Nutrition for Normal People


calories of the various foods you commonly eat and what nutritional value they are giving you for the cost of the calories. Eating complex carbohydrates usually gives you more bang for your buck—few calories, lots of vitamins/minerals, and lots of fiber to fill you and protect your body against cancers and disease. See Appendix C for examples of what foods fit in this category, but fruits and vegetables are a great way to go any time. Even if you put fat on it, some butter on a potato or dressing on salad, it’s still nutritionally sound. I have talked to people who don’t want to eat potatoes or corn because they are convinced they are going to “turn into fat.” As long as you are not overeating these foods—meaning portion sizes and the number of calories they contain—you will not become overweight by eating these types of carbohydrates. Potatoes and corn have wonderfully nutritious vitamins and are a source of fiber. These foods should not be eliminated from your diet. They are good for you.

Physical vs. Psychological Hunger
One issue that can be tricky is how to use hunger as a gauge for what or when to eat. My philosophy is that just as thirst is a poor gauge for measuring our hydration level, hunger is not a good gauge in determining when we should eat. Many of you may be thinking, “Is Cheri telling me I am supposed to eat when I am not hungry?” My answer is “yes.” You may not like the sound of this, but hear me out and you’ll see the logic. This is a two-fold issue. First, I have coached some who tell me, “I am not a breakfast person. I am not hungry in the morning.” Some have told me they don’t get hungry until lunchtime. This means that if they eat at 12:00 noon and they last ate at 10:00pm the night before, their body has been fasting for fourteen hours. Do you know what that does to your metabolism? It slows down. Doing that enough times creates stress on the body and slows the overall metabolism, making it difficult for your body to know how to regulate calorie burning properly. Since hunger is both a physical phenomenon and a psychological one, using hunger as your primary gauge of when to eat is a problem. Waiting until we are hungry leaves little time to make a controlled decision before eating. Most people do not plan what they are going to eat until when they are feeling hungry. In this situation, they are apt to choose what is convenient and desirable than what might be the best nutritional choice. I advise you to make your lunch a few hours after breakfast, even though you may not


Weight Whys

be hungry yet. This will give you time to make your sandwich, decide on fruit, maybe put a few potato chips on your plate, and pour a glass of milk before hunger pulls your inhibitions down. You will hear many different theories about nutrition. Mine comes from experience in coaching people and understanding that a rational decisionmaking process must happen with everything we eat if we are to be healthy. Also, understand that our emotions are a wonderful part of who we are and they serve us well if we can control them. It is not wise to put ourselves in the situation where the psychological or physical state of hunger determines when or what you eat.

Examine Your Relationship with Food
We all have a relationship with food. You must evaluate what makes you uncomfortable or what may be hindering your weight management efforts. Common unhealthy behaviors I’ve seen are: sneaking food (being secretive and/or lying about what you eat), overeating not to offend someone else, or insisting that others eat food you’ve made when they are not hungry. We are all guilty of this behavior at times. Be sure these tendencies fit into the spectrum of what you want your relationship with food to be. You may discover things about yourself and others when you evaluate your relationship with food. Maybe you cook well and feel a compulsion to feed people to express your love. This can be a wonderful quality. Communicating through food is accepted among many cultures—an example is making cookies to show someone we care. The problem is being out of balance and in an unhealthy place on the spectrum. If you feel offended or rejected when the food you prepare isn’t overeaten, your relationship with food is out of whack. If a family member or co-worker persists about “just trying some” and you refuse because you are not hungry, you may need to confront them about it. Badgering, even if well meaning or unintended, can challenge your weight loss effort, and you don’t need any more obstacles. If someone is really a friend and cares about you, they will understand if you explain that you are trying to change your lifestyle and become healthier. Tell them you would appreciate not being pressured or asked repeatedly when you refuse. Be on the lookout. When you are changing your lifestyle to include healthy choices, the people around you who are continuing to make poor choices may not appreciate, and may even feel threatened by your recent change. Remember that just because

Nutrition for Normal People


you have changed, what everyone else does is their business. Avoid telling other people what to do.

What You Eat is Your Own Business
It’s fascinating to see how overly concerned some people are with what others eat. I have seen this work both ways, with overweight people ridiculing what a “skinny” person will put on their plate as well as slimmer people who talk about how an overweight person is eating. What you eat is an individual choice. You don’t know what that person has eaten the rest of the day or what their lifestyle is like. Keep your mind on your own food and your own choices, and assert yourself when someone oversteps their boundaries concerning you. I have often seen a doting family member or friend make comments that will cause animosity in the person who is trying to lose weight, making it harder for them to own their decisions and change their behavior. It’s one thing to talk with a loved one about how their choices may be negatively affecting their health; it’s another thing to nag someone or make them feel bad about what they’re eating. Negative reinforcement does not encourage others to change. People change when they set their hearts and their minds to it, and are armed with the right information.

Thoughts for the Road
What areas of good nutrition are challenging for you? Are your eating habits influenced by your emotions? What change could you make to eat for better health? Commit to yourself to make at least one positive change this week.

The Miraculous Power of Exercise

You have the ability to train your body to be healthier and fit. The human body is marvelous at responding to positive stressors (such as exercise training) and become stronger and better. You have probably seen elite athletes whose bodies are perfectly trained—little body fat, sculptured muscles, agile, coordinated, and having balance. The beauty of the human body is that there is a spectrum to which this physical training can occur. The elite athletes you see on television are at the extreme end of the spectrum—no doubt playing endless hours of their sport and complimenting it with a strength training and stretching program to keep their bodies ready to perform. For the rest of us who are trying to keep our hearts healthy and our bodies in shape to perform daily activities, a moderate amount of physical training is required. Look at physical activity as keeping your body in training to perform for the rest of your life. You should always think of yourself in training, no matter what result you are seeking. If people have physical limitations, they might train to accomplish a specific task. An example would be a client who cannot get in and out of the car or bathtub without straining and being in pain. We may develop a training program that will get them riding a stationary bike to lose weight. Next, we would design balance and strength training exercises to build their muscles. The focus is on training them to make these everyday tasks easier. Many people are limited from doing what they want because they are not physically able. It doesn’t have to be this way. Unless your body has a permanent disability, it

The Miraculous Power of Exercise


will respond to the proper physical training program in a way you never imagined possible. Understanding how this training works is often helpful to keep people motivated. People often start on an exercise program and their motivation fades when they do not see immediate results. Understand that the body will respond to being physically challenged by exercise, but you must be consistent with your training. You must also give your body time to adapt to the physiological changes that occur. Everyone is different, but a good rule of thumb when starting an exercise program is to allow your body about three months to respond. We will cover in detail the physiological and structural changes that will take place. In the beginning, don’t expect much while your body is changing internally. Commit yourself to sticking to it for the long haul. Many people start a program and give up after one month, if they last that long. The effort it has taken for them physically and emotionally to do the work does not have an immediate payoff. They don’t understand how exercise training works and they are disappointed that their expectation doesn’t match up with reality. As a result, they decide it is not working for them and they quit.

Strive to Be Physically Fit
Being physically fit is not just about looking good in a bathing suit. If it is more about vanity for you, at least keep a healthy perspective. There is nothing wrong with caring what you look like, as long as you avoid risky behavior. Starving yourself to lose weight doesn’t make you any healthier than someone who has twenty extra pounds. My concern, which should also be yours, is being physically fit. As I mentioned, your body should not prevent you from reaching your goals. Often, people have deep-rooted goals and dreams they want to fulfill, but they are hindered by their weight struggle to the point that they don’t know how to free themselves. That’s part of the journey. Work on the weight and we’ll talk about that other stuff later. Who would you be if you didn’t worry about your weight? What would you do if you were in top physical condition and your body wasn’t a concern? Plant the seed in your mind to think about these questions. You may want to explore your mind and write your thoughts in your journal. Let me give you a statistic to write on your heart. Ninety-five percent of people who lose weight and keep it off for five years and longer have made exercise a consistent part of their lives. Did you get that? Ninety-five percent of the people who have done what you want to do have made it a point to


Weight Whys

exercise regularly. That means if you are planning to lose weight and keep it off, but don’t want to start an exercise program, you are giving yourself a five percent chance at success. Some of you may feel tempted to put yourself into that category of the five percent. Pick another challenge. If you are going to give yourself the best chance at success, regular exercise is part of the package. Besides managing your weight, there are other reasons why your body needs exercise. Being overweight is an outward sign that things aren’t going well on the inside. Being overweight should be a wake-up call that your life is out of balance and something needs to change. Remember, the key to high metabolism is to increase your muscle mass. Being physically active and challenging your body in a structured way is the only way to achieve that. You cannot do it by eating more protein or by taking a pill. Disregard any infomercial for an anti-aging pill that claims to increase your muscle mass. If they develop a pill that can manipulate aging muscles, it would be an element that affects your natural hormones. It would not be surprising if they discovered that users of such a pill had a higher incidence of cancer and/or heart problems. There is no avoiding the fact that our bodies naturally age. The rate at which the aging process occurs can be slowed down tremendously by the choices we make in our lifestyle. The only way to manipulate the aging process without having an adverse, unnatural hormonal effect (like cancer, heart problems, etc.) is by eating healthy (especially fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and being physically active. Others may disagree, especially if they are trying to sell their growth hormone pill, but I base my statements on my knowledge of how the body works and what I see in research. That is one reason there is such a passion in my heart to share this message of managing weight and improving health through natural means of eating better and exercising. Everyday I see people who are spending money, wasting time, damaging their health, and sabotaging their weight loss efforts by believing the lies of the weight loss industry. There are people who see weight loss as a sixty billion dollar a year industry and want to get a piece of it—don’t be naïve and susceptible to their ploys.

Exercise is Essential for Heart Health
Without a doubt, consistent cardiovascular exercise drastically reduces the risk factors of heart disease and stroke. Research shows that even if you are not exercising or eating well enough to lose weight, but are still doing cardio exer-

The Miraculous Power of Exercise


cise on a regular basis, you have a significantly reduced risk of heart problems and stroke. Here is a quick education on how the heart works and how cardiovascular exercise affects it. Cardio exercise can be defined as any aerobic physical activity that gets your heartrate up for five minutes or longer. Examples of aerobic activity include walking, riding a stationary or regular bike, swimming, and running. Various sporting activities (such as tennis) may also be considered aerobic as long as they keep your heartrate up consistently for the time you are performing them. With the tennis example, unless you are an elite tennis player, you would probably cycle from aerobic to anaerobic throughout a match. Sometimes your heartrate is up; sometimes it’s down and you’re more relaxed. With that said, tennis would not be highly effective as your sole means of aerobic activity for your exercise program. It might be a good crosstraining exercise, but you would need another activity—like walking or biking—the other days of the week to get the full physiological benefit of cardio exercise.

Physiology Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Cardio exercise works like a miracle in terms of what it does to the heart. When your body becomes “trained” from performing cardio activity on a consistent basis (usually about three times a week), we see that the heart increases what is called its “stroke volume.” Stroke volume is the amount of blood that is pumped out of the heart with each beat. If you have poor cardiovascular fitness, if you quickly become out of breath from going up stairs or walking briskly, your heart most likely does not pump out much blood with each beat (low stroke volume). This means your heart has to beat more times in a minute to meet the demand you place on it. When someone is “trained”, they pump a lot of blood with each beat, and it has to beat fewer times, resulting in less stress on the heart. This increase in stroke volume does not only mean that your heart has to beat fewer times when you are performing a challenging activity, but it also has to beat fewer times while you are at rest and your heart is beating to keep your body alive (and supplied with oxygen). The number of times per minute that your heart has to beat to keep you alive is called your resting heart rate. The better your cardiovascular fitness, the lower your resting heart rate will be. Your heart will not have to beat as many times in each minute to supply your body with the oxygen that it needs. This is a change you


Weight Whys

can usually see in a one to three month period after someone starts exercising. It is truly amazing how the body responds to physical activity. Another significant change that takes place is that the blood chemistry becomes more efficient in such a way that there is more oxygen carried through the blood itself. Keep in mind that the reason why our hearts have to beat is to transport oxygen (that’s in our blood) into our cells to keep them alive. This means that if the blood is more saturated with oxygen (which is what happens when we become “trained”) then a lesser amount of blood has to come out of the heart to meet your body’s regular oxygen needs. This is another reason why less blood has to come out of the heart (resulting in decreased resting heart rate) to keep your body alive. The fewer number of times your heart has to beat, the better.

Reduce Blood Pressure and Improve Cholesterol
Blood pressure, the force of the blood on the arterial walls, also decreases when a lesser amount of blood has to come out of the heart and your heart has to beat fewer times. A high force of blood (high blood pressure) can also wear out and damage the arterial walls over time, causing your body to deposit a glue-like substance, known as LDL “bad” cholesterol, over the tears to patch it. The problem then becomes when LDL cholesterol continues to be deposited on your arterial walls and builds up there. Not only does it narrow the passageway for the blood to flow through, it also hardens the wall so it is less flexible, and makes you susceptible to plaque (cholesterol buildup) breaking off and blocking the blood flow. This is what commonly happens when someone has a heart attack. A blood clot that happens in your carotid artery (leading up to the brain) is what causes a stroke. You may not be able to remember these details after reading this chapter, but you can see why the changes that occur in your body as a response to exercising are very real. Whatever your fitness level, you have the ability to train your body and improve your cardiovascular function. Whether the problem is high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or being overweight, I have never coached someone who did not have the ability to improve their cardiovascular fitness with the right exercise program. Another amazing change that cardio exercise gives is that it raises HDL “good” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is different than the LDL “bad” kind because the HDL’s function is to go through your arteries, scoop out the bad LDLs and remove them from your system (through the liver). So, the

The Miraculous Power of Exercise


more HDLs the better and cleaner your cardiovascular system is going to be. Some people may not see much of an increase in HDLs when they start their exercise program, but most people’s bodies respond to consistent exercise with an increase in HDL. The same is true for triglycerides, a fatty element found in our blood. Cardio exercise is known to reduce the triglyceride levels.

Type 2 Diabetes
A startling epidemic that has risen dramatically in the last decade is the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. Once referred to as “adult onset diabetes”, children are now being diagnosed with this condition in epic proportions. This increase in both children and adults with Type 2 diabetes is directly tied to the rate at which our society is becoming overweight. Inside your body, you have glucose in your blood (called “blood sugar”) that is carried into your muscles by insulin. Our muscles feed off glucose to survive. Insulin is like the boat that carries it from the bloodstream into the muscle. When you have Type 2 diabetes, your insulin is not working as it should. It is not bringing the glucose into your muscles. Glucose (sugar) builds up inside the bloodstream creating problems. We know definitely that your insulin function has a relationship with your activity level. When people do cardio activity their insulin sensitivity increases. This means that the insulin gets the message of what it’s supposed to do, and does it. If you already have Type 2 diabetes, and you exercise on a consistent basis, your insulin sensitivity will stay increased even when you are not exercising. As little as a thirty minute investment, three times a week, could potentially be enough to help keep your insulin sensitive and help manage your diabetes. If you are borderline diabetic or don’t have it, the fact that you are doing exercise can help to prevent this from happening. Research shows that even those who do not experience much of a weight loss as a result of their exercise program still experience this amazing effect of increased insulin sensitivity.

Improved Mental Health
The effect that aerobic exercise has on mental health is well-documented. There is overwhelming research that shows a subject’s mental outlook is more positive if they are exercising on a regular basis. Exercise positively affects people who are taking antidepressants and/or have a diagnosed mental condition. The endorphins and hormones that are released during exercise can be power-


Weight Whys

ful. Keep a record in your journal of how you think your exercise has affected your mental outlook.

Challenge Yourself
The frequency and duration of your exercise should be dependant on what you want to accomplish. Research shows you can get the positive physiological effects I describe in this chapter by doing cardio exercises (walking, etc.) three times a week, for thirty minutes each session. You may start at five or ten minute sessions, depending on your fitness level when you begin. Work on building up your cardiovascular fitness so you are able to do thirty minutes of moderate exercise without stopping. People usually do well increasing at five minute increments every two weeks. See Appendix F for a sample exercise program. Speaking as a health professional, my opinion regarding heart rate and the pace you exercise is simply to challenge yourself. When you maintain a pace that is challenging, you will feel your heart rate increase, your rate of breathing become faster, and you might sweat. Remember, for your heart and muscles to become stronger and better, you must challenge them during your workout. If you are doing exercises that are too easy, you might as well not be doing them at all. As you continue to exercise and your heart becomes more efficient, the workout you started with will probably be too easy for you. That’s the beauty of seeing and feeling your body improve with training. If you are developing an exercise program for weight loss, fat loss to be specific, you will need to work harder. Do as many days as you can (five days a week is best) while you are in weight loss mode. Continue doing thirty minutes a session (closer to an hour if you can), challenging yourself the whole time. Exercise five days a week only while you are losing weight. When you achieve your ideal weight, you will be in maintenance mode, for which the three day a week regimen applies. You shouldn’t have to do five days a week forever, except by choice. The other two components of exercise are strength training and stretching. The aging process changes your body in such a way that you lose muscle mass (strength) as well as the collagen in your joints that helps keep you flexible. Strength training and stretching can drastically slow the rate at which this aging process will happen. A consistent program can increase strength and flexibility you may have already lost. These two components are important for keeping you functionally fit and able to perform daily activities without caus-

The Miraculous Power of Exercise


ing injury due to lack of flexibility or not being strong enough. See Appendix F for samples and information on developing a complete exercise program. I advise people to start at the three days a week, create a habit of exercising and then progress to five days a week. Ensure that your perspective is right and you are looking at exercise as part of your lifestyle rather than a temporary weight loss program. It’s a bonus that you are not only expending calories while you exercise—you are also increasing your muscle mass and burning calories while you are sitting in your chair.

Be Determined
You may be asking yourself, “How will I find time to exercise?” I understand you are busy, but are you too busy to take care of yourself? If so, you are headed in the wrong direction. It’s your decision. People can accomplish great things when they are determined. I’ve seen people who overcome obstacles to achieve what they want. Make a commitment that no matter what gets in your way, you are going to make exercise happen for you. Make a decision. Create a game plan. Follow through. The hardest part is following through. As I write this book, it’s time away from my family and other things I love to do. It started with a dream to help people live healthier, fulfilling lives. You probably have a dream and a vision of what a healthy life might be like for you. We are in the same situation. The difference is that I am sitting down each week, spending the hours to write and putting in the effort to keep my life in balance. I am doing the tough part, which is following through. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and know in my heart that I could have done better, but I didn’t. I don’t want you to regret that you could have taken better care of yourself if you would have only taken the time. I have shown you information you can use to motivate yourself to get physically active. The actually doing is up to you.

Thoughts for the Road
What do you need to change so that you can fit in regular aerobic exercise? What health problems have you experienced from not being active eno ugh? Are you challenging yourself with your exercise program? If not, what is one activity you could start this week to get you going in the right direction? Remember, starting small is better than not at all.

Keeping Yourself Heart-Healthy

Being heart healthy should be your primary concern when it comes to taking care of your body. In the last chapter, we covered the miracle of exercise and how being active on a regular basis can keep your heart performing as efficiently as possible. When I am coaching a client, I focus on educating them about heart health. The risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, maintaining a healthy body weight, being active, etc. are important because they are factors in preventing that person from dying prematurely of heart dysfunction. I had a college professor who told us something I will never forget. That is—no one ever dropped dead of a weak thigh muscle. What she meant was that the heart muscle is the most significant part of the body, to be given the most attention. Strengthening your other muscles and maintaining flexibility and balance are important, but heart health is our foremost concern. If I could convince as many people who are concerned about their weight to shift their focus to improving their heart health, we would live in a different world. The incredible thing is that people wouldn’t have much of a weight problem either. Developing lifestyle habits to improve your heart health would improve the weight management issue one-hundred fold. I’ve seen people who, once they finally break free from the “lose weight” mentality and move toward the “get healthy” mentality, are able to change their bodies without the stress dieting can cause. In the last chapter, we covered physical activity and how it relates to heart health. Performing aerobic exercise consistently (usually three times a week for thirty minutes) works for most. This should be a lifestyle habit, not a short

Keeping Yourself Heart-Healthy


time practice to improve heart health and/or lose weight. Don’t expect dramatic change, outwardly or inwardly, until you have exercised consistently for three to six months. You have to give your body time for physiological effects to occur and to become “trained.” Youth is often forgiving when it comes to abusing your body. Getting older is not. Many younger people—in their teens and twenties—they can eat a horrible diet, lose sleep, avoid regular physical activity, high alcohol intake and stress, and have negligible effect to their bodies. If they continue with this behavior as they get older, they will often gain weight and experience physical symptoms, such as abnormal cholesterol or blood pressure. People see me for coaching because they want to know what to do to manage their weight. When they find out it’s their lifestyle that needs to change, they might not like that. Although thinking of the health risk of lifestyle behavior is not popular at first, they usually become open to changes once I tell them what their next step will probably be if they don’t. I explain to those who are younger (20’s, 30’s, 40’s) that if they ignore their weight gain and continue to practice unhealthy behavior, the next time they see me they may be ten pounds heavier and in need of medication for high blood pressure. This is often a pivotal time for them. Thankfully, most make some decision that will send them in the right direction. Age is not forgiving. Some don’t see the consequences of what they have done to their bodies with unhealthy food and not exercising until their fifties. I have seen this change dramatically, especially working with children and weight management. The high calorie foods combined with a less physically active lifestyle is bringing children in with high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids, and Type 2 diabetes. When you see this kind of health problem in a twelve-year-old, you can assume that you will see them in their parents as well. We may be a wealthy nation, but we are dying because of it. Something has to change to reverse the prevalence of clogged arteries and stress on your heart as it works harder than necessary. Learn how your body works and what you can do to bring your health to the optimal level.

Control Your Risk
The key to preventing heart disease and stroke is being aware of the risk factors and doing what you can to control them. The risk factors are listed in Appendix G along with questions to answer regarding your personal risk and details on what you may need to work on. One thing that puts you at higher


Weight Whys

risk is if you have a family history of heart problems or the various risk factors. While it is true that you may have a genetic predisposition for certain diseases, lifestyle habits have a lot to do with the status of your health. People constantly use this as an excuse for health problems, especially those who aren’t trying to do anything about it. When you are exercising consistently, eating a balanced diet, and being thoughtful about your emotional and spiritual health, but you have high blood pressure, it is likely due to your genetic predisposition. Even then, if you weren’t practicing healthy lifestyle behavior, your condition would probably be worse. You might need a higher dosage of high blood pressure medicine if you weren’t exercising regularly. When you know the risk factors and your family history, you will need to get screenings and take other preventive measures. Everybody has a story about Uncle Joe who had a potbelly, drank whisky every night, was a meat and potatoes guy, smoked a pack a day, and lived until he was ninety-five. Uncle Joe is definitely in the minority. Most people who live like that will be dead by sixty-five. Why gamble your life away just so you can eat doughnuts for breakfast and avoid exercise? We’ll cover that question in a later chapter. Unmanaged high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or triglycerides, and high blood sugar (Type 2 diabetes) are the main indictors that affect how hard your heart is working. Improving your eating habits and aerobic exercise has a positive effect on each of these areas. If you resort to medication (which may be necessary at first) to manage these conditions, you have to take a different medication for each one. There are people who take ten different medications every day because they don’t know or don’t care that getting on a walking routine might eliminate the need to do so. Most people don’t realize they can control these conditions. Others who are aware would rather take a pill than put the effort into doing anything about it. If I’ve described you, my intention isn’t to condemn, but rather to encourage you that you don’t have to live this way. The first step toward doing something about it is to accept ownership. Many people don’t want to own it. They would rather take the pill and pretend what they do doesn’t matter. It may require less effort, but it might kill you in the long run. Is that a fair trade off? The connection between high blood sugar (Type 2 diabetes) and heart attack is astounding. Eight out of ten people who have a heart attack or stroke have diabetes. If left undetected and untreated, it will kill you. Many people who have diabetes don’t know it. The only way to be sure is with a screening. The great thing about getting a screening now and having one every year or

Keeping Yourself Heart-Healthy


two (even if it’s in the healthy range) is that you can find out what your result is and know if you are borderline-high. That may motivate you to start being aggressive in changing lifestyle behavior. When you get a screening from your doctor or other source, you should know your actual result and the “healthy range.” For diabetes, the "healthy range" for a fasting blood sugar screening is 110 or below (100 or below if you are "high risk"). If your screening indicates you are 109, you may be told your screening is “normal.” Unless you inquire about the actual value, you will not be aware you are close to a “high” screening result. I see this more often with cholesterol results than glucose, but you get the point. You don’t want to rely solely on your physician to account for the condition of your body, especially when dealing with heart health. Learn what you need to know and keep an ongoing record of your results. Some ageappropriate medical guidelines suggest we do cholesterol and blood sugar screenings on people when they turn thirty-five. I, personally, find it interesting to have an early record of these screenings (maybe from their 20’s) to see what their “trend” has been over time. If I screen someone who registers high in an area, it’s easier to see if it is influenced by genetics or lifestyle if I have previous records to look at. Research shows that even a modest weight loss will significantly reduce your risk for developing most health conditions. As little as a five to ten percent weight loss does wonders for your physical health. Becoming fit is your primary goal, but the fact is that too much weight is not good for you. Figure out what five percent and ten percent of your body weight is. How hard do you think it might be to achieve that lose? When I coach someone who wants to lose weight, I encourage them to do the math on what five percent and ten percent of their current body weight is and pick one of those figures as their weight loss goal. I sometimes get resistance with this at first, because people often have a number of pounds in mind they want to lose. After I talk through my reasoning for this, they see the logic. In working with weight management, one of my biggest challenges is to get people to focus on their behavior instead of the number on the scale. So much marketing is done with pounds as the focus, it is difficult to change this mentality. I have found over time, it can be one of the most important things in determining long term success. If you are overly concerned about how many pounds you weigh, you will be tempted to practice unhealthy means to get to your target. If you are focused on practicing healthy behavior and improving your wellness, you will do the right things that will eventually result in a healthy weight on the scale. It really is that simple. I know it might sound


Weight Whys

scary because it goes against everything you may have done before with dieting. But, it’s time to try something different that will work and give you a better life in the long run.

Heart-Healthy Nutrition
As we covered in the nutrition chapter, eating as much fiber as you can (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and limiting your saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and sodium (salt) are very important. Alcohol also can have a significant impact on heart health because it can raise your blood pressure. You may have heard different things about how red wine may have a beneficial effect on preventing heart disease. Based on what I have seen in coaching, drinking one or two alcoholic drinks a few nights a week should not have a negative impact on your heart. Anything more could cause stress on your body and might have a negative impact on your emotional health and the relationships around you. When I am coaching someone, I like to know what their alcohol intake is and ensure they are comfortable with it and that it isn’t causing negative effects on their lives. In a later chapter, we will cover how much alcohol may be too much. For now, keep in mind that it usually increases your blood pressure and is loaded with empty calories.

Emotions and the Heart
Stress can also have an effect on your heart health. I’ve coached some who are doing everything right, but tend to have an anxious or angry personality that may be affecting their heart. This is commonly seen in high blood pressure patients. Experimenting with stress management techniques can produce positive results. We will talk more about stress management in a later chapter. I believe it can have a major impact on your overall wellness, not just your heart health.

A Word about Smoking
Although this isn’t a smoking cessation book, I will inform you about how it affects your heart health. Smoking drastically increases your risk for having a heart attack. Chemicals in the cigarette raise your blood pressure, while you are smoking and after. Smoking lowers the level of good “HDL” cholesterol in your arteries, and it makes your blood less oxygenated. In the previous chapter, I mentioned how aerobic exercise changes your body by putting more oxygen into your blood so your heart beats fewer times to meet your cells’ oxygen

Keeping Yourself Heart-Healthy


needs. The opposite is true if you smoke. When you smoke, elements from the cigarette enter your blood and take out the oxygen. Your cells still need an adequate supply of oxygen, so your heart has to beat more to compensate for this lack of oxygen in your blood. Smoking is an addiction. I used to smoke and I know how that feels. When people realize they are harming their bodies, it may help then quit smoking. Lung cancer is still the number one cancer killer in America, and most people who get lung cancer are or were smokers. You do the math. It’s a shame that people die so needlessly. Don’t let it be you. I’ve seen many people quit who put their mind to it and set up their environment to succeed. Since it’s not a necessity to have cigarettes around, get rid of them and avoid the temptation. The battle is in the mind. Nicotine withdrawal doesn’t last long. The challenge is in finding something else to do instead of smoking to make your cravings more manageable. If you set your mind to it, you can quit. Think about what might work for you. People who gain weight when they quit smoking usually do so because they use eating food as a substitute for smoking. You can avoid this by being aware of the potential and having healthy foods to snack on or water to drink while you are overcoming the habit. Realize this will be a challenging time and have patience with yourself.

You and Your Doctor
In talking about the different risk factors for heart disease, medication is sometimes recommended to control what may be out of the healthy range. The best person to discuss this with would be your Primary Care Physician. Your doctor should be someone you feel comfortable with to ask questions and who will be patient and forthright in giving you information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get details. Most doctors welcome their patients being active participants in their health care. You may want to write questions before you see your doctor to remind you what to ask. A good doctor will not be offended if you ask them to explain the suggestions they make. Keep in mind that although medications are sometimes necessary to control risk factors initially, that should not be your only means of trying to control the condition. Even though medications are wonderful at controlling the condition, they are foreign elements you are introducing into your body. Every medication has a side effect. It is a band-aid for your condition. The solution is to identify what can be done with your lifestyle to manage it and prevent it from becoming worse. Sometimes, people think that once they start taking


Weight Whys

pills to manage high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes that is the complete solution to the problem. What they don’t understand is if they don’t make a lifestyle adjustment to change, the condition will probably get worse. They will eventually have to increase their dosage and add other medications as their condition worsens.

Improve Your Quality of Life
Being heart healthy isn’t just something you do to keep yourself from dying. It’s something you do to improve your everyday life. How would it feel to no longer be short of breath when you have to hurry to meet someone? Can you imagine what your life would be like with no health limitations? Focus on the positive impact that taking better care of yourself will produce and it will be easier to do what it takes to get there. Keep your mind set on the positive results. Don’t let the thoughts come in that tell you it’s not possible or all the reasons why you can’t do it. Think about the things that will bring you closer to your goal. What we need to remind ourselves is that it’s not that hard. The fact is, our world is changing. We eat more junk, move less and we are paying the price. You need to practice basic principles of balance in caring for body, mind, and spirit. Then, everything will be as it should be and your life will be all the better for it.

Thoughts for the Road
Calculate 5% and 10% of your current body weight. If you are overweight, losing this amount could significantly improve your health. Have you seen your doctor (or health professional) for your basic screenings (see Appendix A)? Answer the questions in Appendix G to evaluate your heart disease risk. What is one change you could make this week to improve your heart health?

Setting Yourself Up for Success

To succeed in any endeavor, you must recognize what factors will contribute to a successful outcome. After identifying these things, you can manipulate them to give you the best possible chance for a glorious outcome. Before you identify your own, here are some ideas of what influences most people have in common. First, realize that success is affected by our physical environment, the people in our lives, as well as our own perspective and attitude. We have covered how to shape our thoughts, which heavily influence our perspective and attitude. What we need to talk about now is how to manipulate the rest of your life, as much as you possibly can, to make this health thing easier. The main environments we function in the majority of the time are usually home and work for most people. We want to think about how best to create situations where you have to rely on your willpower as little as possible. You can benefit from giving this some thought beforehand and working on solutions before you put yourself in the situation. Eliminate wasted energy trying to talk yourself out of things or struggling inside with choosing which is the right thing to do. When you are trying to change to become healthier, habits you were accustomed to must change. These may be habits you are so familiar and comfortable with. You want to make this as easy as possible. The rest of the time you will have to rely on willpower and discipline. You may have to grow up in terms of decision making and doing what is right and best for your health. Some people live as though they were children. I know if I were to let my kids eat whatever they wanted all day long, they would probably eat candy and potato chips and then come to me later complaining of an upset stomach.


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On a good day they’d mix in an apple or prunes (I’ve tried to train them right), but you get the picture. Invest what you can into making your environment conducive to success, but the rest is up to you.

Cleaning House
When considering how to set up the home environment, everyone is in a different situation depending on your circumstances. You may live alone or with your family, be the shopper and cook or just the one who eats the food, be on the go and eat most of your meals out. We are all in different situations, so pick the advice that is most helpful for you. Things are sure to change when you move your health higher up on the hierarchy of importance. The first task, no matter what your situation, is to remove anything from the house that is not contributing to a healthy lifestyle. This means throw it away. Throw away the three different kinds of cookies and potato chips, and leave one. Throw away your cigarettes. Throw away the sugar cereals and chocolate bars. Throw away the four different kinds of ice cream and just keep your favorite one. Throw away your soda (maybe just keep a few cans). Do the same at work, your office, at your desk, or wherever you spend your time. Get those candy bars out of your desk…yes, throw them away! The world will not end, I promise you. Don’t just clear out your cabinets. Replace the items with healthy choices. Buy frozen and canned vegetables, yogurt and fruit cups, granola, oatmeal, whole grain bread, good-for-you cereal with fiber (check the label), peanut butter and jelly for sandwiches, olive or vegetable oil for cooking (instead of butter), lots of water, and some fresh fruits and vegetables. Always have a supply of healthy foods on hand and a minimal amount of junk food for treats. Once a week you’ll have to go to the store for fresh fruits and vegetables and whatever else you need. The best thing to do nutritionally, and economically, is prepare most of your meals at home, if you can and make eating out less of a norm. Eating breakfast at home or in the car, packing a lunch and two snacks, and eating dinner at home works best of most people. It may be that you prepare your dinner on weekends and freeze it to heat up on a weeknight (spaghetti sauce, lasagna, tamales, chicken or turkey) if that is your busy time. Eating nutritious foods is much easier if you stop “winging it” and plan your meals ahead.

Setting Yourself Up for Success


Health is Doable
Before you get nervous realize that I am a busy person the same as you. I’ve taught and coached all sorts of people—professionals, parents, athletes, leaders, business owners—who are also very busy. I can assure you, this is doable. If done properly it will even make you more effective overall because your body will perform at its optimal level and you won’t be short on energy. This is the art of balancing your life. Nutrition has to be important to you. Fueling your body with the right foods must be a priority. The beginning will be the most difficult part because it will probably be much different than the way you are used to doing things. After you figure out what healthy foods you like and get on a routine, it will be more natural instead of being a chore or requiring as much thought process. Most people have a set breakfast, lunch, and snack routine rotating through a few different options and then use dinner for variety. Then mixing your day up occasionally—going out to lunch for example—is not that big a deal. My schedule, for example, varies each day. I have three small children (all under four years old). I do wellness coaching two days a week at an office away from home. The other days my kids and I are in and out of the house and our schedule varies somewhat each day. When I am at home, I have a certain eating routine. At work, I have another. I have learned to adjust to my schedule and environment to make sure I am prepared for the different circumstances of each.

Pursuing Balance
Another change came when I decided to write this book. The challenge of balancing my life while writing this book is probably similar to what many others have experienced while accomplishing a project. Before undertaking this endeavor, I had to take an inventory of my life. I had responsibilities and commitments. I had to foresee what might come up in the future, talk it over with my family, and decide if this was wise to embark on at this time. Would I be able to take care of my family and still be a good mom and wife? Would I be able to get my exercise in, eat right, and keep my own life balanced? Was I willing to accept the trade off of time missed with my husband and kids? Was my husband willing to pick up the slack at home while I wrote? Would I still have the time I needed to fulfill my spiritual needs? All of these questions had to be answered before I could wholeheartedly begin this without feeling like I


Weight Whys

was off balance. I did not want this journey of writing a health book to cause me to neglect the needs that I’m working to inspire others to care for. I tell you this story because I want you to realize that I sympathize with you. Even though I’m a health expert, with knowledge about what it takes to be healthy, we are all in the same boat when it comes to applying it to our everyday life. It is easier for me because I know what questions to ask myself. I’ve got a routine down where making health-conscious decisions comes naturally, and I’ve learned how to adjust quickly when faced with adverse circumstances. I’ve learned to discipline myself to do things I don’t necessarily feel like doing and to control my emotions so I can choose how to best express myself to create a desired outcome. Of course, I blow it sometimes, but I think it’s so important to remember that we are and always will be a work in progress. I can change anything about me that’s not working well in my life and be patient and loving with myself in the process. And you can too. It’s truly my hope that you come to know that truth in your heart throughout our coaching together.

Controlling Your Environment
Changing some things to make your environment health-friendly may be a switch for you at first. When grocery shopping, remember that whatever you buy, you should expect to be eaten. In other words, look in your cart and make sure that you plan to eat everything there. If you find that you have purchased five junk food treats (chips, cookies, doughnuts, pastries, and candy), don’t buy them and tell yourself you will ration them as the weeks go by. Don’t tell yourself that because they are on sale, you will buy them now at a bargain and save them for later. If you have it in the house, you will be tempted to eat it. Don’t make life harder then it has to be. If you are trying to decrease your family’s soda intake, buying one six-pack to last a week (or whatever you decide) is the way it’s going to be. If they are all gone by Tuesday, then everyone (including you) will wait until next Sunday’s shopping trip. The days and choices will be different for you, but you get the picture. Force yourself to get discipline over your eating habits. The food does not have control over you. Instead of eating junky snack foods, you should be eating cut up fruits, salads, carrot snacks, yogurt, and other things that are good for you. If you are having trouble deciding what’s good for you, I have compiled a few lists of healthy food ideas in the back of the book. You may want to go through them when

Setting Yourself Up for Success


deciding what to keep in your kitchen cupboards or while writing out your grocery list. Since keeping a healthy home environment is so helpful for your journey, grocery shopping and being thoughtful of what you bring into your home is important. You may have heard some of these and they are definitely true: • Always have a list and don’t deviate much from it. • Don’t go down every aisle—just go to the items that are on your list. • Don’t buy large quantities of foods/drinks that aren’t good for you, just because they’re a bargain or on sale. • Most of the fresh and healthy food choices will be found along the perimeter of the store. • Write the type and quantity of junk foods you plan on buying on your list before you enter the store. • Learn how to read food labels to make wise choices. (see Appendix D) • Look inside your cart before you check out. Take out anything you don’t want to buy. (Remember that whatever you buy, you are going to eat.)

Social Eating
We’ve talked about the main physical environments that you have control over. Now let’s talk about another area you are sure to encounter, which is social eating. This is when you are eating with other people at a restaurant, a party, with co-workers in the office, or having dinner quests. Everyone is different how they handle these various situations and I want you to think about what may be some of the challenges you experience and how you can come up with a game plan to change your behavior. I’ve learned that some tend to overeat when they are in a social eating environment (large portion sizes in restaurants, overeating while socializing and being distracted with conversation, impaired decision making from alcohol-lowered inhibitions which may increase eating—and all the calories from the alcohol). Others tend not to eat so much during social situations (sometimes because they are self-conscious) and overeat when they are by themselves at home.


Weight Whys

People are able to change these behaviors when they identify their challenges, have an alternative plan, and then set their mind to take action. You may decide to stay away from, or at least make sure to be extra thoughtful of, certain social situations for a short time until you develop confidence in your new health habits. Restaurants that are known for their gigantic portion sizes or all-you-can-eat buffets may not be a good idea the first few weeks you are starting to make changes. Over time, you will find you have a different perspective and response in these circumstances. You may find it more natural to do health-conscious things like look over the whole buffet to see the options before putting anything on your plate, keeping half of a large portion size in a doggie bag for tomorrow’s lunch, splitting a dessert with someone or just having coffee. These will be your new habits, less challenging for you as time goes by and you practice them over and over. It is temporary that they will be uncomfortable and new, requiring more discipline and effort. You may want to build the confidence you can in practicing more healthy choices at home and work, before you reintroduce the element of a social situation. It’s up to you. Either way, you are completely capable of making good decisions. It requires thinking, instead of living on the auto-pilot you are used to. Identifying and controlling your personal triggers in these different environments is important when trying to change your lifestyle. Everything about you and your life is unique. No one can tell you what to do in each situation because no one is exactly like you. Each day is different, each challenge and circumstance you encounter is different than the next, and only you have the ability to see the big picture and know yourself on the inside. You have the freedom to make your own decisions (that will each carry their own consequences) and hopefully learn to appreciate how special you are in that no one else feels or thinks exactly as you do. When you are trying so diligently to create a new norm and change your lifestyle, it’s wise to limit and avoid unnecessary stress as much as is within your control. Don’t use stress as an excuse to avoid your health plan. You are creating a huge disruption in your life (for good reason) and it can help you to keep the other areas of life as solid as possible. This is not always possible, but something to keep in mind.

Surrounding Yourself with Supportive People
This chapter on creating an environment for success wouldn’t be complete without talking about surrounding yourself with the right people. When

Setting Yourself Up for Success


choosing who to have in your personal environment, it’s wise to invite people who are supportive and protect yourself from the people who aren’t. Not everyone knows, or is willing to learn, how to be an encouraging, supportive person. Sometimes people are insecure and do not feel comfortable saying positive things or trying to influence someone else to be their best. I’m not saying you need to immediately shut out anyone who is not encouraging you, even though you may choose at some point to do that. What I am saying is that it is not a selfish thing to learn how to set boundaries with people and teach them how to treat you. You may need to read other books in this area to learn more about how to do this. One thing you must know is that no one has the right to treat you poorly, just as you don’t have the right to do so to someone else. I notice that sometimes people do this unintentionally. That is when it is good to have communication skills to call on and experiment with different ways you feel comfortable handling these situations. Say someone is peer-pressuring you to eat, saying something negative like, “You must be on your diet again. Come on, just have some and you can go back on it tomorrow.” Or, more direct remarks, like saying you don’t look good or pestering you about your weight. Instead of responding in a defensive manner with a remark, it might be best to talk to the person (maybe at a more appropriate time) and explain to them how it makes you feel when they say those things and what you would prefer they do in the future. It’s good to explain to them that you know they may be well-meaning and making those comments because they care about you, but you would rather they leave these choices up to you. Saying things of that nature are usually helpful in developing relationships that are supportive of your healthy lifestyle. They may be used to you being on and off a diet if that’s been the case for the last twenty years. You may have to be the one to set it right by explaining to them that you are not on a diet and are simply changing some habits that have not been in your best interest health wise. You may have to ask them to resist the temptation to boss you or tell you what to do with your wellness choices. Be patient, you may have to talk to them more than once as both of your needs change. Remember, you are the one who has taught them how to treat you. If, up to this point, you’ve tolerated their behavior, it is going to be a change for them when they have to stop. Give people room to grow. You may be doing them a favor too. If you try your best to explain your needs and the other person is still a negative influence, it may be best to create some distance from them for a while. It might even be best to


Weight Whys

explain to them why. They may understand. Only you can decide what you think would be best.

A Vision and a Goal
Being successful requires a game plan. Excellent health doesn’t just happen. It’s about being proactive, thoughtful, and taking responsibility for your actions. Take ownership of your health. The quotation cited earlier by John Maxwell has stuck with me through various endeavors I've set out to accomplish: Martin Luther King, Jr. said “I have a dream”, not “I have a goal”. Goals give focus, but dreams give power. It’s so important to understand the value of both a dream and a goal. My hope for you is that the dream in your heart will be to become as healthy as you possibly can so you can become your personal best. The goals you have to set and achieve to live out your dream are as individual as you are. You have to learn how become focused enough to achieve your goals, while being visionary enough to see the big picture of your dream. Your dream is the reason you work so hard to achieve your goals. Both are important and one cannot fully exist without the other. You need to keep reminding yourself you are on a mission and come up with one that is personal and meaningful to you. Don’t waste your time making superficial goals for yourself that don’t come from your heart (and the dream inside). Clarify in your own words what your mission is (why you want to become healthier) and it will be easier for you to focus on your goals and the work it will take to get there. This may be one of the most important truths you will hear in your whole life. Your likelihood for success is directly related to your willingness to accept responsibility for your actions.

The Blame Game
Our society has a tendency to blame things on anyone and anything, other than ourselves. It’s very evident in our legal system, in some areas of our government, in the media, and our everyday lives. If you can find something else good enough to blame it on, you don’t have to be responsible for it. One of the most unfortunate results of this is, until you acknowledge responsibility of your situation you cannot exercise control over the elements that can change it. What I am asking you to do right now is think about the excuses you give yourself for not being healthy—job, kids, genetics, upbringing? The fact is no

Setting Yourself Up for Success


matter what you list, it is highly likely there is someone else on the face of the earth that has circumstances very similar to yours, who decided to look past that and be healthy anyway. Become inspired by this reality. It is possible to overcome even the most difficult of obstacles; you have to first get your mind off the challenges and set your thoughts on the solutions. Write down what you will do to become healthier. Write down everything that is within your control and then start working on them. Set your mind to becoming closer than you ever have before and see where that gets you. Try your best to create the life you were meant to live. You also have to have a vision of what success in your health means to you. Often people want to choose a number of pounds, because that is so automatic in their thinking. I encourage you to try to be more behavior minded when it comes to your health. Say one of your challenges is that you don’t exercise at all; maybe, success might mean to you that you are walking regularly in the mornings and it is part of your routine. Be kind to yourself in remembering that getting healthy is a process, one where you are learning about what the right decisions are and then learning how to train yourself so you are inspired to make them. You are, and always will be, a work in progress.

Expect the Best
Make sure that most of the time, you are moving in the right direction. It is an art to learn the balance of being firm enough with yourself to make the right decisions, while being gentle enough to find the grace to live in contentment. You will never be perfect, but it doesn’t hurt to keep your expectations high. Have you given up on yourself or lowered your standards? Have you lost confidence or become tired? I hope to encourage you no matter what your situation. But, it will take some help from you and a willing heart. Expect the best from yourself and you are more likely to get it. I expect the best from you. Let’s do what we need to do to get it.

Thoughts for the Road
Is your environment conducive to healthy eating? What can you change to make it so? Are you challenged in social eating situations? What are the excuses you give yourself for not being healthy? Write down what you are willing to do this week to become healthier.

Managing the Emotional


Using Your Emotions Effectively

Everything in life gets better when you learn how to manage your emotions and actions to get your desired outcome. Improving your ability to think and reason before you act or react to certain situations can bring you into a new dimension. People especially tend to have a difficult time with this one when it comes to their mouth and the words they speak. (That’s a whole other book though.) What I want to talk to you about today is recognizing the significance in the process of feeling an emotion or having a thought, and what your actual behavior might be in response to it. There are a few different ways this process might look: 1. 2. 3. Feeling or initial thought–action Feeling or initial thought---------action Feeling or initial thought---------reason---------action

Change Your Actions by Changing Your Thoughts
The potential power that lies in mastering this method is completely awesome. My attempt is to help you grasp this concept on a conscious level so you can see how your pattern of response usually works and find new ways to manipulate it to make it work better for you. You may find that in different areas, you respond differently. Maybe with your money, you are very good at being thoughtful how to spend it, but in the area of food, you are more impulsive. There’s not much thought process involved during the time between you


Weight Whys

feeling hungry and thinking how yummy it would taste, and then taking the action of eating it. What I want you to accomplish is to become aware how you make decisions that might affect you in the area of wellness. Learn how to manipulate and control your response to create the desired result of making better decisions. Understand that an action always follows a decision. Since the objective of our coaching together is to inspire you to be your personal best, to guide the actions of your behavior, we must first influence your decision-making thought process. It’s amazing to me how many people are drawn to weight loss programs that only approach change from the “action” level; giving you food plans, packaged meals, or fancy charts to track your eating and exercise. Don’t get me wrong, these are good tools that can be helpful at times, but there is no getting around the fact that if you are looking to change your behavior and actions, you must, at some point, do the work of dissecting the decision-making process that occurs before the action. Since it would be nearly impossible, or at the very least burdensome, to stay on these types of “action based” programs forever, it would be wise to get to the “meat” of your behavior as fast as possible. My belief is that people are drawn to the types of programs I mentioned before because they are not yet willing to invest the effort it takes to analyze and change their thought process. I sympathize with some of these people. In talking to them I suspect that, in doing so, they are afraid of what they might find. So, it is with both sympathy and great hope that I tell you, don’t be scared of what you might find out about yourself along this journey. Be excited. It will bring you to a higher level when you discover more of who you are. As a result, you’ll have more control to become the person you want to be. The person you were meant to be.

Mastering Your Impulses
I believe that everyone has a hope inside that makes them desire to be their personal best and it is not possible to be satisfied without striving for it. There is great potential in you, no matter who you are. Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a mother of four who rarely gets outside a ten mile radius of your home, you have significant potential to live a remarkable life by striving to be the best person, parent, spouse, employee, sister, or friend you can be. Part of that means achieving your personal best in the area of managing your emotions and making wise decisions on what actions will give you the best outcome. This ability is at the heart of being healthy. Do you think peo-

Using Your Emotions Effectively


ple who are excellent at caring for their health make most of their decisions based on what feels good at the time or based on what is best for them in the long run? You guessed it. They are generally better at making decisions with the future in mind and keeping a balanced perspective between enjoying life today and living with the consequences of their choices tomorrow. We are in trouble when we allow our impulses to have more control over our actions than our conscious decision making process. This doesn’t mean you always have to go against the way you feel. It simply means you don’t always have to act on the way you feel. If you have difficulty controlling your emotions, this chapter should have a powerful impact on your health habits, and your life in general.

You Are a Complete Package
Often, when I am coaching someone on various areas of their wellness, they develop skills and abilities that improve other areas of their lives. I am convinced we are a complete package and you cannot improve one area of your life without developing qualities that make you a better person. For example, I might have a client who is gaining weight because of increased alcohol intake following her husband’s death. The glass of wine she used to have with dinner has turned into a couple of glasses, and she has added another at bedtime. Not only has she added 450 Calories a day, but she is also not sleeping well, partly due to the alcohol. During our coaching, we see she has created a coping mechanism for dealing with the loss and loneliness that comes from losing the man she loved and shared a life with for forty-five years. The few glasses of wine may numb the sadness she feels every night, but over the long haul, they’ll ruin her life. What she was able to see in our sessions and talking it through was the need to develop positive behavior as coping mechanisms for her loss. She decided she was going to take care of herself, even though at that time in her life she did not particularly feel like it. This decision came about after she took an inventory to reaffirm what was important to her and she chose to do it for her children and grandchildren. I am happy to report that she is back to walking a few times a week to keep her blood pressure and weight in check and her quality of life has improved. Does that mean she doesn’t still desperately miss her husband and feel empty inside sometimes? No, it simply means she decided that although numbing herself with alcohol is what she felt like doing, she would look beyond her hurt and do what was best for herself, her health, and her family.


Weight Whys

Sometimes changing things about ourselves takes outside help to clearly see the situation. Often, our emotions can cloud our thoughts in determining the best course of action to take. That is when it helps to talk with someone whose decision making ability you trust and respect. Many of us like to talk about our problems and go on and on about how hard life is treating us. I am not talking about that. Complaining for the sake of complaining or to get sympathy from others, does absolutely no good for you. It does not help change your situation. It encourages you to become overly focused on the problem, and distracts you from working on possible solutions. It doesn’t do anybody any good and it’s annoying to others. It may require practice, but the more you avoid this habit, the more control you will get over the circumstances in your life.

Be Part of the Solution
You may have heard the adage, “You’re either part of the solution, or part of the problem.” Stop focusing on your emotions and feeling sorry for yourself and it’ll be easier to come up with solutions. Write down areas you complain or make excuses about, and determine you will not whine about them for the next week. Every time you catch yourself, focus on a solution to the problem. If you don’t see a solution immediately, think of something positive to keep your mind busy until you do. If you can’t come up with a solution to the problem you keep bringing up in conversation to others, what good does it do to talk about it anyway? This is a common characteristic of people who are too easily influenced by their emotions. Learn the discipline of controlling your mouth (your words), and you will see that this discipline spills over in controlling other aspects of your emotional life. Having maturity with your emotions involves being able to identify them and control their ability to influence your actions. The better you get at controlling your emotions, the more control you will have over the outcomes of most situations in your life. How many times have you done or said something you regret because you acted out of anger or hurt? Maybe you were reacting to someone else’s wrong behavior and knew you made the wrong choice. These are examples of letting our emotions dictate our actions without engaging a thoughtful decision making process. If you’ve ever been around young children, you have witnessed that their emotions are often what dictates their actions. I know that whatever my kids feel like eating is what they are going to ask me for as a snack. I know that my 1 ¡ year old is probably going to hit her sister if she takes a toy out of her

Using Your Emotions Effectively


hand. (She might even hit her just to get my attention—but that’s another book).

Responding vs. Reacting
It is a learned behavior to respond to people and circumstances in such a way that a rational thought process is involved. That may be the best news you’ve heard all day if you are challenged in this area. Since controlling your responses to your emotions is a learned behavior that means that you are capable of learning this skill. That doesn’t mean it won’t feel uncomfortable if you are usually the type of person who “reacts” rather than “responds.” It does mean you have the potential and it is your choice whether you become more disciplined and successful at it or not. Being mature in managing your emotions and controlling your actions means you are outcome-minded. The more you become outcome-minded in every area of life—relationships, work situations, dealing with your children, buying a car, whatever—the better you will be at deciding what steps to take that will be most productive toward getting the desired outcome. This doesn’t mean you neglect your emotions to get what you want. It means you think of a game plan, and coordinate the steps with the desired outcome in focus. For example, when couples argue, they begin without setting their minds that the desired outcome is to create a compromise both parties can accept and be in harmony. They might open their mouths before thinking and talk about how they feel about things, accusing each other of this and that, without disciplining themselves in their words. There is nothing wrong with sharing and describing your emotions to another person in a healthy way. However, when the need to express your feelings supersedes your ability to clearly identify the problem and come up with a solution or compromise, you may have wasted your time. Perhaps, even harming your relationship by saying something you will have to apologize for later because you couldn’t control yourself. Sometimes the best solution in this scenario is to state how you feel in a thoughtful choice of words, and agree to talk about it after you both have time to think it over and let your emotions calm down. This is sometimes a good time for a walk. Do something positive and productive with your energy. This may help bring things into perspective.


Weight Whys

Healthy Coping Skills
Why am I talking about how to discuss issues better with others in a health and weight management book? Sometimes people make poor choices, such as eating to feel better after an argument with someone, because they don’t have the life coping skills to positively handle these situations. Learning how to deal with your own and other people’s emotions are part of living a balanced, healthy life. To have a fulfilling life, we need to identify our needs, ask for what we need from others, ensure our expectations match up with what others are willing to give us, and get mature in handling our emotions. Sometimes we fill our unmet emotional needs by overeating, overindulging in alcohol, or acting out other negative health behavior, which tends to bring us more grief. We need to deal with emotions effectively and use them to serve us instead of us being servants to them. I have found through coaching that a person’s childhood affects them in every area of their lives. This can be either in a positive or negative way. The results are not so much from the effects of the childhood experiences themselves; I believe they are from the mindsets the individual has developed as a result of these experiences.

Hurts of the Past
We all have hurts from childhood. You may have unfulfilled relationship needs from your parents that have left you with a hole in your heart that feels like it can never be filled. You may have had behavior modeled for you that was unhealthy physically, psychologically, or both. Have you ever realized that not everyone who goes through the same experience comes out of it quite the same way? Some people suffer their whole lives, feeling trapped by their past, others get past even the worst experiences and live fulfilling lives. Why is that? It has a lot to do with the mind and emotions. People who get past extraordinary circumstances to become great human beings do so by directing their emotions into thoughts that are productive for them. For example, say someone is abused as a child by an alcoholic parent. As an adult, that person could live trapped by their past, unable to break free from that hurt to begin a normal, functioning, fulfilling, grown up life for themselves. This happens all the time. Anger, resentment, guilt, shame, all have a way of rearing their ugly heads; especially when you try to ignore them instead of dealing with them and changing your perspective to let positive emotions flow through. There are some people who come out of a

Using Your Emotions Effectively


childhood like that, work through their feelings and the behavior that was modeled for them, and make a conscious decision on how to respond to the choices they have been given in their adult life. Having this terrible childhood might inspire them to treat others the right way (especially children), learn what it means to have a loving relationship (since that was not modeled for them at home), and be determined to enjoy the life they’ve been given after watching the parent they loved throw theirs away with alcohol. They might also make a decision not to let alcohol be part of their lifestyle. They could work with a counselor to understand it is normal to feel emptiness when a parent has let you down. Forgiving them doesn’t necessarily mean you are excusing their behavior, but rather releasing that person from the anger that might have the potential to eat you up if you allowed it to. Grace and mercy given to someone who has hurt you can be a miraculous gift. I’ve seen it change the hardest of hearts and bring others to a whole new level of life. One of the most common hindrances I see in people I coach are negative experiences from their childhood they have not fully worked through and been healed of. There is a wide spectrum of hurts that people have experienced. These include being ridiculed by your family for being overweight, suffering through a divorce, or being sexually abused. Sometimes our hurts are more from our perception of situations rather than the actual events. Maybe you feel like your sibling was loved more because they were skinnier or more attractive (in your mind) than you were. These bad memories and perceptions of what your reality was during your childhood are important because they can give you a new level of understanding of why you may do certain things now. This pain often plays itself out in negative health behavior, and could be a cause of psychological problems if you are suffering in that area. Until someone can come to peace with negative events from their childhood, they will carry a stress or burden from it through their adulthood. “Coming to peace” with circumstances from our childhood means: • Freeing yourself to fully explore the feelings you have associated from the issue (even if it’s going to be painful). • Working through those feelings and focusing these emotions in a way that will have a positive effect on your life.


Weight Whys

• Forgiving the person or persons who have offended you, releasing them from bad feelings you might have. • Accepting that you might feel a sense of loss and hurt over the situation for the rest of your life and that’s okay. It’s part of who you are. Depending on what may be holding you back, you may decide that to talk with someone else to better understand how your past might be affecting what you do now. A therapist or counselor, a pastor, or even a good friend can help you work through what your feelings are. Or, you may want to spend time doing it in your journal by yourself. Whatever the case, exploring issues from your childhood can be beneficial on so many levels. Whether you are trying to understand why you feel guilty if you don’t clean your plate or why you feel self-conscious or unloved. Who you are today is a product of people and experiences that have touched you throughout your life. Sometimes people would rather that not be the case. They don’t want to be a product of anything they might feel ashamed of or hurt by, so they close off that part of themselves and try to function as best as they can in spite of it. I am not talking about someone who decides to succeed despite starting out with negative circumstances. I am talking about when someone closes the door to their heart because of a hurt and then never open it because they fear what might be inside. There is much to be said of the dysfunction that comes from closing off part of yourself and not coming to peace with parts of your life that are not pleasant. Freeing yourself to accept, even appreciate, the events that have made you the beautiful person you are today is part of growing in self-love. Emotions can be paralyzing when they rule over you. Confronting pains, talking out hurtful experiences (even the family secrets no one wants to discuss with you), and learning how to deal effectively with your emotions are all steps to writing a happy ending to your life story. Don’t let your emotions ensnare you into doing things that are not good for you. Take away their immediate influence. Choose what your behaviors will be.

Learning to Set Your Mind
Raising a four year old, an almost two year old, and a four month old is not an easy task. I set my mind first thing in the morning to be thankful for this precious season of my life and be patient and gentle with the kids. However, there are days when I have gotten frustrated and impatient and not been the parent

Using Your Emotions Effectively


I want to be. I could feel sorry for myself, talk negative about how much work it is, and let my emotions get the best of me when the kids want to test their boundaries. Or, I could set my mind to be the best parent I can be with these precious angels who have been entrusted into my keeping. Those days when I haven’t been the best parent have been learning experiences because that’s what I choose to make them. Instead of living the same challenging experience over and over, I reflected on what my frustrations were and how to do it better next time. I have learned that my day is more enjoyable when I am not rushing around. I don’t schedule too many chores to do and I leave enough time to get places, allowing ten minutes to get in the car and little things like that. I’m sharing this to show you that if I let my emotions determine my actions, I could feel so overwhelmed that I would miss some of the best years of my life. My attitude determines if my two year old running around the house naked while I’m trying to get her dressed is annoying or cute. And I have control over that. It takes effort and energy to accept that responsibility. It might be easier to blame my shortcomings on my circumstances. If you use your circumstances to excuse your reactions and behavior, you are giving up your responsibility and control. If you tell yourself nothing you did contributed to it, there is nothing you can change to control it. That was a personal story to share my heart as I go through my journey of writing this book. Realize that once you grasp this concept of effectively managing your emotions and learn how to use it to your advantage, it can improve every area of your life. It can change your eating habits, how you spend your time, the quality of your relationships, and fulfillment in your life. Many people don’t exercise because they don’t feel like it. That is a situation where you should look past your feelings and do what is good for you. Or change your feelings by motivating yourself. I’ve learning from coaching hundreds of people, that everyone has a story. Everyone I talk with has problems. It may be the failing health of a loved one (or their own), issues from their childhood, challenges in their marriage, or not balancing their life properly by being overly involved in their work. Whatever your challenge, remember that only you can decide whether you will approach it from a victory or victim mentality. Life may throw you a curve ball, but you can choose how to respond to it. Do you want to feel sorry for yourself and make excuses for why nothing is turning out as it should, or do you want to control what you can and come out strong and victorious?


Weight Whys

Don’t misunderstand my heart here. I am not trying to make light of a serious situation that you might be dealing with. What I am saying is that you will not be able to enjoy life, whatever the circumstances, if you have a victim mentality. I will talk later about the power of positive thinking, but what I want you understand now is that your emotions and actions are directly linked to what you allow your thoughts to be. Once you accept that and start exploring how you’ve been doing it so far, then you can work on what can be changed for the better. This is a learned skill. Learning to have control over your thoughts, how to use self-control to decide what emotions you will allow to influence your actions, and how to have a conscious thought process before an action, can all be learned and become more natural with practice.

Anger is Powerful
Since we’re talking about emotions, let’s discuss one that comes up a lot…anger. Dealing with anger is an issue for many people and can lead to heartache if not managed properly. Understand that anger is an issue of the heart. It’s a feeling that usually comes from a hurt, an offense we have suffered, or one we perceived to suffer. It can be directed toward ourselves or someone else. It can be misplaced, meaning that we can be angry with one person and act that feeling out on someone other than the one who has angered us. Whatever the case, what you must know is that anger, like any other emotion, can be controlled and managed. You will hear different kinds of advice about anger. Some challenges are best addressed by a psychologist when it comes to behavioral health. My opinion and what I have seen work in my life and the lives of many others is validated by many highly qualified professionals in the field of psychology. Having studied the psychology of behavior and motivation, I believe that anger is a powerful force that is generally not an emotionally healthy motivator. In reviewing the research on the internal effects of anger, it is clear that people who have more anger or who are quicker to respond to a situation with anger, usually have health problems as a result of it. High blood pressure, heart problems, and possibly even some cancers have been found to be more common in those who have anger issues. We will talk later about managing stress, which is sometimes linked to anger and frustration. What I want you to know now is that anger has no place in your heart. It is destructive, not only to yourself, but to those around

Using Your Emotions Effectively


you. If you have anger, even if you don’t fully understand it, the best thing you could do for your health is to explore it and learn how to effectively deal with it. As we talked about with unforgiveness, I believe the proper way to deal with anger is to determine the cause, perhaps by writing or talking it out, and then not allow it to have an uncontrollable influence on your behavior. The interesting thing about anger is that you can eliminate it from your heart and replace it with love. If someone hurts you, have compassion for the other person’s shortcomings and empathy for their situation. This can do more good emotionally than allowing your anger to fester. Anger inside the heart can steal the joy in your life and eat you up alive. I have seen anger overtake people to the point where they don’t care about their health. They have lost the desire to care for their wellness because they don’t value their lives anymore. Don’t let anger, or anything else, steal your passion for fulfilling your potential. Eliminate emotions that cause you to lose hope, be your best, and enjoy the fullness of life. Decide to remove anger or unforgiveness from your heart, and replace it with love. Explore your feelings and decide what is worth keeping and what may be ruining your life. We have a short time here in this world. Make up your mind and choose in your heart that you will make it the best time possible—no matter what lies behind or ahead. The choice is yours. What lies behind and what lies ahead are small matters compared to what lies within. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jealousy is Not Productive
Envy and jealousy often play a huge role in people’s struggle with weight and self-image. Comparing ourselves to other people can be a destructive habit. It is natural for your mind to immediately start this process, especially if it is in an area you are insecure about. Everyone is insecure about something. The most “perfect” person you can think of has the human emotions of insecurity, a desire to belong, and need to feel loved. Choosing to strive for your personal best is more emotionally healthy than wanting to be up to par or better than someone else. It frees you from the ugly feelings that can be associated with competition. I am not talking about eliminating “healthy competition” provided in the confines of sports, academics, and the like. I’m talking about what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We constantly compare ourselves to what we perceive others to be. I’ve experi-


Weight Whys

enced this at times in the weight management classes I teach. Clients will focus on comparing themselves to me because I am a healthy body weight and they aren’t. They think about me instead of accepting where they are and making a game plan for improvement. My healthy weight is a result of healthy eating, regular exercise, spiritual fulfillment, and making thoughtful choices to balance my life. Thankfully, I had a desire to practice good behavior before I was ever challenged with a weight problem. I have been highly motivated to take care of myself from what I’ve seen in the lives of those who haven’t. I’ve worked to be a healthy weight, it is not by chance. You must be willing to make the sacrifices and do the work. Another interesting thing about comparing yourself with others is that no two people have lived exactly the same life. You may see the outward expression of what their persona is but you can never know the inside of another person’s heart. People with seemingly happy lives struggle too. You never know what someone else’s life is really like, so concentrate on your own. I so often hear overweight people talk in an unflattering way about how skinny someone else is, how uncomfortable they feel around the skinny people at the gym, what their skinny co-worker eats for lunch, and so on. It’s a waste of time. Sometimes these people are preoccupied with thoughts that they are being judged or talked about; other times it’s out of jealousy. This is a very natural emotion but one that is not productive. Some might suggest that jealousy could be used as a motivator to achieve what another has. The truth is that jealousy is an ugly, negative emotion and should be avoided at all costs. We can never win when we compare ourselves with someone else. Play with the desire in your heart to achieve your personal best and the only way you can lose is if you don’t try hard enough. Think about it. Everyone is capable of achieving their personal best. Isn’t that amazing? All you have to do is get in the game and be willing to do the work to find out what your best is. How often do you allow your feelings to be a gauge of when and what to eat? If I ate based on my feelings, I’d eat doughnuts for breakfast, Cap’n Crunch cereal for lunch, and apple crisp for dinner. Of course, I’d leave room for dessert. I would never allow my children to eat this way—it’s a good reason not to allow myself to either. Learning to parenting yourself and consider what’s in your best interest comes in handy.

Using Your Emotions Effectively


Use Logic to Make Decisions
I coached a woman who had been practicing unhealthy behavior before our working together. She would wait until two or three o’clock in the afternoon to eat her first food of the day. She was trying to manage her weight and also had some emotional (anxiety) issues that might have contributed to her poor nutritional decisions. I asked her if she experienced hunger at all during the day and she told me that she did not. She explained that she did not feel hungry from the time she woke up until the afternoon. Then, she would usually eat a bag of nuts or corn chips she kept in her car for when she left work. I had a sense she wasn’t telling me everything—she was either keeping it from me or she did not yet understand enough about herself to explain what was going on. She did not agree at first that this was not healthy behavior. After waking from an eight to ten hour fast and continuing to fast for another eight hours while she was awake, she expected her body and mind to perform with no fuel. I asked if she would allow her children to fast until the afternoon if they weren’t hungry. She started to understand at that point, but it was a challenge for her to think logically instead of emotionally when making her food choices. I’m also happy to report that the dizziness she used to experience (which had been diagnosed by her physician as an inner ear problem) is no longer happening. Whether or not you have children, this method of making decisions is a useful one. Asking yourself if you would allow your children to eat the way you do can be an eye opener. Try motivating yourself to make better choices in this manner and see how it works.

Emotional Maturity
In examining how your emotions affect your life, ask yourself how mature you are in this area. What needs to be improved to make your wellness complete? Some of us live our adult lives as children when it comes to our emotions. Our impulses and feelings guide our actions in areas that have such a significant impact on the outcome of our lives. Whether it be food choices, anger, money, laziness, fear…whatever it is, make a decision to assert your power over it. You will have a lot more self-respect when you do. I believe that everyone has a need to respect themselves. When you act like a child instead of disciplining yourself to make mature decisions and follow them through, you lose some of your self-respect. Get honest with yourself about what your efforts have been so far and see what would be in your best interest to change.


Weight Whys

People have the toughest time with this. And I can see why. It is hard to admit to yourself that you have failed or let yourself down. It is much easier to blame your weaknesses or problems on something else—other people, circumstances, genetics, environment, I could go on and on. Don’t live in denial one minute longer if you haven’t been trying to grow in self-control. Sit back and take a long, hard look at what your efforts have been on your journey. Have they been enough to help you make progress or have they been half-hearted to make yourself look like you’ve been doing something. Make a conscious decision to live in reality from now on. I know it’s hard. It’s easier to make ourselves feel like we are trying by going to meetings once a week, or buying new diet books and fancy workout equipment. We can talk ourselves into believing we’ve been trying to get healthy when we haven’t really done much at all. This is another area where we can let our emotions override reality. Don’t let yourself off the hook. Acknowledge that you may not have given a wholehearted effort into getting healthy (if that is the case for you), and decide what you are going to do about it. I am not going to tell you that you absolutely must make a decision to change your unhealthy behavior now. It has to be of your own free will. It has to be a decision you make in your heart. Only then will you be able to have the determination it will take to see it through and make it happen. There are times when it will be challenging and no half-hearted effort will see it through. You have to want to change, be willing to explore, and do the work, even when it’s not fun or what you’d rather be doing. If you decide that now is not the time to discipline yourself to improve your health and manage your weight, it’s better to be honest. Accept the truth that being overweight and unhealthy doesn’t bother you enough right now to change it. (Maybe it’s just bothering you enough to complain about it.) You have the freedom to love yourself no matter what your decision. It doesn’t mean the way you feel now is how you’ll feel the rest of your life. I’ve coached people who did not want to change until they had a close family member die of a heart attack in their fifties, or something of that nature. Seeing someone die, knowing their lifestyle had a lot to do with it, can be a powerful motivator. My hope for you is that we can learn together how to motivate you to put forth your best effort now. I would rather see someone be honest and say “now is not the time” than to waste time with half-hearted efforts. The choice is yours. The more real you get with yourself about where your heart is now, the more powerful your efforts will be when you choose to

Using Your Emotions Effectively


put your whole being into it—body, heart, and mind. That’s what it will take. Don’t sell yourself short by accepting anything less.

Thoughts for the Road
Search your heart today. Are there any emotions that are holding you back from being your personal best? What will you choose to do about it? Think of incidents when you have let your emotions dictate your behavior and later regretted it. What could you have done in that situation to handle it appropriately? Do your emotions affect your eating or physical activity? What can you do to improve your discipline in this area?

Dynamics of Your Relationships

In this chapter, I want to talk with you about the connection between your health and your relationships with others. Each affects the other in an interesting way. Becoming aware of this can help you to improve both your wellness and your relationships. It’s evident we were made to be in relationship with others. Research shows people fare better when they are in a positive environment with encouraging people. Studies of cancer support groups who meet regularly to talk about their experiences and support each other have shown that the participants usually live longer and have a more positive outlook than their counterparts who don’t have a social group of this sort. Having people to share your life with who will support you and love you is important. We all need to surround ourselves with people who value our beliefs and who we have things in common with, as well as people who can expose us to new and different ideas. Even though there are differences in our personalities, some people enjoy being around others and some enjoy being alone most of their time. We still need others to show us that we belong and help us feel special. You should have at least one trusted person to share your heart with who will encourage you. This should be someone who will cheer you on and has your best interest at heart. You may have been born into a family that is not positive and encouraging. What do you do? You go out and find encouragement. It’s everywhere. Books, tapes, videos, DVDs, seminars, classes, Internet…you can find motivation and inspiration if you seek it. Who are the people that support you and lift you up?


Dynamics of Your Relationships


Are you an encouraging person to others or do you tend to look on the negative side? This may give you insight as to why you attract who you do.

Fearing Others’ Achievements
I was at a barbeque once and someone there was talking about how one of her family members had recently been given a scholarship to MIT. She didn’t talk about how wonderful it was that his education was going to be fully paid for at a prestigious school, or how deserving he was of the scholarship because of how hard he worked in school. She talked about the negative aspects such as: how much it was going to cost to live there, how he would be away from his family, and how foolish he was to think a college education was going to help him learn about life. It was almost comical listening to her. I wondered where this negativity could be coming from. I remembered the misfortune she’d had with her adult son. He’d been in trouble with the law and made some poor decisions that have cost him. I thought of how hurt she probably was over that and how it might have made her jealous to see other people’s children doing well. She has also been close to this young man for most of his childhood. I wondered if she might fear that his experience at this prestigious school and getting a college education (which no one else in his family has, including her) that he would no longer desire a close relationship with her. Maybe he would look down upon her. This may sound strange, but you see it all the time. Positive events like going to college, or losing weight and adopting healthier lifestyle habits, can feel threatening to people close to you. Whether people are being negative because that is their usual mentality or because they feel threatened by your changing, it is helpful to recognize this and address it appropriately. Often, there are deeper reasons why people are not encouraging. That is not to excuse their behavior, but simply to help you understand it and maybe learn to be more gracious about it.

Seek Encouragement
Someone who is supposed to love you should recognize their own insecurities and get past their selfishness enough to support you (or learn to keep quiet, at the very least). If you don’t have a cheerleader, someone you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, feelings, goals, and dreams with, learn to encourage yourself. Use this time to write down the intimate details of your heart in your journal. Look for motivational books and materials that will help you be more


Weight Whys

positive. The self-help book section is constantly being furnished with new books on how to love yourself and improve your life. I have compiled a list in the back of this book of some that I highly recommend. You will find many people who are not encouraging. Others will gladly tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Being positive and encouraging is not a quality most people possess. Maybe they have been disappointed in their own lives and have given up on themselves, so they don’t project positive ideas toward others. It is more common for people to talk negatively about and to others than it is to hear people talking about how great someone is praising good things they’ve done. Pay attention to how others talk. Evaluate yourself and see what you are inclined to say about others, as well as your own situations.

Loving Yourself
It is much easier to have healthy relationships with others once you have developed one with yourself. To love yourself in spite of how you might have let yourself down, regardless of the circumstances, or where you came from is the most beautiful gift you can give your soul. When someone goes through life not liking who they are, having a negative self-image, others can tell. When you meet people who never seem happy, are rude, even overly anxious or terribly self-centered, it may be their real struggle is in loving themselves. When you love yourself, it means you accept yourself the way you are and have affection inside toward yourself as a person. You don’t have to wait until you lose fifty pounds or get control of that anger problem to love yourself. It simply means you have a compassionate, gentle, affection for yourself. Give yourself grace in knowing that you are learning how to be better and how to minimize your weaknesses. Every one of us is a flawed person. Anyone who has ever caused you hurt is a flawed person. We all have different parts to ourselves and it is sometimes helpful for people who have trouble loving themselves to develop that parentchild relationship inside. This means you are able to see yourselves almost in the third-person, as though you are watching a movie. See yourself as you are now, looking at that person with a fond affection in your heart, as though that person is your child. It doesn’t matter if you feel no one else has ever looked at you and felt this love before. Learn to look at yourself and feel it. If you see yourself and feel anything other than love, compassion, and fondness, you will not be able to look at anyone else and feel it.

Dynamics of Your Relationships


Our love and feelings for others are often veiled by the way we feel about ourselves. If you want to learn to forgive others more easily, ask yourself if you have a problem forgiving yourself. We all make mistakes but there is nothing that the human heart cannot forgive. There is no one to whom you can’t show love. You will find that if you change the way you feel about yourself and choose love over all else, you will have a much easier time living in harmony with everyone else.

You Are Not an Accident
When you love yourself, you feel confident that you belong in this world and there is a place here for you. People who feel depressed or lack self-confidence often suffer from feeling like they don’t belong here. They might struggle with an overwhelming sense that the world doesn’t need them, others don’t need them, they lack a sense of purpose, or there’s nothing special about them. If you struggle with these thoughts, you are not alone—more importantly, these thoughts are not true. If you were created and born into this world, you have a purpose. You may have to discover what your special purposes are, or what unique qualities and talents you have that can be used to serve others. What hobbies and pastimes bring you pleasure and joy? It is not an accident that you are who you are, were born to your parents, raised in your neighborhood, doing what you’re doing, even reading this book. Life doesn’t happen by chance, and much of it can be influenced (in a positive or negative way) by our beliefs and the choices we make. There is absolutely no question that the way you feel about yourself impacts those choices and influences your relations with those around you.

Balancing Maturity with the Child Within
We talked before about fostering a loving relationship within by learning to parent yourself. The effects of this can be life changing. Recognizing that you, and everyone else you encounter, probably have unfulfilled needs requires maturity. This maturity comes from changing into the parent (the adult who should really be in charge of your life) instead of choosing to live as the child inside. Too many people are really 10-year-olds, walking around in adult bodies. They have their driver’s license, a credit card, and a mortgage, but they live as though their feelings can dictate their actions and their actions have no consequences.


Weight Whys

I don’t mean to be harsh, but someone has to declare this is what is often at the heart of dysfunction in relationships and in life. The good news is that you can learn how to grow up and still enjoy that child within. You can enjoy being silly, laughing for no reason, loving with a child like heart, and living for the moment. Being mature doesn’t mean no longer having these qualities. It simply means expressing them in the appropriate manner and time. However, living for the moment and ignoring consequences is not appropriate when you are at a dinner party, where you know you will be drinking alcohol, and have not prearranged for someone to drive you home. It is not appropriate when you don’t have enough money to pay for an outfit and you charge it on your credit card. (That bill is going to come eventually.) It is not appropriate when you continue to eat two doughnuts for breakfast even though you’ve made a commitment to yourself to eat more healthfully. Remember, that maintaining your childishness can be a fun and beautiful part of your personality and bring joy to everyday life, if you balance it and express appropriately. Being playful can bring a smile to someone’s face and make the ordinary, extraordinary. Making a game of your chores or your exercise routine can help make responsibilities become fun, instead of mundane.

Meeting Needs in a Healthy Way
There is a way to balance expressing your childlike side with living as a responsible adult. This balance relates to unfulfilled needs because people who do not understand this part of themselves express these needs in inappropriate ways and don’t know why. For example, say Jill has an unfulfilled need of being parented and loved properly by her father when she was growing up. This may cause her to feel insecure in her relationships with men. One way she might express this insecurity is by choosing men who are controlling because they give her an extraordinary amount of attention. Even though it’s often negative attention and can be annoying to her, she continues to pick people who demonstrate their “affection” for her in this unhealthy way. Until she realizes what her unfulfilled needs are and stops trying to meet them in unhealthy ways, she will continue to become involved with men like this. Jill is probably under the impression that picking controlling men happens to her by chance. She doesn’t understand she has traits that cause her to attract this type of person and tolerate their behavior once it shows itself. What Jill needs to accept is that the unhealthy relationship with her father has left a void she may feel forever. She can separate this from the relationships she chooses to have

Dynamics of Your Relationships


with men and start making rational decisions about the type of man she would like to be in healthy relationship with.

Identifying Needs
Learning to parent yourself involves understanding as much as you can about your unfulfilled needs and making thoughtful decisions on what you will, and will not do to fulfill them. When you become aware of how your needs influence your behavior as well as being mindful of the needs of others around you, you will even become better at relationships. You will be better able to communicate and get to the heart of the matter, instead of just dealing with the surface issues. This takes more energy and emotional investment, but leads to more fulfilling results. The only way to have true intimacy in any relationship is to be willing to make yourself emotionally vulnerable. Being mature means knowing that even if someone takes advantage of your vulnerability, you can still love them and move on. You may choose not to be in relationship with them anymore, or set boundaries on the degree of your intimacy with them, but learning how to let yourself love and foster healthy relationships is essential to your health.

Your Circle of Influence
Creating a positive social circle is a learned skill and requires work. You may be associating with people who are a detriment to your efforts to improve your health and lose weight. Learning to set boundaries with people is essential, not just concerning weight loss, but life in general. Teach yourself to be more thoughtful in choosing who you will surround yourself with. It may be wise to temporarily distance yourself from people who are exceptionally negative, drain your emotional energy, or constantly manipulate you into doing things you would rather not. Use your judgment on how to approach each situation, but whatever choices you make, you will benefit greatly from learning to assert yourself and set boundaries with others. There is a huge difference between being aggressive and being assertive. An example would be if your mother were trying to send you home with pie after a dinner gathering. Being aggressive would sound like, “Mom, you know I’ve been trying to lose weight and you’re trying to stuff me with pie. What’s your problem?” Being assertive would sound like, “Mom, I love your pie, but I’ve been trying to be more health-conscious with my food choices. I’d rather not take the pie home, but thank you anyway.” Then, if she were to persist you can


Weight Whys

assertively tell her again, “No, thanks, Mom. Please don’t ask me again.” Learning how to assert yourself is an important skill to learn because you must teach people how to treat you. This can be a useful skill not just with respect to health choices, but every area as well. Someone may treat you inappropriately at work. Maybe another customer is rude to you in line at the supermarket. Many conflicts and bad situations can be avoided by learning how to express yourself assertively instead of aggressively. The most difficult aspect of this for most is that it requires controlling your emotions too.

Expressing Yourself Effectively with Words
It is amazing how much our culture communicates with food. The more keenly aware you are of this phenomenon, the better you will be at dealing with it effectively. To a certain degree, this can be very sweet. Baking someone cookies or preparing a meal to show them how much you love them are wonderful actions to communicate love. But, it can become negative when done to an extreme. For example, it is at an unhealthy extreme when your appreciation for the gift of food is tied to the amount of it you eat. The most common scenario is when someone goes to a lot of effort to prepare a meal, and then you feel you must overeat it to express your gratitude. This is not healthy behavior. You have to ask yourself, “Why must I overeat to show I’ve enjoyed the meal?” And, if you made it: “Why do I feel people haven’t enjoyed my meal (or have rejected my love offering) if they don’t overindulge?” You may have created an environment where this is normal behavior. What would happen if you replaced the behavior of overeating with eating an appropriate amount and then expressing your gratitude in words? Developing the skills you need to verbalize your feelings and needs will have a tremendous impact on the level of fulfillment in your relationships. Whether it is your spouse or the cashier at the supermarket, enhancing you communicator skills will serve you well in health and in life. Learning to determine your own needs, knowing how to ask the right questions to determine the needs of others, and expressing yourself well with your words are all necessary elements in relating well with others. Being effective in creating great relationships also involves being outcomeminded in your actions and words. It’s very easy to get in the habit of allowing ourselves to speak and act before thinking. We will talk more in a later chapter about developing self-control in this area. For now, think about how you can be more forward-thinking in your interactions with others. This means

Dynamics of Your Relationships


approaching a situation with a desired outcome in mind. Not just focusing on the issues at hand, but thinking about solutions and compromises that will bring positive results for both people involved. I used an example earlier of the mother who was trying to send pie home. Approaching this situation from the perspective of not wanting to offend her (positive for her) and not wanting to tempt yourself with pie in the refrigerator (positive for you) is wise and outcome-minded. You will have success more easily in life when you are solution-minded and use good communication skills. Along this journey, you will find that part of improving your health involves examining your relations with other people. The better you get at learning to express yourself assertively and effectively, the better your life, and your health, will be.

Thoughts for the Road
Who can you trust to go to for encouragement and support? What motivational resources can you use to get moving in the right direction? Are you happy when others succeed or do you find yourself jealous? In what ways could you benefit from “parenting yourself” better? Are you meeting your emotional needs in a healthy way? What might need to change in this area? What might you need to change to improve your relationships with others?

Managing Stress

When it comes to managing stress, you must know that the amount of stress that you experience is determined by your perception of each situation. While people have different natures, some more “high strung” and easily stressed than others, you can control the degree of stress you have by learning to change your perspective. You might feel stress when the way a person acts or how an event turns out doesn’t line up with your expectation of how it should be. It’s crucial to develop the life skills that will enable you to manage your stress and balance your life without constantly feeling overwhelmed. During a perceived stressful event, your body will experience what’s called the “fight or flight response.” Your body releases a series of hormones, causing your blood pressure and heart rate to increase and your muscles to become tense, all of which can tax the body over time. It seems in our culture, people wear their badge of stress to show how important they are. “Look at me. See at how busy I am. I must be really important.” (Am I striking a nerve here? You won’t feel offended by that unless it’s an area you struggle in.) Take a look at what the stressors in your life are and how you might want to make changes to ensure your priorities are straight. Set your life in such a way that you minimize your stress as much as possible, and learn the skills you need to properly manage the stress you have. Chronic stress is thought to be a major source of the health problems in our society. When the body experiences these frequent stress responses over and over, it causes your heart and other muscles to be tired and overused.


Managing Stress


I believe this is one of the most important topics we will talk about in this book. You see stress management classes everywhere and I think there is a huge missing link when it comes to learning how to create a low-stress life.

The Real Source of Stress
Often, people want to put a bandage on their stress. People seem much more inclined to want to learn breathing techniques, try biofeedback, massage therapy, or meditation, than get to the root cause of their stress and simply make changes to alleviate it. I see people get caught up in this cycle all the time. In the end, it causes more stress because they still have the same problems, but now they have all these stress management techniques to fit into their schedule as well. Don’t get me wrong. Stress management techniques are useful, and even enjoyable, sometimes. But, if you are using them to avoid dealing with the source of your stress, you will have to eventually deal with it, and it will probably cause you grief in the meantime. My objective with you is to help you identify what your true sources of stress are, and learn skills to help you eliminate them or cope with them in a healthy way. A lot of the stress in our lives has to do with our choices—concerning both what we choose to allow in our environment and how we choose to respond to individuals and circumstances.

Own Your Time
You may have heard the popular term “time management.” There are many “time management” techniques you can learn that may be helpful in organizing your life. The one element that is absolutely essential when practicing smart time management is to focus on priority management. We all have the same twenty-four hours in the day. The reality is you must choose what is important to you and spend your twenty-four hours doing that. If you decide to watch TV, do it with the purpose that you choose to spend this time to do “nothing” and relax. Maybe enjoy the time with a loved one on the couch. Making a conscious choice about this activity means you are taking ownership for your time. On the other hand, when you have things that you’d like to get done, but you flop on the couch and waste an hour flipping through channels and watching shows you don’t enjoy, you are using this activity as a diversion. It is likely you will feel worse about yourself after this hour because you’ll know you wasted time procrastinating, and what you were trying to avoid still has to be done. Or, you may bypass responsibility on your part for this sce-


Weight Whys

nario and decide it is easier to blame it on outside circumstances, such as the fact that there are only twenty-four hours in a day. The better you get at taking ownership of your time, the more fulfilling and easier your life will become. It may not feel good at first because you must discipline yourself. That requires going through the uncomfortable feelings that accompany change. The more you practice it, the more it will become second nature. Think of time as your most precious commodity.

Time is Precious
People sometimes think of money as their most precious commodity, but time has to be high on the list or you are likely to become frustrated. I am amused by how people waste away their time, and then act as though making time for exercise is absolutely impossible. They feel life is so busy, there’s just no way to handle all that needs to be done. Your life doesn’t have to be this way. It’s all about choices. Before you begin listing your excuses for why you don’t have enough time in the day, know that it is possible to create a healthy, balanced life and you have a responsibility to yourself and your loved ones to do just that. Stop playing the victim for your lack of time, and work on solutions that will make your life better. When working on time management, pinpoint your priorities, and then organize your time to reflect those priorities. Just as in managing your finances, you create a budget and then try to spend your money on those things you feel are important. What good will your budget do you if you spend time making it, but end up spending your money on whatever it is you feel like buying at that time? Maybe you felt like buying a new $500 suit while you were at the mall, but you remember your house payment is due. Unless you have that money as excess or had it factored into your budget, you’re in big trouble if you buy it at that time. You may end up wearing your new suit while you’re standing in line for a bed at the homeless shelter. That may be an exaggeration, but the point is to make sure every area of your life, from your finances to your weight, is in healthy working order. Clarify your priorities and goals, and focus your energy toward achieving them. Much of the time, we are on auto-pilot when it comes to the priorities of our day. The number one killer of passion in life is when you get stuck on autopilot. Anyone will tire of doing the same thing over and over if you aren’t stepping back to see if you are going in the right direction. Those who are success-

Managing Stress


ful at enjoying each day and living with passion are constantly reevaluating if they are spending their time wisely.

Spend Your Time on Your Priorities
I’ve spent most of my career helping busy people create balance in their lives and make their health a priority. When you define what the priorities in your life are, you can reduce stress by limiting (or eliminating) the activities that are not so important to you. Simplifying life involves making choices about how you are going to spend your time. Treat each day as the treasure that it is. Your time is a precious gift that needs to be cherished. Take it for granted or misuse it, and you will surely come to a time when you’ll regret it. It’s impossible to get time back. If you throw away your money or possessions, it is almost always possible to rectify your mistake. With time, once each day is over, we will never get it back. The main reasons I hear from people of why they experience stress are not having enough time in the day, and stress caused by other people. In my role as a coach, I challenge them to consider whether it is the circumstances that are the source of stress, or their reaction to them. I try to move people toward seeing to what degree they have control over their stress level. Most perceived stress has to do with our own reaction to it. This revelation can be a burden or a blessing, depending on how much you desire to improve your wellness. If you are ready to make changes in yourself and you are fed up with your lack of control in your life, you will be excited about this truth because it means you can do something about it. If you would rather blame your challenges on everything else and not hold yourself accountable, you’re probably not my biggest fan right now. Until you realize the measure of how much your choices determine the outcome of your life, you will never be empowered to change what you get.

Dealing with People Who Cause you Stress
Concerning the other common source of stress, which is other people, my advice is simple: as much as is possible and within your control try to get along with everyone. In the research I’ve done and people I’ve coached, dealing with others is often cited as one of the main sources of stress. Each of us is quirky with different personalities and temperaments who are self-centered and inpatient at times. Everyone has things they could work on with respect to dealing better with others. People will forever be this way and we live in a world where


Weight Whys

we have to deal with them. If we are to reduce our stress concerning this, what must we change? It’s our attitude. We talked earlier about having love and compassion for others, which goes a long way in helping to deal in this world. Becoming a good communicator, avoiding strife by choosing confrontations wisely, developing patience, and looking for the positive in others, are all learned skills that can reduce stress and make life easier. Limiting relations with negative people is part of creating a healthy environment. Take ownership for your stress, which includes making wise decisions on what situations you place yourself in. You may choose to avoid someone and deal as best as you can with the situation realizing you have control over the choices you have made. For example, if your co-workers cause you stress you can tell yourself a couple different things about your situation. You can think, “Why are these people like this? I am stuck in this job. Why is this happening to me?” The person who spends mental energy entertaining these thoughts is likely to go on and on, complaining about it to every friend, family member, and acquaintance who will listen. Gaining control and managing your stress in an environment you find challenging involves shaping your thoughts to sound more like, “How might my response to their behavior contribute to my stress? Does my environment bother me so much that I should start looking for another job? While I choose to stay in this job, I will do my best to act professionally, improve my interpersonal skills, and be on good terms with others as much as is in my control. I will accept that I can’t change other people.” Another aspect of limiting your involvement with negative people includes evaluating the stress that affects you from your circle of influence. These are the people who affect your life who you encounter on a regular basis. This includes family members and friends mainly, as well as co-workers, and those you would have an on-going relationship with. You will have to use your judgment and wisdom in deciding who to include and who you might want to limit your relations with. In your quest to become a more positive person it is wise to surround yourself with positive people. We will talk more in the next chapter about the power of a positive environment and how it lends to your success. For now, I will say choosing to surround yourself with positive people can do wonders for minimizing your stress. You may be lonely for a while if most of those who you usually associate with are not very positive people but it will be worth it. Remember, it’s not all about others. It’s about you too. Who wants to be around someone who’s negative all the time?

Managing Stress


Being a Positive Influence
I like to do an experiment with people and say something positive when they say something negative. Try this next time you are in conversation. It’s good for you to learn this technique of training your mind to shape your thoughts more skillfully, and it’s interesting to see how this changes the direction of the conversation. It is emotionally draining to talk to someone who is complaining for most of their conversation. Don’t misunderstand me. One of the most beautiful things about being in relationship with another person is being able to share your heart with them. Sometimes this involves venting your negative feelings about experiences or people that may be affecting your life. You are fortunate if during one of these down times, you are talking to someone who is positive. After you have had your time of complaining, they can help you direct your thoughts to the positive side. We’ve all done it at one time or another, but it is of no benefit to complain. It is one thing to talk to another person with the intent of being productive in some way, to get their opinion, maybe for them to help you figure out possible healthy solutions. But if you are complaining for the sake of hearing yourself complain, you are doing nothing but adding to the situation. No amount of complaining will bring about a resolution to your problem. It’s one thing to discuss with the intent of sharing your emotions and finding compromise, and another to go on and on because you don’t have anything better to talk about. If you find you are a negative person or constant complainer, this is a big part of your problem. Open yourself up to the possibility that you can change this about yourself to help make your life better. People who complain a lot tend to gravitate toward living in situations to complain about. People who talk positively about their lives and others, gravitate toward positive circumstances and people and get out of negative situations more easily. Think about how your mind has been trained to work. If you had the choice, would you want to be around yourself most of the time? What do you say when your spouse walks in the door? How do you greet your co-workers? Do you act like you are happy or excited to see them? How would your relationship with others be different if you did? When you wake in the morning, do you tell yourself you are looking forward to what the day holds or do you make yourself tired thinking of all that needs to be done that day before you get out of bed? Check your attitude and see if you like where it’s taken you in life so far.


Weight Whys

Healthy Choices Reduce Stress
It is also wise to look at how your choices might have an impact on the amount of stress you feel. Research shows that regularly exercisers experience the hormonal response to stress to a lesser degree than those who do not exercise. This means when you measure the hormones and physical reaction to stress in the lab, the person who exercises regularly does not have as much of a reaction as the person who does not exercise regularly. The exerciser’s body is better able to handle these stressful situations without having as much of a chemical reaction over it. This results in less physical stress on the body because it has to do less work to bring your stress hormones back to baseline (the ones that are released to return heart rate and blood pressure back to normal, relax your muscles, and so forth). Practicing healthy eating habits helps to reduce stress and allows your body to perform at its best. You should eat every few hours to give you energy and keep you fueled properly. Fueling yourself with glucose (from carbohydrates) for thinking skills and alertness prevents headaches and a crabby attitude. Consume enough protein and fat to keep your appetite satisfied for a period of a few hours until you eat again. What we put into our bodies is key in how well we are prepared to respond effectively to stress.

Balance for a Fulfilling Life
To live in balance and alleviate stress, take time to do what gives you pleasure. We are all individual in this way. I enjoy reading, listening to music, going for walks outside, spending time with God, playing with my family and friends, musical theater, and the symphony. I also enjoy my profession and am passionate about helping others to be healthy. For me to bring my passion for helping people into my coaching and give my best, I need to balance my life in the other areas that make me who I am as well. I need to do what is needed of me to be a good wife and mother. To use my time wisely so I can care for my own wellness by exercising, eating right, and being alone with God each day to renew my spirit. There are different parts of life that need to be kept in balance if you are going to bring the best of yourself to everything else. This is how you come to experience a fulfilling life. You must figure out how to balance each area and learn to have peace about eliminating what doesn’t fit. You can set your mind on each task knowing that what you’ve decided to invest in can be done wholeheartedly. One of my favorite motivational speakers, Joyce Meyer, has

Managing Stress


said that we need to focus more on being “human beings” instead of “human doings”. This is very clever and so true. You may be so busy and overstressed from doing that you would benefit greatly from taking time out to just be. I have clients who don’t even know what they enjoy doing. They work and take care of their family, which are both wonderful and honorable actions, but they are burnt out (and usually not taking good care of their health) because they are stuck in a rut. They have allowed themselves to be overwhelmed by their circumstances. We have all been in the situation where we feel like our life is the same day happening over and over…get up, go to work, home from work, go to bed, get up, go to work. No matter what your circumstances or responsibilities you are capable of living with passion. It’s time to stop feeling stressed or overwhelmed and start choosing to be excited about your life.

Thriving…Not Just Surviving
One benefit of coping with stress is learning the skills you need and changing your attitude so you are thriving, not just surviving. I don’t know about you, but I want to enjoy my life, not just get by. I believe everyone has that desire in their heart. Sometimes it takes help from others to get it out from beneath where it’s been buried. People often practice avoidance behavior, such as drinking alcohol, taking mood altering drugs, staying extremely busy, denying problems, and overeating because they don’t have the coping skills to deal effectively with the challenges they have. If you are struggling in one of these areas, it would be to your advantage to talk with someone who can help you. Remember, you don’t have to live life just getting by. You have to get out of the boat and start the journey before you can find out where it will take you. Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking too much about your destination. All you need to do is take it one step at a time and do your best to keep focused in the right direction.

Thoughts for the Road
How are you doing dealing with stress and keeping balance in your life? If you feel it would be useful for you, take an inventory on the activities and people in your life you feel are a negative source of stress for you. How could you change either the circumstance or your response to it? Is your usual response to stress healthy or unhealthy? What coping mechanisms do you use, and are they productive for you?


Weight Whys

Do you need to eliminate any activities to make room for making your health more of a priority?

Positive Thinking Cultivates Success

To increase the level of success in any area of your life, you must practice positive thinking. In studying the common practices of other successful people, one trait they have in common is thinking positively about the area in which they are looking to achieve. To become successful in managing your weight, you must first learn to be forward thinking. This means you can envision yourself achieving your goal, which is living a healthy lifestyle, before it actually happens. The two other necessities to positive thinking while on your journey to better health are having a hopeful attitude and being outcome-minded (focusing your mental energy on finding solutions for problems) as opposed to being problem-minded (focusing primarily on the problem itself). Analyzing your thought processes is important in changing behavior and creating success in your life. The actions we take are the result of our thoughts and beliefs. In this chapter, we’ll look more deeply at how your thought patterns tend to be, and how you can change any negative mentality that could be standing in your way of creating your best life possible. Why let another day go by without trying to become better than you were before? It doesn’t matter if you have been a negative person all your life. What matters is that you start today to be more positive. You need to be a willing spirit, and I will show you the way. Thinking is a skill. We have control over how our minds work. We may have tendencies toward certain thoughts based on our unique personality, our upbringing, and what our mind and spirit absorb from our environment, but


Weight Whys

we have more control over our thoughts than we often realize. You may be thinking, “I am naturally more on the pessimistic side. I can’t change who I am. What does this have to do with my ability to become healthier?” My answer is…everything. If you go into an endeavor with a negative attitude allowing your mind to think defeating thoughts, you are likely to get what you expect. Don’t underestimate your ability to fulfill your own prophesy. This is what I am trying to impress upon you. The power in everything you will do in life is held in your ability to train your mind to perform at its best. Successful people have learned to create visions and train their minds to think the thoughts that will influence them to carry out the actions that will get them their desired outcome. Intention without action is a heavy burden to bear. Release your preconceived notions that you can’t think positively and open yourself up to the possibility.

Exercising Positive Thinking
Try this mental exercise: 1. 2. Think about a desired action that would help you to be healthier. An example might be eating a nutritious breakfast in the morning. What thoughts would be helpful in producing this desired action? Some might be, “Eating breakfast might help me to not be so hungry at lunchtime” or “A high fiber cereal and fruit would be a great way to start the day. I could eat whole-wheat toast and a banana in the car on the way to work.” What thoughts might you have that would not be helpful to you if you were trying to achieve this action? Maybe, “I don’t have time for breakfast and its extra calories,” “I don’t feel like eating in the morning,” or “I’m sure going to miss my morning doughnut.”


Do you see how easily we can allow our thoughts to be self-defeating to our goals before the behavior starts? It is in the mind that these battles are won or lost. The good news is that even if you have lost time and time again in trying to manage your weight, the victory of good health is only as far away as a thought. Much of your life is a result of what your thoughts have led your actions to be. This truth can help break down any endeavor that might seem overwhelming to you.

Positive Thinking Cultivates Success


Say you have fifty pounds to lose. You might want to do this exercise to identify what thoughts you have that are helpful, and which ones are not so helpful. The way to become a positive thinker is simply to become more mindful of identifying the negative thoughts and learning to replace them with positive ones. The practice of positive thinking then becomes more natural over time. I say it is a “learned” skill because anyone is capable of learning the process that we went through to do it. It is up to you to be persistent enough to continue practicing it until it becomes natural. I have coached clients who are very comfortable being negative thinkers. They would rather let negative thoughts and excuses keep them in bondage than learn the discipline of thinking better. It’s sad to see, but that’s where people are sometimes. Whether it be laziness or fear of failure, they are not at the point where they desire to put in the effort to change. Just for the record, you have permission to be there. It doesn’t mean you will never change or there is no hope. It simply means that you aren’t ready for change yet.

Comfortable in Reality Thinking
Desire to change has to come from within. I’m assuming you have it to some degree since you picked up this book. There may be times when you don’t achieve your full potential. Don’t do yourself the disservice of copping out, saying that you “can’t” when the reality is, you “won’t”. Often, I see that people tell themselves that they can’t change because they don’t know how or they are incapable of controlling themselves. The reality is that they don’t want to do the work it takes to make it happen. Don’t rob yourself of your potential by selling yourself a lie. Call it what it is and be real in admitting you aren’t there yet. That might help you to determine what you can do to bring yourself closer to being ready.

Positive vs. Negative Reinforcement
One of the problems I see is that people try to change their behavior with negative reinforcement. This means to punish your for bad behavior as discouragement from repeating it. This punishment shows itself many different ways. It could be emotional punishment such as feeling guilty or angry for overeating. It could be starving yourself with only salads for a week because you overate and gained five pounds on vacation. This type of negative reinforcement, punishing for behavior, rarely works in helping to stop that undesired behavior. The best way to stop unwanted behavior is to use something called posi-


Weight Whys

tive reinforcement. This means rewarding desired behavior. The better you can become at using positive reinforcement more often and negative reinforcement less often, the more capable you will be of changing. A great example to illustrate this is in the area of exercise. If I am coaching you, we might set a goal to walk three times this week, for one-half hour each session. When we talk the following week, you tell me you exercised two days, instead of three. In asking you what your thoughts are on that, you tell me you are disappointed in yourself because you didn’t achieve your goal. If this is all you allow your thought process to be, you are using negative reinforcement. This way of thinking is not setting you up to be successful in achieving your goal of three days when you try it again this week. The only thoughts you have given yourself are that you have failed. What about the two days that you did exercise? If you were doing nothing before, then surely two days of exercise deserves applause. By giving yourself accolades for accomplishing part of your goal, you are more likely to succeed next time than if you continued to tell yourself what a failure you were for not completing your goal. What you want to look at when we are talking about goal setting and changing behavior is what you can do to be your own coach and best friend. I am not talking about continuing to let yourself fall short of your goals and becoming satisfied with mediocre. I am talking about choosing a response that will enable you to get the best outcome.

Elite Athletes Use Positive Reinforcement
It has been heavily established in psychological research (and I have seen it time and again with clients) that negative reinforcement is not helpful, and positive reinforcement is. In studying the psychology of elite athletes, positive reinforcement is used overwhelmingly more often than any type of negative reinforcement. Studying these individuals can give us insight on how to attain success in any endeavor in life. They are the best at what they do. They have talent, but their opponents have talent as well. What sets elite athletes apart is their ability to perform to their true potential during critical times when the stakes are high. Could you imagine Tiger Woods stepping up to the tee thinking, “You’re not very good golfer. I hope you don’t shank this one like you did this morning in practice.” How about Barry Bonds at the plate thinking, “You’re getting too old for this, Barry. There’s no way you can hit a home run tonight.” What if I don’t finish this chapter today and I tell myself, “You will never finish this

Positive Thinking Cultivates Success


book, Cheri. What were you thinking starting a book with three small children at home anyway?” These thoughts not only hinder you from making progress toward your goal, but they waste your mental energy and might stop you from achieving success. Don’t let negative thoughts steal your life. Train yourself to think right and become your personal best.

Expect the Best
Another aspect of being your personal best involves expecting the best from yourself. This can be in managing your weight and every other area of your life. Everyone has challenges. For you, it may be your weight. For someone else, it could be being on time, or managing their money. The bottom line is that you are going to get what you expect from yourself. If you tell yourself, “I’m not a good saver. It’s the way I am,” you will go through life and never save a dime. But, if you tell yourself, “Saving money has been a problem for me in the past, but I am committed to learning a different way to manage my money that will help me to save better. Other people in the world save their money and I can learn too.” Don’t spend another minute thinking, “I will always be overweight. Nothing I try works for me.” Those thoughts are doing you absolutely no good. You need to come to life everyday expecting the best from yourself and the best in others. This means being hopeful and believing for the best, even when there isn’t any evidence of it yet. You can become healthier. You can exercise regularly and improve your heart health. You can change any part about yourself that you are not satisfied with. Why haven’t you changed up to this point in your life? Why do you accept this behavior from yourself? What things might have been “normal” to you before that you are now finding unhealthy? Is being inactive “normal” and a way of life with your family?

Turning the Page to a New Beginning
Successful people don’t spend time dwelling on the problem, but it is wise to analyze what went wrong before and use that information to help create effective behavior. It is not good to spend time agonizing over the past. Feeling angry about past circumstances is a waste of time. That time would be better spent deciding out where to go from here, and creating a game plan for how to get there.


Weight Whys

Expressing your emotions can be cleansing. Writing down in a journal or talking over the past can be productive if you balance living in the present with looking toward the future. Learning about this principle and applying it can have tremendous outcome, especially in parenting and relationships with others. Go ahead, lose the guilt! Turn the page on any unfulfilled goals and focus on moving forward and feeling good about yourself. See if it doesn’t bring you better results. What have you got to lose besides the weight? If you are interested in learning more about positive reinforcement, see the Recommended Reading List for books that I have found enlightening, even life changing.

Accepting Yourself Along the Journey
The best foundation for positive thinking is to accept that all you can do is your best. This means accepting who you are, right now, today. It has to be good enough. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn more about yourself and how you can do everything within your control to become your best. The challenge comes in honestly seeking. Ask yourself, “Is this the best I can do today?” If the answer is no, try harder. If the answer is, yes, then be your own friend about it, learn to love yourself, and know that in each and every moment lies the potential for a new beginning. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow. You can discover the best of yourself today.

Thoughts for the Road
Practice the positive thinking exercise from this chapter. Identify areas of your weight and wellness that have been challenging you and evaluate what your thoughts about them have been. Don’t forget to complete the exercise by writing some positive thoughts. Use them the next time you catch yourself thinking negatively. Ask yourself how much time you spend thinking about your problems and making excuses versus how much you spend figuring out solutions. Do you believe positive thinking is a learned skill and that you can become better at using it to your advantage? List your negative self-talk statements. Write them down quickly without judgment. Go back over your list, asking yourself where some of these thoughts came from.

Positive Thinking Cultivates Success


Decide whether you want to continue to allow them to be there and how they have helped you in life. Character is the ability to follow through on a commitment long after the mood in which it was made has passed.—Steven Covey

Nurturing the Spiritual


You Have To Believe You Can Do It

This next section on nurturing your spiritual self is what I believe to be the most powerful part of this book. You will not be able to apply what you’ve learned about physical and emotional well-being unless you increase your awareness of how they are impacted by your spirituality. You may have seen different types of “holistic” health programs that offer to help you fulfill spiritual needs. I will leave it up to you to explore what your own personal beliefs are. For the sake of our work together and our goal to improve your overall health and help you lose weight, let’s operate from the premise that we are all spiritual beings. Clearly, we benefit from acknowledging and coming to peace with how we choose to nourish that intimate part of ourselves. To define what the spirit is makes me realize the wonderful complexity of our spiritual selves. We all have a physical body and a mind that processes our thoughts and emotions. We also have spirits that contain the heart of who we are. For what we’ll be talking about together, it doesn’t matter if you are sure of who you are spiritually or if you are not quite certain. To be sure, religion is not synonymous with spirituality. Although, I do think our spirituality and view of ourselves is impacted by whether we believe we were created by a God who loves us or if we perceive our existence to be a cosmic accident; what matters is that you are willing to examine this beautifully unique part of yourself and explore who you are with the intent to create your best life.



Weight Whys

The Heart of True Health
The rest of this book is the substance of how to create your best life possible. Until now we have talked about what you need to know to set the foundation for healthy living. The rest of it, the spiritual side, involves becoming intimate with who you are, so you can apply health principles authentically, long term, and not just make superficial changes that are temporary and go against who you really are. My challenge to you is if you have not yet made the commitment to yourself to get healthy, do some heart preparation to give this more of an investment. I know it’s difficult. I know you might be tired. Take a deep breath and relax. Do something to rejuvenate your spirit. Try something new. Smile more today. Call a friend for lunch or a walk and tell them your thoughts on this book. Start this segment of the program with a renewed freshness, with faith that you have the potential to make your life better than it has ever been. One of the reasons why exploring your whole self is crucial to good health is that our actions are an outward expression of what we think and what we value. When I am coaching someone, I try to ask questions to reveal what their values are now and help them understand what they would like them to be for the future. Looking at how our actions reflect our values, we know that many people see the value in brushing their teeth. Of course, everyone values their teeth. We like to eat with them and smile with them. They make it easier for us to pronounce words. There are many wonderful advantages to having teeth. Somewhere along the line, the value of the actual brushing process has also been instilled as a value to you. You believed what you were told about them falling out if you didn’t take care of them, and you have created the habit that every morning (and every night), you will brush them. We have the core value of the teeth, and the value of the brushing process, which is evidenced by your action of brushing regularly.

What Do Your Actions Show That You Value?
What do your actions show that you value right now in terms of your health? Many times I will begin coaching someone and they will tell me they want to be on an exercise program, but they can’t follow through with it. They will tell me they value exercise, but their actions show they don’t. I try to help them understand this and experiment with what we need to do to make exercise more valuable. Do they understand why they should exercise? Do they not

You Have To Believe You Can Do It


value it because they don’t think it will truly make a difference in their health? Is their lack of clarity now resulting in inter-conflict and frustration with their inability to change? Ideally, our actions should be a result of what we value. Many people don’t explore this and waste time doing things that don’t line up with their values. Then, they wonder why they are constantly frustrated by the results.

More Than a Mind-Body Experience
We must realize that it’s not just the “mind-body” connection. Your heart and beliefs are at the core of the choices you make and must be considered. This part of ourselves must be developed and explored if we are to experience the fullness of life. I think it’s more of a heart-mind-spirit-body connection. When I read research or literature about the “mind-body” effect, I know the heart and spirit have to be factored in somewhere to make this occur. Why can you tell your mind something on an intellectual level, but if you don’t feel it in your heart, you don’t believe it? It’s not enough to change what’s in your mind. It’s not enough to have a mind-body connection. You have to change the beliefs in your heart that put those thoughts there in the first place. Assume you can achieve your goals and full potential. What does that look like? How does it feel? The possibilities for what you can do with your life are limitless. The dreams and visions you have for yourself are attainable. What may be holding you back is what you think you are capable of when you look in the deepest corners of your heart. When you look inside yourself, do you see any of the reasons that might be holding you back? Do you see untruths you’ve been told or have told yourself about why you can’t be the person you desire to be? You may be thinking, “I see my heart, my weaknesses, and shortcomings, and I don’t know what to do.” What we will explore is how to see as far into yourself as you can, and how to do everything within your control to make it more positive and fulfilling than it’s ever been before.

Hope Grows the Fruit of Success
To achieve a challenging goal, you must have hope. You must believe you have the potential to lose fifty pounds and keep it off, be someone who exercises most days of the week for the rest of your life, or whatever your personal aspiration might be. Hope is the ability to see the potential in what has not yet happened. Before it happens in the physical realm, hope has to be there to help it grow.


Weight Whys

Developing confidence in your ability to succeed happens from the inside out. Perseverance and a positive attitude are qualities that can be added, but you need the seed of hope to be planted before you can see the fruit of success. The main problems why many people aren’t living to their full potential come down to four basic reasons: laziness, being discouraged (by others or life in general), lack of knowledge, and feeling hopeless. These are the causes why millions people live in frustration. They know life must be better than this, but for one of these four reasons, they have not made progress to change it. Working together, we can touch each of these areas so you have the tools you need to be your personal best. Everyone has that potential. Whatever you can do to find hope in a hopeless world and encouragement when you feel discouraged…do it. Seek encouragement and hope in each situation. When you do, you will be able to give it to someone else who may need it too. In dealing with the matters of life, it is not enough to say positive affirmations or put post-its of famous quotes on your desk. Those things can be inspiring, but what life really comes down to are the issues of your heart. If you feel in your heart you are an ugly person, it won’t help to wake up and shout, “I am a beautiful person” ten times every morning. Your words will have no effect if you do not focus on changing your heart. Don’t waste time on superficial efforts. Look into your heart and examine what you believe. Think about what beliefs would be more loving and encouraging instead. Your personal truths will always come out when you are under pressure. If you have a core belief that you cannot control your impulses and are not capable of being healthy, you can try all you want to change your behavior. When stress increases in your life, you will probably revert to the old behavior that supports your unhealthy core beliefs.

Positive Core Beliefs
Do you believe that you can achieve? Are you worthy of having a full life and enjoying relationships with others? If you are not in control of your emotions, do you believe you can ever keep them in balance? Do you believe you can live in peace while dealing with difficult people? What you need to believe in your heart is that you are capable of changing. Then, instill inside the supporting reasons why the change would benefit you. The beliefs you hold may feel comfortable for you, especially if they have been there since you were a child. Most people have core beliefs that were developed in their childhood and some that have grown since then. When you

You Have To Believe You Can Do It


make the investment of seeing what yours are and consciously deciding what you want them to be, you can change them. Changing core beliefs is not something you do overnight. It is a process of constant self-discovery, learning what is inside you, where it might have come from, and what you can do to make yours as positive as possible. Since improving your core beliefs and heart is a process, it is important to define success in this area properly so you know you are moving in the right direction. Success means continuously trying to become better than you were before. Becoming healthy is a journey. You must set goals, keep focused on them, and continue improving. Using a support system is often helpful in developing your self-image and positive core beliefs. Even elite athletes have coaches. They are already the best in their game, but they know they need encouragement and support. The best motivators understand it is not enough to externally motivate someone, to just talk them up and get them excited. What a great motivator does is teach and encourage others how to motivate themselves. Many people go to weekly weight management programs and don’t know how to maintain their weight loss once they no longer attend the meetings. I consider this a warning sign that the program is not working for that person. They may think because they cannot do it without the program, this is a reflection of how good it must be. The truth is that you must motivate yourself and be accountable to yourself for your life to truly be healthy. I’m not saying it’s wrong to go to regular groups and get encouragement and support. It’s a beautiful thing to see a group of people working together toward a common goal. What is wrong is when we go into that environment with a misconception that if we follow the rules, we will reap the benefits. We don’t realize how big a part changing our hearts and minds is in maintaining our new lifestyle. We are not robots. We are complex human beings and need to treat ourselves as such. Developing patience, trying different approaches, understanding your unique challenges, and treating yourself as an individual are all necessary in creating a healthier lifestyle. These traits become more natural when your core beliefs reinforce that you can do it. You must practice visualizing a better life in your heart, and believing it is possible.

Thoughts for the Road
What would your life look like if you had the core belief that you are capable of creating a healthy lifestyle?


Weight Whys

Would your confidence be different if you knew in your heart that you are capable of acquiring the qualities you need to live to your full potential? How do you imagine your full potential is different than the level you are achieving now? What excuses do you give yourself that relate to your current circumstance? Are you likely to be successful if you continue in this current thought pattern? What are some beliefs you need to work on developing to encourage you toward better health? Do something new to rejuvenate your spirit today.

Appreciating Your Value

I am saddened to see how many people don’t love themselves. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling that we have to prove ourselves worthy of love by what we have or what we do. I believe everyone has a longing in their heart to be loved simply for who we are. If we don’t feel this need is ever met, a real emptiness results. Life can be more fulfilling if you learn to love yourself for who you are. Accept yourself in spite of whatever shortcomings you have or how disappointed you may be in yourself for not having achieved what you feel you should have by now. Both the achievements and the shortcomings make up the beautiful person you are today. You have the human need to be loved in spite of your imperfections. I have coached many clients who are angry and disappointed for letting their weight get out of control. They let their health become so poor that it makes almost every area of their lives more difficult. You are not a bad person for letting yourself become this way. You may simply have more to learn about healthy eating, how to exercise to keep your heart healthy, and disciplining your emotional responses. You need to know deep down in your spirit that you are worthy of love even when you fall short.

You Have a Special Place in This World
You may be displeased with characteristics about yourself. It is a healthy desire to feel like you want to change things about yourself that bother you. It becomes unhealthy when you no longer consider yourself valuable. Feeling valuable means worthy of being here, worthy of expecting abundance in life,


Weight Whys

and knowing you have a special place in this world. Many struggle in the area of not being true to themselves in trying to prove their value. Some are willing to trade money or the prestige that comes from being labeled a workaholic at the expense of spending quantity time with their families or caring for their health. When people do this, they are not always fully aware of the cost at the time. Taking a step back to evaluate it and making sure you are spending your energy on what you want your values to be is a wise exercise. I am coaching someone now who lost over thirty pounds last year. Jeff made major changes in where he chose to spend his time. He was heavily involved in charity and volunteer work, which made him feel good and is a worthwhile endeavor. Jeff had to realize he was not capable of doing what he wanted with his charity work (at least not all at the same time) and still have time to take care of himself. After watching his brother die of a heart attack in his early-fifties, a result of being overweight and an unhealthy lifestyle, Jeff was now motivated to reset his priorities and balance his life.

Where Do You Find Your Value?
One of the revelations we discussed was how his tendency to occupy himself doing charitable work made him feel valuable as a person. Not being as involved now has left him with a void that he needed to reconcile in himself. There is nothing wrong with doing things and feeling like it fills you with a sense of purpose. It is when you feel so compelled to do, do, do that you no longer understand your innate value outside of those things. We just need to be sure to step back and count the cost. The cost of Jeff driving himself into the ground, not taking time to exercise, eating fast food on the run, and skipping meals took its toll. The end result might be that Jeff is in the hospital having open heart surgery or, loses his life because he was not wise in his choices. By balancing his life, Jeff has managed to lose weight and improve his life. He is truly an inspiration to others who are seeking to learn how to lose weight and keep it off. The way you were raised may have a bearing on what you perceive your value to be. When you were growing up, you may have gotten the message that you were only valuable if you were achieving something. It is perfectly wonderful to be productive and to be a doer, but you have to separate your “who” from your “do”. What you do is not the sum of who you are. If proving your value drives you to stay so busy you are neglecting your health or unable to maintain balance in your life, you are headed for trouble. Until you develop

Appreciating Your Value


the core belief that you are truly valuable as a human being, apart from what you do, you may never experience fulfillment of this need.

Body-Image vs. Self-Image
Another issue is how much you feel your value is attached to the way you look. Body image is how we perceive the way we look. Self-image has to do more with what we perceive our value to be as a person. You need to separate these and realize the way we look does not have anything to do with our worth as a person. The world will tell you differently. It is not my imagination that I get better service at the mall when I am dressed nicely than when I am wearing my sweatpants. I know I am acting the same. I am a confident person, able to make eye contact and express myself clearly in an assertive manner. What I realized is that whether they are conscious of it or not, they treated me differently based on the way I was dressed. I’ve experienced people who challenged my value as a health professional because I was younger than they were. Most of us have had some experience when another has judged our worth based on how we look. It is natural, to some degree, to judge by outer appearance. Although I believe in being presentable and doing the best with what you’ve got, there may be times when you will be judged unfairly and should choose not to allow it not to affect you. You’ve got to know in your spirit that you were born with value and stop feeling as though you have to earn it.

Being Intimate With Yourself
Part of the journey to experiencing total wellness involves getting to know your true self and appreciating who you are. Do you know yourself well at this point in your life? Do you know your likes and dislikes, hobbies, things you find pleasure in, little quirks, and unique ways you have of doing things? You can learn to appreciate your value by thinking what makes you unique. What makes your heart melt? What are you passionate about? What makes you angry? What’s your personality type? What are your strengths and weaknesses? You can find beauty in your weaknesses, even the ones you have spent your life resisting or despising. You can learn to appreciate them because they make you who you are. It doesn’t mean you will never change them. Your experience struggling with this will help you better understand someone else later on


Weight Whys

down the road. You may be able to help them when you have learned to work it out for yourself. You never know in what ways your weaknesses will be turned into something beautiful. The reason I talk about finding our value and being hopeful about the future is because I often see that is at the root when people are struggling. How can I coach someone to become healthier when they don’t feel like their lives have much meaning? In getting to the core issue of helping them see how profoundly special they are, it is easier to inspire them to make healthy lifestyle changes. I don’t want you to waste time putting bandages on your problems. If your sense of value is an issue, talk with someone, start journaling to work it out, or do something to help yourself. Becoming more aware of this area can be helpful on the journey. Whether or not you like yourself affects your ability to manage your weight and make healthy choices that are in your best interest.

The Deeper Issues
Sometimes, people hide behind their weight because they are afraid of others knowing who they really are. They create an emotional boundary by building a physical boundary around themselves. They may use their weight as an excuse for why they don’t do things or forge relationships with friends or romantic interests. These are some issues I’ve experienced in working with people. If you are certain being overweight isn’t an issue of your emotional wellness and whether or not you like yourself, exploring the answers to these questions can help you ensure this isn’t a contributing factor hindering your success. At the very least, it will help you to understand others who may seek your advice in maintaining their health. In knowing your value, it is reasonable to feel sad and discouraged sometimes. It is great to know what makes you happy and gives you pleasure, but there will be times when you are not happy. It seems we are living in a time when people want a pill to cure everything. If you are taking medication and working with a medical professional who is helping you, I am not advising you to stop your medication without talking to them first. I am suggesting that you make informed decisions and understand it is normal to experience a whole spectrum of emotions. Learning the life skills to deal with a situation can be a better choice then trying to remedy the emotional discomfort we feel with a medication.

Appreciating Your Value


Not too long ago, I was coaching a client who was thinking about seeing her doctor for anti-anxiety medication. Pam shared with me that she felt anxious much of the time and didn’t know how to calm down. In talking it through, Pam determined much of her anxiety came from what was happening to her at work. She worked with cancer patients and felt she was being assigned too many cases to give them the care they needed. We talked about what her options were and how she might approach her supervisor. Pam talked with her supervisor and is doing great. She resolved her work dilemma by discussed it with her supervisor. The anxiety she felt from what was happening at work was carrying over into her personal life. Now, she feels she has been given the resources to be successful at work and it has improved her personal life as well. Pam worked through her emotions, identified the cause of her anxiety, learned the life skills to do something about it, and avoided going on medication. Had she gone on medication, it may have alleviated her anxiety, but she would still have the same problem. Sometimes, our emotions indicate something in our lives need attention. Before taking mood altering medication, it is wise to think it though and feel comfortable that the emotions you are experiencing are not a normal part of life. Although they are often prescribed at the request of a patient with no question, that doesn’t mean it is in your best interest. Sometimes, when we don’t like things about ourselves, the best thing to do is work though it and accept it as part of what makes us whole human beings, capable of experiencing all kinds of emotions, even the ones that hurt. Other aspects of your uniqueness are the gifts and talents you have. What do you dream of exploring? If you’re not doing things that you have a talent or passion for, what is stopping you? Part of finding balance is doing what is pleasurable to you. The last thing I’d like to mention with respect to valuing yourself is that you will find it much easier if you have self-respect. This is a character quality that is developed when you that you can rely on yourself to follow through with your commitments. Nothing is sadder than someone who is all talk, and no action. Think of a person you know who is not reliable. They may arrive an hour later than promised or not pay back money they borrow. Now, think of someone who you respect. They can be taken at their word and you can count on them to be trustworthy. Self-respect involves how confident and trustworthy you are that you can be taken at your word to follow


Weight Whys

through on the goals you set. No one feels good making promises to themselves and then consistently not carrying them out. If you are challenged in this area, it is better to make a small commitment to yourself and get experience following through. Setting your mind to a task and trying your best to follow through builds confidence that you can rely on yourself. Chances are if you have problems relying on yourself, other people have trouble relying on you too. Be honest about how you need to improve in the area of developing self-respect. This will be a huge step in helping you to see your value as a person.

Thoughts for the Road
What do you do to find your value? Do you have inner security of a knowing that your life is meaningful simply because of who you are? Is this an issue for you that affects your health habits? What steps could you take this week to improve your sense of meaning and value?

Meeting Your Emotional and Spiritual Needs

When I talk with people about their weight, it is almost without fail that the emotional or spiritual side of life will come up. There is no getting away from the fact that we are body-mind-spirit beings. Our behavior is influenced by our feelings and the needs that drive those feelings. The same is true for our health behavior. Many times I find that people’s choices are influenced by emotional needs they are unaware of, either because they haven’t worked it though to understand it or because they are trying to ignore it. Whether there are problems in a marriage, loneliness, a broken relationship that is causing hurt, or whatever emptiness there is inside, people are trying all sorts of ways to fill it. Sometimes we can identify these needs in coaching, and then decide how to meet the need in a more appropriate, healthy way. It is more productive to learn how to confront your needs then to avoid them. Otherwise, they will work themselves out some other way—like causing you to overeat. Sometimes, identifying the need can help you prevent it from driving your behavior. You may not have the skills to cope with it yet, but once you’ve named it, you will be much better at recognizing what it is when it rears its head. Sometimes coping with a situation may simply mean talking about it. Whether it is with a counselor, in a support group, a wellness coach, or even a trusted friend, it helps to get clarity by talking it though. Then, you can more easily figure out a course of action. That might mean deciding to accept the



Weight Whys

reality that you do not have control over the situation. Other times, it may mean substituting a more healthy coping mechanism. Many times, our problems involve other people. Coping may mean accepting you cannot change another person. You can learn how to communicate, or use positive reinforcement, but the truth is there are some situations you just have to learn to live with.

You Can’t Change Other People
We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, ourselves included. Learn to give each other some grace and room to grow. Then, focus on what we can change, which is ourselves. How do we contribute to the situation? What specifically can we change and what do we need to accept? Many times finding peace in our relationships with others simply requires thinking it through and realizing we’ve done all we can. The other option is to live in frustration, which is what some spend their entire lives doing.

Caring Enough to Change
There are times in coaching when I can see that what people are doing to themselves through their health habits, is an outward expression of what they’re feeling about themselves on the inside. In working it through with them, they may discover the reason they are not taking good care of themselves is because they feel hopeless. Not only do they feel hopeless about losing weight, but they feel hopeless about life in general. I remember working with a wonderful woman last year who let herself become so big she had a difficult time doing ordinary things like getting in and out of the car and the bath tub. In our coaching we were able to get to the heart of it. Her problem was not just that she was eating too many calories or moving enough, she had also lost her zest for life. She stayed in the house most the time, even working from home to avoid being around other people. She lived alone. The only thing that was even a slight motivator to her was that she was in her forties and already her health was declining. It was starting to make her nervous because she did not want to die. But, her main challenge was that she did not feel much reason to live. We talked about the unique qualities she had, what she enjoyed doing, what she didn’t like about herself, and how she could motivate herself to make better health choices. She shared intimate details about waking up in the middle of the night, and sometimes eating a whole pie while she watched television or read a book. We talked

Meeting Your Emotional and Spiritual Needs


about things I’m sure she was ashamed of and embarrassed about, and in sharing and telling the truth to someone, it took away some of the power those impulses had over her.

Talk Openly About Your Challenges
It’s interesting how many people have the same problems, but what makes them so dysfunctional is that no one talks about them. If you have behavior you think may be unhealthy, talk to someone about it. Get it out in the open. You may be able to process it better and decide if it is something you need to change. The things you think are strange about yourself may not be as uncommon as you think. We all struggle, and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. If you think this “feeling stuff” doesn’t apply to you when it comes to your health habits, be patient and openhearted in reading this chapter. I guarantee you will someday meet someone who needs it. Chances are some of your behavior is influenced by an emotional or spiritual need, and being aware of it could be helpful. Feelings often dictate our actions. It becomes unhealthy when there is no thought process associated with the action. We can empower ourselves by being aware of this phenomenon, and learning how to use it to our advantage. We are so complex as human beings that we need to constantly examine the motives for our behavior and consciously decide which actions will be to our advantage. It is important to examine our lives and see how we choose to meet the emotional and spiritual needs that we all have. In our society, people turn to medications, food, drugs, and alcohol, to fill the void inside. Some may use acceptable coping methods, but to an unhealthy extreme. They choose excessive exercising, alcohol drinking, taking prescription medications, and overworking to fill their emptiness and distract themselves from the problems or people they may be avoiding.

Honestly Confronting Your Emotions
You must identify the needs that drive you and learn the appropriate skills and coping mechanisms to fulfill them. The sad thing is that people who do not confront the truth about their lives don’t fulfill their needs anyway. Although the need drives them, they are not meeting it properly, so they will continue to be frustrated until they confront what it really is. You need to do the emotional work necessary to figure it out, which is something only you can do. A


Weight Whys

coach, therapist, or friend can ask questions to prompt you to learning these things about yourself, but these are issues only you can work out. In the previous chapter, we talked about how we live in such a quick-fix society that people don’t want to process their emotions anymore. It is common for people to take anti-depressants because they are experiencing sadness as a normal response to an event or situation. I’ve talked to a number of people who started taking anti-depressants because they were going through a divorce or some other tragedy, and they were sad about it. Then, they began having trouble sleeping, so they took sleeping pills. Then, they gained weight from overeating to fill their need for companionship and heal their loneliness. If children were involved, they too learned to deal with problems through external means (as modeled by their parent) instead of working through their feelings and asking other people for help. People fare better when they learn coping mechanisms that deal with the issues. Even though divorce is common these days, it doesn’t change the fact that people who were once a family now have to develop new norms. Sleeping alone each night after you have shared a bed with your spouse for twenty years is going to be painful. You may feel lonely and have difficulty falling asleep. In my experience, these issues are best resolved by working through the emotions and developing new behaviors that support a healthy environment. I realize that everyone is unique and life situations are complex. It may be of benefit to find a qualified professional in the behavioral health field to help you decide on the best course of action for your situation. However, I see a huge health problem in our society. That is, primary care physicians prescribing mental health medications, such as anti-depressants, in epic proportions. People are staying on these medications for years and no one is following up with the behavioral side of the patient’s problem. The system is broken and needs to be fixed. Our society is losing their ability to cope with life issues in a healthy way. It’s something to think about if you are ever in this situation and deciding on a treatment plan with your doctor. It’s best to see a psychologist or psychiatrist who actually works in the behavioral health field.

Questioning Your Needs
When I work with people, especially in the area of eating behaviors, it is helpful for them to ask themselves, “What am I really hungry for?” If they do this before eating, they can drastically reduce the number of times they are eating when they are not physiologically hungry. For example, when eating out of

Meeting Your Emotional and Spiritual Needs


boredom, as so many of us do, ask yourself this question and the honest answer might be, “I am hungry for entertainment…for some excitement in my life.” By identifying your need correctly, you can decide if eating is the way you want to meet it. You might put down your snack and decide you will turn off the television and go for a walk, or drive to a park and look at the view. Do something new. Look through a catalog and sign up for a class. Choose something that is a healthy, productive response to your need, one that will enlarge your spirit, instead of your waistline.

The Pain of a Broken Spirit
There are times when I am coaching someone I can see so clearly that their spirit is broken. Maybe they were abused as a child, are in an unhealthy relationship, or have some other hurtful issue in their life that has left them wounded. They need healing inside before they can feel whole enough to deal with the issue of their weight and the health problems plaguing them. As you may know, life can feel almost unbearable when you have a broken spirit. By admitting this brokenness, you can begin to heal. Writing about it in your journal, talking with a professional or good friend, or going to church to fill your spirit can help to heal even the deepest pain. Don’t live your life feeling incomplete. Keep trying things until you find what will make you feel whole. So many settle for functioning out of their brokenness, when there is a whole life of fulfillment just waiting for them. You only need to have the courage to find it.

Inspiring Yourself
Think about what makes your spirit feel alive. Think of some times in your life when you felt whole and energized. What were you doing that made you feel that way? The beauty of life is that everyone is different in this way. Some people love musicals, others find them boring. Some love art, others love baseball, perhaps both. Think about what makes your spirit smile. Explore your uniqueness and use it as motivation to take better care of your health. Let it inspire you to be your best so you can fulfill your ultimate purpose. Everyone should have a sense of purpose or mission in life, something you have a desire to accomplish. How can your gifts and skills be used to help others? Write it down and put it somewhere you can see it. You need to be certain you have a purpose to be motivated to care for your health. Only when you are doing your best to care for your wellness can you perform optimally in all the


Weight Whys

other areas of life. Remember, there will only ever be one you. What are you meant to do here on earth? Don’t miss your purpose because you wasted your time worrying about your weight and hating who you are. You are special because you are here. All of us have struggled discovering who we are and how it is connected with our purpose. The more you understand this, the easier it will be to use it to motivate yourself to make your health a priority. One of the ways to fulfill your emotional and spiritual needs is to feel you are serving your purpose. You need your physical body (a healthy heart, at the very least) to be able to serve that purpose. You have a responsibility to yourself and to the rest of the world to do your personal best in taking care of it.

Thoughts for the Road
Do you have an emotional or spiritual need that is unfulfilled? If so, how does this affect how you care for yourself? What makes your spirit feel alive? Do you have a sense of purpose at this point in your life? What can you do to cultivate it? List your unique gifts and qualities. Use this journal section to gain clarity on why you are important enough to make caring for your health a priority.

How Your Weight Affects Your Life

Let’s talk more specifically in this chapter about your weight. This book is primarily written for those who are trying to lose weight, but I like to emphasize improving health, instead of just losing weight. I have found that mentally it’s less stressful when you focus on getting healthy as opposed to losing weight. The pressure of thinking about your weight all the time can be burdensome. I believe it is much more productive and positive to stay focused on becoming healthier, and let the weight take care of itself. In terms of caring for your health, it is wise to think of managing a healthy weight as one way to care for yourself. The BMI (Body Mass Index) in the back of the book lists a healthy range of what your weight should be, based on your height. The heavier you are, the higher your risk of developing negative health conditions (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, etc.). If you are overweight, you need to change it, using healthy methods.

Looking Back to Move Ahead
Examine the course of your life and think about the role your weight has played along the way. What have you learned about what doesn’t work for you and what does? When I am coaching with someone, I like to know whether they have struggled with their weight their whole life or just as an adult. Did it start in college, when they took a sedentary job, when they became a stay-athome mom, the CEO of a company? What is their “weight management his157


Weight Whys

tory” and how has it affected them emotionally over that time? I recently worked with a woman, Megan, who is trying to lose the weight she gained during pregnancy. She revealed that she had an eating disorder until her early twenties, in the past during which time she exercised compulsively and had unhealthy eating patterns. This was a painful and stressful time for her. She is now at the point where she is not burdened emotionally by her weight, but knows that it is not healthy. Megan is a 35-year-old woman with a great marriage, an adorable one-year-old daughter, plenty to be thankful for, but she has high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol because she hasn’t taken good care of her health. I don’t like to think negative, but I believe if she doesn’t change her ways, she is likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and maybe heart disease by the time her daughter is twenty-five. If Megan is wise enough to think ahead, she will see she’s not only hurting herself now, but will have even more health problems to deal with over the next five, ten, and twenty years down the road. Part of what we discovered in looking at Megan’s past was that it was difficult for her to look at the dumbbells she had in her house without those old, bad feelings from when she used to obsess about her weight. Weighing herself everyday, feeling bad who she was, never being thin enough—these feelings plagued her for the better part of her young adult life. We discovered one of the reasons she wasn’t exercising now is because she feared those feelings of compulsion might return. In talking it through, Megan realized she is not the same person she was fifteen years ago. She has a better sense of herself and can learn better ways of coping with compulsive feelings that might recur. She started verbalizing her fears to her husband, which helped her no longer feel so controlled by them. Sometimes, being open about our fears takes away their power over us. Now that Megan’s fears weren’t a secret anymore, they weren’t able to grow inside her as before. She knew if she had compulsive feelings that she could find healthy ways to cope with them. Perhaps, journaling her exercise and discussing it with an accountability partner to be sure it doesn’t become excessive might work.

Comfortable Distractions
A common phenomenon I see is when people focus on their “weight problem” to avoid facing other issues that bother them. Thinking about their weight, talking about their weight, going to weight management programs, trying dif-

How Your Weight Affects Your Life


ferent diets, having their weight be an all-consuming issue in their lives, can be a comfortable distraction. These activities help them avoid the other problems around them they would not rather deal with (or don’t know how to deal with). Being overweight and struggling with weight can become so much a part of a person’s identity that it actually hinders them from losing weight. If they lost the weight permanently, they might have to give up making jokes about themselves. They might lose the relationships they’ve made with the common bond of unsuccessful weight loss. They couldn’t talk about food all the time, have food be the central focus of their socializing, or communicate through food.

Losing Weight Will Change Your Whole Life
Our weight can have a significant impact on areas of our life we would never imagine if we hadn’t thought it though. Many times, people I have coached who have lost weight tell me about relationships they have that have changed because they are no longer overweight. Although this can be a sad thing, it makes sense that there would be feelings of jealousy or resentment toward someone close to you who has worked hard and achieved a goal that you would like to achieve yourself. It is inevitable that their relationship would change. Instead, the jealous, resentful friend should get past these immature feelings and feel happy for that person. Real, mature friends should encourage each other and get past their own selfishness. It is also helpful when the one who has lost weight continues to encourage the other and not tell them what to do just because they have fulfilled their goal first. People learn and do things in their own time, and we should be encouraging and supportive to one another. Have you ever imagined how life would be different if you were not overweight? Would your personality or your relationships be different if you were in a more fit body? Would you have more confidence or express your opinion more freely? Would you set more goals for yourself? What do you feel you haven’t achieved because of your weight? Do you ever use your weight as an excuse for other weaknesses or shortcomings? Maybe you think you wouldn’t make as many mistakes at work if you weren’t overweight. Maybe you think whenever you make a mistake others perceive it to be because you are overweight. It is normal and healthy to acknowledge there is a relationship between how we feel about ourselves and how we think others perceive us. We all have


Weight Whys

a desire to feel accepted. Sometimes we struggle with that if we feel unattractive. We should be careful about the relationship between our confidence level and what we expect to look like. All you can do is present yourself to others to the best of your ability. What they do with that, how they perceive you to be, what judgments they place on you are out of your control.

Others’ Perceptions of Us
I used to have a problem with my students and clients judging me because they thought I was too young to know enough to teach them about their health. I don’t think my peers have ever denied me a professional opportunity because they knew me on a more intellectual and personal level. But, I had clients at one of my coaching jobs that preferred working with an older coach. I had to make a decision early on if I was going to have a fulfilling career, I had to learn I had no control over others’ perception of me. I couldn’t take it personally because that is what they felt comfortable with at the time. There will be times when people’s perception of you is not what you want it to be. If you have the opportunity to show them who you are, by the words you say and by being yourself, their perception of you may change. All of us have been prematurely judgmental at one time or another. We make assumptions about people without taking the time to find out who they really are. I understand our outward appearance has an impact on how others perceive us. If you try your best to be presentable and that isn’t good enough for someone…maybe that’s their problem, not yours. It is a mistake to allow others to define our self-value or worth. Don’t let the opinion of someone who doesn’t care for you diminish your self-esteem. It is one thing for someone who cares for us to approach us about our weaknesses with the intention of helping us be a better person. It is another when someone tries to make us feel less valuable because of what we look like or what we do. Do you know how many times, as I write this book, I have watched customers mistreat the Starbuck’s employees simply because they can? I wonder if they would talk to them the same way if they were their boss, or the CEO of a billion-dollar company. If you are going to live in this world, you need to know people will mistreat you simply because they think they can. That shouldn’t make you feel like any less of a human being. Be thoughtful how you treat others and quick to forgive others, and life will be much more peaceful. You don’t have to apologize for having hurt feelings if you sense someone is mistreating you. Instead of sitting around feeling resentful and depressed, use

How Your Weight Affects Your Life


this as an opportunity to assert yourself and set boundaries. Learn how to deal gently, but assertively, with people who are rude about you being overweight. Sometimes it’s best to overlook people’s meanness. Other times it’s productive to confront it and talk with them about what you perceive them to be doing.

Children and Weight
In studying the psychology of how weight management affects people’s lives, the dynamics of weight with children fascinates me. The human spirit is so complex that we can do things that have a negative impact on our health without knowing the reason. I have seen in working with kids that some will feel secure being overweight if it is a center of attention and distracts parents who suffer with marital problems. When little Tommy sees his parents problemsolving together on how to get him to lose weight, he may like the feeling of seeing them bond over a common problem. Overweight kids may also overeat to fill emotional needs their parents or peers fail to meet. They are like adults in this way, and it is often a learned behavior from their parents. As with adults, it is psychologically healthy to address being overweight by encouraging positive health behaviors. Focusing on healthy eating, being active, and learning how to process emotions effectively, will have a better impact on them in the big picture than to tell them they are obese and need to lose weight. I have worked with many adults who were put on strict diets as children by their well-intending parents, who still suffer the physical and emotional repercussions today.

You Are Lovable Just as You Are
The last issue to consider with respect to how your weight has affected your life is whether you feel someone could love you the way you are now. Whatever your physical state now, you are still just like everyone else in that you are worthy to be loved and have a need to be loved. If you believe this is a roadblock on your journey to managing your weight, talk to someone about it. Write about it in your journal. Do something productive to explore what this might be about. Although it is true that your weight will have an impact on what your life is like, you should be able to have loving relationships and feel significant in this world—no matter what size you are.


Weight Whys

Thoughts for the Road
Describe how your life would be different if you were not overweight. What life goals have you not accomplished for which you use your weight as an excuse? What is one step you could take to venture out passed the excuses and allow yourself freedom to achieve them?

Embracing the Journey

Living for More than Yourself

Living beyond yourself means being others-minded. We can be so selfabsorbed that we become overly concerned with what others think about us. We worry about how they might think we look, about being judged, and not being smart, pretty, or rich enough…I’m sure you have some of your own. Much of this concern could be eliminated if we weren’t so self-centered. If you have your mind on yourself all the time, it’s easy to be consumed with worry about how others judge you. While it is wise to be reflective most people care too much about what others may think. It is important to keep a healthy balance and not become too self-absorbed. It’s not popular in our culture to be others-minded. We have been told to look out for number one, sometimes even at the expense of others, do what makes you happy and feels good at the time. Our culture is all about asserting our personal rights and that’s the most important thing. If I’m having a bad day, I don’t have to be polite to others because I have the right to “express myself.” If I’m not a morning person, it doesn’t matter if I don’t respond to my co-worker’s greeting, right? Give me a break! We are too self-centered as a society. It would do us good to get our minds off ourselves for a while. Being thoughtful of others even on days when we don’t feel like it. Some of those I coach worry so much about their weight that they miss out on a huge part of their lives. They don’t do what they want to do, or say what they want to say, because they think everyone is judging them for being overweight. Why is it we think that everyone is watching to see what we do and waiting to make a judgment on it? It is healthy to practice introspective thinking and examine your life but too much focusing inward is not healthy for your


Weight Whys

spirit. The best way to find balance is by doing positive things for others and having some life purposes to focus on. It is refreshing for the spirit to feel you have a larger purpose in life. You don’t have to look far to see there are people in need. You may have skills and gifts that can help meet the needs of others and make them feel special. Practice thinking outside of yourself and it will become more natural over time.

Fear of Close Relationships
Our fear of trusting or being close to others hinders us from being othersminded. It feels more comfortable to isolate ourselves. That way we can avoid any type of relationship because we are afraid of being hurt. This may sound strange, but it might be helpful to evaluate your life and see if being more others-minded might help you get your mind off of your weight, and off yourself. Ask yourself, what would you do if you didn’t spend so much time thinking about your weight? How could the energy and time you spend thinking about yourself be better spent? How much money have you spent on weight management programs, books, tapes, exercise machines, and weight-loss shakes and supplements? It’s great to invest in self-improvement tools. But, by buying things you will half-heartedly try just so you can feel like you are doing something to lose weight, you are wasting your money and your time. How much money would you save if instead of buying every diet fad that came on the market, you just start exercising? Stop thinking so much about our weight and yourself and do something about what you want to change. Then, you can be free to live beyond yourself and find opportunities to help someone else. Others-minded people don’t think less of themselves, they think of themselves less often. Don’t be preoccupied with proving your value and importance to others. Focus on living life to the fullest and get beyond yourself.

Balancing Your Needs with the Needs of Others
Our need to feel important can cause us to do things that are not in our best interest. It can hinder us from setting appropriate boundaries with ourselves and others when our need to be needed overrides good decision making. You see this often in parenting when a parent tries to fulfill their need to be needed at the expense of helping their children grow and learn to do for themselves. While this is a common need, it can be fulfilled in a healthier way that can be beneficial to both people involved. We need to stop being consumed and

Living for More than Yourself


driven by what our needs and wants are and be more concerned with the consequences of our actions. To be others-minded, it is necessary for you to know that no matter your place in life, you have a significant and unique purpose. To unleash your potential to be your personal best, you have to find that balance between focusing on yourself and using what you’ve been given to help others. Using your special gifts and talents to benefit other people and the world around you makes life more meaningful. It is gratifying to help someone feel better about themselves or show someone love who may not have otherwise seen it. When you are self-absorbed, you are not usually focused on using your gifts to help someone else and the world misses out on a wonderful part of you. When I talk about being others-minded, I mean getting your mind off yourself so much and thinking how your actions can impact someone else’s day.

Your Impact on Others
Take shopping at the grocery store as an example. Someone who has a tendency to be self-absorbed might stand at the checkout and feel like others are looking at them or judging them. They may even get angry or defensive about it. They have spent the last three minutes creating a scenario in their mind that everyone is concerned with them and what they are doing. They may tell themselves that the person behind them is looking at what they’re buying and judging it. They are feeling self-conscious all the while the clerk is ringing them up. Get out of yourself for a moment. Here we have this clerk who has worked eight hours scanning groceries and you are too busy focusing on yourself to ask her how she’s doing and make conversation. You are too busy to realize you didn’t answer her when she asked how you were, and you didn’t make eye contact the whole ten minutes you were there. There are times when we are preoccupied, but I hope you see what I am trying to illustrate. The world is not all about you. You would be better off thinking less about yourself and concentrate on having a positive impact on those around you. You may ask why I am addressing this issue in a weight management book. It’s because I see it playing a role in people’s health. I have coached many who found losing weight easier when they spent less time thinking about food and themselves, and more time finding things to do that are positive and rewarding. You may already be balanced concerning being others-minded and not too self-absorbed and that’s great, but for some, developing in this area can be a big part of the equation.


Weight Whys

Encouraging Others
Always keep in mind that there are many people in the world who don’t like themselves and have an unmet need to feel loved. Every day, I see we are overly critical of ourselves, and underestimate our value. What would your life be like if you were the one to make someone else feel special today? What if you encouraged or inspired someone to be a better person and love themselves more? Is it a habit for you to encourage others or should you focus on getting more practice? Today, try to encourage someone instead of talking negatively or thinking too much about yourself. Your positive words can make a difference in someone’s life. If you are an encourager, the world could use you. Look around. See how many people aren’t smiling, looking as though they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. What could be so wrong? Perhaps, you could be the one to show your light and help give them a sense of hope in their situation. We can grow and learn about ourselves from helping other people. Having empathy for others and learning more about the world around you can help keep life in perspective. Chances are, when you look around, you can find someone who is worse off than you are. It may even cause you to be more thankful for what you do have. On your journey to becoming healthier, examine how your behavior may affect the health habits of those around you. We talked earlier about communicating through food. How about peer pressure eating? Do you pressure those around you to “just have one” so you feel less guilty? Examine how you talk about others. Do you talk negatively about others? “I thought you were on a diet.” “Look at how skinny she is…I hate her.” “Look at that outfit she’s wearing.” When you open your mouth, it should be to edify those around you. Stop saying things that are discouraging and negative even if that person can’t hear you. There is power in your words. When talking to others, and even to yourself, be thoughtful in choosing words that will build up and not tear down. Spend more time planting seeds of hope and less time looking for the negative. You will be amazed at how your life will change when you reap the rewards of being others-minded.

Thoughts for the Road
How have you been doing being others-minded? Can you think of anything you can change to be a more positive influence to

Living for More than Yourself


those around you? How might life be different if you spent less time and energy thinking about your weight? What can you do to create better balance for yourself in this area?

Self-Control Impacts Every Area of Life

I heard a saying a while ago that really made an impact on my own ability to achieve goals and help others accomplish theirs. There are only two kinds of pain concerning achievement, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. It was at that time I realized that it is normal to hurt while you are disciplining yourself to attain a goal. I can’t begin tell you how many hours I have spent writing this book. Hours I’d rather have spent with my husband and kids at the beach, the bookstore, or the park. But, I kept my mind focused on the prize and endured the temporary pain of discipline because I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t complete what I started. I knew there was an end if I continued to press on.

The Pain of Discipline
Although I can look back on it with peace about the process there were many times when it was downright painful. Starting out with a box of scribbled notes on napkins and sticky notes I’ve compiled over my years of teaching and coaching—organizing that chaos was no easy task. I spent months researching how to write a book and writing a sixty page outline before I even got to start writing the first draft.


Self-Control Impacts Every Area of Life


The same is true for any achievement you would like to see fulfilled in your life. Either you do it, and endure the pain of developing the discipline it takes to make it happen, or you live with the pain of regret, knowing you could have done what was required and you didn’t. One way to relieve some of the pain of discipline is to focus on the prize. This is especially true in managing your weight. Get clarity on what you can expect to be the benefits, and then focus on that. When you skip that doughnut in the morning or go for that walk when you really don’t feel like it, don’t focus on how difficult it is. Focus on the prize of becoming healthier with each good decision. Self-control requires maturity in your spirit. The more often you experience self-discipline, the better you will be able to endure that type of pain. It may even begin to feel a little less uncomfortable.

Empower Yourself
Recognizing you are only responsible for that which you have control over will help you decide where to change in the area of self-control. For example, when dealing with a difficult person, understand you are not responsible for their behavior, only your response to them. In analyzing our role in certain life circumstances, it is empowering to realize just how much control we do have. It can also be scary when you realize you have control over things you don’t necessarily want to accept responsibility for. The truth is, you have to own it before you can change it. Look at your life situations and relationships and evaluate if you are exercising the proper amount of accountability over them. I have coached people who are resentful over the circumstances they have created for themselves, yet they feel trapped by it. They feel more comfortable blaming their challenges rather than using self-control to create a solution. The only way to have the power to change what is yet to be improved in your life is to accept accountability and learn to use self-control to change it.

Being a Grown-Up
The only way to experience true empowerment is to realize that you are not a child anymore. Some of us would rather be children, but the cause of many people’s problems is that they choose to live like children in an adult world. They would like the privilege of being adults without the accountability. This is just not possible. This is not to say that you can’t be silly and act like a kid


Weight Whys

sometimes, but the true mark of maturity is when you can fit the role at the appropriate time. We all have self-control issues in life. For some people its food. For others, it’s exercise, money, business, parenting, or relationships. The pain their lack of control causes is often not worth the burden of the consequence. Self-control is a basic life skill, but I see it is at the core of many issues for the people I’ve coached. It is amazingly wonderful to coach someone as they are developing and improving in this area. Although I can see that the discipline is painful for them I can also be with them along the journey as they experience the reward. What a blessing it has been to work with clients who stepped out in this area and see how it improved the rest of their life as well. Self-control is a powerful character quality. Once you develop it for the purposes of managing your weight it is easier to use it to fulfill other areas in your life too. I’ve worked with clients who have improved in this area and decided to go back to school and finish their degree or learn how to save money better—all sorts of great achievements as a result of learning how to exercise the quality of self-control.

The Challenge to Change
What I want you to do is examine the big picture of your wellness and decide what you can change by using more self-control. Planning ahead for lunch, making time for exercise, and getting to sleep at a decent hour all require a measure of self-control. Brainstorm the problems first, and then work on finding solutions. Be open to experimenting when learning how to make things work for you. You must be flexible enough to try different methods to see what works, yet rigid enough to know that sometimes you simply need to stick to your word to make it work. After you’ve figured out a game plan, it’s up to you to stay focused on the prize and keep your commitment to yourself.

The Pain of Regret
In talking about self-control, let’s be specific about our relationship with food because I see it is an issue many struggle with. Clients sometimes tell me they love food and it is difficult for them to moderate their portion sizes because eating is something they thoroughly enjoy so much they “can’t” control themselves. As their Wellness Coach, I try to show them what their love for food

Self-Control Impacts Every Area of Life


and lack of self-control is costing them. It’s then up to the client to decide if the price is worth it and whether they are willing to change. We can be so short-sighted, only seeing how much pleasure we find in doing what it is we’re doing. We choose to deny or live in ignorance about what it might cost. If I were to factor in the excess weight, high blood pressure, and diabetes they will have ten years down the road, and maybe dying early of a heart attack, I wonder how many would still value the pleasure they get from overeating over the price they will have to pay in their health. The answer for most is no; they do not want to pay that price. But, it will require getting over that pain of discipline to avoid the real-life challenge of failing health.

Setting Boundaries
When you feel so compelled in your emotions (feelings, desires, cravings) to do something you know is not good for you, is it acceptable for you to give in without disciplining yourself? Do you want your love for food or laziness about exercise to override your logic and conscious decision-making ability? Some people perceive their lack of self-control to be a freedom they have, but be clear that there is no freedom to be found in living without boundaries. It’s not good to live in the weakness of being controlled by your environment. Make a decision to develop self-control within and experience the fruitfulness of a healthy, well-balanced life. Setting boundaries is absolutely necessary in creating the life you were meant to live. To settle for less is to live as though you are a child. The results of boundaries will yield more benefits than just better health habits. The real reward will be in the new found level of selfrespect you will discover when you are able to keep your commitment to yourself, even when no one else is looking.

Thoughts for the Road
What specific health habits could you improve by using more self-control? When has it been acceptable for you in the past to act on your compulsions and do what you know is not good for your health and weight management efforts? What is one step you will take to help discipline yourself better in the area of self-control?

Maturing Into Your Full Potential

In this final chapter, I want to talk with you about what I believe to be one of the most significant issues of life. And that is living to your full potential. It pains me to know that most people live and die with a dream in their heart that will never be realized. The visions and inspirations people have been given sometimes don’t happen because they didn’t get what they needed to mature into their best self. I often wonder what this world would be like if everyone did everything to the best of their ability. There would be no more half-heartedly going to work in the morning, no more slugging through the day with no energy, counting the hours until it’s time to go home. Instead, we would choose to only do those things that we were willing to do with the best of ourselves. I think people’s health would improve. I think people would probably sleep better at night. Work hard and play hard during the day, and then sleep hard at night. What would your life look like if you chose to do everything with passion to the best of your ability?

Igniting Your Passion
When I was fifteen, I got my first “real” job working at a fast-food restaurant. Can you believe the irony? I remember having this feeling deep inside me—a wanting to do everything to my absolute best ability. I didn’t notice it too much at the time, but most of the people I worked with could care less about how well they did their jobs. I would get so upset if a customer drove away without their French fries or we filled an order wrong. I remember the strong desire I had inside to do a great job and it has been

Maturing Into Your Full Potential


with me in almost every endeavor since. I made a decision early on that I would choose to spend my time doing what I felt passionate about and make myself feel passionate about all the things I had to do otherwise. This first working experience taught me something about myself. I have a desire in my heart to be my personal best. I have been reading self-help books since I was about eleven years old. I have found out over time that my desire is a gift and my purpose is to help others be inspired to find the best in themselves as well. There have been times when my gift has been challenging. I’ve taught weight management classes where people were so frustrated with their weight they wanted to take it out on me (and everyone else, for that matter). I’ve left some of those experiences thinking: “God, why didn’t you make me a computer programmer so I wouldn’t have to deal with people?” That doesn’t happen often anymore, but the reality is that I choose the pain of discipline in dealing with opposition because I don’t want the regret of not fulfilling my purpose. I know there are people who need someone to care for them and encourage them to make better health choices. I have a heart for doing that. I can’t help but wonder if, as you read this book, you have the peace that comes with knowing that you are doing what you are gifted to do as well. This may seem heavy for a weight management book (pardon the pun), but I believe we are whole human beings, body-mind-spirit, and it’s a mistake to look at weight as the sole focus, when it is simply a piece of our whole. I refuse to look at managing your weight as a superficial issue because it has to do with so many other facets as well.

Your Whole Self
Nurturing your physical, emotional, and spiritual health in a balanced way will enable you to accomplish great things. Being wise enough to set boundaries and accept that you will have limitations can be such a freedom. One part of achieving your full potential is being accountable even when no one is watching. We can be so childlike in allowing ourselves to do whatever we feel like doing and then acting surprised when we have to bear the burden of the consequences. How many times do we expect others or some outside entity to pick up the tab? How often do parents blame it on the police or teacher when their children get into trouble instead of teaching their kids right from wrong? Why are per-


Weight Whys

sonal bankruptcy rates at an all time high as people run up their credit without having a means to pay it? It is because we have become people who are not good at being accountable for our actions. We all have the same nature. Some of us are better at controlling it than others. Decide that you will get better in developing the self-control that you need to create the abundant life you were meant to live. You were not meant to be overweight, suffering from ill health, taking medications for conditions that can be controlled by changing your lifestyle, and settling for a life less than your true potential. Make a decision to stop spinning your wheels and approach this endeavor wholeheartedly. Health and weight management is a life-long journey. You will always have to be health-conscious, even after you achieve your healthy weight. Disease prevention and wellness have to be a priority. It’s our responsibility to take care of ourselves. Your life is a gift that has been given to you and you have a duty to do all you can to preserve it. Acknowledge as much ownership as you can over every situation in your life. You can empower yourself beyond belief by asking, “What can I do about this situation? How am I contributing? How can I change it for the better?” Living in reality is a struggle. It is a constant growth process to see clearly what our role is in each situation, and how we can go about making a positive impact. The better we become at being honest with ourselves about what we’re doing, the quicker we can determine what needs to be changed and take action concerning our challenges.

No More Excuses
Maturing into your full potential means taking complete responsibility for your actions. It’s extremely rare when people do this. We are much better at making excuses and trying to avoid facing consequences. This could be one of the most important parts of managing your weight and achieving optimal health. Highly successful people are good at being accountable for their actions. They grasp the concept that they have total control over this and it empowers them to use that control to their advantage. They don’t run away from it or try to give it to someone else. They have the courage to stand up and accept it. And the reward for that is success and power.

New Possibilities Lie Ahead
The outcome of choosing to own your actions could be glorious. It could allow you to create a life beyond what you imagined or ever thought possible for

Maturing Into Your Full Potential


yourself. I have seen many times that learning to manage weight is simply the beginning of wonderful things to come. I want you to get excited about the possibilities that lie ahead in taking control of your life. Break it down and see that health and being your personal best is a day-today process. Encourage yourself to stay focused and don’t overwhelm yourself by looking too far ahead. Only look so far ahead as what is inspiring to you. When you feel overwhelmed just focus on the next step. You will develop patience and perseverance on this journey. These are qualities that will be helpful along the journey of life itself. Habits are formed by doing the same behavior over and over. Focus on developing positive, healthy habits. Disrupt the normal pattern of behavior and put something better in its place. By choosing to do this new, healthy behavior over and over, you are on your way to developing a new habit.

The Courage to Be Yourself
The other part of releasing your full potential involves discovering your authentic self. Don’t be afraid to show the world who you really are. Some people think they are too sensitive, too silly, or too whatever. It’s all right to be different and be at peace with who you are. People who are immature or lack confidence are so concerned about being rejected they are afraid to show who they are. We all have a natural wanting to belong and your authentic self is something the world needs. The real you is special and unique in your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses. The world needs you to release your full potential and get in the game. Being your personal best is a journey that will stretch you to your limit and expose the innermost parts of yourself. You must choose to develop the courage to persevere and become who you are meant to be, no matter what the cost. Having courage doesn’t mean that you don’t feel fear. It means that you feel the fear, and do it anyway. Now, open your heart, put one foot in front of the other, and have the courage to create your best life...starting today.

Thoughts for the Road
How might life look different if you did everything with passion and to the best of your ability? What is holding you back from doing so? How might living with passion improve your health habits and help man age your weight? Do you take full responsibility for your attitudes and actions?


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What can you do to grow in this area? What health habits and mindsets have you changed over the course of our coaching experience? What can you do now to help continue in these positive changes?

Basic Health Assessments
Copy blank page & complete periodically for your personal medical records.

Name: Date: Height: Weight: Body Fat Percentage (if known): Waist Circumference: Body Mass Index (BMI) Risk (Circle one from chart below): Minimal Moderate High Blood Pressure (BP): Total Cholesterol: HDL “good” Cholesterol: LDL “bad” Cholesterol: Triglycerides: Glucose “blood sugar”: Consult a qualified health professional for individual recommended ranges of BP and lab values.



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Body Mass Index (BMI) Chart
Height Minimal Risk Moderate Risk High Risk (BMI 30 & over) Obese 143 lbs. or more 148 or more 153 or more 158 or more 164 or more 169 or more 174 or more 180 or more 186 or more 191 or more 197 or more 203 or more 209 or more 215 or more 221 or more 227 or more 233 or more 240 or more 246 or more

(BMI under 25) (BMI 25—29.9) Healthy 4'10 4'11 5'0 5'1 5'2 5'3 5'4 5'5 5'6 5'7 5'8 5'9 5'10 5'11 6'0 6'1 6'2 6'3 6'4 118 lbs. or less 123 or less 127 or less 131 or less 135 or less 140 or less 144 or less 149 or less 154 or less 158 or less 163 or less 168 or less 173 or less 178 or less 183 or less 188 or less 193 or less 199 or less 204 or less Overweight 119–142 124–147 128–152 132–157 136–163 141–168 145–173 150–179 155–185 159–190 164–196 169–202 174–208 179–214 184–220 189–226 194–232 200–239 205–245

Basic Health Assessments


Body Mass Index (BMI): To calculate your exact BMI value, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divide by your height in inches, then divide again by your height in inches. People with BMIs in Overweight (Moderate Risk) category have increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease. Those with BMIs in Obese (High Risk) have an even higher risk for these and other health problems. The lower your BMI, the less risk for most health conditions (provided it is not below Minimal Risk). Extreme obesity is defined as a BMI of 40 or greater. Waist Circumference is the distance around your natural waist (just below the navel). If your BMI is 25 or greater, and your waist circumference is over 39 inches (for men) or 34 inches (for women), you are at increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood fats, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and earlier death.

Reputable Health Organizations
(Partial List)

American Cancer Society American College of Sports Medicine American Council on Exercise American Diabetes Association American Dietetic Association American Heart Association American Medical Association Center for Science in Public Interest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Department for Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration Mayo Clinic National Cancer Institute National Cholesterol Education Program National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases



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National Institutes of Health National Osteoporosis Foundation Shape Up America!

Calorie-smart Food & Drink Choices
(High fiber and/or Nutrient Dense)

All fruits & vegetables are in this category. Below is a partial list for reference. Circle what you enjoy and post it somewhere visible as a reminder of what to choose.

Apples Blackberries Cantaloupe Figs Guavas Mangoes Oranges Pears Plums Apricots Blueberries Cherries Grapes Kiwifruit Mixed fruit Passion fruits Persimmons Prunes

Bananas Boysenberries Cranberries Grapefruit Kumquats Nectarines Peaches Pineapples Raisins


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Raspberries Tangerines

Rhubarb Watermelon


Artichokes Beets Brussels sprouts Cauliflower Cucumber Green pepper Lettuce Onions Potato Spinach Zucchini Asparagus Bok Choy Cabbage Collard greens Eggplant Kale Mushrooms Parsnips Pumpkins Squash Avocados Broccoli Carrots Corn Green beans Leeks Okra Peas Radishes Tomatoes

Other Carbohydrates
Bread (whole-grain) Oatmeal Rice (brown) Cereal (whole-grain) Pasta (whole-grain) Oat bran Popcorn

Beans Milk (non-fat or 1%) Tuna (in water) Chicken (skinless) Salmon Turkey (skinless) Crab (3 oz.) Tofu Yogurt (low-fat)

Calorie-smart Food & Drink Choices


Fats (sparingly)
Almonds Peanut butter Canola Oil Walnuts Olive Oil Seeds (sunflower or flax)

Water Milk (non-fat or 1%) Soy milk

100% Juices (Orange, Apple, Cranberry, Grape, White Grape, Prune, Tomato)

How to Read a Food Label

Reading food labels can seem complicated. To keep it simple, look for the key line items on the label that are listed below and compare foods to one another to see which might be a better choice. You can start in your own kitchen by reading the labels of your favorite foods to see how they measure up.

Serving Size
How does the serving size on the label compare with the portion size you usually eat? Remember, if you eat double the serving size listed, you need to double the nutrient and calorie values.

Look here and think about how a serving of the food fits into your recommended daily caloric intake.

Aim low. For a healthy heart, choose foods with a big difference between the total number of calories and the number of calories from fat.

Saturated Fat
This number is included in the Fat total, but is listed separately because it’s a key contributor in raising blood cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Limit this as much as possible.



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More commonly referred to as “salt”. Too much may increase blood pressure for those who are “salt sensitive”. Try to keep your intake low and check to see if some of the “low fat” items you’re considering have added extra sodium to help make it taste better. More sodium may not be worth the trade off of lower fat.

The more fiber (both soluble and insoluble), the better. Compare the labels of the cereals, crackers, and other packaged products you buy and see how you might start getting more fiber in your diet. Remember to keep up your water intake to help your body process it. Fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, beans, and peas are good sources of fiber and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

How Many Calories Does Your Body Need?

A simple formula to estimate your daily caloric need is: Women—current body weight x 10 Calories per pound* Men—current body weight x 11 Calories per pound* *Additional Calories can be added if strenuous exercise is performed. Your daily caloric need represents an estimate of how many calories your body requires to sustain your current body weight. To reduce your body weight, slightly decrease your caloric intake (eat less Calories) increase your caloric expenditure (do more exercise). Women should eat no less than 1,200 Calories per day and men no less than 1,500 Calories per day.


Developing an Exercise Program

Be advised to consult your doctor for clearance to exercise before beginning any program. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting during activity, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

Beginner Program Guidelines
Cardiovascular: Three days per week, 15–30 minutes per session Strength Training: One to two days per week Stretching: Done after cardiovascular or strength training workouts

Lifelong Program Guidelines
Cardiovascular: Three—five days per week, at least 30 minutes per session Strength Training: Two to three days per week Stretching: Done after cardiovascular or strength training workouts

Cardiovascular exercises include:
Brisk “power” walking, stationary (recumbent) biking, swimming, elliptical or rowing machine, stair-climbing, cycling, aerobic dancing, hiking (uphill), and jogging (if appropriate for your body condition).

Strength Training for a full-body workout includes exercises for:
Back (upper & lower), chest, shoulders, arms (biceps and triceps), hips & glutes, legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, & calves), and abdominals (stomach).



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• There are exercises that use no equipment, minimal equipment (such as dumbbells, elastic bands, or stability balls), and heavy gym equipment or machines. • Consult a Certified Fitness Professional or printed, internet, or video resource for individualized recommendations. Additional sources are listed in Appendix H—Recommended Reading. • Skip a day in between your strength training workouts to allow for muscle recovery. Stretching exercises should be long, flowing movement (avoid bouncing). Hold positions about 20–30 seconds, breathe, and relax. Stretches for fullbody flexibility and injury prevention include: • Shoulder rolls—Circle your shoulders several times in both directions to loosen your shoulders, neck, and upper back. • Side reaches—Reach one arm overhead and to the side, keeping your hips and shoulders straight. • Low-back, hamstring stretch—Seated on floor or bed, fully extend your legs straight out and stretch hands as close as you can toward toes. Bend from hips, not arching your back. • Hamstrings (back of thigh)—Lie on your back. Slowly raise leg as high as you comfortably can, using hands to stretch upright leg toward you. Return leg to floor and repeat with opposite leg. • Quadriceps (thigh)—While standing, pull your foot to your buttocks with your hand, keeping your knee pointing straight to the ground. If you need to, use a wall or chair for balance. • Calf stretch—While standing with one leg back, press your back heel to the ground and bend your front knee only, keeping both knees pointing forward. Switch legs and repeat.

Evaluating Your Risk for Heart Disease

Are you at risk? It is important to understand how certain factors can affect your chances for heart disease and what you can do to control them. If you answer yes to any of the questions below, you are at increased risk for heart disease. Make the appropriate changes and talk with your doctor about how to lower your risk.

Do you have high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is defined as consistent screenings of 140 or over for systolic (top) number and/or 90 or over for diastolic (bottom) number. If either number is over, it is considered high blood pressure. If left untreated, this condition can damage the blood vessels, allowing cholesterol and other substances to build up. High blood pressure also increases the workload on the heart. This extra load may lead to a heart attack or stroke. Because you cannot feel when you have high blood pressure, it is called “the silent killer”. The first sign of high blood pressure is often a heart attack because many neglect to be screened regularly, are in denial and do not follow up after a “high” screening, or are not compliant in taking their high blood pressure medication. Even when you are on medication, you should be screened regularly to be sure it is working properly. Aim to keep your blood pressure below 120/80.



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Do you have high cholesterol?
Extra cholesterol and fat in the blood can build up as plaque in the arteries of the heart and reduce or block blood flow. If over time the blood supply is cut off completely, or if the plaque ruptures, you will have a heart attack or stroke. The two key ways to reduce cholesterol are through lifestyle changes and medication. Have your cholesterol panel checked, including total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Decreasing saturated fat (from high fat animal products) and increasing fiber (from fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains) can be helpful in reducing cholesterol.

Are you overweight?
Overweight people are much more likely to develop heart-related problems, even if they have no other risk factors. Being overweight also appears to contribute to heart disease by increasing the chances of developing other major risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol.

Do you have diabetes?
People with diabetes are more likely to have higher blood pressure, higher triglycerides levels, low levels of good cholesterol and problems with how well the heart pumps. If you have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar levels will help to prevent complications of diabetes such as heart disease and stroke.

Do you smoke?
Smokers are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers. The risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. Smoking also increases the risk of stroke. Quitting smoking can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease. It is also important to limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.

Do you have a family history of heart disease?
It is important to inform your doctor of any family history of heart disease. If your mother or sister was diagnosed with coronary heart disease or had a heart attack before age 65 or your father or brother before age 55, you are considered to be at a higher risk. Heart disease is also higher among African Ameri-

Evaluating Your Risk for Heart Disease


cans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans.

Are you under a lot of stress?
It has been shown that too much stress contributes to heart problems and even increases the risk of death. Depression is also an important risk factor, occurring nearly twice as often in those with heart disease. The good news is there are ways you can lower your stress and help manage depression. This can be done through counseling, regular physical activity, and stress management programs, including support groups.

Do you have an inactive lifestyle?
Lack of physical activity raises your risk of heart disease. Most people do not get the recommended amount of physical activity. Research shows that 30 minutes of moderate activity—such as brisk walking, raking leaves, housecleaning, or gardening—most days each week helps to protect your heart health.

For women: Do you take hormones?
Loss of estrogen after menopause increases your risk of developing heart disease. Many women have taken hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to try and lower their risk of heart disease. However, new research shows that certain types of HRT may result in increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. HRT does have some benefits, so if you are taking HRT or are considering it, talk with your doctor about your specific situation.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack may include:
• Chest discomfort, pressure, or burning • Chest or abdominal discomfort or pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, arm, or jaw • Discomfort or pain between the shoulder blades • Shortness of breath • Sweating • Nausea or vomiting


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• Indigestion or gas-like pain • Dizziness or fainting • Unexplained weakness or fatigue • Sense of impending doom If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately by contacting your doctor or calling 911.

Recommended Reading

The following is a list of books that I have found to be exceptional in the areas of health and fitness, nutrition, self-help, motivational, and spirituality. As an avid reader of non-fiction books, I have read hundreds and have compiled this list of favorites to recommend to you. If you come across one that you find extraordinary, I’d like to hear about it. Please feel welcome to send your suggestions to me via email to: cheri@ inspiringhealth.com or obtain my mailing information from the About the Author page. Enjoy!

Health, Fitness, and Nutrition
The Doctor’s Pocket Calorie Fat & Carbohydrate Counter Allan Borushek, “The Calorie King” Family Health Publications; ISBN 0958799164 Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women Bill Pearl Shelter Publications, Inc.; ISBN 0679732691 Joseph H. Pilates’ Techniques of Physical Conditioning Allan Menezes Hunter House Publishers; ISBN 0897932854



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Mayo Clinic on Healthy Weight Donald D. Hensrud, MD—Editor in Chief Kensingtn Publishing Corporation; ISBN 1893005054 Training Fan: Fitness Training Guide Benefit Health Media; ISBN 0971245606 Order at www.trainingfan.com or 1-866-550-6666. Walk Yourself Well: Eliminate Back, Neck, Shoulder, Knee, Hip, and Other Structural Pain Forever—without Surgery or Drugs Sherry Brourman, P.T. with Randy Rodman Hyperion; ISBN 0786862939

Self-help and Motivational
Don’t Shoot the Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training Karen Pryor Bantam Books; ISBN 0553380397 Game Plans for Success: Winning Strategies for Business and Life from 10 Top NFL Head Coaches Ray Didinger (Editor) Contemporary Books; ISBN 0809231719 Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D. Hyperion; ISBN 0786884592 My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey John Wooden with Steve Jamison McGraw-Hill; ISBN 0071437924 Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D. Simon & Schuster Source; ISBN 074322423X Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work John C. Maxwell

Recommended Reading


Warner Books; ISBN 0446529575

Spirituality and Self-fulfillment
Being the Person God Made You To Be Joyce Meyer Harrison House, Inc.; ISBN 1577944453 Can A Smart Person Believe In God? Michael Guillen, Ph.D. Nelson Books; ISBN 0785260242 Enjoying Where You Are On the Way To Where You Are Going Joyce Meyer Harrison House, Inc.; ISBN 0892749482 Maximize the Moment: God’s Action Plan for Your Life T.D. Jakes Berkley Books; ISBN 0425181634 The Dream Giver Dr. Bruce Wilkinson with David & Heather Kopp Multnomah Publishers, Inc.; ISBN 159052201X The Dream Releasers: How to help others realize their dreams while achieving your own Dr. Wayne Cordeiro Regal Books; ISBN 0830728074 The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life Dr. Bruce Wilkinson Multnomah Publishers, Inc.; ISBN 1576737330 The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren Zondervan; ISBN 0310205719 The Real You: Become the Person You Were Meant to Be


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Dr. Kevin Leman Fleming H. Revell; ISBN 0800718186 Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential Joel Osteen Warner Faith; ISBN 0446532754

Author’s Note

Dear Readers: I would love to hear from you. I welcome your thoughts, ideas, or whatever else you would like to share with me. Be encouraged to let me know more about your own experience while reading Weight Whys, especially insights about: • What you wish I’d covered (or covered more in-depth). • Your own success stories. • Whether you studied the book alone or with a partner or group. • What was most meaningful or helpful to you. • What you’d like me to write about next. You can reach me via email at cheri@inspiringhealth.com or send it to me via postal mail to the address below. You may also visit my website at www.inspiringhealth.com to find out more about individual or group Wellness Coaching and join the Inspiring Health Club. This FREE membership includes our newsletter, updates on club events, the latest health trends, Group Wellness Coaching sessions and seminars in your area, member tips, and featured success stories. I appreciate your input and will make every effort to include your ideas in my newsletter or in my new books, as often as possible. Warm Regards, Cheri Calcagno


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Inspiring Health PO Box 2487 San Ramon, CA 94583 cheri@inspiringhealth.com www.inspiringhealth.com Tel 925.548.4180

A portion of the proceeds from this book is donated to First Resort—an organization providing medical and counseling services to help women make fully informed decisions about unplanned pregnancies in line with their own beliefs and values.


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