Thursday, January 19, 2017

Make Room for Something Profound

People go to great lengths to search for happiness, enlightenment, meaning - something profound. But it's not at the finish line of an Iron Man, or during a fast, or atop Mt. Everest, or in a 3-day silent meditation, any more than it is RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. 

THIS MOMENT is profound. Whatever you're doing right now can be deeply meaningful. 

I bet you're waiting for the "change your thinking, change your life" rant. Well, there is truth in that. But how do you change your thinking? Can you just fake it 'till you make it? 

To a certain extent, yes. You also need deep introspection, preferably facilitated by someone experienced, and exposure to new ideas. 

But there's one more thing.  Your mind is inexorably connected with your body. Take better care of your body and you might find yourself seeing more joy and meaning in everyday moments. That's how it has always worked for me, and that is why gurus like Hal Elrod, Brian Rose, and Tony Robbins involve the body in their personal development training. 

If you have never felt the changes in your mind that come from changes in your body this might sound like a bunch of fluff. How can a 10 minute run make THAT much of a difference? If you're under pressure right now it might seem like everything else pushes it further and further down your to do list. Or maybe your problems are too big for such seemingly simple advice.

You have every right to be skeptical. I was. I first started working out only because, like many 17-year-old girls, I thought I was fat. But I hated it and I sucked at it. Fast forward to 2016: tragic death of my brother, divorce, new job in a new industry. As a mom I had no choice but to thrive. Guess what this former spastic, asthmatic, ice-cream-loving kid relied on to cope? I made it my priority to figure out how to take care of my body despite the obstacles I faced, including eating well, exercising, and sleeping - not perfectly, but enough. 

This isn't about perfectionism or proving something or expecting too much of yourself.  It's about being able to deal with whatever life throws at you - physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Moreover, it's about being able to remain grounded and centered when everything around you is chaotic. It's about keeping a clear perspective rather than being swept away by emotion. 

As your physical discomfort, exhaustion, anxiety, anger, and depression melt away, it leaves room for you to EXPERIENCE LIFE.  That's when something greater emerges: joy, meaning, clarity, enlightenment. Not instantly and not all the time, but in little glimpses that become more and more normal. 

If you're nodding along but not sure how it can possibly be feasible for you, know that you can begin seeing changes in just a few minutes a day, if you know how to use those few minutes. If you're wondering what I'm smoking...well, I'm not above reminding you that swimsuit season is just four months away. That's why I got started. Maybe you'll be writing a post like this in a few years. 😉

Friday, February 12, 2016

Advanced Weight Loss Tip for Those Last Few Pounds

Losing those last few pounds is the hardest.  What's crucial is never to cut your caloric intake below what you will need to maintain your ideal weight. Doing so, and then going back up to your anticipated maintenance level, is specifically what causes yo-yo dieting problems. You'll lose some muscle as you drop the weight and then regain the weight - usually all fat - when you eat more again. This lowers you metabolism and increases your disease risk.

Instead, gradually get to that maintenance level and just stay there. Your weight loss will slow down as you approach your ideal weight, and that's good. If you plateau for more than 3 weeks try staggering your intake every other day - more on one day, less on the next, but averaging out the same. Ideally make the higher-intake days the same as your more intense workouts.

As a note, I'm not saying you have to calorie-count. Just apply this concept to whatever method you use to decide the right amount to eat.

Bottom line - never get stricter with your diet than you plan to maintain in the long-term or it will backfire. A sustainable lifestyle is always the goal.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Law of Attraction: Truth or Myth?

This topic gets me a little riled up.

The law of attraction states that what you think about and believe becomes reality - it's ATTRACTED into your life.  The Law of Attraction is often presented as a spiritual concept, one that you can choose to believe in (or not).  What a misguided perspective!

Does the Law of Attraction work? Absolutely yes! Do you have to make a leap of faith and believe that your thoughts have some magical force that reaches out and manipulates the universe? If that resonates with you, great. For the skeptics, no faith is needed - just a Psych 101 course.

Sensory Perception

We are bombarded with innumerable sensory stimuli every waking moment of every day, but only a tiny fraction of them come to our awareness.  Have you ever been told of a restaurant that you never heard of before, but it turns out you pass it every day? Even those who consider themselves perceptive fall for slight-of-hand magic tricks.  We miss a lot.

Our brains play the role of gate-keeper, deciding which stimuli make it through to our conscious awareness. It uses your past to decide what's important. Every thought and experience causes neurons to fire in specific pathways.  Repeated thoughts and experiences strengthen their corresponding neural pathways, like how a trail becomes more and more prominent as it is repeatedly used. Those with emotional weight become even more ingrained.  Your brain determines the relevance of a new sensory stimulus based on the neural pathways it ignites. The more pathways are ignited, and the stronger those pathways are, the more likely it is that you will become consciously aware of the stimulus.

Hence, by repeatedly thinking about an outcome to which you have a strong emotional attachment, you make it more likely that anything related to that outcome will rise to your conscious awareness.  Visualizing yourself getting a great new job makes you more likely to overhear your friend mentioning that her coworker just quit, and more likely to ask if her employer is looking to hire someone new.  On the other hand, dwelling on how impossible it is to find your ideal job will make you more likely to instead pay attention to the news anchorwoman lamenting stagnant wages for the middle class.  If you do hear your friend, you're less likely to ask if her job has an opening. Instead you might say "Sorry to hear that.  Now you're going to have to do all of her work to!  Isn't it impossible to get a break in today's workplace?"

Another example: Have you ever listened to someone who is newly in love? No matter what topic you bring up it somehow relates to their sweetheart.  Clearly the world doesn't actually revolve around their lover; it's just the Law of Attraction at work. 

The bottom line: What we think about and believe affects what we notice in the world and the actions we take. Therefore, what we think about absolutely influences what actually happens. The Law of Attraction works.

Using the Law of Attraction

So if the law works, why does this topic get me riled up?

By failing to explain how it really works, Law of Attraction proponents are doing their audience a disservice.  Those who are not willing to blindly believe in it are not given a chance to benefit from it.  The truth is that even the biggest skeptics can begin benefitting from the Law of Attraction today.

Get started by trying one or more of these tips that resonate with you:

1.  Spend time with young children. See how differently they perceive the world. What do they notice that you miss? What connections do they make? How do they interpret situations? This will help you to realize the limits of your perception and how it affects your behavior. Imagine how many opportunities are in your face every day that you completely miss!

2.  Look at familiar things with fresh eyes. Notice something new about a familiar place or object. Find a new way to use a mundane object.  This will help you to begin freeing yourself from ingrained ways of perceiving and behaving, which is the first step to believing that you CAN change your circumstances by changing your thoughts.

3.  Think of as many plausible interpretations of a person's behavior as you can, rather than assuming that you know their thoughts or intentions.  Was your coworker quiet and distant because you did something to annoy her, or because she just received negative feedback from her boss, or because she's just tired?  When appropriate, find out the truth.  Incorrect interpretations lead to unhelpful actions in response.  Now you will begin to see how changing your thoughts about a situation can drastically change the outcome.

4.  Set aside time to visualize the outcome you want, and most importantly, how you can get there.  Imagine yourself doing the steps required, but also fantasize about finding amazing opportunities - ads, social media posts, conversations with the perfect person.  The more you do this the more you'll start to see the world like the person in love I mentioned earlier; everything will remind you of your goal and give you new ideas to reach it!

5.  Read books and listen to podcasts by people who have achieved a goal similar to yours, or who teach the mindsets and skills that you need to reach it.  If possible, spend time with people who have already done it. This will help your visualizations become more concrete and real in your mind.

6.  Determine a consistent cue to remind yourself of your goals. For example, make the wallpaper on your phone a picture of your idol, or decide that every time you walk up or down stairs you will remind yourself how much you appreciate your body and want to take care of it. Add more cues until it seems that any random thing gives you an idea about how to move forward toward your goals.

It's important not to try any of these steps that give you that "Yeah right, there's no way this will work" reaction. Start small with steps you can believe in, and when you begin to see the changes I describe then move on to the others as you feel ready.  

Let's say you want to use the law of attraction to reach fitness goals, but in the past everything you tried gave you limited results and they didn't last.  You often think that there's something wrong with you, that even though it works for others it just will never work for you. Envisioning yourself fit might just make you angry because you've tried so hard and it never happens. That wouldn't be an effective way to use the Law of Attraction. 

Instead, you start with a thought you can believe: "The doctor said that there is nothing physically wrong with me, so there must be a way for me to get fit. I just need to find it."  At first negative thoughts are loud, saying things like "I'll never figure this out" and "This is too hard, not worth it." You notice that those are the thoughts you usually have when you decide to eat unhealthy foods and skip the gym.  Your thoughts are making you sabotage your efforts!

When you have negative thoughts you keep repeating to yourself that there is a way for you to get fit and you just have to find it. After a while you are searching for it in many different ways - reading books, listening to podcasts, and talking to others. Now that you are actively seeking out this information you hear more and more stories of people who had trouble but finally found a way to get fit. 

Finally, one day you hear about someone whose experience sounds exactly like yours, but they got fit by doing something you hadn't tried yet. Now you're confident and determined. You stick to your new fitness and nutrition regimen better than ever before because the negative thoughts seem less true now. Six months later, you look and feel like a new person.

No matter how you choose to explain the Law of Attraction, your thoughts and beliefs have a strong impact on how your life unfolds. Commit to taking at least one step today to harness the power of your mind and start living a life you love.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Is it still best for my health to make time to exercise, even if the only way is to sleep less?

FAQ: Is it still best for my health to make time to exercise, even if the only way is to sleep less?
ANSWER: Both exercise and sleep are crucial, but many people need to work well over full time to make ends meat, plus take care of family. If you genuinely have maxed out all of the basic time management and prioritization strategies, then you have to strike a balance.
It is worth sacrificing about half an hour of sleep for the benefits of half an hour of RIGOROUS exercise per day, as long as you still get at least 4 hours. If you would have to dip under 4, then just do a half hour 2-3 days a week, preferably on days you don't work. If you can still get 7 hours, aim for 60 minutes of challenging exercise per day, most days of the week.
The black picture? That's Nicole practicing what we preach and trying to take a selfie during her 4:30 run. And for the record, she's a BIG night owl. So yes, it's worth it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Perfection Won’t be Perfect for Long

Contributed by Eating Psychology Coach Nancy Lundy, a F4F Guest Expert.

So, here we are…you’ve just noticed that spring has arrived and bathing suit season is only a few weeks/days away.  New year resolutions are a thing of the past…You’ve tried to eat healthy and get to the gym and take that extra class…Unfortunately, that may not have happened…Starting Monday, you’ll be perfect…you’ll start your diet and take that pilates class…You’ll schedule that session with your personal trainer…

Great…and what happened?  Do you follow through?  Have you been successful since January…If you have I applaud you…in fact, secretly, I’m a little jealous.

If you haven’t been perfect getting your health back on track…then what stopped you?  You wanted this so bad…

Where did the time go?  It was just February…and now it’s May in a blink of an eye.

And now it’s time to panic…we only have a few weeks, no longer months, to get our body “perfect” for the beach…

Starting Monday, we are going eat perfectly…no room for error…There is no time for slips ups…I NEED to be perfect….

I must find the “perfect” diet and the “perfect” class so I can have the “perfect” beach body…

Now, I invite you to take a breath…a good long, slow, deep inhale…good…now another one….and one more for the road…

Are you good?  Good.

Perfection will NEVER bring you success…Being perfect to achieve the perfect body won’t happen.   It’s NOT sustainable…

Perfection honestly sets us up for failure. 

Perfectionism always has self-abuse around the corner.

There is no such thing as perfect anything…when we try to be perfect and then we are aren't…well, that's where the overeating, bingeing, self-abuse, negative self talk is. 

I speak the truth…how do I know this?  Not because I learned this in my certification training (which, of course, I did), but because I’m living, breathing truth that being perfect doesn’t work.

Recently, I decided that I was going to be absolutely perfect in my weight loss journey….I had my Fitbit counting my steps, My Fitness Pal counting my calories and I was listening to all the Podcasts on healthy eating and Emotional Freedom Tapping.  I was pumped….I was doing great…

Every day, I was up at 5:00 a.m., on that treadmill by 5:30 a.m…juicing by 7:00 a.m….taking every extra step I could…No dessert…no extra calories….It was PERFECT….I WAS PERFECT!!!!  Down three pounds in three weeks…PERFECT….

And, then….life happened….

Great…perfect…just what I needed…life….

Who needed me?...EVERYONE…work got busy….family needed me…friends wanted to get together for dinner….YIKES…how can I be in control when my life is out of control

Being perfect…out the window….that first cookie…BAM…done…two cookies, dessert…visits to gym got pushed to side because I didn’t feel good about myself once again…

Why?  Because I failed…once again…

Being stretched in a million different directions all at the same time…there was no room for the perfectionism.

So, what happened?  I lost control…the perfection rubberband snapped in the complete opposite direction…

My plan to be perfect backfired once again…that first cookie was the catalyst to disaster….

When we set ourselves up to be perfect and then we aren’t, we crumble….and, man, I crumbled…just like that first cookie….

When we restrict ourselves with perfectionism, we limit our possibilities…

Luckily, I’ve been able to slow down and I have the gift of starting over…get back to my plan.  But this time with love and patience…Honoring who I am, allowing life to happen and embracing all my imperfections…

I will be successful on this journey and you can, too.  But only if we slow down and accept that there is no perfect diet and no perfect exercise regimen to get you to the perfect body. 

When we relax into our health journey, we allow the imperfections…we honor them…we see them as stepping stones and learning experiences on our path.

Are you ready to relax and allow?  Perfect!  Ooops…sorry, I meant to say great!  Good, then let’s get started.

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Nancy Lundy is a certified eating psychology and life coach.  She has make it her mission to champion the movement to end chronic dieting and poor body image while offering heart-centered approaches to food and body.  To learn more about Nancy, visit

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A True Mixed Martial Artist’s Perspective on Styles

Some martial artists view styles as rival ways of fighting, proponents of each believing theirs is the superior form of combat.  Our BioIndividual Martial Arts philosophy offers an alternate perspective. 

A martial arts style is a way of fighting that centers on a concept.  Mastering a style means mastering that concept – understanding it and applying it effectively.  A great martial arts master understands the art of combat so well that he or she is able to develop a new concept and the methods of fighting that follow from it.  The implication of this perspective is that it is counterproductive to debate which style is best.  Rather, the most effective master is one who has mastered several styles, several concepts, and can choose the most effective one to apply in a given situation to dominate an opponent.

For example, Wing Chung centers on the concept of the center line.  To gain an advantage over your opponent you must attack their center line while protecting your own center line, blocking and striking simultaneously whenever possible.  The central concept in Aikido, on the other hand, is using your opponent’s weight against them in a circular motion.  Muay Thai is known as the Art of Eight Limbs, and centers on maximizing striking power by conditioning the body.  The central concepts in these and all styles determine what moves are included in them, precisely how they are done, and what training is like.

Mastering many styles as a martial artist is like having many tools as a construction worker.  You are more successful if you choose the best tool for each part of the job.  For example, a master of the styles described above might use more Muay Thai strikes against a physically weaker opponent, but more Aikido takedowns against a stronger opponent.  Or, they might combine them all by starting with Muay Thai strikes when the opponent is farther away, switching to Wing Chung as they move closer, and finishing by using an Aikido takedown and trap.

Rather than debate which style is the best, it makes sense to join with and learn from fellow martial artists of different styles.  The more fighting concepts you master, the more tools you can choose from during combat.

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Learn more about BioIndividual Martial Arts and the training offered at Fight 4 Fitness.

Monday, April 20, 2015

When you crave a food, does it mean your body needs it?

Your body sends you signals to let you know what it needs.  It tells you when you need to drink water, or use the toilet, or sleep.  So when your body gives you a food craving, is it because that food has something your body needs?

Your body does send you messages through cravings, but unfortunately those messages are not straightforward.  When your body needs something, it will crave a food that can satisfy that need, even if it is not the best way to satisfy it.  For example, you might crave lasagna not because your body needs lycopene from the sauce or fat from the cheese, but because you had a stressful day and it was a comfort food in your childhood.

Here are some common reasons for cravings besides nutritional deficiencies:
  • Desire for comfort
  • Consumption of foods with addictive qualities, such as sugar or dairy
  • Your body craves what it is used to.  It can take months or years after drastically changing your diet before your body stops craving the old foods and begins craving the new foods.
  • Hormones, usually associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause
  • Consuming too much of some foods makes you crave foods that have the opposite effect.  For example if you have a lot of sugar you might crave salt, and too many raw vegetables might make you crave meat.
  • At a subconscious level you gain something from failing to stick to a healthy diet

Even cravings from nutritional deficiencies can be misleading.  Dehydration is a perfect example.  It is easy to miss your body’s early requests for water.  Once you’re mildly dehydrated it sends you cravings for foods that contain water, such as fruit, soup, or pasta sauce.  Similarly, if you don’t normally consume vitamins and minerals in their natural form you might crave foods that you do consume that are fortified with the ones you lack.

When you get a craving, try to interpret it on a deeper level.  With practice you can deal with cravings at their root cause and make sticking to a healthy diet easier and more enjoyable.

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If you want help interpreting and preventing cravings, ask us about our Nutrition &Lifestyle coaching programs, available in person or via video call.