How It Feels to Regain Weight After You’ve Lost

Several things happened recently that spurred me to write this post:

First, I was recently speaking at a conference for women about fat loss nutrition, and the woman who hired me told me they brought a former contestant from The Biggest Loser to the conference to speak last year. They said that when she stepped off the plane, she was unrecognizable. She’d gained back all of her weight, plus more. This pulls at my heart strings because though I’m all about personal responsibility, sustainable weight loss is effing hard, and using the practices they do on The Biggest Loser not only did her a disservice, but it was straight up irresponsible. The poor girl had no prayer of keeping it off. We know this now.

Second, I got some feedback from some of my fat loss clients that it can feel scary and intimidating to post on Facebook when you’re not as “in shape” as other people posting, in a closed group for example. I think by nature, as women, we tend to judge ourselves too harshly and also compare ourselves to others, so I get that. My personal mission is for every women to feel worthy, amazing and confident RIGHT NOW. Not 10 lbs from now. Not when they get up on stage. Not when they have striated shudders or a six-pack. I want women to own their unique awesomeness right this second. We’ve already spent too much time doubting.

And third, I’ve recently been on a bit of a tear about worthiness and taking action. In fact, I’m passionate–bordering on angry–about how many talented, smart and driven women I see who are not realizing their full potential because of self-doubt about their bodies, leanness or the fact that they don’t have a six-pack.

JillFitProgress

And so. I wanted to share my own story of weight regain as candidly as possible. I’m sure many of you can relate, and I am personally tired of complaining about it, and so in Part 2 of this post, I’m going to put forth the action steps I used over the last few years to finally stabilize at a “lean enough” weight, all the while doing so effortlessly. My journey was not only a physical one, but a deeply emotional one. In time, I learned to get over myself too :)

Getting Up On Stage: Lotsa Physique Affirmation

Prior to prepping for my first figure competition in 2006, I barely thought about food. In fact, I pretty much worked out like crazy so that I could eat whatever I wanted. Jade likes to tell the story about our first pseudo-date when we went to breakfast and I ordered an enormous stack of pancakes. It’s just “what I ordered”–I had zero knowledge nor interest in nutrition. I was in shape, but it was that water-logged, too-much-cardio-eat-all-the-carbs look. I was 160 pounds at 5’7″ and around 18% BF.

Once I started training for my show, I was forced to learn about food and eat for fat loss. Being the procrastinator I am, I regularly cheated throughout the process until 4 weeks out when my coach told me I still had a long way to go. Out of sheer terror of embarrassment, I immediately upped my cardio to 2 hours a day, cut all starch out of my diet and ate lean protein and veggies only. I dropped probably 15 lbs in 4 weeks for the show and eventually competed at 142 lbs and 12% BF.

Something really interesting and unexpected happened the smaller and smaller I got.

All of a sudden, I was getting a lot more attention and affirmation at the gym, from my family, from friends and even from strangers. My muscles were popping, and being that it was tank top weather, my delts and arms were drawing attention, my clothes fitting effortlessly.  People were commenting almost daily about “how good I looked” and asked what I was doing. People were constantly asking when my show was? Was I excited? How did I feel?

Whoa. All of a sudden, I’m getting a lot of compliments, and man, it feels good. I mean, really good. I’m worth noticing. I’m relevant. I’m someone.

This all sounds so silly, embarrassing and self-centered to say out loud, and at the time, I certainly didn’t feel this on a conscious level. Only now, looking back, can I see that’s what was going on.

I won my show, displayed my trophy proudly at the desk at my local gym along with my competition shots and felt on top of the world.

For one day.

But being solely focused on that one date–June 4th, 2006–I didn’t even THINK about after the show. I didn’t have a plan, I just dropped 2 dress sizes, 20 lbs and thought, hey, look at my new body! I’m transformed! I’m good to go now!

I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me to actually continue watching what I ate after the show. It didn’t even cross my mind that shoveling sugar down my throat for a week straight might affect my “new body.” I guess I just thought, once you arrive at a weight, you can go back to eating the way you were before and nothing will change.

Riiiiight.

Post-Competition Blues – What am I now, chopped liver?

Well, that was my first experience with crash dieting and weight re-gain. And by Thursday after the show, I didn’t even recognize my body. I was swollen in my abdomen and thighs, retaining water like crazy to the point that it actually felt like a bruise from head to toe. I remember jabbing a finger into my saddle-bag area and practically crying at how much water I was holding and the fact that in mere days I had already started re-gaining fat again at a rapid pace. My body was a sponge and I was completely flabbergasted by the experience.

“How come no one told me this could happen??!”

“How come no one talks about this? I’ve never read about this in Oxygen magazine!”

“Am I the only person this happens to??”

Cue the guilt, the shame and the embarrassment.

Heading into the gym a mere week after my show and, where are the compliments? Where’s the attention? What am I, chopped liver?

Fuck.

I blew it. I suck. This sucks. I feel helpless. Alone. Like a failure.

Putting on pants sucked. Day after day, fewer clothes fit. I felt stuffed into my clothes, whereas just weeks before things were hanging off me. So I started wearing baggy jeans and Mens’ Hanes white V-neck t-shirts out in public. I was embarrassed to be seen. Besides, my social media pages were littered with images of me lean, in a bikini, “in shape” and 20 lbs less than I am now. I’d see people and (somewhat self-importantly) think they’re judging me, looking at me like a fat failure. Someone who has no willpower. Someone weak and undisciplined. Even when I just exercised more discipline in 12 weeks than most people do their entire lives (at least when it comes to nutrition).

What should I do???

I just need to do another show!! That’s the solution. I need to get all that attention back. I need to not be invisible. I need to feel validated and powerful. I need control!! I need that routine, that regimen, that schedule that kept me on point. That kept me thin and affirmed.

And of course, that’s what I did for the next 3 years, show after show, losing and gaining the same 20 pounds back and forth. I was either “on” a contest diet, strict as hell, or I was completely “off” eating whatever I wanted in any amount I wanted.

Obviously this is not recommended. It’s not healthy physically and it’s certainly not healthy mentally. My physique become the sole attributor to my self-worth. If I was lean, I was “good Jill.” If I was off plan, I was “sloppy, fat, undisciplined Jill.”

And it was a prison where I only felt worthy if I was in “show shape.” And the highs were the best! I was on top of the world, clothes zipping right up, photo shoot after photo shoot. But the lows sucked. I felt small, fat and insignificant.

And this is how weight re-gain feels

Besides the physical discomfort, the emotional roller coaster is crippling. I feel for that Biggest Loser contestant. I feel for the millions of women who will yo-yo diet this year. I feel for my old self who didn’t know what to do and didn’t have the tools or the self-trust to try a new way. And I feel for you if you are still in this place.

But let’s face it. My experience is not even close to how bad this can be. Twenty pounds is nothing compared to people who have lost dozens, hundreds and put it back on. I feel for them. This shit sucks.

BUT, the good news is that there’s always a way out. There’s always a solution, if you’re willing to do the work to find it and implement it.

This is probably one of my most personal and vulnerable posts ever. Having just re-read this post, I can see that I wrote much of my inner dialogue that I’ve never uttered out loud even to Jade. And much of it happened subconsciously. At the time, I didn’t understand it as fully as I do now.

And of course it’s still a bit embarrassing :) but I have no regrets. Because my journey helped me arrive to the place I am now—balanced, moderate, happy and confident. I’ve gained much experience, insight and the ability to empathize. Though much of it was painful, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Check back soon for Part 2: How You Eat Is Exactly What You Get Good At. And leave a comment on the JillFit Facebook page with your own experience. I’d love to hear from you.

I’m going to be launching a Contest Rehab Program in 2014–touching upon both the physical and emotional challenges of the competition process for those who are ready to start living a balanced, powerful life after competition. If you’re interested in receiving updates about the program, please enter your name and email below.  Ox, Jill

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/09/weight-regain/

Who Has “The Right” to Do Something? Easy. The One Doing It.

“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” –Doris Lessing

There’s a lot of talk about worthiness in the fitness industry among professionals: who’s got the “right” credentials, who should do what (and who shouldn’t), how deep someone’s understanding is of “the science” and how so-and-so isn’t lean enough to be dishing out advice or putting stuff out there.

Frankly, I think it’s BS.

Who has “the right” to do something? Easy. The one who’s passionate and the one who’s actually taking action to do it. That’s it.

I work with dozens of women in my annual Best of You Coaching Mentorship who have so much to offer clients and customers–years working with women one-on-one or in the gym setting; credentials; numerous certifications and degrees, not to mention a wealth of personal experiences and insights. And yet many of them still wonder, Am I qualified to do this? Can I be a coach? Should I put out content? Who am I to write a blog? What do I have to offer? What if someone calls me out on “the science” and I don’t know the answer and get internet-shamed? What if people hate on me? What if someone calls me too fat or too out-of-shape to dish out nutrition advice? What about these last 10 lbs I still need to lose?

And on and on. Questioning, stressing, stalling, wondering, hesitating.

On Criticism

And why wouldn’t they stress? Haters and trolls are everywhere, spouting negativity, and it’s easier than ever for people to sit behind their computer and critique anonymously. Besides, Paul Chek says fitness pros should be able to give their lectures with no shirt on and Charles Poliquin has every single participant—male and female—take their shirt off to get their body fat % done at his Biosignature trainings. Gah!

Potentially scary stuff. And I can relate. Buuuuuut … the alternative is staying small and scared and ultimately not doing anything.

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” –Elbert Hubbard

I remember feeling like a fraud early on when I was coaching competitors and thinking in order to coach them I needed to be in competition shape too. Or, I wondered if I showed up to a conference to speak and wasn’t 12% body fat, would people think me less credible? My girl Molly Galbraith touched upon this recently and I loved it.

And the answer is … maybe. Maybe yes, some people might find it inappropriate to be dishing out fitness advice at anything less than “competition shape,” or sans six-pack. But for those people, sorry, but they’re not my customer. If they don’t appreciate the unique insight, novel advice and years of experience I bring to the table, then they shouldn’t work with me. They should find someone who is “in show shape” and do their program. Great, bye.

But the interesting thing is this. Your body fat % says very little about how qualified you are to teach. I know women who are sub-10% body fat who are inarticulate, body-obsessed, painfully insecure and have zero conviction. In fact, when I was in competition shape, I was so obsessed with my own physique, that I had little mental energy to give to my clients!

And on the other hand, I know dozens of women who are knowledgeable, unapologetically confident and absolute difference-makers who own their 20%+ body fat.

Your ability to teach and impact others depends on your passion, your conviction and your ability to get results. Period.

Jill_PTclient

I get heated about this topic because I talk to women all the time who doubt themselves. They doubt their ability to make a difference. They second-guess their knowledge, they stress about their physiques not being lean enough. They worry about what people will think.

I get it, I do. But I also hate it.

Because my mission and my message is for women to own their power, see that anything is possible and with passion and purpose, they can make a change–for themselves and for their clients and customers. My mentor Rachel Cosgrove says, “You only need to be one step ahead of the people you’re coaching.” And I agree. Every person we meet can teach us something. And likewise, there’s always going to be something for you to teach, too.

THAT is the definition of a possibility thinker. Someone who says, “Fuck deserving. I’m doing this no matter what. I was born to do this.” :)

Blame Coaches or Take Responsibility?

The biggest opposition arises when people say, well, so-and-so shouldn’t be blogging or talking about what they don’t know about because they could hurt people or do them wrong by dispensing advice.

And I get that. I don’t want to see clients done wrong or taken advantage of either. And unfortunately it does happen.

But, baring some of the more extreme medical cases, rebound weight gain and overtraining, etc are part of the learning process. I certainly don’t advocate it and I don’t want women going through it (in fact, the entire JillFit blog is dedicated to educating women about the dangers of crash dieting, including the emotional and physical implications. Any of course, my husband works with metabolic damage day in and day out).

But despite the years of yo-yo dieting I did, I don’t have any regrets. Yes, I learned the hard way and many women who work with competition coaches learn the hard way (often very hard), but I’m grateful for every aspect of my experience–good and bad–because it got me here. It helped me reach a place of greater insight, knowledge and empathy.

But here’s something to remember … clients and customers are adults. They can and should take 100% responsibility for their choice to work with a specific coach or expert.

We see this a lot in the competition world. Girls who want to do shows hire a coach. They get up on stage in the best shape of their life, accomplishing something that very few people can follow through with, and then … they don’t place. Or they rebound thirty pounds in mere weeks. These outcomes suck. Of course they do. But they are still your outcomes and if you don’t take responsibility for them, all you’re left with is a feeling of helplessness, betrayal and inadequacy. And I don’t know about you, but I hate those feelings. They characterize the victim mentality. They leave us feeling insignificant, powerless and scared.

Yes, I agree. Rebound weight gain blows. But ultimately doing a competition was my choice. #OwnItAndMoveOn

I remember after my very first figure competition, I gained 15 lbs in a week. I was devastated. All my hard work out the window. I didn’t even recognize my body. I felt depressed, insignificant and powerless. It sucked. And I remember thinking, “How come no one told me this could happen!!?”

Looking back on it now—of course! Of course when you stuff Reese’s cups down your throat for three days straight, your body no likey. Naively, I just assumed I’d, what, stay in show shape despite eating copious amounts of sugar?? I’d lose the weight and would be good to go forever?? Of course I know better now, and it’s even embarrassing to talk about, but at the time, I hated the way I felt and I wanted someone to blame. So I blamed the process. I blamed “people” for not telling me about rebounds. I blamed my trainer for not warning me. Luckily, I won my show so I didn’t have to blame anyone for not placing, but had I not placed, my inner victim would have blamed the judges, my coach and “the politics” for my perceived failure.

Note: Not saying there are not politics sometimes, but to pin our hopes and dreams on a sport that’s subjective is a little insane, no? Not to mention the fact that women who are already self-conscious about their bodies choose to walk around a STAGE in a BIKINI to get their bodies judged. Are we insane?? :) Lol.

But back to taking responsibility…

problems

Outcomes that involve us are our responsibility.

Outcomes that involve us are our responsibility. And we don’t realllllllly like that.

Yes, you followed your coach’s advice and after the show was over, you felt “done wrong” and wanted to blame him or her for leading you astray or not taking care of you. I understand that too. But at some point, don’t you have to just own your choices? Your choice to work with that coach, to follow their advice, to do the show? Because not owning those choices takes away our power. And keeps you in the victim role. It keeps you helpless.

But when we start owning our power again, we can choose where to go next. We can choose a different coach (and then assume responsibility for those outcomes too). We can choose to go it alone if we’ve lost trust in others. We can choose to never do a show again :) We can choose to not feel hurt or slighted or betrayed. And when we can move past those feelings, we’re now free to take action and move forward with a possibility mindset.

You either get this or you don’t. You’re either complaining or taking action.

So ask yourself, Am I still waiting on someone or something to change so that I can take back ownership of my life? Am I still waiting on circumstances to be perfect so I can finally jump? Am I still so scared of messing up that I might as well not even try?

These thoughts are that of a lack mindset. Could you instead practice a possibility mindset? An abundance mindset?

Try these affirmations instead:

  • Not only am I worthy to do this, I have no other choice.
  • I have much to contribute and people need to hear my message
  • I know that the only thing holding me back is my own self-doubt, and self-doubt is a choice. I choose self-trust instead.
  • I’m an expert in my own right—my experience, expertise and insights can help make a difference for people
  • Why NOT me?
  • I have to take action, because the alternative is waiting around for the perfect time, and the time will never be just right
  • I know I’ll mess-up, but I look forward to those challenges because I get to grow and learn as a result

And I’ll leave you with this. Jade and I were talking about this topic last night, and he said, “You’re nothing until you decide you’re something.” I love that. How true is that?

No one is going to call you an expert, and if you’re waiting around for affirmation from others, you’re going to be waiting a long time :)

Own your power. Take action. Mess-up, then grow and get better.

Ready to own your power? The Best of You Coaching Club for 2014 application process is now open, through Wednesday, December 11th only! 13 spots open for this 11-month mindset, body & business mentorship to work up close and person with me next year :)  

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/06/action/

7 Tools to Overcome Self-Doubt

With my third annual Best of You Coaching Club Mentorship for 2014 launching this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the more common struggles that women are dealing with, as they relate to mindset, physique and business.

One of the biggest challenges far and away is self-doubt: “Who am I to build this business?” or “Who am I to tell other women how to eat when I can’t even lose these last ten pounds!” and “What if I mess up? I’ll make a fool of myself!” and “No one supports me and they don’t get it. It’s easier to just not even try.”

I get it. I totally do.

In fact, when I first started competing and modeling, I thought my friends and family were going to scoff at it—“Pfft! She thinks she’s a frigging model! Please!” I was worried they were going to see me as self-centered or better than—“Who does she think she is getting up on stage in a bikini or starting a blog? Like she has something to say?!”

Of course, I never heard any of things out loud from anyone—only in my head a million times :)

SelfDoubt

I struggled with doubts the first few years at JIllFit. I wondered how I looked to people, did people (most importantly, my family!) think I was silly for trying to build this business? Or doing something so “out there” or unconventional? I felt a strong pull to fall in line with the usual course of events: college, 9-to-5 “good job,” 401k, marriage and kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s wonderful for those who are drawn to it—but I felt deep down inside that I wanted to touch people outside my close circle. I wanted to make a bigger impact in the world. I had a message I literally felt obligated to get out to the point that I felt I was not only doing a disservice to women who needed it–craved it–but more importantly, I knew I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t at least try.

And try I did. Many times.

And it wasn’t always pretty. My endeavors weren’t always easily accepted by my friends and family (the ones whose affirmation I craved the most). Not everyone “got it” or supported me. And often I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. But for whatever reason, I always forced myself to take action. And the scarier the task, the more I knew I needed to do it, because I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t.

And over time, my doubts turned into confidence.

Here are the 7 tools I used to get there:

1)  Take action.

This is a catch-22, right? In order to move past self-doubt, you need to get some wins, but at the same time, self-doubt is the biggest obstacle to action. So what do you do? For me, I’ve always forced myself to just do it, stop waiting for the time to be right. On some level I trusted myself enough to figure it out along the way. And that self-trust or self-confidence grew the more I just jumped. The fastest way to grow your confidence is to accumulate some small wins that eventually turn into bigger successes. Allow yourself THE CHANCE to have the experience of accomplishment. Experience the the thrill of it. Otherwise, you’ll aways feel paralyzed by doubt and assume that your worst fears will be realized.

Which brings me to #2 …

2) Get brutally honest about your fears.

Name them. Ask, what outcomes am I most afraid of? Take your mind to the worst-case scenario. This is an exercise I use with my coaching gals to help spur action. At first it’s scary, but then it’s empowering when you realize that yeah, that worst case scenario? I can handle it. Would it be fun? No, of course not. But could you handle it and adjust? Absolutely. Name your fears and ask yourself, “Could I handle worst-case scenario? Would I make it through?” I think you’ll find that in every instance, the answer is yes.

One of my favorite tools is Practical Pessimism.

3) Mess up more.

Is this counterintuitive? Yes. Because Jill, why would I want to mess up? I’ll tell you why–because the more blunders you commit, the more OPPORTUNITIES you have to build your resiliency. To get back up and try again. Of course, being resilient is a choice. Many of us will mess up once and then use it to justify our feelings all along: “See? I do suck!” and we’ll throw in the towel. But what if we didn’t? What if instead we used our mess ups and struggles as opportunities to grow and get better? That’s exactly what happens. The more we try, the more mistakes we will certainly make, but ultimately the more wins we’ll accumulate.

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” –Thomas J. Watson

4) Give up need for affirmation & don’t be afraid to disappoint others.

This was a really hard one for me for a lot of years, and something I still struggle with–the need for affirmation and the desire to not let people down. I grew up an overachiever, a perfectionist. And I was always affirmed for my good grades or my athletic talent.

The more positive feedback we get (especially as a child), the more we crave it. That’s normal human stuff. And it’s all well and good … until … well, we become an adult and we are still running around trying to garner affirmation and doing what we think we need to in order to earn love or praise. Running around trying to meet everyone’s expectations for you and trying to control their perception of what you’re doing is a prison. It keeps you small. It keeps you scared. And it ultimately keeps you from doing what you truly desire–what you want to do FOR YOU.

So let them judge. Let them be upset. Let them disapprove. Let them be confused or disappointed. Because those reactions have nothing to do with you. People will do what they do and say what they say. Let them. Do you. Be you. There’s no one better, and there’s certainly no alternative if you want to get to the next level.

5) Give yourself a mental pep talk. Then own that shit.

Oftentimes, we have a running tally in our mind of the many reasons why we should not be the one to do X or Y. We say, “Why me? I’m no one.” or “So-and-so is already doing that, and they’re so much smarter/leaner/better than me. Why bother?”

Sound familiar? We do this constantly. So how about turning that statement around. How about saying instead, “Why NOT me?” or “Why can’t I contribute too?” There’s plenty of money, success and happiness to go around and you already have a unique offering that no one else can match: YOU. Like my girl Liz DiAlto says, “I don’t worry about people stealing my stuff because good luck trying to be me.” <—THIS is the attitude you need to adopt to overcome self-doubt. You have to, on some level, just say, “You know what, “I’m the shit. I have something to offer and people will get better as a result of working with me.” As a coach, you only need to be one step ahead of the people you’re coaching. So own it. Own your expertise, own your experiences. Trust in YOU. This is a mindset issue, hence the mental pep talk :)

In the fitness industry, there’s a lot of talk about who should (or shouldn’t) do what or who knows the science well enough or who’s lean enough to be dispensing advice. Honestly, screw that. Sorry. But, who has “the right” to do something? Simple. The person who is passionate and who is actually DOING IT. That’s all. So, answer me this: why NOT you?

6) Surround yourself with people who “get it” and don’t stress about the ones who don’t.

I love this from Tim Ferris: “It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.” How true is that??

The usual response of people when you do something, anything that’s a little out of the norm or risky is, “Well, that won’t work.” Also known as, haters (ironically, I hate that word :) ). The bottom line with haters is to let them be. They don’t contribute, they only criticize. Let them stay skeptical and small. And instead, seek out people who are on your level. Who see the potential like you do. Who see possibilities. Who support you following your dreams. Who are open-minded. Who don’t scoff at big or novel ideas. Surround yourself with people who support you. It’s not to say leave everyone else behind (especially if it’s family and you want to maintain a relationship with them), but just learn to not go to them for the big stuff. Confide in those who are on the same page, and who help pull you up, rather than drag you down.

7) Get a coach who has been there, done that.

In 2011, when I was at the end of my rope with my business and personal life, I knew where I wanted to get to, but didn’t know the first step to take. In order to get myself and my business to the next level, I sought out a coach and hired her. I looked for someone who I admired and looked up to. Someone who was doing what I wanted to do, but doing it a thousand times better. Someone who had the life I wanted, but who had also been in my shoes previously. And honestly, hiring a coach made all the difference. Not only did I get the support and accountability I craved, but I got a consistent message about my mindset. My coach helped me hone my mindset to one of success, rather than fear or lack. And she pushed me “take massive action”–her words. And I did. And I was scared as hell, but it was a game-changer, and it happened within a year.

I’ll never forget on our second coaching call, I was hung up on some small detail and she just said, “Jill, you need to move past this, it’s a tiny thing compared to where you want and need to get. You’re in the big leagues now, it’s time to start acting like a real business.” HOLY shiiiiiiid. Tough love, but boy did I need it! I’ll always be so grateful to my first coach (I’ve had many since and I’ll never be without one because I believe in it so much) for pushing me when I was reluctant and when I was stuck. It’s an enormous gift and one I urge you to seek out if you haven’t.

So, are you ready to take your physique, mindset and business to the next level in 2014? My 11-month Best of You Coaching Club Mentorship is now open for applications. I am taking only 13 women for next year–to work with up and close and personal with me, daily online and even in person throughout the year. Looking for motivated, determined women who want to elevate their game. Are you her? :) I’d love to find out. Application details here (registration closes on Wednesday Dec 11, 2013). 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/12/02/self-doubt/

Gratitude is a Game-Changer. And Yes, It’s a Choice.

“The antidote for lack is gratitude. Gratitude is a choice, an attitude, an approach towards life.” –John-Roger

In the self-help world, people throw around terms like “gratitude” and “wellbeing” all the time. They sound esoteric. They sound idealistic. And it’s also easy to start numbing yourself to them. So that you’re eventually like, “Yeah, yeah, I get it, be grateful. Blah, blah, blah.”

I kind of hate this.

I hate this because it belittles the concept of gratitude.

It allows us to pass over it, without really practicing it. And practicing gratitude is pivotal. Because the act of being grateful for something, anything can honestly change your entire world, not to mention your day.

Because your perception is your greatest tool.

And your perception is simply one choice away, always.

If how you view the world is not a choice one makes, how do you explain that some people see the world as kind while others see it as hostile? Same world.

We choose in every second how to perceive ourselves, our circumstances, others’ actions and others’ words. And in that perception lies the key to personal freedom and happiness.

Gratitude

Here’s an example.

Say I think that the world is out to get me. People are out for themselves and all they want to do is screw me over. They don’t think of me, they don’t support me and they don’t care about me. They’re always working from an agenda, and I will always be the one to get the short end of the stick.

I bet you know people like this. It’s really common and of course, it’s normal, because we use cues from our past to dictate how we see the world, and often this is done subconsciously. If I see the world this way, chances are I’ve gotten “screwed” in the past, been let down a lot and am generally unhappy with my lot in life.

The issues with this perspective is that when we perceive the world this way:

  1. We cannot feel gratitude for anyone or anything because we always feel like people are acting from an agenda and they are trying to pull the wool over our heads. And…
  2. We can never feel love, connection or support from others because we’re always assuming that anything anyone does has to be out of self-interest and personal gain.

This perception is a choice.

An alternative viewpoint…

We could just as easily listen to people words and accept them. We could choose to not make assumptions. We could release the thought that we “know better” or that we “see what they’re doing.” We could choose to take people at their word, rather than trying to decipher hidden meaning and uncover secret self-serving schemes.

When we see people and circumstances in this way (perception), can you see that the world will be a much kinder place?

And when we perceive a kind world, it makes it a thousand times easier to be grateful.

And gratitude changes the score. In fact, it takes the score cards away completely. Gratitude is genuine. It’s honest. It’s selfless.

Gratitude it turns what we have into enough.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/11/28/choose-gratitude/

Food Anxiety and How to Deal with Stress Eating

My mom has always been thin. She was never a huge exerciser, and I never recall her dieting. And honestly, looking back, I can’t remember her even thinking about food all that much. Sure, she has a sweet tooth that I inherited :) but overall, my whole life, she’s seemed to pay very little attention to food.

How … implausible.

I remember one time, when I was deep in my competition lifestyle and went home for a week to visit, I spent all day every day working out and prepping my food, only to eat 6 times a day straight out of Tupperware. My mom said to me (with love), “Jill, if you didn’t work out so much, you probably wouldn’t need to be eating constantly.”

At the time, I scoffed. This was my lifestyle–she just didn’t get it. I eat, I train, I eat, I train, zzzzzzzzz … and I also have no life. Little did I know that she’s the one who had it figured out all along.

Looking back, it would’ve been nice to not have my life controlled by exercise and food. It would’ve been nice to NOT be obsessed with eating constantly.

But I guess you get the lessons you need at the exact right time you need them. At that time, I didn’t have the perspective and I wasn’t conscious of the amount of mental stress and energy I dedicated to food and exercise.

ANYWHO.

I wrote in my last post about food FOMO and how we can become obsessed with “missing out” on food experiences. The desire to have every single thing for fear of never having it again can keep us struggling.

In the post, I revealed the many embarrassing ways that I’ve been obsessed and anxious over food my entire life. Feeling starving as a child, indulging in ridiculous sweets and treats as a teen and then getting anxious about there not being enough food as an adult. To the point of actually crying when Jade tried to take my Reese’s Pieces one time. I’m insane!!

And yet many of you said the post resonated with you strongly–to the point that you thought I was “in your head.”

Food anxiety and stress eating are rarely talked about. Because, let’s face it, we feel shameful about them. And we think we’re alone in the struggle.

But if the response I got from last week’s post is any indication, we are far from alone.

Often, we don’t even realize its going on because it’s just our modus operandi. Wherever we go, we get excited at the potential for amazing, once-in-a-lifetime food indulgences and are constantly worrying about, is there going to be ENOUGH OF EVERYTHING?? Hell, I’m worried I won’t have enough wine for tonight! :)

The thing to realize about food anxiety is that is stems from a fear of not being able to get the “hit” we need from food, for whatever purpose we need it.

Clients ask me about how to stop “stress eating” all the time. Same thing. We stress-eat because we feel that eating to our heart’s desire in some way calms us. It soothes us. It’s comfort. It’s relaxation. It’s what we do for fun.

But the joke is on us. Because in the end, the “fun” of food ends up being not all that fun.

It’s a brain chemistry issue.

You may have heard of the brain chemical dopamine. It’s a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for things like boosting mood, pleasure, motivation, compulsion, competitiveness, drive, etc. It controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. When we get a “dopamine hit”–we feel reward. Dopamine is released in activities such as eating, having sex, working out, recreational drug use, even getting affirmation from others, etc. It makes us feel good, and then it reinforces those behaviors by keeping us wanting to do whatever we need to in order to experience that pleasure again.

Hence the term “dopamine hit.” It can become addicting.

The problem with dopamine release is that we achieve it more fully when engaging in pleasure-seeking behaviors, often the same ones that prioritize instant gratification over long-term success. E.g. eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. And the more we push the dopamine button, the more those pathways become less and less responsive. And we end up needing more in order to achieve the same effect. This might explain why, for example, you used to feel satisfied with a couple of Oreos, and now you need to eat an entire roll. And not to go too off-topic, but this is the same reason that watching too much porn may make someone less able to get excited during actual sex.

This is also why people say eating sweets is “a slippery slope”–the more we have, the more we want. And people who have given them up for a period of time cite not really feeling any compulsion to eat them.

Part of breaking this dopamine cycle is to start re-sensitizing yourself to those sensations by waning yourself from them. Of course, easier said than done, right? The fastest way to stop going down the dopamine rabbit hole is to pull back on the behaviors that reinforce it.

So is the answer to simply stop eating sweets? Ideally, yes. But is it practical? Probably not. The idea that you’re never going to eat sugar again is a little short-sighted and inconceivable. So what I recommend to get around it is practice ‘controlled cheating’. And yes, it’s certainly a practice. You don’t just get it. You need to work it. 

Also, certain foods help boost dopamine naturally, including what we use at Metabolic Effect. The ME Coaoa Drink: 1-2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder (i.e. baking cocoa) mixed with hot water and a few drops of stevia to create a “fake hot chocolate.” In addition to boosting dopamine naturally, this takes the edge of cravings and keeps your mouth occupied for an hour :)

More on brain chemistry and cravings here

It’s a routine issue.

In Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit, he explores the habit loop: cue–>routine–>reward.

Often, our desire for food stems from practiced indulgence, i.e. HABITS borne out of routine. And by definition, habits are effortless. They are the path of least resistance. So of course you will do them without thinking.

I am sure if you think about it, a lot of your behaviors around eating stem from a routine you’ve established in your schedule.

Friday nights represent “relaxing” with wine. Sunday nights represent a big, fun family dinner. Wednesday nights represent a mid-week “treat” at Happy Hour, etc. We are always using food as a reward: “Congratulations, you made it through another draining week at work! Here, have a whole bottle of wine!” :)

I’m certainly not judging at all, considering this was my absolute M.O. for years.

For example, years ago, I used to *need* a sweet every day around 2-3pm when I was working my 9-to-5, as if it was my reward for getting through another day. The cue was the time of day (down-time at the office), the routine was this elaborate walk from my office to the complete other side of the building where there was bulk candy set up–I’d get my bag, fill up with the favorite “usual” goodies, then walk back to my desk. And then the reward–the satisfaction of the sweet and the completion of my routine.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Once you identify YOUR cue, think about how you can change it.

Here’s how I did it: Another example. I used to have a habit loop that revolved around nightly sugar-free frozen yogurt. The cue was my drive home and the fact that it as at the end of a long day of training clients. The routine was driving to the fro-yo place (which has a drive-thru! How easy can it be?!) and seeing what the SF flavor of the day was and seeing the usual people working (…lol, this is getting hilarious as I write it…) and then drive home to “relax” with fro-yo (the reward).

To break this loop, I started changing my routine in certain ways. I wouldn’t come home the same way, or I would go to Starbucks to work and get a huge, hot green tea instead of going right home, or I would make a deal with myself, that I could have fro-yo only after I abstained for 3 nights in a row. All worked, and I hardly ever get it anymore.

Think about how you might change your routine so as to break your loop.

It’s a band-aid issue.

The bottom line is that eating for a reward or eating because you are bored or eating because you need a feel-good “hit” are all ways we’re covering up a larger issue.

And though it’s certainly common, stuffing our faces to deal with stress, anxiety or unhappiness doesn’t serve us. We think comfort food is relaxing, when in reality, we end up more UNcomfortable in the end, don’t we?

So the key here is to examine what else is going on:

Are you eating because you’re bored? If so, find something to do in the evenings (here are 32 ideas). Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby.

Are you eating because you’re emotionally stressed or unhappy? This is super-common. We eat to feel better about ourselves, but in the end, it only makes us feel worse. Find other ways to boost your self-esteem, like hitting the gym, trying a yoga class or starting a blog where you can express yourself freely.

You’ll also want to examine the source of the stress–job, relationship, finances, family, etc. Delving into this stuff is anything but easy, and it takes time. But part of it begins with discovering your purpose and passion. If you don’t know what you love or don’t feel like what you do matters, then of course you feel helpless. So of course you’ll binge. Because who cares? In the bottom of your heart, you know the truth. Only one person can really care enough to make the choice to change, and that’s you :)

Waiting for others to change or be different so that you can be happy is a trap. It’s a trap that immobilizes you, where you get to stay the victim of circumstances and never have to do the work TO MAKE YOURSELF happy. People will always do what they do. Once you realize that, you can finally start taking one small step at a time to realize your own personal freedom and happiness (Could seriously write an entire blog on just this concept, so I apologize for the tangent :) ).

Are you eating because you are legitimately stressed, physiologically? Your body no likey. Ways in which your BODY might be stressed (causing you to overeat), when in your mind you don’t feel stressed: too much long-duration cardio, too low carb or too low carl, sleep deprivation, waiting too long to eat between meals or fasting, too much dietary deprivation, low leptin (as a result of low cal/carb dieting for long periods of time), not paying attention to stress-reducing behaviors, overtraining. Could your body be stressed, but your mind not feel it? Your stress response is the same whether it comes from the body or the mind, and the result is increased hunger and cravings.

The solution is to focus on stress-reducation activities, prioritize sleep and eat more frequently, and maybe even bump carbs or cals.

Think of food anxiety on a spectrum.

Food anxiety is a spectrum where the extremes represent the highest stress–complete deprivation or eating everything you want. Neither one of those scenarios are relaxing. Even though we think eating to our heart’s desire is relaxing, in the end, it’s really not. Because now we have the guilt, remorse and physical discomfort on top of it. No thanks.

The middle point on the spectrum is the least stressful. The moderate place. The balanced place. The place my mom lives, and what I’ve been working toward the last 3 years.

This morning, I had my first meal at 11am, and it was 4 slices of bacon, about 15 asparagus spears and a Blood Mary. #sorrynotsorry Is this the healthiest thing on earth? No. Will it have me losing fat left and right? Nope. But honestly, it was completely satisfying and not the worst thing on earth. I don’t drink booze for breakfast all the time :) But when I do, it’s on vacation in the mountains, ha! But … I feel great. No stress. No worries. No added pounds. No desire to go back and eat more, drink more, indulge more.

My personal approach to nutrition now is to find that moderate, middle place and then practice it. Never eating everything I want, but also never feeling completely deprived. This is a practice that took me three years to hone to the point of effortlessness. I’m not getting lean round-the-clock, but I maintain my weight with very little mental energy. My physique is essentially automated at this point. Not perfect. But not stressful in the least. In fact, like my mom, I rarely think about food.

Could you try to find that middle place on the food anxiety spectrum? Not deprived, but not eating with abandon either?

It takes conscious effort, practice and time. But the reward is never feeling the need to bury your head in a package of Oreos again. Never feeling the complete compulsion to eat everything in sight. Never feeling like you have to drown your feelings in food. Because you don’t ever allow yourself to get to that point of deprivation in the first place.

Give it a whirl, and report back. One foot in front of the other, strapping in for the long haul and accumulating small wins over time that eventually add up to big successes. It takes courage to try a new way. But it’s time to admit that the old way is not working. Let me know how you do! Ox, Jill

Related: 7 Things Dieters Do That Lean People Don’t

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/11/21/food-anxiety-stress-eating/

Do You Have FOMO Around Food?

I have a clear memory of being 5 years old, at my babysitter, Mrs. Kelly’s house and being given a dixie cup with cereal in it as my afternoon snack. There were a few other kids my age who got the same, and I honestly remember–even at that age–looking at the other kids wondering if they felt as I did, that “this can’t possibly be all we get?? How are they are not still starving??”

It’s funny, when I started thinking about the topic of food anxiety, I noticed that my entire life has been dotted with similar experiences:

  • In high school, my best friend Sally and I going to the local 7-Eleven and picking up candy, only to back-track and ALSO get a salty snack because everyone knows you need to have the taste of salt after a sweet, and then another sweet after salty, and back and forth, of course.
  • Choosing candy items based on how long they took to eat. I would NEVER get Reese’s Cups because pfffft, there are ONLY TWO of them! How … unsatisfying? And over too quickly!
  • After college, when I was teaching a bazillion fitness classes every week and doing 2+ hours of cardio I day, I exercised so that I could eat whatever I wanted (even though the “look” I was carrying at the time was a water-logged cardio one), and one thing I would always do would be to get bagels on Saturday morning. I would get a sausage, egg and cheese on a plain bagel. BUT–what if one bagel is not enough and I’m still hungry after?–so I would ALSO get a cinnamon sugar bagel with cream cheese too. Because you know, the savory/sweet alternating thing again.
  • Even a few years ago, I would do a weekly Reese’s Pieces cheat every Sunday night, turning it into a cozy ritual. I would bundle up on the sofa to watch my fav Sunday night HBO show with my Reese’s, and here comes Jade holding his hand out for MY Reeses! Is he insane?? Doesn’t he know I only do this ONCE a week?? I’m not sharing!! :) Thus, I started getting him his own separate bag that I could then throw at him when he reached for mine. Ha!

See?

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Fear of missing out on the ‘fun’ of food. Anxiety about the scarcity of food.

Though it wasn’t on a conscious level, I lived in a constant state of food anxiety. In my head: Will I be able to get enough of all the yummy foods I want to stuff down my throat at this one-and-only opportunity because come Monday, I can’t have any of it again, so I NEED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT ALL RIGHT NOW!!!!

:)

Maybe you’ve had similar experiences, maybe you haven’t. But I believe that many of us have an underlying anxiety about food that manifests in urgency. We don’t want to “miss the opportunity” to have this custom cake at this wedding, or the few-and-far-between opportunity to have popcorn at the movies or this award-winning dessert at this special restaurant I don’t know if I’ll ever get to eat at again.

I understand completely. And I’m actually not knocking an every-once-in-a-while indulgence, but when it snowballs into feeling like you are missing out every single day on some potentially-yummy food item, then you are actually being 100% ruled by your environment. No wonder you feel out of control. No wonder you (ironically) feel no sense of satisfaction when you eat whatever it is you feel like you’re missing out on. Because you’re always looking for the next chance to eat to your heart’s desire:

  • A co-worker is eating something new and delicious that you just have to try
  • When your office pals hit Happy Hour, “I’ll have whatever everyone else is having!”
  • At a dinner or holiday party where you get to eat season treats–egg nog, yule logs, the cutest little mini desserts and pumpkin cheesecakes!!
  • When a friend comes over to spend quality time–bring out the wine, cheese and crackers

Bottom line is that we can find opportunities for “missing out” on yummy food every single day. I can drive by McDonalds and see all the cars in the drive-thru and get depressed because “look at all those people who can eat Big Macs and I have to eat this dry chicken breast and these steamed veggies.” I can feel “left out” when I go to my Italian in-laws’ house on Friday night after a long week of work and watch everyone else devour bread, cheese, pasta and tiramisu and make the choice not to.

OR…

I can choose to NOT feel left out. I can actively CHOOSE my eating habits. I can CHOOSE to feel satisfied by my choices, and actually take pride in the fact that I don’t let my environment dictate my choices. In this way, I am more in control than ever.

So the key, if you are feeling FOMO around food is …. YOUR ATTITUDE. How you perceive the situation. FOMO is a choice.

Let other people be swayed by their environments. You make choices, for your own healthy lifestyle without circumstantial considerations. Let your ability to not take things, places, people into consideration be a source of pride and affirmation for you.

This attitude shift takes practice and patience. But the good news is that the more you own your choices and refuse to feel “left out” of (to-be-regretted-later) yummy/disgusting food encounters, the easier it becomes to see things that way. Essentially, it’s like strengthening your willpower muscle. Reinforcing it until you get to the point when the FOMO food you used to desire actually holds no appeal for you, because you’ve found a way to eat that already satisfies you.

I’m currently working on a follow up to this post, where I’ll go more in-depth about food anxiety and what drives us to eat out of stress or because we think it makes us feel better. We think “comfort food” is supposed to comfort us, when in actuality, it makes us more remorseful, UNcomfortable and physically worse later. But in the moment, it’s hard to be aware of that. Food anxiety is an elaborate interplay of brain chemistry, triggers + resulting habit loops, scarcity vs. abundance mindset and misguided stress management (including physiological factors).

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/11/09/food-fomo/

Controlled Cheating: 6 Strategies for Intelligent Indulgence

“People ask me what my secret is, and I say, ‘Um, salami and chardonnay?’”

My sister-in-law, Dr. Jillian Teta, owner of Fix Your Digestion and I are sitting outside at our favorite brunch spot in town drinking Bloody Marys, and ironically, discussing how far we’ve come nutritionally. See, both of us competed in figure competitions, posed for magazines and were “hard core” with our eating and training for many years–rarely thinking anything except the next Tupperware’d protein + veggie meal we needed to eat. We often joke that we were, at that time, either buying food, cooking food or eating food. Truly the life of a competitor.

As Jillian and I were reminiscing, we both decided that, in hindsight, that life was exhausting.

Not that it wasn’t rewarding on many levels and absolutely incredible to see yourself in that kind of shape. It’s an unreal feeling, walking on stage knowing you’ve done something that very few people can actually follow through on. It boosts your confidence and makes you feel like you can do anything.

But, the thing about competing that is not often talked about is this … IT HAS TO BE YOUR LIFE. Prepping food, cooking food, Tupperware, scheduling meals the night/weekend before, bringing your food everywhere with you, bowing out on social events, getting up early to train, maybe hitting the gym for a second time that evening, supplements, where’s my gallon water jug and holy shit, are my abs coming in?? And this is the way it’s supposed to be. People don’t win physique shows by chance, they win because they live it, they work their asses off and automate everything else in their lives. Their focus is the show, the physique. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Except if you’re 99.9% of the population that just doesn’t want to think, sleep, breathe, worry about food and exercise 24/7. Because ultimately, for most people, the bottom line is quality of life, sustainability and where you want to focus your attention.

In 2010, I came to the realization that I didn’t want to live that life anymore. I wanted to focus on my business and instead of automating my life, I wanted to learn to automate my physique, so I could have the MENTAL SPACE AND PHYSICAL TIME to dedicate to things other than my body.

Fast forward three years and I hardly think about food. And the reason I’ve been able to make that transition and stay fairly lean (not “show shape” but certainty not nearly as bloated as I sometimes would get between shows) is precisely because I allow myself some strategic indulgences.

And back to brunch with Jillian…

We’re discussing how we manage to stay satisfied, while also not blowing up. And though we laugh about loving pepperonis, Dubliner cheese and red wine, it’s not the actual wine and meat that helps us stay lean (obviously). But it’s the idea that because we don’t ever feel deprived, we never feel the need to OVERindulge. When I was competing, I was either on a strict competition plan OR eating every sweet, treat and cheat in sight. Now I hardly ever need, want or crave epic, balls-out cheats. The way my weekly schedule is set up now, it’s honestly effortless and I could eat this way forever. Do people get super lean off this? No. But they maintain and stay sane. Which, at this stage in my life, is the ultimate success.

Here are the ways I recommend to indulge strategically, so that you can maintain your weight while also maintaining your quality of life:

1) Pinpoint your nonnegotiables and then adjust the rest of your day accordingly.

I like wine. And I drink 1-2 glasses most nights. But I also never eat bread nor sweets. And because I’ve been practicing this for so long, it’s effortless. For now, I’ve decided that enjoying a glass of wine is a quality of life issue for me and because I want to incorporate it into my eating, I need to drop other concessions, like sweets, most starches and even monitor portions more closely. Besides, you can’t have your cake and lose fat too. We have to pick and choose our “nutritional gimmes” and then make up the difference elsewhere. I don’t count cals or macros, but I’m aware that when I want to have a couple glasses of wine at dinner, I’m not getting starch or dessert or hitting the bread basket. Period. And I might even adjust food portions earlier in the day if need be.

2) RELAX into your eating.

Allow me to explain. You will not die of starvation if you don’t eat every 3 hours and you will not be losing muscle by the second if you don’t eat immediately post workout. Looking back, I realize that the period of time I was most obsessive about food was also when obsessed with “the rules.” I needed to get 6 servings of veggies or else I was going to get unhealthy and sick. I needed to eat protein at every meal or I would lose muscle. I needed to eat every 3 hours or I would end up ravenous and at the McDonalds drive-thru. I needed to drink a gal of water a day or else I would shrivel up and die :) Are these things “ideal?” Certainly! But doing every one of them perfectly day in and day out becomes mentally exhausting for most people. Hence, relaxing into the process and considering ditching the rules and listening to your body instead.

I know, I know: “But Jill, that’s scary! What if I end up eating everything in sight??” I get that. But this is where the self-TRUST comes in. Taking a chance on a different way and relaxing into the idea that whatever happens, you can figure it out (and you can!), but you have to actually take that trust leap and see what happens. The first time I did this, it was a few years ago when I was sick of prepping food and disgusted by the old steamed veggies and plain proteins. I decided, screw it, not prepping this week … I’ll just have to figure it out. And the idea of not being prepared was TERRIFYING. But what do you know? I didn’t blow up like a whale and I was able to maintain my weight and do just fine. I haven’t looked back since.

3) Practice “willpower challenges.”

Jade introduced me to this concept, via Kelly McGonigal, author of ‘The Willpower Instinct’ (highly recommend!). The basic tenet is that you need to train your willpower, just like a muscle and the more you practice being around indulgences without having to devour them, the stronger you get in your ability to resist. A Willpower Challenge is this: order a dessert or treat you want. And instead of blindly scarfing the whole thing, in that moment, harness mindfulness and have 3 bites of it only, and then stop.

Sounds impossible, right? I thought so too. But true to its name, the “challenge” aspect serves to prep you to get better at this. You try, try and try some more until it becomes an effortless HABIT that you’ve developed through practice. Practice makes progress, but you have to start somewhere.

4) Use Neghar’s First Bite Rule.

My girl Neghar Fonooni of Eat, Life and Be Happy uses what she calls The First Bite Rule (read the whole post here), and essentially she says, when you have a treat or a cheat, make sure every bite is just as amazing as the very FIRST bite. Because usually once we get 5 bites in, we’re barely tasting it anyway. So stay mindful, and when you get to that spot where you’re not really paying attention, it’s an indication that you’re done with that dessert. Like everything, this is a practice. But the more you do it, the easier it’ll get to simply take a few amazing bites and be done with it.

5) Ritualize, don’t habitualize.

Love this tool Jillian came up with. And this has everything to do with mindfulness. Usually we don’t get upset if a cheat is planned, right? Conversely, the thing that irks us the most is when we end up indulging in things we didn’t plan on. Like, “Crap, it’s someone’s birthday at the office and I wasn’t mentally prepared to turn down cake, so I ate it and now feel like I messed everything up.”

So this strategy speaks to consciousness around indulgences. Habits are things we do automatically and regularly, like walking by someone’s desk and swiping candy from the jar without thinking. Or coming home and snacking on cheese and crackers while preparing dinner because our willpower’s too drained to resist. If you want to be able to control your waistline while feeling satisfied, cheats really cannot fall into the HABIT role.

Instead, ritualize them. Rituals are big deals. They’re planned, prepared in advance and non-negotiable. As your indulgences should be, too. Don’t have anything you don’t absolutely frigging love. Make sure you don’t compromise on what you want. Have EXACTLY what you want and plan how it’s going to be: Saturday night at 7pm at your favorite restaurant with your #1 dessert on earth. Ritualize your indulgences, don’t habitualize them.

6) Understand the difference between an indulgence and a preemptive cheat.

I got a text from a client a couple years ago that just said this, “OMGGGGGG I just polished off an entire bag of almonds!!! I’m out of control! HELP!”

So, my question to you: Are almonds a cheat? I don’t think they are. Can they play a role in fat loss resistance if they are overdone day after day after day? Sure. But to freak out over having too many almonds or a few extra pieces of bacon or a couple squares of dark chocolate–or even fruit–is excessive. These are what I consider preemptive cheats. They don’t especially help us lose weight, but they don’t add pounds either. They serve to satisfy us enough to keep us from reaching for the really bad stuff later. Like, the actual cheats–cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, chips, pastries, etc.

If you waste all your freak-outs on your preemptive cheats, you’ll have none left for when you actually need them–for real cheats! Ha! :)

So this is relative right? Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Understand that some “nutritional gimmes” are necessary in order to stay the course and resist the really bad stuff. If you’re hungry, but are stressed about having a banana because “it’s too high GI” or “it’s too late at night,” honestly, have the banana. Why? Because it’s a small concession to help you stay the course.

Preemptive cheats. Use them.

The idea that you’ll never eat sugar again is absurd. Buuuut, if you take the time to strategize and stay mindful of your cheats and treats, then indulging can keep you sane and keep you slim. It’s when we deprive and then subsequently binge that we get into trouble. The best way to avoid bingeing is to not allow yourself to feel deprived in the first place. So throw yourself a bone. Indulge intelligently and then move on. Keeping your nutrition 90% clean 100% of the time will allow you to maintain your weight, and more importantly, it’ll feel effortless.

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/10/31/intelligent-indulgence/

Are Personal Development “Gurus” Condescending and Self-Righteous?

“The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development. I used to say, ‘If you take care of me, I will take care of you.’ Now I say, ‘I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.””
–Jim Rohn

Over the last three years, I read close to 100 books on personal development and self-realization, from the classic, The Four Agreements, to the newest stuff from positive psychologist Shawn Achor (Before Happiness) and Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. I’m not alone in this pursuit. Many of you are well-read in the area of mindset, and if you aren’t yet, you read and resonate with this blog because you want to get better, learn more and explore your own personal development. Good for you. It takes courage to say, I don’t have all the answers. And then go looking for them within.

And guess what? I don’t have all the frigging answers either :)

I’ve read, I’ve reflected and I’ve gone through some shitty times. But I’m still a work in progress. I see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, even though it can sometimes be painful as hell, and I simply TRUST that the more I delve into “my stuff” the better off I’ll be in the long run.

JillFit started off as strictly a nutrition and training blog in 2010. But over time, we noticed that more often than not, people knew WHAT to do, but for various reasons, they simply could not implement. We know this is common because willpower is exhaustible, and many of the changes we try to implement simply cannot be implemented at the desired pace. This is a focus and willpower problem. In other words, a psychological problem. A mindset problem.

And thus the new “voice” of JillFit started down a road pairing mindset WITH nutrition and training for a more holistic approach. Well, that, plus the fact that I was going through some of my own personal challenges that required deeper introspection than I ever thought I was capable of, and BAM, our message started changing.

Fast forward three years and here we are. At the intersection of fitness and personal development.

And I’ve found it a tricky place to be. Personal development, in and of itself is tricky, because you have to actually want to do it. You have to be at a place in your life where you are open and looking for it. It doesn’t resonate otherwise. This is why I love the quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” We get exactly what we need at the exact time that we need it.

But what if you are not ready for introspection and self-help?

What if you think you have it all figured out (I’m not saying you don’t), and you think personal development is a bunch of crap? Well, you’ll probably not take to it kindly. You might find it “too woo-woo” or “out there.” You might think it a waste of time, or for the really effed up people (not you).

And you might find it self-righteous as hell.

You might find it preachy.

It may come off arrogant to you.

It might make you feel threatened.

It might make you feel less than or that you are doing something wrong.

It may make you feel defensive.

All valid feelings. And I totally get that.

But isn’t it ironic that it can make us feel the very things we are trying to get a better handle on?

Let me back up and explain. For me, I started my introspective journey into self-help because I noticed that my insecurities were not serving me. I often acted out of fear, tried to control situations and walked around feeling hurt and betrayed. My feelings were valid, of course. Emotions are always valid. But in these situations, I was the only one in misery. Everyone else was just fine. I was the one holding the grudges and feeling “done wrong.” I was the one who was struggling day after day. The people who I perceived to be the assholes were just fine. They didn’t give me a second glance, they were good.

So after harnessing a small amount of introspection, I realized at this point I had a choice: I could hold onto my anger and hurt and let it keep me insecure and small, OR I could own my insecurities, look them dead in the face and deal with them, even though it meant having to take responsibility for my BS and cop to the fact that I didn’t have it all figured out. Ouch! :)

Like Byron Katie says, “I could be right, or I could be free.” Eventually, I got the point where I just wanted to be free, so I chose introspection and I chose to face the ugly stuff.

And though it’s taken me years and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I am owning more and more my own security and authenticity. However, I’ve noticed something: When I was in my insecure place, I’d take everything personally and let my sensitivities rule me. Before, if someone mentioned they were going to work out, I took it to mean I didn’t work out enough or was slacking. If someone skipped bread at dinner, I took it to mean they were too good for everyone else. If someone was prepping for a show or getting lean, I made it mean I was fat and insignificant. If someone told me about a win they had in their work, I immediately made it mean that I was incompetent and unsuccessful.

Can you see how when we act from an insecure place that we see things uniquely through the lens of insecurity? We make things mean whatever we need them to mean to prove that yes, we do indeed suck. We use others’ wins to mean we’re a loser. We see the things other people say and do mean that we’re not good enough.

When we act from a place of insecurity, we always feel threatened and not good enough.

Could you then see that in this way, if we see someone else acting from SECURITY, that we take it to mean they’re self-righteous or trying to be better than?

Could you see that when we feel insecure, it makes us feel like SECURE people are arrogant and condescending?

I think this happens a lot in the world of self-help. We perceive self-realization books, experts and texts to be self-righteous and preachy when we are operating from a threatened, insecure place.

When we come from a secure place, nothing anyone says or does can feel threatening, because we know it doesn’t mean anything about our own progress.

But when we come from a SECURE place (a practiced result of introspection, letting ourselves be vulnerable and eventually deciding that we are okay), nothing someone else says or does can feel too preachy or threatening. We don’t feel defensive because we don’t take what those people say or do as a personal affront on our own competency. We don’t jump to the conclusion that just because someone else has it figured out, it mean we DON’T have it figured out.

The most secure people are the ones who can give compliments and praise freely, because they don’t feel like giving them takes away from their own power. In fact, it adds power to the relationship. Kind words and sincere acknowledgment of someone else’s successes empowers you AND them. It doesn’t make your accomplishments any less.

So back to the Self-Help World … the bottom line is that “self-help” or personal realization books, texts and experts help us overcome THE VERY THING that makes us perceive it to be preachy in the first place: insecurity.

When we are more comfortable in our own skin, then we don’t need to put down other people to make ourselves feel better. We realize that all people are doing the best they can, and so are we. We give others the benefit of the doubt and judge them less. We also give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and discontinue SELF-judgment.

One last question to ask yourself: Does this post itself make you feel defensive and/or pissed off? This blog in and of itself is not threatening. It’s just words, my thoughts written and put out in the world. You can choose to resonate with it or not. It’s not an affront to how you see things. It’s not “the way”–it’s my way. And your own opinion–whether in line with mine or not–is 100% valid. And the beautiful thing about self-help is that it’s a completely individual journey on which you get to embark when you’re ready. No judgement, no considerations, no expectations. Just awareness, introspection, learning and growing.

Thank you for reading my rambling thoughts. I am always so honored to be able to put down into words my struggles, my successes, my insights and my journey, and the fact that anyone reads it still shocks me. THANK YOU for being here, and thank you for embarking on your own personal development. Besides, I truly do believe it’s the best gift we can give others :) Ox, Jill

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/10/25/personal-development/

How to Make a Salad You’ll Actually Enjoy Eating

This post could also be called “How to Yummify Your Salad” because I don’t know about you, but the common advice of eating STRAIGHT-UP SPINACH LEAVES with freshly squeezed lemon as “dressing” makes me want to skip eating altogether and go hungry instead.

And yet, many fitness pros and magazines tout this, because “you should watch out for hidden calories IN SALADS.”

But … don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

I’ll take some veggies with my protein. Kthxbye.

Ok, it’s true. You *can* overeat anything I guess and yes, there are going to be hidden cals in almost any processed foods (i.e. dressings). But my main problem with this argument is that Americans are hardly eating vegetables as it is and isn’t a salad–even if it’s a Caesar salad–still better than nothing? I call Caesar salad “the gateway veggie” because often people who don’t like vegetables will still eat it. So what if there’s a creamy dressing on top? The alternative is forgoing the salad altogether because it’s not “ideal” and probably eventually eating something even worse later.

This is the same argument I have with people who tout only plain steamed veggies. Really? The people who enjoy plain steamed veggies likely have been eating lots of veggies for a long time and have grown to like that taste. But rarely people love it right out of the gate. They may need to start with a little butter or sprinkle of cheese. So what? The alternative is skipping the veggies and going for worse starches and sweets later.

So, bottom line, are veggies all by themselves healthy and fat loss friendly? You bet. They’re “ideal.” But very few people can eat them like that sustainably. If you can, then good for you. But the average person will need something more substantial to satiate them and keep them satisfied for longer.

If you’ve been following JillFit on Facebook or Instagram, you know I love love loooooove a good #BAS (Big-Ass-Salad). Yes, it must be #hashtagged.

I love enormous salads because when you do them up right, they can not only be healthy, but also legitimately satiating and a great way to down lots of veggies in a single sitting. They can actually make you feel FULL! Amazing, I know, right?!

With a few quick rules, and a few gimmes, you can make a delicious #BAS that will, well, make you want to actually eat it! Here are some of my tips for ya:

1) Start with a ton of greens (at the bare minimum romaine, but add in mixed greens, spinach, arugula, etc) and chop that shit up.

I’ve written many times about how much I love the OXO Salad Chopper because it increases the palatability of the salad (I actually add all ingredients in, then chop). Rather than having to STUFF LEAVES into your mouth, the chopped-ness of the salad makes it so that you can even eat it with a spoon. Sooo nice. Plus, you can also fit waaaaaay more greens in effortlessly.

2) Add as many and as much fibrous veggies as you want.

Don’t limit things like broccoli, cucumber, onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, chopped tomato, celery, etc. Pile as many fibrous veggies as you want on that thing.

3) Add 1-2 servings of protein.

I hate to cook so I opt for convenience options here, like pre-sliced grilled chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken meat pulled from the bone. Or some quickie sautéed ground turkey, lean beef or bison. Or a can of water-packed tuna or salmon. Add enough lean protein to make you feel full. I usually do the equivalent of two small chicken breasts (8-10 oz total). No counting, just eye-balling. I don’t stress about “too much protein” or cals from the protein because I know that if I eat to feel satiated then I won’t need anything else later. I always have at least one #BAS every day.

4) Add 1-2 dietary fats.

When I eat salads, I normally opt for dietary fats INSTEAD OF STARCHES. Why? Because they help me to feel more satisfied and fuller for longer (the taste, plus they slow digestion). Choose 1-2 of the following to add on top: 1/2 avocado, sprinkle of parmesan (remember the harder cheeses will be better fat-loss wise, stay away from the fetas and blue cheeses in general), few strips of bacon or Bacon Bites, pepperoni, hard-boiled eggs or nuts (non-candied).

5) Skip sweet additions and use portion control for other starches.

Skip altogether the suuuuuper-sugary additions like dried fruit/cranberries, raisins, candied nuts, granola, etc. Sorry, but that’s pretty much a hard and fast rule–too much sugar for too little a portion (basically candy). And if you want to add starches like regular fruit or tabbouleh, quinoa, rice, beans, corn, succotash, chick peas, etc then a) cut back on the fatty toppings (remember, choose starch OR fat, not both) and b) watch portions. I usually do about 5 big bites worth of a single starch (appx 1/2 cup black beans for example).

6) Often the best salads have a texture we enjoy, so add a lil’ crunch to your salad.

Best ways to add crunch: cabbage, sprinkle of slivered almonds or other nuts, or a sprinkle of seeds, even a small amount of bacon bits. Skip: croutons (no one needs hard, stale bread), dried fruit and granola-ish items. The chopped nature of the salad helps here too.

7) As for dressings, choose a vinaigrette variety as often as possible.

The vinegar helps blunt the insulin response of the meal and the oil will slow digestion. I also like oil-based dressings because a little goes a long way and you can (actually) get away with the recommended 2 TB. Other options are lighter dressings like Italian or Greek. Mustard-based dressings are usually fine too. Skip the heavy stuff–bleu cheese, creamy Italian, ranch or thousand island. However, if you find you can’t do anything but a creamy dressing, fine, but have it on the side to dip, instead of drenching the whole salad right off the bat. Usually we don’t need as much as we think.

Chopped #BAS–Get in my belly!

Finally, here’s the moment I tell you how lazy I am, and how much I really don’t like cooking or prepping food. I usually–gasp!–get take-out salads or even do the Salad Bar at Whole Foods 5-7 times each week! :)

Now you might be asking, “Jill, how can you know that there’s not a bunch of crap in take-out salads?” Well, the good news is that a) salads are the one food where you can actually see every single item because it’s made up of all whole food parts, so you can remove anything you don’t want, and b) I don’t stress about a little marinade or salt on the meat–it’s a small concession to feel more satiated and satisfied. Which is always my goal. Because I know that the more satisfied I am with my everyday eats, the less likely I will need to binge later. Simple.

As for dressings, I always opt for a vinaigrette (vinegar has been shown to reduce the insulin effects of a meal) variety and since it’s take-out I can even use the brand I like that I keep in my fridge at home.

So that’s it! Go forth and yummify those salads! There’s no excuse for not eating a huge #BAS every single day now and getting your requisite 5-8 servings of fruits and veggies. And if anyone asks you why you’re eating a salad as large as your head, just tell them I said it’s ok ;)  #justsaynotolemonjuice

Related: A JillFit Fav – My Shell-less Taco Salad Recipe

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/10/16/yummy-salads/

‘Situational Eating’ and How It Keeps You Struggling

Last week I blogged the differences between people who live a lean lifestyle and people who continue to struggle. Much of this comes down to … you guessed it … mindset. People who are able to get and stay lean have adopted the mindset of a lean person–doing things lean people do without a struggle.

So, how do you get to that place? If you feel out of control with food, how do you achieve the effortlessness associated with a lean mindset?

It’s not easy.

But, it starts, I believe, with mindfulness. Now I know that may sound woo-woo to you. “Mindfulness” seems like a strange new-age term with little practical application. And to that point, mindfulness does have many definitions and uses. Buuuuuut, for our purposes, I want to begin with mindfulness around your environments.

Last week, Jade and I went through the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru so I could grab a coffee for our leisure walk. Jade had already drank his at home. As we pulled up to the speaker, I turned and asked Jade if he wanted anything. He said, “No, only unsuccessful people get donuts because they happen to be at a drive-thru.”

This was a light bulb moment for me. How true is that??

People who continue to struggle allow their circumstances and environment to dictate how they’ll eat.

Regarding environments, there exists a major difference between how lean people respond and how people who continue to struggle do. And that is this: people who struggle allow their circumstances and environment to dictate how they’ll eat. At the movies? “Well, Ihave to get popcorn!” At the office? “It’ll be rude to not eat this cake for Susie’s birthday!” At the state fair? “I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to have fried dough again, I have to get it!” And on and on.

It’s not that these things, every once in a while are “bad,” it’s just that you can’t go around all day every day reacting to your environment this way and expect to get lean.

Conversely, people who stay lean make the best choice possible wherever they end up. And they rarely feel like they’re “missing out.”

Conversely, lean people eat how they eat regardless of where they end up. Going out to dinner … doesn’t matter if they end up at McDonalds or a five-star restaurant, they know they’re getting lean protein and veggies or a salad with protein. A catered event? Instead of using the event as an excuse or “special occasion,” they do what they do, picking at mostly protein-centric apps and veggies if they can. The fact that there are rolls and butter, starchy apps and drinks doesn’t phase them because they are in the HABIT of eating how they eat.

Does this seem impossible to you???

It did to me a few years ago, too. I rolled my eyes at people who touted “moderation” and I didn’t understand people who didn’t finish everything on their plate or polish off a bag of chips if it was in front of them. I didn’t understand how someone could resist EATING IT ALL UNTIL IT WAS GONE.

I get it. I totally do.

And I’m not asking you to go from A to Z right now. That’s impossible. The idea that we can go from obsessed-with-food to moderation is absurd. I like to think about this journey like climbing a ladder. You can’t reach the top without stepping your foot on every single rung in between. That’s how adopting a lean lifestyle works.

But it begins with mindfulness. And mindfulness specifically around YOUR SITUATIONS. If you think you are a “situational eater” like I described above, just start with saying “no” one time each day. Start with that candy jar at work or skipping booze at Happy Hour. Just say no once a day until it starts getting easier (and it will, I promise). And be mindful of your environment. Ask, Am I allowing the situation to dictate my eating? Or am I eating how I eat (as a lean person)? You know what to do; you’re just caught up in the struggle to actually do it. That’s common. But, that’s also where mindfulness comes in.

I know you might be thinking, “Well, this just takes the fun right out of food, Jill!” Ha! I get that too :) Food is fun, right?! Besides, we likegetting popcorn at the movies. We like having cake at the office party. We like relaxing with a glass of wine at dinner.

But you know what’s even more fun? Having control over what goes in your mouth and being able to say no when opportunities to indulge arise. Staying lean with less effort. Not being obsessed with food anymore. That’s a frigging blast! And it just takes you STARTING the process. Beginning to think, act and be a lean person. Ask, Am I just eating this because it’s here? Would I consciously go out and get this if left to my own devices? The answer is usually going to be that you’re eating it because of your situation, not because you actually want it.

So, start right now. Your homework: Say NO once today and stay mindful about your environments and ask yourself the tough questions. You’ll get there one meal at a time, one day at a time, I promise. Ox, Jill

My 10-Week Mindset Makeover course goes through many concepts like this, way more in-depth and begins October 14, 2013. All the details are here. I’d love to work with you :)

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/10/12/situational-eating/

7 Things that Dieters Do that Lean People Don’t

People who diet incessantly are rarely all that lean.

Seems counterintuitive, right? Like, shouldn’t they be in the best shape of all? I mean, they are always “on a new diet” so why do they have the hardest time losing fat?

And on the other hand, the leanest people are the ones who do the same stuff, day after day, year after year, rarely needing a “new meal plan” or a “jump start.” They barely offer a second glance to New Years Resolutions because their only promise to themselves is to keep doing what they do. They don’t need complete “lifestyle overhauls” and never make drastic changes to their eating.

Simply put, the leanest people are the most consistent.

You may have heard that if you want to be something, you have to start acting as if you are already that. The same mentality applies to getting and staying lean. If you want to lose body fat and live a lean LIFESTYLE, don’t wait until you are lean to do that, start right now.

What I’ve noticed is that there are several things that people who chronically diet do differently than people who simply stay lean and fit year round. These supposed “healthy behaviors” are actually the exact reasons that they are not achieving the results they desire.

So, instead of looking for the next diet or the newest program, start right now acting like a lean person. Start to slowly implement actions and behaviors that lean people do without thought. No drastic measures, no big overhauls, just consistency and patience.

Things that chronic dieters do that lean people do differently:

1) Chronic dieters have a deadline by which they need to achieve a certain goal.

When you’re thinking about the way you eat and exercise and have the thought that at some point you will be able to stop eating and exercising that way, it’s a signal you are on a diet. Lean people adopt and implement a lifestyle way of eating and exercising that they could do forever. There’s no deadline by which they need to achieve X goal because they see healthy living as their operating system. Something they can and will do forever.

2) Chronic dieters see eating only in black-and-white.

I was having a conversation with my mom yesterday and was explaining that once I stopped seeing anything as “off limits,” feelings of I NEED TO EAT ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW simply fell away. I adopted a more moderate approach to eating and all of sudden, I was free to taste anything I wanted. And implicit in that freedom came the ironic outcome that I didn’t actually want all the things I thought I did. Seems strange, right? But the leanest people don’t have to make hard & fast rules around food because they are already eating in a way that they enjoy. They are already not feeling deprived or stressed. They don’t need to be perfect with their eating because they don’t have huge binges that would make them need to double down and get strict.

3) Chronic dieters have a “lack” mindset (as opposed to an “abundance” mindset) around food.

This is similar to above. You’ve probably heard of the concept of an “abundance” mindset vs. a “lack” mindset–maybe in business or finances–I find the same is true with food. If I have a lack mindset, then I think things like, “Ooooo, I’ll never have an opportunity to have this treat again! I have to get it!” or “I’m at the fair, I have to get fried dough!” or “Going out to eat at restaurants is a special occasion so I need to order something yummy that I wouldn’t normally have!” or “I don’t know when I might get the opportunity to eat this again, so I’d better have it now,” or even simply thoughts of “Will there be enough?” or “Better get more just in case,” etc. It’s a genuine anxiety around food that I had for many years. Once I realized that I can have anything I want, anytime I want, the need for all those things simply diminished.

I know you are probably rolling your eyes right now, like “Jill, great, that works for you, but it would never work for me!” and that’s fine. I get that. I was in that place for a really long time. Ask Jade, he still teases me about hoarding food and being genuinely scared there wasn’t going to be enough and where are my treats and what if I never have the opportunity to eat this ever again??? :) I get it, I do. And it took many years and a lot of self-TRUST to try things a new way. To give up the idea that I needed to be perfect with eating. To simply let my best be good enough. And not get scared about gaining a pound or two if it meant I was able to be less anxious about food. Am I in contest shape? No way. But I’m also much smaller than I was in some of my off-seasons when I competed. And I hardly think about food anymore.

The leanest people just eat. They eat what they eat. It’s automatic. But realize it takes time, patience and a level of TRUST. Ironically, the leanest people are the ones who relinquish control the easiest. They relinquish the need to control every single scenario and circumstance. They TRUST that they will be able to make the best decision wherever they end up, and they let that be good enough. But it starts with a choice to trust the process.

4) Chronic dieters think it’s all about “the plan.”

I hate to tell you this, but the actual food you eat and the exercise you do is the LEAST important part of this process. Sure, you need to make the right choices more often, but the ability to actually MAKE those choices consistently starts with your MINDSET. Not the meal plan. Not the workout routine. It’s about YOU. YOUR MINDSET. Your mindset informs your choices and your choices–one by one, over time–become your HABITS. And habits, by definition, are automatic. Which is why the leanest people eat and exercise like lean people with very little effort. It’s just “what they do.”

So ask yourself, where is my head at? Am I still looking for that Magic Meal Plan? Am I still looking for the answer in the newest supplement or Dr. Oz’ latest cleanse? Am I still going from coach to coach trying to find the one who  finally–finally!–has the perfect program for me? Or, are you looking inward? Are you asking, what foods seem to work for me, and which ones don’t?

5) Chronic dieters need it to happen all at once or they’re on to the next ‘diet’.

THIS is the precise reason people who incessantly diet are not lean. Because engaging in the crash dieting cycle, month after month, year after year actually makes your metabolism LESS responsive. Whether it’s full-blown metabolic damage or simply slight weight loss resistance, the losing and gaining of dozens of pounds year after year is doing more harm than good. Dieting actually makes you fatter. Every time you lose lots of weight quickly, you are losing fat, yes, but also losing muscle. And then when you regain it quickly (as is the case with crash diets), you gain back only fat. Thus, now you have less muscle and even more fat than you started with (even if your weight is the same). Can you see how engaging in this process dozens of times is making things worse?

This also has to do with expectations and patience. If you expect to get a certain result within a certain time frame, then you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Fat loss is not linear nor predictable. And any coach or expert who guarantees a specific result in a certain time frame is an irresponsible coach. Fat loss works in fits and starts. It’s up, it’s down, it’s backwards, it’s forward, until finally you begin moving in the right direction over time. There are zero guarantees and the leanest people buckle in for the long haul. The leanest people surf the waves. They weather the ups and downs and TRUST the process. They give up their expectations and simply do their best.

6) Chronic dieters haven’t spent time developing the MINDSET necessary to be successful long term.

Ask any lean person if it’s a struggle to avoid the McDonald’s drive-thru regularly and they’ll probably look at you sideways and say “no” without hesitation. Why? Because their subconscious, automatic mindset of “I’m a lean person, I do things lean people do” is so ingrained that certain habits have been built to the point of effortlessness. Your mindset determines your actions (to binge or not, for example). And your actions determine your outcomes (to get and stay lean or not). And your mindset drives your habits, and habits, by nature, are easy.

Chronic dieters on the other hand may have the mindset that, “I need to lose 20 lbs and I’ll do anything necessary to get there,” or “As soon as this ‘diet’ is over I can finally relax.” Much of this is subconscious by the way. And it’s not a judgment, it’s simply what is. And I know because I crash dieted, losing and gaining the same 20 lbs half a dozen times between the years 2006 and 2010. I’ve been there, and it sucked. But I realize now that what I was doing back then was always “needing” to have a show or shoot on the docket to spur me to get “in shape.” And then I relished those times I had nothing on the calendar, because Game On! It was not only unhealthy physically but it took me years to unravel my mindset struggle to the point that 2012 was the first year I stayed the same weight all year. Success!

7) Chronic dieters think the answer to their fat loss is ‘out there’ and often hold coaches, experts, books and programs accountable for their lack of results.

One humungous difference between chronic dieters and people who are successful long-term is taking responsibility (or not) for your results. Sure, experts and coaches can guide us, but ultimately, we need to be ready to put forth the effort to not only do what we need to do, but more importantly, struggle through to figure out what works for us. No coach, program, diet book or expert can possibly know your body better than you. Yet, we are always quick to shove the onus on them. If we don’t get results, we blame the program. People who are successful long-term taking 100% responsibility for not only their results, but their actions and their mindset.

You can complain and blame OR you can take action and be successful. Not both. Like Jade says, “There’s no room for blame in change,” so stop using experts and diets as a crutch. Own your process and open up a new world of possibilities that you’re in charge of. You never have to rely on someone else, ever. How empowering!

If you’re ready to finally stop collecting rules and guidelines and instead start actually implementing what you know for the long term? My 4 Week Fat Loss Jump Start begins January 6th and takes you through the process of finding your own unique fat loss formula, something you can do forever and finally quit the crash dieting cycle. Because implementation has to do with mindset & sustainability. Practice makes progress! Looking forward to working with you! :) Ox, Jill 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/10/07/dieters-versus-lean/

13 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

I was inspired to write this post by my friends Marc and Angel over at their most awesomely awesome blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. Highly recco. Check their version here.

Over the last few years, I’ve coached hundreds of women in the areas of mind, body or business and there’s often a common theme – the “shoulds.” You know what I’m talking about … “I should be better at this.” “I should be farther along.” “I should be able to stay on this frigging diet.” “I should be doing more, being more successful, staying leaner, getting more business, doing more, being more, having more, blah, blah, blah….”

I understand the “shoulds.” I do. And of course I’ve had my fair share of self-doubt and thoughts of inadequacy. But honestly, at some point, don’t you have to just get over yourself???

I mean really, can’t we, as grown women, decide at some point that we’re good enough? That we’re doing the best we can? And then stop doing things that either don’t serve us or make us miserable?

I’m ready. You in? :)

13 Things to Stop Doing:

1) Stop expecting perfection with your eating.

Who are you, a pro figure competitor on stage whose goal is to win money with your physique? No. If you’re like me, you’re someone who eats well most of the time but also realizes that choking down dry chicken breasts and steamed asparagus is no way to live. In fact, it’s miserable. So instead, could we work to find that balance between complete deprivation and eating to our heart’s desire? Adopt a more moderate approach and be okay with not having to eat like we’re competing for World’s Leannest Physique? Instead, throw ourselves a bone, stay mindful and celebrate the fact that we’re human and that perfection is an illusion anyway. Maybe we could consider giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt and realize that expecting perfection with our eating may actually make us less compliant?

2) Stop comparing yourself to others.

It’s human nature to do this. Besides, we live in a relative world where we are always “more” or “less” than something or someone else. But how does it serve us to go around comparing our bodies or our successes to others? If we’re doing “better” than some random person we deem comparable, we make it mean we’re good. If we’re not at the level of some other arbitrary person, we make it mean we suck. Could you take a step back and realize that your life is exactly that? Yours. No one else’s, and your journey is 100% unique to you? Using relativity to boost or lessen your self-worth is a dangerous place to be because it’s a game we can never win. There will always be someone more lean/fit/successful/smart/ripped/thin/muscular, etc than us. And us searching out those people with the sole intention of making us feel bad about ourselves is a waste of time and energy. Instead, own your unique bad-assness right now and relax into the awesomeness that is YOU.

3) Stop saying ‘yes’ to everyone and everything.

As women, this is often our natural default. We say yes to things we don’t want to do for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or out of obligation. We feel like if we put up boundaries that we are being bitchy or unkind, when, if you think about it, isn’t saying ‘yes’ to someone when you really want to say ‘no’ unkind to the other person?? I know for me, when I agree to things I don’t want to do, I end up resentful and bitter. And then, in that sense, not only am I now miserable but it’s doing a disservice to the person I said yes to, also. Practice those honest ‘no’s, as Byron Katie says. And if a friend is upset that you are doing what’s best for you, might you ask how good a friend they really are? :)

4) Stop allowing other people to tell you your truth.

Most people are, on some level, naturally impressionable and naturally insecure. And often we don’t know ourselves quite well enough to not let the observations and judgments of others get to us. I remember a year ago, a woman commented on one of my blogs how “judgmental and condescending” I was. I was hurt by it. Those are two things I actually try really hard not to be, because I’m aware that in the realm of self-help, it’s easy to appear preachy. So I tried to justify myself: “Well, if you’ve read all the blogs, you’d see that I’ve messed up plenty, and share all my struggle right here!” Even though I was rationalizing and sputtering, a small tendril of doubt worked its way into my brain–”Am I judgmental? Wow, maybe I am condescending!” And so now I’m caught up believing something that I really don’t think is true about me. Why? Because I allowed someone else–who I didn’t know, nor did she know me–to influence my truth. And it sucked :) This is not to say, don’t take coaching or constructive criticism. But think about your truth before blindly believing that of someone else, who doesn’t know you nearly as well as you know yourself. Consider the source. Ask the tough questions and come to your own conclusions.

5) Stop feeling guilty for taking down-time.

You guys know I am a huge fan of taking R&R time. I’m a million times more productive because of it, but in our culture, we associate taking down-time as laziness. And maybe it is, but I’ll be the “laziest” person on earth if it means I can be hyper-focused other times. Because I’ve lived the working-70-hours-a-week-always-busy-never-productive life. And that sucked. I was spinning my wheels and running around like a chicken with my head cut off. It took me 5 years to change my schedule and lifestyle enough to have actual down-time, but more than that, it took a mental shift. I had to mentally view down-time as actually being productive instead of lazy. I learned to manage my energy instead of my time. And because of it, I learned to achieve way more in much less time. But it started with a risk. If you haven’t read ‘The Power of Full Engagement’ by Tony Scwartz and Jim Leohr, I highly recommend it.

6) Stop assuming you know what’s best for other people.

This is a toughie. We experience success with doing things a certain way and all of a sudden, we can’t understand why other people don’t want to do it our way, too. I get that. In fact, I pretty much do it with this blog :-D Buuuuut, it’s important to let other people honor their own process. Let them mess up. Let them struggle their way through it, even if it’s painful for them or tough for you to watch. Why? Because they need the time and space to work their way through it themselves, don’t they? Don’t they deserve the opportunity to figure it out themselves? Just like you did? Why rob them of that process? Like I said, tough. But only fair.

7) Stop trying to win the World’s Busiest Person award.

For whatever reason, in our society, we use how much crap we have on our plate to justify our self-worth. Busier means more important, right? And it’s also a great way to be a martyr. I did this for years–always humbling bragging that I had no time to do anything, that no one could possibly understand how busy I was, or the number of obligations I was juggling. I was playing the victim role, and using my busy schedule to justify my self-worth. But, don’t you have at least some choice over your schedule? If you really want to find time, can’t you? So ask yourself, am I using how busy I am to feel good about myself? Could I start to be less busy (and likely happier), and still feel worthy?

8) Stop hiding your quirks.

“Your stuff” is what makes you YOU. Your quirks or your struggles are what make you unique and also allow for other people to connect with you. Being perfect is boring (and also unattainable!), and who can connect with someone who has no shit to work through? The email I receive the most from readers is, “thank you for being so honest and transparent.” There’s connection and relatedness there. And part of getting through your challenges is owning up to them and putting them on display (gasp!). And I would argue that we do people a disservice when we try to keep up the pretense that we always get everything right on the first try and everything’s effortless. So stop trying to hide the very things that make you YOU, and own your unique traits. They’re awesome!

9) Stop taking everything personally.

One of my favorite mindset reads is ‘The Four Agreements’ and one of the four is “Don’t take anything personally.” This is so, so, soooooo hard! I’ve talked about this concept at length with my spiritual coach, and his contention is that we take things personally and make stuff mean that we are somehow no good because we need it to reinforce our insecurities. If Jade mentions how we have no clean drinking glasses, I can choose (or not) to make it mean that I’m a sucky, messy wife who doesn’t clean. We can choose to make anything mean whatever we want. We can slant any comment to where we feel like it’s our fault. And those kinds of assumptions don’t serve us. In the drinking glasses example, Jade’s comment about there being no clean dishes is literally just that–a fact that there are no clean dishes. I choose to take it as a personal affront (or not) to mean I’m a slob. So ask yourself, could you start just taking people at their word, without having to make everything about you? I mean really, it’s kind of egotistical to make everything about us, isn’t it? And yet when we twist any statement into how we are not good enough, we are being pretty darn self-centered, aren’t we?? Giving other people (and ourselves!) the benefit of the doubt is so much easier :)

10) Stop trying to convince other people to get on your team.

This can be particularly hard when starting out on a new healthy lifestyle journey. Friends and family may not get it. And that’s actually fine, because it’s not for them to understand, and you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. People will either get it or not, and you running around trying to rally the reluctant only makes you miserable. Own your choices and if people see you doing for you, it’s more likely to inspire camaraderie down the road. But YOU have to own it and be confident in your own choices first.

11) Stop being surprised by what other people do.

People will always do what they do, and having expectations for how other people “should” act only makes us miserable. We like to think everyone would do what we would in certain circumstances. But then they don’t because … wait for it … they’ll always do what they do! And isn’t that the beauty of the world–people get to make their own decisions, have their own opinions and take responsibility for their own choices. And we don’t have to understand it. It’s just them. And the less expectations we have for how others should be, the kinder life gets.

12) Stop clinging to negative self-talk as a way to “spur” yourself to action.

It doesn’t work. As much as we wish it did, we hold onto our guilt and remorse thinking that we need it to be motivated to eat better or go to the gym. Negative reinforcement might work for a few days, but ultimately, the more you beat yourself up, the more beat down you get. How UN-motivating! I’ve written on this several times, including here and here.

13) Stop the incessant self-judgment.

Ever encounter those people who preface everything with an apology or something like, “I know this is going to sound stupid, but…” That is incessant self-judgment. It’s examining what you say or what you think and then labeling it as “good” or “bad.” Resist the urge to look around for clues of how poorly you’re doing. Don’t use this post as yet one more example of why you suck :) In other words, don’t look at this list and go, Gee, I do all of those things!! I have so far to go!! I really suck!! Resist the urge to judge yourself or where you are right now or how far you still have to go. You’re human. This is normal stuff. We all have challenges and things we want to change, but those changes take time. Honor your process and resist the knee-jerk default reaction of tallying up all the ways you are not good enough to prove, once again, how far you have to go. THE FACT THAT YOU ARE EVEN READING THIS FAR DOWN ON THIS LONG-ASS POST MEANS THAT YOU WANT TO GET BETTER! See? You’re already on your way. Let that be a win!

Good luck! Never forget how awesome you already are, how much potential you have and how, yes, you can afford to show yourself kindness while you work on self-improvement. You’re awesome! Ox, Jill

 

Ready to go to work on yourself for good and figure out your be-happy-stay-lean process? Consider joining the ME Lifestyler’s Club. It’s the only place I coach clients online for fat loss!

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/09/24/things-to-stop-doing/

“I’m eating pretzels, it’s time to go.”

I spent last weekend at the Time Millionaires event in Asheville, NC presenting on internet business for health and fitness pros. Just like last year, it was a weekend full of insights, education and camaraderie.

I was also lucky enough to hang with some of my fav fitness pros: Danny-J from Sweaty Betties and lifestyle fitness expert Liz DiAlto were also speaking there. Rebecca Borucki (BexLife) was there too, and it was a blast connecting with other female entrepreneurs in this space.

Friday night, the group of us girls went to dinner at a pubby-type place where they give you a big glass of pretzels instead of a bread basket. I ordered a glass of Malbec, as is my usual, along with a salad, also my usual. I practice moderation and resisting the pretzels is not hard at all.

Until…

We finished eating, ordered no dessert and sat without any food or drinks in front of us and chatted for a long while. Eventually, my hand moved to the pretzels. I took a couple. Chatted some more. A few more minutes went by. I grabbed another couple. No more drinks… No more salad… I start picking at the pretzels, chatting, laughing.

After a few minutes, I start to feel this undercurrent of anxiety. And I know why. It’s because I honestly can’t remember the last time I ate pretzels, I don’t really even care for them, and here I am eating close to a dozen little pretzels. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things at all, but so outside my usual M.O. that I’m stressed.

So I say out loud, “Ok, I’m eating pretzels, time to go.” Liz bursts out laughing. And I laugh too, because, what? who says that? :) But seriously. I need to go. And I know why. I don’t eat mindlessly. Ever. I’m practiced at this, right? I don’t like letting my circumstances dictate my behaviors. I need to get back in control of what I put in my mouth. Byyyyyyeeeee.

I also realize this is a huge opportunity for me to learn about myself and also, as always, a lesson I’d like to share with you. So, here.

Two things about this scenario:

1) I did not implement my usual 2-pronged approach to avoiding after-dinner munchies.

My usual defense is to:

a) place a napkin over any leftover food on my plate so that the server will know it’s ready to be taken, and also–out of sight, out of mind. I always eat to 70-80% fullness so I normally *do* have room left in my stomach for more food, so I try to remove any temptation as soon as I decide I’m done eating. And…

b) I always slip a piece of sugar-free gum in my mouth after I finish eating and it helps get me through temptations that may linger on the table and gives me time to feel the sensations of fullness and get home and get to bed.

These may seem like weirdo things to do. Call me “obsessed” or a control freak, but I know that the alternative–sitting at the table hungry and trying to exclusively use willpower to keep myself from eating more–only gets me so far. I have learned to find shortcuts and tactics that help me in these situations. So, on the contrary, I don’t find it obsessive. I find it smart and strategic because I know that willpower is exhaustible and without strategies in place, I’ll cave and eat more than I want to. And these tactics work 99% of the time. I normally leave a restaurant feeling satisfied, satiated and not stuffed into my pants. This is what I call a “moderate approach” in practice :)

2) Staying conscious and becoming aware of what I was doing (eating mindlessly) allowed me to pull myself back from a potential binge. And this is a complete 180 from what I might have done 5 years ago.

When I was deep into the deprive-then-binge cycle, I would have seen eating a couple handfuls of pretzels as the tip of the iceberg–the sign that I was now “off plan” and should commence pig-out, because “If I can’t be perfect, I might as well go all the way!”, right??

This is the mindset of a crash dieter. Someone who only sees an all-or-nothing approach. In the old days, I would have polished off the pretzels, ordered a dessert, ate that and then munched on other stuff ’til bedtime and then probably would have woken up the next morning waaaaaaay less motivated to eat clean and I would’ve said, “What the hell” and continued to eat to my heart’s desire throughout the weekend. That is a black-and-white approach. It’s the “I’ll start on Monday” approach.

And so, I let this be a huge win! I gave myself the benefit of the doubt, and I owe those pretzels because they signified my ability to implement self-compassion. I’m not talking about guilt around eating a few pretzels. That’s fine, I didn’t even give them a second thought once we left. Instead, I’m talking about the fact that in that moment, I was able to see what was going on, stay MINDFUL and then consciously make the choice to not go down the binging-rabbithole. Big win!

Self-compassion is about acknowledging how far you’ve come. Realizing that even when things are not “ideal” that you did a lot better than you may have in the past. It’s about learning, growing and looking forward. It’s about deciding that regardless of your mess-ups, you can always choose to show yourself kindness.

And aren’t we always more motivated to stay the course when we feel empowered? It’s in the moments of helplessness, like mindless eating or mindless binging, when we feel like we have nowhere to go, no outs. Mindfulness is a practice, and the more you do it, the easier it gets until before you know it, eating a few pretzels will be the biggest indulgence you’ll experience :)

So ask yourself, what practices do you have now that may not be perfect, but are a big jump from where you may have been in the past? And then give yourself the win. Acknowledge your awesomeness and then move forward. Ox, Jill

 

Ready to stop following the “all-or-nothing” crash dieting approach and learn how to manage your eating so that you can get lean and–more importantly–sustain it?? Join the ME Lifestylers Club, the only place I coach clients for fat loss :) #LeanLifestyle

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/09/19/pretzels/

Does Practicing Self-Acceptance Mean You Will Just Eat Everything??

We’ve talked a lot about the concept of self-compassion at JillFit. In other words, giving yourself the win. Not only can this be difficult to do because we are simply used to being hard on ourselves, but it can also feel like giving up. Self-acceptance can be scary.

We often hold onto our negative self-talk because we feel like it fuels us. It keeps us accountable. We believe we need it to stay motivated.

We experience this all the time in our personal and professional lives–we hold onto the notion that our dissatisfaction drives us. And while there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with striving, there’s a huge between holding ourselves accountable versus being miserable until we reach some arbitrary accomplishment at some point in the future.

In fact, positive psychology research shows that more than anything, people who are always striving for the next accomplishment without counting their wins along the way are more relieved than anything when they hit a goal, so the desired emotions–happiness, contentment–are not even present. Booo.

When it comes to our physique, this is often the concern: “If I am not hard on myself, I will just say screw it, give up and eat everything I want.” This seems a legitimate fear considering we are used to using negative motivators to keep ourselves  on the straight and narrow; even like JillFit Coach Jillian says, “Needing the threat of a competition to stay tight.” But I don’t believe it’s really true, because I have seen myself, the other JillFit coaches and dozens of clients do just that–self-accept and stay the same size, NOT get huge.

Why?

Because when we feel compelled to eat everything we want, the focus is still on food. It’s still an obsession with food (as is deprivation)–food is still controlling US. However, when practice, learn and master self-acceptance, the importance and obsession of food falls away. We simply don’t think about it as much.

On Self-Trust

But Jill, HOW do you do that? What steps do you take?

Here’s the first step:

Decide to TRUST THE PROCESS and commit to the idea of taking things one day at a time. And then just see what happens! You can’t know how you are doing if you are trying to control every single scenario and moment of the day regarding your food. I did this for many years. The biggest change for me was just going, “You know what, I am just going to stop obsessing and trust, and SEE WHAT HAPPENS.” The OLD way will always be there for you to go back to if you need it (portioning out food, not going to social events, tupperware, etc), so why not TRY to relax and release??

This might not be the answer for everyone, but for me in my journey, the biggest change was discontinuing extensive food prep every weekend. I know some people feel like they need this, and that’s fine, but my goal (2 years ago when I started this journey) was to stop being obsessive about food. I found that if I continued with my entire week revolving around and stressing about food shopping, prepping, cooking, tupperware, doing the dishes, etc, I was, in those moments completely consumed with food. I was thinking about often, when’s my next meal, do I have what I need, has it been 3 hours yet, etc. When my focus was always on making sure there was enough healthy food around, I was inadvertently obsessing over it. So if I indulged, I went big. When I deprived, I couldn’t mess up or else it meant I was a failure, and I was in a constant cycle of all-or-nothing.

Releasing the need to prep and cook food (since I actually don’t like it anyway) was the first step. Once I did that, food became less important. I was able to get a better hold on my cravings, understanding them better, I was able to feel hunger myself (rather than eating according to a clock), and not stress that I was losing muscle every second if I waited a bit longer to eat. I was able to start practicing moderation, knowing that food, especially desserts, booze and bread, would always be there so I learned to abstain more effortlessly. It didn’t take 100% of my willpower to skip these things anymore. This is a practice of course, but the first step in the practice is taking a leap of faith.

So, the first step in releasing your obsession on food so that you will not gorge yourself when you are “off plan” is to simply stop stressing over it. Try it. See what happens. The old way will always be there for you. Give it 4-8 weeks. Stop measuring, just workout because it makes you feel good, not because you have to. Do whatever you can. Do your best. I don’t think the results will be nearly as catastrophic as you think. In fact, I think you will feel a lot more liberated.

Does giving yourself the win mean giving up?

Giving yourself the win is not the same as non-action. In fact, the more you do of the former, the less you’ll have of the latter. Self-compassion breeds action. Self-compassion opens up all the mental space that was formally taken up with negative self-talk and allows us to practice making better choices moving forward. The focus is forward, not on beating ourselves up for past mess-ups.

At Metabolic Effect, we say, “You are always one meal away from being back in fat-burning mode” and a personal favorite of mine: Yesterday ended last night.

Move on as fast as possible. Move on at the very next meal. Don’t wait until Monday. Don’t even wait until tomorrow. You always have a do-over in your back pocket and nothing is ever irreversible. But you have to start somewhere. And that somewhere is inside your mind. Harnessing the SELF-TRUST necessary to try a new way, a more gentle way.

Negative motivators simply don’t work long term. So give yourself a pat on the back for how far you’ve come and then promise your future self to give her the benefit of the doubt. And as always, simply do your best because that’s all you can do! :)

Love this post on self-compassion from Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson.

Related: Get your mind right and your physique will follow

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/09/05/practice-self-acceptance/

How Cheating More Will Help You Cheat Less

What the?

You’re probably confused as hell by the title of this blog, but yes, you read that right–using strategic cheats will actually help you to cheat less.

Last night on the crash dieting webinar I hosted, one woman asked, “How can you stop yourself when the taste of sugar ‘sets you off’ so that you can’t stop eating it?” This came up when I talked about preemptive cheats, and the idea that using small, lesser cheats to take the edge off cravings and feelings of deprivation can help us not binge later. My answer might seem counterintuitive, but the answer is this:

If you are allowing yourself to get to the point of needing/wanting to binge on huge amounts of sugar, you are trying to eat too strictly and not building enough relief into your weekly plan.

Remember, feelings of deprivation are directly related to eventual overindulgence.

Something to think about: if you’re only answer to ‘how do I stop?’ is to just harness more willpower and white-knuckle your way through it, you’re being extremely short-sighted.

Coaches who say, “just be compliant” are unoriginal and lazy.

For 95% of people, “just comply” doesn’t work because willpower is exhaustible, and habits are powerful. Whenever we let our willpower guard down–say, at the end of a long work day–we are left with our habits because they are automatic and use zero energy. It’s not a coincidence that most people cite their worst eating happening late at night. We are mentally exhausted by then, so of course we’re going to default to our habits–glass of wine, ice cream in front of the TV, munching on anything and everything from 6pm to bedtime, etc.

And to top it off, when we inevitably *can’t* comply, we are often left feeling defeated, guilty and shameful, right? Mentally, this yo-yo cycle does a number on us. We go, “I can’t believe I can’t do this! Everyone else can, how come I have such a hard time? I’m weak and have no willpower!”  Negative feelings have never motivated anyone long term and yet on some level, we think the more we beat ourselves up, the more motivated we will be to stay the course. Studies actually show the opposite–self-compassion helps us stay the course. And if “comply or die” the only tool you have in your tool box to get results, then you might as well throw the towel in now. Because habits are infinitely more powerful.

Fat loss is ultimately about habit change. And habit change starts with a mindset change.

So, something to consider if your mindset is currently: I need to follow this meal plan perfectly, or everything will be ruined!! Screw it all! Aka, the black-and-white dieting mindset. Instead of expecting perfection with your eating, could you expect and anticipate that you will NOT be perfect and instead, preempt your cravings and hunger with things that help take the edge off? Because sorry, the idea that you will never eat sugar again is absurd. So why not find a way to circumvent the huge binges by using small gimmes before you get to that point?

So to answer the question from last night–if you find yourself digging into sweets and treats and “not being able to stop yourself” consider the answer is not that you are weak and you just need to be stronger. Consider that you might not be giving yourself enough built-in relief in your weekly plan.

This is a hard mindset to take on, right? Because we want to eat perfectly. And we often feel like if we’re not, we aren’t going to get results. And yet nothing could be further from the truth. Because this:

Expecting “perfect” eating always leads to binging = No results
Imperfect eating (eating 90% clean all the time) leads to less binging over time = Results

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Because “good” gets results too :)

So yes, cheating with less-than-ideal foods more often will prevent you from cheating with the really bad crap later. Anticipate your cravings, know your trigger times, practice mindfulness. Throw yourself a bone and find a lifestyle eating and exercise plan that you can do forever.

Want to start taking control of you own fat loss process to create your very own sustainable fat loss lifestyle? Registration for my 4 Week Jump Start program is now open, and begins September 1, 2013. Learn how to take a standard fat loss nutrition plan and mold it into what YOU need FOR YOU to lose fat and keep it off over the long haul. No crash diets, no calories counting, only you and your journey :)  Looking forward to coaching you! Details here.

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/08/28/cheating/

Why Maintaining Your Weight is a Success

Between the years of 2006 and 2010, I lost and gained the same 20 lbs roughly a dozen times, as a figure competitor and fitness model. I had distinct “on season” and “off season,” times where I vacillated between strict deprivation and then a food-free-for-all, respectively.

When I quit competing and then over the next year, grew to the point of misery over food obsession, food prep and tons of cardio, I had an “aha” moment. It was after 6 months of strict dieting for a series of shoots, and I was finally done. I was depleted, mentally and physically exhausted and had a single thought:

I can’t do this anymore. There will never be another show to “lean out” for, and I refuse to ever diet like crazy for shoots again, so I need to find a way to eat and exercise that I can do forever without blowing up.

Basically. And as terrifying as that was at first, it was also a relief. I could finally take my time and figure this maintenance thing once and for all.

And in 2011 I started giving myself the benefit of the doubt and gave myself permission to not have to be perfect with eating. Instead, I allowed myself small less-than-ideal foods that helped satisfy me without having to go over the top with treats and cheats. Things like protein bars, shakes, bacon, a sprinkle of cheese or dollop of guacamole, homemade nut breads, sugar-free frozen yogurt, etc. Are these things “ideal?” Would I eat them on a competition diet? No. But, if the alternative is expecting perfection with my eating to only inevitably overindulge later, so what. I’ll choose less-than-ideal every time over the deprive-then-binge cycle.

This was a huge mental shift for me. There would be no time at which I would ever be able to eat freely again, if I wanted to not blow up. I wouldn’t have a show in a few months to prep for. No physique goals in sight. These things scared me because I didn’t know how to walk the moderation line. I didn’t understand balance. But I had to start somewhere, so I did and I just started practicing, with zero expectations or idea what I was doing. I wasn’t eating 100% clean, but I also wasn’t eating everything I wanted either. And over time, it became easier and easier to resist the balls-out cheat meals. To my surprise, I didn’t need them like I used to because I didn’t feel all that deprived, ever. And over time, my obsession with food became less and less to the point that now I hardly think about it because a moderate approach is now habit. And habits, by definition are effortless. But they also require some work up front :)

If you are like I was between the years 2006 and 2010, you are probably saying, “Yeah, yeah, that’s great Jill, that  you found something that works for you. But I could never do that.” Ha, ha! That’s honestly exactly where I was then too, so I get it. I do. It feels like an insurmountable climb to the top of the moderation mountain.

And if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t really like the concept of “moderation,” right? It’s for grandmothers and those who “can’t hack it.” I get that too–used to be my mentality.

And though moderation is not sexy or hardcore, I’ll take 90% clean 365 days a year over clean Monday thru Thursday and then eat-everything-in-sight Friday to Sunday EVERY TIME. Because that’s what we’re talking about–the alternative is crash dieting. The alternative is “all or nothing” … which we know, always ends up being NOTHING.

So in this way, can you see that maintaining your weight fairly effortlessly using a more moderate approach can be a success?

Especially in a society where you almost have to try to not gain weight as much as you have to strive to lose. It’s that easy to get caught up in the deprive-and-binge dieting culture.

You don’t need to losing weight round the clock to be a success. How about doing enjoyable, sustainable exercise and practicing moderation to the point that cheats, treats and sweets barely register on your radar?

Because this has to do with exercise too, doesn’t it? Hours at the gym daily is unsustainable. Ain’t nobody got time for hours of cardio and long-ass weight workouts. Sorry, but if you’re using exercise to maintain your weight, then you’re already in an unsustainable place.

I posted this on Facebook last night, and it resonated with you guys. Exercise is not a weight management tool. It can add to the equation, but relying on exercise in order to “burn off” your cheats and sweets is eventually not going to work anymore–either because you can’t sustain it or because your metabolism no likey over time. Nutrition is what matters most:

Ok, so time for some honesty. I’ve maintained my weight and “look” for the last 2 years, doing everything I write about in this blog every week. I don’t obsess about exercise, I do sustainable training that is intense, with a weight-training focus. I refuse to spend hours at the gym. Because my exercise is less, my hunger and cravings are also less. Yes, that’s correct. And I know you are rolling your eyes right now–”Well, Jill, must be nice for you, but you don’t understand how hungry I get! I need to exercise or else I will blow up!” I get that too–I believed the same thing … until I finally, finally took a chance and pulled back on my hours of cardio slowly and found that yes, my appetite did indeed decrease also. A miracle!

So, in the spirit of maintenance, here are my progress pics, July 2012 to August 2103:

July 2012 to August 2013

It is “competition lean?” No. But I’ll take this any day over the alternative, which is vacillating between being bloated as hell and then being obsessed with food and cardio, depriving myself at every turn. No thanks.

So, as you can see, there’s a lot of self-trust that needs to happen in the fat loss process. You need to take a risk ON YOURSELF. You have to believe that you can figure it out. You have to wrap your head around giving yourself the TIME and SPACE to struggle through it. And come out on the other side with a greater understanding of you and what works (and what doesn’t) for YOU.

Besides, the old way will always be there. Cardio will always be there for you. Crash diets will always be there if you need them (you won’t). So why not take a chance and try a new way?? One in which you are in the driver’s seat. Where you take 100% ownership over your process. Where you get up close and personal with your own metabolism, personal preferences and stop trying to white-knuckle your way through some random coach’s “meal plan.” No, no, no. Noooooooooo. :)

You are in charge. Own that, and you will eventually achieve mastery when it comes to your results.

Want to start taking control of you own fat loss process to create your very own sustainable fat loss lifestyle? Registration for my 4 Week Jump Start program is now open, and begins September 1, 2013. Learn how to take a standard fat loss nutrition plan and mold it into what YOU need FOR YOU to lose fat and keep it off over the long haul. No crash diets, no calories counting, only you and your journey :)  Looking forward to coaching you! Details here.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/08/22/maintenance/

11 Ways to Feel Less Deprived On Your Healthy Diet

The degree to which we feel deprived is directly related the the extent we will eventually overindulge.

It’s relatively easy to harness willpower for a short period of time, like an weight loss challenge at work, or a competition diet, or Lent, or long enough to white-knuckle our way through the latest 12-week diet book. But eventually, if there is an end in sight–a point at which we will eventually stop eating that way–we are on a “diet” and not a lifestyle plan.

You have to pick your nutrition battles. A piece of sugar-free gum won’t kill you :)

You might be asking, what’s wrong with a diet? It feels good to lose weight fast.

I get you. I understand completely. Dieting makes you feel “in control” and like you have a plan. And we frigging love plans, don’t we? We look for the Magic Meal Plan or get excited about following a special diet that someone we know lost 30 lbs on, seeming with no effort. In fact, research has shown that we get MOST excited about a new diet plan BEFORE we start! Ha! Are you surprised? :) But the problem with losing weight fast, is that it comes back ON even faster.

Often, the PROMISE of results is much more exciting than the day-to-day grind to achieve those results. So it’s no wonder that we are constantly looking for a shortcut, a way to get results quicker and with less effort. But the bottom line is that if we are following a “diet,” then it is, by definition, short-term. And short-term weight loss leads to long-term fat GAIN. Besides, the faster weight comes off, the faster it comes back on. And yo-yo dieting makes us FATTER in the long run.

We know this intuitively, don’t we? But we don’t like it. For whatever reason, slow results are unacceptable. Steady, sustainable results over YEARS just won’t do. And yet, it’s the only way to lose and keep it off. The more extreme the measures, the less sustainable the results.

On the other hand, by definition, if something is a lifestyle, it’s something we can do forever with little effort. Whoa, wouldn’t that be a great place to be?? And yes, it is doable, and the way I gage it with my clients is based on the extent to which they feel deprived.

Bottom line: if you feel deprived, you are on a diet. The more deprived you feel, the bigger the eventually rebound will be. Soooo, it would follow that in order to adopt a healthy nutrition plan long term, you’ll need to find ways to decrease feelings of deprivation.

Below is a great list of ways to feel less deprived in your nutrition. Start by incorporating one technique and then watch and monitor your cravings and hunger for the week to see if it helps. If not, discard and try the next tactic. Let me know how you do!

1. Use preemptive cheats.

If you’ve been reading JillFit for a while, you know that this is my go-to strategy to keep cravings at bay. Preemptive cheats are foods that don’t put weight on us, but also don’t necessarily help with fat loss. And eaten in small amounts at trigger times throughout the week, they help take the edge off enough so that we never get to the point of ravenous hunger or out-of-control cravings. They increase our satisfaction. See my top 5 preemptive cheat foods here.

2. Choose dietary fat OR carbs.

Realize that a diet high in both fat and carbs will most likely put weight on you. But both can be satiating, and the one on which you choose to rely for that satiation depends on your own unique metabolism, personal preferences and sensitivities. You’ll want to get enough to satisfy, but not too much that you’re storing fat. As a general rule, for people who are more stress/cortisol-driven (“skinny fat” or high anxiety), do more carbs. If you’re move food/insulin-driven, try a lower carb diet and rely on healthy fats to satisfy. Key is to choose one OR the other, not both.

NOTE on macronutrients: Protein is the most satiating, so build your daily meal with that as your first priority. I recommend getting 1g lean protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Then add veggies, then add starch OR fats. Monitor your hunger and cravings and adjust up or down as necessary.

3. Pick your nutrition battles.

About six months ago, I posted a new pack of Extra Desserts gum I got on the JillFit Facebook page. Many gals commented “Yum!” while a few others were outraged that I would back something so unnatural and with so many chemicals in it. One women even went so far as to CUT AND PASTE THE INGREDIENTS LIST straight from the Extra website to point out just how bad the food was. And I couldn’t argue–chemicals are chemicals and artificial sweeteners are certainly not ideal.

Buuuuuuut, here’s the thing. You have to pick and choose your nutrition battles and if having a couple pieces of Mint Chocolate Chip SF gum gets me through a tough craving and allows me to be in a better mental space to make a healthy decision later in the day, then sorry, I’m gonna use that tool. Is it ideal? No. But for some people, I would argue that a couple of pieces of “chemicals” is better than not having it and then face-planting into a bag of Oreos later, because for many people, that is the choice we are making: Eat something not-so-ideal now in order to keep from eating the really bad crap later. No comparison. If you’re someone will iron willpower and can go without and still make good choices later, then more power to you. Most people won’t be able to do that, though. And often it comes down to choosing the lesser of two evils. Does Splenda cause Alzheimer’s? The jury is still out, but we know for a fact that OD’ing on sugar leads to obesity and Diabetes.

So it’s your call. But I think that if you try to go the all-or-nothing route, it’ll end up being nothing. Every time.

4. Focus on the big rocks.

At Metabolic Effect, we consider some things “big rocks” and others small rocks, based on the size of impact they have on your physique. Choosing protein & veggies over starchy meals is a big rock (e.g. salads instead of sandwiches for lunch). Weight-training focus in the gym is a big rock. Finding ways to de-stress is a big rock. Getting consistent sleep is a big rock. Know what’s not a big rock? Sodium. A couple TB of salad dressing or a marinade on a piece of meat. Zero-calorie sweeteners like xylitol, stevia or even sucralose. A couple pieces of sugar-free gum (remember your nutrition battles). Don’t waste time and energy stressing over the small rocks. There’s plenty of the big rocks to keep your mental energy busy :) And compromising on a small rock will help you stay more adherent to the big ones!

5. Realize that food will always be there, and you don’t need to EAT IT ALL RIGHT NOW.

I’ve totally been here–you made cookies for the kids or someone leaves a dessert at your house and you decide to “just finish it all up tonight so then it’s gone and out of the way.” I know you know what I’m talking about! Yes, you! Lol. One thing I like to remember is that dessert will always be there, so I don’t need to eat it all right now. If I decide that I want something, I can always go out and get it later.

A classic example is someone’s birthday cake at a corporate birthday. How disgusting are those grocery-store sheet cakes? And yet people eat them by default. Employ the tiniest bit of mindfulness in that moment, and you’ll probably come to the conclusion that you don’t actually want to “waste” your cheat on that and you’ll end up abstaining, not regretting it in the least. I mean, if you’re gonna cheat, have exactly what you want for crying out loud! :) Don’t just eat anything. Sheet cakes will always be there, you don’t have to have it all right now. Dessert will always be there. If it doesn’t taste absolutely incredible, skip it and get what you really want later. Having this insight and remembering it when you’re faced with temptation can help you surf the craving waves effectively.

6. Strategically place “built-in relief” in your weekly nutrition menu.

Instead of balls-out cheat meals which can sometimes, in my opinion, do more harm than good–both psychologically and physiologically–build in strategic “relief” into your week. Have a plan to eat something that takes the edge off, but doesn’t require you wear stretch pants to consume it. Examples: a huge white potato Wednesday and Saturday nights with a steak and veggies (I call this a “clean carb up.”) or 1/2 a dark chocolate bar on Wed/Sat or a blended slushie made from 2 cups of frozen cherries. Throw yourself a reprieve ahead of time so you know you only have to go a day or two before you get to take a breather.

7. Dine out.

One of my personal favs–even when I get lean protein and veggies or a big-ass salad (BAS) out at a restaurant, it always tastes better. Say what you want about salt, marinades, butter, etc, but if the alternative is eating dry chicken and broccoli at home, I’ll take the former. Besides, the latter will almost guarantee you’ll feel deprived. Remember here–pick your nutrition battles and don’t stress about the small rocks. Eat a BAS at a restaurant and stop stressing about a couple pieces of bacon or sprinkle of cheese. The alternative is eating something that makes you miserable at home, only to kill a plate of brownies later out of dissatisfaction.

8. Use unsweetened cocoa.

In addition to being a guilt-free way to OD on chocolate, the Metabolic Effect cocoa drink helps take the edge off cravings, quells hunger and also boosts serotonin and dopamine–neurochemicals that help with focus, memory, motivation, ability to relax and happiness. among others. Make this anti-oxidant heavy drink 1-3x/day when needed: 1-2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder (aka baking cocoa) mixed with hot water and stevia to sweeten. Enjoy!

9. Trust the process.

Slow progress is still progress. And realize that for people who have lost fat and have kept it off as a lifestyle, it’s literally taken them YEARS to get to that point. You have to put in your time, practicing and grinding it out. Like Jade says, “Easy is earned.” If someone you know eats moderately and makes it look effortless, chances are they have been practicing moderation for a while. Patience is indeed a virtue, and in the fat loss game, it’s critical.

10. Check in with hunger and cravings daily, and if they’re elevated, throw yourself a bone instead of white knuckling it.

At Metabolic Effect, we ask, “What the HEC?” Meaning, what are your hunger, energy and cravings (HEC) like? Are they balanced or not? If they aren’t, then you still have some work to do. Remember, if you are starving all the time, you won’t make it anyway. If thoughts of chocolate and wine are taking over your life, what you’re doing is unsustainable. So, in those moments, throw yourself a life line. Have a couple pieces of chocolate, not because you want to binge, but because without it, you WILL eventually binge your ass off–guaranteed. So preempt your binge by taking the moderate route for a moment. Starvation will always be there, take a chance and try a new way :)

11. Choose alcohol OR starch when indulging, but not both.

One of my clients recently went on vacation to Spain for 10 days and I gave her this advice before she left, to which she responded in her charming southern accent, “Oh honey, you know which one I’m gonna choose!” Needless to say, she loves her wine (who doesn’t?) :) One great way that I use to NOT blow up when I indulge is to choose starch OR alcohol, but not both. So if doing booze, skip the bread and dessert. If doing sweets, no wine for you.

 

Want to see how I eat all the time? Follow on Instagram! :)

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/08/11/feel-less-deprived/

Recipe: Easy Paleo Banana Bread (Gluten & Dairy-Free)

This is one of my fav go-to recipes, especially for travel as a convenience food. And prep time is less than 10 minutes (could not be any easier!). I usually bake a whole loaf and eat a slice as a meal because it contains healthy fats, and equal amounts of carbs and protein–a great meal replacement. This recipe is dairy-free and grain-free, LOVE IT. Enjoy! Ox, Jill

Ingredients:

Large bowl (dry ingredients):

  • 4 cups almond flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Small bowl (wet ingredients):

  • 3 ripe bananas (the riper, the sweeter the bread will be), mashed
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated stevia
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven 325 degrees F
  • Spray 9.25 x 6.25 loaf pan with zero-cal non-stick spray
  • Combine dry ingredients together in large bowl and set aside
  • Combine wet ingredients in small bowl and beat for 30-60s minute on medium (until thoroughly mixed)
  • Slow add wet ingredients to dry mixture, combining as you go until through (mixture should be wet, but not pourable)
  • Move mixture into loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes
  • Remove from pan immediately and let cool on rack for at least 10 minutes before eating
  • Makes 12 1-slice servings

Nutrition per serving:
285 calories
21g fat (2g sat)
13g carb (5g fiber)
11g protein

A negative 3 using the Metabolic Effect Label Rule! 

Related: All JillFit Recipes here!

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/08/08/recipe-paleo-banana-bread/

Do Obese People “Have No Shame?”

This is a sensitive topic that most people already have an opinion on–are obese people just lazy gluttons? Or is there more going on with people who struggle with their weight AND as a community, might it serve us better to practice empathy and understanding instead of judgment and disgust?

I am in the latter camp.

I recently went on a min-rant on Twitter regarding the new study that came out showing that people who are discriminated against because of their weight are 2.5 times more likely to become obese. Frankly, I find belittling others and discrimination against those who struggle with their weight absolutely abhorrent.

Now, if you are reader of JillFit, you know that I am all about personal responsibility and not being a victim, so I don’t ever believe that the answer is to give up and allow yourself to become a victim of circumstance. HOWEVER, I do believe that using ANY kind of negative motivation, fear tactics or cruel/distasteful rhetoric to try to “motivate” overweight people to get thinner is 100% useless and basically makes you an asshole. #sorrynotsorry

This reminded me of something mentioned to me a while back–at which I time I also went off–when someone said to me, ”People are overweight and obese because there is no shame in it anymore.”

Is this true?

a) Do obese people have no shame?
b) Does shame “prevent” obesity?
c) Even if it did, do we really *want* people to feel shame?

Uh, I’ll argue ‘no’ to all of the above.

And here’s why:

First off, to qualify–the answer to why someone is overweight or obese will always be multi-multi-faceted so to distill it down to lack of shame is incomplete and short-sighted. Besides, overweight people have a very different metabolism than those who are healthy.

So, with this being a very complex question, here is my semi-complex answer (and don’t miss the Tweetables at the bottom):

Most people who are overweight/obese are probably more shameful than anyone can imagine.

Sure, there are some people who have simply decided to be happy at any size. And good for them. I wouldn’t wish unhappiness on anyone. But for the majority of people dealing with weight issues, I think that for the normal-weight among us, we can’t fully comprehend the amount of stress, shame, guilt and discomfort that can cause.

The follow-up question here is usually, “If they feel that way, why don’t they do something about it?” I go into this further below, but the bottom line is that many *are* trying, but when you have a lot of weight to lose, it can get discouraging very quickly, and some simply don’t have the tools/education they need. I blogged on this here.

The current mainstream perception of the weight loss process does not help either. The “dieting culture” romanticizes “rapid weight loss” and the consistent stream of “unbelievable” before & afters in magazines does anything but encourage a patient, slow, steady fat loss journey over YEARS, which is what it actually takes.

Perception is skewed to the point that most people think fast weight loss is the norm and we have zero patience for anything else.

And as a professional in this industry, I can attest that we–the professionals–have largely created this rapid weight loss culture in order to sell more weight loss products and make more money.

Ugh. 

This is an issue of priorities, and I say that without judgment. 

I have no kids, I live a fairly simple life where I get to create my own schedule, I have higher degrees in nutrition and exercise, and I have always valued fitness highly, from an early sports background. So, it would make sense that one of my top priorities would be to do whatever I needed to do to be thin, fit and healthy. However, I don’t prioritize other things like cleaning, cooking, staying in touch with family & friends like I want to (which I feel immense shame about), or even doing as much with my career as I’d like. My workouts are my priority. Every morning. And often it can be to the detriment of other things.

But who’s to say that a priority to be thin is any better than a priority to be a great mom, or a good friend or a successful businesswoman? So I don’t judge people’s priorities. But I *would* add that I believe being healthy and fit can help with these other priorities. I heard Dr. John Berardi from Precision Nutrition say once, “Everyone is motivated, they just may or may not be motivated to lose weight.” I agree 100%. Being overweight/obese doesn’t make someone automatically ‘less than’ or lazy or useless.

I don’t want people to feel shame in general.

Shame is a negative motivator. Like self-disgust, guilt, remorse, etc. And in general, negative motivators don’t last when it comes to long-term success. For example, shame might motivate us to workout every day for a week, but eventually it doesn’t feel good and we give up. Same with guilt over a big cheat meal. Might keep us from eating another one the next day, but in the end the feelings of self-disgust keep us imprisoned in a cycle of self-loathing and compensatory reactions. I don’t believe that self-disgust helps us make long-term change and it certainly doesn’t keep us “in line”–at least not long-term.

In fact, recent studies have shown that self-compassion (ability to give yourself the win) actually makes us MORE motivated to stick with it. I recommend Kelly McGonigal’s “The Willpower Instinct” if you are interested in it. Also love Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”–talks a lot about how feelings of shame and guilt can keep us trapped in INACTION. I have to agree.

My personal opinion is:

No one should feel bad about who they are.

That may sound naive or too “accomodating,” but when the alternative is to make people feel bad for who they are, and guilted into action (which doesn’t even work), that’s simply not an option. How does that help anyone? Personally, I can’t get on board with that.

So my bottom line… people need to take responsibility for their own lives. Their own actions, their own thoughts, their own choices. BUT I don’t believe that going about it using negative motivators helps anyone. Watching the Biggest Loser and seeing all the screaming, puking and crying does not motivate anyone. If anything, it discourages people from trying because … who would want to endure that?

Making fat loss seem doable, attainable and POSSIBLE for anyone is key, no matter what. And I believe people are most motivated when they feel like someone believes in them and they feel a sense of possibility. Shame does not accomodate possibility.

I believe that the answer lies somewhere between personal responsibility and self-compassion. And the more you have of the latter, the easier it is to practice the former.

 

Related: We don’t do diets, we do you. Metabolic Effect’s ME Lifestylers Club

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/07/28/shame/

7 Reasons You Pretty Much Rock

Yes, you. YOU pretty much rock.

Why? Well, how about we start with, why not?

These two ideas sum up about 99% of this past weekend at the 1st annual Radiance Retreat in Asheville, NC. Jen Sinkler of Thrive with Jen Sinkler, Neghar Fonooni of Eat, Lift & Be Happy and myself co-hosted what turned out to be an amazing event with 40 incredibly talented and ambitious women in the middle of the NC mountains, where fitness, fat loss, mindset and a whole lot of fun rounded out an incredible weekend.

The weekend started out with half of the participants engaging in an Online Biz 101 for fitness pros on Friday, where many of the attendees had a passion for health and fitness but were stuck with where to go and how to make money. For many of them, they want to turn their love of fitness from a hobby to a sustainable career. The 3 of us had a blast chatting branding, marketing, sales, online products, building a fan base online and how to become a recognized expert in the field.

However, I was struck by how many of the participants expressed some kind of self-doubt about being the right person or “having the chops” to create an online business in fitness. We spent a lot of time delving into ways to get around not feeling worthy enough, the fear of failure, and even the fear of success. This is where the “why NOT you?” piece comes in.

“Why NOT you?”

Here are some of the highlights and insights:

  • Nobody is going to tell you you’re an expert so it’s time to stop waiting. Declaring you’re expertise is a simple choice. And once you simply assume your expertise, you can move forward. There’s not enough affirmation in the world that can ever make you feel 100% ready. Just gotta jump!
  • At some point, you have enough certifications. Stop trying to convince us of your knowledge. Do you have the knowledge and empathy to help people? Yes. Good, then welcome to the online fitness biz world. You are qualified enough. If you can make a difference, you can make a living. At some point, you have to stop thinking like a fitness professional and start thinking like a fitness entrepreneur.
  • Success in any endeavor takes a mindset shift, first and foremost. Many people are scared of failure, and still others are scared of success. Hone your mindset to be one of abundance, not scarcity. Understand the need to invest in yourself with actual money through coaching in order to get to the next level.

Someone with a business mindset is not scared of the big leagues. And they get comfortable with discomfort.

  • Be 100% authentic all the time. If you want to create a personality brand online, and you want your readers, followers and fans to know and trust you, you have to BE you. Besides, trying to be someone else does not last, and it also makes doing what needs to be done intensely miserable. Being you is effortless.
  • Taking ACTION is the most important aspect of building your online business. Produce. Do. Then do some more. And do regularly. Be consistent. Finish stuff. Press Publish. The most successful people are the ones who believe it’s ‘Ready, fire, aim, aim, aim….’ and they have the self-TRUST to know that they can handle any negative outcomes that occur. They stay flexible and adjust on the fly.
  • Be transparent with your struggles. All the ladies agreed that reading blogs and following those who pretend to have it all figured out, and claim, for example, that clean eating is the easiest thing on earth and they can’t fathom how people can struggle with it, is uninspiring, not motivating and plain old boring. The struggles are where the juicy stuff is! And if you can be honest with your own and cop to challenges (but also offer solutions), there’s an invaluable opportunity for relatedness. People need to feel like someone ‘gets’ them :)

The rest of the weekend was chock full of fitness–olympic lifting, yoga, metabolic conditions workouts, hiking–and plenty of chats on fat loss nutrition, mindset and introspection (the latter being JillFit faves).

The second take-away from the retreat can be summed up in two words:

You Rock!

On the last day, we asked the gals a few questions about their mindset and challenged them to go deep to ascertain their own level of self-love and how they felt about their own bodies. Neghar asked them to journal the ONE way they could remind themselves of their self-worth, regardless of their weight, size, shape, etc. “What can you do daily to love yourself?” she asked.

A few of the ladies shared their tools, and finally, Alyson Hell stood up and explained that she needed to “act out” her own reminder. We watched as she got into position, and explained that she and a friend went to see Iron Maiden a couple years back and had seats close to the front row. She and her friend were rocking out, like, SERIOUSLY rocking out. ROCKING THE HELL OUT. Hands in the air, heads banging and yelling their asses off all show long. Until finally, FINALLY, the guitar player of Iron Maiden made eye contact with them, pointed to them and yelled loudly, “YOU ROCK!!!” Holy shit!!! Alyson and her friend went crazy and couldn’t believe it! And of course, she rationed: if the lead guitarist for Iron Maiden thinks she rocks, well then, of course she does! How could she not?! It was the perfect affirmation to remind her of her power and as a daily reminder, she looks in the mirror and says, “Alyson, you rock.” Pretty frigging amazing, yes?

This moment pretty much summed up the underlying message of the retreat, and that is:

You are amazing right now. Not 10 lbs from now. Not when you get someone else’s approval. But right now. You’re it. You’re you. Who could be better? And by the way, you frigging rock.

And luckily for us, Alyson captured the infamous moment on video (go to 3:37 and watch the blond guitarist)!

This is the reason we called the event The Radiance Retreat. It’s not about your physique or how much money you make or how amazing your relationships are. It’s about YOU, owning your inner radiance.

Your light, your passion, your worth is inherent. It cannot be taken from you. No body, leanness, weight, size, shape defines you. YOU define you.

 

If you could not make it this past weekend, I hope you begin your own journey to uncovering your radiance. And hopefully you can make the next retreat in Santa Monica, CA in January 2014. We are only opening up the event to 30 women this time, and 10 spots have already been grabbed! I’d love to see you IRL! :) Ox, Jill

 

Permanent link to this article: http://jillfit.com/2013/07/26/you-rock/

Older posts «

» Newer posts