Do you set New Year’s resolutions or goals for the coming year? I’m working on setting goals this year in a different way than I ever have before. I’m pushing towards making this a year that I get closer to being the absolute best version of myself. I want to stretch my sense of possibility and think much bigger than what I think that I can achieve. The thing about goals is it’s not really about achieving the goal in the end. It’s more about who you become in the process of pursuing it. So it benefits you to choose a goal that stretches you. In this post I will share the tactics I’m following for this year’s goals. I have been listening to Brian Johnson of Optimize.me and Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School for guidance on goal setting.
I’m starting by evaluating what I want in 3 major areas of my life:
Where do I get my energy to be a high performer? My energy comes from my spiritual practice, nutrition that fuels me, and exercise.
How do I cultivate my relationships with my family to be an exemplary wife, daughter, mom and Gammy? I have to be intentional about deepening relationships with those I love.
How am I using my gifts and talents in service to others? How do I show up in the world? Can I create value for others?
The next step is to brainstorm all my possible goals in these 3 areas. I wrote these down on paper and just let my brain flow. I do this over the span of a few days because the more I activate my mind the more ideas I come up with. Then I chose the ONE goal that helps me to achieve all the other goals. This will be my focus for the coming year.
Next I am going to think bigger and move the target on that one goal to a level that I feel is impossible to achieve. I want to push myself out of my comfort zone and risk failure. That’s where the change happens. My plan is to fail early and fail often for the lessons that failure will provide for me.
We fear failure but in reality it is only in failing that we grow. If a baby was too afraid to fall he would never learn to walk. Each time he falls he fails in his attempt. But in getting up again his muscles become stronger and he becomes more practiced at walking. The falling and getting up again is actually what makes him stronger. Soon he is a master at walking and learns to run. As I’m writing this one of my favorite worship songs is running through my head.
So I am planning to set a big goal and then actively think about all the ways I will fail in trying to reach it. I’m not talking about failure where I just don’t do anything and say, “See, I failed.” I am talking about planning targets towards my goal that stretch me. I may fall down in reaching for them. But each time I pick myself up I will have learned something valuable and grown a bit stronger.
The rest of the song goes something like this:
Philippians 4:6-7 is often quoted and memorized.
"6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I grew up knowing these verses but never really understanding how to apply them in my life. How do you just, "be anxious for nothing?" I prayed. But most times the worry was just still there. Sometimes quietly running in the background of my mind. Sometimes loudly screaming incessantly in my ear. I would feel guilty for being anxious when I knew I should be giving the worry over to God. So then I was not only worrying about the original worry, but also worrying about my faith. I didn't feel the peace of God that was promised so I felt like I was always missing something.
What I didn't realize was that the key for me was found in the next verses. God had given me actionable steps to take to manage my thinking.
"8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
The bottom line is that I need a daily practice of thinking about the right things. I am responsible to invest my thought life on things that I know to be true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy, etc.
When I spend my time thinking about my anxieties and worries they are things that are potential future events. I am thinking about things that may or may not be true. God tells me to think about what I know to be true. Not on what my imagination has dreamed up as future possibilities.
I also need to look at what I am filling my mind with. IfI start my day watching or listening to the news my mind is filled with negativity. I now have a practice of starting my day with the Word of God. The Bible contains the tools and the wisdom I need to get through life. If I don't have the right tools in the tool box I can't access what I need when my mind is running amok.
What we spend time thinking about matters.
The keto flu is a phenomenon that stops many people from fully experiencing the benefits of a ketogenic diet. They start the diet and when they start feeling poorly they use it as proof that the diet doesn’t work for them. Unfortunately this means they quit right before the magic happens.
The first time I ate a ketogenic diet I experienced keto flu symptoms. I was fatigued, achy and felt like I had “brain fog.” It resolved over a couple of days and I took those days to take it easy on myself. I wish I would have known that there were some simple things I could have done to feel better.
The process known as keto flu happens when your body is transitioning from a primarily carbohydrate burning metabolism to a fat burning metabolism. You may feel irritable, have a headache and feel fatigued. Some people even feel some heart palpitations. The body is trying to achieve a level of homeostasis. Many of the symptoms are related to dehydration and electrolyte loss. This usually hits around day 2 to day 4 of the keto diet. Unfortunately this is also about the time that your carbohydrate cravings will be raging.
As you eat less carbs your insulin levels go down and your body gets rid of more water and with that water goes some of your electrolytes.
Once you get past the keto flu you will begin to experience the benefits of a ketogenic diet. You will have more mental clarity, energy and you will be a fat-burning machine.
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell was a thought-provoking book for me. It was my 11th personal development book this year. I picked it up because I have wanted to read something by Malcolm Gladwell for a while and the title of this one grabbed by attention. I know many of you have felt like an underdog or a misfit at one time or another. I certainly have. And we have all faced our own giants.
Most of us have heard about the story of David and Goliath. Many times the story is told as if David was the underdog and Goliath had all the advantages. Gladwell turns this story on its head when he describes the battle from a historical perspective. Slingers were a regular part of ancient armies. The slinger could launch a stone with accuracy at 30 meters per second. It was the equivalent of a .45 caliber handgun. The slingshot was superior technology to Goliath who was stationary and relied on close combat to defeat his enemies. The question Gladwell raises is if we have been looking at this story wrong, what else might we need to take another look at?
There are four main concepts of the book. Each concept has multiple stories to illustrate Gladwell's point. I will highlight some of them here but I recommend you get the book to get all the great information yourself.
In the book Gladwell tells the story of Vivek Randive and his 12 year old daughter's basketball team. The team was made up of girls with little to no basketball experience or skills. Matched against teams who had far more experience, the team was doomed to fail. Except that Vivek was from Mumbai and looked at the game with an outside view. He saw how traditionally the game was played in the U.S. One team would score and then run to the other side of the court to defend their basket. He saw that if his girls would practice what is known as a full court press they could use it to their advantage. Instead of running to their own side when the ball was thrown in by the other team they pressed hard to not let them advance down the court. Frequently there was so much pressure on the opposing player to pass the ball in the allotted time that they would either throw it away or run out of time and the ball would go back to Vivek's team. If they did make the pass they faced additional pressure to advance the ball across mid-court in time before a turnover. In this manner Vivek Randive took this team to the national championships.
Moral of the story: When you don't have an advantage it can lead to innovation of a new way of doing things. You either give up or you work harder than the other guy. You may not always win but you increase your chances.
The inverted U describes a curve in the shape of an upside-down U. On the left side is the concept that too little of a good thing does not bring the results you want. The middle of the upside-down U is the sweet spot. Just enough of the good thing brings maximum results. The right side of the curve shows that too much of the good thing once again decreases the likelihood of good results.
I know that's a bit confusing but stick with me here. One of Gladwell's examples was classroom size. Smaller classroom size does not produce better learning for students. There is a sweet spot where optimal learning occurs and students interact with each other and learn from each other. Too many students once again decrease learning.
Another example he gave was choosing colleges. The top rated schools are not your best choice if you want to increase your chances of a successful career. It would take me too long to explain it here but he covers it well in this Google interview video:
Moral of the story: There is a sweet spot when you are trying to increase your chances of success.
One of the stories that goes along with this theme is the story of the London bombings by the Germans in World War II. It was predicted that before the bombings that there would be widespread destruction and panic that would completely break the morale of the British. People lived in great fear of the coming attacks. When it finally began with 57 straight days of bombings an interesting thing happened. There were, of course, those who were killed and those who survived near misses and subsequently traumatized. But there were many people who survived what was known as a remote miss. This group of people, after days of NOT being killed, actually became more resilient and more resolved that they would survive. The predicted panic didn't happen and the people actually became stronger for having lived through it.
Moral of the story: A disadvantage can be an advantage when we stop being afraid of being afraid.
A large part of the book discusses how some difficulties in life can be desirable if you look at the outcomes that arise from managing them. One example is about a man with dyslexia who compensated by learning other skills that made him highly successful. Another story discusses a man who grew up in a rough home and faced many difficulties as a child. He had to learn many different skills in order to survive and navigate his challenges. These skills resulted in some significant advantages as an adult.
Moral of the story: We don't wish for difficulties but when they arise we can use them to our advantage.
"Reframe some of your biggest challenges as difficulties that gave you the resources and the perspective to actually do what you're capable of doing." Brian Johnson of Optimize.me
Getting started with intermittent fasting is one way to lose weight with some small, simple changes in the timing of your meals. Intermittent fasting is a great way to burn fat, lose weight and get healthier. And since there is no special equipment, no supplements, no books and no particular foods to buy, it’s also one of the easiest and least expensive ways to lose weight and get healthier. I combine intermittent fasting with a ketogenic lifestyle. The two eating styles pair well together and fasting becomes simple when you are fat adapted with keto. Read more about my experience with keto and intermittent fasting here.
All you need to get started with intermittent fasting is a clock and a tiny little bit of willpower. I promise it won’t be hard and it is something you can easily do. The beauty of intermittent fasting is that it is very flexible. You can do it anywhere, anytime for as long as you’d like.
And you’ll start to see benefits from fasting when you don’t eat for at least 12 hours. That may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t. Let’s say you eat a late dinner around 7 p.m. All you have to do is not snack after dinner. Then go to bed, sleep for seven to eight hours and get up at 6:30 a.m. By the time you had your black coffee and gotten a shower your 12 hours are up and you can eat breakfast.
When you’re ready to take it to the next step, try postponing breakfast by an hour or two. Or skip it altogether and head out for an early lunch around 11 instead. Do you see how easy and flexible this is? You can work in your fasting anywhere, anytime. Just don’t eat for a few hours before and after you go to sleep. I fast for 18 hours which means that I skip breakfast. Then I do all my eating in a 6-hour window. This is known as an 18:6 fast. There are other variations such as 20:4 and 23:1. You can tailor it to whatever works for you.
No matter how you fast, it is important to stay hydrated. This will help your body burn fat and keep your energy levels up. Water is always a good choice, as is mineral water which will also help replenish the salt and minerals your body is losing when you’re fasting. Herbal teas are nice when you want something warm to drink as is black coffee.
Give intermittent fasting a try and see if you can’t make it work for you. It’s one of the best things you can do for your overall health and well-being. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised how energized you’ll feel on fasting days once your body gets used to this.
Traditional diets didn’t work for me. They worked short term but I couldn’t sustain them long term. I had success with many different diet plans. But I had never done the thought work required for changing my relationship with food.
My most successful traditional diet was Jenny Craig. This is a program where you get a personal consultant to work with you and they provide the food. Each week you go in and get weighed and talk with your consultant about how the week went. You set personal goals for the next week and select your next week’s food. You leave with boxes, bags and cans of food and a menu plan for how to use them. From this program I learned about portion control and accountability. I stopped the program because I was having jaw surgery. After recovery I felt that I was close enough to my goal weight that I didn’t need to go back.
Unfortunately I had not learned the skills to transition to a good eating plan. I hadn’t changed my thinking about food. I hadn’t learned to deal with urges and cravings. I hadn’t learned about the many ways I was using food for so many more reasons than just fuel for my body. I had basically learned how to eat processed food and practice calorie restriction (which doesn’t work long term). I didn’t know enough about nutrition. What I was learning was the government’s dietary guidelines which virtually guaranteed my eventual failure.
Slowly my old habits crept back in and I gained weight.
Fast forward many years and many pounds…
Earlier this year I had far surpassed my heaviest weight ever. I had working on personal development for the last couple of years but had never quite been able to do the mental work it took to conquer my thinking about my weight. Little did I know that my thinking was the root of the whole problem.
Coming soon I have a 4-week program to share with you what I have been learning. My goal is to help you think differently about food and to equip you to come up with your own nutrition plan. If that sounds like something that is interesting to you sign up for the newsletter by filling out the subscription form at the bottom of the blog so you will be one of the first to know.
Keto coffee (also known as butter coffee, fatty coffee or Bulletproof coffee) is a delicious frothy coffee drink that can help decrease hunger, increase energy and improve mental clarity.You may wonder how one drink can do all that. A breakdown of the ingredients can help clarify things. I make mine with organic coffee (12 oz.), 1 T grass-fed butter, and 1 T of MCT oil. If you’re new to using MCT oil start with a smaller amount and increase over time.
Coffee is not only delicious but it also has some health benefits. Coffee provides antioxidants which help your body fight off cell damage. Studies have shown that coffee may provide protection against Type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia.Using organic coffee is preferred to conventionally grown coffee. Conventionally grown coffee is chemically treated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Choosing organic helps to ensure that your coffee does not contain these extra chemicals.
Butter makes this cup of coffee creamy, rich and delicious. But more importantly grass-fed butter is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, beta carotene and Vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also contains higher levels of CLA which is a fatty acid that helps your body store muscle instead of fat.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) which boost your metabolic rate and provide easy energy for your body and especially your brain. Using coconut oil is an inexpensive way to get MCTs but purchasing MCT oil is a much more powerful way to boost ketones. I use NOW brand MCT oil from my local health food store or sometimes Bulletproof Brain Octane. The Bulletproof brand is more expensive but also contains a more concentrated form of the good stuff. In addition to boosting your ketones for more fat burning and brain energy, MCT decreases the action of ghrelin which is the hormone that makes you feel hungry.
If you don’t like coffee or can’t drink it you don’t have to drink keto coffee as part of your ketogenic diet. You can get healthy fats from a variety of sources. You can even get the benefits of the grass-fed butter and MCT oil by using them in other ways. For example, you can cook with butter and use the coconut oil or MCT oil as part of your salad dressing.
Using decaf coffee is fine. I’ve even had people say that they enjoy the recipe with tea or chai tea instead of coffee.
Do want to eat healthier, but you’re super-busy? You may eat out several times a week because that’s what you have to do. That’s what works for you and your family (when it comes to time and convenience). But you probably realize it’s not working great when it comes to your health and fitness goals.
You want better health. You want to eat better and you don’t want the extra calories, fast food and junk food as much anymore. And you DO want to save time and money.I get it! I am here to help you.
I have a simple strategy that I’m more than happy to share with you. It will help you to plan and prepare healthy meals for the week. Now, you don’t need to completely abandon your regular meals out. You can use my strategy to help you eat out just one or two fewer times per week. It’s up to you. As with any lifestyle change, start gradually so you can build consistency. The key here is to make it easy, doable and rewarding enough to do again and again.
Let me walk you through my simple meal prep system, and how this can work for you.
I work 40+ hours per week and I prefer to do my meal planning on the weekend. I’ll flip through my recipes and choose a bunch to make that week. I have recipes I print and keep in a recipe book but most often I go to my Pinterest boards to find the recipes I’ve saved.I’ll even pick which days to have which meals if I’m feeling overly ambitious, but that’s not necessary if you’re new to this. I bookmark the pages and write my chosen recipes down in a notebook or even a sheet of paper to put on my fridge.
Then I create my grocery list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer and pantry, and list the recipe ingredients that I need to buy. I know the layout of my grocery store so I write down the ingredients in the order that they will be in the store. That makes shopping a breeze.
If you’re not sure you have enough of an ingredient already, consider buying a “backup” one just in case. I’ve had times where the tomato sauce I planned to use was a bit short of what I actually needed. Having to run out in the middle of meal prep can be very frustrating. I keep most of my staple ingredients on hand and I have a list for when I go to Costco.
Another thing to consider is doubling the recipe(s), so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. The extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day, so you just need to heat it up when you’re ready.
If you’re doubling a recipe, don’t forget to double the amount you buy from the grocery store.
Once you have your handy-dandy grocery list ready, hop on over to the store and pick up your essentials. If you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too. My favorite containers are Mr. Lid. I love these because the lids never get lost.
If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra dollars.
Since you’ve already chosen your recipes and have your groceries, let’s get started on prepping some of the ingredients.
I like to book off 1-2 hours one afternoon for this. Get your recipes ready, clear off your counter, and play some music (if you’re so inclined).
At this point, depending on time, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire recipe. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights. Or, you can go through and make a whole meal, and divide it up into portions and refrigerate or freeze. It’s really up to you, because the more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.
AWESOME MEAL PREP TIP
There is one meal that is easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy.
I cook up a bunch of hard boiled eggs on the weekend and I bake a tray of bacon. That way each morning I just need to grab two eggs and two pieces of bacon and I’m all set for breakfast. When I get tired of hard boiled eggs I make egg salad and eat them up that way. Another great way to have easy breakfast is to cook a frittata and divide it up in individual servings.
With a little planning, you’ll be able to eat healthier while you save money and eat real food.
This may take some getting used to, so if I can be of help, please reach out and let me know.
Are mornings pleasant for you or do you just try to survive them until your coffee kicks in? Do you hop out of bed when your alarm goes off or hit the snooze over and over? How you start your day can set the tone for your whole day. There’s a reason that there is a saying about getting up on the wrong side of the bed. I’m going to give you some tips for how to do a morning makeover to set your day up for success.
I’m a born night owl. Most of my life I went through my mornings in a fog. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I wasn’t amused at all by morning people. How dare they talk so loud and be so cheerful! I remember when I was a child my Grandpa (who got up before the sun) used to get just a few inches from my sleeping face and sing “Good Morning, Mary Sunshine” to me. His voice was beautiful, the song was sweet, he loved me, and yet I responded with a groan and pulled the pillow over my head. Late nights were my happy time. I would generally have to make myself go to bed because I never felt ready. Unfortunately I was not productive in those late hours. Time was wasted on TV, video games or social media.
A few years ago that all changed. I took on a challenge set up by author Jon Acuff to start working on something that mattered to me. As part of that challenge I began waking up at 5 a.m. so that I could work on my goals before the rest of the house was awake. It was a real stretch for a night owl but I found that I could get more done in my day and my whole day was better. I am now a dedicated morning person. This doesn’t mean I’m ready to have a deep conversation early in the morning but I don’t groan at everyone that looks at me either. I go to work with a sense of accomplishment and a lifted mood.
My perfect morning looks like this: I wake up after a good night’s sleep. A cup of delicious keto coffee to kick starts my fat burning for the day. I spend time studying my Bible and praying. Then I open my journal and review my goals for the day. I get a bit of exercise and meditation in. Next is reading for personal growth. If I don’t have time left to read I will listen to a podcast or video that helps me grow or motivates me. Listening to audio while getting ready for work or during my morning commute has been another game-changer for me.
I’d like to guide you through some steps to create your perfect morning routine.
What does your perfect morning look like? Take a few minutes to think about that and maybe even write it down. You can’t begin to design a great day if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. It’s not going to happen by chance. Write it down in as much detail as possible. Think about why you want to do these things. For me it is to have a sense of accomplishment, to focus my time on the right things, to start my day on a positive note, and to free up my evenings for time with family.
Everyone has different reasons why they may think they don’t have time in the morning. It may take setting your alarm just a little earlier or even breaking the habit of using the snooze button. The snooze button just puts you behind from the very start. It’s a habit that creates interrupted sleep and does not serve your purposes. Cut the snooze, get up a little early, and set yourself up for an amazing day. There are other ways to restructure your day to make mornings better. Depending on your goals there are steps you could take to put success in your way. In other words, set yourself up so that you can’t help but be successful. Here are a few ideas of what to do to build your morning makeover:
Pull out your description of a perfect morning that you wrote down in the earlier step. If you didn’t write it down I suggest you do it now. Put it where you will see it first thing in the morning. Your tendency will be to wake up and do what you usually do every other morning. For a while you may need a reminder that mornings are different now. As you practice your new routine you may find the need to tweak it a little to find what works for you. That’s OK. Tweak as needed.
Watch out that you don’t slip back into your old habits. It’s easy to do. If you slip up get right back on track the very next morning. Starting your day off right is worth it and sets you up for success for your whole day. Keep using those first few precious minutes of the day to establish some positive change in your life.
So how will you design your perfect morning? Post in the comments and let me cheer you on!
Every time I fly the flight attendant reminds me that if there is a loss of cabin pressure, make sure to put the oxygen mask on myself before putting a mask on my child. We tend to put others first and our instinct might be to put the mask on those that we love first. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will be unable to help others around us. Our good intentions won’t help anyone if we can’t function to help them.
Today I want to share with you an important self-care habit to ensure that you are operating at your highest level to give yourself the best chance to optimize your weight loss.
Sleep is vital. According to the Centers for Disease Control more than 35% of people are sleep deprived (1). It is recommended that you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that those that got only 5.5 hours of sleep lost less body fat than if they got more sleep (2). If you are not getting enough sleep you are sabotaging your efforts and decreasing the effectiveness of all the things you did right during the day.
Your weight is controlled by several different hormones in your body. Lack of sufficient sleep affects these hormones and can affect your weight.
Insulin is a fat storage hormone. Lack of sleep causes decreased insulin sensitivity leading to increased fat storage.
Ghrelin is increased which causes increased hunger signals and a decreased metabolism. That is certainly a bad combination!
Decreased leptin means your stomach feels empty leaving you longing for more.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that can be released when you are sleep deprived. This can lead to an increased desire for food.
Increase the likelihood of a good night’s sleep. Turn off screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Develop a bedtime routine. Stick to a schedule. Your body likes routines. Set a bedtime and stick to it as much as possible. Don’t set snooze alarms. Pushing snooze multiple times just means that your last bit of sleep is completely interrupted. Sleep until the alarm goes off and then 5,4,3,2,1…get up and be awesome!