The Way We Eat

Well, it’s been more than a month since those New Year’s resolutions.  How’s it been going?  If you’re like most people, not so well.  My own life has been hectic with our move from the big city to a rural community.  Bernadette and the kids are making a longer commute and I’m left alone most days to plan dinner and this new phase of my life. We are happy though.

One thing that I bet we have in common is figuring out an eating plan.  Notice I didn’t say “diet”?  The longer I’m in this game, the more I hate the word.  I prefer to talk about “a healthy way of eating.”  We’re not going to be successful until we substitute routines and healthy habits for quick, faddish fixes.

Part of this search for a healthy way of eating involves a desire for freedom.  Freedom to wear the clothes we want, freedom gained from more energy, freedom from high blood pressure, freedom from high blood glucose levels (leading to Type 2 diabetes),freedom from cravings, freedom to be sexually attractive, etc.

The health benefits of eating right combined with this annoying tug of vanity that I can’t seem to shake, have gotten me back to a regimen of fasting.  The video below is long but worth watching.  The punchline is that you don’t have to do any of the ridiculous fasts that involve epic deprivation.

Have you fasted before?  What kind?  Did it involve enemas or cabbage?  The method I use is closely related to the one described in the video.  It’s called “Eat Stop Eat.” I have used it off and on with success for body composition over the last few years.  As I get older, I think I am going to make it more of a staple in my routine because that aging well “thing” is tugging at me almost as much as my vanity.

BTW, if you are interested in fasting my way, go to Eat Stop Eat. That’s my affiliate link and I get a couple of dollars to buy myself some sexy yoga shorts.  If you buy through that link and want some help getting started, let me know and I’ll give you a free implementation session over the phone or Skype.  Summer will be here sooner than you know it!

Lose The Weight For Summer

2DU Kenya 77Those 12 extra pounds I told you about didn’t just appear one day. It took me several months to gain them. I’ve had to exercise restraint in pursuing their quick release. I say “release” because the term “weight loss” is problematic. When you “lose” something, the normal reaction is to look for it and get it back. We don’t want to do that with body fat, do we?

Ironically, part of my problem is that I have been under eating. I started tracking my calories and I am regularly under 2,000. My guess is that this has slowed my metabolism. So what I’m doing is increasing my caloric intake. I want to get it to about 2,500 calories daily. The extra calories will come from good fats like avocados. I’m also going to increase my protein.

I’ve been doing a version of something called “carb cycling”(see above photo-get it? carb cycling!). For breakfast, I have two cups of coffee with heavy cream or grass fed butter and coconut oil. My next meal is fat and protein. I save my carbohydrates for the evening and the kind of carbohydrates I eat are determined by whether I have worked out that day. Carb cycling makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. Most people should not eat carbs in the morning. You’re setting yourself up for cravings and energy swings if you do.

Let me know if you want more details on carb cycling. It’s one of the things I’m geeking out on – especially now that I I have yet another certification. This one is a Level I Precision Nutrition Coach certification.

We’re all n=1 experiments. For me, it’s frustrating and fun. It’s an exercise in awareness and hopefully evolution. How’s your experiment going?

P.S. On a personal, non-fitness note, it looks like I’ll be heading up an NGO that works with street children in Kenya. I’m excited and I’ll let you know more as I proceed.

P.P.S. – I ‘ll be taking on ten clients for online health coaching.  Send me an email ( if you’re interested.

Lose the last 10 pounds

Things that make you say.....OMGOr… “Honey, who shrunk my pants?” All of a sudden, my pants weren’t fitting so well.  I normally resist doing it for a number of reasons but I stepped on the scale. I was 12 lbs. heavier than the last time I had stepped on the scale a few months ago! I’ll admit it – i have my “fat clothes” too.  The good news and the bad news is that I have them in storage. I don’t do self-loathing too well but I went through my own brief version. I had kind of noticed the problem over the last few weeks and I had asked Bernadette if she thought I was gaining weight. What I hadn’t been paying attention to was that she hadn’t really given me an answer.  I cornered her at lunch and insisted on an answer. She looked away, held up the index finger and thumb on her left hand about two inches away from each other and mumbled, “I guess you’ve put on a tiny bit extra.” Ok.  Even more damning than the scale. It took me a few days but I gave myself a hug.  “The body is solidified mind.” The extra weight was not goingto be a source for harsh self judgment.  It was a call to awareness.  I reject the binary fat/not fat, pain/no pain. I needed to figure out what was happening (notice I didn’t say, “what was going wrong”?). My workouts haven’t changed much and I do a lot less walking since we moved upstate.  I was on my feet at the studio the majority of my waking hours.  I would walk a couple of miles to pick my son up from school.  We have a creamery here which has ice cream that is sourced from grass fed cows.  I used to never eat dessert but, hey, this stuff was grass fed!  I’ve been frustrated at the pace of a couple of work projects and that has effected my sleep.  I also haven’t made the same time available for meditation. The thing is, look and perform better than 95% of the people in my age group and better than the majority of those over 35.  I’m married, so who cares if there’s a few extra pounds? (just kidding, ’cause I’ve seen how Bernadette looks at some younger, fit guys). Is this vanity? Orthorexia? Maybe, but I’m also fascinated by body hacking.  I know that fulfilling my body potential is limited by how much I am living up to my psychological potential. The extra weight is a message.  I haven’t fully figured out what that message is but I’m going to walk the dog more, eat more slowly to gain something called “parasympathetic dominance,” cut down on the ice cream to 3x per week, the two glasses of wine down to one, and I ‘m going to undertake a carb-backloading strategy where I et most or all of my carbs at night (it’s a little more involved than that and I can discuss it in another newsletter or email if you like).  I also purchased something called  a “Five Minute Journal.”  I also bought one for Vidar and one for Bernadette.  Vidar rejected his and Bernadette rolled her eyes but took it anyway.  The gratitude thing has been HUGE for me in my life and I’ve gotten away from it. Let’s sees what happens.  If you see a sexy, Speedo-wearing, middle-aged man on the beach this summer, check twice before you start whistling. You’ll save us both a bit of embarrassment.

Want To Lose Weight? Surround The Dragon.

So you want to lose weight? You’ve probably never heard of “Surrounding The Dragon.”

On a beautiful late spring afternoon, fifteen years ago, two young women graduated from the same college. They were a lot alike, these two women.

In addition to having been better than average students, both were athletic, personable, and filled with vivid dreams of the wonderful things that lay ahead.

Recently, these two women returned to their college for their 15th reunion.

They were still very much alike.

Both were married and ridiculously busy. Both had continued their exercise habits. One had children and the other was planning on having them.

But there was a difference. One of the women had the body that she had left college with – she looked like she could walk onto a soccer field right now and star. She also had the energy to match. She was on a career path that had her excited and eager to wake up for work every day.

The other was 35 pounds over her college weight. Her right knee always hurt and her lower back carried a dull ache that lasted throughout the day. Despite all her exercise and her strict diet(s), she always felt tired and couldn’t make a dent in her excess weight. She couldn’t stand her job, particularly her supervisor.

What Made The Difference

Have you ever wondered, as I used to, what makes this kind of difference in people’s bodies and happiness? It isn’t always genetics or willpower or work ethic. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t.

The difference lies in what each person has learned about themselves since the magical years of youth and how they make use of that knowledge.

Surrounding The Dragon

Have you ever had acupuncture? I have. Many times. For about twenty years, Tom Bisio and Marshall Wood have been my go-to Chinese medicine doctors. They did something called Tui Na, a form of massage. Sometimes they prescribed medicinal herbs. Needles were always used. Sometimes they placed the needles directly into a muscle spasm. Other times they were placed in meridians to release blockages and let energy flow.

Another technique that was used was called “Surrounding The Dragon.” They would place needles all around the problem area. This way, a number of energy pathways would be opened up. The pain would be addressed from several directions.

Look Around

The first woman had also faced some of the same trials that her friend had faced since college. But when she hit a roadblock she looked for feedback. She had also built rituals for relaxation and renewal.

She had a coach who helped her with accountability for her exercise and eating. She had also worked with him to set goals that matched her values. She came to understand that she should not be aiming for physical perfection. She stopped the body-shaming and went through a process that uncovered her power – power that had always been there but was layered over with past pain and others’ expectations. She had “Surrounded The Dragon.”

If you want to lose weight and you’re not getting the results you seek, the cause isn’t always obvious.

Call me or send an email to if you want me to help you explore ways to surround your dragon.

Healthy Habits? Not So Fast

Habit and the Limits of Willpower

Like a lot of us, you’re probably here because you’re interested in becoming healthier. This doesn’t happen by accident. You need to develop healthy habits. Fire up the willpower, read enough books and stuff on the interwebs and you should be ok.

Not exactly.

On two separate occasions, I’ve had clients mention the book, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. The book talks about the importance of “keystone habits.” They are small changes, that when put into regular practice have a significant effect on other areas of a person or company’s life.

Information is great but I’m sure you know a lot of people at work or in your personal life who are well-informed but unable or unwilling to take action.

Willpower is Limited

Exercising self control and willpower can literally exhaust us. You have to prioritize as you direct this scarce resource. Our brain even helps protect us by setting a lot of things we do on behavioral autopilot.Our relationship to food, other people, and even ourselves remains out of our conscious awareness. Would it surprise you to find out that many of these behaviors do not operate in our best interests?

Going on behavioral autopilot also keeps us safe from the fear that change causes. We get scared and the people around us get scared when there’s too much change too fast. If you start exercsing a lot, eating healthier, listen to different music, or stop wearing stockings in the winter, the people around you become uncomfortable. Your change is a reminder of their shortcomings and this can’t be allowed.

So before you choose your keystone habit, you may need to do a little groundwork. Look at who you associate with. Some of those people encourage you to be active and on the move. There are others, who by their mere presence, encourage you to be lazy and inactive.

The same thing happens with food. You’ve got the friend who eats mostly junk food; the friend who convinces you that you need to make every happy hour and that the sweeter the drink, the sexier you become.

Who do you think you should be hanging out with?

Eventually, you’ve got to shape your environment. For each of us, there are people and situations that need to be cut from our lives. Sometimes it takes a permanent change of scenery. This one may take a while.

Start Small

Pick something small for your keystone habit. You might want to start with a food journal. Duhigg’s book talked about an NIH study involving food journals. A group of obese subjects was told to record just one day a week of the food they ate. This simple instruction led some study subjects to notice patterns in their eating and to record their food entries on a daily basis even though they had not been instructed to do this. At the end of the study, the people who kept daily food journals lost twice as much weight as the other subjects. One small change generalized into healthier eating.

So your job is to pick just one small change depending on your goals. It might be reading a chapter daily in a book in your profession. It might be stretching for ten minutes. It might be keeping a food journal, or it might be making a daily list of five things you’re grateful for or five things you love about the people in your life.

It also helps to set up an “action trigger”- a time, place, or situation that signals you that it’s time to begin your small action with the big payoff. E.g. you begin your activity after your morning cup(s) of coffee. Visualizing and mentally rehearsing the trigger will help set things up.

As always, remember that it’s not about being a thinner you. It’s about being a better you.


P.S. – Go to the upper right and sign up for our updates and tips on exercise, health, and nutrition

Women and Stress

 Women and Stress?

Do you train with us?  If you do, you know that the overwhelming majority of our clients are women.  Out of our approximately 70 clients, about five are guys.  Most guys want to bench press and do curls.  We don’t do a lot of either of those here.Harlem personal training

Our Clients
The guys who we let train here are after something more than beach muscles – kind of like the women who train with us.  Our focus is on busy women, over-30, who have not had much success in a traditional gym setting.  You’re busy building your career. You’re busy taking care of a family.  Sometimes you’re doing both.  You didn’t like the lack of results, you didn’t like the time investment, and you didn’t like the social scene that are all part of the Big Box gym experience.  So you put up with our lack of showers, our lack of Zumba classes, our lack of 3 pound dumbbells, and our lack of shiny, chrome exercise machines.  You put up with our nagging about food journals and consistency; our emphasis on functional movement and strength.

You find that friends, family and associates notice your newly defined arms.  You feel comfortable telling that strange man, “NO! I don’t need help with my bags.”  He looks at you and knows that you mean it in every way.  You find your nagging pains disappearing.  You lose the hate affair with your closet as you pick out clothes you hadn’t been able to wear in a long time.  You make these changes with a couple of 45 minute sessions per week and a change in diet that gives you more energy than you’ve had since college.

The Good News and the Bad News
The 2011 Nielsen report, “Women of Tomorrow”, talked about how greater access to educational and technology was creating greater opportunity for women throughout the world.  Along with increasing opportunity comes greater levels of stress as women try to juggle their various responsibilities and grapple with the question of whether they can have it all. Societal and family structures have not kept pace with the changes in the work place.  What remains is tension between the pursuit of a promising career and expectations around more traditional family roles.

This tension is compounded by the reality of biology.  A study recently published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry found that female brains may be more sensitive to the hormones produced during times of stress (let me know if you want a separate post on corticotrophin-releasing factor!).  Whatever the biology turns out to be, women are twice as vulnerable as men to stress-related disorders.

Women and Stress Management 201

  • there is an external event
  • then there is our perception of the external event
  • finally, there is your body’s reaction to your perception

Managing this process starts with developing choices.  You have an Area of Influence and an Area of Concern.  Your choice operates mainly in the Area of Influence.  We can concern ourselves with a great deal but there are often many factors that are out of our control. Focus on your internal experience and the meaning you give to events if you want to make changes.  In other words, it’s not what happens to us, but how we feel about what happens to us that makes all the difference. We get into trouble when we instead try to control the external world instead of our response to it.

What feedback is your body giving you about stress?  What are the triggers?  What are the patterns?  Awareness is everything – from eating, to exercise, to relationships.  It also helps to look at sources of stress using the Logical Levels of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).  The levels are:

  • Environment
  • Behavior
  • Capability
  • Beliefs
  • Values
  • Identity

The process for dealing with the sources of stress would be different based on what level it’s coming from.

There’s a lot more to say on this topic but that’s all for now.  If you want a more in-depth treatment of these issues, send me an email at Let me know you want to get on the list for the Grateful Living 2.0 series.  If you’re one of the first 50 you’ll get 50% off.

Until then,

Who loves ya, Baby?