can you get fit in a way that is good, fast and cheap?

Most of you know my friend Joe from his incredible before and after pics and the story of his incredible 80lb weight loss.

What you don’t know is that Joe and I originally met as theatre artists about fifteen years ago.

I was producing my first show and described the set I wanted – a cross between Miss Saigon helicopters and Phantom of the Opera crashing chandeliers but I had no budget and needed it by the end of the week.

Joe sat me down and told me I could have a set that was good, fast or cheap – I could pick two of those but couldn’t have all three.

Since then, I’ve learned that this rule applies to pretty much everything. And in this video, I’m telling you which are the most important TWO things to pick when you are trying to get fit:


Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

How to Stop Overeating

Have you ever seen those diet ads that say ‘get a flat belly with this one weird trick!’ ?

I’m going to give you a weird trick.  You can eat whatever you want as long you apply this one weird trick.

Don’t eat unless you are truly hungry.

Duh, right?

Except a lot of us really suck at that.

Some cultures have definitely figured it out:

In Okinawa, Japan they have a custom of saying Hara hachi bun me before every meal – which means ‘eat until the belly is 80% full’. (Their low BMI is thought to be one of the reasons why Okinawa is a pocket of exceptional longevity.)

The Ayervedic tradition recommends eating until 75% full.

And in France they don’t say “I’m full” after a meal. They say “I’m no longer hungry”

This is where we want to get: No longer hungry. Not riding the standard North American cycle of stuffed and starving.

 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Eat Real Food

When you eat processed food, it messes with your natural hunger and satiety cues.

Those foods are engineered to release feel good hormones and block your sense of being full. That’s what’s happening physically.

Now add all the mental noise you might experience around that food if you are trying to eat healthy and it’s a forbidden food.

Thoughts like:  ‘I screwed up. I suck.  I might as well finish the bag of chips. That way it won’t be here tomorrow and I can start fresh’.

This mental and physical shitstorm is almost always going to trigger overeating.

You can make it much easier on yourself by just eating real food. Food that wasn’t made in a factory. Food that your grandmother ate.

When you eat whole, unprocessed food, your body’s satiety cues will kick in because you are delivering the nutrients it needs.

It’s really pretty much impossible to binge on vegetables. You couldn’t if you TRIED.

And here’s the deal:

If you aren’t hungry enough for vegetables, you aren’t really hungry.

Which brings me to my next point:

3. Know the difference between hunger and a craving:

  •  Cravings will go away if you distract yourself or wait it out. Hunger will return no matter what.
  • Cravings will usually be for a specific kind of food. If you are hungry, broccoli looks good.
  • Cravings are usually emotionally or situationally driven. Hunger is physical. You feel it in your stomach or sometimes it feels like a headache or lightheadedness.

(For more on cravings, check out my video on Should You Listen To What Your Body is Craving?)

The thing is that most of us give into our cravings so much that we don’t even know what hunger feels like, so:

4. Experience hunger

There’s a good chance that you rarely experience hunger. Kids these days are basically on an IV drip of Goldfish crackers

and even health-minded adults will graze all day under the pretence of keeping their metabolisms revved.

Allow yourself to get hungry ….and then DON’T PANIC.

Hunger isn’t an emergency. Diarrhea is an emergency.

Tell yourself you can have food anytime you want, but you just want to experience being hungry for a few minutes.

Once you get to know real hunger, you will start to become better acquainted with how it feels in your body vs. a craving.

BONUS:  Allowing genuine hunger before your meals will also make your food taste crazy delicious.  Check out the euphoria people experience while doing my 28 Day Transformation Challenge)

5. Design your environment for success.

Here’s the plan:

1. Chuck the all the shit in your house that you would be likely to overeat.

Do a reverse Marie Kondo. Hold the ice cream in your arms and if it brings you joy, chuck it.

 

Just kidding but seriously – you know which foods are the highway to the Danger Zone.

2. Do food prep so you have healthy, real food on hand THAT YOU LIKE.

I’m not talking about punishment diet food.

I’m talking about something that makes you feel satisfied (not stuffed) when you eat it. So that when you are actually hungry, it’s there for you. No feelings of scarcity and deprivation.

(For prep and easy meal ideas check out the Meal Prep Power Hour and 5 min Healthy Meals)

3. Pre-portion your meals.

Fill half of every plate with veggies and then add a palm sized amount of protein and a fist sized amount of carbs and a thumb sized amount of fat.

You can even cheat by using pre-portioned containers like this:

4. Eat slowly and be mindful.

Try chewing. Pay attention. Enjoy.

A general meditation practice will help in all things weight loss (more about that here) but if you have trouble with being mindful with your food, try these apps.

Eat Slowly
Am I Hungry?
20 Min Eating

5.Stop before you are full.

If you followed my portion guidelines, there is a really good chance that you will still feel like eating after your portion is gone.

It’s ok. You won’t die and it will pass.

Drink some water, maybe brush your teeth and walk away.  Wait 1 hour.

If you are still genuinely hungry, have more! No big whoop. Eat it slowly, appreciate it and stop before you are stuffed.

And then dab your cute little face, re-apply your lipstick and get on with your life.


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When Food = Happiness

Last week I challenged you to think of how to make yourself happy NOW.

At exactly the weight you are at.

But sometimes it seems like the fastest route to happiness involves a bottle opener and hell-yes-I’ll-have-fries-with-that.

If that sounds familiar, you want to watch this Two Minute Tune Up:

…Any of that resonate? If so, leave me a comment below!

Anything that’s got you a bit stuck in your fitness journey? Leave a comment below so I can answer it in an upcoming blog post!

The Pursuit of Happiness

Why the hell am I talking to you about happiness?

You read my stuff for tips on how to get healthy and hella hot so -while a worthy pursuit – the pursuit of happiness might seem a bit off topic.

But it’s actually the whole POINT.

Think about it. You don’t actually want a flat belly or to be able to do a pull up. You want the FEELING that you think those achievements will give you – Confidence, energy, freedom, pride.

In other words…Happiness.

So what I’m proposing is that we skip right to the end goal and focus on what we can do to be happier.

Not when we lose 10lbs.

Now.

(And then for life.)

So the first question is: How much control do we have over our happiness?

The latest theory is that 50% of our happiness is genetically pre-determined. You were born with a tendency to be cheerful (or not).

So what about the other 50%?

Well, interestingly, it seems that only 10% of your happiness is due to your circumstances. In studies done with people who had won the lottery vs people who had accidents resulting in  spinal cord injuries, they found that their relative happiness level was definitely affected by their circumstances for a while –  but when the researchers followed up four years later, both groups reported happiness levels similar to before their life changing event.

So if our circumstances don’t determine our happiness, what does?  It seems that (after genetics) your happiness is largely determined by your intentional actions.

 

And, fortunately, there is a lot of agreement about exactly what those intentional actions should be.

 

So here’s how to get happy:

 

  1. Maintain your friendships and social connections.

“Sadly, our increasingly individualistic society suffers from impoverished social connections, which some psychologists believe is a cause of today’s epidemic levels of depression,”

– David G. Myers, The Pursuit of Happiness

Here’s the deal: relationships are like your biceps. They will deteriorate over time if you don’t put in the work to maintain them.

And to maintain a relationship you need to do more than ‘like’ a status now and then.

Happiness expert David G Myers recommends:

  • Aim for at least five good friends with whom you can talk about the deep stuff.
  • Touch base with those people every two weeks
  • Practice active listening and celebrate their accomplishments.

If you want to get really specific, your relationships at age 47 seem to be predictive of your general life satisfaction and your relationships with your siblings seem to be especially significant.

You’ve probably heard about The Grant Study – it’s that 75-year longitudinal study of 268 Harvard graduates from the classes of 1939–1944.  For three quarters of a century these men were surveyed every other year on everything from their sex life to their income to their health. When George Valiant, the director of the of the study,  was interviewed about what he has learned, he said:

“That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

 

Forgive and forget:

You might have been seriously screwed over in your life.

Or maybe you just can’t deal when someone cuts you off in traffic and you steam about it for blocks and come home and tell your spouse about that total dick who blah blah blah blah.

Ruminating over any situation is a huge mental health no-no. It’s associated with depression, anxiety and OCD.

Just let it go already.

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

– Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (1999)

Gratitude:

One of the first things we drill into our kids is to say thank you and we should be practicing what we preach.

A daily gratitude journal has been found to improve your sense of well being and positivity, increase your empathy, your physical health, improve your sleep, make you happier and reduce aggression, envy and frustration.  Just ten daily bullet points of good things in your life will do the trick.

Know that it’s not about the money:

A famous study in 2012 determined that the magic income was $75,000.

Apparently our happiness  increases with our income until we get to the $75,000 a year mark. After that, you get more opportunities but also more challenges – so your day to day happiness level doesn’t really improve as you get richer.

So maybe you’ve hit that $75,00 mark and maybe you haven’t.

In either case, it’s worth taking a breath and asking yourself what exactly you are working so hard for.

And if you’ve got a couple of extra bucks to spend, all the research shows that you’ll get much more happiness when you buy experiences (like a vacation, a course) rather than things (like a new pair of shoes). And even more so when you share those experiences with others.

Spend your leisure time in the ZONE

The funny thing is that we work so hard for our leisure time and then we just fuck it right up.

Most people spend their leisure time watching TV or on social media.

And studies show that both of these activities are shown to make us actually feel pretty crappy.

What we want to do is spend time in’flow’ or ‘the zone’. You know when you are happily immersed in some task that is kind of hard but still enjoyable and not stressful?

Examples of activities that promote flow are:

Puzzles

Reading a good book

Writing in a journal

Singing in a choir

Dancing

Playing cards

Gardening

Tennis and other amateur sports

So next time you have a precious sliver of free time, it’s worth asking yourself if what you choose to do will actually make you happy (and if not…why are you doing it?).

Seriously. Exercise.

You knew this was coming, right?

I’ve told you straight up before that exercise is actually not that great at helping you lose weight.

But exercise IS the fastest path to happiness. (which -again- is the real end goal)

The science that links exercise with elevated mood is so conclusive it doesn’t even make headlines anymore. Everyone from your GP to your mother will tell you to get some exercise if you are feeling down.

When dealing with clinical depression, some studies have shown regular exercise to be even more effective than medication.

Even if you aren’t depressed, moderate aerobic exercise (so going for a brisk walk, no burpees required) is shown to boost your mood for as long as twelve hours.

And if you are trying to lose weight, exercising is shown to increase your body confidence – EVEN IF YOUR BODY DOESN’T CHANGE.

Because again – it’s not the flat belly/thigh gap/toned arms that you want. It’s the FEELING that you think you will have when you finally achieve those things.

So why not skip directly to the feeling?

(Literally. Get skipping. It just might make you happy. 🙂

 


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