Weight loss hypnotherapy in San Fransisco California Bay Area. Lose weight with hypnosis. Be hypnotized to lose weight by a trim and attractive female hypnotist who has been there. Control your weight, master the eating compulsion, forget compulsive habits, trance out and drop pounds. Weight control is easy with hypnosis. Hypnotized fat loss. Hypnotherapy for eating control.


New Weight Loss Show and Blog

Hi All,

I have moved my blogging to www.personallifemedia.com/renee. Please come check it out!

The shift goes with the launch of my podcast show: "Inside Out Weight Loss: Aligning Mind, Body and Spirit for Lasting Change". Three short weeks after launch it became the #1 Weight Loss podcast in iTunes!

You can access it here: www.personallifemedia.com/iowl.

And directly on iTunes at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=264747378.

Plus, there is now a community around the show! Join the Inside Out Weight Loss Yahoo! group here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/insideoutweightloss/join.

The show walks you through my program. Many, many people have already told me how much it has helped them. I am truly grateful. The show serves my mission of ending the weight struggle, and replacing it with peace, joy, and growth.

Take care,



Are You Ever Too Old to Start Exercising?

Back when I was an evangelical fresh convert to working out, I got a job in a gym taking members through vigorous workouts, and selling memberships. I delighted in spreading the “No Pain, No Gain” gospel to anyone who would listen.

No one was immune to my enthusiasm, especially my parents. I badgered them relentlessly until they started working out with weight and cardio equipment. My father was 60 years old at the time, and my mother, 49. Neither had ever lifted a weight in their lives, and I vividly remember my father’s arms trembling with the unfamiliar sensation of a bench press.

Yet he continued to work out. Not regularly, but consistently, always coming back to it after work commitments had interfered with his routine.

Fast forward 10 years. My fiancé and I fly into town to visit my parents. My father isn’t looking so good, kind of grey all over, and he’s grumpy to boot. Not the homecoming I expected...

Several hours later he’s in the Emergency Room (could it have been meeting my fiancé??) and doesn’t leave the hospital until he’s had sextuple bypass surgery. That means a six pack of bypasses in one handy operation. He always did like to go for it.

So what good was all his working out, if he still ended up with bypasses? The surgeon was quite clear in his opinion. He told us that given how little blood was actually making its way to my father’s heart, it was a miracle he survived. The surgeon said that the only reason he made it through was that my father had been working out for 10 years. The heart strength he had gained during that time kept him going. If he hadn’t been working out, he never would have made it.

And made it he did. My father went on to live another 12 years, to see the marriage of his two children, and the birth of his four grandchildren. Pretty worthwhile stuff I would say. And if that hasn't got you running to the gym, here’s a recent picture of my mother, who started working out at age 49. She was also one of my first weight loss clients. I’m forbidden to disclose her age, but you can work out the numbers. ;)

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When You Never Feel Full

This post is in response to a reader's question on my post "Top 10 Lame Excuses Why You Can't Lose Weight". Generally speaking, never feeling full is a sign that you have dissociated from your body - you are numb to some extent to the sensations in your body. This is actually quite common, especially among those who are significantly overweight.

In this case, the key is to re-associate into the body. This may require healing old wounds and learning that the body can be a pleasant place to hang out.

I had one client recently who never felt full, or hungry for that matter. She ate by the clock, she ate for distraction, she ate for entertainment, and she gained weight. Because she has fibromyalgia, she had connected feeling anything in her body with feeling the pain of fibromyalgia. In fact, she associated exercise with feeling her body, i.e. pain, and so could never work up the motivation to exercise consistently.

Once she realized that feeling her body didn't have to mean feeling pain, she started exercising regularly and dramatically improved her diet. We did this by applying techniques from Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and with EFT.

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Alli - Weight Loss in a Pill?

Glaxo-SmithKline is launching the first proven weight loss drug to be sold over-the-counter. The drug, Alli, a milder version of the prescription medication Xenical, has been shown to help subjects lose 5 - 10% of their body weight, when combined with a diet and exercise plan.

Let's look at this more closely. The drug, at double the strength being sold-over the counter, helped half of the subjects lose 5 - 10 % of their body weight, when combined with a diet and exercise plan. Somehow I don't think Glaxo will be highlighting that last phrase in their marketing. That's a 50% chance of a 200 lb person losing 10 - 20 lbs. 50 % success is pretty good by pharmaceutical standards, (anti-depressants are only about 20% effective), and Glaxo is expecting 5 - 6 million people to take the drug.

Alli works by blocking the absorbtion of dietary fats. The fats go in, but they aren't fully absorbed and neither are their calories. But they have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is out the other end. Side effects include cramping, flatulence, oily stool, and "ocassional loss of bowel control". Aiks. Not great for the social life I'd say.

The idea is that you eat the fat, and then take this pill so it doesn't get absorbed. That's like saying to Exxon, "don't worry about building a better Valdez, we'll just clean up the ocean" only in this case, the ocean is our own body. I wonder how many gooey birds Alli will leave behind?

As a coach whose expertise is in getting people to do what they know they should, especially regarding food and weight issues, I would love to see even a fraction of the advertising and promotional budget for Alli directed to teaching people how to get out of their own way and eat well in the first place. Don't they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?


Assess Your Disease Risk on a New Website

We all worry about diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but how many of us know our specific risk, and more importantly, what we can do today to reduce our risk?

A new website will assess your personal risk and provide specific recommendations on how you can lower your risk. Of course, maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk for just about every horrible disease out there.

Go to http://www.yourdiseaserisk.com/ and take their short quizzes to find out how you rate. The site was created by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, but covers a range of disease, including stroke and osteoporosis.

Thanks to Tara Parker-Pope for yesterday's Wall St. Journal Article touting the site.



A Simple Daily Practice That Produces Dramatic Results

I came across a great article today in the Wall St. Journal about the power of positive thinking to cure what ails you. The article inspired me to share with you a simple daily practice to train your mind to filter for the positive that is so powerful, that some of my clients actually believe it cured their depression*.

I remember one client who was about to go on anti-depressants. She felt that she would never be able to lose weight and attract a boyfriend, and that she would never amount to anything professionally. I recommended she begin keeping a Success Journal. I saw her several months later and, with a big smile on her face, she told me her whole life had changed. She said that she was a list maker who used to get to the end of the day depressed about how much was still on her to-do list. Now she goes to bed amazed by how much she has accomplished. Not only did she not need the andti-depressants, but she was down 15 lbs (without dieting), and had a revived social life. A month or two later, I bumped into her at Open Studios. She was with her new boyfriend, and shared with me that she was training for a triathlon!

What is the Success Journal?

Each night before you go to sleep, you write down two (or more) good things from your day. The list could include a smile from a loved one, a couple of minutes in the sun, or even a renewed appreciation that your car started when you turned the key! That's it.

Why is the Success Journal so effective?

1. You do it right before you go to sleep at night.

The time before you fall asleep is a very open time for your subconscious mind (the part of your mind that controls your automatic thoughts and behaviors). The conscious mind is winding down, and so you are very open to suggestion.At this critical juncture, you put on a positive filter as you reflect on your day. You then go to sleep on a positive note. Imagine how this will affect the quality of your sleep. And if you sleep well, imagine how you will feel when you wake up in the morning. So, you start your day well rested, on a positive note, which benefits your whole day.

Then at the end of the day, again you put on your positive filter, re-enforcing your new habit. After 30 days, you will have re-trained your brain to notice the many wonderful things in your life. You will have created an attitude of gratitude that will act as a magnet for more positive things in your life.

2. It takes less than five minutes.

In our busy lives, we often have barely a moment to spare. That's why I love the Success Journal. How long will it take you to write two good things from your day? Two to five minutes I would guess. Moreover, the Success Journal is an easy habit to establish and keep, because you are appending it to something you are already doing-going to bed.

3. The benefits dramatically outweigh the investment.

In other words, it works, and it's easy! Depression is all about the way we talk to ourselves, and the thoughts in our heads. Depressed individuals filter for the negative in life, always seeing the cup as half empty. The Success Journal is a simple and powerful way to retrain our thinking, so that you filter for the positive.Make a commitment now to do this practice for 30 days. Buy a notebook or journal today, place it by your bed with a pen, and start your changes today! Then please email me and share what you notice!

* This technique is not meant as a substitute for advice from a qualified medical professional. If you feel you suffer from depression, do the Success Journal, and consult a professional.


A Client Writes About Her 1Year Anniversary

I've had a very good day today. Two clients are doing so well that I don't need to see them for two months, and a third is down 44 lbs. Then I recieved this email:

Dear Renee,

As of today, I have spent one year without a binge. Just 366 days ago I was stilleating entire jars of hot fudge sauce at a time and entire boxes of crackers and Ithought I could not live without them. Now, I continue to have a substantialbreakfast and plenty of other healthy foods and I am compelled to eat the goodstuff. For 39 years I binged 3 to 6 days per week and was always fighting withmyself over my obsession and guilt. Now I manage it all with relative ease. My mood is better and my weight is down, my blood work is excellentand my heart function has improved... Thank you so much.


Yolanda Burke, Educator, San Mateo, CA

It is such an honor to do this work.



Constipation and Overeating

Alyse is very clear about what makes her day. It’s not winning a new client or a refund from the IRS. It’s having a bowel movement.

This natural bodily function has been a source of frustration and discomfort for her since she childhood. Because both her mother and daughter suffer in the same way, she always assumed the problem was genetic, and resigned herself to 45 or more grams of fiber a day, a daily laxative, and hope.

While the focus of my practice is weight issues, compulsive overeating, and relief from food obsession, I often work with clients on related issues. In Alyse’s case, however, we didn’t suspect a connection between her overeating and her constipation; she only happened to mention the problem during a session. When I explained that hypnotherapy can be very effective in treating constipation, she decided to give it a go.

We spent two sessions on the issues, and what surprised me most was not how effective the work was, but rather that her overeating subsided. She found that not only did she no longer want her morning and afternoon coffee and cookie snack, but she was less hungry overall.

It seems that from the time she was very young, whenever she was constipated, her mother suggested that she eat a food she thought would “get things moving”. So Alyse, now a 47 year old woman, still maintained this connection, EVEN THOUGHT IT NEVER WORKED! Quite the contrary, whenever she felt constipated, she would eat, actually making herself feel heavier and even more blocked.

It seems that Alyse’s problem was not a lack of bulk, or volume in her system at all, as doctors had suggested, but rather tension in her system. The digestive system moves food through our body by alternately contracting and relaxing, contracting and relaxing. In Alyse’s case, she seemed to be very good at the contracting part of the process, but not the relaxing.

In the hypnotic process, after gaining the full support of her subconscious mind for this change, I simply created the connection between eating and the contraction and relaxation of her digestive system, all the way down to her rectum. At the second session, I suggested that she perform anal kegel exercises after each bowel movement to further train her muscles. As a side note, these exercises, taught to me by a talented hypnotherapist/nurse, Seth-Deborah Roth at http://www.hypnotherapyforhealth.com/, are also great for hemorrhoids).

Addressing the causes of the my client’s weight issues, binge eating, compulsive overeating or body image issues takes my work commonly into many issues such as internal conflict, safety and protection, depression, anxiety and trauma, but the connection between constipation and overeating was something new. I’m so glad we “happened” to address it.


The Secrets of Thin People

I was quite surprised this month to discover a magazine article that is actually packed with sensible weight loss advice. Kudos to Real Simple magazine for their April 2006 article "The Secrets of Thin People". Here's a summary with a few editorial comments. :)

1. Thin people favor bulky foods.

In other words, they eat foods that take up a lot of space for the calories they provide. Foods with a high water and fiber content lead the charge. Think water based soups, veggies, cooked whole grains like brown rice. You are more likely to feel full on less calories. Here are a few of my personal favorites: oatmeal cooked in water - I can hardly start the day without it; organic baby carrots dipped in my favorite Trader Joes Eggplant Hummus dip (~35 calories per 2 tablespoons); soups made with lentils and lots of fresh veggies.

2. Thin people watch portion sizes.

Really, they do. I know it often seems they were blessed by the gods of metabolism, but that's not true. They just know how to match their intake with their metabolism, whatever it is. You may see them eat the burger and fries, but you don't see them not eating before and after their public indulgence.

High Quality frozen entrees (try Amy's) have built in portion control, so are a good option for the time starved. Thin people avoid oversized restraunts where an entree could easily feed a family of four (the Chevy's and Marie Callendars of the world). If you have any doubt, look at the size of the average patron. And when the clerk says "Tall, Mondo or Obese" for your drink size, ask for a small (it's often not even on the menu).

3. Thin people can put themselves first.

Stop here. If you were looking for the key, you've just found it. I work with so many generous and giving women who always put others first, to their own detriment. Somehow it's not acceptable to say "I'm doing it for me".

Remember, put your own oxygen mask on first. If you're dead, who'll do the caretaking?

4. Thin people limit their options.

Research clearly shows that the more food options available, the more we eat. It's the buffet syndrome--you want to try a little of everything, and before you know it, you've had way too much of too many good things. The same principle applies at dessert time. While you may have had enough of your main course, you can always find a little more room for something sweet.

Thin people know this and consciously limit their options. For example, they may have a "no dessert at home" policy, or a "dessert only when shared at restaurants" rule.

5. Thin people live in Colorado.

Ok, so every list has to have at least one silly entry. However, Colorado is the thinest state according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, probably because it attracts people who enjoy an active, outdoorsy lifestyle (you know, Rocky Mountain hiiiiiiiigh in Colorado).

6. Thin people don't sit still.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic discovered that out of a group of 20 self-proclaimed couch potatos, the thinest were the the most fidgety. They stood, moved, and walked more than their heavier counterparts. In fact, they burned through about 350 more calories a day! "Over a year, this could results in a weight loss of approximately 30 lbs" according to James Levine, the lead author of the study.

Inspired by this research, I recommend to anyone with a dust gathering treadmill or bike to consider using it for "meandering" while watching tv or reading, in their normal clothes (in addition to regular workouts). Imagine how many calories you could burn if you did this during just one hour a day while watching tv?

7. Thin people weigh themselves.

This is a tricky one. According to the National Weight Control Registry, most people who have sustained a weight loss of 30 pounds or more weigh themselves on a regular schedule. This means once a week or once a month. However, multiple times a day is NOT going to be helpful.

Because I work with so many clients who are obsessive about their weight, I am very cautious about recommending frequent weigh ins. For many, a bad weigh in sends them into a negative spiral leading straight into a binge. My advice: ask your self if weighing yourself is a motivator or a downer and go from there.

8. Thin people don't skip breakfast.

They eat it. Every day. You know this. A healthy breakfast will set you up for success all day long, and boost your metabolism. Notice I said "healthy" breakfast. Starbucks scones do not qualify, nor do most commercial breakfast cereals, which are full of High Fructose Corn Syrup (see previous post "Corn Syrup: Hazardous to Your Health".) Think protein-eggs, cottage cheese, and whole grains like oatmeal and unsweetened cereals like Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat.

9. Thin people enjoy their food.

Hooray! You don't have to eat cardboard to be thin! In fact, thin people enjoy their food a great deal, partly because they are not plagued by feelings of guilt.

Many compulsive overeaters enter a sort of food trance when eating, making them almost completely oblivious to what's passing through their mouths. Consider breaking this trance by really noticing the flavors and textures of the food you are eating. Eat slowly and consciously, savoring each bite and giving your stomach a chance to let you know when it's had enough.

10. Thin poeple practice early intervention.

The first two pounds you gain are the first two pounds you lose. It's all about self correcting. (There's a topic for another blog entry).

11. Thin people do what works.

In other words, they aren't good all the time, they are pragmatic. They have stragies they have found through trial and error, and they use them. If not buying potato chips works to prevent you from eating them, do it. If munching freely on carrots as a snack keeps the calories in check, go for it!

The big secret of the perpetually-thin is that they do have strategies in place, and they follow them. It may seem effortless to the outside observer, but ask them what they do. You may even find a few good ones to steal for yourself!


Renee's Famous 10 min (or less) Weeknight Salad

This salad is fast, easy, and packed with nutrition. When I serve it at dinner parties, every last leaf is eaten. The raw garlic adds loads of flavor, and is a great anti-viral and anti-bacterial. I’ve been known to put in 3 or more cloves in when I feel a bug coming on. Just make sure those around you eat it too!


1 high quality vegetable peeler (I use OXO)
1 garlic press


½ 6 oz bag, ready-to-eat organic spinach, romaine or other salad greens
1 carrot
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
1 clove fresh garlic (or to taste)


1 handful pre-sliced mushrooms
Cherry tomatoes tossed in whole or cut in half
Slices of peeled cucumber
2 T Defrosted frozen peas
Chopped walnuts
Chopped pecans


2 T extra virgin olive oil
1T balsamic vinegar


Put lettuce in a large bowl. Peel the carrot. Continue to use the vegetable peeler to peel off slices of carrot, directly into the bowl. This creates light bits of carrot that add color and flavor, but do not sink to the bottom of the salad. Add cheese and any optional ingredients.

Crush the garlic by placing the flat side of a wide chef’s knife on top of the garlic clove. Smash the garlic clove under the knife blade. This will make the skin easy to separate from the clove. Place the clove in a garlic press, and press the garlic directly onto the salad. Discard the remaining garlic inside the press.

Combine oil and vinegar and stir or shake well, immediately before using. (I use an old jam jar with a lid and shake to combine). Pour over salad and toss.

Yield: 2 – 4 servings


How Can I Tell A Craving From A Binge?

The following is a recent entry in my Ask Renee series. If you have a question, email me at rstephens@mindforbody.com.

Dear Renée,

How can I tell a craving from true hunger?
--Stuffed in San Mateo

Dear Stuffed,

An easy way to tell the difference it the substitution test. Cravings are very picky. You must eat what you crave. Hunger, on the other hand, is flexible. If what you want isn't available, you will eat what you have. I like to use the milk test. If it's true hunger, then I would rather drink a glass of milk than go hungry. If a glass of milk seems a pointless substitute, it's probably a craving.

Hunger is like an old friend: familiar and steady, always there for you when you need it to let your body know it needs fuel. Hunger is reliable and predictable, keeping a schedule, letting you know when meal time is near. Hunger will even allow you to ignore it for a while if you are in a meeting or on the go. It trusts you to come back and take care of it later.

A craving, on the other hand, is like a spoiled child, loud, annoying and relentless. It will go to extreme measures to get your attention, and abandons any notion of what's acceptable: “who says half a birthday cake isn’t a good breakfast?”. Cravings have a mischievous side, too. Why eat a cookie in public when you can sneak one when no one is looking? Finally, cravings are all about immediate gratification: “I want ice cream, and I wan’t it now!”.

And if all else fails, use your common sense. If it's sweet and starchy that's tempting you, it's probably a craving.


Liane Walks a Block and a Half!

It may not seem like much to you...
but it brought tears to my eyes when I read her email. You see, Liane is 4'10" and when she started working with me, she weighed 232 pounds.
And the block and a half that she walked was straight up hill. Here's the email that made my day:
"Well, it is Saturday monring and I have walked up the hill to the park and back home. This 20 minute feat marks a goal and a 4+ year desire. My 'someday' finally came today. If I never do this again, I have achieved".
At her next session, she had already taken this accomplishment in stride and was planning her next walk up the hill with the neighbor's dogs. By the way, she's down 14 lbs so far, and it's beginning to show.
I am so grateful to be able to do the work I do, and to be part of transformations like the one Liane is going through. Thanks to all of you, who allow me to do it. What a gift!


Deduct the Cost of Weight Loss

In an odd turn of events, I'm passing along tax advice!

The IRS recently issued new rules that make it easier to deduct the cost of a weight-loss program. This presents an opportunity for tax savings, and in some cases a tax refund.

A weight-loss program is a deductible medical expense only if you participate in the program as treatment for a specific disease diagnosed by a physician. The IRS now recognizes that obesity is a disease in its own right. Therefore, if your doctor diagnoses obesity, you will be able to deduct the cost of a weight-loss program. Even if you aren't obese, you can still take the deduction if the doctor directs you to lose weight as treatment for another disease, such as hypertension or heart disease.

Make note, however, if you undertake the program to improve your general health, rather than to alleviate a specific ailment, the costs aren't deductible. Therefore, it's a good idea to get a written diagnosis from your doctor before starting your program.

Which expenses can you deduct? IRS says that the fees paid to join the program and to attend periodic meeting are deductible. However, the cost of low-calorie food that you eat in place of your regular diet is a nondeductible personal expense (would you really want to eat this food anyway?).

The IRS also won't let you deduct membership dues in a gym, health club, or spa.
Bear in mind that medical expenses are an itemized deduction and are deductible only to the extent the expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

Another way to save money on a weight loss program is to pay for it through your employer's flexible spending account Hypnotherapy is generally covered in these plans. This is the equivalent of a deduction without having to meet the 7.5% limit.

(This post is courtesy of Troy Van Sloten CPA, M.S. Pleasanton Tel: (925) 484-5801).
BTW, I'm know very little about taxes myself. Consult a qualified tax advisor for questions about your specific situation.


Top 10 Lame Excuses for Why You Can’t Lose Weight

1. It’s in my genes

This is another way of saying "I can’t change; it’s out of my control". Take a good look at your behavior. Are you eating past the point of being full, or when you are not hungry? If so, I’ll bet it has a lot more to do with your behavior than your genetic make up.

2. My mother is fat, my father is fat, and my dog is fat

I’m not surprised. You had to learn your overeating behaviors from somewhere, and the most common place is from your family of origin. Consider choosing one context in which you overeat and designing a new behavior that works better.

3. I have a bad metabolism

This is another "I can’t change" rationale. If it were all about having a fast metabolism, how come there are overweight marathon runners? Being slim is not about your metabolism, it’s about your ability to match your intake with your metabolism, whatever it is.

4. I have big bones

So show them off! The size of your bones and the amount of spare fat on your body have nothing to do with one another. You know this. If you want less fat on your body, change your behavior around food and exercise.

5. I just love food

If you let food be your lover, than you will continue to have the effects that you have now on your body. Have you ever fallen out of love (think high school heart throb)? You can fall out of love with food too, and into love with life and vitality.

6. My body just holds on to weight

The amount of weight your body holds on to is a function of how much energy it needs to function, and how much energy you put into it. In other words calories in – calories out = weight loss or gain. Different bodies at different times need different amounts of energy to function. They key is matching your intake to your burn rate, whatever it is.

7. If I even look at a brownie I gain weight

Are you sure you’re just looking? It might be time to look instead at your eating behavior. Do you eat when you are not hungry? Do you eat past the point of being full?

8. I’m an endomorph

This is a code word for having a stocky build that easily bulks up. It’s also a way of saying that you can’t change. Think about difficult things that you have been able to change in your life. If you can change those then I’ll bet you can change one behavior around food and exercise.

9. It’s my blood type

Is there anyone on the planet with your blood type that’s slim? Then you can be too.

10. I have no willpower

Great! Willpower implies that you have to will yourself to do or stop doing something that you want to do. Rather than focusing on restraining yourself from the things you want, focus on all of the benefits of healthy eating and exercise.


Fat to Fit Kids: My 10 Rules to Fight Childhood Obesity

Ahhhnold (our esteemed CA Governator) recently signed the most far reaching legislation to date setting minimal nutritional standards for food served in California schools. Thank goodness! I’ve seen too many clients tormented by a weight struggle that started in childhood, and I am deeply saddened by the psychological toll that it can take.

So I thought I would join the bandwagon and list my top 10 rules you can use to help your kids lose weight and be slim and fit. Hypnotherapy not required!

As with adults, my primary principle in treating overweight for children is to follow the body’s natural wisdom of when to eat and when to stop. Babies know this innately (ever try to get a baby to eat when not hungry?). Here’s where you start:

1. Get the crap out of their diets.

Obesity rates in the US have climbed in lock step with the increase in consumption of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). HFCS actually disrupts the body’s ability to tell if it’s hungry or full because it does not trigger an insulin response like regular sugar does.

HFCS is in just about everything it seems, so it takes some work to identify better options, but once you and your kids get used to it, it’s surprisingly easy.

Another villian in the food supply is hydrogentated oils. These are usually listed as “Partially Hydrogenated Oil”. Originally developed as an industrial solvent, hydrogenated oil tends to go into your arteries and not come out. Do your kids a favor and get it out of their diet.

Here’s a short cut in choosing healthy foods. Read the ingredient list. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

One more thing. Fruit juice has virtually no redeeming qualities. It’s metabolized as sugar and has a very low nutritive value. Water is the best drink and, for many, milk is a great choice too.

2. Turn off the TV, and the computer for that matter.

Not only will your kids be more active, but their creative brain cells will hop into action. Need more convincing? Watching television induces a hypnotic trance, typically a state of heightened suggestibility. Do you really want your kids highly suggestible to what they see on TV? Do you really want them to associate a vegetative state with the comforts of home?

Again, the transition can be tough, but the new habits will be worth it.

3. Set an example.

Many clients have asked me what to do to help their kids. My first response is always to set a positive example. If you have food issues, there is a good chance your kids will too, even if you think you are hiding them.

I had a client who had developed Bulimia in her 40s. Her behavior was a big secret, and I was the first person in the world she told about it. As she healed from this disorder, her brother was hospitalized for complications related to guess what? Bulimia. She then learned her mother had been Bulimic, and an aunt too. It seems the family secret was actually the family inheritance (this client has been binge free for a couple of years now, so it is possible to break a family pattern!).

4. Don’t use food as a reward or a bribe.

Find something else. Obvious, right?

5. Let them bounce off the walls.

If you give kids sugar, they will suddenly have lots of energy (the post birthday party syndrome). Kids respond beautifully to sugar’s concentrated energy by running around and burning it off. If you want some peace and quiet, give them string cheese, not sweets or juice.

6. Sit down to a meal with your kids at least 3 nights a week, and more if possible.

Family meal time has been shown to have a negative correlation with obesity, and a positive correlation with happiness and good performance in school.

What’s at work here? Positive associations. Family meal time is where connection happens. Kids like connection, and they learn to associate it with a balanced meal. This association can last a life time.

Also, teach the kids to eat what you eat at meal time (assuming it’s healthy!). Most kid foods are a nutritionally anemic. Expect a child to see a new food an average of 12 times before he will try it. This means that you need to keep offering the veggies and brown rice and eventually they will catch on, especially if they see you enjoying it, and have no other options. Besides, you will have more time to spend with your kids if you are preparing one meal instead of two.

7. Take your kids out to ice cream.

I gottcha on this one, didn't I? A total ban can backfire. Alcoholism rates in countries such as Italy where alcohol is a part of the culture from an early age are very low. The same principle applies to sweets. You want your kids to learn eat sweets in moderation, and to enjoy a childhood ritual.

Notice however that I am suggesting you take them out to ice cream, not keep it in the house for a nightly “treat”. If a daily dessert is important, offer fresh fruit after a healthy meal.

8. Encourage kids to listen to their own bodies.

Once the crap is out of their diets, and their TV addiction has subsided, they can begin to tune in to their body’s signs of hunger and fullness. They will have a much easier time of doing this as kids then they will as adults (I know, I spend lots of time teaching this ability to adults) , so save them years of struggle by teaching them these good habits now.

9. Encourage physical activity.

Find a sport they enjoy, go on hikes together, turn on some music and dance in the living room, take the stairs instead of the elevator saying “great, an opportunity for exercise!”. Tell them that it’s good to feel tired because it means they are getting stronger.

Whatever it takes, get them moving. They will thank you for it.

10. Love them unconditionally.

Tell them they are beautiful from the inside out, just as they are, fat thin or in between. Tell them that you love them no matter what they say or do, because you love their being, and watch them thrive! (I think this one is obvious too).


Blame Your Fork

Research has shown that people eat more when the serving container is bigger. In fact, today's salad fork is the size of a dinner fork from the mid-eighties, and serving spoons are taking on shovel-like dimensions.

Brain Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinios, led a research study where researchers sent participants home with a half pound, a one pound or a two pound bag of M&Ms. Those with the half pound bag ate an average of 63 M&Ms, while those with the one poind bag averaged 120 M&MS! The larger the bag, the more the person ate.

The same principle applies to the size of our eating utensils, plates and glasses. So make life a little easier for yourself. Buy smaller utensils, plates and wine glasses and notice how much more civilized your dining experience can be!

P.S. If anyone identifies a good source of small scale flatware, etc., let me know. I'd like to place a shopping link on my site!


Establish a Wellness IRA

Each workout you do, and each healthy meal you eat
are deposits in your own Wellness IRA. These
deposits start to earn interest the minute you make
them and continue throughout your life.

Scientists call this your biological reserve. I call it a Wellness IRA. It's what you draw upon when you are ill or injured to speed your recovery.

Years ago, when my father suffered an angina attack he was rushed into open heart surgery. The doctors performed a sextuple bypass (you can’t do any more than that!). During his recovery the Doctors commented that there was no way he would have made it through if he hadn’t been a regular exerciser. He then lived another 13 years to see the marriage of both of his children and the birth of his grandchildren. And he didn’t even start exercising until he was 61 years old!

So if you were thinking a single workout or salad doesn't make a difference, think again. It's not just what you do today, it's the compounding interest that accrues during your life that really adds up, and you never know when you will have to make a withdrawal. Each healthy practice, each time you do it, is a deposit, so start saving now!


Finding the Scales for Weight Loss

I had a client recently who was very clear in her first request. “I want to find the scales for weight loss”. Jennifer is an an accomplished musician, and leads a choral group for her church. In music, when she wanted to reach a high level of competency, she knew that all she had to do was to practice her scales, over and over again. Eventually she would reach a level of mastery and be able to tackle ever more challenging pieces of music.

Having struggled with her weight for many years, Jennifer simply wanted to learn the scales for weight loss. What is it, she pondered, that if I practice it over and over again, I will gain mastery and lose weight for good?

The answer turned out to be quite obvious, but the way she discovered it certainly was not. We began our work together addressing the fears and obstacles that she had to losing weight. After a few sessions, she wasn’t making progress in the way she expected. She felt as if she were trapped in a deep hole with no way out.

I asked her to imagine being a third party observer, floating above the scene with the woman trapped in the hole below. How could she get out?

Clearly she needed someone to pull her out, but who? Jennifer finally realized that a more evolved version of herself could do it, yet she didn’t see how. If she did know how, what would it be? I asked.

After a long pause, and a few frustrated sighs, she her evolving self had found a jump rope, tied it to a shrub in the otherwise barren landscape, and the trapped Jennifer had been able to climb out and leave the barren land for greener pastures.

Jennifer went home that day not sure if anything had happened, but when she returned the following week she was like a new woman. She walked with more spring in her step and radiated a healthful glow. I asked her what had happened.

She explained that she had made two changes. She had finally seen her personal trainer and had started her exercise regime and her partner had found a website (ediets) that would print out meal plans and shopping lists for healthy entrees that she would then prepare for her (what a great partner!) . She always knew exercise was great for her, but somehow hadn’t been able to make the time for it until now.

She was so happy because she realized that all she had to do was use the tools she had of regular exercise and healthy, moderate eating to lose weight. Not only had she found her scales, which seemed so obvious in retrospect, but she had also found the motivation and commitment to practice them on a daily basis.

What a versatile thing a jump rope can be.


Why French Women Don't Get Fat

Who would have predicted the success of this book? It has just flown off the shelves as it catapulted itself to best selling status. What is it that captivates so many?

To find out, I recently listened to the audio version of this book and have concluded that I like it. Mireille Guiliano has shocked the diet industry by offering a program distinctly lacking a scientific foundation. Instead, she shares with us her common sense approach to staying slim, even while eating in fabulous restaurants and drinking champagne on a regular basis.

Of course, it helps that Guiliano is so darn cosmopolitan and glamourous, leading her transcontinental life, CEOing Clicquot Industries (as in Veuve Clicquot), and speaking with her absurdly thick French accent (she’s been speaking English since she was a young teen for goodness sake. You’d think the accent would have softened just a tad by now.)

Nevertheless, common sense is something that has sadly been left behind in so much of the diet industry. Everyone looks for the quick fix, the miracle cure and almost inevitably ends up with absurdly specific food recommendations and formulas (never eat a carb with out a protein, don’t eat past 7:00 pm). They lose weight initially while they are following the rules, and inevitably gain it back when they just can’t maintain the required level of discipline any more.

In contrast, Guiliano’s focus is on “petit indulgences”, moderation, balance and trade offs. She points out what so many people miss: that those skinny people we see chowing down in front of us are not chowing down when we don’t see them. We see them eating, but we don’t see them the rest of the day or night when they are not eating. They balance indulgence with restraint.

Guiliano also promotes food snobbery. Food snobbery is a very useful attitude to have. Is that Hershey’s chocolate really worth it? You will have to eat the whole bar to get the satisfaction of a small, rich bit of dark chocolate. More is not better, it is a waste of your palate.

She also recommends eating fresh, seasonal produce, simply prepared, rather than the processed, chemically enhanced foods so many of us consume. I recommend the same to my clients. In fact, some of the substances in our food supply have actually been proven to mess up our body’s ability to tell if it’s hungry or full (specifically high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils – avoid these at all costs!).

Sensibly, regarding exercise, she recommends increasing the exertions in your daily life, by taking the stairs when possible and walking wherever you can. She also eschews the gym as the place where we Americans fulfill our puritanical compulsion for public self flagellation as a sign of repentance for the sins we have already committed or expect to be committing. She’s probably right there. Nevertheless I think gym visits are a necessary balance to our desk centric work lives. Hey, public self flagellation has its upside. Think of the camaraderie...hmm...?

Guiliano manages to create an entertaining read, and provides a glimpse into an alternative attitude to life and to food. I think her recommendations are challenging to implement, given we live in the US and not in France, yet I suspect most readers will at least get a few helpful tips along the way.


Who I can't help

The longer I have been doing this work, the more clear I become on who I can and cannot help. I had a client recently who wanted to lose weight. That may seem normal, given what I do, but this woman really, really wanted to lose weight. In fact, she was completely convinced that she couldn’t be happy until she lost the weight, so she wanted to lose it immediately, if not sooner.

I should mention that this woman had gained and lost 40 lbs twice a year for each of the past 15 years. She associated the major holidays with where she was in her gain/lose cycle. If it’s April, I must be losing weight. If it’s October, I’m gaining.

We worked together a few sessions where she reluctantly agreed to follow a balanced, moderately reduced calorie diet and we began to address her overeating triggers, which were many. The first thing she lost was her desire to overeat pasta, and she was briefly pleased by the shift. I also attempted to guide her to the core causes of her struggle to help her heal them.

Yet while she was making great progress in the foundation pieces for lasting change (addressing triggers, adopting specific practices of positive thinking, etc.) her frustration was growing. The weight just wasn’t coming off fast enough.

I later learned that the only reason she had decided to work with me was that her old pattern had broken down. She just wasn’t able to lose the weight quickly anymore. She had tried every diet pill on the market, prescription and herbal, and nothing worked, so she was left with me. What she most wanted, was for me to restore her to her old quick loss pattern. Even though she knew from 15 years of experience, that quick loss equals quick gain, she didn’t care. All that mattered now was to get rid of those excess pounds, and fast!

In the end, we realized we were a poor match. Ethically, I’m not willing to help someone go on a crash diet. The “I’ll get healthy once I lose the weight, and figure out how to maintain it then too” mentality just doesn’t fly with me.

Mine is not the quickest program around. There are many other weight loss programs that are faster. What I offer is an opportunity to address and heal the underlying causes so that when the weight easily comes off, it stays off. Overeating becomes obsolete, daily healthy practices become the norm, and maintenance is just more of the same healthy practices. To quote Oprah, “This I know for sure”.


Addicted to Losing Weight

Stephanie had lost her weight easily during our fist three months together and loved her new relationship with food and her new body. In the past month however, she had had episodes of uncontrollable eating that alarmed her as she thought she was through with that faze of her life. Indeed, she had done some profound healing work and there just weren’t many eating issues left.

I asked her what she thought it was about. She had been trying to figure this out, and just didn’t understand it. So I asked her to step into “the you who is relaxed around food and has a healthy lifestyle”. As soon as she stepped in, she knew that all of her wanted this. It now felt familiar, because she had lived it for six months, and there was no fear or objection at all.

So what was going on? I asked her to turn around and look at the Stephanie who had walked into my office a few moments ago, who was still in the problem. “what is keeping her there?”

A spark of realization spread across her face. It’s the success of losing weight. Part of me loves the feeling of accomplishment and the high that accompanies freshly lost weight. Friends congratulate me, I feel like I have a new body, and I feel great. It’s a high.

Stephanie realized that although she hated what she had to go though to get overweight, and she was miserable in it, she had become addicted to the macro cycle of losing and gaining weight. After all, she had been repeating this cycle since she was 15! Homeostasis strikes again!

So what’s the solution? I asked, and again, she was at a loss. So I put down a marker on the floor to indicate the present problem, and asked her to step into it and fully access the problem.

I then asked her to take a step back from the problem, and look at the Stephanie who was still in the problem. “What did she know here, one step removed, that she couldn’t have known back when she was in it?”

“That its not about the food”. I asked her to take another step back, and asked her what she knew here, that she couldn’t have known a moment ago, now two steps removed from the problem.

That food is important, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

And on we went, to 10 steps removed from the problem. Along the way, she realized with absolute certainty that she could do it, and that she could set other challenges for herself, rather than losing weight. For example, she could try preparing new vegetables, or she could set herself a fitness goal, or study something new . There were plenty of challenges in life just waiting for her, and she didn’t have to be stuck in the old weight challenge any more. She could graduate!

She also realized that there was a wonderful calm and deep happiness that resulted from having a consistently healthy lifestyle, over the years. She could feel what it was like to have been slim for years, and her body liked it. She felt very comfortable and natural this way, even though it was a change from her earlier life.

Stephanie left feeling again in control, and realizing that being slim and healthy were nothing more that making good choices, one moment at a time.


Midnight Snacking -- All in Your Genes?

AOL ran a piece yesterday about some new research into mice and a gene that regulates their body clock (http://aolsvc.aol.com/dietfitness/news/main9.adp ). Here is a quote from their synopsis:

“According to a new study, the urge to reach for a midnight snack may be genetic and out of your control.”

Well. Thanks for that inspiring piece AOL. We might as well give up now. No sense trying to change if it’s all pre-determined by our genes.

After reading this enticing lead in, I then went to the actual report of the research study and learned a couple of interesting things.

  1. From the report “Other studies involving leptin (a hormone associated with appetite) and appetite in mice have not translated directly to humans”.
  2. No where does the research or do the researchers suggest that your urges are “out of your control”. In fact, they suggest that avoiding eating late at night might be a good thing, something that is very much in your control.

Interestingly enough, other research by neuroscientist Michael Meaney of McGill University of Montreal on rats shows that the DNA of the rats actually changes based on the type of maternal care the rats receive. Specifically, an activator molecule attached to their stress receptor gene actually disconnects, turning the gene itself on or off based on the quality of care a pup receives. The take away: genes may be there, but environmental factors can determine if they are activated or not.

The fact is that when people change their behavior to consume less calories than they burn, they lose weight. Always. Put in less than is going out, and the stored energy (fat) will be used. Your weight will drop.

So the questions becomes, can we change our behavior? Just ask anyone who has successfully quit smoking or drinking or drugging. What do you suppose they will say about their genes?

Perhaps our focus should be more on the study of and reporting on techniques that really do help people make permanent behavior change such as Hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Now that would be inspiring.


Do Telephone Sessions Work?

I am often asked if telephone sessions can be as effective as in person sessions.

Yes, in fact sometimes they are even more effective. I have a number of clients who are phone only, and others who combine phone and in person sessions.

Phone sessions have these advantages:

- Easier to fit into a busy schedule
- More efficient – less time “settling in”
- The client can be completely comfortable in their own familiar environment
- Easier to develop quick rapport
- Provides continuity of sessions while traveling

I do require my clients to use a headset with a cordless phone, or at least have access to a high quality speaker phone. My ears are very attuned to the subtle information available through a client's voice, so cell phones don’t work very well because of the poor quality connection.

Also, successful phone sessions require the client to be in a secluded place where she can talk freely, and move around a bit.

Phone sessions won’t work if the client is trying to fit them in to an on-the-go lifestyle by having them in the car while driving, or multi tasking in anyway. In order for clients to get the most out of a session, they have to focus on the session. The results will be worth it!


If its all in your head, can it also be in your body?

I came across this quote in the April 25th issue of Newsweek.

“A traumatic event within the family can have consequences for everyone. The collateral effects can include real, biological illness—even though the causes are entirely social”

--Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School

As we know, the mind and body are one system. You cannot affect one without affecting the other. One of my favorite examples of how emotional trauma can cause real physical symptoms was a client I worked with who had type II diabetes and kidney failure.

Cherly participated in a corporate wellness program I ran. As part of the program, we had a 30 minute private consultation. During this session, Cheryl was describing how she thought of herself as a “naughty girl, always doing the wrong thing”. When I asked her what this feeling reminded her of, she recounted a scene:

“My mother used to get very angry, and she used to hit my little brother. I hated it when she did this. One day, when she was starting at it again, I realized that I was now big enough to do something about it. So I stepped in between my mother and my brother and prevented her from hitting him.”

Cheryl broke down into tears as she re-lived this memory, and she suddenly understood why her body was fighting itself. It had duplicated the same no-win situation from her youth. As a girl, she knew it was wrong to go against her mother, but she felt it was wrong for her mother to hit her brother, yet she felt compelled to help her brother.

We then did some healing work, including bringing adult understanding and forgiveness to the little girl who had stood up for her brother.

I didn’t hear from Cheryl for a couple of weeks until I saw her at class. She shared that she had released 25lbs during the program and was ecstatic. Later, she sent me this email:

"At class the other day I told you that my endocrinologist was taking me off of insulin because my body has, once again, started producing it’s own insulin. He felt this was due to the changes in lifestyle and diet – which, I feel, is a direct result of the changes your workshop helped me make.

To continue the good news...I’m not sure if you knew that I have been going through kidney failure over the last two years. I have only one functioning kidney and it was functioning at 31%. I was facing a transplant in the next three to five years. I saw my nephrologist yesterday, for my regular checkup, and he told me that my kidney function is up to 57% and he saw no reason for this other than a medical miracle and my friends' prayers. He said that a kidney with as much scar tissue as mine doesn’t usually improve to such a great degree. He never expected to see it get over 50 %, and 57% is astounding to him. I can’ help but think that my improving overall health has resulted in my kidney function also improving.

This has been a tearful week, but they are tears of joy. Thanks for all your help throughout this workshop – I feel a lot of the changes I have made are a direct result of what I have taken away from the workshop.”

--Cheryl L., Executive Administrator, Mountain View, California


Obsessively Moderate

Jan came to me to break her cycle of Good/Bad or On/Off dieting, otherwise known as YoYo dieting.

Jan is highly educated, very capable, and works as an Executive Coach. A graduate of a top University with an MBA and a Masters in Engineering, Jan is tall and attractive. Although you would never think she had a weight problem, she has actually obsessed about food most of her adult life, and has either been uber fit (a one point she was a professional dancer), or uber bad, eating sweets multiple times a day, and avoiding vegetables at all costs.

Jan came to me because she had recently exceeded her lifelong weight ceiling. She wanted to drop 20 pounds, and even more importantly gain a healthy, balanced relationship with food.

In our first session, she described to me her pattern. She would be the Bill Philips poster child, dropping her extra weight and building muscles at breakneck speed during her 12 week bursts of enthusiasm. Then, a party or special meal would come up, she’d indulge in some ice cream or chocolate, and her body would become a temple of indulgence and her refrigerator a shrine to neglect.

As we talked, I realized that Jan was really good at being extreme with her eating and exercise patterns, as well as with her life in general. She had recently realized that her life somehow was always crazy, and she had a habit of saying that she would change “when things settled down”. Of course, they never did.

Since Jan was so good at being extreme, I asked her to imagine what it would be like if she were extremely moderate? What would zealously middle of the road look like?

She was taken aback by this idea, and I could almost hear her thinking shifting. Later in the conversation, I led her through a process that ended with a symbol from her subconscious mind. Her symbol was a turkey sandwich. She explained “I never ate turkey sandwiches because the bread was bad according to the Zone diet, but it wasn’t indulgent enough to qualify as a treat. It’s a very middle of the road food for me”.

Now, after a couple more sessions, she’s been eating turkey sandwiches daily for lunch, and has found herself enjoying four or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Every few days she eats a small scoop of Hagen Datz ice cream after dinner and feels satisfied. I am impressed. She’s already overachieving at moderation.


The Seeds of Change

The changes that you are making are like tiny seeds in a field of weeds. The weeds are your unwanted behaviors, experiences and beliefs. Hidden in the weeds are tiny seeds that must be nurtured to grow.

Because what we think about expands, if you focus your attention on the weeds (your unwanted behaviors, the excess weight), they grow stronger. Likewise, when we focus on the seeds (your positive behaviors and experiences) the seeds sprout and grow.

The more you focus on these seeds of change, the deeper the roots grow, and the taller and stronger they become. The weeds begin to wither with neglect. Soon they begin to die, and dissolve into the soil, where they become the compost that nourishes your flourishing trees.

Every time you think a positive thought, every time you make a healthy choice, every time you relish in the joy of the present moment, you are nurturing your seeds of change. The roots are growing deeper, and the trunk and branches are growing taller and stronger.


When Things are Going Too Well

When Things are just going too well... Alysa’s story

Alysa had finally reached her goal weight of 130 lbs. She couldn’t believe how easy it had been, how sugar was a thing of the past, and all the “unrelated” benefits she was experiencing.

She listed them for me shortly after taking a seat. “I can’t believe how much more focused I am at work. It’s really amazing. Also, I have more patience with my 4 year old, and more energy over all. I’ve never felt this good all over in my life. Sugar is over, cereal is over. I never thought it was possible.”

Yet she had experienced some confusing behavior over the last few weeks. She found herself bingeing 2 or 3 times, in a particularly out of control way. The good news was that the binges had lasted only a short while, and she quickly recovered the following day, unlike on previous occasions. I asked her what she thought all this was about.

“The only thing I can think of is that before each binge, I was feeling really great, even gloating over how great my life is. I bought some new black pants the other day and the size 6 fit perfectly. I really felt great with that.”

She said it’s as if there’s this little bug inside of my head, an evil bug, that gets me to do these things. It doesn’t want me to gloat or allow things to get too good.

She continued “It’s really my Jewish grandmother. She believed that if things went too good, then that would bring on something bad”.

I said, “oh, so it’s really your grandmother’s bug”

“That’s right. It’s hers.”

I then asked her if she would like to give the bug back to her grandmother. Where it belonged. I asked her to ask her grandmother if she would be willing to take it back.

She wanted to give it up, and her grandmother wanted to take it back. As Alysa handed the bug over, I pointed out that where her grandmother was, she had all the resources necessary to deal with the bug appropriately. She could handle it up there.

I then asked Alysa what had stopped her from going into the “I’ve already blown it” cycle. I asked her to describe what stopped her in terms of a character or metaphor. She said it was her higher self.

So I then guided her to fill the space where the bug used to be with her higher self, like a diamond whose like seeps into all the nooks and cranies, wherever it is needed. I said “notice how it fits there, and notice how although it’s new, it feels somehow right, because it is yours, not someone else’s”.

At the end of the session she was feeling “much better” and could easily see herself continuing to make healthy choices and feeling very, very good.


The Virtuous Cycle

Catherine, a 59 year old San Jose housewife, knew she needed to make a change. At 100 pounds overweight with arthritis, she was finding it hard even to vacuum her living room. “I was trapped in my own body. The less I did, the less I wanted to do” she recalled.

Catherine came to me because she wanted to start exercising, but just couldn’t seem to get herself going, no matter what she tried. Whenever she thought about starting a program, she quickly became overwhelmed. And she had lots of good reasons not to exercise: her joints hurt, she hated to sweat, she felt awkward at her gym.

Catherine felt caught in a vicious cycle of declining health and mobility. The less she moved, the less she wanted to move. The more sedentary she was, the more she was tempted to indulge in her favorite foods, the more weight she gained, and the harder it was to get moving.

Catherine’s situation is not uncommon. I have worked with many people who want to exercise, but find the notion of starting completely overwhelming. They are caught in their own vicious cycles of overeating, feeling bad, not wanting to exercise, and feeling worse. When we are in a cycle like this, it can seem like nothing short of an act of God is needed to get us moving again. Even the term “vicious cycle” sounds sinister and hopeless, as if it has a life of it’s own.

The common mistake we make when thinking about creating new lifestyle habits is thinking that a complete overhaul is necessary, right away. To break the vicious cycle, a gym must be joined, a personal trainer must be hired, a new gym wardrobe must be purchased, long arduous workouts must be scheduled, all junk food must be disposed of, and motivational stickies must be adhered to all available reflective surfaces.

No wonder we get overwhelmed.

Yet change is possible. These vicious cycles can be reversed as easily as you can change directions on an eliptical trainer. You just slow down, pause, and start pedaling in the other direction, one leg at a time.

In Catherine’s case, it was a matter of realizing that she didn’t have to do a lifetime of workouts the first day. She could start by going for one short walk. Then, as she was thinking “that wasn’t so bad, I feel pretty good now” she could plan the next one. Then she might want to recruit a friend to join her, motivating her further. Another walk, and she’s now feeling a sense of accomplishment, and it’s getting a little easier. So she has a bit more umph to chanel into the next time, and the time after that.

Catherine contacted me a few months after our session. She couldn’t believe it. She had become a regular exerciser. She said, “it’s funny, the more I do, the more I want to do. I never would have thought this was possible!”.

After all, you know how those virtuous cycles are. They seem to have a life of their own.


The Seeds of Change

The changes that you are making are like tiny seeds in a field of weeds. The weeds are your unwanted behaviors, experiences and beliefs. Hidden in the weeds are tiny seeds that must be nurtured to grow.

Because what we think about expands, if you focus your attention on the weeds (your unwanted behaviors, the excess weight), they grow stronger. Likewise, when we focus on the seeds (your positive behaviors and experiences) the seeds sprout and grow.

The more you focus on these seeds of change, the deeper the roots grow, and the taller and stronger they become. The weeds begin to wither with neglect. Soon they begin to die, and dissolve into the soil, where they become the compost that nourishes your flourishing trees.

Every time you think a positive thought, every time you make a healthy choice, every time you relish in the joy of the present moment, you are nurturing your seeds of change. The roots are growing deeper, and the trunk and branches are growing taller and stronger.


The only kind of Failure

There is only one kind of failure: failure to learn.


Learning Disabilities and Weight that Keeps Coming Back

<>Nora, a stay at home mother of two, had attended one of my classes and had lost about 20 lbs by the end of the course. Now, six months later, she found herself deeply depressed and 40 pounds heavier.<>“I don’t know what happened. I was doing great and very happy with the way I looked.” she explained. Then, she continued, “life got stressful, and the weight came on very quickly. I found myself more and more depressed”. <>

I asked her what she wanted “a better body image” she replied without hesitation. “Right now, when I look in the mirror, I see all of my faults. I know this sounds odd, but e
ven when I was slim, I didn’t see myself as slim. It’s only when I look at photos now I realize how good I looked”. <>

I then asked Nora how she would know she had a better body image. “When I looked in the mirror, I would say ‘nice’ to myself, and I would feel calm in my stomach area”. If the feeling were a color, she said it would be la

<>Now that we knew exactly what she wanted, I asked Nora to try it on for size. I asked her to step into a wonderful you who already had this positive body image.

As I glanced at Nora, expecting her to take a step forward, I saw the tears welling up in her eyes. “What is it?” I inquired.

“A part of me won’t let me do it. It’s telling me I don’t deserve it”. Coincidentally, she also felt this part of her in her stomach area.

I realized that Nora had a deep seated belief about not deserving to be happy. A part of her was literally holding her back from even stepping into a better body image for even a moment. Clearly she would never be able to keep off the weight if a part of her didn’t believe she deserved to.

Limiting beliefs such as this one are almost always formed in childhood, usually by the time we are 12 years old. Usually, a signficant negative emotional experience is responsible.

I asked Nora to pretend that there was a straight line extending back behind her into her past. I then asked her to let that bad feeling in her stomach to guide her back in time to perhaps the first time she had felt it.

It turns out that when Nora was in third grade, her teacher had singled her out as a bad speller. When she returned the papers from the last spelling test, she made Nora stand in the class for the rest of the day as punishment for her low mark.

As an eight year old girl, Nora was horrified. She decided at that moment that there was something wrong with her, that she wasn’t smart enough, and deserved to be punished. These beliefs had haunted her to this day.

I guided Nora to allow her higher self to go up to that little eight year old girl and explain what was going on, so that the little girl understood she simply had a different learning style. I also had her step into her teacher to understand the teacher’s perspective.

She realized that the teacher was doing her best to help her, but was woefully misguided. The teacher was frustrated with Nora and had a large class to take care of.

<><>When Nora understood the teacher’s perspective, she was able to forgive her. We then brought in the teacher’s higher self to give the teacher more options. We also brought in Nora’s parents, who hadn’t understood her learning differences, and had their higher selves explain the learning disability to them.

<>It turns out that Nora’s brother had some very visible and challenging learning problems, that her parents were very focused on at the time.

Her mother would say to her “it’s a good thing you are perfect because I wouldn’t be able to handle it if you weren’t”. Nora had learned that being perfect meant getting no attention from her parents.

Once young Nora, the teacher and her parents had all been enlightened by their higher selves, we replayed the third grade test results scene. Afterwards I asked her how she felt in her stomach area. “Calm, and lavender” she replied, with a smile of relief in her eyes.