Monday, May 11, 2015

Simplifying Weight Loss – 4 Steps to Ditching the Difficulty and Embracing Ease

It’s time we rebel against dieting as a difficult, unattainable chore and begin to embrace the idea that losing weight can be a simple, easy and enjoyable process.  At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, dieting is a big money industry, so the more confused we are about which diet to follow and which pill to take, the better. The more confused we are, the more money we spend. Here’s what’s missing for me though – although spending on dieting is in the billions, we’re still overweight and frustrated, now add on broke.  Um, can I say no thank you?

When you get clear on how to embrace the simplicity, losing weight is simple, enjoyable and you can do it with ease.  I know you’re thinking there must be a catch. Here’s the thing, simple doesn’t mean easy but it also does not mean ineffective.

Here’s the magic of all of this. All of your current beliefs are made up. 

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t true for you, but it does mean that they can be challenged and changed to make it easier to reach your goals. Pause for a second and think of someone in your life that you really disagree with on some major belief you have. No amount of arguing can bring a resolution. You’ve both resolved to believe different things. Both are true for you. Beliefs are created based on a mental reaction to a sensory experience(s). We, as humans, have the need to create meaning to make sense of the world, so we create beliefs based on our sensory (key word) experiences. Sometimes these beliefs are formed in an instant: like being in a car accident and immediately and indefinitely after, believing that driving is unsafe. Others are created over a lifetime. As an example, forming the belief that dieting is hard after being continually disappointed by not reaching your goals.

Though the four steps are simple, they require commitment, ability to look inward honestly and a willingness to change your views and beliefs. If you have this willingness and pair it with a daily consistent effort, you can change your beliefs and create simplicity in losing weight.

1.      Let go of your need for instant gratification.
Forget sugar. Instant gratification is your most dangerous craving. Our minds are often a few steps ahead of our bodies. Mentally, when we decide to change our diet and start to exercise and after a week or two, having only lost three pounds, our craving for instant gratification kicks in (mainly from our training through the diet industry that weight loss can be instant, or close to) and we get disappointed, frustrated in ourselves and quit because “it’s not working anyway.”
Take a deep breath. The body doesn’t work that way. When you put the right foods into your body after years of dieting and eating the wrong stuff, it may take time to readjust. Done consistently, this will work. In fact, it’s the only thing that does. Consistency over time. You can’t rush time my dear friend.

Breathe in consistency and breathe out instant gratification. I promise, you will be just as happy to arrive at your destination a few months down the road.

2.       Make yourself and your health a priority – what is at stake of not reaching your goal

It’s really easy to not have enough time, money, information, space, energy, etc to make the changes you need to make. We are really good at thinking of all of the reasons why we can’t. Instead, think about what is at stake for you if you never reach your goal. What does that cost? Seriously, put a pen to paper and get out your calculator. What is it actually costing you to stay on the path you’re on? It could be a $4 coffee everyday – that’s $1400 a year. Maybe it’s 10 pounds a year, requiring a new wardrobe every 6 months. That’s a few thousand dollars. Pair that against a few extra dollars on groceries. Do the same thing with time. Not prioritizing yourself costs even more than doing it.

Write this on a post it and place it somewhere you’ll see it multiple times a day: “My health has to be a priority to…” and allow yourself to fill in that blank with something new each time you look at it.

3.       Why might you not want what you want – what’s at stake if you do reach your goal

This is a challenging question. Why might you not want to lose weight? Do you want to know the mother of all fears? It’s not that we will fail. It’s that we might actually succeed. What would happen if you woke up tomorrow at your goal weight? Would you know how to show up in the world as a fitter, thinner you? Would anyone or anything in your life be negatively affected? Be honest. These are the things that keep you overweight. Deep down, we fear that the things, relationships and people that are valuable to us might be lost if we actually succeed in getting what we want. Until you’re clear on that, your subconscious will craft magnificent masterpieces of self-sabotage to make sure that you don’t get there in order to protect what is valuable.

4.       Crowd out – forget deprivation, counting, massive overhauls

We have been taught that to lose weight, you need to overhaul everything to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. It’s true that if you wake up tomorrow and adopt a super healthy meal plan, you will lose weight more quickly. What is also true though, is that most of us aren’t able to sustain that for more than a few days, if that. Because you've already let go of your need for instant gratification in order to adopt permanent, pleasurable shifts, you’ll find this step to work way better for you to adjust and assimilate the changes into your lifestyle without turning it upside down in the process.

Crowding out means spending a few weeks and adding in one healthy food, or group at a time. When you’re only focusing on one or two small changes, it becomes much easier to manage. This might look like focusing on getting dark leafy greens in daily for two weeks and changing nothing else. This simple change will have a big impact on cravings, energy and digestion. When those two weeks are up, pick a new food group and do the same thing. Each time you do this, you’re building on a stable foundation and creating new permanent habits that will be easy to maintain long term.

Remember, these changes are simple, but will take repetition, commitment and consistency. Choose one each week for a month and spend time each day committing to making the shift and see how you feel at the end of the month.

For more help with this, reach out to me at

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The # 1 predictor of whether or not you’ll actually reach your goal

Have you ever felt stuck? Like, really, really stuck. That frustrating space where there is something that you desperately want - that you know you are more than capable of getting and for some reason, you just.don’ Maybe it’s losing weight and working out, perhaps it’s work related, or a program or course that you've half signed up for seven times and just can’t bring yourself to finish. Each time you start with enthusiasm, cutting out sugar, blocking off time in your schedule to do what you need to do and it feels so good to be on track to success. The feeling at the start every time is that this will be the time you see it through.

And then you black out.

Maybe not literally - but all of a sudden - you find yourself stalling out. Making excuses, procrastinating, snacking (or binging) and skipping the gym. Pretty soon, you've slipped back into old habits and your goals have been put on the back burner once again. This pattern leaves us feeling like we've failed, leaves us frustrated and hopeless that we just don’t have the willpower, or aren't motivated enough. You’re left with the feeling that you just might not be ‘that kind of person.’

So what does ‘the that kind of person’ have that you don’t? I’m going to say something that might surprise you and chances are you’re going to have some resistance to it. If we truly felt OK with having what we wanted, we’d already have it.

In other words, there is no such thing as self-sabotage and we work perfectly to produce the exact results we are getting, regardless of the goal. I can feel your resistance. “Vanessa - I’m not working to perfectly keep myself overweight! I really, really do want to be fit and healthy!” I absolutely believe you. This is not to discount our desire or even our commitment to the things we really truly want for ourselves. Rather, what I am suggesting is that that very desire conflicts with the number one thing that will enable or prevent you from having and keeping it.

That ‘thing’ is called Ecology.

Ecology is the sum of the three basic needs that we have as a human. It doesn't matter who you are, where you live, what you do or what you want. We are all wired to have and protect these three basic needs. Those three needs are: to feel safe, to feel loved and to feel that we belong. When any of these three basic needs are challenged or compromised we devise masterpiece artwork strategies of self-sabotage.

To understand how we do this, we have to understand how the brain works. For the sake of this piece, we’re going to discuss your “three brains” and how they interact with our three needs (love, safety and belonging) to help us receive what we want, or devise genius strategies to keep it away.

Image courtesy of Holistic MBA

Our evolutionary past:

To really understand how this works, it’s important to remember that the world in which we evolved physiologically was very different than the world in which we currently live. Our lives, safety and thus, survival of our species was often in jeopardy. We were either hunting for food, running out of it, running from our food, or relaxing, loving, playing in our pack. Because that survival was often at stake, it became critical for our brain stems (or Critter brain, as I call it) to carefully recognize and remember pattern. Any time that pattern completed and did not result in death, your brain stem considered that a victory and a safe pattern to repeat. The more times we repeat a pattern ending in anything other than death, the more times your brain stem wants you to repeat that pattern.

In our life now - this shows up as dieting, working out and then bailing or binging. Regardless of how disappointed and frustrated you are - you’re at least not dead. And that’s considered a win for your critter brain. To your critter brain - a pattern completed is a pattern repeated.

Enter the limbic system:

Where your critter brain is responsible for physical regulation and safety, your limbic system is responsible for emotion and is far more concerned with your need for love and belonging.

We’re pack animals at heart. Love is critically important to the procreation and survival of our species and belonging is as well. We need to belong to our pack to survive as young children, to feel loved and then live on to procreate.

The needs are the same as they were as we evolved, but the expression has changed in our new, modern world.

Enter the problem child, the Cortex:

Your cortex is responsible for logic, evolution, growth and change. Your cortex is the part of your brain that is excited about your new program, motivated to lose weight and challenges you to try new things, experience adventure and craves growth. Can you already sense a problem?

If you want to grow, evolve and change, then you have to do just that - you have to change. When you change, your critter brain cannot predict a pattern, can’t evaluate the risk and can’t do it’s job. To your critter brain, you’re as good as dead.

So how does this all show up?

This shows up differently in everyone. From a young age, even before we could talk, we learned the rules of the world through our experiences. Depending on how we were affected by different experiences that were either single and powerful or traumatic events, or simply an experience that was continually repeated in our lives, we wrote our ‘map’ of the world. We determined cause and effect and discovered how different things contribute to, or take away from our needs for love, safety and belonging.

As an adult, we create goals and set out to achieve them. If actually receiving that goal conflicts with any of our three needs however, we will construct magnificent ways to avoid actually receiving it.

Here’s how this shows up:

You want to lose weight. Your cortex devises a plan to start a new diet, decide to cook all of your own meals and workout everyday. It’s working wonderfully and you feel more energized and have even started to lose weight. What you hadn't considered though, is that now, when you show up to the cafeteria for lunch with your healthy, home prepared meal, you’re the only one not ordering from the work cafeteria. No big deal, says the cortex, onto bigger and better things.

A few comments from co-workers are awkwardly brushed off for a few days but after a while and 15 pounds lost, you can’t help but feel like you don’t quite identify with the group in the same way that you used to. You feel a little like the odd man out. Your cortex, concerned with your own individual growth and betterment, tells you not to worry.  Your limbic system however, concerned with love and belonging, isn’t thrilled about this. You can no longer identify with the group who laughs and relates to each other’s struggle to lose weight and share a daily meal together. A few more days go by and the feeling that you’re no longer really one of the group starts to make you feel increasingly uncomfortable during meal time.

Then one day, you oversleep and rush out the door, forgetting to grab your lunch from the fridge. You end up buying lunch that day - no big deal (cortex). What you find though, is that instantly, you feel reconnected to the group. You’re again sharing with them, even if just for a day, that you are back on the same page. Your limbic system is restored to balanced belonging.

The next day, your cortex decides that it’s back to prepping your lunch, and as you do, your mind wanders to the group and how good you felt yesterday, feeling like one of the gang again. You finish packing and head to work. During the morning coffee break, you hear your lunch mates discussing the menu for today’s meal and instantly recognize a feeling of subtle disappointment. Right before you head to lunch, you make the snap decision to leave your lunch in the fridge for later and buy ‘just one more day.’ This time, there’s a noticeable difference in how you feel. You spend another day feeling connected and related to the group and head back to your desk feeling guilty that you bailed on your healthy lunch, but somewhere deep down, is the subtle feeling of relief.

That subtle sense of relief is your limbic system re-aligning yourself with a sense of belonging. One that had been previously abandoned by your simple decision to pack your lunches. Before you know it, you’ve slowly abandoned prepping your other meals and since you’re not doing that, realized ‘there’s no point’ in going to the gym either. This masterful system is carefully constructed through the interaction of your critter brain, limbic system and cortex to keep these three needs in balance at any cost and all under the disguise of ‘self-sabotage.’

The rules you must live by:

What you learned from this experience, likely without consciously realizing it, is that becoming healthy, losing weight and changing your diet compromises your position as part of the group. Perhaps at other times in your life, you learned either by experience or witness, that to belong, you can’t be the thin, or fit if you want to feel included. Perhaps your husband is overweight, or you come from an overweight family. How will you show up to family parties and not eat the food?

This is one example of many. For others, to be thin might be considered unsafe by the critter brain if you experienced trauma in your life in a fitter, thinner state. Your promotion might compromise your sense of love if your husband or wife would be feel inadequate by your higher income. However internalized, without the green light in all three brains, you will do whatever it takes to not follow through enough to get what you want if it compromises your sense and expression of love, safety and belonging.

How to get the green light in all three brains:

In order for transformation to occur, you have to get the green light in all 3 brains. Transformation will not occur if you don’t have a green light in all 3 brains. For this to happen, the critter brain has to say its safe – it’s not a threat to survival. The limbic System has to say it’s not a threat to love or belonging and the Cortex has to be tickled by the idea – “oh, that’s interesting!”

How does your critter brain or limbic system stop you having what you truly want? Share your comments below and join us for more real talk in my private facebook group here.

My coaching programs are founded on getting the green light in all three brains each session to make sure that not only do you feel OK with receiving what you want, but you feel empowered to take action each week to make it happen.

The amazing part of this is that once you make the realization about what is really blocking you, the self-sabotaging behavior doesn't feel right anymore so those impossible tasks like planning, prepping and exercising start to feel natural and exciting.

If you’re ready to feel ready to change and stay that way, head over here to book your complimentary Body Breakthrough Session to sit down with your critter brain and get her on board.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Three Reasons to Throw Your Rule Book Out the Window and Do Whatever the Hell You Want

Last weekend Sibe, a few friends, and I went to a music festival. With every intention of enjoying a relaxed day and getting home in time to get 7 hours of sleep, we headed to Pittsburgh’s Strip District around 3 in the afternoon. I definitely didn’t plan on arriving home twelve hours later, full of too many beers, a meal that would make Paula Deen cringe--and completely happy.

Usually when I go out, I keep drinking to a minimum and eat as healthily as I can. While I rarely wake up hungover, sometimes a different funky after-feeling hovers the next day: my Inner Badass scolding me, “You’re too good. You’re missing out.”

So this past weekend I let my Inner Badass lead. For one night, I decided to forget about being good, moderation, and acting like my ideal health coach role model. Not only did it feel great, it totally re-energized the way I’ve been thinking about my life and my business.

Here are 3 reasons to throw out the rule book and do whatever the hell you want.

1.          It’s fun. Down and dirty, no guilt, fun.

“You’re no fun anymore,” my Inner Badass says. When did fun become such a guilty pleasure anyway? I used to love to go out all night dancing, talking to friends and meeting new people.

“What do you do for fun?” has become the most challenging question I ask my clients. Most don’t know because we don’t do enough of it. Why is fun something that has to wait until all of our chores are done?

Nowadays-late nights are a rarity. Luckily, I’m married to a Dutch man with a zest for life and a love for the club where his friend deejays, and last weekend, there was no way I was getting home at midnight. Result: we drank and danced all night like we did when we first met. It was totally magical and awesome to be transported back in time to those first awesome moments in our relationship. Let’s make having fun a priority.

 2. Everything in moderation, including moderation.

While I love living and eating in a healthy balanced way, I sometimes lose my balance by being too strict. I’m not saying that you have to drink all day and smash an entire pizza at 3 a.m. (although, ahem, I’m not not saying that). 

The further we shift from an all or nothing mentality, the less activity and food outside of our routine will derail us. Health is about more than eating exactly the right foods in exactly the right amounts and doing the perfect workout routines. It’s about living in a way that supports your body, so you can enjoy what really makes you feel alive. Sometimes that’s kale and sometimes it’s pizza and it’s important to know the difference.

3. When you let go of your rules, you step outside of your comfort zone. When you step outside your comfort zone, you grow.

Although I woke up with three pounds of pizza in my stomach, my Inner Badass was glowing. It felt great to break my own rules, and it made me realize how much I believe in listening to my inner voice and living as authentically as possible. As my Inner Badass would put it, “What do you want, not what should you want?” When I embraced that attitude last weekend, Sibe and I bumped into tons of our friends. It was no coincidence. We were living in our authenticity at that moment, so we attracted the people we love to join us.

The following days, I looked at the places in my life that could use more guidance from my inner rule-breaking rebel. A few areas, including my business, stood out. Keep your eyes open for some awesome changes coming up in the next few months that reflect a little more edge, rule breaking and fun. Shit just got real. 

What restrictions and rules to you impose on yourself? How might that be holding you back in areas that may seem unrelated? To reframe - if you're holding tightly onto a belief that you need to work 60 hours per week, but your inner badass doesn't want to, how does that affect other areas in your life?  In other words, what does your Inner Badass have to teach you?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What is it like to work with Vanessa - Inside Kalin's Program

Kalin is a gorgeous young woman with energy that could match a packed football stadium. You feel it instantly. She vibrates on an awesome frequency. But when Kalin sat down with me for the first time, she was feeling dark, distant and grey. Kalin approached me apprehensivey in November. She had been stuck in a rut for the past year emotionally, and physically for many years longer. She told me she was frustrated because she had been telling herself for so long that she wanted to change, and wanted certain things for her life, but her constant lack of ability to follow through had her questioning if she even knew what she wanted at all. She  had doubts in her ability to follow through with diet, exercise and just about everything else and wanted a change. She set New Years Day as a goal: not for a certain weight or distinct acheivement, but to start the first year in as long as she could remember NOT thinking about weight. She wanted to feel energized, excited and confident in herself and in her life. Here's what happened, in her own words, from her heart...

We all have a moment where we look at our lives and think, "I can do better..."

I remember lying in bed thinking to myself: HOW will I ever come out of this?

I had left school in Philadelphia right before finals (an already stressful time) to come back to Pittsburgh. My dad was in the ICU recovering from a stroke and my family and I were practically living at the hospital... My life (and everything I owned) was still in Philadelphia, but packing up my apartment and wrapping it up there was impossible at the time. Sleep was low, stress was high, and life SUCKED. Major changes were happening faster than I could cope with and because I didn't know what to do - I did nothing...

Life. completely. knocked. me. down.
I wasn't eating right, barely sleeping and I sure as hell wasn't working out. My life was completely out of balance. Needless to say, it took a few months of doing nothing before I had 'my moment.' When I did, it finally occurred to me that things were going to keep happening that were out of my control - but not taking care of myself could no longer be one of them.

You might be wondering how those events led me to Vanessa of Sweat and Butter. I didn't roll out of bed one day and think, "I wish I practiced yoga and drank green smoothies!" I rolled out of bed and thought, "I wish I was happier."

I knew I needed help getting myself back on track - and I knew I had to try something I had never tried before. The hope of potential happiness is what led me to Sweat and Butter.

If you take a look at my 'Kalinspiration' posts, you'll see how much Sweat and Butter taught me. I learned that the food I put into my body does impact my energy levels, how I feel and how I function. I learned about vitamins and what they can do for your mind. I learned how to do hot yoga, barre fitness, kickboxing, TRX and boot camp workouts. I learned that being 'healthy' is so much more than green smoothies and salmon for dinner; it's how you approach your life. Most of all, I learned that living a healthy lifestyle and being balanced is more about shifting your mentality from thinking you can't to believing you can - and committing yourself to that belief. 

Before I started working with Vanessa, I was always living in extremes. I either took on way too much or nothing at all. No matter which extreme I was in at the time, I never made time for what is most important: my health. Working with a Health Coach helped me recognize my unhealthy patterns. Having another person to hold me accountable - helped me correct them.

When I started my 'Challenge,' I was approaching it like a finishline - a deadline I would reach and become healthy. The truth is, it's a never-ending journey - and one that I am eager to continue! Throughout my '50 Day Sweat and Butter Challenge,' I learned more about health than I ever thought I would know. I strengthened muscles and qualities in myself that have changed me as a person. With Vanessa's help, I was able to escape a really dark place in my life and regain my balance.

Most people gauge success stories in measurements: pounds lost, inches shed, muscles built. But it's really not about the changes in the 'after' photo at all. In fact, what makes a story a 'success' has nothing to do with what you lose, and everything to do with what you gain.

 Kalin Alberts, Pittsburgh, PA

I graciously thank you Kalin: for the opportunity to work together, and for you having the courage to share your story to insprire others. You can reach Kalin to hear more about her experience or ask her your questions at and check out her entire program photo journal on instagram @kalinspiration.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Why Prioritizing Your Relationship is Actually Hurting It

Break-up Bucket Lists were going viral this week, listing the top 50 things to do after a break up or divorce. Alongside the obvious suggestions like speed dating, dating people outside of your type and one night stands are some other items that concerned me. They include ideas like: take a trip alone, buy flowers for myself, meditate, get a massage, swim in the ocean naked, learn to say no, learn to say yes and many more. 

The lists suggest a very true and unhealthy common relationship behavior. In an attempt to prioritze the relationship or our partner, we stop doing things for ourselves and by ourselves. Instead, we absorb into the relationship and sort of merge into one person. In doing so, we leave behind the little mini passions and interests that we had at the start. 

My husband travels for work two weeks at a time, spending a week at home in between. When he's home, I try to rearrange my schedule so that I have maximum time for him. ​On his most recent trip home, we got into a bit of an argument over a comment he made about me not spending enough time working. Unaware that I had rearranged my schedule for him, he assumed our week of lounging and eating out was my norm. I was hurt and offended that he didn't appreciate my hard work or efforts to make time for him. Feeling unappreciated, it dawned on me, though, that we all clear our schedules for our partners in little ways all the time. While we do it out of love, it often goes unnoticed by ourslves and our loved ones. 

Whether it's waking up early to pack everyone's​ lunches instead of meditate, or saying​ 'no' to some much needed alone time when your partner is off of work, we regularly make small sacrifices to our own growth and life for the benefit of our relationships. Even deciding just a few nights a week to bask in the comfort of your loved ones and your couch instead of going to that book club or yoga class compiles over the years to mute our passions and stifle our own personal growth. 

Years go by and we realize that somewhere along the way, we lost ourselves. Whether or not that leads to the end of your relationship with your partner or your kids, it certainly leads to a damaged relationship with yourself. We wake up bored, overweight and unfulfilled and wonder where the excitement disappeared to.

Relationships, marriage and parenthood aren't destinations at which we arrive and hang up our personalities and personal growth for a rainy day when you're single. They are partnerships we must enter into with the agreement to cultivate three relationships at a time​:​ y​our own, your partner's and your relationship as a couple. Though compromises are inevitable, there must always be room for your your needs as an individual. You must cultivate your own passions and relationships so you feel as energized in the relationship as you did when you started it.  Keep the mystery of having two lives alive, the way it was when you first met. 

This week, make your own Bucket List--the 5 or 10 or 50 things you have been pushing aside because of your relationship. Do you really need to be single to pursue most of them? Probably not. Choose one or two that you can easily accomplish this week or this month, and go for it. Notice how pursuing your passions--whether they're cooking a meal, meeting up with a friend, or trying something bigger--deepens your sense of self. How does that change what you offer your relationship with your partner? I bet you have a friend that should read this: pass it on!

Monday, December 22, 2014

3 Reasons Why Restricting Junk Food is Actually Bad For Your Health

Have I finally lost it? Have Christmas cookies taken over my brain (I wish!)?

With the holidays in full swing the treats are a'plenty and the preparation for reluctant New Year's resolutions will be in full swing a week from now. (read here about how to set killer resolutions)

I want to challenge you to shift your thinking when it comes to junk food. Abandon the 'all or nothing' mentality and just eat the food, and enjoy it. 

Here are the top 3 reasons why deprivation and restriction ruin your health and 8 steps to eat junk without derailing and gaining weight

1) Deprivation increases your brain's reward response to food

This means that if you restrict food from your diet, your brain will actually react more strongly (pleasurably) when you finally do eat it than it did when you cut it out in the first place. A study by the Oregon Research Institute found that "abstaining from food intake for longer durations of time increases the reward value of food, which may lead to poor food choices when the individual eventually does eat." Though this study specifically evaluates overall calorie restriction, many attempts to restrict a particular food, like sugar, coincide with an overall restriction of food in an attempt to lose weight. Bad move. Restriction is almost impossible to keep up (thanks to our Amygdala) and will likely cause you to overeat when you finally cave. And you will cave.

2) You likely eat more junk than you believe you do

Most of us have a pretty poor memory when it comes to what we eat. What did you eat for breakfast today? How about yesterday? What about lunch four days ago? We think that we're keeping good mental track of our food intake, but in reality, we remember very little about what we eat day to day. We do remember the feelings and emotions we associate with food. For  example, if you are always telling yourself that you shouldn't eat sugar, you're more likely to believe that you don't eat very much sugar. So when you come face to face with that snowman cupcake, you're more likely to indulge because you honestly believe that "you never do this." The best way to find out how true that really is, is to keep a food journal for three weeks. You'll likely be surprised at how often you really do indulge. Which leads to reason three.

3) Restriction leads to all or nothing/binge cycles 

The game looks a little like this: You stress often about not eating junk and so you tell yourself and believe that you rarely indulge. So when you finally do allow yourself, you eat
 way more than you otherwise would because "you never do this" and aren't "going to do it again any time soon." So instead of eating one bowl of ice cream, you eat the entire pint so it's not there tomorrow. Wouldn't want to eat it two days in a row, now would you? While you're at it, why bother working out? No amount of reps at the gym tonight are going to burn that off. We'll call this day a loss. But shit, now you've eaten the entire pint of ice cream and skipped the gym, so you feel guilt and shame. Enter the new motivation and self loathing. You're not going to do that anymore, are you? From now on, no more ice cream. Do not pass GO, do not collect two hundred dollars, go right back to the beginning and get your ass back into body jail. Sometimes these cycles can last days and some can last for months, gaining tens of pounds in the binge/nothing phase.

So if you want to lose weight and you're not supposed to deprive yourself of the foods that make you fat, how are you supposed to eat junk and still lose weight?

Here are 8 tips to eat whatever you want without going overboard and gaining weight:

1. Give yourself permission to eat whatever you want, whenever you want

Much of our desire to eat crap comes from telling ourselves that we're never allowed to do it. Our inner rebel wants to eat it just because we're not supposed to. Let up a little on your tight grip and watch the desire diminish.

2. Eliminate the concept of "cheating" and "rewards"

Similarly to number one, "cheating" and "rewarding" yourself with the same food is a big of a mind mess. Instead of cheat days, just eat the food if you want it so badly. Just make sure you enjoy it. Instead of rewarding yourself with junk, reward yourself with healthy habits, like a massage or manicure. Indulge when you want, reward yourself with some great non-food treats and you will eliminate the confusion.

3. Cultivate a relationship of caring for your body, not fighting it

Despite how it may feel, your stomach fat isn't out to ruin your life. Your body is a physical manifestation of the choices you make and belief system that you hold. Your current form is your body's best efforts to maintain itself despite crash diets, binge drinking and constant bad mouthing from your brain. Cut your gut a little slack. Instead, try to work in partnership with your body. If you're not feeling your best, take a step back and evaluate what you can do to better care for your soul's temple. Your body craves nutrients, and responds well when it gets them on the regular.

4. When you do indulge, really indulge

Upgrade your junk food. You can indulge in chips, ice cream and beer without eating Doritos, Little Debbie and Miller Lite. Try exploring the aisles of Whole Foods and make the switch to gourmet, hand made ice cream sandwiches, baked chips and organic craft beers. The price tag is usually higher, which means you'll buy less of them and probably less often. If your ice cream sandwich is five dollars, you'll probably just buy one, which means you can't eat the whole box. But holy crap are they delicious and worth every single calorie, bite and penny.

5. Add healthy foods in before or after, even if you're full

Eat more?! Junk food doesn't provide your body with any nutrients. Eating high sugar and salt foods that lack nutrients sends your body into crave-mode. Your body has to communicate that it isn't getting what it needs but can't tell you that it's time for a dose of magnesium. So you begin to crave in hopes that you'll eventually eat something with nutrients. So even if you've already had pizza and ice cream, choke down a green smoothie or a salad so that your body still gets what it needs. This will prevent you from continuing to eat junk for three more days. 

Bonus tip: do this before you eat the junk and you'll eat even less.

6. Continue with other healthy habits after, instead of deciding that you've failed

Accept gourmet indulgences as part of your routine. Deciding that these foods are just as much a part of your life as the healthy ones can be transformational. When you accept indulgence as reality, you eliminate the feeling of the need to be constantly starting your diet over. This is critical for breaking the all or nothing/binge cycle. After indulging, keep going on your merry, healthy way. Take out the trash and hit the gym. Business as usual here, folks.

7. Add some luxury non food indulgences

Binge on luxury indulgences instead of food from time to time. Get a massage with a friend, buy a $50 candle, organic body products or shower balls. Work a little more pampering and self-care into your routine and your need to binge on junk food will depreciate accordingly. A hot shower with a lavender shower ball trumps a pint of Ben and Jerry's any day. Ok that's a flat out lie, but it definitely does from time to time.

8. Maintain some non-negotiables

Junk or no junk, binge or not, add these ingredients to your "Non-negotiable, I will never eat" list. Hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners and artificial coloring. These foods are 100% toxic crap. In fact, they're not even food. Hydrogenated oils interfere with your body's ability to control hunger, metabolism and weight regulation. Each type of artificial sweetener comes packaged with its own toxic aftershock and artificial colors carry numerous health impacts. See a comprehensive list and health affects here.

When it comes down to it, eating junk is a part of life. Parties will always have sugary snacks and not all of your friends will be down to go to Whole Foods for lunch. The sooner you can make peace with this reality, the faster you will be on your way to joyfully accepting the balance of indulgence without derailing and losing weight for good. Turns out, you can have your cake and eat it too, just maybe not the whole thing.

Happy Holidays!

With love,


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