Thursday, August 27, 2015

The #1 Healthy Habit you NEED To Ditch If You Want To Really Start Losing Weight

I get asked all of the time: 

"What is the biggest mistakes women make in dieting?"

The surprising thing is that the “mistakes” that women are making aren’t actually unhealthy. They think that they’re doing the right thing to lose weight because they're following the rules they've been taught. What's actually happening though, is that they’re slowing their metabolism and killing energy, sex drive and fun - and still not really losing weight. 

No gracias.

In this series I’ve been sharing what those healthy mistakes are, why they work against your weight loss goals and what to do instead. 
You'll be thrilled to ditch #3 and #2 if you haven't read them yet.

In this post, we’re taking it to exercise to figure out how to turn your body into a fat burning machine for hours after you work out and save you tons of time and money in the process. Feeling sexier, with more time and cash to spend in your skinny jean pockets? Sign me up. I’m also going to give you an action step to get you and your scale moving in the right direction.

When it comes to exercise – the biggest mistake women make is spending marathon cardio sessions trying to run/walk off the pounds. While cardio of any kind is great for conditioning the lungs and heart, detoxing the body and beautifying the skin – it’s a pretty crappy weight loss method.

You may notice results at the beginning because you start to burn more calories. This effect wears off after a while though (watch my first video to learn why) and you usually just wind up hungrier.

When it comes to fat burning efficiency two things are important. The first is strength training. You may have heard that when you have more muscle than fat, your metabolism goes up. When you eat food your body converts it to blood glucose. This is basically sugar that your cells use as energy. Muscle cells are better at consuming blood glucose and your fat cells just store up what the muscle cells don't need. So if you have more muscle, you have more muscle cells, and the more muscle cells you have, the more blood glucose they use – which means your fat cells don’t need to stalk – or bulk up!

I know you’re a busy B though and I’m all about efficiency. I’d crawl to my front door, weighed down by my groceries, before I’ll make two trips. You have shit to do and places to go. Two hour workout sessions aren’t happening. Lucky for you I’m here to help you remove our excuses and barriers to getting what you want.

When it comes to working out for weight loss, there’s one kind of workout you need to be doing three times a week to get the results you’re working for.  High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT.

HIIT basically means that for 20-30 minutes you’re working in short intervals of max effort and even shorter periods of rest. If you’re training near your max (85-90 percent) then a 20 minute session is plenty. The thing that makes HIIT so effective, aside from the fact that you’re gunning it, is that it incorporates strength training into it. This means in 20 minutes you’re getting strength training AND your cardio in a third of the time - and getting way more results than an hour of running.

The cherry on top is that you can do it with just body weight at home. This means time saved commuting and money saved in gym memberships and trainers. The big take away is that your heart rate stays high when you’re “on” and the moves include weight training for most of your muscle groups at once.

My favorite HIIT training website is They post a new workout everyday so you never get bored. So good.

Time for your action step. Knowledge without action doesn't create change.

If you don’t have a workout routine - time to get started. Get your planner out and schedule in your three sessions this week. 20 minutes, 3 times in the calendar and commit. As always, if you’re just starting a fitness routine, check with your doc first to make sure everything is in working order.

So that’s it. Three simple switches to take the healthy habits that are keeping you from losing weight and create less counting, more satisfying meals and more time and money with less fat.

When we think of dieting and weight loss – often our minds go right away to deprivation and being miserable. When you know what to do and the easiest, most enjoyable and efficient ways to do it – it doesn’t have to be a painful frustrating process. Sometimes the advice we’ve been following is just plain bad or simply wrong for our bodies.

If you're trying to lose weight and you're not having fun, then you're doing it wrong. Does that sound like you? Then book your "I Have Better Things To Do Than Diet" Strategy Session to discover more easy tweaks to take you out of struggle and into strength.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Top 3 Healthy Habits That Are Keeping You Fat - And What To Do Instead - Number 2

    3 healthy habits you need to ditch (in 1990) - because they're keeping you fat.

In this series of 3 posts – I’m revealing the top 3 healthy habits that are keeping you fat! Yep. You read that right. These are healthy habits that are just simply screwing you in terms of weight loss. 

    In the first post – I busted open habit number 3 - why counting calories instead of quality and eating less and exercising more is actually making it impossible to lose weight (read here)!

This swap for #2 will get you losing weight in a delicious way.

In this post – I’ll be revealing number 2, and the simple swaps that you can make to reverse the trend and lose weight effortlessly and deliciously. I'll also tell you how to kick that “I feel like something else” after dinner feeling.

So here it is, number 2: Cutting out fat.

Cutting out fat is one of the biggest mistakes I see women make. This myth got it so wrong that cutting out the fat not only destroys your metabolism and cellular function, but is absolutely dangerous to your heart health.

You need fat. Period.

Fat is essential for shiny hair and young skin, helps form the cell walls of every cell in your body (generally a good indication that we need it), and is used in hormone production and vitamin absorption.

     Cutting the fat out of your diet is like taking an essential ingredient out of your recipe for bread. If you leave out the yeast, the bread is a cracker. Fat is an essential ingredient to your body. Without it, you're as dry and boring as a saltine - just a little chubbier.
      Cutting out fat just made us fatter.

     The food industry started taking the fat out of food in the 1960s when the national obesity rate was skyrocketing and the government needed a solution to change policy to combat the growing size of the country.

Since then, obesity rates have continued to rise, along with heart disease, diabetes and other inflammatory health conditions. One of the reasons for this is that when you take the fat out of food, you take out the flavor. Sugar was then added in its place so your food doesn’t taste like cardboard. Sugar, we’ll talk about in another video, but let’s just say aside from its many, many detrimental health effects, will also prevent you from losing weight.

Putting fat back in makes us thinner, more satisfied and happier.

Fat keeps you satiated way longer than carbohydrate-rich foods (anything made from a flour and whole grains) because it's more slowly digested in the gut, and it doesn't cause the massive spike in insulin, a hormone that is used to control your blood sugar levels, that you see with sugar and carbohydrate consumption. 

     If insulin levels are chronically elevated, your body tissues may become resistant to it, which is an early step towards diabetes and weight gain.  In addition, when there are regular spikes and drops in insulin – your body views it as a sign of stress and releases cortisol, a hormone that packs on weight in the middle and messes up your sleep cycle. Weight loss is possible only when this metabolic derangement is corrected, meaning re-sensitizing your tissues to insulin through physical exercise and increased fats (usually, this also leads to naturally less carbohydrates in the diet).  

Here's how to add it back in the easy and delicious way:

3 steps to making up with fat in your diet and breaking up with the fat on your body – for good – and in a seriously delicious way!

1) Here are my simple swaps (listed below) to switch out the fats that pack on weight for healthy, metabolism and brain boosting fats.

2) Add a healthy fat to every meal to slow down the spikes insulin and regulate blood sugar levels so your body knows that it’s OK to release weight – especially around the middle.

3) Keep healthy fats as a regular part of  your snacks to help you feel more satisfied when you eat and ward off the “I just want something else…” after meal feeling.

     Video three will make you hotter, richer and give you hours of your day back.

In video three I’ll be revealing the number 1 healthy habit that is sabotaging your weight loss. I’ll also share my number 1 way to reverse the trend, saving you hours in the process and supercharging your weight loss and strength results – and save you money in the process!

     Simple fat swaps:

Cooking Fats:

Best Oils for high heat cooking: Swap out your olive oil and margerine for:

-       Coconut Oil
-       Walnut Oil
-       Sesame Oil
-       Butter (grass fed, organic)

Oils for dressing and sauces: Swap out your bottled dressings for:

-       Olive oil
-       Flax/borage oil

Oils to Avoid: These oils are high in Omega 6 fatty acids and generally lead to inflammation.

-       Vegetable Oils / Canola Oil
-       Safflower Oil
-       Palm Oils
-       Corn Oil

Avoid at all cost: These oils destroy your metabolic function and pack on the pounds
Any Hydrogenated Oils

-       Hydrogenated oils

*Note - sometimes you have to look at the ingredients to determine if there are hydroenated oils in food. Anywhere you see Trans fats or hydrogenated _____ oil, avoid!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Top 3 Healthy Habits That Are Keeping You Fat

The food and fitness world are full of conflicting rules.

The food and fitness worlds are filled with conflicting information and outdated “rules.” As a general rule, the best nutrition and fitness guidelines to follow are the ones that work for your particular body, but there are a few that just don’t cut it if your goal is to get cut and lose weight.

I’m going to tell you which rules to break to lose weight the easy way.

In this three part series I’m going to share the top three healthy habits that are keeping you from losing weight – and what to do instead to lose weight and get strong and fit – fa’ good!
With action steps to take now to start burning fat for good.

I’m also going to share an action step at the end of each video so you know exactly how to stop making the healthy mistake and start turning your body into a fat burning, metabolic machine.
Let me preface this by genuinely appreciating you for having committed to these nutrition and fitness guidelines for so long and then lovingly and strongly suggest that you stop. It’s not that these are unhealthy, but they are counterproductive to your goal if your goal is to lose weight.

Let the countdown begin.

Number 3: Calories don’t matter.
I know this is going to be hard to believe, but calories do not matter as much as we’ve been told. The old rule “eat less and exercise more” will actually make you GAIN weight in the long term. Eating less and exercising more tells your body that we’ve got a major problem and it’s that we’re starving. Short term, you may see results. But long term, starvation sends a cascade of hormonal signals to keep you packing the pounds on and send you scarfing down the first crap you can find. Dropping calories below intake (or burning) makes sense when you’re playing a numbers game but your body doesn’t operate on numbers, it operates on nutrients.

Your body is a computer that runs on nutrients instead of code.

Think of your body like a computer. Computers run on code. When there’s a break in the code or a piece missing, the programs start to malfunction, slow down, or stop all together (you know it’s bad when that blue screen with all the random letters pops up). Your body works similarly. Only instead code, it runs on nutrients. Each of the hundreds of systems in your body needs nutrients, vitamins and minerals (like code) to function at its peak.

When nutrients go missing, systems break down.

When nutrients go missing, systems, including your metabolism, start to slow or come to a screeching halt. The really amazing this about the body is that if you’re getting the right nutrients in the right amounts, you naturally start to eat the right amount. Your body’s appetite mechanism will shut down when it gets the right nutrients (or code), so you don’t have to do any of the work.

Calorie counting weight loss foods short change you on nutrients.

Focusing on calorie counting typically includes picking processed and packaged foods that are marketed as healthy weight loss foods. These foods play the numbers game beautifully – but fail miserably at the nutrient game and leave your body’s appetite mechanism searching for more. You experience this as cravings.

Here’s what to do instead.

Swap out the calorie counting for an emphasis on high nutrient-dense foods. Dark leafy greens like kale, cabbage, collards, spinach, bok choy, brussel sprouts and arugula take cake on nutrient punch. But all veggies provide different nutrients.

Color and variety are key. Mix it up. Eat a big serving of vegetables at each meal and watch video two for the exciting reason that adding butter to your veggies will help you lose weight – especially around the belly.

Your action step.

Start each day this week with a nutrient-packed green smoothie. My favorite chocolate peanut butter morning milkshake is below!

In video two, I’m going to share the number one food you have to make up with if you want to lose weight…trust me, you’re going to like it!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Burning Milkshake:

2 Handfuls of spinach (big ones!)
Small handful of unsalted peanuts (or 2 Tablespoons of natural peanut butter)
2 Tablespoons of ground flax
1 Tablespoon of Maca Powder (great for the sex drive and thyroid – but we’re most excited about the sex part!)
½ of a banana (Whole if you want it sweeter)
Almond milk to the level of thickness you like your milkshake
Blend a ton and serve topped with chunks of frozen dark chocolate

*The chocolate falls to the bottom and you get it last! Let’s be honest – this is the entire reason I drink the shake.

Discover which other healthy habits you’re making that are keeping you from losing weight with a Sexy and Strong Strategy Session!

If you're trying to lose weight and you're not having fun, then you're doing it wrong. Does that sound like you? Then book your "I Have Better Things To Do Than Diet" Strategy Session to discover more easy tweaks to take you out of struggle and into strength.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How Stress Affects Your Weight - And My Top Tip To Reduce Stress Immediately

In this two part article and video series I'm going to tell you the surprising reason that relaxing and having fun will actually help you lose weight. I'm also going to share with you my top tip for physically lowering your stress immediately and one for keeping it down for good.

I recently did a survey to find out what was missing from women's lives. Here are some of the answers I received:

Connect with more people
Feel satisfied with what I accomplish
Stress less
Wake up early, do yoga, hike
Spend more time with other women and feel less lonely
New and exciting

I see this often with my clients. On our never ending to do lists, stress, work and "shoulds" dominate the top of the list and fun, relaxation and self care fall to the bottom. And let's get real - the bottom of a to do list is a grave yard for dreams. 

Relaxing and having fun aren't just a bonuses for getting your work done. It's actually super important for losing weight and being physically healthy. When you stress, your body pumps a hormone called cortisol into your body. Very basically, it's a physical response evolved to help you outrun something that is trying to eat you. It kicks your body into survival mode. To your body - the best way to survive is to pack on weight. It's a physical response that made a lot of sense when our only stressors were starving - or becoming something else's dinner. 

Cortisol is also used to help control blood sugar levels - which directly impacts your weight. So when you stress out all the time - your cortisol levels are all over the place - which means your body will have a tougher time regulating blood sugar levels and therefore weight.

This is a pretty simplified explanation of a more complex process but the takeaway is this:

Today - our stressors are different,but the response is the same. Less stress helps control cortisol spikes which in turn helps your body better regulate blood sugar levels and this directly allows your body to release stored fat - after all, you're no longer in survival mode. You don't need to save that muffin top for later...

So let's do it. Ditch the stress right now. When we're all worked up and stressed out - it's not enough to just "not stress" or change your thoughts - you have to change your physiology and lower the stress response and get your brain back. Here's my number one trick for getting your body out of survival mode and into fun fat burning mode in 2 minutes. 

It's called 5-5-7 breathing. 

Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, inhale for 5 seconds, hold the inhale for 5 seconds and then exhale for 7 seconds.This is one cycle. Repeat this cycle 5 times. Notice how much calmer you feel. Breathing deeply actually physically lowers your body's stress response. Repeat this several times a day and each time you'll be taking your body out of survival mode and into thriving.

My top tip for staying relaxed:

Now take this zen body of yours and keep that stress response down with my top tip for keeping stress down. Plan at least one thing each week that gets you out of your routine and doing something unproductively fun. Seriously - get out your planner and schedule it in - non negotiable time for fun. When you have it scheduled into your week you don't end up not doing it because you thought of it too late and it fell through. You also can use it as fuel to get through the week knowing that you have some stress free, non productive fun to reset you for the next. I'd love to hear what you do for fun - share below or invite me next time!

In the follow up - I'm going to talk about how having fun and relaxing actually changes your relationship with food - putting an end to emotional and bored eating for good.

Join me the 18th of July for an hour and a half to destress with an easy yoga hike

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hey, I’m Vanessa. I love that you’re here. Just by you reading this, I know you’re the kind of person who wants more. And wanting more is a good thing. You’re the kind of person who appreciates what you have, but knows that there is always more to get out of life and more to discover about yourself.  Maybe you feel like you’re not totally living up to your full potential and playing small and safe. While playing small and safe feel good in the moment, it often leaves us feeling unfulfilled and low energy. On the flip, maybe you’re an adventure junkie. Just the word adventure gets your blood pumping. With every adventure you learn more about yourself and push your limit just a little further. Perhaps you’re an adventure addict. This is me now.

That wasn't always me though. I always had a drive for adventure. When I was younger, it showed up as restlessness. A need to go anywhere other than here. I volunteered in Kenya, backpacked much of the world, took all inclusive vacations moved countless times in the five years after college. I saw beautiful places, met incredible people, held bizarre jobs, and reshaped my view of the world. Initially, I booked a one way ticket to Australia with the plan to be gone for a year and teach English in Thailand. I ended up staying gone nearly 3 years, never taught a day of English and came back home with my now Dutch husband.

Here was the catch. I needed to stay gone. I was an adventure addict. Not because I loved adventure so much, but I was afraid to come back. I didn’t know how to go back to normal life. See, an adventure addict is someone who loves the unknown, the lack of structure and planning and thrives on the high of ‘figuring it out’ no matter where you are. You master living with almost no money and little possessions, you get hooked on the new faces you meet and beautiful environments and the idea of ‘normal’ life scares you. Without global and dramatic adventure, I feared life would be boring and so I stayed gone.
These days, my craving for adventure is as strong as ever, but shows up differently. I still love a good one way plane ticket, but I realized that the excitement of taking a big trip isn’t all that different than taking a solid one day road trip to a nearby lake, trying a new sport that knocks you on your butt 20 times in an hour or taking a walk alone in a park without your phone or music to distract you. For me, it was just as much an adventure to stay put. I needed to learn how to get the same excitement in my daily life.

The thing about adventure is that it’s different for everyone. Not everyone would buy a one way ticket with no plan for arrival. Not everyone would want to stay put either. The trick to a real adventure is stepping outside of your comfort zone. For some that means being somewhere unfamiliar, and for others, it means staying put.  When you step outside of your comfort zone, you grow. Being outside of your comfortable environment naturally produces a different thought pattern.

3 Reasons to go on an adventure
  1)      We don’t realize how much of our behaviors, thoughts and beliefs come from triggers in our environment. By simply changing your environment, you have access to a different and more creative level of thinking. You get full access to the part of you that doesn’t always get to run the show. When you remove the environmental triggers, you get the opportunity to rewrite the thought patterns, behaviors or beliefs that really no longer serve you.
  2)      It’s fun. Two of the toughest questions that I ask  my clients are “what do you want?” and “what do you do for fun?” Fun and joy for no reason are so absent in our daily lives.  We spend the majority of our time working crossing our to-do list and the majority of our mental time and space worrying about both of those. Fun and activities that bring us joy, and ultimately fulfillment, get placed at the bottom of to-do lists. And if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that our to-do lists never truly end. We continue to place the important tasks at the top, allowing the items (fun) at the bottom never to be completed. We tell ourselves that when we have more time we’ll get to the good stuff. We actually have it backwards and here’s why:
  3)      Here is how the brain works in decision making. When you feel good, you make good choices. When you feel bad, you make bad choices. So our physical and mental state largely determine the choices we make. Not the other way around. Have you ever tried to go on a diet, only to find that it was easier to make good choices once you had already lost some weight? You started to feel good when you lost weight, so you started to make better choices because the better choices felt better. When presented with two options, your brain will reach for the one that feels better in the moment, even if it has negative consequences. So we need to get ourselves into a state where we feel good so the choices we need to make feel easy.

That’s exactly what this retreat is all about. Feeling.Good.
At this full day retreat at Moraine State Park, you’ll step outside of your comfort zone and physical environment to spend the day feeling great. Sunshine, laughter, paddle boarding, yoga, and massage will get you into the physical state of feeling great. From there, I’ll coach you to figure out what’s keeping you stuck and learn how to identify and rewrite the beliefs you have about yourself and the world that limit your achievement, relationships, growth and joy.

You’ll get familiar with your own mental process and how your automatic thought patterns subconsciously run the show and how to take back control. You’ll identify the triggers that signal your brain to continue unwanted bad habits and use those same triggers to create habits that make you healthier and happier. It’s all about feeling good.

By stepping out of your everyday world and into a day designed to make you feel alive, excited, open and surrounded by like-minded people (strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet) you build and encourage confidence within yourself to take that mindset back to the day to day.

An adventure retreat is about stepping away from everyday life, disconnecting from technology so that you can discover how to make adventure, growth and joy a part of everyday life.

Here’s the road map for your adventure:

9-9:30:  Check in, team assignments, refreshments
9:30-9:45: Opening exercise
9:45-11:45: Vanessa Coaching
12-1:30:  Group 1 Paddle Board/Yoga
                   Group 2 Massage/Lunch/Etc (hiking, canoeing, lunch, meditation, small group yoga)
2:00-3:30: Group 2 Paddle Board/Yoga
                     Group 1 Massage/Lunch/Etc (hiking, canoeing, lunch, meditation, small group yoga)
3:45 Closing Exercise
4:00-5:00- Social time
5:00-9:00  EVOLVE S&B PADDLE BOARD/COOKOUT!!!! (optional)

To get you prepped for the day and feeling the excitement long after, here are the bonuses!

Access to Vanessa’s “Getting to Know your Brain” online class ($47 value)
Discover how your individual brain works to process information, interprets the world and creates and reinforces your belief system. The better you know your own brain, the more you can change it at the retreat.

Discovering your Desires Action Guide
You can’t get what you want if you aren’t clear on what you want. In order to get out of your own way, you need to know where you’re going and what you’re in the way of. We’ve become so attached to the to-do lists, “have to” and “shoulds” that we’ve detached from what we really want for ourselves. Remember those dreams? Oh yeah, we’re pulling those back out.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone checklist
What do you need to do, take and feel, to prepare yourself for stepping outside of your comfort zone more often? How do you get friends to join you? This checklist gives you everything you need to get good at adventure.

Where do I go from here guide?
When the day is over, how do you take the magic home with you? Spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally this guide gives you action steps to grow in each area.

Invitation to join the 4 week “Taking adventure home” online group program
Submersion into a day like our retreat is magical. We want to make sure the magic isn’t lost and you know exactly how to keep the growth going! Details at the retreat!

10% off any of Vanessa’s coaching programs (up to a $150 value!)

20% off of a massage of your choice at Evolve Wellness Spa ($20 value)
20% off a paddle boarding trip with Ian ($20 value)

Reserve your spot for the adventure, valued at over $800 for $199.
Only 30 spots left!

About Evolve

We are a wellness focused day spa with a passion for making people feel good. Whether it’s relief from pain, freedom from skin concerns, release of stress or an improvement in your level of happiness…you deserve to discover the best in you. We offer a range of life enhancing services including: massage therapy, acupuncture, skincare regimens, hand & foot care, private yoga and self-improvement counseling to help you achieve your personal goals. Your life should be lived joyously and beautifully…….we deliver the tools and treatments to get you there.

Evolve will be delivering the “comfort” aspect as you push yourself outside of your comfort zone. We feel that a relaxing massage in a beautiful environment is the perfect way to reward yourself for taking on the challenge to try something new and adventurous. A comfort zone is synonymous with anything that is familiar, easy and predictable. It can apply to all areas of your life whether its staying in a job that isn’t fulfilling or maximizing our potential, following (or not) a self-care regimen that isn’t achieving our goals for how we want to look and feel,  sticking in a relationship that is making us unhappy or not promoting our growth, and so on. Rewarding yourself after doing something challenging or difficult is a great way to reinforce the behavior so that it develops into a natural part of your personality.

To me, the value of pushing past your comfort zone is the development of confidence in your ability to be or achieve what you want in life. Even a small step outside your normal limits in one area of your life can resonate into the courage to take risks or try something different in other areas. Most of the success and satisfaction in my life I can attribute to the times when I have pushed myself to do something even if I was afraid and uncomfortable. Things such as completing a marathon, traveling solo overseas without a plan and not speaking the language, and starting a business with little resources or experience have all resulted in me connecting with a belief and strength within myself that has allowed me to get closer to fulfilling my dreams and knowing that I am capable of having the kind of life I desire. Complacency has no place in a life that is meant to be rich with experience, passion and adventure.

-          What do I need to wear?
o   No need to dress up here! Just wear comfortable clothes that are easy to move in. What you might wear to exercise. I’d also recommend wearing a bathing suit underneath. We’ll be outside right on the lake where the sun shines brighter, so you may want sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Check the weather as it gets closer, we’re going rain or shine baby, all part of the adventure!
-          What do I need bring?
o   There will be some downtime during the day for relaxation, reflection and rest. You’re welcome to bring any non-technological entertainment.  A book, a journal, yoga mat, whatever you’d like to fill (or not fill) the downtime. Bring a towel and a change of clothes. We’ll be providing a healthy lunch but you may want to bring snacks!
-          What If I’ve never done yoga?
o   No worries! I’m no yoga guru myself. In fact, this will be my first time trying it on the paddleboard as well, so we’ll be on this adventure together. There will be modifications and you can adjust it to where you feel good. We also may fall in, and that’s great too!
-          What if I’ve never paddle boarded?
o   Ian is an awesome instructor. He’ll guide you through everything you need to know to feel like a pro by the end of the day. Remember, it’s not about being good, it’s all about being bold and trying new. There’s no comparing or judging of any kind in this crowd, so we’ll all be there to support each other’s adventure and growth.
-          Do I have to participate in every activity?
o   You are welcome to participate in whichever activities you’d like to. Remember, part of the idea for this retreat is to try something that might push you a little outside what feels comfortable. Ian, myself and Robyn will be there to help you get past your comfort zone but feel safe and supported to take it as far as you’d like! If you choose not to participate in a particular activity, there are beautiful walks around the center that you can choose to do instead.
-          What if I can’t swim?
o   Ian will be providing life jackets for everyone.
-          Where do I go from here, what else do you have to offer?
o   The intention of this day is to discover how to build adventure into your everyday life.  You will get a guide for how to continue to take this new mindset into each area of your life as well as receive exclusive access to a 4 week online group coaching program that will teach you to integrate this sense of adventure, change and growth into your food and body, physical activity, spirituality and relationships.

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.

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