• My favorite food is cement. What's yours?

    My favorite food is cement. Well, practically. 

    It’s actually bread and cheese. In all its forms: baguettes and Mt. Tam. Quesadillas. Crackers and cheddar. Wholemeal biscuits and Stilton. Potatoes and cheese, also yes. 

    That’s what my “My Plate” always used to look like: take a plate, draw a line down the middle, stodge on one side, cheese on the other. Maybe a grape for garnish.

    And that’s … pretty much the formula for glue, right there. Very similar to cement, as far as one’s metabolism is concerned. Perhaps you know what I am talking about.  

    So, ugh! What is to be done? 

    If you share my love of stodge and want to shift that a bit, here are three things: 

    1. And this is kind of a first principle of breaking specific food habits: Addition, not subtraction. Put your effort into adding better food, rather than depriving yourself.

    2. Make that additional food vegetables. This is just obvious, right? You’ve heard it before. And according to the government and also Jamie Oliver, most of us still aren’t getting anything like 5 a day. I like to get my 5 out of the way by lunchtime, so I can enjoy some guilt-free cement at dinner. (Pasta and parmesan, yum!)

    3. Whatever that food is that you love but doesn’t really love you back, be it bread or cheese or ice cream or Twinkies, no need to make it into forbidden fruit. Here’s another principle: restraint, not restriction.

    In fact, so far from swearing off your problematic fave, you might decide to lean into it and upgrade. You could go from so-so bread and cheese to a homemade loaf and some fancy cheese you’ve never tried before. From a fancy cheese shop, even. Maybe you leave the gallon ice cream in the freezer and try a pint of crazy-flavor gelato instead.

    My upgrade this month: Sauces and dressings, which are my short suit in the kitchen. Why not to have a repertoire of good stuff to take my vegetables higher? My rational mind tells me there is no good reason for my fear of learning how to make sauces and dressings.  I’ll be documenting the attempts and the terror on Instagram Monday through Thursday during the month of February. 

    Join me if you like! Or just send me your favorite dressing recipes. MWAH!

    Okay, that's the week! I'll be back before you know it. Until then,
    👊   RESPECT! 💗  ADORE!  🙏   and thank you for reading. 

    PS  My job is to show you how to quit bingeing, quit dieting and start losing weight immediately. Most of my clients stop bingeing permanently after one meeting, even if they've been out of control for decades. Here's a page that describes how I work:

    If this is what you've been waiting for, contact me, and we'll set up a quick chat - no cost, no pressure - to see if we're a fit. 

    It's all so much quicker and simpler than you've ever been told. 

  • Ka-thunk! <- the sound of permanent cognitive change

    We've been talking about habits for a couple weeks now, and there was one last thing I wanted to mention. I used to be a project manager, and in project management there is a saying: "A plan is a picture of  how it ain't gonna go."

    That's what they say in software, anyway. In war, they say "No plan survives contact with the enemy."

    I mention this because it's January (still) and we're (still) seeing a lot of happy habit-building memes and slogans and posters at the gym. And I wish to point out this one thing because it will save us a little pain: No habit is established smoothly, perfectly and with total compliance. We don't go from one habit to the opposite habit without a few detours <- cold fact.

    But if we've been rewarding ourselves mentally when we actually do the thing we're trying to turn into a habit, we have a little mental flag in the sand. (Or the circuitry.) There's a bright spot up ahead that we can keep our eye on as we struggle back. And the quicker we find our way back, the oftener we'll do it.

    And the oftener we do it, the easier the path becomes.

    Some people would even say that staying on the path is second-best. That the whole point is getting back on after you've wandered off. That that's where everything happens.

    So again: Praise. Rewards. Plant the flag, and notice that satisfying neural ka-thunk! - the sound of permanent cognitive change - when you get back on with your habit.

  • What happens if you don't reward yourself? Spoiler: Nothing good.

    Last time we talked about acknowledging, appreciating and rewarding ourselves as a way to speed up habit change. Catching ourselves doing the right thing, and high fiving ourselves. The brain LOVES that.

    This week I want to talk about the opposite, because a common metahabit is NOT to reward ourselves. NOT to celebrate. Rather, to shrug off successes (it was nothing!), compliments (oh, this old thing!) and all manner of spotlights shining on us and any achievement, large or small. 

    (Haha just kidding! NO achievement is truly small. Not on this planet, girl.)

    Anyway, if we don’t acknowledge, appreciate and reward, it’s like moving the goalpost. It’s sending our brain the clear message: Not done yet. Not there yet. Miles to go before the reward.


    Listen, I don't know if there's any message MORE DESTRUCTIVE AND MORE PERVASIVE than "not good enough." What would make you give up faster? 

    And really, wouldn't you be smart to do so? If nothing's good enough anyway, seriously, why bother?

    We all of us already have heard that message of "not good enough" many times. Even well-meaning people give us that message once in a while.

    Evil-meaning people let us know we're not good enough all the time: the beauty industry, the diet industry, misogynists, racists and 99% of people selling something.

    So DON’T PILE ON. (That's Rule No. 1!) Don’t do their work for them. Don’t make shit worse. Don’t give yourself a reason to give up when you’re trying to make a change.

    Change is hard enough. We have to make it as easy as we can. <- Feel free to tattoo this where you'll see it.

    We can’t make it harder. So no moving the goalpost. When you’re there, you’re there.High fives! 

  • I'm giving you a gold star

    Acknowledgement, appreciation, rewards: Why are these so important? 

    We act like rewarding ourselves is optional, burdensome, maybe even inappropriate. Like, shouldn't we have grown out of this need for gold stars after second grade? 

    Nope! Rewards are not meaningless tokens. Even those little foil stars that my own second-grade teacher Mrs Doheny (RIP), bought in bulk and probably had tonsleft at the end of the year because boy, was that lady ever stingy with the gold stars.

    (This is why I love reparenting, by the way, not just because our parents may have missed a thing or two, but because we also had schoolteachers, soccer coaches, piano teachers, PE teachers, lunch ladies, other kids' soccer moms, and all manner of pseudo-parents who got in there with bad information, moved stuff around, possibly broke some nice things, and generally left our heads a bit of a mess. Which we can tidy up anytime we like.)

    But back to gold stars and why they're necessary. It's not just because we're traumatized little kids walking around in adult-sized, maybe "plus-sized" bodies. It's not just because we didn't get enough recognition when it would have benefitted us the most.

    It's because humans are built this way. Our minds are wired up to respond to rewards, and that is NOT something we grow out of. Wanting rewards and recognition doesn't mean we have arrested development. It means we're normal.

    So let's work with that structure. Let's just use praise and rewards, because it's effective to do so.

    Say you want to make a habit of eating 2 servings of vegetables per day. (You can do this by eating one cup of cooked greens or 2 cups of leafy greens, for example.) Here's how: 

    1. ACKNOWLEDGE yourself. Catch yourself doing the right thing: buying the greens, prepping the greens, eating the greens. You'll have to be paying attention, but the oftener you notice yourself doing the thing, the easier it will be to notice. (Which is another habit. You're forming a meta-habit!)

    2. APPRECIATE yourself. Do it out loud, girl! Say to yourself Look at you! You are DOING IT RIGHT NOW. Hell yes! They said it couldn't be done! They said I would never figure this out! AND YET! Here we are! Eating the broccoli. HELL, yes. Hahahahahaha! (Cackle optional.)

    3. REWARD yourself. You can actually use a gold star on a chart, if you like. Our brains don't need anything sophisticated. Stickers work great! I put mine right in my bullet journal. (You can go crazy on Amazon with Japanese stickers. Or just visit the art supply.)

    Acknowledge, appreciate, reward.

    When we give ourselves a gold star, we reinforce the habit we want to create. (Or help wreck the habit we want to break.) We put the bow on the package. The period at the end of the sentence. We tell ourselves we did it! We're there.
    And if we don't reward ourselves, we make change that much harder. More on that next time. 

  • I'm sick of eating! Have a recipe!

    Oh you guys! I am so sick of holiday food.

    Back to basics, then.

    Okay, many of you are American, and will be incredulous when I say that every Christmas, I gorge myself on fruitcake. And I think there is simply no way for us to understand each other unless you 1. grew up in a Commonwealth country where Christmas cake is taken seriously i.e. drowned in booze and thus greeted with glad cries or 2. come over to my house next December and let me feed you something that doesn’t have green cherries in it. You will die! <- my promise.

    (Note: I myself was born and raised in America, so please know that know I am a big weirdo. Still, I will try to persuade you that you are really missing something worthwhile if you lump all fruitcake in with Classic Joke fruitcake.)

    Anyway, the point is, I look forward all year to eating fruitcake, without which Christmas tastes of drought and sadness. And that’s literal, the years I start soaking the fruits in rum months in advance, and then baking the cakes and wrapping them in cheesecloth and giving them little drinks of booze once a week as the holidays approach. See? Taking things seriously.

    Then what? Then I eat tons of fruitcake at Christmas. 

    Also maybe some mince pies and gingerbread and marzipan and toffee and chocolates that people send (thank you, friends!) and gougères and eggnog and figgy pudding (jk; haven't had that since my grandmother last made it) and all manner of system-challenging foods that I get my fill of plus some and then can’t stand the sight of. 

    Every year ends this way. Sick to death of fancy food. Goodbye to all that, I say!

    And thus every year begins this way: A return to basics. The simple meal! The simple ingredients! Bring me the whole foods and nothing but the whole foods, I say.

    I noticed something was different this year, though. There was no shame in feasting. And no shame driving me to reform my eating.

    I mean, I know I’ve written about this no-shame thing, extensively, so why shouldthere be shame in feasting? 

    And yet: shame is a habit like any other, and it lingers. “Feeling fat” is a habit, and it lingers. “Needing to go on a diet, probably,” is an idea that if not found lingering in our own brain, is loitering right outside - despite the No hang out! sign you posted - and trying to get in all day, every day, especially in January. (And May.)

    It actually requires some effort and discipline to yank our attention away from these habits. Until the day that withdrawing your attention is something that actually doesn’t require effort, and that is a Great Day. That is the day I had this year, sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when I realized I was sick of party food and tired of feasting and ready to eat differently.


    So without shame, punishment, or worry about what the scale said, I sat down and adopted this excellent savory breakfast, which I've eaten a lot since, and which you might like too. It comes from the recent cookbook Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes by Alison Roman. It tastes like relief, arrival and fulfillment.

    Smashed Cucumbers with Yogurt and Savory Granola
    (adapted from Dining In)
    makes one serving

    1. Squeeze a bit of lemon or lime over a serving of plain yogurt, whatever kind you like. I like Greek.
    2. Grate a bit of garlic over it - no more than a small clove for one person - add salt and pepper, and mix
    3. Smash one small Persian cucumber or 1/3 of a long English cucumber (inside a plastic bag) or just chop and add
    4. Sprinkle the top with a few slices of green onion and some Aleppo pepper (or if you have access to them, dried and crushed pulla chiles. THEY ARE THE VERY BEST.)
    5. Add some of Alison’s Savory Granola to the top (see the book for this recipe, or just combine lots of seeds and some nuts, salt, pepper, chile flakes, and a little soy sauce, an egg white or two, and bake as you would a sweet granola). Enjoy!

    Now is a good time for me to remind you that Amazon shares some money with me if you buy a book after clicking that link (aka affiliate link). I think they'll send me about 9 cents US. But I tell you what: that book is so good I would pay THEM to share it with you. I have never made so many things in the first month of owning a cookbook ever before. It is exactly as advertised: Highly cookable.

    By the way: My job is to show you how to quit bingeing, quit dieting and start losing weight immediately. Most of my clients stop bingeing permanently after one meeting, even if they've been out of control for decades. Here's a page that describes how I work:

    If this is what you've been waiting for, hit Reply to this email, and we'll set up a quick chat - no cost, no pressure - to see if we're a fit. 

    It's all so much quicker and simpler than you've ever been told. 

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