• Well I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more ... just because I said I would?

    Just kidding! Doing something just because you said you’d do it is kind of a terrible reason to do anything.

    As a coach, obviously I am witness to too many people taking on “challenges,” setting up public commitments, and otherwise kind of bullying themselves and counting on shame to enforce some action. 

    The only reason to take on a challenge is … drumroll … because you want to. The probability that we will do something grand that we don’t sincerely want to do is approaching zero. From the south. 

    So let me always be the first person to tell you to quit doing what you don’t want to do as soon as you realize you don’t want to do it, and to feel FINE about that. 

    Walking 1,000 miles in a year, though, is actually a real goal of mine and something I want to do. The number is not the point - nor is the point to get you to listen to the Proclaimers again after 20 years.*

    The point is to do the thing, over and over. No one can walk 1,000 miles today; that’s a project you have to chip away at. You’ve got to get out there and walk almost every day, and that is something I really sincerely want to do, because it’s one of those key actions that unlock a ton of bonuses: fresh air, Vitamin D, ocean views, forest bathing, mood enhancement, the possibility of running into friends, potential beach treasure, maybe a good book at one of the Little Free Libraries on my routes, and more. 

    Nothing is going to happen on Mile 1,000 that’s not happening on Mile 16. The round number is just for fun, and makes sure I get 2.7 miles in per day, along with some bigger hikes at the weekend. 

    Key goals that tick a ton of boxes at once are one of the things my 2019 planner encourages, by the way, along with an emphasis on fun.

    The planner will only be available for the next few weeks, so if you have not begun to think about your year ahead, now’s a great time, before the holidays are really upon us, and also while I’m encouraging you to put to rest anything you no longer want to do

    Let’s have the freshest possible fresh start.

    PS  I’ve added a few preview pages for you to download, so you can sample the planner before you buy it.

    PPS  I'm running at over 105% of my mileage-to-date goal, day by day. Does this sound insanely fun to you too? If so, join me! Just hit Reply and tell me how much you love walking, too  and we will GO! (No "walking dresses" required.)


    *Haha it's actually been THIRTY years since Sunshine on Leith came out. We were babies!

    Image: Magazine of Female Fashions of London and Paris. No. 31: London, September, 1800: Walking Dresses, R. Phillips, 1800, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

  • Now's a good time to plan for 2019.

    If you want to have a great 2019, that is.

    If you are in the US, I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend. And I hope you are not among the many Americans who are consumed with regret about what they ate. Trivial! Wherever we are in the world, what we ate last week is in the past. Let’s leave it there, and do something a lot more fun right now: LET’S THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE.

    Specifically, 2019. Could be our best year so far! Exceeding in greatness even 2018! If we want it to. And if we make a little room for that.

    I like to make room for greatness, delight, pleasure and self-cultivation via a little open-ended planning process. Sketching out the year in a desirable form, always with space left for something even better, because who knows?! Plan for the best, and secretly expect the even better.

    Here is one example: a couple weeks ago I met my physical therapist for a body-composition check. He pinched me with calipers at the arm, hip and thigh, measuring my jiggly bits, and said this:

    "YOU HAVE HIT A RARE AIR. It is extremely unusual for a 58-year-old woman who is not new to exercise to gain this much lean body mass" <- that’s muscle AND bone, dear reader! I am a crone with fresh muscle and bone, and I could not be more pleased about this.

    Here I am about to pick 120 lbs up off the floor in one stylish move, on my own power without even the aid of mascara! Big improvement from barely being able to bend at the knees in 2017:

    Anyway, how did this miracle happen?! How did I go from being a person who could walk all day, sure, but was kinda weak and flabby - to being someone who’s deadlifting nearly her whole body weight? How did that happen? 

    Here’s how: I thought about what I wanted in my 2018, and kicking ass was on that list. Bone loss was not. So I sat down, and I did some planning. 

    And it was really fun.

    Note: I did not make resolutions, because resolutions are not fun. Talking harshly to myself, also no. 

    But planning is fun! Reviewing is fun! Self-discovery is SUPER FUN.Doing the things I most want to do for myself is so much fun. Having my physical therapist say "You’ve gained five pounds of new muscle and bone mass" is the most fun ever. Having him say "You’re gonna be harder to kill": Hilarious fun. Putting more and more weight on my barbell: fun fun fun! 

    (And weightlifting is just one example, by the way. I had an all-around fantastic 2018, I made some wonderful new friends and took a bunch of beach days and increased my income and saw beautiful things and none of that was accidental.)

    If the journey is the goal - and it always is - then planning should be a total lark. Thus, I offer you a completely delightful and extremely effective tool, for you to download, print and enjoy the fruits of. You can avail yourself of the good times and get this planner by clicking right here.

    I hope you will grab it and make use of it, because whatever your ambitions for 2019 are, making space for them by planning increases your odds of success 1000s of times.

    PS  I have emphasized fun here. But I assure you this is also a very effective process.

    Either way, I wish you your best year yet, no matter what.

  • Good in the beginning, good at the end.

    Good in the middle, too!

    Oh you guys! I'm getting so excited about 2019!!!

    This is why: Because it's been a really fun 2018, and I am just deciding to carry on with more fun next year, too. WHY NOT.

    I've started doing my planning for the year, using a really lightweight and very enjoyable process, because planning and goals should be Good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end*, not just when you hit the target.

    * This by the way is a solid principle by which you can evaluate any undertaking. Does it promise to be good at the end, even if it sucks in the beginning and especially the long or messy middle? Lies. Do not fall for that.

    Struggling struggling struggling, failing to have fun, finally hitting the goalpost? THAT IS NEVER SATISFYING. Struggling just leads to more struggle. 

    I propose when thinking about the future, we follow that rule and insist on fun in the beginning, enjoyment in the middle and celebration at the end

    Thus, next week I will have ready for you a planning process you can download and use to review your 2018 and plan your 2019. Like everything I offer, it's flexible, lightweight and simple. It will be completely affordable.

    And every single moment you spend on it should be delightful and ultimately useful.

    Here's an example of one of my fun goals for 2019:

    Yep! It's COOKBOOKS. I've chosen 12 books, one for each month of the year. The goal is to pick one at the beginning of the month, and make one full menu from it every week. Actually, it's a multi-goal: 

    1. Revive Sunday lunch. If I cook it, I bet they will come.
    2. LEARN. I never want to not be learning. It's what I came here for!
    3. Support and promote women, including women of color. 
    4. Save room for dessert.
    5. Make my cookbook habit start paying me back.

    I am so excited! I hope you will join me.

    Image: Olifant op boek (schets), Leo Gestel, c. 1935 - before 1936, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission

  • But my problem is EMOTIONAL EATING! (Isn't it...?)

    That feeling is almost gone.

    What can we actually do with emotions?

    A common instruction for ending “emotional eating” is “Step 1: Process your emotions.” 

    Sometimes people then say 2. “See what’s underneath the emotion. There will be a need you must take care of in order not to eat, which is a ‘fake need.’”

    This is all wrong.

    Let’s start with processing your emotions. Have you ever tried that? Did you discover what I have discovered, which is that you can no more “process” an emotion than lifting a cat off your lap “processes” that cat or shooing a bumblebee off your breakfast “processes” that bee? Nor would petting the cat process it. No more than letting the bee sting you processes the bee.

    There is nothing you can do to process an emotion. We are not given that power.

    In fact, there is nothing we need to do at all in regard to emotions.

    Emotions come, stay, and go, all on their own. We can ignore them. We can be distracted by them. We can distract ourselves from them. We can pay attention to them. We can witness them. We can experience them in any way they come to us, for as long as they’re there - which according to science is about 90 seconds, by the way.

    Yep! Ninety seconds, tops. In other words, the average emotional experience lasts much less time than it takes to walk to the donut shop or even the vending machine on the third floor.

    Now THOSE are processes. And they are happening in a different space altogether from the emotional space.

    So I am not saying there aren’t difficult emotions. There are emotions that are quite hard to be with, especially in contrast to being with a dozen donuts. Fury and grief come to mind. 

    But grief doesn’t lead inevitably to bingeing anymore than lemon bars lead invariably to ecstasy, no matter how good they are. So you don't need to process grief to avoid bingeing.

    Oh, and the fact that you eat "too much" while grieving is not an indication that you are doing grief "wrong." <- good to know!

    Here's how it is: NO EMOTION CAN BE PROCESSED TO GIVE YOU ANY RESULT OTHER THAN BEING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT EMOTION. Which will happen anyway, in about a minute, The End.

    I understand my claim flies in the face of common wisdom about eating. I go against virtually every therapist out there when I say you don’t need to do ANYTHING AT ALL with your emotions. 

    (Oh and that there's nothing to get to the bottom of, either. At least nothing you need to know in order to change your eating.)

    But no need to pick up what I’m putting down without doing your own investigation. Look at your history, and observe your present. Are emotions and eating the same processes, or different? Is there something you can reliably do with your emotions that leads to a good outcome with your eating?Like, every time? Has that ever been true, even once?

    I think not. But there is a strategy you can use for a good relationship with food, and it works all the time, and the world calls that “eating meals.” It works when you’re happy, it works when you’re sad, and it even works when you’re mad as hell and might decide not to take it anymore.

    PS You might be wondering but What about depression? What about being in love? Those are definitely experiences that always change the way we eat, but they're not emotions. They're states. Lots to talk about here. Let's do that soon.

  • Not every habit is worth breaking today

    Build a ladder instead.

    Start wherever you're actually willing to start.

    Now then! Body of Knowledge Weekly, a lightweight email accountability program, has been going for a couple weeks now. Something I’m seeing that makes me proud, happy and extremely optimistic is the way everyone is focused on a few things. Nobody is planning to scale a mountain this week. Everybody has a short list of actions to take and habits to break. Most of them are VERY short lists.

    Which is an excellent plan and a great way to create early success. The kind of success you can build on for more success. And so on until things that seemed impossible are just … kind of impossible to remember as something that used to bug you.

    I don’t really like the idea that we self-sabotage. I’m not sure it makes sense to call the saboteur part “us.” But I’m acquainted with the behavior we mean when we say self-sabotage. And one of the most effective ways to build in a self-destruct mechanism to any change plan is to overestimate what’s possible. To decide that you should be able to do - every day - something that a pro pulls off once in a blue moon.

    So when you’ve got your eye on a whole cluster of habits, think instead about where you’d get the most leverage. That for me is what I’m actually WILLING to do. Something that has a chance of happening - even if it’s hard. Because it will be, some of the time.

    But something that will actually happen is something we can build on. Something that doesn’t have a chance of happening, or can’t happen until some other stuff happens first, is nothing to build on. That’s just a crater of depression waiting to happen.

    So if you’re kind of in a pit, forget about reaching for the stars. Start building a ladder. Ask what you want to do, what you’d be willing to do, what’s worth doing.

    And if you’re having trouble with that list, back into itAsk: What am I NOT willing to do?

    If you’re honest about that, it’ll 1. build self-trust (often in short supply if you’ve spent any time dieting) and 2. spark a TON of ideas about positive places to start.

    Let me know what happens.

    You Have the Right to Remain Fat.

    Yes you do. And I can’t believe I forgot to mention this book by Virgie Tovar last week, when I talked about the authors I admire on the topic of fat phobia and bias. Virgie’s book is new, it’s smart, it’s funny and readable, and I recommend it.

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