• The one thing you must NEVER do (if you want to lose weight)

    Here’s a thing I used to say all the time when I ate something I “wasn’t supposed to eat.” Tell me if this is you, too: 

    (in dramatic, self-loathing tones) "F$%# it! I’ve ALREADY BLOWN IT, so …."

    "So … this day is a writeoff!"

    "So … none of this - cake, chips, ice cream, leftovers, random contents of very old jars that might give me food poisoning* - counts now!"

    "So … I’ll just eat everything in the fridge and pantry and that way I can start with a clean slate tomorrow!"

    "So … just f$%# it, I might as well just pop down to the donut shop and pick up adozen apple fritters to go with my paperback thriller and spend the rest of the day in bed!"

    Then, later: 

    (in dramatic, nauseated, self-loathing tones): "See?! NOTHING I DO EVER MAKES A DIFFERENCE!!!"

    The problem is pretty easy to spot, isn’t it? 

    Of course it all counts, everything we eat. Of course it all makes a difference, every action we take.

    And OF COURSE there’s more than one thing we need to do if we want to demolish destructive eating habits and restore our bodies to health. We have to eat better, sometimes we have to eat less, sometimes we have to eat more, we definitely have to move more, and we have to go on an incredibly strict diet of NO MORE SELF-HATE.

    But here is where I think we have a huge amount of leverage, and can take a small action with enormous payoffs. It’s in that moment right after we “blow it.”You know the moment I mean. 

    It’s when we decide that since a single brownie has so many calories it won’t makeany difference to throw another 11 brownies on top. 

    It’s our old friend the 80/20 rule. The initial blunder is no big deal. It’s what comes after you tell yourself that nothing matters that does most of the damage. Do this often, and you’ve got a lot of extra weight and misery. 

    So just don’t do that. Just don’t tell yourself it doesn’t matter. 

    Instead, tell yourself "It matters because everything counts." Tell yourself, "It matters, AND that doesn’t mean I’m a total failure and I should give up.


    If you have to, tell yourself “It matters, and I’m eating this pan of browniesanyway.” 

    With every brownie: “This matters. It all counts.” Second brownie: “The first one counted. This one counts too.” Third brownie: “I’m having this, and it counts.” Fourth brownie: “Yep, this one matters, because they all do.”

    I guarantee you, this cannot go on for long. 

    Bonus tip: Don’t have any foods you’re “not supposed” to eat. Have foods you choose not to eat.

    * Happened to me! I did this to myself! (It was a long time ago. But holy crap! MEMORABLE.)

  • How to take the red pill, dodge bullets, and make everything easier

    The beautiful lie is comfy, but the truth makes you stronger. And just, omigosh, SOOOO much faster.

    Speaking of pills and truths, here’s a bitter one: The reason I didn’t like The Matrix as much as everyone else on the planet, apparently, is because of Carrie-Anne Moss.

    Specifically, her body. I found it painful to watch that film because I was 1. eaten alive by jealousy over Carrie-Anne Moss's shiny black leather-clad body and 2. losing track of the dialogue while trying to figure out what I could cut from my diet to look like her and how long would it take anyway. 

    (I was in my 30s. I love that movie now! And these days I would ask questions like, Hey what kind of flexibility routines does that stuntwoman do?)

    Anyway, back to the comfy lie vs the uncomfortable truth. The blue pill versus the red pill. If we want to stop bingeing or overeating, we’re going to need to swallow the red pill.

    If food feels like comfort to you, it probably has been a comfort for a very long time. Maybe stealing from the cookie jar was your best option as a child. Maybe it was your only option. And giving it up just feels like the last good option is off the table.

    Augh. Heartbreaking. 

    This might sound harsh. But here it is: I haven't found a way to break bad eating habits that doesn't involve growing up. That means swallowing the red pill of reality, and facing the un-beautiful truth that you can’t eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want, and still look and feel the way you want. 

    If you want to break bad eating habits, do these two things to start re-parenting yourself around food:

    1. Install a new structure that immediately replaces the old habit. (I have a GREAT one. It’s not a diet, because that wouldn't work. Which you know.)

    2. Adopt a tool to smash the machinery of the old habit so that it can’t just start up again. (I’ve got one of those for you, too.)

    That’s only two moves, but you have to toughen up to make them. Because it’s not always comfortable outside that squishy cookie-dough-scented pod.

    More truth: I don’t have a single client who will tell you that post-binge life is without problems. And they’re not stylishly solving those problems with guns and kung fu while wearing black leather jumpsuits.

    But they’re not hiding at home in baggy grey sweats, either. 

    They’re out there eating normally, looking good, taking care of business, living life. And getting stronger. 

    That’s how everything gets easier for them.

    If you want to do all that too, check out my Body of Knowledge program. (This pagedescribes it.) If it sounds like what you’re looking for, let’s get on the phone and have a brief conversation to answer your questions. No charge, no presh - just a chance to talk, and see if this is that pill you’ve always been looking for.

    Oh! And my favorite Matrix quote:

    Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?
    Morpheus: No, Neo. I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready, you won't have to. <- neither will you

  • Reparenting: Is it just gonna turn you a big ole baby?

    Self Portrait with his Wife Sanneke van Bommel and their two Children, Hendrik Spilman, 1761–1784, Rijksmuseum
    A guy I know had a baby quite late in life. This happened after his first set of kids were already grown. So he was actually old enough to be this child's grandfather. I never questioned him about this - I hope I just listened! always! - but I remember him, as he strapped the baby into a stroller, intoning the words I am prepared to face society's disapproval.

    I am thinking of his words again in light of my own new obsession: Reparenting. 

    I want to say I had heard the word before a couple months ago. I think? But it had not seized hold of me. Now it has, and I’m seeing all life through its lens.Probably reparenting is not a new idea to you. But in case it is, we're not talking about the kind of reparenting where you have a second set of kids, and get it rightthis time, by gum!

    I mean reparenting yourself. F
    inishing the job for the unfinished parts of you. Parts that weren’t adequately parented, on account of your parents being inadequately parented and therefore not fully hip to the duties or techniques of parenting, or on account of their not being present - addicted, depressed, dead, what have you - or just still growing up themselves, which is a process that having children accelerates and perhaps completes.So reparenting is more like rebirthing - which I believe is quite dead, as a movement - except it's about what comes next. It's consciously filling the gaps, such as learning how to eat better, instead of assuming all such knowledge is innate and only needs to be allowed to surface.Now as I do various things to reparent myself - casting no aspersions whatsoever on my own actual parents, may they be happy forever - I have noticed this: The process can be quite irritating to other people.

    Here are two things I have heard in reaction to various things I have tried out, such as going to bed on a schedule, or eating a very balanced meal:
    Wow, you’re kind of a big baby, huh?andWow, you’re kinda like an old lady, huh?

    And my answer - which I might not say out loud, because who cares - is NO. I’M KINDA LIKE A GROWNUP.

    Because that is the purpose of reparenting. It is not self-care for a pedicure’s sake, or sticking to a schedule for predictability’s sake. It is GROWING UP for the sake of making it possible to live life more fully. 
    And people who seek to live life more fully might want to prepare to face society’s disapproval.
  • 3 solid reasons to adopt My Plate* right now

    *or something like it

    Have you heard the terms “maximizer” and “satisficer?” Probably you know plenty of maximizers, those folks who have to make sure they’re getting the absolute best of everything, and that’s why they spend 20 minutes doing research on their phone before ordering dinner, while the rest of the party sighs loudly.

    Less well known is the term “satisficer,” for those people who are aiming most of the time for “good enough.” MOST of the time. Some of the time they’re aiming for 100%, but they know that 90% of the time, 80% is good enough.

    Maximizers are the kind of people that really want to figure out the best diet, and they’re willing to spend a lot of time tinkering and experimenting and observing and examining their data. And that is a fine strategy - but only for the people who are already at 80%.

    Anyone who’s less than 80% happy with their health, their energy, their weight and their food spending could benefit hugely by adopting a good enough method of eating today.

    This 80% (it might be closer to 95%, honestly) good-enough way of eating will be hugely - I will say life-changingly - helpful if

    • The quest for the perfect way of eating is stopping you making any sustained improvements

    • You are overwhelmed and paralyzed by contradictory nutritional advice

    • You have not yet stopped bingeing. (And next week we’ll talk more about that.)

    One good enough strategy is the My Plate template. (Tons of info here.) Basically, the idea boils down to quartering your plate, and in each quadrant you put a grain, a protein, a fruit and a vegetable, respectively. You could have a serving of dairy on the side.

    I eat like this pretty much every lunchtime, every day of the week - only I make it even more simple. Half my plate is vegetables, a quarter is protein, and a quarter is a grain (or something stodgy like a potato. I think the potato is a miracle.). I don’t weigh or measure; this is a rough visual template that makes a totally satisfyingcheap as hell and and easy-to-prep meal.

    Want the receipts? Here’s a sample week:

    • 1 small pot of quinoa (~1 cup dry), lasts half a week

    • 1 small pot of rice (~1 cup dry), lasts the other half of the week

    • 1 small pot of beans (I like the scarlet runners from Rancho Gordo)

    • Bag of spinach

    • Bag of frozen cooked shrimp

    • Any chicken, fish or other meat leftover from dinners

    • 4 small sweet potatoes, bake them all at once in a cast-iron skillet

    • 2 packets of enoki or cremini mushrooms for sauteeing

    • 1 big head of broccoli

    • 1 head of radicchio or something bitter

    • 2 or 3 red, yellow or green bell peppers

    • 2 green chiles, roasted on the burner, skinned and deveined

    • 2 avocados, 1 ripe-ish and 1 green

    Any of these vegetables can be swapped out for any other vegetables, and obviously it’s best to rotate, so that you’re getting a variety of nutrients and tastes and staying in the seasons, if that’s a concern. You can prep everything in a batch, if you like. (That means a rinse and a chop, not something you need a culinary education for.) It doesn’t matter if you batch or not, because nothing here takes much time either way.

    I do make a batch of some kind of sauce like chimichurri or romesco at the beginning of the week, to keep things lively.

    And that is LUNCH: HANDLED. I work at home, but if I worked in an office, I wouldn’t need to change a thing except keeping the raw food separate from the reheatable.

    Is this the perfect diet? It is NOT. (But 1. that's the point and 2. it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a plateful of single ingredients.) Will it work for breakfast and dinner too? Not every day. Is it a comprehensive solution - the last you’ll ever need? Nope, not if you live the year out.

    But is it better than sour-cream-and-chive-flavored chips with a Lacroix chaser? Yes. By a lot.

    If you’re already doing something like this, I’d love to hear what has worked for you, and what resources you recommend.

    And here are a couple more resources for ideas:

  • How bout that Intermittent Fasting?

    Clients and friends have been asking for a while. If you’re curious too, here are the basics:

    Intermittent Fasting (IF) is essentially a way of restricting your eating - that is, your caloric intake - perhaps indefinitely. It’s typically done for the purpose of weight loss or maintenance, maintaining leanness or maybe adhering to an idea of how humans were intended to eat for optimum health or longevity.

    People practice IF all different ways. Some popular examples:

    • Eating only 2 meals a day (breakfast and late lunch, or lunch and dinner), and keeping them in an 8-hour period, like noon and 7pm

    • Eating normally 5 days a week, and either not eating at all, or allowing limited intake (500 calories) on the other 2 days

    • Not eating at all for 24 hours, 1 or 2 days a week

    • Having a single large meal (typically dinner) every day

    You can imagine I don’t think IF is a great idea if you’re trying to recover from a long time on the diet/binge wheel. If over-restriction has always preceded a binge, how will IF be any different? A well-fed person has more emotional sturdiness with which to dismiss bingey thinking and impulses.

    And we’re pretty sure our ancestors fasted not on a 5:2 schedule, but randomly, because they were forced to by environmental food scarcity. If you’re thinking IF is the maybe most natural human way to eat, because Lucy and her kids were fit, please remember that they also stuffed themselves chez Lucy when opportunity arose.

    Obviously, Intermittent Fasting is a deliberate practice grounded in health concerns. But a lot of us intermittently eat intermittently, for other reasons. Here are some of the things you might not think of as IF - because they’re so informal, or so “normal”:

    • Not eating after dinner, going to bed, not having a large milky sugary bevvie in the am, possibly going for a walk and doing a couple chores, then finally having breakfast in the canteen at work. Also known less glamourously as “sleeping.”

    • Sleeping in. So far in that breakfast is long over when you get up.

    • Brunch. As in, No thanks, it would be weird to eat breakfast, when I’m going to this fabulous place with my friends in a few hours and I get to dress up so why would I spoil my appetite.

    • Combo of 2 and 3.

    • Religious restrictions: Ramadan. Lent. Yom Kippur.

    • Or even just skipping meals on the regular to buy food for the hungry.

    Here’s what I’ve found with my clients - and myself - and I’m not alone: If you stop bingeing and overeating, you cannot avoid losing weight. It is inevitable. (And it’s slow! Sorry about that.) You don’t have to skip meals, ever, if you don’t want to.

    But a lot of overeaters have no idea what real hunger feels like. (As my boarding-school roommate’s mother said, "Never eat on an empty stomach!") Skipping a whole meal is an unambiguous way to find out exactly how physical hunger makes itself known.

    Side benefit: Skipping a meal won’t kill you, and that’s good evidence for the file. Hold onto that, and when your brain is telling you WE’RE GONNA DIE IF WE DON’T EAT RIGHT NOW!!!, you can open your folder, and say Hmmmmm, it says right here we’ve gone without food before and survived.

    Of course, that part of your brain isn’t going to be convinced by a little thing like evidence. But that’s okay! You’ll be convinced, and you can carry the day by walking away.


Stop bingeing and overeating. Immediately.

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