“The Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet”

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on this site in reference to a diet book I had read that was published about 80 years ago. I continue to find it fascinating how diet culture has evolved over the years: from the things that were true then which are true now and, of course, the things that are untrue and no longer hold up to scrutiny.

Recently, I came across a diet book that came out in the 60s and my morbid curiosity led me to read through it and share some thoughts on it in this week’s post.

“The Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet” is exactly as it implies. Written and created by Dr. Irwin Stillman, who claims to have been helping patients lose weight since the 20s, the book is a breakdown of many methods of very low calories diets (VLCDs) that he found to be effective.

Let me get this out of the way first: if you want aggressive, fast weight loss, you’ll have to resort to aggressive methods. And, just because you CAN resort to them, doesn’t necessarily mean that you SHOULD do so.

When this book was published in 1967, it was the opinion of Dr. Stillman that a thinner body was a healthier body and a thinner body was a more attractive body. As such, the numerous options available in the book were to get rid of unwanted weight as swiftly as possible so that the reader could no longer be in the category of “overweights” (his term, not mine).

After reading the book, I hopped around on Google trying to find out more about Dr. Stillman and I didn’t put 2 and 2 together that his approach to dieting has been referenced as “The Stillman Diet”.

So, what exactly is The Stillman Diet?

Well, in essence, it is a high protein, low-fat, low-carb diet. It’s not keto, it’s not Atkins and it’s not the carnivore diet.

Nearly every weight loss option he gives in the book (and there are several), adheres to a calorie allotment of 1200 or less. Many of the options are 800 calories or less. They are not designed for a lifetime of adherence to. They are designed to shed weight quickly with some allowances and dietary luxuries filtered back in when the reader reaches their desired weight.

The initial prescription, if you will, is lean meats (fat trimmed-no pork), chicken and turkey (no skin), lean fish and seafood (no salmon), eggs, cottage cheese, non-calorie carbonated drinks, coffee and tea (nothing added), 8 (10 oz) glasses of water per day, herbs and spices, and a vitamin complex.

No butters, fats, dressings, mayo, mints, or gum. No fruits, no vegetables, no grains, no legumes.

Sound aggressive? It is.

Once you’ve lost at least 30 pounds on the diet, the ever-gracious Dr. Stillman allows artificially sweetened gelatin, plain yogurt and skim milk.

After you’ve reached your desired weight, it’s advised that you start tracking calorie intake and never exceed a 3 pound increase in your body weight lest you return to the habits that led to you being one of the “overweights”. You can start to add certain carbohydrates and fats back into the diet but only with careful consideration of your total caloric intake and certain foods do remain “off limits”.

Of note, Dr. Stillman does realize that VLCDs do create rapid fat loss, however, he also uses the book to demonstrate how there are many other ways to achieve rapid loss without following his diet in particular.

It is interesting to see that nearly 60 years ago, intermittent fasting protocols were being used (and en vogue), however, fasting in some variation has been used for centuries. Much like what we say about fashion: “What’s old is new again”, nutrition practices are not much different.

Here is a list of some other extreme diet practices in the book which can also promote rapid loss:

-Lettuce and tomato semi-starvation diet

-Cottage cheese and grapefruit diet

-Baked potato and buttermilk diet

-Egg and tomato diet

-Meat only diet (sorry Carnivore diet advocates, Stillman was way ahead of you)

-Fruit only diet

-All vegetable diet

-Bananas and milk diet

What Dr. Stillman correctly realized was that it really doesn’t matter what you adhere to, it’s that you can adhere to something and keep the calories very low. It stands to reason that his initial high protein offering was his particular leaning, however he wasn’t going to sway someone away from another method if it kept the calories low enough for fast results.

Stillman himself would pass away from a heart attack 12 years later at the age of 79.

Curiously (and sadly), an adopter of The Stillman Diet back in 1967 was Karen Carpenter (at the time at a height of 5’4 and weight of 145), who, despite abandoning the diet, would eventually lose her life to anorexia in 1983.

As a nutrition coach and someone who genuinely just wants his clients to find happiness and health on their terms, I can’t overstate finding a diet approach that makes sense in the scope of your life. Aggressive diets have been around longer than most of us realize and the very limited nutrient intake of the aforementioned diets can potentially wreak havoc on your system.

While it can be tempting (and sometimes advised) to utilize aggressive approaches, you also may want to consider what else is being sacrificed/compromised just to see a lower number on the scale.

And, my personal/professional opinion, your weight is not your worth despite Dr. Stillman’s belief to the contrary.

An Addict’s View Of The Six Stages Of Change

I recently finished the book “Changing For Good” by Drs. James Prochaska, John Norcross and Carlo DiClemente which details the six stages of change also known as the transtheoretical model of change.

The authors used this model to discuss how change that lasts affects smokers, drug addicts, chronic overeaters and alcoholics.

I wanted to take some liberties with the model to explain how (with the luxury of hindsight) the stages affected my ability to get clean from drugs.

At the end, I wanted to compare it against a hypothetical fat loss client about how they can make changes stick for themselves.

Per the model, the six stages of change are:

Precontemplation

Contemplation

Preparation

Action

Maintenance

Termination

Within those six stages, there is another area referenced but not always listed as Relapse which could occur within the latter stages.

Here’s how the six stages directly occurred with my drug addiction:

Precontemplation: During this stage, people are not considering change. Often, they are in denial of the problem or have simply relegated themselves to their circumstances and don’t feel in control to change anything. In precontemplation, the person is not considering change for at least 6 months.  For myself, I spent ten years with near daily usage of drugs. When copious amounts were available, copious amounts would be consumed. Even leading up to the year that I got clean (2006), I would still tell people that I would be a lifelong smoker (weed, not cigarettes). I also probably believed that I could successfully manage my cocaine addiction. I was unaware or simply blind to the fact that my addictions were affecting me socially, professionally and financially. Having the money for drugs superseded my ability to pay my bills which became the major catalyst for why I finally quit. In 2006, I had managed to put my drug use before paying my mortgage. Since my father was the co-signer on my house, when the past dues started showing up on the home, it wasn’t just my credit score that was negatively affected, it was his too. Once I saw that damage was being done to more than just me, I couldn’t bear the fact that I was harming him too. This circumstance quickly led to the next stage: Contemplation.

Contemplation: This is the stage where the people start looking at the benefits and possibilities of changing their behavior. They aren’t fully sold on committing to change but they realize that something has become problematic enough that it may need remedy. In the contemplation phase, the person is planning to change within 6 months. For myself, I didn’t spend a great deal of time in contemplation. As I’ll highlight later when I discuss fat loss, some people never leave the contemplation stage. Once I saw what my drug use and inability to stay current with my mortgage payments affected my father, I knew that my vices had finally gone too far. I threw away the last of the drugs I had on hand and started to right the ship that had gone completely off course. The next stage of change was one that I didn’t personally experience the way others might but I’ll cover it regardless. That stage is preparation.

Preparation: For many people, once they recognize the problem and have started to address the pros and cons of changing their behavior(s), preparation is where small changes may start to take place and more information is gathered to assist in changing the problem. During this stage, the person is planning on change within 30 days.  I didn’t personally go through a preparation stage. There was no dipping my toes in the water and I didn’t start looking at N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings or books on how to quit. I just quit cold turkey. Others find that writing down goals or value statements as well as a given plan of action can be helpful. For myself, I would say I skipped this stage completely. After preparation, the next stage of change is Action.

Action: During the action stage, those who are embarking on change are actively moving towards a modification of behavior. For instance, a smoker may have purchased smoking patches, started a cessation program, etc. in efforts to quit smoking. It can be helpful for those who are in the action stage to reward the successes and to find a support system to align with. In this stage, change has started within the last 6 months.  Since I had no stage of preparation, my next stage of change was action. The drugs I had on hand at that point were discarded and although I was still around drugs (my roommate was a user), I made my choice and stayed clean (temporarily, which I’ll discuss soon). My fiancée at the time (Jackson’s mom) was clean so it was easy to use her as a support because she wasn’t a user. One area I didn’t actively use during the action stage was rewarding my successes. It was more about repairing the financial state of myself and my father so that our respective credit scores could recover and my mortgage payments could be made current. This sets the stage for our next spot: Maintenance.

Maintenance: In the maintenance stage, a person is successfully taking action on the areas they want to change. They are distancing themselves from tempting scenarios and are actively developing coping strategies. A person in maintenance is still capable of lapse or relapse during this stage. Change has been in place for at least 6 months. While I didn’t realize it at the time, one of the most effective ways for me to maintain being clean was the fact that I was transferred to a different state a couple of months after I quit using. While it was still possible for me to find drugs in the new state, I had so many other things competing for my attention, that not having drugs nearby wasn’t as difficult to deal with. Had I stayed in the previous state, I’m not sure how successful I would have been in the short-term at staying clean. Temptation and being around the same friends I used to partake in drug use with may have been detrimental to my progress.

Termination: In the original model, termination was not a phase, rather Relapse (also known as Recycle), was. I’ll cover those shortly. It’s assumed that in the termination phase, the person changing has no desire to return to their former behaviors and no longer feels tempted by the same situations. It’s rare that individuals reach this area so the perception is that each person embarking on a long-term commitment to change is simply in maintenance phase. 

Relapse/Recycle: It is likely that an individual attempting to change their behaviors will be tempted by and succumb to those temptations. A brief episode of the behavior is considered a “lapse” while a complete return to previous behaviors is considered a “relapse”. For these same people, it does not mean failure, it means a return to a previous stage. Think of these six stages working in a circle. The lapse/relapse shifts a person backwards to a previous stage. Most likely, there will be a return to contemplation, preparation, action or maintenance. There is no defined order. In my case, I had three lapses where I smoked again on separate occasions. There was no guilt, there was no full relapse. My last lapse was in 2009. Each episode put me right back into maintenance the following day.

Here is a point of consideration before I dive into how these six stages may affect someone who is trying to successfully lose fat and keep it off. I still have to “manage” my behavior to stay clean. I will sometimes feel an urge to do drugs although it isn’t a strong one. I am rarely, if ever, knowingly around drugs so I don’t have that temptation around me. That being said, about 5 years ago, I was around someone who I knew had very high quality product on them. I was “tempted” to ask and see what they had. I didn’t act on it. It was a thought and it passed.

Sometimes, people go into change thinking that once they are in maintenance phase that they will no longer succumb to previous behaviors. I don’t find this to be true, and especially not with food since we have to have food to live. The same cannot be said about street drugs, smoking or alcohol.

Now, allow me to craft a narrative about a woman who will be embarking on these stages for the purposes of fat loss. We’ll call her Sharon. Sharon is neither a current or former client of mine. However, Sharon’s story will share similarities with people I’ve worked with.

Precontemplation: Sharon has tried to lose fat several times over the last few decades. She doesn’t struggle with any clinical eating disorders but she has been on more diets than she can count and each one has a similar outcome: she can lose fat when she’s very adherent but once she reverts back to old habits, she regains the weight she’s lost and slightly more. She has all but given up hope that she will ever get to a weight she can be satisfied with. She’s married with 3 children who are each married as well. After her third child was born, she developed some symptoms of post-partum depression. As she has gotten older, she periodically gets “the blues” but she doesn’t take medication as she doesn’t think it’s severe. However, she has noticed that when those moments occur, she is more likely to comfort herself with snack foods like chips and crackers and she routinely finishes her evenings with some ice cream. She doesn’t care for exercise but she does like to go out for walks with her husband and their dog when the weather is nice. Sharon has noticed that with age and the additional weight that getting up off the floor is not as easy as it used to be and she gets out of breath when she’s bringing her laundry basket upstairs. Each time she thinks about going on another diet, she tells herself it’s not worth it and she’ll probably fail again.

Contemplation: Sharon’s daughter, Sheila, has just called the family to announce that she and her husband are expecting their first child which will be Sharon’s first grandchild. Overjoyed to see their family grow, Sharon can’t contain her excitement as she has always looked fondly on what it would be like to be a grandmother. A few days pass after the good news and she starts thinking about how active she’ll be helping Sheila once the baby arrives. She’s reminded about how getting up off the floor and carrying the laundry have become more cumbersome for her and she starts thinking again about possibly losing some weight before the baby arrives. There’s still a negative voice in her head that reminds her of when she’s tried and failed before but it’s relatively quiet compared to the happiness she feels when she thinks of what life will be like with a grandchild.

Preparation: Sharon decides that she’s going to commit to changing her weight. She’s not going to focus on a goal weight but she is going to start eating more nutritious meals and she realizes that not exercising more may be working against her. She spends some time online looking for places where she can work out and not feel self-conscious. She also subscribes to some recipe websites to help her make meals that look appropriate for her goals but don’t take long to make. She tells her husband, Joel, about her plans. Joel, always in support but also suspicious based on Sharon’s prior history, tells her he’ll do what he can to help.

Action: Sharon finds a small gym to join at a time when it’s not too busy. She hires a coach to teach her how to perform exercises safely and gets to train at her own pace as she doesn’t like perspiring when she works out. She’s decided that some of the foods in her house are not easy foods to navigate when she’s trying to succeed at fat loss so she throws away the crackers, chips and ice cream. She tells herself: It’s not like I can never have them, I just don’t want to think about them right now. Joel isn’t happy about the fact that his favorite chips aren’t in the house but he doesn’t want to discourage Sharon from her efforts. He knows that if he really wants chips, he can buy a bag to keep at his office.

Maintenance: Sharon is thrilled with herself. She’s set no expectations about how much weight she would lose, she just made a commitment to showing up at the gym no less than twice a week (sometimes she goes 4 days a week). She lost more weight than she anticipated through being mindful about her food intake and training consistently. She still has cravings for her salty snacks but since they aren’t in the house, the cravings come and go. While she is far from a weight that she wants to be at, she knows this is the longest she has spent working on improving her health. Shortly after she started the gym, she met a couple of ladies around her age who also trained at the same time when she was there. She liked having a community of people who were also trying to improve their health and weren’t in competition with one another. In the right lighting, she even noticed some muscle appearing in her upper arms. After a period of months, she came down with the flu and she wasn’t able to work out for several days after. When she was on the mend, she started back slowly because she didn’t want to lose too much momentum. However, Sharon found that after she recovered from the flu, she had lost some of her motivation to stay on her diet.

Recycle: One night, Joel surprised Sharon with her favorite ice cream. He knew she had been working hard to lose weight and exercise and he wanted to show her a token of love by bringing home something she hadn’t eaten in months. Sharon was appreciative of the gesture even though she wasn’t sure that she could moderate the food at that time. She had a small serving and loved every bit of it. After she finished, she felt a little bit guilty because of how hard she had worked to change the number on the scale. She asked Joel for another serving since he was having seconds and she finished that as well. The next day, Sharon felt that familiar pang of failure. That voice came back that said: This is how it always ends up. You go right back to how you were before. This is why you can’t keep the weight off. For the next several days, Sharon subconsciously ate a bit more than normal. She went grocery shopping and thought it might not be the end of the world if she bought chips and crackers and ice cream again. She still made it to the gym but something felt off. She knew that her granddaughter would be arriving any day now and yet she just couldn’t shake this slump she was in. Sheila made a remark about how she couldn’t wait to see what kind of grandmother her mom would be and a switch flipped in Sharon’s mind. She had been slowly reverting back to her old eating habits when it dawned on her what her original motivation was to change. Sharon slipped back a few stages to preparation and told Joel that she needed to remove those same foods from the house again. Joel asked: It’s not that big of a deal is it? I mean, I don’t have a problem eating chips so why can’t we have them in the house? Sharon doubled-down on her efforts. She said: I know that you don’t have a problem moderating them but they aren’t helping me reach my goals. I’m not asking you to stop eating them, I’m just not in a good place right now to navigate them when they’re in the home. Can I get your help with this? Joel sighed and said: You’re right. Is there anything else I can do to help you? Sharon, pleased that this conversation didn’t evolve into an argument, said: I appreciate it. I really do. I think I just need to find ways to reward myself that doesn’t involve food the way it used to.

Conclusion: Sharon is now the proud grandmother to Elizabeth and, while she doesn’t obsess over the weight she’s lost, she feels stronger and healthier than she’s felt through most of her adult life. Occasionally, she has lapses where she indulges in chips, crackers and ice cream but she’s found a way to manage those lapses without completely reverting to her previous habits. She gets cravings and urges just like anyone else but she pays attention to those feelings and she finds other ways to distract herself: that might include going on her walks with Joel and their dog, it might be by offering to babysit Elizabeth, and she still goes to the gym at least 2x/week. That negative voice is still there and sometimes she listens to it, sometimes she doesn’t. Sharon knows that it’s not a game of perfection, it’s a game of trying to pay closer attention to what her body and mind tell her and making the best decision she can at the time.

If I can offer any final wisdom to take with you, it’s this: expect change to take longer than you hope, expect to make mistakes, expect to have the feeling of: one step forward, two steps back. Make your goals known and define your boundaries to those who are close to you. The person you want to become won’t be realized until you make enough strides from the person you used to be. Manage temptations and be honest with yourself when you don’t feel strong enough mentally to resist what’s tempting you. This could be more problematic for drug addicts and alcoholics but the same concepts apply for fat loss as well.

(Special thanks to Jessica Cameron for the graphs in this article)

How Will You Lose?

Once upon a time…

I probably thought that everyone could lose weight via more exercise and less food.

And, in its simplest form, that IS how people lose weight (or more specifically, lose fat).

However, if you’re reading this, you likely know that just exercising more and eating less is far easier said than done.

I learned early on after opening RevFit that hormones influence how we eat, medications influence how we eat, stress influences how we eat, sleep habits influence how we eat, trauma influences how we eat, and all of the same factors influence how, how much and whether or not we exercise at all.

So, yes, there are success stories abound of people who reached a weight they no longer can tolerate and they start watching their food intake and they start moving more and the weight comes off.

Maybe it stays off and maybe they rebound.

Some people hire coaches, like myself, who can handle the strength coaching and the nutrition coaching, and that synergy of coaching, support and community can help where just doing it on their own may not have succeeded.

However, since I’ve been working with Dr. Spencer Nadolsky and my fellow coaches at Big Rocks Nutrition Coaching, I’ve had the reinforcement there’s far more to this puzzle than simply a diet/exercise intervention.

Some people simply need more help.

I remain a major advocate of therapy because I understand how much our mental state correlates with choosing to eat better and choosing to exercise more. A qualified therapist can help someone unlock those psychological hurdles.

And, genetics DO play a role.

So, what’s left is pharmaceutical interventions and weight loss surgeries.

We have reached a point with medical advances where the medications available to those struggling to lose weight are not only powerful but come with few side effects. It is very much possible that you may have to be on the medications at a low dose to keep from rebounding once you’ve lost your desired weight. That being said, if you qualify for those medications, this may be the piece to your puzzle that you’ve been missing.

As I’ve discovered, even those who are on medications for weight loss still need coaching. The medication only solves one portion of the challenge. There are still improvements to monitor on eating habits, sleep hygiene, exercise and more.

Much like pharmaceutical advances, bariatric surgery has also come a long way. What I’ve learned is that just because someone elects to have surgery doesn’t mean they won’t rebound. As such, many patients may need to consider a weight loss medication in addition to their surgery. The surgery is arguably the MOST effective form of weight loss but, it’s not a cure-all and it doesn’t solve what’s happening neurologically with hunger and satiety signals.

I write all of this first to educate and second to inspire and encourage: in a “perfect” world, someone who wants to lose fat can just flip a switch, and eat less and move more and their problem is solved.

We don’t live in that world.

Which is why having options for successful fat loss is helpful and knowing how to support those who take whatever means necessary to safely lose fat and keep it off is crucial to their success.

Need to work with me directly for nutrition coaching? Simply reply to this post and I can get you more information.

If you need help with the pharmaceutical side, I’d love for you to check out Dr. Spencer’s Sequence program. In full disclosure, I receive no incentives or kickbacks for the referral. I just know that for some people it may be their very best option to add to their plan. You can find out more about Sequence here.

Do You Even Forgive?

I look back on my life and I have to think where forgiveness has played a part.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to routinely reach out to people in my current and former lives to tell them: “Hey, you remember such and such incident? I’m really sorry for how I behaved.”

It’s a liberating thing to do but that doesn’t make it comfortable.

I found, early on, that grudges never served me so I don’t hold them.

People are who they are, which is often imperfect, so we choose how and when to forgive those imperfections.

It was a difficult but necessary act to forgive the person who abused me.

It has been difficult but necessary to forgive anyone who I felt wronged me or slighted me.

And, of course, I’ve had to learn how to forgive myself for everything I’ve done to slight others and how I’ve been unkind to myself.

Maybe it’s this last part that I want to expand on for this week.

In trying to coach others for self-improvement, there can be two forces at work:

-The burden you carry by holding grudges against others and not forgiving them and moving on. This can manifest in how you treat others and how you treat yourself.

-Not forgiving yourself for your own mistakes.

If you want self-improvement to work (and to last) you may be working through those areas of your life.

Get better at saying “I’m sorry” to yourself and to others.

Ask yourself if your inability to practice forgiveness is helping you or hurting you.

Take inventory of people in your past or your present that you may owe apologies to. Make that contact and apologize for how you may have contributed to the situation.

Recognize that the act of forgiveness never ends. It is constantly evolving, as you are, which means: the work is never done but it will almost always be worth it.

20 Life Lessons From “Gram”

For the last 11 years, I’ve written thousands of words about my father.

In many respects, there are so many words of love I’ve written about him that it’s a shame he wasn’t alive to read them.

Perhaps that’s a regret of mine.

Not that my father left this world doubting my love for him, he didn’t. I was fortunate that I had time to tell him how much me meant to me over and over again during his final months with us.

However, before I have the same regret with other family members, I’m writing this post to and for someone who is still alive and well.

My grandmother.

LaRue Wright (née Rankin) was born over 89 years ago in Ridgely, Tennessee. Ridgely was also the birthplace of my mother and where my father was laid to rest.

It resides roughly 45 minutes away from my hometown in Union City, Tennessee.

She is my last living grandparent and she still lives in Union City, in a house that has been a part of my life for nearly 47 years.

The first 4 years of my life were spent in Union City, so I was fortunate to spend a lot of time during those years with my grandmother.

She was a schoolteacher from 1976 to 1997. That career became an integral part of my upbringing. I credit Gram with being the one who taught me to read, something I still do voraciously all these years later.

I also credit her with the fact that RevFit would not exist without her. We lost my grandfather and my uncle (her husband and youngest son) in 2008. As a result of their passing, several pieces of rental property in my hometown were left to my grandmother. She did not want to oversee them, so they were gifted to me.

That gift became what funded the opening of my business in 2009.

Growing up, I called her “B’mama” and later it turned to “Gram”.

We would dance to records by Elvis and Mac Davis in her living room, so the love of music that I carry with me today didn’t just come from my parents.

In paying tribute to her and the life she has lived thus far I wanted to write this as much for the benefit of our family as I hope it might be for my readers.

I asked her if she would collaborate with me on this week’s article so that you can have a piece of inspiration from someone I’ve been so privileged to call ours. I’ve edited and adapted our conversation so that it would be a cohesive read.

5 Lessons From Her Career Teaching:

You Have To Be Patient: To be an effective teacher, you not only have to be patient with your students but patient with yourself. Everyone learns at a different pace.

You Have To Accept People As They Are: Not only do we all come from different backgrounds, but we have a different understanding of the world around us. Teaching helped me realize that every child who came to my class required a slightly different set of skills so that they could perform their best.

You’re Adopting A Second Family: There’s the family that I raised and the family that I took care of at school. I had to respect that both of these families required love, attention and care. Each student was coming under my wing so that I could help prepare them for a future as I would the children I brought into this world.

You’re Given Precious Assets: I had to remind myself every day that, in teaching children, I’ve been given someone’s most precious asset. I would argue it’s even more precious than money and material things. People trust you with their children’s best interests and it was up to me to honor and respect that.

Be The Teacher Worth Remembering: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had grown adults come up to me and tell me how grateful they were that I was their teacher in elementary school. To know they looked back on all of those years in the school system and that I was the one they remembered so fondly means I did a commendable job.

5 Lessons From Marriage

-They say that marriage is 50/50. It’s not. It’s 100% of yourself and it’s 100% of your spouse. You may be different people but you still have to give the marriage 100%.

-You have to admit when you’re wrong.

-You have to make compromises.

-Marriage is equal parts love, compassion, patience and understanding.

-Marriage is not easy. It can be a lot of work. You won’t always agree but you have to be committed to each other. (Of note, this year would mark her 70th anniversary if my grandfather was still alive).

5 Lessons To Impart On Your Children

-I wanted all of my children to be raised in a Christian home and to be Christians themselves.

-I wanted all of my children to be successful and to believe in themselves and what they could become.

-I wanted my children to understand and respect the sanctity of marriage.

-I wanted them to take care of themselves and their health.

-I wanted them to value an education: to not just be intelligent but creative as well.

5 Things You Wish You Could Have Done Differently

-I wish I would have gotten my doctorate. It would have taken more time away from my family than what I wanted to do at the time.

-You don’t know what you don’t know but as a parent, I wish I would have known how to help my children and grandchildren with their struggles in life. There’s nothing more difficult to see than the people you love struggle and not know how to help them.

-I would have reminded my husband about how good our life was despite the obstacles we had to overcome. He and I had many conversations before he passed and he kept asking me: “We had a good life, right?” I knew that we had, he knew that we had, but sometimes, we just need reassuring.

-I grew up seeing addictions and infidelity affect various family members. If I would have known how to help them work through those things, I would have. I saw how those vices crippled people and I knew that I just couldn’t go down that road too.

The final lesson needs some explanation. My Oma (my father’s mother) was a Holocaust survivor. Growing up, my Opa expressed to mostly everyone that we not discuss the war around her. I speculate it was because the conversation could easily trigger feelings that may not be easy to overcome. Nevertheless, sometimes Oma would discuss the concentration camps on her own. After my Opa passed, she was even more forthcoming with those experiences.

-I would have asked your Oma more about the war and her time in the camps. I believe it was therapeutic for her to talk about it even though we were discouraged from doing so. I always wanted to respect that your Opa didn’t want the subject brought up but she and I had many conversations about those experiences and I just wish I could have learned more. You know what she told me? She said: “You need to tell my story so that people will learn to be kind to each other.”

What’s The Best Diet?

This past weekend, I was helping my mom out at her flower shop.

She was under-staffed for a big event and asked if I could lend a hand to help set up for a large wedding.

While I was waiting for all of the flowers to be finished so we could load them up, one of her staff members (let’s call her Ann) came up to me and asked:

“Jason, I wanted to ask you… There are so many diets out there: keto, paleo…which one is the best one for losing weight?”

My response:

“The one you can adhere to.”

And of course, as unsexy as that response is, I could see the hope deflate from Ann’s face.

So, I owed it to her to elaborate and I thought I’d share those thoughts with you this week as well.

To start, there’s nothing “wrong” with any diet.

That being said, there are some diets that are likely ill-fitted for certain health conditions. For instance, I wouldn’t encourage a person with a heart condition or high cholesterol to adopt a high fat diet like keto.

I can play both sides of that fence and say that maybe, just maybe, if said keto diet helps that person successfully lose fat and keep it off then perhaps the heart condition improves.

There’s just something about a diet that’s at least 70% fat that tells me: maybe my ticker isn’t going to be happy with me. Call…me…crazy…

To that, I said to her: “If you want a really easy way to lose fat, take your diet as it is, and write it down. Don’t count calories, don’t count macros, don’t judge your food choices. Just write it down and ask yourself: Where can I cut back?”

Ann looked at me like I had three heads. Sometimes I feel like I do.

“As an example,” I said, “let’s assume you had a donut today.”

She laughed and said: I did have a donut today!

I chuckled as well and asked: “Would it have been too much to ask that you only eat half of it? Or maybe less than half? Would that have been sufficient?”

Ann smiled and said: “Yes, I think I could have done that.”

I looked down and saw that she had an insulated mug with coffee. I happened to notice the particularly light color of that coffee.

I pointed and asked: “Now, consider your coffee. What do you put in there?”

She blushed and said: “Cream and sugar.”

“That’s right, and you probably didn’t measure either of them, you just poured them in until you got the color and taste you wanted.”

She nodded her head in agreement.

“Try measuring them for a few days. See how little of each you can get away with that you’ll still enjoy your coffee.”

Ann said: “But I’m such an emotional eater. My husband tells me to just stop buying certain foods.”

“Your husband is right. If it’s in the house, you’re more likely to eat it. And if you can’t trust yourself in the grocery store due to the allure of all the snacks and treats, then start buying your groceries online and picking them up. It may not stop you from buying the Snickers bar but at least that bar isn’t staring you in the face while you’re waiting for the person in front of you to check out. I worked in retail for 16 years. There’s a legitimate reason they call those items “impulse items.” Droves of marketers know exactly what they’re doing!”

We left the conversation there because we had to keep working on the event.

So, I’ll add this:

Just me pointing out the areas that I saw in her diet (the donut and the calorie-laden coffee) could give Ann 300-600 calories out of her current diet if she could just make some substitutions. 300-600 calories dropped out of her daily intake may be all she needs to actually see fat loss occur. That depends on what she puts back in to replace the donut and how much she removes from her coffee each day.

And, I have to be honest, just because the fix sounds easy and very effective to me, doesn’t mean that Ann will actually do it.

However, what it can show is that it’s not about the next diet you pick, it’s about being crystal clear on what you’re actually eating and making more strategic choices from there.

It’s not sexy, it’s not flashy, it won’t sell books off the shelves.

But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work.

Rather than ask what the best diet is for you to follow, ask yourself how you can make your current diet better.

On Binge Eating

Lately, I’ve been diving into more information about binge eating and other types of disordered eating and, while I am not an expert nor am I a doctor, I wanted to compile some information which might be helpful to both fellow coaches and anyone who may be struggling with some of these challenges and is looking for a place to begin. I should note that these patterns are correlated with an underlying psychological component which may require the help of a qualified professional to address.

Much of what I will write is being repurposed in my own thoughts and words based on the work of Dr. Christopher Fairburn and things found to be effective through Mac-Nutrition Uni’s coursework.

Part of the reason I want to tackle this is that I have found there are possibly four types of people who struggle with binge eating or disordered eating that enter into a fat loss program:

Those who have a history of binge eating but may not currently be struggling with it.

Those who are currently struggling with it and openly discuss it.

Those who are currently struggling with it and don’t initially discuss it but it does come up later in the working relationship.

Those who are currently struggling with it and do not discuss it.

This post will aim to be helpful to all four of those and to anyone else who knows someone struggling with binge eating.

I should also note that not everyone who struggles with binge eating is overweight. Binge eating can also affect those who are underweight, such as those with anorexia nervosa.

If you are someone who struggles with binge eating (or know someone who does) this information is not meant to replace the guidance of a doctor, a therapist trained in eating disorders or dietitians trained in eating disorders.

Fortunately, many people can overcome binge eating through some guided self-help assuming they are willing to put in the work.

I should note right off the bat that if you are someone who is trying to lose fat AND you also struggle with binge eating, it is in your best interest to reduce the frequency of binge eating or eliminate it before you try to lose fat.

This may seem somewhat counterintuitive.

One of the biggest issues with binge eating is the fact that things such as calorie tracking and intermittent fasting protocols can actually trigger binge eating episodes. In addition, having a list of demonized/forbidden foods can also trigger binge behavior.

While an individual is working through the process of binge eating, they may have to accept the fact that weight may or may not reduce during that process: it may remain stable, it may drop and it may go up.

Let me discuss some common behaviors exhibited by those who struggle with binge eating and some of the drawbacks of those behaviors.

I’m going to do my best to exercise some respect and sensitivity with this next section as this part may contain more triggering subject matter.

There are a handful of types of eating disorders someone could potentially fall under. The most common are:

bulimia nervosa
anorexia nervosa
binge eating disorder
eating disorder not otherwise specified (ED-NOS: which may include mixed eating disorders or night eating syndrome)

We know that with any of these individuals a degree of guilt and shame surrounds the behavior. This can result in something of a cyclical pattern of behavior that may look like:

Feelings of guilt/shame->loss of control->binge eat->extreme form of dieting->repeat.

Why someone binges can be multi-factorial and may include:

Shame around current weight/physique
Difficulty in relationships
Difficulty coping with stressful circumstances
Fear of failure
Fear of success

What constitutes an extreme form of dieting?

This can include:

Self-induced vomiting
Laxative/Diuretic Abuse/Misuse
Overexercising/Chronic Exercising
Fluid Manipulation

Self induced vomiting (SIV) appears to be most common in bulimia nervosa and, to a lesser extent with anorexia nervosa. For some, it is the belief that utilizing this tactic will remove the calories from the food(s) they binged on. However, when this has been studied in labs, only about 50% of the calories have been removed from the system. Said differently, if the binge was upwards of 2000 calories, roughly 1000 are removed through the process. This is not the only reason why this may be used. For some, they have binged to such a great degree of discomfort, that SIV serves to release the tension of that discomfort.

Laxative and diuretic misuse can be done on its own or in combination with SIV. There is a similar misconception around laxatives (as with SIV) that calories are being removed from the system with their use but this is not accurate. Food absorption happens higher in the digestive system while laxatives work lower in the digestive system. Diuretics have no effect on calorie absorption, they simply deplete fluid from the system. Some people feel the need to continue their binge patterns with the use of SIV or laxatives/diuretics because they believe they have cleansed their system. This can actually lead to larger binges later on.

Extreme exercising is exhibited more in individuals with anorexia nervosa and can be categorized when exercising has a tendency to take over one’s life. This can also manifest in a way where someone may not consume a meal until they have sufficiently “burned off” the calories of that meal ahead of time.

Fluid manipulation can take form by using high fluid intake to induce vomiting or to register that enough vomiting has occurred when there is no more color coming up. Again, this is with the belief that the system has been “cleaned”. Another area may be purposefully not drinking enough water as dehydration may show up as a loss of weight (not fat) on the scale.

To reiterate, shame and guilt may be significant reasons why we don’t hear more about binge patterns. It’s also worth noting that strict dieting can trigger binges, men may be less likely to report binge behaviors than women, some people feel that binge behavior helps them manage other stressful circumstances better and some believe that the behavior can resolve itself without help.

Now, I’ll break down the four different types of eating disorders related to binge eating.

-Bulimia Nervosa
-Anorexia Nervosa
-Binge Eating Disorder
-Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (ED-NOS: specifically mixed eating disorders and night eating syndrome)

As a reminder, this is not meant to diagnose. A doctor would need to oversee that diagnosis. If you believe you suffer from any of these disorders, you are encouraged to get medical advice if you feel it’s needed. For the purposes of this post, it’s simply for information and potentially for the reader to use as guided self-help.

Bulimia Nervosa
With bulimia nervosa, a person has to exhibit 3 of 4 of the criteria listed. One of these must be absent.

The criteria:
1) The individual must have frequent objective binges (consuming genuinely large amounts of food) with a feeling of a “loss of control”. All persons with bulimia binge eat.
2)The individual must utilize at least one form of extreme dieting (as referenced above).
3) The individual must have an over evaluation of their body size and shape, characterized by primary judgement of their physique beyond simply “unhappiness”.
4) The individual must not have anorexia nervosa.

It may come as a surprise to some that many people who suffer with bulimia would be considered a healthy weight and size. In approximately a quarter of cases, an individual may start with anorexia nervosa and transition to bulimia nervosa. It is more common in women than in men. Also, some may eat very little outside of their binges (comparable to those with anorexia). By the time someone gets help with this, they may have already been struggling for 5-10 years.

Anorexia Nervosa
Two conditions must be met:
1) A BMI somewhere between or under 17.5-18.5
2) Evidence of overvaluation of body size and shape. Many fear becoming overweight or getting fat and despite their current size, they may already view themselves as overweight.

It is more common in women than in men. They achieve their weight by both eating too little and possibly exercising too much. Roughly 1/3 still have binges however they are considered subjective binges (smaller in size).

Binge Eating Disorder
This is characterized by those who do struggle with binge eating but do not exhibit forms of compensatory behaviors like the aforementioned extreme dieting measures. Considerations in diagnosis may include (adapted from Dr. Jake Linardon):

1) Eating more rapidly than normal
2) Eating to the point of discomfort
3) Consuming more than normal even when not hungry
4) Eating alone associated with feelings of embarrassment
5) Feelings of disgust, depression or guilt after binge eating
6) Marked distress associated with binge eating episodes

Where many who have bulimia nervosa are of a healthy weight, most who struggle with binge eating disorder are overweight or considered obese. More men appear to be affected compared to the previous two (1/3 men to approx 2/3 women).

ED-NOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified)
Lastly, there are eating disorders not otherwise specified which are defined by similar features as bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder without meeting all of the criteria (also called subthreshold). Mixed eating disorders could have features of all three. Night eating syndrome is classified as those episodes which only occur at night (or after waking up from sleeping at night) and are smaller in size than actual binges. The individual may not feel the same “loss of control” as those who suffer with binge eating in the other disorders.

Next, I want to start tackling what an individual can do to reduce and hopefully eliminate binges in their lives.

A few reminders:

-Some people will need medical help. Self-help or even guided self-help with a coach may not be enough for severe cases.

-Strict dieting, aggressive deficits, “forbidden” foods, and diets that remove food groups are all capable of triggering binge behavior. Calorie counting and macro counting are contraindicated practices for binge eating behavior.

-Accept the possibility that in order to overcome binge eating, an individual is advised to temporarily abstain from conscious dieting practices so they can get a better handle on all of the circumstances that are currently contributing to binges.

The first protocol would be to start monitoring food intake. This is not the same as calorie tracking. This is writing down the times you eat, what you eat, if any extreme form of dieting came after you ate (self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic use) and how you felt in general.

Monitoring is a short-term plan. That being said, you may find that you are monitoring for several weeks/months to develop awareness of trends and patterns of behavior. Dichotomous thinking and looking at foods as good/bad and right/wrong also fosters binge behavior.

Monitoring allows you to take an objective look at food intake without judgment. It is a skill to practice. It is very much likely that you will still experience binges with the long-term goal that they are reduced in size and frequency.

Questions you are seeking to answer through monitoring will include:

-What’s eaten during a binge?
-Do binges include “forbidden” foods?
-When do the binges happen?
-Is there a trigger for binges?
-Is there an emotion connected to binges?
-Are the binges a form of coping or a form of punishment?

Within the scope of monitoring, remember this is not to judge. It is to have documentation of events with candor and honesty. It will not be easy and it will likely be a lengthy process. Persevere all the same if you are determined to end the behavior. Review the previous week’s monitoring and go back through the questions listed above to see if patterns can be found.

It’s Dr. Fairburn’s advice that weigh-ins should be once a week to follow the trends of monitoring. Your weight may reduce, it may remain stable and it may go up. Monitoring is not synonymous with dieting. At each weekly weigh-in, review the previous week’s information and go back through the questions listed above to see if patterns can be found.

When you have developed the consistency of monitoring and recognizing patterns you can move to the next stage of establishing a regular eating schedule.

This means, not going lengthy spans of time without food (except while sleeping). In execution, this will look like: Breakfast, Morning Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Snack, and Dinner.

Remember that experiencing the discomfort of hunger is what can lead to binges. This is why strict dieting and intermittent fasting tend to backfire on those who struggle with binge eating. Of note, the ability to discern the signals of hunger and fullness can be distorted in those who are working through these patterns. Once a regular eating pattern has been established a more intuitive approach may be easier to adopt.

Set a schedule based on your current lifestyle (work, family, commutes, etc) and build your five times of eating into the schedule. You’ll be working to keep the eating schedule consistent with the understanding that perfection is not necessary. You are simply trying to get the body and mind on a schedule of regular eating to prevent future binges.

It is assumed that you are no longer using extreme forms of dieting after eating. To the best of your ability, do not eat in between your scheduled meals.

If you have a chaotic schedule, this may take time to implement. Do the best you can at focusing on consistency, planning ahead, and having food available so that you can eat when you are scheduled to do so.

You will still be monitoring intake so that you can continue to ask the same questions referenced above. Even though you are developing a consistent eating schedule, you may still have negative feelings (physical and/or emotional) around food that should be accounted for in your monitoring efforts. Stay candid, stay honest, and resist the urge to judge yourself.

Lastly, there are some other areas that would be in consideration for a long-term view for the individual struggling with binge eating.

Something that is a common thread when it comes to dietary practices is developing new coping mechanisms. For many people who struggle with binge eating, it can serve as the cope for when life is stressful, boring, tense or sad.

In taking that long-term view of health, new coping mechanisms will need to be developed and nurtured.

This may be in finding a new hobby or in reclaiming an old one. You’ll want something that serves as an active option (going for a walk, going for a hike, calling a friend, playing an instrument, etc.) Watching television is seen as a passive coping mechanism and will likely not accomplish the same goal.

Whatever you choose, make a list of viable alternatives because the urge to binge will still come. Remember that, for many people, binge patterns have been a part of their lives for many years and it will take time to not only accept that the urge to binge will come but that, like many urges, it will pass as well.

Finding alternative ways to occupy your body and your mind will help reduce the length of urges and the frequency in which they occur. If binge patterns are apparent because of challenges related to work, family, relationships or a trama informed response, working with a therapist can be crucial in this process.

It will help to find things that actually seem enjoyable and realistic to do. So, if you’re not an outdoor person and you think that hiking will be an option, it may not be a good fit. You may want to align with an activity that is more appealing and still effective at working through the urge to binge.

Throughout this time of exploring and implementing these activities, you’ll continue to monitor intake, addressing any areas of vulnerability or areas of opportunity to improve on, as well as keeping an eye on the trends of body weight through weekly weigh-ins.

Recognize that due to the fact that urges to binge will still come, you’re looking to develop insight into when you feel urges, what may be triggering the urges, learning how to spot problematic areas and having a plan for how to work through them. It’s an evolving process. Much like one would problem solve for a business, there are areas of opportunity, a plan to overcome obstacles and implementing those plans to see what works, what doesn’t and how to modify as you go.

Take the time to review what’s working in your problem solving process. How can things be improved? What could be done differently if a course of action didn’t go as planned? Practice forgiveness in ways that remind you of the progress you’ve made as you now have qualitative and quantitative data to show that binge eating has likely been reduced in your life.

It’s also at this point where you may want to experiment with re-introducing “forbidden” foods back into the diet. If you find this to be overwhelming at first, try only adding one or two foods at a time to assess your psychological readiness around them. It’s important to remind that the introduction of these foods still has the potential to trigger a binge so you’re aiming to introduce the ones you feel least likely will cause that outcome.

As with every step of the solutions for binge eating, expect some resistance, expect to still have moments when you struggle. This is part of the process and still is a very important step to tackle and develop confidence with.

Issues may still arise with the overvaluation of body image and size, since, as previously stated, this process is not designed specifically for the outcome of weight loss even though some may lose weight while working through these steps.

Also, it is still entirely possible that additional help is needed. You may still need the help of a therapist and/or a doctor to continue this process.

Strict/aggressive dieting is too risky of a scenario for those who have a history of binge eating. This is information I wish I knew more about throughout my career as it would have helped me better serve my clients and not attempt things that are popular in diet culture such as “food challenges” where certain foods/food groups are eliminated for the purposes of fat loss.

Should the individual who has struggled with binge eating still elect to lose fat after they have worked through these steps, a more conservative (less aggressive) diet approach may be suggested. Exercise for the purpose of holistic health and not as punishment can still be a part of a well-rounded plan.

Should you want more in-depth information on what I’ve written here, I highly recommend the book “Overcoming Binge Eating” by Dr. Christopher G. Fairburn where much of this information has been adapted from. Dr. Jake Linardon (www.breakbingeeating.com) has excellent information as well. If you prefer to take in information via podcasts, Georgie Fear, RD has a great show called “Breaking Up With Binge Eating”. In addition, I took knowledge from my work coaching nutrition for clients and my coursework with Mac-Nutrition Uni.

For my fellow coaches, especially those who also coach nutrition, be mindful of how certain dietary tips and practices can be triggering for those who struggle with binge eating. What works for one does not work for another. This is one of the reasons why diets don’t serve everyone equally.

Back To Therapy

As I write this, I think back to the periods of my life when I was in therapy.

First, it was in my early 20s, prior to the start of my decade of heavy drug use, and my life was a chaotic mess.

A decade later, I was back in therapy, for completely different reasons and still in something of a mess.

And in my 40s, I took another tour through therapy: first for a couple of visits after my father passed away and then again a few years ago.

I have remained a staunch advocate of therapy since this most recent turn.

One of the things that I felt I needed was a paternal voice in my ear. Since losing my father, it was a voice I knew I was missing.

Mind you, I still have family members I could turn to who could give me a “piece” of what my Dad would have. However, having great and supportive family members is one thing, having a great therapist is another.

Let me tell you what therapy isn’t for me:

Therapy isn’t having someone browbeat me.

Therapy isn’t having someone spell out the answers for the things that I struggle with.

Therapy isn’t having someone highlight all the things about me that are wrong or faulty.

Rather, therapy is having someone provide that little “nudge”, those small handfuls of questions that stop me in my tracks and make me consider how and why I do the things I do, when those same actions don’t make a lot of sense to me.

And, to be frank, with the things I can account for in my rather colorful life, there are a lot of things I’ve done that needed some explanation.

I went through a spell of about 7-8 months where I wasn’t in therapy most recently and, quite honestly, I’ve missed it.

Every time I was in therapy over the last 20+ years, something bad was always happening and so that became the correlation: therapy = bad things in life to sort through.

This time, it’s different.

It’s a way to unclog my mind.

It’s a way to get someone who “cares” about me who isn’t bound by blood or marriage to do so, who can ask me the questions I can’t ask myself.

And what I’ve learned over the last decade and a half of coaching others, is that a LOT of people probably need a therapist too.

If they’d make that happen, they’d probably find that their diet plans go better.

Or that their self-image invariably improves.

Or they’ll leave one toxic job or relationship for something healthier.

Therapy, for me, has become another part of my life no different than strength training for my body, cardiovascular work for my heart and mind, good nutrition to fuel everything I do and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to exclude it.

A person might ask themselves: Why would I need therapy?

And my response: Why wouldn’t you?

When the light comes on in your car for an oil change, you don’t wait until the engine starts smoking and 3 of 4 tires have gone flat, you get your oil changed because you value the life of the car and you don’t want to be left high and dry.

Doesn’t your brain deserve the same consideration? You live there ALL DAY.

And, somewhat selfishly, I think more men need to be in therapy.

I feel there is way too much men will cover up and assume that they can sort through without help and it’s to the detriment of the men who are drowning and pleading for help.

So, that’s a crusade I’ll go on.

This time, being back in therapy is refreshing. It doesn’t feel daunting because I’m not trying to “fix” anything. I just know that the best I can be for me is a better me for everyone who’s around.

And I’d like to keep all of those people around me.

Our Head Banging, Hell Raising Five Year Old

Sebastian (aka The Dude) turns 5 this week.

It’s hard for me to express what the journey from 4 to 5 actually has been like.

However, I’ll let you in on some parenting wins that have certainly made our favorite preschooler an entertaining part of the household.

I can think back to Sebastian when he could barely speak and I’d be opening his ear drums up to all manner of rock, punk, metal, etc.

So much so, that if it was naptime and I had him in his car seat to drift off, I could have some obnoxiously aggressive music playing and he’d be fast asleep in no time.

Over the last couple of years, his use of YouTube exposed him not just to the music I listen to but he came across older bands like Journey, Twisted Sister, Van Halen and more which he also enjoyed.

As I write this, we are preparing to surprise him with tickets to his first “big boy” concert in seeing Journey live this weekend…I know, I know, it’s not Steve Perry but he does happen to like both Steve and Arnel (the fella handling vocal duties for the band now).

Surprisingly, despite the fact that I used to sing in bands and his mother is an accomplished vocalist in her own right, Sebastian has never sung around us. We have caught him humming songs from time to time but no outright singing.

That was until about a month ago when Sebastian, my wife and my in-laws were at a July 4th party and the karaoke machine came out.

Sebastian decided he wanted to be in the spotlight.

When my wife asked him what song he wanted to sing, his response was “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.

And to the astonishment of friends and family, Sebastian held the mic, waited for the cue from the karaoke host and did his best rendition of the song (although it’s up in the air how many of the lyrics he actually knew!)

Nevertheless, it was a hit and we promptly put it up on social media so we could share the moment with others.

Since then, Sebastian is notorious for getting in my car and saying: “Dada, play something loud” or coming into RevFit despite the fact that there is a room full of clients training and asking: “Dada, can you play Pantera?”

And believe me, parent to parent, I’m proud as punch.

While he would never in a million years get this (in)formal music education from his mother, we do try to give him exposure to a lot of different styles of music.

He loves his electric guitar, he loves his drums, he loves science experiments, he loves fireworks, he loves electronics, he is apparently allergic to the word “No” and he loves throwing nuclear meltdowns.

For the record, his mother and I aren’t fond of the meltdowns but we try and work through it…

All in all, Sebastian is our favorite 5-year old. When he isn’t in meltdown mode or banging his head to Machine Head’s “Davidian” (another classic moment we caught on video), he is happy, he is loving, he still adores his big brother Jackson and I think he’s going to have a very good birthday.

To our head banging, hell raising child…Sebastian, we love you. Happy Birthday, Dude.

Completely Random Fat Loss Tips

-If you want to eat hyper-palatable foods, portion out the serving size into small Ziploc baggies. For instance, if a serving size of crackers, chips, nuts, trail mix, etc. is “X”, take the time to portion that amount out into several baggies so you’re less likely to keep going back into the same container. If you don’t want to take the time to do this, see if someone else in your household will do it for you.

-Always order salad dressing on the side. Practice “spearing” the dressing: dip your fork into the dressing and then pick up as much of your salad as you can.

-When dining out, eat your protein & veggies first and starches last. You may find that filling up on protein and fibrous carbs is more satiating than say, breads, pastas, and rice.

-Consider drinking a little bit of zero calorie seltzer water before consuming a restaurant meal. The carbonation may help reduce how much you consume (Coke, Pepsi, etc. probably will not have this effect). If seltzer isn’t available, try drinking regular water before your meal.

-Don’t discount the value of making a meal swap: grab a protein shake and a small piece of fruit instead of your standard breakfast or lunch.

-If you don’t want to count calories, find TV dinners/frozen entrees that fall in line to 300-600 calories and have at least 20-30g of protein.

-Reduce temptation in your home. You wouldn’t ask a recovering alcoholic to mix drinks at a your birthday party just because you heard they make a mean Manhattan. If you don’t feel in control of certain foods, minimize the exposure you have to them in your home/workplace.

-Routinely ask yourself: what is the least amount of “X” food I can have that will satisfy me? Think about things like desserts, alcohol, etc.

-Sharing food/desserts is a sneaky easy way to reduce your calories. I’ll enjoy a milkshake, a piece of cake, etc a lot more if I share it with my son Sebastian (for instance).

-If you’re currently peri-menopausal or menopausal, foods/alcohol that you used to consume may no longer be tolerable for you. It’s not fair but it may be your reality.

-Get better at saying No. You can do it politely. Having boundaries will take you far with dieting.

-If you are a woman, married to (or in a LTR) with a man, there is a fantastic chance that if you both are dieting, he can eat almost double what you can and not only lose weight but lose weight faster than you. This is also unfair but it’s also very common.

-Be mindful of the food pushers in your life. They are either consciously or unconsciously sabotaging your efforts. It isn’t because they don’t love you or care about you. It’s because the very act of you trying to diet upsets the status quo and some people are very resistant to change.

-I have seen more people than I will ever be able to count screw up their fat loss efforts through liquid calories. This could be alcohol consumption, juice, energy drinks (not zero calorie), dressings, condiments, cooking oils, coffee creamer, etc. If you’re not losing fat, start looking there.

-There is nothing wrong with you if you have trigger foods and your friends or loved ones do not. Stay aware of what those foods are, let the people in your life know what they are and reduce your exposure to them.

-Treat your nutrition coach/RD like you would your accountant/bookkeeper. If I needed help balancing my accounts (income/expenses) and I “forgot” to throw in a couple of credit cards with balances on them, the numbers won’t be right. You may not like how your diet looks but the more honest you are about what’s happening there, the easier your coach can help you.

-Last but not least, you are under NO obligation to lose weight (unless you have a health issue that is directly correlated to your current weight.) At any point, you can stop weight loss or proceed forward. Stay in the driver’s seat.