“What’s on the other side of sugar?”

Laura repressed a lot of things.

Her marriage, her ambitions, her feelings.

She was taught by her parents to stuff things down. She was taught to think her wants were selfish. To speak up for herself was considered selfish if it would “disturb the peace.” Things were a certain way and Laura had a duty to preserve that way.

She let a bad marriage go 10 years because of this mindset and worldview.

With few outlets, Laura turned to food for relief.

In a backward sort of way, she could enforce a sense of control over satisfaction, which was largely absent in her life. Food provided what life could not. Or so she thought.

As is to be expected, food got the best of her.

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Progress Isn’t Linear

Your life isn’t linear.

Progress is not linear.

Nothing is inevitable. Your current state does not define a future outcome, nor does it represent a fixed identity.

We must embrace the lows, we must scrape and fall, in order to grow. Growth may only occur from investing in your vulnerabilities, in your weaknesses, in the unknown.

How could you possibly know how to deal with the unknown until you face it?

Your inability to immediately master a foreign concept or problem doesn’t render you weak or stupid; it renders you fierce for facing it. Stare it dead in the eye and your confidence will grow. You’ll come back to center when you see that on the other side of fear is life per usual, only a little different.

You’ll have gained something. An understanding, intuition, dexterity…confidence. Commit to the process. Face your fear.

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7 Reasons Why You Don’t Need to Exercise to Lose Weight

Without fail, all of my clients lose weight without even trying to lose weight, and without any formal exercise besides walking and some light cardio or aerobics a few times per week.

Question: Do you think you need to exercise every day to “be healthy”? Are you fixated on the outcome of losing weight? Do you value quick weight loss over learning, adopting, training, and mastering an entire new life-skill (“being healthy”)?

I’m here to discuss your relationship with food and the process toward mastery, as opposed to chasing desired outcomes (i.e—losing weight, looking good, feeling good, etc.)—all of which will happen if we construct a lifestyle and mindset that support success.

If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, then you already know my stance: “Dieting” is fundamentally at odds with learning and is the explicit reason why you haven’t been successful achieving or maintaining health and happiness.

Regarding diet and exercise and everything else the media pushes at you…

Your goal should not be to lose as much weight as quickly as possible; your goal should be to master your diet. Exhausting yourself to death at the gym confuses your bodily needs and, paradoxically, will make you fat.

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You Have a Relationship with Food

The education system missed a fundamental component of teaching skills: there’s a relationship between you and the thing you’re doing, the instrument you’re holding, the task at hand.

If you think of skill acquisition as a relationship, one that needs attention and cultivation and constant reinvention, perhaps this whole dieting thing will be an easier concept to digest. (Horrible pun intended.)

Rather than approaching your diet with a “dieting mentality” – forcing something that doesn’t feel right, I encourage you to treat your relationship with food as you would a relationship with a person. Ultimately, you are. You’re cultivating a deeper relationship with yourself.

Why do people throw themselves so hopefully into new relationships, only to undermine themselves?

Why does that sound eerily like dieting?

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Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

One of the most important concepts I teach my clients is the difference between the “fixed” mindset and the “growth” mindset.

It’s a bit like “nature vs nurture”:

People with a fixed mindset believe that you have fixed qualities. Your intelligence, character, and personality are what they are, because that’s how you were born. They’re unchangeable.

People with a growth mindset believe that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your own efforts. Everyone can grow and change through application and experience.

Which one would you instinctively say resonates more with you?

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Believing You’re a Victim  

I had this client named Ashley.

I told Ashley that her troubles with her weight and self-esteem were a result of thoughts she was believing and certain choices she was not making.

“I get what you’re saying intellectually,” she said. “But I don’t really get it down here yet…in my heart.”

“I disagree with you,” I said. “I think you don’t get it intellectually, otherwise if you really got it, you’d have it and you’d never lose it. So let’s keep talking about it.”

She couldn’t yet see where she was automatically believing her negative victim thoughts without challenging them at all, without even holding them up to the light like a $100 bill to see if they were counterfeit.

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The Enemy is Resistance

When you’re a novice at something—let’s take, for example, adopting a new diet and lifestyle—it’s outrageously tempting to want to be perfect. You want to get it right all at once rather than find your stride, invest in mistakes, and master the major core principles that will get you 80% there.

We call this the “beginner’s dilemma.”

When it comes to learning any new skill, discipline, or hobby, the Beginner’s Dilemma is a complex that lives inside of us. It’s the one thing that stops the majority of us from moving on, because when we start something new we want to be perfect at it….and when we come to meet our own deficiencies we realize the amount of effort the new endeavor will require to master.

Trying to do everything “100%” is a deadly gamble and often a major indicator of early-stage fatigue, burnout and/or quitting. Remember, if soon after picking up a guitar you already hate yourself for not being able to solo like Hendrix then you’ll automatically toss the guitar aside, reject deep practice, and remove yourself from the process before you’ve actually learned something new. We must build a foundation and then grow from there.

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The 7 Steps of Mastery: the New Way to “Diet”

If you were going to learn to play the piano, how would you start?

Would you just sit down, randomly push on the pedals, and press any key at your whim?

Of course not. You wouldn’t know what you’re doing so how could you expect to make music?

Unfortunately, when it comes to applications like taking our health into our own hands, for some bizarre reason, this simple logic is ignored. We all want some quick fix, the magic elixir. We each want to be the exception to the rule. “Dieting doesn’t work for anyone else, but I’m different.”

Mozart, one of the greatest child “prodigies” of all time, took nine years to become a master composer. Prodigy is just another word for training. Even he couldn’t shortcut it.

If you want to be fit and lean for the rest of your life—the fantasy we all desire—something you never have to think about, then wouldn’t it serve you to think of your diet and lifestyle as a long-term project and not something that has an expiration date?

That’s why I look to the mastery model of skill acquisition to guide my clients toward their health and weight goals.

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Client Case Study: The Power of Identifying Your Keystone Habit

One of my clients, Karen, just couldn’t get breakfast right.

Her mornings were rushed and scattered and she’d often leave the house without having eaten breakfast. For Karen, the morning was a race. She derived a great sense of pride getting to the office before her colleagues. It was thrilling. She knew she was in line for a promotion to become an agent at the talent agency she’d been with for three years.

Her promotion, she thought, was at odds with her securing a healthy breakfast, which would often lead to a series of poor food choices she later regretted. For example, she’d frequently end up getting Cinnabon around 10am, as it was conveniently located in the rotunda of her Manhattan office building. It didn’t always happen, and her choice wasn’t always as egregious as Cinnabon, but it was most mornings, and it was always a choice at odds with her goals.

Believe me, we tried everything. From preparing breakfast the night before, to waking up earlier and eating at home, to bringing a Greek yogurt with her on the go (which she didn’t like). Nothing felt right. Nothing clicked…until it did. And then everything clicked.

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