“Can I get a strawberry smoothie? And a small order of fries?”
That was me, sometime in 2010, ordering my “usual” at the McDonald’s drive-thru down the road from our house.
One of my habits around that time was to pick up my daughter, Grace, from the carpool line at her school and drive to McDonald’s a few times a week to get that order as a snack in the late afternoon.
By that time of day, I had finished my practicum sessions at the non-profit counseling center where I worked in Smoketown. I was worn out from packing as many people as I could into my schedule before I picked up my kids and went home for the night.
I usually didn’t eat lunch, but I almost always had the biggest styrofoam cup of Diet Coke (with extra ice) I could get from a gas station.
That smoothie, though, and those French fries felt comforting to me — like a reward for a long day of intense, very personal work with people who were often in a lot of pain.
I rationalized that the smoothie was a pretty healthy choice, because — hey — it’s a fruit smoothie, so I was getting some nutrition out of it, even though it was probably full of sugar.
And the small fries were portion control. In my mind, I told myself that I could have a “treat,” but not really be “bad.” I needed that hit of salt and fat, though.
I was also fighting with myself all the time about losing weight. Most of that conflict started in 2000 when my body was carrying an extra 70 lbs. after giving birth to my nearly 10 lb. baby daughter.
Throughout my 30s, I believed I could never “get on top of it” as far as my body was concerned — how I wanted it to look and how much I wanted it to weigh.
I’d lose and gain the same weight (or more) over and over again.
I tried all kinds of diets, exercise regimens, tips and tricks to “get it together” — portion control plates and containers shakes, Weight Watchers, running a ½ marathon and being jarred awake with 5:30 a.m. boot camps.
I was hard on myself.
Underneath the layer of disappointment was some degree of shame.
I felt like this strong, elegant, striking, edgy and interesting woman was inside of me and couldn’t get out. I was almost 40, though; maybe she was gone.
I was still in that place in 2010, but growing tired of the same cycle of chasing perfection and “failing.” I had just gone through years of infertility, several miscarriages, moving to a new house, the adoption of my son … and pursuing my second master’s degree.
Girl. you’d want french fries every day, too, after all of that.
I had a beautiful, full life, but I didn’t feel at home in my body — I felt like running away from that home.
About a year after that — the month of my 40th birthday — I hired a life coach to help me lose weight in a way that had nothing to do with diets, calculations, restrictions or relentless exercise.
It had a lot more to do with how I saw myself in the world.
How was I living my life as a whole — not just isolating my body?
What was I telling myself about the woman I was? The woman I wanted to be?
What if the strong, elegant, striking, edgy and interesting woman had never left?
What if I stopped waiting on the weight and embraced that essence right now instead of longing for an external outcome to bring it forth?
And hour by hour, day by day, week by week, I made that happen.
I realized I could make decisions about how I wanted to show up in the world versus waiting for something outside of myself to make me happy.
I paid attention to my habits and checked in with myself to see if they lined up with who I wanted to be.
And choice after choice, habit by habit, so many things changed.
Life became more exciting and full of possibilities. Taking care of myself was a whole new process.
I felt like I’d unlocked a secret that was in front of me all along.
I was happy. I also lost over 35 lbs. that year.
Notice that I didn’t say this:
“I lost over 35 lbs. that year. And then I was happy.”
That’s what I try to teach the women I work with who come to me tangled up with overwhelm, tired minds and tired bodies.
If they have their smoothie and french fry moments, we look at the “why?” — just curious — not condemning.
Sometimes you just want the damn smoothie and fries. Have it. Restriction usually breeds contempt and rebellion without a cause.
But sometimes, the drive-thru trips are about other stuff, especially if you’re mentally kicking your ass after eating it.
I’m not telling the smoothie/fries story to show that I was “bad” and irresponsible around the food choices I made. Food is just-food. We assign meaning to it.
At that time in my life, I later learned, these choices I made were connected to emotional eating.
Emotional eating isn’t all about sitting in your bathrobe, eating a half-gallon of ice cream out of the carton and crying.
The smoothie and fries were emotional eating for me in the sense that I felt like it provided some comfort — a reward for a challenging day.
It was a habit I created as a threshold into the next part of my day that wasn’t always easy or peaceful: going home, making dinner and tending to my children.
I’d have that fast food, though, and later feel a sense of guilt and frustration. It usually made my body feel gross, too.
I got mad at myself for going behind my own back and rationalizing that fast food was the best choice to support my goals of what I wanted so much at that time, part of which was to lose about 25 lbs.
And I’d stay in that continuous loop.
Until I learned a new way not to do that.
When my clients are trying to change thoughts and behaviors that aren’t aligned with their desires, they often wish they’d just flip a mental switch and stop doing or start doing certain things.
They end up feeling frustrated and hopeless at times, and that’s when I’ll tell them the smoothie and french fries story.
How did I stop the drive-thru habit?
Here’s what didn’t work:
Telling myself –
“You can’t have that anymore.”
“You’re screwing up again.”
“I can’t change this. I keep trying and failing. It’s bigger than me.”
Here’s what really happened:
One day — I can’t tell you the exact day or time — but one day — sometime around eight years ago, I got curious instead of fearful and judgmental with my habit.
The thoughts that accompanied this new way of looking at things:
What if I didn’t have this today?
What if I made a different choice?
What if I could find something I liked that’s more aligned with the changes I’m trying to make?
What do I get to have versus what will I deny myself?
And so day after day, week after week, month after month — and now eight years later — I answered those questions and felt really good about my decisions.
To this day, you will find a variety of small packets of nuts and usually an apple in the console of my car.
Today, unless it was all that was available, I would never choose a trip to McDonald’s for a smoothie and fries as a snack.
It’s just not what I do anymore.
And there’s no judgment from me if that’s your thing (or tacos, or cookies, or chips). Remember, it’s just food. We assign meaning to it — and to ourselves as a result of eating certain things.
I never once thought I was on a “new diet” when I was making these changes. No one was giving me a plan to follow or rules not to break.
I was taking what I knew about food, movement and myself and making those decisions.
You can love your body and change your body — these are not mutually exclusive. Some people might disagree with me, but that’s okay. This is my belief.
I still eat dessert every day. I make Trader Joe’s potato fries for dinner sometimes.
I decided to do something different all those years ago in a kind and curious way. Most importantly, I decided to think differently.
I kept doing it.
I practiced every day. And when it didn’t go as planned, I just got back into it.
Resilience. Not restriction.
The bounce-back versus the cut-off.
That’s where miracles are born.
Stop hitting the drive-thru and start feasting on life.
There’s so much out there for us to do, see and experience instead of putting so much energy into shrinking ourselves.
I’m married to a 5th generation funeral director and here’s a fact:
He (nor his ancestors) has never, ever once heard from a family he has served in 155 years, that Grandma’s, Dad’s or Mom’s last words on their deathbed were:
“I wish I hadn’t eaten that cupcake.”
“I wish I had spent more hours at the office.”
Have some cake.
Eat your vegetables.
Do work that means something to you.
Get some rest.
Love your family.
Move your body.
Need some help?
Read on …
Mind. Movement. Momentum.
NO beating yourself up.
NO one-size-fits-all plan.
NO “cheat days” (hate that term).
NO food jail (the restriction / elimination / “dangerous” food mentality).
NO to being a “good” or “bad” person as defined by what you put into your mouth.
NO “I hate” …. “don’t have time for” … “can’t do”… “am too tired for” … “it’s boring” exercise lies.
NO putting yourself and your health so far on the back burner of life that you ain’t even on the stove — you’re still in the dark cupboard with the other pots and pans.
And what if, in 30 days, you would be able to say:
YES to your plan for your life.
YES to small steps resulting in big changes.
YES to now versus someday.
YES to trusting yourself.
YES to consistency and commitment.
YES to progress versus perfection.
YES to resilience — because life happens, and there’s a distraction, disruption, drama, and disappointment. You will train your brain to remember your “why” and keep going.
YES to the appreciation for your body — love for your body — and what it gives you every day versus it not being enough or taking too much space.
YES to discovering that maybe — just maybe — you might be an athlete. I became one in my 40s when, up until then, I never even considered it to be a possibility.
YES to having someone champion you, guide you, encourage you, teach you and motivate you (that’s me! I’m all yours!).
It’s time to Level Up.
In my practice, I offer 15-minute free phone consultation for prospective clients.
Almost every single conversation is a rundown of challenges and pain points where women need my help:
They are seeking overall happiness and fulfillment.
We’ll talk about their careers, partners, children, grief, money or loneliness.
And quite often, in those last five or six minutes of our conversation, she will say something like this:
“And also …”
- “I hate my body.”
- “I’ve never felt or looked worse in my whole life.”
- “I overeat to make myself feel better. Then I feel angry and ashamed. Then I do it again.”
- “I hate exercising. I start with the dedication and then I let it go.
- “I’m eating (or sometimes drinking) more than I really want or need to. I don’t like how that feels.”
- “Exercise is for people who have more time than I do. I am so smothered by my career and family obligations that there is no way I can make time for it. Everything will fall apart.”
- “I did the ____________diet, and all I did was obsess over counting points/carb cycling / the number of almonds I could eat / macros / the number of pounds I gained back after I “finished” the program.”
- Don’t get me wrong, the other issues people bring to me are important, but what I have learned by working with clients for thousands of hours is this:
If we only address those other issues and I’m not asking you if you have a plan for taking care of your health and how you put that into action, then everything else is really just a house of cards.
My experience has shown me that the reverse doesn’t work — or at least doesn’t hold up long.
The job, the baby, the money, the kids being raised or the perfect partner aren’t always going to make you take excellent care of yourself.
It’s not about perfection or being happy all of the time; life is full of ebbs and flows and ups-and-downs.
Let’s talk about the exercise you love, food as your friend, time for self-reflection and fun as the foundation of your growth and happiness.
THIS … THIS is what women are really calling me for most of the time:
“Please help me learn how to take better care of my body.”
“Please help me figure out how exercise doesn’t have to suck.”
“Please help me get off the diet train and do something sane and sustainable when it comes to food.”
“Please help me figure out how to stay motivated.”
“Please help me be able to like my body. Is it even possible to love my body?”
So I’m coming to you with something that’s all about that — coaching, challenges, support, accountability, love, and toughness around how to live in your best body.
I’ve created a 1:1 coaching “express” package for you called LEVEL UP.
Level Up with courage with tenacity.
Level Up with love and patience.
It’s a laser-focused program that focuses on putting your health on the top shelf.
This is what I do. This is my best work.
Yes, I can help you with stress, depression, grief, anxiety or divorce, among other things.
What I know for sure, though, is that if you take care of your body and your mind supports that, you empower yourself to work through anything that is thrown at you in life.
It’s the first order of business with every single client I serve.
My personal experience has also taught me that taking exceptional care of myself has saved my ass. I know I can handle the rough waters if I stay physically and mentally strong.
I offer you my tools, guidance, and knowledge through social media and blog posts; thank you for the comments, messages, and emails where you let me know how they inspired you or helped you create change in your life.
However, there is nothing like having me all to yourself in your life. Scrolling and reading cannot compare to having an accountability partner who knows your history, your goals, where you need the most encouragement and what your lifestyle is like.
The depths of personal growth happens best when we connect with someone to be our champion, coach, counselor, teacher, and guide.
That’s what I did nine years ago when I got tired of going it alone with diets, self-help books and my stops-and-starts with exercise.
I hired a coach, decided who I wanted to be, and how I wanted my life to reflect that.
That 1:1 work inspired me to stop making promises to myself and become deeply committed. A promise is different from making a commitment.
When you get married, you make promises to one another to create a life together no matter the circumstances.
A commitment is deeper than the promise, and that comes with the day-to-day living.
When we’re committed to something, we find a way to appreciate ordinary life. Being consistent and committed is about loving what goes on in the in-between, not just the end result.
That’s what I want to teach you on this journey to take your health and fitness level to greater heights.
I want you to enjoy the process.
I want you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and embrace the feeling of pushing yourself.
That’s when you become the woman you want to be and make self-care a priority. It will become as normal as brushing your teeth.
Level Up is a 1:1 coaching program that includes:
- Extensive pre-work from me (lots of questions for you to answer) so I know where you’re at and what you want before we dive into the first session.
- Three 1 hour sessions that are ideally scheduled no more than 10 days apart within the 30 days of the program. You can see me in person or we’ll have phone sessions.
- Those three sessions are scheduled right away so you have a solid commitment set up right away. That way, you can’t drift into weeks or months beyond the program. It’s an intensive, so the continuity of the time we meet is important.
- Plans, challenges, and homework designed specifically for your goals. Whether we’re focusing on your relationship with food or fitness (or both), I’ve got an arsenal of the best tools I’ve created and used with my clients for the past seven years. These are my “greatest hits” and some new things, too.
- Every Level Up participant can expect to work on the importance of their mindset and how this is the foundation of transforming anything in your life.
- In between those hour-long sessions, you can message me, text me or email me to share the progress of what we’ve designed for you in each session. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll come lookin’ — but it is your job — your commitment — to connect with me in this process. I am here to serve you; don’t take that for granted.
- You will be required to move your body during this process. Exercise. I will work with you to find a way to move your body that you look forward to — I want you to love it. You will go on a fitness scavenger hunt to find those treasures, whether it’s daily walks, working with a trainer, yoga, Zumba, aqua classes, Pilates — I’m loaded with knowledge about what’s out there, the results you can expect to get, and how to integrate movement into your life on a regular basis so it becomes who you are — not inconsistent or non-existent. It’s a non-negotiable, If you don’t think you have time, you’re just lying to yourself. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
All of my skill, devotion, knowledge, care, guidance, inspiration and motivation in Level Up is available to you for $599.
Once I see your registration come through, I will send you your Level Up pre-work and we will set up your 1:1 appointments.
First come, first served — between my private practice, my work as a fitness coach at my gym, having a family, and taking care of myself (practicing what I preach), my calendar is filling up.
I challenge you to find a licensed therapist … who’s also a life coach … who’s also a group exercise instructor … who’s also a personal trainer — an ideal professional combination to help you get to the heart of this and get things done.
I challenge you to find a woman who has all of those professional qualifications and has also:
- lost over 35 pounds eight years ago and changed her relationship with her body forever
- who trusts herself (not a plan designed by a company whose goal is to profit from me gaining and losing the same weight over and over again) to eat for energy and take pleasure in food (both can co-exist)
- who loves to move her body and has tried and embraced many forms of exercise — it should be an adventure to find out what you and your body love — not a burden
- whose 48-year-old body is stronger and healthier than the woman she was in her 30s with a 70 lb. postpartum weight gain and the battle scars — physically and emotionally — of four miscarriages in less than two years
When you’re done looking, and you realize that I’m the one — let’s get going.
HOWEVER, as of this writing (Monday, September 9th),
two FIVE of the 10 spots I’m offering have been claimed by women who saw my Facebook posts and signed up right away.
Don’t spend all of your time ruminating and reading this email 45 times.
Come with me. I’ve got you.
It’s never too late, you’re never too old, and nothing is too good to be true.