Are you ‘tuned in’ to opportunity?

Image courtesy of scottchan

Image courtesy of scottchan

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ~Milton Berle

A couple of nights ago, I was on a breakthrough session with someone over the phone and we got on the topic of commuting to work. She explained that she’s in her car about two hours per day and she’s often frustrated when she’s stuck in traffic. I think we’ve all been there, especially if we don’t see it coming. But she’s made the drive often enough to know what to expect and so the negative feelings around it are probably showing up even when she’s not making the drive.

To ease the stress that can eventually contribute to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain (she would like to lose weight), and more, my suggestion for her was to use her two hour drive to listen to something inspirational that will lift her mood, or if there was a particular topic she was interested in, why not use the time to learn about it.

A few years ago when I was getting certified as a health coach, I was commuting from CT to Boston once per week. It was a three hour drive into the city (mostly because of rush hour traffic), and about two hours home. Of course, it did have its moments, especially if I was tired. But I realized it was the perfect opportunity to listen to my class lectures. And so I listened to the majority of my schoolwork while driving! And even today, because I’m often in the car, I’ve got plenty of backup to listen to.

The bigger message here is not necessarily about the health risks related to long commutes, but that the lens you look through can have a dramatic impact on your health. When you face a problem, is it from the point of view if its limitations and do you allow it to frustrate you, or can you see an opportunity?

If the commuter gets frustrated on her way to work, how might that affect her performance on the job? If she’s in a bad mood when she gets home, how will it impact her relationship with her family? How might it impact her health? Or the likelihood that she’ll make healthy food choices rather than eat “unintentionally”. And then, what about her ability to lose weight?

Might listening to something uplifting get her to work in a more upbeat mood? Will she have more energy during the day or walk through the door with a bigger smile for her family? Will she hear a nugget of information that changes her life for the better? Would she learn something that if she shared it with someone, would ultimately help them?

I would say yes to all of the above, and more! Because the ripple effect is far more powerful than you realize. You can never fully predict the influence you’ll have on another person and sending ripples of positive energy are always better than the alternative. The key is that they begin from within and the way you choose to view whatever you’re facing makes all the difference – for everyone.

Why it’s totally sensible to indulge…

ariel and salmonHere’s yet another reason make dieting a thing of the past:  our mind-body connection.  You probably already know that dieting leads to feelings of deprivation that can eventually lead to bingeing.  What you may not be aware of is that how you react psychologically to what you’re eating may have a direct impact on your physiology.

Seems simple doesn’t it?  We eat, we get full, and the motivation to eat stops.  However, it seems it’s a little more complicated than that.

A couple of years ago, researchers at Yale University carried out a study in which they had subjects come in on two separate occasions, set one week apart, to drink and rate two drinks.   One of the drinks, called “Indulgence”, had 630 calories, 30 grams of fat, and 56 grams of sugar; and had a picture of a hot fudge sundae on the label.   The second drink was called a “Sensi-Shake”.  It had 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 20 grams of sugar; and the label said “Guilt-free Satisfaction.”   You can see the actual labels here.

What the subjects didn’t realize was that although the labels were very different, the shakes were actually both an identical 380-calorie shake.  For each test, they showed up in the morning after a night of fasting.  Then, they were shown the label of the shake they thought they were about to drink and then given ten minutes to drink the shake.  The subjects were then asked to rate the shake on taste as well as their levels of hunger at different intervals.

In addition, blood samples were taken before they began, after they read the labels, and then again after they drank the shake to measure levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin that rises when the stomach is empty to induce the sensation of hunger in the brain.  Ghrelin levels then drop when the stomach detects food and nutrients.

This is where it got interesting.  When the subjects thought they were drinking an indulgent shake, their ghrelin levels rose sharply in anticipation of the shake and then dropped significantly in response.  But when they thought they were being sensible, ghrelin remained relatively flat, suggesting that their satiety levels were at least in part, governed at the psychological level.   In their minds, they didn’t derive as much satisfaction from the drink, and their bodies metabolically followed suit.

This begs the question, if you treat each meal or eating experience as an indulgence, will you be more satisfied physiologically?  We don’t know for sure, yet, but I know that every time I’ve had an eating experience that engaged all of my senses–and in particular, my sense of sight through a beautiful presentation, I also felt more physically satisfied.  Experiencing that amount of pleasure from a meal can only be positive.

If you’ve ever had the opposite experience–“being good” with a ‘diet’ meal or a meal that simply wasn’t satisfying and felt deprived, then you can probably relate to being hungry thirty minutes later or being obsessed with food, making the temptation to eat again stronger.

The authors also brought up a good point that may be hurting those trying to be ‘good’ with their eating.  A package, for example that’s labeled, ‘low-fat’ may have you thinking you’re eating diet food – even, for example, if it’s high in sugar.  Continuously reaching for foods like these that potentially never satisfy (and are addictive and stimulate the appetite) may backfire when it comes to weight loss and lead to even bigger health problems down the road.

My takeaway from this?  Enjoy whatever it is you’re eating and as always, the best foods come without labels.

Are you ready for a resolution?

Image courtesy of FrameAngel

Happy New Year!!! 

This morning, Marianne Williamson tweeted something that I want to share:  The universe is already programmed to give each of us a year of joy.  Our challenge lies in programming ourselves to receive it.  What’s one of the best ways to make that happen?  Showing gratitude!  For me, this is the perfect way to begin 2013.
With that said, many people believe that the way to begin the New Year is with resolutions.  And if you’re like 50% of people, you decided to make one.  The most common are to lose weight, exercise more, and quit smoking.  It seems like a perfect time, right?  New year – new you.

Clinical psychologists have actually studied the process of making New Year’s resolutions and in so many ways they’re similar to the processes I help my clients through–forming new habits over time that involve permanent behavioral changes.  For many of them, their resolution simply happens at a different time of the year.

In full disclosure, I can’t remember the last time I made a New Year’s resolution–if ever; and if I had, I’m not sure how long I kept it.  Looking back at most of the new habits I’ve formed, they usually involved something major happening in my life at the time, rather than the calendar.

One study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology that tracked 159 people who set a New Year’s resolution and 123 people who hadn’t, found that six months later, 46% of the resolvers were still keeping their resolutions while only 4% of the non-resolvers were following through with changes.   So the concept of setting a resolution suggests you’ll have more success.

Although 46% seems high, it also suggests that 54% of people gave up within six months.  If you’re part of that group and this year, are ready for success, here are some reasons why you may have given up in the past and some tips for finally making your resolutions stick, whether you begin them today, or in July:

Reason 1:  Resolutions are executed unrealistically.  For example, if you’ve never exercised before and decide it’s time to start, and then expect that you’ll work out seven days/week for two hours each day, you’ll quickly burn out, get frustrated, even risk injuring yourself, and give up.

Success tip 1:  Start from where you’re at.  Never exercised before?  Begin slowly for example, with daily walks.  About a year ago, after not exercising for decades, my parents began walking, either outdoors or at the mall.  They began slowly and have increased their time/distance gradually.  And in the last year, my dad has lost 25 pounds (more on how he did it in another post), in part because of his walking with mom.  The key is that it is doable for them (they’re both 76!) and they’ve consistently walked 3-4 times per week.

Reason 2:  You’re making them for the wrong reasons.   Your friends and family are telling you that it’s time to (fill in the blank) and so you resolve to (fill in the blank).  Or your friend has made a resolution so you decide to join in.  Even though they’re ready for you to begin, you may be at the pre-contemplation (not yet acknowledging) or contemplation stage where you’ve acknowledged a behavior that needs to be changed but you’re not sure if you’re ready.

Success tip 2:  Understand your “why” behind your resolution.  You say you want to eat healthier?  OK, why?  What will happen as a result of you choosing better foods?  How will your life look different?  How will you feel?  By getting in touch with what you’ll be creating with your resolution, at the visceral level, you’ll be more likely to follow through, even when the going gets tough.   And to keep the motivation fresh and in the front of your mind, write it down and post it somewhere you’ll see it often, like on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, or your computer screen or desk.

Reason 3:  Inspiration fades quickly and motivation diminishes.  If you’re like me right now, you’re simply a little tired of eating rich meals and desserts and you’re ready to get back to normal.  Many people use this as their motivation for a resolution.  However, have you ever stuffed yourself on Thanksgiving and said, “I’m never going to eat again,” only to wake up the next morning and ask, “What’s for breakfast?”  I think I have.   Which is why I love this quote by the late, great Zig Ziglar:  People often say motivation doesn’t last.  Neither does bathing, that’s why I recommend it daily.

Success tip 3:  Enlist support.  For years, I ran or worked out at the gym by myself, and it wasn’t until I began working with a trainer at the gym that I realized I wasn’t making the most of my exercise time.  Having a friend to walk with at lunch, a spouse that’s ready to eat healthier too, someone you can call for support when you’re ready to cave, a trainer to make your workouts more efficient, or even a health coach to hold you accountable are just a few support systems that work.

And as always, if you are ready for support from a health coach, I’d love to have a conversation with you to discuss how working together will help you achieve your goals.  A year will go by anyway.  Imagine how you could be feeling January 1st, 2014 if you do take that step!

Also, if you normally eat a healthy diet, yet indulged over the holidays, The ClearYou 14-day Detox is something to consider.  This is not a juice cleanse or fast.  It involves eating real food with additional liver support that cleans all your cells, not just your digestive tract.  For this time of year, I’ve added more cold-weather friendly recipes and it includes additional components that address the mental/emotional aspects of detoxing, making it even more effective.  Interested?  Contact me today to learn how you can get started.

As we enter 2013, my wish for you is that you allow yourself to receive peace, happiness, abundant good health, and prosperity for this year and many to come.
Warm wishes and with much gratitude,

Linda DiBella

Self-sabotage and the Fear of Success

Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Several weeks ago, I wrote an article that talked about a book by Gay Hendricks called the Big Leap in which the author discusses the universal “Upper Limit Problem” and how so many people, no matter how successful they are, will find a way to sabotage their world when things are going well.   Today, I want to share with you a ‘real-life’ example from one of my clients to demonstrate how easily we can fall into this trap – for any number of reasons.

Over the summer, Laura took part in a three-week detox program and got tremendous results.  She was following a healthier eating plan, was feeling and looking better, was releasing a lot of emotional baggage, and was excited to move forward with her new healthier lifestyle in her personal life and within her role as a spiritual coach.

Then something interesting happened.  Laura took part in a photo shoot that produced some stunning photos of her.  When I first saw them, I remember thinking, WOW!  She’s gorgeous, she’s glowing, she’s confident, and I could see success in her future.  Yet, rather than continue to move upwards and outwards during this growth spurt, Laura suddenly found herself–without contemplation–pulling into the drive-thru everyday for a fast food lunch.   She (unknowingly at first) was shrinking back due to a fear of success and sabotaging all the great results she was beginning to see with her health.   Luckily, she identified it very quickly and took steps to get back on track.

Isn’t it ironic that although most of us are afraid of failure, we also have a fear of success?  Whatever that success may look like–and it’s different for everyone–we begin to tell ourselves stories like: I’ll be too busy, I’ll have to give up something, I’ll lose people in my life, I’m not good enough, or things will change.  These are just a few of the many “reasons” we tell ourselves about why we can’t go for it; whatever “it” may be.  I catch myself doing it too.  It usually involves the word “but”.   As in, “I would, but…” And these types of situations are also why I work with clients over a time frame of 3-6 months, or more; because things inevitably come up and it helps to have the support and accountability from someone who’s not “in our heads” so to speak, buying into our false beliefs.

Think about where and how in your own life you may be unconsciously sabotaging your own personal growth and why.  Is it through procrastination, food, TV, toxic relationships?  What is this behavior producing in your life, and what is it ultimately costing you physically, emotionally, spiritually, or yes, even financially?  If you believe a fear of success is something you struggle with, I want to leave you with an excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles that may help release any resistance that holds you back from going for what you really want:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? 

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.