January 8, 2016

I Was a Control Freak

When I was a kid, my riding teacher would tell me to relax on my horse, and I would think to myself Relax? Heck no. If I relax, I will fall off! And I would grip the reins tighter. When I was struggling with eating disorders in my teens and twenties, I was sure if I relaxed around food I would eat everything in sight. I worried that if I took a day off from exercise I would never get off the couch again. I used to try to make everything OK when there was a family fight. My twin joked that I was the peacemaker. In truth, I just heightened family drama by inserting myself. Now, after decades of trying to control myself and […]
December 15, 2015

Getting Through the Holidays

Willpower is “control deliberately exerted to do something, or to restrain one’s own impulses”. Synonyms for willpower include such words as determination, tenacity, strength of character. We admire people who have a lot of willpower, and we look down on those who don’t as lazy and weak. As a health coach who specializes in Habit Change, I think willpower is over- rated – willpower is best used in the first few weeks of a new commitment, but it’s no good in the long term. In fact, studies show that when a person resists temptation in one moment, they are less likely to be able to resist another temptation, even if it is totally different, later in the day, because we only have a certain amount […]
December 8, 2015

Hara Hachi Bu

Residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa have a phrase “hara hachi bu”, which means “eat until you are 80% full”. That sounds great to me, but I grew up in the 1960s, where moms all over America admonished their kids to finish all the food on their plate no matter what, because”there are children starving in China”. I never understood how finishing my carrots could help those hungry Chinese, but to this day I never leave food on my plate. Ian will leave a bite or two quite often – “I’m full” he shrugs when I comment on it, and I a little voice in my head says That’s wasteful. Nowadays, parents know that insisting kids eat everything on their plate encourages them not […]
December 2, 2015

Avoiding The Hard Truths Of Our Bad Habits

Each summer, I help my husband Ian with ocean swim training for triathletes participating in the Malibu Triathlon. I know, having been one, that what occurs with most triathletes is a metaphor for what we all do in real life: since a triathlon consists of swim, bike and run, triathletes tend to train most in their 2 best sports, conveniently forgetting their least favorite one. They will undoubtedly get through their race just fine, but not nearly as well as if they had concentrated on their weakness. In life, we can slide by ignoring a few bad habits if we have more good habits, but we miss out on a real opportunity to grow this way. I was a case in point, even as a […]