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Blog: Stop Stress without Overeating and More - Frazzled to Free Blog

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Insights to help busy women stop sacrificing their health and happiness to hectic schedules, and rediscover bigger, more fulfilling lives.

How to Lose Weight by Changing Just One Habit (A Big Promise for the New Year)

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I keep a file of articles that make big promises for health and wellness. Here is an example. The article, “Best Way to Lose Weight” suggested that we can shed surplus pounds to become healthier, happier, and feel better by changing a single habit.

Ready for this?

Tada! “Turn off the TV and take a walk.” Hmm, let’s think this through. If watching less TV, and walking more could guarantee weight loss, who wouldn’t want such a simple solution?

Most would agree that walking is a healthier lifestyle choice than sitting down watching TV (and munching on snack food). But should we jump on a single activity as the “best way” to get rid of holiday weight gain?

Can It Be Okay to Watch TV? Many of us watch TV to unwind. When alone, we may find watching TV a source of companionship. This does not make us guilty of a “poor choice.” After all, TV viewing can be a form of self-care.

Is Walking a Surefire Way to Lose Weight? The second recommendation presumes we can begin a walking program. But what if it’s too cold or rainy. Maybe we feel unsafe outside. Maybe we find walking boring. Perhaps walking alone could make us feel isolated (and…. more stressed).

Simplistic solutions for major health challenges are quite common. They come under the guise of: “Exercise more,” “Get rid of stress,” “Eat more fiber,” “Use portion control at meal times,” or “Stop doing it,” where “it” is a questionable habit or lifestyle choice.

General advice for perennial problems fall short. Simplistic advice ignores individual circumstances, life stories, desires and goals. General prescriptions guess at the nature of the central problem. In our example, identifying a sedentary lifestyle (TV viewing) as the focal health problem may miss what’s really bothering us. Why are we feeling stressed, drained, bored or anxious?

An Alternative to Simplistic Health Advice. How about taking a moment to reflect on our choices. Insight problem solving provides a powerful way to explore options.

As an example, before I turn on the TV, I may ask:

o    What am I thinking, what am I feeling? Do I feel overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated or sad?
o    Can I come up with a healthier, more empowering way to deal with those uncomfortable feelings or thoughts right now?
o    And if I choose to watch TV, how does that choice serve me?  

The Bottom Line:
Whether it’s finding optimal ways to lose weight and keep it off, or finding effective ways to relieve stress, we learn from our choices to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves so we can select a healthier lifestyle.

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The Bad Rap on Sugar

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Paging through a book of nursery rhymes, a legacy from a grandmother, was like traveling in a time machine to a distant past.

This passage caught my attention: “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice!”  Ouch! at many levels, but let’s stay focused on sugar.

Sugar in many forms is added to most packaged and processed foods, even in foods we assume are sugar-free – like ketchup and salad dressing. Because our DNA and taste receptors are hardwired for sugar, many of us are attracted to such foods. Food manufacturers have capitalized on that!

Refined sugar is not a food, and the body does not treat it as such. For one thing, it provides only empty calories, devoid of any nutritional value. Depending upon your constitution, you may experience wide swings in blood sugar levels, or your body might trigger inflammation.

Some people find sugary foods and drinks addictive. During my 30’s I felt addicted to a soda called TAB. It was hard to stop drinking it and I felt withdrawal symptoms when I avoided it.

A disease connection: Refined sugar consumption, together with refined carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners, increase the risk of nearly every disease you can imagine, including diabetes.

We are eating way, way too much sugar, though exact figures are hard to come by. According to a US estimate, the average American ate 60 pounds of added sugar in 2005-2010. The average for men was about 22 tsp per day and the average for women was about 16 tsp per day.  The daily maximum amount of added sugar recommended by the American Heart Association is 9 tsp for men, and 6 tsp for women. Yikes!

It’s unrealistic to completely avoid added sugars. Food Labels make it even trickier to determine what is “added,” since total sugar, not “added sugar” is listed. Here is a tip. Be aware of all the code names for sugar, which can be listed separately. Some of them are: agave syrup, barley malt, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, corn syrup, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, sucrose, etc.

Insight Builder:

Take a look at the ingredient label of a snack or treat you like. Do sugars appear as the first or second ingredients? If so, consider chucking it for a healthier alternative.

Easier said than done? I’m with you!

If you have been eating or drinking a sugar snack on a regular basis, (M&M’s and Ginger Ale come to mind), can you isolate the particular quality that is emotionally satisfying? Then experiment to find a new “ritual” without the added sugar that replicates the same “satisfaction.”

My clients come up with many creative solutions. I’d love to hear what food or drink substitutions and fulfilling rituals you have found to limit added sugar.

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NEW! Insight-empowered Weight Management ... for a Healthy Body in 2016


Are you tired of losing and regaining the same weight … over and over again?

If you have lost and regained weight for years, you know that achieving and maintaining optimal weight at the age of 40 and beyond is not easy. You know that effective weight management needs to be a holistic process, (diet, stress, sleep and exercise all come into play), which includes building a healthy relationship with food.

A decades-long weight problem

I began dieting when I was 11 years old. At one point my weight crept up to 230 pounds. The yo-yoing up and down, the on again/off again diets seemed to indicate I was weak-willed.

I thought I was to blame for repeated weight cycling and that I didn’t have any willpower. The pivotal moment came when I realized I didn’t fail diets – diets failed me!

If weight loss and long-term weight management is your goal, my wellness coaching service, New Paradigm Coaching, can help you with two steps:

Step 1: Insight-Empowered Stress Management [IESM]

If you are living with high levels of stress, IESM helps you create unique insights and take new action – confidently – for lasting stress relief.

Unhealthy habits are simply ways to comfort yourself when stress builds up and these can be changed:

The dynamic Wellness Blossom helps you counter the impact of recurring stress in four key areas of well-being:

  • Healthy Body:  Enjoy healthy eating, joyful physical activity and restorative sleep
  • Peaceful Mind: Change negative thinking and self-limiting beliefs and attitudes
  • Vibrant Spirit:  Reignite your ‘pilot light’ with self-acceptance and gratitude
  • Balanced Emotions: Identify and express your feelings in healthy, empowering ways


Step 2: Insight-Empowered Weight Management [IEWM]

blossom healthy

IEWM is a versatile, customized and holistic plan specifically designed to help you:

•    Achieve long-term effective weight management
•    Reduce chronic inflammation and chronic pain
•    Reduce your risk of age-related diseases and premature aging
•    Optimize nutrition to boost energy levels and improve mood
•    Promote optimal health at any age

The IEWM plan goes way beyond counting calories or measuring every portion of food you eat.

Most calorie-restricted diet plans aim for weight loss (even though muscle is often lost along with fat.)  Yet the success rate for keeping lost fat pounds off is dismal.

The IEWM plan is customized with you and emphasizes:

  • Limiting or eliminating “Health Stealers” in meal planning
  • Rebalancing and restoring sound nutrition for meal choices using a tailored-to-you food plan to meet your needs and preferences.
  • Incorporating Five Action Pillars to bring together a Healthy Body, a Peaceful Mind, a Vibrant Spirit and Balanced Emotions.
  • Choosing to eat consciously and listening to your body wisdom.

2016 can be your year for optimal health, optimal weight and long-term weight management

I want this to be a different experience for you, with positive and empowering outcomes so you can focus on living your life and not worrying about your weight.

Achieving this goal requires your time, energy and commitment. Are you in?

Give me a call at 512-244-6292 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about the Insight-empowered Weight Management plan.

Insight Builder

•    What specific steps can you take beginning today to enhance your weight management efforts to assure a Healthy Body in 2016 and leave the diet/stress roller coaster behind you for good?

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Do you measure up to the media's version of how you should be?

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Magazines directed toward women are filled with teasers about weight loss, the “right” diet and life and body makeovers.

•    Lose Every Bulge: Flat Belly, Toned Legs, Great Butt!
•    Exactly What to Eat to Get Slim! Secret Weight-Loss Soup!
•    Feel Amazing 24/7: Burn More Calories, Boost Brainpower, Sleep like a Baby!

Magazines tend to exploit our inner concerns that we are not inherently good enough and there is something wrong with us. Articles, adverts and celebrity endorsements can leave us filled with self-doubt.

To live up to the media’s vision of success, we would need to be at a perfect weight, have perfect skin and the body of a 20 year old. We would be totally confident, fearless and successful at work and at home.

Apart from scanning popular health magazines to keep tabs on what is happening in the health industry for my work, I choose to read magazines that empower, inspire and help me grow. (Send me an email if you would like my recommendations).

When considering self-improvement, are you starting from a baseline of “I’m a failure and there’s something wrong with me?” If that's the case, try out this statement instead: “I am powerful and there is nothing wrong with me.”

Insight Builder

•    After reading a particular magazine, do you feel empowered or do you feel that you will never be enough or have enough?
•    Does the magazine encourage you to achieve your own goals in your own way? Or does it promise cookie cutter quick fixes that eventually fail? If it’s the latter, perhaps the magazine is at fault … not you!

I would love to hear your view on this!

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Chronic Stress and Comfort Foods - A Risky Formula

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Overeating is surprisingly common

Nearly 40 percent of Americans report stress eating or eating unhealthy foods when stressed (The Impact of Stress, American Psychological Association, 2014).

Many of us have identified “comfort foods,” as foods that can help us find relief from emotional stress. These are often high fat-high sugary treats, such as ice cream and chocolate, or highly processed fatty foods (junk foods).

Although stress eating can provide temporary relief, there is a well-known downside to comfort foods: excessive calories plus unwanted weight gain. Diet plans often call for the elimination of high fat/high sugar foods – No more chocolate brownies!

However, the picture is more complex.

Women seem to handle high calorie foods differently, according to their stress levels.

Preliminary research found that among postmenopausal women, those who ate high fat/high sugar foods when chronically stressed, set the stage for serious illness, such as diabetes, compared to low stress women consuming such foods (Kirstin Aschbacher, et. al., Psychoneuroendocrinology 2014, 46: 14-22).

Among study participants, the combination of chronic stress and high fat/high sugar foods strongly increased the odds of increased belly fat, together with high blood sugar levels. This condition, known as “metabolic syndrome,” increases the odds of diabetes by 500%, while increasing the odds of cardiovascular disease by 200%.

The implication of metabolic imbalances is profound: not all calories are the same.

The body may handle high fat/high sugar foods differently, according to the stress level. With low stress, excessive fatty foods can cause fat to accumulate with unintended weight gain. No surprises there.

In contrast, with chronic stress the nervous system releases signal molecules that increase abdominal fat in response to junk foods. In turn, abdominal adiposity creates oxidative damage due to free radicals, and metabolic imbalance, such as reduced ability of insulin to lower blood sugar after a meal.

Stress management may be more important than changing a diet pattern.

Experts have warned about the dangers of chronic stress – increased odds of diabetes, cancer, heart attack, stroke, obesity and more. Beneath those health threats may be a hormonal imbalance due to chronic stress, leading to free radical damage and oxidative stress promoted by increased belly fat.

Chronic stress can change how the body manages high calorie foods. Has the time come for you to resolve persistent problems that stress you out?

Does your stress management tool kit contain a couple of quick remedies, such as slow deep breathing, together with a life changing habit, such as regular meditation or prayer?

Insight Builder

Does dieting resolve your chronic stressors and stress response? After following a diet plan, what in your life has fundamentally changed?

P.S. Thank you for sharing this blog with your friends and family and inviting them to subscribe!

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Chewing gum for dieting?

Most of the diets I've tried in my "past dieting life" restricted the number of calories I could eat, but gave me one loop hole. I could eat all the so-called "free foods" I wanted - cucumber, celery, carrots, sugar-free candy, popsicles and chewing gum. And I took full advantage!

Looking at these "free" foods from a strictly caloric perspective, this idea makes sense. Most diets are based on a reduced calorie intake. Once you've eaten your quota for the day, and you still want to put food into your mouth, what do you do? Eat calorie "free" foods, of course!

I've found that these "free" foods are not as innocuous as they might seem, especially for those of us who have an issue with overeating or emotional eating, and who want to break free of these behaviors.

Here's a suggestion: The next time you eat a "calorie free" or "reduced calorie" or "low calorie" food option, let it pique your curiosity.

Some mindful questions to ask are: "What am I feeling?", "What's going on right now?", "Am I truly hungry?", "What do I really need in place of this food?"

Fotolia_15254500_XSI gave up eating chewing gum on a regular basis and now chew it very infrequently as a breath freshener. I realized that most of the time I pulled out a stick of gum, unwrapped it and shoved it in my mouth, I suppressed a feeling I did not want to acknowledge.

I began to understand that chewing gum soothed and calmed me down and helped me center myself temporarily. I now have other ways to get back to my center -  journaling, meditating and movement practices.

The next time you reach for food - even the calorie-free variety - and you know it's not out of hunger, see if you can get to what's really going on.

Stopping for just a moment to look at something as simple as a piece of gum, before you put it into your mouth, can be a key to opening a treasure chest of insights and ideas that will help you to live your life diet free.

Diet programs and advertisers often advise eating all the calorie-free foods you want. Go ahead, they say, it's only chewing gum. But is it?

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Ready to Move Beyond the Dieting "Quick Fix"?

Does your life seem to be moving so fast that short-term solutions to vexing problems like not enough time or weight gain are tantalizing?

Many of us on the upswing of a yoyo diet lost weight, only to see lost pounds come roaring back, sometimes multiple times since our teen years. Rather than considering that the dieting process may be at fault, we might blame ourselves for not having the willpower to stick with it.

We keep trying the same solution over and over but in different guises - high protein diets; low fat diets; low-calorie meal replacements - looking for the quick pay off.

What is this "quick fix" mentality all about and why is it so enticing?

I think it promises hope that we can change quickly, it allows us an immediate strategy. It takes our minds off what's really going on.

In the words of one of my clients, "I want an easy button!"

Fotolia_24920792_XSIf you sidestep the magnetic pull of the "quick fix" and yoyo dieting and look underneath it - what might you find?

If you have a weight issue, you may find a seething cauldron of emotional issues, a lack of self-love and a fear of the unknown. What will life be like at your optimal weight? If you have low energy or feel drained by a primary relationship, struggle with family issues, or work in a job that no longer reflects personal goals - how will your life change if pounds lost stay off?

Here's what I've discovered.

If I'm unwilling to look beneath the surface, I will remain stuck, in limbo, and far from the life I have dreamed. However, if I'm willing to dig deeper, access my unique insights and take action, the benefits can be enormous.

The solutions that will work long-term are those that come out from your own insights to understand the challenges you face ... and shift them.

Whatever problem you are facing, are you willing to look beyond the "quick fix"? If your answer is yes, what will be your first step?

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New Year's Resolutions - tips for dieters who want to break free

It's January and the Internet is full of recommendations to manage holiday weight gain and the winter blahs.

Are you, as I am, being bombarded by these types of "I know what's best for you strategies on how to lead a healthier life?"

Here are some examples of what I've seen. "Set realistic goals", "Shift your thinking", "Cut back", "Keep track of your progress", "Develop a positive attitude", "Watch portion sizes". I don't necessarily disagree with any of these prescriptions in themselves, but two things bother me:

The first - someone is telling me what to do from their particular viewpoint without understanding my particular situation. And the second, it just isn't possible to plunge into such advice all at once.

Attempting to make too many changes at one time can be a recipe for failure... and this we want to avoid at all costs.

Most of the weight loss prescriptions center around food and exercise. These are important aspects for any weight loss program. The challenge lies in following the details of individual daily plans consistently - hard to do.

If you have begun 2013 trying to exercise regularly and eat right but are having a difficult time sticking with your chosen regimen, you might want to consider this option:


Since we are multi-faceted, made up of a body, a mind, a spirt and emotions, focusing on just the body doesn't make sense.

Instead of focusing on eating a certain number of calories per day, perhaps you might want to consider working with your thoughts and beliefs [mind] and determine what might be holding you back. If you choose to focus on [spirit] you might take time out each day to gain insights by meditating or asking for guidance in your unique way. Alternatively, you might explore how stress derails you when you commit to a healthier lifestyle [emotions].

While it is counterintuitive, sometimes we are so frantic to solve a problem that we get in the way of seeing a deeper meaning.

Taking a few steps back gives us  breathing room to build a stronger foundation to tackle the stickier problems and find the once-and-for-all solutions. It doesn't mean nothing's going to change!

When you take care of your overall wellness you expand your capacity to come up with new solutions and you start to have more energy to tackle your specific challenges.

So, if you often begin a New Year by choosing a program that focuses on food and exercise, but it hasn't worked for you, consider this approach. I'd love to hear about your new insights and solutions.

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#1 Problem with Diets and Dieting and how to solve it

I will be upfront about this: I do not recommend using rules about eating to lose weight or to maintain weight loss for many reasons. Here is an example.

Let’s say that you want to fit into that cute dress you bought for your best friend's wedding. It's a teeny bit tight. You think, no problem! I will go on the "trim your belly fat diet". The fine print sets you up. Do not eat more than 1200 calories per day.Fotolia_34485823_XS
You are doing great sticking to your 1200 calorie/day rule, then life intrudes to throw your plan off.

The weekend arrives and your family goes on a 6 1/2 mile hike. Here's the problem:You’ve burned through your 1200 calories and feel famished by the time you get home.

Now what? Here are some possible scenarios:

  • You might refuse to eat even one calorie over your limit. You tell yourself, “I am on a diet!” and go to bed ravenously hungry.
  • You might “give in” to hunger pangs and eat far more than 1200 calories. Oops, guilt sets in. “I trashed my diet, so I might as well eat up. I can always start dieting again on Monday.”
  • Alternatively, you understand that 1200 calories simply is not enough to compensate for the extra physical exertion and you take along a healthy snack to avoid a drop in blood sugar. At dinner you feel a usual level of hunger - nothing drastic - and you are able to eat slowly and calmly. Your hunger is satisfied before getting stuffed.

Which of these outcomes rings true?

Imposing diet rules is counterproductive in the long run. Why? Because dieting overrides the body's signals: "Hello out there - is anybody listening?" When we don't listen to the messages the body sends, it's difficult to know how and when to feed it.

The only way to develop a positive relationship with food is to befriend your body and listen to the signals it sends, unhampered by rigid prescriptions about eating.

I'd love to hear about your experience with breaking free of diets.

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Does a Diet Start on Sunday or Monday?

Question: When should a dieting week begin?Fotolia_9492397_XS

Dieters and non-dieters have a difference of opinion about when the week begins. For non-dieters the week begins on Sunday.

Many women with a dieting history and recurrent weight loss (and I was one) begin a new diet on a Monday. There are several reasons for starting a diet on Monday:

For example, the dieter may feel she can eat whatever she wants on weekends confident that on Monday she can begin dieting with a clean slate. It's Monday. Hurray! I'm off to a fresh start!

Now it's Wednesday. Hopes for a quick result dips. Does stress build-up? Then Friday arrives. Spirits rise. Might I even relax a little? So my diet slips and I eat too much. It's okay though because on Monday I can start dieting again - another fresh start!

Questions like these might help you understand why you chose to diet:
  •     Am I dieting because I want to be more sexy, attractive, beautiful?
  •     Am I dieting because I want to be more loved, nurtured and cherished?
  •     Am I dieting because I want to beat mid-life aging?

When you look at the dieting mindset this way, does starting a dieting week on Sunday or Monday make any difference?

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Overeating Apples?

It's mid-afternoon.  You’re not actually hungry, but you’re feeling a little bored, tired, maybe even frustrated or stressed. So you decide to munch something, but you want a healthy snack. An apple is a good choice, right?


Now suppose you eat an apple a day for a month, as a healthy snack to mask those unpleasant feelings. That seems innocent enough: Everyone knows an apple beats salty, crunchy fatty snacks any day.

Yet each apple supplies at least 150 calories.  That’s an extra 150 calories a day, or 1050 extra calories per week, an extra 4200 calories a month. If nothing else changes, these extra calories will probably end up as fat. If it takes burning 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat….. You can see where I am going with this.

It’s helpful to remember that all foods, “healthy” or not, provide calories. If you are not losing the weight you want, you might cut back on snacks when you aren’t hungry (even healthy ones).

Better yet: Try exploring the stress that prompts you to snack in the first place.

Imagine receiving three boxes. Orange, Lavender and Green. Strange! There are thumping sounds coming from each one. It's as though somebody is trying to get out. Is it you?

  • When you open the Orange box, out pops a tiny figure who says, "I overeat because I'm feeling bored around 4 p.m. sitting in my cube most afternoons."
  • Next you open the Lavender box. Another tiny figure jumps out. "I want to overeat because I'm tired. I didn't get enough sleep last night."
  • Then you open the Green box to release a tiny figure who says, "I want to overeat because I'm so frustrated by having to do the work of two people."

Bottom line: Examining the "because" part of overeating, can open the door to getting insights into the stress that prompted the snacking.

I would love to hear how you deal with those afternoon feelings that trigger snacking.

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