Archive | January, 2012

Change your mind to change your brain to change your body….

24 Jan
The mind-body connection– It’s real. What we think creates feelings that are manifested in our bodies via hormones. Think happy, calming thoughts and your body will release dopamine, leading to feelings of calmness. Think negative, depressing or angry thoughts, and get ready to feel angry, negative, or depressed through the release of stress hormones. Yep, you are not the victim of your thoughts or feelings or circumstances. You can make a decision now to think differently if you genuinely want to feel differently and change your behavior.
When we think the same way over and over and over again we create neural circuits in our brains that perpetuate our actions. The opposite is true too. If we make a decision to act differently, create new paths in our minds and our bodies, break the routines or habits that we’ve been engaged in for years that we notice are holding us back from being everything we have dreamed of being, the circuits are regenerated!
A client of mine is working toward renetworking those circuits, and here is what she’s doing this week. What a great email to wake up to this morning! My comments are in bold.

She said, “I was doing a bit of a self assessment this morning and set a couple goals for the week!”

Good things:
– I haven’t hit the restart button even though I’ve had some big stumbles AND been far from perfect (she has recognized her unhelpful pattern of always saying “I’ll just start over again on Monday.” This is a great example of how distortions in thinking become patterns in behavior).
– I’m learning how to keep things reasonable while indulging (Learning! Which means doing something different and asking herself some hard questions in the moment to begin developing awareness!)
– I’m solidly back into the get up and go to the gym routine and packing my meals (How’d she do this?! She made the decision TO DO IT, and she followed through.)
– I’m staying true to my food log even on days that I really stray from plan (She used to say, “Well, I screwed up, what’s the point in logging?” Now she actually answers that question and always comes back to “because it’s a method of accountability, and it represents one of the key correlates of successful weight loss. It’s necessary.”)
Things to work on:
– Remember my goals before I decide to indulge (I’m going to start visualizing what my body looks like now vs where I want to take it when a tempting situation occurs)– POWERFUL! Visualization is AS powerful as the actual action. So many studies exist showing the power of mental imagery.  Piano players who mentally rehearsed versus actually played were just as successful at learning the music!
– I need to drink WAY more water (I’m going to make sure I fill and drink my water bottle 4 times each day)– She has set an INTENTIONAL goal and has devised a NEW way of drinking water. She’s not relying on “the hope that I get more water in.”
– I want to hit my macro targets more consistently (in the last week 2 weeks I’ve only done that twice a week).  I’m setting a goal of hitting them 4 times this week! (We fleshed this one out a bit by identifying what a couple barriers have been and then set INTENTIONAL behaviors to guide her toward the targets more consistently).
– I want to eat more veggies (I’m setting a goal of including veggies in 3/6 meals this week)– REASONABLE and intentional, yet again. New pathways being created.
She’s becoming the person she wants to be by changing her mind to change her brain to change her body!

Sometimes there is pain in the present…

17 Jan

I’ve had some amazingly eye-opening sessions with clients lately that it’s been difficult for me to concentrate on much else. What I learn through my interactions with these magnetic, creative individuals gets my brain firing in so many different directions that staying present does not come easy for me. This presence of mind, ironically, is what I often work on teaching. We get so caught up in the frenzied day to day tasks and responsibilities and our emotions that we lose sight of what is in front of us. “Flow” is what we experience when we lose all track of time, when we’re immersed fully in the here and now, and when we are completely centered and focused. This takes presence, and without a method of working toward it, we can succumb to chronic anxiety, loneliness, worry, and lack of productivity. My flow is thwarted when I’ve got a million thoughts or ideas floating around in my brain that I do not make the time to get out. I crash and burn when I do not act intentionally and allow barriers and distortions to creep in and convince me that I’m incapable. When I do tune in  to the walls that can be built because I’m not paying attention to the present, it can be painful and ugly, but that pain can be useful for me as I rebuild what often turns into a masterpiece- confidence, assertiveness, empowerment, meaning, purpose, and flow. This pain in the present makes me pause and reminds me that I can use every bit of my being to paint my life exactly as I want it to be.

I want to share with you another inspiring story, given to me today by a beautiful friend of mine. Her email to me and my response will give you hope and courage.

” I had a rough weekend. i intentionally planned to do nothing all weekend in hopes to rest and recoup, which i did, but then i was FLOODED with all sorts of discomforting emotions I haven’t felt in a long time.
At the end of it all, I was lonely. I reflected on my relationships, past and present, and was truly saddened by the fact many of my relationships no longer hold value. I know a huge part of growing is letting go. I also know once Ido let go,I will make space for new meaningful relationships. 
So after two days of darkness and tummy aches from eating everything in sight… I put my big girl panties on, cooked my meals for the next two days, went to the gym this morning, and came to work! It just so happens everyone in the office is in a horrible mood. So it’s quiet and super tense.. but as you have taught me, this means nothing about me. No one can make me feel anything.
I still feel sad and disappointed from this weekend, but strong enough not to self-destruct.”

My response: I must have had a feeling you were in need of a little “pick-me-up.”
Sometimes when we let ourselves relax and sink into just “being” without paying attention to all the “stuff” we fill our minds and lives with, that is when we get to actually experience the feelings that have been there but we’ve not been realizing.

Flooded is such a vivid word. I imagine a dam breaking. But I come back to what it COULD look like if we allowed a slow trickle/stream of those energies to come in periodically so we’re not getting to the place where they almost feel as if we’re being drowned by them.

(I respond here to a comment that she made about getting strength from certain friends). So much of our strength occurs because we want to be and do well for other people… Not just ourselves. Knowing that others care about us and believe in us can empower us to make decisions we wouldn’t otherwise and consider ourselves through lenses we’d not typically put on. We can operate with such blinders on until others show us the light and our truth. What has always been in us may not be fully realized until it is revealed by a trusted friend or team of confidantes.

It’s okay to feel lonely. It’s okay to want and yearn for more valuable relationships in your life. Turning that loneliness into intention and then into action is where you get to move next, if it’s truly important to you. Remembering too though that loneliness is constantly in flux and impermanent is key to not getting sucked under by it.


Up a creek without a paddle….

16 Jan

Too good to ignore, I wanted to share with you what a client of mine recently contacted me about regarding her lack of progress. The image she created for me with her “creek without a paddle” statements was vivid and gave me some useful tools from which to help draw her out and begin thinking in a new direction. At least she didn’t say she was drowning!



You are probaly wondering what happened to me. I am in a big rut. I have been so busy with this school schedule and the kids that I have not had a bit of time to set aside for my new Wellness program. I really do not know what to do. I think my husband is getting little perturbed at me but he does understand because he is having to help me a bunch especially with the kids. This quarter I have 4 classes that are absolutely awful. Next  quarter I only have 1. I should have waited to start the program then. Do you have any suggestions? I have maintained my weight through the Holidays at 143. I do feel really good about that. It could have been a lot worse.

Any thoughts, or am I up the creek ….. without a paddle…..????



A few things:
1. Fantastic that you maintained your weight through the holidays. That didn’t happen by accident, you know. I want you to think about what contributed to that success, b/c you can capitalize on it and build from it NOW as you move forward.

2. You’re in the boat, and you always have the paddle, but you have to decide whether you’re going to sit there holding it and doing nothing or put it in the water and start paddling! You’re making choices each and every day to move forward or just rest in the water. That “resting” isn’t necessarily negative- look what it did for you over the holidays! Despite not tracking or being “active” about losing, you maintained! But I know you want to lose, and so yes, you have to make a choice to start taking some steps toward that endeavor.

3. If you open the door for things to “get in your way”, things will come through the door. Don’t crack it open. It’s like having kids– is there a “best time”? No way. You prioritize the things that are important to you in your life. I could have said the same thing about my PhD. I’m too busy. There’s too much going on. I don’t have time to devote to it. You don’t wait for time to find you. You MAKE the time for what you decide is necessary in your life. Is this necessary and meaningful for you?

My pep talk to you, my dear. I know you can do it. If you want to. Re-engage your brain. It’s your mind that’s holding you back- not time. 🙂


Are you leaving yourself behind?

9 Jan

You have a million things you want to do and do well.

How do you decide what is worth pursuing and what isn’t?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with individuals who realize that the goal they’ve been striving to meet turns out not to be THEIR goal at all.

They come to me with a lack of passion, bored, uninspired, and wondering what they heck their purpose is and what would create meaning in their lives.
Sometimes rather than focusing just on motivation and the commitment necessary to achieve a goal, we dig a little deeper to get to the heart of their morose state.  Sometimes it’s worth diving into some uncomfortable and not necessarily easily answered questions. I’m going to share with you those that I’ve been asking myself of late.

I thought about this recently after a conversation I had with my mom. She asked me what I had done over the weekend. True to form I began rattling off a long list of  activities. “Well…..” I led, “I got up early and went in the office, trained and did some cardio, found the research articles I needed for my next paper, reviewed and took notes on all of them and then spent the next 4 hours writing it.  I still need to get all the in-text citations in there though. I find that I lose my train of thought when I need to stop and put in all the author’s names. I’ll probably do that later after I clean the house, do some laundry, work on my powerpoint presentation for the camp at the end of the month….”

She asked me how I have the drive to do so much.

“No one else is going to do it, Mom. But I also see the benefit in each one of these things. Do I derive joy out of writing a paper every week on a topic that just feeling like I’m regurgitating information? No. But I’m really perfecting my writing skills through the process, and that’s exciting for me! I’ve seen a huge change just in the past few months!”

I have been in situations and relationships that have driven me to feeling like I just want to give up. Throw it all away. Trash it. Start over. And it’s those types of feeling that I use now to ask myself a few key questions to center myself around the purpose of what I’m doing. Here they are:

1. Where does my drive to pursue it come from?

  • Think of your most prominent values: freedom? love? connection? achievement?  If you email me I can give you a laundry list of personal values that you can use to assess your reasons for behaving the way you do!)

2. Why do I want it?

  • What will the outcome be if I do this?
  • How will I benefit?
  • There is incentive in everything we do, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. Even if we are hurting ourselves, there is incentive at least in the short-term action. Binge eating, for example, is a method of avoiding a negative feeling- a short-term solution with long-term negative consequences.

3. Who am I doing it for? This is a biggie! We hear stories all the time about kids who are being pushed to do certain things in the pursuit of excellence, later to find out that the path was miserable for them. The goal wasn’t theirs– it was their parents’! Even as adults, however, we are easily swayed by the needs, wants, desires, and pursuits perceived as important to others. We can spend our whole lives chasing something that was never a passion of ours to begin with. Assess whether it’s the pursuit that you are relishing or what is at the end that you desire.  If it’s both, you’ve got it going on!

Don’t leave yourself behind in this go-go-go society. Take some time to assess what’s really important to you, and then chase it like there’s no tomorrow!

Busting Barriers! Myth #4: To burn the most fat do long-duration, lower intensity cardio.

9 Jan

If you’re like me, a good lower intensity, longer cardio session is just what you need sometimes to aid in recovery after a seriously intense training session.

When I have trouble getting off the toilet from a leg workout I did 1-2 days prior, I know that a sprint session is not in my best interest.

On the other hand, I don’t have an hour to spend on cardio every single day, and knowing that it’s just not necessarily as effective as a high intensity session gets me all jacked up to do my interval training tomorrow morning!

BUSTED: High intensity training elicits an “afterburn” effect that can last up to 48 hours after your workout. That means more overall calories and fat burned while you’re doing nothing!  With interval training, your metabolism is revved up for a longer period of time, and because it’s so intense, you CAN’T do it for an hour!

Using short maximal efforts followed by short rest periods can create significant cardiovascular fitness.

There are many types of interval protocols you can use. One of the more popular has become the Tabata workout: work to rest ratios look like 20-60:10-30 seconds. The rest period is half the time of the work period. That means that fatigue will accumulate quickly, setting you up for some serious aerobic metabolism advantages. This type of workout is not for the faint of heart! (Pun intended). Essentially it’s a bigger….and longer….bang for your buck.

Next time you’re crunched for time, or even better, at your next scheduled cardio session, try intervals!  Let me know how your workout goes!

Busting Barriers: Myth #3- It’s more expensive to eat healthy!

5 Jan

BUSTED: Not quite. Go to any fast food restaurant and do an experiment. To feed a family of four, you’re likely getting a value meal or a few items each, right? A New York Times writer recently did some research of his own and found that such an order would amount to approximately $28. That’s a lot of money! Consider What it might cost to cook a chicken, some rice, and throw together a salad or veggies- more like $15.  Potatoes are cheap. Beans are cheap. The veggies or fruits that are in season are cheap!

I remember when I was in college and I’d go from store to store getting the cheapest items (in season fruits/veggies and oh my goodness “off-brand” cereals and canned goods). I spent less than $20 each time I’d go, and it would feed me for two weeks! Yes, things have changed since then, but I’d do a little experiment the next time you’re in the store. Tally up how much you’re eating in fast food AND how much you spend buying junk at the grocery store. Now, troll the store and actually look to see how much the rice, beans, potatoes, canned goods like tomatoes, vegetables and in season fruit/ veggies are!

Why do so many people think or at least complain that it’s so expensive to eat wisely?

1. Yes, it does take a little work and prep to cook. Does it have to be super complicated? Nope. A few ingredients and VOILA! Dinner is served!

2. We don’t plan well.

3. The Chopped Champion on the Food Network gives us the idea that cooking well needs to be super creative and that recipes need to have a 20-item ingredient list to be tasty. Not so.


Imperfectly Perfect

4 Jan

I have clients all over the world.

Each one interacts with me differently; has a unique sense of humor (or none at all); uses a myriad of terms to describe the same concept; smiles through their emailed words crookedly, with teeth, without, with crinkling eyes, and with bold and challenging “Are you getting what I’m throwing at you, Propst?!”

Some clients I can be glaringly blunt with, while others prefer a softer approach. I can do both.


Some are transparent, awkwardly raw and vulnerable. Others are  guarded and require a bit of friendly massaging for them to trust me.

Entertainment is in constant supply, and I say that in the most respectful of ways. I love them no matter what.

Many of my clients are competitors who, do I dare say, exhibit some pretty obsessive compulsive behavior.  They will sometimes admit to me how this gets in the way of feeling balanced. Many feel a constant tug and push/pull between being what they perceive as “normal” and doing what they believe “needs” to be done to achieve their very lofty goals.

Perfectionism runs deep for many of my clients, turned friends, turned close comrades.  Black and white thinking runs rampant among them. Believing they need to be something different from who they are, double-checking their words to make sure people don’t get the wrong impression, fearing how others might perceive them. Ugh. Can you look at your own life and assess how much energy and effort you have put into censoring who you are because of the worry you have over not being perceived as perfect?!

Friends, we are not infallible! Let’s embrace it!

I was thinking today about the people I have in my life who I gravitate toward most often. You know who they are? They are the imperfect ones! They are the ones that fall short, make mistakes, say stupid things, cry over silly commercials, make dumb jokes and then laugh when no one else does, sings in the car when they are tone-deaf, sleeps in a bed that has sheets on it from when they were in middle school, and stumble and blunder and don’t apologize for it!

When I was flying back from seeing my Dad over the holiday, the stewardess (is there another name for this position now? Look, I’m worried about being politically correct!) forgot the words to the airline safety speech. She stopped after a couple of sentences and apologized to the passengers. “I’m so sorry! I need to start over again.” She began again, getting a bit further, but when she went to move her hands toward the area where the masks would drop, there was a long pause. She giggled and said, “Oh my gosh, I totally have to start over again. I’m so sorry!” With a smile, she started at the beginning.  This time she made it through, and after her “thank you”, the passengers clapped loudly, yelling “Encore!! Encore!!”

THIS is what I’m talking about.  I was, and so was the rest of the plane, drawn to her because she was real.  She was genuine. She wasn’t a robot!

She was imperfectly perfect!

Practice being who you are, friends.  That is beautiful.


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