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12:50 pm - Posted by Gregg

As the popular Christmas tune reminds us, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”—assuming that running around like a chicken (partridge?) with its head cut off equates to “Wonderful.”

Even with this seasonal mayhem, I confess that I’m the person who secretly plays Christmas music over my earbuds while working out in November. But I also admit that once Thanksgiving hits, life can feel like a rollercoaster racing toward December 25th at a record pace. It’s as if we’re suddenly contestants on a manic game show and must complete an inordinate amount of tasks in order to not be disqualified (and/or disappoint friends and family members who might be counting on us to make their season bright—no matter which winter-inspired holidays we observe).

As someone who extolls the virtues of being present and taking time for one’s self (something that was essential to my taking off 250 pounds of excess weight and keeping it off), I often need reminders to stay mentally present more than anyone during this time of year. This was recently proven yet again when recently attending a friend’s Christmas get together.

This wasn’t a work-related occasion. Nor was it a huge party that had the potential to leave one feeling lost or inconsequential. This truly was a simple gathering among close friends with the sole purpose of enjoying twinkling lights and good company. There was also amazing food and drink (count me in for that—even if it would require some extra time on the treadmill to offset the extra calories).

It was the following morning (while working out at the gym) that I started thinking about this small party that occurred the night before—realizing that I hadn’t actually been fully present (mentally) at the event. Sure, I was there. And I ate, drank and made merry. I talked to friends and even inquired sincerely as to what was currently going on in their lives. But I also remember going over my “December to-do lists” in my head while talking and listening.

Similarly, I was concerned about what time I would get to bed since I knew I had a busy schedule the following day. I was also thinking about the foster kitten I had at home. And a million other things that I had going on—even though it would have been perfectly fine to set all of that mental anguish aside for a few hours so that I could have been fully present at said get together. Instead, I was in a sort of “no man’s land”—neither fully in my head or fully enjoying the time with my friends.

Realizing this initially left me feeling sad. And then, remembering that shame is no one’s ally, I decided to use the realization to make me glad. Mainly because this realization could help me recognize that as much as I want to be present (“in the moment” as it were), that I can be as guilty as anyone else when it comes to getting distracted by an overfull agenda.

By not being fully present with friends (in a lovely setting with amazing food and drink), I wasn’t allowing myself to be in the moment and enjoy the respite from life’s busy-ness. Had I accomplished being there 100%, I might have even woken up with a clearer head the morning after—better able to handle all of the important tasks that needed to be taken care of.

These helpful reminders make this an appropriate moment to re-introduce the old adage that “Less (thinking) is more.” Sure, we all have a lot to do. And yes, there never seems to be enough time in our days (during the holiday rush or at other times of the year) to fully embrace all that’s going on. But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to be fully present during all aspects of life (yes, even when at the grocery store or dry cleaners—and especially when participating in what has the potential to be an enjoyable event). Living in the now is a gift we can give ourselves again and again (making it an acceptable re-gift).

Try inserting quiet moments into your day to help bring yourself back to the here and now. I attempt to make a habit of this when getting in and getting out of my car. For others, my car check-in might translate to checking in with yourself on a bus or while on the subway—or maybe when you sit down at or get up from your workstation. No matter where you decide to do it, take a quiet moment, just a few seconds really, and breathe in and out several times. Close your eyes if you can. And as you breathe in, think “In.” And as you breathe out, think “Out.”

Breathing in and out just 3 to 5 times sequentially can bring your mind and body back in sync—and, therefore, your entire self back to the here and now. This mental state is where we all want to be in order to achieve peace of mind—not to mention be our most productive and to get the most out of every aspect of life.

It’s when embodying presence in every aspect of our lives that the popular Christmas tune referenced earlier has the potential to become reality—truly making it the most wonderful time of the year (no matter what time of year the calendar says it is).

Photo Credit: Obesity Goodbye

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8:51 am - Posted by Gregg

Doesn’t it seem like Starbucks and other coffee houses come out with their Pumpkin Spice Lattes sooner and earlier each year? I guess I’m okay with this since I’ve always loved the season of fall most of all. Perhaps because while living in New England as a child, the changing leaves offered a range of beautiful colors. Or maybe it was the crisp Northeast sweater weather (that demanded clothing that hid some of my figure flaws — which I was admittedly concerned about as an extremely overweight kid). Or it could have been that autumn acted as an annual sign that Christmas was on its way. Whichever. Suffice it to say, I consider autumn to be a golden time of year.

Today, living in Los Angeles, there’s not a lot of autumn to be had. Sure, there are a few maple trees (with changing leaves) in Beverly Hills. And every now and then we get a cooler day that requires a sweatshirt in the morning hours (before the temperature gives out to LA’s warm sunshine by noontime). Thus, one must be creative when it comes to feeling like it’s autumn. Some of you may be familiar with warm-weather-autumn drill: plastic fall-leaf wreath hanging on the door, a mini Styrofoam pumpkin or two lying around the house, an autumn-scented candle burning in the evening (even as the air conditioner blows), etc.

Those who know me won’t be surprised that one of my go-to items for a “hit” of autumn is an edible (well, drinkable) one. For years now, I’ve been addicted (potential 12-step-group-addicted) to Pumpkin Spice Lattes (AKA PSL or, as I refer to them, “fall in a cup”). And as someone who once weighed over 450 pounds, I was risking the encouragement of my past food addiction by ordering an extra large size and drinking down every last autumn-y (read: sugary) drop.

I was not only committed to downing this drink throughout the fall season, but virtually every day of the fall season. Needless to say that even before Thanksgiving, the results of this annual endeavor would start to show themselves in the form of tighter jeans and more pronounced love handles. In other words, my love of fall was adding up (calorie-wise) fast.

Thus, one sad day, I decided I had to abandon my love of “fall in a cup” and simply make do with the plastic wreath. But as usual, the denial of something led to the over-consumption of it. It did not matter that I’d lost over 250 pounds of excess weight over a decade before and had kept it off ever since. When it came to “fall in a cup,” I was going down. Or my weight was going up as it were. As usual, denial led to obsession and obsession led to… Well, let’s just say I feel like I have personally funded many of the more recent coffee places that have opened up in my area.

Then I hit upon an amazing, original, highly innovative idea… To treat these magical and seductive Pumpkin Spice Lattes as a treat (yeah, that’s right — categorize them in an appropriate way). I decided I was going to indulge — but was going to do so in a fashion that wouldn’t harm my psyche or extend my waistline.

So I blew out my autumn-scented candle, hopped over the Styrofoam pumpkins, trotted past my plastic wreath, and marched into my nearest coffee joint, where I ordered up a small Pumpkin Spice Latte.

As I pressed the smaller sippy cup-like lid to my lips, I wondered if I’d get the same autumnal rush that I did from lifting the larger size to my mouth. And, to my surprise, I did. The smallest Pumpkin Spice Latte was just as delicious, just as tasty, just as soothing — and offered just as much “fall in a cup” as its giant predecessor had before it. In fact, I didn’t even suck out the last sip like I usually did with the larger size (as if I were Sandra Bullock’s astronaut character in Gravity, trying to get a last gasp of oxygen in space). Instead, I enjoyed most of the drink, decided I was finished and tossed it.

Of course, the next day, I wanted another one. And here’s where I tried out another innovative tactic. “Sure, Gregg… You can have another one… Next week.” Yeah, that’s right. I acknowledged I wanted it, let myself know when I could have it, and then gave myself several days to anticipate it. And when that “lucky day” rolled around, I got another small one and enjoyed every reasonable ounce.

It turns out what I’d always heard was true: Less is more. And I marvel at this fact as much today (at around 175 pounds) as I did when I weighed over 450 pounds. I guess there will always be lessons we can learn and new adaptations we can make (to the way we consume treats) no matter what end of the scale we find ourselves at. And this is good news. Because it means we can treat ourselves, when appropriate — as long as it’s with portions that are equally appropriate.

Now, one should keep in mind that Pumpkin Spice Lattes contain calories we all should be aware of and factor into our daily totals. But when these calories are consumed just once a week (or even less often), they’re not going to hurt your weight loss or weight maintenance plan one bit. Again, it’s all about moderation. This means not denying one’s self as much as it does not overdoing it. (Win-win for “moderation,” y’all.)

At long last, my love of autumn (and devotion to “fall in a cup”) can be celebrated without worry — even here in hot n’ sunny Los Angeles. And this means whatever food or treat obsessions you have can be handled in the same way. Less is more. But not too much less. Get it?

Photo Source: Eater.com

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April 15, 2017

Happy Easter

9:12 am - Posted by Gregg

This Easter Sunday, why not borrow a little humor from comedian and actress Caroline Rhea, who reminds us that dieting is allowed to be a laughing matter. In fact, the more of a sense of humor we have in regard to ourselves and even our life goals, the better. Life and dieting don’t have to be so serious.

So instead of stressing out about chocolate and Easter candy today, take a breath. Inhale in. Exhale out. And remember today is just one day. Enjoy yourself. And if that means taking an extra power walk to balance out some of the extra calories, then do that (perhaps while listening to a podcast that makes you laugh). It’s all about balance… And humor… And loving yourself every step (and nibble) of the way!

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5:05 pm - Posted by Gregg

Sometimes the smallest changes can bring about the biggest rewards. Recently, I put this to the test by adding chia seeds to my all-natural peanut butter. Although many people soak their chia seeds first, I added mine raw. I like the crunch factor. And the added calories are minimal. It really gives peanut butter a twist… And makes a healthy breakfast (like the one seen here) brand new again. After all, variety is the spice of life.

So what’s one of your regular, go-to healthy-eating meals that you can add a twist or a changeup to? Think about, then do it. While relying on the tried-and-true can be a stable way to keep the excess calories at bay, it’s still important to prevent food boredom from creeping into not just our palate, but our psyche.

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August 11, 2016

Simple choices

11:54 am - Posted by Gregg

Simple Choices JustStopEatingSoMuch.com

Don’t take this image the wrong way. Muffin tops are beautiful. Heck, muffins themselves are beautiful. Every body is beautiful – exactly as it is right in this moment. You can be sure of that (and anyone who tells you different is full of crap).

But that being said, there are many of us who want to make healthy changes that can help us to not only feel better, but to also put on our clothes without having to hold our breath or offer up a prayer for strength (literally) when zipping up.

This can require making choices a little differently than we have in the past. Like choosing water over cake for example. Not always. But often. Changes like this remind us that cake is a treat (as opposed to an everyday requirement). We can’t say the same for water, which is absolutely necessary for our survival and for our transformation.

So without shaming yourself (which is never productive), ask yourself what you really want next time you’re tempted by something sweet (that might add a few too many calories or artificial ingredients to your daily intake). Maybe a glass of water and vigorous walk is what your body, mind and soul are really craving. If so, give your body that. And if you absolutely must have the cake (and I’ll admit there are times that’s true), then have a reasonable slice – and then have a glass of water and go for a vigorous walk. (See what I did there?)

It’s all about balance, moderation and your overall goals. And you, my amazing, beautiful friend, are worth it!

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