Category: Empowerment

How I Lost Weight While Eating Chocolate Macadamia Nuts

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


This is me “just fit” but not competing.

I believe there are four levels of fitness.




Fit, and



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Most of us, including myself, are thrilled to live at levels 2 or 3.  No one wants to be unconditioned, in pain all the time, and immobile.  Few care to do what is required in order to compete.  I, personally, like competing.  It’s fun.  I love the ladies I’ve met while competing – several have become life-long friends.  I love the atmosphere and the prep.  

But…competition is not my real life.  It’s not how I want to live forever.  
It’s a hobby.  
Excessive exercise and dieting is not fun!  Neither is something anyone wants to do for the long term.  Sometimes you’re in the groove and you stay up with both.  Sometimes life happens, and you can’t seem to stick to either.
We forget that.
  • Today, I talked to two different friends (one is a competitor, one is not) who are doing two-a-days (that means two, separate work-out sessions in one day) because they “don’t like the way they look” and/or they’re “trying to compensate for poor nutrition with extra exercise.”  


  • Today, I talked to one of my clients (a competitor) who wants to know why she’s NOT doing double cardio sessions every day when “everybody else is” and another who is going to work with a different coach because I am “not giving her enough to do” and she really thinks she “needs fat burners in order to be successful”.  


  • Today, I talked to my niece who “can only get to the gym 2-3 times a week” so she doesn’t “know how she can possibly lose weight.”
It is impossible to out-train bad nutrition, which is why exercise is not my first or even my second priority.  I focus on mindset mostly, then nutrition, and then movement.  That movement may be in a gym but it doesn’t have to be.  It needs to be something you’re going to enjoy enough to actually do.
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Here’s what I’m talking about.
This is my real life:
I just (Friday night) got home from three weeks on the road.  I typically try to get to the gym while I’m traveling, but these weeks were unique.  I was with friends in Vegas, friends in California, and on the beach in Hawaii so…..I had many, much more important, things to do than to stress about getting to the gym.

I hung out with friends. We met for meals. We hiked. We talked. We played cards. We walked.  We snacked. I had wine, popcorn,

Notice half the red velvet cake is gone - before I got my lunch. I took the other half home with me.

Notice half the red velvet cake is gone – before I got my lunch. I took the other half home with me.

pancakes, frozen yogurt, lots of coffee and good chocolate.  I went to my favorite restaurant – and ate dessert before lunch!  I didn’t diet but I wasn’t far from my normal either (choosing protein for each meal, eating until only 80% full, having a salad every day, and filling up on fresh fruits / veggies).  I drank water every day.

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This is a lifestyle, remember?
Those little treats exist. I enjoyed them. I didn’t gorge myself to the point of being uncomfortable.  There’s simply no reason to.  I did gorge on talks, laughs, and hugs though.  It was amazing!
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When it comes to diet, in fact, I ate a chocolate covered macadamia nut before breakfast (while coffee was brewing) every day that I was in Hawaii. Only one, but every single day.  I drank shots on the beach one night, to celebrate several business ventures.  
I went to the gym once in California and once on my last night in Hawaii.  
That’s exactly two times in three weeks.  
But, I walked. A lot. On the beach.  Between 4 and 11 miles each day, in fact. I went scuba diving, kayaking, and boogie boarding.  I did a few sets of push-ups in my room.   That was it for exercise.  No weight training.  No hard-core cardio.  Just movement.  
And, you know what?
Not that weight matters – it really doesn’t – but, I returned home 4 pounds less than when I left.
Do what you can, when you can, with what you have available.  Health & fitness are for life:  they’re not “programs” designed to make you as miserable as possible.  Rather – they needn’t be.

Starting New Year’s on January 1st or 4th?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

It’s here.  January 1st.

The day that holds so many dreams, hopes, and wishes.  The day thousands of people believe they will wake up and “just” be a different person.  Although, you might have noticed that this year is a little different.  With the 1st falling on a Friday, I’ve heard countless people say they are just going to wait until Monday to start fresh.

Realistic goals should be something we’re looking forward to achieving.

If we have to wait until Monday, “so that we can enjoy the weekend” what does that say about the goals we’re setting?

  • That we’re dreading them?
  • That we don’t look forward to starting our journey to whatever it is we think we “have to do”?
  • That these goals do NOT fit into our lifestyle.  Not today – and not Monday either.

How successful can we hope to be with that mindset?
What if we first determine why we’d love to reach our goal?
Why we really want to do this – whatever it may be?  Yes, that again.  I know I sound like a broken record.  That’s because it’s important!!  It’s the most important piece.  You know how to do this – you’re not doing it because you haven’t determined it to be more important than all the other things you’d rather be doing.


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As I was out and about yesterday, I heard people say, “they would quit smoking” “exercise more” “do yoga every day” “get married (even though he’s not yet dating)” “lose 60 pounds” “become less dramatic” “enjoy life more” and “stop yelling at the kids”.

===>  Herein is the very reason why so many resolutions fail.

They’re not realistic.

They’re huge!

We think we can change everything all at once.

These are more like dreams for a perfect world, a perfect situation, a perfect life, than goals we actually want to work towards.

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We are not different people this morning.  The cigarettes are still there, and they’re still addictive.  I quit 15 years ago and still, occasionally, feel like I want one. If we didn’t have time, over the past 12 months, to get to the gym or do yoga, it’s unlikely we will “just find the time” starting today.  The girl who told me she would be less dramatic is still dramatic – that’s her personality, and she can be fun to hang out with, because of that.  The kids didn’t likely wake up this morning, little angels sporting shiny halos who will never frustrate you.

The fact is, I woke up the very same person I was at 1215 this morning when I crawled into bed.  So did you.  So did everybody else.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that wanting to improve yourself is wrong.  Far from it.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t set goals.  I’m not even saying that today’s not a good day to get started.  Humans have plenty of hard-wired reasons for being so fond of January 1st, and Mondays.  Here’s a blog I’ve written about that.



What I’m saying is:  life is messy, it’s busy, it’s complicated.  It’s not perfect.  We get pulled in a hundred different directions.  We have to set goals, with small steps that are actually attainable in our lives as they are.




===>  We need to be prepared with Plan B…and C, D, E, N, and R.  We need to have a plan, ahead of time, for the “what ifs”.

What I’m saying is:  getting healthy, getting fit, losing fat and/or weight (the #1 New Year’s Resolution) isn’t easy.

===> But all of those things are simple, if we don’t over-complicated it, AND if we apply a little patience. 

Its not easy     It is simple

It’s not “sexy”.  It’s not “hard-core”.  It’s not new.  It doesn’t promise miracle results.  There’s no secret.  People don’t believe it can be this simple…..but here’s the entire plan.



If you’re going into this change, already dreading it and feeling like you’re going to have to “go without”, you are going to fail.  Period.  You can’t muscle yourself through a major change with willpower alone.  Figure out your why!!!!  For example:  Instead of, “I’m fat and I need to go on a diet” – – “It took me a long time of not taking care of myself to get to this place in my life.  That’s okay. I’ve been busy.  I’ve had a lot going on.  I’m going to show myself the same compassion I would a good friend in this situation, but I deserve better than this.  I want to eat better and exercise because I love being able to walk along the beach without being out of breathe.  I love feeling more confident, and I always do when I’m taking better care of myself.  I know that when I eat like crap, I feel like crap.  No matter how many times I’ve thought the comfort food would make me feel better, it never has.  Not once.  I really want to try something new.  I don’t have to; I want to do this!!”


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Pick the right goal.  When we pick something like “lose XX pounds”, that becomes the focus no matter how unhealthy we are in getting there.  I lost a bunch of weight by going on a cigarette, coffee, and Suzy Q (chocolate, cream-filled cake) diet when I was young and foolish. I went on a grapefruit only diet; a skim milk only diet, and a “drink vinegar before every meal” diet. I lost weight.  Not one of those things was sustainable over the long term.  Not one of them made me any more healthy.  I felt like crap. It didn’t matter. My priority was to lose weight.  It isn’t any more.  My priority switched to, “Eat better so that I feel better.  Exercise so that I move better – and with less pain.  Take care of myself so that I age better.  All of these things will likely lead to fat loss but that’s not my primary goal anymore.  How I feel is much more important than what I weigh.”



Don’t.  Please, please, please, don’t go on some crazy starvation diet today, or think you need to live on salad and water.  Pick one thing at a time to focus on.  Try to cut your soda in half the first week. Then in half again the next, and the next, until you either stop drinking it all together or you have it once in a while as a treat. Decrease the sugar in your coffee a little bit at a time. Stop getting that venti frappuccino (you know who you are…..) every day and get just the grande this week; go for the tall next. Two years ago I changed from lattes to an American or red eye with 1 shot of sugar-free hazelnut and just a splash of milk.  I might have a latte a couple times a year.  It’s not that I stop myself from having them, but merely that I don’t crave them anymore, like I used to.

Drink water!!! If you can’t do it plain at first, put some Crystal Light or Mio in it and work to taper that off as you go through time. I hear some people now, “Oh, the chemicals. How could you even recommend that horrible stuff?” I’m recommending that you make the changes you will actually make to begin with. If you’re not going to drink water unless it has some flavor in it right now, mix in some damn flavor. Do what works for you.


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Same thing with the sweets/treats. I have a HORRIBLE sweet tooth and I love to bake – a bad combination. I have a special meal once a week.  There are no “forbidden” foods; not “good or bad”.  When you identify foods in that way you, you want nothing but the things you’re “not supposed to have”.  I eat a bite of this or that treat throughout the week.  I share a dessert with my husband.  I have a little bit of whatever I’m craving BUT only a little bit.  And I know myself.  There are some things that act as trigger foods for me.  If I have raspberry turnovers in the house, I cannot just have a bite and be done.  So they’re not in my house.  I still have them occasionally but I buy one at a time.  I buy individual servings of chips or chocolate when I get the urge – not the large bag just because “it costs less”.

I remind myself that I am in control. “I can have anything I want but I can’t have everything right now if I intend to meet my goals.” When I do have a special treat, I savor it. I sit and eat it. I don’t play on my computer, talk on my phone, or do anything except enjoy the taste, smell, texture, and flavor of my food.

Go grocery shopping.  Prep as much as you can on the weekend so that you have something ready to go when you walk in from work, ravenous and ready to eat a half gallon of ice cream with a spoon, because you’re hangry.  Cook extra, when you make a meal, so you have some to put in the fridge.



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Once you start to feel better (and you will), add in some exercise. Something you like.  Something you’ll actually do.


Some people like to walk, others run.  Some people like to lift weights, others dance.  I don’t care what it is.  Something.  For 15 minutes (or as long as are able to, if that’s too much).  Build from there.

The important thing is to do something, not try to do everything.


Have you identified some goals you would like to accomplish?  I’d love to hear about them if you’d care to share.

What Could a Blog Challenge Possibly Have to do with Health?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

blog challenge


Last week I finished a 30 day blog challenge.  When I initially saw the announcement, I thought, “Isn’t it odd to start a challenge in the middle of November?”  Yes!  In fact, Bradley Will,  creator of Learn to Blog, who hosted the challenge, even said, “I know it’s a crazy time of the year to start a new project, but let’s do it anyway.”


You know I can’t resist those words!  I’m always “in” whatever follows, “I know it’s crazy…but let’s do it anyway.”


To be honest, I loved that the challenge happened at this time of the year when so many people start to shut down.  People give up on any goals or aspirations beginning November 1st.  Exercise decreases.  Food consumption increases.  Projects are hurriedly finished “before the holidays”, and nothing new is begun.  What this means, is that many just write off an entire two months of life!


People go into, “I’ll just wait until January 1st” mode.  That was certainly not the case for the 244 bloggers in this challenge who, collectively, had written 3,414 blogs by the time I stopped counting.


For me, this challenge wasn’t just about writing.  In fact, writing had very little to do with it.  For me, this was about:

  • Setting, working on, and completing a goal through habit change.
  • Finding time for something I truly wanted to do.
  • Sticking to a commitment I made to myself (even “at this time of the year”), and
  • The friendships and fellowship of being around others trying to accomplish a similar goal.


We’ve talked about the fact – many times – that I can find a lesson for health and fitness in just about everything.  I’m a teacher and I like to relate everything back to something people already understand.  As such, every single thing I worked on, and was reminded of, in the 30-day blog challenge related to health!  Let me explain.


I was reminded that

I will not do anything if I don’t see value in it.  

Neither will you.

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Unless we first determine why…

why we want to write, why we want to start a business, why we want to lose weight/fat, why we want to gain muscle, why we want to eat better

….our, very intimately personal why, nothing is going to change.  Not for long, anyway.


Oh sure, we might do whatever it is for a little while.  Invariably, though, when the going gets tough – and it always does – unless we have a very good reason for wanting to keep the commitment, we’re not going to.  That shiny, new thing is going to be the first thing to go!


With the blog challenge:  Finding the time to write every day, through the holidays, while traveling, and while surrounded by family, wasn’t easy.  I had to – no, let me rephrase that – IF I wanted to achieve my goal, I had to, excuse myself occasionally in order to keep the commitment to myself.  Bradley was a great coach, but I was the one who had to show up every day.  I had to inspire myself first.  I had to be willing to put in the time writing, even if not one other person read the blog.  I had to write for myself.


With health:  I’m not going to give up family time and miss out on important events in my life just to go to the gym, nor would I recommend you do.  But – IF I want to achieve my goal of being more healthy, getting stronger, being fit, and getting some exercise, I have to make time for it.  Whether other people think I should make this a priority or not.  Whether it’s convenient or not.  Taking care of me is absolutely critical if I hope to take care of anybody else.  I have to workout for myself.

The food pushers are going to continually push food.  That’s a fact.  They think I should “eat this and that and something else” because “I’ll only live once” and “what’s the big deal?”  If I have set a goal to eat healthier, I have to be willing to turn some things down.  Unapologetically.  I have to eat for myself.


I was reminded that

It’s best if I focus on the things that provide the biggest impact, and let this idea of perfection go.   

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Worrying about the little stuff – which widgets to load on my website, obsessing over what font is prettiest, or scrolling through page themes for a few hours  – do not move me even one step closer to my goal.


With the blog challenge:  Some of the things I wrote this month took time.  Sometimes I wasn’t able to write until late at night or super early in the morning.  I wrote in the truck, at Starbucks, and sitting on a staircase with my granddaughter sitting beside me.  Sometimes  I was in a rush.

…so, yes, sometimes there were typos and grammatical errors.  Sometimes my comma usage was off.  Does that bother me?

To be honest – yes.  Yes, it does.  Do I go back and fix things later when I notice errors?  Yes, I do.  But, I’m learning not to let perfection cripple me.  If I don’t do anything until it’s perfect, I’m not going to do anything.  If I worry about what other people might think, or say, I’m not going to do anything.

I had to remember:  Good may be the enemy of great but perfect is the enemy of good.


With exercise:  There is positively no reason for me to know everything about every kind of exercise before I start working out.  There are a gazillion theories out there and even more opinions about which is best.  I could spend my time getting the perfect program, shopping for just the right outfit, worrying about whether I should eat before or after I work out, whether fasted cardio is best, or if Smith machine squats are better or worse than squats in the rack.  I could study nutrition for the next six months and seek out experts’ opinions on Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, and Counting Macros.


I could spend my time starting to exercise.  I could change one meal at a time, one nutritional habit at a time, and be happy that I’ve made some progress.  I could do what I can with what I have available (time, energy, and money).


I could decide that something done is better than nothing done perfectly.


I was reminded that

When I surround myself with people who hold me to my greatness  and I invest in myself, great things happen.  

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I had a Facebook conversation with several friends the other day.  “Most people who don’t know me that well, would never guess that I’m quite shy. If we have to assign labels, I’m definitely an introvert. Most of the time, I keep to myself. 


Not a new concept.  Years ago, when I studied Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I read about personal growth from dependency, through independence, and then interdependence.  It’s a theory that there is only so much each of us can achieve within a vacuum:  only so high you can rise, completely alone.


But a new application!  Humans are social creatures.  We thrive with connection.  Yes – even you, sitting there professing how much you hate people.   We’re hard-wired for interaction.  One of the biggest growth areas for me, over the last couple of years, has been to open myself to relationships.  Being around other people that challenge me, push me, while, at the same time, supporting me, has changed my outlook on life.


I invest time, money, a lot of sweat equity, and occasionally tears in myself.


There are two reasons that:

  • I worked so hard on my Master’s, three years ago.
  • Got four new certifications, two years ago.
  • I joined Jill Coleman’s Best of You program last year.
  • I currently work with Jordan Syatt for physical strength coaching.
  • I participate in several habit change coaching forums.
  • I did the blogging challenge.  The challenge didn’t cost me anything, financially, but I did volunteer to count blogs for the full 30 days.  My cost was several hours of time.
  • Even though I have a cram-packed schedule, I attend one of the Fitness Summits or other workshops, every year.
  • I’m doing the Mindset Mentorship next year.


Reason 1:  Having some skin in the game.  I heard the concept explained, in those words, from Jill Coleman.  I heard about it, scientifically researched, from Dan Ariely in a course on irrational behavior that I took through Duke University.



If you have nothing personally invested, you personally have nothing to lose.  That makes it incredibly easy to quit.  To fail.

Being vested in something (be that coaching, personal training, a gym membership, workshop, or developmental opportunity) – or making something yourself (like an Ikea bookcase) increases your chance of being more likely to keep “it”.


Reason 2:  I push myself, but only to a certain point.

The people I choose to surround myself with:  friends, family, coaches know what I’m capable of.  They don’t allow me to give up on myself.  They don’t accept my personal excuses, and they don’t let me stop at “good” when they know, with just a little more, I can get to “great”.  They refuse to allow me to just sit back and marinate in the status quo.



With the blog challenge:  There were some people, in the group, who make their money blogging.  Having those expert resources which we could turn to, at any time, for questions, concerns, or tips, was invaluable.  It also provided reassurance, support, and a safe environment where we could try new things.  Each of the blog challengers got to a point, during the month, where we wrote a personal blog.  Some of us made a video or two.  It was uncomfortable.  Putting yourself out there is like that  can be scary.  I felt quite vulnerable – more than once.  Knowing that others were doing the same thing, and that we had a support system to fall back on, made all the difference!


Being with people who are trying to accomplish the same thing you are:  be that a 26.2 mile ruck, a fitness competition, degree program, starting a new business, a blog challenge, or anything else, changes things!  It creates an esprit de corps that always pushes me beyond my comfortable limit.


With a healthy lifestyle:  Trying to change lifestyle habits, especially if you’ve failed in the past, can be daunting.  Remember that it’s helpful if you invest in yourself.  Get some skin in the game!


At the same time, surround yourself with people who hold you to your greatness.  There is little doubt that your friends and family love you.  They (usually) try to support your goals but, they may not have ever struggled with what you’re going through.  They may want to help, but they don’t know how to.

To be honest, they might also coddle you.  Precisely because your friends and family love you, they don’t like for you to be uncomfortable, they don’t like for you to struggle.  Going through tough stuff – which needs to be done when you’re making any kind of change – is uncomfortable!  As you grumble to family and friends, they may feel badly for you and just tell you to give up.  “If you’re so unhappy….why are you doing this?”


Here’s what a blog challenge taught me about health:

You will not do anything, for long, if I don’t see personal value in it.

It’s best if you focus on the things that provide the biggest impact, and let this idea of perfection go.   Do what you can, when you can, with what you have.

Invest in yourself.

Surround yourself with people who hold you to your greatness.

Who Gets to Dress Serena?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

I’m going to start this post but merely saying, “I have a question” and “I’d be very interested in your opinion.”

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Yesterday, it was announced that Serena Williams has been named Sportsperson of the Year.



What a tremendous and well-earned accomplishment!


Serena is the first individual woman to receive the honor since 1983.




Oddly enough, this morning, though, it’s not her amazing tennis skills I’m reading about.  It’s not the fact that this 34 year old woman went 53-3 in 2015 with five titles, including at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, that provides the primary focus.


No, this morning,  all of the chatter is about the magazine cover.

It’s not about tennis.

It’s people complaining about Serena’s pose and her outfit.

Why is she not poised in an athletic stance, wearing a tennis skirt?


Well, it appears (I wasn’t in the room at the time and until I talk to her personally, or see an interviewer ask her the question on camera, I can’t confirm…and if either of those things happen, or I get more information, I will definitely share that.) that both were her choice.  No surprise, really, considering that as a young girl, she wanted to be a wedding dress designer.  And, like her sister (who already has her own line of activewear), Serena has future plans to launch herself into fashion after she retires from tennis.


In July, when Serena appeared on the cover of New York Magazaine happily she was “portrayed as the complex, multi-faceted human being she is—a woman who’s dominating multiple fields unapologetically.”


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I adore those words!  It’s Serena being Serena, unapologetically.  We all have that right.



I actually had a similar discussion with some MMA fighters, not too long ago.  My question was, “Why do the male fighters just show up in their fighting shorts but the women ‘have to’ (those were my words) come in wearing tiny little bikinis or flirty outfits, they would never fight in?”

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The answer?  “Because they want to.  The fighters pick their weigh-in outfits.”




We’re so incensed about the way things “should be” that perhaps we’re over-the-top sensitive to how people are being portrayed.


I believe 100%!!!!!  that we should all strive to feel comfortable and confident in our bodies – no matter how tall, short, fat, thin, muscular, or anything else we are.  I agree that society has portrayed the female body to be little more than a sexual icon and we have a LONG way to go before our little boys and girls are on equal footing.


Yet (and, again, remember that I personally asked that same question not too long ago – so I’m not, at all, pointing fingers) here’s my question.


Who gets to decide how any of us should dress?

How we should pose…

Whether it’s “okay” to wear make-up in the gym or not…

How we “should” put ourselves out there…


I have a friend who has taken pictures of herself wearing nothing but paint.  They are some of the most magnificent, powerful photos I have ever seen of the female body.  On the other end of the spectrum, I had a woman say to me, personally, not too long ago, “Wow!  Did you see that lady pumping gas?  Her dress is a little short for her age, don’t you think?  She shouldn’t be wearing that.”   Excuse me?


Clearly – not okay!  Most people would agree with me, there.


But we take a very strong, beautiful, professional female athlete and feel justified in dressing her the way we think she should dress?


Is there a difference here?

Self-Compassion is Required if you Plan to Care for Others

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T. 
This time of the year can be challenging for me, and based on past experience, I know that’s true.  It’s not because I have more commitments due to the holidays.  Though, that is frequently true, as well.  It’s not because I have less time.  It’s actually because I have more.
Let me explain.
It’s been really nice to be off the road for a few weeks but, to be completely honest, I find that I  accomplish more when I’m in my routine.  MY routine is traveling, teaching, and working from 0530 – 2300.  Without a schedule, or any type of deadlines, I tend to just flitter about and I actually accomplish very little.
You might think my schedule sounds crazy because yours might be very different than mine.  The fact is, when we’re thrown off our normal routine – whatever is typical for us – it can be difficult to get our footing.
 That’s when I find that I put things off until the last minute.
I create false deadlines to motivate myself.
I try to “make myself” do things even though I don’t feel like it.
This approach doesn’t work so well and I’m trying to do less of it this year.
I’m trying to focus on showing myself some kindness.
 I haven’t yet found the time to update my 2016 handbooks, make all of the travel arrangements I need to, update contracts, re-do my website, or a dozen other things.
BUT, I’ve accomplished some.
I’ve actually taken time to relax.  A “task” that typically stresses me out, to be honest.  It seems like such a luxury.  I’ve volunteered for a bunch of new things and really stepped outside of my comfort zone with a few of these projects.  Rather than stressing out, each evening, about what didn’t get done, I reflect on what I have accomplished.
Regardless of whether it was – a lot or a little – there’s always something.  I pat myself on the back.  I’m showing myself some kindness.
We have such a hard time with that, don’t we?  I mean, we really struggle sometimes.
We do amazing things for the people we love.  Not so much as a second thought.  We put them first.  We even put strangers before ourselves.   We come last – if at all.  Otherwise we feel guilty.  We feel like we’re not good parents.  We’re not a good spouse.  We’re not good roommates or friends.
We’re simply not good people.  We’re selfish.
I know the feeling.  Trust me!  I am better than ANYONE at heaping guilt on myself.
It’s exhausting.  It’s frustrating.  And it’s bullshit.
What if I told you that if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not doing a good job taking care of anyone else, either.
 You don’t take time to eat, because you’re busy getting dinner ready for everybody else; and then there are the dishes, the laundry, the clients…  
===> Best case, you’re tired and unfocused.  Worst case, you’re h-angry, miserable, and lose your patience with family and friends.  The very people you’re trying to help.
You don’t take time to exercise, because you have so much other stuff to do.
===> Best case, you’re tired and feel a little blah.  Worst case, you become
de-conditioned, start to gain weight, don’t feel your best, and/or get incredibly depressed.
You don’t take time to just sit for five minutes, be quiet and breathe.
===> There’s just a worst case for for this one.  You’re exhausted.  You’re frustrated.  You’re depressed.  Sure, you folded the laundry, did the dishes, sat out everything for tomorrow, completed that big project you volunteered for at work (because no one can do it even half as well as you can….been there.  Done that).  You did all of the things you were “supposed to”!  You are super woman.  But; rather than being able to enjoy the company of your family, you start to resent them.  You can’t wait for it to all be over so that you can just sink into bed.
Let me ask you this.  What if you didn’t fold the laundry?  What if the dishes sat until tomorrow night?
What if you took 30 minutes for yourself?  Would the world, as you know it, end?  Doubtful.
More likely, you’d feel better.  You’d be more positive.  You’d have more energy to do some of those other things.
One thing that can make a huge difference is taking the time to workout.  For your body, but also for your mind.  For your emotion.  For your mental health.  It doesn’t have to be in a gym.  It doesn’t have to be lifting weights.  It doesn’t have to be “a program”.  It has to be something you enjoy where you move your body, you elevate your heart rate a little bit, and you receive some endorphins in that blood stream of yours!
I know when we get tired, bored, have too much to do, or too much unmotivated time on our hands, it’s incredibly easy for “luxuries” like working out, to be the first to go.  We exercise only IF we can fit it in.  Sadly, we can rarely fit it in.  When we’ll do it only after everything else is done, we’re not going to do it.  Period.  End of story.
I think we’re looking at it in the wrong way.
Exercise isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish; it’s required.
Mandatory.  Necessary.  Like food, water, and air……
Don’t believe me?  Think of a time when you were actually (able) to eat well, to exercise, to take care of yourself.  How did you feel?  How much different more energy did you have for taking care of everybody (and everything) else?
So, it sounds great.  You believe me.  Now, how do you ensure you keep the commitment to yourself?
One way is to insist on it.  I mean, if f you don’t, you can’t really get upset that others don’t think about it.
Here’s a somewhat silly, real example.  When I get up in the morning, I like to take 20 or 30 minutes and ease into my day.  I sip a cup of coffee.  I may read.  I think about my intention for the day.  Even on workdays, I add in this time by getting up earlier.  My family knows I’m going to do this.  I was at my daughter’s a few months ago, enjoying my morning.  My 8 year old grandson was downstairs with me – he was also reading.  His 4 year old brother decided to get up early and came downstairs.  I said, “Good morning, Blake” and gave him a hug.  Hayden immediately said, “Blake, this is gramma’s quiet time.  We need to play quietly until she finishes her coffee.”
No big deal.  No drama.  It’s just something I’ve established as a norm.  They get it.
Another way is to purposely plan for it.
 As I’m setting my intention for the day, I look at my schedule.
  • When will I have time to workout today?  Even if it’s only 15 – 20 minutes.  When?
  • I immediately pull out my phone and set an alarm for 20-30 minutes before my workout.
  • When that alarm goes off, no matter if I’m “in the middle of something” or whatever (and this is why I set it 20-30 minutes ahead of time) I wrap that up, and I get ready to work out.


Sometimes I go to the gym, sometimes I go to my basement, sometimes I go to yoga, sometimes I go for a walk, but I DO keep that appointment – as stringently as I would if the appointment was with a client or my doctor.

I’m showing myself some kindness.
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Kindness & Self-Compassion Get you some!!

You need to remember to do the same.
Every day.  Every season.
But it’s especially important at this time of the year.
The holidays.  Family, friends, food – or the lack of all of those things – can be very stressful.  The tumultuous time when one year is ending and the new one hasn’t yet begun.
Show yourself some kindness.
You’re so very worth it.

Get Your Head in the Game: Exercise is Good for Your Brain.

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

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I’m not a neuroscientist, and I don’t play one on the internet.



But I do love reading studies about, and learning as much as I can about, the brain.


That little 3-pound globule that holds residence inside our skull and runs everything we do.


It really interests me.


It makes me think.  Literally, but also about the tool itself.


How does it develop?  How does it work? How is it affected by trauma?


Specifically, I’ve been wondering how the brain is impacted by aging and whether or not, as we age, we can impact IT.


I mean, we’re getting older.  Each of us.  Every day.


I remember my children telling their friends, “My mom is 25!!!!!”  Like it was amazing that humans could actually live that long.  At one point, I remember thinking 30 was really old.  I remember friends telling me, as I approached 40, “You’re going to have to start slowing down now.”


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Maybe it was as a means to thumb my nose at all of that.

Maybe it was a staunch refusal to be a “statistic”.

Maybe it was a “mid-life crisis”.

Maybe it was merely that I finally reached a place in my life where I had more expendable time.


Whatever the reason, I actually started to become healthier in my 30s and 40s.


I quit smoking.

I quit partying to excess.




I started exercising:  lifting weights, running 5Ks, 10Ks, and obstacle courses, boxing, and doing yoga despite an incredibly challenging travel schedule.


I competed in three figure competitions when I was 47, and two more when I was 50.



I’m not alone.  A lot of people are getting healthier as they age.

Not just to move better.

Certainly not just to look better.

But to LIVE better.


We know – I mean there’s no debate about this, is there?

We all know that exercise and a decent diet are good for us, physically.

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We know that the combination helps prevent excess weight gain, or maintain weight loss.  It helps regulate blood pressure, decreases risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and arthritis.  Exercise improves mood and boosts energy.


What I want to focus on is something you might not know. I’ve been devouring books and research papers since I’ve been home for the last few weeks.  I want to talk about the link between our brains, aging, and exercise.


Why should you care?


Because, like me, you’re fortunate enough to be getting older too!


Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disease, is the most common cause of dementia – a very real concern as we age?

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A lot of people like to joke about it but, if you’ve ever seen its real-life effects, you know it’s no joking matter.  When I was 18 and 19, I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant on the Alzheimer’s ward of a nursing home.  It was – without question – one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.


To watch what that disease does, as it rips away memory, language, problem-solving and basic cognitive skills used in everyday activities, not only to the person with the illness, but to the entire family, is heart-wrenching.


Much (much, much) more study needs to be done, through epigenetics and the like, to determine causes and potential cures for Alzheimer’s.  That said, per the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2015 Facts and Figures Report, there is a growing body of evidence that brain health is closely link to cardio-vascular health.

I don’t find that surprising.

Every organ, including the brain needs oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood to function optimally.  It gets that from a healthy circulatory system.


That means, factors that protect our heart and blood vessels:

Physical activity

A diet lower in saturated fats

Eating more fruits and vegetables

Are the same things that protect the brain!

Research has proven that even moderate exercise, such as walking for 40 minutes three times a week, can combat decline in function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.

Carl Cotman, the founding director of The Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, concurs.  “Exercise mobilizes the molecular machinery to improve brain health and cognition.  It increases metabolism in the brain and generally makes brain cells healthier.  It even helps clear out Alzheimer’s pathology in mouse models.”


Neuroscientists at Columbia University have provided evidence that “a structured exercise program increases neurogenesis – the birth and development of new nerve cells – in a memory hub of the brain.”  Not only does exercise preserve our brains, it actually allows us to create new nerve cells!


Art Kramer, who ranks among the top 1% among researchers in Psychiatry and Psychology, and whose research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, focuses on the cognitive benefits of exercise, says, “There is certainly increasing research that suggest physical activity and exercise will protect your mind and brain throughout your lifetime. Not only is fitness a good way to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, but it also is a means to enhance memory decision making, and the brain circuits that underlie them.”



Although more research needs to be done, I am incredibly excited about the things we’re learning now.  Physical activity and a healthier diet make a difference.

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And, both of these are things within our control.

In Support of 30-Day Challenges

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.


I was thrilled to see one of my favorite power lifting coaches talk, positively, about a 30-day challenge he recently had several clients complete.

Many people (especially those in the fitness industry) say the 30 day challenges don’t work and are a waste of time,…


I’ve done blogging challenges – that not only got me to write every day for 30 days, but got me in the habit of finding time to write.  I’ve done exercise challenges, nutrition challenges, gratitude, journaling, and study challenges.  I once joined a Las Vegas boot camp for 30 days – that turned into 1 year!!  …and started me down the path of becoming the most healthy I have every been.


I’ve also personally run several of these challenges in the past and seen

(a) amazing short-term results but also

(b) sustainable results over the long-term

Courtney 2

  • I can think of at least half a dozen people immediately (without actually sitting down to think) who lost weight/fat and have kept it off (so far) for over 12-24 months.
  • I can think of three who received better ratings on their health insurance and are saving money this year as a direct result of a 30-day challenge they did last year.
  • I can think of 10 people (again, without even thinking) who have helped their family members make sustainable changes because of a 30-day challenge they personally participated in.


As with everything else, there ARE caveats though.  30 days is not the “end all” “magic” answer.


You need to know, going in, that:



1. HEALTH IS NOT FOR 30 DAYS.  (not for 12 weeks, for the summer, or until a person reaches a certain age).

Health is for life. For that reason, I don’t believe in extreme challenges. Just say, “NO” to starvation diets; de-toxes; wraps, pills or powders; exercising for hours a day; eliminating food groups, etc.

Those things are a huge waste of time, and money.  In fact, they can have the opposite affect of what you’re hoping for.  With these types of challenges – where things change only for the a certain number of days, people have a tendency to binge the day before they start.  You know….to “get ready”.

They do the 21-30 days un-sustainable, miserable, program and on day 22 or 31, everything is “back to normal”.  These programs can, and many times, do lead to yo-yo dieting.



A 30-day challenge can be a fantastic way to learn, and try out, new things,  They can provide different ways of looking at nutrition/exercise that can be implemented and sustained well after the challenge is over, but the change should be incremental.

Forget about health for a second, and look at organizational change.  I have my degree in change management and leadership.  I can’t walk into an organization on day one and say, “Okay, starting tomorrow, you’re doing this but no longer that.  We’re changing this and this and this.”  Presto.

Um.  No.

I’d start first by talking to the people.  “What change would YOU like to see?”  “What’s the end goal?  What are we trying to achieve?”  We don’t rush though this step.

THEN  “What one thing can we easily change now that will move us in the direction we hope to go?”  ………………..

Let’s do that first.

Do Something

THEN review.  “Is that working?”  If so, it’s critical we celebrate the change – no matter how small.  If it’s not working, “Should we try something else?”  We look at objective measurements here, not feelings.

THEN “What one thing can we easily change now that will move us – more – in the direction we hope to go?

And so on, and so on, and so on; building upon the small changes made previously.


You may not have thought about it in this manner, but the body is also a system – just like the organization is!!  Change one thing and it impacts others.  Start exercising like mad, and you’re going to be hungry!  Start eating some ridiculously low number of calories, and you’re going to feel sluggish.  You are going to binge.  The question is not if, but when.

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3. Mindset Matters Most.

Nothing will change, externally, until you’re ready to make a change, internally.  You have to want to make the change.  Once you have that, 30-days in a challenge group, where individuals receive support, and start to see results can be just enough to bolster self-confidence and resolve.

Reasonable changes also show people that neither the nutrition nor exercise have to be crazy over-the-top.

When people do a 30-day challenge and learn new concepts, those things cannot be unlearned. Even if they are not consistently put into practice, people think more about them.  The communities built within these short-term challenges can be just the extra motivation people need to get started.


Have you tried a short-term challenge?  What was your opinion of it?  What did you learn?

Why Your Resolutions Won’t Work This Time Either

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

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As of this morning, there are only 27 days until January 1, 2016.  A day when 45% of all Americans and countless more people, worldwide, will set resolutions.  We’ll quit smoking, start exercising, eat less crap, stop arguing, go back to school, and become better parents.


What an amazing day it will be!

Only.  Probably not.


A Nielson survey published in January 2015 showed “staying fit and healthy” as the top resolution last year, coming in at 37%.  That was followed closely by “lose weight” (32%).  If Facebook is any indication, it will be the same for 2016 – just like it always has been.  I can’t go past three posts on my newsfeed without seeing some type of sponsored ad by someone offering a new program that will kick off on January 1st.

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The problem is…while the year starts with the best of intentions, it doesn’t typically go the way we hoped.  One quarter of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up within the first week!


Here’s why:


I.  Resolutions are dreams, goals are plans:  action is where changes occur.

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According to Nielson, the top 5 resolutions are (1) To Lose Weight (2) Getting Organized (3) Spend Less, Save More (4) Enjoy Life to the Fullest and (5) Get Fit & Healthy.


There are numerous problems with these resolutions, not the least of which, is their nebulous language.  They’re not specific.  What does “getting organized” or “enjoying life to the fullest” look like?  What’s involved in “getting fit and healthy”?  What’s the plan to “lose weight” or “spend less”?  How much?  How much less?  How are you going to do those things?  How will you know you’ve “been successful”?


Envisioning a better form or ourselves is fantastic.  Wanting to be, or do, more is admirable.  But you’ve got to first identify exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish.  “I will….” is easy to say.  The fact is, though, that you have not in the past.


Saying you’ll do something does nothing for you – except make you feel like a failure when you don’t do it.  Setting goals gives you a little more concrete plan but still does nothing for you.  Taking action is the only way things change and you will not take action until your reason for doing so is more important than your reason for not.


II.  Mindset Matters Most.


…and, before you will take action that leads to sustainable change, you have to figure out your “why not”.  What’s been holding you back?


Untie your boat


This step requires a lot of introspection and personal awareness.  Many people prefer not to do this.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s easier to jump right in by changing your diet or forcing yourself to exercise.

I promise you:  if your mind isn’t in the right place, you’re wasting your time.  You’re going to end up showing your but…

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I really want to lose weight but…
I know I need to make better choices but…
I need to take my health more seriously but…
I really need to cut back on eating out but…
I know I should track my food but…
But is an excuse.  Your but gets in the way!  Your but is what your story has always been.
To change that story, you need to understand the but and realize you can have either that OR you can have results but not both.


III.  We focus on what we’ll stop doing.  

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I’ll quit smoking.  I’ll stop eating too much, or too much of “x”.  I’ll stop procrastinating.  I’ll stop yelling at the children.  Bad habits don’t just disappear.  In fact, habits are ingrained in our subconscious.  To consciously focus on stopping them, only brings more attention to the negative and exhausts that willpower “muscle” very quickly.


It’s much more productive to focus on what we will do.

Breaking goals into smaller chunks provides steps to make dreams a reality.  You won’t lose 75 pounds in one day; you won’t run a marathon in a week.


You can start exercising 2-3 times a week.

You can start eating more vegetables and protein.

You can get a good running plan and log your first step today – maybe you’ll walk for 1/2 a mile.

You can schedule playdates with your children.

You can shut off the television by 8 pm each evening and spend an hour doing something productive.

See the difference?


IV.  We try to implement everything at once.  

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Many people use the New Year as an opportunity to make large bucket lists or attempt extreme makeovers.  We expect to wake up on January 1st and just “do it”.  We will diet, exercise, quit smoking, quit arguing, quit procrastinating, and win parent of the year.  All at once!!


If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is.  But think about it for a moment:  isn’t this what we typically do?  Let me focus on health and fitness.  How many times have you gone on a diet, began exercising like a mad-wo/man, started drinking nothing but water, and forbidden any “not authorized” food into the house.    How long did that last?  It’s exhausting!

What if you just added protein to a few meals this week.

Added vegetables to a few meals next week (while still maintaining the protein).

Added water to the protein and vegetables in a few weeks.

Stuck with one thing at a time for a little while and then added one more thing.

The sad fact is that people don’t want to do this because it seems so boring.  It seems too easy.  That can’t possible work.  But it does!!!!  It works precisely because it’s easy to incorporate these changes.

Even if you only change one thing each month, that’s TWELVE changes over the coming year.


Small steps taken consistently add up to greater travel toward your goals.

Why Settle for Less?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.  
Mindset Matters
Do you set goals for the New Year?
I don’t make “resolutions”.
But, I do make plans.
At this time of the year, I reflect on what I have accomplished over the past 11 months and what I want to do over the next 12.
i create a strategic plan for myself personally, and for my business.  I set specific goals for each area.
I do this simply because I am interested in so many different things!  There are countless options competing for my time, attention, and money.  It’s easy for me to lose focus if I don’t have a plan.  The fact is, when we say, “yes” to something, it means we have to say, “no” to something else.

Mindset has been a huge focus for me in 2015.  My health triad is Mindset Mostly, Nutritional Habits, and then Movement for a specific reason.  I’ve worked with enough people to KNOW….know…that mindset is the most important part.  I can help you with nutritional habits.  I can give you an exercise program.  I can talk to you about how to start your own business.  I can walk you through numerous “self-help” program.


None of it is going to work unless your mind is in the right place.


None of it is going to take hold unless you are ready for change.



…and, I am ready for change.  Mindset is going to be a bigger focus for me in 2016.  Several weeks ago, I decided to investigate a mentorship with Brian Grasso, CEO of the Mindset Performance Institute.  I provided my husband a list of things I was considering as investments.  Without telling him what I had decided, he also suggested the mentorship for me.  Clearly, that’s the right answer!


I was excited.


Then, it happened.  At quarter of midnight, last night, as I was completing the mentorship application, I began questioning the decision.  I began doubting myself.


The program is hard.

  • Can I do it?
  • Am I a good fit for this?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Should I wait until I have more training, or more experience?
  • Am I strong enough?
  • Am I authentic enough?
  • Will this really help me?  Will it help me to help others?
  • What if I fail?


The seeds had been planted.  Like it or not, they rattled around inside my head for a little while.  Should I just forget about it and leave this for a younger person, a more fit person, a person with more degrees or certifications, a person with more experience: a person that is more of something than I am.
I caught myself.  I called Bullshit.  To quote Brian:

I used to think I needed “more motivation to GET me going”.  Then I called bullshit and realized what I really needed was to do passionate things that KEPT me going.

I used to think I needed “more confidence”.  Then I called bullshit and realized what I really needed was less bullshit about me needing more confidence.

I decided to get out of my own way.  I can accept excuses and labels.  I can self-impose limitations. OR I can stand up, look directly into that face staring back from the mirror and say, “I AM GOING TO DO THIS!”  
I am doing the MPI membership beginning in January.  I’m signed up.  The application has been submitted….and I can’t wait!!
I am not going to settle for less when more is right there…..
How about you?  Where are you holding yourself back?  What one thing have you always wanted to do but been too scared to pursue?  Why don’t you get started on that – right now.

Add a Whole Month to your Life.

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T. 



Thanksgiving is over.


Many of the leftovers have been consumed.


Black Friday has happened.


Many people are now preparing for their holiday season and waiting for January 1st before starting anything new.



Putting life on hold for the next 34 days, 817 hours, 49,053 minutes, 2,943,185 seconds.

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Until NEXT Monday.


NEXT week.


NEXT year.



Only when…………


As for me.  I will not wait.  I have short term goals to accomplish over the next 34 days.  I have set one physical goal, one educational goal, one emotional goal, and two business goals.


What can you accomplish in 34 days?  How much closer to your goals could you be in a month?


What are you putting off that you don’t need to?


Tomorrow is a day in your life.


…and the next day, and the next day, and the next 34 days.