Category: Empowerment

All of Life is About Choices

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

Touring the mosque in Adana, Turkey

Touring the mosque in Adana, Turkey


As I enjoy the last few sips of my coffee, I am scrolling through some of my photo albums. It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze, I have coffee, and these memories warm my very soul.

This isn’t just a travel expose though. Stick with me until the end.

This has to do with health and fitness too.

This has to do with life.




Somebody told me, the other day, that I’m “lucky”.

While certain things can happen purely through luck or happenstance, I believe we can also create our own. We can make ourselves available. We can put ourselves in a position to be able to accept “luck” when it falls in our laps.

Palau, Federated States of Micronesia

Palau, Federated States of Micronesia

Lucky? Maybe. Fortunate? Absolutely!! I have been fortunate, truly fortunate, enough to have traveled extensively. Just about every single state in the US, throughout Europe, Asia, and Oceania.

I can’t name a favorite place although I have favorite memories from each. Among them:


– Camping & diving on the beaches of Okinawa, Japan with my family. Diving with the submarine.  Dragon boat racing.


Truk, Federated States of Micronesia

– Driving though an entire field of sheep, in the middle of nowhere, outside Aviano, Italy with my niece. Cappuccino!!! Real, cappuccino. Pizza in Venice, and almost being arrested for taking pictures of grapevines. Being jacked up for carrying a fork in my suitcase.

– Navigating the Paris subway and eating gelato in the courtyard of Notre Dame with another niece. Walking for hours every day. The gum tunnel. London Eye. Eating my hand-carried lunch on the Eiffel tower. Almost being arrested for taking pictures of the National Police.   Hmm. I’m starting to see a pattern here.

– Finding beautiful flowers tucked among ancient abbey ruins, and wasting time at Stonehenge with my sister. Scones. THE most amazing tea house in the middle of nowhere. Driving ,and driving, and driving…


– Camping on the shore, and roasting marshmallows, in Bar Harbor with my other sister. Listening to her complain about my driving as we went up Cadillac Mountain.  Lobster rolls.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

– Camping in Yellowstone.  Baby bison.  Mountain goats.

– Touring the Guinness Factory, and seeing the colored doors of Dublin, Ireland.

– Having fresh, roasted sardines on the street in Lisbon, Portugal.

– Walking on the beach, talking with a local about our cultural differences in the Azores.

– Enjoying Pide Ekmeği at a rooftop restaurant, and fresh rolled-on-the-street cigarettes, just outside of Adana, Turkey.

– Black, and green beaches in Hawaii. SUP with dolphins and diving with sea turtles.

– Our last night dive in Truk. Just me, my husband, and a beautifully encrusted WWII shipwreck. Moonlight. Fish. Jellies.

– Speaking of jellies, Jellyfish Lake in Palau. Giant parrot fish and sharks.

…and so on, and so on, and so on. Such amazing memories!!!


Tower.  Pisa, Italy.

Tower. Pisa, Italy.

Let me be 100% clear – this is where I want to make sure you see more than just the wonderful places I’ve traveled to.


None of this was given to us.

Neither of us were born into well-to-do families with lots of money and great travel experience. They didn’t (still don’t) travel. We both grew up in small towns in Maine. Our families did not have a lot of money; necessities were covered but little extra. When we met, Brent was eating Chef-Boy-Ardee pizza and Ramen. I was a single mother raising my two children and a foster child on just over $400 a month.


Brent had been on a road trip from Maine to Alaska when he was 5; and had traveled to Carolina, California, Cuba, South Korea, and Japan as a Marine. I had never been on a plane until I was 31 years old. To that point, I had been throughout New England and Florida only.

Tower Bridge, England.

Tower Bridge, England.


Travel (and LIFE) happened because of choices we made.


Brent got his degree by putting himself through college. He worked from 9 pm until 7 am, and went to school during the day. I began bettering my situation by taking a job on rotating shifts. I would work 7 am to 3 pm for a few days and then 11 pm to 7 am and then 3 pm to 11 pm. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to be changing hours all the time. You never actually settle into a sleep pattern. It was what I needed to do, and after doing odd jobs (I cleaned houses, worked as a baker in a grocery story, a clerk at a convenience store, and a nursing assistant among other things) it was nice to do something more substantial.

– This was a choice.

Liverpool, England

Liverpool, England

Together we agreed that Brent would go back into the military. Not easy. We had to leave life-long family and friends. When we got on the plane that first day, headed to Japan, it was our family of four against – and out into – the world.

– This was a choice.


I couldn’t find work when we arrived on Okinawa so I volunteered. I wasn’t being paid, and I knew nothing about the military (nothing!!!), yet I took a job working 50-60 hours a week in a very fast-paced military customs and courtesies office.

– This was a choice.


After a year of volunteering, a paying position was created. Hooray! At that point, I also started going to school. I had never completed college and realized I wouldn’t be competitive for promotion without a degree. Life became 40-60 hours of work per week, plus college classes and homework. Remember that I also had two children at home.

– This was a choice.


We moved to Florida and both continued to work. I enrolled in school: this time earning my BA. Working 40 or more

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

hours every week, plus college classes and homework. Two kids in high school. Not easy!

– This was a choice.


Once I earned my Bachelor’s, I had an opportunity to change careers. It would mean I would move into an area I knew absolutely nothing about. I sat in my office and did nothing but read regulations for 8 hours a day. Not fun!

– This was a choice.


Long story short. We moved. We moved again. I went back to school. We moved again. Etc. Etc.


I ultimately started my own company, which has provided a means for me to travel the world.

Bad Dürkheim, Germany

Bad Dürkheim, Germany

Here’s the thing:


Had we not made a choice to leave our families and go into the military

Had we not made a choice to sacrifice both time and money in order to go back to school

Had we not made the sacrifice of time to work as hard as we did

Had we not made a choice to take risks (I started a new career 3 times)…I would have not had the skills necessary to start my own business.

Had I not made a choice to ignore my fear and start a company…


***  We would not have had any of the opportunities that we have today. None of them. ***


Please don’t waste your life wishing for the things that you want. No matter what your goals are: to travel, to be happier, to learn something new, or to be more healthy – – –


Wishing does NOTHING for you. Look at your Opportunity Cost. Set priorities. Make choices.


You have to make different choices if you want something different.

If you would like to be more healthy, as an example:


You need to make a choice to eat better, which also means

You need to make a choice to eat less crap

You need to make a choice to drink more water

You need to make a choice to exercise, at least a little bit

You need to make a choice to do the things that make your life better, which also means

You need to make a choice to stop doing the things that make your life worse

You need to make a choice about which relationships are worth your time and effort, and which aren’t

You need to make a choice about whether you’re truly willing to do what is necessary to get you to your goal. No one can do that for you.


You got this! You really do…but only if you make the choice to make a change.

Getting More Than You Bargained For at the Buffet?

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 5.38.34 PM


Wow!! My friend, and mentor, Jill Coleman just hit me over the head with something. She said:

“One thing that I think gets missed a lot in the health/fat loss/physique discussion is quality of life. We tend to ask, ‘What will work?’ instead of first considering, ‘What will I enjoy?’ And contrary to what you might think, ‘what you enjoy’ is probably not stuffing yourself and eating to your heart’s desire.“

Oh my gosh! Right? So right!!



Every single one of the “diets” out there WILL work if they result in you taking in fewer calories than you burn.

The question should not be – which nutrition plan should you follow.

The question should be – which way of eating is conducive to your lifestyle?

Which exercise program are you actually going to do because you enjoy it?


…and, while we may think it’s freedom to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, in whatever quantity we want, that’s simply not true!

Do you remember how crappy you feel when you overeat?


I certainly do!!

I used to do that every time my family went to a buffet. I literally could NOT walk out of a Golden Coral without feelingScreen Shot 2015-07-25 at 5.37.50 PM sick. I never intended to start out that way. I always began with a salad. Always. Then I just wanted a l
ittle of this, a little of that, a little more of something else, and I couldn’t possibly leave without getting dessert – plus, it was just a little. A little piece of carrot cake and a little sliver of chocolate cake, and some ice cream, and maybe a cheesecake square… I wasn’t hungry. Far, far from it. But I HAD to have dessert because it was there.

I’m not exaggerating! Either of my kids, or my husband, could confirm this behavior to you.



What to hell? Why? If all of that food is available, we think we need to:

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 6.06.37 PM


For some reason, we feel like we need to, “get our money’s worth”. If we don’t stuff ourselves, we feel like it, “wasn’t worth it.”


It took me a long time, and a lot of hard work, to get out of that mindset. I stopped going to buffets for a very long time!!


Whether I stuff myself, and get sick, or I eat enough to satiate myself, I got my money’s worth!! I don’t need to set some record in eating a week’s groceries in one sitting!!!



– and I did then but this does take conscious effort

– I KNOW that I don’t need all of that food.


I don’t like feeling stuffed.

I don’t like heartburn.

I don’t like being uncomfortable and bloated.


Eating like that is not fun.

It’s not what I want to do.


….and if I don’t eat chocolate cake today because I ate hickory bourbon chicken and I’m really not hungry, I can have it tomorrow if I want, or the next day, or the day after that.


Here’s a story I shared with Jill. This happened just last night and shows how far I’ve come in my journey to embrace moderation. Last night my husband and I went to Panera Bread for dinner. He got home late and the restaurants around here fill up quickly on Friday nights. This is close to home and we both like it. I ordered a strawberry poppy seed chicken salad (not because I “had to” but because I truly love that salad!). I also ordered a piece of carrot cake since yesterday was our wedding anniversary (and I love carrot cake). I ate half of it. My husband asked if I was going to eat the rest (he doesn’t like it so we weren’t sharing). I said, “No. I’ve had enough.” I wrapped up the cake and brought it home.


Today I saw it in the refrigerator. There is absolutely NO reason that I need to eat that cake. We’re not celebrating. I’m not punishing myself and I have zero guilt about eating cake yesterday.

The entire piece of cake was 99 cents and yet I felt a pang of guilt as I threw it in the trash. That’s ridiculous!!! If I had eaten it, since I’m not really in the mood for carrot cake today, it would have been purely out of guilt. That would have been MORE ridiculous!!


Likely, if I were to drive to Panera right now, I could buy another slice. Carrot cake still exists in the world.  I’m sure of it!!!!

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 6.09.35 PM

How Are You Smarter than a Rocket Scientist?

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

This blog isn’t about health and fitness, but it is about mindset. It’s a reminder that YOU are amazing, and intelligent. In fact, you are smarter than a rocket scientist!! I reminded myself of that just this afternoon.

Today, I taught a full auditorium (57 people) of aerospace scientists and engineers about Federal benefit programs, retirement, Social Security, a variety of insurance plans, and other things.

These people are very smart!!! The work they do is fascinating. We’re talking actual rocket scientist level stuff. While I love hearing their stories, and looking at their experiments, which they are always more than willing to share with me, much of it is beyond my level of comprehension.


I’m going to make some broad-brush statements about the group. Because they are so smart, they can be challenging to work with. They sometimes have difficulty understanding simple concepts. Many take things very literally. As a group, they have a very dry sense of humor. They don’t want answers – they want to know every step leading up to the answer, and the “why” behind everything. What takes me 15 minutes to explain in any other class can take 50 minutes with these folks.


I’ve had a few spend hours in my office filling up pages and pages of notebook paper with computations because they were trying to get to the bottom of a formula I told them we had to use.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 6.16.18 PM

“Why are you using that number?” “Because that is the mandated formula.” “But, why?” “I don’t know.” They sat in my office and did not quit until they had the answer as to why. They shared it with me. I never understood it. I never needed to. It didn’t change the fact that I had to use this specific formula, and it wasn’t anything I cared to take the time to figure out. I kept that piece of paper in my desk for years, though, and every time another scientist came in and asked me why, I showed them the calculations. They were always happy to see the work…

For them, the why is more than idle curiosity; it’s compulsion!


We work very well together. They appreciate me because I am very methodical and I keep them on point. I appreciate them because they keep me on my toes.


We were talking about something in class today – I don’t remember what specifically – when one of them cut me off. “Wow. That is a big deal. Thanks for sharing that with us, Debbie. Why don’t we know this already? I mean, we are a group of intelligent people…..”

(I’m going to defend him here. He’s not being arrogant. They really are intelligent. He wasn’t trying to say they were better than anyone else; he was just saying, “How could we not possibly understand such a thing? It’s an incredibly relevant piece of information you’ve shared with us.” He was amazed.


My immediate response was,

Yes, you are intelligent but you only know the things you know about. That’s true for all of us. Just because you didn’t know this, doesn’t mean you’re not intelligent. You’re not intelligent about brain surgery either. You probably don’t know much about early childhood development, cosmetology, or the latest physical fitness protocols and programs.”


At the risk of sounding pompous in quoting myself, I have to say that I think this is a great answer!!!


It applies to so many things!


In fact, this very thing has cropped up from time to time in my health and fitness business too. Some people have felt “stupid” asking for help.

  • If you were raised eating a whole bunch of garbage, not learning how to properly fuel your body, how would you know?
  • If you were raised in a society that has always told you to eat less, and workout more in order to lose weight, how would you know that is not correct?
  • If you’ve been taught that carbohydrates (or fat) should be avoided (and some of those preaching this information are “experts”) why wouldn’t you believe it?


We all have our area of expertise.

You can know a lot about a lot of different things but none of us knows everything about everything.  Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 6.17.48 PM


So here’s my question to you:

How are YOU smarter than a rocket scientist?

What is the one thing you’re really into? So much that you have read, and studied, and researched?


For me it would definitely be health and fitness.  I’ve been interested in this since I was a teenager.  I remember my mother always saying, “Debbie will be out there running, even it it’s 100 degrees.  She will never stop exercising.”  It would also be scuba diving, and the classes that I teach in benefits/retirement.

Tricking Yourself into Health: Commitment Devices

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 12.49.00 AM


Back in May, I wrote Part I of this series. It was focused on Temptation Bundling. To call it Part I isn’t entirely accurate.  These are two separate but similar subjects.  It’s a companion piece.  You didn’t have to read that blog before reading this one. Any order is fine.

Now, let me say that I have no judgment on either of these topics. I’ve used both with varying degrees of success. My intent is merely to expose you to the widest array of options. We are all different. I’m hoping to help you find the perfect solution for YOU. Whether it works for your neighbor, your best friend, or me is irrelevant.


The basic premise for both temptation bundling and commitment devices is that there are a lot of activities we “should” do. We should eat well, get routine physicals and the occasional prostate or mammogram scans. We should exercise, have dental examinations and take prescribed medications.

Should is a big word in this context! While we would like to do everything we “should”, there are a lot of ways we avoid these well-intentioned things.

Temptation bundling joins one thing you want to start doing with one thing you love to do. For example, Katie Milkman (a key researcher on the topic) says, “I’ve realized that if I only allow myself to watch my favorite TV shows while exercising at the gym, I stop wasting time sitting in front of the television, and I crave trips to the gym where I watch my show. I actually enjoy both my workout and my show more when they’re combined. I don’t feel guilty for just sitting and watching TV, and my time at the gym flies by.”

It’s the old adage of “killing two birds with one stone”.


Commitment devices may be the antithesis to temptation bundling. Rather than joining two positive actions, there is a self-imposed action for not doing the things you “should”.

To be clear, it’s not about punishment for guilt’s sake.

Rather, I’m talking about the fact that you’ve decided you really want to change. You want to do something differently but you’re finding it difficult to implement your plan. It’s not that you lack will power. It’s that you are a human being.

No joke.

Behavioral economists can show, conclusively, that we have a hard time working toward “the future”. It’s always easier to say, “I’ll start tomorrow….and tomorrow…and tomorrow.” Tomorrow’s goals are frequently overtaken by today’s reality.

Psychologists have also proven that we have a problem following through on our intentions even when we’ve identified exactly what we want in the future. It’s not like, “You know, I really thought I wanted to get in shape but it turns out I just really wanted to sit in front of the television and eat a king-sized bag of chips every night.”

Even in hindsight, you regret not doing what you said you wanted to do. THIS is punishment for guilt’s sake.


What temptation bundling and commitment devices do, is move the consequence closer to action (or non-action as the case may be). They help bring tomorrow closer to today. Economist Jodi Beggs writes “Commitment devices are a way to overcome the discrepancy between an individual’s short-term and long-term preferences.”


Here are some creative ways are people holding themselves accountable with commitment devices.

– – Signing up for classes when, in theory you could just draw/run/paint/workout, whatever on your own but, without the commitment of the class you won’t. This definitely was a big one for me when I started exercising after a long break. I went to a 9 o’clock boot-camp class. I met some amazing people, and before long I was going to the class as much to see those folks, as I was to exercise.  It didn’t matter if I was tired or busy.  I was going!

– – Freedom ( allows you to pre-set how long you’d like to focus on projects, and it blocks access to the Internet for that amount of time. I spend far too much time online if I don’t use a commitment device. For me, it’s self-denial and an alarm clock. When I have work to get done (writing contracts or blogs, updating handbooks or making travel arrangements) I refuse to even open Facebook or my e-mail. “A quick check” frequently turns into hours before I know it. They are time sucks for sure! So, I set an alarm for an hour or two and just work. Only once the alarm goes off, do I allow myself social media access.

– – Using MasterCard’s inControl credit card that shuts off once a pre-set limit is reached.

– – Using NOTXT n’ Drive software which turns off texting capabilities when your car is moving.

— Beeminder ( allows you to pledge money that you will follow a quantifiable goal and then tracks your progress against your promised progress. If you go off track twice, you have to pay the amount of money you previously pledged.

– – Preventing drunk-dialing with apps like “Don’t Dial” and “The Bad Decision Blocker”. These are real!! You either set the block for certain time frames, after certain hours, or you set it as you go out for the evening.

– – Think Geek ( proposed a solution for over-sleeping by creating an alarm clock into which you would enter your credit card number. The clock would donate money to your most-hated cause if you hit the snooze button.



Are there any commitment devices you use to keep yourself on track?

Does temptation bundling or a commitment device work best for you?

How to Be a Girl & That Downstairs Equipment.

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.


Kelsea with her dad & sister

As I wrote in this blog initially, I’ve never considered myself a “feminist”. Stories like Kelsea’s are the reason the title seems more and more appropriate, though, as time goes on.

Kelsea is going to be 23 in August. She is amazing, intelligent, strong, caring, competent, and proficient at mixed martial arts. She and her husband own, and teach at, the School of the Living Arts in Yelm, Washington.  We worked out together a few months ago and she shared this story with me while we were in the gym. I think it helps to prove my point that body shaming is alive and well.  It also shows, extremely well, how you can do whatever your choose regardless.


A lot of people think it’s only those who are larger that get picked on but that’s simply not true. People judge you if they consider you “too fat”, “too skinny”, “too plain”, “too tall”, “too short”, “too anything” that is outside of their pre-determined ideal. People judge you if you don’t pursue the goals they deem as “acceptable” for you.


Here’s Kelsea’s story in her own words.

“Growing up with my dad, and being a martial artist, I realized at a young age that I wasn’t like other girls.

I didn’t identify with any of the girls at my school because my lifestyle was so different. While they were having sleep overs and trying out for cheerleading teams together, I was lifting weights and competing in international tournaments in Canada.

Working out meant that, as time went on, I started to look different than the other girls too. Some people criticized me for my petite frame and prominent muscles. I began to weigh more than the other girls, even though I was much smaller in stature. It took a huge toll on my self-confidence and esteem. I came home sad and confused quite often.


I started to dislike my body. The training served me well in my sport but I began to hate the way it made me look. I developed eating issues. I wore very baggy clothes. I became even less social. I wanted nothing more than to fade into the background. All around, I was a wreck.

On one hand, I had my father pushing me to become a better martial artist. On the other hand, I had everyone at school teasing me about being different.


Kelsea took 1st in forms and weapons. Denielle took 1st in forms and 2nd in weapons. <3

The biggest problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to be. All I knew was that girls were not supposed to have bigger muscles than the boys and they were not supposed to be able to literally beat them up. I knew I didn’t fit in.


By the end of middle school, it was more than I could take. I broke down in tears and told my dad I didn’t want to be a girl anymore. I was tired of being made fun of and it seemed the root of all my problems stemmed from me being a female. Because I was a girl I had become an outcast: for both my looks and my interests.

All I wanted was to be accepted for who I was and what I did. The easiest way for that to happen would be if I was a boy.

My dad looked at me, unsympathetically, and said, “What? You want a penis?”

At first I was in shock. I yelled back at him, “Of course not!”

How could he think that? Didn’t he understand my struggle?

I wanted to be a boy just so it would be ok for me to keep living my life as I wanted. I knew I would be happier and more accepted.

My dad just looked at me for a second.


Then he explained that the ONLY difference between a boy and me was that downstairs equipment. He told me that I could do anything I wanted regardless of how others treated me. What they thought of my body shape, my sport, or my personality shouldn’t have anything to do with how I thought of myself.


At the time, those words were not very comforting but over time I began implementing them. I had been the one limiting me. I had put restrictions on myself and it took me a long time to undo that mindset.


Eventually, though, I began to love my time in the gym because it would make me better on the mat. I no longer felt like I was missing out when I was training instead of going to dances. That was my choice.


Kelsea at 19

Kelsea at 19

I continued with martial arts and lifting weights through high school and college.  I no longer wore baggy clothes to hide my body. I started to feel pride. I started to feel comfortable in my own skin. I was a girl. I was a girl who enjoyed lifting weights, being active, and practicing martial arts. And this suited me just fine. I began to enjoy being me.

As I got older, my dad’s words became the words I lived by. They are the words I repeated to myself each time I felt self-doubt.

I am no longer embarrassed or ashamed of my body. I understand that I am a unique individual and there is no one exactly like me. I am no longer constrained by gender roles or stereotypes.


  • Being a girl doesn’t mean I have to conform to what I thought society wanted me to be. That’s society’s issue, not mine.
  • Being a girl doesn’t mean I have to accept different limits or more restrictions.
  • Being a girl doesn’t take anything away from me. It makes me stronger. I’ve learned how to overcome obstacles that not everyone comes across.
  • Being a girl does not mean I have to be weak and submissive. I can be as strong as I like.


In fact, it doesn’t matter what your gender, age, shape, or experience is. A positive mindset is the first step to accomplishing whatever you set out to do. Then, make it happen.  You are enough! Don’t undermine yourself based on someone else’s views or thoughts. You don’t have to agree with them, and you certainly don’t have conform to their ideas of what you should be.  Live your life as you see fit. Be you.  Do what makes you happy.”

Avoiding a Train Wreck: Curbing Emotional Eating

Guest blog by Becky Williams | B Kinetic Fitness



Hi.  My name is Debbie.  I am an emotional eater.  Always have been.  Likely always will be.

Being aware that emotions are food triggers for me, though, I’ve spent a bit of time seeking better ways to  deal with my feelings.  Of course I’m not alone!  Emotional eating is something many of us struggle with.

My colleague, and fellow trainer Becky Williams at and I discussed the issue in some detail this week since we’re both helping clients develop ways to handle it, and we’ve both written about the topic.  Becky in February (Feelingz) and me in March (5 Strategies).  Becky’s mission is to help women find the strength inside and out to live the kind of life they desire, to find joy in movement, and to feel like they can take on the world.  Here’s what she had to say about emotional eating:



If you’re like most women, you’ve had nights when you get home from a crazy busy, stressful day at work or the kids were driving you bonkers all day and all you can think about is downing a glass of wine (or two or three) or diving headfirst into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Or maybe you have ironclad willpower all day, eating all the right foods, but you find yourself sitting on the couch after dinner and you hear the chips or cookies in the pantry calling your name. And before you know it, half the bag is gone or the wine bottle’s half empty, and you wonder what just happened. Been there, done that.

How many times when you did give into those emotion-triggered cravings do you feel guilty or maybe even a little ashamed afterwards? Again, I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt. You’re definitely not alone in your struggle.

Most of us know what to eat — lean proteins, veggies, fruit, healthy fats. The catch is that there is oftentimes a huge gap between knowledge and implementation. Even fitness professional such as myself struggle with that piece. Why is this? Why can’t we bridge that gap? Sometimes the answer lies not in what we eat, but in why we eat what we eat.

First off, we are human, and human beings are not by nature rational creatures. Sometimes our need for immediate relief or comfort hijacks our rational side and our desire to change. You can really, really want something — lose 20 lbs., get some muscle definition in your arms, or just get healthier and more energetic to hang with your kids — and still struggle to not give in to emotional eating. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, undisciplined, or not committed to your goals. It just means you’ve got some stuff to work on (and don’t we all?). Self-compassion will get you further to your goals and the kind of life you want to lead than guilt or shame.

[[Right, Becky!!!!!  I really harp on this myself.  If we don’t learn to like ourselves as we’re working on things, we won’t like ourselves even if/when we reach our goals!  I think this is so important!]]


Emotional eating is an impulse. It can happen without us fully realizing what’s going on. It’s said that the time between an impulse and action is half a second. No wonder it’s so hard to stop doing! If we work on increasing that time so that we can be more mindful of what’s really going on and if we’re actually hungry, we’ll have a greater chance at success.


So how do we do this?

I once had a client who struggled with mindless night time eating. So he set an alarm to remind himself to not eat those snacks. At first, I thought, why would you want to remind yourself to not eat? Wouldn’t that backfire and trigger cravings and make you more likely to eat? But no, it actually reminded him of his goals and if he was elbow deep in a bag of chips at the time, he had that reminder that he was trying to break this bad habit. Sometimes we actually forget what we’re trying to accomplish. We just get sucked into the daily minutiae and everything else gets thrown out the window. We always automatically revert to our habits, good or bad. It’s the path of least resistance for our poor, frazzled brains.


Here are some other ideas for reminders:

Post-Its (on your laptop, calendar, fridge, kitchen counter, steering wheel, etc.)

Sending an email reminder to yourself or having a friend check in with you every day

Smartphone wallpaper

Laptop screensaver

Note in your wallet or purse

Piece of jewelry, like a bracelet or ring (something always visible)


Next, take an emotional inventory.  Evaluate without judgement. We’re not trying to punish ourselves for being weak or undisciplined. We’re just increasing awareness.  Ask yourself these questions (actually write them down!) and get as detailed as possible:

When do you feel:





Not good enough?


What do you usually do when you are experiencing those feelings?

Do you ever use food or another habit (smoking, alcohol, retail therapy) as a distraction to avoid feeling those emotions (boredom, disappointment, fear, anxiety, sadness)?

When does this usually happen? How does it drive your behavior?


This can be a very uncomfortable process. It may unearth some deep, dark stuff that you’ve been avoiding for years. It may be something that’s just simply a habit that’s been really tough to break. But we have to get out of our comfort zone if we want to change, and that is especially true for emotional eating.

This process isn’t an overnight thing. It doesn’t just click one day and you’re good to go for the rest of your life. I still work on this, and I don’t always succeed. But I do show myself a little compassion and analyze the situation to do better next time. What emotion was I feeling? Was I fatigued or stressed? Was I alone or in a group? What happened to trigger those feelings? What can I do instead the next time that happens?


Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, in fact, I experienced this myself. I was feeling frustrated and cranky about something (I can’t even remember what it was!) one night and gave into eating a piece of frosted sheet cake that was sitting on the kitchen counter. It was really good, but I wouldn’t have eaten it otherwise. My willpower was drained, and I gave in. Instead of feeling guilty about, like I would have in the past, I acknowledged that it was an emotional response triggered by being tired and feeling frustrated and stressed. I made a mental note that I need to step away from the kitchen and do something a little more constructive when I’m in that kind of situation, like read, journal, stretch, or do a few yoga poses.

You are stronger than you think. Sometimes we just need a little help or introspection to get to the heart of what’s really going on to cause these episodes. And of course, if this is a more serious issue for you, with frequent episodes of binging, please see a licensed medical professional for help.

[[Again, I have to second Becky’s input here!!!  I see many “coaches” and multi-level marketers, these days, providing information about bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders.  Only medical providers are licensed – and able – to help with these incredibly complex and potentially life-threatening issues.  Please seek professional help.]]


Emotional eating is a struggle for so many women, but it’s something that can be worked on with a little introspective work and daily practice. Remember to show yourself some compassion and give yourself the space and time to figure this thing out. It will take time, but it does get easier.

Are Other People Making you Eat?

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.



As we approach Independence Day, I want to talk about breaking free.

Breaking free from eating because someone else is eating.

Breaking free from eating because someone else expects you to.

Breaking free from blaming other people in your life for making you fat.


Do you know what I’m talking about?


More than once I’ve talked about the fact that my mother fed me. I mean she FED me. All the time. There was food to celebrate, food to make me “feel better”, food because I was “eating for two” and food to calm my anger or disappointment. She still tries to feed me. Whenever I am fortunate enough to visit, she makes me special treats from my childhood, or takes me out to eat (multiple times if there’s any way to fit it into my schedule). I feel guilty if she went out of her way to get something for me and I don’t eat it.


A friend of mine just met a new guy and she’s finding it difficult to focus on fat loss while dating. “Going out on dates isn’t great for the diet.”


That never gets better, by the way. I’ve been married for over 20 years. Last night my husband wanted pizza. His question before actually going to get one was, “if I get a pizza, will you share it with me?” It’s easier for both of us to eat pizza if we’re both eating pizza.


You go out with friends and find yourself ordering drinks, eating bread, or getting dessert – not because you necessarily feel like you want those things but because your friends are having them so, naturally, so will you. It’s okay as long as you’re not the only one.


Fact is, humans are social creatures. We find solace and comfort in doing what the people around us are doing.


When it comes to eating, psychologist John de Castro has conducted several studies to look at how eating with others affects food intake. “Meals eaten with one other person present were 33% larger than meals eaten alone, whereas 47%, 58%, 69%, 70%, 72%, and 96% increases were associated with two, three, four, five, six, and seven or more people present, respectively.”


That means when we eat with other people, on average, we consume 44% more than when dining alone!


A successive study showed eating with family or friends can be even worse. In fact, 23% and 14% worse, respectively, than meals eaten with other people.


Here’s another interesting fact in the studies and then I’ll leave you alone.

I LOVE these kinds of studies!!

I LOVE studying human behavior.

We are fascinating creatures.


So, did you know that we eat fastest when we eat alone, faster with our families, and slowest with friends? There’s some proof that the longer we spend at the table, the more we’ll eat.


Now, knowing these things and doing something about them are separate issues.

What can you do?




The initial step to dealing with any issue is first identifying that it’s an issue. If you know you’re likely going to eat more just because other people are eating more, you’ll think about that as you sit down.


Use that information to make a mindful decision about what you’re going to have.

(See II)




Look at the menu (most are online today so you can even prepare well in advance if you’d like) and decide what you’re having before asking everyone else at the table, “what are you getting?”


As Jill Coleman (JillFitPhysiques. If you’re not already following her, you should be) said in a post earlier this morning, “I stay mindful of my choices. I make them from a place of personal awareness and genuine introspection about where MY hunger, cravings, stress, fullness, mood, boredom, etc. are currently.”


I also need to accept personal responsibility. It’s not fair of me to blame my feelings on other people. My mother is not trying to make me feel guilty. She’s trying to make me happy. The emotion I actually feel is MY feeling. It’s really got very little to do with the other person. The way I handle this is typically to express gratitude for what the person is giving me. I may ask them to share it with me, take a bite or two, or explain that I’m not hungry right now and I’m excited about saving this treat for later when I can really enjoy it. The difference is, these actions put me in control versus making me a victim.




I love spending time with friends and family. While I try to schedule active things for us to do, the fact is, many times we’re sharing meals together.


If that’s the case, try to focus on the social aspect: the conversation, the company, and time together. People generally aren’t paying attention to what you eat unless you make it a big deal. It’s easy enough for me to start by enjoying a glass or two of water with lemon as we sit down. I may have a glass of wine with dinner but I probably don’t need three or four (that’s just me…).


I can easily order a salad or some vegetables as an appetizer.  Or, I can nibble on some of the appetizers brought to the table for us to share. Dessert can be another great thing to share. Many restaurants also offer mini-sized sweets these days. A bite or two can often soothe that sweet tooth.


No one is going to bat an eye if I order a meal containing some type of protein, veggies, and perhaps a starch. Again, unless I personally make a big deal of it by complaining that I’m on a diet, or saying “I really want xyz but I shouldn’t, so I’m ordering abc instead.” You’re not a victim. You choose to eat whatever it is that you want. If you’re making a choice to eat healthy – good for you!!! That’s awesome. That’s not a negative thing to complain about.



What is a Tomboy, Gramma?

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

I’ve never considered myself a “feminist” and, to be honest, I still don’t although the title seems more and more appropriate as time goes on. I hate labels and I really dislike lumping people into generic categories. I don’t believe any of us are just single -dimensional.

But there’s been a lot of “in my face” stuff recently.

We’ll attribute my comments to being on yet another plane, hearing yet another woman say, “I need to wait for a strong man to come put my suitcase into the overhead bin.” You’ve heard that rant before so I’ll spare you the diatribe here.

My 8-year old grandson asked me the other day, “What is a Tomboy?”

He had heard the term at school. Intrigued by the question, I asked him what HE thought it was. He originally said, “A girl who wear’s boys’ clothes, does boy things and wants to be a boy.” I asked for clarification. Boy’s clothes are, evidently, jeans, plain tee shirts and tuxedos. What? I know a lot of guys that run around in tuxedos every day. Don’t you? I have no idea where that came from!!! He defined girl’s clothes as dresses. Boy things are fishing and hunting. Girls just like flowers. There are even boy and girl tattoos!! Girls can get butterflies, steering wheels (…this was actually a nod to his cousin who has a ship’s wheel tattoo) and hearts. Boys get everything else.

Okay, I think we can all agree that Hayden’s list is a little silly, and as imaginative as many other things he talks about. He’s not been taught any of this. He’s heard things and he’s just trying to figure out the world he lives in.

But think about it.


How would you define a “Tomboy”?

Think about that question for just 30 seconds before you continue reading.






Did you think about it?

One of my friends said, “it’s a girl who is more interested in sports than dolls.” And, I do agree. Somewhere within our society we created these things for girls and different things for boys. Girls are supposed to be calm and docile. Boys are rambunctious and adventurous.


The fact is that I’ve been referred to as a Tomboy my entire life. I went hunting and fishing. I worked on cars. I ran fast and got muddy. I rode dirt bikes and snowmobiles. I carried in more firewood than anyone else because I was proud of being strong. I rarely wore dresses. I shot handguns in steel target competitions back when my husband and I were dating (of course he married me…..). He can confirm the number of times I was asked if I was carrying my boyfriend’s gun. That stopped after a few competitions but I always felt like I had to prove, not only that I had a right to be there, but also that women had a right to participate. There was that salesman at Dick’s Sporting Goods on Mother’s Day who asked how my husband’s back was when he was picking up a squat rack for me; and the one at Wal-mart who said, “those 25 pounds weights are heavy. Is someone going to come in and help you carry them out?’ No lie. Yup, that really did happen.


It’s been happening for a long time. When my son was 4, he got off the Headstart bus one afternoon and said, “My friend Tommy says you can’t ride that motorcycle, mom, because you are a girl.” Joe had never before thought it weird that I had a motorcycle. In fact he loved riding with me. It was just something I did…..until that day, when another 4 year old little boy planted the seed that there are certain things girls shouldn’t/can’t do.

Of course I proceeded to tell both boys that girls can do whatever they want! So can boys. We can all hunt or fish. We can all cook, or sew, lift and run, play with dolls or tractors. We can race motorcycles and make things with our hands. We can all get muddy – or not. Some of us are better at certain things than others. But it’s not because we’re boys or girls.


Here are a couple of other examples I’ve heard recently, from adults, not young children.


Two men talking in the sporting goods section after they had stopped by the gun counter where a female sales associate was working. “Wow. I have to say that I’m impressed she actually knows about firearms.” I bet you $1 million that statement would not have been made if the salesperson been a male.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 4.02.26 PM



Watching dirt bike racing in May when Vicki Golden made history by becoming the first female to qualify for the “Fast  40”, the riders that transition to the night program from times qualifying. I asked who she was and the response I received was, “some girl who’s trying to get into Super Cross.” Trying to get in? It seems she’s right there…..IN….racing.




I could go on and on but I won’t. Rather, I’ll leave you with these links if you’re interested (and have the time) to look at some other examples.

Only males can be taken seriously in math and science.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 4.04.12 PM


We use, “Like a girl” as an insult.


Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 4.07.52 PM













Girls don’t just do “Powder Puff” racing, you know.


In the meantime, here’s what I personally told Hayden. “Tomboy” is a word we used to use a long time ago, but it’s not a word we should use any more because there is no such thing.

No boy things. No girl things. Just human things.”

One of my friend’s put it this way: “A girl who does not fit inside societies mold”. I love that!! We need to change this ridiculous mold.

Tricking Yourself into Health: Temptation Bundling

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.07.53 AMDebbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

I love behavioral economics because it studies how and why people actually do what they do. Recently some of my favorite economists have been studying human nature in the health and wellness arena. For me, it’s a phenomenal combination.

Stephen Dubner, an award-winning author and economist himself, defines behavioral economics as, “a marriage between the economist’s view of incentives with the psychologist’s view that most people don’t respond to incentives as rationally as economic theory would predict. It is a field that appreciates simple, clever solutions.”

How do we “make” people exercise, get their physicals or other recommended exams, and/or do the things they know are good for them? Let’s face it, there are a lot of activities we know we “should” do. There are also a lot of ways that we avoid these things.

I mean, we all know that physical activity is something we “should” do. We all know “should” eat well and we know that the prostate exam or mammogram is recommended for a reason. So why don’t we “just do it?”

Katherine Milkman, Assistant Professor at the Wharton School, has a theory. She has done a lot of study on how people make choices and knows that we don’t like limits. One reason we fail is because we don’t like being forced to choose between competing interests.

For example, “Should I exercise after a long day at work, or veg out by watching television and enjoying some mindless relaxation, or get some personal work done toward my goals?“

I can only pick one.


With Temptation Bundling, Ms. Milkman suggests we don’t have to pick only one.

She prefers to “join one thing we may avoid with one thing we love to do but isn’t necessarily productive.”


As Temptation Bundling shows some promise in being applied to help people in their daily lives, Dubner interviewed Ms. Milkman for his Freakonomics podcast entitled, “When Willpower Isn’t Enough” on March 13, 2015. In that interview, Milkman said, “What I’ve realized is that if I only allow myself to watch my favorite TV shows while exercising at the gym, I stop wasting time sitting in front of the television, and I crave trips to the gym where I watch my show. I actually enjoy both my workout and my show more when they’re combined. I don’t feel guilty for just sitting and watching TV, and my time at the gym flies by.”

It’s the old adage of “killing two birds with one stone”.


  • I listen to business podcasts when I’m walking. It’s the only time I have but co-joining the two also ensures I make time for both.
  • I only listen to music in the gym.
  • I tried walking on the treadmill while writing for work, but that didn’t work. I spent a lot of time standing on the treadmill, reading and writing, but I spent very little time typing.

Milkman’s examples include:

  • Only getting a pedicure while catching up on overdue emails.
  • Listening to her favorite music only while catching up on household chores, or
  • Going to a favorite restaurant only while spending time with a difficult relative who she should see more of.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.05.33 AM


She’s an economist, so this is not just Milkman’s opinion. She has conducted research into whether temptation bundling actually works. With co-authors Julia Minson and Keven Volpp, their paper “Holding The Hunger Games Hostage at the Gym: An Evaluation of Temptation Bundling” define the topic as, “a positive method for simultaneously tackling two types of self-control problems.”


It will be interesting to see the supplemental data of future research. In the meantime, the first study was done with students at the University of Pennsylvania who said they wanted to exercise more. All participants were paid for being in the study that lasted for nine weeks.


The students was broken into three segments.

GROUP I:  Students were provided an iPod preloaded with four audio novels (from a list of 82 that had been rated as “very difficult to put down”) of their choosing. The books were broken down into 30-minute segments and the iPod was held at the gym so students could only listen while they were physically within the facility.


GROUP II:  Students were provided audio novels of their choosing which were then loaded onto their personal devices. They were encouraged to only listen while exercising at the gym but that rule would need to be self-imposed. It was not “required” as in the fist group.


GROUP III:  Students did not receive the audio novel. Rather, they received an equally valued Barnes & Noble gift certificate. They were strongly encouraged to exercise more.






Before you read further, do you have any guesses as to what the study showed?








Seriously – don’t read the answer until you decide whether you think this would work or not. I was tempted not to send the answer in the same e-mail….






Here’s what happened.

For the first 7 weeks, Group I exercised significantly more than Group III.

Group II weighted out right in the middle.


After 7 weeks, all of the students went home for Thanksgiving break.

The gym was closed for a week.

When students returned, Milkman and her colleagues, found no residual difference between the three group’s exercise rates. It was as if, with a week off, students lost their interest in the novels.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.06.41 AM


A new study is being conducted and includes the use of Fitbits where physical activity will actually be tracked, not merely whether or a not a person entered the gym.

I think temptation bundling could provide some long-term benefits.

What’s your opinion?

Do you already do some form of temptation bundling?

Can you think of something new you might try?


Next week I will write about our second brain hack: commitment devices. It may be the antithesis to temptation bundling. Rather than join two positive actions, we will talk about a self-imposed “penalty” for not doing the things you “should” do.



In case you are (also) a geek who wants to read the original research, here is a link



The Tide Goes Out: Emotional Mud Flats


Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.


I LOVE (love, love,love) the water. Always have. I love to be near it, walk beside it, be in it, be under it. Even when we lived in Vegas, I would seek out the water. We spent days kayaking at Lake Mead, hiking to the Colorado River, and learning to SUP at Lake Las Vegas.

If I wrote my perfect day for you, it would look like this:

Wake up on the boat, just before sunrise. Wrap in a cozy blanket and go topside to grab a coffee and relax in my favorite chair while listening to sounds of the ocean and watching the sun slowly rise. After a nice breakfast, I’d don dive gear and submerge into my underwater paradise. I’d stay there as long as I could (luckily I only sip air and my dives can easily last a while), taking in the sites and reveling in the underwater beauty. Top side to lounge in the sun for a surface interval. Repeat. Yes, THAT would be a phenomenal day. That is how I would like to spend every one.

But to get back to the moral of my story…


My love of the water started at a young age, I suppose, but to me, it’s ALWAYS been there. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small town in rural Maine so I ienhaled the salty air for much of my life.

Clams   Clams2


If you’ve been there, you know that the tide ranges can vary greatly between high and low tide.

If you haven’t been there, let me explain. There can be a difference of 9-11 feet depending on whether the tide is in or out. That’s in the southern part of the state and the difference can be up to 19 feet in the north. In fact, the Bay of Fundy, located on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine, is known for having the highest tidal range in the world: up to 50 feet!!!



This morning I was thinking about my range of emotions over just this past week. They have been as high and as low as the tide in Maine. Feelings and emotions are like that. They ebb and flow. For all of us.

Last week I was incredibly frustrated and overwhelmed.

I wrote to a group of girlfriends: “My schedule has gotten out of hand. I’m always busy, but lately I’ve been getting up at 5:30 every day. I have exactly 1 hour to myself to check email, FB, etc. Then I get dressed, drive to wherever my class for the day is and I’m in the classroom from 7:30 until 4:30 or 5 o’clock. After class I’ve been driving for a couple of hours to get to the new location, while trying to grab a workout here or there, write proposals, respond to clients, return phone calls, etc. In bed around 11 or 12 (sometimes later) just to get up and do it all again the next day. I’m tired and frustrated.”

They were positive and supported me.

That’s one thing that’s valuable when the tide goes out: someone else there to help you negotiate around the sink holes – or to help pull you out if you get stuck. These sink holes are not like the ones you see in Florida, swallowing homes; or Bowling Green last year gobbling up 8 corvettes.

DiggerNo. A sink-hole on the mud flats is a big soupy, super-soft mud that you can sink into.

Even if your support system is a “system of one”, call that person. Write to that person. Talk to that person, and be honest (with you and them) about what you’re feeling.

During low tide, you might find that you need to go slow. So, too, with low emotions.  Take things a little slower. Apply some self-compassion. But keep going because the tide is coming in. It always does. During that feeling of overwhelm, it can be difficult to remain positive. It can be difficult to remind yourself (AND believe) that things are going to work out.

When that emotional tide is out and you’re in the mire of mud flats, you need to keep trudging along. Put one heavy foot in front of the other…take a short break if you need to and, then….move the other foot.

The tide will eventually come in – it’s a cycle – it always does. With water and emotions.

My emotional tide has come in.  This morning I wrote: “I’ve been home for 36 hours and while I will get back on the road later this afternoon, these visits refresh me. At this moment, standing in my own kitchen as my husband and the mini schnauzer continue to sleep, I feel like I can conquer the world.”

I wish this feeling would last but it won’t. The tide comes in.  The tide goes out.

I’m not depressed about that and it doesn’t overshadow the feeling I have today.

I’m just going to take it in.

I’m enjoying the high tide.